“He is a giant, my boy; few men could hope to overcome him.”
“True, as regards wrestling, mother; I am not much ashamed of having been beaten by him at that; but running,—that’s the sore point. Such a weight he is, and yet he took the north gully like a wildcat; and you know, mother, there are only two of us in Sandy Cove who can go over that gully. Aye, and he went a full yard further than ever I did. I measured the leap as I came down. Really, it is too bad to have been beaten so completely by a man who must be nearly double my age. But, after all, the worst of the whole affair is, that a pirate has escaped me after I actually had him in my arms!—the villain!”
“You do not know that he is a villain,” said the widow in a subdued tone.
“You are right, mother,” said Henry, looking up from the plate of bacon, to which he had been devoting himself with much assiduity, and gazing earnestly into his mother’s face,—“you are right and, do you know, I feel inclined to give the fellow the benefit of the doubt; for, to tell you the truth, I have a sort of liking for him. If it had not been for the way in which he has treated you, and the suspicious character that he bears, I do believe I should have made a friend of him.”
A look of evident pleasure crossed the widow’s face while her son spoke; but as that son’s eyes were once more riveted on the bacon, which his morning exercise rendered peculiarly attractive, he did not observe it.
Just then the door opened, and Mr. Mason entered. His face wore a dreadfully anxious expression.
“Ha! I’m glad to see you, Henry,” said he; “of course you have not caught your man. I have been waiting anxiously for you to consult about our future proceedings. It is quite evident that the pirate schooner cannot be far off. Gascoyne must either have swam ashore, or been landed in a boat. In either case the schooner must have been within the reef at the time, and there has been little wind since the squall blew itself out yesterday.”
“Quite enough, however, to blow such a light craft pretty far out to sea in a few hours,” said Henry, shaking his head.
“No matter,” replied Mr. Mason, with a sigh; “something must be done, at any rate. I have borrowed the carpenter’s small cutter, which is now being put in order for a voyage. Provisions and water for a few days are already on board, and I have come to ask you to take command of her, as you know something of navigation. I will go, of course, but will not take any management of the little craft, as I know nothing about the working of vessels.”
“And where do you mean to go?” asked Henry.
“That remains to be seen. I have some ideas running in my head, of course; but before letting you know them, I wish to hear what you would advise.”
“I would advise, in the first place, that you should provide one or two thorough sailors to manage the craft. By the way, that reminds me of Bumpus. What of him? Where is he? In the midst of all this bustle I have not had time for much thought; and it has only just occurred to me that if this schooner is really a pirate, and if Gascoyne turns out to be Durward, it follows that Bumpus is a pirate too, and ought to be dealt with accordingly.”