Gascoyne, The Sandal Wood Trader eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 393 pages of information about Gascoyne, The Sandal Wood Trader.

But this deceitful quiet was only the calm that precedes the storm.  On every hand men were busily engaged in making preparations to break that Sabbath day in the most frightful manner, or were calmly, but resolutely, awaiting attack.  On board the ship-of-war, indeed, there was little doing; for, her business being to fight, she was always in a state of readiness for action.  Her signal guns, fired the previous night, had recalled Montague to tell him of the threatened attack by the savages.  A few brief orders were given, and they were prepared for whatever might occur.  In the village, too, the arrangements to repel attack having been made, white men and native converts alike rested with their arms placed in convenient proximity to their hands.

In a wild and densely-wooded part of the island far removed from those portions which we have yet had occasion to describe, a band of fiendish-looking men were making arrangements for one of those unprovoked assaults which savages are so prone to make on those who settle near them.

They were all of them in a state of almost complete nudity; but the complicated tattooing on their dark skins gave them the appearance of being more clothed than they really were.  Their arms consisted chiefly of enormous clubs of hard wood, spears, and bows; and, in order to facilitate their escape should they chance to be grasped in a hand-to-hand conflict, they had covered their bodies with oil, which glistened in the sunshine as they moved about their village.

Conspicuous among these truly savage warriors was the form of Keona, with his right arm bound up in a sort of sling.  Pain and disappointed revenge had rendered this man’s face more than unusually diabolical as he went about among his fellows, inciting them to revenge the insult and injury done to them through his person by the whites.  There was some reluctance, however, on the part of a few of the chiefs to renew a war that had been terminated, or rather been slumbering, only for a few months.

Keona’s influence, too, was not great among his kindred, and had it not been that one or two influential chiefs sided with him, his own efforts to relight the still smoking torch of war would have been unavailing.

As it was, the natives soon worked themselves up into a sufficiently excited state to engage in any desperate expedition.  It was while all this was doing in the native camp that Keona, having gone to the nearest mountain-top to observe what was going on in the settlement, had fallen in with and been chased by some of those men belonging to the Foam, who had been sent on shore to escape being pressed into the service of the King of England.

The solitary exception to this general state of preparation for war was the household of Frederick Mason.  Having taken such precautionary steps the night before as he deemed expedient, and having consulted with Ole Thorwald, the general commanding, who had posted scouts in all the mountain passes, and had seen the war-canoes drawn up in a row on the strand, the pastor retired to his study, and spent the greater part of the night in preparing to preach the gospel of peace on the morrow, and in committing the care of his flock and his household to Him who is the “God of battles” as well as the “Prince of peace.”

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Gascoyne, The Sandal Wood Trader from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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