The foresail did not go up, for one of the men had to run to the wheel, and as the vessel’s head got slowly around, it seemed as if she might sail away from the boat, even with nothing but the jib set. But the schooner gained headway very slowly, and the boat neared her rapidly. Now the man at the wheel gave up all hope of sailing away from his pursuers. He abandoned the helm, and in a few moments two heads and two guns showed over the rail, and two shots rang out. But the schooner was rolling, and the aim was bad. Shirley and Burke fired at the two heads as soon as they saw them, but the boat was rising and pitching, and their shots were also bad.
For a minute there was no more firing, and then one of the heads and one of the guns were seen again. Shirley was ready, and made his calculations, and, as the boat rose, he drew a bead upon the top of the rail where he saw the head, and had scarcely pulled his trigger when he saw a good deal more than a head, for a man sprung up high in the air and then fell backward.
The captain now ordered his men to rest on their oars, for, if the other man on board should show himself, they could get a better shot at him than if they were nearer. But the man did not show himself, and, on consideration of his probable tactics, it seemed extremely dangerous to approach the vessel. Even here they were in danger, but should they attempt to board her, they could not tell from what point he might fire down upon them, and some of them would surely be shot before they could get a chance at him, and the captain did not wish to sacrifice any of his men, even for a vessel, if it could be helped. There seemed to be no hope of safely gaining their object, except to wait until the man should become tired and impatient, and expose himself.
Suddenly, to the amazement of every one in the boat, for all heads were turned toward the schooner, a man appeared, boldly running over her deck. Shirley and Burke instantly raised their rifles, but dropped them again. There was a shout from Maka, and an exclamation from the prisoner. Then the man on deck stooped close to the rail and was lost to their sight, but almost instantly he reappeared again, holding in front of him a struggling pair of legs, feet uppermost. Then, upon the rail, appeared a man’s head and body; but it only remained there for an instant, for his legs were raised still higher by the person behind him, and were then propelled outward with such force that he went headlong overboard. Then the man on deck sprang to the top of the rail, regardless of the rolling of the vessel in the gentle swell, and waved his hands above his head.
“Inkspot!” shouted the captain. “Pull away, you fellows! Pull!”
The tall, barefooted negro sprang to the deck from his perilous position, and soon reappeared with a line ready to throw to the boat.
In a few minutes they reached the vessel, and the boat was quickly made fast, and very soon they were on board. When he saw his old friends and associates upon the deck, Inkspot retired a little distance and fell upon his knees.