|Chapter Title||AT THE ISLE OF PINES.|
|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; OS, ?.;._.. .,.?'.'.' — ? ? — »
ARomanoe of the End of Ocean Outlawry.* .
4Jv O-L Srentiss Ingraham, Author of 'Merle the Mutineer,' &c, &c.
CHAPTER XIII. AT THE JSLE OF PINES.
The destination of the schooner, which her captain had boldly said was a slaver, was the Is'e of Pines — a safe retreat at that time for secret expedi tions to fit out in. , i The schooner had entered Havana
as a cbistirader, the setotiriets thit '.,.. paced the frowning castle of El Moro little dreaming that they were looking down upon a vessel which had caused more human misery than an; other craft then afloat. . ^ Captain' Corti, as the Spaniard called himself, certainly had the ap pearance of a gentleman, and it was whispered among his crew that be had V been a' Spanish Don, but had fallen from gr^oe. . Certain it was that he had made several successful trips as a slaver, .and, after landing the unfortunate slaves upon the coast of Cuba, had gone into the port of Havana under false colours, to.get for bis vessel. all that was needed for a complete fitting out lor another voyage to the slave coast. He was living in luxury the while, and, a victim of a mania for gambling, he had gone to the salon, where he was 'being cheated but of his ill-gotten gold, when Basil Barton's keen eye detected the situation of affairs, and t|e interfered in behalf of the Spaniard. - Sailing for the Isle of Pines, the Sea Venus, as Captain Corti called his schooner, was to meet' there her full crew, which the first mate had been secretely shipping in Havana, and was to bring to the* isle in a lugger. The men of the schooner, some halt dozen in number, were at once put to work,. when Jhe Sea Venus dropped anchor, in transforming the vessel into the beautiful craft that she really was.
On the run from Havana, Basil had acted as mate, and Captain Corti had been delighted with his young protege, feeling convinced that he had found a treasure in him. When the lugger arrived, the first mate was accompanied by some thirty men — a set that was ready for any deed of deviltry — and a young roan, bis friend, -'who he said was to be second mate of the schooner. 'I have a man for the berth, Sanchez, so your friend can serve as third mate;' said Captain 'Corti, ad dressing the first officer, who was an evil-faced Cuban. ' Senor Captain, my friend will not _.ser*e-as-tbitti,-so yourtnih will have to take that berth,' was the reply of Sanchez, who had already heard of Basil's presence on board, and how ? the captain had said he had a mind to put him in first place. 'Senor Sanchez, I generally com mand my vessel to suit myself, and my man takes the second mate's place/ was the calm reply. Sanchez saw that the captain was in earnest, and so said : 1 1 will speak to Senor Waldo, and ask faim to take the third place.' 'Do so.' - Senor Waldo was spoken to by the mate, and at the same time , urged to remain firm and the captain would yield ; so the two approached Captain Corti, where he stood talking to Basil. ' Well, senors ?' said Corti, as they approached. — :' Senor; Captain, -as ; you bade me get you a~ good man for second mate, I did so, and here is Senor Waldo to fill the' place. He says that he will not yield theberth,1' - 'Tien. he will not-go on my vessel,' was the decided response. 1 You forget, senor, that I have it in ray power to report - yo\i, if so I wish,' remarked Waldo, a look of menace in his evil .face. 'Ah, you traitor, do you?' and Captain Corti dropped his hand upon . the pistol in his belt. ' Hold, Senor Captain ! This man secured the crew for us, and theyijvill act for him,' said Sanchez, hastily. '''One moment, senors;' and Basil stepped forward. ?Well, senor?' said Captain Corti. 'As, I seem a. bone, of contention, Captain Corti, permit me to resign my claim to the berth ot second mate.' 1 No, Senor Americano, I owe you , a debt of gratitude, and, more, you are a man whose equal I cannot readily find, while, at the same time, you are companionable to me. If Senor Sanchez is not satisfied, be and his friend — ay, and their crew also, can go.1 Meaning looks passed between Sanchez and Waldo, which Basil noticed, then he said: ' As you so decide, Senor Captain, I am ready to meet Senor Waldo in personal combat — the victor to take the berth.' : This bold challenge was a surprise, but it seemed to meet the favour of the two Cubans at once, for Waldo answered : ' If the senor will meet me with swords, yes.' '. ' Certainly. Please yourself as to the weapons,' was the indifferent reply-, ^ I Captain Corti was more than ever pleased with his protege. He knew of Waldo, and that he was a desperate man, and a superb swordsman, but he had noticed that Basil did all things well, and felt little anxiety for the
result, but he decided to interfere should the American be in danger of his life. ?;?;.- ..Swords were at once sent for; the old crew of the schooner, and the new men. were called, and the two com batants took their places. 'This is for We or death senorf And Waldo smiled threateningly *& he asked the question. '.'/'/^ ' ' ' For life or death, senor,' was the reply, 'if so you prefer,' 1 Then heie'sfor it !' and the Cuban sprang to the attack, expecting to at once run his adversary through. , But he was neatly foiled and had his cheek laid open for his lack of caution. , ?-- ? Like an enraged tiger he again forced the fighting, and so fierce was his attack, so strong and so skilful, that Basil gave ground ; but only for an instant. Then he seemed to gather in his reserved power, and hold his own for a while, as if playing with his antagonist. Soon, however, be began to press the Cuban, whose face now became livid. In another instant his sword pierced his adversary's right hand, almost severing it at the .wrist. 1 Senor Waldo will never be second mate of the Sea Venus,' he remarked, calmly, while Captain Corti gripped his hand in admiration of his nerve and skill. ' Perhaps you would like to step into my shoes, Americano ?' sneered the slaver's first officer, glaring upon Basil Barton with hatred and malice in his looks. ' As the senor pleases.' 'This affair was of your seeking, Sanchez, so you are to blame for the maiming of your friend for life. If you wish to push the matter, do so now, for I am sure Senor Basil will accommodate you ;' and Captain Corti seemed quite willing to see the affair go further. But Sanchez had learned a lesson, and had no desire, upon second thought, to face so deadily a (oe, so he replied : I Senor Captain, the affair has been settled by the sword, and Senor Basil wins. Unless he demands my berth, I have no quarrel with him.' I 1 did not demand the berth of second mate, senor ; but given me, as it was, by your captain and chief, I decided to have and hold it against all comers. That is my way. As between you and me, let us be friends, for in perilous .work we must work together, not as foes,, but as males ;' and Basil frankly held -out his hand. The Cuban grasped it, and said : ? I am glad of the friendship of a brave man, senor.' x But as he turned, leading Waldo away, he decided in his treacherous soul: ' That man shall die by my hand1.'
CHAPTER XIV. THE ASSASSIN. When the Sea Venus sailed away from the Isle of Pines, there was no better equipped craft afloat, or one more beautiful to the eye of a true sailor. She ' was of perfect mould, with razor-like bows rising very high, and a bowsprit that ran far out over them, giving a chance for the spread of enormous jibs. / Her masts were very tall, raked gracefully and set far apart, which also allowed of a very large foresail. Her mainsail was immense, and she carried also a fore-squaresail, huge topsails, and all the canvas which in those days was spread upon a schooner. Her stern was overhanging . and trim, and her depth enabled her to stand up well under her vast amount of canvas. She carried an armament of four pivot-guns, eighteens, and a crew of forty fighting men, besides her officers, and certainly was a very dangerous craft. Flag she had none, simply raising that which suited her best in time of need. Captain Corti boasted that he was no pirate, simply a 'free trader,' as he called his inhuman traffic in kid napped Africans ; but he wished to go well prepared to protect his vessel against any ordinary foe. With the coast oT Africa guarded well by American and English cruisers, and Cuba also watched by vesselsof war, to put down the slave trade, it was a most perilous undertaking to attempt to procure and land a cargo of unfortunate Africans, and required nerve, daring, and skill in command of a slaver. These qualities Captain Corti possessed, and his first officer, Sanchez, was a valuable allay, in that he had been for years in the slave trade, and did the meaner and brutal work devolving upon him, which his com mander would not stoop to. When the Sea Venus sailed, Basil found himself already a favourite with the crew. They had seen him tried, and his handsome young face, superb form, and pleasant manners won him the regard of all. Sanchez seemed particularly pleased with the young officer, and did all in his power to atone for his first dislike for him. From the Isle of Pines the Sea
Venus set sail for Fernando Po, near the coast of Africa, where Captain Corti expected to see bis African agent and learn just where to go and pick up a cargo of slaves. He could also there refit for the voyage back to Cuba; should the schooner need repairs after her long run. . Though chased several times by. cruisers on the run to . Fernando Po, the swift Sea Venus dropped them rapidly astern, and thus proved herself a splendid sailer, as well as a staunch craft in theihalf-dozen severe storms she encountered. v ; ' One and all were, therefore, de lighted with the craft. ,„ The young mate also proved him self a most competent officer, and he was always . ready to relieve Captain Gorti and Senor Sanchez from any duty that he could. . . After running into Fernando Po as a trader, with her guns below deck, Captain Corti got the information he desired, and set sail for the point on the coast of Africa where he was to get. his human cargo. It Was the same point which Sanchez had several times visited before, and he acted as pilot, running the schooner into the river by night, and finding a secure hiding-place for her. As it would take some days to get the negroes on board from the corral where they were, kept in hiding by the traders, while awaiting shipment on the slavers, Basil Barton took a gun and started upon a hunt through the foreBts. In spite of the seeming great friendship which Sanchez had shown him on the voyage, Basil had never trusted him, though pretending to do so. He bad seen that the mate was very friendly with some of the most villanous of the traders, and he had caught him one day pointing to him and talking in a low tone. He had appeared, however, not to notice it, and took care to tell Mate Sanchez that he was going out lor a bunt, and to ask him where it was best for him to go. The Cuban had warned him to be cautious, and given him other advice, and then Basil had started upon his jaunt. He bad not gone very far before he felt that he was being followed, and so at once determined to act. Seeking a thicket, he hastily drew off his coat and hat, and, stuffing them with moss, leant them up against a tree, as though he was sitting there and had gone to sleep. His rifle leant near the dummy figure, while, pistol in band, he ran away a few paces and waited. Soon he saw a head peer over a bush and gaze at his supposed self ; then he beheld a gun raised and aimed steadily at the dummy. He recognised the face of one of the hangers-on about the traders' post, and the very man whom he had seen Mate Sanchez talking to, in reference to himself. Following the report of the assassin's gun came the crack of Basil's pistol, and the man fell in his tracks, while a wild shriek of pain and terror broke from the villain's lips. In an instant Basil was bending over him, his clutch upon his throat. ' Be still, you fool, or I wjll kill you, hK^you are not fatally hurt, for I mereiyjjroke your arm.' ' Oh, ?y»Sj chief — do not kill me !' cried the Ar«can) who was in reality the servant of a vader, and had been captured in childhood from his tribe. ' Who told you to km me V The man did not reply. ' Speak, or I will kill you.' 'The Sea Chief.' 'Sanchez?' _ . ' ? 1 Oh, yes.' 1 dome with me and tell the truth, if you wish to save your life.' /Taking his coat, which had been pddled witb slugs, the young slaver led his prisoner back to the post, and at once sent on board for Sanchez and Captain Corti to come* ashore. Suspecting not that trouble was in store for him, Mate Sanchez accom panied Captain Corti to the hut, to be suddenly confronted by his intended victim and hired assassin. ' Hold on, Senor Sanchez — 1 have you under my pistol muszle,' cried the young mate; and then he told Captain Corti and those present just what had occurred. ' Now, Sanchez, if I have got to be killed, I don't intend your hired assassin shall stab me in the back. And if I have to kill, you are my game ; so let us settle right now the grievance you seem to have against me;' and Basil dropped his hand upon his pistol, the Cuban doing likewise. But Captain Corti suddenly stepped between them, and said sternly : ' Hold ! Sanchez, go on board the schooner at once.' The Cuban bowed and obeyed. Then Corti continued : ' Senor Basil, I place you in com mand of the schooner at present, and my orders are that you go on board and at once string that cowardly assassin up to the yard-arm.' ' But, senor, I prefer ? ' ' Hold, senor I I will not allow you to risk your valuable life against that villain. Besides, I am selfish, for you are most valuable to me. So obey, Senor Basil, or you are no longer officer of mine.' Basil hesitated an instant, then -owed and retired from the hut. To Be Continued.
Temperance Man : ' I was glad to observe that at the recent launching your vessel was christened with pure water instead of wine.' Old Salt: 'That's so. I just said to myself, 'Oap'n Seadog,' says I, ' this thing has got to stop. I ain't a-goin' to waste any more good liquor on such foolishness.' The temperance man vanished.