reaction had become too painful, and, as he truly said, he dared not hope: still his temper was not soured, but chastened.

“She has hauled her wind, sir,” hailed the second-lieutenant from the topmast cross-trees.

“What think you of that, Martin?” observed Jack.

“Either that she is an English frigate, or that she is a vessel commanded by a very brave fellow, and well manned.”

It was sunset before the Aurora had arrived within two miles of the vessel; the private signal had been thrown out, but had not been answered, either because it was too dark to make out the colours of the flags, or that these were unknown to an enemy. The stranger had hoisted the English colours, but that was no satisfactory proof of her being a friend; and just before dark she had put her head towards the Aurora, who had now come stem down to her. The ship’s company of the Aurora were all at their quarters, as a few minutes would now decide whether they had to deal with a friend or foe.

There is no situation perhaps more difficult, and demanding so much caution, as the occasional meeting with a doubtful ship. One the one hand, it being necessary to be fully prepared, and not allow the enemy the advantage which may be derived from your inaction; and on the other, the necessity of prudence, that you may not assault your friends and countrymen. Captain Wilson had hoisted the private night- signal, but here again it was difficult, from his sails intervening, for the other ship to make it out. Before the two frigates were within three cables’ length of each other, Captain Wilson determined that there should be no mistake from any want of precaution on his part, hauled up his courses and brailed up his driver, that the night signal might be clearly seen.

Lights were seen abaft on the quarter-deck of the other vessel, as if they were about to answer, but she continued to keep the Aurora to leeward at about half a cable’s length, and as the foremost guns of each vessel were abreast of each other, hailed in English—

“Ship ahoy! what ship’s that?”

“His majesty’s ship Aurora,” replied Captain Wilson, who stood on the hammocks. “What ship’s that?”

By this time, the other frigate had passed half her length clear of the beam of the Aurora, and at the same time that a pretended reply of “his majesty’s ship—” was heard, a broadside from her guns, which had been trained aft on purpose, was poured into the Aurora, and, at so short a distance, doing considerable execution. The crew of the Aurora, hearing the hailing in English, and the vessel passing them apparently without firing, had imagined that she had been one of their own cruisers. The captains of the guns had dropped their lanyards in disappointment, and the silence which had been maintained as the two vessels met, was just breaking up in various ways of lamentation at their bad luck, when the broadside was poured in, thundering in their ears, and the ripping and tearing of the beams and planks astonished their senses. Many were carried down below, but it was difficult to say whether indignation at the enemy’s ruse, or satisfaction at discovering that they were not called to quarters in vain, most predominated. At all events, it was answered by three voluntary cheers, which drowned the cries of those who were being assisted to the cockpit.

“Man the larboard guns and about ship!” cried Captain Wilson, leaping off the hammocks. “Look out, my lads, and rake her in stays! We’ll pay him off for that foul play before we’ve done with him. Look out, my lads, and take good aim as she pays round.”

The Aurora was put about, and her broadside poured into the stern of the Russian frigate—for such she was. It was almost dark, but the enemy, who appeared as anxious as the Aurora to come to action, hauled up her courses to await her coming up. In five minutes the two vessels were alongside, exchanging murderous broadsides at little more than pistol shot—running slowly in for the land, then not more than

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