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 Christy had made up his lost sleep. On the first day out he had taken Captain Lonley's word that he would not interfere with anything on board, and had then given him a berth in the ward room, where he messed with the officers. Captain Rowly had also been taken on board, and as he was a captain in the Confederate army, innocent as he was, he demanded similar accommodations. His request was granted, but Christy decided to leave him at Key West, for the ward room was full.  
The fleet continued on its voyage after the call at the Florida port, and was soon in the Gulf Stream. It was an exceedingly quiet time in the little fleet of vessels, though the drill on board of the Vixen was closely followed up. On the second day they had a mild gale, and the schooners were cast off, and towed astern, one behind the other.
335 Then the weather was fine again, though the sea was still too rough for the Havana and the Aleppo to tow the prizes alongside. Christy observed the drill a great deal of the time, and Bertha Pembroke was often his companion. He told her all about vessels in the navy, explained actions at sea, but hoped she would not be permitted to see one.
Then he related to her the experience of the Bellevite as a yacht and as a naval vessel, and no one ever had a more attentive listener. He could not conceal it from himself that he was deeply interested in the young lady, and observers would have said that she was not less interested in him. On the fifth day out from Key West, while they were thus agreeably occupied, there was a hail from the fore rigging.
"Sail, ho!" shouted the lookout on the fore crosstrees, where the prudence of the commander required a hand to be stationed at all times, day and night.
"Where away?" called Scopfield, the third lieutenant, who was the officer of the deck.
"Broad on the starboard bow," replied the lookout.
336 "Can you make it out?"
"A steamer, sir; black smoke behind her," responded the lookout.
Mr. Fillbrook had joined the third lieutenant by this time, and the former reported to the captain. Christy had heard all that had passed, and he immediately began to feel a heavy anxiety in regard to the sail.
"What do you think of her, Mr. Fillbrook?" he asked, after the executive officer had reported to him.
"There are so many steamers coming over from British ports about this time, bound to Confederate ports, that it is not very difficult to guess what she is," replied the first lieutenant. "She is either a blockade runner, or a steamer fitted out to prey upon the commerce of the United States."
"That seems to be plain enough; and from the position in which we find her, she has come out of the Bermudas, or is bound there," added the commander. "Bring my glass from my state room," he continued to his cabin steward, who was sunning himself on the deck.
When it was brought, the captain and the executive officer went forward and mounted the top-gallant 337 forecastle. Mr. Fillbrook procured a glass from the pilot house, and both of them looked long and earnestly at the speck in the distance. The steamer was hull down, and they soon agreed that she was bound to the eastward.
"We have no business with her at present," said Christy, as he shut up his glass.
"But I have no doubt she has already run the blockade, and came out of Wilmington or Savannah. If that is the case, she must be loaded with cotton, which contains a fortune at the present time within a small compass," replied Mr. Fillbrook, who had not been as fortunate as some others in the matter of prizes.
"Very likely," replied Christy, rather coldly, his companion thought. "I do not think I should be justified in giving chase to her, which could only be done by abandoning the convoy."
"Could we not pick up the convoy after we had captured the steamer?" asked the first lieutenant.
"Yes, if some Confederate cruiser does not pick it up in our absence," replied Christy, with a significant smile.
Mr. Fillbrook was evidently very much disappointed, 338 not to say disgusted, with the decision of Captain Passford; but he was too good an officer to make a complaint, or utter a comment. The ship's company had become somewhat excited when it was announced that a sail, with black smoke painting a long streak on the blue sky, was made out. If it was a blockade runner, with a cargo of cotton, it meant a small fortune to each officer, seaman, and others on board.
The new commander had a reputation as a daring leader, and the hopes of the officers and men ran high. They waited eagerly to have the steamer headed to the eastward; but no such order was given, and the chins of all hands began to drop down.
Christy had no interest in the money value of a prize, and yet he could understand the feeling of his ship's company. He was an heir of a millionaire, and he had no occasion to trouble his head about the profits of a capture. He looked at the question from a purely patriotic point of view, and every prize secured was so much taken from the resources of the enemy.
He saw the disappointment painted on the face of the first lieutenant, and he went to his cabin to 339 consider his duty again, and review the reasoning that had influenced him; but he came to the conclusion he had reached in the beginning. He was in charge of six vessels loaded with cotton, and the ship's company of the Bronx and other vessels had an interest in their cargoes. The Vixen was less than a hundred and fifty miles from the coast, and a tug boat, with a bow gun and a crew of twenty-five, could come out and capture the whole fleet without the least difficulty. The risk was too great, and the commander was as firm............
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