THE PASTOR’S HOUSEHOLD—PREPARATIONS FOR WAR.
When the conference in the widow’s cottage closed, Henry Stuart and Gascoyne hastened into the woods together, and followed a narrow foot-path which led towards the interior of the island. Arriving at a spot where this path branched into two, Henry took the one that ran round the outskirts of the settlement towards the residence of Mr. Mason, while his companion pursued the other which struck into the recesses of the mountains.
“Come in,” cried the missionary, as Henry knocked at the door of his study. “Ah, Henry, I’m glad to see you. You were in my thoughts this moment. I have come to a difficulty in my drawings of the spire of our new church, and I want your fertile imagination to devise some plan whereby we may overcome it. But of that I shall speak presently. I see from your looks that more important matters have brought you hither. Nothing wrong at the cottage, I trust?”
“No, nothing—that is to say, not exactly wrong; but things, I fear, are not altogether right in the settlement. I have had an unfortunate rencounter this morning with one of the savages, which is likely to lead to mischief; for blood was drawn, and I know the fellow to be revengeful. In addition to this, it is suspected that Durward, the pirate, is hovering among the islands, and meditates a descent on us. How much truth there may be in the report I cannot pretend to guess; but Gascoyne, the captain of the Foam, has been over at our cottage, and says he has seen the pirate, and that there is no saying what he may venture to attempt; for he is a bold fellow, and, as you know, cannot have a good will to missionary settlements.”
“I’m not so sure of that,” said the pastor, in answer to the last remark. “It is well known that wherever a Christian settlement is founded in these islands, that place becomes a safe port for vessels of all sorts, pirates as well as others, if they sail under false colors and pretend to be honest traders,—while in all the other islands, it is equally well known, the only safety one can count on, in landing, is superior force. But I am grieved to hear of your affray with the native. I hope that life will not be sacrificed.”
“No fear of that; the rascal got only a flesh-wound.”
Here the young man related his adventure of the morning, and finished by asking what the pastor advised should be done in the way of precaution.
“It seems to me,” said Mr. Mason, gravely, “that our chief difficulty will be to save ourselves from our friends—”
“Would friends harm us, father?” asked a sweet, soft voice at the pastor’s elbow. Next moment Alice Mason was seated on her father’s knee, gazing up in his face with an expression of undisguised amazement.