The Missing Ship - The Log of the "Ouzel" Galley
by W. H. G. Kingston
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"There he is, crowing as loud as ever," thought Gerald, as he remarked the consequential air with which the old mate walked the deck and shouted to the men. The lately trim corvette was much knocked about; besides the loss of her main-topmast, many of her other spars had been wounded, her sails riddled with shot, while her bulwarks and deck had been torn open in several places, one of her guns disabled, and most of her boats damaged.

The first person he met who had time to exchange a word with him was the purser. "What, Tracy," he exclaimed, "you still in the land of the living! I had written D at the end of your name; I shall have the trouble of crossing it out again. We were going to put up your effects for sale to-morrow."

"Much obliged to you, sir," answered Gerald, "and must apologise for giving you so much trouble. Were Mr Foley's effects to be sold at the same time? I suppose Beater or Crowhurst expect to get promoted in his place."

"Beater has got all the promotion he ever will, poor fellow," answered Mr Cheeseparings; "he was the only officer killed in our late action, though we had six men wounded. But Crowhurst is looking forward to get his lieutenancy to a certainty."

"I concluded that he would do so; but as Mr Foley happens to be alive, he will be rather disappointed," said Gerald.

"Dear me! has he escaped too?" exclaimed the purser. "Well, though I haven't to sell his effects, I really am glad; and so, I am sure, will be Billhook and Mac."

"If you'll excuse me, sir, I'll go and communicate the pleasing intelligence to Crowhurst, who will, I hope, rejoice as much as the gun-room officers," said Gerald. Directly afterwards he met Nat Kiddle. "Come along," he said, "and see me pull old Crowhurst down a peg or two."

The two midshipmen met Crowhurst coming aft. "What, youngster, are you alive?" he exclaimed. "I shall have some work for you and Kiddle directly."

"Yes, old fellow, I'm alive and well," answered Gerald, "and will return to my duty as soon as the commander or one of the lieutenants orders me."

"Let me tell you, youngster, I don't choose to be called old fellow, and as I am acting lieutenant, you will obey my orders."

"Certainly," said Gerald, "till Mr Foley returns, which I expect he will do this evening."

"What—you don't mean to say so!—did Mr Foley escape with you?" exclaimed the old mate, his countenance falling, and his whole air changing in a moment. Gerald then, with infinite satisfaction, described the way he and the lieutenant had been left on board the Ouzel Galley. Not being required just then, he dived into the berth to recount his adventures to the rest of his messmates.

In a short time the two frigates came in, and anchored near the Champion, where already lay several other large ships of war forming the Jamaica fleet, under the command of Admiral Cotes. Gerald found his messmates not very much out of spirits at the loss of Beater. The old mate's body lay between two guns, covered by an ensign; and it, with that of two other men who had been killed, was carried on shore and buried in the graveyard of Port Royal, where so many gallant British seamen sleep their last.

Meantime Mr Ferris and Ellen had gone on shore, escorted by Lieutenant Foley. Those were the palmy days of Kingston. Men-of-war and privateers were constantly coming in with rich prizes, whose cargoes added greatly to the wealth of the city; the streets were crowded with blacks carrying bales of all descriptions to the stores; merchants' clerks were hurrying to the quays to superintend the unloading of vessels, and naval and military officers were moving about in all directions; the seamen on leave were rolling here and there, shouting forth their sea ditties; while black and brown women with baskets of fruit and vegetables were standing at the corners of the streets, often surrounded by a party of Jack-tars, who quickly emptied them of their contents.

A short walk soon brought the lieutenant and his friends to the counting-house of Mr Thomas Twigg, the agent of the firm, and a relative of one of the partners. They were at once shown to a large airy room over the office, looking out on the harbour, containing a table spread for luncheon, consisting of numerous West Indian delicacies. Mr Twigg, of course, pressed the lieutenant to remain.

"You don't know whether your ship has come in, and even if she has, they've got on very well without you, and an hour more or less can make no difference," he observed. Norman Foley was in no hurry to take his departure. "Mr and Miss Ferris are coming to my pen, about five miles off," continued Mr Twigg, "and I hope you will accompany them. We shall start in about a couple of hours, when there will be more shade on the road than there is at present."

The lieutenant, very unwillingly, was compelled to decline the invitation, but agreed to remain to see his friends off. On hearing of Gerald, Mr Twigg insisted on sending on board the Ouzel Galley to invite him, and Gerald afterwards found that in his eagerness to witness the disappointment of his messmate he had thereby lost a pleasant expedition, he having left the ship before the message arrived on board; but, soon afterwards, who should come in but Captain Olding, who was so delighted to find that his lieutenant and midshipman had escaped, that he at once gave them both leave to accept Mr Twigg's invitation. Norman Foley had the happiness of accompanying Ellen in one carriage, while Mr Ferris and his friend, who had much to talk about, went in another. Ellen was, of course, delighted with the scenery and the tropical vegetation, so new to her, though she possibly did not examine them as minutely as she might have done under other circumstances: Norman would have to leave her in a day or two, and he might not return for a long time. She had heard her father say that he expected shortly to accompany Mr Twigg to an estate on the other side of the island, and even should Norman's ship come into Port Royal, he might not be able to pay her a visit. Of course he promised to come if he could, even though he might be able to remain only a few hours. Bellevue was a beautiful spot about fifty miles off, on the other side of the Blue Mountains, a short distance from Saint Ann's Bay, and Norman hoped that his ship might be cruising off the north coast, and that he would then have an opportunity of seeing her. At all events, they neither of them were more unhappy than was necessary at the thoughts of their approaching separation.

On their arrival at East Mount, Mr Twigg's country house, Ellen was amused by the number of black slaves who rushed out to receive them, chattering and laughing, and doing their best to welcome the strangers. The house was a one-storied building, with a broad verandah round it, standing on the summit of a hill of considerable elevation overlooking the plain, with Kingston and the harbour in the distance; it was thus exposed to the sea breeze, so necessary to anything like enjoyment in the tropics. Mrs Twigg, a buxom little lady—a fitting partner to her sprightly, jovial spouse—received Ellen with a hearty welcome to Jamaica. She evidently saw how matters stood between her and the young lieutenant, and, as far as her sense of the duties of a hostess would allow her, left them together as much as they could desire, while Mr Ferris and her husband were for the greater part of the day absent at Kingston. Those two days while Norman remained at East Mount were among the brightest they had hitherto enjoyed. The place seemed a perfect Eden, with its green lawn kept ever verdant by the sparkling stream which flowed down on one side from the hill above, bordered by the graceful and variously shaped trees of the tropics—the tall maple arrow, surrounded by its flowering crown of yellow; the Spanish needle, with its dagger-like leaves; the quilled pimploe, a species of cactus; and numberless others, from the branches of which hung lilac and purple wreaths in rich festoons—while the sweet notes of the feathered songsters ever and anon burst forth, and here and there could be seen tiny humming-birds flitting from flower to flower, fluttering for a moment and then darting off with the speed of lightning, their gem-like plumage glittering in the sun.

Ellen and Norman, though they often talked of the past, spoke most of the future, when he should have gained his promotion, and, the war being over, might quit the service without dishonour and live on shore.

After arranging his affairs in Jamaica, which he believed would occupy some months, Mr Ferris proposed returning to Ireland. He intended to make the voyage in the Ouzel Galley when she could sail under safe convoy. In the mean time he expected to spend two or three months at Bellevue, and Norman hoped that they might there again meet. Happily for themselves, they were ignorant of the dark storm which was brewing over the island.

At length Norman's leave expired, and he had to return on board the Champion. A few days afterwards Mr Ferris and Ellen, accompanied by Mr and Mrs Twigg and their family, set off across the island for Bellevue.



The Ouzel Galley was soon unloaded. Some time, however, was spent in repairing the damages she had received from the pirate, after which Owen was preparing to take on board a fresh cargo, when he received orders to proceed round to Montego Bay, where a large amount of produce, which the firm had purchased from a neighbouring estate, was awaiting shipment.

"You will run but little risk, I hope, from the enemy's cruisers, and against them we have at all events insured, though not to the full amount, for we know that we can trust to the sailing qualities of the Ouzel Galley, and to your courage, judgment, and seamanship," wrote Mr Ferris. "If a convoy can be procured, you will of course take advantage of it; but if not, so great is the importance of getting the produce home without delay, that we leave it to your discretion to sail alone, should you judge that to be most to our interest. You are also at liberty to increase your armament by two or four guns, if you can carry them, and not only to replace the men you lost in your action with the pirate, but to add ten or a dozen more hands if you can obtain them. You will thus, we hope, be able to beat off any of the enemy's smaller cruisers or such a piratical craft as attacked us coming out; though you will, of course, use all the means in your power to avoid a contest and to make the best of your way home."

Owen was naturally flattered with the letter, though he considered that the dangers he would have to encounter were much greater than those he was likely to meet with in a run home under a sufficient convoy. Gerald, who had been to Kingston, was paying him a visit on board on his way down.

"I wish that I could go with you," he exclaimed, "and so, I dare say, will our second lieutenant. It isn't far off, I fancy, from where Mr Ferris is staying. I'll tell Foley—though I don't think there's much chance of his getting leave, and we shall be sent to sea as soon as we are ready, for the admiral isn't the man to let the grass grow on the bottom of any of his ships."

"I wish that you could come, for I shall find it rather solitary," said Owen. "However, I see no chance of that, and I will now go on shore to get the guns—I'll have the four of them—to order some of the stores I require, and to do what I can to pick up men."

"I'll try to pay you another visit," said Gerald, as he was about to step into the boat alongside. "If I don't see you again, remember to give my love to my father and Norah—and may you have a prosperous trip home."

While Gerald went down the harbour, Owen landed, taking with him Dan and Pompey. The purchase of the guns was an easy matter, as there were plenty to be had, taken out of prizes. He chose two long brass guns, 9-pounders, and two short ones of heavier calibre. The stores were quickly ordered, too; but to procure the men was more difficult. It would be hopeless to expect to get them at all, were he particular as to how he got them or what class of men he got. Still, if he could have his choice, he would take a smaller number of good men rather than his complement of inferior hands. There were, of course, crimps who would be ready to supply him, and he was compelled to apply to one of these personages, who promised to send him on board six or eight hands before next morning. In the mean time Pompey met two old shipmates, blacks like himself, for whom he could answer; and Dan fortunately found a countryman of his own, also a trusty fellow. With these three hands Owen returned to the ship, and the following day the guns and stores were received on board, the former mounted on their carriages and the latter stowed away. Sufficient hands only were wanting to enable him to sail. His friend, the crimp, was as good as his word; which was not surprising, considering that he was to be well paid for it. Towards evening a boat came alongside with the crimp and six men, two of whom only were sitting upright, while the rest were lying along the thwarts. Jonas Jobson, the crimp, a big-boned mulatto, dressed in a broad-brimmed hat, nankeen trousers, and a white jacket, dispensing with a shirt or other clothing, came up the side.

"Dere dey are, cappen," he said, "prime seamen when dey come to demself, and only just a little drunkee now. Dese two will answer for dem. Here, you come up, Sam Tar, and you, Jack Noddin."

The two men summoned managed to get up the side, though it was very evident that they were half-seas over. Still they answered for themselves in a tolerably satisfactory manner, and assured the captain that they knew the others, who were as good seamen as ever stepped— only, when they could get a drop of liquor, they would. "There's no denying of it," said Sam Tar, "and so do I—only I knows when to stop, and they don't;" and Sam gave a lurch against Mr Jobson, which called forth an angry rebuke from that gentleman. Owen was not, as may be supposed, altogether satisfied, however. The men were hoisted on board and laid on the deck. Except for their breathing, they might have been so many corpses, so utterly helpless were they.

"You've brought me a pretty lot," said Owen; "they're not likely to come to till I get to sea, and then it's more than probable, to my mind, that they'll not be worth their salt. You should have brought off sober men, that I might have judged of them."

"Ah, cappen, you berry hard on me. How could I keep the men sober? And berry likely if I did dey not come 'tall," answered Mr Jobson, with wonderful effrontery. "You werry 'tickler; oder cappens take any dey can get—drunkee or no drunkee, dese men prime hands when dey come to demself."

Still Owen was firm in refusing to take the drunken men, even though Tar and Noddin muttered that if their mates did not join, neither would they; whereat Mr Jobson began to fear that he should have his labour for nothing, and calling for a bucket, filled it alongside and dashed it over the inanimate forms placed on deck. At first the shower-bath produced not the slightest effect, but after several buckets had been thrown over the men, one of them began to move and to stretch out his arms as if swimming; then another grunted, and desired with sundry unsavoury epithets to be left alone; while a third actually sat upright, and looked stupidly about him. The fourth, however, remained motionless as at first, when Mr Jobson threw another bucket of water over him. At last one of the mates lifted the man's arm; the moment he let go it fell to the deck. He then felt the hand.

"Why, Mr Jobson, you've brought us off a dead man!" he exclaimed. "He is as cold as ice already."

Mr Jobson stooping down, having convinced himself of the fact, coolly observed, "Why, he alive yesterday when he come to my house."

"Yes, and you allowed him to drink himself to death," said Owen. "You'll take him on shore with you, for he couldn't have died on board this vessel."

Mr Jobson demurred. "Why for dat?" he exclaimed. "You take him to sea and throw him oberboard; it save much trouble, and I no charge you for him."

"I should think not," observed Owen. "As for the other three, if Tar and Noddin are ready to answer for them, I will keep them, for they, at all events, are alive and likely to come to in a short time."

To Mr Jobson's disgust the corpse was lowered into the boat, when, having received the sum agreed on, he pulled on shore to give the best account of the matter he could. Owen knew that he would probably state that the man had died on board the Ouzel Galley, and he was taking him on shore to be buried; for in the West Indies in those days coroners would not be very particular in inquiring into the way seamen went out of the world. The three men who had been so unceremoniously treated, having been stripped of their clothes, were stowed away in their hammocks to recover from their drunken fit, the other two new hands being allowed also to turn in. Still, Owen would have been glad to have his full complement. He had intended to sail that night with the land wind as soon as the moon was up, and was seated in his cabin waiting for the pilot, and writing a report of his proceedings to Mr Ferris, when Dan announced that two men were in a boat alongside, who wished to see him. He went on deck and told the men to come on board. They did so; both of them were sailor-like fellows. One of them, stepping forward and doffing his hat, said, "I understand, Captain Massey, that you want some more hands. My mate and I are ready to ship for the run home at the wages you are offering. We were left behind by the Polly privateer, and as she has been taken by the French, we want to join another ship; we've no fancy for a man-o'-war, and have had only ill luck in privateering. My name's John Green, and his is Thomas Routh; I've been to sea for pretty nearly ten years, and he's been fifteen or more afloat—so, without boasting, I may say we're both of us able hands."

"You give a very satisfactory account of yourself and your mate, John Green," observed Owen. "Have you any certificates from the last vessels you served in?"

"Unfortunately we left them on board the Polly, sir, and are not likely ever to see them again," answered the man—"and we might enter on board a man-o'-war, as you know, sir, without any questioning; though, if you don't take us, there are plenty of other masters who won't be so particular. But to say the truth, sir, knowing your character, we've a mind to sail with you."

"That's a fact," said the other man, who had not yet spoken, and who seemed to be much older than his companion, and a rough fellow—his big whiskers and shaggy locks almost concealing his features, though he might not have been ill-looking had his hair been moderately trimmed. Owen, calling his first mate, asked his opinion of the men, and they both agreed that, as their story was probable and they had the cut of seamen, they were not likely to get better men. He accordingly entered them both. John Green was a fair-haired, ordinary-looking young man, rather more fluent of speech than might have been expected from his appearance, his countenance contrasting greatly with the hirsute, sunburnt visage of his mate.

Owen had finished his letters, and got them ready to send on shore by Dan. Among those for England were one for Captain Tracy and mother for Norah, for he could not tell when he might have another opportunity of writing. Soon afterwards the pilot came on board, the sails were loosed, the anchor hove short, and as soon as the boat returned the ship was got under way, and, the moon rising, she stood down the harbour with the wind abeam. As she got off Port Royal, the ship was hailed by a man-of-war's boat, and ordered to shorten sail; and the boat coming alongside, who should appear on deck but Gerald Tracy.

"I was sent to ascertain what ship this is, where you are bound to, and all other particulars; but as I happen to know, I needn't waste time in asking," said Gerald. "We've lost two or three hands lately, but as I know you've not got them, I needn't trouble you."

Owen felt considerable doubt whether he ought not to enlighten his careless young friend, whose duty it certainly was not to take anything for granted. However, he thought it very probable that if he did, he should lose some of his hands; they had come on board of their own accord, and he wanted them even more than did the Champion, which could easily supply their places. He therefore only replied that he was very glad Gerald had come, and as he was anxious to get to sea before the land wind failed, he should feel obliged if his young friend would make his visit as short as possible, and allow the ship to proceed.

"Yes, of course," answered Gerald; "but if you get home before I do, tell Norah that she may look out for a long letter, which I intend to write as soon as I have anything fresh to say. We hear that, while our ship is refitting, some of us are to be turned over to the Augusta, Captain Forrest; and as we are sure to have something to do, I shall have a long yarn to spin."

The young midshipman, who had been accompanied by Owen to the gangway, tumbled into his boat and pulled back to his ship, fully satisfied that he had done his duty. The harbour-master's boat having also paid the usual official visit and found all right, and the pilot having taken his departure, the Ouzel Galley stood out to sea under all sail. The soft moonbeams shed a bright light on the calm waters, just rippled over by the breeze, the wavelets sparkling like frosted silver. Having gained a sufficient offing, the Ouzel Galley hauled up to the westward and stood along the coast, lofty ridges rising on her starboard hand, while the broad expanse of the Caribbean Sea stretched away on the larboard side. The watch was set in charge of the first mate, but Owen had no intention of turning in; for, although few enemies were likely to approach the coast of Jamaica, where a large fleet was known to be collected, still one might possibly run in, on the chance of finding a richly laden merchantman off her guard. It was necessary, therefore, to be on the watch. None, however, could approach them seaward without being discovered in good time; but an enemy's vessel might lie hidden behind one of the many headlands and points, or in some of the numerous creeks on the coast, and might sally forth when least expected, and endeavour to capture them if unprepared. The land wind lasted for an hour or more past midnight, when the Ouzel Galley lay becalmed, with little prospect of making progress till the sea breeze should set in in the morning. Owen at length, leaving the deck in charge of the second mate, lay down in his cabin, desiring to be called should any strange sail appear in sight. Daylight, however, returned, and when he left his cabin he found the crew following their usual occupations of the morning—washing decks, coiling down the ropes. On looking about for the new hands, to judge of them by the way they went about their work, he observed that the two last who had joined were flemishing the ropes down man-of-war fashion, as were two of the others; but the rest, those supplied by Mr Jobson, were evidently lubberly fellows, who scarcely know the stem from the stern of the ship.

"I must practise these men at their guns, or they will be of no use if it ever comes to a pinch," thought Owen. While he was watching the crew, the dark-whiskered man who had entered as Thomas Routh came aft, when Owen got a better look at his countenance than he had hitherto had. He started, for he fully believed that he saw before him O'Harrall, whose life he had twice been the means of saving. He looked again and again, not wishing, however, that the man should discover that he was especially noticing him; while the latter, apparently totally unconscious of being remarked, went on with his work. Still, it was not likely that O'Harrall had voluntarily come on board his ship. At last he determined to speak to the man, and to judge by his tone of voice and answers. He called him up.

"Have you ever served with me before?" he asked.

"No, sir, not that I know of, for I neither remember your features nor your name," was the answer.

"Have you over served on board a man-of-war?" asked Owen.

"When I shipped aboard this craft I came to do duty as a seaman, not to answer questions about my previous life," said the man, looking up boldly into Owen's face. Owen turned away; the voice reminded him of O'Harrall as much as the countenance, and yet, from the man's perfect coolness, he could not suppose that he could be that person. Owen had no doubt, however, that he had served on board a man-of-war, and was probably a deserter, and that, should any naval officer come on board in search of deserters, the man would probably be taken. He determined, at all events, to watch the man and see how he behaved himself towards the rest of the crew. Owen was not long left in doubt, for, though Green had at first been put forward, it was very evident that the other was the leading spirit of the two. He was observed to be associating chiefly with the new men, and talking to them when no others were present, endeavouring, not unsuccessfully, to establish an influence over them. He did not, however, neglect the old hands, and whenever he had an opportunity he took pains to win their goodwill. To the officers he was obedient and submissive enough; and when, rounding Negril Head at the west end of the island, the ship was struck by a sudden squall, he showed by his activity and courage that he was a first-rate seaman. His manners, too, were above those of an ordinary sailor, and though rough in his exterior, he was neat and clean in his person.

The ship was running in for Montego Bay. Owen and his first mate had gone down to take a hurried dinner, when Dan came in to the cabin.

"Well, Dan, how do the new hands get on?" asked Owen.

"It's just that I want speak to you about, your honour," answered Dan. "There's not much to be said about most of them, except that they're pretty hard bargains; but there's one of them, Routh, who, if he isn't some great lord, will try to make the people believe that he is. It's only to be hoped that he means well, for if he takes it into his head to do any harm, he'll do it."

"Perhaps, after all, he may have no evil intentions. He certainly is one of our best men," observed Mr Fisher, the first mate.

"Your honour asked me to say what I thought of the men, and I've said it," answered Dan.

"We shall see how he behaves in harbour, and if there is no fault to find with him we can keep him on board," remarked Owen.

"Your honour knows what's best," observed Dan, speaking with the freedom of an old follower, "but I'll stake my davy that he's after no good."

"Well, Dan, Mr Fisher and I will keep an eye on him, and you can report anything further you see suspicious in his conduct," said Owen, as he and his mate returned on deck.

An hour afterwards the Ouzel Galley was at anchor in Montego Bay. Owen was just going on shore, when Mr Twigg, who had been waiting for the ship, came off and gave him directions about receiving his cargo. Owen reported that he had fully carried out his instructions, showed the guns he had procured, and mustered his crew.

"A likely set of fellows," observed Mr Twigg. "You'll do your duty, my lads, and, if you have to defend the ship, you'll fight bravely. Should you come back in her you may be sure of good wages; Ferris, Twigg, and Cash pay well when they are well served."

The crew cheered, and Routh, who stood foremost among then, was especially vociferous, though he might have been seen winking to some of his mates when the eyes of the worthy planter and the officers were turned away.

"You'll have the droghers alongside to-morrow morning, and you'll not be long in hoisting the casks on board, Captain Massey," continued Mr Twigg, as he walked the poop. "Meantime, I shall be happy to see you on shore, and should have been glad to take you to Bellevue, as Miss Ferris is anxious to send some messages to our fair friend Miss Tracy, who won all our hearts out here, as I understand she has that of another friend of ours." Mr Twigg chuckled, and Owen looked conscious. "However, as the distance is too great, Miss Ferris has intrusted me with letters for her friend, which I can safely confide to you."

Thus Mr Twigg talked on. "You will pass in sight of Bellevue as you run along the coast—we'll signal you, so that you can give the last report of your friends when you reach Dublin."

The invitation Owen had received was equivalent to a command, and, though he would have preferred remaining on board, he accompanied Mr Twigg on shore. He met at dinner several planters, agents of estates, or attorneys, as they were called; two or three brother skippers whose vessels lay in the harbour, a military officer, and a few nondescripts. The conversation was pretty general, though the subject of sugar and rum might have predominated, and Owen heard more about affairs in Jamaica than he had hitherto done. The blacks, he found, were in an unsatisfactory state; they had been discovered holding secret meetings of a suspicious character. They had more than once before revolted and committed most fearful atrocities; and one or two gentlemen expressed the fear that, unless precautions were taken in time, the black's might play the same trick again. Those gentlemen were, however, looked upon by the rest of the company as timid alarmists.

"The cowhide is the best specific for keeping the black rascals in order," exclaimed Mr Tony Grubbins, an attorney from a neighbouring estate, who looked as if he not unfrequently used that same weapon of offence. "We always know in good time what the negroes are about, for they haven't the sense to keep their own secrets; if they show any obstreperousness, we shall pretty quickly put them down."

"As there are ten blacks to one white man, if the negroes are combined we might find it not so easy a matter to put them down," observed one of the timid gentlemen.

"Pooh-pooh, sir!—show them the muzzle of a blunderbuss and they'll be off like a shot," answered the other.

From the remarks made by the timid gentleman, Owen felt, however, inclined to side with his opinion.

Captain Brown, of the good ship Sarah Ann, on hearing that Owen was to sail without convoy, warned him of the danger he would run. "All very well, sir," he observed, "when you get to the eastward of the islands, but you'll find out that you'll have to run the gauntlet of the enemy's cruisers, for they're pretty thick in these seas; and, in addition, there are not a few picarooning, piratical rascals who don't pretend even to be privateers, and boldly hoist the black flag, and rob and murder all they can capture."

"I hope that the Ouzel Galley can keep clear of them, as well as of the regular cruisers of the enemy," answered Owen. "We fell in with a gentleman of the sort on our passage out, but we had fewer guns and hands than we have now, and we at first took him for one of our convoy, or we should have beaten him off without much difficulty."

"That is more than poor Wilkins, of the Greyhound, was able to do," remarked Captain Brown. "I was in company with him at sunset, when everything was well on board, and we were standing the same course—but next morning he was nowhere in sight, and my first mate, who had the middle watch, told me he saw two vessels astern instead of one. As no guns were heard, it's my belief that the Greyhound was taken by surprise and carried before the crew had time to fire a shot in their defence."

"Depend on it, we'll keep too sharp a look-out to be surprised," said Owen, "though I am obliged to you for the warning."

As the party was becoming a somewhat uproarious one, Owen, who both from principle and habit was a sober man, stole off and returned on board his ship. The mate reported all well, and that none of the crew had even asked leave to go on shore. When Dan, however, made his appearance in the cabin, he looked while he moved about as if he had something to communicate.

"What's the matter? Out with it, Dan," said Owen.

"Your honour, I don't want to be a talebearer," answered Dan, "but Routh and Green and the rest of their gang have been talking together the whole of the watch, and that means mischief."

"The more necessity for keeping a bright look-out on them," observed the captain, "and I have no doubt that the honest men in the ship will keep them down, whatever tricks they may play."

With a certain amount of uncomfortable feeling Owen turned in, keeping, as he always did, his pistol and sword by the side of his bed. The next day he was too busy taking in cargo to think of the matter; and now, being ready for sea, the Ouzel Galley stood out of the harbour.

According to arrangement with Mr Twigg, the Ouzel Galley kept along the coast till she came off Bellevue. As she appeared, a flag from the flagstaff on shore flew out to the breeze. Owen hoisted his colours and fired his guns, and the merchantman, looking as trim as a ship of war, sailed on her course.

"No fear about that young fellow making the voyage if any man can do it," observed Mr Twigg to Mr Ferris.

"He has been brought up under a good captain—a better we have not in our service," replied Mr Ferris.

Ellen watched the departing ship which was carrying her epistle to Norah. The weather was beautiful, though the heat was somewhat more oppressive than usual; a light breeze filled the sails of the Ouzel Galley, wafting her over the calm waters. It was scarcely possible to believe that she would have any dangers to encounter on that tranquil ocean.

A considerable number of persons inhabited the house of Bellevue. Besides Mr Twigg and his wife and the manager, there were six young gentlemen, book-keepers, who were so called though they had no books to keep, but were employed in superintending the various operations of the estate. Most of them were young men of respectable families, who looked forward to becoming managers or to holding other responsible offices. There were also several assistant overseers, mostly mulattoes, though some were whites—literally, slave-drivers—whose business was to keep the negroes up to their work in the fields. The book-keepers dined at table, and were treated in every respect as gentlemen, though the manager kept them under pretty strict discipline. One of them, Archie Sandys, a lively young Scotchman, was a favourite with Ellen, as he reminded her of Gerald Tracy. He was clever, too, and very well informed. That he admired her, there could be little doubt, for no one was more ready to obey her behests, though he might not have foolishly lost his heart or ventured to lift his eyes to one so much above him in fortune.

The Ouzel Galley was still in sight in the offing, when Archie, having performed his duties for the day, came in and found Ellen seated in the shade, inhaling what little air was moving. The scene was a lovely one. The house stood on a height looking over the sea; there was a lawn green as one in spring, with a shrubbery on either side of tropical trees and shrubs of varied and picturesque forms, above which towered several specimens of the graceful palm. Birds of gay plumage and butterflies of gorgeous hues were flitting about, and many magnificent flowers, such as are to be seen in hot-houses alone at home, were blooming around. Words, however, can never give an adequate description of West Indian scenery. Young Sandys made his bow to Miss Ferris, who greeted him with a smile.

"I am not intruding on you, I hope?" he said.

"Certainly not," she answered, laughing; and seeing that he was not expected to go away, he stood leaning against one of the pillars of the verandah.

"I witnessed a curious scene yesterday, which I have not before had an opportunity of describing," he said, after a few other remarks had passed between them. "I don't know what Mr Ferris or our manager will say to it; I consider myself fortunate in getting away with a whole skin. You perhaps, Miss Ferris, have never heard of a Jumby dance; I had, and wished to see one. Yesterday, one of our assistant overseers, a mulatto, Bob Kerlie by name, to whom I had rendered some service, told me that he had heard one was to take place on some wild ground between this and the next estate; and I persuaded him to act as my guide to the place. He told me that I must be careful what I said or did, as the negroes were in a very curious humour and might easily be offended. We carried our cutlasses, and I stuck a brace of pistols in my belt; besides which, we were each provided with a stout walking-stick. We started at sundown, and after leaving the cultivated ground we had no little difficulty in making our way through the tangled brushwood till we reached the hut in which the Jumby dance was to be performed. It stood under a vast cotton-tree, on an open space near the bank of the river which you see running into the ocean to the westward of this. As we went along Kerlie told me that the chief performer was a big negro, Cudjoe, reputed to be a powerful Obeah man; that is, a necromancer, or what the North American Indians would call a medicine-man. He is supposed to possess wonderful mysterious powers—to be able to cause the death of any one who offends him. Bob assured me that there was no doubt about this, and those he denounces never fail to die shortly afterwards. If such is the case, Master Cudjoe probably knows how to use poison to bring about the fulfilment of his predictions, and I am thankful that he does not belong to us.

"We found upwards of a hundred negroes, mostly men, though there were some women among them, all decked out in strange and uncouth ornaments, snakes' heads, dried frogs, various coloured beads forming necklaces round their throats; their garments were otherwise scanty in the extreme. They looked surprised and not very well pleased at seeing us, and Rob had some difficulty in persuading them that I only came for curiosity and was far too good-natured to say anything about what I might see which might get them into trouble. The assembly being pacified agreed to our remaining. I observed that there was a great deal of talking among them, but as they spoke their native African, neither Rob nor I could understand what was said. The hut was of considerable size, though low and thatched merely with palm-leaves. There were no windows, and only one door; this was now thrown open, when what looked to me like a huge skeleton appeared at the entrance, and waved its bony arms wildly about, beckoning the people to enter. They started to their feet, for they had hitherto been squatting round, and rushed eagerly to the door. Rob and I followed, when we discovered that the seeming skeleton was the Obeah man, Cudjoe, who had thus painted his black body from head to foot. The hut was lighted by some twenty small lamps, hung from the roof, and in the centre was a figure intended to represent a human being, with an enormous cock's head. Master Cudjoe, if he was the artist, had contrived to produce as hideous-looking a monster as could well be imagined. 'That's the fetish,' whispered Rob; 'they worship it as if it were a god.'

"Cudjoe, on seeing us, asked in an angry tone what we wanted, and Rob spoke to him as he had done to the other people. 'Den you keep quiet, buccra,' he said, turning to me; 'I no hab laffee or talkee.' I assured him that I would remain as still as a mouse; and with a growl he retired again inside the hut, where he seated himself in front of a huge tom-tom, the African drum, and began slowly to beat it, chanting at the same time one of his native songs, I concluded. Gradually he beat faster and faster, accompanying the music, if such it could be called, with his voice. The spectators sat listening in rapt attention, when suddenly one of the women started up and began dancing, keeping capital time to the music. The faster Cudjoe played the faster she danced, till every limb and muscle seemed in movement. Round and round she went in front of the hideous fetish: no dervish of the East could have danced more furiously. Presently she was joined by a man, who danced in the same manner round and round her. One after the other, the whole of the women, with partners, took a part in the performance; I could scarcely follow their dark figures, except by the ornaments they wore, as they moved in eccentric courses within the hut, the tom-tom beating louder and louder, and the people moving faster. The spectators had hitherto sat quiet; they at length rose, and were, I saw, apparently about to join in the saturnalia. Just then Rob touched me on the arm and whispered, 'Come away, sir; I heard something which told me it will not be safe to remain here longer.' As I had no wish to be offered up as a sacrifice to the fetish I followed his advice, and as fast as we could move along we made our way back to the open. On inquiring of Rob what he had heard, he told me that the negroes were cursing the white men, and were praying to the fetish to assist them in some design or other they had on foot. Rob even thought that in their excitement they might seize us and put us to death. He was so earnest in the matter that he convinced me he did not speak without sufficient cause. I don't wish to alarm you, Miss Ferris, but I want you to try and induce your father to take precautions against any sudden outbreak of the blacks. Our manager holds them in such supreme contempt that he wouldn't listen to what I have to say, and would only laugh at me and call me a second-sight Scotchman. Even the hundred negroes I saw assembled might commit a great deal of mischief; and there may be many hundreds more united with them: numbers arrived while we were there, and others were coming in as we made our escape."

"I certainly think you are right, Mr Sandys, in not despising the warning given by the overseer," said Ellen. "I will tell my father what you have said to me, and ask him to speak to you on the subject, and he will probably examine Rob Kerlie. It will surely be wise to be on our guard, even should the negroes not really be meditating mischief. I confess that what you have told me has made me somewhat anxious; this hot evening is not calculated to rise one's spirits. Tell me, Mr Sandys, is the air often as oppressive as it is at present?"

"No, certainly. It is very hot indeed; I suspect that we are going to have a storm," answered Archie. "I observed this morning curiously shaped clouds high up in the sky, which suddenly dispersed from every point of the compass. I have been for some minutes, watching a bank of clouds rising above the horizon in the north-west, and it has gained a considerable height since we were speaking; it seems to have swept round the western end of the island."

Ellen looked in the direction indicated; just then a vivid flash of lightning burst from the dark bank of clouds in the west, followed almost without interval by several others, and in a few minutes the tops of the tall palms bent before a sudden blast which came rushing from the westward. Every instant it increased in fury; the leaves torn from the trees filled the air, succeeded by branches, many of considerable size.

"I must advise you, Miss Ferris, to take shelter within the house," said Archie, "for one of those branches might injure you severely. Even the verandah itself may be blown away. You have little conception of the power of a West Indian hurricane."

As Ellen was hurrying into the house she met her father coming to look for her.

"I am afraid we are going to have a violent storm, of which this wind is only the precursor," he said. "We must seek for safety in the strongest part of the house; it will not be safe to remain in the open air, or even near the window, through which a branch or any other object may be blown."

Ellen had accompanied her father to the dining-hall, which, being in the centre of the house, was less exposed to danger than any other part of the building. So loudly did the wind roar that even there it was necessary to speak in a high tone to be heard.

"Oh, what will become of the Ouzel Galley if she is caught in this fearful gale!" exclaimed Ellen.

"She has by this time, I hope, gained a good offing; if the wind holds as it now does, she will be able to run before it till she is out of danger," answered Mr Ferris.

As the evening was now drawing rapidly on, the manager and book-keepers came in from the works in the different parts of the estate. They all looked somewhat anxious, though no damage had yet been done, and a hope was entertained that it was not going to be anything serious after all. Their spirits revived when suddenly the wind ceased and the atmosphere became as clear as usual. Two or three of them had, however, again to go out; and on their return they reported that the sky was once more overcast, and that it was lightening in all quarters. Presently the rain came down in true tropical fashion, again to stop and again to go on with greater energy than before. Sometimes it was perfectly calm, but the lightning continued darting forth from the sky with awful grandeur; sometimes the whole upper regions of the air were illuminated by incessant flashes, but the quivering sheet of blazing fire was far surpassed in brilliancy by the electric fluid which was exploding in every direction. Ellen and her father and young Sandys were standing as near one of the windows as they could venture, when they saw a meteor of deep red hue and globular form descending perpendicularly from an enormous height. As it approached the earth its motion appeared to be accelerated, and it then became of dazzling whiteness, elongating in form till, dashing on the ground, it splashed around like molten lead or quicksilver and disappeared. The next instant the hurricane again burst forth, rushing amid the trees with the sound of a heartrending and piercing scream, so loud as entirely to drown the human voice. The whole building shook and trembled as if an earthquake was taking place and it was about to be hurled to the ground. Mr Ferris, seizing Ellen's arm, dragged her into a doorway.

"Should the house not withstand this furious blast, we shall be safer here than anywhere else," he said.

Young Sandys followed them. Mr Twigg, with his wife and children, was at the time in another room. Ellen naturally felt anxious for her friends, and young Sandys offered to go and ascertain how they were getting on. He quickly returned with the report that they were all safe, and that the children were clinging round their parents, overcome with terror, and shrieking piteously. No thunder was at any time heard, and all agreed that even if the whole battery of a line-of-battle ship had been going off, the sound would not have been distinguished above the horrible roar and yelling of the wind and the noise of the ocean, as its tumultuous waves dashed on the shore, threatening every instant to sweep over the land and engulf all within their reach. The wind continually shifted, now blowing from one quarter, now from another. Suddenly the deafening noise sank into a solemn murmur, and the lightning, which had hitherto played in flashes and forked darts, hovered for a few seconds between the clouds and the earth, circling round and round, causing the whole heavens to appear on fire, when a similar luminous appearance seemed to burst from the ground, and, rising, the mass rushed upwards to the sky. After a short interval, again was felt the breath of the whirlwind with even greater fury than before, and it seemed as if everything on the face of the earth would be swept away into the boiling ocean. Again the earth was shaken, and the house vibrated with a violence which threatened its instant destruction. Mr Ferris kept a firm hold of his daughter's arm, and she, in a way which surprised him as well as herself, maintained her composure during the whole of this fearful strife of the elements. Not till daylight returned did the fury of the tempest altogether cease; sometimes it abated, again to burst forth with almost the same power as before. The house itself, having been strongly built and the roof fixed on with the greatest care, withstood the hurricane, a portion only at one end having been blown off; but the out-buildings were materially damaged. Mr Ferris and his managers waited anxiously to hear a report of the damage which had been done to the estate. Round the house many trees had been torn from their roots, others snapped short off, and all had more or less suffered. The ocean still continued to rage with unabated fury, even after the wind itself had ceased Ellen naturally looked along the horizon, but not a sail was in sight, and again and again she asked what could have become of the Ouzel Galley. Her affection for Norah made her feel as if she was herself personally interested in the fate of the brave young commander, as much as Mr Ferris was in reality in that of the ship. He could no longer conceal his anxiety about the Ouzel Galley. How she had fared was the subject of earnest discussion between him and Mr Twigg. The latter thought it just possible that she might have got beyond the influence of the hurricane before it burst with its full fury; and if not, might have weathered it out, as many a stout ship with plenty of sea room had weathered similar hurricanes before. He acknowledged, however, that she might have been caught by it, and if so, while the wind blew from the northward, might have been driven on shore. The latter point would in time be ascertained, and as soon as possible a messenger was despatched along the coast, who, though he reported several shipwrecks, had ascertained that the Ouzel Galley was not among them.

"She was well found and not overladen, and as well able to keep afloat, even in such a sea as we saw running, as any ship which ever sailed the ocean," observed Mr Ferris. "We shall hear, I trust, in due course of her arrival."

Dreadful as the hurricane had appeared, the damage done was not as great as might have been expected. It was the opinion of many that only the tail of the hurricane had passed over the island. It was bad enough as it was. In some places the country appeared as if scorched by fire, in others the crops were totally destroyed; numerous buildings were levelled with the ground, and the trees and shrubs uprooted; a number of people had been killed, and many more seriously injured, by being struck by shingles from the roofs or branches from the trees, and by other hard substances which went hurtling like cannon-shot through the air. So rapid, however, is vegetation in the tropics that nature herself would repair much of the damage produced, and the industry of man the remainder—although the proprietors had to suffer severely in their pockets, while there was no power to restore to life the unhappy beings who had been killed.



Norah and her father had for many months been living an uneventful life in their pretty little cottage near Waterford. She was his constant companion; indeed, she never ventured out without him. Things had come to a pretty pass, as he observed, when a young lady couldn't take a walk by herself without the risk of being carried off by a party of filibustering squireens, quite as bad in their way as the picarooning rascals in the West Indies and on the Spanish Main, who had often in days of yore given him so much anxiety—not that they ever had caught him, for he was too much on his guard, though he had been chased well-nigh a score of times; and he intended to be on his guard now, and, as he hoped, with the same success.

This state of things, therefore, did not much concern him, as he was glad of Norah's society, and was always as ready to walk with her as she was with him. Their walks, indeed, seldom extended much beyond Waterford, or the often-trod road to Widow Massey's house. Norah never passed many days without paying her a visit. They were now looking forward to receiving news of Owen, or indeed, as they hoped, seeing him himself, as the Ouzel Galley, unless detained longer than was expected, would some time since have commenced her homeward voyage. A letter had come from Gerald saying that he had just seen her on her way round to Montego Bay, and giving an account of himself and what he had seen and done up to that time. He promised to write a longer letter when he had more to say. A couple of months or more after the arrival of Gerald's first letter another was received from him.

"Dear sister Norah," it ran, "I promised to spin you a long yarn, so here goes, and I hope that you'll get it some day. I told you in my last that I had seen the Ouzel Galley under way from Montego Bay, and I suppose Owen has long before this delivered all the messages I sent by him; and if not, I dare say he will before long, if he hasn't forgotten them. No matter; they were not very important, so you needn't scold him for his negligence.

"I forget if I told you that, while our ship was undergoing repairs in dock at Port Royal, Lieutenant Foley, Molly—I mean Lord Mountstephen— with Nat Kiddle and me, and about twenty of our hands, were turned over to the Augusta, 60-gun ship, commanded by Captain Forrest; and immediately afterwards were ordered to proceed to sea, accompanied by two other ships under his orders, the Edinburgh, of sixty-four guns, Captain Langdon, and the Dreadnought, of sixty guns, Captain Morris Suckling. We soon found that we were to cruise off Cape Francois, on the north coast of Saint Domingo, to watch a French squadron under Commodore De Kearsaint, who was collecting a large number of merchantmen which he was to convoy from that port to Europe. The admiral had been informed that the French had only three line-of-battle ships, which, although somewhat larger than we were, he knew very well that we should thrash if we could come up with them. We gained intelligence, however, from a French despatch vessel which we captured, that the enemy's squadron had lately been increased by four other ships, one of which, by-the-by, was a ship of ours—the Greenwich—of fifty guns, captured a few months ago, when commanded by Captain Roddam, off this very island. He had nothing to be ashamed of, for with his single ship he bravely faced five sail of the line and several frigates, and wasn't taken till he had lost all chance of escaping except by going to the bottom. Thus, you see, the French had seven ships to our three, and we heard besides that they had been strongly manned by volunteers from the garrison and merchant vessels, and made sure that they should either drive us away or capture us.

"Notwithstanding the superiority of the enemy, we were not to be put to flight, but kept our ground as if no Frenchmen were in the neighbourhood. We had been for some days cruising off the cape, always near enough to keep the port in sight, so that no vessel could steal out without our knowing it, when early in the morning the Dreadnought, which was inshore of us, made the signal that the enemy was in sight, and before noon we could see the whole French squadron standing out in line towards us, the wind being about north-east—if you get the chart, father will explain matters to you. We were to windward of them, keeping close together, though not so close as the Frenchmen, who seemed very anxious to be backing up each other. Our captain now made the signal for the other two captains to come on board the Augusta. As soon as they stepped on the quarter-deck, Captain Forrest, after shaking hands, said, 'Well, gentlemen, you see the Frenchmen are come out to engage us.' On which Captain Suckling quickly replied, 'I think it would be a pity to disappoint them.' 'And what do you say?' asked our captain, turning to Captain Langdon. 'I heartily agree with Captain Suckling,' was the answer. 'If we disable them, we shall do good service by preventing them from convoying the merchant vessels, and maybe we shall take one or two of them. Of one thing I feel very sure, that they won't take us.'

"The three captains being agreed, the other two went back to their ships, and we hoisted the signal to make all sail and to close the enemy. The Dreadnought led in our line; the Intrepide, the French commodore's ship, led in that of the enemy, followed by the Greenwich. The wind was light, and it seemed to me that we should never get into action. Though I've seen a good deal of fighting on a small scale, yet this affair was likely to prove more serious than any I had yet engaged in. I was stationed on the main-deck, and the scene was very different to what I had been accustomed to on board the Champion where we've no deck above us and can see everything that is going forward. Here, it was only by looking through a port that I could get a glimpse of the enemy's ships, as they stood on in a long line, one closely following the other—so closely, indeed, that the leading ship had the jibboom end of the one next her in line almost over her taffrail. Molly, Kiddle, and I had charge of the guns manned by the Champion's people. We reminded them that they must show what they were made of, and maintain the honour of the little ship; they one and all answered that they would; and they looked as if they intended to keep to their word, as they stood with their shirts off, handkerchiefs bound round their heads, and belts round their waists, ready to fire as soon as the order should be given. In a line behind where we stood were the powder-boys seated on their tubs, cracking jokes, and seeming altogether to forget that we should have, in a few minutes, showers of round shot rattling about our ears. Though we used to call Mountstephen Molly, he didn't look a bit like a Molly now, for he walked the deck as calm and composed as if nothing particular was going to happen. I asked him what o'clock it was. He said, 'Twenty minutes past three.' Just then the Dreadnought opened her fire on the French commodore; and didn't Captain Suckling pound him—knocking away in a few minutes several of his spars, and so wounding his rigging that he fell on board the Greenwich, which, as I said, was close astern of him. As the Dreadnought stood on, we got up, and the word to fire was passed along our decks; and you may be sure we quickly obeyed it, blazing away at the two French ships already foul of each other, when they drove down upon the third astern, and there all three lay, unable to get clear one of the other.

"The French had a 64 and a 44 gun ship, besides two 32-gun frigates, which were able to manoeuvre, and these, as you may suppose, did not remain quiet while the Augusta and Edinburgh were blazing away at the three ships, which still lay jammed together. It made the fight, however, more equal than it would otherwise have been. Their shot came on board us pretty thickly, and not a few of our men were struck down. Among them was our first lieutenant, who raised his hand for a moment, and then fell back, dead. Soon afterwards I saw poor Mountstephen fall; I ran to help him, when I found that one of his legs had been shot away and the other fearfully injured. I ordered a couple of men to carry him below; I should have liked to go with him, poor fellow, but I couldn't leave the deck. I had returned to my station, when I found myself suddenly splashed all over with what I thought was water, though it was rather warm.

"'What, Paddy Tracy, are you wounded?' I heard Nat Kiddle sing out.

"'Not that I know of,' I answered; 'I don't feel like it.' Then I saw what had happened—a man standing close to me had been cut right in two by a round shot, which came through the port, wounding a couple of men besides.

"Much as the enemy were knocked about, we were already in a pretty bad condition, having all our masts, sails, rigging, and boats considerably damaged, eight or ten men killed, and nearly thirty wounded. If it hadn't been for the four ships of the enemy still able to manoeuvre, we should have taken or sunk the other three, for they couldn't manage to get free of each other, while they could only now and then fire a few shot at us. At length, to our infinite satisfaction, we saw the masts of the 64 engaged with the Dreadnought go over the side, while all the line-of-battle ships were evidently tremendously knocked about both in hull and rigging. We had been engaged for upwards of two hours, when the French commodore made a signal to one of the frigates, which, coming up, took him in tow and carried him out of action; and his example was followed by the whole of the French squadron, which made sail for Cape Francois, then to leeward of them.

"The Edinburgh had been as much damaged in her masts, yards, and sails as we were, and Captain Langdon signalled that she had also several shot in her hull. The Dreadnought, we saw, had lost her main and mizen topmasts, while nearly all her other masts and yards were greatly injured, and she also had received many shot in her hull, besides having lost as many men as we had. This made Captain Forrest refrain from following the Frenchmen.

"I was very glad to find Mr Foley all right, for his own sake, for I like him very much—and still more for that of Miss Ferris, for it would be a terrible thing for her were he to be killed, and I hope he won't, though we all run the risk of losing the number of our mess. As soon as I could leave my station I ran down below to see how poor Mountstephen was getting on. He was perfectly sensible, though pale as a sheet. He said he felt no pain. His first question was, 'What are the enemy about?'

"'They're running,' I replied.

"'What, all seven of them?' he asked.

"'Yes, every one,' I answered.

"'Hurrah!' he exclaimed, waving his hand above his head, 'we've gained the victory.'

"Scarcely were the words out of his mouth than he fell back, and before the doctor could come to him he was dead.

"When I got on deck again—and I can tell you I was very glad to breathe some fresh air, after being down in that dreadful cockpit, full of poor fellows groaning with pain, some having their legs and arms cut off, others with their sides torn open or heads fearfully smashed—I found that the enemy were out of our reach, and that not one of our three ships was in a condition to follow them. This was very provoking, though we had fought a right gallant action, of that there can be no doubt. Captain Forrest seeing that, if we got to leeward, we should be unable to beat off, and very likely be driven on shore and lost, ordered a course to be steered for Jamaica, where we arrived in a couple of days. The admiral highly approved of what had been done, and Captain Forrest received orders to get his ship repaired with all despatch and return as soon as possible in search of the enemy. The hands were taken off our sloop for this purpose, and there seemed every probability of our remaining some time longer on board the Augusta. Still, things are not done so quickly out here as they are in the dockyards at home. At last we got to sea and sailed for Cape Francois. On looking into that port we found that the Frenchmen had put their best legs foremost, and that Monsieur De Kearsaint, having repaired his ships, had some days before sailed with the convoy for Europe, and we should have no chance of overtaking him. We had accordingly to come back, when we again sailed with the admiral, whose flag was flying on board the Marlborough, for a cruise off Cape Tiberon. I should make my letter too long if I were to describe all that took place. We had not been many days on the station before we captured two French privateers, and from their crows learned that a rich convoy was preparing at Port au Prince to sail for Europe, under the protection of two large armed private ships. The admiral on this sent in his tender to ascertain if such was the fact. Her commander, who speaks French, managed to gain all the intelligence he required; he soon returned, having ascertained that the information received was correct. The admiral accordingly directed us to proceed off the island of Golave, to cruise there for two days, and, should we see anything of the convoy at the expiration of that time, to return and join him. Golave, you will understand, is in the middle of the large bay which occupies nearly the whole western coast of Saint Domingo, to the northward of Cape Tiberon.

"The afternoon of the day following our arrival, we had got well up into the bay, when we caught sight of two sloops. To prevent them from taking us for what we were, we hoisted Dutch colours and stood away from them. In the evening we sighted seven more sail steering out of the bay. On this, to deceive the enemy, we hung tarpaulins over the sides of the ship, set the sails in lubberly fashion, and, hauling our wind, stood away from the strangers till dark. We then again made sail and followed them. At ten o'clock we saw two more sail, one of which fired a gun, and the other then parted company and steered for Leogane. Soon afterwards eight more sail were seen to leeward. We had not lost sight of the ship which had fired a gun; though she might have suspected our character, she did not stand away from us. We accordingly soon ran up alongside, when Captain Forrest shouted out to him in French to strike, adding, 'If you alarm the other ships, or let them discover by any means what we are, we'll send you forthwith to the bottom.'

"The French commander, fully believing that our captain would put his threat into execution, immediately gave in; and one of our lieutenants, with thirty-five men, went on board the prize with orders to proceed off Petit Guave, a small port to leeward, to prevent any of the other vessels from escaping into it. The vessel we had captured was the Mars, of twenty-two guns and 108 men, all of whom we had now aboard us, stowed away below lest they should be making signals to the enemy. We stood on during the remainder of the night, and at daylight found ourselves in the midst of the convoy, which, on our hoisting our colours and showing what we were about, began firing at us; but we quickly silenced them one after the other, and in the course of a few minutes the whole struck, one small vessel alone managing to get away. There were altogether eight vessels, richly laden, each carrying from eight to ten guns. We had to take out their crews and man them from our ship. The captain, sending for me, greatly to my satisfaction, ordered me to take charge of one of them, called the Flora. Tumbling into one of the boats with ten hands, I quickly pulled aboard, and found that she carried twelve guns and a crew of thirty-five men. The Frenchmen looked very glum when I told them that they were to get into the boat and go aboard our ship. I kept one of them, a black, Pierre by name, who spoke English and had been the captain's steward. The first service he did me was to act as interpreter, and as he knew where everything was stowed, I thought he would be useful in other respects. Through him I made a polite speech to the captain, and told him that I was sorry to turn him out of his ship, but that I was obeying orders. He shrugged his shoulders, observing that it was the fortune of war, when, bowing, he followed his men over the side. I wasn't sorry to get rid of the Frenchmen, for it would have been a hard matter to keep them in order and navigate the ship with the few hands I had.

"As soon as we had transferred the prisoners, the prizes were ordered to make sail, and together we stood out of the bay. A very pretty sight we presented as we ran on under all sail, keeping, according to orders, close to the Augusta. Our prizes were richly laden, and the admiral, as may be supposed, was highly pleased when we sighted him off Cape Tiberon and Captain Forrest told him what we had done, as his share of the prize would be something considerable. Mine, as a midshipman, would be a couple of hundred pounds; Mr Foley, as a lieutenant, will get two or three thousand; so you may fancy what the shares of the captain and admiral will be.

"Pierre was, I found, an excellent cook as well as steward. I now called him Peter, by-the-by, at his own request, for as he observed, 'Now, massa, I come among Englishmen I take English name, please;' and so Peter he is now always called. He was especially fond of keeping his tongue wagging; he seemed not at all sorry to have changed masters, and to have got on board a man-of-war instead of a merchantman. He said that on their voyage out, when coming through the Windward Passage, the Flora and another vessel, the Cerf, of smaller size, carrying only eight guns, had been attacked by a piratical craft. They fought for some time, when the Flora made off, leaving the Cerf to her fate— that the pirates boarded her, and that he had seen her go down—that the pirate ship then made chase after the Flora, but by carrying all sail, and night coming on, she escaped. By Peter's account, I suspect that she must be the same craft which attacked the Ouzel Galley. Peter says she has a crew of a hundred men and carries twenty guns. She is known to have captured several merchantmen; some she sends to the bottom, and others she takes into one of the numerous keys among the Bahamas, where they are hidden away as securely as they would be among the unknown islands of the Pacific or Indian Ocean. From various things which Peter said, I had an idea that he knew more about the pirate than he had hitherto communicated, and I determined, when I had more completely gained his confidence, to try and obtain all the information he possessed.

"The weather continued fine, and our little squadron making good way, we were all soon safely at anchor in Port Royal harbour. It was a jovial sight, let me tell you, as we sailed in with English colours above the French on board the prizes, the guns firing, the flags flying, and the people on shore cheering. We at once carried the prizes up to Kingston, where they were quickly sold for good round sums, for they were all richly laden. As soon as I get my prize-money, I intend to send it home to father. Tell him to do as he thinks best with it; I don't want to spend it here, as many of our men probably will before long. The Jamaica people seldom get so good a haul as this, though prizes are being brought in almost every week. Where the money all goes to, I don't know; it makes somebody rich, I suppose.

"I was disappointed at not seeing Mr and Miss Ferris, and so, I have no doubt, was Mr Foley, for we thought that they would be back here by this time; but they are still away on the other side of the island. I don't think I told you that there had been a hurricane here, while we were cruising off Cape Francois, before our action with the Frenchmen. It was not felt very severely at this end of the island, as they only got the whisk of its tail; but at the west end it did a great deal of damage, and a number of people were killed and wounded, though I am happy to say that our friends escaped any injury. The Ouzel Galley, I understand, had sailed, and, I hope, had got well to the eastward before it came on. I dare say that Owen Massey will have told you all about it long before you get this. The worst news I have to give you is respecting the slaves, who are in a very rebellious state. It is rumoured that in one or two places they have attacked the whites' houses and killed several people; but this is not believed, and it is said that they know too well what a fearful punishment would overtake them were they to do anything of the sort.

"To return to my own proceedings. As soon as I had handed the Flora over to the prize agent, I had to turn again into a midshipman and to go on board our own tight little sloop, which had just come out of dock and was now all ataunto, ready for sea. I got leave to take Peter with me, as he wished to enter on board a British ship of war; he was at once appointed midshipmen's steward, and a better one we never had.

"Mr Foley was hoping that we should be sent to cruise off the north coast of the island, but instead of that we were ordered to carry despatches to Commodore Moore, who commands on the Leeward Islands station. Having delivered them, we were on our way back, when we fell in with the Buckingham, Captain Tyrrell. While in company with her we captured a French merchantman, and her crew being brought on board our ship, Peter heard from some of them that four privateers had run in for shelter under a strong battery in Grand Anar Bay, on the island of Martinico. He having told me, I at once gave information to our commander, who forthwith went on board the Buckingham to communicate it to Captain Tyrrell, and he at once resolved to stand in and destroy the privateers and the fort. Our prisoners, who had no idea that what they had been talking about had been understood, were very much astonished at seeing us suddenly alter our course and steer in for the bay. There, sure enough, were the four privateers with springs on their cables, and their guns run out, anchored under a strong-looking fort, mounting ten guns at least. The Buckingham ran in as close as she could venture, when she dropped her anchor, and we brought up under her stern and immediately began blazing away at the vessels, which, as well as the fort, opened fire on us. Though the privateers each mounted not less than twenty guns, they could not long stand the Buckingham's heavy shot; indeed, had we been alone we should have taken them. Still, thinking that the fort would drive us away, they held out longer than we had expected. Though we were struck several times, and a good many round shot passed between our masts, not a man on board was hit. We were wondering when they would give in, when, as a puff of air cleared the smoke off for a few seconds, we observed that one of them had a list to starboard. Her next broadside again concealed her from view, and in a couple of minutes, when the wind again blew away the smoke, all we could see were her masts as she slowly went to the bottom. I was expecting that the rest would share the same fate; one of them was to meet with a more terrible disaster—almost the next instant a thundering sound was heard, flames burst out of her deck, her masts shot upwards like sky-rockets, and the whole air seemed filled with fragments of wreck, which came hissing down into the water, several portions, whizzing through the air, reaching almost to where we lay. The other two, seeing the hopelessness of further resistance, after firing their broadsides, hauled down their colours. On this the Buckingham made a signal to us to take possession of the two vessels. 'Out boats!' was the order; and in another minute three of our boats, I having charge of one of them, were dashing through the calm water, while the Buckingham continued engaging the fort, which still held out. Two or three of its guns, however, had been disabled, and its fire began to slacken. We pulled away as fast as the crews could lay their backs to the oars, fearing that the Frenchmen would set fire to the ships and deprive us of our prizes. Their boats were already in the water, and the men were tumbling into them, evidently in a hurry to make their escape. 'Look out, lads; that the rascals play no tricks, and lose no time in seeing that all's safe below!' sang out Mr Foley, as he dashed by in the gig towards the northernmost of the vessels. I was making for the one to the southward, the farthest from the fort. We were soon up to her, and as we scrambled up on one side we saw several of her crew toppling over on the other. Just then I caught sight of a man coming up the companion-hatchway; it struck me that he had been about some mischief, and leaping on him, I tumbled him down to the foot of the ladder. He had a slow-match in his hand, which, hissing and spluttering, set his clothes on fire.

"'What have you been about, you rascal?' I exclaimed, though I don't suppose he understood the question. He pointed to the door of a cabin from which smoke was issuing. I burst it open, and found a match lighted, leading to a suspicious-looking cask in the corner. I, as you may suppose, pulled it out in pretty quick time; and, throwing it into the middle of the main cabin, sang out for buckets of water. A couple were quickly handed down, and the fire was extinguished. In another moment, however, we should all have been blown into the air. The Frenchman, who proved to be the mate of the vessel, was severely burnt, but little compassion was felt for him. We secured him, and two other men, who were caught by the legs as they were leaping overboard.

"Our men had begun to fire at the boats which had shoved off, but I ordered them to desist, as the Frenchmen had hauled down their flag, and were perfectly right in trying to make their escape.

"As soon as the garrison of the fort saw that we had possession of the vessels, they opened fire at us with one of their guns. On this, Mr Foley ordered me to cut the cable of my prize, and make sail out of harm's way, as the wind was sufficiently off shore to enable us to do so. He at the same time, I saw, was setting the canvas of the ship he had taken.

"The Buckingham and Champion having now only the fort to attend to, poured in so hot a fire on it that the gun which was annoying us was dismounted before we had been under way more than four or five minutes. So we again brought up and turned our guns at the fort, which was gradually crumbling away before the iron shower thrown into it. As the Frenchmen still kept up a hot fire from four or five guns, which considerably annoyed the Buckingham, Captain Tyrrell ordered the boats away to storm the fort and put an end to the conflict. I immediately jumped into my boat, leaving the prize at anchor to take care of herself, and joined the others, which were pulling to the shore on that side of the fort where the chief breach had been effected, and where none of the remaining guns could reach us and out of range of musket-shot. Captain Tyrrell himself, I found, was heading the party. We mustered altogether upwards of a hundred and fifty men, about forty of whom belonged to our ship, with Mr Foley and other officers. The marines quickly formed, flanked by our blue jackets, armed with muskets, cutlasses, and pistols. The instant the last man leaped on shore, the order to advance was given, and up the hill we went at double quick march, in spite of a shower of musket balls which came whizzing about our ears. The Frenchmen endeavoured to slew round some of their guns to fire down on us, but before the muzzles were run through the embrasures, we were climbing over the parapet in a somewhat helter-skelter fashion, and, headed by the gallant captain of the Buckingham, leaping down into the fort. So rapid had been our advance that the soldiers had no time to reload their pieces, and as our cutlasses flashed in their faces, they hurled them at us and took to flight, endeavouring to make their way out at a gate on the land side, where, in their hurry, they got jammed together and stopped by part of the crews of the two privateers, who were coming in to their assistance. Fortunately for them, their commandant, after exchanging a few passes with Captain Tyrrell, had been disarmed and made prisoner; and he, seeing that if followed by our men they would be cut to pieces, shouted out to them to come back and submit as he had done. Still they pushed on, and in their struggles to get out, toppled over each other till a dozen or more lay sprawling on the ground. They would there have been destroyed had not Captain Tyrrell humanely called off his people. Of the whole of our party, not a man had been killed, and a few only were wounded. The fort exhibited a woeful picture of ruin—nearly a score of men lay dead close to the guns, while we saw other corpses scattered about in different parts of the fort. The buildings which served as habitations for the garrison were shattered to pieces, the embrasures knocked into one, the guns dismounted and their carriages broken, the flagstaff shot in two— indeed, it seemed a wonder that the Frenchmen could have held out so long.

"We could see from the ramparts a good-sized town on the banks of a river, some way from the shore, sheltered by groves of palms and other trees—a very attractive, pleasant-looking place. Finding themselves masters of the fort, our men gave three cheers; then the cry arose that they should go down and attack the town and pillage it. When the captain heard this, he shouted out to the men, 'My fine fellows, I hear what you say, and I hope you will not longer think of doing that same. You will agree that it is beneath us to make a number of poor people miserable by destroying their houses and such comforts of life as they possess. Remember, you are Englishmen, and should scorn to injure people who, though they are called our enemies, have not lifted even a finger against us. Let them remain in quiet; they will bless you, and wish you well.'

"This considerate speech had a good effect. The men cheered, and said they had no wish to hurt the mounseers. The captain, allowing the commandant to follow his people, who had made their escape, then set us to work to demolish the fort. The guns which appeared serviceable were spiked, and then rolled down the hill into the sea, and mines were dug in different parts of the fort, in which all the powder we found in the magazine was stowed. A train was then laid to each mine, and we were ordered to march down to the boats. Captain Tyrrell, who had superintended all the operations himself, was the last to leave; he lighted the train, and then followed us. We hadn't got many yards from the beach when a loud report was heard, and up went a part of the fort, quickly followed by the other portions, like the joints in a cracker; and when the smoke and dust cleared off, the whole spot where the fort had stood was a heap of ruins. It would take the Frenchmen a good many weeks to repair the damage, if they should ever think it worth while to make the attempt.

"The wind was so light that we were unable to get out of the bay; in the evening we saw a boat coming off to us with a flag of truce. She contained two of the principal inhabitants of the town, who brought with them a cargo of fowls, and vegetables, and fruit, which they begged the captain to accept as a mark of their gratitude for his having spared their town. They added that another would shortly follow for the corvette. Captain Tyrrell made a suitable speech, accepting their present. The other boats soon arrived with the promised supply for us, and as we took leave in the most friendly manner of the people who brought it, no one would have supposed the sort of work we had been engaged in during the morning.

"A land breeze enabled us to get to sea that evening, when soon afterwards we parted company with the Buckingham, we shaping a course back to Jamaica. We were all very jolly on board, for we had plenty of provisions, and had unexpectedly come in for a nice little lump of prize-money.

"I must tell you that Peter had become a great favourite on board, and of this he himself seemed well aware, though he wisely never presumed on it. I had, as I told you, been curious to find out how he was so well acquainted with the haunts of the pirates. At last, one day, I asked him, when I happened to be alone in the berth and he had come to get something out of a locker.

"'Me tell you, Massa Tracy, for me now know berry well you my friend,' he answered.

"'You're right, Peter,' I replied, 'and you may be sure that from nothing you say will you criminate yourself.'

"'Me only tell de truth on de honour of gentleman;' and Peter put his hand on his heart as he had seen the Frenchmen do.

"'Heave ahead, Peter,' I said, 'or your yarn may be out short.'

"'Berry well, Massa Tracy,' said Peter. 'It happen dis way. I was 'board a French ship, Les deux Amis, bound from Bordeaux to Port au Prince, when just as we 'bout twenty league to de eastward ob San Domingo, keeping a look-out dat no English cruiser pick us up, we see one evening, just as de sun go down, a big ship from de nor'ard standing for us. De cappen say she French—de mate say she Spanish—some ob de men say she Dutch—oders strife she English—I not know what to tink. De cappen say, "Best make all sail and stand 'way." So we did; but de bell just strike two in de fust watch, when we see her ranging up alongside. Den de cappen order de guns to be fired; but before de matches lighted, de stranger she aboard us. In a few minutes forty savage-looking fellows came springing on to our deck, pistolling some and cutting down oders of de crew. I see at once what going to happen— if I stay on board de brig, I be killed wid de rest—so I make a leap and gain de fore-rigging ob de stranger. Running for'ard, I leap down de hatchway and stow myself away in a berth. Eben dere I hear de dreadful cries and shrieks ob de crew as dey put to death by de pirates—for such I guess be de gentry into hands whose we hab fallen. I know by de sounds I hear as I lie quaking in de berth dat dey were removing de cargo ob de prize on board dere own ship. It was nearly daylight before dey hab taken out all de cargo dey wish to secure; den dey cast off, and directly afterwards I hear several shot fired. I know dat sooner or later I must show myself, as de watch who hab been working all night would be coming below to turn in; so I creep on deck, and make my way aft to where a man I tink must be de cappen was standing. No one stop me, for dey all too busy or too sleepy to notice me. I take off my hat and make him a polite bow, and ask in English if he want a cabin-steward, as I ready to serve him. "And if you like sea-pie, cappen, I cook one such as nobody can beat, let me tell you dat," I say. "I head cook."'

"'You're an impudent rascal, whoever you are,' he reply, 'but perhaps, for once in a way, you speak the truth.'

"'Do, cappen, just try me to-morrow, or next day, or when you get de materials to put in de pie,' I say.

"'I'll think about that, my man,' he answer, licking him lips. And den I know I all safe. 'He not kill me if he tink I make good sea-pie,' I say to myself; 'for black fellow sometimes more cunning dan white buccra—he! he! he!' Peter chuckled. 'Where do you come from?' he ask.

"'I tell him I carried off and made to serve on board de French ship, and dat I glad to escape from her. Dis not quite true, but I guess it make him more ready to save my life.'

"'Well,' he say, 'I happen to want a steward, and if you prove to be what you say you are, and can cook as well as you boast that you can, I'll take you into my service; but if not, it will be the worse for you.'

"'He den ask sharply, "What do you take this ship for, boy?"'

"'Of course, sar, English man-o'-war,' I answer—though I know berry well dat not true.

"'You haven't quite hit it, but you'll be much better off than if she was,' he say, tinking me simple lad who no do any mischief. He den shout out to de crew on deck, and tell dem not to harm me. Just den, as I look ober de side, I catch a glimpse of de brig which we were leaving settling down, and in anoder minute de water close ober de mast-heads. Den I tink I act berry wise in getting on board de pirate. De cappen den send me down into de cabin to look after de tings dere and put it in order, saying dat his oder steward been killed in an action a few days before. We were now, I found, steering to de nor'-west. Two or tree days after dis we take anoder prize, which was robbed ob eberyting ob value on board, and was den treated same as Les deux Amis had been. I was very glad to get off wid my life, but I berry much wish myself out of de ship again, and determined to make my 'scape as soon as I hab opportunity.

"'De cappen each day ask me when I going to make de sea-pie. I always say, "When I get de fowls, and de turkeys, and de ham, and de oder tings to put in it. But I make you some lobscouse in de mean time," I say. And so I did; and he and de mates say dey nebber taste such good lobscouse in dere lives. "Ah! not equal to de sea-pie I make some day or oder," I answer; for I know as long as I promise de sea-pie dey not kill me. I only hope in de mean time no man-o'-war get hold ob us; if she did, I should be hung up wid de rest, and de judges not believe I come on board 'cause oderwise I drown, and stay only to make a sea-pie. We soon get near an island, which I guess was one ob de Bahamas from de way de ship was steered, now in one direction, now in anoder, between rocks and sandbanks. De cappen ask me if I know where we were. I say, "I suppose we somewhere on de Spanish Main."'

"All right," he answer; "maybe you're not much of a navigator?"

"'Poor nigger like me know berry little 'cept how to make sea-pie,' I say. He den order me to go below, and soon afterwards I hear de roar ob de breakers, and I know we'd got near the shore. Den de ship sail on and I guess we'd got into a harbour; but she did not come to an anchor, but sail on and on. Den, looking up through the skylight, I see de boughs ob de green trees oberhead, and a high cliff which seem about to topple down on de deck ob de ship. Still we sail on and on, till at last I hear de anchor let go and de cable run out, and when I come on deck I find de ship in a wide lagoon wid several oder vessels and some large boats, and a village ob huts and sheds under de trees on de shore. I now know dat I was in one ob de old buccaneer hiding-places, and I guess dat de vessels I see were dose de pirates had capture and carry off. When the sails were furled I go up to the cappen and ask if he wish me to go on shore to buy some poultry and vegetables and oder tings I might require for de sea-pie.

"'No, no; you stay on board,' he answered. 'I'll send off for materials, and we shall then see what you can do.'

"'I pretend to be well pleased, and tell him all de tings I want. Dat evening plenty of provisions came on board. Dere were—let me see— butter-birds and whistling ducks, snipe, red-tailed pigeons, turkeys, clucking hens, parrots, and plantation coots; dere was beef and pork and venison, and papaw fruit, squash, and plantains, calavansas, bananas, yams, Indian pepper, ginger, and all sorts ob oder tings. I pick out what I know make de best pie, putting in plenty of pepper—for dat, I guess, would suit de taste ob de genelmen—and den I cover the whole ober wid thick crust. It take de night and the next day to bake, and when it am ready de cappen and his officers, and some friends from de shore, dey all say dat dey nebber eat any pie like it; and I laugh, and say, "I make better one anoder day." Dey all eat till dey could eat no more, and den drink to wash it down till one and all am so drunk dat dey couldn't lift up dere heads. When I see dis, I say to myself, "Now's the best time for me to try and be off;" and I put a piece ob de pie into a basket, and a calabash of water, and going on deck I see a small canoe made fast to de side. I drop it under de stern, and den go back into the cabin. Ebery one ob dem am still fast asleep; so I lowered de basket into de canoe from one ob de after-ports, and slip down myself widout making any noise. Cutting de painter, I let de canoe drift away before the breeze, which blew down the lagoon. I hab watch during de day one or two boats coming in, so I know the entrance, and as soon as I get to a distance from de vessels I paddle away as fast as I could. I might hab a long distance to go before daylight, but as it was only just dark dere would be plenty ob time. I expected ebery moment to be ober-hauled by de sentries on de shore, but no one was dere, or, at all events, dey not see me. On I go till I get under de cliffs which I see when de ship come in—den I know I in de right passage. Dere was a current, too, by which I judge dat de tide was ebbing. Next I find myself between low banks, for de whole country towards de sea am flat. At last I hear de waves breaking on de shore—not very loud, though; dat makes me hope dat de water smooth. I soon reach de entrance ob de creek, and safely pass de bar. I determine to paddle to de southward; I hab water and provisions to last me for a week or more, and before dat time I hope to get aboard an English or French vessel—it matter berry little to me. When morning break I look out astern, but could see no boat or vessel, and I hope I not pursued; as I was well out ob sight ob land, even if I was, de pirates would hab a difficult job to find me. De sea remain smooth, or my canoe, which was only intended for de lagoon, would hab been swamped. When my pie nearly gone and what remain was scarcely eatable, I see a vessel standing to de westward. De wind was light, and by paddling hard I might reach her. I did paddle, for I no hab a drop ob water in my calabash, and if I miss her I might die ob thirst. On she come, and de breeze freshen. I was coming from de north—she was crossing my course; I shriek and shout—already she nearly pass me; I stand up in my canoe and wave my paddle—den again I sit down and pull away like mad. Again I stand up and shout wid all my might and wave my paddle. I praise God, dey see me; de vessel round to, and in a few minutes I alongside. De cappen ask me where I come from. I tell him I escape from some pirates who would hab cut my throat if I hadn't known how to make sea-pie, and dat I make one for him as soon as I get opportunity. He laugh, and say dat he believe my story, and dat he gib me a trial. He nebber do so, however, 'cause you capture his vessel before I get de necessary materials.—And now, Massa Tracy, you know my history.'

"From the account Peter gave me, I strongly suspected that the vessel which had captured him was the one which attacked the Ouzel Galley, and I wished that we might have an opportunity of looking for her. The captain was, Peter had told me, an Englishman, as were many of the people with him; but there were others of all nations, as well as mulattoes, Sambos, and blacks. The descendants of the buccaneers still inhabit many of the keys on the Bahama bank, and probably the white population living on shore were some of those people, who keep up the customs and habits of their ancestors. I must try and learn more from Peter on the subject, and ascertain exactly where he was picked up by the Flora. If so, calculating the distance he had come in the canoe, we might be able to discover the hiding-place of the pirates. We have been some time getting back to Port Royal, and as the Narcissus is just sailing for England, I must close this to send by her. We received some bad news on our arrival; the blacks are actually in rebellion and have committed all sorts of mischief, murdering the whites and all who oppose them in every direction. We're ordered off to the north coast. Mr Foley was very anxious to go there, but he is now in a great state of agitation lest any harm should have befallen our friends; and well he may be—indeed, I can't help feeling very anxious myself. Still, I don't want you to be frightened, Norah, and I hope all will go well, and that we shall find when we get there that the blacks have not attacked Mr Twigg's house. With best love to father, and kind regards to Mrs Massey and Owen, if he has arrived, as I make no doubt he will have long ago—

"I remain—

"Your affectionate brother—

"Gerald Tracy."



Interesting as Gerald's letter was to Norah and her father, it caused them the greatest possible anxiety. Owen had sailed some considerable time before it was written, and he had not yet arrived! Poor Norah scarcely dared ask herself what had happened. Had the Ouzel Galley been overtaken by the hurricane? Gerald at the same time appeared certain that she had escaped it, and if she had, by what cause was she delayed? Had she been captured by the enemy? That was too probable; but, then, Owen would surely have found means of sending a letter to England describing the event. Captain Tracy immediately wrote to the house in Dublin, but they had heard nothing of the ship.

"Oh, father!" exclaimed Norah at length, in a tone which showed her alarm, "can he have fallen into the hands of those terrible pirates of whom Gerald speaks?"

"The Ouzel Galley was too well manned, and, I may venture to say, would have been too well handled and fought, to yield to a rascally buccaneering craft," answered Captain Tracy. "No, no, Norah, don't let that thought trouble you; she may have been dismasted in a gale of wind—no skill can at all times prevent such an accident—or she may have met with long calms in the tropics and contrary winds afterwards. Wait a bit, cushla machree, and she'll come in some fine morning when we least expect her."

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