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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesJohn Deane Of Nottingham: Historic Adventures By Land And Sea - Chapter 32. The Island Captured
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John Deane Of Nottingham: Historic Adventures By Land And Sea - Chapter 32. The Island Captured Post by :Zoderami Category :Long Stories Author :William H. G. Kingston Date :May 2012 Read :1548

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John Deane Of Nottingham: Historic Adventures By Land And Sea - Chapter 32. The Island Captured


"The game is not over yet," observed Deane, who with Elizabeth still stood on the rock watching the progress of the fight. "The crew of the frigate are busily employed in repairing damages. As soon as that is done, and the other two ships come up, depend upon it, they will attack the island, and, with the strong force the English will then have, the pirates will be utterly unable to resist them."

"Alas! alas! I wish we could have escaped from the island before this had occurred! I tremble for the fate of my poor mother, for such I must still call her--and what will become of Master Pearson? for, as far as I can judge, he seems to be the head of the whole community."

"For the kindness with which he has ever treated you, if he escapes with his life from the battle, I will use all my influence to protect him," answered Deane. "At the same time, I think it likely he will fight to the last. He seems a man who would not yield, as long as a hope of success remains."

"Let me go then and tell my poor mother of what has occurred, and prepare her for the worst," exclaimed Elizabeth.

"Oh, no! stay here, let me entreat you!" he answered. "You will be safer on this rock, and I may possibly be able to make some signal to the boats as they come in, and thus you will escape the desperate struggle which is likely to take place when the crews land and attack the pirates. Or stay! if you can persuade Mistress Pearson to come here, she will be safer than in her own house. But you must not go alone: I will accompany you, and try and bring her back."

To this plan Elizabeth willingly agreed, and she and Deane immediately hurried forward towards the village. The alarm of the poor lady was very great when she heard what was likely to occur, but she positively refused to quit the house.

"Go, go!" she replied to Elizabeth's entreaties. "Leave me to my fate: Mr Deane will protect you better than I can, and you are not bound either to that unhappy man my husband or to me."

Deane had now some difficulty in persuading Elizabeth to return with him, for she was unwilling to leave poor Mistress Pearson to the danger to which she would be exposed should the village be stormed, as it was too likely to be. At length, however, she yielded to her and Jack's united entreaties, and returned to the rock with Deane. By the time they reached it, the other English vessels had almost come up with their crippled consort, and a considerable flotilla of boats was seen collecting round them. The pirates meantime, having warped their vessel into the harbour, had placed her across its mouth, so that her guns pointed directly down towards an enemy approaching in that direction. A considerable number of the people were also engaged on shore in throwing up breastworks at various points likely to be assailed. Guns were being brought down from the stores and from the other vessels up the harbour, and every effort was being made which desperate men could think of to defend the place. The English seemed to guess what the pirates were about by the rapidity of their movements, for not a moment was lost after the vessels had met, before the boats began to pull at a rapid rate towards the mouth of the harbour. There were twelve boats in all, carrying a considerable body of men. The ships at the same time stood in as close as they could venture, to cover the attack with their guns.

Between the rock on which Deane and Elizabeth stood, was a sandy bay, affording tolerably safe landing. This spot the pirates seemed to have overlooked, though the English were evidently aware of it, for while one party of boats pulled towards the mouth of the harbour, another, suddenly leaving the main body, made a dash towards the bay, for the purpose of landing before the pirates discovered it and were prepared to resist them. On came five boats at a rapid rate, the water foaming at their bows, as their crews urged them through it. Deane could with difficulty resist the temptation of hurrying forward to meet them, but he could not leave Elizabeth, nor could he place her in the danger to which she would be exposed had he carried her with him. As soon as the ships came close enough they opened their fire at the hastily thrown up forts at the harbour's mouth, while the flotilla of boats dashed forward for the purpose of storming them before the enemy had recovered from the effects of the cannonading. The pirates, however, had been too long accustomed to desperate fighting of all sorts to be easily daunted, and the places of those who fell were quickly supplied by others who rushed forward to work their guns. Before, however, they could load and fire them, the boats' crews, springing on shore, rushed forward and attacked them, hanger in hand, and quickly mastered the fort.

The pirate ship now opened her fire upon the boats advancing up the harbour. This told with great effect, and again and again they were struck, but still undaunted, they pulled on. Meantime the other boats had reached the bay, and their crews also quickly threw themselves on shore. The pirates did not perceive their intention till it was too late to prevent them, and now in steady order they were soon advancing up from the shore towards the fort, which was also greatly annoying the boats in their advance. Taken in the rear, its defenders were quickly cut down, and now the party of English blue-jackets rushed up towards the pirate ship, but some of her guns being directed at them and others at the boats, no great loss was sustained by either. So quickly indeed did the party advance, that very few shot took effect among them. At length they got close up to the ship and opened a hot fire of musketry upon her killing and wounding the men at her guns. The boats were thus able to advance with much less molestation than before, and getting alongside, their crews with loud shouts dashed on board. The pirates fought desperately, but nothing could resist the courage of the English. The outlaws were seen jumping overboard on either side, and many were shot while attempting to swim on shore. No quarter was asked for by them. They had seldom given it themselves. Still, however, they exhibited great courage and hardihood, fighting desperately to the last. Meantime a party of them who had remained on shore, manning several boats, put off to the rescue of their comrades. Thus before the English could prevent them, a considerable number had managed to escape from the ship, taking their way to a point up the harbour where they could land without being molested.

The men-of-war's boats had been left with their boatkeepers in the bay. As soon as Deane saw that he could reach them without running the risk of encountering the pirates, he determined to place Elizabeth on board them.

"If we stay here, we shall very probably fall in with the buccaneers, who are likely to fly to this rock in the hope of defending themselves. Our way is now clear to the boats, and I will carry you there," he said, taking Elizabeth's arm.

"Whatever you think best I am ready to do," she answered; and they hurried towards the bay.

Fortunately, the officer in charge of the boats belonged to Deane's own ship, and recognising him, at once received Elizabeth on board.

"Now I have placed you in safety, I will go back and endeavour to protect our kind friend Mistress Pearson," he said.

Elizabeth thanked him warmly, though she evidently at the same time dreaded losing sight of him. Deane well knew there was no time to be lost, for the sound of the firing and the shouts and cries of the combatants told him that they were approaching the village. He hurried back therefore, taking a sheltered way among the trees. He had just reached the house, when he saw a number of buccaneers rushing towards the village, with the intention, he judged, of attempting to defend themselves behind the walls of the buildings. He found Mistress Pearson standing pale with terror at the sound of the guns which had reached her ears, not knowing which party had been successful. Deane once more entreated her to fly.

"If you remain, you will too probably lose your life in the struggle," he said.

Scarcely waiting for her answer, he had drawn her to the door, when he was seen by some of the pirates.

"Down with the villain! down with the traitor who has brought the enemy upon us!" they shouted.

They raised their muskets, but Mistress Pearson standing between them and Deane, prevented them from firing. Some of the fiercest were, however, rushing forward with the intention of cutting him down, when the cry arose, "The enemy are upon us! defend yourselves, lads!" and they had to face about to receive the charge of the British sailors, who dashed out from among the trees towards them. Several bullets whistled by Deane's and the poor dame's ears. The fighting was desperate. The pirates defended themselves, knowing that they should receive no quarter; but in spite of their bravery they were cut down on all sides. Deane had two or three times amid the clouds of smoke caught sight of Pearson, who was leading on the men, shouting to them to fight boldly. More seamen arriving, led on by a superior officer, the pirates at length began to retreat. As they reached the house of their chief, however, they made a stand, some threw themselves inside and began to fire through the windows, and others got behind the walls where they were sheltered from the fire of their enemies. Deane attempted to carry poor Dame Pearson to a place of shelter. Paralysed with fear, she could scarcely move. He found himself, therefore, surrounded by the combatants, and in great risk every instant of being shot.

The pirates here made a desperate stand; but the British seamen, again rushing on, cut down numbers with their hangers. Just then the house burst out into flames, and, surrounded by smoke, Deane could not be distinguished from the pirates who stood on the other side of him. Two or three seamen were on the point of cutting him down, when their officer interposed his sword.

"Hold, lads!" he shouted; "as I live, there is my friend John Deane, and protecting a lady too!"

This timely exclamation saved Deane's life. He had no time, however, to exchange greetings with the officer, whom he recognised as the captain of his own ship, as the latter had to lead on his men in pursuit of the flying pirates. The good dame now entreated him to look for her husband; but he remembered that after the commencement of the fight he had nowhere seen him. What had become of him he could not tell, and all he could do was to assure her he had not seen him fall. Jack was anxious to convey her to the boats that she might be carried on board and placed in safety; but just as he was leaving the village Captain Davis returned, saying that all the pirates to be found had been killed or made prisoners.

"I am thankful, indeed, to hear it, Captain Davis," said Deane. "And now I will ask you to assist me in conveying this lady on board."

"Captain Davis!" exclaimed Mistress Pearson. "Let me see you, sir. That was my maiden name; and I had a brother who went to sea, from whom I have been parted for many long years. Can you be Richard Davis, the youngest son of Colonel Davis of Knowle Park?"

"Yes, indeed, I am, madame," answered the Captain, coming up to her. "I was one of a numerous family, all of whom, to the best of my belief, have long since been dead."

"One of them is still alive," answered Mistress Pearson, "though a most unhappy woman. Do you not remember your sister Maria? Come, let me gaze on your countenance, for my heart tells me that in you I shall find one of my brothers. Yes, yes, I recognise your features! though I scarcely could expect you to know mine, so sadly changed as they must be."

She had taken the captain's hand, and gazed into his face as she spoke.

"No, I should not remember you," he answered; "but yet I remember the voice of the kind sister who was always ready to suffer for the sake of her wild brothers. Yes, Maria, I know that you are my sister, and I am thankful that I have been the means of rescuing you from this place. How you came here you must tell me by and by. And now I would wish you to go at once on board the frigate, under the charge of Mr Deane, while we make a further search round the island for any fugitives who may have concealed themselves."

Mistress Pearson trembled as her brother spoke these words.

"There is one for whom I would intercede," she said. "Mr Deane will tell you about him. He has ever been a kind husband to me, and never till lately did I suspect his occupations. If he has escaped death, let me entreat you not to hunt him down, and I feel sure that he will turn to some nobler course, where he will redeem the crimes he has committed."

Captain Davis very wisely made no answer to this appeal; but directed Deane, with a party of the seamen as a guard, to convey his new-found sister down to the boats, and to place her at once on board the frigate. He, meantime, having collected his men, commenced a further search for the pirates, some of whom, he was convinced, must have concealed themselves. The day was thus spent, though with no further success, and as night was coming on, a large party being placed on board the captured ships, the remainder returned in the boats to the vessels outside. The next day the search was continued; but no signs were discovered of the chief and other officers and men who were supposed to have escaped with him. The numerous prizes were carried out of the harbour, while all the huts, and storehouses, and other buildings were set on fire and destroyed, so that in a short time the whole island was reduced to that state of desolation in which the pirates had found it.

While the rest of the squadron returned to Jamaica, one vessel was left to cruise off the island, on the chance of Pearson and his followers, should they have been concealed on it, attempting to make their escape. When Jack arrived on board the "Venus," he found the two young midshipmen, Hawke and Lovatt, and the old quarter-master Burridge, who welcomed him warmly. They told him that they had managed to make their escape exactly as they had proposed while the buccaneers were carousing; and had, fortunately, fallen in with the squadron which had been despatched on purpose to try and discover their haunts.

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