Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/71

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also embraced the castaways and held to their parched lips a tea-kettle filled with wine, and then fed them sparingly with a dish of salt beef and potatoes. The others of the sloop's crew were summoned ashore, and while they all sat on the beach and ate and drank, the admirable Jamieson spun the yarn of his own adventures. The pirates had captured four small coasting-vessels and, being short of prize-masters, had put him in charge of one of them, with a crew which included the two Frenchmen. The orders were to follow the piratical Mexican into a harbor.

His captured schooner leaked so much that Jamieson abandoned her and shifted to a sloop, in which he altered his course at night and so slipped clear of the pirates. First he sailed back to the wreck of the Exertion on the chance that Captain Lincoln might be there. Disappointed in this, he went to sea again and laid a course for the key on which the prisoners had been marooned.

"We had determined among ourselves," he explained, "that, should an opportunity occur, we would come and save your lives, as we now have."

All hands went aboard Jamieson's sloop, and left the horrid place of their banishment over the stern. The first port of call was the inlet in which the Exertion lay stranded. She was a forlorn derelict,