Search      Hot    Newest Novel
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】 Add Bookmark  
 "She is a fine little steamer, father, without the possibility of a doubt," said Lieutenant Passford, who was seated at the table with his father in the captain's cabin on board of the Bronx. "I don't feel quite at home here, and I don't quite like the idea of being taken out of the Bellevite."  
"You are not going to sea for the fun of it, my son," replied Captain Passford. "You are not setting out on a yachting excursion, but on the most serious business in the world."
"I know and feel all that, father, but I have spent so many pleasant days, hours, weeks, and months on board of the Bellevite, that I am very sorry to leave her," added Christy Passford, who had put on his new uniform, which was that of 16 master in the United States Navy; and he was as becoming to the uniform as the uniform was to him.
"You cannot well help having some regrets at leaving the Bellevite; but you must remember that your life on board of her was mostly in the capacity of a pleasure-seeker, though you made a good use of your time and of your opportunities for improvement; and that is the reason why you have made such remarkable progress in your present profession."
"I shall miss my friends on board of the Bellevite. I have sailed with all her officers, and Paul Vapoor and I have been cronies for years," continued Christy, with a shade of gloom on his bright face.
"You will probably see them occasionally, and if your life is spared you may again find yourself an officer of the Bellevite. But I think you have no occasion to indulge in any regrets," said Captain Passford, imparting a cheerful expression to his dignified countenance. "Allow me to call your attention to the fact that you are the commander of this fine little steamer. Here you are in your own cabin, and you are still nothing but a boy, hardly eighteen years old."
17 "If I have not earned my rank, it is not my fault that I have it," answered Christy, hardly knowing whether to be glad or sorry for his rapid advancement. "I have never asked for anything; I did not ask or expect to be promoted. I was satisfied with my rank as a midshipman."
"I did not ask for your promotion, though I could probably have procured for you the rank of master when you entered the navy. I do not like to ask favors for a member of my own family. I have wished you to feel that you were in the service of your country because it needs you, and not for glory or profit."
"And I have tried to feel so, father."
"I think you have felt so, my son; and I am prouder of the fact that you are a disinterested patriot than of the rank you have nobly and bravely won," said Captain Passford, as he took some letters from his pocket, from which he selected one bearing an English postage stamp. "I have a letter from one of my agents in England, which, I think, contains valuable information. I have called the attention of the government to these employes of mine, and they will soon pass from my service to that of the naval department. 18 The information sent me has sometimes been very important."
"I know that myself, for the information that came from that source enabled the Bellevite to capture the Killbright," added Christy.
"The contents of the letter in my hand have been sent to the Secretary of the Navy; but it will do no harm for you to possess the information given to me," continued Captain Passford, as he opened the letter. "But I see a man at work at the foot of the companion way, and I don't care to post the whole ship's company on this subject."
"That is Pink Mulgrum," said Christy with a smile on his face. "He is deaf and dumb, and he cannot make any use of what you say."
"Don't be sure of anything, Christy, except your religion and your patriotism, in these times," added Captain Passford, as he rose and closed the door of the cabin.
"I don't think there is much danger from a deaf mute, father," said the young commander of the Bronx laughing.
"Perhaps not; but when you have war intelligence to communicate, it is best to believe that every person has ears, and that every door has a 19 keyhole. I learn from this letter that the Scotian sailed from Glasgow, and the Arran from Leith. The agent is of the opinion that both these steamers are fitted out by the same owners, who have formed a company, apparently to furnish the South with gunboats for its navy, as well as with needed supplies. In his letter my correspondent gives me the reason for this belief on his part."
"Does your agent give you any description of the vessels, father?" asked Christy, his eyes sparkling with the interest he felt in the information.
"Not a very full description, my son, for no strangers were allowed on board of either of them, for very obvious reasons; but they are both of less than five hundred tons burthen, are of precisely the same model and build, evidently constructed in the same yard. Both had been pleasure yachts, though owned by different gentlemen. Both sailed on the same day, the Scotian from Greenock and the Arran from Leith, March 3."
Christy opened his pocket diary, and put his finger on the date mentioned, counting up the days that had elapsed from that time to the present. Captain Passford could not help smiling at 20 the interest his son manifested in the intelligence he had brought to him. The acting commander of the Bronx went over his calculation again.
"It is fourteen days since these vessels sailed," said he, looking at his father. "I doubt if your information will be of any value to me, for I suppose the steamers were selected on account of their great speed, as is the case with all blockade runners."
"Undoubtedly they were chosen for their speed, for a slow vessel does not amount to much in this sort of service," replied Captain Passford. "I received my letter day before yesterday, when the two vessels had been out twelve days."
"If they are fast steamers, they ought to be approaching the Southern coast by this time," suggested Christy.
"This is a windy month, and a vessel bound to the westward would encounter strong westerly gales, so that she could hardly make a quick passage. Then these steamers will almost certainly put in at Nassau or the Bermudas, if not for coal and supplies, at least to obtain the latest intelligence from the blockaded coast, and to pick up a pilot for the port to which they are bound. The 21 agent thinks it is possible that the Scotian and Arran will meet some vessel to the southward of the Isle of Wight that will put an armament on board of them. He had written to another of my agents at Southampton to look up this matter. It is a quick mail from the latter city to New York, and I may get another letter on this subject before you sail, Christy."
"My orders may come off to me to-day," added the acting commander. "I am all ready to sail, and I am only waiting for them."
"If these two steamers sail in company, as they are likely to do if they are about equal in speed, and if they take on board an armament, it will hardly be prudent for you to meddle with them," said Captain Passford with a smile, though he had as much confidence in the prudence as in the bravery of his son.
"What shall I do, father, run away from them?" asked Christy, opening his eyes very wide.
"Certainly, my son. There is as much patriotism in running away from a superior force as there is in fighting an equal, for if the government should lose your vessel and lose you and your ship's company, it would be a disaster of more or less consequence to your country."
22 "I hardly think I shall fall in with the Scotian and the Arran, so I will not consider the question of running away from them," said Christy laughing.
"You have not received your orders yet, but they will probably require you to report at once to the flag-officer in the Gulf, and perhaps they will not permit you to look up blockade runners on the high seas," suggested Captain Passford. "These vessels may be fully armed and manned, in charge of Confederate naval officers; and doubtless they will be as glad to pick up the Bronx as you would be to pick up the Scotian or the Arran. You don't know yet whether they will come as simple blockade runners, or as naval vessels flying the Confederate flag. Whatever your orders, Christy, don't allow yourself to be carried away by any Quixotic enthusiasm."
"I don't think I have any more than half as much audacity as Captain Breaker said I had. As I look upon it, my first duty is to deliver my ship over to the flag-officer in the Gulf; and I suppose I shall be instructed to pick up a Confederate cruiser or a blockade runner, if one should cross my course."
23 "Obey your orders, Christy, whatever they may be. Now, I should like to look over the Bronx before I go on shore," said Captain Passford. "I think you said she was of about two hundred tons."
"That was what they said down south; but she is about three hundred tons," replied Christy, as he proceeded to show his father the cabin in which the conversation had taken place.
The captain's cabin was in the stern of the vessel, according to the orthodox rule in naval vessels. Of course it was small, though it seemed large to Christy who had spent so much of his leisure time in the cabin of the Florence, his sailboat on the Hudson. It was substantially fitted up, with little superfluous ornamentation; but it was a complete parlor, as a landsman would regard it. From it, on the port side opened the captain's state room, which was quite ample for a vessel no larger than the Bronx. Between it and the pantry on the starboard side, was a gangway leading from the foot of the companion way, by which the captain's cabin and the ward room were accessible from the quarter deck.
Crossing the gangway at the foot of the steps, 24 Christy led the way into the ward room, where the principal officers were accommodated. It contained four berths, with portières in front of them, which could be drawn out so as to inclose each one in a temporary state room. The forward berth on the starboard side was occupied by the first lieutenant, and the after one by the second lieutenant, according to the custom in the navy. On the port side, the forward berth belonged to the chief engineer, and the after one to the surgeon. Forward of this was the steerage, in which the boatswain, gunner, carpenter, the assistant engineers, and the steward were berthed. Each of these apartments was provided with a table upon which the meals were served to the officers occupying it. The etiquette of a man-of-war is even more exacting than that of a drawing room on shore.
Captain Passford was then conducted to the deck where he found the officers and seamen engaged in their various duties. Besides his son, the former owner of the Bellevite was acquainted with only two persons on board of the Bronx, Sampson, the engineer, and Flint, the acting first lieutenant, both of whom had served on board of the steam yacht. Christy's father gave them a 25 hearty greeting, and both were as glad to see him as he was to greet them. Captain Passford then looked over the rest of the ship's company with a deeper interest than he cared to manifest, for they were to some extent bound up with the immediate future of his son. It was not such a ship's company as that which manned the Bellevite, though composed of much good material. The captain shook hands with his son, and went on board of his boat. Two hours later he came on board again.

All The Data From The Network AND User Upload, If Infringement, Please Contact Us To Delete! Contact Us
About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Tag List | Recent Search  
©2010-2018, All Rights Reserved