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The Creole

The Creole image
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In 1820 the waters in the vieinity of tlio the U et India islands swartned with fierce, rathlesi pintes, respecting neither sex nor (he flag of'any country. Many a ricli irnicliantinan Middenly dlttppeared, without a trun; remainmg to teil oithcr the fate ot' crew or veescL In the licifrlit of the excttemcbt, when meichantmen were forced to carry bot l f-'Uns and extra men, tht: Xavy 1 'e:ntluent fitted out the corvettc Port Pire, poculi.-ir!y adapted, l'roin her grut ipeed and light drautiht of water, to cruise suocetttfullï in tfbe ihool waters of the Wéi( India -tatidu. 'l'ho Tniwnl was oommandëd hy Ralph Jenkins, whoea hair had frown gray in the service of his country, whilfl his first lioutenant and executive officer was a Ueorgian, Jack Hayes by name. It was toward the close of a long sunny day in March that the lookout on the foretopsail yard reported, " 8ail O !" " Where away ?" detnandcd the officer of the deck. " Right ahead, sir !" " Can you inake her out?" " I can't gay exaetly, sir; but she lookg like a brig." All hands were called to make sail, and, clothed in f'olds of snow-white canva-s, the Fort Fire neared the stranger. The wind was rapidly dying out, blowing in fitful pusls and flaws from off the land, then from a point right ahead, and finally boxing all around the corapass. At last a dead calm rested on the water with the cxception oí' a few spirts of air aloft, which occasionally filled the light sails of the corvette, forging her ahead, and gradually leaseniog tho distance intervening between the man-of-war and the stranger. It was four belle, or ten o'clock at night, before the corvette was close euouh to scan the vecsel. It was a brig, lying like a loe in the watter, bowing and dipping her bluff bows into the long, easy swell of the trópica. The large square stern, and low flat counter pronounced her at once a BUgar drogher. " She has the look of a Frenchman, .Mr. Huyes," rernarked the commandor, as he .-canned her closely through his niglu glass. " I see a flutter of feniinine apparel, too. She must have passenger. Better bail hor, sir ; she may have sonaething to cotnmunicate. " " Hrig ahoy!" deinanded Mr. Hayes through his trumpet. "Sari" ' What brig is that?" " Ze Mairie Antoinette, du Havana, to Bordeau," came hoarsely back. This is the United States corvette Port Fire on a cruise. Have you seen any suspicious ves.-( ince you left port?" After a moment's hesitation a voice replied : "I am the only person on board who OM peak Knglish. We have seen no vessels of any kind, with the exception of one this afternoon, and that was away under the l;md ; could not make her out, but tbonght it was a whooner." By direction of the captain, Jack informed the speaker that the Port Fire would remain in her vicinity until she tained an offing, as the locality was anythiiiK but safe fbr a vessel of her class. A smart little breeze had sprung up, and with royáis and topgallant sails down mi the c;ips, courses hauled up and staygtiSt stowed, the corvette edged off to windward, running a parallel eoaiM to the brig, which lumbered along, creaking and groaoing n every limber, The moon was sinking to rost in the west, obscured every few monients by light fleocy eloada ihat moved slowly mtoh itf disk, impelltul by the trade-wind, and, as the corvette's bell announoed the liour of niidnight, the fina) ray of the luminous orb danced and shimmered across the bright, bubbling waters, and disappeared li ii'ith the lionzon. The stars and pbueta twinkl(id and flickered above, reflected in myriad nunjbers by the bnght water below. Unable to oourt sluraber, Jaek Hayes ooght the quarter deck, where the offici-r of the watch was slowly paeing to and fro. " Where w the brig, Mr. Lorner?" " Down to leeward, sir, and some distance asiern." "Ah, yes, I think I can make her out. Hut - hark ! Surely that was the report of a pi-tol. There it isagain - tod Mreama, ■i inie as we are afloat. Keep her off, dr. Cali all bandl to make ail, and I'll r i'purt to Osptoio JealÓM. There is some rasoally bastnoM going on aboard of that brig which we must have a nearer look at." lu obedience to the summons of the boatawain'l mate, the crew rapidly gained tlicir lUuioOB, and in five minutes ihe Port Fire, under a cloud of canvas, was again heading tbr the brig. The battery had been cut loosc, the crew peeping f'orth through the open ports as they rapidly ncurod tlie stranger. In a loud voico Captain Jenkins hailed to know what was tho cause of the alarm. "Nothing at all," was the ready response. " The crew were mutinous, and I fired my pistols over their heads." " Ilather strnt;e. that, Mr. Hayes- eh ?" "Yes, út.', and that voioe does not sound like the one who hailed me the first part of the evuning, saying he was the only oue who could speaji Englisb." " You are right, sir. ('all away the first eutter. We'll take a look at him, anyway. " Scarcely had the falls of the boat been cast loóse when a voiee, ïnuffied and coiupressed, was heard : " Wa are boarded by piratea," followed by a heavy thud and a low groan. In an instant the arnied boat's crew, headed by a senior lieuteuant, had leaped over the side, the oars struck the water with a sitnultaneous splash, as the excited seamen exerted themselves to the ui most to dash alontjside the brig. Id the meanwhile the Port Fire had alowly f'orged ahcad of the brig, her maiotopsail to the mast, shiverins and ehaking as ahe carne up and feil off frota tho wind. About thrie cables' length to the leeward of the brig waa the low huil and bare, rak i -h iu:ist.s oF a (choooer. The quiek eyes ol' .lai-k Ilayea delected her in ■ moment, and his orders cauie sharp an. 1 cU ar (rom tho nuarter-deck. "Olear away the aurboiurd batteryl Load with gape ! Satl-trimmert. to your tatious! Fill away the inaiuyard 1" As the corette athered hta Iway and moved tbrougb the water be gave tbe order : " Load your eunp, take gooi ira, fire !" The splash ui' the uns lit up the water with a immientary glare, followed by the eroans and mprecations of wounded uien. Aeain came the orders from the nuarterdöck ! " Load ! Solid shot !- run out one point abaft tho beam - fire 1" Again ilid the strearaa of fire burst from the side of the corvette. TIn; BiBoke of the jíuns liung apet the water, so that it was impossible to asoertain the execution done by the iron missiles, but the crash of timliers and a c!oud of splinters that fel] patteiinv' in the water asMired the crew of theoorvette that they bad not expended ih 'ir ainmiiiiiti'in in vain. Before another eaatigation oould be adniinistereil, liewever, tho piratcs had pot iheircraft in splandid trim, anii withevury stiich of canvas -iet uut, as a board, with sheets hauled flai aft weré danoini; up to windward with the speed of a shark in punmii of prey. At that dmM the ti1 st putter returnod, the ollicer in rluuifi; hurriedly making his way to the quartor-deck, where he was uu-t by Üai'taio Jenkins. "The !ris nas been boarded by piratea lakinK the halfs'euiiy wateh entirely by aurprise. The captain and mate offered a slight re-ngtunoe, but wore umueiliuttily overenmo and rwirdered. Thorr n KiiL'li.-h gentleman on board with hisdaoghter. He :i planter, I believe. He it was wlio,b iHiulaii'i half chokcd, sai'l tlii-re ere piratea n board, and rieeivod a ten ble iiliiw on the bead fof liis lemcrity. The pirat ra,i un liu made 'j""d bis eaep te the Bchooner, takiiti with hun the young daughter of the unrortunate gentleman. There aiv Kreral oa board wh require the sexvioea pi a MU'üeon." The snrgeon, wiih ;i fu'! suppiy of medical eomlniN, f as so on dispafoned for the brig, while the corvette, with every stitch of canvas set thai trould draw, was soon in full pursuit of tho piratical craft, whioh was scaroely beyoud ranga ol the towehasers. The breeze cominued to freshen, and t was soon proved conelusively that the sehooner was no match for the well-tritumed mao-of-war. "Try the effect of our forward guns, Mr. Hayes. luit the captains of the battery aitn high. On no aocount buil her, for we inight iniure the lady. Cripple bu span, and we'll soon be alonside." Carefully the gnuaers trained their pieces. and soon huge rents in tho canvas could be seen. A shower of splinters from the mainmast soon fullowed, and a moment after the lofty spar toppled over the side. The sohooner lay a helpless wreek on the water, while the ÏYowuing battery of the corvette stared the blo .l .-tained rascáis in the face. With a desperate courage, worthy of a better cause, the pfrates worked with desperation to clear away the wreek, whiuh prevented them frotn working their guns. But as the boats of the Port Pire daáhed alongtiide they manned tbe low bulw.-u-ks, cutting and hewing at the blue shirtüd seamen, knowing full wull that they were fightinr with hulters about their necks. Every inch of the deck was disputed, and it was net without soiiie slain and a few desperate woundf that the crew of the corvette gained a foothold. The man-of-war oould tasily have blown the pirate out of water as she lay at her merey, rolling to and fro under the heavy guns of the corvette, but with tho lady on board such deeided aetion was iiupossible. The leader of the gang was a huge burly fellow, who wielded his cutlas with skill and deadly effect. Si-amnn afer seaman went down bufora him as he fought like a tiger at bay. With a clash the cutlassof tho desperate coundrel crossed with the blade wielded by Jack Hayes, who had attempted in vain to engage the rascal. Suddeoly, before a cut could be made by either party, the pirate staggered, bis cullass spun through the air, wlule ln, groping wildly with DM liands, feil prostratü on the du'k. A ïandoui bll had pierofld lus baart, and with his fall tbe gang lost courage, threw down their anus, and sullenly alluwed thenisolves t bj ironed and transferrod to tho Port Fire. Entering the cabin. Jack beheld the forra of a témale stretchod on the transoiu, half concealed by th flowing drapory of a cur tuin. Attired in a lonso but well fitting dress of white, whieh was confined at her wait by a Oi'oad bluesash ; her liair bright and luxuriant, falling around her waist, the bright olive complexión, small hnnds, ex quisitely turnad anklu, and the tiny foot whicl) peeped from beneatb the folds of her dress proclaimed her at once to be a nativo of Jaiiiaica, better known, perhaps, as an Eiiglish Creóle. She hal famted from excess of terror, the terrible uncenainty of lit-r position, together with the noise and excitement of' the engagement, proving too much for her. Belbro the lieutenaiu, Bomewhst pcrplexed at the situation, oould takc mcasures to bring the m:iiden to herself, a carpenter's mate hustily entered the cabin, reporting the pnze as rapidly sinking. The pirates bad scuttled her, determined that .she should not fall into tho hand of the victorious uian-of'-war'.s men. Ua-stily takiug the insensible girl in his arm.-, Jack bastaned frum the sinking wreek, regained the eorvette, deposittd the burden on the cushioned transom of (Japt. Jeokin' cabin, wbere every attentiou was devoted to her. Soon her eyes oponed, only to close again with a shujder, while a sigh esospM l'rom her li-. Gradually she reeovered bef fall [)owers of animation, and gazed wildly about Iirr. In a soft, low, soothing tone the old 30tumander .soon calmed her fears, allayed the feverisli excitement and assured her of her .safety. Thcie was iiothing to fear ; all langer had vanished ; the last vestige of the bloody craft Dad suiik beucath the wave.s, and, as daylight in flaming colora tinged the eastern horizon, the corvette i was standing for the brig with all sail set. Rose Foster's firat inquiry was for the welfare and safety of her dear father. They had left their valuable plantatioa to indulge in a little pleasure excursión, traveling through France, which had ben the nalive country of her mother, whom she had lost in early childhood. As the corvette rapidly neared the brig, the planter's daughter could scaroely oon trol her iuipatience in her eagerness to learn something regarding her father, whom she knew had been grievously wounded. The fortns of men could be seen moving about the brig's deck, while Jack, in obedience to a sign from his commander, jumped iulo the gig to ascerrain for the fair passenger the exact condition of her father's wounds, received in her defense. He was met at tbe gaugway by the -urgeon, wtio, with a sorrowl'ul shake of tlie head eonfirmed the lieutenant's worst suspicions. The old gentleman had never rallied from ttie terrible blow he had suttained on the head, but had gradually sunk lower and lower until he had finally breathed his last. Gently as possible the terrible truth was broken to the orphan, wlio sobbed and moancd in tlie arma of the eaptaiu, who with all the tenderness of a woman offcred soefa consolation as he could. With the loas of her father she had no relativo in the world, no blood reluiion unon whom fhe could cill for assistanoe or advice. I'ossessed oí' wealth, with a large and valuable plantation, the poor girl knew not what to do, or where to go. In an agony of grief and despair she begged of Capt. Jenkins to assist her witH bis ripened wisdom, which he prnuised todo, and the coure of tte corvette was diroeted to be laid for the islancJ of Jamaica. In the ueanwhile .Jack Hayes, by direction of his oommander, had been onaoting a drama on deck. All hiinl.s had boon piped aft, and the first lieutenaut briefly stated to them all th.' oharacter ;ind culling of the schooner lately captured and destroyed. The prisonern, some ten in number, had beeo canght in the act of j)iracy, with the blóocl of their victima fctill red on thir heads. U hipa were rovi; off Irom the yard-arms, the ooosea placed about the hardenl vil lains' aeok. Five minutes for priyor was allowcd, which was consumed in ribald j-st. With a wave of bis hand the lioutcnant placed his wiitch in his pocket, the men grasped the lines with a firm grip, and tlie next instant the last of the pir&tical gang swung suspended in raid air. All tra sof the execution were carefully removod before llose was allowed to visit the broad deck of the corvette. Every precaution was taken to sootho her, and Mine triad harder or with more .success iban Jack Hayes. Her beauty, intelligence, winning tnanners, together with the mantlc of mlsfortune whieh h;ul M suddenly enveloped (he (Jreolc, all tended to excite the deopest feelingg of love and sympathy in tlie manly iicisom of the lieutenaut. Kvery opportunity was seized by Jack to eourt tlie society of the fair Creóle, and before the Port Fire dropped anchor in the harbor of her dustination, the two were evidently on the best of terms. The old gray-uaired captain suiiled softly to himself as he noted the young people together, and during the succeeding twelve month?, when the vessel was not cruising, he allowed his executive every chftDoe to visit the fair orphan. Finally the announcement was made of the approaching marriage of the two, and the entire ship's company were present when the ceremony was performed, the old captain giving the bride away. Jack soon after resigned to look after the immense iuterests of his wife's property.