Page:Yule Logs.djvu/26

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10
A FIGHTING MERMAID

then her commander continued to watch the tow through a glass.

"In spite of their seeming innocence, I regard that as one of the most suspicious departures ever made from the Delaware," he remarked to a lieutenant who stood beside him. "The pretence of trying to sell that scow in Havana is only the baldest kind of a bluff. Any fool knows that those blooming Spaniards aren't going to put themselves to either the expense or trouble of carrying garbage out to sea so long as they can dump it in their harbours. Hello! What's that? Look quick and tell me if you don't see something between us and them."

Through the glass thrust into his hand, the lieutenant took a long and comprehensive survey of the intervening waters.

"No, sir, I don't see anything," he reported at length.

"Neither do I now," said the other after another look. "I would have sworn, though, that I saw something like a raft moving towards that scow."

The commander had indeed caught a glimpse of the Mermaid rising to the surface to get her bearings, but she had instantly dived, nor did she again visit the surface until safely within the shadow of the great scow.

She had run down the river the night before, and had lain behind the breakwater with only a small portion of her turret above the surface, until the tow, with its accompanying cutter, had passed out to sea. Then she followed, with her eyes just awash, and dove deep beneath the revenue vessel when it turned back. Upon next coming to the surface, she had been allowed to rise a little too far, and so was very nearly discovered.

"It was a close shave," admitted Carl Baldwin, after the Mermaid was safely ensconced within the closed pocket of the great scow; "but a safe miss is as good as a thousand miles, and now we are all right till we get to Havana."