With Moore At Corunna by G. A. Henty
Chapter II. Two Dangers
The next day, in spite of the sail she carried, the Sea-horse lagged behind, and one of the frigates sailed back to her, and the captain shouted angry orders to the master to keep his place in the convoy.
"If we get any wind," O'Grady said, as the frigate bore up on her course again, "it will take all your time to keep up with her, my fine fellow. You see," he explained to Terence, "no vessel is perfect in all points; some like a good deal of wind, some are best in a calm. Now this ship wants wind."
"I think she does, Captain O'Grady," Terence replied, gravely. "At any rate her strong point is not sailing in a light wind."
"No," O'Grady admitted, regretfully; "but it is not the ship's fault. I have no doubt at all that her bottom is foul, and that she has a lot of barnacles and weeds twice as long as your body. That is the reason why she is a little sluggish."
"That may be it," Terence agreed; "but I should have thought that they would have seen to that before they sent her to Cork."
"It is like enough that her owners are well-wishers of Napoleon, Terence, and that it is out of spite that they have done it. There is no doubt that she is a wonderful craft."
"I am quite inclined to agree with you, Captain O'Grady, for as I have never seen a ship except when the regiment came back from India ten years ago, I am no judge of one."
"It is the eye, Terence. I can't say that I have been much at sea myself, except on that voyage out and home; but I have an eye for ships, and can see their good points at a glance. You can take it from me that she is a wonderful vessel."
"She would look all the better if her sails were a bit cleaner, and not so patched," Terence said, looking up.
"She might look better to the eye, lad, but no doubt the owners know what they are doing, and consider that she goes better with sails that fit her than she would with new ones."
Terence burst into a roar of laughter. O'Grady, as usual, looked at him in mild surprise.
"What are you laughing at, you young spalpeen?"
"I am thinking, Captain O'Grady," the lad said, recovering himself, "that it is a great pity you could not have obtained the situation of Devil's Advocate. I have read that years ago someone was appointed to defend Old Nick when the others were pitching into him, and to show that he was not as black as he was painted, but was a respectable gentleman who had been maligned by the world."
"No doubt there is a good deal to be said for him," O'Grady said, seriously. "Give a dog a bad name, you know, and you may hang him; and I have no doubt the Old One has been held responsible for lots of things he never had as much as the tip of his finger in at all, at all."
Seeing that his captain was about to pursue the matter much further, Terence, making the excuse that it was time he went down to see if the men's breakfast was all right, slipped off, and he and Dick Ryan had a hearty laugh over O'Grady's peculiarities.
"I think, O'Grady," Captain O'Driscol said, two days later, "we are going to have our opportunity, for unless I am mistaken there is going to be a change of weather. Those clouds banking up ahead look like a gale from the southwest."
Before night the wind was blowing furiously, and the Sea-horse taking green sea over her bows and wallowing gunwale under in the waves. At daylight, when they went on deck, gray masses of cloud were hurrying overhead and an angry sea alone met the eye. Not a sail was in sight, and the whole convoy had vanished.
"We are out of sight of the fleet, O'Grady," Captain O'Driscol said, grimly.
"I felt sure we should be," O'Grady said, triumphantly. "Sorra one of them could keep foot with us."
"They are ahead of us, man," O'Driscol said, angrily; "miles and miles ahead."
"Ahead, is it? You must know better, O'Driscol; though it is little enough you know of ships. You see we are close-hauled, and there is no doubt that that is the vessel's strong point. Why, we have dropped the rest of them like hot potatoes, and if this little breeze keeps on, maybe we shall be in the Tagus days and days before them."
O'Driscol was too exasperated to argue.
"O'Driscol is a good fellow," O'Grady said, turning to Terence, "but it is a misfortune that he is so prejudiced. Now, what is your own opinion?"
"I have no opinion about it, Captain O'Grady. I have a very strong opinion that I am not going to enjoy my breakfast, and that this motion does not agree with me at all. I have been ill half the night. Dick Ryan is awfully bad, and by the sounds I heard I should say a good many of the others are the same way. On the main deck it is awful; they have got the hatches battened down. I just took a peep in and bolted, for it seemed to me that everyone was ill."
"The best plan, lad, is to make up your mind that you are quite well. If you once do that you will be all right directly."
Terence could not for the moment reply, having made a sudden rush to the side.
"I don't see how I can persuade myself that I am quite well," he said, when he returned, "when I feel terribly ill."
"Yes, it wants resolution, Terence, and I am afraid that you are deficient in that. It must not be half-and-half. You have got to say to yourself, 'This is glorious; I never enjoyed myself so well in my life,' and when you have said that and feel that it is quite true, the whole thing will be over."
"I don't doubt it in the least," Terence said; "but I can't say it without telling a prodigious lie, and worse still, I could not believe the lie when I had told it."
"Then I am afraid that you must submit to be ill, Terence. I know once that I had a drame, and the drame was that I was at sea and horribly sea-sick, and I woke up and said to myself, 'This is all nonsense, I am as well as ever I was;' and, faith, so I was."
Ill as Terence was, he burst into a fit of laughter.
"That was just a dream, Captain O'Grady; but mine is a reality, you know. I don't think that you are looking quite well yourself."
"I am perfectly well as far as the sea goes, Terence; never was better in my life; but that pork we had for dinner yesterday was worse than usual, and I think perhaps I ought to have taken another glass or two to correct it."
"It must have been the pork," Terence said, as seriously as O'Grady himself; "and it is unfortunate that you are such an abstemious man, or, as you say, its effects might have been corrected."
"It's me opinion, Terence, my boy, that you are a humbug."
"Then, Captain O'Grady, it is clear that evil communications must have corrupted my good manners."
"It must have been in your infancy then, Terence, for divil a bit of manners good or bad have I ever seen in you; you have not even the good manners to take a glass of the cratur when you are asked."
"That is true enough," Terence laughed. "Having been brought up in the regiment, I have learned, at least, that the best thing to do with whisky is to leave it alone."
"I am afraid you will never be a credit to us, Terence."
"Not in the way of being able to make a heavy night of it and then turn out as fresh as paint in the morning," Terence retorted; "but you see, Captain O'Grady, even my abstinence has its advantages, for at least there will always be one officer in the corps able to go the round of the sentries at night."
At this moment the vessel gave such a heavy lurch that they were both thrown off their feet and rolled into the lee-scuppers, while, at the same moment, a rush of water swept over them. Amidst shouts of laughter from the other officers the two scrambled to their feet.
"Holy Moses!" O'Grady exclaimed, "I am drowned entirely, and I sha'n't get the taste of the salt water out of me mouth for a week."
"There is one comfort," Terence said; "it might have been worse."
"How could it have been worse?" O'Grady asked, angrily.
"Why, if we hadn't been in the steadiest ship in the whole fleet we might have been washed overboard."
There was another shout of laughter. O'Grady made a dash at Terence, but the latter easily avoided him and went down below to change his clothes.
The gale increased in strength, and the whole vessel strained so heavily that her seams began to open, and by one o'clock the captain requested Major Harrison, who was in command, to put some of the soldiers at the pumps. For three days and nights relays of men kept the pumps going. Had it not been for the 400 troops on board, the Sea-horse would long before have gone to the bottom; but with such powerful aid the water was kept under, and on the morning of the fourth day the storm began to abate, and by evening more canvas was got on her. The next morning two vessels were seen astern at a distance of four or five miles. After examining them through his glass, the captain sent down a message to Major Harrison asking him to come up. In three or four minutes that officer appeared.
"There are two strange craft over there, Major; from their appearance I have not the least doubt that they are French privateers. I thought I should like your advice as to what had best be done."
"I don't know. You see, your guns might just as well be thrown overboard for any good they would be," the major said. "The things would not be safe to fire a salute with blank cartridge."
"No, they can hardly be called serviceable," the master agreed. "I spoke to the owner about it, but he said that as we were going to sail with a convoy it did not matter, and that we should have some others for the next voyage."
"I should like to see your owner dangling from the yardarm," the major said, wrathfully. "However, just at present the question is what had best be done. Of course they could not take the ship from us, but they would have very little difficulty in sinking her."
"The first thing is to put on every stitch of sail."
"That would avail us nothing; they can sail two feet to our one."
"Quite so, Major; I should not hope to get away, but they would think that I was trying to do so. My idea is that we should press on as fast as we can till they open fire at us; we could hold on for a bit, and then haul up into the wind and lower our top-sails, which they will take for a proof of surrender."
"You won't strike the flag, Captain; we cannot do anything treacherous."
"No, no, I am not thinking of doing that. You see, the flag is not hoisted yet, and we won't hoist it at all till they get close alongside, then we can haul it up, and sweep their decks with musketry. Of course your men will keep below until the last moment."
"That plan will do very well," the major agreed, "that is, if they venture to come boldly alongside."
"One is pretty sure to do so, though the other may lay herself ahead or astern of us, with her guns pointed to rake us in case we make any resistance; but seeing what we are, and that we carry only four small guns each side, they are hardly likely to suspect anything wrong. I am not at all afraid of beating them off; my only fear is that after they have sheared away they will open upon us from a distance."
"Yes, that would be awkward. However, if they do, we must keep the men below, and in the meantime you had better get your carpenter to cut up some spars and make a lot of plugs in readiness to stop up any holes they make near the water-line. I don't think they are likely to make very ragged holes, the wood is so rotten the shot would go through the side as if it were brown paper; still, you might get a lot of squares of canvas ready, with hammers and nails."
The strange craft were already heading towards the Sea-horse. No time was lost in setting every stitch of canvas that she could carry; the wind was light now, but the vessel was rolling heavily in a long swell. The major examined the guns closely and found that they were even worse than he had anticipated, the rust holes eaten in the iron having been filled up with putty, and the whole painted. He was turning away, with an exclamation of disgust, when Terence, who was standing near, said to him:
"I beg your pardon, Major, but don't you think that if we were to wind some thin rope very tightly round them three or four inches thick, they might stand a charge or two of grape to give them at close quarters; we needn't put in a very heavy charge of powder. Even if they did burst, I should think that the rope would prevent the splinters from flying about."
"The idea is not a bad one at all, Terence. I will see if the captain has got a coil or two of thin rope on board."
Fortunately the ship was fairly well supplied in this respect, and a few of the sailors who were accustomed to serving rope, with a dozen soldiers to help them, were told off to the work. The rope was wound round as tightly as the strength of a dozen men could pull it, the process being repeated five or six times, until each gun was surrounded by as many layers of rope. A thin rod had been inserted in the touch-hole. The cannon was then loaded with half the usual charge of powder, and filled to the muzzle with bullets. The rod was then drawn out, and powder poured in until it reached the surface.
While this was being done, all the soldiers not engaged in the work went below, and the officers sat down under shelter of the bulwarks. The two privateers, a large lugger and a brig, had been coming up rapidly, and by the time the guns were ready for action they were but a mile away. Presently a puff of smoke burst out from the bows of the lugger, and a round shot struck the water a short distance ahead of the Sea-horse. She held on her course without taking any notice of it, and for a few minutes the privateer was silent; then, when they were but half a mile away the brig opened fire, and two or three shots hulled the vessel.
"That will do, Captain," the major said. "You may as well lay-to now."
The Sea-horse rapidly flew up into the wind, the sheets were thrown off, and the upper sails were lowered, one after the other, the job being executed slowly, as if by a weak crew. The two privateers, which had been sailing within a short distance of each other, now exchanged signals, and the lugger ran on, straight towards the Sea-horse, while the brig took a course which would lay her across the stern of the barque, and enable them to rake her with her broadside. Word was passed below, and the soldiers poured up on deck, stooping as they reached it, and taking their places under the bulwarks. The major had already asked for volunteers among the officers, to fire the guns. All had at once offered to do so.
"As it was your proposal, Terence," the major said, "you shall have the honour of firing one; Ryan, you take another; Lieutenant Marks and Mr. Haines, you take the other two, and then England and Ireland will be equally represented."
The deck of the lugger was crowded with men, and the course she was steering brought her within a length of the Sea-horse. Some of the men were preparing to lower her boats, when suddenly a thick line of red coats appeared above the bulwarks, two hundred muskets poured in their fire, while the contents of the four guns swept her deck. The effect of the fire was tremendous. The deck was in a moment covered with dead and dying men; half a minute later another volley, fired by the remaining companies, completed the work of destruction. The halliards of one of the lugger's sails had been cut by the grape, and the sail now came down with a run to the deck.
"Down below, all of you," the major shouted, "the fellow behind will rake us in a minute."
The soldiers ran down to the hold again. A minute later the brig, sailing across the stern, poured in the fire of her guns one by one. Standing much lower in the water than her opponent, none of her shot traversed the deck of the Sea-horse, but they carried destruction among the cabins and fittings of the deck below. As this, however, was entirely deserted, no one was injured by the shot or flying fragments. The brig then took up her position three or four hundred yards away, on the quarter of the Sea-horse, and opened a steady fire against her.
To this the barque could make no reply, the fire of the muskets being wholly ineffective at that distance. The lugger lay helpless alongside the Sea-horse; the survivors of her crew had run below, and dared not return on deck to work their guns, as they would have been swept by the musketry of the Sea-horse.
Half an hour later Terence was ordered to go below to see how they were getting on in the hold.
Terence did so. Some lanterns had been lighted there, and he found that four men had been killed and a dozen or so wounded by the enemy's shot, the greater portion of which, however, had gone over their heads. The carpenter, assisted by some of the non-commissioned officers, was busy plugging holes that had been made in her between wind and water, and had fairly succeeded, as but four or five shots had struck so low, the enemy's object being not to sink, but to capture the vessel. As he passed up through the main deck to report, Terence saw that the destruction here was great indeed. The woodwork of the cabins had been knocked into fragments, there was a great gaping hole in the stern, and it seemed to him that before long the vessel would be knocked to pieces. He returned to the deck, and reported the state of things.
"It looks bad," the major said to O'Driscol. "This is but half an hour's work, and when the fellows come to the conclusion that they cannot make us strike, they will aim lower, and there will be nothing to do but to choose between sinking and hauling down our flag."
After delivering his report, Terence went to the side of the ship and looked down on the lugger. The attraction of the ship had drawn her closer to it, and she was but a few feet away. A thought struck him, and he went to O'Grady.
"Look here, O'Grady," he said, "that fellow will smash us up altogether if we don't do something."
"You must be a bright boy to see that, Terence; faith, I have been thinking so for the last ten minutes. But what are we to do? The muskets won't carry so far, at least not to do any good. The cannon are next to useless. Two of that lot you fired burst, though the ropes prevented any damage being done."
"Quite so, but there are plenty of guns alongside. Now, if you go to the major and volunteer to take your company and gain possession of the lugger, with one of the mates and half a dozen sailors to work her, we can get up the main-sail and engage the brig."
"By the powers, Terence, you are a broth of a boy," and he hurried away to the major.
"Major," he said, "if you will give me leave, I will have up my company and take possession of the lugger; we shall want one of the ship's officers and half a dozen men to work the sails, and then we will go out and give that brig pepper."
"It is a splendid idea, O'Grady."
"It is not my idea at all, at all; it is Terence O'Connor who suggested it to me. I suppose I can take the lad with me?"
"By all means, get your company up at once."
O'Grady hurried away, and in a minute the men of his company poured up onto the deck.
"You can come with me, Terence; I have the major's leave," he said to the lad.
At this moment there was a slight shock, as the lugger came in contact with the ship.
"Come on, lads," O'Grady said, as he set the example of clambering down onto the deck of the lugger. He was followed by his men, the first mate and six sailors also springing on board. The hatches were first put on to keep the remnant of the crew below. The sailors knotted the halliards of the main-sail, the soldiers tailed on to the rope, and the sail was rapidly run up. The mate put two of his men at the tiller, and the soldiers ran to the guns, which were already loaded.
"Haul that sheet to windward," the mate shouted, and the four sailors, aided by some of the soldiers, did so. Her head soon payed off, and amid a cheer from the officers on deck the lugger swept round. She mounted twelve guns. O'Grady divided the officers and non-commissioned officers among them, himself taking charge of a long pivot-gun in the bow.
"Take stiddy aim, boys, and fire as your guns bear on her; you ought not to throw away a shot at this distance."
As the lugger came out from behind the Sea-horse, gun after gun was fired, and the white splinters on the side of the brig showed that most, if not all, of the shots had taken effect. O'Grady's gun was the last to speak out, and the shot struck the brig just above the water-line.
"Take her round," he shouted to the mate; "give the boys on the other side a chance." The lugger put about and her starboard guns poured in their contents.
"That is the way," he shouted, as he laboured away with the men with him to load the pivot-gun again; "we will give him two or three more rounds, and then we will get alongside and ask for his health."
The brig, however, showed no inclination to await the attack. Some shots had been hastily fired when the lugger's first gun told them that she was now an enemy, and she at once put down her helm and made off before the wind, which was now very light.
"Load your guns and then out with the oars," Captain O'Grady shouted. "Be jabers, we will have that fellow. Let no man attend to the Sea-horse; it's from me that you are to take your orders. Besides," he said to Terence, "there is no signal-book on board, and they may hoist as many flags as they like."
The twelve sweeps on board the lugger were at once got out, and each manned by three soldiers. O'Grady himself continued to direct the fire of the pivot-gun, and sent shot after shot into the brig's stern. The latter had but some four hundred yards' start, and although she also hurriedly got out some sweeps, the lugger gained upon her. Her crew clustered on their taffrail, and kept up a musketry fire upon the party working the pivot-gun. Two of these had been killed and four wounded, when O'Grady said to the others:
"Lave the gun alone, boys; we shall be alongside of her in a few minutes; it is no use throwing away lives by working it. Run all the guns over to the other side; we will give them a warming, and then go at her."
The Sea-horse had hoisted signals directly those on board perceived that the lugger was starting in pursuit of the brig. Terence had informed his commanding officer of this, but O'Grady replied:
"I know nothing about them, Terence; most likely they mane 'Good-luck to you! Chase the blackguard, and capture him.' Don't let Woods come near me, whatever you do; I don't want to hear his idea of what the signals may mane."
Terence had just time to stop the mate as he was coming forward.
"The ship is signalling," he said.
"I have told Captain O'Grady, sir," Terence replied. "He does not know what the signal means, but has no doubt that it is instructions to capture the brig, and he means to do so."
The officer laughed.
"I think myself that it would be a pity not to," he said; "we shall be alongside in ten minutes. But I think it my duty to tell you what the signal is."
"You can tell me what it is," Terence said, "and it is possible that in the heat of action I may forget to report it to Captain O'Grady."
"That is right enough, sir. I think it is the recall."
"Well, I will attend to it presently," Terence laughed.
When within a hundred yards of the brig the troops opened a heavy musketry fire, many of the men making their way up the ratlines and so commanding the brig's deck. They were answered with a brisk fire, but the French shooting was wild, and by the shouting of orders and the confusion that prevailed on board it was evident that the privateersmen were disorganized by the sight of the troops and the capture of their consort. The brig's guns were hastily fired, as they could be brought to bear on the lugger, as she forged alongside. The sweeps had already been got in, and the lugger's eight guns poured their contents simultaneously into the brig, then a withering volley was fired, and, headed by O'Grady, the soldiers sprang on board the brig.
As they did so, however, the French flag fluttered down from the peak, and the privateersmen threw down their arms. The English broadside and volley fired at close quarters had taken terrible effect. Of the crew of eighty men thirty were killed and a large proportion of the rest wounded. The soldiers gave three hearty cheers as the flag came down.
The privateersmen were at once ordered below.
"Lieutenant Hunter," O'Grady said, "do you go on board the lugger with the left wing of the company. Mr. Woods, I think you had better stay here, there are a good many more sails to manage than there are in the lugger. One man here will be enough to steer her; we will pull at the ropes for you. Put the others on board the lugger."
"By the by, Mr. Woods," he said, "I see that the ship has hoisted a signal; what does it mean?"
"I believe that to be the recall, sir; I told Mr. O'Connor."
"You ought to have reported that same to me," O'Grady said, severely; "however, we will obey it at once."
The Sea-horse was lying head to wind a mile and a half away, and the two prizes ran rapidly up to her. They were received with a tremendous cheer from the men closely packed along her bulwarks. O'Grady at once lowered a boat and was rowed to the Sea-horse, taking Terence with him.
"You have done extremely well, Captain O'Grady," Major Harrison said, as he reached the deck, "and I congratulate you heartily. You should, however, have obeyed the order of recall; the brig might have proved too strong for you, and, bound on service as we are, we have no right to risk valuable lives except in self-defence."
"Sure I knew nothing about the signal," O'Grady said, with an air of innocence; "I thought it just meant 'More power to ye! give it 'em hot!' or something of that kind. It was not until after I had taken the brig that I was told that it was an order of recall. As soon as I learned that, we came along as fast as we could to you."
"But Mr. Woods must surely have known."
"Mr. Woods did tell me, Major," Terence put in, "but somehow I forgot to mention it to Captain O'Grady."
There was a laugh among the officers standing round.
"You ought to have informed him at once, Mr. O'Connor," the major said, with an attempt at gravity. "However," he went on, with a change of voice, "we all owe so much to you that I must overlook it, as there can be very little doubt that had it not been for your happy idea of taking possession of the lugger we should have been obliged to surrender, for I should not have been justified in holding out until the ship sank under us. I shall not fail, in reporting the matter, to do you full credit for your share in it. Now, what is your loss, Captain O'Grady?"
"Three men killed and eleven wounded, sir."
"And what is that of the enemy?"
"Thirty-two killed and about the same number of wounded, more or less. We had not time to count them before we sent them down, and I had not time afterwards, for I was occupied in obeying the order of recall. I am sorry that we have killed so many of the poor beggars, but if they had hauled down their flag when we got up with them there would have been no occasion for it. I should have told their captain that I looked upon him as an obstinate pig, but as he and his first officer were both killed, there was no use in my spaking to him."
"Well, it has been a very satisfactory operation," the major said, "and we are very well out of a very nasty fix. Now, you will go back to the brig, Captain O'Grady, and prepare to send the prisoners on board. We will send our boats for them. Doctor Daly and Doctor O'Flaherty will go on board with you and see to the wounded French and English. Doctor Daly will bring the worst cases on board here, and will leave O'Flaherty on the brig to look after the others. They will be better there than in this crowded ship. The first officer will remain there with you with five men, and you will retain fifty men of your own company. The second officer, with five men, will take charge of the lugger. He will have with him fifty men of Captain O'Driscol's company, under that officer. That will give us a little more room on board here. How many prisoners are there?"
"Counting the wounded, Major, there are about fifty of them; her crew was eighty strong to begin with. There are only some thirty, including the slightly wounded, to look after."
"If the brig's hold is clear, I think that you had better take charge of them. At present you will both lie-to beside us here till we have completed our repairs, and when we make sail you are both to follow us, and keep as close as possible; and on no account, Captain O'Grady, are you to undertake any cruises on your own account."
"I will bear it in mind, Major; and we will do all we can to keep up with you."
A laugh ran round the circle of officers at O'Grady's obstinacy in considering the Sea-horse to be a fast vessel, in spite of the evidence that they had had to the contrary. The major said, gravely:
"You will have to go under the easiest sail possible. The brig can go two feet to this craft's one, and you will only want your lower sails. If you put on more you will be running ahead and losing us at night. We shall show a light over our stern, and on no account are you to allow yourselves to lose sight of it."
A party of men were already at work nailing battens over the shattered stern of the Sea-horse. When this was done, sail-cloth was nailed over them, and a coat of pitch given to it. The operation took four hours, by which time all the other arrangements had been completed. The holds of the two privateers were found to be empty, and they learned from the French crews that the two craft had sailed from Bordeaux in company but four days previously, and that the Sea-horse was the first English ship that they had come across.
"You will remember, Captain O'Grady," the major said, as that officer prepared to go on board, "that Mr. Woods is in command of the vessel, and that he is not to be interfered with in any way with regard to making or taking in sail. He has received precise instructions as to keeping near us, and your duties will be confined to keeping guard over the prisoners, and rendering such assistance to the sailors as they may require."
"I understand, Major; but I suppose that in case you are attacked we may take a share in any divarsion that is going on?"
"I don't think that there is much chance of our being attacked, O'Grady; but if we are, instructions will be signalled to you. French privateers are not likely to interfere with us, seeing that we are together, and if by any ill-luck a French frigate should fall in with us, you will have instructions to sheer off at once, and for each of you to make your way to Lisbon as quickly as you can. You see, we have transferred four guns from each of your craft to take the place of the rotten cannon on board here, but our united forces would be of no avail at all against a frigate, which would send us to the bottom with a single broadside. We can neither run nor fight in this wretched old tub. If we do see a French frigate coming, I shall transfer the rest of the troops to the prizes and send them off at once, and leave the Sea-horse to her fate. Of course we should be very crowded on board the privateers, but that would not matter for a few days. So you see the importance of keeping quite close to us, in readiness to come alongside at once if signalled to. We shall separate as soon as we leave the ship, so as to ensure at least half our force reaching its destination."
Captain O'Driscol took Terence with him on board the lugger, leaving his lieutenant in charge of the wing that remained on board the ship.
"You have done credit to the company, and to my choice of you, Terence," he said, warmly, as they stood together on the deck of the lugger. "I did not see anything for it but a French prison, and it would have broken my heart to be tied up there while the rest of our lads were fighting the French in Portugal. I thought that you would make a good officer some day in spite of your love of devilment, but I did not think that before you had been three weeks in the service you would have saved half the regiment from a French prison."