« ZurückWeiter »
looking grimly around, to ascertain if any one dared to smile at his passenger's mistake; “ especially for so long a pull as from New York to Liverpool.”
“ Then your uncle used to boast of the Rose In Bloom's wearing and attacking. She would attack anything that came in her way, no matter who, and as for wearing, I think he once told me she would wear just what she had a mind to, like any human being."
Rose was a little mystified, but she looked vexed at the same time, as if she distrusted all was not right.
" I remember all my sea education,” continued the unsus. pecting widow, “as if it had been learnt yesterday. Beating the wind and attacking ship, my poor Mr. Budd used to say, were nice manœuvres, and required most of his tactics, especially in heavy weather. Did you know, Rosy dear, that sailors weigh the weather, and know when it is heavy and when it is light ?"
“I did not, aunt; nor do I understand now how it can very well be done.”
“Oh! child, before you have been at sea a week, you will learn so many things that are new, and
get so many ideas of which you never had any notion before, that you
'll not be the same person. My captain had an instrument he called a thermometer, and with that he used to weigh the weather, and then he would write down in the log-book “today, heavy weather, or to-morrow, light weather,' just as it happened, and that helped him mightily along in his voy.
“Mrs. Budd has merely mistaken the name of the instrument—the . barometer' is what she wished to say,” put in Mulford, opportunely.
Rose looked grateful, as well as relieved. Though profoundly ignorant on these subjects herself, she had always suspected her aunt's knowledge. It was, consequently, grateful to her to ascertain that, in this instance, the old lady's mistake had been so trifling.
“Well, it may have been the barometer, for I know he had'them both,” resumed the aunt. “ Barometer, or ther. mometer, it do n't make any great difference; or quadrant, or sextant. They are all instruments, and sometimes he used one, and sometimes another. Sailors take on board
the sun, too, and have an instrument for that, as well as one to weigh the weather with. Sometimes they take on board the stars, and the moon, and · fill their ships with the heavenly bodies,' as I've heard my dear husband say, again and again ! But the most curious thing at sea, as all sailors tell me, is crossing the line, and I do hope we shall cross the line, Rosy, that you and I may see it."
“What is the line, aunty, and how do vessels cross it.”
“ The line, my dear, is a place in the ocean where the earth is divided into two parts, one part being called the North Pole, and the other part the South Pole. Neptune lives near this line, and he allows no vessel to go out of one pole into the other, without paying it a visit. Never! never ! - he would as soon think of living on dry land as think of letting even a canoe pass, without visiting it.”
“Do you suppose there is such a being, really, as Nep. tune, aunty ?”
“ To be sure I do; he is king of the sea. Why should n't there be? The sea must have a king, as well as the land.”
“ The sea may be a republic, aunty, like this country ; then, no king is necessary. I have always supposed Neptune to be an imaginary being.”
“Oh that's impossible—the sea is no republic; there are but two republics, America and Texas. I've heard that the sea is a highway, it is true—the highway of nations,' I believe it is called, and that must mean
something particular. But my poor Mr. Budd always told me that Neptune was king of the seas, and he was always so accurate, you might depend on everything he said. Why, he called his last Newfoundland dog Neptune; and do you think, Rosy, that your dear uncle would call his dog after an imaginary being and he a man to beat the wind, and attack ship, and take the sun, moon and stars aboard! No, no, chili; fanciful folk may see imaginary beings, but solid folk see solid be. ings."
Even Spike was dumfounded at this, and there is no knowing what he might have said, had not an old sea-dog, who had just come out of the fore-topmast cross-trees, come aft, and, hitching up his trowsers with one hand while he touched his hat with the other, said with immoveable grav. ity,
“ The revenue-steamer has brought up just under the fort, Capt. Spike."
“ How do you know that, Bill ?" demanded the captain, with a rapidity that showed how completely Mrs. Budd and all her absurdities were momentarily forgotten.
“I was up on the fore-topgallant yard, sir, a bit ago, just to look to the strap of the jewel-block, which wants some sarvice on it, and I see'd her over the land, blowin' off steam and takin' in her kites, A fore I got out of the cross-trees, she was head to wind under bare-poles, and if she had n't anchored, she was about to do so. I'm sartin 't was she, sir, and that she was about to bring up.”
Spike gave a long, low whistle, after his fashion, and he walked away from the females, with the air of a man who wanted room to think in. Half a minute later, he called out
“ Stand by to shorten sail, boys. Man fore-clew-garnets, flying jib down haul, topgallant sheets, and gaff-topsail gear. In with 'em all, my lads—in with everything, with a will."
An order to deal with the canvas in any way, on board ship, immediately commands the whole attention of all whose duty it is to attend to such matters, and there was an end of all discourse while the Swash was shortening sail. Everybody understood, too, that it was to gain time, and prevent the brig from reaching Throg's Neck sooner than was desirable
“Keep the brig off,” called out Spike, “and let her ware - we're too busy to tack just now.
The man at the wheel knew very well what was wanted, and he put his helm up, instead of putting it down, as he might have done without this injunction. As this change brought the brig before the wind, and Spike was in no hurry to luff up on the other tack, the Swash soon ran over a mile of the distance she had already made, putting her back that much on her way to the Neck. It is out of our power to say what the people of the different craft in sight thought of all this, but an opportunity soon offered of putting them on a wrong scent.
A large coasting schonner, carrying every. thing that would draw on a wind, came sweeping under the stern of the Swash, and hailed.
“Has anything happened, on board that brig?" demanded her master.
“ Man overboard,” answered Spike_"you hav'nt seen his hat, have you ?”
“No-no," came back, just as the schooner, in her onward course, swept beyond the reach of the voice. Her people collected together, and one or two ran up the rigging a short distance, stretching their necks, on the look-out for the “poor fellow," but they were soon called down to “ 'bout ship." In less than five minutes, another vessel, a rakish coasting sloop, came within hail.
“ Did n't that brig strike the Pot Rock, in passing the Gate?” demanded her captain.
* Ay, ay !_and a devil of a rap she got, too.” This satisfied him; there being nothing remarkable in a vessel's acting strangely that had hit the Pot Rock in passing Hell Gate.
“ I think we may get in our mainsail on the strength of this, Mr. Mulford,” said Spike. “There can be nothing on. common in a craft's shortening sail, that has a man over. board, and which has hit the Pot Rock. I wonder I never thought of all this before.”
• Here is a skiff trying to get alongside of us, Capt. Spike,” called out the boatswain.
Skiff be d-d! I want no skiff here." “ The man that called himself Jack Tier is in her, sir.”
“ The d– he is !". cried Spike, springing over to the opposite side of the deck to take a look for himself. To his infinite satisfaction he perceived that Tier was alone in the skiff, with the exception of a negro, who pulled its sculls, and that this was a very different boat from that which had glanced through Hell Gate, like an arrow darting from its bow.
Luff, and shake your topsail,” called out Spike. a rope there to throw to this skiff.”
The orders were obeyed, and Jack Tier, with his clothes. bag, was soon on the deck of the Swash. As for the skiff and the negro, they were cast adrift the instant the latter had received his quarter. The meeting between Spike and his quondam steward's mate was a little remarkable. Each stood looking intently at the other, as if to note the changes
which time had made. We cannot say that Spike's hard, red, selfish countenance betrayed any great feeling, though such was not the case with Jack Tier's. The last, a lym. phatic, puffy sort of a person at the best, seemed really a little touched, and he either actually brushed a tear from his eye, or he affected so to do.
“So, you are my old shipmate, Jack Tier, are ye?" exclaimed Spike, in a half-patronizing, half-hesitating way -and you want to try the old craft ag'in. Give us a leaf of your log, and let me know where you have been this many a day, and what you have been about? Keep the brig off, Mr. Mulford. We are in no particular hurry to reach Throg's, you 'll remember, sir.”
Tier gave an account of his proceedings, which could have no interest with the reader. His narrative was any. thing but very clear, and it was delivered in a cracked, octave sort of a voice, such as little dapper people not unfrequently enjoy-tones between those of a man and a boy. The substance of the whole story was this. Tier had been left ashore, as sometimes happens to sailors, and, by necessary connection, was left to shift for himself. After making some vain endeavours to rejoin his brig, he had shipped in one vessel after another, until he accidentally found himself in the port of New York, at the same time as the Swash. He know'd he never should be truly happy ag'in until he could once more get aboard the old hussy, and had hurried up to the wharf, where he understood the brig was lying. As he came in sight, he saw she was about to cast off, and, dropping his clothes-bag, he had made the best of his way to the wharf, where the conversation passed that has been related.
" The gentleman on the wharf was about to take boat, to go through the Gate,” concluded Tier, “and so I begs a passage of him. He was good-natured enough to wait until I could find my bag, and as soon a’terwards as the men could get their grog we shoved off. The Molly was just getting in behind Blackwell's as we left the wharf, and, having four good oars, and the shortest road, we come out into the Gate just ahead on you. My eye: what a place that is to go through in a boat, and on a strong flood! The gentleman, who watched the brig as a cat watches a mouse,