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Ham"—resumes its course. St Martha, the capital of the province of that name, is situated on one of the mouths of the Madelina, about one hundred miles west by south of the Rio de la Hache. At the time in which our scene is laid, the houses were built of canes, and covered mostly with palmeto leaves. Nearly enclosed on all sides by high mountains, it had hitherto escaped the ravages of the "free bands of the deep." The security they thus enjoyed had made the citizens careless; and part of the wall which had fallen down, they had entirely neglected to rebuild. The streets were confused and irregular; and before the keep or citadel of the town, was a space of ahundred yards free from houses, and sheltered by the presence of some of the mighty monarchs of the forest, which had been allowed to remain with all their leafy honours untouched, and used by the inhabitants as their prado.
We must now return to the decks of the Fearless.
"Tom, my boy," said Belson, as soon as he was on board, taking the arm of his first mate, and pacing the quarter-deck, "there's a lovely little place for plunder—there, away a knot or two to the south. We'll drop down with the false dawn, and lie up as near the shore as we can. We must have every hand we can spare; twenty will be enough to man her till we return; the rest must with us. Dost recollect the Spaniards we picked up last year? Well, I was alongside the pretty little hooker this night, and she was just going to shove off her boat with me, when a d—d old fireship of an aunt overhauled us, and laid an embargo on her sailing. The house stands close to the shore. As we make for the town, you'll strike to the starboard with Ben, and half a dozen hands, and keep the house safe. The cockswain knows the bearings."—" Ay, ay," replied the mate; but muttering as he left the skipper, "may I be blow'd if I like this petticoat watching. 'Tis just my luck always laid on a wrong tack when any thing's to be got; but it shall go hard with me if I don't wear into the town one way or other."
Four bells in the morning watch struck, and all was bustle on the decks of the Fearless, The boats were manned, and sped through the water swiftly and silently, and soon reached the shore; and, in one more trip, brought off the whole of the party, and were finally left riding close to the break of the wave, with a keeper in each. Ninety men now stood on the shore, firm and unshrinking in purpose, waiting the word of their leader to advance—where, they cared not. The word was quickly given, and on they went. After threading for some time the recesses of the forest, the cross surmounting the hacienda of d'Alverez hove in sight. "Ease off to the starboard, Tom, with your men," said Belson; "there's your pert."—" Ay, ay, sir." No other interruption occurred to stop their progress, and the skipper and his band came in sight of the town just as the first faint rays of the rising sun began to gild its numerous vanes and steeples. The buccaneers were almost in the breach before they were discovered by the Spaniards. The alarm was given, and in a moment the whole town was in an uproar. "Away there, my hearties!" shouted Belson, "a hundred dollars to the man first on the walls!" On swept the tars like a whirlwind; and the few Spaniards who had hastily formed to meet them, gave way like snow before the blast of June, and were instantly despatched on their road to purgatory or elsewhere, their foes stopped not to inquire. The wild shouts of the excited sailors rose high, mixed with the piercing wail of the women. Numbers of the inhabitants were cut down, as they fled from their houses, on the first sound of alarm; but numbers rapidly flocked to the keep. The keen glance of Belson saw, like lightning, the risk they ran. Already dropping shots began to tell on them, and their career to be stopped. "Fire the houses astern!" cried he, in a voice that sounded far above the roar of the conflict. 'Twas done, and the flames quickly seized the combustible materials of which they were built, and in a few moments the conflagration was general. Numbers perished, met by the raging element, as they sprang from their beds. "Every mother's son of ye, form close, and on for the keep." The half-armed inhabitants, who were hurrying there, as their only place of refuge, fell in heaps before the paths of their enemies. Their own countrymen, who had gained the wished-for haven, fearing the entrance, along with the fugitives, of their fierce and unsparing foe, (for when their blood was up, the buccaneers thought littleof quarter,) shut the gate on their fellow-citizens, regardless of all, save themselves. The prado, which the dawn fell on pure and peaceful, the morning sun saw trampled and soaked with the blood of the denizens of the earth. The bodies of the fallen served as a rampart to the seamen from the shot of the townsmen in the keep. The town was gained, all but that point, and to it their every effort was now turned. Every Spaniard that had appeared in the prado had fallen. From every side the groans of the wounded could be heard.
"You, there, Adams, take ten hands, and bring in every ladder you can find." A pause now ensued in the fight, broken only at intervals by the ringing of a fusil from one side or other. The skipper and his party lay behind a rampart of the dying and dead, hastily piled one above the other. The head of a foe served as a rest for the fusil; and the weapon that sped the death-billet of one mortal, was steadied on the body of another. In about ten minutes, Adams and his party returned, bringing eight ladders, about nine feetinheight, and a few prisoners. Giving three cheers for the success of their foraging party, the buccaneers once more rushed forward, driving the prisoners before them, and making them carry the ladders, which they were obliged to plant amidst the heavy fire of their own countrymen. Tar after tar clambered up them as soon as they were fixed; and after a hard struggle, Belson, Adams, and six of the men succeeded in gaining the top of the wall, which they kept till they were joined by more of the men, and at last the whole party were closely engaged on each side. The Spaniards soon wavered, broke, and fled. A party, however, of twenty of the bravest, with the governor, Don Jose de Perez, at their head, succeeded in throwing themselves into the cathedral, determined to defend themselves to the last. Quarter was offered them, but the doomed men refused. It, like all the other buildings, was built of cane. A lighted torch was thrust into it, and the buccaneers, retiring out of shot, left the devoted victims to their fate. Not a vestige of it now remains. The town was now completely in their possession; and fixing the keep as the rendezvous, and leaving a strong guard over the prisoners, Belson flew to rejoin Lora at the hacienda. Donna Isidora Nina d'Alverez had just put one leg out of bed, as the faint glimmer of morn broke through the crevices of her veranda; and as the fetters of sleep fled from her weary eyes, the recollection of the insult she had experienced the evening before from the heretic Inglese recurred to her memory; and as the pride of all the Castiles and her fifteen quarters swelled in her heart, she exclaimed, "The wretch! she shall go to the convent this blessed day, and take the veil too— by the Holy Mother of God she shall 1"—" My eyes, Bob, didst ever see such a reg'lar old un? Wouldst like to haul up alongside such a craft,and engage? eh, boy? Why I'mblow'd, if she don't be Old Moll the Wapping bumboat woman, out and out!"—"Oh, Mary Mother, and all good saints, save me!" shrieked the donna, as she saw the grim and wcatherbeaten faces of the cockswain and his comrades peering in at the door of her room. The mate and his party had easily made themselves master of the house; and the only ones who were in the least frightened, were one or two of the blackeyed damsels that were a little horrified at being so closely saluted; but the maritime eloquence and perseverance of Jack soon reconciled their little fluttering hearts to the novelty of their situation. A sentinel was placed outside the house; and the old lady and her niece were locked in a room together. The cellars were soon rummaged; and the cares of the world were for a time forgot. As the roar of the fight grew louder, the soft looks of the fair ones, now grown in
terested in their visitors, could hardly restrain them from joining their comrades in the town. The firing had ceased for some time, and the sentinel was resuming his quarter-deck pace, which he had ceased to listen for some sound that might inform him of the fate of the day, when he was stopped by Belson, breathless through the haste with which he had run. "All right, my lad, in the house I" —" Ay, ay, sir,—all safe and stowed away."—"That's right, my lad—the town is ours, and plenty in it too." A few steps, the room was gained, and Lora folded in the arms that loved her best. The feelings of her aunt were no doubt enviable at that moment. "We'll sail this evening, love, to the land of liberty, in spite of old Fagot there; and when my commission's made out as commander of my tight little hooker here, if I'm not the happiest fellow that ever wore a blue jacket, why, I'm d—d if I don't deserve to be flung overboard, and keelhauled through every fleet in Europe!"
Little more now remains to be told. The plunder they got in the town was beyond their expectation; and their joy was only damped through regret for those who had fallen. The first mate was found dead 'neath the wall of the keep. A bullet had gone through his head. He paid the penalty of his disobedience with the forfeit of his life. In one short hour man or woman's destiny may be accomplished. That very day, on the eve of sailing, five as pretty recruits as ever hoisted "the plain gold ring," volunteered for service in England. May, June, and part of July passed, and the white cliffs of Albion broke the line of the horizon. A few miles from the mouth of the Thames, on the Kent side, stood, in a small hamlet commanding a beautiful view of the river and the distant sea, a small cottage, whose walls were thickly covered with the climatis, honeysuckle, and rose; and before it a neat lawn stretched down to a brawling rill, that murmuring onward glided to the sea. The house was surmounted on the top by the top-mast of a small man-of-war, serving for a flag-staff, and on each side the door were planted three brass six-pounders, whose hoarse throats vomited forth noisy congratulations on every jour defete, the wonder and pride of the village. 'Twas there the skipper and his bride had come to anchor, attended by old Ben, the faithful companion of their varied fortunes, in that haven to weather out the storms of life; and the many wonderful adventures of the cockswain on the Spanish main, are still current among the peasantry of that coast.
East Lothian Journal,
VERSES TO MRS MARY UNWIN.
Tub twentieth year is well nigh past
Since first our sky was overcast;
Ah, would lhat this might be our last!
Thy spirits have a fainter flow,
Thy needles, once a shining store,
For though thou gladly wouldst fulfil
But well thou play'dst the housewife's part,
Thy indistinct expressions seem
Like language utter'd in a dream;
Yet me they charm, whate'er the theme.
Thy silver locks, once auburn bright,
For, could I view nor them nor thee.
Partakers of thy sad decline,
Thy hands their little force resign;
Yet gently press'd, press gently mine,
My Mary I
Such feebleness of limbs thou prov'st,