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in on deck out of the main rigging, just as Mr. Treenail was mustering the crew at eight bells. When I landed on the quarterdeck, there he stood abaft the binnacle, with the light shining on his face, his glazed hat glancing, and the rain-drop sparkling at the brim of it. He had noticed me the moment I descended.
“Heyday, Master Cringle, you are surely out of your watch. Why, what are you doing here, eh?”
I stepped up to him, and told him the truth, that, being overfatigued, I had fallen asleep in the top.
“Well, well, boy,” said he, “never mind, go below, and turn in; if you don't take your rest, you never will be a sailor."
But what do you see aloft?” glancing his eye upwards, and all the crew on deck, as I passed them, looked anxiously up also amongst the rigging, as if wondering what I saw there, for I had been so chilled in my snoose, that my neck, from resting in the cold on the coil of rope, had become stiffened and rigid to an intolerable degree; and although, when I first came on deck, I had, by a strong exertion, brought my caput to its proper bearings, yet the moment I was dismissed by my superior officer, I for my own comfort was glad to conform to the contraction of the muscle, whereby I once more strayed along the deck, glowering up into the heavens, as if I had seen some wonderful sight there.
“What do you see aloft?" repeated Mr. Treenail, while the crew, greatly puzzled, continued to follow my eyes, as they thought, and to stare up into the rigging.
"Why, sir, I have thereby got a stiff neck—that's all, sir.'
“Go and turn in at once, my good boy — make haste, now; tell our steward to give you a glass of hot grog
and mind your hand that you don't get sick."
I did as was desired, swallowed the grog, and turned in; but I could not have been in bed above an hour, when the drum beat to quarters, and I had once more to bundle out on the cold wet deck, where I found all excitement. At the time I speak of, we had been beaten by the Americans in several actions of single ships, and our discipline improved in proportion as we came to learn, by sad experience, that the enemy was not to be undervalued. I found that there was a ship in sight, right ahead of us — apparently carrying all sail. A group of officers were on the forecastle with night-glasses, the whole crew being stationed in dark clusters round the guns at quarters. Several of the American skippers were forward amongst us, and they were of opinion that the chase was a man-ofwar, although our own people seemed to doubt this. One of the skippers insisted that she was the Hornet, from the unusual shortness of her lower masts, and the immense squareness of her yards. But the puzzle was, if it were the Hornet, why she did not shorten sail. Still this might be accounted for, by her either wishing to make out what we were before she engaged us, or she might be clearing for action. At this moment a whole cloud of studdingsails were blown from the yards as if the booms had been carrots; and to prove that the chase was keeping a bright look-out, she immediately kept away, and finally bore up dead before the wind, under the impression, no doubt, that she would draw ahead of us, from her gear being entire, before we could rig out our light sails again.
And so she did for a time, but at length we got within gunshot. The American masters were now ordered below, the hatches were clapped on, and the word passed to see all clear. Our shot was by this time flying over and over her, and it was evident she was not a man-of-war. We peppered away — she could not even be a privateer; we were close under her lee quarter, and yet she had never fired a shot; and her large swaggering Yankee ensign was now run up to the peak, only to be hauled down the next moment. Hurrah! a large cotton-ship from Charlestown to Bordeaux-prize to H.M.S. Torch!
She was taken possession of, and proved to be the Natches, of four hundred tons burden, fully loaded with cotton.
By the time we got the crew on board, and the secondlieutenant, with a prize crew of fifteen men, had taken charge, the weather began to lour again, nevertheless we took the prize in tow, and continued on our voyage for the next three days, without anything particular happening. It was the middle watch, and I was sound asleep, when I was startled by a violent jerking of my hammock, and a cry "that the brig was amongst the breakers." I ran on deck in my shirt, where I found all hands, and a scene of confusion such as I never had witnessed before. The gale had increased, yet the prize had not been cast off, and the consequence was, that by some mismanagement or carelessness, the swag of the large ship had suddenly hove the brig in the wind, and taken the sails aback. We accordingly fetched stern way, and ran foul of the prize, and there we were, in a heavy sea, with our stern grinding against the cotton-ship's high quarter.
The mainboom, by the first rasp that took place after I came on deck, was broken short off, and nearly twelve feet of it hove right in over the taffrail; the vessels then closed, and the next rub ground off the ship's mizzen channel as clean as if it had been sawed away. Officers shouting, men swearing, rigging cracking, the vessels crashing and thumping together, I thought we were gone, when the first lieutenant seized his trumpet — "Silence, men; hold your tongues, you cowards, and mind the word of command !"
The effect was magical. — “ Brace round the foreyard — round with it; set the jib — that's it — fore-topmast staysail — haul — never mind if the gale takes it out of the bolt-rope" — a thundering flap, and away it flew in truth down to leeward, like a puff of white smoke. -“Never mind, men, the jib stands. Belay all that — down with the helm, now — don't you see she has stern way yet? Zounds! we shall be smashed to atoms if you don't mind your hands, you lubbers — main-topsail sheets let fy — there she pays off, and has headway once more - that's it: right your helm, now — never mind his spanker-boom, the fore-stay will stand it: there — up with helm, sir — we have cleared him — hurrah!” And a near thing it was too, but we soon had everything snug; and although the gale continued without any intermission for ten days, at length we ran in and anchored with our prize in Five-Fathom Hole, off the entrance to St. George's Harbour.
It was lucky for us that we got to anchor at the time we did, for that same afternoon one of the most tremendous gales of wind from the westward came on that I ever saw. Fortunately it was steady and did not veer about, and having good ground-tackle down, we rode it out well enough. The effect was very uncommon; the wind was howling over our mast-heads, and amongst the cedar bushes on the cliffs above, while on deck it was nearly calm, and there was very little swell, being a weather shore; but half a mile out at sea all was white foam, and the tumbling waves seemed to meet from north and south, leaving a space of smooth water under the lee of the island, shaped like the tail of a comet, tapering away, and gradually roughening and becoming more stormy, until the roaring billows once more owned allegiance to the genius of the storm.
There we rode, with three anchors ahead, in safety through the night; and next day, availing of a temporary
lull, we ran up and anchored off the Tanks. Three days after this, the American frigate President was brought in by the Endymion and the rest of the squadron.
I went on board, in common with every officer in the fleet, and certainly I never saw a more superb vessel; her scantling was that of a seventy-four, and she appeared to have been fitted with great care. I got a week's leave at this time, and, as I had letters to several families, I contrived to spend my time pleasantly enough.
Bermuda, as all the world knows, is a cluster of islands in the middle of the Atlantic. There are Lord knows how many of them, but the beauty of the little straits and creeks which divide them no man can describe who has not seen them. The town of St. George's, for instance, looks as if the houses were cut out of chalk; and one evening the family where I was on a visit proceeded to the main island, Hamilton, to attend a ball there. We had to cross three ferries, although the distance was not above nine miles, if so far. The 'Mudian women are unquestionably beautiful — so thought Thomas Moore, a tolerable judge, before me. By the by, touching this 'Mudian ball, it was a very gay affair — the women pleasant and beautiful; but all the men, when they speak, or are spoken to, shut one eye and spit; a lucid and succinct description of a community.
The second day of my sojourn was fine — the first fine day since our arrival — and with several young ladies of the family, I was prowling through the cedar wood above St. George's, when a dark good-looking man passed us; he was dressed in tight worsted net pantaloons and Hessian boots, and wore a blue frockcoat and two large epaulets, with rich French bullion, and a round hat. On passing, he touched his hat with much grace, and in the evening I met him in society. It was Commodore Decatur. He was very much a Frenchman in manner, or,