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length the voice of Captain Munson was heard calling to the pilot.
“Shall I send a hand into the chains, Mr. Gray,” he said, “and try our water ?”
Tack your ship, sir, tack your ship; I would see how she works before we reach the point where she must behave well, or we perish.”
“Now is the time to watch her closely, Mr. Griffith," he cried; “here we get the true tide and the real danger. Place the best quarter-master of your ship in those chains, and let an officer stand by him and see that he gives us the right water."
“I will take that office on myself,” said the captain; “pass a light into the weather main-chains."
“Stand by your braces !” exclaimed the pilot with startling quickness. “Heave away that lead !"
While this deep expectation pervaded the frigate, the piercing cry of the leadsman, as he called, “By the mark seven!” rose above the tempest, crossed over the decks, and appeared to pass away to leeward, borne on the blast like the warnings of some water spirit.
“ 'Tis well," returned the pilot, calmly; "try it again."
The short pause was succeeded by another cry, “ And a half-five !"
“She shoals! she shoals !” exclaimed Griffith; “keep her a good full.”
Ay, you must hold the vessel in command now, said the pilot, with those cool tones that are most appalling in critical moments, because they seem ta denote most preparation and care.
The third call of “By the deep four!” was followed by a prompt direction from the stranger to tack.
Griffith seemed to emulate the coolness of the pilot.
in issuing the necessary orders to execute their manoeuvre.
The vessel rose slowly from the inclined position into which she had been forced by the tempest, and the sails were shaking violently, as if to release themselves from their confinement, while the ship stemmed the billows, when the well-known voice of the sailing-master was heard shouting from the forecastle-"Breakers, breakers, dead ahead!"
This appalling sound seemed yet to be lingering about the ship, when a second voice cried—“Breakers on our lee-bow !"
“We are in a bight of the shoals, Mr. Gray,” said the commander, “She loses her way; perhaps an anchor might hold her.”
“Clear away that best-bower!" shouted Griffith, through his trumpet.
“Hold on!” cried the pilot, in a voice that reached the very
hearts of all who heard him; “hold on every thing."
The young man turned fiercely to the daring stranger who thus defied the discipline of his vessel, and at once demanded – Who is it that dares to countermand my orders ?-is it not enough that you run the ship into danger, but you must interfere to keep her there? If another word?
“Peace, Mr. Griffith,” interrupted the captain, bending from the rigging, his gray locks blowing about in the wind, and adding a look of wildness to the haggard care that he exhibited by the light of his lantern; “yield the trumpet to Mr. Gray; he alone
Griffith threw his speaking trumpet on the deck, and, as he walked proudly away, muttered in bitterness of feeling—"Then all is lost indeed, and among
can save us.
the rest, the foolish hopes with which I visited this coast.”
There was, however, no time for reply; the ship had been rapidly running into the wind, and, as the efforts of the crew were paralysed by the contradictory orders they had heard, she gradually lost her way, and in a few seconds all her sails were taken aback.
Before the crew understood their situation the pilot had applied the trumpet to his mouth, and, in a voice that rose above the tempest, he thundered forth his orders. Each command was given distinctly, and with a precision that showed him to be master of his profession. The helm was kept fast, the head yards swung up heavily against the wind, and the vessel was soon whirling round on her keel with a retrograde movement.
Griffith was too much of a seaman not to perceive that the pilot had seized, with a perception almost intuitive, the only method that promised to extricate the vessel from her situation. He was young, impetuous and proud; but he was also generous. Forgetting his resentment and his mortification, he rushed forward among the men, and, by his presence and example, added certainty to the experiment. The ship fell off slowly before the gale, and bowed her yards nearly to the water, as she felt the blast pouring its fury on her broadside, while the surly waves beat violently against her stern, as if in reproach at departing from her usual manner of moving.
The voice of the pilot, however, was still heard, steady and calm, and yet so clear and high as to reach every ear; and the obedient seamen whirled the yards at his bidding in despite of the tempest, as if they handled the toys of their childhood. When the ship had fallen off dead before the wind, her head sails were shaken, her after-yards trimmed, and her helm shifted before she had time to run upon the danger that had threatened, as well to leeward as to windward. The beautiful fabric, obedient to her government, threw her bows up gracefully toward the wind again, and, as her sails were trimmed, moved out from amongst the dangerous shoals in which she had been embayed, as steadily and swiftly as she had approached them.
“Now is the pinch,” he said; "and, if the ship behaves well, we are safe—but, if otherwise, all we have yet done will be useless. See you yon light on the southern headland ? you may know it from the star near it by its sinking, at times, in the ocean. Now observe the hummock, a little north of it, looking like a shadow in the horizon—'tis a hill far inland. If we keep that light open from the hill, we shall do well—but, if not, we surely go to pieces."
“Let us tack again !” exclaimed the lieutenant.
The pilot shook his head, as he replied, “There is no more tacking or box-hauling to be done to-night. We have barely room to pass out of the shoals on this course, and, if we can weather the 'Grip,' we clear their outermost point-but if not, as I said before, there is but one alternative."
“If we had beaten out the way we entered,” exclaimed Griffith, “ we should have done well."
Say, also, if the tide would have let us done so," returned the pilot, calmly. “Gentlemen, we must be prompt; we have but a mile to go, and the ship appears to fly. That topsail is not enough to keep her
up to the wind; we want both gib and mainsail.' “'Tis a perilous thing to loosen canvas in such a tempest!" observed the doubtful captain.
“It must be done,” returned the collected stranger; we perish without. See! the light already touches the edge of the hummock; the sea casts us to leeward !"
"It shall be done!” cried Griffith, seizing the trumpet from the hand of the pilot.
The success of the measure was announced by a joyful cry from the stranger that seemed to burst from his inmost soul. “She feels it! she springs her luff! observe,” he said, "the light opens from the hummock already; if she will only bear her canvas,
clear !" A report like that of a cannon interrupted his exclamation, and something resembling a white cloud was seen drifting before the wind from the head of the ship, till it was driven into the gloom far to leeward.
“'Tis the gib blown from the bolt-ropes,” said the commander of the frigate.
" This is no time to spread light duck—but the mainsail may stand it yet."
“The sail would laugh at a tornado," returned the lieutenant; "but that mast springs like a piece of steel.”
“Silence all!” cried the pilot. “Now, gentlemen, we shall soon know our fate. Let her luft-luff you
At a short distance ahead of therri, the whole ocean was white with foam, and the waves, instead of rolling on in regular succession, appeared to be tossing about in mad gambols. A single streak of dark billows, not half a cable’s length in width, could be discerned running into this chaos of water; but it was soon lost to the eye amid the confusion of the disturbed element. Along this narrow path the vessel moved more heavily than before, being brought so near the