In command of the prize.
It was a moment of horrible peril.
Clif’s blood fairly froze. But quick as
a flash his arm shot up.
And he caught the descending wrist;
for an instant the two glared into each other’s
eyes, straining and twisting. And then the two
sailors of the Uncas leaped forward and seized the
And almost in the twinkling of an
eye-lid, Clif Faraday was saved. He could hardly
realize what had happened, and he staggered back against
the railing of the vessel and gasped for breath.
But that was only for a moment, too;
and then the blood surged back to his cheeks and the
cadet was himself once more.
He stepped forward, a calm smile playing about his
“Bind that man,” he said to the sailors.
The two men were grasping the sinewy
Cuban and holding him so tight that he could not move.
They almost crushed his wrists, and he dropped the
knife with a hoarse cry of pain.
And Clif picked it up and glanced
at it for a moment, then flung it far out into the
After that he turned to Ignacio.
“You have met me once more,
my friend,” he said, “and this time you
will not get away.”
And that was all the conversation
he had with him. Glancing about the deck he picked
up a piece of rope and stepped toward the prisoner.
He did not strike the fellow, as the
Spaniards seemed to think he would. But the sailors
flung him to the deck and Clif carefully bound his
feet together. Then, while he fairly fumed with
rage and hatred, his hands were made fast and he was
left lying there, shrieking curses in his native Spanish.
Clif turned to the captain of the
vessel; the man was frightened nearly to death, and
began protesting volubly.
“I did not know it, senor!”
he cried. “Indeed, I did not know it!
Santa Maria! I ”
“I don’t suppose you did,”
said Clif, calmly. “You did not act like
it. But you will have to suffer for it.”
“Suffer for it! Madre
di dios, no, senor! What does the senor
mean? Surely he will not hang me for ”
“The senor will not hang you,”
said Clif, unable to help smiling at the blustering
“Then what will the senor do?”
“He will tie you like Ignacio.”
The man was evidently relieved, but
he protested volubly. He did not want to be tied.
“Is it customary?” he cried.
“No,” said Clif; “neither
is it customary to try to assassinate an officer.
After that I think common prudence requires it.”
“But,” cried the man,
angrily. “I will not submit! Por
dios, I will not ”
“You will either submit or be
made to,” said Clif, “or else sink to the
And so the man had to give up.
Those two delighted tars went the rounds and tied
every single man on that vessel hand and foot.
And they tied them tight, too, occasionally giving
them a dig in the ribs for good measure.
And when they came to search them
Clif was glad he had done as he did, for quite a respectable
heap of knives and revolvers were removed from the
clothes of those angry Spaniards.
But it did not take long to tie them
up, and then Clif felt safe. He took a few extra
hitches in the treacherous Ignacio, who was by far
the most valuable prize of them all.
“Admiral Sampson will be glad
to get you,” the cadet thought to himself.
And then he turned to examine the captured vessel.
His sword in his hand, he went down
the forward companionway, where he met a group of
frightened firemen and stokers huddled below.
They seemed to think the Yankee pigs were going to
murder them on the spot.
But Clif had another use for them.
Being able to speak Spanish, he found it easy to reassure
them in a few words, and sent them down to their work
Then he descended into the hold; he
was worried lest the continuous firing he had directed
upon the vessel had made her unseaworthy. But
apparently the holes were all well above the water
line, for there did not seem to be any leak.
And that was all there was to be done.
Clif knew that he had the task before him of piloting
that vessel into Key West; he was not willing to let
that ugly-looking Spanish captain have anything to
do with the matter.
Clif had fancied he would rather enjoy
that duty but under the circumstances of the present
case he was not so much pleased.
For the darkness was gathering then
and the cadet knew that he had a long hard night before
him; it would be necessary for him to remain on the
vessel’s bridge all through the stormy trip.
And, moreover, it would take him away
from Havana, the place of all places he was then anxious
But the duty had to be faced, and
so Clif sent one of the sailors back to the Uncas
to report the state of affairs and ask for a prize
crew. It seemed scarcely orthodox to send the
small boat away without an officer to command it,
but that, too, was inevitable.
The boat arrived safely, however,
and returned with three more men, all the little tug
dared spare. Lieutenant Raymond sent word to report
at Key West with the prize, but to steam slowly so
as not to come anywhere near the shore before daylight.
Lieutenant Raymond was evidently a
little worried about intrusting that big vessel to
an inexperienced officer like Clif, and Clif was not
so very cock sure himself. No one knew just where
they were, and in the storm and darkness reaching
Key West harbor would be task enough for an old hand.
The cadet realized the enormous responsibility
thus thrown upon him, and he made up his mind that
eternal vigilance should be the watchword.
“If staying awake all night’ll
do any good,” he muttered, “I’ll
And then the small boat dashed away
to the Uncas again, and Clif was left alone.
He stepped into the pilot house of the steamer and
signaled for half speed ahead.
The vessel began to glide slowly forward
again, heading north; the tug steamed away in the
direction of Havana.