Such was the famous passage of the ‘Skimmer of the Seas’ through the multiplied and hidden dangers of the eastern channel. To those who have thus accompanied him, step by step, though its intricacies and alarms, there may seem nothing extraordinary in the event; but, coupled as it was with the character previously earned by that bold mariner, and occurring, as it did, in an age when men were more disposed than at present to put faith in the marvellous, the reader will not be surprised to learn that it greatly increased his reputation for daring, and had no small influence on an opinion, which was by no means uncommon, that the dealers in contraband were singularly favored by a power which greatly exceeded that of Queen Anne and all her servants.
“—Thou shalt see me at Philippi.”
The commander of Her Britannic Majesty’s ship Coquette slept that night in the hammock-cloths. Before the sun had set, the light and swift brigantine, by following the gradual bend of the land, had disappeared in the eastern board; and it was no longer a question of overtaking her by speed. Still, sail was crowded on the royal cruiser; and, long ere the period when Ludlow threw himself in his clothes between the ridge-ropes of the quarter-deck, the vessel had gained the broadest part of the Sound, and was already approaching the islands that form the ‘Race.’
Throughout the whole of that long and anxious day, the young sailor had held no communication with the inmates of the cabin. The servants of the ship had passed to and fro; but, though the door seldom opened that he did not bend his eyes feverishly in its direction, neither the Alderman, his niece, the captive, nor even Francois or the negress, made their appearance on the deck. If any there felt an interest in the result of the chase, it was concealed in a profound and almost mysterious silence. Determined not to be outdone in indifference, and goaded by feelings which with all his pride he could not overcome, our young seaman took possession of the place of rest we have mentioned, without using any measures to resume the intercourse.