The Pilot

The hero of Cooper's stirring sea-tale is a mysterious Pilot known as

Mr. Gray, who, during the American Revolution, came aboard the Yankee

frigate Alliance one stormy night to guide her in a privateering

expedition along the east coast of England. Captain Munson had been

intrusted by Congress with the dangerous errand of venturing into the

enemy's own waters in order to capture prize ships and prisoners of

war, who were to be held for exchange. Inspired by the Pilot's

presence, the daring Yankee bluejackets captured the British cutter

Alacrity, in a sharp contest near the shore. Following this victory,

the frigate's officers in council determined upon an invasion of the

enemy's country. Accordingly, one night a party of officers and

marines from the Alliance, headed by the Pilot himself, landed near

the abbey of St. Ruth, and after many exciting adventures and narrow

escapes, secured as prisoners Captain Borroughcliffe of the king's

service, Colonel Howard, a wealthy Tory recently returned from

America, and the latter's nieces, Cecilia Howard and Katherine

Plowden. Before leaving America the girls had become engaged to

Griffith and Barnstaple, young lieutenants on this very frigate; and

it was to separate them from their Yankee lovers that Colonel Howard

had brought his wards to England, guarding them like prisoners at St.

Ruth. Moreover, Merry, the midshipman on board the Alliance was the

girls' favorite cousin. They therefore willingly accepted the

situation, and were not sorry to be transported to the frigate,

preparing to enjoy a sea voyage in pleasant company. But the officers

knew that reports of the Yankee cruiser must have spread abroad and

that pursuit was to be expected. The following pages describe the

narrow escape of the Alliance from a British man-of-war.

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