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66 The Lord have mercy upon us, we're all gone! said the mate, clasping his hands in terror. To clasp his hands, of course he let go the wheel; and the other man, who was equally frightened, had not strength to hold it. Away he went, right over the wheel, knocking down the mate on the other side; and the ship taking a heavy lurch, they both went into the scuppers together. The ship broached to; and our mainmast and mizenmast went over the side.
“ Do top that glim, Bill,” said one of the men, in tremulous voice.
Dick paused while the snuff was taken off the candle; and the water went tap, tap, tap against the bends, with a most melancholy sound.
I really did feel rather queer myself.
Dick continued,—“Well, all hands were on deck immediately; and it was good two hours before we could clear the wreck, for the men were disheartened. They had heard the loud miaw when in the fore peak, and declared that it was close to them; and the passenger and Jim came out, frightened out of their wits. They had heard the miaw, and said that it was from under the cabin table. At last we were clear of the wreck, and the wind roared louder than ever.
“ The captain was a stouthearted fellow, and as the men were collected together under the bulwark, he said, Well, this breeze will shorten our distance at any rate, and, if it holds, we shall soon be at Smyrna.'
“. We shall never see Smyrna !' replied the second mate, his teeth chattering.
No, never ! cried the seamen. “ The captain sent Jim down for his rum bottle, and
gave every man a stiff glass of liquor, and that made them feel more comfortable for a time; when there was a sort of a lull, and again the loud miaw was repeated.
6. There it is ! cried the men; but they hardly had time to say so, when the ship was pooped with a tremendous sea, washing away the stern and quarter boats, and sending all the men swimming forward. So loaded was the ship with water, that she stopped, and appeared as if she was settling down. At last she rolled heavy to port and discharged it, and away we went before the wind, faster than ever. Well, there was some talk among the seamen of throwing poor Jim overboard to appease the ghost of the cat, for it was he who had thrown the cat overboard. But the captain heard what the men were saying, and he swore that he would knock the brains out of the first man who laid hold of the boy; and he sent Jim below out of harm's way. Poor Jim! how bitterly he cried, poor boy, when he heard what was going on.
“Well, it's a long lane that has no turning, and no gale lasts for ever: the next day it moderated, and tho day after the weather was quite fine, and the sea had gone down. We recovered our spirits, the more so, as we heard no more of the cat; and having jury-rigged her aft, we steered our course with a light breeze. We were now but a short distance from Smyrna, and hoped to be there by the next day; but the second mate shook his head; he said, “The cat has not done with us, for it was a black tom cat.'
“The fourth day the captain camo on deck, and said, 'I heard a great washing of water in the run last night, as I thought; have you sounded the well lately?"
"No,' replied the first mate, I left that to tho carpenter.'
** Well, then, ask him.' Well, the carpenter had not sounded the well, as it appeared; and so hu sounded it immediately, and found that we had six feet water in the hold.
"I knowed we were doomed,' said the second mate; we'll never get at port:' and so thought the men ; but the captain said,Why, the fact is, my lads, we must have
sprung leak in the gale, and no wonder, beating against the wreck so, as we did when the masts went over the side. Come, rig the pumps, and we shall soon clear her. The tom cat has nothing to do with this, at all events.
· Now you see our bottom cargo consisted of two or three tier of crates of crockery, which would not spoil by being wet; but the upper part of the cargo was bales of dry goods and linen, so the captain was very anxious that they should work the pumps before the water got higher; the weather was very fine, the sea smooth, and the wind, although fair, was light. Well, the seamen were terrified, and thought they were lost : they asked for liquor, and refused to work at the pumps; they said it was no use, the ship was doomed. Well, the captain he got very angry; he went down into the cabin, loaded his double-barrelled gun,
and swore that he would shoot the first man through the head who refused to work at the pumps. The med knew that he was in earnest, for he was a violent sort of fellow, and so they set to. We didn't gain much upon her; I thought we did a little, but the men said
The captain declared that we did gain considerably, but it was supposed that he only said so to encourage the people. Well, the captain ordered the mate to take up the hatches, that they might see tho state of the cargo.
This was done; the dry goods, as far as we could make out, were not injured, and the men pumped spell and spell until the evening, when the captain gave them a good allowance of grog, and an hour to rest themselves. It was a beautiful moonlight night, the sails were just asleep and no more; but the vessel was heavy, from the water in her, and we dragged slowly along. The captain, who had gone down below with the first mate, came up from the cabin, and said to the men, . Now, my lads, we'll set to again ;' when suddenly there was a loud, melancholy miaw! which terrified us all. We looked from whence the sound appeared to come, and there, ou the launch turned over amidship, we beheld the ghost of the black tom cat, so large, so black, with the broad moonlight shining on it; and so thin, it was the skeleton of the cat, only it looked as black as ever; its back was humped up and its tail curved ; and as it stood out in the broad moonlight, it did look twice as big as the original cat, which was the biggest I ever saw. Well, the men actually screamed: they ran aft, upsetting the captain and mate, and rolling over them and hiding their faces, with · Lord have mercy on us !' and 'God forgive our sins!' and 'Oh! we're lost, we're lost ! and every sort of crying and groaning that could be thought of. At last the captain gets up from under them in a great rage, and looks forward to see what was the matter, and there he sees the ghost of the tom cat standing just in the same place; and it gave another miserable miaw! Why,' cried the captain (who had his grog on board, and was as brave as brass), “it is the cussed cat himself. Stop a moment.' Down he goes to the cabin, reels up the hatchway again with his double-barrelled gun, and lets fly at it”—(here Dick lowered his voice to almost a whisper)—"the cat gave a shriek—and then
Here, during the pause, Bill put out his finger and thumb to snuff the candle, but his hand shook; he snuffed it out, and we were all left in darkness. I can hardly describe the feeling which appeared to pervade the whole of our party. Every one was shuffling and crowding with their shoulders, but still no one moved from his place.
“Well,” said Dick, the narrator, in a quiet subdued voice, “why don't one of you go and fetch a light? Come, jump up, Bill, you topped it out."
“Ay, ay,” replied Bill, evidently shaking, "where's the candle ?"
“Here," said one of the boys, handing it to him.
“Well, then, jump up yourself, you young whelp, you're younger than me !"
“I didn't put it out," replied the boy, whining.
“Up, immediately, or I'll break every rib in your body," replied Bill.
The boy, who was terribly frightened, got up at this threat, and began to ascend the ladder; he was about three steps up, when we heard, from the deck, & horrible miaw ! the boy gave a scream of terror, and fell down on his back among us all, smashing the glass and fattening the tin cans against the men's legs, who ballooed with pain. At last there was a dead silence