The Stars and Stripes lay in the roads with the Union flag at her gaff. She was a long, black, and, at the water-line, well-shaped vessel, with a crew of thirty-two men; and Salve was so taken with her appearance that as they came alongside he silently congratulated himself on his luck in getting a berth in her. They were so obliging, moreover, as to give him a berth to himself in a separate cabin below. But, to his intense indignation, no sooner had he entered it than the door was latched on the outside, and when he tried to kick it open, it was signified to him that during the short time they had still to be at Rio, he was to remain in confinement, that they might be sure of him. The heat was intolerable down there; and to add to that, there was incessant crying and groaning going on in the hold beside him, as if it were full of sick people. It was the vilest treatment he had ever been subjected to.
The work of taking in the cargo went on uninterruptedly the whole night, as if they were in a particular hurry to get out of the harbour, and about noon the anchor was weighed while the contents of the last lighter were being taken on board.
When Salve, some hours after, was set at liberty, they were already out in the open sea off the mouth of the channel. The captain, the three mates, and several of the inferiors in command, when on deck, wore gold-laced caps and a kind of uniform, as on a man-of-war, and the officer of the watch was armed. The crew, on the other hand, were almost to a man shabby, and they seemed to consist of men of every nationality—English, Irish, Germans, and Americans, not to mention half a dozen negroes and mulattoes. As no one took any notice of him, he went about as he pleased for a while; and presently saw, with a disagreeable sensation, no less than three corpses carelessly sewed up in sail-cloth dropped over the side of the ship that was turned from the land, without the slightest ceremony. The uncomfortable feeling which this incident had aroused was anything but allayed when he heard presently from a little pale cabin-boy with whom he had entered into conversation that it had been successfully concealed from the harbour authorities that there was yellow fever on board; that there were many more lying sick below; and that one of those who had just been heaved overboard, had died the day before in the very berth in which Salve had slept that night.
In the evening he was called aft to the captain, who was standing with the boatswain at his elbow. He was a spare, energetic-looking man, of about forty years of age, with thick black whiskers, marked features, and rather hollow cheeks, and with carefully dressed, glossy hair. He was smoking a handsome pipe with a long stem inlaid with mother-of-pearl, and took a sip from time to time from a cup of black coffee that was standing on the skylight.
“What is your name?” he asked, nodding in reply to Salve’s salute.