Page:Yule Logs.djvu/367

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Our prize turned out to be the Don Cristoval—a craft notorious alike for her astounding sailing powers, for the insolent daring of her commander, and for the success with which she had hitherto eluded all our efforts to overhaul her. Her capture, therefore, was quite a feather in our caps, altogether apart from the fact that two hundred and forty-four negroes were stowed under her hatches, for whom we should in due course receive head-money. Brief as the struggle for her possession had been, it had not been altogether bloodless; for when we came to investigate, it was discovered that we had three men wounded, while, on the side of the slavers, their loss amounted to two killed and seven wounded, one of them being their skipper, the infamous Captain Lenoir—a Frenchman—whose skull I had cloven upon the instant of boarding, and who was found to be so desperately hurt that there appeared but little prospect of his surviving to take his trial.

Having secured our prisoners, and made the wounded as comfortable as possible, we made the pre-arranged signal of success by hoisting three lanterns, one over the other, at the mainmast-head; after which we got the canvas set, and then disposed ourselves to wait as patiently as might be for a breeze to spring up and enable us to close with the corvette. Meanwhile, having nothing better to do, we released the cook and bade him go to work to cook the best dinner—or supper—for us that the resources of the ship would permit.

It was not until some time after midnight that a soft, warm air came stealing out to us from off the land; and then we obtained an insight into the marvellous sailing