|Chapter Title||AND LAST|
|Newspaper Title||Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907)|
|Trove Title||The Pirate Isles|
The Pirate Isles.
A STORY BY THE COURT'JESTER.
CHAPTER IX. (AND LAST).
Crossbones, after leaving Georgie, returned to his gun, where he was kept so busy for some time that he had no opportunity to think of anything else. Later, however, looking through the port he perceived Georgie's dire peril, and he rushed off
lo the captain.
"Yer honor," he said breathlessly ; "blow me if the King ain't gone to capture them .forts all by hisseif. He'll get blown out o' the water formar tin! Why, yer see, he ain't even takin' the trou ble to use his oars. I asks yer honor to let a boat's crew go arter him, jest ter see he don't
come ter no harm like."
Following Crossbones's excited finger, the cap tain was astonished at perceiving Georgie a mile and a half off. Immediately he ordered away thé first cutter, with a message to Georgie beg ging him to return. The breeze had now dropped altogether, and he was unable to take his ship
Perilous as the service was, the cutter's crew sprang readily to their places, and in a few min utes were giving way with a^will in the wake of the jollyboat.
Georgie 'had escaped all .harm owing to the King's orders that he was not to be fired on. Sim ilar orders were, now given,to; the gunners ashore with regard to the cutter, unless it should over take Georgie before he reached the shore.
: Georgie; finding that - he had safely run the gauntlet of the forts, was beginning to feel renewr - ed hope, when, looking astern, ne saw the cutter. Immediately his heart sank again, for he felt that rather than go back ! to the Magnificent out there in the thick of. the battle, he would jump overboard and end it all. . If he could only get safely «.shore and hide in the bushes, he woulo. forfeit all claim to the throne with the greatest
pleasure. , ..
To his inexpressible relief ¡ the keel of the jolly boat touched the sand while the cutter was still
a good quarter of a mile away. Leaping on tb the shingle, he was on the point of running up the beach towards the thick. undergrowth that fring ed the shore, when someone stepped from behind a rock and caught him by the collar of his coat.
"Good day, Georgie," said the well-remembered voice of his schoolmaster "I hear you're think-, ing of being a king. Well, I propose to be the fierce light that beats upon a throne."
Georgie writhed and shrugged. "Please, sir, it wasn't me, sit. Oh please, sir, don't; I never. Please, sir, I'll tell you who it was, sir." --:
In the scene that followed George's ear-pierc ing yells prevented any other sound from being heard. Presently when the schoolmaster stop ped to rest his arm the splash of oars attracted his attention. Looking up, he perceived the cutter's crew rapidly approaching, and seizing the sobbing Georgie under his arm he ran up the beach and through the bushes to the fort. The pirates had raised their firearms, but had re frained from firing, lest they should Injure Georgie.'
A few minutes later a boat bearing a white flag put off from the Bhore and headed for the Magnificent. Firing ceased on both ? sides, and the cutter, taking advantage of the respite, pulled back in the wake of the flag of truce, the two çrews arriving almost simultaneously.
Tho prince, who was in charge of the boat from the shore, went up to the captain of the Magni ficent, and handed him a missive. The captain, on reading it, found that after stating that Georgie had been captured, it went on to offer a free pardon to every rebel who was willing to surrender immediately. "Otherwise," ran the note, "your so-called King will be tied up to the parapet of the fort, under your fire, and will be birched continually till the whole fleet strikes." At the foot followed a few hasty lines from Geor gie resigning his" pretensions, and begging the captain to surrender.
The captain called up Crossbones. "How comes this. Crossbones," he asked, "that you allowed the King to be taken? . You should have given your lives to prevent it."
"Why, yer honor," said Crossbones, "lt- were this way. The kid were captured by a old cove as come down to the beach with nothin' but a cane, and he starts llckln' Inter him. Well, blow rae, Georgie drops . his sword and picólo and . busts put cryin' and slngln' out, an' never offers no resistance whatsomever. An' we couldn't fire for fear of hittin' -him."
Then the prince interposed, and for the second time gave his version of Georgie's conduct in the engagement with the "Rattlesnake." Cross bones, whose faith In Georgie was now shaken to its foundation, admitted that at the time the con fusion was so great that he could, not be positive as to the real facts. "Besides," he continued re ferring to a statement previously made by the prince as to the identity of-Georgie's captor, "blow me if he .didn't tell me as"how he'd killed that 'ere schoolmaster long ago."
The captain looked round him. The rebel .fleet had suffered tremendously from the fire of the
forts, and" by this time the royal fleet was hotly engaged with his seaward vessels. Now that Georgie had given up there .was really nothing left to fight for.
Bowing to the prince he tendered his sword. "Keep it, sir," said the prince, "it is a full par don without any reservation whatever that is offered."
The captain bowed again, and signalled to the other vessels to strike.
A week later the town and shipping were deco rated with bunting to celebrate the marriage of the prince and Miss Toomba. Mr.. Toomba, who had attained his ambition and received his ap
pointment to the office o-f; archbishop of the Pirate /island, was to perform the ceremony, and the schoolmaster, an old friend of the bride's, was to give her away. Although the wedding was not to' take place till 3 o'clock, the pirates relieved, their excitement by firing guns all day, and so effectively did they amuse themselves in this fashion that nearly every window in the town was broken by the vibration.
They enjoyed themselves all the more that they knew that it would be some time before they would be called on to employ themselves that way again, and even then it would be, as now, with blank cartridge only. For a bill had passed both Houses, and received the Royal Assent, de claring that thenceforward piracy would be illegal, .the reason being that the pirates had found a much more profitable and less risky occupation. The schoolmaster, who had a first-rate knowledge of mineralogy, had discovered that there were vast gold deposits on the island, the existence of which had never before been suspected, and the inhabi tants were now settling down to enjoy an era of .universal-prosperity.
The "schoolmaster, as a reward, had been offered a lucrative' Government appointment, but he de clined ou the ground that his enthusiasm for his [calling was too great to permit him to renounce it. He had determined, he said, to go back and restore Georgie to his parents. The gratitude of the pirates, therefore, took the form of granting him a knighthood of the order of the Scuttled Ship and an annual grant of 500 pieces of eight
for life. . : ? ?
The wedding was celebrated, and the prince and his . bride Lved happily ever .after. From that time the task of ruling the nation < became far easier, as the pirates became less warlike and more contented. As the poet laurete wrote, in reference to the new order of things
"We have given up completely, all our habits pre
For the future we shall follow in. the path
where virtue leads;
We renounce our wild adventures and our seek
: ii. g- after glory,
- We , can get by being honest quite sufficient for
our needs. ?