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- The Little Savage - 50/51 -

not pinioned like the rest. His hair was quite white, his complexion very pale, and he looked like one oppressed with deep sorrow and anxiety. He rose from his seat in the boat, and was assisted out by John Gough.

"I'm very sorry that we are obliged to leave you here, Mr Evelyn," said Gough, "but you see, sir, we have no alternative. We couldn't keep you with us, for many reasons; and therefore we have been obliged to make you a sharer in the fate of our officers."

"And werry painful this is to our feelings, sir, you may believe," said another of the mutineers mockingly. "I'm quite moloncholy as I thinks on it."

The men again laughed; but the person so addressed walked to the side of the captain without making any observation. The other captives also left the boat in silence. They were eight in all, but four of them were evidently common seamen by their dress--the others were officers. All were well-made, strong men.

"What a precious pretty colony you'll make, my hearties!" exclaimed one of the mutineers, jeeringly, as he helped to land a cask, and some other packages, that they had brought with them. "It's a thousand pities you ain't got no female associates, that you might marry, and settle, and bring up respectable families."

"Talking of women," cried the one who had first spoken, "I wonder what became of the one we left here so cleverly when we was wrecked at this here place six years ago."

John Gough looked uneasy at this inquiry, as if the recollection was not agreeable to him.

"And the Little Savage," continued the fellow, "what was agoing to send his knife into my ribs for summat or other--I forget what. They must have died long ago, I ain't no doubt, as we unfortnitely left 'em nothin' to live upon."

"No doubt they died hand in hand, like the Babes in the Wood," said another.

I still observed John Gough; he seemed distressed at the turn the conversation had taken.

"Now, mates," he said hurriedly, "let us return to the ship. We have done what we came to do."

"I votes as we shall go and see arter the Missionary's woman and the Little Savage," cried the fourth. "I should like, somehow, to see whether they be living or not, and a stroll ashore won't do any on us any harm."

"I shall remain here till you return," said John Gough; and he threw himself on the grass with his back towards me, and only a few yards from the place in which we were concealed. The rest, after making fast the boat, started off on an exploring expedition, in the direction of the old hut.

Chapter XLIX

The captives were grouped together, some sitting, and some standing. Not one of them looked dejected at his fate; though I could see by their movements that they were impatient of the bonds that tied them. My attention was most frequently directed to the old gentleman who had been addressed as Mr Evelyn. Notwithstanding the grief expressed in his countenance, it possessed an air of benevolence and kindness of heart that even his settled melancholy did not conceal. I could not understand why, but I felt a deeper interest for this person than for any of the others--a sort of yearning towards him, mingled with a desire to protect him from the malice of his enemies.

Almost as soon as they were gone, John Gough beckoned to Mr Evelyn to sit down by his side. Possibly this was done to prevent his assisting his companions to regain their liberty, as he, not being pinioned like the rest, might easily have done, and they might have overpowered their guard before his companions could come to his assistance. But Gough was well armed, and the rest being without weapons of any kind, it was scarcely probable that they would have risked their lives in so desperate an attempt.

Mr Evelyn came and quietly sat himself down in the place indicated. I observed him with increasing interest, and singular to relate, the more I gazed on his venerable face, the more strongly I felt assured that I had seen it before. This of course was impossible, nevertheless, the fancy took possession of me, and I experienced a strange sensation of pleasure as I watched the changes his features underwent.

"John Gough, I am sorry to see you mixed up in this miserable business," said he, mildly addressing his companion. The other did not answer, and as his back was turned towards me I could not observe the effect the observation had upon him.

"The men who have left us I know to be bad men," continued the speaker; "I expect nothing but wickedness from them. But you I am aware have been better brought up. Your responsibility therefore becomes the greater in assisting them in their villainy."

"You had better not let them hear you, Mr Evelyn," replied Gough, at last, in something like a surly tone; "I would not answer for the consequences."

"Those I do not fear," the other answered. "The results of this transaction can make very little difference to a man on the verge of the grave, who has outlived all his relatives, and has nothing left to fall back upon but the memory of his misfortunes: but to one in the prime of life like yourself, who can boast of friends and relatives who feel an interest in your good name, these results must be serious indeed. What must be the feelings of your respectable father when he learns that you have joined a gang of pirates; how intense must be the grief of your amiable mother when she hears that you have paid the penalty that must sooner or later overtake you for embracing so lawless a life."

"Come, Mr Evelyn," exclaimed Gough, though with a tremulousness in his voice that betrayed the state of his feelings, "you have no right to preach to me. I have done as much as I could for you all. The men would have made short work with you, if I had not interposed, and pointed out to them this uninhabited island."

"Where it seems you left a poor woman to be starved to death," continued Mr Evelyn.

"It was no fault of mine," replied the man; "I did all I could to prevent it."

"It would have been more manly if you had remained with her on this rock, and left your cowardly associates to take their selfish course. But you are weak and irresolute, John Gough; too easily persuaded into evil, too slow to follow the impulses of good. The murder of that poor woman is as much your deed as if you had blown her brains out before you abandoned her. Indeed I do not know but what the latter would have been the less criminal."

John Gough made no answer. I do not think, however, his mind was quite easy under this accusation, for he seemed restless, and kept playing with his pistols, with his eyes cast down.

"Your complicity in this mutiny, too, John Gough, is equally inexcusable," continued Mr Evelyn. "It was your duty to have stood by Captain Manvers and his officers, by which you would have earned their eternal gratitude, and a handsome provision from the owners of the vessel."

"It's no use talking of these things now, Mr Evelyn," said Gough, hurriedly. "I have taken my course. It is too late to turn back. Would to God," he added, dashing his hand violently against his brow, "I had had nothing to do with it."

"It is never too late, John Gough, to do good," here cried out Mrs Reichardt, as she rose from her place of concealment, as much to my surprise as that of all who could observe her. But nothing could equal the astonishment of Gough when he first caught sight of her features;--he sprang to his feet, leaving his pistols on the ground, and clasping his hands together, exclaimed, "Thank God, she is safe!"

"Yes," she replied, approaching him and taking his hand kindly. "By an interposition of Providence, you are saved from the guilt of one murder. In the name of that God who has so signally preserved you against yourself, I command you to abandon your present wicked designs."

The man hesitated, but it seemed as if he could not take his gaze from her face, and it was evident that her presence exerted an extraordinary influence over him. In the meantime I had made my appearance on the scene, not less to the astonishment of the lookers-on; and my first act was to take possession of the pair of pistols that Gough had left on the ground; my next to hurry to the group of captives, who had been regarding us, in a state as it were of perfect bewilderment, and with my American knife to cut their bonds.

"I will do whatever you think proper," said John Gough. "Believe me I have been reluctantly led into this, and joined the mutiny knowing that I should have been murdered if I did not."

"You must endeavour to make what amends are in your power," continued Mrs Reichardt, "by assisting your officers in recovering possession of the ship."

"I will gladly assist in whatever they may think feasible," said the man. "But we must first secure the desperate fellows who have just left us, and as we are but poorly provided with weapons, that of itself will be a service of no slight danger. To get possession of the ship I am afraid will be still more hazardous; but you shall find me in the front of every danger."

Here Captain Manvers and the others came up to where John Gough and Mrs Reichardt were conversing; he heard Gough's last speech, and he was going to say something, when I interposed by stating that there was no time now for explanations, for in a few minutes the fellows who had gone to the hut would return, and the only way to prepare for them was for the whole party to go to our house, to which Mrs Reichardt would lead them, where they would find plenty of arms and ammunition. In the meantime I would keep watch, and observe their motions, and by firing one of the pistols would signal to them if I was in any danger. Lastly, I recommended that the oars should be

The Little Savage - 50/51

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