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at a loss how to proceed, the governor now sent the Martha
down for information, with orders for her to beat up to the
Needle, as soon as she could, the Anne intending to ren
dezvous there, next morning, agreeably to previous ar
rangements. As the Martha went off before the wind, the
Anne hauled up sharp towards the Peak, under the im
pression that something might have been seen of the
strangers from the high land there. About four in the
morning the Anne went into the cove, and the governor
ascended to the plain to have an interview with Heaton.
He found everything tranquil in that quarter. Nothing
had been seen of the strange squadron, since it went out
of sight, under the volcano ; nor had even the Neshamony
come in. The governor's arrival was soon known, early as
it was, and he had visits from half the women on the island,



OR, VULCAN'S PEAK. 409

to inquire after their absent husbands. Each wife was told
all the governor knew, and this short intercourse relieved
the minds of a great many.

At eight, the Anne sailed again, and at ten she had the
Needle in sight, with three boats off it, on the look-out.
Here, then, were tidings at last; but, the impatience of the
governor was restrained, in order to make out the character
of a sail that had been seen coming down through the
straits, under a cloud of canvas. In a short time, this ves
sel was made out to be the Abraham, and the Anne hauled
up to get her news. The two schooners spoke each other
about twelve o'clock, but the Abraham had no intelligence
to impart. She had been sent, or rather carried by Bige-
lovv, out by the eastern passage, and had stood along the
whole of the weather-side of the group, to give notice to
the whalers where to go; and she had notified the two
brigs to go in to-windward, and to remain in Weather Bay,
where all the rest of the dull crafts had been taken for
safety ; and then had come to-leeward to look for the go
vernor. As the Abraham was barely a respectable sailer,
it was not deemed prudent to take her too near the strangers ;
but, she might see how matters were situated to the east
ward. By keeping on the weather-coast, and so near the
land as not to be cut off from it, she would be of particular
service ; since no enemy could approach in that quarter,
without being seen ; and Bigelow's familiarity with the
channels would enable him, not only to save his schooner
by running in, but would put it in his power to give notice
throughout the whole group, of the position and apparent
intentions of the strangers. The Abraham, accordingly,
hauled by the wind, to beat back to her station, while the
Anne kept off for the Needle.

At the rendezvous, the governor found most of his craft
waiting for him. The Neshamony was still behind ; but
all the rest had executed their orders, and were standing
off and on, near the cape, ready to report. Nothing had
been seen of the strangers ! It was certain they had not
approached the group, for two of the boats had just come
out of it, having left the colonists busy with the prepara
tions for defence, but totally undisturbed in other respects.
This information gave the governor increased uneasiness.
35



410 THE CRATER;

His hope of hearing from the pirates, in time to be ready
to meet them, now depended on hi3 reports from to lee
ward. The Neshamony ought soon to be in ; nor could it
be long before the Martha would return. The great source
of apprehension now came from a suspicion that some of
the Kannakas might be acting as pirates, along with Waally.
For Waally himself no great distrust was felt, since he
had never been allowed to see much of the channels of
the group ; but it was very different with the sea-going Kan
nakas, who had been employed by the colonists. Some of
these men were familiar with all the windings and turnings
of the channels, knew how much water could be taken
through a passage, and, though not absolutely safe pilots,
perhaps, were men who might enable skilful seamen to
handle their vessels with tolerable security within the
islands. Should it turn out that one or two of these fel
lows had undertaken to carry the strangers up to wind
ward, and to take them into one of the passages in that
quarter of the group, they might be down upon the differ
ent fortified points before they were expected, and sweep
all before them. It is true, this danger had been in a mea
sure foreseen, and persons had been sent to look out for it ;
but it never had appeared so formidable to the governor, as
now that he found himself completely at fault where to
look for his enemy. At length, a prospect of fresh reports
appeared. The Neshamony was seen in the southern
board, standing across from the Peak ; and about the same
time, the Martha was made out in the south-western, beat
ing up from Rancocus Island direct. As the first had
been ordered to land, and had also been round by the vol
cano, the Anne hauled up for her, the governor being im
patient to get her tidings first. In half an hour, the twcj
vessels were alongside of each other. But the Neshamony
had very little that was new to tell ! The pirates had re
mained on the island but a short time after Bigelow and
his companions got away, doing all the damage they could,
however, in that brief space. When they left, it was night,
and nothing very certain could be told of their movements.
When last seen, however, they were on a wind, and head
ing to the southward, a little westerly ; which looked like
beating up towards the volcano, the trades now blowing



OR, VULCAN'S PEAK. 411

due south-east. But the Neshamony had been quite round
the volcano, without obtaining a sight of the strangers.
Thence she proceeded to the Peak, where she arrived
only a few hours after the governor had sailed, going into
the cove and finding all quiet. Of course, the Martha
could have no more to say than this, if as much ; and the
governor was once more left to the pain of deep suspense.
As was expected, when Betts joined, he had nothing at all
to tell. He had been ashore at Rancocus Point, heard the
complaints of the people touching their losses, but had
obtained no other tidings of the wrong-doers. Unwilling
to lose time, he staid but an hour, and had been beating
back to the rendezvous the rest of the period of his ab
sence. Was it possible that the strangers had gone back
to Betto's group, satisfied with the trifling injuries they
had inflicted? This could hardly be; yet it was not easy
to say where else they had been. After a consultation, it
was decided that the Martha should stand over in that di
rection, in the hope that she might pick up some intelli
gence, by meeting with fishing canoes that often came
out to a large cluster of rocks, that lay several leagues to
windward of the territories of Ooroony and Waally. Cap
tain Betts had taken his leave of the governor, and had
actually got on board his own vessel, in order to make sail,
when a signal was seen flying on board one of the boats
that was kept cruising well out in the straits, intimating
that strange vessels were seen to windward. This induced
the governor to recall the Martha, and the whole of the
look-out vessels stood off into the straits.

In less than an hour, all doubts were removed. There
were the strangers, sure enough, and what was more, there
was the Abraham ahead of them, pushing for Cape South
passage, might and main ; for the strangers were on her
heels, going four feet to her three. It appeared, after
wards, that the pirates, on quitting Rancocus Island, had
stood off to the southward, until they reached to windward
of the volcano, passing however a good bit to leeward of
the island, on their first stretch, when, finding the Peak
just dipping, they tacked to the northward and westward,
and stood off towards the ordinary whaling-ground of the
colony, over which they swept in the expectation of cap-



412 THE CRATER;

taring the brigs. The pirates had no occasion for oU,
which they probably would have destroyed in pure wan
tonness, but they were much in want of naval stores, cord
age in particular, and the whaling gear of the two brigs
would have been very acceptable to them. While running
in for the group, after an unsuccessful search, they made
the Abraham, and gave chase. That schooner steered for
the straits, in the hope of finding the governor ; but was so
hard pressed by her pursuers, as to be glad to edge in for
Cape South roads, intending to enter the group, and run
for the Reef, if she could do no better.

Luckily, the discovery of the look-out boat prevented
the execution of the Abraham's project, which would have
led the pirates directly up to the capital. But, no sooner
did the governor see how things were situated, than he
boldly luffed up towards the strangers, intending to divert
them from the chase of the Abraham ; or, at least, to sepa
rate them, in chase of himself. In this design he was
handsomely seconded by Betts, in the Martha, who hauled
his wind in the wake of the Anne, and carried everything
that would draw, in order to keep his station. This deci
sion and show of spirit had its effect. The two brigs,
which were most to the southward, altered their course,
and edged away for the Anne and Martha, leaving the ship
to follow the Abraham alone. The governor was greatly
rejoiced at this, for he had a notion a vessel as large as the
strange ship would hesitate about entering the narrow
waters, on account of her draught ; she being much larger
than any craft that had ever been in before, as the Kanna-
kas must know, and would not fail to report to the pirates.
The governor supposed this ship to be a vessel of between
six and seven hundred tons measurement. Her armament
appeared to be twelve guns of a side, below, and some
eight or ten guns on her quarter-deck and forecastle.
This was a formidable craft in those days, making what
was called in the English service, an eight-and-twenty gun
frigate, a class of cruisers that were then found to be very
useful. It is true, that the first class modern sloop-of-war
would blow one of those little frigates out of water, being
several hundred tons larger, with armaments, crews and
spars in proportion ; but an eight-and-twenty gun frigat



OR, VULCAN'S PEAK. 413

ffered a very formidable force to a community like that
of the crater, and no one knew it better than the governor.

The three strangers all sailed like witches. It was well
for the Abraham that she had a port so close under her
lee, or the ship would have had her, beyond the smallest
doubt. As it was she caught it, as she rounded the cape,
as close in as she could go, the frigate letting slip at her
the whole of her starboard broadside, which cut away the
schooner's gaff, jib-stay, and main-topmast, besides killing
a Kannaka, who was in the main-cross-trees at the time.
This last occurrence turned out to be fortunate, in the
main, however, since it induced all the Kannakas to be
lieve that the strangers were their enemies, in particular ;
else why kill one of their number, when there were just
as many colonists as Kannakas to shoot at !

As the governor expected, the ship did not venture to
follow the Abraham in. That particular passage, in fact,
was utterly unknown to Waally, and those with him, and
he could not give such an account of it as would encou
rage the admiral to stand on. Determined not to lose
time unnecessarily, the latter hauled short off shore, and
made sail in chase of the Anne and Martha, which, by
this time, were about mid-channel, heading across to the
Peak. It was not the wish of the governor, however, to
lead the strangers any nearer to the cove than was neces
sary, and, no sooner did he see the Abraham well within
the islands, her sails concealed by the trees, of which
there was now a little forest on this part of the coast, and
the ship drawing well off the land in hot pursuit of him
self, than he kept away in the direction of Rancocus Isl
and, bringing the wind on his larboard quarter. The
strangers followed, and in half an hour they were all so
far to leeward of Cape South, as to remove any apprehen
sion of their going in there very soon.

Thus far, the plan of the governor had succeeded to
admiration. He had his enemies in plain sight, within a
league of him, and in chase of his two fastest craft. The
best sailing of the Anne and Martha was on a wind, and,
as a matter of course, they could do better, comparatively,
in smooth water, than larger craft. No sooner, therefore,
had he got his pursuers far enough off the land, and far



414 THE CRATER;

enough to leeward, than the governor wore, or jibed would
be the better word, running off northwest, with the wind
on his starboard quarter. This gave the strangers a little
the advantage, in one sense, though they lost it in another.
It brought them on his weather-beam ; pretty well forward
of it, too; but the Needle was directly ahead of the
schooner and sloop, and the governor foresaw that his
pursuers would have to keep off to double that, which he
was reasonably certain of reaching first.

Everything turned out as the governor anticipated. The
pirates had near a league of water more to pass over, be
fore they could double the Needle, than the Anne and the
Martha had ; and, though those two crafts were obliged to
haul up close to the rocks, under a distant fire from all
three of their pursuers, no harm was done, and they were
soon covered by the land, and were close-hauled in smooth
water, to leeward of the group. Twenty minutes later,
the strangers came round the cape, also, bearing up sharp,
and following their chase. This was placing the enemy
just where the colonists could have wished. They were
now to-leeward of every point in the settlements, looking
up towards the roads, which opened on the western pas
sage, or that best known to Waally, and which he would
be most likely to enter, should he attempt to pilot the
strangers in. This was getting the invaders precisely
where the governor wished them to be, if they were to
attack him at all. They could not reach the Reef in less
than twenty-four hours, with their knowledge of the chan
nel ; would have to approach it in face of the heaviest and
strongest batteries, those provided for Waally; and, if suc
cessful in reaching the inner harbour, would enter it under
the fire of the long twelves mounted on the crater, which
was, rightly enough, deemed to be the citadel of the entire
colony, unless, indeed, the Peak might better deserve that
name.



OB, TUSCAN'S PEAK. 415



CHAPTER XXVIII.

* It scares the sea-birds from their nests ;

They dart and wheel with deafening screams ;
Now dark and now their wings and breasts

Flash back amid disastrous gleams.
O, sin ! what hast thou done on this fair earth ?
The world, man ! is wailing o'er thy birth."

DANA.

IT was the policy of the colonists to lead their pursuers
directly up to the Western Roads. On the small island,
under which vessels were accustomed to anchor, was a
dwelling or two, and a battery of two guns nine-pounders.
These guns were to command the anchorage. The island
lay directly in front of the mouth of the passage, making a
very beautiful harbour within it ; though the water was so
smooth in the roads, and the last were so much the most
convenient for getting under-way in, that this more shel
tered haven was very little used. On the present occasion,
however, all the colony craft beat up past the island, and
anchored inside of it. The crews were then landed, and
they repaired to the battery, which they found ready for
service in consequence of orders previously sent.

Here, then, was the point where hostilities would be
likely to commence, should hostilities commence at all.
One of the boats was sent across to the nearest island in
land, where a messenger was landed, with directions to
carry a letter to Pennock, at the Reef. This messenger
was compelled to walk about six miles, the whole distance
in a grove of young palms and bread-fruit trees; great
pains having been taken to cultivate both of these plants
throughout the group, in spots favourable to their growth.
After getting through the grove, the path came out on a
plantation, where a horse was kept for this especial object;
and here the man mounted and galloped off to the Reef,
soon finding himself amid a line of some of the most flour
ishing plantations in the colony. Fortunately, however, a



416 THE CRATER;

things then threatened, these plantations were not on the
main channel, but stood along the margin of a passage
which was deep enough to receive any craft that floated,
but which was a cul-de-sac, that could be entered only from
the eastward. Along the margin of the ship-channel, there
was not yet soil of the right quality for cultivation, though
it was slowly forming, as the sands that lay thick on the
adjacent rocks received other substances by exposure to
the atmosphere.

The Anne and her consorts had been anchored about an
hour, when the strangers hove-to in the roads, distant about
half a mile from the battery. Here they all hoisted white
flags, as if desirous of having a parley. The governor did
not well know how to act. He could not tell whether or
not it would do to trust such men ; and he as little liked to
place Betts, or any other confidential friend, in their power,
as he did to place himself there. Nevertheless, prudence
required that some notice should be taken of the flag of
truce ; and he determined to go off a short distance from
the shore in one of his own boats, and hoist a white flag,
which would be as much as to say that he was waiting
there to receive any communication that the strangers might
chose to send him.

It was not long after the governor's boat had reached her
station, which was fairly within the short range of the two
guns in the battery, ere a boat shoved ofF from the ship,
showing the white flag, too. In a few minutes, the two
boats were within the lengths of each other's oars, riding
peacefully side by side.

On board the stranger's boat, in addition to the six men
who were at the oars, were three persons in the stern-
sheets. One of these men, as was afterwards ascertained,
was the admiral himself; a second was an interpreter, who
spoke English with a foreign accent, but otherwise per
fectly well ; and the third was no other than Waally ! The
governor thought a fierce satisfaction was gleaming in the
countenance of the savage when they met, though the lat
ter said nothing. The interpreter opened the communi
cations.

" Is any one in that boat," demanded this person, " who
is empowered to speak for the authorities ashore?"



OR, VULCAN'S PEAK. 417

" There is," answered the governor, who did not deem
ii wise, nevertheless, exactly to proclaim his rank. " I
have full powers, being directly authorized by the chief-
magistrate of this colony."

" To what nation does your colony belong?"

This was an awkward question, and one that had not
been at all anticipated, and which the governor was not
fully prepared to answer.

" Before interrogatories are thus put, it might be as well
for me to know by what authority I am questioned at all,"
returned Mr. Woolston. " What are the vessels which
have anchored in our waters, and under what flag do they
sail?"

" A man-of-war never answers a hail, unless it comes
from another man-of-war," answered the interpreter,
smiling.

" Do you, then, claim to be vessels of war 1"

" If compelled to use our force, you will find us so.
We have not come here to answer questions, however, but
to ask them. Does your colony claim to belong to any
particular nation, or not ?"

" We are all natives of the United States of America,
and our vessels sail under her flag."

" The United States of America !" repeated the inter
preter, with an ill-concealed expression of contempt.
" There is good picking among the vessels of that nation,
as the great European belligerents well know ; and while
so many are profiting by it, we may as well come in for our
share."

It may be necessary to remind a portion of our readers,
that this dialogue occurred more than forty years ago, and
long before the republic sent out its fleets and armies to
conquer adjacent states; when, indeed, it had scarce a
fleet and army to protect its own eoasts and frontiers from
insults and depredations. It is said that when the late
Emperor of Austria, the good and kind-hearted Francis II.,
was shown the ruins of the little castle of Habsburg,
which is still to be seen crowning a low height, in the
canton of Aarraw, Switzerland, he observed, " I now see
that we have not always been a great family." The go
vernor cared very little for the fling at his native land, but



418 THE CRATER;

he did not relish the sneer, as it indicated the treatment
likely to be bestowed on his adopted country. Still, the
case was not to be remedied except by the use of the means
already provided, should his visitors see fit to resort to
force.

A desultory conversation now ensued, in which the
strangers pretty plainly let their designs be seen. In the
first place they demanded a surrender of all the craft be
longing to the colony, big and little, together with all the
naval stores. This condition complied with, the strangers
intimated that it was possible their conquests would not be
pushed much further. Of provisions, they stoed in need
of pork, and they understood that the colony had hogs
without number. If they would bring down to the island
a hundred fat hogs, with barrels and salt, within twenty-
four hours, it was probable, however, no further demand
for provisions would be made. They had obtained fifty
barrels of very excellent flour at Rancocus Island, and
could not conveniently stow more than that number, in
addition to the demanded hundred barrels of pork. The
admiral also required that hostages should be sent on board
his ship, and that he should be provided with proper pilots,
in order that he, and a party of suitable size, might take
the Anne and the Martha, and go up to the town, which
he understood lay some twenty or thirty miles within the
group. Failing of an acquiescence in these terms, war,
and war of the most ruthless character, was to be imme
diately proclaimed. All attempts to obtain an announce
ment of any national character, on the part of the strangers,
was evaded ; though, from the appearance of everything
he saw, the governor could not now have the smallest
doubt that he had to do with pirates.

After getting all out of the strangers that he could, and
it was but little at the best, the governor quietly, but stea
dily refused to accede to any one of the demands, and put
the issue on the appeal to force. The strangers were ob
viously disappointed at this answer, for the thoughtful,
simple manner of Mark Woolston had misled them, and
they had actually flattered themselves with obtaining all
they wanted without a struggle. At first, the anger of the
admiral threatened some treacherous violence on the spot,



R, VULCAN S PEAK. 419

but the crews of the two boats were so nearly equal, that
prudence, if not good faith, admonished him of the neces
sity of respecting the truce. The parties separated, how
ever, with denunciations, nay maledictions, on the part of
the strangers, the colonists remaining quiet in demeanor,
but firm.

The time taken for the two boats to return to their re
spective points of departure was but short ; and scarcely
was that of the stranger arrived alongside of its vessel, ere
the ship fired a gun. This was the signal of war, the shot
of that first gun falling directly in the battery, where it
took off the hand of a Kannaka, besides doing some other
damage. This was not a very favourable omen, but the
governor encouraged his people, and to work both sides
went, trying who could do the other the most harm. The
cannonading was lively and well sustained, though it was
not like one of the present time, when shot are hollow, and
a gun is chambered and, not unfrequently, has a muzzle
almost as large as the open end of a flour-barrel, and a
breech as big as a hogshead. At the commencement of
this century a long twelve-pounder was considered a smart
piece, and was thought very capable of doing a good deal
of mischief. The main battery of the ship was composed
of guns of that description, while one of the brigs carried
eight nines, and the other fourteen sixes. As the ship
mounted altogether thirty, if not thirty-two, guns, this left
the governor to contend with batteries that had in them at
least twenty-six pieces, as opposed to his own two. A
couple of lively guns, nevertheless, well-served and properly



Online LibraryJames Fenimore CooperWorks (Volume 29) → online text (page 38 of 42)