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´╗┐Title: Sunk at Sea
Author: Ballantyne, R. M. (Robert Michael), 1825-1894
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Sunk at Sea" ***

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Sunk at Sea, by R.M. Ballantyne.

________________________________________________________________________
This story starts with the childhood of one of Ballantyne's perpetual
heroes, Will Osten.  Will would love to have a career at sea, but his
father, a very successful businessman, thinks otherwise, so eventually
Will agrees to study medicine.  However, before his studies are over he
decides that he really _must_ go to sea, and he joins a friend of his,
Captain Dall, on his ship.

They travel to the Pacific, where they encounter some very heavy weather
as a result of which a plank is started in the ship's hull, and she
starts to sink.  All attempts to find and stop the leak fail, and she
does indeed sink, with the crew taking to the boats.

Eventually they reach a small coral island, but they have not been there
long before a visiting native war-canoe perceives them and takes them to
another much larger island, where preparations are made to kill and eat
them.  Luckily there is an old white man there who has long been
accepted by the natives and who gets our heroes and his friends off this
rather dire treatment, but was too late for some of the crew.

A visiting sandalwood trader, who does not wish to pay for the cargo he
has taken on board, fires on the natives, causing our heroes to flee for
their lives.  A hunt is set up for them.  Luckily a missionary ship
comes in a few days later, and manages to restore peace.  Our heroes
return to the village.  A mission is set up, and a small church,
complete with a spire, is built.  Another vessel calls for water, and
would have opened fire, just for spite, but they see the spire and
restrain themselves.  Our heroes persuade the captain to take them on
board.  Will has fallen in love with the missionary's daughter, but
nevertheless joins the party leaving for the ship, the "Rover".  For the
sequel see "Lost in the Forest".

________________________________________________________________________
SUNK AT SEA, BY R.M. BALLANTYNE.



CHAPTER ONE.

TREATS OF OUR HERO'S EARLY LIFE, AND TOUCHES ON DOMESTIC MATTERS.

William Osten was a wanderer by nature.  He was born with a thirst for
adventure that nothing could quench, and with a desire to rove that
nothing could subdue.

Even in babyhood, when his limbs were fat and feeble, and his visage was
round and red, he displayed his tendency to wander in ways and under
circumstances that other babies never dreamt of.  He kept his poor
mother in a chronic fever of alarm, and all but broke the heart of his
nurse, long before he could walk, by making his escape from the nursery
over and over again, on his hands and knees; which latter bore constant
marks of being compelled to do the duty of feet in dirty places.

Baby Will never cried.  To have heard him yell would have rejoiced the
hearts of mother and nurse, for that would have assured them of his
being near at hand and out of mischief--at least not engaged in more
than ordinary mischief.  But Baby Will was a natural philosopher from
his birth.  He displayed his wisdom by holding his peace at all times,
except when very hard pressed by hunger or pain, and appeared to regard
life in general in a grave, earnest, inquiring spirit.  Nevertheless, we
would not have it understood that Will was a slow, phlegmatic baby.  By
no means.  His silence was deep, his gravity profound, and his
earnestness intense, so that, as a rule, his existence was unobtrusive.
But his energy was tremendous.  What he undertook to do he usually did
with all his might and main--whether it was the rending of his pinafore
or the smashing of his drum!

We have said that he seldom or never cried, but he sometimes laughed,
and that not unfrequently; and when he did so you could not choose but
hear, for his whole soul gushed out in his laugh, which was rich, racy,
and riotous.  He usually lay down and rolled when he laughed, being
quite incapable of standing to do it--at least during the early period
of babyhood.  But Will would not laugh at everything.  You could not
make him laugh by cooing and smirking and talking nonsense, and
otherwise making an ass of yourself before him.

Maryann, the nurse, had long tried that in vain, and had almost broken
her heart about it.  She was always breaking her heart, more or less,
about her charge, yet, strange to say, she survived that dreadful
operation, and ultimately lived to an extreme old age!

"Only think," she was wont to say to Jemima Scrubbins, her bosom friend,
the monthly nurse who had attended Will's mother, and whose body was so
stiff, thin, and angular, that some of her most intimate friends thought
and said she must have been born in her skeleton alone--"Only think,
Jemimar, I give it as my morial opinion that that hinfant 'asn't larfed
once--no, not once--durin' the last three days, although I've chirruped
an' smiled an' made the most smudgin' faces to it, an' heaped all sorts
o' blandishments upon it till--.  Oh! you can't imagine; but nothink's
of any use trying of w'en you can't do it; as my 'usband, as was in the
mutton-pie line, said to the doctor the night afore he died--my 'art is
quite broken about it, so it is."

To which Jemima was wont to reply, with much earnestness--for she was a
sympathetic soul, though stiff, thin, and angular--"You don't say so,
Maryhann!  P'raps it's pains."

Whereupon Maryann would deny that pains had anything to do with it, and
Jemima would opine that it was, "koorious, to say the least of it."

No, as we have said, Baby Will would not laugh at everything.  He
required to see something really worth laughing at before he would give
way, and when he did give way, his eyes invariably disappeared, for his
face was too fat to admit of eyes and mouth being open at the same time.
This was fortunate, for it prevented him for a little from seeing the
object that tickled his fancy, and so gave him time to breathe and
recruit for another burst.  Had it been otherwise, he would certainly
have suffocated himself in infancy, and this, his veracious biography,
would have remained unwritten!

To creep about the house into dangerous and forbidden places, at the
risk of life and limb, was our hero's chief delight in early childhood.
To fall out of his cradle and crib, to tumble down stairs, and to bruise
his little body until it was black and blue, were among his most
ordinary experiences.  Such mishaps never drew tears, however, from his
large blue eyes.  After struggling violently to get over the rail of his
crib, and falling heavily on the floor, he was wont to rise with a gasp,
and gaze in bewilderment straight before him, as if he were
rediscovering the law of gravitation.  No phrenologist ever conceived
half the number of bumps that were developed on his luckless cranium.

We make no apology to the reader for entering thus minutely into the
character and experiences of a baby.  That baby is the hero of our tale.
True, it is as a young man that he is to play his part; but a great
philosopher has told us that he always felt constrained to look upon
children with respect; and a proverb states that, "the child is the
father of the man."

Without either pinning our faith to the philosopher or the proverb, we
think it both appropriate and interesting to note the budding genius of
the wanderer whose footsteps we are about to follow.

Baby Will's mother was a gentle and loving, but weak woman.  His father,
William Horace Osten by name, was a large, hearty, affectionate, but
coarse man.  He appreciated his wife's gentle, loving nature, but could
not understand her weakness.  She admired her husband's manly, energetic
spirit, but could not understand his roughness.  He loved the baby, and
resolved to "make a man of him."  She loved the baby, and wished to make
him a "good boy."  In the furtherance of their designs the one tried to
make him a lion, the other sought to convert him into a lamb.  Which of
the two would have succeeded can never be known.  It is probable that
both would have failed by counteracting each other, as is no uncommon
experience when fathers and mothers act separately in such a matter.  If
the one had succeeded, he would have made him a bear.  The other, if
successful, would have made him a nincompoop.  Fortunately for our hero,
a higher power saved him, and, by training him in the school of
adversity, made him both a lion and a lamb.  The training was very
severe and prolonged, however.

It was long before the lion would consent to lie down in the same breast
with the lamb.  Certainly it was not during the season of childhood.
The lion appeared to have it all his own way during that interesting
epoch, and the father was proportionately gratified, while the mother
was dismayed.

Boyhood came, and with it an increased desire to rove, and a more
fervent thirst for adventure.  At school our hero obtained the name that
stuck to him through life--"Wandering Will."  The seaport town in the
west of England in which he dwelt had been explored by him in all its
ramifications.  There was not a retired court, a dark lane, or a blind
alley, with which he was unfamiliar.  Every height, crag, cliff,
plantation, and moor within ten miles of his father's mansion had been
thoroughly explored by Will before he was eight years of age, and his
aspiring spirit longed to take a wider flight.

"I want to go to sea, father," said he one evening after tea, looking in
his father's face with much more of the leonine gaze than the father had
bargained for.  His training up to that point had been almost too
successful!

This was not the first time that the boy had stated the same wish; his
gaze, therefore, did not quail when his father looked up from his
newspaper and said sternly--"Fiddlesticks, boy! hold your tongue."

"Father," repeated Will, in a tone that caused Mr Osten to lay down his
paper, "I want to go to sea."

"Then the sooner you give up the idea the better, for I won't let you."

"Father," continued Will, "you remember the proverb that you've often
told me has been your motto through life, `Never venture never win?'"

"Certainly; you know that I have often urged you to act on that
principle at school.  Why do you ask the question?"

"Because I mean to act on it now, and go to sea," replied Will firmly.

"What? without permission, without clothes, and without money; for you
shan't have a six-pence from me?"

"Yes," replied Will.

Mr Osten was one of those stern, despotic men who cannot bear to be
thwarted.  He was a rich merchant, and almost the king of the little
town in which he dwelt.  His greatest ambition was to make his only son
a thorough man of business.  To be spoken to in such a tone by that
rebellious son was too much for him.  He lost his temper, leaped up,
and, seizing Will by the collar, thrust him out of the room.

The boy ran to his own bedroom, and, seating himself in front of the
dressing-table, hit that piece of furniture with his clenched fist so
violently that all its contents leaped up and rattled.

"Dear, dear Will," said a gentle voice at his side, while a loving hand
fell on his shoulder, "why do you frown so fiercely?"

"How can I help it, mother, when he treats me like that?  He is harsh
and unfair to me."

"Not so unfair as you think, dear Will," said his mother.

We will not detail the arguments by which the good lady sought to combat
her son's desires.  Suffice it to say that she succeeded--as only
mothers know how--in lulling the lion to sleep at that time, and in
awakening the lamb.  Wandering Will went back to school with a good
grace, and gave up all idea of going to sea.



CHAPTER TWO.

RECORDS A SUDDEN DEPARTURE, AND MARYANN'S OPINION THEREON.

There is a fallacy into which men and women of mature years are apt to
fall--namely, that the cares and sorrows of the young are light.

How many fathers and mothers there are who reason thus--"Oh, the child
will grow out of this folly.  'Tis a mere whim--a youthful fancy, not
worthy of respect,"--forgetting or shutting their eyes to the fact,
that, light though the whim or fancy may be in their eyes, it has
positive weight to those who cherish it, and the thwarting of it is as
destructive of peace and joy to the young as the heavier disappointments
of life are to themselves.

True, the cares and sorrows of the young are light in the sense that
they are not usually permanent.  Time generally blows them away, while
the cares of later years often remain with us to the end.  But they are
not the less real, heavy, and momentous at the time on that account.

Those troubles cannot with propriety be called light which drive so many
young men and women to rebellion and to destruction.  Well would it have
been for Mr Osten if he had treated his son like a rational being,
instead of calling him a "young fool," and commanding him to "obey."

Will, however, was not an untractable young lion.  He went through
school and entered college, despite his unconquerable desire to go to
sea, in obedience to his father's wishes.  Then he resolved to study
medicine.  Mr Osten regarded the time thus spent as lost, inasmuch as
his son might have been better employed in learning "the business" to
which he was destined; still he had no great objection to his son taking
the degree of MD, so he offered no opposition; but when Will, at the age
of eighteen, spoke to him of his intention to take a run to the north or
south seas, as surgeon in a whaler, he broke out on him.

"So, it seems that your ridiculous old fancy still sticks to you," said
Mr Osten, in great wrath, for the recurrence of the subject was like
the lacerating of an old sore.

"Yes, father; it has never left me.  If you will listen for a few
moments to my reasons--"

"No, boy," interrupted his father, "I will _not_ listen to your reasons.
I have heard them often enough--too often--and they are foolish, false,
utterly inconclusive.  You may go to Jericho as far as I am concerned;
but if you do go, you shall never darken my doors again."

"When I was a boy, father," said Will earnestly, "your speaking sharply
to me was natural, for I was foolish, and acted on impulse.  I am
thankful now that I did not give way to rebellion, as I was tempted to
do; but I am not now a boy, father.  If you will talk calmly with me--"

"Calmly!" interrupted Mr Osten, growing still more angry at the quiet
demeanour of his son; "do you mean to insinuate that--that--.  What do
you mean, sir?"

"I insinuate nothing, father; I mean that I wish you to hear me
patiently."

"I _won't_ hear you," cried Mr Osten, rising from his chair, "I've
heard you till I'm tired of it.  Go if you choose, if you dare.  You
know the result."

Saying this he left the room hastily, shutting the door behind him with
a bang.

A grave, stern expression settled on the youth's countenance as he arose
and followed him into the passage.  Meeting his mother there, he seized
her suddenly in his arms and held her in a long embrace; then, without
explaining the cause of his strong emotion, he ran down stairs and left
his father's house.

In a dirty narrow street, near the harbour of the town, there stood a
small public-house which was frequented chiefly by the sailors who
chanced to be in the port, and by the squalid population in its
immediate neighbourhood.  Although small, the Red Lion Inn was superior
in many respects to its surroundings.  It was larger than the decayed
buildings that propped it; cleaner than the locality that owned it;
brighter and warmer than the homes of the lean crew on whom it fattened.
It was a pretty, light, cheery, snug place of temptation, where men and
women, and even children assembled at nights to waste their hard-earned
cash and ruin their health.  It was a place where the devil reigned, and
where the work of murdering souls was carried on continually,--
nevertheless it was a "jolly" place.  Many good songs were sung there,
as well as bad ones; and many a rough grasp of hearty friendship was
exchanged.  Few people, going into the house for a few minutes, could
have brought themselves to believe that it was such a _very_ broad part
of the road leading to destruction: but the landlord had some hazy
notion on that point.  He sat there day and night, and saw the
destruction going on.  He saw the blear-eyed, fuddled men that came to
drown conscience in his stalls, and the slatternly women who came and
went.  Nevertheless he was a rosy, jocund fellow who appeared to have a
good deal of the milk of human kindness about him, and would have looked
on you with great surprise, if not scorn, had you told him that he had a
hand in murdering souls.  Yes! the Red Lion might have been
appropriately styled the Roaring Lion, for it drove a roaring trade
among the poor in that dirty little street near the harbour.

The gas was flaring with attractive brilliancy in the Red Lion when Will
Osten entered it, and asked if Captain Dall was within.

"No, sir," answered the landlord; "he won't be here for half-an-hour
yet."

"A pot of beer," said Will, entering one of the stalls, and sitting down
opposite a tall, dark-countenanced man, who sat smoking moodily in a
corner.

It was evident that our hero had not gone there to drink, for the beer
remained untouched at his elbow, as he sat with his face buried in his
hands.

The dark man in the corner eyed him steadily through the smoke which
issued from his lips, but Will paid no attention to him.  He was too
deeply absorbed in his own reflections.

"A fine night, stranger," he said at length, in a slightly nasal tone.

Still Will remained absorbed, and it was not until the remark had been
twice repeated that he looked up with a start.

"I beg pardon; did you speak?" he said.  "Well, yes," drawled the dark
man, puffing a long white cloud from his lips, "I did make an
observation regardin' the weather.  It looks fine, don't it?"

"It does," said Will.

"You're waitin' for Captain Dall, ain't you?"

"Why, how did _you_ come to know that?" said Will.

"I didn't come to know it, I guessed it," said the dark man.

At that moment the door opened, and a short thick-set man, in a glazed
hat and pea-jacket, with huge whiskers meeting under his chin, entered.

His eye at once fell upon the dark man, whom he saluted familiarly--"All
ready, Mr Cupples?"

"All ready, sir," replied the other; "it's now more than half-flood; in
three hours we can drop down the river with the first of the ebb, and if
this breeze holds we'll be in blue water before noon to-morrow."

"Hallo, doctor, is that yourself?" said the captain, whose eye had for
some moments rested on Will.

"It is," said the youth, extending his hand, which the other grasped and
shook warmly.

"What! changed your mind--eh?"

"Yes, I'm going with you."

"The governor bein' agreeable?" inquired the captain.

Will shook his head.

"Hope there ain't bin a flare-up?" said the captain earnestly.

"Not exactly," said Will; "but he is displeased, and will not give his
consent, so I have come away without it."

At this the jovial skipper, who was styled captain by courtesy, sat down
and shook his head gravely, while he removed his hat and wiped the
perspiration from his bald forehead.

"It's a bad business to run agin the wishes of one's parents," he said;
"it seldom turns out well; couldn't you come round him nohow?"

"Impossible.  He won't listen to reason."

"Ah, then, it's of no manner of use," said the captain, with a pitying
sigh, "when a man won't listen to reason, what's the consequence? why
he's unreasonable, which means bein' destitoot of that which raises him
above the brutes that perish.  Such bein' the case, give it up for a bad
job, that's my advice.  Come, I'll have a bottle o' ginger-beer, not
bein' given to strong drink, an' we'll talk over this matter."

Accordingly the beer was ordered, and the three sat there talking for a
couple of hours in reference to a long, long voyage to the southern
seas.

After that they rose, and, leaving the Red Lion, went down to the pier,
where a boat was in waiting.  It conveyed them to a large ship, whose
sails were hanging in the loose condition peculiar to a vessel ready to
set sail.  An hour after that the anchor was raised, and wind and tide
carried the ship gently down to the sea.  There seemed to Will something
very solemn and mysterious in the quiet way in which, during these still
and dark hours of the night, the great ship was slowly moved towards her
ocean cradle.  At length she floated on the sea, and, soon after, the
moon arose on the distant horizon, streaming across the rippling surface
as if to kiss and welcome an old friend.  The wind increased; the ship
became submissive to the breeze, obedient to the helm, and ere long
moved on the waters like "a thing of life," leaving Old England far
behind her.

It was then that young Osten, leaning over the taffrail and looking
wistfully back at the point where he had seen the last glimpse of the
chalk cliffs, began to experience the first feelings of regret.  He
tried to quiet his conscience by recalling the harsh and unjustifiable
conduct of his father, but conscience would not be quieted thus, and
faithful memory reminded him of the many acts of kindness he had
experienced at his father's hands, while she pointed to his gentle
mother, and bade him reflect what a tremendous blow this sudden
departure would be to her.

Starting up and shaking off such thoughts, sternly he went below and
threw himself into his narrow cot, where conscience assailed him still
more powerfully and vividly in dreams.  Thus did Wandering Will leave
his native land.

Commenting on his sudden departure, two days afterwards, Maryann said,
in strict confidence, to her bosom friend "Jemimar," that she "know'd it
would 'appen--or somethink simular, for, even w'en a hinfant, he had
refused to larf at her most smudgin' blandishments; and that she knew
somethink strange would come of it, though she would willingly have
given her last shilling to have prevented it, but nothink was of any use
tryin' of w'en one couldn't do it, as her 'usband, as was in the
mutton-pie line, said to the doctor the night afore he died,--and that
her 'art was quite broken about it, so it was."

Whereupon Jemima finished to the dregs her last cup of tea, and burst
into a flood of tears.



CHAPTER THREE.

TELLS OF THE SEA, AND SOME OF THE MYSTERIES CONNECTED THEREWITH.

For many days and nights the good ship _Foam_ sailed the wide ocean
without encountering anything more than the ordinary vicissitudes and
experiences of sea-life.  Dolphins were seen and captured, sharks were
fished for and caught, stiff breezes and calms succeeded each other,
constellations in the far north began to disappear and new
constellations arose in the southern skies.  In fact, during many weeks
the voyage was prosperous, and young Will Osten began to experience
those peculiar feelings with which all travellers are more or less
acquainted--he felt that the ship was "home"; that his cabin with its
furniture, which had appeared so small and confined at first, was quite
a large and roomy place; that all the things about him were positive
realities, and that the home of his childhood was a shadow of the past--
a sort of dream.

During all this time the young doctor led a busy life.  He was one of
those active, intelligent, inquiring spirits which cannot rest.  To
acquire information was with him not a duty, but a pleasure.  Before he
had been many days at sea he knew the name and use of every rope, sail,
block, tackle, and spar in the ship, and made himself quite a favourite
with the men by the earnestness with which he questioned them in regard
to nautical matters and their own personal experiences.  George Goff,
the sail-maker, said he "was a fust-rate feller;" and Larry O'Hale, the
cook, declared, "he was a trump intirely, an' ought to have been born an
Irishman."  Moreover, the affections of long Mr Cupples (as the first
mate was styled by the men) were quite won by the way in which he
laboured to understand the use of the sextant, and other matters
connected with the mysteries of navigation; and stout Jonathan Dall, the
captain, was overjoyed when he discovered that he was a good player on
the violin, of which instrument he was passionately fond.  In short,
Will Osten became a general favourite on board the _Foam_, and the
regard of all, from the cabin-boy to the captain, deepened into respect
when they found that, although only an advanced student and, "not quite
a doctor," he treated their few ailments with success, and acted his
part with much self-possession, gentleness, and precision.

Larry O'Hale was particularly eloquent in his praises of him ever after
the drawing of a tooth which had been the source of much annoyance to
the worthy cook.  "Why, messmates," he was wont to say, "it bait
everything the way he tuk it out.  `Open yer mouth,' says he, an' sure I
opened it, an' before I cud wink, off wint my head--so I thought--but
faix it wor only my tuth--a real grinder wi' three fangs no less--och!
he's a cliver lad intirely."

But Will did not confine his inquiries to the objects contained within
his wooden home.  The various phases and phenomena of the weather, the
aspects of the sky, and the wonders of the deep, claimed his earnest
attention.  To know the reason of everything was with him a species of
mania, and in pursuit of this knowledge he stuck at nothing.  "Never
venture never win," became with him as favourite a motto as it had been
with his father, and he acted on it more vigorously than his father had
ever done.

One calm evening, as he was leaning over the side of the ship near the
bow, gazing contemplatively down into the unfathomable sea, he overheard
a conversation between the cook and one of the sailors named Muggins.
They were smoking their pipes seated on the heel of the bowsprit.

"Larry," said Muggins, "I think we have got into the doldrums."

"Ye're out there, boy," said Larry, "for I heerd the capting say we wos
past 'em a long way."

The men relapsed into silence for a time.

Then Muggins removed his pipe and said--

"Wot ever caused the doldrums?"

"That's more nor I can tell," said Larry; "all I know about them is,
that it's aisy to git into them, but uncommon hard to git out again.  If
my ould grandmother was here, she'd be able to tell us, I make no doubt,
but she's in Erin, poor thing, 'mong the pigs and the taties."

"Wot could _she_ tell about the doldrums?" said Muggins, with a look of
contempt.

"More nor ye think, boy; sure there isn't nothin' in the univarse but
she can spaik about, just like a book, an' though she niver was in the
doldrums as far as I knows, she's been in the dumps often enough; maybe
it's cousins they are.  Anyhow she's not here, an' so we must be contint
with spekilation."

"What's that you say, Larry?" inquired the captain, who walked towards
the bow at the moment.

The cook explained his difficulty.

"Why, there's no mystery about the doldrums," said Captain Dall.  "I've
read a book by an officer in the United States navy which explains it
all, and the Gulf Stream, and the currents, an' everything.  Come, I'll
spin you a yarn about it."

Saying this, the captain filled and lighted his pipe, and seating
himself on the shank of the anchor, said--

"You know the cause of ocean currents, I dare say?"

"Niver a taste," said Larry.  "It's meself is as innocent about 'em as
the babe unborn; an' as for Muggins there, _he_ don't know more about
'em than my ould shoes--"

"Or your old grandmother," growled Muggins.

"Don't be irriverent, ye spalpeen," said Larry.

"I ax her reverence's pardon, but I didn't know she wos a priest," said
Muggins.--"Go on, Cap'n Dall."

"Well," continued the captain, "you know, at all events, that there's
salt in the sea, and I may tell you that there is lime also, besides
other things.  At the equator, the heat bein' great, water is evaporated
faster than anywhere else, so that there the sea is salter and has more
lime in it than elsewhere.  Besides that it is hotter.  Of course, that
being the case, its weight is different from the waters of the cold
polar seas, so it is bound to move away an' get itself freshened and
cooled.  In like manner, the cold water round the poles feels obliged to
flow to the equator to get itself salted and warmed.  This state of
things, as a natural consequence, causes commotion in the sea.  The
commotion is moreover increased by the millions of shell-fish that dwell
there.  These creatures, not satisfied with their natural skins, must
needs have shells on their backs, and they extract lime from the
sea-water for the purpose of makin' these shells.  This process is
called secretin' the lime; coral insects do the same, and, as many of
the islands of the south seas are made by coral insects, you may guess
that a considerable lot of lime is made away with.  The commotion or
disturbance thus created produces two great currents--from the equator
to the poles and from the poles to the equator.  But there are many
little odds and ends about the world that affect and modify these
currents, such as depth, and local heat and cold, and rivers and
icebergs, but the chief modifiers are continents.  The currents flowin'
north from the Indian Ocean and southern seas rush up between Africa and
America.  The space bein' narrow--comparatively--they form one strong
current, on doublin' the Cape of Good Hope, which flies right across to
the Gulf of Mexico.  Here it is turned aside and flows in a
nor'-easterly direction, across the Atlantic towards England and Norway,
under the name of the Gulf Stream, but the Gulf of Mexico has no more to
do with it than the man in the moon, 'xcept in the way of turnin' it out
of its nat'ral course.  This Gulf Stream is a _river of warm water_
flowing through the cold waters of the Atlantic; it keeps separate, and
wherever it flows the climate is softened.  It embraces Ireland, and
makes the climate there so mild that there is, as you know, scarcely any
frost all the year round--"

"Blissin's on it," broke in Larry, "sure that accounts for the purty
green face of Erin, which bates all other lands in the world.  Good luck
to the Gulf Stream, say I!"

"You're right, Larry, and England, Scotland, and Norway have reason to
bless it too, for the same latitudes with these places in America have a
rigorous winter extendin' over more than half the year.  But what I was
comin' to was this--there are, as you know, eddies and stagnant places
in ornary rivers, where sticks, leaves, and other odds and ends collect
and remain fixed.  So, in this great ocean river, there are eddies where
seaweed collects and stagnates, and where the air above also stagnates
(for the air currents are very much like those of the sea).  These
eddies or stagnant parts are called sargasso seas.  There are several of
them, of various sizes, all over the ocean, but there is one big one in
the Atlantic, which is known by the name of the `Doldrums.'  It has
bothered navigators in all ages.  Columbus got into it on his way to
America, and hundreds of ships have been becalmed for weeks in it since
the days of that great discoverer.  It is not very long since it was
found out that, by keeping well out of their way, and sailing round 'em,
navigators could escape the Doldrums altogether."

The captain paused at this point, and Larry O'Hale took the opportunity
to break in.

"D'ye know, sir," said he, "that same Gulf Strame has rose a lot o'
pecooliar spekilations in my mind, which, if I may make so bowld,
I'll--"

Here the mate's voice interrupted him gruffly with--

"Shake out a reef in that top-gall'n s'l; look alive, lads!"

Larry and his comrades sprang to obey.  When they returned to their
former place in the bow, the captain had left it, so that the cook's
"pecooliar spekilations" were not at that time made known.



CHAPTER FOUR.

A STORM AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.

In course of time the _Foam_, proceeding prosperously on her voyage,
reached the region of Cape Horn--the cape of storms.  Here, in days of
old, Magellan and the early voyagers were fiercely buffeted by winds and
waves.  In later days Cook and others met with the same reception.  In
fact, the Cape is infamous for its inhospitality, nevertheless it shone
with bright smiles when the _Foam_ passed by, and a gentle fair-wind
wafted her into the great Pacific Ocean.  Never, since that eventful day
when the adventurous Castilian, Vasco Nunez de Balboa, discovered this
mighty sea, did the Pacific look more peaceful than it did during the
first week in which the _Foam_ floated on its calm breast.  But the calm
was deceitful.  It resembled the quiet of the tiger while crouching to
make a fatal spring.

Will Osten reclined against the top of the mainmast, to which he had
ascended in order to enjoy, undisturbed, the quiet of a magnificent
evening.

The sun was setting in a world of clouds, which took the form of
mountains fringed with glittering gold and with shadows of pearly grey.

Oh what castles young Osten did build on these mountains, to be sure!
Structures so magnificent that Eastern architects, had they seen them,
would have hung their heads and confessed themselves outdone.  But you
must not imagine, reader, that the magnificence of all of these depended
on their magnitude or richness.  On the contrary, one of them was a mere
cottage--but then, it was a pattern cottage.  It stood in a palm-wood,
on a coral island near the sea-shore, with a stream trickling at its
side, and a lake full of wild fowl behind, and the most gorgeous
tropical plants clustering round its open windows and door, while
inside, seated on a couch, was a beautiful girl of fifteen (whom Will
had often imagined, but had not yet seen), whose auburn hair shone like
gold in the sun, contrasting well with her lovely complexion, and
enhancing the sweetness of a smile which conveyed to the beholder only
one idea--love.  Many other castles were built in the clouds at that
time by Will, but the cottage made the most lasting impression on his
mind.

"Sleepin'?" inquired Cupples, the mate, thrusting his head through that
orifice in the main-top which is technically called the "lubber's hole."

"No, meditating," answered Will; "I've been thinking of the coral
islands."

"Humph," ejaculated the mate contemptuously, for Cupples, although a
kind-hearted man, was somewhat cynical and had not a particle of
sentiment in his soul.  Indeed he showed so little of this that Larry
was wont to say he "didn't belave he had a sowl at all, but was only a
koorious specimen of an animated body."

"It's my opinion, doctor, that you'd as well come down, for it's goin'
to blow hard."

Will looked in the direction in which the mate pointed, and saw a bank
of black clouds rising on the horizon.  At the same moment the captain's
voice was heard below shouting--"Stand by there to reef topsails!"  This
was followed by the command to close-reef.  Then, as the squall drew
rapidly nearer, a hurried order was giving to take in all sail.  The
squall was evidently a worse one than had at first been expected.

On it came, hissing and curling up the sea before it.

"Mind your helm!--port a little, port!"

"Port it is, sir," answered the man at the wheel, in the deep quiet
voice of a well-disciplined sailor, whose only concern is to do his
duty.

"Steady!" cried the captain.

The words had barely left his lips, and the men who had been furling the
sails had just gained the deck, when the squall struck them, and the
_Foam_ was laid on her beam-ends, hurling all her crew into the
scuppers.  At the same time terrible darkness overspread the sky like a
pall.  When the men regained their footing, some of them stood
bewildered, not knowing what to do; others, whose presence of mind never
deserted them, sprang to where the axes were kept, in order to be ready
to cut away the masts if necessary.  But the order was not given.

Captain Dall and Will, who had been standing near the binnacle, seized
and clung to the wheel.

"She will right herself," said the former, as he observed that the masts
rose a little out of the sea.

Fortunately the good ship did so, and then, although there was scarcely
a rag of canvas upon her, she sprang away before the hurricane like a
sea-gull.

Terrible indeed is the situation of those who are compelled to "scud
under bare poles," when He who formed the great deep, puts forth His
mighty power, causing them to "stagger and be at their wits' end."  For
hours the _Foam_ rushed wildly over the sea, now rising like a cork on
the crest of the billows, anon sinking like lead into the valleys
between.  She was exposed to double danger; that of being cast upon one
of the numerous coral reefs with which the Pacific in some parts
abounds, or being "pooped" and overwhelmed by the seas which followed
her.

During this anxious period little was said or done except in reference
to the working of the ship.  Men snatched sleep and food at intervals as
they best might.  At length, after two days, the gale began to abate,
and the sea to go down.

"It was sharp while it lasted, captain, but it seems to have done us
little harm," said Will Osten, on the evening of the second day.

"True," said the captain heartily; "we'll soon repair damages and make
all snug.--Is there much water in the hold, Mr Cupples?"

The mate answered gloomily that there was a good deal.

It must not be supposed that Mr Cupples' gloominess arose from anxiety.
Not at all.  It was simply his nature to be gloomy.  If it had been his
duty to have proclaimed the approach of his own marriage, he would have
done it as sadly as if it had been the announcement of his death.  His
thoughts were gloomy, and his tones were appropriate thereto.  Even his
jokes were grave, and his countenance was lugubrious.

"It is gaining on us, sir," added Mr Cupples.

"Then get all the spare hands to work with buckets immediately," said
the captain, "and send the carpenter here; we must have the leak
discovered."

"Yes, sir," sighed Mr Cupples, as if he had given way to despair;
nevertheless, he went off actively to obey the order.

"A strange man that," said the captain, turning to Will; "he is a
capital seaman, and a kind-hearted, honest fellow, yet he is melancholy
enough to throw a man into the blues."

"He and I get on famously notwithstanding," said Will, with a laugh.
"See, he is running aft--with bad news I fear, for his face is longer if
possible than--"

"Leak's increasing, sir," said the mate hurriedly; "we must have started
a plank."

This seemed to be too true.  All hands were now plying pumps and buckets
vigorously, and every effort was being made to discover the leak, but in
vain.  Hour by hour, inch by inch, the water gained on them, and it soon
became apparent that the ship must sink.

It is difficult for those who have never been at sea to realise the
feelings of men who are thus suddenly awakened to the awful fact that
the vessel which has been their home for many weeks or months can no
longer be counted on, and that, in a few hours, they shall be left in
open boats, far from land, at the mercy of the wide and stormy sea.  So
terrible was the thought to those on board the _Foam_, that every man,
from the captain to the cabin-boy, toiled for hours at the pumps in
silent desperation.  At last, when it was found that the water gained on
them rapidly, and that there was no hope of saving the ship, the captain
quietly left off working and put on his coat.

"Avast pumping, my lads," said he, in a grave, earnest tone; the good
ship is doomed, and now it behoves us to bow to the will of the Lord,
and do the best we can to save our lives.  Stand by to hoist out the
boats.  Get up bread and water, steward, and stow in them as much as you
can with safety.  Mr Cupples, see my orders carried out, and have the
provisions properly divided among the boats.  I want you, doctor, to
come below, and help me to get up a few things that will be of use to
us.

The prompt energy of the captain infused confidence into the men, who
soon executed the orders given them.  Ere long the boats were ready to
be launched over the side, but this was a matter of the greatest
difficulty and danger, for the sea was still running high, and the ship
rolled heavily.

And now the great evil of not being provided with proper tackling to
launch the boats became apparent.  One of the quarter-boats was the
first to be lowered; it was full of men.  The order was given to lower,
and it dropped on the water all right.  Then the order to unhook the
tackle was given.  The man at the stern tackle succeeded in unhooking,
but the man at the bow failed.  The result was fatal and instantaneous.
When the ship rose on the next wave, the boat was lifted by the bow out
of the water until she hung from the davits, and a terrible cry was
uttered as all the men were thrown out of her into the sea.  Next moment
the boat was plunged into the waves, the tackle snapt, and she was swept
away.

"Lower away the long-boat!" shouted the captain.

This was eagerly and quickly done, and the mate with a number of men
leaped into it.  The lowering was successfully accomplished, but when
they pulled to the spot where the quarter-boat had gone down, not one of
those who had manned her could be found.  All had perished.

The remaining four boats were lowered in safety, and all of them pulled
away from the sinking ship, for latterly she had been settling down so
deep that it was feared every pitch would be her last, and had she sunk
while the boats were alongside, their destruction would have been
inevitable.  They were rowed, therefore, to a safe distance, and there
awaited the end.

There was something inexpressibly sad in this.  It seemed like standing
at the death-bed of an old friend.  The sea was still heaving violently;
the gale, although moderated, was still pretty stiff, and the sun was
setting in wild lurid clouds when the _Foam_ rose for the last time--
every spar and rope standing out sharply against the sky.  Then she bent
forward slowly, as she overtopped a huge billow.  Into the hollow she
rushed.  Like an expert diver she went down head foremost into the deep,
and, next moment, those who had so lately trod her deck saw nothing
around them save the lowering sky and the angry waters of the Pacific
Ocean.



CHAPTER FIVE.

ADRIFT ON THE WIDE OCEAN.

For some time after the disappearance of the ship, the men in the boats
continued to gaze, in a species of unbelief, at the place where she had
gone down.  They evidently felt it difficult to realise the truth of
what they had seen.  The suddenness of the change and the extreme danger
of their position might have shaken the stoutest hearts, for the sea
still ran high and none of the boats were fitted to live in rough
weather.  They were, as far as could be judged, many hundreds of miles
from land, and, to add to the horror of their circumstances, night was
coming on.

"My lads," said Captain Dall, sitting down in the stern of his boat, and
grasping the tiller, "it has pleased the Almighty to sink our ship and
to spare our lives.  Let us be thankful that we didn't go to the bottom
along with her.  To the best of my knowledge we're a long way from land,
and all of us will have to take in a reef in our appetites for some time
to come.  I have taken care to have a good supply of salt junk, biscuit,
water, and lime-juice put aboard, so that if the weather don't turn out
uncommon bad, we may manage, with God's blessing, to make the land.  In
circumstances of this kind, men's endurance is sometimes tried pretty
sharply, and men in distress are occasionally driven to forgetting their
duty to their comrades.  I tell you beforehand, lads, that I will do all
that in me lies to steer you to the nearest port, and to make your lot
as comfortable as may be in an open boat; but if any of you should take
a fancy to having his own way, I've brought with me a little leaden
pill-box (here the captain drew aside the breast of his coat and exposed
the handle of a revolver) which will tend to keep up discipline and
prevent discord.  Now, lads, ship your oars and hoist the foresail
close-reefed, and look alive, for it seems to me that we'll have a
squally night."

The effect of this speech was very striking.  There is nothing that men
dislike so much, in critical circumstances, where action is necessary,
as uncertainty or want of decision on the part of their leader.  The
loss of their ship, and their forlorn, almost desperate condition, had
sunk their spirits so much that an air of apathetic recklessness had,
for a few minutes, crossed the countenances of some of the boldest among
the sailors; but while the captain was speaking this expression passed
away, and when he had finished they all gave one hearty cheer, and
obeyed his orders with alacrity.

In a few minutes the sails, closely reefed, were hoisted, and the
long-boat rushed swiftly over the waves.  At first the four boats kept
company--the other three having also made sail--but as darkness set in
they lost sight of each other.  The first mate had charge of the
jolly-boat, and the second mate and carpenter had the two others.  In
the captain's boat were Will Osten, Larry O'Hale, Goff, Muggins, and
several of the best seamen.

Soon after the sails were set, a heavy sea broke inboard and nearly
filled the boat.

"Bail her out, lads," shouted the captain.

There was no occasion for the order, the men knew their danger well
enough, and every one seized anything that came to hand and began to
bail for life.  There was only one bucket on board, and this was
appropriated by the cook, who, being one of the strongest men in the
boat, thought himself entitled to the post of honour, and, truly, the
way in which Larry handled that bucket and showered the water over the
side justified his opinion of himself.

"We must rig up something to prevent that happening again," said Captain
Dall; "set to work, Goff, and cut a slice out of the tarpaulin, and nail
it over the bows."

This was done without delay, and in less than an hour a sort of
half-deck was made, which turned off the spray and rendered the task of
bailing much lighter--a matter of considerable importance, for, in such
a sea, there was no possibility of an open boat remaining afloat without
constant bailing.

At first the men talked a good deal in comparatively cheerful tones
while they worked, and the irrepressible Larry O'Hale even ventured to
cut one or two jokes; but when night began to cover the deep with thick
darkness, one after another dropped out of the conversation, and at last
all were perfectly silent, except when it became necessary to give an
order or answer a question, and nothing was heard save the whistling of
the wind and the gurgling of the waves as they rushed past, their white
crests curling over the edge of the boat as if greedy to swallow her,
and gleaming like lambent fire all around.

"This is a terrible situation," said Will Osten, in a low tone, with an
involuntary shudder.  "Do you think there is much chance of our
surviving, captain?"

"That's not an easy question to answer, doctor," replied Captain Dall,
in a tone so hearty that our hero was much cheered by it.  "You see,
there is much in our favour as well as much against us.  In the first
place, this is the Pacific, and according to its name we have a right to
expect more fine weather than bad, especially at this time of the year.
Then we have the trade winds to help us, and our boat is a good one,
with at least two weeks' provisions aboard.  But then, on the other
hand, we're a terrible long way off land, and we must count upon a gale
now and then, which an open boat, however good, is not calc'lated to
weather easily.  See that now," added the captain, looking back over the
stern, where, from out of the darkness, Osten could just see a huge
wave, like a black mountain with a snowy top, rolling towards them.  "If
we were only a little more down in the stern, that fellow would drop on
board of us and send us to the bottom in half a minute."

Will felt that, although the captain's tones were reassuring, his words
were startling.  He was ill at ease, and clutched the seat when the
billow rolled under them, raising the stern of the boat so high that it
seemed as if about to be thrown completely over, but the wave passed on,
and they fell back into the trough of the sea.

"Musha! but that was a wathery mountain no less," exclaimed Larry.

"You've heard of Captain Bligh, Larry, I suppose?" said the captain, in
a loud voice, with the intention of letting the men hear his remarks.

"May be I have," replied Larry with caution, "but if so I misremimber."

"He was the captain of the _Bounty_, whose crew mutinied and turned him
adrift in an open boat in the middle of the Pacific.  What I was goin'
to tell ye was, that his circumstances were a trifle worse than ours,
for he was full four thousand miles from the nearest land, and with
short allowance of provisions on board."

"An' did he make out the voyage, sur?" asked Larry.

"He did, and did it nobly too, in the face of great trouble and danger,
but it's too long a yarn to spin just now; some day when the weather's
fine I'll spin it to 'ee.  He weathered some heavy gales, too, and what
one man has done another man may do; so we've no reason to get
down-hearted, for we're nearer land than he was, and better off in every
way.  I wish I could say as much for the other boats."

The captain's voice dropped a little in spite of himself as he
concluded, for, despite the strength and buoyancy of his spirit, he
could not help feeling deep anxiety as to the fate of his companions in
misfortune.

Thus, talking at intervals in hopeful tones, and relapsing into long
periods of silence, they spent that stormy night without refreshment and
without rest.  The minutes seemed to float on leaden wings, and the
weary watchers experienced in its highest degree that dreary feeling--so
common in the sick room--that "morning would _never_ come."

But morning came at length--a faint glimmer on the eastern horizon.  It
was hailed by Larry with a deep sigh, and the earnest exclamation--

"Ah, then, there's the blessed sun at last, good luck to it!"

Gradually the glimmer increased into grey dawn, then a warm tint
brightened up the sky, and golden clouds appeared.  At last the glorious
sun arose in all its splendour, sending rays of warmth to the exhausted
frames of the seamen and hope to their hearts.  They much needed both,
for want of sleep, anxiety, and cold, had already stamped a haggard look
of suffering on their faces.  As the morning advanced, however, this
passed away, and by degrees they began to cheer up and bestir
themselves,--spreading out their clothes to dry, and scanning the
horizon at intervals in search of the other boats.

About eight o'clock, as nearly as he could guess, the captain said--

"Now, lads, let's have breakfast; get out the bread-can.  Come, Larry,
look alive!  You've no cooking to do this morning, but I doubt not that
your teeth are as sharp and your twist as strong as ever."

"Stronger than iver, sur, av ye plaze."

"I'm sorry to hear it, for you'll have to go on short allowance, I
fear."

"Ochone!" groaned the cook.

"Never mind, Larry," said Will Osten, assisting to spread the
sea-biscuit and salt junk on one of the thwarts; "there's a good time
coming."

"Sure, so's Christmas, doctor, but it's a long way off," said Larry.

"Fetch me the scales; now then, doctor, hold 'em," said the captain,
carefully weighing out a portion of biscuit and meat which he handed to
one of the men.  This process was continued until all had been supplied,
after which a small quantity of water and lime-juice was also measured
out to each.

The breakfast was meagre, but it was much needed, and as the sea had
gone down during the night and the morning was beautiful, it was eaten
not only in comfort, but with some degree of cheerfulness.  While they
were thus engaged, Goff looked up and exclaimed suddenly, "Hallo! look
here, boys!"

Every one started up and gazed in the direction indicated, where they
saw something black floating on the water.  The captain, who had taken
the precaution before leaving the ship to sling his telescope over his
shoulder, applied it to his eye, and in a few seconds exclaimed, "It's
the jolly-boat capsized!  Out with the oars, boys--be smart!  There's
some of 'em clinging to the keel."

It need scarcely be said that the men seized the oars and plied them
with all their might.  Under the influence of these and the sail
together they soon drew near, and then it was distinctly seen that three
men were clinging to the boat--it followed, of course, that all the rest
must have been drowned.  Silently and swiftly they pulled alongside, and
in a few minutes had rescued Mr Cupples and the steward and one of the
sailors, all of whom were so much exhausted that they could not speak
for some time after being taken on board.  When they could tell what had
happened, their tale was brief and sad.  They had kept in sight of the
long-boat while light enabled them to do so.  After that they had run
before the gale, until a heavy sea capsized them, from which time they
could remember nothing, except that they had managed to get on the
bottom of the upturned boat, to which they had clung for many hours in a
state of partial insensibility.



CHAPTER SIX.

DESCRIBES A BOAT VOYAGE, AND TOUCHES ON CORAL ISLANDS.

The gale moderated to a fresh breeze, and all that day the long-boat of
the ill-fated _Foam_ flew over the sea towards the west.

"You see," said Captain Dall, in answer to a question put to him by Will
Osten, "I don't know exactly whereabouts we are, because there was a
longish spell of dirty weather afore the _Foam_ went down, and I hadn't
got a sight o' the sun for more than a week; but it's my belief that we
are nearer to some of the coral islands than to the coast of South
America, though how near I cannot tell.  Five hundred miles, more or
less, perhaps."

"A mere trifle, sure!" said Larry, filling his pipe carefully--for his
was the only pipe that had been rescued from the sinking ship, and the
supply of tobacco was very small.  Small as it was, however, the captain
had taken the precaution to collect it all together, causing every man
to empty his pockets of every inch that he possessed, and doled it out
in small equal quantities.  The pipe, however, could not be treated
thus, so it had to be passed round--each man possessing it in turn for a
stated number of minutes, when, if he had not consumed his portion, he
was obliged to empty the pipe and give it up.

"It's my turn, Larry," cried Muggins, holding out his hand for the
coveted implement of fumigation.

"No, ye spalpeen, it's not," said Larry, continuing to press down the
precious weed, "owld Bob had it last, an' ivery wan knows that I come
after him."

"It's the first time I ever heard ye admit that you comed after
anybody," answered Muggins with a grin; "ye ginerally go before us all--
at least ye want to."

"Not at all," retorted the cook; "whin there's dirty work to be done, I
most usually kape modestly in the background, an' lets you go first,
bekase it's your nat'ral callin'.  Arrah! the sun's goin' to set, boys,"
he added with a sigh, as he commenced to smoke.

This was true, and the knowledge that another long night of darkness was
about to set in depressed the spirits which had begun to revive a
little.  Silence gradually ensued as they sat watching the waves or
gazing wistfully towards the gorgeous mass of clouds in which the sun
was setting.  For a considerable time they sat thus, when suddenly Will
Osten started up, and, pointing towards the horizon a little to the left
of the sun, exclaimed--

"Look there, captain; what's that?"

"Land ho!" shouted Larry O'Hale at that moment, springing up on the
thwart and holding on to the foremast.

All the rest leaped up in great excitement.

"It's only a cloud," said one.

"It's a fog-bank," cried another.

"I never seed a fog-bank with an edge like that," observed old Bob, "an'
I've sailed the salt sea long enough to know."

"Land it is, thank God," said the captain earnestly, shutting up his
telescope.  "Get out the oars again, lads!  We can't make it before
dark, but the sooner we get there the better, for landing on these coral
islands isn't always an easy job."

The oars were got out at once, and the men pulled with a will, but it
was late at night before they drew near to the land and heard the roar
of the surf on the coral reef that stood as a sentinel to guard the
island.

"Captain," said Will Osten, "the wind has almost died away, yet it seems
to me that the surf roars as violently as if a storm were raging."

"That surf never goes down in those seas, doctor.  Even in calm weather
the swell of the big ocean gathers into a huge billow and bursts in foam
upon the coral islands."

"Surely, then," said Will, "it must make landing both difficult and
dangerous."

"It is, sometimes, but not always," replied the captain; "for a channel
of safety has been provided, as you shall see, before long.  Take the
boat-hook, Goff, and look out in the bows."

The man rose and stood up with the boat-hook ready to "fend off" if
necessary.

A word or two here about the coral islands--those wonderful productions
of the coral insect--may perhaps render the position of the boat and her
subsequent proceedings more intelligible.

They are of all sizes and shapes.  Some are small and low, like emeralds
just rising out of the ocean, with a few cocoa-nut palms waving their
tufted heads above the sandy soil.  Others are many miles in extent,
covered with large forest trees and rich vegetation.  Some are
inhabited, others are the abode only of sea-fowl.  In many of them the
natives are naked savages of the most depraved character.  In a few,
where the blessed gospel of Jesus Christ has been planted, the natives
are to be seen, "clothed and in their right minds."  Wherever the gospel
has taken root, commerce has naturally sprung up, and the evils that
invariably follow in her train have in too many cases been attributed to
Christianity.  Poor indeed must be that man's knowledge of the influence
of Christianity, who would judge of its quality or value by the fruit of
its _professors_.  "By their fruits ye shall know _them_,"
truly--_them_, but not Christianity.  The world is an hospital, and life
the period of convalescence.  Christianity is the one grand and
all-sufficient medicine.  Shall we, the afflicted and jaundiced
patients, still suffering from the virulence and effect of sin, condemn
the medicine because it does not turn us out cured in a single day?
Still, even to fruits we can appeal, mingled and confounded with
crab-apples though they be.

Come, sceptic, make a trial of it.  Go to the Fiji Islands; get yourself
wrecked among them.  Be cast into the stormy deep; buffet the waves
manfully, and succeed in struggling exhausted to the shore.  The savages
there, if not Christianised, will haul you out of the sea, roast you,
and eat you!  They do this in compliance with a humane little law which
maintains that all who are shipwrecked, and cast on shore, are thus to
be disposed of.  Ha! you need not smile.  The record of this fact may be
read, in unquestionable authorities, in every public library in the
kingdom.  Search and see.

On the other hand, go and get cast on one of the Fiji group where
Christianity holds sway, and there, despite the errors, inconsistencies,
and sins of its professors and enemies, the same natives will haul you
out of the sea, receive you into their houses, feed and clothe you, and
send you on your way rejoicing.

There is one peculiarity which applies to most of the coral islands--
each is partially surrounded by a coral reef which lies at a distance
from the shore varying from less than one to two miles.  Outside of this
reef the sea may heave tumultuously, but the lagoon within remains calm.
The great breakers may thunder on the reef, and even send their spray
over, for it is little above the level of the sea, and nowhere much more
than a few yards in breadth, but inside all is peaceful and motionless.
In this reef there are several openings, by which a ship of the largest
size may enter and find a safe, commodious harbour.  It is found that
these openings occur usually opposite to any part of the islands where a
stream flows into the sea; and the openings have frequently a little
herbage, sometimes a few cocoa-nut palms growing on either side, which
form a good natural land-mark to the navigator.

Towards one of these openings the long-boat of the _Foam_ was rowed with
all speed.  The night was dark, but there was light sufficient to enable
them to see their way.  As they drew near they came within the influence
of the enormous breakers, which rose like long gigantic snakes and
rolled in the form of perpendicular walls to the reef, where they fell
with a thunderous roar in a flood of milky foam.

Here it was necessary to exercise the utmost caution in steering, for if
the boat had turned broadside on to one of these monstrous waves, it
would have been rolled over and over like a cask.

"Pull gently, lads," said the captain, as they began to get within the
influence of the breakers.  "I don't quite see my way yet.  When I give
the word, pull with a will till I tell ye to hold on.  Your lives depend
on it."

This caution was necessary, for when a boat is fairly within the grasp
of what we may term a shore-going wave, the only chance of safety lies
in going quite as fast as it, if not faster.  Presently the captain gave
the word; the men bent to their oars and away they rushed on the crest
of a billow, which launched them through the opening in the reef in the
midst of a turmoil of seething foam.  Next moment they were rowing
quietly over the calm lagoon, and approaching what appeared to be a
low-lying island covered with cocoa-nut trees; but the light rendered it
difficult to distinguish objects clearly.  A few minutes later the
boat's keel grated on the sand, and the whole party leaped on shore.

The first impulse of some of the men was to cheer, but the feelings of
others were too deep for expression in this way.

"Thanks be to God!" murmured Captain Dall as he landed.

"Amen!" said Will Osten earnestly.

Some of the men shook hands, and congratulated each other on their
escape from what all had expected would prove to be a terrible death.

As for Larry O'Hale, he fell on his knees, and, with characteristic
enthusiasm, kissed the ground.

"My best blissin's on ye," said he with emotion.  "Och, whither ye be a
coral island or a granite wan no matter; good luck to the insict that
made ye, is the prayer of Larry O'Hale!"



CHAPTER SEVEN.

HOPES, FEARS, AND PROSPECTS ON THE CORAL ISLAND.

Few conditions of life are more difficult to bear than that which is
described in the proverb, "Hope deferred maketh the heart sick."  Day
after day, week after week passed by, and every morning the unfortunate
men who had been cast on the coral island rose with revived hope to
spend the day in anxiety, and to lie down in disappointment.

The island proved to be a low one, not more than four miles in length by
about half a mile in breadth, on which nothing grew except a few
cocoa-nut palms.  These afforded the wrecked crew a scanty supply of
food, which, with the provisions they had brought, enabled them to live,
but the prospect of a residence on such a spot was so hopeless, that
they would have left it immediately had not an accident happened which
deprived them of their boat.

A few mornings after landing, several of the men rose early, and,
without obtaining the captain's permission, went to fish in the lagoon,
intending to surprise their comrades by bringing a supply of fresh fish.
They were unsuccessful, but, supposing that their chance would be
better in the open sea, they rowed through the opening in the reef.
They had, however, miscalculated the size and power of the breakers that
continually thundered there.  The boat was heavy and unmanageable except
by a strong crew.  She turned broadside to the breakers, and, in a few
seconds, was hurled upon the reef and dashed to pieces.  The men were
saved almost by a miracle.  They succeeded in landing on the reef, and
afterwards, with the aid of broken pieces of the wreck, swam across the
lagoon to the island.

The loss was irreparable, so that they had now no hope left except in
the passing of a ship or a native canoe.  This latter contingency they
were led to hope for by the discovery, one very clear morning, of what
appeared to be the mountain tops of a cluster of islands, barely visible
on the horizon.  But as day after day passed without the appearance of a
canoe, they came to the conclusion that these islands were not
inhabited.  As weeks passed by and no sail appeared, their hearts began
to fail them, for the small stock of provisions was rapidly diminishing.

One morning Captain Dall ascended to the highest point on the island,
where he was wont to spend the greater part of each day on the lookout.
He found Will Osten there before him.

"Good-morning doctor," said the captain, with a dash of the old hearty
spirit in his voice, for he was not easily depressed; "anything in
sight?"

"Nothing," replied Will, with a degree of energy in his tone that caused
the captain to look at him in surprise.

"Hallo, doctor, have you made a discovery, or have you made up your mind
to swim off the island, that you speak and look so resolute this
morning?"

"Yes, I have made a discovery.  I have discovered that the provisions
will not last us another week; that our vigour is not what it used to
be; that a sort of apathy is stealing over us all; that the sands of
life, in short, are running out while we are sitting idle here making no
effort to help ourselves."

"What can we do, lad?" said the captain sadly, supposing that the youth
was merely giving vent to a spirit of desperation.

"I'll tell you what we can do," said Will, rising; "we can cut down most
of the trees and make a huge pile of them, which, with the broken pieces
of the long-boat to kindle them, will create a blaze that will attract
the attention of the people who live on yonder island--if there be any.
I know the character of South Sea islanders, but it is better to live in
captivity or die by the hand of savages than to perish of hunger and
thirst.  Come, Captain Dall, we _must_ stir the men up to make a last
effort.  Rather than die here, I will make a raft and hoist a sail on
it, and commit myself to the winds and waves.  What say you?  Shall we
try?"

"There is something in what you say, doctor," replied the captain,
pondering the subject; "at all events, no harm can come of making the
attempt.  I'll go speak to the men."

In pursuance of this intention he left the place of outlook accompanied
by Will, and the result of their consultation with the men was, that in
a few minutes Larry O'Hale and Mr Cupples set to work with all the
energy in their natures to fell trees with the two axes they possessed.
When they were exhausted, Will Osten and Goff relieved them, and then
the captain and old Bob took the axes.  Thus the work went on all day,
and in the evening a pile of logs was raised almost as large as a
medium-sized cottage.

There was something hopeful in the mere act of working with a view to
deliverance that raised the spirits of the men, and when the sun began
to sink towards the western horizon, they sat down to their slight meal
of biscuit and cocoa-nut milk with more appetite and relish than they
had experienced for many days.

"I've bin thinkin'," said Larry, pausing in the midst of his supper.

"Well, wot have 'ee bin thinkin', lad?" said Muggins, wiping his mouth
with the sleeve of his coat and wishing for more food--but wishing in
vain, for he had finished his allowance--"you're a good deal given to
thinkin', but there's not much ever comes on it, 'xcept wind in the
shape o' words."

"And what's words," retorted the cook, in supreme contempt, "but the
expression o' sintiment, widout which there wouldn't have bin nuthin'
wotsomediver in the univarse?  Sintiment is the mother of all things, as
owld Father O'Dowd used to say to my grandmother whin he wanted to come
the blarney over her.  It was a philosopher sintimentilisin' over a
tay-kittle, I'm towld, as caused the diskivery o' the steam-ingine; it
was a sintimintal love o' country as indooced Saint Patrick to banish
the varmin from Ireland, an' it was religious sintiment as made Noah for
to build the Ark, but for which nother you nor me would have bin born to
git cast upon a coral island.  Sintiment is iverything, Muggins, and of
that same there isn't more in your whole body than I cud shove into the
small end of a baccy-pipe.  But to return to the pint: I've bin thinkin'
as to whether it would be best to set a light to this here little pile
in the daylight or in the dark, bekase, in the wan case it's the smoke
that would call attintion, an' in the other case it's the flame."

"That is true, Larry," said the captain; "I'm inclined to think it would
be better seen at night, fire being more powerful than smoke."

"But they're more likely to be asleep at night, and to miss seein' it,"
observed Cupples, in a hollow tone.

It may be remarked in passing, that the mate's voice had become much
more sepulchral and his aspect more cadaverous since his arrival on the
island.

"True for ye," chimed in Larry; "an' who knows, if they did see it, but
they might take it for the moon in a fog--or for a volkainy?"

"Wouldn't the best way to settle the matter be to kindle the fire just
now, before it grows dark," suggested Will Osten, "so that they will
have a chance of seeing the smoke, and then, when it grows dark, the
fire will be getting brighter?"

"Right, doctor, you're right.  Come, we'll put the light to it at once,"
cried the captain, rising.  "Hand me the match-box, Mr Cupples; it's in
the head o' the bread cask."

The whole party rose and went to the pile of timber, which was on the
highest part of the islet and towered to a height of nearly twelve feet.
Captain Dall applied a match to the tarry pieces of the long-boat,
which had been placed at the foundation, and the flames at once leaped
up and began to lick greedily round the timber, winding through the
interstices and withering up the leaves.  Soon a thick smoke began to
ascend, for much of the timber in the pile was green, and before the sun
had set a dense black cloud was rising straight up like a pillar and
spreading out into the sky.  As the fire gathered strength, a great
tongue of flame flashed up ever and anon into the midst of the rolling
cloud and rent it for a single instant; by degrees those tongues waged
fierce war with the smoke.  They shot through it more and more
frequently, licked and twined round it--in and out--until they gained
the mastery at last, and rose with a magnificent roar into the heavens.
Then it was that Larry O'Hale gave vent to his excitement and admiration
in an irrepressible shout, and his comrades burst into a mingled cheer
and fit of laughter, as they moved actively round the blazing mass and
stirred it into fiercer heat with boat-hooks and oars.

When night had closed in, the brilliancy of the bonfire was intense, and
the hopes of the party rose with the flames, for they felt certain that
any human beings who chanced to be within fifty miles of them could not
fail to see the signal of distress.

So the greater part of the night was passed in wild excitement and
energetic action.  At last, exhausted yet hopeful, they left the bonfire
to burn itself out and sat down to watch.  During the first half-hour
they gazed earnestly over the sea, and so powerfully had their hopes
been raised, that they expected to see a ship or a boat approaching
every minute.  But ere long their hopes sank as quickly as they had been
raised.  They ceased to move about and talk of the prospect of speedy
deliverance.  The hearts of men who have been long exposed to the
depressing influence of "hope deferred," and whose frames are somewhat
weakened by suffering and insufficient food, are easily chilled.  One
after another they silently crept under the sail, which had been spread
out in the form of a tent to shelter them, and with a sigh lay down to
rest.  Weariness and exposure soon closed their eyes in "kind Nature's
sweet restorer--balmy sleep," and the coral island vanished utterly from
their minds as they dreamed of home, and friends, and other days.  So,
starving men dream of sumptuous fare, and captives dream of freedom.

Will Osten was last to give way to the feeling of disappointment, and
last to lie down under the folds of the rude tent.  He was young, and
strong, and sanguine.  It was hard for one in whose veins the hot blood
careered so vigorously to believe in the possibility of a few days
reducing him to the weakness of infancy--harder still for him to realise
the approach of death; yet, when he lay meditating there in the silence
of the calm night, a chill crept over his frame, for his judgment told
him that if a merciful God did not send deliverance, "the end" was
assuredly drawing very nigh.



CHAPTER EIGHT.

IN WHICH OUR HERO SUGGESTS A PLAN WHICH GETS THE PARTY OUT OF ONE
DIFFICULTY BUT PLUNGES THEM INTO ANOTHER.

How long Wandering Will would have lain in the midst of his slumbering
comrades, indulging in gloomy reveries, it is impossible to say, for he
was suddenly startled out of them by the appearance of a black object on
the sea, at a considerable distance from the shore.  Will's couch was
near the open entrance to the tent, and from the spot where his head lay
pillowed on his coat, he could see the lagoon, the opening in the reef,
and the ocean beyond.  He rose softly, but quickly, and went out to
assure himself that his disturbed fancy had not misled him.  No--there
could be no doubt about it.  Grey dawn was already breaking, and enabled
him to see it distinctly--a dark moving speck on the sea far outside the
reef.  It could not be a gull or sea-bird, he felt persuaded; neither
was it a ship, for his eye during the voyage had become a practised one
in observing distant vessels.  It might be a boat!

Full of this idea, and trembling with hope and anxiety, he returned to
the tent, and gently awoke the captain.

"Sh! don't speak," he whispered, laying his hand on the captain's mouth.

"I'm convinced it is a boat," continued Will, as he stood beside the now
smouldering fire, while the captain gazed long and earnestly through his
telescope at the object on the sea.

"You're only half-right," said the other, with unusual seriousness, as
he handed the glass to his companion; "it's a canoe--a large one, I
think, and apparently full of men; but we shan't be left long in doubt
as to that; our fire has evidently attracted them, and now we must
prepare for their reception."

"Do you then doubt their friendliness?" asked Will, returning the glass
to the captain, who again examined the approaching canoe carefully.

"Whether they shall turn out to be friends or foes, doctor, depends
entirely on whether they are Christians or heathens.  If the
missionaries have got a footing amongst 'em, we are saved; if not--I
wouldn't give much for our chance of seeing Old England again."

The captain's voice dropped as he said this, and his face was overspread
with an expression of profound gravity.

"Do you _really_ believe in all the stories we have heard of the
blood-thirstiness of these savages, and their taste for human flesh?"
asked Will, with some anxiety.

"Believe them!" exclaimed the captain, with a bitter, almost ferocious
laugh; "of course I do.  I have _seen_ them at their bloody work, lad.
It's all very well for shore-goin' folk in the old country to make their
jokes about `Cold missionary on the sideboard,' and to sing of the `King
of the Cannibal Islands;' but, as sure as there is a sky over your head,
and a coral island under your feet, so certainly do the South Sea
savages kill, roast, and eat their enemies, and so fond are they of
human flesh that, when they can't get hold of enemies, they kill and eat
their slaves.  Look, you can make out the canoe well enough now without
the glass; she's makin' straight for the opening in the reef.  The sun
will be up in half an hour, and they'll arrive about the same time.
Come, let us rouse the men."

Hastening down to the tent, the captain raised the curtain, and shouted
hoarsely--

"Hallo, lads, turn out there--turn out.  Here's a canoe in sight--look
alive!"

Had a bomb-shell fallen into the midst of the sleepers, it could
scarcely have produced more commotion among them.  Every one sprang up
violently.

"Hooroo!" shouted Larry O'Hale, "didn't I say so?  Sure it's mysilf was
draimin' of ould Ireland, an' the cabin in the bog wi' that purty little
crature--" He stopped abruptly, and added, "Och! captain dear, what's
wrong?"

"Hold you tongue, Larry, for a little, and keep your cheerin' till you
have done fightin', for it's my opinion we may have something to do in
that way ere long."

"Faix, it's mysilf as can enjoy a taste o' that too," said Larry,
buttoning his jacket and turning up his cuffs.

By this time the canoe was approaching the passage in the reef, and the
whole party hastened to the beach, where they held a hasty council of
war, for it was now clear that the canoe was one of the largest size--
capable of holding nearly a hundred men--and that it was quite full of
naked savages.  In a few words the captain explained to the men the
character of the islanders, as ascertained by himself on previous
voyages, and showed how hopeless would be their case if they turned out
to be heathens.

"Now," said he, "we are fifteen in number, all told, with two muskets,
one pistol, three or four cutlasses, and a small supply of ammunition.
If these men prove to be enemies, shall we attack them, and try to take
their canoe, or shall we at once lay down our arms and trust to their
generosity?  Peace or war, that's the question?"

Larry at once declared for war, and several of the more fiery spirits
joined him, among whom was Will Osten; for the young doctor shrank with
horror from the idea of being roasted and eaten!

"I vote for peace," said the mate gloomily.

"Sure, Mr Cupples," exclaimed Larry, "I wonder at that, for it's little
pace ye gave us aboord the _Foam_."

"It's not possible," continued the mate--taking no notice of the cook's
remark, nor of the short laugh which followed it--"it's not possible for
fifteen men, armed as we are, to beat a hundred savages, well supplied
with clubs and spears--as I make no doubt they are--so I think we should
trust to their friendliness."

"Bah!" whispered Larry to the man next him; "he knows that he's too
tough and dry for any savage in his siven sinses to ait _him_, cooked or
raw, and so he hopes to escape."

"Mr Cupples is right, lads," said the captain; "we'd have no chance in
a fair fight, an' though I make no doubt we should kill double our
number in the scrimmage, what good would that do?"

Some of the men here seconded the captain; the others began to waver,
and it was finally decided that they should at least begin with pacific
advances.

When the council broke up, the sailors went down to the water's edge and
awaited her arrival.  As she came nearer, it became apparent that she
was a war-canoe fill with warriors.  Steadily and swiftly she advanced
to within a short distance of the shore.  Then the paddlers suddenly
ceased, and she was allowed to drift slowly in, while a splendid looking
savage stood up in the bow with a shield on his left arm and a javelin
in his right hand.

The chief, for such he evidently was, wore no clothing, except a piece
of native cloth round his loins; but his whole body was elaborately
tatooed with various devices; and this species of decoration, coupled
with the darkness of his skin, did away very much with the appearance of
nakedness.  He seemed as if he had been clothed in a dark skin-tight
dress.  But the most conspicuous part about him was the top of his head,
on which there seemed to be a large turban, which, on closer inspection,
turned out to be his own hair curled and fizzed out artificially.
Altogether he was an imposing and gigantic fellow.

When about fifty yards from the shore, the savages checked the canoe's
progress and stood up.  Now was the time for action, so, according to
previous arrangement, the sailors laid their weapons down on the beach,
and held up their hands, at the same time making such signs of
friendship as they thought would be understood.  The savages, who were
quick-witted fellows, at once ran the canoe ashore, leaped out, and
hastened towards the white men.

As they did so, Captain Dall put his telescope to his eye for a moment,
wishing to scan closely the features of the chief.  Instantly the whole
band turned with a howl, and, making towards the canoe, jumped in and
pushed off.

"Ha!" exclaimed the captain, with a smile, "these fellows have been
fired at by Europeans before now.  They evidently mistook my telescope
for a musket."

The savages paused, and again faced about at a short distance from the
beach, and the captain sought by every imaginable sign and gesticulation
to remove the bad impression he had so innocently created.  He
succeeded.  In a short time the natives again landed and advanced
towards them.  On drawing near, the chief stopped and made a short
speech--which, of course, none of the white men understood.  To this
Captain Dall replied in a short speech--which, of course, none of the
natives understood.  Both parties looked very amiably, however, at each
other, and by degrees drew closer together, when the natives began to
manifest much curiosity in reference to the costume of the sailors.
Soon they became more familiar, and the truth of the proverb, that,
"familiarity breeds contempt," was quickly illustrated by one of the
savages seizing hold of the musket which Larry O'Hale carried.  The hot
blood of the Irishman instantly fired.

"Let go, ye dirty bit o' mahogany," he cried, holding the musket tight
with his left hand, and clenching his right in a threatening manner.

Captain Dall, foreseeing what would be the result of a blow, sought to
create a diversion by raising his telescope to his eye.  The
quick-sighted savage observed the motion, let go his hold of the musket
and shrank behind his comrades, who, however, did not appear disposed to
screen him, for they all began to dodge behind each other until the
telescope was lowered.

The temporary distraction of attention which this incident caused
emboldened another savage to pounce upon the other musket, which was
carried by old Bob.  He wrenched it out of the sailor's hand and bounded
away with a shout, swinging it over his head.  Unfortunately his fingers
touched the trigger and the piece exploded, knocking down the man who
held it, and sending the ball close past the chief's ear.

Instantly there followed a loud yell, clubs were brandished, cutlasses
gleamed, and blood would certainly have been spilt had not Captain Dall
suddenly seized the chief by the shoulders and rubbed noses with him.
He knew this to be the mode of salutation among some of the South Sea
tribes, and sought to make a last effort at conciliation.  The act was
reciprocated by the chief, who signed to his men to forbear.

Captain Dall now felt convinced that any undecided course of action
would only render their case more desperate, so he turned to his men
with a look of authority and said sternly--

"My lads, we have only one hope left to us, and that is, submission.
Throw down your weapons, and put your trust in the Almighty."

The men obeyed--some with hesitation and others sullenly; they flung
their cutlasses on the sand and crossed their arms on their breasts.  No
sooner was this done than the savages rushed upon them in overwhelming
numbers, and they were instantly overpowered.  Larry O'Hale and Will
Osten, with some of the younger men, struggled fiercely, and knocked
down several of their opponents before they were subdued, but against
such overwhelming odds they had no chance.  It would have been better
for them had they acted on the captain's advice.  Whatever is worth
doing is worth doing well, and this truth is not less applicable to the
act of submission than to that of resistance.  The only result of their
ill-timed display of valour was the tighter fastening of the cords with
which the savages bound them hand and foot, and somewhat rough handling
when they, with their comrades, were tossed into the bottom of the
canoe.

After the sailors were secured, the natives collected the provisions
that had been brought by them to the island, and stowed these also in
the canoe.  This occupied a considerable time, for they were so careful
to avoid missing anything, that they ranged over the whole island,
examining every part minutely, and leaving nothing behind that had the
slightest appearance of value in their eyes.  During all this time the
white men were left lying in the water which had leaked into the canoe.
Indeed, the valiant Larry would certainly have been drowned, but for the
aid extended to him by our hero, for he chanced to have been thrown into
the canoe with his face downwards near the stern, and as the water
gradually settled down there from the prow, which was raised on the
sand, it covered his mouth.  Fortunately Will, who was near him, managed
to assist the unfortunate man in his struggles so as to enable him to
rest his head on the blade of a paddle!

When everything belonging to the crew of the _Foam_ had been collected,
the savages returned to their canoe, re-launched her, paddled out to
sea, and ere long left the little coral island out of sight behind them.



CHAPTER NINE.

CONTAINS AN ACCOUNT OF THE DESPERATE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE PRISONERS.

Five hours passed away, during which the savages continued to paddle
almost without intermission, and our hero with his friends lay fast
bound in the bottom of the canoe.  They suffered great pain from the
swelling of their limbs and the tightening of the cords that bound them;
but although Larry O'Hale, in the exasperation of his spirit, gave vent
to one or two howls, accompanied by expressions that were the reverse of
complimentary, no attention was paid to them until the island towards
which they steered was reached.

The instant the canoe touched the sand the captives were lifted out--
their hands and feet were tied together in a bunch, and, each being
slung on a stout pole as one might sling a bundle, they were carried up
to a native village on the margin of a wood.  On the way, Wandering Will
could see that the beach swarmed with natives--a fact, however, of which
his ears had already assured him, for the air was filled with yells of
delight as the captives were successively lifted out of the canoe.  He
also observed that the island appeared to be a large one, for he got a
glimpse of a huge mountain rising over the tree tops.  Neither he nor
any of his comrades, however, had time to make many observations, for
they were hurried up the beach and into the village, where they were
thrown down under a rudely built hut which was covered with broad
leaves.

Here the cords that fastened them were unloosed; but if this for a
moment raised the hope that they were about to be set free, they were
quickly undeceived by the savages, who rebound their hands behind them.
Our hero, Captain Dall, Mr Cupples, Larry O'Hale, and Muggins, were
then fastened with cords of cocoa-nut fibre to the several posts of the
hut in such a manner that they could stand up or lie down at pleasure.
George Goff, old Bob, and the others were led away.  Seeing that they
were about to be separated, Captain Dall suddenly called out, "Farewell,
lads," in a tone so sad, that Goff looked back at him in surprise, but
his captors forced him away before he could reply.

"You think we won't see them again?" said Osten, when they were left
alone.

"I think not.  From what I know of those savages, I fear they have taken
our comrades away to be sacrificed, and that our own time will soon
come."

Something between a groan and a growl escaped from O'Hale when this was
said.

"Cudn't we break thim ropes, and run amuck amongst the murtherin'
blackguards," he exclaimed, seizing the rope that bound him with his
teeth and endeavouring to tear it--an effort which it is needless to say
was futile, and nearly cost him a tooth.

"It's of no use, Larry," said the captain; "we can't help ourselves.  If
the Lord don't help us, we're dead men."

Although Will Osten was much depressed, not to say alarmed, by what he
heard, he could not help wondering why the captain had so suddenly lost
his buoyant spirit.  At the time when a slow death by starvation had
stared him in the face, he had not only retained his own heartiness of
spirit, but had kept up wonderfully the spirits of his companions.  Now,
however--when, as Will thought, they had the chance of escaping by
stratagem or by force from their captors, or, at the worst, of selling
their lives dearly--his spirit seemed to have utterly forsaken him.  Yet
the captain was only despondent--not despairing.  He had seen the deeds
of savages in former years, and knew that with them there was seldom a
long period between the resolve to kill and the accomplishment of the
crime.  He feared for the lives of his shipmates, and would have given
his right hand at that moment to have been free to aid them, but the
attempts of himself and his comrades to break their bonds were
fruitless, so, after making one or two desperate efforts, they sat down
doggedly to await their fate.

It might have been a curious study to have noted the different spirit in
which these unfortunate men submitted to their unavoidable doom on that
occasion.  The captain sat down on a log of wood that chanced to be near
him, folded his hands quietly on his knees, allowed his head to sink
forward on his chest, and remained for a long time quite motionless.
Will Osten, on the other hand, stood up at first, and, leaning his head
on his arm against the wall of the hut, appeared to be lost in reverie.
Doubtless he was thinking of home; perhaps reproaching himself for the
manner and spirit in which he had quitted it--as many a poor wanderer
has done before when too late!  He quickly changed his thoughts,
however, and, with them, his position: sat down and got up frequently,
frowned, clenched his hands, shook his head, stamped his foot, bit his
lips, and altogether betrayed a spirit ill at ease.  Mr Cupples, whose
soul had from the moment of their capture given way to the deepest
possible dejection, lay down, and, resting his elbow on the floor and
his head on his hand, gazed at his comrades with a look so dreadfully
dolorous that, despite their anxiety, they could hardly suppress a
smile.  As for Muggins and O'Hale, the former, being a phlegmatic man
and a courageous, sat down with his back against the wall, his hands
thrust into his pockets, and a quid in his cheek, and shook his head
slowly from side to side, while he remarked that every one had to die
once, an' when the time came no one couldn't escape and that was all
about it!  Poor Larry O'Hale could not thus calm his mercurial spirit.
He twisted his hard features into every possible contortion,
apostrophised his luck, and his grandmother, and ould Ireland in the
most pathetic manner, bewailed his fate, and used improper language in
reference to savages in general, and those of the South Seas in
particular, while, at intervals, he leaped up and tried to tear his
bonds asunder.

Thus several hours were spent.  Evening approached, and darkness set in;
still no one came near the prisoners.  During this period, however, they
heard the continual shouting and singing of the savages, and sometimes
caught a glimpse of them through crevices between the logs of which the
hut was built.  It was not possible for them to ascertain what they were
about, however, until night set in, when several large fires were
lighted, and then it could be seen that they were feasting and dancing.
Suddenly, in the midst of the din, an appalling shriek was heard.  It
was quickly succeeded by another and another.  Then the yells of the
revellers increased in fury, and presently a procession of them was
observed approaching the hut, headed by four men bearing a sort of stage
on their shoulders.

The shrieks had struck like a death-chill to the hearts of the
prisoners.  No one spoke, but each had recognised familiar tones in the
terrible cries.  For the first time some of them began to realise the
fact that they were really in the hands of murderers, and that the
bloody work had actually begun.  Great drops of sweat rolled down the
face of Muggins as he gazed in horror through one of the crevices, and
his broad chest heaved convulsively as he exclaimed, "God be merciful to
us, it's George Goff!"  This was too true.  On the stage, carried by
four natives, sat the unfortunate seaman.  It required no second glance
to tell that his spirit had fled, and that nothing but a corpse sat
swaying there, supported by means of a pole, in a sitting posture.  The
cannibals were conveying it to their temple, there to cut it up and
prepare it for that dreadful feast which is regarded as inexpressibly
repulsive by all the human race except these islanders of the South
Seas, who, incredible though it may appear, absolutely relish human
flesh as a dainty morsel.

At sight of this, poor Will Osten, who had never quite believed in such
terrible things, sank down on his knees with a deep groan, and, for the
first time in his life, perhaps, prayed _earnestly_.

O'Hale's spirit blazed up in ungovernable fury.  Like a wild beast, he
tore and wrenched at the rope which bound him, and then, finding his
efforts unavailing, he flung himself on the ground, while deep sobs
burst at intervals from his oppressed heart.

A few minutes elapsed; then there was a rush of footsteps without,
accompanied by fierce yells and the waving of torches.  The prisoners
leaped up, feeling almost instinctively that there hour had come.  A
moment later and the hut was filled with natives.  All were naked, with
the exception of a small piece of cloth round their loins.  They were
tatooed, however, and painted nearly from head to foot.

The prisoners were instantly seized and overpowered, and preparations
were being rapidly made to carry them away, when a shout was heard
outside, and a remarkably tall, powerful, and thickly painted savage
sprang in.  He pushed the natives violently aside, and gave some stern
orders to those who held the prisoners.  The immediate result was, that
the latter were released and allowed to rise, although their hands were
still bound behind them.  Meanwhile the tall savage, standing beside
them, harangued his comrades with great energy of tone and action.

While this was going on, Larry O'Hale whispered excitedly to his
companions--

"Howld on, lads, a bit.  Sure I've burst the ropes at last.  The moment
I git howld o' that blackguard's knife I'll cut yer lashin's.  Stand by
for a rush."

As Larry spoke, the tall savage drew the knife referred to from his
girdle, and, glancing over his shoulder, said in English--

"Keep quiet, lads.  I'll do my best to save 'ee; but if you offer to
fight, you're dead men all in five minutes."

Amazement, if no other feeling had operated, would have rendered the
prisoners perfectly quiet after that.  They waited in deep anxiety and
wonder, while the tall savage continued his harangue, at the conclusion
of which his hearers uttered an expressive grunt or growl, as if of
assent, and then they all filed out of the hut, leaving the prisoners
alone with their deliverer.



CHAPTER TEN.

OUR HERO AND HIS COMRADES IN DISTRESS BECOME SAVAGE WARRIORS FOR THE
NONCE.

"Friend," said Captain Dall, taking the hand of the tall savage in his
and speaking with some emotion, "you have been sent as our deliverer, I
know, but how a South Sea islander should happen to befriend us, and how
you should come to speak English as well as ye do, is more than I can
understand."

"Onderstand!" exclaimed Larry; "it's past belaif.  It baits
cock-fightin' intirely."

A grim smile crossed the painted face of the savage, as he said somewhat
hurriedly:--

"I'm no more a South Sea islander than you are, lads, but this is not
the time for explanations.  It's enough for you to know, in the
meantime, that I'm an Englishman, and will befriend you if you agree to
obey me."

"Obey ye!" cried Larry with enthusiasm, "blissin's on yer painted mug,
it's warship ye we will, av ye only git us out o' this scrape."

"That's so," said Muggins, nodding his head emphatically, while Mr
Cupples, in tones of the most awful solemnity, and with a look that
cannot be described, vowed eternal friendship.

"Well, then," said the tall man, "we have no time to waste, for you are
in a greater fix just now than ye think for.  About myself it's enough
to know that I'm a runaway sailor; that I made my way among these
fellers here by offering to join 'em and fight for 'em, and that I won
their respect at first by knocking down, in fair stand-up fight, all the
biggest men o' the tribe.  I don't think they would have spared me even
after that, but I curried favour with the chief and married one of his
daughters.  Now I'm a great man among them.  I didn't hear of your
having been brought here till half an hour ago, havin' bin away with a
war party in canoes.  I returned just too late to save your comrades."

"What! are they all dead?" asked Will Osten.

"Ay, all, and if you don't follow them it will only be by attending to
what I tell you.  My name is Buchanan, but the savages can only manage
to make Bukawanga out o' that.  The word means fire, and ain't a bad one
after all!"

The man smiled grimly as he said this, and then resumed, more rapidly
and sternly than before:--

"You have but one chance, and that is to join us.  I have come to the
village with the news that a neighbouring tribe is about to attack us.
If you agree to help us to fight, I may manage to save you; if not your
case is hopeless.  There is no time for consideration.  Ay or no, that's
the word."

"Sure I'll jine ye, Mr Bukkie Whangy," said Larry O'Hale, "wid all the
pleasure in life.  It's always for fightin' I am, at laist whin--"

"I don't like to shed human blood," said Captain Dall, interrupting,
"where I've no quarrel."

"Then your own must be shed," said Bukawanga firmly.

"There's no help for it, captain," said Will Osten.  "'Tis better to
fight for these men than to be murdered by them.  What say you, Mr
Cupples?"

"War," replied the mate emphatically.

"Ditto," said Muggins, nodding his head and buttoning his jacket.

"Then strip, and we'll paint you right off," said Bukawanga; "look
alive, now!"

He fastened the torch which he held in his hand to a beam of the hut,
and cut the bonds of the prisoners; then, going to the door, he summoned
two men, who came in with a basket made of leaves, in which were several
cocoa-nut shells filled with red, white, and black earth, or paint.

"What!" exclaimed Will Osten, "must we fight without clothing?"

"An' wid painted skins?" said Larry.

"Yes, unless you would be a special mark for the enemy," replied
Bukawanga; "but you have no chance if you don't become in every way like
one of us."

Seeing that the man was in earnest, they were fain to submit.  After
removing their clothes, the natives began diligently to paint them from
head to foot, laying on the colours so thickly, and in such bold
effective strokes, that ere long all appearance of nudity was removed.
Man is a strange being.  Even in the midst of the most solemn scenes he
cannot resist giving way at times to bursts of mirth.  Philosophy may
fail to account for it, and propriety may shudder at it, but the fact is
undeniable.  With death hovering, they knew not how near, over them, and
the memory of the fearful things they had just witnessed strong upon
them, they were compelled, now and then, to smile and even to laugh
aloud, as the process of painting went on.  There was some variety in
the adornment of each, but let that of Larry O'Hale serve as an example.
First of all his legs were rubbed all over with white earth, and his
body with yellow.  Then, down each lower limb, behind, a palm-tree was
drawn in red--the roots beginning at his heels, and the branches above
spreading out on his calves.  Various fanciful devices were drawn on his
breast and arms, and some striking circles on his back.  Last of all,
one-half of his face was painted red, and the other half black, with a
stripe of white extending from the root of his hair down to the point of
his nose.  It is needless to say that during the process the
enthusiastic Irishman commented freely on the work, and offered many
pieces of advice to the operator.  Indeed, his tendency to improve upon
existing customs had well-nigh put an end to the friendly relations
which now subsisted between the white men and the natives, for he took a
fancy to have a red stripe down each of his legs.  Either the native did
not understand him, or would not agree to the proposal, whereupon Larry
took the brush and continued the work himself.  At this the savage
indignantly seized him by the arm and pinched him so violently that he
lost temper, and, thrusting the red brush into the native's face, hurled
him to the ground.  There was a yell and a rush at once, and it is
probable that blood would have been shed had not Bukawanga interposed.

When the painting was completed, their protector led the white men (now
no longer white!) to the hut of the chief.  Bukawanga was received
somewhat coldly at first.  The chief, a large, fine-looking old man,
named Thackombau, with an enormous head of frizzled hair, looked askance
at the newcomers, and was evidently disposed to be unfriendly.
Observing this, and that the warriors around him scowled on them in a
peculiarly savage manner, most of the prisoners felt that their lives
hung, as it were, upon a thread.  The aspect of things changed, however,
when their friend stood up and addressed the assembly.

Bukawanga had not yet said a word about the cause of his sudden return
from the war expedition.  It was, therefore, with much concern that the
chief and his men learned that a neighbouring and powerful tribe, with
which they had always been at enmity, were actually on the way to attack
them; and when Bukawanga talked of the needful preparations for defence,
and, pointing to the prisoners, said that they were his countrymen, able
to fight well, and willing to help them, there was a perceptible
improvement in the looks of the party.  Finally, Thackombau condescended
to rub noses with them all, and they were ordered off to another hut to
have supper.  This latter arrangement was brought about by their
deliverer, who knew that if they remained to sup with the natives they
would be shocked, and, perhaps, roused to some act of desperate
violence, by the horrible sight of portions of the bodies of their poor
comrades, which, he knew, were to be eaten that night.  He therefore
sought to divert their thoughts from the subject by sitting down and
relating many anecdotes connected with his own adventurous history,
while they partook of a meal of which they stood much in need.

The dishes, although new to them, were by no means unpalatable.  They
consisted of baked pig and yams served on banana leaves, and soup in
cocoa-nut shells.  Also a dish made of taro-tops, and filled with a
creamy preparation of cocoa-nut done in an oven.  Bread-fruits were also
served, and these tasted so like the crumb of wheaten loaf, that it was
difficult to believe them to be the fruit of a tree.  For drink they had
the juice of the young cocoa--a liquid which resembles lemonade, and of
which each nut contains about a tumblerful.  There was also offered to
them a beverage named ava, which is intoxicating in its nature, and very
disgusting in its preparation.  This, however, Bukawanga advised them
not to touch.

"Now, Mr Bukkie Whangy," said Larry, after having appeased his
appetite, "if I may make so bowld as to ax--how came ye here?"

"The story is short enough and sad enough," replied his new friend.
"The fact is, I came here in a sandal-wood trader's ship; I was so
disgusted with the captain and crew that I ran away from them when they
touched at this island for water.  'Tis eight years ago now, and I have
bin here ever since.  I have regretted the step that I took, for the
devilry that goes on here is ten times worse than I ever saw aboard
ship.  However, it's too late for regret now."

"Ah! _too late_," murmured Will Osten, and his thoughts leaped back to
England.

"The worst of it is," continued the runaway sailor, "that I have no
chance of gettin' away, for the cruelty of sailors to the natives of
this island has rendered them desperate, and they murder every white man
they can get hold of.  Indeed there would have been no chance for you
but for the breaking out of war, and the fact that they are somewhat
short of fightin' men just now.  Not long after I landed on the island,
an American whaler sent her boats ashore for water.  They quarrelled,
somehow, with the natives, who drove them into their boats with
tremendous hooting and yells and some hard blows, although no blood was
spilt.  Well, what did the scoundrels do but pulled aboard their ship,
brought their big guns to bear on the people, and fired on several
villages--killing and wounding a good many of 'em, women and children
among the rest.  That's the way these fellows set the natives against
white men.  It was all I could do to prevent them from knocking out my
brains after the thing happened."

While Bukawanga was speaking, a great commotion was heard outside.

"They're gettin' ready for action," he said, springing up.  "Now, lads,
follow me.  I'll get you weapons, and, hark-'ee," he added, with a
somewhat peculiar smile, "I heerd some of 'ee say ye don't want to spill
blood where ye have no quarrel.  Well, there's no occasion to do so.
Only act in self-defence, and that'll do well enough; d'ye understand?"

The man gave vent to a short chuckle as he said this, and then, leading
his countrymen from the hut, conducted them towards a temple, near to
which a large band of warriors was busily engaged in making preparations
for the approaching fight.



CHAPTER ELEVEN.

A FIGHT, WHICH RESULTS IN A MISTAKE AND A HASTY FLIGHT.

The horrors of war are neither agreeable to write about nor to reflect
upon.  However much, therefore, it may disappoint those readers whose
minds delight to wallow in the abominations of human cruelty, we will
refrain from entering into the full particulars of the sanguinary fight
that ensued just after the arrival of Wandering Will and his friends in
the island.  It is sufficient to say that many lives were lost.  Of
course the loss of life bore no proportion to that which occurs in
civilised warfare.  One roar from the throats of our terrific engines of
destruction will sometimes send more souls into eternity in one moment
than all the fierce fury of a hundred savages can accomplish in an hour.
But what the savage lacks in power he more than makes up for in cruelty
and brutality.  During the few days in which the fight raged, the sights
that met the eyes of the white men, and the appalling sounds that filled
their ears, turned their hearts sick, and induced a longing desire to
escape.

The war was carried on chiefly in the way of bush fighting.  Our sailors
found this mode of warfare convenient, for it enabled them to act very
much as spectators.  Passing over the details of the brief campaign, we
touch only on those points which affected the subsequent movements of
the whites.

Bukawanga, who virtually acted the part of commander-in-chief, although
all the chiefs considered themselves above him, moved about actively at
all times to make sure that the village was properly guarded at every
point.  While thus employed he had, on one occasion, to pass through a
piece of scrub, or thick bush, in which he heard the shriek of a woman.
Turning aside he came to an opening where a man was endeavouring to kill
a little boy, whose mother was doing her best to defend him.  He
evidently wished to kill the child and to spare the woman, but she
stooped over the child and warded off the blows with her arms so
cleverly, that it was still uninjured, although the poor mother was
bleeding profusely from many wounds.  Bukawanga instantly rushed to the
rescue, and raised his club to deal the savage a deadly blow.
Unobserved by him, however, another savage had been attracted to the
spot, and, seeing what was about to happen, he ran up behind Bukawanga
and felled him with a blow of his club.  During the scuffle the woman
snatched up her boy and escaped.  The two savages then began to dispute
as to which had the best right to cut off the head of their fallen foe
and carry it away in triumph.  Both of them were much fatigued with
fighting, so they sat down on the back of the prostrate seaman to
conduct the discussion more comfortably.  The point was still undecided
when Bukawanga recovered consciousness, felt the heavy pressure on his
back and loins, and heard part of the interesting dialogue!

It chanced, at this point, that Will Osten and Larry O'Hale, who, from
natural affinity or some other cause, always kept together, came to the
spot and peeped through the bushes.  Seeing two men sitting on the body
of a third and engaged in an animated dispute, they did not see cause to
interfere, but remained for a few minutes almost amused spectators of
the scene, being utterly ignorant, of course, as to the purport of their
dispute.  Suddenly, to their great surprise, they beheld the two men
leap into the air; the supposed dead body sprang up, and, before either
savage could use his weapons, each received a strong British fist
between his eyes and measured his length on the sward, while the
conqueror sprang over them into the bush and disappeared.

"Man alive!" exclaimed Larry, "if it isn't Bukkie Whangy himself!  Och,
the murtherin' daimons!"

With that Larry leaped over the bushes flourishing his club and yelling
like a very savage.  But Will Osten was before him.  Both savages had
risen immediately after being knocked down, and now faced their new
enemies.  They were no match for them.  Being expert in all athletic
exercises, young Osten found no difficulty in felling the first of the
men, while Larry disposed of the other with equal celerity.  The
Irishman's blood had fired at the thought of the narrow escape of his
deliverer, and, still whirling his club round his head, he looked about
eagerly as if desirous of finding another foe on whom to expend his
fury.  At that moment he caught sight of a pair of savage eyes gleaming
at him from the bushes.

"Hah! ye dirty polecat," he cried, throwing his club at the eyes with
all his force.

Never was there a worse aim or a better shot!  The club flew high into
the air and would have fallen some fifty yards or more wide of the mark,
had it not touched the limb of a tree in passing.  It glanced obliquely
down, and, striking the owner of the eyes between the shoulders felled
him to the earth.

Larry sprang upon him with a yell of triumph, but the yell was changed
into a howl of consternation when he made the discovery that he had
knocked down, if not killed, one of the principal chiefs of the village!
To say that poor O'Hale wrung his hands, and wished bad luck to
fightin' in general, and to himself in particular, gives but a feeble
idea of the distress of his mind at this untoward event.

"D'ye think I've kilt him intirely, doctor dear?" he asked of Will
Osten, who was on his knees beside the fallen chief examining his hurt.

"No, not quite.  See, he breathes a little.  Come, Larry, the moment he
shows symptoms of reviving we must bolt.  Of course he knows who knocked
him down, and will never forgive us."

"That's true, O murther!" exclaimed Larry, with a mingled look of
contrition and anxiety.

"Depend upon it they'll kill us all," continued Osten.

"And bake an' ait us," groaned Larry.

"Come," said Will, rising hastily as the stunned chief began to move,
"we'll go search for our comrades."

They hurried away, but not before the chief had risen on one elbow and
shaken his clenched fist at them, besides displaying a terrible double
row of teeth, through which he hissed an unintelligible malediction.

They soon found their comrades, and related what had occurred.  A
hurried council of war was held on the spot, and it was resolved that,
as a return to the village would ensure their destruction, the only
chance of life which remained to them was to take to the mountains.
Indeed, so urgent was the necessity for flight, that they started off at
once, naked though they were, and covered with blood, paint, and dust,
as well as being destitute of provisions.

All that night they travelled without halt, and penetrated into the
wildest fastnesses of the mountains of the interior.  Bukawanga had
already told them, during intervals in the fight when they had met and
eaten their hasty meals together, that the island was a large, well
wooded, and fruitful one--nearly thirty miles in diameter; and that the
highest mountain in the centre was an active volcano.  There were
several tribes of natives on it, all of whom were usually at war with
each other, but these tribes dwelt chiefly on the coast, leaving the
interior uninhabited.  The fugitives, therefore, agreed that they should
endeavour to find a retreat amongst some of the most secluded and
inaccessible heights, and there hide themselves until a ship should
chance to anchor off the coast, or some other mode of escape present
itself.

The difficulties of the way were greater than had been anticipated.
There was no path; the rocks, cliffs, and gullies were precipitous; and
the underwood was thick and tangled, insomuch that Mr Cupples sat down
once or twice and begged to be left where he was, saying that he would
take his chance of being caught, and could feed quite well on
cocoa-nuts!  This, however, was not listened to.  Poor Cupples was
dragged along, half by persuasion and half by force.  Sailors, as a
class, are not celebrated for pedestrian powers, and Cupples was a
singularly bad specimen of his class.  Muggins, although pretty well
knocked up before morning, held on manfully without a murmur.  The
captain, too, albeit a heavy man, and fat, and addicted to panting and
profuse perspiration, declared that he was game for anything, and would
never be guilty of saying "die" as long as there was "a shot in the
locker."  As for Larry O'Hale, he was a man of iron mould, one of those
giants who seem to be incapable of being worn out or crushed by any
amount of physical exertion.  So far was he from being exhausted, that
he threatened to carry Mr Cupples if he should again talk of falling
behind.  We need scarcely say that Wandering Will was quite equal to the
occasion.  Besides being a powerful fellow for his age, he was lithe,
active, and hopeful, and, having been accustomed to hill-climbing from
boyhood, could have left the whole party behind with ease.

Grey dawn found the fugitives far up the sides of the mountains--fairly
lost, as Muggins said, in a waste howlin' wilderness.  It was sunrise
when they reached the top of a high cliff that commanded a magnificent
view of land and sea.

"A good place this for us," said the captain, wiping his forehead as he
sat down on a piece of rock.  "The pass up to it is narrow; two or three
stout fellows could hold it against an army of savages."

"Av there was only a cave now for to live in," said Larry, looking round
him.

"Wot's that?" exclaimed Muggins, pointing to a hole in the perpendicular
cliff a short distance above the spot where they stood.--"Ain't _that_ a
cave?"

Will Osten clambered up and disappeared in the hole.  Soon after he
re-appeared with the gratifying intelligence that it _was_ a cave, and a
capital dry one; whereupon they all ascended, with some difficulty, and
took possession of their new home.



CHAPTER TWELVE.

SHOWS HOW SOUTH SEA MISSIONARIES DO THEIR WORK, AND THAT IF THE WHITES
CAN SURPRISE THE NATIVES THE LATTER CAN SOMETIMES ASTONISH THE WHITES!

For three months did Wandering Will and his friends remain concealed in
the mountains.  Of course they were pursued and diligently sought for by
the natives, and undoubtedly they would have been discovered had the
search been continued for any length of time, but to their great
surprise, after the first week of their flight, the search was
apparently given up.  At all events, from that period they saw nothing
more of the natives, and gradually became more fearless in venturing to
ramble from the cave in search of food.  They puzzled over the matter
greatly, for, to say the least of it, there appeared to be something
mysterious in the total indifference so suddenly manifested towards them
by the savages; but although many were the guesses made, they were very
far from hitting on the real cause.

During this period they subsisted on the numerous fruits and vegetables
which grew wild in great abundance on the island, and spent their days
in gathering them and hunting wild pigs and snaring birds.  As Larry was
wont to observe with great satisfaction, and, usually, with his mouth
full of victuals--

"Sure it's the hoith o' livin' we have--what with cocky-nuts, an' taros
an' bananas, an' young pigs for the killin', an' ginger-beer for the
drinkin', an' penny loaves growin' on the trees for nothin', wid no end
o' birds, an' pots ready bilin', night an' day, to cook 'em in--och! it
would be hiven intirely but for the dirty savages, bad luck to 'em!"

There was more truth in Larry's remark than may be apparent at first
sight.  Vegetation was not only prolific and beautiful everywhere, but
exceedingly fruitful.  The bread-fruit tree in particular supplied them
with more than they required of a substance that was nearly as palatable
and nutritious as bread.  Captain Dall fortunately knew the method of
cooking it in an oven, for the uncooked fruit is not eatable.  The milk
of the young cocoa-nuts was what the facetious Irishman referred to
under the name of ginger-beer; but his remark about boiling pots was
literally correct.  The summit of that mountainous island was, as we
have already said, an active volcano, from which sulphurous fumes were
constantly issuing--sometimes gently, and occasionally with violence.

Several of the springs in the neighbourhood were hot--a few being almost
at the boiling point, so that it was absolutely possible to boil the
wild pigs and birds which they succeeded in capturing, without the use
of a fire!  Strange to say, they also found springs of clear _cold_
water not far from the hot springs.

There is a species of thin tough bark round the upper part of the stem
of the cocoa-nut palm--a sort of natural cloth--which is much used by
the South Sea islanders.  Of this they fashioned some rude but useful
garments.

"It seems curious, doesn't it," said Will Osten to Captain Dall, one
day, referring to these things and the beauty of the island, "that the
Almighty should make such a terrestrial paradise as this, and leave it
to be used, or rather abused, by such devils in human shape?"

"I'm not sure," answered the captain slowly, "that we are right in
saying that _He_ has left it to be so abused.  I'm afraid that it is
_we_ who are to blame in the matter."

"How so?" exclaimed Will, in surprise.

"You believe the Bible to be the Word of God, don't you?" said Captain
Dall somewhat abruptly, "and that its tendency is to improve men?"

"Of _course_ I do; how can you ask such a question?"

"Did you ever," continued the captain pointedly, "hear of a text that
says something about going and teaching all nations, and have, you ever
given anything to send missionaries with the Bible to these islands?"

"I--I can't say I ever have," replied Will, with a smile and a slight
blush.

"No more have I, lad," said the captain, smiting his knee emphatically;
"the thought has only entered my head for the first time, but I _do_
think that it is _we_ who leave islands such as this to be abused by the
human devils you speak of, and who, moreover, are not a whit worse--nay,
not so bad--as many _civilised_ human devils, who, in times not long
past, and under the cloak of religion, have torn men and tender women
limb from limb, and bound them at the stake, and tortured them on the
rack, in order to make them swallow a false creed."

This was the commencement of one of the numerous discussions on
religion, philosophy, and politics, with which the echoes of that cavern
were frequently awakened after the somewhat fatiguing labours of each
day's chase were over, for a true Briton is the same everywhere.  He is
a reasoning (if you will, an argumentative) animal, and our little band
of fugitives in those mountain fastnesses was no exception to the rule.

Meanwhile, two events occurred at the native village which require
notice.  Their occurrence was not observed by our friends in hiding,
because the summit of the mountain completely shut out their view in
that direction, and they never wandered far from their place of retreat.

The first event was very sad, and is soon told.  One morning a schooner
anchored off the village, and a party of armed seamen landed, the leader
of whom, through the medium of an interpreter, had an interview with the
chief.  He wished to be permitted to cut sandal-wood, and an agreement
was entered into.  After a considerable quantity had been cut and sent
on board, the chief wanted payment.  This was refused on some trivial
ground.  The savages remonstrated.  The white men threatened, and the
result was that the latter were driven into their boats.  They pulled
off to their vessel, loaded a large brass gun that occupied the centre
of the schooner's deck, and sent a shower of cannister shot among the
savages, killing and wounding not only many of the men, but some of the
women and children who chanced to be on the skirt of the wood.  They
then set sail, and, as they coasted along, fired into several villages,
the people of which had nothing to do with their quarrel.

Only a week after this event another little schooner anchored off the
village.  It was a missionary ship, sent by the London Missionary
Society to spread the good news of salvation through Christ among the
people.  Some time before, a native teacher--one who, on another island,
had embraced Christianity, and been carefully instructed in its leading
truths--had been sent to this island, and was well received; but, war
having broken out, the chief had compelled him to leave.  A second
attempt was now being made, and this time an English missionary with his
wife and daughter were about to trust themselves in the hands of the
savages.

They could not have arrived at a worse time.  The islanders, still
smarting under a sense of the wrong and cruelty so recently done them,
rushed upon the little boat of the schooner, brandishing clubs and
spears, the instant it touched the land, and it was with the utmost
difficulty that the missionary prevailed on them to stay their hands and
give him a hearing.  He soon explained the object of his visit, and, by
distributing a few presents, so far mollified the people that he was
allowed to land, but it was plain that they regarded him with distrust.
The tide was turned in the missionary's favour, however, by the runaway
sailor, Buchanan, or Bukawanga.  That worthy happened at the time to be
recovering slowly from the effects of the wound he had received in the
fight, which had so nearly proved to be his last.  On hearing of the
arrival of strangers he feared that the savages would kill them out of
revenge, and hastened, weak and ill though he was, to meet, and, if
possible, protect them.  His efforts were successful.  He managed to
convince the natives that among Christians there were two classes--those
who merely called themselves by the name, and those who really did their
best to practise Christianity; that the sandal-wood traders probably did
not even pretend to the name, but that those who had just arrived would
soon give proof that they were of a very different spirit.  The result
of this explanation was, that the chiefs agreed to receive the
missionary, who accordingly landed with his family, and with all that
was necessary for the establishment of a mission.

Those who have not read of missionary enterprise in the South Seas can
form no conception of the difficulties that missionaries have to contend
with, and the dangers to which they are exposed on the one hand, and, on
the other, the rapidity with which success is sometimes vouchsafed to
them.  In some instances, they have passed years in the midst of
idolatry and bloody rites, the mere recital of which causes one to
shudder, while their lives have hung on the caprice of a volatile chief;
at other times God has so signally blessed their efforts that a whole
tribe has adopted Christianity in the course of a few weeks.
Misunderstand us not, reader.  We do not say that they all became true
Christians; nevertheless it is a glorious fact that such changes have
occurred; that idolatry has been given up and Christianity embraced
within that short period, and that the end has been the civilisation of
the people; doubtless, also, the salvation of some immortal souls.

In about two months after their arrival a marvellous change had taken
place in the village.

The natives, like very children, came with delight to be taught the use
of the white man's tools, and to assist in clearing land and building a
cottage.  When this was finished, a small church was begun.  It was this
busy occupation that caused the savages to forget, for a time, the very
existence of Wandering Will and his friends; and if Bukawanga thought of
them, it was to conclude that they had taken refuge with one of the
tribes on the other side of the island.

That which seemed to amuse and delight the natives most in the new
arrivals was the clothing which was distributed among them.  They proved
very untractable, however, in the matter of putting it on.  One man
insisted on putting the body of a dress which had been meant for his
wife on his own nether limbs--thrusting his great feet through the
sleeves, and thereby splitting them to the shoulder.  Another tied a
tippet round his waist, and a woman was found strutting about in a pair
of fisherman's boots, and a straw bonnet with the back to the front!

One of the chiefs thus absurdly arrayed was the means of letting the
fugitive white men have an idea that something strange had occurred at
the village.  This man had appropriated a scarlet flannel petticoat
which had been presented to his mother, and, putting it on with the
waist-band tied round his neck, sallied forth to hunt in the mountains.
He was suddenly met by Larry O'Hale and Will Osten.

"Musha! 'tis a ow-rangy-tang!" cried the Irishman.

His companion burst into a fit of loud laughter.  The terrified native
turned to flee, but Larry darted after him, tripped up his heels, and
held him down.

"Kape quiet, won't ye?" he said, giving the struggling man a severe
punch on the chest.

The savage thought it best to obey.  Being allowed to get on his legs he
was blindfolded, and then, with Will grasping him on one side, and the
Irishman on the other, he was led up to the mountain-cave, and
introduced to the family circle there, just as they were about to sit
down to their mid-day meal.



CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

REMARKABLE CHANGES FOR THE BETTER.

It will not surprise the reader to be told that the savage with the red
flannel petticoat tied round his neck was received with shouts of
laughter by the inmates of the cave, and that his costume filled them
with mingled feelings of astonishment and curiosity.  The information
obtained from him by signs did not enlighten them much, but it was
sufficient to convince them that something unusual had occurred at the
native village, and to induce Will Osten to act in accordance with his
favourite motto.

"I tell you what, comrades," said he, after a few minutes' deliberation,
"I have made up my mind to go back to the village with this red-coated
gentleman, and see whether they are all decked out in the same fashion.
To tell the truth, I have been thinking for some time back that we have
been living here to no purpose--"

"Only hear that, now," said Larry O'Hale, interrupting; "haven't we bin
livin' like fightin' cocks, an' gettin' as fat as pigs?  Why, Mr
Cupples hisself begins to throw a shadow on the ground whin the sun's
pretty strong; an' as for Muggins there--"

"You let Muggins alone," growled the seaman; "if we _are_ fatterer,
p'raps it'll only be for the good o' the niggers when they come to eat
us."

"Well, well," said Will; "at all events we shall never escape from this
place by remaining here--(`True for ye,' said Larry)--therefore I shall
go to the village, as I have said.  If they receive me, well and good; I
will return to you.  If not--why, that's the end of me, and you'll have
to look out for yourselves."

As usual an energetic discussion followed this announcement.  The
captain said it was madness, Mr Cupples shook his head and groaned,
Muggins thought that they should all go together and take their chance,
and Larry protested that he would sooner be eaten alive than allow his
comrade to go without him; but in time Will Osten convinced them all
that his plan was best.

What would be the good of the whole of them being killed together, he
said--better that the risk should fall on one, and that the rest should
have a chance of escape.  Besides, he was the best runner of the party,
and, if he should manage to wriggle out of the clutches of the savages,
would be quite able to outrun them and regain the cave.  At length the
youth's arguments and determination prevailed, and in the afternoon he
set off accompanied by his sable friend in female attire.

On nearing the village, the first thing that greeted the eyes of our
hero was a savage clothed in a yellow cotton vest and a blue jacket,
both of which were much too small for him; he also had the leg of a
chair hung round his neck by way of ornament.

This turned out to be the principal chief of the village, Thackombau,
and a very proud man he obviously was on that occasion.  To refrain from
smiling, and embrace this fellow by rubbing noses with him, was no easy
matter, but Will Osten did it nevertheless.  While they were
endeavouring to converse by signs, Will was suddenly bereft of speech
and motion by the unexpected appearance of a white man--a gentleman
clothed in sombre costume--on whose arm leaned a pleasant-faced lady!
The gentleman smiled on observing the young man's gaze of astonishment,
and advancing, held out his hand.

Will Osten grasped and shook it, but still remained speechless.

"Doubtless you are one of the party who escaped into the hills lately?"
said the gentleman.

"Indeed I am, sir," replied Will, finding words at last, and bowing to
the lady; "but from what star have _you_ dropt? for, when I left the
village, there were none but savages in it!"

"I dropt from the _Star of Hope_," answered the gentleman, laughing.
"You have hit the mark, young sir, nearer than you think, for that is
the name of the vessel that brought me here.  I am a missionary; my name
is Westwood; and I am thankful to say I have been successful in making a
good commencement on this island.  This is my wife--allow me to
introduce you--and if you will come with me to my cottage--"

"Cottage!" exclaimed Will.

"Ay, 'tis a good and pretty one, too, notwithstanding the short time we
took to build it.  The islanders are smart fellows when they have a mind
to labour, and it is wonderful what an amount can be done when the Lord
prospers the work.  These good fellows," added the missionary, casting a
glance at the two natives, "who, as you see, are somewhat confused in
their ideas about dress, have already done me much service in the
building of the church--"

"Church!" echoed Will.

Again the missionary laughed, and, offering his arm to his wife, turned
towards the village, saying--

"Come, Mr Osten--you see I know your name, having heard of you from
your friend Buchanan--come, I will show you what we have been about
while you were absent; but first--tell me--how fares it with your
comrades?"

Will Osten at once entered into a full account of the doings of himself
and his friends, and had just concluded, when he was once more rendered
speechless by the sight of the missionary's cottage.  It was almost the
realisation of the waking dream which had captivated him so much on the
evening when the storm arose that proved fatal to the _Foam_.  He was
still gazing at it in silent admiration, listening to an enthusiastic
account of the zeal and kindness of the natives who helped to build it,
when a young girl, apparently bordering on seventeen or eighteen years
of age, with nut-brown curls, rosy cheeks, and hazel eyes, sprang out
and hastened to meet them.

"Oh, father," she exclaimed, while the colour of her face came and went
fitfully, "I'm so glad you have come!  The natives have been so--so--"

"Not rude to you, Flora, surely?" interrupted the missionary.

"No, not exactly rude, but, but--"

Flora could not explain!  The fact turned out to be that, never having
seen any woman so wonderfully and bewitchingly beautiful before, the
natives had crowded uninvited into the cottage, and there, seated on
their hams round the walls, quietly gazed at her to their hearts'
content--utterly ignorant of the fact that they were violating the rules
of polite society!

Will Osten, to his disgrace be it said, violated the same rules in much
the same way, for he continued to gaze at Flora in rapt admiration until
Mr Westwood turned to introduce her to him.

That same evening Bukawanga, accompanied by Thackombau, went to the
mountain-cave, and, having explained to its occupants the altered state
of things at the village, brought them down to the mission-house where
they took up their abode.

It need scarcely be said that they were hospitably received.  Mr
Westwood had not met with countrymen for many months, and the mere sight
of white faces and the sound of English voices were pleasant to him.  He
entertained them with innumerable anecdotes of his experiences and
adventures as a missionary, and on the following morning took them out
to see the church, which had just been begun.

"Already," said Mr Westwood, as they were about to set forth after
breakfast, "my wife and Flora have got up a class of women and girls, to
whom they teach needle-work, and we have a large attendance of natives
at our meetings on the Sabbath.  A school also has been started, which
is managed by a native teacher who came with me from the island of
Raratonga, and most of the boys in the village attend it."

"But it does seem to me, sir," said Captain Dall, as they sauntered
along, "that needle-work and book-learning can be of no use to such
people."

"Not of much just now, captain, but these are only means to a great end.
Already, you see, they are beginning to be clothed--fantastically
enough at present, no doubt--and I hope ere long to see them in their
right mind, through the blessed influence of the Bible.  Look there," he
added, pointing to an open space in the forest, where the four walls of
a large wooden building were beginning to rise; "there is evidence of
what the gospel of Jesus Christ can do.  The labourers at that building
are, many of them, bitter enemies to each other.  Only yesterday we
succeeded in getting some of the men of the neighbouring village to come
and help us.  After much persuasion they agreed, but they work with
their weapons in their hands, as you see."

This was indeed the case.  The men who had formerly been enemies were
seen assisting to build the same church.  They took care, however, to
work as far from each other as possible, and were evidently distrustful,
for clubs and spears were either carried in their hands, or placed
within reach, while they laboured.

Fortunately, however, they restrained their passions at that time, and
it is due to them to add that before that church was finished their
differences were made up, and they, with all the others, ultimately
completed the work in perfect harmony, without thinking it necessary to
bring their clubs or spears with them.

The reader must not suppose that all missionary efforts in the South
Seas have been as quickly successful as this one.  The records of that
interesting region tell a very different tale; nevertheless there are
many islands in which the prejudices of the natives were overcome almost
at the commencement, and where heathen practices seemed to melt away at
once before the light of the glorious gospel.

During two months, Wandering Will and the wrecked seamen remained here
assisting the missionary in his building and other operations.  Then an
event occurred which sent them once more afloat, and broke the spell of
their happy and busy life among the islanders.



CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

CONTAINS MORE THAN ONE SURPRISE, AND TOUCHES ON "LOVE'S YOUNG DREAM."

One quiet and beautiful Sabbath morning, the inhabitants of the South
Sea Island village wended their way to the House of God which they had
so recently erected.  Among them were Will Osten and his friends, with
the clergyman's wife and daughter.

Poor Wandering Will was very unhappy.  The sunshine was bright, the
natives were blithe, and the birds were joyous, but our hero was
despondent!  The fact was that he had fallen head and ears in love with
Flora Westwood, and he felt that he might as well have fallen in love
with the moon--as far as any chance of getting married to her was
concerned.  Will was therefore very miserable, and, like all ardent and
very youthful lovers, he hugged his misery to his bosom--rather enjoyed
it, in fact, than otherwise.  In short, if truth must be told, he took
pleasure in being miserable _for her sake_!  When he allowed himself to
take romantic views of the subject, and thought of the heights of bliss
that _might_ be attained, he was, so to speak, miserably happy.  When he
looked the stern realities in the face, he was miserably sad.

That Sabbath morning poor Will felt more impressed than ever with the
hopelessness of his case, as he walked slowly and silently to church
beside the modest Flora and her mother.  He also became impressed with
the ridiculousness of his position, and determined to "overcome his
weakness."  He therefore looked at Flora with the intention of cutting a
joke of some sort, but, suddenly recollecting that it was Sunday, he
checked himself.  Then he thought of getting into a serious talk, and
was about to begin, when his eye happened to fall on Thackombau, who, in
honour of the day, had got himself up with unusual care, having covered
his shoulders with a cotton jacket, his loins with a lady's shawl, and
his head with a white night-cap--his dark tatooed legs forming a curious
and striking contrast to the whole.

Before Will could think of another mode of opening the conversation,
they had arrived at the church, and here, in front of the open door,
there lay the most singular contribution that ever was offered to the
cause of Christianity.  Many dozens of church-door plates rolled into
one enormous trencher would have been insufficient to contain it, for it
was given not in money (of course) but in kind.  There were a number of
lengths of hollow bamboo containing cocoa-nut oil, various fine mats and
pieces of native cloth, and sundry articles of an ornamental character,
besides a large supply of fruits and vegetables, with four or five baked
pigs, cold and ready for table!  The entire pile was several feet in
diameter and height, and was a freewill offering of the natives to the
church--the beginning of a liberality which was destined in future years
to continue and extend--a species of liberality which is by no means
uncommon among the South Sea Islanders, for there are some of those who
were savage idolators not many years ago who now give annually and
largely to the support of the missions with which their churches are
connected.

Larry O'Hale had just made a remark in reference to "the plate" which
was not conducive to the gravity of his companions, when the echoes of
the mountains were awakened by a cannon-shot, and a large ship was seen
to round the point of land that stretched out to the westward of the
island.  Instantly the natives poured out of the church, rushed down to
the shore, launched their canoes and paddled over the lagoon to meet the
vessel, which, running before a stiff breeze, soon entered the natural
gateway in the reef.  The congregation having dispersed thus
unceremoniously, the clergyman and his friends were compelled to
postpone service for a time.

The ship which had created such a sensation in the village, was also the
means of causing great disturbance in sundry breasts, as shall be seen.
She had called for water.  Being in a hurry, her captain had resolved
not to waste time by conciliating the natives, but, rather, to frighten
them away by a cannonade of blank cartridge, land a strong party to
procure water while they were panic-stricken, and then up anchor and
away.  His surprise was great, therefore, when the natives came
fearlessly off to him (for he had been warned to beware of them), and he
was about to give them a warm reception, when he caught a glimpse of the
small spire of the new church, which at once explained the cause of the
change.

With rollicking good humour--for he was a strong healthy man with a
sleeping conscience--Captain Blathers, on landing, swaggered up to the
clergyman and shook him heartily and gratefully by the hand, exclaiming,
with a characteristic oath, that he had not much opinion of religion in
his own country, but he was bound to say it was "a first-rate
institootion in the South Seas."

Mr Westwood rebuked the oath and attempted to correct the erroneous
opinion, but Captain Blathers laughed, and said he knew nothing about
these matters, and had no time for anything but getting fresh water just
then.  He added that he had "a batch of noosepapers, which he'd send
ashore for the use of all and sundry."

Accordingly, off he went about his business, and left the clergyman and
natives to return to church, which they all did without delay.

That night the missionary went on board the ship to see the captain and
preach to the crew.  While he was thus engaged, our friends, Captain
Dall, Mr Cupples, O'Hale, Muggins, and Wandering Will, in a retired
part of the forest, held an earnest conversation as to whether they
should avail themselves of the arrival of the ship to quit the island.
Captain Dall had already spoken with Captain Blathers, who said he was
quite willing to let them work their passage to England.

"Now, you see, comrades," said Captain Dall, thrusting his right fist
into his left palm, "the only trouble is, that he's not goin' direct
home--got to visit the coast of South America and San Francisco first,
an' that will make it a long voyage."

"But, sure," said Larry, "it won't be so long as waitin' here till next
year for the missionary schooner, and then goin' a viage among the
islands before gettin' a chance of boording a homeward-bound ship?"

"That's so," said Muggins, with a nod of approval.  "I says go, ov
coorse."

Mr Cupples also signified that this was his opinion.

"And what says the doctor?" asked Captain Dall, turning to Will Osten
with an inquiring look.

"Eh? well, ah!" exclaimed Will, who had been in a reverie, "I--I don't
exactly see my way to--that is--if we only could find out if she is--is
to remain here _always_, or hopes some day to return to England--"

Poor Will stopped in sudden confusion and blushed, but as it was very
dark that did not matter much.

"What _does_ the man mean?" exclaimed Captain Dall.  "How _can_ she
remain here always when she's to be off at daybreak--?"

"True, true," interrupted Will hurriedly, not sorry to find that his
reference to Flora was supposed to be to the ship.  "The fact is, I was
thinking of other matters--of _course_ I agree with you.  It's too good
an opportunity to be missed, so, good-night, for I've enough to do to
get ready for such an abrupt departure."

Saying this, he started up and strode rapidly away.

"Halloo!" shouted Larry after him; "don't be late--be on the baich at
daybreak.  Arrah he's gone mad intirely."

"Ravin'," said Muggins, with a shake of his head as he turned the quid
in his cheek.

Meanwhile Wandering Will rushed he knew not whither, but a natural
impulse led him, in the most natural way, to the quiet bay, which he
knew to be Flora's favourite walk on moonlight nights!  The poor youth's
brain was whirling with conflicting emotions.  As he reached the bay,
the moon, strange to say, broke forth in great splendour, and revealed--
what!--could it be?--yes, the graceful figure of Flora!  "Never
venture," thought Will, "never--"

In another moment he was by her side; he seized her hand; she started,
suppressed a scream, and tried to free her hand, but Will held it fast.
"Forgive me, Flora, dearest girl," he said in impassioned tones, "I
would not dare to act thus, but at daybreak I leave this island, perhaps
for ever! yet I _cannot_ go without telling you that I love you to
distraction, that--that--oh! say tell me--"

At that moment he observed that Flora blushed, smiled in a peculiar
manner, and, instead of looking in his face, glanced over his shoulder,
as if at some object behind him.  Turning quickly round, he beheld
Thackombau, still decked out in his Sunday clothes, gazing at them in
open-mouthed amazement.

Almost mad with rage, Will Osten rushed at him.  The astonished savage
fled to the woods, Will followed, and in a few minutes lost himself!
How he passed that night he never could tell; all that he could be sure
of was that he had wandered about in distraction, and emerged upon the
shore about daybreak.  His appointment suddenly recurring to him, he ran
swiftly in the direction of the village.  As he drew near he observed a
boat pushing off from the shore.

"Howld on!" shouted a well-known voice; "sure it's himself after all."

"Come along, young sir, you're late, and had well-nigh lost your
passage," growled Captain Blathers.

Will jumped into the boat and in a few minutes found himself on board
the _Rover_, which, by the time he reached it, was under weigh and
making for the opening in the reef.

Another hour, and the island was a mere speck on the horizon.  Gradually
it faded from view; and the good ship, bending over to the freshening
breeze, bounded lightly away over the billows of the mighty sea.

THE END.





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