The commander of the Maine was the last to leave the wreck, and then all that was left of the mighty ship was beginning to settle in the slime and putrefaction which covers the bottom of Havana harbour.
The passengers who were saved had clung to doors, skylights, and such floating objects as they could reach, and were thus rescued; all the rest, some five hundred in number, had gone down with the ship. The panic grew worse and worse, and about the end of September there was a general suspension of the banks of New York, and a money crisis extended all over the country.
The Mississippi and Oneida keeping close behind the Pensacola and refusing to pass her, the Cayuga was thus separated from all her followers. The isolation of the Cayuga was therefore caused by her anomalous position at the head of the column, a post proper only to a heavy ship.
The cry sobered some of the pirates and, staggering forward, they recognized in the approaching vessel the ship seen the night before. A strange dread took possession of them all. They hastily shook their drunken messmates from their dreams, pointed to the ship, and hurried to Barthelemy with the tidings.
The man at the helm was watching the luff of the sail and whistling away gently to himself, and that was the only sound excepting the swish of the sea against the bows and around the sides of the ship.
"An English ship would not have given in so soon," observed the first lieutenant. "Not unless she is the smallest," answered the purser, who was addicted to croaking. "Then we shall have the satisfaction of retaking her and thrashing her captor into the bargain," said Mr Handsel. "But what if her captor is bigger than we are?" asked the purser.
Valdivia, encouraged by this success to new enterprises, ordered a carrack or ship of some considerable size to be built at the mouth of the river Chillan, which traverses the valley of Quillota, for the purpose of more readily obtaining succours from Peru, without which he was fully sensible he could not possibly succeed in the vast enterprise he had in view, which was no less than to accomplish the entire reduction of Chili.
The captain of the ship gave us permission to land, and presently we were all enjoying ourselves on the green meadow. We walked about for some time and then sat down to rest, and some of us set to work to light a fire, that we might make our evening meal.
The life-buoy was let go as soon as possible, but by that time the ship had already got a considerable distance from him; and even could he reach it, I felt that the prospect of saving him was small indeed, as I had no hope, should we find him, of being able to pick him out of that troubled sea; and I had strong fears that a boat would be unable to swim, to go to his rescue, should I determine to lower one.
'She can't do much now, says I. 'We're across the border. I wonder where Starlight is whether he's in the township or not? As soon as we meet him we can make straight for the ship. 'He's there now, says Jim. 'He was at Kate's last night. 'How do you know that? 'I heard her mutter something about it just when she went into that fit, or whatever it was. Devilment, I think.