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´╗┐Title: Sunshine Bill
Author: Kingston, William Henry Giles, 1814-1880
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Sunshine Bill" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



Sunshine Bill, by W H G Kingston.

________________________________________________________________________

Bill's father is a wherry-man in Portsmouth Harbour, who one day has an
accident and is killed.  Bill's mother is a seller of apples.  The whole
family are a happy, good-humoured lot.  Bill is befriended by a Captain
Trevelyan, who offers him a boy seaman's place in his ship, the Lilly.
So Bill goes off to sea, knowing that it would be perhaps four years or
more before he would see his family again.

His companions as boy seamen include Tommy Rebow, a somewhat weaker lad
than Bill.  The crew are all reasonably pleasant people, maybe grumbling
occasionally, but all getting on well together.

But all is not sunshine, for there are hurricanes, fallings overboard,
and other serious mishaps resulting in some swimming.  Some fighting
with the French, some encounters with sharks, some days with little or
no food and water.  But they get through it all, giving heartfelt thanks
to God for each release from their ordeals.  They were taking a captured
prize to Jamaica, when a lot of this occurred, and it was a considerable
time before they found themselves back on board the Lilly, and homeward
bound.

This is a neatly written book--no complaints about it.  It is also very
short, only half the length of most of Kingston's books, and printed on
incredibly thick paper, comparable with the card used to pack breakfast
cereals. But the action is lively and frequently unexpected.

________________________________________________________________________

SUNSHINE BILL, BY W H G KINGSTON.



CHAPTER ONE.

Sunshine Bill, according to the world's notion, was not "born with a
silver spoon in his mouth;" but he had, which was far better, kind,
honest parents.  His mother kept an apple-stall at Portsmouth, and his
father was part owner of a wherry; but even by their united efforts, in
fine weather, they found it hard work to feed and clothe their numerous
offspring.

Sometimes Sunshine Bill's father was laid up with illness, and sometimes
his mother was so; and occasionally he and his brothers and sisters were
sick also.  Sometimes they had the measles, or small-pox, or a fever;
and then there was the doctor to pay, and medicine to buy; consequently,
at the end of these visitations, the family cash-box, consisting of an
old stocking in a cracked basin, kept on the highest shelf of their
sitting-room, was generally empty, and they considered themselves
fortunate if they were not in debt besides.  Still, no one ever heard
them complain, or saw them quarrel, or beat their children, as some
people do when things do not go straight with them; nor did their
children ever fight among themselves.  Even, indeed, in the worst of
times, Sunshine Bill's mother managed to find a crust of bread and a bit
of cheese, to keep the family from starving.  To be sure, she and her
husband could not give their children much of an education, as far as
school learning was concerned.  They themselves, in spite of all trials,
were never cast down; and they taught Bill, and his brothers and
sisters, to follow their example.  They said that God had always been
kind to them, and that they were sure He would not change while they
tried to do their duty and please Him.

The most contented, and merriest, and happiest of their children was
Sunshine Bill.  That was not his real name, though; indeed, he did not
get it till long after the time I am speaking of.

He was properly called William Sunnyside, for, curiously enough,
Sunnyside was his father's name.  His father was known as Merry Tom
Sunnyside, and his mother as Pretty Molly Sunnyside--for pretty she had
been when she was young, and good as she was pretty.  It may seem
surprising that they were not better off, but they began the world
without anything, and children came fast upon them--a circumstance which
keeps many people poor in worldly wealth.

Sunshine Bill, when still a very little fellow, found out how to keep
the family pot boiling, even before some of his brothers had done so.
No occupation came amiss to him.  Sometimes he would go mud-larking, and
seldom missed finding some treasure or other.  The occupation was not a
nice one, for the mud in Portsmouth Harbour is far from clean, or sweet
to the nose; but Bill did not care for that, provided he was successful
in his search.  Sometimes, too, he would go fishing, and seldom came
home without a pretty well-filled basket.  Then he would look after
seamen's boats, and place stools for passengers to walk along when the
water was low; and when the weather was bad, and few persons were going
afloat, he would go on errands, or scamper alongside gentlemen's horses,
ready to hold them when they dismounted.  He had such a merry, facetious
manner about him, that he generally managed to pick up twice as much as
anybody else engaged in the same sort of occupation.

This sort of work, however, was very well for Bill while he was a little
fellow; but it was clear that it would not do for him when he should
grow bigger.  His father and mother often talked over what Bill was to
do when that time came.

Tom Sunnyside wished to send him to sea after his two elder brothers,
for his next two boys were with him in his boat.  Molly wanted to keep
him at home to help her in her trade; Bill was ready to do whatever they
wished.  He would serve his country afloat, and do his best to become an
admiral, or he would sell apples all his life.

Nothing, however, was settled; and Bill continued to mud-lark, catch
fish, run errands, look after boats, and hold gentlemen's horses, till
he was getting to be a big lad.

At length a heavy affliction and trial overtook Mrs Sunnyside--Bill's
mother.  The wherry, with his father and two of his brothers, went off
one November morning when it was blowing hard, with a passenger to a
ship lying at Spithead.  They put their fare all right on board,
received payment, and shoved off from the ship.  The gale increased, the
weather thickened; hour after hour passed away, and the expected ones
did not return to their home.  Three days afterwards, a pilot vessel
brought in an oar, and a board, with the rising sun painted on it.

The _Rising Sun_ was the name of Tom Sunnyside's boat.  Such was the
only clue to his fate.  Neither he, nor his boys, nor his boat, were
ever seen again.  The widow bowed her head, but she had no time to
indulge in grief, for she had still several younger children to support.

She sat at her stall, and did her best to sell her apples.  Bill exerted
himself more than ever.  His two elder brothers were, as has been said,
on board men-of-war.  The next two surviving children were girls, and
could do little to help themselves or their mother.  And now, for the
first time, the family began to feel what it was to be hungry, and to
have no food to put into their mouths.  Bill was up early and late, and
was always so hard at work that he declared he had no time to be hungry.
The truth is, he might always have had plenty of food for himself, but
that he thought fit to share every farthing of his gains among his
brothers and sisters.

One day he was holding a horse for an officer, who was, he saw by his
uniform, a commander in the navy, for Bill could distinguish the rank of
naval officers by the gold lace on their coats, and knew at a glance a
post captain from a commander, and a commander from a lieutenant, and so
on.  He especially liked the look of the officer whose horse he was
holding; and while he walked it up and down as he had been directed, he
thought to himself--

"If I was to go to sea now I should not only get a rig out, but have
enough to eat, and be able to send home my pay to mother as soon as I
get any."

He had just before been taking a survey of his clothes, which, in spite
of all sorts of contrivances, he had no small difficulty in keeping
about him.  He wished to look tolerably decent, though he had
considerable misgivings on that score.  He felt very thin, and not so
strong as he used to be, which is not surprising, considering the small
amount of sustenance he took.  The little ones at home were certainly
fatter than he was.

When the officer came out of the house he cast a kind look at Bill, who,
as was his custom to his superiors, pulled off his battered hat to him.

"I should like to know something about you, my lad," said the officer,
as he mounted his horse, in a tone which was as kind as were his looks.

"Yes, sir," answered Bill, pulling a lock of his long, shaggy hair; "I
be called Bill Sunnyside, and mother sells apples out at the corner of
High Street, there."

"A succinct account of yourself, my lad," said the officer.

"It be true though, sir," said Bill, not understanding what succinct
meant.  "And, sir, I'd like to go to sea with you."

"Oh!  Would you?" said the officer, smiling.  "But how do you know that
I command a ship?"

"Because you would not otherwise be in uniform," answered Bill,
promptly.

"Ay, I see you have your wits about you," remarked the officer.

"It's as well I should, for they be the only things I have got except
these duds," answered Bill, giving way to a propensity for humour,
which, unknown to himself, he possessed, though he spoke with perfect
respect.

The officer laughed, and said--

"Where is your father, boy?"

"He and two brothers were drowned out at Spithead, last autumn,"
answered Bill.

"Ah!  I will have a talk with your mother, one of these days; I think I
know her.  Be a good boy meantime," said the officer, and he rode away
up the street.

Bill looked after him, thinking when "one of these days" would come, and
what would come out of the talk.

Several days passed by, and Bill heard nothing of the captain.  His
clothes became more and more tattered, and, though his mother mended
them at night, they were so rotten that they often got torn again the
next day.  Winter came.  Times were indeed hard with him.  He grew
thinner and thinner.  Still, whenever he got a penny, he shared it with
those he loved at home.  "Never say die," was his motto; "it is a long
lane which has no turning," and "a dull day when the sun does not shine
out before the evening."  With such expressions he used to cheer and
comfort his mother, though, in spite of all trials, she was not often
disposed to be more cast down than he was.

"Don't give way, mother," Bill used to say, when, on coming home in the
evening, she looked sadder than usual.  "Just remember what the parson
said: `The sun is shining up above the clouds every day in the year, and
he is sure to break through them and shine upon us some time or other;
and God is looking down at all times through them, let them be ever so
thick, and never forgets us.'"

Still Bill could not help wishing that the kind captain had remembered,
as he said he would, and made that some day or other arrive rather more
quickly than there appeared a likelihood of its doing.



CHAPTER TWO.

There was not, I repeat, a more cheery, kind-hearted little woman in all
Portsmouth, in spite of her large family, in spite of the loss of her
husband, in spite of her poverty, than was Mrs Sunnyside; and this was
just because God had given her a kind, happy heart, and she trusted in
God, and knew that He loved her, and would not fail in any one of His
promises.  Had she not done that, she would soon have broken down.

"Well, Mrs Sunnyside, and how goes the world with you; and how is
Bill?" said a gentleman, one day, coming up to the stall, where she sat
knitting assiduously.

"Bill is at work, as he always is, and God has given health to those of
my children who are spared, sir," said the widow, continuing her
knitting, and only just glancing up at the gentleman's face.  She then
added, "I beg your pardon, sir, maybe I ought to know you, but you will
excuse me when I say I don't."

"Very likely not," answered the gentleman, "yet I rather think I was a
frequent customer of yours in former days, when I wore a midshipman's
uniform.  My business, however, is with your son Bill.  He is my
acquaintance.  Tell me, Mrs Sunnyside, would you wish your boy to go to
sea on board a man-of-war, with a captain who would keep an eye upon
him, and give him a helping hand, if he proved himself worthy of it?"

Mrs Sunnyside did not answer at once.  She went on knitting very
slowly, though.

"Oh, sir!  It would be a sore trial to part from Bill.  He is the
bright, cheering light of our little home.  Yet the lad is fit for more
than he is now doing; and I would be thankful, very thankful, if I
thought he was with a kind, just captain, who would do as you say; but I
would rather let Bill answer for himself."

"Well, Mrs Sunnyside, the truth is, I have asked Bill, and he told me
that he should like to go to sea.  He thinks he can help you better than
by remaining at home.  I must not, however, praise myself too much.  I
am Captain Trevelyan.  I command the _Lilly_ sloop-of-war; and if Bill
still wishes, as he did the other day, to go to sea, I will take him,
and honestly look after him, and forward his true interests as far as
justice to others will allow."

"Thank you, sir, thank you!" exclaimed Mrs Sunnyside.  "If Bill wants
to go, I will not say him nay; for I am sure you will do what you say,
and a mother's prayers will be offered up for you and him every morning
and night of my life.  You see, sir, when I sit out here, I can often be
thinking of you; and if anything does happen to you or Bill, I am sure
it won't be for want of praying, nor for want of God's love; but just
because He sees it's best."

"Have you taught Bill to hold these sentiments?" asked the gentleman.

"Well, sir, I know he thinks and does just as I think and do."

"Then, Mrs Sunnyside, I shall be very glad to have him with me.  He
will be one on whom I can depend on a pinch, and I shall like to think,
when I am far away, that you are remembering me and him in your prayers,
while you sit out here selling your apples.  And here, Mrs Sunnyside,
Bill's outfit, I know, is not very first-rate; take these three guineas,
and spend them as you think best.  You know as well as I do what he
wants.  And here is ten shillings in addition, just to put a little
lining into Bill's and his brothers' and sisters' insides.  A good meal
or two will cheer you all up, and make things look brighter when Bill is
going away.  No thanks now; we understand each other, Mrs Sunnyside.
When Bill is ready, he can come on board the _Lilly_--to-morrow, or next
day; and ask for Mr Barker, the first lieutenant, to whom he can
present this card.  Now good-bye, Mrs Sunnyside, and I hope, when the
ship is paid off three or four years hence, you will see Bill grown into
a fine, big, strapping young seaman."

Saying this, Captain Trevelyan hurried away down the street.

"God bless you, sir!  God bless you!" exclaimed Mrs Sunnyside, almost
bursting into tears, for her feelings of gratitude overcame her.

That afternoon she had a wonderfully brisk sale for her apples, and was
able to leave her post at an earlier hour than usual.  She almost ran,
in her eagerness to get home.  Bill was out, but she hurried forth again
to a slop-shop with which she was well acquainted.  The shopmaster knew
her.  She felt sure he would treat her fairly, when she told him the
state of the case.  She knew Bill's height and width to the eighth of an
inch.  The great object was to get the things big enough.  With a big
bundle under her arm, she trudged home again, full of joy one moment at
the thoughts of how happy his good luck would make him, and then ready
to cry when she remembered that he would have to go away from her, and
that for three, perhaps four years, or even more, she might not again
see his bright, ruddy, smiling face; for, somehow or other, it was ruddy
even when he was hungry.

"Who are all those things for, mother?" exclaimed Bill, with a look of
surprise, as he came into the room and saw them hung up on the chairs
and foot of the bed.

Mrs Sunnyside told him.  At first, he could not speak.  He used to long
very much to go to sea; but now the reality had come suddenly upon him.
When his brothers and sisters came in, they insisted on his putting on
his new clothes.  The bustle and talking revived him somewhat.

"I must go and have a wash first.  I am not fit for these things," he
answered, looking at his dirty clothes and hands; and out he rushed to
the pump in the back yard, where he was wont to perform his ablutions.
He returned for a piece of soap, however.

"I am going to do it right well," he said, "while I am about it."

He came back in about ten minutes, looking thoroughly fresh and clean.
In the meantime, his mother and sister had laid the table for supper.
It was not a very grand one, but more than usually abundant.  There were
hot sausages and toast, and maybe butter, or what did duty for butter,
for it was very, very white, and tea, and some milk in a cream-jug.

"Well, I do feel as if I had been and done it right well!" exclaimed
Bill, as he stood in a blue check shirt which his mother had sent out to
him to put on after he had washed.

"Now, Bill, do try this on," she said, handing him a pair of trousers.
They fitted nicely round the waist; no braces were needed.  Then she
made him put his arms into the jacket, and fasten a black silk
handkerchief round his neck with a sailor's knot.  And then his sister
came behind, and clapped on a broad-brimmed, low-crowned hat, with a
long ribbon round it, hanging down on one side.

"There!  There!  How well he does look!"

"Bill, you do, darling!" exclaimed his mother.  "Every inch a sailor.
Bless you, Bill!"  His brothers and sisters made some of these remarks,
and many others; and came round, taking him by the hand, or patting him
on the back, and Bill stood by smiling and well pleased.  He had never
in his life been so nicely dressed.  Then they brought him a pair of low
shoes.  He thought them rather incumbrances, but he put them on for the
honour of the thing; and they had broad ribbon bows in front, and did
look very natty, to be sure.

In their eagerness they almost forgot the sausages, which were somewhat
overdone--burnt all on one side; but that did not matter much, and at
length they all sat down, and while they were laughing and talking, the
sausages hissed and spluttered in return, as much as to say, "We are all
ready; we wish you would eat us.  You look so merry and happy, and
perhaps we shall be merry and happy too."

Bill at first could not eat much for thinking that at last he was going
on board a man-of-war.  No more could his mother, but when the rest
began to eat away, he followed their example; and his mother at last
managed to get down the remaining sausage, which all her children
insisted she should have, Susan giving it a fresh heating up before the
fire, for they had a good fire that day.  Many a winter's evening they
had had to go without it, for want of something to burn.  At last there
was not as much left as a piece of grease in the dish, nor a piece of
bread on the platter, and all the tea was drained to the last drop; and
then Bill stood up and thanked God for their good supper.

"And it was a good one!" cried out little Tommy.  "A right good one.
And, Bill, I hope you may get many such aboard ship."

"Maybe," said Bill, "but they will not be like this, for there will be
none of you there; and after all it's not the grub, but it's them that
eats it with us that makes it pleasant."

Bill might have said more but he did not; for a good reason--he could
not just then trust his voice; so he jumped up and began to dance a
hornpipe, though he was not very perfect in the art of dancing.

"Never mind," he said, "I will learn something more about that too, when
I get to sea."

Bill was up betimes, dressed in his new suit.  "Mother, I would like to
carry your basket for you," he said.  "Maybe it's the last day I shall
be able to do it."

"No, no, Bill," she said; "I am not going out this morning, till you are
away.  We will go down to the Point, and learn when the _Lilly_ is going
out of harbour.  It is better to go on board now than to wait till she
gets out to Spithead."

It was a hard matter for Bill to wish all his brothers and sisters
good-bye, and harder still to part from his mother, but he did it in a
brave, hearty way.  Old Joe Simmons, who had known him all his life, and
known his mother too, for that matter, since she was born, insisted on
taking him off.

"The _Lilly_ will be going out of harbour to-day, or to-morrow at
farthest, and the sooner you are aboard, my boy, the better," said old
Joe, taking Bill's bundle from Mrs Sunnyside.  "Come along with me.
And now, Mrs Sunnyside, do you go back, there's a good woman, now.
I'll look after your boy, and see him all right aboard.  I know three or
four of her crew who shipped from here, and I will speak to one or two
of them, and they will put Bill up to what he ought to do, so that he
won't seem like a green-horn when they get to sea.  There's the captain
of the maintop, Jack Windy, son of an old shipmate of mine, and he will
stand Bill's friend, if I ask him.  And there's little Tommy Rebow, who
has been to sea for a year or more; and I'll just tell him I will break
every bone in his body if he don't behave right to Bill.  So, you see,
he will have no lack of friends, Mrs Sunnyside.  There now, good-bye,
good-bye!  Bless you, missus!  Bless you!  Don't fret, now; Bill will be
all right."

These words the old man uttered, as he pushed his wherry from the beach,
and pulled up the harbour towards a fine corvette which lay at anchor
off Gosport.



CHAPTER THREE.

The _Lilly_ was a fine, rakish-looking corvette, with a crew of one
hundred and twenty, officers and seamen, as Joe Simmons informed Bill.

The old man went up the side with him.

"There's the first lieutenant," he said.  "You just go up and tell him
you have come aboard.  It will be all right.  Although he looks very
grand, he is all right at bottom; and I have heard more than one thing
in his favour.  He won't eat you; so don't be afear'd, Bill."

Bill did as he was advised, and presented the captain's card.  Mr
Barker glanced at it.

"Oh!  You are Bill Sunnyside.  We will enter you.  Master-at-arms, see
to this boy."

"It's all right, boy, you can go forward!"

Bill, thus dismissed, gladly rejoined his old friend, thankful that the
dreaded interview was over.  He would not have minded it if the captain
had been aboard, for he had taken a great fancy to him, and felt ready
to go through fire and water to serve him.

Old Joe introduced him, as he had promised, to a fine, active-looking
seaman who had just come from aloft, with hands well tarred, and a big
clasp knife hung by a rope round his neck.  Jack Windy was every inch a
sailor.

"Oh, ay, Joe!  No fear; we'll look after the lad," he said, giving an
approving glance at Bill.  "We will make a prime seaman of him, never
you fear.  And here, Tommy Rebow, you just come here, boy.  You show
Bill here what he will have to do, and what he must not do; and none of
your jackanape tricks--mind that."

Thus Bill had not been many minutes on board before he found himself
with several acquaintances.  Old Joe, satisfied that all was right,
wished him good-bye.

"There, Bill," he said, taking him by the hand, "just do you go on doing
what you have been, and there's One who will look after you, and knows
better how to do so than I could, or your own father, if he was alive,
or the captain himself; and when I say my prayers--and I do say them,
and so must you, Bill--I will put in a word about you; and I am sure
your mother will, and your brothers and sisters as is big enough; and
you see, Bill, you have every reason to go away contented and happy.
Now good-bye, lad, God bless you!"

And again old Joe wrung Sunshine Bill's hand, and went down the side of
the ship into his wherry.

"Now, do you mind, Bill," he shouted, as, taking his seat, he seized the
sculls and sprung them briskly into the water.  Once more he stopped,
and, resting his oars for a moment, waved another farewell with his
right hand.

The men had just been piped to breakfast when Bill went on board, and
the ship was comparatively quiet.  In a short time, however, all was
bustle and seeming confusion.  The officers were shouting, the boatswain
was piping, and the men hurrying here and there along the decks or up
the rigging; some bending sails, others hoisting in stores, or coming
off, or going away in boats.  Bill had often been on board ship, so it
was not so strange to him as it would have been to many boys.  Yet he
had never before formed one of a ship's company, and he could not help
feeling that he might at any moment be called upon to perform some duty
or other with which he was totally unacquainted.

"Never you fear, Bill," said Tommy Rebow, who observed his anxiety.  "I
will put you up to anything you want to know.  Just you stick by me."

Presently a quartermaster ordered Tommy to lay hold of a rope and haul
away; and Bill ran and helped him, and quickly got the rope taut, when
an officer sung out, "Belay," and Tommy made the rope fast.  This was
the first duty Bill ever performed in the service of his country.

After this, whenever there was any pulling or hauling, Bill ran and
helped, unless ordered elsewhere.  Though he could not always remember
the names of the ropes, still he felt that he was making himself useful.

Amidst the bustle, he at length heard the first lieutenant sing out,
"Man the sides."  The boatswain's whistle sounded.  The sideboys stood
with the white man-ropes in their hands, the officers collected on
either side of the gangway.  The marines hurried from below with their
muskets, and stood, drawn up in martial array; and presently Bill saw a
boat come alongside, and an officer in full uniform, whom he at once
recognised as Captain Trevelyan, stepped upon deck.  Saluting the
officers by lifting his hat, he spoke a few kind, good-natured words to
them, and then gave a scrutinising glance along the decks, turning his
eyes aloft.

"You have made good progress, Mr Barker.  I hope we shall go out to
Spithead to-morrow," he observed.  "How many hands do you still want?"
he asked.

"We have our complement complete, sir," was the answer.

"Has that boy I spoke to you about come on board--Sunnyside?"

"Yes, sir; he came on board this morning.  He is a sharp lad, and will
make a good seaman."

Bill would have been proud, had he known that he was the subject of
conversation between the captain and first lieutenant.

The next morning the _Lilly_ cast off from the buoy to which she was
moored, and, making sail, ran out to Spithead, where she again anchored.
Bill thought he should now be fairly off to sea, but she had another
week to remain there.  There was the powder to take on board, and more
provisions; then there were despatches from the Admiralty.  At length
Blue Peter was hoisted.  All boats were ordered away from the ship's
side.  Once more sail was made, and with the wind from the north-east
the _Lilly_ glided down the calm waters of the Solent.

Bill was soon perfectly at home among his new shipmates.  He had never
been so well fed in his life--plenty of good boiled beef and potatoes,
and sweet biscuit.

"I have often wished to come to sea, and I am very glad I have come," he
said, as he was seated at mess.  "I did not think they fed us so well."

"Just you wait till we have been a few months in blue water, youngster,"
observed Sam Grimshaw--"old Grim," as his shipmates called him--"when we
get down to the salted cow and pickled horse, and pork which is all
gristle and bone.  You will then sing a different tune, I have a
notion."

Old Grim was noted for grumbling.  He grumbled at everything; and as to
pleasing him, that was out of the question.

"Well," answered Bill, "all I can say is, I am thankful for the good
things now I've got them; and when the bad come, it will be time enough
to cry out.  I used to think, too, when once a ship got into the Channel
clear away from the land, there would be nothing but tumbling and
tossing about; and here we are running on as smoothly as we might up
Portsmouth Harbour.  Now, I am thankful for that."

"Well, so it's as well to be, my lad, for before many days are over we
may be tumbling about in a heavy gale under close-reefed topsails, and
then you will sing another tune to what you are doing now."

"I shall be singing that I know the bad weather won't last for ever, and
that I have no doubt the sun will shine out," answered Bill.

"But maybe you will get washed overboard, or a loose block will give you
a knock on the head and finish you, or some other mishap will befall
you," growled out old Grim.

"As to that," answered Bill, "I am ready for the rough and smooth of
life, and for the ups and downs.  As I hope to have some of the ups, I
must make up my mind to be content with a few of the downs."

"Well, well!  There's no making you unhappy," growled out old Grim.
"Now, you don't mean to say this duff is fit food for Christians," he
exclaimed, sticking his fork into a somewhat hard piece of pudding.

"It's fit for hungry boys at sea," answered Bill; "and I only wish that
my brothers and sisters had as good beef and pork for dinner, not to
speak of peas-pudding and duff, as we have got every day.  I should like
to send them some of mine, and yours too, if you do not eat it."

"Well, as we cannot live on nothing, I am obliged to eat it, good or
bad," answered old Grim; "and as to giving you some of mine, why, I
don't see that there's overmuch I get for myself."

"I did not ask it for myself, and I am glad to see you do not find it
too bad to eat after all," said Bill, observing that old Grim cleared
his plate of every particle of food it contained.

Tommy Rebow used to amuse himself by trying to tease Grimshaw, not that
he would stand much from him, or from anybody else; and often Tommy had
to make a quick jump of it to get out of his way.  Still he would return
to the charge till Grim got fearfully vexed with him.  Bill himself
never teased old Grim or anybody else.  It was not his nature.  He could
laugh with them as much as they might please, but he never could laugh
at them, or jeer them.  Old Grim really liked Bill, though he took an
odd way of showing it sometimes.  Bill, indeed, soon became a favourite
on board, just because he was so good-natured and happy, and was ready
to oblige any one.

Captain Trevelyan did not forget his promise to Bill's mother; and
though of course he did not say much to the lad, it was very evident
that he had his eye on him, as he had indeed, more or less, on everybody
on board.  He took care that Bill should learn his duties.  There were
several young gentlemen on board in the midshipman's berth; and the
captain had for their use a model built of the ship's masts and rigging.
He used to have them up every morning in fine weather, and make them
learn all the names and uses of the ropes.  Then he would make them put
the ship about, or wear ship, or heave her to.  Then he would have the
yards braced up, then squared, then braced up on the other tack, and so
forth.  The ship's boys were made to stand by, to watch these
proceedings, and then they were called up to go through the manoeuvres
themselves, the boatswain, or one of the masters, giving them lessons.
Bill was very quick in learning, and so, before they got half way across
the Atlantic, he knew how to put the ship about almost as well as any
body on board.  He soon, indeed, caught Tommy Rebow up, and as they were
both well-grown lads, they were placed in the mizzen-top.  Both of them
soon learned to lay out on the yards, and to reef and furl the
mizzen-topsail as well as anybody.

"Come, Bill, I told Joe Simmons I would learn you all I know myself,"
said Jack Windy, "and now you are getting seamanship, it's time you
should be learning the hornpipe.  You have a good ear, because you can
sing well, as I have heard you; so you should learn to dance it, to
astonish the natives wherever we go."

Captain Trevelyan had secured a fiddler among his ship's company--a
negro of jet black hue, with a face all crumpled up in a most curious
fashion, with great white rolling eyeballs, and huge thick lips.  He was
not a beauty, and he did not think so himself; but he prided himself on
playing the fiddle, and well, too, he did play it.  His name was
Diogenes Snow; but he was called Dio, or Di sometimes, for shortness.
With his music, and under Jack Windy's instruction, Bill soon learned to
dance a hornpipe, so that few could surpass him.

"Dare, Bill; well done, Bill!" shouted Dio, as he scraped away with
might and main.  "Oh, golly!  Iolly!  Bill would beat Queen Charlotte,
if she tried to do it, dat he would.  Berry well, Bill.  Keep moving,
boy!  Dat's it!  One more turn!  Hurrah!  Hurrah!"



CHAPTER FOUR.

The _Lilly_ had been ordered to proceed direct to Jamaica.  She was
already in the latitude of the West Indies, and might expect to get into
Port Royal in the course of six or eight days.  Hitherto the weather had
been remarkably fine, though the wind had been generally light.  There
was now, however, a dead calm.  The dog-vanes hung up and down, the
sails every now and then giving sullen flaps against the masts, while
the ship rolled slowly--so slowly as scarcely to allow the movement to
be perceptible--from side to side.  The ocean was as smooth as the
smoothest mirror, not a ripple, not the slightest cat's-paw being
perceptible on it.  Instead, however, of its usual green colour, it had
become of a dead leaden hue, the whole arch of heaven being also spread
with a dark grey canopy of a muddy tint.  Yet, though the sun was not
seen, the heat, as the day drew on, became intense.  Dio was the only
person on board who did not seem to feel it, but went about his duties
as cook's mate with as much zeal and alacrity as ever, scrubbing away at
pots and pans, scraping potatoes, and singing snatches of odd nigger
songs.  His monkey Queerface, brought from his last ship, just paid off
on her return from the West Indies, was skipping about the fore-rigging,
now hanging by his tail swinging to and fro, now descending with the
purpose of attempting to carry off one of the boy's hats, then failing,
scudding hand over hand up the rigging again like lightning, chattering
and spluttering as he watched the rope's end lifted threateningly
towards him, or dodging the bit of biscuit or rotten potato thrown at
his head.  The watch on deck were hanging listlessly about, finding even
their usual employment irksome.  A few old hands might have been seen
making a grummit or pointing a rope, while the sailmaker and his crew
were at work on a suite of boat-sails; here and there also a marine
might have been seen cleaning his musket, but finding the barrel rather
hotter to touch than was pleasant.  In truth, everywhere it was hot:
below, hotter still.  Though the sun was not shining, there was no
shade; and discontented spirits kept moving about, in vain trying to
find a cooler spot than the one they had left.  Old Grim did nothing but
growl.

"If it's hot out here, what will it be when we gets ashore?" he growled
out.  "Why, we shall be regularly roasted or baked, and the cannibals
won't have any trouble in cooking us.  But to my mind (and I have always
said it) a sailor is the most unfortunate chap alive, one day dried up
in these burning latitudes, and then sent to cool his nose up among the
icebergs.  It's all very well for Dio there.  It's his nature to like
heat.  For us poor white-skinned chaps, it's nothing but downright
cruelty."

"But I suppose that it won't be always like this," said Bill.  "We shall
have the sun shine, and a breeze, one of these days, and go along
merrily through the water.  There's no place, that I ever heard tell of,
where the sun does not shine, and though we don't see him, he is shining
as bright as ever up above the clouds, even now.  He has only got to
open a way for himself through them, and we shall soon see him again."

"As to the sun shining always, you are wrong there, young chap," growled
out old Grim.  "Up at the North Pole there, there's a night of I don't
know how many months, when you don't see him at all."

"You are wrong there, Grim," cried out Jack Windy.  "I once shipped
aboard a whaler, and we were shut up all the winter in the ice, and
during the time we every day caught a sight of the red head of the old
sun, just popping up above the horizon to the southward, and a comfort
that was, I can tell you, particularly when we saw him getting higher
and higher, and knew that summer was coming back again, and that we
should have the ice breaking away, and get set free once more."

"Yes, yes!" exclaimed Bill, exultingly, "I am sure the sun shines
everywhere, and though you might have got a long night in winter, you
got a longer day in summer, I'll warrant."

"You are right there, boy," said Jack Windy.  "For days together, in the
north there, the sun never sets, and so, as you say, we have a very long
day."

"I thought so!" exclaimed Bill, quite delighted.  "Whatever else
happens, God takes care to give us a right share of sunshine, and more
than a right share too, if we reckon upon what we deserve."

A portion of the crew were below, but one after the other they came up,
complaining that the between-decks was more like a stew-pan or hothouse
than any place they had ever before been in.  The officers also made
their appearance on deck; but though they began to walk up and down as
usual, one after the other they stopped and leant against the bulwarks
or a gun-carriage, turning their faces round as if to catch a breath of
air.  The dog-vanes, however, hung down as listlessly as ever.

"Not an air in the heavens, sir," observed Mr Truck, the master, as
Captain Trevelyan came on deck.  "I cannot make anything of the
weather."

"But I can," exclaimed the captain, taking a hurried glance to the
westward.  "What is that, do you think?"

He pointed to what seemed a long bank of driven snow rising out of the
horizon.  It extended nearly half-way round the horizon, every instant
getting higher and higher.

"All hands shorten sail!" shouted the captain.  "Up aloft, there!  Lay
out, haul down!"

The words produced a magical effect.  In a minute, the listless crew
were all activity and life.  Up the rigging they swarmed like bees, some
throwing themselves into the tops, others ascending the topgallant
yards, and running out to either yard-arm, till every part of the ship
swarmed with life, those on deck pulling and hauling with might and
main, the officers assisting, every idler putting a hand to a rope.  The
topsails were quickly clewed up and furled, the other sails were handed,
but scarcely were the men off the yards, than the high bank of foam
approached the ship.  There was a loud rushing, roaring noise.

"Down for your lives!" shouted the captain.

"Down for your lives, my lads," repeated the lieutenants; and though the
helm was put up, and the fore-topmast staysail hoisted, the wind,
striking the tall ship, drove her down before it.  Over she heeled.
Down, down she went.  It seemed as if she was never to rise again.  The
bravest held their breath.  Many a cheek turned pale with fear.  The
captain waved his hand to the carpenter and his mates.

"Axes!" he shouted.  They knew what that meant.

"I knew it would be so," growled old Grim who was standing near Bill,
holding on to the weather bulwarks.  "First a calm, to dry the sap out
of a fellow's bones, and then a gale, to blow his teeth down his
throat."

"But there may be a calm again or a fair breeze, and the sun will shine
out bright and clear," answered Bill, who, however, felt more inclined
to think that his last day had come, than he had ever been before.  As
he looked out, there was the sea, hitherto so smooth, now leaping and
raging, and covered with seething foam, the spoon-drift flying in vast
sheets of white, from top to top of its broken summits, while huge
watery mountains seemed about to burst over the deck.  Still, he knew
very well that sailors had to expect rough seas as well as smooth, and
that many a ship had been in a worse predicament and had escaped.  As
the captain cried out "axes," the carpenter and his men sprang aft, with
their shining weapons in their hands.  Just then the ship gave a bound,
it seemed like a race-horse darting forward.  Up she rose, her head
springing round, and feeling the power of the helm, away she flew before
the hurricane.

"Square away the fore-yards!" shouted the captain (the after-yards had
already been squared).  The ship's company saw that the immediate danger
was passed, and once more, fore and aft, all hands breathed freely.

"The sun will soon be shining out!" exclaimed Bill cheerily, within old
Grim's hearing.

"Don't be too sure of that, boy," growled out the latter.  "We shall be
broaching to, maybe, before long, and be in a worse case than we were
just now.  I have heard of a ship doing that, running under bare poles,
and getting every soul of her crew washed off her deck, except three--
the black cook, the caulker's mate, and the captain's steward--and a
pretty job they had to find their way into port, seeing that neither of
them knew anything of navigation, or seamanship either, for that matter;
and I should like to know whose case you would be in, Sunshine Bill, if
you were left with Dio and Ned Farring, aboard this craft?"

"All I can say is, I hope we should do our best, and trust to
Providence," answered Bill.  "I have never heard that a man can do more
than that, and that's what I hope I shall always do, as long as I have
life."

On went the _Lilly_ before the still increasing hurricane.  The
topgallant masts were struck, and topmasts housed, the yards secured by
rolling tackles, and the ship made as snug as she could be.  This was
done not a bit too soon, for it was evident that she was about to
encounter one of the fiercest of West Indian hurricanes, such as have
sent many a stout ship to the bottom.



CHAPTER FIVE.

The wind howled, and shrieked, and whistled in the rigging, the seas
roared and dashed against the sides of the corvette, as under bare poles
she rushed on amidst them.  Now she rose to the summit of a dark green
mountainous billow, with its crest all leaping, foaming, and hissing;
then she glided rapidly down its side, as if it had been an
ice-mountain, into the dark valley below, again to rise up more slowly
to the top of another sea, suddenly to find herself once more in the
deep trough, with a huge curling wave reaching almost to her tops,
threatening to break over her.  Two of the quartermasters were at the
helm.  The officers were all on deck, the crew at their stations.  No
one could tell what might next happen.

"If the wind holds as it does now, we shall be all right," observed Mr
Truck, the master, "but if it shifts, we may find ourselves running in
among some ugly navigation, and our best chance is to scud as we are
doing."

"Hurricanes always do shift," observed Captain Trevelyan: "but we must
hope for the best.  The wind may hold in its present quarter for some
time to come."

"Well, Bill, what do you think of this here breeze?" asked Tommy Rebow.
"I was telling you it blew pretty stiffish out in these parts."

"Why, that if I had my choice, I would rather it did not blow so hard;
but then do you see, Tommy, we have not got our choice, and it's for us
to take the weather as we find it.  I am very sure that God has got His
reasons for sending this hurricane,--though maybe we don't see them,--
and so it's our business to make the best of it."

"Maybe," put in old Grim; "but I have a notion you won't be so content
as you are now, when it comes on to blow ten times harder.  I tell you I
am expecting every moment to see the ship come right up, with one of
those seas breaking clean over her, and then there will be `cut away the
masts' in earnest, if there's time for it, and if not, we shall all go
to the bottom together."

Jack Windy and two or three other men who heard old Grim growling out
these remarks, burst into a loud laugh.  "Why, any one would suppose you
had taken a double dose of growling-powder, old Grim," exclaimed Jack.
"Do you want to frighten these young chaps, or not?  If you do, maybe
they will be taking a turn out of you one of these days.  Of course it
may blow, and a good deal harder than it does now; but the _Lilly_ is
not a craft to mind a cap full of wind, more or less, and she will
weather a worse gale than this, I have a notion."

Night was coming on.  The hurricane raged as fiercely as ever; the light
grew greyer and greyer, till, by degrees, a black darkness settled down
over the ocean.  Still the seas rose up more wild and fierce-looking
every instant, and the ship rushed on, seemingly into space.  Sharp eyes
only could see beyond the jib-boom, yet there were some who could have
pierced even that thick darkness, if there had been anything to see
besides the tossing seas.  They, however, only appeared leaping up ahead
and round the ship, as if each one was eager to get hold of her, and
carry her down to the depths of old ocean.  On, on she flew.  The
captain and master frequently cast anxious looks at the compass in the
binnacle, while the second lieutenant with the boatswain went forward
and stood on the forecastle, peering with all their might and main into
the darkness ahead.  Not a few other eyes were trying to look out ahead
also; but it seemed as if all the eyes and all the looking would do
little to discover any object, till the ship was too close to avoid it.
The seconds appeared like minutes, the minutes hours, as thus the
corvette rushed on.  Not a man spoke.  In truth, speaking, except at the
top of the voice, was of little use, the howling of the wind and the
roaring of the sea drowning all other sounds.

At length, however, there came a cry from forward, such as a seaman
alone could give.  "Breakers!  Breakers!  On the starboard bow!"  It
reached right aft, sounding high above the hurricane.

"Starboard the helm!" cried the captain.

There were few on board who did not hold their breath, till they were
obliged to gasp for more.  It seemed as if the last moments of the ship
and all on board were approaching.  Yet there was no sign of terror; not
a man quitted his station.  The captain sprang into the starboard
rigging and looked anxiously out on that side.  His eye distinguished
breakers, and his ear the increased roaring of the seas, as they dashed
against the rocky impediment to their course.  Would the ship weather
the reef, and if she did, were there more reefs ahead?  On she flew; but
the compass showed that she had come up a little to the wind: still
there was now the danger, as her bows met the seas, of their breaking on
board.

"Hold on!  Hold on for your lives!" shouted the second lieutenant, as he
and the boatswain, clinging desperately to the fore-stay, saw a huge sea
about to break over the ship's bows.  On it came.  It was upon them, and
over them it burst, deluging the deck, and almost tearing them from
their hold.  The crew clung to whatever they could grasp.  On rolled the
sea across the deck, with difficulty finding its way through the
scuppers, the greater bulk at length breaking open a port, and thus
getting free, a considerable quantity of water, however, finding its way
down below.

"If another sea like that comes aboard us, we shall be sent to the
bottom!" exclaimed old Grim, shaking himself from the water, which had
covered him from head to foot.  "It's lucky you boys have got paws to
hold on by, like Master Queerface there, or you would have broken
biscuit for the last time."

Neither Bill nor Tommy made any answer.  Tommy, in fact, was more
frightened than he had ever before been in his life, and Bill could not
help feeling that the ship was in no small danger.  Still he thought to
himself,--"There's One looking after us who can help us better than we
can ourselves, and so why should I cry out till I have got something to
cry for?"

Many on board who saw the breakers, expected every instant to hear the
fearful crash of the ship driving on the pointed rocks, to see the masts
falling, and the seas come leaping triumphantly over the shattered
wreck; but it was not to be so.

The first danger was passed, and no other sign of breakers was
perceived.  The master had gone below to examine the chart.

"We may keep her before the wind again," he said.  "All is clear ahead,
for if any of those ugly seas were to break on board, it might play
havoc with the barky."

The longest night has an end.  In the middle of the watch, the hurricane
began to abate, and though the seas tumbled and rolled, and leaped and
roared, with almost unabated fury, it was evident that there was much
less wind.  At length the fore-topsail was set, closely reefed, and the
ship ran bounding on from sea to sea, as if escaping from the huge
billows which came roaring up astern.  Next the foresail was set.
Another sail succeeded, till once more, under her usual sail, in spite
of the heavy sea still running, the ship was hauled up on her course, a
long way out of which she had for some time been running.  The sun shone
forth, casting his beams on the white crests of the seas, making them
glitter and shine like frosted silver.

"Well, Grimshaw," said Bill, addressing old Grim, "the sun has come out,
as I said he would, and the hurricane has had its blow, and we shall
have fine weather again presently."

"Don't you be boasting too much about that, youngster," answered old
Grim.  "You don't know what is going to happen next, and you will be
laughing on the wrong side of your mouth before long, so look out for
squalls, boy."

No one minded what old Grim said, so these remarks made but little
impression on Bill, and he went about his duties with as much briskness
as ever.  Bill was a favourite on board; no doubt about that, both among
officers and men.  The lieutenants had applied to have him appointed as
one of the boys in the gun-room.  It would give him more work; but Bill
was ready for that at all times.

The sun had set.  It was rapidly growing dark, when the watch on deck
were ordered to take a reef out of each of the topsails.  Bill and Tommy
Rebow sprang up the mizen rigging, as they were both in the mizen-top,
and were soon lying out on the mizen-topsail yard.  They were both in
high spirits, feeling up to anything at the moment.  One of the older
topmen was in the lee-earing.  Bill was next to him.  Tommy came next.
Suddenly the ship gave a tremendous lurch.  There was a cry.

"Where's Bill?" exclaimed Tommy, a horror coming over his heart.

"A man overboard!  A man overboard!" was shouted from the mizen-top.  It
was echoed from below.

At that instant the captain came on deck.  In falling, Bill had struck
the chain-span of the weather-quarter davits, breaking it as if it had
been packthread.  Mr Collinson, the second lieutenant, who had charge
of the deck, pointed it out to the captain.

"The poor fellow must have been killed, whoever he was."

"Who is it?" asked the captain.

"Sunshine Bill!" cried out a voice.

"Bill Sunnyside, sir," said another.

"Alas!" thought the captain, "the poor lad I promised his widowed mother
I would look after.  Does any one see him?" asked the captain.

"Yes, sir; there he is!  There he is!" answered several voices.

Bill was seen floating on the top of a foaming sea.  The life-buoy was
let go, its bright light bursting forth, and burning a welcome beacon,
it might be, to poor Bill.  He was known to be a good swimmer.  No boy
was equal to him on board.  The ship was flying away, however, at a
rapid rate from him.  Many declared that they saw him swimming, and that
therefore he could not have been killed, as had been supposed.  Captain
Trevelyan gazed for an instant at the spot where Bill had been seen.  He
was no longer, however, visible.  It was a moment to him of intense
anxiety.  To lower a boat in that foaming sea would in all probability
cause the loss of many more, and yet could he desert the poor lad?

Suddenly, with startling energy, he shouted out, "Wear ship!  Up with
the helm!  Square away the after-yards!"

The ship went on plunging into the heavy seas as she made a wide
circuit, the yards being again braced up on the other tack.



CHAPTER SIX.

The _Lilly_, brought to the wind, once more stood back along the course
on which she had just before been sailing.  She was then hove to.  By
the captain's calculations, she had reached the locality where Bill had
fallen overboard.  All hands were on deck and every eye strained,
endeavouring to pierce the thick gathering gloom in the direction where
it was supposed he might still be.

Friendly voices shouted out,--"Bill Sunnyside!  Sunshine Bill!  Answer,
lad!  Answer!"  Still no reply came.

"I knew it would be so," muttered old Grim.  "The lad was always
boasting of being in such good luck, or something of that sort.  And now
this is what his good luck has come to.  Well, well, his fate has been
that of many, so there's nothing strange in it."

With this philosophical remark old Grim walked forward; but still,
somehow or other, his heart felt sorry at losing the poor lad, and he
went and peered down to leeward and then looked to windward again, in
the hopes that his eyes, which were among the sharpest on board, might
catch a glimpse of the lad.  If he was clinging to the life-buoy he
might be all right, but where that was, was the question.  Minutes
passed away, and still no one could discover Bill.  The captain pulled
out his watch and went to the binnacle-lamp.

"Twenty minutes," he remarked to Mr Collinson.  "A strong man could
scarcely swim as long in such a sea as this."

"But he may have got hold of the buoy, sir," observed Mr Collinson.

"True!  If he has, I wish we could see him.  I do not like to give him
up."

Another five minutes passed.  Again the captain looked at his watch.
The time had appeared an age to him, as it had to most on board.  He
took another turn on deck, and then looked out once more.

"Does nobody see him?" he asked; and there was sorrow and regret in his
tone.

There was no answer.  The silence was very sad.  Once more he returned
to the lamp.

"Half an hour has passed," he observed to Mr Barker.  "I am afraid the
matter is hopeless."

"I am afraid so too," answered the lieutenant, who was a kind-hearted
man.

"It must be done!" he said.  "Hands, wear ship!" he shouted out, in a
startling voice, evidently giving the order with no good will.

The men were hurrying to their stations to obey it, when Grimshaw
shouted out:--

"I heard a voice.  It's Bill!  It's Bill!  Away to windward there!"

"Silence, fore and aft," cried the captain; and directly afterwards,
borne down by the gale, there came a loud, strange, wild cry.

"That's him!  There's no mistake about it," cried Grimshaw; "hurrah!"

The crew gave a shout in reply.

"It will keep up the poor fellow's spirits," observed the captain.
"Now, silence, men."  And now the awful thought crossed his mind, "Can I
allow a boat to be lowered in this broken, heavy sea, with the greatest
probability of her being capsized, and all hands in her lost?"  These
words were uttered partly aloud.

"I'll go in her, sir," said Mr Collinson.  "There will be no lack of
volunteers."

"Volunteers alone then must go," answered the captain.  "The risk is a
fearful one, yet I cannot allow the poor lad to perish."

Scarcely had Mr Collinson shouted out, "I am going, lads!  Volunteers
for the boat," than numbers of the crew came rushing aft, Jack Windy and
Grimshaw among them.

"I don't suppose we shall pick up the lad, after all," growled the
latter, "but we ought to try, I suppose."

As no man pulled a stouter oar than he did, Mr Collinson gladly
accepted him, as he did Windy.

Four other men were selected, and waiting for a favourable lull, the
boat was lowered.  The bowman, however, in shoving off, lost his
balance, and overboard he went.  Happily, the man next to him had just
time to seize him by the leg, and haul him in, though not without
difficulty his oar was saved.  Not without sad forebodings of the fate
of the boat's crew, did the captain see her leave the ship's side.

"No man can handle a boat better than Collinson," he observed to Mr
Barker, who was by his side, "that's one comfort."

Away the boat pulled amidst the foaming broken seas, and was soon lost
to sight in the thick gloom which had settled down over the ocean.

"I should be thankful to see something of them again," observed the
captain to Mr Barker.  "The boat has been a long time away.  How long
do you think?"

"I did not look at my watch when she was lowered," answered the first
lieutenant, "but it is some time; yet the sea is a dangerous one; but,
as you say, sir, Collinson is wonderful handy in a boat, and he and his
crew will do what men can do, there is no doubt about that."

Still the captain looked very anxious, so did others on board.  Even in
the attempt to pick up Bill, should he have floated so long, the boat
might be swamped.  It was the most critical time; for the helmsman
looking towards the man he wished to save, might watch with less care
the approach of a curling sea.  Had old Grim been on board he would have
been prognosticating dire disaster, but as he had gone away in the boat,
he knew better than anybody else on board, what had happened.  Many had
become very anxious.  Tommy Rebow, who was very fond of Bill, as well as
of Jack Windy, wrung his hands, almost bursting into tears, as, not
seeing them return, he began to fear that they both had been lost.

Meantime, where was Bill?  On falling from aloft, and striking the
chain-span, which, though it did not break his bones, broke his fall, he
bounded off into the foaming sea.  How he had not been killed he could
not tell, but one thing was certain, it was not his head that struck the
chain, but, as Jack Windy observed, it was the other end of his body.
The fact at all events was, that he reached the foaming raging water not
at all the worse for his fall.  Though he went under for a moment, he
soon rose with his head above the surface.  He turned himself round once
or twice to ascertain that all was right as far as his body was
concerned, and then quietly contented himself with keeping his head as
high above the foam as he well could.  He did not think about sharks, or
it might have made him still more uncomfortable.  As to swimming after
the ship, that he knew to be an impossibility.

"If I swim at all I shall only tire myself," he thought, so he just
threw himself on his back, and kept his eyes fixed on the ship, as she
flew away from him.

"It will be some time before she can be up to me again," he thought.
"Captain Trevelyan is not the man to desert one of his people, even a
little chap like me, and maybe he will remember what he said to my
mother.  If I keep my clothes on me, I shall not be able to float as
long as without them."

Thinking thus, for he did not utter the words aloud, he managed to kick
off one shoe, then the other.  He felt lighter without them.  The
trousers were next to be got rid of.  There was some risk in pulling
them off, lest he might get his feet entangled in them, but a sailor's
trousers are not very large.  So Bill managed to draw up one of his legs
and get hold of the foot of the trousers; then he slipped the other leg
quickly out, and off went his trousers after his shoes.  His shirt was
the next thing to be rid of, but there was a risk of the tails getting
over his head, so he rolled them up, and then getting one arm clear, in
a twinkling whisked it off, and there he was, floating out in the ocean,
with no more clothes on than when he was born; but he felt much lighter,
and when the seas came roaring round him he kept his head more easily
out of the curling foam.  While getting off his clothes, he saw the
life-buoy, with its bright light bursting forth, drop into the water,
but it was too far off for him to attempt to reach it in that troubled
sea.  Though, as has been said, he knew his captain too well to dread
that he would desert him, it was a sore trial of his faith to see the
ship sail on and on, till she vanished into gloom.  He had seen the ship
wore round several times on different occasions.  He knew that was the
way of getting her head in another direction, in such a sea as was now
running.

"The captain will not leave me; no, no fear of that," he thought, and
presently, once more, as if to reward his confidence, he saw the ship
appearing again through the gloom.  On she came, nearer and nearer.  He
longed to strike out towards her, but he felt that the attempt would be
useless, so he still lay floating with his hands moving, to prevent
being rolled over and over by the seas.  On she came, her dark masts and
sails seen clearly against the sky, but she seemed about to pass him at
a distance.  Then he saw her heave-to.  And now his heart beat
anxiously.  Would a boat be sent to pick him up?  He was still too far
away to give him a hope of reaching it by swimming.  He thought,
too,--"If I sing out I shall exhaust myself, and be unable to keep
afloat;" so he lay as before, hoping only as a person in his position
could hope, that a boat might be lowered.  Yet he had been long enough
at sea to know the danger of the operation.  He had heard of boats being
lowered in such a sea as was then running, and all hands being lost out
of them.  He waited and waited.  It seemed to him not as if one hour,
but hour after hour passed away, and there lay the ship, and yet no one
on board could see him, nor could he make himself heard, as he thought.

"They are looking for me, there's no doubt about that," he said to
himself; "but I wish they would send a boat."

If the water had been cold he could not have kept up, but it was just
pleasant, and he felt his strength in no way exhausted.  At length, amid
the hurly-burly and clashing of the sea round him, although the corvette
was a long way to leeward, he heard Captain Trevelyan's voice shouting
out, "Up with the helm!  Square away the after-yards!"

"Now," thought Bill, "I shall be left alone if I do not make myself
heard;" and as he rose to the summit of a sea, he shouted out with might
and main, "_Lilly_ ahoy!"

"Hold fast!" cried the captain.  "Down with the helm again!" and then
came a hearty cheer from the deck of the ship.

It convinced him that his voice had been heard, but now he had a long
long time to wait.  He was sure that a boat was being lowered, but
sometimes he pictured her to himself swamped alongside, and perhaps all
those coming to his rescue cast into the foaming sea.  Anxiously he
looked out for her.  How long it had seemed since he had shouted, and
yet no help had come to him.  His confidence in his captain, however,
was unabated.  He was sure that help would come, sooner or later.  All
he had to do was to float till then.  Fortunately, he did not think of
sharks, but still more fortunately, the sharks did not think of him.  At
length he saw a dark object between him and the ship.  Yes!  Yes!  It
was a boat!  Now it was hid from his sight.  Now he saw it again.

"_Lilly_ ahoy!" he shouted out again, but not so loud as before.

"Hurrah!" some voices cried in return;--"Cheer up, lad, cheer up; it's
all right!"

And then he saw without doubt a boat approaching, now making her way on
the summit of a foaming sea, now again sinking into the trough, and
being hid from his view.  Still on she came towards him.

"Cheer up, lad!" again shouted a voice.  It was that of old Grim.  He
was sure he knew it.

At length there was the boat quite close to him.  Eager hands were ready
to grasp him, but there was the danger of being struck by the bows of
the boat, or the oars.

He watched his opportunity, and singing out, "I'll make for the bow," he
struck forward.

Grimshaw's arms were extended towards him, and in another instant he
found himself grasped by those friendly hands, and hauled up into the
boat.

"Why, the lad's as slippery as an eel!" cried old Grim.  "Are you hurt,
Bill?"

"No, thank you," answered Bill.  "I'm hearty and strong, as if I had
only been taking a swim for pleasure."

"We must put you aft, though, and a jacket over you," said old Grim.

Fortunately, one of the men had one on.  It was off in a moment, and
wrapped round Bill, who was passed aft into the stern-sheets.

"Thank Heaven you are saved, boy.  The captain will be glad to hear it,"
said Mr Collinson, as he was putting the boat's head round.

And now once more she made for the ship.  Bill was quickly hauled up the
side.

"Gripe him hard!" sung out old Grim, "or he will slip through your
fists, lads; he's got such a lot of seaweed round him."

"Why, how is this?" exclaimed the captain, as he saw Bill's condition.

Bill told him.

"You did wisely, lad," he observed; "and now go below and turn into your
hammock, and I will send the doctor and a stiff glass of grog, if he
will let you have it."

In another minute Bill was between the blankets; but the doctor, after
feeling his pulse, pronounced him none the worse for his ducking.  The
grog came out hissing hot from the captain's cabin, but old Grim, who
was standing by the boy's hammock, declared it was somewhat too stiff
for a youngster, and helped him with half the contents; for which
kindness Bill was none the worse.

When Bill came on deck, the sun was shining brightly, the sea was blue
and smooth, and the ship was running to the west, with studding-sails
below and aloft.

"I told you so," said Bill to a remark of old Grim's.  "There's the sun
shining out as bright as ever, and, through the mercy of Him who looks
after us poor sailors, not one of us has lost the number of his mess."



CHAPTER SEVEN.

A blue canopy, undimmed by a single cloud, was spread over the bright,
sparkling ocean, in the midst of which the graceful corvette, her
snow-white canvas tapering upwards, glided towards the coast of Jamaica.
Ahead was seen, rising out of the green plain, range above range of
lofty blue mountains, appearing above the stratum of clouds which rolled
along their precipitous sides, their steep cliffs descending abruptly to
the ocean, while thick forests covered the more gentle slopes of the
hills.  In a short time, the white buildings of Port Royal were
distinguished at the end of a narrow sandy spit overgrown with
mangroves, well known as the Palisades.  At the farther end of the spit
was seen the white walls of Fort Morant, with a steep hill rising above
it.  Passing between the formidable ramparts of Fort Charles on one
side, thickly studded with heavy ordnance, and of Fort Augusta, with
Rock Fort above it, capable of sinking any fleet which might have
ventured to enter, the corvette ran on towards Kingston, where she
brought up at some distance from the town.

"Well, this is a beautiful country!" exclaimed Bill, as he surveyed the
scene in which he found himself.  "It beats Portsmouth Harbour hollow--
that it does, I'm sure."

"Just wait a bit till we have had yellow Jack aboard!" growled out old
Grim.  "Very fine to look at, maybe, but you will find it very different
when you know it as well as I do.  Once I belonged to a ship out in
these parts, when we lost the better half of our ship's company before
we got home again."

"I hope we shall be more fortunate," said Bill.  "But what do you mean
by yellow Jack?"

"The yellow fever, to be sure, boy.  You will see a fellow one hour
rolling along with a quid in his mouth, as happy as a prince, and the
next down with the fever, and wriggling about with pain; and in the
morning when you ask after him, if he's on shore, you will hear he is
buried already; if he's at sea, the sailmaker will be busy sewing him up
in his hammock."

When Bill went to the cabin to attend to his duties, the officers were
all talking away of what they were going to do on shore.  While dinner
was going forward, Bill could not help hearing their conversation.  Some
of them were talking of friends they expected to find; others were
proposing rides up the country to Rock Fort, and other places; some
talked of going over to Spanish Town, the capital of the island.

"Well, Collinson, and do you expect to find your friends the Lydalls
here?" asked Mr Barker.

"He wouldn't be looking so happy if he did not," said the master.

"I am not surprised at it," observed the surgeon.  "I once saw Miss
Ellen Lydall, and if I had not happened to have a wife and small family
of my own, I should have been entering the lists with him myself."

"Colonel Lydall told me that he expected his regiment would be sent
here.  The colonel's family accompanied him out, and I hope to find that
he is stationed either at Uphill Barracks or Rock Fort," answered
Lieutenant Collinson.

"But I say, Collinson, do you think the young lady will have remained
faithful all this time?  Remember what numbers of soldier-officers and
rich planters there are out here ready to supplant you.  Ha!  Ha!  Ha!"
and the purser laughed and rubbed his hands at his own joke.

Lieutenant Collinson took this bantering very coolly.  "A man may take
from messmates what he certainly would not from other persons," he
answered.

Bill heard the remark, but very wisely never repeated out of the cabin
what he heard in it.  He did, however, think to himself, "Mr Collinson
is a kind, good officer, and I only hope, if he likes this Miss Lydall,
that he will fall in with her, and maybe marry her one of these days."

As the ship lay some way from the town, it was too late for any of the
officers to go on shore that night.  When dinner was over, and Bill had
finished his duties in the gun-room, he went on deck, but found Tommy
Rebow and some of the other lads skylarking about the fore-rigging.  He
soon joined them.

"Hillo, youngster!" cried Grimshaw, as he passed him.  "Take care you
don't fall overboard again.  You will not come off as easily as you did
before.  Look out there!  What do you say to that chap?" and old Grim
pointed to a dark triangular object which was slowly gliding by the
ship.  "Do you know what that is?"

"No," said Bill, "I cannot make it out."

"Then I'll tell you," said old Grim.  "That's Black Tom--the biggest
shark in these seas.  This harbour is his home; and he takes precious
good care that no seaman shall swim ashore from his ship.  He would be
down upon him in a twinkling, if he caught him in the water.  They say
the Government keeps him in its pay to act watchman, and he goes up to
the Dockyard to be fed every day."

Bill now distinguished a large black body beneath the fin, but it soon
passed ahead of the ship and was lost to sight.

The next day Mr Collinson sent for Bill, and told him to clean himself
and get ready to go with him on shore, to carry his carpet-bag.  Bill
was very quickly ready, and took charge of the bag, which the
lieutenant's servant gave him.  The purser, and master, and two or three
midshipmen were going on shore at the same time.  "Now," thought Bill,
"I shall hear all about the young lady, for I dare say Mr Collinson is
going up to look after her."

They passed several other ships of war, for it was a busy time then in
the West Indies; for, though England had thrashed most of her enemies,
there were still a number of privateers cruising about, and doing all
the mischief they could.  Captain Trevelyan expected to be employed in
looking after them.  He had already gone ashore in his gig to pay his
respects to the admiral up at the Penn--as the residence of the
commander-in-chief is called--situated on an elevation about two miles
out of Kingston.

As soon as they landed, Mr Collinson, telling Bill to follow him, took
leave of his companions, they casting knowing glances after him.

"Lucky fellow!" said one of the midshipmen.  "Depend upon it he is all
right, or he would not look so happy."

They soon learned that Colonel Lydall's regiment was stationed at Uphill
Barracks.  As it was too far to walk, he ordered a caleche, and directed
Bill to put in his bag.  Bill looked very much disappointed, thinking he
should have to go back to the boat.  Great was his pleasure, therefore,
when the lieutenant said--

"Jump up behind, lad."  And away they drove through the regular, broad
streets of Kingston, and were soon ascending the hill towards the
barracks.

It was a grand scene--the blue mountains rising up in a semicircle
before them, with lofty groves of palmetto, the wild cotton-tree and
fig-tree at their bases; behind them the clean-looking white town with
the vast harbour beyond; the palisades stretching away on one side, with
Port Royal at the end, separating it from the ocean; the
merchant-vessels floating in the harbour of Kingston, while farther off
were seen the lofty masts and spars of the men-of-war.  It was very hot,
but Bill did not mind the heat, and only wished the drive was to be
longer.  They were soon among the well-built airy barracks of Uphill
Park camp, and Bill felt very grand as the carriage drove up to the
officers' quarters.

"Now I hope I shall see this young lady Lieutenant Collinson thinks so
much about," thought Bill to himself.

The lieutenant jumped from the carriage, and eagerly went to the
hall-door.  He came back, however, very soon, looking somewhat
disappointed, and told the negro driver to go on farther up the country.
Bill, however, was not sorry, as he thus had an opportunity of seeing
more of the island.

"I hope the lady is there, however," he said to himself.

They drove on along the fine road, and among curious trees such as Bill
had never seen in his life.  There was the graceful bamboo, with its
long leaves waving in the breeze; and the trumpet tree, from thirty to
forty feet high, its trunk something like that of the bamboo, with a
curious fruit growing on it not unlike the strawberry.  Bill was quite
delighted when he caught sight of a monkey leaping among the branches of
a tree, wild and at liberty, like a squirrel in England.  Away it went,
however, as the carriage approached, stopping only now and then to have
a look at the approaching vehicle, then hiding itself among the foliage.

At length, after driving some miles, ascending higher and higher, the
carriage turned off towards a large cottage-looking building on the side
of the hill.  There was a broad verandah in front, looking out over the
plain towards the sea beyond.  Under the verandah, several ladies and
gentlemen were collected.

Two or three blacks came out to meet the carriage, and the lieutenant,
having exchanged a few words with them, proceeded across the garden to
the verandah.  Bill could just see a young lady, who had been seated
with her back to the drive, start up as the lieutenant approached, and
put out her hand to shake his, as he came up.  A fine-looking gentleman,
whom Bill took to be the colonel, advanced from the other end of the
verandah, and seemed to welcome him warmly.  He then saw him bow to the
rest of the company, and finally shake hands with one or two whom he
appeared to recognise.

"It's all right," said Bill.

Bill was soon at home among the negro servants.  He did not turn up his
nose at them because they were black, and was ready to laugh and joke
with them, and help them in anything they were about.  He was very glad
when, after some time, the lieutenant told him to take the bag out of
the carriage, for he was going to stop there that evening.

Old Sally, the black cook, especially took a great fancy to Bill, and he
seldom had had so luxurious a dinner as she put before him.

"Dare, sailor-boy!  Eat and grow fat.  Dat better than salt junk dat dey
give on board ship."

Bill, in return, danced a hornpipe for the amusement of his black
friends, who stood round him grinning from ear to ear, and clapping
their hands with delight, one or two of the negro boys trying to imitate
him, though Sally and the rest declared that they could in no way come
up to his performance.

When the colonel's party went to dinner, Bill was told to go in and
help.  This he was glad to do, as he thus had an opportunity of seeing
the young lady he had heard spoken about.

Lieutenant Collinson was seated by her side.  He was sure that must be
she, from the way the lieutenant was speaking to her.

"Well," thought Bill, "no wonder Mr Collinson admires her.  She is
indeed a sweet young lady; so fair, and such blue eyes!  And I think she
seems pleased to have the lieutenant where he is."

Little, probably, did either the officer or the young lady dream of the
thoughts which were entering Bill Sunnyside's head.  There were a number
of other guests present,--two or three officers of the regiment, a
planter or two, as the West Indian proprietors are called, and several
ladies.  Bill, however, thought that the colonel's daughter surpassed
them all.  How very happy she looked, as the lieutenant spoke to her;
her countenance varying according to the subject, often a rich glow
overspreading her face, while her eyes flashed and sparkled.  Certainly,
if the lieutenant had cared for her before, he must have admired her now
more than ever.  And so he did,--of that there could be little doubt;
and he would have been ready at any moment to give his life for hers,
and to fight to the last gasp to defend her from danger.



CHAPTER EIGHT.

After spending a couple of days at Rockhill Cottage (for that was the
name of the colonel's residence), Lieutenant Collinson, accompanied by
Bill, returned on board.  Each time, however, that the lieutenant went
to the colonel's house he took Bill with him, who, accordingly, found
himself thoroughly at home there.  Sally especially won his affections.
She sometimes in her kindness reminded him of his mother, only she was a
great deal larger and fatter, and her skin was very black.  "But, after
all," as Bill observed, "what has that to do with it?  It's the heart
that I am talking about, the nature of which just comes out through the
eyes and acts; and even mother could not be much kinder than Sally
sometimes is, though, to be sure, she can knock the black boys about
pretty smartly; but then maybe they deserve it, and their heads are
somewhat thick, so that they don't feel when she comes down with a
frying-pan on the top of them."

At length the corvette got put to rights; and stores and provisions
having been taken on board, the admiral ordered her away on a cruise.

Mr Collinson looked somewhat sad when he bade Miss Ellen Lydall
farewell.

"We shall be back soon, however," he said.

He did his best to keep up his spirits; and he told the young lady to do
the same.  As the carriage drove off, Bill saw her watching it, and she
did not move from the point of the garden which commanded the road as
long as it was in sight.

The _Lilly_ was to be some time absent:--to proceed to the westward, and
then to come round the northern coast of Cuba, in search of the
privateers, which were an excessive annoyance to the English merchantmen
passing through those seas.  They had been at sea some days, and had
seen no vessels.

"Well, Grimshaw," said Bill, "you see we have not had yellow Jack aboard
yet, and I hope, in spite of what you have said, he will not pay us a
visit."

"Don't sing out yet, Master Bill," answered old Grim.  "Just stay till
we have been into some of the harbours we shall have to visit, or been
becalmed for a week together, with the water in the tank so hot that it
pretty well scalds your mouth to drink it, and no need of a fire in the
galley, because as how we can cook the meat by just hanging it up in the
sun."

Bill laughed.  "It must be pretty hot for that," he observed; "and I
didn't expect we should have it much hotter than we have had it
already."

"Wait a bit, boy, wait a bit," answered Grimshaw.  "Now, you youngsters,
what are you skylarking away there for?" he shouted out to several of
the lads, who were, as usual, in spite of the hot sun, frolicking about
in the rigging, accompanied by Queerface, the monkey.

Just as he spoke, Tommy Rebow was hunting the animal from shroud to
backstay, up over the mast-head and down again.  At last, Master
Queerface made a spring out on the fore-yard.  Tommy pursued him with
thoughtless eagerness, and, in his attempt to get hold of him, lost his
grasp.  Over he went.  In vain he caught at the foot-rope; and giving a
turn, struck the water with his head.  Down beneath the surface he went.
Bill saw him falling, and knew well he could not swim.  In spite of old
Grim's caution about the sharks, without a moment's hesitation in he
plunged, and swam towards the spot where Tommy had gone down.

"A man overboard!  A man overboard!" was shouted by numbers who saw the
accident.

The corvette was going at the rate of only three or four knots through
the water.  Bill swam rapidly on, his eye fixed on the centre of the
circle made by Tommy as he fell.

"He's gone!  He's gone!" shouted out several voices from the ship.
Tommy, however, quickly again came to the surface, and Bill caught him
as he appeared.

"A shark!  A shark!" cried several voices.

Among the first who saw the shark was Jack Windy.  He had a large knife
in his hand, employed in some work, and, without waiting to cry out,
overboard he went, and swam up to where the boys were struggling in the
water.  Old Grimshaw at the moment saw the danger of his young friend,
and not knowing what Jack was about, overboard he went, with a boat's
stretcher in his hand, purporting to do battle with the monster.  At
that instant the captain came on deck.

"Who's overboard?" he asked.

"Bill Sunnyside--Sunshine Bill, sir," cried out several voices.

"The lad whom I promised his widowed mother to protect," thought the
captain, for he scarcely uttered the words aloud.

He had on a light silk jacket.  There was no necessity to throw that
off, but taking his watch out of his pocket, he handed it to one of the
midshipmen, and, in another instant, he also was overboard, and swimming
away towards Bill and Tommy.

"Turn on your back, Tommy!" cried Bill.  "If you catch me round the
neck, we shall both be drowned."

Tommy was too much frightened to understand what Bill said.  The latter
had, therefore, to tear himself from his grasp, and to swim away a
little distance, only to return, however, to seize him by the collar.

The monster of the deep during this time had been eyeing the human
beings in the water.  Had there been only one, he would have attacked
him immediately; but the number of persons swimming about made him
somewhat timid.  Jack, seeing that Bill was handling Tommy
scientifically, kept his eye on the spot where he had seen the shark.

"Come on," he shouted, when he saw Grimshaw in the water; "we two will
tackle the brute.  And here comes our skipper, God bless him!  He will
look after the boys."

Mr Barker meantime had hove the ship to, and a boat was lowered, into
which Mr Collinson had leaped with four hands, who were pulling with
all their might towards the spot, though of course they had by this time
some distance to go.

The captain swam on towards Bill and Tommy, and came up just as the
latter had got Bill a second time round the throat.

Those on board had been watching Jack with intense anxiety.  Once the
monster was seen to be darting towards the captain, but, as he
approached, Jack struck out towards him with his knife in his hand,
while Grimshaw beat the water with his stick.  The effect was to startle
the shark.  Jack dived; but, to the horror of all, a patch of blood
appeared on the surface directly afterwards.  None expected to see Jack
Windy again.  The next instant, however, up he came, shouting out--

"I've done for him!  I've done for him!"

Meantime, Grimshaw was swimming round and round where the boys and the
captain were, shouting, and kicking, and beating the water, which he
continued to do till the boat came up to the spot.

"Take in the boys and the captain," he shouted out; "we will hold our
own against the sharks."

There was little time to be lost, however, for the monster defeated by
Jack was not the only one.  Several others, attracted by the blood of
their companion, came swimming swiftly towards the spot.  The captain
and the two boys were quickly hauled on board.  Grimshaw was taken in
next, and Jack had only just time to draw in his legs, before a huge
shark, turning up the white of its belly, appeared close to the side of
the boat.

"If I had been ready for you, you would have repented your boldness,
Master Shark," cried Jack, as he saw the monster retreat, disappointed
of its prey.

At first the captain thought that it was Bill who had first tumbled
overboard; but when he found that he had leaped in to save Tommy Rebow,
he praised him greatly; and from that day Bill became even a greater
favourite than before with all on board.  Sometimes prosperity spoils
people.  It was not the case with Sunshine Bill.

The ship had been at sea for some weeks, beating to the westward, when
she rounded Cape Saint Antonio, the western coast of Cuba, and stood
towards the coast of Florida.  At length, one morning at daybreak, two
vessels were seen about four miles away to the southward.  One was a
brig, the other a schooner.

The _Lilly_ instantly made sail towards them, setting all the canvas she
could spread.  As soon as she was seen, the schooner made sail,
evidently to escape her.  The breeze freshened, and she was soon up with
the brig, which was seen to be an English merchant-vessel.  As they
passed her a voice hailed--

"We have been plundered by a privateer or pirate, and should have had
our throats cut, had not you come up."

"We will return to you as soon as we can catch her," answered Captain
Trevelyan, not wishing to run the risk of losing the privateer by
heaving-to at that time.

Accordingly, the _Lilly_ stood on.  Though the schooner was a fast
vessel, the _Lilly_, bringing up the breeze, was quickly overhauling
her.  As the corvette drew near, the schooner was seen to have her decks
crowded with men; and presently, to show that she was not about to yield
without a struggle, a couple of shot were fired from her after-guns.
They were evidently aimed with the hopes of cutting away some of the
_Lilly's_ rigging.  The corvette replied with her bowchasers, the
schooner firing again and again in return.

Several of the best marksmen on board tried their hands, in the hopes of
knocking away some of the schooner's rigging instead.  At length Mr
Collinson stepped up to the gun.  He fired, and down came the schooner's
mainsail.  He had shot away the jaws of the maingaff.

A shout rose from the deck of the English ship.  On she stood, with her
broadside ready to rake her antagonist, who had fallen off before the
wind.  Just as she was about to deliver her fire, a man jumped into the
main rigging and shouted out--

"We surrender!" the French flag having already come down with the peak.

"Lower your sails, then, and we will send a boat on board," cried
Captain Trevelyan.

Mr Collinson instantly jumped into the boat which was lowered, and
boarded the schooner.  Her crew were a motley set of Frenchmen,
Spaniards, mulattoes, and blacks.  They cast anything but pleasant looks
at their captors, and it was very evident that if they had dared they
would have hove them quickly overboard again.

Mr Collinson having received the sword of their commander, ordered them
to prepare to quit the vessel.  The other boats of the corvette were
very quickly alongside with armed crews, who began at once to remove the
people from the prize.  When the greater number were conveyed on board
the corvette, the captain told Mr Collinson to take charge of the
schooner with a prize crew, and to carry her round to Jamaica.  The
lieutenant received the order with no little satisfaction, hoping that
he should thus again have an opportunity of renewing his visits at Rock
Hill Cottage.



CHAPTER NINE.

The prize was called the _Fleche_, belonging to Dominique.  Mr
Collinson having to select a crew, among others took Jack Windy,
Grimshaw, and Bill, and Tommy Rebow to attend in the cabin; having,
besides, a mate and a midshipman to act as his officers.  The corvette
could ill spare so many men, but the prize was a valuable one, and it
was important to take her into Port Royal in safety.

On reaching the brig, it was found that the schooner had taken a
considerable amount of property from her, though prevented by the
appearance of the corvette from removing much of her cargo.  The captain
of the brig was very grateful for his release, and went rejoicing on his
voyage, hoping not to fall in with a similar customer.  The _Fleche_,
under her new officers and crew, stood away to the westward, hoping,
after rounding Cape Saint Antonio, to have a quick run to Jamaica, while
the corvette continued her voyage through the Bahama sea, towards Saint
Domingo.

For some time the schooner enjoyed fine weather, and everybody on board
was happy and contented, imitating the temper of the lieutenant, who was
especially so.

Bill, under Jack Windy's instruction, perfected himself in his hornpipe,
and Jack declared, and even old Grim growled out an assent, that there
were not many lads of his age who could beat him.  The wind was very
light, so that, after having parted from the corvette some four or five
days, they had made but little way.  Bill, of course, had a very slight
idea all the time where they were, for charts and maps were not common
between-decks.  They had been on board the schooner some ten days or
more, when the weather began to cloud over, and just the same appearance
came on which Bill remembered before the hurricane they had met with on
their passage from England.

"What do you think of it?" he asked of old Grim.

"Why, if Mr Collinson don't look out bright, we shall have the masts
out of the ship, that's all," answered Grim.

Mr Collinson was, however, looking out bright, and soon summoned on
deck by the mate who had charge, he gave orders to furl all sail, except
a close-reefed fore-topsail.  There was not a breath of wind.  The sea
was like a looking-glass, the heat was intense.

"No doubt it's old `Harry Cane,' come to pay us a visit, as he's not got
the change out of us yet," growled old Grim.

The lieutenant and his two young officers walked the deck, looking
somewhat anxiously.

"There are some ugly rocks and banks clustering pretty thickly about
here," he observed to one of them, "and if we have to run on in the
dark, Providence alone can take us clear of them."

"I would rather trust to Providence than to our own wisdom or skill,"
thought Bill.  "He who took care of us before will take care of us now."

Some time passed, and still the calm continued.  Even Mr Collinson
began to think that, after all, the hurricane was not coming.

"Don't let him fancy any such thing," observed old Grim.  "Depend upon
it, if `Harry Cane' has made up his mind to come aboard us, come he
will; but whether or no he will take the masts out of us, or send us to
the bottom, is another thing."

The sky still remained overcast, and the heat increased.  The men were
piped to dinner, and many a joke was cut at the mess-tables about the
expected hurricane.

"Oh!  It's only a make-believe, after all," observed Jack Windy, as he
tossed off his grog, dinner being over.

The men had not left their seats, when, on a sudden, a loud low roar was
heard.

"All hands on deck!" shouted Mr Collinson.

"All hands on deck!" echoed the voice of the acting boatswain, piping
shrilly as he spoke.

The men rushed from below.  They had scarcely gained the deck, when that
same frothy, hissing line of foam was seen advancing which had before
been seen.  Like a blow from a mallet, the gale struck the vessel.  At
first, she seemed to hesitate to move forward.  Then she sprang on, and
away she flew dead before it.  On she went, the seas increasing rapidly
as she advanced.  In a short time, however, the wind shifted and caught
the sail aback.  The schooner seemed about to make a stern-board.
Before the order could be given to let go the sheets, a loud thundering
noise was heard like the report of a piece of ordnance, and the sail,
blown from the bolt-ropes, flew away before the blast.  The
fore-staysail was run up, and once more the schooner's head was turned
away before the wind.  On again she flew in a different direction.

"It is as I feared," said Mr Collinson to the mate, Mr Tatham.  "She
is going right in among the rocks and shoals in the direction of the
Tortugas."

There were no signs of the hurricane abating; indeed, it seemed
wonderful that with the cross-breaking seas which raged round the
vessel, she should not have been sent instantly to the bottom.  Mr
Collinson and the mate were at the helm.  Jack Windy was stationed to
look out ahead--not that looking out would do any good.  The schooner
flew on.  Night was approaching.  Darkness added horror to the scene.
Even the oldest seaman felt his heart sinking, and his cheek paler than
usual.

Sunshine Bill knew as well as any one the danger the schooner was in,
but he said to himself, "This is what seamen have to go through, and He
who saved us before can find a way now for us to escape, even though
coral reefs or rocky islands are ahead."

The crew kept at their stations.  No one felt inclined to go below.
Like true British seamen, they determined boldly to face the danger.
Now and then there was a lull and hopes were entertained that the
hurricane was breaking.  It only seemed to be taking a rest to obtain
fresh strength.  Hour after hour the schooner flew on.  Once or twice
Mr Collinson went below to look at the chart, but he was quickly on
deck again to resume his post.

"We must be in the midst of reefs and banks, Tatham," he observed.
"Look out on the starboard bow there.  See that wall of white?  The sea
is meeting with resistance there, depend on it."

Presently there was a cry forward--

"Breakers!  Breakers on the starboard bow."  The helm was put
a-starboard, in the hopes of avoiding the reef.

"Breakers!  Breakers ahead!" again shouted Jack Windy.  "Breakers on the
larboard bow!"

"Grimshaw, come and help Mr Tatham at the helm," shouted Mr Collinson;
and he went forward, scanning the raging, breaking sea ahead.

Soon it seemed as if all around there was a semicircle of white foam,
rising like a lofty wall to impede their progress.  Just in one spot
there appeared to be a break.  He hurried aft and put the helm to port,
boldly steering the schooner towards it.

Still there was but little hope.  Destruction seemed to await the vessel
and all on board.  On, on she flew.  In another instant there was a
fearful crash, and the masts bent like willow wands.  Over they went,
carrying two poor fellows with them, whose death-shriek was heard above
the roar of the breakers.  Again the schooner struck.  Another sea came
roaring up astern, as if it would wash all from her decks and hurl them
to destruction.  The remainder of the crew clung to ring-bolts or
stanchions, or whatever they could grasp.  The sea lifted the schooner
and sent her farther on the reef.  Again and again she struck, as if
every timber was about to separate.  Another sea roared up, and striking
her like a huge hammer, broke her into a thousand fragments, sending
those on board far into the water, clinging to the fragments.  Happily
she had been driven almost over the reef, on the inner side of which the
sea was comparatively smooth.  Thus those who had been clinging to
portions of the wreck were able to support themselves.

Sunshine Bill had been holding on to a ring-bolt in the deck, and when
the ship broke up, he found himself still doing so, and floating on a
portion of it which had been sent a considerable distance from the reef.
He looked around him to see if any of his shipmates had also escaped
immediate destruction.  As far as he could see, the water seemed covered
with pieces of timber, which were torn off from the wreck.  Among them
he thought he could distinguish some human forms.  He shouted.  A voice
answered him: it was that of Tommy Rebow, close to him, floating on a
fragment of the bulwarks.

"Oh!  Help me, Bill!  Help me!  I cannot hold on much longer, and the
piece of wood I have hold of is scarcely enough to keep me afloat."

Bill felt tolerably secure where he was, yet he could not bear the
thoughts of letting Tommy perish if he could help him; so, leaving his
own piece of the wreck, he struck out towards his messmate.  He
fortunately had not many yards to go before he got up with Tommy.

"Hold on," he said, "and I'll tow your raft up to mine.  I don't want to
run the risk of letting you catch me round the neck as you did the other
day.  But cheer up; I don't think we're going to die this time."

With these encouraging words, Bill towed Tommy up to the piece of deck,
which was amply large enough to support them both.  Having got on it
himself, he managed, though not without difficulty, to hand Tommy up
also, and there together they clung to the ring-bolt.

"I wonder who else has escaped?" said Bill.  "I'll shout out.  Listen if
anybody answers."

Even to Tommy, Bill found it necessary to speak very loud, on account of
the roar of the breakers, which seemed even louder on that side of the
reef than on the other.

"Anybody floating away there?" shouted Bill, his shrill voice being
heard above the dull roar of the ocean.  "Hark!  I hear two or three
voices replying," said Bill.  "Let's give them a cheer, to keep up their
spirits; perhaps they will come and join us here.  I do hope Mr
Collinson has escaped, and Jack Windy, and poor old Grim, and the other
fellows too.  Yes, I am nearly certain that is Jack's voice."

"Is there room for anybody else where you are?"

"Yes!" shouted Bill and Tommy.  "Plenty for you, if you will come to
us."

In a short time Jack managed to swim up to the raft.  It was very
evident that it had been drifting still farther away from the reef.
They helped Jack up as he reached the raft, considerably exhausted by
his swim.

"We have got inside a lagoon," he observed when he was seated on deck.
"If it had not been for that, we should all have been dead by this time.
But I have some hopes that others may have escaped.  Look away down
there to leeward.  Can't you see something rising up against the sky?
They look to me like cocoa-nut trees, and I should not be surprised if
there's an island down there, and that, if we are in luck, we shall be
landed on it before the night is over."

Bill thought with Jack that he could see trees.

"Well," he said, "we at all events have to be thankful; but I do hope
Mr Collinson has escaped.  What would that poor young lady do if he was
drowned?  I should not like to go back to Jamaica to have to tell her.
Dear me!  It makes my heart bleed to think of it."

"I can't help thinking that there are some other people down away there,
holding on to other pieces of the wreck," said Jack; "but, you see, the
breakers make such a roar that 'tis hard to hear a hail at any distance.
I only just heard your's and Tommy's squeaking voices, and I was not
half as far off as those pieces of the wreck are.  Well, it's an awful
scene.  I never saw a vessel go to pieces so quickly before; but then,
to be sure, it's not often a craft gets such tremendous blows as she
did.  Nothing made of wood and iron could have held together, I am sure,
on that reef."

While Jack was making these remarks, he was looking out to try and get
some smaller pieces of timber to serve, he said, as paddles.  At length
they came up with a floating spar--for it must be understood that they
were moving faster through the water than the other pieces of wreck,
owing to their bodies holding the wind and serving as sails.  Jack
managed to secure this prize, and Bill directly afterwards got hold of a
piece of board.  As the water was smoother the farther they got away
from the reef, they were the better able to use these paddles, not being
obliged to cling any longer to the ring-bolt.  As they advanced, the
shadowy forms of the trees appeared before them, becoming at length
sufficiently distinct to assure them that an island was at no great
distance.  A surf, however, broke on the shore, though it did not appear
to be very dangerous.  They could just see a sandy beach, a few feet
high only, with a grove of tall trees.  At length, hurried on by the
gale, and by their own exertions, the raft reached the beach, when a sea
striking it washed them off, though happily they were thrown
sufficiently high up the sand to enable them to gain their feet and
scramble up out of the way of the succeeding sea.

Sunshine Bill did not forget to whom he was indebted for his
preservation, and falling on his knees, to the surprise of his
companions, he offered up a short thanksgiving for his safety.

"And I am sure we ought to be thankful too," said Jack, imitating his
example.

"And I wish you would just say a word for me," said Tommy.  "I am not
much accustomed to pray--I never learnt."

"Oh!  Tommy," said Bill, "it doesn't require practice.  God doesn't care
about the words.  Just thank Him from your heart, and never mind how you
speak your thanks."

"I say, Jack, let us look out and see if we cannot help some of the
other fellows," said Bill, as he rose from his knees.  "Maybe they will
come ashore more exhausted than we are, and perhaps not be able to help
themselves out of the water."

Jack and the two boys stood looking out over the lagoon.  They could see
the white wall of foam as it rose over the reef, and between it and them
could distinguish several floating objects, but whether human beings or
pieces of the wreck, it was hard to tell.



CHAPTER TEN.

Sunshine Bill and his two companions stood for some time watching the
objects they had seen floating in the lagoon.

"Yes, I'm sure there's a man there!" exclaimed Bill.  "Let us shout to
him: he will hear us, maybe, and it will keep up his spirits."

They raised their voices in a hearty cheer.  A faint answer came back.

"I thought so," cried Bill; "but the man, whoever he is, must be tired,
and the cheer did him good.  I have a great mind to go off and help him
on shore."

"No, no, Bill," said Jack, "I'll do that.  I am stronger than you are,
and we cannot afford to risk losing you."

Saying this, Jack, rushing into the water, boldly swam off through the
surf towards the man they had seen.  He soon got up to him, but only
just in time to find him relaxing his hold of the timber he had been
clinging to.

"Come, mate, whoever you are," said Jack, as he saw him; "hold on, and
I'll help tow you ashore."

Bill and Tommy ran into the surf to help them as they landed.  The other
man was so exhausted that he could scarcely lift himself on his feet.

"It's old Grim!" cried Bill, as he saw him.  "Well, I am glad he has
escaped."

Tommy made them no answer, as he had not forgotten the many
rope's-endings old Grim had from time to time given him.  They got him
up and seated him on the beach.  He soon recovered his strength
sufficiently to speak.

"Thank you, mates, thank you," he growled out.  "And I say, Bill, I told
you ill-luck was coming.  What have you got to say to it?"

"That I am very thankful we have escaped with our lives," answered Bill.
"And so we ought to be; and I have no doubt that He who has helped us
thus far will help us still farther.  That is all I have got to say now.
But hurrah!  Surely there's somebody else floating out there on a bit
of timber.  Jack, look!  I am right, am I not?"

"Yes, Bill, and I wish I was a better swimmer than I am; I would go off
and help him.  But old Grim cost me a good tussle, and I don't feel
quite as if I could manage it again just now."

Jack, in truth, had been considerably exhausted in coming through the
surf, and had now to sit down and rest himself.  Meantime they kept
watching the surface of the lagoon, in the hopes that more of their
shipmates might have escaped.  Bill was most concerned about Mr
Collinson.

"Oh dear!  Oh dear!  If he should be drowned," he said to himself over
and over again.  "That poor young lady!  It will break her heart--I know
it will, for all that she looked so bright and spirited."  Suddenly Bill
started up.  "Come along, Tommy; come along, Jack.  I am sure I heard a
shout a little way along the shore.  It is there where the pieces of
wreck are now drifting."

Grimshaw was too tired to move, but Jack and Tommy followed Bill, who
ran along the beach to a point towards which a large bit of timber was
drifting.  There was a man on it.  He again shouted as they approached.

"Ay, ay!  We'll help you!" cried Bill.

Probably the man dreaded, should he continue to cling to the pieces of
wreck, that when he touched the beach it might roll over him.

"Leave it and swim!" cried Jack.

The man did so, and he and Bill rushed into the water, and just as the
sea was carrying him off again, caught hold of his hands and dragged him
up in time to escape the timber, which was cast with violence directly
afterwards on to the beach.

"Hurrah!  I am so glad!" cried Bill, for he recognised in the rescued
man his kind friend--Lieutenant Collinson.

Mr Collinson was very much exhausted, and for some time after he had
been assisted up to a dry place on the shore, was unable to speak.  At
length he told them that he had been endeavouring to help some of his
companions, but in vain, and that he feared greatly all the rest were
lost.  He seemed much out of spirits.

"We did all we could," he said, "and may be thankful that our lives are
so far spared.  When daylight returns, we may ascertain where we are;
but I am afraid we are on one of the small islets of these seas, which
afford no water, nor means of supporting life."

"We will hope for the best, sir," said Bill.  "And perhaps we may catch
some fish, or some provisions may be washed on shore; and as for water,
if we cannot find a spring, maybe the clouds will send it to us."

"You set a good example of confidence in God's mercy," observed the
lieutenant.

"Yes, sir, I am sure He never forgets us; and so while there's life
there's hope, for even at the last He may send us help."

In vain the party looked out in the hopes of more of their shipmates
being driven on shore.  Once they thought they heard a cry as if some
poor fellow had let go his hold of the plank to which he was clinging,
but though almost wearied to death, they would not lie down, lest by so
doing they might fail to rescue any who might still be alive.  At length
they had to give up all hopes of saving more lives, and went and laid
themselves down under a clump of trees near the beach.  All the party,
with the exception of the lieutenant, were soon asleep.  He sat up,
thinking probably of those far away, and wishing that he could give
notice to his friends at Jamaica of his safety.

"When the corvette gets back, and it is found that the schooner has not
arrived, it will be supposed that we are all lost.  Ellen will be
grieving for me, poor girl, and what would I not do to shield her from a
minute's pain or suffering?" he thought.

At length, however, he followed the example of his companions, and also,
in spite of his anxiety, fell fast asleep.  When morning dawned, the
gale had altogether ceased.  The sea was blue and shining, the lagoon
calm almost as a mirror.  The whole shore was strewn with pieces of the
wreck and portions of the cargo.  The party were soon on their feet.
The place on which they had been thrown was a small islet, scarcely more
than fifty yards wide, and five or six hundred long; a group of trees, a
few bushes, and a sprinkling of coarse grass being the only vegetation
upon it.  The whole sea, as far as the eye could reach, was covered with
similar islets, few of them of larger dimensions, while some were
smaller, mere rocks rising out of the ocean.  The difficulty of escaping
from such a place was very great, as no vessels were likely to pass near
so dangerous a portion of the sea, while the island afforded no means of
building a boat, nor of supporting existence.  As soon as the lieutenant
had aroused himself, however, he directed his four companions to
accompany him to the beach, that they might look for whatever had been
thrown on shore.  Eagerly they searched on either side.  At length Bill
espied a cask.  They hurried towards it, and dragged it up out of the
reach of the water.

"It looks as if it had beef or pork in it," observed old Grim; "but
unless we can get some biscuit and some water, it won't do us much good,
as I can tell you from experience."

"But what do you think of this cask?" cried Bill, running on a little
farther.  "This is bread--I am sure of it by its looks.  Maybe we shall
get some water too.  We have no cause to complain.  See!  Here's a
chest, too.  It's the carpenter's; and if we put our hands to the work,
perhaps we shall be able to build a boat, or raft of some sort, and get
to the mainland."

Numerous other articles were found and hauled up.  Still no casks of
water--the great want of all--had been discovered.  They had been
labouring for some time, having already collected a number of articles,
when Tommy caught sight of several objects floating round the farther
end of the island at no great distance from the shore.  He shouted out
to his companions, and they all ran in that direction.  They were soon
seen to be casks, mixed up with pieces of the wreck.  The difficulty,
however, was to get hold of them before they were swept away.

"If we could but make a bit of a raft, now," said Jack, "I would not
mind going out with a paddle and bringing them in."

No sooner was the proposal made, than all hands set to work to build a
light raft, for which there were ample materials.  Bill volunteered to
help Jack, and with the aid of a couple of roughly constructed paddles,
they went off towards the casks.

"They are water-casks!  No doubt about that," cried Jack, as he got near
to them; "but whether they have fresh or salt water in them remains to
be proved."

"Fresh water!" cried Bill; "let us hope so, at all events."

Having brought some rope on their raft, they made the casks fast and
towed them towards the beach.  There were three.  They considerably
impeded the return of the raft to the shore.  Still Jack and Bill
persevered.  It was very hard work, as there was a current against them.
However, they determined to persevere as long as they should make way.
The casks were too precious to be abandoned, so they kept on paddling
and paddling.  Sometimes Jack thought they were going farther off from
the shore.  "Keep on!" cried Bill.  "We have gained an inch, and in
another minute we shall have gained two inches.  Hurrah!"

Jack was inspirited by Bill's courage, and after a great deal of
exertion they managed to get the raft to the shore, their friends
hurrying down to meet them.  The casks were dragged up.  As they turned
them round, they saw that the bungs were fastened down tightly.  Before
they could get them open they had recourse to the carpenter's chest.
The difficulty, however, was to open that.  They searched about in vain
for any implement to force it open.  They were, however, so thirsty that
they could wait no longer, and at length, by means of a stick and a
piece of timber to serve as a mallet, they drove in the bung.  How
eagerly they drew forth the water from the cask!  Jack put down his
mouth and tasted it.

"Sweet as honey!" he exclaimed.  "No fear now; if all the casks are like
that, we shall do."

"But it's not likely they will be all like that," said old Grim.  "How
that one has escaped is more than I can tell."

The water greatly revived them.  In the same way they knocked in the
head of one of the casks which contained biscuit.  It was found to have
escaped the wet.  All hands eagerly ate some, for they had tasted no
food for many hours.  Here was an ample supply to last them for some
time.  Greatly refreshed, with their spirits somewhat raised, they again
went along the shore to try and pick up any further article that might
be of use.  Among others, Tommy found a saucepan with the lid firmly on.
It had floated unharmed towards the island.  This was eagerly secured.
They had now the means of cooking their meat and boiling water.

"Oh!  Bill, what is that?" exclaimed Tommy, pointing to a distance along
the beach.  "There's a poor fellow, but he must be dead, I'm afraid."

The boys hurried towards the man.  He was perfectly dead; of that there
was no doubt.  They drew the body, however, out of the water, and in
doing so recognised him as one of the carpenter's crew.

"If he was alive, now, he would have assisted us," said Tommy, "in
opening the chest and in building a boat.  We will tell Mr Collinson,
and he will have the poor fellow buried," observed Bill.  "It may be
difficult, though, to dig a grave in this thin coating of sand, with a
hard rock below it.  But hillo!  What is here?  See, Tommy; I have found
this key fastened with a rope-yarn round his neck.  I should not be
surprised but what it's the key of the chest."

Saying this, and covering up the face of the dead man with his jacket,
which they took off for the purpose, they hurried back to their
companions.  Sure enough, the key opened the carpenter's chest, and they
had now the means of tapping the other casks, and of building themselves
huts, if necessary.  Still, though there was an abundance of timber from
the wreck of the schooner, no one had sufficient skill to build a boat.



CHAPTER ELEVEN.

Main was the search for water; though every inch of ground throughout
the island was carefully surveyed, not a sign of a spring could be
discovered.

Having examined all the provisions which had been collected, Mr
Collinson found they had sufficient for two months or so, on short
allowance.  It might be managed so as to last rather longer; but could
they hope to get away even in that time?  Not only months, but years
might go by, before any vessel might pass sufficiently near to
distinguish them.  They had no means of making a signal, for all the
masts and spars had been carried away when the schooner first struck;
and, being dashed about on the reef, had been broken to fragments.  The
group of trees were all close together, so that no signal could be seen
flying from them.

Mr Collinson evidently had great difficulty in keeping up his own
spirits; he did his best, however, for some time.  Employment, he knew,
was a great thing both for himself and the rest.  He therefore advised
that they should build a hut, which would shelter them from the heat in
the day, and, should the rainy season come on, protect them from the
rain.  For this purpose there was an ample supply of timber.  Having
built the hut, they next began to furnish it.  First, they made a table
and stools.  Jack Windy proposed, when the lieutenant was out of
hearing, that they should make a chair for him.  On this they all four
set to work, and, whenever he was away, got on with it, putting it aside
when he returned.  In a couple of days, they had the satisfaction of
presenting him with a comfortable armchair.  It was evident, indeed,
that he needed it, for, in spite of his courage, anxiety was preying
upon him, and his health and strength were failing.  Bill watched him
anxiously.

"It will never do if he gives in," he said to himself, and he thought
how he could best arouse him.

Whenever Mr Collinson was within hearing, Bill talked more cheerfully
than ever.

"You said, sir, the other day, that we should have the rainy season down
upon us before long; if so, we need not be afraid of want of water.  I
was looking at a place at the other end of the island, where there's a
large piece of flat ground, and I thought to myself, if we could dig a
hole in the middle, and just make some small trenches leading into it,
when the rain comes down we might chance to get some water.  Maybe it
won't be very clean, but we could pass it through some sail-cloth, or
some of the linen we found in the carpenter's chest, and so we shall be
able to fill up our casks again."

"A very good idea," said Mr Collinson; "we will try it, at all events."

"And I was thinking, sir, that we might get some fish.  I found a paper
of fish-hooks in the chest, among other things; and there's no doubt we
should find plenty of fish out in the lagoon."

"We will make a raft and try," said Mr Collinson.  "I have been
thinking of it, though, but I did not know any fish-hooks had been
found."

"I used to be a capital hand at fishing, sir, in Portsmouth Harbour,"
said Bill, "and always had more luck than anybody else; so I hope I
shall have here."

While the rest of the party were building a raft, Bill hunted along the
shore, where he found several varieties of shell-fish.

"Some of these will help to keep us alive, if we cannot get fish," he
observed, as he returned with them; "but I have no doubt that some of
them will serve as bait; we will try, at all events."

Next morning, at daybreak, all hands were engaged in constructing a
small raft capable of carrying two or three people.  Some paddles were
formed, and a mast and sail rigged, so that they might even go out as
far as the reef.  Some small line was found that served pretty well for
fishing-lines, when Bill and Jack Windy, getting on the raft, paddled
out to a little distance from the shore.  Bill's line had not been in
the water two minutes before he got a bite, and directly afterwards he
hauled up a fine, big fish.  In two or three minutes more he caught
another; and, curiously enough, he had caught five, while Jack, who was
on the other side of the raft, only caught one.

"Why, you are in luck, Bill," said Jack.

"I don't know how it is," said Bill, "but it's always the case with me.
Whenever I used to go out fishing with anybody else, I always caught
three times as many fish as they did.  At all events, I am thankful that
we have been so fortunate."

In an hour, the raft returned with fish enough to serve the party for a
couple of days.  Their success put them in good spirits, and even Mr
Collinson revived greatly.  A tinder-box having been found in the chest,
they were able to light a fire to cook their fish.  Some they boiled,
and some they roasted on spits.  Mr Collinson, however, who had been as
a midshipman in the South Seas, recollected the way the natives of
several islands cooked their fish.  Having collected a number of leaves,
the fish were wrapped up in them.  A hole was then dug, and a number of
stones, heated in the fire, were thrown into it.  On the top of these
the fish were placed.  More leaves were then thrown in, and the whole
covered in with earth.

Old Grim looked on with a considerable amount of doubt as to the success
of the experiment exhibited in his countenance.  Mr Collinson, however,
told them that he would let them know when it was time to remove the
earth.  In about half an hour he came back, and the earth being cleared
away and the leaves removed, steam arose from the hole, and the fish
were found perfectly cooked and hot.  The whole party agreed that they
had never before tasted more delicious fish.

They had now no longer any fear of starving.  Still, as Mr Collinson
gazed over the ocean, he could not help feeling that they were thus only
prolonging their lives to meet, ultimately, with the same termination.

"We shall soon be getting the scurvy among us," he thought to himself,
"as no man can live on this diet, without vegetables, and escape that
horrible complaint; and even if we do not get the scurvy, we must sink
at last from want of water."

He also felt the life he was compelled to lead far more than did the
others.  They were companions to each, while he was, as it were, alone.
Often and often he went away by himself to the other end of the island
to consider by what means they could escape from their imprisonment.  He
did not forget also to lift up his heart in prayer for guidance and
protection.

"God may find a way for us to escape, though I know not how it is to
be," he said often to himself.

Thus day after day, and week after week, passed away.  Although they had
most carefully husbanded their water, it was now growing very scarce.
Not a drop of rain had fallen by which it could be replenished.

They had wisely covered up the casks with planks and boughs, so as to
keep them from the heat, and to diminish the evaporation as much as
possible.  Still, in that climate, a good deal of water, they knew, must
thus be lost.  From sunrise to sunset, their eyes were consequently cast
over the ocean, in the hopes of discovering a sail; but none appeared,
proving that Mr Collinson was right when he told them that few vessels
were likely to pass that way.  Still hope was kept alive in their
bosoms.

As they saw the water decreasing, they now also began to look out
eagerly for signs of rain; but the sky remained blue as ever, undimmed
by a single cloud.  Day after day the sun rose, and came burning down on
their heads, to sink again into the same unclouded horizon.  Their tank
had long been formed.  Bill especially made frequent visits to it, to
keep it clean.  He was more sanguine than the rest as to the advantage
of the tank.

"I doubt, boy, in spite of all you say, if it will ever hold water, even
if the rain does come down," said old Grim, in his usual tone.  "We are
all doomed men--that's my opinion.  I may be wrong, of course; and I
hope so for your sake, Bill.  It's hard for a young chap like you to
die; but for an old fellow like me, it's no odds to no one."

At length Mr Collinson, in spite of all his efforts to keep up, again
overcome by weakness, was unable to leave the hut.  Bill sat by his
side, doing his utmost to cheer him.  His favourite topic was the drive
from Kingston to Rock Hill Cottage, and the pleasant days he had spent
there.

"And, sir, I am very sure we shall be back there one of these days.  I
don't think, after we have been preserved so long, we shall be left to
perish; though how we are to get away is more than I can say."

On examining the cask, Jack Windy discovered, however, on that very day,
that scarcely two quarts of water remained.

"Sam Grimshaw," he said, addressing old Grim, as he pointed to the cask,
"this is a bad job, but we must not let the lieutenant know of it.  It
will not do to give him less than his usual quantity; and you and I and
the others must manage to go on still shorter commons."

Old Grim readily agreed to this, as did Bill and Tommy--the latter,
perhaps, somewhat unwillingly.  For several days, whenever the
lieutenant, who was suffering from fever, asked for water, it was
brought to him, though the brave fellows felt their own throats parched
and dry, and would only allow themselves just enough to wet their lips
whenever they could no longer bear the thirst.

At length but a pint remained; and with heavier hearts than usual they
went to bed, feeling almost as if they could not hold out more than
another day.  Several times during the night, Bill got up to give Mr
Collinson the water he asked for.  It was a sore trial to him, yet he
would not put the cup to his own lips, though, if his pocket had been
full of gold, he would have given the whole of it for a draught of
water.  By daylight they were up as usual, and Tommy Rebow, who was
out-of-doors the first, came rushing back, singing out--

"Look there!  Look there!"

They hurried to the door, expecting to see a vessel; but no sail was in
sight.  There was, however, in the horizon, a dark cloud, which, though
small, was, after they had watched it for some time, evidently
increasing in size.  On it came, others following, till at length the
whole horizon was dark with clouds.  Eagerly they rushed forth to put
out everything which could hold water, and then rolled up their casks to
the side of the tank which they had formed.  The whole sky, in the mean
time, was overcast with dark clouds.

"There it is!  There it is!" cried Jack, pointing to the sea, on which
the rain was now pouring down.

On it came, like a wall of water.  In a few minutes they were all soaked
to the skin, while they lifted up their open mouths to catch the
refreshing liquid.  Several sails had been washed on shore, and one of
these Grimshaw had employed himself in mending.  He now brought it up
with him, and, calling to his companions, they held it out with one side
over one of the casks.  So furiously did the rain fall, that the cask
was quickly filled.  This was indeed providential, for, in spite of all
the labour that had been bestowed on the tank, the ground was so sandy
that the greater portion of the water ran through it.  As soon, however,
as the rain had ceased, all hands ran and began to bale out a small
quantity which had collected at the bottom.  They saved enough to fill
about half a cask.

"We should have been badly off, lads, if it had not been for my notion,"
exclaimed Grimshaw, triumphantly.  "My sail has done more than your
tank."

"Very true," answered Jack; "but suppose another time the rain was to
come in the night, when we were all asleep?  The tank would get more
than the sail.  I have a notion, too, now the ground has been wetted,
that if another shower comes the tank will fill better."

With the precious fluid they had collected they returned to the hut,
their strength greatly restored from the water they had drunk.

Now, for the first time, Mr Collinson learned to what a fearful state
they had been reduced, and felt very grateful to them for the way in
which they had supplied him, when they so much wanted the water
themselves.  Mr Collinson continued very ill; and often Bill, as he sat
up watching him, thought that he was going to die.

Rain now frequently fell, and the heat became even greater, at times,
than during the bright weather.  At length the rain ceased, and the
water which had been collected began once more to diminish with fearful
rapidity.  A long, dry season was before them, and by what means the
casks were to be replenished no one could tell.



CHAPTER TWELVE.

One night they were all asleep in their hut--for, as there were neither
natives nor animals to be feared, no watch was kept--when suddenly Bill
was awoke by a loud roaring sound.  He could hear the trees above the
hut shaking and rustling as if their heads were knocking together, the
wind whistling among their boughs.  All hands were quickly awake.  A
hurricane had just broken, and appeared to be far more furious than that
when the schooner was wrecked.

"I am afraid the trees will be coming down and crushing us," cried old
Grim, starting up.

"It won't do to take Mr Collinson out now," said Bill; "so, if you are
afraid of their coming down, I'll stay by him."

Grim went to the door, followed by Jack and Tommy.  As they looked out
they could see the whole sea, which had been calm as a mirror when they
went to sleep, now tossed into high waves topped by foam, which came
roaring against the island.  Sometimes, indeed, it seemed as if they
would roll over it, and sweep them and the hut and everything away, for
the reef at the side from which the wind was blowing at that time
afforded but slight shelter.

"Look out, lads; we had better say our prayers, for to my mind our last
days have come," said old Grim, coming back into the hut.

"I'll say my prayers," said Bill, "whether or not the last day is likely
to have come."

"Right, boy," said Mr Collinson, who overheard him.  "If all prayed as
you do, lad, in times of safety, no one need have cause to tremble in
danger.  However, lads, you need not fear that the sea will break over
the island.  Depend upon it, this hurricane is not worse than has often
blown in these latitudes; and if the sea had ever broken over the
island, these tall trees would not be standing.  There is no fear
either, I think, of their coming down.  Our hut, too, seems to stand
securely, thanks to your carpentering, and the strong way in which it
has been built.  Very likely many a larger mansion will be unroofed
to-night by the wind which spares our little hut."

Encouraged by Mr Collinson, his companions again lay down, but of
course to sleep was impossible.  They, therefore, passed the remainder
of the night in conversation, though they had to raise their voices to
make themselves heard.  The more furious hurricanes often do not last
for any length of time.  By the time the sun once more rose, the wind
had abated, and rapidly falling, there was once more a calm.  Bill was
the first to go out of the hut, for the rest of the party, as the noise
ceased, had gradually fallen off to sleep again.  As he looked seaward,
his eyes caught sight of a dark object floating at some distance from
the land.  A second glance only was required to show him that it was a
dismasted vessel.  With the hope that she might perhaps afford them the
means of escaping, he hurried back with the Intelligence into the hut.
The whole party, with the exception of the lieutenant, were quickly on
their feet, rushing out to see the stranger.  Mr Collinson, hearing
their exclamations, in spite of his weakness, rose from his bed and
followed them.

"I should not mind going out on the raft, if either of you will
accompany me," cried Jack Windy.  "It's a long pull, to be sure; but if
we don't get quickly on board she may be drifting by, and be still
farther off than she is now."

"My lads," said Mr Collinson, "I should not like to separate.  I would
therefore rather increase the size of our fishing-raft, and all go off
together.  Those on board will be glad of your assistance, probably;
and, considering that our provisions and water have nearly come to an
end, we cannot be worse off than we shall be in the course of a few
days.  I believe God in His mercy has sent that vessel to our
assistance.  Had she not been dismasted, she would have passed by, and
we could not have got aboard of her."

The lieutenant's proposal pleased all hands.  They immediately set to
work to increase the size of their raft, by placing some broken spars on
either side, which projected a considerable distance fore and aft, and
lashing spars across them.  A couple of fresh paddles were also made,
and a larger one to serve as a rudder.  The sail already used was
sufficient in case a breeze should favour them.  While they were
employed, they constantly looked up to the vessel to see if she was
drifting away, but she seemed rather to get nearer than farther off.  So
eager had they been, that no one had thought of breakfast.  Mr
Collinson, however, insisted that they should take a good meal before
starting.

"We do not know how long it may be before we shall reach the vessel,
and, at all events, it will be pretty hard work," he observed.

By his directions, also, the cask containing the remaining stock of
water was placed in the centre of the raft, and lashed there securely.
Two other casks were placed below the raft to give it greater buoyancy.
As soon as all was ready, Mr Collinson was lifted on to the raft, for
he was as yet too weak to walk.  A seat had been formed for him where he
could sit and steer.  Jack and old Grim paddled in the forepart of the
raft, while Bill and Tommy stood, or rather knelt, farther astern.  A
couple of poles had been provided, with which the two men shoved off the
raft, and then, when they were in deep water, all hands began to paddle
away with might and main.  It was satisfactory to find that they could
go ahead faster than they had expected.  They now began to speculate
what sort of vessel was the one in sight.  They judged her to be of no
great size--a brig, or barque, perhaps; a trader, at all events; but
whether English, American, French, or Spanish, it was hard to say at
that distance.  Unaccustomed of late to much exercise, they found the
work very hard.  The sun, too, came down from the blue sky with intense
heat upon their heads.  Fortunately they had protected them with caps,
or turbans rather, made out of bits of sail-cloth, their own hats having
been lost when they were washed ashore.  They now also felt grateful to
Mr Collinson for having advised them to bring a good supply of water,
and over and over again they dipped their tin mug into it, to satisfy
the burning thirst which the heat produced.

"I wonder if they see us coming," said Bill.  "I should think, by this
time, they would have caught sight of the raft."

"Maybe they have plenty to do to look after themselves," said Jack,
"working away to get up jury-masts, and labouring at the pumps.  Depend
upon it, when we get on board we shall not have an idle life of it."

"If foreigners, they will make us work like galley-slaves, I have a
notion," observed old Grim.  "I think, after all, it would have been
better if we had stayed where we were."

Mr Collinson, who had discovered Grimshaw's character by this time,
made no remark, but let him talk on.  It seemed to those paddling the
raft that the longer they paddled the farther off was the vessel.
Still, urged by their officer, they persevered.  They now began to scan
her more narrowly, but still could not determine of what nation she was.

"We hope, lads, that they will prove friends," said Mr Collinson, "and
at all events when they hear our story, unless they are brutes indeed,
they can scarcely fail to treat us kindly."

"Not so sure of that," growled out old Grim.  "They won't eat us, maybe,
but if they take us on board, it will be to work for them; we may depend
on that."

Such remarks, made occasionally, assisted to pass the time.  At length
they really were convinced that they had got very much nearer the
vessel.  Still no one could be seen on board.  There she lay, floating
quietly on the calm sea, and, except that her masts were gone, not
having apparently suffered much in the hurricane.  On and on they
paddled.  At length, having got within hailing distance of the vessel,
which they now discovered was certainly a brig, Jack shouted out--

"Brig, ahoy!"

No answer came in return.  They drew nearer and nearer.  Again he
shouted, but without receiving a reply.  It now became nearly certain
that no one was on board.  At length they got alongside, and Jack made
fast the raft by a rope which was hanging over the main-chains.  By the
same means he hauled himself up.  As he reached the deck, he gazed
around.  No one was to be seen.

"We have the ship to ourselves, sir," he said, looking over the side.
"Will you come up?"

"Of course," said Mr Collinson.

However, he found it impossible to do so by himself.  The two boys,
therefore, sprung into the chains, and old Grim remained on the raft to
assist him up.  It was not without difficulty that he at length got on
board.  The brig had suffered more than they had at first supposed in
the hurricane.  Her bulwarks on the opposite side had been completely
stove in, her boats had been carried away and her deck swept of
everything.  Altogether, she was in a deplorable condition.  Still, as
some of the rigging remained attached to her, and there were probably
spare spars below, Mr Collinson told the men that he proposed getting
up jury-masts, and endeavouring to carry the vessel to Port Royal.

"It may be a long business, though," he observed; "and first, lads, get
up our cask of water.  That is the most precious thing out here, and we
must not throw a drop away.  Very likely we shall not find an
over-supply on board."

He spoke just in time, for Tommy, fancying that the raft would no longer
be wanted, was on the point of letting it go.

"Hold fast with the raft too," said the lieutenant.  "As we have no
boat, it is possible we may yet find it of use."

The cask having been hoisted up, with a few other articles which had
been brought off, as well as the paddles and mast, the raft was veered
astern.

"As we are afloat again, lads, I must once more take the command," said
Mr Collinson.  "Jack Windy, do you and Bill Sunnyside go below, and
come and report to me what you see.  Grimshaw, sound the well.  After
the battering the brig must have had, she must be making a good deal of
water."

Old Grim soon returned aft, reporting that there was six feet of water
in the hold.

"That looks bad," observed the lieutenant.  "However, some may have got
in when the sea which carried away the masts struck the vessel."

While he was speaking Jack and Bill came hurrying up from below.

"Oh!  Sir," exclaimed Jack, "I don't like the look of things at all.  We
have found two people in the cabin--dead--who, from their looks, I am
pretty certain, died of yellow fever; if so, it will be a bad job for
us."

"It may be so," said Mr Collinson.  "At all events, we shall be wise
then not to live below.  Go forward, and see if there are any people
there.  Bill, do you stay on deck."

Jack disappeared down the fore-hatchway, but directly afterwards
returned with a look of horror.

"There are three poor fellows there, sir.  One of them is alive; but,
from the way he was crying out, I don't think he can live many minutes
longer.  She looks to me like a French vessel--at all events, she is not
English."

This announcement was truly alarming.  Mr Collinson told the men to
carry him down, that he might see the poor sick man.

"We don't want to be mutinous, sir," answered Jack, "but that is what we
won't do.  You are ill already, and more likely to catch the fever than
we are.  I'll carry him down a mug of water, maybe that will do him
good, but it's little use any of us can be to him, I have a notion."

Saying this, Jack again disappeared down the fore-hatch.  He quickly
returned.

"It was of no use, sir," he said.  "No sooner did I put the water to the
poor fellow's lips, than he gave a gasp and off he went.  And now, sir,
there are five of them lying there all dead.  The sooner we get them up
and overboard the better."

Mr Collinson agreed to this, and the two men accordingly went at once
into the cabin, and returned bringing a man, whom from his appearance
they supposed to have been the captain.  Without more ado, they slid the
body overboard.  Thus one after the other was treated.  There was no
time for ceremony of any sort.  For their own safety, the great point
was to get rid of the bodies at once.  A tar-pot having been found, Mr
Collinson then sent the men below, to fumigate the cabin and the
forepeak.

"If we do that thoroughly, I trust that we need not fear the fever," he
observed.  "At all events, let us put our faith in Providence, and pray
that we may be preserved."



CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

There was no time for any one to be idle on board the brig.  She had
received a tremendous shaking in the hurricane, and was leaking
considerably.  It was a wonder, indeed, that she had not gone down.  To
have a chance of safety, jury-masts must be got up before another breeze
should come on, or she might be driven on the reefs and lost.

Jack, having searched the cabin, brought all the papers he could find to
Mr Collinson.  By this he discovered that the brig was the _Beatrix_,
bound from New Orleans to Point a Petre in Dominique.

"Poor fellows!  Some probably died from the yellow fever before the
hurricane came on, and the rest, unable to shorten sail in time, must
have been washed overboard when the masts were carried away, as the wind
struck her," observed Mr Collinson.  "Pray Heaven that we may be
preserved; but I will not deceive you, lads; it will require all your
courage and resolution to carry the vessel safely into port.  We have a
long passage before us, and I will do my best to navigate her, but I can
do little more."

"And we will do our best, Mr Collinson, to obey your orders," answered
Jack Windy.

"Then, Jack, the first thing will be to get hold of a quadrant and
chart, and navigation books.  Without these it will be very guess-work.
Fortunately, I understand the French; so that, if they are found, there
will not be much difficulty in the matter."

As soon as Bill heard this, he hurried below, and soon returned with
several books, a chart, and a quadrant.

"The first thing is to know whereabouts we are," said the lieutenant;
"and, as it must be nearly noon, I will take an observation at once.
You must lift me up, though, lads; I am too weak to stand."

Supported by Jack and Bill Sunnyside, the lieutenant leant against the
companion-hatch, and made the required observation.

"I was only just in time, though," he remarked.  "The sun dipped not two
minutes after I got a sight of him through the instrument.  There," he
said, pointing to a spot on the chart, "is where, by my calculations, we
now are.  If you steer south-west, you will make Cape Saint Antonio, at
the westernmost end of Cuba; but look out for the Colorados, and do not
run the ship upon them.  I tell you this, should anything happen to me."

"But we hope, sir, nothing will happen to you," said Jack, "and that you
will live to carry in the brig to Port Royal, before many weeks are
over."

Mr Collinson replied that he had little hopes himself of ever again
seeing land.

There appeared to be no want of provisions on board, for even in the
cabin a couple of hams and cheese and a cask of biscuit were found, with
several other articles; and on deck was a water-butt, which, having been
tightly bunged and well secured, had escaped being washed away, or
filled with salt water.

All hands now set to work to get up spars from below, and canvas, and
rope.  As the wind came from the northward, they were eager to make sail
without loss of time.  Spars were therefore secured to the stumps of the
masts, and stayed up, and a couple of royals set on them.  Fortunately,
the rudder had escaped injury; and though, as Jack Windy observed, the
brig was under-rigged, she slipped through the water at the rate of a
couple of miles an hour.

"`It's a long lane that has no turning,' I've heard say," said Bill;
"and it's a long voyage, I conclude, that has no ending; and so, I
suppose, if the brig keeps afloat as long, we shall reach port at last."

"You may well say `_if_,'" observed old Grim; "but, to my mind, the
water's coming in faster than we are likely to pump it out; and directly
we get a bit of a sea on, it will play old Harry with us."

Though old Grim grumbled on all occasions, yet he worked as hard as
anybody else, and so nobody minded his grumbling.  The very worst sort
of character is the fellow who grumbles and does not work; and there are
some such on board ships, as well as on shore.

Having got up their temporary masts, they now set to work to build more
permanent ones.  In this, old Grim showed a good deal of skill, and ably
carried out Mr Collinson's directions.  Darkness put an end to their
labours.  They, in the mean time, however, had rigged an awning on deck,
under which Mr Collinson might sleep, for they agreed that it might not
be wise to remain any length of time in the cabin.  Jack and Bill took
one watch, and old Grim and Tommy Rebow the other.

The binnacle as well as the wheel had escaped, and, oil being found,
they were able to light the lamp at night.  Bill had already learned to
take his trick at the helm.  He was therefore able to steer part of his
time during his watch; indeed, there was no great difficulty, in
consequence of the small amount of sail the brig was carrying.  When
Jack came aft to take the helm, Bill remembered what old Grim had said.

"Don't you think it will be as well for us to try to sound the well, and
see if the vessel has made more water?" he asked.

"Yes; hold on for a minute, and I will do it," said Jack.

He came aft again in a short time.

"To my mind, she's leaking faster than is pleasant," he observed.  "If
you will stand to the helm, I will rig the pump, and see if we can't
clear her a little."

In a short time the pump was heard going.  It awoke Mr Collinson.

"I thought it would be safer, sir, to keep the pump going," sung out
Jack; "but don't be concerned about it, sir; it's just on the safe
side."

Jack pumped and pumped away till he could pump no longer; he then went
and roused up old Grim, who grumbled fearfully.

"Come, Grimshaw," he said, "just you take a spell at the pump.  If we
cannot manage to stop the leak, or to get the vessel clear, there's not
much chance of our getting into Port Royal harbour, that I can see."

Old Grim, although he grumbled, pumped away as lustily as Jack; and then
Tommy jumped up and took a spell, and when he was tired he called Bill,
and took his place at the helm; and thus they went on till daylight,
when Grim declared the water was considerably lessened in the hold.
This gave them encouragement.  Poor Mr Collinson felt very much vexed
that he could not help.  The men would not hear of it.

"No, sir, you just lie quiet there.  Our lives depend upon your holding
on, as much as your life depends on our exertions; for if you were to
leave us, how should we ever find our way into port again?"

Jack insisted that the two boys should lie down again, and get some
rest, while he and Grimshaw took it by turns at the pump.  At length
they agreed that by labouring at the pump every alternate hour, they
might keep the leak under.  They now again turned to, to get up
jury-masts.  A sufficient supply of rope was found for the standing
rigging, and by night they had a very respectable foremast stepped and
well secured with a short jib-boom, on which a fore-staysail was set.
The night was spent much as the former had been, though all hands began
to feel very weary with their exertions.  Their only comfort was that
Mr Collinson appeared to be gaining strength.  Although the caboose had
been carried away, there was a stove in the cabin, and in this they were
able to cook their provisions.  Some good tea was found, and other
luxuries, which tended much to restore the lieutenant's health.  The
following day they got up a mainmast, and besides this they rigged a
small mizzen-mast, on which they were able to set a sail to assist in
steering the vessel.  It was rigged just in time, for the wind began to
draw somewhat round to the north-west, making the coast of Cuba, which
at length appeared in sight, a lee shore.  They hauled up, therefore;
but not without some anxiety weathered the Colorados, which they saw not
a couple of miles to leeward of them.

In a short time, Mr Collinson was well enough to take the helm for
several hours each day, giving more time to his small crew to work the
pump and obtain necessary rest.  At length Cape Saint Antonio appeared
in sight; and, weathering it, the course was altered to south-east.
Once more they were out of sight of land.  Mr Collinson had showed all
of them the chart, that they might the better understand where they were
going, and that the progress they had made might keep up their spirits.
They had still a passage of some four or five hundred miles before them;
but though their vessel was somewhat leaky, and even with a good breeze
they could not make more than three or four knots an hour, still, as
Bill observed, "it must some day or other come to an end."

The brig was now about mid-way between the main land of Central America
and Cuba, when the wind, which had been for some time light, dropped
altogether.  In vain old Grim growled; in vain Jack whistled for a
breeze.  The water they had brought on board, as well as that in the
cask, was almost exhausted.

"It will be pretty well time to be getting this cask filled again,"
observed old Grim, as he drew out a tin cupful of water.  "I will just
go down below, and see about getting up another."

He was a considerable time absent, hunting about with a lantern in his
hand.  At length he came up again, with a look of dismay on his
countenance.

"Jack," he said, "do you know I have been hunting from stem to stern,
and not a cask, which looks as if it had water in it, can I find?"

Mr Collinson, who was steering at the time, guessed from the looks of
the men that something was wrong.

"We ought to have economised it more," he observed; "it was wrong in me
not to warn you.  However, we must make the most of what we have got;
and perhaps in another search we may be more fortunate."

"I will have a look," said Jack; "and here, Bill, you come with me."

Jack and Bill hunted about as old Grim had done.  At length, he appeared
under the hatchway, and shouted out--

"Here's a cask of some sort, at all events: it contains liquor, if it
does not contain water."

The cask was got up.

"You must promise me, lads, if that cask contains spirits, not to drink
it.  Let's broach it, however, and see."

On a hole being bored, wine spouted out.

"We should be thankful for this," said Mr Collinson, "it is light
claret, and a small quantity will probably do us all good."

It was arranged that a pint of wine only should be taken by each of them
every day.  This would save the consumption of water.

"I would rather it had been water," said old Grim; "though, to be sure,
the wine is not bad, and I should not mind if it had been a little
stronger."

The calm continued.  The sea was like glass.  Chips of wood, even some
feathers, thrown overboard, did not move from the side of the vessel.
There she lay, her battered sides reflected in the mirror-like surface
of the ocean.  Now her head slowly moved round in one direction, now in
another, but no progress was made.  At night they lay down, hoping that
the morning would bring a breeze; but when the morning sun began its
upward course, his rays getting hotter and hotter, till the pitch in the
seams bubbled and hissed, on he went, passing almost overhead, till he
again glided down into his ocean bed in the west.



CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

Day after day, the brig floated on the motionless ocean.  The water was
almost exhausted, so also was the cask of claret.  There was still some
food remaining, but, without water, it would be of little avail in
keeping those on board the brig alive.  Grimshaw had hitherto kept up
his spirits, as well as the rest of the party, but he and Tommy Rebow
declared that they would work no more, that the vessel was doomed to
destruction, and that sink she would in the course of a few days.

"But before that time, perhaps, a breeze will spring up, and we shall be
slipping along merrily through the water," observed Sunshine Bill.

"We shall be slipping down to the bottom, rather," said Old Grim.
"Though we have been pumping away till we have nearly pumped our arms
off, the water has been gaining upon us for the last two days, to my
knowledge.  It comes in all round the vessel, and human power can no
longer keep her afloat."

Even Mr Collinson looked graver than he had done for some time.  He was
now able to take an occasional spell at the pumps, and, as if to shame
Grimshaw, he took hold of the brake.  After working away for some time,
he sounded the well His countenance showed that there was more water in
the vessel than he liked.

"My lads," he said at length, "I am afraid, after all, that we shall be
unable to keep the brig afloat.  At all events, in case she should go
down, it will be wise to have some means of saving our lives.  Our raft
is small for a long voyage: we will, therefore, haul it up alongside,
and enlarge and strengthen it.  It will enable us to keep afloat till
some vessel passes, though I cannot promise you that we should be able
to reach Jamaica on it."

Several empty bottles had been found in the cabin, and into these all
the water that remained was put, as was also the claret into others.
They, with the remainder of the biscuit and meat which had been found,
were put ready to place on the raft.  In the mean time, following Mr
Collinson's directions, they increased and strengthened the raft.  This
being done, it was once more dropped astern.  The heat and the anxiety
they underwent was now telling on all hands.  Mr Collinson again became
ill; indeed, none of the party were in a much better condition.  Still
they had to keep their watch at night as usual.  Bill was forward,
looking out over the ocean, and wishing that a breeze would come, when
he cried out--

"See!  See!  She's coming towards us!  I see her white canvas shining in
the moonlight.  She's coming on fast.  Look, Jack, look!  Can't you make
her out?"

Jack Windy at first declared he could see nothing, but when Bill more
clearly described the vessel, he also asserted that he saw her.  Yet not
a breath of wind had reached them.  On came the stranger.

"Shall we call up Mr Collinson?" asked Bill.

"No, no, boy, I can't make it out.  Don't say anything.  I fancied I
heard a voice hail us; yet I don't know.  Why, there she goes, not two
cables' length off from us.  I could almost declare I saw the people on
her deck.  Yet I have never before seen a vessel sailing head to wind,
as some say they do, or in a calm like this."

Rapidly the vessel glided away to the east, till she was lost to sight.

"Boy, this is the strangest thing I ever saw in my life," said Jack
Windy.  "It's not a thing I should like to talk about--no more will you,
I have a notion--yet both of us saw it, I'll swear to that."

On calling Grimshaw and Tommy to relieve the deck, they could not resist
telling them what they had seen.

"Maybe we shall see something of the same sort," said old Grim.  "I
don't like those sort of things, but I am not surprised."

When daylight broke, old Grim declared that he also had seen a vessel
passing rapidly by, and disappearing to the east.  They determined to
tell Mr Collinson.

"I am not surprised," he answered, "at what you tell me, my lads; but I
have to assure you that the vessels you think you have seen have been
all the time inside your own brains.  Bill thought he saw a vessel, and
that made Jack think he had seen one; and when they told Grimshaw and
Tommy Rebow, it made them fancy the same; but, depend upon it, you have
not, in reality, seen a vessel of any sort.  If God should wish to
relieve us, He will send one in His own good time; but if not, He has
His reasons for leaving us alone."

"That I am sure He will have, sir," said Bill.

They waited the whole of the day, anxiously looking out for the sight of
a breeze, but still round them was the same unbroken surface of water,
blue and shining in the day, and dark and leaden at night.  The water in
their cask was decreasing fearfully; their provisions, also, were nearly
exhausted.  Though they kept lines overboard, and Bill was constantly
fishing, no fish were caught.  At last they gave up even attempting to
catch them.  As their strength decreased from want of food and water,
they were less able to work the pump.  The consequence was, the leak
again gained upon them.  All but Bill began to despair.  He, true to his
principles, kept up his spirits.

"Well, Bill, I do envy you," said Tommy Rebow; "but your hoping is of no
use.  If the vessel does not go down, we shall all be starved in a few
days, so it will make but little difference."

"I don't say that," said Bill.  "A breeze will some day or other spring
up, and then, in this narrow sea, some vessel must surely pass us, and
it's not likely that they would leave us to perish; and if not, we may
still be able to carry the vessel to some land or other, even if we
can't carry her to Jamaica, where we shall find provisions and water.  I
think it's wrong, therefore, to despair.  Let's trust in God.  He has
taken care of us up to this time, do not you think He can take care of
us still longer?  He can't be tired of looking after us, and if He cared
for us once, He will care for us still."

Still neither Tom nor the rest of the party could recover their spirits.
At length one night it was Jack and Bill's watch.  Jack had sat down
and dropped off to sleep, for he had little strength remaining, and all
his spirits were gone.  Bill, however, kept awake.  He was standing at
the helm, for though there was no wind, the sails were set ready to
catch the first breath of air which might come to them.  As he was
looking round, he thought he saw a dark line on the water.  It rapidly
approached.

"Jack!  Jack!" he shouted out, "here comes the breeze!"

But poor Jack was fast asleep, and fancied when he heard Bill's voice
that he was only dreaming.  Again Bill shouted.  The vessel began to
lift with the heaving sea.  Jack sprang to his feet.

"A breeze!  A breeze!" he shouted out, running to the sheets; but at
that instant a strong blast struck the vessel, and before the rest of
the crew could come on deck, with a loud crash both the masts were
carried away, and the brig lay as helpless as at first on the water.

With great exertions, however, the spars and sails were saved, and got
inboard.  Still, it was evident that nothing could be done that night,
and they must wait till the wind abated, before they could again get up
their masts and sails.

"We have been waiting for this breeze, lads," said Mr Collinson, "and
now it has come, we ought to make the best use we can of it.  Even if we
can rig a rag of a sail forward, it will help us along."

Though weak and ill, Mr Collinson set the example, and at length a
short spar with a royal was fixed to the stump of the foremast.  Aided
by this, the vessel ran on before the wind.  The breeze, however, though
moderate at first, increased towards daylight, and the vessel now began
to pitch and roll greatly.  In the morning, when old Grim, who acted as
cook, sent Tommy for some water, he returned with a look of dismay.  Not
a drop remained in the cask.  This was sad news.

"Give me a lantern," said Bill; "and, Tommy, you and I will have another
hunt, and see if there is another cask to be found."

"It's of no use," observed old Grim; "I hunted everywhere, and could not
find one."

"Maybe we shall be more fortunate," said Bill; and, taking the lantern,
he and Tommy went down into the hold.  The water was washing about
fearfully inside, and he could not help fearing that a good deal more
was now coming in than during the calm.  There was some danger, too, of
their being struck by various articles which were tumbling about in the
hold, having broken loose, or been washed up by the water.

"See!  See!" cried Bill.  "Hold up the lantern!  Why, that looks like a
water-cask!"

They waited till the vessel seemed steady for a moment; then, making a
rush together, they caught hold of the cask.  It was but a small one,
such as was used to bring the water off, in boats, from the shore.  It
was full: there was no doubt about that.  Having secured it under the
hatchway, Bill told Tommy to go and call Jack or old Grim to assist them
in getting it up.  Jack soon came down with a tackle, and the cask was
hoisted up on deck.  It was quickly opened.  Mr Collinson praised Bill
very much for finding it.

"And now, lads," he said, "we must consider this worth its weight in
gold, and more than that, too."

The men promised to husband it with the greatest care.  All hands now
went below, to search for more provisions, while Mr Collinson remained
at the helm.  A few onions were discovered, and another small cask of
biscuits, but they were somewhat damaged by the salt water.  Nothing
else eatable could be found.  Even during the short time they had been
below, the wind had increased considerably, and the vessel was now
tumbling about more than ever.  Jack's face, too, looked unusually long
as he went up to Mr Collinson.

"I am afraid, sir, the brig won't swim many hours longer, for, as she
rolls about, the water comes pouring in on both sides."

"I was afraid it would be so," said Mr Collinson.  "We must have
another spell at the pumps, then."

"Very little use in that, sir," said old Grim.  "I don't think if we
were to pump spell after spell we should keep the vessel afloat.  To my
mind, if there's any shore near, we should steer directly for it, and
even then I doubt if we should reach it."

Under the present circumstances, Grim could venture to speak to an
officer with more freedom than on ordinary occasions.  Although Mr
Collinson wished to keep up the men's spirits, he could not help seeing
that they were right.  Indeed, from the peculiar motion of the vessel,
in a short time he began to fear that she would not float even as long
as they had expected.  All this time the raft had been towing astern.
It was well-built, or it would have come to pieces from the tossing
about it was now receiving.  Should the vessel go down, it was their
only hope.  Still the lieutenant determined to try and save her; and,
going to the pump, he began working away himself.  Jack followed him,
and even old Grim took a spell.  He worked on for some time.

"It's of no use," he said at length; "I am sure we are not keeping the
water under."

It was too evident that he was right, as it came in faster than ever.
Mr Collinson now ordered them to bring the water-cask, and their scanty
supply of provisions, and a few other articles up on deck, ready to
lower down on the raft.



CHAPTER FIFTEEN.

Although the water was rushing into the vessel with a rapidity which
gave no hope of her floating much longer, the wind was at the same time
going down.  There was thus some prospect of their lives being
preserved, uncertain though they felt it must be.  Every now and then,
either Jack or Grimshaw went below to ascertain the progress the water
was making.  At length Grim came hurrying up.

"No time to lose, sir; I am very sure of that!" he shouted out.  "If we
don't look sharp, the brig will be sinking under us!"

"Haul up the raft, then," said Mr Collinson.  "The boys must go first
on it."

It was hauled up under the stern, and Bill and Tommy lowered themselves
down; Grimshaw followed, and Mr Collinson and Jack then lowered down
the various articles they had collected to take with them, which Grim
and the boys secured as well as they could.  Mr Collinson told Jack to
descend, and, casting an eye round, he saw that nothing was left behind.
He himself then slid down upon the raft, and was caught by his
companions.  He had scarcely calculated how weak he was; and, had it not
been for the men, he would have fallen into the water.  His eye had been
on the stern of the vessel.  He saw it give a peculiar movement, lifting
upwards.

"Cut!  Cut!" he shouted.

Jack was just in time to cut the tow-rope, and with a long pole to shove
off, before, the vessel's stern lifting high in the air, she went down
bows foremost.  Then, getting out the paddles, they paddled away quickly
to avoid being drawn down in the vortex.

"Well, we are unlucky!" cried old Grim, as he saw the vessel go down.

"I think rather we are very fortunate," said Bill.  "Suppose we had not
had the raft, where should we be now?  We ought to thank Him who has
preserved us, and not to cry out that we are unlucky."

Bill had always some answer to make to old Grim's growls.

"You are right, boy," said Mr Collinson.  "I calculate that we are not
more than fifty miles from the American coast, if so much; and if the
wind comes from the north, as I think it is likely to do, we shall be
able to reach it in a couple of days or so: besides which, we are nearly
certain to fall in with some vessel before long, even if we cannot reach
the shore."

Though the lieutenant made these remarks, he could not help confessing
to himself that there were still many dangers to be encountered.  The
wind having gone down sufficiently, they were able to hoist their sail,
and to steer towards the nearest point of the American coast, which lay
about south-west from them.

The lieutenant felt their condition even more than his companions.  He
had been indulging in the hope of sighting Jamaica in the course of a
few days: and now he could not tell when he might get back to that
island.  He calculated, too, that the _Lilly_ would have returned there,
and that his friends would have become very anxious at not seeing him.
He felt far more for Ellen Lydall than for himself.

For some time the raft glided on, but the wind was gradually falling,
and before the sun went down there was again a perfect calm.  Although
it could be urged on by paddles, yet, weak and fatigued as all hands
were, but slow progress could be made in that way, while neither water
nor provisions would hold out till they could reach the land.  The sea
went down with the wind, and the raft became now perfectly tranquil,
enabling those on it to go to sleep without fear of being washed off.
One at a time only remained awake to keep watch, though there was not
much object in doing so, as, during the calm, no vessel could come near
them.  At length the sun again rose and glided through the blue sky, in
which not a cloud appeared to give indication of a change of weather.
His rays beat down on the heads of the seamen on the raft, making them
long for a shady place.

Hour after hour the calm continued, and there they floated in the
centre, as it were, of a vast mirror, covered by a blue canopy.  Very
little was said now by any of the party.  Even Bill could scarcely sing
a verse of a song, though he made several attempts, to keep up his own
spirits and those of his companions.  Hour after hour passed by; the
night again came.  Often, during the period of darkness, those on the
raft thought they saw vessels approaching, but as they drew near they
vanished into thin air.  Sometimes, too, they declared they heard voices
shouting to them.  Even Mr Collinson could scarcely persuade himself,
at times, when he heard his companions talking of the vessels drawing
near, that he did not also see them.  They seldom moved, except to hand
the cup of precious water round one to the other, that they might
moisten their lips.  Oh, how precious that water was now becoming!

The last drop was at length exhausted, and for some time they had not
taken sufficient to quench their thirst.  That thirst increased till it
became almost intolerable.  What would they not have given for one
single bottle-full?  Mr Collinson charged them on no account to be
tempted to drink the salt water.

"Madness and death will be the consequence, if you do," he observed.

Still, with difficulty they could refrain from taking the tempting fluid
on which they floated.  As morning approached, Bill, who was standing
up, declared that he felt a light breeze on his cheeks.  It lasted for a
short time again.  Then again it came, and, as the sun rose, it could be
seen playing, here and there, over the water.

"And see!  See!  There comes a sail!" cried Jack.

He pointed to the westward.  There, just rising above the horizon, were
seen the topgallant sails of a ship.  How eagerly did they watch her!
She was standing towards them; there was no doubt about that.  On she
came, but the wind was light, and she advanced but slowly.  They had but
a few damaged biscuits and onions remaining.  Should she not perceive
them, starvation might be their fate.  The time went by.  It had never
appeared to pass so slowly.  Still she was getting nearer.  Her topsails
gradually rose above the water; then her courses were seen; and,
finally, the hull itself rose in sight.

During this time, the sun was rising in the heavens, and struck down
upon their heads with terrific fury, increasing the fearful thirst from
which they were suffering.  It increased their longing for her approach.
She seemed to come on very, very slowly; indeed, sometimes they felt as
if they could scarcely hold out till she could get up to them.

"I don't think, after all, she will pass near enough to see us,"
observed old Grim.

They watched her again for some time.

"Yes!  Yes!  She's altering her course.  She is steering directly for us
now!" exclaimed Jack.  "We're seen!  We're seen!" he and Bill shouted in
chorus.

Mr Collinson had made no remark.  He had been examining the vessel, and
felt sure, from her appearance, that she was French.  She was a
flush-deck vessel, probably a privateer.  Still their lives might be
preserved, as those on board would scarcely have the barbarity to refuse
to receive them.  He said nothing, however, to his companions.

On came the vessel.  As she approached, her topsails were clewed up, and
a boat was lowered.  The boat approached.  Their wretched appearance,
suffering from burning thirst and hunger, might have excited the
compassion of even the most hardhearted.  The people in the boat shouted
to them.

"They're Frenchmen!" cried old Grim.  "They're somewhat better than
Spaniards, that's all I can say in their favour!"

As the boat drew near, the party on the raft pointed to their lips.

"Water!  Water!" they gasped out.

By this time, no one could speak with clearness.  Even Jack Windy, who
was the strongest, could scarcely stand upright on the raft.

"Oh!  Pauvres garcons!  Vite!  Vite!"

Mr Collinson understood the words.  It showed him that the men in the
boat could feel for their sufferings.  They were soon lifted into it,
with the few articles which they had brought with them, and the boat
then quickly pulled towards the ship.  They were hoisted on board, for
they could not help themselves.  Mr Collinson was allowed to rest on a
gun-carriage, near the gangway, while the rest of the party were left
standing or leaning against the bulwarks.  Bill and Tommy sunk down from
weakness on the deck.  The French seamen, however, immediately brought
them up a jug of water, of which they eagerly drank.

"Well, this is sweet and nice!" said Bill, as he took the cup from his
mouth.

The water, though not over-cool, greatly revived them all; and the
Frenchmen stood by smiling, till they had emptied the contents of the
jug.  At length, a tall, stout man, with a very dark complexion, but
who, by the uniform he wore, appeared to be an officer, came up to them.

"Who are you?" he demanded in a somewhat rough voice.  "But I need not
ask that: I see, by your dress, that you are of the English marine.  But
where did you come from?  How did you get on the raft?"

Mr Collinson briefly replied that they had been wrecked, and finding a
brig which had been deserted by her crew, they had got on board her; but
she had afterwards sunk, leaving them floating on the raft.

"What vessel was she?--Oh yes, I understand," observed the officer; and
then, turning to the men, he asked, "To what ship do you belong?"

"The _Lilly_, sir," said Jack, without hesitation.

"The _Lilly_?  Why, that's the corvette we fell in with last week, away
to the westward.  You said she was wrecked," he added, turning to Mr
Collinson, and speaking in somewhat broken English, though sufficiently
clear to make his meaning understood.

"I said that we were wrecked," replied Mr Collinson.  "I did not say
that our own ship was wrecked."

"In what vessel, then, were you cast away?" asked the officer.

"In a prize we had taken," answered Mr Collinson.  "We were ordered to
bring her round to Jamaica; but, being caught in a hurricane, we were
driven on a reef in the neighbourhood of the Tortugas."

"I thought so!" exclaimed the officer, with an oath.  "She was our
consort.  You would have had a harder matter to take us, let me tell
you.  However, it's a satisfaction to find that you lost her.  We heard
that she was captured.  However, it's a good reason why we should treat
you as prisoners;--as such you must consider yourselves."

"We must submit, if so you determine it," said Mr Collinson; "but our
case is a hard one."

"Not harder than that of the poor fellows who lost their vessel, and are
now in one of your prisons in Jamaica."

With this remark, the mulatto officer returned to his companions, to
whom he seemed to be imparting the information he had obtained.  At
length another officer came up to Mr Collinson, and addressed him in
French.

"I am the surgeon of the ship," he said.  "I see that you are ill, and
almost worn out; and, although you are an Englishman and an enemy, you
must let me prescribe for you.  Come down, therefore, into my cabin,
where you can obtain some rest, which I see you greatly require."

"I accept your offer gratefully," answered Mr Collinson; "and I must
beg also that you will attend to the wants of my companions."

"It is right in you, monsieur, to think of your men," said the surgeon;
"and I will gladly do as you wish.  I am afraid that both you and they
will be subjected to some unpleasant treatment, for we have some
terribly rough people on board, both among the officers and forward."
He said this in a low voice.  "I will, however, do my best for you."

The seamen at length made signs to old Grim, and Jack, and the boys,
that they might go down below.  Some seamen then spread out four
hammocks in the fore part of the ship, and signed to them that they had
better lie down and rest themselves--a proposal which they willingly
accepted.

"I suppose they will give us some food," said Jack.

"They cannot fancy we can live upon water and air," observed Bill; "so I
dare say, by-and-by, they will."

"They seem to carry on things in a rum man-of-war fashion," observed
Grimshaw, pointing along the deck.

The larger portion of the crew appeared to be below, and they were all
seated about the decks, some with cards, others with dice, so absorbed
in their games that they took no notice of the newcomers.  Some few were
mending their clothes, or manufacturing various articles; but the
greater number of those who were not gambling were talking vehemently,
"making all sorts of grimaces," as Grim observed; now and then touching
the hilts of the long knives they wore in their belts, as if they were
about to start up and stick them into each other.  Some were laughing,
others uttering strange cries; the losers were swearing, and the gainers
shouting with glee.  On one side, although there was scarcely room for a
tall man to stand upright, a fiddler was playing, with several men
dancing round him; while another party were collected round a man who
was singing, at the top of his voice, a song which seemed to afford his
auditors infinite amusement.  In spite of the strange Babel of sounds,
however, the weary seamen and two boys at length fell back and dropped
off asleep.



CHAPTER SIXTEEN.

The ship by which Mr Collinson and his companions had been rescued was
the _Poisson Volant_, a privateer fitted out at Port a Petre, in
Dominique.  She had had a long run of ill-luck, so the surgeon told him,
and this had put her officers in very bad humour.  The dark, stout man
was her captain, of whom the surgeon seemed to stand greatly in awe.

"He would make no scruple of shooting any one through the head who
offends him, and as I have no fancy to be treated in that way, I
purpose, if I can once get on shore, to leave the ship."

This was not very pleasant information; but Mr Collinson hoped to be
able to escape giving the tyrant any cause of offence.  Bill Sunnyside
was very hungry, as were his companions, when they fell asleep.  He kept
dreaming about feasts, and then at length he thought he was once more at
home, and that his mother had got a capital supper ready for him, and
that she and his brothers and sisters were collected round the table,
and he thought that he himself was, somehow or other, kept out of the
room.  The smell of the sausages, however, came through a chink in the
door, and made him feel still more hungry.  He could not open the door,
and he could not cry out to ask any one to let him in.  Still, there
they all sat, with the sausages bubbling away on the table, and the
kettle hissing on the hearth, and a large loaf of bread and a big pat of
butter, all ready, waiting to be eaten.  At length he made a run, and
resolved to burst open the door, when he heard old Grim sing out, and he
found that he had, somehow or other, tumbled over him.  His nostrils
were at the same time assailed with savoury odours, and he saw men
coming from the galley-fire with pans and dishes from which wreaths of
steam were ascending.  The mess-tables were quickly spread, and the men
began their dinners.  Bill and his companions watched them for some
minutes, and could then stand it no longer, but getting up, they came to
the nearest mess-table, pointing to their mouths.  The Frenchmen
laughed, and then invited them to join them.

"It was the smell of their dinner made me dream," thought Bill, as he
thankfully accepted the dish of soup and meat which was handed to him.
Never had he eaten a more delicious mess; hunger, indeed, increased its
flavour, and he did his best to show the Frenchmen the satisfaction it
afforded him.  They seemed much amused when he held out his bowl for
more.  Of course, Bill could not understand what was said, as none
appeared to speak English.  When dinner was over, Bill and his
companions were allowed to lie down again out of the way, on the
hammocks, and were once more quickly asleep.  They woke up again at
supper-time, when Bill felt himself perfectly ready for another meal.
The next day, however, the Frenchmen looked somewhat sulkily at them,
and some hard biscuit and water was given them for breakfast; while at
dinner, instead of being invited to the messes, a bowl of soup was
placed before them, from which, by signs, they understood they were to
help themselves.  The next day their bedding was taken away, and they
found that they had only the hard deck to lie upon.  Grimshaw, as may be
supposed, grumbled greatly.

"We must bear it, however," said Bill.  "The voyage will come to an end
before long; then, I suppose, if the English have got hold of any
Frenchmen, these people will be glad to give us up, and get them back
instead.  I wonder how Mr Collinson is getting on?  I hope they don't
treat him as they do us."

Although Grimshaw grumbled, he could not help acknowledging that they
were all gaining health and strength, with the rest they were enjoying;
and in the course of three days they were so much better, that they
could manage to crawl on deck.  The wind had been very light, so they
had made but little progress.  As they were able to get into a shady
place, the fresh air revived them.  Bill looked aft, anxiously looking
for Mr Collinson, but he did not appear.  When he attempted to go aft
himself, one of the seamen made signs to him that he was to remain where
he was.  The ship was running some three or four knots only through the
water, with all sail set.

"I say, Tommy," said Bill to his companion, "there's another chance of
our escaping a French prison.  What do you think if the _Lilly_, or some
other ship of war, was to fall in with us?  That would be a happy
thing."

"I don't know," answered Tommy.  "Perhaps they would cut our throats and
throw us overboard, just in revenge.  They look as if they were up to
anything of that sort."

"No no, Tommy!  Don't be cast down.  I would run the risk of that, for,
rough as they are, I don't think they would do anything as bad as that."

At length the town of Point a Petre, in the island of Dominique,
appeared in sight.  All this time they had not seen Mr Collinson, nor
had they been able to hear anything about him.  When the ship came to an
anchor, they were ordered below.  After some time they were called on
deck, and they then saw that a French boat with six soldiers was
alongside.

"You Englishmen, get into that boat!" shouted the mulatto captain.

They of course obeyed.  As soon as they were in her, they saw Mr
Collinson, who had just then come up on deck, look over the side.

"Glad, sir, to see that no harm has happened to you," shouted Jack.  "We
hope you are coming with us."

"I believe I am, my men; and thanks to you for your kind wishes,"
answered Mr Collinson, who just then turned round to shake hands with
the surgeon.  Directly afterwards, he came down the side into the boat.

As soon as they landed, they were taken up before a military officer,
who cross-questioned them, by means of an interpreter, addressing Mr
Collinson directly in French.

"You are to be sent into the interior," said the interpreter, "and you
will there remain, till the war is concluded."

Their examination being over, they were taken away by the guards who had
them in charge.  Mr Collinson had, fortunately, his purse in his pocket
with a few gold pieces.

"Now, my men," he said, "I wish to lay this out to the best advantage of
us all.  If I spend it in clothing, which we all very much want, we
shall have nothing to buy food.  I will, therefore, reserve it for an
emergency."

The lieutenant, however, supplied the party with hats, which they very
much wanted.  Though shoes would have been pleasant, they could still do
without them.  Their clothes were, as may be supposed, in a sadly
tattered condition.  To obtain new ones, was out of the question.  Their
guards, however, allowed them to go to the barber's, where, their hair
being cut, they looked a little less like Robinson Crusoes than they had
hitherto done.  They were then marched to the prison, and were all shut
up in a room, with no greater indulgence shown to Mr Collinson than to
them.

"It's a great shame!" exclaimed Jack Windy, "to treat our officer in
this way.  It's all very right and proper for us, but they ought to show
more respect, that they ought."

"Never mind, my lad," said Mr Collinson.  "I thank you for your good
feeling, and more faithful, kind fellows I could not wish to be cast
among."

Next day the gaoler came in, and told them they were to prepare for a
journey, and in a short time they were brought out of prison, at the
door of which they found four mules waiting to carry them, with a guard
of black soldiers.

"You speak French?" said a man, addressing the first lieutenant.  "Tell
your people, then, that each of the men is to mount a mule, while one
will serve for the two boys.  You take the other."

The animals were far from gaily caparisoned, straw packs on their backs
serving the place of saddles.  The boys quickly climbed up to the back
of their beast, while the lieutenant and the two men mounted theirs.

"Forward!" was the word given, and they moved on, the black soldiers,
grinning and gabbling negro French, running by their sides.  They were
soon out of the town, and proceeding along a dusty road, with
coffee-plantations on either side, no trees remaining to shelter them
from the sun.  At length, however, they got into a wilder part of the
country, where the dense tropical vegetation occasionally afforded them
shade.  After some miles, they came in sight of a large country house.
Hot, thirsty, and weary, they turned their eyes towards it, wishing that
some of the inmates might have the charity to invite them to stop and
rest.

"If you will tell me what to say, sir, I will go and ask," said Bill,
"if the guards will let me."

Mr Collinson advised him simply to point to his mouth, and to make
signs that he was very weary.  The guards, who were entertaining,
perhaps, the same ideas as their prisoners, without difficulty let Bill
go off, while they drew up in the shade near the house.  In a short time
Bill returned.

"It's all right, sir," he said.  "There was a tall young lady came out,
and she looked so kindly at me when I spoke; and when I pointed to you
all here, she made signs that we were to come up to the house."

Mr Collinson, on this, explained to the guards what the boy said, and
the whole party proceeded to the wide steps which led up to the
entrance-door, under a deep verandah.  The young lady was there.  Mr
Collinson took off his hat, and explained in his best French who they
were.

"Oh!" she said, "my father will be at home presently, and he, I am sure,
will gladly afford you any assistance in his power."

On this they all dismounted, the black soldiers taking the mules round
to the stables by the side of the house, allowing their prisoners to
follow the young lady into the interior.  She led them into a large airy
room, covered with fine matting, the only furniture consisting of
several cane sofas and chairs, and a long table down the centre.  She
then clapped her hands, and a negro servant appeared.

"He will attend on you," she said, "while I go and see that a meal is
prepared for you.  My father will, I hope, soon return, and will, I am
sure, be glad to afford you every assistance in his power."

The negro looked at Mr Collinson with a somewhat doubtful air, but the
few fragments of gold lace remaining on his coat showed him that he was
an officer.

"Would monsieur like to refresh himself?" he asked.  "A bath is at his
service, and, pardon me, monsieur, perhaps a fresh suit of clothes would
be pleasant in which to sit down to dinner."

"Indeed, thank you," answered Mr Collinson, "but I must beg you at the
same time to look after my people.  We all have gone through many
hardships, and I dare say they will enjoy a bath and some clean clothes
as much as I shall."

"Yes, yes!  I will look after them," answered the negro, in French; not
very good French, by-the-by, but Mr Collinson understood it.  "I must,
however, obey my young mistress first, and attend to you; so, if
monsieur pleases, come along."

Saying this, the negro led the way out into a garden, where was a
building with a marble bath, through which the water ran from a copious
stream.  Leaving the lieutenant, he soon returned with a supply of light
clothing, such as is usually worn in that climate.  The lieutenant could
not help feeling, when he returned into the dining-room, that he was far
more presentable than he had been before.  On looking out of the window,
he saw Jack and Grimshaw with the two boys, coming along laughing
heartily, dressed in negro costume of shirt and trousers.  Considering
the heat of the weather, their clothing was ample.  Though it had not a
nautical cut, any one looking at them would easily have discovered that
they were British seamen, as they rolled along in their usual
happy-go-lucky style.



CHAPTER SEVENTEEN.

Mr Collinson had not been many minutes in the dining-room, when the
young lady, accompanied by an elderly-looking Frenchman with white hair,
entered the room.

"You are welcome, sir, to my house," he said; "and I am happy to receive
you.  I lately received great kindness from your countrymen, when I was
in your situation, a captive in their hands, and I am thankful to have
an opportunity of returning it."

Mr Collinson made a suitable reply, adding that it was a sad thing that
peaceable people should be made prisoners, and inconvenienced because
their nations happened to be at war.

"Yes, indeed," added the Frenchman; "but don't speak about it.  It was
our Emperor who set the example."

"How long ago was it since the circumstance occurred?" asked Mr
Collinson.

"But a few weeks ago," answered the Frenchman; "indeed, we have only
returned home about ten days.  My daughter and I were on our way from
France, when our vessel was captured by an English corvette, and carried
into Port Royal.  The captain of the English ship treated us with great
kindness, as, indeed, did several of the inhabitants of the place,
especially a military officer commanding a regiment there, with whom I
was formerly acquainted when I was in the army.  We, on that occasion,
met as enemies, but we parted as friends, and I was very glad to renew
my acquaintance."

The English lieutenant listened to this account with great interest.

"And what was the name of the ship by which your vessel was captured?"
he asked.

"She was a corvette, I know," he answered.  "Yes, yes, I remember; her
name is the _Lilly_, and her captain is Mr Trevelyan."

"That was indeed a curious coincidence, for it is the ship to which I
belong," said Mr Collinson.

"The captain is indeed a kind and generous man!" exclaimed the young
lady with enthusiasm.  "And, now I think of it, how very strange!
Surely we heard of you from Colonel Lydall.  They were very anxious
indeed about you.  Some, in truth, thought you were lost, but Miss
Lydall would not believe that; yet often she was very sad.  Now I
understand it all."

As may be supposed, after this information, Mr Collinson had numberless
questions to ask.  Sometimes he was grieved at the thoughts of the
anxiety Miss Lydall was suffering; at other times, he could not help
feeling grateful that her affection for him was undiminished.

While they were still speaking, a handsome repast was placed on the
table, brought in by several black slaves.

"We will have your people in," said the French gentleman.  "You will not
object to their sitting at table, for I cannot ask them to join the
black slaves."

"Certainly not," said Mr Collinson; "though I do not believe they would
object to that.  Probably, indeed, they would be happier by themselves."

However, the Frenchman insisted that they should come in.  The boys'
eyes sparkled as they found themselves seated at the table, for it was
seldom or never they had seen so fine a repast.

"Won't I have a good tuck-out!" said Tommy Rebow, as he eyed the viands.
"In case our nigger-guards should be inclined to starve us, we may as
well take in enough to last for some days."

All hands did ample justice, as may be supposed, to the repast, the
black soldiers being fed, in the mean time, in another part of the
house.

At length the sergeant of the party appeared at the door, and summoned
his prisoners.

"I have not asked your name," said Mr Collinson, turning to his host.
"I should like to remember one of whom I shall always think with
gratitude."

"My name is Mouret, and my daughter's name is Adele; but don't suppose
that I shall lose sight of you.  Every influence I possess with the
authorities I will exert in your favour, though I fear that is not very
great."

The sergeant becoming impatient, the English party had to take a hurried
farewell.

"Good-bye, monsieur; much obliged for your good dinner!" cried Jack
Windy, as Monsieur Mouret kindly shook him and his companions by the
hand.  "We will not forget you, and be sure to give you a call, if we
come this way again."

The party were once more on their road.

"Here, sir, the nigger servant gave us these bundles to look after,"
said Jack.  "They're our duds, I suppose.  One is yours, sir, and the
rest ours."

"Take care of them," said Mr Collinson.  "They may be useful to show
who we are, should there be any doubt about the matter."

They pushed on till it was dark, as fast as the negro soldiers could
march, the sergeant being anxious, apparently, to make up for the time
they had spent at Monsieur Mouret's house.  They reached a village at
length, where he told them they must stop.

"Is there an inn to which we can go?" asked Mr Collinson.

The negro grinned.

"No, monsieur," he answered; "but quarters will be assigned to you."

After being kept waiting for some time, the sergeant, who had gone away,
returned, and told them to follow.

"Here's a fine place," he said, pointing to a tumbledown barn, or shed
rather; "but I will see if we can get some straw, and something for
supper.  You will not require much, after the good dinner you enjoyed."

In vain Mr Collinson expostulated: he found, at length, that he _must_
submit.  The soldiers went out, and came back in a short time with some
straw, which they piled up in one corner.

"Here's enough for all of us," they grunted out; "and as for food, some
farina, and cold water to wash it down, is all that is allowed.  If
monsieur has any money, we may procure something more suitable to his
taste."

When Mr Collinson told his companions what the negro soldier said, they
begged that he would not submit to any imposition.

"We can do very well without any supper, or with only what the niggers
bring us," answered Jack; "and maybe we shall all want it more
by-and-by."

However, when the bowl of boiled corn-meal was brought, they did ample
justice to it, declaring that, for once in a way, it was not such bad
food, after all.  Old Grim, however, grumbled considerably, especially
at night, when the rats began to chase each other about the place; and
the negro soldiers kept up an interrupted snore, with occasional grunts,
as a variation to the music.

"I don't see why we should complain," said Bill, at length.  "We're
better off than we were on the raft; and, to my mind, it is not worse
than being with those cut-throat looking fellows on board the
privateer."

"You are always contented," answered Grimshaw.  "I can make nothing out
of you."

"Just for the reason that I stick to my belief that the sun is shining
up above the clouds, however dark they may be over us," answered Bill.

In spite of the rats, and the snoring and grunting of the negroes, and
the unpleasant odours, even Mr Collinson fell asleep, his example being
followed by his companions.  They were roused up by the black sergeant
at daybreak, and, without any breakfast, were ordered to proceed on
their journey.

"The people have given us supper and bed, and that's all they're obliged
to do," said the sergeant.  "We must get breakfast where we stop at."

They travelled on as on the previous day, the scenery being sometimes
very picturesque--the prickly palm, and cocoa-nut trees, and numberless
shrubs with long waving leaves.  Sometimes thickets of the graceful
bamboo lined either side of the road; but persons, when carried off as
prisoners, are not generally apt to admire the beauty of the scenery.
Sunshine Bill, however, was not to be put down.

"It's one way of seeing the world that I did not expect, when I left
home," he remarked to Jack Windy.  "I shall have many more yarns to
spin, when I get back, in consequence.  Now, Tommy, look out where you
are going to.  You have nearly brought the mule down two or three times;
and the next time we get off, I must sit ahead and steer."

They brought up at another village, where the sergeant procured some
messes of boiled meal, such as they had had for supper.

"If it had not been for that kind gentleman, I don't know where we
should have been by this time," said Jack.  "We should have been
desperately hungry, I know.  Howsumdever, when we are once settled, I
suppose we shall be able to get sufficient grub to keep body and soul
together."

At length the prisoners arrived at a wretched-looking village, though
picturesquely situated with hills rising round it.

"Halt here," said the sergeant, "while I go and inquire what quarters
are to be assigned to you."

"Nothing very grand," he said, with a laugh, when he returned.  "Follow
me!"

"Why," said Mr Collinson, "the authorities cannot think of putting us
into a place like that.  It is a stable!"

"Very likely; but there's only one old horse in it, and there are three
stalls: you can have one, monsieur, all to yourself, and your men can
have he other.  What more can you desire?"

All expostulations were vain.

"Well, we must make the best of it, my lads," said Mr Collinson,
walking into the place.

"There's just one thing you must remember," shouted the sergeant: "don't
be playing tricks, and turning out the horse.  The owner made that a
bargain; and he requires shelter as much as you do."

"Well, well!" answered the English lieutenant; "complaining is beneath
us."

"We shall not do badly, sir," observed Jack, as he surveyed the place;
"we don't, however, like it for you, sir; but we will get some straw and
some planks, and make it as comfortable-like as we can and rig up a
table.  It's a shame, that it is, to turn a British officer into such a
place; and the next time we get alongside a French man-of-war, in the
_Lilly_, won't we give it her, that's all!"

"I hope, my lads, we may have the opportunity before long," said the
lieutenant.  "I am glad you take things so well.  Perhaps they will
mend.  It's a compliment, I suspect, they pay us, to bring us here; for
they have heard of the way English sailors have made their escape from
prison, so they consider it is necessary to carry us all this distance
from the coast."

It was nearly dark when they arrived, so that they had not much time to
get their habitation in order.  The night passed quietly enough, except
that they were startled, every now and then, by the asthmatic cough of
the horse, the croaking of the bull-frogs in a neighbouring pond, and
the sound of the sentry's musket, as he grounded it every now and then,
when he halted, after pacing up and down in front of the hut.  Bill was
awoke by hearing a voice shouting--

"Hillo, shipmates, ahoy!  Where are they, blacky?  What!  In there?
Then they are as bad off as we are."

Bill jumped up, and went to the door.  There he saw an English sailor,
who was, however, a stranger to him.

"Hillo!  Boy," said the sailor, "what cheer?  What has brought you
here?"

Bill told him what had occurred.

"Well, we heard of some fresh arrivals, so I came along to see who you
were.  We have had nearly two score of Englishmen here, officers and
men; some privateersmen, some merchant seamen, the men-of-war's men
having been taken mostly in prizes, except a dozen of us who belong to
the _Buzzard_ schooner, and we should not have been taken had not the
sloop of war we were engaging knocked away our fore-topmast, and pretty
well killed or wounded two-thirds of our ship's company.  Some of them,
howsumdever, have been exchanged, and some have died; so that there are
only a few of us remaining to make you welcome."

In a short time, the rest of the Englishmen came to greet the newcomers.
One was a lieutenant, whose thin, careworn countenance showed suffering
and anxiety; and another was a grey-haired old mate, who evidently cared
very little what might become of him.  The account they gave of their
treatment was far from satisfactory.

"We receive scarcely sufficient food to keep life in us," observed the
lieutenant.

All had similar complaints to make.  Several days passed by, and Mr
Collinson found that his countrymen had ample reason for the complaints
they made.



CHAPTER EIGHTEEN.

Mr Collinson had expected to hear from Monsieur Mouret, but day after
day passed by and no news reached him.  The other lieutenant, Mr Mason,
at length proposed that they should endeavour to make their escape to
the coast.

"I fear that the undertaking is too hazardous to be attempted," answered
Mr Collinson.  "Even should we reach the coast, we may find no vessel
to take us on board."

Still, as he thought over the matter, he felt greatly inclined, at all
risks, to make the attempt.  He had husbanded the small sum of money he
possessed, in case of dire necessity, either to help them to escape or
to obtain food.  Meantime, the rest of the party, who had scarcely
recovered from their previous hardships, were growing thinner and
thinner.

Sunshine Bill was the only one who kept up his spirits.  In a
neighbouring cottage, to which the stable belonged, lived an old
negress, the wife of the proprietor.  More than once she had caught
sight of Bill, who used to go outside their habitation in the evening,
and amuse the rest of the party, by showing that he had not forgotten
Jack Windy's instructions in dancing the hornpipe.  Jack declared that
he had neither strength nor inclination to shake a leg himself, but he
would not mind singing a tune for Bill to dance; and dance Bill did with
great glee.  He did his best to try and persuade Tommy to join him, but
Tommy was too weak and ill to do anything of the sort.  At length, one
evening, when Bill had just finished his performance, the old black
woman was seen approaching with a steaming bowl in her arms.

"Dare, brave _garcon_," she said, patting Bill on the head, and pointing
to the bowl, and making signs for him to eat.

She then signified that the rest might have what he chose to leave.
Bill was for giving it to them at once, but she snatched the bowl back
again, and squatted herself down upon the ground to see that he took
enough.  Whenever he stopped, she insisted upon his going on again, till
at last he put his hands before him, and made signs that he could eat no
more.  She then allowed him to give the remainder to his hungry
companions, who very soon finished it.

"Thank you, mammy," said Bill; "but, I say, could you not just bring a
plate for our officer?  He is as hungry as we are.  He is inside there,
very ill;" and Bill made signs which could scarcely be mistaken.

The old woman caught the word "officer," and she nodded her head.  She
soon returned with another dish of meat and vegetables, which Bill took
in to Mr Collinson.

The next day after Bill had danced his hornpipe, old Mammy Otello, as
they called her, came with her usual bowl of food, but on this occasion
she brought a basket with various fruits besides.  This she did for two
or three days.  One day, however, she came at an earlier hour, and made
signs to Bill that he must come over to her house.  The rest of the
party offered to accompany him, but she very significantly showed that
she did not want their society.  Bill went on, wondering what she could
require, though from her good-natured looks, he felt sure she intended
him no harm.

As they were going towards the house, he saw a number of black people in
gay dresses coming towards it from various quarters; and when he got
there, he found a large room almost full of negroes in ruffles and shirt
frills, and negresses in the gayest of gay gowns, somewhat scanty over
the shoulder, and fitting rather close to the figure.  Bill found that
there was to be a black ball.  At one end of the room sat, perched up on
the top of a cask, a fiddler, who began scraping away as he entered.

The guests were beginning to stand up for dancing, but Mammy Otello,
taking Bill by the hand, led him up to the musician, and made him
understand that he was to describe the tune he wanted to have played.
Bill sung out his tune as well as he could, and the fiddler made violent
attempts to imitate it.  At length he succeeded to his own satisfaction,
if not to Bill's.

Mammy then led him back into the middle of the room, and made him
understand that he was to commence dancing.

"Well, you have been a kind old soul to us," he observed; "the only one
who has shown us any attention in this place; and I will do my best to
please you."

The musician began to play, and Bill began to dance, and very soon the
former seemed to understand exactly the sort of music required, and off
he went.  The guests shouted and shrieked, and clapped their hands; and
the fiddler went on playing, and Bill went on dancing, and it seemed a
great question which would first grow tired.

"I'll do it, that I will," thought Bill to himself; "if it's only to see
these blackamoors grinning, and rolling their eyes, and shrieking, and
clapping their hands in the funny way they do."

At length, so eager did the spectators become, that they pressed closer
and closer upon the dancer, and Mammy Otello had to rush in and shove
them back with her stout arms to prevent him from being overwhelmed.

"Tired yet, old fellow?" shouted Bill, as he went on shuffling away and
kicking his heels; "I am not, let me tell you!"

The fiddler, although he might not have understood the words,
comprehended the gesture, and continued working away till it seemed as
if either his head or his arms and fiddle would part company, flying off
in different directions.  Still Bill danced, and the black fiddler
played, roars of applause proceeding from the thick lips of the
dark-skinned audience.

At length, Mammy Otello, fancying that Bill himself would come to
pieces, or that he would fall down exhausted, rushed in, and seizing him
in her arms, carried him to a seat, amid the laughter and shouting and
grinning and stamping of all present; the fiddler, dropping down his
right hand, and letting his instrument slip from his chin, gave vent to
a loud gasp, as if he could not either have continued his exertions many
seconds longer.

Bill wanted to go back for his friends, to bring them up to see the fun,
but his hostess would not hear of it; and, whenever he got up to beat a
retreat, she ran and brought him back again.  Meantime, the room was
occupied by the negroes, who danced away in a fashion Bill had never
seen before.

They bowed and scraped, and set to each other, however, with all the
dignity of high-bred persons.  At length Bill watched his opportunity
and while Mammy Otello had gone to another part of the room, he bolted
out of the house, and set off as fast as his legs could carry him to his
companions in captivity.

"I told you, Bill, that hornpipe of yours would gain friends wherever
you go," said Jack.  "I wish the old lady would give me a chance,
however.  Perhaps she will now be civil to us on your account."

The next day, when Mammy Otello came, she seemed rather inclined to
scold Bill for running away.  He got Mr Collinson to explain that he
would not have done so had the rest of the party been invited, as he did
no think it fair to enjoy all the fun by himself.

"Bon garcon; bon garcon!" said Mammy Otello.  "The next time, for his
sake, we will invite you all."

Mr Collinson was surprised, after the many promises of assistance made
by Monsieur Mouret, the planter, that he should neither have seen nor
heard anything of him.  At length one day, a black, dressed in livery,
rode into the village, inquiring for the English lieutenant who had last
come.  On seeing Mr Collinson, he presented a note in a lady's hand.
It contained but a few words.  It was from Mademoiselle Mouret.

"The day after you came here," she said, "my father was taken ill, just
as he was about to set off to Point a Petre, to make interest for you.
I watched over him for some days, and I confess that my grief allowed
the promises he had made to escape my memory.  Alas!  He has been taken
from me, while I myself have barely escaped with life; and only now am I
sufficiently recovered to write.  Fearing that you will receive very
uncourteous treatment from my countrymen, and that you may be even
suffering from want of food, I have sent you some provisions by our
faithful servant Pierre, as also a purse, which, I trust, you will
accept from one who, though in affliction, is grateful for the kindness
she has received from your friends."

Mr Collinson felt that he had no right to refuse the gift which the
young lady had so liberally sent.  When Jack Windy heard of it, he
exclaimed--

"They're all alike!  Never mind whether they're French, or Dons, or
blackamoors, there's a tender place in most women's hearts, unless
they're downright bad, and then stand clear of them, I say, for they're
worse than us men."

The next time Mammy Otello appeared, Mr Collinson placed a gold piece
in her hand.

"Here, madame," he said; "I beg that you will accept this as a mark of
how sensible we are of your kindness; and I beg to assure you, that, if
you can give us better accommodation, we will gladly pay for it."

Mammy Otello's countenance beamed, her mouth grew considerably wider,
and her eyes sparkled, partly at the sight of the money, and partly at
the lieutenant's polite speech.  Putting the coin into her pocket, she
hastened away.  In a short time she returned.

"Our family is a small one," she said; "and as the authorities here do
not object, my good man and I have arranged to give you two rooms in our
house, while you shall take your meals in our public room."

Mr Collinson's great difficulty was to find paper and pen to write a
suitable reply to Mademoiselle Mouret.  His own pocket-book had been
destroyed.  Not a particle of paper could he find in the place, not even
the fly-leaf of a book.  The other two officers had no paper of any
sort.  He was able, therefore, only to return a verbal answer to the
young lady.

"I told you so," said Bill, when these satisfactory arrangements had
been made, "that things would improve with us, and so they have."

"Yes; but we've not had yellow Jack among us yet; and depend upon it he
will be coming before long," answered old Grim.

The good fortune of the Lillys, as the other prisoners called Mr
Collinson and his followers, rather excited their jealousy.  It tended,
however, but little to raise his spirits, and he began to fear that he
should never again see his friends.

"Cheer up, sir," said Bill, who had constituted himself his special
attendant, "things have mended, and they will mend still more.  It's a
dark day when the sun does not shine out; and depend upon it, though the
clouds seem pretty heavy just now, the sun will come out before long."

One day there was an unusual commotion in the village.  The negroes were
running about and talking to each other, and the white people especially
wore anxious countenances.  Soon afterwards, drums were heard, and a
regiment of militia marched by.  For some time, the prisoners could not
ascertain what was taking place, though it was evident that something of
importance was about to occur.  The few regulars in the neighbourhood
were seen hurriedly to march away.

Mr Collinson and the other two officers were talking together.

"Hark!" said the former; "that's the sound of a heavy gun!"

Others followed.  Eagerly they listened.  Some thought that they were
fired at sea, others on shore.  At length the excitement of the people,
who had also heard the firing, greatly increased, and they confessed
that an English force had come off the island, and that the English
troops had landed that morning.

"I wish we could manage to get to the top of some hill to see what is
going forward," exclaimed Jack Windy.  "Bill, what do you say?  We could
get away from these fellows now."

"If Mr Collinson wishes it, I am ready enough to go," answered Bill.

"I am afraid he would say no, if we were to ask him," said Jack.  "I
would give anything to find out who is winning the day."

However, the nearest hills were some way off, and, even if they had got
to the top of them, they could not at all tell that they would be able
to see what was taking place.  The sound of the firing increased, and it
became very certain that a fierce engagement was going on.  The people
about them, however, knew no more than they did, so they could gain no
information.

At length a body of men was seen coming over a pass in the distance.
They were watched anxiously.  Who could they be--English or French?  On
they came, increasing their speed.  As they drew nearer, it was evident
that they were black troops--the same regiment, indeed, which had passed
through the village in the morning.  It seemed, from the way they
marched, or rather ran, that they thought an enemy was behind them.
They bore among them several wounded men.  Not till they had hurried
through the village did they halt.

At first, no one would say what had happened.  The hopes of the English
prisoners, however, began to rise, and soon the news spread through the
village that a fierce battle had been fought, and that the English had
been victorious.  At length a French officer was seen coming along the
road, who stopped for a few minutes to give his horse some water.  Mr
Collinson approached him.

"I am one of the English officers who have been some time prisoners in
the island," he said, addressing him in French.

"Ah!" he answered, "you need consider yourselves prisoners no longer.
Your countrymen have come with an overwhelming force and taken
possession of the island.  I am sent with despatches to the other side,
to give notice of the capitulation."

This news rapidly spread throughout the village.

A loud cheer burst from Jack and the boys' throats, in which even
Grimshaw joined.

The other prisoners came hurrying up to hear the news, and three more
hearty cheers were given, in which even many of the negroes for sympathy
could not help joining.  There, whites and blacks were shouting
together, and shaking hands cordially.

There was some difficulty in getting conveyances for the whole party.
At length, however, mules and horses sufficient to carry them were
collected.  Mammy Otello gave Bill an affectionate embrace, as he wished
her good-bye, an honour she did not bestow on the rest of the party.
She insisted, however, on their taking several delicacies of her own
cooking; and, at length, all hands being under weigh, with repeated
cheers, the sailors set out from the place of their long imprisonment.

Mr Collinson stopped at the house where they had been entertained on
their way.  Mademoiselle Mouret entreated him not to thank her for the
trifle she had sent, and begged him to assure his friends that, should
they ever come to the island, it would be her pride and pleasure to
receive them.

On arriving in sight of the sea, a large fleet of men-of-war and
transports were seen below them, while British troops lay encamped on
the side of the hill.  Having been delivered over by the French
authorities, in due form, to the English, they once more had the
satisfaction of feeling themselves free men.  Among the ships lay a fine
corvette.  No sooner did Jack Windy's eye fall on her than he
exclaimed--

"She's the _Lilly_ herself, or I'm a Dutchman!"

Hastening down to the port, they eagerly put off in the first boats they
could find.  As they pulled alongside, none on board knew them.  Captain
Trevelyan and the other officers were on deck.  Besides Mr Barker,
there was another lieutenant.

"Then they must suppose I am lost," thought Mr Collinson, as he stepped
aft.  "I am afraid I am not known," he said.

Captain Trevelyan started.  A beam of pleasure lighted up his face.

Fortunately, the corvette was immediately despatched with news of the
capture of the island.  She had a quick passage to Jamaica, and Mr
Collinson lost not many hours, after his arrival, in hurrying to Uphill
Cottage.  The black cook told Bill, who went up with him on his next
visit, that the young lady did not go into hysterics at the sight of
him, but, although she had been somewhat sad and pale before, her colour
returned, and her voice was as cheerful and merry as it used to be.  As
Mr Collinson had been superseded, he did not return to the _Lilly_;
indeed, a few days after her arrival, he received his promotion.

"Now he is a commander, I suppose he will be marrying Miss Lydall,"
observed Bill--a remark the sagacity of which was proved a few days
before the _Lilly_ sailed for England, where Mr and Mrs Collinson soon
after arrived in a merchant-vessel.

Although Bill did not bring home as much gold as he had expected, he was
received not the less warmly by widow Sunnyside and his brothers and
sisters.  Soon afterwards, Captain Collinson called at the widow's
house, and left with her a roll of gold pieces.

"Here are Bill's wages," he said.  "He attended me as my servant, and I
consider them justly his due; indeed," he added, "if it had not been for
his hopeful and cheerful spirit, I believe that I should have sunk under
the hardships we had to go through."

The next time Captain Trevelyan went to sea, he took Sunshine Bill with
him; indeed, for many years he served either with him, or with Captain
Collinson, whose coxswain he became.  At that time, finding an honest
girl who reminded him of his happy little mother, he married, and had no
reason to repent his choice.  Ultimately, having improved in his
education, he passed as a boatswain, in which capacity he served for
many years, till he was laid up, like many another noble tar, in
ordinary; but to the end of his days he maintained the same cheerful and
hopeful disposition which had carried him through so many trials in his
youth--a disposition which was happily inherited by a numerous
offspring.

THE END.





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