Gascoyne, who knew every rock and tree on the Isle of Palms, went rapidly down the gentle slope that intervened between him and the harbor in which the Foam lay at anchor. Dark though it was, he could see the taper masts and yards of his vessel traced dimly against the sky.
The pirate’s movements now became more cautious. He stepped slowly, and paused frequently to listen. At last he went down on his hands and knees and crept forward for a considerable distance in that position, until he reached a ledge of rocks that overhung the shore of the bay. Here he observed an object like a round lump of rock, lying a few yards before him, on a spot where he was well aware no such rock had previously existed. It moved after a moment or two. Gascoyne knew that there were no wild animals of any kind on the island, and, therefore, at once jumped to the conclusion that this must needs be a human being of some sort. Drawing his knife he put it between his teeth, and creeping noiselessly towards the object in question, laid his strong hand on the neck of the horrified Will Corrie.
That adventurous and desperate little hero having lain sleepless and miserable at the feet of Alice until the squall blew the tent over their heads, got up and assisted Montague to erect it anew in a more sheltered position, after which, saying that he meant to take a midnight ramble on the shore to cool his fevered brow, he made straight for the sea, stepped knee-deep into the raging surf, and bared his breast to the furious blast.
This cooled him so effectually that he took to running along shore in order to warm himself. Then it occurred to him that the night was particularly favorable for a sly peep at the pirates. Without a moment’s hesitation, he walked and stumbled towards the high part of the island, at which he arrived just half an hour before Gascoyne reached it. He had seen nothing, however, and was on the point of advancing still further in his explorations, when he was discovered as we have seen.
Gascoyne instantly turned the boy over on his back, and nipped a tremendous yell in the bud by grasping his wind-pipe.
“Why, Corrie!” exclaimed Gascoyne, in surprise, at the same time loosening his grip, though still holding the boy down.
“Ah! you villain, you rascally pirate. I know you; I—”
The pipe was gently squeezed at this point, and the sentence abruptly cut short.
“Come, boy, you must not speak so loud. Enemies are near. If you don’t behave I’ll have to throttle you. I have come from Sandy Cove with a party to save you and your friends.”
Corrie did not believe a word of this. He knew, or at least he supposed, that Gascoyne had left the schooner, not having seen him since they sailed from Sandy Cove; but he knew nothing of the manner in which he had been put ashore.
“It won’t do, Gascoyne,” gasped poor Corrie, on being permitted again to use his windpipe. “You may kill me, but you’ll never cow me. I don’t believe you, you cowardly monster.”