One of the sailors had a wound in the cheek, the ball in its passage carrying off part of the ear. One of the men sitting in the bow had a broken arm, but only one of the others was seriously hurt. Frank went on deck again as soon as his shoulder was bandaged and his left arm strapped tightly to his side.
“I suppose that she is still gaining on us, Hawkins?”
“Yes, she is dropping us. I reckon she has gone fast, sir, fully half a knot, though we have got all sail set.”
“There is one comfort,” Frank said. “The coast from here as far as the Bec is so precipitous, that they won’t have a chance of putting the boat ashore until they get past that point, and by the time they are there daylight will have broken.”
The stars were bright, and with the aid of a night glass the brigantine was kept in sight; the sailors relieving each other at the masthead every half hour. Frank would have stayed on deck all night, had not George Lechmere persuaded him to go below.
“Look here, Major,” he said. “It is like enough that we may have a stiff bit of fighting tomorrow. Now we know that those fellows have guns, though they may be but two or three pounders, and it is clear that it is not going to be altogether such a one-sided job as we looked for. You have had a long day already, sir. You have got an ugly wound, and if you don’t lie down and keep yourself quiet, you won’t be fit to do your share in any fighting tomorrow; and I reckon that you would like to be in the front of this skirmish. You know in India wounds inflamed very soon if one did not keep quiet with them, and I expect that it is just the same here.
“It is not as if you could do any good on deck. The men are just as anxious to catch that brigantine as you are. They were hot enough before, but now that one of their mates has been killed, and five or six wounded, I believe that they would go round the world rather than let her slip through their hands. I shall be up and down all night, Major, and the captain and both mates will be up, too, and I promise that we will let you know if there is anything to tell you.”
“Well, I will lie down, George, but I know that I shall get no sleep. Still, perhaps, it will be better for me to keep my arm quite quiet.”
He was already without his coat, for that had been cut from the neck down to the wrist, to enable George to get at the wound. He kicked off his light canvas shoes, and George helped him to lie down in his berth.
“You will be sure to let me know if she changes her course or anything?”
“I promise you that I will come straight down, Major.”
Three quarters of an hour later, George stole noiselessly down and peeped into the stateroom. He had turned down the swinging lamp before he went up, but there was enough light to enable him to see that his master had fallen off to sleep. He took the news up to Hawkins, who at once gave orders that no noise whatever was to be made. The men still moved about the deck, but all went barefooted.