Sunshine Bill
by W H G Kingston
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The ship by which Mr Collinson and his companions had been rescued was the Poisson Volant, a privateer fitted out at Port a Petre, in Dominique. She had had a long run of ill-luck, so the surgeon told him, and this had put her officers in very bad humour. The dark, stout man was her captain, of whom the surgeon seemed to stand greatly in awe.

"He would make no scruple of shooting any one through the head who offends him, and as I have no fancy to be treated in that way, I purpose, if I can once get on shore, to leave the ship."

This was not very pleasant information; but Mr Collinson hoped to be able to escape giving the tyrant any cause of offence. Bill Sunnyside was very hungry, as were his companions, when they fell asleep. He kept dreaming about feasts, and then at length he thought he was once more at home, and that his mother had got a capital supper ready for him, and that she and his brothers and sisters were collected round the table, and he thought that he himself was, somehow or other, kept out of the room. The smell of the sausages, however, came through a chink in the door, and made him feel still more hungry. He could not open the door, and he could not cry out to ask any one to let him in. Still, there they all sat, with the sausages bubbling away on the table, and the kettle hissing on the hearth, and a large loaf of bread and a big pat of butter, all ready, waiting to be eaten. At length he made a run, and resolved to burst open the door, when he heard old Grim sing out, and he found that he had, somehow or other, tumbled over him. His nostrils were at the same time assailed with savoury odours, and he saw men coming from the galley-fire with pans and dishes from which wreaths of steam were ascending. The mess-tables were quickly spread, and the men began their dinners. Bill and his companions watched them for some minutes, and could then stand it no longer, but getting up, they came to the nearest mess-table, pointing to their mouths. The Frenchmen laughed, and then invited them to join them.

"It was the smell of their dinner made me dream," thought Bill, as he thankfully accepted the dish of soup and meat which was handed to him. Never had he eaten a more delicious mess; hunger, indeed, increased its flavour, and he did his best to show the Frenchmen the satisfaction it afforded him. They seemed much amused when he held out his bowl for more. Of course, Bill could not understand what was said, as none appeared to speak English. When dinner was over, Bill and his companions were allowed to lie down again out of the way, on the hammocks, and were once more quickly asleep. They woke up again at supper-time, when Bill felt himself perfectly ready for another meal. The next day, however, the Frenchmen looked somewhat sulkily at them, and some hard biscuit and water was given them for breakfast; while at dinner, instead of being invited to the messes, a bowl of soup was placed before them, from which, by signs, they understood they were to help themselves. The next day their bedding was taken away, and they found that they had only the hard deck to lie upon. Grimshaw, as may be supposed, grumbled greatly.

"We must bear it, however," said Bill. "The voyage will come to an end before long; then, I suppose, if the English have got hold of any Frenchmen, these people will be glad to give us up, and get them back instead. I wonder how Mr Collinson is getting on? I hope they don't treat him as they do us."

Although Grimshaw grumbled, he could not help acknowledging that they were all gaining health and strength, with the rest they were enjoying; and in the course of three days they were so much better, that they could manage to crawl on deck. The wind had been very light, so they had made but little progress. As they were able to get into a shady place, the fresh air revived them. Bill looked aft, anxiously looking for Mr Collinson, but he did not appear. When he attempted to go aft himself, one of the seamen made signs to him that he was to remain where he was. The ship was running some three or four knots only through the water, with all sail set.

"I say, Tommy," said Bill to his companion, "there's another chance of our escaping a French prison. What do you think if the Lilly, or some other ship of war, was to fall in with us? That would be a happy thing."

"I don't know," answered Tommy. "Perhaps they would cut our throats and throw us overboard, just in revenge. They look as if they were up to anything of that sort."

"No no, Tommy! Don't be cast down. I would run the risk of that, for, rough as they are, I don't think they would do anything as bad as that."

At length the town of Point a Petre, in the island of Dominique, appeared in sight. All this time they had not seen Mr Collinson, nor had they been able to hear anything about him. When the ship came to an anchor, they were ordered below. After some time they were called on deck, and they then saw that a French boat with six soldiers was alongside.

"You Englishmen, get into that boat!" shouted the mulatto captain.

They of course obeyed. As soon as they were in her, they saw Mr Collinson, who had just then come up on deck, look over the side.

"Glad, sir, to see that no harm has happened to you," shouted Jack. "We hope you are coming with us."

"I believe I am, my men; and thanks to you for your kind wishes," answered Mr Collinson, who just then turned round to shake hands with the surgeon. Directly afterwards, he came down the side into the boat.

As soon as they landed, they were taken up before a military officer, who cross-questioned them, by means of an interpreter, addressing Mr Collinson directly in French.

"You are to be sent into the interior," said the interpreter, "and you will there remain, till the war is concluded."

Their examination being over, they were taken away by the guards who had them in charge. Mr Collinson had, fortunately, his purse in his pocket with a few gold pieces.

"Now, my men," he said, "I wish to lay this out to the best advantage of us all. If I spend it in clothing, which we all very much want, we shall have nothing to buy food. I will, therefore, reserve it for an emergency."

The lieutenant, however, supplied the party with hats, which they very much wanted. Though shoes would have been pleasant, they could still do without them. Their clothes were, as may be supposed, in a sadly tattered condition. To obtain new ones, was out of the question. Their guards, however, allowed them to go to the barber's, where, their hair being cut, they looked a little less like Robinson Crusoes than they had hitherto done. They were then marched to the prison, and were all shut up in a room, with no greater indulgence shown to Mr Collinson than to them.

"It's a great shame!" exclaimed Jack Windy, "to treat our officer in this way. It's all very right and proper for us, but they ought to show more respect, that they ought."

"Never mind, my lad," said Mr Collinson. "I thank you for your good feeling, and more faithful, kind fellows I could not wish to be cast among."

Next day the gaoler came in, and told them they were to prepare for a journey, and in a short time they were brought out of prison, at the door of which they found four mules waiting to carry them, with a guard of black soldiers.

"You speak French?" said a man, addressing the first lieutenant. "Tell your people, then, that each of the men is to mount a mule, while one will serve for the two boys. You take the other."

The animals were far from gaily caparisoned, straw packs on their backs serving the place of saddles. The boys quickly climbed up to the back of their beast, while the lieutenant and the two men mounted theirs.

"Forward!" was the word given, and they moved on, the black soldiers, grinning and gabbling negro French, running by their sides. They were soon out of the town, and proceeding along a dusty road, with coffee-plantations on either side, no trees remaining to shelter them from the sun. At length, however, they got into a wilder part of the country, where the dense tropical vegetation occasionally afforded them shade. After some miles, they came in sight of a large country house. Hot, thirsty, and weary, they turned their eyes towards it, wishing that some of the inmates might have the charity to invite them to stop and rest.

"If you will tell me what to say, sir, I will go and ask," said Bill, "if the guards will let me."

Mr Collinson advised him simply to point to his mouth, and to make signs that he was very weary. The guards, who were entertaining, perhaps, the same ideas as their prisoners, without difficulty let Bill go off, while they drew up in the shade near the house. In a short time Bill returned.

"It's all right, sir," he said. "There was a tall young lady came out, and she looked so kindly at me when I spoke; and when I pointed to you all here, she made signs that we were to come up to the house."

Mr Collinson, on this, explained to the guards what the boy said, and the whole party proceeded to the wide steps which led up to the entrance-door, under a deep verandah. The young lady was there. Mr Collinson took off his hat, and explained in his best French who they were.

"Oh!" she said, "my father will be at home presently, and he, I am sure, will gladly afford you any assistance in his power."

On this they all dismounted, the black soldiers taking the mules round to the stables by the side of the house, allowing their prisoners to follow the young lady into the interior. She led them into a large airy room, covered with fine matting, the only furniture consisting of several cane sofas and chairs, and a long table down the centre. She then clapped her hands, and a negro servant appeared.

"He will attend on you," she said, "while I go and see that a meal is prepared for you. My father will, I hope, soon return, and will, I am sure, be glad to afford you every assistance in his power."

The negro looked at Mr Collinson with a somewhat doubtful air, but the few fragments of gold lace remaining on his coat showed him that he was an officer.

"Would monsieur like to refresh himself?" he asked. "A bath is at his service, and, pardon me, monsieur, perhaps a fresh suit of clothes would be pleasant in which to sit down to dinner."

"Indeed, thank you," answered Mr Collinson, "but I must beg you at the same time to look after my people. We all have gone through many hardships, and I dare say they will enjoy a bath and some clean clothes as much as I shall."

"Yes, yes! I will look after them," answered the negro, in French; not very good French, by-the-by, but Mr Collinson understood it. "I must, however, obey my young mistress first, and attend to you; so, if monsieur pleases, come along."

Saying this, the negro led the way out into a garden, where was a building with a marble bath, through which the water ran from a copious stream. Leaving the lieutenant, he soon returned with a supply of light clothing, such as is usually worn in that climate. The lieutenant could not help feeling, when he returned into the dining-room, that he was far more presentable than he had been before. On looking out of the window, he saw Jack and Grimshaw with the two boys, coming along laughing heartily, dressed in negro costume of shirt and trousers. Considering the heat of the weather, their clothing was ample. Though it had not a nautical cut, any one looking at them would easily have discovered that they were British seamen, as they rolled along in their usual happy-go-lucky style.


Mr Collinson had not been many minutes in the dining-room, when the young lady, accompanied by an elderly-looking Frenchman with white hair, entered the room.

"You are welcome, sir, to my house," he said; "and I am happy to receive you. I lately received great kindness from your countrymen, when I was in your situation, a captive in their hands, and I am thankful to have an opportunity of returning it."

Mr Collinson made a suitable reply, adding that it was a sad thing that peaceable people should be made prisoners, and inconvenienced because their nations happened to be at war.

"Yes, indeed," added the Frenchman; "but don't speak about it. It was our Emperor who set the example."

"How long ago was it since the circumstance occurred?" asked Mr Collinson.

"But a few weeks ago," answered the Frenchman; "indeed, we have only returned home about ten days. My daughter and I were on our way from France, when our vessel was captured by an English corvette, and carried into Port Royal. The captain of the English ship treated us with great kindness, as, indeed, did several of the inhabitants of the place, especially a military officer commanding a regiment there, with whom I was formerly acquainted when I was in the army. We, on that occasion, met as enemies, but we parted as friends, and I was very glad to renew my acquaintance."

The English lieutenant listened to this account with great interest.

"And what was the name of the ship by which your vessel was captured?" he asked.

"She was a corvette, I know," he answered. "Yes, yes, I remember; her name is the Lilly, and her captain is Mr Trevelyan."

"That was indeed a curious coincidence, for it is the ship to which I belong," said Mr Collinson.

"The captain is indeed a kind and generous man!" exclaimed the young lady with enthusiasm. "And, now I think of it, how very strange! Surely we heard of you from Colonel Lydall. They were very anxious indeed about you. Some, in truth, thought you were lost, but Miss Lydall would not believe that; yet often she was very sad. Now I understand it all."

As may be supposed, after this information, Mr Collinson had numberless questions to ask. Sometimes he was grieved at the thoughts of the anxiety Miss Lydall was suffering; at other times, he could not help feeling grateful that her affection for him was undiminished.

While they were still speaking, a handsome repast was placed on the table, brought in by several black slaves.

"We will have your people in," said the French gentleman. "You will not object to their sitting at table, for I cannot ask them to join the black slaves."

"Certainly not," said Mr Collinson; "though I do not believe they would object to that. Probably, indeed, they would be happier by themselves."

However, the Frenchman insisted that they should come in. The boys' eyes sparkled as they found themselves seated at the table, for it was seldom or never they had seen so fine a repast.

"Won't I have a good tuck-out!" said Tommy Rebow, as he eyed the viands. "In case our nigger-guards should be inclined to starve us, we may as well take in enough to last for some days."

All hands did ample justice, as may be supposed, to the repast, the black soldiers being fed, in the mean time, in another part of the house.

At length the sergeant of the party appeared at the door, and summoned his prisoners.

"I have not asked your name," said Mr Collinson, turning to his host. "I should like to remember one of whom I shall always think with gratitude."

"My name is Mouret, and my daughter's name is Adele; but don't suppose that I shall lose sight of you. Every influence I possess with the authorities I will exert in your favour, though I fear that is not very great."

The sergeant becoming impatient, the English party had to take a hurried farewell.

"Good-bye, monsieur; much obliged for your good dinner!" cried Jack Windy, as Monsieur Mouret kindly shook him and his companions by the hand. "We will not forget you, and be sure to give you a call, if we come this way again."

The party were once more on their road.

"Here, sir, the nigger servant gave us these bundles to look after," said Jack. "They're our duds, I suppose. One is yours, sir, and the rest ours."

"Take care of them," said Mr Collinson. "They may be useful to show who we are, should there be any doubt about the matter."

They pushed on till it was dark, as fast as the negro soldiers could march, the sergeant being anxious, apparently, to make up for the time they had spent at Monsieur Mouret's house. They reached a village at length, where he told them they must stop.

"Is there an inn to which we can go?" asked Mr Collinson.

The negro grinned.

"No, monsieur," he answered; "but quarters will be assigned to you."

After being kept waiting for some time, the sergeant, who had gone away, returned, and told them to follow.

"Here's a fine place," he said, pointing to a tumbledown barn, or shed rather; "but I will see if we can get some straw, and something for supper. You will not require much, after the good dinner you enjoyed."

In vain Mr Collinson expostulated: he found, at length, that he must submit. The soldiers went out, and came back in a short time with some straw, which they piled up in one corner.

"Here's enough for all of us," they grunted out; "and as for food, some farina, and cold water to wash it down, is all that is allowed. If monsieur has any money, we may procure something more suitable to his taste."

When Mr Collinson told his companions what the negro soldier said, they begged that he would not submit to any imposition.

"We can do very well without any supper, or with only what the niggers bring us," answered Jack; "and maybe we shall all want it more by-and-by."

However, when the bowl of boiled corn-meal was brought, they did ample justice to it, declaring that, for once in a way, it was not such bad food, after all. Old Grim, however, grumbled considerably, especially at night, when the rats began to chase each other about the place; and the negro soldiers kept up an interrupted snore, with occasional grunts, as a variation to the music.

"I don't see why we should complain," said Bill, at length. "We're better off than we were on the raft; and, to my mind, it is not worse than being with those cut-throat looking fellows on board the privateer."

"You are always contented," answered Grimshaw. "I can make nothing out of you."

"Just for the reason that I stick to my belief that the sun is shining up above the clouds, however dark they may be over us," answered Bill.

In spite of the rats, and the snoring and grunting of the negroes, and the unpleasant odours, even Mr Collinson fell asleep, his example being followed by his companions. They were roused up by the black sergeant at daybreak, and, without any breakfast, were ordered to proceed on their journey.

"The people have given us supper and bed, and that's all they're obliged to do," said the sergeant. "We must get breakfast where we stop at."

They travelled on as on the previous day, the scenery being sometimes very picturesque—the prickly palm, and cocoa-nut trees, and numberless shrubs with long waving leaves. Sometimes thickets of the graceful bamboo lined either side of the road; but persons, when carried off as prisoners, are not generally apt to admire the beauty of the scenery. Sunshine Bill, however, was not to be put down.

"It's one way of seeing the world that I did not expect, when I left home," he remarked to Jack Windy. "I shall have many more yarns to spin, when I get back, in consequence. Now, Tommy, look out where you are going to. You have nearly brought the mule down two or three times; and the next time we get off, I must sit ahead and steer."

They brought up at another village, where the sergeant procured some messes of boiled meal, such as they had had for supper.

"If it had not been for that kind gentleman, I don't know where we should have been by this time," said Jack. "We should have been desperately hungry, I know. Howsumdever, when we are once settled, I suppose we shall be able to get sufficient grub to keep body and soul together."

At length the prisoners arrived at a wretched-looking village, though picturesquely situated with hills rising round it.

"Halt here," said the sergeant, "while I go and inquire what quarters are to be assigned to you."

"Nothing very grand," he said, with a laugh, when he returned. "Follow me!"

"Why," said Mr Collinson, "the authorities cannot think of putting us into a place like that. It is a stable!"

"Very likely; but there's only one old horse in it, and there are three stalls: you can have one, monsieur, all to yourself, and your men can have he other. What more can you desire?"

All expostulations were vain.

"Well, we must make the best of it, my lads," said Mr Collinson, walking into the place.

"There's just one thing you must remember," shouted the sergeant: "don't be playing tricks, and turning out the horse. The owner made that a bargain; and he requires shelter as much as you do."

"Well, well!" answered the English lieutenant; "complaining is beneath us."

"We shall not do badly, sir," observed Jack, as he surveyed the place; "we don't, however, like it for you, sir; but we will get some straw and some planks, and make it as comfortable-like as we can and rig up a table. It's a shame, that it is, to turn a British officer into such a place; and the next time we get alongside a French man-of-war, in the Lilly, won't we give it her, that's all!"

"I hope, my lads, we may have the opportunity before long," said the lieutenant. "I am glad you take things so well. Perhaps they will mend. It's a compliment, I suspect, they pay us, to bring us here; for they have heard of the way English sailors have made their escape from prison, so they consider it is necessary to carry us all this distance from the coast."

It was nearly dark when they arrived, so that they had not much time to get their habitation in order. The night passed quietly enough, except that they were startled, every now and then, by the asthmatic cough of the horse, the croaking of the bull-frogs in a neighbouring pond, and the sound of the sentry's musket, as he grounded it every now and then, when he halted, after pacing up and down in front of the hut. Bill was awoke by hearing a voice shouting—

"Hillo, shipmates, ahoy! Where are they, blacky? What! In there? Then they are as bad off as we are."

Bill jumped up, and went to the door. There he saw an English sailor, who was, however, a stranger to him.

"Hillo! Boy," said the sailor, "what cheer? What has brought you here?"

Bill told him what had occurred.

"Well, we heard of some fresh arrivals, so I came along to see who you were. We have had nearly two score of Englishmen here, officers and men; some privateersmen, some merchant seamen, the men-of-war's men having been taken mostly in prizes, except a dozen of us who belong to the Buzzard schooner, and we should not have been taken had not the sloop of war we were engaging knocked away our fore-topmast, and pretty well killed or wounded two-thirds of our ship's company. Some of them, howsumdever, have been exchanged, and some have died; so that there are only a few of us remaining to make you welcome."

In a short time, the rest of the Englishmen came to greet the newcomers. One was a lieutenant, whose thin, careworn countenance showed suffering and anxiety; and another was a grey-haired old mate, who evidently cared very little what might become of him. The account they gave of their treatment was far from satisfactory.

"We receive scarcely sufficient food to keep life in us," observed the lieutenant.

All had similar complaints to make. Several days passed by, and Mr Collinson found that his countrymen had ample reason for the complaints they made.


Mr Collinson had expected to hear from Monsieur Mouret, but day after day passed by and no news reached him. The other lieutenant, Mr Mason, at length proposed that they should endeavour to make their escape to the coast.

"I fear that the undertaking is too hazardous to be attempted," answered Mr Collinson. "Even should we reach the coast, we may find no vessel to take us on board."

Still, as he thought over the matter, he felt greatly inclined, at all risks, to make the attempt. He had husbanded the small sum of money he possessed, in case of dire necessity, either to help them to escape or to obtain food. Meantime, the rest of the party, who had scarcely recovered from their previous hardships, were growing thinner and thinner.

Sunshine Bill was the only one who kept up his spirits. In a neighbouring cottage, to which the stable belonged, lived an old negress, the wife of the proprietor. More than once she had caught sight of Bill, who used to go outside their habitation in the evening, and amuse the rest of the party, by showing that he had not forgotten Jack Windy's instructions in dancing the hornpipe. Jack declared that he had neither strength nor inclination to shake a leg himself, but he would not mind singing a tune for Bill to dance; and dance Bill did with great glee. He did his best to try and persuade Tommy to join him, but Tommy was too weak and ill to do anything of the sort. At length, one evening, when Bill had just finished his performance, the old black woman was seen approaching with a steaming bowl in her arms.

"Dare, brave garcon," she said, patting Bill on the head, and pointing to the bowl, and making signs for him to eat.

She then signified that the rest might have what he chose to leave. Bill was for giving it to them at once, but she snatched the bowl back again, and squatted herself down upon the ground to see that he took enough. Whenever he stopped, she insisted upon his going on again, till at last he put his hands before him, and made signs that he could eat no more. She then allowed him to give the remainder to his hungry companions, who very soon finished it.

"Thank you, mammy," said Bill; "but, I say, could you not just bring a plate for our officer? He is as hungry as we are. He is inside there, very ill;" and Bill made signs which could scarcely be mistaken.

The old woman caught the word "officer," and she nodded her head. She soon returned with another dish of meat and vegetables, which Bill took in to Mr Collinson.

The next day after Bill had danced his hornpipe, old Mammy Otello, as they called her, came with her usual bowl of food, but on this occasion she brought a basket with various fruits besides. This she did for two or three days. One day, however, she came at an earlier hour, and made signs to Bill that he must come over to her house. The rest of the party offered to accompany him, but she very significantly showed that she did not want their society. Bill went on, wondering what she could require, though from her good-natured looks, he felt sure she intended him no harm.

As they were going towards the house, he saw a number of black people in gay dresses coming towards it from various quarters; and when he got there, he found a large room almost full of negroes in ruffles and shirt frills, and negresses in the gayest of gay gowns, somewhat scanty over the shoulder, and fitting rather close to the figure. Bill found that there was to be a black ball. At one end of the room sat, perched up on the top of a cask, a fiddler, who began scraping away as he entered.

The guests were beginning to stand up for dancing, but Mammy Otello, taking Bill by the hand, led him up to the musician, and made him understand that he was to describe the tune he wanted to have played. Bill sung out his tune as well as he could, and the fiddler made violent attempts to imitate it. At length he succeeded to his own satisfaction, if not to Bill's.

Mammy then led him back into the middle of the room, and made him understand that he was to commence dancing.

"Well, you have been a kind old soul to us," he observed; "the only one who has shown us any attention in this place; and I will do my best to please you."

The musician began to play, and Bill began to dance, and very soon the former seemed to understand exactly the sort of music required, and off he went. The guests shouted and shrieked, and clapped their hands; and the fiddler went on playing, and Bill went on dancing, and it seemed a great question which would first grow tired.

"I'll do it, that I will," thought Bill to himself; "if it's only to see these blackamoors grinning, and rolling their eyes, and shrieking, and clapping their hands in the funny way they do."

At length, so eager did the spectators become, that they pressed closer and closer upon the dancer, and Mammy Otello had to rush in and shove them back with her stout arms to prevent him from being overwhelmed.

"Tired yet, old fellow?" shouted Bill, as he went on shuffling away and kicking his heels; "I am not, let me tell you!"

The fiddler, although he might not have understood the words, comprehended the gesture, and continued working away till it seemed as if either his head or his arms and fiddle would part company, flying off in different directions. Still Bill danced, and the black fiddler played, roars of applause proceeding from the thick lips of the dark-skinned audience.

At length, Mammy Otello, fancying that Bill himself would come to pieces, or that he would fall down exhausted, rushed in, and seizing him in her arms, carried him to a seat, amid the laughter and shouting and grinning and stamping of all present; the fiddler, dropping down his right hand, and letting his instrument slip from his chin, gave vent to a loud gasp, as if he could not either have continued his exertions many seconds longer.

Bill wanted to go back for his friends, to bring them up to see the fun, but his hostess would not hear of it; and, whenever he got up to beat a retreat, she ran and brought him back again. Meantime, the room was occupied by the negroes, who danced away in a fashion Bill had never seen before.

They bowed and scraped, and set to each other, however, with all the dignity of high-bred persons. At length Bill watched his opportunity and while Mammy Otello had gone to another part of the room, he bolted out of the house, and set off as fast as his legs could carry him to his companions in captivity.

"I told you, Bill, that hornpipe of yours would gain friends wherever you go," said Jack. "I wish the old lady would give me a chance, however. Perhaps she will now be civil to us on your account."

The next day, when Mammy Otello came, she seemed rather inclined to scold Bill for running away. He got Mr Collinson to explain that he would not have done so had the rest of the party been invited, as he did no think it fair to enjoy all the fun by himself.

"Bon garcon; bon garcon!" said Mammy Otello. "The next time, for his sake, we will invite you all."

Mr Collinson was surprised, after the many promises of assistance made by Monsieur Mouret, the planter, that he should neither have seen nor heard anything of him. At length one day, a black, dressed in livery, rode into the village, inquiring for the English lieutenant who had last come. On seeing Mr Collinson, he presented a note in a lady's hand. It contained but a few words. It was from Mademoiselle Mouret.

"The day after you came here," she said, "my father was taken ill, just as he was about to set off to Point a Petre, to make interest for you. I watched over him for some days, and I confess that my grief allowed the promises he had made to escape my memory. Alas! He has been taken from me, while I myself have barely escaped with life; and only now am I sufficiently recovered to write. Fearing that you will receive very uncourteous treatment from my countrymen, and that you may be even suffering from want of food, I have sent you some provisions by our faithful servant Pierre, as also a purse, which, I trust, you will accept from one who, though in affliction, is grateful for the kindness she has received from your friends."

Mr Collinson felt that he had no right to refuse the gift which the young lady had so liberally sent. When Jack Windy heard of it, he exclaimed—

"They're all alike! Never mind whether they're French, or Dons, or blackamoors, there's a tender place in most women's hearts, unless they're downright bad, and then stand clear of them, I say, for they're worse than us men."

The next time Mammy Otello appeared, Mr Collinson placed a gold piece in her hand.

"Here, madame," he said; "I beg that you will accept this as a mark of how sensible we are of your kindness; and I beg to assure you, that, if you can give us better accommodation, we will gladly pay for it."

Mammy Otello's countenance beamed, her mouth grew considerably wider, and her eyes sparkled, partly at the sight of the money, and partly at the lieutenant's polite speech. Putting the coin into her pocket, she hastened away. In a short time she returned.

"Our family is a small one," she said; "and as the authorities here do not object, my good man and I have arranged to give you two rooms in our house, while you shall take your meals in our public room."

Mr Collinson's great difficulty was to find paper and pen to write a suitable reply to Mademoiselle Mouret. His own pocket-book had been destroyed. Not a particle of paper could he find in the place, not even the fly-leaf of a book. The other two officers had no paper of any sort. He was able, therefore, only to return a verbal answer to the young lady.

"I told you so," said Bill, when these satisfactory arrangements had been made, "that things would improve with us, and so they have."

"Yes; but we've not had yellow Jack among us yet; and depend upon it he will be coming before long," answered old Grim.

The good fortune of the Lillys, as the other prisoners called Mr Collinson and his followers, rather excited their jealousy. It tended, however, but little to raise his spirits, and he began to fear that he should never again see his friends.

"Cheer up, sir," said Bill, who had constituted himself his special attendant, "things have mended, and they will mend still more. It's a dark day when the sun does not shine out; and depend upon it, though the clouds seem pretty heavy just now, the sun will come out before long."

One day there was an unusual commotion in the village. The negroes were running about and talking to each other, and the white people especially wore anxious countenances. Soon afterwards, drums were heard, and a regiment of militia marched by. For some time, the prisoners could not ascertain what was taking place, though it was evident that something of importance was about to occur. The few regulars in the neighbourhood were seen hurriedly to march away.

Mr Collinson and the other two officers were talking together.

"Hark!" said the former; "that's the sound of a heavy gun!"

Others followed. Eagerly they listened. Some thought that they were fired at sea, others on shore. At length the excitement of the people, who had also heard the firing, greatly increased, and they confessed that an English force had come off the island, and that the English troops had landed that morning.

"I wish we could manage to get to the top of some hill to see what is going forward," exclaimed Jack Windy. "Bill, what do you say? We could get away from these fellows now."

"If Mr Collinson wishes it, I am ready enough to go," answered Bill.

"I am afraid he would say no, if we were to ask him," said Jack. "I would give anything to find out who is winning the day."

However, the nearest hills were some way off, and, even if they had got to the top of them, they could not at all tell that they would be able to see what was taking place. The sound of the firing increased, and it became very certain that a fierce engagement was going on. The people about them, however, knew no more than they did, so they could gain no information.

At length a body of men was seen coming over a pass in the distance. They were watched anxiously. Who could they be—English or French? On they came, increasing their speed. As they drew nearer, it was evident that they were black troops—the same regiment, indeed, which had passed through the village in the morning. It seemed, from the way they marched, or rather ran, that they thought an enemy was behind them. They bore among them several wounded men. Not till they had hurried through the village did they halt.

At first, no one would say what had happened. The hopes of the English prisoners, however, began to rise, and soon the news spread through the village that a fierce battle had been fought, and that the English had been victorious. At length a French officer was seen coming along the road, who stopped for a few minutes to give his horse some water. Mr Collinson approached him.

"I am one of the English officers who have been some time prisoners in the island," he said, addressing him in French.

"Ah!" he answered, "you need consider yourselves prisoners no longer. Your countrymen have come with an overwhelming force and taken possession of the island. I am sent with despatches to the other side, to give notice of the capitulation."

This news rapidly spread throughout the village.

A loud cheer burst from Jack and the boys' throats, in which even Grimshaw joined.

The other prisoners came hurrying up to hear the news, and three more hearty cheers were given, in which even many of the negroes for sympathy could not help joining. There, whites and blacks were shouting together, and shaking hands cordially.

There was some difficulty in getting conveyances for the whole party. At length, however, mules and horses sufficient to carry them were collected. Mammy Otello gave Bill an affectionate embrace, as he wished her good-bye, an honour she did not bestow on the rest of the party. She insisted, however, on their taking several delicacies of her own cooking; and, at length, all hands being under weigh, with repeated cheers, the sailors set out from the place of their long imprisonment.

Mr Collinson stopped at the house where they had been entertained on their way. Mademoiselle Mouret entreated him not to thank her for the trifle she had sent, and begged him to assure his friends that, should they ever come to the island, it would be her pride and pleasure to receive them.

On arriving in sight of the sea, a large fleet of men-of-war and transports were seen below them, while British troops lay encamped on the side of the hill. Having been delivered over by the French authorities, in due form, to the English, they once more had the satisfaction of feeling themselves free men. Among the ships lay a fine corvette. No sooner did Jack Windy's eye fall on her than he exclaimed—

"She's the Lilly herself, or I'm a Dutchman!"

Hastening down to the port, they eagerly put off in the first boats they could find. As they pulled alongside, none on board knew them. Captain Trevelyan and the other officers were on deck. Besides Mr Barker, there was another lieutenant.

"Then they must suppose I am lost," thought Mr Collinson, as he stepped aft. "I am afraid I am not known," he said.

Captain Trevelyan started. A beam of pleasure lighted up his face.

Fortunately, the corvette was immediately despatched with news of the capture of the island. She had a quick passage to Jamaica, and Mr Collinson lost not many hours, after his arrival, in hurrying to Uphill Cottage. The black cook told Bill, who went up with him on his next visit, that the young lady did not go into hysterics at the sight of him, but, although she had been somewhat sad and pale before, her colour returned, and her voice was as cheerful and merry as it used to be. As Mr Collinson had been superseded, he did not return to the Lilly; indeed, a few days after her arrival, he received his promotion.

"Now he is a commander, I suppose he will be marrying Miss Lydall," observed Bill—a remark the sagacity of which was proved a few days before the Lilly sailed for England, where Mr and Mrs Collinson soon after arrived in a merchant-vessel.

Although Bill did not bring home as much gold as he had expected, he was received not the less warmly by widow Sunnyside and his brothers and sisters. Soon afterwards, Captain Collinson called at the widow's house, and left with her a roll of gold pieces.

"Here are Bill's wages," he said. "He attended me as my servant, and I consider them justly his due; indeed," he added, "if it had not been for his hopeful and cheerful spirit, I believe that I should have sunk under the hardships we had to go through."

The next time Captain Trevelyan went to sea, he took Sunshine Bill with him; indeed, for many years he served either with him, or with Captain Collinson, whose coxswain he became. At that time, finding an honest girl who reminded him of his happy little mother, he married, and had no reason to repent his choice. Ultimately, having improved in his education, he passed as a boatswain, in which capacity he served for many years, till he was laid up, like many another noble tar, in ordinary; but to the end of his days he maintained the same cheerful and hopeful disposition which had carried him through so many trials in his youth—a disposition which was happily inherited by a numerous offspring.


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