Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/118

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I had unconsciously committed. For the life of me I could not have defined what the affronts were, but I wrote each party an answer that I should be happy to accept, and then deposited their beautiful gilt-edged little notes in my desk.

There was an occasional diversion which patched up a truce, such as meeting with an armed brig which was suspected to be a pirate. The chief officer, in the mizzen-rigging with a telescope, shouted down that the brig was cleared for action. The second mate rushed forward and yelled to the boatswain to pipe all hands on deck. The gunner served out pistols and cutlasses to the seamen and the passengers, boarding-pikes were stacked along the heavy bulwarks, and the battery of six eighteen-pounders was loaded with grape and canister. Things looked even more serious when the brig hauled down a British ensign and tacked to get the weather gage of the East Indiaman.

Some of the passengers were frightened, and others professed an eagerness to engage in a "set-to." Dr. Law, the half-pay naval surgeon, strode the deck with a drawn sword. He was filled with valor and Scotch whisky, and offered to wager any man a hundred guineas that he would be the first to board the enemy. Mrs. Commodore Lock waddled about uttering loud lamentations, and