“It seems to me, sirs, that you are wasting precious time just now. I, at least, am quite satisfied with the duty assigned to me; so I’m off: ho! who will join me?”
“I’m your man,” cried Corrie, starting up and flourishing the broken saber above his head. At the same moment about a hundred natives ranged themselves round the youth, thus indicating that they, too, were his men.
“Well, lad, away you go,” said Gascoyne, smiling; “but Master Corrie must remain with me.”
“I’ll do nothing of the sort,” said Corrie, stoutly.
“Oh yes, you will, my boy, I want you to guide my man Bumpus over the mountains. You know the passes, and he don’t. It’s all for the good of the cause, you know,—the saving of little Alice.”
Corrie wavered. The idea of being appointed, as it were, to a separate command, and of going with his new friend, was a strong temptation, and the assurance that he would in some way or other be advancing the business in hand settled the matter. He consented to become obedient.
In about half an hour all Gascoyne’s plans were in course of being carried out. Ole Thorwald and his party proceeded on board the Talisman, which weighed, anchor, and sailed, with a light breeze, towards the north end of the island—guided through the dangerous reefs by Gascoyne. Henry and his followers were toiling nimbly up the hills in the direction indicated by the little footprints of Alice; and John Bumpus, proceeding into the mountains in another direction, pushed, under the guidance of Corrie, towards the bay, where the Foam still lay quietly at anchor.
It was evening when these different parties set out on their various expeditions. The sun was descending to the horizon in a blaze of lurid light. The slight breeze, which wafted his Britannic Majesty’s ship slowly along the verdant shore, was scarcely strong enough to ruffle the surface of the sea. Huge banks of dark clouds were gathering in the sky, and a hot, unnatural closeness seemed to pervade the atmosphere, as if a storm were about to burst upon the scene. Everything, above and below, seemed to presage war—alike elemental and human; and the various leaders of the several expeditions felt that the approaching night would tax their powers and resources to the uttermost.
It was, then, natural that in such circumstances the bereaved father should be distracted with anxiety as to which party he should join; and it was also natural that one whose life had been so long devoted to the special service of God should, before deciding on the point, ask, on his knees, his heavenly Father’s guidance.
He finally resolved to accompany the party under command of Henry Stuart.
THE PURSUIT—POOPY, LED ON BY LOVE AND HATE, RUSHES TO THE RESCUE.
The shades of night had begun to descend upon the island when Master Corrie reached the summit of the mountain ridge that divided the bay in which the Foam was anchored from the settlement of Sandy Cove.