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´╗┐Title: Adrift in a Boat
Author: Kingston, William Henry Giles, 1814-1880
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Adrift in a Boat" ***

Adrift in a Boat, by W.H.G. Kingston.


This is not a very long book, but the story is a good one.  Several
families have met together to have a picnic on a pleasant local beach.
To everyone's delight they are joined by Harry Merryweather, a
midshipman home on leave.  Harry and another youth, David Moreton, go
for a wander round the rocks, but are cut off by the strong tide.  The
weather then turns very nasty, but the boys are able to swim to a
passing boat containing an old man, Jefferies, and his young grandson,
Tristram.  The weather is now so bad they can't get back to the local
harbour at Penmore.

There is an accident and young Tristram is lost overboard, and drowned.

They see a vessel, a brig, on her way down channel, but when they get to
her they find she is an abandoned wreck.  More bad weather.  They are
seen by a schooner about some bad business, who opens fire, probably to
destroy an unwanted witness to some crime.  The brig is sinking.  They
make a raft.  Old Jefferies dies.  They are picked up by a French
schooner, which turns out to be a privateer.  At this point the story
gets even more convoluted, and you will have to read the book to see
what happens next, and how the boys eventually get home.





Few parts of the shores of old England present more beautiful and
romantic scenery than is to be found on the coast of Cornwall.  There
are deep bays, and bold headlands, and wild rocks, and lofty cliffs, and
wooded heights, and bare downs, and yellow sands full of the most minute
and delicate shells, so delicate that it is surprising how they could
have existed in the rough and boisterous ocean, and been cast up whole
from the depths below.  In one of those beautiful bays, many years ago,
a large party was collected, on a bright afternoon in the early part of
autumn.  Among the party were persons of all ages, but most of them were
young, and all were apparently very busy.  Some were engaged in tending
a fire over which a pot was boiling, and others were collecting
drift-wood thrown up close under the cliff, with which to feed it.  Two
or three young ladies, under the superintendence of a venerable matron,
were spreading a tablecloth, though the sand looked so smooth and clear
that it did not seem as if the most dainty of people could have required
one.  Several were very eager in unpacking sundry hampers and baskets,
and in carrying the dishes and plates, and bottles of wine, and the
numerous other articles which they contained, to the tablecloth.  Two
young ladies had volunteered to go with a couple of pails to fetch water
from a spring which gushed out of the cliff, cool and fresh, at some
distance off, and two young gentlemen had offered to go and, assist
them, which was very kind in the young gentlemen, as they certainly
before had not thought of troubling themselves about the matter.  To be
sure the young ladies were very pretty and very agreeable, and it is
possible that their companions might not have considered the trouble
over-excessive.  The youngest members of the party were as busy as the
rest, close down to the water collecting the beautiful shells which have
been mentioned.  The shells were far too small to be picked up singly,
and they therefore came provided with sheets of thick letter-paper, into
which they swept them from off the sand where they had been left by the
previous high tide.  A loud shout from a hilarious old gentleman, who
had constituted himself director of the entertainment, and who claimed
consequently the right of making more noise than anybody else, or indeed
than all the rest put together, now summoned them up to the tablecloth,
to which at the sound, with no lingering steps, they came, exhibiting
their treasures on their arrival to their older friends.  The party
forthwith began to seat themselves round the ample tablecloth, but they
took up a good deal more room than had it been spread on a table.  The
variety of attitudes they assumed was amusing.  The more elderly ladies
sat very upright, with their plates on their laps; the younger ones who
had gone for the water, and their friends of the same age, managed to
assume more graceful attitudes; while the young men who had been to
school and college, and had read how the Romans took their meals,
stretched themselves out at the feet of the former, leaning on their
elbows, and occasionally, when not actually engaged in conveying ham and
chicken or pie to their mouths, giving glances at the bright and
laughing eyes above them.  The hilarious old gentleman tried kneeling,
that he might carve a round of beef placed before him, but soon found
that attitude anything but pleasant to his feelings; then he sat with
one side to the cloth, then with the other.  At last he scraped a trench
in the sand sufficient to admit his outstretched legs, and, placing the
beef before him, carved vigorously away till all claimants were
supplied.  The younger boys and girls, tucking their legs under them
like Turks, speedily bestowed their undivided attention to the task of
stowing away the good things spread out before their eyes.

"This is jolly, don't you think so, Mary?" exclaimed a fine boy of about
fourteen to a pretty little girl who sat next to him; "there is only one
thing wanting to make it perfect--Harry Merryweather ought to be here.
He wrote word that he expected to be with us this morning, and I told
him where the picnic was to take place, that should he be too late to
get home, he might come here direct.  Oh, he is such a capital fellow,
and now that he is in the navy, and has actually been in a battle, he
will have so much to tell us about."

Mary Rymer fully agreed with David Moreton, for Harry was a favourite
with every one who knew him.  Although Harry Merryweather had not
arrived for the picnic, his friends appeared to be enjoying themselves
very much, judging by the smiles and giggling and the chattering, and
the occasional shouts of laughter which arose when old Mr Tom Sowton,
and florid, fat Mr Billy Burnaby, uttered some of their jokes.  Not
that they were the only people who uttered good things, but they were
professed jokers, and seemed to consider it their duty to make people
merry; Mr Burnaby, indeed, if he could not make people laugh at what he
said, made them laugh at what he did.

The party had come from various quarters in the neighbourhood, some from
a distance inland, in carriages, and two or three families who lived on
or near the coast, in two pretty yachts, which lay at anchor in the bay.
One of them belonged to Mr Moreton, David's father, and the other to
Captain Rymer, with whose family David was as much at home as with his
own; and he and his sisters looked upon Mary, Captain Rymer's daughter,
quite in the light of a sister.  She was, indeed, a very charming little
girl, well worthy of their affections.  The first course of the picnic
was concluded--that is to say, the chickens, and hams, and pies, and
cold beef, and tongues, and a few other substantials were pushed back;
the potatoes, which had been boiled in salt water, having been
pronounced excellent.  The tarts and cakes and fruit, peaches and figs
and grapes, were brought to the front, and underwent the admiration they
deserved, when suddenly David Moreton, looking up, raised a loud shout,
and, jumping to his feet, clapped his hands and waved them vehemently.
The shout was echoed in different keys by many others, and all turning
their eyes in the direction David was pointing, they saw, on the top of
the cliff a boy, on whose jacket and cap the glitter of a little gold
lace and his snow-white trousers proclaimed him to be that hero in
embryo, a midshipman.  Having looked about him for a few seconds, he
began to descend the cliff at so seemingly breakneck a speed, that
several of the ladies shrieked out to him to take care, and Mary Rymer
turned somewhat pale and stood looking anxiously as the young sailor
dropped from one point of rock to another, or slid down a steep incline,
or swung himself by the branches of shrubs or tufts of grass to the
ledge below him, and ran along it as if it had been a broad highway,
though a false step might have proved his destruction.  Once he stopped.
To go back was impossible, and to attempt to descend seemed almost
certain destruction.  Mr Sowton and Billy Burnaby jumped up, almost
dragging away the tablecloth, upsetting tarts, and fruit-dishes, and
bottles of wine, and all the other things, when Harry gave a tremendous
spring to a ledge which his sharp eye had detected, and was in a few
seconds afterwards standing safe on the sands and shaking hands warmly
with everybody present.  When he came to Mr Tom Sowton and Billy
Burnaby, it might have been supposed from the way in which they wrung
each other's hands, that there was a wager pending as to which should
first twist off his friend's fist.

"Fortunately, we haven't eaten up all the good things, Harry," exclaimed
Mr Sowton, dragging the midshipman, nothing loth, to the well-spread
cloth.  "Now open your mouth, and Burnaby and I will try and feed you.
What will you have first,--beef, or pudding, or a peach, or a tongue, or
a cold chicken?  Oh dear me, there is but a drumstick and a merrythought
left.  Which will you have?  No!  I see I am wrong again, the drumstick
is in the dish, and the merrythought is in my head, with numerous
companions.  Does anybody wish to know what they are?  I'll fill my
naval friend's plate first with cold beef and mustard, and then inform
you."  Thus the old gentleman ran on.  He kept his word with regard to
Harry, who very soon by diligent application caught up the rest of the
party, and was able to commence on the tarts and peaches.  All the
gentlemen asked him to take wine, and the ladies were eager to hear his
adventures.  He briefly recounted them in an animated manner, for as he
had been little more than a year at sea, everything he had seen and done
had the freshness of novelty.  He belonged to the gallant _Arethusa_
frigate, which had put into Plymouth from a successful cruise in the Bay
of Biscay, where, after capturing several minor prizes of considerable
value, she had taken an enemy's frigate of equal force.  He had
consequently got leave for a few days to come home and see his widowed
mother.  He was her only son; her husband had been an officer in the
army, and was killed in battle; her daughter Jane could never be induced
to leave her, but they had promised to send Harry on to the picnic after
he had indulged them with a little of his society.  He had come by a
chance conveyance, knowing that he should be able to return with some of
his friends.

In those days it was the custom to sit long after dinner, and even at a
picnic people consumed a considerable amount of time round the cloth.
At length, however, they got up and broke into separate parties.  Some
went in one direction, some in another.  The elders were more inclined
to sit still, or went only a little way up the cliff; but several of the
grown-up young ladies and gentlemen climbed up by somewhat steep paths
to the downs above.  The younger ones, the tide being low, very
naturally preferred scrambling out on the rocks in search of
sea-anemones, and other marine curiosities.  There were numerous
projecting rocks forming small bays in the large bay, and thus
completely hiding the different parties from each other.  No two boys
could have had a more sincere regard for each other than had David
Moreton and Harry Merryweather.  David was longing to go to sea with
Harry, but his father was greatly averse to his going.  He was the
eldest son, and heir to a large property.  As the boys had been
separated for so long a time (long in their lives), they had a great
deal to say to each other.  They consequently strolled away, forgetting
what Mary Rymer or the rest of their fair companions might have thought
of their gallantry, in and out along the sands, round the points and
over the rocks, till they had got to a considerable distance from the
place where the picnic had been held.  A dry rock, high above the water,
which they could reach by going along a ledge connecting it with the
mainland, tempted them to scramble out to it.  There they chose a nice
cosy, dry nook, where, sitting down, the water immediately around them
was hidden from their sight.  This circumstance must be remembered.  It
was very delightful.  They had not yet said one-half of what they had
got to say to each other, so they sat on talking eagerly, looking out
seaward and watching the white sails which glided by coming up channel
in the distant horizon.  David was so delighted with the accounts Harry
gave him, that he resolved to make a further attempt to induce his
father to allow him to go to sea.  It must be owned that Harry, full of
life and happiness himself, had pictured only the bright side of
everything.  He had described the courage and determination to win with
which he and his shipmates had gone into action, and the enthusiasm and
delight they had felt on gaining the victory and capturing the prize;
but he forgot to speak of the death of some cut down in their prime, and
the wounds and sufferings of others, many maimed and crippled for life.
Thus they talked on without marking how the time went by.  Harry's
watch, which he had locked up carefully before going into action, had
been destroyed by a shot which had knocked the desk and everything in it
to pieces; and David had forgotten to wind his up.  Suddenly it occurred
to them that the sun was getting very low, and that it was high time for
them to return.

They jumped up to scramble back over the rock, but no sooner had they
done so than Harry cried out, "We are caught!" and David exclaimed, "The
tide has risen tremendously, how shall we get to the shore?"

"Swim there," answered Harry; "I see no other way.  If we were to shout
ever so loud we should not be heard, and I do not suppose any one knows
where we are."  By this time they had got to the inner end of the rock,
where they found that the distance between them and the shore was not
only considerable, but that a strong current swept round the rock, and
that though before the sea had been calm, it had got up somewhat, and
caused a surf to break on the shore.  What was to be done?  David was a
first-rate swimmer, and would not have had much difficulty by himself in
stemming the current, and landing through the surf; but Harry, though a
sailor, had not learned that art before he went to sea, and could swim
very little.  It is extraordinary how many sailors in those days could
not swim, and lost their lives in consequence.  They stood looking at
the foaming, swirling waters, not knowing what to do.

"I would try it," said Harry at length, "but I am afraid if I were to
give in that I should drown you as well as myself."

"I think that I might support you, and we should drift in somewhere a
little further down, perhaps," said David.

"Much more likely that we should be swept out to sea," answered Harry.
"No, no, David, that will never do.  You can swim on shore before the
surf gets heavier, and your father or Captain Rymer will send a boat for
me very soon."

"But these are spring tides, and if the sea gets up at all, it will soon
wash right over this rock," said David.

"The more reason for you to hurry to get a boat from the yachts,"
observed the midshipman.

While they were speaking, they observed the two yachts, which had
hitherto been hid by a point of land, standing out to sea.  They had
come from the east with a fine northerly smooth water breeze, but the
wind had drawn off shore to the east, and as the tide was at flood
running up channel, the vessels had stood off shore to get the full
strength of it.  This the boys at once understood, but how they should
have gone off without them was the puzzle.  Matters were growing
serious.  Even should David reach the shore, he might not find a boat,
and it was a long way he feared from any house where he could get help,
so that Harry might be lost before he could get back.  They retraced
their steps to the highest part of the rock, and waved and shouted, even
though they knew that their voices could not be heard, but the yachts
stood on at some distance from each other; it should be remarked,
Captain Rymer's leading.  It was evident that they were not seen.  The
hot tide came rushing in, rising higher and higher.  Both the boys
became very anxious, David more on his friend's account than his own.
So many persons have lost their lives much in the same way, that it
seemed probable the two boys would lose theirs.

We must now go back to the picnic party.  Mr Sowton and Mr Burnaby,
and a few of the other more elderly ladies and gentlemen, began at
length to think it time to return home.  The hampers were repacked and
carried, some up the cliffs by the servants, and others on board the
yachts; and Mr Sowton and Billy Burnaby acting, as they said, as
whippers-in, began shouting and screeching at the top of their voices.
Captain Rymer and Mr Moreton had gone on board their vessels to get
ready, and thus there was no one actually in command.  The boats to take
off the party were rather small, and several trips had to be made.  In
the meantime, those who were returning home by land climbed up the steep
path to the top of the cliff, where their carriages were waiting for
them.  When they were fairly off, each party inquired what had become of
Harry and David.  Captain Rymer's yacht, the _Arrow_, was off the first,
for the _Psyche_, Mr Moreton's, fouled her anchor, and it was some time
before it could be got up.

Mr Moreton thought that his son, and the young midshipman had,
attracted by sweet Mary Rymer, gone on board the _Arrow_; while Mary,
who, it must be owned, was rather sorry not to see them, took it for
granted that Harry was returning, as he had come, by land, and that
David had gone with him.

The yachts had a long beat back.  As they got away from the land, the
wind increased very much, and came in strong sharp cold gusts which made
it necessary first to take in the gaff-topsails, and then one reef and
then another in the mainsails.  As the wind increased the sea got up,
and the little vessels, more suited to fine weather than foul, had hard
work to look up to the rising gale.  Still there was no help for it.
The tide helped them along, but by its meeting the wind much more sea
was knocked up than if both had been going the same way.  Had such been
the case, the vessels could not have made good their passage.  Darkness
coming on made matters worse: poor old Mr Sowton became wonderfully
silent, and Mr Burnaby, who was sitting on the deck of the cabin,
holding on by the leg of the table, looked the very picture of woe.
Mary Rymer, who was well accustomed to yachting, and a few others, kept
up their spirits, though all hailed with no little satisfaction the
lights which showed the entrance to Pencliffe harbour, into which they
were bound.

Mr Moreton's party had been at home some time, and most of the family
had retired to their rooms, when they began to wonder why David had not

"He is probably still at the Rymers', or has accompanied Harry to Mrs
Merryweather's," said Mrs Moreton to her husband; still, as night drew
on, she became somewhat anxious.  Her anxiety increased when a servant
came with a message from Mrs Merryweather to inquire why Mr Harry did
not come home.

Mr Moreton himself now became even more anxious than his wife.  Neither
his daughters, nor some friends staying with them, remembered seeing
either Harry or David for some time before they embarked.

Mr Moreton, putting on a thick coat, for it was now blowing very hard,
went off to Captain Rymer's house, which was close down to the bay,
accompanied by Mrs Merryweather's servant, and greatly alarmed the
family by asking for his son and Harry.

"Why, did they not come back with you?" asked the captain.  "No, we
thought they were on board the _Arrow_," answered Mr Moreton.  "They
may have gone with the Trevanians, but I do not think that Harry would
have failed to come back to his mother.  I will go back and see her.
They must have set off by land, and there may have been an upset or a
break-down.  It will be all right tomorrow."

The morrow, however, came, but the boys did not appear.  Mr Moreton
therefore rode over early to the Trevanians, but they knew nothing of
the boys.

He now became seriously alarmed.  As it was blowing too hard to go by
sea, he sent a messenger to say that he should not be home for some
hours, and continued on to the bay where the picnic had been held.  Then
he made inquiries at the nearest cottages, but no one had seen his son
or Harry Merryweather.  He went from cottage to cottage in vain, making

At last a fisherman suggested that the beach should be searched.  Mr
Moreton at once set out with a party quickly assembled to perform the
anxious task, dreading to find the mangled body of his son and his brave
young friend.  No signs of them could be found.  Still his anxiety was
in no respect lessened.

He stopped on his way back at one cottage which he had not before
visited.  He found the inmate, an old woman, in deep affliction.  Her
husband, old Jonathan Jefferies, a fisherman, when out on his calling,
had perished during the gale in the night.  He could sympathise with
her, and as far as money help was concerned, he promised all in his
power.  With an almost broken heart he returned home to give the sad
news to his wife and family.

Poor Mrs Merryweather, she was even still more to be pitied.  To have
her son restored to her, and then to find him snatched away again so
suddenly, perhaps for ever!

Day after day passed by, and no news came of the much-loved missing



"David, you must try to swim on shore, and save yourself," exclaimed
Harry Merryweather, looking at the foaming seas, which now began, with a
deafening noise, to dash furiously round the rock on which he and his
friend stood.  "If you don't go soon, you will not be able to get there
at all.  Leave me, I beg you.  There is no reason why both should be

"No indeed, that I will not," answered David, stoutly.  "If I thought
that I could get help by trying to swim on shore I would go, but I do
not think there is a place near where I could find a boat."

Harry did not speak for a minute or two.

At last he put his hand on David's shoulder, and said, "I ask you again
to swim on shore by yourself.  I will pray for you as you are swimming,
and you shall pray for me when you reach the beach.  My dear mother
taught me to pray when I was a child, and she has ever shown to me that
God hears all faithful prayers, and in His good time grants them; so
that I have always prayed since I went to sea, both when I was turning
into my hammock, and when I was turning out; and I knew that my mother
was praying for me too, for she is always praying for me; and I know
that God hears those prayers, so you see that makes me very brave.  I am
sure that I can trust Him."

"I am so glad to hear you say that," answered David.  "My father was
teaching us just the same thing after reading the Bible at prayers the
other night.  It's true--it's true, I know."

"Then trust to Him, and do as I ask you," said Harry, earnestly.  "Take
off your jacket and shoes at all events--you will be back in time to
save them and me also."

"I don't like leaving you at all, but I will do as you wish," exclaimed
David, after a moment's further thought, taking off his jacket.  As he
did so he turned his head round seaward.  "Hillo!--why, there is a
boat," he exclaimed.  "She is under sail, standing this way."

The boys together sprang back to the highest part of the rock, and David
still holding his jacket waved it vehemently.  It was a small
fishing-boat, beating up from the westward.  She was then standing in
for the land, and Harry, whose nautical knowledge was not as yet
by-the-bye very great, was doubtful where she would go about again
before she got near enough for those on board to see them.  All they
could do was to wave and wave, and to shout--though their shouting,
shrill as it was, would have been of no use.

David, who really knew more about boat-sailing than his naval friend,
expressed his opinion that she was beating up for the little
boat-harbour of Penmore, about two miles to the eastward.  How anxiously
they watched her, as the tide sweeping her along she drew nearer and
nearer!  The wind, having--as the expression is--backed into the
south-east, enabled her to lay up well along shore, or their hope of
being seen would have been small indeed.  For some minutes longer she
stood on almost directly for them; then at length she went about--high
time, too, for she was getting near the breakers.  Now was the moment
for them to shout and wave, for if they were now neither seen nor heard
they must abandon their hope of help from her, as by the next tack she
would be a long way to the eastward.  How eagerly they watched her!
Again and again they waved and shouted.

"Yes, see--she is about," cried Harry, joyfully.  He was right--the boat
was evidently standing towards them.  Harry, forgetting all past
dangers, shouted and danced for joy.  Life was very sweet to him.  He
thought nothing of the ordinary risk of losing it which he was every day
running--but this was out of the way, and he had almost made up his mind
that he should not escape.  There were two people in the boat--an old
man and a boy.  The sail was lowered, and getting out their oars they
approached the rock cautiously.  It would have been excessively
dangerous to get close, as a heavier sea than usual might have driven
the boat against the rock and dashed her to pieces.  This Harry and
David saw.  The old man stood up in the boat, and beckoned to them.  He
was shouting also, but the thundering noise of the sea against the rock
prevented them from hearing him.

"He wants us to swim out to the boats," said David.  "I am sure that I
could do it, and I will bring in a rope for you."

"Oh, I do not think that you could," answered Harry.  "The sea rolls in
so heavily that you would be driven back.  They might let the end of a
rope, made fast to a cork or a float of some sort, drift in, and haul us
off."  The plan was clearly a good one, and they made signals to the old
man to carry it out; but either he did not understand them, or had not a
rope long enough.

"I must go," cried David, throwing off his coat and shoes.  "Pray for
me, remember."  He had been watching his opportunity: a heavy sea had
just passed, and, before Harry could even say another word, slipping
down to the edge of the rock, he glided in, giving himself all the
impetus he could with his feet, and almost the next instant was
breasting a sea at some distance from the rock.  Harry watched him
anxiously, not forgetting to pray.  Now he seemed almost driven back,
and now a foam-crested sea rolling in looked as if it would inevitably
overwhelm him.  Alas! yes--he disappeared.

"He is lost--he is lost!" cried Harry.  But no.  Directly after he was
again seen on the surface, working his way up another advancing sea.

Harry was now guided chiefly by the gesticulations of the people in the
boat,--that is to say, by the way the old man waved a hand, or looked
out, for they had to keep their oars moving with all their might and
main to avoid being driven dangerously near the rock.  At length Harry,
with thankfulness, saw David close to the boat but she seemed to be
going from him--then the old man stood up--stretched out his arm, and
David, well-nigh exhausted, was dragged into the boat.  Harry saw that
he was talking to the old man.

"What will he do?  I hope that he will not attempt to swim back to the
rock," thought Harry; yet he felt very sure that he should never reach
the boat by himself.  As the boat rose on the top of a wave, Harry saw
that David was employed in fastening several ropes together.  The task
which the old man and the boy could not perform, as they were obliged to
continue rowing, he was able to do.  Harry saw him very busy in the
bottom of the boat, and now he lifted a water-cask into the sea, and
veered away the rope over the stern.  For some time Harry did not regain
sight of the cask; at last he saw it on the top of a sea, but still a
long way from the rock.  He watched it anxiously; but still he doubted
whether he should be able to get hold of it.  It might, even if it
reached the rock, be dashed to pieces.  He got down as close to the
water as he dared go, for the seas were dashing so high up the rock that
he might easily be carried away by them--indeed, he was already wet
through and through with the spray, which was flying in dense sheets
over the rock, and in a few minutes more it seemed to him that it would
be completely overwhelmed--indeed, any moment a sea might sweep over it.
Harry had a brave heart, and as long as he had life was not likely to
lose courage.  He showed his coolness, indeed, for believing that the
cask would soon reach him, he deliberately tied David's jacket and shoes
round his waist, that he might have the pleasure of restoring them to
him.  He had observed how David slipped into the water.  There came the
cask, nearer and nearer.  Before it had time to touch the rock, he slid
down into the sea, and struck out boldly for it, and throwing his arms
over it caught the rope to which it was made fast, and drew himself up
till his chest rested on it.

He then shouted at the top of his voice, "Haul in--all right."  David,
however, could not hear him: but having watched him with intense
eagerness, now began slowly to haul in the rope, while the old man and
boy pulled the boat further off the rock.  Harry held firmly on, though
he almost lost his breath by the waters, which dashed in his face.  He
kept his senses, however, and had the wisdom to strike out with all his
might with his feet, which greatly helped him on, and took off the drag
from his arms which they would otherwise have felt.

As he rose to the top of a sea he again shouted out every now and then,
"All right--haul away."  He was, however, not much inclined to shout by
the time he got up to the stern of the boat.  David, with the help of
the old man, then quickly hauled him on board.

"And you have brought me my jacket and shoes," exclaimed David, gladly
putting them on, for he felt very cold directly the exertions he had
just gone through ceased.  The boys sincerely thanked God in their
hearts that they were saved--though but a very few audible words of
thanksgiving were uttered.  No time, indeed, was to be lost in getting
away from the rock.

The old man told David to go to the helm.  "And you other young master
take my oar and pull with all your might, while I sets the sails," he
added.  A sprit-mainsail, much the worse for wear, and a little rag of a
foresail were soon set.  It was as much sail as the boat in the rising
gale could carry, and away she flew seaward.  The old man took the helm,
and the boy, who had not spoken, laid in his oar, and facing forward,
put his hand on the foresheet to be ready to go about when the word was
given.  The boat was somewhat old and battered, like its master,--the
rigging especially seemed in a bad condition.

The old man saw the boys examining her, and divined their thoughts.
"She's not like one of your fine-painted yachts, young masters; but she
has helped to save your lives, and she'll serve my time, I'm pretty sure
of that," he observed.  "She'll be tried, howsomever, not a little
to-night, I'm thinking.  We were late as it was coming up from `Put off
shoal,' and this work with you made us still later, so that we shall
have to be thankful if we get into Penmore harbour before the tide

"She is a good boat, no doubt, and at all events we are most thankful to
you for having by her means saved our lives," said David; and Harry
repeated what he had said.

"No, young masters, it wasn't I saved you, it was God.  Don't thank me.
Man can do no good thing of himself, you know, and I couldn't have saved
you if it hadn't been His will."  The fishing-boat went careering on
over the foaming seas, guided by the skilful hand of the old man.  It is
surprising how much sea a small boat with good beam will go through when
well managed.  The old man was far more loquacious than the young one,
who sat quite still forward, only every now and then turning his face
aside as the spray dashed in it, and shaking the water from his

To the boys' inquiry of the old man to which place he belonged, "Little
better than a mile to the eastward of where I took you aboard," he
replied; "but when the wind blows as it does now, there's no place for
landing nearer than Penmore harbour.  That matters nothing, as we get a
good market for our fish near there, and we have a good lot to sell, you
see."  He pointed to the baskets in the centre of the boat, well filled
with mackerel and several other kinds of fish.  He told them that his
name was Jonathan Jefferies, that he had married a Cornish woman, and
settled in the parish, and that the lad was his grandson.  "Not quite
right up there," he remarked, touching his forehead; "but he is a good
lad, and knows how to do his duty.  We call him Tristram Torr, for he is
our daughter's son.  She is dead, poor thing, and his father was lost at
sea, we suppose, for he went away and never came back."

The old man thus continued giving scraps of his family history, till the
gloom of evening gave way to the darkness of night.  His chief regret at
being out so late was that his old woman would be looking for him, as he
had told her that he expected to be home earlier than usual.  The darker
it grew the less talkative, however, he became; indeed, all his
attention was taken up in steering, for with the darkness the wind and
sea increased, till the boat could hardly look up to it.  At last Harry
and David began to suspect that though they had escaped from the rock,
they were in no small danger of being swamped, and thus, after all,
losing their lives.  Every now and then a heavy sea broke into the boat
and half filled her.  Still the boy Tristram said nothing, but turning
round took a bailer from under the thwart, and began energetically
bailing away.  Harry and David did the same with their hats, till old
Jefferies handed them a bucket, with which they more rapidly cleared the
boat.  They had to be quick about it, for scarcely was she free of water
than another sea came in and again half filled her.  It seemed also
pretty evident to them that instead of going to windward she was making
leeway, though, as the tide was still running to the eastward, she was
going in that direction.  The two boys were feeling thoroughly chilled
and uncomfortable; they were, of course, wet to the skin, and the wind
was strong and keen, and even when they sat down, by the old man's
advice, in the bottom of the boat, their legs were in water.  Still they
kept up their spirits, and when the water washed into the boat they were
glad to jump up and bail it out again.  Besides that they were in danger
of being swamped, it appeared to the midshipman and his friend that
there was a great risk of being run down.  Already two or three
phantom-like forms had suddenly appeared out of the darkness, and
gliding by were soon lost to sight.

The boy, however, had made no remark about them; suddenly he shouted,
"Grandfather, a sail on the weather-bow."

"About, then," cried the old man.  Harry and David looked out, and saw,
almost ahead of them, towering to the skies it seemed, a dark pyramid of

"She is a big ship running down channel," said Harry.  "She will be over
us! she will be over us!"  The boat was at that moment in stays, going
about.  Scarcely had he spoken, when there was a loud crack.  The mast
went by the board, and as it came down struck the old man on the head.
He would have fallen overboard had not Harry and David seized his coat
and dragged him in.

"Here, pull, masters," cried Tristram, trying to get out both the oars.
In doing so he let one of them go overboard; both would have gone had
not Harry, springing forward, seized the other.  But poor Tristram, in
endeavouring to regain the one he had lost, overbalanced himself, and
met the fate his grandfather had just escaped.  Harry threw the oar over
to the side on which he had fallen, but the poor lad in vain endeavoured
to clutch it.  There was a piercing cry; Harry thought he saw a hand
raised up through the darkness, and then he neither saw nor heard more.

How came it that the boy's cry did not rouse the grandfather?  Sad to
say, he lay without moving at the bottom of the boat.

"This is fearful," cried David, feeling the old man's face and hands; "I
am afraid that he is dead, and the poor lad gone too.  What are we to

"Keep the boat's head to the sea as long as we can with one oar, and
then up helm and run before the wind," answered Harry, who knew that
such was the way a big ship would be managed under similar
circumstances.  David sat at the helm, and Harry vigorously plied his
oar--now on one side, now on the other, and thus managed to keep the
boat from getting broadside to the sea.  It was very hard work, however,
and he felt that, even though relieved by David, it could not be kept up
all night.  Several times David felt the old man's face; it was still
warm, but there was no other sign of life.  The boat was broad and deep,
or she would very quickly have been turned over.  This, however, made
her very heavy to pull, while from the same cause the sea continually
washed into her.  At length they agreed that she must be put before the
wind.  They waited for a lull, and then getting her quickly round,
hoisted the jib, which had been before taken in, to the end of the
spreet, which they lashed to the stump of the mast.  The wind blew as
strong as ever, but the tide having turned there was less sea than
before, and thus away they went down channel, at a far greater rate than
they supposed.

"It is going to be only a summer gale," observed Harry.  "When the
morning comes we shall be easily able to rig a fore and aft sail, and
stand in for the shore.  The poor, good old man, I am very sorry for
him, and so I am for the boy; but for ourselves it does not so much
matter, except that we shall have to breakfast on raw fish, and perhaps
after all not get home to dinner.  My dear mother, too, and Jane, may be
frightened, and I don't like the thought of that."

"Yes, to be sure, I forgot that; I am afraid those at my home will be
frightened too, when they hear nothing of us," said David.  "One comfort
is, that we did not keep away intentionally, though, to be sure, it was
thoughtless of us to be caught by the tide as we were.  But don't let us
think of ourselves; better let us see what we can do for this poor old
man.  I believe that he is still alive, though how to bring him round I
don't know.  If we had any liquor to give him we might pour it down his
throat, but as we have nothing we must keep his head up and let him lay
quiet till daylight," said Harry.

David was thoroughly accustomed to boat-sailing, so that he was well
able to keep the boat dead before the wind.  The sea came curling up
astern, but none broke over her; had even one done so it would have sent
her to the bottom.  A very little conversation took place after this.
Only Harry, fearing that he and his friend might lose heart, every now
and then said something to keep up their spirits.  It was somewhat
forced, it must be owned, for they both saw that their position was very
critical.  The hours passed slowly by--now the one, now the other took
the helm.  Morning broke at last; they looked out, expecting to see the
land aboard on the starboard hand, but not a glimpse of land was
visible--nothing but sea and sky on every side around of a leaden grey
hue--not a streak in the horizon showed where the sun was rising.  They
could only guess by the wind the points of the compass.  Harry proposed
hauling up for where they supposed the land to be, but David considered
that such a proceeding would be dangerous, and that it would be safer to
run on till the weather moderated and they could get sail on the boat.
They neither of them sufficiently calculated the strength of the tide,
which, running for six hours, had carried them many miles to the
eastward.  The old man was alive, but sat perfectly still at the bottom
of the boat.  It seemed indeed doubtful if, after remaining in that
state so long, he would ever recover.  Their anxiety prevented them from
feeling hungry; indeed, as yet, they fancied that they could not bring
themselves to eat raw fish.  They now tried various means to bring the
old man to consciousness, by rubbing his hands and his feet, and
occasionally his forehead.  It is difficult to say whether these means
had any effect.  At length, at all events, he slowly opened his eyes;
then he closed them again, and they thought that he was dying.  Then
once more he opened them, and looked about him with a puzzled and pained
expression of countenance.  Now he gazed inquiringly at David--now at

"Where is Tristram? where is my grandson?" he asked, speaking very
slowly.  "Gone! gone! oh, don't say that.  What have you done with him,
my young masters?"

With sad hearts the boys told him how the accident had happened.

"Then may God take me to my boy, my poor boy," he exclaimed hiding his
face in his hands, and sinking back once more into the bottom of the



The gale continued blowing harder than ever, and had not the boat been
built especially to encounter heavy seas, she would very soon have been
swamped.  It was only by careful steering, indeed, that this could be
avoided, while the two boys took it by turns to bail out the water which
occasionally came in over the gunwale in rather alarming quantities.
Still they did not lose courage.  They, however, grew very hungry, and
began to look wistfully at the hamper of fish.

"I wish we had a stove of some sort, that we might cook some of these
fish," said David, holding up a mackerel.  "I am getting fearfully

"Just scrape off the scales and take out the inside of one of them, and
hand it to me," answered Harry, who was steering.  "I have seen seamen
eat raw fish, and raw meat too, and the islanders in the South Seas I
know do, so we must if we are not to starve."

David prepared the fish as directed, during the intervals of bailing.
Still he could not bring himself to eat any.  Harry's inside was more
seasoned.  A midshipman's berth in those days did not allow of any

"Just pour a little water into the tin mug, it will help it down," he
said, after he had taken a few mouthfuls of the fish.

They had found a tin mug, with a jar of fresh water.  They husbanded the
water carefully, and David poured out very little, lest it should be
jerked out of the mug as the boat was tossed about.  Harry dipped the
bits of fish into the water before eating them.  It took away somewhat
of the raw taste, he fancied.  Still he very soon came to an end of his

"I shall do better another time," he observed, putting the remainder of
the fish down by his side, and drinking up the water.

David sat for some time very silent, bailing out the water.  At last he
looked into the basket and took out a fish, which he began to scrape
with his knife.  He held it in one hand while he bailed with the other,
then he scraped a little more, and finally cleaned the fish completely.
He looked at it, his lips curled, as is often the case when a person is
about to take nauseous physic.  A pang came into his inside.  He could
stand the hunger no longer, and, putting the fish between his teeth, he
began to gnaw away at a great rate.  He far outdid Harry.  When the
water rose to the side of the boat, he dipped the fish into it.  It
added to the flavour, and made it more digestible.  The boys were
thankful that there was not much risk of their starving as long as the
fish kept good and the water lasted.  It was not food that would keep
them in health for any length of time; yet it stopped the pangs of
hunger, and that was a great thing.  All this time they were looking out
for some abatement in the gale, but not a break appeared in the mass of
dark lead-coloured clouds which formed a canopy above their heads,
reaching down to the horizon on every side.

"Whereabouts do you think we are?" asked David, after a long silence.

Harry thought for some time.

"Somewhere in the chops of the British Channel, to the westward of
Scilly, I fear," he answered.  "Possibly, if the wind shifts to the
southward, we may get driven up the Irish Channel, and then it will be a
tremendous time before we get home; I may be wrong, but I fear not."

"That's what I think too," said David.  "I wish that the old man was
sensible.  We might consult him what to do."

Old Jefferies, however, continued in the same unconscious state as
before.  They had some hope of getting assistance from any vessels which
might pass them, but though they saw a number at a distance gliding
quickly by, not one came near them.  On they drove, further and further
they feared from land.  Again darkness came on.  They were very drowsy,
but they feared, should they yield to sleep, that the boat would be
swamped.  Harry had, he said, more practice in keeping awake, so he
insisted that David should lie down on one of the thwarts and take an
hour's rest, while he could steer and bail out at the same time.

"I can manage it," answered David, with a yawn, stretching himself out
on a seat, and in less than half a minute he was sound asleep.

Poor Harry had very hard work to keep awake.  He could not venture to
remain sitting.  More than once his eyes closed.  Phantom shapes passed
before his eyes, strange sounds came into his ears, shrieks, cries, and
groans; sometimes he heard, he thought, shouts from afar.  His brain
swam round.  In another instant he would have lost all consciousness.
He had to spring to his feet, and to bail away with one hand while he
held the tiller with the other.  He would not venture to sit down again;
indeed, the high, green, rolling, froth-topped seas, by which he was
surrounded, were sufficient to keep him awake.  At last, putting down
the skid, he looked at his watch.  It was past six o'clock.  David had
slept more than his allotted hour, and yet he could scarcely bring
himself to awake him.

"Poor fellow, he is not so accustomed to this sort of work as I am," he
said to himself.  "After that long swim, too, he requires rest, and had
it not been for his courage I should no longer have been in this world.
I'll try and keep awake a little longer."

Harry did his best to do as he intended.  He kept moving his feet, he
talked aloud, he sang even.  He looked at old Jefferies.  He thought he
was nodding his head and answering him, but he could not make out what
was said.  At last he felt that, if David did not wake up and come to
his relief, he should drop down, and the boat would broach to, and they
would all be drowned.

"David!  David!" he tried to cry out, but his tongue seemed to cleave to
the roof of his mouth.  Still he kept the tiller in his hand, striving
steadily.  He made one more effort.  "David! help! help!" he shouted.
David's mind was far away in his father's garden, with his sisters and
sweet Mary Rymer.  He was telling them about Harry being in danger, but
he had forgotten he was with his friend.  At last he heard himself
called.  He started up, and was just in time to seize the tiller, which
Harry had that instant let slip from his grasp, as he sank down to the
bottom of the boat.  In another second of time the boat would have
broached to.  The gloom of evening was coming on rapidly, and there was
but a dreary prospect for poor David.  He still felt very sleepy, and
had almost as much difficulty in keeping awake as before.  He managed to
drag Harry to one side, and to place some of the nets under his head as
a pillow, but no moving had the effect of rousing him up.  David felt as
he had never felt before; sitting there, the only being conscious of
external affairs in that lone boat, running on amidst those huge
billows.  As long as the gale continued, on the boat must go, he well
knew, or run almost the certainty of being swamped.  The short sleep he
had enjoyed had refreshed him, and he thought that he should now be able
to keep awake.  He felt very hungry, though.  No wonder!  Most people
would have been hungry who had eaten nothing but raw fish during upwards
of twenty-four hours.  He, however, would now have been very glad to get
some more raw fish, but he could not reach the hamper, and he dared not
leave the helm for an instant.  There was a locker under where he sat.
He had just bailed out the boat, when stooping down, he put his hand in,
and, feeling round, discovered to his great joy a large piece of bread,
the best part of a quartern loaf.  It was very stale, but he was not
inclined to be particular.  Never had he tasted bread so sweet.  He
took, though, only a small portion, as he did not like to eat more
without having Harry to share it with him, or old Jefferies, if he could
be aroused.  The bread, with a little fresh water, greatly revived him.
He thought, indeed, that he should be able to keep awake all the night,
if Harry should sleep on.  He tried his best.  He stood up, then he
bailed, but as much less water came into the boat than before, he had
but little to do in that way.  He tried to sing and whistle, but the
tunes were somewhat melancholy.  The wind was certainly decreasing, and
the sea going down.  "I must wake up Harry, and then, if we can but
manage to rig a fore and aft sail, we might haul our wind, and stand to
the north-east," he said to himself.  "But which is the north-east, I
wonder?  The wind may have changed, and there is not a break in the
clouds.  Without a compass, how can we find our way?  If the clouds
clear away, the stars would help us--at least, I suppose Harry knows all
about them.  I wish that I did.  But I was lazy, and to this moment am
not quite certain as to the look of the Polar Bear.  I remember that the
North Star is in that.  However, we could not do much yet, and, with her
beam to the sea, the boat would not be steady enough to rig our mast
properly.  We must wait patiently till morning.  Dear me, how heavy my
head feels!  They must be all wondering what has become of us at home.
I hope they don't think we are lost.  That is the worst part of the
business.  It will not be pleasant to live upon raw fish for very long,
but I suppose that it will keep us alive, and probably we shall fall in
with some vessel or other, which will tow us home.  That will be very
nice.  What a pleasant picnic we had, and Harry to come home just in
time, and Mary Rymer, and what a dear--oh! how pleasant--how--" Poor
David was asleep.  No wonder, after having been awake for so many hours,
and only just a little more than one hour's rest on a hard plank.  He
still held the tiller, and instinctively moved it to or from him, as he
felt the boat inclined to broach to.  His eyes, indeed, were not quite
closed, so that in reality he saw the seas as they rolled before him,
and perhaps steered almost as well as he had done before.  Meantime the
old man remained in a state of stupor, and Harry slept as soundly as a
"church door," or rather as midshipmen are generally supposed to do.
Thus the boat must have gone on for hours.  Happily, the wind and sea
were going down, or it would have been a serious matter to the boys.  It
will be understood that, after an easterly gale in the Channel, the sea
goes down more rapidly than after a westerly one, when there has been a
commotion across the whole sweep of the Atlantic.  Suddenly a loud
concussion and a continued grating sound made both David and Harry start
to their feet, and they saw what seemed a huge black mass towering above
them.  What could it be?

"A ship! a ship!" shouted Harry.  "Heave a rope here!"

No one answered.  As the boat was slowly rubbing by the side of the ship
(for Harry was right in his conjecture), he found a rope hanging
overboard.  With the activity of a seaman he secured the end round the
fore-thwart of the boat, while David hauled down the sail--not that that
was of any consequence, as the wind had fallen almost to a calm.  Again
Harry, joined by David, shouted loudly, but no one answered.

"I believe the ship is abandoned," he observed.  "Yes, I am sure she is,
for I see no masts.  She is not quite so large, either, as I thought at
first--a brig probably.  However, we shall soon have daylight, and know
all about it."

The dawn was already breaking, but no roseate hue was seen in the sky,
to indicate the position of the rising sun.  Although the sea had gone
down greatly, still the boat struck heavily every now and then against
the vessel, as she rolled slowly from side to side.  There was, indeed,
great danger that she would be stove in, if not altogether swamped.  The
boys, therefore, agreed that the sooner they could get on board the

"We shall find some food, at all events; and if we can get nothing more,
we may shove off again," observed David.

"Oh!  I hope we shall get much more than that," exclaimed Harry, in a
confident tone.  "What do you think of a compass, and sail, and spars,
and rigging for our boat, and if so we shall without difficulty be able
to find our way home.  Hurrah! what do you think of that?"

"I did not fancy that we were likely to be so fortunate," answered
David.  "To think that we should have run directly against a ship out in
the ocean here!  What shall we do now?"

"Why, get on board ourselves, and then hoist the old man up," answered
Harry.  "We must not leave him in the boat, lest she should get stove

The boys quickly scrambled up the ship's side.  Both her masts were
gone, and the bowsprit had been carried away, with a considerable
portion of the bulwarks, when the masts fell, and all her boats and
caboose.  Altogether she had a very forlorn appearance, while there was
no sign of a human being on board.  Their first care was to get up the
old man.  Harry leaped down into the cabin of the brig, and instantly
returned with a long horsehair sofa cushion.  "We must pass straps round
this, and parbuckle him up," he observed.  Fortunately a davit remained.
To this they secured a tackle, and David, jumping into the boat to pass
the cushion under old Jefferies, they soon had him up safe on deck.
They then, having got up the hamper of fish, with the bread and the jar
of water, veered the boat away with a hawser astern.  They were now able
for the first time to attend to the old man.  They examined his head,
and finding where he had been struck, bathed the place with water, and
they also poured a few drops of water down his throat.  This seemed to
revive him greatly, and at last they thought that they might leave him,
to examine the vessel.  The cold dull grey light of the early morning
enabled them to do so.  The brig had not long been deserted, and great
was their satisfaction to find all sorts of things to eat on board--
biscuits, and even soft bread, though it was rather stale, and a box of
eggs, and bacon and cheese, and even some cooked meat, and there were
also melons, and oranges, and dried figs, and grapes, and other fruits,
which showed that she had probably come from a warm country, where these
fruits grew; indeed, they afterwards learned from some papers they
found, that she was the _Fair Ianthe_, and was from the Mediterranean,
homeward bound.  While Harry and David were examining one of the
lockers, they felt something moving against their legs.  They looked
down, and saw a fine white cat, which by her movements, and the pleased
purrs she gave when she saw that she was noticed, seemed to welcome

"She must be a fairy, or the good genius of the ship," exclaimed David.
"Or, if she is a mere mortal cat, she must be very hungry, as I am sure
I am, so let us go up and breakfast on deck, and try and get the old man
to eat something."

"Do you know, I think that he would do much better down below, if we
could take off his wet things, and put him to bed," observed Harry.

To this David agreed, and, after they had eaten a little bread, for they
would not give themselves time to take more, they contrived, with
considerable exertion, to lower old Jefferies into the cabin, and to put
him into bed.  This done, they lighted a fire in the cabin stove, and
made tea and boiled some eggs, and did some rashers.  They wisely, also,
took off their own wet things, which they hung up to dry, while they put
on some clothes which they found in the cabin.  What a hearty breakfast
they made!--and if it had not been for the thoughts of the poor lad who
had gone overboard, and the anxiety of their friends, they would have
pronounced themselves very jolly.  As it was, it cannot be said that
they were very unhappy.  At last they contrived to get old Jefferies to
swallow some tea, and a little substantial food, for which he seemed
much the better, and in a few minutes they had the satisfaction of
seeing him drop off into a sound sleep.

Harry and David returned to their meal, for they still felt somewhat
hungry.  They soon began to nod, and at last David's head dropped on the

"I shall be off too, if I don't jump on deck and look after the boat,
and see how the weather is," said Harry.  He found the boat secure, but
the weather very dull and far from promising, though there was then but
little wind.  He scanned the horizon.  Not a sail was in sight, and
unless with a stronger breeze than then blew, none could approach for
some time to come.  On examining the vessel he thought that there was no
danger of her sinking; indeed, except that she had lost her mast, he
could not make out why she had been deserted.  He judged by the way she
rolled that she was slightly leaking, and had made some water.  "We'll
pump her out by and by, and she will be all right till we get a fair
breeze to return home," he thought to himself.  "Perhaps we may carry
her in, and obtain salvage.  That would be very fine, better than all
the prize-money I am likely to make for a long time to come."  Such were
the ideas that floated through his mind as he returned to the cabin.  A
comfortable-looking bed invited him to rest, and rousing up David for a
moment, he made him crawl half asleep into another.  Both of them in
half a second were soundly sleeping, and had the tempest again arisen,
they would not probably have awakened then.

Very different would have been the case had Harry been a captain, but
the cares and responsibilities of midshipmen are light, and their
slumbers sound.  Hours passed by, when they both started up, hearing a
voice crying out, "Where am I?  What has happened?  Ah me! ah me!"  It
was old Jefferies who spoke.  They went to him.  He had returned to
consciousness, and now remembered the loss of his grandson.  They did
their best to comfort the old man.  They felt that they had been
remotely the cause of the lad's death.  "No fault of yours, young
gentlemen," he answered to a remark one of them had made; "it was God's
will to call the boy home.  We must never murmur at what God chooses to
do.  He knows what's best for us.  Ah, if you had heard Mr Wesley
preach, as I often have, you'd understand these things better than you
do, perhaps."  They were glad to let him talk on, as the doing so seemed
to divert his mind from his grief.  He told them much about the great
preacher, and among other things that he was never stopped by weather
from keeping an appointment, and that though wet through, with his high
boots full of water, he would deliver his message of love to an
assembled congregation before he would change his garments.

While they were all asleep the fire had gone out.  They relighted it,
and cooked an abundance of their fish, and spread their table with it,
and several other things they had discovered.  They little knew how the
time had gone by, and were therefore greatly surprised to find darkness
again coming on.  The two lads hurried on deck, followed by old
Jefferies.  The sky was still obscured.  No land was in sight, and only
two or three sails could be observed in the far distance.  They watched
them, but they were steering away from the ship.  It was evidently too
late, even if old Jefferies had been strong enough, to leave her that
day.  They therefore made up their minds to pass another night on board,
and to leave early the next day.

"If the sky is clear we may do so," observed Harry.  "But I have hunted
everywhere, and can find no compass; so that unless we can see the
stars, we shall be unable to steer a right course.  If we venture to
make the attempt, we may perhaps find ourselves far away in the
Atlantic, and never be able to return."



Another night began on board the wreck.  The boys, however, saw nothing
unpleasant in the prospect.  They had plenty of food and firing, their
clothes were dry, old Jefferies appeared to be recovering, and they
hoped he would be able to assist them in navigating the boat homeward.
They agreed that they would be up by daylight, and fit the boat with a
mast and sails and oars, besides loading her with as many provisions as
she could carry.  They felt rather chilly, so they made up a fire, and
sat chatting over it quite comfortably, till they almost forgot they
were out on the ocean, no land in sight, in a dismasted vessel, and all
by themselves.  Harry again broached the idea of carrying in the ship
herself, but David doubted whether they could manage to do so.  Harry
then explained that they might form ury-masts out of a number of spars
lashed together, and that sails might be hoisted on these, fixed in
different parts of the deck.

"The rudder is in good order, so that we may just as easily find our way
to the land, and into port, I hope, in the ship, as in the boat; while
we shall be far more comfortable, and not much longer about it, I should
think," he remarked.  "I only fear lest an enemy's cruiser should see
us, and either take possession of the brig, or burn her, and carry us
off prisoners."

"Not much chance of that, I should hope," answered David.  "We should
not prove a prize of much value, after all."

"Oh, indeed! they would think it no small thing to capture a British
naval officer," remarked the young mid, drawing himself up to his full
height, which was not very great; "and I vote we do not give in without
a fight for it."

"But I only saw two guns on deck, and I do not think that we should be
able to work them, even if we can find powder and shot," said David.

"Oh, there is a store of both on board, depend on it, and if we put on a
bold face, we may drive off an enemy, provided he is not a very big
one," answered the midshipman.

Some time was occupied in these discussions.  They then went on deck and
looked about them.  Though a long slow swell swept as it were
occasionally across the ocean, the surface was otherwise perfectly
smooth; indeed, there was not a breath of air to disturb it, but a thick
mist hung over the sea, which prevented any objects from being seen even
at a short distance off.  This was as likely to prove advantageous to
them as the contrary; and so, having taken a short walk on dock, they
went below, said their prayers, found that the old man was asleep,
turned in and followed his example.  Harry knew perfectly well that,
according to strict discipline, a watch ought to have been kept, but he
and David agreed that, as there was a calm, they could not be run down,
and that the wreck was not likely to drift far from where they then
were, while it was clearly far pleasanter to be asleep than walking the
deck.  Hitherto they had not had time to examine the hold or the fore
part of the vessel.  This, however, they purposed doing in the morning.
Happy time of youth!  They slept very soundly and comfortably, looking
forward with confidence to the future, and little dreaming what was to
happen.  When people have been deprived of their night's rest, they
frequently sleep a very long time on a stretch.  Harry was awaked by
David, who exclaimed--

"Dear me! the ship is tumbling about fearfully; the gale must have
sprung up again."

He then heard old Jefferies say, in a weak voice, "What, lads, are you
there?  I was afraid that you had deserted the old man."

"No, no, we would not do that," answered David.  "But I am afraid that
the ship must be shaken to pieces if this continues."

"If she has floated through one gale she may float through another.  We
must trust in God," said the old man.  "Ah me!  I am very feeble.  If we
couldn't put our faith in Him, we should be badly off indeed.  I cannot
help myself, much less you."

Harry was by this time fully awake, and called David to follow him on
deck, to ascertain what was the matter.  When David got there, he wished
himself below again.  The gale had returned with tenfold fury, and the
helpless ship was driving before it, surrounded by high foaming and
roaring seas; the mist had cleared away, but the clouds were as thick as
ever, chasing each other across the sky.  Nothing else was to be seen.
Mountain waves and dark clouds almost pressing down on their heads--no
sail in sight to bring them assistance.  So violently was the ship
tossed about, that they could scarcely keep their feet, even by holding

"Oh, the boat! the boat!" shouted David.  Just before, they had seen her
still afloat, secured by the hawser, when a heavy sea, rolling towards
the ship, broke aboard the boat, and filled her in an instant.  She rose
on the top of a high foaming sea, when the thwart to which the two ropes
were secured was torn out of her, and the next moment she sunk from
sight.  The boys looked at each other for a minute or more without

"We shall have to stick to the ship now, at all events," said Harry at

"I hope that the ship will stick to us, and keep afloat, then," remarked

"We'll sound the well presently, and see what water she has in her,"
said Harry.  "In the meantime, let us go down into the hold, and see of
what her cargo consists.  Much depends on that, whether or not she keeps
afloat.  I want to have a look into the fore peak also; I cannot make
out why the vessel should have been deserted."

The main hatch was on, and as it would have been dangerous to lift it,
even if they could have done so, when any moment the deck might have
been swept by a sea, they worked their way on to the fore hatch.  This
was not secured.  They descended.  It was some time before they could
see about them in the close, dark, and dirty abode of the seamen.  On
either side were bed-places, one above another, with a few large wooden
chests below them, and jackets and trousers, and various other articles,
hanging up against the bulkhead.  They observed nothing of consequence,
and as the atmosphere was stirring, they were about to climb up again on
deck, when a low groan was heard.  Both were brave fellows, but it must
be confessed that their hearts sunk, and their first impulse was to
hurry up the ladder as fast as they could go.  Again there was a groan.
They looked at each other.  Was it a human voice?  There could be little
doubt about that.  Where could it come from?  They stopped for a few
seconds, holding on to the ladder, to recover their composure.  The
voice came from one of the berths; of that they were soon satisfied.
Just then Harry observed a small locker close to the ladder, and putting
in his hand found a candle and tinder-box.  A light was soon struck; and
they approached the berth whence the groans had proceeded.  It is not
surprising that they should have started back with horror.  The dim
light of the candle fell on the ghastly features of a human being, who,
except that his eyes moved wildly, might have been taken for a corpse.
His beard was long and tangled, and blood, which had flowed from a
fearful gash across his brow, stained the blankets in which he was
wrapped.  His eyes were staring wildly, his mouth was open.  He seemed
at the point of death.  Yet he was not dying of starvation, for within
his reach hung a bottle of water and a bag of biscuits.  Why, however,
he had been deserted was a mystery which he himself seemed incapable of
solving.  In vain Harry and David asked him.  Not a word did he speak in
answer to their questions.  He was, however, conscious of their
presence, they thought, by the way his eyes followed them as they moved
about the cabin.  Had they discovered him before, they might have been
of some assistance to him, but they could not now even attempt to move
him into another berth.  David, however, undertook to get some better
food from the cabin.  Harry did not feel altogether comfortable when
left alone with the dying man.  He looked so horrible, and the groans
which he uttered were so fearful.  David seemed to be absent a long
time.  He did not like to leave the wretched man, or he would have gone
to look for him.  What could have become of David?  The sea every now
and then washed with a loud sound across the deck.  Could he have been
carried away by it?  How dreadful the thought!  He went back to the
dying man, and stood over him, hoping that he might return, to
consciousness.  Suddenly the man sat up, and pointing with his thin hand
across the cabin, uttered a loud shriek, and sinking back was a corpse.
The young midshipman was left alone in the dark fore peak of the sinking
vessel.  The sad thought came across him that perhaps he might be the
only living person on board.  Old Jefferies was apparently on the point
of death, and perhaps David had been washed overboard.  As he could be
of no use where he was, he determined to ascertain the worst, and
climbed up on deck, immediately closing the hatch again.  He looked
about him.  David was not to be seen.  Even during the time he had been
below matters had grown worse--the ship was tumbling about more than
ever, and the seas, which rose high above the bulwarks, seemed every
instant about to engulf her.  But where was David?  He worked his way,
not without great danger of being carried overboard, to the companion
hatch, over which, stooping down, he shouted David's name.  His heart
sank within him.  There was no answer.  "David!  David!" he cried again.
"Oh, David, where are you?"  Was his dear brave friend really gone?
Just then he observed that some rigging had been washed over the
starboard quarter, and he fancied that he heard a faint cry.  From the
temporary position of the wreck, the sea ceased just then to break
aboard.  Harry sprang aft, and there, clinging desperately to the
rigging, now almost under water, now lifted into the air, as the stern
of the ship was thrown upwards, he saw David.  His friend recognised
him, but seemed unable to speak.  Though Harry could not swim he could
climb well, and was strong and active.  His immediate impulse was to
fasten a rope round his own waist, the other end secured round a
stanchion, and to spring towards David.  "We will die together," he said
to himself as he did so, "or I will save him.  May we be protected!"  He
alighted on a spar close to David, whose arm he saw was caught by a
rope, from which he could not disengage himself.  To do this without the
risk of his friend being washed away was no easy task.  He succeeded at
length, however, in doing so, and by an effort, of which he would not
have thought himself capable, he scrambled up on deck again by means of
the tangled mass of ropes, and tattered sails and spars, which hung
overboard.  Then, dreading that another sea would come and sweep them
back together into the seething ocean, they tottered to the companion
hatchway, down which Harry half dragged, half carried his friend,
closing the hatch above him.  Scarcely had he done so than a tremendous
blow on the hatch, and the loud rushing sound of the water as it passed
over the deck, told them that another sea had broken aboard, which would
in all probability have swept them away to destruction.  They fell on
their knees in thankfulness as they reached the cabin, that they had
been thus providentially preserved.  They then went to the berth in
which old Jefferies lay.  He was still too weak to move, but perfectly
sensible.  They told him what had just occurred, and of the death of the
poor seaman whom they had discovered in the fore peak.  He could not
conjecture why the man had been left there.  The boys, however, thought
that, by examining all the papers, they might elucidate the mystery.
They feared, from the appearance of the poor stranger, that some foul
deed had been done on board.  Now, however, they were more concerned
about themselves.  The brig had hitherto withstood all the buffeting she
had received without apparently leaking much, but would she continue to
do so?  Old Jefferies thought not.  He had heard, he said, strange
sounds as he lay in bed, which he knew well proceeded from water forcing
its way into the hold, or rather from the air which was thereby forced
out--groans, and sighs, and low cries.

"Some people, when they hear these sounds for the first time, think that
the ship is full of ghosts and spirits, and that they are crying out
that she is going down," observed the old man.  "But I know better.  I
wish that I hadn't heard them, for they make me sad.  Not for myself,
though, for I am well-nigh worn out, and that poor boy's death weighs
heavy on me.  I daren't face his grandmother, and tell her that he is
gone.  But, boys, I am sorry for you.  You are young and full of life,
and there are many who love you on shore, and will mourn your loss."

"What, do you think that the ship is going down?" exclaimed Harry and
David together, in a very natural tone of dismay.

"It would be cruel in me not to tell you so, and I hope that you are
prepared to die, my boys," answered the old man.  "Still I don't say but
that in God's mercy you may escape.  A vessel may heave in sight in time
to take you off, or you may build a raft, and it may float you till you
are picked up.  I don't say give in, but be prepared for the worst."

The boys listened calmly to what the old man said.

"We will hope for the best, rig the pumps, and try and keep her free,"
answered Harry.

"Not much hope of that, I fear," said the old man.  "We can but try,"
exclaimed David.  "Let us go on deck at once, and see what we can do."

"You may be washed overboard if you go now on deck," said old Jefferies.
"You must wait till the sea goes down again somewhat, and you may then
pump away with a will."

The latter part of this advice the boys agreed, after waiting some time,
to disregard.  If the ship was sinking, the sooner the water could be
pumped out of her the better.  They fancied, also, that she rolled less
than before.  In spite of the old man's warnings, they once more,
therefore, found their way on deck.  The state of the wreck seemed
almost hopeless, but, like brave boys as they were, they still kept to
their resolution of trying to pump out the water.  They fortunately
found the brake of the pump, as the handle is called, and shipping it,
began to work away with might and main.  The water quickly came up in a
clear, bright stream, which told too plainly, without their sounding the
well, the large amount of water which had either leaked in or found its
way below.  They had left their coats and shoes in the cabin, everything
that would encumber them, in case they should be washed from their hold.
The waves rose up around them, the spray in dense showers dashing every
instant over their heads, and almost blinding them when it struck them
in the face.  Still undaunted they stood at their post.

"This must tell," exclaimed David, as he watched the full stream flowing
from the pump.  "If we get the ship clear, all may yet be well."

"It may be coming in faster than we are pumping it out," said Harry.
"Still it may keep us afloat till help comes."

"I am afraid that there is not much prospect of that," said David.
"Though, to be sure, we cannot be so very far from land, or those
screeching seagulls would not be hovering about us."

"They have powerful wings, and can fly a long way from land," observed
Harry.  "Those come probably from the west coast of Ireland."

These remarks were made at intervals and by jerks, as it were, while
they stopped pumping for an instant to change their position.  They were
encouraged to persevere, first, by believing that their efforts were
producing some effect on the amount of water in the ship, and then, by
observing that the sea was again going down.  During one of these
intervals, when the wreck had been thrown higher up than usual, Harry
exclaimed, "A sail! a sail! she is standing this way."

The glimpse was momentary, and before David could catch sight of the
stranger the ship had again sunk into the trough of the sea.  In vain
David looked out for the ship.  Still Harry asserted that he was not
mistaken.  After pumping for some time they were compelled to knock off
from fatigue.  For fear of being washed away they lashed themselves to
the stump of the nearest mast, and thus secured they lay down on the wet
deck to rest.  Again they rose bravely to their work, but each tune they
had to stop pumping they rested for a longer period, and continued
pumping after it for a shorter period.

David, at last, caught sight of the vessel Harry had seen, and was also
of opinion that she was approaching them.  The hope of being saved,
which had never died, now grew stronger and stronger.  Now, as the wreck
was lifted up the side of a sea, or the stranger mounted a foaming
billow, her whole hull was visible, and they saw she was a long, low
black schooner.  Even at that distance Harry did not like her
appearance.  To satisfy himself he went to the companion hatch, inside
of which a telescope was hung up.  With it both he and David took a more
exact examination of the stranger, and came to the same conclusion.

"She is not an English craft, of that I am certain," observed Harry.
"She may be a privateer, but is more like those rascally pirates who
infest the West Indies and African coast, and used to be found down on
the Spanish main; she has a large crew, too, I see.  Now, I suspect, if
we were to get aboard her the fellows would make us join them or walk
the plank.  Still, it might be better to pretend to enter on board than
to go down with this wreck.  What do you say?"

"If yonder craft is of the character you fancy, I say let us stick to
the wreck; but we will ask old Jefferies what he thinks about it--we
wouldn't leave him on any account; at the same time, if he wishes to go,
I should say that we ought to go."

"I agree with you," answered Harry.  "Let us pump away till she gets
nearer, and then we will go and consult Jefferies."

The schooner approached, and a nearer view only confirmed the boys in
their opinion of her character.  Why she came near the wreck it was
difficult to say.  Another look through the spy-glass showed them a
number of men on board and several guns on her deck.

"I do not suppose they will trouble themselves about us unless we hail
them, and then, perhaps, they might endeavour to take us off the wreck,
but I am not quite certain about it," observed Harry.  They were
standing while speaking inside the companion hatch, with their heads
just above it.

The schooner was coming up fast.  Suddenly the ports nearest them were
opened, wreaths of smoke burst forth, and several shots whistled close
above their heads, one going through the bulwarks and ploughing up the
deck.  Their impulse was to jump below.  They could do nothing to help
themselves, but they hoped that the strangers would not continue to make
a target of them.

Jefferies had heard the shots, and wondered why they had been fired.
When they told him their suspicions, he advised them to keep below.

"I have my thoughts on the subject," he remarked.  "Hark! they are
firing again; there! another shot struck the ship.  If it was not for
the heavy sea running we should be worse off than we are.  It is no easy
matter to take aim from the deck of a craft tumbling about as the
schooner must be.  If it was, depend upon it there would be a score or
more sent into the brig between wind and water."

"But why should the schooner's people be so anxious to make a target of
the brig?" asked David.

"To sink her," answered the old man.  "They think, if fallen in with,
she might tell a tale they don't wish to have known.  That's my notion,
but I may be wrong."

"There they go again at it!" exclaimed Harry.  "Two shots struck us.
Don't you think, David, that we had better go on deck and show
ourselves?  They would scarcely try to sink the wreck if they found that
there were people on board, even though they might not take us off."

"The very reason that would make them still more anxious to send us to
the bottom.  You had better not show yourselves," said the old man; but
the lads did not hear him, for they were already on their way on deck.



That raging sea, which it appeared at first would prove the destruction
of those on board the brig, was in reality the means of their
preservation.  Just as the boys got their heads above the companion
hatch, another whole broadside was let fly, and though many of the shots
passed over the ship, two or three struck her between wind and water.
Had the sea been calmer, many more probably would have found their way
through her sides, and she must instantly have gone to the bottom.  Such
was the fate the boys, not without good reason, now anticipated for her.
Another broadside would prove sufficient.

"Had we not better show ourselves, and ask to be taken on board?" said

"What, boys, and be murdered!" cried the old man from below.  "Stick to
the ship, and don't trust those villains.  There's One who will take
care of you if you put faith in Him."

"Old Jefferies is right.  Let us die rather than go on board the
pirate," said Harry.

Once more they climbed up the companion ladder, from which they had
jumped down at the last broadside.  They watched the schooner.  She had
tacked, as if about to run down close to them, and deliver another
broadside.  Seeing this, they were prepared to leap back into the cabin,
when suddenly she hauled her tacks aboard, and stood directly away from
them.  Did her crew believe that the shots they had fired would speedily
effect their supposed purpose, and take the brig to the bottom, or were
they only firing for practice?  As soon as the schooner had got a little
distance off, the boys jumped on deck and hurried to the pump.  Harry
first sounded the well.  His face grew very serious.

"David," he said, "the water has gained fearfully on us.  The shot-holes
must be letting in the water fast, and I do not think that the brig can
float another hour--perhaps not ten minutes."

"What are we to do, then?" asked David.

"Build a raft," answered Harry.  "There are plenty of spars.  I saw some
carpenter's tools and large nails in the cabin, and we may break off the
hatches.  They will help us.  We must be sharp about it, though."

Of this there could be no doubt.  That they might give the old fisherman
a better chance of saving his life, they agreed to get him up first.  By
taking an abundance of food and rest, he had greatly recovered his
strength, and was now able to do as they proposed.

"If I cannot work, I may give you my advice," he observed.  "I have more
than once had to trust to a raft for my life."

The cat followed them on deck.  The old man shook his head when he saw

"She knows that the cabin is no longer a safe place for her, and that
she will be better off up here," he said, as the boys placed him on a
heavy coil of rope near the mainmast.  The ship was happily more quiet
than she had before been, and the boys, having collected all the spars
and planks they could find, as well as some chairs and a table from the
cabin, commenced, under old Jefferies' directions, to form the proposed
raft.  They worked away with all their might, knowing well that a few
minutes' delay would be fatal.  A large raft was not required, as it had
to support only three persons and their provisions.  The great thing was
to make it strong enough.  They brought up all the small rope they could
find and lashed the stoutest of the spars together, so as to form an
oblong framework, with a centre spar as a keel.  They further secured
them with large nails.  Then they placed planks and smaller spars across
this, with the table, top downwards, and the chairs on their backs,
secured to it.  They managed to wrench off two of the cabin doors, and
these, nailed down and lashed across the raft, raised the deck and
increased its strength.  Besides the chairs, there were some strong
stools in the cabin.  These they nailed down at each corner, and secured
them also by lashings, with their legs up.  They then passed ropes round
the legs, thus forming a sort of bulwark that might save them from being
washed off the raft.  They had still much to do after this before the
raft would be complete.  They wanted a couple of chests in which to keep
their provisions, a cask for water, a mast and sails, and oars, and
blankets to keep them warm at night.  They had been some time at work,
and the water was already over the cabin floor.  Any attempt to save the
vessel was now hopeless.  Harry, happening to look up, saw what, had he
been on the watch, he would have observed long before, a large ship,
under a press of sail, at no great distance.  Was the wreck seen by
those on board?  If so, their prospect of escape was greatly improved.
They hoped that they were seen, for although they were thankful that
they had had time to form a raft, they knew well that at best it was a
perilous means of support, that it might be upset or dashed to pieces,
or that they might float about on it unseen till all their provisions
and water were exhausted, and then die of starvation and thirst.  They
earnestly hoped, therefore, that they might be seen from the passing
ship.  They had reserved a short spar as a mast for the raft.  To this
they fastened a flag, and secured it to the mainmast.  So occupied were
they, indeed, in watching the stranger, that for a few minutes they
forgot to go on with their raft, till recalled by old Jefferies to
continue the important work.  They had now to search for some chests.
They had seen several in the fore peak.  It was with a degree of awe,
perhaps not altogether free from fear, that they again went to where the
dead seaman lay.  They quickly cut two chests clear of the lashings
which secured them, and were emptying them of their contents, when they
came upon a box or case, the size of an ordinary writing-case.  It was
of foreign manufacture, and secured with strong brass bands.  When
taking it out with other things, Harry heard a sound like the chink of
money within.  He shook it.  There was no doubt about the matter.
"We'll keep it.  It may be useful, and it is our lawful prize," he
observed, as he put it back into the chest.  Fastening ropes to the
handles of the chests, they were soon hauled on deck, and secured to the
raft.  Now came the important work of provisioning their ark of safety.
They had already got on deck some biscuits, and salt beef and pork
uncooked.  They again descended for more articles which they had seen,
and which, together with some blankets, they brought up.  Once more they
went below, and even during the short time they had been on deck, they
observed that the water had considerably risen.  Still they were
persevering in their search for more provisions, when old Jefferies'
voice summoned them hastily on deck.

"She is going down!--she is going down!" he shouted.

They rushed up, and had just time to drag him on to the raft, and to
seize the oars and spars they had got ready, when the vessel's bow rose,
and her stern gradually sank, till she glided away towards the bottom,
literally from beneath their feet.  Just before this the cat, who seemed
determined to stick to the vessel to the last, made a spring on to the
raft, where she stood trembling with fear and astonishment at the
disappearance of her home.  As soon as the water reached the raft, by
means of the poles they shoved off from the wreck, and then pulled away
with all their might, so as completely to clear her.  The raft rocked
violently, and, in spite of all their efforts, seemed dragged towards
the vortex formed by the sinking vessel.  In another instant the brig
was no longer to be seen, and her secret, whatever it was, was buried
with her.  They looked anxiously around.  The ship was standing in the
direction the schooner had gone.  They floated alone on that wild,
stormy waste of waters.  The old man had been placed in the middle of
the raft, while the boys took their places on either side of him,
endeavouring with the oars to keep the raft before the seas.  Among
other things placed on it were some carpenter's tools, spars, blankets,
and a good supply of rope.  They had thus the means of rigging a mast.
They did this by nailing boards between the two front legs of the table,
and lashing the mast to the middle of the boards, while they carried
stays forward and on either side.  The wind was so much warmer, that
they supposed it must have shifted to the west, though the thick clouds
which still shrouded the sky prevented them from finding out the points
of the compass.  By Jefferies' advice, they continued making the
arrangements which have been described, though they still hoped they
might be seen from the passing ship, which Harry declared to be the
frigate to which he belonged--the _Ariadne_.  At last, however, they had
to abandon this hope, as the frigate continued her course, in chase,
apparently, of the mysterious schooner.  Unless seen by some other
vessel, Harry and David felt that they must now, humanly speaking,
depend on their own exertions for reaching the shore.  Harry rigged a
mast; they next fitted a sail, and with no small satisfaction hoisted
it.  By fixing an oar so as to act as a rudder astern, the raft, as soon
as the sail was hoisted, behaved remarkably well, and glided over the
seas with considerable ease and rapidity.  Their spirits rose again, for
they fully believed that they should in two or three days reach either
the English or the Irish coast.  They had no idea how far to the
westward they had been driven.  By degrees the sea went down, which was
very pleasant, but so also did the wind, till it became a perfect calm.
An end was thus put to their hopes of soon reaching the land.  However,
they were far more comfortable than they had been for some time.  The
afternoon sun shone out brightly, and dried their clothes; and they had
plenty to eat--biscuits, and cooked meat, and cheese and butter, and
figs and raisins, and several other fruits, and some bottles of wine, of
which they wisely partook very sparingly.  It, however, did the old man
much good, and he appeared to have recovered both his strength and
spirits.  Although well off in many respects, they had, however, a
scarcity of one article, without which they could not hope to prolong
existence.  That was water.  They could only secure one small cask, and
they saw, therefore, that they must husband the precious liquid with the
greatest care.

They now floated tranquilly on the calm waters, and though they would
far rather have been sailing northward, they were thus enabled to
strengthen the raft, and to prepare for it encountering any more rough
weather which might come on.  They had made old Jefferies as comfortable
as they could in the centre of the raft, and they soon had the satis
faction of finding that he had fallen asleep.  Having accomplished all
that could be done, they began to chat away as composedly as if nothing
very particular had occurred.  They went on, indeed, almost with the
conversation which had been interrupted when they discovered that the
rock on which they were sitting was surrounded by water.  Strange to
say, Harry expressed no wish or intention of leaving the profession he
had embraced should they reach the shore, while David was as determined
as ever to enter it should he be able to obtain his father's leave.  No
wonder, when the long list of glorious victories won by the British navy
was fresh in the memory of the nation, and naval officers in all social
circles were looked upon and courted as heroes.  At length old Jefferies

"Now, boys, you must take your rest," he said.  "You have watched for
me, and now I'll watch for you.  It won't do for us all to nap together,
and if I see any change I'll call you.  Never fear, puss and I will look
after the ship."

The boys did not require a second bidding, but stretching themselves
inside the legs of the upturned table, were soon fast asleep.

We must now return for a short time to their friends on shore.  Poor
Mrs Merryweather was almost broken-hearted on being at length compelled
to give up all hopes of ever again seeing her gallant son, and on being
able to account in no other way for his and his friend's disappearance
than that they had fallen over a cliff, or been washed away by the sea.
She knew where to go for comfort and consolation; and her chief
satisfaction, when she heard that old Mrs Jefferies had lost her
husband and grandson on the same night, was to show her whence she could
derive the same consolation she herself had found.  It was a sore trial
to the poor old woman.  Mr and Mrs Morton also did their best to
comfort her; indeed, had it not been for them she would have been
compelled to resort to the workhouse for support.  They sympathised with
the old woman, not because they were aware of the service her husband
had rendered those dear to them, but because, as they supposed, a like
calamity had overtaken her and themselves at the same time.  Still Mr
Morton did not cease for a long time to have search made for them, till
at length he was with a sad heart compelled to give it up in despair.
Captain Rymer sympathised heartily with his neighbour's misfortune, and
pretty little Mary shed many a tear for the loss of her two friends.
Several months passed by, and still no news came of the lost ones.  With
great reluctance the two families at length went into mourning.  It was
a sad day, for it was an acknowledgment that hope was given up, and that
the two dear lads were no longer among the living.

One morning Captain Rymer and his family were seated at breakfast; Mrs
Rymer had just poured out a cup of tea, and Mary had handed it to him
with a slice of toast which she had carefully buttered, when the
post-bag was brought into the room.  He opened it, and drew forth a long
official-looking envelope.

"No other letter?" asked his wife.

"No, not one; and this is probably of no great importance either," he
answered, placing it by his side, and beginning to eat the toast Mary
had just given him.  Captain Rymer had been actively engaged during the
whole of the late war in many dangerous and arduous services, and, like
other officers, felt somewhat aggrieved that his services had not been
fully recognised.  He had frequently applied for some civil appointment,
but his requests had not been attended to, and the only results were
polite answers, couched in the same official language, stating that his
merits would be duly considered.  At last he made up his mind that he
was to be laid on the shelf, and that he should never get anything.
However, when he had finished his toast, he opened the letter.

"This is indeed what I little expected," he exclaimed.  "I am appointed
as Lieutenant-Governor of Saint -- in the West Indies.  It is one of the
most healthy of the islands.  I have often been there; indeed, it is in
consequence of my knowledge of the inhabitants that I have been
selected; and you will all be able to accompany me."

This information, as may be supposed, caused a great deal of excitement
in the family.  As Captain Rymer was ordered to proceed at once, there
was no time to be lost in making the necessary preparations.  Their
friends called to congratulate, and at the same time to express their
regret at losing them.  The Mortons, and poor Mrs Merryweather, would
certainly miss them more than anybody else.  Mary could not help looking
forward with pleasure to the interesting places she would probably
visit, and the new style of life she would have to lead; though she was
very sorry to leave so many kind friends, and the attached servants, who
could not accompany them.  In those days outfits were not to be
procured, nor other arrangements made, so rapidly as at present, and
Captain Rymer found it impossible to be ready to sail in the ship
appointed to carry him out.  He had, therefore, to take his passage in a
West India trader, to sail a few weeks later.  The _Betsy_ was a fine
large ship, carrying guns, to enable her to defend herself against the
pirates and small privateers, often no better, which at that time
infested the Caribbean Sea, and especially on the Spanish main and round
the coast of Cuba.  The cabins of the _Betsy_, on board which many
wealthy West India planters frequently came backwards and forwards, were
for their accommodation fitted up in a style of luxury seldom found on
board merchantmen in general.  The _Betsy_ put into Falmouth to take the
family and their baggage on board.  She then had to remain till joined
by several other West India ships.  Everything was then made ready for
sailing, and a bright look-out was kept for another fleet, bound in the
same direction, coming down channel under convoy of two men-of-war.
They were at length descried, and the ships in Falmouth harbour
immediately got under weigh, and stood out to join them.  At that time,
although most of the men-of-war carrying the flag of England's enemies
had been swept from the seas, a large number of their privateers still
remained to annoy and often injure her commerce.  It was therefore not
considered safe for merchantmen to sail without the protection of one or
more men-of-war.  Mary was delighted with the appearance of the cabins,
so luxurious compared to what she had expected; and she was still more
pleased when, on going on deck, she observed a large fleet of stately
ships with which she was surrounded.  The water was calm, the sky clear,
and the sun shone brightly on the pyramids of white canvas towering up
from the black, shining, freshly painted hulls which floated on the blue
ocean in all directions.  On the outskirts were the still more stately
men-of-war, their bright-coloured signal flags continually moving up and
down, while they occasionally fired a gun either on one side or the
other, in rather a difficult attempt to keep their somewhat refractory
charges on their proper course.  Mary, after watching the manoeuvres of
the men-of-war and the fleet of merchant vessels for some time,

"Why, papa, they put me in mind of a herd of cattle driven through the
country, the drovers running here and there, shouting loudly, and
sending their sharp barking dogs now to one side, now to the other, to
keep them together."

"Not a bad idea, Mary," answered Captain Rymer.  "But should thick
weather come on, or a heavy gale spring up, the work will be much more
difficult.  Sometimes a whole herd, as you would call them, is
scattered, and lions or wolves occasionally pounce down on the weakest,
and carry them off."

"I hope that will not be our fate, papa," said Mary, timidly.

"No fear of that, dearest.  I am sorry that I should have put such a
notion into your head," answered Captain Rymer.  "The _Betsy_ is a
well-found ship, well manned and well armed, and Captain Bolton has the
character of being a first-rate seaman, so that we have every reason for
expecting to arrive in safety at our destination."

"Oh, I am not at all afraid," said Mary.  "Besides, you know, papa, we
can pray to be protected; and what a comfort it is, and how brave it
should make us, to know that God hears our prayers, and will grant them
whenever He sees that to do so is best for us!"

What a support in daily life, what a consolation to the voyager over the
stormy ocean, is a firm confidence in that glorious truth!



The raft still floated uninjured; the sea continued perfectly calm.
Harry and David retained their health and spirits, hoping that they
should reach the land at last; and the old man appeared to be steadily
recovering.  The calm tried them in one respect more than when the wind
blew, because after the raft had been strengthened they had nothing to
do.  They talked of the past and of the future, but even friends cannot
talk on all day, especially if they are hungry and thirsty, and are
anxious about any matter.  At last David recollected that they had taken
some fishing lines and hooks out of the boat, and thrown them with other
articles on the raft.  They were soon discovered, and the lads flattered
themselves that they had nothing more to do than to bait the hooks, if
bait could be found, and to throw them overboard.  Old Jefferies smiled
when he saw their preparations, and told them that, although certain
fish were to be caught occasionally in the open sea, the greater number
were to be found along the coasts of the different countries of the
world.  "To my mind God has so ordered it that all the fish which best
serve for the food of man swim round and round the coasts of the
countries of the world, in shallow water, where they can be got at and
caught, or else they visit certain known spots, like the banks of
Newfoundland, or the fishing grounds in the North Sea.  Now if they all
lived in the deep seas, or kept wandering about to all parts just as
fancy led them, fishermen would never know where to go and look for
them.  Instead of that, as I have said, as the seasons come round, God
leads them to the same places and almost on the same day every year; and
so the fisherman is prepared with his nets or lines to catch them.
However, I don't mean to say that there are no fish out even in
mid-ocean, and if we get our lines, perhaps we shall catch some."

The lines were fitted in different ways; one with a heavy lead that it
might sink towards the bottom, the other to throw to a distance, and
then to drag quickly back again.  The chief difficulty was with regard
to the bait.  David, however, proposed using a piece of salt pork,
though old Jefferies thought that no fish would bite at it.

"I'll try, at all events," he answered; and baiting his hook he threw it
skilfully to a considerable distance.  He tried over and over again till
his arm grew tired, while Henry let his line down to its entire end, but
neither of them got a bite.

"Very little use, I am afraid," said Harry, drawing up his line.

"Let it hang out, at all events.  It can do no harm, and something may
take a fancy to it," observed David, again throwing his own line.
"Halloa!  I have got something--a big fellow, too--he'll pull me off the
raft if I don't take care.  Lend a hand, Harry."

Harry took hold of the line.  Now they were able to haul in some of the
line, and then again the fish swam off in an opposite direction,
actually moving the raft.

"It may be a porpoise," said Harry.

"Perhaps it is a shark!" exclaimed David.  "It can't be a young whale."

"It is a big fish of some sort, of that there is no doubt," responded
Harry.  "The fellow will get tired before long, and then we will make
him show his nose."

"If he does not cut through the line before that," observed old
Jefferies, who would not pronounce as to what fish it was.

"If the line does not break I have little fear of its being cut through,
for there is a long shank to the hook, and the line has never been
slack," answered David, hauling in more of the line.

The fish, if such it was, at length began to grow weary of towing the
raft, and allowed himself to be drawn nearer and nearer till his mouth
was seen for an instant close to the surface.

"Ah!  I know him," exclaimed old Jefferies.  "A shark! a shark! he's as
mischievous a fellow as any that swims, though he will hurt no one who
does not put his hand down his mouth."

He explained that the fish they had hooked was the _blue shark_, which,
although he does not attempt to take the fisherman's life, is yet one of
his greatest foes.  If he cannot bite through a line he often rolls it
round and round himself in a way that is most difficult for the
fisherman to undo; and sometimes he will swim among the nets, killing
the fish in mere wantonness apparently, and biting the meshes.  Now and
then, however, he gets caught himself--a small satisfaction considering
the damage he causes.

It took some time before his sharkship was wearied out, and when at
length he was hauled up on the raft, it was found that he had contrived
to wind several fathoms of the line round his body.  From the line
having been kept tight, it was not so cleverly twisted as is often the
case, and a blow on the tail quieted him before he had managed further
to wriggle it round himself after he was out of the water.  When the
line was unwound, and the shark stretched out, he was a handsome-looking
fish of a blue lead colour, about four feet long.  Harry and David did
not feel disposed to eat any of the shark, but when assured by the old
fisherman that neither he nor any of his ancestors had ever touched
flesh, they got over their reluctance, and as their appetites told them
it was dinner-time, they each took a thin slice with some biscuit.  They
agreed that when cooked it would be tolerable food.

After this meal David, having got his line in order, and both their
lines being baited with shark, they commenced fishing.  After some time
Harry got a bite.

"A fine fish, I am sure, by the way he tugged," he exclaimed, hauling up
the line.

It came up very easily, though, and instead of the large fish he
expected, a small whiting appeared.  Several others were pulled up in
succession.  As Harry was hauling in his line after a bite, he felt a
heavy weight suddenly come on it.  Still he was able to get it in.

"It is something curious, but what it can be I am sure I don't know," he
exclaimed, hauling away, while David looked eagerly on.

"What a monster!" they cried out both together, when a huge mass, with
what looked like a number of snakes wriggling about round it, was seen
on the surface amidst a circle of dark water.

"That's a squid," remarked old Jefferies.  "Some of them are awkward
customers in the water, but he can do you very little harm out of it."

The truth of this last assertion was put to the test when, in spite of
its struggles, the creature was hauled up on the raft, and its long arms
chopped off.  It had expected simply to catch a whiting, and had itself
been caught by the hook sticking through the whiting's mouth.  It was
very untempting-looking for food, though they might have preferred it to
shark flesh.  The whiting, however, supplied them with as much fish as
they could eat raw.  Altogether they agreed that they had had a good
evening's sport, and that if they could have forgotten where they were,
and that their friends were anxious about them, they should have enjoyed
themselves amazingly, only that they should have preferred cooked fish
to raw.  As night, however, crept on, they began to feel the loneliness
and helplessness of their position.  Still, the calm continued, and the
stars shone forth, each spark of light being reflected in the
mirror-like ocean; and Harry made out the polar star, and wished that
there was a good breeze that they might steer by it towards England.
The air was very chilly, but as they had saved several blankets, they
wrapped themselves up, and kept tolerably warm.  As they had not got a
lantern or candle, or any means of striking a light, they could do
nothing, and so they chatted away till they both went off to the land of

"Sleep on, my poor lads," said the old man, guessing by their silence
what had happened.  "You little think of the danger you are in.  If a
gale springs up, how is this small raft to weather it?  For myself, I am
worn out, and my time must come in a year or two, or a few months it may
be; but life is fresh and pleasant for the young lads.  Well, well, God
is kind and just.  He knows what is best for them.  His will be done."

The lives of most men are metaphorically varied by storms and calms,
clouds and sunshine, and so in reality was the existence of our two
young friends on the raft.  The night passed away quietly, and towards
morning the old man, in spite of his intentions to keep watch, fell
asleep.  David was the first to rouse up.  The sun had not risen, but a
streak of red in the sky showed in what quarter he was about to appear.
David stood up to look around him.  He would not call Harry till it was
necessary, for he was sleeping so calmly, with a smile on his
countenance, dreaming of some pleasant scenes at home, probably with his
mother and sister present.  As David was thus standing up, holding on to
the mast, he felt a light air fan his cheek.  It came from the south.
He turned his eyes in that direction to look for a further sign of the
wished-for breeze.  As he did so he observed in the horizon a sail--he
judged a large ship.  Directly afterwards another appeared, in a
different part of the horizon.  He watched them attentively for some
time.  Their sails were filled with wind, and they seemed to be drawing
nearer to each other, and also nearer to the raft.  As soon as it struck
David that this was the case, he could no longer resist the temptation
of rousing up his companion.  Harry sprang to his feet.  Midshipmen do
not rub their eyes and yawn, and groan and growl, before they get up,
especially if they happen to be sleeping on a raft in the chops of the

"Yes, they are standing this way," he exclaimed.  "They are frigates,
and what is more, though one is English, I doubt by the cut of the sails
whether the other is."

"At all events we shall have a good chance of being picked up," said

"I hope so; but if an idea which has struck me is correct, they will
have too much to do to look after each other to take any notice of us,"
observed the midshipman.

"What do you mean?" asked David.

"That one is English and the other French, and if so, it is not likely
that, having come in sight of each other, they will part without
exchanging shots," remarked Harry.

"Unless the Frenchman runs away," said David.

"No fear of that.  The monsieurs are brave fellows, though we can lick
them, and it is not often they show the white feather," remarked Harry.
"I really think that I am right.  They look to me like two frigates, and
one I am sure is French.  We'll rouse up the old man, and hear what he
has to say about the matter.  He'll not thank us for letting him sleep

"The old man is awake," said Jefferies, sitting up and gazing in the
direction indicated by the boys, under his open hand.  For some time he
was silent.  "Yes, there's little doubt about the matter," he said at
length.  "They are frigates, and one is English; the other is a
foreigner, but whether Spaniard, Dutchman, or French, is more than I can
say.  If they are going to fight, as you think, we can't help it,
neither can we make them sail near enough to see us, and pick us up; but
I'll tell you what we can do, young gentlemen, we can lift up our voices
in prayer to God to thank Him for His favours, and to ask Him for His

All three knelt down, and lifted up their voices to God in prayer, with
a heartiness which might be sought for in vain within the lofty walls of
many a proud building.  Such is the spiritual worship in which God the
Spirit alone has pleasure.  The party on that wave-tossed raft rose from
their knees greatly refreshed in spirit, and sat down to enjoy their
morning meal with hearts grateful that they had food sufficient to
sustain life.  Soon after, the sun rose, as it were with a spring out of
his ocean bed, and shed his light across the expanse of waters on the
sails of the approaching ships, which seemed to have drawn suddenly
near, so clear and defined did their forms become.  Harry watched with
even greater eagerness than before one of the ships, which he declared
was, he believed, that to which he belonged.  David was rather inclined
to laugh at the notion, as he considered that it was impossible Harry
should be able to know his own ship at so great a distance off.  There
seemed to be no doubt that both were frigates--of that the old man
expressed himself sure; that they were not both English he thought very
likely.  As to the other point, it was, if correct, a guess of Harry's.
They continued to draw nearer and nearer to each other, and as they
approached the raft at the same time, the breeze which filled their
sails reached her.

"Shall we hoist our sails, and stand for the shore as before?" asked

"We should miss the chance of being picked up if we did so," answered
Harry.  "Besides, I should not like to run away without knowing after
all whether the ships would fight, and who was the conqueror."

"Not much chance of our getting out of sight before they begin, for they
are already not far off gun-shot of each other," observed the old man,
who again raised himself to look out, but sunk down once more to his
seat in the centre of the raft.

The two boys, however, stood up, holding on by the mast, in spite of the
increasing rocking of the raft, watching eagerly the movements of the
two frigates--for frigates there was no doubt they both were.

"Up go the colours!" exclaimed Harry, with a shout.  "Hurrah!  There's
the glorious old flag of England, and the other is French--there's no
doubt about it.  Then there'll be a fight.  Hurrah!  I wish I was aboard
the old ship; I'm sure it's her.  Couldn't we manage it even now?  Pull
the raft up to her.  I wish that she would see us and pick us up.  Oh
dear! how provoking!  I'd give anything to be on board!"  Such were the
exclamations to which the young midshipman gave utterance, as he stood
watching the ships.  "The old ship has tacked, she is standing away from
us!  The Frenchman is about also.  They'll be away.  We shall not see
any of the fighting after all."

"We shall be less likely to suffer from their shots, and for that we may
be grateful," observed the old man.

The midshipman, so eager was he, scarcely listened to what was said.
The frigates were manoeuvring, each endeavouring to gain the
weather-gauge before commencing the action, which it was very evident
would take place.  There appeared to be no lack of a disposition to
fight on either side, for they both took in their lighter sails, and
finally hauled up their courses.  Now the English frigate wore round,
her example being followed by the Frenchman, both running back towards
the raft, which it seemed that the former would pass by, or even run
over, when suddenly she tacked, and standing close to a wind towards the
French frigate, fired a broadside into her quarter, while the latter was
in stays.  The effect of the broadside must have been severe, for it was
some time before she actually got about, leaving to the English frigate
the advantage of the weather-gauge, which had been the object of all the
previous manoeuvres.  For some time the two ships ran on alongside of
each other, rapidly exchanging shots, without any great apparent damage
to the masts or rigging.  They were so placed that many of the shots
which missed came flying towards the raft, but providentially she was
too far off for them to reach her.  Once more the after-yards of the
French ship being shot away, she kept off the wind, and, followed by her
antagonist, stood towards the raft, still keeping up a hot fire at her.
In a short time the damage was repaired, and once more the French ship
hauling her wind, the two stood on together close-hauled.  It was
evident, from the rapid way in which the French frigate's damages had
been repaired, that she was well manned, and that the result was by no
means so certain as Harry had at first anticipated.  The firing had had
the effect, it appeared, of lessening the little wind there had
previously been.  The two frigates, therefore, moved but slowly, and
consequently kept within sight of those on the raft.  Harry was almost
too eager to speak.  David now and then made a few remarks.  More than
an hour had passed away since the commencement of the action, and as yet
there was no visible advantage gained by either party.  Suddenly Harry
gave a cry of anger and annoyance, in which David joined him.  The old
man looked up.  There was cause for it.  The flag of England was seen to
drop from the masthead of the frigate.  Could it be that she had struck?
The firing continued as furious as ever.  No, it was impossible!

"See! see! there's another flying out!" exclaimed the midshipman,
exultingly.  "All right, some fine fellow has climbed up and nailed it
there.  Only the halliards were shot away.  My captain would go down
sooner than strike; I know that."

The loud reports of the guns came succeeding each other rapidly over the
calm ocean.  Now a loud crash, then a broadside was fired by both
parties at once, the sound of the different guns blending into one; now
a perfect silence, and then again single shots, and after a cessation
another broadside.  At length the combatants scarcely moved, and became
enshrouded in a dense cloud of smoke, which nearly concealed them from
view.  The firing was more furious than ever.  They were yard-arm to
yard-arm, discharging their broadsides into each other.  A light breeze
played over the water--the ships emerged from the cloud of smoke.  The
English frigate had lost her mizen-mast, and its wreck lay over her

Harry groaned, but directly afterwards he shouted, "They'll not give in,
though--they'll not give in, I am sure they won't."



The loss of her mizen-mast did not appear to damp the ardour of the
British frigate's crew.  The firing was continued with unabated fury on
both sides, neither ship apparently moving through the water; now they
were shrouded in smoke--now the smoke was blown away, and the firing
ceased.  "The Frenchman's foremast is tottering!" shouted Harry.  "See!
see!  David.  Down it comes--hurrah! hurrah!"  Still the flags of their
respective countries waved at the mastheads of the frigates.  The mast
did not come down either when Harry thought it would, neither did the
firing cease altogether.  Faint sounds of musketry or pistol-shots came
across the water--then three or four great guns were fired--the sides of
the ships were close together, or rather, the bow of the English frigate
was fast to the Frenchman's side.

"They are boarding," cried Harry; "I know it must be that--then our
fellows will win the day.--The Frenchman's flag will be down directly.
Watch! watch!  I know it will."

They waited eagerly, looking out for some time.  Suddenly a cloud of
smoke ascended from one of the ships.  It was difficult to say from
which; again and again the guns were fired.  "I am afraid that after all
our friends are getting the worst of it," remarked David, with a sigh.

"Oh, no, no! impossible!" exclaimed Harry.  "See, see! down comes the
Frenchman's flag--hurrah! hurrah!  I knew it would be so.  Englishmen
are never licked.  We would go down first with our colours flying.
Hurrah! hurrah! we've gained the day."  Harry waved his cap above his
head, and shouted long and loudly, communicating his enthusiasm, not
only to David, but to the old man himself; but so vehement in his
demonstrations of joy did he become at last, that he nearly upset the
raft, and then well-nigh fell overboard himself.  David was rather more
quiet in his demonstrations, still he did not feel less satisfaction
probably than his friend.

"We must get on board to congratulate them," exclaimed Harry; "I
wouldn't miss that on any account; if we pull hard we shall be able to
get up to them--eh, Mr Jefferies?  They will be some time repairing
damages and shifting the prisoners, and they are not likely to make sail
till then."

"We mustn't count too much upon that, young gentleman; we are further
off than you think, and darkness will be down over the ocean long before
we can get up to them.  Besides, do you know, I don't think the sights
aboard those ships, either the conqueror or the conquered, would be so
pleasant as you suppose.  I know what a man-of-war is after a
hard-fought battle.  The decks strewn with the dead, and slippery with
blood and gore, the cockpit full of wounded men, lately strong and
hardy, now cripples for life, many dying, entering into eternity,
without a hope beyond their ocean grave, Christless, heathens in reality
if not in name, stifled groans and sighs, and oftentimes shrieks of
despair on every side.  Such sights I have seen in my youth, and I speak
the language of some of the great preachers who have come down to these
parts, and boldly put forth the gospel of salvation to perishing sinners
under the blue vault of heaven.  You only look at one side of the
picture, and that quickly vanishes away; mine, unhappily, is too real to
be wiped out quickly."  The old man spoke in a tone he had not hitherto
used, which showed that his education had been superior to that which
men of his vocation generally possess.

This remark, it must be confessed, considerably damped the ardour of the
young midshipman.  The latter, however, still continued to urge him and
David to try and get on board one of the ships.  They were in reality as
anxious as he was to do so, for they could not but feel that they were
exposed to many dangers while they remained on the raft.  The wind had
dropped, and in one respect this was in their favour, as the frigates
could not sail away; but what little wind there was was against them,
and this made rowing their heavy craft more tedious.  They progressed
very slowly, and after two hours' hard rowing they seemed no nearer than
before.  The day was drawing on; still they persevered.  Hope continued
to cheer the two boys, whatever the old man might have thought about the
matter.  At last Harry stopped.  "They are making sail, and the breeze
is getting up.  Oh dear! oh dear!  They'll be off before we can reach
them.  Still we'll try--pull away, David, pull away, there's a good

All the efforts of the lads brought them no nearer the two frigates.
They could see the British ensign run up above that of the French.
Still it was evident that they themselves were not observed: no wonder,
under the circumstances, as everybody on board must have been busily
engaged.  Still thus, as it were, to be deserted, was very trying to the
young lads.  They bore up, however, manfully under the disappointment.

"Perhaps the wind may fall or shift again, and they may have after all
to take a tack this way," exclaimed Harry, whose hopeful enthusiasm it
was impossible to damp.  At last the night returned, and the darkness
shut out the frigates from their sight.  The lads had to while away the
time by conversation, and expressed their intentions of not going to
sleep during the night; they, however, stowed themselves away in their
accustomed places, where, should they by any chance begin to slumber,
they might not run the risk of falling into the sea.  For some time they
kept to this resolution, Harry still buoyed up with the hope that they
might get on board the frigate in the morning.  At last David's voice
began to get very drowsy, so even did Harry's, and in spite of their
strange position and their anxiety, first one and then the other dropped
off to sleep.  The old man leaned forward to ascertain that they were
both secure.

"Sleep on, lads! sleep on!" he muttered.  "He who reigns above can alone
tell whether or not this is the last night you will spend on earth.  I
liked not the look of the sky when the sun went down, and before many
hours have passed this frail raft may be tossing on an ocean of foaming
seas."  The old man was silent, but he did not sleep.  Often he prayed.
He thought over many things of his past life, as men under such
circumstances are apt to do.  Happy are those who have not to reflect on
crimes committed, injuries done to others too late to remedy! and still
more fearful must be the thoughts of those who are not trusting to the
perfect and complete sacrifice offered on Calvary--whose sins have not
been washed away in the blood of the Lamb.  The old man knew in whom he
trusted, and no bitterness entered his thoughts.  The hours passed on;
stars became obscured; clouds were seen chasing each other across the
dark sky, slowly at first, then more and more rapidly; the raft began to
rock, scarcely perceptibly, then gently, then with more and more
movement, but the boys slept on; accustomed to spend their time on the
heaving wave, they did not feel the motion.  At length a grey cold light
began gradually to steal over the foam-covered ocean.  The boys still
slept on.  The old man alone was awake on the raft.  He lifted himself
up, and bent forward as if in prayer.  Thus he remained for some time.
At length David, less accustomed to the sea than Harry, awoke from the
motion of the raft.  The exclamation to which he gave utterance aroused
his companion; David quickly started to his feet, and gazed anxiously
around the horizon.  The two frigates had disappeared.  No sail was in
sight; nothing was to be seen but the heavy leaden-coloured waves, while
the clouds seemed to come closely down on all sides.  The raft drove
quickly on before the storm.

"In what direction are we going?" asked David.

"To the south-west, I have an idea," answered Harry; "but I should not
mind that, if I thought we were likely to fall in with the two

"Trust in God, my lads," said old Jefferies.

He spoke truly; for already the raft gave signs of breaking up, from the
violence to which it had been exposed.  The old man and the two boys did
all they could to secure it more strongly by such ropes as they still
had to spare, but it was difficult and dangerous to move from their
positions.  The seas followed rapidly, and more than once had almost
broken over them.  Still, while their mast stood, and they could keep
their sail set, they hoped to continue running before the sea.  They
spoke but little to each other, and continued looking out on either
side, in the hope of seeing some vessels which might afford them a
refuge.  Still none appeared.  The old man continued steering the raft
with great judgment and dexterity, but it was clear that the gale was
increasing, and that in a very short time the frail structure on which
they floated could not hold together amidst the fierce waves to which it
would be exposed.  Still, serious as was their position, the boys did
not forget that they had had nothing to eat since the previous night.
Harry dived down into their provision-box, and produced some biscuits
and a piece of tongue.  Their first care was to offer some to the old

"No, thank you, good lads, I've no hunger," he answered.

In spite of their pressing, he refused to take any of the food.

"I can't say that I'm not hungry," cried Harry, "though I'm afraid we
must go without our tea."

David, who felt something like old Jefferies, when pressed, however, by
Harry, gladly joined him in discussing such provisions as they could
easily get at.  Both of them were much refreshed by the nourishment, and
in spite of the foreboding looks of the old man could not help holding
sanguine hopes of escaping from their perilous position.  Still they
were hoping against hope, for in spite of the additional lashings they
had cast round their raft, first one piece of plank and then another was
torn off.

"Hold on tight!" cried Harry, as he gazed astern, "here comes a
tremendous sea, and I don't know how we shall keep before it."

As he spoke a high foaming wave came roaring up.  Already the raft was
mounting a wave in front, or the consequences would have been more
disastrous.  The upper part of the sea broke completely over the raft,
but it still floated on.  Those on it looked anxiously round to see if
any of their number were missing.  The old man was still at his post at
the helm, and the two boys at their places.  It was evident, however,
that a few more such seas would utterly destroy the raft.  As Harry
again gazed astern, he saw to his dismay many similar seas preparing to
follow; still he would not say this, even to David, and tried in his own
hearty way to keep up his companions' spirits.  An hour or so thus
passed away, when the raft gave stronger signs than ever of not having
power to hold together.

"How fearful it would be if we were separated!" said David, who clearly
comprehended what was likely to happen.  Just then another tremendous
sea came rolling up, and washed over the raft.  The boys clung on for
their lives, but when the raft once more rose to the surface, the mast
was gone.

"No hope, I fear," said David.

"Yes, there is!" cried Harry; "I see a vessel bearing down directly for

The boys eagerly turned their eyes towards the stranger.  It seemed
doubtful, however, whether the raft would hold together till her
arrival, or whether they could avoid being washed off the raft by the
sea, which kept continually rolling over them.  On she rapidly came.

"I don't much like her appearance," said the old man; "she doesn't look
much better than the craft which we before refused to go on board."

"We have no choice at all," said Harry.  "She looks like a Frenchman;
but even the Monsieurs, considering our circumstances, would not treat
us otherwise than with kindness," said David.

The boys waved and shouted with all their might.  It seemed doubtful
whether or not they were observed; still the stranger, a large topsail
schooner, was standing directly for them.  Presently they saw her
shorten sail.

"All right!" cried Harry; "we're seen."

She rounded-to close to them, so close, indeed, that the two boys were
able to grasp the ropes which were thrown to them, and were immediately
hauled up on deck.

"But old Jefferies, we mustn't desert him!" cried Harry, as he saw the
old man still on the raft.  "Here! fasten this rope round my waist, and
I'll go and haul him in."

The crew of the stranger seemed to understand him, but at that moment a
sea rolling up drove the raft completely under the schooner's bottom.  A
few fragments again appeared, but the old man was not to be seen.

"Oh, where is he? where is he?" cried David and Harry; "we must save the
good old man."

The people on board looked round on every side.  So deep was the grief
of the boys for his loss, that they scarcely for the moment seemed to
think of their own preservation, nor of the character of the vessel on
board which they had got.  It was very clear that the old man had sunk
for ever, as no signs of him appeared.  Once more the vessel was put
before the wind, and flew onward on her course.

Harry and David, on looking round, observed she was an armed vessel,
carrying sixteen long guns, with swivels and other pieces.  From the
language they heard spoken by the crew, they knew she was French; while,
from the varied dresses of the men and officers, they suspected she was
a privateer, and not a man-of-war.

"I'm afraid we shall not much like our quarters here," said Harry.  "The
best thing we can do is to put a good face on the matter, and go aft and
thank the captain for saving our lives; he will see by my uniform that I
am an officer, and treat us as gentlemen."

Poor Harry's patch of white cloth, however, was not likely to be treated
with much respect by a French privateer captain of those days.

"I wonder which of these fellows is captain," said Harry, as they
approached three or four rough-looking fellows, as they were walking the
deck with the air of officers.  "Oh, I wonder whether they will
understand English, for not a word of French can I speak."

"Nor can I indeed," said David; "I didn't think of that."

"We must make our intentions known, however," said Harry, "and I must
muster up what I can say.  I know they always begin by saying `Monsieur'
if they want to be polite, so I'll say `Monsieur Captain, Monsieur
Captain,'" looking round as he spoke, "we have to thank you for taking
us aboard your vessel, and should be still further obliged if you could
give us a change of clothes while ours are drying."

The Frenchmen looked at the boys with an air of indifference.

"Monsieur Captain," again began Harry, "I say we want to thank you for
pulling us out of the water."

"Perhaps the captain is not among these men," suggested David.

"I want to see the captain," said Harry, bowing as before.

At length a small wizen-faced man appeared from below.  His countenance
wore anything but a pleasant aspect.  By his dress, and the respect with
which the others seemed to treat him, the boys had little doubt that he
was the person of whom they were in search.  They accordingly approached

"Are you the captain?" said Harry, bowing as before, for he did not
forget his politeness, in spite of his wet clothes.

"Yes, I am," said the wizen-faced man.

"Oh, you speak English; how glad we are!" answered Harry, "because we
can thus thank you for saving our lives."

"No great reason to thank me," said the man, in an unpleasant tone.

"You speak English very well, sir," said Harry, wishing to soothe him.

"I have had plenty of time to learn it," said the captain.

"Where was that, sir?" asked Harry.

"In an English prison," answered the Frenchman, with a grin, turning on
his heel; "and I've no great cause to love those who kept me there, or
their countrymen."

"I'm afraid we've gained very little by the expression of our
gratitude," said David; "what are we to do?"



No one seemed disposed to pay the slightest attention to the two boys.
The officers glanced at them superciliously.  The captain, after taking
a few turns on deck, scowled on them as he passed on his way below.
They were left standing on the deck of the schooner, which went flying
on before the still increasing gale.  They were wet and cold, and
grieving for the loss of their old friend, as well as very anxious about
the sorrow their absence would cause their relatives at home.

"I suppose the Frenchmen won't let us starve altogether," said David.
"The officers indeed don't seem inclined to treat us well, but perhaps
the men may be differently disposed.  I propose that, having done what
we considered our duty, we go forward and throw ourselves upon their
kindness.  Still, as I'm a quarter-deck officer, we ought to be treated
with respect by the officers.  I'm sure, if we had picked up two French
midshipmen on board our frigate, we should have made regular pets of
them, and given them no cause to complain."

"But remember this is not a frigate," observed David; "I think it will
be wiser to put our dignity in our pockets, and make the best of things
as they are."

Still Harry held out for some little time; but at length the surly looks
of the officers, not to mention his hunger, made him yield to David's
suggestions, and they quietly worked their way forward.  As soon as the
backs of the officers were turned the men came round them, and by the
expression of their countenances showed that they at least bore them no
ill-will.  One or two, by signs, invited them below, and they were very
glad to escape from the cold autumn gale which was blowing through their
wet clothes.  Although unable to communicate by words, the lads had no
difficulty in making their wishes known to the Frenchmen by signs.  Some
dry clothes were quickly produced from the bag of a young seaman.  As
soon as Harry and David had dressed themselves in these, some provisions
and a bottle of wine were brought to them, the Frenchmen standing round
looking on with great satisfaction while they discussed them.

"_Buvez, me amis_," said a stout good-natured looking seaman, pouring
out a glass of claret.  The boys guessed by his signs clearly enough
what he said, and thanked him by nodding in return.  They both felt
considerably better for their repast.

"If it wasn't for the loss of poor old Jefferies, I should not have
minded it at all," said David; "but for him to lose his life, and for us
to find ourselves little better than prisoners on board a Frenchman, is
very trying."

"As you remember, nearly his last words were, `Trust in God,'" remarked
Harry; "so let us go on trusting; he was a good old man, and is gone to
heaven I'm sure, so we ought not to mourn for him much.  It would have
broken his heart to find himself on board this vessel."

"I wonder in what direction we are going?" said David.

"I will try and get a look at the compass when we go on deck again, but
we mustn't let the Frenchmen think we care anything about the matter,"
said Harry.

"What a pity it is we can't talk French a little!  I wish we could thank
these kind, good-natured fellows, because really I am very grateful for
their kindness to us."

"At all events, we can do it by signs," said Harry, jumping up and
shaking the Frenchman by the hand who had given them the wine.

"Much obliged, monsieur; much obliged for your good dinner; the sausages
were excellent.  We don't often taste such claret at sea as you gave

Of course, though the Frenchman did not understand a word Harry had
said, yet he was evidently in the way of becoming a favourite among
them.  When invited to return on deck they did not hesitate to do so,
for by keeping forward they were not recognised among the French crew.
In the evening they were again invited to join the mess of the men
below, which, if not quite in accordance with English notions, was not
quite the wretched fare on which Frenchmen are supposed to exist.
Indeed, it must be owned that the provisions were far better cooked and
made into more palatable messes than they would have been on board an
English vessel of the same character.  At night they had a berth
allotted to them in a standing bed-place forward, into which they were
too glad to creep.  Having thanked the God of mercy who had thus
preserved them, in a prayer which came from the very bottom of their
hearts, and asked for a blessing on all those they had left at home,
they lay down in their narrow berth, and stowed themselves away as well
as space would allow.  They had reason to be thankful that they had
escaped the perils to which they had been exposed for so many nights on
the raft; and though their sleeping-place was very close and dark, it
had the advantage of being dry.  They were very quickly fast asleep, in
spite of all the rolling and pitching of the vessel, as she dashed
forward across the stormy ocean.  There was no danger of their being
pitched out.  In spite of the groaning of the bulkheads, the whistling
of the wind through the rigging, the loud dash of the seas against the
vessel, and the numerous other loud wild sounds which are heard during a
gale at sea, the boys slept on till a gleam of daylight found its way
down to their narrow berth.

"_Mangez, mangez, mes amis_!" said a voice, which was recognised as that
of their kind friend of the previous evening.  He had come, it appeared,
to summon them to breakfast, for the crew were employed below in
discussing that meal.  Once on their feet, the boys found themselves
perfectly ready to join their French friends, and to do ample justice to
the food placed before them.

"If it were not for the dignity of the thing we should not be so badly
off, after all," said Harry; "but really I cannot quite get over the
skipper not treating us as officers, as he should have done."

The Frenchmen greeted them with kind smiles, and soon again reconciled
them to their wretched fate.

The gale now increased to a regular hurricane.  The schooner ran before
it under a close-reefed fore-topsail, but even then the seas followed so
rapidly that there appeared great probability of their breaking on
board.  Both officers and men either remained below, or, when necessity
compelled them to be on deck, kept close to the bulwarks, that they
might have something to catch hold of should an accident occur.  Under
these circumstances no work was expected to be done; the boys were
therefore allowed to do just as they pleased.  They wisely kept forward
among their friends the seamen.  They had observed a boy about their own
age eyeing them occasionally as he passed sometimes with a dish from the
cook's caboose, or with various messages with which he seemed to be
generally employed; yet he had not hitherto spoken to them.

"I like his looks," said David; "I can't help fancying that he wants to
be friendly.  Next time he passes us I will say something to him; or
see, I've got a knife in my pocket; I'll present it to him, it will show
our good-will."

"That will be very much like purchasing kindness," answered Harry.

In a few minutes after this the boy again came near.

"Here, garcon," said David, pulling out his knife as he spoke, "take
this, you may find it very useful."

"Merci," said the boy, "thank you--much obliged."

"What! do you speak English?" asked David.

"Very little, but I know what you say."

"Oh, we're so glad of that," exclaimed the two boys in the same breath.

"What is your name?" asked David.

"Pierre Lamont," answered the French boy.

"We shall be friends," said David.  "You don't hate the English, I hope,
like the captain?"

"Oh no, no," answered Pierre, "I love the English; my poor mother was
English, but she is dead, and so is my father, but he was French."

"Then have you no one to look after you?" exclaimed David, in a tone of

"No, I am all alone in the world, no one to care for me," said Pierre.

"Are you happy here on board this ship?" asked Harry.

"Oh no, no.  Sometimes I am pretty well off; but often our cruel men
order me about, and beat me with the rope's-end if I do not do quickly
what they command."

"You see, Harry," said David, "there's one on board this ship worse off
than we are.  We have some dear friends on shore, and though they don't
know what has become of us, we hope that they are are safe, and that we
shall get back to them some day."

"Do you know where we're going, Pierre?" asked Harry.  "I wanted to look
at the compass; but I'm afraid of going aft, lest I should meet the

"You are right to keep away from him," answered Pierre.  "If he knew
even that I spoke English he would treat me worse than he does.  But you
ask where are we going.  I believe that we're bound out to the West
Indies to take as many English merchant-vessels as we can find."

"I thought we were going in that direction," answered David.

"But, Pierre, do you think if any of the English vessels are defended,
that the captain will make us fight against our own countrymen?"

"Oh, you may depend on that," said Pierre.  "That is, you will be
employed in bringing up powder from below."

"What! shall we be turned into powder-monkeys?" exclaimed Harry, in a
tone of indignation.  "That will be too bad."

"Is that what you call the boys who bring up the powder?"

"Yes, but only the smallest among the ship's crew are employed in that
work, and they should not treat officers in that way, even though we are
their enemies," exclaimed Harry, indignantly.

"That is the very reason the captain will take delight in giving you
such employment," said Pierre.  "No one likes him on board.  Even the
officers fear him; but he is said to be a very good seaman and a daring
character, so brave that he cares for nothing."

From this account of the captain the boys saw that they were not far
wrong in the opinion they had formed of him from his countenance and his
manner towards them.  They resolved, therefore, to keep out of his way,
and to avoid irritating him if they could.  While the gale continued he
had quite enough to do to look after the vessel without troubling
himself about them.  Indeed, as far as they could judge, he had
forgotten that they were on board.  Although the place below where they
sat with the men was close and dark in consequence of being battened
down, they spent much of their time there.  Many of the men were
employed in various works.  Several were making models of vessels in a
way few English seamen could have done.  David proposed doing something
of the sort, to show the Frenchmen that he did not wish to be idle, and
that he felt himself at home among them.  He asked Pierre to get him
some corks, and to set to work to make a model of a village church.
This, with the aid of some pins, he rapidly accomplished with a file
which he borrowed from one of the men, and he drew down the warm
commendations of his companions, who were especially well disposed to
appreciate such efforts.  He accordingly presented it to his stout
friend, Jacques Rossillion, the good-natured seaman who had from the
first taken an interest in him.

Thus several days passed away till the gale abated, the sea went down,
and sail was once more made on the schooner.  Harry had been perhaps
unwisely anxious to put on his own uniform again, which was now
thoroughly dry and fit to wear.  Pierre advised him not to appear before
the captain in it.  "Still it's my proper dress," answered Harry, who,
like many midshipmen, was very tenacious on that subject.  The gale,
which had been in their favour, had carried them a long way towards
their destination, as they judged by the warmth of the atmosphere and
the tropical appearance of the sea.  The officers as usual paced the
quarter-deck, and the men congregated together forward.  A monkey, which
had hitherto stowed himself away somewhere out of sight, was among the
occupants of the deck.  To an English crew a monkey is a great
acquisition, but a French ship's company can scarcely get on without
one.  When they are inclined to play pranks he is always at their
service, and woe betide the unhappy small boy of a ship's company on
whose muster-roll a monkey is not to be found! as he has to endure what
the four-handed animal would otherwise have to go through.

On looking over the side Harry observed a black fin gliding along at the
same rate as the schooner.  "Look there, David; did you ever see a
regular shark before?" he said.  "If anybody was to fall overboard that
fellow would snap him in two in half a second.  The best swimmer would
have but a poor chance unless he was well prepared.  I have heard of a
sailor attacking a shark with a knife in his hand, and cutting him up;
but a man only with iron nerves and great presence of mind and a good
swimmer could ever make the attempt."  While they were speaking the
captain appeared on deck.  "Here, you boys, come aft," he shouted.
"What, do you think you are to pass away your time in idleness, and get
fed and grow fat?  You are very much mistaken if you think any such
thing.  Take each of you a tar-bucket, and go and black down the rigging
from the fore-topmast head."  Poor Harry looked at his uniform; it had
endured the wetting, but it would be spoiled in a few minutes by the
operation which he was ordered to perform.  He saw that it would not do
to disobey the captain's orders.  If they had time to find Pierre they
might borrow some frocks and canvas trousers.

"I say what I mean," shouted the captain; "and off with you at once--one
taking the starboard, and one the larboard rigging.  What, you don't
like to spoil your clothes, I see.  I was not allowed any clothes to
spoil when I was in an English prison."

"Surely you will let us borrow some frocks, sir," answered David.
"Though we are gentlemen, and unaccustomed to such work, we are willing
to obey you, only we don't want to spoil our clothes."

"Aloft, I say, or overboard you go.  There's a fellow alongside ready to
breakfast off you, if you are anxious to feed him."  The little
Frenchman looked so fierce that the boys really believed he was in

"It can't be helped," said David.  "You must tell me what to do, for I
never blacked down rigging even on board the yacht."

"Just secure the bucket as you descend, and take care not to let the tar
drop from the brush on deck.  It's not the difficulty of the thing, but
it is very derogatory."

Seeing that there was no use in further expostulation, the boys took
each of them a bucket as they were ordered, and ascended, one on one
side, and one on the other, of the fore-rigging, and having reached the
masthead Harry secured his bucket, and showed David how to secure his.
The operation, besides being a very dirty one, was tedious, as each rope
had to be gone carefully round with the tar.  Often they made melancholy
faces at each other as they gradually descended, but neither the captain
nor officers showed the slightest commiseration, only watching
apparently to see that the work was effectually performed.  While the
captain remained on deck the crew took no notice of them.  This was,
however, evidently done in kindness.  At length the work was over, and,
seeing the captain on deck, they thought the best way was to go aft and
report what they had done.  "Very well," said the captain; "tomorrow you
will black down the main-rigging; in the meantime I want to see a polish
put upon those brass stanchions, and the swivel guns are not so bright
as they should be.  I shall have work for you in my cabin, too, by and
by.  You are young English gentlemen, I understand.  You may consider it
a privilege to have to serve a poor republican seaman, who has worked
his way up from before the mast."

"We will do our best to obey you, sir," answered David, who wisely
wished to conciliate the man, in spite of his surly manners.  He
remembered that "a soft answer turneth away wrath."



Next morning, as soon as the boys appeared on deck, the captain again
called them aft.

"Aloft with you, lads, and black down the main-rigging," he exclaimed as
they approached him, looking more humble even than they felt.  Knowing,
however, that there was no use in refusing to do what they were ordered,
Harry and David took up the buckets to which the captain pointed, and
ascended as before.

"We must look out not to drop any tar on deck," said Harry, "he will
make it an excuse to give us a rope's-ending if we do; I'm sure he means

The boys soon gained the masthead, and began their very disagreeable
task.  The sun was extremely hot; the ship rolled slowly from side to
side as she glided on before the wind.  Poor David felt very sick and
wretched; more than once he thought he must give in, but Harry cheered
him by exclaiming--

"Let us show that we are Englishmen, and at all events that we are not
to be daunted by any work these Frenchmen can give us."

Thus encouraged, David, who really had as much spirit as Harry,
determined to persevere.  The work, however, progressed more slowly than
on the previous day.  Several times the captain came on deck and watched
them; they continued their work as it they did not observe him.  By the
time it was completed, as may be supposed, their clothing was entirely
spoiled.  As they stepped on deck he grinned at them maliciously.

"Ah! now you look what you must in future expect to be," he remarked;
"go forward and stow away those buckets, and then come aft to me."

"I wonder what he is going to make us do next?" said Harry, as they
handed the buckets over to the boatswain.  Poor David, overcome with the
heat, scarcely answered.  A cup of water which he had obtained from a
cask on deck somewhat revived him.

"Well, we must go aft, and face it out as best we can," he answered;
"come along, I'm ready."

The captain ordered them into his cabin.

"Now, lads, I want that furniture cleaned; the brass has not been
burnished for some time."  He put some leather into their hands.  The
difficulty of the work was not so great, but it was evidently given to
insult them on account of its menial character.  Harry especially felt
this.  Still they had no resource but to obey, and scrubbed away with
might and main.  At last the captain came below.

"Now, you young English midshipman, I've some special work for you to
do.  See that locker; there are several pairs of boots and shoes--you'll
find a blacking-bottle and brushes.  I want them cleaned."  Harry's
proud spirit rose within him.  Should he defy the tyrannical captain,
and declare that he would die sooner than so employ himself?  The
captain seemed to divine his thoughts.

"As you please, youngster," he observed; "no one disobeys me on board
this vessel."

Harry remembered the shark, and the captain's threat on the previous

"Oh!  I will help you," said David, looking at him.

"No, it is his work," said the captain.

Poor Harry saw there was no use in offering any resistance, and taking
out the brushes began to clean the shoes.  It was a work which a
midshipman in those days often had to perform for himself; but then it
was very different doing it for another, and that other a Frenchman.  At
length, however, the boys were dismissed, having performed all the tasks
given to them.  They hurried forward and dived below.  The first person
they met was Pierre, who looked with commiseration on their tarred

"I came on board with a nice clean suit, and had to spoil it just as you
have had to spoil yours," he observed; "and now he abuses me when I go
into his cabin, for not looking clean."

After this the boys were regularly sent aft to help wash down decks, and
to keep the stanchions and other parts about the ship bright.  This gave
them abundant occupation.  However, when they could manage to get below,
they were treated even more kindly than before by the crew.

They had been for some weeks cruising up and down without even sighting
a sail, when one morning, on Harry and David coming on deck, they found
the captain and officers in a considerable state of excitement.  The
captain himself went aloft with his glass, and on his return ordered the
ship's course to be altered, and all sail to be set.

"We are in chase of some vessel or other," observed Harry; "depend upon
it the Frenchmen expect to make a prize of her."

All hands were called on deck.  Now one sail and now another was
added,--some rigged out so as just to skim the surface of the water,
while with buckets and scoops the sails were wetted as high as they
could be reached.  Harry and David could see in the far distance a large
ship, which from her narrow yards and the cut of her sails Harry said he
thought was really a merchantman, which of course the Frenchman took her
to be.

"But suppose she is not," said David.

"Then they will find out that they have caught a Tartar, and we shall
get out of the power of this Monsieur Sourcrout," answered Harry;
"however, we mustn't raise our hopes too high."

"The ship ahead has shown English colours," the boys heard from some of
the crew, for they could not get a glass to look through.  She, it
seemed, did not like the appearance of the stranger, for she now set all
sail and went off also directly before the wind.  A stern chase is a
long chase, but if the chaser is a faster vessel than the chased, she
will come up with her at last.  As the day drew on it was very evident
that the schooner had gained very considerably on the chase.  She was
seen to be an old-fashioned merchant vessel, a regular West India
trader, probably, which would afford a rich prize to the captors.

The excitement of the captain and officers was extreme.  Already they
anticipated the rich booty which would soon be theirs.

"Oh! do you think those people on board that vessel will give in without
fighting?" asked David.

"I think very likely not," said Harry; "we shall soon know; in less than
an hour we shall be alongside."

"What had we better do?" asked David.

"Stay on deck and see what takes place," said Harry.

"What, and run the chance of being shot?" said David; "I don't think
that would be wise."

"Well, let us wait and see till the time comes," said Harry, who was
evidently very unwilling to go below while any fighting was taking

In the meantime the Frenchmen were very active in preparing the ship for
action.  Arm-chests were thrown open, and arms were handed to each of
the crew.  The cutlasses were secured to their waists, and the pistols
they stuck in their belts.  The guns were cast loose and loaded, and the
French ensign run up at the peak.  The magazine was opened, and Harry
and David were called aft by the captain, and told to go below.

"I knew that's what we should have to do," said Harry.

"Stand by, and hand up the powder as it is wanted," said the captain, in
an authoritative tone, which there was no disobeying.  Pierre and the
other boys were employed in the same way.

"We shall have to carry the powder on deck in these tubs, and sit on it
till it is wanted," said Harry.

"And run as great a risk of being shot as any of the crew?" asked David.

"There's no help for it," said Harry.  "If we refuse, the French skipper
is just as likely to shoot us through the head as not.  He's been
waiting for this opportunity to have his revenge on us."

As soon as the guns were loaded, a fresh supply of powder was called
for, and Harry and the other boys were ordered to carry it up on deck.
There they sat in a row on the tubs which contained the bags of powder,
looking anything but contented with their lot.  The schooner now rapidly
came up with the merchant vessel,--for such there seemed no doubt was
the character of the chase.  Whether or not she would fight seemed a
question.  As they drew nearer, a considerable number of men were seen
on deck, and she gave no signs of yielding.  As soon as the Frenchman's
bow-chaser could be brought to bear, a shot was fired, but no reply was
given.  Another and another followed in rapid succession.  Neither of
the shots took effect.  At length the schooner got near enough to fire a
whole broadside.  As she was about to do so, the ship hauled up her
courses, and, standing across the Frenchman's bows, gave her a raking
broadside which struck down several of her crew, and caused some little
damage to her masts and spars.  Harry and David looked anxiously towards
each other.  Neither of them was hurt, nor was Pierre, in whom they took
a warm interest.  This opposition, however, seemed to excite the captain
to the utmost pitch of fury.  He stamped and swore, and ordered a
broadside to be immediately poured into the English ship.  The two
vessels now ran on alongside each other.  It was clear if the English
vessel was to be taken, she would not be captured without a severe
struggle.  The Frenchman's guns were heavier and more numerous than
hers, and the crew were better trained to their use.  This soon began to
tell.  Several of her spars were soon shot away, and from the faintness
of her fire it seemed too probable that many of her crew had been killed
or wounded.  As long as the Frenchman's spars remained standing, to
escape was hopeless, and her guns were therefore directed rather to
knock away the Frenchman's masts than to kill the crew.  In this,
however, she was not successful, and several of her own spars were shot
away instead.  At length the French captain, delivering another
broadside, ranged up alongside with the intention of boarding.  An
attempt was made to avoid this, and boarding nettings were seen triced
up above the bulwarks of the English ship.  Again the Frenchman ran

"They shall not foil us a second time," exclaimed the French captain;
"no quarter if they do not yield."

Harry and David trembled for the fate of their unfortunate countrymen on
board the merchantman.  Just then the English ensign was seen to descend
from the peak.  Those on board the English vessel thought that further
resistance was hopeless.  The Frenchmen swarmed up the sides, and were
quickly in possession of the English ship.

"We'll follow, and see what takes place," said Harry; "we may perhaps
help some of the poor people."

As there was no one to interfere with them, they were soon on the
merchantman's deck.  Some five or six of the crew lay dead, while three
or four others, badly wounded, were being conveyed below.  The French
captain, by his gestures, seemed disappointed at not having his expected
revenge, and he was abusing the English captain for having attempted to
oppose him.  A man stood by, receiving the swords of the captain and
several other persons, who seemed to be gentlemen.  Harry and David
observed one whose face had been turned away from them at first.

"Harry," exclaimed David, "I'm sure that's Captain Rymer.  If Mary is on
board, how dreadful for her!"

"It's very like him," said Harry; "I'm afraid it must be him.  But how
could he have come on board the ship?  We shall soon know, at all
events--I will try and speak to him."

As may be supposed, even their dearest friends would not have known the
two lads in their tarry clothes, and their faces begrimed with powder.
As soon as the French captain and his followers went below to examine
the cargo of the ship, Harry and David stole up to the gentleman whom
they supposed to be Captain Rymer.  He was indeed their friend.

"What, lads!" he exclaimed, looking at them, "are you really alive?  I
am thankful to find you so, even in this plight."

Harry rapidly explained how they came to be on board the French vessel.

"And is Mary with you?" asked Harry, eagerly.

"Yes, and there are several other ladies in the cabin below.  They have
shut themselves in, and I trust will receive no annoyance from the

"I don't think we should be seen talking with you," said Harry, "because
we may hope to be of some assistance, although we don't see clearly how
that is to be just yet."

The Frenchmen seemed highly elated at finding they had captured an
unusually rich prize, and were in a very good humour, in spite of the
loss of a few of their number.  The dead were soon thrown overboard, and
the wounded placed in the doctor's hands out of sight, the decks washed
down, and most of the traces of the combat done away with.  A picked
crew of the Frenchmen was sent on board the English merchantman, which
it seemed the intention of the captain to carry into the nearest port in
the West Indies belonging to France.  Harry and David could not bear the
thoughts of being separated from Captain Rymer, and resolved to stow
themselves away on board the English vessel, hoping they might not be
missed.  Among the prize crew were, to their great satisfaction, their
good-natured friends Jacques Rossillion and Pierre Lamont.  The first
lieutenant came to take the command.  The Frenchmen more than doubled
the remainder of the English crew, who, however, were expected to assist
in working the ship.  Scarcely had these arrangements been made when a
strong breeze sprang up.  The boats were hoisted in, and the two vessels
separated.  The wind increased very rapidly, and so heavy a sea got up
that it would have been dangerous for a boat to pass from one vessel to
the other.  Before long, however, the schooner ranged up near the ship.

"You have got those two English boys on board; give them the
rope's-end," shouted the French captain, who, apparently, had only just
then discovered that Harry and David had escaped him.

The French lieutenant replied that he would see to it, and again the
vessels separated.  He, however, had never looked at them in the same
surly way the other officers had done, and as they took good care to
keep out of his sight, he seemed to forget the orders he had received.
The wind went on increasing till it seemed likely to become a regular
hurricane.  The management of the ship completely occupied the French
crew, so that they had but little time to look after their prisoners.
The English captain and his officers were ordered to remain as prisoners
in one of the cabins with a sentinel placed over them, but the rest of
the crew were allowed to go about at liberty.

"Don't you think it would be possible to get back the ship?" said Harry
to David.  "Shall I propose to make the attempt to Captain Rymer?"

"If it was not for Mary and the other ladies," said David, "he might
consent; but the risk to them would be too fearful were we to fail."

Hitherto they had not had the opportunity of seeing Mary.  Finding,
however, that the Frenchmen as well as the English crew were engaged in
making the ship snug, they stole aft and found their way to the cabin

"May we come in?" said Harry.

"Yes, yes," answered a voice, which they thought was Mary's.

When, however, they opened the door and presented themselves, for a
minute Mary could scarcely recognise them, so changed were they since
the day they had parted from her after the picnic--Harry in his bright
new uniform, and David in his trim yachtsman's attire.  Now their hair
was long, their cheeks were sunken, at least so far as could be seen
through the powder which begrimed them, and their dresses were covered
from head to foot with tar; still, the moment they spoke, she sprang
forward and took them warmly by the hands.

"Oh, I am so thankful that you have not been lost, as we thought you
were," she exclaimed, and the tears came into her eyes; "this is a very
sad way of meeting, but still I hope God will protect us all, and I am
thankful to see you both."

Most of the ladies, who were all passengers, were eager to hear of the
boys' adventures.  These they briefly gave.  Some, however, were too
frightened by the sound of the hurricane, and the tossing and rolling of
the ship, to listen to them.

"Do you think there is any danger?" at last asked Mary of Harry.

"I hope not," said Harry, "but Captain Rymer knows more about it than I

Captain Rymer, who at this moment entered the cabin, looked somewhat
anxious, though he endeavoured to speak in a cheerful voice, and began
to express his satisfaction at the escape of his young friends from the
numerous dangers to which they had been exposed.  Night was now coming
on, and it was evident that the ship was in the midst of a regular West
Indian hurricane.  The French officer was evidently a good seaman, and
did all that could be done under the circumstances for the safety of the
ship.  The topgallant-masts were struck, and every sail was furled
except a closely reefed fore-topsail, with which the ship ran before the
gale.  Night had now come on; the wind, as is generally the case during
a hurricane, shifted so much that it was difficult to ascertain in what
direction she was driving.  Captain Rymer several times went on deck,
but had a not very satisfactory report to give on his return.

"As long as the ship does not spring a leak we have nothing to fear,
however," he observed.

Still the ship rolled and pitched so much that it seemed scarcely
possible that a structure of wood and iron could hold together.  The
poor ladies had to sit on the deck of the cabin and hold on by the legs
of the table, while the lamp swung backwards and forwards in a way that
threatened every instant to cause its fracture.  Harry and David, though
they had seen enough of storms, agreed to go up on deck and see what was
taking place.  One glance satisfied them.  The mountain seas, covered
with white foam, were rolling up on either side of the ship, and
threatened every instant to come down upon her deck.  They gladly
descended again.

"I don't at all like the look of things, I confess," said David.  "As
long, however, as Captain Rymer is satisfied that all is right, so
should we be."



It is scarcely necessary to relate that Captain Rymer was on his way, on
board the _Cerberus_, West Indian merchantman, to take the command to
which he had been appointed when he was captured by the privateer.  He
had been too much accustomed to the ups and downs of a sailor's life to
be disheartened at what had occurred, though it was a great trial it
must be owned.  He had cause also to be grateful that he and his
companions had not received that ill-usage to which passengers were too
often subjected when their vessel was taken by a privateer.  It might
have been very different had the French captain himself remained on
board.  He had now, however, great cause for apprehension, in
consequence of the increasing violence of the hurricane.  The
_Cerberus_, he knew, was a stout, strong-built ship, but many a stout
ship had gone down in a West Indian hurricane; not long before, several
line-of-battle ships with all their gallant crews had been lost.  Things
on deck looked as bad as they well could do.  He was a Christian man,
and put his trust in One who is all-able to save.  Thus he could impart
hope and confidence to his companions.  Hitherto the ship had not sprung
a leak, and, as far as he could judge, they were at some distance from
any land.  The French had, however, become alarmed.  Some, like true
men, stayed at their posts on deck, but the greater number had gone
below and stowed themselves away in the berths.  A few had endeavoured
to break open the spirit-room, but the French officers, suspecting their
intentions, had been in time to prevent them, and threatened to shoot
the first man, whether Frenchman or Englishman, who would again make the
attempt.  Order was thus kept on board.  No human power was longer of
any avail in guiding the ship.  The hatches were battened down in time
to prevent the seas, which now began to break on board, from washing
below.  On she drove before the hurricane.  The caboose and spars were
first washed away; then two of the quarter-boats shared the same fate.
The seas were making a clean sweep over the decks; still on she drove.
Now part of the bulwarks were knocked to pieces, and it seemed that in a
short time everything on deck would follow; still the masts stood and
the ship floated.  There was hope, but it grew fainter and fainter; even
the stoutest hearts had cause to fear.  Several fearful hours followed.
The hurricane howled more loudly and fiercely around the ship, and the
raging seas seemed to have gained her as their prey.

"Do you really think she will live through it?" asked David of Harry.

"Yes, I do think so; we've gone through so many dangers, that I can't
fancy that we're to be lost at last," was Harry's reply.

Another and another hour passed away.  "Surely the hurricane must come
to an end at last," said David.  "Did you ever know one last so long,
Captain Rymer?" he inquired.

"They seldom last more than twelve or fifteen hours, and this gives me
hope that we shall escape," answered their friend.  "I see a gleam of
daylight coming through a scuttle.  Depend upon it, before long the wind
will begin to fall."

While they were speaking loud cries arose from those on deck.  "Breakers
ahead!" shouted the English crew.  Directly afterwards there was a
fearful crash.

"We're cast upon a reef!" exclaimed Harry; "perhaps, after all, our last
day is come."

Captain Rymer set an example of coolness to his companions.  "Remain
together," he said to Mary and the other ladies, "I will go on deck and
ascertain the state of affairs, and return for you, if there is a
prospect of your reaching the shore.  We are in God's hands, and though
we may be unable to help ourselves, let us feel that He will care for

While he was thus speaking, the ship seemed to be lifted by the seas,
and then down she came again with another crash.  Just as Captain Rymer
reached the deck, followed by David and Harry, the masts were seen to go
by the board; the ship had struck upon a reef, over which the sea was
driving her, and inside of it the waters seemed comparatively calm.

"Why, men," shouted Captain Rymer to the crew, "I believe if we remain
by the ship we shall all be able to gain the shore in safety."  The
Frenchmen, however, did not understand him, and were engaged in
launching the remaining boats.  He felt sure that in the raging seas
which surrounded the ship no boats would live.

"Whatever happens, we will remain on board," he said to Harry and David.
"The ship I know is strong, and will hold together till the storm is
abated.  Those who attempt to embark now will, I fear, lose their

In vain he urged the Frenchmen to remain.  The English captain alone,
with one of his officers, agreed that he was right.  The boats were
lowered and the infatuated men leaped into them.  Pierre Lamont had
courageously remained on deck during the hurricane, but he now seemed
inclined to follow his countrymen into the boats.  Harry and David saw
him, and shouted to him not to go.  Hearing them he turned back, but one
of the Frenchmen seized him by the arms, and before he could disengage
himself, had dragged him into the boat.  Scarcely, however, had the
boats shoved off, crowded with human beings, than first one, then the
other, was capsized, and all were thrown into the water.  In vain the
shrieking wretches attempted to regain the ship; some clung to the
boats; a few who could swim struggled for some time amid the foaming
waves.  Captain Rymer had before this gone below, but Captain Williams
and those who remained on deck, got ropes ready to throw to any who
might be washed near the ship.  None were so fortunate, and one by one
they were carried far away, and disappeared amid the foaming breakers.

"Is there not one who can be saved?" exclaimed David, who had stood
watching the scene with horror.

"Yes, yes, I see one clinging to the wreck of our masts," answered
Harry; "I must go and try to rescue him.  I do believe that it is

"Oh, let me go then," said David; "I can swim better than you, you

"This is a case for scrambling rather than for swimming," answered
Harry; "I'll fasten a rope round my waist, and we'll have him quickly on

Harry, before David could offer another objection, did as he proposed.
It was an undertaking, however, of the greatest danger, and the utmost
activity and vigilance could alone have saved him from being struck by
the broken spars which were dashed here and there by the seas.

At length Harry reached the object of his search.  Pierre looked up at
him eagerly.  "Oh, save me, save me!  I cannot hold on longer," he

Harry sprang forward and grasped the French boy by the collar just as
his hands relaxed their hold.  He dragged him up on the mast.  To return
with him was even more difficult than the first part of the undertaking.
Undaunted, however, Harry persevered, and, though more than once almost
losing his footing, succeeded at length in bringing young Pierre on
board.  "Brave garcon!" exclaimed Jacques, as he helped him up; "oh, I
would die for you!  I will be ever your friend."

Except the lieutenant in command, and honest Jacques Rossillion, no
Frenchman remained on board, and the ship was once more, therefore, in
possession of the English.  Scarcely had this fearful catastrophe
occurred than the weather gave evident signs of improving.  Captain
Williams, the English commander, accompanied by Captain Rymer, went
round the ship below and brought back a satisfactory report that she
appeared to have suffered very little damage by the blows she had
received.  The shore was, however, not particularly inviting; a few
groups of cocoa-nut trees and other tropical plants were alone to be
seen.  It was an island scarcely more than two miles in circumference,
one of those spots known as keys in the West Indies; still, should the
ship break up, it would afford them shelter, and they could not help
longing to be able to reach the beach.  As the boats and all had been
lost, this could not be done till a raft had been built.  The gentlemen
immediately set about constructing one.  As the spars had all been
washed away, it was necessary first to get those which floated alongside
from the rigging.  There were planks also below; these were got up, with
all the empty casks which could be collected.  By knocking away some of
the bulwarks, and by bringing on deck a few of the seamen's chests, they
soon had materials for constructing a raft large enough for carrying the
whole party.  All hands worked with a will.  The French lieutenant was
very active, and seemed in no way put out by having the tables so
completely turned upon him.  He was probably grateful, as he ought to
have been, for having escaped with his life.  By the time the raft was
finished, the sea had so completely gone down that there was little
difficulty in launching it.  The bulwarks having been already completely
washed away, all that was necessary was to let it slip quietly
overboard.  Its constructors gave a cheer as they saw it floating calmly
alongside; they had still, however, to rig the mast and sail, as well as
to fit some oars to guide it towards the shore.

When this was done, the captains invited all the passengers up on deck.
It was agreed that it would be safer to convey only half at a time.
Harry and David begged that they might accompany Captain Rymer and Mary.
Captain Rymer agreed to let Captain Williams conduct the first party,
saying that he should be content to remain on board till the return of
the raft.  Before the raft left the side, a supply of provisions were
lowered down upon it; and, with the prayers of those who remained on
board for its safe voyage, the raft shoved off from the side of the
ship.  Its progress was slow, for there was very little wind, and there
seemed to be a current sweeping round the island which took it out of
its direct course.  At length, however, it reached the beach, and those
on it leaped out and ran eagerly up on to the dry land.  The men had,
however, to return for the provisions, which were landed in safety.
Then Captain Williams, and two seamen who accompanied him, had to return
to the ship; they were a considerable time, and it seemed doubtful
indeed, in consequence of the current which had to be encountered,
whether they would regain her.  They succeeded, however, at last.

Captain Rymer, with those who had remained on board, had employed their
time in getting up provisions, and their first care was to load her with
as large a supply as she could safely carry; this done, the remainder of
those on board now made for the shore, which by some exertion they
safely reached.  The first care of the shipwrecked party on reaching the
shore was to send out some of their number in search for water.  Captain
Rymer had brought some from the wreck, but this was only sufficient to
last for a short time, and their lives might depend upon their obtaining
a supply.  Only those who have felt the want of water know how to
appreciate its value.  Others, in the meantime, employed themselves in
getting up a tent for the ladies; for which purpose they had brought
some spare sails and ropes.  In a short time the party which had gone
out in search of water returned with the report that none was to be
found.  This rendered it important to economise their slender store, and
to procure a future supply from the ship as soon as possible.

All this time no one seemed to have thought of the French privateer.
She had not been seen since the commencement of the hurricane, from
which, if she had escaped, it was too probable she would come and look
for her prize.  This was a source of anxiety to Captain Rymer, for,
though of course anxious to escape from their present position, he had
no wish at all to fall again into the hands of the French.

The men of the party found ample occupation for the rest of the day, in
putting up shelter for themselves, for hot as is the climate of the West
Indies, it is dangerous to sleep exposed to the night dews.

Pierre seemed anxious to make himself useful, and begged that he might
be allowed to attend on the ladies.  Jacques offered to undertake the
office of cook, the duties of which he was far better able to perform
than any of the English.  The French lieutenant seemed the most
cast-down of any of the party.  He sat by himself not speaking to any
one, and with an air of discontent, put away the food which was brought
to him.

"The poor lieutenant mourns and seems very unhappy," said David to

"Yes," answered Pierre, "he is often thus morose when anything annoys
him; the poor man has no religion."

"Is he not a Roman Catholic?" asked David.

"Oh, no; a large number of my countrymen threw off all religion at the
Revolution, and many, like him, have not taken to any since.  He, I am
afraid, does not believe in God, or in any future state, but that when
he dies he will become just like a dog or a pig; so, you see, he has no
hope, and nothing to keep him up."

"But what are you, Pierre? are you not a Roman Catholic?" asked David.

"Oh, no, I am a Protestant," answered Pierre; "there are a great many
Protestants in France, and though some few at the Revolution became
infidels, by far the greater number remained firm to the true faith."

"I didn't know there were any Protestants in France," said Harry, who,
like many boys at that time, fancied that the English were the only
Protestant people in Europe.

"Oh, yes, there are a great number who are known as Huguenots, and who
fought bravely for the Protestant faith," said Pierre.  "My father was
of a Huguenot family, and many of his ancestors lost their lives for the
love they bore the Bible."

"Ah! that was a noble cause to die for," remarked David.  "How sad to
think that people should reject the truths it contains."

This conversation took place as the boys were sitting together in front
of the tent.  Darkness now came rapidly on, but from the look of the
weather there seemed every prospect of their having the blessing of a
quiet night.  The sea had gone completely down, and the moon shone forth
over the calm waters, the light just falling upon the spot where the
wreck lay, so that any object could be seen approaching it.  Captain
Rymer and Captain Williams agreed, however to keep watch for the
protection of their charges.  Three English seamen, with the mate,
wisely remained by their captain.  There were, besides Captain Rymer,
four gentlemen passengers, West Indian planters, going out to their
property.  They were not men of much individual character, evidently
more accustomed to look after their own creature comforts than to
trouble them selves about their fellow-beings.  There was one subject in
which they were all agreed, that the emancipation of the negroes would
ruin them, and all persons concerned.  It was a doubtful matter whether
negroes had souls, and that to attempt to educate them was a work of the
greatest folly.  In this matter Captain Rymer did not agree with them,
and the discussion of the subject afforded them abundant supply of
conversation at all times.

The night passed quietly away.  As soon as it was dawn, Captain Rymer
urged Captain Williams to return at once to the wreck, and bring on
shore a further supply of provisions and water.

"We cannot tell what may occur," he observed.  "The hurricane season is
not yet over, and should another hurricane come on, and the vessel go to
pieces, we might be starved, and die for want of water."

The wisdom of this advice was so evident, that the raft was immediately
despatched, under the captain's charge, to bring off the cargo.  In a
short time it returned, and a message was delivered from the captain,
that he thought it would be wiser to build another raft, in order more
rapidly to get the stores on shore.  This work occupied the men the
whole of the day.  Jacques alone remained on shore to cook the
provisions, with the help of Pierre, while David and Harry begged that
they might be allowed to go off to the wreck, where they thought that
they could make themselves useful.

"I vote that we make a small raft for ourselves," said Harry; "and I
think that we can paddle her backwards and forwards several times, while
the big raft is only making one voyage."

With the experience they had already attained, they soon carried their
plan into execution, and in a short time conveyed a considerable
quantity of the stores on shore.  During their last trip, however, Harry
observed close alongside the raft a black fin, and a wicked pair of eyes
glancing up at him.

"There's a brute of a shark," he exclaimed; "he thinks he's going to get
a meal off one of us, I suspect."

Still they kept paddling on, and the shark did not attempt to come
nearer them.  They were not sorry, however, when they reached the shore,
and Captain Rymer told them that he considered they had done enough for
the day.  It must be owned it was far pleasanter to sit near Mary, and
listen to the account of all their friends at home.  She did not tell
them how completely they had been given up, for she knew it would make
Harry especially melancholy to think of the sorrow his supposed loss had
caused his mother, nor did she tell him how very sorry she herself had
been.  Indeed, she could say truly that many of their friends fully
expected that they would turn up at last.

"Doesn't this put you in mind of our picnic?" said Harry, looking up at
her, "though to be sure we are somewhat changed since then," looking
down on his tarred and dirty dress.  "I really think the next time I go
on board the wreck I must try and find a new suit of clothes."

"You do look rather disreputable," said Mary, laughing, "for an officer
in His Majesty's service.  Here comes Jacques with the dinner.  Really
Jacques must be a first-rate cook, and we ought to be thankful that he

None of the party seemed inclined to be out of spirits, except the
lieutenant, who sat as usual by himself, and refused to take the food
Pierre offered him.  Had it even been otherwise, the good well-cooked
dinner provided by Jacques might have put them in good humour, while
there was no lack of wine, of which the West Indian planters had laid in
a good store.  In the evening a further supply of provisions and water
was obtained from the wreck.  The next day was wisely occupied in the
same way, till a sufficient supply of food was landed to last for a
couple of months or more.  More than once it was discussed whether it
could be possible to get the wreck off, but it was agreed that without
more strength than they possessed it would be impossible, though, as far
as could be ascertained, she had suffered no material damage.  Some of
the party thought they took a great deal of trouble for little purpose,
and that it would be more easy to get the stores on shore as they were

"They will see the wisdom of what we have done should a hurricane come
on," said Captain Rymer, "and I am not at all sure, from the appearance
of the weather, that we shall escape one."

The next morning the heat was intense.  The sun rose surrounded by a
mass of ruddy hue, but was hidden ere long in a thick canopy of cloud.
Not a breath of wind stirred the calm waters.  In the distance a sail
was seen, which had approached the island during the night.  Captain
Rymer had been watching her for some time through his glass.  The French
lieutenant, on observing her, sprang to his feet, and eagerly asked the
captain to let him look through the glass.

"It is the _Hirondelle_!" he exclaimed.  "Then she did not go down in
the last hurricane.  My captain guessed rightly that the prize was cast
away on some island in this direction.  He is a sagacious man."

"I wish his sagacity had not led him to discover us," said Captain
Rymer.  "If he lands here he may after all succeed in getting off the

This announcement caused, as may be supposed, a considerable amount of
anxiety among those on the island.  While they were watching, two boats
were seen to leave the schooner.  Hitherto it had been so calm that a
feather held up would have fallen to the ground.  Suddenly, however,
there came a low moaning sound, and the leaves of the palm trees began
to rustle strangely.  In an instant afterwards the blast swept over the
island, snapping off the tops of many of the tallest trees.  The tents
were blown down, and it was with difficulty that those on the island
could avoid being carried away.  The sea, hitherto so calm, came dashing
in huge foaming billows against the weather side, and breaking over the
wreck with tremendous force, and it seemed scarcely possible that she
could resist the blows that she was receiving.  Now one sea and now
another dashed against her, till she seemed to be completely covered
with a mass of foam.  They looked out for the schooner, she was nowhere
to be seen.  Either she had gone down, or had been driven far away by
the hurricane.  The hurricane continued blowing without cessation; now
coming from one quarter, and now from another.

Evening was approaching, and an unusual darkness overspread the ocean.
It was fearful to contemplate what might be the fate of many of those
who floated on that stormy sea.  It was impossible to put up any shelter
for the ladies, but Mary felt that she had her father to protect her,
who sat by her side, sheltering her as well as he could, aided by Harry
and David.  Thus the night passed away, the whole party sitting grouped
together for mutual protection.  "What could have become of the
schooner?" was a question often asked and answered.  The morning broke
at length.  The _Cerberus_ had disappeared, but still further off, at
the end of the reef, an object was seen.  It was part of a wreck; there
were human beings clinging to it.  "Whether Englishmen or Frenchman we
must endeavour to save them," said Captain Rymer.



The hurricane had given signs of abating, but the sea was still far too
rough to allow of even a good boat going off to the people on the reef;
still more impossible would it have been to have reached them by means
of a raft.  On examining the rafts which had been constructed to bring
the cargo on shore, both were found to have suffered by the hurricane.
It was determined, therefore, to build a smaller and more manageable
one, by means of which it was hoped to reach the shipwrecked people.
This work Captain Williams and his companions immediately set about
performing.  The French lieutenant now thoroughly aroused, lent his hand
to it.  In the course of a couple of hours a structure was formed with
which it was hoped they might venture out to sea.

Their next undertaking was to cut out a number mast, and fit a sail for
the raft.  Still the sea would not allow them to venture from the shore;
they had, therefore, to wait patiently, watching in the meantime the
people whom they were anxious to rescue.  The wreck seemed to be fixed
firmly at the end of a reef, and to have afforded them a shelter from
the fury of the seas, which would otherwise have washed them away.
Still, as they probably had no food nor water, it was impossible that
they could exist there for any length of time.  Should any attempt be
made by those on the wreck to reach the shore by swimming, it was but
too probable that they would be carried off by the sharks, numbers of
which swarmed around the island.  In the meantime, the men were employed
in getting up the tent, and in restoring matters to the condition they
were in before the hurricane.

The poor ladies had suffered greatly from the alarm into which they had
been thrown, and it was necessary they should obtain that rest which had
been denied them during the night.  Mary, however, kept up her spirits,
and could not help expressing her thankfulness that Harry and David had
been saved, and were thus sharing with her the adventures which she was
not likely to forget to the end of her days.

"How curious it will be when they hear about us at home," said David,
"and that we were all wrecked together on this out-of-the-way island."

"But how are they to hear about us?" observed Mary; "we must get away
from this before we can send a letter home, and how we are to get away
seems the question."

"Some means will turn up, depend upon it," said Harry, "we shall be seen
by some passing ship, or if not, we must build a boat and try to reach
some of the nearest islands.  We are not likely to have to spend all our
lives here, depend on that."

They little thought of the difficulties and dangers they had still to go
through.  The day was advancing, but still the sea was considered too
rough to allow the raft to be launched.  They watched the people on the
reef, who seemed to be clustering together, and who probably, unless
they had a telescope, would not be aware that there were any people on
the shore likely to come to their assistance.  At length the sun set,
and very unwillingly they were obliged to abandon the hope of going off
till the following morning.  They anxiously watched the weather during
the night, and were thankful to find that the wind had dropped to a
perfect calm.  By daybreak Captain Williams summoned those who had
agreed to accompany him, consisting of his mate and two English seamen,
and Jacques Rossillion.  By means of the long sweeps, which had been
carefully fitted to the raft, they were enabled to urge it along at a
good speed over the waters.

"Success attend your efforts!" said Captain Rymer, as he assisted in
shoving off the raft.  Harry and David begged that they might also go,
and assist in working the sweeps; and their offer was accepted.  They
had a somewhat long voyage to perform, and though they vigorously worked
the sweeps they could not move the raft more than at the rate of three
miles an hour.  As they approached the reef they were perceived by the
shipwrecked party, who waved to them as if urging them to come faster.
As they drew near the men pointed to their mouths, indicating that they
were suffering from thirst.  Unhappily, no water had been brought off.
Several, it appeared, had been in a state of delirium, and it was very
evident that it would be dangerous to approach too close to the wreck,
lest a number jumping upon the raft might upset it.  There appeared to
be about twenty or thirty people on the wreck, and Captain Williams
agreed that it would not be safe to convey more than eight or ten at a
time to the shore.  The French lieutenant recognised the men as
belonging to the schooner's crew, and he called out to them by name,
ordering eight at a time to come down, and that they would be taken on
board.  They did not seem, however, inclined to obey him.  Fortunately,
Captain Williams had stuck a brace of pistols in his belt, and he now
threatened to shoot any who might attempt to come on board the raft
unless ordered by the lieutenant.  This had the effect of keeping back
the greater number, and eight of the Frenchmen were safely got on board
the raft, which now at once commenced its return to the shore.  Those
who remained on the reef entreated that they might not be deserted,
though they would scarcely believe the promise made by their officer
that he would return for them.  The poor men who had been rescued showed
how much they had been suffering by pointing to their parched tongues,
and again and again asking for water.

Captain Williams and his companions exerted themselves to the utmost to
reach the shore.  This they at length accomplished, and water was
immediately procured for the thirsty men.  Their sufferings might be
those of the whole party, unless great economy was used in distributing
the precious fluid.  A small cask was put on the raft, with some cups,
and once more the party set forth to return to the reef, leaving those
who had first landed to the care of their friends on shore.  As the raft
again approached the reef, the poor wretches who had been left upon it
were seen stretching out their hands eagerly for water.  There was still
great danger lest they might rush down, in their anxiety to obtain it,
and either fall into the water or upset the raft.  Much caution was
therefore necessary.  The lieutenant and Jacques first leaped on to the
rock, when Captain Williams handed them up the cups of water; but the
first man who got the cup refused to let it leave his lips till he had
drained every drop.  Two were seen to fall backward after they had
drunk, and it was with difficulty they were saved from falling into the
sea.  Several who were already in a state of delirium, scarcely seemed
to value the boon which had been brought them.  In time, however, water
was given to all, and it was now necessary to select those who might be
carried away on the raft, as it would require another trip before all
could be removed.  Harry and David looked somewhat anxiously for the
French captain, but neither he nor any of the officers were among those
saved.  More than half of the crew, it was evident, had been lost.  The
lieutenant did not ask questions; indeed the poor men were not in a
condition to have replied to them.

For the safety of the raft it was necessary to secure the limbs of those
who were in a state of delirium, and it was painful to see them
struggling, as they lay on the raft, not understanding that this was
done for their own safety.  The second party were thus landed safely,
and again the raft put off for the remainder of the crew.  They had to
row the whole way; indeed it was fortunate that there was no wind, as it
would have made the approach to the reef much more dangerous.  As it
was, during the last trip the raft was very nearly driven against the
rocks by one of those sudden upheavings of the ocean which sometimes
occur, and send the water breaking over any opposing obstacle.  Happily,
they were able to shove off in time.

Altogether, nearly thirty people were safely landed.  It became,
however, a serious consideration to the former occupants of the island,
how the new comers were to be fed.  They had provisions which might have
lasted them a couple of months or more, though they had already seen the
necessity of going upon an allowance of water; their numbers were now
doubled, and they had not water to last them more than a very short
time.  Still, disregarding the character of those who had been rescued,
they did their utmost to restore the poor men who had been thrown upon
their care.  Two of them, however, died from having drunk a large
quantity of salt water, and others remained seriously ill for several

The excitement of going off on the raft having subsided, the French
lieutenant again sunk into his former moody state.  At length the
Frenchmen appeared to have recovered, but they did not seem inclined to
associate with the English, nor with Jacques nor Pierre, who continued
to perform their former duties.  Captain Rymer and Captain Williams
agreed that it would be necessary to put a guard over their provisions
and stores, lest the Frenchmen should take it into their heads to help
themselves without leave.  It was explained to them that they must be
content with a very moderate amount of food, and a still smaller
quantity of water, unless a supply of the latter could be found.  They
seemingly acquiesced in the wisdom of this, but from the looks they
exchanged with each other, it was but too probable that they would be
tempted to break through the regulations which had been formed on the

With regard to food, they might obtain sufficient to support life both
from the shell-fish on the shore, and from any fish they might catch,
while the trees promised to afford them a supply of cocoanuts.  But
water was what they most required; without that it would be impossible
to support existence.  As long, however, as they were supplied with
food, the Frenchmen did not show any inclination to search for it for
themselves.  Pierre was sent to tell them that lines would be provided
for them, if they would try to catch some fish, and again the captain
set out to make a fresh search for water.

As soon as the Frenchmen had recovered, they showed a very different
disposition to what they had previously exhibited.  They then received
the food given to them by the English with apparent gratitude.  Now,
however, when it was sent to them they seized it rudely, and grumbled
because the supply was not larger.  Captain Rymer endeavoured to explain
to the French lieutenant that the arrangements made were for the good of
all.  He, however, either had no authority over his countrymen or
pretended to have none.  Still, as he associated himself with them, it
was evident that he intended to side with them whatever they might do.
This state of things gave considerable anxiety to the English officers.
It was arranged that a strict guard should be kept over the provisions
and water, and that no one should be allowed to take anything from the

Pierre continued, as before, to attend on the English, though he
occasionally paid a visit to the French, who were encamped at some
little distance, and out of sight of the rest of the party.  On being
questioned, he said that the French claimed the stores as their own,
because they had captured the vessel from which they were taken, and
that they were very angry at the idea of the English appropriating them.
It was agreed, however, that unless they were preserved as before, the
French sailors would probably consume the whole in a very short time,
and all the party would be left in a state of starvation.  Still, as the
French had hitherto shown no disposition to annoy the English, the
passengers continued to stroll about the shore of the island without any
apprehension, as they had been accustomed to do.  Harry and David
frequently escorted Mary in these expeditions.  They always returned
with a basket-full of shell-fish of various sorts.  The boys also fitted
some fishing lines, and after a little practice they succeeded in
catching a great many fish.  Some of them were very beautiful; but when
they showed them to Jacques, he told them that they were not fit to be
eaten.  Others, however, were excellent, and they had thus no
apprehension with regard to not having provisions for their support,
even though they might remain on the island for many months.  The great
anxiety was with regard to water.

One day Mary and her young companions had gone along the shore for a
considerable distance, when they reached a point of rock upon which they
believed that they should be able to catch a number of fish.  Mary did
not take the same interest in the sport that they did, but preferred
wandering along the beach and picking up the beautiful shells, and
several curious creatures that had been cast on shore.  Harry and David
soon began to catch a number of fish, and were completely absorbed in
their sport.  Mary said that she would go along the beach some little
distance, and then return to them.  They saw her walking along, now
stooping down to pick up a shell, now continuing her course close to the
water, when a rock hid her from view.  Just at that moment the fish
began to bite faster and faster, and as they hauled them up in their
eagerness they forgot to look out for their companion.  Suddenly Harry
exclaimed, "What can have become of Mary?  She is a long time away."

They both shouted her name, but there was no answer.  Gathering up their
lines and their fish they leaped off the rock, and ran along the beach
in the direction she had gone.  They did not, however, see her, and
became greatly alarmed.  In vain they shouted her name.

"She certainly could not have turned back and gone the other way," said
Philip; "besides, see, here are the marks of her feet on the sand; she
must have gone on further than she intended."  They traced her by the
marks of her feet in the sand for a considerable distance, when she
appeared to have turned inland, away from the beach.  "Surely here are
the marks of other feet," said David; "if there were any savages on the
island, I should be afraid she had been carried off by them."

They now pursued in the direction of the marks of the feet, though
Mary's were no longer to be traced.  The ground in the centre of the
island being hard, they here lost all traces.  They looked round in
every direction.  No persons were to be seen.  They continued running
eagerly forward, shouting again and again Mary's name, when they found
themselves in front of the French camp.  The French jeered at them as
they passed, and as they were unable to speak French, they could not
enquire if any of the people had seen Mary.  Not knowing what else to
do, they hurried back to their own friends with the bad news.  Captain
Rymer at first would scarcely credit the account they gave him.  He
however, with the two boys and Captain Williams, immediately set out to
search the neighbourhood of the spot where Mary had disappeared.  It was
evident to them that she had not been carried away from the island; they
therefore came to the conclusion that the Frenchmen had made her a
prisoner, in the hopes that they might thus compel the English to agree
to any terms they might propose.

Captain Rymer therefore determined to go to the French with Pierre as
interpreter, and to ascertain what terms the French had to propose.  At
first they denied that she was with them, but said that they were
determined to have one half of the provisions and water as their proper
share.  Captain Rymer replied that they were determined for the good of
all those on the island not to give up the provisions, and again
enquired whether they had seen his young daughter, but could get no
answer in return; and doubting whether the French really knew anything
about Mary, he returned to consult further with Captain Williams.  It
was agreed that, should they yield to the demands of the Frenchmen, as
soon as the first half of the provisions were consumed they would demand
the remainder, and that, therefore, it would be wiser at once to refuse
their demands.

The day was drawing on, but still there were no signs of Mary.  They
arranged that Jacques should carry their food as usual to the French,
and endeavour to obtain all the information that he could.  Harry and
David offered to go and watch in the neighbourhood of the camp, so that
if she really was there, and could make her escape, they might be ready
to assist her.  While they remained concealed, Pierre went on into the
camp.  He brought a larger supply of food than usual to each man, and
talked to one and then to the other, often in no complimentary terms of
the English.

"And why do you remain with them?" was the question put to him.

"Because I am well fed; and until you came I had none else to associate
with except Jacques, and I cannot make out whether he likes the English
or our own countrymen the best."

"Then do you intend to remain with us now?" was the question put to

"O yes!  I have had enough of the English, and wish to throw in my
fortunes with my own countrymen."

The Frenchmen seemed to think that Pierre was in earnest, as he showed
no inclination to leave them.  He was, however, very busy in going about
among the huts, whilst he put several questions to his countrymen, as to
whether they could guess anything about the little girl who had been
carried off.  "Our lieutenant knows something about that, and as he does
not want to fight with the English, hopes to gain his object by

This convinced Pierre that Mary was in the camp, and he determined to
set her free if he could.  There was a hut in a grove close to the camp,
into which he had hitherto not looked, and he thought it very likely
that Mary had been shut up there.  He knew, however, that he should be
watched, especially by the lieutenant, who was walking up and down on
the beach, in his usual moody manner.  Nothing could be done, at all
events, until it was dark; and he therefore continued laughing and
talking with his countrymen, so as if possible to throw them off their
guard.  He observed the lieutenant once visit the hut with a tin of
food, and, on leaving it, he placed a log of wood across the door.  This
convinced him more even than before that Mary was shut up there.

Night came on at last.  By the conversation of the Frenchmen, he feared
that they had determined to have possession of the provisions by force,
if they could not gain them in any other way.  The Frenchmen amused
themselves as their countrymen, even under the most adverse
circumstances, are accustomed to do, by singing, telling stories, and
occasionally getting up and dancing.  At last, tired with their
exertions, they laid themselves down in their huts.  Pierre waited until
they all seemed asleep.  He most dreaded being detected by the
lieutenant.  He crept cautiously near the hut in which he was lying
down, and, greatly to his satisfaction, found that he also was asleep.
He instantly stole off to the hut in which he believed Mary was
confined.  The log at the entrance was somewhat heavy, and he had no
little difficulty in removing it without making a noise.  He pushed back
the rough planks that formed the door, and there, to his infinite
satisfaction, he saw Mary.  She was seated on a heap of boughs in a
corner of the hut, with her hands tied together, and her feet secured to
a log.  She uttered an exclamation of surprise on hearing Pierre

"Hush!" he said, "make no noise, I have come to release you."

He fortunately had the knife in his pocket that David had given him, and
with this he quickly cut the ropes with which the little girl was bound.

"Now," he said, "take my hand, and I will lead you to those with whom
you will soon find your way back to your friends."

Saying this, he took her hand and led her through the grove, the French
camp soon being lost sight of.  They quickly found the spot where Harry
and David were waiting.  The boys were delighted at finding their young
companion, and hurried off, supporting her between them, to their
friends, while Pierre returned to the French.  Captain Rymer was
overjoyed at seeing his daughter, as will be supposed.  The English did
not rest much that night, not knowing what the French would next do.  It
was nearly morning when a footstep was heard approaching the camp, and
Pierre came running up.  "My countrymen have determined to attack you,
and take the provisions by force," he said; "I had just time to escape,
for they already suspected me of assisting Miss Rymer to escape."

Jacques, who had remained with the English, was very sorry to hear what
the French proposed doing; he promised, however, to fight on the side of
his friends.  Ten muskets, and a small supply of powder and ball, had
been brought from the wreck.  Of these the Frenchman were not aware, but
as there was very little ammunition, it would soon be exhausted, and
then numbers would prevail.



Captain Rymer had taken the precaution of throwing up a breastwork round
the camp, which might assist him in repelling any attack of the
Frenchmen.  "Though my countrymen will kill me if they discover I have
warned you, I would rather die than that you should be taken by
surprise," exclaimed Pierre, as he was helped over the parapet.

"We hope that we shall be able to protect you," said Harry, who with
David had been on guard some time.

"Never fear; we have firearms, and your countrymen are without them.  If
they come, they will receive a warmer reception than they expect."

A few minutes afterwards a number of persons were seen stealing towards
the camp, and evidently hoping to take the company by surprise.
"Silence!" said Captain Rymer to his companions, "we will let them
suppose that we are asleep, and then, if we suddenly start up and fire a
musket or two over their heads they will become so alarmed that they
will perhaps desist from the attack."  This plan was followed out.  The
Frenchmen were evidently somewhat startled at finding that those they
had come to attack were better armed than themselves.

"Now, Pierre, tell them that if they come on many of them will be
killed," said Captain Rymer; "we don't wish to injure them, but we are
resolved not to yield to their demand."

The Frenchmen hearing this at first seemed to hesitate, but shouting to
each other they again advanced towards the embankment.  "You will take
the consequences of your folly," said Captain Rymer, and Pierre
interpreted what he said.  Several shots were fired, and two or three of
the Frenchmen were apparently hit.  The discharge had the effect of
making them retreat.  It was evident, however, that from the few muskets
that had gone off that the powder was far from good, and that little
dependence could therefore be placed on their firearms.  Still it
appeared that the French had had enough for the moment, as having failed
in their expected surprise of the English they retreated once more to
their own camp.  But the state of affairs was very serious, as it could
not be supposed that they would not again attempt to attack the camp.

"One thing must be done," observed Captain Rymer; "as soon as the sun
comes out we must dry our powder, that it may prove of more use than it
did just now."  In a short time daylight broke, and the sun, rising out
of the ocean, shed a bright light over the scene.  As he rose, his rays
fell on the white sails of a ship, not two miles from the island.
Captain Rymer's telescope was immediately turned towards her.  "She's an
English frigate," he exclaimed.

"Let me look, sir! let me look!" cried Harry, eagerly.

"That she is, indeed, and my own ship, the _Arethusa_, I am sure she is,
I should know her among fifty other frigates.  We expected that she
would be sent out to the West Indies."

The great point was now to draw the attention of those on board the
frigate to the island.  A flagstaff was quickly erected at a point clear
of the trees, and as the flag was run up, several muskets were fired at
the same time.  They waited anxiously to see the effect.  In another
minute an answering gun was fired from the frigate, and almost at the
same moment a couple of boats were seen approaching the shore.  Harry's
delight was very great when he recognised several of his shipmates in
the boats.  The second lieutenant of the frigate, who came in command,
was the first person to step on shore.  Harry, forgetting his own
appearance, instantly ran up to him, and was somewhat mortified at the
look of astonishment with which the lieutenant regarded him.

"What, don't you know me, sir?" exclaimed Harry.

"I begin to have an idea," said the lieutenant, putting out his hand,
"though there are one or two reasons why I should not know you.  The
first is, that we thought you had lost the number of your mess; and,
excuse me, you certainly do not look like an English midshipman."

"No, sir, I don't think I do," said Harry, laughing.  "Now let me
introduce my friends to you.  Here is Mr David Morton, and Captain
Rymer and Miss Rymer, and all these ladies and gentlemen.  And it will
take some time to tell you all about ourselves."

Harry, in his joy, let his tongue run on, scarcely knowing what he was
saying.  Captain Rymer now stepped forward and explained the state of
affairs.  This required some little time to do.

"I am sure the captain will be very glad to receive the master, crew,
and all the passengers of the _Cerberus_ on board the frigate," replied
the lieutenant; "but I don't know how he will be inclined to treat the
Frenchmen, who have behaved as you have described.  If they are left on
the island they will probably perish of thirst.  But, in the meantime,
should any English vessel come here, they might take the crew prisoners,
and make off in her."

It was agreed, therefore, that the best way would be to carry them off
as prisoners to Jamaica.  The Frenchmen were very indignant at hearing
the arrangements that had been made, but when they saw that the boat's
crew were armed they had the sense to know that resistance was useless.
Harry and David entreated that Pierre and Jacques might not be made
prisoners, and of course their request was granted.  Both Jacques and
Pierre begged that they might enter on board the frigate.  In a short
time nearly all those who had lately been living on the island were
carried on board the frigate.  The Frenchmen were placed in the prison
forward.  There was one exception, however, the French lieutenant was
nowhere to be found.  While the rest of his countrymen were embarking he
had disappeared.  A boat's crew was sent on shore to search for him.
The only trace that could be discovered of him was his hat at the end of
a ledge of rocks, off which it was supposed he had thrown himself, and
been drowned.  Poor man! he had given up all hopes of happiness in this
life, and had refused to believe in a life to come.

In those days it was not so difficult to enter the navy as at the
present time.  Notwithstanding all the hardships David had gone through
he was as anxious as ever to become a midshipman.  The captain promised
to place him on the quarter-deck, if he preferred remaining out in the
West Indies instead of going home.  David was naturally very anxious to
see his friends; but at the same time his darling desire to enter the
navy could now be realised.  If he went home he would be separated from
Harry, whom he now looked upon more than ever as a brother.

"At all events, I will remain out," said David, "till I can hear from
home, and then, should my father and mother desire me to return, I must
obey them."

The frigate conveyed Captain Rymer to his government, in the island of,
and as she was constantly cruising about in that neighbourhood Harry and
David had frequent opportunities of seeing Mary.  Those were stirring
days, and midshipmen met with various adventures.  David at length
anxiously broke open a letter which reached him from home.  His father
and mother expressed their gratitude to Heaven that he had escaped so
many dangers, and told him that, as his heart was set on becoming a
midshipman, they would no longer oppose his wishes.

Several years passed by; the frigate was at one time cruising amongst
the West Indian Islands, and at another time she was sent to Halifax,
then the chief station of the American squadron.  Fully four years
passed away before she was ordered home.  The command held by Captain
Rymer at the same time came to an end, and he and Mary prepared to
return to England.  The _Arethusa_ sailed some little time after them.
Her crew, as was too often the case, was diminished by yellow fever; but
the survivors thought only of once more reaching their native land, and
looked forward with joy at the prospect of again seeing the white cliffs
of old England.  Already the frigate was more than half-way across the
Atlantic, when one morning a sail was espied on the weather-bow; the
sails were trimmed and the frigate gave chase.  The stranger took her
for an enemy, and did everything to escape, and not without good hopes
of success, for she was evidently a fast craft.

The _Arethusa_ was, however, one of the fastest frigates in the navy,
and it was not likely that the chase would succeed, unless, favoured by
the darkness, she might alter her course during the night.  A sharp
look-out was kept.  Twice the look-out man exclaimed that she was
nowhere to be seen, but again she was caught sight of.  When morning
dawned it was calculated that the frigate had gained considerably upon
her.  The chase continued for the best part of the day.  At last the
frigate got her within length of her bow-chasers.  Several shots were
fired without inducing her to haul down her colours, which were French.
She was a large schooner, a powerful vessel, with heavy masts and sails.
At length a shot carried away her main-topmast, and now, finding that
any further attempt at escaping was useless, the colours were hauled
down.  She proved to be a French privateer returning home after a
successful cruise.  The rage of the Frenchmen was very great at finding
themselves captured, when they so soon expected to be in _La Belle
France_ to enjoy the booty they had obtained.  In a short time, however,
after the greater number had been transferred to the deck of the
frigate, they were dancing and singing, apparently forgetful of their
misfortune.  As no lieutenant from the frigate could be spared to take
charge of the prize, Harry, who had now become an experienced officer,
was sent on board in command, and David went as his lieutenant.  Pierre
begged that he might accompany them.  For two or three days they kept in
sight of the frigate, but a gale coming on, with thick weather, when
morning broke the _Arethusa_ was nowhere to be seen.

"We must find our way up Channel as best we can," said Harry.  "I think
you and I can manage a correct day's work, though we have not had as
much experience in navigation as would be desirable."

The weather continued bad for several days, during which the schooner
was hove-to.  Once more the sky cleared; the wind moderated, and a
coarse was steered up Channel.

"I can scarcely fancy that more than four years have passed away since
you and I drifted out here in a boat with poor old Jefferies.  We return
in a very different style, don't we?" remarked Harry to his companion.

They had reached, they calculated, the chops of the Channel, when a
large merchant ship was seen ahead.

"Should she prove to be an enemy's craft she will make a rich prize,"
said David.

"I rather think she is English," said Harry; "but see, there is another
vessel, a large lugger I make her out to be, bearing down upon her.  The
lugger is French, there is no doubt about that.  I should not be
surprised if she is a privateer, about to pounce down upon the merchant
vessel.  If the Frenchmen have seen us, they take us to be French also,
and are anxious to secure the prize before we come up," observed Harry.
"I am not, however, certain that she will do that; see, there is a
strong breeze from the westward coming up, and the sails of the two
vessels are already becalmed."

Harry was right; the schooner carried up the breeze, and stood in
between the two vessels before the lugger had time to fire a shot.
Instantly hoisting English colours, Harry boldly stood towards the
lugger, followed by the merchant ship.  He at once opened fire on the
lugger, who made all sail to escape.  This was what Harry had determined
she should not do.  The schooner carried two long guns in her bows.
These were so well worked that after a few shots the lugger's mizen-mast
was knocked away.  The main-mast followed, and the lugger, being now
reduced to an almost helpless condition, hauled down her colours.  As
may be supposed, Harry and David's delight was very great, at not only
having made so valuable a prize, but saving a valuable merchant vessel
from capture.  Still greater was their satisfaction when going on board
the merchant vessel, they found that Captain Rymer and Mary were amongst
the passengers.

The merchantman was bound for Falmouth, and to that port Harry also
resolved to steer with the prize, as she was not in a condition to be
taken up Channel.  The next morning the three vessels anchored in
Falmouth Harbour.  As neither Harry nor David could leave their vessels,
a messenger was despatched to their homes, and in a short time Mr and
Mrs Morton, Mrs Merryweather, and a considerable number of friends who
formed the picnic party on that memorable day when Harry and David went
adrift in a boat, were collected at the Green Bank Hotel.  If Harry had
been looked upon as a hero on the distant day of which we speak, much
more so was he now.

Both Harry and David rose to rank and honour in the noble profession
they had selected, and as soon as the former obtained his rank as
post-captain, Mary Rymer became his wife; and among the adventures he
loved to describe to his young descendants, was that of how he and his
friend Admiral Morton, in their younger days, went "Adrift in a Boat."


*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Adrift in a Boat" ***

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