The Captain's Cabin by Unknown

For the purple Nautilus is my boat, In which I over the waters float; The moon is shining upon the sea. Who is there will come and sail with me?—L.E.L.

Of all the craft that ever swam upon salt-water give me the dashing forty-four gun frigate, with a ship's company of dare-devils who would board his Satanic Majesty's kitchen in the midst of cooking-time, if they could only get a gallant spirit to lead them. And pray, what would a ship's company be without leaders? for, after all, it is the officers that make the men what they are; so that, when I see a well-rigged man-o'-war, in which discipline is preserved without unnecessary punishment or toil, that's the hooker for me; and such was his Britannic Majesty's frigate, "the saucy, thrash-'em-all Spankaway," for by that title was she known from Yarmouth Roads to the Land's End. Oh, she was a lovely creature! almost a thing of life! and it would be outraging the principles of beauty to give her any other than a female designation. Everybody has been in love some time or other in the course of his existence, and the object of affection was no doubt an angel in the eyes of the ardent lover:—just so was the frigate to me—an angel; for she had wings, and her movements were regulated by the breath of heaven. She was the very standard of loveliness, the most exquisite of graceful forms. At anchor she sat upon the water with all the elegance and ease of the cygnet, or like a queen reclining on her downy couch. Under weigh she resembled the pretty pintado bird skimming the billow tops, or the fleet dolphin darting from wave to wave. Then to see her climb the rolling swell, or cleave the rising foam, baptising her children with the spray, and naming them her seamen—Oh, it was a spectacle worth a life to witness!

And who was her captain? the intrepid Lord Eustace Dash; a man more ennobled by his acts than by the courtesy which conferred his title; one who loved the women, hated the French, and had a constitutional liking for the rattling reports of a long-eighteen. His first lieutenant, Mr. Seymour, knew his duty, and performed it. The second lieutenant, Mr. Sinnitt, followed the example of his senior. The third lieutenant, Mr. Nugent, obeyed orders, touched the guitar, and was extremely anxious to become an author. Then there was Mr. Scalpel, the surgeon; Mr. Squeez'em, the purser; and Mr. Parallel, the master; with the two marine officers, Plumstone and Peabody. Such were the Úlite of the frigate; but it would be unpardonable—a sort of sea-sacrilege—not to notice Mr. Savage, the boatswain; Mr. Blueblazes, the gunner; and Mr. Bracebit, the carpenter, all good men and true, who had come in at the hawse-holes, and served through the various gradations till they mounted the anchor-button  on their long-tailed coats. As for the mates, midshipmen, and assistant-surgeons, there was a very fair sprinkling,—the demons of the orlop, each with his nickname. Her crew—but we will speak of them presently.

Hark! it is four bells, in the first dog-watch; and there rolls the summons by the drum, calling the brave to arms. See how the hatchways pour forth the living mass! and in three minutes every soul fore and aft is at his appointed post. The gallant ship lies almost slumbering on the fair bosom of the waters, and the little progress she does make is as noiseless as a delightful dream; like the lone point in the centre of a circle, she is surrounded by the blue waves, and nothing intervenes to break the connected curve of the horizon. Upon the quarter-deck, his right hand thrust into his waistcoat, and his feet firmly planted on the white plank, as if desirous of making the bark feel his own peculiar weight, stands her brave commander: near him Mr. Squeez'em and two young imps of aides-de-camp take up their allotted stations; the former to note and minute down the details of action, the latter to fly to the infernal regions of the magazine,or anywhere else, at the bidding of their chief. The lieutenants are mustering their divisions through the agency of the young gentlemen; the surgeon and his assistants, happily having nothing to do below, appear abaft the mizen-mast; whilst Mr. Parallel holds brief consultation with the veteran Savage, whose portrait is affixed to each cat-head. Mr. Bracebit is sounding the well, and old Blueblazes is skimming about wherever circumstances require his presence. The marines, stiffened with pipe-clay, and their heads immoveable from what the negroes appropriately call "a top-boot round de neck," are parading on the gangway—their thumbs as stark as tobacco-stoppers, and their fingers as straight as a "hap'orth of pins." What a compound of pomatum and heel-ball, pipe-clay and sand-paper!

And now the officers give in their reports to the captain, who walks round the quarters to make a personal inspection, and, as he looks along the frowning battery, his lordship is proud of his bonny bark; whilst, as he gazes on his gallant crew, his heart exults in beholding some of the finest specimens of Britain's own that ever made their "home upon the deep."

"What think you of the weather, Mr. Parallel?" inquires his lordship, on returning to the quarter-deck. "Will it be fine to-night?"

The old man scans the horizon with an eye of professional scrutiny, and then replies, "I have my doubts, my lord; but at this time o' year the helements are beyond the ken of human understanding. I've been up the Mediterranean, off and on, man and boy, some five-and-forty years; it is to me like the face of a parent to a child, but I never could discover from its features what was passing in its heart, or the fit it would take next; one minute a calm, the next a squall; one hour a gentle breeze that just keeps the sails asleep, the next a gale of wind enough to blow the devil's horns off."

Lord Eustace well knows the veteran's peculiarities; indeed he is the only privileged talker in the ship, and so much esteemed by all, that no one seeks to check his loquacity.

"Beat the retreat, and reef the topsails, Mr. Seymour," cries the captain to his first lieutenant, and the latter despatches one of the young gentlemen to repeat the orders.

Rub-a-dub goes the drum again; but before the sound of the last tap has died away, the twhit-twhit of the boatswain's call summons his mates to their duty; a loud piping succeeds, and "Reef topsails ahoy!" is bellowed forth from lungs that might have been cased with sheet-iron, so hoarse is the appeal. And see! before you can slue round to look, from the tack of the flying-jib to the outer clue of the spanker, the lower rattlins of the fore, main, and mizen shrouds are thronged with stout active young men, who keep stealthily ascending, till the first lieutenant's "Away aloft!" sends them up like sparks from a chimney-pot. The topsails are lowered, the studding-sail booms are triced up, the topmen mount the horses, the earings are hauled out, the reef-points tied, the sails rehoisted, and the men down on deck again in one minute and fifty-two seconds from the moment the halliards first rattled from the rack.

"Very well done, Mr. Seymour!" exclaims his lordship, as he stands near the wheel, with his gold repeater in his hand; "and cleverly reefed too: those after-points are well taut, and show as straight a line as if it had been ruled by a schoolmaster."

"Natur's their schoolmaster, my lord," says old Parallel, with a pleased and business-like countenance; "and, consequently, they have everything well taut."

"Very good, master," exclaimed his lordship, laughing, "you get more witty than ever."

"It's strange," muttered the veteran, surlily, "that I can't speak a simple truth, without their logging it down again' me for wit. For my part I see no wit in it."

"Pipe the hammocks down, Mr. Seymour; give them half an hour, and then call the watch," orders his lordship.

"Ay, ay, sir!" responds the first lieutenant. "Stand by the hammocks, Mr. Savage."

"Twhit-twhit!" goes the boatswain's call, followed by a voice like a distant thunderclap, "Hammocks ahoy!" and away flies every man to the nettings; but not a lashing is touched till the whole have found owners, (the occupation of a minute,) when the first lieutenant's "Pipe down!" draws forth a lark-like chirping of the calls, and in a few seconds the whole have disappeared; even the hammock-men to the young gentlemen have fetched their duplicate, and the cloths are rolled up for the night. The gallant Nelson had his coffin publicly exhibited in his cabin; but what of that? the seaman constantly sleeps in his coffin, for such is his hammock should he die at sea.

Lord Eustace has retired to his cabin, and the officers are pacing to and fro the quarter-deck, conversing on

"Promotion, mess-debts, absent friends, and love."

The glory of the day is on the wane; the full round moon arises bright and beautiful, like a gigantic pearl from the coral caverns of the ocean; but there is a sort of sallow mistiness upon the verge of the western horizon, tinged with vermeil streaks from the last rays of the setting sun, that produce feelings of an undefined and undefinable nature: yet there is nothing threatening, for all is delightfully tranquil; no cloud appears to excite apprehensions, for there is a smile upon the face of the heavens, and its dimples are reflected on the surface of the clear waters as assurances of safety. Yet, why are  there many keen and experienced eyes glancing at that sickly aspect of the west, as if it were something which tells them of sudden squalls, of whirling hurricanes, like the unnatural flush that gives warning of approaching fever.

"The captain will be happy to have the company of the gun-room officers, to wind up the day, sir," said his lordship's steward, addressing the first lieutenant.

"The gun-room officers, much obliged, will wait upon his lordship," returned Mr. Seymour; then, turning to Mr. Parallel, "Come, master; what attracts your attention there to windward? The captain has sent us an invitation to take our grog with him. Are you ready?"

"Ay, ay!" responded the old man, "with pleasure; his lordship means to make Saturday night of it, I suppose; and I must own it has been a precious long week, though, according to the log, it's ounly Thursday."

The cabin of Lord Eustace had nothing splendid about it; the guns were secured by the tackles, ready for instant use, and everything was plain and simple; the deck was carpeted, and the furniture, handsome of its kind, more suited for utility than show. The baize-covered table was amply supplied with wines, spirits, and liquors, which his lordship prided himself in never having but of the best quality; and a jovial party sat around to enjoy the invigorating cheer.

"Gentlemen," said his lordship, rising, "The King!"

Heartily was that toast drunk, for never was monarch more affectionately served by his royal navy than George the Third. Other toasts were given, national and characteristic songs were sung; the relaxation of discipline loosened the restraints on harmony, and that kindly feeling prevailed which forms the best bond of union amongst the officers, and commands respect and esteem from the men.

"Come, Mr. Nugent, have you nothing new to give us? no fresh effusion of the muse?" enquired his lordship.

"As for any thing fresh," said old Parallel, "I know he puts us all into a pretty pickle with his 'briny helement,' and in his 'salt-sea sprays,' everlasting spouting like a fin-back at play; what with him and the marines' flutes I suffer a sort of cable-laid torture."

"You've no taste for poetry, master," returned the young officer: "but come, I'll give you my last song; Plumstone has set it to music;" and with a clear sonorous voice he sang the following:

"Hail to the flag—the gallant flag! Britannia's proudest boast; Her herald o'er the distant sea, the guardian of her coast; Where'er 'tis spread, on field or flood, the blazonry of fame; And Britons hail its mastery with shouts of loud acclaim.
Hail to the flag—the gallant flag! in battle or in blast; Whether 'tis hoisted at the peak, or nail'd to splinter'd mast; Though rent by service or by shot, all tatter'd it may be, Old England's tars shall still maintain its dread supremacy.
Hail to the flag—the gallant flag, that Nelson proudly bore, When hostile banners waved aloft, amid the cannon's roar! When France and Spain in unison the deadly battle close, And deeper than its own red hue the vital current flows.
Hail to the flag—the gallant flag! for it is Victory's own, Though Trafalgar re-echoes still the hero's dying groan;  The Spaniards dows'd their jaundiced rag on that eventful day, And Gallic eagles humbly crouch'd, acknowledging our sway.
Hail to the flag—the gallant flag! come, hoist it once again; And show the haughty nations round, our throne is on the main; Our ships are crowns and sceptres, whose titles have no flaw, And legislators are our guns dispensing cannon law.
Once more then hail the gallant flag! the seaman's honest pride, Who loves to see it flaunt the breeze, and o'er the ocean ride; Like the genius of his country, 'tis ever bold and free; And he will prove, where'er it flies, we're sovereigns of the sea."

"Very fair, very fair, Mr. Nugent," said his lordship; "and not badly sung, either."

"Ay, ay, my lord, the youngster's well enough," chimed in old Parallel; "but, what with his poetry and book-making, I'm half afraid he'll forget the traverse-tables altogether."

"And pray how does the book-making, as the master calls it, get on, Nugent?" inquired the captain: "have you made much progress?"

"I have commenced, my lord," returned the junior lieutenant, pulling out some papers from his pocket; "and, with your lordship's permission——"

"You'll inflict it upon us," grumbled the old master, and shrugging up his shoulders as he perceived his messmate was actually about to read, whether the captain sanctioned it or not.

"Now then, attention to my introduction!" said Nugent, holding up the manuscript, heedless of the nods and winks of his companions; "I'm sure you'll like it. 'The moon is high in the mid heavens, and not a single envious cloud frowns darkly upon her fair loveliness; there is a flood of silvery light; and fleecy vapours, with their hoary crests, like snow-wreaths from the mountain top, float on its surface to do honour to the queen of night. The winds are sporting with the waters; the amorous waves are heaving up their swelling bosoms to be kissed by the warm breeze that comes laden with perfumes from the sunny clime of Italy. There is a glow of crimson lingering in the west, as if departing day blushed for her wanton sister. Hail, thou inland sea, upon whose breast the gallant heroes of the British isles have fought and conquered! Ancient history recounts thy days of old, and the bold shores that bind thee in their arms stand as indubitable records of the truth of Holy Writ. The tall ship, reflected on thy ocean mirror, seems to view her symmetry in silent exultation, as if conscious of her grandeur and her beauty, her majesty and her might. The giantess of the deep, her lightnings sleeping and her thunders hushed, dances lightly o'er thy mimic billows, and curtseys to the gentle gale.' There, my lord, that is the way I begin: and I appeal to your well-known judgment whether it is not a pretty picture, and highly poetical."

"A pretty picture truly," grumbled old Parallel: "it ounly wants a squadron of angels seated with their bare starns upon the wet clouds, scudding away before it like colliers in the Sevin, and in one corner the heads of a couple o' butcher's boys blowing wooden skewers, and then it would be complete. Why, there's the marine a-laughing at you. Talk about the winds kissing the waves, indeed. Ay, ay, young sir, when you've worked as many reckonings as ould Will Parallel,—and that's myself,—you'll find 'em kiss somat else,  or you'll have better luck than your neighbours. Why don't you stick to Natur, if you mean to write a book? and how'll the log stand then?—Why, His Majesty's ship Spankaway cruising in the Mediterranean: and if you've worked your day's work, you ought to know the latitude and longitude. Well, there she is, with light winds and fine weather, under double-reefed top-sels, jib, and spanker, the courses snugly hauled up, the t'gant-sels furled in a skin as smooth as an infant's, the staysels nicely stowed, and not a yard of useless canvass abroad. There'd be some sense in that, and everybody would understand it; but as for your kissing and blushing, and such like stuff, why it's all nonsense."

"That's always the way with you matter-o'-fact men," retorted the lieutenant: "you make no allowance for the colourings of the imagination; your ideas of the picturesque never go beyond the ship's paint."

"But they do, though, my young friend," asseverated the master, to the great amusement of all present. "Show me the ship's paint that can compare with the ruby lustre of this fine old port—here's a discharge of grape."

"That's a metaphor, master," said the purser; "and, moreover,"—and he seemed to shudder at the abomination,—"it is a pun."

"Ay, ay," answered the veteran, holding up his glass to the light, and eyeing its contents with evident satisfaction, "we've often met afore; and as for the pun, I'll e'en swallow it;" and he drank off his wine amidst a general laugh. "But do you really mean to write a book, Nugent?"

"I do, indeed, master," answered the lieutenant; "but whether it will be read or not is an affair for others to determine. I've got as far as I have repeated to you, and must now pick up incidents and characters."

"A bundle of shakings and a head-rope of wet swabs!" uttered the old master contemptuously. "Stick to your log-book, Mr. Nugent, if ever you hopes to get command of such a sweet craft as this here, of which I have the honour to be the master. Larn to keep the ship's reck'ning, and leave authorship to the poor devils who starves by it. There's ounly two books as ever I look at—Hamilton Moore and the Bible; and though I never yet sailed in a craft that rated a parson in commission, yet I make out the latter tolerably well, notwithstanding my edication sometimes gets jamm'd in a clinch, and my knowledge thrown slap aback: but that's all nat'ral; for how can a man work to wind'ard through a narrow passage without knowing somut o' the soundings or the outline o' the coast. Howsomever, there's one course as is plain enough, and I trust it will carry me clear at last,—to do my duty by my king, God bless him!—and whilst the yards of conscience are squared by the lifts and braces of honesty, I have no fear but I shall cheat the devil of one messmate, and that's ould Will—myself."

"A toast, gentlemen—a toast!" exclaimed his lordship in high animation; "'The master of the Spankaway and his lady-mate.'"

"I beg pardon, my lord," interrupted the surgeon, "the master is not married; he is yet a solitary bachelor."

"True—most true," chimed in Nugent, laughing; "for, according to the words of the poet,

"None but himself can be his PARALLEL."

"You are too fastidious, gentlemen," said his lordship: "remember, it is 'Wives and sweethearts;' and, as it is a favourite toast of mine, we will, if you please, drink it standing." The toast was drunk with all due honours. "And now," continued his lordship, "without further preface, I shall volunteer a song, which Nugent may hoist into his book, if he pleases.

"Drink, drink to dear woman, whose beautiful eye, Like the diamond's rich lustre or gem in the sky, Is beaming with rapture, full, sparkling, and bright— Here's woman, the soul of man's choicest delight.
Chorus. Then fill up a bumper, dear woman's our toast, Our comfort in sorrows—in pleasure our boast.
Drink, drink to dear woman, and gaze on her smile; Love hides in those dimples his innocent guile: 'Tis a signal for joy—'tis a balm for all woe;— Here's woman, dear woman, man's heaven below.
Chorus. Then fill up a bumper, dear woman's our toast, Our comfort in sorrow—in pleasure our boast.
Drink, drink to dear woman, and look on her tear:— Is it pain?—is it grief?—is it hope?—is it fear? Oh! kiss it away, and believe whilst you press, Here's woman, dear woman, man's friend in distress.
Chorus. Then fill up a bumper, dear woman's our toast, Our comfort in sorrow—in pleasure our boast.
Drink, drink to dear woman, whose exquisite form Was never design'd to encounter the storm, Yet should sickness assail us, or trouble o'ercast, Here's woman, dear woman, man's friend to the last.
Chorus. Then fill up a bumper, dear woman's our toast, Our comfort in sorrow—in pleasure our boast."

As in duty bound, this song elicited great applause, and Nugent declared he should most certainly avail himself of his lordship's proposal for inserting it in his book. "But you have done nothing, Mr. Nugent," said the captain. "You say you want incident and character. You have already taken the frigate for your text;—there's the master now, a perfect character."

"For the love of good old port," exclaimed Parallel, as if alarmed, "let me beg of you not to gibbet me in your consarn. But I'm not afraid of it; book-making requires some head-piece; there's nothing to be done without a head, nor ever has been."

"I must differ with you there, Mr. Parallel," said Seymour unobtrusively; "for I myself saw a very difficult thing done literally without a head.

"Galvanised, I suppose," uttered the doctor in a tone of inquiry; "the power of the battery is wonderful."

"There assuredly was a battery, doctor," responded the lieutenant, laughing; "and a very heavy one too. But the event I'm  speaking of had no connexion with galvanism: it was sheer muscular motion."

"Out with it, Seymour!"—"Let's have it by all means!"—"It will be an incident for Nugent!"—"Out with it!" burst forth simultaneously from all.

"It certainly is curious," said the first lieutenant, assuming much gravity of countenance, "and happened when I was junior luff of the old Sharksnose. We were running into Rio Janeiro man-o'-war fashion, with a pennant as long as a purser's account at the masthead, and a spanking ensign hoisted at the gaff-end, with a fly that would have swept all the sheep off of the Isle of Wight. Away we gallop'd along, when a shot from Santa Cruz, the three-deck'd battery at the entrance, came slap into our bows. 'Tell him we're pretty well, thanky,' shouted the skipper; and our jolly first, who took his meaning, literally pointed the fokstle gun, clapp'd the match to the priming, and off went the messenger, which struck the sentry, who was pacing his post, right between the shoulders, and whipt off his head as clean as you would snap a carrot; he was a stout-made powerful-looking man, and by sheer muscular motion, as I said before, his head flew up from his body at least a fathom and a half, and actually descended upon the point of his bayonet, where it stuck fast, and the unfortunate fellow walked the whole length of the rampart in that way; nor was it till he got to the turn, and was steering round to come back again, that he discovered the loss of his head, when, according to the most approved practice in similar surgical cases, he fell to the ground. It was sheer muscular motion, gentlemen,—sheer muscular motion."

"He would, no doubt, have been a good mussulman, Seymour, if he had been a Turk," said his lordship.

"He couldn't come the right-about face," said Peabody, "having lost his head. It would have been a comical sight to have seen him present arms; pray did he come to the present?"

"No, nor yet to the recover, I'll be sworn," observed Plumstone; "no doubt he grounded his arms and his head too."

"Them chance shots often do the most mischief," remarked Parallel. "Who would have thought that it would have gone right through his chest, so as to leave him a headless trunk. Pray may I ax you whether he was near his box?"

"Well hove and strong, master," exclaimed Sinnitt, joining in the general laugh; "your wit equals your beauty."

"What have I said that's witty now?" returned the veteran; "I can't open my mouth to utter a word of truth, or to ax a question, but I'm called a wit; for my part, I see no wit in it."

"Your anecdote," said his lordship, "reminds me of something similar that I witnessed, when a youngster, at one of the New Zealand Isles. Our captain took a party of us to see his dun-coloured majesty at court. The monarch was seated in a mud, or rather clay building, nearly in a state of nudity, his only covering being an old uniform coat and a huge cocked-hat: his queens—happy man! I think he had seventy—not quite so decently dressed as himself, were squatting, or lying down, in different directions; several of them with such ornaments through their lips and noses, as would have answered the purpose of rings in the decks to a stopper'd best bower cable. I  heartily wish some of our court ladies could have seen this royal spectacle. We were ushered in through an entrance, on each side of which was a pile of heads without tails to them, most probably dropped in their hurry to wait upon the king. His majesty was a man of mild countenance, and of most imperturbable gravity; behind him stood a gigantic-looking rascal, with an enormous dragoon's sabre over his shoulder, by way of warning to his majesty's wives not to disturb his majesty's repose, or it was amongst the chances of royalty that he would shorten their bodies and their days at the same moment,—a sort of summary process to make good women of them; and I began to suspect that some of those which we saw at the entrance had once touched noses with his most disgusting majesty,—for a filthier fellow I never set eyes on. You've, no doubt, seen some of those curiously figured heads which grow upon New Zealand shoulders, for many have been brought to England: our skipper, who was a sort of collector of curiosities, was extremely desirous of obtaining one, but he was aware that it was only the head men who were thus marked or tattooed, and he had run his eye over the samples at the doorway, but could not detect one chief who had been deprived of his caput. Nevertheless, by signs and through means of a Scotch interpreter, (for the prime minister to Longchewfishcow was a Scotchman,) his majesty was informed of the captain's wish; and in a short time several natives handsomely tattooed were drawn up within the building: the skipper was requested to select the figures which pleased him most; and he, imagining that the chiefs had been exhibited merely by way of pattern, fixed upon one whose features appeared to have had pricked off upon them every day's run of the children of Israel when cruising in the wilderness. The chief bowed in token of satisfaction at being thus highly honoured; but, before he could raise his head, it sprang away from his shoulders into the captain's arms, with thanks for the compliment yet passing from the lips:—the life-guardsman of the king had obeyed his majesty's signal, and the dragoon's sabre had made sharp work of it."

"It was quick and dead," said the old master. "Now, Mr. Nugent, you may begin your book as soon as you please. I'm sure you have plenty of heads to work upon."

"You talk as if I had no head of my own, master," retorted the lieutenant, somewhat offended; "and with all your wit you shall find that I have got a head."

"So has a scupper-nail," returned the veteran, "but it requires a deal of hammering before you can get it to the leather."

"Good-humour, gentlemen! good-humour!" said the captain, laughing; "no recriminations, if you please, or we shall bring some of your heads to the block."

"To make blockheads of 'em, I suppose," observed old Parallel; "by every rope in the top, but that's done already! Howsomever, as you are lecturing upon heads, why I'll just relate an anecdote of a circumstance that I was eyewitness to upwards of thirty years ago. I was then just appointed acting-master of the 'Never-so-quick,' one o' your ould ship sloops; and we were cruising in among the West Ingee islands, but more especially boxing about the island of Cuba, and that way, for pirates. Well, one morning at daybreak the look-out  had just got upon the foretopsel-yard, when word was passed that there were two sail almost alongside of each other, and dead down to looard of us. There was a nice little breeze, and so we ups stick, squares the yards, and sets the stud'nsels a both sides, to run down and overhaul the strangers, though we made pretty certain it was a pirate plundering a capture; and we was the more convinced of the fact when broad daylight came, and our glasses showed that one of 'em was a long low schooner, just such a one as the picarooning marauders risk'd their necks in, and certainly better judges of a swift craft never dipp'd their hands in a tar-bucket. She saw us a-coming, and away she pay'd off before the wind, and up went a squaresel of light duck that dragg'd the creatur along beautifully. The other craft, a large brig, lay quite still with her maintopsel to the mast, except that she came up and fell off as if her helm was lash'd a-lee, Now the best point of the ould Never-so-quick's sailing was right afore it, and so we not only held our own, but draw'd upon the vagabond thief that was doing his best to slip his head out of a hangman's noose, when it fell stark calm, the brig lying about midway between his Majesty's ship and the devil's own schooner. Out went her sweeps, and out went our boats; but she altered her course to get in shore, and without a breath of wind they swept her along at the rate of four knots and a half, whilst our ould beauty would hardly move; so the captain recalls the boats, and orders 'em to overhaul the brig. We got alongside about noon, a regular wasting burning hot noon; and we found a hand cut off at the wrist grasping one of the main-chain plates, so that it could hardly be disengaged."

"Muscular power!" said Seymour; "the death-grapple, no doubt! astonishing tenacity notwithstanding."

"Howsomever, we did open the fingers," continued the master, "and found by its delicate whiteness, and a ring on the wedding-finger, that it belonged to a woman. When we got on board, the blood in various parts of the quarter-deck, and at the gangways, indicated the murderous tragedy that had been acted; but no semblance of human being could we find except a head,—a bloody head that seemed to have been purposely placed upon a flour-cask that was upended near the windlass. 'Well, I'm bless'd,' says one of our boasun's-mates, who had steered the pinnace,—'I'm bless'd if they arn't shaved you clean enough at any rate; but d—my tarry trousers, look at that!—why then I'm a Dutchman if it arn't winking at me.'—'Bathershin!' says an Irish topman, 'it's stretching his daylights he is, mightily plased to see such good company;' and sure enough the eyes were rolling about in a strange fashion for a head as had no movables to consort to it; and presently the mouth opened wide, and then the teeth snap'd to again, just like a cat-fish at St. Jago's. 'It's a horrible sight,' said one of the cutters, 'and them fellows'll go to —— for it, that's one consolation; but ain't it mighty queer, sir, that a head without ever a body should be arter making such wry faces, and opening and shutting his sallyport, seeing as he's scratched out of his mess?' A hideous grin distorted every feature,—so hideous that it made me shudder; and first one eye and then the other opened in rapid succession. 'I say, Jem,' says one of the pinnaces to the boasun's-mate,—'I say, Jem, mayhap the gentleman wants a bit o' pig-tail, for most likely he arn't had a chaw since he lost his 'bacca-box.'  This sally, with the usual recklessness of seamen, produced a general laugh, which emboldened Jem to take out his quid, and, watching an opportunity, he claps it into between the jaws; but before he could gather in the slack of his arm, the teeth were fast hold of his fingers, and there he was, jamm'd like Jackson, and roaring out ten thousand murders. He tried to snatch his hand away, but the head held on to the cask like grim death against the doctor; at last away it roll'd over and Jem got clear, but the head stuck fast, and then we discovered that there was a body inside. The head of the cask had been taken out, and a hole cut hardly large enough to admit of the poor fellow's neck; but nevertheless it had been hoop'd up again, and when we got on board he was in the last convulsive gasps of strangulation. We released him immediately, but it was only to find him so shockingly mutilated that he died in about ten minutes afterwards; and not a soul was left to tell us the fatal tale, though from an ensign and some shreds of papers we conjectured the brig was a Spaniard. The pirates had scuttled her. She made water too fast to think of saving her, and in a couple of hours she went down."

"Thankye, master, thankye," exclaimed several; "why we shall have you writing a book before long, and you'll beat Nugent out and out. See, he's ready to yield the palm."

"Him!" uttered the old man, with a look expressive of rather more contempt than the young lieutenant merited. "Him!"

"Come, master," said Nugent, "we must have your song,—it is your turn next."

"So it appears," replied the old man, as the frigate suddenly heeled over. "You have had so much singing that even the winds must have a squall." They were rising hastily from their seats, when in an instant the frigate was nearly thrown on her beam-ends. Away went Parallel right over the table into the stomach of the marine Peabody, whom he capsized; and before another moment elapsed the gallant captain and his officers were scrambling between the guns to leeward, and half buried in water, amidst broken decanters and glasses, sea-biscuit and bottles. Old Parallel grasped a decanter of port that was clinking its sides against a ring-bolt, and, unwilling that so much good stuff should be wasted, clapped the mouth to his own; the purser was fishing for his wig, as he was extremely tenacious on the score of his bald head; the captain and Seymour were trying for the door; the doctor got astride one gun, and the two marine officers struggled for the other, so that as fast as one got hold his messmate unhorsed him again. Sinnitt had crawled up to the table, and Nugent twisted his coat-laps round him to preserve his MS. from becoming saturated. The frigate righted again. His lordship and his lieutenants rushed on deck, to behold the three topmasts, with all their lengths of upper spars, hanging over the side, having in a white squall been snapped short off by the caps. We will leave them in the present to

"Call all hands to clear the wreck."