Page images

above twenty paddles were ranged “I say, my good man,” quoth uprightly, with the blade resting on Lieutenant Sprawl, “pray, did you the bottom, on each side of the masts. see any white men -Spaniards

There was a heavy log of unhewn pass this way?” wood, about thirty feet long, laid The sleeper appeared slowly to reacross the head of the creek, where cover the control of his faculties; he it terminated, on which three grey first stared at the interrogator, then parrots were clawing up and down, at me, and then at our people. He being fastened by the legs with pieces wished to seem, or really was, overof twine.

come with surprise. Presently the Immediately adjoining the end of lieutenant, having for a moment left the creek, or lagoon, was an open him, to look around and reconnoitre area of about fifty yards in diameter the lay of the land, a little reefer, Joe

-the soil appearing to have been Peake by name, stole up to him, and mixed with white ashes, and then whether or no the aforesaid mid had baked, or rammed down into a hard taken asmall pullat his canteen, I canfloor. This open space was girdled not tell, but he rattled out in the ear in with a thick forest of cashaw of the dormant savage," I say, my trees on the land side, through which sleeping beauty, if you don't tell us several paths opened; while on every in a twinkling whereabouts these other, except the small space where Spanish raggamuffins are stowed it opened on the head of the creek, away, by Saint Patrick, but I will it was surrounded by thick man- make free to waken you with the grove bushes. In the very centre of point of this cutlass here, and in a the cleared space stood a native way by no means ceremonious at house, a long, low, one-story, mud all, at all;" and suiting the action to building, about forty feet in length, the word, he gave the sable Morby fifteen wide, and thatched with pheus a very sufficing progue with the leaves of the dwarf palm. It had the point of his weapon, about the one large aperture in the roof amid. region of the midriff

, which instanships, raised a foot or two by piled taneously extracted a yell, worthy turf, from which curled up a thick of any Bengal tiger that I had ever stream of blue smoke; but there tumbled up to see. Presently the was no opening on the side we ap- howling subsided into articulate proached it from, beyond a low door, sounds, but not one of the party not above three feet high ; indeed, could make any thing ship-shape out the eaves of the house itself were of the barbarous exclamations. not above four feet from the ground. “Now, my darlin',” continued wee

Right in front of us, and precisely middy, “ try toder tack, dear;" and opposite the door, ensconced in a he again excited the savage's corpocurious nondescript chair of wicker- reals, after a very sharp fashion, with work, sat, very drunk apparently, the same instrument, and the howl and more than half asleep, a pon- was louder than before. derous middle-aged negro, dressed “ Now, may the devil fly away in a most primitive fashion, his sole with me, quoth the imp, article of clothing being a common will blow your brains out, you woollen blanket, with a hole cut in the drunken thief of the world, if you middle for his head to pass through, don't give me a legitimate replywhile the sides were fastened to you ill-bred spalpeen, you- - Angether with wooden skewers, which swer me in English, you scoundrel;" effectually confined his arms; so that and to our very great surprise inthere he was, all blanket and head, deed, forthwith out-spoke our sable and sound asleep, or pretending to acquaintance. be so, although the sun shone down Hillo, where de devil is I-who into the open space with a fierceness you, eh? What you wantee here? that would have broiled the brains of I hab no slave to give you. De Ca. any other man, bad they been cover- ridad, him do get every one I get. ed' by a common skull. We were So, good men, go to hell all of youall speedily congregated round this do-very mosh go to hell-do. beauty; there was no one in attend. The barbarian again fell back on ance on him, and we had no means his seat, either asleep, or feigaiog to of judging of his quality.

be so, and began to snore like a

« but I

rhinoceros. By this time Davie and had all this while lain as motionDoublepipe's attention was attracted less as a coiled up hedgehog, now to a noise within the house. “Now, slowly opened his eyes, and peered at Master Blueskin,” said be," bave me with a sort of drunken gravitythe kindness to open the door there;” but he did not speak. I took the cutand then, as if suddenly recollect- lass from the midshipman—" Now, ing himself, in a voice of thunder my darling, if you don't speak, it is he exclaimed—"Surround the house, spitting you on this same that I will men. Shoot any one who tries to be after;" and accordingly, to corroescape.”

borate my word, I made a most furiAll this seemed at length to arouse ous demonstration with the naked our sluggish friend, who immediate, weapon, when he sung out, in great ly got up, and staggered a few paces terror, “Stop, massa, me is Sergeant towards the margin of the wood, Quacco of de-West India, and not where a most remarkable object met a savage nigir natural to dis dam our eyes.

It was a Fetish hut or country. Long live Kin Shorge, , temple, composed of a shed about massa.” ten feet

square, raised on four bam- “Why," said Lieutenant Sprawl, boos. From the eaves or thatch of “ how came you here, my beautythe roof, to the ground, might have tell us that ?" measured ten feet; and three feet “ Surely," quoth Blackie; no below the roof there was a platform objection in de wide world, but": rigged, on which sat the most un- Here our people had forced the earthly and hideous production of door of the long shed, on the oppo. the hand of man that I had ever wit- site side from where we were, and nessed. It was a round, pot-bellied, we could hear from their shouts that wooden figure, about two feet high, they were now in the interior of the with an enormous head, a mouth house. This entirely discomposed from ear to ear, and little, diminu. our new friend, and seemed to sober tive, spindly legs and arms. A him all on a sudden, if, indeed, the human skull, with the brain scooped appearance of inebriety had not been out, but the red scalp, and part of assumed for the occasion. the hair, and the flesh of the face dere—all is known-all known. Call adhering to it, while the lower jaw off your people, gentlemen-call off had been torn away, was hung round your people. Oh, what is dat ?" this horrible looking image's neck. Here several pistol-shots were Immediately beneath there was a fired in the house, and the clink of heap of white smouldering cinders, steel was heard, and loud shouting, as if the embers of a large fire had in Spanish as well as English. been swept together, with three or " Who are in the shed?" I called four white bones protruding from out,“ Who are concealed there?” the glowing fissures in the cake of “ How de debil can I tell ?” said white ashes, which, from their pecu- the man- -“How de debil can I say?" liar shape and extraordinary white- --and he started from his chair, ness, gave me some shuddering where he had again bestowed himqualms, as to the kind of living crea- self, and made a bolt, with intent to ture to which they had belonged. escape.--I tripped up his heels. The whole space round the heap, “ Now, you scoundrel,” said I, as under the platform on which the the fellow lay sprawling on the Fetish stood, as well as the posts of ground—“confess who are concealthe rude and horrible temple itself, ed there, or I will run you through was sprinkled with fresh black spots where you lie." like dried blood. I doubted ex- “I will confess," shrieked he—“I ceedingly whether the same had ever will confess-de crew of dat dam circulated through the hearts of bulls poleacre is dere, and her cargo of one or goats.

hundred fifty slave, is dere--s0 sink, " Now, my good man, bestir you, burn, and destroy dem all, if dat and let us into the house,” said I, pleasure massa; but don't cut my by this time renovated by another troat, please, massa-don't, I beg you, small pull at a marine's canteen. cut my troat-God bless you, massa

The surly savage, who, in his at- -Oh-oh-no cut my troat, please, tempt to escape, had fallen headlong, good massa ?”

« Ab,



My attention was here so com- rested his uplifted arm, and I spoke. pletely attracted by what was going “ You infamous renegade, if you on elsewhere, that I involuntarily left don't lay down the leg of that stool, the vagabond where he sat, and I will, on the credit of a Kilkenny turned a step or two towards the long man, by the mother's side, send a barn-like building.

bullet through your breadbasket-If The noise in the interior conti- I don't, never fear me.” nued. “Hillo,”sung out the lieutenant He advanced, and nothing daunt

Hillo, men, what are you after ? ed, made a blow at my head, which, Haul off-come out, will ye-come if I had not dodged, would have sent out;" and he began to thunder at the me to answer for many a sin unrelow door, with his pillar-like trams, pented of; as it was, it descended each of which might have made a with great force on my left shoulder, very passable battering-ram.

but on the instant I shot him through The uproar increased. “Zounds !” the muscle of his uplifted arm, and said he, “the fellows are mad;" and down he tumbled, roaring like the he started off round the northernmost very devil. I had started up the inend of the shed, finding that all at- stant I pulled the trigger. The door tempts to force the door on the side of the long building, at that very innext us proved futile. Presently the stant of time, gave way, and out topman, and two marines, who had rushed four white men-evidently remained beside him, also bolted to part of the crew of the polacre brig “see the fun on the other side of the followed by our people. Weak as house," and left me alone with the I was, I stood up to the headmost; savage to whom allusion has already and I appeared to have quelled him, been made.

for he instantly threw down his It was now " the uproar, with va- The crackling of the fire conriations," as old Bloody Politeful's tinued; bursts of blue smoke spouted two voices swelled the row. I looked from the roof; presently they were at the negro, weak and worn-out as I intermingled with bright sparks, and was. “ And can I manage him, in the yells arose even louder, if possicase he shews fight?” thought I. He ble, from the inside; presently out seemed to be taking the same mea- rushed our people, headed by the sure ; for by this time he had gather- redoubtable Davie Doublepipe himed himself up, and advancing a stride self, who was thrashing and smashing or two from his seat or bench, he ap- in his usual style, until his opponents peared to balance himself, and weigh vanished, and be had time to recoghis gigantic proportions against my nise me. comparatively tiny thews and sinews; “ Hillo, Brail,” said he, “why, and like a tiger about to make his what has come over you ?- who has spring, he now drew suddenly back, wounded you ?and crouched, concentrating all bis " That black rascal there." energies, as it were. Time to make a “ The devil! shall we immolate demonstration, thought I; and I there. the savage where he lies ?” upon drew a pistol from my belt, and “ No, no-attend to what is going opening the pan, slapped it with my on in the house-for Godsake, mind right hand, to see that the priming what may befall there." was all right, and in immediate com- With the gallant fellow, it was a munication with the charge in the word and a blow, “Here,-here, try barrel. He looked rapidly, but keen- back, my fine fellows, try back." ly, all round, and then at me. I The yells increased. « Merciful grasped the weapon firmly in my Providence !” exclaimed Mr Sprawl, right hand. He rose-upset the as he saw his people recoil from the bench on which he sat, in a twink- heat and flame, "what is to be done? ling screwed out a leg of it, and with These poor creatures will be roasted it was in the very act of making a alive where they are made fast.” Our blow at me, when the shouts and yells party turned, made as if they would in the long shed increased to an in- have entered the house, but the fernal degree of vivacity, and a hot scorching fire kept them back. The sharp crackling, and a thick stifling cries were now mixed with low smoke, that burst in white wreaths moans and suffocating coughs, and from the corners of the building, ar- presently a string of miserable naked

savages appeared streaming out of the shed amidst flame and smoke, the door, as fast as they could run, that I thought more than sufficient as if flying from instant death- to have suffocated any man of woman chiefly men, old and young, and born, started off into the woods, and well-grown children, and several disappeared, all to the five whom we elderly women-the ancients stag- had seized, and who were placed be. gering along after the more nimble side, and secured along with the capas fast as their feebler strength would tive blacks. Those we had taken admit. They rushed forth, all as fast were surly, fierce-looking bravoes; as they could, never halting, until and when we asked them any questhey had landed up to the waist in tions, as to the name and character of the muddy creek, and an interval of their vessel, they only smiled savagebalf a minute elapsed, when several“ ly, as much as to say—“ Our vessel! of the women made signs that there where is she now? You are none the were still some of the miserable better for ber at all events !" creatures within; and indeed this Brail, my dear,” said Lieutenant was but too sadly vouched for, by Sprawl, " what is to be done? Had the shrill and heartrending cries we not better be off with our white that continued to issue from the prisoners, and take fresh instructions burning shed. Old Bloody Politeful from the captain ?” was at this time standing in the “ If the tide will let us,” said I; middle of the open space, with the " but the boats are high and dry in four middies, and Pumpbolt, and the creek, and we have lost the only about ten men, grouped around him. opportunity that offered for burning The rest being employed in various the polacre ; had we confined ourways..some in an unavailing attempt selves to that object, and kept the to extinguish the fire-the others in boats afloat, we might have accom. guarding the prisoners, when all at plished it where she lies at low once the first lieutenant sung out- water." “ Men, there are women and child- “Better as it is," rejoined Sprawl ren burning there-follow me.” The -“ better as it is; we found no men be spoke to were British sea- slaves on board, and might have got men-could he have said more? And into a scrape, had we set fire to her away they rushed after their heroic in cold blood.-No, no! let us be off leader, stumbling over each other in and try and launch the boats. Here, their anxiety to succour the poor men, secure your prisoners; shall helpless beings within. A minute of we carry the black Broker - this most intense suspense followed, respectable

resetter of human beings when upwards of a dozen women with us, Brail-eh?” rushed out from the flaming hut, " Why, we had better," said I; sheltering, with their bent bodies and “we may get some information out naked arms, their helpless infants of the vagabond; so kick him up, from the sparks and fire, and falling Moses;" he was at this moment timbers; and even after they had lying on his back, apparently in a escaped, and had couched at our feet, trance—"up with him, pique him the cries and groans from amongst with your boarding pike, my man.”. the burning mass too fearfully The seaman I had addressed did evinced that numbers of our fellow- as he was desired; but the fellow creatures, in all likelihood the most was now either dead-drunk, or had helpless of the party, were still in sufficient nerve to control any exjeopardy, nay, in very truth, were at pression of pain, for the deuced that instant giving up the ghost. hard thumps and sharp progues he Our crew did all they could to get received, produced no apparent efthe remainder of the poor creatures fect. He lay like a log through out, but many perished in the flames. them all; even the pain of the wound

It was evident that this had been in his arm seemed insufficient to the depôt of the polacre's cargo. keep him awake. About fifty human beings, chiefly Why, what is that-do you hear women, were saved, and placed hud- that?” said I, in great alarm; for dled together in the centre of the several dropping shots now, rattled open space; presently several of the in the direction of the boats. All white Spaniards, who had held on in was still for a minute, and every ear

[ocr errors]

was turned to catch the sound, during place of our former conflict. Heawhich time we distinctly heard in vens! what a scene presented itself! the distance a loud voice hail,- It makes one's blood run cold to re

« Come out from beneath the flect on it, even after the lapse of bushes there, you villains, or we years. On the platform lay three of shall fire a volley."

our people and two Spaniards stark Again there was a long pause- and stiff, and already stripped naked a horn was sounded-tben another- as the day they were born, by whom and a wild confused yell was heard, Heaven only knows, while half-amingled with which the musketry dozen native dogs were tearing and again breezed up, and we could hear riving the yet scarcely cold carcasses, from the shouts of our people that and dragging the dead arms hither the covering party at the boats had and thither, until our near approach been assailed. When the first shot frightened them away, with a loud was fired, the black resetter lifted bis unearthly scream, of no kindred to bead, anxiously, as if to listen, but a common bark. seeing my eyes were fixed on him, One fierce brute, with his forehe instantly dropped it again. But paws planted, straight and stiff, bethe instant be heard the negro horns, fore him, on a dead body, was tugand the yells set up at their onset, ging with his front teeth at the and the renewal of the firing, he large pectoral muscle, occasionally started to bis legs, as active as a lynx, letting go his hold to look at us, and and before any of us could gather utter a short angry bark, and again our senses about us, he was on the tearing at the bleeding flesh, as if it verge of the wood, when all at once had been a carcass thrown to him a thought seemed to come across for food. Another dog had laiu down, him, and he turned, and hung in the with a hold of one of the same poor wind for a moment, as if irresolute fellow's cold hands. Every now and whether to bolt or turn back. At then he would clap his head sidethis moment one of our people let ways on the ground, so as to get the drive at him, but missed him, back grinders to bear on bis prey; although the ball nipped off a dry and there the creature was, with the branch close above his head. He dead blue fingers across his teeth, instantly ran and laid bold of one of crunching and crunching, and gasp, the pillars of the frame that support- ing, with his mouth full of froth and ed the abominable little idol. An- blood, and marrow, and white splinother shot was fired, when down ters of the crushed bones, the sinews tumbled his godship on the head of and nerves of the dead limb hanging his worshipper, who instantly caught like bloody cords and threads from the image by the legs, and seeing -Bah!—you have given us a little some of our people rushing to seize de trop of this, Master Benjie. him, he let go bis hold of the up- Two wounded Spaniards were all right, and whirling the figure round, this time struggling in the soft mud holding on by its legs, he let drive beyond the platform; their lower with it at the man nearest him, and limbs, and in fact their whole bodies dropped him like a shot. He then up to the arm-pits, had already setbolted out of sight, through one of tled down into the loathsome chaos. the several muddy paths that opened Some of our people were soft-heartinto the mangrove thicket landward.ed enough to endeavour to extricate

“No time to be lost, my lads," them, but “Get along, get along-be whistled old Davie; " keep toge- off to the boats will ye, be off to the ther;"—then, in his thorough bass, boats, if you wish to sleep in a sound “ Don't throw away a shot; so now skin," shouted by Mr Sprawl, made bring along your prisoners, and let all hands turn to the more engrossing us fall back on the boats—that's it— affair of self-preservation. march the Dons to the front-shore But as it was some time before on, my fine fellows--shove on.”

we could all string over the stockThe firing had by this time slack- ade, and the single plank that led to ened in the distance, but the cries it from the platform across the mud, had increased, and were now rising I could not help remarking one of the higher and fiercer as we approached. poor fellows who appeared to have At length we reached the fort, the been badly wounded, for there was

« PreviousContinue »