“Well, well,” he said, carelessly; “I’m sorry to see you throw away your only chance. As for the information you refuse to give. I can do without it. Perhaps I may find some of your late comrades when we make the island, who will stand witness against you. That will do, my man; you may go. Mr. Geoffrey” (turning to a midshipman), “will you accompany that pirate forward, and see that he is put in irons?”
“But you don’t know where the island is,” said Surly Dick, anxiously, as the lieutenant was turning away.
Mulroy turned back: “No,” said he; “but you ought to know that when a seaman is aware of the existence of an island, and knows that he is near it, a short time will suffice to enable him to find it.”
Again he was about to turn away, when Dick cried out, “Stay, sir; will you stand by me if I show you the way?”
“I will not deceive you,” said Mulroy bluntly. “If you show me how to steer for this island, and assist me in every way that you can to catch these villains, I will report what you have done, and the judges at your trial will give what weight they please to the facts; but if you suppose that I will plead for such a rascal as you are, you very much mistake me.”
A look of deep hatred settled on the pirate’s countenance as he said, briefly, “Well, I’ll show you how to steer.”
Accordingly, Surly Dick, after being shown a chart, and being made aware of the exact position of the ship, ordered the course to be altered to “north-half-east.” As this was almost dead in the eye of the light breeze that was blowing the Talisman had to proceed on her course by the slow process of tacking.
While she was in the act of putting about on one of these tacks, the look-out reported “a boat on the lee bow.”
“Boat on the lee bow!” was passed from mouth to mouth, and the order was immediately given to let the frigate fall off. In another moment, instead of ploughing her way slowly and doggedly to windward, the Talisman ran swiftly before the breeze toward a dark object which at a distance resembled a boat with a mast and a small flag flying from it.
“It is a raft, I think,” observed the second lieutenant, as he adjusted the telescope more perfectly.
“You are right; and I think there is some one on it,” said Mulroy. “I see something like a man lying on it; but whether he is dead or alive I cannot say. There is a flag, undoubtedly; but no one waves a handkerchief or a rag of any kind. Surely, if a living being occupied the raft, he would have seen the ship by this time. Stay; he moves! No; it must have been imagination. I fear that he is dead, poor fellow. Stand by to lower a boat.”
The lieutenant spoke in a sad voice; for he felt convinced that he had come too late to the aid of some unfortunate who had died in perhaps the most miserable manner in which man can perish.
Henry Stuart did indeed lie on the raft a dead man to all appearance. Towards the evening of his third day, he had suffered very severely from the pangs of hunger. Long and earnestly had he gazed round the horizon, but no sail appeared. He felt that his end was approaching, and, in a fit of despair and increasing weakness, he fell on his face in a state of half-consciousness. Then he began to pray, and gradually he fell into a troubled slumber.