’Twas a surprising feat, to slip out of grasp in this way, and past two broadsides, any gun of which could have sent him to the bottom; and Cap’n Dick wasn’t one to miss boasting over it. Even during the chase he couldn’t help carrying on in his usual loud and cheeky way, waving good-bye to the Mossoos, offering them a tow-rope, and the like; but now the deck wasn’t big enough to hold his swagger, and in their joy of escaping a French prison, the men encouraged him, so that to hear them talk you’d have thought he was Admiral Nelson and Sir Sidney Smith rolled into one.
By nine o’clock they made out the Eddystone on their starboard bow; and a little after—–the morning being bright and clear, with a nice steady breeze—they saw a sail right ahead of them, making in for Plymouth Sound. And who should it be but the old Bean Pheasant, deep as a log! Cap’n Dick cracked along after her, and a picture she was as he drew up close! Six of her guns had gone; her men were baling in two gangs, and still she was down a bit by the head, and her stern yawing like a terrier’s tail when his head’s in a rabbit-hole. And there at the tiller stood Cap’n Jacka, his bald head shining like a statue of fun, and his one eye twinkling with blessed satisfaction as he cocked it every now and then for a glance over his right shoulder.
“Hullo! What’s amiss?” sang out Cap’n Dick, as the Unity fetched within hail.
“Aw, nothin’, nothin’. ‘Tho’ troubles assail an’ dangers’—Stiddy there, you old angletwitch!—She’s a bit too fond o’ smelling the wind, that’s all.”
As a matter of fact she’d taken more water than Jacka cared to think about, now that the danger was over.
“But what brings ‘ee here? An’ what cheer wi’ you?” he asked.
This was Cap’n Dick’s chance. “I’ve had a run between two French frigates,” he boasted, “in broad day, an’ given the slip to both!”
“Dear, now!” said Cap’n Jacka. “So have I—in broad day, too. They must ha’ been the very same. What did ’ee take out of ’em?”