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A Roving Commission by G. A. Henty

He was up country in Hayti when the negroes rose


style="text-align: justify;"> CHAPTER XVIII

ANOTHER ENGAGEMENT

The three vessels kept company until, on the third day after sailing, they overtook the two merchantmen. Nat, supposing that the _Isis_ would now leave them, went on board to thank the captain for the great assistance that he had given him.

"I shall stay with you now, Mr. Glover. The news of the outbreak of war will be known at Jamaica by this time, for the despatches were sent off on the day before we sailed from home, by the _Fleetwing_, which is the fastest corvette in the service. She was to touch at Antigua and then go straight on to Port Royal. I was to carry the news to Barbados, so that it does not make any difference whether I reach Kingston two hours earlier or later. There is a possibility that the French may have sent ships off even before they declared war with us, and as it is certain that there are several war-ships of theirs out here, one of these might fall in with you before you reach Jamaica. Therefore as my orders are simply to report myself to the admiral at Kingston, I think it is quite in accordance with my duty that I should continue to sail in company with you."

"Thank you, sir. There certainly is at least one French frigate in the bay of Hayti, and if she has received the news she is quite likely to endeavour to pick up some prizes before it is generally

known, just as the _Spartane_ picked up those merchantmen, and though possibly we might beat her off, I should very much prefer to be let alone."

"Yes, you have done enough for one trip, and I should much regret were you to be deprived of any of your captures."

The _Agile_ was signalled to prepare to pick up her boat, and Nat was soon on board his own craft again. He ran up to within speaking distance of the _Spartane_, and shouted to Turnbull that the _Isis_ was going to remain in company with them. Turnbull waved his hand, for although he had not entertained any fear of their being attacked, he felt nervous at his responsibility if a sudden gale should spring up and the temporary rudder be carried away. It was a comfort to him to know that, should this happen, the _Isis_ would doubtless take him in tow, for in anything like a wind the _Agile_ would be of little use. However, the weather continued fine, and in five days after leaving Barbados they entered Kingston harbour. Three hours before, the _Isis_ had spread all sail, and entered, dropping anchor half an hour before the _Agile_ sailed in in charge of the three large ships. The brigantine was heartily cheered by the crews of all the vessels in port, but it was naturally supposed that it was the _Isis_ that had done the principal work in capturing the _Spartane_. Her captain, however, had rowed to the flag-ship directly they came in port, leaving Mr. Ferguson to see to the _Spartane_ being anchored, and had given him a brief account of the nature of the procession that was approaching three or four miles away.

"He is a most extraordinary young officer," the admiral said. "He first distinguished himself nearly three years ago by rescuing the daughter of a planter in Hayti, who was attacked by a fierce hound, and who would have been killed had he not run up. He was very seriously hurt, but managed to despatch the animal with his dirk. Since that time he has been constantly engaged in different adventures. He was in that desperate fight when the _Orpheus_ broke up a notorious horde of pirates on the mainland, and distinguished himself greatly. He was up country in Hayti when the negroes rose, and he there saved from the blacks a lady and her daughter, the same girl that he had rescued from the dog, and shot eight of the villains, but had one of his ribs broken by a ball. In spite of that, he carried the lady, who was ill with fever, some thirty miles across a rough country down to Cape Francois in a litter.


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