« ZurückWeiter »
pointing with his short, thick finger at the little bay which was just opening to their view; " there's as neat a cove as a craft need bring up in. That used to be a capital place to lie in, to wait for a wind to pass the Gate; but it has got to be most too public for my taste. I'm rural, I tell Mulford, and love to get in out-of-the-way berths with my brig, where she can see salt-meadows, and smell the clover. You never catch me down in any of the crowded slips, around the mar. kets, or anywhere in that part of the town, for I do love
That's Hallet's Cove, Miss Rose, and a pretty anchorage it would be for us, if the wind and tide didn't sarve to take us through the Gate.”
“ Are we near the Gate, Capt. Spike ?” asked Rose, the fine bloom on her cheek lessening a little, under the apprehension that formidable name is apt to awaken in the breasts of the inexperienced.
“ Half a mile, or so. It begins just at the other end of this island on our larboard hand, and will be all over in about another half mile, or so. It's no such bad place, a'ter all, is Hell-Gate, to them that's used to it. I call myself a pilot in Hell-Gate, though I have no branch."
“I wish, Capt. Spike, I could teach you to give that place its proper and polite name. We call it Whirl-Gate alto. gether now," said the relict.
"Well, that's new to me,” cried Spike. “I have heard some chicken-mouthed folk say Hurl.Gate, but this is the first time I ever heard it called Whirl-Gate-they'll get it to Whirligig.Gate next. I do n't think that my old commander, Capt. Budd, called the passage anything but honest up and down Hell-Gate.”
6. That he did—that he did—and all my arguments and reading could not teach him any better. I proved to him that it was Whirl-Gate, as any one can see that it ought to be. It is full of whirlpools, they say, and that shows what Nature meant the name to be."
“But, aunty,” put in Rose, half reluctantly, half anxious to speak, “what has gate to do with whirlpools! You will remember it is called a gate—the gate to that wicked place I suppose is
is meant.” “ Rose, you amaze me! How can you, a young woman of only nineteen, stand up for so vulgar a name as Hell-Gate!'
“Do you think it as vulgar as Hurl-Gate, aunty ?" To me it always seems the most vulgar to be straining at gnats.”
“Yes,” said Spike sentimentally, “I'm quite of Miss Rose's way of thinking-straining at gnats is very ill-man. ners, especially at table. I once knew a man who strained in this way, until I thought he would have choked, though it was with a fly to be sure; but gnats are nothing but smal? flies, you know, Miss Rose. Yes, I'm quite of your way of thinking, Miss Rose; it is very vulgar to be straining at gnats and flies, more particularly at table. But you 'll find no flies or gnats aboard here, to be straining at, or brushing away, or to annoy you. Stand by there, my hearties, and see all clear to run through Hell-Gate. Do n't let me catch you straining at anything, though it should be the fin of a whale!"
The people forward looked at each other, as they listened to this novel admonition, though they called out the customary “ay, ay, sir,” as they went to the sheets, braces and bowlines. To them the passage of no Hell-Gate conveyed the idea of any particular terror, and with the one they were about to enter, they were much too familiar to care anything about it.
The brig was now floating fast, with the tide, up abreast of the east end of Blackwell's, and in two or three more minutes she would be fairly in the Gate. Spike was aft, where he could command a view of everything forward, and Mulford stood on the quarter-deck, to look after the head. braces. An old and trustworthy seaman, who acted as a sort of boatswain, had the charge on the forecastle, and was to tend the sheets and tack. His name was Rove.
“See all clear,” called out Spike. “D'ye hear there, for ard! I shall make a half-board in the Gate, if the wind favour us, and the tide prove strong enough to hawse us to wind’ard sufficiently to clear the Pot—so mind your—"
The captain breaking off in the middle of this harangue, Mulford turned his head, in order to see what might be the matter. There was Spike, levelling a spy.glass at a boat that was pulling swiftly out of the north channel, and shooting like an arrow directly athwart the brig's bows into the main passage of the Gate. He stepped to the captain's elbow.
“ Just take a look at them chaps, Mr. Mulford,” said Spike, handing his mate the glass.
“They seem in a hurry," answered Harry, as he adjust. ed the glass to his eye, “and will go through the Gate in less time than it will take to mention the circumstance."
“What do you make of them, sir ?”
6. The little man who called himself Jack Tier is in the stern-sheets of the boat, for one,” answered Mulford.
“ And the other, Harry--what do you make of the other ?"
" It seems to be the chap who hailed to know if we had a pilot. He means to board us at Riker's Island, and make us pay pilotage, whether we want his services or not.”
“Blast him and his pilotage too! Give me the glass ”taking another long look at the boat, which by this time was glancing, rather than pulling, nearly at right angles across his bows. “I want no such pilot aboard here, Mr. Mulford. Take another look at him-here, you can see him, away on our weather bow, already.”
Mulford did take another look at him, and this time his examination was longer and more scrutinizing than before.
* It is not easy to cover him with the glass,” observed the young man-“ the boat seems fairly to fly.”
“We're forereaching too near the Hog's Back, Capt. Spike,” roared the boatswain, from forward. “ Ready about_hard a lee,” shouted Spike.
6. Let all fly, for’ard-help her round, boys, all you can, and wait for no orders! Bestir yourselves-bestir yourselves."
It was time the crew should be in earnest. While Spike's attention had been thus diverted by the boat, the brig had got into the strongest of the current, which, by setting her fast to windward, had trebled the power of the air, and this was shooting her over toward one of the greatest dangers of the passage on a flood tide. As everybody bestirred them. selves, however, she was got round and filled on the oppo. site tack, just in time to clear the rocks. Spike breathed again, but his head was still full of the boat. The danger he had just escaped as Scylla met him as Charybdis. The boatswain again roared to go about. The order was given as the vessel began to pitch in a heavy swell. At the next instant she rolled until the water came on deck, whirled with her stern down the tide, and her bows rose as if she were about to leap out of water. The Swash had hit the Pot Rock
Watch. If we know him to be a thief, shall we not lay hands on nim?
Dogb. Truly, by your office, you may ; but I think they that touch pitch will be defiled; the most peaceable way for you, if you do take a thief, is, to let him show himself what he is, and steal out of your company
Much Ado About Nothing. We left the brigantine of Capt. Spike in a very critical situation, and the master himself in great confusion of mind.
A thorough seaman, this accident would never have happened, but for the sudden appearance of the boat and its pas. sengers; one of whom appeared to be a source of great uneasiness to him. As might be expected, the circumstance of striking a place as dangerous as the Pot Rock in HellGate, produced a great sensation on board the vessel. This sensation betrayed itself in various ways, and according to the characters, habits, and native firmness of the parties. As for the ship-master's relict, she seized hold of the main-mast, and screamed so loud and perseveringly, as to cause the sensation to extend itself into the adjacent and thriving vil. lage of Astoria, where it was distinctly heard by divers of those who dwelt near the water. Biddy Noon had her share in this clamour, lying down on the deck in order to prevent rolling over, and possibly to scream more at her leisure, while Rose had sufficient self-command to be silent, though her cheeks lost their colour.
Nor was there anything extraordinary in females betraying this alarm, when one remembers the somewhat astounding signs of danger by which these persons were surrounded. There is always something imposing in the swift movement of a considerable body of water. When this movement is aided by whirlpools and the other similar accessories of an interrupted current, it frequently becomes startling, more: especially to those who happen to be on the element itself. This is peculiarly the case with the Pot Rock, where, not only does the water roll and roar as if agitated by a mighty
wind, but where it even breaks, the foam seeming to glance up stream, in the rapid succession of wave to wave. Had the Swash remained in her terrific berth more than a sec. ond or two, she would have proved what is termed a “ total loss ;” but she did not. Happily, the Pot Rock lies so low that it is not apt to fetch up anything of a light draught of water, and the brigantine's fore-fool had just settled on its summit, long enough to cause the vessel to whirl round and make her obeisance to the place, when a succeeding swell Lifted her clear, and away she went down stream, rolling as if scudding in a gale, and, for a moment, under no command whatever. There lay another danger ahead, or it would be better to say astern, for the brig was drifting stern foremost ; and that was in an eddy under a bluff, which bluff lies at an angle in the reach, where it is no uncommon thing for craft to be cast ashore, after they have passed all the more imposing and more visible dangers above. It was in escaping this danger, and in recovering the command of his vessel, that Spike now manifested the sort of stuff of which he was really made, in emergencies of this sort. The yards were all sharp up when the accident occurred, and springing to the lee braces, just as a man winks when his eye is menaced, he seized the weather fore-brace with his own hands, and began to round in the yard, shouting out to the man at the wheel to port
his helm” at the same time. Some of the people flew to his assistance, and the yards were not only squared, but braced a little up on the other tack, in much less time than we have taken to relate the evolution. Mul. ford attended to the main-sheet, and succeeded in getting the boom out in the right direction. Although the wind was in truth very light, the velocity of the drift filled the canvas, and taking the arrow-like current on her lee bow, the Swash like a frantic steed that is alarmed with the wreck made by his own madness, came under command, and sheered out into the stream again, where she could drift clear of the apprehended danger astern.
“ Sound the pumps !” called out Spike to Mulford, the instant he saw he had regained his seat in the saddle. Harry sprang amidships to obey, and the eye of every mariner in that vessel was on the young man, as, in the midst of a death-like silence, he performed this all-important duty. It