It must not be supposed that, during the fight which we have described, the crew of the Talisman were idle. At the first sign of disturbance on shore, the boats were lowered, and a well-armed force rowed for the landing-place as swiftly as the strong and willing arms of the men could pull. But the distance between the vessel and the shore was considerable, and the events we have recounted were quickly enacted; so that before the boats had proceeded half the distance the fight was nearly over, and the settlement seemed about to be overwhelmed.
These facts were not lost upon the first lieutenant of the Talisman, Mr. Mulroy, who, with telescope in hand, watched the progress of the fight with great anxiety. He saw that it was impossible for the boats to reach the shore in time to render efficient aid. He also observed that a fresh band of savages were hastening to reinforce their comrades, and that the united band would be so overpoweringly strong as to render the chances of a successful resistance on the part of the settlers very doubtful indeed—almost hopeless.
In these circumstances he adopted a course which was as bold as it was dangerous. Observing that the savages mustered for the final onset in a dense mass on an eminence which just raised their heads a little above those of the party they were about to attack, he at once loaded three of the largest guns with round shot and pointed, them at the mass of human beings with the utmost possible care. There was the greatest danger of hitting friends instead of foes; but Mr. Mulroy thought it his duty to incur the responsibility of running the risk.
Montague, to whom the command of the band of united settlers had been given by general consent, had thrown them rapidly into some sort of order, and was about to give the word to charge, when the savage host suddenly began to pour down the hill with frantic yells.
Mulroy did not hear the shouts, but he perceived the movement. Suddenly, as if a thunder storm had burst over the island, the echoes of the hills were startled by the roar of heavy artillery, and, one after another, the three guns hurled their deadly contents into the center of the rushing mass, through which three broad lanes were cut in quick succession.
The horrible noise and the dreadful slaughter in their ranks seemed to render the affrighted creatures incapable of action, for they came to a dead halt.
“Well done, Mulroy!” shouted Montague; “forward, boys,—charge!”
A true British cheer burst from the tars and white settlers, which served further to strike terror into the hearts of the enemy. In another moment they rushed up the hill, led on by Montague, Gascoyne, Henry, and Thorwald. But the savages did not await the shock. Seized with a complete panic, they turned and fled in utter confusion.
Just as this occurred, Mr. Mason began to recover consciousness. Recollecting suddenly what had occurred, he started up and followed his friends, who were now in hot pursuit of the foe in the direction of his own cottage. Quickly though they ran, the anxious father overtook and passed them; but he soon perceived that his dwelling was wrapped in flames from end to end.