Gascoyne, the Sandal-Wood Trader by R M Ballantyne Page 1 of 366
The Great Pacific is the scene of our story. On a beautiful morning, many years ago, a little schooner might have been seen floating, light and graceful as a sea-mew, on the breast of the slumbering ocean.
She was one of those low black-hulled vessels, with raking, taper masts, trimly cut sails, and elegant form, which we are accustomed to associate with the idea of a yacht or a pirate.
She might have been the former, as far as appearance went, for the sails and decks were white as snow, and every portion of brass and copper above her water-line shone in the hot sun with dazzling brilliancy.
But pleasure-seekers were not wont, in those days, to take such distant flights, or to venture into such dangerous seas-dangerous alike from the savage character of the islanders, and the numerous coral-reefs that lie hidden a few feet below the surface of the waves.
Still less probable did it seem that the vessel in question could belong to the lawless class of craft to which we have referred; for, although she had what may be styled a wicked aspect, and was evidently adapted for swift sailing, neither large guns nor small arms of any kind were visible.
Whatever her nature or her object, she was reduced, at the time we introduce her to the reader, to a state of inaction by the dead calm which prevailed. The sea resembled a sheet of clear glass. Not a cloud broke the softness of the sky, in which the sun glowed hotter and hotter as it rose towards the zenith.