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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesJohn Deane Of Nottingham: Historic Adventures By Land And Sea - Chapter 36. Adventure In The "Nottingham Galley"
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John Deane Of Nottingham: Historic Adventures By Land And Sea - Chapter 36. Adventure In The 'Nottingham Galley' Post by :Zoderami Category :Long Stories Author :William H. G. Kingston Date :May 2012 Read :2333

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John Deane Of Nottingham: Historic Adventures By Land And Sea - Chapter 36. Adventure In The "Nottingham Galley"

CHAPTER THIRTY SIX. ADVENTURE IN THE "NOTTINGHAM GALLEY"--SHIPWRECK

Captain John Deane had now launched forth in a new character, that of a merchant adventurer, especially honoured in those days, as it deserved to be. The merchant adventurers a century and a half ago were the promoters of civilisation, the founders of kingdoms, while they were generally distinguished by their courage, perseverance, and honourable conduct. The "Nottingham Galley" had a crew of forty men, and she mounted twenty guns, with which her captain hoped to defend her against any enemies she might encounter. He had hitherto been a successful man, and he began to think that it would never be his lot to be otherwise.

The voyage was prosperous till the "Nottingham Galley" was within fifty leagues of the American coast. A furious gale then sprang up, and thick weather came on, so that no observations could be taken. Deane endeavoured to bring the ship to, that he might keep off the coast till the weather should moderate. In vain, however, did he make the attempt. The after-masts were carried away; and now the ship could only run before the gale, it being feared every moment that the seas which came roaring up astern would break on board. He hoped, however, that the weather might moderate before they reached the entrance of the Delaware river, up which the galley was bound. Vain hope! The darkness of night came on, and instead of moderating, the gale increased. The crew, hardy as they were, clung to the bulwarks and the shrouds, expecting that every moment would be their last. Still the fury of the tempest increased. The wind whistled through the shrouds, and the seas raged up alongside. A loud roar was heard ahead. "Breakers! breakers!" shouted the crew. The next instant there came a fearful crash. The helpless galley was driven forward amid the rocks. The seas swept over her. Many were washed away, or dashed furiously against the rocks. Deane felt himself lifted up by a sea which dashed against the devoted vessel. He suspected that the fate which had overtaken many of his crew would now be his. Onward the sea bore him. He struck out, struggling bravely for life. His feet touched the hard sand, and the next instant he was thrown high upon the beach. He staggered forward, and before the following sea had reached him he had escaped from its clutches. The despairing shrieks of his crew reached his ears. In vain he endeavoured to render them assistance. He rescued two, however, at the risk of being himself thrown back into the foaming surges. Three others had been thrown as he had been on shore.

When morning at length broke, they were the only survivors of the gallant band which had manned the "Nottingham Galley." Captain Deane's first thought was, that possibly this might be the very island on which the "Venus" had been cast away, supposing it to be an island, of which he was not yet sure. A vague feeling that even now Elizabeth and Mistress Pearson might be living on it, induced him immediately to set forth to explore the country. He had not gone far before in front of him he saw several huts, constructed evidently out of the wreck of a vessel. He hurried on, eager to communicate with the inhabitants whom he expected to find within them. As he reached the huts, however, he soon saw by the open doors and the silence which reigned on every side, that they were deserted. On searching around, however, he discovered signs that they had been inhabited by a considerable number of persons. One of the huts, built at a short distance from the others, was constructed in a better style. It was closed by a door placed on hinges, and there was a window which could be closed by a shutter. He lifted the latch. There were two neat bed-places within, and on the table some small shreds of silk, and a few other articles such as were used by females met his sight. This then might possibly have been the abode of Elizabeth. He looked eagerly around with tender interest, in the hope of finding some sign by which he might ascertain the truth. All the articles of value had been removed, but still it was evident that the hut had been abandoned somewhat suddenly. At length he found an object sticking between the crib and the wall, as if it had fallen down between them. It was a book. He opened it eagerly. On the blank page at the commencement were the letters "E.P." He had no longer any doubt that it was the property of Elizabeth. He placed it in his bosom and continued the search. There could be no doubt then, that the vessel which Giles Dainsforth had mentioned as being on the point of sailing in search of the shipwrecked crew had reached the place, and carried them off in safety. For this he was truly thankful, delighted as he would have been to have found Elizabeth still there, as he had almost expected to do.

On his return he told his companions what he had discovered. Their spirits revived as they began to hope that some vessel might pass that way, and carry them to the plantation. As they gazed, however, on the ocean, covered with foaming billows, their condition seemed perilous indeed. Of the ship herself, not a plank clung together, though the beach was strewed with various articles which had formed her cargo. One of her boats too had been cast ashore, without receiving any material damage. Deane immediately summoned his men around him, and pointed out to them the necessity of saving whatever provisions were washed on shore. By this time the gale had considerably abated, and they were enabled to drag up several casks and cases containing food, which they so much required. In the same way, numerous bales and other articles which had formed the cargo of the ship were saved. They found themselves on an uninhabited island of small extent, which seemed likely to afford them but scanty means of subsistence. In the far distance could be seen a long blue ridge of land, which Deane knew must be the continent. Their great requirement however was water, for without it their stores and flour would have availed them but little. They therefore immediately set about searching for it, and at length a slight moisture was found oozing out from beneath the roots of a large tree. After eagerly scraping away the earth with their hands for some time, the hole they had formed was filled with a small portion of the precious liquid. This encouraged them to hope that a sufficient supply might be obtained, and with better heart than they had hitherto possessed they took their first meal on the island.

On examining the boat, Captain Deane was of opinion that if repaired, she would carry them to the mainland: but as yet there were no tools found by which this could be accomplished. Thus were all their hopes of escaping frustrated. Their life on the island was that of most shipwrecked mariners. Even when partaking of their meals, they could not but feel that their store of provisions would in time come to an end, and that thus, unless relieved, famine would overtake them at last. Several days passed by, when as two of their number were wandering along the shore a chest was seen fixed between two rocks. Summoning their companions, not without difficulty they waded towards it. It was found to be a carpenter's chest. After considerable labour they contrived to break it open, when to their great joy they discovered within it a supply of tools and nails, with iron hoops and other necessary articles.

They now eagerly set to work to repair their boat, but as none of them were carpenters they found it a more difficult task than they had expected. Spars and oars and sails had also to be formed. No one, however, was idle, and they made up by diligence what they wanted in skill. The boat was at last launched and moored between the rocks. All the provisions they could collect, with a supply of water in such casks as would hold it were placed on board. They had left the island astern when a sail appeared in sight, rapidly approaching them from the east. Deane, supposing she was some vessel bound up the Delaware for Philadelphia, hove to, purposing if such was the case to take a passage in her, instead of risking the voyage in their open boat, still imperfectly repaired. As she drew nearer, she was seen to be a large ship carrying several guns, yet she wanted the trim appearance of a man-of-war. No colours were flying at her mast-head or peak, and altogether her appearance did not satisfy Captain Deane. It was now, however, too late to avoid her. Already the boat must have been seen by those on board. Still Deane thought it more prudent to fill his sails, and to stand away towards the opening which he took to be the mouth of the river of which he was in search. A shot from the ship told him that he had been discovered. It was the signal also for him again to heave to. In a short time the ship got up to the boat, and a voice from her decks hailed, ordering those in the boat to sheer alongside and to come on board. There was no use attempting to disobey this order, as they were already under the ship's guns. Having secured the boat alongside, Deane and his men stepped on deck. From the appearance of the officers and the number of men composing the mongrel-looking crew on board, who seemed to be of all countries and of all shades of colour, the thought at once occurred to Captain Deane that the vessel was a pirate.

"What have you been about, and where are you going?" asked a man who stepped forward from among the people on board. Though considerably older, and knocked about by climate and hardship, Deane had little difficulty in recognising his former acquaintance Pearson. The pirate captain looked at him two or three times, but if he had recognised him for a moment, he soon seemed to have altered his opinion. Jack felt that the best plan, whether he was right or wrong in his conjectures, was to tell the whole truth of himself. Pearson seemed interested in hearing Nottingham spoken of, and it made him give another glance at Deane.

"Ah well, my man," he said, "we wish you no harm, but we can allow no vessel to proceed to the new plantations."

"That's a hard rule, sir," answered Jack, "as we are likely enough to starve on the island we have just left, and if we remain at sea we shall perish in the next gale that comes on."

"You have your remedy," said the pirate captain. "You may join our brave crew. You shall be an officer on board, and your men shall share with the rest."

"We cannot accept your offer," answered Deane; "and perhaps for old acquaintance' sake, Master Pearson, you will grant my request?"

The pirate captain started on hearing himself thus addressed.

"Who are you?" he asked, looking again hard at Deane.

"One you knew in his youth, and who has never ceased to wish you well," answered Jack. "You have served one sovereign--I have fought under the flag of another. Do you know me now?"

"Yes, indeed I do; though you are greatly changed from the stripling you were when I knew you," answered Pearson, stretching out his hand. "I wish you well, for I thought you a brave and honest youth, and I am thankful to find you took your own course. Now, as I believe you to be unchanged, the promise I ask you to make, if I allow you to proceed, is--that you will not give information of my vessel being off the coast."

Deane was rather perplexed what answer to make.

"No," he answered at last; "I wish you no harm; at the same time, I cannot allow any honest trader to fall into your hands. Now hear me, Master Pearson. My object in coming out here is to carry home two persons in whom you were once greatly interested: the little Elizabeth whom you protected in her youth, and your own wife, whom I am sure you once loved. I throw myself, therefore, on your generosity."

Pearson seemed greatly agitated for some minutes.

"I will not interfere with you," he answered. "I cannot force that poor lady to undergo the hardships into which I once led her, and I will therefore leave her to your kindness and charity. I would that I could accompany you, but I cannot desert my comrades. But the time may come ere long, that I may enable them to secure their own safety, and I will then, if I still have the means, endeavour to visit Pennsylvania."

Much on the same subject passed between the two former acquaintances. The pirates' ship towed the boat to the mouth of the Delaware, when the latter cast off and stood up the river, while the pirate proceeded again towards the ocean.

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