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a sitting at table with the passengers after dinner, and says he, . If you please, sir, could you step upon deck a minute?' Why what's the matter?' cried out several voices at once, but he never makes no answer, 'cause, you see, he didn't want to frighten the pas. sengers, but up he goes again. The captain follows him up, and then the mate points out to him what by this time it was plain to see was a large schooner a standing on towards us upon the other tack. The captain he gives her a long look, and with that his countenance falls like a man that felt he'd got the worst of it. That's a privateer,' says he, as sure as I'm alive, and its to prison we're a going at this minute.' He didn't mean that the last part o'what he said should be heerd, but he couldn't help speaking it, neither could he help its being heerd, for as he turned away from the mate there was one of the
pas sengers t'other side on him, as had come up to see what was going on, to report to the rest. Well, as was nat'rel enough, he, that is the passenger, was a little taken a-back at first, but he was soon all right again, and arter he'd a looked at the stranye sail a bit, says he, do you really think she's a privateer, captain ?" "There bean't no doubt on't, sir,' says the skipper, 'she's rigged a bit clumsily or so, but that's all gammon, just that she mightn’t frighten people and so that she may take them unawares, but that game won't do with old birds; I see what she's made of, and what she's arter; and you may take my word she'll be down upon us in no time, with her decks as full o' men as a hive's full o' bees.'
Well, but what's to be done, captain ?' says the passenger.
“Faith! there's not much to be done, sir, she'll sail two feet to our one, you may depend on't, and as to fighting her, it's out of the question.'
“ • Bless my heart, captain,' says t’other, I'm surprised to hear you say so; I should think we might have been more than a match for her.
“. Love your heart, sir,' says the captain, 'look you here, it's all very well for a ship like this to have a brush with another armed vessel of her own class, and mayhap to make a prize or so of a merchantman, but it's no manner o use thinking that ever she can contend with a regular armed vessel that can sail round her and has ten men to her one ; it ain't to be thought on, and I'll not run my crew and passengers into danger; it's bad enough for 'em to be clapped into a French prison, but it would be ten times worse to be knocked about by that fellow's guns, and what's more, if we shows fight and gets beaten, as we surely must, why they'll come aboard like so many buccaneers, and, not to speak of hanging me up, the Lord have mercy on the passengers !'
“ The latter part of this speech was heard, I must tell you, by a many of the passengers as had come up on deck to see what kept the first gentleman from bringing them the news, and the word being soon passed from one to the other a pretty coinmotion there was, as you may
I never seed the like on't. Some there were a crying, some a fainting, some a swaggeriny ; but most a begging and a
praying that there might be no fighting; and one lady begged as a partickler favour of the captain that he'd just put her ashore till the skrimmage was over.
“Hows'ever, the passenger as had come up first was a man o' metal, and so he gets the captain away again, and says he, Captain,' says he,' you
know the owners of this vessel are particular friends o' mine, and you know that she's got a valuable cargo on board, and that she's armed to defend that cargo; well, now I tell you plainly, that you're not doing your duty by the owners, and if you don't attend to me and fight that Frenchman, you may be sure I'll report you to the owners, and you'll never have another ship if you come out of the French-prison tomorrow.'
Well, with that the captain looks all of a flustration, and he bites his lip, and looks the gemman hard in the face a waiting to see what more he'd got to say, but on the contrary he was a waiting for the captain's answer.
“ At last the captain says, “Well, sir, may be you're right and I'm wrong, but at any rate I meant to do for the best; and don't you suppose, sir, that I'm afraid to fight as far as I'm concerned myself, it's for others I'm thinking :- I'd as lief fight as not, but I don't like the responsibility; hows’ever, if you'll take the responsibility off my shoulders on that score, I'm your man, and I'll fight as long as you please, though I don't think it will be any good.'
“That's right,' says the passenger, I'll take the
blame: l’ll undertake to say that the owners would wish you to fight.'
«« Well, well, sir,' says the captain, here goes then ;' and with that he sets to work getting the ship into fighting trim, which many of the men didn't much like, for few men like fighting in a marchantman though they might be bull-dogs aboard a man-o'-war: somehow they ain't at home fighting if they haven't got a pennant over their heads. I say many of them, though there's been many a gallant thing done in trading vessels, as all the world knows. Well, to cut a long story short, down comes the schooner as if she'd made up her mind to lay aboard of us and have done with it as quickly as possible. Several of our passengers had volunteered to fight, and a precious rumpus there was amongst their wives and sisters and what not, and hard work it was to keep them below out o' harm's way, for a woman's like a horse, more apt to run right into a fire than away from it when she's frightened, and 'specially when she's afeard for them she loves. Well, by-and-by comes a shot, which goes right over our beads and does us no great harm.
“ Come,' says the skipper, if that's what you're at it's time to shew the bunting, so just hoist the ensign, and if we must fight, let's do it like hearts of oak.'
“No sooner said than done, up goes the old flag, and our chaps give a hearty cheer, and now it's all for who'll be foremost in the fight, though by orders our shots was saved till they could tell, when the skipper sings out, “Holloa there! what's the chap up to now?-I'm bless'd if that ain't the English ensign as he's a hoisting at his peak;' and so it war' sure enough : and up she goes into the wind, whilst all hands aboard of her jump upon the bulwarks and give three hearty English cheers. Well, sirs, you should have seen the joy of our folks at this, and heard them a cheering: bless you, it warn't the twinkling of an eye before all the women was upon deck a crying, and a kissing, and a waving of their handkerchiefs, and pretty nigh beside themselves at their deliverance from the dread of fighting, and imprisonment, and all sorts o' horrors. In coorse our captain heaves to the ship, and in a little while the captain of the schooner comes aboard, and such a greeting as there was between the captains you never saw, for you see the fact was that when they on board the schooner, which was a trader, saw us, they set us down for a French cruiser, and made sure of going to prison; · But,' says the captain, the only chance in the world for us is to put a good face on it, and as we are rather rakish-looking, to make the fellows believe that we're armed and ready and anxious to fight, in which case perhaps they'll sheer off