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Chapter NumberI
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1901-02-09
Page Number40
Word Count1809
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAustralian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907)
Trove TitleThe Pirate Isles
article text

The . Pirate Isles.


('By"the Court Jester.)


If there was one thing that Georgie Johnson liked better than; another it was reading. ; Not history, nor geography,'nor arithmetic, nor any- thing -like that, nor- improving books such as "Sandford and Merton." No, the books he liked were "the kind that had pirates in"-real, war ranted-not-to-shrink buccaneers, whose existence consisted chiefly in hoisting the Jolly 'Roger (the black flag with skull and crossbones), making love to beautiful maidens, and drinking rum. That was the kind of story he liked, and if he had known half as much about the habits of the ani- mals in hismatural history book as he did about those, of pirates, he would have acquired more usefuí knowledge than a University graduate.

After a deep and exhaustive study of the sub- ject he felt himself irresistibly drawn to the con-

clusion that there was one drawback, and one . only, to a pirate's life. This was the fact that a pirate was always under an unpleasant liability to getting hanged. Only for this he felt he could start straight off, and make a name for himself at which the world: would grow pale-that being the kind of name every pirate had who was any- thing like a pirate.

But hiß investigations had not stopped at this point, for he flattered himself that he had dis- covered a way to make any pirate crew absolutely invincible, and he longed eagerly for the day to come when he could put it into execution.

One day he went as usual tt> school, and was sitting at his desk intent, apparently, in his leeson book, but really reading a paper-covered volume which lay on his knee. This was a history of the surprising adventures of a midshipman, aged 12, who had, single-handed, captured (amongst 'other things) a pirate vessel filled with ruffians armed to the teeth, after performing prodigies of valor. Although this style of book was not strictly in the line of Georgie's usual reading, he found it useful as illustrating his great theory, and he therefore was deeply engrossed in the work-so deeply that he did not perceive that the master was standing

close behind him.

A short but painful scene ensued, during which Georgie shed more tears than a.iy well-conducted embryo pirate should shed under the mo3t trying


"That settles it," said Georgie to himself, as soon as the pain subsided sufficiently for him to be able to think clearly; "I'm off this very day

to join the pirates."

As soon as the boys were let out at the lunch hour he made his way down to the Quay. A pirate vessel which called regularly at the port for vege- tables had arrived that very day. He walked along the different wharves till he came to that set apart by the harbormaster for pirates, where he found the one he was in search of.

She was a long, low, rakish-looking schooner, carrying six guns a-ßide, with a long brass nine

forward. All the guns were at present covered with old sail and junk, according to the Regula- tions of the Piratical 'Marine Board, which direct that "no guns shall be exposed except when on the high seas, and shall, except as aforesaid, be concealed, disguised, hidden, or otherwise ob- scured;" and goes on to provide that "any captain offending against this regulation shall be called on to show cause why his certificate should not be cancelled." Of course, as Georgie knew from his course of reading, the object was to make the vessel look harmless, and so serve as a trap for unsuspecting merchantmen.

Sitting on the forward deck, near the port cat- head, was a grizzled old pirate whom Georgie knew very well, as he often used to pay a visit to this vessel when in the port.

"Good morning, sir; good morning," said the pirate, rising, and taking off his hat respectfully. "Pleased to see you. And how might you be this morning, sir?"

"Pretty well, Crossbones, my man; thank you," said Georgie, condescendingly, as he stepped aboard, "except that I feel a little troubled over an unfortunate incident that occurred just now. You see, the schoolmaster and I bad a slight dif- ference, and really he was so very. obstinate that I was compelled to butcher him in cold blood be- fore the eyes of his wife and family. Their . shrieks were so very distressing that it quite

upset me. Pardon these tears," he continued, as he rose up again quickly, after an attempt to sit


"Aye, aye, sir," said the pirate. I remember I used to feel much the same way when I first began. killing people. But then I should think you'd be pretty used to it by now, sir, see- ing the number you've killed. Why, we never comes into this port but you tells me of a fresh . murder you've committed."

"It's not that, Crossbones, it's not that," said

Georgie; "but I confess that I feel a sense of loss. . He was a very good fellow in his way, and really did his best. Besides, I don't quite know how I

shall go on with my. studies, under the clrcum stances. As I have told, you, I intend to be a .pirate myself, and I think the first requisite ne- cessary to be a successful-that is, a really suc- cessful-buccaneer is education. It's simply for want of it that pirates ever get captured."

"Well, sir," said Crossbones; "I don't know-so much about that. In the Pirate Island, since the new king come to the throne, we've had pirate schools and universities, and all that sort of thing, and the skipper he's got loads of books in his cabin-'Theory and Practice of Piracy,' 'The Buc- caneer's Vade Mecum,' and I don't' know what else; but the whole lot of 'em don't seem to do. much good. Seems to me, things has never been so dull since I started piracy. Why, when I were a nipper, we never had no education to speak of, and yet I used to cut throats by the dozen why, I must have killed nearly as many as you, sir-^-if l may make so bold as to say so."

s "That may be," replied Georgie; "but Lt is due /to .my wide reading that I discovered a secret

whereby any pirate ship may avoid capture alto- gether. You seé, I noticed in all these stories about pirates that they used to have a grand time till they fell In with the ship that had the hero of the story on board. I observed that it was due to his wonderful bravery In fighting about fourteen pirates at once that. his side was vic- torious. Now, it struck me that if the pirates only had the sense to have a wonderful boy on board their ship, they could go on as long as liked with impunity, and retire from business as wealthy as policemen."

"My word,. sir, you're .a clever one, you are," said the pirate, more " than ever impressed; "if ; we. ' only, had you on the ^ -Pirate , Island-; I reckon :V things would look ¡ up a bit. Things are that" slow there I hates the idea of going back; ; Now, I bet ten pieces of eight you've been > making things lively, round your way since I seen you last. I never see such a promising:young gentleman as you for murder and things."

"Well," said Georgie; as a matter of" fact, I did have a small adventure the other night. I may tell you that a great friend of mine, the Rev. Whiteley Toombs, has a most beautiful daughter, - Alice; whom I intend to marry, some day. There

is also a wicked marquis, who wishes to make her

his bride."

"A marquis, did you say, sir?" said Crossbones. . "I. didn't know you had such things- in these parts." .

"Not as a usual thing we don't,'.' replied Georgie ; "but, , you see, this one: is a remittance mari, who lives partly on his remittances and partly on his acquaintances. - Well, Alice refused him con- stantly, for reasons which may occur to: you in light of a statement I made just now with regard to ray own intentions."

"Aye, age, sir!" said the pirate, admiringly; "she knows what's what, she do."

"Perhaps so, Crossbones; perhaps so. At any rate, the marquis swore . she should be his, and so one* night he hired some villains to carry her. off. Well, as it happened, I was walking on the shore that night, and saw the lady being carried down to a boat that had been drawn up on the beach. Just as the marquis was exclaiming, 'Once aboard the lugger, and--'

"'Not while there's a British warship in the bay,' I interrupted; and rushing down to the boat I pulled out the'plug and threw it into the water. With a hoarse cry of anger, the villains put the

maiden down and rushed to the end of the beach, , where a Ministerial picnic had lately been held. There, they knew, they' would find plenty of

champagne cork's which they , could use to plug . the boat. Not a moment was to be lost. Hur- riedly placing Miss Toombs in the boat I shoved off, hoping to keep the water out by sitting on the plug hole. This I found I could easily do; but a now danger arose. Being unable to use the oars . /here I sat, 1 was compelled to let the boat drift, and the villains, who had now returned with bushels of corks, were swimming out towards ns. Seeing that the position was desperate, I drew out my pocketknife .and cut a deep gash in my finger. Then I held out my hand over the water. At once a swarm of sharks, attracted by the blood, pwam up, and in a few minutes every villain had disappeared. The marquis alone escaped, he not having ventured into , the . water. We were rescued next, morning by a passing ship, and on

our return T was presented with a medal by tue citizens for having rid them of the villains. My action was exceedingly popular, since all the mis-

creants were politicians, and one of them, had-,-, published a book of poems."

Just then Georgie heard the notes of the after

noon schoolbell, and not wishing to repeat the painful experience of the morning he bade the pirate good afternoon.

"Alas," he said; "I hear the bell*tolling for my poor old schoolmaster's funeral. I must haste to pay him the last sad tribute of a tear on his premature grave."

(To bo continued.)