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首页 » 经典英文小说 » Young Peggy McQueen » CHAPTER III. When the Worst Comes to the Worst.
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CHAPTER III. When the Worst Comes to the Worst.

WHAT a welcome sight those cocoa-nut trees were! They only grow in islands where water abounds1, and the young cocoa-nut itself, before the kernel2 is formed, contains at least a quart of the most delicious fluid in the world. No wine is equal to it.
But never a boat was there left on board the Vulture to take them on shore, when they should dare to make the venture, as dare they must, or die!
Canoes with armed natives came towards them, but kept aloof3, making many threatening gestures. It was evidently their intention to board at night, and so the one swivel-gun which the Vulture possessed4 was loaded to her adamantine lips, and kept in readiness, and so were all the small-arms.
It was long past midnight, however, before anything occurred. The stars were burning very brightly, specially5 the Southern Cross, when suddenly Ralph gave warning voice. A fleet of dug-outs was approaching, although{135} nothing could be seen distinctly, and the gun was immediately pointed6 in its direction.
First the savages7 were warned off: they only came on faster. A rifle fired into their midst had merely the effect of stopping their progress for a moment. In a few minutes they would be swarming9 up the sides, knives in hand, and murder in their fierce and fearful eyes.
It is hard to have to take the lives of even savages, but needs must now, and so the gun gave voice. It was fired into their very midst, its canister-shot doing dreadful damage, as the yells of the foe10 fully11 testified. There were loud shrieks12 and groans13, and speedily all that was left of the dark fleet retreated shorewards. But just as speedily the gun was now loaded, and once more discharged with deadly effect.
The natives had probably never heard a gun fired before, nor ever seen the face of a white man.
Presently, when all was still, a rasping on the ship’s side told that a canoe was rubbing against her, and Johnnie himself ventured down. There was no one in it, and the paddles were gone. But a large calabash of pure water was found. How glorious! God had not forgotten these shipwrecked wanderers{136} after all, and the savages who had come off thirsting for blood had brought life instead.
Ralph kept watch. The others slumbered14 on deck, with the exception of Peggy, who was hard and fast asleep on the cabin sofa.
Morning revealed another marvel15.
The tide had risen and floated the Vulture off the reef and into a creek16!
When they awoke, to their astonishment17, our heroes found woods all round them, composed of a species of mangrove18, and a far taller, more spreading tree laden19 with beautiful, peach-like fruit. The anchor was at once let go, lest the returning tide might drift the old barque once more out to sea.
A council of war was assembled, and it was agreed that unless they could make peace with these savages or save themselves by stratagem20 of some sort, in all probability they would be unable to hold out many days, and indeed the tragedy might be but a few hours distant.
The wiles21 of black men, into whose breasts the civilising influence of religion has never entered, are many. In this case they must be met by the stratagems22 of whites.
To fight for any length of time was impossible. To fight at all was but to invite{137} death in its ugliest form. If fighting, therefore, must take place, it must be a last resource, and to sell their lives as dearly as they could. It was for Peggy that all feared most, and dreadful though the resolve was, Fitzroy determined23 that she should not fall alive into the hands of those fearful blacks, to be tortured to death, and probably devoured24 afterwards. Though he said nothing of this to Johnnie, he spoke25 his mind quietly to the skipper of the Vulture, as well as to Giant Gourmand26.
They each pressed his hand. They knew well what he meant. Had they put it in words it would have ran thus: When the worst comes to the worst, the last shot shall be for Peggy McQueen.
Savages are very superstitious27, and next morning when they found the Vulture gone—no signs of her anywhere—they must have jumped to the conclusion that the men on board were evil spirits and possessed the power of disappearing whenever they had a mind to. They evidently visited the creek but seldom, or this part of the island was uninhabited, for the whole forenoon passed away without a sign of a savage8.{138}
The captain of the Vulture determined, nevertheless, to explore his surroundings. This man had been a blackbirder in his time, and knew all the tricks and the manners of these islanders. The blackbirder is, or was, a man who fitted out a vessel28 in some Australian harbour, and sailed for these islands, taking the natives off with them, nolentes volentes, to be used as black labourers. These poor labourers are terribly treated, and the blackbirder is a meaner, more despicable wretch29 than even the slaver.
So after the guns were loaded and every preparation made to repel30 an attack, he slid over the side and swam on shore.
The time passed wearily by on board the Vulture, and it wanted barely an hour to sunset when the captain returned. He came hand over hand up the side, smiling, and as soon as he had changed his wet garments he made his report.
“I think,” he told them, “it will be all right for one night at least, whatever may happen another day. I have had a strange experience, for I have captured an outlying savage.”
“Was he asleep?”
“Sound, and I questioned him in his own{139} language, which, as it happens, I know right well. This part of the island, for miles around, is uninhabited. It has a bad name. The blackbirders and the natives, he told me, had a battle here, and their spirits (gooboos) still haunt the woods. This is all in our favour, though gooboos or not gooboos, if they find we are here in the flesh they will attack us.”
“Captain Stransom,” said Fitzroy, “you didn’t murd—— well, kill the poor savage, did you?”
“Not much, though I’ve shot many a prettier bird. No, I have him tied up with withies—sailors’ knots—in the wood here, and we’ll have him on board to-morrow; I expect we can make him useful later on. But to-morrow we must fortify31 our position here, and prepare ourselves for whatever may happen. Luckily, there is a stream of pure water not far from this, and fruit enough for a line-of-battle ship.”
This was good news, and innocent little Peggy was happy once more, if nobody else was.
“Oh,” she cried; “I should like to go and sing and dance to these poor people.”
“Ah! my Peggy, you would never sing or dance any more after that,” said Fitzroy.{140}
Ralph, who slept with one eye open, was on duty again that night.
About two bells in the morning watch, everyone was suddenly aroused by the hound’s deep baying. All hands rushed to arms at once, prepared to repel boarders. But no attack was made, and no sound was audible to human ear, so the skipper concluded it must have been Tootaker, the savage, trying to make his escape.
“He can’t, though,” he added; “not if he were the devil. Sailors’ knots and plenty of them!”
The only arms these savages possessed were knives and ugly spears, which they could throw with great precision.
The sun rose in another hour’s time, and, after breakfast, wood was got up from below and a barricade32 was built around the quarter-deck. The saloon was provisioned, and all the other hatches were battened down. They were now in a position to stand a siege, if need were.
Luck was in their favour, for they noticed two canoes beached near by, and Stransom, the skipper, with Johnnie, swam over the creek and took possession of them. There was a shot-hole in the gunwale of each, so no{141} doubt those canoes had formed part of the hostile fleet. The paddles were in both.
“The natives,” said Stransom, “must have jumped overboard and left these.”
First the prisoner was taken on board, and so well was he treated that he told the skipper he never wanted to leave the ship any more, for if he returned his people would cook him alive, then gobble him all up, and lick their lips afterwards. He was a well-formed man, this savage, with a high skull33 and somewhat full lips, but most intelligent eyes. He wore only one garment, of coarse hair stuff. But Peggy liked him from the first, and it seemed to delight the child to play and sing to him.
Tootaker glared at her with his black eyes and said, “Oo! oo! Yum! yum!” but whether he was enraptured34 with the music, or was thinking how nice Peggy would be to eat, I cannot say for certain. “Yum! yum!” means so much.
The two canoes came in very handy, and that forenoon the ship’s chief water-tank was filled.
At first the blood-hound was very suspicious of Tootaker, and Tootaker looked upon the dog as some fearful wild beast. But they soon became friends.{142}
This savage, in conversation with Stransom, said his people had taken the ship for a blackbirder, and were determined to slay35 every man on board. This was not very comforting, and for the present, at all events, the best thing that our heroes could do was to lie perdu. “Defence not defiance” must now be their motto. Stratagem might come in afterwards.
To say the least—the position of Fitzroy and his friends was one that could not be envied.
On the one hand they had water and provisions enough to last them for a very long time indeed, but they were literally36 in a stage of seige. There was no saying what might occur at any moment. Not less than five hundred wild natives lived on this lonesome isle37 of the Pacific, which was so far out of the usual track of trading vessels38 that there was little chance of its being visited, unless a ship should happen to be driven out of its course as the Vulture had been.
The island was certainly not a large one, probably only about five miles in any one direction, very irregular and wooded in parts. Although the sea was swarming with sharks, there were no wild beasts in it larger than a{143} species of rock-rabbit, but turtles abounded39, and there were thousands of wild-fowl. Bar an accident to their magazine, there was but little danger of their being starved, and the ship was now dry and trustworthy, being no longer strained and buffeted41 by the waves.
But oh! the lonesomeness of the situation; for they were afraid even to put out a little way to sea in the canoes, lest their position should be discovered.
When a whole fortnight passed away and absolutely nothing occurred, except one tropical storm, which served to break the monotony, all agreed that the life was becoming unbearable42. The giant became morose43, Willie looked as sad as if he had been heat-struck, and would sit forward in the fo’c’sle for two hours at a time silently gazing into the water. Even Peggy lost heart and seldom touched her mandoline. And Johnnie, who was evidently forcing himself to keep up his spirits, tried in vain to rouse Peggy from her lethargy. Ralph would get up often and stretch himself and yawn, but he had no heart to romp44. He would walk over to Peggy, and placing his great head in her lap, look up in her face with his beautiful, beseeching45 eyes,{144} as much as to say: “Dear little mistress, how long is this going to last? When are we going back to the wild woods, the tent, and the little caravan46?” The child believed she knew what he was thinking about, and as she bent47 down to kiss his noble brow, her eyes were wet with tears.
“And is this to be the end of all my ambition?” thought Fitzroy. “Are we never to reach Australia, the land of all my hopes?”
“I tell you what it is, Stransom,” he said one day to the skipper, “something has got to be done, else I shall go out of my mind.”
As the skipper made no reply—
“I say,” he continued, “couldn’t something be done with the ship herself? Couldn’t we put to sea again and try to make some land, somewhere? She seems trustworthy now.”
“You are no sailor, Mr. Fitzroy. We are shorthanded, and the ship once strained by a heavy sea would certainly sink. No; I myself think something should be done, else we’ll get as cowardly as rats in a hole. I’ll think it over and let you know. Are you ready to follow my advice?” he added.
“Yes!” cried Fitzroy and Johnnie both in one breath. And even Gourmie wakened{145} up out of his lethargy and smiled a ten-inch smile. “I’m on for anything, from pitch-and-toss to manslaughter,” he cried, rubbing his hands; “and if it comes to a fair stand-up fight Gourmie’ll do two men’s share at least.”
The giant rubbed his hands again. The skipper lit his pipe and threw himself down on the deck to think. And Johnnie ran forward to see Willie.
“Willie, Willie; don’t sit and mope there like a baby owl40. Something is going to be done. Father and the captain said so. We’re going to get out of this hole by hook or by crook48.”
“Wowff—wow—ow—ow!” bayed Ralph, and Willie jumped joyfully49 up, and five minutes afterwards he and Peggy and Johnnie were having a concert together in the saloon.
Everybody had more appetite for dinner that day, and after it Stransom said, carelessly—
“I’m going on shore to-night with Tootaker. Don’t worry if I don’t come back till sunrise.”
Johnnie liked that speech, and couldn’t help admiring the captain for his coolness.
“I couldn’t have made a better speech myself,” he told Willie, in confidence.
But everyone wondered what was going to happen next.


1 abounds e383095f177bb040b7344dc416ce6761     
v.大量存在,充满,富于( abound的第三人称单数 )
  • The place abounds with fruit, especially pears and peaches. 此地盛产水果,尤以梨桃著称。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
  • This country abounds with fruit. 这个国家盛产水果。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
2 kernel f3wxW     
  • The kernel of his problem is lack of money.他的问题的核心是缺钱。
  • The nutshell includes the kernel.果壳裹住果仁。
3 aloof wxpzN     
  • Never stand aloof from the masses.千万不可脱离群众。
  • On the evening the girl kept herself timidly aloof from the crowd.这小女孩在晚会上一直胆怯地远离人群。
4 possessed xuyyQ     
  • He flew out of the room like a man possessed.他像着了魔似地猛然冲出房门。
  • He behaved like someone possessed.他行为举止像是魔怔了。
5 specially Hviwq     
  • They are specially packaged so that they stack easily.它们经过特别包装以便于堆放。
  • The machine was designed specially for demolishing old buildings.这种机器是专为拆毁旧楼房而设计的。
6 pointed Il8zB4     
  • He gave me a very sharp pointed pencil.他给我一支削得非常尖的铅笔。
  • She wished to show Mrs.John Dashwood by this pointed invitation to her brother.她想通过对达茨伍德夫人提出直截了当的邀请向她的哥哥表示出来。
7 savages 2ea43ddb53dad99ea1c80de05d21d1e5     
未开化的人,野蛮人( savage的名词复数 )
  • There're some savages living in the forest. 森林里居住着一些野人。
  • That's an island inhabited by savages. 那是一个野蛮人居住的岛屿。
8 savage ECxzR     
  • The poor man received a savage beating from the thugs.那可怜的人遭到暴徒的痛打。
  • He has a savage temper.他脾气粗暴。
9 swarming db600a2d08b872102efc8fbe05f047f9     
密集( swarm的现在分词 ); 云集; 成群地移动; 蜜蜂或其他飞行昆虫成群地飞来飞去
  • The sacks of rice were swarming with bugs. 一袋袋的米里长满了虫子。
  • The beach is swarming with bathers. 海滩满是海水浴的人。
10 foe ygczK     
  • He knew that Karl could be an implacable foe.他明白卡尔可能会成为他的死敌。
  • A friend is a friend;a foe is a foe;one must be clearly distinguished from the other.敌是敌,友是友,必须分清界限。
11 fully Gfuzd     
  • The doctor asked me to breathe in,then to breathe out fully.医生让我先吸气,然后全部呼出。
  • They soon became fully integrated into the local community.他们很快就完全融入了当地人的圈子。
12 shrieks e693aa502222a9efbbd76f900b6f5114     
n.尖叫声( shriek的名词复数 )v.尖叫( shriek的第三人称单数 )
  • shrieks of fiendish laughter 恶魔般的尖笑声
  • For years, from newspapers, broadcasts, the stages and at meetings, we had heard nothing but grandiloquent rhetoric delivered with shouts and shrieks that deafened the ears. 多少年来, 报纸上, 广播里, 舞台上, 会场上的声嘶力竭,装腔做态的高调搞得我们震耳欲聋。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
13 groans 41bd40c1aa6a00b4445e6420ff52b6ad     
n.呻吟,叹息( groan的名词复数 );呻吟般的声音v.呻吟( groan的第三人称单数 );发牢骚;抱怨;受苦
  • There were loud groans when he started to sing. 他刚开始歌唱时有人发出了很大的嘘声。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • It was a weird old house, full of creaks and groans. 这是所神秘而可怕的旧宅,到处嘎吱嘎吱作响。 来自《简明英汉词典》
14 slumbered 90bc7b1e5a8ccd9fdc68d12edbd1f200     
  • The baby slumbered in his cradle. 婴儿安睡在摇篮中。
  • At that time my virtue slumbered; my evil, kept awake by ambition. 就在那时,我的善的一面睡着了,我的邪恶面因野心勃勃而清醒着。
15 marvel b2xyG     
  • The robot is a marvel of modern engineering.机器人是现代工程技术的奇迹。
  • The operation was a marvel of medical skill.这次手术是医术上的一个奇迹。
16 creek 3orzL     
  • He sprang through the creek.他跳过小河。
  • People sunbathe in the nude on the rocks above the creek.人们在露出小溪的岩石上裸体晒日光浴。
17 astonishment VvjzR     
  • They heard him give a loud shout of astonishment.他们听见他惊奇地大叫一声。
  • I was filled with astonishment at her strange action.我对她的奇怪举动不胜惊异。
18 mangrove 4oFzc2     
  • It is the world's largest tidal mangrove forest.它是世界上最大的红树林沼泽地。
  • Many consider this the most beautiful mangrove forest in all Thailand.许多人认为这里是全泰国最美丽的红树林了。
19 laden P2gx5     
  • He is laden with heavy responsibility.他肩负重任。
  • Dragging the fully laden boat across the sand dunes was no mean feat.将满载货物的船拖过沙丘是一件了不起的事。
20 stratagem ThlyQ     
  • Knit the brows and a stratagem comes to mind.眉头一皱,计上心来。
  • Trade discounts may be used as a competitive stratagem to secure customer loyalty.商业折扣可以用作维护顾客忠诚度的一种竞争策略。
21 wiles 9e4z1U     
n.(旨在欺骗或吸引人的)诡计,花招;欺骗,欺诈( wile的名词复数 )
  • All her wiles were to persuade them to buy the goods. 她花言巧语想打动他们买这些货物。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • The woman used all her wiles to tempt him into following her. 那女人用尽了自己的诱骗本领勾引着他尾随而去。 来自《用法词典》
22 stratagems 28767f8a7c56f953da2c1d90c9cac552     
n.诡计,计谋( stratagem的名词复数 );花招
  • My bargaining stratagems are starting to show some promise. 我的议价策略也已经出现了一些结果。 来自电影对白
  • These commanders are ace-high because of their wisdom and stratagems. 这些指挥官因足智多谋而特别受人喜爱。 来自互联网
23 determined duszmP     
  • I have determined on going to Tibet after graduation.我已决定毕业后去西藏。
  • He determined to view the rooms behind the office.他决定查看一下办公室后面的房间。
24 devoured af343afccf250213c6b0cadbf3a346a9     
吞没( devour的过去式和过去分词 ); 耗尽; 津津有味地看; 狼吞虎咽地吃光
  • She devoured everything she could lay her hands on: books, magazines and newspapers. 无论是书、杂志,还是报纸,只要能弄得到,她都看得津津有味。
  • The lions devoured a zebra in a short time. 狮子一会儿就吃掉了一匹斑马。
25 spoke XryyC     
n.(车轮的)辐条;轮辐;破坏某人的计划;阻挠某人的行动 v.讲,谈(speak的过去式);说;演说;从某种观点来说
  • They sourced the spoke nuts from our company.他们的轮辐螺帽是从我们公司获得的。
  • The spokes of a wheel are the bars that connect the outer ring to the centre.辐条是轮子上连接外圈与中心的条棒。
26 gourmand Vezzc     
  • He was long famed as a gourmand and heavy smoker and drinker.长期以来,他一直以嗜好美食和烟酒闻名。
  • The food here satisfies gourmands rather than gourmets.这里的食物可以管饱却不讲究品质。
27 superstitious BHEzf     
  • They aim to deliver the people who are in bondage to superstitious belief.他们的目的在于解脱那些受迷信束缚的人。
  • These superstitious practices should be abolished as soon as possible.这些迷信做法应尽早取消。
28 vessel 4L1zi     
  • The vessel is fully loaded with cargo for Shanghai.这艘船满载货物驶往上海。
  • You should put the water into a vessel.你应该把水装入容器中。
29 wretch EIPyl     
  • You are really an ungrateful wretch to complain instead of thanking him.你不但不谢他,还埋怨他,真不知好歹。
  • The dead husband is not the dishonoured wretch they fancied him.死去的丈夫不是他们所想象的不光彩的坏蛋。
30 repel 1BHzf     
  • A country must have the will to repel any invader.一个国家得有决心击退任何入侵者。
  • Particles with similar electric charges repel each other.电荷同性的分子互相排斥。
31 fortify sgezZ     
  • This country will fortify the coastal areas.该国将加强沿海地区的防御。
  • This treaty forbade the United States to fortify the canal.此条约禁止美国对运河设防。
32 barricade NufzI     
  • The soldiers make a barricade across the road.士兵在路上设路障。
  • It is difficult to break through a steel barricade.冲破钢铁障碍很难。
33 skull CETyO     
  • The skull bones fuse between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five.头骨在15至25岁之间长合。
  • He fell out of the window and cracked his skull.他从窗子摔了出去,跌裂了颅骨。
34 enraptured ee087a216bd29ae170b10f093b9bf96a     
v.使狂喜( enrapture的过去式和过去分词 )
  • He was enraptured that she had smiled at him. 她对他的微笑使他心荡神驰。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • They were enraptured to meet the great singer. 他们和大名鼎鼎的歌手见面,欣喜若狂。 来自《简明英汉词典》
35 slay 1EtzI     
  • He intended to slay his father's murderer.他意图杀死杀父仇人。
  • She has ordered me to slay you.她命令我把你杀了。
36 literally 28Wzv     
  • He translated the passage literally.他逐字逐句地翻译这段文字。
  • Sometimes she would not sit down till she was literally faint.有时候,她不走到真正要昏厥了,决不肯坐下来。
37 isle fatze     
  • He is from the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea.他来自爱尔兰海的马恩岛。
  • The boat left for the paradise isle of Bali.小船驶向天堂一般的巴厘岛。
38 vessels fc9307c2593b522954eadb3ee6c57480     
n.血管( vessel的名词复数 );船;容器;(具有特殊品质或接受特殊品质的)人
  • The river is navigable by vessels of up to 90 tons. 90 吨以下的船只可以从这条河通过。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • All modern vessels of any size are fitted with radar installations. 所有现代化船只都有雷达装置。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
39 abounded 40814edef832fbadb4cebe4735649eb5     
v.大量存在,充满,富于( abound的过去式和过去分词 )
  • Get-rich-quick schemes abounded, and many people lost their savings. “生财之道”遍地皆是,然而许多人一生积攒下来的钱转眼之间付之东流。 来自英汉非文学 - 政府文件
  • Shoppers thronged the sidewalks. Olivedrab and navy-blue uniforms abounded. 人行道上逛商店的人摩肩接踵,身着草绿色和海军蓝军装的军人比比皆是。 来自辞典例句
40 owl 7KFxk     
  • Her new glasses make her look like an owl.她的新眼镜让她看上去像只猫头鹰。
  • I'm a night owl and seldom go to bed until after midnight.我睡得很晚,经常半夜后才睡觉。
41 buffeted 2484040e69c5816c25c65e8310465688     
反复敲打( buffet的过去式和过去分词 ); 连续猛击; 打来打去; 推来搡去
  • to be buffeted by the wind 被风吹得左右摇摆
  • We were buffeted by the wind and the rain. 我们遭到风雨的袭击。
42 unbearable alCwB     
  • It is unbearable to be always on thorns.老是处于焦虑不安的情况中是受不了的。
  • The more he thought of it the more unbearable it became.他越想越觉得无法忍受。
43 morose qjByA     
  • He was silent and morose.他沉默寡言、郁郁寡欢。
  • The publicity didn't make him morose or unhappy?公开以后,没有让他郁闷或者不开心吗?
44 romp ZCPzo     
  • The child went for a romp in the forest.那个孩子去森林快活一把。
  • Dogs and little children romped happily in the garden.狗和小孩子们在花园里嬉戏。
45 beseeching 67f0362f7eb28291ad2968044eb2a985     
adj.恳求似的v.恳求,乞求(某事物)( beseech的现在分词 )
  • She clung to her father, beseeching him for consent. 她紧紧挨着父亲,恳求他答应。 来自辞典例句
  • He casts a beseeching glance at his son. 他用恳求的眼光望着儿子。 来自辞典例句
46 caravan OrVzu     
  • The community adviser gave us a caravan to live in.社区顾问给了我们一间活动住房栖身。
  • Geoff connected the caravan to the car.杰弗把旅行用的住屋拖车挂在汽车上。
47 bent QQ8yD     
  • He was fully bent upon the project.他一心扑在这项计划上。
  • We bent over backward to help them.我们尽了最大努力帮助他们。
48 crook NnuyV     
  • He demanded an apology from me for calling him a crook.我骂他骗子,他要我向他认错。
  • She was cradling a small parcel in the crook of her elbow.她用手臂挎着一个小包裹。
49 joyfully joyfully     
adv. 喜悦地, 高兴地
  • She tripped along joyfully as if treading on air. 她高兴地走着,脚底下轻飘飘的。
  • During these first weeks she slaved joyfully. 在最初的几周里,她干得很高兴。


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