“That you were well able to do so,” answered Montague, with a smile; “but when I examined the Foam, I found no arms save a few cutlasses and rusty muskets that did not seem to have been in recent use.”
“A few bold men can defend themselves with any kind of weapons. My men are stout fellows, not used to flinch at the sound of a round shot passing over their heads.”
The conversation was interrupted here by the ship rounding a point and suddenly opening up a view of a fine bay, at the head of which, embosomed in trees and dense underwood, stood the native village of which they were in search.
Just in front of this village lay a small but high and thickly-wooded island, which, as it were, filled up the head of the bay, sheltering it completely from the ocean, and making the part of the sea which washed the shores in front of the houses resemble a deep and broad canal. This stripe of water was wide and deep enough to permit of a vessel of the largest size passing through it; but to any one approaching the place for the first time, there seemed to be no passage for any sort of craft larger than a native canoe. The island itself was high enough to conceal the Talisman completely from the natives until she was within half gunshot of the shore.
Gascoyne still stood on the fore part of the ship as she neared this spot, which was so beset with reefs and rocks that her escape seemed miraculous.
“I think we are near enough for the work that we have to do,” suggested Montague, in some anxiety.
“Just about it, Mr. Montague,” said Gascoyne, as he turned towards the helm and shouted, “Port your helm.”
“Port it is,” answered the man at the wheel.
“Back the topsails, Mr. Mulroy.”
The sails were backed at once, and the ship became motionless, with her broadside to the village.
“What are we to do now, Mr. Gascoyne?” inquired Montague, smiling in spite of himself at the strange position in which he found himself.
“Fire away at the village as hard as you can,” replied Gascoyne, returning the smile.
“What! do you really advise me to bombard a defenseless place, in which, as far as I can see, there are none but women and children.”
“Even so,” returned the other, carelessly. “At the same time I would advise you to give it them with a blank cartridge.”
“And to what purpose such waste of powder?” inquired Montague.
“The furthering of the plans which I have been appointed to carry out,” replied Gascoyne, somewhat stiffly, as he turned on his heel and walked away.
The young captain reddened and bit his lip, as he gave the order to load the guns with blank cartridge, and made preparation to fire this harmless broadside on the village. The word to “fire” had barely crossed his lips when the rocks around seemed to tremble with the crash of a shot that came apparently from the other side of the island; for its smoke was visible, although the vessel that discharged it was concealed behind the point. The Talisman’s broadside followed so quickly that the two discharges were blended in one.