Chapter 67865180

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Chapter NumberNone
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article67865180
Full Date1884-04-26
Page Number4
Corrections0
Word Count1890
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 - 1929)
Trove TitleIn Days Gone By
article text

ftaks and Jftetdie*.

IN DAYS GONE BY.*

By an Old Settler.

skipper jack's tarn {Concluded).

The weather was pretty warm to the daytime, bat somehow on the hoce&n the night air is almost always damp and chilly. I was feeliiig that way myself. I waited to make sore be was asleep, and then I loosed the main top gallant studding sail, which was becketted to tbe rigging in readiness for nse, and spreading the clae oat, I rolled myself io it, and dozed. I was too much frightened to sleep. Some noise on deck roused me. He was setting the Hit sail again. Havine done so, he paced the

deck for hoars smoking as I could see by the glare from bis pipe bowl. It crossed my brain once or twice, how easy it would be to kill him as be slept, Bat what good wonld it do me? I shuddered at tbe idea of taking even his life. I remember I did not bother much thinking what would happen to ns. I suppose I was Bort of stunned like, I eonld not think of tbe fa tore. I was beginning to be both hungry and thirsty. How was I to get some grab. My only chance was when he went below. I hoped be might drink himself stopid, bat somehow be Btopped short of that. Tbe wind began to blow a little stronger, and by tbe swirl of the water against her bows. I knew she was trareliing, sod moreover, tbe wind was veering abont, which caused him to take the helm and steer himself tiU near daylight. Was it not a strange thing ? Here was the Sir Peter for weeks rolling and tumbling aboat ; like as I hear of a fellow read io a book ooce, 'a painted ship npon a painted ocean,' and now that a cane ought to be on her, she was going along as jolly as could be, and steering herself mmosL When day broke be took the braces to the winch, and braced tbe yards op. While he was flattening aft the fore topmast stay sail sheet, 1 thought there was a chance for me to slip down, bat I f linked on it. He lashed the wheel, and lit a fire in the galley. I coald smell the coffee and fried tish, which he bad for breakfast, and it made me ravenous, The sun grew very hot, and only for the studding sail I would have been done up. As it was my toogne was swelled and my lips cracked, Tbe wiod kept light, a nice gentle breeze. I knew we were beading to the west of sooth a good bit by tbe sun, and I bad sense enongh to know that if we kept on that the ship wonld get into tbe current of tbe Golf stream, and there was a hope of our being picked up. That day passed ; I was nearly done for want of grab and water ; how could I get any ? My heart gave a tbnjnp. I was safer if I coald only get down tbe rigging. Wheothe skipper had taken the mad fit to board the men in the cabin, and nearly starred some of them, they said to me that it was no sin to steal to eat, and, whenever I could, I bronebt biscuit and meat into the forecastle. I had brought some tbe very day of the murders, and the water butt for the men's nse was jast before tbe galley. I coald stand it no longer. When it came dusk, I slipped down, while he was below — for more groe I suppose— felt abont in the dark ; found some biscuits and beef, which I found in my shirt breast. At the water butt, I found a tin can. I was all right £ filled it and away aloft again before tile skipper returned. I felt ever so mnch better and jollier when I had a feed and a drink, I htd to be very careful of the water, not knowing when I coald steal down again. I had bread aod beef enough, with care, to last a coo pie of days, and I got a fresh supply from tbe skipper. Not with his good will, though. Whether it was my good luck in getting the food or not that did it, I got quite larky, and was not half frightened of tbe old man, though I dared not face him. I kiod o' despised him in my own mind. Well, tbe very next day I watched him bring np some bread, butter, aod sugar. He bad cooked Borne meat in tbe galley in the forenoon. He set to wjrk and made a regular hearty meal, and went below shortly after. There was a fresh breeze, and tie ropes aod tackle creaked a bit — which I thought would hide any noise I might make, so I waited for a spell. Says I to myself — my time.' I doa't know how be did without sleep, for only that once that he lay down on the deck, unless we were both asleep at the same time, I had not known him to have any rest. Howandever I slipped down the rigging, and creeping like a cat to where the grub was, I boned a lot, and away np aeain. This sort of things went oo for

twelve days. We had not seen a sail all tbe time. I make a nick in tbe main topmast with my knife every night, so I know how the days passed. At daylight that morning, — I saw away to leeward of na, a ship. I watched her closely, and coald see that ehe wae creeping ap to as, hand over 6at, and, more than that, I knew by the cut of her sails that she a man of war. *Now,' says I, * Andrew, will be for finding out what a brig is doing unrter close reefed topsails, stay sail, foresail, and try sail in such weather as this. Bat for fear she should pass ns. I took off my shirt aod waved -'it.' 'Bat I say,' broke in Bolan, who was Jack laaphed. 'Oh ! that's a name that merchant sailors have for tbe Queen's ships. It's a bit of alane. like voor hearim? 'em aav.

?when I was aboard of Andrew Miller,' and so on. Well you know Master Bolan and Master Sims, that a shirt banging from the join, it is. or was in my time pretty quickly attended to. I knew this from hearing the men talkiog about it. The skipper saw her shortly afterwards, aod I saw him looking at her through tbe glass. I don't think he liked the look of her, for he banged tbe glass into tbe case and began to walk about very fast, talking to himself. When the man-of-war was about two cables' lengths off I cut the ?written for the Caprieormaa by a Knifeman of tooeinrf Tarietl coltmtal experience.

stops of the studding sal! snd let it fly loose, still waving my shirt. A boat was lowered, and polled dose alongside. Tbe skipper saw them looking np, and did so himself. Ton should have seen his face when be saw the studding saQ flying loose. Then be caught sight of me waving my shirt — and with a roar like a tiger, aod a volley of corses, ' That's where my bread and beef went,' he made a rash for the main rigging. But I was too smart for him. I slipped down on to tbe main yard, and running along it, I called out to tbe men in the boat, * Look out, save me,' I jumped into the sea. I was hardly in the water before someone bad me by my bair. I was bundled on board the boat pretty qoick. ' Now my boy/ said the leftenant, 4 Who are yoa ? and what does all this mean V I told him my story, the men listening with open mouths. ' LayaJoogside, all of yon on board but the boat-keeper.'* Theskipperwas going to ehow fight, but before he bad the charge rammed down in the old bluoderbusB that be brought up. be was on the flat of bis back, aod hisbands tied with a piece of spun yarn. Then the leftenant called me on board, and I described everything to him as it happened, showing bitn bow I crept to tbe skylight and bow I could plainly see what was goiog ou below. ?Bat where did he pot tbe bodies r 'Come down, sir, and I'll show yon,' says L Well. the cabin stock awfoL One of the men lifted tbe hatch of tbe Lazaree and ronnd the combings was blood, and bair, and brains. 'Where did the mate Her I showed him. He found the log book, the last entry made just twelve days before. An besides be found a email book with an accoont of tbe skipoer's doings. So they hoisted tbe skipper into the boat, and told me to come too, leaving half tbe boat's crew on board. We went on board the frigate, and the leftenant made his report I was called into tbe cabin and examined. One of the quartermasters gave me a flannel shirt to put on. My story, and the log-book, and the little one what tbe skipper called the private log, tallied. As for tbe skipper they could not get a word oat of him. A prize crew was sent on board the brig, and all sail wae made oo ber. The captain ordered me to remain oo board tbe Boadetha, and we went to Plymouth. The brig arrived two days after. But they could not try him there, so sent os to the cove of Cork.' 'Well, and was be hong?' 'No, Master Bolan ; sir, be were not. They brought him io mad. If he only killed one they'd have hung htm, but because be killed eight men he was mad. They pot him in the county asylum, and he lived there to a good age, making a good livelihood by building and rigging toy ships, in the height of comfort, only that he had not his liberty. I joined tbe frigate, and that was how I come aboard of Andrew first.' ' Well, Jack, I believe yours is tbe moat sensational story of tbe lot. What a pleasant time yoa most have had in the maintop,' said ' No sir ; no Mister Sims ; it were not a pleasant time, I hates to think of it, only yez asked me for a story, and it came first. Sims was the first stirring in the morning ; he aroused the others. '* Come all hands on board. Jack's murdering yarn has brought ue fine weather. Let as return to some degree of civilisation instanter. ' No, Mister Sims,' said Jack, '* its strong ebb tide, and the wind is ahead ; we most wait till the afternoon. The other* joined in the quest They cot away in the evening, and once more slept under a roof the next night. Aod be that will this yam deny, Down among the dead men let him lie.