The storm of the night was over. The winds had subsided almost as quickly as they had risen on the previous evening--as is ever the case in the West Indies and the tropics generally. Against a large number of ships of war, now riding in the waters off Boca Chica, the waves slapped monotonously in their regularity, though each crash which they made on the bows seemed less in force than the preceding one had been; while the water looked less muddy and sand-coloured than it had done an hour or so before. Likewise the hot and burning tropical sun was forcing its way through the dense masses of clouds which were still banked up beneath it; there coming first upon the choppy waters a gleam--a weak, thin ray; a glisten like the smile on the face of a dying man who parts at peace with this world; then, next, a brighter and more cheery sparkle. Soon the waves were smoothed, nought but a little ripple supplying the place of their recent turbulence; the sun burst forth, the banks of clouds were dispersed, the bright glory of a West Indian day shone forth in all its brilliancy. The surroundings, which at dawn might well have been the surroundings of the Lower Thames in November, had evaporated, departed; they were now those of that portion of the globe which has been termed for centuries the "World's Paradise." The large gathering of ships mentioned above--they mustered one hundred and twenty-four--formed the fleet under the command of Admiral Vernon, and in that fleet were also numbers of soldiers and marines who constituted what, in those days, were termed the Land Forces. There were also a large contingent of volunteers from our American colonies, drawn principally from Virginia. The presence here both of sailors and soldiers was due to a determination arrived at by the authorities at home in the year 1739, to harass and attack the Spanish West Indian Islands and possessions in consequence of England being once again, as she had been so often in the past, at war with Spain. Now that fleet lay off Cartagena and the neighbourhood; some of the officers and men--both sailors and soldiers--were ashore destroying the forts near the sea; the grenadiers were also ashore; the bomb-ketches were at this very moment playing upon the castles of San Fernando and San Angelo; the siege of Cartagena had begun. Upon the quarter-deck of one of the vessels of war composing the great fleet, a vessel which may be called the Ariadne, the captain walked now as the storm passed away and the morning broke in all its fair tropical beauty, and while there came the balmy spice-laden breeze from the South American coast--a breeze soft as a maiden's first kiss to him she loves; one odorous and sweet, and luscious, too, with the scents of nutmeg and banana, guava and orange, begonia, bignonia, and poinsettia, all wafted from the flower-laden shore. But because, perhaps, such perfumes as these, such rippling blue waves, now crested with their feathery tips, such a bright warm sun, were not deemed by Nature to be the fitting accompaniments to the work which that fleet had to do and was about to do--she had provided others.