Up to this point Jo was heard; but the conclusion of his defiance was drowned in roars of laughter.
“Cut the ropes!” shouted the crowd.
Dan drew a clasp-knife from his pocket, and with one stroke set Bumpus free.
“Shoulder high!” yelled a voice; “Hurrah!”
A wild rush was made at the table. Jo’s executioners were overturned and trampled under foot, and the table, with himself and his young advocate sprawling on it, was raised on the shoulders of the crowd and borne off in triumph.
Half an hour later, Bumpus was set down at the widow’s door. Mrs. Stuart received him with a scream of surprise and joy, for she had given him up as a lost man.
“Now, then, Mrs. Stuart,” said Jo, throwing himself on a chair and wiping the perspiration from his forehead, “don’t make such a fuss about me, like a good creetur. But do get me a bit o’ bacon, and let’s be thankful that I’m here to eat it. Cut it fat, Mrs. Stuart; cut it fat; for it’s wonderful wot a appetite I’ve got after such a mornin’s work as I’ve gone through. Well, well, after all that yer friends have said of ye, Jo Bumpus, I do believe that yer not born to be hanged!”
THE RENDEZVOUS—AN EPISODE—PECULIAR CIRCUMSTANCES—OTHER MATTERS.
About five or six days’ sail from the scene of our tale there lies one of those small rocks or islets with which the breast of the Pacific is in many places thickly studded.
It is a lonely coral isle, far removed from any of its fellows, and presenting none of those grand features which characterize the island on which the settlement of Sandy Cove was situated. In no part does it rise more than thirty feet above the level of the sea; in most places it is little more than a few feet above it. The coral reefs around it are numerous; and as many of them rise to within a few feet of the surface, the navigation in its neighborhood is dangerous in the extreme.
At the time of which we write, the vegetation of the isle was not very luxuriant. Only a few clusters of cocoanut palms grew here and there over its otherwise barren surface. In this respect it did not resemble most of the other islands of the Pacific. Owing partly to its being out of the usual course of ships, and partly to the dangerous reefs already referred to, the spot was never approached by vessels, or, if a ship happened to be driven towards it, she got out of its way as speedily as possible.
This was the rendezvous of the pirates, and was named by them the Isle of Palms.
Here, in caverns hollowed out of the coral rock, Gascoyne had been wont to secrete such goods and stores as were necessary for the maintenance of his piratical course of life; and to this lone spot did Manton convey his prisoners after getting rid of his former commander. Towards this spot, also, did Gascoyne turn the prow of the cutter Wasp in pursuit of his mutinous first mate.