|Chapter Title||THE SLAVER'S RUSE.|
|Newspaper Title||The Macleay Chronicle (Kempsey, NSW : 1899 - 1952)|
|Trove Title||The Last of the Pirates; Or Doom Driven. A Romance of the End of Ocean Outlawry|
The Last of the Pirates; oaa» ; - DOOM X»H.I-V3EiaV,
A Romance of the Find of Ocean Outlaw*^*
By Col. Pbentiss Jngraham, Author of ' Merle the Mutineer,' &c, Sic.
CHAPTER XVII. THE SLAVER'S SITSR.
With the startling words of the pretended captive of the Man Huntcrs, that he feared he had de-_ iayed his retreat too long, Rodney Randolph grasped the hand of Basil Barton and hastily moved off after his men.
The young slaver stood in 'the shadow of the thicket, watching the retreating lorms of the sailors, until they had faded from view, and then , he said aloud ; . * It is better so. 1 1 am an American, and, wicked as my life is growing, I would not let those. demons kill my countrymen. ' Without sacrificing those poor fellows, and that daring - young officer, I have accomplished my purpose ; for he will report to the brig's commander that there are no slavers in the river, no cargo of slaves in tbe corrals awaiting to be shipped to Cuba. ' The brig will leave the mouth of the river and sail to the vicinity of the Red din's, hoping to aid me and my pretended fellow-captives to escape from a cruel captivity. ' Then the Sea Venus can run out, and all will be well. 1 It is better so.' So saying, he turned away from the thicket, and walked slowly across the plain. Passing over a slight ridge, he came to a horse fastened to a small bush, and mounting him, he con tinued on further inland. It was not very long before he came to a desert camp. A score of horsemen were lying upon the ground, while their horses, fastened to their long spears stuck into the ground, were grouped in a circle near them. Several arose as the young slaver approached, and one said, in fair English : ' Did the master see the white dogs ? Were they not at the thicket, as your guide said ?' ' I -saw them not, for they had retreated. They had become afraid,' and returned to their vessel,' said Basil, in response to the guide and interpreter, who had reported to him two hours before, he having gone ahead, that tbe party of armed men were making towards the very thicket where he had seen them. ? Ah ! they fear to come further, and run like frightened dogs of the desert. But our horses are fleet and we can catch them,' said the inter-' preter, who was very anxious to kill an American, it seemed. ' No, we cannot follow them, for I must return to my vessel and be ready to run 'but If they have gone back we need not fear them.'
No. 15. — A blow full in the fact from the fist ? of Basil felled him to the ground.
The Man-Hunter did not like this, and he showed it ; but a blow full in the face from the fist of Basil, which felled him to the ground — [See Picture 15] — quickly silenced bis grumbling and cowed him com pletely, tor he saw that the young sailor knew just how to.'dea! with him. The Man-Hunters were upon their feet in an instant, but nnheeding their ?movements, Basil gave the order to mount, and the. interpreter quickly repeating it, they obeyed, for they felt' that they could not afford to quarrel with a slaver who brought them gold in return for their black captives. The young sailor had beard Captain Corti tell of how to deal with the Man-Hunters, and his first experience in that way had con vinced him that the Spaniard was right, and he muttered to himself : 1 They are but a cowardly set of curs, after all.' Back to the river he wended his way, the'wild lot of Man-Hunters following him, and it was just breakfast time when he boarded the Sea Venus and joined Captain Corti in the cabin. 'Well, my young friend, I am glad to see you back again I' cried the Spaniard. ? ' And I am glad to get back, sir, ? I assure you.'
Well, whatjuck ?? ' It you mean my luck, senor, how many men we have killed, I have had no luck.' 'You did not find the American invaders then ?' anxiously asked the Spaniard; and ere an answer was given, he continued : 'If you have missed them, they have struck tbe river at another point, and have doubtlts gone back to
r ? ? ._???._ - report, so we may expect the brigof war upon us by night.' . ' No, sir, they have gone back, and upon their reaching their vessel she will sail for Red Cliffs, which you pointed but to me down the coast on our way here.' * But how know you this, Basil ?' ? Captain Corti, you may perhaps be angry at what I have done ; but I hope not, sir, when you hear all.' ' Oome, out with it, senor,' ' I led the Man-Hunters to a point some seven leagues away and halted, as I had sent the guide and inter preter on ahead.
' He returned, and.reported that the party were moving in a direct line for a thicket, as though to rest there, and, leaving tbe men, I proceeded to the spot. ' I hitched my horse over a ridge out of sight, crept near, and came upon the officer of the party, who was standing guard, while his men slept.1 ' You did not kill him ?' ' Oh, no, senor, but I told him I was a captive of the Man-Hunters, who were in large force, and also had several of my companions, who, with myself, had been wrecked on tbe coast some time before. ' I told him that I had been sent out to reconnoitre, and that he must at once retreat. ' He urged me to go with him. I said I would not leave my comrades, but, as we knew there was an American vessel off the coast, we would try and escape, two nights (rom last night, and Teach the shore at the Red Cliffs. ' He said the brig would go there to meet us, and then I urged his hasty retreat. ' He did so, and thus I got the brig out of our way, so that we can run out, and did not have to massacre men, whose death might bring to this part of the coast a number of cruisers, and thwart our future success. 1 1 cannot blame you, senor, but must admit that you acted wisely. But had these men been — well, say Spaniards, you might not have been so merciful to them.' ' Perhaps - not, senor. But they were my countrymen, and I was merciful,' was the frank response. * Again I say I do not censure you, senor. But did the officer not ask about there being-slavers in the river ?' ' Oh, yes, sir : and I told him there had been, but a slaver had carried off the cargo of blacks, and the camps had been abandoned.' 1 Good ! Now, as soon as you have breakfasted, send a runner down to watch if the brig departs (or down the coast, and then we'll get our cargo aboard and be ready to run out.' ' Yes, senor.' ' And no better cargo of blacks ever went out of Africa on a slaver, Senor Basil, than the seven hundred that we will carry with us.' And the eye of the Spanish slaver brightened at the thought ol the golden harvest he would reap when he had landed the poor wretches in Ouba. CHAPTER XVIH. THE DESERT KING. Off the African coast a brig-of-war was lying-to. It was night, and yet the stars shone brightly and gave considerable light, so that her rig was seen to be American. Along the shore half-a-dozen boats, with muffled oars, pulled slowly to and fro on regular ' beats,' and keep ing about half a mile apart.
The shore was wild in the extreme, and a bold cliff, which in daylight had a red hue, cast a shadow on the waters. To and fro the boats pulled, and the eyes of those in them were strained in watching the shore, their ears on alert^or ihe slightest sound. But no sound broke the desolation of the scene, other than the roar of the surf as it fell in lazy waves upon the beach, or beat against 'the cliff. Thus the hours passed away, until just before dawn a roar like mimic thunder was heard, and the waning moon, just rising, cast its glimmering light upon the form of a huge lion that stood upon the cliff gazing out upon the sea. It was a desert king, and he had scented the presence of human beings. 1 1 will go ashore and try for that grand beast, for fortunately I have my rifle with me,' said an officer in the boat nearest the cliff. ' It is a big risk, Lieutenant Ran dolph,' a miody responded. 1 1 shall take it, for it will be a feather in my cap to kill a lion, and that looks the largest of his species.' ' Does not his presence on the cliff, sir, seem to indicate that no human being is near ?' asked the middy. ' It Certainly does, and I fear that that noble fellow who saved us from death two nights ago, and his party, will be. unable to meet us.' ' I hope not, sir, for it must be a fearful thing to be the captives of these Desert Robbers ;' and as he spoke the middy, who had the tiller, called to the men : 'Way 'nought* The oarsmen ceased rowing, for the boat had been going shoreward, and a moment after they sprung out and made a safe landing through the surf. Instantly Rodney Randolph grasped bis rifle, which he had brought on the cruise with him, hoping for a chance at some big game, and fortunately had with him in the boat, expecting that they might have a brush witb the
Man-Hunters, if they pursued their captures, for he had no reason to doubt the well-concocted story told him by« .Basil Barton. V The lion still kept his stand -Upon' the cliff, and in defiance uttered another savage roar that made, the men stand close to the boat, ready to put out through the surf again should he take a Urocy to stroll along the beach.* But Rodney Randolph was a gallant huntsman, ._???._ .;,': ;'?%??', His early life had been passed upon a plantation in the South, and he had: often hunted bear, deer, and panther when but a boy. . : - Now lie thirsted for a chance to kill a ' king ol beasts.' Slowly up the cliff he made his way, his rifle ready for the loe, and his pair of pistols in his belt, should the former fail him. He knew that he risked death ; but he loved danger for the excitement it gave, and was a man of indomitable pluck and nerve.
The lion stood gazing out over the moonlit sea, seemingly curiously regarding the brig, a mile distant, and the partrolling boats a few hundred yards away. He was switching his tail nervously from side *o side, and yet otherwise stood like a statue.
No. 16. — Two pistol-shots rung out, and the monarch of beasts fell almost at the feet of his destroyer.
When Lieutenant Randolph reached the cliff, be was just about seventy yards from the desert king. He saw that the lion had not yet discovered him, and he raised his rifle to fire. ' 1 don't wish to be an assassin, so I will at least give him warning,' said the plucky young naval officer, levelling his rifle. ' I will give the desert king fair warning.' Then he stood ready, and gave a loud, ringing hallo. The desert king did not start at the presence of a mortal enemy. He merely turned his head in a most dignified manner and regarded the officer for a moment, as if with calm contempt. ' The middy and the beat's crew could see both tbe hunter and his game from where they stood upon the beach below. The occupants of tbe partrolling boats also beheld what was going on, and while the men rested upon their oars all eyes were turned upon the daring officer and the lion. The moon was now some distance above the horizon, and in that latitude the light was most brilliant, so that all within a radius of half a mile could be distinctly seen. To the surprise and horror of the watchers, Rodney Randolph, with his rifle ready, walked slowly towards the lion. The tail of the beast began to switch more rapidly, and opening his capacious mouth he sent forth an appalling roar of defiance. Then he dropped upon his haunches, as though ready for a spring upon the daring man who was advancing upon him so fearlessly. . It was a fearful moment for tbe lookerB-on, and yet none dared call to the lieutenant to come back. He had not hesitated in his advance, at that fearful roar, and still kept steadily on Nearer and nearer, until another roar broke from the savage jaws, and then quick as a flash the rifle went up to the shoulder, a stream of flame shot from the muzzle, and the report rung out upon the air. With a wild roar, ending almost in a shriek, the lion sprung towards his foe, when again there came a shot, this time irom a pistol, and then another from tbe brave sailor, who did not move from his position. He had dared to face the desert king, and be would not fly from him. Spellbound all below gazed upon the scene. They saw that the rifle-shot had wounded the lion, they beheld his spring upon his foe, then the two pistol-shots rung out, and the monarch of beasts fell almost at the feet of his destroyer. [See Picture 16]. ' Ho, tbe cutter !' called out the victor. ' ' AyLay, sir,' responded the middy, almost shouting in bis joy, whi'e cheers rung forth Irom every boat. ' Send the crew of your'boat up here for my game, Midshipman Vancourt.' 1 Ay, ay, sir.' Half an hour after the ' big game,' terrible even in death, was in the bout which was pulling for the brig. The other boats slowly followed, for the 'captives' had failed to come. 1 We will partrol again to-night for them, Vancourl,' said Lieutenant Randolph, as they neared the vessel. As the desert king was hauled on board the brig, a wild cheer greeted his gallant slayer, for the lieutenant was a great favourite with his men. As all stood regarding the beast, which was one of the largest of his race, the sun was rising, and from the look-out came : ? Sail ho 1' ' Where away V 'Off the starboard stern quarter as we now are, sir, and she's as trim as b pirate.' ' Or a slaver — which she is. All hands to make sail, for there is game bigger than this desert king,' cried Lieutenant Randolph. To Bb Continued