Page images


Off to Simon's Bay—Mutiny of the Slaves—Their Repulse—Ship

on Fire—The black Demons—The Zulus' Escape—The Vessel sinks.

LTHOUGH the slaver had been the scene of so

much misery to Hans, yet when he knew that

she was going to the Cape he begged the captain's permission to go in her. He was anxious to get back to Natal, or at least to let his friends know that he was alive and well. The captain of the brig did not like to let Hans go, because from him he hoped to discover the head-quarters of the slavers; but Hans informed him of all he knew, and urged that he could tell no more even if with him, for he did not know what part of the coast the slavers lived on, except that it was not far from Delagoa Bay. After vainly endeavouring to persuade Hans to stay with him, the captain consented to his going in the slaver, and so Hans once more set foot on this ship, though under very different conditions from those with which he had previously boarded her. He was now given a hammock in the captain's cabin, Prospects of Home.


and was able to roam about the ship without hindrance. By dint of soap and much scrubbing he had succeeded in rubbing off the composition that the slavers had painted him with, and he therefore now looked a thorough white man.

It was not considered safe to free the slaves and allow them all to come on deck, but a portion of them were liberated at a time, and brought up to the fresh air ; and when these had been again secured, others were allowed to come up, so that during the twenty-four hours every slave passed a certain portion of his time in the fresh air.

The wind being fair for the slaver, she ran rapidly with the current that runs down the coast to the south-west, and was supposed to be about forty miles south of Cape L'Agulhas on the day after she had parted company with the brig. Towards the evening of this day it fell calm, and at sunset there was not a breeze stirring. Hans was leaning over the side of the vessel, talking to the lieutenant who commanded her, when the sun-setting attracted their attention.

"We shall have enough wind before the morning,' said the lieutenant, ‘for the sun looks windy.'

“Yes, that is the truth,' replied Hans. · How long will it be before we get to the Cape ?'

We could drift down there in little more than two days even if there was no wind, for there is a current of three miles an hour running down this coast; but with a fair wind we shall get there in less

[ocr errors]



time. Where shall you go to when you get to the Cape?'

“I must get up to Natal as soon as I can,' replied Hans; but I know not how to do that.

I have no money, and know no one there. Hark to the slaves ! they are more noisy than ever.'

“Yes,' replied the officer, they are just letting out some, and chaining up others. It is disagreeable work having slaves on board, but there ought not to be all this noise ; something must be wrong.'

This last remark had scarcely been made than from the hatchway leading to where the slaves were confined four of the sailors rushed up on deck, two of them bleeding from wounds in the face, whilst the other two were helping them along. They shouted, “The slaves have mutinied, sir,' 'Look out, sir,' 'They have freed themselves,' and ran towards the officer and Hans. Closely following these sailors nearly a score of the negroes rushed on deck, yelling like maniacs, and flourishing portions of planking and benches, with which they had armed themselves. From the shouts which arose from below, it was evident that the negroes had possessed themselves of the means of unfastening their chains and handcuffs ; and thus the situation of the prize crew was rather critical. The trained sailor, however, saw that instant action was the only chance. Calling to the two sailors to follow him, he drew his sword, and rushed at the nearest negro, whom he cut down at one blow. Drawing a pistol from his belt, he


[blocks in formation]

shot another, and was looking round for another victim, when the negroes, panic-stricken by the sudden exhibition of power, rushed to the hatchway, and tumbled one after the other down amongst their companions, leaving only their two slain comrades on deck. "On with the hatch,' shouted the lieutenant; and the two sailors, who were now joined by the man who had stood by the wheel, and by the two wounded sailors and Hans, placed the hatch over the hatchway, and immediately secured it so that no man could come up.

Who's below?' inquired the lieutenant of one of

[ocr errors]

his men.

'Steel and Roberts, yer honour. They're torn to bits by this time.'

• How did this occur, men ?'

* Just the devil in these fellows, sir. We was taking them quietly down, after giving 'em a look at the sea, when one of 'em whistles, and at once the whole lot turns upon us, snatches my cutlass afore I could get hold of it, knocks down Steel and Roberts, slices those two across the face, and so begins it. I knocked two of 'em over with my fist, but thern niggers' heads is tarnal hard, and fists is no account against a hundred of them fellows, when they have your cutlass, too; so I comes up to you to tell you, sir.'

"Are all the men on deck?' asked the lieutenant. Yes, sir, all.'

'Get the arms out of the chest, Jones. Let each man have fifty rounds of ammunition. Four men keep watch

[ocr errors]

over this hatch, and shoot any slave who attempts to force it up. Blake, you take two men, and see that the slaver's crew are quiet. Give them a hint that we are not to be trifled with, and then wait for orders.'

These directions having been given by the lieutenant, he reloaded his pistol, and turning to Hans, said, "The two hundred slaves, if on this deck, would murder us, and throw us into the sea, in spite of our weapons ; but if we can keep them under hatches, they can do nothing, though they all get free of their chains. If a breeze does spring up, we shall be in Simon's Bay in twenty-four hours, and we can then obtain force enough to defy all these savages. Two of my men are murdered, I fear, and I can give them no aid even if they are not. These savages are like infuriated wild beasts when they have once tasted blood, and to open that hatch now would risk all our lives. You have no weapons,' he remarked, seeing that Hans had neither sword nor pistol. 'Go into my cabin ; you will find a double-barrelled pistol above the cot in which I sleep. We may all want to use our weapons.'

Hans entered the cabin, and found the pistol, with which he returned on deck, when he immediately joined the lieutenant, who was directing his men how to oppose the efforts of the slaves to force the hatchway; one or two thrusts with a cutlass, and the exhibition of a pistol, being found effective to check these attempts on the part of the slaves.

Yells and groans were uttered for some time by the

« PreviousContinue »