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taffrail. We passed so close to her that I could distinguish the whites of his eyes, and the tompions in the muzzles of her sternchasers protruding out of the ports belonging to the admiral's quarters.
I knew her. She was Rowley's flagship. She had thrown the shadow of her sails upon the end of my first sea journey. She was the man-of-war going out for a cruise on that day when Carlos, Tomas, and myself arrived in Jamaica in the old Thames. And there she was meeting me again, after two years, before Havana—the might of the fortunate isle to which we turned our eyes, part and parcel of my inheritance, formidable with the courage of my countrymen, humming with my native speech-and as foreign to my purposes as if I had forfeited forever my brithright in her protection. I had drifted into a sort of outlaw. You may not break the king's peace and be made welcome on board a king's ship. You may not hope to make use of a king's ship for the purposes of an elopement. There was no room on board that seventy-four for our romance.
As it was, I very nearly hailed her. What would become of us if the Lion had already left Havana? I thought. But no. To hail her meant separation--the only forbidden thing to those who, in the strength of youth and love, are permitted to defy the world together.
I did not hail; and the marine dwindled to a red speck upon the noble hull forging away from us on the offshore tack. The brazen clangor of bells seemed to struggle with the sharp puff of the breeze that sent us in.
The shipping in harbor was covered with bunting in honor of the feast-day; for the same reason, there was not a sign of the usual crowd of small boats that give animation to the waters of a port; the middle of the harbor was strangely empty. A solitary bumboat canoe, with a yellow bunch of bananas in the bow, and an old negro woman dipping a languid paddle at the stern, were all that met my eye. Presently, however, a six-oared custom-house galley darted out from the tier of ships, pulling for the American brigantine. I noticed in her, beside the ordinary port officials, several soldiers, and a person astonishingly like the alguazil of the illustrations to Spanish romances. One of the uniformed sitters waved his hand at us, recognizing an estate drogher, and shouted some directions, of which we only caught the words:
Our steersman took off his old hat humbly, to hail back, “Muy bien, señor.”
I breathed freely, for they gave us no more of their attention. Soldiers, alguazil, and custom-house officers were swarming aboard the American, as if bent on ransacking her from stem to stern in the shortest possible time, so as not to be late for the procession.
The absence of movement in the harbor, the festive and idle appearance of the ships, with the flutter of innumerable flags on the forest of masts, and the great uproar of church bells in the air, made an impressive greeting for our eyes and ears. And the deserted aspect of the harbor front of the city was very striking, too. The feast had swept the quays of people so completely that the tiny pair of sentries at the foot of a tall yellow building caught the eye from afar. Seraphina crouched on a coil of rope under the bulwark; old Pedro, at the tiller, peered about from under his hand, and I, trying to expose myself to view as little as possible, helped him to look for the Lion. There she is. Yes! No! There she was. A crushing load fell off my chest. We had made her out together, old Pedro and I.
And then the last part of Sebright's plan had to be carried out at once. The foresheet of the drogher appeared to part, our mainsail shook, and before I could gasp twice, we had drifted stern foremost into the Lion's mizzen chains with a crash that brought a genuine expression of concern to the old negro's face. He had managed the whole thing with a most convincing skill, and without even once glancing at the ship. We had done our part, but the people of the Lion seemed to fail in theirs unaccountably. Of all the faces that crowded her rail at the shock, not one appeared with a glimmer of intelligence. All the cargo ports were down. Their surprise and their swearing appeared to me alarmingly unaffected; with a most imbecile alacrity they exerted themselves, with small spars and boathooks, to push the drogher off. Nobody seemed to recognize me; Seraphina might have been a peon sitting on deck, cloaked from neck to heels and under a sombrero. I dared not shout to them in English, for fear of being
heard on board the other ships around. At last Sebright himself appeared on the poop. He gave one look over the side.
What the devil . . .” he began. Was he blind, too? Suddenly I saw him throw up his arms above his head. He vanished. A port came open with a jerk at the last moment. I lifted Seraphina up: two hands caught hold of her, and, in my great hurry to scramble up after her, I barked my shins cruelly. The port fell; the drogher went on bumping alongside, completely disregarded. Seraphina dropped the cloak at her feet and flung off her hat.
Good-morning, amigos,” she said gravely. A hissed “Damn you fools-keep quiet!” from Sebright, stifled the cheer in all those bronzed throats. Only a thin little poor "hooray" quavered along the deck. The timid steward had not been able to overcome his enthusiasm. He slapped his head in despair, and rushed away to bury himself in his pantry.
Turned up, by heavens! ... Go in. ... Good God! Bucketfuls of tears. ." stammered Sebright, pushing us into the cuddy. “Go in! Go in at once!”
Mrs. Williams rose from behind the table wide-eyed, clasping her hands, and stumbled twice as she ran to us.
“What have you done to that child, Mr. Kemp!” she cried insanely at me. Oh, my dear, my dear! You look like your own ghost.”
Sebright, burning with impatience, pulled me away. The cabin door fell upon the two women, locked in a hug, and, stepping into his stateroom, we could do nothing at first but slap each other on the back and ejaculate the most unmeaning exclamations, like a couple of jocular idiots. But when, in the expansion of my heart, I tried to banter him about not keeping his word to look out for us, he bent double in trying to restrain his hilarity, slapped his thighs, and grew red in the face.
The excellent joke was that, for the past six days, we had been supposed to be dead-drowned; at least Doña Seraphina had been provided with that sort of death in her own name; I was drowned, too, but in the disguise of a piratical young English nobleman.
“There's nothing too bad for them to believe of us," he commented, and guffawed in his joy at seeing me unscathed. “Dead ! Drowned! Ha! Ha! Good, wasn't it?"
Mrs. Williams-he said-had been weeping her eyes out over our desolate end; and even the skipper had sulked with his food for a day or two.
“Ha! Ha! Drowned! Excellent!' He shook me by the shoulders, looking me straight in the eyes—and the bizarre, nervous hilarity of my reception, so unlike his scornful attitude, proved that he, too, had believed the rumor. Indeed, nothing could have been more natural, considering my inexperience in handling boats and the fury of the norther. It had sent the Lion staggering into Havana in less than twenty hours after we had parted from her on the coast.
Suddenly a change came over him. He pushed me on to the settee.
"Speak! Talk! What has happened? Where have you been all this time? Man, you look ten years older.”
“Ten years. Is that all?” I said.
And after he had heard the whole story of our passages he appeared greatly sobered.
“Wonderful! Wonderful!” he muttered, lost in deep thought, till I reminded him it was his turn, now, to speak.
'You are the talk of the town,” he said, recovering his elasticity of spirit as he went on. The death of Don Balthasar had been the first great sensation of Havana, but it seemed that O'Brien had kept that news to himself, till he heard by an overland messenger that Seraphina and I had escaped from the Casa Riego.
Then he gave it to the world; he let it be inferred that he had the news of both events together. The story, as sworn to by various suborned rascals, and put out by his creatures, ran that an English desperado, arriving in Rio Medio with some Mexicans in a schooner, had incited the rabble of the place to attack the Casa Riego. Don Balthasar had been shot while defending his house at the head of his negroes; and Don Balthasar's daughter had been carried off by the English pirate.
The amazement and sensation were extreme. Several of the first families went into mourning. A service for the repose of Don Balthasar's soul was sung in the Cathedral. Captain Williams went there out of curiosity, and returned full of the magnificence of the sight; nave draped in black, an enormous catafalque, with silver angels, more than life-size, kneeling at the four corners with joined hands, an amazing multitude of lights. A demonstration of unbounded grief from the Judge of the Marine Court had startled the distinguished congregation. In his place amongst the body of higher magistrature, Don Patricio O'Brien burst into an uncontrollable paroxysm of sobs, and had to be assisted out of the church.
It was almost incredible, but I could well believe it. With the thunderous strains of Dies Irae rolling over his bowed head, amongst all these symbols and trappings of woe, he must have seen, in the black anguish of his baffled passion, the true image of death itself, and tasted all the profound deception of life. Who could tell how much secret rage, jealousy, regret, and despair had gone to that outburst of grief, whose truth had fluttered a distinguished company of mourners, and had nearly interrupted their official supplications for the repose of that old man, who had been dead to the world for so many years? I believe that, on that very day, just as he was going to the service, O'Brien had received the news of our supposed death by drowning. The music, the voices, the lights of the grave, the pomp of mourning, awe, and supplication crying for mercy upon the dead, had been too much for him. He had presumed too much upon his fortitude. He wept aloud for his love lost, for his vengeance defeated, for the dreams gone out of his life, for the inaccessible consummation of his desire.
“And, you know, with all these affairs, he feels himself wabbling in his socket,” Sebright began again, after musing for a while. Indeed, the last events in Rio Medio were endangering his position. He could no more present his reports upon the state of the province, with incidental reflections upon the bad faith of the English Government (who encouraged the rebels against the Catholic king), the arrogance of the English admiral, and concluding with the loyalty and honesty of the Rio Medio population, who themselves suffered many acts of molestation from the Mexican pirates." The most famous of these papers, printed at that time in the official Gazette, had recommended that the loyal