Chapter 4


Our hero and his comrade climbed the precipice, and, after some minutes’ severe toil, arrived at the summit, when they sat down to recover themselves. The sky was clear, although the gale blew strong. They had an extensive view of the coast, lashed by the angry waves.

“It’s my opinion, Ned,” said Jack, as he surveyed the expanse of troubled water, “that we’re just as well out of that.”

“I agree with you, Jack; but it’s also my opinion that we should be just as well out of this, for the wind blows through one. Suppose we go a little farther inland, where we may find some shelter till the morning.”

“It’s rather dark to find anything,” rejoined our hero; “but, however, a westerly gale on the top of a mountain with wet clothes in the middle of the night, with nothing to eat or drink, is not the most comfortable position in the world, and we may change for the better.”

They proceeded over a flat of a hundred yards, and then descended—the change in the atmosphere was immediate. As they continued their march inland, they came to a highroad, which appeared to run along the shore, and they turned into it; for, as Jack said very truly, a road must lead to something. After a quarter of an hour’s walk, they again heard the rolling of the surf, and perceived the white walls of houses.

“Here we are at last,” said Jack. “I wonder if any one will turn out to take us in, or shall we stow away for the night in one of those vessels hauled up on the beach?”

“Recollect this time, Easy,” said Gascoigne, “not to show your money; that is, show only a dollar, and say you have no more, or promise to pay when we arrive at Palermo; and if they will neither trust us nor give to us, we must make it out as we can.”

“How the cursed dogs bark! I think we shall do very well this time, Gascoigne: we do not look as if we were worth robbing, at all events, and we have the pistols to defend ourselves with if we are attacked. Depend upon it I will show no more gold. And now let us make our arrangements. Take you one pistol, and take half the gold—I have it all in my right-hand pocket—my dollars and pistarenes in my left. You shall take half of them too. We have silver enough to go on with till we are in a safe place.”

Jack then divided the money in the dark, and also gave Gascoigne a pistol.

“Now then, shall we knock for admittance?—Let’s first walk through the village, and see if there’s anything like an inn. Those yelping curs will soon be at our heels; they come nearer and nearer every time. There’s a cart, and it’s full of straw—suppose we go to bed till tomorrow morning—we shall be warm, at all events.”

“Yes,” replied Gascoigne, “and sleep much better than in any of the cottages. I have been in Sicily before, and you have no idea how the fleas bite.”

Our two midshipmen climbed up into the cart, nestled themselves into the straw, or rather Indian corn leaves, and were soon fast asleep. As they had not slept for two nights, it is not to be wondered at that they slept soundly—so soundly, indeed, that about two hours after they had got into their comfortable bed, the peasant, who had brought to the village some casks of wine to be shipped and taken down the coast in a felucca, yoked his bullocks, and not being aware of his freight, drove off without, in any way, disturbing their repose, although the roads in Sicily are not yet macadamized.

The jolting of the roads rather increased than disturbed the sleep of our adventurers; and, although there were some rude shocks, it only had the effect of making them fancy in their dreams that they were again in the boat, and that she was still dashing against the rocks. In about two hours, the cart arrived at its destination—the peasant unyoked his bullocks and led them away. The same cause will often produce

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