same thing. By that time, the Swash was five-and-twenty
miles to the eastward, and consequently but just discernible
in her loftiest sails, from the ship’s royal
yards. Still, the latter continued the chase;
and that evening both vessels were beating down along
the southern margin of the Florida Reef, against the
trades, but favoured by a three or four knot current,
the brig out of sight to windward. Our narrative
leads us to lose sight of both these vessels, for
a time, in order to return to the islets of the Gulf.
Eight-and-forty hours had made some changes in and
around the haven of the Dry Tortugas. The tent
still stood, and a small fire that was boiling its
pot and its kettle, at no great distance from it,
proved that the tent was still inhabited. The
schooner also rode at her anchors, very much as she
had been abandoned by Spike. The bag of doubloons,
however, had been found, and there it lay, tied but
totally unguarded, in the canvas verandah of Rose
Budd’s habitation. Jack Tier passed and
repassed it with apparent indifference, as he went
to and fro, between his pantry and kitchen, busy as
a bee in preparing his noontide meal for the day.
This man seemed to have the islet all to himself, however,
no one else being visible on any part of it.
He sang his song, in a cracked, contre alto voice,
and appeared to be happy in his solitude. Occasionally
he talked to himself aloud, most probably because
he had no one else to speak to. We shall record
one of his recitatives, which came in between the
strains of a very inharmonious air, the words of which
treated of the seas, while the steward’s assistant
was stirring an exceedingly savoury mess that he had
concocted of the ingredients to be found in the united
larders of the Swash and the Mexican schooner.
“Stephen Spike is a capital willian!”
exclaimed Jack, smelling at a ladle filled with his
soup—“a capital willian, I call him.
To think, at his time of life, of such a handsome
and pleasant young thing as this Rose Budd; and then
to try to get her by underhand means, and by making
a fool of her silly old aunt. It ’s wonderful
what fools some old aunts be! Quite wonderful!
If I was as great a simpleton as this Mrs. Budd, I’d
never cross my threshhold. Yes, Stephen Spike
is a prodigious willian, as his best friend must own!
Well, I gave him a thump on the head that he’ll
not forget this v’y’ge. To think
of carryin’ off that pretty Rose Budd in his
very arms, in so indecent a manner! Yet, the
man has his good p’ints, if a body could only
forget his bad ones. He’s a first-rate seaman.
How he worked the brig till he doubled the reef, a’ter
she got into open water; and how he made her walk
off afore the wind, with stun’sails alow and
aloft, as soon as ever he could make ’em draw!
My life for it, he ’ll tire the legs of Uncle
Sam’s man, afore he can fetch up with him.
For running away, when hard chased, Stephen Spike has
n’t his equal on ’arth. But, he’s
a great willian—a prodigious willian!