Poison Island eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 250 pages of information about Poison Island.

“And as for me,” struck in Miss Belcher, “I’m an old madwoman, with more money than I know what to do with.  And as for Jack Rogers, I’m eloping with him to a coral island.”

Mr. Rogers checked himself on the edge of a guffaw.

“But, I say, Lydia, you’re not serious about this?” he asked.

“I don’t know, Jack.  I rather think I am.  I’m getting an old woman, mad or not; and the hours drag with me sometimes up at the house.  But”—­and here she looked up with one of those rare smiles that set you thinking she must have been pretty in her time—­“there’s this advantage in having followed my own will for fifty years:  that no one any longer troubles to be surprised at anything I may do.  You’re something of an eccentric yourself, Jack.  You had better join the picnic.”

“I ought to warn you, ma’am,” said Captain Branscome gravely, “that although the West India route has been fairly well protected for some months now, there is a certain amount of risk from American privateers.”

“The Americans are a chivalrous nation, I have always heard.”

“Extremely so, ma’am; nevertheless, there is a risk, in the event of the packet being attacked.  But I was about to say,” pursued Captain Branscome, “that our being at war with America may actually help us to get across from Jamaica to the island.  Quite a number of old Colonial families—­loyalists, as we should call them—­have been driven from time to time to cross over from the Main and settle in the West Indies.  But of course they have left kinsfolk behind them in the States; and, in spite of wars and divisions, it is no unusual thing for relatives to slip back and forth and visit one another—­ secretly, you understand.  I have even heard of an old lady, now or until lately residing in St. Kitts, who has made no less than eleven such voyages to the Delaware—­whenever, in short, her daughter was expecting an addition to her family.”

“Good,” said Miss Belcher.  “I have found some one to impersonate; and that settles it.”

“I really think, ma’am,” said Captain Branscome, “that, once in Jamaica, we shall have no difficulty in finding, at the western end of the island, just the ship we require.”

“Bless my soul!” said Miss Belcher.  “Except for the sea-voyage, it might be a middle-aged jaunt in a po’-shay!”

[1] Miss Belcher was here employing a smuggling term.  A “spotsman” is the agent who arranges for a run of goods, and directs the operation from the shore, without necessarily taking a part in it.

CHAPTER XXII.

A STRANGE MAN IN THE GARDEN.

Indeed, the longer we weighed the pros and cons the more feasible appeared the simple adventure.  We ran, to be sure, the risk of being waylaid on our passage by an American privateer; but this was a danger incident to all who sailed on board his Majesty’s Post Office packets in the year 1814.  That anything was to be feared from the man Glass, none of us (I believe) stopped to consider.  We thought of him only as a foiled criminal, a fugitive from justice, and speculated only on the chance that, with the hue-and-cry out and the whole countryside placarded, the Plymouth runners would lay him by the heels.

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Poison Island from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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