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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesJohn Frewen, South Sea Whaler - Book 2 - Chapter 16
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John Frewen, South Sea Whaler - Book 2 - Chapter 16 Post by :brettslane Category :Long Stories Author :Louis Becke Date :May 2012 Read :900

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John Frewen, South Sea Whaler - Book 2 - Chapter 16

BOOK II CHAPTER XVI

A few days later the _Lupetea (White Pigeon) ran into the bay and Raymond boarded her. He greeted Villari in a friendly manner, and tried to put him at his ease by at once remarking that the ladies would be very glad to see him again when he had time to come up to the house. The schooner was loaded with a general cargo for the various traders and planters on the south side of the island, and that for Raymond consisted principally of about forty tons of yams for the use of the numerous local labourers already employed on the plantations.

The _Lupetea was a rather handsome little vessel, well-fitted for the island trade, and carried besides Villari and the mate six hands, all of whom were Europeans, and Raymond at once recognised several of them as old _habituee of Apia beach--men whose reputation as loafers and boozers of the first water was pretty well known in Samoa. The mate, too, was one of the same sort. He was an old man named Hutton, and was such an incorrigible drunkard that for two years past he had found it increasingly difficult to get employment. He had in his time been mate of some large ships, but his intemperate habits had caused him to come down to taking a berth as mate or second mate on small coastal schooners whenever he could get the position.

Before he returned to the shore the planter told Villari that he would be glad if he would come to dinner at seven o'clock.

"We are a large party now, Mr. Villari. Besides Mrs. Marston and my wife and myself there are my two partners, Budd and Meredith, and two white overseers. The latter don't sleep in the house, but they have their meals with us."

Villari accepted the invitation, and at six o'clock landed in his boat and met Raymond and his partners, who had just finished the day's work and were on their way to the house. On the verandah they were received by the ladies, and Mrs. Marston was glad to observe that the Italian took her outstretched hand without any trace of embarrassment, asked if her baby was thriving, and then greeted Mrs. Raymond, who said she was glad to see him looking so well, and wished him prosperity with the _Lupetea_.

The dinner passed off very well. Villari made inquiries as to the whereabouts of the _Esmeralda_, and Mrs. Marston told him all that she knew, and added that if the ship had arrived in Sydney from Valparaiso about eight weeks before, as Frewen had indicated was likely in the last letter received from him, it was quite possible that he would be at Samatau within another ten or fourteen days, and then, as there was no necessity for concealment, she said it was very probable that the ship's next voyage would be to the Western Pacific to procure labourers for the new plantation.

"You have no intention, I trust, of making the voyage in her, Mrs. Marston?" queried the Italian; "the natives, I hear, are a very treacherous lot."

"No, indeed, Mr. Villari. I am staying here with Mrs. Raymond for quite a long time yet, I hope. It is quite likely, though, that before a year has gone she and I will be going to Sydney and our babies will make the trip with us. I have never been to Australia, and am sure I should enjoy being there if Mrs. Raymond were with me. I have two years' shopping to do."

Rudd--one of Raymond's partners--laughed. "Ah, Mrs. Raymond, why go to Sydney when all of the few other white ladies here are satisfied with Dennis Murphy's 'Imporium' at Apia, where, as he says, 'Yez can get annything ye do be wantin' from a nadle to an anchor, from babies' long clothes to pickled cabbage and gunpowder.'"

"Indeed, we are going there this day week," broke in Mrs. Raymond. "There are a lot of things Mrs. Marston and I want, and we mean to turn the 'Emporium' upside down. But we are not entirely selfish, Tom; we are buying new mosquito netting for you, Mr. Rudd, Mr. Meredith, Mr. Young, and Mr. Lorimer." (The two last-named were the overseers.)

"How are you going, Marie?" asked Raymond with a smile; "we can't spare the cutter, and you don't want to be drowned in a _taumualua_.'

"Ah! we are not the poor, weak women you think we are. We are quite independent--we are going to cross overland; and, more than that, we shall be away eight days."

"Clever woman!" retorted Raymond. "It is all very well for you, Marie--you have crossed over on many occasions; but Mrs. Marston does not understand our mountain paths."

"My dear Tom, don't trouble that wise head of yours. _I have azranged everything. Furthermore, the babies are coming with us! Serena, Olivee, and one of Malie's girls--and I don't know how many others are to be baby carriers. We go ten miles the first day along the coast, sleep at Falelatai that night; then cross the range to the little bush village at the foot of Tofua Mountain, sleep there, and then go on to Malua in the morning. At Malua we get Harry Bevere's boat, and _he takes us to Apia. Tom, it is a cut-and-dried affair, but now that I've told you of it, I may as well tell you that Malie has aided and abetted us--the dear old fellow. We shall be treated like princesses at every village all along the route, and I doubt very much if we shall do much walking at all--we shall be carried on _fata_" (cane-work litters).

"All very well, my dear; but you and Malie have been counting your chickens too soon. Harry Revere is now in our employ, and I yesterday sent a runner to him to go off to Savai'i and buy us a hundred tons of yams; and he has left by now."

"Oh, Tom!" and Mrs. Raymond looked so blankly disappointed that all her guests laughed. "Is there no other way of getting to Apia by water?"

"No, except by _toumualua_--and a pretty nice time you and Sirs. Marston and the suffering infants would have in a native boat! On the other hand you can walk--you are bent on walking--and by going along the coast you can reach Apia in about four days. Give the idea up, Marie, for a month or so, when Malie and some of his people can take you and Mrs. Marston to Apia in comfort in the cutter."

Villari turned his dark eyes to Mrs. Raymond--

"Will you do me the honour of allowing me to take you and Mrs. Marston to Apia in the _Lupetea? I shall be delighted."

"It is very kind of you, Captain Villari," said the planter's wife with a smile, as she emphasised the word "captain," "but when will you be sailing?"

The Italian considered a moment.

"I have some cargo for Manono, and some for the German trader at Paulaelae. I shall leave here at daylight to-morrow; be at Manono before noon; run across the straits to Paulaelae the same day, land a few cases of goods for the German, and be back here, if the breeze holds good, the day after to-morrow."

"It is very kind of you, Mr. Villari," said Raymond.

"Not at all, Mr. Raymond. It will be far easier for me to come back this way than to beat up to Apia against the trade wind and strong current on the north side."

"True. I did not think of that. So there you are, Marie--'fixed up,' as Frewen would say. The schooner, I believe, is pretty smart, isn't she, Mr. Villari?"

"Very fair, Mr. Raymond--especially on a wind. We should get to Apia in less than twenty-four hours if there is any kind of a breeze at all. And for such a small vessel her accommodation is really very good, so the ladies and children will be very comfortable, I hope."

"Yes," said Meredith, "the _Lupetea is the best schooner in the group. I've made two or three trips in her to Fiji. She was built by Brander, of Tahiti, for a yacht, and he used to carry his family with him on quite long voyages. Took them to Sydney once."

"Well, Captain Villari," said Mrs. Raymond, "we shall be ready for you the day after to-morrow. Be prepared for an infliction," and holding up her left hand, she began counting on her fingers: "Item, two babies; item, mothers of babies aforesaid; item, Serena, nurse girl; item, Olivee, nurse girl; item, one native boy named Lilo, who is a relative of Malie's, is Mrs. Marston's especial protege and wants to see the great City of Apia; item, baskets and baskets _and baskets of roasted fowls, mangoes, pineapples and other things which are for the use of the captain, officers, crew and passengers of the _Lupetea_."

Villari laughed. "There will be plenty of room, Mrs. Raymond."

An hour or so later he bade them all good-night, and went on board.

The old mate was pacing to and fro on the main deck smoking his pipe, and Villari asked him to come below.

He turned up the lamp and told Hutton to sit down.

"Will you have a drink, Hutton?"

"_Will I? You ought to know me by now."

Villari went to his cabin and brought out a bottle of brandy. His dark eyes were flashing with excitement, as he placed it on the table together with two glasses.

"Drink as much as you like to-night," he said; "but remember we lift anchor at daylight. We must be back here the day after to-morrow. There are passengers coming on board. You remember your promise to me?"

Hutton half-filled his tumbler with brandy, and swallowed it eagerly before answering.

"I do, skipper; I'll do any blessed thing in the world except cuttin' throats. I don't know what your game is, but I'm ready for anythink. If it's a scuttlin' job, you needn't try to show me nothin'. I'm an old hand at the game."

Villari took a little brandy and sipped it slowly.

"It is not anything like that; I am only taking away a woman whom I want to marry. She may give trouble at first. Will you stand by me?"

The man laughed. "Is that all, skipper? Why, I thought it was somethink serious. You can depend on me," and he poured out some more liquor.

"Here's luck to you, Captain. I consider as that fifty pound is in my pocket already."

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BOOK II CHAPTER XVIITwo days later the schooner came sweeping round the western point of Samatau Bay and then hove-to abreast of the house. Villari at once went on shore, found his passengers ready to embark, and in half an hour they were all on board and the _Lupetea was spinning along the southern shore of Upolu at a great rate, for the wind was fresh and the sea very smooth. At midnight she was nearly abreast of a beautiful little harbour called Lotofanga, and Villari, who was on deck, told the mate to haul the head sheets to windward and
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BOOK II CHAPTER XIITwelve months had come and gone, and Frewen, now "Captain" Frewen, was seated in the office of Ramon Mercado, the Valparaiso agent of the late captain and owner of the _Esmeralda_, which had arrived in port the previous day. The worthy merchant--a little stout man with merry, twinkling eyes--was listening to the detailed story of the capture of the ship by the mutineers, her subsequent recapture, and of all that had occurred since she had been brought to an anchor in front of Raymond's house in Samatau Bay. Mercado himself, four months previously, had received a letter from
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