King o' the Beach Part 45

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"But there is a gun on deck."

"Tchah! A little bra.s.s pop-shot, to make signals with. The skipper had got some charges for her, and a few boxes o' cartridges in a locker; but I don't believe there's even the ghost of a magazine."

"Then it's all an empty threat, Bob."

"I don't say that, my lad, because though I never heard o' one there's room for half a dozen. All I say is, it aren't likely. Only I don't want you if we are blowed to bits to pull yourself together afterwards, and come and blame me."

"No fear, Bob," said Carey, speaking with some confidence now.

"You see, sir, that old ruffian says that he'll blow the old _Soosan_ up, and it may be solemn truth, and same time it may be only gammon; but it makes a man feel anxious like and think o' our raft and the whale-boat Old King Cole come in, and think he'd rather be aboard one o'

them than stopping here."

"Retreating to the boat, Bob?"

"Yes, sir, or else chancing it, and that last aren't pleasant. I think we ought to say, 'Look here, my fine fellow, two can play at that game o' yours,' and get a tin o' powder, put a bit o' touch paper through the neck, set light to it, and chuck it down the stairs and blow him to smithereens first."

"And explode the magazine ourselves if there is one?" cried Carey.

"Well, I _ham_ blessed!" cried Bostock. "I never thought o' that!

Anyone would think I was an Irishman."

"If I'm to take the lead now, Bob, I won't have any talk of murder like that."

"But it aren't murder, sir; it's on'y fair fight; t.i.t for him before it's tat for us. Not as we need argufy, because it wouldn't be safe to try that game. Oughtn't we to take to the boat, sir?"

"How can we, Bob?" cried Carey, angrily. "You wouldn't go and leave the doctor?"

"Nay, sir, that I wouldn't. I shouldn't call a chap a man who'd go and do a thing like that. We should take him with us."

"Hoist him with ropes through that broken skylight! Why, it would kill him."

"Well, Jack.u.m and me we'd carry him out o' the s'loon door, sir. We'd be werry careful."

"Pish! You know that the old ruffian commands the staircase, and he shot both Jack.u.m and me when we were there. He'd riddle you both with bullets, and perhaps quite kill Doctor Kingsmead."

"Well, sir, he's riddling of me now, sir; I dunno what to say; on'y it don't seem nat'ral to stand still and be blown up in a splosion, when you might get away. Ha! I have it, sir. S'pose I get the boat round under the cabin window, and you and Jack.u.m shove the doctor out and lower him down. What d'yer say to that?"

"Nonsense!" cried Carey, impatiently. "I don't understand wounds much-- no, not a bit; but from what the doctor said I'm sure if we tried to move him he'd bleed to death."

"That settles it, sir, then; you and me's got to stay. But look ye here, Master Carey; they say it's best in a splosion to lie down flat till it's over. Ah, there he goes again. It's coming now."

For Mallam's voice was heard once more, roaring for Bostock.

"No; he will not fire the magazine till he has had another talk to you."

"Think not, sir? I were reading in the _Mariner's Chronicle_ that pirates always blows up their ships when things go again 'em, and he's nothing better than a pirate, say what you will."

There was a savage roar from the beachcomber, and as Bostock hurried along the quarter-deck and descended to the cabin entrance two shots were fired in rapid succession.

"Big Dan go mumkull--kill a feller," whispered Jack.u.m, as the exchange of words came to where they stood listening.

"Drop that! D'yer hear?" roared Bostock. "Drop it, before I come and finish you off."

"Yes; come!" snarled Mallam.

"I've a big mind to, you cowardly old thief. I want to pay you for that crack on the head you give me from behind."

"Come down, then, you sneaking hound. Where's that doctor?"

"Too bad to move, with your cowardly shooting."

"Wish I'd killed him," growled Mallam.

"You've bit your own ugly red nose off in revenge of your face. If you're waiting for the doctor to come and put you right you'll have to wait a couple o' months; and then if he's a bit like me he'll finish you off out of the way."

"Are you going to send him down?"

"No; I aren't going to send him down; but I tell you what I will do--if you don't hand up that revolver I'll pitch a lanthorn down alight so as to get a good aim at you, and then I'll give you two barrels o' this."

There was a few minutes' silence, and then the beachcomber began again.

"Send that Black Jack.u.m down to me. Where's he been all this time?"

"Keeping out of your reach, you old madman," growled Bostock.

"You send him down."

As Carey listened it became plain to him that no matter how defective the black was in speech he understood pretty well every word that was said, for a firm sinewy hand was laid upon the lad's arm and the man said softly, "Jack.u.m won't go. Want 'top 'long you. Big Dan mumkull Jack.u.m."

There were a couple more random shots fired, eliciting raging threats from Bostock, and then the old sailor came back to the light.

"How's the doctor, sir?" he said.

"Sleeping heavily."

"Good job too, sir," said the old sailor, with a sigh. "Wish I could go to sleep and never know what's going on. Come much easier to be blowed up when one didn't expect it. Wonderful how cowardly a man feels when he knows that there's a lot o' gunpowder as may go off any moment just under his feet."

"But you must see, Bob," said Carey, softly, "that it's only a bit of bragging. He can't blow up the ship."

"Think not, sir?"

"I feel sure of it."

"Ah, I wish I could feel like that, sir," sighed Bostock. "You wouldn't, though, if you come up on deck and heard how he's going on."

"I can hear every word, Bob, and so can Jack.u.m."

"Jack.u.m? Ah, I 'most forgot him. I say, sir, his brothers, or whatever they are, seem to be carrying on a nice game, over yonder. P'raps it's 'cause they feel that they're safe enough. They've got a thumping big fire, and they're dancing round it like a lot o' little children playing at may-pole. Seems to me, sir, that these here blacks grow up to be children, and then they makes a fresh start; their bodies go on growing like anything, but their brains stops still and never grows a day older.

Hark, there he goes again."

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King o' the Beach Part 45 summary

You're reading King o' the Beach. This manga has been translated by Updating. Author(s): George Manville Fenn. Already has 230 views.

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