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The Princeton union. [volume] (Princeton, Minn.) 1876-1976, August 31, 1905, Image 6

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83016758/1905-08-31/ed-1/seq-6/

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For Love
Country Copyright. 1898. by CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
tttiiaimm&lIM^^
CHAPTER XI.
OU would better spread a lit
tle more canvas, Mr. Sey
mour. I think we shall do
better under the topgallant
sails. We have no time to lose."
"Aye, aye, sir," replied the young ex
ecutive officer, and then, lifting the
trumpet to his lips, he called out with
a powerful voice: "Lay aloft and loose
the topgallant sails! Man the topgal
lant sheets and halyards!"
The crew, both watches being on
deck, were busy with the various du
ties rendered necessary by the depar
ture of a ship upon a long cruise, and
were occupied here and there with the
different details of work to be done
when a ship gets under way. Some of
them, their tasks accomplished for the
moment, were standing on the fore
castle or peering through the gun
ports, gazing at the city, with the tall
spire of Christ church and the more
substantial elevation of the building
even then beginning to be known as
Independence hall rising in the back
ground beyond the shipping and over
the other buildings which they were so
rapidly leaving. In an instant the
quiet deck became a scene of quick
activity, as the men left their tasks
and sprang to their appointed stations.
The long coils of rope were thrown
upon the deck and seized by the groups
of seamen detailed for the purpose,
while the rigging shook under the
quick steps of the alert topmen spring
ing up the ratlines, swarming over the
tops and laying out on the yards,
without a thought of the giddy eleva
tion in their intense rivalry each to be
first.
"The main royal also, Mr. Seymour,"
continued the captain. "I think she
will bear it. 'Tis a new and good
stick."
"Aye, aye, sir. Main topgallant yard
there."
"Sir?" "Aloft, one of you, and loose the
royal as well."
"Aye, aye, sir."
After a few moments of quick work
the officers of the various masts in
dicated their readiness for the next
order by saying in rapid succession:
"All ready the fore, sir."
"All ready the main, sir."
"All ready the mizzen, sir."
"Handsomely, now, and all together.
I want those Frenchmen there to see
how eruartly we can do this," said the
captain in reply, addressing Seymour
in a tone perfectly audible over the
ship.
"Let fall! Lay in! Sheet home!
Hoist away! Tend the braces there!"
shouted the first lieutenant.
Amid the creaking of blocks, the
straining of cordage and the lusty
heaving of the men, with the shrill
pipes of the boatswain and his mates
for an accompaniment, the sheets were
hauled home on the yards, the yards
rose on their respective masts, and the
light sails, the braces being hauled
taut, bellied out in the strong breeze,
adding materially to the speed of the
ship.
"Lay down from aloft!" cried the
lieutenant when all was over.
"Aye, that will do," remarked the
captain. "We go better already. I am
most anxious to get clear of the capes
before nightfall. Call the men aft
and request the officers to come up to
the quarter deck. I wish to speak to
them
"Aye, aye, sir. Mr. Wilton," said the
young officer, turning to a young mid
shipman standing on the lee side of
the deck, "step below and ask the of
ficers there and those forward to
come on deck Bentley," he called to
the boatswain, "call all hands aft."
"Aye, aye, sir."
Again the shrill whistling of the pipes
was heard, followed by the deep tones
of Bentley, which rolled and tumbled
along the decks of the ship in the us
ual long drawn, monotonous cry which
could be heard above the roar of the
wind or the rush of the water or the
straining of the timbers, from the
truck to the keelson, "All hands lay
aft, to the quarter deck."
The captain, standing upon the poop
fleck, was not at first glance a particu
larly imposing figure. He was small
tn stature, scarcely five and a half feet
high at best, with his natural height
diminished, as is ofUn the case with
sailors^ by a slight bending of the
back and stooping of the shoulders
yet he possessed a well knit, vigorous
and not ungraceful figure, whose care
less poise and the ease with which he
maintained his position, with his
hands clasped behind his back, in spite
of the rather heavy roll and pitch of
the ship in the very strong breeze, in
Oicated long familiarity with the sea.
The officers, gathered in a little knot
en the lee side of the quarter deck,
several midshipmen among them, were
worthy of the crew and the command
er.
"Men," said the captain, in a clear,
firm voice, removing his cocked hat
from his thick black hair, tied in a
cue and entirely devoid of powder,
as he looked down at them from the
break of the poop with his piercing
black eyes, "we are bound for Eng
lish waters"
"Hurrah! Hurrah!" cried many voices
from the crew impetuously.
"We will show the new flag for the
first time on the high seas," he con- deep toned chorus of approval.
of
By CYRUS
TOWN5END BRADY,
Author of "The Grip of Honor," **The Southerners,"
"Sir Henry Morgan, Buccaneer," "A
Doctor of Philosophy," Etc.
tmued, visibly pleased, and pointing
proudly to the stars and stripes, which
his own hand had first hoisted, flutter
ing gayly out at the peak, "and I trust
we may strike a blow or two which
will cause it, and us, to be long re
membered. While you are under my
orders I shall expect from you prompt,
unquestioned compliance with my com
mands, or those of my officers, and a
ready submission to the hard disci
pline of a ship of war, to which most
of you, I suspect, are unfamiliar, un
less you have learned it in that bitter
school, a British ship. You will learn,
however, while principles of equality
are very well in civil life they have
no place in the naval service. Subordi
nation is the word here this is not a
trading vessel, but a ship of war, and
I intend to be implicity obeyed," he
continued sternly, looking even more
fiercely at them. "Nevertheless," he
added, somewhat relaxing his set fea
tures, "although we be not a peaceful
merchantman, yet I expect and intend
to do a little trading with the ships of
the enemy, and in any prizes which
we may capture you know you will all
have a just, nay, a liberal, share. It
must not be lost sight of, however,
that the first business of this ship, as
of every other ship of war of our
country, is to fight the ships of the
enemy of equal, or of not too great,
force. Should we find such a one, as
is most likely, in the English channel,
we must remember that the honor and
glory of our flag are above prize
money."
"Three cheers for Captain John Paul
Jones!" cried one of the seamen, leap
ing on a gun and waving his hat They
were given with a mighty rush from
nearly two hundred lusty throats, the
ship being heavily overmanned for fu
ture emergencies.
"That will do, men," said the cap.
tain, smiling darkly. "Remember that
a willing crew makes a happy cruise.
Mr. Seymour, have the boatswain pipe
all hands to grog, then set your
watches. Mr. Talbot," he added, turn
ing to the young officer in the familiar
buff and blue of the Continental army,
who stood by his side, an interested
spectator to all that had occurred,
"will you do me the honor of taking
a glass of wine with me in the cabin?
I should be glad if you would join us
also. Mr. Seymour, after the watch
has been called, and you can leave the
deck. Let Mr. Wallingford have the
watch he is familiar with the bay.
Tell him to take in the royal and the
fore and mizzen topgallant sails if it
blows heavily," he continued, after a
pause, and then, bowing, he left the
deck
CHAPTER XII.
EANWHILE interesting con
versations were going on for
ward, of which this is a sam
ple
"I'm blest if I like this orderin' busi-
ness," said one grizzled seaman. "They
said he was hard on orders, but what
I shipped for was prize money an' a
chance to get a lick at them bloody
Britishers, not for to clean brasswork
an' scrape spars an' flemish down an'
holystone decks, which he won't let
us spit terbacker on. I don't call this
no fightin' for liberty, not by a durn
sight."
"Shut up, Bill," replied another.
"You've got to obey orders. This
yere ain't no old tea wagon, no fishin'
"We are bound for English iwiters."
boat, you old scowbanker it's a~wes-
sel-o'-war, an' may I never see Nan
tucket again if the old man," using a
merchantman's expression, "ain't goin'
to be captain of the old hooker while
he's in it An' if you call this hard
work an' growl at this kind of dis
syplin'well, all I got to say, you'd
oughter been on the old Radnor.
Curse the British devils!", he cried,
grinding his heel in the deck. "I'd
give twenty years of my life to be
alongside her in a ship half her size
yes, even in this one, an' I tell you
yon's the man to put her there, if he
gets a chance. Ain't that so, mates?"
"Aye, aye, Jack, 'tis true," came a
The Ranger was a small sloop of
war, a corvet of perhaps 500 tons,
with a raised poop and a topgallant
forecastle, built at Portsmouth, N. H.
a new ship and_one of the first of
THE PRINCETON UNION: CTHUBSDAY, AUGUST 3 J, 1905.
"Besides," went on the forecastle
orator, "we all know'd wot kind of a
officer he is. Fightin' and prize money
is wot we all want, and here's where
we'll git it you'll see, eh, mates?"
"Aye, aye Jack's right, Bill."
"Then blow the dissyplin', say I. pn
take orders from a man wot ain't
afraid o' nothin', wot hates the red rag
we knows of, wot won't send me
where he won't go himself. Fightin'
and prize money, he's our man. Be
sides, wot's the use o' kickin'? We got
to do it we're bound by them articles
ot war we signed," continued this deep
sea philosopher. "Now, pass me my
can o' grog, Tom. I'm dry as a cod.
Here's to America, and hang the Brit
ish, too," continued this sea lawyer,
drinking his toast amid shouts of ap
proval from the men.
Left to himself, Seymour, after the
men had received their grog and other
necessary duties had been attended to,
turned the deck over to Lieutenant
Wallingford, whose watch it was with
Philip Wilton, and, descending the
poop deck ladder, disappeared through
the same door which had received the
two officers into the cabin.
Three weeks had elapsed since the
raid upon the Wilton place, and the
scene had shifted from Virginia to the
sea, or rather to the great bay which
gives entrance to it from the Dela
ware river. It was a clear, cold day in
the early part of December, and the
American Continental ship Ranger had
just left her moorings off Philadelphia,
with orders to proceed to English wa
ters, stopping at Brest to receive the
orders of the commissioners in Pans,
and then, in case no better ship could
be found, to ravage the English chan
nel and coast as a warning that like
processes on the part of England on
our own shores should not go unpun
ished.
John Paul Jones, who had already
given evidence, not only of that desper
ate courage and unyielding tenacity
which had marked him as among the
most notable of sea officers the world
has seenlacking nothing but oppor
tunity to have equaled, if not sur
passed, a Nelsonbut of consummate
seamanship and great executive ability
as well, had been appointed to com
mand the ship. Before proceeding on
the mission, however, an important un
dertaking had been allotted to him.
The commissioners had sent word
from France, by a fast sailing armed
packet of the near departure of a
transport from England called the Mel
lish, laden with 2,000 muskets, twenty
fieldpieces, powder and other muni
tions of war and 10,000 suits of winter
clothes destined for the army that was
assembling at Halifax and Quebec for
the invasion of the colonies by way of
the St. Lawrence river and Lake
Champlain.
Congress had transmitted the letter
from France to Captain Jones with di
rections that he endeavor to intercept
and capture this transport The desti
tution of the American army at this
period of the war was frightful. De
void of clothes, arms, provisions,
powdereverything, in fact, which is
apparently vital to the existence of an
army continually beaten, menaced by
a confident, well equipped and disci
plined enemy in overwhelming force,
and before whom they had been habit
ually retreating, they were only held
together by the indomitable will and
heroic resolution of one man, George
Washington. The fortunes of the
colonies were never at a lower ebb
than at that moment and there was
apparently nothing further to look for
ward to but a continuation of the dis
integration until the end came. The
meager resources of the lax confeder
acy were already strained to the ut
most, and the capture of a ship laden
as this one was reported to be would
be of incalculable service. Clothes and
shoes to cover the nakedness of the
soldiery and protect them from the in
clemency of the winter, now fast ap
proaching, and arms to put in their
hands, by means of which they could
assume the offensive and attack the
enemy, or at least defend themselves
what more could they desire!
The desperate nature of the situa
tion, the dire need of just such addi
tions to the equipment of the army,
had been plainly communicated to Cap
tain Jones, and he was resolved to ef
fect the capture if it were humanly
possible. The matter had also been
reported to General Washington, and
such was his opinion of the necessity
of a prompt distribution and a speedy
forwarding of the supplies, if they
could be secured by the blessing of
Providence, and so little was his faith
in the inefficient commissariat, which,
moreover, had to endeavor to keep the
balance between different colonies and
different bodies of troops, more or less
loosely coherent, that he had detailed
one of his own staff officers to accom
pany the ship, with explicit instruc
tions as to the exact distribution and
the prompt forwarding which the
needs of the troops rendered neces-j
eary when the captured ship should!
reach port, which would probably be'
Boston, though circumstances might]
render it advisable to take the longerJ
Journey to Philadelphia. The officer!
to whom this duty had been allotted!
was Talbot, of whose capacity and en-J
ergy General Washington already
thought highly, the three weeks of
their military association only confirm
ing his previous opinion. It was un
derstood that Seymour, who was Jones'
first lieutenant and would shortly be
promoted to a captaincy, would bring
back the transport if they were lucky
enough to capture it In case they
were unsuccessful Talbot was to re
port himself to the commissioners at
Paris as military secretary until fur
ther orders, and Seymour was to com
mand the Ranger when Jones should
get a better ship in France.
those Duilt especially for naval pur
poses. She was originally intended
for twenty-six guns, but the number,
through the wisdom of her captain,
who had fathomed the qualifications
of the ship, had been reduced to eight
een, four long twelves and the rest six
pounders and smaller, with one long
eighteen forward She had been some
days in commission, and the effect of
Jones' iron discipline was already ap
parent in the absence of confusion
and in the cleanness and order of the
ship. The vessel had been very popu
lar with the good people of Philadel
phia, her commander and officers like
wise, many of the latter, like Sey
mour, being natives of the town, and
a constant stream 6f visitors had in
spected her at all permitted hours.
The presence of these visitors, of
course, including many ladies, coupled
with an inherent vanity and love of
finery and neatness on the part of the
captainand, to do him justice, his ap
preciation of the necessity for order
and neatnesshad caused him to
maintain his ship in the handsomest
possible trim, and he had not scrupled
to employ his private fortune to beau
tify the vessel in many small ways,
the details of which would have es
caped any eye but that of a seaman,
though the general results were ap
parent.
That general appearance which
should always distinguish a trim and
well ordered vessel of war from the
clumsy and disorderly trader was due
entirely to his efforts. The crew,
as we have seen, had chafed under the
unusual restraints of this stern disci
pline, but they were unable, as, in
deed in the last resort they would
have been unwilling, to oppose it.
Some of the older men, to*), and some
of those who had sailed with Jones
in his already famous cruises, held out
the hope of large prize money, and,
what was better with many of them,
the chance of a blow at the enemy, if
any of her cruisers of anything like
equal force appe?reda chance sure to
come about in the frequented waters
of the English channel.
The crew of an American man-of
war at that period, at least the native
portion of it always in overwhelming
majority, was of much higher class
than the general run of seafaring men.
Among those in the Ranger were sev
eral who had been mates of merchant-
menBentley again among the num
bermen of some education and able
to serve their country as officers with
credit, had the navy been increased as
it should have been, and whose subor
dinate positions only indicated their
intense patriotism. The low and de
graded element which sometimes is
such a source of mischief and disaster
in ships' crews was conspicuous by its
absence. The reputation of Captain
Jones as a disciplinarian was very well
known among sailors generally, and
only his reputation as a fighter and a
successful prize taker would have en
abled him to assemble the remarkable
crew to which he had spoken and
which was to back him up so gallantly
in many desperate undertakings and
wonderful sea fights of this and his
succeeding phenomenal cruise
Seymour had rapidly recovered from
his wounds under Madam Talbot's
careful nursing and ministrations, and
when his orders reached him he had
been ready, accompanied by Philip
Wilton and Bentley, to join his ship
at once.
He still carried the blood stained
handkerchief, and many and many a
time had laid it, with its initials, "K.
W.," embroidered by her own hand,
upon his lips This was not his only
treasure, however. In a wallet in the
breast pocket of his coat he carried
and treasured a letter, only the veriest
scrap of paper, with these few lines
hastily written upon it:
These by a friendly hand. We are to
accompany Lord Dunmore to England
next week as prisoners in the ship Rad
nor. Both well, but very unhappy I love
you KATHARINE
This note had been brought to him,
the day before his departure from
Fairview Hall, by one of the slaves
from the Wilton place, who had in
turn received it from a stranger who
had handed it to him with the orders
that it be given to Lieutenant Sey
mour if he were within the neighbor
hood if not, it was to be destroyed.
There was no address on the outside
of the letter, which, indeed, was only
a soiled and torn bit of paper, and un
sealed. Seymour had hitherto com
municated this news to no one, and
was hesitating whether or no to tell
Talbot who had that day joined the
ship.
Seymour found Talbot and the cap
tain together, when, after giving his
name to the negro boy, Joe, who wait
ed in attendance, for Captain Jones
was one of the most punctilious of
men, he was ushered into the cap
tain's cabin.
"Come in, Seymour," said the cap
tain genially, laying aside the formal
address of the quarter deck. "Joe, a
glass of wine for Mr. Seymour. Has
the watch been set?"
"Yes, sir, and Lieutenant Walling
ford has the deck."
"Ah, that's well he knows the chan
nel like a pilot Sit down, man."
"Thank you, captain. How do you
like your first experience on a ship-of
war, Talbot?"
"Very much, indeed," answered the
young officer, "and if we shall only
succeed in capturing the transport I
shall like it much better."
"Well, gentlemen," said Captain
Jones, "I will give you a toast. Here's
to a successful cruise, many prizes,
good chances at the enemy, and, of
course, first of all, the capture of the
transport, though that will deprive me
of the pleasure of your society. I in
tend to bear away to the northeast
immediately we pass the capes, and I
count upon striking the transport
somewhere off Halifax. If we should
succeed in capturing her I am of the
opinion, if her cargo proves as valu
able as_ reported, that my best course
if%fc*7?
would be to convoy "hereto one of our
ports, or at least so far upon her way
as to insure her safe arrival. The car
go would be too important to be lost
or recaptured under any circum
stances," he continued meditatively.
"Well, I think I would better go on
deck for the present. You will excuse
me, Mr. Talbot, I am sure. You will
both dine with me tonight. Seymour,
a word with you," he continued, open
ing the door and going out followed
by his executive officer.
CHAPTER XIII.
C^lIX days out from the capes of
|\j Delaware bay, and the Ran-
BffiPEJSl ger was cruising between
Wm\iiinf Halifax and Boston, about
100 leagues east of Cape Sable. If
there be truth in the maxim that a
ship is never fit for action until she
has been a week at sea, the Ranger
might be considered as ready for any
emergency now. The crew had thor
oughly learned their stations they and
the officers had become acquainted
with each other the possibilities of
the ship in different weather and on
various points of sailing had been as
certained. The drill at quarters twice
daily and the regular target practice
with great guns and the exercises with
small arms had materially developed
the offensive and defensive possibili
ties of the ship.
The already warm friendship between
Seymour and Talbot, now thrown into
close association by the necessary con
finement of a small ship, had grown
into an intimacy, and they held many
discussions concerning their absent
friends in the long hours of the night
watches. Talbot had learned through
common rumor before they sailed that
Colonel Wilton would probably be sent
to England with Lord Dunmore, whose
retirement under the vigorous policy
pursued by the Virginians under the
leadership of Patrick Henry, who had
been elected governor, was inevitable,
and he did not doubt but that Katha
rine would accompany her father. He
had never told Seymour of the plans
which had involved the destinies of
Katharine and himself, and something
had restrained him from mentioning
either his hopes or his affection for
her, though time and absence had but
intensified his passion until it was the
consuming idea of his soul.
This reserve was matched by a sim
ilar reticence on the part of Seymour,
who had said nothing of the note he
had received and had not communicat
ed the news of his own successful suit
to his unsuspecting rival. Seymour
had a much clearer apprehension of
the situation than Talbot and, intrench
ed in Katharine's confession, could en
dure it without disquiet, magnanimous
ly saying nothing which could disturb
his less favored rival.
The situation, however, was clearly
an impossible one, and that there
would be a sudden break in the friend
ship, when Talbot found out the true
state of affairs, he did not doubt. This
was a grief to him, for he really liked
the young man and would gladly have
Ispared his friend any pain if it were
possible However, since there was
only one Kate in the world, and she was
his, he saw no way out of the difficulty
and could only allow Talbot to drift
along blindly in his fool's paradise un
til his eyes were opened. Both the
young men were favorites with Cap
tain Jones, and he treated them in a
very different manner from that he
jnsually assumed to his subordinates,
for Jones was a msa to be respected
and feared rather than loved.
Late in the afternoon, the ship being
under all plain sad on the port tack,
heading due west, the voice of the
lookout on the main royal yard floated
down to the deck in that hail which is
always thrilling at sea and was dou
bly so in this instance:
"Sail, ho!"
Motioning to the officer of the deck,
Jones himself replied in his powerful
voice:
"J will qive uou a toast,"
Where away?"
"Broad off the lee beam, sir.*1
"Can you make her out?"
"No, sir not yet"
"Well, keep your eye lifting, my
man, and sing out when you do. Mr.
Simpson," he said, turning to the offi
cer of the deck, "let her go off a cou
ple of points."
"Aye, aye, sir. Up with the helm,
quartermaster, round in the weather
braces, rise tacks and sheets."
The speed of the ship going free was
materially increased at once, and in a
few moments the lookout once more
hailed the deck:
"I can make her out now, sir."
"What is it?"
"A ship, siraye, and there Isjonoth-
^fi^
er one with her, and a third. I can'tfir
tell what she is, sir. The first oner
looks like a large ship
"Mr. Wallingford, take the glass and
go up the crosstrees and see what you
make of them, sir," said the captain.
"Very good, sir," replied the lieuten
ant springing into the main rigging
and rapidly ascending to the cross
trees, glass in hand.
"Gentlemen, we will have a nearer
look at these gentry," continued the
captain, glancing back at the officers,
who had all come up from below,
while the men, equally interested,
were crowding on the forecastle and
gazing eagerly in the direction of the
reported sails, which were not yet vis
ible from the deck.
"On deck, there!"
"Aye, aye! What is it?"
"I can make out five ships, and two
brigs, and a schooner, and some other
sails just rising, all close hauled on
the port tack I think there are more
of them, sir, but I can't say yet. We
are rapidly drawing on them and shall
be able to make them out in a minute.
I think it is a convoy or a fleet"
"That will do, Mr. Wallingford. Lay
down on deck, sir. Give the glass to
the man on th*e royal yard, though, be
fore you come. Who is he?"
"It is me, sirJack Thompson."
"Keep a bright lookout then, Thomp
son, and if yon's an enemy's fleet or
convoy it means a glass of grog and a
guinea for you when your watch is
over."
"Thankee, sir!" cried the delighted
seaman.
"Mr. Wallingford, could you make
anything out of the size of the ships?"
"One of them I should say was a
large ship, a frigate or ship of the line
possibly. The others were too far off."
"It can't be a fleet" replied Captain
Jones. "There are not so many of
the enemy's ships together in these
waters, if we are correctly informed.
I suspect it must be a lot of merchant
men and transports convoyed by two
or three men-of-war. Now is our op
portunity, gentlemen," he continued,
his eyes sparkling with delight "They
are apparently beating in for Halifax,
and probably the Mellish, our trans
port, will be among them. We will
pay them a visit tonight in any event.
I wouldn't let them pass by without a
bow or two if they were a fleet of two
deckers."
Apparently this reckless bravado en
tirely suited the ship's company, for
one of the men who had heard the
doughty captain's speech called for
three cheers, which were given with a
Will.
"Aye, that's a fine, hearty crew and
full of fight Call on all hands, Mr.
Simpson."
This was more or less a perfunctory
order, since every man from the jack
of-the-dust to the captain was already
on deck.
"Mr. Seymour," said Jones to the
first lieutenant who had taken the
trumpet at the call of all hands, "we
must dress for the ball, and our best
disguise for the present will be that of
a merchantman. I don't suppose that
the English imagine that we have a
ship afloat in these waters, and possi
bly they can't see us against this cloud
bank in this twilight as we can see
them against the setting sun but we
will be on the safe side for the few
moments of daylight left us. They
may be looking at us over there, so
we will hoist the English flag at
once, and, as we are nearing them
a little too rapidly, better brail up tho
fore and main sails and take in the
royals and the fore and mizzen topgal
lant sails for the -present and slack off
the running gear. Then beat to quar
ters and have the guns run in and dou
ble shotted, close the ports and have
the arms distributed clear the fore
castle, too, except of two or three men,
and bid everybody observe the strictest
quiet, especially when we get in among
the convoy," he continued rapidly.
"You can see them now from the
deck, sir," said Lieutenant Simpson,
handing the glass to the captain,
"Aye, so you can, but not well.
Main royal there, can you make them
out any better?"
"Yes, sir. There's eighteen sail of
them one is a frigate and one looks
like a sloop of war, sir. The rest is
merchantmen, some of 'em armed."
"Very good. Have they seen us yet?"
"Don't appear to take no notice on us
so far, sir."
"Come down from aloft then and get
your grog and guinea, Jack. We won't
need you up there any more. It is get
ting too dark to see anything there
anyway. Beat to quarters, Mr. Sey
mour. Ah, there go the lights in the
convoy!"
For the next few moments the decks
presented a scene of wild confusion,
which gradually settled down into an
orderly quiet, the various directions of
the captain were promptly carried out
and the ship was speedily prepared for
the conflict, though outwardly she had
lost her warlike appearance and now
resembled a peaceful trader.
While the Ranger had been slowly
drawing nearer to the sluggish fleet of
merchantmen and their convoy the
early twilight of the late season faded
away and soon gave place to darkness.
The night was cloudy, the sky being
much overcast and there was no
moon, all of which was well for the
present purpose.
The men thoroughly appreciated the
hazardous nature of this advance upon
the unsuspecting fleet, protected by
two heavy vessels of war, either of
which was probably much stronger
than their own ship, but the very au
dacity and boldness with which the af
fair was being carried out thoroughly
suited the daring crew.
Most of them had stripped to the
waist in anticipation of the coming
conflict for they felt confident that the
fleet would not escape -without a bat
tle, and during the next hour they clus
tered about the guns, quietly whisper
ing among themselves and eagerly
Waiting the events of the night The
if"
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