« AnteriorContinuar »
lay us on board; but we were too quick for him—we wore round too, and gave him the three other guns, which did him no good.
• Well, he came after us on the other tack, and pelted us with musketry in a cruel way. The mate was hit in the head, and taken down below; and poor old Nesbitt, who was at the wheel, steering the craft beautifully, had a bullet right into his bow-window, as they call it . “Well,” the old fellow says, “ here's a shot between wind and water, I reckon—we must have a plug;" so he puts his flippers into his waistband, and stuffs his flannel jacket into the hole. Then we throws her
up in the wind again, and rakes him with our three guns well into him, and carries away more of his gear, and stops his sailing—and so we goes on for a whole hour and thirty-five minutes; and, to make a long story short, we beat him off, and he turned tail and ran for it with both pumps going.'
“Now you see, Tom, that's the account of the affair given to me by a man who I can trust; and there you see what can be done if men are resolute and determined to fight. Some little difference between that affair and this one, Tom."
“ Did old Nesbitt die or recover ?"
“I asked that question: he was doing well when my friend left; somehow or another no vital part was injured, and he has had many presents made him for his gallant conduct; and the sergeant was well rewarded also. Well, my pipe's out, and it's not far from midnight; I should think we may just as well try for a little sleep, Tom, for perhaps we may not get any for some time to come.”
Bramble coiled himself up under the bulwark; I did the same; and in a few minutes we both had forgotten whether we were in our beds at our house at Deal, or prisoners bound for the French coast.
At daylight the next morning Bramble roused me up.
“Here we are now, Tom! here's the French coast not four leagues from us; but it's hazy, and I cannot inake it out very clear ; however, the sun will soon drive all this away, and we shall have a fine day ; but the wind has gone down, and I think we shall have still less of it."
And so it proved; for, as the sun rose, the wind became very light, so that we did not go through the water more than three knots. We were looking at the coast, when the report of a gun saluted our ears; it was from the privateer ; we turned to that quarter, and found that there was a cutter about two miles from the privateer, crowding all sail towards ne.
“ Tom!” cried Bramble, " there's a chance for us yet —that's an English privateer, and she will try to retake us for the sake of the salvage. But here's a boat coming from the Frenchman-what can that bo for ?"
The boat rowed alongside of us, and out jumped the captain of the French privateer with twenty of his best men, and the boat was then dropped astern.
The Frenchmen immediately cast loose the guns, went down for the powder, and prepared for action.
“ I see, Tom,” said Bramble, “ he's a clever fellow, this skipper; he knows that this ship and cargo is worth a dozen of his little privateer, and his object is to get her in-so he's come with all his best men on board of us, leaving his first officer to make the best fight with the privateer that he can. Well, he's right; and if it wasn't that I don't like to go to prison, I wish he may succeed, for he has got sense as well as courage, I think."
The ship was now kept away two points more, that she might go through the water as fast as she could; and in the meantime the action commenced between the English cutter and the French privateer, the latter evidently attempting to cripple the masts and rigging of the former. The cutter, however, steered right for us, and evidently came up fast; the French privateer, weak handed, as she must have been, behaved very well, throwing herself across the cutter's bows, and doing everything she could to prevent her coming up with
us; both vessels were very much cut up before the cutter came within three cables' length of us,
when the French captain ordered French colours to be hoisted, and, rounding to, poured in a well-directed broadside, which quite astonished the English privateer, who imagined that we were an unarmed merchantman. The action now became very warm ; we standing on, and every now and then rounding to and raking the cutter, while the French privateer engaged her broadside to broadside. The French captain was abaft, giving his orders with the greatest coolness and ability, when a shot from the cutter came in on deck, and a large splinter which it tore off knocked him down on his back. Bramble and I both ran to him and helped him up—we could not help it, although he was an enemy. He was not hurt, and as soon as he was on