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"at The Yardarm"

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" Did I ever teil you, Samuel, how near carne, once upon a time, to beiug hung as a pirite f Thus spoke Uncle Ebenezer, who luiving, uiitn and boy, pluugbed the snit sea waves tor the better part of a half-cmtury, was now sitting on the steps of his back porch of tho old homestead, nd while slowly puffing at tho amber mouthpiece of immense nargüe, which he ïad brought from India, enlightening my youthful mind with shreds and latches from the storehouse of his multiarioua expericnce. My uncle had been well educatcd in lisyouth, andhe camo of a race oí gentlemen, so that ho had preserved a retinement of speech and mannen not usually ound among mariners. Ho was there:ore an excellent narrator, and forty years ago I had no greator pleasure thau to sit in the back porch, and listen to his wild tales of lite on the storiny ocean. This was the tale that followed tho starting question I have just repeated : - In the month of Jnne, 1813, about the middle of the last war, said my uncle, I sailed from Charlestown, in command of beautit'ul little clipper-brig called the ínake. I had letters of marque, and the bnake was armed with eight brass six )ounder6,for,though we did not hopo to be ble to resist any of the largcr cruisersof he enemy, nor did we intend to uttompt he capture of any of his merchantmen, we knew that the narrow sea was swarmng with JSnglish privateers, and it was ur intention to beat off auy Binall craft hat attackod us, if we could. Our cargo, in short, was powder and shot, which we were to tako to the mouth of the ïagus, and transfer to one of our frigates, ordered to meet us at that point. Fighting, therefore, was not our cuo on that voyago, and uccordingly I set every inch of canvass that would draw, and kept a good lookout night and day. Xhat last precaution was tho means of accomplishmg a greater good taan even our own safety. On the ftfternooii of the ,hird day out, the look-out spied a vessel on our weather-bow, with signal of dis,resss flying. I at once bore up for her, and by sunset we wero along side, just in ;imo to rescue her, crew and passengers rom a watery grave. Sho proved to be a West India trader, under Spanish colors, bound from Havana to Norfolk, Va., with a crew of eight, iucluding officers and two passengers. They had lost their xats when their craft was thrown on its jeam ends in a squall, four days previous, and though working at tho pumpa steadly, they had beon unable to prevent the vessel from filling slowly through ;he leaks, which were the result of the same disaster. She was only just afloat when we came up with her, and sank be'ore we were fairly clear of her, after taking off her poople. When we were standing on our course again, I had time to look after the comfort of our involuntary passengers. The crew of the Spanish vessel were disposed of among my own men, and the captain and his passengers I invited to my cabin. Much to ïny surprise, one was a beautiful young lady, the other being her father, a gray-haired, portly old gentleman - a Virghüan, by tho name of Manson. They were evidently people of wealth and refincment, and the Spanish captain proved to be a fine fellow. Oí course, 1 should have dono all I could i'or tliem had they been u.'ss igreabie, but now rny duty ecanie n real pnasuie, whiob ras, doobtlew, enhanced oy tuu Uci the youiig-ladv both amible aud be.iuniui. I was but young ut tne time, and easiiy impressed liy témale charius; o thar ït was not strange, under the eireumsrances that I soon bej m to indulge in vayue iiopt-s tuut Laura Man.son uiight be eventually mduced to ttntettain a warmer feeling ttmn mere friendship for the man who sa ved her lifc. Not that I ever dured to breatho a word of love in her ear. But beiore he had been a week on board, I resolved that when she was once again restored to her own home, I would seek her thore and ask her to be mine. But these fond dreams and tender fancies were destined to be quickly brought to an end by the sudden approach of a peril that menaced both of us with a fate more fearful than the wildest imagination could conoeivo. Ten days af ter the rescue of Laura Manson and her fellowtravelers, a euspicious sail was sighted on our weather-beam, and bef ore loug it becamo evident that the stranger was an English man-of-war in chase of us. Every oxortion was uuade by myself and crew, lirled by the Spanish sailors, to escape our eneniy, but all endeavors availed us nothing. The Snake was swift, but her pursuer was awifter. On the second morning of the nhase, the foo was in gunshofc, and gave us a broadside that carried away both our topmasts. It would have been mere insanity to continue to resist a forcé so superior when thus helplesly at liia mercy. Its possible that some desperate expedicnt might havo suggested itself if my crew and mysolf had been alone in tho brig. But none of us dared to proposo anything which would exposé the lovoly inaiden in our charge to further danger; and having dono our whole duty as sailors and men, we ptruck our flag, but only to a power capable of approaching twice our torce. Our captor proved to bo the frigato Diana, of thirty-six guns, commanded by as great a brute as ever shamed the nauie of man by wearing it. His true character, however, was not perceptible until after we had been in his power for some time. He was still young, a baronet by feeroditary rights, and his peison was pleasing, while his manners were theperi'ectiou of courtesy. When he first received us, you would have imagined us his guests rather than his prisoners ; but ere many days had passed, a startling change took place in his conduct, the sectet of which was thatheconceived asinful passion for the innocent inaiden cast upon his protection, and had determined to gratify it at any hazard. When cruising alone lio was absolute in his authority, and none to cali hiin to account. In any case our tyrant's civil rank and intluence wauld havo protected hirn in any arbitrary exercise of power. Probably, however, Sir Edward Martin cared nothing for the consequences to himself. Carried away by his unholy passion, he would have dared almost anything to accomplish his purpose, and once resolved, no law human or divine, was regarded as an obstacle. His iirst step was to depri ve Laura of the protection of her father and myself, and this was accoinplished with the cunning of a veritable demon. The first intimation that we had of his changed attitude toward us was an order to place Mr. Manson and myself in irons, we having been allowed perfect liberty up to that time. On the afternoon of the same day we wero taken int.o the captain's cabin and, in the presence of the Diana's officers, formally charged with piracy. My indignant denial of the charge was out short by the tyrant, who curtly informed us that we would be allowed to defend oursylves before cuurt-martial the next morning and were immediately hurried back to our place of confinement between declts. Quite stunnod by this uncxpected calamity, we were utterly unable to divine its cause, but during the erening one of the marines who auarded us slipped into Mr. Maiisou's hand a note which threw a fiovd of light upon our bewilderment. It was iïom Laura, stating that tho brutal commtutder had plainly told her that hor father's life was at his mercy, and that it depended upon her to savo him. Mr. Mauson was really frantic for a time; but all his fui y was of no avail, and thus, in darkness. cliains and despair, we passed the weary night, until the red morning dawned which was to seal our fata. I need not detail the particulars of the ourt-martial, which was a mere mockery t the best. With a cunning that was bsolutely fiondish, the faithless commaner had marshaled the evidence against is. The Snake's letters of marque were uppressed, porhaus destroyed by him, nd a willing tooi of his testified that o such papers had been on board of her. 'his, together with the large crew we ïad carried, and the cargo, was enough ;o conderan us. The Spaniards we had escued were stated to bo part of the rew ; and therefore not allowed to tosify in our behalf. Mr. Manson was made to appear to be the owner of the nake, and the utter absurdity of our arrying a refined lady to sea with us on a piratical cruise was passed over as havng no weight at all. The whole thing was a cruel farce. "We wera formally condemncd and 88 fermUy sentcneed to bo hanged at the yardrm at sunrise the following morning. My foolings when we were once moro hained down between decks are imposible to hint at. How much more agonizing, th&n, must have boon the emoions of the wretched fathcr about to be murdered in cold blood, and forced to eave his only child in the power of such a villain as the captain pioved to ber I cannot dweil on the horrors of that awful night. The guard had been changed and tho fiiendly mariua could not approach us, so that if Laura was in a ditiou to send another message sho could not do so. Thus without tidings of the unfortunate girl, and utterly despairing our own l'ate, we sleeplessly passed the iours of darkness. May Heaven grant bot no kin of mine may over endure a ithe of the agony I suffered, and witncssed in the person of tho sorrowing father, ;hat terrible, terrible night. Dawn came at lengtb, and with its ïrst glimmer the sbrill notes of the fife and tho horse rattle of the drum, summoning the crew to quarters, announced that the preparations for our execution were already made. Very soon afterward the marine officer, a lieutenant, appeared with a file of his men ; our shackles were removed and our arms pinioned with ropes and we were then led upon deck. Several times during the night Mr. Manson had entreated to be allowed to eee his daughter, and he now made a final appeal for this poor favor. The brutal myrmidon of a still more brutal tyrant harshly refused to bear the request to his commiinder, and even cursed and struck the unfortunate man when he persisted in imploring his pity. My blood boiled within me, and all thought of my peril was swaliowed up in the rage which woud have prompted me, had I been tree to h i ve slain the oowavd with my naked hands. A platform was erected betwenn two of the starbord guns abreast of the iiüiinuüibt, on a level with tho hammock nettmgs, and wiien we had been torced to uiuuiit this, I perceived that the vussel was to the shore of a large islaud. Of eourso I did not know where we were at the time, Imt 1 mty tts well say now that I afterwards dist'overud tliat it was the isiand ot llayti, the frigate having been uound to Jamaica wlwn wi' nnfoïtunately niet ücr, unl she had now reaohed the Mona i"assage on hor way thither This was a must providuntial circumstanee lor me, as you wüi soon learn, liut at this melauoholy moment the sight ot' its smiling gr-!uii shores and picturesquo clift's was au intolerable aggravatioii of my misery. It seemed as if heavon had given me this glimpse of firm land, and früodom only to overwhelm me with an awful sense of my utter helplessness. Like the patriarch of old, I was ready to curse God and die, for there, within half a mile was liborty and safety, but above my bead swung the engmo of my ippanjntly inevitable doom, and I feit as if the Preserver himsfilf liad quite forsaken me. The lesson I received has gxven me a faith, and, amid tha most fearful perils of my subseqcnt life, I never sinco doubtod His almighty power to save. The morning was beautiful boyond description. The air was soft and balmy, he water calm and still, and the rosy ight of dawn shed a radiance like that oí Paradise upon sea and shore. But the upreme moment of my death was close at hand, and though every featuro of the cene has remained indelibly iiiipressed upon my mcmory it did not aeem to me, hen, that I saw anything. Evdn the misery of my fellow sufferer made no iinression on me. Selfishness in such an ïour may be indepd pardoned in mere 1 nortals, and though I did percoive that ie was on the point of fainting, my own . eril engrossed my whole attention, and , revented me from offering him any ' olation even if I had been permitted to ' peak to him. , The astonishing occurrences of the next . 'ow minutes took away from all power . o tliink of anything but how to profit y there. Two whips had been roved i hrough the jewel-blook on the starbeard, ■ nainyard arm, and their nooses hung . ■Otrn close or our heads. Their other ' nds wero manned by a score or more ot' talwart sailors, who were to run us up he yard-arm, when the report of a gun, ea'ly at our foet, gave the awful signal. The lieutenant and his marines had ïalted at the foot of the scaffold, and we vere now attended by two brawny, sunjurnt seamen, whose rough hands were usy tying our feet together at the ancles, and seeing that the fastenings which ecured our hands behind our necks were irmly knotted. At least this was the d%ty they had been set to perform, but I uddenly became conscious that my attendant was loosening the rope around ny ankles so that a slight exertion would erve to free me of it. Astonished at this, I attempted to turn 0 look at him, but he grasped me firialy so as to prevent any motion, and instan ty afterward a thrilling whisper in my ear caused overy nerve in my body to quiver with excitement. " Can you swim F" Imagine, ifyou can, the flood of hope ;hat surged through my brain at the soumi o t' this singular question ; I could not ri-ply, but my looks must have told ïim Ihrtt I understood his meaning, for he continued rapidly, while still pretending to be busy with my bonds : " The young woman has promised to lay us well for trying to save you two. We believe she will keep her word, and jesides we think it's a shame that you should bo strung up for nothing. Now, isten ! I've cast loose the rope round your ankles, and there is only one turn of the line on your wrists. When I stop speaking I'll cut that with one slash of my knife. Kt-ep your hands together as if you were still buund, and jump overboard the instant 1 say ' Now !' Dive deep, and come up on the other side of the ship. " Swim to the rudder chains and huid on there until night. They'U think you wanted to drown yourself rather than be hui)g, and won't lower a boat. When night comes, you must try to swim ashore. There ! that's all I eau do for you. Be ready." I can scarcely make you understand how rapidly all this was said, but yet how clearly I heard and treasured every word. There was a momentary pause - a sharp tug at my wrists, as, with one slash, the keen knife severed my bonds - and then the low whispered but fearfully clear signal-word, " Now !" Istoodjust inside the hammock rail, and without hesitation threw myself overboard, head first. The shout of' surprise that rang upward from the frigate's deck rcached my ears before I struck the water, and the down, down I went as if I meant to dive to the bottom. 1 was an excellent swimmer, and had no difficulty in following my perserver's direction. When I turned to come up, I could plainly see the loom of the frigate's huil through the clear water, and easily guided myself so as to reach the surface on the port side of hor rudder post. (nee there I seized the chains under water, and keeping my head out only far enough to breathe, prepared to keep a vigilant watch so that I might conceal myself cntirely if a boat should be lowored. This did not occur, and I clung thero quite safely all that weary day. What happened on deck, of course I could only guess at, but I heard shots fired into the water on tho starboard sido as if the marines were watching for my reappearance, and aiming at anything that looked human. Very soon, however, bnstle and noiso poased, and I have no doubt that the tyrant and his men accepted my preserver's account of the affair as the truth, and believed that I was drowned. Years afterward I learned that the gnard had fired a volley after me as I sprang from the platform, and that a stray et had slain the unhappy lathor ot J_iaua. Bettor thus than if he. had been ïanged like a dog, but though ven;eance overtook his murderer even in ;his world, I havo the firm faith that Sir ïïdward M -still endures the tortures of the damined for his inhuman Illainy. It contimied calm all day, and when light feil thofrigate had drifted within a piarter of a uiile of the shore. As soon is it was dark enough, I quitted iny hold )f the rudder-ohains, and floated silenty until the ship had drifted far away, I lummoncd all my strongth and struck jut vigorously for the shorn. An hour ifterward I was more than a mile inland, iying prono upon the ground in the deep sleep of utter exhaustion. ïhus ended my fearful adventnre, tut ;ts consequences shaped the course of my whole life While clinging to the rudifir-chains through the weary day, I took upon myself a solemn vow, that, il [ sueceeded in escaping, 1 would devote my roscued life to the pursuit and punisimient of the villain who had brought eibout the destruction of my love ind murdered lier father. Three years aftel th(! war was ended, I mathimin a crowdpd asseinbly of the rank and beaitty o1 his native land, and put upon him such insult, liefore thomall, that ho was forcee to raeet me in deadly strit'o. He did not recognize me until we wore face to faeo upon the open field. Thun his beart failed him. He lt;ll liefore my unpracticfd weapon ere a -core of thrusts had been ohanged Malicious and brutal to the last, he went to hi aeooun' witli all his sins upon his guilty head. To the helpless JLaura's fate I havo never obtainod a satisfactory clue, though I have been unt.ring in the search Froui the f;w ot' ihe frigate'a crew whom I enoountered in my quest, I learnec that slie was kept a close prisoner in the captain's eabin until the ship reachec Jamaica. There she was roleased, doubt less at the price of keeping silonce as to her wrongs, and there she seems to have disappeared from the living world. Groe grant that her unmerited suit'erings hav won her a place in His Kingdom, anc when 1 die may I at last meet her fo whose swt.'et sake my heart has ever been sealed to love. A Michigan clergyman wrote to a lot tery agent: " I do not approve of lotter ies ; I regard them as no better than gambling soheines. My son bough ticket No. 5 in your drawing, but if h drew anything don't send the money t him - send it to me." Tho clergyman wil probably feel relieved to learn that th tickot didn't draw anything.


Old News
Michigan Argus