Chapter 71465439

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Chapter NumberVIII
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71465439
Full Date1901-03-30
Page Number37
Corrections0
Word Count1641
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAustralian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907)
Trove TitleThe Pirate Isles
article text

The Pirate Isles.

A SERIAL, STORY.

(BY THE COURT JESTER.)

CHAPTER VIII.

. On tho Pirate Island preparations for the con- test were being made with no less activity. : The King/ throwing off the slothfulness which.had led to the present rebellion, was engaged night and day in superintending measures of defence and planning hew schemes with his advisers.

He had also with Royal generosity issued a pro- clamation acknowledging his previous errors, and promising that when internal dissensions were dis- posed of he would remove all cause for complaint. As a guarantee of his new energy, he had man- aged, even at that crisis, when his ships were so urgently needed, to send out a vessel which had returned laden with booty, and with several captives on board. These were liberated on parole, the King having a strong dislike to blood- shed. This, indeed, was the reason for his for- mer shortcomings. "Wishing to gain 'the good- will of his subjects in every possible way, he had also brought about several much-needed reforms in the administration, and had done a very popu- lar, act in appointing the classical master of the high school, to the post of Poet . Laureate of the

island. .

His Majesty was sitting surrounded by a council of war, when word was brought that someone wished to speak to him on urgent business; and immediately afterwards there entered the lieuten- ant of the Waterwitch, with Miss Toombs, blush- ing and smiling, on his arm.

"Well," said the King, sharply, "what would you with tis? Be brief, for time presses. .Look sharp, I can't stay here all night."

"Why, sire," said the lieutenant, removing a wig and a false moustache, "do you not recognise your own son?" ?.

"Odsbodikins!" said the King;:, "right glad are > wo to see you again. , Tip us your, flipper. And who," he continued, "who' may you be, my dear?"

"This, sire," said the Prince, "is Miss Alice 1 tombs, who has kindly consented, subject -to your approbation, to be my wife."

"Ah!'.',said the King, "we can talk of that later.' In the meanwhile where have you been all this time?" - '

"That ia soon told," said the Prince. "Some time ago I heard rumors of treason, and when the schooner Waterwitch was preparing for sea I had reason to believe that she was not to be taken to the West Indies according to your orders, but was going on some voyage in furtherance of the plot. I disguised myself, and shipped as her se- cond lieutenant, and before we had been out very long I discovered that she was sailing to bring the pretender who was to supplant your Moje&ty. I thereupon judged it best to assist in the scheme, thinking that the discontent of the

nation could only be quieted if your Majesty . showed yourself capable of crushing your rival in open conflict. We arrived at the port in which I spent my last university vacation, and where I had first seen this lady, and fallen in love with her, though I had then no.opportunity, of effect- ing an introduction to her. When I . saw the pretender I believed that hë could easily be dis posed of. if he could be persuaded to come with, us, which, in fact, he appeared somewhat reluct- ant to do. He wanted the prize of royalty very much, but feared the risks of the position. How- ever, I practically forced him to join us by re- moving the only objection he made, and now that

he has come, I am more than ever persuaded of . the wisdom of the course I adopted." > :

"What ls this same pretender like?" asked the -' King. "Is he the marvel of genius and daring : that he is alleged to be?- They tell me that it was his skill alone that led to the defeat of the Rattlesnake."

The Prince replied that the rumor was a DSO lutely untrue. He had seen the incident on the ?..??.Waterwitch, and said that the discharge of the ' gun and . the striking of the hell were simply

accidents.- due to Georgie's terror and confusion. He dared not say anything at the time, lest he should be suspected; but had kept the matter to himself. .??Finally he described Georgie as a cowardj whom luck had made to appear'a hero.

The King made no reply when the Prince ended his story; but laid the palm of his open hand to his tongue; then he rubbed his hand om his- knee very slowly and very hard with his lips grimly closed. Somehow, as the Prince perceived the ac- tion; a flood of memories of his childhood's days came over him. So vividly, indeed, that he writh- ed uneasily in his chair.

.; At this moment a telegram was handed to the King, who opened it, ajid exclaimed, "The enemy is off the coast; let us go at once."

All issued forth, and took horse, and rode at full gallop for the forts, where the King was soon, ht Eily engaged directing and encouraging the defenders. ' V

On board the rebel fleet the utmost confidence prevailed. Though all knew that the contest would be a desperate one, it was sufficient for the most craven-hearted to look towards the Magni- ficent in the van of the fleet, with the Royal Standard of King Georgie Johnson flying at the main, to give him confidence and courage.

The wind was dead ahead, and very light; so that progress was slow; but as they drew on to

wards, the land 'the breeze shifted abeam, and

freshened, and they advanced more rapidly, aided . further by the landward current.

The armorer came up to Georgie with à sword, "Yer Majesty," he said, "this 'ere sword I've been a-sharpenin' and a-sharpenin* of it fer hours, and I makes so bold as to say as how it'll give

satisfaction."

Georgie took the sword without any great show of pleasure, and looked out astern.

"Captain," he said, "signal to the fleet to get of the shore at once; there's trouble brewing over there, and we mustn't have the fleet on a lee shore. We'll attack when it's over."

"Why, your Majesty," said the captain, "of course I must do so if you Insist; but I must say I can't see any signs of bad weather myself."

"I do insist," replied Georgie, '"and I want my orders executed without argument."

¡The captain bowed rather stiffly, and was about to obey, when signals were perceived on the Scor- pion, the most seaward vessel of the fleet.

The signal midshipman seized his glass and read off the message: "Scorpion, slr,' signals enemy's ships in sight to the sout'ard," he said to the captain.

"So they are by jingo," said the captain; "We'll have to fight our way through them; - Your Ma- jesty, I beg leave to say that I think we had best try to,silence the forts at once before they arrive.

"Very well," said Georgie, reluctantly; "I'm going below for the present. Call me when we are within range of the land batteries.

A puff of smoke came from the nearest fort,

and a shot struck the water a' cable's length ~

to seaward of them.

"We're within racge now," said the captain, noticing with surprise (how white Georgie looked.

The shot was returned from the 'Magnificent, and the battle became general, each ship Join- ing In as she got within range.

'.'Go on with the fight, captain, said Georgie presently, "I have a scheme."

Calling Crossbones, who was now serving on the Magnificent, he gave him some hurried di- rections, and proceeded to climb into the Jolly boat hanging on the stern davits. Crossbones and another seaman lowered away the falls, and the jollyboat rested on the water. 'Georgie unhooked the tackles, and took up the oars. But he had never attempted to row a boat before, and found that it was harder than it looked. One oar slipped from his grasp, and in his efforts to re- cover.lt he lost the other. He was now helpless, and to his horror.he found the current was setting him in towards the land. '

On shore the King was sitting in an embrasure of the principal fort watching the progress of the fight through a telescope, and he was' the first to perceive the lowermg of the boat from the Mag- nificent. He called the prince's attention to the fact, and both were astonished at-the courage of the person who dared come along In the face of the shot that was falling around him like hall.

: "I see it all," exclaimed the prince; the coward has been trying to; desert and get out of danger, and having lost his oars he is drifting inshore. Will your Majesty order that he Is not to be fired on, and we shall capture him and show the rebels what he, is whom they propose to make their .king." ? ? ' . -

"Will your Majesty allow me to effect the cap- ture?"- said a voice behind them; "I think I .could do lt rather neatly."

' The king turned and perceived that the speaker was one of the captives taken by the expedition mentioned,in the last chapter.

. "Who are,vyou?" asked his Majesty.

,"I ara that youth's former schoolmaster," re- plied the prisoner, firmly grasping a little malac- ca cane¿: "He ran away from school, and I have several other little accounts to settle with him."

"All right," said the king, "only mind you don't get shpt,"

"Your Majesty," said the schoolmaster, turn- ing away, "I'd risk a thousand deaths for the pleasure of getting hold of our young friend for

ten minutes.",

(To be concluded.)