pap55 This was a correct answer, and Christy saw that his cousin had fully armed himself for his daring scheme, whatever it was. "But why are you out doors at this time of night?" Mrs. Passford insisted. "You will catch a cold that will lay you up, if you go out in that condition." "You will let Mr. Pennant command this expedition, Mr. Flint," said Christy. "He will take the first cutter, with ten men, including Quartermaster Vincent and Bornhoff."
1688 slot "I certainly hope you will do so, sir, if possible." Another solid shot sped on its way, and Mr. Ambleton, the gunner, fully justified the reputation he had earned, though the missile only ploughed up the earth in front of the party on the fort. But then Lieutenant Fourchon proved that he was a wise and a prudent man, as well as a brave one, for he retreated from the exposed position with his men. It was almost sure death for them to remain there, for they could not help seeing the cloud of smoke that rose from the funnel of the Bronx, indicating her intention to go up the Pass. "My father is quite well, but he left Bonnydale last Tuesday to go to Washington, and had not returned when I left home. My mother is quite well, and so is Florry," replied the sick officer, who did not appear to be suffering from a very severe headache just then, for he was quite cheerful and animated. 1688 slot "I stand by the union, and those on the other side must keep out from under. When I was in a Confederate prison, my uncle Homer, your father, did not do a single thing for me. Lead on, Ralph." Christy seated himself and began to consider the strange situation. 226 "Captain Passford!" exclaimed Michael Bornhoff, as he heard the name; and the third lieutenant passed on to take a look at the prisoners. "He is the coachman. I am not sorry that Walsh has gone, for he has saved me the trouble of discharging him. Wilder, who had been with us so many years, took it into his head to enlist in the army, and I was not willing to persuade him to shirk his duty. Walsh has not been here quite two weeks. He said he was born in the West Indies; but he was always prying into matters that did not concern him, and I have several times found him standing at the door when we were talking about family matters. I reproved him for it; but it did no good. Your father 30 intended to discharge him as soon as he returned from Washington." "What have you here, Mr. Pennant?" asked the commander with a smile, as he pointed to Uncle Job, who seemed to be as bashful as a young girl, and utterly confounded by what he saw on the deck of the Bronx. 89 "I do not see how you can escape that conclusion," replied the first lieutenant. The commander was amazed at the impudence of the intruder. naza789 "What is the matter now?" asked the prisoner in the ward room, after he had rubbed his eyes for a time. "How do you feel?" asked the doctor. "But there will be no trouble of any kind," added the first lieutenant. "We are not carrying sail, and I shall quietly give the word to the quartermaster to make the course west instead of east. Flint is the only man on board who is at all likely to question the regularity of the proceedings on board; and I do not see how he can do it, for he knows nothing at all about the orders under which we are sailing. In fact, we shall be on the other tack before the time comes to open the sealed envelope." "I did not aim at his nose, but at his head in a general way," replied the commander. "I fired in a hurry, and I meant to reach his brains, if he had any. Take him away; I am disgusted." "I called you Walsh; and that is the name to 41 which you responded at two o'clock this morning," persisted the lieutenant. No doubt he was greatly surprised to hear his name, pronounced as though it came up through the deck, as he had abundant reason to be. "But Bonnydale is not an incorporated town. In what city or town is your father's place situated?" "I don't wish to be rude with a gentleman as polite as yourself, Captain Passford; but you interrupted my remarks by rising from your chair," said Captain Flanger, with the revolver still poised in his hand, while he dropped the other with the handcuff upon it at his side. "The shoal water is the best protection for the small steamers that ply on these inside waters; and the Yankee gunboats can take all others as they come out. The entrance to the bay has not been regularly blockaded, for there has been little occasion to do so thus far." Christy was still clothed in the frock and cap of a common sailor, and he realized that it was time for him to put on his uniform. He went to the quarters of the men where he had concealed his valise, and carried it back to the cabin, where he proceeded to make the change. In a short time he had put himself in proper condition to take his place on the quarter-deck in command when his presence was required. He had nothing to do at present, and he concluded to write his report of the remarkable proceedings on board since the 175 Bronx left the station. He wanted his desk, and he went to the stateroom. In the breast pocket of his uniform coat he found the envelope which contained his commission as a lieutenant, received only two days before his orders, and some other papers. As a precaution against inquisitive persons, if the package should happen to be mislaid in the house, he had applied some mucilage in the library, and resealed the envelope. It had not been tampered with so far as he could discover, and he returned it to the pocket. riches777pg "Of course I shall not raise an issue as to your veracity, Mr. Passford, but after the statement you have made to me, I must change the form of my phraseology," continued the commander, using a smile to cover any possible doubts or suspicions in his mind. "When I called at the stateroom of the officer who reported on board last evening as Lieutenant Christopher Passford, he told me that I was expected to get under way and proceed to my destination as soon as the officer and the seamen were on board." The mystery was not solved till Christy embarked for the Gulf. His reflections relieved him of all scruples in regard to any action he might resolve to take. He was held in confinement as a Confederate. When he had been taken by the enemy and locked up as a union prisoner, he had considered his duty, independently of his desire to be free, and he had effected his escape with Flint. In the present instance his confinement was not irksome, but he felt more keenly than before that he ought to do something to save the little gunboat; and he could do nothing without first getting into a position where he could act. "I don't know, Paul; I will think of the matter, and write to you as soon as I have time. There comes the boat. Mr. Flint, have the prisoner brought on deck to be transferred to the Bellevite." "But Christy has disappeared all the same; and where do you suppose he is?" "I know no name but Bonnydale," replied Corny; and the flush of fever or something else was on his cheeks now. "You decline to give me your sealed orders? Do I correctly understand you, Captain Passford?" 276 demanded the privateersman with a frown upon his brow. Captain Flanger was at the critical point in his operations, and he was too busy with the commander to give any attention to the negro, whom he regarded with the contempt begotten of his Southern education. Dave was intelligent enough to understand the situation accurately, and he realized that it was rapidly becoming critical. He knew that Christy was unarmed, and that the 280 whole attention of the pirate was concentrated upon him, so that he could do nothing to help himself. "I am very glad to see you, Uncle Job," said Christy, taking the hand of the venerable colored person. "I thank you for the service rendered to my officer. Now, Mr. Pennant, you will come to my cabin and make your report. Bring Uncle Job with you."
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1688 slot "Very well the last time I saw them, which was three weeks ago. They are busy making garments for the soldiers," answered the planter. "I am feeling very well to-day, except that I have started a cold in the head," replied Christy, astonished at this display of interest in the state of his health. Captain Battleton would soon begin his investigation, and Christy was confident that the sick officer would be proved to be the impostor. He was not at all worried or even disturbed in regard 60 to the result, for he felt that "truth is mighty and must prevail." His only solicitude was to unravel the plot. Bands of Confederates had been put on board of several steamers for the purpose of capturing them; and it was possible that this plan had been adopted to obtain possession of the Vernon, for she was a good vessel, and was fitted out as a man-of-war. CHAPTER IV THE SICK OFFICER IN THE STATEROOM In the breast pocket of his uniform coat he found the envelope which contained his commission as a lieutenant, received only two days before his orders, and some other papers. As a precaution against inquisitive persons, if the package should happen to be mislaid in the house, he had applied some mucilage in the library, and resealed the envelope. It had not been tampered with so far as he could discover, and he returned it to the pocket. "I should think he might have been. By the way, Corny, where is my commission that you and he stole from my pocket at Bonnydale?" "All right in every respect," replied the young officer cheerfully. "I was not; not even as sick as I am at this moment," replied Christy, using his handkerchief. shabu999 "I don't know." 40 The lieutenant gazed earnestly into the face of the sailor, for he was willing to admit to himself the possibility of a mistake. Walsh, or whatever his name might have been, was a man of robust form, not more than an inch or two short of six feet in height. He was clean-shaved, with the exception of his upper lip, whereon he sported a rather long dark brown mustache, of which a Broadway dandy might have been vain. As a servant, he had been rather obsequious, though Christy had observed that he used very good language for one in his menial position. As the officer examined his form and features, and especially regarded the expression in general, he was satisfied that he could not be mistaken. While the crews were making the boats ready, and Mr. Camden was selecting the extra men for them, as he was instructed to do, Christy gave the executive officer a brief account of the capture of the sloop, and an epitome of the information he had obtained from Bornhoff. "But Bonnydale is not an incorporated town. In what city or town is your father's place situated?" "When I called upon you in your stateroom this morning, you told me that"— 179 "I will," replied the prisoner. Walsh, the man-servant at Bonnydale, was now a seaman on board of the Vernon, under the real or assumed name of Byron. He denied his identity, as he would naturally do under the circumstances; but Christy had not a doubt that he was the man who had suddenly disappeared after the mysterious visitation of the night before. Doubtless, Corny had been the visitor at the mansion, and had procured the contents of the official envelope on this occasion. This matter was fully discussed during the next two months; and at the end of that time the young lieutenant was again in condition for duty. Both Mr. Camden and Mr. Pennant obtained the appointment of ensign on the strength of his reports. Christy was as earnest as ever in his desire to Stand by the union; he was ordered to the Bellevite as second lieutenant, and, after three months' absence, went to the Gulf again, where we shall find him once more, both on sea and shore, Fighting for the Right. "As I said before, I have no doubt you are a Passford; and I have been compelled to decide that you are not the son of Captain Horatio Passford, the distinguished gentleman who has done so much for his country in the present war." "I thought you were somewhat changed in your looks when I saw you come on board of the Bronx, and then I felt that the greeting you gave me was rather stiff for an old comrade who had 137 passed some time with you in a Confederate prison," added Mr. Flint. ufa168 เขาสระบบ "Shall we find no one at the negro quarters?" asked the lieutenant with interest. He had seen the commission which Corny presented to the captain of the Vernon, and recognized it as his own. In spite of the statements his cousin had made, Christy saw that the handwriting of the report he submitted as a copy of the genuine document was in Corny's usual handwriting. 99 Where had he obtained the commission, and where the original report? These were not hard questions, now that the preliminaries of the plot had been fully developed. "I had the same thing once before, and I was 333 sure I should die with it this time," said the sick soldier, "It lasted me all night and part of the next day the other time." "That is all for the present, Mike," added Christy. "You know that I am. Wasn't the commission decided to be mine?" 1688 slot "He remembers me," said Mike turning to the lieutenant. "We have struck the right man. But he don't mean that I am any wickeder than the rest of the world. I used to be called here by my last name, and Job invented the pun he has just used." 223 "You did your duty, and it was quite right for you to bring him on board. He is as devoted to the Confederate cause as my father is to the union. But go below, and have your wound dressed, Mr. Pennant." "A considerable number of officers and seamen must have come with you in the Vixen and the other vessels," said the captain, raising his finger to indicate that the question was addressed to Christy.
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1688 slot "Well, Mr. Flint, we have been more successful than I feared we might be," said Christy, after the prisoners except Corny had been put in irons, though they consisted of only five officers and seamen. "Nothing at all; you can turn in as soon as you like and sleep through the whole, for there will be nothing at all to disturb you. As I said, 161 Flint is the only person on board who is likely to make the least trouble, and he will be asleep in his berth. If he asks hard questions when he comes on deck at eight bells for the mid-watch, our men will secure him. That is the whole of it. I must go on deck now, for I can smell the fog." "No matter; we have the Bronx again, and she is not yet to become a Confederate cruiser. But Corny had the sealed orders of the flag-officer, and I heard Mr. Galvinne read them. The Bronx is ordered to St. Andrew's to attend to the case of a steamer loading there to run the blockade. Shall I obey the orders, or return to the flag-ship?" "Good heavens!" exclaimed the first lieutenant, as he came out from his shelter. "You are wounded again!" "Don't blame him, Captain Passford, for it was not his fault that he did not announce my presence to you. He wished to do so, but I assured him I was not disposed to disturb you, for you must be occupied with your own affairs, and I persuaded him not to go for you," added the person with perfect self-possession. "How old a man does he appear to be?" "That is my name," added Christy, smiling at the earnestness of the skipper. "When did you last hear from Corny, uncle Homer?" "With the evidence before you, I do not see how you could have decided otherwise." naza55 "I reckon dar's one dar if he done habn't leabe yisterday." 366 He was too feeble from the effects of his wounds, for that in the thigh had proved to be more severe than the surgeons had indicated, to tell the exciting story of the escapade of Corny Passford; but when he did relate it, three weeks later, it thrilled the listeners for three whole evenings. "Yes, sar; what's dat, massa?" 1688 slot In less than another half hour, Christy heard a knock on the cabin door, which was the signal from the second lieutenant that it was time to begin operations. He crawled to the front of the space beneath the berth at the sound, and at the same moment Dave came in at the door of the stateroom, which had been left open. "I am entirely satisfied, Mr. Galvinne; and here is my hand," added Corny, who doubtless felt that he had fully vindicated himself. "You are playing a farce now, cousin; but I cannot stay to fool with you. Take him out of the berth, Dave." "I did not speak to another man; I spoke to you," added Christy, as he intensified the gaze with which he confronted the man, resorting to the tactics of a sharp lawyer in the cross-examination of an obdurate witness. jinda44 "I shall not," replied Corny, with quite as much firmness. "He bears your name," said Mr. Pennant. This was done under the direction of Mr. Camden. A fresh breeze had sprung up from the north-west, and the Bronx came up to the cable still headed in the direction of her former course. The carpenter reported that the shot had passed out at the side between decks, and that he had plugged the hole. The third lieutenant was busy rigging new wheel ropes, which he said would be 353 ready in half an hour. Mr. Flint, at the order of the captain, had manned the broadside guns, and loaded them with shrapnel, for the most perilous part of the enterprise was yet to come. "I won't do so any more, Captain Passford," protested the steward, showing his ivory, though he was not a very black man, and the contrast was not as great as in many instances. "I don't see how the commodore could go behind the commission which Corny carries in his pocket, with the orders of the department, any more than Captain Battleton could. I have thought of this, and I am afraid to trust myself to the chance," replied Christy very decidedly. "Besides, I desire to take the conspirators in the very act of running away with the Bronx; then I can make out a good case." Though the young officer was prudent and discreet, he did not lose his self-possession, and he smiled as though he had been simply the host in the dining-room of the mansion at Bonnydale. There was a certain humor about the intruder which would have pleased him under other circumstances. "That is Uncle Job, Captain Passford," replied the lieutenant. "He has been of very great service to me, and he enables me to make a very full report to you, sir. This is the captain of the gunboat, Uncle Job," he added to the negro. "So am I, captain," added the lieutenant, laughing outright at the perplexity in which both of them were involved. "I have told you the simple truth in regard to my movements."
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1688 slot "I have been wanting to see you, Christy," said the planter, as he approached his nephew. "I learn, with no little astonishment, that you are the commander of this steamer." In less than half an hour the two vessels were under way, and just at dark they were within hail of the flag-ship. He finished the narrative, and the officers were discussing it when there was a knock at the door. "Here are my papers, captain," added Corny, as he passed his envelope across the table to the commander. "Now a piece of flannel," added the doctor. Christy heard the footsteps of the late second lieutenant of the Vernon as he left the cabin. He had listened to the details of the plan formed by the naval officer, and it agreed with the prediction of Mr. Flint. While he was thinking of what he had just learned, he heard the step of Corny—for it could not be that of any other person so soon—coming into the stateroom; then he saw his feet from behind his barricade of bags and baggage. "You have him on board, and perhaps he had better answer the question himself," replied Colonel Passford with a smile. The sea was smooth, and the commander of the Bronx was directed to bring her alongside the flag-ship. As soon as this was done, all the prisoners on board of her were transferred to the custody of the commodore. Christy introduced his uncle Homer to the flag-officer, suggesting that he was a non-combatant, and stating that he had offered to put him on shore at St. Andrew's Island. jinda44 "The United States steamer Bronx, under sealed orders. What steamer is that?" "Make the course south-west, Mr. Flint," said the commander, as soon as the vessel was ready, and her screw was in motion. Not a few of them who had served with Christy in the Gulf declared they had not believed that the person who was the nominal captain was their old first lieutenant; they knew that something 168 was wrong, they said, though they could not tell what. Perhaps they found the captain less active than formerly, and considered him somewhat changed after his visit to the north; but doubtless they were as much blinded by the resemblance as others had been. "If you wish to get back into the Bellevite, of course you can do so, for it is not every fellow 296 that wears shoulder-straps who has such a backing as you have. You have only to speak, and anything reasonable is yours. But how are all at home, Christy?" Christy planked the deck with Mr. Flint just 349 abaft the foremast. Both of them were as cool and self-possessed as though they had been sitting at the cabin-table; but neither of them felt that the battle had been won, for the officer in command of the fort was evidently a man of ability, who had not yet exhausted his resources. The first lieutenant had watched the works very closely with his glass, and he had informed the captain that something was in progress there, though he could not tell what it was. "Are you a free man?" The appearance of Walsh, fully dressed in the garb of a seaman, was so great a surprise to Christy Passford, that he hardly noticed any other person on the deck of the Vernon. He had given no particular attention to the man when he saw him at his father's house, though he regarded him as a very good-looking and intelligent person for one in the situation in which he found him. The absconding man-servant had certainly made good use of his time since he left Bonnydale, for he appeared to have become a full-fledged sailor in the space of ten hours. At first, he was disposed to be amused at the answers the quartermaster had given him, for it was evident to him then that he had been mistaken for another person. It looked as though some officer had come on board, and reported under his name, for he had not yet learned anything in regard to the gentleman who had appeared to be quite sick when he reported himself. It had the elements of another mystery in it. But the petty officer could easily have made an honest mistake; and this was the solution he accepted, without bothering his bewildered brain any further about it. "You must draw your own inferences, Captain Flanger." "No, sir; that is not my name, and I supposed that you spoke to some other man," pleaded the late man-servant of the mansion at Bonnydale. proset9 "I think you told me that you had had some experience on board of steamers, Pennant," replied Christy. "The Magnolia, bound to Appalachicola," replied 209 the spokesman of the craft. "What boat is that?" "Why not, my son?" "Not just then, captain," chuckled Mike, who seemed to be amused and delighted to feel that he was telling the secrets of his late companions. Dave looked as solemn as an owl, and his ivories seemed to be sealed up in his expansive mouth. He attempted to make a sign to the captain, but it was not understood. At that moment, the stranger raised his finger and beckoned to the steward. 1688 slot "You were very considerate," answered Christy, looking at the steward, who had stationed himself behind the unwelcome guest.
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ts911vip "Don't blame him, Captain Passford, for it was not his fault that he did not announce my presence to you. He wished to do so, but I assured him I was not disposed to disturb you, for you must be occupied with your own affairs, and I persuaded him not to go for you," added the person with perfect self-possession. "I cannot say as much as that," replied Christy, still holding the gentleman's hand; "I must say I am sorry to see you under present circumstances, for you come as a prisoner in the hands of my men." "I had the same thing once before, and I was 333 sure I should die with it this time," said the sick soldier, "It lasted me all night and part of the next day the other time." 281 Dave was not satisfied with what he had done, and as his foe went over in the chair, he sprang upon him, and tried to wrest the pistol from his hand, and a struggle on the floor was begun, the result of which could not be foreseen. Christy took in the situation at a glance, and while the steward and his victim were rolling and writhing on the floor, he darted into his stateroom, the door of which had been open all the time, and took his heavy revolvers from the drawer where he kept them, charged for immediate use.
252auto "Thank you, sir; I will take some of it, if you please," replied Christy, as he passed his plate across the table. "Of course, as you have done me the honor to take a seat at my table, I must be acquainted with you." "Gollywompus! My old master will get me back then!" groaned Dave, who had been very happy in his new service and at Bonnydale where he had spent considerable of his time while Christy was waiting for the fitting out of the Bronx. "I think I had better get on board of the flag-ship right off." "If I remember rightly it is eighty-three sea miles from the entrance to Pensacola Bay. But 151 you do not run away with the idea that it is necessary for you, as the present commander of the Bronx, to visit this place?" asked the naval officer. "She is, sir; she has not been in action since her crew was reinforced," answered Christy. "Exactly north-east, sir," replied Mr. Pennant.
ufaapollo "An excellent rule. Is he aware of the fact that there is another Richmond in the field?" "If he does that, so much the better, for we shall have more time to prepare for a decided stroke," replied Christy. "I have my plan all ready, though of course it may fail, and to-night we may all be prisoners of war." "I think you told me that you had had some experience on board of steamers, Pennant," replied Christy.
naka77 "I ought to be, for I am a whiter man than Captain Flanger." "But it appears that you promptly accepted your commander in the person of my cousin," said Christy, laughing in spite of the gravity of the situation. "Mr. Sampson directs me to report that he is ready to proceed," said a messenger from the chief engineer. "One thing more, Captain Passford," continued the flag-officer; "the ship's steward of the Mercidita has been very sick for three weeks, and has applied for a sick-leave. I shall be obliged to transfer Mr. Nawood of the Bronx to his place." 67 "Then you were both brought up in the North," suggested the captain.