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As soon as the battle on the deck of the Tallahatchie had been decided, Graines, in command of the flanking party, had returned to the engine room of the Bellevite. He and his men had fought bravely and effectively in the action, though the full effect of the movement under his charge could not be realized in the change of circumstances. The engine of the ship had now cooled off, and Paul Vapoor hastened to the deck to see his friend and crony, the news of whose wound had been conveyed to the engine room in due time.
He was heartily rejoiced to find that it was no worse, and he had news for the patient. Just before the burial of the dead he had been sent by the commander to examine and report upon the condition of the engine of the prize. Captain Rombold had protected it with chain cables dropped over the side, so that it remained uninjured, and 214 the British engineers declared that it was in perfect working order.
"But whom do you suppose I saw on board the prize, Christy?" asked the chief engineer, after he had incidentally stated the condition of the engine.
"I cannot guess; but it may have been my cousin Corny Passford, though he has always been in the military service of the Confederacy," replied the wounded lieutenant.
"It was not Corny, but his father," added Paul.
"His father!" exclaimed Christy. "Uncle Homer Passford?"
"It was he; I know him well, for I used to meet him at Glenfield in other days. I am as familiar with his face as with that of your father, though I have not seen either of them for over three years."
"Where was he? What was he doing?" asked Christy curiously.
"He was just coming up from below; and Mr. Hungerford, the second lieutenant, told me he had been turned out of the captain's cabin, which had been made into a hospital for the wounded," added Paul. "I had no opportunity to speak to him, for 215 he averted his gaze and moved off in another direction as soon as he saw me. He looked pale and thin, as though he had recently been very sick."
"Poor Uncle Homer!" exclaimed the lieutenant. "He has been very unfortunate. The last time I saw him, I conducted him to my father's place at Bonnydale, after he had been a prisoner on board of the Chateaugay. He was on parole then, and I suppose he and Captain Rombold were both exchanged."
"Doubtless he will tell you all about it when you see him, as you will soon."
"He had his eyes opened when he passed through New York City with me, for he did not find the grass growing in the streets, as he had expected, in spite of all I had said to him at sea. He was astonished and confounded when he found business more lively than ever before there; but he remained as virulent a rebel as ever; and I am sure he regards it as a pious duty to stand by the Southern Confederacy as long as there is anything left of it. I know no man more sincerely religious than Uncle Homer."
"He is as good a man as ever walked the earth," added Paul heartily.
216 "For his sake, if for no other reason, I shall rejoice when this war is over," said Christy, with a very sad expression on his pale face.
"Was Mr. Graines of any use to you on deck, Christy?" asked the chief engineer, as he turned to take his leave.
"He behaved himself like a loyal officer, and fought like a tiger on the deck of the Tallahatchie. I shall give a very good report of him to the captain for his conduct in the action, and for his valuable services in the expedition last night. I did not over-estimate him when I selected him for both of the positions to which he was appointed."
"He wants to see you, and I told him he should come on deck when I returned," added Paul, as he took the hand of Christy and retired.
"How do you feel now, Mr. Passford?" asked Captain Breaker, coming to his side the moment the chief engineer left him.
"I feel quite weak, but my arm does not bother me much. The Confederate surgeon did a good job when he dressed it," replied Christy with a smile.
"I will get him to send you a second dose of the restorative that strengthened you before," said the commander, as he pencilled a note, which he tore 217 out of his memorandum book, and sent it by Punch to Dr. Davidson.
"Mr. Vapoor brought me a piece of news, Captain," continued Christy. "Uncle Homer Passford is on board of the Tallahatchie."
"Your uncle!" exclaimed the commander. "I supposed he was still on parole at the house of your father."
"I did not know to the contrary myself, for I have had no letter from my father for a long time. He and Captain Rombold must have been exchanged some time ago. Mr. Vapoor says my uncle looks pale and thin, as though he had recently been very sick."
"I am very sorry for him, for he was the equal of your father in every respect, except his loyalty to his true country," added the captain.
"Poor Uncle Homer!" exclaimed Christy, as he wiped a tear from his eye. "He was the guest of Captain Rombold; but he has been turned out of his cabin to make room for the wounded."
"Dr. Linscott with his two mates has gone to the assistance of Dr. Davidson, whose hands are more than full, and perhaps he will see your uncle. Where is he now?" inquired the captain.
218 "Mr. Vapoor saw him on the deck, but he did not speak to him, for Uncle Homer avoided him. The ward room of the prize has at least two wounded officers in it, and I don't know how many more, so that my poor uncle has no place to lay his head if he is sick," said Christy, full of sympathy for his father's brother.
"That will never do!" exclaimed the commander bruskly. "He shall have a place to lay his head, sick or well. Captain Rombold occupies one of the staterooms in my cabin, and your uncle shall have the other.&............
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