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首页 » 经典英文小说 » Young Peggy McQueen » CHAPTER V. A Bloodless Battle.—Life on the Island.
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CHAPTER V. A Bloodless Battle.—Life on the Island.

AHEARTY breakfast—and it was a hearty1 one too—put King Karoo into fine form again. He was quite friendly now.
“We don’t want to eat any more white men,” he said.
“If you try it,” said Stransom, “you may find that the bones will stick in your throat.”
“Now, Fitz,” he added, turning to the playwright2 and flute-maker, “I believe in striking the iron while it is still hot—I purpose going back with the king. The canoe is big enough to hold us all. But you and Johnnie had better stay here to guard the ship, not that there is any danger, but if I take Gourmand3——”
“I’m on again,” said Gourmie.
“And Willie and Peggy, and give these savages5 a little entertainment and a few presents, I think we shall win a bloodless battle. What say you?”
“I’m a little afraid for Peggy,” replied{157} Fitzroy; “she is the strength of the company; besides, we all love her, and——”
But Fitzroy’s scruples6 were soon overcome, and so, after dressing7 like an angel—this was Johnnie’s expression—Peggy was the first to get into the war-canoe, much to the astonishment8 of the savages. Peggy had no fear. All were armed with revolvers. But there did not seem very much to dread9. They took quite a bale of goods with them, and Gourmand had his great duck-gun: so big and heavy was it, that few ordinary men could have wielded10 it.
On his way to the king’s camp, and while still at sea, Gourmand raised the piece and brought down a bird of the hawk11 species. The report was so awful and so unexpected, that most of the crew fell backwards12 with alarm, and lay there with their naked legs in the air.
The king himself almost fainted, but when he saw the great bird lying dead on the water—
“Oh, good, good!” he exclaimed, in his own language. “The big boy clever, clever. When we get back, the big boy shall shoot my old fat wife. She is good for nothing now—only for soup.{158}”
The landing was very impressive. The savages crowded round their king, and it was evident from his gestures that he was telling all his adventures, and speaking in favour of these white men.
When a few minutes after this the pigmy Willie led Peggy on shore, and Peggy smiled and bowed to them, and then quietly ran, chattering13 and laughing, into the very midst of the wildest-looking group, those cannibals were completely vanquished14.
But when Gourmand jumped on shore with his marvellous trombone, they fell back, and would have turned pale with superstitious15 terror, if it were possible for a negro to do so. Then Gourmand blew a blast from the instrument, and twenty men at least fell flat on their faces. But seeing the king laughing, they took heart and advanced, and in less than five minutes the giant was so great a favourite that they would willingly have killed and eaten Karoo in order that Gourmand might reign16 in his stead. And so this bloodless battle was won.
The child Peggy had brought her mandoline, and was invited by the king to sing,{159} in order that his people, he said, might rejoice.
Peggy needed no second bidding. She mounted a grassy17 mound18 beneath a spreading tree and sang her best and sweetest song. It did seem strange, this crowd of listening, spear-armed savages, around the one little mite19 of a white child who had the power to enthral them with the music of her voice!
But when, with Willie as a partner, she danced a fandango, the natives grew wildly excited, and they too must dance. Before Peggy knew exactly what was the matter, behold20, a triple ring of them were whirling madly round the tree, shouting, screaming, and yelling, while they brandished21 their spears aloft!
“Give them a solo,” shouted Stransom to Gourmand; “it will help to quicken the beggars.”
And at the very first blast from that marvellous instrument, a scene of panic ensued, such as is seldom witnessed. The savages darted22 back in all directions, knocking each other down, falling on each other, with legs, arms, heads and spears, in such a mad comminglement, the wonder is that{160} many were not killed; and before Gourmand had finished his gigantic solo, there wasn’t a soul to be seen.
“‘Music hath charms,’” cried Gourmand, doing an attitude, “‘to soothe23 the savage4 breast.’”
The king almost went into a fit with laughing, while Peggy and Willie joined in the general merriment, and the giant added his bass24 “Ho! ho! ho!” and his deep “Ha! ha! ha!” till the very welkin rang.
But the natives soon returned, and “Little Gourmie,” as Willie called him, gave an exhibition of his strength and skill that astounded25 his audience.
The giant was then requested by the king to shoot his fat old wife.
“No,” said Gourmie; “I’ve never been used to shooting fat old wives, and I’m too old to learn. Thank you, all the same.”
Peggy and Willie had described all their picnic that evening at dinner to Johnnie, and Johnnie sighed because he hadn’t been there.
The friendship between the savages and the whites soon ripened26 into something very real and lasting27.
The king gladly gave his people permission{161} to build a fort for the Wanderers, and they worked so hard under Stransom’s supervision28 that it was soon completed. It was erected29 close to the wood, and was to all intents and purposes impregnable.
In boats, round from the creek30, all provisions and everything of value was brought. The Vulture, indeed, was now dismantled31, for she had begun to leak again.
About a month after our heroes had settled down in their strange wild home, a cyclone32 swept over the island; so terrible was its force, that trees were torn up by the roots and carried high into the air. The sea rose and threatened to sap the very foundations of the fort, and hundreds of the native huts were scattered33 about like so much hay.
Next day all was calm again, and the savages quietly commenced to rebuild their huts. But the Vulture had sunk at her moorings. Well was it for our people that they had left her in time.
Long months passed with no signs of deliverance from this beautiful island-life, which was, after all, but exile; and Fitzroy and Stransom were now the greatest of friends with the savages, and really nothing{162} else save friendship and love ruled the place.
Yes, they were cannibals, but what one eats is merely a matter of taste, and I have known many respectable cannibals, though I never accepted the invitations to dinner they sent me. Her majesty34 the fat queen had somehow disappeared.
“Haven’t seen her majesty of late,” said Stransom, one day, to the king.
“What!” was the reply. “You are sorry, then, I did not send you a joint35?”
That was the answer put into English. It was really a much more gruesome one. “It was a shuddery36 reply,” Johnnie said.
The lives of Johnnie, Willie, and Peggy (with noble Ralph, of course) were nearly all woodland and wave now. They had canoes, one each, in which they rowed races, or from which they fished, whenever it was fine, and around this enchanting37 island, cannibalistic though it was, the seas were nearly always smooth and blue.
They all carried revolvers wherever they went, not that there was much danger, but one should always be prepared. “Peggy was an excellent shot,” so said Willie; “because,” he added, “she always manages{163} to hit the thing she isn’t aiming at.” By the way, the cannibals made a canoe for this dear little dwarf38 boy, and it wasn’t much bigger than a pocket dictionary—well, it might have been a little larger. It is best to be exact in matters of this sort.
The king dearly loved to have Peggy and the dwarf to play and sing to him, and usually went to sleep during the performance. This was very “sweet” of him, Peggy said, and “quite complimentary39.”
Peggy’s influence over this cannibal king was very great. She twined him round her little finger, so to speak. He had to do everything the pretty little minx told him, and take her and her companions out in the royal canoe whenever she wanted a picnic or an airing. The king would sit patiently on his daïs sometimes, as calm and serene40 as a summer sunset or a stucco cat, while she dressed him from top to toe in flowers and leaves and strings41 of beads42, and finally crowned him with her oldest tartan Tam o’ Shanter. He looked so droll43 in this get-up that Peggy had to clap her hands and laugh and run round and round about him, to view him from every quarter. If there had been a missionary44 on the island and Peggy{164} had asked the king to throw a stone at him, the king would have obeyed, unhesitatingly.
There had been a missionary there once, the king allowed. The missionary said Providence45 had sent him. The king believed him, for that missionary, his majesty told Johnnie, made the best curry46 ever he had tasted!
“The missionary was a good cook, then?” said Johnnie.
“Good cook!” cried the king. “No, no, my fat old wife the cook. My wife cookee he!”
The king was being taught English, but it wasn’t the best.
“Oh, I see,” said Johnnie, “I see now. Your wife cookee he, and you cookee she. Well, you’re a queer lot, you cannibal fellows.”
At first Ralph the blood-hound used to terrorise the whole population, specially47 the little pickaninnies or children, who all ran from him when he appeared on the white sandy beach where they played.
It made our young heroes laugh till their sides were sore to see a crowd of these naked little black children fleeing from Ralph, who, by the way, never condescended48 to chase{165} them. It was a crowd of whirling legs and arms, and each tiny cannibal looked like the three-legged wheel you see on a Manx half-penny, only without stockings or bootlets on.
The king delighted to see the giant exhibit his strength. But when one day the tiny dwarf boy, unknown to the king, hid inside the bell-shaped end of Gourmand’s enormous brass49 basoon and jumped out with a wild shriek50 when the giant began to play, his majesty nearly went into a fit with laughing.
It was fun! And some fresh fun was invented every day for the purpose of making this great big baby of a king laugh and shake.
Ah! well, but after all, our shipwrecked Wandering Minstrels did long for home often enough too, and at supper-time or after, while by themselves in the fort, they were never tired of talking about their adventures in dear old England—in wayside camp and caravan51.
One morning early, Johnnie, who had been out shooting rock-rabbits, came back into the fort with a rush or a run.
“Oh!” he cried; “the ship! the ship!”
Then indeed there was excitement in the little fort.


1 hearty Od1zn     
  • After work they made a hearty meal in the worker's canteen.工作完了,他们在工人食堂饱餐了一顿。
  • We accorded him a hearty welcome.我们给他热忱的欢迎。
2 playwright 8Ouxo     
  • Gwyn Thomas was a famous playwright.格温·托马斯是著名的剧作家。
  • The playwright was slaughtered by the press.这位剧作家受到新闻界的无情批判。
3 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。
4 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。
5 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。
6 scruples 14d2b6347f5953bad0a0c5eebf78068a     
n.良心上的不安( scruple的名词复数 );顾虑,顾忌v.感到于心不安,有顾忌( scruple的第三人称单数 )
  • I overcame my moral scruples. 我抛开了道德方面的顾虑。
  • I'm not ashamed of my scruples about your family. They were natural. 我并未因为对你家人的顾虑而感到羞耻。这种感觉是自然而然的。 来自疯狂英语突破英语语调
7 dressing 1uOzJG     
  • Don't spend such a lot of time in dressing yourself.别花那么多时间来打扮自己。
  • The children enjoy dressing up in mother's old clothes.孩子们喜欢穿上妈妈旧时的衣服玩。
8 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。
9 dread Ekpz8     
  • We all dread to think what will happen if the company closes.我们都不敢去想一旦公司关门我们该怎么办。
  • Her heart was relieved of its blankest dread.她极度恐惧的心理消除了。
10 wielded d9bac000554dcceda2561eb3687290fc     
手持着使用(武器、工具等)( wield的过去式和过去分词 ); 具有; 运用(权力); 施加(影响)
  • The bad eggs wielded power, while the good people were oppressed. 坏人当道,好人受气
  • He was nominally the leader, but others actually wielded the power. 名义上他是领导者,但实际上是别人掌握实权。
11 hawk NeKxY     
  • The hawk swooped down on the rabbit and killed it.鹰猛地朝兔子扑下来,并把它杀死。
  • The hawk snatched the chicken and flew away.老鹰叼了小鸡就飞走了。
12 backwards BP9ya     
  • He turned on the light and began to pace backwards and forwards.他打开电灯并开始走来走去。
  • All the girls fell over backwards to get the party ready.姑娘们迫不及待地为聚会做准备。
13 chattering chattering