which I might hang a doubt large enough to enable me to burn them.
But, thus far, all the transfers had been bonafide
. In the present instance, the papers were evidently genuine, and there was a Scotch master and English crew on board.
At about nine P. M., on the same evening, the Schmidt
being in flames, and the Alabama
in the act of making sail from her, a large, taunt ship, with exceedingly square yards, passed us at rapid speed, under a cloud of canvas, from rail to truck, and from her course seemed to be bound either to Europe
or the United States
She had paid no attention to the burning ship, but flew past it as though she were anxious to get out of harm's way as soon as possible.
I conceived thence the idea, that she must be one of the enemy's large clipper-ships, from ‘round the Horn,’ and immediately gave chase, adding, in my eagerness to seize so valuable a prize, steam to sail.
It was blowing half a gale of wind, but the phantom ship, for such she looked by moonlight, was carrying her royals and top-gallant studding-sails.
This confirmed my suspicion, for surely, I thought, no ship would risk carrying away her spars, under such a press of sail, unless she were endeavoring to escape from an enemy.
By the time we were well under way in pursuit, the stranger was about three miles ahead of us. I fired a gun to command him to halt.
In a moment or two, to my astonishment, the sound of a gun from the stranger came booming back over the waters in response.
I now felt quite sure that I had gotten hold of a New York and California
She had fired a gun to make me believe, probably, that she was a ship of war, and thus induce me to desist from the pur suit.
But a ship of war would not carry such a press of sail, or appear to be in such a hurry to get out of the way—unless, indeed, she were an enemy's ship of inferior force; and the size of the fugitive, in the present instance, forbade such a supposition.
So I sent orders below to the engineer, to stir up his fires, and put the Alabama
at the top of her speed.
My crew had all become so much excited by the chase, some of the sailors thinking we had scared up the Flying Dutchman
, who was known to cruise in these seas, and others expecting a fight, that the watch had forgotten to go below to their hammocks.
About midnight we overhauled the stranger near enough to