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on the preceding night, eloped from her father's mansion, and not a trace of the beautiful fugitive could be discovered. The day passed, and no tidings were heard of the lost one : and the most extensive inquiries produced but little information. It was ascertained that a fishing-canoe had observed a felucca cross the bar, and, at an unusual time of tide, stand out to sea--and a stranger, whose brilliant appearance occasioned a sensation in the city, had suddenly departed from the hotel where he lodged, accompanied by his black domestic. Months succeeded days—Camilla was never heard of ; and many and marvellous were the surmises as to the means and manner, by which the lovely daughter of Don Manuel de Cordova had been so mysteriously spirited away.
Three years slipped away. Don Manuel de Cordova was gathered to his fathers; and after the briefest period of mourning, which a decent respect to the memory of one who had bequeathed her his whole fortune, would allow, the young relict had bestowed her widowed hand on a wild and dissipated grandee. Of the lost Camilla no tidings were ever heard, and her strange disappearance remained as much a mystery as it was on the morning after it occurred.
Another event had caused immense joy along the coast. A celebrated rover, which for years had infested the neighbouring seas, had been driven on shore and destroyed by an English cruiser. Indeed it was full time that the Flambeau's predatory career should be terminated. While she had continued under the command of a person who called himself Ramirez, her spoliations were restricted to what is considered allowable to vessels occupied in free trading, and no acts of violence had ever been permitted. But for some unknown cause that captain had mysteriously disappeared, and under his successor, the rover became a regular pirate ; and, from the extent of her depredations, her destruction became indispensable. In effecting this, most of her lawless crew had fallen, and the remainder were driven into the woods, where, as it was hoped and expected, they would be speedily arrested and brought to that justice which so long they had managed to evade.
In one of those sweet glades which are found occasionally in the pathless forests of the south, and show, amid the interminable extent of dank weeds and underwood by which they are environed, like an oasis in the desert, the summer residence of a wealthy planter had been erected. The front verandah of the building opened on a piece of open land, which stretched its green and velvet-looking surface gently downwards, until it rested on the bank of one of those deep inlets which debouch into the mighty rivers that intersect the southern portion of America ; while the rear of this romantic retreat was overhung by woods composed of the noblest trees the earth produces, and in every variety of tint and foliage. The house itself was of slight construction, and designed only for temporary habitation ; for, like other pro
; prietors of opulence, the owner possessed å splendid mansion in a seaport some fifty leagues lower down the river; a place better suited,
both from comfort and society, to form a permanent residence; and his visits to this distant estate were merely for the purpose of superintending a numerous gang of negroes engaged in felling hard woods, and in enjoying the amusements of hunting and shooting, which boundless forests and prairies abundantly afforded. All in and about this rustic abode evidenced both wealth and taste, and presented every elegance and luxury that was adapted to a tropic climate.
It was a warm and lovely night; the musquito curtains were closed, and in a very elegant saloon the owner of this sporting-lodge and his family might have been discovered.
A sweeter scene of domestic repose could never have been selected by a painter than the group within exhibited. A man, stout, handsome, and in the flower of life, had his dark eyes fixed, with pride mingled with affection, upon a female younger than himself by at least a dozen years.
Nothing could be lovelier than the beautiful countenance he looked upon, as hanging over a sleeping child that rested in her lap, a mother's looks of love were bent upon her slumbering treasure. Behind the lady's chair, a tall finely-proportioned negro was standing with a silver salver, on which were fruits and wine ; while a beautiful Chilleno girl waited at her mistress' side, to receive her sleeping charge. Presently the infant was committed to its nurse's
The negro placed his refreshments on the table, and, with the fair Chilleno, immediately quitted the apartment, leaving the planter and his lovely wife to the society of each other.
The lady rose and looked out from the lattice on the lawn, and as she crossed the chamber the grace of her figure was displayed. It boasted no longer the airy elegance of girlish symmetry: the flower was in its bloom--the form exhibited womanly maturity; and it was apparent that her's was that endearing situation, which doubly claims a husband's tenderest care.
Evening had changed to midnight; not a breath of wind rustled the leaves, or rippled the glassy surface of the river. All were asleep but the guilty ; and yet, at that lone hour, a group of men were circled round a fire beside a sandy cove, on which a boat was drawn ashore. They were all armed ; and while some were preparing supper, others kept a vigilant look out. They had the air and appearance of wild and desperate men; and their conversation, maintained in that low tone which evinces suspicion, confirmed their lawless character.
" What an infernal accident,” said one of the rovers, “to run her smack upon a sunken rock, and lose the vessel after boasting that he knew every creek and cove from Chiloe to Cape Francisco."
“ He'll never lose another," observed a second scoundrel, coolly. “But Gaspard is over ready with his pistol. Before the schooner's copper had scraped the coral a second time, Diego was dead as à mackarel.
Poor devil the skipper allowed no time for explanations."
Ay, and the captain was right,” observed a truculent ruffian, whose features were scarcely visible from the matted covering of coalblack hair, which hid them from chin to forehead.“ I'm half sorry, too, that we lost the blundering fool-he didn't mean it after all. There's
but a handful of the old Flambeaus left, and.one now-a-days can't trust to strangers.”
“ What a lucky craft that old Flambeau was," said the first speaker : “ her equal for success, in Captain Ramirez' time, was never known. And then he kept all so nicely out of trouble ; and though men grumbled at him now and then, why, in the long-run, he proved a wise-one. He valued no flag but one ; and a yard of British bunting was a vessel's full security. If we met an English trader short of water, why he supplied it freely; were provisions wanted, he put us on short allowance, and divided to the last biscuit with the starving crew. Well, the first ship-French, Dutch, or Spaniard, Portuguese or Danewe met with afterwards, he made up the loss-ay, and helped himself to a double quantity, because he had succoured the distressed. Well, the foreigner probably complained to the first broad pennant, when he reached a harbour, when in dropped a disabled ship to tell that in her distress she had got all she wanted from the Flambeau. Had the gallant Ramirez remained, the finest schooner that ever crossed the line would be as she used to be, breasting the waters like a sea-gull. See what fell out : Gaspard couldn't stand temptation, but must fall foul of a rich Jamaica-man,—and in a month a clipper sloop is dispatched to regularly run us down; and sticks to us like a bloodhound, until, like our namesake, we were regularly extinguished. Ah ! poor Flambeau !”
“ It's all true. We never knew the old captain's loss, till after we had got a new one; and many's the time Gaspard has heard that told him, when he didn't like it. But where has he wandered to ? He's full an hour away.”
“He's not lost, however; for see, he comes along the cove."
Of all that lawless company, assembled round a midnight fire, the new comer looked the greatest ruffian.
“ How now," he said, assuming an air and tone of command, “is supper ready yet? There's no great cooking required, Master Sambo," said he, addressing a mulatto who appeared to be the cook ; “scanty fare at present, lads—fish, fish, fish! No matter; better luck again. Come, let's have it as it is. Step to the boat, Soto, and bring us that runlet of Hollands. Curses on that stupid scoundrel, who, with plenty of sea room and smooth water, lost a vessel so foolishly!”
“He paid for his mistake upon the spot: you're clear with him, captain,” growled amother ruffian.
“Ay, were he my brother, he should have fared no better. But, come, my lads, eat, drink, and bless the saints afterwards, for giving you the commander you have.”
“I wish,” said another rover, we could rather persuade them to mend our fare a little. Nothing but river fish—one worse than another, and the best not fit for a nigger's banyan day. I fancy we'll fare still worse; the vessel gone, and not a chance of getting another ! What the devil could have brought us here? Toiling at the oars for a hundred miles up a river, where nothing could be met with but timber rafting down the stream. Pish ! a pretty way to lose a schooner. I say, what drove us here?” « Silence !” said the captain ;
6 and I'll tell you."
“I wish you would,” returned the other, in a mutinous tone.
Revenge!” was the stern reply; “revenge and plunder !”
Revenge sounds well enough,” returned the former speaker, “and plunder better still. But on whom have we any cause of vengeance, fifty leagues from ocean? Who are we to find here, among mango trees and cockatoos? And as to plunder, there's nothing to be picked up but drift wood; and there's a chance-a raft floating down the river, and only a brace of niggers guarding it!" and the fellow laughed in derision.
“Peace,” roared the captain, sternly. “Pass the runlet; and at its third round, I'll tell you why we came.”
“Is Dutch courage required to-night, captain, that we must be drunk, or half-seas over, before you tell us what brought us here ?''
“By Heaven ! Juan, you will drive me further than I wish,” and the captain laid his hand upon a pistol.
“Hold ! hold !” exclaimed half-a-dozen voices; no more of that to-night. No use in mincing matters; the schooner's sunk, and what are we to do?-keep here, and rob fishing canoes, as we did to-night, to furnish out a rascally existence? or seek the bush at once, and band ourselves with nigger runaways ? Captain, it won't do."
“ Hear me, men,” exclaimed the captain, passionately. 6. 'Tis true the vessel's gone: well, that's no fault of mine ; but for the planrevenge and plunder. Don't they sound well together ?” Ay;
let's hear it,” said a rover. 6 You all remember Ramirez?” “Ay, ay," was generally responded. “ You thought him
An outbreak from the band prevented the captain from finishing the sentence.
“ Ramirez," said the man whose face was ensconced in hair, “. the best commander that I—and I'm twelve years in the free tradeever sailed under; ay, or ever will.”
“In action, cool as a cucumber,” rejoined a second.
“ And,” added a third,“ in real danger, fierce as a wild cat; and with all his wits about him, too."
Night nor day, I never saw him disguised in liquor,” observed another, who was so particularly drunk, that he could barely articulate.
“ You might trust him with uncounted gold—”
“And to his ship’s company,” added a sixth, winding up the eulogium, “ he was true as needle to the north.”
“Well, comrades,” said the captain, moodily, “I'll allow that Ramirez was a good commander, an able seaman, stout leader, capital hand at a pinch, slept always with his starboard eye open; but he was—" and he paused.
_” 61 What ?” cried a dozen voices. “ The falsest villain that ever betrayed a gallant crew !” “No, no, no,” was repeated by a dozen voices.
“ I'll give you proof positive. He disappeared; but none of you could tell, or even guess, the wealth he carried with him. None suspected him ; for all of you thought him a nonesuch. Well, what
was he all along? why, nothing more nor less than a hired spy. He gave the cruisers secret information of all that passed in every port we entered as free traders; and, in return, they never looked after him. Well, he got blown on the coast at last; and, when he could no longer carry on the game, he left the Flambeau to her fate. And how long after he had deserted ship and comrades was it before the British bull-dogs were let loose upon the sweetest schooner that ever swam the sea ?”
“ Ay, ay, captain," observed a rover, " that's all well enough; but recollect, that in the time of Captain Ramirez, men never walked the plank; nor did he, like a common ass, make free with English bunting, and put his hand upon the lion's mane. If a doubtful sail appeared in the gulph, why an English merchantman would run under the Flambeau's stern for protection ; and, there's no use talking, Captain Ramirez stood so high with every skipper in these seas, that, d-n me, were he sentenced to be hanged, I think they'd hardly get men enough in a whole ship's company, to man the fall that sent him to the fore-yard. No, no; he never intentionally left the schooner. Poor dear soul !-he was murdered, and that's my opinion.”
A dozen voices answered in a willing affirmative.
lives! Why stare ye thus, like fools ?-Ay, lives in luxury and splendour; the richest planter in the province; the highest among the high ; and all bought by what?-falsehood, and deep, deep treachery!"
“ Impossible !” exclaimed the rovers.
“ True, by the light of heaven!” returned the pirate chief. lives; ay, and is sleeping at his ease—wealth around him, and beauty in his arms
- not half a league from the very spot I stand on.” “ Captain Ramirez alive, and wealthy, and within cannon-shot ?”
“If Captain Ramirez be not, there's one that will answer just as well, although he has dropped a former title, and taken the plainer one of Hartley.”
« Come, captain, no riddles, if you please ; we're plain seamen, and can only understand a plain story. If Ramirez is alive, and as you have described him, why, all you said against him must be true. Men neither come back from the grave, nor do they pick up doubloons in the woods, like hiccory nuts. If your tale be true, Ramirez is a traitor and a rogue; and, were there no other hand to do the job, I'd row a hundred leagues for the mere pleasure of cutting the throat of a scoundrel that sold us all.”
“ Juan, the right pluck is in thee still,” returned Gaspard, with a smile of demoniac satisfaction. What
say ye all, lads ? “Why, that he who wouldn't do as honest Juan says, has no manhood in him,” responded a rover.
“Come, pass the good liquor round, and then for booty and revenge!"
From hand to hand the runlet passed, until the contents were drained to the very bottom. Maddened by ardent spirits, burning under the belief of having been betrayed, and excited by the hope of plunder, the ferocious band prepared for violence and bloodshed. Their arms were examined; the simple plan of attack explained by the