A Sailor Boy with Dewey/Chapter 30
A FIGHT AT LONG RANGE.
There is no doubt but that Captain Kenny was taken completely by surprise. As a matter of fact he had expected to find nobody on board or near the Dart, knowing that all of the Tagals of that territory had moved away to join the insurgent forces operating around Manila.
For a minute after Watt Brown had delivered his warning there was a silence, broken only by the soft lapping of the waves as they broke against the Dart's sides.
"What is that you say?" demanded the captain at length.
"I warn you to keep off," shouted Watt Brown. "Come closer at your peril!"
"What right have you to talk to me in this fashion, Brown?"
"A good deal of right, Captain Kenny. I have found you out, and so have others; and you are a thorough villain."
"What have you found out?"
"Found out that you were trying to defraud the other owners, for one thing."
"It aint so!" stormed the former skipper of the schooner.
"It is so."
"And you tried to take my life!" I called out, as I showed myself for the first time.
"Raymond!" he ejaculated, and for the instant he could say no more.
"I have a good body of men with me," continued Watt Brown, "and I warn you to keep off."
"The ship is mine, and I intend to have her," was the reckless return.
Captain Kenny turned to Ah Sid and spoke to the Chinaman. In return the former cook of the Dart interpreted his remarks for his countrymen.
A short discussion took place, and then Captain Kenny called out once more.
"We are coming on board, Brown, and the best thing you can do is to make a peaceful surrender."
"We won't surrender, and if you come ten feet nearer we'll open fire on you."
"You won't dare!"
"We will dare. Do you know who this boat belongs to?"
"She belongs to me."
"She belongs to the United States Government—or will belong to the government very soon."
"On the contrary, she belongs to the captain of yonder Chinese junk."
"Not much! Now keep off! I have warned you for the last time. If you don't—"
Watt Brown got no further. While he had been speaking Captain Kenny had drawn his pistol, and now, taking sudden aim, he let drive, the bullet clipping the second mate's forelock.
"The rascal!" I burst out, and was on the point of firing when the howitzer roared out, sending a shot cutting over the small boat's bow. A splinter planted itself in Ah Sid's shoulder and we were glad to see that unworthy Celestial squirm with pain.
The discharge of the ship's cannon alarmed the Chinamen more than all threats would have done, and catching up their oars, they turned the battered small boat about and made for the junk.
"That scared them," cried Dan.
"Can't Oi have a shot at 'em?" queried Mat Gory disappointedly.
"You may get more shots than you want before we have done with 'em," smiled Watt Brown grimly.
"You think they will come back?" said Dan.
"Most certainly Captain Kenny will be back. He's not the fellow to give up so readily."
We watched the small boat until it was out of range, then dropped our weapons and sought shelter from the fierce rays of the setting sun. During the excitement I had forgotten about Watt Brown's packet, but now I brought it forth and handed it to him, and in as gentle a way as I could, told him of his parent's death.
"Poor father!" he murmured, and tears stood on his rough cheeks. "He was a good man, even if he was queer. I wish I could have been with him when he died."
He then proceeded to tell us something of his parent's history, how he had been first a sailor, then a doctor, and then a rover of the earth in search of adventure.
"He has been to nearly every country on the globe," he continued. "He was always wanting to see the unknown and the strange. He did not travel so much when my mother was living, but after she died he could not content himself in one place for more than six months or a year at the most. He came to Manila with me on my last trip and intended to look for a Kanaka whom he had once met in the Hawaiian Islands."
"He said the document was of great value," I answered. "I hope it proves so."
"I'll look it over the first chance I get. Now is no time to think of anything like that, since those heathens are coming our way a second time," concluded Watt Brown.
He was right about the Chinamen. The small boat had left the junk and was moving up the shore as swiftly as the oarsmen could drive it through the surf. Captain Kenny was again on board, but Ah Sid was missing.
"They are going to make for the beach and attack us from land," exclaimed Dan.
"Can't we hit him with the howitzer?" asked Matt Gory. "You are afther bein' a foine shot, Brown."
"I'll try it," answered the mate, and once again the cannon was loaded. To sight the piece was difficult, as the small boat danced up and down on the waves incessantly.
When the howitzer was touched off it was seen that the shot had passed over the small boat. That it had come clgse, however, was proven by the consternation on board, several of the Celestials having dropped their oars in terror.
"Missed!" muttered Watt Brown. "Try the muskets."
We at once complied, the mate firing with us. But the distance was too great for those who were not sharpshooters, and none of the bullets took effect, excepting upon the small boat.
Before the howitzer could be loaded again the party landed and, hauling the rowboat up on the sands, they ran for the shelter of the trees and rocks.
"Take the small-arms over to port," ordered Watt Brown. "They'll be coming out through the woods in less than ten minutes."
"Another boat is putting off from the junk!" exclaimed Dan, who had picked up the glasses.
"Six, seven, eight, nine men are coming over in her! And they have a small gun on board!"
"Seven and nine make sixteen," I said. "Sixteen to four are pretty big odds."
"Yis, but we are afther havin' the advantage of position," returned Matt Gory. "Brown, can't ye be afther blowin' that second boat skyhoigh wid th' howitzer?"
"I can try," answered the second mate.
He had already reloaded the piece, and as the second small boat came closer he began to sight the gun.
"There is a flag of truce!" cried Dan, as an officer in the boat held up a white handkerchief by two of the corners.
"We don't recognize any flag of truce!" cried Watt Brown. "I'll show 'em that none o' their dirty Chinese tricks will work on me!"
And rushing around he found a big red blanket and swung it defiantly to the breeze. For several seconds the Chinamen refused to recognize the return signal, but then the white handkerchief dropped and the second small boat came to a lazy roll on the long waves.
"Watch the woods!" sang out Watt Brown. "I'll keep these fellows at bay, never fear."
"I see some forms behind yonder trees," said Dan, a second later. "They are coming on as fast as they can, and each man has a pistol and a rifle! They mean fight!"
"Take that, ye villain!" came from Matt Gory, and taking a quick aim, he fired, and the foremost of the Celestials went down, hit in the side.
This serious shot brought the crowd under Captain Kenny to a halt, and in a twinkle all disappeared again from view.
"They are gone," said the Irish sailor.
"They'll be coming on again, soon," said the second mate. And his words proved only too true.