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A Middy of the Slave Squadron by Harry Collingwood

I will find Mr Hutchinson and send him to you


came to a halt beside the skipper, and looked round me. A couple of yards away stood Cupid, who, it seemed, had just caught sight of the captain as he fell, and had pulled himself up short.

"You, Cupid," I shouted, "come back here, sir, and lend me a hand to get the captain back into the gig."

The fellow came, and stooping over the skipper's body raised it tenderly in his arms.

"All right, Mistah Fortescue, sar," he said; "you no trouble. I take dem captain back to de gig by myself, and find Mistah Hutchinson," (the surgeon). "But it no good, sar; he gone dead. Look dere." And he pointed to a ghastly great hole in the side of the skipper's head, just above the left ear, where a piece of langrage of some description had crashed its way through the poor fellow's skull into his brain. It was a horrid sight, and it turned me quite sick for the moment, accustomed though I was by this time to see men suffering from all sorts of injuries.

"Very well," I said; "take it--the captain, I mean--back to the gig, anyway, and do not leave him until you have turned him over to Mr Hutchinson; who, by the way, is in the launch, which I see is just coming alongside. I will find Mr Hutchinson and send him to you." And away I hurried toward the spot where I saw the launch approaching, for the double purpose of reporting to Mr Perry the news of the captain's

fall, and dispatching the surgeon to see if life still remained in the body.

The first luff was terribly shocked at the news which I had to tell him; from a distance he had seen the skipper fall, but had hoped that it was a wound, at most. But this was not the moment for unavailing regrets; the fall of the captain at once placed Perry in command and made him responsible for the fate of the expedition. He therefore gave orders for the guns which were mounted in the bows of the launch, pinnace, and first and second cutters to be cast loose and landed, the men not engaged in this work being placed under the command of the third lieutenant, with instructions to load their muskets and keep up a constant fire upon the windows of the various buildings. Then, as soon as the guns were landed, two of them were loaded with double charges of grape, for the purpose of clearing the bush of the hidden foe, while the remaining two were double shotted and then run close up to the barricaded doors of the buildings, which were thus blown in, one after the other. As each door was blown in the building to which it belonged was stormed; the enemy, however, contriving to effect an exit by the rear as our lads poured in at the front. In ten minutes the whole of the buildings were ours, without further casualties on our side; after which we set them on fire and, waiting until they were well alight, retired in good order to the boats, in which we hauled off far enough to enable us to effectively cover the burning buildings with our musketry fire and thus defeat any attempt to extinguish the flames. An hour later the entire settlement was reduced to a heap of smouldering ashes; whereupon we pulled away round to the main stream once more by way of the back of the island, in search of further possible barracoons, but found none.

Our loss in this affair, considering its importance, was comparatively slight, amounting as it did to two killed--of whom one was the skipper-- and seven wounded. But we were a sorrowful party as we left the lagoon behind us and found ourselves once more in the main stream and on our way back to the ship; for Captain Harrison was beloved by everybody, fore and aft, and we all felt that we could better have spared any one else than him.


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