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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 465 pages of information about The Water-Witch or, the Skimmer of the Seas.

Chapter IV.

    “—­Be patient, for the prize I’ll bring thee to,
    Shall hoodwink this mischance—.”

    Tempest.

The air, audacity, and language of the unknown mariner, had produced a marked sensation among the passengers of the periagua.  It was plain, by the playfulness that lurked about the coal-black eye of la belle Barberie, that she had been amused by his sarcasms, though the boldness of his manner had caused her to maintain the reserve which she believed necessary to her sex and condition.  The Patroon studied the countenance of his mistress, and, though half offended by the freedom of the intruder, he had believed it wisest to tolerate his liberties, as the natural excesses of a spirit that had been lately released from the monotony of a sea-life.  The repose which usually reigned in the countenance of the Alderman had been a little troubled; but he succeeded in concealing his discontent from any impertinent observation.  When the chief actor in the foregoing scene, therefore, saw fit to withdraw, the usual tranquillity was restored, and his presence appeared to be forgotten.

An ebbing tide and a freshening breeze quickly carried the periagua past the smaller islands of the bay and brought the cruiser called the Coquette more distinctly into view.  This vessel, a ship of twenty guns, lay abreast of the hamlet on the shores of Staten Island, which was the destination of the ferry-boat.  Here was the usual anchorage of outward-bound ships, which awaited a change of wind; and it was here, that vessels then, as in our times, were subject to those examinations and delays which are imposed for the safety of the inhabitants of the city.  The Coquette was alone, however; for the arrival of a trader, from a distant port, was an event of unfrequent occurrence, at the commencement of the eighteenth century.

The course of the periagua brought her within fifty feet of the sloop-of-war.  As the former approached, a movement of curiosity and interest occurred among those she contained.

“Take more room for your milk-maid,” grumbled the Alderman, observing that the schipper was willing to gratify his passengers, by running as near as possible to the dark sides of the cruiser.  “Seas and oceans! is not York-bay wide enough, that you must brush the dust out of the muzzles of the guns of yon lazy ship?  If the Queen knew how her money was eaten and drunk, by the idle knaves aboard her, she would send them all to hunt for freebooters among the islands.  Look at the land, Alida, child, and you’ll think no more of the fright the gaping dunce is giving thee; he only wishes to show his skill in steering.”

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