In the mean time, each officer had examined into, and reported, the state of his division; and then, by a sort of implied permission on the part of their superiors, the death-like calm, which had hitherto reigned among the people, was allowed to be broken by suppressed but earnest discourse; the calculating chief permitting this departure from the usual rules of more regular cruisers, in order to come at the temper of the crew, on which so much of the success of his desperate enterprises so frequently depended.
he made me mad,
To see him shine so brisk, and smell so sweet,
And talk so like a waiting gentlewoman.”——
King Henry IV
The moment was now one of high and earnest excitement. Each individual, who was charged with a portion of the subordinate authority of the ship, had examined into the state of his command, with that engrossing care which always deepens as responsibility draws nigher to the proofs of its being worthily bestowed. The voice of the harsh master had ceased to inquire into the state of those several ropes and chains that were deemed vital to the safety of the vessel; each chief of a battery had assured and re-assured himself that his artillery was ready for instant, and the most effective, service; extra ammunition had already issued from its dark and secret repository; and even the hum of dialogue had ceased, in the more engrossing and all-absorbing interest of the scene. Still the quick and ever-changing glance of the Rover could detect no reason to distrust the firmness of his people. They were grave, as are ever the bravest and steadiest in the hour of trial; but their gravity was mingled with no signs of concern. It seemed rather like the effect of desperate and concentrated resolution, such as braces the human mind to efforts which exceed the ordinary daring of martial enterprise. To this cheering exhibition of the humour of his crew the wary and sagacious leader saw but three exceptions; they were found in the persons of his lieutenant and his two remarkable associates.