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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Three Midshipmen - Chapter 21. Desperate Fighting
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The Three Midshipmen - Chapter 21. Desperate Fighting Post by :Satish Category :Long Stories Author :William H. G. Kingston Date :May 2012 Read :963

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The Three Midshipmen - Chapter 21. Desperate Fighting


On flew the felucca, urged by sails and oars. The _Ranger's boat dashed after her.

"Give way, my lads, give way," cried Hemming; not that his crew required the slightest inducement to pull as hard as they could lay their backs to the oars.

The felucca had got considerably the start, and was going through the water somewhat faster than the man-of-war's boat; the more also she drew off the land the stronger she got the breeze.

"There's no use longer attempting concealment," cried Hemming, "the chances are she has made us out already. Get a blue-light ready, Adair. The frigate will see it by this time, and be on the look out for her. Rogers, see to the gun forward. You may be able to send a shot into the felucca and knock away a spar, perhaps."

These orders were promptly obeyed. While Jack sprang forward to fire the gun, Adair's blue-light, blazing up, cast a lurid glare over the figures of the crew as they tugged at their oars, and which also extended far away across the surface of the ocean, while at the same moment the sharp report of the gun broke the hitherto almost perfect silence of the night. Jack could not see whether his shot had taken effect, but he had some hopes that it had. Again, at Hemming's order, he fired, while, as soon as the first blue-light had gone out, Adair lighted another. Their eyes all the time were ranging the offing to try and discover the whereabouts of the frigate.

"There is her light, sir," shouted Jack from forward, and when their own blue-light grew dim, hers was seen shining like a star floating on the water in the far distance.

Thus they went on, burning blue-lights, at longer intervals though than at first, and firing shot after shot at the felucca. The slaver bore it at first without attempting to return the compliment; but at length, when Rogers hoped that he had hit her, her captain seemed to lose patience, and she opened fire on the boat in return. The latter, however, especially in the night, offered too small an object to be easily hit. Still one shot came whistling over their heads, and another struck the water close to them, showing them, as Paddy said, that they were comfortably within range.

"I think that I have winged her," shouted Jack; "if so, even should the breeze increase, and she escape from us, the frigate will get hold of her."

Thus time sped on, the frigate and her boat showing at intervals their blue-lights, while the slaver, caught between them, continued pretty rapidly firing away at the latter. Still Hemming, at all events, did not feel at all certain that the felucca would be caught. Though the light on her deck could be seen, she was growing more and more indistinct as she increased her distance from them. At last she ceased firing. The breeze too was increasing.

"Do you still see her, Rogers?" asked Hemming.

"No, sir," answered Jack. "She's vanished altogether into thin air."

"Then there's no use firing at her, I suppose," said Paddy to himself.

Some little time longer had passed, when Jack shouted that he again saw her light. Away the boat pulled towards it. The frigate, by sending up a blue-light, showed that she saw it likewise.

"We'll have her this time, at all events," cried Adair, rubbing his hands.

"Don't be too sure of that, Paddy," said Hemming; "still, towards the light we must pull."

It was rather heavy work, for the people had been now some time at their oars without a moment's rest. On they pulled, however, with renewed vigour, fully believing that they were about to pounce down upon the slaver. Nearer and nearer they drew to the light.

"The felucca must have hove-to," cried Adair. "It's strange, after getting so well ahead she should have given in."

What Hemming thought he did not say. Some grave suspicions crossed Jack's mind.

"There she is though. Starboard a little," he sang out, "or we shall run into a tub with a light in it."

"Oh, the scoundrels!" broke from many lips. Jack was about to douse the light, but Hemming told him to let it burn on. "It will serve as a beacon to us, and the felucca's people will not know whether or not we have been deceived by it," he observed.

It now became a question in which direction the slaver had gone. On they pulled, therefore, once more towards the frigate. Hemming wished to let Captain Lascelles know what had occurred, that he might thus steer a course on which he was most likely to come up with the slaver. With the increasing wind the boat would have little chance of overtaking the felucca, but by staying where they were the lieutenant hoped that they might possibly cut her off. The blue-lights and the flashes of the guns had dazzled their eyes, and the night seemed darker than ever. In vain Jack peered for some time into the darkness to make out the frigate. A thick bank of mist, blown off the land, lay upon the water. Suddenly, like a dark phantom stalking over the deep, the frigate's hull, with her tall masts towering up into the sky, appeared, and he had barely time to shout out, "Port the helm, pull round the port oars," before the boat was close under her bows, very narrowly escaping being run down. In another minute they were on the quarter-deck, and Hemming was reporting to Captain Lascelles all that had occurred. He suggested, that while the frigate stood after the felucca in one direction, he should be allowed to cruise in an opposite direction, to double the chances of falling in with her. All he wanted was a further supply of water, fuel, and provisions. To this the captain consented, and the boat being furnished with what was required, Hemming and the two midshipmen again shoved off from the frigate's side. Jack had of course his faithful rifle with him, and he felt pretty certain that, should he once get a sight of the enemy, he should be able to use it with good effect. "I have not the slightest compunction about picking off those slaving scoundrels," he observed, as he was busily employed in loading his piece. "They seem to be completely lost to all sense of what is right and just, such perfectly abandoned sinners, that there can be no hope of their reforming, so I only feel as if I was destroying a wild beast to prevent it doing further mischief."

"All very right," observed Hemming; "most people act from more than one motive, and it's well that both should be good. It's enough for me that it's my duty to kill the fellows if they don't give in."

It wanted still nearly an hour to daylight. The boat had lost sight of the frigate for some time. She had made good way to the northward under sail. At length, when the first faint streaks of sunlight were observed breaking forth over the land, Hemming ordered the sail to be lowered. By this they had a better chance of seeing the felucca without being seen. The lieutenant stood up and slowly moved round, scanning every part of the horizon. The land breeze had now completely died away, and there was not a ripple on the water, though the slow moving glassy undulations which came rolling in and constantly rocking the boat, showed that they were not floating on an inland lake. Jack and Adair began to fear that the felucca was not in sight, when Hemming slowly sank down into his seat again, saying quietly, as he cast eyes on the boat's compass, "There she is, though; out oars. Starboard the helm a little, Rogers, west-north-west. That will do. Give way, my lads."

Away glided the boat, urged on by sturdy arms, in the direction mentioned. After pulling some time the light increased, and the tops of the felucca's sails appeared above the limited horizon of the rowers. Once more Hemming stood up. The slaver lay perfectly becalmed. He ordered all hands to breakfast. The cocoa was quickly heated, and the meal was soon despatched with good appetite. Then he allowed those who wished it to smoke for a few minutes, and once more, the oars being got out, away went the boat in the direction of the slaver.

Before long they themselves must have been seen from her deck; but, to his surprise, as Hemming looked at her through his glass, he saw that her sweeps were not got out, nor was any attempt made to escape. There she lay rocking slowly on the slow undulating water, as if no human being was on board to rule her course. As they drew closer still, only one person indeed was to be seen on her deck. He was walking up and down it with a glass tucked under his arm, apparently scarcely noticing their approach. Hemming naturally suspected treachery. He well knew that the slavers were capable of the greatest atrocity. He was, therefore, prepared for any emergency.

"Why, sir," exclaimed Jack, as they got almost alongside, "I do believe that is my old acquaintance Don Diogo. He'll do us a mischief if he can."

"Be ready, lads, to spring on board the moment the boat touches her side," cried Hemming. Just before this three or four other men came up from below rubbing their eyes as if lately awoke out of sleep. The bowman the next instant hooked on, and the British sailors, led by their officers, sprang on board. The slaver's people ran forward and aft to get out of their way, except the man at first seen, whom Jack had no doubt was no other than the old pirate, Don Diogo, as he called himself.

"Good morning, gentlemen," said he, quite coolly, making the politest of bows to the lieutenant. "May I request to know what brings you on board here at this early hour in the morning?"

"You are known to be a slaver, and we have come to capture you," answered Hemming, bluntly.

"Ho, ho, ho," cried the Don; "there may be two opinions about that. You British officers don't go upon surmises. You want proofs, and you are welcome to all you can discover."

The Don's coolness rather staggered Hemming and the two midshipmen. Jack was certain that he had seen the slaves carried on board in Elephant Bay, and he had no doubt as to the felucca being the same vessel he had seen in Elephant Bay. To settle this point, they lifted off the hatches.

"Don't disturb my poor men. Some of them are asleep below," said the Don, in an ordinary tone of voice.

Hemming, however, paid very little attention to his remarks, but ordered Jack and Adair to keep a sharp lookout on his movements on deck while he descended below. Hemming looked round the dark hold of the supposed slaver, but there was no sign of a slave-deck, nor, after a careful search, could he find anything to warrant him in detaining her. In the fore-peak a rather numerous crew for the size of the vessel were asleep, or pretending to be asleep, for some lifted up their heads even to have a look at the intruders. At length Hemming returned on deck.

"I told you so, gentlemen," said the Don, making another excessively polite bow. "Suspicions, as I remarked, are not proofs. I might now ask by what authority you ventured on board this craft and nearly frightened some of my poor men out of their wits; but we are honest, peaceably disposed people, and have no desire to quarrel with strangers."

"Do you mean to say that you hadn't your vessel full of blacks last night, whatever since you have done with them?" exclaimed Jack, stamping on the deck with indignation, as he felt somewhat compromised in the matter.

"Be calm, young gentleman," said the Don. "As I remarked, suspicions are not proofs. I am not accustomed to answer questions as to my movements, and therefore would advise you to be silent."

There was no more to be done on board the felucca. Although Don Diogo was known to be a slave-dealer and guilty of numberless atrocities, he could not be touched, nor could his craft be detained. As the English returned to their boat he bowed and scraped, his mouth grinning, and his countenance wearing at the same time an expression of the most intense hatred. "We may meet again, gentlemen, before long, but perhaps you may not find me in so placable a mood as at present."

Hemming made no answer, but the Don was seen bowing away and nourishing his sombrero as long as they could see him. Not a little vexed at the fruitless result of their expedition, Hemming and his companions pulled to the northward in search of the frigate.

"I cannot make it out," observed Jack, after having been lost in thought for some time.

"I can, though," said Hemming. "I have not the shadow of a doubt that, somehow or other, the Don got notice that we were in the neighbourhood, and that, as the slaves were taken in on one side of the vessel, he sent them back again by the rafts over the other. Had we made a dash at the felucca at once, we should have found some of them on board, and she would have been condemned. We will be wiser in future."

It was not till late in the evening that they fell in with the frigate. She kept cruising off the bay, and two other boats were sent in to watch for the felucca; but the old Don was too wary a bird to be thus easily caught, and nothing was seen of the felucca. Soon after this a steamer hove in sight, and her commander, coming on board the _Ranger_, informed Captain Lascelles of an unsuccessful attack having been made on Lagos; at the same time delivering to him despatches from Mr Beecroft, the British Consul for the Bight of Benin, residing at Fernando Po, asking for further assistance. Sail was instantly, therefore, made for the northward, and, the wind holding favourable, they were not long before they got off the slave-coast in the neighbourhood of the place proposed to be attacked. Great was the satisfaction expressed by all hands, both in the gun-room and midshipmen's berth, and throughout the ship, at the prospect of some real work being done. In the midshipmen's berth, perhaps, the satisfaction was more vehemently expressed.

"There's nothing like getting a real enemy right before you, and having an honest slap at him," exclaimed Jack Rogers. "It is all very right hunting down those slave-dealers and chasing slavers, but the scoundrels are such slippery fellows, it is difficult work to get hold of them."

"Or to keep them if you have got a grip of them," observed Adair. "But I say, does anybody know who it is we are going to fight, and what we are going to fight about?"

"Something about the slave-trade," said Hobson, one of the mates.

"The blacks hereabouts want a thrashing, so we are going to lick them," remarked Lister, another midshipman, who was never very exact in his notions.

Just then Murray, who had had the forenoon watch on deck, came below. He was, on the point I have mentioned, a great contrast to Lister. He was forthwith applied to. "As soon as I have taken the sharp edge off my appetite I will tell you all I know about the matter," he answered. The edge of people's appetites on the coast is not very sharp, in the dog-days especially, so Murray was soon in a condition to begin.

"Now just look here," he commenced, collecting some crumbs and bits of biscuit, which he began to place about on the table. "To the north and east of us is the slave-coast. Inland, due north, or thereabouts, is Dahomey, the king of which is something like a king, for he can cut off his subjects' heads at pleasure; he has got several regiments of Amazons, who fight most furiously, besides other troops armed with matchlocks. To the east is the Yoruba country, and to the south, further round the bay, is the kingdom of Benin. The Yoruba country is between the other two I have mentioned. Its chief river is the Ogun. At the mouth is Lagos, a large town, held by an independent chief or king of considerable wealth and power. About seventy miles up is Abeokuta. Abeokuta is a very remarkable place. About twenty-five years ago the remnants of the inhabitants of a number of villages which had been broken up by the attacks made on them for the purpose of carrying away these people as slaves, betook themselves to a large cavern on the banks of the Ogun about seventy miles from the coast. In this place of concealment they remained for some time undiscovered, living on roots, and berries, and other natural productions of the ground, till they were joined by other fugitives from the hated slave-dealers. At length, their numbers increasing, they ventured forth from their cavern, and began to cultivate the ground and to build themselves houses. They chose as their chief a liberal-minded, talented man, called Shodeke; and it is said that at present there are upwards of 80,000 people in their community. They have built a large town, which they have called Understone, or, in their own language, Abeokuta, in memory of the cave under which they first took shelter. Now, if the blockading squadron had never done more than what I am going to tell you about, they would have performed a very great and blessed work. Among the thousands of negroes they have captured and liberated were many hundreds who had been taken from the Yoruba country, and who were settled at Sierra Leone. Here many of them had grown rich, and a considerable proportion had been converted to Christianity. Among them was a man named in their language Adgai, but called in English Crowther. He had been embarked as a slave on board of a slaver at Badagry in 1822. That slaver was captured by one of our cruisers, and taken to Sierra Leone. At that place he was well educated, was converted, and ordained as a minister of the Gospel. Now, several of the Yoruba natives I have spoken of, who had become possessed of property, purchased a vessel, and visited Lagos and Badagry to trade. At those places they heard of Abeokuta and the stand it had made against the slave-trade. On their return to Sierra Leone, from the accounts they gave of the new settlement, a considerable number of their countrymen resolved to go there. Among the first was Mr Crowther. He is, I am assured, a man of high intellectual powers, and of eminent piety. He persuaded other Christian Africans to accompany him. Nearly the first people he met on arriving at the new city were his mother and sisters, and they were his first converts. The greater part of the inhabitants are now Christians, and Mr Crowther is engaged in translating the Bible into the Yoruba language.

"The King of Dahomey looked with an evil eye on the growing power of Abeokuta, and led his army to destroy it; but he and his forces were, however, most signally defeated. On this he instigated the King of Lagos to attack Abeokuta. That chief has got a hundred war canoes, fully five thousand men all armed with muskets, and sixty guns.

"Happily the old King of Lagos lately died. He left his crown to a fellow called Akitoye, the younger of two sons, the elder, Kosoko, being a ragamuffin and banished. Akitoye, on coming to the throne, recalled Kosoko; but, true to his character, the elder brother managed to bribe the army, and to turn poor Akitoye out of the country. Akitoye took shelter in Badagry, which place Kosoko was preparing to attack, being promised a thousand men by the King of Dahomey. If he succeeds he will undoubtedly attack Abeokuta. To prevent this, Mr Beecroft applied for a naval force to bring Kosoko to reason.

"Accordingly, the _Bloodhound and a squadron of boats was sent off to Lagos to reason with the usurper. He, however, did not understand what they wanted, and, as they approached, opened a heavy fire on them from a number of concealed batteries, both with great guns and small-arms. Several poor fellows were killed and wounded, and at length the expedition had to retire, there not being enough men to hold the town had it been captured. The commodore has now resolved to send one of ample strength to drive the slave-dealing sovereign, Kosoko, from his throne and his stronghold altogether. This is the business we are called on to perform. If we succeed, and there is no doubt about that I should hope, we shall preserve Abeokuta, and enable the Christian missionaries to labour on without interruption; we shall punish the usurper, and restore the right man to his government; we shall rout out a nest of slave-dealers, and put a stop to slave-dealing in Lagos; and we shall teach the King of Dahomey to be cautious, lest the same punishment we inflict on his friend there may overtake him. All these things are well worth fighting for, you'll acknowledge."

All hands agreed that it would be difficult to have a better object than that Murray had described for the proposed attack.

"Yes, indeed, it is a truly satisfactory feeling, to be sure, that the cause you fight for is a righteous one," repeated Murray. "Still I do not hold for one moment that it is not our duty to fight, as long as we remain in the service, whenever we are ordered by our superiors. The difference is this, in one case we fight heartily, in the other we do only just what we are ordered; at all events we don't do it in the same hearty way we would like."

"We'll fight heartily now, at all events," exclaimed Adair, with even more than his usual enthusiasm. "If there is one cause more than another in which I would rather expend my life, it would be that of getting rid of this abominable slave-trade. No scoundrels are greater, in my opinion, than the fellows who engage in it. No country can prosper or be happy which allows it."

The conversation was cut short by the announcement that several sail of men-of-war were in sight. The ships began working away with their bunting, and, when they had collected, the commanders assembled on board the Commodore to arrange the plan of attack.

The next day, by the evening, everything was ready. The squadron, composed of steamers as well as sailing ships, brought up off the mouth of the Ogun river. It has a bar across it. Inside it, on an island about two miles in circumference, near the right bank, stands the slave-dealing city of Lagos, whose houses could just be distinguished peeping out among the cocoa-nut trees. It was known that the place was strongly defended with stockades, some sixty guns, and from 1,500 to 2,000 men with firearms, and gunners trained by the Spaniards and other slave-dealers to serve the artillery. All hands watched eagerly for the signal to commence operations. The three midshipmen were delighted to find that they were to be in the first squadron of boats. Preceded by a steamer, they dashed across the bar, and then anchored inside, out of reach of shot from the town, to commence operations the next morning. Soon after sunrise men were seen assembling on the banks of the river, and, on pulling over to them, they found that Mr Beecroft, with the ex-king, Akitoye, had arrived, bringing with him 500 men from Abeokuta and Badagry. That they might be known, they had white neckcloths distributed among them, with which the black volunteers were highly delighted. A number of canoes were then discovered at a slave station on the left bank, and these having been brought off, the black auxiliary force, now considerably augmented, was passed over to the right bank. The steamer next dropped up the river with the tide to reconnoitre the fortifications, and it was found that, at all points where boats could land, stakes in double rows were driven in, while an embankment had been thrown up with a ditch in front of it, and that twenty-five guns were trained to guard all the narrower parts of the channel. On the north side of the island were the houses of Kosoko and the slave-dealers, and it was here accordingly, as it was right that they should be chiefly punished, that the commander of the expedition resolved to commence the attack. The following day being Christmas-day, he determined, in order that that holy day should be spent as quietly as possible, and be a day of rest, to wait till the 26th. This it was, except that the slave-dealers wasted a large amount of ammunition by firing at the squadron, which was far beyond their range. With infinite satisfaction, soon after daybreak on the 26th, the order was received to proceed to the attack. The scene may be easily pictured. Before them lay the island surrounded by stockades, with palm-trees, and the huts and houses of Lagos rising beyond them; the broad river in front full of shallows, narrow channels only between them.

Towards the island the steamers and the squadron of boats now advanced. At first all was calm and smiling. Jack and Paddy were in the same boat.

"I wonder whether the scoundrels will give in without fighting," observed the latter; "I shouldn't be surprised."

"Not a bit of it," answered Jack. "They want first to be taught a lesson or two which they cannot forget."

"But what can these miserable black fellows do against us? I should think that we should blow them and their town up into the sky in a dozen minutes or less," exclaimed Paddy, with a laugh.

Scarcely had he spoken when, from the whole line of stockades, showers of round shot and bullets came rattling about the steamers and boats. On dashed the whole squadron, the steamers keeping up a hot fire from their great guns in return, though so well sheltered were the blacks that not one of them could be seen. This sort of work continued for some time, several officers and men being hit, when one of the steamers grounded. She then became, of course, a target for the enemy, and several people were wounded on board her. The boats meantime had opened their fire to protect her, but so well were the batteries of the negroes concealed that it was difficult to find out a point at which to aim. A division of the boats was now sent round to the north-east point of the island to ascertain the position and strength of the guns on that side. These boats, after a hot fight, during which they upset some of the enemy's guns, returned, and then made a gallant attempt to force the stockades in order to land and spike the guns bearing heaviest on the steamer. Away they dashed; they could see the barrels of the negroes' muskets gleaming through the stockades, and a terrific fire was opened on them. Still on they went, right up to the stockades. Axe in hand the works were attacked, but in vain they hacked and hewed at the tough posts. No sooner was one party of blacks driven from the defences than others took their places. Many of the seamen were hit; some poor fellows sank never to rise again. The British seamen cheered and loaded and fired as rapidly as they could; the blacks shrieked and shouted, and kept banging away in return. Jack heard a cry close to him. It came from the boat next to his. He saw an officer fall. His heart sank; he thought it was Murray. He sprang into the boat to lift him up--but no-- it was another gallant young midshipman, whom he had seen an instant before bravely cheering on his men. Assistance was useless, he had ceased to breathe. He placed him in the stern-sheets of his boat and regained his own. Once more a desperate assault was made on the stockades, but without effect, and, with numbers wounded, the boats were compelled to haul off.

What to do with the steamer on shore was now the question. It was resolved, to avoid the necessity of blowing her up, to land with a strong force to destroy the guns annoying her. Till the tide rose there seemed no prospect of getting her off. Some little time was expended in arranging the expedition. Again the signal was given, and in line they pulled gallantly up towards the stockade. As they approached a fire from fully 1,500 muskets opened on them, to which they replied with spherical, grape, and canister shot. Hotter and hotter grew the fire of the blacks, but on the boats steadily advanced till their stems touched the beach, when the men, springing on shore, formed in an instant, and, led by their officers, rushed up to the stockades. Axes were plied vigorously--some seized the timbers and hauled them down, and a breach being made, in they rushed and drove the enemy before them. The fort was gained, the blacks fled out of it into the thick bush in the rear, and all the guns were spiked. While this work was being accomplished, a party of the blacks had come down and, attacking one of the boats, had carried her off along the beach, hoping probably to make their escape in her. A party pursued them on discovering this for a considerable distance, when the blacks who had fled into the woods, seeing what was taking place, rushed from their concealment in the woods by swarms, and poured a crushing fire into the boats at pistol range. One poor fellow, who had been left on board the boat, when he saw the enemy coming, made a desperate attempt to spike her guns, and was cut down while so engaged. After all the boat could not be recovered. The Krooman on board Mr Beecroft's boat by mistake let go her anchor directly in front of the enemy's lines, and had not an officer, in the most gallant way, cut her chain cable with a chisel, under a fearfully hot fire, during which he was several times hit, she also would have been destroyed. Everybody during the action behaved admirably, and no one deserved more praise than did the surgeons sent on the expedition, who, throughout the day, attended on the wounded, exposed to the hottest fire. Disastrous in one respect had indeed been the result of the expedition, for upwards of sixty men and officers had been wounded, and thirteen men and three midshipmen killed. When it was found that the boat could not be recovered, a mate of one of the ships and the gunner, in the most gallant way, pulled back to the cutter, and by throwing a rocket into her, so well-directed that it entered her magazine, blew her up, destroying at the same time not a few of her captors. Towards the evening the steamer was got off, and the order was then given for the boats to return out of gun-shot for the night. British seamen are not apt to indulge in low spirits or to give way to melancholy, but those engaged in the expedition might well have been excused had they done so. Had they been successful the case would have been different, but as yet nothing had been accomplished; still probably there was not a man who did not feel that before the end of another day something would be done, nor did any one dream of abandoning the enterprise. Jack and Adair looked out anxiously for Murray.

"Can he have been hit?" said Terence. "It surely was not his boat that was taken."

"I trust not indeed," answered Jack, anxiously. "I'll hail the boats as they come up, to learn if anybody knows where he is."

Boat after boat was hailed, but no information could be obtained of Murray. They became seriously anxious about him. Jack had several men wounded in his boat, and one poor fellow lay stark and cold in the bow. The other boats had also several wounded on board them, while the steamer had a still greater proportion. The groans and cries of the poor fellows, as they lay racked with pain in the confined space which could alone be afforded on board the small vessels and boats, sounded sadly in the calm midnight air. The surgeons all the time were stepping from boat to boat, or visiting the vessels in succession, and doing their utmost to alleviate the sufferings of the wounded. Happy were those who could sleep, but many, among whom were Jack and Terence, could not close an eye. How anxiously, as they leant back and looked up to the dark sky studded with its myriads of stars reflected in the calm glassy waters, did they wish for the morrow, though that morrow might bring death and wounds to themselves or their companions. Happy, indeed, is it for all of us that we do not know what the morrow may bring forth.

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The Three Midshipmen - Chapter 24. Hot Fighting The Three Midshipmen - Chapter 24. Hot Fighting

The Three Midshipmen - Chapter 24. Hot Fighting
CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR. HOT FIGHTING With Jack Rogers had come little Harry Bevan; Jack, not believing that there would be any fighting, had got leave to bring his young charge with him. As the shot were flying thickly about, how gladly would he have shielded the young lad with his own body. He wished that he could have ventured to stow him down at the bottom of the boat, out of harm's way; but he knew well enough that Harry would not have remained there a minute had he done so. Not a thought that he himself might

The Three Midshipmen - Chapter 20. Slave-Hunting The Three Midshipmen - Chapter 20. Slave-Hunting

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CHAPTER TWENTY. SLAVE-HUNTING The big schooner and the _Venus were soon hove-to, and while the two vessels were bowing and bobbing away at each other, a boat was lowered from the quarter of the former, which came dashing over the seas urged by four stout hands towards them. Jack Rogers sat in the stern-sheets. He sprang on board and grasped Alick's and Terence's hands. For nearly a minute he could not speak. He looked at one and then at the other. "My dear fellows, you do look terribly pulled down," he exclaimed at length. "Still I am