“But,” continued he, after detailing all that the reader already knows, “I cannot comprehend how the pirates you speak of could have landed without their vessel being in sight; and that nothing is to be seen from the mountain-tops except the Talisman on the one side of the island and the Foam on the other, I can vouch for. Boats might lie concealed among the rocks on the shore, no doubt. But no boats would venture to put ashore with hostile intentions, unless the ship to which they belonged were within sight. As for the crew of the Foam, they are ordinary seamen, and not likely to amuse themselves chasing wounded savages, even if they were allowed to go ashore, which I think is not likely; for Gascoyne knows well enough that that side of the island is inhabited by the pagans, who would as soon kill and eat a man as they would a pig.”
“Sooner,—the monsters!” exclaimed the boy, indignantly; for he had, on more than one occasion, been an eyewitness of the horrible practise of cannibalism which prevails, even at the present day, among some of the South Sea islanders.
“There is a mystery here,” said Henry, starting up, “and the sooner we alarm the people of the settlement, the better. Come, Corrie, we shall return to the house, and let the British officer hear what you have told me.”
When the lad had finished relating his adventure to the party in Widow Stuart’s cottage, Gascoyne said quietly, “I would advise you, Captain Montague, to return to your ship and make your preparations for capturing this pirate, for that he is even now almost within range of your guns, I have not the slightest doubt. As to the men appearing piratical-looking fellows to this boy, I don’t wonder at that; most men are wild enough when their blood is up. Some of my own men are as savage to look at as one would desire. But I gave strict orders this morning that only a few were to go ashore, and these were to keep well out of sight of the settlement of the savages. Doubtless they are all aboard by this time. If you decide upon anything like a hunt among the mountains, I can lend you a few hands.”
“Thank you. I may perhaps require some of your hands,” said Montague, with a dash of sarcasm in his tone; “meanwhile, since you will not favor me with your company on board, I shall bid you good afternoon.”
He bowed stiffly, and leaving the cottage, hastened on board his ship where the shrill notes of the boatswain’s whistle, and the deep hoarse tones of that officer’s gruff voice, quickly announced to the people on shore that orders had been promptly given, and were in course of being as promptly obeyed.
During the hour that followed these events, the captain of the Foam was closeted with Widow Stuart and her son, and the youthful Corrie was engaged in laying the foundations of a never-to-die friendship with John Bumpus, or, as that eccentric youngster preferred to style him, Jo Grampus.