Charley Laurel - A Story of Adventure by Sea and Land
106 Pages
English

Charley Laurel - A Story of Adventure by Sea and Land

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Published 08 December 2010
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Language English
The Project Gutenberg EBook of Charley Laurel, by W. H. G. Kingston This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: Charley Laurel A Story of Adventure by Sea and Land Author: W. H. G. Kingston Illustrator: Savile Lumley Release Date: May 15, 2007 [EBook #21458] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK CHARLEY LAUREL *** Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England W H G Kingston "Charley Laurel" Chapter One. Valuable Booty. A good many years ago, before, indeed, I can remember, His Majesty’s Ship Laurel, a corvette of eighteen guns and a hundred and thirty men, commanded by Captain Blunt, formed one of the West India squadron. She, with another corvette, and a brig in company, came one fine morning off a beautiful island, then in possession of the French, although, as Dick Driver, from whom I got the particulars, said, properly belonged to England, at least, it once had. Of course, therefore, it was their business to get it back again. Dick could not recollect its name, nor the exact date of the occurrences I am describing, for, being no scholar, he was a very bad hand at recollecting dates; and as he could not write his own name, of course it was not to be expected that he would keep a journal, or remember very accurately all the places he had visited. The Laurel and her consorts, having hoisted French colours, stood along the coast, which the captain and officers of the former ship narrowly examined with their glasses. At length the shades of evening drew on, and they came off a small town, situated on the shore of a bay, the entrance of which was guarded by a fort. The Laurel stood on, as if about to enter the bay, but the land-wind coming off the shore, she and the other two vessels stood away till they had got such a distance from the harbour that there was no chance of their being seen by the sharpest eyes, with the best of night-glasses, looking out for them. The ships having hove-to, the commanders of the other vessels came on board the Laurel, when Captain Blunt announced his intention of attacking the town, hoping to hold possession of it till another squadron, which had been destined for the purpose, had captured a more important place on the other side of the island. The captain’s plan was to send in the different boats of the squadron with a strong party of marines and blue-jackets, in three divisions, a couple of hours before daylight, as it was hoped at that time, the garrison of the fort being less on the alert than at an earlier hour, the boats might enter the bay unperceived. The first and largest division was instructed to take possession of the town; the second was to attack the fort; and the third to cut out any vessels found in the harbour, in case the other two should be compelled to retreat, so that, at all events, there might be something to show for the night’s work. The boats’ crews, and all who were fortunate enough, as they considered it, to be selected for the expedition, were soon busily employed in sharpening cutlasses, fitting fresh flints to their pistols, and making other preparations for the possible bloody work in which they were to be engaged. Dick Driver, who belonged to the cutter’s crew, was among the most active. Dick was a short, strongly built, powerful fellow, with a broad, honest countenance, bright blue eyes, and fair bushy beard and whiskers,—a truer-hearted, braver seaman than Dick Driver never stepped. “If this here cutlass of mine does its duty, we’ll thrash the Mounseers, and gain the King his own again,” exclaimed Dick, as he applied his weapon to the grindstone, feeling that he was a host in himself; and so he was, provided no treacherous bullet found its way through his sturdy frame, when, alas, Dick’s strength and courage would have availed him nothing. The boats at length collected round the Laurel; the oars were muffled; the officers were ordered to maintain a strict silence. It was hoped that by getting in the rear of the fort it might be taken with a rush, while the larger party entered the town, and took by surprise any troops who might be stationed within it. The night was very dark, for clouds were in the sky, and the water was smooth. The first lieutenant of the Laurel, who commanded the expedition, leading in the gig, away the boats pulled, keeping close together, and looking as they glided along like some huge serpent creeping on his prey. The entrance to the bay was gained without the boats being discovered. They dashed on more rapidly than before. In a few minutes they would be hard at work, the seamen slashing away with their cutlasses, and the marines firing, and pronging with their muskets and bayonets at their fellow-creatures. Strange that men should like such work. Dick confessed he did, though he could not exactly say why. The officers did their duty admirably; the marines were landed, and the blue-jackets were springing on shore before a shot was fired from the town. Dick, who belonged to the first division, pushed on in that direction with his party, while the other two attended to their destined duty. The gates of the fort, however, being closed, the intended rush could not be accomplished; and it was evident from the rapid firing that some hot work was going on there. Instead also of at once entering the town, the first party found their progress impeded by a somewhat numerous body of troops, who, quartered near at hand, turned out in time to defend it. The Frenchmen fought well, Dick acknowledged, though some had neither boots nor coats on, and many were destitute of other garments. They were, however, driven back inch by inch, till some turned tail and fled; the rest soon afterwards doing the same, followed by the victors, who fired indiscriminately at every one they saw in front of them. On such an occasion many of the unfortunate inhabitants were too likely to suffer, and many who had no arms in their hands, or had thrown them down and cried out for quarter, were shot before the officers could halt their men. Meeting with two streets forking