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Twice Lost

William Henry Giles Kingston

  Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England

  Twice Lost, by W.H.G. Kingston.


  A typical Kingston book, full of incident, and co-incidence. Weparticularly liked the way in which the topic of the lost boy, Harry, isintroduced, and later on a boy who had been found by the natives of aPacific island, comes into the story, being the person who found one ofthe ship's company who had been lost overboard in heavy weather. Thelatter had made his way ashore by sheer grit and determination (being aSandwich Islander). They realise Harry is originally an English boy,and take him on board, and away from his savage masters who had beenusing him as a pearl-driver.

  Much later on they decide to settle in Australia. Lo! and behold! thepeople who had settled on the next station were Harry's parents.

  It is a good story, well-told, and worth listening to or reading.





  The last day of my home-life came to an end. Pierce and I went to ourroom and turned in to our beds, but not to sleep. We had still manythings to say to each other, though we had probably said them over andover again before. I promised to write a journal, to show to him when Icame back from my first voyage; and he agreed to keep one, from which hemight make extracts when he wrote to me, so that I might know everythingthat took place in our family circle.

  Our father, Mr Rayner, was a half-pay lieutenant; but at the end of thewar, having no expectation of promotion, he had left the service andjoined his elder brother, our Uncle Godfrey (after whom I was named), ina mercantile business at Bristol, near which city we lived. He knewnothing of office work, but hoped by diligence and attention to be ofassistance. Our uncle, however, died before he had gained a thoroughknowledge of the business; and, besides the sorrow he felt at losing onehe loved, much responsibility in consequence devolved upon him. Ibelieve that his affairs were not as prosperous as he could havedesired; and he sometimes expressed his regret that he had engaged in anundertaking for which he was not fitted.

  I had shown no predilection for a seat in the counting-house; andconsequently, when his old shipmate Captain Bracewell, who had just beenappointed to the command of the _Heroine_ sloop-of-war, offered to takeone of his sons as a midshipman, he allowed me, greatly to my delight,to enter the navy.

  My sea-chest, already packed, stood at one end of the room, with my dirkand the uniform I was to put on next day lying upon it; in which, as maybe supposed, I had already exhibited myself to Pierce and our sisterEdith, who was younger than either of us, and naturally thought it, asshe told me, very becoming; an opinion I also entertained, as did ourmother, and--I flattered myself--the rest of the household.

  At last Pierce's voice grew more and more inarticulate, and he droppedoff to sleep. I, after some time, was following his example, when thedoor opened, and our mother glided into the room, afraid of awakeningme. I was conscious that she was bending over me: a tear dropped on mycheek, and I felt her loving kiss on my brow. I started up and passedmy arm round her neck. She perhaps thought that it was the last time Ishould be with her alone on earth.

  "Godfrey, my dear boy," she said, "fear to offend God, and be faithfuland true to him and to all men. He will ever prove your best Friend,here and throughout eternity."

  "I will, mother; indeed I will," I answered, as soon as the beatings ofmy heart and the sobs which burst from my breast allowed me to speak.

  "Hush," she said at length; "we must not awaken Pierce. And you too,Godfrey, must go to sleep, to be ready for your journey to-morrow."

  She left me, but I could hear her breathing outside the door till shethought I had dropped off to sleep.

  Next morning all the family were up to see me off. I won't describe thescene: my dear, sweet little sister Edith, though she looked so proud ofme in my uniform, sobbed as if she would break her heart; and I found ita hard matter to restrain my feelings, till the coach came by, and, mychest being stowed away in the boot, my father and I mounted to the top.I soon recovered my spirits, when my father, entering into conversationwith our fellow-passengers, led me to join in it. Most of them wereseafaring men; and one of them, with naval buttons on his greatcoat,made himself known to my father as Peter Mudge, once a little midshipmanwith him, but now an old master's mate on his way to join the _Heroine_.

  "You'll keep an eye on this youngster, then, for my sake, Mudge?" saidmy father; "though I know you would without my asking you."

  "That I will, Mr Rayner," answered Mr Mudge; "I'll do all I can forhim, though that may be but little."

  "You've got one friend on board already, Godfrey," observed my father,"through my interest. I hope you will soon have many more by your ownmerits."

  We reached Plymouth late in the day; and the next morning my father tookme on board to introduce me to the captain and officers. CaptainBracewell received me very kindly; and when my father left--as he wassoon obliged to do--to return home, Peter Mudge took charge of me, andled me down into the midshipmen's berth, where he introduced me to mynew messmates. I was at home in a few minutes, and made up my mind thatI should be very jolly. In this opinion I was confirmed by theassurances of another midshipman of about my own age, or rather younger,Tommy Peck by name, who had also come to sea for the first time, and whonaturally became my chief chum. He was a merry fellow, delighting infun and mischief; caring very little about the result of the latter,provided he could amuse himself for the moment; and without a particleof forethought. He was not altogether destitute of sense, but at thetime I speak of he greatly required a friend like Mudge to keep him inthe right way.

  The sails were loosed, the men were going round the capstan to the soundof the merry fife, when a messenger from the Admiralty arrived in hothaste, directing the captain to carry out despatches to the governor ofCape Coast Castle, instead of proceeding direct to the Pacific, whitherwe were bound.

  The wind being fair and fresh, in a few hours we were out of sight ofland. For the first time in my life, as I gazed round from the deck, Isaw only the circle of the horizon where sea and sky met. It producedin me a sensation of pleasure not unmixed with awe, though I confessthat the feeling very soon wore off.

  The next day at noon the midshipmen were ordered to bring up theirquadrants; and I received my first practical lesson in navigation. Iwas anxious to gain a knowledge of my profession, and Peter Mudge didhis best to instruct me.

  Day after day we sailed on, the fair wind lasting us till we got to thelatitude of the Cape de Verde Islands, and I began to fancy that thestories I had heard of gales and hurricanes were fabulous, and that wewere to enjoy the same sort of weather during our cruise.

  "Wait a bit, my lad, till we're rounding Cape Horn; you'll then chanceto pick up a notion of what a heavy sea is like, if you don't happen tolearn sooner," said Peter Mudge.

  In spite of calms and light winds, however, we at length came off CapeCoast Castle; consisting of an extensive range of buildings surroundedby fortifications, appearing of snowy whiteness against the dark foliageof the wooded height in the background. The captain went on shore todeliver his despatches to the governor. We were expecting the pleasureof a run on shore, when he returned on board, and ordering the anchor tobe hove up, we stood to the south-eastward under all sail.

  It soon became known that the g
overnor had received intelligence of theappearance of a large craft off the coast, supposed to be a pirate, ofwhich he had directed the captain to go in search. A sharp look-out wasaccordingly kept for her during the night. She was said to be heavilyarmed; under Spanish colours; and that her plan of proceeding was tocapture any traders she could fall in with, take possession of theircargoes, and exchange them on the coast for slaves, with which shereturned to Cuba. "A profitable style of business, whatever might besaid of its honesty. I only hope that we may catch her with Englishproperty on board," said Mudge; "we shall soon put a stop to hertricks."

  The next evening a sail was sighted on the starboard bow, steering thesame course as we were; and we immediately stood for her, hoping thatshe was the pirate. It was doubtful whether she had seen us; if shehad, she had possibly taken us for a merchantman. Darkness was comingon, but we had got her bearings; and unless she was suspicious of us shewould stand on as she was doing, and perhaps shorten sail to allow us tocome up with her; if so, we had no doubt that we should take her. As itwas fully believed that she would not yield without fighting, the shipwas cleared for action; the crew went to their quarters, and all stoodready should we sight her, which we might do at any moment.

  On glided our ship over the dark waters, her masts towering to the skylike some phantom of the night. A strange feeling came over me as Ithought that in a few minutes we might be hotly engaged in firing awayat the enemy, round shot and bullets flying about us.

  "Sail right ahead, sir!" shouted the second lieutenant from forward. Ilooked out eagerly, and saw the tall masts and sails of a ship fully aslarge as, if not larger than, the _Heroine_.

  "We must speak her before firing, lest we should be engaging a friend,"I heard the commander observe to Mr Worthy, the first lieutenant. "Ifyonder craft is a pirate, she takes us for a merchant vessel, as sheprobably knew that no man-of-war of our size was on the station. Don'tfire a shot till I give the order."

  After this not a word was spoken. In perfect silence we glided onwards,rapidly approaching the dark ship, which we could now distinguishclearly, with her courses brailed up, evidently awaiting us. Thecaptain's intention was to run up on her starboard quarter, so as tokeep her between us and the land. We were almost within hail, andexpected in another instant to be engaged, when down came her courses,the yards were braced sharp up, and she stood away on a bowline towardsthe coast. On this our helm was immediately put down, and we did thesame, keeping directly after her and firing our bow-chasers. She wasevidently a fast craft, for she rapidly drew ahead of us. The breezefreshened, and having all sail set, we heeled over till the lee gunsdipped into the water.

  "We shall be whipping the masts out of her, if we don't take care," Iheard Mudge observe.

  The captain seemed to think the same. "Hand royals and topgallantsails," he sang out; "be smart, my lads."

  The top-men hurried aloft to obey the order, for every one knew therewas no time to be lost. The masts bent like willow wands, and Iexpected every moment to see them go over the side. While attending toshortening sail, the eyes of the officers were withdrawn from the chase;for some of the ropes getting foul during the operation, we were obligedto luff up to clear them, thereby allowing her to get still fartherahead. Still, she could be distinguished standing to the eastward. Assoon as the sails were handed we stood on again after her, staggeringalong under such canvas as we could carry, and every eye on board turnedtowards her.

  "If she runs us out of sight, she'll put her helm up and stand down thecoast," observed Mudge; "and it will be a hard matter to find heragain."

  Our chief hope was that our shot might wing her; but only one gun couldbe brought to bear, and with the sea there was on, though it was notvery heavy, our aim was uncertain. Still, as we had got her jammed inbetween us and the coast, there was little chance of her ultimatelyescaping.

  We had been running on for some time, the chase still gaining on us, andbecoming dimmer and dimmer to view, when a heavy squall struck the ship,and heeled her over so much that the captain gave the order to shortensail. It cleared off, however, before the sheets were let fly; but whenwe again looked ahead the chase was nowhere to be seen. We accordinglyedged away to the southward, in case she should have gone off before thewind.

  Not long after this the morning broke, and the wind went down. As thechase was not to be seen to the southward, the captain and Mr Worthywere still convinced that she had continued her course to the eastward,but that the thick mist hanging over the coast was hiding her fromsight. We had again made all sail, and were standing on as before, whenthe look-out at the mast-head shouted, "Land! land!" and shortlyafterwards, as the atmosphere cleared, we could see the wood-coveredheights of the African coast rising above the belt of thick mist whichstill hung over the lower ground, and which would effectually concealthe chase should she have stood in for the shore.

  "Should she be there, we shall soon sight her," observed Mudge. "I onlyhope that her rascally crew will have the courage to fight for theirlives and liberty; though there isn't much chance of that."

  The lead was kept going, of course, and showed a much greater depth ofwater than had been expected. On reference to the chart, the captainfound that we must be approaching the mouth of a large river. The sunrising, dissipated the mist; and we had got close to the mouth of theriver when the wind fell. Being thus unable to enter it, we werecompelled to bring up at no great distance from the shore. From wherewe lay we could see but a very little way up the river, a point of landcovered with trees hiding the next reach, so that the chase might bethere, though invisible to us. The captain accordingly directed thefirst lieutenant to pull up in the gig to ascertain if she was there;intending, if so, to carry the ship into the river whenever thesea-breeze should set in. As she was a large, well-armed vessel, with anumerous crew, he was unwilling to risk the loss of his men, at thecommencement of a long voyage, by attacking her with the boats.

  The gig was soon hidden behind the point; when the watch below, to whichI belonged, was allowed to lie down in the shade on deck--for, havingbeen awake all night, we could scarcely keep our eyes open. I was in aninstant asleep; and being roused up again after a snooze of two hours, Ifound that the gig had not returned. The captain was beginning to getanxious, when the look-out from the mast-head, who could see fartherover the point than we could on deck, shouted, "The gig in sight, andanother boat following her."

  Some minutes passed, when we saw the gig chased round the point, thecrew pulling with all their might; and the next instant a much largerboat hove in sight. As she did so, a man standing in the stern-sheetswas seen to lift a musket and fire at the gig: at the same moment an oardropped from the hands of one of the crew, who sank down on the thwart;the gig, however, still coming on. It was a wanton act. The large boatpulled round, and before we could have brought one of our guns to bearon her she was again hidden behind the point. The captain, on seeingthe occurrence, ordered the other boats to be got ready, intending tosend them up in chase of the audacious stranger, and they were in thewater before the gig was alongside.

  Lieutenant Worthy, on coming on deck, informed the captain that he hadgone up the river for some distance without seeing the chase, when, justas he had at length caught sight of her topgallant-masts over a woodedpoint, a large boat had darted out from behind it; while several shotsfired from the shore warned him of the danger of proceeding farther.Immediately putting the gig round, he pulled down the river, seeing thatit would be madness to attempt attacking the larger boat with his smallcrew.

  The daring way in which the large boat had attempted to capture the gigproved the character of the craft to which she belonged; as also thateither her crew must consider themselves strong enough to resist aman-of-war, or possibly might suppose that we should not venture intothe river.

  In the meantime, the gig with the wounded man had been hoisted up. Hestill breathed, and was immediately carried below, and placed under thecare of the surgeon; who, on exami
ning his wound, expressed but slighthope that he would recover. On hearing this, the crew threatened thepirates with their vengeance, and were eager to go up the river and takethem.

  We now anxiously waited for the sea-breeze. The cable was hove short,the sails loosed; still, as we looked eastward, not a ripple disturbedthe glass-like surface of the ocean.

  "We've got the fellow in a trap, at all events," observed Mudge, "andfight he must, whether he likes it or not."

  "I hope he will," I answered. "I should like to see a good fiercebattle; and there will be little glory in taking the pirate, should shegive in at once."

  "You'll sing a different note when you find the shot come flying thicklyabout your ears, my boy," answered Mudge; "and as for the glory, there'snot much to be gained by capturing a rascally pirate. For my part, Ihope she'll knock under at once, and give us as little trouble aspossible."

  Hour after hour went by, but the breeze did not come; and I heardLieutenant Worthy remark that it would afford time to the pirates, ifthey were so minded, to fortify themselves on shore, which would enablethem to hold out much better against us, as we should have both the fortand the ship to contend against.

  "That must not stop us," observed the captain; "we must take the shipfirst, and the fort afterwards."

  At last a few cat's-paws were seen playing over the water. Thedog-vanes blew out, and the breeze, fresh and pure from the ocean, beganto blow. The anchor was quickly got up; and the ship, at first standingclose-hauled to weather the point, glided on towards the main channel ofthe river. The bar, on which the water was unusually deep,--a fewslight rollers only coming in over it,--was safely passed, when we beganto stand up the stream. The shores on either hand were thickly coveredwith trees, forming impenetrable walls of foliage, and preventing usfrom seeing the country beyond, with the exception of some high hillswhich rose in the distance.

  The wind being light, and the current running out, we made but slowprogress; and before we got far up the river the wind again failed us,and we were compelled to come to an anchor. Had it not been for MrWorthy's report, we should have supposed that the ship was not there,and should probably have stood out to sea again, in the hope of fallingin with her elsewhere. As evening drew on, the hot land-breeze againblew down the river, which was here of considerable width.

  "I shouldn't be surprised if the pirate were to try to give us the slipafter all," observed Mudge. "We must keep a sharp look-out, so that wemay stop her should she make the attempt. I only hope she will, as itwill be more to our advantage to bring her to action under way, than tohave to attack her at anchor, with springs on her cables, and protectedby a fort which, if the fellows have any sense in their heads, they aresure to throw up."

  It was still daylight, and Peter and I were walking the deck, for it wasour watch; indeed, the midshipmen's berth not being the pleasantestplace in the world in that climate, we were seldom in it, except atmeal-times. I have not talked much about the heat, but the air, if nothotter, was more stifling in that river than we had felt it since wereached the coast. I was looking towards the nearest shore, off whichwe had brought up at the distance of scarcely a cable-length, when I sawa figure moving amid the trees. I pointed him out to Mudge. Presently,as he reached the bank, we saw that he was a black man, without aparticle of clothing on. Putting his hand to his mouth, he hailed, andthen waved vehemently, as if to attract our attention. Mudge sent me totell Mr Worthy; who at once ordered a boat to be lowered, and directedMudge to pull in to the shore, to ascertain what he wanted. The black,however, turning his head over his shoulder, either saw or heard theapproach of some one he wished to avoid, and plunging into the river,began to swim towards the ship. Mudge and I had jumped into the boat,and as we were approaching the shore to pick up the black I saw a darkfin rise just ahead of us. I told Mudge.

  "That's a brute of a shark!" he exclaimed, "and a big fellow too, andthe chances are he has poor Blackie for his supper."

  "Not if our voices can drive the monster away," I answered, horrified atthe thought of witnessing the destruction of a fellow-creature. "Shout!shout, all hands!"

  Mudge and I raised our voices, joined by the crew, who gave way withredoubled vigour. The black, who just then saw the shark coming, beganto splash and kick, and to shout pretty lustily. This was not the onlyperil to which he was exposed, for at the same moment several personsappeared among the trees, with muskets in their hands, and began to fireat him. Happily, one of the bullets aimed at him or at us struck thesavage shark, just as it was about to make a dash at him; and, eitherfrom the wound it had received, or frightened by our shouts, it suddenlyturned round, with a whisk of its tail, and darted away from Blackie.

  We immediately dashed on, in spite of the bullets. The black was closealongside, when I saw the monster's huge form gliding like lightningbeneath the surface; his head rising just as, with a violent jerk, wedrew the poor fellow into the boat. The disappointed brute made a grabat one of the oars in revenge, though he got nothing but a broken toothfor his pains.

  Without stopping to ask questions, Mudge put the boat round, and pulledaway for the ship, fortunately not one of us being hit, while the enemyin the bush quickly vanished. As soon as we were out of the line offire, one of the ship's guns, loaded with grape, was let fly at the spotfrom which the shots had come, and greatly contributed to the rapidretreat of Blackie's pursuers, whoever they were--at all events, ofthose of them who escaped being hit; but whether any were so, we couldnot tell. As soon as the boat got alongside, the black sprang on boardwith considerable activity, showing that he was none the worse for hisrun and subsequent swim. There he stood, naked as he was born; when anold quartermaster, a wag in his way, brought him a pair of ducktrousers, evidently considering that he was not fit, as he then stood,to appear on the quarter-deck of a British man-of-war. Blackie put themon with a grin, shook the water out of his woolly pate, and then, withan air of perfect self-possession, walked aft to where the commander andseveral of the other officers were standing.

  "Me Dicky Popo, please, sar," he said, giving a haul at his hair; "meloyal British subject--once serve His Majesty--but de niggerslave-catchers find me ashore, carry me off, and sell me to still biggerrascals. Dey ship me aboard wid oder slaves; and den a bigger rascalstill take de whole of us on board de _Sea-Hawk_ dere. I seed datsomefing was wrong when dey run up de river, and den I find out dat anEnglish ship chase dem, and come to an anchor inside de bar; den I tinkif I run away and get aboard English ship, I know I safe under datflag."

  As he spoke he pointed to the ensign blowing out from the flagstaffastern. Finding that Dicky Popo, as the black called himself,understood English pretty well, the commander questioned him further,and learned many more particulars about the ship we had just chased.She was the _Sea-Hawk_, belonging to Havana, fully as large as the_Heroine_, with as numerous a crew, and carrying two more guns than wedid; so that, if well fought, she would prove a formidable antagonist.She had already captured a vessel which had, Dicky Popo said, about ahundred and fifty slaves on board, and was waylaying another, when wesomewhat put out her arrangements, and obliged her to run up the veryriver in which the schooner she had intended to capture was lying. Thepirate, not telling the captain of the schooner of his intentions, hadpersuaded him to assist in defending his vessel in case they should beattacked. For this purpose they had both landed some of their men andguns; and he had also sent on shore the strongest among the slaves, toassist in throwing up fortifications. Dicky Popo, hearing that thecorvette had entered the river, took the opportunity, while so engaged,of slipping off, in the hope of getting on board; resolved, should heregain his liberty, to give us information of the preparations made forour reception.

  I liked the expression of Dick's countenance, and was certain from thefirst that he was an honest fellow. He had been kindly treated on boarda man-of-war in which he had served--having been rescued from slavery byher; and he was truly grateful to the English, and anxious practicallyto sh
ow his gratitude. I do not believe the person who talks of hisgrateful heart, when he takes no pains to exhibit it.

  The captain was in no way inclined to change his purpose on hearing ofthe preparations made by the slavers for their defence. "I know that Ican trust to our stout fellows, who will bravely do their duty; whileour rascally enemies are fighting with halters round their necks," heobserved to Mr Worthy.

  "No doubt about that, sir," was the answer; "and I hope that it will nottake us long to capture the pirate, in spite of the battery on shore,and the assistance the slave-schooner may give her."

  Soon after Dicky Popo had made his appearance on deck, night came on.Notwithstanding the preparations the pirates had been making for theirdefence, the commander expressed his opinion that they might try to slipby us and get out to sea during the darkness, rather than wait ourattack in the river. A sharp look-out was therefore kept, the anchorwas hove short, and the watch below lay down on deck, so as to be readyto make sail at a moment's notice. A boat was also sent some way aheadto row guard, and bring us early information should either of thevessels be seen coming down. We knew, of course, that the pirates wereaware of our exact position, but they could not tell that a boat wasalso watching for them.

  The greater part of the night passed by quietly. The middle watch hadnearly come to an end when the boat's oars were heard, and she shortlyafter dashed up alongside. "The ship is coming down, and will beabreast of us in a few minutes," said the officer in command. "She wasshortening sail when we caught sight of her, and she hopes to escapebeing seen by dropping past us under bare poles."

  On hearing this, the captain gave the order to make sail; and slippingour cable with a buoy to it, so that we might easily pick it up, westood towards the centre of the river. In another minute we caughtsight of the tall masts of the pirate, gliding down with the current,not many cable-lengths off. It was impossible for her to return; andshould she bring up, we might sail round her and fire at her at ourleisure. On discovering us (which she must have done some time before,as we, being under sail, must have been seen before we could make herout), she had begun to set her canvas. That availed her but little,however, as we now had her within range of our guns; which, the captaingiving the order, began firing away as rapidly as they could be run inand loaded. She immediately fired in return from her foremost guns, theonly ones which for some minutes could be brought to bear on us, as wewere, it will be understood, standing across the river directly ahead ofher. Her sails being let fall, she soon got abreast of us; when we wentabout, and passing directly under her stern, so closely that I thoughtwe were going to run her aboard, fired the whole of our broadside intoher; we during the operation having received only two or three shots,which did no material damage. Shrieks and cries arose from her deck,proving the fearful havoc produced by our raking fire; while severalhalyards and braces having been shot away on board her, and only part ofher canvas having been set, we again kept away, speedily got upalongside her, and poured in another well-directed broadside. Shereturned a feeble fire; many of her crew at the guns having been, we hadthus good reason to suppose, killed or disabled by our shot. We, havingall our canvas set, were running ahead of her, the captain intending toluff across her bows, and to pour in another raking fire, when we hearda voice from her forecastle shouting, in broken English, "We give in--wehaul down flag--don't fire, don't fire!"

  "Let go your anchor, then, and bring up, or I'll not trust you," shoutedthe captain.

  The sound of voices in loud altercation now reached us, some apparentlycrying out one thing, and some another, in Spanish; while we weresteering so as to keep on the weather bow of the pirate.

  "Stand by,--brace up the yards," cried the captain in a loud voice, sothat the Spaniards might hear him. "Do you yield, or I fire?" heshouted.

  "Yes, yes," answered a voice.

  Immediately the sheets were let fly, and the splash of the anchor andthe sound of the cable running out reached our ears above the hubbubstill going forward on deck, when the ship slowly swung round to thecurrent. We immediately hauled our wind, and having good way, wentabout and shot up abreast of our opponent, whom we thus had completelyin our power.

  As soon as we had furled sails, two boats were lowered; Mr Worthy goingin command of one, and Peter Mudge of the other, the crews beingwell-armed. As I was the midshipman of the lieutenant's boat, Iaccompanied him.

  No opposition was offered, though no assistance was given, to us, as wegot alongside. We quickly, however, scrambled up on deck, which, by thelight of several lanterns carried by the men, presented an appearancesuch as I had never before pictured to myself. The first step I made,my foot slipped and I nearly fell. On the light falling on the spot, Ifound that I was literally standing in blood. Twenty or more humanforms lay stretched out motionless, while others were gathered round themasts or leaning against the guns, endeavouring to bind up their wounds.One group stood aft in sullen silence awaiting our coming, while theremainder of the crew were collected forward. By their dress we sawthat most of those aft were officers.

  "Where is the captain of this ship?" asked Lieutenant Worthy.

  One of them pointed to a body which lay between two of the guns, withpart of the chest and one of the arms carried away.

  "Poor wretch!" observed the lieutenant. "He will not then have toanswer to us for his misdeeds. And are you the officer in command?"

  The man to whom he spoke bowed his head, and, advancing, presented hissword.

  "Take his weapon," said the lieutenant, turning to one of the men; "anddisarm all the rest. I shall not receive the sword of a pirate, as ifhe were a naval officer."

  The whole of the party were quickly disarmed, and by the lieutenant'sorders our men then lashed their arms behind them. Peter Mudge with hisboat's crew had, in the meantime, made their way along the slippery deckforward, when he treated the men collected there in the same fashion.Mr Worthy then hailed the corvette, and begged that the surgeons mightbe sent on board to attend to the wounded; and those who appeared to beofficers were lowered into the boat which brought them, to be conveyedto the ship for safe keeping.

  While the surgeons were hurriedly binding up the limbs of the woundedmen, we were engaged in collecting the dead bodies, that they might behove overboard. On counting them, we found that five-and-twenty hadbeen killed outright; and one by one, after the surgeon had examinedthem, they were thrown into the water through the ports.

  "Here's another fellow, sir, who seemed just now as dead as a door-nail;but as I was dragging him along the deck he began to sing out, and toswear by all the saints that he was alive and kicking; and, faith, thatsame he was, for I had a hard matter to keep hold of his legs. He'squiet enough now, though; and for the life of me I can't tell whether hewas after speaking the truth or not."

  This address was made by Paddy Doyle, an Irish top-man, to the surgeonwho was examining the bodies before they were hove overboard. Thesurgeon, thus appealed to, went to the man. "He seems to be unhurt, andis still breathing," he remarked. "By his dress he appears to be anofficer. Throw some water in his face; and keep a watch over him,Doyle, when he comes to, as I have no doubt that he soon will. I mustlook after the other wretches."

  The dead having been disposed of, and the unwounded prisoners placedunder a guard, the wounded were carried into the large and handsomecabin--which, however, could not afford accommodation for all of them;the rest were therefore placed, with such spare bedding as could befound, on the upper slave-deck.

  By the time these arrangements were made, it was nearly daylight. Aprize crew of twenty men was left on board the _Sea-Hawk_, with theassistant-surgeon to look after the wounded, the second lieutenantcoming on board to take command of them. I was thankful to be orderedto return to the corvette, for I was heartily sick of the scene I hadwitnessed.

  Just as I was going over the side, I heard Paddy Doyle singout,--"Arrah! my dead man's come to life again! Bear a hand, and helpme to haul him in;" and looking ba
ck, I saw that the Irishman's prisonerhad jumped up, and was endeavouring to spring through a port--havingwatched the moment that Paddy's back was turned on him. Paddy hadseized one of his legs, and was tugging away with might and main; whilethe Spaniard, with his other foot on the port-sill, had nearly effectedhis purpose, notwithstanding the Irishman's desperate efforts to preventhis escape. "Arrah! now he's done it!" exclaimed Doyle, holding up theSpaniard's shoe and a piece of his trousers which had come away in hishand.

  The man, who was evidently a good swimmer, and had been trusting to thisfor escape, was striking out at a rapid rate for the shore.

  "Give way after him!" cried Lieutenant Worthy to Mudge, who was in theboat on the opposite side to that from which the pirate had escaped.

  The boat shoved off, but had to pull ahead of the ship. It was not tillthen that Mudge could see the swimmer, who had already made considerableprogress towards the shore. I jumped into the rigging to watch him.Should he once land, and get in among the thick trees, he might effecthis purpose. Possibly he expected to find friends to assist him.

  He was still some way ahead of the boat, when I caught a momentaryglimpse of the dark fin of a shark. It disappeared, and the nextinstant a piercing shriek rent the air; the pirate threw up his arms,and sank beneath the surface! Then the boat pulled round and returnedto the ship.

  Just as I got on board the corvette, a loud sound of tom-toms and hornswas heard from the upper part of the river, and presently a fleet oflarge canoes appeared paddling rapidly towards us. It seemed scarcelypossible that they should venture to attack an English man-of-war; andyet, from the gestures of their crews, and the way they came on, suchappeared to be their intention. Possibly they had heard the firing,and, taught to believe the _Sea-Hawk_ the most powerful ship afloat,supposed that she had gained the victory. On discovering, however, thatshe was anchored astern of us, they ceased paddling; then after a shortinterval regaining courage, they again came on, shrieking and shoutingand beating their tom-toms louder than ever, to intimidate us beforethey attempted to board.

  "Fire a shot over their heads," said the commander. "It will show theignorant savages that we are not to be trifled with."

  Scarcely had the gun been discharged, when the canoes were seen paddlingaway as fast as their black crews could urge them on, each endeavouringas soon as possible to get out of the range of our shot; and in a littletime they had disappeared behind the point which had before concealedthem from us.

  We had still another task to perform--the capture or destruction of theslave-schooner of which Dicky Popo had told us. As the navigation ofthe river was intricate and dangerous above where we lay, the commander,unwilling to risk the safety of the ship, resolved to send up the boats,notwithstanding the assistance which the canoes might be expected toafford her. Three were accordingly sent away under the command of MrWorthy, with whom I went; the pinnace having a six-pounder in the bows,and the others being armed with swivels. We soon came in sight of thecanoes, with the schooner at anchor some distance beyond them. A shotfrom our six-pounder quickly sent them paddling away up the stream.Popo, who had been taken in our boat to point out where the battery hadbeen thrown up, directly afterwards exclaimed,--"Dere!--dere it is!"

  Scarcely had he spoken, when a shot came whizzing over our heads. Atour lieutenant's orders, the boats' heads were immediately turnedtowards the battery, when, our gun being fired at it, we rapidly pulledon. We quickly reached the bank; and the lieutenant, whose example Iimitated, leaped on shore, calling to the small-arm men to follow him.In a few seconds we were scrambling into the battery, the Spaniards andblacks who had just before been in it making their escape helter-skelterinto the thick wood behind it. A few of the white men--who, to do themcredit, were the last to run--were shot or cut down, but the greaternumber made their escape,--our lieutenant wisely not allowing us tofollow. Five guns found in the battery were spiked, upon which weimmediately re-embarked and pulled away towards the schooner.

  We had not got many fathoms from the shore, however, when a thick smokewas seen issuing from her hatches, followed by flames which burst outfrom every part. We pulled on, in the hope of being able to extinguishthem; for she appeared to be a remarkably fine vessel, and would haveproved a prize worth capture. Before we got up to her, however, thelieutenant ordered the men to back their oars. And not too soon. Theboats had still some way on them, when up went the masts and deck of theschooner, numerous fragments falling close around us. The flames ragedfuriously for a few minutes longer, after which the hull of thelightly-built vessel, shattered by the explosion, sank beneath thesurface. What had become of the unfortunate slaves we could not tell;but it was to be hoped, for the sake of humanity, that all had beenlanded. One thing was very certain,--that we should be unable tocapture any of them should we land, as they would all have been drivenup into the interior. We therefore pulled back to the ship; and thebreeze blowing strongly down the river, she and our prize were got underway, and we stood towards its mouth.

  The water on the bar being tolerably smooth, we got out withoutdifficulty, and shortly afterwards sighted a sail beating up towards theland. She was made out to be a frigate, and proved to be that of thecommodore on the station, who had also heard of the pirate, and was cometo look for her. He complimented our commander on his conduct in theaffair, and, greatly to our satisfaction, relieved us of our prisoners,as also of the charge of our prize, directing us to proceed on ourvoyage to the westward.

  Dicky Popo, who had been entered on board, remained with us, and becamea great favourite both with officers and men.

  It was not till long afterwards that I heard of the fate of the_Sea-Hawk_ and the survivors of her piratical crew.