On hearing this, the boy clapped both hands to his sides, expanded his eyes and mouth, showed his teeth, and finally gave vent to roars of uncontrollable laughter, swaying his body about the while as if in agony.
“Oh dear!” he cried, after a time, “John Bumpus, ha! ha! the grampus—why, it’s magnicicent, ha! ha!” and again the boy gave free vent to his merriment, while his companion looked on with a quiet grin of amusement.
Presently Corrie became grave, and said, “But what of the third, the little chap, all over gold lace? P’r’aps he’s the pirate. He looked bold enough a’most for any thing.”
“Why, you goose, that’s the commander of his Britannic Majesty’s frigate Talisman.”
“Indeed? I hope his Britannic Majesty has many more like him.”
“Plenty more like him. But come, boy; what have you heard of this pirate, and what do you mean about a wounded nigger?”
“I just mean this,” answered the lad, suddenly becoming serious, “that when I was out on the mountain this morning, I thought I would cross the ridge, and when I did so, the first thing I saw was a schooner lying in the bay at the foot of the hill, where you and I have so often gone chasing pigs together. Well, being curious to know what sort of a craft she was, I went down the hill, intendin’ to go aboard; but before I’d got half way through the cocoanut grove, I heard a horrible yell of a savage. So, thinks I, here comes them blackguard pagans again, to attack the settlement; and before I could hide out of the way, a naked savage almost ran into my arms. He was sea-green in the face with fright, and blood was running over his right arm.
“The moment he saw me, instead of splitting me up with his knife and eating me alive, as these fellers are so fond of doin’, he gave a start, and another great cry, and doubled on his track like a hare. His cry was answered by a shout from half a dozen sailors, who burst out of the thicket at that moment, and I saw they were in pursuit of him. Down I went at once behind a thick bush, and the whole lot o’ the blind bats passed right on in full cry, within half an inch of my nose. And never saw sich a set o’ piratical-looking villains since I was born. I felt quite sure that yon schooner is the pirate that has been doing so much mischief hereabouts; so I came back as fast as my legs could carry me, to tell you what I had seen. There, you have got all that I know of the matter now.”
“You are wrong, boy. The schooner you saw is not the pirate; it is the Foam. Strange, very strange!” muttered Henry.
“What’s strange,” inquired the lad.
“Not the appearance of the wounded nigger,” answered the other; “I can explain all about him, but the sailors—that puzzles me.”
Henry then related the morning’s adventure to his young companion.