the little craft in her deserted condition and to offer their services, which sailor men are prompt to render when duty calls; for “old salts” are proverbially kind, and will often risk their lives in an adventure.
It turned out, however, that these visitors were not actuated solely by curiosity, for they consisted of officers and sailors prepared to cast their lot, to do their duty, under the Confederate
flag, come weal or woe.
The “spar-deck” of the vessel presented, on that bright, sunny morn, a busy scene.
The Confederate flag was “run up” at the peak, and the pennant at the main-mast head, when the commander, surrounded by the little band of officers and men, with caps in hand, pointed to the pure emblem at her peak, the token of the nationality of the vessel, and announced her “The Stonewall” --ever to be remembered name, given at the baptismal font of the Bay of Biscay
Certain preliminaries, the “shipping” of men, assignment to specific duties, &c., having been gone through with, the deck was soon cleared of the various articles, so generously presented and as gratefully received from the steamer in company, which, having been stowed in their appropriate places, all was made snug for the cruise.
The anchor was “hove up” under the inspiration of that joyous music, familiar to every sailor man, when the “boatswain” “calls all hands up — anchor for home” ; for that
is music, though it comes from nature's roughest cut, whose melody touches the soul and causes a responsive vibration of the tenderest chords of the heart.
The Bay of Biscay
, whose normal condition is that of a boisterous sea, lay like a mirror, reflecting the bright rays of the sun; while balmy air, fanned into the gentlest of breezes by the “headway” of the vessel, promised a happy entrance into the broad Atlantic
“Man proposes but God disposes.”
The night was not half spent ere the wind blew and the storm arose, and at the dawn of day the Stonewall
was contending against a gale and heavy sea, well calculated to test the sea-worthiness of the little craft, and try the faith of the stoutest heart in her capacity to weather the storm.
“Battened down,” she was “water-tight,” and, although she was no “Mother Cary
's chicken” to gracefully dance on the crest of waves, would, in her lazy way, receive them over her bows, in cataract form, and give them free exit through the quarter ports to their mother ocean.
Romantic as this may seem, though not comparable to the grandeur of the Falls of Niagara
, it was neither exhilirating nor agreeable; for, apart from these too frequent and overwhelming,