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Biddy were all seated, under an awning made by a sail, on the deck of the schooner, which now floated so buoyantly as to show that she had materially lightened since last seen. Such indeed was the fact, and he who had been the instru. ment of producing this change, appeared on deck in the per. son of Mulford, as soon as he was told that the blue-peter of Jack Tier was flying.
The boat of the light-house, that in which Spike had anded in quest of Rose, was lying alongside of the schooner, and sufficiently explained the manner in which the mate had left the brig. This boat, in fact, had been fastened astern, in the hurry of getting from under the sloop-of-war's fire, and Mulford had taken the opportunity of the consternation and frantic efforts produced by the explosion of the last shell thrown, to descend from his station on the coach-house into this boat, to cut the painter, and to let the Swash glide away from him. This the vessel had done with great rapidity, leaving him unseen under the cover of her stern.
As soon as in the boat, the mate had seized an oar, and sculled to an islet that was within fifty yards, concealing the boat behind a low hummock that formed a tiny bay. All this was done so rapidly, that united to the confusion on board the Swash, no one discovered the mate or the boat. Had he been seen, however, it is very little probable that Spike would have lost a moment of time, in the attempt 10 recover either. But he was not seen, and it was the general opinion on board the Swash, for quite an hour, that her handsome mate had been knocked overboard and killed, by a fragment of the shell that had seemed to explode almost in the ears of her people. When the reef was doubled, however, and Spike made his preparations for meeting the rough water, he hove to, and ordered his own yawl, which was also towing astern, to be hauled up alongside, in order to be hoisted in. Then, indeed, some glimmerings of the truth
were shed on the crew, who missed the light-house boat. Though many contended that its painter must also have been cut by a fragment of the shell, and that the mate had died loyal to roguery
and treason. Mulford was much liked by the crew, and he was highly valued by Spike, on account of his seamanship and integrity, this latter being a quality that is just as necessary for one of the captain's character to meet with in those he trusts as to any other man. But Spike thought differently of the cause of Mulford's disappearance, from his crew. He ascribed it altogether to love for Rose, when, in truth, it ought in justice to have been quite as much imputed to a determination to sail no longer with a man who was clearly guilty of treason. Of smuggling, Mulford had long suspeci. ed Spike, though he had no direct proof of the fact; but now he could not doubt that he was not only engaged in supply. ing the enemy
with the munitions of war, but was actually bargaining to sell his brig for a hostile cruiser, and possibly to transfer himself and crew along with her.
It is scarcely necessary to speak of the welcome Mulford received when he reached the islet of the tent. He and Rose had a long private conference, the result of which was to let the handsome mate into the secret of his pretty companion's true feelings toward himself. She had received him with tears, and a betrayal of emotion that gave him every encouragement, and now she did not deny her preser
In that interview the young people plighted to each other their troth. Rose never doubted of obtaining her aunt's consent in due time, all her prejudices being in favour of the sea and sailors; and should she not, she would soon be her own mistress, and at liberty to dispose of herself and her pretty little fortune as she might choose. But a cypher as she was, in all questions of real moment, Mrs. Budd was not a person likely to throw any real obstacle in the way of the young people's wishes; the true grounds of whose present apprehensions were all to be referred to Spike, his intentions, and his well-known perseverance. Mulford was convinced that the brig would be back in quest of the remaining doubloons, as soon as she could get clear of the sloop-of-war, though he was not altogether without a hope that the latter, when she found it impossible to overhaul her chase, might also return in order to ascertain what discoveries could be made in and about the schooner. The ex. plosion of the powder, on the islet, must have put the man. of-war's men in possession of the secret of the real quality of the flour that had composed her cargo, and it doubiless had awakened all their distrust on the subject of the Swash's real business in the Gulf. Under all the circumstances, therefore, it did appear quite as probable that one of the parties should
reappear at the scene of their recent interview as the other.
Bearing all these things in mind, Mulford had lost no time in completing his own arrangements.
He felt that he had some atonement to make to the country, for the part he had seemingly taken in the late events, and it occurred to him, could he put the schooner in a state to be moved, then place her in the hands of the authorities, his own peace would be made, and his character cleared. Rose no sooner understood his plans and motives, than she entered into them with all the ardour and self-devotion of her sex; for the single hour of confidential and frank communication which had just passed, doubled the interest she felt in Mulford and in all that belonged to him. Jack Tier was useful on board a vessel, though his want of stature and force rendered him less so than was common with sea-faring men. His proper sphere certainly had been the cabins, where his usefulness was beyond all cavil; but he was now very serviceable to Mulford on the deck of the schooner. The first iwo days, Mrs. Budd had been left on the islet, to look to the concerns of the kitchen, while Mulford, accompanied by Rose, Biddy and Jack Tier, had gone off to the schooner, and set her pumps in motion again. It was little that Rose could do, or indeed attempt to do, at this toil, but the pumps being small and easily worked, Biddy and Jack were of great service. By the end of the second day the pumps sucked; the cargo that remained in the schooner, as well as the form of her boltom, contributing greatly to lessen the quantity of the water that was to be got out of her.
Then it was that the doubloons fell into Mulford's hands, along with everything else that remained below decks. It was perhaps fortunate that the vessel was thoroughly purified by her immersion, and the articles that were brought on deck to be dried were found in a condition to give no great offence to those who removed them. By leaving the hatches off, and the cabin doors open, the warm winds of the trades effectually dried the interior of the schooner in the course of a single night; and when Mulford repaired on board of her, on the morning of the third day, he found her in a condition to be fitted for his purposes.
On this occasion Mrs. Budd had expressed a wish to go off to look at her future accommodations, and Jack was left on the islet to cook the dinner, which will explain the actual state of things as described in the opening of this chapter.
As those who toil usually have a relish for their food, the appearance of the blue-peter was far from being unwelcome to those on board of the schooner. They got into the boat, and were sculled ashore by Mulford, who, seaman-like, used only one hand in performing this service. In a very few minutes they were all seated at the little table, which was brought out into the tent-verandah for the enjoyment of the breeze,
“So far, well,” said Mulford, after his appetite was mainly appeased; Rose picking crumbs, and affecting to eat, merely to have the air of keeping him company; one of the minor proofs of the little attentions that spring from the affections. “ So far, well. The sails are bent, and though they might be newer and better, they can be made to answer. It was fortunate to find anything like a second suit on board a Mexican craft of that size at all. As it is, we have foresail, mainsail, and jib, and with that canvas I think we might beat the schooner down to Key West in the course of a day and a night. If I dared to venture outside of the reef, it might be done sooner even, for they tell me there is a four-knot current sometimes in that track; but I do not like to venture outside, so short-handed. The cur. rent, inside must serve our turn, and we shall get smooth water by keeping under the lee of the rocks. I only hope we shall not get into an eddy as we go further from the end of the reef, and into the bight of the coast.”
“ Is there danger of that ?" demanded Rose, whose quick intellect had taught her many of these things, since her acquaintance with vessels.
“There may be, looking at the formation of the reef and islands, though I know nothing of the fact by actual obser vation. This is my first visit in this quarter."
“ Eddies are serious matters,” put in Mrs. Budd, “and my poor husband could not abide them. Tides are good things; but eddies are very disagreeable.”
“Well, aunty, I should think eddies might sometimes be as welcome as tides. It must depend, however, very much on the way one wishes to go.”
« Rose, you surprise me! All that you have read, and all that you have heard, must have shown you the differDo they not say
a man is floating with the tide,' when things are prosperous with him—and don't ships drop down with the tide, and beat the wind with the tide ? And don't vessels sometimes tide it up to town,' as it is called, and is n't it thought an advantage to have the tide with you ?”
“ All very true, aunty ; but I do not see how that makes eddies any the worse.”
“ Because eddies are the opposite of tides, child. When the tide goes one way, the eddy goes another—is n't it so, Harry Mulford ? You never heard of one's floating in an eddy.”
“ That's what we mean by an eddy, Mrs. Budd," answered the handsome mate, delighted to hear Rose's aunt call him by an appellation so kind and familiar,-a thing she had never done previously to the intercourse which had been the consequence of their present situation. “Though I agree with Rose in thinking an eddy may be a good or a bad thing, and very much like a tide, as one wishes to steer.”
“ You amaze me, both of you! Tides are always spoken of favourably, but eddies never. If a ship gets ashore, the tide can float her off; that I've heard a thousand times. Then, what do the newspapers say of President and Governor - and Congressman ?*
- ?* Why, that they all . float in the tide of public opinion,' and that must mean something particularly good, as they are always in office. No, no, Harry; I'll acknowledge that you do know something about ships; a good deal, considering how young you are; but you have something to learn about eddies. Never trust one as long as you live.”
Mulford was silent, and Rose took the occasion to change the discourse. “I hope we shall soon be able to quit this place,” she
“for I confess to some dread of Captain Spike's re
“Captain Stephen Spike has greatly disappointed me,
* We suppress the names used by Mrs. Budd, out of delicacy to the individuals mentioned, who are still living.