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Rodman The Boatsteerer And Other Stories (1898)
Louis Becke



CONTENTS:

RODMAN THE BOATSTEERER
A POINT OF THEOLOGY ON MÂDURÔ
A MAN OF IMPULSE
THE TRADER
MRS. CLINTON
THE CUTTING-OFF OF THE "QUEEN CHARLOTTE"
THE PERUVIAN SLAVERS
A QUESTION OF PRECEDENCE
A TOUCH OF THE TAR-BRUSH
THE TRADER S WIFE
NINA
THE EAST INDIAN COUSIN
PROCTOR THE DRUNKARD
A PONAPEAN CONVENANCE
IN THE KING'S SERVICE, EPISODES OF A BEACH-COMBER
OXLEY, THE PRIVATEERSMAN
THE ESCAPEE
EMA, THE HALF-BLOOD
LEASSÉ
THE TROUBLE WITH JINABAN





RODMAN THE BOATSTEERER




I.

With her white cotton canvas swelling gently out and then softly
drooping flat against her cordage, the _Shawnee_, sperm whaler of New
Bedford, with the dying breath of the south-east trade, was sailing
lazily over a sea whose waters were as calm as those of a mountain lake.
Twenty miles astern the lofty peaks of Tutuila, one of the islands
of the Samoan group, stood out clearly in the dazzling sunshine,
and, almost ahead, what at dawn had been the purple loom of Upolu was
changing to a cloud-capped dome of vivid green as the ship closed with
the land.

The _Shawnee_ was "a five-boat ship," and, judging from the appearance
of her decks, which were very clean, an unlucky one. She had been out
for over a year, and three months had passed since the last fish had
been killed. That was off the coast of Chile, and she was now cruising
westward and northward towards the eastern coast of New Guinea, where
Captain Harvey Lucy, the master, expected to make up for the persistent
ill-luck that had attended him so far. Naturally a man of most violent
and ungovernable temper, his behaviour to his men on the present voyage
had led to disastrous consequences, and the crew, much as they admired
their captain as one of the most skilful whalemen who had ever trod
a deck, were now worked up into a state of exasperation bordering on
mutiny. Shortly before the Samoan Islands were sighted, the ship's
cooper, a man who took the cue for his conduct to the hands from the
example set by the captain, had had a fierce quarrel with a young
boat-steerer, named Gerald Rodman, who, in a moment of passion, struck
the cooper such a terrific blow that the man lay between life and death
for some hours. An attempt to put Rodman in irons was fiercely resisted
by a number of his shipmates, who were led by his younger brother. But
the after-guard were too strong for the men, and after a savage conflict
the two Rodmans and three other seamen were overpowered by Captain Lucy,
his four mates and the carpenter and stewards. As was common enough
in those days on American whaleships, nearly all the officers were
relatives or connections by marriage, and were always ready to stand
by the captain; in this instance the cooper was a brother of the second
mate. Six days had passed since this affair had occurred, and when Upolu
was sighted the five men were still in irons and confined in the hot
and stifling atmosphere of the sail-locker, having been given only just
enough food and water to keep body and soul together.

Four bells struck, and Captain Lucy made his appearance from below. The
watch on deck, who had hitherto been talking among themselves as they
went about their work, at once became silent, and muttered curses
escaped from their lips as they eyed the tall figure of the captain
standing at the break of the poop. For some minutes he apparently took
no notice of any one about him; then he turned to the mate, who stood
near him, and said:

"Have you had a look at those fellows this morning, Brant?"

"Yes," answered the officer. "They want to know if you're going to let
them have a smoke."

A savage oath preceded Captain Lucy's reply--

"They can lie there till they die before any one of them shall put a
pipe in his mouth."

"Just as you please, captain," said the mate, nonchalantly. "I guess you
know best what you're doing. But there's going to be more trouble aboard
this ship if you don't ease up a bit on those five men; and if I were
you I wouldn't go too far. One of 'em--that youngest Rodman boy--can't
stand much more of that sail locker in such weather as this. And I guess
_I_ don't want to go before a grand jury if he or any of 'em dies."

"I tell you, Brant, that rather than ease up on those fellows, I'd lose
the ship. I'm going to keep them there till we strike another fish, and
then I'll haze what life is left in them clean out of them."

Rough and harsh as he was with the crew of the _Shawnee_, Brant was no
vindictive tyrant, and was about to again remonstrate with the savage
Lucy, when, suddenly, the thrilling cry of "There she blows!" came from
the look-out in the crow's nest; and in a few minutes the barque's decks
were bustling with excitement. A small "pod" or school of sperm whales
were in sight. Four boats were at once lowered and started in pursuit.

When first sighted from the ship the whales were not more than two miles
distant, and moving towards her. The mate's boat was first away, and in
a very short time fastened to the leader of the "pod"--a huge bull over
sixty feet in length. In less than five seconds after the keen-edged
harpoon had plunged deep into his body, the mighty fish "sounded"
(dived) at a terrific speed; the other whales at once disappeared and
Brant's boat shot away from the other three. The remaining boats were
those of the captain and the second and third mates. For some ten or
fifteen minutes their crews lay upon their oars watching the swift
progress of the mate's boat, and scanning the sea from every point
around them, to discern where the vanished and unstricken whales would
rise to breathe again. At last they saw the great bull, to which the
mate's boat was fast, burst out upon the surface of the water, two miles
away. For a minute the mighty creature lay exposed to view, beating the
sea into a white seeth of foam as he struck the water tremendous blows
with his tail, and sought to free himself from the cruel steel in his
body. As he thrashed from side to side, two of his convoy rose suddenly
near him as if in sympathy with their wounded leader. Then, in an
instant, they all disappeared together, the stricken whale still
dragging the mate's boat after him at an incredible speed.

Knowing that in all probability the two whales which had just appeared
would accompany the great bull to the last--when he would receive
the stroke of the death-dealing lance from Brant--the captain of the
_Shawnee_ at once started off in pursuit, accompanied by the second and
third mates' boats. The crews bent to their tough ash oars with
strength and determination. There was no need for the dreadful oaths
and blasphemies with which Captain Lucy and his officers assailed their
ears, or his threats of punishment should they fail to catch up the
mate's boat and miss killing the two "loose" whales; the prospect of
such a prize was all the incentive the seamen needed. With set teeth
and panting bosoms they urged the boats along, and presently they were
encouraged by a cry from the third mate, who called out to the captain
and second mate that the wounded whale was slackening his speed, and Mr.
Brant was "hauling up alongside to give him the lance." In another
fifty strokes the captain and the two officers saw the great head of
the creature that was dragging the mate's boat along again appear on the
surface, and on each side were his devoted cetacean companions, who were
almost of as monstrous a size as the bull himself.

With savage oaths the captain urged his crew to fresh exertions, for
just then he saw the mate go for'ard in his boat and plunge his keen
lance of shining steel into his prize, then back his boat off as the
agonised whale again sounded into the blue depths below, with his
life-blood pouring from him in a bubbling stream.




II.

On board the _Shawnee_ the progress of the boats was watched amid the
most intense excitement; and even the imprisoned seamen, in their foul
and horrible prison, stretched their wearied and manacled limbs and
sought to learn by the sounds on deck whether any or all of the boats
were "fast"--that is, had harpooned a whale. Broken-spirited and
exhausted as they were by long days of cruel and undeserved punishment,
they would have forgotten their miseries in an instant had the fourth
mate ordered them on deck to lower his boat--the only one remaining on
board--and join their shipmates in the other boats in the chase. But of
this they knew there was little prospect, for this remaining boat had
been seriously injured by a heavy sea, which had washed her inboard
a few days before the fight between the officers and crew. Presently,
however, they heard the hurried stamping of feet on deck, and then the
voices of the fourth mate and cooper giving orders to take in sail.

"Jerry," said a young English lad named Wray, to the elder Rodman, "do
you hear that? One of the boats must have got 'fast' and killed. We'll
be out of this in another half-hour, cutting-in. The captain won't
let us lie here when there is work to be done on deck; he's too mean a
Yankee to satisfy his revenge at the expense of his pocket."

But their pleasant belief that a whale had been killed, and that the
ship was shortening sail while the carcass was being cut-in, was rudely
disturbed a few minutes later, when the _Shawnee_ took a sudden list
over to port, and they were all pitched to the lee side of the sail
locker in a heap. A squall had struck the barque.

Bruised and lacerated by the force with which they had been hurled
together, the five prisoners sat up, and were soon enlightened as to the
condition of affairs by the carpenter making his appearance, taking off
their galling irons, and ordering them on deck.

The squall was a very heavy one, accompanied by savage gusts of stinging
rain, and the old ship, with her canvas in great disorder, was every
now and then thrown almost on her beam ends with its fury. After
considerable trouble the officers and crew succeeded in saving her
canvas from being blown to ribbons, and got the barque snug again. A
quarter of an hour later the squall began to lose its force, but the
rain descended in torrents, and obscured the view of the now agitated
ocean to such an extent that the look-outs from aloft could not discern
its surface a cable length away. All those on board the barque felt
intense anxiety as to whether the mate had succeeded in killing his
whale before the squall burst upon him, for they knew that had he not
done so he would have been compelled to cut the line and let his prize
escape; no boat could live in such a sea as had arisen when "fast" to
a sperm whale which was travelling at such a speed, even though fatally
wounded and weak from loss of blood.

An hour passed, and then, to the joy of all on board, the rain ceased,
a faint air came from the westward and blew away the thick clouds of
tropic mist which enveloped the ship. Ten miles distant the verdant
hills and valleys of Upolu glistened in the sunshine, and then one of
the look-outs hailed the deck:

"I can see a boat, Mr. Newman--it is Mr. Brant's. He has killed his
whale, sir."

In an instant the fourth mate was running aloft, but before he had
ascended to the fore-top the lookout cried:

"I can see the other three boats now, sir, and they are all 'fast,'
too."

A cheer broke from the _Shawnee's_ hands, and, disregarding for the time
all discipline, they sprang aloft one after another to gaze upon the
thrilling scene. Three miles away, and plainly discernible in the now
clear atmosphere, was the mate's boat lying alongside the big bull,
which had just been killed, and at about the same distance were the
boats of the captain and second and third mates, all "fast" to whales,
and racing swiftly to windward toward the horizon.

The fourth mate at once came down from aloft and held a hurried
consultation with the cooper--an old and experienced whaler. It was
evident to them that the three boats had only just succeeded in getting
"fast," and that, as darkness was so near, the officers in them would
have great difficulty in killing the whales to which they were "fast,"
as the sea was still very lumpy from the violence of the squall. None
of the boats were provided with bomb-guns, the use of which would have
killed the whales in a very short time; and the wind having again died
away it was impossible for the ship to work up to them. Nothing, it was
evident, could be done to assist the three boats, but it was decided to
send the one remaining on board the barque to help the mate to tow his
whale to the ship before the hordes of sharks, which would be attracted
to the carcass by the smell of blood, began to devour it.

The carpenter was at once set to work to make her temporarily
water-tight. By this time the sun had set, and only the position of
the mate's boat was made known to the ship by a light displayed by Mr.
Brant.

Standing on the port side of the poop, Martin Newman, the fourth mate,
was gazing anxiously out into the darkness, hoping to see the other
three boats show lights to denote that they had succeeded in killing
their fish, and were waiting for a breeze to spring up to enable the
barque to sail towards them. Although Newman was the youngest officer
on board, he was an experienced one, and the fact that his boat had not
been fit to lower with the other four had filled him with sullen rage;
for he was of an intensely jealous nature, and would rather have seen
the boats return unsuccessful from the chase than that he alone should
have missed his chance of killing a fish.

Presently the younger of the two Rodmans, who was his (Newman's) own
boatsteerer, ventured, in the fulness of his anxiety for his shipmates,
to step up to the officer and speak:

"Do you think, sir, that the captain and Mr. Ford and Mr. Manning have
had to cut their lines?"

The officer made no reply; and could the young boatsteerer have seen the
dark, forbidding scowl upon his face, he would never have addressed him
at such an unpropitious moment. But imagining that his question had not
been heard, the youth repeated it.

Newman turned, and seeing the lad standing in an attitude of expectancy,
asked him in savage tones what he was doing there.

"Nothing, sir; I only----"

"I'll teach you that a man doing nothing doesn't suit me when I'm
in charge of the deck of this ship!" and he struck the boatsteerer a
terrific blow in the mouth, which knocked him off the poop on to the
main deck.

When Ned Rodman came to, he found his head supported by his brother and
young Wray, and the rest of the hands on deck standing around him in
sympathetic silence. Newman was the most liked of all the officers,
and the lad whom he had struck down had been rather a favourite of his,
principally, it was supposed, because the two Rodmans came from the same
town as himself; and when the disturbance had arisen with the cooper,
and the two brothers had been put in irons, Newman had several times
expressed his sorrow to them when he had visited them in their prison.
His sudden outburst of violence to Ned Rodman was therefore a surprise
to the men generally; and several of them glanced threateningly at the
figure of the fourth mate, who was now striding to and fro on the poop,
occasionally hailing the look-outs in angry tones, and asking if any
more boat-lights were visible.

Gerald Rodman, though no words escaped his lips as he wiped away the
blood which welled from a terrible cut on his brother's temple, had in
his eyes a red light of passion that boded ill for the fourth mate when
the time came. He was five years older than his brother, and, although
both were boatsteerers, and had made many cruises in the Pacific, this
was the first time they had been shipmates. Unlike Ned, he was a man of
a passionate and revengeful nature, and the second mate, to whose boat
he belonged, had warned the cooper of the _Shawnee_ never to meet Gerald
Rodman ashore alone.

"He is a man who will never forgive an injury, and I would not care to
be in your shoes if he gets you by yourself one day."

And, as a matter of fact, Gerald Rodman had sworn to himself, when he
lay in irons, in the sail-locker, to have his revenge upon both the
cooper and Captain Lucy, should he ever meet either of them ashore at
any of the islands the barque was likely to touch at during her cruise.
He was a man of great physical strength, and, for his position, fairly
well educated. Both his parents were dead, and he and his brother Ned,
and a delicate sister of nineteen, were the sole survivors of a once
numerous family. The care of this sister was the one motive that
animated the elder brother in his adventurous career; and while his
reserved and morose nature seemed incapable of yielding to any tender
sentiment or emotion, it yet concealed a wealth of the deepest affection
for his weakly sister, of which the younger one had no conception.
And yet, strangely enough, it was to Ned that Nellie Rodman was most
attached; it was to _his_ return that she most looked forward, never
knowing that it was Gerald's money alone that maintained the old family
home in the quiet little New England village in which her simple life
was spent. Little did she think that when money was sent to her by
Gerald, saying it came "from Ned and myself," that Ned had never had a
dollar to send. For he was too careless and too fond of his own pleasure
to ever think of sending her money. "Jerry," he thought, "was a mighty
stingy fellow, and never spent a cent on himself--and could easily send
Nell all she wanted." And yet Gerald Rodman, knowing his brother's weak
and mercurial nature, and knowing that he took no care in the welfare
of any living soul but himself, would have laid his life down for him,
because happy, careless Ned had Nellie's eyes and Nellie's mouth, and in
the tones of his voice he heard hers. So as he sat on the deck, with
his brother's head upon his knees, he swore to "get even" with Martin
Newman, as well as with Captain Lucy and cooper Burr, for as he watched
the pale face of the lad it seemed to him to grow strangely like that of
his far-off sister.

He had just completed sewing up the gaping wound in his brother's
temple, when the cooper came up to the group:

"Here, lay along, you fellows; the carpenter has finished Mr. Newman's
boat, and some of you loafing 'soldiers' have to man her and help Mr.
Brant to tow his whale alongside. Leave that man there, and look spry,
or you'll feel mighty sorry."




III.

As the cooper turned away the younger Rodman, assisted by his brother,
staggered to his feet. The fall from the poop had, in addition to the
cut in his temple, severely injured his right knee, and he begged his
brother to let him lie down again.

"Yes, yes," whispered Gerald Rodman, hurriedly; "lie down, Ned," and
then the lad heard him speaking to Wray in eager, excited tones.

"I'm with you, Jerry," said the young Englishman, quickly, in answer to
something that Rodman had said; "where is he now?"

"In the cabin, getting some Bourbon for Mr. Brant's boat. There is only
the Dago steward with him, and if Porter and Tom Harrod will join us we
shall manage the thing right enough."

"What is the matter, Jerry--what are you talking about?" asked Ned from
where he lay.

"Keep still, Ned, and ask us nothing just now; there's a chance of our
getting clear of this floating hell. I needn't ask _you_ if you'll join
us. Come on, Wray."

The fourth mate and the Portuguese steward were in the main cabin
filling some bottles from a large jar of Bourbon whisky. Their backs
were turned to the door, and both were so intent upon their task that
they neither heard nor saw the four figures steal softly upon them.
Suddenly they were seized from behind by Wray and Gerald Rodman, and
then quickly gagged by Harrod and Porter before either had time to utter
a cry. In a few minutes the four men had armed themselves with cutlasses
from the rack around the mizzen-mast, which came through the cabin at
the for'ard end of the table, Rodman also taking the captain's and chief
mate's loaded revolvers out of their berths.

The fourth mate and steward were then carried into the captain's cabin,
and Gerald Rodman spoke:

"Newman," he said, "we are going to take charge of this ship for a
while. If you make an attempt to give an alarm you are a dead man. Wray,
stand here and run them both through if they make the ghost of a sound."

Again entering the captain's cabin, he returned with two or three
charts, a sextant and the ship's chronometer, which he placed on the
table just as a heavy footfall sounded on the companion steps. It was
the cooper.

"The boat is all ready, Newman," he said, as he entered the somewhat
darkened cabin; "who is going in her?"

"We are," said Rodman, dealing him a blow with the butt of his pistol
and felling him. "Leave him there, Wray--he'll give us no trouble.
Now take every one of those rifles out of the rack and put them on the
table. There's two kegs of powder and a bag of bullets in Mr. Brant's
cabin--get those as well."

This was quickly done, and, calling to the others to follow him, Rodman
sprang up the companion. No one but the man at the wheel was on the
poop, and the leader of the mutineers, looking over the rail, saw that
the boat was alongside with only one hand in her. Besides this man
there were but eight other persons besides the mutineers on the ship,
including the fourth mate, cooper, steward, and carpenter.

Calling the carpenter to him, Rodman covered him with his pistol, and
told him and the rest of the startled men to keep quiet or it would be
worse for them.

"Two of you help my brother into the boat," he ordered. He was at once
obeyed, and Ned Rodman was passed over the side into the hands of the
man in the boat.

"Put out every light on deck and aloft," was his next command, and this
was done by the watch without delay; for there was in Rodman's face such
a look of savage determination that they dared not think of refusing.
Then he ordered them into the sail-locker.

"Now, Mr. Waller," he said, addressing the carpenter, "we don't want to
hurt you and these three men with you. But we are desperate, and bent on
a desperate course. Still, if you don't want to get shot, do as I tell
you. Get into that sail-locker and lie low. Mr. Newman and the cooper
and the steward are already disposed of. And I'm going to put it out of
the power of Captain 'Brute' Lucy to get me and those with me into his
hands again."

"You won't shut us up in the sail-locker and scuttle the ship and let us
drown, will you?" asked the carpenter.

"No; I'm no murderer, unless you make me one. If there is any one I have
a grudge against it is Mr. Newman and the cooper; but I won't do more
to the cooper than I have already done. Still I'm not going to leave the
ship in your hands until I have messed her up a bit. So away with you
into the locker, and let us get to work."

Then, with the man from the boat, the carpenter and his companions were
pushed into the sail-locker and the door securely fastened. Looking down
from the skylight into the cabin Rodman saw that the cooper had not yet
come to, and therefore no danger need be apprehended from him. Sending
Wray below, the rifles, ammunition, and nautical instruments were passed
up on deck and handed down into the boat. Then, leaving Porter on guard
to watch the cooper, Rodman and the others went for'ard with a couple of
axes and slashed away at the standing fore-rigging on both sides; they
then cut half-way through the foremast, so that the slightest puff of
wind, when it came, would send it over the side. Then, going for'ard,
they cut through the head stays.

"That will do," said the boat-steerer, flinging down his axe; and then
walking to the waist he hailed the boat:

"Are you all right, Ned?"

"Yes," answered the youth, "but hurry up, Jerry, I think a breeze is
coming."

Running aft, the elder brother sprang up the poop ladder and looked down
through the skylight into the cabin. "Cut Mr. Newman and the steward
adrift," he said to Wray.

Wray disappeared into Captain Lucy's cabin, and at once liberated the
two men, who followed him out into the main cabin.

"Martin Newman," said Rodman, bending down, "just a word with you. You,
I thought, were a shade better than the rest of the bullying scoundrels
who officer this ship. But now, I find, you are no better than Bully
Lucy and the others. If I did justice to my brother, and _another
person_ I would shoot you, like the cowardly dog you are. But stand up
on that table--and I'll tell you why I don't."

The dark features of the fourth mate blanched to a deathly white,
but not with fear. Standing upon the table he grasped the edge of
the skylight, under the flap of which Gerald Rodman bent his head and
whispered to him:

"Do you know why I don't want to hurt you, Martin Newman? When I came
home last year I found out my sister's love for you; I found your
letters to her, and saw her eating her heart out for you day by day, and
waiting for your return. And because I know that she is a dying woman,
and will die happy in the belief that you love her, I said nothing. What
I have now done will prevent my ever seeing her again, though I would
lay my life down for her. But listen to me. Ned will, must, return to
her, and beware, if ever you accuse him of having taken a hand in this
mutiny----"

The hands of the fourth mate gripped the skylight ledge convulsively,
and his black eyes shone luridly with passion. Then his better nature
asserted itself, and he spoke quietly:

"Jerry, I did not know it was Ned whom I struck to-night. I was not
myself.... I never meant to harm _him_. And for Nell's sake, and yours
and Ned's, give up this madness."

"Too late, too late, Newman. I would rather die to-night than spend
another hour on board this ship. But at least, for Nell's sake, you
and I must part in peace," and the mutineer held out his hand. It was
grasped warmly, and then with a simple "goodbye" Rodman turned away,
walked to the poop ladder and called out:

"Into the boat, men!"

Five minutes later they shoved off from the _Shawnee_, whose lofty spars
and drooping canvas towered darkly up in the starless night. At the
last moment Gerald Rodman had hoisted a light on the mizzen-rigging as a
guide to the four absent boats. As the mutineers pulled quickly away its
rays shone dimly over the barque's deserted decks.

When daylight came the _Shawnee_ was still drifting about on a sea as
smooth as glass, and the four boats reached her just before the dawn.
The boat with the mutineers could not be discerned even from aloft,
and Captain Harvey Lucy, in a state of mind bordering on frenzy, looked
first at his tottering foremast and then at the four whales which had
been towed alongside, waiting to be cut-in. With the rising sun came
another rain-squall, and the foremast went over the side, although
Martin Newman with his men had done their best to save it. But Lucy,
being a man of energy, soon rigged a jury-mast out of its wreck, and set
to work to cut-in his whales. Three days later the _Shawnee_ stood away
for Apia Harbour in Samoa.

"Those fellows have gone to Apia," he said to mate Brant, "and I'll go
there and get them if it takes me a month of Sundays."

But when the _Shawnee_ dropped anchor in the reef-bound harbour, Captain
Lucy found that he had come on a vain quest--the mutineers' boat had not
been seen.

For seven years nothing was ever heard of the missing boat, till one day
a tall, muscular-looking man, in the uniform of a sergeant of the New
South Wales Artillery, came on board the American whaleship _Heloise_,
as she lay in Sydney harbour, refitting. He asked for Captain Newman,
and was shown into the cabin.

The captain of the _Heloise_ was sitting at the cabin table reading a
book, and rose to meet his visitor.

"What can I do for you, sir? Good God! is it you, Gerald Rodman!"

The soldier put out his hand. "Is my sister alive, Newman?"

"She died three years ago in my arms, hoping and praying to the last
that she might see you and Ned before she died. And Ned?"

"Dead, Newman; he and Wray and Porter died of thirst. Harrod and I alone
survived that awful voyage, and reached New Zealand at last. Was Nell
buried with the old folks, Martin?"

"Yes," answered the captain of the _Heloise_, passing his hand quickly
over his eyes, "it was her wish to lie with them. We had only been
married two years."

The sergeant rose, and took Newman's hand in his, "Goodbye, Martin. Some
day I may stand with you beside her grave."

And then, ere the captain of the whaleship could stay him, he went on
deck, descended the gangway, and was rowed ashore to the glittering
lights of the southern city.




A POINT OF THEOLOGY ON MÂDURÔ

The _Palestine_ Tom de Wolf's South Sea trading brig, of Sydney, had
just dropped anchor off a native village on Mâdurô in the North Pacific,
when Macpherson the trader came alongside in his boat and jumped on
board. He was a young but serious-faced man with a red beard, was thirty
years of age, and had achieved no little distinction for having once
attempted to convert Captain "Bully" Hayes, when that irreligious
mariner was suffering from a fractured skull, superinduced by a bullet,
fired at him by a trader whose connubial happiness he had unwarrantably
upset. The natives thought no end of Macpherson, because in his spare
time he taught a class in the Mission Church, and neither drank nor
smoked. This was quite enough to make him famous from one end of
Polynesia to the other; but he bore his honours quietly, the only signs
of superiority he showed over the rest of his fellow traders being
the display on the rough table in his sitting-room of a quantity of
theological literature by the Reverend James MacBain, of Aberdeen. Still
he was not proud, and would lend any of his books or pamphlets to any
white man who visited the island.

He was a fairly prosperous man, worked hard at his trading business,
and, despite his assertions about the fearful future that awaited every
one who had not read the Reverend Mr. MacBain's religious works, was
well-liked. But few white men spent an evening in his house if they
could help it. One reason of this was that whenever a ship touched at
Mâdurô, the Hawaiian native teacher, Lilo, always haunted Mac-pherson's
house, and every trader and trading skipper detested this teacher above
all others. Macpherson liked him and said he was "earnest," the other
white men called him and believed him to be, a smug-faced and sponging
hypocrite.

Well, as I said, Macpherson came on board, and Packenham and Denison,
the supercargo, at once noticed that he looked more than usually solemn.
Instead of, as on former occasions, coming into the brig's trade-room
and picking out his trade goods, he sat down facing the captain and
answered his questions as to the state of business, etc., on the island,
in an awkward, restrained manner.

"What's the matter, Macpherson?" said the captain. "Have you married a
native girl and found out that she is related to any one on the island,
and you haven't house-room enough for 'em all, or what?"

The trader stroked his bushy sandy beard, with a rough brown hand, and
his clear grey eyes looked steadily into those of the captain.

"I'm no the man to marry any native girl, Captain Packenham. When I do
marry any one it will be the girl who promised hersel' to me five years
ago in Aberdeen. But there, I'm no quick to tak' offence at a bit of
fun. And I want ye two tae help me to do a guid deed. I want ye tae come
ashore wi' me at once and try and put some sense into the head of this
obstinate native teacher."

"Why, what has he been doing?"

"Just pairsecuting an auld man of seventy and a wee bit of a child. And
if we canna mak' him tak' a sensible view of things, ye'll do a guid
action by taking the puir things awa' wi' ye to some ither pairt of the
South Seas, where the creatures can at least live."

Then he told his story. Six months before, a German trading vessel
had called at Mâdurô, and landed an old man of seventy and his
grand-daughter--a little girl of ten years of age. To the astonishment
of the people the old man proved to be a native of the island. His name
was Rimé. He had left Mâdurô forty years before for Tahiti as a seaman.
At Tahiti he married, and then for many years worked with other Marshall
Islanders on Antimanao Plantation, where two children were born to
him. The elder of these, when she was fifteen years of age, married a
Frenchman trading in the Paumotu Islands.

The other child, a boy, was drowned at sea. For eight or nine years Rimé
and his Tahitian wife, Tiaro, lived alone on the great plantation; then
Tiaro sickened and died, and Rimé was left by himself. Then one day
came news to him from the distant Paumotus--his daughter and her white
husband had fallen victims to the small-pox, leaving behind them a
little girl. A month later Rimé worked his way in a pearling schooner to
the island where his granddaughter lived, and claimed her. His heart was
empty he said. They would go to Mâdurô, though so many long, long years
had passed since he, then a strong man of thirty, had seen its low line
of palm-clad beach sink beneath the sea-rim; for he longed to hear the
sound of his mother tongue once more. And so the one French priest on
Marutea blessed him and the child--for Rimé had become a Catholic during
his stay in the big plantation--and said that God would be good to them
both in their long journey across the wide Pacific to far-off Mâdurô.

But changes had come to Mâdurô in forty years. When Rimé had sailed away
to seek his fortune in Tahiti he and his people were heathens; when
he returned he found them rigid Protestants of the Boston New England
Cotton-Mather type, to whom the name of "Papist" was an abomination
and a horror. And when Rimé said that he too was a Christian--a
Katoliko--they promptly told him to clear out. He was not an American
Christian anyway, they said, and had no business to come back to Mâdurô.

"And," said Macpherson, "I'll no suffer this--the poor creature an' the
wee lit child canna git a bit to eat but what I gie them. And because I
_do_ gie them something to eat Lilo has turned against me, an' says I'm
no a Christian. So I want ye to come ashore and reason wi' the man. He's
but a bigot, I fear; though his wife is no so hard on the poor man and
the child as he is; but a woman aye has a tender heart for a child. And
yet, ye see, this foolish Rimé will no give in, and says he will die
before he changes his faith at Lilo's bidding. They took awa' his silly
brass cruceefix, and slung it into the lagoon. Then the auld ass made
anither out of a broken canoe paddle, and stickit the thing up in my
cook-shed! And I have no the heart to tell him to put it in the fire
and warm his naked shin bones wi' it. But I think if we all tackle the
native teacher together we may knock some sense into his conceited head,
and make him treat the poor man better. 'Tis verra hard, too, on the
poor auld fellow that these people will not give him back even a bit of
his own land."

Then he went on to say that ever since Rimé had landed he and the child
had been sleeping every night in his (Macpherson's) cooking-shed. The
trader had given him a bundle of mats and free access to a pile of Fiji
yams and a bag of rice, and sometime Louisa, Lilo's Hawaiian wife, would
visit them at night, ostensibly to convert Rimé from the errors of Rome,
but really to leave him a cooked fish or a piece of pork. Most of the
day, however, Rimé was absent, wandering about the beaches with his
grand-daughter. They were afraid to even pass near the village, for
the children threw stones at them, and the men and women cursed them
as Katolikos. Matters had gone on like this till two weeks before
the _Palestine_ arrived, when Lilo and some of his deacons had formed
themselves into a deputation, and visited the trader. It was very wrong
of him, they said, to encourage this wicked old man and his child. And
they wanted him to cease giving them food or shelter--then when the
"Katolikos" found themselves starving they would be glad to give up
the "evil" religion which they had learnt in Tahiti. Then would they be
baptized and food given them by the people of Mâdurô.

Macpherson tried to reason with Lilo. But neither he nor the
white-shirted, but trouserless, deacons would listen to him. And
furthermore, they gave him a warning--if Rimé continued obstinate, they
would hold him (Macpherson) responsible and _tapu_ his store. Rimé did
continue obstinate, and next morning the trader found himself _tabooed_,
which is a mere euphemism for boycotted.

"That's pretty rough on you, Mac," said Packenham.

"'Twill just ruin me, I fear. Ye see there's four other traders on this
island besides me, and all my business has gone to them. But what can
I do? The silly auld fule of a Rimé won't give in, and I canna see him
starve--the damned auld Papist."

*****

At noon, as Packenham, with his supercargo and Macpherson, stepped out
of the trader's dwelling, and walked together to the Mission House, a
native went through the village blowing a conch. Lilo had agreed to meet
the white men and discuss matters with them. Already the big room in the
teacher's house was filled with people, who sat around the walls three
or four deep, talking in whispered tones, and wondering why the white
men troubled so much over a miserable old man and a wretched child, who
were both accursed "Katolikos."

As the captain and his friends entered, Lilo, the teacher, advanced to
meet them. He was a small, slenderly built man, with a skin scarcely
darker than that of an Italian, and very handsome features. After a few
words of effusive welcome, and a particularly sweet smile to Macpherson,
he escorted the white men to their seats--three chairs placed together
at the head of the room.

Presently there was a shuffling of naked feet outside, and five or
six young men entered the house, pushing before them an old man and a
girl--Rimé and his grand-child. In the centre of the room was a small
square mat of coconut leaf--the Marshall Island prisoners' dock. With
limbs trembling with age, Rimé seated himself cross-legged; the child,
kneeling at his back, placed her bony arms around his wrinkled body, and
clasped him tightly; her eyes, big, black, and mournful, filled with
the indifference born of despair. Then, as she saw Macpherson, a faint
semblance of a smile flitted across her sallow face.

Lilo struck his hand upon a little table before which he sat, and
at once the assembly was silent. Then he turned to Packenham and, in
perfect English, pointing to the two figures in the centre of the room,
said--

"That is Rimé and his child. They have given us much trouble, and I and
the deacons of this island do not want trouble. We are Christians, and
will not have any 'Katolikos' here. Mr. Macpherson says we are cruel.
He is wrong. We are just, and this man and this child must give up their
false faith. But because you and Mr. Denison have written me a letter
about this matter I have called the people together so that we may
talk. So, if you please, captain, will you speak, and I will interpret
whatever you say to the people."

"Will he, the damned little sweep?" muttered the supercargo to
Packenham; "tell him that we can talk Mâdurô as well as he can--and
better."

So, much to the teacher's disgust, Packenham answered in the Mâdurô
dialect. "'Twas better," he said, "that they should all talk Mâdurô."
Lilo smiled unpleasantly, and said, "Very well."

Then Packenham, turning to the people, spoke to the point.

"Look into my face, people of Mâdurô, and listen to my words. Long
before the missionaries came to this island I lived among ye for three
years with my wife Nerida. And is there here one man or one woman who
can say that I ever lied to him or her? So this do I say to ye all;
and to thee, Lilo, the teacher of the Word of God, that ye do wrong to
persecute this old man and this child. For is it not true that he hath
land, which ye have denied to him? Is it not true that he is old and
feeble, and his limbs tremble as he walks? Yet ye neither give him food
nor drink, nor yet a mat whereon to lie his head. He is a 'Katoliko,'
ye say? Are there not many thousands of 'Katolikos' in Hawaii, the land
from whence comes Lilo? And I ask of thee, Lilo, do they suffer wrong
from the King and the chiefs of Hawaii because of their faith? So to
thee, Lilo, do I say 'beware.' Thou art but a young and ignorant man,
and were I to tell the white missionaries in Honolulu (who are thy
masters) that this old man and this little child would have died of
hunger but that the heart of one man alone was tender to them, then
wouldst thou hang thy head in shame when the mission ship comes here
next year. For hath not Christ said, 'Blessed are the merciful, for
they shall obtain mercy?' And so I say to ye all, let this old man dwell
among ye in peace, for death is near to him, and shame will be thine if
ye deny to him his right to die on his own land, of which ye have robbed
him."

The teacher sprang to his feet, his dark eyes blazing with passion.

"There shall be no mercy shown to Katolikos; for they are of hell and
the devil and his works!" and from the people there came a deep growl
of approval, which changed into a savage hissing as Macpherson rose and
stretched out his hand.

"Let me speak," he said.

"No," shouted the teacher. "Who are _you?_ You are a bad man, you
are----"

Packenham made two strides over to Lilo and placed his heavy hand on his
shoulder--"Sit down, you damned little psalm-singing kanaka hog, or I'll
knock your eye out. He _shall_ speak."

"Get thee hence, thou shielder of the devil's children," said a young,
fat deacon, walking up to the trader and spitting contemptuously at his
feet. "We want no such white men as thee among us here in Mâdurô." In
an instant Macpherson struck him between the eyes and sent him flying
backwards among his fellow-deacons. Then came an angry roar from the
people.

The trader turned to Packenham with a groan, "I'm a ruined man now,
Captain Packenham, and all through this auld fule of a Papist." Then he
again tried to speak amidst the uproar.

"Sit down, damn you," said Denison, the supercargo, "and don't excite
them any more. They're ready for any mischief now. Oh, you she-devil,"
and he darted into the middle of the room towards Rimé and his
grand-daughter. A stout muscular girl had torn the child's arms from the
old man's waist, and was beating her savagely in the face with clenched
fists. Denison gave her an under-clip on the jaw and sent her down, and
in a few seconds the old man and child were the centre of a struggling
group--the white men hitting out right and left to save them from being
murdered. The teacher's wife, a tall, graceful young woman--with
whom Denison had been exchanging surreptitious glances a few minutes
before--weeping copiously the while, aided them by belabouring the backs
of the women who were endeavouring to get at the prostrate figure of the
little girl. But Packenham, Macpherson, and the supercargo were too much
for the natives, and soon cleared a space around them.

"Take them to the ship, Captain Packenham," said the teacher's wife
pantingly, in English. "These people are mad now. Go--go at once."

Picking up the frail figure of the old man, the captain, followed by
Macpherson and the supercargo, soon gained the boat through a shower
of stones and other missiles. Ten minutes later they were on board the
Palestine.

*****

"What a devil of a row!" said Packenham, as he clinked his glass against
that of Macpherson, who, after the exciting events of the past hour,
had been induced to take a nip to steady his nerves; "you ought to be
d------d well ashamed of yourself, Mac, to be mixed up in a fight over a
Papist. What would Mr. MacBain say, eh?"

"It's a verra bad business for me," said Macpherson ruefully. "Ye'll
have to come back for me next month and tak' me awa' from Mâdurô. I'll
do no more business here, I can see."

"Right you are, Mac," and Packenham grasped his hand. "I _will_ come
back for you, if it takes me a month of Sundays to beat against the
trades. And you're a white man, Mac; and I'll never laugh at MacBain nor
Aberdeen theology any more."

That night, as the captain of the _Palestine_ slept upon the skylight,
old Rimé, who, with the child, lay upon the deck just beneath Packenham,
rose softly to his knees and peered into the white man's face. He was
sleeping soundly. Rimé touched his grandchild with his foot. She awoke,
and together they pressed their lips to the skipper's hand. Then,
without a sound, they stole along the deck, clambered over the brig's
low side, dropped into the water and swam ashore.

When daylight came the _Palestine_ was rolling heavily to a sweeping
westerly swell, with the wind piping hard through her cordage as she
strained at her cable. The absence of old Rimé and the child was not
discovered till coffee time; the mate thought they had gone to sleep in
the hold.

"They've swum ashore in the night, Pack," said the supercargo to
Packenham. "I believe the old fellow will be content to die of
starvation--hallo, here's Mac coming off in his boat!"

In less than ten minutes the trader's boat was close to the ship, and
Macpherson, bringing her up to the wind close under the brig's stern,
hailed Packenham.

"Hae ye seen anything of the old man Rimé?"

"No," answered the captain; "the old fool cleared out last night. Isn't
he on shore?"

"No. And there's a canoe missing from the beach, and I believe the auld
Papist fule has taken the wee bit lassie wi' him, and thinks he can
get to Ponape, whaur there's 'Katolikos' in plenty. And Ponape is sax
hundred miles awa'."

"Well, come aboard and get some breakfast."

"Man, I'm going after the old fule! He's got no sail and canna be twenty
mile awa'. I'll pick him up before he gets to Milli Lagoon, which is
only saxty miles from here."

Packenham swore. "You infernal ass! Are you going to sea in a breeze
like this by yourself? Where's your crew?"

"The deevils wadna' come wi' me to look for a Papist. And I'm not going
to let the auld fule perish."

"Then come alongside and take a couple of our Savage Island boys. I can
spare them."

"No, no, captain. I'm not going tae delay ye when ye're bound to the
eastward and I'm going the ither way. Ye'll find me here safe enough
when ye come back in anither month. And I'll pick up the auld deevil and
the wee bit lassie before mid-day."

And then, with his red beard spreading out across his shoulders,
Macpherson let his boat pay off before the wind. In an hour he was out
of sight.

*****

Three weeks afterwards the _Sadie Perkins_ sperm whaler of New Bedford,
came across a boat, five hundred miles west of Mâdurô. In the stern
sheets lay that which had once been Macpherson, the "auld fule Papist,
and the wee bit lassie."




A MAN OF IMPULSE

Blackett, the new trader at Guadalcanar in the Solomons, was
entertaining a visitor, an old fellow from a station fifty miles
distant, who had sailed over in his cutter to "have a pitch" with
his nearest white neighbour. And the new man--new to this particular
island--made much of his grizzled visitor and listened politely to the
veteran's advice on many subjects, ranging from "doctoring" of perished
tobacco with molasses to the barter of a Tower musket for a "werry nice
gal."

*****

The new trader's house looked "snugger'n anything he'd ever seed," so
the old trader had told him; and Blackett was pleased and very liberal
with the liquor. He had been but a few months on the island, and already
his house was furnished, in a rude fashion, better than that of any
other trader in the region. He was a good host; and the captains of the
Fiji, Queensland, and Samoan "blackbirders" liked to visit him and loll
about the spacious sitting-room and drink his grog and play cards--and
tell him that his wife was "the smartest and prettiest woman in the
group."

Blackett was especially vain of the young Bonin Island half-caste
wife who had followed his varying fortunes from her home in the far
north-west Pacific to the solitary, ghostly outlier of Polynesia--lonely
Easter Island, and thence to and fro amongst a hundred other islands.
He was vain of her beauty--the beauty that had led him to almost abandon
any intention of returning to civilisation; he was vain of the dark,
passionate eyes, the soft, wavy hair, and the proud little mouth
inherited from her Lusitanian father. Of this latter person, however,
neither Blackett nor Cerita, his wife, were over-proud--he was a
notorious old scamp and ex-pirate, even for that part of the Pacific,
and Cerita knew that Blackett had simply bought her from him as he would
buy a boat, or a bolt of canvas.

*****

Blackett, finding it impossible to make old Hutton drunk or get him to
turn in, resigned himself entirely to the old pirate, who, glancing
to the far end of the room, to where Cerita and his own wife, a
tall, lithe-limbed Aoba woman, were lying together on a mat smoking
cigarettes, proceeded to pour out the story of his countless murders and
minor villainies.

Blackett himself was a negatively-moral man. He could shoot a native if
necessity demanded, but would not do so hastily; and the old trader's
brutal delight in recounting his pot-shots only excited a disgust which
soon became visible in his face.

*****

"_That's_ all right, Mr. Blackett," said Hutton, with a hideous grin
distorting his monkeyish visage; "I'm only a-tellin' you of these
here things for your own good,... an' I ain't afeered of no man-o'-war
a-collarin' _me_. This here island is a place where you've got to sleep
with one eye open, an' the moment you sees a nigger lookin' crooked at
you put a lead pill in him--that is, if he's a stranger from somewheres.
An' the more you shoots the better you'll get on with your own nigs;
they likes you more and treats you better."

With a weary gesture, Blackett rose from his seat. "Thank you, Hutton,
for your advice. If I thought a nigger meant to send an arrow or a spear
through me I'd try to get the drop on him first. But I couldn't kill any
one in cold blood on mere suspicion. I could no more do that than--than
you could kill that Aoba wife of yours over there."

Old Hutton rose, too, and put a detaining hand on Blackett. "Look here,
now, an' I suppose you think I'm lyin'. If I thought that that there
Aoba wench was foolin' me in any way--sech as givin' away my tobacco
to a nigger buck, I'd have to wentilate her yaller hide or get laid out
myself."

Blackett shuddered. "I'm going to turn in. Let us have another drink,
Hutton. If the Dutch firm's schooner shows up this month I'll clear out
of this accursed hole. I hate the place, and so does my woman." He
used the term "woman" instead of wife purely out of deference to Island
custom; but Hutton noticed it.

"Ain't she really your wife?" he asked inquisitively.

"No--yes--what the devil does it matter to you?" And Blackett, whose
patience had quite worn out, filled the glasses, and passed one to his
visitor, who uncouthly apologised. Then the two shook hands and laughed.

*****

The night was close and sultry, and Cerita was lying on the cane-framed
bed, fanning herself languidly. The man was leaning, with his face
turned from her, against the open window, and looking out into the
jungle blackness that encompassed the house. He was thinking of Hutton's
query, "Ain't she really your wife?" His wife! No; but she would be yet.
He would leave this infernal island, where one never knew when he might
get a poisoned arrow or spear into him. He was making money here, yes;
but money wasn't worth dying for. And 'Rita was more than money to him.
She had been the best little woman in the world to him--for all her
furious temper.

"Yes, he would leave these blackguardly Solomons, with their hordes of
savage cannibals,... and go back to the eastward again,... and Sydney,
too. He could easily stow her away in some quiet house while he went and
saw his people." And so Blackett thought and smoked away till 'Rita's
voice startled him.

*****

"Give me a match, Harry: I want to smoke. I can't sleep, it's so hot,
and my arm is tired fanning, and the screen is full of mosquitoes. That
devil of a girl--where is she?"

"There!" said Blackett, pointing to beneath the bed, where Europuai, his
wife's attendant, lay rolled up in a mat.

"The black beast!"--and the half-blood rose from the bed, throwing the
mosquito-net angrily aside--"and I thought she was sleeping near the
Aoba woman, the wife of that drunken old Hutton," and, stooping down
so that her black hair fell like a mantle over her bare shoulders, she
seized the short, woolly head of the sleeper and dragged her out.

Blackett laughed. "Easy, 'Rita, easy! You'll frighten her so that she'll
clear out from us. Let her take her mat over there in the corner. Give
the poor devil a chance. She's terrified of old Hutton, so sneaked in
here to hide. She's only a wild bushy"--and he looked compassionately at
the almost nude figure of the girl that his wife had bought from a bush
town for a musket--because she wanted "something to worry," he used
jokingly to say.

The savage creature took the mat sullenly, went to the far end of the
room, and covered herself up again.

"You're too soft with women," said Rita, scornfully.

"I know I am--with you," he answered, good-naturedly. And then the angry
gleam in the black eyes died away, and she laughed merrily.

*****

Two days had passed. Old Hutton had returned to his station, and
Blackett was returning with a boatload of copra from a village across
the bay. Heavy rain-squalls tore down upon the boat at short intervals,
and Blackett, drenched to the skin, began to feel the first deadly
chills and pains of an attack of island fever. Usually light-hearted, he
now felt angry, and savagely cursed at his crew when the heavily-laden
boat touched and ground against the coral knobs that lay scattered about
her course. It was long past midnight when he reached his station, and,
stepping wearily out of the boat, dragged his aching limbs along the
beach. 'Rita had heard the boat, and Blackett could see that a bright
fire was burning in the thatched, open-sided cook-house, and that 'Rita
herself was there, with a number of native children making coffee.

The quickening agonies of fever were fast seizing him, and, entering the
house and throwing himself on a seat, he felt his brain whirling, and
scarcely noticed that Tubariga, the local chief, was bending over him
anxiously. Then 'Rita came with the steaming coffee, and one quick
glance at Blackett's crouched-up figure told her that the dreaded fever
had seized him at last.

'Rita proved herself what Blackett always called her, "one of the
smartest little women going." With Tubariga's help, she carried him
to the bed, and sent out for some women to come and rub and thump his
aching joints while she dosed him with hot rum and coffee. And then
Blackett asked her what she was doing out in the cook-house. Hadn't she
a cook? Then the suppressed rage of the hot-blooded girl broke out in
a flood of tears. Europuai, the wild bush-girl, had been sulky all the
time he was away, and she had given her a little beating with a bamboo.
And then the black devil had run away, and--here the angry beauty wept
again--she ('Rita) had to go out into a filthy cook-shed to boil water
before a lot of man-eating savages! No one would help her, because they
were all such fools that she always lost her temper with them.

*****

Blackett--under the combined influences of rum, strong coffee, fever,
and woman's tears--went into a rage, and glared angrily at the chief,
Tubariga.

"You're a d-------d nice fellow," he said in English; "you get my wife
to pay a good musket for a girl, and then as soon as I am away you let
that girl run back into the bush. You're a bad friend."

Tubariga felt hurt. He prided himself on two things--his knowledge of
English and his friendship for white men. He rose to his feet, grasped
his rifle, and made for the door.

"Here, come back, Tubariga. Perhaps it isn't your fault. Let her stay
away. She's no good, anyway."

Tubariga came back. "Tell me, white man, do you want your servant to
come back?"

"Yes, d---- you!" answered Blackett, who now again was seized with that
hideous brain-whirl that in fever is simple delirium, "bring her back,
alive or dead."

The chief nodded and went out.

*****

Next morning the first fierce violence of the fever had temporarily left
him, and Blackett was lying covered up with rugs, when the grim figure
of Tubariga entered noiselessly, and stole to his side. Motioning the
trader's wife away, Tubariga's savage features relaxed with a pleased
smile.

"Well, Tubariga, how are you?" said Blackett. "'Rita tell me I damn you
too much last night, eh? Never mind, old chap, I was mad about that girl
running away. You can tell her people to keep her--and the musket too.
Rita don't want her any more. Ship come soon, then we go away.'"

Again the pleased smile spread over the chiefs face. Bending over
Blackett he placed his hideous lips, blood-red with the stains of
betel-juice, close to his face, and said with the simple pride of a
child, "_Me pinish him_."

"What?" said Blackett, with a strange feeling at his heart--"What did
you do to that girl, Tubariga?"

Sitting down with his rifle across his knees, the chief told the
conscience-stricken trader that he had followed the girl to a bush
village, where he, Tubariga, as their chief, had demanded her from her
parents. They insisted on her going back, but she whimpered and said
that the white man's wife would beat her. She sprang for the jungle,
and, ere she reached it, a bullet from the chiefs rifle struck her in
the side. And then, with a feeling of horror, Blackett listened to the
rest of the tale--the poor wretch, with her life-blood ebbing fast, was
followed up and a spear thrust through her heart.

*****

He was sitting at the table with his face clasped in his hands when
'Rita came in. She was smoking her inevitable cigarette, and the thin
wreaths of blue smoke curled upwards from her lips as she leant one arm
on the table and caressed Blackett's ice-cold forehead with her shapely
hand. Suddenly she stooped and sought gently to remove his hands from
his face.

"Harry, are you very ill, old fellow? What can I do for you?"

"Do for me?" and the sudden misery that had smitten his heart looked out
from his pallid face,... "give me back the peace of mind that was mine
ten minutes ago. Leave me to die here of fever--for you I have become a
murderer--a man no better than Hutton. The blood of that poor girl
will for ever be between us." And then she saw that tears were falling
through his trembling fingers.

"Harry," she said, "I thought you were more of a man"--and here her
voice softened--"don't grieve over it. It wasn't your fault,... and I
have been a good little girl to you. Don't be miserable because of
such a little thing as that. If Tubariga hadn't killed her, I daresay I
should have done so myself. She was a sulky little wretch."

*****

I know Blackett well. The horror of that day has never entirely left
him. But for that one dark memory he would have married 'Rita--who
would have most probably run a knife into his ribs later on, when the
influence of her beauty had somewhat waned and he began to look at other
women. The fateful impulse of that moment when he told the chief to
bring back the girl dead or alive wrecked and tortured his mind beyond
description. And he can never forget.

His 'Rita and he left the island soon afterwards to wander away back to
Eastern Polynesia, but his continued fits of melancholy annoyed the girl
so much that she one day quarrelled with and left him, and made a fresh
matrimonial engagement with a man less given to mawkish sentiment.




THE TRADER




I.

The evening fires were lighting up the darkness of the coming night,
when Prout, the only white man on the island, left his house on the edge
of the lagoon, and, with his little daughter running by his side, walked
slowly through the village.

As they passed through the now deserted pathways that intersected the
straggling collection of grey, thatched-roofed houses, and Prout's heavy
step crunched into the broken coral, the natives, gathered together for
their evening meal, looked forth, and the brown women called out a word
or two of greeting to the child, and smiled and beckoned her to
leave her father for an instant and take the fruit or piece of cooked
breadfruit that they held out to her with their brown hands. But only
a solemn shake of the little head, and then she and the taciturn,
bronzed-faced man went by, the child's tiny fingers grasping his tanned
and roughened hand as they walked across the narrow island towards the
sound of the muffled thunder of the surf on the outer ocean beach.

*****

Here, with the little one perched beside him and looking wonderingly
into his grave, impassive face, the white man would sit for long hours
staring moodily out upon the tumbling breakers as they reared and fell
upon the black, grim shelves of the reef.

Sometimes, as he sat with his chin resting on his hand, and the red glow
of his pipe sending now and again a fitful gleam of light across the
rugged lines of his face, the girl would get quietly down from the
moss-grown coral boulder on which she rested by his side, and stepping
down to the short, steep beach, play with childish solemnity with such
pebbles and light shells as lay within the reach of her little hands.
Perhaps, if the tide was heavy and at its flood, and a breaker heavier
than the rest breached shorewards in a white wall of seething foam, and
crashed and rattled together the loose coral slabs that marked the line
of high-water mark, the silent, dreaming man would spring to his feet
with a loud warning call. And the little one, answering his deep tones
with her soft, sweet treble, would spring back to her father's side, and
nestling her tender form against his gaunt frame, lay her cheek against
his, and say, in the soft Tokelau tongue, "'Twas a great wave, my
father!"

"Aye," he would answer, as he placed an arm round the child and gazed at
her for a moment, "'twas a great wave truly, _taka taina_,{*} and thou
art so small, that if it but touched thy feet thou wouldst be swept
away like as a leaf in a strong wind. So stay thee here beside me, sweet
one," and again his face would turn seaward, and the silence of the
night, save for the soughing of the wind and the cry of the surf, fall
upon them again.

     *  "Little one of my heart."

Thus the first hours of the island night would pass, till a glare of
light flashed upon the blackness of the sea beyond the snow-line of
surf, as the canoes from Matakatea would round the point, each one with
a flaming torch of dried palm-leaves held high by a brown, tattooed
hand, to dazzle the flying fish that, with wings outspread, floated
motionless upon the surface of the water.

*****

Then, because the child had no playmates, and her little life was almost
as joyless and as solitary as his own, he would wait with her till
the long line of canoes passed by, so that she could see the bronzed,
half-naked figures of the paddlers, and the bright gleam and shimmer of
the fish as they were swept up by the deadly net, and hear the warning
cry from the torch-bearers, as in the depths beneath they saw the black
shadow of a prowling shark rushing to seize the net, or perchance the
outrigger of the canoe, in his cruel, murderous jaws.

Slowly the canoes paddled by, and as they passed, the hum of voices
and laughter and the cheery lilt of island melody died away, and the
paddlers looked shoreward to the motionless figure of Prout, who, with
the child by his side, seemed to heed naught but the wide sweep of ocean
that lay before him.

But though the voices and laughter and snatches of song ceased, many of
the kindly-hearted people would, ere they passed, call out a word or two
of greeting to the white man and his child, and the latter would wave
her hand and smile back, while her father, as if awakened from a dream,
called out, in the island tongue, the customary "May your fishing
to-night be lucky." And then, as the last canoe vanished, and the glare
and the smoke of the torches with it, he, with the little Mercedes by
his side, walked back to his house on the lagoon.

*****

And so, night after night, save in the stormy season of the year, when
the white rain-squalls gathered together on the windward sea-line, and
swept quickly down upon the island and drenched the loose, sandy soil
with pouring showers, the white man had sat with his face turned seaward
to the cloudless horizon of the starlit ocean and his mind dwelling upon
the ever-present memories of the past.

Such, for three years past, ever since he had first landed among the
people of Nukutavau, had been the existence of Prout, the silent,
solitary trader.

*****




II.

Nine years before, Prout, then one of the "smartest" Englishmen in the
Hawaiian Islands, had been manager of the Kalahua sugar plantation on
Maui. Out of his very loneliness in the world--for except his mother,
in a far-away Devonshire village, there was no one in the outside world
that cared aught for him--there grew upon him that quiet, reserved
temperament that led the other white men on the plantation to call him
in kindly jest, "Prout, the Hermit."

But although he never mixed with the men on the Kalahua Estate in the
wild revelries with which they too often sought to break the monotony of
their existence and celebrate a good season, he was by no means a morose
or unsociable man; and Chard, the merry-hearted Belgian sugar-boiler,
often declared that it was Prout alone who kept the estate going and
the native labourers from turning on the white men and cutting their
throats, out of sheer revenge for the brutal treatment they received
from Sherard, the savage, drunken owner of Kalahua.

Between Roden Sherard and Prout there had been always, from the first
day almost of the latter entering upon his duties, a silent, bitter
antagonism. And the reason of it was known only to the two men
themselves.

In those times the native labour for the Hawaiian sugar plantations was
recruited from the islands of the Mid-Pacific, and from the chains of
sandy atolls lying between the Bonins and the Radack Archipelago of the
Marshall Group. On Kalahua there were some three hundred natives, and
within a month of Prout taking charge, he had changed their condition
so much for the better, that not one of the wild-eyed, half-naked beings
who toiled from sunrise to dark but would give him a grateful glance as
he rode through the cane fields. And Sherard, who rode with him, would
see this, and scowl and tell Prout that as soon as his engagement
terminated, he, Sherard, would bring back Fletcher, the former manager,
"a man who would thump a kanaka into a pulp if he dared to look sideways
at him."

"If you are not satisfied with me you can bring him here to-morrow if
you like," Prout had said coldly to him one day. "I've managed bigger
places than this in Demerara, and on no one of them have I ever seen
a nigger struck. But then, you see, in Demerara the planters are
Englishmen, and Englishmen as a rule don't shine at nigger walloping."

Sherard, a black-visaged Marylander, snapped his teeth together and,
smothering his rage, tried to laugh the matter off.

"Well, I suppose you're right, Prout. I know I have got a good man in
you; but at the same time, God never intended these damned saucy niggers
to be coddled and petted."

Prout laughed ironically as he repeated Sherard's words "coddled and
petted!" And then long-suppressed wrath boiled out, and, swinging his
horse's head round, he faced the owner of Kalahua.

"Look here, Sherard, give me the control of these three hundred natives
for the next two seasons and I'll stake my life that they'll do more
work for you than you have ever had done by that brute Fletcher when he
had five hundred here. Do you think that these people _knew_ what was
in store for them when they came here?--that in place of an encouraging
word they would get a threat or a blow? That those of them who have
wives and daughters can forget what has befallen _them?_ Do you think
that I don't know that you speak of me to your friends with contempt as
'a nigger-loving Britisher'? And yet, Sherard, you know well that, were
I to leave Kalahua tomorrow, every native on the estate would leave
too--not for love of me, but to get away from _you_."

Sherard laughed coarsely.

"You've got more in you than I thought, Prout. What you say is true
enough. Let us quit quarrelling. I know you can do more with them than
Abe Fletcher could; and I guess I'm not going to interfere with you."

But, for all that, Prout did not trust Sherard, and he made up his mind
to leave the estate when his two years' engagement came to an end.

*****

"The _Mana_ is in Honolulu with a cargo of Line Island boys, Prout,"
said Sherard to him about a month or two after this; "I wish you would
get away down there, and try to obtain some more hands. You talk the
language like a Line Islander, and will have no trouble in getting all
the men we want."

But when Prout boarded the labour schooner _Mana_ there was not a native
left. The other planters on Oahu had been there before him, and the
master--Captain Courtayne--called him down to have a drink in the cabin.

"You are the new manager on Kalahua, hey? Well, I'm sorry you've had
your trip for nothing; but, at the same time, I'm real glad to see
Sherard left out in the cold. He's a bad man, sir, and although you
might think that because I'm in this trade I'm not particularly soft, I
can tell you that I'd be thundering sorry to see any of the crowd I've
brought up go to him."

"Your feelings do you honour, Captain; but I can assure you that the
Kalahua boys are well treated now," said Prout, as he took the cigar the
seaman handed him.

The quiet manner and truthful look in Prout's face made the master
of the schooner regard him intently for a few moments, then he said
abruptly:

"Do you know Honolulu well?"

Prout did not; his visits there had been few and far between.

"Do you know any decent people here who could take care of my daughter
for me till I come back from my next trip?"

"No, Captain, I do not."

"Take another whisky, sir, and I'll tell you the fix I'm in. You see I'm
new to this business. I had a trading station down on one of the Ellice
Islands where I've lived for the last twenty years. This schooner came
there about six months ago, and the captain died in my house. As the
mate couldn't navigate, and I am an old shell-back, I sold out my
trading station, took charge of her, brought my daughter aboard and
filled the schooner with Line Island labourers."

"Her mother is dead, I suppose?"

Captain Courtayne coloured and shifted about in his seat. "Well, no, not
as far as I know; but, you see, down there in the south-east a man has
to change his wives occasionally. For instance, if you marry a Samoa
girl you must live in Samoa; she won't leave there to go and live on
Nanomea or Vaitupu, where the people have different ideas and customs.
And, as we poor traders have to shift about from one island to another
sometimes, we can't afford to study a woman's whims."

Prout grasped the situation at once. "I see; your daughter, then, is
your child by a former wife?"

"Just so. Her mother was a Hervey Island half-caste whom I married when
I was trading on Manhiki. We drifted apart somehow--perhaps it was my
fault. I was a careless, hard-drinking man in those days. But, here I
am telling you a lot of things that don't interest you, when I ought to
tell you at once what it is I thought you might help me with. You see,
Mr. Prout, my little Marie has lived with me all her life. Since she was
five years old she has never left me for a day, and I've done my best to
educate her. She's as good and true as gold, and this is what troubles
me--I don't want to take her away again in the schooner if I can help
it. Do you think--do you know--of any English or American family here
that would take her to live with them till I return from this voyage?
I'm willing to pay well for her keep."

Prout shook his head. "I should advise you to take her back with you,
Captain. How old is she?"

The captain went to the companion-way and called out:

"Marie."

"Yes, father," answered a girl's soft voice.

"Come below a minute."

Prout heard some one getting out of a hammock that was slung over the
skylight, and presently a small slippered foot touched the first step of
the companion-way; and then a girl, about fifteen or sixteen, came
into the cabin, and bowing to him, seated herself by the captain of the
schooner. Then, as if ashamed of the formal manner of her greeting, she
rose again, and a smile lit up her beautiful face, as she offered her
hand to him.

Prout, one of those men whose inborn respect for women often makes them
appear nervous, constrained, and awkward in their presence, flushed to
the roots of his hair as she let her soft hand touch his.

"That is Marie, sir," and the skipper glanced somewhat proudly at the
graceful, muslin-clad figure of his daughter. "Marie, this gentleman
says he does not know any English or American ladies here."

The sweet red mouth smiled and the dark eyes danced.

"I'm very glad, father; I would rather go away with you to sea in the
_Mana_ than stay in a strange place."

*****

But Marie Courtayne did not go away; for next morning her father,
through Prout, learned that the French Sisters were willing to take her
as a boarder till the schooner returned, and so to them she went, with
her tender mouth twitching, and her eyes striving to keep back the tears
that would come as she bade her father goodbye.

"You'll go and see my little Marie sometimes, I hope, Mr. Prout?" said
Courtayne, as he bade farewell to the manager of Kalahua.

Prout murmured something in reply, and then the captain of the _Mana_
and he parted.

*****

Three months later the American cruiser _Saranac_ brought the news that
she had spoken the labour schooner _Mana_, Captain Courtayne, off the
island of Marakei, in the Gilbert Group, "all well, and wished to be
reported at Honolulu." After that she, her captain and crew, and the two
hundred Kanaka labourers she had on board, were never heard of again.

For nearly a year Prout and Marie Courtayne waited and hoped for some
tidings of the missing ship, but none came. And every now and then, when
business took him to Honolulu, Prout would call at the Mission School
and try to speak hopefully to her.

"He is dead," she would say apathetically, "and I wish I were dead, too.
I think I shall die soon, if I have to live here."

Then Prout, who had grown to love her, one day plucked up courage to
tell her so, and asked her to be his wife.

"Yes," she said simply, "I will be your wife. You are always kind to
me," and for the first time she put her face up to his. He kissed her
gravely, and then, being a straightforward, honourable man, he went to
the Sisters and told them. A week afterward they were married.

When he returned to Kalahua with his wife, Sherard met them on the
verandah of his house, and Prout wondered at the remarkable change in
his manner, for even to women Sherard was coarse and tyrannical.

From the moment he first saw Marie's fresh young beauty Sherard
determined to have a deadly revenge upon her husband. But he went about
his plans cautiously. Only a few days previously he had made a fresh
agreement with Prout to remain for another two years. Before those two
years had expired he meant to put his plan into effect. There was on
the plantation a ruffianly Chileno who, he knew, would dispose of Prout
satisfactorily when asked to do so.

*****

When Marie's child was born, Sherard acted the part of the imperatively
good-natured employer, and told Prout that as soon as his wife was
strong enough, he was to leave the house he then occupied and take up
his quarters permanently in the big house.

"This place of yours will do me, Prout," he said, when his manager
protested; "and your wife's only a delicate little thing. There's all
kinds of fixings and comforts there that she'll appreciate, which
you haven't got here. D------n my thick skull, I might have done this
before."

"Thank you, Sherard," said Prout, with a genuine feeling of pleasure.
"You are very good to us both. But I won't turn you out altogether; you
must remain there too."

Sherard laughed. "Not I. You'll be far happier up there together by
yourselves, like a pair of turtledoves. But I'll always be on hand in
the smoking-room when you want me for a game of cards."

The change was soon made, and Moreno, the Chilian overseer, grinned when
he saw the white-robed figure of the manager's wife lying on one of the
verandah lounges, playing with her child.

"Bueno," he said to Sherard that night, as they drank together, "the
plan works. Make the bird learn to love its pretty nest. _Dios_, when am
I to feel my knife tickling Senor Prout's ribs?"

"At the end of the crushing season, I think," answered Sherard coolly;
"the brat will be old enough to be taken from her by then."

It is a bad thing for a man to "thump" either a Chilian, or a Peruvian,
or a Mexican. And Prout had "thumped" the evil-faced Chileno very badly
one day for beating a native nearly to death. Had he been wiser he would
have taken the little man's knife out of his belt and plunged it home
between his ribs, for a Chileno never forgives a blow with a fist.

*****




III.

"Are you going over to Halaliko to-night, Prout?" asked Sherard, walking
up to where his manager and Marie sat enjoying the cool of the evening.
He threw himself in a cane chair beside them and puffed away at his
cheroot, playing the while with the little Mercedes.

"Yes, I might as well go to-night and see how the Burtons have got on,"
and Prout arose and went to the stables.

Sherard remained chatting with Marie till Prout returned, and then,
raising his hat to her, bade them good-night."

"Don't let Burton entice you to Halaliko, Prout," he said with a laugh;
"he knows that your time here is nearly up."

Prout laughed too. "I don't think that Marie would like me to give up
Kalahua for Halaliko--would you, old girl?"

She shook her head and smiled. "No, indeed, Mr. Sherard. I am too happy
here to ever wish to leave."

*****

Whistling softly to himself, Prout rode along the palm-bordered winding
track. It was not often he was away from Marie, but he meant to take his
time this evening. It was nearly five miles to Burton's plantation at
Halaliko, and half an hour would finish his business there. He knew
that, as soon as he left, Marie would tell the native servant to go to
her bed in the coolie lines, and then she would herself retire; and when
he returned he would find her lying asleep with her baby beside her.

*****

To the right the road wound round a great jagged shoulder of rocky
cliff, and clung to it closely; for on the left there yawned a black
space, the valley of Maunahoehoe, and, as he rode, Prout could see the
glimmer of the natives' fires below--fires that, although they were but
distant a few hundred feet, seemed miles and miles away.

A slight sound that seemed to come from the face of the cliff above him
caused him to look upwards, and the next instant a heavy stone struck
him slantingly on the side of his head. Without a sound he fell to the
ground, staggered to his feet, and then, failing to recover himself,
vanished over the sloping side of the cliff into the valley beneath.

A shadowy, supple figure clambered down from the inky blackness of cliff
that overhung the road, and peered over the valley of Maunahoehoe. It
was Moreno, the Chilian.

"Better than a knife after all; Holy Virgin, he's gone now, and I
forgive him for all the blows he struck me."

*****

Long before daylight, Prout, with his face and shoulders covered with
gory stains, staggered into the native village at Maunahoehoe and asked
the people to lend him a horse to take him back to Kalahua.

When within half a mile of Kalahua, almost fainting from loss of blood
and exhaustion, he pulled up his horse at a hut on the borders of the
estate and got off. There were some five or six natives inside, and
they started up with quick expressions of sympathy when they saw his
condition.

"Give me a weapon, O friends," he said. "Some man hath tried to kill
me."

A short squat native smiled grimly, reached to the rafters of the
dwelling, and took down a heavy carbine, which he loaded and then handed
to the white man.

"'Tis Moreno who hath hurt thee," said the native; "at midnight he rode
by here in hot haste."

With the native supporting him, Prout rode along the road to the Estate
gates.

As he reeled through he heard a faint cry.

In another minute he was on the verandah and looking through the French
lights into Marie's dimly-lighted bedroom. An inarticulate cry of
anguish burst from him. Sherard and his wife were together.

Steadying himself against a post he took aim at the trembling figure of
his wife, and fired. She threw up her arms and fell upon her face, and
then Sherard, pistol in hand, dashed out and met him.

Ere he could draw the trigger, Prout swung the heavy weapon round, and
the stock crashed into the traitor's brain.

"It is the death of a dog," said the native, spurning the body with his
naked foot.

She was dying fast when Prout, with love and hate struggling for mastery
in his frenzied brain, stood over her.

"He took my child away from me," she said.... "He said he would kill her
before me,... and it was to save her. Only for that I would have died
first. Oh, Ned, Ned----"

Then with a look of unutterable love from her fast-dimming eyes, she
closed them in death.

*****

That was why Prout, after two years of madness in a prison, had stepped
on board Hetherington's schooner and asked the captain to take him away
somewhere--he cared not where--so that he could be away from the ken of
civilised and cruel mankind and try and forget the dreadful past.



IV.

They are a merry-hearted, laughter-loving race, the people of
white-beached Nukutavau, with whom the trader lived. To them the
grave-faced, taciturn man, who cared not to listen to their songs or to
watch their wild dances on the moonlit beach--as had been the custom of
those white men who had dwelt on the island before him--was but as one
afflicted with some mental disease, and therefore to be both pitied and
feared. At first, indeed, when he had landed, carrying his child in his
arms, to bargain with Patiaro, the chief, that the people should build
him a house, the women of the island had clustered around him as he
stepped out of the boat, and with smiles upon their faces, extended
their arms to him for the child. But no answering smile lit up the man's
rugged features, though, to avoid the appearance of discourtesy (to
which all island races are so keenly sensitive) he gave the infant into
the keeping of old Malineta, the mother of the chief.

Patiaro, the chief, holding the stranger's right hand in both his own,
looked searchingly into his calm, deep-set eyes with that dignified
curiosity which, while forbidding a native to put a direct question to
an utter stranger, yet asks it by the expression of his face. But Prout,
whose anxious glance followed the movements of the grey-haired mother
of the chief, as she pressed his child to her withered bosom, seemed to
notice not his questioning look.

Following the stranger's gaze, the chief broke the silence:

"'Tis my mother, _ariki papalagi_.{*} who carries thy child--Malineta,
the mother of Patiaro, the chief of Nukutavau, he who now speaks to
thee. And I pray thee have no fear for the little one."

     * White gentleman.

*****

The quiet, dignified courtesy with which the chief addressed him
recalled the white man to himself, and a pleasant smile lit up the
native's features when the stranger answered him in Tokelau--the _lingua
franca_ of the equatorial isles of the Pacific--north and south.

"Nay, I fear not for the child, Patiaro, chief of Nukutavau, but yet it
may not be well for her to be taken to the village awhile; for with
thee and thy people doth it rest whether the child and I remain here,
or return to the ship and seek some other island whereon I may build my
house and live in peace. And I will pay thee that which is fair and just
for house and land."

But in those days, before too much civilisation had brought these simple
people deadly disease, Christianity, and the knowledge of the great Pit
of Fire, the brown men thought much of a white man; and so Patiaro, the
chief, made haste to answer:

"Let the child go with my mother, and tell thou the men in the boat that
everything thou desirest of me and my people to do shall be done. Five
rainy seasons have come and gone since a white man has lived here; so I
pray thee, stay."

The white man inclined his head; then he turned and walked to the boat,
and spoke to the captain of the little vessel which, to bring him to the
island, had dropped her anchor just outside the current-swept passage of
the lagoon.

"I am remaining here, Captain Hetherington. Will you let your men put my
gear out on the beach?"

Hetherington, the skipper, looked at his passenger curiously, and then
answered:

"Cert'nly. But I'm real sorry you are leaving us, I don't want to pry
inter any man's business, and you know these islands as well as I do;
but I guess I wouldn't stay here if I war you. Why, it won't pay a
man to stay and trade on a bit of a place like this," and he cast a
deprecatory look around him.

The trader made him no answer, and the skipper of the schooner, ordering
his crew to take out his passenger's goods and carry them to the
village, stepped ashore, and held out his hand to the chief, whose fine,
expressive features showed some signs of fear that the captain's remarks
were intended to dissuade the stranger from remaining on the island.

*****

Motioning to the white men to follow him, the stalwart young chief led
the way to the _fale kaupale_, or council-house of the village, where
food and young coconuts for drinking were brought in and placed before
them by the young women.

Sitting directly in front of his guests, the chief served them with food
with his own hands, in token of his desire for friendship and to do
them honour, and then quietly withdrew to direct the natives who were
carrying the trader's goods up from the boat to his own house, further
back in the village.

"I would wish ter remark, mister," said the American skipper as he
pulled out his pipe and commenced to fill it, "thet, ez a rule, I
don't run any risk ev bustin' myself with enthoosiastic admiration fer
Britishers in general--principally because they air the supporters of er
low-down, degradin' system ev Government, which hez produced some bloody
wars and sunk my schooner the _Mattie Casey_, with a cargo of phosphates
valued et four thousand dollars."

"It was a heavy loss to you, Captain Hetherington, but you surely do not
dislike all Englishmen because the _Alabama_ sunk your vessel?" said
the trader, with a melancholy smile, whilst his restless eye sought the
village houses to discern the movements of the chief's mother with his
child.

The American pulled his long, straggling beard meditatively. "Wal, I
don't know, they're a darned mean crowd anyway." And then, with a sudden
change of manner, "Say, look here, mister; hev yew finally made up your
mind ter remain on this island among a lot ev outrageous, unclothed,
ondelikit females, whar every prospeck pleases an' on'y man is vile; or
air yew game ter come in pardners with me in the schooner an' run her in
the sugar trade between 'Frisco and Honolulu?"

Prout grasped the old man's hand, but shook his head.

"You are a generous man, Captain Hetherington, but I cannot do it. I am
no seaman, and, what is more to the point, I have no money to put into
the venture."

"Thet's jest it," the American answered quickly, "but yew hev a long
head--fer a Britisher, a darned long head--an' I reckon yew an' me will
pull together bully; so jes' tell the chief here to get the traps back
inter the boat again, an' yew an' me an' little Mercedy will get aboard
agin----"

"No, no, no," and the trader rose to his feet and walked quickly to
and fro--"no, Hetherington; I cannot do as you wish. Here, among these
islands, it is my wish to live; and here, or on such another island as
this, and among such wild, uncivilised beings, must I die."

"So?" and the hard-featured American raised his shaggy eyebrows
interrogatively. "Waal, I reckon yew regulates your own affairs ter
your own fancy; but look here, mister," and the kindly ring in the old
skipper's voice appealed to the man before him--"what about little
Mercedy? Yew ain't agoin' to let thet pore child grow up among naked,
red-skinned savages, hey?"

A deep flush overspread the trader's face, and then it paled again, and
he ceased his hurried, agitated walk.

"Hetherington!... do not, I implore you, say another word to me on the
subject. It is better for me to remain here with my little Mercedes....
So, here, give me that honest hand of yours and leave me.... But, stop,
I forgot," and he thrust his hand into a large canvas pouch that hung
suspended from his shoulder, "I did indeed forget this, Captain; but
forget the kindness that you have shown to me and my child during the
four months I have been with you, I never can."

The Yankee skipper's face was visibly perturbed as he heard the jingle
of money in the canvas pouch, and he worked his jaws violently, while
his heavy, bushy brows met together as if he were in deep study, and
uneasy mutterings escaped from his lips. Suddenly he rose and left his
companion.

As he shambled away to the far end of the council-house, he caught sight
of a number of native women and children advancing towards himself and
his passenger. Foremost among them was the old woman Malineta, her lean
and wrinkled face wreathed in smiles, for the white man's child, whom
she still carried, had placed one arm around her neck. As she drew near
the American, the little one smiled and made as if she wished to go to
him, or to her father who stood near by.

Holding out his arms to the child, the skipper took her from the old
woman, and then he turned to Prout.

"Say, I've jest been reckonin' up an' I make out yew hev been jest four
months aboard o' my hooker thar, an' I reckon thet twenty dollars a
month ain't more'n a fair an' square deal."

Again the red flush mantled to the trader's brow. "No, no, Hetherington.
I am poor, but not so poor that I should insult you by such an
insignificant sum as that. Two hundred and fifty dollars I can give
you easily, and freely and willingly," and advancing to the captain he
offered him a number of twenty-dollar gold pieces.

An angry "Pshaw!" burst from the captain. He thrust the proffered
money aside, and then, with his leathern visage working in strange
contortions, he walked quickly outside, and sitting down upon an old
unused canoe, bent his grizzled head, and strained the child to his
bosom. And presently Prout and the natives heard something very like the
sound of a sob.

Then, as if ashamed of his emotion, he suddenly rose, and kissing the
child tenderly, gave her back to the woman Malineta. Then he turned to
Prout.

"Waal, I guess I'll be goin'.... Naow, jest yew put them air cursed
dollars back again. It's jest like yew darned Britishers, ter want ter
shove money inter a man's hand, jest like ez if he war a nigger, an'
hadn't a red cent ter buy a slice of watermelon with," and then all his
assumed roughness failed him, and his eyes grew misty as he grasped the
Englishman's hand for the last time.

"Thet thar Mercedy.... Why, I hed sich a little mite once...." and he
chewed fiercely at the fresh plug he had thrust into his cheek.

"Dead?" queried Prout, softly.

"Yes; diphthery. Yew see it came about th' way. When I got back ter
Cohoes--thet's whar I belong--after that cussed pirut Semmes sunk my
hooker, an' 'Riar sees me standin' in front ev her without givin' her
any warnin' I was comin', she gets that skeered that she drops kerwallop
on the floor, an' when she come to, an' heerd that the _Mattie Casey_
was gone, waal, thet jest sorter finished her. Waal, she hung on ter
life fur a year or so, kep' getting more powerful weak in the intelleck
every day; an' when she died, my little Hope was on'y four years old.
An' Hope died when I was away servin' in the _Iroquois_ lookin' fur
Semmes,... an' I ain't got no one else to keer fur me naow.... Waal,
goodbye, Prout; I guess I'll beat up ter windward of this grewp, and
then make a bee-line fur Honolulu."

In another minute he had shambled down to the boat, and as the sun sank
below the line of coconuts on the lee side of Nukutavau, the schooner
swept away into the darkness. Then Prout, taking the little girl in his
arms, followed old Malineta to the house of Patiaro the chief, and again
took up the thread of his lonely existence.

Four years had come and gone. In his quiet house, under the shadow of
the ever-rustling palms, Prout lay upon his rough couch of coarse
mats, and little Mercedes stood beside him with her tiny hand upon his
death-dewed forehead.

The missionary ship had just anchored in the lagoon, and Patiaro and his
men had paddled off to her, so that, save for the low murmur of voices
of women and children in the houses near by, the village lay silent.

Weeping softly, the child placed her tender cheek against the rugged
face of the dying man, and whispered:

"What is it, my father, that aileth thee?"

He drew her slender figure to him with his failing hands and kissed her
with pallid lips, and then Prout the trader gave up the battle of life.




MRS. CLINTON




I.

As the sun set blood red, a thick white fog crept westward, and the
miserable fever-stricken wretches that lay gasping and dying on
the decks of the transport _Breckenbridge_ knew that another day of
calm--and horror--waited them with the coming of the dawn on the morrow.

Twenty miles away the dark outline of the Australian shore shone out
green and purple with the dying sunshafts, and then quickly dulled again
to the sombre shades of the coming night and the white mantle of fog.

On the starboard side of the high quarterdeck of the transport the
master stood gazing seaward with a worn and troubled face, and as he
viewed the gathering fog a heavy sigh broke from him.

"God help us!" he muttered, "ninety-six dead already, and as many more
likely to die in another week if this calm keeos up."

A hand was laid on his shoulder, and turning he met the pale face of the
surviving surgeon of the fever-stricken ship.

"Seven more cases, Belton--five prisoners and two marines."

The master of the _Breckenbridge_ buried his face in his hands and
groaned aloud.

"Can nothing be done, doctor? My God! it is terrible to see people
perishing like this before our eyes when help is so near. Look!
over there, only twenty miles away, is Twofold Bay, where there is a
settlement, but I dare not send a boat ashore. There are not ten sound
men in the ship, and if an easterly wind springs up I could not keep my
ship from going ashore."

The young surgeon made no answer for awhile. Ever since the
_Breckenbridge_ had left Rio, one or more of the convicts, seamen, or
military guard had died day after day; and he had striven hard since
the outbreak of the fever to stay its deadly progress. The cause he
knew well: the foul, overcrowded 'tween decks, where four hundred human
beings were confined in a space not fit to hold a hundred, the
vile drinking-water and viler provisions, the want of even a simple
disinfectant to clear the horrible, vitiated atmosphere, and the
passage, protracted long beyond even the usual time in those days, had
been the main causes of their present awful condition.

Presently the surgeon spoke--

"Nothing can be done, Belton."

"How is Lieutenant Clinton, sir?" asked the master, as the surgeon
turned to leave him.

"Dying fast. Another hour or so will see the end."

"And his wife and baby?"

"She bears up well, but her infant cannot possibly live another day in
such weather as this. God help her, poor little woman! Better for her if
she follows husband and child."

"Who is with Mr. Clinton, doctor?" asked the master presently.

"Adair--No. 267. I brought him into the cabin. Indeed, Clinton asked me
to do so. He thinks much of the young fellow, and his conduct ever
since the outbreak occurred deserves recognition. He has rendered
me invaluable assistance with Clinton and the other sick in the main
cabin."

"He's a fine young fellow," said Belton, "and his good example has done
much to keep the others quiet. Do you know, doctor, that at any time
during the last three weeks the ship could have been captured by a dozen
even unarmed men."

"I do know it; but the poor wretches seem never to have thought of
rising."

"What was Adair sent out for?" asked Belton.

"Lunacy; otherwise, patriotism. He's one of a batch of five--the five
best conducted men on the ship--sentenced to end their days in
Botany Bay for participating in an attack on a party of yeomanry at
Bally-somewhere or other in Ireland. There was a band of about fifty,
but these five were the only ones captured--the other forty-five were
most likely informers and led them into the mess."

A hurried footstep sounded near them, and a big man, in a semi-military
costume, presented himself abruptly before them. His dark, coarse race
was flushed with anger, and his manner insolent and aggressive. Not
deigning to notice the presence of the surgeon, he addressed himself to
the master of the transport.

"Mr. Belton, I protest against the presence in the main cabin of a
ruffianly convict. The scoundrel refuses to let me have access to
Lieutenant Clinton. Both on my own account and on that of Mr. Clinton,
who needs my services, I desire that this man be removed immediately."

"What right, sir, have you, a passenger, to protest?" answered Belton
surlily. "Mr. Clinton is dying and Prisoner Adair is nursing him."

"That does not matter to me, I----"

The surgeon stepped in front of the newcomer.

"But it _shall_ matter to you, Mr. Jacob Bolger, Government storekeeper,
jailer, overseer, or commissary's runner, or whatever your position is.
And I shall see that No. 267 suffers no molestation from you."

"Who are you, sir, to threaten me? The Governor shall hear of this when
we arrive at the settlement. A pretty thing that I should be talked to
like this by the ship's doctor!"

"By God, sir, I'll give you something to talk about," and the surgeon's
Welsh blood leapt to his face. Advancing to the break of the poop, he
called--

"Sergeant Matthews!"

The one remaining non-commissioned officer of the diminished
convict-guard at once appeared and saluted.

He was a solemn-faced, taciturn man, devoted to Clinton.

"Mr. Belton," said the doctor, "in the serious illness of Lieutenant
Clinton I now assume charge of the military guard and convicts on
this ship, and as a first step to maintain proper discipline at such a
critical time, I shall confine Mr. Bolger to his cabin. Sergeant, take
him below and lock him in."

Bolger collapsed at once. "I beg your pardon, doctor, for my hastiness.
I did not know.... I was----"

The surgeon cut his apologies short. "Go to your cabin, sir. I shall
not have you locked in, but, by heavens! if you attempt to go into Mr.
Clinton's cabin I'll put you in irons, Government official though you
are. I am well aware that your presence is particularly objectionable to
Mrs. Clinton."

With an evil look Bolger left them, and the surgeon, turning to
Belton, said: "That settles _him_, anyway, for a time. He's a thorough
scoundrel, I believe. Mrs. Clinton has a positive horror of the man; yet
the brute is continually pestering her with offers of his services. Now
I must go below again to poor Clinton."

In the dimly lighted cabin the young officer lay breathing heavily, and
as the doctor softly entered he saw that the time was now very near.
By her husband's side sat Marion Clinton, her loosened wavy brown hair
hiding from view her own face and the dying hand which she held pressed
to her quivering lips. At her feet, on a soft cushion on the floor, lay
her infant, with one thin waxen hand showing out from the light
shawl that covered it; at the further end of the cabin stood a young,
broad-shouldered man in grey convict garb. As the doctor entered he
stood up and saluted.

The sound of the opening door made Clinton turn his face. "Is that you,
Williams?" he said, in slow, laboured tones. "Marion, my girl, bear up.
I know I am going, old fellow. Do what you can for her, Williams. The
Governor will see to her returning to England, but it may be long before
a ship leaves.... Marion!"

"Yes," she answered brokenly.

"Is baby no better?"

"No," she answered with a sob, as she raised her tear-stained face to
Surgeon Williams, who shook his head. "There is no hope for her, Harry."

His hand pressed hers gently. "God help you, dear! Only for that it
would not be so hard to die now; and now I leave you quite alone."

She stooped down and lifted the fragile infant, and Williams and No.
267 turned their faces away for awhile. Presently Clinton called the
surgeon.

"Williams," and his eyes looked wistfully into the doctor's, "do what
you can for her. There is something like a hundred guineas among my
effects--that will help. Thank God, though, she will be a rich woman
when my poor old father dies. I am the only son."

The surgeon bent down and took his hand. "She shall never want a friend
while I live, Clinton, never."

A light of thankfulness flickered in Clinton's eyes, and the pallid lips
moved; and then as wife and friend, each holding a hand, waited for him
to speak, there came the sound of a heavy sob. Convict 267 was kneeling
and praying for the departing soul.

Slowly the minutes passed, the silence broken but by the creaking and
straining of the ship as she rose and fell to the sea, and now and again
the strange, mournful cry of some night-fishing penguin.

"Marion," Clinton said at last, "I would like to speak to Adair before I
die. He has been good to you and to me."

Walking softly in his stockinged feet, Adair advanced close to the bed.

"Give me your hand, Adair. God bless you," he whispered.

"And God bless you, sir, and all here," answered the young Irishman in a
husky, broken voice.

"Hush," said the surgeon warningly, and his eyes sought those of the
watching wife, with a meaning in them that needed no words. Quickly she
passed her arm around Clinton, and let his head lie upon her shoulder.
He sighed heavily and then lay still.

The surgeon touched the kneeling figure of Convict Adair on the arm, and
together they walked softly out of the cabin.

"Come again in an hour, Adair," said Dr. Williams; "you can help me
best. We must bury him by daylight. Meanwhile you can get a little
sleep."

No. 267 clasped his hands tightly together as he looked at the doctor,
and his lips worked and twitched convulsively. Then a wild beseeching
look overspread his face. "For God's sake don't ask me!" he burst out.
"I implore you as man to man to have pity on me. I _cannot_ be here at
daylight!"

"As you please," answered Williams, with a surprised expression; and
then as he went on deck he said to himself, "Some cursed, degrading
Irish superstition, I suppose, about a death at sea."

*****

Slowly the hours crept on. No noise disturbed the watcher by her dead
save the low voices of the watch on deck and the unknown sounds that
one hears at night alone. Prisoner Adair was sitting in the main cabin
within near call of Mrs. Clinton, and, with head upon his knees, seemed
to slumber. Suddenly the loud clamour of five bells as the hour was
struck made him start to his feet and look quickly about him with
nervous apprehension. From the dead officer's state-room a narrow line
of light from beneath the door sent an oblique ray aslant the cabin
floor and crossed the convict's stockinged feet.

For a moment he hesitated; then tapped softly at the door. It opened,
and the pale face of Marion Clinton met his as he stood before her cap
in hand.

"Have you come to take"--the words died away in her throat with a sob.

"No," he answered, "I have but come to ask you to let me say goodbye,
and God keep and prosper you, madam. My time here is short, and you and
your husband have made my bitter lot endurable."

She gave him her hand. He clasped it reverently in his for a moment,
and his face flushed a dusky red. Then he knelt and kissed her child's
little hand.

"Are you leaving the ship? Are we then in port or near it?" she asked.

He looked steadfastly at her for a moment, and then, pushing the door to
behind him, lowered his voice to a whisper.

"Mrs. Clinton, your husband one day told me that he would aid me to
regain my freedom. Will you do as much?"

"Yes," she answered, trembling; "I will. I shall tell the Governor how
you----"

He shook his head. "Not in that way, but now, now."

"How _can_ I help you now?" she asked wonder-ingly.

"Give me Mr. Clinton's pistols. Before daylight four others and myself
mean to escape from the ship. The guard are all too sick to prevent us
even if we are discovered. There is a boat towing astern, lowered
with the intention of sending it ashore to seek assistance. Water and
provisions are in it. But we have no firearms, and if we land on the
coast may meet with savages."

Without a word she put her husband's pistols in his hands, and then gave
him all the ammunition she could find.

"Do not shed blood," she began, when the convict clutched her arm. A
sound as of some one moving came from the next cabin--the one occupied
by Jacob Bolger--and a savage light came into Adair's eyes as he stood
and listened.

"He would give the alarm in a moment if he knew," he muttered.

"Yes," she answered; "he hates you, and I am terrified even to meet his
glance."

But Mr. Jacob Bolger made no further noise; he had heard quite enough,
and at that moment was lying back in his bunk with an exultant smile,
waiting for Adair to leave the cabin.

Then the convict, still crouching on the floor, held out his hand.

"Will you touch my hand once more, Mrs. Clinton?" he said huskily.

She gave it to him unhesitatingly.

"Goodbye, Adair. I pray God all will go well with you."

He bent his face over it and whispered "Goodbye," and then went up on
deck.

*****

As No. 267 stumbled along the main deck he saw that all discipline was
abandoned, and even the for'ard sentry, that for the past week had been
stationed to guard the prisoners when on deck, had left his post.

At the fore-hatch four shadowy forms approached him, and then the five
men whispered together.

"Good," said Adair at last. Then they quickly separated.

*****

Six bells had struck when Jacob Bolger opened his cabin door, peered
cautiously about, and then, stepping quickly to Mrs. Clinton's door,
turned the handle without knocking, and entered.

"Why do you come here, Mr. Bolger?" said Marion Clinton, with a
terrified look in her dark eyes. "Do you not know that my husband is
dead and my child dying?" And, holding the infant in her arms, she
barred a nearer approach.

"I am sorry to disturb you, Mrs. Clinton; but I come as a friend,
first to offer you my poor services in your great affliction, and
secondly--but as a friend still--to warn you of the dangerous step you
have taken in assisting a party of convicts to escape from the ship."

"For Heaven's sake, Mr. Bolger, have some pity on me! My dear husband is
dead, my child has but a few hours--perhaps minutes--to live. Do not add
to my misery."

"I shall not betray _you!_" and he advanced a step nearer to her;
"but it is my duty," and his cunning eyes watched her shrinking figure
keenly, "to prevent these men from escaping." And then he turned as if
to go.

Her courage came back. "Mr. Bolger"--and she placed her hand on his
cuff, shuddering as she did so--"you are not a rich man. Will you--can
I--will a hundred guineas buy your silence? It is all I have. Forget
that which you know. Let these wretched men escape. What harm can it do
you?"

His savage, brutal nature came out, and he laughed coarsely.

"None, but--but you would like to see them get away, would you not?"

"Yes," she answered, looking at him with dulled eyes, "Adair has been
very good to us."

"Well, look here; money cannot buy my silence, but _you_ can. Now do you
know what I mean?"

"No," she answered despairingly. "How should I? What is it you wish me
to do?"

"This"--and he bent his evil-eyed face close to hers--"promise to marry
me three months from now."

She gave a gasping cry, and sank back upon her seat. He followed and
stood over her, and then spoke quickly--

"Ever since I first saw you I have loved you. You are a free woman now,
and I shall have a good position at the settlement."

She made a gesture of horror, and his voice grew savage and threatening.
"And unless you make me that promise I'll give the alarm now, and
Adair and his confederates shall hang together. Come, think, and decide
quickly--their life or death rests in your hands."

For some moments she bent her gaze upon the pinched and sunken features
of her dying child; then she raised her head, and a swift gleam of fire
came into her eyes.

"I will do as you wish. Now go."

Without a word Bolger turned and left the cabin.

As he walked quickly through the main cabin he did not see the tall
figure of Sergeant Matthews standing a few feet aft from Mrs. Clinton's
cabin-door. The moment Bolger disappeared the sergeant tapped and
called--

"Mrs. Clinton!"

A new terror beset her as she recognised the sergeant's voice; but she
bravely stifled it and bade him come in.

The solemn, wooden-faced soldier looked at her steadily for a second or
so, and then, being a man of few words, got through with them as quickly
as possible.

"Beg pardon, madam, doctor sent me with a message to Mr. Bolger, telling
him he was at liberty to leave his cabin; found he was gone; heard
his voice in here; waited to see if could be of any assistance to you,
madam."

There was a kindly ring in his voice which encouraged her.

"Matthews, did you hear what Mr. Bolger was saying?"

The sergeant looked stolidly before him. "I did, madam--part of it."

"Part?" she repeated agitatedly.

"Yes, madam--about Adair and some other men."

She pressed her hand to her throat. Matthews was an old, tried servant
of her husband's in former years. "Close the door!" she said suddenly.

Opening a locker, she took out a leathern-bound writing-desk, unlocked
it, and in a moment or two more turned to the sergeant with a small but
heavy purse in her hand.

"Sergeant," she said quietly; "this money, nearly a hundred guineas, is
for you. I may not live to reach the settlement at Port Jackson. And I
would like to reward you for--for----" The rest died away.

Matthews understood. He took the money, saluted, and with softened tread
left the cabin. He was not a hard man, and had meant to do his duty when
he heard Bolger speak of Adair's intended escape; but a hundred guineas
was a large sum to him.

As the door closed after the sergeant, Marion Clinton, holding the
infant close to her bosom, saw the grey shadow deepen on the pallid
race, as with a gentle tremor of the frail body the child's head fell
back upon her arm.

*****

No one on board heard a soft splashing of the Water as Adair swam to the
boat towing astern and cut the painter where it touched the water-line;
the dense fog hid everything from view. Holding the line in his left
hand he swam silently along, drawing the boat after him, till he reached
the fore-chains. Then four figures clambered noiselessly over the
bulwarks and got into the boat, which was at once pushed off.

Wrapped in the white mantle of fog, they drifted slowly away, watching
with bated breath the misty outlines of the towering spars grow feinter
and fainter, and then vanish altogether, till, although they were but
forty yards away, the position of the _Brekenbridge_ was discernible
only by a dull blurr of sickly light that came from her stern ports.
Then suddenly there came the sound of a splash, followed by tramping of
feet and Captain Belton's hoarse voice.

"Hands to the boat, here! Mrs. Clinton and her baby have fallen
overboard."

Lights appeared on the deck, and then a voice called out, "The boat is
gone, sir!"

"Clear away the starboard-quarter boat, then!" roared Belton; "quick!"

But before the quarter-boat could be lowered, the sound of oars was
heard, a boat dashed up, and a man, leaning over the side, grasped the
drowning woman and lifted her in, her dead baby still clasped tightly in
her arms.

"Have you got her?" called out Williams and Belton together.

"No," came the answer, and those in the boat began rowing again, but
instead of approaching the ship, she seemed to be swallowed up in the
fog, and the _click clack_ of the oars momentarily sounded feinter.

"By heavens, the scoundrels are pulling away!" shouted Belton. "After
them, you fellows in the quarter-boat!"

But the dense, impenetrable mantle of fog made pursuit useless, and the
quarter-boat returned an hour later with an exhausted crew.

At ten o'clock next morning a keen, cold air came from the south-east,
and two days later the _Breckenbridge_ brought her load of misery into
Sydney Cove, and her master reported the escape of Edward Adair, Michael
Terry, William O'Day, Patrick O'Day, and Daniel McCoy, and the death
by drowning of Mrs. Clinton, who, with her baby in her arms, had jumped
overboard on the same night.




II.

Till dawn the convicts urged the boat along through the fog, then they
ceased rowing and ate ravenously of the food in the boat's locker.

Lying upon the sail in the bottom, of the boat, Mrs. Clinton slept. The
night was warm, her wet clothing did her no harm, and her sleep was the
sleep of physical and mental exhaustion. As the rising sun sent its rays
through the now lifting fog, Adair touched the sleeping woman on her
shoulder.

She opened her eyes and looked wildly about her, then at the outline
of a little figure that lay beside her covered with a convict's coarse
jacket, and seizing it in her arms, looked at the five men with eyes of
such maddened terror, they thought her reason was gone.

But rough, unkempt and wild-looking as were Adair's four companions,
they treated her with the tenderest pity, and watched in silent sympathy
the bitter tide of grief that so quickly possessed her. As the sun rose
higher, the glassy water rippled here and there in dark patches, and the
men looked longingly at the sail on which she sat, holding the infant,
but hesitated to disturb her. Away to the westward the dim summits of a
range of mountains showed faintly blue, but of the _Breckenbridge_ there
was no sign, and a grey albatross sailing slowly overhead was their
only companion. Already Adair and the others had cast away their hated
convict garb, and clothed themselves in tattered garments given them by
some of the transport's crew.

Another hour passed, and then helping Mrs. Clinton to a seat in the
stern, they hoisted the mainsail and jib, and headed the boat for the
land, for the breeze was now blowing freshly.

What Adair's intentions were regarding Mrs. Clinton the others did not
ask. Theirs was unquestioning loyalty, and they were ready to follow him
now with the same blind and fateful devotion that had brought them with
him on board the _Breckenbridge_ in manacles.

As the boat sped over the sunlit sea Adair spoke--

"Mrs. Clinton, I shall try to reach a settlement near here. There we may
be able to put you ashore."

She only smiled vacantly, and with a feeling of intense pity Adair saw
her again bend her head and heard her talking and crooning to the dead
child.

"Sure 'tis God's great pity has desthroyed her raison, poor darlin',"
muttered a grey-headed old prisoner named Terry; "lave her alone. We'll
take the babe from her by an' by."

Between the boat and the faint blue outline of the distant land lay the
rounded wooded slopes of Montagu Island, showing a deep depression in
the centre. As the boat sailed round its northern point a small bay
opened out, and here in smooth water they landed without difficulty.
Carrying Mrs. Clinton to a grassy nook under the shade of the cliffs,
she unresistingly allowed old Terry to take the infant from her arms,
and her dulled eyes took no heed of what followed.

Forcing their way through the thick, coarse grass that clothed the
western side of the island, and disturbing countless thousands of
breeding gulls and penguins, Adair and Terry dug a tiny grave on the
summit under a grove of low, wide-branched mimosa trees, and there the
child was buried.

As they were about to descend, the old man gave a shout and pointed
seaward--there, not a mile away, was a large ship, whose many boats
showed her to be a whaler, and quite near the shore a boat was pulling
swiftly in towards the landing-place.

Rushing down to their companions they gave the alarm, and then a hurried
consultation was held.

"We must meet them," said Adair, "we can't hide the boat. If they mean
mischief we can take to the woods."

In another five minutes the newcomers saw the little group and gave a
loud, friendly hail. Stepping out from his companions, who followed him
closely, Adair advanced to meet the strangers.

A young, swarthy-faced man, who steered, jumped out of the boat and at
once addressed him. He listened with interest to Adair's story that they
had escaped from a ship that had gone ashore on the coast some weeks
before, and then said quietly--

"Just so. Well, I'm glad that I can assist you. I've just come from Port
Jackson, and am bound to the East Indies, sperm-whaling. Come aboard,
all of you, and I'll land you at one of the Dutch ports there."

Adair's face paled. Something told him that his story was not believed.
What should he do?

The captain of the whaler beckoned him aside. "Don't be alarmed. I can
guess where you come from. But that doesn't concern me. Now look here.
My ship--the _Manhattan_, of Salem--is a safer place for you than an
open boat, and I'm short-handed and want men. You can all lend a hand
till I land you at Amboyna or Ternate. Is that your wife?"

"Yes."

"Well, what are you going to do--stay here or come aboard?"

"We accept your offer gladly," answered Adair, now convinced of the
American's good intentions.

"Very well; carry your wife down to the boat while my men get some
gulls' eggs."

*****

For two weeks after Mrs. Clinton was carried up the whale-ship's side
she hovered between life and death. Then, very, very slowly, she began
to mend. A month more and then the _Manhattan_ hove-to off the verdant
hills and shining beaches of Rotumah Island.

"You cannot do better than go ashore here," the captain had said to
Adair a few hours before. "I know the natives well. They are a
kind, amiable race of people, and many of the men, having sailed in
whale-ships, can speak English. The women will take good care of Mrs.
Clinton" (Adair had long since told him hers and his own true story);
"have no fear of that. In five months I ought to be back here on my way
to Port Jackson, and I'll give her a passage there. If she remains on
board she will most likely die; the weather is getting hotter every day
as we go north, and she is as weak as an infant still. As for yourself
and old Michael, you will both be safe here on Rotumah. No King's ship
has ever touched here yet; and if one should come the natives will hide
you."

That evening, as the warm-hearted, pitying native women attended to Mrs.
Clinton in the chiefs house, Adair and Terry watched the _Manhattan's_
sails disappear below the horizon.

*****

There for six months they lived, and with returning health and strength
Marion Clinton learned to partly forget her grief, and to take interest
in her strange surroundings. Ever since they had landed Adair and old
Michael Terry had devoted themselves to her, and as the months went by
she grew, if not happy, at least resigned. To the natives, who had never
before had a white woman living among them, she was as a being from
another world, and they were her veriest slaves, happy to obey her
slightest wish. At first she had counted the days as they passed; then,
as the sense of her utter loneliness in the world beyond would come to
her, the thought of Adair and his unswerving care for and devotion to
her would fill her heart with quiet thankfulness. She knew that it
was for her sake alone he had remained on the island, and when the six
months had passed, her woman's heart told her that she cared for him,
and that "goodbye" would be hard to say.

But how much she really did care for him she did not know, till one
day she saw him being carried into the village with a white face and
blood-stained garments. He had been out turtle-fishing, the canoe had
capsized on the reef, and Adair had been picked up insensible by his
native companions, with a broken arm and a deep jagged cut at the back
of his head.

Day by day she watched by his couch of mats, and felt a thrill of joy
when she knew that all danger was past.

One afternoon while Adair, still too weak to walk, lay outside his house
thinking of the soft touch and gentle voice of his nurse, there came a
roar of voices from the village, and a pang shot through his heart--the
_Manhattan_ was back again.

But it was not the _Manhattan_, and ten minutes afterwards four or five
natives, headed by old Terry, white-faced and trembling, came rushing
along the path.

"'Tis a King's ship!" the old man gasped, and then in another minute
Adair was placed on a rude litter and carried into the mountains.

It was indeed a King's ship, bound to Batavia to buy stores for the
starving settlers at Port Jackson, and in want of provisions even for
the ship's company. Almost as soon as she anchored, the natives flocked
off to her with fruit, vegetables, and such poultry as they had to
barter. Among those who landed from the ship was a tall, grave-raced
Sergeant of Marines, who, after buying some pigs and fowls from the
natives on the beach, had set out, stick in hand, for a walk along the
palm-lined shore. At the request of the leading chief, all those who
came ashore carried no weapons, and, indeed, the gentle, timid manner of
the natives soon convinced the white men that there was no need to arm
themselves. A quarter of a mile walk hid the ship from view, and then
Sergeant Matthews, if he did not show it, at least felt surprised, for
suddenly he came face to face with a young, handsome white woman dressed
in a loose jacket and short skirt. Her feet were bare, and in one hand
she carried a rough basket, in the other a heavy three-pronged wooden
crab-spear. He recognised her in a moment, and drawing himself up,
saluted, as if he had seen her but for the first time.

"What do you want?" she asked trembling; "why have you come here--to
look for me?"--and as she drew back a quick anger gave place to fear.

"No, Madam," and the sergeant looked, not at her, but away past her, as
if addressing the trees around him, "I am in charge of the Marine guard
on board the _Scarborough_. Put in here for supplies. Ship bound to
Batavia for stores, under orders of Deputy-Commissary Bolger, who is on
board."

"Ah!" and she shuddered. "Matthews, do not tell him I am here. See, I am
in your power. I implore you to return to the ship and say nothing of my
being here. Go, go, Matthews, and if you have pity in your heart for me
do all you can to prevent any of the ship's company from lingering about
the village! I beg, I pray of you, to ask me no questions, but go, go,
and Heaven reward you!"

The sergeant again saluted, and without another word turned on his heel
and walked leisurely back to the boat.

An hour before sunset, Adair, from his hiding-place in the mountains,
saw the great ship fill her sails and stand away round the northern
point. Terry had left him to watch the movements of the landing party,
and Adair but waited his return. Soon through the growing stillness of
the mountain forest he heard a footfall, and then the woman he loved
stood before him.

"Thank God!" she cried, as she clasped her hands together; "they have
gone."

"Yes," he answered huskily, "but... why have you not gone with them? It
is a King's ship,... and I hoped--oh! why did you stay?"

She raised her dark eyes to his, and answered him with a sob that told
him why.

Sitting beside him with her head on his shoulder, she told him how that
morning she had accompanied a party of native women to a village some
miles distant on a fishing excursion, and knew nothing of the ship till
she was returning and met Sergeant Matthews.

"And now," she said, with a soft laugh, "neither King's ship nor
whale-ship shall ever part us."

*****

Another month went by all too swiftly now for their new-found happiness,
and then the lumbering old _Manhattan_ came at last, and that night her
captain and Adair sat smoking in the latter's thatched hut.

"That," said the American, pointing to a heavy box being borne past
the open door by two natives, "that box is for Mrs. Clinton. I just
ransacked the Dutchmen's stores at Amboyna, and bought all the woman's
gear I could get. How is she? Old Terry says she's doing 'foine.'"

"She is well, thank you," said Adair, with a happy smile, and then
rising he placed his hand on the seaman's shoulder, while his face
reddened and glowed like a boy's.

"Oh, that's it, is it?" said the American with a good-natured laugh.
"Well, I'm right pleased to hear it. Now look here. The _Manhattan_ is
a full ship, and I'm not going to Port Jackson to sell my oil this time.
I'm just going right straight home to Salem. And you and she are coming
with me; and old Parson Barrow is going to marry you in my house; and in
my house you and your wife are going to stay until you settle down and
become a citizen of the best country on the earth."

*****

And the merry chorus of the sailors, as they raised the anchor from its
coral bed, was borne across the bay to old Terry, who sat watching the
ship from the beach. No arguments that Adair and the captain used could
make him change his mind about remaining on the island. He was too old,
he said, to care about going to America, and Rotumah was a "foine place
to die in--'twas so far away from the bloody redcoats."

As he looked at the two figures who stood on the poop waving their hands
to him, his old eyes dimmed and blurred.

"May the howly Saints bless an' kape thim for iver! Sure, he's a thrue
man, an' she's a good woman!"

Quickly the ship sailed round the point, and Marion Clinton, with a last
look at the white beach, saw the old man rise, take off his ragged hat,
and wave it in farewell.




THE CUTTING-OFF OF THE "QUEEN CHARLOTTE"

One day, early in the year 1814, the look-out man at the South Head of
Port Jackson saw a very strange-looking craft approaching the land from
the eastward. She was a brigantine, and appeared to be in ballast;
and as she drew nearer it was noticed from the shore that she seemed
short-handed, for when within half a mile of the Heads the wind died
away, the vessel fell broadside on to the sea and rolled about terribly;
and in this situation her decks were clearly visible to the lightkeeper
and his men, who could see but three persons on board. In an hour after
the north-easter had died away, a fresh southerly breeze came up, and
then those who were watching the stranger saw that her sails, instead of
being made of canvas, were composed of mats stitched together, similar
to those used by South Sea Island sailing canoes. Awkward and clumsy as
these looked, they yet held the wind well, and soon the brigantine came
sweeping in through the Heads at a great rate of speed.

Running close in under the lee of the land on the southern shore of the
harbour the stranger dropped anchor, and shortly after was boarded by
a boat from the shore, and to the surprise of those who manned her the
vessel was at once recognised as the _Queen Charlotte_, which had sailed
out of Port Jackson in the May of the preceding year.

The naval officer in charge of the boat at once jumped on board, and,
greeting the master, a tall, bronzed-faced man of thirty, whose name was
Shelley, asked him what was wrong, and where the rest of his crew were.

"Dead! Lieutenant Carlisle," answered the master of the brigantine
sadly. "We three--myself, one white seaman, and a native chief--are all
that are left."

*****

Even as far back as 1810 the port of Sydney sent out a great number of
vessels all over the South Seas. The majority of these were engaged
in the whale fishery, and, as a rule, were highly successful; others,
principally smaller craft, made long but very remunerative cruises among
the islands of Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia, trading for coconut
oil, sandal-wood, and pearl shell. A year or two before, an adventurous
trading captain had made a discovery that a vast group of islands named
by Cook the Dangerous Archipelago, and lying to the eastward of Tahiti,
was rich in pearl shell. The inhabitants were a race of brave and
determined savages, extremely suspicious of, and averse to, the presence
of strangers; but yet, once this feeling was overcome by just treatment,
they were safe enough to venture among, provided a good look-out was
kept, and the vessel well armed to resist an attempt at cutting-off.

The news of the wealth that lay hidden in the unknown lagoons of the
Dangerous Archipelago (now called the Paumotu Group) was soon spread
from one end of the Pacific to the other, and before two years had
passed no less than seven vessels had appeared among the islands, and
secured very valuable cargoes for a very trifling outlay. Among those
who were tempted to hazard their lives in making a fortune quickly was
Herbert Shelley, the master and owner of the _Queen Charlotte_.

*****

Leaving Sydney on May 14, with a crew of nine men all told, the
brigantine arrived, thirty-one days later, at Matavai Bay in Tahiti.
Here she remained some days, while the master negotiated with the chiefs
of the district for the services of some of their men as divers. Six
were secured at Tahiti; and then, after wooding and watering, and taking
on board a number of hogs, fowls, and turtle, presented to Captain
Shelley and his officers by the chief Pomare, the vessel stood away
north-west to the island of Raiatea, with a similar purpose in view.
Here the master succeeded in obtaining three fine, stalwart men, who
were noted not only for their skill in diving but for their courage and
fidelity as well.

Among those natives secured at Tahiti was a chief named Upaparu, a
relative of Pomare, and hereditary ruler of the district of Taiarapu.
He was a man of herculean proportions, and during the stay of Captain
Bligh, of the _Bounty_, at Tahiti, was a constant visitor to the white
men, with whom he delighted to engage in friendly wrestling matches
and other feats of strength and endurance. Fletcher Christian, the
unfortunate leader of the mutiny that subsequently occurred, was the
only one of all the ship's company who was a match for Upaparu in these
athletic encounters, and until thirty years ago there remained a song
that recounted how the unfortunate and wronged master's mate of the
_Bounty_ and the young chief of Taiarapu once wrestled for half an hour
without either yielding an inch, though "the ground shook and quivered
beneath the stamping and the pressing of their feet." And although
twenty-three years had passed since Upaparu had seen the barque sail
away from Tahiti for the last time, when Christian and his fated
comrades bade the people farewell for ever, the native chief was still,
despite his fifty years, a man of amazing strength, iron resolution, and
dauntless courage.

The voyage from the fertile and beautiful Society Islands to the low,
sandy atolls of the Dangerous Archipelago was a pleasant one; for not
only was the weather delightfully fine, but there prevailed on board a
spirit of harmony and comradeship among Captain Shelley, his officers,
and crew, that was not often seen. A brave and humane man himself, the
master of the _Queen Charlotte_ was particularly fortunate in having
for his first and second officers two young men of similar dispositions.
This was their second voyage among the islands of the Society and
Dangerous Archipelago Islands; and their kindness to the natives with
whom they had come into contact, their freedom from the degrading
licentiousness that, as a rule, marked the conduct of seamen associating
with the natives, and the almost brotherly regard that they evinced for
each other made them not only respected, but loved and admired by whites
and natives alike. Both were men of fine stature and great strength;
and, indeed, Upaparu one day jestingly remarked that he and Captain
Shelley's two officers were a match for three times their number.

For some eight or nine days the _Queen Charlotte_ beat steadily to the
eastward against the gentle southeast trades, which, at that time of the
year, blew so softly as to raise scarce more than tiny ripples upon the
bosom of the ocean. Then, one day, there appeared against the horizon
the faint outline of a line of coco-trees springing from the ocean,
and by and by a white gleam of beach showed at their base as the vessel
lifted to the long ocean swell, and then sank again from view; but up
aloft on the brigantine's foreyard, the native pearl-divers, with their
big, luminous eyes shining with excitement, gazed over and beyond the
tops of the palm-trees, and saw the light-green waters of a noble lagoon
that stretched northwest and south-east for fifty miles, and twenty from
east to west.

Aft, on the skylight, Captain Shelley and his mate, with Upaparu, the
chief, leaning over their shoulders, peered over a rough chart of the
Dangerous Archipelago which showed a fairly correct outline of the
island before them. Twelve months before, the master of the brigantine
had heard from the captain of a South Seaman--as whaleships were called
in these days--that this island of Fakarava abounded in pearl shell, and
had determined to ascertain the truth of the statement. As he carefully
studied the chart given him by the captain of the whaler, and read aloud
the names of the villages that appeared here and there, the Tahitian
chief nodded assent and confirmation.

"That is true," he said to the white man, "I have heard these names
before; for long before Tuti the Wise{*} came to Tahiti, we had heard
of these people of Fakarava and their great lagoon, so wide that even if
one climbs the tallest coconut-tree on one side he cannot see across to
the other. And once, when I was a boy, I saw bonito hooks of thick pearl
shell, that were brought to Taiarapu from this place by the Paniola.{**}

     *  Captain Cook.

     *  The Spaniards--two Spanish ships fitted out by the
     Viceroy of Peru had visited these islands before Cook.

"But then," he went on to say, "O friends of my heart, we must be
careful, for these men of Fakarava are all _aitos_ (fighting men), and
no ship hath ever yet been inside the great lagoon, for the people swarm
off in their canoes, club and spear in hand, and, stripped to the loins,
are ready to fight to the death the stranger that sets foot on their
land."

Somewhat disquieted at this intelligence, the master of the _Queen
Charlotte_ was at first in doubt whether to venture inside or not; but,
looking round him and noting the eager, excited faces of his white crew
and their native messmates, he decided at least to attempt to see for
himself whether there was or was not pearl shell in the lagoon.

By this time the brigantine was within a mile or so of the entrance,
which, on a nearer inspection, presented no difficulties whatever. As
the vessel passed between the roaring lines of surf that thundered and
crashed with astounding violence on the coral barriers enclosing the
placid lagoon, a canoe shot out from the beach a quarter of a mile away,
and approached the ship. But four natives were in the tiny craft, and
when within a cable-length of the brigantine they ceased paddling, and
conversed volubly with one another, as if debating whether they should
venture on board the strange ship or not. Paddles in hand, they regarded
her with the most intense curiosity as a being from another world; and
when, the ship bringing up to the wind, the anchor was let go, a loud
cry of astonishment burst forth from them, and with a swift backward
sweep of their paddles the canoe shot shorewards like an arrow from a
bow full fifty feet astern.

Clambering out on the end of the jib-boom, Upaparu seized hold of a
stay and hailed them in a semi-Tahitian dialect, the _lingua franca_ of
Eastern Polynesia--

"_Ia ora na kotore teie nei aho!_" ("May you have peace this day!"), and
then, bidding them await him, he sprang overboard and swam to them. In
a few minutes he was alongside the canoe, holding on the gunwale and
holding an animated conversation with its crew, one of whom, evidently
the leader, at last bent down and rubbed noses with the Tahitian in
token of amity. Then they paddled alongside, and after some hesitation
clambered up on deck.

Tall and finely made, with light copper-coloured skins deeply tattooed
from their necks to their heels, and holding in their hands wooden
daggers set on both edges with huge sharks'-teeth as keen as razors,
they surveyed the vessel and her crew with looks of astonishment. Except
for a narrow girdle of curiously-stained pandanus leaves, each man was
nude, and their stiff, scanty, and wiry-looking beards seemed to quiver
with excitement as they looked with lightning-like rapidity from one
object to another.

Advancing to them with his hand outstretched, the master of the
brigantine took the leader's hand in his, and pointed to the poop, and
Upaparu told them that the white chief desired them to sit and talk with
him. Still grasping their daggers they acceded, and followed Shelley and
the Tahitian chief to the poop, seated themselves on the deck, while the
crew of the brigantine, in order not to embarrass or alarm them, went
about their work as if no strangers were present.

In a very short time Upaparu had so far gained their confidence that
they began to talk volubly, and answered all the questions he put to
them. "Pearl shell? Yes, there be plenty of it. Even here, beneath the
ship. Let us show thee!" and one of them, springing over the side, in
another minute or two reappeared with a large pearl shell in his hand,
which he placed in the hands of the master of the brigantine.

Convinced that he had done well in venturing inside, Captain Shelley
strove his utmost to establish friendly relations with his visitors,
and so far succeeded, through the instrumentality of the Tahitian chief,
that the leader of the natives, who was a leading chief of the island
named Hamanamana, promised to show them where the thickest patches of
pearl shell lay in the lagoon. Then, after making them each presents
of a sheath-knife and some other articles, the master and his officers
watched them descend into their canoe again, and paddle swiftly back to
their village, which lay within full view of the ship, a quarter of a
mile away.

*****

At a very early hour on the following day, the ship was surrounded by
some fifty or sixty canoes, all filled with natives of both sexes, who
proffered their services as divers, and seemed animated by the kindliest
feelings towards the white men. Lowering the largest boat, the master,
accompanied by Upaparu and the other Tahitians, was soon on his way to
a place in the lagoon, where his guides assured him there was plenty of
pearl shell. For some hours the first and second officers watched
their captain's movements with the liveliest anxiety; for, despite the
apparent friendliness of the natives, they were by no means confident.

But when, four hours later, the master returned with nearly a ton of
pearl shell in the boat, and excitedly told them that their fortunes
were made, the young men could not but feel highly elated, and sought by
every means in their power to increase the good impression that they and
the rest of the ship's company seem to have made upon the islanders.

That night, when the natives had returned to the shore, and the bright
blaze of the fires shot out across the sleeping lagoon, and their voices
were borne across the water to those in the ship, the two young officers
sat and talked together on the poop. A month or two in such a place as
this and they would be made men, for it was evident that no other vessel
had yet been inside the lagoon, which undoubtedly teemed with pearl
shell. And up for'ard the white sailors and their dark-skinned shipmates
grew merry, and talked and sang, for they, too, would share in the
general good luck. Then, as the lights from the houses on shore died
out, and the murmur of voices ceased, the crew of the _Queen Charlotte_,
officers and men, lay down on deck and went to sleep.

*****

One for'ard and one aft, the two sentries paced to and fro, and only the
slight sound of their naked feet broke the silence of the tropic night.
Now and then a fish would leap out of the water and fall back again
with a splash, and the sentries watched the swell and bubble of the
phosphorescent water for a minute or so, and then again resumed their
walk.

But though so silent, the darkness of the night was full of danger to
the unsuspecting ship's company of the _Queen Charlotte_. A hundred yards
away, swimming together in a semicircle, were some two hundred savages,
each with a dagger in his mouth and short ebony club held in the left
hand. Silently, but quickly, they swam towards the dark shadow of the
brigantine, whose lofty spars stood silhouetted against the white line
of beach that lay astern.

Suddenly fifty naked, dripping savages sprang upon the deck, and ere the
sentries could do more than fire their muskets the work of slaughter
had begun. Nearly all the white seamen, and many of the Tahitians, were
lying upon the main hatch, and these were slain almost ere they had time
to awake and realise their dreadful fate. As the loud reports of the
sentries' muskets reverberated across the motionless waters of the
lagoon, the master of the brigantine and his two officers awoke, and,
cutlasses in hand, tried bravely to defend those terrified and unarmed
members of the crew who had not yet been slaughtered. For some ten
minutes or so these three men, with Upaparu beside them, defended the
approaches to the poop, and succeeded in killing no less than fifteen
of their assailants. Swinging a short, heavy axe in his right hand, the
Tahitian chief fought like a hero, till a club was hurled at him with
such force that it broke two of his ribs. As he sank down he saw the
wild rush of naked bodies pass over him, and heard the death-cries
of the first and second officers, who, borne down by numbers, were
ruthlessly butchered. After that he remembered no more, for he was dealt
another blow on the head, which left him stunned.

When he came to his senses in the cold grey of the morning he found the
ship in possession of the people of Fakarava, and of all his shipmates
but two remained alive--Captain Shelley and a seaman named Ray; all the
rest had been slain and thrown overboard.

Apparently satisfied with the dreadful slaughter they had committed, the
natives now began plundering the ship, and Captain Shelley, who seems
to have been spared merely for the same reason that Upaparu was not
killed--because he was a chief, and therefore sacred--had to sit by and
watch them.

After stripping the vessel of everything movable, and even taking all
her canvas except the spanker and topsails, the natives went ashore, and
their leader, addressing Upaparu, told him that the ship was at liberty
to go away.

With the aid of the seaman Ray and the gallant chieftain, Captain
Shelley managed to get under weigh, and sailed for Tahiti, which he
reached safely. Here he stayed for some months, and then, having made
a new suit of sails from native mats, he returned to Port Jackson to
relate the story of his fateful voyage.




THE PERUVIAN SLAVERS

About north-west from turbulent and distracted Samoa lie a group of
eight low-lying coral atolls, called the Ellice Islands. Fifty years
ago, when the white cotton canvas of the ships of the American whaling
fleet dotted the blue of the Pacific from the west coast of South
America to the bleak and snow-clad shores of the Siberian coast, these
lonely islands were perhaps better known than they are now, for
then, when the smoky flames of the whaleships' try works lit up the
night-darkened expanse of the ocean, and the crackling of the furnace
fires and the bubble of the boiling oil made the hardy whalemen's hearts
grow merry, many a white man, lured by the gentle nature and amiable
character of the Ellice Islanders, had built his house of thatch under
the shadow of the rustling palms, and dwelt there in peace and happiness
and overflowing plenty. Some of them were traders--men who bartered
their simple wares, such as red Turkey twill, axes, knives, beads,
tobacco, pipes, and muskets, for coconut oil and turtle shell. Others
were wild, good-for-nothing runaways from whaleships, who then were
generally known as "beach-combers"--that is, combing the beach for a
living--though that, indeed, was a misnomer, for in those days, except
one of these men was either a murderer or a tyrant, he did not "comb"
for his living, but simply lived a life of luxurious, sensuous ease
among the copper-coloured people with whom he dwelt. He had, indeed, to
be of a hard and base nature to incur the ill-will or hostility of the
denizens of the eight islands.

Twenty years had passed, and, save for a few wandering sperm whalers,
the great fleet of the olden days had vanished; for the Civil War
in America had borne its fruit even put upon the placid Pacific, and
Waddell, in the Confederate cruiser _Shenandoah_, had swept northwards
from Australia, bent on burning every ship that flew the hated Stars
and Stripes. So, with fear in their hearts, the Yankee whaling skippers
hurried into neutral ports for shelter; and not a day too soon, for the
rebel war-vessel caught four of them at Ponapé Island, burnt them and
went up to the Arctic to destroy the rest.

Then followed years of quiet, for only a very few of the whaleships
returned, and, one by one, most of the white men wandered away to the
far distant isles of the north-west, taking their wives and families
with them, till there were but five or six remaining in the whole Ellice
Group.

Among those who sailed away one day in a whale-ship was a trader named
Harry. His surname was never known. To his fellow white men and the
natives of the island of Nukufetau on which he lived he was simply
"Harry"; to those of the other islands of the group he was _Hari Tino
Kéhé_, Big Harry.

It was not that he was wearied of the monotony of his existence on
Nukufetau that had led Harry to bid his wife and two children farewell,
but because that he had heard rumours of the richness in pearl-shell and
turtle-shell of the far distant isles of the Pelew Group, and desired
to go there and satisfy himself as to the truth of these sailors' tales;
for he was a steady, honest man, although he had run away from his ship,
a Sydney sandal-wooding vessel; and during his fifteen years' residence
on Nukufetau he had made many thousands of dollars by selling coconut
oil to the Sydney trading ships, and provisions to the American whalers.
A year after his arrival on the island he had married a native woman
named Te Ava Malu (Calm Waters). She was the daughter of the chief's
brother, and brought her husband as her dowry a long, narrow strip of
land richly covered with countless thousands of coco-palms, and it was
from these groves of coconuts that Harry had earned most of the bright
silver dollars, which, in default of a strong box, he had headed up in
a small beef keg and buried under the gravelled floor of his thatched
dwelling-house.

Children had been born to him--two fair-skinned, dark-eyed, and
gentle-voiced girls, named Fetu and Vailele. The elder, Fetu (The Star),
was a quiet, reserved child, and had her father's slow, grave manner and
thoughtful face. The younger, Vailele (Leaping Water), was in manner
and her ever merry mood like her name, for she was a restless, laughing
little maid, full of jest and song the whole day long.

When the time came for Big Harry to say farewell, he called to him his
wife and the two girls--Fetu was fourteen, and Vailele twelve--and,
bidding them lower down the door of plaited thatch so that they might
not be observed, he unearthed the keg of dollars, and, knocking off the
two topmost hoops, took out the head. Then he took out nine hundred of
the bright, shining coins, and, placing them in the lap of Te Ava Malu,
quickly headed up the keg again, and put it back in its hiding-place.

"Listen now to me, O wife and children," said he in the native tongue.
"See this money now before us. Of the nine hundred dollars I shall take
seven hundred; for it is to my mind that if these tales I hear of these
far-off islands be true, then shall I buy from the chiefs there a piece
of land, and get men to build a house for me; and if all goeth well with
me, I shall return here to Nukufetau within a year. Then shall we sail
thither and dwell there. And these other two hundred dollars shalt thou
keep, for maybe a ship may come here, and then thou, Te Ava Malu, shalt
go to thy father and place them in his hand, and ask him to go to
the ship and buy for me a whaleboat, which, when we leave this land
together, we shall take with us."

Then, giving his wife the two hundred dollars, he placed the rest in a
canvas pouch slung round his waist, and, embracing them all tenderly,
bade them farewell, and walked down to the shining beach to where the
boat from the whaleship awaited his coming.

Drawing her children to her side, Te Ava Malu stood out upon the sand
and watched the whaler loosen her canvas and heave up anchor. Only when
the quick _click, click_ of the windlass pauls reached their listening
ears, as the anchor came up to the song of the sailors and the ship's
head swung round, did the girls begin to weep. But the mother, pressing
them to her side, chid them, and said that a year was but a little time,
and then she sank down and wept with them.

So, with the tears blinding their eyes, they saw the whaler sail slowly
out through the passage, and then, as she braced her yards up and stood
along the weather shore of the island, they saw Big Harry mount halfway
up the mizzen lower rigging. He waved his broad leaf hat to them three
times, and then soon, although they could see the upper canvas of the
ship showing now and then above the palms, they saw him no more.

*****

Seven months had come and gone, and every day, when the great red sun
sank behind the thick line of palms that studded the western shore of
Nukufetau, Fetu and Vailele would run to a tall and slender _fau_ tree
that grew on their mother's land, and cut on its dark brown bark a broad
notch.

"See," said Vailele to her sister on this day, "there are now twenty and
one marks" (they were in tens) "and that maketh of days two hundred and
ten."

"Aue!" said the quiet Fetu. "Cut thou a fresh one above. One hundred and
fifty and five more notches must there be cut in the tree before Hari,
our father, cometh back; for in the white men's year there are, so he
hath told me, three hundred and sixty and five days."

"O-la!" and Vailele laughed. "Then soon must we get something to stand
on to reach high up. But yet, it may be that our father will come before
the year is dead."

Fetu nodded her dark head, and then, hand in hand, the two girls walked
back to their mother's house through the deepening gloom that had fallen
upon the palm grove.

*****

Ten miles away, creeping up to the land under shortened canvas, were a
barque and a brig. No lights showed upon their decks, for theirs was
an evil and cruel mission, and the black-bearded, olive-skinned men
who crowded her decks spoke in whispers, lest the sound of their voices
might perhaps fall upon the ears of natives out catching flying fish in
their canoes.

Closer and closer the ships edged in to the land, and then, as they
opened out the long white stretch of beach that fringed the lee of the
island, they hove-to till daylight.

But if there were no lights on deck there were plenty below, and in the
barque's roomy cabin a number of men were sitting and talking together
over liquor and cigars. They were a fierce, truculent-looking lot, and
talked in Spanish, and every man carried a brace of revolvers in his
belt. All round the cabin were numbers of rifles and carbines and
cutlasses; and, indeed, the dark faces of the men, and the profusion of
arms that was everywhere shown, made them look like a band of pirates,
bent upon some present enterprise. Pirates they were not; but they were
perhaps as bad, for both the brig and the barque were Peruvian slavers,
sent out to capture and enslave the natives of the South Sea Islands to
work the guano deposits of the Chincha Islands.

At one end of the cabin table sat the captain of the barque--a
small-made, youthful-looking man, of not more than twenty-five years
of age. Before him was spread a sheet-chart of the Ellice Group, and
another of the Island of Nukufetau, which he was studying intently.

Standing at the back of the captain's chair was a short, stout,
broad-shouldered man, with a heavy black moustache and hawk-like
features, who followed with interest the movements of the captain's
slender brown hand over the chart. This was Senor Arguello, the owner of
the two vessels, and the leading spirit in the villainous enterprise.

"There is the passage into the lagoon, Senor Arguello," said the young
captain, pointing to the place on the chart; "and here, on this islet,
the last one of the three that form the western chain of the atoll, is
the native village. Therefore, if we can succeed in landing our boats'
crews between the islet and the one next to it, we can cut off all
chances of the natives escaping in that direction."

"Good, Captain Martinas. But what if they escape into the forest?"

"As you see, Senor," said the captain politely, "the islet is but
narrow, and offers no chance of concealment unless there are mangrove
scrubs in the wider portions. We can secure every one of them in a few
hours. There is no possible way of escape but by the sea, and that we
have provided against--the brig's boats will watch both sides of the
islet, three on the lagoon side, and two on the ocean side."

"Excellent, Captain," said the fat ruffian Arguello. "I must compliment
you upon your exactitude of your arrangements. I trust that we shall be
as successful here as we were at Nukulaelae.{*} Captain Hennessy," and
here he bowed to a man who sat at the other end of the table, "will,
I am sure, see that none of these people are drowned in their silly
efforts to escape, as occurred at other places."

     * Nukulaelae was almost entirely depopulated by these
     slavers.

Captain Peter Hennessy, once a dashing officer of the Peruvian navy, now
a dissipated, broken-down master of a slaving brig, for answer struck
his hand heavily on the table, and swore an oath.

"That was not my fault. But, by the God above me, I am sick of this
business! I undertook to sail the brig and fill her with natives, but I
did not undertake to have a hand in the bloody deeds that have happened.
And now that I am on board, I may as well tell you all that the moment
I see a shot fired at any of these poor devils I back out of the concern
altogether."

"The brave Captain Pedro is tender-hearted," sneered the young captain
of the barque, showing his even white teeth under his jet-black
moustache.

"No words from you, Captain Martinas," retorted the Irishman. "I am
prepared to go on now; but mind you--and you know me--the first man
that I see lift a rifle to his shoulder, that man will I send a bullet
through, be he black or white."

Then, with a curt nod to his fellow-associates in crime, the captain
of the brig _Chacahuco_ strode out of the cabin, and calling his boat,
which was towing astern of the barque, he got into her and pulled off to
shore.

*****

Just as the first flushes of the rising sun tinged the sea to windward
with streaks of reddish gold, the decks of the slavers bustled with
activity. Boats were lowered, and the crews of cut-throat Chilenos and
Peruvians swarmed eagerly into them, and then waited for the signal to
cast off.

Suddenly the look-out on the barque, who was stationed on the foreyard,
hailed the deck and reported that three canoes had pushed off from the
beach and were paddling towards the ship.

A savage curse broke from Porfiro Arguello. He and Martinas had hoped to
get part of the landing party posted between the two islets before the
natives could see the ships. Now it was too late.{*}

     * Three vessels were engaged in this nefarious business, a
     barque and two brigs. The most dreadful atrocities were
     committed. At Easter Island they seized nearly the whole
     population; at Nukulaelae, in the Ellice Group, they left
     but thirty people out of one hundred and fifty.

"Let all the boats go round to the port side," said Martinas. "The
canoes will board us on the starboard side, Senor Arguello, and once we
get these people safely on board we shall still be in time to block the
passage between the islets."

The boats were quickly passed astern, and then hauled up alongside on
the port side; and Martinas, having signalled to the brig to do the same
with her boats, lest the natives, seeing armed men in them, should make
back for the shore, quietly lit a cigar and waited.

On came the three canoes, the half-naked, stalwart rowers sending them
quickly over the ocean swell. In the first canoe were four men and two
young girls; in the others men only. Unconscious of the treacherous
intentions that filled the hearts of the white men, the unfortunate
people brought their canoes alongside, and, with smiling faces, called
out in English--

"Heave a rope, please."

"Aye, aye," responded a voice in English; and the natives, as the rope
was thrown to them, made fast the canoes and clambered up the sides, the
two girls alone remaining in the first canoe, and looking with lustrous,
wondering eyes at the crowd of strange faces that looked down at them
from the barque's decks.

Ten minutes before Martinas had ordered two sentries who stood guard,
one at the break of the poop and the other on top of the for'ard
deckhouse, to disappear; and so, when the natives gained the deck there
was nothing to alarm them. But at the heavy wooden gratings that
ran across the decks, just for'ard of the poop and abaft the for'ard
deckhouse, they gazed with eyes full of curiosity. As for the main
hatch, that was covered with a sail.

"Good morning, cap'en," said the leader of the natives, a tall, handsome
old man about fifty. "Where you come from?"

"From California," answered Martinas, making a sign to one of his
officers, who slipped away down to the main deck.

"What you come here for, sir?" resumed the native amiably; "you want
fowl, pig, turtle, eh?" And then, unfastening a small bag tied round his
naked waist, he advanced and emptied out a number of silver dollars.

"What is that for?" said Martinas, who spoke a little English.

The native laughed pleasantly.

"Money, sir." And then he looked round the ship's decks as if seeking
something. "Me want buy boat. Where all your boat, cap'en? Why boat no
here?" pointing to the davits and the pendant boat-falls.

"Sea break all boat," said the Peruvian quickly. And then, seeing the
look of disappointment on the man's face, he added, "But never mind. You
come below. I have handsome present for you."

"All right, cap'en," answered the old man with a pleased smile, as he
turned and beckoned to the other natives to follow him.

An exultant smile showed on the grim features of Senor Arguello as he
saw the captain's ruse. But just then the second mate came up.

"The girls won't come up on deck," he muttered in Spanish to the
captain. "They laugh, and shake their heads."

"Let them stay, Juan, until I get these fellows below quietly. Then let
one of the boats slip round and seize them."

*****

Great results sometimes attend upon the merest trifles, and so it
fell about now, for by a simple accident were some hundreds of these
innocent, unsuspecting people of Nukufetau saved from a dreadful fate;
for just as Mana, who was the chiefs brother and the uncle of the two
poor half-caste children in the canoe, was about to go below, followed
by his people, one of the boat's crew on the starboard side dropped the
butt of his musket heavily on the naked foot of a young Chileno boy, who
uttered an exclamation of pain.

Wondering where the cry came from, the old native, before he could be
stayed, ran to the port side and looked over. There, lying beneath him,
were four boats filled with armed men.

Suspicion of evil intent at once flashed through his mind, and,
springing back, he gave voice to a loud cry of alarm.

"Back, back, my children!" he cried. "There be many boats here, and
in them are men with guns and swords." And then he and those with him
rushed for the break of the poop, only to meet the black muzzles of
carbines and the glint of twenty cutlasses.

Alas! poor creatures, what hope was there for them, unarmed and almost
naked, against their despoilers? One by one they were thrown down,
seized, and bound; all but the old man, who, with his naked hands,
fought valiantly, till Martinas, seizing a cutlass from a seaman, passed
it through his naked body.

With one despairing cry, the old man threw up his arms and fell upon his
face, and Martinas, drawing out his bloody weapon, ran to the side and
looked over. The canoes were there, but the two girls were gone.

"Curses on you, Juan!" he shouted. "Why did you not seize them?"

But Senor Arguello, with a grim smile, took him by the arm and pointed
to where Juan, the second mate, was chasing the two girls in his boat.
At the sound of the struggle on deck they had jumped overboard, and,
fearless of the sharks, were swimming swiftly for the reef, not a
quarter of a mile away.

Standing on the poop-deck of the barque, the captain and Arguello
watched the chase with savage interest. Halfway to the shore they saw
Juan stand up and level his carbine and fire. The ball struck the water
just ahead of the two girls, who were swimming close together. Then, in
another two or three minutes, Juan was on top of them, and they saw the
oars peaked.

"Saints be praised! He's got one," said Arguello. "They are lifting her
into the boat."

"And the other little devil has dived, and they will lose her. Perdition
take their souls! A bullet would have settled her," said Martinas. "She
will easily get ashore now and alarm the whole village."

Then, with a volley of oaths and curses, he ordered the rest of the
boats away to the little strait separating the two islets.

But ere they had sped more than halfway to the shore, the girl who had
dived had swum in between the jagged, isolated clumps of coral that
stood out from the reef, and rising high upon a swelling wave, they
saw her lifted bodily upon its ledge, and then, exhausted as she was,
stagger to her feet and run shorewards along its surface.

On, on, she ran, the sharp coral rock tearing her feet, till she gained
the white sand of the inner beach, and then she fell prone, and lay
gasping for her breath. But not for long, for in a few minutes she was
up again, and with wearied limbs and dizzy brain she struggled bravely
on till the houses of the village came in sight, and the wondering
people ran out to save her from falling again.

"Flee! flee!" she gasped. "My uncle, and Fetu, and all with them are
killed.... The white men on the ships have killed them all."

Like bees from their hives, the terrified natives ran out of their
houses, and in ten minutes every soul in the village had fled to the
beach, and launching canoes, were paddling madly across the lagoon
to the main island of Nukufetau lagoon. Here, in the dense puka and
mangrove scrub, there was hope of safety.

And, with rage in their villains' hearts, the slavers pursued them in
vain; for before the boats could be brought round to the passage the
canoes were nearly across the lagoon. But two of the canoes, being
overloaded, were swamped, and all in them were captured and bound. Among
those who escaped were the wife of Big Harry and her daughter Vailele.

That afternoon, when the boats returned to the ships, Captain Peter
Hennessy and his worthy colleague, Captain Martinas, of the barque _Cid
Campeador_ quarrelled, and the young Peruvian, drawing a pistol from his
belt, shot the Irish gentleman through the left arm, and the next
moment was cut down upon his own deck by a sweeping blow from Hennessy's
cutlass. Then, followed by Arguello's curses, the Irish captain went
back to his brig and set sail for Callao, leaving Martinas to get the
better of his wound and swoop down upon the natives of Easter Island six
weeks later.

And down below in the stifling, sweating hold, with two hundred
miserable captives like herself, torn from various islands and speaking
a language akin to her own, lay the heart-broken and despairing daughter
of Big Harry of Nukufetau.

*****

And now comes the strange part of this true story. Two years had
passed, when one cold, sleety evening in Liverpool, a merchant living at
Birkenhead returned home somewhat later than his usual hour in a hired
vehicle. Hastily jumping out, he pulled the door-bell, and the moment it
was opened told the domestic to call her mistress.

"And you, Mary," he added, "get ready hot flannels, or blankets, and a
bed. I found an unfortunate young foreign girl nearly dead from cold
and exhaustion lying at the corner of a side street. I am afraid she is
dying."

In another minute the merchant and his wife had carried her inside, and
the lady, taking off her drenched and freezing garments, set about to
revive her by rubbing her stiffened limbs. A doctor meanwhile had been
sent for, and soon after his arrival the girl, who appeared to be about
sixteen years of age, regained consciousness, and was able to drink a
glass of wine held to her lips. For nearly an hour the kindly hearted
merchant and his wife watched by the girl's bedside, and with a feeling
of satisfaction saw her sink into a deep slumber.

The story she told them the next day, in her pretty broken English,
filled them with the deepest interest and pity. She had, she said, been
captured by the crew of one of two slave ships and taken to a place
called Callao. On the voyage many of her ill-fated companions had died,
and the survivors, upon their arrival at Callao, had been placed upon a
vessel bound to the Chincha Islands. She, however, had, the night before
the vessel sailed, managed to elude the sentries, and, letting herself
drop overboard, swam to an English ship lying nearly a quarter of a mile
away, and clambered up her side into the main-chains. There she remained
till daylight, when she was seen by one of the crew. The captain of the
ship, at once surmising she had escaped from the slave barque, concealed
her on board and, the ship being all ready for sea, sailed next day for
Japan. For nearly ten months the poor girl remained on board the English
ship, where she was kindly treated by the captain and his wife and
officers. At last, after visiting several Eastern ports, the ship sailed
for Liverpool, and the girl was taken by the captain's wife to her own
lodgings. Here for some weeks she remained with this lady, whose husband
meantime had reported the girl's story to the proper authorities, and
much red-tape correspondence was instituted with regard to having her
sent back to her island home again. It so happened, however, that the
girl, who was deeply attached to the captain's wife, was one day left
alone, and wearied and perhaps terrified at her mistress not returning
at dark, set out to look for her amid the countless streets of a great
city. In a very short time she was hopelessly lost, and became so
frightened at the strangeness of her surroundings that she sank
exhausted and half-frozen upon the pavement of a deserted street. And
here she was found as related.

For some months the girl remained with her friends, the merchant and
his wife, for the captain of the ship by which she had reached Liverpool
had, with his wife, consented to her remaining with them.

One evening, some few months after the girl had been thus rescued, a
tall, sunburnt man, dressed like a seaman, presented himself at the
merchant's house and asked to see him.

"Send him in," said Mr.----

As the stranger entered the room, Mr. ---- saw that he carried in his
hand a copy of a Liverpool newspaper.

"I've come, sir," he began, "to ask you if you are the gentleman that
I've been reading about----"

Just then the door opened, and the merchant's wife, followed by a girl,
entered the room. At the sound of their footsteps the man turned, and
the next moment exclaimed--

"My God! It's my little girl!"

And it was his little girl--the little Fetu from whom he had parted at
Nukufetau two years before.

*****

Sitting with his great arms clasped lovingly around his daughter, Big
Harry told his tale. Briefly, it was this:--After reaching the Pelew
Islands and remaining there a few weeks, he had taken passage in a
vessel bound to Manila, in the hope that from that port he could get
a passage back to Nukufetau in another whaler. But the vessel was cast
away, and the survivors were rescued by a ship bound for Liverpool.
Landed at that port, and waiting for an opportunity to get a passage to
New Bedford, from where he could return to his island home in a whaler,
he had one day picked up a paper and read the account of the slavers'
onslaught upon the Ellice Islands, and the story of the escape of
a young half-caste girl. Never dreaming that this girl was his own
daughter--for there are many half-castes in the eight islands of the
group--he had sought her out, in the hope that she would be pleased to
hear the sound of her native tongue again, and perhaps return with him
to her native land.

Nearly a year passed before Big Harry, with his daughter Fetu, sailed
into the placid waters of Nukufetau Lagoon, and of the glad meeting of
those four happy souls there is no need to tell.




A QUESTION OF PRECEDENCE

Denison, the supercargo of the _Indiana_ was always reproaching
Packenham, the skipper, for getting the ship into trouble by his
inconsiderate and effusive good-nature--"blind stupidity," Denison
called it. And whenever Packenham did bring trouble upon himself or the
ship's company by some fresh act of glaring idiotcy, he would excuse
himself by saying that it wouldn't have happened if Nerida had been with
him that trip. Nerida was Packenham's half-caste Portuguese wife. She
was a very small woman, but kept her six-foot husband in a state of
placid subjection and also out of much mischief whenever she made a
cruise in the _Indiana_. Therefore Denison loved her as a sister, and
forgave her many things because of this. Certainly she was a bit of a
trial sometimes to every living soul on board the brig, but then all
skippers' wives are that, even when pure white. And Nerida's doings
would make a book worth reading--especially by married women with
gadabout husbands like Packenham. But on this occasion Nerida was not
aboard, and Denison looked for trouble.

*****

For four days and nights the little _Indiana_ had leapt and spun along,
before a steady southerly gale, rolling like a drunken thing a-down the
for'ard slopes of mountain seas, and struggling gamely up again with
flattened canvas from out the windless trough; a bright, hot sun had
shone upon her swashing decks from its slow rosy dawn to its quick
setting of fiery crimson and blazing gold; and at night a big white moon
lit up an opal sky, and silvered the hissing froth and smoky spume that
curled in foaming ridges from beneath her clean-cut bows.

The brig was bound from Auckland to Samoa and the islands of the
north-west, and carried a cargo of trade goods for the white traders who
hoisted the _Indiana's_ house-flag in front of their thatched dwellings.
Packenham thought a good deal of this flag--it bore the letters R. P. in
red in a yellow square on a blue ground--until one day Hammerfeld, the
German supercargo of the _Iserbrook_, said it stood for Remorseless
Plunderer. Some one told this to Packenham, and although he gave the big
Dutchman a bad beating for it, the thing travelled all over the South
Seas and made him very wroth. So then he got Nerida to sew another half
turn in red to the loop of the P, and thereby made it into a B.

"That'll do fine," he said to Denison. '"Bob Packenham' instead of
'Robert Packenham,' eh?"

"Ye-s," answered, Denison thoughtfully, "I daresay it will be all
right." And a month later, when Captain Bully Hayes came on board the
_Indiana_ in Funafuti Lagoon, he gravely told Packenham that a lot of
people were saying the letters stood for "Bloody Pirate."

But all this has nothing to do with this story.

As I have said, the brig was running before a stiff southerly gale.
Packenham came on deck, and flinging his six feet of muscular manhood
upon the up-ended flaps of the skylight, had just lit his cigar when
Alan the bos'un came aft and said that the peak of Tutuila was looming
high right ahead, thirty miles away.

"Bully old ship!" said the skipper, "give the _Indiana_ a good breeze
that catches her fair and square in the stern and she'll run like a
scared dog with a tin-pot tied to his tail. Denison, you sleepy beast,
come up on deck and look at Samoa the Beautiful, where every prospect
pleases and only the German trader is vile."

And so as he and Denison sat aft on the skylight drinking their
afternoon coffee and smoking their Manilas, and the brown-skinned native
crew sat below in the dark and stuffy foc's'le and gambled for tobacco,
the _Indiana_ foamed and splashed and rolled before the gale till she
ran under the lee of the land into a sea of transparent green, whose
gentle rollers scarce broke in foam as they poured over the weed-clad
ledges of the barrier-reef into the placid waters or the islet-studded
lagoon encompassing the mainland about the village of Sa Lotopa.

Then as some of the merry-hearted kanaka crew ranged the cable, and
others ran aloft to clew-up the sails, Packenham steered the brig
between a narrow reef-bound passage till she brought up abreast a
sweeping curve of sandy beach, shining white under the wooded spurs of
a mountain peak two thousand feet above. Back from the beach and showing
golden-brown among the sunlit green lay the thatched houses of a native
village, and as the brig came head to wind, and the cable clattered
through the hawse-pipes, the brown-skinned people ran joyously down to
their canoes and swarmed off to the ship. For they all knew Pakenami the
_kapeni_, and Tenisoni the supercargo, and Alan the half-caste bos'un,
and the two mates, and the Chinaman cook, and every one else on board,
and for years past had laughed and joked and sang and hunted the wild
boar with them all; and sometimes lied to and robbed and fought with
them, only to be better friends than ever when the white men came
back again, and the skipper and Denison made the young men presents
of meerschaum pipes and condemned Snider rifles; and Alan the Stalwart
"asked" every fourth girl in the village when he got drunk at a dance
and denied it when sober, yet paid damages like an honourable man (2
dols, in trade goods for each girl) to the relatives.

In a few minutes the first batch of canoes reached the ship, and the
occupants, men, women, and children, clambered up the brig's side, and
then rushed aft to the poop to rub noses with Packenham and Denison,
after the custom of the country, and then for a time a wild babble of
voices reigned.

"Hallo, Iakopo, how are you!" said the skipper, shaking hands with a
fat-faced, smiling native, who was clad in a white duck suit, and was
accompanied by a pretty, dark-eyed girl; "how's the new church getting
on? Nearly finished, is it. Well, I didn't forget you. I've brought you
down the doors and windows from Auckland."

Iakopo (_Anglicè_ Jacob), who was the local teacher and rather a
favourite with the _Indiana's_ company, said he was very glad. He
was anxious to get the church finished before the next visit of the
missionary ship, he said. That vain fellow Pita, the teacher at Leone
Bay, had been boasting terribly about _his_ church, and he (Iakopo)
meant to crush him utterly with these European-made doors and windows,
which his good friend Pakenami had brought him from Nui Silani.

"You bet," said the skipper; "and what's more, I'll help you to take the
shine out of Pita. I'll fix the doors and windows for you myself," and
he winked slily at the teacher's daughter, who returned it as promptly
as any Christian maiden, knowing that Nerida wasn't on board, and that
she had nothing to fear.

"I wish to goodness that fellow hadn't come aboard," grumbled Denison to
Packenham, after the missionary and his daughter had gone ashore. "Peter
Deasy and the Dutchman don't like it, I can see, or they would have been
aboard before now. No white man likes boarding a ship _after_ a native
teacher, and both these fellows are d----d touchy. The chances are that
they won't come aboard at all to-day."

"That's true," said the captain thoughtfully; "I didn't think of that."
(He never did think.) "Shall I go ashore first, and smooth down their
ruffled plumage?"

Denison said he thought it would be a good thing to do. Deasy and the
Dutchman (_i.e._, the German) were both independent traders, who had
always bought their trade goods from and sold their produce to the
_Indiana_ for years past, and were worth humouring. So Packenham went
ashore, leaving Denison to open out his wares in the brig's trade room
in readiness for the two white men.

*****

Now both Peter Deasy and Hans Schweicker were feeling very sulky--as
Denison imagined--and at that moment were talking to each other across
the road from their respective doorways, for their houses were not far
apart. They had intended boarding the ship the moment she anchored, but
abandoned the idea as soon as they saw the teacher going off. Not
that they disliked Iakopo personally, but then he was only a low-class
native, and had no business thrusting himself before his betters. So
they sat down and waited till Denison or the captain came ashore.

Peter wore a pair of clean white moleskins and a bright pink print shirt
covered with blue dogs; and as the lower portion of this latter garment
was hanging outside instead of being tucked inside his moleskins, quite
a large number of dogs were visible. Hans, dressed in pyjamas of a green
and yellow check, carefully starched, smoked a very bad German cigar;
Deasy puffed a very dirty clay dhudeen.

Presently one of Hans's wife's numerous relatives ran up to him, and
told him that the captain was coming ashore, and the atmosphere at once
cleared a little. Deasy was the elder trader, and by right of custom
expected the skipper would come to his house first. Hans, however, was
the "warmest" man of the two, and thought _he_ should be the honoured
man, especially as he had the larger quantity of copra and other island
produce to sell Packenham. Both men were very good friends at that
moment, and had been so for years past. They had frequently
lied manfully on each other's behalf when summoned before the
Deputy-Commissioner for selling arms and ammunition to the natives.
But while in social matters--such as getting drunk, circumventing the
missionaries, and making fools of her Majesty's representatives--the two
were in perfect and truly happy accord, they were often devoured
with the bitterest business jealousies, and their wives and relatives
generally shared this feeling with them. And as Mrs. Deasy and Mrs.
Schweicker each had a large native following who all considered
_their_ white man was the better of the two, the question of commercial
supremacy between Peter Deasy and Hans Schweicker was one of much local
importance.

As the word was passed along that the captain was coming, the female
inmates of the two houses each surrounded their respective head, and
looked anxiously over his shoulders at the approaching visitor.
Deasy's wife had put on her best dress; so had Schweicker's.
Pati-lima--otherwise Mrs. Peter Deasy--who was a huge eighteen stone
creature, with a round good-humoured face and a piping childish voice,
had arrayed her vast proportions in a flowing gown of Turkey-red twill,
and the radiant glory thereof had a pleasing and effective background in
the garments of her three daughters, who were dressed in 'green, yellow,
and blue respectively. Manogi--Mrs. Schweicker--who had no children,
and was accounted the prettiest woman in Samoa, was clothed, like her
husband, in spotless white, and her shining black tresses fell in a wavy
mantle down to her waist. Unlike Pati-lima's daughters, whose heads were
encircled by wreaths of orange blossoms, Manogi wore neither ornament
nor decoration. She knew that her wavy hair drooped gracefully down her
clear-cut, olive-hued face like the frame of a picture, and set off her
bright eyes and white teeth to perfection; and that no amount of orange
blossoms could make her appear more beautiful. So in the supreme and
blessed consciousness of being the best-dressed and best-looking
woman in the whole village, she sat behind her husband fanning herself
languidly, and scarce deigning to answer the Deasy girls when they spoke
to her.

Presently the boat touched the beach. The captain jumped out, shook
hands with a number of natives who thronged around him, and stepped
along the path. Half-way between the white men's houses was the
unfinished church, and near to that the teacher's house, embowered in a
grove of orange and lemon trees. As Packenham walked along he looked
up the road, smiled and nodded at the Deasy and Schweicker crowd, then
deliberately turned to the left and walked into the teacher's dwelling!
And Manogi and all the Deasy women saw Miriamu, the teacher's daughter,
come to the open window and make a face at them in derision. Peter and
Schweicker looked at each other in speechless indignation.

"The swape av the wurruld!" and Deasy dashed his pipe down at his feet
and smashed it in small pieces, "to go to a native's house first an'
white min sthandin' awaitin' his pleasure. By the sowl av' me mother,
Hans, devil a foot does he put inside my door till he explains phwat he
manes by it."

"Shoost vat you mide expeg from a new chum!" replied Hans, who had lived
in Australia. Then they both went back to their respective houses to
await events.

Now Packenham meant no harm, and had not the faintest idea he was giving
offence. But then, as Denison said, he never would think. Yet on this
occasion he had been thinking. Iakopo had told him that he had collected
enough money to pay for the doors and windows right away, and then
Packenham, who knew that this would surprise and please Denison, told
the teacher that he would call for the money when he came ashore.

"Come to my father's house first--before you go to the white men's,"
said Iakopo's daughter, with a side look at the captain. She hated all
the Deasy girls and Manogi in particular, who had "said things" about
her to Denison, and knew that they would feel furiously jealous of her
if Packenham called at her father's house first. And Packenham said he
would do so.

Half an hour passed, and then the skipper having been paid the money by
the teacher, and having smoked a couple of cigarettes rolled for him by
Miriamu, said he must go. And Miriamu, who wanted to triumph over the
Deasy girls and Manogi, said she would come too. On the Scriptural
principle of casting bread upon the waters she had given Packenham some
presents--a fan, a bottle of scented coconut-oil, and two baked fowls.
These she put into a basket and told her little brother to bring
along--it would annoy the other girls.

During this time Deasy and Hans had been talking over the matter, and
now felt in a better temper. Manogi had said that Denison was a more
important man than Packenham. _He_ wouldn't have gone into the teacher's
house first; and then most likely Miriamu, who was no better than she
ought to be, had called the captain in.

"Why let this vex thee?" she said, "this captain for ever forgetteth
_faà Samoa_ (Samoan custom), and hath been beguiled by Miriamu into her
father's house."

After awhile Deasy and Hans agreed with her, and so when Packenham came
up to them with outstretched hand, they greeted him as usual; but their
women-folk glared savagely at Miriamu, who now felt frightened and stuck
close to the captain.

"Bedad, it's hot talking here in the sun," said Deasy, after Packenham
had shaken hands with Mrs. Deasy and Mrs. Hans and the girls, "come
inside, captain, and sit down while I start my people to fill the copra
bags and get ready for weighing."

"Veil, I don't call dot very shentlemanly gonduck," grunted Hans, who,
naturally enough, wanted _his_ copra weighed first so that he could get
away on board the brig and have first pick of Denison's trade room.

Deasy fired up. "An' I tell ye, Hans, the captain's going to plase
himself intoirely. Sure he wouldn't turn his back on my door to plase a
new man like you---"

Manogi pushed herself between them: "You're a _toga fiti_ man (schemer),
Paddy Deasy," she said in English, with a contemptuous sniff.

"Yes," added Hans, "you was no good, Deasy; you was alvays tarn
shellous----"

"An' you're a dirty low swape av a Dutchman to let that woman av yours
use a native wor-rud in the captain's hearin'," and Deasy banged
his fellow-trader between the eyes, as at the same moment Manogi and
Pati-lima sprang at each other like fiends, and twined their hands in
each other's hair. Then, ere Manogi's triumphant squeal as she dragged
out a handful of the Deasy hair had died away, half a dozen young lady
friends had leapt to her aid, to be met with cries of savage fury by the
three Misses Deasy, and in ten seconds more the whole lot were fighting
wildly together in an undistinguishable heap, with Deasy and the
Dutchman grasping each other's throats underneath.

Packenham jumped in on top of the struggling mass, and picking up three
women, one after another, tossed them like corks into the arms of
a number of native men who had now appeared on the scene, and were
encouraging the combatants; but further movement on his part was
rendered impossible by Miriamu, who had clasped him round the waist and
was imploring him to come away. For a minute or so the combat continued,
and then the tangle of arms, legs, and dishevelled hair was heaved up in
the centre, and Deasy and Hans staggered to their feet, glaring murder
and sudden death at each other.

Freeing himself from the grasp of the minister's daughter, who at once
leapt at Manogi, Packenham seized Schweicker by the collar, and was
dragging him away from Deasy when he got a crack on the side of his head
from Manogi's mother, who thought he meant to kill her son-in-law,
and had dashed to the rescue with a heavy tappa mallet. And then, as
Packenham went down like a pithed bullock, there arose a wild cry from
some one that the white captain was being murdered. Denison heard it,
and with five of the _Indiana's_ crew, armed with Winchester rifles, he
jumped into the boat and hurried ashore.

By this time some thirty or forty stalwart Samoans, under the direction
of the teacher, had flung themselves upon the women who were still
rending each other in deadly silence, and in some way separated them.
Packenham was lying apart from the rest, his head supported by a
white-haired old native who was threatening every one present with the
bloody vengeance of a man-of-war. Deasy and Hans were seated on the
sward, still panting and furious. Deasy had one black eye; Hans had two.

"Are yez satisfied, Dutchy?" inquired Deasy.

"Shoost as mooch as you vas!" answered the German.

*****

Now here the matter would have ended, but just at that time Pati-lima,
who was being fanned by a couple of her friends, caught sight of the
slight figure of Manogi, her white muslin gown torn to ribbons and her
bosom heaving with excitement. Her beautiful face, though white with
rage, was un-marred by the slightest scratch, while Pati-lima's was
deeply scored by her enemy's nails. This was hard to bear.

Raising herself on one elbow, Mrs. Deasy pointed contemptuously to
Manogi's husband and called out--

"Ah, you conceited Manogi! Take home thy German _pala-ai_ (coward). My
man hath beaten him badly."

"Thou liest, thou great blubbering whale," was the beauty's scornful
reply; "he could beat such a drunkard as thy husband any day."

The two women sprang to their feet, and were about to engage again when
Denison ran in between them, and succeeded in keeping them apart. Deasy
and Hans looked on unconcernedly.

"What is all this?" said Denison to Packenham.

Packenham groaned, "I don't know. An old woman hit me with a club."

"Serve you right. Now then, Deasy, and you, Hans, send all these women
away. I thought you had more sense than to encourage such things,"
and then Denison, who excelled in vituperative Samoan, addressed the
assemblage, and told the people to go home.

Still glaring defiance, the two factions slowly turned to leave the
field, and again all would have been well but for Manogi, who was
burning to see the thing out to its bitter end. So she had her try.

Pati-lima came from Manono, the people of which island eat much
shell-fish, and suffer much in consequence from the sarcastic allusions
of the rest of the Samoan people. And they don't like it, any more than
a Scotsman likes his sacred haggis being made the subject of idiotic
derision. So as the two parties moved off, Manogi faced round to
Pati-lima.

"Pah! _Manono ai foli_" (Manono feeds on shellfish).

"_Siamani vao tapiti elo_" (Germans gorge on stinking cabbage) was the
quick retort of Mrs. Deasy, who pointed scornfully at Manogi's husband,
and instantaneously the whole assemblage, male and female, were
engaged in hideous conflict again, while Denison and his boat's crew,
"Wond'ring, stepped aside," and let them fight it out.

What the result would have been had not the encounter been stopped
is hard to say; but in the midst of this second struggle the young
yellow-haired local chief bounded into the fray, and smote right and
left with a heavy club, ably seconded by Denison and his men and lakopo.
The appearance of the chief was, however, enough--the opposing factions
drew off from each other and retired, carrying their wounded with them.

*****

"What a brace of detestable ruffians!" said Captain De Groen, of her
Majesty's ship _Dawdler_, to Denison a day or two afterwards. The doctor
of the man-of-war had gone ashore to patch up the wounded, and Denison
had been telling the commander how the affair occurred.

Now Captain De Groen was wrong. Both Deasy and Schweicker were as decent
a pair of men as could be found in the Pacific--that is to say, they did
no harm to a living soul except themselves when under the influence of
liquor, which was not infrequent. But it was all Packenham's fault. Had
he kept clear of the teacher's house, Deasy and Hans would not have felt
affronted, Manogi and Pati-lima would not have said nasty things to each
other, and Denison would not have been reported upon officially by her
Majesty's High Commissioner for the Western Pacific as a person who,
"with a Mr. Packenham, master of the brig _Indiana_, incited the native
factions of Sa Lotopa to attack each other with murderous fury."




A TOUCH OF THE TAR-BRUSH

Dr. Te Henare Rauparaha, the youngest member of the New Zealand House
of Representatives, had made his mark, to a certain extent, upon the
political life of the colony. Representing no party, and having no
interests but those of the Maori race, he seldom rose to speak except on
questions of native land-grants, or when similar matters affecting
the Maori population were under discussion. Then his close, masterly
reasoning and his natural eloquence gained him the most profound
attention. Twice had he succeeded in inducing the House to throw out
measures that would have perpetrated the grossest injustice upon certain
Maori tribes; and ere long, without effort on his part, he became the
tacit leader of a small but growing party that followed his arguments
and resisted tooth and nail the tendency of certain Ministers to smooth
the path of the land-grabber and company-promoter. Later on in the
session his powers of debate, undeviating resolution, and determined
opposition to Governmental measures that he regarded as injurious to the
natives began to make Ministers uneasy; and although they cursed him in
secret for a meddling fool and mad-brained enthusiast, they no longer
attempted to ride rough-shod over him in the House, especially as the
Labour members, who held the balance of power, entertained very friendly
feelings towards the young man, and gave him considerable support.
Therefore he was to be conciliated, and accordingly the curt nods of
recognition, which were all that were once given him, were exchanged for
friendly smiles and warm hand-grasps. But Rauparaha was not deceived. He
knew that in a few evenings a certain Bill to absolutely dispossess the
native holders of a vast area of land in the North Island would be read,
and that its mover, who was a Government member, was merely the agent
of a huge land-buying concern, which intended to re-sell the stolen
property to the working people on magnanimous terms for village
settlements; and although sorely afraid at heart that he would have to
bear the brunt of the battle in opposing the Bill, the young doctor was
hopeful that the Labour members would eventually come to his support
when he exposed the secret motives that really had brought it into
existence. But he did not know that the Labour members had already been
"approached," and had given promises not to support him and not to
vote against the measure; otherwise some concessions regarding railway
contracts, which the Government were prepared to make to the great
Labour party, would be "matters for future consideration" only. And,
therefore, rather than offend the Government, the honest men agreed
to let Rauparaha "fight it out himself against the Government," and
"ratted" to a man. Every one of their number also expected to be
appointed a Director of a Village Settlement, and were not disposed to
fly in the face of a Providence that would give them each a permanent
and comfortable billet, especially as their parliamentary career was
doomed--not one of them had the faintest hope of re-election.

And so Dr. Rauparaha made the effort of his life, and the House listened
to him in cold and stony silence. From the first he knew that he was
doomed to failure, when he saw two or three of his once ardent admirers
get up and sneak out of the Chamber; but, with a glance of contemptuous
scorn at their retreating figures, he went on speaking. And then, at the
close of an impassioned address, he held up in his right hand a copy of
the Treaty of Waitangi.

"And this, honourable members, is the solemn bond and testimony of a
great nation, the written promise of our Queen and her Ministers to
these people that their lands and their right to live in their country
should be kept inviolate! How has that promise been kept? Think of it,
I pray you, and let your cheeks redden with shame, for the pages of this
Treaty are blotted with the blackest treachery and stained a bloody red.
And the Bill now before the House to rob and despoil some hundreds of
native families of land that has been theirs before a white man ever
placed his foot in the country is the most shameful and heartless act
of all. I say 'act' because I recognise how futile is my single voice
raised on behalf of my race to stay this bitter injustice. Rob us,
then, but offer us no longer the ghastly mockery of parliamentary
representation. Better for us all to die as our forefathers have done,
rifle in hand, than perish of poverty and starvation on the soil that is
our only inheritance."

"Rot!" called out a short, fat man wearing a huge diamond ring and an
excessively dirty white waistcoat. This was the Minister for Dredges and
Artesian Bores, a gentleman who hoped to receive a C.M.G. ship for his
clamorous persistency in advocating the claim of the colony to "'ave a
Royel dook as its next Governor."

"Shut up!" said an honourable member beside him. "Rauparaha doesn't talk
rot. You do--always."

The Minister muttered that he "didn't approve of no one a-usin' of
inflammetery langwidge in the 'Ouse," but made no further remark.

Rauparaha resumed his seat, the proposer of the Bill made his reply, and
the House voted solidly for the measure.

*****

That evening, as the young man sat in his chambers gazing moodily into
the glowing embers of the fire, and thinking bitterly of the utter
hopelessness of the cause that lay so near his heart, his door opened,
and Captain Lionel Brewster, a member of the House and a favoured
_protégé_ of the Government, walked in and held out his hand.

"How are you, doctor?" and he showed his white teeth in a smile of set
friendliness. "I hear you are leaving Wellington at the close of the
session for the North Island. I really am sorry, you know--deuced
sorry--that your splendid speech was so quietly taken this afternoon. As
a matter of fact, both ------ and ------ have the most friendly feeling
towards you, and, although your political opponents in this matter,
value and esteem you highly."

"Thanks, Captain Brewster," answered Rau-paraha coldly. He knew that
this polished gentleman had been sent to him merely to smooth him down.
Other land-grants had yet to come before the House, and Dr. Rauparaha,
although he stood alone, was not an enemy to be despised or treated with
nonchalance. One reason was his great wealth, the second his influence
with a section of the Press that attacked the Government native policy
with an unsparing pen. But, as a matter of fact, his visitor had a
second and more personal motive.

However, he asked Brewster to be seated; and that gentleman, twirling
his carefully-trimmed moustache, smiled genially, and said he should be
delighted to stay and chat a while.

"By the way, though, doctor," he said cordially, "my people--my aunt and
cousin, you know--have heard so much of you that I have promised to take
you down to our place for a few days if I can induce you to come. They
were both in the gallery yesterday, and took the deepest interest in
your speech. Now, my dear fellow, the House doesn't meet again till
Tuesday. Come down with me to-morrow."

"Thanks," and the doctor's olive features flushed a deep red; "I will
come. I think I have fired my last shot in Parliament, and intend to
resign, and so do not care much whether I ever enter the House again.
And I shall have much pleasure in meeting your aunt and cousin again; I
was introduced to them some weeks ago."

"So they told me," and Brewster smiled sweetly again. "Then you won't
come as a stranger. Now I must be off. I shall call for you after lunch
tomorrow."

As Lionel Brewster threw himself back in his cab and smoked his cigar he
cursed vigorously. "Damn the cursed half-breed of a fellow! He's clever
enough, and all that; but what the devil Helen can see in him to make
me invite him down to Te Ariri I don't know. Curse her infernal twaddle
about the rights of humanity and such fustian. Once you are my wife, my
sweet, romantic cousin, I'll knock all that idiotic bosh on the head.
It's bad enough to sit in the House and listen to this fellow frothing,
without having to bring a quarter-bred savage into one's own family.
However, he's really not a man to be ashamed of, so far as appearances
go.... And I must humour her. Five thousand a year must be humoured."

*****

"Well, Helen, and what do you think of your savage?" said Mrs.
Torringley to her niece, late the following evening, as she came to the
door of Helen's room before she said good-night.

The girl was lying on a couch at the further end of the room, looking
through the opened window out into the shadows of the night. The pale,
clear-cut face flushed. "I like him very much, auntie. And I have been
thinking."

"Thinking of what, dear?"

"Wondering if my father ever thought, when he was leading his men
against the Maoris, of the cruel, dreadful wrong he was helping to
perpetrate."

"'Cruel'! 'dreadful'! My dear child, what nonsense you talk! They were
bloodthirsty savages."

"Savages! True. But savages fighting for all that was dear to them--for
their lands, their lives, their liberties as a people. Oh, auntie, when
I read of the awful deeds of bloodshed that are even now being done in
Africa by English soldiers, it makes me sicken. Oh, if I were only a
man, I would go out into the world and----"

"My dear child," said the older lady, with a smile, "you must not read
so much of--of Tolstoy and other horrible writers like him. What would
Lionel say if he thought you were going to be a Woman with a Mission?
Good-night, dear, and don't worry about the Maoris. Many of them
are real Christians nowadays, and nearly all the women can sew quite
nicely."

Outside on the broad gravelled walk the young doctor talked to himself
as he paced quickly to and fro. "Folly, folly, folly. What interest can
she have in me, except that I have native blood in my veins, and that
her father fought our people in the Waikato thirty years ago?"

*****

Brewster had gone back to town for a day or two; but as he bade his aunt
and cousin goodbye, he warmly seconded their request to the doctor to
remain at Te Ariri till he returned, although inwardly he swore at them
both for a pair of "blithering idiots." And as he drove away to the
station he congratulated himself on the fact that while his fiancée
had a "touch of the tar-brush," as he expressed it, in her descent, her
English bringing-up and society training under her worldly-minded but
rather brainless aunt had led her to accept him as her future husband
without difficulty.

For the next two days Dr. Rauparaha had much writing to do, and passed
his mornings and afternoons in the quiet library. Sometimes, as he
wrote, a shadow would flit across the wide, sunlit veranda, and Helen
Torringley would flit by, nodding pleasantly to him through the windows.
Only two or three times had he met her alone since he came to Te Ariri,
and walked with her through the grounds, listening with a strange
pleasure to her low, tender voice, and gazing into the deep, dark eyes,
that shone with softest lustre from out the pale, olive face, set in a
wealth of wavy jet-black hair. For Helen Torringley was, like himself,
of mixed blood. Her mother, who had died in her infancy, was a South
American quadroon, born in Lima, and all the burning, quick passions
and hot temperament of her race were revealed in her daughter's every
graceful gesture and inflexion of her clear voice.

*****

It was late in the afternoon, and Dr. Rauparaha, pushing his papers
wearily away from him, rose from his seat. His work was finished.
To-morrow he would bid these new friends goodbye--this proud English
lady and her beautiful, sweet-voiced niece--the girl whose dark eyes and
red lips had come into his day-dreams and visions of the night. And just
then she came to the library door, carrying in her hand a portfolio.

"Are you very busy, Dr. Rauparaha?" she said, as she entered and stood
before him.

"Busy! No, Miss Torringley. Are these the sketches you told me Colonel
Torringley made when he was in New Zealand?" and as he extended his hand
for the book, the hot blood surged to his sallow forehead.

"Yes, they were all drawn by my father. I found them about a year since
in the bottom of one of his trunks. He died ten years ago."

Slowly the young man turned them over one by one. Many of them were
drawings of outposts, heads of native chiefs, &c. At last he came
to one, somewhat larger than the others. It depicted the assault and
capture of a Maori _pah_, standing on a hill that rose gradually from
the margin of a reedy swamp. The troops had driven out the defenders,
who were shown escaping across the swamp through the reeds, the women
and children in the centre, the men surrounding them on all sides to
protect them from the hail of bullets that swept down upon them from the
heights above the captured fortress.

A shadow fell across the face of Dr. Rauparaha, and his hand tightened
upon and almost crumpled the paper in his grasp; then he smiled, but
with a red gleam in his dark eyes.

"'The assault on Maungatabu by the 18th Royal Irish,'" he read.

"The brave Irish," he said, with a mocking smile, raising his head and
looking intently into the pale face of the girl; "the brave Irish! So
ardent for liberty themselves, such loud-mouthed clamourers to the world
for justice to their country--yet how they sell themselves for a paltry
wage to butcher women and children"--then he stopped suddenly.

"Pardon me, I forgot myself. I did not remember that your father was an
officer of that regiment."

She gave him her hand, and her eyes filled. "No, do not ask my pardon. I
think it was horrible, horrible. How can such dreadful things be? I have
heard my father say that that very victory filled him with shame.... He
led the storming party, and when the _pah_ was carried, and he saw the
natives escaping--the men surrounding the women and children--he ordered
the 'Cease firing' to be sounded, but----" and her voice faltered.

"But----" and the lurid gleam in Rauparaha's eyes made her face flush
and then pale again.

"The men went mad, and took no notice of him and the other two officers
who were both wounded--the rest were killed in the assault. They had
lost heavily, and were maddened with rage when they saw the Maoris
escaping, and continued firing at them till they crossed the swamp, and
hid in the long fern scrub on the other side."

"And even then a shell was fired into them as they lay there in the
fern, resting their exhausted bodies ere they crept through it to gain
the hills beyond," added the young man slowly.

"Yes," she murmured, "I have heard my father speak of it. But it was
not by his orders--he was a soldier, but not a cruel man. See, this next
sketch shows the bursting of the shell."

He took it from her hand and looked. At the foot of it was written, "The
Last Shot at Maungatabu."

His hand trembled for a moment; then he placed the drawing back in the
portfolio, and with averted face she rose from the table and walked to
the window.

For a moment or two she stood there irresolutely, and then with the
colour mantling her brow she came over to him.

"I must ask _your_ pardon now. I forgot that--that--that----"

"That I have Maori blood in my veins. Yes, I have, my father was a
Pakeha Maori,{*} my mother a woman of one of the Waikato tribes. She
died when I was very young." Then, in a curiously strained voice, he
said: "Miss Torringley, may I ask a favour of you? Will you give me that
sketch?"

     * A white man who had adopted Maori life and customs.

She moved quickly to the table, and untied the portfolio again.

"Which, Dr. Rauparaha? The last----"

"Yes," he interrupted, with sudden fierceness, "the Last Shot at
Maungatabu."

She took it out and came over to him. "Take it, if you wish it; take
them all, if you care for them. No one but myself ever looks at them....
And now, after what you have told me, I shall never want to look at them
again."

"Thank you," he said, in softer tones, as he took the picture from her.
"I only wish for this one. It will help to keep my memory green--when I
return to my mother's people."

"Ah," she said, in a pained voice, "don't say that. I wish I had never
asked you to look at it. I have read the papers, and know how the Maori
people must feel, and I am sorry, oh! so sorry, that I have unthinkingly
aroused what must surely be painful memories to you."

"Do not think of it, Miss Torringley. Such things always will be. So
long as we live, breathe, and have our being, so long will the strong
oppress and slay the weak; so long will the accursed earth-hunger of
a great Christian nation be synonymous for bloodshed, murder, and
treachery; so long will she hold out with one hand to the children
of Ham the figure of Christ crucified, and preach of the benefits of
civilisation; while with the other she sweeps them away with the Maxim
gun; so long will such things as the 'Last Shot at Maungatabu'--the
murder of women and children, always be."

With bated breath she listened to the end, and then murmured--

"It is terrible to think of, an unjust warfare. Were any women and
children killed at Maungatabu?"

"Yes," he almost shouted back, "many were shot as they crossed the
swamp. And when they gained the fern two more were killed by that last
shell--a woman and child--my mother and my sister!"

He turned away again to the window, but not so quickly but that he could
see she was crying softly to herself, as she bent her face over the
table.

*****

Three days after, Mrs. Torringley showed her nephew a note that she had
found on her niece's dressing-table:--

     "Do not blame me. I cannot help it. I love him, and am going
     away with him to another country. Perhaps it is my mother's
     blood. Wipe me out of your memory for ever."




THE TRADER S WIFE

Years ago, in the days when the "highly irregular proceedings," as naval
officers termed them in their official reports, of the brig _Carl_ and
other British ships engaged in the trade which some large-minded people
have vouched for as being "absolutely above reproach," attracted
some attention from the British Government towards the doings of the
gentlemanly scoundrels engaged therein, the people of Sydney used to
talk proudly of the fleet of gunboats which, constructed by the New
South Wales Government for the Admiralty, were built to "patrol the
various recruiting grounds of the Fijian and Queensland planters and
place the labour-traffic under the most rigid supervision." The remark
quoted above was then, as it is now, quite a hackneyed one, much used
by the gallant officers who commanded the one-gun-one-rocket-tube craft
aforementioned. Likewise, the "highly irregular proceedings" were
a naval synonym for some of the bloodiest slaving outrages ever
perpetrated, but which, however, never came to light beyond being
alluded to as "unreliable and un-authenticated statements by discharged
and drunken seamen who had no proper documentary evidence to support
their assertions."

The Australian slave-suppressing vessels were not a success. In the
first place, they could not sail much faster than a mud-dredge. Poor Bob
Randolph, the trader, of the Gilbert and Kingsmill Groups, employed as
pilot and interpreter on board, once remarked to the officer commanding
one of these wonderful tubs which for four days had been thrashing her
way against the south-east trades in a heroic endeavour to get inside
Tarawa Lagoon, distant ten miles (and could not do it), that "these
here schooners ought to be rigged as fore-and-afters and called
'four-and-halfters; for I'll be hanged if this thing can do more than
four and a half knots, even in half a gale of wind, all sail set and a
smooth sea." But if the "four-and-halfters," as they were thenceforth
designated in the Western Pacific, were useless in regard to suppressing
the villainies and slaughter that then attended the labour trade, there
was one instance in which one of the schooners and her captain did some
good by avenging as cruel a murder as was ever perpetrated in equatorial
Oceania.

One Jack Keyes was a trader on the island of Apiang, one of the Gilbert
Group, recently annexed by Great Britain. He was very old, very quiet
in his manner, and about the last kind of man one would expect to see
earning his living as a trader among the excitable, intractable native
race which inhabit the Line Islands. His fellow-trader, Bob Randolph,
a man of tremendous nerve and resolution, only maintained his prestige
among the Apiang natives by the wonderful control he had learnt to
exercise over a naturally fiery temper and by taking care, when knocking
down any especially insulting native "buck," never to draw blood, and
always to laugh. And the people of Apiang thought much of Te Matân Bob,
as much as the inhabitants of the whole group--from Arorai in the south
to Makin in the north--do to this day of quiet, spectacled Bob Corrie,
of wild Maiana, who can twist them round his little finger without an
angry word. Perhaps poor Keyes, being a notoriously inoffensive man,
might have died a natural death in due time, but for one fatal mistake
he made; and that was in bringing a young wife to the island.

A white woman was a rarity in the Line Islands. Certainly the Boston
mission ship, _Morning Star_, in trying to establish the "Gospel
according to Bosting--no ile or dollars, no missn'ry," as Jim Garstang,
of Drummond's Island, used to observe, had once brought a lady
soul-saver of somewhat matured charms to the island, but her advent into
the Apiang _moniap_ or town hall, carrying an abnormally large white
umbrella and wearing a white solar topee with a green turban, and blue
goggles, had had the effect of scaring the assembled councillors away
across to the weather-side of the narrow island, whence none returned
until the terrifying apparition had gone back to the ship. But this
white woman who poor old Keyes married and brought with him was
different, and the Apiang native, like all the rest of the world, is
susceptible to female charms; and _her_ appearance at the doorway of the
old trader's house was ever hailed with an excited and admiring chorus
of "_Te boom te matân! Te boom te matân!_" (The white man's wife.) But
none were rude or offensive to her, although the young men especially
were by no means chary of insulting the old man, who never carried a
pistol in his belt.

One of these young men was unnecessarily intrusive. He would enter the
trader's house on any available pretext, and the old man noticed that he
would let his savage eyes rest upon his wife's figure in a way there was
no mistaking. Not daring to tackle the brawny savage, whose chest, arms,
and back were one mass of corrugations resulting from wounds inflicted
by sharks' teeth spears and swords in many encounters, old Jack one day
quietly intimated to his visitor that he was not welcome and told him to
"get." The savage, with sullen hate gleaming from cruel eyes that looked
out from the mat of coarse, black hair, which, cut away in a fringe over
his forehead, fell upon his shoulders, rose slowly and went out.

*****

Early next morning old Keyes was going over to Randolph's house,
probably to speak of the occurrence of the previous day, when his
wife called him and said that some one was at the door waiting to buy
tobacco.

"What have you to sell?" called out the old man.

"_Te moe motu_" (young drinking-coconuts), was the answer, and the old
man, not recognising the voice as that of his visitor of the day before,
went unsuspectingly to take them from the native's hand, when the
latter, placing a horse-pistol to the trader's heart, shot him dead,
with the savage exclamation--

"Now your wife is mine!"

The poor woman fled to Bob Randolph for safety, and, dreading to remain
on the island, went away in a schooner to her home in New Zealand.
Nearly a year passed, and then a man-of-war came and endeavoured to
capture the murderer; but in vain, for the captain would not use force;
and "talk" and vague threats the natives only laughed at. So the ship
steamed away; and then the natives began to threaten Randolph, and talk
meaningly to each other about his store being full of _te pakea_ and _te
rom_ (tobacco and gin). A long, uneasy six months passed, and then the
little "four-and-halfter" Renard, Commander ------ sailed into Apiang
lagoon, and the naval officer told Randolph he had come to get the man
and try him for the murder.

*****

The commander first warped his vessel in as near as possible to the
crowded village, and moored her with due regard to the effectiveness
of his one big gun. Then, with Randolph as interpreter, negotiations
commenced.

The old men of the village were saucy; the young men wanted a fight and
demanded one. Randolph did his part well. He pointed out to the old men
that unless they gave the man up, the long gun on the ship would destroy
every house and canoe on the island, even if no one were killed. That
meant much to them, whereas one man's life was but little. But, first,
the natives tried cunning. One and then another wretched slave was
caught and bound and taken off to the naval officer as the murderer,
only to be scornfully rejected by Randolph and the captain. Then the
officer's patience was exhausted. If the man who murdered Keyes was not
surrendered in an hour he would open fire, and also hang some of the
chiefs then detained on board as hostages.

Randolph's gloomy face quickened their fears. This captain could neither
be frightened nor fooled. In half an hour the slayer of the trader was
brought on board. The old men admitted their attempt at deception, but
pleaded that the murderer was a man of influence, and they would rather
the two others (who were absolutely innocent) were hanged than this one;
but their suggestion was not acted upon. The trial was just and fair,
but short, and then Randolph urged the captain to have the man executed
on shore by being shot. It would impress the people more than hanging
him on board. And hanging they regarded as a silly way of killing a man.

The naval officer had no relish for work of this nature, and when
Randolph told him that the natives had consented to execute the prisoner
in his (Randolph's) presence (and the captain's presence also if
necessary) he, no doubt, felt glad. Bob Randolph then became M.C., and
gave his instructions to the old men. The whole village assembled in
front of Randolph's to see the show. An old carronade lying in the
corner of the copra house was dragged out, cleaned, and loaded with a
heavy blank charge. Then the prisoner, sullen and defiant to the last,
but wondering at the carronade, was lashed with his back to the muzzle,
and, at a signal from one of the old men, a firestick was applied to the
gun. A roar, a rush of fragments through the air, and all was finished.
Bob Randolph's fox-terrier was the only creature that seemed to trouble
about making any search for the remnants of the body. Half an hour
afterwards, as Bob was at supper, he came in and deposited a gory lump
of horror at his master's feet.




NINA

When Captain Henry Charlton--generally known as "Bully
Charlton"--stepped on shore at Townsville in North Queensland with his
newly-wedded wife, his acquaintances stared at them both in profound
astonishment. They had heard that he had married in Sydney, and from
their past knowledge of his character expected to see a loudly-attired
Melbourne or Sydney barmaid with peroxided hair, and person profusely
adorned with obtrusive jewelry. Instead of this they beheld a tall,
ladylike girl with a cold, refined face, and an equally cold and distant
manner.

"Well, I _have_ seen some curious things in my time," said Fryer, the
American master of a Torres Straits pearling schooner, to the other men,
as they watched Charlton and his wife drive away from the hotel, "but
to think that _that_ fellow should marry a lady! I wonder if she has the
faintest idea of what an anointed scoundrel he is?"

"He's been mighty smart over it, anyway," said a storekeeper named Lee.
"Why, it isn't six months since Nina drowned herself. I suppose it's
true, Fryer, that she did bolt with Jack Lester?"

The American struck his hand upon the table in hot anger. "That's a
lie! I know Lester well, and Nina Charlton was as good a woman as ever
breathed."

"Well, you see, Fryer, we don't know as much as you do about the matter.
But when Nina cleared out from her husband and Lester disappeared a day
or two later and went no one knows where, it did look pretty queer."

"And I tell you that Lester never saw Mrs. Charlton after the day he
took it out of Charlton. He's a gentleman. And if you want to know where
he is now I'll tell you. He's pearling at Thursday Island in Torres
Straits. And Nina Charlton, thank God, is at rest. After the fight
between Lester and her husband she ran away, and reached Port Denison
almost dead from exposure in the bush. Shannon, of the _Lynndale_, who
had known her in her childhood, gave her a passage to Sydney. Two days
before the steamer reached there she disappeared--jumped overboard in
the night, I suppose."

"Well, I'm sorry I repeated what is common gossip; but Charlton himself
put the story about. And the papers said a lot about the elopement of
the wife of a well-known plantation manager.'"

Fryer laughed contemptuously. "Just the thing Charlton would do. He's an
infernal scoundrel. He told Lester that he'd make it warm for him--the
beast. But I'm sorry for that sad-faced girl we saw just now. Fancy
the existence she will lead with an unprincipled and drunken brute like
Charlton! Good-bye; I'm off aboard. And look here, if ever any of you
hear any more talk about Lester and Nina Charlton and repeats it in my
hearing I'll do my best to make him sorry."

*****

Lester was the manager of a mine and quartz-crushing battery near
Charlton's plantation on the Lower Burdekin River when he "took it out"
of its owner. He was a quiet, self-possessed man of about thirty,
and occasionally visited Charlton and his wife and played a game of
billiards--if Charlton was sober enough to stand. Sometimes in his rides
along the lonely bush tracks he would meet Mrs. Charlton and go as
far as the plantation gates with her. She was a small, slenderly built
woman, or rather girl, with dark, passionate eyes, in whose liquid
depths Lester could read the sorrows of her life with such a man as
Henry Charlton. Once as he rode beside her through the grey monotone of
the lofty, smooth-barked gum-trees she told him that her father was an
Englishman and her mother a Portuguese.

"I married Captain Charlton in Macao. He was in the navy, you know; and
although it is only four years since I left my father's house I feel
so old; and sometimes when I awake in the night I think I can hear the
sound of the beating surf and the rustle of the nipa-palms in the trade
wind. And, oh! I so long to see----" Her eyes filled with tears, and she
turned her face away.

Perhaps Lester's unconsciously pitying manner to her whenever they met,
and the utter loneliness of her existence on the Belle Grace Plantation
made Nina Charlton think too much of the young mine manager, and,
without knowing it, to eagerly look forward to their chance meetings.

One day as Lester was walking through Charlton's estate, gun in
hand, looking for wild turkeys, he met her. She was seated under the
widespreading branches of a Leichhardt-tree, and was watching some of
her husband's labourers felling a giant gum.

"I came out to see it fall," she said. "It is the largest tree on
Belle Grace. And it is so dull in the house." She turned her face away
quickly.

Lester muttered a curse under his breath. He knew what she meant.
Charlton had returned from Townsville the day before in a state of
frenzy, and after threatening to murder his servants had flung himself
upon a couch to sleep the sleep of drunkenness.

As the men hewed at the bole of the mighty tree Lester and Nina Charlton
talked. She had spent the first year of her married life in Sydney,
which was Lester's native town, and in a few minutes she had quite
forgotten the tree, and was listening eagerly to Lester's account of
his wanderings through the world, for his had been an adventurous
career--sailor, South Sea trader, pearl-sheller, and gold miner in New
Guinea and the Malayan Archipelago.

"And now here I am, Mrs. Charlton, over thirty years of age, and not any
the richer for all my roving. Of course," he added, with boyish candour,
"I know when I'm well off, and I have a good billet here and mean to
save money. And I intend to be back in Sydney in another fortnight."

"But you will return to Queensland, will you not?" she said quickly.

Lester laughed. "Oh yes, I suppose I shall settle down here finally.
But I'm going to Sydney to be married. Would you care to see my future
wife's photograph? You see, Mrs. Charlton, you're the only lady I've
ever talked to about her, and I should like you to see what she is
like."

She made no answer, and Lester in wondering ignorance saw that her face
had paled to a deathly white and that her hands were trembling.

"You are ill, Mrs. Charlton. You must be getting a touch of fever. Let
me take you home."

"No," she answered quickly; "let me stay here. I shall be better in a
minute." And then she began to sob passionately.

Charlton, awakening from his drunken sleep, looked at them from the
window of the sitting-room. He hated his wife because she feared him,
and of late had almost shuddered when he touched her. Picking up
his whip from the table, he walked out of the house to where she was
sitting.

"So this is your little amusement, is it?" he said savagely to Nina;
"and this fellow is the cause of all my trouble. I might have known what
to expect from a woman like you. Your Portuguese nature is too much for
you. Go back to the house, and leave me to settle with your lover."

The next instant Lester launched out and struck him on the mouth. He lay
where he fell, breathing heavily, and when he rose to his feet he saw
Lester carrying his wife, who had fainted, to the house.

Placing Mrs. Charlton in the care of a servant, Lester returned quickly
to where Charlton, who was no coward, awaited him.

"You drunken scoundrel!" he burst out; "I've come back to settle up with
you!"

And Lester did "settle up" to his heart's content, for he half-killed
Charlton with his own whip.

A week later, however, Charlton had his first bit of revenge. Lester was
dismissed, the directors of the mine being determined, as they said, to
show their disapproval of his attack upon "a justice of the peace and
one of their largest shareholders."

Lester sat down and wrote to the "girl of his heart," and told her that
he could not see her for another year or so. "I have had to leave the
mine, Nell, dear," he said. "I won't tell you why--it would anger you
perhaps. But it was not all my fault. However, I have decided what to
do. I am going back to my old vocation of pearler in Torres Straits. I
can make more money there than I could here."

The following morning, as he was leaving Belle Grace, he heard that Mrs.
Charlton had left her husband two days previously, and had made her way
through the bush to Port Denison, from where she had gone to Sydney.

Soon after Lester had sailed for Torres Straits in Fryer's schooner, the
owner of Belle Grâce Plantation received a telegram from Sydney telling
him that his wife was dead--she had jumped overboard on the passage
down. And, later on, Lester heard it also.

*****

Lester was doing well, but wondering why Nellie March did not write. He
little knew that Charlton was in Sydney working out his revenge. This he
soon accomplished.

From the local postmistress at Belle Grace Charlton had learned the
address of the girl Lester was to marry; and the first thing he did when
he arrived in Sydney was to call upon her parents, and tell them
that Lester had run away with his wife. And they--and Nellie March as
well--believed his story when he produced some Queensland newspapers
which contained the accounts of the "elopement." He was a good-looking
man, despite his forty years of hard drinking, and could lie with
consummate grace, and Nellie, after her first feelings of shame and
anger had subsided, pitied him, especially when he said that his poor
wife was at rest now, and he had forgiven her. Before a month was out
she married him.

Then Charlton, who simply revelled in his revenge, sent the papers
containing the announcement of his marriage to Lester.

Lester took it very badly at first. But his was a strong nature, and
he was too proud a man to write to the woman he loved and ask for an
explanation. It was Charlton's money, of course, he thought. And as the
months went by he began to forget. He heard of Charlton sometimes from
the captains of passing vessels. He was drinking heavily they said, and
whenever he came to town boasted of having "got even" with the man who
had thrashed him. Lester set his teeth but said nothing, and in time
even such gossip as this failed to disturb him. But he swore to give
Charlton another thrashing when the opportunity came.

*****

A year had come and gone, and Lester found himself in Sydney. He liked
the free, open life among the pearlers, and intended to go back after
a month or so of idleness in the southern city. One evening he strolled
into the bar of Pfahlerts Hotel and ordered a whisky-and-soda. The
girl he spoke to looked into his face for a moment and then nearly
fainted--it was Nina Charlton!

"Give me your address," she said quickly, as she put out her hand. "I
will come and see you in an hour from now."

She came, and in a few minutes told him her history since he had seen
her last. The captain of the _Lynniale_ pitying her terror at the
prospect of her husband following her, had concealed her when the
steamer was near Sydney, and it was he who telegraphed to Charlton that
his wife had disappeared on the passage and was supposed to have jumped
or fallen overboard. And she told Lester that she knew of her husband's
second marriage and knew who it was whom he had married.

What was she going to do? Lester asked.

Nothing, she said. She would rather die than let Charlton know she was
alive. When she had saved money enough she would go back to her own
people.

Lester walked home with her. At the door of the hotel she bade him
good-night.

"We shall meet sometimes, shall we not?" she asked wistfully. "I have
not a friend in all Sydney."

"Neither have I," he said, "and I shall only be too happy to come and
see you." She was silent a moment, then as she placed her hand in his
she asked softly--

"Have you forgotten _her_ altogether?"

"Yes," he answered, "I have. I did cut up a bit at first. But I'm over
it now."

Her fingers pressed his again, and then with an almost whispered
"Good-night" she was gone.

Before a month was over Lester was honestly in love with her. And she
knew it, though he was too honourable a man to tell her so. Then one day
he came to her hurriedly.

"I'm going back to Torres Straits to-morrow," he said. "I may be away
for two years.... You will not forget me."

"No," she answered, with a sob, "I shall never forget you; you are all
the world to me. And go now, dear, quickly; for I love you--and I am
only a woman."

*****

But there is a kindly Providence in these things, for when Lester
reached Thursday Island in Torres Straits he heard that Charlton was
dead. He had been thrown from his horse and died shortly after. His
widow, Lester also heard, had returned to Sydney.

So Lester made quick work. Within twenty-four hours he had sold his
business and was on his way back to Sydney.

He dashed up in a cab to his old lodgings. In another hour he would see
Nina. He had sent her a telegram from Brisbane, telling her when the
steamer would arrive, and was in a fever of excitement. And he was late.
As he tumbled his things about, his landlady came to the door with a
letter.

"There was a lady called here, sir, a week ago, and asked for your
address. I had just got your telegram saying you were coming back
to-day, and she said she would write, and this letter came just now."

Lester knew the handwriting. It was from Nellie. He opened it.

     "I know now how I have wronged you. My husband, before he
     died, told me that he had deceived me. My life has been a
     very unhappy one, and I want to see you and ask for your
     forgiveness. Will you send me an answer to-night?--Nellie!"

Lester held the letter in his hand and pondered. What should he do?
Answer it or not? Poor Nellie!

He sat down to think--and then Nina Charlton opened the door and flung
her arms around his neck.

"I could not wait," she whispered, "and I am not afraid _now_ to say I
love you."

That night Lester wrote a letter to the woman he had once loved. "I am
glad to know that Charlton told you the truth before he died," he said.
"But let the past be forgotten."

*****

He never told Nina of this. But one day as they were walking along the
"Block" in George Street, she saw her husband raise his hat to a tall,
fair-haired woman with big blue eyes.

"Is that she, Jack?" murmured Nina.

Lester nodded.

"She's very lovely. And yet I felt once that I could have killed
her--when you and I sat together watching the big tree fall. But I
couldn't hate _any one_ now."




THE EAST INDIAN COUSIN

Nearly eighty years ago, when the news of Napoleon's downfall at
Waterloo had not yet reached England's colonies in the Far East, a
country ship named the _Nourmahal_ sailed from Madras for the Island of
Singapore. The object of her voyage was not known except, perhaps, to
the leading officials of the Company's establishment at Madras; but it
was generally believed that she carried certain presents from the Indian
Government to the then Sultans of Malacca, Johore, and Pahang.
Sir Stamford Raffles, it was known, had urged the occupation and
fortification of Singapore as a matter of importance to England's
supremacy in the Eastern seas. And, indeed, three years later he began
the work himself.

But the presents destined for the Rajahs never reached them; for from
the day that she sailed from Madras roadstead the _Nourmahal_ was never
heard of nor seen again; and a year later no one but the relatives of
the few Europeans on board thought any more about her. She had, it was
conjectured, foundered in a typhoon, or been captured by pirates on her
way through the Straits of Malacca.

The master of the missing ship was an Englishman named John Channing.
For twenty-five or more years he had served the East India Company well,
and his brave and determined conduct in many a sea-fight had won him
not only a high place in the esteem of the directors, but considerable
wealth as well. In those days it was not unusual for the captains of
the larger ships belonging to or chartered by the Honourable Company
to accumulate fortunes as the result of half a dozen successful voyages
between England and Calcutta, and Captain John Channing had fared as
well--or even better--than any of his fellow-captains in the service.
For many years, however, he had not visited England, as, on account of
his intimate and friendly relations with both the Portuguese and Dutch
in the East Indies, the Government kept him and his ship constantly
employed in those parts. Jealous and suspicious as were both the
Dutch and Portuguese of English influence, they yet accorded Channing
privileges granted to no other Englishman that sailed their seas. The
reasons for these concessions from the Dutch were simple enough. A Dutch
war-vessel conveying treasure to Batavia had been attacked by pirates,
and in spite of a long and gallant defence was almost at the mercy
of her savage assailants when Channing's ship came to her rescue and
escorted her to port in safety. With the Portuguese merchants he was on
most friendly terms, for twenty years before the opening of this story
he had married the daughter of one of the wealthiest of their number,
who was settled at Macassar, in Celebes. They had but one child, Adela,
who when the _Nourmahal_ sailed from Madras was about eighteen years of
age, and she, with her mother, had accompanied her father on his last
and fateful voyage. In England the missing seaman had but one relative,
a nephew named Francis Channing, who was a lieutenant in the Marines.
Nearly a year after the departure of his uncle's ship from India, all
hope of his return was abandoned, and as he had left no will an official
intimation was sent to the young man by John Channing's Calcutta
bankers, informing him of his uncle's supposed death, and suggesting
that he should either obtain a lengthened leave or resign from the
service and come out to India to personally confer with them and the
proper authorities as to the disposal of the dead man's property, which,
as the owner had died intestate, would, of course, be inherited by his
sole remaining relative. But the ship by which this letter was sent
never reached England. A week after she sailed she was captured by
a French privateer, one of several which, openly disregarding the
proclamation of peace between England and France, still preyed upon
homeward-bound merchantmen; and all the letters and despatches found on
board the captured vessel were retained by the privateer captain, and
were doubtless lost or destroyed.

Meanwhile Lieutenant Channing, quite unconscious of his good fortune,
had sailed in His Majesty's ship _Triton_ for the Cape and East Indies.
With no influence behind him, and nothing but his scanty pay to live on,
he had nothing to hope for but that another year's or two years' service
would gain him his captaincy. Of his uncle in India he had scarcely ever
heard, for his father and John Channing had quarrelled in their early
lives, and since then had not corresponded.

Although at times quiet and reflective in his manner, his genial,
open-hearted disposition soon made the young officer of Marines a
general favourite with every one on board the _Triton_. The captain
of the frigate, one of those gallant old seamen who had distinguished
themselves under Nelson and Hyde Parker, knew Channing's worth and
bravery well, for they had served together in some of the bloodiest
engagements that had ever upheld the honour of England's flag. Unlike
many other naval captains who in those days were apt to regard somewhat
slightingly the services rendered by the Marines, Captain Reay was, if
not an ardent admirer of the corps, at least a warm-hearted advocate
for and friend to it. Perhaps much of the feeling of friendship shown
to Channing was due to the fact that before he joined the _Triton_ her
captain had told his officers a story of his experiences in the West
Indies, in which the officer of Marines was the central figure. Captain
Reay had been sent by the senior officer of the squadron to demand
the surrender of a fort on the Island of Martinique, when by an act of
treachery he and his boat's crew were made prisoners and confined in
the fortress, where he was treated with almost savage brutality by
the commandant. The frigate at once opened fire, but after four hours'
bombardment had failed to silence a single gun in the fort. At midnight
it was carried in an attack led by young Channing, then a mere lad,
and who, although two-thirds of his small force fell ere the walls were
reached, refused to draw back and abandon Reay and his men. From that
day Reay became his warm and sincere friend.

*****

The best part of a year had passed since the _Triton_ had sailed from
Portsmouth, and now, with only the faintest air filling her canvas,
she was sailing slowly along the shores of a cluster of islands, high,
densely wooded, and picturesque. They formed one of the many minor
groups of the beautiful and fertile Moluccas. Ten days before, the
frigate had left Banda, and, impelled upon her course by but the
gentlest breezes, had crept slowly northward towards Ternate, where
Captain Reay was touching for letters before reporting himself to the
Admiral at Singapore. On the quarter-deck a party of officers were
standing together looking over the side at the wonders of the coral
world, over which the ship was passing. For many hours the _Triton_ had
sailed thus, through water as clear as crystal, revealing full sixty
feet below the dazzling lights and ever-changing shadows of the uneven
bottom. Now and again she would pass over a broad arena of sand,
gleaming white amid encircling walls of living coral many-hued, and
gently swaying weed and sponge of red and yellow, which, though so
far below, seemed to rise and touch the frigate's keel and then with
quivering motion sink again astern. And as the ship's great hull cast
her darkening shadow deep down through the transparency, swarms of
brightly coloured fishes, red and blue and purple and shining gold, and
banded and striped in every conceivable manner, darted away on either
side to hide awhile in the moving caverns of weed that formed their
refuge from predatory enemies. So slowly was the frigate moving, and
so clear was the water, that sometimes as she sailed over a valley of
glistening sand the smallest coloured pebble or fragment of broken coral
could be as clearly discerned upon the snowy floor as if it lay embedded
in a sheet of flawless crystal; and then again the quivering walls of
weed and sponge would seem to rise ahead as if to bar her way, then
slowly sink astern in the frigate's soundless wake.

But if the strange world beneath was wondrous and fascinating to look
upon, that around was even more so. Three miles away on the starboard
hand a group of green and fertile islands shone like emeralds in the
morning sun. Leaning over the rail, Francis Channing gazed at their
verdant heights and palm-fringed beaches of yellow sand with a feeling
but little short of rapture to a man with a mind so beauty-loving and
poetic as was his. Familiar to the wild bloom and brilliance of the West
Indian islands, the soft tropical beauty of the scene now before him
surpassed all he had ever seen, and, oblivious of the presence and
voices of his brother officers as they conversed near him, he became
lost in reflective and pleased contemplation of the radiant panorama of
land, sea, and almost cloudless sky around him. Thirty miles away,
yet so distinctly defined in the clear atmosphere that it seemed but a
league distant from the ship, a perfect volcanic cone stood abruptly up
from out the deep blue sea, and from its sharp-pointed summit a pillar
of darkly-coloured smoke had risen skywards since early morn; but now as
the wind died away it slowly spread out into a wide canopy of white,
and then sank lower and lower till the pinnacle of the mountain was
enveloped in its fleecy mantle.

As the young officer watched the changes of the smoky pall that
proclaimed the awful and mysterious forces slumbering deep down in the
bosom of the earth, he was suddenly aroused from his reflective mood by
the shrill whistles and hoarse cries of the boatswain's mates, and in
another minute the watch began to shorten sail: a faint greenish tinge
in the western sky, quickly noted by the master, who was an old sailor
in Eastern seas, told of danger from that quarter.

Although the typhoon season had not yet set in, and both Captain Reay
and the master knew that in that latitude (about 4 deg. south) there
was not very much probability of meeting with one, every preparation
was made, as violent squalls and heavy rain, at least, were certain
to follow the greenish warning in the sky. In a very short time their
surmise proved correct, for by four in the afternoon the _Triton_ under
short canvas, was battling with a mountainous sea and furious gusts
of wind from the W.N. W. The presence of so much land around them,
surrounded by networks of outlying reefs, the strong and erratic
currents, and the approaching night, gave Captain Reay much concern, and
it was with a feeling of intense relief that he acceded to the master's
suggestion to bring the ship to an anchor in a harbour situated among
the cluster of islands that the ship had passed early in the day.

"We can lie there as snugly as if we were in dock," said the master;
"the holding ground is good, and there is room for half a dozen
line-of-battle ships." Then, pointing to the chart lying before him, he
added, "The place is called Tyar, and, curiously enough, was first
made known to the Admiral at Calcutta by a Captain Channing, one or the
Company's men. This plan of the harbour is a copy of the one he made ten
years ago."

"Channing's uncle, very probably," said Captain Reay, who had been told
by his Marine officer that he had an unknown uncle in the Company's
service. "Very well, Mr. Dacre, let us get in there by all means. I am
most anxious to see the ship out of this before darkness sets in and we
get piled up on a reef."

A mighty downpour of rain, which fell upon the frigate's deck like a
waterspout, cut short all further speech by its deafening tumult, and
although it lasted but a few minutes, it killed the fury of the squall
to such an extent that the ship, unsteadied by her canvas, rolled so
violently that no one could keep his feet. Suddenly the torrent ceased,
and a short, savage, and gasping puff struck and almost sent her over on
her beam-ends, then swept away as quickly as it came, to be followed a
minute later by another almost as fierce but of longer duration.

Without further loss of time the reefs were shaken out of the
topsails, for darkness was coming on, and, wearing ship at a favourable
opportunity, the Triton kept away for Mr. Dacre's harbour. The wind, now
blowing with steady force, sent her through the confused and lumpy sea
at such a speed that before sundown she ran through the entrance to the
harbour, and, bringing to under a high, wooded bluff, dropped anchor
in ten fathoms of water, quite close to a narrow strip of beach that
fringed the shores of a little bay.

The place in the immediate vicinity of the ship appeared to be
uninhabited, but as darkness came on, a glimmer of lights appeared along
the shore some miles away, and at daylight a number of fishing prahus
approached the frigate, at first with hesitation, but when they were
hailed by the master in their own tongue, and told that the ship was
English, they came alongside and bartered their fish. They assured the
master that the stormy weather was sure to continue for some days, until
the moon quartered, and Captain Reay was pleased to learn from them that
a certain amount of provisions, fish, vegetables, and fruit, would be
brought off daily to the ship for sale.

The wind still blew with violence, and although the ship lay in water as
smooth as a mill-pond, the narrow strip of open ocean visible from her
decks was whipped foaming white with its violence.

In their conversation with the master, the natives had told him that at
a village some miles away from where the Triton was anchored, there was
a white man and his wife living--French people, so they said. A year
before, a French privateer, running before a heavy gale and a wild,
sweeping sea, had struck upon the barrier reef of one of the outer
low-lying islands of the group, and, carried over it by the surf, had
foundered in the lagoon inside. Only ten people were saved, and among
them were the Frenchman and his wife. Two months afterwards eight of
the male survivors took passage in a prahu belonging to the Sultan of
Batchian, having heard that there was a French ship refitting at that
island.

"Why did the two others remain?" asked Mr. Dacre.

The natives laughed. "Ah! the one man who stayed was a clever man. When
the prahu from Batchian came here he said he was sick, and that his wife
feared to sail so far in a small prahu. He would wait, he said, till a
ship came."

"And then?" asked Dacre.

"And then, after the other Frenchmen had gone, he came to our head man
and said that if they would keep faith with him he would make them rich,
for he knew that which none else knew. So he and they made a bond to
keep faith with one another, and that day he took them to where the ship
had sunk, and pointing to where she lay beneath the water he said: 'Is
there any among ye who can dive down so far?' They laughed, for the
wreck was but ten single arm lengths below, and then they said: 'Is this
where thy riches lie? Of what use to us is this sunken ship, save for
the guns on her decks?'

"Then he said: 'In that ship is gold and silver money enough to cover as
a carpet the beach that lies in front of the village, but to get it
the decks must be torn up. I, who was second in command, know where the
treasure lieth in the belly of the ship. Now let us talk together and
make a plan whereby we can get this money. It was for this I lied to
those who have gone and said I was sick.'

"Then as soon as the tides were low, the Frenchman and the head men made
rafts of bamboos and timber, and floating them on the wreck they took
thick ropes of rattan, and divers went down and lashed the ends thereof
to the cross-beams under the decks. Then when this was done more bamboos
were added to the rafts above, and as the tide flowed the rattan ropes
stood up like iron bars. For two days the people worked at this, and yet
the decks kept firm, but on the third day a great piece tore out, and
the sunken rafts sprang to the surface. And then the divers again went
down, and by and by they brought up money in bags of canvas, and wooden
boxes. And half of which was gotten up the Tuan took, and half he gave
to the head men, according to the bond. And much more money is yet in
the ship, for it is only when the water is clear and the current is not
swift can we dive. Yet every time do we get money."

"The rascal!" said Captain Reay, when Dacre translated this. "I suppose
this money was from plundered English prizes. Only that we are at
peace with France, I'd like to take every coin from both the piratical
scoundrel himself and his Malay partners. And, indeed, if the _Triton_
were not a King's ship, I'd send a boat there and take it now. But I
suppose I can't interfere--confound the fellow!--now that we are at
peace with France."

The wind was still blowing with great force, and as there appeared no
prospect of the weather breaking for another day or two, Captain Reay
and his officers made preparations for excursions into the country. The
natives showed a very great friendliness towards the _Triton's_ people,
and at about ten in the morning two boats left the ship for the
shore, and Channing, accompanied by one of his Marines, who carried
a fowling-piece, set out by themselves along the winding path that
encircled the narrow littoral of the island off which the frigate lay.
The captain had ordered that the shore party was not to remain later
than sunset; so, determined to see as much of the place as possible,
Channing and Private Watts set off at a brisk pace. A three hours' walk
brought them to the windward side of the island, and then emerging from
the palm-shaded path, they suddenly came upon the principal village
of the island. Their appearance was hailed by the natives with every
manifestation of pleasure, and a number of young men escorted them to
the house of the principal head man, where they offered a simple repast
of fish and fruit, and small drams of arrack served in coconut shells.

Leaving Private Watts to amuse himself with the villagers, who
apparently took much interest in his uniform and accoutrements,
Francis Channing set out for a walk. The path led along through the
sweet-smelling tropical forest at about a cable's length from the shore,
and then suddenly emerged upon a little cove, the beach of which was
strewn with wreckage; spars, hempen cables, and other ship's gear
covering the sand at high-water mark. Several rudely constructed rafts
of wreckage, timber, and bamboo, were moored a little distance off, and
Channing at once surmised that the spot was used as a landing-place by
the wreckers working at the sunken privateer.

As he stood looking about him, uncertain whether to go on or turn back,
a man approached him from a house that stood at the furthest point of
the bay, and saluted him politely in French.

"I presume, sir," he said, as he bowed and extended his hand to the
Englishman, "that you are one of the officers from the English frigate
anchored at Tyar. I have heard that peace has been declared between our
two nations, and I rejoice."

Channing made a suitable reply, and gazed with interest at the stranger,
who was a handsome man of less than twenty-five years of age, dressed
in a rough suit of blue jean, and wearing a wide-rimmed hat of plaited
straw. His face was tanned a rich brown by the Eastern sun; and rough
and coarse as was his attire, his address and manner showed him to be a
man of education and refinement.

He seemed somewhat discomposed when Channing, in a very natural manner,
asked him the name of his ship, and answered--

"_L'Aigle Noir_, Monsieur, and my name is Armand Le Mescam."

"I have heard her name mentioned by our master," said the Marine
officer, with a smile. "He has had the honour of serving in many
engagements against your country's ships in these seas, in which our
ships have not always secured a victory."

The Frenchman bowed and smiled, and then, feeling no doubt that he could
do so with safety to himself, and that even if the cause of his presence
on the island were known to the _Tritons_ people that he would suffer no
molestation, invited Channing to walk to his house and take a glass of
wine.

"Ah!" said Channing, with a laugh; "then you have got wine as well as
money from the wreck of _L' Aigle Noir_."

The Frenchman's face darkened, and he stopped short.

"You know then, Monsieur, the reason of my remaining on this island?"

"I have heard," answered Channing frankly; and then, noticing the
agitation expressed on the Frenchman's face, he added, "but that does
not concern me, nor indeed any one else on board the _Triton_--not now,
at any rate, since France and England are at peace."

Monsieur Le Mescam seemed greatly relieved at hearing this, and in
another minute, chatting gaily to his visitor, led the way into his
house. The building was but little better than an ordinary native
dwelling, but it was furnished with rude couches and seats made from the
wreckage of the privateer, and scattered about were many articles,
such as weapons, crockery, cooking utensils, clothing, &c. Two or three
native servants, who were lounging about, at once presented themselves
to their master, and one of them, bringing a small keg, filled two
silver cups with wine, and Channing and his host, bowing politely to
each other, drank.

For some little time the two men conversed pleasantly, and then the
Frenchman, who so far had avoided all allusion to the treasure, offered
to conduct his guest a part of the way back to the native village. That
he had not presented Channing to his wife did not surprise the latter,
who imagined that she could scarcely be clothed in a befitting manner to
meet a stranger, and he therefore did not even let his host know that he
was aware of his wife being with him on the island.

Drinking a parting cup of wine together, the two men set out, the
Frenchman leading the way past a number of sheds built of bamboos, and
covered with atap thatch. As they reached the last of these buildings,
which stood almost at the water's edge, they came upon a woman who
was sitting, with her back turned to them, under the shade of the
overhanging thatched eaves, nursing a child.

In a moment she rose to her feet and faced them, and rough and coarsely
clad as she was, Channing was struck by her great beauty and her sad and
mournful face.

For a moment the Frenchman hesitated, and with a quick "Sit you there,
Adela, I shall return shortly," was turning away again with Channing,
when they heard the woman's voice calling in French, "Adrian, come
back!" and then in another moment she added in English, as she saw
Channing walking on, "And you, sir, in Heaven's name, do not leave me! I
am an Englishwoman."

In an instant Channing turned, and quick as lightning the Frenchman,
whose face was dark with passion, barred his way--"Monsieur, as an
honourable man, will not attempt to speak to my wife when I request him
not to do so."

"And I beg of you, sir, as my fellow-countryman, not to desert me. I am
indeed an Englishwoman. My father's ship was captured, plundered, and
then sunk by a French privateer, within sight of Malacca. Both he and
my mother are dead, and I was forced to marry that man there," and she
pointed scornfully through her tears to Le Mescam. "His captain, who I
thought had some honour, promised to set me ashore at Manila, but when
we reached there I was kept on board, and, ill and scarce able to speak,
was married to Lieutenant Le Mescam, against my will, by a Spanish
priest. Oh, sir, for the sake of my father, who was an English sailor,
help me!"

Channing sprang towards her. "Madam, I am an Englishman, and there is
a King's ship not four miles away. You, sir"--and he turned to the
Frenchman, whose handsome face was now distorted with passion--"shall
answer for your cowardly conduct, or I very much mistake the character
of the gallant officer under whom I have the honour to serve. Ha!" And
with sudden fury he seized Le Mescam's right arm, the hand of which had
grasped a pistol in the bosom of his coat. "You cowardly, treacherous
hound!" and wrenching the weapon from his grasp, he struck the Frenchman
in the face with it, and sent him spinning backward upon the sand, where
he lay apparently stunned.

Then Charming turned to the woman, who, trembling in every limb, was
leaning against the side of the house. "Madam, I shall return to the
ship at once. Will you come with me now, or shall I go on first? That
our captain will send a boat for you within an hour you may rely on. He
will take quick action in such a matter as this. If you fear to remain
alone, I shall with pleasure escort you on board now."

"No, no," she pleaded; "he," and she pointed to the prone figure of the
Frenchman, "would never hurt me; and I cannot leave him like this--I
cannot forget that, wicked and cruel as he has been to me, he is the
father of my child. Return, sir, I pray you, to your ship, and if you
can help me to escape from my unhappy position, do so. Were it not
for the money that my husband is employed in getting from the sunken
privateer, my lot would not have been so hard, for he would have
returned with the other survivors to Batchian; and from there, by
the weight of my poor father's name, I could easily have escaped to
Macassar, where my mother's relatives live."

"Do not fear then, Madam," said Channing kindly, "I shall leave you
now, but rest assured that a few hours hence you shall be among your
own countrymen once more." Then as two native women appeared, as if
searching for their mistress, he raised his hat and walked quickly away.

*****

Armand Le Mescam, with the bitterest rage depicted on his swarthy
features, rose to his feet, and instead of returning to his house went
slowly along towards one of his storehouses, without even glancing at
his wife, who stood watching him from where Channing had left her. In
a few moments she saw his figure vanishing among the palms, but not so
quickly but that she perceived he carried a musket.

His intention was easy to divine, and with a despairing look in her
eyes, she began to run after him, carrying the infant in her arms.

*****

Private Watts, meanwhile, had very much enjoyed himself with the
natives, who, by reason of the Polynesian strain in their blood, were
a merry, demonstrative, joyous people, unlike most of the Malayan race,
who are much the reverse, especially towards strangers. For some time
he had been watching the native boys throwing darts at a target, and
his attempts to emulate their skill aroused much childish merriment.
Suddenly the lengthening shadows of the surrounding palms recalled
him to the fact that it was getting late, so bidding goodbye to his
entertainers, he shouldered his fowling-piece and set off to meet his
master, taking the same path as that by which Lieutenant Channing had
left him. Half an hour's walk brought him to a spot where the path lay
between the thick forest jungle on one side and the open beach on the
other, with here and there jagged clumps of broken coral rock covered
with a dense growth of vines and creepers.

Three or four hundred yards away he could see the tall figure of
Lieutenant Channing walking quickly along the path; and so, sitting down
upon a little strip of grassy sward that skirted the beach side of the
track, the soldier awaited his master.

With the approach of sunset the wind had fallen, and though a mile or
two away the thundering surges leapt with loud and resounding clamour
upon the barrier reef, only the gentlest ripple disturbed the placid
water of the sheltered lagoon. Overhead the broad leaves of the
coco-palms, towering above the darker green of the surrounding
vegetation, drooped languidly to the calm of the coming night, and great
crested grey and purple-plumaged pigeons lit with crooning note upon
their perches to rest.

As he lay there, lazily enjoying the beauty of the scene, the soldier
heard the loud, hoarse note and whistling and clapping of a hornbill,
and, turning his head, he saw the huge-beaked, ugly bird, rising in
alarm from one of the vine-covered boulders of coral which stood between
the path and high-water mark not thirty yards away, and at the same
moment he caught a gleam of something bright that seemed to move amid
the dense green tangle that covered the rock; and then a man's head and
shoulders appeared for a second in full view. His back was turned
to Watts, who now saw, with a vague feeling of wonder, that he was
kneeling, and peering cautiously out upon the path below. Further along
Watts could see his master, now within a hundred feet of the boulder,
and walking very quickly. Then an exclamation of horror broke from
him as the kneeling man slowly rose, and pointed his musket full at
Channing; but ere the treacherous hand could pull the trigger, the
Marine had levelled his piece and fired; without a cry the man spun
round, and then pitched headlong to the ground at Channing's feet.

"My God, sir!" panted Watts, as a few seconds later he stood beside his
master, who was gazing with stupefied amazement at the huddled-up figure
of Armand Le Mescam, who lay with his face turned upward, and a dark
stream trickling from his mouth, "I was only just in time. He had you
covered at ten paces when I fired."

Le Mescam never spoke again. The shot had struck him in the back and
passed through his chest. As the two men bent over him, a woman carrying
a child burst through the jungle near them, sank exhausted on her knees
beside the dead man, and then fainted.

*****

There was much excitement when the last boat returned to the _Triton_
pulling as her crew had never pulled before. Then there was a rush of
pig-tailed bluejackets to the gangway, as a murmuring whisper ran along
the decks that the "soger officer was comin' aboard holdin' a woman in
his arms," and the news was instantly conveyed to the captain, who
was that evening dining with his officers, with the result that as the
cutter ran up alongside, Captain Reay, the master, and half a dozen
other officers were standing on the main deck.

"By Heavens, gentlemen, it's true!" cried Captain Reay to the others.
"Here, show more light at the gangway!"

And then amid a babble of excitement, Lieutenant Channing, pale,
hatless, and excited, ascended the gangway, carrying in his arms a woman
whose white face and dark hair stood clearly revealed under the blaze
of lights held aloft by the seamen. As he touched the deck, the sleeping
babe in her arms awoke, and uttered a wailing cry.

"Take her to my cabin, Channing," said Reay, without waiting to question
him. "Here! give me the youngster, quick! Sentry, pass the word for the
doctor."

The moment the officers had disappeared a buzz of talk hummed, and
Private Watts was besieged with questions. "Give us a tot, an' I'll
tell ye all about it, afore I'm sent for by the captain," was his prompt
answer; and then swallowing the generous draught provided him, he told
his story in as few words as possible.

A big, bony sergeant slapped him on the shoulder, "Mon, ye'll hae your
stripes for this."

"Ay, that he will," said a hairy-chested boatswain. "Well, it's a
uncommon curious ewent: this 'ere young covey goes a-shootin', and
bags a Frenchman, and the soger officer brings a hangel and a cherrybim
aboard."

*****

The officers of the Triton sat long over their wine that night, and
Lieutenant Channing was the recipient of much merry badinage; but there
was behind it all a sincere feeling of joy that he had escaped such
a treacherous death. Private Watts being sent for, was excused by the
Scotch sergeant, who gravely reported that he was bad in the legs,
whereat the officers laughed, and straightway made up a purse of guineas
for him. Suddenly, as Captain Reay entered, the babble ceased.

"Gentlemen, let Mr. Channing turn in; he wants rest. The lady and her
baby are now sound asleep. She has told me her strange story. To-morrow,
Mr. West, you can take a boat's crew, and bring aboard a large sum
of money concealed in a spot of which I shall give you an exact
description. It belongs to this lady undoubtedly, now that Watts's lucky
shot has settled her ruffianly husband."

*****

Two days after, the frigate had cleared her harbour of refuge, and
was bowling along on her course for Ternate when Captain Reay sent for
Lieutenant Channing to come to his cabin.

"Channing," he said, taking his hand with a smile, "it is my happy lot
to give you what I know will prove a joyful surprise. This lady"--and
he bowed to Mrs. Le Mescam, who was sitting looking at him with a bright
expectancy in her dark eyes--"is your own cousin, Adela Channing. There,
I'll leave you now. She has much to tell you, poor girl; I have decided
to go straight to the Admiral at Singapore instead of touching at
Ternate, and if old Cardew is worth his salt he'll give you leave to
take her to Calcutta."

*****

Of course, Channing and Adela fell in love with each other, and he duly
married the lady, and when they reached England he received the news of
the inheritance that had fallen to him by John Channing's death.

Ex-Sergeant Watts, of the Marines, followed his master when he retired
from the Service, and was for long the especial guardian of the
"cherubim," as Adela Channing's eldest boy had been named by the
_Triton's_ people--until other sons and daughters appeared to claim his
devotion.




PROCTOR THE DRUNKARD

Proctor, the ex-second mate of the island-trading brig _Bandolier_,
crawled out from under the shelter of the overhanging rock where he
had passed the night, and brushing off the thick coating of dust which
covered his clothes from head to foot, walked quickly through the leafy
avenues of Sydney Domain, leading to the city.

Sleeping under a rock in a public park is not a nice thing to do, but
Proctor had been forced to do it for many weeks past. He didn't like it
at first, but soon got used to it. It was better than having to ask
old Mother Jennings for a bed at the dirty lodging-house, and being
refused--with unnecessary remarks upon his financial position. The
Sailors' Home was right enough; he could get a free bed there for the
asking, and some tucker as well. But then at the Home he had to listen
to prayers and religious advice, and he hated both, upon an empty
stomach. No, he thought, the Domain was a lot better; every dirty "Jack
Dog" at the Home knew he had been kicked out of sundry ships before he
piled up the _Bandolier_, and they liked to comment audibly on their
knowledge of the fact while he was eating his dinner among them--it's a
way which A.B.'s have of "rubbing it in" to an officer down on his beam
ends. Drunkard? Yes, of course he was, and everybody knew it. Why, even
that sour-faced old devil of a door-keeper at the Home put a tract on
his bed every evening. Curse him and his "Drunkard, beware!" and every
other rotten tract on intemperance. Well, he had been sober for a week
now--hadn't any money to get drunk with. If he had he certainly would
get drunk, as quickly as he possibly could. Might as well get drunk as
try to get a ship now. Why, every wharf-loafer knew him.

A hot feeling came to his cheeks and stayed there as he walked through
the streets, for he seemed to hear every one laugh and mutter at him as
he passed, "That's the boozy mate of the _Bandolier_. Ran her ashore in
the Islands when he was drunk and drowned most of the hands."

*****

Proctor was twenty-five when he began to drink. He had just been made
master, and his good luck in making such quick passages set him off. Not
that he then drank at sea; it was only when he came on shore and met
so many of the passengers he had carried between Sydney and New Zealand
that he went in for it. Then came a warning from the manager of the
steamship company. That made him a bit careful--and vexed. And ill-luck
made him meet a brother captain that night, and of course they had "a
time" together, and Proctor was driven down in a cab to the ship and
helped up the gangway by a wharfinger and a deck hand. The next morning
he was asked to resign, and from that day his career was damned. From
the command of a crack steamship to that of a tramp collier was a big
come-down; but Proctor was glad to get the collier after a month's
idleness. For nearly a year all went well. He had had a lesson, and did
not drink now, not even on shore. A woman who had stood to him in his
first disgrace had promised to marry him when the year was out, and that
kept him straight. Then one day he received a cold intimation from his
owners that he "had better look out for another ship," his services
were no longer wanted. "Why?" he asked. Well, they said, they would
be candid, they had heard he was a drinking man, and they would run no
risks. Six months of shamefaced and enforced idleness followed; and then
Proctor was partly promised a barque. Another man named Rothesay was
working hard to get her, but Proctor beat him by a hair's breadth. He
made two or three trips to California and back, and then, almost on the
eve of his marriage, met Rothesay, who was now in command of a small
island-trading steamer. Proctor liked Rothesay, and thought him a good
fellow; Rothesay hated Proctor most fervently, hated him because he was
in command of the ship he wanted himself, and hated him because he was
to marry Nell Levison. Proctor did not know this (Nell Levison did), or
he would have either knocked the handsome black-bearded, ever-smiling
Captain Rothesay down, or told him to drink by himself. But he was no
match for Rothesay's cunning, and readily swallowed his enemy's smiling
professions of regard and good wishes for his married happiness. They
drank together again and again, and, at eleven o'clock that night, just
as the theatres were coming out, Rothesay suddenly left him, and Proctor
found himself staggering across the street. A policeman took him to his
hotel, where Proctor sank into a heavy, deadly stupor. He awoke at noon.
Two letters were lying on his table. One, from the owners of his barque,
asked him to call on them at ten o'clock that morning, the other was
from Nell Levison. The latter was short but plain: "I shall never marry
a drunkard. I never wish to see you again. _I saw you last night_." He
dressed and went to the owners' office. The senior partner did not shake
hands, but coldly bade him be seated. And in another minute Proctor
learnt that it was known he had been seen drunk in the street, and that
he could "look for another ship." He went out dazed and stupid.

For three days he kept up his courage, and then wrote to the owners of
the barque and asked them to overlook the matter. He had served them
well, he urged, and surely they would not ruin him for life. And
Rothesay, to whom he showed the letter, said it was one of which no man
need be ashamed. He would take it himself, he added, for he felt he was
in some degree to blame for that fatal night. Take it he did, for he
felt certain that it would not alter the decision of Messrs. Macpherson
& Donald--he knew them too well for that. Then he came back to Proctor
with a gloomy face, and shook his head. The wretched man knew what that
meant, and asked him no questions. Rothesay, sneak and traitor as he
was, felt some shame in his heart when, an hour later, Proctor held out
his hand, thanked him, and bade him good-bye. "I'm clearing out," he
said.

Then for six years Proctor was seen no more in Sydney. He went steadily
to the devil elsewhere--mostly in the South Sea Islands, where he was
dismissed from one vessel after another, first as skipper, then as
mate, then as second mate. One day in a Fiji hotel he met a man--a
stranger--who knew Rothesay well.

"What is he doing now?" asked Proctor.

"Don't know exactly. He's no friend of mine, although I was mate with
him for two years. He married a girl that was engaged to another man--a
poor devil of a chap named Proctor--married her a week after Proctor got
the run from his ship for being drunk. And every one says that it was
Rothesay who made him drunk, as he was mad to get the girl. And I have
no doubt it's true. Rothesay is the two ends and bight of a damned
sneak."

Proctor nodded, but said nothing.

He drank now whenever he could get at liquor, ashore or afloat.
Sometimes he would steal it. Yet somehow he always managed to get
another ship. He knew the islands well, and provided he could be kept
sober there was not a better man to be found in the Pacific labour
trade. And the "trade"--_i.e._, the recruiting of native labourers for
the Fijian and Queensland sugar plantations from among the New Hebrides
and Solomon Groups--was a dangerous pursuit. But Proctor was always a
lucky man. He had come down to a second mate's berth now on the brig
_Bandolier_; but then he was "recruiter" as well, and with big wages,
incurred more risks than any other man on the ship. Perhaps he had grown
careless of his life, which was lonely enough, for though not a morose
man, he never talked with his shipmates. So for two years or more he
cruised in the _Bandolier_ among the woolly-haired, naked cannibals
of the Solomon Group and thereabout, landing at places where no other
recruiter would get out of his boat, and taking a box of trade goods
with him, sit calmly down on the beach surrounded by savages who might
without a moment's warning riddle him with spears or club him from
behind. But Proctor knew no fear, although his armed boat's crew and
the crew of the covering boat would call to him to get aboard again and
shove off. Other labour ships there were cruising on the same ground
who lost men often enough by spear or bullet or poisoned arrow, and went
back to Fiji or Queensland with perhaps not a score of "recruits,"
but Proctor never lost a single man, and always filled the crazy old
_Bandolier_ with a black and savage cargo. Then, once in port again,
his enemy seized him, and for a week at a time he would lie drunk in the
local hells, till the captain sought him out and brought him on board
again. Going back to the recruiting grounds with an empty ship and with
no danger to apprehend from a sudden rush of naked figures, the captain
gave him as much liquor as he wanted, else Proctor would have stolen
it. And one night he was drunk on his watch, ran the _Bandolier_ upon
a reef, and all hands perished but himself and six others. One boat was
saved, and then followed long days of hunger and thirst and bitter agony
upon the sea under a blazing sun, but Proctor brought the boat and
crew safely to the Queensland coast. A month later he was in Sydney
penniless, and again "looking for a ship." But no one would have him
now; his story was too well known.

And so for weeks past he had slept in the park at night, and wandered
down about the wharves during the day. Sometimes he earned a few
shillings, most of which went in cheap rum.

*****

Half an hour's walk through the long shady avenue of Moreton Bay figs,
and then he emerged suddenly into the noise and rattle of the city.
Four coppers was all the money he possessed, and unless he could earn a
shilling or two during the day on the wharves he would have to starve
on the morrow. He stopped outside the _Herald_ office presently, and
pushing his way through a number of half-starved outcasts like himself,
he read down the "Wanted" column of the paper. And suddenly hope sprang
up in his heart as he saw this--

     WANTED, for the Solomon Islands Labour trade, four able
     Seamen used to the work.    High wages to competent men.
     Apply to Harkniss & Co., George Street.

Ten minutes later he was at Harkness & Company's office waiting to see
the manager. Ten o'clock, the clerks said, would be time enough to
come. Proctor said he would wait. He feared that there would be other
applicants, and was determined to see the manager before any one else.
But he need not have been so anxious. Men such as Harkness & Company
wanted were hard to get, and the firm were not disposed to be particular
as to their character or antecedents, so long as they could do the
"work" and hold their tongues afterward. Ten o'clock came, and at
half-past ten Proctor and two other men went out of the office each
with a £1 note in his pocket, and with orders to proceed to Melbourne
by steamer, and there join the barque _Kate Rennie_. Before the steamer
left for Melbourne, Proctor had parted with half of his pound for
another man's discharge. He did not want to be known as Proctor of the
_Bandolier_ if he could help it. So he was now Peter Jensen; and Peter
Jensen, a hard-up Norwegian A.B., was promoted--on paper--to John
Proctor, master. At Melbourne they found the barque ready for sea, and
they were at once taken to the shipping office to meet the captain and
sign articles, and Proctor's heart beat fiercely with a savage joy when
he heard the voice of the man who had stolen Nell Levison from him! So
Rothesay was the captain of the _Kate Rennie!_ And the Solomon Islands
was a good place to pay off one's old scores.

The _Kate Rennie_ sailed the next day. As soon as the tug cast off, the
crew were mustered on the main-deck, and the watches and boats'
crew picked. Peter Jensen, A.B., was standing furthest away when the
captain's eye fell on him.

"What's your name?" he asked, and then in an instant his face paled--he
recognised the man.

Jensen made no answer. His eyes were fixed in a dull stare upon the
features of a little boy of six, who had come up from the cabin and had
caught hold of Rothesay's hand. For Nell Levison's face was before
him again. Then with an effort he withdrew his gaze from the child and
looked down at the deck.

"You can have him, Mr. Williams," said Rothesay curtly to the mate.

From that day till the barque made the Solomon Islands, Rothesay watched
the man he had injured, but Jensen, A.B., gave no sign. He did his work
well, and spoke to no one except when spoken to. And when the boy Allan
Rothesay came on deck and prattled to the crew, Jensen alone took no
notice of him. But whenever he heard the child speak, the memory of the
woman he had lost came back to him, and he longed for his revenge.

One night, as the barque was slipping quietly through the water, and the
misty mountain heights of Bougainville Island showed ghostly grey under
myriad stars, Rothesay came on deck an hour or two before the dawn.
Jensen was at the wheel, and the captain walked aft, seated himself near
him, and lit a cigar. Williams, the mate, was at the break of the poop,
and out of earshot.

Presently Rothesay walked over to the wheel and stood beside the
steersman, glancing first at the compass, and then aloft at the white
swelling canvas. The barque was close-hauled and the course "full and
by."

"Is she coming up at all?" said Rothesay quietly, speaking in a low
voice.

"No, sir," answered Jensen steadily, but looking straight before him;
"she did come up a point or so a little while back, but fell off again;
but the wind keeps pretty steady, sir."

Rothesay stood by him irresolutely, debating within himself. Then he
walked up to the mate.

"Mr. Williams, send another man to the wheel, and tell Jensen to come
below. I want to speak to him about Bougainville; he knows the place
well, I have been told. And as neither you nor I do, I may get something
out of him worth knowing."

"Ay, ay, sir," answered the Welsh mate. "But he's mighty close over it,
anyway. I've hardly heard him open his mouth yet."

A minute or two passed, and Jensen was standing at the cabin-door, cap
in hand.

"Come in," said Rothesay, turning up the cabin lamp, and then he said
quietly, "Sit down, Proctor; I want to talk to you quietly. You see, I
know you."

The seaman stood silent a moment with drooping eyes. "My name is Jensen,
sir," he said sullenly.

"Very well, just as you like. But I sent for you to tell you that I had
not forgotten our former friendship, and--and I want to prove it, if you
will let me."

"Thank you, sir," was the reply, and the man's eyes met Rothesay's for
one second, and Rothesay saw that they burned with a strange, red gleam;
"but you can do nothing for me. I am no longer Proctor, the disgraced
and drunken captain, but Jensen, A.B. And," with sudden fury, "I want to
be left to myself."

"Proctor," and Rothesay rose to his feet, and placed his hands on the
table, "listen to me. You may think that I have treated you badly. My
wife died two years ago, and I----"

Proctor waved his hand impatiently. "Let it pass if you have wronged me.
But, because I got drunk and lost my ship, I don't see how you are to
blame for it."

A look of relief came into Rothesay's face. Surely the man had not heard
whom he had married, and there was nothing to fear after all.

For a minute or so neither spoke, then Proctor picked up his cap.

"Proctor," said Rothesay, with a smile, "take a glass of grog with me
for the sake of old times, won't you!"

"No, thank you, sir," he replied calmly, and then without another word
he walked out of the cabin, and presently Rothesay heard him take the
wheel again from the man who had relieved him.

Two days later the _Kate Rennie_ sailed round the north cape of
Bougainville, and then bore up for a large village on the east coast
named Numa Numa, which Rothesay hoped to make at daylight on the
following morning.

At midnight Jensen came to the wheel again. The night was bright with
the light of shining stars, and the sea, although the breeze was brisk,
was smooth as a mountain lake, only the _rip, ripy rip_ of the barque's
cutwater and the bubbling sounds of her eddying wake broke the silence
of the night. Ten miles away the verdure-clad peaks and spurs of lofty
Bougainville stood clearly out, silhouetted against the sea-rim on the
starboard hand. The wind was fair abeam and the ship as steady as a
church, and Proctor scarce glanced at the compass at all. The course
given to him was W.S.W., which, at the rate the ship was slipping
through the water, would bring her within two miles of the land by the
time he was relieved. Then she would have to go about and make another
"short leg," and, after that, she could lay right up to Numa Numa
village.

Late in the day Rothesay had lowered one of the ship's boats, whose
timbers had opened under the rays of the torrid sun, and was keeping
her towing astern till she became watertight. Presently Proctor heard a
voice calling him.

"Peter, I say, Peter, you got a match?"

Looking astern, he saw that the native who was steering the boat had
hauled her up close up under the stern.

"Yes," he answered, taking a box of matches out of his pocket and
throwing them to the native sailor. "Are you tired of steering that
boat, Tommy?"

"No, not yet; but I wanted to smoke. When four bell strike I come
aboard, Mr. Williams say."

Two bells struck, and then Proctor heard Williams, who was sitting down
at the break of the poop, say, "Hallo, young shaver, what do you want on
deck?"

"Oh, Mr. Williams, it is so hot below, and my father said I could come
on deck. See, I've got my rug and pillow."

"All right, sonny," said the mate good-naturedly; "here, lie down here
on the skylight."

The child lay down and seemed to sleep, but Proctor could see that his
eyes were wide open and watched the stars.

Four bells struck, and Proctor was relieved by a white seaman, and
another native came to relieve the man who was steering the boat, which
was now hauled up under the counter. Just then, as the mate called out,
"Ready about," Proctor touched the child on the arm.

"Allan, would you like to come in the boat with me?"

The boy laughed with delight. "Oh, yes, Peter, I would like it."

Proctor turned to the native who was waiting to relieve the man who was
steering the boat. "You can go for'ard, Jimmy, I'll take the boat for
you."

The native grinned. "All right, Peter, I no like boat," and in another
moment Proctor had passed the child down into the boat, into the arms
of the native sailor whose place he was taking, and quickly followed. As
she drifted astern, the _Kate Rennie_ went about, the towline tautened
out, and a delighted laugh broke from the boy as he sat beside Proctor
and saw the white canvas of the barque looming up before him.

"Hush!" said Proctor, and his hand trembled as he grasped the steer-oar.
Then he drew the child to his bosom and caressed him almost fiercely.

For half an hour the barque slipped along, and Proctor sat and steered
and smoked and watched the child, who now slumbered at his feet. Then
the stars darkened over, a black cloud arose to the eastward, the wind
died away, and the mate's voice hailed him to come alongside, as a heavy
squall was coming on. "And you'll have trouble with the captain for
taking his boy in that boat," added Williams.

"Ay, ay, sir," answered Proctor, as he looked at the cloud to windward,
which was now quickly changing to a dullish grey; and then he sprang
forward and cut the tow-line with his sheath-knife.

Five minutes passed. Then came a cry of agony from the barque, as
Rothesay, who had rushed on deck at Williams's call, placed his hand on
the tow-line and began to haul it in.

"Oh, my God, Williams, the line has parted. Boat ahoy, there, where are
you?"

And then with a droning hum the squall smote the _Kate Rennie_ with
savage fury, and nearly threw her over on her beam ends; and Proctor the
Drunkard slewed the boat round and let her fly before the hissing squall
towards the dimmed outline of Bougainville.

*****

For two days the _Kate Rennie_ cruised off the northern end of
Bougainville, searching for the missing boat. Then Rothesay beat back to
Numa Numa and anchored, and carefully examined the coast with his boats.
But no trace or Proctor nor the child was ever found. Whether the boat
was dashed to pieces upon the reef or had been blown past the north end
of the island and thence out upon that wide expanse of ocean that lies
between the Solomons and New Guinea was never known, and the fete of
Proctor the Drunkard and his innocent victim will for ever remain one
of the many mysteries of the Western Pacific till the sea gives up its
dead.




A PONAPEAN CONVENANCE

"Here also, as at Yap, the youngest wives and sisters of the chiefs
visited the frigate.... Somewhat shocking at first to our feelings as
Christians.... Yet to have declined what was regarded by these simple
and amiable people as the very highest token of their regard for the
officers of the expedition, would have been bitterly resented....
And, after all, our duties to our King and Queen were paramount... the
foundation of friendly relations with the people of this Archipelago!...
The engaging manners and modest demeanour of these native ladies were
most commendable. That this embarrassing custom was practised to do us
especial honour we had ample proof."

*****

Chester, the trader, laid down the book and looked curiously at the
title, "A Journal of the Expedition under Don Felipe Tompson, through
the Caroline Islands." It was in Spanish, and had been lent him by one
of the Jesuit Fathers in Ponapé.

"Ninety years haven't worked much difference in some of the native
customs," thought he to himself. "What a sensation Don Felipe would have
made lecturing at St. James's Hall on these pleasantly curious customs!
I must ask Tulpé about these queer little functions. She's chock-full of
island lore, and perhaps I'll make a book myself some day."

*****

"Huh!" said Tulpe, Chester's native wife, whipping off her muslin gown
and tossing it aside, as she lay back and cooled her heated face and
bared bosom with a fan, "'tis hot, Kesta, and the sun was balanced in
the middle of the sky when we left Jakoits in the boat, and now 'tis all
but night; and wind there was none, so we used not the sail."

"Foolish creature," said Chester, again taking up his book, "and merely
to see this new white missionary woman thou wilt let the sun bake thy
hands and feet black."

Handsome, black-browed Tulpé flashed her white, even teeth as she
smiled.

"Nay, but listen, Kesta. Such a woman as this one never have I seen. Her
skin is white and gleaming as the inside of the pearl-shell. How
comes it, my white man, that such a fair woman as this marrieth so
mean-looking a man? Was she a slave? Were she a woman of Ponapé, and of
good blood, Nanakin the Great would take her to wife."

"Aye," said Chester lazily; "and whence came she and her husband?"

"From Kusaie (Strong's Island), where for two years have they lived, so
that now the woman speaketh our tongue as well as thee."

"Ha!" said the trader quickly; "what are their names?"

She told him, and Chester suddenly felt uncomfortable.

*****

Two years before, when spending a few idle months in Honolulu, he had
met that white woman. She was waiting to be married to the Rev. Obadiah
Yowlman, a hard-faced, earnest-minded, little Yankee missionary, who was
coming up from the Carolines in the _Planet_. There had been some rather
heavy love-passages between her and Chester. He preserved his mental
equilibrium--she lost hers. The passionate outburst of the "little she
missionary," as he called her when he bade her goodbye, he regarded
as the natural and consistent corollary of moonlit nights beneath the
waving palms on white Hawaiian beaches. When he returned to Ponapé he
simply forgot all about her--and Tulpé never asked him inconsiderate
questions about other women whom he might have met during the six months
he was away from her. He had come back--that was all she cared for.

*****

"I wonder how Tulpe would take it if she knew?" he thought. "She might
turn out a bit of a tiger."

"What are thy thoughts, Kesta?" And Tulpé came over to him and leant
upon his shoulder. "Is it in thy mind to see and talk with the new
missionary and his wife?"

"No," said Chester promptly; "sit thou here, wood-pigeon, and tell me of
the customs I read of here."

She sat down beside him, and leant her dark head against his knee,
fanning herself the while she answered his questions.

*****

"As it was then, Kesta, so is it now. And if it were to advantage thee I
should do likewise. For is it not the duty of a woman to let all men see
how great is her love for her husband? And if a great chief or king of
thy land came here, would I not obey thee?"

Chester laughed. "No great chiefs of my land come here--only
ship-captains and missionaries."

She turned and looked up into his face silently for a few moments, then
rose.

"I know thy meaning now. But surely this mean-faced missionary is not
to be compared to thee! Kesta, 'tis the fair-faced woman that is in thy
mind. Be it as you will. Yet I knew not that the customs of thy land
were like unto ours."

"What the devil is she driving at!" thought Chester, utterly failing to
grasp her meaning.

Early next morning Tulpe was gone.

****

"Deny it not, white woman. If thou dost not love my husband, how came
it that yesterday thou asked his name of me? See now, I deal fairly with
thee. For three days will I stay _here_ although thy husband is but as
a hog in my eyes, for he is poor and mean-looking, while mine is----,
well, thou shalt see him; and for three days shalt thou stay in _my_
house with my husband. So get thee away, then--the boat waits."

Pretty Mrs. Yowlman fled to her room and, wondering whether Chester
knew, began to cry, while Tulpé sat down, and, rolling a cigarette,
resignedly awaited the appearance of the Rev, Obadiah Yowlman.

An hour afterwards the Rev. gentleman came in with Chester, who had
walked across the island on discovering Tulpé's absence.

"No, thank you," he said to the missionary; "I won't stay now.... Some
other time I will do myself the pleasure of calling upon Mrs. Yowlman,
and yourself... You must excuse my wife having called upon you twice.
She is deeply imbued with the native customs and observances, and
I--er--sincerely trust she has given no offence."

Then took he Tulpé's hand and led her, wondering, back to his home. And
Tulpé thought he and the white woman were both fools.




IN THE KING'S SERVICE, SOME EPISODES IN THE LIFE OF A BEACH-COMBER




I.

The white cloud mantle that had enwrapped the wooded summit of Lijibal
was slowly lifting and fading before the red arrow-rays of the tropic
sun--it was nearly dawn in Lêla Harbour. A vast swarm of sooty terns,
with flapping wing and sharp, croaking note, slid out from the mountain
forest and fled seaward, and low down upon the land-locked depths of
Lela a soft mist still hovered, so that, were it not for the deadened
throbbing beat and lapping murmur of the flowing tide, one might have
thought, as he looked across from land to land, that the high green
walls of verdure in whose bosom the waters of Lela lay encompassed were
but the portals to some deep and shadowy mountain valley in a land of
utter silence, untenanted by man.

But as the blood-redness of the sun paled and paled, and then changed
into burnished gold, the topmost branches of the dew-laden trees
quivered and trembled, and then swayed softly to the sea-breeze; the
fleecy vapours that hid the waters of the harbour vanished, and the dark
bases of the mountains stood out in purest green. Away out seawards,
towards the hiss and boil of the tumbling surf, tiny strips of gleaming
sandy beach showed out in every nook and bay. And soon the yellow
sunlight flashed through the gloomy shadows of the forest, the sleeping
pigeons and the green and scarlet-hued parrakeets awoke to life amid the
sheltering boughs, and the soft, crooning note of one was answered back
by the sharp scream of the other. Along the mountain sides there was a
hurried rustling and trampling among the thick carpet of fallen leaves,
and a wild boar burst his way through the undergrowth to bury in his
lair till night came again; for almost with the first call of the birds
sounded the hum and murmur of voices, and the brown people of Léla
stepped out from their houses of thatch, and greeted each other as they
hurried seaward for their morning bathe--the men among the swirl and
wash of the breaking surf, and the women and children along the sandy
beach in front of the village.

Out upon the point of black and jagged reef that stretched northward
from the entrance to the harbour was the figure of a young boy who
bathed by himself. He was the son of the one white man on Strong's
Island, whose isolated dwelling lay almost within hail of him.

The father of the boy was one of those mysterious wanderers who, in the
days of sixty years or so ago, were common enough on many of the islands
of the North Pacific. Without any material means, save a bag of silver
dollars, he had, accompanied by his son, landed at Lêla Harbour on
Strong's Island from a passing ship, and Charlik, the king of the
island, although at first resenting the intrusion of a poor white man
among his people, had consented to let him remain on being told by the
captain of the ship that the stranger was a skilful cooper, and could
also build a boat. It so happened that many of the casks in which the
king stored his coconut-oil were leaking, and no one on the island could
repair them; and the white man soon gave the native king proof of his
craft by producing from his bag some of a cooper's tools, and going
into the great oil shed that was close by. Here, with some hundreds
of natives watching him keenly, he worked for half an hour, while his
half-caste son sat upon the beach utterly unnoticed by any one, and
regarded with unfavourable looks by the island children, from the mere
fact of their having learned that his mother had been a native of a
strange island--that to them was sufficient cause for suspicion, if not
hostility.

Presently the king himself, attended by his mother, came to the oil
shed, looked in, and called out to the white man to cease his work.

"Look you, white man," he said in English. "You can stop. Mend and make
my casks for me, and some day build me a boat; but send away the son of
the woman from the south lands. We of Kusaie (Strong's Island) will have
no strangers here."

The white man's answer was quick and to the point. He would not send
his child away; either the boy remained with him on shore or they both
returned to the ship and sought out some other island.

"Good," said Charlik with cold assent, and turning to his people he
commanded them to provide a house for the white man and his boy, and
bring them food and mats for their immediate necessities.

*****

An hour or two afterwards, as the ship that had landed him at Lêla
sailed slowly past the white line of surf which fringed the northern
side of the island, the captain, looking shoreward from his deck, saw
the white man and his boy walking along the beach towards a lonely
native house on the farthest point. Behind them followed a number of
half-nude natives, carrying mats and baskets of food. Only once did the
man turn his face towards the ship, and the captain and mate, catching
his glance, waved their hands to him in mute farewell. A quick upward
and outward motion of his hand was the only response to their signal,
and then he walked steadily along without looking seaward again.

"Queer fellow that, Matthews," said the captain to his mate. "I wonder
how the deuce he got to the Bonins and where he came from. He's not a
runaway convict, anyway--you can see that by the look in his eye. Seems
a decent, quiet sort of a man, too. What d'ye think he is yourself?"

"Runaway man-o'war's man," said Matthews, looking up aloft. "What the
devil would he come aboard us at night-time in a fairly civilised place
like the Bonin Islands as soon as he heard that the _Juno_, frigate, was
lying at anchor ten miles away from us there. And, besides that, you can
see he's a sailor, although he didn't want to show it."

"Aye," said the captain, "likely enough that's what he is. Perhaps he's
one of the seven that ran away from Sir Thomas Staine's ship in the
South Pacific some years ago."

And Mr. Matthews, the mate of the barque _Oliver Cromwell_ was perfectly
correct in his surmise, for the strange white man who had stolen aboard
the ship so quietly in the Bonin Islands was a deserter from his Majesty
William IV.'s ship _Tagus_. For nearly seven years he had wandered from
one island to another, haunted by the fear of recapture and death since
the day when, in a mad fit of passion, he had, while ashore with a
watering party, driven his cutlass through the body of a brutal petty
officer who had threatened, for some trifling dereliction of duty, to
get him "a couple of dozen."

Horror-stricken at the result of his deadly blow, he had fled into the
dense jungle of the island, and here for many days the wretched man
lived in hiding till he was found by a party of natives, who fed and
brought him back to life, for he was all but dead from hunger and
exposure. For nearly a year he lived among these people, adapting
himself to their mode of life, and gaining a certain amount of respect;
for in addition to being a naturally hard-working man, he had no taste
for the gross looseness of life that characterised nine out of every
ten white men who in those days lived among the wild people of the North
Pacific Islands.

Two years passed by. Brandon--for that was his name--realised in all its
bitterness that he could never return to England again, as recognition
and capture, dared he ever show himself there, would be almost certain:
for, in addition to his great stature and marked physiognomy, he was
fatally marked for identification by a great scar received in honourable
fight from the cutlass of the captain of a Portuguese slaver on the
coast of Africa. And so, in sheer despair of his future, he resolved
to cast aside for ever all hope of again seeing his native land and all
that was dear to him, and live out his life among the lonely islands of
the wide Pacific.

Perhaps, as he looked out, at long, long intervals of years, at the
sails of some ship that passed within sight of the island, he may have
thought of the bright-faced girl in the little Cornish village who had
promised to be his wife when he came home again in the _Tagus_; but in
his rude, honest way he would only sigh and say to himself--

"Poor Rose, she's forgotten me by now; I hope so, anyhow."

So time went by, slowly at first, then quicker, for the young native
woman whom he had married a year before had aroused in him a sort of
unspoken affection for her artless and childlike innocence, and this
deepened when her first child was born; and sometimes, as he worked
at his old trade of boat-building--learned before he joined the King's
service--he would feel almost content.

As yet no fear of a King's ship had crossed his mind. In those days ten
years would go by, and save for some passing merchantman bound to China
by the Outer Route, which would sweep past miles away before the strong
trade wind, no ship had he seen. And here, on this forgotten island, he
might have lived and died, but that one day a sandal-wooding brigantine
was becalmed about four miles away from the island, and Brandon
determined to board her, and endeavour to obtain a few tools and other
necessaries from her captain.

With half-a-dozen of his most trusted native friends he stepped into
a canoe, and reached the brigantine just as night began to fall. The
master of the vessel received him kindly enough, and gave him the few
articles he desired, and then, suddenly turning to him, said--

"I want another man; will you come? I'm bound to Singapore with
sandal-wood."

"No, thank you, sir. I can't leave here. I've got a wife and child."

The seaman laughed with good-humoured contempt, and sought to persuade
him to come, but Brandon only shook his head solemnly. "I can't do that,
sir. These here people has treated me well, and I can't play them a
dirty trick like that."

After some little bargaining the natives who had come with Brandon
agreed to return to the shore and bring off some turtle to the ship. It
was still a dead calm, and likely to continue so all night, and Brandon,
shaking the captain's hand, got into the canoe and headed for the
island.

As they ran the bow of the canoe upon the beach Brandon called loudly to
his wife to come out of the house and see what he had brought from the
ship, and was instantly struck with alarm at hearing no answer to his
call. Running quickly over the few hundred yards that separated his
house from the beach, he lifted up the door of thatch and saw that the
house was empty--his wife and child were gone.

In a moment the whole village was awake, and, carrying lighted torches,
parties of men and women ran along the path to seek the missing woman,
but sought in vain. The island was small and had but one village, and
Brandon, puzzled at his wife's mysterious disappearance, was about
to lead another party himself in another direction to that previously
taken, when a woman who lived at a house at the extreme end of the
village, suddenly remembered that she had seen Brandon's wife, carrying
her child in her arms, walking quickly by in the direction of a point of
land that ran far out from the shore on the lee side of the island.

In an instant he surmised that, fearing he might go away in the ship,
she had determined to swim out to him. The moment he voiced his thought
to the natives around him, the men darted back to the beach, and several
canoes were at once launched, and in the first was Brandon.

There were four canoes in all, and as that of the white man gained the
open sea, the crew urged him not to steer directly for the brigantine,
"for," said they, "the current is so strong that Mâhia, thy wife, who is
but a poor swimmer and knows not its strength, hath been swept round far
beyond the point--and, besides, she hath the child."

For nearly half an hour the canoes paddled out swiftly, but noiselessly,
the men calling out loudly at brief intervals, and every now and then
Brandon himself would call.

"Mâhia! Mâhia! Call to us so that we may find thee!"

But no answer came back over the dark waters. At last the four canoes
approached each other, and the natives and Brandon had a hurried
consultation.

"Paranta," said the steersman of the nearest canoe, "let us to the ship.
It may be that she is there."

The man who sat next to the speaker muttered in low tones, "How can that
be, Kariri? Either the child hath wearied her arm and she hath sunk,
or--the sharks."

Plunging his paddle deeply into the water, Brandon, brought the head
of the canoe round for the ship, the faint outlines of whose canvas was
just showing ghostly white half a mile away through the thin morning
haze which mantled the still unruffled surface of the ocean.

Urged swiftly along by the six men who paddled, the white man's canoe
was soon within hailing distance of the brigantine, and at the same
moment the first puff of the coming breeze stirred and then quickly
lifted the misty veil which encompassed her.

"Ship ahoy!" hailed Brandon. "Did a woman and child swim off to you
during the night?"

Almost ere the answering "No" was given, there was a loud cry from one
of the other canoes which had approached the vessel on the other side,
and the "No" from the brigantine was changed into--

"Yes, she's here; close to on the port side. Look sharp, she's sinking,"
and then came the sound of tackle as the crew lowered a boat that hung
on the ship's quarter.

With a low, excited cry the crew of Brandon's canoe struck their bright
red paddles into the water with lightning strokes, and the little craft
swept swiftly round the stern of the brigantine before the just lowered
boat had way on her.

There, scarce a hundred yards away, they saw Mâhia swimming slowly
and painfully along towards the ship, to the man whom she thought had
deserted her. With one arm she supported the tiny figure of the child,
and Brandon, with a wild fear in his heart, saw that she was too
exhausted to hold it many seconds longer.

"Quick! Quick, man, for the love of God!" came in loud, hoarse tones
from the captain of the brigantine, who stood on the rail holding to
the main rigging, and drawing a pistol from his belt he sent its bullet
within a few feet of the feeble swimmer.

Only another ten yards, when, as if aware of the awful fate that awaited
her, Mâhia half raised herself, and with dying strength held the child
out almost clear of the water. And then, as her panting bosom wailed out
her husband's name for the last time, there pealed out upon the ocean a
shriek of mortal agony, and he saw her drop the infant and disappear
in a swirl of eddying foam. Ere that awful cry had ceased to vibrate
through the morning air, a native had sprung from the canoe and seized
the drowning child, and the agonised father, looking down into the blue
depths, saw a running streak of bubbling white five fathoms beneath.
Again the native dived, and followed the wavering track of white, and
presently, not fifty feet away, they saw him rise with the woman on his
arm, her long black hair twining around his brawny neck and shoulders.

"By God, he's saved her!" cried the mate, as both his boat and Brandon's
canoe reached the native simultaneously, and they reached out their
hands to take hold of the motionless figure.

"Paranta, turn thy eyes away," said a native, and flinging his arms
around the white man, he forced his face away as the diver and his
burden were lifted into the boat.

A shuddering sob stirred the frame of the mate or the brigantine when he
saw that only the upper half of the woman's body was left.




II.

With the captain of the sandal-wooder, the broken-hearted wanderer, had
taken passage, and one day, as he watched the movements of his child as
it frolicked with the rough seamen of the brigantine, the haunting
fear of discovery returned to him in all its first force of three years
before. A kindly remark made by the rough but good-natured skipper led
him to reveal his story, and the seaman's face fell when the deserter
asked him if he thought it possible he could ever return to England with
safety.

"No, I don't. You _might_ but I can tell you that a man with a figure
like you--6 ft. 1 in. if you're an inch, and with a cut across the
face--wouldn't miss being found out. And look here, 'tisn't even safe
for you to come to Singapore. There's many a King's ship around these
parts, and the chances are that some of the company of any one of 'em
would recognise you--and you know what that means. If I were in your
place I would try and get away in an American whaler. Once in America
you'll be safe enough. The best I can do for you is to put you ashore
at the Bonin Islands. There's bound to be whalers in there next season,
making up northwards to the coast of Japan and Tchantar Bay."

One day they sailed slowly into a little land-locked harbour in the
Bonin Islands, and Brandon, grasping the kind-hearted skipper's hand,
bade him goodbye, and went ashore. Here, among the strange hybrid
population of natives, half-bloods, runaways from whale-ships, and
Portuguese, he found employment at boat-building, and for another three
years lived contentedly enough, working hard, and saving what little
money he could. Then came the _Oliver Cromwell_ and reported that an
English frigate which was at anchor a few miles away at another harbour
would be at his then refuge on the following day.

Without saying a word of farewell to his rough and wild associates,
he had taken his bag of honestly-earned money, and going on board the
barque at night, besought the master to give him and the boy a passage
away to any island in the Caroline or Marshall Groups at which the
vessel could conveniently land them.

At noon next morning the barque was under way, and as she rounded the
point the lofty spars of the frigate showed up scarce a mile distant,
and Brandon, with a pistol in the bosom of his shirt, sat and trembled
till the _Oliver Cromwell_ was well away from her, and the frigate's
white sails had become hull down.

For week after week the barque sailed past many a palm-shaded isle, with
its belt of gleaming beach within the fringe of beating surf, and the
brown people came out from their dwellings of thatch and shouted and
bawled to the men on the passing ship; but at none of these would the
captain land the deserter, for the natives were reputed to be savage and
treacherous to the last degree.

At last the green peaks of Kusaie which shadowed the deep waters of Lêla
Harbour were sighted; and here once more the wandering man sought to
hide himself from the world.




III.

The sun was high now, and the boy Harry, now a strong,
sturdy-limbed youngster of seven, as he splashed about, called loudly to
his father to come and bathe too.

"Come, father," he called. "See, the sun is between the big and little
peaks, and to-day it is that you and I go to Utwé in the new boat."

At the sound of the boy's voice Brandon came to the door of his hut, and
stroking his bearded chin, smiled and shook his head.

"Aye, aye, Harry. Come in, boy, and eat something, and then let us away
to the king's boat-shed. To-day the people of Utwé shall see the new
boat, and Charlik goes with us."

"Father," asked the boy, as he ate his food, "when shall we go away from
this place? Kanka, the priest, said to me yesterday that by and by the
king would build us a new house in the village--when you had finished
another boat."

Brandon shook his head. He had found Charlik a hard master during the
time he had lived on the island; for although both he and the boy were
well treated in some respects, the savage and avaricious chief kept him
constantly at work, and Brandon was beginning to weary of his existence.

Just as the trade wind began to whiten the tops of the long, sweeping
ocean rollers, the new boat built by the king's white man slid out from
the wooded shores of Lêla, and, under a great mat sail, sped down the
coast towards the native village called Utwé.

Seated beside Brandon was the grim-faced Charlik, who was in high good
humour at the speed shown by the boat, and promised to build him a new
house within a few weeks. For nearly two hours the boat spun southward
along the line of thundering breakers on the eastern shore, till Brandon
hauled to the wind and ran inside the narrow passage to Utwé Harbour.
And there, right before them, lay at anchor the very frigate he had so
narrowly escaped at the Bonins!

Before the astonished king could prevent him the deserter had run the
boat ashore on a shelving patch of reef, and seizing his boy in his
arms, sprang out and made for the shore.

He would escape yet, he thought, as he sprang from ledge to ledge of
coral rock, until he gained the beach. In the thick forest jungle he
would at least be safe from pursuit by the ship's people.

Taking the boy by the hand, he set out at a run past the line of native
houses which dotted the beach, and to all inquiries as to his haste
he made no answer. Suddenly, as he turned into a path that led
mountain-wards, he found his way blocked by an officer and a party of
blue-jackets.

"Halt!" cried the officer, covering him with a fowling-piece. "Who are
you, and why are you running like this?"

"That is my business, sir," he said. Then the officer sprang at him.

"Surrender, you villain! I know you--you are one of the men we want."

He turned like lightning, and, with the boy in his arms, sped back
again towards the beach in the hope of getting a canoe and gaining the
opposite shore of the island. But his pursuers were gaining on him fast,
and when the beach was reached at last he turned and faced them, for
every canoe was gone.

The officer motioned to his men to stand back.

"Brandon, there is no chance for you. Do not add another crime to that
which you have already committed."

"No, sir; no. I shall do no more harm to any one in the King's service,
but I will never be taken alive."

He pressed the muzzle of his pistol to his heart, pulled the trigger,
and fell dead at their feet.




OXLEY, THE PRIVATEERSMAN




I.

All day long the _Indiana_, Tom de Wolfs island trading brig, had tried
to make Tucopia Island, an isolated spot between Vanikoro and the New
Hebrides, but the strong westerly current was too much for her with such
a failing breeze; and Packenham, the skipper, had agreed with Denison,
his supercargo, to let Tucopia "slide" till the brig was coming south
again from the Marshalls.

"Poor old Oxley won't like seeing us keep away," said Denison. "I
promised him that we would be sure to give him a call this time on our
way up. Poor old chap! I wish we could send him a case of grog ashore to
cheer him up. But a thirty miles' pull dead to windward and against
such a current is rather too much of a job even for a boat's crew of
natives."

But about midnight the breeze freshened from the eastward, and by
daylight the smooth, shapely cone of the green little island stood
up clear and sharply defined from its surrounding narrow belt of
palm-covered shore in a sunlit sea of sparkling blue, and Denison told
the captain to get the boat ready.

"Ten miles or so isn't much--we can sail there and back in the boat."

Tucopia was a long way out of the _Indiana's_, usual cruising ground;
but a year or so before a French barque had gone ashore there, and
Denison had bought the wreck from her captain on behalf of Mr. Tom De
Wolf. And as he had no white man on board to spare, he had handed his
purchase over to the care of Oxley, the one European on the island.

"Strip her, Jack, and then set a light to her hull--there's a lot of
good metal bolts in it. You shall have half of whatever we get out of
the sale of her gear."

And so old Jack Oxley, who had settled on Tucopia because forty-five
years before he had married a Tucopian girl, when he was a wandering
boat-steerer in the colonial whaling fleet, and was now too shaky to go
to sea, shook Denison's hand gratefully, and was well satisfied at the
prospect of making a few hundred pounds so easily.

A quiet, blue-eyed, white-haired, stooping old man with a soft voice and
pleasant smile, he had bade Denison goodbye and said with his tremulous
laugh, "Don't be surprised if when you come back you find my old hull
has broken up before that of the wreck. Eighty-seven is a good age, Mr.
Denison. However, I'll take things easy. I'll let some of my boys" (his
"boys" were sons of over forty years of age) "do all the bullocking{*}
part of the work."

     * A colonial expression denoting heavy labour--i.e., to work
     like bullocks in a team.

*****

When Denison reached the landing-place he was met by a number of the old
whaler's whitey-brown descendants, who told him that Jack was dead--had
died three months ago, they said. And there was a letter for the
supercargo and captain, they added, which the old man had written when
he knew he was dying. Denison took the letter and read it at once.

     "Dear Mr. Denison,--Tom and Sam will give you all
     particulars about the gear and metal from the wreck.... You
     asked me one day if I would write you something about the
     privateer I sailed in, and some of the fights in which I was
     engaged. You and Captain Packenham might like to read it
     some day when time hangs heavy. Sam will give you the
     yarn.... Goodbye. I fear we shall not meet again.--Yours
     very truly, John Oxley."

A few days later, as the _Indiana_ was sailing northward from Tucopia,
Denison took out old Oxley's yarn. It was written in a round schoolboy
hand on the blank pages of a venerable account-book.

*****

"Old as I am now I have never forgotten the exultant feeling that filled
my bosom one dull gray morning in February, 1805, when I, John Oxley,
put my weak hands to the capstan bars to help weigh anchor on board the
_Port-au-Prince_ at Gravesend, and the strange, wild thrill that tingled
my boyish blood at the rough, merry chorus of the seamen while the
anchor came underfoot and the hands sprang aloft to make sail. For I
was country-born and country-bred, and though even in our little town of
Aylesbury, where my father was a farmer, we were used to hearing tales
of the sea and to the sight of those who had fought the king's battles
by land and sea, I had never until that morning caught sight of the
ocean.

"Two weeks before I, foolish lad that I was, had been enticed by two
village comrades into a poaching venture, and although I took no actual
part therein--being only stationed as a watch on the outskirts of
Colstone Wood--I was seized by two of Sir John Latham's keepers and
taken away to the county gaol. I will not here attempt to describe the
days of misery and shame that followed, and the grief and anguish of my
parents; for although Sir John and the other county magistrates before
whom I was brought believed my tale when I weepingly told them that I
had no intention of poaching (and, indeed, I did not actually know that
my two companions were bent upon so dangerous an enterprise) and my
punishment was but light, yet the disgrace was too much for me to bear.
So ere the sting of the whipping I received had died away I had made up
my mind to run away to London and get some honest employment, and trust
to time for my father's forgiveness. My sister Judith--Heaven bless her
loving heart--to whom alone I made known my purpose, sought with tender
words and endearing caresses to overcome my resolution; but, finding her
pleading was of no avail, she made heart to dry her tears, and, giving
me half a guinea, which a month before had been given to her by Lady
Latham, she folded me in her arms, and, kissing me a last goodbye, as I
stood with her at midnight behind my father's barn, bade me God speed.

"'Goodbye, John,' she whispered, ''twill surely break mother's heart, I
fear, when she knows you have gone.'

"So, whispering back a promise that I would find some one in London
to write to her for me and tell her how I fared, I gently took poor
Judith's loving arms from around my neck, and ran as hard as I could
across the field into the high road; for every moment my courage was
failing me, and when I reached a hedge and lay down to rest awhile, my
mother's face rose before me, and I thought I heard her tender voice
crying, 'My boy, my boy! Has he gone without a last kiss from me?' Twice
did I rise up with tears running down my cheeks and resolve to go back
and at least receive her farewell kiss and blessing, but my boyish pride
came to my aid, and with a choking sob I lay down again and waited for
the morning.

"It took me some days to reach London, for it is a long journey from
Aylesbury, and then for nearly a week I endured much hardship and
misery, for my starved and dejected appearance was such that no
one would give me employment of any sort, and my half-guinea became
exhausted in buying food. But weak and wretched as I was, my courage to
go on in the course I had taken was still unshaken; and, although it
was a bitter winter, and I all but perished with the cold, I managed to
always obtain some sort of shelter at night-time.

"I do not know, even now, in what part of London those my first
wanderings led me; but at last, one morning, weak, footsore, and faint
from hunger I came in sight of the shipping on the Thames, and for the
moment forgot my woes in the strangeness of the sight. Seating myself
on a great log of mahogany that some strange-looking, black-whiskered
seaman had just rolled up from a ship lying in the dock, I remained
gazing in a sort of dulled amazement at the bustle and, to my mind,
confusion that seemed to prevail around me.

"For nearly half an hour I remained thus watching the hurrying to and
fro of those about me; for there was an Indiaman just about to leave the
dock, and many hundreds of people had come down to bid farewell to those
on board, among whom were about a hundred or so of soldiers. Hungry and
weary as I felt, the sight of these soldiers, and the inspiriting sounds
of drum and fife music played upon the quarter-deck of the Indiaman,
made me stand upon the log so that I might obtain a better view. Just
then I heard a voice beside me exclaim--

"'Well, my lad, I suppose you would like to be one of them, with a red
coat on your back and a musket on your shoulder, eh?'

"The suddenness of the address nearly caused me to fall off the log,
and the speaker put out his hand to save me. He was an old, white-haired
gentleman of between sixty and seventy, and kindness and benevolence
seemed to irradiate his countenance.

"'Indeed, sir, I should,' I answered as I slipped down off the log and
made him a bow, as was my duty to such a gentleman, and trying to speak
bravely, 'I should like to be a soldier, sir.'

"He looked at me for a moment, and then put his hand on my shoulder.

"'Who are you, my lad, and how came you-down among the docks? You are
a country lad, I can see. Have you been dishonest, or done anything
wrong?'

"There was so much kindliness in his tones as he asked me this that I
could not tell him naught but the whole truth, and although his face was
very grave at the finish, his kind manner did not change, as putting
his hand in his pocket he pulled out his purse and gave me a guinea and
urged me to return to my parents.

"'Nay, sir,' I said, and I began to cry as I spoke, 'I cannot return
home, and with your pardon, sir, neither can I take this money,' and
then my courage returning somewhat, I added; 'but I would like to get
honest work, sir.'

"'Come with me, then,' said he, 'and I will see what can be done. But
first you must have some food.'

"With that he bade me follow him, and in a few minutes we were opposite
a coffee-house frequented by people engaged at the docks. Pushing me in
front of him, he told the landlord of the place to give me all the food
I could eat, and said he would return for me in the evening.

"'Certainly, Mr. Bent,' said the landlord, who, by the way he bowed and
scraped, seemed to be much impressed by the condescension of the old
gentleman in entering such a humble place, and then, bowing my kind
friend out, he took me to a table and bade a young woman attendant give
me a good meal.

"'You are in luck, my lad,' he said to me, 'for that is Mr. Robert Bent,
one of the richest gentlemen in London, and a great shipowner.'

"I remained at the coffee-house all day, and in the evening a hackney
coach drove up, and the old gentleman, accompanied by a younger man
of very commanding presence, came into the room where I was seated
anxiously awaiting him.

"'Well, my lad,' said he, 'here you are. Now, I must tell you that I
know Sir John Latham well, and, indeed, have just left him, for he is
now in London. He has confirmed your story to me, and says that your
father is a good, honest man, who, although he loves you very much,
would rather that you did not return to Aylesbury with the memory of
your disgrace still fresh in his mind. So this is what I now offer you.
This gentleman here is Captain Duck, the master of a ship of mine which
is leaving Gravesend in a day or two for the South Seas. He is willing
to take you with him and try to make a man and a seaman of you. What do
you say to it?'

"What else could I say but thank him warmly for his kindness, and
promise I would try hard to do my duty and win my father's forgiveness?

"'Very good,' said he; 'and now I will leave you in the care of Captain
Duck. He will buy you all that is necessary for the voyage, and I
shall write to your father by Sir John Latham and tell him you are well
bestowed with my good friend here. So goodbye, my lad, and do your duty
like a man.'

"Then he shook my hand, and turning to his companion said--

"'Goodbye, Duck. Remember that whales as well as prizes must be sought
after you double Cape Horn, and that I rely upon your good judgment
not to engage an enemy's ship if you think she is better armed than the
_Port-au-Prince_. But if you meet my other ship, the _Lucy_, and with
her can take away some rich prizes from the Spaniards--why, well and
good. I should be very pleased if you send me a prize home before you go
into the Pacific.'

"So away he went in the coach, and in half an hour more, with my heart
bounding with excitement, I set out with Captain Duck to join the
_Port-au-Prince_, lying at Gravesend."




II.

"For the first week or so I was very sea-sick and unable to leave my
hammock, but after that I began to recover. Captain Duck, who was a most
humane and considerate gentleman, sent frequent inquiries after me, and
told the officers that I was to be allowed plenty of time to gain my
strength. These inquiries were always made by a lad who was under the
captain's immediate protection. His name was William Mariner, and being
of an adventurous disposition he had gained his parents' consent to make
the voyage. Of all those that sailed with us he and I only survived to
reach England and tell the story of that fateful venture, and I have
heard that Mr. Mariner wrote a book giving an account of the awful
calamity that befel our ship, but that few people credited the strange
story of his adventures.{*}

     * This was "Mariner's Tonga Islands," published by John
     Murray, Albemarle Street, London, in 1818. Seventeen of the
     privateer's crew escaped the massacre.

"Before going any further I will tell in a few words the nature of
our mission to such far-off seas. The _Port-au-Prince_ had a double
commission. She was what was termed a private ship-of-war, or privateer,
and England being then at war with Spain, she had been fitted out to
cruise within certain latitudes in the Atlantic for prizes. If not very
successful she was to double Cape Horn and proceed to the South Seas in
search of whales, unless she met the _Lucy_, when they were to try the
coast of South America for prizes. She was very well armed, and her crew
were all men who had seen much service in the king's ships; many of them
were old South-Seamen, expert in the whale-fishery. There was, besides
Captain Duck, a regular whaling-master, William Brown. This gentleman
was of a very quarrelsome temper, and long before we were out of the
Channel began to show it, greatly to our misery. Captain Duck, on the
other hand, was always very good to the men. He was a brave and gallant
seaman, very stern and exacting when duty demanded it, but always full
of good feeling and humanity to those under his command. He had formerly
commanded a privateer in the Mediterranean, and had taken many rich
prizes, and his owner, who thought very highly of him, had fitted out
the _Port-au-Prince_, specially for him to command.

"In about a month I was looked upon as being quite a smart boy, and
Captain Duck would often smile encouragingly at me, and to show his
appreciation of my good conduct permitted young Mr. Mariner, who was
a brave and handsome lad, to bring me into his cabin occasionally, and
instruct me in reading and writing.

"We had a very stormy passage to the River Plate, where we began to look
out for prizes, but without success; so, after waiting off the coast
many weeks, and seeing nothing but two large ships of war, which were
too heavily armed for us to engage, we stood southward to double Cape
Horn. This was accomplished on the 18th of June, and three days later we
sailed northward into the Pacific.

"Ten days after doubling the Cape we fell in with a South Sea whaler--I
think her name was the _Vincent_, Captain Patrick Joy--and on that day
there came about a collision between Captain Duck and Mr. Brown, the
whaling-master. 'Twas this quarrel, arising out of the obstinacy and
pride of Mr. Brown, which caused our future dreadful disaster, as will
be seen later on. The _Vincent_ signalled that she wanted us to send
a boat; and highly pleased I was when young Mr. Mariner spoke to the
gunner and asked leave for me to go in the boat with himself and Captain
Duck. As soon as we got on board our captain was taken below by the
master of the ship, but only remained a few minutes. When he returned
on deck he seemed much pleased, and, ordering us back into the boat,
was just about to descend himself when a harpooner belonging to the
_Vincent_ begged permission to speak to him.

"'Why, Turner, is it you, indeed?' and Captain Duck shook the man's hand
warmly, and asked him how he had fared since he had last seen him.

"'Well, sir, I thank you,' answered the harpooner; 'but will you have me
on board your ship, sir? You know me well, sir, and Captain Joy says he
is willing to let me go and serve under my old captain again. Indeed,
sir,' he added, 'I have it set in my mind that I shall again have the
honour to board some more Spanish prizes with you; and I would rather
kill a murdering Spaniard or Portugal than a honest whale. I am with
you, sir, heart and soul, and will be proud to serve under you again;
and Captain Joy won't stand in my way.'

"This being corroborated by Mr. Joy, Captain Duck told the man to put
his things into the boat, and in a few minutes we were rowing back to
the _Port-au-Prince_. Presently I heard our captain telling young Mr.
Mariner that he had heard from Captain Joy that there were two Spanish
ships lying at Conception, and he had resolved to go thither and cut
them out--especially as one had thirty-three thousand dollars on board.
As soon as we were on board, the harpooner from the _Vincent_ told us
that the news about the two ships was correct, and that we would have no
trouble in cutting them out; for he knew the place well, and there were
no guns mounted there. He also told us something about himself, which I
here set down as showing his adventurous nature.

"Five years before he had sailed from London in a South Seaman, the
_Sweet Dolly_, which had made a very successful voyage, for the ship
was filled with whale oil in less than a year. The _Sweet Dolly_, on her
return to England, fell in with the _Vincent_, and Turner, giving her
captain instructions to pay certain money to his sweetheart, who
lived in Bristol, shipped on board the _Vincent_. She, too, was
very successful, and was going home a full ship when she met the
_Port-au-Prince_. 'And now, lads,' said he to us, 'I will make another
haul, for we are sure to take these two ships at Conception, and more
besides; and I shall take my lass to church in a carriage.' Little did
he know how soon he was to meet his fate!

"And now as to the quarrel I have spoken of between our good captain and
Mr. Brown, the whaling-master. It seems that as soon as the matter of
the two Spanish ships at Conception was mentioned to Mr. Brown he became
very obstinate--and then, with many intemperate expressions and oaths,
flatly refused to give up the good prospects of a whaling voyage for the
sake of capturing a dozen prizes. Upon this Captain Duck reminded him
that he, being only whaling-master, had nought to do with the matter;
that it was his duty to aid in making the voyage a success, but that if
they failed to get any prizes in the course of a month or so, then he
(Captain Duck) would make all possible haste to get upon the whaling
ground. Instead of receiving this in a sensible manner, Mr. Brown only
became the more rude, and the upshot of it was that Captain Duck lost
his temper, and, seizing a cutlass, presented it at Mr. Brown's breast.

"'Go to your cabin, sir, and remain there,' he said. 'I will deal
quickly with the man who dares use mutinous language to me.' And then he
ordered Mr. Tobias Williams, our officer of marines, to keep Mr. Brown
in close custody. He seemed very much excited and angry--and very justly
so; but half an hour afterwards, when Mr. Brown sent for him to express
his sorrow for his rudeness, he forgave him most readily, and drank wine
with him, saying that 'twas a pity that two shipmates should quarrel
when in but a little time one might lose the number of his mess by a
Spanish bullet.

"A week later we arrived off Quinquina, an island in Conception Bay, and
anchored at nightfall. About midnight the boats were manned and armed,
and proceeded towards Conception, pulling with muffled oars. I was in
the boat with Mr. James Parker, the first lieutenant, who had with him
twenty-six seamen and marines. The other boats were commanded by Mr.
Brown, the whaling-master, Mr. Williams, the officer of marines, and Mr.
Peter Russel, the second lieutenant. The night was dark, but calm, which
latter was unfortunate, as the _Port-au-Prince_ could not follow the
boats and cover the cutting-out party, as had been intended by Captain
Duck. After an hour's rowing we got up unobserved to the first ship,
and Mr. Parker, followed by Turner and the rest of his boat's crew,
succeeded in getting on board and capturing the crew without alarming
the other ships, which lay about a quarter of a mile away. After cutting
her cables she was taken in tow by Mr. Russel's boat, and the other
three set out for the second ship. We had just got within half a cable's
length of her when Turner, again assuring Mr. Parker that there were no
batteries on shore, took out one of his pistols to look at the priming.
He was steering at the time, and by some woeful mishap the pistol went
off.

"'Never mind, lads,' said Mr. Parker; 'I'll lay you alongside in another
minute or two.' And with that we gave a cheer and bent to the oars.

"But before we had gone a hundred yards we knew that we were discovered
from the shore, for two batteries immediately opened out upon us.
However, we soon got aboard and captured the ship; but we were so close
to the batteries that by the time we had cut her cables the ship was
hulled in twenty places. Some of us were then sent back to the boats to
tow her out of fire. I was in the boat with Turner, who was cheering the
men to greater exertions in towing, when I heard a dreadful sound and
felt something splash over me that I knew was not salt water, and saw
Turner fall upon his face. Almost at the same moment another heavy shot
struck the boat amidships at the water-line, and she at once began to
fill, but the other boat came alongside and picked us up, including poor
Turner.

"Finding that the calm still continued, and that many of our party were
wounded, Mr. Parker called to us in the boat to come round on the port
side, where the remaining boat was lying.

"'We'll stick to her a bit yet,' he called out, and then he sent some of
our men up aloft to loose and set some sails. As soon as this was done
he ordered every one back into the boats, and went to the helm himself,
telling us that if a breeze sprang up and the sails wanted trimming he
would call for us to come up again.

"All this time the ship was being hulled repeatedly, and we were
in great concern--not for ourselves, as we were now all but out of
danger--but for our gallant Mr. Parker, who seemed bent on getting away
with the prize. The first thing we did after our boat was under shelter
was to get a light and look at poor Turner; and the sight was a terrible
one to me. The shot had carried away his lower jaw, his left arm as far
as the elbow (for he was stooping when he looked at the priming of his
pistol), and his right hand. The fleshy part of his thigh was also gone.
The poor fellow could not do more than mutely look his dreadful anguish,
and yet I could see he was perfectly conscious of all that was going on
around him.

"For nearly a quarter of an hour we continued like this, feeling every
shot that struck the ship. Every now and then one of us would clamber
up the side to see after Mr. Parker, who would angrily order him back to
his boat. At last Mr. Cresswell, our gunner, called out that the prize
was sinking, and we saw that she was beginning to feel the effect of the
water that was pouring into her, for she had been struck in many places
between wind and water. At the same time Mr. Parker called out for four
hands to come on deck as he had found the treasure, which was in the
main cabin, packed in boxes. These were quickly taken out and placed
in the boats, and then Mr. Parker liberated the crew of the prize, and
ordered them into one of her boats to save themselves. We then shoved
off and pulled after the first prize, but were met by Mr. Russel, who
had had to abandon her on account of the calm and the close fire of
another battery.

"'Never mind,' said Mr. Parker, with a laugh, 'if we can't bring them
to Captain Duck the Spaniards won't get further use of them. I have set
fire to mine.'

"'And I to mine,' said Mr. Russel.

"So this was our first engagement, and little did I relish it. We got
back to the _Port-au-Prince_ at daylight, and just as we came alongside
we saw the first of the prizes blow up. Our first care was to lift the
mutilated but still breathing body of poor Turner carefully on deck.
Unable to utter more than a dreadful groaning sound, his eyes seemed
filled with a longing to speak to Captain Duck, who bent over him with a
pitying face.

"'Poor fellow,' said the captain to Mr. Russel, 'he wants to say
something and cannot.' Then bending over him again, he asked him if the
order he had on board in his (Captain Duck's) care was to be sent to
Bristol. A feeble nod of the head was his answer, and in a few minutes
he was gone. I was glad to learn afterwards that when he joined the
_Port-au-Prince_ he had an order on the owners of the _Vincent_ for
quite a large sum of money, and this he had given to Captain Duck,
telling him that he wished it to be sent to a young woman named Mary
Agnew, whose address in Bristol he wrote on the back and whom he had
hoped to marry when he returned from this last voyage. Our captain
afterwards sent the order home by the _Clinton_, South Seaman. (I
learned afterwards from Mr. Bent that the poor woman received it
safely.)

"On the following day we sailed into Conception Bay to give the
batteries a taste of our metal. We went close in and then hove in stays
and sent four or five shots right into the battery, but their guns were
too heavy for us to do more, and with two men wounded we stood out of
range again. After this we disguised the ship like an American, and went
boldly into Coquimbo Roads. Here we were boarded by a party of gaily
dressed gentlemen who came to trade with the supposed American. They
brought with them nearly $3,000, and were deeply mortified to learn that
the ship was an English privateer and they were our prisoners. One of
them, however--Don Mario--took the matter very jocosely, and ate and
drank and made merry, telling Mr. Mariner and Captain Duck that his
entertainment was well paid for. Later on in the day more merchants came
off, carrying much money, all of which they surrendered. Meanwhile
four boats, well manned and armed, had gone ashore and captured some
warehouses about a mile from the town. From these we obtained a great
quantity of wine and some pigs of copper. Finding that the town was too
well defended to be taken, we ransomed our prisoners, and Captain Duck
having presented Don Mario with a cheese, in token of the good temper he
had shown under his misfortune, we set sail again.

"It would take too long to tell of all that befel us during the next ten
weeks or so, except that we harried every Spanish settlement along the
coast, fired at every fort we saw, and took many prizes. As we were
too shorthanded to man these, we took out all their stores, arms, and
powder, and sank them right under the guns of a Spanish frigate at
Arica, firing at her meanwhile with much merriment. While we were thus
engaged a boat came alongside with six Englishmen in her. She belonged
to the _Minerva_, a London South Seaman, bound to Port Jackson, and
those in her were Captain Obed Cottle, his first and second mates, and
three seamen. The remainder of the _Minerva's_ crew, they stated, had
mutinied, and after some bloodshed had permitted these six to leave in
one of the boats. When they left the _Minerva_ the mutineers ran up
a black flag and announced their intention of turning the ship into a
pirate. Captain Duck made them welcome, and they proved useful additions
to our ship's company.

"On the 20th of September we fell in with our looked-for consort the
_Lucy_, privateer of London, Captain Ferguson, belonging to the same
owner as did the _Port-au-Prince_, and this gentleman and our good
captain agreed to go shares in such plunder as the ships got in company.
The following day, therefore, we anchored off Chinca and took that
place, but were but poorly rewarded, as there were only two hundred
dollars in the Governor's house. However, there was some excellent wine,
of which we took twenty hogsheads on board, and we told the Governor to
keep his money.

"And now comes the story of our fight with a very big ship, of which I
have so often told you, Mr. Denison. On the 6th of October, the _Lucy_
being-ahead (and both our ships off Paita), she took a king's tender
laden with provisions, so the prisoners told Captain Ferguson, for the
Spanish frigate _Astraea_ then lying at anchor in Paita Roads. It had
been our intent to capture the town, but the frigate's presence there
put that out of the question for the time being. But we were willing to
fight her outside, away from the batteries, and word to that effect
was sent ashore, challenging her to come out and tackle us. She carried
sixty guns, and was commanded by a Frenchman of great bravery. As soon
as he received Captain Duck's challenge he got under way, and sailed out
to meet the _Lucy_ and _Port-au-Prince_. In half an hour we commenced a
close action with the Spanish ship, and almost at the first shot I was
stunned by a splinter which nearly put out my left eye. But young Mr.
Mariner told me all that followed after I was carried below.

"The frigate's decks were crowded with men, for in addition to the
ship's company she had on board nearly three hundred soldiers, who kept
up a continuous but ineffective musketry fire. They and the Spanish
sailors cursed us continually as they fired, and our crew returned the
compliment, for many of our men could swear very well in Spanish. After
fighting us for about an hour she bore up for the land, we sticking
close to her and meaning to board; but at two o'clock our mizzen topmast
was shot away, and falling athwart of our mainyard prevented us from
bracing about. Then before we could get clear of this, the Spaniard
came to the wind and sent a broadside that shot away our mizzen and main
topmast and fore topsail yards, and played sad havoc with our braces and
bowlines. In this condition, and being now almost under the guns of the
forts, we had to discontinue the fight, and with the _Lucy_, haul off.
The _Astraea_, too, had suffered much, and was glad to get back into
Paita as quick as she could. We had several men badly wounded, among
whom was our captain; and one poor boy, named Tommy Leach, was cut in
halves by grape-shot. We made a second attempt to capture her two days
later, but were again beaten off.

"Next morning Mr. Brown and Captain Duck had more angry words. And then
two parties began to form, one in favour of whaling, and the other in
favour of taking prizes. However, Captain Duck said he would go first
to the Galapagos and refit before anything else was done. We anchored at
James Island on the 16th, and found there three ships, the _Britannia_
and _British Tar_ of London, and the American ship _Neutrality_. From
Captain Folger, of the _Neutrality_, which had just arrived from Paita,
we learnt that the _Astraea_ had had her fore-topmast shot away, thirty
hands killed, and one hundred and twenty wounded. Monsieur de Vaudrieul,
her commander, told Captain Folger that his cowardly Spanish officers
wished him to strike before he fired the last broadside at our ship, and
only that we could not board him he would have done so.

"We returned to the coast after this, and captured many prizes. One
of these, the Spanish brig _Santa Isidora_ was placed in charge of Mr.
Parker, who, with ten hands, was ordered to take her to Port Jackson.
Then the same week--the _Lucy_ having parted company with us--we took
the corbeta _Santa Anna_. She was a fine, new vessel and a fast sailer,
and well armed. She had a prize crew put on board under the command of a
gentleman adventurer of our company, Mr. Chas. Maclaren, who was ordered
to follow Mr. Parker's prize to Port Jackson. Whether they ever reached
this place I cannot say. I know I never heard of the corbeta again, but
did hear that the _Santa Isidora_ was captured by the natives of the
Paumotu Islands and all hands massacred.

"During the time that we lay at the Galapagos, our kind and brave
captain continued to get worse from his wound (he had been struck by a
falling spar during an engagement with the _Astraea_, which had injured
him internally), and at last it was evident to us all that his days
were numbered. And then, too, his ardent and courageous spirit fretted
greatly because of some news we had heard from the _O'Caen_, an armed
American whaler, which on the 7th of August anchored near us. This
was that a Spanish sloop-of-war was at anchor at a little port on the
mainland, only a few days' sail from our anchorage. She was on her
way to Callao from the northern ports of North America and Mexico, and
carried tribute from the different Governors on those coasts. Much of
this tribute was in furs, sealskins, and other valuable commodities, and
she also had on board 170,000 dollars in money. Her crew were all very
sick, and she was leaking badly, having been ashore at San Diego. The
captain of this vessel had sent for assistance to Acapulco by a small
trading vessel, and the master of the _O'Caen_ said we could take
her easily. She would have proved a rich prize to us, and our captain
fretted greatly at his illness, for he was quite unable to do more than
speak in a whisper.

"Four days afterwards I was sent to watch by his bedside by the gunner,
and scarcely had I seated myself by him when he put his hand on mine,
and I saw he was trying to speak. I was about to leave him to call
assistance, but he held my hand with his dying strength.

"'John,' he said, in a little, thin voice, 'quick, listen to me.... Tell
Mr. Brown... make for the Spanish sloop. But I fear he is a shuffler....
but... a rich prize..., God bless you, my lad.'

"And with this the grip of his hand relaxed, and his eyes closed in
death. For some minutes I permitted my tears to flow uninterruptedly,
then went on deck and reported our dear captain's end to the gunner, as
well as his last words. Mr. Brown was then on shore, but soon came off;
and that evening our worthy and lamented commander was borne to his
lonely grave on the island, amid tears of unfeigned grief by every one
present.

"At daylight next morning Mr. Brown, upon whom the command now devolved,
ordered us with very unwarrantable and harsh language to get the ship
ready for sea.

"'Sir,' said the gunner, 'to-day is Sunday, and the men are not yet over
the loss of the captain.'

"But this only brought forth a very violent explosion from Mr. Brown,
who called him a mutineer, and added that he intended to sail that day
for the whaling ground; that the Spanish sloop might rot at her moorings
for all he cared; and finally that he was master now, and would brook no
interference.

"So amid the gloomy looks and muttered discontent of the men the anchor
was weighed, and the _Port-au-Prince_ stood out of the harbour to meet
with her final and terrible disaster."




III.

"It was on Saturday, the 20th of November, 1806, that we anchored at one
of the Haapai Islands, in the Tonga Group, or as people now call them,
the Friendly Islands. The town was named Lifuka, and it was a very
beautiful place to look at, for the houses of the natives were embowered
in palm groves of the loveliest verdure, and a very white beach ran from
one end of the island to the other.

"Our voyage from the Galapagos had in no wise been a fortunate one;
for we had taken but two whales, and the crew were in a highly mutinous
state. Our new captain had grossly insulted the officer of marines from
the first, and said that he and his men were a set of lazy, skulking
dogs. Now ours had always been a very happy ship's company when Captain
Duck was alive, and the marines we had on board had become as good
seamen as any other of our people, so that this speech rankled deeply in
their minds and bore bitter fruit, as will presently be shown.

"No sooner had we dropped anchor than a great number of natives came
on board. They were an extraordinarily fine built race, and, indeed,
although we had some very big and powerful men in the ship's company, no
one of them was anything like in stature and haughty carriage to these
naked, brown-skinned savages. Mr. Brown invited some of the chiefs into
the cabin, and, with young Mr. Mariner, entertained them. Although they
knew he was the commander they paid him little deference, but seemed
to be greatly taken with Mr. Mariner, embracing him with every
demonstration of affection, as if he were some long lost friend.

"In a few hours their numbers had increased to such an extent that one
of our crew, a native of the Sandwich Islands (who had joined the ship
at the Galapagos) ventured to tell Mr. Brown that he thought they had
hostile intentions. He had, he said, heard them use the word _mate_,
which in his islands meant to kill; and this and other expressions which
much resembled those used in his own country led him to think that some
mischief was intended. Instead of listening to poor Hula--for so he was
named--Mr. Brown ordered him on deck, and threatened to flog him, so
that the poor fellow came back quite dejected.

"'Jack,' said he to me--I was a favourite of his--'Captain he fool. You
get cutlass and pistol and keep close alongside Hula. I think Kanaka men
want to take ship and kill all white man.'

"I was, indeed, by this time quite terrified at the number of savages
on board, and made haste to obey the poor man's warning; whereupon Mr.
Brown, who just then came on deck, swore violently at me for a fool,
and ordered me to lay aside my arms. 'The natives,' said he, 'mean us
no harm, and I will not affront them by letting any of you timid fools
carry arms in their presence.'

"The following day was Sunday, and the crew came aft in a body, and
asked permission for half of the ship's company to go ashore. To this
request Mr. Brown refused to accede, called them lazy, mutinous dogs,
and swore he would flog the first man who attempted to leave the ship.
No sooner had he said this than one Jim Kelly, the ship's armourer,
stepped out in front, and brandishing a Mexican dagger swore he would
run it through the first man that sought to stay him. His example was
followed by William Clay, Jabez Martin, David Jones, William Baker,
James Hoag, and Tom Woods, the carpenter, who, drawing their cutlasses,
said they would stand to him. Then twelve others followed, and with
defiant exclamations went over the side into canoes, many of them taking
their clothes with them.

"In the meantime there came on board a young native chief of immense
stature, named Vaka-ta-Bula, who inquired for Mr. Mariner. He seemed
very pleased to see the young gentleman, and petted and fondled him as
the other natives had done previously. This apparent friendliness seemed
to quite overcome all sense of danger in Mr. Brown's mind; for, to the
fear of the rest of the officers and crew, he ordered all our axes,
boarding-pikes, cutlasses, and firearms to be taken below, and then
signified his intention of accompanying Vaka-ta-Bula on shore to the
native village. However, at the earnest entreaty of Mr. Dixon, the
second in command, he consented to put off his visit till the following
morning.

"At nine o'clock in the morning I was sent aloft by the sailmaker to
help unbend the foretopsail, which was to be repaired, and looking down
saw the decks were rapidly filling with natives. Mr. Brown had already
gone ashore with the chief Vaka-ta-Bula, Mr. Mariner was in the cabin
writing, and the rest of the officers were engaged in various work on
deck. Just then I saw Mr. Dixon jump up on one of the carron-ades, and
make signs to the natives that no more were to come on board. Suddenly,
a tall native, who stood behind him, dashed out his brains with a club;
and then in an instant a dreadful cry resounded through the ship, and
all those of her crew on deck were attacked and savagely slaughtered.
Horrified at the terrible butchery I saw going on below, I thought at
first to leap overboard and attempt to swim to the shore, but before I
could collect my thoughts I was seized by several natives and dragged to
the deck.

"Just then--so I was afterwards told--young Mr. Mariner came on deck,
and, seeing that every soul of the ship's company on deck lay wallowing
in their blood, ran down-the scuttle into the gunroom, where, with
the cooper, he rapidly devised some means or escape from the general
slaughter. But the hideous yells and dreadful clamour of the savages as
they rushed below to seek out and murder those of the crew still alive
so appalled them that they fled to the magazine, and resolved to blow up
the ship rather than meet with such a fate.

"Fired with this resolution, Mr. Mariner ran back to the gunroom for a
flint and steel, but before he could secure those articles he was seized
by a number of savages; and at that moment I was also dragged down into
the cabin, where the first sight that met our eyes was Vaka-ta-Bula,
holding Captain Duck's bloodstained sword in his hand. He was surrounded
by many other chiefs and, greatly to our relief, he went up to Mr.
Mariner and embraced him. Then, in broken English, he said that Mr.
Brown and many of those who had gone on shore were already killed;
that now that he had possession of the ship he was satisfied, and was
inclined to spare those on board who yet remained alive. Then he asked
us how many were left.

"'Three,' said the young gentleman, pointing to himself, the cooper, and
myself.

"'Good,' said Vaka-ta-Bula, handing the bloodied sword to a native;
'three no too many.' Then he told us we must follow him ashore, and
motioned us to go on deck.

"A very shocking sight there met our view. Upon the quarter-deck lay
twenty-five bodies, all perfectly naked, and placed closely together
side by side. Only one or two could we recognise, for the poor fellows'
heads had been battered out of all human semblance by blows from the
heavy native clubs, and from their still warm bodies ran a dreadful
stream of red that flooded the quarter-deck and poured along the
covering-board to the deck below. But even worse than this was the
appearance of a short, squat old native whose head was covered with what
had a few minutes before been snow-white hair, but was now dyed deep
with the life-blood of our unfortunate companions.

"Over his left shoulder was thrown poor Mr. Dixon's jacket, and his
frightful appearance was increased by his being--save for this one
garment--absolutely naked, and holding across his huge and ensanguined
thighs a heavy ironwood club, bespattered with blood and brains. So
terrifying an object was he that we could scarce believe him human till
he opened his horrid mouth, and with a dreadful laugh pointed to the
mutilated bodies of our shipmates. I saw no more then, for I swooned.

"When I came to I found myself in a house in the village, but my
companions were not visible; and, indeed, I never saw them again, for
I was taken away the next day to another island, where, although I was
kindly treated, I remained a prisoner for two long weary months, knowing
nothing of what befell those of my shipmates who had been spared from
the general massacre.

"About ten weeks afterwards, when the shock of that dreadful slaughter
which I had witnessed had somewhat worn off, I began to take an interest
in my surroundings. My first object was to try and learn something about
young Mr. Mariner; but the natives seemed to evade my inquiries, and
at first would tell me nothing. But after a time the chief with whom I
lived, whose name was Fatafehe, told me that Finau, the native king who
had planned and carried out the cutting off of the _Port-au-Prince_ had
taken a great liking to the young gentleman, who was now high in favour
with him and the _matabuli_ or leading men. And later on I was told that
thirteen of my surviving comrades had taken service with Finau, and were
then engaged with him in preparing for an expedition intended to conquer
the large neighbouring island of Tongatabu. Seven of the privateer's
carronades and two eighteen-pounder guns which formed part of the
armament were worked by the thirteen Englishmen; and about seven months
afterwards I heard that at the storming of Nukualofa, the great fortress
on Tonga-tabu, Finau achieved a great victory, and made much of his
white artillerymen, giving them houses and land and wives, and making
them of equal rank with his _matubuliu_. The tale of the terrible
slaughter at the taking of this fort was something dreadful even to
hear, and yet I have heard that young Mariner said in his book that
Finau was by no means a bloodthirsty man. I can only speak of the man
as I heard of him--but Mr. Mariner, who lived with him for some three or
four years, no doubt knew this savage chieftain well, and was competent
to speak as he did of him.

"For ten months I lived with the chief Fatafehe in the Haapai Group,
and then from there I was removed to the larger island of Vavau. Here I
spent a year before I could make my escape, which by a kind Providence
I was at last enabled to effect by swimming off on board the ship
_Chalice_, of Nantucket, as she lay at anchor in Niafu Harbour.

"Her captain treated me very kindly, and put me on the ship's books, and
then, Mr. Denison, began my career as a whaleman.

"It was quite another year ere I succeeded in reaching England, where I
made haste to tell my story to Mr. Robert Bent; but he had already heard
of the disaster that had overtaken his ship. He behaved very generously
to me, and gave me twenty guineas to carry me home to my native place,
and told me--as I still desired to follow a seaman's life--to come to
him when I wanted a ship.

"My parents and my dear sister Judith had for about six months mourned
me as dead, and ours was truly a happy and wonderful reunion, and the
first night I spent at home we all knelt down together and thanked God
for my deliverance.

"Mr. Mariner, I am glad to say, escaped from those dreadful islands
three years later, and reached England in safety. And so I come to the
end of this tale of a very strange and calamitous voyage, brought
about mainly through the obstinacy of the whaling-master of the
_Port-au-Prince_."

*****

"And now, Mr. Denison and Captain Packenham, as I think we shall never
meet again, I want you to be good to my boys, Tom and Sam, and warn them
both against the drink. It is kind, generous gentlemen like you who,
meaning no harm, send so many half-caste lads to hell."




THE ESCAPEE

One hot, steaming morning, a young man, named Harry Monk, was riding
along a desolate stretch of seashore on the coast of North Queensland,
looking for strayed cattle. He had slept, the previous evening, on the
grassy summit of a headland which overlooked the surrounding low-lying
country for many miles, and at dawn had been awakened by the lowing of
cattle at no great distance from his lonely camping-place, and knew
that he would probably discover the beasts he sought somewhere along the
banks of a tidal creek five miles distant. Although the sun was not yet
high the heat was intense, and his horse, even at a walking pace, was
already bathed in sweat. The country to his right was grim, brown,
forbidding, and treeless, save for an occasional clump of sandal-wood,
and devoid of animal life except the ever-hovering crows and a wandering
fish-eagle or two. To the left lay the long, long line of dark,
coarse-sanded beach, upon which the surf broke with violence as the
waves sped shoreward from the Great Barrier Reef, five leagues away.

The track along which the man was riding was soft and spongy sand,
permeated with crab-holes; and at last, taking pity on his labouring
horse, he dismounted, and led him. Half a mile distant, and right ahead,
a grey sandstone bluff rose sheer from the water's edge to a height of
fifty feet, its sides clothed with verdure of a sickly green. At the
back of this headland, Monk knew that he would find water in some native
wells, and could spell for an hour or so before starting on his quest
along the banks of the tidal creek.

It was with a feeling of intense relief that he at last gained the
bluff, and led his sweltering horse under an acacia-tree, which afforded
them both a welcome shade from the still-increasing heat of the tropic
sun. Here for ten minutes he rested. Then, taking off the saddle, Monk
took his horse through the scrub towards the native wells, after first
satisfying himself that there were no natives about, for the wild
blacks upon that part of the coast of North Queensland were savage and
treacherous cannibals, and he knew full well the danger he was running
in thus venturing out alone so far from the station of which he was
overseer. As yet, he had seen neither the tracks by day nor the fires
by night of any myalls (wild blacks), but for all that he was very
cautious; and so as he emerged from the scrub, holding his bridle and
carrying his billy-can, he kept his Winchester rifle ready, for above
the native wells were a mass of rugged sandstone boulders, thrown
together in the wildest confusion and covered with straggling vines
and creepers--just the sort of place to hide the black, snaky bodies
of crouching niggers, waiting to launch their murderous spears into
the white man as he stooped to drink. For a minute or so he stood and
watched the boulders keenly, then he dropped his rifle with a laugh and
stroked his horse's nose.

"What a fool I am, Euchre! As if you wouldn't have smelt a myall long
before I could even see him! Stand there, old boy, and you'll soon have
a drink."

He soon clambered down to the bottom of the ravine, and found to his joy
that two of the three wells contained water, sweet, pure, and limpid.
After satisfying his own thirst he thrice filled his billy-can and gave
his patient horse a drink, then, leaving him to crop the scanty herbage
that grew about the wells, he climbed to the top of the bluff and sat
down to rest under a lofty ledge of rock.

Taking out his pipe and tobacco he began to smoke. Below him the surf
beat unceasingly against the base of the bluff and sent long swirls of
yellow foam high upon the desolate beach beyond.

An hour had passed, and then, rising and descending to the wells, he
filled his canvas water-bag. Then, giving Euchre another drink, he
saddled up again and led him through the scrub to the summit of the
bluff. Here for a moment he stood to enjoy the first breaths of the sea
breeze which had sprung up during his rest, and to scan the coast to the
southward, which was rather high and well-wooded. Suddenly he uttered an
exclamation of astonishment, and, springing into his saddle, rode down
the steep descent at a breakneck pace--a white man was running for
his life along the beach towards the bluff, pursued by six blacks.
Un-slinging his Winchester as he galloped over the sand he gave a loud
cry of encouragement to the man. But neither the man nor his pursuers
heard it. Dropping his reins, but urging his horse along with the spur,
Monk levelled his rifle at the foremost native, fired, and missed,
and then he saw the white man fall on his hands and knees with a spear
sticking in his back. But ere the black had time to poise another spear
the overseer's rifle cracked again and the savage spun round and fell,
and the other five at once sprang towards the short thick scrub that
lined the beach at high-water mark. Then Monk, steadying himself in the
saddle, set his teeth and fired again and again, and two of the naked
ebony figures went down upon the sand.

"The other four won't trouble me any more," he muttered, as he rode back
to the wounded man; "and I'm no native police-officer to shoot black
fellows for the pleasure of it, though I'd like to revenge poor Cotter
and his murdered children "--a settler and his family had been murdered
a few weeks previously.

The wounded man was lying on his left side, unable to rise, and Monk,
jumping off his horse, saw that the long, slender spear had gone clean
through his right shoulder, the sharp point protruding in front for
quite a foot.

The man was breathing hard in his agony, and Monk, before attempting to
draw the spear, placed the nozzle of his water-bag to his lips. He drank
eagerly, and then said--

"Now, comrade, pull the cursed thing out."

Taking a firm grip around the shaft of the weapon, the overseer
succeeded in drawing it, and then began to staunch the flow of blood by
plugging the holes with strips of his handkerchief, when the man stayed
his hand, and said calmly--

"Let it bleed awhile, my friend; it will do good. So; that will do. Ah,
you are a brave fellow!"

Supported on Monk's arm, the stranger, who was a powerfully-built,
black-bearded man, dressed in garments which were a marvel of rags and
patches, walked slowly with him to the foot of the bluff and sat down
under the shade of a tree.

"My good friend," he said, with a smile, "you were just in time. Now,
tell me, what are you going to do with me?"

"Carry you up this bluff, and then put you on my horse and take you to
Willeroo Station as soon as the heat of the sun has passed. 'Tis only
thirty miles."

He shook his head. "I was never on the back of a horse in my life, and
I am weak. I have not had food for nearly two days, and no water since
last night. Ah, heaven! give me that water-bag again."

He drank deeply, and Monk pondered as to what had best be done. He soon
made up his mind. He would carry him to the top of the bluff, leave him
food and water and his Winchester, and then ride as hard as he could to
the station for assistance. But, to his astonishment, the man implored
him not to do so.

"See, my friend. You have saved my life and I am grateful. But I shall
be doubly grateful to you if you do not bring assistance--I want none.
This spear-wound--bah! it is nothing. But I do want food."

His words, few as they were, rang with earnest entreaty, and then it
flashed through Monk's brain who the man was. He was Kellerman, the
notorious escapee from New Caledonia, for whom the North Queensland
police had been seeking for the past six months, after his breaking out
of Cooktown gaol. For the moment Monk said nothing; but, with sudden
sympathy, he lit his pipe and handed it to his companion. "Take a smoke,
old man, and we'll see presently what is best to be done."

The story of Kellerman's escape from that hell upon earth, the prison
of He Nou, in New Caledonia, was well known to Monk, and had filled him
with pity, for the man before him was the only survivor of a party of
five escapees who had landed at Cape Flattery; the others were killed
and eaten by the blacks. Kellerman, who was a man of powerful physique,
had succeeded in reaching a beche-de-mer station on the coast, where
for six or eight months he worked steadily and made a little money. From
there he went to a newly-discovered alluvial goldfield north of Cooktown
with a prospecting party, who all spoke well of him as "a plucky,
energetic fellow, and a good mate." Then, one day, two mounted troopers
rode into camp; and Kellerman, with despair in his eyes, was taken in
handcuffs to Cooktown. He was at once identified by a French warder from
Noumea, and was placed in prison to await transhipment to the terrors of
Noumea again. On the third night he escaped, swam the alligator-infested
Endeavour River, and hid in the dense coastal scrubs. What horrors the
man had gone through since then Monk could well imagine as he looked at
his gaunt frame and hollow, starved-like eyes. The overseer made up his
mind.

Carelessly picking up his rifle he strolled over to where his horse was
standing, and placed the weapon on the ground. Then he came back, and,
sitting on a rock in front of the convict, he leant his chin on his hand
and looked him in the face.

"I'll tell you what I will do," he said quietly, "I shall take you to
a place on the top of this bluff, make you a damper and a billy of tea,
give you my blanket, and stay with you till daylight. Then I shall
ride to Willeroo Station and return early the next morning with more
provisions and some clothing and a razor--your beard is too long. And
perhaps, too, I can get you a horse and saddle. Then, as soon as you are
better, you can travel towards New South Wales. You speak English well,
and New South Wales is the best place for you."

The Frenchman sprang to his feet, his face blanched to a deathly white,
and his limbs trembled.

"Why do you---- who are you? Ah, my God--you know me!"

"Yes, I know you; sit down. You are Kellerman, but I will not betray
you."

"You will not betray me?"

The anguished ring in his voice went to the overseer's heart, and rising
he placed his hand on the convict's arm. "Sit down. I will give you a
proof that I harbour no evil intentions to you." Then he walked away to
where his Winchester lay, picked it up, and returning placed it in the
convict's hands.

"In that rifle there are left twelve cartridges. I have thirty more in
my saddle-pouch. They and the rifle are yours to defend yourself from
the blacks on your way down the coast. If you use it against white men
you will be a murderer."

Kellerman clutched the weapon convulsively for a moment, and his eyes
flashed. Then he thought a moment.

"I promise you that I will not use it against a white man--even to save
myself."

In less than an hour Monk had fixed the wounded man comfortably under
the overhanging ledge of rock, boiled him some tea, and made him a
damper, of which he ate ravenously. His wound troubled him but little,
and as he lay on the overseer's blanket he talked freely of his past
life. His earlier life had been spent in England and America. Then came
the Franco-German war, and from America he had returned to France to
take part in the struggle, and when the dark days of the Commune fell
upon Paris, Kellerman was one of its warmest adherents, and paid the
penalty with worse than death--he was sentenced to transportation for
life. His only relatives were a brother and a sister, both of whom were
little more than children when he was transported.

Monk listened with deep interest, and then bade him try and sleep. The
Frenchman at once laid his head upon his pillow of leaves and was soon
slumbering. At dawn Monk rose and saddled his horse; then, making some
fresh tea, he was about to bid his companion goodbye till the following
morning when Kellerman asked him if he had a pencil and paper with him.

The overseer pulled out an old pocket-book which he used when out
mustering cattle to note down the brands of any strange cattle on
Willeroo run.

"Before you go, my friend, I want you to write down something in that
book," said the convict. "Do you know a little creek about fifteen miles
from here?"

"Yes, I do; there is a lot of heavy timber on it, pretty fer up."

"Exactly. Now, there is gold in the headwaters of that creek, and it has
not yet been prospected by anybody, except myself. And if I had had a
dish with me I could have washed out ten, twenty, aye, thirty ounces a
day. It is easy to get. I lived on the headwaters of that creek for six
weeks. Then the water dried up, but still I got gold. But thirst drove
me away, and knowing these native wells were here I made up my mind to
come and camp on this hill till rain fell; and, but for you, I would
now be being eaten in a blacks' camp. Now, write as I tell you. You must
work that creek, my friend, and send me some share of all the gold
you get. If I am dead you must seek out my brother and sister. No, no;
to-morrow may never come; write now."

Then he gave Monk explicit directions as to the locality of a
particularly rich "pocket," which the overseer wrote carefully down.

The sun had just risen when Monk, bidding the convict goodbye, turned to
lead his horse down the hill. Suddenly he stopped, and, walking back, he
carefully put out the fire.

"You need have no fear from blacks," he said, "but there is a detachment
of native police at Willa Willa, thirty-five miles from here, inland.
Possibly they _may_ be out on patrol now, and if so, might come to the
wells to water their horses. Therefore it is best to take precautions,
though you are safe out of sight up here."

"Thanks, my good friend," said the Frenchman, with a sigh, as he laid
his head upon his pillow again.

Once more filling his water-bag at the wells, the overseer mounted, and,
pushing through the scrub, soon emerged upon the open beach, and struck
into a canter. Suddenly he pulled up sharply--a number of horse tracks
were visible on the hard, dark sand, just above water-mark, and leading
round the back of the bluff. Turning his horse's head he followed
cautiously.

"It must be Jackson and his black troopers," he muttered; "and, by
heavens, they have gone through the back scrub to get to the top of the
bluff!"

For some minutes he hesitated as to the best course to pursue, when
suddenly he heard a voice from the summit above him, "Surrender in the
Queen's name!" There was a moment's silence, then he heard a laugh.

"_Peste!_ I could shoot you all if I cared to, Mr. Officer, but, being a
fool, I will not break a promise to a friend." Then the sharp crack of
a rifle rang out.

Spurring his horse through the scrub, Monk dashed over the rough ground
and up the hill. In front of the cave were a sub-inspector of black
police, a white sergeant, and eight black troopers. They were looking at
Kellerman, who lay on the ground with a bullet through his heart--dead.

"Confound the fellow!" grumbled the sergeant; "if I'd ha' known he meant
to play us a trick like that I'd ha' rushed in on him. I wonder how he
managed it? I could only see his head."

"Leant on the muzzle and touched the trigger with his naked toe, you
fool!" replied his superior officer, sharply.

*****

Twelve months afterward Monk left North Queensland a rich man, and
went to Europe, and spent quite a time in France, prosecuting certain
inquiries. When he returned to Australia he brought with him a French
wife; and all that his Australian lady friends could discover about her
was that her maiden name was Kellerman.




EMA, THE HALF-BLOOD




I.

For nearly ten miles on each side of old Jack Swain's trading station
on Drummond's Island,{*} the beach trended away in a sweeping curve,
unbroken in its monotony except where some dark specks on the bright
yellow sand denoted the canoes of a little native village, carried down
to the beach in readiness for the evening's flying-fish catching.

     * One of the lately annexed Gilbert Group in the South
     Pacific.

Perhaps of all the thousands of islands that stud the bosom of the North
Pacific, from the Paumotus to the Pelews, the Kingsmill and Gilbert
Islands are the most uninviting and monotonous in appearance.

The long, endless lines of palms, stretching from one end of an island
to the other, present no change or variation in their appearance
till, as is often the case, the narrow belt of land on which they so
luxuriously thrive becomes, perhaps, but fifty yards in width, and the
thick matted undergrowth of creepers that prevail in the wider parts
of the island gives place to a barren expanse of wind-swept sand, which
yet, however, supports some scattered thousand-rooted palms against the
sweeping gusts from the westward in the rainy season, and the steady
strain of the southeast trades for the rest of the year.

In such spots as these, where the wild surf on the windward side of the
island sometimes leaps over the short, black reef, shelving out abruptly
from the shore, and sweeps through the scanty groves of palm and
pandanus trees, and, in a frothy, roaring flood, pours across the narrow
landbelt into the smooth waters of the lagoon, a permanent channel is
made, dry at low water, but running with a swift current when the tide
is at flood.

*****

Within an hour's walk from the old trader's house there were many such
places, for although Drummond's Island--or Taputeauea, as its wild
people call it--is full forty miles in length, it is for the most part
so narrow that one can, in a few minutes, walk across from the ceaseless
roar and tumult of the surf on the ocean reef to the smooth, sandy inner
beach of the lagoon.

Unlike other islands of the group, Drummond's is not circular in
its formation, but is merely a long, narrow palm-clad strip of sand,
protected from the sea on its leeward side, not by land, but by a
continuous sweep of reef, contracted to the shore at the northern end,
and widening out to a distance of ten or more miles at its southern
extremity. Within this reef the water is placid as a mill-pond.

The day had been very hot, and as the fierce yellow sun blazed westward
into the tumbling blue of the sailless ocean, a girl came out from the
thick undergrowth fringing the weather-bank of the island, and, walking
quietly over the loose slabs of coral covering the shore, made her way
towards a narrow channel through which the flowing tide was swiftly
sweeping.

Just where the incoming swell of the foaming little breakers from the
outer reef plashed up against the sides of the rocky channel, stood a
huge coral boulder, and here the girl stopped, and clambering up its
rough and jagged face sat down and began to roll a cigarette.

The name of the girl was Ema. She was the half-caste daughter of the old
trader. She had come to bathe, but meant to wait awhile and see if some
of the native girls from the nearest village, who might be passing along
to her father's store, to buy goods or sell native produce, would join
her. So, lighting her cigarette with a piece of burning coconut husk
that she brought with, her, she spread the towel she carried upon the
rock and waited, looking sometimes at the opposite side of the channel
to where the path from the village led, and sometimes out to sea.

Somewhat short in stature, the old trader's daughter looked younger than
she was, for she was about twenty--and twenty is an age in those tropic
climes which puts a girl a long way out of girlhood.

No one would ever say that little Ema Swain was beautiful. She certainly
was not. Her freckled face and large mouth "put her out of court,"
as Captain Peters would sometimes say to his mate. (Captain Peters
frequently came to Drummond's, and he and Etna's father would get drunk
on such occasions with uniform regularity.) But wait till you spoke to
her, and then let her eyes meet yours, and you would forget all about
the big mouth and the freckles; and when she smiled it was with such an
innocent sweetness that made a man somehow turn away with a feeling in
his heart that no coarse passion had ever ruffled her gentle bosom.

And her eyes. Ah! so different from those of most Polynesian
half-blooded girls. Theirs, indeed, in most cases, are beautiful eyes;
but there is ever in them a bold and daring challenge to a man they like
that gives the pall of monotony to the brightness of a glance.

Nearly every white man who had ever seen Ema and heard the magical
tones of her voice, or her sweet innocent laugh, was fascinated when
she turned upon him those soft orbs that, beneath the long dark lashes,
looked like diamonds floating in fluid crystal.

I said "nearly every white man," for sometimes men came to Jack Swain's
house whose talk and manner, and unmistakable looks at her, made the
girl's slight figure quiver and tremble with fear, and she would hide
herself away in another room lest her father and brother might guess
the terror that filled her tender bosom. For white-headed Jack was a
passionate old fellow, and would have quickly invited any one who tried
to harm the girl "to come outside"; Jim, her black-haired, morose and
silent brother, would have driven a knife between the offender's ribs.

But the girl's merry, loving disposition would never let her tell her
brother nor her father how she dreaded these visits of some of the rough
traders from the other islands of the group to the house. Besides that,
neither of them noticed Ema; for Jim always got as drunk as his father
on such occasions of island harmony and foregathering of kindred
spirits.

*****

So for the past ten years the girl had grown up amongst these savage
surroundings--a fierce, turbulent, native race, delighting in deeds of
bloodshed, and only tolerating the presence of her father among them
because of his fair dealing and indomitable courage. In those far back,
olden days, when the low sandy islands of the Equatorial Pacific were
almost unknown (save to the few wandering white men who had cast their
lives among their wild and ferocious inhabitants, and the crews of the
American whaling fleet), no one but such a man as he would have dared
to dwell alone among the intractable and warlike people of Drummond's
Island.

But old Swain had lived for nearly forty years among the islands of the
South Seas, roaming from one end of the Pacific to the other, and his
bold nature was not one to be daunted. There was money to be made in
those times in the oil trade; yet sometimes, when he lay upon his couch
smoking his pipe, some vague idea would flit through his mind of going
back to the world again and ending his days in civilisation.

But with the coming morning such thoughts would vanish. How could he, a
man of sixty, he thought, give up the life he had led for forty years,
and take to the ways of white men in some great city? And then there
were Jim and Ema. Why, they would be worse off than he, poor things.
Neither of them could read or write; no more could he--but then he knew
something of the ways of white people, and they didn't. What would they
do if he took them to the States, and he died there? No! it wouldn't do.
They would all stay together. Jim would look after Em if he died. Yes,
Jim would. He was a good boy, and very fond of Em. A good boy! Yes, of
course he was, although he was a bit excitable when he came across any
grog. He hadn't always been like that, though. Perhaps he learnt it
aboard that man-o'-war.

And then the old trader, as he lay back on his rough couch, watching
the curling smoke wreaths from his pipe ascend to the thatched roof,
recalled to memory one day six years before, when the American cruiser
_Saginaw_ had anchored off the village of Utiroa, where Swain then
lived, and a group of the officers from the war-ship had stood talking
to him on the beach.

Beside him were his son and daughter; the boy staring curiously, but
not rudely, at the uniformed officers, the girl, timid and shrinking,
holding her father's hand.

"How old is your son?" the commander of the cruiser had asked him
kindly; "and why don't you let him see something of the world? Such a
fine young lad as he ought not to waste his life down here among these
God-forsaken lagoons." And before the trader could frame a reply the boy
had stepped out and answered for himself.

"I wan' to go away, sir. I has been two or three voyages in a whaler,
sir, but I would like to go in a man-o'-war."

The grey-bearded captain laughed good-naturedly, but the kindly light in
his eyes deepened as the girl, with an alarmed look, took her brother by
the hand and sought to draw him back.

"Well, we'll talk about it presently, my lad. I don't think this little
sister of yours would thank me for taking you away."

And, half an hour afterwards, as the rest of the officers strolled about
the native village, the captain and old Jack did talk the matter over,
and the end of it was that the stalwart young half-caste was entered
on the ship's books, and at sunset Ema and her father saw the cruiser
spread her canvas, and then sail away to the westward.

In five years or so Jim would be free to return home again, unless he
preferred to remain in the service altogether.

*****

Three years passed, and then, one day, a Hawaiian trading schooner swept
round the north end of the island, her white sails bellying out to the
lusty trades. A boat was lowered and pulled ashore, and the first man
that jumped out of her on to the beach was Jim Swain.

Half-way between his father's house and the beach the old man met him.

"Well, I be darned! Why, Jim, what hez brought you back?"

"Got tired of it, dad," he answered, in his quiet way, but without
meeting his father's eye. And then he added, "The fac' is, dad, I bolted
from the _Saginaw_ at Valparaiso. Now, don' ask me no more 'bout it."

"Right you are, my boy," said the trader, placidly; "but you'll have to
get out o' the way if another cruiser comes along. But that isn't likely
to happen for many a year. Come along and see Em. She'll jes' go dancin'
mad when she sees you."

*****

For the next twelve months the father and daughter lived at Utiroa, and
Jim voyaged to and fro among the islands of the group, returning every
few months, and again sailing away on a fresh cruise; but never once
had the old man asked him any further questions as to his reasons for
deserting from the _Saginaw_. But Em, gentle-hearted Em, knew.

One bright morning there came in sight a lofty-sparred ship, with
snow-white canvas, sailing at a distance of two miles from the shore
along the reef, from the south end of the island, and Ema Swain rousing
her brother from his mid-day slumber, with terror in her eyes, pointed
seaward.

Taking his father's glass from the bracket on the wall in the
sitting-room, the half-caste walked out of the house to a spot where
he could obtain a clear view of the ship. For a minute or so he gazed
steadily, then lowered the glass.

"A man-o'-war, Em, right enough; but I don' think she's an American.
I'll wait a bit until she gets closer."

"No, no, Jim! What you run such risk for? You go, Jim." And then, in her
trembling fear, their mother's tongue came to her aid, and the agitated
girl dragged him back into the house, imploring him in the native
language to yield to her wishes.

In another two hours they were sailing down the lagoon in the old
trader's whaleboat towards a place of safety, for Utiroa was, they knew,
the only spot where a man-of-war would anchor.

But long before they reached the village for which they were bound
they saw the great ship slowly change her course and bear away to the
westward, and leave the low, sandy island astern.

A long, steady look at her told the sailor eye of Jim Swain that he had
nothing to fear, even had she kept on and anchored at Utiroa.

"All right, Em," he said, with a low laugh, "we had no need to be
scared; she's a Britisher. That's the _Tagus_. I see her 'bout a year
ago at Samoa." And then he hauled the boat to the wind and beat back to
his father's place.

And so time went by, and the haunting fear of discovery that for the
first year or so after his return to the island had so often made the
young half-caste start up in his sleep with a wild alarm in his heart
when the cry of "Te Kaibuke!"{*} resounded from village to village,
slowly died away.

     *  "A ship!"




II.

Nearly an hour had passed since the girl had left her father's house,
and now, as the sun dipped into the ocean, the flowing tide swept
through the narrow channel in little waves of seething foam, and Ema,
with one last look at the path on the opposite side, descended to the
beach, and throwing off her loose bodice of blue print and her short
skirt, tied around her waist a native waist-girdle of yellow grass, and
stepped into the cold waters of the channel.

For some few minutes she laved herself, singing softly the while to
herself as is customary with many Polynesian native women when bathing,
when suddenly, through the humming drone of the beating surf on the
windward reef, she heard the sound or voices.

"Ah!" she said to herself, "now I will wait and startle these girls from
Tabeâue as they come along." And so she sank low down in the water, so
that only her dark head showed above the surface.

But amid the sound of native voices she heard the unfamiliar tones of
white men, and in an instant she sprang to the shore, and, seizing her
clothes, fled to the shelter of the boulder.

In a minute she had dressed herself, and was peering out through the
fast-gathering darkness at a group of figures she could just discern on
the opposite side of the channel. They had halted, and the girl could
hear the natives in the party discussing means as to getting the white
men across, for the water was now deep, and the current was swirling
through the narrow pass with great velocity.

There were in the party some eight or ten natives and nearly as many
white men; and these latter, the girl could see, were in uniform, and
carried arms; for presently one of them, who stood a little apart from
the others, struck a light and lit a cheroot, and she caught the gleam
of musket-barrels in the hands of those who were grouped in the rear.

Wondering how it came about that armed white men were searching through
the island at such an hour, the girl was about to call out to the
natives--some of whom she recognised--not to attempt the passage without
a canoe, when she heard the sound of oars, and looking across the
darkening waters of the lagoon she saw a boat, filled with men, pulling
rapidly along in the direction of Utiroa.

When just abreast of the passage they ceased rowing, and a figure stood
in the stern, and hailed the shore party.

"Are you there, Mr. Fenton?"

"Yes," answered the man who had struck the light. "Come in here, Adams,
and take us across. There is a channel here, and though I guess it is
not very deep, the current is running like a mill-race."

Still crouching behind the coral boulder the girl saw the boat row in to
the shore, a little distance further down, so as to escape the swirling
eddies of the passage.

As the man-o'-war cutter--for such was the boat--touched the rocks, a
lantern was held up, and by its light the girl saw a short, stout man
step out on to the beach and walk up to the officer in charge of the
shore party.

"Ah, Adams, is that you? Well, this is a devil of a place. We have
crossed at least half a dozen of these cursed gutters, and thought to
have crossed this one too, without trouble, but the tide is coming in
fast. However, it's the last one--at least so this infernal hang-dog
looking native guide tells me. So the sooner we get across in the cutter
and get this man-hunting business over the better I'll like it."

"Aye, aye, sir!" answered the man he had addressed as Adams. "It won't
take us much longer, I guess. Not a canoe has passed us going down the
coast, so we are pretty sure to catch him at home."

"That is what this truculent scoundrel says," and the officer nodded in
the direction of a native who had seated himself on the ground only a
few yards distant from the rock behind which the girl was hidden.
"He tells me that young Swain came home about a week ago from
Maiana"--another island of the group--"and the old man induced him to
stay at home and help him rig a new boat he has just built."

"We'll catch him, sir," answered Adams, confidently.

Clutching the side of the rough boulder in an agony of terror, the girl
saw the two men turn away, and, followed by the rest of the shore party,
natives and all, walk down to the boat. Then, standing upright, she
watched them get in and the cutter shove off.

That they were in search of her brother she was now only too certain,
and dreading that the boat would land the shore party again on her
side of the channel and she be discovered and prevented from giving the
alarm, she sprang over the loose slabs of coral that strewed the
shore between the water and the coconut palms, and fled along the
night-enshrouded path towards her father's house.

Ere she had gained the level ground the clattering sound made by the
displaced coral stones reached the ears of those in the boat, which
was instantly headed for shore, and the officer, with eight or ten
bluejackets, leapt out and, led by the native guides, followed in swift
pursuit.




III.

Within the trader's house the father and son sat smoking in silence,
waiting for the girl's return. A coconut-oil lamp, placed in the centre
of a table, showed that the evening meal was in readiness.

"Em's a powerful long time, Jim," said the old man, rising from his
seat, and, going to the door, he looked through the serried vista of the
palm trunks which showed white and ghostly in the darkness.

"Aye," said Jim, "she is. I'll give her a call."

Just beside the doorway lay a huge conch shell, such as is used by the
people of the Equatorial islands either as a summons to assemble or a
call to one person only, and the stalwart young half-caste, taking it
up, placed the perforated end to his lips and blew a loud, booming note.

A wild clamour of alarm answered the call, and a swarm of noddies and
terns, roosting in countless thousands among a thicket of pandanus palms
near by, slid from their perches, and with frightened croak and flapping
wing whirled and circled around the trader's house, then vanished in the
darkness ere the echoes of the conch had died away.

"That'll bring her, Jim," said the old man, turning to the lamp and
pricking up the wick with his knife.

Silent Jim nodded.

"Yes, she's comin' now. I can hear her runnin'."

They heard her footsteps over the dead palm branches which strewed the
path, and in a few seconds more, with a gasping sob of terror, the
girl sprang into the room and almost fell at her brother's feet as she
clasped her arms around his neck.

"Ha!" and old Swain, seizing a loaded musket from a number that stood
in a corner of the room, stepped to the door. "Jus' what I thought would
happen one of these days. Some o' them flash native bucks from the south
end has been frightenin' o' her. Quick, Em, who was it?"

For a moment or so the exhausted girl strove to speak in vain, but at
last she found her voice.

"No, father, no. But Jim, Jim, it is you they want! Come, Jim, quick,
quick! They very close now."

"What in thunder are you talkin' 'bout, Em? An' who wants Jim?" And then,
turning to his son, he asked, "Have you been a-thumpin' any o' those
south-end natives lately, Jim?"

"No, no," said the girl, rising to her feet, and endeavouring to speak
calmly; "you don' know, father. But Jim must go, an' you an' me mus'
stay here. Quick, quick, for God's sake, dear, go out at the back an'
cross to the windwar' side. Plenty place there for you to hide, Jim, for
two or tree day."

A savage light came into the half-caste's eyes, as with an abrupt yet
tender gesture he placed his huge brown hand on his sister's curly
head; then, without a word, he seized a musket and cutlass, and with a
farewell wave of his hand to the wondering old man, opened the door at
the back of the house and disappeared among the pandanus thicket.

Leaning his musket against the wall, the old man poured some water
into a cup and, putting his arm round the trembling figure of the girl,
placed it to her lips.

"Here, take a drink, Em, an' then tell me what all this here means.
What's the boy been a doin', an' who's after him?"

With shaking fingers the girl raised the cup to her lips and drank;
then, with terror-filled eyes, she placed her hand upon his knee.

"Listen."

"Thar's nothin' outside, Em. What in the worl' has scared ye so, gal?"

"Don' you ask now, father. I carn' tell you now. Jes' you listen; don'
you hear people a comin'? Don' you hear people a talkin'?" she answered.

For half a minute they waited and listened, but no sound broke upon the
stillness of the island night save the ceaseless hum of the surf, and
the quick panting breaths of the girl.

"'Taint nothing, Em, on'y the surf a poundin' on the reef."

"P'raps they're all a comin' in the boat. Dad, there's a lot o'
man-o'-war men comin' for Jim. I was bathin', and I heerd 'em talkin'.
They'll kill him, dad, if they gets him. Niban, that native that Jim
gave a beatin' to onst, was showin' 'em the way here--an' I runned and
runned----"

A half-stifled shriek escaped her as she sprang to her feet.

There was a sudden rush of booted feet and the clank of steel. Then a
voice rang out--

"Keep your men close up to the back of the house, Adams."

Forcing his trembling daughter down upon her seat, the trader, placing
his pipe in his mouth, lit it, and advanced to the open door, to meet,
face to face, an officer in the uniform of the American navy.

"Stand back, sir!" and the officer pointed a pistol at the trader's
breast; but as the light of the lamp fell upon the old man's wrinkled
features and snow-white hair, he lowered his weapon to his side.

"What might your business be, sir, and why are you and your men a-comin'
inter my house at night time, an' pointin' a pistol at me?"

Then, still eyeing the officer, he stepped backward, and placed his arm
protectingly around his daughter's shoulder.

"Stay outside till I call you, Williams," said the officer, turning to a
leading seaman, who, with drawn cutlass, had followed him inside.

Then he came into the room.

"Who else have you here with you?" he began, when he stopped suddenly in
his speech, and raised his cap. "This girl is your daughter, I suppose?"

"My daughter, sir. But what is your business, I ask again? What may you
want here, anyway?"

The angry light in the old man's eyes, and the sharp tone of his voice,
called the officer to his duty.

"I am sorry to be here, Mr. Swain; but be good enough to ask your
daughter to leave us alone for a minute or two. My business is such that
I can tell it better to you alone."

At a sign from her father the girl rose from her seat and reluctantly
walked into her room. The officer watched her retreating figure
disappear, then he turned sharply round on his heel.

"I am a lieutenant on the United States ship _Adirondack_ and my
business is to arrest a man named James Swain, a deserter from the
_Saginaw_ and a murderer as well."

Even in the dim light of the rude lamp the officer saw the rugged bronze
of the old trader's face pale to a deathly whiteness, and he leant one
hand upon the table to steady himself.

"That's a kinder surprise to me, sir. An' I doesn't believe it, nohow.
A deserter my boy Jim might be; but I won't allow he's murdered any one.
Maybe you mean he killed a man in a fair fight?"

"I cannot talk this over with you, old man. My orders are to arrest
James Swain. He is here, I know; and although it is a painful duty for
me to fulfil, you must stand aside and let that duty be done."

"You can look for him, sir; but I can tell you that you won't diskiver
him here."

"We shall see about that." And the officer, walking to the door, called
out, "Come in, Williams, and search the place. Use no violence, but if
the man we want, or any other person in the house, resists, make short
work of it."

With a dozen men at his heels, Williams entered the house, and the
officer, taking his stand at the back door, leant against it, pistol in
hand.

There were but three rooms in the trader's house--the sitting-room,
which was also used as a sleeping room by the old man and his son; the
trade room, or store; and Ema Swain's bedroom. The first two were
at once entered and searched, and in a few minutes Williams, the
boatswain's mate, reported that the man they sought for was not there.

"There is but one more room, sir," said old Swain, quietly, from his
seat at the table. "Ema, come out, and let these men look in your room."
And he glanced defiantly at the officer.

Calmly and quietly she walked into the front room, and, sitting down
beside her father, looked on. But although she was outwardly so calm,
the girl's heart was beating nigh to bursting, for she had overheard
Williams tell one of the bluejackets that some of Adams' men had, long
before the main body approached, formed a complete line of guards on
both sides of the house, extending from the inner lagoon beach right
across the island, which, at this place, was not a quarter of a mile in
width. And the girl knew that at the unguarded open ends on either side
there was no chance of concealment, for there the coast rose steep-to
from the sea, and was bare of verdure.

Presently the boatswain, with two or three bluejackets, re-entered the
room.

"There's no place in the girl's room, sir, where a man could hide. He
must have cleared out, sir, long before we reached her. I guess that
that noise we heard crossing the channel was made by him. I think he's
just doubled on us and made down for the south end of the island."

Pressing her father's hand warningly, the girl fixed her dark, dreamy
eyes on the officer and spoke.

"Yes, that true. My brother he ran away long time before boat come up.
Some one been tell him that 'Merican man-o'-war anchor down at south
end. So he run away."

The officer, with an exclamation of disgust, put his pistol back in his
belt.

"That lying scoundrel of a native has just fooled us nicely, Williams.
Sound a call for Adams and his men to come back, and let us get back to
the cutter. We'll have to begin the search again to-morrow."

The boatswain's mate had just stepped outside and placed his whistle
to his lips, when the thundering report of a heavy musket-shot echoed
through the air. Then silence for a few seconds, followed by the sharper
sounds of the rifles of the American bluejackets.

Before any one could stay her Ema Swain darted through the guard of
blue-jackets at the door, and disappeared in the direction of the sound
of firing; and almost immediately afterwards the officer and his party
followed.

But ere Lieutenant Fenton and his men had advanced more than a hundred
yards or so into the gloomy shadows of the palm-grove, he called a halt,
as the sound of voices came through the gloom.

"Is that you, Adams?" he called.

"Yes, sir," answered a voice from a little distance; "we've got him;
he ran right into us; but before we could catch him he shot the native
guide through the body."

In a few minutes Adams's party joined that of the officer, and then in
silence, with their prisoner in their midst, they marched back to the
trader's house.

"Bring the prisoner inside, Adams," said Lieutenant Fenton, briefly.

With hands handcuffed behind his back and a seaman on each side, Jim
Swain was marched inside his father's house. A bullet had ploughed
through his left cheek, and he was bleeding profusely.

"Stand aside, old man," and the officer held up a warning hand to old
Jack. "It is folly for you to attempt to interfere."

And then a blue-jacket, almost as old as the trader himself, placed
himself between father and son.

Taking a paper from his pocket the officer read it to himself, glancing
every now and then at the prisoner.

"He's the man, sure enough," he muttered. "Poor devil!" Then turning to
the man Adams, he asked--"Are you absolutely certain that this is the
man, Adams?"

"Certain, sir. That is the man who murdered the boatswain of the
_Saginaw_. I took particular notice of him when I served in her, because
of his colour and size, and his sulky temper."

"Jim," broke in the old man's voice, quaveringly, "you haven't murdered
any one, hev' you?"

The half-caste raised his dark, lowering face and looked at his father,
and for a moment or so he breathed heavily.

"Yes, dad. I killed th' man. We had a muss in Valparaiso, an' I knifed
him."

Old Swain covered his face with his hands and sank into a seat, and then
Lieutenant Fenton walked over to him and placed a kindly hand on his
shoulder. Then he withdrew it quickly.

"I have a hard duty, Swain, and the sooner it is over the better. I am
ordered to arrest your son, James Swain, for the crime of murder and for
deserting from his ship. He will be taken to San Francisco. Whatever you
wish to say to him, do so now. In another ten minutes we must be on our
way to the ship, and there will be no further opportunity for you to see
him."

"Aye, aye, sir," said the old man, huskily, and rising he walked slowly
over to his manacled son, and put his trembling hand on his arm.

"You will excuse me, sir, if I talk to him in the native lingo."

Fenton nodded, motioned to the seamen who stood beside the prisoner to
move away, and then walked to the further end of the room.

"Jim," said the old trader, quickly, speaking in the native language,
"what's to be done? I have only got to send a native along the beach
with the shell{*} and we shall have you away from these people in no
time."

     {*} The conch shell.

"No, no, father, even if every one of them was killed it would do no
good. An' they would never let me be taken away from them alive. It
is no use, father, to try that. But"--and here he bent his head
forward--"if I could free my hands I would make a dash--and be shot. I
swear I shall never be hanged. Father, where is Em? I would like to see
her before I go."

"She runned away, boy," said the old man, brokenly, and speaking in
English; "runned away, jes' as soon as she heerd the firin'. She went
to look for you, Jim. Heaven help the gal, Jim, when she comes back an'
finds you gone."

For a little while longer they talked, and then Lieutenant Fenton came
toward them, and Adams, at a sign from his superior, took the old trader
by the arm, and with rough kindness forced him away from his son.

Suddenly, however, he dashed the seaman aside and sprang toward his son,
but, strong and active as he was, he was no match for a man like Adams,
who threw his arms around him and held him in a vice-like grip.

"That will do, mister," said old Jack, quietly. "I reckon I give in. Th'
boy has got to go--an' thet's all about it, an' I ain't agoin' to try
an' stop you from takin' him."

And then as the blue-jackets closed around him, Jim Swain turned.

"Goodbye, dad, and say goodbye to Em for me."

"Poor old man!" said Fenton to himself, as the party marched along the
narrow, sandy track. "Hang me, if I wouldn't be pleased to see the fellow
escape."

*****

The four men who were left in charge of the boat had sprung to their
arms the moment they heard the sound of the firing, and for some time
they scanned the dark outline of the shore with intense anxiety.

"I guess it's all right," said one of them at last. "I only heard three
or four shots. Hullo! here they come along the beach. Shove in."

Tramp, tramp, along the hard sand the landing party marched, and a
seaman in the boat, picking up a lantern, held it up to guide them.

Two hundred yards behind was Ema Swain, striving hard to catch up with
them and see her brother for the last time in this world, she thought.




IV.

"Lift him in carefully," said Lieutenant Fenton, as the boat's bows
touched the beach; "he seems pretty weak."

"Thank you, sir!" and the prisoner turned his dark eyes upon the
officer. "I am nearly dropping. I got a hard hit in the chest with a
musket butt from one of your men, sir."

A couple of men lifted him in, and then as soon as the rest of his
people had taken their places the lieutenant followed.

"Push off, Gates."

As the heavy boat slid out from the shore into the still waters of
the lagoon, the lieutenant glanced down at the manacled figure of his
prisoner.

"Let him sit up, Adams, and take the irons off. He can't lie there like
a trussed fowl; and see if one of you can't stop that bleeding."

Adams bent down, and unlocking the handcuffs lifted him up.

Then, quick as thought, Jim Swain, dashing him aside, sprang overboard
and dived towards the shore.

"Quick! Show a light," said the officer, standing up in the stern,
pistol in hand, waiting for the man to rise.

A long narrow streak of light showed his figure not ten feet away from
the beach. In another minute he would touch the shore.

"Stop!" cried the officer. "Swim another yard and you are a dead man."

But the half-caste kept steadily on. Again Fenton's warning cry rang
out, then he slowly raised his pistol and fired.

The shot told, for as the half-caste rose to his feet he staggered. And
then he sped up the steep beach towards the thick scrub beyond.

As he panted along with the blood streaming from a bullet wound in his
side, his sister's hand seized him by the arm.

"Jim, Jim!" she gasped, "only a little more, and we------"

And then half a dozen muskets flashed, and the two figures went down
together and lay motionless on the bloodied sand.

Fenton jumped ashore and looked at them. "Both dead," he said,
pityingly, to old Swain, who with a number of natives now stood beside
him.

"Aye, sir," said the trader, brokenly, "both. An' now let me be with my
dead."

*****

But neither Ema nor Jim Swain died, though both were sorely wounded; and
a month later they with their father sailed away to Samoa.




LEASSÉ

There were only a score or so of houses in Leassé village--curious
saddle-backed structures, with steeply pitched roofs of gray and yellow
thatch, rising to a sharp point fore and aft; and in all the twenty not
more than one hundred natives--men, women, and children--dwelt. At the
back of the village the dense mountain forest began, and all day long
one might hear the booming notes of the gray wood-pigeons and the shrill
cries of the green and golden parrakeets as they fed upon the rich
purple berries of the _masa'oi_ and the inflorescence of the coco-palms.
In front, and between two jutting headlands of coral rock, with sides
a-green with climbing masses of _tupa_ vine, lay a curving beach of
creamy sand; westward the sea, pale green a mile from the shore, and
deeply blue beyond the clamouring reef, whose misty spume for ever rose
and fell the livelong day, and showed ghostly white at night.

It was at night time that young Denison, ex-supercargo of the wrecked
brig _Leonora_ first saw the place and took a huge liking to it. And
the memories of the seven happy months he spent there remains with him
still, though he has grown grizzled and respectable now and goes trading
no more.

A white moon stood high in a cloudless sky when he bade farewell to the
good-natured ruffian with whom, until two months previously, he had had
the distinction of serving as supercargo. The village wherein Captain
Bully Hayes and his motley rum-drinking crew had established themselves
was six miles from Leassé, on the shores of the Utwé Harbour, at
the bottom of which lay the once shapely _Leonora_, with her broken
fore-topmast just showing above the water. For reasons that need not
here be mentioned, Denison and the captain had quarrelled, and so the
former was deeply touched and said goodbye with a husky throat when the
burly skipper placed one of his two remaining bottles of gin in his hand
and said he was a "damned young fool to take things up so hotly." So,
without a further word, he swallowed the lump in his throat and stepped
out quickly, fearing that some of the crew (none of whom knew of
his going) might meet him ere he gained the beach and mingle their
tears--for they all loved him well--with the precious bottle of gin.

For nearly an hour he walked along the sandy shore of a narrow and
winding strip of low-lying land, separated from the high and wooded
mainland by a slumbering lagoon, deep in parts but shallow at the south
end where it joined the barrier reef. Here Denison crossed, for the tide
had ebbed, and, gaining the shelving beach on the other side, he saw
before him Mout Leassé village, standing out clearly in the blazing
moonlight against the black edge of the mountain forest, which, higher
up, was wrapped in fleecy mist. It was near to dawn, but, being tired
and sleepy, the ex-supercargo lay down on the soft warm sand, away from
the falling dew of the pendulous palm leaves, and slept till it came.

An hour after daylight he was in the village and being hugged and
embraced by the inhabitants in general and Kusis, the headman, and his
wife and daughter in particular. I have already mentioned that Denison
was very young then; he would not permit such a thing now.

Still, although three-and-twenty years have passed since then, Denison
often wishes he could live those seven months in Leassé over again, and
let this, his latter-day respectability, go hang; because to men like
him respectability means tradesmen's bills, and a deranged liver, and a
feeling that he will die on a bed with his boots off, and be pawed about
by shabby ghouls smelling of gin. There, it is true, he had no boots to
die in had his time come suddenly, but he did not feel the loss of them
except when he went hunting wild pigs with Kusis in the mountains. And
though he had no boots, he was well off in more important things--to
wit, ten pounds of negro-head tobacco, lots of fishing-tackle, a
Winchester rifle and plenty of ammunition, a shirt and trousers of
dungaree, heaps to eat and drink, and the light heart of a boy. What
more could a young fool wish for--in the North-west Pacific. But I want
to tell something of how Denison lived in a place where every prospect
pleased, and where (from a theological point of view) only man was vile.

*****

At daylight he would awaken, and, lying on his bed of mats upon the
cane-work floor, listen to the song of the surf on the barrier reef a
mile away. If it sounded quick and clear it meant no fishing in the blue
water beyond, for the surf would be heavy and the current strong; if it
but gently murmured, he and Kusis and a dozen other brown-skinned men
(Denison was as brown as any of them) would eat a hurried meal of fish
and baked taro, and then carry their red-painted canoes down to the
water, and, paddling out through the passage in the reef, fish for
bonito with thick rods of _pua_ wood and baitless hooks of irridescent
pearl shell.

Then, as the sun came out hot and strong and the trade wind flecked the
ocean swell with white, they would head back for shining Leassé beach,
on which the women and girls awaited their return, some with baskets in
their hands to carry home the fish, and some with gourds of water which,
as the fishermen bent their bodies low, they poured upon them to wash
away the stains of salty spray.

An hour of rest has passed, and then a fat-faced, smiling girl (Denison
dreams of her sometimes, even now) comes to the house to make a bowl of
kava for the white man and Kusis before they go hunting the wild pig in
the mountain forest. There is no ceremony about this kava-drinking as
there is in conventional Samoa; fat-faced Sipi simply sits cross-legged
upon the matted floor and pounds the green root with a rounded piece of
jade upon a hollowed stone.

The kava is drunk, and then Kusis takes off his cumbrous girdle of grass
and replaces it by a narrow band of closely-woven banana fibre, stained
black and yellow (there be fashions in these parts of the world) and
reaches down his pig-spear from the cross-beams overhead, while Tulpé,
his wife, ties cinnet sandals upon the white man's feet. Then, good man
and true, Kusis takes his pipe from his mouth and gives his wife a draw
ere he goes, and the two men step outside upon the hot, gravelly path,
Denison carrying his Winchester and Kusis leading two sad-faced mongrel
dogs. As they pass along the village street other men join them, some
carrying spears and some heavy muskets, and also leading more sad-faced
dogs. Black-haired, oval-faced women and girls come to the doors of the
houses and look indolently at the hunters, but they neither speak nor
smile, for it is not the nature of the Strong's Islanders to speak when
there is no necessity for words. Once, fifty years ago, when they were
numbered by thousands, and their villages but a mile apart along the
coast, it was different; now they are a broken and fast-vanishing race.

As the hunters, walking in single file, disappear into the deep jungle
shades, the women and girls resume their daily tasks. Some, who squat
upon the floor, with thighs and knees together and feet turned outward
and backward, face curious little looms and weave girdles from the
shining fibre of the banana stalk; others, who sit cross-legged, plait
mats or hats of pandanus leaf for their men folk; while outside, in the
cook-sheds, the younger children make ready the earthen ovens of red-hot
stones to cook the sunset meal. Scarcely a word is spoken, though
sometimes the women sing softly together as they weave and stitch.

And so another hour has gone, and the coco-palms along the shore begin
to throw long lines of shadows across the sloping beach. Then far off
a musket-shot sounds, and the women cease their work and listen for
the yelping of the hunters' dogs as they rush at their wounded prey,
battling fiercely for his life upon the thick carpet of forest leaves.

By and by the huntsmen come back, their brown skins dripping with sweat
and their naked legs stained with the bright red clay of the sodden
mountain-paths. Two of them carry slung on a pole a gaunt, razorbacked
boar, with hideous yellow tusks curving backward from his long and
blood-stained snout.

Again the patient women come forth with gourds of water; they pour it
over the heads and bodies of the men, who dry their skins with shreds of
white beaten bark; two sturdy boys light wisps of dry coconut leaves and
pass the flames over the body of the boar in lieu of scalding, and the
melancholy dogs sit around in a circle on their haunches and indulge
in false hopes. Presently, one by one, the men follow Denison and Kusis
into the latter's house and sit down to smoke and talk, while Sipi the
Fat pounds more kava for them to drink. Then mats are unrolled and every
one lies down; and as they sleep the sun touches the sea-rim, swarms of
snowy gulls and sooty terns fly shoreward with lazily flapping wing
to roost, a gleam of torchlight shows here and there along the village
paths, and the island night has come.




THE TROUBLE WITH JINABAN

Palmer, one of Tom de Wolf's traders on the Matelotas

Lagoon in the Western Carolines, was standing at his door, smoking his
pipe and wondering what was best to be done. Behind him, in the big
sitting-room, were his wife and some other native women, conversing in
low tones and looking shudderingly at a basket made of green coconut
leaves which stood in the centre of the matted floor.

Presently the trader turned and motioned one of the women to come to
him.

"Take it away and bury it," he said, "'tis an ill thing for my wife to
see."

The woman, whose eyes were red with weeping, stooped and lifted the
basket; and then a young native lad, nude to the waist, stepped quickly
over to the place where it had lain and sprinkled a handful of white
sand over a broad patch of red which stained the mat.

Palmer, still smoking thoughtfully, watched the rest of the women follow
her who carried the basket away into the grove of breadfruit-trees, and
then sat down upon a bench outside his door.

The sun was blazing hot, and on the broad, glassy expanse of the
slumbering atoll a dim, misty haze, like the last vanishing vapours of
a sea fog in some cold northern clime, hovered low down upon the water;
for early in the day the trade wind had died away in faint, warm gusts,
and left the island and the still lagoon to swelter under the fierce
rays of an all but equatorial sun. Five miles away, on the western side
of the reef-encircled lagoon, a long, low and densely-wooded islet stood
out, its white, dazzling line of beach and verdant palms seeming to
quiver and sway to and fro in the blinding glare of the bright sunlight.
Beyond lay the wide sweep of the blue Pacific, whose gentle undulations
scarce seemed to have strength enough to rise and lave the weed-clad
face of the barrier reef which, for thirty miles, stretched east and
west in an unbroken, sweeping curve.

In Ailap village, where the trader lived, a strange unusual silence
brooded over all; and though under the cool shades of the groves of
breadfruit and orange-trees groups of brown-skinned people were sitting
together, they only spoke in whispered tones, and looked every now and
again at the figure of the white man standing at his door.

And as the people sat together in silence, Palmer, with his bearded
chin resting on the palm of one hand, gazed steadily before him, seeming
oblivious of their presence, for he was thinking deeply, and wondering
what had best be done to rid the island of Jinaban.

Presently a young man, dressed like a seaman and wearing a wide-rimmed
hat of pandanus leaf, came along the path that led from the village to
the trader's house. He stopped for a moment at the gate as if in doubt
whether to open it or not; and then catching sight of Palmer's figure he
pushed it open quickly and walked towards him, and the trader, roused by
the sound of approaching footsteps, raised his head and looked in some
surprise at the new-comer, who was an utter stranger to him.

"Good morning," said the man to Palmer, and the moment he had spoken and
lifted his hat, the trader saw that he was not a white man, for his dark
complexion, wavy black hair and deep-set eyes proclaimed him to be of
mixed blood. Nearly six feet in height, he yet walked and moved with
that particularly easy and graceful manner so noticeable among the
native races of Polynesia, and Palmer was quick to see from his stature
and appearance generally that he was not a Caroline Island half-caste.
And he noticed as well that the stranger had a firm, square-set jaw and
a fearful raw-looking slash across his face that extended from ear to
chin.

"Good morning," he answered. "Do you want to see me?"

"Yes," answered the man, in a slow, hesitating sort of manner. "I
was the second mate of that schooner "--and he waved his hand with a
backward sweep toward the lagoon, where a large white-painted vessel was
being towed down to the passage by her boats, to anchor and wait for the
land-breeze at night--"but last night I had a row with the skipper. He
called me a half-bred Maori nigger, an' so----"

"And so you had a fight?"

"Yes, sir, we had a fight. But he couldn't stand up to me for more than
a couple of rounds; an' sang out for the mate an' carpenter to come and
help him, an' the three of 'em went for me: They got me down at last,
and then the mate gave me a slash across the face with his knife. So,
as I didn't want to get killed, I jumped overboard and swam ashore. I've
been hiding in the village since."

Palmer looked steadily into the man's immovable face, and then said--

"You want a stitch or two put in that cut. Come inside and I'll do it
for you. Your skipper was here at daylight this morning looking for you.
He told me quite a different story; said that you gave him 'lip' and
then struck him."

The half-caste laughed quietly. "He lied, sir. He's a regular bully, and
he and the mate knock the men about something terrible. But he made a
mistake when he started on me and called me a nigger. And if he tries to
bring me aboard of that floating hell again I'll kill him, as sure as my
name is Frank Porter."

The trader's face lightened up. "Are you Frank Porter, the man who saved
the _Marion Renny_ from being cut-off in the Solomon Islands?"

"Yes," answered the half-caste, "I am the man."

Palmer extended his hand. "You're welcome to my house, Frank Porter. And
there's no fear of the captain coming ashore again to look for you. Now
come inside, and let me dress that ugly slash for you."

"Thank you, Mr. Palmer. But I did not come to you for that. I came
to see if you can give me a berth of some sort on your station. I'm a
pretty handy man at almost anything."

The trader thought a moment; then he looked up quickly. "I cannot give
you anything to do on the station--there is nothing _to_ do. But I will
give you five hundred dollars and a home in my house if you will help me
to do one thing."

"What is that?"

"Put a bullet into a man here who has murdered thirty people within ten
years. I cannot do it alone, I have tried and failed, and these people
cannot help me. Come inside, and I'll tell you all about it."

The half-caste followed Palmer into his sitting-room, and the trader,
getting needles and silk thread from his wife, stitched up the wound in
the man's face. Then he gave him a glass of whiskey, and as they smoked
their pipes, told him the story of Jinaban, the Outlaw.

*****

Two years before, when Palmer first landed on the white beach of
Matelotas Lagoon to settle down as a trader for turtle-shell, Jinaban
was one of the three chiefs who ruled over the cluster of palm-clad
islets--the two others were his half-brothers, Jelik and Rao. All
three had met the white man as soon as he landed, and he and they had
exchanged gifts and vows of friendship after the manner of the people of
Las Matelotas.

But Jinaban, who was a man of violent temper, was bitterly aggrieved
when Palmer decided to build his house and trading station in the
village ruled over by his half-brother Jelik. He had long been anxious
to secure a white trader for his own village, and bitter words passed
between Jelik and Raô and himself. Palmer stood by and said nothing. He
had taken an instinctive dislike to Jinaban, whose reputation as a man
of a cruel and sanguinary nature had been known to him long before he
had come to settle in the Carolines. But Palmer was not a man to be
daunted by Jinaban's fierce looks and the bitter epithets he applied to
his half-brothers, whom he accused of "stealing" the white man from him.
He quietly announced his intention of standing to the agreement he had
made with Jelik; and the next day that chief's people set about building
a house for the trader. In a month the house was finished, and Palmer,
who meant to try the lagoon for pearl shell, and thought that his stay
on the island would be a long one, announced his intention of taking
a wife, and asked Jelik for a young girl named Letanë. She was about
seventeen, and her gentle, amiable disposition had attracted him from
the first day he landed on the island. Calling the girl to him, Jelik
questioned her as to her inclinations, and she at once, in the most
innocent and charming manner, expressed her liking for the white
man, but said that her uncle Jinaban, who had gained some idea of her
feelings towards Palmer, had threatened to kill her if she dared
to marry him; for he (Jinaban) had determined that the people of
Ailap--Jelik's village--should not monopolise him altogether, and that a
wife should be chosen from his (Jinaban's) village.

Jelik's face instantly become grave. He knew the rancour of Jinaban's
feelings towards him, and dreaded to incur his further hatred, and soon
acquainted Palmer with his fears. The trader laughed at them, and said
that he would be dictated to by no man as regarded his choice of a wife,
and, drawing the smiling Letanë to him, told the chief to make all haste
with the wedding feast. The news of this soon reached Jinaban, who soon
after made his appearance at Palmer's house accompanied by many old men
of his clan and a young and beautiful girl named Sépé. Trembling with
suppressed rage and excitement, he addressed the trader with all the
eloquence he could command. He was, he said (and with truth), the
greatest of the three brothers in rank and influence, but had yielded
to the white man's desire to live in Ailap under the protection of his
brother Jelik; but neither he (Jinaban) nor his people would put up with
the additional insult of the trader espousing an Ailap girl. And then,
pointing to the girl who accompanied him--a handsome creature about
eighteen or twenty years of age--he earnestly besought Palmer to make
her his wife. Before the trader could frame a reply Letanë, accompanied
by a number of her young girl friends, walked into the room, and,
sitting down beside him, put her hand on his shoulder, and, though her
slender form trembled, gave her uncle and the girl Sépé a look of bold
defiance.

Palmer rose to his feet, and placed his hand on the head of the girl,
who rose with him. "It cannot be, Jinaban. This girl Letanë, who is
of thine own kin, shall be my wife. But let not ill-blood come of it
between thee and me or between thee and her; for I desire to live in
friendship with thee."

Without a word Jinaban sprang to his feet, and, with a glance of bitter
hatred at the trader and the girl who stood beside him, he walked out of
the house, accompanied by his old men and the rejected Sépé, who, as she
turned away, looked scornfully at her rival and spat on the ground.

In a few weeks the marriage took place, and Palmer made the customary
presents to his wife's relatives. To Jinaban--who refused to attend
the feasting and dancing that accompanied the ceremony--he sent a
new fishing-net one hundred fathoms in length, a very valuable and
much-esteemed gift, for the cost of such an article was considerable.
To Jelik, his wife's guardian, he gave a magazine rifle and five hundred
cartridges, and to Raô, the other brother, presents of cloth, tobacco,
and hatchets.

That night, whilst Palmer slept with his bride, Jinaban came to the
house of his brother Jelik. His black eyes gleamed red with anger.

"What right hast thou, my younger brother, to take from the white man
that which I coveted most? Am not I the greater chief, and thy master?
Give me that gun."

Jelik sprang to his feet. "Nay, why shouldst thou covet my one gift from
the white man? Is not the net he gave thee worth twenty such guns as the
one he hath given me?"

Jinaban leapt at his brother's throat, and for a minute or two they
struggled fiercely; then Jelik fell with a groan, for Jinaban stabbed
him in the throat twice. Then seizing the rifle and two bags of
cartridges he sallied out into the village. Behind him, panting with
rage, ran his murdered brother's wife, a young woman of twenty years
of age. She carried an infant in her arms, and was running swiftly,
clutching in her right hand a short dagger.

"Stand, thou coward, Jinaban!" she called, setting the child down in the
path--"stand, thou coward, for though thou hast slain my husband thou
shalt not rob me of that which was his--give me back the gun."

Jinaban laughed fiercely, and his white teeth flashed from his
black-bearded lips; he slipped some cartridges into the rifle. He waited
till the woman was within ten yards of him, then raised the weapon and
shot her dead. And now, his tiger nature aroused to the full, he sprang
into the middle of the village square of Ailap, and began firing at
every person he saw, sparing neither age nor sex. His second brother,
Raô, a courageous young man, seizing the only weapon available--a
seaman's cutlass--rushed forth from his house and, calling upon Jinaban
to lay down his weapon, advanced towards him. Pretending to consent--for
a cartridge had jammed and the rifle would not work--Jinaban held out
the butt to Raô in token of surrender; then the moment Raô grasped it,
he sprang at his throat and bore him to the ground, and, tearing the
cutlass from his hand, he plunged it through and through the prostrate
man's body. Then, with a savage threat against the whole of the murdered
men's families, he turned and fled towards the beach. Dragging a light
canoe down into the water, he sprang into it, and pushed off just as
Palmer appeared on the scene, and, raising his revolver, fired six shots
at the escaping murderer. None of the shots, however, took effect,
and Jinaban, with an oath of vengeance against the white man, paddled
swiftly away and reached the low, densely wooded and uninhabited island
on the western side of the lagoon.

This for two years had now been his lair. Paddling over at dead of night
from time to time, he would stalk, rifle in hand, through the village,
and, entering any house he pleased, demand food and tobacco. And such
was the terror of his name and his chiefly prestige that no one dared
refuse. Sometimes, moved by the lust for slaughter, he would command
that the food he demanded should be carried before him and placed in
his canoe. Then he would shoot the unfortunate bearer dead on the
beach. Against his half-brother's families he manifested the most deadly
hatred; and on one occasion, meeting a girl, a slave of Rao's widow,
on a little islet some miles away from Ailap, he shot the poor child
through her legs, breaking them both, and left her to perish of
starvation. Palmer well knew that he was willingly supplied with food by
the people of his own village, although they asserted their innocence of
aiding him in any way, and expressed the utmost fear and horror of
the outlaw. That his death would be a relief to them as well as to the
people of Ailap was certainly true, but Palmer and his wife Letanë
were well aware that none of Jinaban's own people would ever raise hand
against him; and, indeed, the Ailap people, though they now had the
strongest feelings of friendship for the white man, were so smitten with
terror at the constantly recurring bloody deeds perpetrated by Jinaban,
that they were too terrified to accompany the trader over to the
outlaw's island and track him to his lair. Twice had Palmer crossed over
in the darkness of night, and, Winchester in hand, carefully sought for
traces of Jinaban's hiding-place, but without success. The interior
of the island was a dense thicket of scrub which seemed to defy
penetration. On the last occasion Palmer had hidden among a mass of
broken and vine-covered coral boulders which covered the eastern shore.
Here for a whole night and the following day he remained, keeping a
keen watch upon the line of beach in the hope that he would see Jinaban
carrying his canoe down to the water to make one of his murderous
descents upon the Ailap village. His own canoe he had carefully
concealed among the scrub, and as he had landed on a very dark night
upon a ledge of rocks that stretched from the water's edge to the
thicket, and carried the canoe up, he was sure that no trace of his
landing would be visible to Jinaban. At dark on the following evening he
gave up his quest and paddled slowly over to the village, sick at heart
with fear for his wife Letanë, for the outlaw had made a threat that she
should soon fall a victim to his implacable hatred.

Halfway across the lagoon he heard the sound of two shots, and by its
sharp crack knew that one came from Jinaban's rifle--the rifle he had
given to the slaughtered Jelik. Urging his canoe along the surface of
the quiet water, Palmer soon reached the beach of Ailap village, and
was horrified to learn that the man he had sought had just left after
shooting a lad of fifteen--a cousin of Letanë--whom he had surprised
while fishing in the lagoon. Cutting off the boy's head, Jinaban had
boldly stalked through the village till he reached Palmer's house,
through the open window of which he had thrown his gory trophy, and then
made his escape.

The trader's wife, who at the time was sleeping in the big room of the
house, surrounded by half a dozen natives armed with muskets, at once
sprang up, and, seizing a rifle, started in pursuit, for she feared that
Jinaban had learnt of Palmer's absence, and would wait for and shoot him
as he crossed the lagoon. She managed to reach the beach in time to
see the escaping murderer paddling along in his canoe close in shore.
Kneeling down, she took careful aim and fired. A mocking laugh answered
the shot.

*****

That was the story that Palmer told the half-caste Maori, who listened
to him attentively throughout.

For some minutes, however, after the trader had finished, he did not
speak, and then at last said in his slow, methodical way--

"I will promise you that I'll get you Jinaban, dead or alive, before a
week is out. And I don't want money. But I want you, please, to get
some one of your natives here to come and tell me all they can about
Jinaban's friends in the other village."

Palmer called to his wife. She came in, heavy-eyed and pale-faced, for
the youth whose head she and her women had just buried was much attached
to her, and her husband as well. At that moment the lad's relatives were
searching the lagoon in the hope of finding the body, into which it had
doubtless been thrown by the ruthless hand of Jinaban; and Letanë had
just returned alone to the house.

In a very short time the half-caste learnt from Letanë that Sépé, who
lived in Jinaban's village, was strongly suspected of receiving visits
from the outlaw, and even of visiting the man himself; for on several
occasions she had been absent from her mother's house for two or three
days at a time. And as most of Jinaban's people were in secret sympathy
with their outlawed chief, the girl's movements were never commented on
by the inhabitants of her own village, for fear that the relatives of
the murdered chiefs, Raô and Jelik, and other people of Ailap, would
kill her. But in some way Sépé had betrayed herself, and Letanë was now
having a strict watch kept upon the girl by two or three of her women
attendants whom she had sent to reside in Ijeet, as Jinaban's village
was called. Ostensibly they had gone to visit some relatives there.
Sépé, however, was always on her guard, and so far the spies had learnt
nothing fresh.

At Porter's request the trader's wife gave him a description of Sépé's
appearance, and also described the exact position of the house in which
she lived with her mother. Then the half-caste unfolded his plan to
Palmer and his wife.

"And now," he said, "I must go. If I stay longer it may spoil our plans
by making Jinaban's friend suspicious. Give me the bottle of gin,
and I'll carry it so that every one can see it as I walk through the
village. And you must get all your men out of the way by the time I come
back. They might shoot me, but the women will be too frightened."

Palmer went to his trade room and returned with a large bottle of
Hollands, which he gave to Porter, together with a box of revolver
cartridges; these the half-caste carefully concealed in the bosom of his
singlet. Then, shaking hands with the trader and his wife, he walked out
of the house, down the steps, and along the path to the village.

"Parma," said Letanë to her husband, as they watched the seaman
disappear among the coco-palms, "dost think this man will be true to us
in this thing?"

"Aye," replied the trader, "sure am I of his good faith; for he it
was who four years ago, single-handed, fought two hundred of the wild
man-eaters of the Solomon Islands, when they captured the ship in which
he sailed, and slew every man on board but himself. Twenty-and-three of
those devils of _kai tagata_ (cannibals) did he kill with his Winchester
rifle from the fore-top of the ship, although he was slashed in the
thigh with a deep knife wound, and was faint from loss of blood. And
then when the rest had fled in their canoes he came down and steered
the ship away from the land and sailed her in safety to a place called
Rubiana where white men dwell."

"Ah-h-h!" and Letanë's dark eyes opened wide in admiration.

*****

An hour later Frank Porter, with an half-emptied bottle of liquor placed
before him on the matted floor, was sitting in a house in Jinaban's
village, surrounded by a number of young men and women.

"Come," he said, with drunken hilarity, and speaking in the Ponapé
dialect, which is understood by the people of Las Matelotas, "come,
drink with me;" and pouring out some of the liquor he offered it with
swaying hand to the man nearest him; "drink, I tell thee, for when this
bottle is empty then shall I make the white man give me more."

"Bah!" said a tall, dark-skinned girl, whose head was encircled with a
wreath of red and yellow flowers, and who stood with her rounded arms
folded across her bare bosom, "thou dost but boast. How canst thou
_make_ Parma give thee liquor, if, as thou sayest, thou hast no money?
Is he a child to be frightened by loud words--which are but born in
the belly of _that_" and she laughed and pointed contemptuously at the
bottle beside him.

The half-caste looked at her with drunken gravity.

"Who art thou, saucy fool?" he asked, "to so talk to me? Think ye that
I fear any white man? See!" and staggering to his feet he came over to
where she stood, "seest thou this bloodied cut across my face, which was
given me by a white man, when I fought with, three but last night?"

The girl laughed mockingly. "How know I but that last night thou wert
as drunk as thou art now, and fell on the ship's deck and so cut thy
face, and now would make us think that----"

"Nay, Sépé," broke in a lad who sat near, "'tis true, for I was on the
ship and saw this man fight with three others. He does not lie."

"Lie!" and the half-caste, drawing his knife from its sheath, flashed it
before the assembled natives; "nay, no liar am I, neither a boaster;
and by the gods of my mother's land I shall make this Parma give me more
grog to drink before the night comes, else shall this knife eat into his
heart. Come ye all, and see."

And in another minute, followed by the girl Sépe and a dozen or more
men and women, he sallied out into the road, knife in hand, lurching
up against a palm-tree every now and then, and steadying himself with a
drunken oath.

*****

Sitting or standing about Palmer's house were some scores of native
women, who waited for him to awaken from his afternoon's sleep and open
his store so that they might sell him the pearl-shell that the menfolk
had that day taken from the lagoon. But the white man seemed to sleep
long to-day, and when the people saw Letanë, his wife, coming from
her evening bathe, they were glad, for they knew she would open her
husband's store and buy from them whatever they had to sell. But
suddenly, as she walked slowly along the shaded path, a man sprang out
upon her and seized her by the wrist. It was the half-caste sailor.

"Back!" he shouted warningly to the women, as they rushed towards him,
"back, I say, else do I plunge my knife into this woman's heart." And
then, releasing his hold of Letanë's wrist, he swiftly clasped her round
the waist, and swung her over his shoulder with an exulting laugh. "Tell
ye the white man that his wife shall now be mine, for her beauty hath
eaten away my heart," and he ran swiftly away with his struggling
burden, who seemed too terrified even to call for assistance.

And then as the loud cries of alarm of the women sounded through the
village, Palmer sprang out from his house, pistol in hand, and darted in
pursuit. The half-caste, with a backward glance over his shoulder, saw
him coming.

Dropping the woman, who seemed to have swooned, for she lay motionless
upon the path, Porter awaited the white man, knife in hand, and laughed
fiercely as Palmer, raising his pistol, fired at him thrice. In another
instant they were struggling fiercely together, and a cry of terror
broke from the watching women when they saw the trader fall as if
stabbed or stunned, and the half-caste, leaping upon him, tear the
pistol from his hand, and, with an exultant cry, wave it triumphantly in
the air. Then he fled swiftly through the palm grove towards Ijeet.

When Palmer opened his eyes, Letanë and a number of terrified women were
bending over him, all but Letanë herself imagining he had been stabbed.

"Nay," he said, putting his hand to his head, "I was but stunned. Help
me into my house."

That night the whole population of Ailap came to his house and urged him
to lead them to Ijeet and slay the coward sailor who had sought to take
his life and steal from him his wife.

"Wait," he answered grimly, "wait, I pray thee, O my friends, and then
shalt thou see that which shall gladden thy hearts and mine. And let
none of ye raise his hand against the half-caste till I so bid him."

They wondered at this; but went away contented. Parma was a wise man,
they thought, and knew what was best.

When the house was in darkness, and the trader and his wife lay on their
couch of mats with their sleeping child between them, Palmer laughed to
himself.

"Why dost thou laugh, Parma?" And Letanë turned her big eyes upon his
face.

"Because this man Porter is both wise and brave; and in two days or less
we shall sleep in peace, for Jinaban shall be dead."

*****

Back from the clustering houses of Ijeet village the man who was "wise
and brave" was sitting upon the bole of a fallen coco-palm with his arms
clasped round the waist of the star-eyed Sépé, who listened to him half
in fear, half in admiration.

"Nay," she said presently, in answer to something he had said, "no love
have I for Jinaban; 'tis hate alone that hath led me to aid him, for he
hath sworn to me that I shall yet see Letanë lie dead before me. And for
that do I steal forth at night and take him food."

"Dost thou then love Parma?"

"As much as thou lovest his wife," the girl answered quickly, striking
him petulantly on his knee.

The half-caste laughed. "Those were but the words of a man drunken with
liquor. What care I for her? Thee alone do I love, for thy eyes have
eaten up my heart. And see, when thou hast taken me to Jinaban, and he
and I have killed this Parma, thou shalt run this knife of mine into the
throat of Letanë. And our wedding feast shall wipe out the shame which
she hath put upon thee."

The girl's eyes gleamed. "Are these true words or lies?"

"By my mother's bones, they be true words. Did not I flee to thy house
and bring thee this pistol I wrenched from Parma's hand to show thee
I am no boaster. And as for these three women of Ailap who spy upon
thee--show me where they sleep and I will beat them with a heavy stick
and drive them back to their mistress."

Sépé leant her head upon his shoulder and pressed his hand. "Nay, let
them be; for now do I know thou lovest me. And to-night, when my mother
sleeps, shall we take a canoe and go to Jinaban."

*****

At dawn next morning Palmer was aroused from his sleep by a loud
knocking at the door, and the clamour of many voices.

"Awake, awake, Parma!" cried a man's voice; "awake, for the big sailor
man who tried to kill thee yesterday is crossing the lagoon, and is
paddling swiftly towards thy house. Quick, quick and shoot him ere he
can land."

In an instant the trader and every one of his household sprang from
their couches, the door was thrown open, and Palmer, looking across
the lagoon, which was shining bright in the rays of the rising sun, saw
about a quarter of a mile away, a canoe, which was being urged swiftly
along by Frank Porter and a woman. She was heading directly for his
house, and already Palmer's bodyguard were handling their muskets, and
waiting for him to tell them to fire.

Taking his glass from its rack over the door he levelled it at the
approaching canoe, and looked steadily for less than half a minute, and
then he gave an exulting cry.

"Oh, my friends, this is a lucky day! Lay aside thy guns, and harm not
the sailor; for in that canoe is Jinaban, bound hand and foot. And the
fight that ye saw yesterday between this half-caste and me was but a
cunning plan between us to get Jinaban into our hands; and no harm did
he intend to my wife, for she too knew of our plan."

A murmur of joyful astonishment burst from the assembled natives, and in
another moment they were running after Palmer down to the beach.

The instant the canoe touched the sand, Porter called out in English--

"Collar the girl, Mr. Palmer, and don't let her get near your wife. She
means mischief."

Before she could rise from her seat on the low thwart, Sépé was seized
by two of Palmer's people. Her dark, handsome face was distorted by
passion, but she was too exhausted to speak, and suffered herself to
be led away quietly. And then Jinaban, who lay stretched out on the
outrigger platform of the canoe, with his hands and feet lashed to a
stout pole of green wood, was lifted off.

A few hurried words passed between Palmer and the half-caste, and then
the former directed his men to carry the prisoner up to the house.
This was at once done, amidst the wildest excitement and clamour. The
lashings that bound him to the pole were loosened a little by Palmer's
directions, and then four men with loaded rifles were placed over him.
Then, calling a native to him, Palmer told him to take a conch-shell,
go from village to village, and summon all the people to the white man's
house quickly.

"Tell them to come and see Jinaban die," he said sternly.

As soon as the prisoner had been disposed of for the time being, Palmer
and Porter went into the dining-room, where Letanë had prepared a
hurried breakfast for the half-caste.

"Where is Sépé?" he asked, as he sat down.

"Locked up in there," said Palmer, pointing to one of the store-rooms.

"Poor devil! Don't be too rough on her. I had to lay a stick across her
back pretty often before she would help me to carry Jinaban down to the
canoe. And I had to threaten to shoot her coming across the lagoon. She
wouldn't paddle at first, and I think wanted to capsize the canoe and
escape, until she looked round and saw my pistol pointed at her. Then
she gave in. I wasn't goin' to let Mr. Jinaban drown after all my
trouble. But"--his mouth was stuffed with cold meat and yam as he
spoke--"I'm sorry I had to beat her. An' she's got the idea that your
missus will kill her when I tell you all about her."

Washing down his breakfast with a copious drink of coffee, Porter lit
his pipe, and then, in as few words as possible, told his story. And as
he told it a loud, booming sound rang through the morning air, and the
hurrying tramp of naked feet and excited voices of the gathering people
every moment increased, and "Jinaban!" "Jinaban!" was called from house
to house.

*****

"As soon as the girl an' me got to the island," he said, "she told me to
wait in the canoe. 'All right,' I said, and thinking it would be a good
thing to do, I told her to take the revolver and box of cartridges with
her, just to show them to Jinaban in proof of the story of the fight I
had with you; I thought that if she told him I was armed he might smell
a rat and shoot me from the scrub. An' I quite made up my mind to collar
him alive if I could. The night was very dark, but the girl knew her way
about pretty well, an', leaving me in the canoe, she ran along the beach
and entered the _puka_ scrub. About an hour went by, an' I was beginning
to feel anxious, when she came back. 'Come on,' she said, 'Jinaban will
talk with you.' I got out of the canoe and walked with her along
the beach till we came to what looked like a tunnel in the thick
undergrowth. 'Let me go first,' she said, stooping down, and telling me
to hold on to her grass girdle, she led the way till we came out into an
open spot, and there was Jinaban's house, and Jinaban sitting inside it,
before a fire of coconut shells, handling your revolver and looking
very pleased. He shook hands with me and, I could see at once, believed
everything that Sépé had told him. Then we had a long talk and arranged
matters nicely. I was to stay with him until the first dark, rainy
night. Then we were to come over and hide ourselves in your boat-shed to
wait until you opened your door the first thing in the morning. We were
both to fire together, and bring you down easy. Then Sépé was to settle
her account with your wife while Jinaban rallied the Ijeet people, in
case the Ailap natives wanted to fight. After that he and I were to
divide all the plunder in the house and station between us, take two of
your whaleboats, and with some of his people make for some other island
in the Carolines as quick as possible. And Sépé was to be Mrs. Frank
Porter.

"Then, before he knew what was the matter with him, I hit him under the
ear, and laid him out stiff; and after choking the girl a bit to keep
her quiet, I tied him up safely."

Palmer set his teeth, but said nothing. Then the half-caste, having
finished his pipe, rose.

"What are we going to do with him--hang him, or what?" he inquired,
coolly.

"Stand him out there on the beach and let one of the Ailap people shoot
him."

*****

Jinaban was led forth from Palmer's house into the village square,
and bound with his back to a coconut palm. On three sides of him were
assembled nearly every man, woman, and child on Las Matelotas Lagoon.
Not a sign of fear was visible in his dark, bearded face; only a look
of implacable hatred settled upon it when Palmer, followed by the
half-caste seaman and a servant boy, walked slowly down his verandah
steps and stood in full view of the assemblage. He was unarmed, but the
boy carried his rifle.

Raising his hand to command silence, the murmuring buzz of voices was
instantly hushed, and the trader spoke. There, said he, was the cruel
murderer who had so ruthlessly slain more than a score of men, women,
and children--many of whom were of his own blood. Jinaban must die, and
they must kill him. He himself, although he had good cause to slay him,
would not. Let one of those whose kith and kin had been slain by this
cruel man now take a just vengeance.

A young man stepped out from among the crowd, and Palmer, taking the
rifle from the boy who held it, placed it in his hand. He was the
brother of the girl whom Jinaban had shot through the legs and left to
die of starvation and thirst.

Slowly the young native raised the rifle to his shoulder, glanced along
the barrel, then grounded it on the sand.

"I cannot do it," he said, handing the weapon back. Jinaban heard and
laughed.

"Just what I thought would happen," muttered Palmer to Porter. "We
must hurry things along, even if we have to do it ourselves," and then,
raising his voice, he called out--

"Ten silver dollars to the man who will shoot Jinaban."

No one moved, and a low murmur passed from lip to lip among the crowded
natives. A minute passed.

"Oh, cowards!" said Palmer scornfully. "Twenty dollars!"

"Double it," said the half-caste in a low voice; "and be quick. I can
see some of Jinaban's people looking ugly."

"Forty dollars, then, and ten tins of biscuit to him who will kill this
dog. See, he mocks at us all."

A short, square-built man--a connection by marriage of the murderer's
brother, Rao--sprang into the open, snatched the rifle from Palmer's
hand, and levelled it at Jinaban. But as his eye met those of the
dreaded outlaw his hand shook. He lowered the weapon, and turned to the
white man.

"Parma," he said, giving back the rifle to Porter, "I cannot do it; for
his eye hath killed my heart."

"Ha!" laughed Jinaban, and the group of Ijeet men swayed to and fro, and
a savage light came into Palmer's eyes. He looked at Porter, who at
that moment raised the rifle and fired, and a man who was approaching
Jinaban, knife in hand, to cut his bonds, spun round and fell upon the
sand with a broken back. In a moment the crowd of Ijeet men drew off.

"Back, back," cried the half-caste, fiercely, springing towards them and
menacing them with the butt of his empty rifle, and then hurling it from
him he leaped back and picked up something that stood leaning up against
the wall of Palmer's boat-shed. It was a carpenter's broad-axe--a
fearful looking weapon, with a stout handle and a blade fourteen inches
across.

"Look," he cried. "This man must die. And all the men of Ailap are
cowards, else would this murderer and devil now be dead, and his blood
running out upon the sand. But, as for me who fear him not--see!"

He took two steps forward to Jinaban and swung the axe. It clove through
the murderer's shaggy head and sank deep down into his chest.

*****

Two days later Sépé, who had made her peace with Palmer's wife, met the
sailor as he was walking down to the beach to bathe.

"Wilt thou keep thy promise and marry me?" she asked.

"No," answered the half-caste, pushing her aside roughly; "marriage with
thee or any other woman is not to my mind. But go to the white man and
he will give thee the forty dollars and ten tins of biscuit instead.
Something thou dost deserve, but it shall not be me."



THE END





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