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CHAPTER VI. White Wings upon the Waves.

THERE she was, just rounding the point—the bonnie, white-winged barque—and standing1 in for the beach near to which the natives dwelt.
“That’s a blackbirder,” said Stransom, “as sure as I’m a sailor. But we shall stop her game, shan’t we, Fitzroy?”
There was no time to lose.
The savages2 had already assembled on the beach to give the enemy a warm welcome, and Stransom sent a black fellow off at once to the king, bidding him be of good cheer, because Fitzroy and Gourmand3 would be with them round his own kraal without a moment’s delay.
This was done, but the blackbirders had the cruelty to fire a volley at the retreating cannibals, killing4 and wounding several. The men from the fort now hurried up, making a slight detour5 through the bush in order to keep out of sight. Gourmand carried the swivel gun. Fitzroy and the{167} other two, rifles and the ammunition6. There was a battery in front of the native village, and behind this they quickly hid.
The blackbirders landed in three well-armed boats, and forthwith commenced the attack, stopping every now and then to fire a volley at the trenches7. This was harmless enough, and Stransom would not permit the savages to show themselves, although they were now burning for revenge.
Probably the blackbirders—a more cutthroat-looking crew it would have been impossible to conceive—suspected an ambuscade, for they now advanced somewhat more slowly.
Again they fired.
And immediately the trenches replied—a regular peppering volley that both astonished and staggered these accursed slave-hunters.
“Back to your boats, you villains,” shouted Stransom, “or we’ll blow you to Jericho.”
A volley was all the reply, and on came the blackbirders with a rush. They thought to carry the trench8 by storm.
The swivel gun was emptied into their very midst, and the slaughter9 was terrible: what had been a crowd of living men seemed now but a mangled10 mass of dead and dying. For{168} even those unwounded threw themselves down and shouted for mercy.
It needed all the skill of the cannibal king to prevent his men from utterly11 wiping out the enemy. They were restrained, however, after a fashion, yet nearly all the wounded were speared.
Stransom and his men gathered round the rest and made them prisoners.
As the fight took place well out of sight of the few men left in charge of the barque, these had no idea what had occurred.
The leader of the raid was the captain of the ship himself. He was wounded, but had sufficient strength to sit up, and his eyes met those of Stransom. The man was Allison, first mate of the old Vulture.
“Allison, it is you!”
“It’s me, skipper. I deserve my fate. Let me now die in peace.”
“Die in peace, you shall,” answered Stransom, “but, my good fellow, had you not been wounded I should have hanged you!”
“Thank you,” sneered12 Allison.
Fitzroy now advanced. The playwright13 had some knowledge of surgery, and at once applied14 a tourniquet15 to the mutinee{169}r’s bleeding limb, and dressed it as well as he could.
The man was very faint, and begged for water. A negro lad climbed a cocoa-nut tree and threw down some of the greenest fruit.
After Allison had drunk, he appeared to fall asleep, and Fitzroy got the giant to carry him gently in under the shadow of the banana shrubs16.
Presently he opened his eyes. Fitzroy was kneeling by his side.
“Don’t leave me,” he moaned. “Don’t let me die just yet. I have that on my mind I would fain confess—and it concerns yourself—and Peggy McQueen.”
Meanwhile Stransom, with Johnnie and the giant, had gone off in one of the boats, towards the barque. They had the swivel gun in the bow.
As soon as they were near enough they hailed, “Ship ahoy!”
“Ay, ay. What’s in the wind?” cried a black-bearded, cut-throat-looking man over the stern.
“You’ve got to surrender, that’s all, my sweet little seraph17. Your game’s up. Surrender quietly and your innocent life will{170} be spared. If you make a bit of bobbery, I’ll hang you from your own jibboom.”
“We surrender.”
“Does you now? Well, that is really very thoughtful of you. Been a blackbirder myself, though, darling. So just fire your guns in the air to please me, and to show us all is safe.”
“Curse you!” cried the ruffian.
The rifles rang out, and immediately after were flung on the deck.
Next minute, Stransom and Johnnie stood on the blackbirder’s poop.
“Good-morning,” said the former, with provoking coolness. “Sulky was he? Eh? Ah, but his mother’s darling mustn’t. Your new captain, that’s me, doesn’t like sulky boys. Ah! he smiles! See this little thing? Look, this is a revolver. His new captain doesn’t want to shoot, but must now send all hands below, prisoners—four of you? Eh? All right, down all of you to the hold. And when your new captain comes back he’ll let you all free and not hang anybody if everybody will be good and do as he is told.”
In five minutes more all four blackbirders were under lock and key.
“She’s safe enough,” said Stransom, as{171} they pulled back shorewards. “They can’t weigh anchor and give us the slip.”
Allison’s Strange Story.
Fitzroy poured a little brandy from his flask18 into the man’s mouth. He swallowed it, and presently he felt strong enough to raise himself slightly and to sit supported in the arms of a native.
“Mr. Fitzroy,” he said, “you must bear with me, and you must forgive me for what I have done. Can you? Do you?”
“I do,” said Fitzroy, solemnly, “as I hope to be forgiven when as close to the shadow of the grave as you are now.”
“You remember, sir, when Peggy McQueen first came into your charge?”
“I remember when I first adopted the dear child.”
“You were paid to do so. The money you received helped to set you up in life.”
“If there has been any setting up in it,” answered Fitzroy.
“You have been successful ever since.”
“Till now, yes, fairly so.”
“And you knew, Peggy had a history which you did not trouble your head much to inquire into?{172}”
“Perhaps, perhaps; but come, what has this to do with your confession19?”
The man had fainted, but was soon restored, and went on again.
He was weaker now, however, and again Fitzroy held a little more brandy to his lips.
“In my pocket—feel,” he said, slowly, “a key.” The left jacket pocket. Yes, that is it. When you go on board, open my private drawer, and you will find letters to testify to the truth of all I tell you. Peggy McQueen is a stolen child—stolen that she might not reap the benefits of an uncle’s will. This uncle was an old bachelor and lived with his sister-in-law—yes, the address is in my drawer—the estate, it is a fine one, would be his only brother’s had he died without a will. His only brother was his greatest enemy. He loved the child, and left her all his fortune. But the very night on which he died this evil brother came to me. I was poor, and fell an easy prey20 to bribery21.
“Oh, horrible!” continued the dying man. “I was told off to steal Peggy and throw her down a disused well.”
A light began to dawn on Fitzroy’s mind now, for he remembered the story poor Peggy{173} had told him about her meeting with the beautiful, white-haired lady in her own park, and about everything that happened.
He grasped Allison by the cold hand.
“And you—you murdered another child and threw her into the well—you stole Peggy and—sold her to me!”
“No—no—there was no murder. I could not do that, but—God forgive me, I robbed a grave of its little girl inmate22. It was a ghoulish thing to do. It was her corpse23 in Peggy’s clothes that was found down the well.”
“Yes, but——”
“Listen, for I feel I am going fast. When the money I received for the—the deed—was squandered—I blackmailed24 the evil brother! He laughed at me first, but when I told him that Peggy was still alive, and threatened to bring her up, he trembled like the coward he was, but promised that if I brought the child to him—but I would not—I was bribed25 again—but my men failed to kidnap her. Then came the plot to get you and her out of the country to a place where she would never likely be heard of again.”
“Hold a moment! There was no Macgilvray?{174}”
“No—no—it was all a plot to ruin you—forgive—I—I——”
It was no faint this time. The brandy Fitzroy tried to pour into his mouth ran out again over his cheeks and chin.
Only one brief spasm26, and the jaw27 dropped. The eyes were fixed28 for ever.
Fitzroy lowered him slowly to the ground and left the place, sad, though he did not know why, and wondering if all this could be true.
But he had the key, and before nightfall he would know everything.


1 standing 2hCzgo     
  • After the earthquake only a few houses were left standing.地震过后只有几幢房屋还立着。
  • They're standing out against any change in the law.他们坚决反对对法律做任何修改。
2 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。
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 killing kpBziQ     
  • Investors are set to make a killing from the sell-off.投资者准备清仓以便大赚一笔。
  • Last week my brother made a killing on Wall Street.上个周我兄弟在华尔街赚了一大笔。
5 detour blSzz     
  • We made a detour to avoid the heavy traffic.我们绕道走,避开繁忙的交通。
  • He did not take the direct route to his home,but made a detour around the outskirts of the city.他没有直接回家,而是绕到市郊兜了个圈子。
6 ammunition GwVzz     
  • A few of the jeeps had run out of ammunition.几辆吉普车上的弹药已经用光了。
  • They have expended all their ammunition.他们把弹药用光。
7 trenches ed0fcecda36d9eed25f5db569f03502d     
深沟,地沟( trench的名词复数 ); 战壕
  • life in the trenches 第一次世界大战期间的战壕生活
  • The troops stormed the enemy's trenches and fanned out across the fields. 部队猛攻敌人的战壕,并在田野上呈扇形散开。
8 trench VJHzP     
  • The soldiers recaptured their trench.兵士夺回了战壕。
  • The troops received orders to trench the outpost.部队接到命令在前哨周围筑壕加强防卫。
9 slaughter 8Tpz1     
  • I couldn't stand to watch them slaughter the cattle.我不忍看他们宰牛。
  • Wholesale slaughter was carried out in the name of progress.大规模的屠杀在维护进步的名义下进行。
10 mangled c6ddad2d2b989a3ee0c19033d9ef021b     
  • His hand was mangled in the machine. 他的手卷到机器里轧烂了。
  • He was off work because he'd mangled his hand in a machine. 他没上班,因为他的手给机器严重压伤了。 来自《简明英汉词典》
11 utterly ZfpzM1     
  • Utterly devoted to the people,he gave his life in saving his patients.他忠于人民,把毕生精力用于挽救患者的生命。
  • I was utterly ravished by the way she smiled.她的微笑使我完全陶醉了。
12 sneered 0e3b5b35e54fb2ad006040792a867d9f     
讥笑,冷笑( sneer的过去式和过去分词 )
  • He sneered at people who liked pop music. 他嘲笑喜欢流行音乐的人。
  • It's very discouraging to be sneered at all the time. 成天受嘲讽是很令人泄气的。
13 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。
14 applied Tz2zXA     
  • She plans to take a course in applied linguistics.她打算学习应用语言学课程。
  • This cream is best applied to the face at night.这种乳霜最好晚上擦脸用。
15 tourniquet fnYwf     
  • Twist the tourniquet tighter.把止血带扎紧点。
  • The tourniquet should occlude venous and lymphatic return.止血带应阻断静脉及淋巴回流。
16 shrubs b480276f8eea44e011d42320b17c3619     
灌木( shrub的名词复数 )
  • The gardener spent a complete morning in trimming those two shrubs. 园丁花了整个上午的时间修剪那两处灌木林。
  • These shrubs will need more light to produce flowering shoots. 这些灌木需要更多的光照才能抽出开花的新枝。
17 seraph Gziw4     
  • Seraph is of the highest rank of angels in the Bible.六翼天使是圣经中级别最高的天使。
  • In the Bible,a seraph is a kind of angel.在圣经中,六翼天使是天使的一种。
18 flask Egxz8     
  • There is some deposit in the bottom of the flask.这只烧杯的底部有些沉淀物。
  • He took out a metal flask from a canvas bag.他从帆布包里拿出一个金属瓶子。
19 confession 8Ygye     
  • Her confession was simply tantamount to a casual explanation.她的自白简直等于一篇即席说明。
  • The police used torture to extort a confession from him.警察对他用刑逼供。
20 prey g1czH     
  • Stronger animals prey on weaker ones.弱肉强食。
  • The lion was hunting for its prey.狮子在寻找猎物。
21 bribery Lxdz7Z     
  • FBI found out that the senator committed bribery.美国联邦调查局查明这个参议员有受贿行为。
  • He was charged with bribery.他被指控受贿。
22 inmate l4cyN     
  • I am an inmate of that hospital.我住在那家医院。
  • The prisoner is his inmate.那个囚犯和他同住一起。
23 corpse JYiz4     
  • What she saw was just an unfeeling corpse.她见到的只是一具全无感觉的尸体。
  • The corpse was preserved from decay by embalming.尸体用香料涂抹以防腐烂。
24 blackmailed 15a0127e6f31070c30f593701bdb74bc     
胁迫,尤指以透露他人不体面行为相威胁以勒索钱财( blackmail的过去式 )
  • He was blackmailed by an enemy agent (into passing on state secrets). 敌特威胁他(要他交出国家机密)。
  • The strikers refused to be blackmailed into returning to work. 罢工者拒绝了要挟复工的条件。
25 bribed 1382e59252debbc5bd32a2d1f691bd0f     
v.贿赂( bribe的过去式和过去分词 );向(某人)行贿,贿赂
  • They bribed him with costly presents. 他们用贵重的礼物贿赂他。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
  • He bribed himself onto the committee. 他暗通关节,钻营投机挤进了委员会。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
26 spasm dFJzH     
  • When the spasm passed,it left him weak and sweating.一阵痉挛之后,他虚弱无力,一直冒汗。
  • He kicked the chair in a spasm of impatience.他突然变得不耐烦,一脚踢向椅子。
27 jaw 5xgy9     
  • He delivered a right hook to his opponent's jaw.他给了对方下巴一记右钩拳。
  • A strong square jaw is a sign of firm character.强健的方下巴是刚毅性格的标志。
28 fixed JsKzzj     
  • Have you two fixed on a date for the wedding yet?你们俩选定婚期了吗?
  • Once the aim is fixed,we should not change it arbitrarily.目标一旦确定,我们就不应该随意改变。


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