out what she was doing; the bark's head had been put about, and the Alabama lay, off quite immovable, as if she were taking a sight of the “varmint.” The weather was beautifully calm and clear, and the sea was as smooth and transparent as a sheet of glass. The bark was making her way slowly from the steamer, with every bit of her canvas spread. The Alabama, with her steam off, appeared to be letting the bark get clear off. What could this mean? No one understood. It must be the Alabama. “There,” said the spectators, “is the Confederate flag at her peak; it must be a Federal bark, too, for there are the stars and stripes of the States flying at her main.” What could the Alabama mean lying there—As idly as a painted shipWhat it meant was soon seen. Like a cat, watching and playing with a victimized mouse, Captain Semmes permitted his prize to draw off a few yards, and then he up steam again, and pounced upon her. She first sailed round the Yankee from stem to stern, and stern to stem again. The way that fine, saucy, rakish craft was handled was worth riding a hundred miles to see. She went round the bark like a toy, making a complete circle, and leaving an even margin of water between herself and her prize, of not more than twenty yards. From the hill it appeared as if there was no water at all between the two vessels. This done, she sent a boat with a prize crew off, took possession in the name of the Confederate States, and sent the bark off to sea. The Alabama then made for the port. We came round the Kloof to visit Captain Semmes on board. As we came, we found the heights overlooking Table Bay covered with people; the road to Green Point lined with cabs. The windows of the villas at the bottom of the hill were all thrown up, and ladies waved their handkerchiefs, and one and all joined in the general enthusiasm; over the quarries, along the Malay burying-ground, the Gallows Hill, and the beach, there were masses of people—nothing but a sea of heads as far as the eye could reach. Along Strand Street, and Alderley Street, the roofs of all the houses, from which Table Bay is overlooked, were made available as standing-places for the people who could not get boats to go off to her. The central, the north, the south, and the coaling jetties were all crowded. At the central jetty it was almost impossible to force one's way through to get a boat. However, all in good time, we did get a boat, and went off, in the midst of dingies, cargo-boats, gigs, and wherries, all as full as they could hold. Nearly all the city was upon the bay; the rowing clubs in uniform, with favored members of their respective clubs on board. The crews feathered their oars in double-quick time, and their pulling, our “stroke” declared, was a “caution, and no mistake.” * * * On getting alongside the Alabama, we found about a dozen boats before us, and we had not been on board five minutes before she was surrounded by nearly every boat in Table
Upon a painted ocean.
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