Gentlemen, Look the devil straight in the face, if you would hit him in the right place. We cannot get the ship to sea as she is; and if we could, we cannot go home empty-handed; and we surely cannot stay here to die of fever.We must leave the ship and go inland.
Inland? answered every voice but Yeos.
Up those hundred feet which Yeo talks of. Up to the mountains; stockade a camp, and get our sick and provisions thither.
And what next?
And when we are recruited, march over the mountains, and surprise St. Jago de Leon.
Cary swore a great oath. Amyas! you are a daring fellow!
Not a bit. Its the plain path of prudence.
So it is, sir, said old Yeo, and I follow you in it.
And so do I, squeaked Jack Brimblecombe.
Nay, then, Jack, thou shalt not outrun me. So I say yes too, quoth Cary.
At your service, sir, to live or die. I know naught about stockading; but Sir Francis would have given the same counsel, I verily believe, if he had been in your place.
Then tell the men that we start in an hours time. Win over the Pelicans, Yeo and Drew; and the rest must follow, like sheep over a hedge.
The Pelicans, and the liberated galley-slaves, joined the project at once; but the rest gave Amyas a stormy hour. The great question was, where were the hills? In that dense mangrove thicket they could not see fifty yards before them.
The hills are not three miles to the south-west of you at this moment, said Amyas. I marked every shoulder of them as we ran in.
I suppose you meant to take us there?
The question set a light to a trainand angry suspicions were blazing up one after another, but Amyas silenced them with a countermine.
Fools! if I had not wit enow to look ahead a little farther than you do, where would you be? Are you mad as well as reckless, to rise against your own captain because he has two strings to his bow? Go my way, I say, or, as I live, Ill blow up the ship and every soul on board, and save you the pain of rotting here by inches.
The men knew that Amyas never said what he did not intend to do; not that Amyas intended to do this, because he knew that the threat would be enough. So they, agreed to go; and were reassured by seeing that the old Pelicans men turned to the work heartily and cheerfully.
There is no use keeping the reader for five or six weary hours, under a broiling (or rather stewing) sun, stumbling over mangrove roots, hewing his way through thorny thickets, dragging sick men and provisions up mountain steeps, amid disappointment, fatigue, murmurs, curses, snakes, mosquitoes, false alarms of Spaniards, and every misery, save cold, which flesh is heir to. Suffice it that by sunset that evening
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