uok168 Christy crawled to the front of the berth, and thrust his head out into the stateroom in as natural a position as he could place it. "Corny again!" exclaimed the captain. Both Christy and Dave kept their positions, each with a revolver in his hand, ready to finish the victim if he exhibited any symptoms of further violence. This was the tableau presented in the captain's cabin when the door was suddenly opened by the first lieutenant, who rushed in, followed by the second lieutenant and Quartermaster Vincent. Mr. Flint had been on the quarter-deck, 283 and had heard the report of Christy's revolver when he fired. Calling Mr. Camden and the quartermaster, he has come to ascertain the cause of the fracas; and the sight was certainly impressive when he entered. "The Bronx is taking in provisions, stores, and ammunition. They say the captain has his orders, but I don't know about that." uok168 "You may come with me, Ralph," added Christy, as he descended the companion-way. "I am Lieutenant Christopher Passford." "What do you mean by that, Corny?" asked the prisoner, disregarding the advice of his cousin. 25 They had given up the examination of the premises, and given up the conundrum, and Christy was leading the way up-stairs. He went into his room, followed by his mother. "I may yet be called upon to serve under you 253 some time in the future; and I did not wish to have any prejudice against me on account of my decision, in which my officers concurred." "That will amount to their being made ensigns when you go north again if they prove to be worthy of promotion," added the executive officer, with a chuckle. "That was what happened to Baskirk and Amden." "We are putting things to rights on board," replied Christy, who had not seen the doctor before, for he had retired early to his room. What he had learned within the last few moments was even more perplexing than the mysterious visitation at Bonnydale. Then the appearance of Walsh on board, and his denial of his identity, were still in his mind, and he wondered whether or not all these strange circumstances had any connection. But he was standing in the presence of the commander of 49 the steamer, and he had no time to reach a conclusion of any kind, satisfactory or otherwise. ufa88v3 "All right, doctor; I have been directed to admit you. Pass in, sir." "I called you Walsh; and that is the name to 41 which you responded at two o'clock this morning," persisted the lieutenant. "All right, doctor; I have been directed to admit you. Pass in, sir." "Dave," repeated Christy, in a more decided tone after he had heard the voice of the steward. "Precisely so; and you will readily see that I am not exactly in a position to act in any other manner, as I cannot go back on deck and deliver them in person, for your officers would be prejudiced against me, and might be disposed to rebel against my authority." "I did not believe a little vessel like the Bronx would be sent up the river," said Mr. Flint, when the commander had read the paper. "Barataria Bay—that locality is noted for something in history, isn't it, captain?" "The coast guard? I don't understand that," replied Christy, puzzled at the expression. "I have been under the berth in this stateroom, a hiding-place which was suggested to me by one of your people who used it as such, and was caught, as I was not." The young officer was more excited than he had 34 ever been in the face of the enemy, for the present looked like a case in which his honor was at stake. He felt that it would be his ruin if the Vernon sailed without him. There had been some mistake in his orders, or in those of the commander of the store ship, and he was likely to be the sufferer for it. He rushed to the stern end of the ferry-boat in order to obtain a better view of the steamer; and at this moment he discovered a boat, pulled by one man, headed towards the navy-yard. The Vernon continued on her course, and in another hour the pilot had been discharged. Christy had puzzled his brains over the events of the day and the night before without being able to arrive at any satisfactory conclusion. He was extremely anxious to see the officer who had taken his name and assumed his character, as he was to obtain all the information within his reach. His reflections assured him that some one had chosen the rôle of an impostor for the purpose of accomplishing some treasonable object, and he was anxious to fathom the mystery for his country's sake rather than his own. saautoco "You are not sea-sick?" inquired the doctor, laughing. "Vincent, you will remain in charge of the boat and the men," said the third lieutenant, addressing the quartermaster. "I will explore the island with Mike. I have the fireworks with me, and you will keep a sharp lookout in the direction of the fort. If you see a light close to the water, make for it as fast as you can. Do you understand me?" illustration of quoted scene "I am a non-combatant, Christy," replied Colonel Passford. "I have not served in the Confederate army or navy, or even been a member of a home guard." "Stand by!" added Mr. Pennant, who had been duly trained in boat service at an oar. "Give way together! No noise!" "I have done something in the business, and perhaps I can cure the man who is sick, if they have the proper medicine," added the officer. "What time shall you come about?" asked Corny, apparently from curiosity rather than any especial interest in the navigation of the steamer. He leaped from his bed when no answer came to his second demand, lighted his lamp, and put on his trousers. With the light in his hand, he opened the door; but there was no one there, and not a sound of any kind could be heard. He walked about the hall in his bare feet, and listened attentively at the doors of several of the chambers, especially at that of Mr. Pembroke, the invalid gentleman whom, with his daughter, he had brought home as a passenger in the captured Vixen. "Those were the coast guard, sir," replied Mike, chuckling again.
uok168 The negro hurried the officer and Mike into one of the cabins, and shoved them into a sort of closet, while he went to the door himself. He passed out into the lane, as the man came into it from the middle of the field, for he had not been near enough to the shore to discover the boat. 145 "Hand them over to me, and let us have no more fooling." Dave was standing by the door when he entered his cabin. Seated at the table was a man of stalwart frame, who was helping himself to the viands prepared for the commander, and making himself entirely at home. "As I said before, I have no doubt you are a Passford; and I have been compelled to decide that you are not the son of Captain Horatio Passford, the distinguished gentleman who has done so much for his country in the present war." "You took the bull by the horns at an opportune moment, my son," said Captain Passford, Senior. "If you had not done so you would have been in a rebel prison at this moment. As it is, poor Corny has got back to Fort Lafayette, with Galvinne and our man-servant, whom I never should have suspected of being a Confederate officer." "That is not my name, sir; and I refer you to the ship's papers to prove it. I am not the man to be ashamed of my name, which is not Welch or Walsh, sir, if you will excuse me for saying so." "Any seaman?" "As usual, you are the hero of the adventure," replied the new first lieutenant, laughing. "But I must say it was the stupidest enterprise in which rational men ever engaged." "Remove the handcuff from his left wrist, and fit him out with a new pair," said Mr. Flint, who still held the left arm of the prisoner. "He desires employment on more active duty than the command of a store-ship, and I am 363 instructed to give him such a position if I have one at my disposal," added the flag-officer. wwwvar999com "Here you differ. Did you make a report of your voyage home, Lieutenant Passford?" continued the captain, pointing at Corny. "I confess that I am as much in the dark as I was in the beginning," replied the executive officer. "What do you know about him, Christy?" asked the colonel with the deepest interest. "I did not answer your question, Mr. Passford," interposed Captain Battleton. "In an hour we will settle the question." 242 "I consider the naval officers as dangerous men, and I had to treat Corny in the same manner that I did his associates. If you wish to see him, I will send for him." The carpenter and his assistants were still at work on the berth, and Christy, placing his valise near it, seated himself by it. For the first time since he came on board of the Vernon he had an opportunity to reflect upon the events of the day. Corny Passford was the present master of the situation. He had not been aware till he met him in the captain's cabin, that his cousin was even in the vicinity of New York. With an amount of assurance for which he had not given him credit, 98 Corny had undertaken to personate his nautical relative, and was now actually on his way to the Gulf to take command of the Bronx. "It is all of two months since I had any news in regard to him. He is still a soldier and has not yet been promoted. His company is still at Fort Gaines; but he has been sent away once or twice on detached duty. He is not given to writing many letters; but the last time I was in Mobile I was told that he had again been sent off on some sort of secret service with a naval officer by the name of Galvinne. I do not know whether the report was true or not." Another half hour elapsed, and except the monotonous plaint of the screw, no sound was to be heard. A footstep came from the cabin, where Dave was at work, or appeared to be, for he had been stationed there for his part of the programme which was presently to be carried out. 259 "What is your name, boy?" he asked. kings365 "Did she?" added Paul with a gush. "Then she has not forgotten all about me. I almost wish I were not an engineer, for then I might be sent home once in a while in charge of a prize." Ensign Flint was appointed to the command of the Bronx by the flag-officer, who had called upon Captain Passford in his stateroom. Christy had not failed to commend his executive officer in the highest terms. The commodore suggested that Christy could not be very kindly disposed towards Captain Battleton of the Vernon, on account of his decision against him in the matter of his identity. The Bronx continued on her course indicated in the verbal order of the flag-officer. Christy felt that he had had a narrow escape from death, or at least a severe wound, at the hands of the desperado who had invaded his cabin. Flanger had escaped, after he had been put on board of the flag-ship, with the assistance of Galvinne; and he appeared not to have taken the trouble to render the same service to his confederate. The ships' companies of the two steamers were inclined to converse, giving and receiving the news; and doubtless the prisoner had taken advantage of the confusion to slip on board of the Bronx and secrete himself. "That is not my name, sir; and I refer you to the ship's papers to prove it. I am not the man to be ashamed of my name, which is not Welch or Walsh, sir, if you will excuse me for saying so." "Perhaps you have never read 'Lafitte, the Pirate of the Gulf;' but this bay was his famous resort," said Christy, smiling. "It was formerly quite as noted as a resort for smugglers, and Lafitte was more a smuggler than a pirate in this region. He was six feet two inches in height, a well educated and handsome man, so that he was a first-class hero for a novel of the dime class," added Christy. The crew had been ordered to ease off, and the cutter moved very slowly. A quarter of an hour later the sounding was ten and three-quarters feet. The next report was fourteen feet, and then no bottom at twenty feet. The Bronx was approaching 341 the boat with full steam, and stopped her screw a short distance from the cutter. In a few moments more the boat was at the davits, and the commander of the expedition reported to Captain Passford. "Where are the negro quarters of this plantation, Mike?" asked Mr. Pennant. uok168 "Don't care for de fight, sar; Job isn't 'feered o' noffin'." Christy and the first lieutenant sprang from the shelter where they had been waiting the passage of the fort, and rushed up the steps to the bridge. The commander of the force on shore, with half a 351 dozen men, was at work on one of the guns on the barbette; but it was impossible to make out what they were doing. Then there was a flash, a cloud of smoke went up, and a shot crashed into the deck directly under the pilot-house, tearing up the planks, and disappearing in the space below. "Ten feet!" shouted the man at the lead. But the boat seemed to be running too far away from the sloop, though it was near enough for the lieutenant and quartermaster to see that there was a decided commotion on board of her. He rang the bell, and the sound from it reverberated through the entire mansion. It was some time before a servant came to open the door; but the man who let him in was astonished to see him partially dressed, and wondered if he had not been walking in his sleep. In the lower hall, he was satisfied that the whole house was astir, for the gong which had sounded was the "emergency 21 bell," used only when the ordinary one at the front door was not likely to be heard. "I hope so," replied Christy, who did not like the idea of fighting or trying to run away from a craft three times as strong as the Bronx. "Have the ensign set at the peak, Mr. Flint." And a quartermaster was sent aft to attend to this duty.
uok168 "The Bronx is taking in provisions, stores, and ammunition. They say the captain has his orders, but I don't know about that." "I can say with entire confidence that I was in command of the Vixen," added Christy. "But the other Massa Passford looks just like you," added Dave. "Did Mr. Flint say anything?" asked Christy. "Then the report of the light on the starboard bow places it directly to the eastward of us," added Christy. "That is about where the entrance to St. Andrew's Bay ought to be, if my calculations were correct. We have been running to the eastward since we left the blockaders' station off Pensacola Bay. My ruler on the chart gave me that course, and Mr. Galvinne followed it while he was in charge. We could not have got more than half a mile off the course in coming about twice. The shoaling of the water also indicates that we are all right." "I think the men are all right, and, so far as I can ascertain, not a man is a rebel," said Ralph in answer to a question of the executive officer. At this moment the captain appeared in the gangway, and interrupted the conversation. He informed the prisoner of war, as he chose to regard him, that he had directed the carpenter to put up a temporary berth for him. Christy opened his valise, and took from it his frock, which he put on after he had disposed of his coat. Then he looked like a common sailor. He was informed that his berth was just forward of the steerage, in that part of the steamer where the men slung their hammocks. The third lieutenant was directed to show him to the place indicated. "I may be mistaken, Captain Passford, but I think that steamer is the Bellevite," added Mr. Flint. The leadsman was ordered to sound, as the screw was stopped, and he reported sixteen fathoms with the deep-sea lead. Christy ordered the quartermaster to go ahead again, and keep the hand-line going all the time. Mr. Flint came forward, and took his place on the bridge, where the 192 officer of the deck was usually stationed on board of the Bronx. Christy went to the library, and busied himself in considering whether or not the sudden departure of Walsh had any connection with the mysterious midnight intruder. The two events had been near together in point of time; but he could establish no other relation between them. Then it flashed upon his mind that the man-servant had been the person who had opened or closed his door, and visited his room; but he was sure he had seen a man near the grand entrance of the estate. He had been all around the house, and Walsh could not have escaped his observation. He had answered the bell, and admitted him after his search. He concluded that the servant was not the person who had disturbed his slumbers. "I tell you the truth, Dave; but things are mixed," added Christy. ufa999th "No, sar; see you frou, Massa Gumboat," replied Job. By this time the executive officer had beat the crew to quarters, and every man was at his station. "Perfectly, Mr. Pennant." uok168 "At Bonnydale, on the Hudson." Captain Battleton would soon begin his investigation, and Christy was confident that the sick officer would be proved to be the impostor. He was not at all worried or even disturbed in regard 60 to the result, for he felt that "truth is mighty and must prevail." His only solicitude was to unravel the plot. Bands of Confederates had been put on board of several steamers for the purpose of capturing them; and it was possible that this plan had been adopted to obtain possession of the Vernon, for she was a good vessel, and was fitted out as a man-of-war. Mr. Flint went to his stateroom, and turned in; but Christy spread his chart of the Gulf of Mexico, and using his parallel ruler, he found that the present course of the Bronx would take her to the Pass à Loutre, the most northerly entrance of the Mississippi River. He went to the bridge at once, and directed the officer of the deck to make the course south-west by south. Everything was going well on deck, and Mr. Pennant had proved that he was a competent officer. 145 "Hand them over to me, and let us have no more fooling." ยฟาคาสโน Like the other male occupants of the house, the lieutenant was provided with a night-key. For one who had only just developed a tolerably thriving mustache, Christy was a prudent and methodical young gentleman. As a part of his method, he had a great many small drawers in his rooms, and a dozen or more keys; but he had never lost them, for the reason that he carried them chained to his nether garment. But he had two sets of keys, one for the house, and one for the ship. He had taken the night-key from the former, and put it in his vest pocket; and when he 20 reached the front door of the mansion, the key he wanted was in his chamber, and he had been careful to shut the door when he left the house. "Advance, friends, and give the countersign!" "Precisely so; in this cause, though I drink whiskey, chew, and smoke, and never swear except when I am excited, I am a religious man," said the intruder, laughing. "My cousin gave his name and rank correctly." "Do you think he could go out into the cabin, doctor?" asked the captain. "I wish to see him on a matter of the utmost importance. Is he dressed?" "It is Mr. Christy, ma'am; nothing is the matter," replied Walsh; but then he appeared to think that he had replied without proper consideration, and he revised his speech. "I don't know that anything's the matter, ma'am," and still he gazed at the young gentleman, as though he deemed it possible that he had suddenly gone crazy. "He did not look quite natural to me; but I could not make out what made the change in his looks," continued Mr. Flint. "You can see for yourself, that the plot would have been a success if you had not been on board of the Bronx to tell me what had happened. Whatever passed between the flag-officer and Captain Battleton, nothing at all was said among the officers about the decision the commander of the Vernon had been obliged to make when he accepted your cousin as the genuine Christopher Passford, ordered to the command of the Bronx. While I thought you were somewhat altered in appearance, and that your greeting to me was rather cold and formal when you came on board, I did not suspect that the officer who represented you was an impostor." "I should thank you, Captain Battleton, for the compliment, if I were not under suspicion of being some other person. May I ask when it will be convenient for you to settle the question, for it is not pleasant for me to feel that I am looked upon as even a possible impostor?" "We are bound to the westward, and the course looks as though we might be ordered up the Mississippi," suggested Mr. Flint. "Strike three bells," added the commander; and the steamer began to back her screw.
uok168 "Not a night for blockade runners," added the captain. "I ask your pardon, sir, but you called me Welch, or some such name," replied the late servant, as Christy was sure he was in spite of his denial. "About nine o'clock; perhaps sooner. Byron will have the deck from eight bells for the first watch; I hope and expect Flint will turn in at that time, for he will have the mid-watch. It might be a little awkward if he happens to be on deck when we change our course from east to west." "All ready, Mr. Flint," reported the third lieutenant, when he had completed the repairs on the steering gear. "I may be mistaken, Captain Passford, but I think that steamer is the Bellevite," added Mr. Flint. "You can consult your own inclination as to that, my excellent friend. I shall not force you 285 to be treated by him," added Christy, "But I must suggest that this farce has been carried far enough in my cabin." "All the crew are not loyal," replied Christy, as he explained the instructions he had given to the steward. The commission and other papers were all right in every respect. Christy handed his envelope to the commander, and he broke it open. It contained nothing but a lot of blank paper. "They are very nice; I have just tried one of them," added Captain Flanger, as he passed the plate over to the commander. ยฟาคาสโน "Do you realize your present situation, Mr. Passford?" asked the captain, apparently disappointed at the unwillingness of the young man to attempt an explanation. "You can trust Dave, Massa Christy," replied the steward, as the officer drew back into his hiding-place. "Not a word, sir; only said he would be down to his breakfast in a few minutes." "Your absence from the between decks of the Vernon has been discovered, and Captain Battleton has caused the strictest search to be made for you on board of all three of the ships. The last I saw of him he was evidently talking with the flag-officer about you, as I judged from his looks and gestures," replied the second lieutenant. Christy rather sympathized with him in his contempt for the one who was only nominally his superior, though that could not excuse the breach of good manners of which he had been guilty, whether in the old or the new navy. He felt that Mr. Galvinne was a man of ability, and that he was the only person whom he had to fear in carrying out his plan for the recovery of the vessel. The commission and other papers were all right in every respect. Christy handed his envelope to the commander, and he broke it open. It contained nothing but a lot of blank paper. "They can't make us out soon enough to do us any harm, or not much, at any rate," replied Mr. Galvinne confidently. "It is; the name was given to the estate by my mother," replied Christy, unable to follow Corny any farther. "I don't believe you will find many hands down here, Mr. Pennant," said Mike in a whisper. "Corny pretended to be Christy, did he? Then you must have seen him if he took your commission." ตด พนน บอล pantip "What do you mean by that?" The oaths and epithets he used need not soil our page; but the prisoner seemed to be suffering more from his wrath than from his wound. "I should think he might be, for the night air is very chilly," replied Christy. "I should have preferred to get rid of these men before we went 182 into any enterprise, for they are dangerous persons to us." uok168 "I neber spoke noffin but the truf, Massa Ossifer." The young lieutenant choked down his emotions, and tried to think of the future; his case was not different from that of hundreds of thousands of others who had gone forth to fight the battles of their country, many thousands of whom slumber in hallowed graves far away from home and friends. As the train moved on towards the great city, he obtained the command of his emotions, and felt a new inspiration of patriotic ardor. "Bless the Lord that I am here at last!" exclaimed the skipper, as he looked furtively about him. "But can you not recall some event or circumstance which will throw some light on the mystery?" persisted Dr. Connelly. Early in the evening, the two steamers were standing out into the Gulf headed to the south-east. In the middle of the afternoon of the next day, Mr. Flint reported to the flag-officer off Pensacola Bay. The wounded captain was as comfortable as a young man could be with two bullet-holes in his limbs. It was the first time he had been wounded so as to disable him; but he felt that he had faithfully done his duty to his country, and he was as cheerful as a man in his condition could be. Dr. Connelly reported that he would not be fit for service again for six or eight weeks.
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ufax10 เครดตฟร The first lieutenant inspected the work, and reported to the captain, who immediately ordered him to weigh the anchor. The chief engineer had been directed to be ready to proceed, and the steam was hissing with a merry music. The midship gun was of no service now, and Mr. Flint had been directed to keep up a steady fire with the 354 broadside guns at the embrasures of the fort as soon as the Bronx was in range. "No, sir." The Bronx had but one officer on board who had been permanently appointed to her, and at least two others must be selected to serve on board of her. It would be an easy matter for Corny to procure the appointment of Mr. Galvinne, who was doubtless competent to handle the vessel as the impostor certainly was not. 298 "We chased a good-sized steamer out last night, and she gave us a long run; but we picked her up, and she is now on her way to New York. She is good for eighteen knots an hour, and the Government is sure to buy her when she is condemned. Mr. Ballard, the second lieutenant, has gone in her as prize-master. He is in poor health, and will get leave of absence till he is better; but I do not believe he will ever come down here again. Were you in earnest in what you said about not liking your present position, Christy?"
ยฟาสลอต666 "Perhaps not, for I intend to replace her with the Bronx." "Peach says he has taken his valise with him, which indicates that he has gone for good." "Yes, sar; what's dat, massa?" "I am not going to banter with you, Passford. Where are your orders?" demanded the first lieutenant in a tyrannical manner.
wwwssc168 "Take a force of twelve men, with pistols and cutlasses, Mr. Pennant, in the first cutter, and pull down to the south-east. Whatever you find in the shape of a vessel or a boat, capture it, and return to the Bronx. Get off with as little noise as possible, and muffle your oars." "Yes, ma'am," replied the man who had admitted Christy, and who was still wondering what fit, freak, or fancy had beset the young officer. "I think you need not be too particular about them; they have made their own nest, and now they must live in it," said the first lieutenant.
ยฟา 147 "I did not mean to allow the sloop to be captured by a boat load of men like that," replied Captain Flanger; "and if our men had used their bayonets we should have been all right. I told them to fix their bayonets, but they paid no attention to me." "If there had been no setback, Corny would have gone into Pensacola Bay in a few hours more, in nominal command of the steamer, though of course Galvinne was the real commander." "Not exactly; but I'm his man, Mike Bornhoff." "Dave, sir," replied he, evidently deeply impressed by the visitor for some reason not yet apparent to the captain.