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well armed I should do it; but, as we are & match for any privateer, why, we may as well make a long legwe shall be up channel sooner.”
“Well, I don't know what to say; I've a heavy responsibility with such a valuable cargo."
Well, tack if you please, sir,” said Bramble, shortly.
“Oh, certainly; – hands about ship!"
The vessel's head was put off shore, and, with a smart breeze, we walked away fast from the land. At twelve o'clock the captain proposed standing in-shore again, but Bramble refused. At three o'clock he became very uneasy, and expostulated with Bramble, who replied, “Well, sir, I'm doing all for the best; but if
you are afraid
“Afraid !" cried the captain; “afraid of what, I should like to know ? No, I'm not afraid ; but it appears to me that we ought to make the land again before night."
“I'll answer for knowing where we are, sir, if that is your reason; at all events, I wish to stand out till six o'clock.”
“Well, do so, then, if you choose—I'm sure I don't care if you stand to within gun-shot of the French coast;" and the captain, evidently very much annoyed, went down into the cabin.
About half-past four o'clock the mate came aft and took
up the glass, saying that there was an awkwardlooking craft on the weather-bow. He came aft again, and said, “ Pilot, I wish you would take a squint at that craft, for I don't much like the look of her."
Bramble went forward, and I followed him. “] say, Tom, that's a French privateer, as sure as we stand here,” said he.
“Look at her. Well, now we shall see what these guns are made of.”
“ Don't put too much trust in them," said the mate; “I know what sort of people we have here. Had we only ten good men, I wouldn't care for a privateer ; but I'm afraid that we have not many we can trust to. However, we'll do our best, and we can do no more. I'll go down and tell the captain.”
“It is a Frenchman,” replied I, “and no mistake every rope and every sail on her are French ;" for the vessel, which was a lugger, was not more than four miles from us.
“ Well,” replied Bramble, “it would be odd if we were to be taken into a French port after all, wouldn't it ?- not very pleasant, though
“ We've men enough to beat her off, or two of her, if that's all,” replied I.
“ Yes, Tom, but I doubt the captain; and without example men don't fight well. However, we'll do our best; and if he flinches we won't.”
The captain now came forward as red as a turkeycock; he said nothing - looked at the vessel — and then turned as white as a sheet.
“She's more than our match, if she's an enemy,” said he.
“I should rather think not, sir," replied Bramble. “ All you have to do is to make your men fight, and nail your colours to the mast.”
“That's very true when there's a fair chance of success, but it's useless sacrificing the men against so very superior a force,” replied the captain.
“ But it a’n’t superior, nor in guns is she your eqnal if I know anything about a vessel. At all events, I suppose you'll have a trial for it? Won't you beat to quarters, captain ?''
"Oh, to be sure; Mr. Stubbs, beat to quarters. I think it would not be a bad thing to fire off our broadsides now, and let them see that we are well armed.”
The men were summoned up to quarters, and very unwillingly did they obey: some said that they did not come on board to fight; others, that they had agreed to work the passage home, but not to stand to be shot at; and some were actually going down below again, when Bramble and the mate spoke to them, and persuaded them to remain on deck. Still there was no willingness shown; and although Bramble told them how many privateers had been beaten off, and mentioned particularly the Leith smack having the other day fought with one an hour and a half, and knocked her all to pieces, they still appeared uneasy and wavering.
In the mean time the privateer was within a mile of us, and had hoisted French colours.
“We'll keep away and give her the first broadside," cried the captain.
“ You'd better hoist your colours first,” observed Bramble, quietly.
“Hoist the colours, Mr. Stubbs! Port the helm! Look out, my men! Point the guns to the object! Fire !”
Off went all the guns, not only on the starboard side, in the direction of the privateer, but all those
the larboard side as well; and this circumstanco probably gave the people on board of the privateer some idea of the state of confusion we were in. She now rounded to, and gave us her broadside of three guns: they were well directed, and did us some damage in the upper works and rigging; but still more in frightening the people, who were now running down below, notwithstanding the exertions of the mate, Bramble, one or two of the seamen, and myself; but our fate was soon decided by the captain, who cried out, " It's useless contending against such a superior force." With this observation he ran aft and hauled down the colours. As soon as the men perceived this, they all left the guns; at another broadside from the privateer they all scampered down below, and at the same time the captain went down into his cabin. There was none but the mate, the boatswain, Bramble, and myself, left on deck.
“Pleasant,” said Bramble. “I thought as much. Well, Tom, here we are in for it. Come with me to the helm, for these French fellows will board, and they make very free with their cutlasses, even after colours are hauled down. Well,” said he, as he walked aft, “ I did not think to see the English flag so disgraced. Poor Bessy, too! Well, never mind. I say, mate, just let go the weather main braces and bow lines, and square the yards, for it's better to be as humble as possible, now that we can't help ourselves ; and do you and the boatswain go down below, for they cut right and left, these fellows. They do pay a little more civility to pilots, as they ar'n't belonging to the This advice of Bramble's, which was very good, was followed by the mate and boatswain.
“Shall I run down and look after our kits?" said I to Bramble.
“No, Tom, don't have anything in your hand, or they will take it from you, and most likely give you a rap on the head with a cutlass at the same time; for privateer-men of all nations are little better than pirates, and don't know how to behave in victory. Just keep where you are - look as if you had nothing to do with the ship, except the steering of her. Here they come !"
As he spoke, the lugger touched our weather side, at the same time lowering down her foresail and mainsail with no little noise and confusion; in a second or two there were thirty of their men on our decks, flourishing their cutlasses, and looking round with their pistols ready cocked in their left hands for somebody to let fly at. At last they came aft. “ Pilot!" cried Bramble, taking off his hat. I did the same. With reiterated sacres and diables of every description, some now rushed down into the cabin, while others went down the fore-hatchway, while more of the men from the lugger poured upon our decks; but none of them molested Bramble or me, as we continued standing at the wheel. In about ten minutes order was to a certain degree restored by the captain of the privateer, who had come on board. I perceived him express his surprise to his officers who were with him at the armament of the ship, and he appeared very much pleased : it was not necessary to understand French for that. He then came up to Bramble, and spoke to