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gains her position nearer in to shore. Our worthy First, Lieutenant Hazard, has the deck, with the trumpet in his hand, ready to take in sail or to increase it, as the ship, now in her most critical position, is standing on to land.
All hands are on deck—the crew in their places, to execute the orders for working the ship--the officers at their stations, to facilitate the action of the men in the execution of the orders, as they may come from the First Lieutenant-and the idlers are gazing on the high peaks of the mountains, or on the golden sand-beach of lower land, stretching along the coast, or on the breakers, as they are now seen in different directions, combing in their silver line of light over the sunken reefs of coral, which make the entrance to the harbor so cri. tical, at this and at most other points along the coast of Central America and Mexico. The anchorage of the squadron is now distinctly seen; and the domes and steeples of the cathedral and churches of Vera Cruz, together with the walls of the Castle of San Juan de Ullua loom up distinctly to the view. The breeze still increases; and we are standing gallantly onward, fearless of the breakers and the shoals, as our ship is handsomely weathering them, with a beautiful action that does her credit, under her press
filled with a favoring wind.
“ Stand by to take in the studding-sails ; man the clew. lines, sheets, and down-hauls !” cried the First Lieutenant, an officer of fine command, when maneuvring a ship, and who now stood upon the poop-deck, and placed the trumpet to his mouth. The frigate was bringing the extreme point of the outer reef nearer abeam; and it was deemed advisable to give the reef a wider berth, as the ship should pass
“Stand by to furl the royals-man the royal clew-lines !” continued the First Lieutenant, while the men stretched themselves along the down-hauls and clew-lines, and waited for the further order, which, even while it yet lingered on
the lip, should cause the royals to be gathered to the yard, and the studding-sails to come to the deck. A moment more, and the order came : “ In studding-sails and royals!” The three highest sails of the ship were gathered to the yards so snug, that nothing scarcely could be seen, save the naked
spars, like some slight black outline, now crossing the far up royal-masts; while the studding-sails fluttering in the wind like so many kites, or as a falling dove, with its wing lopped by some archer, edged themselves obliquely to the deck.
“ Man the lee braces,” continued the officer, as we had cleared the first reef handsomely, and the city of Vera Cruz opened full on the view, with all its steeples, cupolas, and domes, together with the long range of walls of the castle of San Juan de Ullua. Our course, however, lay not directly to the city, now in full view, but to the island of Sacrificios, some three and more miles from the town; and still another reef was to be weathered, to enable the ship to gain the lee of the little island, where a squadron of six ships was seen, riding at their anchors.
“Man the lee braces, I say,” continued the Lieutenant ; “haul taught !” The sails of the three masts now made a beautiful and equal slant, as the yards were sharply braced to the wind, and allowed the ship to stand yet further off from the second reef, over which the breakers were combing, and to weather its extreme point without danger.
We were now beyond the coral reefs, beautiful things always, as they lay their line of silver on the blue deep, but fearful to the eye of the mariner, when on a lee shore ; and now the ship, obeying the motion of the wheel, wore handsomely away, and filled the bellying canvas, as we stood directly down to the little fleet, resting at its anchors, under the isle of Sacrificios. But soon the sails of the fore were thrown aback, while the jack was run up to the mizzen head
--the stopper broke--and the signal thus made said, “we wish a pilot.” A boat was soon seen, bearing the American flag at its bows; and, ere long, a pilot was on board, and the ship again filled away, and stood boldly in to the anchorage ground. The wind continued fair and fresh, and filled the top-sails and top-gallant-sails. The fore and main-sails had already been clewed up—the spanker brailed--the jib stowed. The ship bore down upon the little fleet in a gallant style, with the wind directly abaft, while we momently neared the anchored ships, not now very distant from us.
“ Is the rigging clear of the guns, sir ?" demanded the First Lieutenant of the gunner. “ All clear sir," was the reply.
“Let the men stand clear of the guns, then, sir,” conti. nued the officer, placing the trumpet to his mouth; and now giving forth the order in a yet louder tone:
“ Ready, sir!"
This order was repeated, until thirteen cannon alternately, from each side of the ship, spoke loudly over the sea, and told the Commodore, whose squadron we came to join, that we were near, and saluted him. The Commodore's ship soon opened, and returned the fire, in acknowledgment of the compliment. The frigate still stood in directly for a French man-of-war, which lay nearest to the berth which our own ship was to take; and it seemed as if our frigate designed to run the Frenchman down, with the wind pressing us directly astern; and the danger of doing it, whether we designed it or no, seemed, at this moment, not to be inconsiderable. Yet, the heavy anchor from the starboard bows was let go in good time, and the pressure of the stopper
upon the links of the clanking iron chain, as it continued to run out, finally checked the frigate ; when the spanker was hauled out, and the ship came up gracefully into her posi. tion, and rested, side by side, near the French ship, and added another no inconsiderable force to the American squadron, among which, as the chief of their number, the Cumberland now took her place.
The sails were furled—the ship doubly moored—the decks cleared; and while I promenaded the poop-deck to gaze upon the new scene around—the sea, the ships, the land—and inhaled the soft breeze that swept by us, 1 gazed aloft at the trim spars and taught yards of our ship, and, behold! there, again, peered that blessed moon, in our zenith, above the trucks of our ship, throwing down her smiles of blessed omen, and almost saying: “I have followed you through the gale and the calm—the cloud and the sunshine -and here, almost at an unusual hour for me, I am abroad again, to assure you, as I
peer above your ship, that your anchorage ground shall be safe, and your cruise be successfully ended, and yourself returned, in health and happiness, to those you love !" Had I wished it, I could not have withheld the feeling of credulity, that yon high moon, in another so striking a coincidence of appearing so directly above us, at such an hour of the day, and at the moment of our anchoring, spoke audibly-if not to the ear, yet to the willing and grateful heart.
The Cumberland having come to anchor, a number of • man-of-war boats were soon moving from the other ships lying near her, bearing the compliments of their commanders to the captain of our frigate, and proffering any assistance the Cumberland might need. These compliments and courteous proffers of assistance are usual; and it would be deemed a slight on the part of any national ship in port, towards the newly arrived, if a boat and an officer, bearing these compliments, were not sent. The Englishman, who is seldom late in tendering civilities, where the naval service has made them usual, was first to lay his boat alongside the frigate, and its officer to ascend to the deck and advance to the cabin, and soon again to leave the ship. The Frenchman came next-the Spaniard last, and perhaps rather late. And yet, he was the statelier of the three, in his heavier lace, that laid its gold upon his dress. It was a dress, however, faultless of its kind, and rich as faultless; and, therefore, with the evidence of more particularity, though nothing of primness, than was seen in the English or French officer, I readily apologized, in my own mind, for his tardier appearance, as he had spent a longer time in his state-room in making his toilet for the occasion, than had characterized old John Bull in his off-hand way, or Jonny Crapeau, that nice and spruce neighbor, over the way, of old John Bull's. Whatever may be the mutual antipathies or sympathies of these several na