“Why, Corrie, if you were a giant it would be much easier to go to the other side of the island, wring off the heads of all the pirates, and, carrying me on your shoulders, and Alice and Poopy in your coat pockets, get safely aboard the Foam, and ho! for Sandy Cove.”
“So it would,” said Corrie gravely. “I did not think of that; and it would be a far pleasanter way than the other.”
“Ah, Corrie, I fear that you are a very bloodthirsty fellow.”
“Of course I am when I have pirates to deal with. I would kill them every man, without a thought.”
“No, you wouldn’t, my boy. You couldn’t do it in cold blood, even although they are bad men.”
“I don’t know that,” said Corrie, dubiously. “I would do it without more feeling than I would have in killing a cat.”
“Did you ever kill a cat?” asked Montague.
“Never,” answered Corrie.
“Then how can you tell what your feelings would be if you were to attempt to do it. I remember once, when I was a boy, going out to hunt cats.”
“O Captain Montague! surely you never hunted cats,” exclaimed Alice, who came out of the tent with a very pale face, and uncommonly red eyes.
“Yes, indeed, I did once; but I never did it again. I caught one, a kitten, and set off with a number of boys to kill it; but as we went along it began to play with my necktie, and to purr. Our hearts were softened, so we let it go. Ah, Corrie, my boy, never go hunting cats!” said Montague, earnestly.
“Did I say I was going to?” replied Corrie indignantly.
Montague laughed, and so did Alice, at the fierce look the boy put on.
“Come,” said the former, “I’m sure that you would not kill a pirate in cold blood any more than you would kill a kitten—would you?”
“I’m not sure o’ that,” said Corrie, half laughing, but still looking fierce. “In the first place, my blood is never cold when I’ve to do with pirates; and, in the second place, pirates are not innocent creatures covered with soft hair, and—they don’t purr!”
This last remark set Alice into a fit of laughter, and drew a faint “hee! hee!” from Poopy, who had been listening to the conversation behind the canvas of the tent.
Montague took advantage of this improved state of things. “Now, Alice,” said he cheerfully, “do you and Poopy set about spreading our blanket tablecloth, and getting supper laid out. It is but a poor one,—hard biscuit and water,—but there is plenty of it, and, after all, that is the main thing. Meanwhile, Corrie and I will saunter along shore and talk over our plans. Cheer up, my little girl; we will manage to give these pirates the slip somehow or other, you may depend upon it.”
“Corrie,” said Montague, when they were alone. “I have spoken cheeringly to Alice, because she is a little girl and needs comfort, but you and I know that our case is a desperate one, and it will require all our united wisdom and cleverness to effect oar escape from these rascally pirates.”