Page:The Rambler in Mexico.djvu/26

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THE GULF.

two boats pulling for us with might and main. The one was a revenue barge, and the other a cockle shell of a boat belonging to an American brigantine within the bar, whose captain, out of friendship for De Vignes, risked the passage with two sailors, and came to warn him of the bad odour in which the Halcyon stood at Tampico, and the difficulties which would attend his proceedings.

I saw at once that as far as our captain was concerned he was contented to remain out at sea, till time should permit his agents to make the necessary arrangements with the custom-house officers, which was not as yet terminated; and that the fate of his passengers was nothing in his eyes. He, however, clamoured for water, and that earnestly, and made no secret of his belief that he must again go out to sea. But we needed no spur to make us wish to escape from the Halcyon. There was no bond between us and our companions but that of dire necessity, and chivalrous deference or devotion was here quite out of place. It was evident that each must shift for himself Besides, among the many kinds of justice to be done, that kind usually termed "justice to one's self," is not always to be disregarded. A timely application to the captain of the brigantine secured us the use of his skiff, which was in truth a mere toy, so fragile that the weight of my two companions and myself was almost too much for it, and sank it to the water's edge. To this we speedily consigned our persons, leaving our goods and chattels to their fate, De Vignes had quarrelled with his acquaintance the instant he set his foot on deck, so that he had nothing to detain him; and after three minutes stay, the little boat was scudding under a thin linen lugsail, over the broad swell, which was now rolling, in increasing volumes at the lapse of every ten seconds, in towards the land.

The feeling of exultation was warm in our bosoms as the distance between us and our late prison momentarily increased. There was, however, a peril in advance, which soon claimed our attention, and that was the passage of the bar, which now exhibited a broad band of breakers. But we felt stout hearted, even in a moment