THIS fifth trip was quite
different from any of the others. In
the first place, the little gallipot
of a boat that we were in was
gravely overloaded. Five grown men,
and three of them—Trelawney, Redruth,
and the captain—over six feet high,
was already more than she was meant
to carry. Add to that the powder,
pork, and bread-bags. The gunwale
was lipping astern. Several times we
shipped a little water, and my
breeches and the tails of my coat
were all soaking wet before we had
gone a hundred yards.
The captain made us trim the boat,
and we got her to lie a little more
evenly. All the same, we were afraid
In the second place, the ebb was now
making—a strong rippling current
running westward through the basin,
and then south'ard and seaward down
the straits by which we had entered
in the morning. Even the ripples
were a danger to our overloaded
craft, but the worst of it was that
we were swept out of our true course
and away from our proper
landing-place behind the point. If
we let the current have its way we
should come ashore beside the gigs,
where the pirates might appear at
"I cannot keep her head for the
stockade, sir," said I to the
captain. I was steering, while he
and Redruth, two fresh men, were at
the oars. "The tide keeps washing
her down. Could you pull a little
"Not without swamping the boat,"
said he. "You must bear up, sir, if
you please—bear up until you see
I tried and found by experiment that
the tide kept sweeping us westward
until I had laid her head due east,
or just about right angles to the
way we ought to go.
"We'll never get ashore at this
rate," said I.
"If it's the only course that we can
lie, sir, we must even lie it,"
returned the captain. "We must keep
upstream. You see, sir," he went on,
"if once we dropped to leeward of
the landing-place, it's hard to say
where we should get ashore, besides
the chance of being boarded by the
gigs; whereas, the way we go the
current must slacken, and then we
can dodge back along the shore."
"The current's less a'ready, sir,"
said the man Gray, who was sitting
in the fore-sheets; "you can ease
her off a bit."
"Thank you, my man," said I, quite
as if nothing had happened, for we
had all quietly made up our minds to
treat him like one of ourselves.
Suddenly the captain spoke up again,
and I thought his voice was a little
"The gun!" said he.
"I have thought of that," said I,
for I made sure he was thinking of a
bombardment of the fort. "They could
never get the gun ashore, and if
they did, they could never haul it
through the woods."
"Look astern, doctor," replied the
We had entirely forgotten the long
nine; and there, to our horror, were
the five rogues busy about her,
getting off her jacket, as they
called the stout tarpaulin cover
under which she sailed. Not only
that, but it flashed into my mind at
the same moment that the round-shot
and the powder for the gun had been
left behind, and a stroke with an
axe would put it all into the
possession of the evil ones abroad.
"Israel was Flint's gunner," said
At any risk, we put the boat's head
direct for the landing-place. By
this time we had got so far out of
the run of the current that we kept
steerage way even at our necessarily
gentle rate of rowing, and I could
keep her steady for the goal. But
the worst of it was that with the
course I now held we turned our
broadside instead of our stern to
the HISPANIOLA and offered a target
like a barn door.
I could hear as well as see that
brandy-faced rascal Israel Hands
plumping down a round-shot on the
"Who's the best shot?" asked the
"Mr. Trelawney, out and away," said
"Mr. Trelawney, will you please pick
me off one of these men, sir? Hands,
if possible," said the captain.
Trelawney was as cool as steel. He
looked to the priming of his gun.
"Now," cried the captain, "easy with
that gun, sir, or you'll swamp the
boat. All hands stand by to trim her
when he aims."
The squire raised his gun, the
rowing ceased, and we leaned over to
the other side to keep the balance,
and all was so nicely contrived that
we did not ship a drop.
They had the gun, by this time,
slewed round upon the swivel, and
Hands, who was at the muzzle with
the rammer, was in consequence the
most exposed. However, we had no
luck, for just as Trelawney fired,
down he stooped, the ball whistled
over him, and it was one of the
other four who fell.
The cry he gave was echoed not only
by his companions on board but by a
great number of voices from the
shore, and looking in that direction
I saw the other pirates trooping out
from among the trees and tumbling
into their places in the boats.
"Here come the gigs, sir," said I.
"Give way, then," cried the captain.
"We mustn't mind if we swamp her
now. If we can't get ashore, all's
"Only one of the gigs is being
manned, sir," I added; "the crew of
the other most likely going round by
shore to cut us off."
"They'll have a hot run, sir,"
returned the captain. "Jack ashore,
you know. It's not them I mind; it's
the round-shot. Carpet bowls! My
lady's maid couldn't miss. Tell us,
squire, when you see the match, and
we'll hold water."
In the meanwhile we had been making
headway at a good pace for a boat so
overloaded, and we had shipped but
little water in the process. We were
now close in; thirty or forty
strokes and we should beach her, for
the ebb had already disclosed a
narrow belt of sand below the
clustering trees. The gig was no
longer to be feared; the little
point had already concealed it from
our eyes. The ebb-tide, which had so
cruelly delayed us, was now making
reparation and delaying our
assailants. The one source of danger
was the gun.
"If I durst," said the captain, "I'd
stop and pick off another man."
But it was plain that they meant
nothing should delay their shot.
They had never so much as looked at
their fallen comrade, though he was
not dead, and I could see him trying
to crawl away.
"Ready!" cried the squire.
"Hold!" cried the captain, quick as
And he and Redruth backed with a
great heave that sent her stern
bodily under water. The report fell
in at the same instant of time. This
was the first that Jim heard, the
sound of the squire's shot not
having reached him. Where the ball
passed, not one of us precisely
knew, but I fancy it must have been
over our heads and that the wind of
it may have contributed to our
At any rate, the boat sank by the
stern, quite gently, in three feet
of water, leaving the captain and
myself, facing each other, on our
feet. The other three took complete
headers, and came up again drenched
So far there was no great harm. No
lives were lost, and we could wade
ashore in safety. But there were all
our stores at the bottom, and to
make things worse, only two guns out
of five remained in a state for
service. Mine I had snatched from my
knees and held over my head, by a
sort of instinct. As for the
captain, he had carried his over his
shoulder by a bandoleer, and like a
wise man, lock uppermost. The other
three had gone down with the boat.
To add to our concern, we heard
voices already drawing near us in
the woods along shore, and we had
not only the danger of being cut off
from the stockade in our
half-crippled state but the fear
before us whether, if Hunter and
Joyce were attacked by half a dozen,
they would have the sense and
conduct to stand firm. Hunter was
steady, that we knew; Joyce was a
doubtful case—a pleasant, polite man
for a valet and to brush one's
clothes, but not entirely fitted for
a man of war.
With all this in our minds, we waded
ashore as fast as we could, leaving
behind us the poor jolly-boat and a
good half of all our powder and