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 The fog had been very variable in its density, and had been lifting and settling at times during the day of the capture. By the time the two vessels were ready to get under way, it had become more solid than before. The night had come, and the darkness with it, at about the same time. The lookouts were still in their places; but so far as seeing anything was concerned they might as well have been in the hold. If the Arran was still in the vicinity, as no doubt she was, the Bronx might run into her. Wherever she was, it was well assured that her officers knew nothing of the capture of the Ocklockonee, for not a great gun had been discharged, and the combat had been so quickly decided that there had been very little noise of any kind.  
Everything worked without friction on board of the Bronx; and Captain Passford felt even 192 more elastic than usual. Doubtless the capture he had just made afforded him a good deal of inspiration; but the fact that the mystery of the deaf mute and the second lieutenant had been solved, and the unfathomable catastrophe which their presence on board threatened had been escaped was a great source of relief.
The two conspirators were disabled and confined to the sick bay, and they were not likely to make any trouble at present. If they had had any definite plan on which they intended to act, they had certainly lost their opportunities, for the visit of Hungerford to the engine room of the Bronx, no doubt for the purpose of disabling the machinery, and the effort of Pawcett to warn the officers of the prize, had been simply acts of desperation, adopted after they had evidently failed in every other direction.
Pawcett was not really a loyal officer, and his expression and manners had attracted the attention of both the captain and the first lieutenant. The deaf mute had been brought on board in order to obtain information, and he had been very diligent in carrying out his part of the programme. As Christy thought the matter over, seated at his 193 supper in his cabin, he thought he owed more to the advice of his father at their parting than to anything else. He had kept his own counsel in spite of the difficulties, and had done more to blind the actors in the conspiracy than to enlighten them. He had hoped before he parted with the prize for the present to obtain some information in regard to the Arran; but he had too much self-respect to ask the officers of the Ocklockonee in regard to such matters.
The seamen who had been spotted as adherents of the late second lieutenant had done nothing, for there had been nothing that they could do under the circumstances. Spoors and two others of them had been drafted into the other vessel, while the other three remained on board of the Bronx. They were not regarded as very dangerous enemies, and they were not in condition to undertake anything in the absence of their leaders.
Christy had inquired in regard to the condition of Pawcett and Hungerford before he went to his cabin, and Dr. Spokeley informed him that neither of them would be in condition to do duty on either side for a considerable period. They were in no 194 danger under careful treatment, but both of them were too seriously injured to trouble their heads with any exciting subjects.
"Good evening, Captain Dinsmore," Christy said, when he went into his cabin, after he had attended to all the duties that required present attention. "I hope you are feeling better this evening."
"Hardly better, Captain Passford, though I am trying to reconcile myself to my situation," replied the late captain of the Ocklockonee.
"Supper is all ready, sir," interposed Dave, as he passed by the captain, after he had brought in the dishes from the galley.
"Take a seat at the table, Captain Dinsmore," continued Christy, placing a chair for him, and looking over the table to see what cheer he had to offer to his guest.
It looked as though the cook, aware that the commander had a guest, or thinking that he deserved a better supper than usual after the capture of a prize, had done his best in honor of the occasion. The broiled chickens looked especially inviting, and other dishes were quite tempting to a man who was two hours late at the meal.
195 "Thank you, captain," replied the guest, as he took the seat assigned to him. "I can't say that I have a very fierce appetite after the misfortune that has befallen me; but I am none the less indebted to you for your courtesy and kindness."
"I acknowledge that I am in condition to be very happy this evening, Captain Dinsmore, and I can hardly expect to be an agreeable companion to one with a burden on his mind; but I can assure you of my personal sympathy."
"You are very kind, captain. I should like to ask if many of the officers of the old navy are young gentlemen like yourself?" inquired the guest, looking at his host very curiously.
"There are a great many young officers in the navy at the present time, for the exigency has pushed forward the older ones, and there are not enough of them to take all the positions. But we shall all of us grow older," replied Christy good-naturedly, as he helped the officer to a piece of the chicken, which had just come from the galley fire.
"Perhaps you are older than you appear to be," suggested the guest. "I should judge that you were not over twenty, or at least not much more."
196 "I am eighteen, sir, though, unlike a lady, I try to make myself as old as I can."
"Eighteen!" exclaimed Captain Dinsmore.
But Christy told something of his experience on board of the Bellevite which had prepared him for his duties, and his case was rather exceptional.
"You have physique enough for a man of twenty-five," added the guest. "And you have been more fortunate than I have."
"And I have been as unfortunate as you are, for I have seen the inside of a Confederate prison, tho............
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