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Charles Dickens > Perils of Certain English Prisoners > Story

Perils of Certain English Prisoners



It was in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and forty-
four, that I, Gill Davis to command, His Mark, having then the
honour to be a private in the Royal Marines, stood a-leaning over
the bulwarks of the armed sloop Christopher Columbus, in the South
American waters off the Mosquito shore.

My lady remarks to me, before I go any further, that there is no
such christian-name as Gill, and that her confident opinion is, that
the name given to me in the baptism wherein I was made, &c., was
Gilbert. She is certain to be right, but I never heard of it. I
was a foundling child, picked up somewhere or another, and I always
understood my christian-name to be Gill. It is true that I was
called Gills when employed at Snorridge Bottom betwixt Chatham and
Maidstone to frighten birds; but that had nothing to do with the
Baptism wherein I was made, &c., and wherein a number of things were
promised for me by somebody, who let me alone ever afterwards as to
performing any of them, and who, I consider, must have been the
Beadle. Such name of Gills was entirely owing to my cheeks, or
gills, which at that time of my life were of a raspy description.

My lady stops me again, before I go any further, by laughing exactly
in her old way and waving the feather of her pen at me. That action
on her part, calls to my mind as I look at her hand with the rings
on it--Well! I won't! To be sure it will come in, in its own
place. But it's always strange to me, noticing the quiet hand, and
noticing it (as I have done, you know, so many times) a-fondling
children and grandchildren asleep, to think that when blood and
honour were up--there! I won't! not at present!--Scratch it out.

She won't scratch it out, and quite honourable; because we have made
an understanding that everything is to be taken down, and that
nothing that is once taken down shall be scratched out. I have the
great misfortune not to be able to read and write, and I am speaking
my true and faithful account of those Adventures, and my lady is
writing it, word for word.

I say, there I was, a-leaning over the bulwarks of the sloop
Christopher Columbus in the South American waters off the Mosquito
shore: a subject of his Gracious Majesty King George of England,
and a private in the Royal Marines.

In those climates, you don't want to do much. I was doing nothing.
I was thinking of the shepherd (my father, I wonder?) on the
hillsides by Snorridge Bottom, with a long staff, and with a rough
white coat in all weathers all the year round, who used to let me
lie in a corner of his hut by night, and who used to let me go about
with him and his sheep by day when I could get nothing else to do,
and who used to give me so little of his victuals and so much of his
staff, that I ran away from him--which was what he wanted all along,
I expect--to be knocked about the world in preference to Snorridge
Bottom. I had been knocked about the world for nine-and-twenty
years in all, when I stood looking along those bright blue South
American Waters. Looking after the shepherd, I may say. Watching
him in a half-waking dream, with my eyes half-shut, as he, and his
flock of sheep, and his two dogs, seemed to move away from the
ship's side, far away over the blue water, and go right down into
the sky.

"It's rising out of the water, steady," a voice said close to me. I
had been thinking on so, that it like woke me with a start, though
it was no stranger voice than the voice of Harry Charker, my own

"What's rising out of the water, steady?" I asked my comrade.

"What?" says he. "The Island."

"O! The Island!" says I, turning my eyes towards it. "True. I
forgot the Island."

"Forgot the port you're going to? That's odd, ain't it?"

"It is odd," says I.

"And odd," he said, slowly considering with himself, "ain't even.
Is it, Gill?"

He had always a remark just like that to make, and seldom another.
As soon as he had brought a thing round to what it was not, he was
satisfied. He was one of the best of men, and, in a certain sort of
a way, one with the least to say for himself. I qualify it,
because, besides being able to read and write like a Quarter-master,
he had always one most excellent idea in his mind. That was, Duty.
Upon my soul, I don't believe, though I admire learning beyond
everything, that he could have got a better idea out of all the
books in the world, if he had learnt them every word, and been the
cleverest of scholars.

My comrade and I had been quartered in Jamaica, and from there we
had been drafted off to the British settlement of Belize, lying away
West and North of the Mosquito coast. At Belize there had been
great alarm of one cruel gang of pirates (there were always more
pirates than enough in those Caribbean Seas), and as they got the
better of our English cruisers by running into out-of-the-way creeks
and shallows, and taking the land when they were hotly pressed, the
governor of Belize had received orders from home to keep a sharp
look-out for them along shore. Now, there was an armed sloop came
once a-year from Port Royal, Jamaica, to the Island, laden with all
manner of necessaries, to eat, and to drink, and to wear, and to use
in various ways; and it was aboard of that sloop which had touched
at Belize, that I was a-standing, leaning over the bulwarks.

The Island was occupied by a very small English colony. It had been
given the name of Silver-Store. The reason of its being so called,
was, that the English colony owned and worked a silver-mine over on
the mainland, in Honduras, and used this Island as a safe and
convenient place to store their silver in, until it was annually
fetched away by the sloop. It was brought down from the mine to the
coast on the backs of mules, attended by friendly Indians and
guarded by white men; from thence it was conveyed over to Silver-
Store, when the weather was fair, in the canoes of that country;
from Silver-Store, it was carried to Jamaica by the armed sloop once
a-year, as I have already mentioned; from Jamaica, it went, of
course, all over the world.

How I came to be aboard the armed sloop, is easily told. Four-and-
twenty marines under command of a lieutenant--that officer's name
was Linderwood--had been told off at Belize, to proceed to Silver-
Store, in aid of boats and seamen stationed there for the chase of
the Pirates. The Island was considered a good post of observation
against the pirates, both by land and sea; neither the pirate ship
nor yet her boats had been seen by any of us, but they had been so
much heard of, that the reinforcement was sent. Of that party, I
was one. It included a corporal and a sergeant. Charker was
corporal, and the sergeant's name was Drooce. He was the most
tyrannical non-commissioned officer in His Majesty's service.

The night came on, soon after I had had the foregoing words with
Charker. All the wonderful bright colours went out of the sea and
sky in a few minutes, and all the stars in the Heavens seemed to
shine out together, and to look down at themselves in the sea, over
one another's shoulders, millions deep. Next morning, we cast
anchor off the Island. There was a snug harbour within a little
reef; there was a sandy beach; there were cocoa-nut trees with high
straight stems, quite bare, and foliage at the top like plumes of
magnificent green feathers; there were all the objects that are
usually seen in those parts, and I am not going to describe them,
having something else to tell about.

Great rejoicings, to be sure, were made on our arrival. All the
flags in the place were hoisted, all the guns in the place were
fired, and all the people in the place came down to look at us. One
of those Sambo fellows--they call those natives Sambos, when they
are half-negro and half-Indian--had come off outside the reef, to
pilot us in, and remained on board after we had let go our anchor.
He was called Christian George King, and was fonder of all hands
than anybody else was. Now, I confess, for myself, that on that
first day, if I had been captain of the Christopher Columbus,
instead of private in the Royal Marines, I should have kicked
Christian George King--who was no more a Christian than he was a
King or a George--over the side, without exactly knowing why, except
that it was the right thing to do.

But, I must likewise confess, that I was not in a particularly
pleasant humour, when I stood under arms that morning, aboard the
Christopher Columbus in the harbour of the Island of Silver-Store.
I had had a hard life, and the life of the English on the Island
seemed too easy and too gay to please me. "Here you are," I thought
to myself, "good scholars and good livers; able to read what you
like, able to write what you like, able to eat and drink what you
like, and spend what you like, and do what you like; and much you
care for a poor, ignorant Private in the Royal Marines! Yet it's
hard, too, I think, that you should have all the half-pence, and I
all the kicks; you all the smooth, and I all the rough; you all the
oil, and I all the vinegar." It was as envious a thing to think as
might be, let alone its being nonsensical; but, I thought it. I
took it so much amiss, that, when a very beautiful young English
lady came aboard, I grunted to myself, "Ah! you have got a lover,
I'll be bound!" As if there was any new offence to me in that, if
she had!

She was sister to the captain of our sloop, who had been in a poor
way for some time, and who was so ill then that he was obliged to be
carried ashore. She was the child of a military officer, and had
come out there with her sister, who was married to one of the owners
of the silver-mine, and who had three children with her. It was
easy to see that she was the light and spirit of the Island. After
I had got a good look at her, I grunted to myself again, in an even
worse state of mind than before, "I'll be damned, if I don't hate
him, whoever he is!"

My officer, Lieutenant Linderwood, was as ill as the captain of the
sloop, and was carried ashore, too. They were both young men of
about my age, who had been delicate in the West India climate. I
even took that in bad part. I thought I was much fitter for the
work than they were, and that if all of us had our deserts, I should
be both of them rolled into one. (It may be imagined what sort of
an officer of marines I should have made, without the power of
reading a written order. And as to any knowledge how to command the
sloop--Lord! I should have sunk her in a quarter of an hour!)

However, such were my reflections; and when we men were ashore and
dismissed, I strolled about the place along with Charker, making my
observations in a similar spirit.

It was a pretty place: in all its arrangements partly South
American and partly English, and very agreeable to look at on that
account, being like a bit of home that had got chipped off and had
floated away to that spot, accommodating itself to circumstances as
it drifted along. The huts of the Sambos, to the number of five-
and-twenty, perhaps, were down by the beach to the left of the
anchorage. On the right was a sort of barrack, with a South
American Flag and the Union Jack, flying from the same staff, where
the little English colony could all come together, if they saw
occasion. It was a walled square of building, with a sort of
pleasure-ground inside, and inside that again a sunken block like a
powder magazine, with a little square trench round it, and steps
down to the door. Charker and I were looking in at the gate, which
was not guarded; and I had said to Charker, in reference to the bit
like a powder magazine, "That's where they keep the silver you see;"
and Charker had said to me, after thinking it over, "And silver
ain't gold. Is it, Gill?" when the beautiful young English lady I
had been so bilious about, looked out of a door, or a window--at all
events looked out, from under a bright awning. She no sooner saw us
two in uniform, than she came out so quickly that she was still
putting on her broad Mexican hat of plaited straw when we saluted.

"Would you like to come in," she said, "and see the place? It is
rather a curious place."

We thanked the young lady, and said we didn't wish to be
troublesome; but, she said it could be no trouble to an English
soldier's daughter, to show English soldiers how their countrymen
and country-women fared, so far away from England; and consequently
we saluted again, and went in. Then, as we stood in the shade, she
showed us (being as affable as beautiful), how the different
families lived in their separate houses, and how there was a general
house for stores, and a general reading-room, and a general room for
music and dancing, and a room for Church; and how there were other
houses on the rising ground called the Signal Hill, where they lived
in the hotter weather.

"Your officer has been carried up there," she said, "and my brother,
too, for the better air. At present, our few residents are
dispersed over both spots: deducting, that is to say, such of our
number as are always going to, or coming from, or staying at, the

("He is among one of those parties," I thought, "and I wish somebody
would knock his head off.")

"Some of our married ladies live here," she said, "during at least
half the year, as lonely as widows, with their children."

"Many children here, ma'am?"

"Seventeen. There are thirteen married ladies, and there are eight
like me."

There were not eight like her--there was not one like her--in the
world. She meant single.

"Which, with about thirty Englishmen of various degrees," said the
young lady, "form the little colony now on the Island. I don't
count the sailors, for they don't belong to us. Nor the soldiers,"
she gave us a gracious smile when she spoke of the soldiers, "for
the same reason."

"Nor the Sambos, ma'am," said I.


"Under your favour, and with your leave, ma'am," said I, "are they

"Perfectly! We are all very kind to them, and they are very
grateful to us."

"Indeed, ma'am? Now--Christian George King?--"

"Very much attached to us all. Would die for us."

She was, as in my uneducated way I have observed, very beautiful
women almost always to be, so composed, that her composure gave
great weight to what she said, and I believed it.

Then, she pointed out to us the building like a powder magazine, and
explained to us in what manner the silver was brought from the mine,
and was brought over from the mainland, and was stored here. The
Christopher Columbus would have a rich lading, she said, for there
had been a great yield that year, a much richer yield than usual,
and there was a chest of jewels besides the silver.

When we had looked about us, and were getting sheepish, through
fearing we were troublesome, she turned us over to a young woman,
English born but West India bred, who served her as her maid. This
young woman was the widow of a non-commissioned officer in a
regiment of the line. She had got married and widowed at St.
Vincent, with only a few months between the two events. She was a
little saucy woman, with a bright pair of eyes, rather a neat little
foot and figure, and rather a neat little turned-up nose. The sort
of young woman, I considered at the time, who appeared to invite you
to give her a kiss, and who would have slapped your face if you
accepted the invitation.

I couldn't make out her name at first; for, when she gave it in
answer to my inquiry, it sounded like Beltot, which didn't sound
right. But, when we became better acquainted--which was while
Charker and I were drinking sugar-cane sangaree, which she made in a
most excellent manner--I found that her Christian name was Isabella,
which they shortened into Bell, and that the name of the deceased
non-commissioned officer was Tott. Being the kind of neat little
woman it was natural to make a toy of--I never saw a woman so like a
toy in my life--she had got the plaything name of Belltott. In
short, she had no other name on the island. Even Mr. Commissioner
Pordage (and he was a grave one!) formally addressed her as Mrs.
Belltott, but, I shall come to Mr. Commissioner Pordage presently.

The name of the captain of the sloop was Captain Maryon, and
therefore it was no news to hear from Mrs. Belltott, that his
sister, the beautiful unmarried young English lady, was Miss Maryon.
The novelty was, that her christian-name was Marion too. Marion
Maryon. Many a time I have run off those two names in my thoughts,
like a bit of verse. Oh many, and many, and many a time!

We saw out all the drink that was produced, like good men and true,
and then took our leaves, and went down to the beach. The weather
was beautiful; the wind steady, low, and gentle; the island, a
picture; the sea, a picture; the sky, a picture. In that country
there are two rainy seasons in the year. One sets in at about our
English Midsummer; the other, about a fortnight after our English
Michaelmas. It was the beginning of August at that time; the first
of these rainy seasons was well over; and everything was in its most
beautiful growth, and had its loveliest look upon it.

"They enjoy themselves here," I says to Charker, turning surly
again. "This is better than private-soldiering."

We had come down to the beach, to be friendly with the boat's-crew
who were camped and hutted there; and we were approaching towards
their quarters over the sand, when Christian George King comes up
from the landing-place at a wolf's-trot, crying, "Yup, So-Jeer!"--
which was that Sambo Pilot's barbarous way of saying, Hallo,
Soldier! I have stated myself to be a man of no learning, and, if I
entertain prejudices, I hope allowance may be made. I will now
confess to one. It may be a right one or it may be a wrong one;
but, I never did like Natives, except in the form of oysters.

So, when Christian George King, who was individually unpleasant to
me besides, comes a trotting along the sand, clucking, "Yup, So-
Jeer!" I had a thundering good mind to let fly at him with my
right. I certainly should have done it, but that it would have
exposed me to reprimand.

"Yup, So-Jeer!" says he. "Bad job."

"What do you mean?" says I.

"Yup, So-Jeer!" says he, "Ship Leakee."

"Ship leaky?" says I.

"Iss," says he, with a nod that looked as if it was jerked out of
him by a most violent hiccup--which is the way with those savages.

I cast my eyes at Charker, and we both heard the pumps going aboard
the sloop, and saw the signal run up, "Come on board; hands wanted
from the shore." In no time some of the sloop's liberty-men were
already running down to the water's edge, and the party of seamen,
under orders against the Pirates, were putting off to the Columbus
in two boats.

"O Christian George King sar berry sorry!" says that Sambo vagabond,
then. "Christian George King cry, English fashion!" His English
fashion of crying was to screw his black knuckles into his eyes,
howl like a dog, and roll himself on his back on the sand. It was
trying not to kick him, but I gave Charker the word, "Double-quick,
Harry!" and we got down to the water's edge, and got on board the

By some means or other, she had sprung such a leak, that no pumping
would keep her free; and what between the two fears that she would
go down in the harbour, and that, even if she did not, all the
supplies she had brought for the little colony would be destroyed by
the sea-water as it rose in her, there was great confusion. In the
midst of it, Captain Maryon was heard hailing from the beach. He
had been carried down in his hammock, and looked very bad; but he
insisted on being stood there on his feet; and I saw him, myself,
come off in the boat, sitting upright in the stern-sheets, as if
nothing was wrong with him.

A quick sort of council was held, and Captain Maryon soon resolved
that we must all fall to work to get the cargo out, and that when
that was done, the guns and heavy matters must be got out, and that
the sloop must be hauled ashore, and careened, and the leak stopped.
We were all mustered (the Pirate-Chace party volunteering), and told
off into parties, with so many hours of spell and so many hours of
relief, and we all went at it with a will. Christian George King
was entered one of the party in which I worked, at his own request,
and he went at it with as good a will as any of the rest. He went
at it with so much heartiness, to say the truth, that he rose in my
good opinion almost as fast as the water rose in the ship. Which
was fast enough, and faster.

Mr. Commissioner Pordage kept in a red-and-black japanned box, like
a family lump-sugar box, some document or other, which some Sambo
chief or other had got drunk and spilt some ink over (as well as I
could understand the matter), and by that means had given up lawful
possession of the Island. Through having hold of this box, Mr.
Pordage got his title of Commissioner. He was styled Consul too,
and spoke of himself as "Government."

He was a stiff-jointed, high-nosed old gentleman, without an ounce
of fat on him, of a very angry temper and a very yellow complexion.
Mrs. Commissioner Pordage, making allowance for difference of sex,
was much the same. Mr. Kitten, a small, youngish, bald, botanical
and mineralogical gentleman, also connected with the mine--but
everybody there was that, more or less--was sometimes called by Mr.
Commissioner Pordage, his Vice-commissioner, and sometimes his
Deputy-consul. Or sometimes he spoke of Mr. Kitten, merely as being
"under Government."

The beach was beginning to be a lively scene with the preparations
for careening the sloop, and with cargo, and spars, and rigging, and
water-casks, dotted about it, and with temporary quarters for the
men rising up there out of such sails and odds and ends as could be
best set on one side to make them, when Mr. Commissioner Pordage
comes down in a high fluster, and asks for Captain Maryon. The
Captain, ill as he was, was slung in his hammock betwixt two trees,
that he might direct; and he raised his head, and answered for

"Captain Maryon," cries Mr. Commissioner Pordage, "this is not
official. This is not regular."

"Sir," says the Captain, "it hath been arranged with the clerk and
supercargo, that you should be communicated with, and requested to
render any little assistance that may lie in your power. I am quite
certain that hath been duly done."

"Captain Maryon," replied Mr. Commissioner Pordage, "there hath been
no written correspondence. No documents have passed, no memoranda
have been made, no minutes have been made, no entries and counter-
entries appear in the official muniments. This is indecent. I call
upon you, sir, to desist, until all is regular, or Government will
take this up."

"Sir," says Captain Maryon, chafing a little, as he looked out of
his hammock; "between the chances of Government taking this up, and
my ship taking herself down, I much prefer to trust myself to the

"You do, sir?" cries Mr. Commissioner Pordage.

"I do, sir," says Captain Maryon, lying down again.

"Then, Mr. Kitten," says the Commissioner, "send up instantly for my
Diplomatic coat."

He was dressed in a linen suit at that moment; but, Mr. Kitten
started off himself and brought down the Diplomatic coat, which was
a blue cloth one, gold-laced, and with a crown on the button.

"Now, Mr. Kitten," says Pordage, "I instruct you, as Vice-
commissioner, and Deputy-consul of this place, to demand of Captain
Maryon, of the sloop Christopher Columbus, whether he drives me to
the act of putting this coat on?"

"Mr. Pordage," says Captain Maryon, looking out of his hammock
again, "as I can hear what you say, I can answer it without
troubling the gentleman. I should be sorry that you should be at
the pains of putting on too hot a coat on my account; but,
otherwise, you may put it on hind-side before, or inside-out, or
with your legs in the sleeves, or your head in the skirts, for any
objection that I have to offer to your thoroughly pleasing

"Very good, Captain Maryon," says Pordage, in a tremendous passion.
"Very good, sir. Be the consequences on your own head! Mr. Kitten,
as it has come to this, help me on with it."

When he had given that order, he walked off in the coat, and all our
names were taken, and I was afterwards told that Mr. Kitten wrote
from his dictation more than a bushel of large paper on the subject,
which cost more before it was done with, than ever could be
calculated, and which only got done with after all, by being lost.

Our work went on merrily, nevertheless, and the Christopher
Columbus, hauled up, lay helpless on her side like a great fish out
of water. While she was in that state, there was a feast, or a
ball, or an entertainment, or more properly all three together,
given us in honour of the ship, and the ship's company, and the
other visitors. At that assembly, I believe, I saw all the
inhabitants then upon the Island, without any exception. I took no
particular notice of more than a few, but I found it very agreeable
in that little corner of the world to see the children, who were of
all ages, and mostly very pretty--as they mostly are. There was one
handsome elderly lady, with very dark eyes and gray hair, that I
inquired about. I was told that her name was Mrs. Venning; and her
married daughter, a fair slight thing, was pointed out to me by the
name of Fanny Fisher. Quite a child she looked, with a little copy
of herself holding to her dress; and her husband, just come back
from the mine, exceeding proud of her. They were a good-looking set
of people on the whole, but I didn't like them. I was out of sorts;
in conversation with Charker, I found fault with all of them. I
said of Mrs. Venning, she was proud; of Mrs. Fisher, she was a
delicate little baby-fool. What did I think of this one? Why, he
was a fine gentleman. What did I say to that one? Why, she was a
fine lady. What could you expect them to be (I asked Charker),
nursed in that climate, with the tropical night shining for them,
musical instruments playing to them, great trees bending over them,
soft lamps lighting them, fire-flies sparkling in among them, bright
flowers and birds brought into existence to please their eyes,
delicious drinks to be had for the pouring out, delicious fruits to
be got for the picking, and every one dancing and murmuring happily
in the scented air, with the sea breaking low on the reef for a
pleasant chorus.

"Fine gentlemen and fine ladies, Harry?" I says to Charker. "Yes, I
think so! Dolls! Dolls! Not the sort of stuff for wear, that
comes of poor private soldiering in the Royal Marines!"

However, I could not gainsay that they were very hospitable people,
and that they treated us uncommonly well. Every man of us was at
the entertainment, and Mrs. Belltott had more partners than she
could dance with: though she danced all night, too. As to Jack
(whether of the Christopher Columbus, or of the Pirate pursuit
party, it made no difference), he danced with his brother Jack,
danced with himself, danced with the moon, the stars, the trees, the
prospect, anything. I didn't greatly take to the chief-officer of
that party, with his bright eyes, brown face, and easy figure. I
didn't much like his way when he first happened to come where we
were, with Miss Maryon on his arm. "O, Captain Carton," she says,
"here are two friends of mine!" He says, "Indeed? These two
Marines?"--meaning Charker and self. "Yes," says she, "I showed
these two friends of mine when they first came, all the wonders of
Silver-Store." He gave us a laughing look, and says he, "You are in
luck, men. I would be disrated and go before the mast to-morrow, to
be shown the way upward again by such a guide. You are in luck,
men." When we had saluted, and he and the lady had waltzed away, I
said, "You are a pretty follow, too, to talk of luck. You may go to
the Devil!"

Mr. Commissioner Pordage and Mrs. Commissioner, showed among the
company on that occasion like the King and Queen of a much Greater
Britain than Great Britain. Only two other circumstances in that
jovial night made much separate impression on me. One was this. A
man in our draft of marines, named Tom Packer, a wild unsteady young
fellow, but the son of a respectable shipwright in Portsmouth Yard,
and a good scholar who had been well brought up, comes to me after a
spell of dancing, and takes me aside by the elbow, and says,
swearing angrily:

"Gill Davis, I hope I may not be the death of Sergeant Drooce one

Now, I knew Drooce had always borne particularly hard on this man,
and I knew this man to be of a very hot temper: so, I said:

"Tut, nonsense! don't talk so to me! If there's a man in the corps
who scorns the name of an assassin, that man and Tom Packer are

Tom wipes his head, being in a mortal sweat, and says he:

"I hope so, but I can't answer for myself when he lords it over me,
as he has just now done, before a woman. I tell you what, Gill!
Mark my words! It will go hard with Sergeant Drooce, if ever we are
in an engagement together, and he has to look to me to save him.
Let him say a prayer then, if he knows one, for it's all over with
him, and he is on his Death-bed. Mark my words!"

I did mark his words, and very soon afterwards, too, as will shortly
be taken down.

The other circumstance that I noticed at that ball, was, the gaiety
and attachment of Christian George King. The innocent spirits that
Sambo Pilot was in, and the impossibility he found himself under of
showing all the little colony, but especially the ladies and
children, how fond he was of them, how devoted to them, and how
faithful to them for life and death, for present, future, and
everlasting, made a great impression on me. If ever a man, Sambo or
no Sambo, was trustful and trusted, to what may be called quite an
infantine and sweetly beautiful extent, surely, I thought that
morning when I did at last lie down to rest, it was that Sambo
Pilot, Christian George King.

This may account for my dreaming of him. He stuck in my sleep,
cornerwise, and I couldn't get him out. He was always flitting
about me, dancing round me, and peeping in over my hammock, though I
woke and dozed off again fifty times. At last, when I opened my
eyes, there he really was, looking in at the open side of the little
dark hut; which was made of leaves, and had Charker's hammock slung
in it as well as mine.

"So-Jeer!" says he, in a sort of a low croak. "Yup!"

"Hallo!" says I, starting up. "What? You are there, are you?"

"Iss," says he. "Christian George King got news."

"What news has he got?"

"Pirates out!"

I was on my feet in a second. So was Charker. We were both aware
that Captain Carton, in command of the boats, constantly watched the
mainland for a secret signal, though, of course, it was not known to
such as us what the signal was.

Christian George King had vanished before we touched the ground.
But, the word was already passing from hut to hut to turn out
quietly, and we knew that the nimble barbarian had got hold of the
truth, or something near it.

In a space among the trees behind the encampment of us visitors,
naval and military, was a snugly-screened spot, where we kept the
stores that were in use, and did our cookery. The word was passed
to assemble here. It was very quickly given, and was given (so far
as we were concerned) by Sergeant Drooce, who was as good in a
soldier point of view, as he was bad in a tyrannical one. We were
ordered to drop into this space, quietly, behind the trees, one by
one. As we assembled here, the seamen assembled too. Within ten
minutes, as I should estimate, we were all here, except the usual
guard upon the beach. The beach (we could see it through the wood)
looked as it always had done in the hottest time of the day. The
guard were in the shadow of the sloop's hull, and nothing was moving
but the sea,--and that moved very faintly. Work had always been
knocked off at that hour, until the sun grew less fierce, and the
sea-breeze rose; so that its being holiday with us, made no
difference, just then, in the look of the place. But I may mention
that it was a holiday, and the first we had had since our hard work
began. Last night's ball had been given, on the leak's being
repaired, and the careening done. The worst of the work was over,
and to-morrow we were to begin to get the sloop afloat again.

We marines were now drawn up here under arms. The chace-party were
drawn up separate. The men of the Columbus were drawn up separate.
The officers stepped out into the midst of the three parties, and
spoke so as all might hear. Captain Carton was the officer in
command, and he had a spy-glass in his hand. His coxswain stood by
him with another spy-glass, and with a slate on which he seemed to
have been taking down signals.

"Now, men!" says Captain Carton; "I have to let you know, for your
satisfaction: Firstly, that there are ten pirate-boats, strongly
manned and armed, lying hidden up a creek yonder on the coast, under
the overhanging branches of the dense trees. Secondly, that they
will certainly come out this night when the moon rises, on a
pillaging and murdering expedition, of which some part of the
mainland is the object. Thirdly--don't cheer, men!--that we will
give chace, and, if we can get at them, rid the world of them,
please God!"

Nobody spoke, that I heard, and nobody moved, that I saw. Yet there
was a kind of ring, as if every man answered and approved with the
best blood that was inside of him.

"Sir," says Captain Maryon, "I beg to volunteer on this service,
with my boats. My people volunteer, to the ship's boys."

"In His Majesty's name and service," the other answers, touching his
hat, "I accept your aid with pleasure. Lieutenant Linderwood, how
will you divide your men?"

I was ashamed--I give it out to be written down as large and plain
as possible--I was heart and soul ashamed of my thoughts of those
two sick officers, Captain Maryon and Lieutenant Linderwood, when I
saw them, then and there. The spirit in those two gentlemen beat
down their illness (and very ill I knew them to be) like Saint
George beating down the Dragon. Pain and weakness, want of ease and
want of rest, had no more place in their minds than fear itself.
Meaning now to express for my lady to write down, exactly what I
felt then and there, I felt this: "You two brave fellows that I had
been so grudgeful of, I know that if you were dying you would put it
off to get up and do your best, and then you would be so modest that
in lying down again to die, you would hardly say, 'I did it!'"

It did me good. It really did me good.

But, to go back to where I broke off. Says Captain Carton to
Lieutenant Linderwood, "Sir, how will you divide your men? There is
not room for all; and a few men should, in any case, be left here."

There was some debate about it. At last, it was resolved to leave
eight Marines and four seamen on the Island, besides the sloop's two
boys. And because it was considered that the friendly Sambos would
only want to be commanded in case of any danger (though none at all
was apprehended there), the officers were in favour of leaving the
two non-commissioned officers, Drooce and Charker. It was a heavy
disappointment to them, just as my being one of the left was a heavy
disappointment to me--then, but not soon afterwards. We men drew
lots for it, and I drew "Island." So did Tom Packer. So of course,
did four more of our rank and file.

When this was settled, verbal instructions were given to all hands
to keep the intended expedition secret, in order that the women and
children might not be alarmed, or the expedition put in a difficulty
by more volunteers. The assembly was to be on that same spot at
sunset. Every man was to keep up an appearance, meanwhile, of
occupying himself in his usual way. That is to say, every man
excepting four old trusty seamen, who were appointed, with an
officer, to see to the arms and ammunition, and to muffle the
rullocks of the boats, and to make everything as trim and swift and
silent as it could be made.

The Sambo Pilot had been present all the while, in case of his being
wanted, and had said to the officer in command, five hundred times
over if he had said it once, that Christian George King would stay
with the So-Jeers, and take care of the booffer ladies and the
booffer childs--booffer being that native's expression for
beautiful. He was now asked a few questions concerning the putting
off of the boats, and in particular whether there was any way of
embarking at the back of the Island: which Captain Carton would
have half liked to do, and then have dropped round in its shadow and
slanted across to the main. But, "No," says Christian George King.
"No, no, no! Told you so, ten time. No, no, no! All reef, all
rock, all swim, all drown!" Striking out as he said it, like a
swimmer gone mad, and turning over on his back on dry land, and
spluttering himself to death, in a manner that made him quite an

The sun went down, after appearing to be a long time about it, and
the assembly was called. Every man answered to his name, of course,
and was at his post. It was not yet black dark, and the roll was
only just gone through, when up comes Mr. Commissioner Pordage with
his Diplomatic coat on.

"Captain Carton," says he, "Sir, what is this?"

"This, Mr. Commissioner" (he was very short with him), "is an
expedition against the Pirates. It is a secret expedition, so
please to keep it a secret."

"Sir," says Commissioner Pordage, "I trust there is going to be no
unnecessary cruelty committed?"

"Sir," returns the officer, "I trust not."

"That is not enough, sir," cries Commissioner Pordage, getting
wroth. "Captain Carton, I give you notice. Government requires you
to treat the enemy with great delicacy, consideration, clemency, and

"Sir," says Captain Carton, "I am an English officer, commanding
English Men, and I hope I am not likely to disappoint the
Government's just expectations. But, I presume you know that these
villains under their black flag have despoiled our countrymen of
their property, burnt their homes, barbarously murdered them and
their little children, and worse than murdered their wives and

"Perhaps I do, Captain Carton," answers Pordage, waving his hand,
with dignity; "perhaps I do not. It is not customary, sir, for
Government to commit itself."

"It matters very little, Mr. Pordage, whether or no. Believing that
I hold my commission by the allowance of God, and not that I have
received it direct from the Devil, I shall certainly use it, with
all avoidance of unnecessary suffering and with all merciful
swiftness of execution, to exterminate these people from the face of
the earth. Let me recommend you to go home, sir, and to keep out of
the night-air."

Never another syllable did that officer say to the Commissioner, but
turned away to his men. The Commissioner buttoned his Diplomatic
coat to the chin, said, "Mr. Kitten, attend me!" gasped, half choked
himself, and took himself off.

It now fell very dark, indeed. I have seldom, if ever, seen it
darker, nor yet so dark. The moon was not due until one in the
morning, and it was but a little after nine when our men lay down
where they were mustered. It was pretended that they were to take a
nap, but everybody knew that no nap was to be got under the
circumstances. Though all were very quiet, there was a restlessness
among the people; much what I have seen among the people on a race-
course, when the bell has rung for the saddling for a great race
with large stakes on it.

At ten, they put off; only one boat putting off at a time; another
following in five minutes; both then lying on their oars until
another followed. Ahead of all, paddling his own outlandish little
canoe without a sound, went the Sambo pilot, to take them safely
outside the reef. No light was shown but once, and that was in the
commanding officer's own hand. I lighted the dark lantern for him,
and he took it from me when he embarked. They had blue lights and
such like with them, but kept themselves as dark as Murder.

The expedition got away with wonderful quietness, and Christian
George King soon came back dancing with joy.

"Yup, So-Jeer," says he to myself in a very objectionable kind of
convulsions, "Christian George King sar berry glad. Pirates all be
blown a-pieces. Yup! Yup!"

My reply to that cannibal was, "However glad you may be, hold your
noise, and don't dance jigs and slap your knees about it, for I
can't abear to see you do it."

I was on duty then; we twelve who were left being divided into four
watches of three each, three hours' spell. I was relieved at
twelve. A little before that time, I had challenged, and Miss
Maryon and Mrs. Belltott had come in.

"Good Davis," says Miss Maryon, "what is the matter? Where is my

I told her what was the matter, and where her brother was.

"O Heaven help him!" says she, clasping her hands and looking up--
she was close in front of me, and she looked most lovely to be sure;
he is not sufficiently recovered, not strong enough for such

"If you had seen him, miss," I told her, "as I saw him when he
volunteered, you would have known that his spirit is strong enough
for any strife. It will bear his body, miss, to wherever duty calls
him. It will always bear him to an honourable life, or a brave

"Heaven bless you!" says she, touching my arm. "I know it. Heaven
bless you!"

Mrs. Belltott surprised me by trembling and saying nothing. They
were still standing looking towards the sea and listening, after the
relief had come round. It continuing very dark, I asked to be
allowed to take them back. Miss Maryon thanked me, and she put her
arm in mine, and I did take them back. I have now got to make a
confession that will appear singular. After I had left them, I laid
myself down on my face on the beach, and cried for the first time
since I had frightened birds as a boy at Snorridge Bottom, to think
what a poor, ignorant, low-placed, private soldier I was.

It was only for half a minute or so. A man can't at all times be
quite master of himself, and it was only for half a minute or so.
Then I up and went to my hut, and turned into my hammock, and fell
asleep with wet eyelashes, and a sore, sore heart. Just as I had
often done when I was a child, and had been worse used than usual.

I slept (as a child under those circumstances might) very sound, and
yet very sore at heart all through my sleep. I was awoke by the
words, "He is a determined man." I had sprung out of my hammock,
and had seized my firelock, and was standing on the ground, saying
the words myself. "He is a determined man." But, the curiosity of
my state was, that I seemed to be repeating them after somebody, and
to have been wonderfully startled by hearing them.

As soon as I came to myself, I went out of the hut, and away to
where the guard was. Charker challenged:

"Who goes there?"

"A friend."

"Not Gill?" says he, as he shouldered his piece.

"Gill," says I.

"Why, what the deuce do you do out of your hammock?" says he.

"Too hot for sleep," says I; "is all right?"

"Right!" says Charker, "yes, yes; all's right enough here; what
should be wrong here? It's the boats that we want to know of.
Except for fire-flies twinkling about, and the lonesome splashes of
great creatures as they drop into the water, there's nothing going
on here to ease a man's mind from the boats."

The moon was above the sea, and had risen, I should say, some half-
an-hour. As Charker spoke, with his face towards the sea, I,
looking landward, suddenly laid my right hand on his breast, and
said, "Don't move. Don't turn. Don't raise your voice! You never
saw a Maltese face here?"

"No. What do you mean?" he asks, staring at me.

"Nor yet, an English face, with one eye and a patch across the

"No. What ails you? What do you mean?"

I had seen both, looking at us round the stem of a cocoa-nut tree,
where the moon struck them. I had seen that Sambo Pilot, with one
hand laid on the stem of the tree, drawing them back into the heavy
shadow. I had seen their naked cutlasses twinkle and shine, like
bits of the moonshine in the water that had got blown ashore among
the trees by the light wind. I had seen it all, in a moment. And I
saw in a moment (as any man would), that the signalled move of the
pirates on the mainland was a plot and a feint; that the leak had
been made to disable the sloop; that the boats had been tempted
away, to leave the Island unprotected; that the pirates had landed
by some secreted way at the back; and that Christian George King was
a double-dyed traitor, and a most infernal villain.

I considered, still all in one and the same moment, that Charker was
a brave man, but not quick with his head; and that Sergeant Drooce,
with a much better head, was close by. All I said to Charker was,
"I am afraid we are betrayed. Turn your back full to the moonlight
on the sea, and cover the stem of the cocoa-nut tree which will then
be right before you, at the height of a man's heart. Are you

"I am right," says Charker, turning instantly, and falling into the
position with a nerve of iron; "and right ain't left. Is it, Gill?"

A few seconds brought me to Sergeant Drooce's hut. He was fast
asleep, and being a heavy sleeper, I had to lay my hand upon him to
rouse him. The instant I touched him he came rolling out of his
hammock, and upon me like a tiger. And a tiger he was, except that
he knew what he was up to, in his utmost heat, as well as any man.

I had to struggle with him pretty hard to bring him to his senses,
panting all the while (for he gave me a breather), "Sergeant, I am
Gill Davis! Treachery! Pirates on the Island!"

The last words brought him round, and he took his hands of. "I have
seen two of them within this minute," said I. And so I told him
what I had told Harry Charker.

His soldierly, though tyrannical, head was clear in an instant. He
didn't waste one word, even of surprise. "Order the guard," says
he, "to draw off quietly into the Fort." (They called the enclosure
I have before mentioned, the Fort, though it was not much of that.)
"Then get you to the Fort as quick as you can, rouse up every soul
there, and fasten the gate. I will bring in all those who are at
the Signal Hill. If we are surrounded before we can join you, you
must make a sally and cut us out if you can. The word among our men
is, 'Women and children!'"

He burst away, like fire going before the wind over dry reeds. He
roused up the seven men who were off duty, and had them bursting
away with him, before they know they were not asleep. I reported
orders to Charker, and ran to the Fort, as I have never run at any
other time in all my life: no, not even in a dream.

The gate was not fast, and had no good fastening: only a double
wooden bar, a poor chain, and a bad lock. Those, I secured as well
as they could be secured in a few seconds by one pair of hands, and
so ran to that part of the building where Miss Maryon lived. I
called to her loudly by her name until she answered. I then called
loudly all the names I knew--Mrs. Macey (Miss Maryon's married
sister), Mr. Macey, Mrs. Venning, Mr. and Mrs. Fisher, even Mr. and
Mrs. Pordage. Then I called out, "All you gentlemen here, get up
and defend the place! We are caught in a trap. Pirates have
landed. We are attacked!"

At the terrible word "Pirates!"--for, those villains had done such
deeds in those seas as never can be told in writing, and can
scarcely be so much as thought of--cries and screams rose up from
every part of the place. Quickly lights moved about from window to
window, and the cries moved about with them, and men, women, and
children came flying down into the square. I remarked to myself,
even then, what a number of things I seemed to see at once. I
noticed Mrs. Macey coming towards me, carrying all her three
children together. I noticed Mr. Pordage in the greatest terror, in
vain trying to get on his Diplomatic coat; and Mr. Kitten
respectfully tying his pocket-handkerchief over Mrs. Pordage's
nightcap. I noticed Mrs. Belltott run out screaming, and shrink
upon the ground near me, and cover her face in her hands, and lie
all of a bundle, shivering. But, what I noticed with the greatest
pleasure was, the determined eyes with which those men of the Mine
that I had thought fine gentlemen, came round me with what arms they
had: to the full as cool and resolute as I could be, for my life--
ay, and for my soul, too, into the bargain!

The chief person being Mr. Macey, I told him how the three men of
the guard would be at the gate directly, if they were not already
there, and how Sergeant Drooce and the other seven were gone to
bring in the outlying part of the people of Silver-Store. I next
urged him, for the love of all who were dear to him, to trust no
Sambo, and, above all, if he could got any good chance at Christian
George King, not to lose it, but to put him out of the world.

"I will follow your advice to the letter, Davis," says he; "what

My answer was, "I think, sir, I would recommend you next, to order
down such heavy furniture and lumber as can be moved, and make a
barricade within the gate."

"That's good again," says he: "will you see it done?"

"I'll willingly help to do it," says I, "unless or until my
superior, Sergeant Drooce, gives me other orders."

He shook me by the hand, and having told off some of his companions
to help me, bestirred himself to look to the arms and ammunition. A
proper quick, brave, steady, ready gentleman!

One of their three little children was deaf and dumb, Miss Maryon
had been from the first with all the children, soothing them, and
dressing them (poor little things, they had been brought out of
their beds), and making them believe that it was a game of play, so
that some of them were now even laughing. I had been working hard
with the others at the barricade, and had got up a pretty good
breast-work within the gate. Drooce and the seven men had come
back, bringing in the people from the Signal Hill, and had worked
along with us: but, I had not so much as spoken a word to Drooce,
nor had Drooce so much as spoken a word to me, for we were both too
busy. The breastwork was now finished, and I found Miss Maryon at
my side, with a child in her arms. Her dark hair was fastened round
her head with a band. She had a quantity of it, and it looked even
richer and more precious, put up hastily out of her way, than I had
seen it look when it was carefully arranged. She was very pale, but
extraordinarily quiet and still.

"Dear good Davis," said she, "I have been waiting to speak one word
to you."

I turned to her directly. If I had received a musket-ball in the
heart, and she had stood there, I almost believe I should have
turned to her before I dropped.

"This pretty little creature," said she, kissing the child in her
arms, who was playing with her hair and trying to pull it down,
"cannot hear what we say--can hear nothing. I trust you so much,
and have such great confidence in you, that I want you to make me a

"What is it, Miss?"

"That if we are defeated, and you are absolutely sure of my being
taken, you will kill me."

"I shall not be alive to do it, Miss. I shall have died in your
defence before it comes to that. They must step across my body to
lay a hand on you."

"But, if you are alive, you brave soldier." How she looked at me!
"And if you cannot save me from the Pirates, living, you will save
me, dead. Tell me so."

Well! I told her I would do that at the last, if all else failed.
She took my hand--my rough, coarse hand--and put it to her lips.
She put it to the child's lips, and the child kissed it. I believe
I had the strength of half a dozen men in me, from that moment,
until the fight was over.

All this time, Mr. Commissioner Pordage had been wanting to make a
Proclamation to the Pirates to lay down their arms and go away; and
everybody had been hustling him about and tumbling over him, while
he was calling for pen and ink to write it with. Mrs. Pordage, too,
had some curious ideas about the British respectability of her
nightcap (which had as many frills to it, growing in layers one
inside another, as if it was a white vegetable of the artichoke
sort), and she wouldn't take the nightcap off, and would be angry
when it got crushed by the other ladies who were handing things
about, and, in short, she gave as much trouble as her husband did.
But, as we were now forming for the defence of the place, they were
both poked out of the way with no ceremony. The children and ladies
were got into the little trench which surrounded the silver-house
(we were afraid of leaving them in any of the light buildings, lest
they should be set on fire), and we made the best disposition we
could. There was a pretty good store, in point of amount, of
tolerable swords and cutlasses. Those were issued. There were,
also, perhaps a score or so of spare muskets. Those were brought
out. To my astonishment, little Mrs. Fisher that I had taken for a
doll and a baby, was not only very active in that service, but
volunteered to load the spare arms.

"For, I understand it well," says she, cheerfully, without a shake
in her voice.

"I am a soldier's daughter and a sailor's sister, and I understand
it too," says Miss Maryon, just in the same way.

Steady and busy behind where I stood, those two beautiful and
delicate young women fell to handling the guns, hammering the
flints, looking to the locks, and quietly directing others to pass
up powder and bullets from hand to hand, as unflinching as the best
of tried soldiers.

Sergeant Drooce had brought in word that the pirates were very
strong in numbers--over a hundred was his estimate--and that they
were not, even then, all landed; for, he had seen them in a very
good position on the further side of the Signal Hill, evidently
waiting for the rest of their men to come up. In the present pause,
the first we had had since the alarm, he was telling this over again
to Mr. Macey, when Mr. Macey suddenly cried our: "The signal!
Nobody has thought of the signal!"

We knew of no signal, so we could not have thought of it.

"What signal may you mean, sir?" says Sergeant Drooce, looking sharp
at him.

"There is a pile of wood upon the Signal Hill. If it could be
lighted--which never has been done yet--it would be a signal of
distress to the mainland."

Charker cries, directly: "Sergeant Drooce, dispatch me on that
duty. Give me the two men who were on guard with me to-night, and
I'll light the fire, if it can be done."

"And if it can't, Corporal--" Mr. Macey strikes in.

"Look at these ladies and children, sir!" says Charker. "I'd sooner
light myself, than not try any chance to save them."

We gave him a Hurrah!--it burst from us, come of it what might--and
he got his two men, and was let out at the gate, and crept away. I
had no sooner come back to my place from being one of the party to
handle the gate, than Miss Maryon said in a low voice behind me:

"Davis, will you look at this powder? This is not right."

I turned my head. Christian George King again, and treachery again!
Sea-water had been conveyed into the magazine, and every grain of
powder was spoiled!

"Stay a moment," said Sergeant Drooce, when I had told him, without
causing a movement in a muscle of his face: "look to your pouch, my
lad. You Tom Packer, look to your pouch, confound you! Look to
your pouches, all you Marines."

The same artful savage had got at them, somehow or another, and the
cartridges were all unserviceable. "Hum!" says the Sergeant. "Look
to your loading, men. You are right so far?"

Yes; we were right so far.

"Well, my lads, and gentlemen all," says the Sergeant, "this will be
a hand-to-hand affair, and so much the better."

He treated himself to a pinch of snuff, and stood up, square-
shouldered and broad-chested, in the light of the moon--which was
now very bright--as cool as if he was waiting for a play to begin.
He stood quiet, and we all stood quiet, for a matter of something
like half-an-hour. I took notice from such whispered talk as there
was, how little we that the silver did not belong to, thought about
it, and how much the people that it did belong to, thought about it.
At the end of the half-hour, it was reported from the gate that
Charker and the two were falling back on us, pursued by about a

"Sally! Gate-party, under Gill Davis," says the Sergeant, "and
bring 'em in! Like men, now!"

We were not long about it, and we brought them in. "Don't take me,"
says Charker, holding me round the neck, and stumbling down at my
feet when the gate was fast, "don't take me near the ladies or the
children, Gill. They had better not see Death, till it can't be
helped. They'll see it soon enough."

"Harry!" I answered, holding up his head. "Comrade!"

He was cut to pieces. The signal had been secured by the first
pirate party that landed; his hair was all singed off, and his face
was blackened with the running pitch from a torch.

He made no complaint of pain, or of anything. "Good-bye, old chap,"
was all he said, with a smile. "I've got my death. And Death ain't
life. Is it, Gill?"

Having helped to lay his poor body on one side, I went back to my
post. Sergeant Drooce looked at me, with his eyebrows a little
lifted. I nodded. "Close up here men, and gentlemen all!" said the
Sergeant. "A place too many, in the line."

The Pirates were so close upon us at this time, that the foremost of
them were already before the gate. More and more came up with a
great noise, and shouting loudly. When we believed from the sound
that they were all there, we gave three English cheers. The poor
little children joined, and were so fully convinced of our being at
play, that they enjoyed the noise, and were heard clapping their
hands in the silence that followed.

Our disposition was this, beginning with the rear. Mrs. Venning,
holding her daughter's child in her arms, sat on the steps of the
little square trench surrounding the silver-house, encouraging and
directing those women and children as she might have done in the
happiest and easiest time of her life. Then, there was an armed
line, under Mr. Macey, across the width of the enclosure, facing
that way and having their backs towards the gate, in order that they
might watch the walls and prevent our being taken by surprise. Then
there was a space of eight or ten feet deep, in which the spare arms
were, and in which Miss Maryon and Mrs. Fisher, their hands and
dresses blackened with the spoilt gunpowder, worked on their knees,
tying such things as knives, old bayonets, and spear-heads, to the
muzzles of the useless muskets. Then, there was a second armed
line, under Sergeant Drooce, also across the width of the enclosure,
but facing to the gate. Then came the breastwork we had made, with
a zigzag way through it for me and my little party to hold good in
retreating, as long as we could, when we were driven from the gate.
We all knew that it was impossible to hold the place long, and that
our only hope was in the timely discovery of the plot by the boats,
and in their coming back.

I and my men were now thrown forward to the gate. From a spy-hole,
I could see the whole crowd of Pirates. There were Malays among
them, Dutch, Maltese, Greeks, Sambos, Negroes, and Convict
Englishmen from the West India Islands; among the last, him with the
one eye and the patch across the nose. There were some Portuguese,
too, and a few Spaniards. The captain was a Portuguese; a little
man with very large ear-rings under a very broad hat, and a great
bright shawl twisted about his shoulders. They were all strongly
armed, but like a boarding party, with pikes, swords, cutlasses, and
axes. I noticed a good many pistols, but not a gun of any kind
among them. This gave me to understand that they had considered
that a continued roll of musketry might perhaps have been heard on
the mainland; also, that for the reason that fire would be seen from
the mainland they would not set the Fort in flames and roast us
alive; which was one of their favourite ways of carrying on. I
looked about for Christian George King, and if I had seen him I am
much mistaken if he would not have received my one round of ball-
cartridge in his he

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