“Steady, sir,” repeated the quartermaster in charge of the helm.
“Stand by to set the spanker,” added the first lieutenant. “Man the outhaul! Cast off the brails, and loose the vangs!”
The after-guard, which is the portion of the ship’s company stationed on the quarter-deck, or abaft the mizzenmast, obeyed this order, and stood ready to set the spanker, which is the aftermost sail.
“Walk away with the outhaul!” and the after-guard ran off with the rope, which drew the sail out into its place on the gaff. “Stand by the spanker sheet—let it out!”
“You must attend to your main and mizzen topsails Mr. Pelham,” said the principal, in a low tone.
“Man the fore and main braces!” said the executive officer; and the young seamen sprang to their stations. “Let go and haul!”
The main and the mizzen topsails were thus trimmed, so that they took the wind.
“That was very well done, Captain Carnes, though your crew need more practice. They are very much excited,” said Mr. Lowington.
“I don’t wonder, sir; I think none of them knew we were going out of the harbor,” replied the captain.
“I am glad they enjoy it,” added the principal, “though I should not have left the anchorage, except as a substitute for the Fourth of July celebration.”
“They will like this much better than going to the city.”
“I have no doubt on that point; and last evening, when those students wished to run away, I was tempted to punish their disobedience by letting them go. The wind is pretty fresh, Captain Carnes, but I think you may set the top-gallant sails.”
The captain gave the order to the first lieutenant.
“Aloft, sail-loosers of the top-gallant sails!” shouted Mr. Pelham; and the eager young salts dashed up the rigging. “Lay out! Loose! Let fall! Man your sheets and halyards! Sheets home, and hoist away!”
The addition of the top-gallant sails was sensibly felt by the Young America; and, “taking a bone in her teeth,” she careened over, and dashed away merrily on her course.
The band played Hail, Columbia, and as the ship passed the fort, the crew mounted the rigging and gave three cheers. The excitement on board was immense, and never was Independence Day more thoroughly and enthusiastically enjoyed. The officers and crew were at the height of felicity, as the gallant little ship bowled over the waves, threading her way through the channels between the numerous islands of the bay.
“Can’t we put on any more sail, Mr. Lowington?” asked Captain Carnes, as he met the principal on the quarter-deck.
“Not at present. We are making very good progress now.”
“The boys want to see all sail on her.”
“The wind is blowing half a gale now,” added Mr. Lowington, with a smile. “I think we shall be able to give them quite enough of it when we get out into blue water. I’m afraid you will lose half your crew before noon!”