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THE CHIMNEY CORNER.

MUTINY ON BOARD a surgeon’s story.

By Lewis Hough.

After a time I heard Mac Nab come clown, and wont into the saloon, out of which our cabins opened, to speak to him. I found him loading his pistols. “The leak has been found and stopped,” he said, “but I dinna like the look of the convicts ; some of them ha’e got arms I fear me. ” While he was speaking, shouts and shots were heard above, and he rushed to the cabin stairs, I following him. Directly we reached the deck we saw a body of convicts coming aft, headed by Williams, who had a musket in his hands.

“ The game is up lieutenant,” he cried “you had better surrender.” MacNab’s answer was a pistol shot ; Williams staggered,, but recovering himself, levelled his musket, fired and MacNab fell dead in my arms. In a moment I was knocked down, bound and thrust aside to be a helpless spectator of crimes I could not move a finger to prevent. Some of the ruffians rushed down the cabin stairs returned dragging poor Phipps with them. With brutal jests they bore him to the lee bulwarks, one took his shoulders, another his feet, and they tossed him alive into the sea. All the sailors or marines who were sick, or who had been wounded in the struggle, were in like manner thrown overboard. The remainder were gathered together in a body, and Williams who had evidently been elected chief, made them a speech offering them their lives if they would join them heartily. Most of them shrank from the horrible death before them, ami acceded, but a corporal of marines stood firm.

“You will all be taken and hanged within a month,” he boldly said, “and I had sooner drown with honest men than swing with thieves and murderers.” The words were hardly out of his mouth when he was shot dead.

“ And now, lads,” cried Williams, “I know what you are thinking of—the rum!” (Cheers.) “Well, every man shall have a tot, and a few at a time shall have a skinful. But most of us must remain sober to manage the ship, so I have set a guard over the spirit room, and any man who tries to force it will have his brains blown out. I will tell you what I propose to do, if you agree. There are some islands near where we are with the best climate, the finest fruit, and plenty of food without working for it. We will make for one of these, land everything out of thisi’otten old ship, and then scuttle her. You have made me your captain, and I appoint Lloyd my chief officer. He is a sailor, and knows where these islands are, and how to reach them, so he will sail the ship.” Loud acclamations greeted his address, and the assembly adjourned to the grog tubs. I was not long left unmolested ; a knot of fellows gathered round me, and discussed what they should do with me, and one at last suggested that I should be made to swallow the contents of my medicine chest, which was forthwith brought up for the purpose, and some calomel pills were actually forced into my mouth. How I wished that I had been a homoeopath ! While I was struggling, a man came up. “What are you doing with- the doctor?” he asked, excitedly; “didn’t the captain say he wasn’t to be touched 1 He wants to see you, sir, down in the cabin,” he added, civilly to me. My persecutors slunk off, grumbling, and my deliverer cut my bonds and led me to Williams, who had been shot in the shoulder, and wanted his wound attended to. I managed to extract the bullet, and when he was easier, he said : “I am sorry for all these horrors, doctor, I swear I am. But yon know the men I have to deal with, and how slight my hold is upon them. Yon have been kind to many of them, and are useful besides, so I managed to save your life, but when I said a word for the others they would not listen. As for Mac Nab, he fired at me first, or he would never have fallen by my hand. ” “ You are responsible to God and the If.w, not to me,” I replied.

Ought I to have refused to tend his wound ? Was it my duty to bear and upbraid him ? Ido not know ; life is sweet, and I wished .and tried to preserve it, excusing my pusillanimity at the time by the thought that my testimony, if I survived, might bring the whole body of rascals to justice. I quite understood the tenure upon which my life was held, in spite of Williams’ plausible speeches. There were many sick, and several wounded, both by the storm and in the fight when the vessel was seized, and they needed my services. When they thought they could do without me, I should be silenced for ever, together with every other probable witness against them. Meanwhile the ship was kept on her course towards the Friendly Islands, under Lloyd’s management, and on the third day land was sighted. That evening a sailor who had joined the mutineers on compulsion, and had been hurt, came to mo and said : “ I beg pardon, sir, but would you dress my wound on deck, where everyone can see us.”

I saw he had a reason, and consented. “I’ve something to say, sir, and don’t want to be seen talking to you in a private way for fear of making them suspicious. Bill Hicks was at the mast-head on the look-out last watch, and lie saw something ho did not report, and that’s a British frigate, round the headland of that there island. Don’t start, sir. There’s only us of the old crew knows it ; and we’ve had a boat ready to lower for some days ; it’s that on the port side, next the mizzenmast. We mean to lower that quietly at nightfall, and let it tow behind ; and then, later, such as can will get into it, cast off and row for the frigate. If you like, sir, you had better lie down in the boat and be lowered with it. Say you want a quiet read, or sleep, or something, if you’re seen. There’s a risk, of course, but not a big one. Lloyd’s half-drunk now, and he will be quiet after a bit, and so will most of the others ; for now they have got to the islands-they think it’s all right. There’s only that Williams.” “ I can manage him,” said I; and we parted. Williams’ wound was painful and his pulse feverish ; so he gladly swallowed a soporific which would keep him quiet for some hours. At the proper hour I got into the boat indicated, and the only men who could possibly see me being those at the wheel, who were both old members of the crew, and were prepared, when they know that Lloyd was quite overpowered by drink, to alter the course of the ship, and steer for the headland where the frigate had been seen. All went easier than had ever been anticipated. When I had been stowed, away half-an-hour, the boat was lowered, and in a very little while three men stole into it, cut the rope by which we were towing, and when the ship had forged far enough ahead to prevent the phosphorescence of the oar-dips attracting attention, began to row in the direction of the headland.

In two hours’ time we turned it, and saw the lights of the frigate, against the sides of which, in another hour, the boat grated. “Who goes there?” challenged a sentry.

“ Medical officcer escaped from a convict ship which has mutinied. ” I will not dwell on the joy with which I the deck, or on the heartiness

of my reception, when I had made my report.

The frigate weighed, and stood out to sea at once ; and in the early morning came up with the convict ship, boarded and took her without resistance. My evidence sufficed to clear the seamen and marines who had been forced into a pretended compliance with the projects of the mutineers, as also, soma months afterwards, to secure the execution of all those who had taken a prominent part in the murder of my poor friends, Mac Nab and Phipps, seventeen of whom suffered the extreme penalty of the law at Sydney. CONCLUDED.

HEINEMAN’S LITTLE GAME. By Patch en. Heineman lives in the city during the cool months, but invariably takes up his his abode at Nyack, his country residence, during the sweltering days of summer. His business necessitates his going to New York every morning. One night last month, it being quite cool, lie thought he would like to stay down and go around and enjoy himself during the evening—a chance ho rarely had while his family were in the city. So instead of going for the train, as 'he was wont to do, he sauntered up-town where he remained all night, and occupied himself in pleasureseeking. His wife anxiously awaited his coming, and being disappointed worried the whole night for his safety. Heineman went to Nyack the next the night, and after his wife had greeted him with tears of joy upon his arrival and told him of her sleepless, watchful night, he informed her that his reason for not getting home the previous night, was on account of missing the last train. I was never so worried in my life, Fred,” she said. “I do wish the next time you miss the train you would telegraph to me, and I will feel more at ease.”

“Certainly, my dear ; how stupid of me in not thinking of it last night. This living in the country and going in and out every day is fearfully inconvenient and a bore ; cramming down my breakfast in the morning to catch a train and hurrying | from my office in the evening to catch another. The sooner the cool weather comes on, so we can return to the city, the better I will be pleased. Here last night when I missed the train, I was obliged to eat my supper in a restaurant, and I do detest restaurant meals, so different from your cooking, dear ; they don’t even know how to fry a steak ; and then after going to three hotels for a room I was finally compelled to sleep on a cot in the garret of one of them, and never passed such a restless night in my life,” he concluded, with considerable gravity of manner. “Well, you’ll telegraph at all events the next time. Come down to supper now,” she said. Things went on pleasantly for a week or so, when Heineman concluded to again remain in the city. The train left at six o’clock. At a quarter-past six he stepped out of the Astor House diningroom and sent a dispatch that he had missed the train and then took a bus up town.

Next night he went home and it was all right. If his wife had any suspicions she did not mention them, and he congratulated himself upon how nicely his wife had fixed things for him by the telegraph. Two nights subsequent he decided to again stay in the city, and as he wished to go up the town rather early, he went to the telegraph office and wrote, after the address —

“ Missed the train again. Don’t worry, Fred. ”

It was then five o’clock, and as it would not do, of course, for the message to go then, an hour before the train started, he left strict instructions with the clerk that it was not to he sent until G. 15. He then departed. Next morning, feeling rather anxious about it, he stepped into the office and enquired if a telegram lie had written last evening was sent O.K. The now and obliging clerk, after absenting himself for a few moments to enquire, politely and promptly informed him that it was sent at 5.15. “ Five-fifteen [’’exclaimed Heineman as his hair and his blood arose; “ that despatch wasn’t to be sent until quarterpast six. What kind of a blank space company is this ? I’ll see this blankspace company in blank-space rather than give it a cent’s worth of my patronage again.” He stood there for five minutes, cursing company and clerks and his luck. After having exhausted his vocabulary he left and walked up the street, meditatively. “How will I fix it,” he mused. “Basket of peaches—no good. Box cologne, box candies, silk stockings —no they won’t satisfy. No use, there’ll be a storm,” and he sighed. “I think,” he said, as he stood on the corner and pressed his fingers on his temples, a few honeyed words of explanation and a silk dress will soften her, and if they do I pledge my word not to purposely miss the train again.” Early in the afternoon ho went to Stewart’s and purchased a black silk, then caught the four o’clock train for home. Arriving in Nyack and finding his wife was not at the station, ho heaved a sigh full of relief, for he was anxious to avoid a scone there. He walked briskly along and nervously ascended the front steps, and while he fumbled for the key the door was opened. “Hallo, Dollie,” he exclaimed in his usual affectionate manner, as he stepped inside and attempted to kiss her.

She pushed him away. The door closed with a bang. He didn’t shut it either.

“Hallo, Dollie!” she yelled in mockery. “ You miserable deceitful thing. Come home to me, don’t you, after your night’s debauch in New York, and seek to control my feelings and undo your outrageous conduct by your sweet greeting. Your telegram game wasn’t successful last night. I got it sooner than you intended I should. ‘ Missed the train; don’t worry.’ You fine specimen of cunning. Do you think, sir, that I will stand any such goings on. I don’t know what you take me for. This thing has got to be stopped. Explain youryourself, Fred Heineman,” and she ceased in her raving walk up and down the hall and stood in front of him with arms folded.

‘'Come here, dearie,” ho said faltoringly and with an effort to look hurt, "come into the parlor and sit down. Calm yourself. You surprise me by what you have told me about the telegram, and your accusation is unjust and painful. But I think I see through it all, and I will explain the matter. In the first' place I did not know you received my message until after the train had started. I left word with the bookkeeper to send it about six o’clock, as I started off about four. You see I wanted to give you a little surprise last night, and /when I left the store I proceeded to Stewart’s and purchased this black silk for you. I intended you should believe by my telegram that I had missed the train,” but I was coming home in it and going to surprise you, and it was just my luck to be detained at Stewart’s and to miss the train. You see, my dear, how it was ? But most of the fault was the bookmaker’s in sending the dispatch before the time, for if ho had not and I didn’t get home you would not have worried or imagined what you have, accused me of—that of being base and false. She softened as he lied and at sight of the silk which he had now unwrapped. “ Fred, dear, forgive me,” she said, now considerably toned down, kissing him and

taking the silk. “1 was too hasty. But I felt that you had wronged me. I know I hurt you with my accusal. Will you not forgive me ?” Fred, only too anxious to forgive and hush the subject, readily consented, and things were once more harmonious. Later Heineman ruminates and figures ; Twenty-five cents of telegram, 25 dollars’ wor th of fun, 92 dollars’ worth of dross ; total, 120 dollars 25 cents ; a clay’s business upset, and a disturbed mind —Quite enough for a taste of forbidden fruit for one night and for even

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Permanent link to this item

http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18800228.2.14

Bibliographic details

THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 67, 28 February 1880

Word Count
2,731

THE CHIMNEY CORNER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 67, 28 February 1880

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