Kidnapping in the Pacific, by WHG Kingston.
KIDNAPPING IN THE PACIFIC, BY WHG KINGSTON.
"You want a yarn. You shall have one," said a young friend of mine, a
midshipman, who had just returned from a four years' cruise
Pacific. "I am not a good hand at describing what I have seen, but I
can narrate better the adventures of others which they have told me:--"
We had visited a good many islands in the Pacific, engaged in settling
the disputes of the natives or trying
to settle them, punishing evil
doers, supporting the consuls and missionaries, surveying occasionally
hitherto unknown harbours, and endeavouring to make the British flag
respected among the dark-skinned inhabitants of those regions.
I with another midshipman and a boat's crew had landed on a beautiful
island of the Western Pacific to bring off a cargo of cocoa-nuts and
breadfruit with which the natives had promised to supply us. Two of our
men had straggled off against orders into the interior. While waiting
for them we saw the signal made for our return. Unwilling to leave them
behind, we ourselves unwisely started off to look for them. The natives
gave us to understand that they were a little way ahead, so we pushed on
hoping to come up with them and bring them with us.
time longer than we expected was thus occupied, and when
having at length overtaken them we got back to the beach, we found that
a strong breeze
had set in, and that so heavy a surf was breaking on the
shore that it would be extremely
dangerous passing through it. Still
the signal was flying and the order must be obeyed.
We shoved off, but had not pulled many strokes before a succession
tremendous rollers came roaring in, turning the boat right over and
sending her back almost stove to pieces on the beach. Had it not been
for the natives who swam to our rescue, we should probably have lost our
Wet through, and half-drowned, we were dragged on shore. It would have
to have again made an effort to get off. All we could do,
therefore, was to haul our sorely
battered boat out of the reach of the
surf and to collect the portion
of our cargo washed up on the sands.
Although it was tolerably hot we felt that we should be more comfortable
than we were if we could shift our wet clothes. The garments worn by
the natives could assist
us but little, seeing
that most of them wore
only somewhat narrow waist clothes. They made us understand, however,
that not far off we should find the house of a white man, who would
perhaps afford us accommodation. Why he had not yet hitherto
appearance we could not tell, but we determined to visit him and claim
his hospitality. Led by the natives, we proceeded some distance along
the beach when we came in sight of a hut, larger and more substantially
built than the other habitations around. Just inside a porch at the
entrance of the hut, an old white man, dressed in shirt and trousers,
with a broad-brimmed straw hat on his head, was seated in a roughly
easy-chair with his feet resting on the trellis-work before him. A
pipe was in his mouth, from which he was smoking lustily.
He seemed scarcely to notice our approach, and when we addressed him he
enquired in a gruff voice where we came from and what we wanted. We
told him what had happened, and asked him if he could give us shelter,
and lend us some garments while our clothes were drying.
"As to that, young gentlemen, you shall have a shirt and a pair of duck
trousers apiece, and such food as there may happen to be in my
store-house," he answered, seeing
by our uniforms who we were. "Your
men shall be looked after also."
We were soon seated round his cooking stove inside the house, rigged out
in the garments he had provided while our own clothes were hung up to
dry. A native girl attended us, obeying with alacrity the old man's
commands. We supposed
her to be his daughter, and spoke of her as such.
"No, you are wrong in that, I have no child," he observed. "She is my
wife. That," pointing to a thick stick which rested on a stool near
him, "served as my marriage lines, it makes her as sharp and attentive
as I can wish, and keeps her in good order."
I had suspected from the appearance of the old fellow that he was a
ruffian; I had now no doubt that he was a thorough
one; and I felt sure
that had he dared he would not have scrupled to hand us over to the
natives should they by chance demand our lives. A man-of-war in the
offing, though she might be driven
away for a few days, afforded us
with such a character.
At first he was not disposed to be communicative; he kept beating
the bush to ascertainapparently
whether we knew anything about him, and
had come to call him to account
for any misdeeds of which he might have
been conscious. When he discovered that we were not even aware that a
white man resided on the island, he opened out more freely. I was
curious to know something about him, and, concealing the opinion I had
formed of his character, tried to induce him to talk of himself; that he
was an old sailor I could see at a glance.
"You were long at sea, I suppose," I observed.
"First and last pretty nigh sixty years," he answered.
"I was a small boy when I first ran off from home, and I never lived on
shore many weeks together from that time up to within a few years ago.
I have served on board every sort of craft afloat, and have seen a good
many curious sights, as you may suppose."
not to interrupt
him, unless he should get a hitch in his
yarn with which a question might help him through, so I let him run on,
and, once having begun, he seemed nothing loth to allow his tongue full
play. Probably he had not had auditors who could understand him for
many a long day.
"The first craft I shipped aboard
was bound for the coast of Africa. In
those days not a few vessels belonging to Liverpool were engaged in one
way or another in the slave trade, either in supplying the slavers with
goods, and stores, and provisions, or in actuallyrunning
blacks, which though the most profitable
was a dangerous business to
"I understood that we were to bring back gold dust and ivory, but
instead of that we began to load with negroes, and soon had pretty nigh
three hundred stowed away below hatches. We had hoisted the Spanish
flag, and had a Spanish captain, and fresh papers, for it was, I fancy,
matter for an Englishman to command a slaver, though a few
years back it had been all lawful
and shipshape, but things change, you
see, and what seems right one day is wrong the other. We had to keep a
bright look out for English cruisers, who were on the coast to put a
stop to the business.
"I heard some curious yarns of the way the slaves are taken. Some
powerful tribes make it a regular business, and attack their weaker
neighbours for no other purpose than to capture
them, and then to sell
them to the slave dealers. They generally steal on a village at night,
surround and set fire to it, and seize all the inhabitants who rush from
their huts to escape the flames. Parties go out to pick up others
wandering in the woods, or travelling from one place to another. The
inhabitants of the West Coast of Africa must have an uncomfortable
of it, I suspect. With our living cargo on board we made sail for South
"Before we were many leagues from the shore, an English man-of-war hove
in sight. Should we be taken we should not only lose the vessel
expected profits, but it would go hard with the English part of the
crew. All knew that, and were ready to do anything to escape. We made
all sail, but for a wonder the British man-of-war was a fast craft, and
soon began to overhaul us. Our skipper, and most of the officers and
crew, swore fearfully at the stranger, and some declared that sooner
than be taken they would blow our vessel, with all the niggers on board,
as well as the English cruiser, into the air.
"I observed the captain and officers talking together, and there was a
in their looks which showed they meant what they
said. I had no fancy to be blown into the air, and was considering
I could do to save myself.
"As the cruiser
drew near I saw some of our men go below, and presently
up they came with a black fellow. They led him aft and lowered him
"`Don't be frightened, all you have to do is to swim to yonder ship, and
she will pick you up,' said the mate.
"I don't fancy the negro understood him, still blacks are as fond of
life as other people, and I saw him striking
for the ship.
He was seen. The ship hove-to, a boat was lowered, and he was picked
up. Our people laughed at the success of the plan, for we had increased
our distance from the enemy.
"Evening was coming on. The great thing was to keep ahead of her till
darkness would allow us to alter our course without being perceived.
"In a short time, as soon as we saw that the boat was hoisted up,
another negro was hove overboard. He was a strong swimmer, and struck
out boldly. He, too, was seen on board the man-of-war, and by another
cruiser of the deep also, a huge shark. The monster
made towards him,
he swam bravely
on for his life, but it was of no avail. Before long he
disappeared, and I fancied I could hear the shriek
he uttered, even at
the distance he already was from us.
"We should have sacrificed half our cargo rather than be taken as long
as there appeared any probability
of the man-of-war heaving-to to pick
up the unfortunate
wretches, but the breeze
falling light, we had an
advantage over the heavier vessel, and darkness coming on, we at length
lost sight of her. We immediately altered our course, knowing
would do her best to fall in with us in the morning. We escaped her,
however, although we lost fifty or sixty blacks on the passage; that was
a matter of no consequence, considering
that we landed the greater
portion and made a large profit by the venture. Our success was so
satisfactory that it was not long before we were again back on the
coast, and as our craft was a remarkably
fast one we managed again to
escape the British cruisers.
"We made altogether
eight or ten trips, now and then we narrowly
capture, but we were too clever for our enemy, and they were not up to
our various dodges.
"I had by this time become well accustomed to the work, and, though at
first it had gone somewhat against me to see the blacks dying by scores
during the middle passage, yet now I saw them hove overboard
little compunction as if they had been so many sheep.
"We had a precious rough crew, about as villainous a set of cut-throats
as well could be collected together. It does not do for tender-hearted
fellows to sail aboard
"I had meantime
grown into a big stout lad, and could hold my own
against any of them.
"How it was I don't know, but I should not have liked at that time to
have done the things that some of them did. We had a black cook aboard,
whether or not sitting before a hot fire had softened his heart, I
cannot tell, but he was not as bad as the rest; he had consequently
hard life of it amongst
them. One day he was detected by the mate
carrying a mess below to some of the sick blacks, they were people of
his own tribe, and I suspect
relations. The mate swore that he intended
to raise a mutiny
among them, it may be to let them loose to murder us
all. Poor Sambo declared that he had no thoughts of doing anything of
the sort, but that the people were ill, and that he hoped what he gave
them would do them good and save their lives. He was a sensible
and must have known that from where we were, about mid-channel, they
could never have found their way back again to the coast of Africa, and
that if they had murdered the crew they themselves must also have
perished. The captain and mate would not hear his excuses, and began
belabouring him with thick cudgels till they had nearly knocked the
breath out of his body. I felt very indignant, for black though he was
I had a liking
for the man, and determined to speak out.
"`I tell you what, Ringdon, if you don't belay your jaw-tackles you will
be treated in the same way!' exclaimed the captain, turning on me.
"`Sambo had no bad intentions, I will answer for that,' I cried out.
`If any of us were sick and dying we should expect one of our
countrymen, if he had the means, to help us, and I don't see that Sambo
intended to do more than that.' Sambo gave me a glance, as much as to
say if I have the chance I'll render you a service some day; and,
bobbing his head, as the mate made another blow at him, escaped forward.
The two then turned on me, and I thought were going to try their
cudgels on my head. I stood up boldly
and faced them.
"`Now,' I asked, `what have you got to say to me?'
"`Look out for squalls, Master Boas, that's all,' growled the mate.
"`You will some day wish that you had kept your opinions to yourself,'
said the captain, but neither he nor the mate ventured to strike me. I
turned round and walked forward, leaving the two talking together. I
was sure by the glances they cast at me that they meant mischief, so I
determined to be on my guard.
"Several days passed away, and things went on much as usual. Sambo got
many a kick and cuff from the captain and mate when he could not help
coming near them, but he kept out of their way as much as he could
within the caboose, and cooked our meals without uttering a complaint.
"I had heard say that the pitcher
which often goes to the well gets
broken at last, and I could not help fancying, notwithstanding
run of success, that such would be the fate of the slaver.
"Perhaps the owners thought the same, for we had received orders to
proceed round the Cape to the East Coast of Africa, where the Portuguese
slave dealers had agreed to supply us with a cargo--that coast at the
time being less watched by the English cruisers.
"We were some way off the Cape, on our passage eastward, when, while it
was blowing hard and a pretty heavy sea was running, I fell from aloft.
I had been a good swimmer
from my boyhood, and when I came to the
surface I struck out for my life, expecting to see the schooner
and lower a boat to pick me up. Instead of her doing so, what was my
horror and dismay
to observe that she was standing
away from me. I
caught sight of the captain and mate on the poop, and by the looks they
cast at me I felt sure that they intended to leave me to my fate. I
shouted loudly to them, asking if they were going to allow a
fellow-creature to perish. Again and again I cried out, doing my utmost
to keep my head above the foaming seas.
"A number of huge albatrosses had been following the vessel, sweeping
round and round her, now soaring upwards, now plunging down into the
waters to pick up anything which had fallen overboard. You may fancy my
dismay when I found that instead of chasing the vessel
as before, they
round my head. Every moment I expected to see them
darting down towards me, and I knew that a blow from one of their sharp
beaks would have easily pierced my skull and struck me lifeless
moment. Nearer and nearer they drew. I could distinguish
eyes watching me, and had I remained quiet for a moment I felt convinced
that they would have dashed at me. I continued, therefore, striking
with my feet and beating
the water with my hands, which I lifted up as
often as they came near to keep them at bay. Still I knew full well
that the struggle must soon cease, for I could not possibly much longer
exert myself as I was then doing. I had had very little enjoyment
life, but yet I had no wish to go out of it; my hopes of escape,
however, were small indeed; the only chance I could see was that the
that one of their number should be left to perish, would
insist on the captain heaving-to, and would lower a boat to come to my
"Further and further the vessel
sailed away from me. I was beginning
western [´westən] a.西的；西方的 (初中英语单词)interior [in´tiəriə] n.&a.内部地(的) (初中英语单词)considerable [kən´sidərəbəl] a.重要的；值得重视 (初中英语单词)breeze [bri:z] n.微风；不费力的事 (初中英语单词)extremely [ik´stri:mli] ad.极端地；非常地 (初中英语单词)succession [sək´seʃən] n.继任；继承(权) (初中英语单词)rescue [´reskju:] vt.&n.救援；挽救 (初中英语单词)portion [´pɔ:ʃən] n.嫁妆；命运 vt.分配 (初中英语单词)assist [ə´sist] v.协助；援助；搀扶 (初中英语单词)wooden [´wudn] a.木制的；呆板的 (初中英语单词)supposed [sə´pəuzd] a.想象的；假定的 (初中英语单词)driven [´driv(ə)n] drive 的过去分词 (初中英语单词)security [si´kjuəriti] n.安全；证券；抵押品 (初中英语单词)account [ə´kaunt] vi.说明 vt.认为 n.帐目 (初中英语单词)conscious [´kɔnʃəs] a.意识的；自觉的 (初中英语单词)freely [´fri:li] ad.自由地；慷慨地 (初中英语单词)character [´kæriktə] n.特性；性质；人物；字 (初中英语单词)interrupt [,intə´rʌpt] v.中断；打扰 (初中英语单词)aboard [ə´bɔ:d] ad.&prep.在…上 (初中英语单词)actually [´æktʃuəli] ad.事实上；实际上 (初中英语单词)running [´rʌniŋ] a.奔跑的；流动的 (初中英语单词)slaver [´slævə, ´sleivə] n.贩奴人(船) (初中英语单词)capture [´kæptʃə] vt.&n.捕获；俘获；夺取 (初中英语单词)suspect [´sʌspekt, sə´spekt] v.怀疑；觉得 n.嫌疑犯 (初中英语单词)vessel [´vesəl] n.容器；船；脉管 (初中英语单词)striking [´straikiŋ] a.显著的，明显的 (初中英语单词)swimmer [´swimə] n.游泳者 (初中英语单词)monster [´mɔnstə] n.怪物 a.大得异常的 (初中英语单词)shriek [ʃri:k] v.&n.尖叫(声) (初中英语单词)unfortunate [ʌn´fɔ:tʃunit] a.不幸的，运气差的 (初中英语单词)knowing [´nəuiŋ] a.会意的，心照不宣的 (初中英语单词)consequence [´kɔnsikwəns] n.结果；后果；推断 (初中英语单词)venture [´ventʃə] n.投机 v.冒险；敢于 (初中英语单词)altogether [,ɔ:ltə´geðə] ad.完全；总而言之 (初中英语单词)meantime [´mi:ntaim] n.&ad.其间；同时 (初中英语单词)sensible [´sensəbəl] a.感觉得到的 (初中英语单词)mischief [´mistʃif] n.伤害；故障；调皮 (初中英语单词)pitcher [´pitʃə] n.大水罐；投掷者 (初中英语单词)dismay [dis´mei] n.惊慌 vt.使惊慌 (初中英语单词)standing [´stændiŋ] n.持续 a.直立的 (初中英语单词)perish [´periʃ] v.灭亡；消灭；(使)死去 (初中英语单词)distinguish [di´stiŋgwiʃ] v.区分；识别；立功 (初中英语单词)therefore [´ðeəfɔ:] ad.&conj.因此；所以 (初中英语单词)beginning [bi´giniŋ] n.开始，开端；起源 (初中英语单词)pacific [pə´sifik] a.和平的；温和的 (高中英语单词)cruise [kru:z] vi.&n.巡航；航游 (高中英语单词)madness [´mædnis] n.疯狂；狂热 (高中英语单词)seeing [si:iŋ] see的现在分词 n.视觉 (高中英语单词)hitherto [,hiðə´tu:] ad.至今，迄今 (高中英语单词)hospitality [,hɔspi´tæliti] n.好客，殷勤 (高中英语单词)roughly [´rʌfli] ad.粗糙地；毛糙地 (高中英语单词)thorough [´θʌrə] a.彻底的；详尽的 (高中英语单词)ascertain [,æsə´tein] vt.探查；查明 (高中英语单词)apparently [ə´pærəntli] ad.显然，表面上地 (高中英语单词)profitable [´prɔfitəbəl] a.有益的；有用的 (高中英语单词)hanging [´hæŋiŋ] n.绞刑 a.悬挂着的 (高中英语单词)uncomfortable [ʌn´kʌmftəbəl] a.不舒服的，不自在的 (高中英语单词)determination [di,tə:mi´neiʃən] n.决心；决定 (高中英语单词)boldly [´bəuldli] ad.大胆地；醒目地 (高中英语单词)bravely [´breivli] ad.勇敢地；毅然 (高中英语单词)probability [,prɔbə´biliti] n.或有；可能性 (高中英语单词)consequently [´kɔnsikwəntli] ad.因此，所以 (高中英语单词)amongst [ə´mʌŋst] prep.其中之一 =among (高中英语单词)notwithstanding [,nɔtwiθ´stændiŋ] prep.&conj.虽然；还是 (高中英语单词)boyhood [´bɔihud] n.少年时代(期) (高中英语单词)schooner [´sku:nə] n.纵帆船 (高中英语单词)enjoyment [in´dʒɔimənt] n.享受；愉快；乐趣 (高中英语单词)trying [´traiiŋ] a.难堪的；费劲的 (英语四级单词)unwilling [ʌn´wiliŋ] a.不愿意的；不情愿的 (英语四级单词)accommodation [ə,kɔmə´deiʃən] n.供应；调解；贷款 (英语四级单词)apiece [ə´pi:s] ad.每个，每件，每人 (英语四级单词)afloat [ə´fləut] ad.&a.漂浮；在海上 (英语四级单词)resolved [ri´zɔlvd] a.决心的；坚定的 (英语四级单词)liverpool [´livəpu:l] n.利物浦 (英语四级单词)lawful [´lɔ:fəl] a.合法的，守法的 (英语四级单词)skipper [´skipə] n.&vi.(当)船长 (英语四级单词)cruiser [´kru:zə] n.巡洋舰 (英语四级单词)considering [kən´sidəriŋ] prep.就…而论 (英语四级单词)overboard [´əuvəbɔ:d] ad.向船外；到水中 (英语四级单词)remarkably [ri´mɑ:kəbli] ad.非凡地；显著地 (英语四级单词)mutiny [´mju:tini] n.兵变；反抗 vi.叛变 (英语四级单词)indignant [in´dignənt] a.义愤的，愤慨的 (英语四级单词)eastward [´i:stwəd] a.&ad.向东(的) (英语四级单词)upwards [´ʌpwədz] ad.=upward (英语四级单词)gathering [´gæðəriŋ] n.集会，聚集 (英语四级单词)lifeless [´laifləs] a.无生命的，无生气的 (英语四级单词)sorely [´sɔ:li] ad.痛苦地；剧烈地 (英语六级单词)beating [´bi:tiŋ] n.敲；搅打；失败 (英语六级单词)narrowly [´nærəuli] ad.勉强地；严密地 (英语六级单词)liking [´laikiŋ] n.爱好；嗜好；喜欢 (英语六级单词)