Page:Henry Adams' History of the United States Vol. 4.djvu/20

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Ch. 1.

except for the freshness of her crew, was in fair condition.

At nine o'clock, passing Lynnhaven Bay, the officers on deck noticed the "Bellona" and "Melampus" at anchor. The "Leopard" lay farther out, and the "Bellona" was observed to be signalling. A story had been circulated at Norfolk that the captain of the "Melampus" threatened to take his deserters out of the "Chesapeake;" but rumors of this sort roused so little attention that no one on board the American frigate gave special notice to the British squadron. The "Melampus" lay quietly at anchor. Had Barron been able to read the "Bellona's" signals he would have suspected nothing, for they contained merely an order to the "Leopard" to weigh and reconnoitre in the southeast by east.[1] The British squadron was in the habit of keeping a cruiser outside to overhaul merchant-vessels; and when the "Leopard" stood out to sea, the officers of the "Chesapeake" naturally supposed that this was her errand.

At noon Cape Henry bore southwest by south, distant one or two miles. The day was fine; but the breeze then shifted to the south-southeast, and began to blow fresh. The change of wind brought the "Leopard" to windward. At about a quarter-past two the "Chesapeake" tacked in shore to wait for the pilot-boat which was to take off the pilot. The "Leopard" tacked also, about a mile distant. At the same time dinner was served at the commodore's

  1. James's Naval History, iv. 329.