|Newspaper Title||Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907)|
|Trove Title||The Pirate Isles|
,^Tlie Pirate Isles, -T
'.. "4''VÂJ. SERIAL, STORY.
V 1'(By-The 'Court Jester.)
'. . CHAPTER VII.
< Whçn the Rattlesnake had first been sighted from the schooner, Georgie had heard the hail of the look-out, and afterwards fragments of the conversation of the groups on the after-deck, specuiating as to who the stranger might be.
Curiosity overcoming indisposition, he had come up to find that preparations were being made for hostilities,1 should the brig prove an enemy.
Seeing Crossbones standing in the waist, he
called to him.
"Crossbones," he said, "get me a couple of re- volvers and a cutlass-a. sharp 'one mind. I like to do'everything artistically, and a blunt tool is my abomination "
Crossbones immediately went in search of the required articles, and, returning, offered "them to Georgie. The latter took the cutlass and ex- amined the edge critically. It was at this mo- ment that the shot from the brig was fired, and the ball passed within a few feet from where they standing.
"What do you mean," shouted Georgie, "by bringing me a thing like this? Do you call this, sharp?- Why, I can't tell the back from the edge. Where's the grindstone? I'm going to get a decent edge on it, and then I'll show you hpw a cutlass should be used."
So saying, he plunged hastily below, leaving Crossbones and the seamen open-mouthed with admiration at the coolness of anyone who could
be so particular at such an exciting moment as this. For,-as Crossbones knew, and informed them, the weapon had a "very good edge indeed; quite good enough for anyone but a true artist like Georgie.
"The captain of the Waterwitch, though for a moment paralysed with astonishment at being fired on by a vessel of his own nationality, speed- ily recovered his presence of mind. .First of all - he ordered the private signal to be made, to
avoid^ the possibility of mistake, and the only reply'being a summons to surrender, he immedi- ately undertook measures for fighting his ship.
Seeing that,.the enemy had approached to lee- ward iof him, almost at right angles to the echoon er's course, he took advantage of the imprudence and raked her fore and aft as he crossed ahead of hef Then, to avoid being treated in a similar \tay, he jjutîhis helm hard down, and brought the
schooner on "tbjë wind. On a bowline he found he could both' Weather and forereach on the square
Thus, during the fight, he was able to secure the weatheT--gauge, but his superiority in this re pect was balanced by the heavier metal of his antagonist, so t&at after two hours' fighting the
victory inclined to neither side.
When Georgie went below, he proceeded for- ward, but in the pitchy darkness he felt It was useless», to.- look for a grindstone, as - he had no . matchems;, 'and. he therefore sat down to try and
think1 ?v^here-lt could be. After sitting there for some time.he came to the conclusion that the fight (must now be so nearly over-that it would
hardly be worth while to go on deck, even if he found the grindstone, so he resolved to stay where
he w^.s. Scarcely had he ,come to this deter-
mination when a round shot from the brig struck the schooner's hull and pierced it, a shower of splinters flying inwards, one*of which just missed
taking off Georgie's head.
Imagining that the vessel must surely sink in
five minutes, he sprang to the companion and on to the deck, stumbling on the ship's bell, which gavê'out a startled clanging. This, together with the ¡darkness (for the moon was low in the heavens, and a thick pall of smoke hung over the schooper's deck) rendered him so confused that he raft aft, hardly knowing what he was doing. Suddénily something struck him violently across the chest, a fearful report rang out right in his
ears, ¡and he fell on the deck in a stunned heap.
Then a wild cheer broke from the schooner's crew,- followed by a shout from the captain, "Cease firing," and a man on the deck of the brig was dimly seen holding up a white flag on a board]ing-pike in token of surrender.
Georgie struggled to his feet, and, mounting on a carronade, looked across at the Rattlesnake. N He saw that her mainmast had gone by the
board, and .was hanging In a confused heap over the side. When the last gun had been fired "from the" Waterwitch, the brig's stern, as she was in the act of wearing, was presented to her opponent, and the shot had disabled the steering gear and carried away the mast. The captain of the brig, seeing that further resistance was useless, had thereupon shown the white flag. He was unable to haul down his ensign, as that had been already
boen done for him by the schooner's shot.
A couplo of boats were ordered away, and took possession of the prize, and the victors then
learnt that tho rebellion had broken out openly in the Pirate Island, and understood for the first time the conduct of the brig.
Georgie saw, that the fight was over and went
below. He had no desire to meet anyone, as he "
felt that his enthusiasm for artistic cutlass work might be misunderstood. Hearing the captain calling out, "Where's the King? Where is he?"
he hurried to turn in.
He slept till late the next morning, when he "was awakened by hearing Crossbones moving about outside the door. The latter had been temporarily appointed to the post of captain's steward, having received a wound In the arm that rendered him unfit at present for severe work. The regular steward had been entirely in
capacitated by a splinter, mid was not expected to be fit for duty for ^ome time.
Cro&feboncb gently opened the door of Georgie's cabin and looked in, and then ran up on deck, shouting at the top of his voice, "Captain, cap- tain, he's awake, he's awake!" and Georgie heard a great commotion on deck.
Directly afterwards the captain came below, and,"having received permission to enter, inform- ed him that the crew were most anxious to see him, and express their admiration of his gallant
<( "Very well, captain," said Georgie, who was
considerably puzzled; "I shall be up In a mo
The captain waited on deck, and Georgie rose and proceeded to dress. While he was thus en- gaged, he heard Crossbones in conversation with someone outside the door. "Blowed if ever I see anything like it," Crossbones was saying, "yer see it were this way. There I were holdln' on to the lanyard, waitin' fer the word ter fire. I just cast my eye round for a second, when I see him runnin' up on deck. Blow me if he didn't stop to strike seven bells, as calm as anything, and then he sees it were just the right moment fer a shot, and he pulls the lanyard out o' my hand, and fires slap into the brig, fetchln' down her mainmast, as yer see fer yerself. It were the finest bit o' gun practice I ever heard on. Then what does he do, but he just takes a look at the brig, never sayin' a word, and turns in just as if he hadn't done nothin' at all what any- one couldn't ha' done. But what lays over me were his strikin' seven hells like that with the shot comin'all around."
Georgie lost no time in getting on deck. The -?'captain greeted him.warmly, and the crew cheered vociferously. Then, the men being mustered aft, the captain made a long speech, lauding Georgie's courage and coolness to the skies.
Georgie put his hands in his pockets.
"Gentlemen," he said, nonchalantly," you are very good, you know, and I'm very much obliged to you, and all that sort of thing. But really that little matter was nothing to make a fuss over. I have frequently , done better shooting. I mav say that I struck the bell because I think it un seamanlike to neglect the proper discipline of a ship merely because a little fighting is go'ing on. You will oblige me by remembering that fact."
This modesty on Georgie's part made him doubly a hero in the eyes of the crew, and all felt willing to follow such a leader wherever he might lead .
A week later they arrived at the rebel island, having shaped their course thither in consequence of the information supplied by the captives. Flags were flying and guns thundering in honor of Georgie's arrival, and he felt that life was indeed worth living. The pirates thronged the pier to greet him, and he was presented with numberless addresses of welcome. Being under the impression that he would be expected to read them, for a brief moment he thought of resigning his pretensions to the throne, and returning
But when he was at length'comfortably installed in the royal quarters, he changed his mind again, and, after eating far more than was good for him, he went to'bed thoroughly happy.
" When he saw during the ensuing weeks the pre- parations going forward for the grand attack, he felt a fresh disinclination for having greatness thrust upon him. "Up to the time of the engage merit with the Rattlesnake he had been under the impression that he had been invited over at thov desire of practically the whole pirate island. 'After the fight he had imagined that the enemy was finally disposed of. The prospect of a seem- ingly endless, conflict considerably disquieted him, and he cast about'for an excuse to throw up . the whole business. Finding none he was com-
pelled to go on, but he resolutely declined to take part in any of the frequently held councils 'of war. He said he had the utmost confidence
in his officers, and would refrain from interfer- ence, unless some crisis should arise really worth his while to bother about. But one thing In particular remained inexplicab'e and annoying to him. This was that the lieutenant and Miss Tôombs, who passed a great deal of their time together, absolutely refused to treat him with the respect which he felt to be his due, and he had serious thoughts of indicting the former for high treason, when the news was brought to him that both had disappeard, as had also a large cutter belonging to one of the ships in the har-
(To be continued.)