Page:Ninety-three.djvu/25

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21
NINETY-THREE.

were concealed; the lids closed; it was as if the corvette wore a mask. These carronades had wheels with bronze spokes, an ancient model, called "modèle radié."

Corvettes usually have no cannons except on the upper deck; this one, constructed for surprise and stratagem, had no guns on the upper deck and as we have just seen, had been built in such a way as to be able to carry a battery between decks.

The "Claymore" was of a heavy, dumpy build, and yet she was a good sailor. Her hull was one of the most solid in all the English navy, and in battle she was almost equal to a frigate, although her mizzen-mast was small, with merely a brigantine rig. Her rudder, of rare scientific shape, had a uniquely curved frame, which had cost fifty pounds sterling in the dockyards of Southampton.

The crew, all French, was composed of emigrant officers and deserted sailors. They were picked men, not one of them was not a good seaman, good soldier, and good royalist. They had a threefold fanaticism: the ship, the sword, and the king.

Half a battalion of marines, which could be disembarked in case of necessity, was scattered among the crew.

The captain of the corvette "Claymore" was a chevalier of Saint-Louis, the Count de Boisberthelot, one of the best officers of the old Royal Navy; the second officer was the chevalier de la Vieuville, who had commanded the company of the French guards, in which Hoche was the sergeant, and her pilot was Philip Gacquoil, the most intelggent sailor in Jersey.

It was evident that this vessel had some extraordinary service before her. Indeed, a man had just gone on board, who had every appearance of starting on an adventure. He was a tall old man, straight and sturdy, with a stern face, whose age it would have been difficult to tell exactly. because he seemed at once old and young; one of those men, full of years and strength, with white locks on his brow and fire in his eye; forty years in point of vigor, and eighty in point of authority.

At the moment he set foot on the corvette, his sea-cloak flew open, and it could be seen that underneath this cloak he was dressed in the wide breeches called bra-