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A heavy splash in the water told me that the unhappy man was indeed overboard. One long and piercing shriek, uttered as the stern of the vessel passed him when he rose to the surface, thrilled through every nerve of my heart. The ship was going fast through the water -his cries waxed fainter and fainter on the breeze and at length ceased altogether.
Knowing it to be my turn next, I braced up my heart as well as I could, and prepared for my fate.
“ Well, my young spark,” said the pirate addressing me, “ what say you to it ? are you going to be reasonable, and give up the gold ; or are you ready to take a trip to Davy Jones's locker in the wake of your captain ? You see there is no use in shamming here."
6 You forget,” said another voice, “ that he did'nt see the fun at all. I doused his glims with the flash of my cracker, when I thought I had sent the slugs through his lubberly brains. I can do that yet !..But in the mean time, since I've darkened his daylights, it is but fair I set them to rights again. Hand here that cutlass of yours, Martinique, and I'll give him a touch of it over the lids ; I'll be bound I'll soon let in the light, and doctor him to his heart's content.” With a shudder, I stood expecting to feel the sharp edge of the weapon drawn across my eyes, when their captain interfered. 66 Avast a bit, Derrick ! let the poor devil's blinkers alone while he tells us where the shinners are to be got.' I now related the circumstance of my having been picked up at sea; that I had been made mate in Savannah, and could know nothing about the gold. I tried to convince them that only a madman would risk his life to secrete property from which he could reap no benefit. But I might have saved my pains ; I was no more believed than the captain had been. “ It's all a fair-weather story,” said the pirate, “ all blarney—but it won't go down ! I see we are to get nothing by listening to your palavers. Walking the plank's a d- d deal too good we'll have to go on another tack with you, my spanker, to bring you by the wind. Here, Cuba, and you Juan, cast a single hitch round his head with that line, make one end fast to the mast, and heave the other tight with the capstan ; we'll soon give him a close fitting cap to make a clear breast in !” The negroes accordingly approached and laid hands on me to lead me forward, when just at that critical juncture, the man at the mast-head sung out, “ A sail to leeward !” I was released and ordered below again, the crew were dispersed to rig out the studding-sails and clear for action, and in a short time I felt from the motion of the ship that she was flying under a press of canvas. In a state of no small anxiety, oping that the chase
ght prove a cruizer, I waited for hours, listening to every thing that could indicate what was going on. The bustle above had subsided, from which I inferred that the men were at their quarters; and I heard nothing but the steps of their commander as he paced fore and aft, conning to the steersman. At length a bow-chaser was fired : after a brief interval it was again repeated, and quickly answered with three cheers and a broadside. How my heart beat with joy at the sound ! All was now bustle and confusion. Broadside after broadside was exchanged with fatal effect among the pirates ; the closeness and precision of whose fire hy no mcans equalled that of their adversaries. But to me the groans of ried away.
their wounded was delightful music; and the crush of the balls, as they tore through the side of the vessel, filled me with ecstasy. The conflict continued with unabated fury; for the pirates, aware of their fate if taken, fought with all the desperate resolution of men reckless of death, till, receiving a tremendous broadside that made the ship almost heel gunnel-in, a terrible crash took place above, and the cheer. ing of her opponent made me suppose that one of our masts was car.
Our firing now became slack, and soon ceased altogether. Still, however, the uproar continued on deck—the hurried tramp of feet running here and there-the clamour of tongues—the bawling forth of commands which seemed unheeded, intermingled with horrible oaths and imprecations. At length, all this disturbance ceased at once, and I heard the stroke of oars alongside.
I now supposed that the pirates had surrendered, and that the other party were taking possession. I waited for some time, surprised that no person came below, till I thought I felt the cabin filling with smoke. All at once a horrible suspicion rushed across me that the ship was on fire, and deserted by the crew; and that I was left, alone and helpless, to be devoured by the flames. Overcome with the utter hopelessness of my situation, I staggered against the side--my brain quite bewil. dered, and my heart swelling almost to suffocation. In a few minutes I again became capable of reflection—a hope that I might yet be perceived, and rescued by the other vessel, darted like a ray of light through my mind. I started up, and hurried on deck as fast as my blindness would permit_I inquired aloud if any person was on board -but the groans of some dying wretch alone answered to my demand. I tried to run forward to the main-deck, but the wreck of the fallen masts completely blocked up the way. I therefore retraced my steps, climbed the highest part of the prostrate spar-waved a small fragment of sail over my head by way of a signal, and shouted with my whole force. Again and again I repeated my cry, listening between whiles with breathless attention for the blessed sound of a human voice returning my cheer ; but all was silence save the audible pulsation of my own heart the fearful roaring and crackling of the flames—and the sputtering, hissing sound of the blazing tar. The ship had now swung round with her head to the wind, and the excessive heat of the smoke warned me that the fire had gained the quarter-deck and was swiftly approaching : to retain my situation was no longer practicable-nothing remained for me but to trust myself to the waves before it reached the powder-room. Without reflecting that I was only avoiding death for a few moments longer, and had no chance of ultimately escaping, I jumped down on deck-searched for a rope-tied it round a hen-coop, and lowered it into the water. I then slid down on the top of it—undid the line, and with my breast on the raft, and my legs in the water, propelled it from the vessel. In this half-swimming fashion I urged it forward with all my might for
considerable time, till I heard the ship blow up. I now stopped to take breath, for my overwrought strength began to fail
Several times I lost the coop, which I regained after much labour and swimming about, only to be washed from it again. These repeated plunges were fast diminishing my little remaining strength
my grasp was becoming more and more feeble. The instinctive desire for preserving life which had led me to make such powerful exertions was now leaving me. I grew indifferent as to my fate. I cared not whether I lived or died. A languor, a listlessness, took possession of both mind and body. A sensation of drowsiness gently stole over me>I felt no pain--my only desire was to obtain sleep, and I was on the point of resigning myself to its influence, when the halloo of voices smote on my ear. Like a touch of electricity I felt a renewed vigour shoot through every nerve ; again I strove, and clung more firmly to the coop, and returned the shout with all my remaining voice. But the momentary ebullition was gonem nature was totally exhausted—I could bear up no longer-I ceased to struggle. Again the waters flow. ed round my mouth-gurgled in my throat-closed over my head-I was conscious of gradually going down-when, all of a sudden, something grasped me by the hair, and gave me a violent pull to the sur. face.
When I recovered my senses, I found myself surrounded by several people, who informed me that I was on board his Majesty's gun-brig, Snarler, whose boats had captured the pirates after their desertion of the ship, and on their return had observed and picked me up. Under the hands of their surgeon I soon recovered my sight, and by the time we arrived at Halifax, I was as well as ever.
On my return home, I found Cuthbertson had sailed just before I arrived, and though we had both of us Clyde ships, we never had the fortune to be in at the same time; so we never met again.
It will now be eight years this season, since I got command of the Severn. I joined convoy at Cork, for North America, and sailed in company with a large fleet.
We had baffling head-winds the whole passage, but we beat on till within a few days' sail of Cape Breton, when it came on to blow the hardest gale I ever reefed canvas in. The fleet was all scattered here and there, like a flock of wild geese, making the best they could of it. It was a fearful nightmas black as pitch, and rendered more appalling by tremendous flashes of lightning at short intervals. I have weathered many a storm, but lightning so vivid and lengthened I never witnessed. The mate and half of the crew had turned-in for the second watch ; I had, therefore, the charge on deck, and was scudding the ship under a close-reefed foresail, keeping a look-out on a light shewn by some vessel close under our lee-bow, when, all at once, it gave a deep lurch to larboard, and disappeared. Whatever she was, I instantly knew that she must have broached-to, capsized, and was probably foundering ; I therefore called to the man at the helm to haul his wind on the starboard tack, and keep clear of the wreck. This we had hardly accomplished, when a sheet of fire showed me a ship on her beam ends, right under our lee-quarter. Every thing had been washed off her decks, with the exception of one solitary figure who stood holding on by the weather rails. He looked up to our stern lantern, as we rushed past him, almost to touching. The light fell full and strong on his upraised face, and uncovered head, and to my grief and horror, I recognised the countenance of poor George Cuthbertson. Instinctively I threw myself half over the quarter-gal.
lery--stretched forth my hands to snatch him from his perilous situation, and loudly called out his name. I make no doubt that he heard and knew the voice of his old friend, for he gave a faint reply ; too faint, indeed, for me to distinguish the words ; but as a token of his recognition he opened his arms, as if to embrace me, waved his hand, and pointed homeward. I understood the signal I essayed to countersign, but the vessel was again sweeping before the wind and we left him to his fate. One minute afterwards, another flash shewed me her main topmast-head disappearing amidst the foam of a tremendous breaker.
It was now that his last promise in Mondego Bay, so long for. got, recurred to my recollection. I pondered it over in my mind, and tried, as I had done then, to slight and laugh it past. I fancied I had reasoned myself out of my apprehensions, but a lurking tremor at bottom made me fear that the calm was only on the surface.
The whole fleet after the gale, made their destination in safety, but the old Lion of Port Glasgow never cast up.
Time passed on, till that very day twelvemonth-when in such an. other gale, and at the self same hour, I again saw the Lion founder. But the vision was only disclosed to my eyes. That voyage I lost the Severn; she sprung a leak at sea, we left her with seven feet water in her hold, and just cleared her before she went down. I saw the same vision again, after the lapse of three years, and I was then wreck ed on the coast of Holland. Now for the last time I have seen it this night.
I have long felt the withering touch of the finger of fate, but now the whole weight of its hand is on me. My existence has drawn to its final close, for I dare no longer disbelieve the warning. And better it is to die at once, than live thus in the continual fear of death. That which to others is enjoyment of life, is to me only a source of misery : surrounded by their families and kindred, they look through the vista of future years, and only see happiness waving them forward on their journey-but, sleeping or waking, in light or darkness, the vision of the foundering ship has never been from before my eyes. O Sir! pray that you may never feel the curse of being a doomed man-to have the book of fate, as it were, laid open to you. From the careless, lighthearted, rattling sailor, what a miserable transition to the gloomy, melancholy, wretched being that I now am. And yet at times I have roused myself to shake off these feelings, and with the rich man in the parable, have said, “ Soul, take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry ;" but the response rang in mine ear, with a voice like thunder, “ Thou fool this very night shall thy soul be required of thee !"
Here we were interrupted by the boatswain piping up the morning watch. The captain started to his feet, and went on deck to relieve the mate, while I again retreated to bed, and fell asleep, musing over the strangeness of the narrative.
When I ascended the deck next morning, I found a ship lying becalmed at a little distance from us, and Miss B examining her, with great delight, through a spyglass, full of conjectures as to her
pay a din
name and destination. The wind had died quite away, the sea wa's like a vast mirror all round us, and nothing remained to indicate the preceding night's storm. The vivifying influence of the morning sun and clear atmosphere raised all our spirits, and Gilkison even appeared in some degree cheerful. While we loitered about, giving our several opinions of the strangers, we saw them lower their boat, row for our ship, and in a short time come along side. They proved acquaintances of the captain, and of Miss B , homeward bound, and we welcomed them on board with pleasure. In course of conversation, they expressed their regret at not knowing us sooner, or they would have brought a present of half a turtle to the cabin, and some fruit for Miss Bbut by way of making up for our loss, they proposed our accompany. ing them back to the John Campbell, to dine with their female passengers, and return in the evening. Miss B- was all joy at the proposal; she had never eat turtle--and it was long since she had tasted West India fruits ; besides, it would be such a delightful novelty to
visit in the middle of the ocean. I deo ned the invitation, and went below to write Jetters home. On my return with my packet, I found the captain trying to persuade her to give up the thoughts of going, as it was dangerous to be in a small boat on the western ocean, if the wind or sea suddenly rose. But the lady could see none in the calmness and serenity of the day ; she had crossed over to Roseneath many times when the sea was rough, without alarm, and never met with an accident. In short, her heart was set upon it, and go she would, even though it were in the strangers' boat, if he was so much afraid. This was out of the question--she had been particularly re. commended to his care, and, seeing her so positive, he gave up farther opposition. The jolly-boat was lowered and manned-Miss Bhanded down—the captain took his seat at the helm, and the bow-oar pushing off, they pulled from the vessel.
During the day the ships had drifted to a considerable distance from each other, but as the evening set in, a smart breeze sprung up, accompanied with a haze; however, we could distinguish our boat leave the John Campbell, who fired a parting salute, and then setting all her canvas, bore away before the wind. We also got under-way, and with easy sail stood on in the direction of the boat. The time passed in which we expected to fall in with her, but still she did not make her appearance. Becoming rather uneasy, I proposed to heave the vessel to, lest we should pass them in the dark, and to show lights ; for the fog had become so dense that we could not see the length of the ship before us.
This was instantly done ; and guns fired to direct them in case they might not perceive our lights. Hour after hour we passed in this manner, in a state of terrible anxiety and alarm. Daylight at length began to break—the fog had cleared away, and the mate ran up to the topmast-head with the glass, to have a better survey all round. The ship was also got under-way again, and we cruized about the whole day in all directions. But our search was fruitless. In due time the Susannah arrived safe at Barbadoes but the boat and her crew were never more heard of.