A word on the facts of our legend. The attentive observer of men and things has many occasions to note the manner in which ordinary lookers on deceive themselves, as well as others. The species of treason portrayed in these pages is no uncommon occurrence; and it will often be found that the traitor is the loudest in his protestations of patriotism. It is a pretty safe rule to suspect the man of hypocrisy who makes a parade of his religion, and the partisan of corruption and selfishness, who is clamorous about the rights of the people. Captain Spike was altogether above the first vice; though fairly on level, as respects the second, with divers patriots who live by their deity.
Why, that’s my spirit!
But was not this nigh shore?
Close by, my master.
But are they, Ariel, safe?
Not a hair perished:
“D’ye here there, Mr. Mulford?” called out Capt. Stephen Spike, of the half-rigged, brigantine Swash, or Molly Swash, as was her registered name, to his mate—“we shall be dropping out as soon as the tide makes, and I intend to get through the Gate, at least, on the next flood. Waiting for a wind in port is lubberly seamanship, for he that wants one should go outside and look for it.”
This call was uttered from a wharf of the renowned city of Manhattan, to one who was in the trunk-cabin of a clipper-looking craft, of the name mentioned, and on the deck of which not a soul was visible. Nor was the wharf, though one of those wooden piers that line the arm of the sea that is called the East River, such a spot as ordinarily presents itself to the mind of the reader, or listener, when an allusion is made to a wharf of that town which it is the fashion of the times to call the Commercial Emporium of America—as if there might very well be an emporium of any other character. The wharf in question had not a single vessel of any sort lying at, or indeed very near it, with the exception of the Molly Swash. As it actually stood on the eastern side of the town, it is scarcely necessary to say that such a wharf could only be found high up, and at a considerable distance from the usual haunts of commerce. The brig lay more than a mile above the Hook (Corlaer’s, of course, is meant—not Sandy Hook) and quite near to the old Alms House—far above the ship-yards, in fact. It was a solitary place for a vessel, in the midst of a crowd. The grum top-chain voice of Captain Spike had nothing there to mingle with, or interrupt its harsh tones, and it instantly brought on deck Harry Mulford, the mate in question, apparently eager to receive his orders.
“Did you hail, Captain Spike?” called out the mate, a tight, well-grown, straight-built, handsome sailor-lad of two or three-and-twenty—one full of health, strength and manliness.