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John Frewen, South Sea Whaler - 1904
by Louis Becke
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JOHN FREWEN, SOUTH SEA WHALER

From "Chinkie's Flat And Other Stories"

By Louis Becke

Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company 1904



BOOK I



CHAPTER I

Captain Ethan Keller, of the Casilda of Nantucket, was in a very bad temper, for in four days he had lost two of the five boats the barque carried—one had been hopelessly stove by the dreaded "underclip" given her by a crafty old bull sperm-whale, and the other, which was in charge of the second mate, had not been seen for seventy hours. When last sighted she was fast to the same bull which had destroyed the first mate's boat; it was then nearly dark, and the whale, which was of an enormous size, although he had three irons in his body and was towing the whole length of line from the stove-in boat as well as that of the second mate, was racing through the water as fresh as when he had first been struck, three hours previously. Then the sun dipped below the sea-rim, and the blue Pacific was shrouded in darkness.

"Why in thunder couldn't the dunderhead put a bomb into that fish before it came on dark?" growled the skipper to his other officers, as they sat down to a harried sapper in the spacious, old-fashioned cabin of the whaler.

No one answered. Frewen, the missing officer, was as good a whaleman as ever drove an iron or gripped the haft of a steer-oar, and his half-caste boatsteerer Randall Cheyne was the best on the ship. But there was bad blood between young Frewen and his captain, and Cheyne was the cause of it.

"If they cut and lose that whale," resumed Keller presently, "I'll haze the life out of them—by thunder, I will, if I break my back in doing it! Why, that is the biggest fish we've struck yet. If I had been in that boat, I'd have had that whale in his flurry two hours ago. Why, it appears to me that Frewen got too soared to even try to haul up and give him a bomb, let alone giving him the lance—which was easy enough."

Just as he spoke, one of the boatsteerers entered the cabin and reported that some of the hands thought that they had heard the second mate's bomb gun.

"All right," growled Keller, "tell the cooper to burn a flare."

"I guess Frewen won't lose him," said Lopez, the first mate. "He told me long ago that he never yet had to out, and I don't think he'll do it now—unless something has gone wrong. That must have been his gun."

"Huh!" sneered Keller, as he viciously speared a piece of salt pork with his fork, "we'll see all about that when daylight comes. You'll find Mr. Firwen and that yaller-hided Samoa buck back here for breakfast, but no whale."

None of the men made any reply. They knew that Frewen would be the last man to lose a fish through any fault of his own, and only after carefully "drogueing" his line would he part company with it, and that only if the immense creature emptied the line tubs and "sounded." Then, to save the lives of those in the boat, he would have to cut.

"Guess we'll see that whale to-morrow, anyway, whether Mr. Frewen is fast to him or not," said the third mate to the cooper, as they met on deck; "he's got a mighty lot of line hanging to him, and, just after the second mate got fast I saw him shaking his flukes and trying to kick out one of the two irons the mate hove into him."

"Well, that is so; I hope we shall get him. The old man is pretty cranky over it. He hasn't a nice temper even when he's in a good humour, and there will be blue fire blazing if Mr. Frewen does lose the fish after all."

For four hours the barque made short tacks to the eastward, in which direction the boat had been taken by the whale. The night was fine but dark, the sea very smooth, and the flares which were burnt at intervals on board the barque would render her visible many miles away, and a keen look-out was kept for the boat, but nothing could be discovered of it.

Towards midnight the light air from the eastward died away, and was succeeded by a series of rather sharp rain squalls from the south-west, and Keller, fearing to miss the boat by running past her, hove-to till daylight.

The dawn broke brightly, with a dead calm. Forty pairs of eyes eagerly scanned the surface of the ocean, and in a few minutes there came a cheering cry from aloft.

"Dead whale, oh! Close to on the weather beam."

"Can you see the boat?" cried Lopez.

"No, sir," was the reply after a few seconds silence. "Can't see her anywhere."

"Look on the other side of the whale, you bat!" growled the skipper.

"She's not there, sir," was the reply.

"Lower away your boats, Mr. Bock and Mr. Lopez," said Keller in more gracious tones to the third and first officers; "the second mate can't be far away, but why in thunder he didn't hang on to the whale last night I don't know. Take something to eat with you. You will have to tow that whale alongside—this calm is going to last all day."

Five minutes later the two boats pushed off, and then, as they sped over the glassy surface of the ocean and the huge carcass of the whale was more clearly revealed, Bock called out to his superior officer that he could see a whift {*} on it.

* A wooden pole with a small pennon; used by whalers' boats as a signal to the ship.

Lopez nodded, but said nothing.

They pulled up alongside, and the mate's boatsteerer stepped out on to the body of Leviathan and pulled out the whift pole, which was firmly embedded in the blubber.

"There's a letter tied round the pole, sir," he said to his officer, as he got back to the boat again and passed the whift aft.

The "letter" had been carefully wrapped in a strip of oilskin, and then tied around the whift pole by a piece of sail twine. It was a sheet of soiled paper with a few pencilled lines written on it. Lopez read it:—

"For the information of Ethan Keller, Haser: This whale was struck, for the sake of his shipmates' lays, by Randall Cheyne, the 'yaller-hided Samoan,' who has struck more whales than old Haser Keller ever saw. If Haser Keller wants us he will find us at Savage Island, where we shall be ready for him.

(Signed) "R. Cheyne, Boatsteerer, "Casilda."

"Where is Mr. Frewen, sir?" inquired the boatsteerer anxiously.

"Gone for a picnic," replied the mate laconically. "Now, look lively, my lads. We've got to tow this fish to the ship and 'cut in' before the sharks save us the trouble."



CHAPTER II

The quarrel between Keller, a rough, blasphemous-mouthed, and violent-tempered man, and his second officer had arisen over a very simple matter.

Frewen, one of the six sons of a struggling New Hampshire farmer, had received a better education than his brothers, for he was intended for the navy. But at sixteen years of age he realised the condition of the family finances, and shipped on a whaler sailing out of New London. From "'foremast hand with hayseed in his hair," he became boatsteerer; then followed rapid promotion from fourth to second officer's berth, and at the age of five-and-twenty he was as competent a navigator and as good a seaman and boatheader as ever trod a whaleship's deck. For like many a country-bred boy he had the sea instinct in his bones, inherited perhaps from his progenitors, who were of a seafaring stock in old Devonshire, in that town made for ever famous by Kingsley in "Westward Ho!"

When Frewen joined the Casilda, Keller had taken a great fancy to the young man, whom he soon discovered was a very able officer, and who proved his ability as a good whaleman so amply during the first twelve months of the cruise by never losing a whale once he got fast, that Keller, who was as mean as he was brutal to his crew, relaxed his "hazing" propensities considerably. The Casilda was always known as a "hard" ship and Keller as a "hazer"; but, on the other hand, she was also a lucky ship, and Lopes, the chief mate, who had sailed in her for many years, was a sterling good man, though a strict disciplinarian, and did much for the men to compensate them for Keller's outbursts of savage fury when anything went wrong. So Lopez, Frewen, and his fellow-officers "worked" together, and the crew "worked" with them, and the Casilda became a fairly happy ship, as well as a lucky one, for Keller, after long years, began to realise that it was bad policy to ill-treat a willing crew who would give him a "full" ship in another six months instead of deserting one by one or in batches at every island touched at in the South Seas.

And Frewen was a mascotte, and his half-caste boat-steerer was another, for whenever a pod of whales were sighted the second mate's boat was invariably the first to get fast, and on one glorious day off Sunday Island Frewen's boat killed three sperms—a bull and two cows—and the four other boats each got one or two, so that for over a week, in a calm sea, and under a cloudless sky of blue by day and night, "cutting in" and "trying-out" went on merrily, and the cooper and his mates toiled like Trojans, setting-up fresh barrels; and the smoke and glare of the try-works from the deck of the Casilda lit up the placid ocean for many a mile, whilst hordes of blue sharks rived and tore and ripped off the rich blubber from the whales lying alongside waiting to be cut-in, and Keller shot or lanced them by the score as he stood on the cutting-in stage or in one of the boats made fast to the chains on the free side.

Fourteen months out, as the Casilda was cruising northward, intending to touch at one of the Navigator's Islands (Samoa) to refresh, the first trouble occurred. Cheyne, Frewen's boatsteerer, who was a splendidly built, handsome young fellow of twenty-four years of age, received a rather severe injury to his right foot whilst a heavy baulk of timber was being "fleeted" along the deck. Frewen, who was much attached to him, dressed his foot as well as the rough appliances on board would allow, and then reported him to the captain as unfit for duty.

Keller growled something about all "darned half-breeds" being glad of any excuse to shirk duty.

Frewen took him up sharply: "This man is no shirker, sir. He is as good a man as ever 'stood up' to strike a whale. Did you ever see a better one?"

Keller looked at his second officer with fourteen months' repressed brutality glowering in his savage eyes.

"I'm the captain of this ship. Just you mind that. I reckon I can't be taught much by any college buster."

Frewen's hands clenched, but he replied quietly, though he was inwardly raging at Keller's contemptuous manner—

"Just so. You are the captain of this ship, and I know my duty, sir. But I am not the man to be insulted by any one. And I say that my boatsteerer is not fit for duty."

Keller's retort was of so insulting a character that in another moment the two men—to the intense delight of the crew—were fighting on the after-deck. Lopes and the cooper, as in duty bound, sprang forward and seized their fellow-officer, but the captain, with an oath, bade them stand aside.

"I'll pound you first," he cried hoarsely to Frewen, "then I'll kick you into the foc'sle."

The fight lasted for fifteen minutes, and then Lopes and the third mate forced themselves between and separated them. Both men were terribly punished.

"That will do, sir; that will do, Frewen," said the mate; "do you want to kill each other?"

Keller had some good points about him and a certain amount of humour as well.

"Haow much air yew hurt, Frewen?" he inquired. "I can't exactly see" (both his eyes were fast closing).

"Pretty much like yourself," replied the officer; then he paused and held out his hand. "Shake hands, sir. I'm sorry we've had this turn."

"Wa'al, it's mighty poor business, that's a fact," and Keller took the proffered hand, and then the matter apparently ended.

Early in the morning on the following day whales were raised. There was a stiff breeze and a choppy sea. Three boats, of which Frewen's was one, were lowered. Cheyne, although suffering great pain, insisted on taking his place, and twenty minutes later his officer called out to him to "stand up," for they were close to the whale—a large cow, which was moving along very slowly, apparently unconscious of the boat's presence.

Then for the first time during the voyage the half-caste missed striking his fish. Unable to sustain himself steadily, owing to his injured foot and the rough sea, he darted his iron a second or two too late. It fell flat on the back of the monstrous creature, which at once sounded in alarm, and next reappeared a mile to windward. For an hour Frewen kept up the chase, and then the ship signalled for all the boats to return, for the wind and sea were increasing, and it was useless for them to attempt to overtake the whales, which were now miles to windward. Neither of the other boats had even come within striking distance of a fish, and consequently Keller was in a vile temper when they returned, and the moment he caught sight of the half-caste boatsteerer he assailed him with a volley of abuse.

The young man listened with sullen resentment dulling his dark face, then as he turned to limp for'ard the captain bade him make haste and get better, and not "try on any soldiering."

He turned in an instant, his passion completely overmastering him: "I'm no 'soldier,' and as good a man as you, you mean old Gape Cod water-rat. I'll never lift another iron or steer a boat for you as long as I am on this ship."

Five minutes later he was in irons with a promise of being kept on biscuit and water till he "took back all he had said" in the presence of the ship's company.

"I'll lie here and rot first sir," he said to Lopez; "my father was an Englishman, and I consider myself as good a boatsteerer and as good a man as any one on board. But I do not mean any disrespect to you, sir."

Lopez was sorry for the man, but could not say so. "Keep a still tongue between your teeth," he said roughly, "and I'll talk the old man round by to-morrow."

"Do as you please, sir. But I won't lift an iron again as long as I am in this ship," he replied quietly.

He kept his word. On the following morning he was liberated, and in a week's time he had recovered the use of his foot. Then, when the barque was off the Tonga Islands, a large "pod" of whales were sighted. It was a clear, warm day. The sea was as smooth as a lake, and only the faintest air was ruffling the surface of the water. Three miles away were two small, low-lying islands, clad with coco-palms, their white belting of beach glistening like iridescent pearl-shell under the glowing tropic sun.

As the boats were lowered he said to Frewen, "You know what I have said, sir. I won't lift a harpoon again on this cruise; so don't ask me."

Frewen did not believe him. "Don't be a fool, Randall. We'll show the old man something to-day."

"I will, sir, if it costs me my life."

Five minutes later he was in his old place on the for'ard thwart, pulling stolidly, but looking intently at Frewen, whom he loved with a dog-like affection.

Frewen singled out a large bull whale which was lying quite apart from the rest of the "pod" sunning himself, and sometimes rolling lazily from side to side, oblivious of danger. In another five minutes the boat would have been within striking distance.

"Stand up, Randall," he said.

The half-caste peaked and socketed his oar, and looked at the officer.

"I refuse, sir," he said quietly.

"Then come aft here," cried Frewen quickly, with hot anger in his tones.

"No, sir, I will not. I said I would neither lift iron nor steer a boat again," was the dogged reply.

There was no time to lose. Giving the steer oar to the man pulling the "after-tub oar," the officer sprang forward and picked up the harpoon just in time, Randall jumping aft smartly enough, and taking the tub man's oar. Ten seconds later Frewen had buried his harpoon up to the socket in the whale, and the line was humming as the boat tore through the water. Then, still keeping his place, he let the whole of one tub of line run out, and then hauled up on it and lanced and killed his fish quietly. Cheyne apparently took no notice, though his heart sank within him when Frewen came aft again, and looked at him with mingled anger and reproach.

Some one of the boat's crew talked of what had occurred, though Frewen said nothing; and that night Cheyne was placed in irons by Keller's orders. At the end of a week he was still manacled and almost starving, but he steadfastly refused to do boatsteerer's duty. Then the captain no longer placed any check on himself, and he swore that he would either make the half-caste yield or else kill him. And he did his best to keep his word.

Nearly a month passed, and then, at Frewen's suggestion, all the officers waited on the captain and begged him to release the unfortunate man; otherwise there was every prospect of the crew mutinying.

"Is he willing to turn to again?" he asked.

"Not as boatsteerer," replied Frewen.

"Then he shall stay where he is," was the savage retort.

Five or six days later Frewen went to Cheyne, who was now confined in the 'tween decks, and implored him to give in.

"Very well, sir. To please you I will give in. But I mean to desert the first chance."

"So do I. I am sick of this condition of things. There are three other men besides yourself in irons now."

"Who are they, sir?"

"Willis, Hunt, and Freeman." (The two latter belonged to his own boat, and had been ironed because they had refused to eat some bad beef. Frewen himself had told Keller that it was uneatable, and again angry words passed between them.)

Cheyne was released and resumed his old place in Frewen's boat, and the officer then sounded the rest of his men, and found they were eager to leave the ship. So he made his plans, and he and Cheyne quietly got together a small supply of provisions and a second breaker of water.

They waited till the ship was well among the Friendly Group, and Upolu Island was three hundred miles to the north, and then were given the needed opportunity—when the mate's boat was destroyed by the big bull whale, which was then struck by Cheyne.

"Boys," shouted Frewen to his crew, as the boat tore through the water, "I'm not going to kill this whale awhile. He'll give us a long run, and is taking us dead to windward, away from the ship. But before it gets dark I'll give him a bomb."

He successfully carried out his intention. Just as darkness was coming on he hauled up on his line and fired a bomb into the mighty creature; it killed it in a few seconds. Then they lay alongside of the floating carcase, spelled half an hour, had something to eat, and then Cheyne, who had a sense of humour, wrote the scrawl to Keller and tied it round the whift pole.

"Now, lads," cried Frewen, "up sail! It is a fine dark night, and we should be forty or fifty miles away by daylight."

And so, whilst the Casilda burnt flare after flare throughout the night, the adventurers were slipping through the water merrily enough, oblivious of the cold rain squalls which overtook them at midnight, as they headed for Samoa.



CHAPTER III

When Frewen allowed Cheyne to write the pencilled note to Captain Keller, he did so with a double purpose, for he and Cheyne had carefully thought out and decided upon their plans. In the first place, the dead whale would convince the ship's company that he and his boat's crew had "done the square thing," by killing and leaving for their benefit the best and largest whale that had yet been taken, and that although they were deserting (and consequently losing their entire share of the profits of the cruise so far, which would be divided with their former shipmates) the rich prize they were leaving to the ship would prove of ten times the value of the boat in which they had escaped. In the second place he wished to put Keller on a false scent by naming Savage Island (or Nine, as it is generally known) as their destination; for Keller knew that the island was a favourite resort of runaway sailors, but that a suitable reward offered to the avaricious natives would be sure to effect the capture and return to the ship of any deserters from the Casilda.

Cheyne's father was an English master mariner, who, tired of a seafaring life, had settled as a trader in the beautiful island of Manono in Samoa. He there married a daughter of one of the leading chiefs, and himself attained to some considerable influence and property, but lost his life in an encounter with a rebellious clan on the island of Upolu. He left two children: Randall, a lad of sixteen, and Marie, a girl two years younger. The boy went to sea in a whaler, and at the age of twenty-four had an established reputation as one of the smartest boatsteerers in the Pacific. Only once after four years' absence, had he returned to his native country, when he found that his sister, who had just arrived from Australia, where she had been educated, was about to be married to one of the few Europeans in the country—a well-to-do planter and merchant, named Raymond, and that his mother had also married again, and settled in New Zealand.

Satisfied as to his sister's future happiness, he saw her married, and again turned his face to the sea, although Raymond earnestly besought him to stay with and help him in his business. He made his way to Honolulu, and there joined the Casilda, then homeward bound, and, as has been related, he and the second officer soon became firm friends.

At the south-east point of the island of Upelu, there is a town named Lepa, and for this place the boat was now steering. The principal chief of the district was a blood relation of Cheyne's mother, and he (Cheyne) knew that every hospitality would be given to himself and Frewen for as long a time as they chose to remain at Lepa.

"After we have seen Mana'lio" (the chief) "we shall consider what we shall do," said the boatsteerer to Frewen. "I expect he will not like letting us leave him, but will be satisfied when he knows that you and I want to go to my sister's place. These big Samoan chiefe are very touchy in some things."

On the afternoon of the third day out, the land was sighted, and just as the evening fires were beginning to gleam from the houses embowered in the palm-groves of Lepa, the boat grounded on the white hard beach, and in a few minutes the village was in a pleasurable uproar, as the white men were almost carried up to the chief's house by the excited natives, who at once recognised the stalwart Cheyne.

Mana'lio made his relative and Frewen most welcome, and treated them as very honoured guests, whilst the rest of the boat's crew were taken possession of by the sub-chiefs and the people of the town generally, carried off to the fale taupule or "town hall," and invited to a hurriedly prepared but ample repast.

On the following morning, Frewen called the whole of his boat's crew together, and told them it would be best for them to separate. "Each of you four men say you don't want to go to sea again—not for a long time at any rate. Well, Mana'lio, the chief here, wants a white man to live with him. He will treat him well, and give him a house and land. Will you stay, Hunt?"

"Yes, sir," was the instant reply.

"Right. And you, Freeman, Chase, and Craik, can stay here in Lepa, and decide for yourselves which towns you will live in. In less than forty-eight hours half the chiefe on the island will be coming to Mana'lio for a white man. Cheyne here will give you some good advice—if you want the natives to respect you, and to get along and make money and a honest living, follow his advice."

"Ay, ay, sir," assented the men.

"Now, here is another matter. Cheyne and I wish to be mates, and we want the boat."

"Well, I guess we have no claim on her, sir," said Hunt, turning to the others for confirmation of his remark.

"Oh, yes you have—she is as much yours as she is mine. Anyway we all have a good right to her, as we have given the ship a whale worth a dozen new boats; and, besides that, by deserting we have forfeited our 'lays' and have put money into Captain Keller's pocket as well as into those of the crew. Now, I have a little money with me—two hundred dollars. Will you four men take a hundred and divide it, and let Cheyne and me have the boat?"

"Ay, ay, to be sure," they cried out in unison.

That evening Frewen and Cheyne bade Mana'lio and the seamen goodbye, and accompanied by four stalwart and well-armed natives, stepped into the boat, hoisted her blue jean main-sail and jib, and amidst a chorus of farewells from the friendly people set off on a forty miles trip along the coast, their destination being the town of Samatau, at the extreme north-west of the island.

For here, so Mana'lio had told them, Mrs. Raymond and her husband were living, the latter having purchased a large tract of land there which he was preparing for a cotton plantation.



CHAPTER IV

The boat sailed gently along the outer or barrier reef which fringed the coast of beautiful verdured Upolu, and then, as the sun sank, there shone out myriad stars upon the bosom of a softly heaving sea, and only the never-ceasing murmur of the surf as it beat against the coral barrier, or the cry of some wandering sea-bird, disturbed the warm silence of the tropic night.

Leaving the boat to the care of their native friends at eight o'clock, Frewen and his comrade laid down amidships and were soon fast asleep, for the day had been a tiring one, and they needed more rest to recover from the effects of the three days they had spent on the open sea.

Soon after daylight they were awakened by the steersman, who pointed out a large, lofty-sparred vessel. She was about five miles away, and being head on, Frewen was uncertain as to her rig, till an hour later, when he saw that she was a full-rigged ship.

"Not the Casilda" he said to his comrade, and neither of them gave the strange vessel any further thought, especially as the wind had now died away, and, the sail being lowered, the crew bent to the oars under an already hot and blazing sun.

Shortly before noon, the boat rounded a low headland and entered a lovely little bay, embowered in thick groves of coco-palms and breadfruit trees. The new house which Raymond had built was not visible from the bay, but there were some thirty or forty native houses clustered under the shade of the trees, a few yards up from the beach, on which they noticed a ship's longboat was lying.

The moment Frewen's boat was seen, a strange clamour arose, and a number of natives, armed with muskets and long knives, rushed out of their houses, and took cover behind the rocks and trees, evidently with the intention of resisting his landing, and Frewen and Cheyne heard loud cries of "Lemonte! Lemonte!"

"Back water!" cried Cheyne in his mother tongue to the crew; then he turned to Frewen: "There is something wrong on shore. 'Lemonte' is my brother-in-law's name, and they are calling for him." Then he stood up and shouted out—

"Friends, do you not know me? I am Randall. Where is my sister and her husband?"

A loud cry of astonishment burst from the natives, many of whom, throwing down their arms, sprang into the water, and clambering into the boat greeted the young man most affectionately; and then one of them, commanding silence, began talking rapidly to him.

"We must get ashore quickly," said Cheyne to Randall. "My brother-in-law has a number of dead and dying people in his house. There has been a mutiny on board that ship—but come on, he'll tell us all about it."

In another minute the boat was on the beach, and as Frewen and Cheyne jumped ont they were met by a handsome, dark-faced man about forty years of age, who grasped Cheyne's hands warmly.

"I never expected to see you, Randall," he said quietly, "but I thank God that you have come, and at such a time, too. Where is your ship?"

"Three hundred miles away. But we will tell you our story another time. How is Marie?"

"Well. She already hears the people shouting your name. Come to the house." Then he turned to Frewen and held out his hand. "My name is Raymond, and you are welcome to Samatau."

"And mine is Frewen. I hope you will accept any assistance I can give."

"Gladly. But I will tell you the whole story presently. I have two men dying in my house, three others wounded, and two dead."

He led the way along a shady, winding path to the house, on the wide verandah of which were seated a number of natives of both sexes, who made way for them to pass with low murmurs of "Talofa, aliia," {*} to the two strangers. Then in another moment Marie Raymond stepped softly out from the sitting-room, and threw her arms round her brother's neck.

* "Greeting, gentlemen."

"Thank God you are here, Randall," she said, leading the way into another room. "Tom will tell you of what has happened. I will return as soon as I can."

"How is Captain Marston?" asked Raymond, as she stood for a moment with her hand on the handle of the door.

"Still unconscious. Mrs. Marston is with him." She paused, and then turned her dark and beautiful tear-dimmed eyes to Frewen: "Tom, perhaps this gentleman might be able to do something. Will he come in and see?"

Raymond drew him aside. "Go in and see the poor fellow. He can't last long—his skull is fractured."

Frewen followed Mrs. Raymond into the large room, and saw lying on her own bed the figure of a man whose features were of the pallor of death. His head was bound up, and kneeling by his side, with her eyes bent upon his closed lids, was a woman, or rather a girl of twenty-two or twenty-three years of age. As, at the sound of footsteps, she raised her pale, agonised face, something like a gleam of hope came into it.

"Are you a doctor?" she asked in a trembling whisper.

The seaman shook his head respectfully. "No, madam; I would I were."

He leant over the bed, and looked at the still, quiet face of the man, whom he could see was in the prime of life, and whose regular, clear-cut features showed both refinement and strength of character.

"He still breathes," whispered the poor wife.

"Yes, so I see," said Frewen, as he rose. Then he asked Mrs. Raymond a few questions as to the nature of the wound, and learned that in addition to a fractured skull a pistol bullet had entered at the back of the neck.

"There is no hope, you think. I can see that by your face," said Mrs. Marston, suppressing a sob.

"I cannot tell, madam. But I do think that his condition is very, very serious."

She bent her head, and then sank on her knees again beside the bed, but suddenly she rose again, and placed her hand on Frewen's sleeve.

"I know that my husband must die, no human aid can save him. But will you, sir, go and see poor Mr. Villari. Mr. Raymond has hopes for him at least. And he fought very bravely for my husband."

Villari was the first mate of the ship, and was lying in another room, together with three wounded seamen. He was a small, wiry Italian, and when Frewen entered with Raymond and Mrs. Raymond, he waved his right hand politely to them, and a smile lit up his swarthy features. He had two bullet wounds, one a clean hole through the right shoulder, the other in the thigh. He had lost a great deal of blood, but none of his high courage, though Raymond at first thought he could not live.

"I am not going to die," he said. "Per Bacco, no."

Frewen spoke encouragingly to him and then turned his attention to the seamen, all of whom were Englishmen. None of them were severely wounded, and all that could be done for them had been done by Raymond and their own unwounded shipmates, of whom there were four.

"Now I shall tell you the story," said Raymond to Frewen and Cheyne, as he led the way to the verandah, on which a table with refreshments had been placed. "But, first of all, do you see that ship out there? Well, that is the Esmeralda. She is now in the possession of the mutineers, and has on board forty-five thousand dollars. You see that she is becalmed?"

"And likely to continue so for another three or four days, if I am any judge of the weather in this part of the Pacific," said Frewen, "I agree with you. And now, before I begin to tell you the story of the mutiny, I want to know if you two will help me to recapture her? You are seamen, and—"

Both men sprang to their feet.

"Yes, we will!"

"Ah! I thought you would not refuse. Now wait a moment," and calling to a young native who was near, he bade him go to the chief of Samatau and ask him to come to the house as quickly as possible.

"Malie, the chief of Samatau, will help us," he said to Frewen; "he has two hundred of the best fighting men in Samoa, and I shall ask him to pick out fifty. But we want a nautical leader—some one to take charge of the ship after we get possession of her."

"Now here is the story of the mutiny, told to me by poor Mrs. Marston."



CHAPTER V

"At daylight this morning, my wife and I were aroused by our servants, who excitedly cried to as to come outside. A boat, they said, was on the beach with a number of white men in it, some of whom were dead.

"I went down to the beach at once, and five minutes later had all the unfortunate wounded and unwounded people assisted to the house, for they were completely exhausted by what they had undergone, and were also suffering from thirst. Two of their number had succumbed to their wounds in the boat a few hours previously, so Villari, the mate, told me. Marston, who had been shot in the neck, was unconscious, and his wife who, as you saw, is little more than a girl, was herself wounded in the arm by a musket ball.

"We did all that we could do, and after Mrs. Marston had had an hour's rest, she and Villari told me their story.

"The Esmeralda is Marston's own ship, and left Valdivia, in Chile, for Manila about seven weeks ago. She is almost a new ship, only having been built at Aberdeen last year. Marston, who had just married, brought out a general cargo from London to Valdivia and other South American ports, and sold it at a very handsome profit. Whilst on the coast, fever broke out on board, and he lost his second mate and five A.B.'s, and the third mate and two others had to go into hospital. In their places he shipped a new second mate—a man named Juan Almanza—and twelve seamen, ten of whom were either Chilenos or Peruvians, and the remaining two Greeks. The former boatswain he promoted to the third mate's birth. Almanza proved to be a good officer, and the new men gave him satisfaction, though his agent at Valdivia had urged him not to take the two Greeks, who, he said, were likely to prove troublesome. Unfortunately he did not take the agent's advice, and said that he had often had Greeks with him on previous voyages, and found them very fair sailormen—much better than Chilenos or Mexicans.

"He had been paid for his cargo mostly in silver dollars, and the money was brought on board in as quiet a manner as possible, and he believed without the new hands knowing anything about it. Poor fellow; he was fatally mistaken! In all it amounted to thirty-five thousand dollars, and in addition to this there was a further sum of two thousand pounds in English gold on board—Marston, I must tell you, is, I imagine, a fairly wealthy man, for his wife told me that he had the Esmeralda built at a cost of six thousand pounds.

"He had been informed at Valdivia that a cargo of Chile flour, which could be bought very cheaply at Valparaiso, could be sold at a huge profit in Manila, and he thereupon bought a full cargo—six hundred tons—and sailed, as I have said, about seven weeks ago. All went well on board from the very first, although the English seamen did not much care about their foreign shipmates, who, however, did their duty after a fashion. Almanza, Mrs. Marston says, was in all respects an able and smart officer, and both she and her husband took a great liking to him—the scoundrel!

"The two Greeks—who, by the way, called themselves and shipped under the English names of John Foster and James Ryan—the Levantine breed do that trick very often—were in Almanza's watch, as were six of the Chilenos; and the mate one night, coming on deck when it was his watch below, was surprised to find Almanza and the two Greeks engaged in an earnest conversation. His suspicions were aroused, and he reported the matter to the captain, who, however, made light of it, and said that Almanza had told him that Foster and Ryan had been shipmates with him on a Sydney barque some years before, and that it was only natural that Almanza would relax discipline a little, and condescend to chat for a few minutes with men who had sailed with him previously.

"Ryan, the older of the two, had proved himself an excellent seaman, and both Marston and Villari felt sure, from the way in which he spoke to the other seamen, that he had at one time been an officer. In addition to Spanish he speaks both English and French remarkably well, and his manners and personal appearance are extremely good, and no one would take him to be a Greek. He, however, frankly admitted that his name was not Ryan and that he was a native of the island of Naxos in the AEgean Sea.

"At this time, Mr. Frewen, the Esmeralda was near these islands—in fact, Upolu was in sight; and Marston, knowing that there were some Europeans settled at the port of Apia, on the north side of the island, decided to put in there for fresh provisions, of which the ship was in need.

"Perhaps his decision made the scoundrelly Almanza imagine that he suspected him, and was only touching at Apia to rid himself of his second officer and his Greek and Chileno accomplices, for Mrs. Marston—who shudders when she mentions Almanza's name—says that shortly after the ship's course was altered for Apia, he went for'ard on some excuse, but in reality to talk to the Greeks in the fore-peak. He was absent about a quarter of an hour, and then went about his duties as usual.

"A little before six bells, Captain Marston was on the poop looking at the land through his glasses, Mrs. Marston was in her cabin sewing, Villari, with the boatswain and three A.B.'s (all Englishmen), were with the steward and third mate engaged in the lazzarette overhauling and re-stowing the provisions. Suddenly the captain was felled by a blow on the head dealt him from behind, and the mate and those with him were at the same moment ordered by Almanza to come up out of the lazzarette. He told them that he was in possession of the ship, and that they would be shot down if they attempted to resist. Villari and his men came up, and found the second mate and six of the mutineers in the cabin, all armed with pistols and cutlasses. Resistance was useless, and Almanza told Villari not to think of it. He (Villari) was then hustled into his own cabin and locked in, and the English seamen ordered on deck, where they, with the other Englishmen on board, were made to hoist out the longboat. Whilst this was being done Almanza, who had locked Mrs. Marston in her cabin, opened the door, and told her that she need feel no fear, but that she must come on deck to attend to her husband, who had been hurt She found Marston lying where he fell, and quite unconscious, with a Chileno standing guard over him. As the English members of the crew were hoisting out the longboat, Almanza told the steward—a negro—to get some provisions and some bottles of wine from the cabin. Then the two Greeks—who from the first had seemed bent on murder—interfered, and one of them suddenly raised his pistol and shot the unfortunate steward through the heart. The Chileno seamen applauded the act, and only Almanza's frenzied protests prevented them from slaughtering the unarmed Englishmen, the Greeks declaring that they (the mutineers) were only putting ropes round their necks by sparing any one of them—including Mrs. Marston.

"For some minutes it seemed as if there was to be a conflict between Almanza and his followers, but the mutineers appeared to yield to his appeals, and assisted in getting the longboat out. The captain was then lowered into the boat, and then Mrs. Marston and all the Englishmen but two followed; when suddenly Villari, who had succeeded in forcing his door, sprang up from the cabin with a pistol in each hand, and singling out Almanza, shot him through the chest, and with the second shot wounded one of the Chilenos in the face. But in another instant he himself fell, for the Greeks and several of the gang fired at him simultaneously, and he was also given a fearful blow on the head with a belaying-pin, partly stunning him, and then thrown overboard to drown. The two men remaining on deck saved their lives by jumping overboard at the same time.

"Most fortunately for the poor mate he fell near the boat, and was rescued by one of the seamen, who sprang overboard after him. But not satisfied with what they had already done, and enraged at the fall of their leader, the mutineers now began firing into the defenceless people in the boat at such a short range that it is marvellous that any one escaped.

"Before they were able to pull out of range, the captain, third mate, and one of the seamen were mortally wounded, and two others and Mrs. Marston also were hit Then the mutineers, evidently bent on the slaughter of the whole party, began to lower away one of the heavy quarter-boats, but although she was actually put in the water the villains changed their minds for some reason, and the longboat was not pursued."

"Ah!" said Frewen, "I expect they were afraid to leave the ship in case a breeze sprang up."

"So Villari says. However, they then began firing round shot at the longboat from the two nine-pounders on the quarter-deck—the Esmeralda is armed with six guns—but made such bad practice that after half a dozen shots had been fired they gave up the attempt.

"The ship at this time was in the Straits of Manono, and the boat was headed for the nearest land, which was Samatau—the four unwounded men keeping to the oars most manfully, only taking short spells every hour. As darkness came on they saw the lights of Samatau village, and came on without fear, for they knew that the natives of Samoa, though very warlike, were hospitable and friendly to Europeans. During the night the third mate and the badly wounded A.B. died, and poor Marston, who had never spoken since he had been first struck down, lay as you saw him a little while ago, without the slightest sign of returning consciousness. Villari, however, began to improve, and weak as he was, yet contrived to show one of the men how to dress Mrs. Marston's wound in a more efficient manner. He is a plucky little fellow.

"The boat would have reached here much sooner, only that Villari and his people could not find the passage through the reef, and several times struck on coral patches.

"Well, that is the whole of the story—and a very dreadful one it is too. I do feel so for that poor little woman. Her heart is breaking."

"Ay, indeed," said Frewen, "poor thing! She seems hardly more than a girl."

"However, please God, we shall get her husband's ship back," and Raymond's dark eyes sparkled. "Ah! here comes the chief. He will not fail us. He is one of the most renowned fighters in Samoa, is he not, Randall?"



CHAPTER VI

Malie, the supreme chief of the district, was indeed, as Raymond said, one of the most renowned fighters, not only on Upoln, but in all Samoa, and Frewen, as he shook hands with him, thought he had never seen so noble and imposing a figure. He was a man of about sixty years of age, with closely-cropped white hair and thick moustache, but so youthful was he in his carriage, and so smooth was the bright copper-red of his skin, that he seemed more like a man of thirty whose hair and moustache had become prematurely blanched. The upper portion of his huge but yet beautifully proportioned and muscular figure was bare to the waist, around which was wrapped many folds of tappa cloth bleached to a snowy whiteness, which accentuated the startling contrast of the bright blue tattooing which reached from his waist to his knees. Depending from his neck, and falling in a long loop across a broad chest scarred by many wounds, was a simple yet beautiful ornament consisting of some hundreds of discs of gleaming pearl-shell, perforated at the sides, and strung together by a thin cord of human hair. In his right hand he carried a fui, or fly-wisp, made of coco-nut fibre, and Frewen noticed during the conversation that followed that he used this with the dainty grace that characterises a Spanish lady with her fan.

Accompanying the chief was a tall, thin old man, named Talitaua, who was Malie's tulafale or orator—a position which in Samoa is one much coveted and highly respected, for the tulafale is in reality a Minister of War, and on his public utterances much depends. If he is possessed of any degree of eloquence, he can either avert or bring about war, just as he chooses to either inflame or subdue the passions of his audience when, rising and supporting himself on his polished staff of office, he first scans the expectant faces of the throng seated on the ground before him ere he opens his lips to speak. On this occasion, however, Talitaua had merely come with Malie as a personal friend anxious to learn privately what he would probably have to communicate to the assembled people as soon as the discussion with Raymond was concluded. Both he and the chief had already heard full details of the mutiny from Raymond, and they guessed that the planter had something further and of importance to say to them concerning it. After the usual courtesies so rigidly observed on visits of ceremony had passed between them and Raymond, they patiently awaited him to begin, though very curious to learn what was the occasion of Frewen's and Cheyne's unlooked-for appearance. Their natural politeness, however, as well as the never-to-be-infringed-upon Samoan etiquette, utterly forbade them to make even the slightest allusion to the matter; they would, they knew, learn in good time.

Seating themselves on chairs in European fashion at one side of the table, whilst Raymond and his two companions occupied those opposite, they first made inquiry as to the wounded men and Mrs. Marston, and the planter answered their polite queries. Then after a pause Raymond began by saying—

"This alii {*} is named Mr. Frewen. He is an officer of a vaa soia,{**} and is a friend of my wife's brother, and therefore is a friend of mine—and thine also, Malie toa o Samatau,{***} and Talitaua."

* Chief—gentleman.

** A whale-ship.

*** His full title, "Malie, warrior of Samatau." The present King Malietoa of Samoa is a descendant.

The chief and his orator bent their heads, but said nothing beyond a simple Lelei, lelei lava ("Good, very good").

Then Raymond went to the point as quickly as possible, and asked the chief if he would assist him, Frewen, and Cheyne in recapturing the ship from the mutineers. Speaking, of course, in Samoan, he said—

"As thou seest, Malie, the wind hath died away, and the ship is becalmed, so that the murderers on board cannot escape us if we do but act soon and come upon them suddenly."

The chief thought for a few moments, then answered—

"I will not refuse thee anything in reason that thou asketh me, Lemonti. But yet my people must be told of what is in thy mind."

"True. They shall know. But before I unfold to thee my plan to take this ship by surprise so that but little or no blood may be shed, I will pledge myself to the people of Samatan and to thee to act generously to them for the help they will give. The captain is hurt to death and cannot speak, and the lady his wife is too smitten with grief to consider aught but her husband, so on her behalf do I speak; for she is my countrywoman, and it would be a shameful thing for me did I not help her."

Then he went on, and dearly and lucidly detailed his scheme to the chief, afterwards translating his remarks into English for the benefit of Frewen, who listened with the keenest interest. Cheyne, of course, understood Samoan perfectly.

Raymond's plan was simple enough.

He proposed to take the Casilda's boat, and with Frewen, Cheyne, and a few natives go boldly off and board the ship, and representing himself as a trader anxious to buy European provisions, begin to work by throwing the mutineers off their guard, by warning them of the danger the ship was in through being in so close to the land during a calm, for the currents in the Straits of Manono were very strong and she would be carried on to the reef unless she was towed out of the danger limit towards which he would say (and truthfully enough) that she was drifting. The mutineers, he felt convinced, would feel so alarmed that they would listen to and accept his suggestion to let him engage the services of half a dozen native boats, whose united efforts would soon place the ship out of danger by towing her out of the danger zone. Then he and those with him would bide their time, and at a given signal spring upon the mutineers, who would be completely off their guard.

He entered into the details so minutely that not only Frewen and Cheyne, but Malie as well, expressed the warmest admiration and approval. Then he told Malie exactly what to do when he (the chief) saw the whale-boat leaving the ship to return to the shore, and Malie listened carefully to his instructions and promised that they should be carried out exactly as he desired.

Then the stalwart chief and his orator rose to take their leave, for they had to call the people together and acquaint them with what was to be done.

"Have no fear, Lemonti, that the calm will break," he said in reply to a fear expressed by the planter that a breeze might, after all, spring up and carry the ship too far off the land for the attempt to be made. "'Tis a calm that will last for many days. Look at the mountains of Savai'i"—and he pointed out the cloud-capped summits of the range that traverses the great island of Savai'i—"when the clouds lie white and heavy and low down it meaneth no wind for many days, not as much as would stir a palm-leaf. But there will be rain at night—much rain."

"The better for our purpose," said Raymond, as the chief left the house. "Now, Randall, we must hurry along. Take half a dozen of my people, and let them catch a couple of pigs and plenty of fowls; then cut about a dozen or so large bunches of bananas and get enough other fruit—pineapples, sugar-cane, guavas, and young coco-nuts as will make a big show in the boat. Mr. Frewen and I will join you in about a quarter of an hour, and then you and he can show the natives how to stow the things, as I have suggested to the chief."

Returning to the house he sought out his wife.

"Marie, we are going to recapture that ship. Don't be alarmed, and don't say anything to poor Mrs. Marston till you see us returning; but you may tell the mate."

Mrs. Raymond never for one instant thought of trying to dissuade her husband from a mission which she felt was full of danger. She kissed him, and said, "Tell me what to get ready, Tom."



CHAPTER VII

It was three o'clock in the afternoon, and the decks of the Esmeralda gleamed dazzlingly white under the burning rays of the Samoan sun, as she lay motionless upon a sea as calm as some sheltered mountain lake or reed-margined swamp hidden away in the quiet depths of the primeval forest. Twenty miles away to the south and east of the ship, the purple-grey crests of the mountains of Savai'i rose nearly five thousand feet in air, and, nearer the long verdant slope of beautiful Upolu stretched softly and gently upwards from the white beaches of the western point to the forest-clad sides of Mount Tofoa—ten miles distant. Still nearer to the ship, and shining like a giant emerald lying within a circlet of snow, was the island of Manono, the home or birthplace of all the chiefly families of Samoa for many centuries back. Almost circular in shape, and in no place more than fifty feet in height, it was covered with an ever-verdant forest of breadfruit, pandanus, orange and palm-groves, broken here and there by the russet-hued villages of the natives, built just where the shining beach met the green of the land. And the whole seemed to float on the bosom of the lagoon, which, completely encompassed by the barrier reef, slumbered peacefully—its waters undisturbed except when they moved responsive to the gently-flowing current from the blue ocean beyond, or were rippled by the paddle of a fisherman's canoe. A mile beyond Manono, and midway between it and the "iron-bound" coast of Savai'i, was the little volcanic isle of Apolima—once in olden times the fortress that guarded the passage through the straits, now occupied only by a few families of fisher-folk dwelling in peace and plenty in the village nestling at the foot of the long-extinct volcano. Overhead a sky of wondrous spotless blue.

* * * * *

On the quarter-deck of the Esmeralda three of the mutineers were seated together under the shade of a small temporary awning, engaged in an earnest conversation. A fourth person—Almanza—who was at that moment the subject of their conversation, was lying in the captain's stateroom, immediately beneath them; the rest of the gang were idling about on the main or fore decks smoking their inevitable cigarettes, and waiting till the Levantine "Ryan," whom they now recognised as leader, called them to hear the result of the discussion.

The Chileno, who was seated with Ryan and Foster, was named Rivas, and had recommended himself to them by reason of his ferocious and merciless disposition. Long before the mutiny occurred he, with the Greeks, had insisted upon the necessity of murdering not only the captain, first officer, steward, and all the English seamen, but Mrs. Marston as well. Almanza, however, protested so strenuously that they reluctantly consented not to resort to murder, if it could possibly be avoided; but their lust for slaughter was too great to be controlled when Villari made his gallant attempt to aid his captain.

On the top of the skylight was spread a chart, at which Ryan was looking, trying to find out as near as he could the ship's position. He could read English, and easily recognised the islands of Apolima and Manono, both of which were shown on the chart.

"That is where we are now, or about there," he said, taking a pencil in his hand and making a mark on the spot. "But we are drifting towards the reefs, and must anchor once we get into soundings—or else go ashore."

"Do you think he is going to die?" inquired Rivas, with a gesture towards the cabin.

"How can I tell, comrade?" replied the Greek with an angry snarl. "Only that we want him badly to navigate the ship, it would be best for us if he does die—for two reasons."

His fellow-scoundrels nodded assent. The two reasons they knew were, firstly, that Almanza had proved to be too timorous as regarded the taking of life, and secondly that his death would give them a greater share of plunder.

"Well, what are we to do?" asked Rivas.

"What can we do?" exclaimed Foster fiercely, as he shook his black-haired, greasy and ear-ringed head. "We must wait and see if he gets better—unless we drift ashore in the night and get our throats cut by los Indios over there," and he indicated the islands.

"Bah!" growled his countryman. "Did I not tell you that I heard the captain say over and over again that these people are not savages? But what we do want is a breeze, so that we can work off the land—for how are a few men going to tow a heavy ship like this against a two-knot current? We could not move her." Then he called out, with a sneering inflection in his tones, "Come aft, comrades, and we shall drink to our brave captain's speedy recovery."

The rest of the mutineers but one obeyed with alacrity, just as the man who remained, and who was standing on the topgallant foc'sle, gave a loud cry—

"A boat is coming from the shore!"

In an instant confusion ensued; but Ryan, picking up Marston's glass, angrily bade them be silent. The boat had approached to within a mile of the ship, and Ryan saw that she was pulling four oars.

"It is not the captain's boat, amigos," he said, "and there seem to be only a few people in her. But be ready."

The Esmeralda, in addition to the six guns she carried, was plentifully provided with small-arms—enough for a crew of thirty men; and all of these, as well as the big guns, were kept loaded, for after the escape of the captain's boat the mutineers had worked most energetically to put the ship in a state of defence—both Almanza and Ryan recognising the possibility of the survivors of Marston's party reaching Apia, and there obtaining assistance to enable them to recapture the ship.

The boat came on steadily, the blades of her four oars flashing in the bright sunlight. Ryan continued to look at her, and felt quite satisfied when he saw she contained but seven persons, three of whom were Europeans, and four natives.

"It is a whale-boat," he cried; "and there are three white men in her and four natives. She is very deep in the water, and I can see a lot of green stuff in the bows." (These were the bunches of bananas, purposely stowed in a pile for'ard, so as to indicate the boat's peaceful mission.)

The mutineers—with the exception of the two Greeks—who remained on the quarter-deck, dressed in Mars-ton's and Villari's clothes—stood in the waist. All were armed with pistols, and a number of loaded muskets were lying along the waterways close to their hands, if needed.

When within easy speaking distance of the ship Ryan went to the rail and hailed the boat.

"Boat ahoy!"

The four oars ceased pulling, and Frewen, who was steering, stood up and answered the hail.

"Good morning, captain. I've seen you since daylight. You are drifting too close in, so I've come off to warn you to tow off."

"Come on board, please," replied the Greek, who, as Frewen spoke, saw that the boat was deeply-laden with fruit; and the cackling of fowls and sudden squeal of a pig convinced him that everything was right. And then, in a few minutes, Frewen and Raymond clambered up the side and walked quickly aft to where Ryan stood on the poop.

"How do you do, captain?" said Frewen, holding out his hand. "Where are you from, sir?"

"Valparaiso to Batavia," was the glib reply, as the mutineer shook hands with his visitors. "Are you living on shore there?" and he nodded towards Samatau.

"Yes, this is my partner. We have a cotton plantation there. We have brought you off a boatload of fresh provisions. Perhaps you can spare us a cask of salt beef in exchange? Pork is the only meat we have on shore."

"Very well, I can easily do that," was the reply.

Frewen went to the side and hailed the watchful Cheyne.

"Pass up all that stuff, Randall," he said.

Aided by the Chileno seamen, Cheyne and the four natives soon cleared the boat of the livestock and fruit, whilst Ryan, who had not yet asked his visitors below, continued to talk to them on deck, although he told one of the crew, whom he addressed as "steward," to bring up refreshments.

"Now, captain," continued Frewen, speaking in the most friendly manner, "you must set to and tow your ship away from here as quietly as possible, or you will go ashore if this calm lasts. You can't anchor anywhere near here, the water is too deep."

"Perhaps you will help me? I am short-handed. Twelve of my crew took the longboat and deserted from me during the voyage, and I am in a tight place."

"Oh, well, captain, we must try and help you out of it to the best of our ability." He raised his glass. "I am glad to have met you, Captain———," and he paused.

"Ryan is my name. The ship is the Esmeralda."

"And a beautiful ship she is, too. You must be proud to command such a splendid vessel, sir."

"She is a fine ship," was the brief reply. "Now will you please tell me how you are going to help me?"



CHAPTER VIII

Frewen seemed to think for a moment or two ere he replied; then he looked at Raymond inquiringly.

"How long would it take to send to Falealili,{*} and ask Tom Morton, the trader, to come with his two boats and help the captain?" he asked.

* A large native town on the south side of Upolu.

"A day at least—too long altogether with such a strong current setting the ship towards the reef."

"Ah, yes, I daresay it would," he said meditatively; then, as if struck with a sudden inspiration, he added quickly, "What about Malie? He has any number of boats—a dozen at least."

"Just the man!" replied Raymond. "He will let the captain have all the boats and men to man them that are wanted—but he'll want to be paid for it."

"Certainly," interrupted the mutineer, who little imagined how adroitly he was being meshed. "I'll pay anything reasonable. Who is he?"

"Oh, he is a big chief living quite near me, and a decent enough fellow. He has a number of large native-built boats. The natives call them taumualua, which means sharp at both ends.{*} They seat from six to eight paddlers on each side. Five, or even four such boats, well manned, would make the ship move along. Three or four hours' towing will put her into the edge of the counter current setting to the south and eastward away from the land, and then she'll be out of danger, no matter how long the calm lasts."

In a few minutes it was decided that the boat should return to the shore, where Raymond was to see the chief and arrange with him to provide five or six well-manned taunwalua, which Frewen said should be alongside to receive the tow-lines within two or three hours.

As he (Frewen) was about to go over the side Ryan made a half apology for the ship's crew carrying arms, at which the young man smiled and said—

"Oh, a good many captains that touch at Samoa for the first time keep their crews armed, imagining the natives might try to cut them off. But the Samoans are a different kind of people to the savages of the Western Pacific; there has only been one ship cut off in this group, and that must have occurred fifty years ago."{**}

* These boats are usually built from the wood of the breadfruit-tree. Not a single nail is used in their construction; every plank is joined to its fellow by lashings of coconut fibre.

** A fact.

Just as he had taken his seat beside Raymond and Cheyne, the Greek said politely—

"If there is no necessity for both of you gentlemen to go on shore again, won't one of you stay on board and have some supper?"

This was just the invitation that Frewen was looking for, but he appeared to hesitate for a moment or two.

"Thank you, captain, I think I will. There is certainly nothing for me to do on shore that my partner cannot do as well or better than myself. And I should like to hear any news from Europe that you may have to tell."

As he clambered up the side again the boat pushed off, and the stalwart native crew sent her, now she was lightened of her load of provisions, skimming through the water.

When the American returned to the quarter-deck, Ryan introduced to him "Mr. Foster, my second mate," and added that in addition to the misfortune of losing twelve of his crew when coming through the Paumotu Group, his chief officer had accidentally shot himself, and shattered his collar-bone.

"Indeed!" said Frewen, with an air of concern, instantly surmising that the injured man was either Almanza or the Chileno sailor whom Villari had shot. "Is he getting on all right?"

"Not at all well—and unfortunately I do not know anything about a fractured collar-bone."

Frewen replied, with perfect truth, that he had seen several broken collar-bones. Perhaps he might be of assistance.

"Captain Ryan" thanked him, and said he would at once go down, see how the injured man was getting on, and would send for him in ten minutes or so. Meanwhile would Mr. Frewen join Mr. Foster in a glass of wine.

The young whaling officer sat down near the skylight, and as the dark-faced, dirty-looking ruffian seated opposite passed him, with an amiable grin, a decanter of excellent sherry, wondered which of the two Levantines was the greater cut-throat of the two. Ryan, as he called himself, was somewhat of a dandy. He did not wear ear-rings; and Villari's clothes—which fitted him very well—made him look as if he had been used to dress well all his life. Foster, on the other hand, who was arrayed in poor Marston's garments, was the typical Greek seaman one might meet any day in almost any seaport town of importance. He was a fairly tall man, well and powerfully built, but his hawk-like and truculent visage inspired the American with a deeper aversion than that with which he regarded Ryan—who, however, was in reality the more tigerish-natured of the two.

As they sat talking, Frewen happened to look along the deck for'ard, and caught sight of a seaman with the lower part of his face bandaged. He was standing at the galley door talking to some one inside, but happening to see the American looking at him, he hurriedly slipped round the for'ard end of the galley out of sight.

"Ah," thought Frewen, "that is the other fellow that Villari put out of action—the man below is Almansa."

His surmise he found was correct, for at the end of a quarter of an hour, Ryan, who had been giving Almansa all the news in the interval, appeared and asked him to come below and see the chief officer. He led the way below, and entering the officer's cabin, said—

"Here is the gentleman from the shore, Mr. Almanza. Let him see your hurt."

The leader of the mutineers was evidently in great pain, and feverish as well, and Frewen in a few seconds found by examination that a splinter of the fractured bone had been driven into the muscles of the shoulder, where it seemed to be firmly embedded, although one end of it could almost be felt by gentle pressure, so close was it under the skin. The bullet itself had come out at the side of the neck.

Telling them that, although he was no doctor, he was sure that it was most important that the splinter of bone should be removed, he offered to attempt it. The fractured collar-bone, he assured them, would knit of itself if the patient kept quiet.

In those days the medicine chests of even fine ships like the Esmeralda were but poorly equipped, when contrasted with those to be found on much smaller vessels thirty years later, when antiseptic surgery and anaesthetics were beginning to be understood. But Almanza, who was in agony, begged the visitor to do what he could; and without further hesitation, Frewen took from the medicine chest what he considered was the most suitable knife, made an incision, and in less than five minutes had the splintered piece of bone out. Then came the agonising but effective sailor's styptic—cotton wool soaked in Friar's Balsam.

Almanza tried to murmur his thanks, but feinted, and when he came to again, he found himself much freer from pain, and the poor negro steward's successor standing beside him with a tumbler of wine and water.

"You must keep very quiet," said Frewen, as he turned to leave the room, speaking coldly, for although he was very sympathetic with any one suffering pain, he could not but remember what the man before him had done.

Returning on deck, he found Foster and Ryan talking on the poop, whilst the crew of Chilenos were sitting about on the hatches eating pineapples and bananas, and drinking coconuts. Even a non-seafaring man would have thought that there was a lack of discipline displayed, but Frewen, whose life had been spent on whaleships where the slightest liberty on the part of foc'sle hands towards the after-guard meets with swift and stern punishment, felt as if he would have liked to have kicked them all in turn, and then collectively.

"Never mind," he thought to himself, "I trust they are all reserved for higher things—they all deserve the gallows, and I sincerely trust they will get it."

Both Ryan and Foster, he could see, had not the slightest doubt of his and Raymond's bona-fides, and at supper both men were extremely affable to him. At the same time he thought he could perceive that they were anxious as to what had become of the captain's boat, for they asked him casually if there was any shipping at Apia, or at any of the other ports in the group.

"Only the usual local trading vessels," he replied. "Whenever a stranger comes in—even if it is only a native craft—I get the news at my place by runners in an hour or two."

And Almanza's mind, too, was at rest, for when he was groaning in agony in his bank, and he was told that a boat from the shore was coming alongside, he had started up and reached for his pistols. But Ryan had satisfied him completely.

"We could have shot every one of them before the boat came alongside, had we wanted to, amigo," he said.

"Had they no arms?" asked the wounded man.

"None—not so much as a cutlass even. Diego, Rivas, and Garcia, who helped them to discharge the boat, saw everything taken out of her but the oars and sails. There was a big man—a half-caste, who was dressed like a white man—in charge of the four Samoans. I asked him to come on deck and have a glass of grog; but he said his crew did not want him to leave the boat. They were frightened, he said, because our men had pistols in their belts."

Almanza gave a sigh of relief. "And you are sure they will return and tow us?"

"Sure, amigo."

And just as supper was over, and Frewen and Ryan returned to the deck, a sailor called out that the whale boat and five others were in sight.

"Ah, my partner is not the man to lose time in an important matter like this, Captain Ryan," said Frewen; "your tow-line will be tautened out before the three hours we mentioned."



CHAPTER IX

Soon after Raymond and the old chief with his followers had set out for the ship, and when the swift tropic night had closed in upon the island, Captain Marston died. He was conscious when his kindly host and Randall Cheyne had returned, and before he passed away, thanked the planter sincerely for all that he had done for his wife, his crew, and himself; for he well knew that his end was near.

"I fear that nothing will ever be heard of my ship again," he said, in a whisper. "They will scuttle or burn her. My poor wife!" and he pressed her hand. "But thank God, Amy, you will not be quite penniless. Mercado" (his agent in Valparaiso) "will have about two or three thousand pounds to pay you for some cargo he bought from me. You must go there. He is an honourable man, and will not seek to evade his liabilities. I know him well."

Raymond, whose heart was overflowing with pity for the dying man, could no longer restrain himself. At first he had decided not to say a word to Marston about the intended recapture of the ship, for fear it would excite him; but now, when he saw how calmly and collectedly he spoke of her future to his wife, he changed his mind, and, bending down, said:—

"Captain Marston, I must say a few words to you and Mrs. Marston. I did not intend to do so just now, but I know that they will bring you peace of mind, and help you to recovery. I have good news for you."

Marston looked at him eagerly, and his wife, with her hands clasped, moved a little nearer to the planter, who was speaking in very low tones so as not to disturb or excite a man whom he knew was dying bodily, but whose brain was alive.

"Is it about my ship?"

"Yes. She is within six miles of this house, lying becalmed, and, before midnight, will be recaptured by some good friends of mine, and at anchor in this bay by daylight."

Marston's lips quivered, and the agonising look of inquiry and doubt in his eyes was so piteous to behold that Raymond went on more rapidly.

"You may absolutely rely upon what I say. The Esmeralda has been in sight since early in the forenoon. I boarded her this morning with the express purpose of seeing if it were possible to recapture her, and have only just returned. And I assure you on my word of honour that she shall be recaptured before midnight, without bloodshed, I trust; for the mutineers are completely off their guard, believing I am returning with fifty natives in several boats to tow the ship out of danger, purely out of kindness to their leader."

"You are indeed a good friend," murmured Marston slowly and haltingly. "My wife has told me your name... I know my time is short. If you recapture my ship... she is worth six thousand pounds, and the specie on board amounts to nine thousand. I commend my wife to your care———"

Raymond pressed his hand, and urged him not to say anything further, but Marston, whose eyes were now lightened by that ephemeral light so often seen in the eyes of the dying, went on—

"I commend my wife to your care... and Villari—is he dead?"

"No, Harry," whispered Mrs. Marston, "he is not dead, but badly wounded."

"Poor Villari... a born sailorman, though an Italian.... Mr. Raymond, Amy... Let him command.... I should have taken his advice... And give him five hundred pounds, Amy.... You, Mr. Raymond, will be entitled to a third of the value of the ship and her cargo... You understand?"

"I will not take a penny," said Raymond, as he rose. "Now I must be going. But have no fear for the Esmeralda. She will be at anchor in this bay to-morrow morning."

Marston put his hand gently over towards him, and pressing it softly, Raymond withdrew.

His wife met him at the door. Her dark, Spanishlike face showed traces of tears, but she smiled bravely as he put his arms around her and kissed her.

"Tom, dear, you must not be angry. I have not been crying for fear that something may happen to you if there is a fight with those dreadful men on board the ship—for I am sure that you will come back to me and our little one safe and sound—but I do so pity poor Mrs. Marston, Tom, if Captain Marston dies."

"I think that there is no possible hope of his recovery, dear."

"Then she must stay with us, Tom, for some time, until she is stronger. She will need to have a woman's care soon."

Raymond kissed his wife again. "As you will, Marie; you always think of others. And I shall be very glad if she will stay with us."

Ten minutes later she walked down to the beach, and watched her husband and Malie with his followers depart, and then she slowly returned home along a winding path bordered by shaddock trees, whose slender branches were weighted down with the great golden-hued fruit. As she reached the verandah steps a pretty little girl of four years of age ran up to her, and held out her arms to be taken up.

"Where has father gone, Muzzie?" she said in English, and then rapidly added in Samoan, "Ua alu ia i moana?" ("Has he gone upon the sea?")

"Yes, Loise. He has gone upon the sea, but will soon return. Where is Malu?"

"Here, lady," replied a woman's voice in the soft Samoan tongue, and a pleasant-faced, grey-haired woman of fifty came down the steps, and took the child from her mother's arms, and as she did so, whispered, "The tide hath turned to the ebb."{*}

* Note by the Author.—Nearly all Polynesians and Micronesians believed most firmly that the dissolution of soul from body always (excepting in cases of sudden death by violence or accident) occurred when the tide is on the ebb. From a long experience of life in the Pacific Islands, the writer is thoroughly imbued with and endorses that belief. The idea of the passing away of life with the ebbing of the tide will doubtless seem absurd to the European and civilised mind, but it must be remembered that an inborn and inherited belief, such as this, does, with many so-called semi-savage races, produce certain physical conditions that are well understood by pathologists.

"Ay, good Malu. I know it. So keep the child within thy own room, so that the house may be quiet."

Old Malu, who had nursed Mrs. Raymond's mother, bent her head in assent, and went inside, and her mistress sat down in one of the cane-work lounge chairs on the wide verandah and closed her eyes, for she was wearied, physically and mentally. Her nerves had been strained greatly by the events of the day, and now the knowledge that within a few feet of where she sat, a life was passing away, and a woman's heart was breaking, saddened her greatly.

"I must not give way," she thought. "I must go and see how the wounded men are doing."

But ere she knew it, there came the low but hoarse murmuring cries of myriad terns and gulls flying homewards to the land, mingled with the deep evening note of the blue mountain pigeons; and then kindly slumber came, and rest for the troubled brain and sorrowing heart.

She had slept for nearly an hour when a young native girl servant, who had been left to wait upon Mrs. Marston, came quickly but softly along the verandah and touched her arm.

"Awake, Marie,{*} and come to the white lady."

* It will doubtless strike the reader as being peculiar that an educated and refined woman such as I have endeavoured to portray in Mrs. Raymond would allow a servant to address her by her Christian name. But the explanation is very simple: In many European families living in Polynesia and in Micronesia the native servants usually address their masters and mistresses and their children by their Christian names— unless it is a missionary household, when the master would be addressed as "Misi "(Mr.) and the mistress as "Misi fafine "(Mrs.). The difference does not in the least imply that the servant speaks to the lay white man and his wife in a more familiar manner than he would to his spiritual teacher. No disrespect nor rude familiarity is intended— quite the reverse; it is merely an affectionate manner of speaking to the employer, not as an employer, but as the friend of the household generally. It is related of the martyred missionary John Williams, that a colleague of his in Tahiti once reproved a native youth for addressing Mr. Williams as "Viriamu" (Williams) instead of "Misi Yiriamu" (Mr. Williams), whereupon the pioneer of missionary enterprise in the South Seas remarked—" It does not matter, Mr. ——-, I infinitely prefer to be called 'Viriamu' than 'Tione Viriamu Mamae' (the Sacred, or Reverend, John Williams)."

She rose and followed the girl to the room where Marston lay. His wife was kneeling by him with her lips pressed to his.

Marie Raymond knelt beside her, and passed her arm around her waist.



CHAPTER X

Closely followed by the five native boats, that in which Raymond was seated with Malie, and which was steered by Randall Cheyne, first came alongside, and the latter called out to Foster, who was standing in the waist, to pass down the end of the tow line. This was at once done, and then, as Malie and Raymond left the boat and ascended to the deck, Cheyne went ahead with his tow line, and was soon joined by the native craft, and within a quarter of an hour the Esmeralda was moving through the water.

The instructions given to the half-caste by the chief and Frewen were to tow the ship to the south-east, with the land on the port hand. This would not only take her out of danger, but would prevent suspicion being engendered in the minds of the mutineers by their seeing that she was actually being taken away from, instead of towards the land. Both Frewen and Malie had decided that she was not to be re-captured till she was well into soundings, for events might arise which would necessitate her being brought to an anchor, especially if continuous heavy rain should fall during the night.

As soon as Raymond and the stalwart chief ascended to the poop, the pseudo-captain received them most affably, complimented them on the smart manner in which the boats had gone ahead with the line, and then asked them to take some refreshment The offer was accepted, for neither had had the inclination to eat anything on shore—they, like their men, were too eager to get possession of the ship to trouble about food.

Ryan sat at the table with them as they ate, and repeated his fiction regarding the accident to his chief officer, at which the planter politely expressed his concern. Then the mutineer, in a casual sort of a way, asked Raymond if there had been any English or American war-ships cruising about Samoa lately.

"No, not for a long time, but I did hear that the American corvette Adams was expected here last year, but she must have passed by here, and gone on to Fiji There is always work for a man-of-war there at any time—the Fijians are a rough lot, and hardly a month passes without some European trader or sailor being killed and eaten, or else badly hurt. Even at the present time all the people living in the eastward islands of the Fiji Group are rank cannibals. It is a place to be avoided."

"Ah, well, I won't go near there," said the mutineer, somewhat meditatively.

"No, of course not," said the planter; "I suppose that your course for Batavia will take you to the northwest after you leave here—Fiji is six hundred miles to the south-west."

"I did think of putting in there when my mate met with his accident—thought I would find a doctor there; but now, thanks to your friend, I shall not need one for him—he is much better already."

"That is fortunate," said Raymond: "he might have died before you could reach the port of Levuka in Fiji. And besides that, I doubt if you would find a doctor living there. I have never heard of any medical man being settled in Fiji. On the other hand you could have left him on shore, where he would at least have met with good nursing from some of the English ladies there; and you could easily have obtained another mate; there are dozens of ex-skippers and mates idling about in Fiji."

Ryan had learnt all he wanted to know, and he changed the subject. He was still anxious about Almanza not living—for no one could tell what might occur to the Esmeralda if he died and the ship was left without a navigator. He (Ryan) and Foster would have had no objection to ridding themselves of him, were either one of them able to navigate the ship as far as the Philippine Islands. They had all three previously agreed with the rest of the crew as to their future plans, after they had disposed of Marston and those who were faithful to him. When within sight of Luzon—and abreast of Manila—the ship was to be scuttled, and the mutineers with their plunder in two boats were to make for a part of the coast where there was a village, well-known to Rivas and Garcia. Here the money was to be divided, and every man was to shift for himself—some to go to Manila, others taking passage to that den of thieves, the Portuguese settlement of Maoao, where they meant to enjoy themselves after their manner.

When Raymond and the chief returned on deck, they found the ship was making good progress through the smooth sea, the natives in the boats singing a melodious chorus as, all in perfect unison, they plunged their broad-bladed paddles in the water, and the tow line surged and shook off thousands of phosphorescent drops at every united stroke. The night was dark, but not quite starless, and presently Frewen, who was talking to Foster, remarked that some heavy rain would fall in a short time.

"Our natives won't like that," said Raymond to "Captain Ryan"; "like all Kanakas, they hate being wetted with rain, though they will spend half a day in the rivers bathing and playing games in the water."

"A few bottles of grog will keep up their courage," said Frewen, "especially some rum. Have you any to spare, captain?"

"Any amount."

"Then I'll tell Cheyne to let the boats come alongside in turn, and we'll give all the natives a good rousing nip before the rain comes."

He walked for'ard and stood on the topgallant foc'sle and gave a loud hail.

"Boat ahoy!"

The singing ceased in an instant, and then Randall's voice answered—

"Hallo! what is it?"

"Come aboard and get a glass of grog. Tell the men in the other boats they can follow in turn."

"Ay, ay, sir," replied the half-caste in such loud tones that he was heard distinctly on the after-deck, "they'll be glad enough of it; we'll get plenty of cold fresh water presently outside, and some rum to put inside will be just the thing."

Both Raymond and the two Greeks laughed, and then a minute or two later Cheyne and his boat's crew were alongside, and were given a pint of rum between them. They drank it off "neat," and after lighting their pipes, went back to their boat, and let another come alongside. She was manned by a dozen natives, who were all given a stiff glass of grog. They remained but a few minutes, and then went off to give place to the third boat, in which were twenty men. They scrambled over the side, laughing and talking, and then, just as the first five or six of them had been served, the rain poured suddenly down and made such a terrific noise that the shouts of the men in the other boats could not be heard, and the ship was at once enveloped in a thick steamy mist, which rendered even objects on deck invisible.

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