Gascoyne here smiled with ineffable urbanity, and bowed slightly by way of finishing his sentence. Montague was saved the annoyance of having to reply by a sudden exclamation from his lieutenant, who was observing the schooner’s boat through a telescope.
“There seems to be some one swimming after that boat,” said he. “A man—evidently a European, for he is light-colored. He must have been some time in the water, for he is already a long way from shore, and seems much exhausted.”
“Why! the man is drowning, I believe,” cried Montague, quickly, as he looked through the glass.
At that moment Frederick Mason’s strength had given way. He made one or two manful efforts to struggle after the retreating boat, and then, tossing his arms in the air, uttered a loud cry of agony.
“Ho! shove off and save him!” shouted Montague, the moment he heard it. “Look alive, lads! give way! and when you have picked up the man, pull straight for yonder schooner.”
The oars at once fell into the water with a splash, and the boat, large and heavy though it was, shot from the ship’s side like an arrow.
“Lower the gig,” cried the captain. “And now, Mr. Gascoyne, since you seem disposed to go in a lighter boat, I will accommodate you. Pray, follow me.”
In a few seconds they were seated in the little gig, which seemed to fly over the sea under the vigorous strokes of her crew of eight stout men. So swift were her motions that she reached the side of the schooner only a few minutes later than the Foam’s boat, and a considerable time before his own large boat had picked up Mr. Mason, who was found in an almost insensible condition, supported by Henry Stuart.
When the gig came within a short distance of the Foam, Gascoyne directed Montague’s attention to the proceedings of the large boat, and at the same instant made a private signal with his right hand to Manton, who, still unmoved and inactive, stood at the schooner’s bow awaiting and evidently expecting it.
“Ha!” said he aloud; “I thought as much. Now, lads, show the red; make ready to slip; off with Long Tom’s nightcap; let out the skulkers; take these children down below, and a dozen of you stand by to receive the captain and his friends.”
These somewhat peculiar orders, hurriedly given, were hastily obeyed, and in a few seconds more the gig of the Talisman ranged up alongside of the Foam.
The instant that Captain Montague stepped over the side of the schooner, a handkerchief was pressed tightly over his mouth and nose. At the same time, he was seized by four strongmen and rendered utterly powerless. The thing was done so promptly and silently, that the men who remained in the gig heard no unusual sound.