Chapter 174015172

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Chapter NumberXXXV
Chapter TitleA WOMAN'S DESPAIR.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article174015172
Full Date1899-10-19
Page Number9
Corrections0
Word Count3432
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Macleay Chronicle (Kempsey, NSW : 1899 - 1952)
Trove TitleThe Last of the Pirates; Or Doom Driven. A Romance of the End of Ocean Outlawry
article text

the Last of the Pirates ;. -? . OB, DOOM DBXVBlff,

A Romance of the End of Ocean Outlawry,*

Bv Col. Prentiss InorahaM, Author of 'Merle the Mutineer,' Sic.,&c.

1 CHAPTER XXXV. A WOMAN'S DESPAIR.

Basil Barton was almost 'a changed man after his interview with Celeste. Had she stormed at him,' upbraided him, and told him that she hated him, then he would have met her with scorn and indifference. But her forgivenness of him, not a word of censure falling from her lips, almost unmanned him. At first he tried to believe that she was treacherous,

playing a part for revenge, as the poor Cuban girl had done. But this thought he was soon compelled to dismiss. fie rose from his kneeling posture by her, and ordered breakfast served for them. Neither ate much, and at last he made an excuse to go on deck. He was glad to escape from her presence. His men saw that his manner was subdued, and those who had their suspicions that the ringleader of the plot to betray him and his vessel was really a woman, thought that the idea of his having put her to death haunted their chief. Ponce had been sent at once for the woman's kit, and had it been looked over by others, the truth would have come out that Basil the Bucca neer had hanged a woman. Sailors are very superstitious, and those on board the Spiteful were no exception to the rule. They wished to feel that the three who had gone up to the yard-arttt were men, as ill fortune would certainly follow them, had one been the girl she claimed to be. Seeing tbat his men seemed to feel his humour, Basil cast it off, and his voice rung through the schooner with stern orders. The kits of the three ' traitors ' were thrown into the sea, and a bright look-out was ordered to be kept for any prize. What the result of Celeste's fainting had been, the crew could only, con jeciure, for not even Lieutenant Marco had had the temerity to go near the companion-way, so that he could overhear what had taken place in the cabin. During the afternoon a vessel 'was sighted, and three hours after was captured. She proved to be a richly freighted Spaniard, and the most valuable part of her cargo was quickly transferred to the hold of the Spiteful, and, for the sake of Celeste, the crew and vessel were allowed to go upon their way. During the night two vessels were sighted, and the Spitelul was found to be directly in between them. Captain Basil was called on deck, at once pronounced them to be Spanish cruisers, and set off in flight, edging towards the smaller of the two. It was a perilous trap to be in, and a critical time; but the nerve and ' skill of the buccaneer chief extricated his vessel, and pursuit was checked by a well-aimed shot that cut away the foremast of the fleeter of the two

With this escape, and the prize, the crew decided tha( the one claiming to be the woman could not have been so, but her brother, as their captain had said, for surely his luck had not, deserted him. ; But, though Basil quickly got back his wonted spirits, Celeste seemed unable to do so. She was very affec tionate, greeted Basil with a smile, (hough one that was as sad as tears, and seemed to try to be happy. But her every effort was a dismal failure. Her -heart had received its death wound, and her buoyant spirit was broken. And so the days made weeks, and the weeks months, until nearly a year had gone by. Basil the Buccaneer had grown more and more stern as Celeste's face saddened. His fortune clung to him, for prize alter prize was taken ; he boldly entered West Indian and South American ports, and got rid of his pirate booty. His crew feared him, yet admired and were attached to him. He fought off cruisers when attacked, and seemed half as willing to fight a foe as to run from him. But all this time Celeste was fading away. He sought to have her go ashore and live at some secluded place, where she would regain her health. But she refused to leave him. ' I will remain with you, Basil, to the end,' was her reply. She seemed to be suffering from no disease, but simply to be fading away like a flower. Her heart was broken, and she was slowly but surely dying. One night she was standing upon deck, gazing out over the moonlit waters. The schooner was in the Mexican Gulf, cruising slowly under a tour-knot breeze, and the air was balmy and soothing, The crew were forward, several of them singing some touching melody, and Basil the Bucca neer was in the cabin, looking over Mis gains, as he called the sales of his piratical booty. The singing of the men forward touched Celeste deeply. ? The four seamen who were singing had fine voices, and their comrades were all silent, listening as though under a spell. Perhaps it carried them back through their wicked lives and touched their consciences. It fell upon the heart of poor Celeste like a death-knell. She trembled

violently and tried to be calm, but without avail. The song ceased, but only for a moment, when the voices broke forth with another ballad. By a strange fatality, it was a song which she had often heard Loyd Barton sing. It carried her back to her girlhood, her maidenhood, and the mask seemed to drop from her face and heart. It was honour and true manhood that she had really loved, not the semblance of them, and she felt that she had been under a spell of fascination— that Loyd Barton was her ideal and idol. Like an over whelming avalanche, the thought of Jill that she had lost rushed upon her, and with a wild, despairing shriek, she sprung into the sea. Basil the Buccaneer sprung to bis feet as that shriek rung in his ears, and, dashing on deck, heard the fatal words : 1 The senora sprung into the sea, senor, and Ponce has gone after her. See, there is her white dress upon that wave !' Overboard he went, and, with a few strong strokes, reached the drowning woman. He took her in his arms, and swam towards the boat, which nad been quickly lowered, for the schooner had been promptly brought to. Into the boat she was tenderly taken, and soon she was in the cabin. But, though her eyes were fixed upon him in recognition, Celeste never spoke again, but, with a shudder, breathed her last And as she did so, a cry was heard on deck : ' It is the boy ! See, he has sunk from sight 1' It was true, for in the excitement poor Ponce had been forgotten, and he had failed to regain the vessel. And so the outlawed vessel 'sailed on her way, heading for the land, to there bury the remains of the pirate's bride, while deep down into his grave beneath the sea sunk poor Ponce, the Cuban boy, who had bravely lost his life in striving to save poor Celeste. CHARTER XXXVI. THE RESCUE, AND A MYSTERY. In the harbour of a seaporl.-situated upon an island of the West Indies, a vessel-of-war was lying at anchor. At the peak fluttered the Stars and Stripes, and about her there was everything to' show the trim, welt disciplined American cruiser. Among a hundred other vessels in the harbour was a schooner, lying a few cable-lengths away from the cruiser, and upon which the eyes of several officers on the deck of the latter were resting. The schooner was as shapely a craft as ever sailed the seas, and though having the ap pearance of a trader, was certainly handsome enough for an armed cutter. The Stars and Stripes also floated at her peak; and her decks looked clean, and all about her' ship-shape. .- The officers upon the American vessel-of-war were discussing the schooner with some animation, for their sailor eyes had at once dis covered her beauty of model, and the rake and taper of her lofty masts. - She's too neat for a trader,' said a senior lieutenant. ' Yes, sir, and I only wish Uncle Sam had her with a good battery and crew on board,' a midshipman re sponded. ' She is saucy enough looking to have a suspicious look.' ? But her colours protect her from suspicion, even in these waters, for were she flying the Spanish flag, Por tuguese, Brazilian, or Peruvian, I would be suspicious of her indeed,' remarked a junior lieutenant. Then the eyes of all turned from the pretty schooner to an inky cloud that had suddenly appeared, rising like magic almost from the sea. ' All hands ahoy to strip ship for gale 1' rung out the order ; and the topmasts were housed, sails closely furled, a second anchor let go, and the cruiser was ready for the tempest within ten minutes. In those latitudes a hurricane arises with wondrous rapidity, and it could be seen that the black cloud was spreading, and threatened mischief. The various vessels in the harbour, following the example of the cruiser, stripped for the gale, but in a lubberly way in comparison, excepting the pretty schooner. Her crew went to work with the alertness and discipline of man-of-war's men, and won the admiration of the officers and seamen i of the cruiser. ! 'There comes Randolph's boat!' suddenly called out the lieutenant; and he pointed to where a boat from ? the vessel-of-war was discerned under I sail, heading out from the town. { ' He should not have started in the j teeth of this coming tempest,' said one. ' The land shut it from his sight, sir, and he does not yet see ib from where he is,' came the reply. ? That is so ; but seeing the vessels all stripping will give him warning/ 1 But he must come on now, unless he runs to the schooner, Jor shelter until the blow is over.''*1 lieutenant Randolph will come on, Tor he has no fear, and I only'

hope he will reach us — no, it is too late!' As the officer spoke there came a sound in the air as of. a thousand wings, and the tempest was upon them. The little boat, one from the cruiser, and containing an officer, coxswain, and four oarsmen, had up a small leg-of-mutton sail. Under the in creasing wind it was driving swiftly along, and her course lay direct for the cruiser, the boat having stood off on an outer tack so as : to reach the vessel when she should head towards it after going about. This course' would carry tier very -near the schooner, and it might be that the officer in command of the boat would run to her for succour. But whatever his intention had been, the tornado took him unawares, for, sweeping down from the clcuds upon him, the boat was seized with terrific force and hurled bottom upwards into the maelstrom which the tempest wrought in an instant of time. The young officer had not time to even give an order to his men, when he was thrown into the water, and an oar dashed against his head with a force that stunned him. Driven before the fury of the tem pest, the shattered boat, pars, and men were being swept by the schooner, when suddenly a commanding voice shouted : ' Now follow me, men 1' Into the wild waters from the schooner sprung half a dozen forms, with Topes lashed about their waists, and the young officer was seized by one as he was driving by. It was the one who had given the order for them to spring into the sea. The officer was conscious, but dazed, and could not help himself. But strong arms held him, and strong hands hauled in on the ropes, and the rescuer and Tescued were dragged on board the schooner. ' The coxswain and three men gone; but Heaven bless you for our lives,' said a seaman, as he saw that two of those in the boats had not been saved. Into the cabin the rescuer of the young officer aided him, and at once set about doing all he could to serve him, for the blow on the head had been a severe one, and blood was flowing freely from a gash over his ear. From the deck of the cruiser the fate of the boat and the gallant rescue had been seen, and a cheer went up from officers and crew. Then the tempesf was upon them, and the schooner was shut out from view. For half an hour the tornado swept over the harbour, lashing the waves into fury, and bringing a darkness like unto night. The. good ship tugged savagely at her anchors, rolled and pitched, and the wind howled like shrieking demons through the rigging. But fortunately the tornado was too furious to last long. The clouds blew over, and sunlight came once more, and the winds lulled rapidly. A glance over the harbour showed that the vessels there had many of them been hard hit by the tornado. Some had been driven ashore, others had been capsized, many had draggi d their anchors, while a few, like the American cruiser, had remained firmly at their anchors and suffered no damage. A sigh of relief came from many lips when they saw the dark clouds roll by, beheld the bright sunshine come out once more, and saw the blackness which had rested for awhile upon the sea and land pass away. Then the gaze of all on board the cruiser turned towards the schooner to see how she had ridden out the gale. She was not there I A cry of alarm went tip in a chorus from a hundred throats at sight of this. Had the beautiful craft foundered? Had she been capsized and sunk, with all on board P The shore was searched to see if she had been driven upon it. Every vessel was conned over to see if she was not among them. An officer of the cruiser, the senior lieutenant, Rodney Ran dolph, was known to have been picked up by the schooner's crew, and thus double interest was felt in the pretty craft and her fate. Officers and men looked at each other in alarm, and over the minds of the more supeistitious a feeling of dread began to steal, for the mysteri ous disappearance of the schooner was beyond ihcir knowledge to solve. CHAPTER XXXVII. THE STRANGE SCHOONER. ' There is the schooner I See !' The cry fairly burst in a yell from the lips of a midshipman on board the United States vessel-of-war at anchor in the little harbour of an island in the West Indies. . When the tempest had swept over, leaving wreck and destruction in its wake, and the pretty schooner was nowhere visible in the harbour, a feeling of deep sadness had fallen upon, the officers and crew, for Lieutenant Rodney Randolph, next in rank to their captain, was a favorite with all on board. A handsome, dashing fellow, brave as a lion, a skilful officer, and devoted to the interests of his men, no man in the navy was more highly regarded, and a gloom had come upon the cruiser's crew when it was believed that he bad, after being wrecked in the boat, gone down in the schooner, whose men had rescued him. But the eyes of all had been search ing the harbour shore and waters, and not until the midshipman glanced seaward and beheld the vessel rushing back into port from seaward, did any one think of looking ocean ward. But the cry ol the middy turned every eye out to sea. There, coming back through the channel, was the | schooner, sure enough. She was

under single-reefed sail, and standing up well under the pressure of the wind, still quite strong. The sea 'without was very wild, and the waves ran high where the schooner was ; but she did not seem to mind them, and came on like a frightened racehorse. Her topmasts ffetetoughly housed, her bowsprit, whlcff. was very long, had been drawn inboard over half its length, and_ ;jwith forestay sail, .iojie^i/;^£^KMi»ul, all +- single reefed, Tshe was coming along it i terrific speed. :-*;w Straight into the harbour she ran, and when near her former anchorage bore around as though on a pivot, and when her sharp -bows pointed directly into the wind's eye, the anchors were let fall and sail lowered with a quickness and skill that won . the admiration of the cruiser's men. Soon after a boat was lowered from its davits, and, in spite of the still rough waters, headed towards the cruiser. ' There was considerable excitement on the cruiser as Lieutenant Randolph was seen to be in the stern, while the keen eye of the middy, who had dis covered the schooner coming in from seaward, also saw that there were two of the boat's crew missing. 'The others must be on board, Midshipman Vancourtj* sa'd bis superior officer. ' A coxswain and four men went ashore with Lieutenant Randolph, sir, and but three besides the lieutenant are in yonder coming boat, at least of our crew,' said the middy, confidently. ' You are right, for I see but three besides Randolph,' the officer re marked, after turning his glass a moment upon the coming boat.' ' The coxswain and one of the sea men are missing, sir,' Midshipman Vaucourt said. ' Perhaps* they have been left ashore.' ' No, sir, for there were six in the boat when the tornado swamped it.' ' Then the two must be lost.1 So all decided, and gloom rested 'upon every face. ' Yes,' replied the lieutenant, who had his glass to his eye. ' I recognise Randolph distinctly, and he is hatless and has his handkerchief tied about his head. The coxswain is not there, nor one of the men, and the other three belong to the schooner, the man at the helm being doubtless the skipper of the craft, and a fine-looking fellow he is too.' * He sails his boat well, sir,1 said Midshipman Vancourt, as be saw the coming boat so well managed in the rough waters. ' He does indeed, and he keeps his two men at the sheet-ropes, ready to obey the slightest bidding.' ' But how did the schooner get out to sea ?' This question seemed to puzzle all. ' Doubtless ripped her cables and run out in the blow. In fact, she surely did so, for how else could she have gotten to sea ? It was a risky thing to do. Her skipper is a thorough sailor, that is certain. I hope he is the one at the helm of the boat, bringing Lieutenant Randolph and bis men home.' 'Yes, I should like to meet him, for a gallant fellow he certainly is.' ~ Thus the conversation went around the group, while the schooner's boat drew nearer and nearer. At length, when she was but a ship's-length away, and running for the lee of the cruiser, the lieutenant in command called out : ' Three cheers, lads, all, for the schooner, her gallant skipper and crew !' The cheers were given with a will, and a moment after the boat was alongside, and the lieutenant and his men scrambled on board. ? You will not come on board, Captain Barton ?' 'No, thank you, Lieutenant Ran dolph.' 4 Well, then, au revoir, for we'll see you before long, for my brother officers and self will board you in force to-morrow to pay our respects.' ' Ay, ay, sir ; you will be most welcome ;' and the speaker raised his cap, the boat swung off,. and as it went dashing away towards the schooner, the crew of the cruiser again gave its. gallant commander three hearty cheers. He turned his face, raised his cap, and sped on in silence, while Rodney Randolph received the congratulations of his brother officers upon his narrow escape. * To Be Continued.