Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/152

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

118

LOST SHIPS AND LONELY SEAS

ceeded to imperil their skins in one of those tribal feuds which eternally flicker and smolder in the Malaysian forests. Woodard was placed in command of a tower upon the stockade wall, where he served a brass swivel and hammered obedience into a native detachment. His sun-blistered, leech-bitten sailors, clad only in sarongs, held the other barricade with creeses and muskets, and were regarded as supernatural heroes by the simple soldiery of the rajah.

A drawn battle was fought, with about two hundred men in each army, and a good many were killed or wounded. After that the war dragged along and seemed to be getting nowhere, and the chief mate lost all patience with it; so he bearded the rajah and flatly told him that his men would fight no longer unless some assurance was given that they would be conveyed to Macassar.

The rajah was stubborn and evasive and bruskly commanded the high-tempered Yankees to return to their posts on the firing-line. Woodard argued no longer, but marched back to his watch-tower, sent for his seamen, and told them to turn in their muskets. Before the astonished rajah had decided how to deal with this mutiny, the five mariners broke out of the town under cover of darkness and stole a canoe, carrying with them as much food as they