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A Roving Commission by G. A. Henty

Turnbull is the champion fabricator


"I

do look funny, do I not?" she said.

"I am sure you look very nice," Turnbull replied. "It is quite a novelty for us to have a lady on board."

"And are you both going to help bring my friends down?"

"Yes, we are all going. We will get them down, and I hope we shall have a chance of punishing some of the murderous niggers."

"You mean you hope that there will be a fight?" she asked in a tone of surprise, as she took her seat on Nat's right hand.

"That I do," Turnbull said heartily. "There is not a man on board who would not be sorry if we were to get down again without an opportunity of having a slap at the beggars."

"Mr. Turnbull is a very bloodthirsty character," Nat said gravely. "I don't know whether you have in French a history of Jack the Giant Killer?"

"I never saw such a book," she said, looking a little puzzled. "Did he really kill giants?"

"Yes, Jack did; he was wonderful that way. Mr. Turnbull has never been able to find any giants, but he means to take it out of the blacks."

"I am sorry to say, mademoiselle," Turnbull said, "that although when on the quarter-deck our captain's word may be received as gospel, he permits himself a very wide latitude of speech in

his own cabin. The fact is, that whatever my disposition may be, I have never yet had any opportunity for performing any very desperate actions, whereas Lieutenant Glover has been killing his enemies by scores, fighting with wild beasts, attacking pirates in their holds, has been blown up into the air, and rescued ladies from slaughter by the negroes."

The French girl turned her eyes wonderingly towards Nat.

"You need not believe more than you like, mademoiselle," he said with a laugh. "I am afraid that we are all given to exaggerate very much, but Mr. Turnbull is the champion fabricator."

"But is it quite true that you are going to try to get my father and mother and sister away from the negroes?"

"That is quite true," Nat said earnestly. "We are certainly going to try to get them, and I think that we have a good chance of doing so. Much will depend, of course, upon whether we can reach the hut where they are confined before being discovered. You see, we have only twenty-five men, or, counting us all, including the quarter-master, steward, and cook, thirty-one. It is a small force, and though we might bring all the prisoners off in safety if we once got them into our hands, it would be a serious thing if the negroes had time to rally round the hut before we got there. How does it stand, is it surrounded by trees?"

"No, it is at the edge of the forest. There is a large indigo field in front, and it is there most of the negroes are. There may be some in the forest, but I did not see any as I came down here."

"That is good. How many do you say there are?"

"Seven men, without counting my father."

"We will tell eight of the sailors to carry up boarding-pikes, Turnbull. Unfortunately we have no spare firearms. However, boarding-pikes are not bad weapons, and as no doubt only a small portion of the negroes have guns, it will add a good deal to our strength if it comes to a hand-to-hand fight."


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