In less than half an hour he found himself upon a stretch of sand which extended from the forest to the sea, and upon which the waves were throwing themselves in long, crested lines. With a cry of joy he ran out upon the beach, and with outstretched arms he welcomed the sea as if it had been an old and well-tried friend.
But Dickory’s gratitude and joy had nothing to found itself upon. The sea might far better have been his enemy than his friend, for if he had thought about it, the sandy beach would have been the road by which a portion of the pirate’s men would have marched to cut off his flight, or they would have accomplished the same end in boats.
But Dickory thought of no enemy and his heart was cheered. He pressed on along the beach. The walking was so much better now that he made good progress, and the sun had not reached its zenith when he found himself on the shore of a small stream which came down from some higher land in the interior and here poured itself into the sea. He walked some distance by this stream, in order to get some water which might be free from brackishness, and then, with very little trouble, he crossed it. Before him was a knoll of moderate height, and covered with low foliage. Mounting this, he found that he had an extended view over the interior of the island. In the background there stretched a wide savanna, and at the distance of about half a mile he saw, very near a little cluster of trees, a thin column of smoke. His eyes rounded and he stared and stared. He now perceived, from behind the leaves, the end of a thatched roof.
“People!” Dickory exclaimed, and his heart beat fast with joy. Why his heart should be joyful he could not have told himself except that there was no earthly reason to believe that the persons who were making that fire near that thatched-roof house were pirates. To go to this house, whatever it might be, to take his chances there instead of remaining alone in the wide forest, was our young man’s instant determination. But before he started there was something else he thought of. He took off his coat, and with a bunch of leaves he brushed it. Then he arranged the plumes of his hat and brushed some mud from them, gave himself a general shake, and was ready to make a start. All this by a fugitive pursued by savage pirates on a desert island! But Dickory was a young man, and he wore the uniform of a naval officer.
After a brisk walk, which was somewhat longer than he had supposed it would be, Dickory reached the house behind the trees. At a short distance burned the fire whose smoke he had seen. Over the fire hung an iron pot. Oh, blessed pot! A gentle breeze blew from the fire towards Dickory, and from the heavenly odour which was borne upon it he knew that something good to eat was cooking in that pot.
A man came quickly from behind the house. He was tall, with a beard a little gray, and his scanty attire was of the most nondescript fashion. With amazement upon his face, he spoke to Dickory in English.