Yr Ynys Unyg Part 29
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In bad French the pirate captain offered us terms for capitulation. He pointed out how useless it was for us now to think of repelling such numbers. That if we would come down quietly, we should be received with open arms ("and cut throats," murmured some one behind me); that they would engage their most sacred word of honour they would do us no harm ("much honour in a pirate," murmured the same voice); that there was plenty of room on the island for us all, and that we might choose which side we pleased, and they would take the other. All they wanted was peace and our friends.h.i.+p.
Our dear captain shook his head at all this civility, and fairly laughed at the offer of friends.h.i.+p. But he turned, as in duty bound, being spokesman, to take our opinion.
Simultaneously we all rose together, and letting the pirates have a full and perfect view of our whole party (save the two invalids) for the first time, with one voice we all exclaimed, "No! no!" Though evidently surprised at seeing what a helpless party we were, it yet seemed to give him but greater zest to persuade us to come down.
His offers became more generous, his civilities greater, his promises most profuse and tempting, but, invariably and simultaneously, without waiting for our captain's appeal, rose the decided "No! no!"
With subdued oaths and imprecations he left us, having been several times interrupted by urgent entreaties from his companions. Leaving some young boys to watch us, he repaired to his companions, and they now seemed wholly occupied in emptying the s.h.i.+p and stowing everything away in the caverns. The bay was one scene of activity and bustle.
We sat quiet, knowing that night was drawing on, when our last effort for escape must be made.
_Oscar._--"Captain, you never told us what happened to you in the caverns, and how Smart found you."
_Captain._--"I found him, Sir, instead of his finding me. I kept the entrance blocked up as long as I could, but I could not get a good shot at any of the enemy on account of that demented woman, who was always in the way. It was enough that as fast as they took out one stone I piled up another, until, finding that they were getting too many for me, and knowing that you had had ample time to place yourselves in safety, I swung myself up by the rope to the top of the cavern, and, drawing it up, I lay there concealed, watching their movements. Such a pandemonium scene I never beheld. Luckily their eagerness, curiosity, and excitement made them forget Mrs. Hargrave, who sat down and howled like a hungry cat, not, however, before she had discovered to them every secret corner, by running madly to look for you. I suppose, for her sake, we must allow, poor woman, she is a little touched in the brain, for I found her, after everything was quiet, and the pirates had gone down to look for you, looking over some musty old caps and bonnets, and fitting up for herself a bundle of clothes. I suggested a little food and water would be more useful, but she stopped my mouth by saying it was her duty to appear decent and tidy for her mistress's sake. And such trouble I had with her besides. I am persuaded that woman would never be guided by mortal tongue. Many times I thought to leave her to her fate and to go and see after you, but she was so unfit to be left, I had not the heart to do so. Nevertheless, after getting her out of the caverns up on the top, in a well-concealed place, where we could see nicely all round, she escaped me, for what reason neither she or any one else could tell I think, and I lay quiet until night, when, venturing down to see if I could join you all, after a while I heard a noise just nigh me, and, hiding behind a tree, I looked out, and presently spied a great big fellow, standing six feet two, before me. I knew Smart in a moment, dark as it was, but, having a mind to startle him, I took hold of his leg.
Laws me, Sirs, you should have seen how he jumped. I am sure the good old lady could not have been more alarmed. The rest you know."
_Felix._--"Poor Smart, I dare say you took hold of that very leg that's now wounded. Do you know, Smart, Otty and I had our right and left shots."
_Smart._--"Had you so, Sir. Well, I hopes you both killed your birds."
_Felix._--"No, for unluckily we both shot at the same fellow, but we knocked him over clean. We frightened them in an awful way, but cousin Schillie would not shoot."
_Smart._--"How c.u.med that about I wonder. I reckoned her a prime one."
_Felix._--"She was frightened, Smart."
_Smart._--"Oh no, Sir, I'll never believe that."
_Felix._--"Oh, but she was. I saw her shut her eyes when we all had to shoot together, and she did not open them for a good minute after."
_Schillie._--"Good lack, captain, what is going to happen now?"
Boats were approaching La Luna. The pirates boarded her, and, after half an hour's work, her anchors were taken up, and she was towed to the other side of the bay, and there made secure.
Night set not in more darkly than the gloom that fell upon our hearts.
We could but leave our fates in the hand of a good and merciful Providence.
The whole night long the pirates worked hard, doing what we could not see, neither could our captain at all understand their conduct. "If it was not too good to be true, they have been chased," said he, "and have come into harbour to hide. Did anyone look over the sea?" he continued.
No, we had all been too much engaged.
_Captain._--"Then the first thing I shall do on the dawn will be to scan the sea. Something unusual must have occurred to put the pirates to all this pother."
With the first streak of day came the pirate captain with his flag of truce, and again made his offers of peace, friends.h.i.+p, and civility, and again met with a vehement negative, though most forlorn were now our hopes and fortunes. To our surprise we now only saw La Luna. There was not a vestige of the pirate s.h.i.+p.
The pirate king had now recourse to threats, which we heard in disdainful silence. After spending half an hour in oaths and threats, he waved his hand, and, stamping with anger, pointed to La Luna. "I give you one hour," he cried, "if by that time you do not come down voluntarily, I intend sweeping the top of your rock with those two guns." We looked towards the vessel; she had been brought within gun shot, and her bra.s.s cannons were placed directly before us. "I know,"
continued the pirate, "who you all are, and I have no wish to harm you, but rather to gain the rewards offered for your recovery. Be persuaded and be reasonable."
_Mother._--"Captain, what do you think, what shall we do, he speaks fair?"
_Captain._--"Madam, we must not trust him. I feel sure they have some reason for this bustle and activity all night, and I feel persuaded they have scuttled their s.h.i.+p and sunk her. Look round, and you will see that when they retire into the caverns, there is not a trace of human beings about save our own vessel, and that looks weather-beaten and old enough to have been riding at anchor there for ages. No doubt they have concealed all traces of themselves in her. If they get us down they will use us as hostages for their own safety, or they may murder us at once, and thus leave no one to tell the tale of the caverns. As long as we are alive that secret cannot be kept, and, having made a settlement here, I think there is every probability that they will commit any crime sooner than suffer such a convenient and suitable stronghold for them to be discovered. I trust them not, let us trust in G.o.d."
_Mother._--"And you, Schillie, tell me what do you advise?"
Schillie rose up, and drawing me to the highest part of the rock, turned her broad white forehead to the s.h.i.+p, while her clear eyes, darkened in their beauty by the emotions of the hour, looked steadily down into the mouths of the guns.
_Schillie._--"June, do you believe that the spirits of the departed know what occurs on earth, and with unseen forms can visit those they love?"
_June._--"I hold some such doctrine, my Schillie, but whether there is truth in it or not, the departed alone can tell."
_Schillie._--"I'll put faith in your doctrine, my mistress, and think that in an hour I may behold my children, though unseen by them."
_June._--"And is it this feeling that makes you gaze so boldly into the jaws that are so shortly to breathe forth death to us?"
_Schillie._--"It may be so, or it may be the strength given from on high for such emergencies as these. In this awful hour I feel no fear; a sacred calm is filling my heart. My G.o.d, I feel Thou art near; Thou knowest this is not presumption that I bow me in humility before Thy throne, that I approach it under the shadow of my Saviour's wing."
I gazed in her face, flushed with ardour, refulgent with her inspired feelings, and thought her half way to heaven already.
_June._--"My Schillie, ere you go, take my thanks take my heartfelt grat.i.tude with you for all you have been to me."
_Schillie._--"We go together, June, we shall not be separated in the happy pasture fields of our immortal shepherd. You will come with me to gaze on my children, and whisper holy dreams of goodness and truth into their childish ears to prepare them for the burdens of life, such as we have gone through. Our fates in life were thrown together, and the last act of mercy received from our gracious Father is this, that we die together."
_June._--"But with my mortal lips and mortal heart receive my thanks, for, without you, what should I have done? Without your brave heart and good spirit to help me I must have given way. Without your hopeful, strong, and G.o.dly mind I, guilty of ungrateful murmurs, should have forfeited the right of comfort from on high. Ah! my Schillie, take my thanks, for next to my Father, Saviour, G.o.d in heaven, what do I not owe to you?"
_Schillie._--"Enough, enough, we give and take in this world. Our obligations to each other are mutual. We have an eternity before us to settle the debt between us. Our time on earth draws to a close. It is fit we prepare the young and weak for the fate they seem hardly to realize."
_June._--"I shrink from them. Oh, my Schillie, do me a last act of kindness, and keep them from my sight."
_Schillie._--"Nay, rouse yourself, and remember you take all you love with you."
_June._--"But such a death! and they so young, so beloved, so lovely and gifted, to die in so horrible a manner."
_Schillie._--"Then think of the fate you would have them live for. But one hour of mental agony, and they are safe in their Saviour's arms."
_June._--"And, oh, Schillie, one more horrible fear I have. Suppose those dreadful guns do not fully complete their dreadful work. Think if some are left, wounded and maimed, yet more wounded in heart at the death of those they loved."
_Schillie._--"Call them, and give each their choice."
They came, but it was only to group themselves in one close embrace about us. They replied not to the words we uttered, but looking as fearlessly as Schillie did down on the brazen mouths of death, they turned their loving eyes in unutterable affection towards us. The beaming light of Schillie's countenance seemed reflected on each young face, until we thought an halo of glory already surrounded them.
The two men tenderly lifted up Madame, and laid her moaning and unconscious at our feet, and then placed themselves on each side of the group.
"See," said Schillie, half smiling and waving her hand, "your last fear is groundless, it will take but one of those cannon to deliver us all at the same moment from this mortal coil. Let us lift up our hearts to G.o.d."
Yr Ynys Unyg Part 29
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Yr Ynys Unyg Part 29 summary
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