captain and officers had yet suspected danger, when Semmes surprised them by wheeling in pursuit, firing a blank cartridge, and hoisting the Confederate flag.
The panic that now ensued was dreadful; the screams of women filled the air, and men turned pale as they realized the proximity of one of the dreaded Confederate cruisers — which were designated in the North as pirates, and which were as much feared at that time as was the vessel of the famous Lafitte by the Spaniards and Frenchmen in 1806-8.
The merchant captain, astonished at the turn of affairs, gave the order to open wide the throttle of his engines and make all possible speed.
For the moment he had no intention of slacking up, but the Alabama was within three or four hundred yards of him, in hot pursuit, with a long gun ready to be fired if it should prove necessary to use force.
It was very plain from the beginning that the packet was going rapidly away from the Alabama, and that if Semmes wished to detain her he wou