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of the lake, believed himself to be about midway between the two shores. The height and length of the seas, aided this impression; and it must be added that Cap, by this time, began to feel a respect for fresh-water, that twenty-four hours earlier, he would have derided as impossible. Just as the night turned, the fury of the wind became so great, that he found it impossible to bear up against it, the water falling on the deck of the little craft in such masses as to cause it to shake to the centre, and, though a vessel of singularly lively qualities, to threaten to bury it beneath its weight. The people of the Scud averred that never before had they been out in such a tempest; which was true; for, possessing a perfect knowledge of all the rivers and head-lands and havens, Jasper would have carried the cutter in shore, long ere this, and placed her in safety, in some secure anchorage. But, Cap still disdained to consult the young master, who continued below, determining to act like a mariner of the broad
It was one in the morning, when the storm-staysail was again got on the Scud, the head of the mainsail lowered, and the cutter put before the wind. Although the canvass now exposed was merely a rag in surface, the little craft nobly justified the use of the name she bore. For eight hours did she scud, in truth; and it was almost with the velocity of the gulls that wheeled wildly over her in the tempest, apparently afraid to alight in the boiling caldron of the lake. The dawn of day brought little change; for no other horizon became visible, than the little circle of drizzling sky and water, already described, in which it seemed as if the elements were rioting in a sort of chaotic confusion. During this time the crew and passengers of the cutter were of necessity passive. Jasper and the pilot remained below; but, the motion of the vessel having become easier, nearly all the rest were on deck. The morning meal had been taken in silence, and eye met eye, as if their owners asked each other, in dumb show, what was to be the end of this strife in the elements. Cap, however, was perfectly composed, and his face brightened, his step grew firmer, and his whole air more assured, as the storm increased, making larger demands on his professional skill, and personal spirit. He stood on the forecastle, his arms crossed, balancing his body with a seaman's instinct,
while his eyes watched the caps of the seas, as they broke and glanced past the reeling cutter, itself in such swift motion, as if they were the scud flying athwart the sky. At this sublime instant one of the hands gave the unexpected cry of 66 a sail!"
There was so much of the wild and solitary character of the wilderness about Ontario, that one scarcely expected to meet with a vessel on its waters. The Scud, herself, to those who were in her, resembled a man threading the forest alone, and the meeting was like that of two solitary hunters beneath the broad canopy of leaves that then covered so many millions of acres on the continent of America. The peculiar state of the weather served to increase the romantic, almost supernatural appearance of the passage. Cap alone regarded it with practised eyes, and even he felt his iron nerves thrill under the sensations that were awakened by the wild features of the scene.
The strange vessel was about two cables' length ahead of the Scud, standing by the wind athwart her bows, and steering a course to render it probable that the latter would pass within a few yards of her. She was a full-rigged ship, and seen through the misty medium of the tempest, the most experienced eye could detect no imperfection in her gear or construction. The only canvass she had set, was a closereefed main-top-sail, and two small storm-staysails, one forward and the other aft. Still the power of the wind pressed so hard upon her as to bear her down nearly to her beamends, whenever the hull was not righted by the buoyancy of some wave under her lee. Her spars were all in their places, and by her motion through the water, which might have equalled four knots in the hour, it was apparent that she steered a little free.
"The fellow must know his position well," said Cap, as the cutter flew down towards the ship, with a velocity almost equalling that of the gale, "for he is standing boldly to the southward, where he expects to find anchorage or a haven. No man in his senses would run off free in that fashion, that was not driven to scudding, like ourselves, who did not perfectly understand where he was going."
"We have made an awful run, captain," returned the man to whom this remark had been addressed. "That is the
French king's ship, Lee-my-calm, (le Montcalm,) and she is standing in for the Niagara, where her owner has a garrison and a port. We've have made an awful run of it!"
Ay, bad luck to him! Frenchman like, he skulks into port the moment he sees an English bottom."
"It might be well for us, if we could follow him," returned the man shaking his head despondingly, "for we are getting into the end of a bay up here at the head of the lake, and it is uncertain whether we ever get out of it again!"
"Poh! man, poh!-We have plenty of sea room, and a good English hull beneath us. We are no Johnny Crapauds to hide ourselves behind a point or a fort, on account of a puff of wind. Mind your helm, sir !"'
The order was given on account of the menacing appearance of the approaching passage. The Scud was now head
ing directly for the fore-foot of the Frenchman; and, the distance between the two vessels having diminished to a hundred yards, it was momentarily questionable if there was room to pass.
"Port, sir-port!" shouted Cap. "Port your helm and pass astern!"
The crew of the Frenchman were seen assembling to windward, and a few muskets were pointed, as if to order the people of the Scud to keep off. Gesticulations were observed, but the sea was too wild and menacing to admit of the ordinary expedients of war. The water was dripping from the muzzles of two or three light guns on board the ship, but no one thought of loosening them for service in such a tempest. Her black sides, as they emerged from a wave, glistened and seemed to frown, but the wind howled through her rigging, whistling the thousand notes of a ship; and the hails and cries that escape a Frenchman with so much readiness, were inaudible.
"Let him hollow himself hoarse!" growled Cap. is no weather to whisper secrets in. Port, sir, port!"
The man at the helm obeyed, and the next send of the sea drove the Scud down upon the quarter of the ship, so near her that the old mariner, himself, recoiled a step, in a vague expectation that, at the next surge ahead, she would drive bows foremost directly into the planks of the other vessel. But this was not to be. Rising from the crouching posture she
had taken, like a panther about to leap, the cutter dashed onward, and, at the next instant, she was glancing past the stern of her enemy, just clearing the end of her spanker-boom with her own lower yard.
The young Frenchman, who commanded the Montcalm, leaped on the taffrail, and with that high-toned courtesy which relieves even the worst acts of his countrymen, he raised his cap and smiled a salutation as the Scud shot past. There were bonhommie and good taste in this act of courtesy, when circumstances allowed of no other communications; but they were lost on Cap, who, with an instinct quite as true to his race, shook his fist menacingly, and muttered to himself
'Ay-ay-it's d- -d lucky for you I've no armament on board here, or I'd send you in to get new cabin-windows fitted. Serjeant, he's a humbug."
""T was civil, brother Cap," returned the other, lowering his hand from the military salute which his pride as a soldier had induced him to return-"'t was civil, and that 's as much as you can expect from a Frenchman. What he really meant by it, no one can say."
"He is not heading up to this sea without an object, neither! Well, let him run in, if he can get there; we will keep the lake, like hearty English mariners."
This sounded gloriously, but Cap eyed with envy, the glittering black mass of the Montcalm's hull, her waving top-sail, and the misty tracery of her spars, as she grew less and less distinct, and finally disappeared in the drizzle, in a form as shadowy as that of some unreal image. Gladly would he have followed in her wake, had he dared; for to own the truth, the prospect of another stormy night in the midst of the wild waters that were raging around him, brought little consolation. Still he had too much professional pride to betray his uneasiness, and those under his care relied on his knowledge and resources, with the implicit and blind confidence that the ignorant are apt to feel.
A few hours succeeded, and darkness came again to increase the perils of the Scud. A lull in the gale, however, had induced Cap to come by the wind once more, and throughout the night, the cutter was lying-to, as before, headreaching as a matter of course, and occasionally waring to keep off the land. It is unnecessary to dwell on the inci
dents of this night, which resembled those of any other gale of wind. There were the pitching of the vessel, the hissing of the waters, the dashing of spray, the shocks that menaced annihilation to the little craft as she plunged into the seas, the undying howling of the wind, and the fearful drift. The last was the most serious danger for, though exceedingly weatherly under her canvass, and totally without top-hamper, the Scud was so light, that the combing of the swells would seem, at times, to wash her down to leeward, with a velocity as great as that of the surges themselves.
During this night, Cap slept soundly and for several hours. The day was just dawning, when he felt himself shaken by the shoulder, and arousing himself, he found the Pathfinder standing at his side. During the gale, the guide had appeared little on deck, for his natural modesty told him that seamen alone should interfere with the management of the vessel; and he was willing to show the same reliance on those who had charge of the Scud, as he expected those who followed through the forest to manifest in his own skill. But he now thought himself justified in interfering, which he did in his own unsophisticated and peculiar manner.
"Sleep is sweet, Master Cap," he said, as soon as the eyes of the latter were fairly open, and his consciousness had sufficiently returned-"Sleep is sweet, as I know from experience, but life is sweeter still. Look about you, and say this is exactly the moment for a commander to be off his feet."
"How now - how now Master Pathfinder!" growled
Cap, in the first moments of his awakened faculties" Are you, too, getting on the side of the grumblers? When ashore, I admired your sagacity in running through the worst shoals, without a compass, and since we have been afloat, your meekness and submission have been as pleasant, as your confidence on your own ground; I little expected such a summons from you."
"As for myself, Master Cap, I feel I have my gifts, and I believe they'll interfere with those of no other man; but the case may be different with Mabel Dunham. She has her gifts, too, it is true; but they are not rude like ours, but gentle, and womanish, as they ought to be. It's on her account that I speak, and not on my own."
"Ay-ay-I begin to understand. The girl is a good