صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني


through the mercy of God, rest in peace, bring round the yard ! Let them go, I - Amen!” made the sign of the cross ; say!” His orders were speedily eseand the bow-chaser, which had been cuted. The vessel gathered way, and loaded and made ready for the occasion, we quickly shot past the body of the firing, the end of the grating was gently old man. elevated, and the corpse heavily plung- For several days after this, we pured into the water. The waves parted, sued our course with a favourable wind, heaving and foaming round the body as which drove us swiftly forward on our it disappeared-when to our horror voyage. The Captain now kept himself and astonishment we beheld it, the next constantly intoxicated, seldom made his minute, slowly returned to the surface, appearance in the cabin, but left us aldeprived of the canvass covering in together to the care of the steward. All which it had been sewed. The dead subordination was now at an end his man came up as he had gone down, in whole time was spent among the seaan upright position, and floated a little men, with whom he mixed familiarly, time with his back to the vessel; but and was addressed by them without the the motion of the water turned him slightest portion of that respect or deround by degrees till we distinctly saw ference commonly paid to the Captain his face. The head was thrown back, of the vessel. The appearance

of the and the eyes wide open ; and under the men, also, was much altered. From the strong stream of light poured on them careless mirth and gaiety, and the chafrom the torches, they seemed to glare racteristic good humour of sailors, there ghastly and fearfully upwards. His gray was now a sullenness and gloom only hairs, long and dishevelled, floated about visible. A constant whispering a conhis face, at times partially obscuring it; stant caballing was going on a perpetand one arm, stretched forth, and agi- ual discussion, as if some design of motated by the action of the waves, ap- ment was in agitation, or some step of peared as if in the act of threatening us. deep importance was about to be taken. When the first burst of horror had sub- All sociality and confidence towards sided, I caught hold of Isabella to pre- each other were banished. In place of vent her seeing the body, and was lead conversing together in a body, as foring her off, when some of the men, merly, they now walked about in de lowering their torches from the main- tached parties, and among them the chains, whispered that it was the mur- boatswain and carpenter seemed to take dered man, old James Gemmel. The an active lead. Yet, in the midst of all Captain had been hitherto looking on this disorder, a few of our own crew with the rest without having apparently kept themselves separate, taking no recognized him; but when the name share in the general consultation ; but struck his ear, he shrunk back and in- from the anxiety expressed in their voluntarily exclaimed, “ It's a lie it's countenances, as well as in that of the an infamous lie! Who dares to say he mate, I foresaw some storm was broodwas murdered ? But don't let him oning, and about to burst on our heads. board : for God's sake keep him down, Since Montaldo's death, Isabella had or he'll take us with him to the bottom. been in the habit of leaving her cabin Will nobody keep him down? Will after sun-set, to enjoy the coolness of nobody shove him off? Helm a-lee !" the evening-breeze; and in this she was he bawled out, waving to the steersman; sometimes joined by the priest, but but the man had deserted his post, ea- more frequently was only attended by ger to see what was going on; he, there- her slave. One evening she came up as fore, ran to the wheel himself, and usual, and after walking backward and again issued his commands, “Let go forward on deck till the dews began to the main top-sail weather-braces, and fall, she turned to go below : but just as we approached the companion-way, one continued, turning to Isabella, “give of the negroes, who now, in the absence me the same hire, and I'll undertake to of all discipline, lounged about the clear the way for you myself." He quarter-deck without rebuke, shut down made as if he meant to approach her, the head, and throwing himself on it, when, careless of what the consequences declared that none should make him might be to myself, I hastily stepped rise without the reward of a kiss. This forward, and lifting up the head of the piece of insolence was received with an companion, Isabella in an instant darted encouraging laugh by his fellows, and below. “ This lady is no fit subject several slang expressions of wit were for either wit or insolence," said I, shututtered, which were loudly applauded ting the doors, "and he is less than by those around. Without a word of man who would insult an unprotected remonstrance, Isabella timidly stooped, female.” For a little while he stood and would have attempted getting down eyeing me as if hesitating whether he the ladder without disturbing the slaves, should resent my interference, or remain when, burning with indignation, I seiz- passive; at length he turned slowly and ed the rascal by the collar, and pitched doggedly away as he uttered. You him head foremost along the deck. In ruffle big, and crow with a brisk note, an instant he got on his legs, and pul- my lad! But I've seen me do as wonling a long clasp-knife out of his pocket, derful a thing as twist your windpipe with a loud imprecation he made to- and send you over the side to cool yourwards me. All the other negroes likewise self a bit; and so I would serve you in made a motion to assist him, and I ex- the turning of a wave, if it wasn't that pected to be assailed on all hands, when we may have use for you yet! .I see the mate interfered, and laying hold of in what quarter the wind sets ; but mind

the marlin-spike, which I had caught your eye! for sink me if I don't keep 1. up to defend myself, pushed me back as a sharp look out a-head over you.'

he whispered, “ Are you mad, that you I now saw that things had come to a interfere? For heaven's sake, keep crisis—that the crew meant to turn piquiet, for I have no authority over the rates; and I was going to be detained crew now!" And he spoke the truth ; among

them for the sake of my profesfor the negro, brandishing his knife, sional services. I could not, without a and supported by his comrades, was shudder, reflect on what must be the again advancing, when the hoarse voice fate of Isabella among such a gang of of the boatswain, as he ran to the scene reckless villains; but I firmly resolved of action, arrested his progress.

that, conie what might, my protection
" Hallo ! you there, what's the squall and care over her should cease but with
for? Avast, avast, Mingo! off hands
is fair play-ship that blade of yours, To be prepared for the worst, 'I im-
or I'll send my fist through your ribs, mediately went below, loaded my pis-
and make day-light shine through them

tols. and concealed them in my breast,
in a minute. I related the behaviour securing at the same time all my money
of the negro, and was requesting him and papers about my person. While
to order the slaves forward, when I was' thus employed, one of the cabin-boys
cut short with - There are no slaves came down for a spyglass, saying that a

young man ! we are all alike free sail had hove in sight to windward. in a British ship. But damn his eyes Upon this I followed him up, and found for an insolent son of a -; HE pre

the crew collected together in a clatends to kiss the pretty girl! I'll let morous consultation as to the course they him know she belongs to his betters ! should follow. Some were for layingThe black wench is good enough for to till she came down, and taking her, him any day. Come, my dear!” he if a merchantman; and if not, they

my life.



[ocr errors]

could easily sheer off--but this motion | irksome suspense .we remained nearly was overruled by the majority, who two hours, expecting every minute to judged it best to keep clear for fear of hear the officer descending. At length accidents : accordingly all the spare to our relief, the companion-doors were canvass was set, and we were soon gain- unlocked, and a young man, attended ing large before, the wind. But the by our Captain, entered the cabin. He Dart, though reckoned the first sailer looked surprised on seeing us, and boxout of Clyde when close hauled on a ing to Isabella, apologized for intruding vind, was by no means so fleet when at such an unseasonable hour.

“ But squared and going free : she had now I was not given to understand,” he met with her match, for the stranger added, “ that there were passengers in was evidently gaining rapidly on us, the ship-prisoners I should rather proand in two hours we saw it was impos- nounce it, Capt. Mahone, for you seem sible for us to escape.

The priest and to have had them under lock and key, I were ordered down with a threat of which is rather an unusual mode of instant death if we offered to come on treating ladies at least. No wine, Sir!" deck, or make any attempt to attract he continued, motioning away the botobservation.

tles which the Captain was hastily placI now communicated to Isabella mying on the table,“ no wine, but be apprehensions with respect to the crew, pleased to shew me your register and along with my resolution to leave the bill of lading." vessel if the other proved a man of war, He had not been long seated to inand earnestly advised both her and the spect them when a shuffing and hurpriest to take advantage of it also. She ried sound of feet was heard overhead, thanked me with a look and a smile that and a voice calling on Mr. Duff for astold me how sensible she was of the sistance showed that some scuffle had interest I took in her welfare, and ex- taken place above. Instantaneously we pressed her willingness to be guided by all started to our feet, and the lieutenant me in whatever way I thought best. was in the act of drawing his sword,

Shortly after this we heard fired when, accidentally looking round, I obto bring us to, and the Dart hailed and served Mahone presenting a pistol bequestioned as to her port and destination. hind. With a cry of warning, I threw The answers, it appeared, were thought | myself forward, and had just time to evasive and unsatisfactory, for we were strike the weapon slightly aside, when ordered to come close under the lee- it went off. The ball narrowly missed quarter of his Majesty's sloop of war the head of Duff, for whom it had been Tartar, while they sent to examine our aimed, but struck the priest over the papers. This was now our only chance, right eye, who, making one desperate and I resolved, that if the officer should and convulsive leap as high as the ceilnot come below, I would force the com- ing, sunk down dead, and before the panion-door, and claim his protection. Captain could pull out another, I disBut I was not put to this alternative. charged the contents of mine into his As soon as she arrived, I heard him de- breast. We then rushed' upon deck ; sire the hatchets to be taken off, and but it was only to find the boat's crew examine the hold. The Inspection did had been mastered, and to behold the not satisfy him; for he hailed the sloop, last of the men tumbled overboard. and reported that there were Spanish The pirates then dispersed, and exerted goods on board which did not appear themselves to get the ship speedily unin the manifest :- :-" Then remain on der-way; while the boatswain sang out board, and keep your stern lights burn- to extinguish the lantern that the Tartar ing all night, and take charge of the might not be guided by the lights, ship!” was the reply. In a state of “ It's all over with us !” exclaimed

a gun

ed up

my companton ; « but follow me we means enviable: we had escaped, it is have one chance for our lives yet. Our true, with our lives, for the present ; boat is still towing astern ; do you throw but without a morsel of food, or a single yourself over, and swim till I slide down drop of fresh water, with us in the boat; the painter, and cut her adrift. Come, we could, at best, only expect to probear a hand, and jump! don't you see tract existence for a few days longer, them hastening aft?" and in an instant and then yield them up ultimately in he pitched himself off the taffrel, slid horror and misery. By an observation down the rope which held the boat, and taken the day before, on board of the cast her loose. But this advice, how- Tartar, Mr. Duff informed us we were ever judicious, it was impossible for me to the north-east of the Bahamas; and to followfor, at that moment, re

distant about one hundred and seventy peated shrieks from Isabella put to fight miles from Walling's Island, which was all thoughts for my own individual the nearest land. This was a long dissafety ; I, therefore, hurried back to the tance; but, as despair never enters the cabin, determined, that if I could not breast of a British sailor, even in situarescue her along with myself, to remain, tions of the utmost extremity, we cheerand protect her with my life. And in each other; and, as no other rea happy time I arrived! The candles source was left us, we manned our oars, were still burning on the table ; and and pulled away with life, trusting to through the smoke of the pistols, which the chance of meeting with some vesstill filled the cabin, I beheld her strug- sel, of which there was a strong probagling in the arms of a negro—the iden-bility, as this was the common course tical slave who had displayed such of our leeward traders. And our hopes insolence in the early part of the even- were not disappointed ! for next day we ing. With one stroke of the but end fortunately fell in with a brig from the of my pistol I fractured the cursed vil- Azores, bound for Porto Rico, on board lains scull-caught up Isabella in my of which we were received with much arms ran up the ladder, and had nearly | kindness; and, in five days, we found gained the side, when the boatswain, ourselves safely moored in Porto-real attracted by her white garments, left the

harbour. helm to intercept me—and I saw the My first step on landing was to inquire gleam of his uplifted cutlass on the for a boarding-house for Isabella, and I point of descending, when he was sud- had the good luck to be directed to one denly satuck down by some person from kept by a respectable Scotch family, in behind.

I did not stop to discover Orange Terrace, and to this I conducted who had done me this good office, but her. My next transaction was to charhailing Duff, and clasping Isabella ter a small cutter; and to communicate firmly to my heart, I plunged into the to Duff the secret of the hidden treasure; water, followed by my unknown ally. at the same time, asking him to advenWith the aid of my companion, whom ture himself and his men on its recoI now found to be John Wyllie, the very. I also gave him to understand mate, we easily managed to support the probability of a rencontre with the our charge till the boat reached us ; pirates, in the event of their having eswhen we found that the greater part of caped the sloop, for I was aware that the men had been rescued in a similar Mahone had overheard the whole conmanner.

fession, from my finding him listening When the morning dawned, we per- at the cabin door. Without hesitation, ceived the Dart, like a speck in the ho- the lieutenant at once agreed to accoinrizon, and the sloop of war in close pany me, and engaging some hands out chase. Our attention was next turned of a vessel newly arrived, we soon musto our own situation, which was by no tered a party of fourteen men. As it


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

wanted only six days to the festival of moon, radiant and full, was careering St. Jago, and the distance across the high through the deep blue of heaven, Caribbean sea

was great enough to and the shadows of the branch and require all our exertions to be there in stem were approaching each other, and time, we embarked and sailed that very towards the desired point. At length night.

the hand of my time-piece pointed to Our cutter proved a prime sailor- within one minute of the time. It passand though the winds were light and ed over. The branch and stem now variable, by the help of our sweeps we merged into one, and threw their shadow made the Roccas on the evening of the due east; and the first spadeful of earth sixth day. As the Spaniard had fore- had been thrown out, when the man told, the moon was climbing the western who had been stationed to keep a look sky, and pouring the fulness of her

out came running to inform us that a splendour with a mild and beautiful ef- boat was rapidly approaching from the fulgence on the untroubled deep, as we east. We immediately concluded that slowly dristed with the current between they must be some of the Dart's crew; the Woolf-rock and the adjacent isle. and their long and vigorous strokes, as All was silent and calm over the whole they stretched out to the full extent of desert archipelago and the vast surround- their oars, shewed that they knew the ing waters, save now and then the Right | importance of every minute that elapsed. of a sea-fowl awakening from its slum- Our implements for digging were hastibers as we passed; or the occasional | ly laid aside, and we concealed ourroar of the jaguar faintly wafted from selves among the rocks till they should the main land. We ran the cutter into come within reach. In a short time a deep and narrow creek; moored her the boat was seen ashore, and eight safe, and proceeded, well armed, to the armed men came forward, partly Spaeastern extremity. There we found the niards, and partly the ship's crew; projecting point of land, and the old among whom I recognized the boatvanilla tree exactly in the situation de- swain, and, to my surprise, Mahone, scribed—its huge, iwisted trunk was whom I had shot and left for dead in still entire; and from the end of its so- the cabin. Without giving them time litary branch, which was graced by a to prepare for the assault, we quitted few scattered leaves, the body of a man our shelter, and sprung among them at in the garb of a sailor hung suspended once, laying about with our cutlasses.

, in irons. The clothes had preserved For a little space the skirmish was the body from the birds of prey, but toughly and hotly contested ; for the the head was picked clean and bare, pirates were resolute and reckless, and leaving the eyeless and bleached scull to fought with the desperation of men who glitter white in the moonlight. In per- knew that the only chance for their fect silence, and with something of awe lives lay in their own exertions. In the on our spirits impressed by the soli- confusion of the fray I had lost sight of tude and dreariness of the scene, we Duff, and was closely engaged with one seated ourselves on the rocks, and, with of the Spaniards, when the voice of the my timepiece in my hand, I began to boatswain, shouting forth a horrible immark the progress of the shadow. For precation, sounded immediately behind nearly three hours we watched in this I turned round, and sprung aside manner, listening attentively for the from the sweep of his cutlass, and, as slightest sound from seaward; but every my pistols were both empty, retreated, thing continued hushed and still, except acting upon the defensive, when he the creaking of the chain as the dead pulled out bis, fired, and hurled the man swang to and fro in the breeze.

weapon at my head. The shot passed Midnight was now drawing near-the without injuring me—but the pistol,


« السابقةمتابعة »