“May we trust him, mother?” said Henry.
“You may trust him, my son,” replied the widow, in a tone of decision that satisfied Henry, while it called forth a look of gratitude from the pirate.
The party now proceeded to arrange the details of their plan for the rescue of Alice and her companions. These were speedily settled, and Henry rose to go and put them in train. He turned the key of the door, and was on the point of lifting the latch, when this was done for him by some one on the outside. He had just time to step back, when the door flew open, and he stood face to face with Hugh Barnes the cooper.
“Have you heard the news, Henry?—hallo!”
This abrupt exclamation was caused by the sight of Gascoyne, who rose quietly the moment he heard the door open, and turning his back towards it, walked slowly into a small apartment that opened off the widow’s parlor, and shut the door.
“I say, Henry, who’s that big fellow?” said the cooper, casting a suspicious glance towards the little room into which he had disappeared.
“He is a friend of mine,” replied Mrs. Stuart, rising hastily, and welcoming her visitor.
“Humph! it’s well he’s a friend,” said the man, as he took a chair; “I shouldn’t like to have him for an enemy.”
“But what is the news you were so anxious to tell us?” inquired Henry.
“That Gascoyne, the pirate captain, has been seen on the island by some of the women, and there’s a regular hunt organizing. Will you go with us?”
“I have more important work to do, Hugh,” replied Henry; “besides, I want you to go with me on a hunt which I’ll tell you about if you’ll come with me to the creek.”
“By all means. Come along.”
Henry and the cooper at once left the cottage. The latter was let into the secret, and prevailed on to form one of the crew of the Wasp, as the little cutter was named. In the course of the afternoon everything was in readiness. Gascoyne waited till the dusk of evening, and then embarked along with Ole Thorwald; that stout individual having insisted on being one of the party, despite the remonstrances of Mr. Mason, who did not like to leave the settlement, even for a brief period, so completely deprived of all its leading men. But Ole entertained a suspicion that Gascoyne intended to give them the slip; and having privately made up his mind to prevent this, he was not to be denied.
The men who formed the crew—twelve in number—were selected from among those natives and settlers who were known never to have seen the pirate captain. They were chosen with a view to their fighting qualities; for Gascoyne and Henry were sufficient for the management of the little craft. There were no large guns on board, but all the men were well armed with cutlasses, muskets, and pistols.
Thus equipped, the Wasp stood out to sea with a light breeze, just as the moon rose on the coral reef and cast a shower of sparkling silver across the bay.