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faces upon the deck. Six-inch shells from the Vizcaya come tearing into the sinking Merrimac, crashing into wood and iron, and passing clear through, while the plunging shots from the forts smash her deck into splinters. It is a moment of horror and suspense. “Not a man must move!” cries Hobson. And it is only due to the splendid discipline of the men that all of them are not killed as the shells rain over them. But, although their mouths are parched, their limbs trembling with fatigue, they lie there patiently, obey. ing the command of their superior, and waiting until he shall tell them to rise. Yet now and again one or the other of the men, lying with his face glued to the deck and wondering whether the next shell will not come his way, asks plaintively, “Hadn't we better drop off now, sir?"
But Hobson's invariable answer is, “Wait until daylight.” And he is right, for it would be impossible to get the catamaran, by which they had arranged, if possible, to escape, anywhere but on to the shore, where the Spanish soldiers stand shooting, and Hobson hopes that by daybreak he and his comrades may be recognized and saved. Meanwhile, the grand old Merrimac, grand in spite of all her dilapidated appearance, dilapidated even before she had been fired upon, continues sinking. The fire of the Spanish soldiery and the guns of the Vizcaya are something awful. Heaven and earth are shaken by the battery.
Lower and lower sinks the Merrimac. As the water comes over her decks, the catamaran floats amid the wreckage. Hobson and his men catch hold of the edges and cling on, their heads only being above the water.
At last the dawn appears. The firing ceases.
A Spanish launch comes toward the wreck of the Merrimac. The Spaniards see the Americans. Half a dozen marines jump up and point their rifles at the heads which are only just above the water.
"Is there any officer on board to receive a surrender of prisoners of war?" shouts Hobson.
An old man leans out from under the awning and waves his hand. It is Admiral Cervera. The marines lower their rifles and the American heroes are helped on board. The Spanish admiral holds out his hand. Hobson grasps it.
“Bravo, Americans!” exclaims Cervera. "Yours was a brave deed. I congratulate you.
Heroism knows no country.”
When, the same afternoon, by the kindness of the gallant commander-in-chief of the Spanish forces, the effects of the sailors were brought off in the boat that went under a flag of truce, the man who was the spokesman for all the others said, “We are ready to go over it all again to-night, sir."
The next day, when it seemed that perhaps the remnant of the Spanish inquisition was to be applied to get information, and when impertinent questions were put, the Spanish sailors and soldiers made significant signs with their hands across the throat, muttering, “Death to the American pigs." But the Yankees only laughed.
“What was the object of your act?" the Spanish inquisitor asked, and one of our jackies, George Charette, who spoke French and was selected to respond, replied, “In the United States Navy it is not the custom for the seamen to know or to ask to know the object of the superior officer."
And these men were simply types of the whole fleet. Hurrah for Hobson ! Hurrah for his gallant crew! Hurrah for their plunge into the very jaws of death! And thank God that they all escaped!