Page:Yule Logs.djvu/37

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21
A FIGHTING MERMAID

possess, but when its captain went ashore and announced his desire to dispose of the dumping scow, the authorities only laughed at him, and referred him to General Weyler, who happened at that time to be absent with an expedition to the interior. This was gratifying information, as it afforded an excuse for remaining in Havana harbour until he should return.

In the meantime the Mermaid, having sunk out of sight on the approach of danger, had found safe refuge under the stern of a Spanish man-of-war that was moored close at hand. Here she received a supply of fresh air through a flexible tube, one end of which was supported on the surface of the water by a small float. During the time that her occupants were thus compelled to remain in hiding, they amused themselves by so wedging the rudder of the warship as to render it immovable.

With the earliest twilight of that evening they returned to the tug and held a short consultation with her captain, who had used his eyes to such good purpose while on shore that he was enabled to direct them to a place from which he believed they could gain the city streets. This was most important, for though in the darkness they might have landed anywhere along the quay, they would still have been shut off from the streets by a tall and stout iron fence, the gates of which were always guarded, and at sunset locked for the night. This is in accordance with a regulation that not only forbids any vessel to enter or leave the port of Havana between sunset and sunrise, but also prohibits all communication between the city and its harbour during the night.

The place indicated by the captain was a dock in which lay a number of fishing craft, and the entrance to which was closed by iron gates. As it was not likely that these extended very far below the surface, it was possible that the Mermaid might pass beneath them. This proved to be the case; for when, after a long search and several