Masterman Ready

Author: Frederick Marryat

Chapter LX

Another week passed away, during which Ready repaired the boat, and William and Mr. Seagrave were employed in digging up the garden. It was also a very busy week at the house, as they had not washed linen for some time. Mrs. Seagrave and Juno, and even little Caroline were hard at work, and Tommy was more useful than ever he had been, going for the water as they required it, and watching little Albert. Indeed, he was so active, that Mrs. Seagrave praised him before his papa, and Tommy was quite proud.

On the Monday William and Ready set off in the boat to the little harbour, and found all the stock doing well. Many of the bananas and guavas had ripened and withered, but there were enough left to fill the boat half full.

"We cannot do better than to leave the stock where it is at present, William; they can run into the cocoa-nut grove for shelter if there is a storm, and there is feed enough for ten times as many."

"Yes; but will you not dig up a few yams first?"

"I had quite forgotten it, William. I will go for the spade."

Having procured the yams, they set off on their return. Before they arrived at the bay, the sky clouded over and threatened a storm. It did not, however, rain till after they had landed, when a small shower announced the commencement of the rainy season. The fruit was very welcome to all of them, it was so long since they had tasted any.

The following day was beautifully fine, and everything appeared refreshed by the rain which had fallen. It was, however, agreed, that Ready and William should go round the next morning, bring home the tents, and as many yams as the boat could carry. William and Ready went out at night as usual, when Ready observed that the wind had chopped round to the eastward.

"That will be bad for us to-morrow, Ready," replied William. "We may sail to the harbour, but we shall have to pull back with the loaded boat."

"I trust it will be no worse than that, at all events," replied Ready; "but we must now return, and go to bed. I shall be up by daylight, so you need not wake without you like."

"I can’t help waking," replied William, "and I shall, therefore, be up with you."

"Very well, I am always glad of your company."

The next morning, just before the day dawned, Ready and William unfastened the door of the stockade, and went down to the beach. The wind was still to the eastward, and blowing rather fresh, and the sky was cloudy. As the sun rose, Ready, as usual, had his telescope with him, and looked through it at the offing to the eastward. As he kept the spy-glass to his eye for some time without speaking, William said:

"Do you see anything, Ready, that you look so long in that direction?"

"Either my old eyes deceive me, or I fear that I do," replied Ready; "but a few minutes more will decide."

There was a bank of clouds on the horizon to the eastward, but as soon as the sun had risen above them, Ready, who had the telescope fixed in the same direction, said:

"Yes, William, I am right. I thought that those dark patches I saw there were brown grass sails."

"Sails of what, Ready?" said William, hastily.

"Of the Indian canoes; I knew that they would come. Take the glass and look yourself; my eye is quite dim from straining it so long."

"Yes, I have them now," replied William, with his eye to the glass. At last he said:

"Why, there are twenty or thirty of them, Ready, at least."

"And with twenty or thirty men in each too, William."

"What must we do, Ready? How frightened my poor mother will be! I’m afraid we can do nothing against such a number."

"Yes, William, we can do a great deal, and we must do a great deal. That there are hundreds of savages there is no doubt; but recollect that we have a stockade, which they cannot easily climb over, and plenty of firearms and ammunition, so that we can make a good fight of it, and perhaps beat them off, for they have nothing but clubs and spears."

"How fast they come down, Ready; why, they will be here in an hour."

"No, sir, nor in two hours either; those are very large canoes. However, there is no time to be lost. While I watch them for a few minutes till I make them more clearly out, do you run up to the house and beckon your father to come down to me; and then, William, get all the muskets ready, and bring the casks of powder, and of made-up cartridges, from the old house into the stockade. Call Juno, and she will help you. We shall have time enough to do everything. After you have done that, you had better come down and join us."

In a very few minutes after William ran up to the house, Mr. Seagrave made his appearance.

"Ready, there is danger, I’m sure; William would not tell me, I presume, because he was afraid of alarming his mother. What is it?"

"It is, Mr. Seagrave, that the savages are now coming down upon us in large force; perhaps five or six hundred of them; and that we shall have to defend ourselves with might and main."

"Do you think we have any chance against such a force?"

"Yes, sir, with God’s help I have no doubt but that we shall beat them off; but we must fight hard, and for some days, I fear."

Mr. Seagrave examined the fleet of canoes with the glass. "It is, indeed, dreadful odds to contend against."

"Yes, sir, but three muskets behind a stockade are almost a match for all their clubs and spears, provided none of us are wounded."

"Well, Ready, we must put our trust in the Lord, and do our best; I will second you to the utmost of my power, and William, I’m sure, will do his duty."

"I think, sir," said Ready, "we had better not wait here any more, as we have not long to prepare for them. We have only to fix up some of our strong deal planks on the inside of the stockade for us to stand upon when we are attacked, that we may see what the enemy is about, and be able to fire upon them. But first we had better go to the old house, and take out what provisions and other articles we shall most want, and roll the casks into the stockade, for to the old house they will go first, and perhaps destroy everything in it. The casks they certainly will, for the sake of the iron hoops. An hour’s work will do a great deal. I believe we have everything we want in the stockade; Juno has her fuel, the large butt of water will last us two or three weeks at least, and if we have time, we will get the wheels down, and spear a couple of turtles for fresh provisions."

These observations were made as they walked up to the house. As soon as they arrived, they found William and Juno had just brought in the powder and cartridges. Mr. Seagrave went in to break the matter to his wife.

"I was told that I had to expect this, my dear," replied Mrs. Seagrave, "so that it has not come upon me altogether unawares, and anything that a poor weak woman can do, I will."

"I am indeed greatly relieved," said Mr. Seagrave, "by finding you thus prepared and supported. I shall feel no anxiety - but we have work to be done."

Mr. and Mrs. Seagrave then joined William, Beady, and Juno, who had already proceeded to the old house. The children were all still in bed and asleep, so that there was no occasion for any one to watch them.


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Chicago: Frederick Marryat, "Chapter LX," Masterman Ready, ed. Altemus, Henry in Masterman Ready Original Sources, accessed January 30, 2023,

MLA: Marryat, Frederick. "Chapter LX." Masterman Ready, edited by Altemus, Henry, in Masterman Ready, Original Sources. 30 Jan. 2023.

Harvard: Marryat, F, 'Chapter LX' in Masterman Ready, ed. . cited in , Masterman Ready. Original Sources, retrieved 30 January 2023, from