Read CHAPTER FIFTY ONE of Masterman Ready The Wreck of the "Pacific", free online book, by Frederick Marryat, on

Mr Seagrave and Ready then set to work, and made a rough sort of bed of cocoa-nut branches; and, after eating their supper, committed themselves to the divine protection, and went to sleep.  The next morning they resumed their labour, and opened every other case and package that had been saved from the wreck; they found more books, four boxes of candles, three casks of rice, and several other useful articles, besides many others which were of no value to them.

A chest of tea, and two bags of coffee, which Ready had brought on shore, were, much to their delight, found in good order; but there was no sugar, the little which they had saved having been melted away.

“That’s unfortunate, sir.”

“We cannot expect to get things here, as though we were a hundred yards from a grocer’s shop.  Now let us go to where we covered up the other articles with sand.”

The sand was shovelled up, and the barrels of beef and pork and the deal boards found in good order, but many other things were quite spoilt.  About noon they had finished, and as they had plenty of time, Mr Seagrave took the bearings of the different points of land with the compasses.  They then shouldered their muskets, and set off on their return.

They gained the house in the bay, and having rested a little while at the storehouse, they proceeded on their way to the tents in the meadow.  They had about half a mile to go, when Ready heard a noise, and made a sign to Mr Seagrave to stop.  Ready, whispering to Mr Seagrave that the pigs were all close to them, loaded his musket; Mr Seagrave did the same, and they walked very softly to where they now heard their grunting; they did not see them till they were within twenty yards, and then they came upon the whole herd; the pigs raised their heads; the old ones gave a loud grunt, and then, just as Ready fired his musket, they all set off at full speed.  Mr Seagrave had no opportunity of firing, but Ready had shot one, which lay kicking and struggling under a cocoa-nut tree.

“A piece of fresh pork will be quite a treat, Mr Seagrave,” said Ready, as they walked up to where the animal was lying.

“It will, indeed, Ready,” replied Mr Seagrave; “we must contrive to carry the beast home between us.”

“We will sling it on the musket, sir, and it will not be very heavy.  It is one of those born on the island, and a very fine fellow for his age.”

The pig was soon slung, and they carried it between them.  As they cleared the wood, they perceived Mrs Seagrave and William, who had heard the report of the musket, and had come out to meet them.

William took the load from his father, who walked on with Mrs Seagrave.

“Well, William, what news have you?” said Ready.

“Why, very good, Ready.  Yesterday evening, when I was tired of work, I thought I would take the boat, and try if there was any fish to be caught on this side of the island in the deep water, and I caught three large ones, quite different from those we took among the reefs.  We had one for breakfast and dinner to-day, and it was excellent.”

“Did you go out in the boat by yourself?”

“No; I took Juno with me.  She pulls very well, Ready.”

“She is a handy girl, William.  Well, we have had our survey, and there will be plenty of work for you and me, I can tell you; I don’t think we can bring everything round in a week; so I suppose to-morrow we had better be off.”

“Well, I like boating better than ditching, I can tell you, Ready,” replied William.  “I shan’t be sorry to leave that work to my father.”

“I suppose it must fall to him; as he will, of course, prefer staying with Mrs Seagrave and the children.”

As soon as they were at the tents, Ready hung up the pig to the cross pole of the tent in which he and William and Mr Seagrave slept, and having propped the muskets up against the side of the tent, he went with William to get his knife and some stretchers of wood to open the pig with.  While he and William were away, Caroline and Tommy came out to look at it, and Tommy, after telling Caroline how glad he was that they were to have roast pig for dinner, took up one of the muskets, and said, “Now, Caroline, I’ll shoot the pig.”

“Oh!  Tommy, you must not touch the gun,” cried Caroline; “papa will be very angry.”

“I don’t care,” replied Tommy.  “I’ll show you how to shoot the pig.”

“Don’t, Tommy,” cried Caroline; “if you do, I’ll go and tell mamma.”

“Then I’ll shoot you,” replied Tommy, trying to point the musket at her.

Caroline was so frightened, that she ran away as fast as she could, and then Tommy, using all his strength, contrived to get the musket up to his shoulder, and pulled the trigger.

It so happened that Tommy had taken up Mr Seagrave’s musket, which had not been fired, and when he pulled the trigger it went off, and as he did not hold it tight to his shoulder, it recoiled, and hit him with the butt right on his face, knocking out two of his teeth, besides making his nose bleed very fast.

Tommy was so astonished and frightened at the musket going off, and the blow which he received, that he gave a loud yell, dropped the musket, and ran to the tent where his father and mother were, just as they had started up and had rushed out at hearing the report.

When Mrs Seagrave saw Tommy all covered with blood, and screaming so loud, she was so alarmed that she could not stand, and fell fainting in Mr Seagrave’s arms.  Ready and William, on hearing the musket go off, had run as fast as they could, fearing that some accident had happened; and while Mr Seagrave supported his wife, Ready went to Tommy, and wiping the blood off his face with the palm of his hand, perceived that there was no wound or serious mischief, and cried out to Mr Seagrave, “He’s not hurt, sir; it’s only his nose bleeding.”

“Musket knocked me down,” cried Tommy, sobbing as the blood ran out of his mouth.

“Serve you right, Tommy; you’ll take care not to touch the musket again.”

“I won’t touch it again,” cried Tommy, blubbering.

Juno now came up with some water to wash his face; Mrs Seagrave had recovered, and gone back into the tent, on Mr Seagrave telling her that it was only Tommy’s nose which was bleeding.

In about half-an-hour Tommy had ceased crying, and his nose had left off bleeding; his face was washed, and then it was discovered that he had lost two front teeth, and that his cheek and lips were very much bruised.  He was undressed, and put to bed, and was soon fast asleep.

“I should not have left the muskets,” said Ready to William; “it was my fault; but I thought Tommy had been told so often not to touch fire-arms, that he would not dare to do so.”

“He pointed it at me, and tried to shoot me,” said Caroline, “but I ran away.”

“Merciful heavens! what an escape!” cried Mrs Seagrave.

“He has been well punished this time, madam, and I’ll venture to say he will not touch a musket again in a hurry.”

“Yes; but he must be punished more,” said Mr Seagrave.  “He must remember it.”

“Well, sir, if he is to be punished more, I think you cannot punish him better than by not allowing him to have any of the pig when it is cooked.”

“I think so too, Ready; and therefore that is a settled thing ­no pig for Tommy.”