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the combat, and confiding in their numbers, and emboldened besides by the retreat of the other two white men, continued to press forward; and Trevor and the corporal were obliged to retreat, in order to get free from the crowd which assailed them, and to load their weapons. When they emerged from the thicket, they beheld on their right the two bushrangers.
The natives, on their retreat, which was almost simultaneous with that of Brandon and Grough, set up a shout of triumph, and pursued them closely. The four white men -two and two, and at the distance of about a hundred yards from each other-retired in the same direction, till they reached the stream which they had previously crossed.
But short as was the time which it took them in this quick flight, the steady and practised corporal was enabled to insert a cartridge into the barrel of his musket, which he instantly rammed down, and then faced about.
"Load, Sir," he said to the ensign, as quick as you can." At the same time he fired at the mob of natives yelling after them, and checked their advance. Before the ensign had loaded the corporal had fired again, and had brought down another native.
There was a short pause; and the cries of the natives for a few moments ceased.
Trevor took advantage of the opportunity, and, raising his voice, I called out to the men on his left:
"If you are Mark Brandon, as I suppose you are, I promise you a free pardon if you will join us against the natives? Where is the young lady?"
Brandon, who had retained the most perfect coolness during the sharp and sudden conflict with the savages, and who were still in considerable numbers before him, replied immediately, and with a voice seemingly of entire unconcern at the danger of his position :"What authority have you for promising a pardon; and what assurance can you give me that I may trust you? "My word of honour as a soldier and a gentleman," replied the ensign. "I will promise you good treatment, and I will use my best endeavours with the governor for your pardon."
"Is that all?" returned the Bushranger, with a sneering laugh ; but at that moment a threatening movement on the part of the natives stopped his reply:
"Don't fire on the natives," he said to his comrade others do it. See! the soldier has fired."
The fire of the corporal disabled another native, and checked the
rest, among whom there appeared some hesitation.
"If that is all," resumed the Bushranger, calling out to Trevor, "I had rather remain as I am."
"Let us shoot them both," said Grough;
66 we can deal with the
"We can do better than that," replied Brandon: never commit murder if you can help it. It is our being here I think that keeps the natives off from the soldiers. They don't like to make
a rush on four white men armed with guns. I can see they are wavering at this moment."
Saying this, he retired with his comrade beyond the stream, and took his station at the foot of the hill.
The natives, seeing this retreat, gathered courage again; and they began to assail their two remaining enemies with spears.
"That rascally Bushranger," said the corporal, "has got some devilry in his head; you see he has got behind us, so that we are between two fires, and his going off makes those black villains more confident. We must shoot some more of them before they will leave us alone."
"We must make our way through then," replied the ensign. heard the voice of Miss Horton in yonder thicket, and we must rescue her or die in the attempt."
"Your Honour has only to say the word," said the corporal. "Come on then," exclaimed Trevor, darting forwards.
The corporal fixed his bayonet and advanced side by side with his officer against the natives, who were collected together in a dense body of about a hundred, and were jabbering to one another with excessive vehemence.
"Shall I fire?" asked the corporal.
"Reserve your fire," said the ensign; "perhaps they will retire without shedding more blood."
But the natives received the charge firmly, and met their enemies with a shower of spears, which, as the distance was not more than twenty yards, told dangerously on the two soldiers. The ensign received one in his left breast, and the corporal had three for his share. They fired simultaneously.
"I have brought one down," cried out the corporal.
"And I another," responded the ensign.
"Stand firm," said the corporal; "they are going to make another rush."
The natives discharged another shower of spears which hit both the ensign and the corporal.
Trevor fired, and in a second afterwards the corporal banged at them, which checked the savages again.
"Load, sir, quick," said the corporal, "they have not had enough yet. But you are bleeding fast, sir; those two last spears have done mischief."
"And you are bleeding too, corporal. We must increase our distance, so as to get out of the reach of their spears while we can command them with our long shots; or shall we make another charge at them?"
"It is as much as we
"They are too many," replied the corporal. can do to defend ourselves; and if we get off with our lives we shall do very well. This mob is one of the most determined that I have heard of on the island."
"We MUST advance and rescue Miss Horton," exclaimed Trevor. "I am ready, your Honour," repeated the corporal, “to try a charge again; but they are too many, sir, to be got over that way; we must ply them with long shots-and, come what may, the young
lady must be saved from their clutches. The black wretches shan't eat her if I can help it."
"Fire again," said Trevor, stamping his foot on the turf—“fire.” "There goes down another," said the corporal, as he obeyed his officer with the most cheerful readiness, and promptly recharged his musket; "if we keep up a steady fire, your Honour, we must break them up at last. Only don't be without a shot in one of your barrels. It is the rush of the savages that is the danger; and we ought always to have a reserve fire to check it. They don't seem to like it," continued the corporal, as he fired away as fast as possible. off, sir, our bullets are too hard for them."
"Don't fire if they run," said the ensign, in a faint voice. "Your Honour is bleeding very fast," exclaimed the corporal, grounding his musket, and regarding his officer with much concern. "Never mind! see, the natives are retreating; now we will follow and charge-but don't fire unless they attack us-now, charge." But as poor Trevor spoke, his voice grew fainter and fainter; he made a step or two forward-he staggered, and presently fell to the ground. Loss of blood from the wounds of the natives' spears had exhausted him; he made an effort to rise, but he sunk down again on the grass, and fainted.
A BUSH SUPPER.
THE Corporal was not a man to lose his presence of mind at a faint. He had seen too much service, and had been in too many fights to be scared at the sight of a dying man. But he could not refrain from giving utterance to his indignation at his officer being wounded — and slain it might be- by "those black rascals," he muttered, "and with such tools as these," as he contemptuously kicked a spear on one side with his foot.
"Such murdering wretches," said he, as he shook his musket towards the spot where the retreating natives had disappeared among the bushes," don't deserve quarter. And now I suppose they are going to make a feast of that poor young lady! -a delicate morsel she will be for them- the blackguard cannibals!"
It was well that Trevor's condition did not allow him to hear the last exclamation of the angry corporal, who, promptly fetching some water in his cap from the adjacent stream, threw it over his officer's face. Then observing that the blood flowed most from one particular spot under his right shoulder, he opened Trevor's coat, and applying a suitable bandage, soon had the satisfaction to see that the flowing of the blood ceased. He fetched another capful of water from the stream, and dashed it plentifully over Trevor's face, and wishing mentally that he had ever so little a drop of brandy, he endeavoured to pour some water down his throat. Trevor seemed to revive at this, and the corporal continued his attempts, till at last, to his great joy, he saw his officer open his eyes.
He urged him to take a good drink. Trevor drank some of the water, which refreshed him; for he was faint as well from want of food and drink as from loss of blood. Presently he was able to stand up; and although weak and tottering, he insisted on proceeding into the thicket in search of Helen. The corporal endeavoured to dissuade him from so rash a proceeding, and offered to go alone; but to this the ensign would not consent, urging that he was strong enough to pull a trigger, and as his double barrel had been reloaded by the corporal, they could fire three times without loading, if there should be occasion for more fighting.
Leaning on the corporal's arm, therefore, he made his way into the thicket, behind which Brandon had been hidden, and from which had proceeded the shriek which Trevor did not doubt had been wrung from Helen in her double fear of the bushrangers and the natives.
But when they arrived at the spot they could see nothing of her, for whom alone Trevor was at that moment solicitous. There were several bodies of the natives lying about, and the marks of much trampling on the grass: but no living thing was to be seen.
The corporal having cast his eye about for a convenient object, supported the ensign to the foot of a dense thicket at no great distance, and requesting him to sit up and lean against the matted branches, so that he might be protected from a sudden attack from behind, offered, "with his permission," to make a survey round about to endeavour to discover some trace of the young lady.
To this the ensign assented; and the corporal immediately proceeded to make rapid circles around, keeping a sharp eye on every bush which might conceal an enemy; but without success. He continued his search for some time, and even penetrated for some distance into the wood beyond; - but he could see nothing of Miss Horton nor of the natives: they had disappeared as suddenly as they had come, and he feared that they had taken the young lady away with them to make a feast on her; a suspicion which he communicated freely to Trevor on his return, with many supplemental embellishments of that horrible surmise.
Trevor could only reply by a faint groan of anguish. He attempted to rise, but was unable from weakness.
The corporal again made a diligent investigation of every square yard of ground, as well as the dusk which was now coming on would allow him, on the spot where the fight had begun. But he could find no trace of the poor girl, living or dead; nor of the other prisoner-the gentleman . Mr. Silliman. whose body was no where to be found.
The corporal, having made his report to the ensign, requested his "further orders;" and receiving his request to do as well as he could under the circumstances, for Trevor was too weak to walk, he immediately set himself about making such preparations for passing the night as the place afforded.
He gathered some of the soft and flowering branches of a Mimosa tree which stood close by, and made of them a tolerably soft bed; and by cutting some stout stakes with his clasp knife from a grove of
straight-stemmed shrubs which grew by the margin of the water, he contrived to prop up other boughs which he gathered, so as to make a tolerable bush hut for Trevor, and sufficient at that season of the year to shelter him from the weather. Having accomplished this to his satisfaction, he began to resolve the serious question of "how the garrison was to be victualled."
There was drink enough, for the stream of fresh and sparkling water at hand ran close by, and the corporal knew very well that so long as a soldier can get a good drink of clear water, although he might grumble a little for want of spirits, he could not come to any great harm; but food was indispensable. While the old soldier was "rummaging his head," as he expressed it, for remembrances of expedients under a similar difficulty in his various campaigns, and regretting the non-existence of villages and farm-houses in those desolate regions, he beheld to his infinite delight an immense kangaroo hopping leisurely towards the water on the other side of the stream.
The animal advanced at a slow pace; sometimes hopping and sometimes moving himself forward on all-fours, as he was enticed to stop on his way by some patch of sweet grass which particularly tempted him. Now and then the animal raised himself up to his full height, as he rested on the inferior joints of his hind legs, with his long tail serving as a part of his triangular support behind; and then the corporal guessed that he stood at least six feet high, and his heart leaped within him as he surveyed the magnificent piece of game, for he had made up his mind that "on that kangaroo he and his officer should sup that night."
The kangaroo hopped on straight to the water; and putting down his head, prepared to drink; but suddenly raising it up again, snuffed the air, and looked fearfully about. So exquisitely delicate are the senses of those timid animals, that the noise made by the corporal in the cocking of his musket, and the separating of the bushes on the other side of the stream, which was not more than a dozen yards across, alarmed the creature, and it was about to take to flight; but at that critical moment the report of the corporal's musket rung in the air, and the poor kangaroo, making a mighty spring from the ground, fell dead; for the ball had passed through its small and deer-like head, and life was gone in an instant.
The sound of the corporal's piece put Trevor on the alert, and he looked anxiously about for the new enemy which the alarm betokened. He was not a little relieved when he saw his faithful subaltern staggering under the load of the hind-quarters of a kangaroo, which seemed as much as he could carry, while the ponderous tail of the animal hung down the corporal's back behind, and bumped him as he walked along, keeping time, as it were, with the corporal's movements.
"There," said the corporal, as he cast his burthen heavily on the ground; "there's supper for us, at any rate; and now, to cook it!"
The old campaigner was not long in lighting a fire with the dead brushwood which lay about; and while the embers were burning clear he occupied himself in cutting some tender steaks, artistically, from the loins, the most delicate part of the animal, and which he