John Bumpus raised his bulky form with a degree of lithe activity that proved him to be not less agile than athletic, and, with several others, sprang to obey the order. A few seconds later the sails were swelled out by a light breeze, and the schooner moved through the water at a rate which seemed scarcely possible under the influence of so gentle a puff of air. Presently the breeze increased, the vessel cut through the blue water like a knife, leaving a long track of foam in her wake as she headed for the coral-island before referred to. The outer reef or barrier of coral which guarded the island was soon reached. The narrow opening in this natural bulwark was passed. The schooner stood across the belt of perfectly still water that lay between the reef and the shore, and entered a small bay, where the cairn water reflected the strip of white sand, green palm, and tropical plants that skirted its margin, as well as the purple hills of the interior.
Here she swept round in a sudden but graceful curve, until all her canvas fluttered in the breeze, and then dropped anchor in about six fathoms water.
BUMPUS IS FIERY AND PHILOSOPHICAL—MURDEROUS DESIGNS FRUSTRATED.
The captain of the schooner, whose deep voice had so suddenly terminated the meditations of John Bumpus, was one of those men who seem to have been formed for the special purpose of leading and commanding their fellows.
He was not only unusually tall and powerful,—physical qualities which, in themselves, are by no means sufficient to command respect,—but, as we have said, he possessed a deep, full-toned bass voice, in which there seemed to lie a species of fascination; for its softest tones riveted attention, and when it thundered forth commands in the fiercest storms, it inspired confidence and a feeling of security in all who heard it. The countenance of the captain, however, was that which induced men to accord to him a position of superiority in whatever sphere of action he chanced to move. It was not so much a handsome as a manly and singularly grave face, in every line of which was written inflexible determination. His hair was short, black, and curly. A small mustache darkened his upper lip, but the rest of his face was closely shaven, so that his large chin and iron jaw were fully displayed. His eyes were of that indescribable blue color which can exhibit the intensest passion, or the most melting tenderness.
He wore a somber but somewhat picturesque costume,—a dark-colored flannel shirt and trousers, which latter were gathered in close round his lower limbs by a species of drab gaiter that appeared somewhat incongruous with the profession of the man. The only bit of bright color about him was a scarlet belt round his waist, from the side of which depended a long knife in a brown leather sheath. A pair of light shoes, and a small round cap resembling what is styled in these days a pork-pie, completed his costume. He was about forty years of age.