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The Race For Life

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a party of us citv-hived mortal terniined to take a cruist; ion tne wui water, and no'"er ffld the idea p.vsent iteeir than we set putting tlTe plan into effect. At Atkin's Wharf. at the North End, we found a smal! schoener, the "Othello," of about a hundred and twenty tons burden. bhe was a Baltimore built craft- regular clipper-shaped, long and handsome, carrying fore-topsail and top gallantsail, and a gaff-topsail upon the niain. She had been used some in tlie V estIndia trade, and perhaps lor other trades. She had four port-holes, and some of our party coulc' detect th t nark -i upon her deck where gun-carriagos hat run, though the faint marks uiiglii have been made by a thousand other things just as well. ïhe owner's name was Johnson- a short, dark-complexioned lame man, but a good seaman and a good man. The moment we proposed hiring his schooner for a pleasure trip he was pleased wi i tne idea. He proposed that we shouid fu_nish a new inainsail, iind provisious and other necessary iixings, engage our own skipper, and take him as a private member of the party. He asked no more. Of course we accepted his offer. We found Torn Phillips lying on his oars. We knew him to be a good shipmaster, and we engaged his services. Then we got a good cook, a steward, and one other experienced seaman, and finally all our arrangements were made, and on the 17th of July the "Othello" left Boston harbor, under a fair breeze, and with a happy crew on board. There were twenty-four of us in all. Johnson had had the vessel thoroughly cleaned, and she was not nnlv neat and tidy, but we found her also a splendid sailer- gliding through Ule vwnei liKo a (lolphin, and riding like a duck f or gracef ulness and oaoo. As soon as we were out of sight of land we took a vote to decide which course we should pursue. There were twenty of us privileged to vote, and each one liaving written on a piece of paper the place he wished first to visit, ït was deposited in a box by the binnacle. When the votes were all in, we examined tliem. SLxteen were ior Havana, one for Gibraltar, and three for "Any where." So to Havana we went. We had a splendid run, and when we reached the queen city of the Antilles, we found wo difflcnlty in landing. We remained there a week, and having taken in a good quantity of fruit, we prepared to set aail again. "Which way now?" asked Senor Torrijos, as we were preparing to leave. "To Saint Domingo," answered Phillips. "A fine trip," returned the ola merchant ; "but," he added, with a sort of serious smile, "you may meet Tradillo on your way." "Tradillo?" repeated Phillips; "wlio is he?" "VVhat, have you been here a week and not heard of Tradillo? Why, he is one of the most daring villains that ever lived- a pírate who has infested these seas for over three months, and wliom no amount of strategy has been able to conquer. Ilis hand is turned against the world, and he fears aothing. He has a crew as bold and bloody as himself, and he leaves no witnesses to teil of his deeds." "Tnen he kills all whom he captures, does he?" "Yes. He goes upon the principie that 'dead men teil no tales.' He was formerly a native of this place; but some time during the year 1836 he was apprehended for robbery, and condemned to be whipped, and then imprisoned. He was whipped in public, but he made his escape f rom prison, and now he has made his appearance among our islands aa a most terrible avenger. But he must soon be apprehended, for many vesels are after him." "Does he sail in a large craft?" asked Phillips. 'No, his vessel is not larger than yours. It is a schooner of United States build, and not a bit larger than yours; y et he carries f rom fii'ty to a hundred men and six guns." "But how do you know so well his crew, when he kills all his prisoners "Froin two sources. He has writt , two letters to the captain-general ; and tliree men escaped from him about a month ago. They were all in a brig that he captured at night, and they jumped overboard wlth life-preservers on. and were picked up in the morning." "And is he about here now ? "There is no knowine; where he is. The lart that we heard of him, he took a French barque of Auguilla, and murdered the whole crew. But I guess there won'tbe mucli danger, forlthink it very likely he is down on the Brazil coast now." This was very cheering intelligence, but then we had no real fears- our hearts were too light for that. It was after dinner when we hove up our anchor and made sail, ai d before dark we had passed the head nd of Matanzas harbor. Through the night we had a northerly wind, and kept our course with tlowing sheets. We concluded to run to the north of the island of Hay ti, and on the morning of the f ourth day from Havana we had made the northeasterly cape of the island. Here we had the wind from the southeast, and we had to inake a tack to the eastward. The wind was steady, and we choose to make a "long leg" on the easterly tack, so as to come down well on the next one. Our course by the compasa was east-by-north, and by looking at the map it will be seen that this course lay clear, to the norlhward of all the islands. . . ' It was about seven o'clock in the ; morning when we belayed the sheets on this tack, and in half an hour afterwards we were once more out of sight of land. I was sitting upon the main hatch, engaged in peeling an orange, when some one sung out, "Sail-hol' "Where away?" I returned, sportively. And then Phillips asked the same question. "Right there- just over the larboard quarter," returned the man who had spoken. We looked, and sure enough there was a sail in. plain sight. which must have come flut frorh behind Samana. Johnson wout below and got his glass, and when he returned he examined the strangerand was soon contldent alie must be a schooner. . "Supposeit should be the pírate? suggested one of our party, a Mük street book-keeper named Paine. There was a tremulousness in his tone as he spoke. „ "STo, there's no danger of that, said Phillips. "1 don't imagine we re gomg to fall in w'tn a pírate so easily. -i ve follona the sea now golng on twenty years and never saw one yet. "Unless that's one," persisted Paine. "Pooh - nonsense !" uur vessei was close-hauled ui;on the larboard tack, and the stranger was coming down almost before the wind, with fore-topsail and topgallantsail set, and the larboard sails drawing. In half an hour more the fellow was in plain sight. It was a schooner, long, low and black, and iust such an one as Senor Tornjos had described the pirate to be. There was no mistaking tuis. And then her deck was full of men, as we coiild plalnly see with the glass. . "What d'ye think now ?" asked Paine, tremulously. "By the piper, there may be a snuft of powder here after all," returned Phillips, rather dubiously. Minutes fled rapidly, and ere long the -crooner was within a couple of miles, iliere was no more room for doubt. Her whole contour was rakish and bloody, and then no other eraf t would carry such a quantily of men. "Wel), boys," said Phillips, "there can't be any mistake about that fellow, and now what shall we do ?" Why- run. of couise," said Paine; and we allcoincided. So without f urther consideration our helm was put up, the slieets eased off, and in a few moments more we were 1 jwling off bef ore the wind in iine style. For some ten or fifteen minute we watched the pirate with the utmos anxiety, and at the end of that time i became evident that be was gaming upon us. The thought was a tearfu one. . . „ , . "They never spare anybody, wnis pered a young salesman by the nam of Bolster. He spoke to Phillips, anc seemed io hope tiiot snmpthiníí migh be done to increase our speea. ; But Bolster was not tlie only one who bore fear marss upon nis tace. 1 think we all carne i a for our sliare of that. Whether the pursuer was a pirate or not liad been settled in our minds, and the only thing upon which we now hung was the thought of escape. To be captured was sure ' death, and that, too. most horrible. "Can we escape? was a question asked by more than one, and asked by one more than once. Capt, Johnson knew mostabout our vessel's sailmg qualities, and he was appealedto; but he only shoo'ihis head in doubt. It was a stern chase, and we feit sure itmust be a long one. Perhaps we could hoM off until night, and then steal away. "I'm afraid not," said Phillips, who had been watching the pirate narrowly, as the hope was spoken to him. "The case'll be settled bef ore night." It was now ten o'clock, and the wind was moderate, our schooner running offseven knots. It was a flxed fact that the piraet was giüning upon us- it was very slowly done, but vet we could see it. The iellow's huil became gradually more plainly developed to our sight, and one after another of his ropes became deflned against the blue sky. It was just twenty-five minutes past ten when he flred a gun. We had not been able tosee any ports before, but now that point was settled. L „ "That means for us to heave to, said Johnson, as the sound of the report had fairly died away. "But we wont heave-toP exclaimed half a dozen voices. "Ofcourse we won't!" cried Paine. "We'll use the only means of safety we've got while it lasts." And this was the general impression. To calmly stop and let the rascáis come up and cut our throats was something we were not prepared to do, for thoughthe pirates was gaining upon us, yet it was so slowly that there was a strange sense of hope while the distance was anything between us. Perhaps some other sail might heave in sight, and perhaps a great many things might happen to help ns. At eleven o'clock we could plainly see the heads and shoulders of the pirates, and we could now see tliat her ports were open, and the guns run out. They were brass guns, for we could see them glisten in the sunlight. There was not now much over a mile i between us. But remember a mile at sea does not look like a mile on the land. Go on the f rozen lake, when the ice is clear and smooth, and you shall skate a mile and think it a very few rods. We could see the white crest that rolled away Irom the pirate's bows, and we fancied we could hear the rushing of the water as she cleared it. At any rate we could see the dark faces of the crew, and fancied we could detect the scowls of triumph that lighted up their diabolical features. By-and-by another gun iired, as before, to leeward ; but of course we took no notice of it. At twelve o'clock the villain tired again. He was gaining on us. "Lookr spoke Phillips. "She's yawing." "Going tosteer oft?" breathlessly questioned Bolster. "Kather guess not. That's for a shot at us." And so it proved ; for hardly had the words passed f rom our skipper's mouth when a wreath curled up f rom the fellow's deck, and just as the report reached us a shot carne plowing up the water under one quarter rail. A score of cheeks turned pale. Powder was ahead of wind at that game. A few i shots like that upon our deck would be dangerous. We were not flghting ! men - not even sailors ; inured to no i hardship but that of sea-sickness, and , all of us wanted to get home again i aafe and sound, We could see and-twenty bloody corsés on our deck, and we were to make the scène. It was au hour of terrible trial. We looked involuntarily for a means of scape. Had there been a stone wall, fence, a wood, a hill, or even a few rees, we might have had some hope; ut nothing of the kind was to be seen. Onlv that endless boundless waste llaboutns! We had our limbs f ree nd strong- only cooped within those 'atal limits. Anotner shot struck the we.ter alongide, and sent the spray dashing upon ur deck. The pursuer lost something n distance by this iinng, for she had nobow-port, aïid consequently had to yaw in order to bring her guns to bear. twasjustone o'clock when she had more than gaiued all she had lost by iring, and at that time she iired the ourth gun. The ball struck the mam hroai haiyards, and the sail was on he next instant flappmg. "We are lost!" gasped Paira, as he savv what ha happened. A..ui so it would seem, for our headway was checked, and ere we could splice the haiyards the pirate would be up with us. We turned our eyes over the taffrail and there was the villain ïot over half a mile distant, his deck bristling with men, and their polished arms plainly to be seen. But wlnle we were thus lost in fear, Capt. Johnson and Trost (the latter was the seaman we had engaged) had spliced the haiyards, and the gaff of the mam sail was again in its place. Hope had once more dawned dimly upon our aecK, when a savage messenger carne and drove it all away. The pursuer was now withln a quarter oL a mile, and as tlie sinoke curled up again from her gun, a round shot and a stand of grape carne upon us- theformercarrying away our fore-topmast, and the latter teaving the throat of our foresail in pieces. "By heavensl boys, let's not die hke cowards!" cried Johnson. "We have guns on board- musketa which we brought to shoot birds with. We ought to have thought of thein bef ore; but it is not too late now. Let s load 'em at once, and when we've fired 'em we can use 'em for clubs.1' We had taken a lot of f owling pieces with us, and in a few moments they were brouglit upon deck, and each man requested to take one and load it. I was fear-struck. I acknowledged it, very much so, but y et 1 know there was a smile upon my face as I looked around upon some of my companions, whose excited fears had abo quite unmanned them. In ten minutes from the time our fore-topmast canie down the pursuer was alongside. I utteral one prayer, gave one thought to home and fnends, and then turned to the coming enemy. Our vessel had broached to, and as we lay with our head half way up to the wind, the pursuer came up under our lee quarter, and in a moment more a SClrt; of. men vero ii)on our deck. 1 louKeO. UI Uieiii, mi Icadoi 1lecognized. I had known him on board the old Brandy wine. "Rogers!" I gasped, startmg forward. "What! old mate, is this you?" he returned, grasping my hand. "But this schooner ?" "The Othello," I answered. "We are out on a pleasure trip. And tliat schooner ?" I added. "Why, it is the United States schooner Grampus, and 1 am commander. What a precious fooi I've made of myself! I was sent af ter a pirate. I chased him from Trinidad, and lost him off Saint Domingo. May I be blessed if I didn't think you were the same chap. You look as like him as one pea to another." "And wetook you for the same fellow." I said. "We had had a description of him, and you came up to it so well we feit it safe to run." A hearty laugh f ollowed this strange and bloodless denouement, and after all was understood, we sat down and had a social chat together, while the carpenters oí' the Grampus were flxing our fore-topmast. Rogers settled with Johnson for the damage done, and by three o'clock we started in company for the coast of Ilayti. Tlie rest of our cruise we performed without much excitement, and, in fact, we needed none, for that raceforlife was enough, and has aflorded food for conversation and laughter ever since.


Old News
Michigan Argus