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the way, the admiral absolutely refusing the advice of Lieutenant Stevens and other New England sailors, whose opinions were invaluable to lim.
“I must have a native pilot," the admiral declared. “We dare not risk ourselves in French waters without a French pilot.”.
“But, Sir Ilovenden, do you reflect that a French pilot might lead us astray ?” Lieutenant Stevens ventured to remark.
“Prythee; who commands this fleet?” cried the haughty admiral..
The young lieutenant bowed in mute submission and apologized for his suggestion, stating that he made it for the good of the fleet and the admiral.
“When I want your suggestions, I will ask for them,” the pompous admiral declared.
Then, pacing the quarter-deck, he swore at the presumption of the American colonists.
“Why! if her majesty the queen of England were to come to America, these impudent fellows would seek to advise her.”
In his anger, his wig became awry, his cocked hat was set on one side of his head, and the admiral cut a ridiculous figure. “I will send that fellow from my ship! I will have no dictating here!” he declared.
At this moment, one of the midshipmen came up and, saluting the admiral, stated that he bore a message. The message was to the effect that a strange sloop was approaching the fleet.
“ Zounds! rather odd !” growled the admiral. “ Perchance it may be French pilots.”
“ What orders will you give, admiral ?” asked the midshipman.
"Tell them to let the sloop come alongside, and we will see who they are.”
The sloop approached the fleet under easy sail, and it was found that it had but five men aboard, all of whom were Frenchmen, though they spoke English.
“Bring them aboard my ship,” the admiral commanded.
It was dark when the five Frenchmen were brought aboard the flag-ship of Admiral Walker. He at once proceeded to interrogate them about the gulf and river of St. Lawrence. They answered his questions in a way that was satisfactory to the foolish admiral, but which was anything but satisfactory to the young lieutenant, who was listening. They told a plausible story about deserting their countrymen on account of the cruelty of some officers, and of having determined to come over to the enemy.
This story was corroborated by some of the sailors, who had seen the smoke of guns from the shore as the sloop sailed from it, and which the cunning Frenchmen averred had been fired at them.
Admiral Walker was fully satisfied now that the pilots were all right, and he resolved to trust them. He told them to stay aboard his vessel and give directions in regard to sailing the fleet.
“ Admiral Walker, I beg pardon for this interference,” said Lieutenant Stevens. “Be assured that it is my love for my country that prompts me to do what to you may be unseemly in a provincial officer. I must speak. These men whom you trust are spies. I know something of the coast, have listened to their directions, and know if followed they will drive you right on the rocks and sink the fleet.”
The admiral gazed on the impudent young American who had dared express an opinion contrary to his own. His eyes flashed fire; the backbone of his sharp nose seemed to grow higher and higher, while his lips parted in rage, and his breath came in sharp, quick gasps. The storm burst in all its fury on the head of the young provincial. How dared he, an American by birth, and only a provincial, instruct an English nobleman in the art of war? His acts were presumptuous, and he would not listen to him longer. He ordered him to be gone and thank fortune that he did not have him whipped with the cat-o-nine-tails.
Quite crestfallen, the young lieutenant turned away and, with a sigh, retired aft. He uttered no complaint; but in his heart he thought:
“What stupendous folly this is! The admiral is mad and will ruin the fleet.”
Haughtily rejecting the advice of all the New England pilots, the admiral listened to the Frenchmen, who had an interest in misleading him. His fleet was soon after driving on the shore. On the night of the 2d of September, just as he was going to bed, the captain of the vessel came down to the admiral's cabin and said:
“ Land is in sight. We are in great danger.”
“I don't believe you,” the haughty admiral declared, and, coolly undressing, he went to bed.
The officer, disgusted, turned away, declaring that the admiral was mad. A few moments later, Lieutenant Elmer Stevens rushed down exclaim: ing:
“For the Lord's sake, come on deck, or wé shall be lost! I see the breakers all around us.”
“You silly Americans are frightened at shadows,” declared the admiral, leisurely putting on his gown and slippers. “We English officers are not to be frightened at trifles.” He ascended to the deck, where he at once saw the imminent peril to all the fleet and crew. His orders to save the fleet came too late. The vessels were driven on
the rock-bound shore and eight of them lost, and with them perished on that night almost a thousand men.
In the midst of the utmost confusion which prevailed, the cry went upon the night air:
“We are betrayed! The Frenchmen have betrayed us!” .“ Where are they?"
Search was made; but the five voyageurs were too shrewd to be caught. They had embarked in a boat and pulled away in the dense fog. The admiral fired a pistol in the direction they had gone, and some of the marines discharged their guns into the fog and darkness, but without effect, and the Frenchmen were soon beyond reach of their shots.
The ship of the admiral was saved from the rocks; but not a hundred cables away could be heard the cries of poor wretches whose vessel had gone down on the hidden reefs.
“Man the boats and go to their rescue,” cried the admiral.:
Lieutenant Stevens was one of the first to descend to a boat. Seizing the helm, with six stout oarsmen he' glided away toward the cries. One poor drowning wretch was picked up, and then there came rolling down upon them one of those terrible, dense Newfoundland fogs, which