G.A. Henty.

Friends, though divided A Tale of the Civil War online

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his companion to the side of the wood furthest from the house, they sat
down and began to talk. After the first questions as to the health of
Harry's father had been answered, Jacob went on:

"We saw by the dispatch of Cromwell to Parliament that the sole
survivors of the sack of Drogheda, being one officer, Colonel Furness, a
noted malignant, and thirty-five soldiers, had been sent in slavery to
the Bermudas. So, of course, we made up our minds to come and look after
you. Through Master Fleming I obtained letters, introducing to the
governor the worshipful Grace-be-to-the-Lord Hobson and Jeremiah
Perkins, who desired to buy an estate in the Bermudas. So hither we
came, William Long and I; and now, Harry, what do you advise to be done?
I find that the ships which leave the port are searched before they
leave, and that guards are placed over them while they load, to see that
none conceal themselves there, and I see not, therefore, how you can
well escape in that way. There seem to be no coasting craft here, or we
might seize one of these and make for sea."

"No," Harry replied. "They allow none such in the port, for fear that
they might be so taken. There are large rowing boats, pulled by twelve
slaves, that come to take produce from the plantations farthest from the
port round to ships there. But it would be madness to trust ourselves
to sea in one of these. We should either die of hunger and thirst, or be
picked up again by their cruisers. The only way would be to seize a

"That is what William Long and I have been thinking of," Jacob said.
"But there is a shrewd watch kept up, and the ships are moored under the
guns of the battery. We passed, on our way hither, a bark bringing a
number of prisoners taken at Waterford. She is a slow sailer, and, by
the calculations of our captain, will not arrive here for some days

"If we could intercept her," Harry said thoughtfully, "we might, with
the aid of the prisoners, overcome the guard, and then turning her head,
sail for Holland."

"That might be done," Jacob assented, "if you have force enough."

"I can bring forty men," Harry answered. "There are eight here, and we
have communication with those in the neighboring plantations, who are
ready to join me in any enterprise. That should be enough."

"It is worth trying," Jacob said. "I will hire a rowboat, as if to bring
round a cargo of sugar from this plantation to the port. I will station
a man on the highest point of the hills to give me notice when a sail is
in sight. He may see it thence forty miles away. The winds are light and
baffling, and she will make slow progress, and may bring up outside the
port that night, but assuredly will not enter until next morning. The
instant I know it is in sight I will ride over here, and William Long
will start with the barge from the port. When you see me come, do you
send round word to the others to meet at midnight on the beach, where
you will see the boat drawn up. Can you let your friends know speedily?"

"Yes," Harry replied. "My signal was to have been given at daybreak, but
I will send round word of the change of hour, and that if, when they
are locked up for the night, they see a fire burning on the point
agreed, they are to meet on the shore at midnight. Tell William Long to
haul the boat up, and let the rowers go to sleep on the shore. We will
seize them noiselessly. Then we will row along the shore till off the
port, and at first daybreak out to the ship if she be at anchor, or away
to meet her if she be not yet come. They will think that we bear a
message from the port."

After some further discussion of details the friends separated, and the
next day Mike sent round by the negroes the news of the change of plans.
Two days later Jacob rode up to the plantation. He had upon the first
occasion told Stebbings that the sum he asked for the estate seemed to
him too high, but that he would return to talk it over with him, after
he had seen other properties. Immediately upon his arrival, which
happened just as the slaves returned from work, Mike sent off one of the
negro boys, who had already collected a pile of brushwood on the beacon
hill. Half an hour later a bright flame shone out on its summit.

"I wonder what that means?" the planter, who was sitting at dinner in
his veranda with Jacob, said angrily.

"It looks like a signal fire," Jacob remarked calmly. "I have heard that
they are sometimes lit on the seacoast of England as a signal to

"There are no smugglers here," the planter said, "nor any cause for such
a signal."

He clapped his hands, and ordered the black slave who answered to tell
the overseer to take two of the guards, and at once proceed to the fire,
and examine its cause. After dinner was over the planter went out to the
slave huts. All the white men were sitting or lying in the open air,
enjoying the rest after their labor. The negroes were singing or working
in their garden plots, The list was called over, and all found to be

"I expect," the planter said, "that it is only a silly freak of some of
these black fellows to cause uneasiness. It can mean nothing, for the
garrison and militia could put down any rising without difficulty and
there is no hope of escape. In a week we could search every possible
hiding-place in the island."

"Yes, that is an advantage which you have over the planters in Virginia,
to which place I hear our Scottish brethren have sent large numbers of
the malignants. There are great woods stretching no man knoweth how far
inland, and inhabited by fierce tribes of Indians, among whom those who
escape find refuge."

That night when all was still Harry Furness and his seven comrades crept
through the opening in the hut. In the grove they were joined by Jacob.
They then made their way to the seashore, where they saw lying a large
shallop, drawn partly up on the beach. A man was sitting in her, while
many other dark figures lay stretched on the sand near. Harry and his
party moved in that direction, and found that the men from two of the
other plantations had already arrived. A few minutes later the other two
parties arrived. The whole body advanced noiselessly along the shore,
and seized and gagged the sleepers without the least difficulty or
noise. These were bound with ropes from the boat, and laid down one by
one on the sand, at a distance from each other.



The instant the rowers were secured Harry Furness embraced his faithful
follower William Long. He had learned from Jacob that the ship had
appeared in sight about two in the afternoon, and that it was not
thought likely by the sailors of the port that she would reach it until
the breeze sprang up in the morning, although she might get within a
distance of five or six miles. The whole party had, in concurrence with
Harry's orders, brought with them their hoes, which were the only
weapons that were attainable. It was agreed that their best course would
be to row along the shore until near the lights of the port, then to row
out and lay on their oars half a mile beyond the entrance, where, as it
was a starlight night, they would assuredly see the ship if she had come
to anchor. As soon as the first dawn commenced they were to row out and
meet the ship. Wrappings of cloth were fastened round the rowlocks to
prevent noise, twelve men took the oars, the boat was shoved down into
the sea, and they started on their voyage. The boat rowed but slowly,
and it was, Harry judged, past three o'clock when they reached the point
they had fixed on off the mouth of the harbor. No ship was visible
outside the port, although there was sufficient light to have seen its
masts had it been there.

"We had better go another half-mile further out," he said. "Should they
take it into their heads on shore, when they see us, to send a fast
boat out to inquire what we are doing, it might overtake us before we
could reach the ship."

An hour after they had ceased rowing a faint streak of daylight appeared
in the west, and a ship could be seen about three miles seaward, while
the shore was nearly that distance behind them, for they had been
deceived by the darkness, and were much further out than they had

"It is all the better," Harry said. "It must be some time before they
think of sending a boat after us, and we shall reach the ship before it
can overtake us."

As soon as it became broad daylight Harry took one of the oars himself,
and all save the twelve rowers, and Jacob and William Long who sat in
the stern, lay down in the bottom of the boat, where some pieces of
matting, used for covering cargo, were thrown over them. There was not
as yet a breath of wind, and the ship's sails hung idly against the
masts. After three-quarters of an hour's hard rowing the barge
approached her side. There were only a few figures on the deck.

"Are you the captain of this vessel?" Jacob asked one who seemed to him
of that condition.

"Ay, ay," the sailor said. "What is the news?"

"I have come off from the island," Jacob answered, "by orders of his
worshipful the governor, to warn you that there is an insurrection among
the slaves of the island, and to bid you not to anchor outside, or to
wait for your papers being examined, but to enter at once."

By this time the boat was alongside, and Jacob climbed on board.

"You have brought some troops with you?" he asked, "They will be

"Yes, I have eighty men whom I have brought as a reinforcement to the
garrison of the island, besides a hundred and fifty prisoners from
Waterford, stowed away below the hatches forward. Hullo! why, what is
this? Treason!"

As he spoke Harry, followed by the rowers, swarmed on board armed with
their hoes. The captain and the men round him were at once knocked down.
The sentries over the fore hatchway discharged their muskets, and, with
some of the crew stationed there, made aft. But Harry's party had now
all joined him on deck. A rush was made, and the decks entirely cleared.
A few of the soldiers who came running up through the after hatchway on
hearing the tumult and noise of the fight were beaten down and hurled
below on those following them, and the hatches were slipped on and
secured. Then a triumphant shout of "God and the King!" was raised.

The forehatches were now lifted, and the prisoners invited to come up.
They rushed on deck, delighted and bewildered, for it was the first time
that they had seen the sun since they left England, having been kept
below, where many had died from confinement and bad air, while all were
sorely weakened and brought low. Among them were many officers, of whom
several were known to Harry - although they had some difficulty in
recognizing in the man, bronzed brown by his exposure to the sun and
clad in a tattered shirt and breeches - their former comrade, Harry
Furness. A search was at once made for arms, and ranged in the passage
to the captain's cabin were found twenty muskets for the use of the
crew, together with as many boarding pikes and sabers. Ammunition was
not wanting. The arms were divided among Harry's band of forty men, and
the twenty strongest of those they had rescued. The hoes were given to
the remainder.

The captain, who had by this time recovered from the blow dealt him by
Harry, was now questioned. He was told that if he would consent with his
crew to navigate the vessel to Holland, he should there be allowed to go
free with the ship, which it seemed was his own property; but the cargo
would be sold as a fair prize, to satisfy the needs of his captors. If
he refused, he would be sent with his crew on shore in the barge, and
his ship and cargo would alike be lost to him. The captain had no
hesitation in accepting the first of these alternatives, as he would be,
although no gainer by the voyage, yet no loser either. He told Harry
that for himself he had no sympathy with the rulers in London, and that
he sorely pitied the prisoners he was bringing over.

The hatch was now a little lifted, and the prisoners below summoned to
surrender. This they refused to do. Harry and his men then, with much
labor, lowered a four-pounder carronade down the forehatch, and wheeled
it to within a few feet of the bulkhead which divided that portion where
the prisoners had been confined from the after part. The gun was loaded
to the muzzle with grape, and discharged, tearing a hole through the
bulkhead and killing and wounding many within. Then the officer in
command offered to surrender.

Harry ordered them at once to hand up all their firelocks and other arms
through the hatchway, which was again lifted for the purpose. When those
on deck had armed themselves with those weapons, the prisoners were
ordered to come up, bringing their wounded with them. As they reached
the deck they were passed down into the barge, from which all the oars
save four had been removed. Six of the soldiers had been killed, and the
remainder having entered the barge, where they were stowed as thickly as
they could pack, the head rope was dropped, and they were allowed to row
away. Besides the eighty muskets of the guard, a store of firelocks,
sufficient to arm all on board, was found; these having been intended
for the use of the garrison. A gentle breeze had by this time sprung up
from the land, and the ship's head was turned seaward.

The boat was but half a mile behind them when it was joined by an
eight-oared galley, which had been seen rowing out from the harbor,
whence, doubtless, it had been dispatched to inquire into the errand of
the boat seen rowing off to the ship. After lying alongside the barge
for a minute or two she turned her head, and made back again with all

"You would have done more wisely," the captain said to Harry, "if you
had retained the prisoners on board until the second boat came
alongside. You could have swamped that, and sent those in it back with
the others, who will not reach shore until late this afternoon, for with
only four oars they will make no way until the land breeze falls."

"It would have been better - far better" - Harry agreed - "but one does not
always think of things at the right time. What ships are there in port,

"There is the vessel I came by and two others," Jacob replied, "all
about the same size as this, and mounting each as many guns. You have
eight, I see, captain; the one I came out in had ten."

"They will pursue us," the captain said, "you may be sure. It is known
that we are not a fast sailer, and I think, sir, you will have to fight
for it."

"So be it," Harry said. "There are two hundred of us, and though they
might sink the ship, they will assuredly never carry it by boarding.
There is not a man here who would not rather die fighting than spend his
life in slavery on that island."

The vessel had gone about six miles on her course, when from the
topmast the captain announced that the galley had gained the port, now
twelve miles distant. "There is a gun," he said, five minutes later.
"They have taken the alarm now." He then descended to the deck, leaving
a sailor in the tops. Two hours later the latter announced that the
topsails of three ships coming out from the harbor were visible.

"We have nigh thirty miles' start," the captain said. "They will not be
up to us till to-morrow at midday."

"Do you think it would be any use to try to lose them by altering our
course in the night?" Harry asked.

"No," the captain answered. "It is but ten o'clock in the day now. They
will be within ten or twelve miles by nightfall, for the wind is
stronger near the land than it is here, and with their night glasses
they could hardly miss us on a bright starlight night. I am ready to try
if you like, for I do not wish to see the ship knocked into matchwood."

After some deliberation it was determined to hold their course, and as
night came on it was found that escape would have been out of the
question, for the vessels behind had overhauled the Lass of Devon faster
than had been anticipated, and were little more than five miles astern.
They could be plainly seen after darkness set in, with the night

"What you must do, captain, is to lay her aboard the first which comes
up," Harry said; "even if they have brought all the garrison we shall be
far stronger than any one of them taken singly."

During the night the pursuing vessels lessened sail and maintained a
position about a mile astern of the chase, evidently intending to attack
in the morning. The day spent in the open air, with plenty of the best
eating and drinking which could be found in the ship, had greatly
reinvigorated the released prisoners, and when at daybreak the vessels
behind were seen to be closing up, all were ready for the fight. The
enemy, sure that their prey could not escape them, did not fire a shot
as they came up in her wake. The two immediately behind were but a
cable's length asunder, and evidently meant to engage on either side.
Harry ordered the greater portion of men below, leaving only sufficient
on deck to fight the guns, to whose use many were well accustomed. The
wind was very light, and the ships were scarcely stealing through the

"We had better fight them broadside to broadside," Harry said; "but keep
on edging down toward the ship to leeward."

The fight began with a heavy fire of musketry from the tops, where, in
all three ships, the best marksmen had been posted. Then, when they were
abreast of each other, the guns opened fire. The vessels were little
more than fifty yards apart. For half an hour the engagement continued
without intermission. Both ships of the enemy had brought all their guns
over to the sides opposed to the Royalist vessel, and fought eighteen
guns to his eight. Fearing to injure each other, both aimed entirely at
the hull of their opponent, while Harry's guns were pointed at the masts
and rigging. The sides of the Lass of Devon were splintered and broken
in all directions, while those of his assailants showed scarcely a shot
mark. The fire of his men in the tops - all old soldiers - had been so
heavy and deadly that they had killed most of the marksmen in the
enemy's tops, and had driven the rest below. All this time the Lass of
Devon was raked by the fire of the third vessel which had come up behind
her, and raked her fore and aft. At the end of the half-hour the
mainmast of the vessel to windward, which had been several times struck,
fell with a crash.

"Now, captain, lay her aboard the ship to leeward."

They had already edged down within twenty yards of this ship, and slowly
as they were moving through the water, in another three or four minutes
the vessels grated together. At Harry's first order the whole of his men
had swarmed on deck, pouring in such a fire of musketry that none could
stand alive at the enemy's tiller to keep her head away as the Lass of
Devon approached. As the vessels touched Harry leaped from the bulwark
on to the deck of the enemy, followed by Jacob and his men. The
Parliamentary troops had also rushed on deck, and, although inferior in
numbers, for they counted but eighty men, they made a sturdy stand.
Gradually, however, they were driven back, when an exclamation from
Mike, who, as usual, was close to Harry, caused him to look round.

The ship behind had, the moment she perceived the Lass of Devon bearing
down upon her consort, crowded on more sail, and was now ranging up on
the other side of her. Bidding Jacob press the enemy hard with half his
force, Harry, with the remainder, leaped back on to the deck of his own
ship, just as the enemy boarded from the other side. The fight was now a
desperate one. The vessel which had last arrived bore a hundred of the
troops of the garrison, and the numbers were thus nearly equal. The
Royalists, however, fought with a greater desperation, for they knew the
fate that awaited them if conquered. Gradually they cleared the deck of
the Lass of Devon of the enemy, and in turn boarded their opponent.
William Long led thirty men into the tops of the Lass of Devon, and
poured their fire into the crowded enemy. Every step of the deck was
fiercely contested, but at last the Roundheads gave way. Some threw down
their arms and called for quarter, others ran below. The Royalists, with
shouts of "Remember Drogheda!" fell upon them, and many of those who
had surrendered were cut down before Harry could arrest the slaughter.

A loud cheer announced the victory, and the men in the other ship, who
had hitherto, although with difficulty, made front against the attacks
of Jacob and his men, now lost heart and ran below. The wind had by this
time entirely dropped, but battening the prisoners below, Harry set his
men to thrust the ships past one another, until they were sufficiently
in line for their guns to be brought to bear upon the third enemy.
Crippled as she was by the loss of her mast, she immediately hauled down
her colors, and the victory was complete.

The prisoners were brought on deck and disarmed. Harry found that the
boats of the four ships would carry two hundred men closely packed, and
but a hundred and eighty of the two hundred and fifty troops who had
sailed in pursuit remained alive. These, with sufficient provisions and
water to last for three days, were made to take their places in the
boats, and told to row back to the island, which they should be able to
regain in two days at the utmost. The crews of the captured ships were
willing enough to obey the orders of their captors, for the sailors had
in general but little sympathy with the doings of Parliament. Harry had
lost in killed and wounded forty-two men, and the rest he divided
between the four ships, giving about thirty-five men to each. He
himself, with Jacob, William Long, and Mike, remained on board the Lass
of Devon, officers being placed in command of the troops on board the
other ships, which were ordered to sail in company with her. Twenty-four
hours were spent in getting a jury-mast set in place of that which had
been shot away. When this was completed the four ships hoisted their
canvas and sailed together for Holland.

They met with no adventure until near the mouth of the English Channel,
when one morning a fleet of eight ships was perceived. The captain of
the Lass of Devon at once pronounced them to be ships of war, and their
rate of sailing speedily convinced Harry that there was no chance of
escape. Against such odds resistance was useless, and the other ships
were signaled to lower their topsails in answer to the gun which the
leading ship of the squadron fired. Anticipating a return to captivity,
if not instant death, all on board watched the approaching men-of-war.
Presently these, when close at hand, brought up into the wind, and a
boat was lowered. It rowed rapidly to the Lass of Devon, which lay
somewhat the nearest to them. Harry stood on the quarter-deck ready to
surrender his sword. The boat came alongside, an officer leaped on deck
and advanced toward him.

Harry could scarce believe his eyes; this gallant, in the gay dress of a
cavalier officer, could be no follower of Cromwell. The officer paused
and gazed in astonishment at Harry. The recognition was mutual, and the
words "Furness" and "Elphinstone" broke from their lips.

"Why, Elphinstone, what squadron is that?"

"Prince Rupert's, to be sure," the officer said.

"What! did you take us for the Roundhead fleet?"

Harry made no reply, but taking off his hat, shouted to his men, "It is
the Royalist fleet. Three cheers for Prince Rupert."

A cheer of joy burst from the men, caught up and re-echoed by the crews
of the other ships. Harry led the officer into his cabin, and rapidly
explained to him the circumstances which had taken place; ten minutes
later, entering a boat, he rowed off to the flagship.

"Why! Harry Furness!" exclaimed Prince Rupert, "whither do you spring
from? I heard of you last as being sent to slave in the Bermudas, and
methought, old friend, that you would stand the heat better than most,
since you had served such a sharp apprenticeship with me in that oven
you wot of. And now tell me how is it that you have got free, and that I
find you sailing here with four ships?"

Harry related his adventure. When he had finished Prince Rupert said:

"I envy you, Furness, in that you have three faithful friends. One is as
much as most men could even hope for, whereas you have three, who each
seem willing to go through fire and water for you. They do remind me of
the wonderful servants of whom my old nurse used to tell me as a child.
They were given by a fairy to some fortunate prince, and whenever he got

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Online LibraryG.A. HentyFriends, though divided A Tale of the Civil War → online text (page 17 of 24)