The hilarity of the boy was catching, for at this point a vociferous “hee! hee” burst from the sable Poopy; the clear laugh of Alice, too, came ringing through the passage, and Mr. Mason himself finally joined in the chorus.
“Come, sir knight,” exclaimed the latter, on recovering his gravity, “this is no guise for a respectable man to be seen in on Sunday morning; come in and lay down your arms. You have done very well as a soldier for this occasion; let us see if you can do your duty equally well as a church officer. Have you the keys?”
“No; they are at home.”
“Then run and get them, my boy, and leave your pistol behind, you. I dare say the savages won’t attack during the daytime.”
Corrie did as he was desired, and the pastor went, after breakfast, to spend a short time with Alice on a neighboring eminence, from which could be obtained a fine view of the settlement with its little church, and the calm bay, on which floated the frigate, sheltered by the encircling coral reef from the swell of the ocean.
Here it was Mr. Mason’s wont to saunter with Alice every Sunday morning, to read a chapter of the Bible to her, and converse about that happy land where one so dear to both of them now dwelt with their Saviour. Here, also, the child’s maid was sometimes privileged to join them. On this particular morning, however, they were not the only spectators of the beautiful view from that hill; for, closely hidden in the bushes—not fifty yards from the spot where they sat—lay a band of armed savages who had escaped the vigilance of the scouts, and had come by an unguarded pass to the settlement.
They might easily have slain or secured the missionary and his household without alarming the people in the village, but their plan of attack forbade such a premature proceeding. The trio therefore finished their chapter and their morning prayer undisturbed, little dreaming of the number of glittering eyes that watched their proceedings.
A SURPRISE—A BATTLE AND A FIRE.
The sound of the Sabbath bell fell sweetly on the pastor’s ear as he descended to his dwelling to make a few final preparations for the duties of the day; and from every hut in Sandy Cove trooped forth the native Christians, young and old, to assemble in the house of God.
With great labor and much pains had this church been built, and pastor and people alike were not a little proud of their handiwork. The former had drawn the plans and given the measurements, leaving it to Henry Stuart to see them properly carried out in detail, while the latter did the work. They cut and squared the timbers, gathered the coral, burnt it for lime, and plastered the building. The women and children carried the lime from the beach in baskets, and the men dragged the heavy logs from the mountains,—in some cases for several miles,—the timber in the immediate neighborhood not being sufficiently large for their purpose.