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- Jack Tier or The Florida Reef - 1/93 -
Edited by Charles Aldarondo (email@example.com)
THE FLORIDA REEF.
BY THE AUTHOR OF "THE PILOT," "RED ROVER," "TWO ADMIRALS," "WING AND WING," "MILES WALLINGFORD," ETC.
This work has already appeared in Graham's Magazine, under the title of "Rose Budd." The change of name is solely the act of the author, and arises from a conviction that the appellation given in this publication is more appropriate than the one laid aside. The necessity of writing to a name, instead of getting it from the incidents of the book itself, has been the cause of this departure from the ordinary rules.
When this book was commenced, it was generally supposed that the Mexican war would end, after a few months of hostilities. Such was never the opinion of the writer. He has ever looked forward to a protracted struggle; and, now that Congress has begun to interfere, sees as little probability of its termination, as on the day it commenced. Whence honourable gentlemen have derived their notions of the constitution, when they advance the doctrine that Congress is an American Aulic council, empowered to encumber the movements of armies, and, as old Blucher expressed it in reference to the diplomacy of Europe, "to spoil with the pen the work achieved by the sword," it is difficult to say more than this, that they do not get them from the constitution itself. It has generally been supposed that the present executive was created in order to avoid the very evils of a distracted and divided council, which this new construction has a direct tendency to revive. But a presidential election has ever proved, and probably will ever prove, stronger than any written fundamental law.
We have had occasion to refer often to Mexico in these pages. It has been our aim to do so in a kind spirit; for, while we have never doubted that the factions which have possessed themselves of the government in that country have done us great wrong, wrong that would have justified a much earlier appeal to arms, we have always regarded the class of Mexicans who alone can properly be termed the `people,' as mild, amiable, and disposed to be on friendly terms with us. Providence, however, directs all to the completion of its own wise ends. If the crust which has so long encircled that nation, enclosing it in bigotry and ignorance, shall now be irretrievably broken, letting in light, even Mexico herself may have cause hereafter to rejoice in her present disasters. It was in this way that Italy has been, in a manner, regenerated; the conquests of the French carrying in their train the means and agencies which have, at length, aroused that glorious portion of the earth to some of its ancient spirit. Mexico, in certain senses, is the Italy of this continent; and war, however ruthless and much to be deplored, may yet confer on her the inestimable blessings of real liberty, and a religion released from "feux d'artifice," as well as all other artifices.
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.
"Hail! If you call straining a man's throat until he's hoarse, hailing, I believe I did. I flatter myself, there is not a man north of Hatteras that can make himself heard further in gale of wind than a certain gentleman who is to be found within a foot of the spot where I stand. Yet, sir, I've been hailing the Swash these five minutes, and thankful am I to find some one at last who is on board to answer me."
"What are your orders, Capt. Spike?"
"To see all clear for a start as soon as the flood makes. I shall go through the Gate on the next young flood, and I hope you'll have all the hands aboard in time. I see two or three of them up at that Dutch beer-house, this moment, and can tell'em; in plain language, if they come here with their beer aboard them, they'll have to go ashore again."
"You have an uncommonly sober crew, Capt. Spike," answered the young man, with great calmness. "During the whole time I have been with them, I have not seen a man among them the least in the wind."
"Well, I hope it will turn out that I've an uncommonly sober mate in the bargain. Drunkenness I abominate, Mr. Mulford, and I can tell you, short metre, that I will not stand it."
"May I inquire if you ever saw me, the least in the world, under the influence of liquor, Capt. Spike?" demanded the mate, rather than asked, with a very fixed meaning in his manner.
"I keep no log-book of trifles, Mr. Mulford, and cannot say. No man is the worse for bowsing out his jib when off duty, though a drunkard's a thing I despise. Well, well--remember, sir, that the Molly Swash casts off on the young flood, and that Rose Budd and the good lady, her aunt, take passage in her, this v'y'ge."
"Is it possible that you have persuaded them into that, at last!" exclaimed the handsome mate.
"Persuaded! It takes no great persuasion, sir, to get the ladies to try their luck in that brig. Lady Washington herself, if she was alive and disposed to a sea-v'y'ge, might be glad of the chance. We've a ladies' cabin, you know, and it's suitable that it should have some one to occupy it. Old Mrs. Budd is a sensible woman, and takes time by the forelock. Rose is ailin'--pulmonary they call it, I believe, and her aunt wishes to try the sea for her constitution--"
"Rose Budd has no more of a pulmonary constitution than I have myself," interrupted the mate.
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