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[277] Norfolk. This was safely done after a stormy passage, and anchoring off the navy hospital the sick were sent on shore. It may be asked, what this little episode has to do with the Stonewall? Nothing, save that this midshipman, after the lapse of years, became the commander of the craft whose short life and shortcomings are here treated of.

Taking an unceremonious leave of her friends lying quietly in the Tagus, for they seemed to think her unworthy their steel, the Stonewall stood out to sea, touched at Tanariffe, the most eligible point from which to cross the Atlantic, and filling up with coals, shaped her course so as to reach the latitude of the “trade winds” in the shortest possible time, where her sails would come into requisition. It was advisable to avail of those winds in order to economize coals, as she could not carry enough to steam the whole way across. It was also important to have enough on board for the emergency of “falling in” with any of those cruisers that it was supposed were keeping a sharp lookout for her. But the lookout could not have been very much on the alert, inasmuch as no man-of-war was seen throughout the entire passage to Havana, although the conclusion was inevitable that she must call either at Bermuda or Nassau to replenish her bunkers. That her departure from Lisbon was speedily made known in the United States cannot admit of a doubt. Her arrival at Ferrol had been made the subject of diplomatic correspondence with the Government at Madrid, and before her departure from Lisbon she was honored with a visit from a gentleman attached to the American Legation at Madrid, who availed himself of the privilege granted all persons wishing to visit the vessel, but omitted the observance of the usual courtesies on such occasions and presented his card at the “gang-way” from his boat, only when in the act of going on shore in company with many other visitors. He doubtless satisfied his curiosity, saw all that he cared to see, perhaps a little more, for there was nothing to conceal on board of the Stonewall, and boasted on shore of the gallantry of his conduct; though it was closely akin to that of a spy — a character recognized by the laws of war as entitled, if caught, to hanging; but the dignity of his position should have deterred him from the commission of an act of vulgarity. There was a low bravado in boasting of the accomplishment of a design in which there could be no detection, unbecoming the office he held and the gentleman he assumed to be. His acquaintance would, doubtless, have been politely acknowledged by the commanding officer, and quarters suited to his rank assigned him.

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