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´╗┐Title: My First Voyage to Southern Seas
Author: Kingston, William Henry Giles, 1814-1880
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "My First Voyage to Southern Seas" ***

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My First Voyage to Southern Seas, by W.H.G. Kingston.

________________________________________________________________________

This is one of Kingston's earlier books, but is very much in the style
for which he became famous.  The theme is that the father of a family, a
well-to-do merchant in London, dies suddenly.  His eldest son had gone
off to sea, but had not been heard of for some time, and by some was
presumed dead.  The second son is our young hero, who goes to sea as a
midshipman.  The book is thereafter filled with his adventures as he
finds his way through rumour and chance to rescue his brother from where
he is in captivity.

It's quite a long book, but the action never drags, and there are some
interesting descriptions of the places visited, specially Ceylon.

As always with Kingston the seamanship is excellent.  The action takes
place in the 1850s, and we are in the age of sail.  There are pirates,
drunken captains, shipwrecks, strange coincidences, indeed all the usual
components of a good Kingston novel.

________________________________________________________________________

MY FIRST VOYAGE TO SOUTHERN SEAS, BY W.H.G. KINGSTON.



CHAPTER ONE.

MY ENGLISH HOME AND FAMILY--MY BROTHER GOES TO SEA--HEAR OF THE LOSS OF
HIS SHIP--MY FATHER'S DEATH--WE ARE REDUCED TO POVERTY--RESOLVE TO VISIT
MY GRANDFATHER, AND TO SEARCH FOR ALFRED--KINDNESS OF MY SCHOOLMASTER
AND COMPANIONS--MY DOG SOLON.

Ours was a very united and a very happy family.  We lived in the
neighbourhood of London, near Blackheath, in Kent, on the elevated
ground which overlooks Greenwich, its noble hospital, and the river
Thames.  Our father was a merchant, a thoroughly upright, industrious
man, an honour to the profession to which he belonged.  No man could be
more attentive to business than he was, and yet no one enjoyed the
country and the pursuits of the country more than he did.  With what
pleasure did we look forward, when we were children, to his return in
the afternoon and even now I think I hear his cheerful laugh, and see
his bland smile, as he took us up one by one in his arms and kissed us,
and then often, though he must frequently have been tired and harassed,
had a game of boisterous romps with us, seeming entirely to have
forgotten all his cares and troubles.  It was considered the privilege
of little Kate, or one of the other young ones, to look slily into his
pockets when, by a well-known significant gesture, he let us understand
that they were not altogether empty.  He had a little hand hamper or
basket, such as many another paterfamilias possesses, which travelled
with great regularity up and down nearly every day, and out of which all
sorts of wonderful articles used to appear; and if a friend accompanied
him unexpectedly down to dinner, our mother never had to complain that
she was taken unawares and had nothing fit to offer him.  The hamper,
however, did not always contain eatables.  Often our mother, or one of
us, had been wishing very much for something which could not possibly
have got into his pockets, and before many days were over, it was very
nearly certain to make its appearance, when the top of the hamper was
thrown back, imbedded in straw or paper.  That dear old hamper always
put us in mind of some magic chest in a fairy tale, only I doubt if any
magic chest ever afforded so much pleasure, or produced so great a
variety of articles as it did.  I do not know if our kind father ever
was out of humour; if he was, he left the appearance of it behind him in
the city.  Out of spirits he seldom or never was in my childhood's days.

The time was coming when a sad change was to occur.  I mention these
traits, trivial though they may seem, because I think that they speak
well of my father's character.  At the same time that he was a most
affectionate father, he never forgot the necessity of correcting us for
our faults; while he was deeply sensible of the importance of fitting us
for the stations in life we might be destined to occupy, and of placing
clearly before us the object of our existence on earth, and our duty to
God and to our fellow-men.  He watched over us with the most anxious
solicitude during every moment he could spare; he took us out to walk
with him, and had us constantly in his room, never wearying, apparently,
of our society.  This he did, I have no doubt, not only because he loved
us, but that he might ascertain our different characters and
dispositions, and at once eradicate, as far as he was able, each budding
tendency to evil as it appeared.

Such was my father, a fine, intelligent, gentlemanly, handsome man; and
though his hair was perfectly grey, his complexion was yet clear, nor
had his eye lost the animation of youth.  It is with great satisfaction
that I can look back and picture him as I have now faithfully drawn his
portrait.

Our dear mother, too, she was worthy to be his wife,--so amiable, and
loving, and sensible, a pious Christian and a perfect gentlewoman,
thoroughly educated, and capable of bringing up her daughters to fill
the same station in life she occupied, which was all she desired for
them.  Indeed, we boys also received much of our early instruction from
her, and I feel very certain that we retained far more of what she
taught us than we acquired from any other source.  To her we owed,
especially, lessons of piety and instruction in the Holy Scriptures,
never, I trust, to be forgotten, as well as much elementary secular
knowledge, which probably we should otherwise have been very long in
picking up.  My mother had no relations of whom we, at all events, knew
anything in England.  She was the daughter of an Englishman, however,
who had, when the Mauritius first came under the dominion of Great
Britain, gone out there as a settler and planter, leaving her, his only
child, to be educated in England.

Mr Coventry, my grandfather, was, we understood, of a somewhat
eccentric disposition, and had for some years wandered about in the
Eastern seas and among the islands of the Pacific, although he had
ultimately returned again to his estate.  He had transmitted home ample
funds for his daughter's education, but he kept up very little
communication with her, and had never even expressed any intention of
sending for her to join him.  The lady under whose charge she had been
left was a very excellent person, and had thoroughly done her duty by
her in cultivating to the utmost all the good qualities and talents she
possessed.  That lady was a friend of my father's family, and thus my
father became acquainted with her pupil, to whom he was before long
married.

It was necessary for me to give this brief account of my family history,
to explain the causes which produced some of my subsequent adventures.

We were a large family.  I had several brothers and sisters.  I was the
third son, and I had two elder sisters.  Alfred, my eldest brother, was
a fine joyous-spirited fellow.  Some said he was too spirited, and
unwilling to submit to discipline.  He was just cut out for a sailor,--
so everybody said, and so he thought himself, and to sea he had resolved
to go.  Our father exerted all the interest he possessed to get him into
the navy, and succeeded.  We thought it a very fine thing for him when
we heard that he really and truly was going to be a midshipman.  It
appeared to us as if there was but one step between that and being an
admiral, or, at all events, a post-captain in command of a fine
line-of-battle ship.  Neither our mother nor sisters had at first at all
wished that Alfred should go to sea; indeed, our father would, I
believe, have much rather seen him enter into the business of a
merchant; but as soon as the matter was settled, they all set to work
with the utmost zeal and energy to get his kit ready for sea.  Many a
sigh I heard, and many a tear I saw dropped over the shirts, and
stockings, and pocket-handkerchiefs, as they were being marked, when he
was not near.  Too often had they read of dreadful shipwrecks, of
pestiferous climates, of malignant fevers carrying off the young as well
as the old, the strong as well as the weak, not to feel anxious about
Alfred, and to dread that he might be among those gallant spirits who go
away out-flowing with health, and hope, and confidence, and yet are
destined never again to visit their native land, or to see the faces of
those who love them so much.  Alfred was full of life and animation, and
very active in assisting in the preparations making for his departure.
Well do I remember the evening when his uniform came down.  With what
hurried fingers we undid the parcel, and how eagerly I rushed up-stairs
with him to help him to put it on!  What a fine fellow I thought he
looked; how proud I felt of him, as I walked round and round him,
admiring the gold lace and the white patches worn by midshipmen in those
days, and the dirk by his side, and the glossy belt, and the crown and
anchor on his buttons and in his cap, and more than all, when I felt
that he was really and truly an officer in the navy!  Still more
delighted was I when I accompanied him down-stairs, and heard the
commendations of all the family on his appearance.  Our father, with a
hand on his shoulder, could not help exclaiming, "Well, Alfred, you are
a jolly midshipman, my boy."  And then all the servants had collected in
the hall to have a look at him, and they were none of them chary of
their expressions of admiration.

It was some days after this before all the multifarious contents of the
chest were ready, and then came the parting day.  That was a very sad
one to our mother and elder sisters.  I did not fully realise the fact
that we were to be parted till he had actually gone, so my sorrow did
not begin till I found his place empty, and had to go about by myself
without his genial companionship.  Our father took him down to
Portsmouth, where he was to join his ship, the _Aurora_ frigate,
destined for the East India station, and our second brother Herbert
accompanied him.  Herbert was delicate, and required a change of scene
and air.  I longed to have gone too, but our father could not take both
of us.  My great desire was to see a large ship, a real man-of-war.  I
knew very well what a vessel was like, for I had seen numbers in the
Thames, and one of Alfred's great pleasures was to take me with him to
Greenwich Hospital, and to sit down on the benches and to watch the
vessels sailing up and down the river, while we talked with the old
pensioners, who were always ready to spin some of their longest yarns
for our edification, though older people who went down there for the
purpose found no little difficulty in getting anything out of them.
This was not surprising.  The old sailors found in us attentive and
undoubting listeners.  We never thought of even questioning them to let
them suspect that we had not the most perfect reliance on what they
said, which older people were apt to do, I observed, for the purpose of
gaining more information from them.  The old tars were either offended,
from suspecting that their words were doubted, or fancied that their
interrogators had some sinister motives in putting such questions, and,
from an early habit of suspicion in all such instances, would shut up
their mouths, and seem to have forgotten all about their early lives.

In the way I have mentioned, both Alfred and I gained a great deal of
information about the sea and life in the navy, so that when he went
afloat he was not nearly as ignorant as are many youngsters.  In one
respect, however, he had gained, unfortunately, no good from his
intercourse with the old sailors.  He had deeply imbibed many of the
worst prejudices about the navy which even some old men-of-war's men
retain to the present day, and he was taught to look upon all superior
officers in the service as cruel and unjust tyrants, whom it was
spirited to disobey when practicable, and ingenious to circumvent in
every possible way.  His feeling, in short, was very much that which
schoolboys have for the ordinary run of masters whom they do not exactly
detest for any unusual severity, but for whom they certainly do not
entertain any undue affection.  When he first received his appointment,
he had forgotten all about this feeling; indeed, he had never expressed
himself strongly on the matter; only I know that it existed.  I mention
it now as it accounted to me in some degree for his subsequent conduct.

When our father came back he gave a vivid description of the smart
frigate in which dear Alfred was to sail, of the gentlemanly, pleasant
captain, and of the nice lads in the midshipmen's berth who were to be
his companions.  The first lieutenant, he remarked, was a stern-looking,
weather-beaten sailor of the old school, but he had the repute of being
a first-rate officer, and the captain had told him that he was very glad
to get him, as he was sure to make all the youngsters learn and do their
duty, and to turn them into good seamen.  Altogether, he was perfectly
satisfied with all he had seen, and with Alfred's prospects.

Herbert's description of the midshipmen's berth made me regret more and
more that I had not been allowed to accompany him, and I began to wish
that I too might be able to go to sea.  I did not talk about it; indeed,
I tried to repress the feeling, because I knew that my father wished me
to be brought up to his business.  Herbert, it was seen, was not at all
likely ever to become fitted for it.  His health was delicate, and he
was of a contemplative studious disposition, and of a simple trusting
mind, which had a tendency to shut out from itself all thoughts or
knowledge of the evil which exists in the world.  This is, I believe, a
very blessed and happy disposition, if rightly directed and educated,
but, at the same time, those who possess it are not fitted for those
pursuits in life which bring them into contact and competition with all
classes and orders of men.  They should not be thrown among the crowd
struggling on to gain wealth, or name, or station, or they most
assuredly will be trampled under foot.  So our father said, and I think
he judged rightly, when he advised Herbert to fix his thoughts on
becoming a minister of the gospel.  "If I am considered worthy, there is
no vocation I would so gladly follow," was dear Herbert's answer.  Those
who knew him best would most assuredly have said that he was worthy,
compared to the usual standard of frail human nature.

The time to which I have now been alluding was during our summer
holidays.  We all three went to a first-rate school near Blackheath,
where I believe we were general favourites.  I know that Alfred and
Herbert were, and I had many friends among the boys, while the masters
always expressed themselves kindly towards me.  If not exactly what is
called studiously disposed, I was, at all events, fond of learning and
reading, and gaining information in every variety of way, and the
commendations I received from my masters encouraged me to be diligent
and attentive.  My father also was pleased with my progress; and as I
delighted in giving him pleasure, I had another strong motive to study
hard, not only what I especially liked--for there is very little virtue
in that--but what I was told would ultimately prove a benefit to me.  I
was especially fond of reading about foreign countries, and I thought to
myself, if I am not allowed to enter the navy, I will, at all events,
become a great traveller, and, perhaps, as a merchant, be able to visit
all those wonderful lands, with the accounts of which I am now so much
interested.  I will not dwell upon my school life.  It was a very happy
one.  We were boarders, but we came home frequently, and we did not
thereby lose the love of home; for my part, I think we loved it the more
for frequently going to it.  We kept up our home interests, had our home
amusements, and our home pets.  Our more particular friends among our
school-fellows frequently came home with us, especially to spend their
Easter and Michaelmas holidays, when they would otherwise have had to
remain at school.  We had also generally a good supply of eatables, and
for these and the reasons of which I have before spoken, we were
probably altogether the most popular boys at school.  Alfred had been
so, and so was Herbert, and I in time came in for my share of
popularity, and, as I found, for what is far more valuable, of sincere,
true friendship.  We all at that time undoubtedly enjoyed the sunshine
of prosperity.

We heard occasionally from Alfred; but he was not an apt penman, and did
not prove himself so good a correspondent as we had hoped.  We had a
letter from him written at Rio de Janeiro, and a short one from the Cape
of Good Hope.  Then the ship went to India, and was there a couple of
years, during which time he wrote occasionally.  At last he sent us a
few hurried lines from the Mauritius, saying that he was well, but that
the frigate was about to return to India, and on her way to visit
several interesting places.

Waiting for some time after the receipt of that letter, we began to be
anxious about receiving another, but none came.  Day after day, week
after week, and month after month passed by, and we heard nothing.  Our
disappointment was great, but our anxiety did not increase in the same
proportion, as we had no doubt that his letters had by some means
miscarried.  We never allowed ourselves to suppose for a moment that the
ship had been lost, or that any other misfortune had occurred, still
less that Alfred himself was ill or had died.  None of us, it seemed,
could have borne that thought.  At last my father became really anxious
and wrote to the captain.  He waited for a long time for a reply, and at
last he got one, not from the former captain, who had died from fever,
but from the officer who had been first lieutenant when my brother
sailed, saying that Mr Marsden had thought fit to quit his ship without
leave; he could not be considered as belonging to the navy, and that,
therefore, he had no further charge over him.  He did not say where
Alfred had left the ship, or when, or why, allowing us to remain most
cruelly in a dreadful state of suspense.  My father instantly wrote
again to make further inquiries, but during the time we were waiting for
the reply to the second letter, we saw it stated in the papers that the
gallant frigate had been lost, and that all hands on board had perished.
We grieved much at the idea that Alfred should have left his ship and
brought disgrace upon himself by becoming a deserter.  At the same time,
we could not but with gratitude rejoice that he had escaped the dreadful
fate which had overtaken his companions.  This circumstance was one of
the first griefs which had befallen our family.  My father was much
troubled by it.  He wrote again and again to various correspondents in
that part of the world, but received no satisfactory replies; none of
them had heard of Alfred.  The surprising thing was that he did not
write himself.  His silence was most unaccountable and painful.  We
could not believe that he was lost to us for ever, nor could we suppose
for a moment that he whose memory was so fondly cherished, and who had
loved us all so much, had so completely changed as not to think it worth
while even to communicate with us, and to let us know that he was alive.

"Oh no, no! that is impossible," exclaimed our mother, with tears in her
eyes, when one day our father remarked that lads scarcely were aware how
quickly time flew by, and that they often put off writing home from day
to day till they forgot all about the matter.  "I am sure our dear
Alfred would have written if he could.  Perhaps he has written, and his
letters have been lost.  This is by far the most likely thing to have
occurred.  So affectionate, kind, and dutiful as he always was, he
certainly has not forgotten us."

Mary, and Charlotte, and Herbert, all thought the same.  So did I.  I
felt sure that he had not forgotten us, and that, had he possessed the
means of writing and of sending us a letter, that he would have done so;
but I could not help fancying that he must have been made prisoner by
some savages, or carried into slavery by some Malays or Malagash or
other eastern people, or perhaps that he had been wrecked on some
desolate island from which he had no means of escaping.  I reasoned
thus: Fond as he was of the sea, after he had left his ship and
virtually quitted the navy, he was not at all likely to live a shore
life.  It was much more probable that he would engage in some trading
voyage or other, and the more romance and adventure it might appear to
offer, the more likely he was to select it; and thus he would have gone
away to the South Seas or to the East Indian Islands, where all the
contingencies I have just spoken of were very likely to occur.  It at
last became a fixed idea in my mind that poor Alfred was groaning
somewhere or other in slavery, but the where was the question to solve.
I told my sister Mary my idea, but she entreated me on no account to
mention it to our mother, or to anybody else, as she was certain that it
would make them still more unhappy about him than they were already.

At length a strong desire grew up in my bosom to set out and try to
discover Alfred.  I had heard my father quote a Portuguese proverb, "He
who does not want sends, he who wants goes."  Now, I certainly wanted
very much indeed to find out where poor Alfred was, and I was ready and
eager to sail the world round to discover him; but I was still very
young, and I knew that there would be a great deal of difficulty in
getting my father to allow me to go, if indeed he would give me
permission at all.  When or how the idea came into my mind I could not
tell.  There it was, however, and once there it was not likely to die
out, but would grow with my growth and strengthen with my strength, till
at length I was able to act upon it.

About this time I observed a great change coming over my father.  He was
kind and affectionate as ever, but his spirits were lower than I had
ever known them; and day after day he came down late from London,
looking weary and fagged.  My mother, too, looked anxious and sad.
Whatever was the cause which affected him, she was fully aware of it.
He had always from the first told her how his affairs were going on, and
he was not the person to conceal any expected misfortune from his
long-trusted wife.

The looked-for blow which was to lay him low, destroy his credit, and
bring him to utter ruin, came even more quickly and suddenly than he had
anticipated.  He had some heavy liabilities, but at considerable loss
had collected the necessary sums, which were placed in the hands of his
bankers to meet them.  The morning of the very day on which the money
was to be paid, his bankers failed, and he was in consequence compelled
to stop payment.  Still, his creditors had so much confidence in him
that they would have enabled him to continue business; but scarcely a
week had passed before he received news that two of his principal
foreign correspondents, with whom he had at the time very large
transactions, had likewise failed.  Thus the remittances he was
expecting from them did not arrive, and he was utterly unable to meet
other and still heavier liabilities which were daily falling due.  He at
once manfully called his creditors together, and explained clearly to
them the state of the case, and handed all his available property over
to them.  He bore up well under the trying situation in which he was
placed; he even, I heard, looked cheerful.  He was doing what he felt to
be his duty.  He trusted still, by industry and energy, to be able to
support his family; but there was something working away at his heart
which those who saw him did not suspect, and of which he himself
possibly was not aware.  He went back to his counting-house after this
last meeting of his creditors.  He wrung the hand of his faithful
head-clerk, Mr Ward, who had himself suffered severely by the failure
of the bank; and then, scarcely venturing to speak, set off to come
home.

That home he never reached alive.  Between the station and his house he
was seen to fall, and being carried into the nearest shop, immediately
breathed his last.  Sad and almost overwhelming was the account which
was brought us.  I will not enter into the particulars, with which my
readers generally cannot be interested.

Deep was our grief at our kind father's loss.  We were left also almost
penniless.  He had insured his life, but by some unaccountable neglect
of his trustees, we could not benefit by the insurance.  Had Alfred been
at home, we should, it appeared, have been placed above want, at all
events.  A considerable sum of money had been left him by his godfather,
the interest of which was to be paid over to our father or mother for
his use from the time he was sixteen.  In case of his death, it was to
go to another godson of the same old gentleman.  Unless, therefore, the
trustees in whose names the capital was invested were assured that he
was alive, they, of course, could not venture to pay our mother the
money.

After our first burst of grief, was over, and we could talk with some
calmness, I told my mother of the idea which had so long occupied my
mind, and besought her to allow me to carry it into execution.  Herbert,
it was very clear, was not so well fitted for the undertaking as I was.
Somebody, I argued, ought to go, and as I had long set my heart on the
work, and thought, or fancied that I had thought, of all the
difficulties I should have to encounter, I was better fitted for it than
anybody else.  I would also visit my grandfather in the Mauritius, and
he certainly would give me important assistance in tracing out my
brother.  Steadily and strenuously I pressed the point, till at length
my mother came entirely into my view of the case, and gave me her full
permission to set off, and to make such arrangements as I thought
necessary.  As soon as she had done this, though her fast falling tears
told me how much the effort cost her, a load appeared to be taken off my
heart.  I felt as if I had at once grown into a man, and was about to
begin the serious business of life.  Scarcely a fortnight had elapsed
after my father's funeral before it was arranged that I was to go.  How
to carry out my purpose was the next consideration.  On one point I was
resolved--not to deprive my mother and sisters of a farthing of the
small sum which could be collected for their support.  I had a fair
stock of clothes, and Herbert insisted on my taking some of his, so that
I was at no expense for my outfit.  The first thing Herbert and I did
was to set off for the London Docks, where I had been several times with
my father, to try and find a ship bound for the Cape of Good Hope or the
Mauritius, at one of which places I proposed commencing my search.  I
was ready to enter on board in any capacity in which I was not called
upon to pay a premium; but as I had never been at sea, and knew nothing
practical about the sea, it may be supposed that, although I had heard
of several ships at the point of sailing to the very places I wished
most to visit, I could not succeed in obtaining a berth on board any of
them.  We walked home again somewhat dispirited with our want of
success; but, nevertheless, I was still as resolved as before to go by
some means or other.

We had arranged the next day to visit our school, that I might take
leave of our excellent master and school-fellows.  I could not bear to
go away without seeing them, though I fancied that I should find it a
painful ceremony, I shall never forget how warmly and kindly I was
greeted by every one; and still more gratified was I when one boy after
another brought me up some present, which he asked me to accept as a
keepsake.  Some were trifles, but everything was of a character likely
to prove useful to me.  One gave me a knife with a hole in the handle,
through which I might pass a lanyard to wear it round my neck; another a
small writing-case; a third, a drawing-case; others, such things as
sketch-hooks, pencils, some useful tools; and one of my greater friends,
who was well off, gave me a first-rate spy-glass; while my kind master
called me into his study, and showed me a serviceable sextant.  "There,
Ralph, I hope that, as you are going to sea, you will endeavour to
acquire all the information in your power respecting nautical matters,
even though you may not ultimately follow a sea life as your profession.
Of course, you will fit yourself to become an officer by the study of
navigation, which, you will find, is a distinct branch of a sailor's
profession from seamanship.  The possession of the sextant you will, I
hope, find a considerable advantage to you, as it will enable you to
gain experience in taking observations of the celestial bodies as you
traverse the ocean.  I offer you this gift on the condition that you
accept another one.  It consists of these two stout volumes of blank
paper, and I shall expect you to do your best to fill them with the
result of the observations you make during your voyages and travels.  I
want you to keep not merely an ordinary sea-log, remember, but a
complete journal, as diffuse as you can.  Never trust to your memory.
Points which at the time you fancy you will never forget are often
completely obliterated in a few months.  I have frequently myself found
this to be the case.  So put down everything worth noting as soon after
it has occurred, or you have seen it, as possible; and especially
understand that no point connected with natural history, or science
generally, is too trivial to be noted.  Great and important truths are
often discovered by what at first might have appeared a collection of
trivialities."

I repeat these remarks of my master's, because I think that they may be
of use to my readers, as I certainly found a very great advantage in
following his advice.  He gave me also a number of pocket-books with
pencils, for producing indelible writing, which I also found very
useful.  Other friends gave me books to form a complete sea-library;
indeed, I strongly suspected, from their character, that my master had
assisted in their selection.  I need not say that I was very grateful
for all these numerous marks of kindness, and it made me very happy and
proud to feel that I was so much esteemed by my companions; at the same
time, I daresay I owed some of the kindness I received to the
commiseration my friends felt for me in consequence of the misfortunes
which had overtaken my family.  Nearly everybody had given me something,
except my friend, Henry Raymond.  I knew that his means were not large;
but still, I felt sure that he would wish to make me some trifling
present or other.  After all my treasures had been collected, I found
him standing by my side.

"Come along, Ralph," he said, with the pleasant smile which constantly
lighted up his countenance; "I want to give you something which you will
like and value."  He was leading me towards the courtyard at the back of
the house.  "I wish that I could go with you myself, that we might take
care of each other; but as I cannot do that, I beg that you will take
Solon with you.  He will fight bravely in your cause, and will, I am
sure, prove watchful and faithful; and it will be a great satisfaction
to me to know that you have got so stout a friend by your side."

There stood Solon with a new chain and collar, with my name engraved on
it.  He was wagging his tail, and looking up with a pleased expression
in our faces, as if he was fully aware of what had been said, and was
perfectly ready to undertake the charge committed to him.  He was an old
friend of mine, and would follow me as readily as he would Henry if I
let him loose, so that he possibly did not consider that he was about to
change masters.  He was a very intelligent and powerful dog, a cross
between a mastiff and a Newfoundland dog.  He was born in the island of
Portland, in Dorsetshire, his immediate ancestors having belonged to
some of the free trading population of that district, and employed in
the not very creditable occupation of carrying casks of spirits and
small bales of silks and laces into the interior, past the revenue
officers stationed there to prevent smuggling.  So sagacious were those
dogs that they knew the appearance of a coastguardsman at a great
distance, and employed every stratagem to avoid him, so that they were
seldom captured or shot.  Dogs trained in the same way are employed by
the contrabandists to carry smuggled goods across the frontiers of both
France and Portugal into Spain, in which country the high duties make
smuggling a profitable business.  We had called Henry's dog Solon, from
the sagacity he displayed in everything in which he was called on to
take a part.

"The very thing, of all others, I am delighted to have," I exclaimed,
wringing Henry's hand.  "I would rather have had you; but next to you, I
think Solon is likely to prove as true a friend as any one I shall meet
with.  Dear old Solon, you will stick by me, I know, and help me to find
out Alfred, won't you?  That I know you will, old fellow."  Solon, as I
spoke to him, wagged his tail and licked my hand, and looked up in my
face, as if he thoroughly understood all I was saying.

Henry Raymond that day accompanied me and Herbert home, to assist, as he
said, in carrying my presents.  My mother was much affected by the
kindness of my school-fellows, and more especially with the liberality
and consideration of our master, when Herbert told her that he was to go
back and attend school regularly as before.

"Your father was very kind, and procured me many pupils," he remarked.
"You need not consider yourself under any special obligation to me, for
I should indeed regret if you had not the opportunity of continuing your
studies at the most important period of your life.  I need scarcely say
that the best way you can repay me is to study hard, and to obtain all
the advantage you can from the instruction I am happily able to afford
you."

The circumstances I have been describing shed a gleam of bright sunshine
over our late sorrowing household, and, as our mother said, she was sure
that the widow and the fatherless who place their trust in God's
protecting care will not be forgotten by him.  The exertions my mother
and sisters were compelled to make to prepare my kit, allayed somewhat
their grief, at the same time that it reminded them of poor Alfred's
departure, and many a tear they dropped on account of both of us.

I had still to hunt about to get a ship, and as I was anxious to lose no
time, I resolved not to relax my search till I had found one.  Of
course, I knew that if I had been able to go to one of the large
shipowners with a premium in my hand, and requested to be taken as an
apprentice, I should have had little difficulty about the matter; but as
I could not do that, I was compelled to try and obtain a berth by some
other means.  One night I scarcely closed my eyes, being employed in
turning over in my mind various plans by which I fancied I might succeed
in my object.  I bethought me at length that I would go to Mr Ward, my
father's old clerk.  He had been very unwell ever since hearing of my
father's death; but I knew his lodgings, and I was sure he would give me
the best advice in his power, though he might not be able to help me in
a more practical way.  This resolution may not appear a very great
result of a sleepless night's cogitations, yet I have found it often to
be the case, that although during the night I have fancied that I have
been thinking all sorts of important things, I have in the morning been
unable to derive from them more than some very simple and insignificant
results.  I advise my readers, if they can help it, never to think at
night.  Let them go to sleep, get up early, and while they are taking a
brisk walk in the bright, fresh air, let them think as much as they
can--their thoughts then will be of ten times more value than all the
produce of a sleepless night.  A successful merchant once told me that
he made a practice of rising with the sun, and walking round and round
his grounds, while he laid plans for the day's work; and thus he got
nearly all his thinking done while enjoying pure air and exercise, and
while in the city had only to perform the less fatiguing duty of an
overseer to watch that his plans were carried out.  The result of my
visit to Mr Ward I will detail in the following chapter.



CHAPTER TWO.

OUR OLD CLERK--I FIND THAT HE HAS A HEART--LOOK OUT FOR A SHIP--THE
ORION--HER OFFICERS AND CREW--LAST DAY AT HOME--PART FROM MR. WARD--THE
PASSENGERS--SAIL DOWN THE THAMES--CHANGE OF CAPTAIN.

Old Mr Ward rose from his chair by the fire when, accompanied by Solon,
I went in; and he made me sit down beside him with a great deal of
courtesy and kindness, while the dog crouched down at my feet.  The old
gentleman sighed very much, and blew his nose, and wiped his eyes, when
I told him of the plan I had resolved to follow.  I ought to have said
that I had not had much communication with him, for he was of a somewhat
eccentric character; and although my father had frequently invited him,
he would never come down and dine with us, as it is the custom of many
head-clerks to do with their principals.

"Ah, Mr Ralph," he said, still sighing, "till our misfortunes came I
always looked forward to your joining us in Crooked Lane when you were
old enough; and now to have you go wandering about the world by
yourself--so young as you are, too--I cannot bear the thoughts of it."

I did my best to persuade him of the importance of my object; and I
argued that my youth was no disadvantage, and that I should enjoy the
sort of life I proposed leading.

"Well, if that is the case, Mr Ralph, I will see what I can do," he
exclaimed, getting up with more activity than I expected, and preparing
to put on his great-coat and hat, though, by-the-by, the day was warm
and genial.

I begged him, however, not to venture out if he was still ill.  He
looked at me almost reproachfully.

"Ah, Mr Ralph, for your honoured father's son it is a slight thing
indeed that I am undertaking to do," he answered.  "We will first go to
Lloyds' and ascertain what vessels are on the berth for those places,
and then I will go to the agents and see if I know any of the owners, or
captains, or other officers of the ships, and endeavour to make some
arrangement with them about you."

Mr Ward, though usually very silent, showed that he was a man of prompt
action, which is much better than being a talker.

"Leave your dog, Mr Ralph, till we come back," he observed as we were
about leaving the room; so patting Solon on the head, and making him lie
down on the rug, I saw that he clearly understood that he was to stay
where he was.

Mr Ward said very little during our walk to the Exchange.  He went up
into Lloyds' room, leaving me waiting on the pavement at the foot of the
stairs.  He was not long absent.

"Come along, Mr Ralph; it is possible we may be successful," was all he
said, as he hurried me off to Billiter Street, and Saint Helen's, and to
one or two other places in the neighbourhood, where some of the large
ship-brokers have their offices.

He made a great variety of inquiries at a considerable number of
offices, where he seemed always to be kindly received; but as he
invariably spoke in a low tone of voice, and was answered in the same, I
did not exactly comprehend the tenor of the information he obtained.  I
only know that he exhibited a great deal of patience and perseverance in
going about from office to office, in waiting till some one was at
leisure to speak to him, and in asking questions.  I made some remark to
that effect.

"Yes, Mr Ralph," he replied.  "We have in the city to exercise patience
as well as perseverance.  We have often to hurry along as fast as our
legs can carry us, for ten minutes, while perhaps we may at the end of
it be kept waiting for an hour before we can speak to the person we have
come to see; but you will understand that if we had not hurried along at
first, we might have had to wait two hours, or have missed the interview
altogether.  Sailors are tried much in the same way, I fancy, as you
will learn when making a voyage.  Sometimes they get a fair breeze, and
run before it for many days; and then they fall into a calm, and have to
float about doing nothing, or they are driven back by contrary winds,
and lose all the ground they have gained.  Such is our voyage through
life, Mr Ralph; and it is better to know beforehand what we are likely
to meet with, and be prepared for it.  That is the reason why I wish to
draw your attention to the subject, my dear young gentleman, and to urge
you to be prepared.  Because the sun shines sometimes, and we have a
fair breeze, we must not suppose that the sun will always be shining, or
that we shall at all times enjoy a favourable wind."

These remarks were made by the kind old man as we sat waiting in one of
the offices to see the principal, to whom he was well known.  One so
often reads in stories of roguish, or hard-hearted, or narrow-minded
head-clerks, that it is pleasant to be able to record from my own
experience an example of a very different character.  I believe that
clerks are often made hard-hearted or selfish, if not rogues, by the
unsympathising or supercilious way in which they are treated by their
employers.  The successful general will always be found to have taken an
interest in the welfare of the humblest private among his troops; and in
the same way I am certain that the successful merchant has always shown
that he can enter into the domestic affairs of his subordinates, and has
treated them with kindness and consideration.  At last Mr Ward was
summoned into the private office of the broker.  When he came out he
took me by the arm.

"Come along, Mr Ralph," he said; "we will look in at my lodgings, and
then hie off to the docks."

He hurried along the streets at a great rate without speaking.  Not that
he was really, I found, in a great hurry, but it was his habit to get
over the ground as fast as possible when he could, so that he might not
be inconvenienced by delays from impediments when they might occur.  A
very nice luncheon was spread out on the table, over which Solon was
keeping a dutiful ward and watch.  This, I knew, could not be according
to the old gentleman's custom; but he had ordered the meal, I suspected,
that I might not have the expense of paying for my own luncheon, and
that he might not run the risk of hurting my feelings by paying for it
himself at a chop-house.

"Perhaps you would like to take your dog with you, Mr Ralph," said the
old man, when the meal was over, looking down kindly on Solon, who
wagged his tail on being thus noticed.  He had come in for his share of
the bones of the mutton-chops we had had for luncheon.

"Yes, indeed, I should, thank you," I answered.  "I never wish to be
parted from Solon.  Do you know, Mr Ward.  I always fancy he knows that
he has especially to look after me, and to keep me out of harm."

Mr Ward smiled.  "He looks very intelligent, and I have no doubt will
do his best for you on all occasions," said he.  "But, my dear young
gentleman, I must not lose the opportunity of urging you ever to look to
One, our great and merciful Maker, for protection and support.  But
then, you cannot look to him for protection unless you show your love to
him by obeying him, and trying to please him in all things.  Do that,
pray to him always, and then boldly and fearlessly go through life.  You
will be equipped with a better tempered armour, a larger shield, a
stronger helmet than any steel-clad knight of old.  Next trust to
yourself, to your own energies, courage, and perseverance.  Don't fancy
that other people are to do things for you.  Others, however good their
intentions, may fail you.  Just be true to yourself, and don't fear.
The lad who is always fancying that his friends are going to do
something for him (as the foolish phrase goes), is very sure to be left
behind in the race.  You will be surprised, I daresay, how a London
counting-house clerk came to get these ideas into his head.  Look--there
are my masters."  He pointed to some shelves well filled with books, not
remarkable for the elegance or uniformity of their binding.  "I have
read every one of these--not once, but over and over again.  When I have
wanted a new friend to dine with me, I have stopped at a book-stall, and
have managed to pick him up at the cost of sixpence or a shilling;
sometimes I have expended several shillings on him, but I have seldom
paid so much for any work as some of the city gentlemen pay for one dish
of fish to feed three or four friends who have given them very little
entertainment in return, whereas my new friend has afforded me interest
for days and weeks afterwards.  But I must not go on babbling in this
way.  Call your good dog.  Come along, Mr Ralph."

Off we set, Solon keeping very close to my heels, as if he were afraid
of losing me in the crowd, and whenever I put down my hand I felt him
licking my fingers to show that he was near me.  Mr Ward was again
taciturn as before.  He felt that, as a city man, he was among people
who knew him, and lest he should be overheard he was habitually silent.
He now appeared to me quite a different person to what I had fancied him
to be.  I had thought him what the world calls a very worthy, faithful,
but rather stupid old man.  I found him to be kind, thoughtful, and
intelligent, and I felt very sure that my dear brother and sisters would
find him the same, and that he would, in some way or other, prove a
valuable friend to them.

The London, as well as the East and West India and several other docks,
are well worthy of a visit.  There are immense warehouses both under and
above ground, those below being called vaults, by-the-by; and there are
broad quays with huge basins, or I might describe them as vast tanks,
which are full of fine ships, each of many hundred tons.  The names of
the ships were painted in large letters on black boards and hung up on
the rigging, so that we had no necessity to make inquiries for the ship
Mr Ward wished to find.

"We had not much to do with vessels," he observed.  "We took freight,
and shipped our cargoes, and received them in return without any
communication with the master or his officers, so that I do not know
many sea-going people.  However, I have, fortunately, a cousin, who is
second mate of a ship--the _Orion_--just sailing for the Cape of Good
Hope and the Mauritius.  My friends, Minnories, the brokers, have given
me a letter to the master, and if we can arrange matters with him, you
will, I hope, from what I hear, find him a pleasant man to sail with.
At all events, I know that my cousin, William Henley, is a very fine
young fellow, and will prove a good friend to you.  If I am not too
presumptuous, Mr Ralph, I might say, also, a worthy companion, though
his birth was not much less humble than was mine."

"My father would not have allowed such a consideration to weigh with us
in the choice of our companions, I assure you, Mr Ward," I answered,
promptly; for well did I remember hearing him remark, that he would far
rather his sons chose their friends from among right-principled, steady,
industrious lads, than from among the most wealthy or high-born in the
land.

"That was like him, Mr Ralph--that was like him," said the old man,
warmly.  "Now, here we are at the _Orion_.  She is a fine-looking ship
for her size--some four or five hundred tons, I should guess.  Ah, there
is William Henley himself!"

As he spoke, a dark man with a large black beard and whiskers looked
over the bulwarks, and seeing Mr Ward, came along the plank which
connected the ship with the quay towards us.  He shook hands warmly with
Mr Ward, who took him aside, while I stood patting Solon's head and
admiring the appearance of the ship--the neat way in which she was
rigged and painted, and the massive masts and yards to which the white
sails had just been bent.  I seldom had had an opportunity of examining
so large a ship ready for sea so near, and I thought her, as she truly
was, a very handsome production of human art.

"And so you wish to go to sea with us," said the mate, when he and Mr
Ward rejoined me.  I liked his tone of voice, and I saw that he was a
much younger man than his dark appearance at first led me to suppose.

"Yes, indeed I do," I answered; "I always have wished to go to sea, and
now I have a stronger motive than ever.  Perhaps Mr Ward has told you."

"Yes; I know all about it--very right," said Mr Henley.  "And you want
to secure a berth for your four-footed companion there.  He's a fine
fellow.  I'll try and arrange that for you.  Captain Seaford is a very
reasonable man, and you will like him, I know.  We shall go out of dock
to-morrow, or the next day at furthest.  You may join us at Gravesend,
if you like, but I would advise you to come on board here.  It will save
you expense and trouble, and you will find much to interest you in
seeing the ship go out of dock."

All this seemed very easily and agreeably arranged.  Mr Henley was, I
found, a connection of Captain Seaford's, and much trusted by him, so
that he did not speak without authority in what he said.  He then took
us round the ship.  She had her cargo on board, but she was taking in
stores and provisions, and appeared to be in a state of great confusion.
She was, I found, to carry a certain number of first and second class
emigrants to the Cape.  Mr Ward insisted on accompanying me to London
Bridge, declaring that the walking about in the service of my father's
son did him more good than all the doctor's physic he could take.  On
our way there he told me that the first mate of the _Orion_, Mr Paul
Grimes, was a very different sort of person to William Henley, and that
he was certainly a bad-tempered and not a well-disposed man, at all
events.

"Never mind, though," said my old friend.  "Keep on doing your duty.  Do
not retort.  Return good for evil, and so you will in the end `heap
coals of fire on his head.'  There are few men's hearts which cannot be
softened in that way."

Mr Ward kindly shook my hand when I parted from him, and begged that I
would come to him early the next day with my chest before going on board
the _Orion_.

I saw the tears trickling down my dear mother's cheeks as I gave her an
account of what had occurred during the day.

"Surely He does not desert the fatherless and widows who cry unto him;
and he employs his emissaries often in the shape of human beings to do
his work," she exclaimed, as she put her head upon my shoulder while I
stood by her side.

The next morning I was up by daybreak finishing all my preparations.  I
will not describe the parting at last.  It was very grievous for us all
to bear.  I knew too well how much my poor mother felt it, for she could
not help allowing the idea to enter that perhaps Alfred might be lost to
her for ever, and that I, too, subject to the numberless vicissitudes of
a sea-life, might never return.  Herbert was to go with me to see the
_Orion_, and Henry Raymond got leave to accompany us.  We all four--that
is to say, Solon, Herbert, Henry, and I--started away after an early
breakfast, and in spite of the sad events which had occurred--such is
the buoyancy of young spirits--a very merry party we soon became.
Perhaps our spirits were rather forced at times.  Mr Ward was not
expecting so large a party, but he was not displeased at seeing us.

I found a tailor waiting to take my measure.

"You are to be received on board as a midshipman, Mr Ralph," said the
kind old man, in a sort of hesitating way.  "There are two other
youngsters, I find, and as they wear uniforms, it is right that you
should be dressed like them.  Mr S--will get you yours ready in a few
hours, and I can settle all about it some day with your mother, you
know."

"But I do not like to put my mother to the additional expense," said I,
drawing back.

Mr Ward almost gave me a hug, while a smile of satisfaction beamed
brightly on his countenance.  "Never mind, my dear lad," he exclaimed.
"Mr S--is very liberal, and the whole matter will be arranged without
the slightest difficulty, or having to trouble your mother in any way.
You must have the uniform, and it would be a great disappointment to
have to give up the expedition because you would not get it."

I saw that there was no use disputing the point further, so wringing Mr
Ward's hand to show that I understood him, I let the tailor take my
measure.  The cab, with my sea-chest on the top of it, and a
portmanteau, hat-box, and several other articles inside, was waiting at
the door.

"We will put your property on board, Mr Ralph, and ascertain at what
time the _Orion_ goes out of dock," observed Mr Ward.  "You will have
plenty of time to come on shore again, and purchase any trifles you may
have forgotten.  William Henley will tell us all about the matter."

We were somewhat of a cabful, as Henry Raymond observed, for though Mr
Ward said he would go outside, we would not let him, nor would he let
Henry go on the box.  At last the cab reached the docks, and disgorged
its contents on the quay just before the _Orion_.  While we watched over
my property, Mr Ward went on board.  Soon a couple of seamen appeared,
and made very little difficulty in hauling my mighty chest on board.
Mr Henley then came and showed me a place between decks, near his and
the third mate's cabin, where I and the other first-class apprentices,
or midshipmen, were to swing our hammocks.  It was a gloomy, very
unattractive spot, I thought; but I had made up my mind to be contented
with whatever was provided for me, so I did not even think of grumbling.
Herbert, however, whose tastes were very different from mine, shuddered
when he found that this low, confined spot, was to be my future abode
for so long a period.

"Horrible!"  I heard him whisper to Henry Raymond.  "Poor dear Ralph! it
is sad indeed that he should have to live in so dark a hole."

Henry laughed.  "If no worse fate befall him, I do not think that he
should be unhappy," he answered.

We were all introduced to Captain Seaford, who had come on board to
visit the ship only, and we found that he was going on shore again, and
that she would after all not leave the docks for a couple of days.  I
liked Captain Seaford's appearance very much.  He was a fine,
gentlemanly-looking man, with a very kind expression of countenance; and
Mr Henley, who had before sailed with him, assured us that his
character was in accordance with his features.  He looked unwell, and
complained of being ill when he left the ship.  He told me as he went
away that I might, if I wished, remain on shore for at least forty-eight
hours longer, as there was nothing just then for me to do on board.  I
scarcely knew whether to be glad or sorry at this.  I should again see
my mother and sisters, but then there would be the parting to go through
once more.

"As you are to remain, we must try and get Mr Ward and Mr Henley to
come down and dine with us to-morrow," observed Herbert, who was always
thoughtful.  "It will be a very great comfort to our mother to know one
of the officers of the ship you are to sail in, and it will be
gratifying to her to be able to thank Mr Ward for all his kindness to
you."

We accordingly agreed that we would give the invitation, although I was
afraid that Mr Ward, at all events, would not accept it.  What was my
surprise, therefore, to find that he did so readily and cheerfully, and
he added that he was certain that William Henley would come if he could.
The reason why he now came so readily was this.  He had so much tact
and consideration, and he knew that his so doing would gratify my
mother, and that having to entertain him would assist to keep up her
spirits, and prevent her from thinking too much of her forlorn
condition.  Mr Ward would not let me go back to Blackheath till my
uniform was ready, when he made me put it on, not a little to my inward
satisfaction, and said that he would send my other things on board the
_Orion_.  He made during the day many minute inquiries about my kit, and
the various articles I possessed; and in a list he showed me in his
lodgings, he made me point out what I did not possess, and insisted in
supplying the deficiency.  He also added all sorts of odds and ends, and
many little articles which he said William Henley told him that I should
find useful.

The next day both he and Mr Henley came down to Blackheath to dine with
us.  How gentle and kind they both were!  That strong, weather-beaten,
dark-whiskered young man, who, from his appearance, I should have
expected to have a loud gruff voice, spoke on the contrary in the most
quiet, pleasant way; and in a very little time, after having at first
eyed him askance, the younger children collected round him, and were
soon listening eagerly to an account he was giving them of some of his
sea adventures, and which, when I overheard, I found he was exactly
adapting to their comprehensions.  A very pleasant afternoon was spent.
My mother and sisters did their best to amuse Mr Ward, and to show him
how much they appreciated his kindness to me.  They were also, as I knew
they would be, very much pleased with Mr Henley; and I am sure that the
kind old gentleman must have been satisfied with the result of his
unusual excursion.  He asked my mother's leave, as he was wishing her
good-bye, to be allowed to call in occasionally to see if he could be of
use to her or to any of the little ones, and just to hear also if she
had received any news of Mr Ralph.  From the diffident way in which he
spoke, it might have been supposed that she was a lady of rank and
wealth, and that he was a humble person asking some great favour.  Yet
there was certainly no false humility in anything he said.  I am very
sure that he felt as he spoke, and that my mother's loss of property
made no difference in his sight, but rather, from the way she bore it,
raised her still higher in his estimation.

The next morning Herbert accompanied me and Solon once more on board the
_Orion_.  She was just then getting ready to move out of dock, it being
close upon high water.  Captain Seaford was not on board.  He was still
ill, and it was understood that he would join us at Gravesend.  Mr Ward
was on board, according to promise, to see me off.

"I wish, my dear Mr Ralph, that you would make me your banker," he
said, after shaking hands, and leading me aside.  I was not aware that
he had already paid a considerable sum towards the premium required by
the owners, though in my case they liberally lowered it.

I told him that I hoped to get assistance from my grandfather in the
Mauritius, and that I ought not to take further advantage of his
kindness.

"It is you who do me the favour.  Mr Ralph," he answered warmly.  "You
may, indeed you are certain to want money at the Cape or elsewhere.  You
cannot carry out your object without it, depend on that, and so you see
I have already directed William Henley to honour your drafts on me; and
here, my dear Mr Ralph, I know that you will pardon an old man who made
all he possesses through your father's means, take this little bag, it
contains only twenty sovereigns--a mere trifle.  Sew it up carefully in
a belt about you; very likely you may find them useful.  Sovereigns go
everywhere, remember.  They are just bright from the bank, and full
weight.  Oh no, no; don't thank me--there's a good boy--just take them,
and stow them away at once.  That matter is settled; not another word--
not another word."

Thus he liberally and delicately made me a present which I could not
help feeling might be of the greatest service to me.  I shall have to
mention several valuable and expensive presents which I afterwards found
he had made me.

"But I thought that you suffered as did my father when the bank failed."

"Ah, well, I did lose something, certainly," he answered quickly; "but
that would be but a bad excuse for not trying to do as much good as I
can with the remainder which Providence has allowed me to retain.  Ah,
yes, I know people do make it an excuse, but it is a very bad one, and
will not prove valid, I suspect, in the day of judgment.  That is the
time we should always be looking forward to, Mr Ralph; and we should
ask ourselves, whatever we are doing, How will this stand the test on
that great day?  They have begun, sir, to cast off the wharfs.
Good-bye, dear Mr Ralph.  May you be preserved from all danger, and be
successful in your search.  Mr Herbert will go with you to Gravesend,
and I shall esteem it a favour if he will come and let me know how you
were, and how you got on at the last."

Saying this, the kind, generous old man wrung my hand and burned on
shore.  When I looked at the vast crowd of mighty ships as well as
smaller craft of all sorts with which we were surrounded, it seemed
impossible that the _Orion_ could ever be got clear of them; yet by a
proper application of hawsers, and by due pulling and hauling, she was,
in a wonderfully short time, warped clear of all impediments, and then a
steam-tug taking her in tow, away she went, aided by the ebb, down the
stream, and past many of the scenes with which I was so familiar.

Solon and I looked our last on the old _Dreadnought_, the hospital ship
for seamen of all nations, which lies just above Greenwich.  I had more
than once visited her with my father, who was a warm supporter of the
institution.  What a noble employment for a green old age, like that, I
believe, of many a gallant sailor who, having fought the battles of his
country in his youth, now employs himself by going about among his
humble fellow-creatures, and doing all the good he can to their bodies
and their souls!  I have heard of several such men, admirals and others
of high rank, who have thus happily occupied their declining years, just
as the old ship is employed in receiving all who come to be cured of
sickness and disease.  Then I gazed at Greenwich Hospital--a building I
could never look at without the greatest interest.  I knew so many of
the old inmates, and so many pleasant hours had been passed there.  What
a blessing it has proved to thousands of England's brave tars, who would
otherwise in their decrepitude have been cast helpless on the cold
world!  Above the hospital is another magnificent institution connected
with it, I believe, where the sons of naval officers, as well as seamen,
receive a first-rate nautical education.  I thought as I looked over the
ship's side that I recognised some of my old acquaintances, and then
there were some white handkerchiefs waved by some ladies in black.  I
felt certain that my mother and sisters had come to take a last glance
at me.  I waved and waved in return, and Solon stretched out his neck
and barked in a low, significant way; for Henry Raymond was with them, I
guessed, and the dog recognised him.  The incident, however, very nearly
unmanned me.  Blackwall was next passed, and Woolwich, where several
men-of-war were fitting out; but I will not further describe our voyage
down the Thames.

Herbert and I continued our walk on the quarter-deck, with Solon pacing
up and down between us.  No one had told me to do any duty; and as
Herbert was with me, I naturally did not ask what I was to do, as I
should have thus been separated from him.  Suddenly, however, I heard a
gruff, harsh voice hailing me from the poop.

"Hillo, youngster, what are your dog and you come aboard here to do, I
should like to know?"  These words were spoken by Mr Grimes, the first
mate.  "That dog of yours will be hove overboard if he misbehaves
himself, and that gold lace cap and those black kid gloves will follow,
unless you can find something to do with your hands, let me tell you."

I looked up and caught the very unpleasant glance of the mate fixed on
me.  He was a tall, thin, light-haired man, with a freckled complexion--
wiry and bony--his eyes were large and grey, but bleared, with a
remarkably hard, sinister expression in them.  I had read about people
in whose eyes the light of pity never shone, and as I looked up at that
man's, I could not help feeling that he belonged to that miserable
class.  I had been too well trained both at home and at school not to
answer properly.

"I am ready to do anything I am ordered, sir," I replied promptly,
taking off my gloves and putting them in my pocket, while I whispered to
Herbert to take Solon out of the way.

The ill temper of the mate was disarmed for the moment.  However, a
minute afterwards, as I stood where he had at first addressed me, I
heard him sing out--

"What's your name, youngster?"

I told him.

"Well, then, Mr Ralph Marsden, up aloft with you, and help to loose
that fore-topsail.  We shall be wanting a little head sail on the ship
presently."

I knew perfectly well which was the fore-topsail, but how to loose it
was a piece of practical seamanship of which I was as yet entirely
ignorant.  Up the rigging, however, I went as fast as I could--greatly,
I fancy, to poor Herbert's horror, who trembled in every joint as he saw
me, wondering how I could do such a thing, while Solon looked up and
barked, and would, I am persuaded, have come up likewise, could he have
managed it with his four legs, to help me.  I knew that some of the
seamen would be on the yard, and I hoped to get them to show me what was
to be done.  I never felt particularly giddy on a height, so I was not
at all unhappy waiting in the top till some one came to join me.  I
found, however, that Mr Grimes had only sent me up there, as he said,
to give me something to do.  He knew at the same time that he was
without necessity separating me from my brother.  Still, I gained an
advantage even from his ill nature, as I was thus somewhat accustomed to
go aloft before the ship was in the open sea, and exposed to rough
weather.  I stood, therefore, in the fore-top watching what was going on
below me on deck.  Many of the first-class passengers were walking the
poop.  They were mostly going out as settlers to Cape Colony and Natal,
while a few merchants, planters, and clerks were proceeding on to the
Mauritius.  The second-class passengers were nearly all emigrants to the
first-mentioned places.  They were mostly small shopkeepers, farmers,
servants who had saved up a little money, and others who had belonged to
a superior class, but were broken down, and all of whom had paid for
their passages.  They were a very independent set of people, apparently,
and not at all inclined to submit to discipline.  They were wonderfully
varied in the style of their costume, and it struck me that all were
aiming to be considered as belonging to a rank superior to what I
suspect they had in general held.  They were scattered about, sitting on
the bulwarks or holding on by the main rigging, watching the vessels and
the shores of the river, which few of them were destined ever to see
again.  There were fathers and mothers, with their young children, and
single men, shopmen, and farmers, and artisans going out to seek their
fortunes alone, and a few unmarried women, mostly connected with the
married couples.  There were even some old men, whom I should have
supposed would have been content to spend their latter days at home;
but, strange as it may seem, they were urged on by the same desire which
animated many of their younger companions--to make money--to do what
they had failed to do at home.  As I watched the motley collection of
people from my high perch, I observed that some were laughing and joking
as if nothing important was taking place.  Others were thoughtful, as if
conscious that they were taking an important step in life, while others
looked very sad, evidently feeling that they were quitting for ever the
home of their birth.  The little children were playing about,
unconscious that they were going to sea, and running a great risk of
tumbling down the hatchways, while several of the men were arguing and
wrangling as if the welfare of the nation depended on the result of
their discussions.  I thought to myself, I am well out of all that.
Belonging to the ship, I shall not have to associate with those people.

I had been some time in the top when the other two new midshipmen joined
me.  They had never been to sea before; and there we all stood looking
very foolish, and staring at each other, wondering what we were to do.
They also had been sent up by the first mate, as he told them to loose
the topsail.  To them it signified very little; but as I wished to be
with poor Herbert, I was very much vexed at being kept up there doing
nothing.  At length several seamen did come into the top in a lazy,
half-asleep sort of way.  I found that they had all been tipsy the
previous night, and were even then scarcely sober.  They cut their jokes
at us, loud enough for us to hear them, and addressed us as the three
Master Greenhands with much mock respect, begging to know if they really
were expected to loose the topsail, and to be informed how they were to
do it.  I was pretty well versed in nautical phraseology, though my
practical experience of sea affairs was very limited; so, knowing that
there was nothing like making a good impression at first, I turned round
on them, and said quickly--

"Come, bear a hand, my hearties!  You are sent up here to loose that
topsail,--I was sent to see you do it.  You do your duty; I'll do mine."

They looked at me with surprised glances, never suspecting my ignorance;
and instantly laying out on the yard, they cast off the gaskets and let
fall the topsail; which done, as soon as it was sheeted home, I
descended on deck.  I determined to try and make myself acquainted with
everything about the ship as soon as I could, and to maintain, if
possible, the superiority I had gained over the seamen in the top.

Among Mr Ward's many valuable gifts was one on practical seamanship,
full of prints and diagrams, which made it very easy to understand.
This also I resolved to study with all the attention I could give it, so
that I might avoid the necessity of constantly asking questions of the
seamen,--at the same time, I must say that it is very much wiser to ask
questions about things than to remain ignorant of what one wants to
know.  When I got on deck I found Herbert and Solon waiting for me at
the foot of the fore-mast, and we agreed to remain there, hoping by
keeping out of the sight of Mr Grimes to avoid more of his annoyance.
As I watched the scenes which were taking place, and the look of the
crew, and the way they went about their work, I began to be sorry that
Herbert had accompanied me on board to witness them, as I knew the
unfavourable impression they would create in his mind--which was of an
especially refined order--and that either he would fear that I might
become vitiated by them, or that I should be made very unhappy by the
sort of people with whom I should have to associate.  I tried,
therefore, to relieve his mind on that point.

"You know, Herbert, that I shall have to associate chiefly with Mr
Henley and the third mate, Mr Waller, who seems a quiet sort of young
man, while there appears to be no harm in my two fellow-midshipmen,
Sills and Broom, though they certainly do not look very bright geniuses.
I like the look, too, of Dr Cuff, the surgeon; so, depend on it,
people will soon shake into their proper places, and everything will
turn out right in the end."

We brought up at Gravesend, and had to remain there another twenty-four
hours, that certain officers from the Government Emigration Board might
visit the ship.  That night Herbert would have had to go on shore, but
Mr Henley very kindly told him that he should have his cabin, and thus
we were able to remain longer together.

The next morning the passengers were all employed in arranging their
berths, and the crew were busy in stowing away casks and bales, and so
no one attended to me--which was an advantage, as I was thus able to be
much more with Herbert.  As the time for sailing approached, it was
whispered about that Captain Seaford was very ill, and would be unable
to take charge of the ship.  Still, nothing certain was known.  At
length the hour arrived when it was necessary for Herbert to take his
leave.

After Herbert had gone, it became known positively that Captain Seaford
was unable to make the voyage; and after waiting a whole day longer,
another master came on board with one of the owners, who formally put
him in charge of the ship.  I did not at all like his looks; nor did
Solon, I suspect, for he snarled loudly at him, and in consequence, when
getting in his way, received a severe kick in his ribs.  It seemed as if
there was at once an open declaration of war between the two.  I was
very sorry for it; for I was afraid that poor Solon, being the less
powerful of the belligerents, would come off second best.  Once more the
anchor was hove up, and with a fair breeze we ran past the Nore, and
stood down Channel under all sail.  Captain Gunnell was the name by
which our new master was known.  I asked Mr Henley what sort of a man
he was.

"I sailed with him once, and I had hoped never to sail with him again,"
was his unsatisfactory reply.



CHAPTER THREE.

AT SEA--A SURLY MATE--SOLON'S ASTONISHMENT AT SEEING THE OCEAN--THE BAY
OF BISCAY--MADEIRA--FUNCHAL--VISIT ON SHORE--STORY OF THE DISCOVERY OF
MADEIRA--TRIP TO THE PICO--TOMMY BIGG--ROUGHNESS OF CREW.

At length we were fairly on our voyage, far away out on the wide ocean
without the most distant glimpse of land.  Nothing but dark, heaving,
white-crested waves around us.  To me, as I looked over the bulwarks,
the scene was inexpressibly strange, and grand, and awe-producing.  I
should have liked to have been for a short time perfectly alone, to have
enjoyed it to the full, not another human being near me, with only
Solon, my dumb companion, by my side.  Far more I could have enjoyed it,
I thought, than among the noisy, quarrelling crowd of passengers who
formed the little coarsely composed world confined within those wooden
walls, as the expression runs.  Still, I did not think that I could have
endured the solitude I wished for during any long period, but felt that
I should soon have been glad to return to the midst of my noisy
associates, Solon seemed as much surprised as I was when, looking out
first at one port, then through the other, he found that there was no
land to be seen.  Several times he ran backwards and forwards, evidently
trying to settle in his mind the state of the case.  At last he was
satisfied; then came up and licked my hand, as much as to say,--"I
understand it all now, master.  We are embarked in the same boat; and
whatever befalls us, I intend to stick by you."  Thanks to Mr Henley's
kindness, I had been allowed to arrange a berth for Solon just outside
his cabin, between two chests, and within sight of my hammock.  I made a
mattress for him with some bits of old canvas stuffed with straw; for
although a dog will do well enough even without a rug on the quiet
ground, when a ship is pitching and rolling about he is very much the
better for something soft to protect his ribs, as well as to keep him
off the damp deck.  He was also able in his snug corner to save himself
from slipping about.  Mr Grimes, I suspect, never discovered where he
slept, for the place was so dark that when he passed through that part
of the ship he did not perceive him, and Solon, whose instinct told him
that an enemy with whom he could not compete was near, always kept
perfectly quiet and silent, with his bright eyes closed or hid away
under his paws.  His movements were regulated entirely by mine.  When I
went below, so did he, either to crouch at my feet at meals, or to go to
his berth when I turned into my hammock; and the instant I was summoned
by the hoarse voice of the boatswain, or of one of his mates, to keep my
watch, he was on his feet ready to accompany me on deck.  He was only
unhappy when I had to go aloft, and then Sills and Broom told me that he
kept running under wherever I was, looking up into the rigging, and
watching me with intense earnestness--evidently showing that he was
ready to run to my assistance if he could possibly get to me, and they
declared that they saw him often examining the ratlines, and considering
whether he could manage to get up them.  He soon became a great
favourite with most of my messmates, who appreciated his affection for
me; but he was certainly not one with the first mate or the captain.  He
gave further evidence of his sagacity by managing, in the most active
manner, to keep out of their way whenever they came on deck.  The moment
they appeared, although he might just before have been frolicking and
frisking about in the merriest style possible, he slunk away with his
tail between his legs, and hid himself forward, at some spot, if
possible, whence he could see the quarter-deck, and watch for their
retiring.  Then he would run out from his hiding-place and look about on
every side to be sure that they really were not on deck, and would again
come bounding aft as joyous as before.  I could not help fancying
sometimes that he must have understood the threat Mr Grimes uttered
against him the first day he came on board.  At all events, he evidently
mistrusted the first mate's tone of voice, as he did the stern eye of
the captain.

I must not enter very minutely into what may be called the nautical
particulars of the voyage, interesting as they were to me.  Our start
was not satisfactory.  No sooner did some heavy weather come on than the
working of the ship opened the seams of her decks, and numerous other
crevices through which wet could find its way--the bull's-eye lights,
screw bolts, and skylights--the water poured down upon the unfortunate
passengers, as it did, indeed, into all the standing bed-places both of
officers and men, and soon made everybody in a most wretched condition.
Neither the captain nor Mr Grimes seemed to care about the matter.  Mr
Henley and I, therefore, accompanied the surgeon round the between-decks
to try and assist the suffering passengers.  Never had I seen any set of
people more thoroughly wretched.  The deck was in some places an inch or
more deep in water, the bedding was saturated, and the women's
petticoats and shoes and stockings were wet through and through, while
all sorts of articles were floating about amid a mass of dirt.

"We shall have fever break out among these poor people before long,"
observed Dr Cuff to the second mate.  "I must represent the state of
the case to the captain, and advise him to put back to Plymouth."

"I am glad to hear you say so, as I have thought the same," said Mr
Henley.  "The cargo, too, which I have to think about, will be damaged,
if not destroyed; and the ship, from being overloaded, steers so badly,
that it is a work to get her about, and if she was caught on a lee shore
with a heavy sea, so that we could not tack, but had to wear, the
chances are that we should run aground before we could do it.  It would
require two or three miles to wear this ship with any sea on in her
present state."

This was unpleasant information.  I had learned enough seamanship by
this time fully to comprehend what Mr Henley meant.  Tacking and
wearing are both manoeuvres to get a ship's head round so as to have the
wind on the side opposite to what it was at first.  In tacking, the helm
is put down, and the head comes up close to the wind, and then is forced
round by it till it strikes the sails on the opposite side.  Wearing, on
the contrary, is performed by putting the helm up and keeping the ship's
head away from the wind, gradually squaring the yards till she is
directly before it.  Then the helm is put down, and the yards are braced
up till she is once more brought as close to the wind as she will lie.
As she must be kept moving all this time, and as, in a gale, the ship
moves very rapidly, it may be conceived that a great extent of ground
must be run over before the whole manoeuvre can be completed.  I thought
to myself, I hope that we shall not have to tack or wear ship on a lee
shore in a dark night,--for although a shipwreck is a very interesting
incident to read about, it is a thoroughly disagreeable one to suffer.

When Dr Cuff made his report, the captain was highly indignant.  "He
would sooner see the ship go down, or all the people rot with fever,
than put back,--that was not his way," was the answer he was reported to
have made.

"Awful is the responsibility that man has taken on his shoulders!"
observed Dr Cuff to Mr Henley.

I have scarcely spoken of Waller, our third mate.  He was a rough,
uneducated young man; not much, even, of a practical sailor; and Mr
Grimes soon made a complete, though not a willing tool of him.  He was
like Caliban under Prospero,--he grumbled, but could not help himself.
After knocking about with heavy, contrary winds, somewhere in the
latitude of Cape Ushant, and running a great risk of being driven up
either the Irish Channel or on to the English coast, we at length shaped
a course across the Bay of Biscay.  That bay, famed for turbulent seas,
did not lose its character with us.  What a dark mass of troubled waters
were around us! how gloomy the sky overhead!  I could not help fancying
that disasters were about to overtake us; and, indeed, the aspect of
affairs on board was sufficiently discouraging.  I never, indeed, had
before felt so low-spirited.  The second mate predicted shipwreck; the
doctor, pestilence and death.  What else was to happen I could not tell.
Several sharp showers fell, then suddenly the sun burst forth from
behind some dark clouds with resplendent beauty, spreading over, with a
sheet of silver, a wide extent of the raging sea, along which flitted
the sombre shadows from masses of clouds, casting an occasional gloom,
but leaving the ocean once more to roll on in glorious brightness.

After all, I thought to myself, the evil anticipated may pass away like
the clouds; I was wrong to have desponded.

"You admire this, my lad," said Dr Cuff, in a kind way, as he came up
to take a short turn on deck after attending to his laborious duties
below.  "The sea presents changeful scenes and extraordinary beauties,
of which those who live always on shore have little conception.  You
will find yourself, I hope, amply repaid in the life you have chosen, by
the numberless objects of interest you will meet with in your voyages.
It is a grievous pity that lads are so often sent to sea with so small
an amount of education that they cannot appreciate the advantages they
enjoy, or make use of the opportunities which are presented to them of
acquiring information.  A sailor--an officer, I mean--unless he is
content not to be superior to a waggoner who drives his team up and down
between London and his native town, should have a fuller and more varied
style of education than men of any other profession.  He should know the
history of every country he visits, the character of its people, and
their institutions and language, its natural productions and natural
history,--indeed, no knowledge will come amiss to him."

As may be seen, I was more fortunate in my associates than I might have
expected.  I had often read of waves running mountains high in books of
poetry and other works, and I fully expected to see them as high, as the
mast-heads.  I was surprised, therefore, to find our big ship tumbled
about so much by those over which we sailed, and which seldom rose very
much higher than the bulwarks.  I told Mr Henley what I had expected to
see.  He laughed very much, and said that it was fortunate they did not
run to the height I had supposed.  He then told me that those we were
watching were generally not rising more than twenty feet, though,
occasionally, some attained an elevation of from twenty-two to
twenty-four feet.  He calculated the height of the wave by first
estimating the height of our eyes above the water, and then the height
of the crest which intercepted the horizon.

A fortnight after leaving London the gale passed away, and the next
morning we sighted a high land to the south, which was announced to be
the island of Madeira.  Latterly, we had made a good run of it.  The
captain was for giving it a wide berth, but Dr Cuff made such strong
representations as to the condition of the passengers, that, with a very
bad grace, he stood towards it.  Brightly the sun shone forth, and, with
a light breeze, we soon found ourselves enjoying a summer climate.

I was much struck with the extraordinary beauty of Funchal and the
surrounding country, as we brought up in the roads, which are on the
south side of the island.  Before us, piled one upon another, were
numberless precipitous hills, separated by ravines, with houses,
churches, and public buildings perched on every accessible point, and
climbing up, as it were, from the sea-beach to a considerable height
above the water.  On our left, on the summit of some rocks, were two
forts of somewhat ancient appearance, the guardians of the town, while
on the west was another fort of no very terrific aspect.  But perhaps
the chief attraction of the landscape, next to the picturesque outline,
was its exquisitely varied tinting and colouring, and the ever-changeful
shadows which were cast over it by the passing clouds.  White and bright
are the houses in the town, with their red tiles; and green and shining
are the quintas in the suburbs, with orange groves and coffee
plantations, extending far and wide up the hills to the height of 1500
feet or more.  One of the most conspicuous objects, standing high above
the town, is the Church of Nossa Senhora do Monte--the Lady of the
Mount--a well-known landmark to heretics as well as Catholics.  The
latter, however, offer up their vows while they look towards it as they
start on their voyage, and pay their tribute to it, if they have escaped
the perils to which they may have been exposed, on their return.

Dr Cuff, who had been there frequently before, told me that some of
the native residents had assured him that Nossa Senhora worked all sorts
of miracles.  On one occasion a famine threatened the island.  A
pilgrimage was accordingly made to the mount with great ceremony, to
entreat the beneficent lady to supply them with food.  The very next
morning a vessel laden with corn arrived from Portugal.  There could be
no doubt that the saint had had a hand in the matter.  So said the
priests of the Church; and on examining her clothes, they were found to
be perfectly wet with salt water.  The sailors, too--so it was said--
confirmed this statement by asserting that, while their vessel lay
becalmed, a white figure had risen suddenly out of the ocean, and towed
them into the roads.  Of course, the truth of the miracle being thus
satisfactorily established, the Church gained immensely by it; and no
one thought of asking the sailors whether they really had seen the
figure towing them into harbour or not.

"The way any new miracle is managed is this," continued the doctor: "The
priests boldly assert that the saint has done some wonderful thing or
other, and then they tell another story, without any foundation in
truth, as a proof of the first.  The credulous people go about and say
there can be no doubt as to such a miracle having been worked, because
so and so happened, whereas so and so never did happen.  That reminds me
of the old story of the wicked baker having been seen by the crews of
several merchantmen anchored off Stromboli, in the Mediterranean, being
driven down the crater by a number of black imps.  The proof adduced is,
that an action was brought by the widow of the old baker, who had died
at the time specified, against some of the maligners of her husband's
character.  The case was tried before Lord Eldon, or some other learned
judge, who decided against the widow, in consequence of the exact
agreement of the logs of all the vessels as to the incident narrated.
The real state of the case is, that no trial took place, and that the
whole story is a complete fiction; yet I have heard people argue on the
subject with the greatest warmth, and bring forward the trial as a proof
that such an occurrence had taken place."

However, I must not repeat the numberless yarns I heard, or I shall not
have space for my own adventures.  As soon as we had anchored, the
health-boat came off to us.  She was a large, gaily-painted boat, manned
by a mahogany-coloured crew with red caps and sashes, and white shirts,
all jabbering away in very unpleasant-sounding Portuguese.  As no one
had actually died on board, the passengers were allowed to go on shore;
but the captain warned them that, should a southerly wind spring up, he
would have instantly to put to sea, and that, should any of them not
have returned on board, they would lose their passages.  Very few,
therefore, took advantage of the privilege.  Meantime all the
passengers' bedding and clothes were got up on deck, and their berths
were well fumigated and dried with hanging stoves, and the whole space
they occupied thoroughly cleansed.

The great difficulty was to get the ship into better trim by heaving
overboard some of the ballast.  Mr Henley exerted himself greatly to
get this done by shifting a little of the cargo at a time, so as to get
down to the ballast; but after all, very little could be done to remedy
the evil.

I was very anxious to get on shore, both for my own sake to see the
place, and also to give Solon the means of stretching his legs.  I was
delighted, therefore, when Dr Cuff told me that he had obtained leave
for me to accompany him.  We went in a shore boat.  Dr Cuff advised me
always to make use of the boats belonging to a place, as more suited for
the purpose.  He said that he had seen so many accidents occur in
consequence of officers despising this caution, and insisting on landing
without necessity in their own boats.  An unexpected roller has come in
and turned them over and over, drowning all hands, while the odd-looking
and despised native boat has landed her passengers in perfect safety.

Away bounded Solon the moment he saw me fairly landed, scampering along
the sand, throwing it up and barking, and then hurrying back to me and
licking my hand, and leaping up over and over again, and then, in the
exuberance of his joy, away he went once more to repeat the same
manoeuvres.

Funchal struck me as a clean, well-paved town, built entirely of brick,
and free from mud and dust; indeed, from the steepness of the streets
and the constant supply of running water, it would be a disgrace if it
were not clean.  I fancy that the English residents have contributed
much to effect this object.  The streets are narrow, and thus shade is
obtained, a great object in a hot climate.  The largest houses are
occupied by the merchants, whose stores of wine and other goods are on
the ground floor, they living in the upper rooms.  The dress of the
peasants we met in the town on landing I thought very picturesque.  The
cap, worn both by men and women, is like an inverted funnel, made of
blue cloth lined with red, and covers only the crown of the head.  The
men have as little clothing as is consistent with decency,--a pair of
full linen drawers reaching to the knees, with a loose linen shirt, and
sometimes a jacket thrown over the shoulder, completes the costume of
most of them, stockings and shoes not being thought of.  Some, however,
we saw with trousers and long yellow boots, turned over at the tops.
They were evidently the dandies of the population.  The women appeared
in coloured petticoats, with a well-fitting bodice and a red cape.  Some
wore handkerchiefs instead of the funnel cap, and others mantillas and
black hoods, by which the whole face and figure can be concealed.  In
consequence of the steepness and hardness of the roads, wheeled vehicles
cannot be used, and a sort of sledge, a cart on runners, is employed
instead.  In the town people who cannot walk are carried about in
palanquins, slung on a long pole, and borne on the shoulders of two men.
The passenger can sit upright in them; but as they are very heavy,
people travelling to any distance into the country use hammocks, or as
the natives call them _redes_, made of fine network, and also slung on a
single pole and borne by two men.  With cushions arranged in them I can
fancy no more luxurious conveyance for an invalid, though for my part,
as I think exertion gives zest to travelling, I should prefer being
bumped on the back of a mule, or employing my own legs.  As Dr Cuff was
anxious to return on board to look after his charges, we had not seen
much of the town.

Just before embarking we went into the counting-house of a merchant, to
whom the doctor happened to speak about me.  While I was waiting outside
a gentleman came forward and invited me into an inner office, and told
me that he knew my father, and begged that I would remain with him till
the ship sailed.  I could only say that I should like it very much, if
the captain would allow me.

"Oh, we will settle all that," he answered promptly.  "We are the agents
of the owners here; he will not refuse us."

Still, I said that I must go back with the doctor, for I had determined
not in the slightest degree to disobey orders, notwithstanding any
excuse I might have to offer, and the captain had directed me to return
with the doctor.

My new friend thereupon gave me a letter containing his request, and
walked with us down to the beach.  On the way, however, we met the
captain, and I was much amused with the deferential, almost servile,
manner in which he addressed the wealthy merchant, so different to the
rough blustering way in which he treated all on board.

As William Henley observed when I told him of it, "That man is very
different on blue water and on shore."

When Solon saw the captain he grew as sedate as a judge, and shrunk back
behind my heels, scarcely venturing to lift his eyes from the ground.
The captain instantly granted the merchant's request, with many polite
expressions, warning me to keep an eye on the weather, and to return
instantly at the slightest sign of a change of wind.

My adventures in Madeira were not very exciting; I shall, therefore, be
brief.  Mr Marshall, my new friend, told me, however, much about the
place during our walk to his quinta, where I went to dine with him.
Madeira is situated between the thirty-second and thirty-third parallels
of north latitude.  Its extreme length is about 33 miles, and its
greatest breadth 14, and it contains about 115,000 inhabitants.  It was
well known to the ancients, and re-discovered by the Portuguese captain,
Zarco, sent out by the great Don Henry.  Zarco was appointed governor of
the southern and western portion of the island, and Captain Vaz of the
northern and eastern.  It afterwards, with the mother-country, fell
under the dominion of Spain, who ruled it, as she has invariably done
her foreign settlements, with cruelty and oppression; but at length, in
1640, under Don Joao IV, it was restored to Portugal, and the island
recovered its prosperity.  For a short time in 1801 and 1807, the
English held it to protect it from the French.  Mr Marshall told me an
interesting story about its early discovery.  An Englishman, Robert
Machin, in the reign of Edward III, fell in love with a lady, Anna
D'Abret, whose father would not consent to his marriage with her.  He at
length, however, succeeded in running off with her, and embarked in a
vessel, intending to proceed to France.  He was, however, driven by a
storm to the southward, and the first land he saw was that of Madeira.
He having landed with the lady Anna and some of the ship's company, the
vessel was driven out to sea.  Those who remained on shore underwent
great suffering, in consequence of which the lady died.  Heartbroken
Machin, refusing all food, died also, desiring to be buried in the same
grave with her whose untimely end he had caused.  The survivors escaping
in a boat, landed on the coast of Barbary, where they were made
prisoners by the Moors.  Having related their adventures to a
fellow-prisoner, the information at length reached the ears of Goncalves
Zarco, who certainly brought the first news of the discovery of the
island to Europe.  The tale, however, is doubted; but there is an air of
probability about it, which makes me fancy that it has its foundation in
truth, and I can no more speak of Madeira without thinking of the
unfortunate, high-born, and lovely Anna D'Abret, and the bold plebeian,
Robert Machin, than I can of the Mauritius, and forget Paul and
Virginia, or of Juan Fernandez, without believing that Robinson Crusoe
lived on it.

There was something particularly cool and pleasant in the appearance of
Mr Marshall's house.  The rooms were large, the floors covered with
matting instead of carpets, and the furniture consisted chiefly of
cane-bottom sofas and chairs, while in front were shady verandahs with
banana trees, their long fan-like leaves waving before them, and
contributing, by their continual movement, to keep the air cool and
fresh.

The next morning Mr Marshall went on board, and ascertained that the
ship would not sail that day, unless compelled to do so by a shift of
wind, which was not likely to occur.  He accordingly invited me to take
a ride with him and two other gentlemen to the Pico Grande, above the
Curral das Freiras, whence a superb view over a large portion of the
island is obtained.  We were mounted on small horses active as goats.
Each horse was attended by a _burroquero_, literally a donkey driver.
They were fine athletic fellows, armed with a _rabo_, a cow's tail at
the end of a stick, to flick off the venomous flies which worry both
animals and riders.  They carried also cloaks and umbrellas, to shield
their masters from cold and mist.  We rode out of the town between walls
covered in profusion with heliotropes, roses, geraniums, fuchsias, and
other sweet-smelling flowers, often having trellises of vines completely
closing over our heads for many yards together, while here and there
were _mirantes_, or summer-houses, literally _Gaze-out-of-places_, very
properly so called, for they were filled with ladies, and often
gentlemen, who seemed to have nothing else to do than to watch the
passers-by all day.  The road for some way was not bad, being paved with
stones set edgeways and tolerably even.  Solon followed us with great
gravity, looking up at the mongrel curs which ran along the tops of the
quinta walls, barking and yelping in tones sufficiently loud to crack
the drums of our ears.  Never before had I seen views so varied and
beautiful of mountains, and round hills, and precipitous cliffs, and
rugged peaks, green plantations, vineyards, orangeries, white buildings,
deep valleys and gouges, and the blue sea beyond, all forming the
setting to the picture.  The first place we stopped at was the little
church of the Estreito, the padre of which, habited in a gay robe,
invited us to take a view of the surrounding scenery from the top of his
tower.  When three thousand feet above the sea, we found ourselves
surrounded by a grove of Spanish chestnuts, at the habitation of the
late consul, Mr Veitch, a lovely spot, the house in the Italian style.
It is called the Jardin.  In the grounds the chief varieties of tea
cultivated in China are grown, as well as many other rare and curious
plants.  Mounting higher and higher, we reached at last the Curral das
Freiras.  Girls surrounded us begging, and men and boys offering us
sticks to ascend to the Pico.

"Stay," said Mr Marshall, after we got off our steeds, and leading us
over the green sward, we stood at the edge of a precipice nearly 5000
feet above the blue ocean.

It was difficult at first to distinguish the numberless objects which
appeared before us, far, far away below our feet.  Gradually, however,
sky and sea as it were separated, woods and fields, and hills and
valleys, and convents and churches, and quintas and cottages, came out,
and colours divided themselves, and the wonderful landscape, in all its
beautiful variety, appeared before us.  Still every object was
diminished so much, that even the Church of Libramento, which is itself
situated 2000 feet above the sea, appeared but a small speck at the
bottom of a huge basin.  After enjoying the scene for some time we were
summoned to proceed, and higher still we went, round and round by
winding paths, superb views bursting on our sight each instant, for an
hour or more, till we reached the foot of the _Pico Grande_, higher than
which our four-footed beasts could not go.  However, one of my
companions and I, with a guide, climbed to the very top of the Pico, and
such a view as that of mountain, valley, and blue laughing ocean, I had
never before beheld.  On one side was the _Pico Huivo_, the embattled
_Torrinhas_, the rugged _Sidrao_ and _Arnero_; and on the other, the
long unbroken ridge of Paul with the Terra d'Agoa, clothed in an
evergreen mantle of forest far below it.  Our burroqueros had brought on
their shoulders some baskets of provisions, off which we made a capital
luncheon.  I could not help wishing all the time that Herbert and Henry
Raymond could have been with me--they would have so enjoyed the scenery;
for though Solon seemed to think it all very good fun, he evidently
would have said that the luncheon was the best part of the expedition.
We got back much faster than we went up, for our horses were far less
inclined to stop to allow us to admire the views.  Somehow or other, one
is always influenced, even in that respect, by the animal one bestrides:

Madeira may be said to consist of a mass of mountains, the highest
points of which rise in a central ridge.  Cliffs varying in height from
100 to 2000 feet form the coast boundary of the island.  On the north
they are the highest and most abrupt, while on the south they are lower
and more accessible.  The central mountains branch down to the sea in
ridges parted by deep ravines, in some places full of dark forests,
adding to their gloomy grandeur.  The towns are generally situated in
the more open parts of these ravines.  From the tops of the mountains
the sea can be discovered on all sides; but this adds to the grandeur of
the prospect, as a person cannot but experience a feeling of awe when he
considers that he is thus perched aloft, as it were, on a mere point in
the centre of the vast Atlantic.  I have only described one of the many
very interesting excursions which may be made in Madeira.  I should
think it must be a delightful place in which to spend a winter, and I
wonder more people do not go there.  My friend described the Portuguese
inhabitants as the most polite and good-natured of all the people with
whom he ever had any intercourse; and as provisions are plentiful and
cheap, and the voyage can be performed in a week, I am surprised it is
not more frequented.

I thought it prudent to go on board that night, and fortunately I did
so, for at daybreak the next morning the captain ordered a gun to be
fired, the anchor to be hove up, and sail to be made.  There was but
little wind, so a boat-load of passengers who had slept on shore had
just time half-dressed to reach the ship before she stood out of the
bay.  Of course it was provoking to have to lose so much of a fair
breeze, but the ship was, I found, very far from being in a proper
condition to put to sea.  We were to prove the proverb true, that "too
much haste is bad speed."

The condition of the passengers was somewhat improved, but still there
had not been time thoroughly to clean and dry their berths, or to wash
their clothes, while the decks were in want of caulking, and very little
of the superabundant ballast had been removed.  Mr Henley had been
working very hard with those under him, but Mr Grimes declared that he
did not consider that the matter was of any consequence, and would do
nothing.  Three or four days more spent in making the required
alterations would have prevented much after-suffering.  It was some
hours before we sunk the lofty eminences of Madeira below the horizon.

I have hitherto said very little about my shipmates.  The men were
mostly a rough set, now brought together for the first time, and without
that confidence which long acquaintance gives either in their officers
or in each other.  Without being unduly familiar, I was on good terms
with most of them.  I had done my very utmost to gain a knowledge of
everything about the ship, and had thus kept the respect which I at
first had gained, before they found out that I was really a greenhorn.
I now knew so much that I did not fear having to ask them questions, and
I thus quickly became versed in all the mysteries of knotting and
splicing, and numberless other details of a seaman's work.  I found,
however, that many of the older sailors had a very rough and imperfect
way of doing those ordinary things, and that some of the younger ones,
who had been brought up under a better system, did them in a superior
style, and far more expeditiously.

My most willing instructor was an oldish man, John Spratt by name;
Johnny Spratt he was generally called.  He was very short and very fat.
It was a wonder how he could get aloft as rapidly as he did; but no man
stepped more lightly along the decks.  He also said the reason of that
was that his heart was so light.  In spite of the rubs he received, he
was the merriest, and apparently the happiest fellow on board; nothing
put him out.  He was very independent in his manner, and had gained the
ill-will of the captain and first mate, as well as of the boatswain and
some of the men.  "Though I get more kicks than halfpence, what are the
odds?" he was wont to say.  "My fat shields my bones, and I've got quite
used to such compliments."  In some ships Johnny would have been valued
and made much of, from his sterling qualities--on board the _Orion_ he
was despised and ill-treated.  He and Solon took a great liking to each
other, and I knew that if he was on deck my dog would be watched by him
and protected.

I could not manage to make companions of my messmates Sills and Broom.
Their education was very limited, and the few ideas they possessed were
frequently erroneous.  Sills was not ill-natured, though weak, and
easily led by anybody who would take the trouble to lead him.  Broom I
found at times surly and quarrelsome, and inclined always to grumble.
However, as I had been a good many years at school, and had often met
similar characters, though my school-fellows were more refined, I knew
pretty well how to deal with him.

There was a great deal of bullying and tyranny going on on board from
the very first.  The captain and mates, except Mr Henley, bullied the
men, and the men bullied the boys, and the boys bullied each other, and
teased the dumb animals, the pigs, and the goats, and the fowls, and a
monkey--the weakest, or the best natured, as usual, going to the wall.
The worst treated was a little fellow--Tommy Bigg by name.  His size was
strongly in contrast to his cognomen--for his age he was one of the
smallest fellows I ever saw.  He was nearly fifteen years old, I fancy--
he might even have been more, but he was a simple-minded, quiet-mannered
lad, and from the expression of his countenance, independent of his
size, he looked much younger.  He had no friends, having been sent on
board the ship from the workhouse when she was first fitted out.  He had
belonged to her ever since, having remained to assist the ship keeper in
sweeping her out, and looking after her when he had to leave her.  He
had never, I believe, set foot on shore since the first moment he had
been sent on board.  He was as cheap to keep as a dog, and was as
vigilant and more useful, and he got dog's fare, and received dogs
thanks--more kicks than halfpence.  He had no parents and no friends.
His father, he told me, was a sailor; and as he had gone away some years
ago, and never come back, it was supposed that he had been lost at sea.
He had a fond recollection of his father as the only being who had ever
cared for him, and he remembered how he used to carry him in his arms,
and jump with him, and bring him all sorts of curious things to play
with, and how he kissed him and wept when he had to go away again to
sea.  Tommy had been left in charge of a poor woman, who treated him
very kindly, but she died, and no news coming of his father, he had been
sent to the workhouse of the parish to which one of the owners of the
_Orion_ belonged.  Through him Tommy was sent on board to fight his way
onward in the world.  Under Captain Seaford his life had been happy
enough--now it was very much the contrary; and poor Tommy, when kicked
and cuffed without mercy, often in his misery threatened that he would
jump overboard and drown himself, and that his ghost would ever after
haunt the ship.  I heard him one day make the threat, and at once spoke
to him on the subject, showing him that it was wicked even to threaten
to do so, although he might not intend to commit the act; but much more
horrible would it be actually to destroy his life, because he would have
to appear in the presence of an offended God without having the
possibility of repenting and seeking for forgiveness for one of the
greatest crimes a man can commit--murder--self-murder being of equal
magnitude with it.  Tommy listened very attentively; a new light seemed
to beam upon him--he had evidently not considered the subject in that
way, and in very thoughtlessness might have thrown himself overboard.  I
had early in the voyage observed the poor lad, and taken an interest in
him from his seeming youth and helplessness; and I resolved, as far as I
had the power, to stand his friend, and to protect him from the cruelty
of his messmates--with what result was to be seen.  When on deck, if I
observed a seaman about to bestow the end of a rope or a kick on him, I
sharply hailed either one or the other, and gave some order, which for
the time prevented the punishment, but I fear Tommy seldom failed to
receive it when my back was turned.

There are numberless objects to be observed at sea, if people do but
know how to appreciate them.  Dr Cuff pointed out many to me; and one
of the passengers, a clergyman, when he found that I took a deep
interest in such matters, showed me many others.  Just before entering
the trade-wind region we observed several whales sporting round the
ship.  Directly afterwards we found ourselves in a shoal of medusas or
jellyfish.  The least diameter the scientific men on board assigned to
the shoal was from thirty to forty miles; and, supposing that there was
only one jelly-fish in every ten square feet of surface, there must have
been 225,000,000 of them, without calculating those below the surface.
They moved by sucking in the water at one end of the lobe, and expelling
it at the other.  When I watched them I said they put me in mind of a
white silk parasol opening and shutting.  Dr Cuff had a powerful
microscope, through which he examined one of the stomachs of the
medusae.  It was found to be full of diatoms, which are flinty-shelled
microscopic animals of every variety of shape, such as stars, crosses,
semicircles, and spirals--yet soft as are the jelly-fish, they can
consume them.  This one medusa had in its stomach no less than seven
hundred thousand diatoms, so that it would be rather difficult to
compute how many the whole shoal consumed for their dinner--they in
their turn having to be eaten by the huge whales.



CHAPTER FOUR.

NATURAL PHENOMENA OF THE OCEAN--SERVICE AT SEA--MR. VERNON--A DEAD
CALM--FEVER BREAKS OUT--DISPUTE BETWEEN CAPTAIN AND FIRST MATE--ITS
CONSEQUENCES--MORTALITY AMONG PASSENGERS--SIGHT THE LAND--TENERIFFE--
NOTICE OF HISTORY--SANTA CRUZ--ATTACK ON IT UNDER LORD NELSON--AN
EXCURSION UP THE PEAK.

I had during my voyages and travels ample proof of the truth of the
remark, that different people see the same object in very different
lights.  Frequently I had heard persons declare that nothing is more
dull and stupid than a long sea voyage--that there is nothing on the
ocean to afford interest--nothing to look at, or think about--nothing to
do.  I have every reason to assert the contrary of this to be the case.
Of course I had plenty to do in learning my profession; I did not forget
to make ample use of my master's gift--my sextant; and in this Mr
Henley gave me all the assistance in his power.  I never failed to make
use of it on all occasions, so that in a short time I became a very good
observer.  I do not say this as a boast, but that others may understand
what may be done by attention and perseverance.  Sills and Broom used to
say that it would be time enough by-and-by to begin learning navigation,
and so weeks passed away, and they knew nothing whatever about it.

With regard to objects to be noted at sea, I will only touch on a few of
them.  The form of the waves varied much as we advanced southward.  In
the Bay of Biscay they had been exceedingly irregular, and now the
crests formed almost straight lines, only one sea now and then rising
above his fellows like some huge marine monster, and rolling on in
potent majesty, till lost to sight in the distance.  The clouds, too,
were even for a time varying; one day especially I remember remarking
some masses of clouds collecting in the east--Mr Waller called them
lightning clouds--their shadowy parts were of a peculiar steel blue,
while the brighter portions glowed with a fleshy tint.  At dusk,
catching the reflection of the sun, they seemed to shine out of the dark
sky like pale spectres of gigantic size, casting their supernatural
lights over the waves.  At midnight the expected lightning burst forth
with as almost terror-inspiring grandeur; sometimes eight or ten flashes
of forked lightning darted forth at once, lighting up the whole ocean,
and showing the dark banks of clouds assembling in the distance.  Even
when the lightning ceased, so great was the phosphorescence of the
ocean, that, as the ship surged onward through it, she seemed to be
throwing off masses of sparkling gems from her bows; and as I was
looking over the side, I observed a huge shark, or some other ocean
monster, swim by amidst a blaze of light.  The clouds, like the waves,
grew more regular as we sailed south, and at length formed long parallel
lines, radiating out of the north-east, and converging into the
south-west points of the horizon--finally forming one unbroken sheet
over the Canary Islands.

The great difficulty of making observations at sea, except with a
sextant--and such, it must be remembered, are of a very rough nature
compared with those made on shore--is want of steadiness.  The sea is
never quiet, and no machine has as yet been invented to counteract the
movement of a ship, and obtain a perfect level.

Mr Vernon, the clergyman passenger I spoke of, told me an anecdote of
Galileo, showing that, great as he was as an astronomer, he might make a
great mistake by forgetting to take all points into consideration.  He
fancied that he had discovered a method of determining longitudes at sea
by observing the eclipses of Jupiter's satellites.  He accordingly went
to the King of Spain and offered to manufacture telescopes to enable his
navigators to sail across the ocean without fear or hesitation.  His
telescopes were unexceptionable, and his method excellent, but it
depended entirely on the perfect steadiness of the observer; and, as
even the biggest ships of the mighty monarch of Spain could not be
taught to keep quiet, the great astronomer's telescopes were perfectly
useless.

I was much struck with the fine deep Prussian blue of the waters, which
had changed from the cobalt bine of more northern latitudes, as also
with its extraordinary power to froth and effervesce.  The water, as it
was dashed about the decks in the morning from the buckets, sparkled
like champagne; but perhaps that was owing more to the nature of the
atmosphere than to any peculiarity in the water.

I found that I had several erroneous notions of my own to correct.  I
always fancied that a porpoise was a great fat lumbering sleepy animal,
simply because people are accustomed to say "as fat as a porpoise."  In
reality he is a gracefully formed, remarkably fast, sociable,
warm-hearted, or rather warm-blooded fellow, with a coat of fat like a
paletot on his back, to keep out the chill of the icy seas.  He is more
like a hunter than a pig; and, as to "rolling and wallowing," those are
expressions used by poets who never saw a porpoise dashing away at
twenty or thirty knots an hour, or a whole shoal bearing down upon a
ship like a troop of light horse, and escorting her for miles and miles,
careering away, darting round and round her as if she were only going at
the speed of some heavy baggage waggon; and humbling the pride of those
who have been before hugging themselves with the pleasing idea that she
has been moving along at a tremendous speed.  The back fin is triangular
and near the tail; and as the active fish plunges forward through the
tumbling seas, the fin seen for an instant, and looking like his back,
makes him appear as if he was rolling slowly on in the water--a very
different movement from what he really makes, which is rapid in the
extreme.  While talking of cetaceous animals, to which order the
porpoise belongs, I must remark on a very common error held by seaman as
well as landsmen, that whales spout out water.  The idea is, that the
water is taken into the stomach while the whale is feeding, and ejected
when he rises to the surface.  This is in no sense the case.  What the
whale spouts forth is a steam-like air, dense with mucous vapour, of
which he must empty his lungs before he can take in a fresh supply of
atmospheric air to enable him to dive down again to the depths of the
ocean.

We were now enjoying the north-east trade wind.  The latitude in which
these winds are to be met with varies by several degrees, according to
the season of the year.  An indication that we were entering them was
shown by the barometer, which had previously been low, falling still
more from 30 degrees 3 minutes to 30 degrees 2 minutes, and even lower.
But if I was to go on describing all the phenomena I observed, and all
the information on natural history I obtained, I should have no space
left for my own adventures, or an account of the countries I visited.

I spoke of Mr Vernon, a clergyman.  At first he had been ill, but when
he recovered he made a great effort to have religious services held on
board on each Sunday, as well as on other days of the week.  The captain
and first mate, as may be supposed, objected to the measure.

"People might go to church when they got on shore if they liked, but on
board his ship he was not going to have anything of that sort," was the
captain's reply.

"But our worship is to praise and to pray to that God who protects us
equally at sea as on shore," was Mr Vernon's mild reply.  "It will be
such that all denominations may join in it, and surely no one on board
would wish to be without God's protection and help; yet, if we do not
ask for it when we have the power, how can we expect to obtain it?"

The captain could make no reply to this question, and though he went
away grumbling, and would afford no assistance to the arrangements, he
did not prevent Mr Henley from rigging an awning on deck, or oppose the
assembling together of the passengers and some very few of the crew
under it.  The second mate, the doctor and I, and Spratt and Tommy Bigg,
were the only ones of the ship's company who took the trouble to attend.
Some kept away, they said, because the captain did not encourage the
movement; and others had no better reason to offer than that as they
never had had to attend services at sea, they did not know why they
should now begin.  Broom said that he didn't come to sea to have to go
to church; and Sills remarked that, as the captain did not patronise the
affair, he did not think it right for the officers to do so, and he
wondered how we ventured to be so mutinous.  Now, strange as it may
seem, these are in no degree more absurd or more contemptible than the
kind of excuses offered constantly by people on shore for not attending
religious worship; in other words, for not offering up their meed of
adoration, for not praying to that great and good Being from whom we all
receive our existence and everything we enjoy in this world, and in
whose presence and sight we can alone hope to enjoy happiness in the
life to come.  Mr Vernon, however, persevered; and Sunday after Sunday
fresh members, if not converts, were added to his little congregation,
till even Sills and the rough Waller, and the still rougher boatswain,
occasionally appeared among them.

We had, for the sake of obtaining the north-east trade-wind, kept closer
to the coast of Africa than usual; and whether it was from keeping too
much to the eastward, or that for some reason the wind did not reach
that point, we found the breeze fail us, and the sails began to flap
lazily against the masts.  There we lay day after day with the hot sun
beating down on our heads, making the pitch in the seams of the decks
boil and bubble, and drawing up dense masses of steam from the damp and
crowded berths below.

One day observing the doctor looking graver than usual, I inquired, as
he was passing along the deck, "What is the matter, doctor?"

"Fever has broken out among these poor people, in consequence, it is
pretty evident, of the measures I advised not having been taken at
Madeira; and if something is not done to get the ship to rights,
one-half of them may be carried off," he replied, with some bitterness
in his tone.

"What ought to be done?"  I asked.

"Put into port and land the passengers," he replied.  "A bad
commencement is certain to cause a great deal of trouble.  Had we put
back to Plymouth the ship might at once have been, set to rights, and we
should probably have reached the Cape in less time and with less
suffering than it is likely will now be the case.  If this were a
Government emigrant ship, I should have the power of compelling the
captain to put into port; but all I can do is to represent the state of
the case and protest."

Day after day we lay on the glass like shining ocean, surrounded by the
straw and empty hampers and bottles, and all sorts of things thrown
overboard, showing that we had not in the slightest degree moved from
the spot where the wind last left us.  The people grew paler, and more
wan and sickly.  Many took to their beds; and now one death occurred,
and now another.  A strong, hardy young man was the first to succumb to
the fever, and then a young woman, and then a little child; next a
mother was carried off, leaving six or seven children to the care of the
heart-broken father.  Again death came and carried off an old man, one
of those who had left home in the hope of making gold in the far-off
land to which we were bound.

A funeral at sea is a very impressive ceremony.  Had Mr Vernon not been
on board, the dead would have been committed to their floating grave
with a scant allowance of it.  He, however, came forward and read some
portions of Scripture, and offered up some short and appropriate
prayers--not for those who had departed; he had prayed with them and for
them while they were jet in the flesh--but that strength and support
might be afforded to the survivors, and that they might be induced to
repent and rest their hope on One who is all-powerful to save, ere they
too might be called away.  Painful, indeed, were the scenes which took
place--the cries and groans of some of the bereaved ones--the silent
grief and trickling tears of others, while ever and anon the despairing
shrieks or ejaculations of those who feared that they too might speedily
be summoned from the world, were heard ascending from below.
Notwithstanding this, the captain vowed that he would continue the
voyage as soon as the wind returned, without again putting into port.

I had observed that though the captain carried it with a high hand over
all the other officers and crew, he always treated Mr Henley with
considerable respect, and never swore at or abused him.  They, however,
very seldom exchanged any words with each other; and, indeed, never
spoke except on duty.  I had lately remarked Mr Henley constantly
watching the captain, who seemed to shrink away from him at times, and
avoid his gaze; though when he saw that the second mate was not looking
at him, he turned on him a glance of the most intense hatred.  One day,
after this sort of work had been going on for some time, I asked Mr
Henley why it was that he had said he would not, if he could have helped
it, have sailed again with Captain Gunnell.

"Have you remarked anything strange about him lately, Marsden?" he asked
in return.

I said that I thought he looked flushed and hurried in his manner, and
that he often spoke thick, and said things without meaning.

"You have divined one of the many reasons I have for not liking him," he
observed.  "He has one of the worst vices which the master of a ship can
possess, or any man who has the lives of hundreds committed to his
charge.  He is desperately addicted to liquor; yet, strange to say, he
has sufficient command over himself to keep sober in harbour, or when he
is approaching a port, so that the owners and consignees, and others who
might have taken notice of it, have never discovered his failing, as it
would be called, while an inferior officer like myself would feel that
it would be perfectly useless to report him.  I thought of doing so for
the sake of my fellow-creatures who might have otherwise to sail with
him, but I knew that there would be great difficulty in substantiating
my charge, and that if I failed I should ruin my own prospects; so,
right or wrong, I abandoned the idea."

"And so once more you have to sail with him," I could not help
remarking.

"You are right, Marsden; I ought to have had more moral courage,"
answered the second mate.  "And now I fear that he will get us into
greater trouble than he did those on board the ship in which I before
sailed with him.  The way the men are treated is very bad; and his
refusal to put into harbour may be productive of very serious
consequences, especially should we be caught by bad weather."

Scarcely had Mr Henley said this than the captain made his appearance
on deck with his sextant in his hand, as if to take a meridional
observation.  Though it was thus early in the day, I remarked the
peculiarities about him of which I had been speaking.  He looked around
him angrily.

"Are none of the officers here?" he exclaimed, turning away, however,
from the second mate.  "Where is Mr Grimes? what is the fellow about?
send him here, some one.  And you, sir--you think yourself a navigator--
go and get your sextant and prove yourself one," he added, turning
fiercely to me.  "You young slips of gentility must be kept in order."

Of course I made no other reply than, "Ay, ay, sir," and went below to
get my sextant.  I kept it, I should have observed, in Mr Henley's
cabin.  The door was locked, so I had to return to him for the key, and
some little time had thus elapsed before I got back on deck.  I found
the first mate and captain in high dispute.  The origin of the quarrel I
could not comprehend.  They had differed, I found, as to their readings
on their instruments which is not surprising, for, horrible to relate,
as I watched them attentively the conviction forced itself on my mind
that they had both deprived themselves of the right use of their
intellects--they were both drunk, verging towards the condition of brute
beasts.  Presently Mr Grimes said something which still more offended
the captain, who, lifting up his sextant--a valuable instrument
belonging to Captain Seaford--threw it with all his force at the mate's
head, and it was dashed to pieces on the deck.  The latter, whose ear
had been struck, with the same thoughtless impulse, and furious at the
insult, rushed towards the captain, and striking him with his sextant in
return on the face, knocked him over, when, falling forward with the
impetus, it also was rendered hopelessly useless.  There they both lay,
grovelling, kicking, and swearing, and abusing each other in a manner
truly terrible; while the cabin passengers who were on the poop,
witnesses of the scene, looked on with dismay, not knowing what might
next happen.

"I have seen something like this occur before," said Mr Henley to me.
"Call Mr Waller and the boatswain, we must carry them to their cabins."

I hurried to obey the order.  Some of the men had observed the
occurrence, and I feared that the officers would scarcely be able to
maintain any authority over them after it.  The master and first mate
were carried to their cabins; but they both contrived to get more
spirits brought to them, I afterwards found, by the steward, and for
several days they remained almost in a state of insensibility.  During
this time three or four more of the second-class passengers had died;
the first, or, as some of the people forward called them, the
aristocrats, had hitherto escaped, as their cabins were better
ventilated and dryer, and they had better food, and, more than all,
generally knew better how to take care of themselves.  But now they also
began to sicken, and look pale, and anxious, and sad.  Well they might
indeed!

Mr Vernon's character as a minister of the gospel now appeared to great
advantage.  Fearless himself, he went among the sick and dying,
encouraging, consoling, and warning.  Many of those who had before
refused his ministrations now listened to him eagerly.  Vain they felt
was any hope in man.  He offered foundation for hope, but it was from
above.  Fond of science as he was, all his scientific pursuits were now
laid aside that he might devote himself to the duties of his far higher
ministerial calling.

Mr Grimes made his appearance on deck before the captain.  He could
scarcely be persuaded that some days had passed while he was below, and
was much puzzled to account for it.  He thought that he had had the
fever, but never appeared to suspect the true cause of his illness,
till, asking for his sextant, the fragments were brought him by the
steward, who minutely explained how it had been broken.  Then the truth
burst on him, but it did not make him at all ashamed; he only became
more savage and tyrannical.  I felt very sure that, although I had
hitherto enjoyed a tolerable immunity from ill-treatment, my time would
come before long.

For some days, though the people continued sickly, death had not visited
us, and the spirits of the crew and passengers rose accordingly.  The
great desire was to get a breeze.  Sailors have a trick of whistling
when they want wind--trick it is, because very few really believe that
their whistling will bring a wind.  It was amusing to see everybody
whistling; the boys forward took it up--the passengers aft; the gruff
old boatswain was whistling more furiously than anybody, but I saw him
cock his eye knowingly at some clouds gathering to the northward.  Just
then, as I was looking aloft, I saw a bird pitch on the fore-topgallant
yard-arm.

"A booby! a booby!" was the cry.

Tommy Bigg was in the fore-top, sent up for something or other, and the
desire to possess the bird seized him.  Any incident, however light,
creates a sensation in a calm.  All eyes were directed towards Tommy and
the bird.  It was a great doubt whether the latter would not fly away,
however, before Tommy got him.

"What is it you are looking at?" asked Sills, just then coming on deck.

"A booby, lad," answered the doctor, to whom he spoke regarding him
calmly; whereat Broom and Waller laughed, but Sills only said: "See now,
what's that?" and looked up at the yard-arm whereon the bird sat
perched.

"We've two of them aboard just now," observed Broom, who never lost an
opportunity of having a fling at his chum.

Tommy had reached the cross-trees: now he had his feet on the topgallant
yard.  He looked at the booby, and the booby looked at him, as much as
to say, "What do you want with me?" but had not the sense to make use of
his wings.  A great ado and discussion arose among the passengers, as to
whether boy or bird would prove the victor.  Tommy worked his way along
the foot-ropes, holding on tightly with one hand while he lifted up the
other, and down it came on the neck of the bird.  Tommy in triumph
brought him on deck, and in spite of the grabs made at him by the
seamen, succeeded in conveying him safely to me.

"There, sir, you'd like to have a look at that thing," said he, putting
the poor bird, whose windpipe he had pressed so tightly that it had
little power to struggle, into my hands.

The little fellow wanted to show his gratitude to me, so I thanked him,
and examined the bird.  It was larger and longer in the body than a
common duck--a species of gannet--with a brown body, and under-part
white, and a long beak; its expression of countenance indicating, I
declared, the excessive stupidity it is said to possess.  Several of the
passengers crowded round to have a look at the stranger, and while thus
engaged I was startled by hearing Mr Waller, who had charge of the
deck, sing out--

"Hand topgallant sails! brail up the main-sail! let fly mizzen-topsail
sheets! up with the helm!"

Mr Henley, hearing the orders, hurried on deck, while Mr Grimes,
scarcely yet having recovered his senses, came out of his cabin and
looked stupidly about him.  The example he set, of course, had a bad
effect on the crew, already badly enough disposed; so they slowly and
lazily prepared to obey orders which should instantly have been
executed.  A heavy squall, which the third mate ought to have foreseen,
struck the ship.  Over she heeled to it, till she was borne down on her
beam ends.  Away flew royals, topgallant sails, main and
mizzen-topsail-sheets, and the stout ship, before she righted and obeyed
the helm, was deluged with water, and reduced almost to a wreck.  At
length she was got before the wind, and away she ran towards the south
and east, surrounded by a cloud of mist and foam which circumscribed our
view to a very narrow compass.  The sea, too, got up with a rapidity
truly astonishing.  It seemed as if the giant waves had been rolling on
towards us from some far-off part of the ocean.  All that day and night
we ran on.  Scarcely had the first streaks of dawn appeared, when the
look-out aloft shouted--

"Land on the starboard bow!"

Startling, indeed, was the cry.  Mr Henley and I, and Mr Waller, had
been watching to take observations after the captain and mate had broken
their sextants, but we had not been able to ascertain our position with
the exactness we wished; and the second mate thought the ship might have
been set by some current to the eastward of her course.  The first mate
now came on deck; he examined the land as we drew in with it, and then
ordered the ship to be kept more to the southward, but still the land
appeared more and more ahead.  I asked Mr Henley what he thought about
the matter.

"I have some fears that it is the coast of Africa.  It may be the
north-east coast of Grand Canary," he answered; but even while we were
speaking, we observed a line of dark rocks over which the sea was
breaking furiously, heaving up on high, dense masses of foam.

Shipwreck, in one of its worst aspects, on a wild coast, without help at
hand, stared us in the face.  The passengers soon got notice of the
condition of the ship, and came hurrying, pale and trembling, on deck.
Never had I seen so many horror-stricken countenances collected
together, as they gazed forth on the rock-bound desolate shore towards
which the ship was hurrying.  Mr Henley had carefully been watching the
land.

"I have hopes," he observed at last, "that the land we see is Point
Arraga in Teneriffe, and if so, we shall soon see a long continued
coast-line."

Anxiously we kept our eyes fixed on the shore.  Just then an apparition
appeared in the shape of the captain, his coat only half on, and his
hair streaming in the wind.  He looked about him, trying to comprehend
what had occurred.  Then suddenly he ordered the helm to be put to port,
with the idea of hauling up to the westward, and trying to escape the
danger in that direction.  Before the order was obeyed Mr Henley
stepped boldly up to him.

"If we do that, sir, the ship will be cast away," he said firmly.  "That
is the island of Teneriffe aboard of us, and we shall soon be getting
round its eastern point and into smooth water."

By this time all the cabin, as well as second-class passengers and the
crew, were collected on deck, listening anxiously to what was going
forward.  The captain stamped about the deck once or twice, as if
undecided what to do.

"You may be a very good navigator, Mr Henley, and you may have taken
very good care of the ship while I have been ill," he exclaimed at last;
"but to tell me that the land we see there is the island of Teneriffe,
is perfectly ridiculous.  I'd just as soon believe that that is
Teneriffe as I would what you and the parsons would tell us, that
there's a heaven and all that."

Just as he was speaking, the dark clouds which had hitherto, as if they
had been thick folds of drapery, completely shut out the sky and all
surrounding objects, were suddenly widely rent asunder, and high above
our heads appeared, like a mass of burnished gold lit up by the rays of
the fast rising sun, the lofty peak of Teneriffe towering in majesty
towards the blue sky, 12,000 feet above the ocean.

"As surely as there exists before us that grand mountain, so surely is
there a heaven," said the deep-toned voice of Mr Vernon.  "And, my
friends, ere it be too late, seek the only path by which that glorious
heaven can be gained, and eternal misery and self-reproach avoided."

Some listened and crowded round the clergyman, but the captain turned
aside, observing with a half sneer, "That's Teneriffe, there's no doubt
about that; and so I suppose we shall have to bring up at Santa Cruz to
get some fresh vegetables and fish for some of you good people."

He was evidently wishing just then to ingratiate himself with the
passengers, while, from the state of the ship, he knew that he would be
compelled to put into the nearest port to repair damages.

As we sailed along, one headland after another came into view, and then
we began to distinguish the varied and very bright colours of the
land,--reds, browns, and yellows of every degree.  While sheltered by
the coast we no longer felt the force of the wind, but glided calmly on
in comparative smooth water.  Again, however, the glorious peak, by the
intervening clouds which played wildly around it, was hid from sight,
and only the slopes of the town hills, the green valleys, or mountain
glens, coming down to the very water, could be seen.  By degrees,
however, the trees, and even the solitary Euphorbia bushes, could be
distinguished, and then a long, low, white line appeared, which our
telescopes divided into the houses, and churches, and towers of Santa
Cruz, the capital of the island.  Before long the _Orion_ was rolling
her sides in the glassy waters of the bay opposite the town.  Once upon
a time the island possessed a magnificent harbour--that of Garachico--
but it was filled up by a stream of red-hot lava which flowed into it
from an eruption of the mountain in 1705, and which committed much other
damage.  Glassy as was the surface, the rollers from the ever unquiet
ocean came slowly in, causing; the vessels at anchor to dip their sides
alternately in the water up to their bulwarks, and, as we stood on the
deck of the _Orion_, making it seem now and then as if the town, by a
violent convulsion of nature, had been suddenly submerged before our
very eyes.  This was not a place to remain in longer than could be
helped, and accordingly the captain directed Mr Henley, as the only
officer in whom he could confide, to go on shore and to bargain for the
necessary assistance we required to fit new spars and masts, and in
other respects to repair our damages.  Mr Henley, knowing how anxious I
was to go on shore at every place we visited, got leave for me to
accompany him.  Away we glided on the summit of the glassy roller
towards the mole, and as we passed by, active hands being ready to catch
the boat, we stepped out, and away went the watery mass broken into
sheets of foam along the sandy shore, making all the Spanish boats
hauled up on it bump and thump and grind together as if it would knock
them to pieces; but I suppose that they were accustomed to such
treatment, for no one interfered to place them in safer positions.

I was particularly struck on landing with the brilliant colours and
varied hues, not only of the sky and water, the earth and the buildings,
but of the dresses and very skins of the peasantry.  Every cake out of
my paint-box would have been required, I was sure, to give effect to the
scene.  Even the barefooted porters wore red scarfs round their waists,
while shawls and handkerchiefs of every tint adorned the heads and
shoulders of the women--hats, however, being worn generally by the older
dames.  Then there was the fine tawny colour of the persevering oxen who
dragged after them little sledges laden with casks and bales.  Camels
also we saw introduced from the not far off coast of Africa, patient as
ever, bearing heavy weights balanced on their hump backs.  Madeira was
hot, but we were much hotter now, as the basalt-paved streets and the
white glittering buildings sent back the burning rays of the almost
vertical sun.  Thus fired and scorched, we could not help gazing with a
somewhat envious glance into some of the Moorish-looking houses, not
unlike the model of the Alhambra or the Pompeian house at the Crystal
Palace, only not quite so fine as the former, with bananas growing in
the centre of their court-yards, and fountains throwing up cool jets of
water, and shady corridors and alcoves, the widespreading leaves of the
banana throwing a refreshing coolness around.  Having heard that Santa
Cruz was a very poor place, we were astonished to find it really a fine
city with handsome houses, spreading backwards a considerable distance
from the sea, with gardens and villas beyond, and outside all cactus
plantations and cultivated terraces rising up the slopes of the
mountains.  I was proceeding with Mr Henley in search of the consul,
who was to arrange matters about the ship, when I felt a hand placed on
my shoulder, and I heard a voice say--

"Halloa, old fellow!--Marsden! what wind has brought you here in that
rig?"

"A pretty stiff gale," I answered, looking up and recognising an old
school-fellow, Tom Lumsden, who, though older than Alfred, was a great
friend of his.

"Come along, then, and tell me all about it," said he.  "I have an uncle
settled here, and I have been sent out to learn business with him.  Come
and stay with us while your ship remains here.  He'll get you leave from
the captain.  You can spare him us?" he added, addressing Mr Henley,
who laughed, and said that he hoped I should always find friends
wherever I went.

Lumsden at once got his uncle to send off a note to the captain, who
replied in the most courteous way that I was welcome to remain as long
as the ship was there.

"Capital!" exclaimed Lumsden.  "We were on the point of starting up the
peak just for a pic-nic of three or four days.  The ship won't sail
before that time.  You shall go with us."

Of course I was delighted.  We were to start after an early dinner, and
in the interval Lumsden took me round the place to show me its lions.  I
can only venture to give a rapid and brief summary of what I saw and
heard.  The Canaries were known to the ancients, and were called the
fortunate or happy isles.  Their present name is derived from _Canis_--
dogs of a peculiar breed having been found in them.  The inhabitants
were a fine and brave race, of whom little is known except that they had
the custom of embalming their dead.  The Spaniards made several attempts
to take possession of the islands, but did not succeed in overcoming
their aboriginal inhabitants till about 1493, since which time the
latter have become completely amalgamated with the conquerors.

The group consists of seven islands of volcanic origin.  The principal
islands are Teneriffe and Grand-Canaria.  Teneriffe is sixty miles long
and thirty broad.  The peak, called also the Peak of Teyde, is about the
centre of a dormant volcano nearly 12,000 feet high.  Connected with it
are numerous mountain-ridges, out of which sulphuric vapours constantly
ascend, and another crater called Chahorra, close upon 10,000 feet high,
and to the west of it are several cones which were in a state of
eruption in 1798.  Surrounding the peak is a plain bordered by
mountain-ridges and covered with pumice stones, the only vegetable which
grows on it being the _retama_.  Indeed, only one-seventh of the whole
island is fit for cultivation, the rest being composed of lava and
ashes, or rocky heights and precipitous cliffs.  Still, many of the
portions which can be cultivated are of extraordinary fertility; and the
contrast is very great between the richly-cultivated plains and valleys,
and the leafy forests, with the barren, scorched, and burnt sides of the
peak and its surrounding heights.  I ought to have said that the houses
of Santa Cruz are of several stories, with the verandahs one above
another, looking into the interior courts, in which grow not only
bananas, but all sorts of tropical shrubs, and fruit, and flower-bearing
plants, in the most luxurious manner.

In speaking of Santa Cruz, I must not forget that it was here one of the
greatest of England's admirals, Nelson, lost his arm; and here alone he
failed of success among the numerous expeditions in which he was
engaged.  He commanded a squadron under Lord Saint Vincent, who
despatched him to take Santa Cruz, and to cut out a valuable Spanish
ship, _El Princesse d'Asturias_, from Manilla, bound to Cadiz, which it
was reported had put in there.  The first attempt to effect a landing
having failed, Nelson took command of the expedition.  The directions
were that all the boats should land at the mole, but the night was very
dark, and the greater number having missed it, were driven on shore
through the surf I have described, and stove, while the admiral, with
only four or five boats, found the mole.  This they stormed, though a
terrific fire was opened upon them; and Nelson, who was about to draw
his sword as he was stepping on shore, was struck by a musket-ball on
the right arm.  Had not his step-son, Lieutenant Nisbet, and one of his
bargemen, John Lovel, bound up his arm, he would in all probability have
bled to death.  Captain Troubridge having, in the meantime, succeeded in
collecting two or three hundred men on the beach, all who had escaped
being shot or drowned, marched to the square, and took possession of the
town.  He, of course, had to abandon all hopes of taking the citadel;
but, though eventually hemmed in by eight thousand Spaniards, he was
able, by threatening to burn the town, to make terms, and to retire with
his little band from the place.  In this disastrous affair, the English
lost, killed and wounded, two hundred and fifty men, and several
captains and other officers.  Blake, it may be remembered, in the time
of the Commonwealth had cut out from this same bay some rich Spanish
galleons, and it was hoped that Nelson would have been equally
successful in a like attempt.  The islanders do not bear us any ill will
in consequence, and I found a good many Englishmen living in the place.
Many of them are engaged in exporting Teneriffe wine, in days of yore
well known as Canary wine.

Talking of wine, the disease which has destroyed the vines of Madeira
has also committed great havoc here, but the people have been saved from
ruin by the discovery of a new article of export.  The cactus, that
thick-leaved, spiny plant used often in the south to form hedges, which
look as if the ground was growing a crop of double-edged saws,
flourishes in the most arid soil in Teneriffe.  The cactus had some time
before been introduced from Honduras with the cochineal insect, which
feeds on it, by a native gentleman; but his fellow-islanders turned up
their noses at the nasty little creature, and said that they would
rather produce wine as had been done for the last three hundred years or
more.  When, however, their vines sickened and died, too glad were they,
one and all, to have such for their support, and everybody, high and
low, took to planting cactus and breeding the cochineal.  The female
insect is in form like a bug, but white; the male turns into something
like a gnat, and soon dies.  The insects are shut up in boxes to lay
their eggs on bits of linen, which are pinned to the cactus plants by
one of their own thorns.  In six months after planting the cactus, the
harvest begins.  The insect, which has secreted a purple fluid, is swept
off the plant on to a board, and then baked to death in an oven.  This
constitutes the cochineal as imported.  A single acre of land planted
with cactus will produce from three hundred pounds to five hundred
pounds of cochineal, worth 75 pounds to the grower.

Teneriffe produces the dragon-tree--_Dracena draco_--which gives forth
in the form of gum a splendid scarlet, known of old as dragon's blood;
but as they take a century or more to grow into trees, and several
centuries before they attain any size, he would be a daring man who
would attempt their cultivation for the sake of profit.

In strong contrast to the luxurious habitations of the upper classes
were the abodes of many of the poorer orders.  When the now silent peak
sent forth streams of lava, it flowed down towards the sea, covering the
sandy shore, where, cooled by the water, it stopped short.  In many
places, in process of time, the sand has been washed away, leaving rows
of caverns, with flat lava roofs.  Numbers of poor people have taken up
their abode in these nature-formed recesses; and if they have no
windows, they have plenty of sea air, and pay no taxes.

I had an opportunity of seeing something of the fish of these regions.
A net, as we passed near the beach, was being drawn on to it.  There was
a shout, and a rush towards it.  A huge monster of a ray, with the
sharpest of stings, was seen floundering amid a number of other
creatures, the most numerous being hammer-headed dog-fish, which were
quickly knocked on the head to be turned into oil, while the ray
(_Pteroplatea Canariensis_) was set on by a host of enemies, and
speedily despatched.

Now, dinner being over, mounted on horses, Lumsden and I, with his uncle
and three other friends, trotted off along a not bad road, lately
constructed by the Government, for Orotava, a town standing high above
the sea, not far from the base of the peak.  The cross is the great
symbol, not only in Santa Cruz, but throughout the island; and in front
of nearly every house and on every height it is seen conspicuous.  We
slept that night at that very sedate town of Orotava.  We started at a
very early hour, having exchanged our horses for sure-footed, active
mules.  As we ascended, the botanical changes were remarkable.  The
gardens on either side of us were for some way filled with orange,
lemon, fig, and peach trees; 2000 feet higher, pear trees alone were to
be seen; and 2000 feet more, the lovely wild plants of the hypericum in
full bloom, with their pink leaves and rich yellow flowers, covered the
ground, and then a few heaths appeared, followed by English grasses.  We
were then high above the clouds, the whole country below our feet being
entirely shut out by them.  The region of the retama was at last gained,
7000 feet above the sea.  It is a peculiar broom found nowhere else but
in Teneriffe.  We stopped before this in a shady spot, where, among
heaths and ferns, a few laurels waved around, imparting coolness to the
air.  A flock of goats were driven past us, from which we abstracted an
ample supply of milk.  The only milk to be obtained in the island is
from goats, as the inhabitants never milk their cows.  Goats in great
numbers are kept, and are often eaten, while their skins supply their
owners with clothing or with roofs for their huts.  The two gentlemen
who accompanied us had some astronomical instruments with them; and when
the simple-minded people saw them looking in the evening at the moon,
they could not believe but that they were trying to discover if there
were any goats there to make it a fit abode for man.  Without goats they
could not conceive that any place could be habitable.  At length we
reached a spot where even goats could find no pasture.  Vegetation there
was none: the surface of the ground was composed of ashes of pumice,
with cascades of black stones, while far below us floated a vast level
plain of mist.  The heat was much greater than I expected to have found
it in so elevated a region.

"We shall soon arrive at a spot where we may be cool enough," observed
Lumsden, pointing to a little cross, which rose out of the lava.

We scrambled towards it, and on getting to the spot, found a hole about
four feet square.  A rope-ladder and ropes had been brought.  By their
means we descended about twenty feet, when we found ourselves in a large
cavern, with a pool of pure water at the bottom, and surrounded by
masses of snow--a curious and unexpected scene in that arid region of
lava and pumice stone.  Of course, the scientific gentlemen eagerly
discussed the reason why the water was there retained.  All agreed that
the snow--of which great quantities fall on the peak in winter--beat
into it at that time, and was thus preserved from the effect of the
sun's rays.  I think they concluded that the floor of the cavern may
have been formed by a sheet of lava, and that thus a natural basin was
created.  At the bottom of the water, however, we found a thick mass of
ice.  Even in this cool spot we discovered a jet of smoke or vapour
coming out from amidst a heap of stones not far from the entrance hole.
As we proceeded on our ascent, 11,600 feet above the sea, we came upon a
jet of steam, at a temperature of 100 degrees, coming out of crevices in
the rocks three inches in diameter, and known as the Narix of the Peak.
As it was condensed on the surrounding stones, it gave nourishment to a
small quantity of moss growing among them.  At last we reached the base
of the cone, and had to climb up about 470 feet; at first over loose
pumice, but soon coming to some red lava crags, the ascent was easy
enough.  Often we found the ground hot beneath our feet, while jets of
sulphurous vapour greeted our olfactory nerves in an unpleasant way.
Still on we climbed till we found ourselves on the very basin of the
culminating crater, but were almost driven back by the jets of steam and
sulphurous vapours which surrounded us.

"A mighty tall chimney to a huge fire burning down below somewhere,"
observed Lumsden.  "I have no wish to go down and try and sweep it, to
cure it of smoking, however."

The interior of the crater was judged to be about 300 feet in diameter
and 70 deep.  A remarkable feature was its extraordinary whiteness when
not covered with sulphur.  The surrounding wall was so narrow at the top
that there was scarcely standing room for two persons.  In many places,
however, it has given way, and crumbled down into the interior floor.
We walked about over the whole of the floor, searching for specimens of
sulphur, without the slightest fear of falling through the crust, and
slipping down the chimney, as Lumsden called it.  Again we were on our
descent.  I remember stopping to lunch in a grassy ravine, under the
shade of a superb laurel, by the side of a clear stream, amid a
profusion of green leaves and lovely wild-flowers, on some delicious
bananas, and other fruits, cold tea, and biscuits.

Never did I more enjoy an excursion; and then I had many a long talk
with Lumsden about old times, and especially about Alfred.  He entered--
as I knew he would--warmly into my projects and when we got back to
Santa Cruz, procured me several valuable letters both to the Cape, the
Mauritius, Ceylon, and many other places.

"I wish that I could go with you to assist in finding Alfred," he
exclaimed, as I was wishing him good-bye.  "I'll see what my uncle will
say.  Perhaps he may cut out some work for me in that direction; and if
so, depend upon me joining you sooner or later."

I have not mentioned Solon.  By Lumsden's advice I had left him in his
house, lest he might suffer from the heat to which we were exposed.  I
had a narrow escape from being left behind.  Scarcely had Solon and I
got on board by a shore boat, than a breeze coming off the land, the
_Orion's_ anchor was hove up, and we stood out of the bay of Santa Cruz.



CHAPTER FIVE.

SAIL AGAIN--THE TRADES--CRUELTY OF MASTER AND MATE--MUTTERINGS OF
MUTINY--A SUSPICIOUS SAIL--BOARDED BY PIRATES--HOW THEY TREATED US.

We had now got the steady north-east trade-wind, and away went the
_Orion_, at the rate of nine knots, through the water.  Fresh meat and
vegetables, with dry clothing and free ventilation, had contributed to
arrest the progress of the fever, and people were recovering their usual
spirits, forgetting, apparently, the trials they had gone through.  The
captain was at first very quiet, and scarcely spoke to any one; then he
grew sulky, and muttered threats and curses against any one who opposed
him; and very soon he broke into open violence, and, in conjunction with
Mr Grimes--with whom he had made up his quarrel, it seemed--began to
ill-treat the crew as before.  If any man did not do exactly what he
wanted, the captain would tear off his cap, seize his hair, and then,
kicking his legs, bring him down on the deck.  One day he knocked a poor
fellow down with a hand-spike, and thrashed him with a boat-stretcher;
and soon afterwards threw a marlin-spike at the head of another, and
wounded him severely in the ear.  It surprised me that the men did not
turn upon these tyrants.

"They know full well that if they did they would come off the worst,"
observed Mr Henley.  "It is not fear, but wisdom, keeps them obedient.
However, they may be over-tried, and then, as in numberless cases, they
will not fail to exact a bitter retribution."

He then told me of several instances on board merchantmen, and some few
on board men-of-war, where the crews, driven to desperation, had risen
against their officers, and either put them to death or turned them
adrift, and run off with the ship.  He, however, did not seem to dream
of any such thing taking place in our case.  I at the same time was much
struck with his remarks, and could not help keeping my ears and eyes
open to watch the proceedings of the crew.  From what I had seen of the
men, I considered that they were very likely some day to turn suddenly
on their persecutors.  Still, ill as the captain was behaving, I felt
that at all hazards he must be supported against the men.  Indeed, no
instance occurs to my memory in which a crew who have mutinied have made
even a sensible use of their success, and mostly they have come to
untimely and miserable ends.

We were standing to the southward, with the north-east trade well on our
port-quarter, the captain intending to keep close to the African coast,
instead of standing across to Rio de Janeiro, as is often done, and
keeping to the southward of the south-east trade-winds.  We sighted the
Cape de Verde Islands, which, eight in number, extend between 14 degrees
and 17 degrees of north latitude.  Ribeira Grande, on the island of
Santiago, is the capital, but Porto Praya, on the south coast, is the
chief harbour.  They belong to the Portuguese; but the greater number of
the inhabitants are either blacks or mulattoes.  The islands are all of
volcanic origin; and Fogo, one of them, contains a still active volcano.
They produce all sorts of tropical fruits, as well as asses, goats, and
poultry.  I did not regret being unable to touch at the Cape de Verdes.

Now, for the first time, I saw what is called the zodiacal light.  It
commenced below the horizon with a considerable breadth, and as luminous
as a moderate aurora, and extended upward in the direction of the star
Aldebaran, thus forming a triangle.  Mr Vernon explained to me the
supposed cause of this phenomena.  It is that the sun is surrounded by a
mass of nebulous matter, of which this light is but a manifestation.
Some philosophers have an idea that the matter has solid particles in
it, which, when they pass through the earth's atmosphere, produce
shooting stars, or are drawn towards it in the shape of meteoric stones.
It is seen always, it must be remembered, nearly in the elliptic, or
sun's path.  Now, too, my eyes gazed for the first time on the
magnificent constellation of the Southern Cross, which rose night after
night higher in the heavens.  Greater, also, grew the heat, till it was
impossible to sit, walk, or stand--indeed, to exist--without being in
rather an uncomfortable state of moisture.  I had expected to see more
living beings--birds and fish--than we had hitherto met with.  When the
ocean was rough, only the larger sorts--whales and dolphins, porpoises
and sharks--were likely to be distinguishable; and now in the calmer and
hotter latitudes the inhabitants of the deep seemed to eschew the
surface, and to keep to the cooler regions below.  Now and then,
however, as some of the sportsmen on board declared, we flushed a covey
of flying-fish, or rather, they rose out of the water to avoid their
enemy the bonito.  A hundred yards is said to be the utmost extent of
their flight; and that is a good flight, considering the weight of their
bodies and the size of their gauze-like wings.  They can also turn at an
angle; but they seldom rise more than a dozen or twenty feet above the
surface.  They thus frequently fall on the decks of vessels of no great
burden.  When getting up a bucket of water from alongside, I was often
interested in examining the variety of minute creatures which it
contained.  Among others, I found some beautiful specimens of swimming
crabs, with paddles instead of the usual sharp-pointed legs, by which
they propel themselves rapidly along.

Day after day, as we approached the line, our shadows grew less and
less, till at length those of gentlemen or ladies wearing wide-brimmed
hats were represented by circular discs on the deck, as the sun became
perfectly vertical.  The alarm and anxiety of the passengers seemed now
to have ceased.  The cabin passengers had their chairs up on the poop
deck, and sat talking, and working, and singing long after sunset,
enjoying the cool air and the magnificent display of stars which
spangled the dark sky.  The whole expanse below the Southern Cross down
to the horizon was covered with the glorious luminosity of the Milky
Way, their thousand times ten thousand worlds then glowing before us;
while in the direction of Orion was another rich assemblage of stars,
presenting one of the most glorious of spectacles, speaking loudly of
the eternal power and might of the great Creator.  As I gazed at that
innumerable multitude of worlds beyond worlds, all circling in their
proper orbits round one common centre, and thought that all might be
peopled with beings with minds perhaps far superior to the inhabitants
of our small globe, all engaged in praising and honouring Him who made
them all, I felt my own utter insignificance; and yet, at the same time,
my soul appeared to soar upward to a point far higher than it had ever
before reached, and got, as it were, a glimpse of the mighty scheme of
creation far more vivid and magnificent than I had ever before attained.
In a future world, I thought to myself, man will be able to comprehend
the wondrous mysteries of the universe, and the mists will be cleared
away which prevent him, while in his present mortal state, from
beholding all those unspeakable glories which he will fully comprehend
surely in a more spiritual state of existence.  The soul of man is made
to soar.  Its wings become helpless and weak, and without God's grace it
no longer has the desire to rise above the grovelling money-making
affairs of life; but, depend on it, those who would enjoy the purest
delights this world is capable of affording, must never lose an
opportunity of raising their thoughts to contemplate the mighty works of
the Lord of Heaven.  Sailors, of all men, have great advantages in that
respect; but how few comparatively benefit as they might by them!

The night after this, during my watch on deck, I went forward, and stood
some time gazing on the sky, lit up by the new constellations that were
gradually rising.  When tired from standing so long, I sat down on the
break of the forecastle.  After I had been there for some time, I heard
two or three men speaking in low voices below me.  As I was leaning
forward, they could not perceive me.  I hate the feeling of being an
eaves-dropper; but I could not help listening to what they said, and
soon felt that it was important to hear more.  Solon was at my feet, I
was afraid that their voices might arouse him.  Only fragments of what
they said reached my ears.  I could not, however, be mistaken as to the
meaning of their words.

"It might be done; and many's the like deed has been done ere now,"
observed one of the speakers, whom I suspected to be a fellow of the
name of Cobb, the greatest ruffian in the ship.

"And the passengers who won't join--what's to be done with them?"

The immediate answer I did not hear.  The first words which reached me
were--

"They'll do very well.  Some ship will take them off by-and-by."

Then another remarked--

"Drowning is too good for him.  Turn him adrift with a cask of brandy;
that's what he'd like best."

This last suggestion seemed to please all the speakers, for they laughed
heartily, but in a low tone, as if they knew that some were near in whom
they could not confide.  I had heard quite enough to convince me that a
plot was hatching among some of the men to run off with the ship; but it
was also important to ascertain when the precious scheme was to be put
into execution.  That point, though I listened eagerly, I could not
ascertain.  I was anxious that the men should not suspect that I
overheard them, which, if I moved, I was afraid they might do; so I sat
quiet, pretending to be asleep.  I considered what course I ought to
pursue.  Had Captain Gunnel been a different sort of man to what he was,
I should, of course, have at once informed him; but as his ill-conduct
had made the men think of the scheme I had heard them discuss, I felt
that it would be better to try and counteract it, without letting him
know anything about the matter.  I resolved, therefore, only to tell Mr
Henley and Mr Vernon, on whose discretion I knew that I could rely, and
let them consider what course to pursue.  The mutineers went on talking;
and from further words I occasionally caught, I discovered that the
conspiracy had existed for some time, and had spread much further than I
at first supposed.  At last, losing patience at having to sit so long, I
rose and went forward, as if about to look over the bows.  I had stood
there a minute, when I felt two hands grasping my shoulders.

"You've heard what we've been talking about," whispered Cobb--I was
certain it was him--in a deep, fierce tone.

"And if I have, what is that?"  I asked with an unfaltering voice.

"That dead men don't tell tales," answered the seaman in the same tone
of concentrated fierceness.

"It is folly for you to talk to me in that way," I answered.  "Though I
am young, I am not a child to be frightened by you.  You will get no
good by doing what you are talking of let me tell you that at all
events, and advise you to give up your notable scheme."

"Then you did overbear us," said the ruffian Cobb; "it won't do to trust
him."

Before I had time to open my mouth I found myself gagged, so that I
could not give the alarm, and I felt that the ruffians were about to
lift me up and heave me overboard.  At that moment an ally came to my
aid, on whom the mutineers had not reckoned.  The moment the fellows
laid violent hands on me, Solon, who had been standing unobserved under
the bowsprit, sprung on them, biting them right and left, and barking
loudly.  They sung out to each other to knock him on the head with a
handspike, but he avoided their blows, now leaping on one side, now on
the other, and with the greatest fury tearing at the legs of the men who
had hold of me, though the others, it seemed to me, he let alone.  The
moment, however, that one of them touched me, Solon made his teeth meet
in the calves of his legs.  I struggled as hard as I could to free
myself, but what could I do, a mere boy, in the hands of powerful and
desperate men.  Knowing that I must be aware of their plot, they seemed
bent on my destruction.  Already they had got me off my legs, close to
the bulwarks, and were about to heave me overboard; the gag slipped from
my mouth, and I shouted out hastily for help.  The mutineers, alarmed by
my cry, let me go, and aided by Solon, who had not ceased his furious
onslaught at their legs, I made a desperate leap off the topgallant
forecastle, and rushing aft, followed by my faithful ally, I gained the
poop.  Looking forward, I saw that several of the men were coming aft.
It was the third mate's watch on deck.  He had been asleep, I suspect,
or at all events pretended not to have heard my cry.  Happily, however,
it had reached the ears of Mr Henley, even in his berth, and so it had
of Johnny Spratt, forward, and of Mr Vernon, and several of the
gentlemen passengers, whom the heat of the weather prevented sleeping.
Mr Henley and several of the others had pistols in their hands.  Their
appearance awed the mutineers, who stopped a little abaft the main-mast,
while Solon stood on the break of the poop, barking furiously at them.

"What is the matter? who cried out, Marsden?" asked Mr Henley,
recognising me.

"I did, sir," I answered.  "To the best of my belief some of those men
there were about to throw me overboard, and would have done so if my dog
had not helped me to get away from them."

"Throw you overboard! nonsense," exclaimed Mr Waller; "what should they
want to do that for?"

"Because I overheard them proposing to turn the captain and some of the
officers adrift, land the passengers on a desolate coast, and then to
run off with the ship," I replied in a loud tone, so that the men might
hear me.

"A likely story enough.  It is perfectly ridiculous and improbable,"
exclaimed the third mate, vehemently; "you were dreaming, Marsden.  The
men finding you forward, I daresay as a joke, lifted you up to frighten
you, though probably they did not like your dog biting their legs."

The mutineers had come sufficiently aft to hear what was said.  Cobb,
who was the instigator--so it seemed to me--of the rest, sung out--

"Yes, sir, you're right.  It was only a joke.  Mr Marsden was
frightened, do ye see, and so we carried it on till his confounded dog
bit our legs, so that we were obliged to let him go."

This explanation appeared to relieve the minds of all on deck.  It
seemed so natural, and the seaman spoke in so calm a way, corroborating
so completely the suggestions of the third mate, that I felt I had then
but little chance of having my statement credited.

"All right, my men," said Mr Waller; "go forward, the youngster's cock
and bull story is not likely to be believed."

I said nothing, but I felt that it would be most important to persuade
Mr Henley that I had had all my senses about me and that we ought to be
on our guard against any treachery, as it was not likely that the men
would abandon their plans, if they thought that they were not suspected.
During all this time neither the captain nor first mate had come on
deck.  Once more the passengers retired to their cabins, and Mr Henley
went back to his.  I felt that it would be more prudent to pretend to
yield to the general opinion that my fancy had deceived me, and so I
resolved to walk the deck with Solon by my side till my watch was out.
I had a suspicion, however, of Mr Waller, from what he had said; and
also, though the men had not mentioned his name, they spoke of some one
on whom they could rely to navigate the ship for them.  Neither Sills,
nor Broom, nor the boatswain could do so, and except that there might be
some seaman who had concealed his calling among the passengers, I could
think of no one else to whom they could allude.  Solon was no more
pleased with this state of things than I was, and as he walked up and
down with me he kept a bright look out on every side, frequently peering
forward into the darkness and giving a low dissatisfied growl.

At length eight bells struck; the first mate, who had the middle watch,
was called, and as soon as he made his appearance, I went below.  Mr
Waller did not at once go to his cabin, so I forthwith went to Mr
Henley's.  I found him sitting up reading.  I told him briefly all that
had occurred, and assured him that I could not have been deceived.

"I believe you completely," he answered.  "We must be cautious.  We may
easily put the ruffians down, but I would avoid bloodshed.  Their plans
are not yet matured, so we have time to reflect on the matter.  Our
difficulty will be to warn the captain and first mate.  I doubt, indeed,
whether they will believe your statement.  However, we must take our own
measures according to circumstances."

Mr Henley said that he would not turn in, but would go on deck, and get
Spratt and some few of the other men in whom he had confidence, as well
as some of the passengers, to appear with him, and thus to make the
conspirators fancy that their plans were well known.  His measures had a
good effect, for Spratt told him that all the men had taken off their
clothes, and gone quietly to their berths, showing that they had no
thoughts of putting their scheme into execution that night.

"Forewarned, forearmed," observed Mr Henley; "it will be our own fault
if they overpower us."

Thus we continued on our course, no longer benefiting by the
trade-winds, but having frequently to encounter the light and baffling
breezes to be met with off the African coast, and now and then to
contend with the heavy black squalls of those regions, which more than
once carried away some of our spars and blew our lighter sails out of
the bolt ropes.  By keeping in with the African coast, we had a strong
current in our favour, which helped us along materially, at the same
time that we were exposed to the risk of a westerly gale, which might
send us helplessly on shore.  With careful navigation there would have
been little danger of this, but unhappily, with the exception of Mr
Henley, not one of the officers could be depended on.  Some of my
readers may be astonished at hearing of a ship sailing from the port of
London, towards the middle of the nineteenth century, being in the
condition in which I describe the _Orion_ but if they will look at the
newspapers they will see not once, but frequently, accounts of
circumstances occurring on board ships both from London and Liverpool,
and other parts, fully as bad as those of which I was a witness.

It surprised me often to see how calm and collected Mr Henley could
keep, knowing as he did the dangers with which we were surrounded.  He
was constantly observing the compass, and several times he got the chart
of the African coast, and examined it in his own cabin.  He told me also
one morning to tend the chronometer for him, while he made a set of
observations with the sextant to ascertain our exact longitude.  When he
had worked them out, his countenance assumed a graver aspect than I had
ever before seen it wear.

"We are far more to the eastward than we ought to be," he remarked.
"There are hereabouts strong currents setting on shore, and with the
light winds we may expect we are too likely to find ourselves hard and
fast on the African coast some night.  How it has happened, I don't
know, but depend on it there is some vile treachery concocting on board.
Those villains have not abandoned their designs, as I hoped they might
have done."

This appeared very evident, and we agreed to make every preparation in
our power for any emergency which might occur, and to try and induce Dr
Cuff, Mr Vernon, and two or three other gentlemen among the passengers,
to see the state of affairs in the light we did.  I have been unwilling
to sicken my readers with a repetition of the accounts of the captain
and chief mate's barbarity to the crew.  Not a day passed but what they
ill-treated one or more of them, and my surprise was, not that the men
should be plotting revenge, but that they had so long endured these
sufferings.

Mr Henley undertook first to speak to Dr Cuff.  The doctor, however,
made very light of his suspicions.

"Very careless steering, I have no doubt, and we have got closer to the
coast of Africa than may be altogether pleasant.  No wonder at that.
Then the lad dreamed he heard the sailors plotting mutiny--that is not
surprising; they are not attractive looking fellows.  Then it is not
unusual for a set of old salts to attempt to play off a trick on a young
midshipman who holds himself somewhat a cut above the common run.  No
fear.  All will come right at last; just do you keep the ship to the
westward for the present, and then get into Table Bay as fast as you
can.  We shall have to put our noble skipper into the sick-lists there,
or I am very much mistaken."

Such was the reply the doctor made to all Mr Henley told him.  His
opinion had great weight with all the other gentlemen, though Mr Vernon
did not altogether discredit my account.  The result, however, of the
affair was, that no especial steps were taken to counteract the schemes
of the mutineers, if such schemes were still entertained by them.  All
Mr Henley and I could do, therefore, was to keep a watchful eye on the
movements of the suspected men.

Two days after this we lay becalmed on the smooth shining ocean with all
our sails flapping against the masts, when just after daybreak a vessel
was made out to the eastward, and with a fair though light breeze
standing towards us.  As she drew near, carrying the wind along with
her, we made her out to be a large black brig, probably, from her
appearance, it was supposed, a man-of-war.  She was still at some
distance when the passengers came on deck to take their usual walk
before breakfast.  Of course she excited no small amount of interest,
and many opinions were passed as to her character, and to what nation
she belonged.  Whatever she was, it was pretty evident that she intended
to come and speak us.  I asked Spratt if he thought she was an English
man-of-war.

"Not she," was his answer.  "That spread of white canvas cloth is of
Brazilian cotton stuff.  To my mind she has a wicked, unsatisfactory
look I don't like.  There's no good about her, depend on that, Mr
Marsden."

I found, on going aft, that the captain and mates entertained the same
opinion of the stranger which Spratt had expressed.

"What can he want with us?" was the question asked by several.

"Perhaps only to know his longitude," observed the captain.  "By the cut
of his sails he looks like a slaver, and, from his size, he is not
likely to be one to knock under to any man-of-war's boats he might fall
in with."

"But suppose he should be a pirate," observed some one.

"A pirate!  Oh, there are no pirates now-a-days who would dare to attack
a big ship like this," answered the captain, laughing.  "In the Indian
seas or the China coast there are fellows who would come on board and
cut our throats if they could catch us all asleep; but such a thing
never happens about here now."

"I am not quite so sure of that, sir," remarked Mr Henley.  "I was not
long ago on this coast, and I heard of several piratical vessels which
did not always let even English merchantmen go free, though the British
blockading squadron has made their game rather a hazardous one."

On came the stranger.  We now could make out that she had at least four
ports on each side, with some heavy guns looking out at them; but she
showed no colours from which we might ascertain her nation.  We expected
that, as she brought up the breeze, we should feel it also; but as she
approached us it seemed to die away, till she lay becalmed about half a
mile from us.  That she had hostile intentions regarding us was soon
evident.  Three boats were lowered from her sides, and we saw numbers of
men crowding into them.

"They intend to attack us!" exclaimed the captain, now almost too late
beginning to wonder what steps he should take for the defence of his
ship.

We had only two guns--six-pounders--intended more for firing signals
than for defence; but there was an arm-chest, with a couple of dozen
muskets and some pistols and cutlasses, and a small amount of
ammunition.

The captain, having opened the chest, was about to distribute the arms
generally among the crew.  "Stay, sir," exclaimed Mr Henley; "there are
some of the men cannot be trusted with arms.  Let them be given to the
cabin passengers and officers, and to three or four of the men I will
call aft.  Let them serve the guns, but don't trust them with other
firearms.  They may be pointing them aft, depend on that, sir."

"What are you talking about, Mr Henley?--the crew not to be trusted?
We'll soon see what they dare to do when we've settled with these
slaving fellows."

"It's a fancy, sir, Mr Henley has taken into his head in consequence of
a cock and bull story of young Marsden's," put in Mr Waller.  "If we
are not sharp about it, the boats will be alongside before the arms are
served out."

Without waiting for the captain's answer, and before Mr Henley could
interfere, he handed both muskets and pistols to Cobb and Clink, another
of the men who had tried to heave me overboard.  Mr Henley, seeing
this, as quickly as he could, aided by me, served out the arms to the
passengers and to those of the crew he fancied he could trust.  The
captain, however, had the sense to follow his advice, and to give only
three rounds of ammunition to each man.  When this was done, I had time
to look towards the approaching boats.  They were filled full of fellows
armed to the teeth, and dressed in every variety of costume.  Some of
them were whites, but many were mulattoes and blacks.  There could not
be a shadow of doubt as to their intentions being hostile, though it was
doubtful how far they might venture to proceed, when they saw us in a
way prepared to receive them.  Some of the passengers were very full of
fight; others I saw skulking below, either not liking the look of
things, or going to secure about their persons any articles of value
they might possess.  Some of the seamen handled their muskets as if they
were prepared to use them; but others, especially two or three who had
been lately ill-used by the captain and first mate, threw their weapons
down on the deck, and, folding their arms, declared that they would see
the ship sink before they would use them.  The captain swore at and
abused them most vehemently; but they listened to him with perfect
unconcern, while Cobb, and Clink, and their companions, backed them up
in their mutinous conduct.  Our imperfect preparations, such as they
were, had hardly been completed, when the pirate's boats dashed
alongside.

"Don't fire till I give the order!" shouted the captain; but he did not
speak in time, and several of the passengers and crew discharged their
muskets at the boats.  No one was hit that I could see, and the pirates
shouted and shrieked in return as they began to scramble up the sides.
They were bravely opposed aft, and pistols were fired in their faces,
and pikes plunged at them, so that numbers were hurled back into their
boats; but, to my dismay, I saw a band of them beginning to clamber up
about the forechains, where Cobb and his associates had posted
themselves.  I shouted to the seamen to drive them back, but instead of
doing so, they only laughed, and, putting out their hands, welcomed the
strangers on board.  Mr Henley had been so busily engaged in defending
the after-part of the ship, that he did not see what was occurring.  I
shouted to him to call his attention to the circumstance.  He instantly,
collecting around him all the men who were disengaged, made a rush at
the pirates; but so many had gained a footing, that the rest had no
difficulty in clambering up, and, notwithstanding his desperate
onslaught, he could make no impression on them, but was compelled to
retire with a wound in his sword arm, several of the rest being also
much hurt.  I was by his side, using a cutlass to some effect.  I had
learned the broadsword exercise at school, and was considered a
first-rate hand at single-stick.  It gave me a wonderful confidence in
the _melee_, which I should not otherwise have felt.  A shot, however
grazed my arm.  At that instant a big mulatto made towards me.  The pain
I felt caused me to drop my arm for an instant, and my antagonist would
certainly have cut me down, had not my faithful Solon, who had been
keeping at my heels, rushed in, and, with his usual tactics, bit the
mulatto's legs so severely, that he had to try and drive off his new
opponent.  I sprang back, and Solon, seeing that I was safe, beat his
retreat before the fellow had time to strike him.  Tyrannical and cruel
as the captain and first mate were, they proved themselves very far from
being brave in the hour of danger.  The pirates, having made good their
footing on board, took entire possession of the forecastle; and when the
captain saw this, he declared that there was no further use in resisting
I felt that even then, had we made a bold rush forward, they might have
been driven overboard; but, instead, taking out a white flag from the
locker, he waved it above his head, and shouted out to the pirates, to
ask them if they would come to terms.

"You are a sensible man, Senhor Capitan," answered one of them in
return, in very fair English.  "If you had not made any resistance at
all, you would have saved a great deal of trouble and some hard knocks.
We see that you are a passenger ship, and not laden with Manchester or
Birmingham goods, as we hoped.  We don't want to harm you, but we must
be paid for our hot pull and the fighting you have given us.  Here,
Antonio, let the captain have a list of the stores we require, and the
provisions and some water.  You see your cruisers have driven us off the
coast, and we are rather in want of such things.  And then, let me see--
we have been put to a good deal of expense--we shall require some eight
or ten dollars a-head from the passengers and crew.  That will not be
much.  We should have asked ten times the sum had you been going home;
but we wish to be moderate in our demands."

Thus the pirate captain ran on.  Whether he was an Englishman or an
American I could not make out; but he was either one or the other.
Captain Gunnell stood astounded.  He began to consider whether it was
still too late to resist; but on glancing towards the brig, he saw that
she had her sweeps out, and was gradually creeping up towards us, to
strengthen with her broadside the arguments which might be employed to
induce us to comply with the requests just made to us.  When he saw
this, our captain stamped with rage.

"You have got the better of us," he exclaimed.  "But look out.  Some of
the men-of-war in these seas may catch hold of you, and they are not
likely to let you go without punishment for this day's work."

"Not the first time I have got the better of you, Captain Gunnell,"
answered the stranger, laughing.  "And as for your men-of-war, my brig
can show a faster pair of heels than any of them.  However, we are only
indulging in child's play talking thus.  We'll proceed to business, if
you please."

The two guns I spoke of were forward.  Hauling them inboard, the pirates
turned them aft; and while one party had charge of them, another was
stationed on the topgallant forecastle, and the rest, headed by their
captain, advanced aft, compelling, as he did so, all the seamen and
passengers he met to give up their arms.  The best way I can express our
sensations is to say that we all felt very small; at least I did, I
know.  The pirates set about the business in such a quiet,
matter-of-fact sort of way, that I cannot say I was in any way alarmed
as to the result of the affair.  Having disarmed everybody fore and aft,
the pirates proceeded to get what they wanted.  The mate--at least, so I
supposed the man called Antonio to be--pulled out a huge pocket-book,
and in the most systematic way wrote down what was wanted,--so many
casks of biscuit, so many of flour, so many of beef, and so on.  He even
insisted on having tea and sugar.  Then he came to paint and oil, and so
many fathoms of rope, and so much canvas; indeed, it was very clear that
they would not be content without a complete new outfit for their brig.
More than once Captain Gunnell showed signs of becoming restive, and
vowed that he would give no more, when with the blandest smile the
captain pointed to the guns of his black-looking craft, and intimated
that in that case he should be compelled to call her alongside, when,
perhaps, some of his comrades might not be so leniently disposed as he
was.  As soon as the boats were loaded they shoved off, and very quickly
returned for a fresh cargo.  At last all Antonio's demands were
satisfied.

"I will give you an acknowledgment for all the supplies with which you
have been good enough to furnish me," said the captain, turning to
Captain Gunnell; "nay, you must not refuse me--we always do that.  My
owners will repay you when you call on them; and now, by-the-by--the
dollars--we must not forget them."

The bystanders looked very blue; they fancied that the polite captain
would not press that point.  In spite of his politeness, however, there
was a grim, determined look about him which showed that he was a man not
accustomed to be trifled with where his interests were concerned.  He
pulled out a gold watch set with jewels from his waistcoat--

"Come, gentlemen, I can but give you ten minutes," he observed, quietly.
"The dollars must be forthcoming or their equivalent--two sovereigns
a-piece for every man, woman, and child on board.  The rich must pay for
the poor; but I know well there are very few on board who cannot afford
to pay that trifle.  I am letting you off cheap--you ought to be
grateful.  Antonio, rouse up everybody from below, and make them come
round and pay their mite into our coffers; be smart about it, lad: the
time is up, and we ought to be parting company with these good people."

Saying this, the pirate captain stationed himself just below the poop,
and he insisted on everybody on board passing in review before him, and
as they did so, dropping into his hat either eight dollars or a couple
of sovereigns.  When anybody appeared without the required coins he sent
them back, and would allow no one else to pass till the money was
forthcoming.  At first, when any one appeared without the money he took
it very quietly, but the second time he spoke very angrily, and the
third time stamped and swore with rage, threatening to throw overboard
any who had not the required sum.  This made their friends very quickly
find it, and, consequently, after this there was very little delay.  At
length came Cobb and Clink, and the rest of the men who had joined them
in their conspiracy.  I saw Cobb wink to the captain.

"You'll not make us pay, at all events," he said, in a low voice, which
he thought would not be heard.  "We helped you aboard, and if you've
berths for us, we shouldn't mind joining you, do ye see."

"You scoundrels," answered the pirate captain, "pay that you shall, and
double too.  You betrayed your own shipmates, and do you think that I
would trust you and such as you?  No; my fellows would cut a man's
throat without ceremony, but they are faithful to each other."

He spoke loud enough for all to hear him, "We have to supply our
necessities now and then, but we don't go and harm our fellow-creatures,
if we can help it.  But quick, quick, you fellows, hand out your four
sovereigns or your sixteen dollars."

The mutineers at first thought that he was joking with them, but he very
quickly showed that he was in earnest, and suddenly clapping a pistol to
Cobb's head, he told him that if he did not instantly pay the sum he
would be a dead man.  Cobb's countenance fell; but fumbling in his
pocket, he produced the four sovereigns which had been demanded, while
the pirate captain allowed the other men to pass by paying the usual
sum.  As the money was collected he turned it into bags, which he handed
to Antonio and two or three other men, who formed a sort of body-guard
behind him.

"Now, gentlemen and ladies, I wish you a good morning and a prosperous
voyage," he said, making a polite bow to all around, and going down the
side--his retreat being covered by a body of armed men--he stepped with
the treasure he had collected into one of his boats and pulled on board
his brig.

She once more got out her sweeps, and slowly glided away towards the
African coast.  We watched her with no very friendly feelings till night
at length hid her from our sight.



CHAPTER SIX.

SIGHT OF LAND NOT ALWAYS PLEASANT--A SUSPICIOUS CHARACTER ON BOARD--A
DANGEROUS PREDICAMENT--HOW WE MADE OUR ESCAPE FROM IT--THE CAPE OF GOOD
HOPE--LAND AT CAPE TOWN.

The blue outline of the distant land, speaking of home and all its
endearments and comforts, is welcomed joyfully by the weary seaman after
a long voyage; but with a very different feeling does he view it when it
appears where he does not expect to see it, and when he would rather be
many miles away from it.  It was in the latter way that we received the
cry of "Land ho!" on board the _Orion_, when one morning it was shouted
by the look-out from the mast-head.

"Where away?" asked Mr Henley, who was the mate of the watch.

"Right a-head, and a little on the starboard bow, sir," was the answer.

"I have thought so before," he whispered to me; "our compasses have been
tampered with.  There exists some vile conspiracy on board to cast the
ship away--of that there can be no doubt.  We must keep our counsel,
however, this time, Marsden, and try and counteract it by ourselves."

I assured him that I would gladly support him in any plan he might have
to suggest.  Things had been going on much as usual since our encounter
with the pirate.  The captain at first talked of going in search of a
man-of-war; but he abandoned that idea, and we continued our voyage, he
drinking as hard as usual, and often continuing in his cabin for three
or four days together, the passengers being informed that he had a bad
headache or a bilious attack.  The first mate was almost as bad; and if
he was not so often tipsy, the reason was that he had a stronger head
and could take more liquor with impunity.  The attack of the pirate on
us had been the subject of conversation for many a day.  Those who knew
the coast of Africa best, said that there were many such vessels fitted
out as slavers under the Brazilian, Spanish, Portuguese, and sometimes
United States flags.  If a favourable opportunity offered, they would
take a cargo of slaves in on the coast, and make the best of their way
to Cuba or the Brazils.  If not, they would attack a slaver, take out
all her slaves, and paying her with manufactured goods, would send her
back to take in a fresh supply, and, of course, to run the chance of
being captured.  As, however, manufactured goods were not always to be
procured, such fellows would not scruple to attack an outward-bound
merchantman, and having taken out of her what they required, let her go
free, pretty certain that she would not have the means of lodging a
complaint against them on board a man-of-war till they were far beyond
reach.  Such was, undoubtedly, the character of our polite friend.  It
occurred to me that possibly Cobb and his friends might have secretly
communicated with the pirate, and that the indignation of the latter was
only pretended, while they had between them arranged where to cast the
ship away.

"No, no," answered Mr Henley; "they are both villains, but of a
different stamp.  The low, brutal Englishman and the keen, cunning
Yankee have few feelings in common.  The latter looks upon all the world
as his prey; the former commits an atrocity for the sake of some
especial revenge, or to attain some particular object of sensual
gratification.  We have only traitors on board to guard against, of that
I am certain."

"What do you propose to do, then?"  I asked.

"Put the ship's head off shore, and try and get a good offing," he
answered.  "But go aloft, and see what you can make out of the land."

I gladly obeyed, and went to the fore-topgallant mast-head.  There I saw
clearly to the east and south-east of us a long blue irregular line,
which I took to be highland with a mountainous range beyond.  Having
arranged in my mind in what words I should make my report, so as best to
make Mr Henley understand what I had seen, I descended on deck.  I have
always found it very useful to settle on the spot exactly the terms I
would use to describe an object, so as to give those to whom I have had
to report the clearest view of it.

"I suspect that there is some extent of lowland between us and the
mountains you have seen," observed Mr Henley.  "Report the facts to the
captain, and say that I am about to haul the ship up to the south-west."

I heard Mr Henley issue the order to brace up the yards as I was about
to enter the captain's cabin.  I could scarcely make him comprehend what
had occurred.

"Make it so.  Tell the second mate to do what he thinks best," he
answered, and then turned round and went off into a deep slumber again.

I told Mr Henley.  "That is well; I will take him at his word," he
observed.  "We will now have a look at the compass."

Fortunately Johnny Spratt was at the helm.  He took off the top of the
binnacle, and examined it carefully in every direction.

"I thought so," he exclaimed at last, unscrewing a piece of steel which
had been secured to the west of the northern points, giving it a strong
westerly variation.

Thus, when the man at the helm, unconscious of the trick, fancied that
he was steering to the south, he was in reality steering east or
south-east.  The second mate having removed the steel, charged Spratt to
say nothing about the matter.  When breakfast was over, I saw Cobb come
on deck and look up at the sails.  Then he strolled carelessly aft to
the compass, and in another minute he, with the same assumed look of
indifference, ascended the fore-rigging.  He was some time aloft, and
when he came down he again went below to his companions.  Our
difficulties were much increased by our not being able to trust Waller,
or indeed Sills and Broom.  Sills, I believe, wished to be honest, but
he had no discretion.  Broom, I feared, was an ill-disposed fellow,
without even a knowledge of what was right and wrong.  I have met many
such persons possessed of a perfect moral blindness, who do all sorts of
wicked things, without in the slightest degree making their consciences
uncomfortable, or fancying that they are doing any harm.  Mr Henley
again spoke to Dr Cuff, and was this time more successful in persuading
him that there was something wrong going forward on board.  The
plotters, however, knowing that we suspected them, were on their guard,
and committed no acts to betray themselves.

Soon after our discovery that the compass had been tampered with, it
fell a dead calm.  It continued all night and the following day.  Mr
Henley and I never left the deck together all the time.  One or the
other of us was always on the watch.  At length, after sunset on the
second day, he told me to turn in.  I did so, for I was nearly tired
out.  I had been asleep some time, when I felt some one touch my
hammock.

"Hist, sir," whispered a voice close to my ear; "don't speak,
please--'tis only me, Tommy Bigg.  They are going to do it this very
night--I've heard all about it, and I thought I'd come and tell you
first.  There's some use in being little, for I was stowed away in a
corner where they didn't think a human being could have got."

"What is it, Tommy?"  I asked, in a low voice.

I thought all the time he had been speaking that I had been dreaming,
and could not believe that the reality of what I had so long apprehended
had arrived.

"They intend just at eight bells, in the middle watch, to seize the
captain and all the officers, and those of the crew who won't join them,
and to turn them adrift in the long boat.  Then they propose to run into
the coast, which they say is close aboard of us, land all the
passengers, and then make sail for America, or round Cape Horn for the
Pacific.  At first there was a doubt about their having provisions
enough, from the pirates having taken so much from us; but then they
agreed that as they had been robbed, they might rob others in the same
way--they needn't be afraid about that matter."

I had so long expected an announcement of this sort in one form or
other, that I was not surprised at what little Tommy told me.  His lucid
and brief statement showed me that he was a sharp, clever lad, and might
be relied on.  I told him to go back quietly to his berth, and if he
could gain any further information, to try and let Mr Henley or me
know.  I immediately dressed, and, followed by Solon, who jumped up as
soon as he saw me afoot, went on deck.  I found Mr Henley standing near
the binnacle.  It was a star-lit night.  He was noting the bearing of
the stars by the compass.

"Ah, is that you, Marsden?" he said carelessly.  "You cannot sleep with
this hot weather, nor can I--that is not surprising.  What is strange,
however, is that our compasses are still in error--a wonderful
variation."

Taking another observation, he stepped forward with me to the break of
the poop, whence we had a clear view of the deck below us, and could be
certain that no one overheard what we said.  I then informed him briefly
of what Tommy Bigg had told me, and asked what was to be done.

"I must consider," he answered.  "We must take care, in the first place,
that the mutineers do not observe our movements.  Do you wait a few
minutes, and then quietly slip below, and let the doctor and Mr Vernon
know, and tell them to be prepared."  He mentioned also four or five of
the cabin passengers.  "I will wait till just before the time to call
the first mate.  He would only bluster now, and betray all our plans.
As to Waller, I doubt the fellow.  If we could show him that he was
running his head into a halter, he would side with us.  If you can get
hold of Tommy Bigg again, let him tell Spratt that I want him, quietly.
The doctor will do best to rouse all the second-class passengers who can
be trusted.  There are four or five among them who would do anything
rather than work for an honest livelihood; but we shall not have much
difficulty in keeping them down, unless, as I suspect, there is some
seaman, a desperate character, among them, who is the real instigator of
this long meditated plot."

I asked him who he thought the man could be, for I had watched narrowly
since he had before suggested the idea to me, and could fix on no one as
at all likely to be the man.  He, to my surprise, mentioned a quiet,
middle-aged looking man, dressed in a brown coat and wide-awake hat, who
wore large green spectacles, and announced himself to be a shoemaker--
Barwell he called himself.

"He is a seaman, of that I am very certain," observed Mr Henley.  "And
I am almost equally so that he never made a pair of shoes in his life.
Why he conceals his calling, I do not know.  Perhaps he has committed
some crime afloat or ashore, and is escaping from justice.  I have
observed him more than once in close conversation with Cobb, and for
some time he seldom lost an opportunity of speaking to Waller whenever
he went forward, though he himself has never ventured aft.  He evidently
has had a good education, and is a plausible, long-tongued fellow, well
able to influence men of inferior station."

From what Mr Henley said, I saw the man Barwell in a new light, and
quickly recalled to my mind several circumstances connected with him
which I had before forgotten.  As it was still some time to midnight, we
were in no hurry to arouse our friends, but at length having arranged
our plans, I went below to perform the part I had undertaken.  As I was
leaving the deck I patted Solon on the head, and made him understand
that he was to keep watch on the poop till my return.  I was very
certain that I should hear his bark if anything unusual took place.

Mr Vernon was not much surprised nor alarmed with the information I
gave him.  "I cannot fancy that such a scheme as these wretched men have
concocted has a chance of success," he observed calmly.  "Forewarned, as
we providentially have been, we can easily counteract their plans."

The other gentlemen I summoned did not take things quite so coolly.
They all dressed immediately, and examined their pistols, which they put
in their pockets.  They then declared themselves ready to obey the
second mate's orders.  I therefore went to report this to him.  I found
that he had collected a quantity of small rope, as also some of the arms
which the captain had so injudiciously distributed to the crew.  I asked
him for what purpose he had got the rope.

"To steal a march on the mutineers, to seize their ringleaders, and to
lash them down in their berths," he answered.  His plan was generally
approved of.  We had now altogether twelve or fourteen persons prepared
for the expected emergency.  It wag important to communicate with
Spratt, to collect the men forward who could be trusted.  I volunteered
immediately to do this.  I knew that there was considerable risk, for I
had already had an example of the way Cobb and his associates would
treat me if they suspected my object.  Galling Solon, however, I went
forward.  The watch were standing, with their hands in their pockets, on
the topgallant forecastle.

"Keep a bright look out, my lads," said I.  "We are not far off the
land, and it won't do to run the ship ashore."

I wanted to ascertain who the men were, but none of them spoke I felt
pretty sure that one of them was Cobb.  Presently I saw Mr Barwell come
up the fore-hatchway.  I knew him by his dress and figure.

"A fine night, Mr Barwell," said I, as he stepped up on the topgallant
forecastle.  "It's a sort of night you landsmen don't often meet with, I
suspect."

"Not often, youngster," he answered.  "But one might suppose, from the
way you talk, that you had been all your life afloat."

"No, it's my first voyage, like yours, Mr Barwell; only, as you see, I
have taken kindly to the life; now, you probably would never become a
better seaman than you are now," I could not help replying.  "However,
if you have a fancy to learn, I will teach you to knot and splice, and
show you all I know myself."

"Thank you, but I am contented to know how to make shoes," he drawled
out, in quite a different tone to that in which he had before spoken.  I
was convinced that Mr Henley was right.

"Mend shoes!  I wouldn't wish for a better man at the weather earing
when reefing topsails in a gale of wind--that is to say, if you were but
a seaman," I observed, laughing, as I turned to go aft.

He started, and my remarks evidently puzzled him not a little, as I
intended they should.  As I was just abaft the main-mast, I heard my
name called, and looking under the booms, I discovered Tommy Bigg.

"Just step this way, sir, in case I should be seen," he whispered.  "I
have heard more of their plans.  They are going to shut up Spratt and
the rest who won't side with them in the fore-peak, and then hurry aft
and seize the arms, lock the cabin-doors, and lash the officers down in
their berths.  They have divided themselves into three parties, and they
think that the whole work can be done in a couple of minutes or so.  If
any resist on deck, they vow that they'll knock them overboard.  They'll
not commit murder if they can help it, they say, but they'll not stand
on ceremony about the matter."

"Very well done, Tommy," I replied.  "Get forward as quietly as you can,
and tell Spratt I want him and any true men he can bring; and, if
possible, not to let Cobb and the rest know that they have come aft.  If
they slip out one by one, they can manage it.  Do you then, Tommy, join
us, unless you find that you can stow yourself away safely forward."

"If you'll let me, sir, I'll do what seems best," answered Tommy.
"Maybe by stopping I may help you more than by being with you."

I told Tommy to do as he judged best, and returning to the poop, resumed
my usual walk.  The night was very dark.  The conspirators reckoned on
this to assist them, but it was of more use to us, as it enabled us to
move about and arrange our counter-plot without their discovering us.

Six bells struck.  In the merchant service the bell is generally struck
only every hour.  All our plans were arranged.  As the time approached I
joined Mr Henley.  We were all well armed.  I found Spratt and some
other men had managed to come abaft, unperceived by the mutineers.  Just
under the break of the poop there was an empty cabin.  Some of our party
were concealed in it with lanterns.  Others the doctor had stowed away
in his dispensary, close to which the mutineers must pass on their way
aft.  I, with a third party, under Mr Henley's command, were concealed
in a cabin close to the arm-chest.  We expected here to have the most
desperate resistance.  All was ready.

Eight bells struck.  I had a loop-hole to look out forward.  I could
just distinguish the dark forms of the men, as, without their shoes,
they hurried aft.  Their plans were well arranged.  At the same moment
that one party rushed past the doctor's dispensary to secure the mates,
and another to overpower the cabin passengers, and the third to break
open the arm-chest, we all sprang out upon them.  Cobb and Clink
struggled desperately, but Mr Henley and those with us soon had them
under.  Mr Vernon showed that he could fight as well as preach, and not
one of the men about to enter the cabin escaped, while the doctor
secured most of those below.  Two or three, however, in the scuffle with
us managed to escape forward before we had time to get our lanterns
lighted, and so furiously did the others resist, that we were unable to
spare any of our hands to follow them; we had not also discovered who
they were.  We had ropes ready, and so we lashed all the fellows' arms
and legs, and made them fast to the ring bolts in the deck, where they
lay without power to move.  Never was success so complete; no one was
hurt; not a pistol had been fired.  The captain was not in a condition
to understand what had occurred, but Mr Grimes, hearing the scuffle,
rushed out of his cabin; he, however, stood irresolute, not knowing
whether friends or foes had the upper hand; and very much astonished was
he when he was told what had occurred.  He did not receive the
information very graciously, and grumbled at not having been aroused
before.  Mr Henley and I, with a strong party, meantime, holding
lanterns in our hands, commenced a search round the between-decks and
forward, to try and discover the people who had escaped from us.  The
second-class passengers were all in their berths, and many of them
asleep.  Mr Barwell was in his, and snoring loudly--so loudly, that I
could not help fancying it was feigned.  Mr Henley threw the light of
the lantern in his face, and shook him by the shoulder.  I expected to
find that he was dressed, but if he had been among the mutineers, he had
had time to take off his clothes.

"What's the matter? who wants me?" he exclaimed, in a husky voice.

"Up, up, sir," answered Mr Henley.  "There's mutiny on board, and we
want you to help us."

"Mutiny! who's going to mutiny?" he said, rubbing his eyes.  "I'll be up
soon and help you, of course."

I could not tell what Mr Henley thought about this reply.  We met three
or four people coming aft, who seemed very much astonished at hearing
what had occurred, while all the suspected men whom we had not secured
were in their berths.  Our difficulty was to secure those we had
captured, to guard against their being liberated.  We had a dozen pair
of irons on board, which we clapped on those most likely to prove
refractory, and so there was little chance of their escaping.  The third
mate came out of his cabin soon after eight bells, as he was to have had
the morning watch, but by that time all the mutineers were secured.  The
remainder of the night passed slowly away.  It was a time of great
anxiety.  When the morning broke we looked eagerly towards the east.
There was the land not eight miles off--a rocky shore with a sandy
beach--trees in the foreground, and then ridges of hills rising into
mountains in the distance.  There was not a breath of wind.  The sea on
every side was like a polished mirror; but every now and then it seemed
to heave up as if a pulse beat beneath, and away towards the shore
progressed at a slow pace--not like a roller, but one swell rising at an
interval after the first had fallen, and I could well fancy with what a
roar it must be dashing on the rocky coast.  The first mate, as he
looked towards the shore, ordered the lead to be hove, but no bottom was
found.

"I doubt if there is any holding-ground till close in-shore," observed
Mr Henley.  "I pray that we may find a breeze to carry us away from it
before we get much nearer."

"More likely to have one to drive us on to it," answered the first mate,
in a gloomy tone.  "How we managed to get here, I can't tell."

"We have now to consider how we may best secure an offing," remarked Mr
Henley.  "We could do little at towing, even if we had all hands at
work; but with more than half the crew in irons--No, Mr Grimes; we must
trust in Providence, for vain is the help of man."

The first mate uttered some sneering expression; but still he could not
help acknowledging that the latter part of the remark was true.  As I
looked over the side, I could see the circling eddies of a current which
was evidently setting in at a rapid rate towards the shore.  Nearer and
nearer we got.  There were reefs laid down in the chart as running a
long way off the coast, and we could not tell at what moment we might be
driven on them.  As I watched I found that we were being swept, not
directly towards the shore, but to the southward and eastward, so that,
though the current was strong, our progress towards destruction was
slow, though not the less sure.  Our position was already painful and
dangerous enough, with a drunken, half-mad master, a mutinous crew, many
of the passengers ready for any mischief, several of the officers worse
than useless, and on a dangerous, little known coast.

The cabin passengers and the most trustworthy of the second-class ones
formed themselves into a guard, and kept regular watch over the
prisoners, so as to prevent any attempt which might be made to rescue
them.  Hour after hour passed away, leaving us still in a state of great
suspense and anxiety.  Evening approached--the calm continued.  Darkness
at length descended once more over the waters, and, though it concealed,
much increased our danger.  We could feel, too, by the increased motion
of the ship, that although the calm continued, the form of the
undulations had changed, and that heavy rollers were now moving under us
towards the shore.  Still the water was far too deep to allow us to
anchor with the slightest hope of our anchors holding.  I asked Mr
Henley what he thought of the state of things.

"Why, Marsden, that I have never been in so dangerous a position in all
my life," he answered; "and to this condition we have been brought by
the folly and wickedness of one man.  Had he done his duty, nothing of
this sort would have occurred.  However, it is too late now to complain.
Let us, at all events, try to do ours.  Oh, that we had but a breath of
wind, to get steerage way on the ship!"

As helpless as a mere log floated on our gallant ship, her head slowly
pointing round to all the points of the compass.  How anxiously did
every one look out for the sign of a coming breeze!  As to turning in,
no one who had the sense to comprehend the condition of the ship thought
of doing so.  Sills and Broom came up, and inquiring what I thought of
the state of affairs, bitterly regretted their folly in coming to sea,
and asked me if I was not very sorry at having left home.

"No, far from it," I answered.  "I had an important object to gain, and
I knew that it could not be obtained without encountering many dangers
and difficulties.  This is one of them; but I do not despair of
escaping, though at present I do not see the way we shall do so."

"Ah, I am glad to hear you say that, Marsden," said Sills.  "It's a
comfort, isn't it, Broom, to find that anybody thinks we shall escape?"

"If his opinion was worth much, it would be," growled out Broom.  "For
my part, I have no great faith in what anybody says."

I answered that I would not quarrel with him on account of his polite
remarks, but that I only hoped my opinion would prove correct in this
instance, at all events.

About midnight, in spite of the darkness, we could see the land about a
mile and a half, or even less, from us, while the roar of the surf as it
broke on the shore could be heard with distinctness.  Suddenly, as I was
standing on the deck, I felt one side of my cheek grow colder than the
other.  I wetted my finger and held up my hand.  There was a sensible
difference in the temperature.  In another minute I had no doubt about
it.  A breeze was springing up.  The sails gave two or three loud flaps
against the masts.  I looked at the compass; the breeze was from the
westward.  Still, any wind was better than none at all, provided there
was not too much of it.  Mr Henley felt it as soon as I did.  I heard
his clear, manly voice issue the order to brace the yards sharp up; and
the ship, at length feeling her helm, was brought close to the wind.
Had the breeze been off the shore, our difficulties would have been
over; as it was, they were only mitigated.  The land lay broad on our
port beam; and when I looked over the port bow I could not help
believing that I saw a cape or headland which it seemed scarcely
possible that we should weather.  I pointed it out to Mr Henley.  He
had seen it, and told me I was right.  To go about was useless.

"Unless the wind shifts some four or five points, we shall have gained
but little," he observed.

Higher and more distinct drew the headland.  Then it seemed to stand out
in the dark ocean like some monster of the deep about to overwhelm us.
It was a remarkable headland--once seen not likely to be forgotten.  As
we all stood gazing at it with dread and anxiety, I observed a person
coming up on the poop deck.  He advanced rapidly towards where the mates
were standing.  I thought I recognised the figure and appearance of Mr
Barwell, who had never before come, that I was aware of, to that part of
the deck.

"There appears no small chance of the ship being cast away, and of our
losing our lives," he observed abruptly.  "The ship will never weather
that point, let me assure you."

"Who are you?--what do you know about the matter?" exclaimed Mr Grimes,
turning sharply round on him.

"Who I am is of little consequence, provided I do know something of the
matter," answered the pretended shoemaker.  "This is not the first time
by many that I have been off here, and if you will trust to my pilotage
I will take you into a bay where you may lie as securely as in Plymouth
Harbour.  If you stand on as you are now doing, the ship will inevitably
be cast away."

This painful fact was too evident; still, I could not be surprised that
the mates should hesitate, even in this extremity, to trust a man who
was more than suspected of being one of the chief movers in the late
mutiny.

"You must decide quickly, gentlemen," he continued.  "For my own sake, I
hope that you will accept my offer.  I cannot compel you to trust me;
but I do tell you, that if the ship once strikes yonder headland, not a
plank of her will hold together, and not one human being on board will
ever reach the shore alive."

"I'll shoot him through the head if he plays us false," I heard Mr
Grimes say to the second mate.

"You'll do as you please," observed the stranger, with a low laugh.  "I
don't fear your threats, but I must make a bargain with you.  If I take
the ship into a safe anchorage, you must promise to grant me any request
I may make, provided it is not extravagant or injurious to you."

After a short consultation with Mr Vernon and other gentlemen, the
mates agreed to the stranger's terms, and the ship was put under his
charge.

"Starboard the helm!  Square away the yards!  Be smart, my lads!" he
shouted, and the ship was headed in towards the land.

The tone of voice and mode of speaking showed that the pretended Mr
Barwell was not only a seaman, but well accustomed to command.  No
longer slouching about as he had been accustomed to do, he was quick and
active in all his movements.  He took his post in the main rigging to
con the ship, and his full and clear voice was heard ever and anon
issuing his orders.  As we stood on, high cliffs appeared right ahead of
us, and I fancied that I could distinguish one long, unbroken line of
surf directly across our course.  It required great faith in the
stranger's assurances to believe that we were not rushing to
destruction.  Every moment the breeze freshened, and shortened the
interval which must elapse before the point was settled.  I heard Mr
Grimes cock his pistol.  The dark outline of the land seemed to rise
above our mast-heads.  Still on we went.  I held my breath; so, I doubt
not, did every one on deck.  I could not help expecting every moment to
hear the terrific crash of the ship striking on the rocks.  Suddenly, as
I looked, I fancied that I could distinguish an opening in the surf.  It
grew wider and wider.  The ship entered it, while on either side the
white foam danced up frantically, as if trying to leap on board of us.
The next instant we were between high cliffs.  Still on we glided.

"Starboard!" sung out her pilot; and the ship standing to the northward,
in a few minutes we were in a perfectly sheltered position.  The sails
were furled, and the ship was brought to an anchor.  Rocks and cliffs
appeared around us on every side, with here and there a palm-tree
standing up against the dear sky; and so completely land-locked were we,
that I could not discover the passage by which we had entered the bay.

"There!" exclaimed Mr Barwell; "I have performed my share of the
agreement.  Now I will ask you to perform yours."

Most of the passengers and the officers of the ship were assembled on
the poop.

"What is your demand?" asked the first mate, who had not uttered a word
of thanks to the stranger who had certainly saved all our lives.

"My demand is that you land any of the unfortunate men you have in your
power who may desire to be liberated," answered the stranger firmly.  "I
intend to leave the ship here; I have had enough of her.  Of course, if
they do not wish to go, I can say nothing further; but ask them, and
fulfil your contract."

"I will see what the captain has to say to the matter," began the first
mate.

The stranger stamped on the deck with anger.  "The captain has had
nothing to do with the affair!" he exclaimed.  "I appeal to all on board
whether you did not make the promise, and whether, had I not performed
what I undertook to do, you would not ere this have been dashed
helplessly amid the breakers on the cliffs we saw ahead of the ship."

I heard Mr Henley asking Mr Vernon's opinion.

"There is one simple rule to go by," he answered.  "If you make a
promise, fulfil it.  Of course, I know that certain inconveniences may
arise in consequence.  The authorities at the Cape will probably find
fault with you, and various complaints may be made; but still, Mr
Barwell has a perfect right to demand the fulfilment of the promise you
made him, and you cannot in justice refuse to do so."

I was sure that Mr Vernon was right, and I knew that Mr Henley thought
the same, so I was very glad when it was settled that all the prisoners
who might wish it were to be landed with Mr Barwell.  Whatever opinion
might have been formed of him, one thing was certain--he had been the
means of preserving the ship and the lives of all on board.  I talked
over the matter with Mr Henley as we walked the deck during the
remainder of the night.  We might fancy the man a slave-dealer or
pirate, or an outlaw of some sort; but we had no proof of this, and if
so, he would be able to commit as much mischief at the Cape as here.
Our chief fear was that he might lead the prisoners we were about to
liberate into crime.  Then again came in the promise made to him, and we
felt that they had been driven to mutiny by the greatest cruelty, and
that if carried on to the Cape they would be severely punished.  Thus I
must leave it to others to decide whether we were right or wrong in
liberating the prisoners.  The offer was made to them by the doctor, who
explained the nature of the country, and the hardships they would have
to go through, and the dangers to which they would be exposed, but
notwithstanding this, they all at once preferred being landed to
undergoing a trial for the crime they had committed.

When daylight came we found ourselves in a strangely wild place.  Near
us were rocks, and cliffs, and sandbanks, and further inland palm-trees
and other tropical productions, with a wide extent of grassy, undulating
plains, or rather uplands, between the shore and the hills; but not a
sign was there of human habitations or human beings.  Mr Barwell was
busy in making preparations for his departure.  Certain trunks and
packages were got up, and he begged to purchase some sail-cloth for a
tent, and some provisions, which of course were not refused.  We had
altogether fifteen prisoners.  When Barwell, dressed in his brown suit,
and looking perfectly the unassuming artisan he had pretended to be, had
taken his seat, six of them were told off into the boat and carried on
shore.  The boat then returned for the remainder, and for the stores and
provisions which Mr Barwell--for so I will still call him--had
purchased.  The mates added several more things, so that altogether the
party were not ill supplied; and in that climate, with an abundant
supply of food to be found in its wild state, they might very well be
able to support existence till they could find means to quit it.
Barwell had, it appeared, a rifle and a supply of ammunition, and he had
purchased a fowling-piece from one of the passengers, and five or six
muskets for his companions, so that they might be able to defend
themselves against any attack from the natives they might fall in with.
Mr Henley told me, however, he believed that in that southern part of
the African coast the natives were scattered widely apart, and that in
many extensive districts none were to be found.

Climbing to the mast-head, I had a look round with my telescope, and I
felt certain that I saw several herds of animals feeding on the plains
in the interior.  Some were antelopes and deer of various sorts; and
then, as I watched, to my great delight I saw a number of large animals
come out of a wood.  They were elephants--not two or three, such as
might be seen in the Zoological Gardens--but a whole drove, fifty or
sixty at least, magnificent, big fellows.  They were on their way,
apparently, to a river to drink.  I longed to be on shore to hunt them,
and I almost envied Barwell and his companions the sport I fancied they
would enjoy.  I was called on deck by the order to make sail.  The wind
had come round to the northeast, and was fair for running out of the
harbour.  As the anchor was hove up the people we had left behind waved
to us, and, it appeared, were cheering; but whether they did so to wish
us farewell, or in derision, we could not tell.  With our
sadly-diminished crew we stood away to the southward.  Just as we left
the harbour the captain once more came on deck.  The mates could
scarcely convince him of what had occurred.

"I knew that we were not far off land," he remarked, "The smell of the
shore brought me to myself."

Strange to say, this was perfectly true; and from that time till they
were again in harbour neither he nor Mr Grimes touched spirits, and
appeared to be as sober as any man could be.

Such were some of my early experiences in the merchant service.  It must
not be supposed that all ships are like what the _Orion_ then was, or
that there are many of her size commanded by such a man as Captain
Gunnell, with such a first mate as Mr Grimes; but still there are some,
and I might almost venture to say many, which are in no better
condition, and I have met with numerous instances where a state of
things equally bad had existed on board.  This has arisen from the
absence of religious principle, from the want of education, and from the
intemperate habits of the officers.  I am far from wishing to dissuade
any of those who read my travels from entering the merchant service.  It
is an honourable and useful career; but I would urge them to endeavour,
by every means in their power, to improve their minds, and especially to
be on their guard against the vice of drunkenness, which has proved the
destruction of so many gallant seamen.  Far more would I urge them to
make it their highest aim to become true Christians, not only in name,
but in word and in deed.

Once more the sound of "Land ahead!" greeted our ears.  It was a clear,
bright morning; and as the sun rose we had before us a fine mountainous
line of coast, running down from Table Bay to the extremity of that
lofty headland known as the Cape of Good Hope.  Everywhere the coast
appeared bold and high.  The mountains seemed to rise abruptly from the
sea in a succession of ledges, steep, rugged, and bare, with rough and
craggy crests.  As we stood in close to the shore, the sun shining on
the crags and projections made them stand out in bold relief, throwing
the deep furrows of their steep sides into dark shades, while the long
line of white surf dancing wildly at their bases formed a fitting
framework to the picture.  Table Mountain appeared to be the highest
point of the whole range, though it was not till we got closer in that
it assumed its well-known form of a table.  As we opened Table Bay we
caught sight of the picturesque mountains of Stellenbosch and Hottentots
Holland in the background, with a line of sand hills in front.  It was
not till the evening that we at length dropped our anchor.

Cape Town stands on nearly flat ground.  Immediately behind it rises
abruptly the Table Mountain, most appropriately, from its shape and
appearance, so called.  On our left, joining the Table Mountain, was the
bold and rugged peak called the Devil's Mountain, and on the right the
rocky height known as the Lion's Head, while a long, round-backed hill,
running north from the Lion's Head, is known as his Rump, the two hills
together having somewhat the appearance of a lion couchant.  Cape Town
has not lost the character given to it by its Dutch founders.  Down the
principal street runs a canal, and several are shaded by rows of trees.
The houses are flat-roofed, with glass windows composed of a number of
small panes.  They are either white-washed or gaily painted, and in
front of each of them are brick terraces called _stoeps_, where, in the
summer, the inhabitants sit and talk to their acquaintances who may be
passing.  The houses are rather low, there are no regular
foot-pavements, the roads are very dusty, and the streets cross each
other at right angles.  Though the place has a decidedly foreign look,
and people of all nations are to be seen there--especially Dutch,
Hottentots, Malays, and Negroes--still the greater number are English,
and one fully feels that he is in an English town, and living under
English laws.  The most remarkable feature of the picture, to be seen in
every direction, is the Cape waggon--long and low when laden with heavy
goods, drawn by twelve or more oxen, and driven by a Hottentot with a
long bamboo whip.  Lighter articles are conveyed in lighter waggons, and
drawn at a quick pace by horses.  The town is defended by a castle of
considerable strength, and several lesser forts.  The dust, which
sprinkles everybody and everything with red, and the strong winds, which
blow ships on shore, and commit other species of damage, are the things
most objected to in Cape Town.

Having introduced them, I hope that I may be considered to have given a
fair picture of the place as it appeared to me when, the day after our
arrival, I went on shore in the afternoon with Mr Henley.  All the
passengers who were to remain at the Cape had disembarked, and the rest,
who were going on to Natal and the Mauritius, had gone on shore to live
till the ship again sailed.

I at once delivered the letters I received from my old schoolfellow
Lumsden at Teneriffe, and met with the kindest reception from all his
father's friends to whom they were addressed.  My story excited a great
deal of interest among them, and they all expressed an anxiety to help
me in finding out my brother Alfred.  This, from their connections with
all the ports in that part of the world, they were well able to do, and
my hopes of success increased as I talked the matter over with them: and
they suggested various places to which he might have gone, and the
different occupations in which he was likely to have engaged.  On one
point I felt very certain--and may all those similarly placed feel the
same.  I had passed through many and great dangers, and had been
mercifully preserved by Providence; and I had the assurance that the
same kind Providence would continue to watch over and preserve me in all
the perils and difficulties I might have to undergo.



CHAPTER SEVEN.

CAPE COLONY--TABLE MOUNTAIN AND ITS TABLE-CLOTH--A STORM--SAIL FOR THE
MAURITIUS--PORT LOUIS AND PIETER BOT MOUNTAIN--JOURNEY INTO THE
INTERIOR--PAUL AND VIRGINIA--DISAPPOINTMENT--AN ESTATE IN THE
MAURITIUS--WILD ANIMALS--SAIL FOR CEYLON.

My ship, I found, was to remain but a short time at Table Bay before
proceeding on to the Mauritius.  I had been in great hopes of going to
Natal, but the passengers all left here rather than attempt to land at
the port of that province from so large a ship.  I thought that I might
there possibly hear of my brother, but as I had as yet received no
information to lead me to suppose that he was there, I felt that it
would be far better to get as soon as possible to the Mauritius, which
was the place where we had last heard of his being.  It must be
understood that of this, the main object of my voyage, I never for a
moment lost sight, though in the account I am giving of my voyages and
travels I may not on all occasions bring it prominently forward.

A great deal might be said about Cape Colony, and I will not leave it
without giving a very short description of it.  The country in the
neighbourhood of Cape Town is fertile and picturesque, and the
south-western districts produce wine and corn in abundance; but the
larger portion is sterile and uninviting, with a sad absence of shade,
verdure, and water.  At the same time there are numerous, but
unnavigable rivers.  It improves, however, in the direction of Natal;
but in the north, towards the Orange River, it is said to be again
barren.  To the north and north-east are the districts inhabited by the
Amakosa Caffres, the Tambookies, and the Amaponda; while along the coast
round and beyond Port Natal is the country of the fierce Zooloos.
Bartholomew Diaz discovered the Cape of Good Hope in 1493; and it was
doubled four years afterwards by Vasco de Gama.  The inhabitants found
there were called Hottentots.  They attacked the Portuguese who first
attempted to settle at the Cape, and it was not till 1650 that the Dutch
East India Company formed a thriving establishment there.  A large
addition was made to the colonists by many French Protestants, who had
escaped into Holland from the tyranny of Louis XIV after the revocation
of the Edict of Nantes.  The Dutch remained in possession of the country
until the year 1795, when Holland having become subject to France, the
English sent out an expedition which conquered it.  It was restored to
the Dutch at the Treaty of Amiens; but in 1806, they and the English
having again become enemies, it was taken from them by an army under Sir
David Baird.  In 1814 it was confirmed to the British.  The Hottentots
were a mild, inoffensive race, but were cruelly treated by the Dutch,
who, however, as they advanced inland found a very different race to
contend with in the Caffres, with whom a constant feud was maintained.
The English also found them a fierce, warlike, and treacherous people,
and have constantly been at war with them, or engaged in forming
treaties which were as often broken.  Happily, by the judicious
management of Sir George Grey, the enlightened governor of Cape Colony,
the disputes with the Caffres were terminated; the Boers--as the Dutch
farmers are called--were satisfied--while the contented Hottentots, long
kept in slavery, were freed at the passing of the Slave Emancipation
Bill, when the glorious announcement was made throughout the world that
no human being could be longer held in slavery on British soil.

I forgot before to mention that as soon as we reached Table Bay a full
statement had been lodged with the proper authorities of the attack
which had been made on us by the pirates, and of the mode in which we
had been robbed.  Full particulars were accordingly sent to all the
vessels on the west coast, and directions given to them to look out for
the pirate; but we learned that there was very little chance of our
having any redress, as of course he would take care to keep out of the
way of all men-of-war for some time to come, at all events.  I cannot
say that I felt very much interested in the matter, and my chief fear
was that, should the pirate be captured before the _Orion_ sailed, we
might be detained to give evidence against the crew.  All my thoughts
were occupied with devising means by which I might discover Alfred.

We were not to leave the Cape without a gale.  I had been walking the
deck with Mr Henley, expecting to receive our orders for getting under
way, when he pointed to Table Mountain.

"See, the table-cloth is spread right over the table," he observed.  "We
shall not get to sea without a storm."

Then, as I looked up, I saw a dense white cloud which seemed to be ever
pouring over the edge of the table, but never to get lower; indeed, most
appropriately, from its appearance, is it called the table-cloth.

Mr Henley explained how this happened.  "Table Mountain terminates in a
ridge of high land, which covers the larger portion of the promontory of
the Cape of Good Hope.  The side immediately above the town is 4000 feet
high.  During the day, when the air is warmer than the water," he
observed, "there is a considerable evaporation which saturates the warm
air overhanging the basin.  The warm air thus laden with moisture rising
to the edge of Table Mountain meets with the prevalent cold south-east
wind, which immediately condenses it into a cloud.  Then it hangs
suspended above the mountain, and is then called the table-cloth.
Sometimes it is precipitated on the ridge in the shape of dew or rain,
and thus form a stream of cool water for the inhabitants of Cape Town."

The table-cloth growing thicker and thicker, Mr Henley gave the
necessary orders to prepare for the coming gale.  Everything was made
snug on board the _Orion_; the topmasts were struck, and fresh cables
were laid out.

The people on board several vessels did not take the precautions we did
in time, and were consequently exposed to great risk of driving from
their anchors.  Had they done so they would not only have been lost
themselves, but would have damaged, if not destroyed, any other craft
against which they might have run.  The boatmen in Table Bay have,
however, fine boats, and are gallant fellows, and in spite of the heavy
sea which came rolling in, brought out additional cables and anchors to
the assistance of those who required them.  I will not describe the gale
further than to say that it blew terrifically, and that I was very
thankful that our cables held; for had they parted, I felt sure the
stout ship would immediately have been dashed to pieces on the rocks,
and not one of us would have escaped.

As soon as the gale was over the captain came on board.  He appeared
quite a different man to what he had been during the voyage.  He was
quiet, and kind, and gentlemanly in his manner.  Several merchants
accompanied him from the shore, and he seemed to be on excellent terms
with them.

I told Mr Henley that I hoped things would improve on board.

He shook his head.  "All is not gold that glitters.  He was much the
same when he first took command.  Wait till we are out of sight of land
before we begin to congratulate ourselves."

Mr Henley had doubted whether, should Mr Grimes return, he would
remain in the ship.  The first mate had pretended to be ill as soon as
we arrived, and had gone into hospital.  However, directly after Captain
Gunnell appeared so did he.  He too seemed changed, and was very polite
to all the officers, and quite mild in his manner.  Though the second
mate had little confidence in him, he still made up his mind, greatly to
my satisfaction, to remain in the ship.  His prognostications proved too
true.  By the time we had been three days at sea, the captain began to
resume his bad habits, and of course the mate followed his example.  The
voyage was comparatively short, so they took care not to lose their
senses altogether, and were tolerably sober when we came in sight of the
Mauritius.

I had never seen anything more beautiful than the scenery of Port Louis
harbour.  High above the town rises La Pouce, or the thumb mountain,
clothed with trees to its very top.  It forms one of an amphitheatre of
queer-shaped mountains, at the foot of which nestles comfortably the
capital of the island.  To the left, seen over a range of hills, rises
"Pieter Bot," a mountain so called from a Dutchman who, in a spirit of
adventure or pot valour, attempted to ascend its summit, and was dashed
to pieces.  The compliment paid him was of a doubtful character, as
"Bot" means silly, a _sobriquet_ he obtained probably in consequence of
his failure.  Some English officers, cleverer than silly Pieter, by
means of a line thrown over the summit, by which a ladder was drawn up,
managed to reach it, and moreover, to the great disgust of the French
inhabitants, to place the Union Jack there.  The difficulty of the feat
exists in consequence of the upper portion overhanging that immediately
below it, as a man's head does his neck.  I had been reading the account
of the ascent in a book I had with me, and therefore looked at silly
Pieter with considerable interest, and thought how much I should like
also to get to the top of his pate.  The harbour is small, and the
entrance is defended by heavy batteries.  As we sailed in, with the
pretty little town before us, and the finger-like mountains rising in a
semicircle behind it, we had on our right the mountain of Morne
Fortunee, where is the signal station at which the famous ship-seer, who
could see ships nearly a hundred miles off, was stationed.  He saw them,
it was supposed, reflected in the clouds.  When the island belonged to
the French, he used to give notice in the war time of the whereabouts of
the English cruisers.

As I stood on the deck watching the shore, my heart beat with anxiety to
get there, that I might visit my grandfather, and commence my inquiries
for Alfred.  I had little expectation of being able to accomplish my
wish.  I went, however, to the captain, expecting to be told that the
duties of the ship required my attendance on board.  What was my
surprise, therefore, to find him bland and courteous in the extreme.

"You wish to pay a visit to your grandfather, Mr Coventry, you say?"
answered the captain; "certainly, Mr Marsden--certainly.  Give my
compliments to him.  I have the pleasure of his acquaintance, and I
conclude that he has not forgotten me.  And hark you, Mr Marsden, you
will not allow anything which has occurred on board here to transpire:
we shall be very good friends if we keep council, but if not, the
consequences will be disagreeable."

I scarcely knew what answer to make to this observation.  I felt how low
a man must have fallen to find it necessary to speak thus.  I considered
a moment, and then answered boldly--

"Unless I am specially questioned, I will say nothing about the matter.
If, however, I am asked the particulars of what has occurred, I will not
refuse to reply; for, should I do so, I should probably myself be looked
on as having taken part in the mutiny."

"No fear of that.  I must trust to you," he answered.  "But mark me, Mr
Marsden; you will find that I am a firm friend, but I can be a bitter
enemy."

"I hope I shall not lose your friendship, sir," I answered, hurrying
away, and shocked that a man who professed to be a Christian could give
expression to so dreadful a sentiment.

I was glad to find that Dr Cuff was going on shore; so he and I and
Solon set off together.  We landed on the beach in front of the town,
amid swarms of black men entirely naked, with the exception of a blue
cotton handkerchief tightly fastened round their thighs.  However, their
colour in a degree answers the purpose of dress.  As we walked through
the town we thought it a very pretty place.  None of the houses are
crowded together, while most of them stand in a small garden, amid a
profusion of trees and flowers; and even in the streets we observed
growing luxuriantly the banana, the bread fruit, the palm, and other
tropical trees and shrubs.  The most conspicuous building is Government
House, with a broad verandah running round it; but it has no pretensions
to architectural beauty.  Behind the city is the Champ de Mars, a small
level space, above which, on three sides, rise the rugged, curious
shaped hills we had seen from the harbour.  The Champ de Mars is the
race-course and the general resort of the inhabitants, and was, we were
told, in days of yore the usual duelling place.  From all I saw and
heard of the Mauritius, I believe it is one of the richest and most
fertile of the British insular possessions.  Yet, to garrison it and
defend it from our enemies, not an entire regiment is to be found in the
whole island, while the French have in the island of Reunion, formerly
called Bourbon, a force of not less than six thousand men, ready to take
advantage of any dispute which may occur between the two countries, and
to pounce down upon the Mauritius once more, to make it what the French
still call it--an isle of France.  The blacks from Mozambique, we were
told, do all the rough and dirty work in the city, such as dragging the
sugar casks down to the quays, and loading the vessels.  They seemed a
merry set; and Dr Cuff and I could not help stopping to watch some of
them, as they met each other, indulging in their hearty laughs, one with
a cocked hat and feather on his head, and another with a round hat which
even an Irish carman might decline to wear.  What their jokes were about
it was impossible to tell.  One would say something, and then the other
would answer him, and both would burst into the most absurdly noisy
roar, turning back to back to support each other, then clinging
together, rising, and falling, and twisting, and turning, and finally
rolling over on the ground, as if completely overcome.  It seemed a
matter of constant occurrence, for no one stopped even to take notice of
these strange performances.  I know that I felt inclined to burst into
laughter too, either for very sympathy, or on account of the
ridiculousness of the scene.

My grandfather's estate was, I found, about fifteen miles from Port
Louis.  The people at the hotel said they knew him, but that they had
not seen him for months.  However, that was not extraordinary, as he
often went a whole year without coming into the city.  I asked the
doctor to accompany me, which, as he was anxious to see the island, he
consented to do.  We hired two horses, and a black man who was to act as
our guide, take care of our steeds, and carry our luggage.  This
consisted chiefly of a change of linen and trousers, which the doctor
put into a tin case, to preserve the things from the attacks of the
numerous insects in the island, who would quickly eat them up.  Solon
followed us on foot.  Our guide carried in his hand a piece of
sugar-cane about six feet long, which served him as a walking-stick,
while at the same time he amused himself and kept away hunger by chewing
the upper end.  Shorter and shorter grew the stick, until he had eaten
it down till it was scarcely three feet in length.

"I suppose we have got through more than half our journey, for see,
blackie has eaten up the best part of his cane," said the doctor; but he
was mistaken, for our sable guide knew that he could get another at any
estate we passed, and soon sucked up his first walking-stick.

We found that we were passing the village of Pamplemousses, close to
which is an estate where, we heard, are to be seen the tombs of Paul and
Virginia, whose history, written by Saint Pierre, I had read.  Not a
moment had I ever doubted the truth of their history; still, not being
sentimentally disposed, I had no great wish to visit their graves,
especially as I was in a hurry to hear of Alfred.  Our guide, however,
had no notion of our passing a spot which everybody visited, without
paying it our respects; so, before we were aware of it, we found
ourselves standing before two pretty urns in a garden of roses.

"And so here sleep at rest poor Paul and his devoted Virginia," said I,
with a sigh; for I was beginning to feel sentimental.

"Fiddlestick!" answered the doctor, laughing.  "The _Saint Geran_ was, I
believe, wrecked hereabouts, and some of her passengers were drowned;
but whether there was a Paul or a Virginia on board, I cannot say.
Certainly the French author had no other foundation for his tale than
the mere wreck of a ship of that name; and as the language is good, and
the moral is less exceptionable than that of most French tales, it is
put into the hands of most young people beginning to learn French, and
has thus become universally known."

I felt almost vexed to find that two such people as Paul and Virginia
never really did exist, till the doctor laughed me back into my usual
state of mind.

"Fictitious sentiment I cannot abide," he observed.  "There is quite
enough of real sorrow and suffering in the world to excite our
sympathies; and if we employ them on fiction, we are very apt to exhaust
them before they can be employed to some useful end."

The scenery at the foot of Pieter Bot is very fine, as, indeed, was all
we passed through.  It was only towards the evening that we reached my
grandfather's estate of Eau Douce, or Sweet Water, as he called it.  How
my heart beat as our guide pointed out the house, a single-storied
building with a wide verandah round it, standing in a garden filled with
trees and shrubs of the most luxuriant growth, and of every variety of
shape and colour.

"Can Alfred himself be here?"  I thought, as I eagerly jumped off my
horse, and letting our negro guide take the reins, ran up the steps to
the front door.  The doctor followed slowly.  Though the door was open,
I did not like to go in.  I waited and waited, and rang two or three
times, and no one came.  At last I heard a shuffling in the passage, and
an old black man, dressed in a white shirt and trousers and yellow
slippers, made his appearance.  In broken English, with a French accent,
he asked me what I wanted.  I told him.

"Oh, Master Coventry!  He gone away--no come back for one year, two
years, or more," he replied, with a grin.

I asked him if he knew where Mr Coventry was gone.  His notions of
geography were limited; he could not tell.  I felt very dispirited.

"But I am his grandson.  Is there no one here who can tell me about
him?"  I exclaimed.

The negro looked at me hard.  "Oh yes, there is Mr Ricama, the steward;
he will tell you all about the master," he answered.  "Come in,
gentlemen, come in."

The doctor said, however, that he would prefer waiting under the shade
of the balcony till invited to enter by the officer in command.  I
accordingly followed the old black, who showed me into a cool
sitting-room, the floors covered with matting, and furnished with
cane-bottomed sofas and marble tables, the windows opening to the ground
looking out on the sea, whence a delicious breeze came blowing freshly
in.  In a short time a tall, dark-skinned man, in a light calico dress,
and with straw hat in hand, came into the room.  He bowed as he entered,
and advanced towards me.

"I am the overseer here left in charge by Mr Coventry, whose grandson I
understand you are," he said in very good English.  "I shall be glad to
do everything you may wish which is in my power."

"Thank you," I answered.  "First, then, tell me where Mr Coventry is; I
am most anxious to see him."

"That is a very difficult question to answer," he replied.  "I can tell
you where he was when I last heard from him; but where he now is I
cannot say, and where he may be in another month no man can tell."

"Where was he then?"  I asked eagerly.

"In Ceylon.  He purposed remaining some time there, but many months have
passed since I last heard of him," was the answer I received.

Here again was a bitter disappointment.  If my grandfather was away,
still less likely was I to hear of Alfred.  The next question I put to
the overseer was about him.

"Yes, a young midshipman had been to visit Mr Coventry, belonging to a
ship in Port Louis harbour.  He had come once again without his uniform,
when he seemed very sad and unhappy.  Mr Coventry had spoken kindly to
him, and had given him assistance."  What had become of him afterwards,
the overseer could not say positively.  He had an idea, however, that he
had been sent to Ceylon, where Mr Coventry had an estate.  That he was
not aware if Mr Coventry had again heard of him; but he seemed little
troubled by this, as he, Mr Coventry, was himself so eccentric in his
movements, and so seldom wrote letters, that he could not be surprised
at others altering their plans, or at not writing to him.

This was the sum total of the information I obtained from the overseer.
It was altogether far from satisfactory.  I felt sure that Alfred, after
having been kindly treated by our grandfather, would not have failed,
had he possessed the power, to communicate with him.  Still it was
possible, as Dr Cuff reminded us, that he might have done so without
the overseer knowing anything about the matter.  The moment the overseer
heard that Dr Cuff was with me, he went out and brought him in,
insisting on our making ourselves perfectly at home.

"Pray, do not thank me," he observed; "I feel that I am but doing my
simple duty in treating you with all the attention in my power."

There was something particularly pleasing and attractive about the
overseer.  From his colour, he was evidently a native of the East, but
he spoke English well, though with a foreign accent.  He was, as the
doctor called him, one of nature's gentlemen.  In the course of
conversation we learned that his name was Ricama--that he was a native
of Madagascar, and had at an early age been converted, as were many of
his countrymen, to Christianity.  He had come over with his father to
the Mauritius in charge of cattle, dressed, as he said, in a long piece
of yellow grass matting with green stripes wound round his body, with
the end thrown over his left shoulder and hanging down at his back.  His
hair was long, and fastened up in large bunches about his head.
Persecution against the Christians in Madagascar having arisen, he had
remained in the island, but his father had returned, and with many other
Christians had been put to death.  Ricama had before that time entered
the service of Mr Coventry, who, appreciating his high principles and
honesty, raised him to the highest office of trust he had to bestow.
From all I saw and heard, the overseer was well worthy of the confidence
placed in him.  A very tempting repast was soon prepared for us, to
which we were well inclined to do ample justice.  At first Ricama would
not sit at table with us, but we entreated him to do so, nor could the
most polished Englishman have behaved in a more appropriate manner.  He
was perfectly free and unembarrassed in his conversation, and gave us a
great deal of information about the island.

Before it grew dark we took a turn in the garden, where he showed us the
Indian rubber tree, the tea plant, and many other trees and plants which
Mr Coventry had wished to cultivate.  With regard to the Indian rubber
tree, the doctor said that it was only one of many trees producing
caoutchouc--the _Ficus elastica_, I believe.  To produce it the tree is,
during the rainy season, pierced, when a yellowish-white coloured and
thickish juice runs out into the vessels prepared to receive it.  If
kept in a corked air-tight bottle, it will remain liquid and retain its
light colour for some time.  Heat coagulates it, and separates the juice
from the Indian rubber.  If exposed to the air in thin films, it soon
dries.  In this way it is prepared for exportation:--lumps of clay,
generally in the shape of bottles, are spread over with successive
coats, and to hasten the process dried over fires, the smoke from which
gives the black colour which it generally possesses at home.  The marks
we see on the Indian rubber bottles we buy are produced by the end of a
stick before they are quite dry.

"How wonderful are the ways with which Nature supplies our wants!"
observed the doctor.  "Not only do trees give us fruit in every variety
of shape, consistency, and flavour, but even their juices minister to
our gratification.  How many valuable gums do they exude!  The
maple-tree of North America gives excellent sugar, and certainly the
discovery of caoutchouc has added very much to our comfort and
convenience.  Just think of the number of elastic articles, the
waterproof dresses, the piping, and even the boats which are made with
it."

Ricama assisted us to pick some leaves from the tea plants, with which,
in their raw state, we afterwards made an infusion, and we found it
differ little from ordinary tea, except that it possessed a richer
aromatic flavour and scent.

Ricama told us that great numbers of his countrymen came over to the
Mauritius, and among others the son of the famous King Radama had been
sent to learn various useful trades.  As his majesty had considered that
the first step towards civilising his subjects was to have them dressed,
he had requested that his son might learn the trade of a tailor.  The
young prince, however, was said not to have taken very kindly to the
goose, and had soon returned.

Among other trees were guavas, bananas, mangoes, breadfruit palms, and
two or three fern-trees.  The leaves of the latter are in shape like
those of the English fern, but of gigantic proportions, and grow on the
top of a stem thirty feet in height.  The sugar-cane is the chief
cultivated production of the island on all the more level parts.  The
fields are surrounded with pine-apple plants; the fruit is, therefore,
so abundant that the pines are sold for a penny a-piece.  A small insect
had, however, lately attacked the sugar-canes, eating their way into
them and destroying them utterly.  Though fresh canes had been
introduced, they had suffered in the same way.  The proprietors, like
those of Madeira, had therefore lately taken to cultivating the mulberry
tree to feed silk-worms.  The overseer entreated that we would remain at
the estate as long as we could.  I had got leave to be away from the
ship for a week, and the doctor said that he need not return for some
days.  Could I have forgotten my disappointment in not meeting with
Alfred and our grandfather, I should have considered those some of the
most delightful days in my existence.  Yet we did little but converse
with Ricama and go about the estate, with short trips into some of the
wilder regions of the island, and examine and hear about the trees, and
shrubs, and fruits, and flowers, and animals, and insects, and reptiles
of the country.

On desiring to be shown our bed-rooms, on the first night of our
arrival, the overseer, to our surprise, conducted us out into the
garden.  Here we had observed a dozen or more little pavilions, with
windows opening nearly all the way round, so that from whatever
direction the wind came, it could find a passage through them.  Some
light gauze curtains, an iron bed-stead, a table and chair, with a tin
box, constituted the furniture of these temples dedicated to Morpheus.
The tin box was, I found, to hold my clothes; for though the ants and
other insects might not carry them off bodily during the night, they
were likely to inflict much mischief on them in a short space of time.

The white ants of the Mauritius generally build their nests in trees,
where one of them looks like a huge excrescence of the stem.  Numerous
covered ways approach it along the branches and up the trunk.  Not a
single insect is seen, though thousands may be employed in bringing to
this castle the produce of the tree or the booty they have collected
from the neighbouring country.  They have a pale, long-buried look,
caused probably from living so entirely in the dark.  When attacking a
house, they run a tunnel with wonderful expedition through the floor and
up a wall, always taking care to have a case of some sort to work in.
If anything particularly tempting to their appetites is discovered, they
immediately branch off to it, and if it is inside a wooden box, or chest
of drawers, or bureau, they take up their abode in the interior till
they have completely gutted it.  They think nothing of eating up a
library of books, or cutting out the whole interior of the legs of
tables and chairs, so that, should a stout gentleman sit down on one of
them, he would be instantly floored.

I saw the negro servant who attended me to my bower hunting about in
every direction.  I asked him what he was looking for.

"Scorpions, master," was his answer.

Presently he produced from a corner, holding it by the head, what looked
like a spider with a very long tail, which latter adornment was curled
up over his back like that of a squirrel.  He put it down close to the
table, when down came its tail with considerable force.  He showed me a
sort of claw in the tail, through which the poison, which lies in a bag
at the bottom of it, is projected.  I called to the doctor, whose house
was within hail of mine, to come and look at it.  He told me that it
belonged to the class _Arachnida_, It had two claws and eight legs, or
stigmata, with a very long tail.  He laughed at the common notion that
the scorpion will sting itself to death when surrounded by fire, and
showed how that would be impossible, as he has no muscular power to
drive his sting through his breast-plate, nor could he do much more,
when curling it up, than tickle his back with it.  He cannot even twist
his tail to strike, so that the only dangerous point on which to assail
him in his rear.

Cockroaches, of course, abound.  They are frequently destroyed by a
peculiar sort of large fly, the female of which lays her eggs in them
while they are alive, the larvae afterwards eating them up.

The prettiest little creatures I saw were lizards, which ran quite tame
about the house in search of flies, their usual food.  Their feet are
furnished with a pneumatic apparatus like those of the house fly, by
which means they are able to run along the ceiling, or even any surface
as smooth as a mirror.  They are of a whitey-brown colour.  I watched
one of them shuffling along with an awkward gait, consequent on the
peculiar formation of his feet.  When about two inches from a fly, out
he darted his tongue, and it had disappeared.

The most curious insect I saw was the leaf-fly, the wings of which so
exactly resemble the leaf on which it feeds that it is impossible to
distinguish them from it.  It is said that if a number are put into a
box without food, they will eat up each other's wings.

I heard of deer and wild boars, and saw plenty of monkeys.  They are of
a small size.  They are here rapacious and cunning as usual.  It is said
that a large number will concert to rob a plantation, and forming a
line, will pass the fruit from hand to hand till it is deposited safe in
their mountain fastnesses.  I doubt, however, whether there is honour
among such thieves, and I suspect that those at the home end of the line
would in most instances get the lion's portion.

I did not see many birds; indeed the island does not boast of any large
number, though the dodo once inhabited it, and perhaps still exists
among some of the thick jungles in the interior, into which no human
being has as yet penetrated.  The only songster is called a martin.  He
is somewhat larger than a blackbird, and pied like a magpie.  He is a
lively, chattering fellow, very good-looking into the bargain, and, from
his sociable qualities, a great favourite with everybody.  There are
several species of amadavides, or love birds, of the finch tribe, with
red beaks, which, as they live on seeds, are easily kept.  Had I been
going home, I should have liked to have taken some with me.  The most
conspicuous bird is the cardinal, though scarcely larger than a
bullfinch, as his bright scarlet plumage is seen flitting about amid the
dark green jungle.  But I might fill my pages with descriptions of the
various wonderful things I saw and heard about, and have no space left
to give an account of my own adventures.

I awoke cool and refreshed the morning after our hot ride; and had a
delicious bath in a stream which ran close to the garden.  Solon sat by
the pool watching my proceedings, and evidently ready to lay hold of any
noxious creature which might come to interfere with me.  He seemed very
glad when I was out again, and bounded back with me to my bower, where I
went to finish my toilet.  The overseer was ready to receive us at
breakfast.  It consisted of bread in various forms, rice, and every
variety of fruit, with tea, and coffee, and cocoa.

"Some English gentlemen take all sorts of hot and exciting dishes, as
well as strong beverages," observed Ricama, "but Mr Coventry never
takes them himself, and never gives them to his guests.  I have followed
his custom, and let me assure you that, especially in a hot climate, it
is a very wise one.  Depend upon it, Europeans would not suffer nearly
so much from hot climates if they would but alter their mode of living
to suit them.  Adhere to this plan while you are here, and you will at
once perceive its advantage by the sound and refreshing sleep you will
enjoy."

The doctor agreed with Ricama, and I ever afterwards, notwithstanding
many temptations to act in a contrary way, strictly followed his advice,
and most certainly benefited greatly by it.  One day was spent very much
like another, in going about the estate, seeing the labourers at work,
and taking rides about the neighbourhood.  We were obliged to keep on
the beaten paths, for so dense a barrier did the masses of creepers form
amid the boughs of all the trees, that a company of pioneers could alone
have penetrated into the woods.

At the end of a week we took our departure to return to Port Louis.  We
were both much pleased with Ricama, and I felt a sincere friendship for
him.  He furnished me with letters to two friends of my grandfather's at
the capital, as he thought they would be glad to be of assistance to me.
They could tell me nothing about my brother, but they both thought it
most probable that he had been sent to Ceylon.  I was now only anxious
once more to continue my voyage.  I forgot the misconduct of the captain
and first mate, and all the dangers to which, in consequence, all on
board had been exposed, and was quite ready once more to trust myself at
sea with them.



CHAPTER EIGHT.

MATTERS ON BOARD AS BAD AS EVER--THE MATE'S CRUELTY TO POOR TOM--I
INTERFERE--AN ISLAND IN SIGHT--AN EXPEDITION ON SHORE TO CATCH TURTLE--
COCO DE MER--A NIGHT ON SHORE--WHERE IS THE SHIP?--WE ARE DESERTED--A
SHIP ON FIRE--MR. HENLEY PUTS OFF TO HER ASSISTANCE--TOM AND I LEFT ON
THE ISLAND.

Once more we were upon the ocean, the tall finger-like peaks of the
beautiful Mauritius fading from our sight.  Captain Gunnel was as
pleasant and kind in his manner as could be desired, the first mate as
glum and surly as usual.  It was curious to observe the sagacious manner
in which Solon avoided him, as if perfectly well aware that if he got in
his way a kick or a rope's end would be his inevitable portion.

For three or four days things went on somewhat quietly; we had fair
winds and fine weather, and there was nothing to put any one out.
Before long, however, some trifle caused the first mate to lose his
temper, and he began ill-treating the men as before.  He seemed inclined
especially to vent his rage against Johnny Spratt.

The fat old fellow used to rub his sides, and, as usual, as he limped
away from his tyrant, say, "Well, it's fortunate the bones are so
thickly cased, or they'd have been broken every one on 'em before now."

He never made a reply to all the abuse showered on him; but this
silence, instead of appeasing the mate's anger, only seemed to increase
it.  Poor Tommy Bigg, too, got more knocked about than ever.  My blood
used to boil as I saw the poor friendless little fellow kicked, and
cuffed, and rope's-ended without mercy, day after day, and more than
once I felt inclined to rush to his rescue, and to tell his tyrants what
cruel brutes they were.  In vain Mr Henley expostulated with Mr
Grimes.  He got only abused in return.

"Wait till you are kicked yourself and then cry out," was the answer.

Mr Henley could make no reply to this remark, but walked quietly away.
He took good care, however, that while he was on dock none of his
inferiors should bully anybody; and I, to the best of my power, assisted
him.  I soon found that I had made mortal enemies of Sills and Broom,
who had never liked me.  Several times I reported them to Mr Henley for
striking the men and using foul language towards them.  They called me a
sneak and a tell-tale, and said that I was fitter for a nursery or a
girls' boarding school than to come to sea.  I said that I saw nothing
sneaking in preventing men from being ill-treated, and reminded them of
a proverb I had met with, "That curses, like pigeons, are sure to come
home to roost at night."

"Hang your proverbs--what do you mean?" exclaimed Broom.

"That curses are sure to recoil on the heads of those who utter them," I
answered.  "I earnestly hope that the dreadful ones to which you have
been giving expression may not overtake you; but remember, that though
he may delay, God's arm is not shortened that he cannot strike."

"Now you have taken to quoting Scripture, you canting hypocrite," cried
Sills.  "Do you think we are afraid of any such thing happening to us?
Our curses may come back for what we care."

"Oh, it's all humbug!  Nothing you can say will make me hold my tongue,"
added Broom, with a hoarse laugh.

"In mercy to yourself do not say such things," I exclaimed, as I turned
away from my two messmates.

Mr Henley had warned me, when some days before I had observed that I
hoped the captain had improved, that before long he would break out as
bad as ever.  Such in a few days I unhappily found to be the case.  Not
only did he become as bad, but worse than ever, and I heard Dr Cuff
tell Mr Henley that he did not think that he could possibly survive
such continued hard drinking.  The first mate overheard the remark,
which was made probably in kindness as a warning to him.  It had in one
respect the effect intended.  He kept himself perfectly sober, and
attended carefully to the navigation of the ship; but I could not help
strongly suspecting that he was seized with the ambition of becoming
captain, and of having to take the ship home.  Mr Henley and the doctor
thought so likewise, for he at once assumed the airs of a master, and
became more dictatorial and overbearing than ever.

There lay the wretched captain, unconscious, in his berth, and of course
this man was virtually in command of the ship.  One day, after we had
been rather more than a week at sea, I had called Tommy Bigg aft, and
was speaking to him, directing him to do something or other, when Mr
Grimes came up close to us.

"What do you do here?--go forward to your kennel, you young--," he
exclaimed, with an oath.

Tommy heard him, but his impulse was to wait till I had finished my
sentence.  This momentary delay so enraged the first mate, that he flew
at the poor little fellow, knocked him down with his fist, and then
began to kick him along the deck as if he had been a foot-ball.

"Coward! brute!"  I exclaimed, gasping for breath; and losing all
command of myself, I rushed in before Tommy.  "Let alone the child--
you'll kill him if you continue to treat him thus; if you do I will
brand you as a murderer.  Help! help! he is killing the boy."

My cries were heard throughout the ship.  The first mate, as was to be
expected, turned his fury upon me.

"Mutiny! mutiny!" he exclaimed, lifting up his fist to strike me.

He would have felled me to the deck, and I should have received the same
treatment from which I had attempted to save Tommy Bigg, when his arm
was seized by Mr Henley, who had at that instant sprung on deck.

"What are you about, Grimes?" he exclaimed; "this behaviour is unworthy
of an officer.  He is no mutineer.  Anybody with feeling would have
attempted to save that poor boy from your cruelty."

"I didn't doubt that you would have shoved in your officious
interference at every opportunity," growled out the first mate, turning
fiercely on Mr Henley; "you'll find, however, before long, that you
have interfered once too often, and that you have caught a Tartar."

"I am doing my duty as much towards you as towards others," said Mr
Henley calmly.  "I entreat you, for your own sake as well as theirs, do
not again strike the boys.  You cannot tell what the consequences may
be.  We have had an example already on board this ship what men may be
driven to do."

Mr Grimes turned pale on hearing these words, partly from suppressed
rage and partly from fear, I suspect, and giving a threatening look at
me and Mr Henley, walked aft.  I felt sure that I had made the first
mate my most bitter enemy, but I could not regret what I had done.
Probably, had not Mr Henley interfered at the moment he did, he would
have declared me a mutineer, and had me put into irons.

We had unusually light winds, though fair, and nothing could be more
pleasant than the weather; but there was every appearance of the passage
being a long one.

Dr Cuff, meantime, was doing his best to restore the captain to a
state of consciousness, and after a time he once more made his
appearance on deck.  His temper was not improved; but the doctor had so
far alarmed him by putting clearly before him the inevitable result of
his intemperance, that he appeared more inclined than usual to remain
sober.

"Our captain is the most miserable man on board the ship," observed Mr
Henley, as we saw him walking up and down on the poop, muttering to
himself, and wildly waving his arms about.  "He is suffering all the
horrors of the drunkard deprived of the stimulants to which he has
accustomed himself.  Indescribable horrors--dreadful recollections of
the past--fears of the present--anticipations of coming evil, not the
less fearful because indefinite and uncertain!  O Marsden, as you value
your peace and happiness here and hereafter, avoid every temptation
which may lead you to drink, and do your utmost to warn your friends and
all you meet of the dangers of intemperance."

A day or two after this, when the sun arose, we found ourselves becalmed
little more than a couple of miles from a small island, apparently about
three or four miles in length, with trees and rocks, and a high conical
hill rising up in the centre.  There appeared some islets about it but a
few hundred yards across, scarcely elevated above the level of the sea.
When the captain and first mate came on deck they examined them narrowly
with their telescopes, and were seen to talk together earnestly for some
time.  Breakfast was just over when the captain observed to Mr Henley--

"There are fine turtle to be got on these islands.  Fresh meat would be
a good thing for the people, who are getting sickly for want of it, and
not a bad thing for us.  What say you to taking a boat and trying to
catch a few?  There is Johnny Spratt and one or two other men well
accustomed to the work.  Take them with you.  You'll have plenty of
time; these calms often last many days."

The second mate said that he would be very happy to go, and instantly
set about getting a boat ready.

"You'll like to go, Marsden," said the captain to me, in a good-natured
tone of voice.

Of course it was just the thing I wished to do.  I bethought me of
taking my sketch-book with me; but I could not find it, and so I carried
off the book in which I wrote my journal, as it would serve my purpose.
As I went on deck I saw the first mate send Johnny Spratt and Tommy Bigg
into the boat, but his doing so did not at the moment excite my
suspicions.

"Come, shove off, lads," he sung out, looking over the side.

"Stay," said Mr Henley, ascending on deck again, "I never go away in a
boat without a compass, and provisions, and water.  A fog may come on,
or we may be benighted, or a breeze might spring up, and we might have
some difficulty in getting on board again."

Mr Grimes made no answer to this remark, but turned away whistling.
Mr Henley had, I found, put together a number of things, which were
handed into the boat.  I slung my spyglass over my shoulder, and,
thinking that I might get a good shot at some birds, filled my
powder-flask and shot-belt, and rifle in hand, followed by Solon,
stepped into the boat.  I took one oar and Spratt another, and we had
two black men whom the chief mate had observed were first-rate hands at
turning turtles.  Mr Henley had brought the boat's masts and sails,
because, as he observed, a breeze might spring up, and we might find
them useful.  As we pulled away from the _Orion_ I could not help
admiring her size and build, and regretting that she was not better
commanded.

"There are many like her, and there will be, till young men intended for
the sea are educated and brought up as gentlemen and Christians,"
observed Mr Henley, divining my thoughts.  "All I can hope is that
before we leave Colombo Captain Seaforth will come out and take command.
I wrote home from the Cape entreating him to do so."

This was good news, and the bare hope of having a change for the better
on board put me in good spirits.  I had never encountered any heat equal
to what we were now enduring.  The sea was as smooth as glass, and
glittered like a sheet of polished silver; there was not a breath of
air, and the sun was almost perpendicular.  Oh, how hot it was!--the
perspiration was running from every pore.  The sight of some trees,
however, on the islands we were approaching encouraged us to persevere,
and we contemplated the satisfaction of enjoying their cool shade, and
then a plunge in some quiet pool before we returned on board.  But as we
drew near we began to fear that our anticipations would be disappointed,
for on every side appeared a line of surf beating against what Mr
Henley at once pronounced to be a coral bank.

"Still, there may be an opening which may lead to the island," he
remarked.  "We'll not give up till we have tried in every direction."

Accordingly, keeping at a little distance from the thin white line of
surf, we continued pulling slowly round to the eastward of the island.
The island had, I observed, a peak rising in the centre to a
considerable elevation, and Mr Henley remarked that it looked like the
cone of a volcano.  After pulling on for another half hour a space
appeared where the water was as smooth and glassy as that on which we
floated.  We instantly pulled in towards it, and, passing between the
end of the lines of surf, found ourselves in a small bay lined with pure
white sand, and here and there dark rocks rising up among it, while
cocoa nut and other palm-trees came almost close down to the water's
edge.  I had never seen a prettier or more romantic spot.  Here and
there along the shore we caught glimpses of other similar bays.
Scarcely a ripple broke on the beach, so we ran the boat up on the sand,
and jumped on shore.  Not a sign of human beings or of inhabitants of
any sort had we yet seen.  Having hauled up the boat, we therefore
proceeded without hesitation towards the summit of the peak, that we
might enjoy amore extensive view of the surrounding scenery.  There are
two sorts of turtle found on the shores of the islands of these seas--
the hawk-billed and the green turtle--Mr Henley told me.  From the
former the tortoise-shell, so valuable for making combs and other
articles, is taken; but the flesh is considered poisonous.  The shell of
the green turtle is of comparatively little value, but then the flesh is
excellent, and it was this turtle we wished to catch.  It, however,
comes on shore to lay its eggs chiefly at night, while the hawk-bill
lands in the day-time for that purpose.  Had we known this we should
have waited till the evening to pay our visit to the island.  It was
only when we asked the blacks why we saw no turtle that we ascertained
the fact.  Still, as there appeared every chance of the continuance of
the calm, we agreed to wait till the evening that we might capture some
of the green species.  Both lay many hundred eggs, and deposit them in
large holes which they make with their flappers in the sand.  Having
with the same implements covered up the eggs, they leave them to be
hatched by the rays of the sun, which strike down with great force on
the white sand; indeed, the heat I should have thought would have been
enough to bake them.  Probably the moisture coming through the sand
prevents this, and keeps up a regular temperature.  As we advanced we
came to an open space, in which grew a clump of tall trees, which Mr
Henley looked at with much interest.

"I have seen such before at the Seychelles," he remarked.  "We are about
the latitude of those islands.  These trees are some of the rare and
celebrated coco de mer.  See, they must be nearly a hundred feet high,
and little more than twelve or thirteen inches in diameter.  There is
scarcely any difference in their size to the very top, where observe
that curious crown of leaves, which has the fruit--the double
cocoa-nut--inside it.  If there was a breeze we should see the trees
bending about like whips, of so flexible a nature is the stem."

We calculated that each leaf was upwards of twenty feet long, including
the petioles or stalks.  These are of strength sufficient to bear a
person's weight.  One of the blacks coming up made preparations to climb
to the summit of one of the trees.  First, he fastened a band round the
stem, sufficiently large at the same time to admit his body; then,
pressing his back against the band, he worked his way up to the top.
Securing the band, he disappeared among the leaves.  Presently he
returned with a bundle tied round his neck, and quietly descended the
stem as he had ascended, by means of the band.  On reaching the ground
he presented us with what looked like three young cocoa-nuts growing
together.  Sometimes I found that the fruit not only grows double, but
triple, and even quadruple.  We broke the shell, and found the fruit far
superior to that of any cocoa-nut I had ever tasted, though resembling
it in flavour: in appearance and consistency it was more like the ice in
a pastry-cook's shop.  We found it particularly refreshing, and there
was enough to supply all our party.  The black had brought also the germ
of another fruit, and the crown of the trunk, which, like that of the
true cabbage-tree, makes an excellent dish like asparagus.  It bears
flowers and fruit of all ages at the same time.  The black showed us the
rings on the stem, which were about four inches apart.  They are left by
the leaves falling off as the palm grows; and as two leaves fall off
every year, I conclude that they grow about eight inches in that time.
The coco de mer is as useful as the more common cocoa-nut.  With the
leaves houses are thatched; the trunk serves for troughs and piping;
with the leaves and fibres of the petiole baskets and brooms are made;
from the fibrous bark rope called coir is manufactured--so are hats and
baskets; a beverage is extracted from the sap; beautiful cups are made
from the shell; oil is pressed from the fruit; and mattresses are
stuffed with the fibre which surrounds the shell; even the farinacious
matter contained in the stem is used as food, and is not a bad
substitute for sago.  Indeed, there is no end to the useful ways in
which it may be employed.

We were not long in reaching the highest point in the island.  This, Mr
Henley said, he had no doubt was the crater of a volcano which had long
ceased to emit fire; for though here and there we discovered lava and
ashes, the ground was almost entirely covered with a luxuriant
vegetation.  We had a view of the unbroken horizon on every side, with a
number of little green gems of islands scattered over the blue shining
ocean around us.  Mr Henley said he suspected that it was one of the
islands which the French frequented during the wars of the first
Napoleon, and where their privateers used to conceal themselves when
they had to refit or refresh their crews to be again ready to go in
search of our merchantmen.  In the distance lay our ship with her sails
hanging idly against her masts.  There was not a sign of a breeze, so
Mr Henley determined to wait till the night in the hopes of catching
some green turtle.  We now returned to the beach where we lighted a fire
and cooked some provisions, not forgetting our tree-cabbage, and most
delicious we found it.  After our dinner we wandered along the shore,
admiring the beauty of the spot and the thin reefs of coral which
surrounded it.

"To think that all that work has been produced by small insects, and, so
to speak, out of nothing, is indeed wonderful," observed Mr Henley as
we strolled along together.  "Do you know, Marsden, I have often thought
that it is intended that we should learn from these coral reefs what
great results are produced in the moral world by apparently small means,
at the will of our almighty Creator.  Sometimes, I daresay, the agents
are conscious that they are working for a great end; sometimes--still
oftener--perhaps not.  It should encourage us to persevere when we are
working in a good cause, though our progress may not be quicker than
that of the coral insects.  Yet see the result of their labours!  In
time these rocky islets may increase to a size sufficient to support a
large population."

I understood what he meant, and fully agreed with him.  We found a
number of beautiful shells on the beach of every shape and size, most of
them empty, so that any hermit crabs wandering about in search of a new
home could easily suit themselves with a habitation.

We enjoyed also a bath in a pool surrounded by rocks, where the water
was so clear that we could see to the bottom.  I had proposed bathing in
the open bay, but Mr Henley said he would on no account venture to do
so, as we could not tell what sharks there might be in the
neighbourhood.  He told me that he knew of so many instances where
people had lost their lives from incautiously venturing in where sharks
had seized on them, that he was always very careful where he bathed.  I
remembered his advice and followed it.  Had I not done so, I believe
that I should very soon have shared the fate of the unfortunate people
he spoke of.

The time passed quickly away, and hunger at last made us turn our steps
towards the spot where we had left the boat.  We found that Johnny
Spratt had got some water boiling to make tea, and Tommy Bigg had
collected some shells, while the blacks had brought in some cocoa-nuts
and several other tropical fruits and roots whose names I do not
remember.

"Wait till turtle come, then plenty supper," they observed.

After supper, while the men smoked their pipes, Mr Henley and I,
followed by Solon, walked on to a rock from which we could watch the
proceedings in the next bay, which more directly faced the opening in
the reefs.  We had not long to wait before we observed some black
objects slowly emerging from the water and crawling up the beach.  We at
once guessed that they were turtle, and not knowing how long they might
be occupied on shore we hurried back to call the blacks to our
assistance.  Solon was for dashing in at them at once, and I had some
little difficulty in restraining his impatience.

"Very good--no hurry--sure more come," was the answer of the blacks when
I told them what we had seen.

However they got up, and all the party set off towards the rock where
Mr Henley and I had been watching.  By the time we got there the entire
line of beach from one side of the bay to the other was swarming with
turtle.  It was now growing so dark that they could only just be
distinguished.  Away we all ran armed with handspikes towards the shore.
Our appearance did not seem to create any commotion among them.  We
watched the proceedings of the blacks.  One of them seized a flapper,
while the other insinuated his handspike under the animal, and by a
sudden jerk turned her over.  Mr Henley and I, and Spratt and Bigg did
the same, but we found that the blacks had turned three or four while we
could scarcely get over some of the smaller ones.  We had another
companion who showed that he had no wish to be idle.  As soon as we
began the onslaught on the creatures Solon commenced an attack on them
also.  As he had no handspike to turn them over, all he could do was to
lay hold of their flappers, and to try to hold them till we came up;
many a severe knock on the nose, though, he got in the attempt as he
flew from one to another barking furiously.  After some time I did not
hear him, and on looking about I found that at last he had resolved to
attempt to capture one entirely by himself.  He had seized a good large
turtle by the flapper, and was trying to haul it away from the water,
which it was doing its best to reach.  Now, as the turtle weighed nearly
one hundred and fifty pounds, Solon would have had very little chance of
victory if he had trusted only to his strength; so sometimes he would
let go and leap round to the other side of the turtle, and would bite
away at its flapper.  This made it retreat once more up the beach.
Solon, discovering the good effect of his tactics, would continue them
till the turtle refused to go further, and then he would seize the
former flapper and begin pulling away again.  Though he stopped the
turtle's way, still she made progress towards the ocean, and I doubt
whether he would have let go till she had pulled him in.  He was highly
delighted when at last we went to his assistance and turned the turtle
on her back.  He still, however, seemed to consider it as his own
especial property, and sat sentry over it, barking whenever it moved its
flappers, as if he thought that it was going to get up and escape him.
At length we had turned as many turtles as we would possibly require on
board, or carry off; so we looked out for the ship, purposing at once to
return to her.  It had, however, now become very dark, and she was
nowhere to be seen.

"Never mind, lads," observed Mr Henley, "we will light a fire and make
ourselves comfortable.  They will see the light on board, and know that
we are all right."

We did not want the fire to keep ourselves warm or to scare off wild
beasts, as there were not likely to be any in that small island, but the
smoke kept off the insects, and we hoped that our shipmates would
understand, by seeing the fire continually blazing, that we were waiting
till the morning to return on board.  We sat round our fire talking and
spinning yarns.  Mr Henley encouraged the men to speak of themselves,
and to tell their adventures.  Nothing so much induces the men to place
confidence in their officers as to show them that an interest is taken
in their welfare.  The blacks told us how they had been kidnapped in
their youth from the interior of Africa, carried down to the coast,
confined in barracoons for some weeks till they were shipped on board a
Spanish schooner.  They pictured vividly the horrors of the middle
passage, shut up in a hold three feet only between decks, where, with
nearly four hundred of their fellow-creatures, they sat crouched up
together as closely as they could be stowed for many weeks; how sickness
got in among them and carried off great numbers, who were dragged out
and thrown overboard as if they had been rotten sheep; how at last the
schooner had been chased by a British cruiser and captured, and they had
been carried to Sierra Leone and restored to liberty.  There they had
served in various vessels, both merchantmen and men-of-war, and had made
several whaling voyages.  The two had never been separated.  Though not
brothers by birth, they had become more than brothers--where one went
there went the other.  It was a strong proof that the gentler and purer
affections are not excluded from the bosoms of the sons of Africa.
Indeed, I suspect it is their very simplicity of mind and gentleness
which make them so much more readily yield to the yoke of slavery than
the white races.  One went by the name of Jack, and the other Gill.
When I asked them if these were their real names, they laughed and said
no, but that they were as good as any others; they were not particular
about names.

Though there was little chance of anything happening during the night,
we agreed that one at a time should sit up and watch to give notice of
danger.  The atmosphere was far fresher than it had been, for a light
breeze had sprung up, but as it was directly contrary to the course of
the ship, it did not seem necessary to set off in the attempt to find
her, especially as we could not possibly carry all the turtles we had
caught in one trip.  I took my watch in the first part of the time.  The
early part of the night, it must be remembered, we were employed in
turning the turtles, so that it was past midnight before we lay down, I
was kept awake by having continually to throw dry leaves on the fire to
keep up a smoke; but even had it been otherwise, the beauty and
strangeness of the scene would have kept me awake.  Still, the moment I
was relieved and put my head on the ground, I fell asleep with my
faithful Solon by my side.  I knew that he would keep a careful watch
over me.

I awoke by hearing Johnny Spratt exclaim--

"Where can she be?"

It was broad daylight.  I jumped up and looked about me.  All the party
were gazing seaward in the direction where the ship should have been.
Not a glimpse of her was to be seen!  "They cannot have deserted us,"
said Mr Henley to himself, as he led the way towards the peak to which
we all instinctively directed our steps.

We hurriedly climbed to the top of it, then cast our eyes round in every
direction.  There was a speck in the horizon to the southward, but only
a speck.  There was no doubt that it was a sail.  It might have been the
_Orion_, considering the direction of the breeze which had been blowing
all night; it was the point she would most likely have attained had she
made sail the instant darkness set in.  It became too evident that we
had been intentionally deserted, for there was not the slightest
necessity for her quitting the neighbourhood of the island.  Strange and
almost overwhelming were the feelings we experienced.

"What is to be done, sir?"  I asked of Mr Henley.  "Shall we try to
overtake her in the boat?"

"That would be utterly hopeless," he answered.  "That was the reason
Grimes pressed me to take the pinnace.  Her planks are rotten, and she
was scarcely fit even to pull the short distance we came in her, much
less is she capable of carrying us safely away from this."

This was very evident, for we had had constantly to bale her out on
coming from the ship to the island.  The feelings of all the party can
better be imagined than described when we were convinced that we had
been thus purposely and cruelly deserted, and that until some vessel
should come off the island, or we could contrive to build one capable of
navigating the Indian seas, we should have to remain where we were.
Months or even years might pass before we could get away.  Our chief
hope was that Dr Cuff would give information at Colombo of our having
been left on the island, and that a vessel might be sent for us, though,
of course, Captain Gunnel and the first mate would try to persuade him
that the boat was lost, or that we had deserted.  None of the party,
however, were inclined to despair.  As soon as Mr Henley had got over
his first sensations of indignation, he did his best to keep up our
spirits.  Having breakfasted, the first thing we did was to haul up the
boat to examine her thoroughly.

"It will never do to venture to sea in her," said Mr Henley, and Johnny
Spratt agreed with him.  "She would answer, however, to form the centre
of a raft, on which, if strongly put together, we might venture to sail
for some port in India or Ceylon."

These and similar remarks cheered us more than anything.  There is
nothing like action or anticipation of active work for keeping up the
spirits.  We dragged the boat still further up the beach, and covered
her completely over with branches of palm and other broad-leaved trees,
so as to save her from being yet more destroyed by the heat of the sun.
We then set to work and built ourselves two huts for sleeping in, and a
shed which served us as a mess-room, open on every side.  Mr Henley and
I intended to occupy one of the huts and the crew the other.  We had
found a pure, abundant stream of water, so that we were in no way badly
off.

On the possibility of the ship having merely stood off for the night,
and having been becalmed and unable to get back in the evening, we again
ascended to the peak to look for her.  Curiously enough, there was the
same speck in the horizon which we had observed in the morning.  There
had been all day but a slight breeze on the island, and as the sea in
the direction of the sail looked especially calm, it was very probable
that she lay becalmed where we had first seen her.  If so, we might, had
we pulled off at once, very probably have got on board her.  Still, we
could scarcely blame ourselves for not sailing after her; for had the
breeze again caught her, she would have gone away and left us in the
lurch.  Yet it must be owned that it was very tantalising to see our
ship still in sight; for we did not suppose that, had we got up to her,
Captain Gunnel would have ventured to refuse to admit us on board.  He
would probably have tried to turn the tables on us, and have abused us
for remaining so long away from the ship.

In a short time the whole party were assembled on the peak.  There we
all stood, forgetful of everything else, gazing at the far distant sail.
The sun went down, and for a few minutes we could almost distinguish
the outlines of her loftier sails as they rose above the water clearly
defined against the bright sky.  The darkness came rushing on with a
rapidity unknown in northern climes, and shrouded her from our sight.
Mr Henley had before this been examining a pocket compass.

"Lads," he said suddenly, "I have taken the bearings of that sail.  She
may be the _Orion_ or she may not--will you make the attempt to get on
board her?  I warn you that I believe there is great risk in doing so.
Our only hope will be that the calm may continue, and that we may be
able to get on board before a breeze spring up or before we are
discovered."

The men unanimously declared that they were ready to do exactly what he
wished.

"Well, then, we will make the attempt," he exclaimed.  "But what is
that?  What can be that red glare over where we just saw the ship?"

"She is on fire, sir," answered Spratt, after attentively watching the
point indicated.  "She's not the first ship I've seen burning at sea,
and I know for certain that is one.  She may be the _Orion_, or she may
be some other unfortunate craft, that I can't say."

"Whatever may be the case, we must go to her assistance," exclaimed Mr
Henley.  "We may be able to save some of the poor fellows clinging on to
part of the wreck or to a raft, and we will bring them back to the
island."

"Gladly," said I; "we have no time to lose."

"No, Marsden," he answered; "I have made up my mind what to do.  It will
not do to have more in the boat than is absolutely necessary, and I
intend to leave you and Tommy Bigg and your dog behind.  I would leave
one of the black men, but they will not part from each other; and I wish
to have Spratt with me.  It is settled; say no more about it.  Believe
me, my dear Marsden, I am anxious to save you from unnecessary peril.
If I survive I will come back, and if I am lost it will be better for
you to have remained as I wish."

"I am sure that you desire what you believe to be the best for me," said
I, warmly wringing his hand.  "I'll do as you order me, though I wish
that you had allowed me to go with you."

This conversation took place as we were hurriedly descending the
mountain.  We had some little difficulty, in our haste, in finding our
way down to the beach.  Putting some provisions and water into her,
including some of the turtle we had cooked, we once more launched her,
and then, with no small amount of sorrow and apprehension, I saw my
companions pull out towards the passage through the reef, when they were
soon lost to sight in the gloom of night.  One of Mr Henley's last
charges to me had been to keep up a large fire all night, to enable him
the better to steer his course, and also to find the island again.
Indeed, that this might be done, he assured me, was another strong
reason for his wishing me and Tommy to remain on the island.

As soon as we had lost sight of the boat, Tommy and Solon and I hurried
back to the spot where it was agreed the fire should be lighted, and we
soon had a magnificent one blazing away.  It was on a rock free from dry
grass, or bushes, or other combustible matter, or we should have run a
great risk of setting the island on fire.  The previous night our aim
had been to collect leaves to create a smoke; now we wished to make as
bright a flame as possible.  We had no difficulty in collecting an
abundance of dry sticks for this purpose.  Solon looked on for some time
at our proceedings, and then, apparently discovering our object, ran
about till he found a good-sized branch, which, seizing hold of with his
mouth, he dragged up to the fire; then, wagging his tail, he came up to
me to show me what he had done.  Great was his delight when I put it on
the fire, and immediately off he set and brought up another.  He seemed
to consider light sticks, such as Tommy and I had been collecting, as
beneath his notice.  When he found that I did not put the next stick on
the fire, he sat down to watch proceedings.  When, however, I patted him
on the head, and pointing to a distance, cried, "Go fetch more," away he
went, and in a short time collected almost as much wood as Tommy and I
had each of us done, so that he was really of great use.

"Solon is coming out," said I to Tommy; "I thought he would, but
hitherto he has had few opportunities of exhibiting his sagacity and
talents."

"Well, sir, I am certain as how Solon could speak if he had a better
made tongue," observed Tommy.  "Often and often I have sat by him, and I
have talked to him, and he has opened his mouth and twisted and turned
about his tongue and lips till he has all but spoke.  More than once I
have thought he was going to say something, but he never has yet."

I was very much inclined to be of Tommy's opinion, and often almost
expected Solon to give expression to some wise sentiment worthy of his
name.  When our fire was well made up, I retired to a distance from it
that I might look out for the burning ship.  Though, from where I stood,
her topgallant masts would not have been visible above the horizon in
the day time, a bright glare, which lighted up the whole sky above where
she was, showed me that she was burning still more fiercely than when we
first discovered the fire.  It made me fear that there was not a
possibility of her escape.  I was afraid, too, that Mr Henley would
have his long pull to no purpose.  What would become then of the
unfortunate people on board?  Poor Dr Cuff!  I thought of him more than
any one.  He was a friend in whom I could place perfect confidence, and
had so often been my companion that I thought more of his fate than of
that of anybody else on board.  While I stood witching the far-distant
conflagration, I felt a stronger puff of wind on my cheek than had for
some time been blowing.  It rapidly increased, but it blew off the land.
After I had waited some time till I thought I ought to go back to
assist Tommy in keeping up the fire, the wind again fell.  I had been
longer away than I supposed, and I was obliged to set to work again to
collect sticks--a more difficult task than it had first been, as we had
to go to a greater distance beyond the light of the fire to find them.
Solon now even surpassed us, for he was able to discover the dry sticks
in the dark far better than we could.  I could not help thinking at
times of the risk we were running from venomous creatures, and more than
once drew back my hand under the idea that I was about to catch hold of
a snake.  However, though I daresay we might have put many of them to
flight, neither of us were bitten, and at length we were able once more
to sit down before our fire and rest from our labours.  We should have
preferred a cooler situation, but it was more important to have the
smoke to keep off the mosquitoes.  I should have preferred a more
intellectual companion than Tommy Bigg, but there was so much honest
simplicity and good-nature about him, that I could not help feeling a
regard for him.  The night passed slowly by.  I could not venture to go
to sleep, though Tommy begged I would, promising to call me should our
supply of sticks run short; but I felt the importance of keeping up the
fire as long as it might serve as a beacon to our friends, and the
further they were off the larger I was anxious to make it.  For some
time I had been aware that the wind was again getting up.  It continued
to come in fitful gusts, but each of them grew stronger and stronger.  I
feared that a regular gale was coming on; and if it did, I knew that our
boat must be exposed to very great danger.  As morning approached I
began anxiously to look out for the return of the boat.  I got up over
and over again, and walked to a distance to endeavour to see her through
the gloom; and frequently I shouted in case Mr Henley had landed at any
other spot, to guide him to where we were.  No one replied to my shouts;
not a sign of the boat could I see.

The glow in the sky over the spot where we supposed the ship was burning
had by this time much decreased in brilliancy.  I stood earnestly
watching it.  Suddenly it burst out brighter than ever, extending far
round on every part of the sky.  While I was looking, wondering what
next would happen, it as rapidly vanished, and not the faintest trace of
the fire remained.  I immediately surmised what had happened--the deck
had been blown up, and the hull had sunk beneath the waves.

The gale now grew rapidly more and more furious, and the wind veered
about till it blew directly on the shore.  I went back once more to the
fire.

"I am afraid, Tom, that Mr Henley and the rest are in great danger,"
said I, as I sat down on a stone, and employed myself in throwing the
sticks we had collected to feed the flames, and told him what I had
seen.  "I do not think that they could have reached the burning ship
before the gale came; and as for those who might have escaped from her,
I fear that there is not a chance of their escaping."

"I'm afraid not, sir, if they have only themselves to trust to,"
answered Tom, quietly looking up in my face.  "But you know, sir, God
can do everything."

"He can--he can," I answered warmly.  "We will pray to him, Tom, and
perhaps he may think fit to preserve our friends."

"Yes, sir; but we should pray for our enemies too," said Tom.

"You are right again, boy," I answered.  "We will pray for them also."

And we two knelt down on the rock looking towards the wild, troubled
sea, and offered up our humble though fervent prayers to the throne of
Heaven, that He who could calm the waters of Gennesaret would preserve
both our friends and those who had ill-treated us from the destruction
which seemed to us inevitably to await them.  I could not have prayed in
the same way at home; and I little thought that the poor little
insignificant ship-boy by my side could have prayed in the way he did.
I firmly believe that earnest prayers are answered, though often in the
world we do not discover how or when they are so.  Still, we may depend
on it, all that is right is done in God's own good time.



CHAPTER NINE.

THE GALE INCREASES--FEARS FOR MR. HENLEY'S SAFETY--A BOAT IN SIGHT--
SOLON AIDS IN RESCUING THE DROWNING MEN--THE DOCTOR SAVED--HIS ILLNESS--
A SAIL IN SIGHT--VISIT OF A SLAVER--DESERTED BY OUR COMPANIONS--DEATH OF
THE DOCTOR--TOM AND SOLON ON THE ISLAND--OUR COMFORT AND CONSOLATION.

The morning came at last, wild and tempestuous as had been the night.
As soon as the beacon-fire no longer required our attention, Tom and I,
accompanied by Solon, set off to the peak to take a look round, that we
might discover if Mr Henley's boat was returning, or if any other boat
or a raft might have escaped from the burning ship.  In vain we cast our
eyes on every side; a thick mist, caused by the driving spray, hung over
the ocean, and had any floating thing been on it, would have completely
hid it from our sight.  Sad, indeed, we felt as we two stood on that
high solitary peak rising up amid the Indian Ocean.

"I am afraid that they are all gone in," said Tommy after a long
silence.

"I do not despair, Tom," I answered.  "A raft would take a long time
driving from where the ship was burned to the island.  We will wait and
see what happens.  Perhaps we may get a better view from a lower point."

Accordingly we went down the hill, and walked along the high ground
above the beach, looking out from every spot among the trees where we
could get a clear sight of the sea.  As the sun rose his rays penetrated
through the mist, but still no boat could we see; there was nothing
before us but dark, leaden waves, with white crests and sheets of foam
blown like driving snow from off them.  We returned, therefore, with sad
hearts to the embers of the fire, where we cooked some turtle and drank
some cocoa-nut milk for breakfast.  Our hearts, I believe, were grateful
that we had been preserved from the destruction which we believed had
overtaken our companions.  After recruiting our strength, we again
climbed up to a high point in the neighbourhood, where we sat for a long
time without speaking, watching the foaming ocean, with Solon crouching
at our feet.  Suddenly Solon sprung up, and looked seaward with his head
and neck stretched out to the utmost.  Tom and I gazed eagerly in the
same direction.  After looking for a little time I caught sight of a
black spot amid the white crests of the waves.  It seemed like a mere
speck.  I should have thought that it was merely a man's head or hat, or
nothing larger than a cask.  After searching about for some time I
brought my glass to bear on it.  It was a boat, and a large one; it
seemed full of men.  I could scarcely hope that it was Mr Henley's.  On
she came.  Some of the men appeared to be rowing, but there was a small
sail set--a mere table-napkin it seemed.  Still we had a prospect of
having companions, and if the boat was as large as I fancied, we might
be able to get away in her from the island.  We hurried down to the
beach.  If Mr Henley was in the boat he would make, we knew, for the
opening in the reef; but if there were only strangers to the place we
could not tell where they might steer for.  We did our best, therefore,
to make signs to them to keep for the opening, but our telegraphing was
not, we feared, received or understood, for the boat ran on directly
towards a part of the reef over which the sea was breaking with especial
fury.  We waved, we shouted, we made every sign we could possibly think
of to warn the unhappy people of their danger.  They could scarcely have
seen us, much less could they have heard our voices amidst the wild
turmoil of waters.

"O Tom, how dreadful!"  I exclaimed.  Now the boat was lifted up by the
seas, now she was hid among the foaming surf.  I scarcely think that
those on board were aware of their danger.

In an instant more we saw that they would be on the reef.  Down we
rushed to the wreck.  It was scarcely possible that the boat could wash
over it.  We reached the edge of the calmer water of the lagoon inside
the reef, but even there the waves came rolling up with considerable
force, sufficient, at all events, to carry us off our legs had we
ventured within their power.  We looked eagerly for the hapless boat.
She might still be concealed by the masses of white surf which flew high
up in the air.  We looked in vain.  At last we saw some dark objects
tossed up and down among the breakers.  Now one, now another was cast
over the reef, but whether they were human beings or merely fragments of
the wreck we could not at first tell.  We watched--now we saw an arm
lifted up, then a head emerged from the foam--there could be no longer
any doubt about the matter.  At last we could almost see the features of
the unfortunate wretches.  Had it even been smoother in the lagoon we
had no means of going out to the assistance of our drowning
fellow-creatures.  Oh, how dreadful it was to see people thus perishing
before our eyes and to be unable to assist them!  Still we could not
withdraw our gaze from the spot where we had last seen the boat.
Presently a larger wave than any of the previous ones came rolling in.
As it broke several pieces of the wreck seemed as it were to fall out of
it.  To one of them a human form was by some means secured, but whether
it was that of a living or a dead person we could not tell.  He
appeared, at all events, to be making no effort to save himself.  He was
at first washed some way across the lagoon, and then carried swiftly
back again.  It became soon evident that if not already drowned he very
soon would be, when Solon, who had been earnestly watching what was
taking place, uttering a loud bark, plunged fearlessly into the waves,
and swam boldly out towards him.  The next wave again set him in.  Solon
with wonderful sagacity at that moment seized his arm, and directing his
course towards the shore, brought him within our reach before the force
of the wave had time to force him out again.  Tom and I rushed in, and
grasping his clothes, ran with him with all our might up the beach, and
placed him beyond the power of the waves before the next rolled in on
us.

"Why, it is Dr Cuff!" exclaimed Tom.

So it was, indeed, but till that moment I had not observed the man's
features.  Now, as I looked at his pallid countenance, with a blue tinge
over it, and saw that his eyes were closed and teeth clenched, I feared
that he was indeed gone.  We took off his neckcloth, and I bethought me
of putting some of the hot white sand round his feet, and some on his
stomach, which I rubbed gently, while Tom brought some grass and leaves,
which we placed under his head.  While we were thus employed Solon
dashed again into the water, and we saw that he had seized another
person who was clinging to an oar.  We discovered a third also
struggling in the waves.  We waited till Solon had brought the person of
whom he had now got hold within our reach, and then, leaving Dr Cuff
for a moment, we rushed down to his assistance.  Solon, the moment he
had given him into our charge, darted off to the relief of the other
drowning men.  We at once recognised the man he had now rescued as one
of the crew of the _Orion_.  We dragged him up out of the reach of the
sea, and hurried back to resume our efforts to resuscitate Dr Cuff, for
the sailor, though unconscious, gave evident signs of life.  While we
were rubbing away at the doctor's body, every now and then looking to
see if an eyelid moved, and feeling if his heart beat, we kept watching
Solon's proceedings.  Wearied by his previous exertions, he swam out to
the struggling person, who was further off than the other two had been,
and, waiting till he had ceased to fling his arms about, he seized him
by the collar, and swam on towards the beach.  The man seemed to float
much lighter than had either of the other two, and the cause of this we
discovered, when we got hold of him, to be owing to a life-buoy round
his waist.  He would, however, notwithstanding this, have been drowned,
had not Solon gone to his assistance, and had we not been ready to drag
him up the beach, for he was quite unconscious when we got hold of him,
and unable to help himself.  On looking at his face I discovered that he
was my messmate Sills.  Believing that he would soon recover without our
help, we again returned to the doctor.  We rubbed and rubbed away with
the greatest energy, till Tom said he felt that there was some warmth
coming back into the body.  I felt the same, and this encouraged us to
persevere, till at length, to our great joy, the doctor partly opened
his eyes and looked up at us.

"He's alive! he's alive!" cried Tom, clapping his hands.

At last he sat up and looked about him, trying to recover his power of
thinking, and to ascertain what had happened.

"Thank you, lads, thank you," were the first words he uttered; "I see
what you have done for me.  Now go and help those other two who have
been saved.  They will want your aid.  I will come presently and assist
you, when I am a little stronger.  But, lads, where is Mr Henley and
the others who were left here with you?"

I did not like to agitate him by telling him that I feared they were
lost, so I said that they were not on that part of the island.

We had some difficulty in recovering Sills and the seaman, but at length
they came entirely to themselves.  The seaman took all that had happened
to him as a matter of course, but Sills seemed to be somewhat horrified
when he found how narrowly he had himself escaped death, and that so
many of his companions had lost their lives.  When all the party were
sufficiently recovered to walk, we set off for our huts, which were at
no great distance.  I felt very sad, for the doctor told me that they
had seen nothing of Mr Henley's boat, so that I feared she must have
foundered without even reaching the _Orion_.  He said that he fully
believed the burning of the ship was a judgment on those who had
deserted us.  He had little doubt, from what afterwards transpired, that
treachery was from the first intended us, though, ill as he thought of
the captain and first mate, yet he could not, when he saw us leaving the
ship, believe that they would be guilty of such an atrocity.

During the day they had abused us for not returning, though they did not
propose to fire a gun, or to make any other signal to recall us; and
when night came on the first mate observed that he concluded we should
not attempt to come back till the morning, but that he would keep a
bright look-out for us.  This disarmed any suspicions which were rising
in the doctor's mind, and he turned in, expecting to see us soon after
daybreak.  What, then, was his astonishment, on going on deck, to find
the ship under all sail, standing away from the island, and to be told
that we had not come back.  The captain might have been a party to the
act, but he was already perfectly tipsy, and could make no coherent
remark; and when the first mate came on deck, he said that the ship had
been driven off the island by a sudden squall, and that he had no doubt
our boat had been swamped in attempting to come off.  The doctor had in
vain entreated him to beat back, and to send another boat on shore to
ascertain our fate.  He made all sorts of excuses, till at length when
the island could no longer be seen the _Orion_ was once more becalmed.
The doctor said that he endeavoured to get a boat, and, in spite of the
heat and the distance, offered to pull back to look for us; but the
first mate refused, and at length grew perfectly furious on his
persisting in making the offer.  At dinner the first mate drank more
wine and spirits even than usual, and towards the evening was in no
better a condition than the captain.

At this juncture dense masses of smoke were seen to burst suddenly out
of the captain's cabin.  The crew, part of whom were below, and part
lying about the decks nearly asleep, were hurriedly summoned to
extinguish the flames, but they obeyed lazily.  The third mate got
completely bewildered, and gave nothing but contradictory orders, so
that the fire had taken complete possession of the whole after-part of
the ship before any strenuous efforts were made to extinguish it.  Some
few of the men exerted themselves to the utmost, under the doctor's
orders, but the greater number did nothing effectual, for want of being
properly directed.  At length he saw that there was no possible chance
of saving the ship, and called all those he could get to obey him to
lower a boat, that they might endeavour to preserve their lives.  What
was his dismay to find just then a heavy squall strike the ship; but her
after-rigging being already burned, while her head sails were all set,
she paid off before the wind.  Away she flew.  In what direction they
were going no one could tell.  To lower a boat with any chance of saving
her from being swamped seemed now impossible, when suddenly the squall
ceased.  The opportunity was taken advantage of, the boat was lowered,
and he with about a dozen more leaped into her.  The mast was stepped
and the sail hoisted, and the gale once more commencing with far greater
fury than before, away flew the boat over the foaming waves.  Few if any
could have remained alive on board the _Orion_ after they had left her.
Some thought that a boat or a raft had been launched, by which means the
rest might have prolonged their lives.

The doctor concluded his account by saying that when morning came and he
saw the distant line of breakers ahead, he had given up all hopes of
their lives being saved; and when he had first opened his eyes on the
sand, while Tom and I were by his side, he had not expected to find
himself still an inhabitant of this world.

Solon ran alongside us and licked the doctor's hand, and seemed highly
delighted at having been the means of saving him; and I believe that the
doctor was very grateful to him for what he had done.

We soon had a fire lighted.  I had a box of lucifers, and also a
burning-glass.  The latter no one should be without in those regions
where the sun is always shining in the day, as a light can thus be
instantly produced.  Some turtle was quickly cooked, and the strength of
all the party was much restored.  After this they lay down, as did Tom
and I, and we all went to sleep.  It was evening before I awoke, when,
accompanied by Solon, I went up to the rock to look out for Mr Henley's
boat.  After sweeping my glass round in every direction, I returned,
sick at heart, to our hut.  Indeed, as I gazed over that stormy sea, I
felt that there was but little chance of a frail boat such as she was
escaping its fury.  The doctor slept all the night, but I was sorry to
find the next morning that he appeared weak and ill.  He said that he
felt he had received some severe injury from being dashed against the
rocks.  He could still walk about a little, though evidently with much
pain.  For several days I observed no change either for the better or
the worse on our kind doctor.  He probably knew what was the matter with
himself, and I suspect that his sufferings were aggravated by being
aware of the medicines which might have benefited him, and having none
to take.  I sat and walked with the doctor for the greater part of each
day.  He could do little more, however, than stroll out on the beach and
gaze with anxious eyes over the sea, in the hope of catching sight of
some ship which might carry us away from our island.  Tom and I at other
times used to wander about and collect all the fruits, and roots, and
leaves of every description which we thought were likely to prove
wholesome for food, and when we brought them to him he was able to tell
us which were the most nutritive, and to point out to us those which
were poisonous.  I thus discovered the very great advantage of
possessing a thorough knowledge of botany, and wished that I had paid
more attention to the subject before I left home.  Strange as it may
seem, the days passed away very rapidly.  Tom and I had always an
abundance of work with which to employ ourselves.  The poor doctor
could, indeed, do little for himself, and Sills and Brown would do
nothing.  I had tried at first to make a companion of Sills, but after
the effect produced by his narrow escape had worn off, he became very
much what he had been before, and as now there was nobody over him, he
gave himself up to perfect idleness.  He and Brown, whom he made his
companion, found a leaf which, when dried, served the purpose of
tobacco, and from that time they spent the greater part of every day in
smoking and eating.  I induced them now and then at night to get up and
turn a turtle, which gave us fresh meat when we grew tired of our salted
and dried provisions.  They seemed to have no wish to leave the island.
"We have nothing to do and plenty to eat--what more do we want?" said
Sills, throwing himself back on the grass, when one day I asked him to
take his turn in looking out for any ships which might be passing.  "For
my part, I am ready to remain here till I want a new rig out; it will
then be time enough to think of getting away."

I could make no reply to such a senseless answer.

In a short time, however, he and Brown got tired of their daily fare of
turtle, and the latter proposed to try and get some fish.  Though idle,
Brown was not destitute of ingenuity.  He first set to work, and out of
some nails which he drew from a plank washed on shore, he manufactured
several very good hooks, his chief tool being a file which he had in his
knife.  He soon, also, found several fibrous plants from which he made
some strong, and yet fine lines.  Among the things left by Mr Henley
was an axe: with this two trees were cut down, and a sort of double
canoe, or rather raft, was constructed.  The fanlike leaves of the palm
served for paddles.  Brown and Sills insisted on going off together,
though Tom and I would have much liked to have accompanied them.  They
only proposed, however, to fish inside the reef.  The doctor charged
them, as they were shoving off, not to get carried outside, and to
beware of being capsized, for fear of sharks.  They laughed and said
that they knew very well how to take care of themselves.  We watched
them paddling about, and at times, it seemed, catching a good many fish.
At length they returned on shore.

"Well, you see, doctor, we were not capsized or eaten by sharks,
notwithstanding all your prognostications!" exclaimed Sills as he jumped
on shore.

"I am truly glad to find it," answered the doctor, examining the fish
just caught; "but let me assure you, if you eat those fish, in a few
hours hence it will make but little difference to you; they are without
scales, and of a highly poisonous character."

"I don't believe that, doctor," answered Sills, with a foolish laugh.
"Brown says he has eaten them a hundred times and not been the worse for
them, so I'm not afraid."

"Brown may have eaten the same fish in other latitudes, or at different
times of the year; but from my knowledge of them I should advise you not
to touch them, or at all events eat but a very small portion at a time,
and see what effects it produces."

After this warning I could not have supposed it possible that Sills
would have neglected to follow the doctor's advice; but in a short time
I saw him and Brown light a fire, and proceed to cook the fish over it.
We had manufactured some flour from one of the palms we had cut down,
and with this and some salt they made a hearty meal.  Having cooked a
further supply they brought it to us.

"Come--nonsense, take some of this, old fellows," exclaimed Sills,
holding out a toasted fish at the end of a stick.  "We are not a bit the
worse for it, you see;--it's very rich and luscious, let me tell you."

"I trust you are right, but wait a few hours; the effects are not likely
to be immediate," answered the doctor gravely.  He told me at the same
time to boil some salt water, and to heat several large flat stones--the
only remedies he could think of in his power to apply, should the fish
prove poisonous.

Finding that none of us would eat any of the fish, Sills returned to
Brown and sat smoking and talking for an hour or more.  Some hours had
passed after they had eaten the fish, when we saw Sills approaching the
hut looking dreadfully ill, and scarcely able to crawl along.

"O doctor, doctor, I am dying--I know I am.  I wish that I had done as
you told me," he exclaimed in a feeble voice.  "There is Brown, he is
still worse; he ate more than I did, and was unable to come here."

On hearing this we dosed the poor fellow with hot salt water, and put
the hot bricks to his stomach and feet, and then Tom and I ran on with
our remedies and applied them to Brown, whom we found in dreadful pain,
and looking as if he wag dying.  I believe both of them would have died
had not the salt water made them very sick, while the hot stones
restored their suspended circulation.  Still, I would advise no one to
depend on such remedies under similar circumstances.  They got better;
but still for many days were subject to racking pains, and remained weak
and ill.  While they were in this state, one morning, as Tom and I were
at the top of the peak taking our usual survey of the horizon, in the
hopes of a vessel appearing in sight, we saw a white speck to the
westward, the rays of the sun glancing brightly on it as it rose above
the blue sea.  At first I thought that it was a sea-fowl flying between
us and the horizon; but, after a more steady look, I shouted--"A sail! a
sail!"  There could be no doubt about it, but still I remembered that it
might not come near us.  However, I watched and watched anxiously, and
it rose higher and higher above the horizon, and was evidently gliding
on towards the island.  When I had ascertained this to a certainty, I
ran down with the good news to the doctor, for I thought that it would
raise his spirits.  He had been much depressed and rather worse, I
feared, lately.

"She may touch here and relieve us, but we must not be too sanguine," he
replied, with a faint smile.  "I have ceased to hope for any improvement
in my health or strength, and doubt if I should even survive a voyage."

By this remark I guessed how ill the doctor thought himself.  I hoped,
however, that from being out of spirits he might fancy himself even
worse than he was.  Again Tom and I went up to the peak.  I was
surprised to find how fast the stranger had come on.  I made out that
she was a large square topsail schooner.  On she stood, making directly,
and evidently purposely, for the island.

"Could it be possible that Mr Henley or any of the crew of the _Orion_
have escaped and given information of our being left on the island?"  I
thought to myself.

With this feeling we could not help regarding the stranger as a friend.
We waited, watching her till she got quite close, then heaving to, to
leeward of the island, a boat was lowered from her side.  On seeing this
we ran down to the beach to welcome those coming on shore.  They clearly
knew the place, for they made directly for the opening in the reef.  As
I looked through my glass at them, they appeared to be a very rough set,
exhibiting various coloured specimens of the race of man.  I did in no
way like their looks.  As soon as the boat touched the beach they jumped
out, and seemed very much surprised at seeing Tom and me.  Much greater
was mine, on regarding attentively the officer of the boat, to discover
that he was no other than the pretended cobbler who had been a passenger
on board the _Orion_, Any doubt I might have had was put to flight by
seeing Solon run up to him and bark, as much as to say, "I have seen you
before;" then he turned round and growled at two other men of the crew.
This drew my attention towards them, and I soon recognised Cobb and
Clink, two of the chief mutineers on board the ill-fated ship.  They, of
course, at once recognised us, and Mr Barwell, or, as I found his
people call him, Captain Hansleig, began to make inquiries about her.
When I told him of the fate which had overtaken her, his reply was--

"I thought so.  A drunken captain and mate are pretty certain to lose
their ship before long; my only surprise is that she got as far as
this."

As we walked along to the huts, he told me what a fine craft he had got,
and how successful he had been, but he did not say how she was employed.
In the meantime the men who followed us had been talking to Tommy in
the same strain.  Sills and Brown were evidently well pleased at seeing
them, and at once asked Captain Hansleig if he would take them off the
island.  This he said at once that he would do, if they chose to enter
on board his craft, but that he could not undertake to carry passengers.
They without hesitation accepted his offer, saying that they liked the
look of his craft, and the roving commission which he had told them he
held.  The doctor received them very coldly, and seemed in no way
pleased at their appearance.  He seized the first moment that they were
out of hearing to warn me against them.

"Depend on it, that if they are not pirates they are little better--
slave carriers and men kidnappers," he said with an earnest tone.  "Have
nothing whatever to do with them."

Before he had time to say more they returned.  I managed to whisper to
Tom to reply that he would do just what the doctor and I did.  As we
expected, Captain Hansleig soon after turned to us and said--

"I suppose, doctor, you and the lads will join us.  I have a berth open
for you, and for Marsden there, also; he shall be fourth mate soon if he
is as attentive as he used to be on board the _Orion_."

"Thank you for your offer," answered Dr Cuff; "I am too ill to do any
duty, and prefer remaining where I am.  Marsden and the boy must speak
for themselves."

"Thank you for your offer," I answered bluntly, "but I have made up my
mind to remain with Dr Cuff, and I hope Tom Bigg will stay by me."

Captain Hansleig seemed somewhat annoyed at this reply.  "Why, what do
you think of me and my craft that you refuse to join us?" he asked.

"Provided a person does nothing to offend, really he cannot be called on
to express his thoughts," observed the doctor.  "It is enough to tell
you that Marsden is anxious to reach Ceylon, and unless you are going
there it is a sufficient reason rarely for his declining to join your
vessel."

Dr Cuff spoke in so calm and yet so resolute a tone that the reply
seemed fully to satisfy Captain Hansleig.

"Well, every man to his taste," he answered, "If you prefer living on in
this desolate spot, I'll not force you away.  Only I warn you that it is
very little known, and very many months may pass before any other vessel
may touch here.  I happened to be in want of a supply of turtle, and
cocoanuts, and fresh water, or I should not have come near the place."

I told him that I should abide by my first decision, and he did not
press the matter further.  The slaver traffickers, as the doctor called
them, or pirates, as I suspect they also deserved to be called, spent a
whole day and two nights on the island.  The nights they employed in
catching turtles--the days in carrying them on board, and in procuring
cocoa-nuts.  I observed that they made Sills and Brown work as hard as
themselves, ill as they still were from the effects of the fish they had
eaten.  I doubted, indeed, whether either of them could recover, they
looked so wretchedly ill when they went on board.  We could, however,
have done them no good had they remained; and though it was satisfactory
to see them and their new associates take their departure, yet I could
not help feeling a pang of regret as I saw the vessel once more spread
her sails and stand away to the southward.

The doctor, Tom, and I, were thus left alone on that solitary isle.  It
soon also became evident to me that the former would soon be taken from
us.  He had long thought so himself.  One day he called me to him, and
begged me to write, on a blank page of the journal I had brought from
the ship to use as a sketch-book, according to his dictation.  I found
that I was drawing up a short will, by which he bequeathed all his
little property to some sisters in England, with his devoted love.  He
signed it, and Tom and I witnessed his signature.  There was no power of
making his will more valid.  By this I knew that he himself did not
expect to live many days.  He had been latterly spending his entire time
in prayer and in giving good advice to Tom and me, and also in reading
the Bible, a small copy of which he constantly carried in his pocket.
He was a highly scientific man, and as a surgeon first rate; and he was,
as I have found many such, at the same time a sincere Christian.  I owe
much to his counsels and exhortations, and if, as some may observe, a
vein showing a mind turned to serious thoughts run through my journal, I
am much indebted to him for it.  Scarcely did I think as I was drawing
out his simple will how soon that voice would cease to sound.

Tom and I slept in his hut, and one of us always kept awake that we
might in a moment render him any assistance he might require.  I had
just been awoke by Tom, who whispered that he thought the doctor was
worse.  Just then we heard him in a feeble voice uttering a few words of
prayer.  He was silent.  We thought he was asleep.  For some time we
waited, then we went to his side and took his hand.  It was icy cold,
and fell down again on the leafy couch we had formed for him.  Then we
knew that he was indeed gone from us.  We both sat down and cried
heartily.  Daylight came, and we closed his glassy eyes.  We knew that
we must bury him soon.  We dug his grave in the sand with bits of board,
and having taken his watch and other things which he had about him, that
we might deliver them to his friends should we ever reach home, we
buried him in it, and then once more sat down and cried as before.

We, however, soon recollected nearly the last advice he gave us.  It was
to read some of the Bible every day we remained on the island, and never
to give up the practice elsewhere as long as we lived.  Not only did we
read a chapter at a time, but we were reading it constantly and talking
about it.  In time it formed the chief--indeed, nearly the only subject
of our conversation, and a most delightful one we found it.  I certainly
before that time could not have supposed that I could have become so
deeply interested in the subject; but I am certain that anybody who
firmly believes in it as the result of divine inspiration, who will give
up his mind to its study, and who feels the unspeakable comfort it is
capable of affording, will agree with me that no other book, ancient or
modern, can in the remotest degree be compared to it.  Too many people
read it merely as a matter of conscience.  They skim over a chapter at a
time with very little thought or reflection.  Even that way may be
better than neglecting it altogether, but surely that is not the way a
book with consequences so immeasurably important depending on the truths
it promulgates deserves to be read.

On the death of our kind friend I had fancied it was one of the greatest
misfortunes that could have happened to us to be left alone on the
island, but I soon discovered that it was an especial blessing.  I
should never otherwise, perhaps, have become so well acquainted with
God's holy Word as I did at that time.  At first we had been inclined to
regret at times that we had not all gone away in the schooner, and run
the chance of being landed at a portion of some civilised country or
other.  Now we were every day more and more thankful that we had done
what was right, and had not consorted with the wicked.  We could not
help remarking, also, how everything had occurred to produce results the
most favourable to us.  By the departure of Mr Henley and his
companions we were left to our own resources, and taught to seek
strength and support from above.  By the arrival of Dr Cuff, a Bible
was brought us, while he, as a friend, gave us counsel the most
important, and set us a beautiful example of the calmness and
resignation of a true Christian.  From Sills and Brown's going away,
those who might have tempted us to do evil, or at all events, to be
idle, were removed; and at length, when fitted for solitude, and with
our minds attuned aright from our previous training, we were left once
more alone to employ ourselves in the way most advantageous to us.

Every Christian man who will carefully trace God's dealings with him
will perceive that events which may at first have appeared prejudicial
to him, have been directed for his benefit, and that many which he at
the time thought misfortunes have ultimately proved, without doubt, to
have been the greatest of blessings.  Such is the result of my own
experience, and I feel that I am bound to bear faithful testimony to
what I know to be the truth.  Would that all who read these pages could
make up their minds once and for ever to do the same.



CHAPTER TEN.

A STRANGE SAIL--WE CONCEAL OURSELVES--MORE VISITORS--OLD FRIENDS--EMBARK
ON BOARD A MAN-OF-WAR--KINDNESS OF HER OFFICERS--LAND AT POINT DE
GALLE--A NEW FRIEND--SCENES IN CEYLON--SKETCH OF THE HISTORY OF THE
ISLAND--COLOMBO.

Had I not kept a careful diary, we should very soon have lost all note
of time, the events of one day were so very similar to those of another.
Every day, however, we took a long walk, so that we thoroughly explored
the island from end to end.  There was scarcely a tree, or a shrub, or a
plant on it which we had not noted.  We were constantly reminded of the
benefit the kind doctor had been to us by pointing out the noxious and
the wholesome plants; and as in most instances there is a marked
difference between the tribes, when we found a new plant we were able at
once to tell to which it belonged.  Strange as to some it may seem, the
time was a very happy one.  I never felt weary; the day never appeared
too long.  I ought to have said that one of my many sources of amusement
was instructing Tommy.  I very much improved his reading and his
writing; and he was so anxious to learn, and intelligent, and attentive,
that it was a real pleasure to teach him.

Thus not only weeks but months passed by.  In that latitude we enjoyed
an almost perpetual summer, so that there was no change of seasons to
mark the lapse of time.  We kept our health for all that period, and
neither of us ever had a moment's illness.  How different would have
been the case, however, had we not benefited by Dr Cuff's instructions,
and had the example of Sills and Brown not been set before out eyes to
warn us from eating the fish which so nearly killed them!

At last one day, as I was running down from the top of the peak, I put
my foot in a hole, and fell to the ground.  When I tried to stand, I
found that I could not, and I had every reason to fear that I had broken
my ankle.  I had only Solon with me.  Tom was at the huts far out of
hearing.  I was suffering agonies.  Get there alone I could not.  Solon
looked up affectionately in my face, as much as to say, "Master, what
shall I do?"

"Go and call Tom," I said, giving him my shoe.  He took it, and off he
went as fast as he could gallop.

I groaned with pain as I lay on the ground.  I had not long to wait.  I
soon heard Tom shouting and Solon barking.  My dog quickly led the way
to where I lay.  Tom had understood what had happened, and had brought
two sticks to serve as crutches.  Even with these I had great difficulty
in reaching the huts.  Tenderly as a brother Tom nursed me day after
day.  By bathing my ankle with cold water inflammation was kept down,
and to my great satisfaction I at last discovered that though I had
given it a violent wrench no bones were broken.  I had nearly recovered,
though still unable to walk to any distance, when one day Tom came
rushing down from the peak almost breathless with haste, and crying
out--

"Mr Marsden--Mr Marsden, a sail in sight! a sail in sight!  She is
standing this way from the eastward, and will be off the island in an
hour or so."

My breath came quickly; my heart leaped in my bosom as I heard these
words.

"At length we may be released.  I may continue my search for poor
Alfred, and again get news from home."

These and similar thoughts crowded into my head.  Then, again, it
occurred to me, perhaps, after all, the approaching vessel may be only
the slaver, or some craft of a similar character.  We may be forced to
go in her, and at all events we shall be deprived of some of our
cocoa-nuts.  I hurried out to meet Tommy, for I was able to walk pretty
well, and told him my fears.

"Then, sir, I think the best thing we can do is to hide and see what
sort of people they are before we show ourselves," he observed.

I agreed with him, but remarked that, if the strangers came into our
huts, they would at once discover marks of our having lately occupied
them, and hunt about till they had found us.  We set to work, therefore,
to remove as far as we could all traces of ourselves.  We had pretty
well succeeded in doing this when the stranger came round the point of
the island where we were.  She was a ship, with taunt masts, square
yards, and very white canvas.

"I do not know what to make of her; she has a very rakish look, and is
not a bit like a merchantman," I observed, as I glanced at her through
my glass.  "Why, I believe she is a man-of-war," I exclaimed, after a
more attentive look.  "Yes, that she is, and there up goes the glorious
flag of Old England at her peak.  Hurrah, they expect to find some one
here, or they would not have hoisted their flag.  They are lowering a
boat.  See, she is making direct for the passage between the reefs.
They must have been here before.  Who can they be?"

Such were the words to which I gave expression, on first seeing what I
believed to be a vessel come to our rescue.  We set off to hasten to the
spot where the boat could best land, but on our way the former feeling
of doubt and mistrust came over us, and we agreed that it would be more
prudent to hide till we had ascertained to a greater certainty the
character of the stranger.  Calling Solon to keep close behind, we
retreated to a spot a little up the hill, where we could securely
conceal ourselves behind a mass of rock and thick underwood, whence, at
the same time, we had a good view of the landing-place.

"Silence, Solon, silence, good dog," I whispered, as he crouched down at
my side uttering, at the same time, a low stifled bark and growl as he
eyed the approach of the boat, and seemed disposed to resent the
intrusion of strangers.

In a quarter of an hour, or less, the boat, a large gig, touched the
land, and six or eight people stepped out of her.  Without stopping to
look about them, they made directly for the huts.  They were in uniform.
Others were dressed as men-of-war men, and one was in plain clothes.
Solon had planted his fore-feet on the rock, and was looking down at
them.  Presently, forgetting all my injunctions, he uttered a loud bark,
and bounded off down the hill towards them, whisking his tail and giving
other signs of pleasure.  The person in plain clothes turned round, and,
as he leaped up on his shoulders, welcomed him by patting his head and
shaking him by the paws.  I put my glass to my eye, and looked
attentively at him.

"Why, Tom, it is Mr Henley," I exclaimed.

The next instant, forgetting my lameness, we were running down the hill
as fast as our legs could carry us, and most cordially were we welcomed
by Mr Henley and the officers of the ship in which he had come.  Johnny
Spratt was also there.  He had entered on board the man-of-war as a
seaman.  He at once took charge of Tommy.

I can but afford a brief notice of the account Mr Henley gave me of his
escape.  After leaving the island, long before he could reach the
burning ship, the gale caught him and he was driven by it away from the
land.  The utmost that could be done was to keep the boat directly
before the seas, and they soon lost all hope of being able to rescue any
one from the burning wreck, while every moment they themselves expected
to founder.  At length, through the darkness, they saw a huge mass
bearing down upon them.  They shouted and shrieked.  Their voices were
mercifully heard through the gale by those on board the ship.  Sail was
immediately shortened.  She was hove to.  At that very moment the wind
ceased, preparatory to another blow, when it changed its direction, and
they were enabled to get safely on board.  The ship proved to be a large
Indiaman, with a number of passengers on board; and the captain said
that he could not venture to heave to, even with the prospect of the
gale abating, to enable them to return to the island in the morning.
The burning ship was seen a long way astern, and he spoke of the great
responsibility he felt of delaying his voyage, even for the time
necessary to beat up to her.  Still, he could not bear the thought of
allowing any of his fellow-creatures to perish without endeavouring to
rescue them.  The ship was hauled on a wind under close reefed topsails,
and stood towards the burning ship.  When, however, little more than
half a mile off she was seen to blow up, and instantly the spot where
she had been was shrouded in darkness.  They sailed over it and across
it several times, but not a sign of a boat or raft could be discovered.
Once more, therefore, the Indiaman stood on her course; and Mr Henley
still remained uncertain whether or not the _Orion_ was the ship which
was burned.  The Indiaman touched at Point de Galle, in Ceylon, to land
passengers, and here Mr Henley and his three companions went on shore,
and, reporting himself to the authorities, endeavoured to obtain a
vessel to come to the island to take us off.  Some of the passengers of
the Indiaman had supplied him with the means of existence, and
introduced him to several of the merchants at Point de Galle, or he
would not have been able to remain there.  Week after week passed, and
though ships appeared there was some other employment for them.  Happily
for us Mr Henley was a man who, having once promised to do a thing, did
his very utmost to fulfil it.

At length, after waiting many months, the _Star_ corvette, Captain
Armstrong, came in.  He gladly undertook to visit the island and to
bring us off; which he accordingly did, and landed us in Ceylon.
Captain Armstrong, who was one of the officers we had seen, was a very
kind man, and seemed much interested in the account we gave of all that
had happened to us.

I had seen a number of beautiful spots during my voyage, but Galle was
by far the most interesting and picturesque which I had yet visited.  As
we approached the land we caught sight of Adam's Peak, with its summit
enveloped in clouds, and then by degrees the old forts, built as a
defence to the city, on rocks rising out of the sea, blue as sapphire,
appeared before us, with the bright yellow sand fringed with palm-trees
bending over the water, while the ground behind was covered with flowers
of the most brilliant hues; and beyond, again, rose hills of graceful
shapes, clothed to their summits with forests of perennial green; and,
further still, range beyond range of purple and blue mountains, rising
one above the other till lost in the distance.  It struck me as being a
very strong place, all the fortifications being almost entirely
surrounded by water.  There are two harbours--an outer and an inner one.
The _Star_ came to anchor in the outer one, among a number of vessels
of all sorts of curious rigs--the petamars of Malabar, the dhows of the
Arabs, the dhoneys of Coromandel, and curious sea boats from the Maldive
and Laccadive islands.

The captain, knowing how anxious I was to prosecute my search for
Alfred, invited me and Mr Henley to accompany him at once on shore.  I
parted from the officers with much regret, all expressing themselves
most kindly towards me, especially the midshipmen, who invited me, if I
was able, at any time to take a cruise with them, and I assured them
that I should be very glad to accept their offer if I could do so.  I
had fortunately kept my pocket-book about me when I left the _Orion_, in
which were my letters of introduction, so that, besides having gained
the friendship of the officers of the _Star_, I did not land as a
stranger in Ceylon, but had the means of forming numerous acquaintances,
whom I hoped would render me the assistance I so much required.  I had
also, according to kind Mr Ward's advice, kept the gold he had given me
about my person, so that when I landed I did not feel that I was
altogether dependent on the charity of strangers; but I did not forget
that it was necessary, at the same time, to husband my resources to the
utmost.  Of course, my clothes were almost in rags when I was taken off
the island, but my friends, the midshipmen of the _Star_, had rigged me
out completely while I was on board, and supplied me with the luxury of
clean linen, which I had not enjoyed for a long time.  I had so many
matters of interest to mention during my stay on the island, that I did
not describe how Tom and I had to wash our shirts, and to sit without
them while they were drying, and to mend our clothes and shoes with bits
of sail-cloth, and how we made hats of leaves; indeed, we looked very
much like two young Robinson Crusoes by the time we went on board the
_Star_.  I was now comfortably dressed, but as I had no right to wear a
naval uniform, I was anxious to get a suit of plain clothes as soon as
possible.  I should have said that we had given Captain Armstrong a full
description of the slaver which had visited our island, and of Captain
Hansleig, and he said that he should keep a sharp look-out for him, and
try to ascertain his haunts that he might catch him if he could.
Passing under the frowning batteries of the old fortifications, we
landed at a handsome wharf among a crowd of people of various tints,
from the white skin of the European to the ebon one of the sons of
Africa, and habited in every variety of Eastern costume--Englishmen in
white dresses wisely shading their heads under japanned umbrellas;
Parsees, Chinese, Caffres, and Chetties from the coast of Coromandel,
wearing prodigious ear-rings, and with most peculiar head-dresses; then
there were Malays, Malabars, and Moors, Buddhist priests in yellow
robes; Moodhars, Mohandirams, and other native chiefs, habited in richly
embroidered dresses with jewelled swords and pistols.

At first I thought that there were a number of women standing about, for
the people, I saw, had their hair drawn back off their foreheads and
fastened up in a bunch behind, with a large comb stuck in it, while they
wore what looked very like petticoats.  Captain Armstrong laughed at a
remark made to him on the subject, and assured me that they were men,
and they were dressed in the usual style of the country, which had
probably existed for many hundred years.  Their features are generally
delicate, and as many of them have no beards they have often a very
effeminate appearance.  The women dress much in the same way, and wear a
loose white muslin jacket which covers the body, and they seem to
delight in loading themselves with jewels.  The children, though dark
coloured, are especially handsome.  Even the principal houses, I
observed, consisted only of a ground floor, but of considerable height,
with latticed windows and tiled floors--a style which greatly conduced
to their coolness.  Not only is Galle surrounded by palm-trees, but far
as the eye can reach they are to be seen on every side; indeed, the
whole of the southern portion of the island is covered with them, and
their produce, in a variety of forms, are the chief articles of export
from the place.

Captain Armstrong said that he had to go and call on the governor, and
so Mr Henley undertook to accompany me while I left my letters of
introduction.

"But you must have some head-quarters where your friends may find you,"
observed Captain Armstrong; and he kindly took us to a hotel where he
introduced us, and laughing, said he would be answerable for our good
conduct.

"Remember," he said at parting, "I shall be glad to see you on board my
ship whenever you can come; and if you find your brother, tell him from
me that I have no doubt that he will be reinstated in the navy.  Certain
circumstances have come to my knowledge about that ship which make me
think this, while also no one now survives to bring any charges against
him."

I thanked the captain over and over again for his kindness, and more
especially for the encouraging remarks he had made about poor Alfred.
Indeed, this made me still more eager to try and discover him without
delay.  I was received fully as kindly as I expected by all the
merchants and other gentlemen to whom I had letters, and after I had
told them my adventures they offered me every assistance in their power.
My grandfather was known to most of them.  His estate was, I found, to
the north-east of Colombo, towards the interior of the country.  It
seemed very uncertain whether he was there or not.  None of them had
heard of my brother, but they told me that he had in all probability
landed at Colombo, and that I should be more likely to hear of him at
that place than at Galle.

I have not particularised the various people to whom I was made known at
Galle, but one of them, Mr Fordyce, a kind old gentleman, I must on no
account omit.  Indeed, he took even more interest in my object than did
my many other friends.  I have always found myself more attracted
towards old men than young ones.  When they are inclined to be kind they
are so very kind, and considerate, and thoughtful.  Mr Fordyce was
especially so.

He had been a clerk, without money or interest, but he had steadiness,
perseverance, and intelligence, and thus he rose to become junior
partner, and was now the head of the firm.  He had realised a handsome
independence with, which he intended to return home; but he was doing so
much good in the place with it that he could not be spared, and this he
himself could not help seeing also, so he had stayed and stayed on,
fortunately for me, till I went there.  He had travelled all over the
island, and knew as much about it as anybody in it.  He was thus able to
give me a great deal of interesting information, of which I did not fail
to profit.  After he had heard the account I gave of myself, he invited
me to take up my residence at his house.

"You must bring your dog too," he observed in a kind tone.  "We must
keep him in a cool place, and not let him run about in the hot sun, or
he will be killing himself.  And so you wish to set off to your
grandfather's property.  I think that I can help you there also.  A
young military friend of mine, Mr Nowell, is about to travel through
the country by way of Colombo to Trincomalee.  You may travel together,
much, I hope, to your mutual satisfaction.  He is a great sportsman,
and, very probably, during your journey, without being much delayed, you
will be able to see some elephant and buffalo hunting, and get, perhaps,
a shot at a deer and a wild boar or two."

I answered that I believed I should very much like to see the sport he
described, but that my experience was small in such matters.  I had to
return to the tailor's to let him fit on my clothes, and to tell him
where to send them to.

"I shall now leave you with perfect satisfaction, my dear Marsden," said
Mr Henley in a tone which showed his regard for me.  "I must now look
out for employment for myself, and have no doubt of finding it.  I do
not intend to leave these seas for some time, so that I hope we may fall
in with each before long.  One thing I promise you, that I will make
every inquiry I can for your brother; and should I gain any clue to him,
I will instantly write to Mr Fordyce, who will let you know what to do.
I had thought of proposing to leave Tommy Bigg with you, but I suspect
that in travelling through the country the little fellow would only be
an encumbrance to you, so I propose to take him with me, if he does not
break his heart at being separated from you."

We had left Tommy, who had come on shore with us, to look after _Solon_
at the inn.  He had thought that he was to accompany me; and when he
heard that I was unable to take him with me (which certainly I could not
have done), he burst into tears, and said that he should never see me
again, and begged and entreated that I would change my decision.  When,
however, Mr Henley told him that he would take charge of him, and that
he hoped to be of service to me by looking out for my brother, the
little fellow was at last comforted.

"It will be a pleasure indeed, Mr Marsden, if we can find out for you
where Mr Alfred has been carried to," he exclaimed, his countenance
lighting up with animation.  "I don't believe that he could go and hide
away from his best friends of his own accord, from all you have told me
of him--that I do not--no."

I thanked the honest-minded fellow from my heart for the good opinion he
had formed of my brother.  Right feeling himself, he at once intuitively
perceived how an honest, right-feeling person would act, and he divined,
therefore, that Alfred had not the power of communicating with his
family.

On parting from Mr Henley and Tom at the door of Mr Fordyce's house, I
found myself for the first time separated from all those with whom I had
left the shores of England.  I felt more alone than I had ever done
before, till I looked at Solon, and he wagged his tail and rubbed his
nose against my hand, as much as to say.  "Never mind, dear master, I
will stick to you to the last."

Mr Fordyce's residence was in the suburbs of Galle, on some high ground
surrounded by gardens overlooking the ocean.  I cannot describe the
number of plants and shrubs bearing the most gorgeously coloured flowers
which adorned it.  Everything was done to keep the house cool and airy,
with latticed windows, tiled floors, and high roof, such as I have
before described.  My kind host very soon made me thoroughly at home,
and I quickly forgot that I was separated from all my older friends.  At
dinner I met the young military officer, Mr Nowell, of whom Mr Fordyce
had spoken.  I was altogether very well pleased with him, though he did
not show out much at first.  He had a firm, independent manner, and a
mouth and eye which gave me a favourable opinion of his courage and
decision--qualities very important in a travelling companion in a
country full of wild beasts like Ceylon.  He was not, however, greatly
to my disappointment, to start for some days; but I found that in that
part of the world things are not to be done in a hurry, and if I
attempted it I should exemplify the proverb, "The greater haste the
worse speed."  I had no reason, indeed, to regret my stay with Mr
Fordyce, as I learned much more about the country than I should
otherwise probably have done.  He also lent me a horse, and made me ride
out every morning for two or three hours after sun-rise, and again in
the evening, to get into condition, as he said, for my journey.  He also
advised me to practise with my rifle.

"I do not wish you to become a mere lion or elephant killer, or to think
sporting superior to any other employment in life," he observed; "but in
this country a correct eye and a steady hand may often be of great
service to you, and they can only be obtained by practice."

Nowell coming in one day, and finding how I was employed was highly
delighted.

"You are just the sort of fellow I like to have with me," he exclaimed.
"You take to the work _con amore_.  It will not be my fault if we do not
have some good sport.  I like the look of that dog of yours too; for
though he has not, I suppose, been trained to this sort of sport, yet he
has evidently got so much sense in his head that I have no doubt he will
behave as you tell him."

I was as highly flattered with those encomiums passed on Solon as I was
with the compliments paid to myself.  As may be supposed, with renewed
zeal I continued the preparations for my journey.  For the greater part
of the day Mr Fordyce was at his counting-house; but I had the pleasure
of spending the mornings and evenings with him, when he gave me very
full descriptions of the country through which I was about to travel.

Ceylon is in shape like a ham, with the small end to the north.  At the
south-west end is Galle, further up on the west coast is Colombo, and on
the north-east coast is Trincomalee, all which are now the principal
British settlements, while Kandy, the late native capital, is situated
on elevated ground surrounded by mountains in the very centre of the
island.  A well-made road from Galle passes through Colombo and on to
Kandy, the native capital, thence it proceeds on to the sanatarium of
Neura-Ellia.  The country on either side of the high road is for the
most part highly cultivated, and would give a stranger an
over-favourable idea of it, for but a short distance off on either side
of it, especially as it advances north, dense jungles and forests are to
be found in a primeval state, full of wild beasts of every description.
The island is about 270 miles long and 145 wide.  It is divided into
five provinces--Central, Southern, Eastern, Western, and Northern.

A large portion of the southern province is covered with palm-trees; the
centre is a mountainous region, with magnificent scenery, crowned by the
lofty summit of Adam's Peak; while the low lands, where cultivation does
not extend, are overgrown with dense masses of forest and impenetrable
jungle.  This is the condition of the northern and a large portion of
the eastern province.  Kandy, the capital, is situated in the central
province, and in the high lands.  In the northern part of it are to be
found the newly-established coffee-plantations, which promise to be a
source of great wealth to the country.

The country is indebted to Sir Edward Barnes and to Major Skinner for
the fine roads which have been constructed in every direction, and have
so much tended to civilise the people, to open up its resources, and
thus to add to its material wealth, while they have enabled the British
with much less difficulty to maintain their authority over it.  From the
lofty mountains in the centre numerous rivers and streams flow down, and
thoroughly irrigate the greater part of this lovely island: indeed, it
may well be looked on as the Paradise of the East; for though, in the
low country, the climate is relaxing and enervating to European
constitutions, in the higher regions the air is bracing and exhilarating
in the extreme.

Next to the cocoa-nut and palm-trees, the chief vegetable production of
Ceylon is cinnamon, which grows both wild and cultivated wherever there
is sufficient moisture for its nourishment.  Bread-fruit and jack-fruit
trees grow in large quantities, so does cotton, the coffee-tree, the
sugar-cane, and tobacco.  Rice, cardamom, and the areca-nut are also
produced, while the Palmyra palm, teak, and numerous other woods
valuable for cabinet-making, grow in profusion.

With regard to wild beasts, in no part of the world are elephants finer
or more numerous; tigers are very formidable and destructive.  There are
savage wild boars, buffaloes, and elks of great size, besides other
sorts of deer; snakes are numerous, and some of them of great size, and
wild peacocks and other game are to be found in abundance in the higher
country.

The aborigines of Ceylon are supposed to have been of the same race as
the people of Dekkan.  They were demon and snake worshippers, and very
barbarous.  In the sixth century B.C. they were conquered by Wijayo, a
native of India, who first introduced Buddhism among them, which
religion was afterwards established by his successors.  From the vast
ruins and other gigantic works which are found scattered over the
country, there can be no doubt that Ceylon was for long inhabited by a
civilised and highly intelligent people.

Marco Polo visited it in the thirteenth century, and described it as the
finest country in the world.  In A.D. 1505 the Portuguese, having
doubled the Cape of Good Hope, arrived there, and found the country in a
declining state, owing to intestine wars and the invasion of foreign
enemies.  The Singhalese king besought their assistance, which having
afforded, they began in 1518 to fortify themselves in Colombo and Galle,
and finally possessed themselves of the greater part of the sea-coast,
shutting up the King of Kandy in the interior.  In 1632 the Dutch,
uniting with the King of Kandy, in their turn drove them out and held
the country, though engaged in constant hostilities with the natives
till 1796, when the British (Holland having fallen into the power of
France) took possession of Colombo, Galle, Trincomalee, and other towns
on the coast.  We, however, became involved, as had our predecessors, in
hostilities with the King of Kandy, and this led to the capture of his
capital in 1803.  We, however, allowed the king to retain nominal
possession of his capital till 1815, when, in consequence of his
repeated acts of cruelty, the chiefs invited us to depose him, and the
whole island has ever since been under British sway, except during a
serious insurrection which lasted from 1817 to 1819, and various other
less important attempts at insurrection which have happily without
difficulty been quelled.

Such was a rapid sketch Mr Fordyce one day gave me of the country at
large.  He remarked, however, that in his mind an especial interest is
attached to Galle.  He considered it the most ancient emporium of trade
existing in the world, for it was resorted to by merchant-ships at the
earliest dawn of commerce.  It was the "Kalah" at which the Arabians, in
the reign of the great Haroun Al-Raschid, met the trading junks of the
people of the Celestial Empire, and returned with their spices, gems,
and silks to Bassora.  It was visited by the Greeks and Romans, and by
the mariners of Egypt under the Ptolemies.  But still more interesting
is it from its being in all probability the Tarshish visited by the
ships of Solomon.  They were built, we are told, at Ezion-geber, on the
shores of the Red Sea.  The rowers coasted along the shores of Arabia
and the Persian Gulf, headed by an east wind.  Tarshish, the port to
which they were bound, was in an island governed by kings, and carrying
on an extensive foreign trade.  The voyage occupied three years in going
and returning, and the cargoes brought home consisted of gold and
silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks.  Ophir is supposed to have been
Malacca, whence ships brought gold to Tarshish.  The sacred books of the
Singhalese are even now inscribed on silver plates, particularised by
Jeremiah as an export of Tarshish.  Apes and pea-fowls are still found
in great numbers, while ivory must at that time have been even more
abundant than at present.

"Hurrah! old fellow," shouted Nowell one day, rushing into my room,
where he found me just as I had returned from my morning ride, and was
preparing for breakfast, "I have got my leave, and we are to be off
to-morrow morning.  Are you ready?"

"Of course I am, and could start this moment," I answered.  "All right,"
said he.  "We are to go as far as Kandy in a carriage, I find.  It will
not be so romantic, but far more comfortable in the hot weather.  After
that we shall get horses and tents, and then our fun will begin, I
hope."

Great was my pleasure to find that Mr Fordyce was going with us through
Kandy to Neura-Ellia, a station established as a sanatarium, 6000 feet
above the sea.  The next morning we found ourselves seated in a
primitive-looking vehicle, denominated a mail coach, which ran daily
between Galle and Colombo.  Nothing could be more beautiful than the
road.  We were literally travelling under an avenue, seventy miles long,
of majestic palm-trees, with an undergrowth of tropical shrubs bearing
flowers of the most gorgeous hues, and orchids and climbers hanging in
graceful wreaths to all the branches.  Birds of the gayest plumage,
gaudy butterflies, and insects with wings of metallic lustre, were seen
glancing in and out among the trees, while lizards of various hues ran
along the road, all adding to the brilliancy of the scene.  Whenever
there was an opening, on the right side could be seen the white cottages
of the natives amid their gardens of cocoa-nuts and plantains, with the
purple mountains beyond, and that mysterious Peak of Adam in the
distance; while on the left glittered the blue sea, studded with islets,
round which were dancing masses of white foam; the yellow beach,
approached almost to the water's edge by the green fields and tall
palms, while here and there bold headlands rise up and form sheltering
bays to the fishermen, whose primitive craft we could see moving along
the shore.

There are several resting-places on the road.  We remained longest at
Caltura--considered, from its position on a height facing the sea
breeze, one of the most healthy places in Ceylon.  The scenery in the
neighbourhood is also magnificent.  From the extent of the cocoa-nut
groves, arrack is here largely distilled.  The toddy or juice is drawn
from the trees into bowls suspended to catch it, and numbers of the
great bat _Pteropus_, called by Europeans the flying-fox, come and drink
from them.  They begin quietly enough, but by degrees the toddy takes
effect, and, like human beings, they break into quarrels, and continue
increasing their noise till it becomes most uproarious.

Having been ferried across several rivers, we reached Colombo in about
twelve hours after leaving Galle.

Colombo is not an interesting place.  It is on a level, strongly
fortified, and has a lake in the rear, from which the inhabitants are
nightly serenaded by huge frogs and mosquitoes, and tormented in the day
by numberless flies.  The European merchants, therefore, have their
houses chiefly in the neighbourhood shaded by palm-trees among the
cinnamon plantations.  We spent but a day here, while, with Mr
Fordyce's assistance, I made inquiries for my grandfather and Alfred,
but could gain no information on which I could in any way rely.  We
again, therefore, continued our journey in the same way to Kandy.



CHAPTER ELEVEN.

MY NEW FRIENDS--JOURNEY TO THE CAPITAL--KANDY--FINE ROADS--MAGNIFICENT
SCENERY--COFFEE PLANTATION--MOUNTAIN TRAVELLING--KEURA-ELLIA--ITS
REFRESHING COOLNESS--MY FIRST BUFFALO HUNT--UNPLEASANT CONSEQUENCES--
SOLON TO THE RESCUE.

Were I to describe all the wonderful and curious things I saw and heard
of in Ceylon, I should very soon fill my pages.  After leaving the sea
the palm trees soon disappeared, and we were surrounded by the graceful
arecas, mixed with the kitool or jaggery palm, and numberless flowering
trees and shrubs, the murutu with its profusion of lilac blossoms, and
the gorgeous imbul or cotton-tree covered with crimson flowers.  We
passed thousands of bullock carts bringing down coffee from the estates
in the interior, and carrying up rice and other provisions and articles
required on them.  They are small, dark-coloured, graceful little
animals, with humps on their backs, and legs as slender as those of a
deer.  The carts they draw are called bandys.  They are rough
two-wheeled vehicles, with a covering of plaited cocoa-nut leaves.

We were now gradually ascending, the cottages of the natives being
surrounded by coffee bushes, with their polished green leaves and
wreaths of jessamine-like flowers, instead of palm-trees as in the low
country.  The latter part of the road wag most magnificent, combining
the grandeur of the Alps with the splendour of tropical vegetation.

"Some Kandyan prophet had foretold," Mr Fordyce informed me, "that the
kingdom of Kandy would come to an end when a bullock should be driven
through a certain hill, and a man on horseback should pass through a
rock."

This prophecy has been fulfilled, for we passed along a tunnel under the
hill, through which thousands of bullocks have been driven, and under an
archway in the rock.

Kandy is a comparatively modern city, having only become the capital of
the kingdom about A.D. 1592, since which time it has been frequently
burned.  It stands closely surrounded by mountains, on the banks of a
lake constructed by the last King of Kandy, in 1807.  The habitations of
the people were most wretched, as the king alone, and members of the
royal family, enjoyed the privilege of having glazed windows, whitened
walls, and tiles; the palace, and some of the Buddhist temples, are the
only ancient edifices which remain, and even these are crumbling to
decay.  The chief temple was one built to contain the tooth of Buddha.
Not that the original tooth really exists, because that was burned by
the Portuguese.  The present relic worshipped by all the Buddhists is
more like the tooth of a crocodile than that of a man.  It is preserved
in an inner chamber, without windows, on a table, and is concealed by a
bell-shaped covering, overspread with jewels.

The view from the side of the mountains above Kandy, looking down on the
city with its temples, and palaces, and monuments, and its brightly
glancing lake surrounded by hills, is very beautiful.  In the lake is a
small island, with a picturesque building on it, now used as a powder
magazine.  A road winding round one of the hills leads to a spot whence
we looked down over a wild valley, with the river Mahawelliganga in the
centre of it, rushing over a bed of rocks, the whole scene being one of
the most majestic grandeur.  Altogether, no city within the tropics is
more picturesquely situated, or has a finer climate.  Still, it is not
equal to that of Neura-Ellia, very properly called the sanatorium of the
island, to which we were bound.

Mr Fordyce, before lionising the place with Nowell, assisted me in
making all possible inquiries for Mr Coventry and Alfred.  Several
people knew my grandfather.  When they last had seen him he was on his
way to his coffee estate, which was situated in the extreme east of the
district suitable for the growth of the plant, and beyond Neura-Ellia.
He had had a young man with him, but who he was and where he was going
they could not tell.  I was in great hopes, from the account I had
heard, that Alfred might have joined him.  I was now more than ever
impatient to set off, and so was Nowell, for he was anxious to begin his
attacks on the elephants, the buffaloes, and elks he was in search of.

"Come along, Marsden, we will set off at once to look for my
Will-of-the-wisp old friend, though I suspect we shall have to travel
fast to catch him," said Mr Fordyce to me.  "His activity would put to
shame many young men, I suspect, and your brother must not let the grass
grow under his feet if he wishes to please him."

Mr Fordyce kindly engaged a vehicle of a somewhat antique structure to
convey us as far as Neura-Ellia, a distance of fifty miles.  After that
we should at length have to engage horses and bullocks to carry our
tents and baggage.  Although I found the journey exceedingly
interesting, as we met with no exciting adventure I will pass over it
rapidly.  The road for some miles led along the banks of the rapid and
turbulent Mahawelliganga.  We crossed it by a bridge of a single arch,
90 feet high, with a span of 200 feet.  We were told that during the
rains of the monsoons the water has been known to rise 60 feet in its
bed, carrying carcasses of elephants and huge trees in its current.  By
the side of the road were numerous shops or bazaars, kept by low country
Singhalese, for the sale of all sorts of commodities to the country
people.  The Kandyans have a strong prejudice against engaging in trade,
and indeed dislike to mix at all with strangers.  They therefore, when
able, perch their residences in the most out-of-the-way and inaccessible
positions.  The latter are the Highlanders, while the Singhalese are the
Lowlanders of Ceylon.  The Kandyans have a strong attachment and
veneration for their chiefs, by whom, however, they were cruelly
oppressed, and both races possess the vices inherent to a long-continued
slavery--a want of truthfulness and honesty; at the same time they
possess the virtue of strong family affection and respect for their
parents and elders.

At Gampola, once the capital of the kingdom, there is a rest-house where
we stopped.  We had now reached the region where the first successful
attempt at the systematic cultivation of coffee was made in the island.
It had been tried in several places in the low country, but always had
failed.  Sir Edward Barnes, the great benefactor of Ceylon, first
produced it on an upland estate of his own, in 1825, since which time
the export from the island has increased to 67,453,680 pounds, annually.
A great stimulus was given to the cultivation of coffee in Ceylon in
consequence of the blacks in the West Indies, when emancipated from
slavery, refusing to work; but in after-years, from the wildest
speculation and the injudicious employment of capital, many of the
English who had endeavoured to form estates had no means left to
continue their cultivation, and wide-spread ruin was the result.  Now,
however, those who are able to reside on their property, by judicious
management, find the cultivation a most profitable employment for their
capital, in spite of the expense of bringing up rice for their
labourers, and the destruction caused by winds, insects, caterpillars,
wild cats, monkeys, squirrels, and rats.  As the natives cannot be
depended on as labourers, except in the first process of clearing the
forest, the estates are cultivated by coolies, who come over from
Malabar and the Coromandel Coast, as the Irish do in the reaping season
to England, to find employment.

We continued our journey through a complete alpine region, except that
the trees were very different to any seen in Europe.  Among them was a
tree the stem and branches of which were yellow, with the gamboge
exuding from them, called the goraka; there was the datura, with its
white flower bells; and the imbul, with its crimson blossoms; while tree
ferns by the side of the streams rose to the height of 20 feet.

We stopped at the bungalow of some friends of Mr Fordyce, now
surrounded by a plantation of upwards of a thousand acres of
coffee-trees in full bearing, fenced in by hedges of roses.  Nothing
could be more beautiful than the view from the estate, embracing, as it
did, mountains, forests, rivers, cataracts, and plains, seen from a
height of nearly 4000 feet above the level of the sea.  But a few years
ago, about 1845, this very spot was covered with dark forests, wild as
left by the hand of Nature.  Nowell and I agreed that we should be
perfectly ready to turn coffee planters, and settle down here for the
remainder of our lives.  Mr Fordyce laughed at our notion.

"Till you got tired of your own society, and then you would be heartily
sick of coffee-trees and the magnificent scenery which surrounds us," he
observed.

He was right; at the same time, I believe a man with a family round him,
who understands the nature of the cultivation and the language of the
people, and combines with it the earnest desire to improve their moral
condition, and to spread the truths of Christianity among them, would be
able to pass his life in a very satisfactory and profitable way.  The
great secret of happiness in all such positions is the consciousness
that we are benefiting our fellow-creatures who surround us.  A coffee
plantation put me something in mind of a grove of laurels.  The leaves
are as polished and bright as those of a laurel, but of a darker green.
They bloom in the most rapid way, and the flowers are succeeded as
quickly by the bunches of berries which soon turn crimson, and are not
unlike a cherry in size and colour.  The flowers are of snowy whiteness,
and grow in tufts along the upper part of the branches.  On looking out
in the morning I have seen all the trees covered with bloom, looking as
if a snow storm had fallen in the night, while the perfume they emitted
of a strong jessamine odour was almost oppressive.  Within the crimson
pulp lies a sheath, which encloses the double seed.  This is by various
processes freed from its coverings, and the berry we use in England is
the result.

Neura-Ellia was reached at last.  It is a grassy plain 6222 feet above
the level of the sea, and yet surrounded by mountains, some on the north
side being 2000 feet higher still.  The village, with its pleasant
bungalows, stands in the midst of it, with bright streams flowing by
grassy fields, and hills covered with the most luxuriant vegetation.
Here the air is cool and bracing--a breeze ever blowing, hoar-frost on
the grass, and ice on the water in the winter--what a blessed change
does it present from the blazing sun and hot sultry air of the
sea-coast.  It can be reached, too, from Colombo by a capital road of
less than a hundred miles in length.  I wonder people do not resort to
it for their health from all parts of India.  I should think that it
would be an excellent place for the establishment of schools at which
parents in India might place their children, instead of having to send
them all the way to England, and to be parted from them, as is often the
case, for so many years at a time.  Here they might frequently visit
them, and greatly benefit their own health.  The troops here never
change their woollen for lighter clothing, and even great-coats are in
request, and blankets on beds and fires in the evening are found
pleasant.  All our spirits rose in this delightful atmosphere,
especially did those of Mr Fordyce, after we had spent a day there.

"I have made up my mind, young gentlemen, not to let you proceed on your
journey alone," he said to us when we met at breakfast.  "I shall like
to renew my early acquaintance with the wild elephants and buffaloes,
and elks and bears, and I think that I may somewhat facilitate your
proceedings, and make your journey less expensive to you."

He had, I have no doubt, all along intended to make this proposal, but
lest we might have fancied such an old gentleman as he was might prove a
considerable bar to our amusement, he had not said anything about the
matter.  Now that we found how very active and full of spirits he was,
in spite of his age, we were both delighted to have his company, besides
which we should see a great deal more of the country than we possibly
could by ourselves.

"We shall be delighted, indeed we shall," we exclaimed simultaneously.

"But if I do not find my brother Alfred with my grandfather, I must
continue my search for him; and if I find him, I shall not like to part
from him again immediately," said I.

"Time enough to settle what you will do when you find Mr Coventry.  I
cannot insure your catching him even yet," was the answer.

Mr Fordyce had made all the arrangements for a journey of some length.
Should I find Mr Coventry and remain with him, he intended to proceed
with Nowell alone.  I was not a little surprised the next morning to see
the large cortege assembled in front of our bungalow.  There were two
elephants to carry our tents, and twenty or more coolies who transported
our beds, canteens, and provisions, besides servants, and grass-cutters,
and horse-keepers, the mahouts who rode the elephants, and two
professional sportsmen, Moors they are called, whose especial business
it is to track and capture the elephants.  They reside in villages in
the northern part of the island, and are a fine hardy race, and show
wonderful sagacity in the pursuit of game.  Besides the horses we rode,
we had several spare ones in case ours should knock up.  One man had
especial charge of Solon, who, from his ignorance of the nature of the
wild beasts we were likely to meet with, it was supposed might otherwise
get into trouble.  I need not specify exactly the locality of my
grandfather's estate; indeed, few of my readers would remember the
odd-sounding names of the various places through which we passed.  I
know that I could scarcely remember them even at the time I was there.
Since then roads have been formed in all directions, and already great
improvements have taken place besides those I have described.  We,
however, were now to travel where there were no carriage roads or
bridges, and often no ferries, so that we had to construct rafts on
which to carry across the streams our saddles, and baggage, and
provisions, while our animals swam after us.

"Another warm day, Sandy," observed the Highland soldier to his comrade
after many a broiling month had been passed on the plains of Hindostan.

Such was the salutation with which Nowell and I greeted each other after
we had descended from the cool heights of Neura-Ellia, and were
proceeding towards Mr Coventry's estate.  Most lovely were these days.
We always started at the earliest dawn, when all nature was but just
awaking from the grateful rest of night.  First came forth the gaudy
butterflies fluttering from flower to flower, till every shrub had a
rainbow-coloured mass hovering over it.  Bees full of industry flew
abroad, and glittering beetles crawled along the moist grass, then
crows, chattering paroquets, and long-legged cranes took to the wing,
while the jungle-cock, the dial-bird, the yellow oriole, the grass
warbler, and bronze-winged pigeons sent their varied and ringing notes
through the forest.  Then as the sun arose, the bulbul and the sun-birds
were seen quivering in thousands over the nectar-giving flowers of the
field.  As the heat increased towards noon again all were silent, and
fled away panting to seek for coolness beneath the shade of the forest.
At this time we also sought shelter in some ruined temple or rest-house,
or we had our tents pitched under the shadow of some lofty tree.  Once
more towards evening the birds took to the wing, the wild animals
hurried out to the tanks, and streams, and water-courses, and then moths
and numberless night-feeding animals came out to seek for their prey.

At length we reached a plantation which we were told belonged to Mr
Coventry.  A small, but comfortable-looking bungalow stood in the midst
of it.  I cannot describe the anxiety with which I approached the door.
A native servant appeared.  I had to wait till Mr Fordyce came up to
interpret for me.  Mr Coventry was not there.  He had been for some
time, but he was lately joined by a young gentleman with whom he had set
out for another estate he had purchased to the north of Kandy, and, from
his having taken his rifles and other sporting guns, it was supposed
that he had gone on some hunting expedition.  The information was not
altogether unsatisfactory.  I hoped at length to come up with him, and
my heart bounded with joy at the certainty it seemed to me that the
young gentleman spoken of was my brother.

Mr Fordyce did not appear to sympathise with me as much as I should
have expected in my anxiety to find my brother.

"You will fall in with him all in good time, and a few days or weeks
cannot make much difference to either of you," he remarked.

Soon after this we heard that there was to be held, at the distance of
two or three days' journey off from where we then were, a corral or
grand elephant hunt.

"We will without fail attend it," exclaimed Mr Fordyce.  "It is one of
the things most worth seeing in Ceylon, and I have not been at one for
many years."

Of course Nowell and I were delighted to go.  Ceylon has for time
immemorial been celebrated for the number and size of its elephants, and
for their great sagacity and docility when trained.  They have,
therefore, annually been caught and tamed, and sent off to different
parts of Asia, where they have been highly prized.

We had pitched our tents one evening at the distance of about half a
mile from one of those wonderful lakes formed artificially in days long
past for the purpose of irrigating the rice fields of the low country.
They were usually created by the erection of a dam across the mouth of a
valley, oftentimes not less than two miles in length, and from fifty to
eighty feet in height, and of a proportionable thickness.  Often these
artificial pieces of water are ten or a dozen miles in circumference,
and of great depth.  They are usually full of crocodiles, and are
frequented by wild-fowl of all sorts.  Our evening meal was preparing,
when one of our Moors came in with the announcement that a herd of
buffaloes were in the neighbourhood feeding close to the lake, and that
we might have a fair chance of trying our powers on them.  Delighted at
the prospect, Nowell and I seized our rifles, and mounting our horses,
rode off towards the spot indicated.

"I will let you go by yourselves, young gentlemen.  After a long day's
journey, I do not feel that my love of sport would induce me to go
through more fatigue," observed Mr Fordyce.

Solon, of course, was very anxious to accompany me, but the Moor said he
would interrupt the sport, so very unwillingly I left him in our camp.
Nowell had already had some practice in buffalo as well as in elephant
shooting and other wild sports in Ceylon.  He explained to me that it is
necessary to be very cautious in approaching a herd; sometimes they will
pretend to fly, and all of a sudden turn round and charge their pursuers
with the most desperate fury.  We were both armed with double-barrelled
rifles and hunting-knives, with, as I believed, a good supply of powder
and bullets, and so we thought ourselves a match for any wild beasts in
the world.  The scenery was very beautiful.  There was a wide extent of
plain covered with richly green grass, and here and there sprinkled with
clumps of trees, under which herds of deer crouched in the shade, while
others browsed around.  Promontories of various shapes, some wooded, and
some with only a single palm-tree on them, ran out into the bright lake,
at the further end of which rose lofty hills covered thickly with shrubs
to their very summits, the bluest of blue mountains appearing one beyond
the other in the far distance.  As we rode along we put up a number of
wild-fowl, teal, and ducks; and the deer, as soon as they saw us,
scampered off to a distance, so that we could not have a shot at them
had we wished it.  The ground now became too uneven for our horses, so
Nowell proposed that we should leave the Moor in charge of them, while
we walked on towards the spot where we expected to find the buffaloes.

"I am quite up to the work to be done, and it will be much more
creditable to attack them by ourselves," he observed.

I agreed.  The Moor said nothing, but took the horses and sat down under
the shade of a tree.  Perhaps he wanted to show us that we could not do
without him.  Walking on over the uneven ground for about an eighth of a
mile, we reached a high ledge of rocks over which we scrambled, and from
its summit looked down on a wide plain, bordered on one side by the
lake, on the other by an open forest.  A large herd of buffaloes--Nowell
said there were seventy or more--were lying down at about a quarter of a
mile from us in a wide marshy spot such as they delight to frequent.
Further off were other herds, scarcely discernible among the grass in
the distance.  A few bulls were posted as guardians of the rest at a
little distance round the herd nearest to us.  Not a breath of wind
rippled the calm surface of the lake.  Scarcely had we shown our heads
above the ridge of the rock than the vigilant old scouts perceived us.
Instantly the whole herd started up, and gazed at us with astonishment,
wondering what were the intruders venturing into these solitudes.  There
was no cover whatever between us and them, so that our only chance of
getting a shot was to advance boldly towards them.  As we drew near, the
whole herd formed into close order, presenting a regular line like a
regiment of soldiers--most formidable-looking fellows they were--and had
not Nowell, who had often encountered them before, set me the example, I
certainly should not have ventured to face them in the way we did.  The
buffalo of Ceylon and India is very different to the animal which is
called a buffalo in North America, but which is properly a bison.  The
latter has an enormous head, with a long shaggy mane, and an oblong hump
on his back.  The real buffalo has short legs for his great size, a
rough hard hide, and huge horns which he presses over his back when in
motion, so as to bring his eyes on a level with it, sticking out his
snout as far as possible in advance of his body.  As we drew near, five
or six large bulls marched out from the main body, looking most
viciously at us as if intending to charge.

"Steady now, Marsden," sung out Nowell, "if we wish to get killed, we
shall try to run away; our safety depends on our advancing quietly.  Do
not fire till I give the word.  Single out the second from the right,
and aim at the middle of his head.  I will take the centre one.  Advance
at a trot.  It will astonish them most."

On we went.  The herd stood still.  I felt, if not nervous, very
curious.  The excitement, however, carried me on.

"Shout," cried Nowell.  We raised a loud cry, which made the welkin
ring.  We had got within thirty yards, when the main body, including
some of the sentry bulls, turned tail and went off along the plain.
Two, however, as if acting in concert, advanced towards us--these we had
singled out as our victims.

"Fire!" cried Nowell, when they were about twenty paces from us.

Glad enough I was to do so.  To my surprise and delight mine fell over
at the instant, and I thought was dead.  The one at which Nowell had
shot sunk to his knees, but instantly recovering himself, he went off
wounded as he was towards the water.  Curiously enough, as soon as he
was perceived by the herd, the largest of the bulls rushing after him,
knocked him over, and tramping fiercely on him, trotted off along the
margin of the lake.

"Try and stop the bully!" cried Nowell.

Without a moment's hesitation, off I dashed as fast as my legs would
carry me.  Nowell would have followed, but both our buffaloes gave signs
not only of life, but of renewed activity, and it was necessary to
settle with them before it was safe to advance.  I was too far off to
hear him calling me back.  On went the bully buffalo, and I followed
after him.  Sometimes he would stop and look at me, as if daring me to
advance, and then he would run on again for a hundred yards or more,
when he would stop as before.  I at one time got a little nearer, so
bringing my rifle to my shoulder, I fired.  I hit him, but in no vital
or painful part, for he continued his course as before.  I loaded
rapidly, and on I went.  The lake some way on before me ran up into a
deep gulf.  The bull, as I fancied, not observing this, steered for the
intervening point of land.  I thought, therefore, that I had him safe in
a corner, I forgot that no animal swims better, or is more fearless of
the water.  I fully expected that I should be able to bring him to bay.
All I wanted was to get a fair shot at his forehead.  I had got within
thirty yards of him, when into the lake he plunged and began swimming
across the mouth of the gulf.  The distance round was not great.  I
thought that I might get to the opposite shore and meet him as he
landed.  I ran as fast as I could, and got to the point I intended, when
he was some twenty or thirty feet from it.  I felt something drop as I
ran, but I had not time to stop and pick it up.  I rushed into the
shallow water, thinking that it would be better to attack him there than
on dry land.  Had I known that his feet were especially formed to tread
on marshy places, spreading out as they are placed on the ground, and
contracting as they are lifted up, I should have kept on the shore.  At
about twenty paces off I fired.  The smoke cleared away.  There he
stood, unhurt it seemed, but eyeing me viciously, then slowly and
steadily he advanced like a cat about to spring on its prey.  Yes, there
was a wound, and a stream of blood flowed from it.  Had I retreated he
would have made a rush.  I knew that--I should have been crushed in an
instant.  I had still a barrel loaded.  Again I fired, and eagerly I
watched for the result.  The fierce animal stood still without moving a
muscle, his eye flashing with fury.  I was in no better position than
before, and he was within a dozen paces of me.  My only chance of safety
consisted in my being able to load and fire a more successful shot
before he was upon me.  I brought my rifle down ready to load--I put in
the powder--I felt for my shot bag--I could not find it.  Again and
again, with a sinking heart, I felt about for it--in vain; I had lost
it.  What hope had I of escape?  I kept plunging my hands convulsively
into my pockets.  My fingers came upon some stones.  I remembered to
have picked them up some days before at Neura-Ellia.  They had been
washed down from the mountains above, and were really jewels of some
little value--precious, indeed, I thought them.  They had been wrapped
up in paper.  Grasping them all, I rolled them up with a pen-knife and
pencil-case, and some small coin, and rammed them all down into the two
barrels together--a regular charge of langrage.  I knew that none of
this was likely to go through his skull, and I feared that my gun might
burst, but it was my only chance.  If it failed--the full horror of my
situation flashed across me.  How I blamed myself for having engaged in
the useless, I might say senseless and cruel sport.  I knew that Nowell
must be a long way off, but I hoped that he might hear my voice, so I
shouted as shrilly as I could at the very top of it.  Scarcely had I
done so, than the buffalo, feeling the pain of his wounds, with a loud
grunt rushed on towards me.  I fired both barrels in quick succession
right into his head.  Without stopping to see the effect produced, or
till the smoke had cleared away, I turned round, and getting out of the
water, ran as hard as my legs would carry me.  At length I stopped to
look for the buffalo.  The monster was only stunned--I thought so.  The
penknife must have astonished him, but the gems had probably only
shattered against his hard skull.  He had fallen, but got up while I was
watching him, and was now looking about for me.  He soon espied me, for
there was not an approach to shelter of any sort behind which I could
hide myself.  With a fierce grunt, which sounded very terrific, on he
came.  I now more than ever gave myself up for lost.  Should I run, or
face him, and attempt to leap aside as he came near me?  I knew that the
spot where I had dropped my bag of bullets was too far off for me to
hope to reach it before he could overtake me.  I felt exactly as I have
often done in a dream, as if what was taking place was almost too
dreadful for reality.  I turned my head over my shoulder as I ran.  The
buffalo had begun to move.  I could hear his panting breath--his snort
of rage.  I stopped short, and in desperation faced him.  I mechanically
poured powder down the muzzles of my rifle barrels.  My eye was all the
time on the huge and infuriated brute which was, I believed, about to
destroy me.  He was not to be awed by powder, or I might have hoped to
have frightened him by firing my blank charges in his face.  I felt as
if all the colour had left my cheeks, and I own that I could have cried
out most lustily for help, had I fancied anybody would hear me.

Just then a loud bark reached my ear from a long distance through the
pure air, and I saw a small animal scampering along through the grass
towards me.  Directly afterwards I heard a shout of a human voice.  I
shouted in return.  It gave me confidence.  On came what in the distance
had appeared to be a small animal.  It was my faithful Solon.  The
furious buffalo had got within ten paces of me, and in another instant I
should have been crushed by his forehead, when Solon, instinctively
observing what was best to be done, flew at his neck, and compelled him
to turn round to ascertain who was his new opponent.  I took the
opportunity to leap aside, when Solon, letting go his hold, kept barking
away furiously and flying at the buffalo's neck, to draw away his
attention from me.  The success of his sagacious proceedings restored my
nerve and courage, and I kept dodging the buffalo, each time getting
further and further from him, till the faint shouts I had heard were
repeated nearer, and I saw Nowell running at full speed towards me.  I
was now more alarmed for Solon than for myself, lest he should meet with
some injury in his courageous attacks on the buffalo.  The fierce animal
was, however, evidently getting weaker and weaker from loss of blood,
still his determination to punish me was unabated.  Notwithstanding all
the escapes I had had, I feared that he would succeed, when Nowell came
up directly in front of him, and though nearly out of breath from his
long run, without a moment's hesitation lifted his rifle to his shoulder
and fired.  In an instant our huge enemy rolled over, and never again
moved a muscle.  I had had enough of buffalo-shooting for that day.
Even then I felt what a senseless sport I had been engaged in.  Still I
cannot deny the excitement and interest it afforded us.  All we got were
the tongues of the three buffaloes we had killed, and a steak out of the
last for Solon.  He, noble fellow, had evidently broken away from his
keeper, and came up just in time to save my life.  We got back at length
to our tents.



CHAPTER TWELVE.

VISIT TO GREAT ELEPHANT CORRAL--MODE OF CAPTURING ELEPHANTS IN CEYLON--
WONDERFUL SAGACITY OF TAME ELEPHANTS--MODE OF TAMING ELEPHANTS--THEIR
HABITS WHEN TAME--HABITS WHEN WILD.

Two days after I had enjoyed my first experience in buffalo-hunting we
arrived in the neighbourhood of the great elephant corral, or great
elephant trap, as it might very properly be called.  We had been
travelling through dense forests scarcely penetrated by the sun's beams,
where but seldom we had heard the song of birds, the hum of insects, or
even the roar of wild beasts.  I was astonished at this till Mr Fordyce
pointed out to me that under the dense shade of the tall trees there
could be no pasture for the graminivorous animals, and consequently no
prey to tempt the carnivorous ones to invade those silent solitudes.
But a few hours' ride after leaving the gloomy solitudes I have
described brought us into the midst of a scene such as the gorgeous East
can alone produce.  Thousands of people appeared to be collected with
gaily caparisoned elephants and horses in vast numbers in the midst of a
village of boughs and branches, the houses being thatched with
palm-leaves and the sweet smelling lemon grass.  The people of all the
neighbouring villages appeared to have made the hunt an excuse for a
complete holiday.  There were, besides those engaged in the work, some
thousands or more natives--men, women, and children--crowding round the
corral--the men armed with their long spears in picturesque costume, the
women with children of the colour of bronze, and destitute of a rag of
covering, clinging to them, while many of the young girls were habited
in the graceful robes of that part of the country, with a scarf which,
after being wound round the waist, was thrown over the left shoulder,
leaving the right arm and side free.  There were conjurors, and
tumblers, and story-tellers to help to pass the time, but the great
interest was concentrated on the business for which all had collected.

Mr Fordyce had sent forward to have preparations made for our arrival,
and we found a delightfully cool arbour ready for our reception.  We had
not only an airy dining-room, but a bed-room a-piece, fitted up with our
tent furniture, while habitations had been run up for our attendants
outside.

"There is nothing like travelling with a mighty, magnificent,
three-tailed bashaw," observed Nowell to me, laughing.  "Now, if you and
I had been alone, we should have to rough it by ourselves, with no one
to care for us or look after us."

After we had taken possession of our mansion we strolled out to see what
was going forward.  We could not help stopping to watch the feats of a
juggler.  First, he jumped upon a pole six feet from the ground, on
which he placed a cross bar, and balancing himself on it made prodigious
leaps from side to side.  He had a companion, who assisted him in his
feats, but how they were done it seemed impossible to discover.  After
leaping along to some distance, he returned to the centre of the
admiring circle of spectators.  Steadying himself on his pole, he caught
a handful of pebbles thrown up to him by his companion.  He held his
hand up, and away flew a number of small birds.  Next, an egg was thrown
up to him.  Holding it in his two hands, he broke it, when out fell a
serpent and glided away among the crowd.  After watching the serpent
till it had disappeared, we found that he was keeping a number of brass
balls in constant motion by striking them with his elbows and then with
his hands.  He next performed a still more difficult feat.  He balanced
on his nose a small stick, which had at the top of it an inverted ball
or cup.  From the rim of the cup were suspended by silken threads twelve
balls with holes in them.  He next placed in his mouth twelve rods of
ivory, and while the balls were made to fly round, by managing the rods
with his lips and tongue, he contrived to fit a rod into every ball,
when, letting the centre stick fall, they remained suspended by the
twelve rods.  A ball of granite being thrown him, fully seven inches in
diameter, and not less than fourteen pounds' weight, he took it in one
hand, when, extending his arms in a line, he rolled it backwards and
forwards from wrist to wrist, across his shoulders, by some scarcely
perceptible exercise of muscular power.  This done, grasping it in both
hands, he threw it up to the height of twenty feet or more, and watching
as it came down till it was close to his head, he bent forward and
caught it between his shoulders.  Then, as if this last performance had
afforded him intense pleasure, he jumped forward for fifty yards or
more, returning as before.  All this time, it must be remembered, he was
balancing himself on the horizontal bar placed across his single pole.
Those I have mentioned are only some of the extraordinary feats the
juggler performed.  What suppleness of limb he must have possessed, and
what an immense amount of practice he must have gone through before he
could have accomplished any one of the feats he performed.

Strolling on with one of our Moors as a guide, we reached the corral.
By ourselves we should not have found it, for the front part of it
especially was left purposely concealed by trees and jungle.  This is
done that the elephants might not be frightened when they are driven in
towards it.  The space occupied by the corral was about 500 feet long
and 250 feet wide.  From one end, in the centre of which was the
entrance, on either side a palisade extended, growing wider and wider,
and reaching some way into the forest, somewhat in the same manner as a
decoy for wild-fowl is formed.  The trees were allowed to stand
untouched in the interior of the corral.  The palisades which enclose
the corral were formed of trunks of trees about twelve inches in
diameter.  They were sunk three or four feet into the ground, and rose
about fifteen feet above it.  They were connected by transverse pieces
of timber lashed to them with jungle ropes.  These jungle ropes are
formed of the flexible climbing plants with which the forests abound.
On the outside were fixed forked supports placed against the tie beams,
so that very great force would be required to drive the palisade
outward.  Between each upright there was sufficient space left to allow
a man to pass through.  Strong as the work was, I could have fancied
that a number of infuriated elephants would very speedily demolish it,
but we were told that they rarely or never even make the attempt, for
the whole corral is completely surrounded by men and boys, who hoot, and
shout, and cry so vociferously, that the poor animals can never face
them, but quickly rush back into the centre, to be as far off as
possible from the noisy crowd.

The elephant is one of the most peaceably disposed of animals, and all
he wishes is to be allowed to feed undisturbed.  The beaters knowing
this, having extended themselves in a circuit of many miles, and
ascertained that a sufficient number of elephants are within it,
commence making just sufficient noise as to disturb them, and to induce
them to move slowly in towards the centre of their circle.  They are
supplied with flutes, drums, guns, a quantity of gunpowder, and other
means of making a noise.  In this way three or four, or even more, herds
are collected together, and kept within such an area as will allow of
their being watched day and night by the huntsmen.  Six weeks or more
are sometimes thus consumed.  By slow degrees they are driven in towards
the corral.  Two or even three thousand huntsmen--or beaters they may
more properly be called--are employed in the operation; and as the
elephants begin to show symptoms of alarm, fires are kept up by day as
well as by night at a dozen paces or less apart throughout the entire
circle, with paths of communication, while the head men keep going
constantly round to see if their followers are vigilant.  Should any
attempt be made by the elephants to break through the magic circle,
instantly a strong force can be assembled at the point to drive them
back.  By the slightest carelessness or mismanagement the result of the
whole previous labour might be lost.  It must be remembered that the
object is to take the noble animals alive, and to tame them that they
may be employed for the use of man.

I was reminded, as I saw one of those vast creatures humble and obedient
to the commands of its keeper, of the stories in the "Arabian Nights,"
of some huge genie which rises out of a bottle and swells to the size of
a mountain being brought under subjection by a magic ring, and made
obedient to the commands of a fair princess, or some delicate young lady
or other.

At length the herds of elephants are driven within a circumference of a
couple of miles or less, in which is included the wide-spreading jaws of
the corral.  It was at this juncture that we happily arrived at the
spot.  Not a word was spoken above a whisper among the immense
multitude, as it was important to preserve the greatest possible silence
so as to tranquillise the elephants till it was necessary to move them,
and then that the effects of the shouting and other noises might be
greater when they were commenced.

We had all taken our places to watch the proceedings.  It was curious to
look down from our perch into the forest, and to know that fully five
thousand people were assembled close to us, and fifty or sixty huge
elephants, without a sound being heard.

The signal was given.  Suddenly a terrific noise was heard from the
furthest end of the magic band which enclosed the elephants--the beating
of drums, playing of fifes and other wind instruments, firing off of
guns, and shouts and shrieks of men and boys.  Gradually they closed in
on the astonished herd, no one making any sound till they were in the
rear of the elephants.  The poor animals naturally rushed away from the
noise, and thus drew nearer and nearer to the opening in the corral.
This was furnished with stout bars, and men were stationed there to let
them drop the moment the elephants were in.

Suddenly we saw the boughs of the smaller trees and brushwood violently
agitated, and the leaders of the herds appeared rushing towards the
gateway.  We fancied that in a moment more they would be secured, when a
wild boar, which had remained concealed in the brushwood, equally
astonished with them at the terrific sounds, scampered out of his
hiding-place, close in front of the headmost elephant.  Whether the boar
or the sight of the corral frightened him most, I cannot say, but he
turned round, followed by the rest, and the hunters had again to extend
their line, while the elephants took up the position they had before
occupied in the middle of the jungle.  There they stood astonished, not
knowing which way to turn, and waiting the course of events.  It was
therefore determined by the director of the hunt to wait till night to
attempt the capture of the animals, the torches and fires at that time
producing a much greater effect.

We descended, therefore, from our trees to enjoy a very luxurious repast
in our sylvan abode, and as darkness came on again ascended to our lofty
perch.  As before, not a sound was heard, but the watch-fires blazing up
shed their ruddy glow over the dark forest, and lighted up the
picturesque figures of the men employed around them.  Suddenly the roll
of a drum was heard, then a discharge of musketry, and then shrill wind
instruments, and shrieks and cries resounded wildly through the forest.
The fires burned up brighter than ever, and an entire line of flame
extended round the whole opposite to where we sat away from the corral.
Near the corral all was profound silence and darkness.  On came the mass
of hunters with flambeaus, closing in, shrieking and shouting, driving
the whole body of elephants before them.  Again the huge leader of the
beasts crushed through the brushwood, pressing the smaller trees before
him.  Nearer he and his followers approached the gateway.  Wilder blazed
the torches, and louder rose the shouts.  In he dashed, followed by the
rest, the bars were let drop behind them, and sixty wild beasts of the
forest were made captives.  The corral, it must be remembered, was full
of trees, and left in as perfect a state of nature as possible.  The
moment they were in, all the sides of the corral blazed up with
brilliant flame, the hunters having rushed to the nearest watch-fire to
light their torches as they came up.

The first impulse of the elephants was to rush across the corral, hoping
to make their escape; but they were brought up by the strong palisades,
and driven back by the flaming torches, the muskets fired in their
faces, and the loud cries of the hunters.  Then they turned, and dashed
back to the entrance-gate.  It was closed, and in vain they attempted to
force an exit; the torches, and music, and cries, drove them back; and
at length they all formed in one group together in the centre of the
corral, the very picture of hapless captives.  Then they would start
round and round the corral, looking out for some weaker place through
which they might escape; but, finding none, they again returned to the
centre of the enclosure, not in silence, however, for, as if to mock the
shouts of their tormentors, they set up the most terrific trumpeting and
screaming I have ever heard.

Sometimes one of the larger male elephants would leave the crowd, and go
round trumpeting with fury, trying to get through here and there at some
spot not before examined, but with the same result.  Then he would
return, sullen and bewildered, to his companions, who stood in the
centre of the area, formed in a circle round their young ones.

Thus they passed the night--the hunters sleeping near the line of
blazing fires kept up outside the corral, and hundreds of men and boys
with spears, and white wands ten feet long, being on the watch to turn
the elephants should they attempt to charge the stockade.  This,
however, they were too astonished and subdued to attempt to do.

The next morning preparations were made to conduct the tame elephants,
who were to play a very important part in the capture, into the corral.
There were a dozen or more of these intelligent creatures, belonging to
the different chiefs as well as to the government.  Some had only, we
were told, been captured a year, and yet they seemed fully to comprehend
the work they had to perform, and to take the keenest pleasure in making
prisoners of their former companions.  Some also belonged to the
Buddhist temples, the priests employing them in their religious
ceremonies.  One or two, we were assured, were upwards of a hundred
years old.  One of the most intelligent was a female elephant about
fifty years old, which we called Bulbul.  She showed herself to be a
keen sportswoman.

A large quantity of rope is required for noosing the elephants.  This is
made from the fresh hides of the buffalo and deer.  As no Singhalese
will touch a dead body, the only people who will manufacture these ropes
are the outcast Rodiyas, a party of whom stood at a distance from the
crowd.  These unfortunate people are the most degraded race in the
country.  Their very name means filth.  They were compelled to go almost
naked; to live under sheds, not being allowed to build a house with two
walls.  They could not enter a court of justice, or even a temple,
though nominally Buddhists.  They are compelled to stand aside on the
road when any traveller passes them; and they fall on their knees when
they address any man of recognised caste.  Their habits are dirty in the
extreme; and they eat any food, even carrion, which comes in their way.
They are, indeed, like the Cagots of France; and as little is known of
the cause which reduced their ancestors to their present degraded state
as in the instance of the last-named race.  One thing alone could, and
assuredly would, restore them to communion with their fellow-creatures,
and that is the introduction of pure Christianity among them and the
population at large.  Curiously enough, both people have, from time
immemorial, been employed in skinning cattle and making ropes.

All things being prepared for the capture of the elephants, two tame
ones were ridden in by their mahouts, each with an attendant, and
followed by two head men of the noosers--"_cooroowes_," they were
called--eager to capture the first animal on that hunt.  Each elephant
had on a collar made of coils of rope of cocoa-nut fibre, from which
hung cords of elks' hides, with a slip knot, or rather noose, at the
end.  Operations were now commenced, and most interesting they were.
The chief actors were certainly the tame elephants.  Bulbul began by
slowly strolling along, picking a leaf here and there, as if she had
nothing very particular to do.  Thus she advanced, till she came close
up to the herd, all of whom came out to meet her in the most friendly
way, seemingly to inquire if she could explain what all the commotion
had been about.  Their leader entwined his trunk round hers, and passed
it gently over his head, as if to invite her to join his party.

"Watch the treacherous creature," exclaimed Nowell, laughing.  "She
fully intends to betray him, and yet she appears to be captivated by all
the soft things he has been saying to her."

Such, in truth, was the case.  She placed herself close to the leader,
but it was to allow the nooser to stoop down under her, and to slip his
noose round the hind foot of the wild one.  The rope was very nearly
made fast when the elephant, discovering what had been done, shook it
off, and turned his rage upon the hunter.  Had not Bulbul interposed,
the latter would have paid dear for his temerity; and, as it was, he got
an ugly touch of the elephant's foot, which compelled him to creep
limping away out of the wood.  Now the cleverest thing was done which we
had yet seen.  Bulbul and another elephant were made to advance, and to
place themselves one on each side of the leader of the wild ones.  He
did not attempt to run away, but was evidently not very well satisfied
with his company, as he kept moving the weight of his body from foot to
foot, as elephants invariably do when standing still in any doubt or
perplexity.

The second nooser, who was a young active man, now crept in and took the
noose, which hung suspended from Bulbul's collar, and holding it open in
both his hands, slipped it adroitly under the huge hinder leg of the
monster.  I was reminded, on seeing the act, of workmen touching the
piston-rod of a steam-engine, or some other part of some powerful
machinery, one blow of which would almost annihilate them.  This time
the noose was secured; and as soon as the cunning Bulbul saw that it was
so, she began to back towards the nearest large tree, dragging the
elephant after her, till she was able to give it a turn round the trunk.
The wild elephant did his best to break away, but she kept him tight;
at the same time she could not manage to draw him nearer to the trunk.
The other tame elephant now stepped up to her assistance, and, by
pressing his shoulder and head against the shoulder and head of the wild
one, forced him back step by step, Bulbul all the time hauling in
sagaciously on the slack of the rope, till he was brought close up to
the trunk of the tree.  The cooroowe people then rushed in and secured
him to it.  The nooser now passed another noose under the other hind
leg, which was secured like the first.  Bulbul and her comrade now
ranged up one on each side of the poor animal, and while, as it seemed,
holding him in conversation, and consoling him for his misfortune, the
active nooser slipped under them and secured the two fore-feet as he had
done the first.  The other ends of the ropes were then carried to a
tree, and secured round it immediately in front of the other.  All four
legs were also hobbled together, and then the huge monster stood, in
spite of all his strength, in the most complete bondage.  The ropes used
for the latter purpose were made of the kittool or jaggery palm, as they
are of a more flexible nature than those of the cocoa-nut fibre, and
less likely to cause ulcers on the poor elephants' legs.

While the treacherous tame elephants remained alongside the captive to
console him for his misfortune, he was perfectly quiet; but no sooner
were they withdrawn than he made the most violent efforts to set himself
free.  His first endeavour was to untie the knots of the ropes which
bound him; but when he found that this was beyond his art, he tried to
burst them asunder.  Now he leaned backwards to free the fore-feet--now
forwards to clear the hind ones, till, literally lifting them off the
ground, he balanced himself on his trunk and forefeet, lifting his hind
ones up in the air.  Wonderful were the exertions he made to free
himself; and as he crushed the branches within his reach, it seemed as
if he would bring the stout tree itself to the ground.  He uttered the
most terrific screams in his agony, now bending his huge proboscis under
him into the ground, now lifting it high in air; now pressing one cheek,
now the other, on the earth.

I have since heard of a tame elephant exhibited in England having been
taught to stand on his head, and, I fancy, dance the polka; and from the
extraordinary positions into which I saw the animals throw themselves on
this occasion, I fully believe in their power to do anything of the
sort.

The mighty captive was close to us.  At length, after continually
exerting himself in this strange way, he lay quiet; but every now and
then he would burst out again into a fit of fury, soon however to
discover how vain were his efforts to free himself; and then, overcome
and exhausted, he remained perfectly motionless, giving up for ever, it
seemed, all hope of freedom.

Meantime the other wild elephants were in a state of terror and nervous
excitement.  Now they would all stand huddled together, not knowing what
to do; then one, braver than the rest, would advance, and by degrees the
others would follow, and the whole herd made a desperate rush towards
the end of the corral.

It was a nervous moment.  It seemed scarcely possible that they would
not dash against the barrier, and, strong as it might be, hurl it in
fragments to the ground, and trampling over their persecutors, escape
into the forest.  I held my breath, believing that this would be the
result of their charge; but at the same moment crowds of young men and
boys hurried up to the point threatened, holding long white wands and
spears in their hands.  As the elephants approached, with their trunks
raised high in the air, their ears spread out, and their tails erected,
trumpeting and uttering the loudest screams indicative of their rage,
the young men, with the most perfect nerve and coolness, struck their
thin lances through the openings in the palisades, at the same time
shouting and whooping at the top of their voices.

Just as I expected to see the fatal crash come, the huge brutes turned
round, and off they went once more to take shelter under the trees in
the centre of the corral.  One after the other, the wild elephants were
bound in much the same way as was the first.  What appeared to me very
wonderful, was that the wild ones never molested the mahouts or
cooroowes who rode on the backs of the tame elephants.  They could at
any moment have pulled off the riders, but not the slightest attempt of
the sort was made.  One of the chiefs or managers of the corral rode in
among the herd on so small an animal that his head was not higher than
the shoulder of many of them, but no notice whatever was taken of him.
The operation of noosing each elephant occupied altogether from half an
hour to three quarters.

Not only did the cunning Bulbul seem to take pleasure in capturing a
male elephant, but she evidently had equal delight in assisting to make
a slave of one of her own sex.  A large female elephant was fixed on.
She and her assistant, placing themselves one on each side of her, cut
her off from her companions, and the nooser slipping a rope under her
foot, Bulbul carried it to the nearest tree.  The wild lady, however,
grasped the rope with her trunk, and, carrying it to her month, would
quickly have bit it through, had not the other tame one, perceiving what
she was about, with wonderful sagacity torn it away from her, and
placing her foot on it, prevented her again from lifting it.

At last most of the leaders were captured, and it was curious to watch
the proceedings of the rest.  At first they were too timid to move, but
after a time they came up, and entwining their trunks together, seemed
to express their sympathy and sorrow.  The captives expressed every
variety of emotion.  Some trumpeted, and bellowed, and screamed in their
fury, tearing down the branches of all the trees they could reach, and
struggling violently, ultimately sinking exhausted, and only now and
then uttering the most pitiable groans and sobs.  Some remained
perfectly silent.  Most of them twisted themselves about, however, in
the most extraordinary way.  I could not have supposed that an animal of
such apparently unwieldy bulk as an elephant could possibly have
distorted himself as many did.  Some curled their trunks about till they
looked like huge writhing snakes.  One kept curling up his proboscis and
letting it fly open again with the greatest rapidity.  It was almost
harrowing to our feelings to see the whole ground below us covered with
such huge, struggling, writhing masses.  I made a remark to that effect
to Nowell.

"Look through a telescope shut up, which will diminish objects some
hundred times, and you will think nothing of it," he answered.  "Or, the
next time you wish to harrow up your feelings, just walk over an ant's
nest, and apply a large magnifying-glass to the spots where your feet
have been placed.  You will see worse sights even than this, I suspect."

From what I saw I should say that elephants have as great a variety of
character as human beings.  In one point only all acted much alike.
After their most violent struggles were over, and the ground in front of
them had been beaten into dust, they took it up with their trunks and
scattered it over their bodies, and then, withdrawing a quantity of
water from their mouths, they in the same way sprinkled it over
themselves, till the dust was converted into a cake of mud.  From the
quantity of water thus employed it seemed clear that they must have a
large internal receptacle to contain it, as for a whole day or more they
had had no opportunity of drinking, and had been exposed to unusual
alarm and exertion.

The most curious and interesting part of the whole exhibition was the
sagacity displayed by the tame elephants, and especially by Bulbul.
They went coolly and calmly about their work, never creating the
slightest confusion, and seeing in a moment exactly what was best to be
done.  They stepped carefully over the ropes which were being twisted
round and round the trees, and never by any chance trampled on any of
the captured ones lying on the ground.  One of the wildest had managed
to twist the first rope secured to him several times round the tree,
when Bulbul, walking up, pressed against him, and made him untwist
himself.  She even, on another occasion, put her own foot under that of
one of the wild ones, and kept it up till the nooser was able to slip
the rope over it.  Not only do the tame elephants assist materially with
their great strength in dragging the wild ones up to the trees, and in
securing them, but without their aid, and the cover they afford, even
the most active and daring of noosers would not venture to approach a
herd.

The most amusing incident in the strange drama was the appearance and
behaviour of two young elephants, about ten months old.  They seemed to
be general pets of the herd, following them wherever they went, running
in and out among their legs, and being nursed not only by their own
mothers, but by all the females whenever they appeared.  When the mother
of one of them was captured, the little creature followed her up to the
tree round which the rope was fastened.  It then did its utmost to
liberate her, and actually attacked the men, striking them with its
trunk, and endeavouring to prevent them from fastening the other nooses
round its mother's legs.  At last it so interfered with their
proceedings that they were obliged to drive it back to the herd.  It
went away at a slow and disconsolate pace, looking back every now and
then in the most affectionate way towards its captive mother.  On
reaching the herd it attached itself to one of the other females, when
she hung her trunk over it and caressed it in the kindest way.  As soon
as the noosers had finished securing its mother, it returned to her
side, and appeared to be attempting to console her, but it very soon
grew angry at finding that she could not move, and began to attack
everybody who passed.  As this inconvenienced the men, they had to tie
it up, when, as it was dragged along, it caught at all the branches in
the way, and trumpeted and cried with grief.  Both the small ones were
tied up together, and screamed louder and more incessantly than all the
rest.  They put one much in mind of two young babies, for when food was
given them they ate it up greedily, but before their mouths were empty
began to cry and roar away again as loudly as ever.

Among the elephants driven into the corral was a rogue, or outcast
elephant.  They are supposed to be driven out of the herd on account of
their vicious disposition, and none of their kind will ever associate
with them.  They live, consequently, morose and solitary lives, and are
always the most dangerous to attack.  He was captured like the rest, and
as a proof of his bad temper, as he was dragged by one of those lying on
the ground, he attacked him furiously with his tusks, and would have
injured him severely had he not been torn away from him.  No one
trumpeted and screamed louder at first, but in a short time he lay down
quietly, as if he saw that it was folly to fret himself about what could
not be helped.

"That fellow will soon become tame and humble as the rest," I observed.

"The hunters say that sudden quietness is a sign that he will not live
long," said Mr Fordyce.  "We shall see if they are right."

We watched the poor brute.  He was covering himself with dust and water
like his companions in misfortune, and continued to do so incessantly.

There were still a great number of elephants to be noosed when night
closed in on us.  A large herd, we understood, were also kept in check
outside, ready to be driven in as soon as the first batch had been
disposed of.

The next day we spent much in the same way as the former ones.  Most
interested we were, for certainly we could never expect to have so good
an opportunity of studying the character of elephants in their wild
state.  Everything we saw tended to raise them higher in our estimation
as the most sagacious of brute beasts, while there was the marked
difference between the manners of the wild and the tame ones which
civilisation is calculated to create.  The behaviour of the tame ones
was most wonderful.  They seemed to enter so thoroughly into the spirit
of the affair, and to observe so immediately what was necessary to be
done.  There was especially no cruelty or malice displayed.  They were
apparently happy and contented themselves in captivity, and they did not
seem to consider that there was any hardship for others to be reduced to
the same state.  The wild ones also, when they found that escape was
impossible, bore their captivity with wonderful dignity and composure.
Some even seemed to listen with pleasure to the notes of the Kandyan
flute which the natives played near them; and though at first they would
not eat, at length when some juicy stems of the plantain were offered
them, they could not resist the temptation of the luscious morsels.  The
young ones, however, though they ate everything given them, screamed and
bellowed louder than any of the rest, attacking every one who came near
them, and never ceasing their struggles to get free.  Indeed, their
conduct throughout reminded me very much of petted and rather
violent-tempered children.

When we took our seats the rogue lay on the ground, moving his head
about slowly and heavily.  Suddenly he was quiet, and almost at the same
moment his body was pounced on by innumerable crowds of black flies.

"The rogue is dead," observed Mr Fordyce.

Instantly two elephants entered with some of the outcast Rodiyas, who
undid the cords from the tree, when the elephants dragged the dead body
to a distance from the corral.  I need not further particularise each
capture as it occurred, though each was in itself especially
interesting.  Most remarkable was the sagacity they displayed in trying
to loose themselves from their bonds, as also in avoiding having the
noose thrown over their feet.  One fine fellow tried to uproot the tree
in front of him to which his fore-legs were secured, and then sat down
on his haunches like a dog, trying to undo the knots with his trunk.
When he found that all his efforts were unavailing, he threw himself on
the ground, while the tears coursed each other down his rugged cheeks.
Many, indeed, of the elephants wept and sobbed when they found
themselves hopelessly captives.

Corrals are always erected near some river or lake, where the
newly-captured elephants may be indulged in the luxury in which they so
much delight.  To convey the wild elephant to the water, a tame one is
placed on each side of him.  A collar is then formed round his neck of
cocoa-nut rope, to which ropes are attached, secured also by similar
collars round the necks of the tame ones.  This done, the ropes round
his legs are removed, and he is marched away by his companions to the
water.  The curious part of this operation, we remarked, was the way in
which the tame elephant defended his rider from the blows of the wild
one's trunk.  No attempt, I observed, was made to noose the trunks.
Probably from their being very sensitive organs, too much injury would
be inflicted on the elephants by so doing.

After the poor animals had enjoyed their baths, they were secured to
trees in the forest, with three or more grass or leaf cutters a-piece to
supply them with food.  Their education was now to begin, and Mr
Fordyce told us that in three or four months they would be sufficiently
tamed to go to work.  Both he and Nowell, who had seen a bull-fight in
Spain, said that it did not at all come up in interest to the scene we
had been witnessing, while there was far more cruelty employed, and a
larger amount of danger, in consequence of the assistance afforded by
the tame elephants.  At the same time, the courage and activity
displayed by a Spanish piccador or matador is infinitely superior to
that which a Singhalese nooser is compelled to exert.  Of one thing I am
certain, that in a state of freedom the elephant as a rule is certainly
neither savage nor revengeful, and considering his power to inflict
injury, he is rather a timid animal than otherwise.  In captivity, if he
gets out of health, he is liable to fits of obstinacy and irritability,
when he has been known to inflict injury for which, on his recovery, he
has afterwards exhibited the most undoubted sorrow and repentance.  How
often is the same disposition exhibited by children from the same cause,
and how speedily, on recovering their health, is their amiability
restored!  So we must not be over-harsh in judging of the poor
elephants, who have not the reasoning powers even of a young child.

The mode of training an elephant, as described to me, and as we saw it
going forward, is interesting.  For the first three days, during which
he will seldom take food, he is allowed to stand quiet, with a tame one
by his side to give him confidence.  When he takes to his food, he is
placed between two tame ones, and the head groom stands in front of him
with a long stick having a sharp iron point.  Two men are also stationed
on either side, protected by the tame ones, with sticks with sharp
crooks, while others rub his back and talk to him in a consoling and
encouraging tone.  At first he is excessively indignant, and strikes in
every direction with his proboscis; but his blows are received by the
men on the sharp points of their sticks and crooks, till the end is
thoroughly sore.  Finding that he has the worst of it, and seemingly
acknowledging that his captors have established their supremacy, he
coils it tightly up, and seldom again attempts to use it as a weapon of
offence.  The next process is to take him to bathe between two tame
elephants, and to compel him to lie down.  This is done by tightening
the ropes which unite his feet, and by the driver pressing the sharp
point of the crook on his back-bone.  Often for several days he resists
and roars most lustily, and the assistance of the tame ones is required
to keep him in order.  In about three weeks, perhaps, he may be left
alone, and then when he is taken to bathe with his feet only hobbled, a
man walks backwards in front of him with the point of his pike presented
at his head, and two others, one at each ear, holding their pointed
crooks.  On reaching the water, the dread of having the crook pressed
against his backbone makes him immediately lie down.  After this the
process is easy.  They vary much in disposition.  Some will within even
a day or two feed out of a man's hand.  The great secret is, while
proving to them the power of man, to treat them with kindness and to win
their confidence.  From the treatment their feet receive when being
captured, they will not allow them to be touched for months and years
afterwards without exhibiting signs of anger.  Though in other respects
tamed, they cannot be put to work for three or four months--indeed, till
they take their food eagerly, and flourish on it.  Otherwise they
quickly die, as the natives say, of a broken heart.  They are taught to
draw a waggon, or to tread clay for forming bricks; but by far the most
important service they render is in piling timber and removing large
blocks of stone.  It is most curious to observe the way in which one
will take up a huge log of timber in his trunk and carry it through a
narrow road, turning it longways when there is not width to allow it to
pass, and avoiding all impediments, and finally placing log after log on
the pile with the greatest regularity.  This he will do without any
driver to guide his movements, and directed entirely by his own
sagacity.

From what I could learn, the average age of elephants is about seventy
years, though some have been known to have lived twice as long; and one
elephant, who only lately died, and whose skeleton, I have heard, in in
the Museum of Natural History at Belfast, was successively in the
service of the Dutch and English Governments--certainly for upwards of a
century.  Probably he was a hundred and twenty years old at least.  The
natives believe that elephants bury their own dead.  Certain it is that
they remove them from any spot which they are accustomed to frequent,
shoving their bodies on with their heads or tusks, or dragging them with
their trunks.  Others believe that elephants select some remote and
sequestered spot by the side of a lake surrounded by mountains, and
thither they resort when they feel their death approaching, that they
may lie down and die tranquilly.  The popular belief, however, is that
they live to an almost illimitable age when in a state of freedom; and
that is the reason why their dead bodies are seldom or never found,
unless they have met their death from the sportsman's rifle.

An elephant requires three men to attend to him.  One is his mahout or
attendant, and two, as leaf-cutters, to supply him with food; so that
the cost of his keep is upwards of three shillings a-day.  The elephants
of Ceylon have sometimes, but not often, tusks, while those of Africa
are generally supplied with them.  So peaceable and amiable are their
dispositions, that they are provided with no other weapon of offence;
for the trunk, though powerful, is too delicate an organ to be used
willingly for the attack of other animals, except in cases of necessity.
Indeed, he has no enemies who venture to attack him except man; and of
late years, in consequence of the wide distribution of firearms among
the natives, and the great number of English sportsmen who have invaded
the country, their numbers have greatly diminished.

I heard of one Englishman having killed upwards of a thousand of those
noble brutes, and of others, five hundred or more.  I cannot say how I
might think of the matter if I was to indulge in the sport, but my
present feeling is that of unmitigated horror that any man should
willingly be guilty of such wholesale slaughter, unless in case of
necessity.  If it was important to rid the country of them, they might
engage in the work for the sake of becoming public benefactors.  Lions,
tigers, and wild boars should be killed, because they are dangerous to
human beings; and the time may come when, the wilds of Ceylon being
brought under cultivation, it may be necessary to exterminate the
sagacious elephant, or, at all events, to reduce him to subjection, and
to keep him within limited bounds.

Elephants delight in the shade, and shun the heat of the sun.  Thus they
are found often in large herds on the mountain heights in Ceylon, at an
elevation of some thousand feet above the sea.  With regard to their
sight, that is supposed to be somewhat circumscribed, and they depend
for their safety on their acute sense of smell and hearing.  The sounds
they utter are very remarkable, and by them they seem to be able to
communicate with each other.  That of warning to the herd is a deep
hollow ringing sound, like that of an empty cask being struck; a common
caution to their friends is a simple quiver of the lips, which makes a
noise like _prur-r-r_; that of pain is a deep groan from the throat;
that of rage is a shrill trumpeting through his proboscis.  But they
also make many other scarcely describable noises.  The height of the
elephant is generally over-estimated, the ordinary height being from
eight to nine feet, though in some instances they may be found exceeding
it.  His agility, the gentleness of his tread, considering his size, and
the silent way in which he escapes through the forest, is worthy of
remark.  The elephant, when he lies down, stretches his legs out behind
him, not under him, as does the horse--a beautiful arrangement for an
animal of his vast bulk, as thus, without any violent strain, he is able
to lift himself up.  The thigh-bone is very much longer in proportion to
that of the _metatarsus_--the one below it--than is the case with other
animals, and thus the knee is very much lower down.  He has also no
hock, and can thus bend his knee as completely as a human being.  By
this arrangement he is able to descend declivities without difficulty.
In traversing a mountain region he invariably selects the ridge of a
chain, and takes the shortest path to the nearest safe ford.  They are
generally found in herds of about twenty each, which are evidently
distinct families; and though they may mingle with other herds at times
when they meet to drink at the same tanks or water-courses, they
invariably unite together again at the slightest alarm.  Elephants
become rogues from various causes; chiefly when they have been separated
from the herd, and, from living a life of bachelor solitude, become
morose and vicious.  They at length generally resort to the
neighbourhood of human habitations, where they commit serious
depredations on the rice grounds and among the cocoanut plantations.
Sometimes they will approach a dwelling, and travellers are frequently
attacked and even killed by them.  The natives, therefore, give every
encouragement to European sportsmen who will undertake to destroy them;
and in this case they really can be of very great service.  Nowell and
I, on hearing this account of the rogues, agreed that the first we heard
of we would undertake to attack, and we quite longed for an opportunity
of exerting our powers in so useful an undertaking.

No one seemed able to account for the reason why elephants are so much
afraid of wands or spears.  They will not even, unless driven by terror,
attempt to pass through the slightest reed fence but a few feet in
height.  Thus a single watcher is able to keep them off the rice and
coracan lands; and in some places, where these intervene between their
haunts and the tanks where they are accustomed to drink, passages are
made, lined by bamboo fences, and they pass up and down them without
attempting to break into the fields, though full of their favourite
food.  Their instinct tells them exactly when the products of the ground
in which they most delight are ripe, and they regularly make their
appearance in that part of the country where they are to be found.  Now,
curiously enough, as soon as the rice and coracan are removed and the
fences are broken, the elephants walk into the fields and regularly
glean them.  When this is done they move on to some other district.  In
the same way they visit those parts of the country where the palmyra
palm flourishes, at the time the fruit from its ripeness is about to
fall to the ground.  Some are said to be very inquisitive, and will not
only examine any structure which has been put up in the locality they
frequent, but rogues especially will often even pull down huts or
cottages, and do all sorts of mischief, apparently from mere wantonness.
Elephants live on the leaves of all sorts of trees, as well as grass,
and grain, and fruits.  They especially like the cocoa-nut.  Stripping
off the fibre, they crush the shell with their tusks, and let the juice
trickle down their throats.  The position of the trunk is very graceful
when they feed themselves; as it is also when they hold a branch and fan
off the flies from their backs.  I forgot to say that, though they often
lie down, they are frequently found asleep leaning against a tree or a
rock, and often in captivity stand on their feet for months together
without ever lying down.  However, I might go on, I find, recounting the
curious circumstances about elephants till I had filled my journal; and
I must therefore continue without further interruption an account of our
journey.



CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

SINGHALESE TORCHES--CHEWING ARECA-NUT--THE VEDDAHS--DEVIL-DANCERS--CHENA
CULTIVATIONS--A ROGUE ELEPHANT--EAT SNAKE--MY FIRST ELEPHANT HUNT--
HORRIBLE SITUATION--NEARLY KILLED BY AN ELEPHANT--PROVIDENTIAL ESCAPE.

On leaving the scene of the great elephant hunt I described in my last
chapter, we turned our faces once more towards the region of the
northern coffee estates.

Mr Fordyce then told me that he had dispatched a messenger to inquire
whether Mr Coventry was residing on his property, and if not, where he
was to be found.  Before we had proceeded far we met the messenger, who
brought word that Mr Coventry, and a young gentleman who was staying
with him, had set off a short time before for Trincomalee, where they
probably now were.

"Then to Trincomalee we will go," exclaimed Mr Fordyce.  "We will run
our fox to earth, at all events, provided he does not take to the water
and swim away."

"Then I, however, must follow wherever he goes," I observed.  "I feel
sure Alfred is with him; and yet I cannot account for his not having
written home.  Oh, how I long to find him, poor fellow!"

I could not help fancying that Mr Fordyce, kind and liberal as he was
to me, did not quite enter into my feelings about finding Alfred.
Perhaps, through my impatience, I did him injustice.  I thanked him most
cordially for his kindness; for I felt that, at all events, if left to
my own resources I should have been utterly unable to follow my
grandfather from place to place as I was now doing.

Again we plunged into the gloomy shade of a Ceylon forest.  I have
already described the large retinue with which we had to move; and
though we carried a great deal of food, so much was required for so
large a number that we had to depend mainly on our guns for the meat to
put into our pots.  Of this, however, neither Nowell nor I complained,
as it gave us the very sort of employment we most enjoyed.

One ordinary day's journey was very much like another.  The first
morning we were aroused before sunrise, and on going out of our tents we
found our attendants with torches in their hands ready to accompany us.
These were not only to light us on our way, but to frighten off any
bears, wild boars, or elephants, who might be crossing our path, and
would be ugly customers to meet in a narrow road.  These torches are
called _chides_.  They are made out of the straight and dry branches of
the "welang tree," which is bruised into loose strips, still, however,
holding together.  They last burning for a couple of hours.  No scene
could be more picturesque, as our numerous cavalcade wound down a
mountain path, with rocks and woods on either side; some thrown into
shade, and others standing out prominently in the ruddy glare thrown
around by the torches.  We rode on till the heat of the sun warned us
that it was time to stop; and while our tents were pitched by the side
of a stream of pure water, which had its source in the neighbouring
mountains, the servants lighted the fires, and commenced active
preparations for breakfast.  Rice was boiled, coffee was made, curries
concocted, and game--which had just before been shot--spitted and set to
turn and roast.  We meantime enjoyed the luxury of a cool bath within
the shade of our tents.  There were no crocodiles in the stream; but in
most places it is dangerous to bathe in the tanks and rivers, which
abound with them, as many are large enough to carry off a man between
their jaws without the slightest difficulty.

By the side of the stream grew numerous tall trees, in many places
completely overarching it.  The most remarkable was the kombook, from
the branches of which hung the pods of the large puswel bean.  The pods
are the most gigantic I have seen, measuring six feet in length, by five
or six inches in width.  From the calcined bark of this tree the natives
extract a sort of lime, with which they mix the betel they are
constantly chewing.  The inhabitants of Ceylon have the same enjoyment
in it as Europeans have in chewing tobacco.  It is used with the
areca-nut, the product of the graceful areca-palm.  They thus take,
unconsciously, as a corrective to their somewhat acid food, a
combination of carminative, antacid, and tonic.  Every Singhalese
carries in his waist-cloth a box containing some nuts of the areca and a
few fresh leaves of the betel pepper, as also a smaller box to hold the
chunam or lime.  The mode of taking it is to scrape down the nut, and to
roll it up with some lime in a betel leaf.  On chewing it, much saliva
is produced of a bright red colour, with which the lips and teeth are
completely stained, giving the mouth a most unpleasant appearance.

While we were seated at breakfast we observed a dark small figure moving
out in the skirts of the forest nearest to us.  At first I thought it
was a monkey; and so did Nowell, who was going to fire at it, but Mr
Fordyce happily restrained him.

"Let us see what the creature will do," said he.  "I am not at all
certain that it is not a human being."

After looking about cautiously, the figure came out of the shade of the
wood, and then we saw that it was really a human being--a large-headed,
mis-shapen man, with long black hair hanging half-way down his body, the
only clothing he wore being a piece of dirty cloth round his waist.  He
looked starved and wretched, so we held out some food to him.  He eyed
it wistfully, but seemed to have the same fear of approaching us that a
strange dog would.  We observed that our followers looked at him with
expressions both of mistrust and disgust, so I volunteered to go and
take him some food.  I put it on a plate, and carried it towards him.
He looked at it without saying a word, and then seized it with both
hands, and ate it up with the greatest avidity.  He had evidently been
nearly starving, when the smell of our cooking operations brought him to
our encampment.  I signed to him that I would get him some more food,
when he sat himself down on the grass at a short distance only from our
circle, and near enough for Mr Fordyce to speak to him.  Our friend
addressed him in a variety of dialects, and at last he answered with
some scarcely articulate sounds.  After a short conversation had taken
place, Mr Fordyce said:--

"The man is a remnant of one of the tribes of Veddahs.  They are the
most degraded, or rather least civilised of all the people of Ceylon.
They are divided into Rock Veddahs, Village Veddahs, and Coast Veddahs.
This man belongs to the first, who are the most barbarous of all.  They
are omnivorous, eating carrion or anything that comes in their way--
roots, or fish, or wild honey, or any animals they can catch; but their
favourite food is monkeys and lizards.  They live either in caves and
nooks in rocks, or on platforms among the boughs of trees.  They hunt
the deer with bows and arrows, and dry the flesh, which they sometimes
barter for articles for which they have a fancy, such as cocoa-nuts,
arrow-heads, hatchets, cooking bowls, and coloured cloths.  Each family
has a head man, who manages domestic affairs, but exercises very little
sway over them; their language is of the most limited description; they
have no religious rites, no knowledge of a superior being or idea of a
future state, and they do not even bury their dead, but cover them up
with leaves in the recesses of the forest.  They have no names for
years, days, or hours; they can scarcely count beyond five on their
fingers, and they have no music, games, or amusements of any sort.  The
Village Veddahs are a degree superior to them, as they live in huts, and
roughly cultivate the ground.  The Coast Veddahs are somewhat less
savage than the first, and employ themselves in fishing and in cutting
timber.  They have much gentleness of disposition, and though, as might
be expected, their morals are in the lowest state, grave crimes are
seldom committed.  Our government have made most laudable attempts to
reclaim them, and in many instances, seconded by the devoted efforts of
the missionaries, have met with great success.  When I said they have no
religious ceremony, I ought to have mentioned that when they are sick,
they fancy that they are affected by an evil spirit, and so they send
for a devil-dancer to drive it away.  Something eatable is made as an
offering to the evil spirit, and placed on a tripod of sticks.  Before
this the devil-dancer, who has his head and girdle decorated with green
leaves, begins to shuffle his feet by degrees, working himself into the
greatest fury, screaming and moaning, during which time he pretends to
receive instructions how to cure the malady.  The Wesleyan missionaries
especially have laboured indefatigably among these wretched beings, and
notwithstanding the low state of barbarism into which they had sunk,
have succeeded in converting many hundreds to a knowledge of the
glorious truths of Christianity, and in bringing them within the pale of
civilisation.  They are settled in villages, cultivate the ground, and
have schools among them.  One or two stations, in consequence of the
missionaries having been carried off by fever, have been abandoned; but
even there those Veddahs who had come under their influence continued to
build cottages and practise the various arts they had learned.  Still,
throughout the length and breadth of Ceylon, there is a wide, and, I
firmly believe, a fruitful field among all castes and tribes for the
labours of the Christian missionary."

Having won the confidence of our Veddah, Mr Fordyce desired him to
light a fire by means of two dried sticks--a difficult operation, in
which they are said to be great adepts.  He replied that he would do as
we wished; and breaking one of his arrows in two, he sharpened the end
of one into a point, and making a hole in the other, he held it between
his feet and twirled the first rapidly round between the palms of his
hands.  But a few moments had passed before smoke ascended and charcoal
appeared; that quickly ignited; and some leaves and sticks being
applied, a blazing fire was soon made.

Mr Fordyce, after questioning the savage, inquired if more of his
companions were in the neighbourhood.  He said yes, and that he could
soon bring them.  He disappeared, and we got some food ready.  In a
short time he returned, with nearly twenty wretched-looking beings,
their hair and beards hanging in masses down to their waists.  Each
carried an iron-headed axe in a girdle, a bow about six feet in length
strung with twisted bark, and a few ill-made arrows with peacocks'
feathers at one end and an iron unbarbed head tapering to a point at the
other.  After we had given them the deer's flesh we had prepared, we set
up a mark and told them to shoot at it.  They were miserable marksmen,
not one arrow in half-a-dozen hitting the target.  They said that all
they required was to wound their game, and then that they ran it down
till it died; that they could kill an elephant by wounding him in the
foot.  The shaft breaks short off, when, the wound festering, the poor
brute becomes so lame that they can easily overtake him and eventually
worry him to death.

Travelling on through the forest, we came suddenly on an open space of
three hundred acres or more, with a number of huts in the centre, and
people actively employed in cultivating the ground.  The space was
divided into patches, containing paddy or dry rice, grain, Indian corn,
coracan, with sweet potatoes, cassava, onions, yams, chillies, as also
cotton-plants.  I was surprised to find that the cultivators had only a
temporary occupation of the ground.  It is called chena cultivation.
Pumpkins, sugar-cane, hemp, yams, as well as grains and vegetables, are
grown.  A number of families obtain a licence from the government agent
of the district to cultivate a plot of ground in this way for two years,
and no more.

A day or two after this, emerging once more from the forest, we found
ourselves approaching a village of mud-huts, of different sizes--one of
them, built round an open court-yard, had been prepared for our
reception, the rooms having been hung with white cloths by the head
washerman of the place, whose official duty it is to attend to visitors.
The rooms had each but one small window, or hole rather.  They all
opened into the court.  They kept out the air, but certainly no sun
could get in.  Such a building is the usual habitation even of chiefs.
Some have handsome carved furniture, both tables and chairs, and
cabinets, while their wives and daughters are decked in flowing robes
and ornaments of gold and precious stones.

Scarcely had we taken up our quarters in our new abode, when the head
man of the place and some of the chief villagers came in due form to pay
their respects to Mr Fordyce.  They said that they understood that he
was accompanied by some renowned sportsmen, to whom they could offer a
magnificent opportunity of displaying their prowess.  We pricked up our
ears as Mr Fordyce translated this.  The neighbourhood was infested by
a huge rogue elephant, whom none of these people could succeed in
killing.  He was not the only one, as many other rogues frequented the
tank where he was usually seen, but he was by far the most mischievous.
He would walk into fields at night and eat up the corn, and even into
gardens and consume the vegetables; several times he had pulled down
huts to get at corn stored within them, and once he had upset a cottage
and very nearly destroyed the inhabitants.  He had besides killed
several people--some of whom he had met by chance, and others who had
gone out to kill him.

Nowell was not at all daunted by these accounts, and told Mr Fordyce
that he had made up his mind to try and kill the rogue.  I begged to
accompany him, and Mr Fordyce said that he would go and keep us out of
mischief.  We had our two Moor-men--the chief of whom we called Dango;
and several of the villagers volunteered to accompany us and show us the
haunts of the rogue.  All arrangements were soon made--we were to start
by dawn the next morning.

Delighted with the prospect before us, I was about to lie down on a sofa
prepared as my bed, when I saw a snake fully four feet long glide in at
the door of the room, and coil itself away under my pillow.  I had no
fancy for such a companion, and not knowing whether or not it was
venomous, I shouted to Dango, whom I saw in the court, to come and help
me to kill it.  Nowell, who had left the room, heard me call, and came
at the same time.  Dango fearlessly put in his hand, and turning out the
snake, said that it was only a rat-snake kept tame about the house for
the purpose of killing rats, and that it was perfectly harmless.  Still
I could not bring myself to lie down on the couch with the expectation
of such a visitor.  Nowell very good-naturedly said that I might take
his sofa, and that he would sleep on mine.  I placed myself, therefore,
on three cane chairs at the table, on which a lamp was burning.  I fell
asleep, but was awoke before long by hearing a rattling and scampering
noise about the room, when, opening my eyes, I saw a dozen or more rats
making free with our boots and eatables, and a number of other articles.
Just then from under Nowell's pillow out glided the rat-snake; quick as
thought he seized one rat, then another, and then another, by which time
the rats had scampered off.  He glided away in pursuit, and I conclude
returned and carried away the rest, if he did not eat them on the spot,
for they were gone when I awoke.

After hurriedly discussing some coffee and biscuit, we started on our
expedition.  Mr Fordyce and Nowell had each two rifles.  I had only
one.  Dango was told to keep near me.  Poor Solon was very unhappy at
again being left behind, but he was so very likely to get killed if he
flew at an elephant that it was but prudent not to take him with us.
Torches were lighted to show us the way and scare off wild beasts, as we
sallied forth from our tapestried chambers.  There was a slight crescent
moon, and the stars were shining with the most wonderful brilliancy in
the dark blue sky on the calm waters of a lake or ruined reservoir,
along which our course for some little distance lay.  There we had to
border round a piece of country which had some years before been subject
to the process of chena cultivation, but which, having been again
deserted, was covered with a dense thorny jungle such as no man could
force his way through without being almost torn in pieces, but which
affords a secure retreat to elephants and all other wild animals.  Close
to the edge of this the cultivated land of the village extended, and
people were stationed in watch-houses erected up among the branches of
the trees, shrieking and yelling, and beating drums, and making every
conceivable noise to drive back into the jungle the elephants who were
accustomed to take their morning repast off their fields of coracan, and
maize or millet.  It was well known that the rogue elephant was near,
and so audacious had he become, that though driven off from one part, he
was very likely to appear directly afterwards in another.  After waiting
for some time in the hopes of getting a shot at him from the trees, we
came to the conclusion that he suspected danger, and would not again
appear.  Nowell, who took the lead, therefore resolved to follow him.
Dango was too keen about the matter to object, though, as he observed,
"Many mans get killed so."

I ought to have said that Dango had been so much with the English, and
so often out with English sportsmen, that he could express himself very
tolerably in English.  Mr Fordyce, laughing, said that he should prefer
watching outside with the horses; so, accompanied by four of the most
active villagers, Nowell, Dango, and I prepared to penetrate through the
jungle.  Our only mode of escaping the thorns was to crawl on our hands
and knees, trailing our rifles after us; and to do this without the
certainty of their going off, we had to secure the locks in cases.  Then
we had the possibility of meeting unexpectedly with a cobra di capello,
or boa constrictor, or a wild boar, or more dangerous still, a bear,
besides running a risk of having our eyes scratched out, and other
little inconveniences of that sort.  Our chief object was to avoid
making any noise.

After proceeding some way, we could hear the rustling sound of the
leaves, as the rogue, as we supposed, moved his head or perhaps only his
ears among them.  I held my breath.  There were no tall trees near
behind which we could run should he espy us.  Our only chance of safety
was in bringing him down by a shot.  We were well to windward of him,
and he had not yet discovered us.  We all stopped, holding our breath,
with our rifles cocked, ready to fire.  We were not a dozen yards from
him, but so thick was the jungle that nothing of him could be seen.
Suddenly the peculiar "prur-r-r" sound I have described was heard.  I
saw Nowell and Dango exchange glances.  Suddenly the almost perfect
silence was broken by a loud shrill trumpeting, followed immediately by
a terrific crash such as an elephant only can make, as with his huge
body he pushes through the jungle.

"Here they come," cried Nowell; "it is not a single rogue--there may be
a dozen; we must turn them, or we shall be done for.  Fire at the
biggest, and perhaps the rest will take to flight."

I had no time to ask him how he knew this.  In truth, I am not ashamed
to say that I felt as I had never felt before.  Just as I expected to
see the herd of monsters appearing through the jungle, and either to see
one of them roll over from the effect of my rifle, or to have one of his
huge feet placed upon me, or to feel myself wriggling, like a worm in
the beak of a bird, in his trunk, Nowell shouted out, "They have winded
us--they have turned--they are running.  On, on--follow, follow."

This was more easily said than done.  The herd had, as we soon found,
formed a lane; but thousands of thorny creepers, from the size of cables
to the thinnest wires, still hung across it from bush to bush, and
cactus plants, from twenty feet and upwards in height, many overthrown
and partly crushed, presented their sword-like points as a
_chevaux-de-frise_ to impede our advance.  Still, in the excitement of
the chase we scarcely felt the pricks and punctures our bodies were
receiving, or saw the tatters to which our clothes were being reduced.
On we pushed, creeping under or jumping over obstacles, or hacking at
them with our knives--Dango and the natives using their axes with great
effect.  It seemed wonderful how their nearly naked skins did not get
torn off their bodies; but by long practice they knew how to avoid
obstacles far better than we did.  The elephants were going along before
us at a great rate, for at least twenty minutes had passed since we had
last seen them; still, we could not tell at what moment we might again
be upon them.  Dango once more cautioned us to be ready.  Not a sound
was heard.  The boughs were still quivering which they must have set in
motion.  We knew that we must be again close upon them.  Stealthily as
North American Indians on a war trail we crept on.  I began to feel much
more confidence than I had before done.  Still, I only hoped that the
elephants would not charge us.  We got our rifles ready for a shot.
Every instant we expected to be upon them, when suddenly the warning
"prur-r-r-r-r-t" was heard, followed by a loud crashing of boughs and
brushwood.  Were they about to charge us?  No; off they were again.  The
sun was getting up.  There was but little air that we could feel.
Still, there was enough to carry our scent down to the elephant.  It was
intensely hot.  We had had very little breakfast, and I began to think
that elephant-shooting was rather a serious sort of sport after all.
Nowell was too practised and keen a sportsman to think anything of the
sort, so hallooing me on again, we went ahead in the chase.  We had much
the same sort of ground as before.  I longed to be out of the jungle,
but the cunning elephants well knew that it was the safest sort of
country for them.  They could always keep out of sight in it, and might
if they wished charge us at any moment.  Had they been the ferocious
creatures some people describe them, this they would have done long
before.  By degrees, the little wind there had been died away, and Dango
intimated that the elephants were circling round, probably making for
the lake we had before passed.  This gave us fresh hope of overtaking
them.  On we pushed, therefore.  At length we came to a point where the
thick trail separated in two parts--one keeping to the left, the other
straight on.  Nowell determined to follow the latter, though it was the
narrowest, made by only two or three elephants, or perhaps only one.  We
knew now that we were less likely to be discovered by the elephants, as
they know of the approach of their enemies more by their scent than
their sight, which is supposed to be rather short.  Working our way on,
we entered a low jungle which had been a short time before a chena
plantation.  It was about five feet nigh, and it was of so dense a
character that no human being could have penetrated it unless in the
track of elephants.  We had not entered it more than five minutes, when
just before us appeared the retreating form of a huge elephant.  Nowell
started with delight and rushed on.  I followed close at his heels, and
Dango and the natives followed me.

It seemed extraordinary foolhardiness that a few men should have
ventured to follow close on the heels of a huge monster armed with
powers so prodigious as the elephant.  So it would have been had it not
been for those deadly little rifle balls we carried in our guns.

Nowell had almost got up to the monster, who, however, still went on.
What was my surprise to see Nowell suddenly stop, and lifting his rifle,
give him a bow chaser.  He must have expected to cripple him, and thus
to be better able to give him a shot in a vital part.  The elephant in a
moment halted, Nowell being almost close upon him.  Round the monster
turned with a terrific shriek of pain and fury.  Nowell sprang back only
just in time to get out of the way of his trunk.  The elephant for a
moment stood facing us, and blocking up the path in front.  We had the
narrow pathway he had formed through the jungle alone to retreat by.
Nowell had only one barrel loaded, and was not ten paces from the huge
brute.  Still, he stood calm as a statue.  I could not help expecting to
see him crushed the next instant beneath the elephant's feet, and
believed that I and those behind me would share his fate directly after.
In a clear grass country, with some trees to get behind, they might
have hoped to escape, as a man can run as fast as an elephant, and keep
it up longer; but in the tangled brake through which we had passed they
would not have the remotest chance of it.  If Nowell fell, I believed
that I should fall also.  The suspense lasted but a short time.  Raising
his trunk, and trumpeting with rage, on came the elephant.  Nowell still
stood steady as a rock, showing the firmest nerve; the elephant was
within six paces of him.  I stepped forward with my rifle levelled and
my eye on the elephant's forehead.  Nowell fired.  Through the smoke
which hung thickly around I saw the monster's head appearing with
terrible distinctness.  I heard Nowell's voice.  Whether or not the
elephant was crushing him I could not tell.  I fired my first barrel.  I
was about to fire the other, when the huge head sank down to the ground,
and from the cloud of smoke Nowell appeared standing within two feet of
the monster's trunk.

"Bravo! capitally done, Marsden!" he exclaimed in a clear voice.  "Your
shot is not far off mine, that I'll be bound."

The elephant lay dead before us.  He was right; his bullet had taken
effect in the elephant's forehead, and mine was two inches below it.
Which had killed him I do not know.  Probably either would have proved
mortal.  Certainly he dropped the moment he got mine.  We had done some
good; we had commenced the destruction of the marauding herd, but still
we had not killed the rogue.  Excited to the utmost by our success, and
ready for anything, we resolved if possible to accomplish that
undertaking before we returned to the village.

One of the natives cutting off the tail of the elephant we had killed,
we worked our way as well as we could out of the jungle, and found
ourselves in a more open country, with the lake on one side and some
hills on the other--the intervening space, sloping up the side of the
mountain, being covered with dense lemon grass, which we found on
approaching was twelve feet high.  Dango, on looking about and examining
the ground, assured us that the herd had gone in that direction, and
that the rogue himself was not far from him.  The spot was altogether a
very secluded one, and very likely to be the resort of large herds of
elephants.  Before us a promontory stretched out into the lake.  We
proceeded to the end to look out for elephants, as there was no doubt
that they frequented the lake to drink; but none were seen, so we judged
that they had retired into the cooler jungle after their morning repast.
We turned, therefore, back to the foot of the mountains on our left,
when the loud trumpeting or roaring of elephants brought us to a halt.
The roaring grew louder and louder, and as it reverberated among the
cliffs and rocks, it seemed more like distant thunder than any sound
which living animals could make, and more dread-inspiring than anything
I could have conceived.  Dango said at once that the sound must be made
by a large herd, and that they were a quarter of a mile off at least.
On drawing nearer, Dango discovered the tracks, though the ground was
hard and sandy, and covered with rocks.  He pointed out here and there a
stone displaced, and pieces of twigs, and crunched grass, and leaves
which the elephants had dropped while browsing as they sauntered on.
Here and there also we came to a soft place, where they had left the
marks of their huge feet.

It was now necessary to proceed with the greatest caution, for we knew
that we could not be many paces from the herd.  Having clambered over
and among a number of rocks with no little difficulty, we found
ourselves on the margin of a level space, so completely covered with the
lemon grass of which I have spoken that it was with difficulty we could
force our way through it.  Still, Nowell did not hesitate to enter it,
and of course I went with him, followed closely by Dango and the
natives.  Presently Nowell put his hand on my shoulder, and pointing
forward, I perceived the dark lump just rising above the tall grass,
less than forty yards off, with something moving about, which I soon
guessed was an elephant's ear, which it was flapping up and down.

Directly afterwards we made out another elephant close to it; and from
the peculiar movement of the grass in different places there could be no
doubt that we were close upon a large and just now scattered herd; but
as the grass was above their heads, we could not make out exactly how
many were in each spot.  Again we all stopped, and Nowell signed to the
men to be excessively careful; the slightest noise would have alarmed
them.  They might either have charged at us from different quarters, or
they might have turned tail and trotted off before we could get a shot
at them.  The two elephants we had at first seen, there could be little
doubt, from their superior height, were the leaders of the herd, and
probably the rogue was, as usual, at no great distance.  It was very
important, if we could, to ascertain his position, as he, we knew, was
most likely to be on the look-out, and to come suddenly upon us.  We
retreated slowly to a rock, from whence we thought we should get a
better view over the sea of grass, when I stumbled and hit the butt of
my rifle against a stone.  Slight as the noise was, it was enough to
awake the vigilance of the watchers.  At the same moment, high up above
the grass went their trunks, and they blew the loud shrill note of
alarm.  Immediately from different directions other trunks were thrown
up, each sounding an answering blast; and here and there the vast heads
of elephants appeared, with eyes glancing around, trying to ascertain
the nature of the danger of which their leaders had forewarned them.

All this time the two leaders were keeping up the most terrific,
rumbling roar, like peal upon peal of thunder, thus summoning the herd
to unite.  However, they did not show any disposition to retreat, but
kept gazing at us with ears cocked, as if they fully intended us
mischief.  We still kept as quiet as possible, hoping to see all the
herd unite before they attempted to decamp.  In a short time a very
considerable number had assembled round the two leaders, and there they
stood gazing at our faces just appearing above the grass, and seemingly
meditating whether they should make a rush at us or not.  Nowell seemed
to think that this was a favourable opportunity to advance towards them.
On we went through the high grass.  Had I not been with a good
sportsman like Nowell and a practised hunter like Dango, I should have
thought that what we were doing was the height of madness.  No sooner,
however, did we thus boldly advance than the greater portion of the herd
turned round and retreated before us.  At the same time the two leaders,
and a third who had joined them, as was the duty of the warriors
probably of the party, formed in line, and beating the grass right and
left with their trunks, with ears cocked, tails up, and uttering loud
screams, rushed forward directly at us.  My legs felt a strong
inclination to turn about and run away; but as Nowell in the coolest
manner advanced to meet them, so of necessity did I.

"Marsden, mark the right fellow, and aim carefully at the forehead,"
said he.  "I'll take the two left.  Dango, have the rifle ready to hand
me if I want it."

He spoke as calmly as if there was not a particle of danger, I began to
fancy that there was none, and that in a wonderful way gave me coolness.
I kept my rifle on the cock, ready to fire when he gave the word.  On
they came in a perfect line, till they were within ten paces of us.

"Fire!" he exclaimed.

The smoke obscured all before us.  There was still a tramping sound.  I
saw a huge head projecting out of it, while a terrific roar sounded
close to me.  I had still one barrel.  I fired, and the monster dropped
dead.  When the smoke cleared off we found that the right and left
beasts had been killed by our first shots, but that he had only wounded
the second elephant, my shot having killed him outright.  I was
exceedingly proud of my achievements, and it excited me to further
exertions.  I forgot all about my previous dislike to the idea of
killing the sagacious animals.  Indeed, after the tales the villagers
had told us of the devastations they had committed, I felt that we were
really conferring a great benefit on the poor people.

"On, on after them!" cried Nowell, as soon as we had reloaded and
inspected the elephants we had killed.

A wide lane was formed by the retreating elephants as they had crushed
through the tall grass, and we could see them in full retreat before us.
We rushed after them at a rapid rate, forgetting all the necessary
caution.  We soon gained upon them, and one of them turning his head,
Nowell fired, and over he went.  All the savage part of our nature was,
I believe, excited.  For my own part I only thought of how many
elephants I could kill.  Another animal turned--I believe that he was
going to stand at bay or to charge--I fired, the bullet hit him, and
down he went.  I was rushing up to him when Nowell shouted to me to
stop.  Fortunately he did so, for up got the monster with a cry of fury,
and charged us.  Nowell fired, and before the smoke had cleared away he
had ceased to struggle.  Still there were many more elephants, but they
began to scatter.  Nowell followed some to the right, while I, not
seeing that he had gone in that direction, went after some to the left.
They made up the mountain.  I found that Dango was coming after me,
having handed Nowell's second rifle to one of the other men.  Before us
appeared a large elephant and a little one not more than three and a
half feet in height.  We very quickly caught them up, when the mother--
if mother she was--instead of protecting the young one, retreated up the
mountain towards a thick jungle near at hand, leaving it in our power.
Dango, with a spring, caught it by the tail, but so strong was it, that
it was dragging him towards the jungle, when it turned round its trunk,
and he then caught that also, and there he held it, shouting lustily for
me to come and help him, while the little elephant kept bellowing and
roaring louder than even the big ones.  I hurried up and assisted in
dragging the poor little poonchy up to a tree, to which Dango, with some
of the flexible creepers which grew about, very quickly made it fast, at
the same time hobbling its feet so, that had it broken loose it could
not run away.  Just as we had done, while roaring away as loudly as a
full-grown elephant, it gave me a blow with its trunk which very nearly
flattened my nose in a very disagreeable way.  However, I felt that I
richly deserved the infliction, so did not retaliate.

All this time we fully expected to see the mother return to the
assistance of her charge, but still she kept away.  We therefore retired
to a little distance behind some rocks to wait for her; but we were not
wholly concealed, and although little poonchy kept roaring on, she still
kept carefully within the cover.  It was Dango's opinion, as it was
mine, that she was not the real mother of the little animal, but that
its own mother having been killed, it had gone to her for protection,
and that her own was somewhere with the herd.  Indeed, we had seen
another young elephant running off with the main body.

On looking down over the now well-trampled sea of lemon grass, we saw in
the distance several more elephants.  Wishing to rejoin Nowell, and to
have another chance of a shot, I descended the hill, followed by Dango.
We worked our way up to the spot where our three elephants lay, when my
companion shrieked out at the top of his voice--

"Sahib, sahib, look dere, look dere--elephant come!"  I did look towards
the point indicated, and there, sure enough, came a huge beast--who was
evidently, from his peculiar characteristics, every inch a rogue--
bursting at full charge through the tall grass.  He carried his trunk
high up in the air, while--with ears cocked, and his tail standing out
above his back like the ensign staff at the stern of a man-of-war's
boat--screaming terrifically, he rushed at me with scarcely credible
velocity.  To escape from him through that tall, thick grass was utterly
impossible.  What to him were mere gossamer threads served effectually
to stop my progress.  I had all along at first had some slight doubts as
to the wisdom of the expedition in which I was engaged.  I then
remembered that I foolishly had not loaded after I had fired my last
shot.  I had, consequently, only one barrel ready.

With his trunk raised I could not hope to hit the elephant on the
forehead even if I fired, so I resolved to wait till the last moment,
when he was close upon me, thinking that he might then lower it to
strike me, and expose a vital spot.  On he came with a speed greater
than I had supposed an elephant could use.  Right and left flew the long
grass, louder and louder grew his horrid screams as he saw that I was
within his power.  Still his trunk was raised, and I could not fire.  In
another moment, with a scream of triumph and gratified rage, he was
within three feet of me.  I fired, and immediately exerting all my
muscular powers to the utmost, I sprang on one side.  In vain it seemed.
Down like a flash of lightning he lashed his powerful trunk at me, and
I felt myself hurled through the air as a ball is sent off from a
golf-stick, to the distance of a dozen yards from him, or even more, I
thought.  Happily it was among the still standing grass.  I had been
struck on the thigh, and was not stunned, though the limb felt numbed,
and I thought must be smashed to pieces.  That little mattered, though,
as I fully expected to have my head in another moment in as bad a
condition.  I looked up; I could see where he was by the movement of the
top of the grass.  He stopped and kept beating the grass about on every
side with his trunk, evidently searching for me, that he might squeeze
the breath out of my body with his huge knees.  I lay as still as death,
not daring to breathe, for I knew that my only hope of safety lay in his
not discovering me till some one came up to my rescue.  What had become
of Dango I could not tell.  Nearer and nearer he drew.  It is impossible
to describe my sensations.  When I was standing upright with my weapon
in my hand, and hoped to bring him down by a shot, they had been very
terrible--now they were ten times worse.  I could hear the grass
rustling as he drew close to where I lay.  I should have liked to have
shut my eyes and resigned myself to my fate, but I could not.  Closer
and closer he drew.  His long black trunk waved several times about the
grass over the very spot where I was.  He bent it to the right and left,
as a heavy fall of rain with a strong wind does a field of corn.
Tighter I held my breath, and mercifully, in consequence of my having
reserved my fire till the muzzle of my rifle almost touched him, had so
nearly blinded him, and so dulled his power of scent, that he was less
able to discover me.  Had his trunk but grazed me as he struck it about
above my head, I should instantly have been discovered, and my fate
would have been sealed.  Round and round me he walked, roaring away in
his fury and disappointment at not finding me.  The circle grew larger,
and the noise of the rustling of the grass grew fainter.  Once more I
began to breathe, and to consider what was the matter with my leg.
Still I dared not move.  Perhaps the rogue was only standing still
watching for me.  No; the rustling continued, but every moment was
growing fainter.  It ceased altogether.  Then I heard some shouting and
loud trumpeting, followed quickly by three shots in succession.  I
earnestly hoped that Nowell had not been caught by the rogue.  I felt
thankful that I had thus far been saved, but still I was not certain
that I was safe.  At length I ventured to move my limbs to ascertain if
my thigh was broken.  I first found, to my great joy, that I was able to
crawl, and then that I could stand upright.  My cap was gone, and so was
my rifle, I could not tell where.  I felt the pain too great to proceed,
and so I shouted at the top of my voice for help.  An answer was made to
my cry, and soon Dango came working his way through the grass up to me.
The tears streamed down his cheeks when he saw me, for he thought I was
killed.  Unarmed it was useless for him to come to my rescue, and from
behind one of the dead elephants he had watched the proceedings of the
rogue.  He was now almost as anxious as I was to ascertain what had
become of Nowell and the natives.  He feared, as I did, that the rogue
might have caught them.

The conduct of the brute was a fair example of the mode in which rogues
generally proceed.  He had waited concealed, probably close at hand,
while we were attacking the rest of the herd, and then the instant he
saw that we were unprepared, had dashed out on us.  Had I attempted to
run when he got near me, he would have killed me in a moment by striking
me on the back; or, had I not jumped aside, he would equally have
finished me by a blow on the stomach; had he struck me on the shoulder,
he would only have knocked me down, so that the mode in which I was
struck was the only one by which my life could have been preserved.
Dango hunting about at length found my rifle, on the stock of which the
elephant had actually stepped, leaving his impress on it, and I having
picked up my cap, after loading the rifle, we followed the track of the
retreating rogue towards the spot where we had heard the last shots
fired.

On we went till we came on the huge body of the rogue, with Nowell and
the natives standing near.  He was measuring it, and found it nearly
fourteen feet in height, a huge monster even for Ceylon.  He had heard
my shot, and even when he saw the rogue with a wounded head, believing
that I had turned him, he had had no notion of the danger to which I had
been exposed.  I was helped to a stream of cold water which flowed down
from the mountain, and in this my thigh was bathed till the pain was
somewhat assuaged.  A litter was then formed of bamboos and creepers, on
which the natives bore me back towards the spot where we had left the
horses, while Dango led away the poor little poonchy.  At first the baby
elephant cried and roared most lustily; but, on food being given it,
after a short time it seemed reconciled to its fate.  A young elephant
is very soon tamed.

Mr Fordyce was delighted to see us back after our long absence, for he
had become really anxious about us.  He could scarcely credit the
account we had to give of the number of elephants we had killed, and I
suspect regretted that he had not been of our party.  Of course he was
very much concerned at finding how serious was the injury I received,
though, when we arrived in safety at the village, he could not help
saying in his usual facetious manner--

"Well, Marsden, I hope that you are satisfied with the specimen you have
had of the delights of elephant-shooting, and I only trust that you may
never meet a greater rogue than you did to-day."



CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

A WOUNDED VEDDAH--HOW A CHRISTIAN CAN DIE--ATTACKED BY BLACK ANT--
ABUNDANCE OF GAME--CATCH A CROCODILE ASLEEP--FIGHT WITH A BEAR--CHASE A
DEER--LOSE MY WAY--CLIMB UP A TREE--WHAT I SAW WHEN THERE.

I lay on a sofa for the remainder of the day and during all the night,
suffering great pain.  There was no surgeon within some hundred miles of
us, and the surgical knowledge of the natives was of a very limited
description.  Mr Fordyce and Nowell did their best for me, and kept
continually fomenting the limb with cold applications of vinegar and
water, by which the swelling was somewhat abated.  The skin, however,
was much broken, and soon became of a bright purple hue.  I felt
somewhat alarmed, but Dango begged that I would allow him to apply a
balsam composed of what I was told was margosse oil.  The odour was as
disagreeable as that of asafoetida, but not only did it keep all flies
away, but it had a most healing and cooling effect, so that after the
rest of another day I was able to mount my horse and proceed on our
journey.  Nowell passed the time by going out and shooting pea-fowl,
partridges, and small deer, which added considerably to our bill of fare
at dinner time.

During three days after this, we travelled through the dense forest
country I have before described.  Though nothing could be more sombre or
gloomy compared to the bright and open plain we had sometimes traversed,
I was thankful for the shade and coolness we obtained, as the heat might
again have inflamed my injured leg, I felt at first as if I had had a
lump of lead hanging on one side of my horse, but by walking a little
every day, that sensation gradually wore off, and in less than a week I
was as well as ever.

"You did well in destroying the elephants who were committing
depredations on our friends' fields, but I cannot allow you to
undertake, as knight-errants, to attack the rogues infesting all the
villages we pass through," observed Mr Fordyce.  "You will certainly
get expended yourselves, if you make the attempt."

Nowell was rather annoyed at this, as he, not having had the severe
lesson I had got, was still eager for more elephant-shooting.  While Mr
Fordyce was speaking, we were approaching the spot where we proposed
pitching our tent, near one of the many tanks I have mentioned, now, in
most instances, in a sadly ruined condition.  Suddenly our ears were
assailed by a wild and mournful cry.

"What can that be?"  I asked.

"Some human being in pain," answered Mr Fordyce, pressing on his horse
in the direction from whence the sound came.

We followed him till we came to a tree round which stood a number of
Veddahs, far less repulsive than those we had before seen.  In the
centre of the circle, sitting on the ground with his back against the
trunk, was a young man with a horrible wound in his stomach, through
which his intestines protruded.  There he sat, the picture of fortitude
and resignation; and though his companions exhibited their grief by
their wild howls, he did not show, by the contraction of a muscle, or by
any sign of impatience, that he felt the agony his wound was causing, or
that he feared the death which must be its result; at the same time the
perspiration streaming from his forehead, cheeks, and neck, showed the
terrible pain he was suffering.  Dango, who came up, inquired how the
accident had occurred, when he was told that the young Veddah had just
passed a wild buffalo in the cover, scarcely noticing it, when the
animal rushed out at him from behind, knocked him down, and gored him
from the groin upwards, as he fell.  It was pitiable to see him when we
felt how little aid we could afford him.  He looked up calmly in our
faces as if to seek for assurance and consolation there, but he could
have found but little of either.

"Such might be your fate, or indeed that of any one of us, as we are
traversing these wilds," observed Mr Fordyce.

The Veddah looked up at him that moment and spoke.  Mr Fordyce produced
a small copy of the New Testament from his pocket, and read some verses.
Instantly the young man's countenance brightened.  He knew and believed
the truths contained in that sacred book.  He had been educated at one
of the missionary establishments, afterwards abandoned; but the seed had
not fallen on stony ground.  Now our kind friend could afford both
comfort and consolation.  He continued reading to the poor man till a
litter could be formed, and some of the balsam I have mentioned could be
procured; his wound was washed and dressed, and bound up, and he was
carried to one of our tents.  Some of his companions followed and sat
outside, but did not attempt to enter.  Not a sound all the time did he
utter of complaint.  Now and then he pointed upward to show us that it
was from thence he received strength; that it was there he hoped soon to
go.  He had come, he said, to speak the truth to some of his tribe who
were yet unconverted, and totally ignorant of all knowledge of the
gospel; that he would be prevented from bringing those glad tidings to
them was the only cause he had to regret being so speedily summoned from
the world; but "God's ways are not man's ways," he observed, and he had
no doubt that He in his infinite wisdom had good reason for allowing
what had happened to occur.

Mr Fordyce asked him the names of those he would wish to speak to, and
he having given them, we went out with Dango to try and find them at a
spot a short distance from the camp, where we were told that the tribe
were assembled.  Some hundred people almost black, and destitute of
clothing, were assembled under the boughs and among the stems of a huge
banyan tree, which formed, as Nowell remarked, a sort of natural temple.
In front of it was a small stone altar, with fire burning on it, the
flames from which shed a lurid glare on the rapidly darkening shadows of
the huge tree.  Before the altar were two figures; the most unearthly,
horrible--indeed, I may say demoniacal--I have ever set eyes on.  I
could scarcely believe that they were human.  They were black, and with
the exception of a piece of cloth round the loins, totally destitute of
clothing; they had huge mouths, with grinning teeth and large rolling
eyes, while their hair hung from their heads in long snake-like locks,
like horses' tails, reaching almost to the ground.  They were shrieking
and howling, and making all sorts of horrible noises, while they jumped,
and leaped, and whirled round and round with the most extraordinary
grimaces, distorting their bodies in every conceivable form, while their
hair was tossed up and down in all directions, and whisked about like
the reef points of a sail in a gale of wind.

Dango looked at them with supreme contempt.  "They are devil-dancers,"
he observed.  "They have been sent for by this ignorant people to dance
for the recovery of the poor fellow we found wounded."

He was a Mohammedan himself, and had many superstitions which we could
not help thinking as sad.

After some difficulty he found the men we were in search of, and got
them to accompany us to the tent where the poor Veddah lay.  He sat up
while some came in, and others stood in front of it, and asked them some
questions, to which they replied briefly.  I had little doubt that it
was about the devil-dancers, and that they told him they had been doing
their best for his recovery.  Then he spoke to them long and earnestly,
though it seemed to me that his voice was growing weaker and weaker.
Still so eager, so absorbed was he in his subject, that he felt neither
pain nor weakness.  Now and then he asked questions, and his auditors
replied.  Then he went on again speaking rapidly, and oh, how earnestly!
He was evidently full of his subject; he was well aware how short might
be the time allowed him to impart to his friends those sacred, precious,
all-important truths he had himself learned.  As he went on speaking,
his countenance seemed to assume an almost beatific expression; the
tones of his voice were full of melody.  His friends listened with rapt
attention, tears streaming down from their eyes, their breasts heaved;
but not one moved his position, not a gesture was made.  Truly it seemed
as if some holy blessed spirit animated the dark form of one whom, under
other circumstances, we should have supposed to be a mere ignorant
debased savage.  I thought he must have sunk exhausted from the effort
he made to speak, but the spirit which animated him gave him strength
which seemed, not his own.  The sun went down, darkness came on rapidly,
still he continued speaking.  How solemnly impressive was that night
scene!

Our tents had been pitched under a tope of tamarind trees, near a small
but beautiful lake, which seemed to reflect every star which shone so
brilliantly in the cloudless and clear sky, while the constellation of
the Southern Cross assisted to remind me that we were in a far-off land,
and in another hemisphere to that in which I was born.  At the same
time, it seemed a sign and assurance that the glorious truths of the
Christian's faith, so long but dimly known in those regions, should from
henceforth be widely scattered throughout the whole of those broad lands
where that magnificent group of stars can be seen.

As I looked around I could see the elephants standing a little way off
under the trees, fanning themselves lazily with branches of trees to
drive off the mosquitoes, which tormented them.  Nearer were our
attendants sitting round their watch-fires, and close to them were
picketed the horses, to take advantage of the protection afforded by the
fires against any prowling bear or active leopard.  Perfect silence
never reigns in these grand solitudes.  Near us I could hear the
incessant metallic chirp of the hyla, the shrill call and reply of the
tree cricket, and the hum of myriads of insects of every description,
while from a distance resounded the hoarse voices of thousands of tank
frogs, which kept up a spirited concert till daylight.

Within our tents, where I went to lie down for a short time, overcome
with fatigue, numberless night-moths were fluttering about, and suddenly
I could see brilliant flashes circling around, now disappearing, now
returning, caused by a covey of fire-flies which had entered, and could
not for some time find the means of escape.  At length the tent was left
once more in darkness.  I slumbered uneasily for a few hours, and again
arose.  I was anxious to know how the poor Veddah was getting on.  I
scarcely expected to find him still alive; but as I got outside the
tent, I could hear his voice still addressing his people.  Mr Fordyce
had preceded me to the spot, and was listening attentively.  It was
already dawn.  As I looked at the party, it seemed to me that they
listened with as much attention as when he began.  They looked in the
dim uncertain light like a group of bronze statues.  As it grew lighter,
I perceived that the voice of the young man grew weaker.  The tent faced
the east, looking across the lake.  The glow of the rising sun
increased.  A wide expanse of the most brilliant golden hues was spread
over the whole of that part of the sky.  Then upward rose the sun
himself in all the glorious brilliancy of that lovely clime.  I saw the
young Veddah make a sign with his hand.  His friends stood aside.  He
gazed at the glorious orb of day, then he spoke once more, pointing to
it.  His friends turned and looked towards it.  Its rays fell full on
his countenance, and, dark as that was, from the expression which
animated it, it was perfectly beautiful.  His voice rose.  He was
telling his people of the glories of heaven; of Him who placed that
warmth-giving luminary there for their benefit, and who so loved the
world that He sent his only Son, that all who trust in him might be
saved from destruction.  This I was told afterwards.

I began to hope, from the strength the Veddah exhibited, that he was
less injured than we had supposed.  On a sudden, with his hand erected,
still pointing to the sky, with the words of the gospel still on his
lips, he fell back, and as his friends stooped down around him, their
cries and tears told us that he was gone.

"Oh," I thought, "who would not wish to die as that man we call a savage
has died!  What minister of Christ's holy truth could desire a more
glorious, a nobler end to his labours on earth; standing like a brave
soldier to the last moment at his post?  I am sure that young Veddah has
not died in vain.  Those he has been addressing have deeply imbibed the
truths of which he has told them.  Perhaps in no other way would they
have listened to them."

I was right.  The Veddahs soon recovered from their grief, or rather
ceased from exhibiting it, and placing the body on the litter on which
he had been brought to the tent, they carried it to the banyan tree,
where the rest of their tribe, with the horrible devil-dancers, were
still assembled.  Mr Fordyce, Nowell, and I followed.  They halted with
the bier, and one of them stepping forward, addressed the tribe,
pointing occasionally with great significance at the body.  The
countenances of many of them exhibited great astonishment; still more
so, when six of those who had been listening to the dying Veddah's
exhortations stepped forward, and taking the devil-dancers by the
shoulders, marched them away to a distance, first addressing them
vehemently in the hearing of the rest.  What they said I do not exactly
know, but I believe it was to point out to them the utter inefficacy,
besides the wickedness and folly, of their incantations.

The custom of the wild Veddahs is to cover up their dead with leaves,
then to desert the spot where they are laid; but we assisted in forming
a deep grave, into which the body of the young Christian Veddah was
lowered, while Mr Fordyce offered up prayers, that those who attended
might all in time come to a perfect knowledge of that truth which had
during the past night been so forcibly explained to them.  With much
regret we left those simple-minded savages, to continue our journey.  I
trust and believe that the seed sown that night ultimately brought forth
fruits, and that many of the tribe embraced the truths of Christianity.

For the greater part of the year the ground in Ceylon is so hardened by
the sun, that one is able to pass across the country without difficulty
in every direction.  The elephants and coolies, with our tents and
baggage, could rarely in a straight course make good more than fifteen
miles a-day, whereas Nowell and I found that we could even walk further
than that, and ride more than twice the distance.  We therefore
frequently used to push on, either before or after our noon-day rest, so
as to get some shooting, and, at all events, to kill some game for
provisioning our party.

One day a strongish breeze, which had somewhat cooled the air, tempted
us to start away rather earlier than usual after our rest at noon, we
having heard that we were approaching a country where a number of deer
and a quantity of other game was to be found.  By-the-bye, I had run a
great chance that night of being devoured by--not a leopard, or a hear,
or a crocodile, however.  I was asleep, when I suddenly began to dream
that I was Gulliver, or some such person, and that a thousand
Lilliputians were attempting to bind me, running their swords and spears
into me in the most unmerciful manner.  I awoke, and, putting out my
hands, began to pull off from my neck, face, and arms, handfuls of
insects.  I jumped out of bed, and instantly my legs were covered in the
same manner.  I shouted lustily for a light, awaking all the camp, when
Dango came running in with a torch, and I found myself covered with a
battalion at least of an army of black ants, each half an inch long,
which were marching across the country.  Their line was fully five feet
in breadth, and, as their custom is, they went straight up and down, and
over everything, never deviating to the right hand or the left.  Finding
our tent in the way, they had passed under the canvas, but, as my ill
luck would have it, exactly over my bed, and away they streamed out
again on the opposite side of the tent.  When I got out of the way, and
swept those on me off, they joined the main body and continued their
march.  Although provided with formidable mandibles, they are destitute
of venom, so that I only felt the punctures they made, without any
inflammation following.  When my sheets had once more assumed a snowy
appearance I turned in, and quiet was restored.

As we were setting off, Mr Fordyce told us that he would join us
perhaps in the cool of the evening, and charged us to take care of
ourselves, and not to follow any elephants or bears likely to teach us
that we had caught a Tartar.  Of course we said that we could and would
take very good care of ourselves.  Away we rode.  Dango with another man
led on foot, with Solon under their charge, Nowell and I following on
horseback.  Little did I think when I was a poor, knocked-about
midshipman on board the _Orion_, that I should be able to travel about
in Ceylon or anywhere else in such luxury.

I think that I have scarcely done justice to the beauty of the scenery
of the island and the infinite variety it presents.  The forests are not
without their peculiar attractions; the changes and number of tints are
very remarkable.  The old leaves are constantly turning red, and yellow,
and brown.  Falling to the ground, they are immediately replaced,
without being missed, by the young buds, some of the brightest yellow,
others of deep crimson, and others of green of every shade.

We suffered at first, this day, much from the heat, while travelling
along a narrow path cut through the dense jungle; and doubly delighted
were we when we once more emerged into a partially open country,
interspersed with clumps of trees and jungle, with hills, and a
water-course, and a tank or small lake in the distance.  We rode on till
we came to a part of the water-course, at which our horses and Solon
eagerly slaked their thirst.  We did not disdain to drink also.  While
seated near the water, under the shade of a lofty wide-spreading
kumbuk-tree, called by the Tamils maratha-maram, which extended its long
branches far over the water, we saw from a jungle a hundred yards
directly in front of us a noble buck step out, and, after throwing up
his head and gazing with surprise at us, begin leisurely to graze where
he stood.  Nowell was for trying the range of his rifle on him, but I
entreated him not to fire.

"No, no," I exclaimed; "let him have a chance for his life.  We might as
well hit a poor fellow who was down in a boxing-match.  Wait till we
invade his territory.  We shall find plenty of others to shoot."

Directly afterwards, three or four peacocks, one of whom had a train of
remarkable splendour, marched out on the green sward, and strutted up
and down, certainly offering tempting marks.  They were followed by a
number of jungle fowl, whose plumage gleamed with metallic lustre, and
who were so little fearful of man that they came within pistol-shot of
where we sat, on the opposite bank of the stream.  I had often seen
pictures of our first parents in Paradise, surrounded by the animals of
the field and the birds of the air, and here we had an exemplification
of how true such pictures may be to nature as it was before sin entered
into the world, and the brutes learned to dread man's cruelty and
tyranny.  We had directly after a further example of this.  Happening to
turn my head, I saw, not twenty yards behind the kumbuk-tree, what at
first I thought was a log of wood under some bushes of a buffalo-thorn.
I scarcely know what impulse made me approach it, as did the rest.
Solon set up a loud bark, and instantly the seeming log shoved out four
feet, and exhibited to our astonished eyes a hideous crocodile fully
twelve feet long, and evidently of prodigious strength.  Still more
terrific did he look when he began to turn round in a circle, hissing
and clanking his bony jaws, with his ugly green eye intently fixed on
us.  I felt a strong inclination to run away, for it seemed to me that
he might make a rush and snap one of us up in a moment; but as Nowell
and the natives stood their ground without fear, so did I, while Solon
continued his barking, but at the same time kept wisely at a very
respectful distance.  The truth was, that the crocodile, suddenly
aroused from his balmy slumbers, was far more frightened at us than we
had cause to be at him, and was completely paralysed.  Dango, knowing
this, struck him with his long pole, when he lay perfectly still,
looking to all appearance dead.  In a minute, however, while we were
watching, he looked cunningly round and made a rush towards the water,
which his instinct told him was the safest place for him to be in.  On
receiving, however, a second blow, he lay motionless and feigned death
as before.  Nowell then did what I certainly should not have thought of
attempting; he caught him by the tail, and pulled away with all his
might, but he could as easily have moved an elephant.  Dango poked him
on the back with his long pole.  Solon kept barking away, but did not
get within range of his jaws, knowing full well that he could use them
to good effect if he chose, and gobble him up in a moment; while I, at
Nowell's desire, belaboured his hard scales with a stout stick.
Meantime the other native was cutting a thin, long twig from a creeper,
and, while we were all hallooing and shrieking, and trying to arouse the
monster, he quietly inserted it under his arm, tickling him gently.  In
an instant he showed that he was alive, by drawing in the limb closely
to his side.  Again the native touched the huge monster gently under the
other arm, and he drew that in, twisting and wriggling about in the most
ridiculous way, just as a child does to avoid being tickled.  We could
not help bursting into shouts of laughter at the exhibition, and all my
respect for the mighty brute's powers vanishing, I gave way to an
impulse which seized me, and leaped on his back, while he began to crawl
off at a rapid rate to the tank.  The long twig again brought him to a
stand-still, not feeling, probably, my weight upon him, and I was thus
enabled to leap off free of his jaws, which I had no desire even then to
encounter.  My return to _terra firma_ was hailed with delight by Solon,
who was in a great fright on seeing me borne away on the back of a
creature for which he had evidently an instinctive dread.  This was
shown when we attempted to cross the stream a little higher up by a
ford.  He kept falling back, and making every sign of an unwillingness
to enter the water, and it was only when I rode in that he consented to
push across close to my heels, barking furiously all the time.  Scarcely
was I out of the water when a huge head was protruded from a hole close
to the ford, and the jaws of a crocodile snapped with a loud clank just
behind my faithful dog's tail.  It made him spring forward like a bolt
shot from a bow, while my horse lashed out with his hind-legs, giving
the brute a blow under his jaw which must have knocked in some of his
teeth, and, as Nowell observed, somewhat spoiled his beauty.

Coming to another kumbuk-tree, close to which Dango said the cavalcade
would pass, we determined to leave our horses there under charge of the
native, and with Dango go after the game, which we were every instant
putting up in prodigious quantities.  Off we went with a good supply of
ammunition in our pouches, our rifles in our hands, and some biscuits
and small flasks of brandy and water in our pockets, which Mr Fordyce
made us take, though it was wisely somewhat weak.

The country was tolerably open.  There was jungle here and there, and
patches of wood, and then open grassy spaces, along which we were easily
able to make our way.  There were hills in the distance, spurs of the
centre chains, and water-courses and lakes.  I find that I have
frequently spoken of artificial and natural lakes.  It must be
understood that we often travelled for days together without meeting
them, through dense forest country; but such regions were almost
entirely destitute of game, because there was neither food nor water for
them, and there we had hitherto met with no adventure.

We very soon bagged three or four brace a-piece of jungle fowl and pea
fowl, as well as some black and red partridges, a hare, some pigeons,
and two little mouse deer; when in a grassy hollow before us, surrounded
by jungle, and interspersed with bushes of the long cockspur thorn, we
saw a herd of fifty or more deer feeding quietly and not aware of our
approach.  It was important to get near them without being seen or
winded, and to do this we kept close in under the taller trees, many of
them giants of the forest.  Dango led the way, Nowell followed, and I
brought up the rear, holding Solon back with a leash, for he was so
eager to pursue them that even I could not have restrained his
impatience.

Suddenly, as we thought that we were getting close to the deer, we heard
Dango exclaim, "Wallaha! wallaha!"  (a bear, a bear), and a huge grizzly
monster, descending from a tree in which he had been ensconced, appeared
directly in front of him, so much so, that we should have run the risk
of killing him had we ventured to fire.  His cry startled the deer, and
off they went fleet as the wind, we being left with the task of bagging
Master Bruin.  Dango had a spear in his hand and a hatchet in his belt.
He instinctively threw forward his left arm to receive the attack of the
brute, who was upon him before he could present his spear's point.  He
dropped it therefore, and felt for his hatchet.  With a fierce growl the
shaggy monster seized his arm.  At the moment I let Solon escape from
his leash, and off he flew, courageously leaping up at the bear's back,
which he seized with a grip which made the blood gush out.  This made us
still more afraid of firing, but we rushed up as fast as we could to the
encounter.  I thought that the bear would completely have torn off the
Moor man's arm; but, lifting up his axe, he struck the brute so heavy a
blow that he almost cut his head in two; but yet, though the blow was
mortal, he did not fall, but, turning round, made off through the jungle
followed by Dango and Nowell, with Solon still hanging pertinaciously on
his flanks.  Anxious for Solon's safety, I was rushing on at the same
time, when from behind another tree another bear confronted me.  I
presented my rifle and was about to fire, when off he went through the
thick underwood.  I saw that it would be bad generalship to leave so
formidable an enemy in our rear, so I felt that it would be my duty to
follow him.  This I did as fast as I could, but he waddled along at a
quickish pace, breaking the stout boughs with wonderful ease as he
forced his way through them.  I managed, however, to keep his shaggy
back in sight, and again got pretty close up to him, following at his
tail with the intention of shooting him between the shoulders, as soon
as an open space in the brushwood would allow me to do so.  It was a
hazardous experiment, but the seeming cowardice of the crocodile had
made me feel somewhat of contempt for the bear.  I was on the point of
lifting my rifle, when with a fierce roar he rapidly turned round and
literally leaped on the muzzle.  I remembered my narrow escape from the
rogue elephant, and scarcely expected to be so fortunate again.  I fired
first one barrel, then the other in rapid succession, directly in his
breast, as he threw his whole weight against my rifle, and completely
forced me back.  All I remember was a crackling of bushes, a terrific
roar, a confused cloud of smoke, and a dark mass above me.  I lay
stunned, I believe, for some time, and then I heard a bark, and some one
exclaim,--"Poor fellow; O dear, O dear, he is killed."

"No, I'm not quite," cried I from under the bear.  Then there was a
pulling and hauling, in which Solon lent his jaws, and paws, if not his
hands, and the huge bear was partly pulled off me stone dead, and I was
partly pulled out from beneath the bear, both my friend and I fully
expecting to find all my bones broken, and my rifle doubled up.  My
astonishment was as great as my satisfaction and thankfulness, when I
discovered that when I tried to get up I could do so, and that when I
shook myself none of my bones rattled; indeed, except a bruise or two,
there was very little the matter with me, while my rifle was in the same
perfect condition.  I had, too, single-handed killed the bear, a thing,
Nowell said, to be somewhat proud of in the sporting way.  I did not
allude to the horrid fright I had been in, and certainly hoped that I
might never have such another encounter.

The Ceylon bear, indeed, is a very savage animal, and will, I heard,
frequently attack people without the slightest provocation.  Dango cut
out the bears' tongues and put them in his game-bag; while I, having
swallowed a few drops of brandy and water, felt perfectly recovered.

We now once more turned our attention to the deer.  The report of our
rifles had frightened the herds nearest to us, but after walking on for
a mile or so we came upon some tracks of deer, by following up which,
with great caution, hiding behind every rock and bush, we espied at
length another large herd.  They were at some distance on the opposite
side of a grassy level, and near what may best be described as open
forest country.  To approach them near enough to get a good shot,
without being discovered, was the difficulty.  Following Dango's
example, who crept on through the high grass on hands and knees, now
finding some bushes behind which we could run on at a more rapid pace,
now once more crawling on as before, keeping our bodies concealed merely
by a high tuft of grass, we at length got within a distance at which
Nowell thought that we might hope to bring down our game.

Suddenly we saw one of the deer, acting sentinel to the rest, raise his
antlered head, and look anxiously around.  We were all kneeling behind a
low bush.  Whether or not they heard any noise we might have made in
bringing up our rifles to raise them to our shoulders, or that Solon
gave a low bark of impatience, I do not know, but like a flash of
lightning, almost before we had singled out which of them we would fire
at, away they dashed towards the forest.  We each of us fired both our
barrels.  We felt convinced that two deer at least were struck, and now
concealment being no longer necessary, across the wide glade we ran at
full speed, and soon came up to the spot where the herd had been
feeding.  Drops of blood on the grass showed us that our shots had taken
effect, and following them closely, we hoped soon to come up with the
wounded deer, as we could still see some of the herd among the trunks of
the trees in the distance.  On we went, not stopping to reload our
rifles, Solon, highly delighted at having his talents brought into
requisition, leading the way at full speed, but without barking, which
he seemed to know would only frighten the game.  After running on
rapidly for some way the forest became much denser, and it was more
difficult to see any distance ahead.

Probably in consequence of the cuff I got from the rogue elephant, and
my late encounter with the bear, I was not so strong and active as
usual, and was bringing up the rear at some little distance from my
companions, when a creeper caught my foot and over I went.  I struck my
head, I fancy, against the thick root of a tree rising out of the
ground, and was so much hurt that a minute or more passed before I could
rise.  By the time I was on my feet, and had looked about me, Solon and
my companions had disappeared.  I had little doubt about overtaking them
speedily, as I had still before me the bloody track of the wounded deer.
Keeping my eyes on it, I went on as fast as I could run.  Again the
forest opened a little.  I thought that the traces had grown less
distinct, or rather lighter than before.  Whereas hitherto every foot
nearly of ground had been marked with a drop of blood, now I could only
discover one at the distance of one or two yards from each other.  I did
not shout even to ask my companions to stop for me, so fully persuaded
was I that I should soon come up with them.  I was conscious, however,
that I was not making such good way as at first, and I knew that till
they brought the stag to bay, or till it dropped, they would probably
outstrip me.  On I went.  Every moment I thought that I most overtake
Nowell and Dango.  Sometimes I even fancied that I heard their voices
before me, and Solon's well-known bark.  This encouraged me to proceed,
and I ran even faster than before.  Of course I was in a terrific heat,
having to carry my heavy rifle, and to go along at such speed for so
long a time.  At length I came to an open glade.  Still the deer tracks
marked the grass, so I hurried across and found myself in another open
clump of trees.  I thought by the direction in which the trees cast
their long shadows over the ground that I was making a straight course,
and so I believe I was.  On, on I ran; an unnatural excitement, it seems
to me, had seized me; I did not like the idea that Nowell was hunting a
deer with my dog, and would catch it when I was not present, so I said
to myself, "I am determined to be in at the death at all events."  I
could not possibly calculate how far I had gone, nor how time had
passed.  At length my legs began to feel an excessive weariness, and my
usual senses returning, I observed that the sun was rapidly sinking
towards the horizon.  On stopping and reflecting for a moment, the
thought struck me with painful vividness, that I must by some means or
other have followed a different track from my companions and missed them
altogether.  The thought that such was too probably the case almost took
away my breath, and made my heart sink within me.  I was aware that
bears and leopards were likely to abound in the neighbourhood, with
probably serpents of various sorts, and I knew not what other wild
beasts or reptiles I might have to encounter during the dark hours of
night.  The first thing I did was wisely to stop and load my rifle,
which I ought to have done long before.  This is a safe rule in shooting
in a wild country, never to be tempted to move without first having
reloaded one gun.  I next looked out for some elevated spot whence I
could make a survey of the surrounding country, that I might take the
best line to regain the camp.  I searched in vain, and at last I
determined to climb a tree from which I might obtain an extensive
look-out.  It was some time before I found one which I could manage to
get up, and from the topmost boughs of which I at the same time might
obtain such an extensive view as would be of any use to me, I at last
found a tree answering my wishes.  Of course I could not carry my rifle
up with me, so I had to leave it leaning against the trunk.  I did not
know the name of the tree I was climbing, but it was a tall and very
handsome one, having dark purple flowers at the end of its branches, of
peculiar richness and beauty.  Up I went to the very top, and when I got
there I wished myself down again, for I could not see any points to
assist me in finding my way, while, having bruised some of the
fine-looking flowers, so horrible an odour proceeded from them that I
could scarcely bear to remain where I was.  I soon, therefore,
descended; but just as I reached the lower branches, I saw below me an
object which made me thankful that I was safe up the tree.  I have since
ascertained that the tree is called the _Sterculia foetida_.  It is one
of the greatest and tallest of the Ceylon forest trees, but the flowers
as well as the fruit emit a stench so detestable as properly to entitle
it to its characteristic botanical name.  The fruit also is curious.  It
consists of several crimson cases of the consistency of leather, which
enclose a number of black seeds, bead-like in form.  On the bursting of
their envelope these, when ripe, are dispersed.



CHAPTER FIFTEEN.

ENCOUNTER WITH A BOA-CONSTRICTOR--MEET A GIANT--FIND MYSELF AMONG THE
RUINS OF AN ANCIENT CITY--SURROUNDED BY SNAKES--TAKE SHELTER IN A RUIN--
HORRIBLE ADVENTURES IN IT--ATTACKED BY BEARS--HOW I PASSED THE NIGHT--
SOLON'S RETURN--SEE A LEOPARD ABOUT TO SPRING ON ME--SOLON WATCHES ME
WHILE I SLEEP.

The object I saw, when perched up on the bough, was sufficiently
terrible in appearance to make my hair stand on end.  It was a huge
boa-constrictor, which came gliding along the grass noiselessly towards
the foot of the tree.  I was entirely unarmed, for my rifle was on the
ground below me, and I had no time to descend to obtain it.  I felt,
too, that my position was very insecure, for I had heard of boas raising
their heads ten feet or more from the ground by the strength of their
tails, and of climbing to the very topmost crests of the loftiest
palm-trees.  I thought that by some means or other the vast snake had
scented me out, or seen me, and that he would climb the tree to get at
me.  I had heard of birds being fascinated by serpents, and falling
helplessly into their jaws, and I really felt a sensation something akin
to what I suppose they must.  I did not exactly feel inclined to jump
down into his mouth, but I thought that very likely I should let go my
hold and fall down.  I am not ashamed to confess having had that
feeling, but I tried to conquer it, and it soon wore off, and then I
began to consider how I might best escape the dreadful Python.  At first
I thought that I would climb up to the very highest branch, in the hopes
that the boa would not venture to follow me there, for fear of breaking
it with his weight; and then it occurred to me that I might possibly
escape by working my way along to the very end of one of the lower
branches, and, while he was climbing the stem, drop to the ground and
run off.  The height was great, though, and the ground so hard that I
had sufficient reason to fear that I might injure myself in my fall.
Besides this, I felt certain that the huge serpent could drop the moment
he saw what I was about, and make chase after me.  Terrible indeed were
my sensations.  What was passing seemed like a horrid dream.  I could
scarcely believe that it was all true.  The serpent seemed fully twenty
feet long, with a large head, and a yellow body covered with black
marks--a more hideous-looking creature it was scarcely possible to
conceive.  How I longed for my rifle, which stood up uselessly against
the stem of the tree; I only hoped that the serpent would catch hold of
it, and perhaps shoot himself!  Perhaps he might think fit to swallow
it, and then there was a great chance of its sending its two bullets
through him.  The idea tickled my fancy so much, that, terrible as was
my position, I could not help bursting into a fit of laughter.  The
operation seemed to do me good.  I laughed away till I could not refrain
from descending to where I could watch the rifle, with the full
expectation of seeing the boa swallow it.  I saw my rifle, but I also
saw, what was curious enough, a deer, probably the one I had wounded and
followed, and who had come out of the jungle to take shelter under this
_very tree_.  At once I fancied that I had discovered the cause of the
boa's appearance.  He, in his wanderings in search of prey, had
undoubtedly come upon the blood-stained tracks of the wounded deer, and
had followed them up, till it had by chance espied the poor animal where
it then was.  I was only too thankful that it had not overtaken me, for
it would have undoubtedly seized me, under such circumstances, with as
little ceremony as it would the deer, and have as quickly disposed of
me.  In the excitement of the chase I should probably not have heard its
stealthy approach, and I shuddered as I thought of the narrow escape I
had had.  Still, I was not quite certain that I was safe.  I watched
anxiously for what was going to occur.  The poor deer did not attempt to
escape, but, trembling in every limb, looked at the boa as he glided on
stealthily towards it.  When the snake had got close to it, it butted at
him with its antlers, as if it had hopes of driving him off.  With a
sudden spring, however, which made me start by its rapidity and force,
the boa threw itself on its prey.  He first thrust out his long black
tongue and felt it, then he seized it by the leg, and throwing it down
in an instant, had wound the huge folds of his body round it, crushing
every bone in its body.  The deer bleated out its complaints, but its
cries grew fainter and fainter, and soon ceased.  The boa then, having
unwound himself, taking it by the nose, began to lubricate its body all
over with saliva, and gradually sucked it into his capacious mouth.  I
expected to see the horns act like a spritsail-yard, and prevent its
going down, but they went in also, and glided down his elastic and
muscular inside without causing him any inconvenience!  I waited till he
had thus effectually put a gag in his mouth, and then, though his head
was scarcely a yard from my rifle, I descended the tree and eagerly
grasped it.  So busy was he in gorging the deer, that he did not attempt
to move off, though it seemed to me that his wicked eye was fixed on me
with a meaning, which signified:--"Wait a little, my boy, and then, when
I have got down the deer, I will have a bite at you as a _bonne bouche_
for my supper."

"We'll see about that, Master Boa," said I, stepping back a little, and
levelling my rifle.  "I suspect that I shall spoil your supper, as you
have spoiled mine by eating up my deer."

Firing, I sent a ball right through his head, blowing it almost into
fragments.  The creature was not killed, but lashed out furiously with
its tail, twisting and turning in the most dreadful manner.  I had
always felt a dislike to put any creature into unnecessary pain, besides
being fully aware of its decided wrongfulness.  Loading, therefore, as
rapidly as I could, I got as near as was safe, and fired at the upper
part of its tail.  The shot was successful, and that instant it ceased
to move.  Seizing the boa, which had given me such a fright, by the
tail, I hauled it out to its full length, when, pacing along it, I found
it to be nearly, if not quite the length I had supposed, with a body
thicker than my thigh, and a head as big as a cocoa-nut--the throat and
mouth now distended in a wonderful way by the sausage-like body of the
deer.

A considerable time had been thus spent, and when, having shouldered my
rifle, I began to consider which direction I should take, I felt that I
had very little chance of finding my companions before dark.  While up
the tree, I had observed at some short distance what I took to be rocks
or ruins, and I bethought me that I might find among them some cave or
stronghold where I might rest for the night; or, better still, meet with
the habitation of a hermit or priest, some of whom still, I had heard,
occasionally take up their abode near the shattered temples of their
ancient faith.  With this hope I walked on in the direction I supposed
the rocks to be.  I kept my eye warily about me.  I felt that I was
surrounded by enemies.  I had already that day had experience enough of
the nature of the creatures which might attack me.

"A battle with a bear and a boa-constrictor in one day is pretty well
enough to satisfy a knight-errant," said I to myself.  "I have now only
to meet a rogue elephant, a wild boar, a buffalo, and a leopard, to fill
up the list of my possible opponents.  However, there is no use having a
faint heart; I'll push on boldly, and trust that I may be preserved from
all the dangers which may surround me."

I had remarked a distant hill top, and that, of which I occasionally got
a glance, together with the glow in the sky where the sun was sinking,
enabled me to steer a tolerably direct course in the direction I wished
to go.  After I had killed the serpent I loaded one of my barrels with
small shot, that I might kill a bird for my supper, the pangs of hunger
warning me that I should not get on at all without eating.  I very soon
knocked over a pea-fowl and a parrot.  Of the latter I had frequently
eaten pies during our journey.  I was thus in no fear of starving, and I
thought that if I could have had Solon with me I should have had no
cause to fear.  As it was, I felt very solitary, and not a little
uncomfortable.

The gloom increased.  I pushed on through a dense wood.  I thought that
I must be near the spot I was seeking.  It appeared to be a lighter
a-head, and I fancied that I saw the grey of the rocks against the sky
above them.  Eager to get out of the forest, where a bear or a boar
might, without giving me warning, pounce down on me, I pushed on, when
suddenly I saw what appeared to be a monstrous giant standing in the
portal of a cavern.  Instinctively I drew back.  Naturally my nerves
were in a very excited state after all that had occurred.  I expected to
see him, like the giants in fairy stories, rush forward and try to seize
me by the nape of the neck, to clap me into his pockets, or his caldron
or cavern, or any other receptacle for his victims.

"I'll have a shot at him, at all events, if he makes the attempt, and
show him the effects of a good English rifle," said I to myself.

I was standing under the shade of the wood, close by the trunk of a huge
tree.  As I peeped out, more clearly to observe the monster, it seemed
as if a bright light was playing round his head, while his eyes, I
fancied, kept moving round and round in search of something.  I thought
that perhaps he had heard my approach and was looking for me.  I could
almost have shrieked out with horror, but the so doing, it occurred to
me, would betray me.  So wonderfully real appeared the monster to my
excited imagination, that I was about to raise my rifle to my shoulder
to be ready to fire should he approach me, when the light on his head
faded away, and I saw that it had been caused by the glow of the setting
sun in the sky--the eyes sunk into their sockets, the features no longer
appeared in the bold relief in which they had before been presented, and
I discerned what I should probably, under other circumstances, have at
first discovered, that what I saw before me was but a colossal statue.
I now boldly advanced, half ashamed, though laughing at my previous
fears.  Its size made it appear nearer than it really was, and my
surprise was great indeed, when I at length got close up to it, to find
that it was at least fifty feet in height, and carved apparently out of
the solid rock.  I had no difficulty in determining that it must be a
statue of Buddha, and that I was standing amidst the ruins of one of his
temples.  Hungry as I was, I could not help examining it before I cooked
my supper, or looked out for a secure spot in which I might pass the
night.

The statue had with infinite labour been carved out of the living rock,
but so much detached from it that only two slender ties remained to
connect it with the vast mass of which it had once formed a part.  It
stood on a high platform, with a large bowl before it, in which the
offerings of worshippers, I conclude, were once wont to be deposited.
On either side huge pillars rose to support the roof which once covered
it.  Altogether, the mighty figure and the surrounding edifices were
more like what I should have expected to have seen in Egypt or among the
ruins of Nebuchadnezzar's once proud capital, than in that far off and
hitherto but little known region.

On every side, as I wandered on, I found ruins of what I have no doubt
were once temples, and palaces, and public edifices, some still in a
wonderful state of preservation, and others little more than shapeless
masses of debris and fallen brickwork.  As I clambered over them I saw
before me some arches in the side of the rock, which I thought probably
were at the entrance of chambers, one of which might serve as my abode
for the night.  I hurried on, for it was already getting so dark that I
had good reason to fear I should be unable to find the sort of place of
which I was in search before I was altogether benighted.  I had cut a
stick to help me along, or I should not have been able to get over the
rough ground so well.  I had gone on some way when a loud hiss close to
me made me start, and I could just discern a big snake wriggling out
from a crevice near which I had passed.  I turned aside, when I was
saluted in the same way.  I was about to go back, when I saw two snakes
wriggling along across the only place I could have passed.  I felt that
I was in for it, as the saying is.  I cannot describe my sensations.
They may be far more easily supposed.  To go forward seemed the best
course I could pursue.  So on I went.  I tried not to jump, or shrink,
or cry aloud when every now and then a serpent darted out his long
forked tongue at me and hissed; but it was difficult to command my
nerves.  I knew that a large number of the snakes in Ceylon are not
venomous, and all I could do was to try and persuade myself that these
were among the harmless ones.  Those that came near me I struck at with
my stick, and quickly sent them to the right-about, for, happily, most
serpents are cowardly creatures, and only seize their prey when they can
do so unawares or at a great advantage.  Even the deadly cobra di
capello, one of the most venomous of all, is speedily put to flight, and
only bites when trod on or carelessly handled.  The knowledge of this
gave me a courage I should not otherwise have possessed, and so I
continued my course undaunted across the ruins.

On reaching the perpendicular face of the cliff, I found, as I had
supposed, that the arches I had seen formed the entrance to chambers of
some size, and on inspecting one of them, as far as the waning light
would let me, I resolved to take up my abode in it for the night.  As,
however, I could not eat the game I had killed raw, I had first to
collect materials for a fire.  They were not wanting in the forest,
where I had observed an abundance of fallen branches and leaves.  I had
remarked also a welang-tree, from which the Veddahs form their arrows,
and also torches are made from it.  I now discovered a much shorter path
across the fallen ruins than the one I had come.  I hurried on, for I
had only a few more minutes of daylight to expect.  Picking up two or
three fallen branches of the welang tree, and as large a bundle of other
wood as I could carry, I retraced my steps to the excavation in the
rock, where I threw it down, and went back for more.  I was not long in
this way in collecting a supply to last me for some hours, I hoped, for
so hot was the atmosphere that I could only have borne to sit by a small
fire.  I had picked up some rotten wood to serve as tinder, and, as I
had a match-box in my pocket, I had no difficulty in creating a flame.
Some steps led up to the archway I had selected for my quarters.  I
carried my sticks up them, and made up my pile of wood in the mouth of
it.  I had an idea that it extended a considerable way into the
interior; but it was now so perfectly dark only a few feet from the
mouth, that I could not by possibility explore it till I had made some
of the torches I intended.  I collected a few large stones to sit on,
and made a platform on which to light my fire, that I might the better
roast my birds.  I put the tinder with some dry leaves close to it under
the pile, and then having lighted my match, I knelt down and began to
blow away to get it up into a blaze.  This, to my great satisfaction, I
had just accomplished, when suddenly I felt a pretty hard slap on the
side of my face, then another, and next my cap was knocked off, and such
a whisking, and whirling, and screeching took place around the fire, and
about my head especially, that I could not help fancying for some time
that a whole legion of imps, or fairies, or hobgoblins of some sort had
taken it into their heads to hold their revels in the cavern, totally
regardless of my presence.  My sober senses, however, in a short time
returned, and as the flames blazed up more brightly I saw that my
tormentors were a vast number of bats, on whose long quiet retreat I had
intruded.  There seemed to be a great variety of them, and of many
different bright colours--yellow and orange, and red and green.  Some
were small, but many were of great size, formidable-looking fellows,
with wings three or four feet from tip to tip.  While I kept up a bright
flame, however, they were enabled to see me and to steer clear of my
head.  I soon discovered the reason why they kept so long flying round
and round the fire.  It was that a number of moths and winged insects
were attracted by the flames, which they followed to gobble up.  Their
presence was anything but pleasant, but I soon saw that it was utterly
impossible to avoid them.  The odour they caused was very disagreeable,
while the suffocating heat of the rock on which the sun had been shining
with full force for many hours was scarcely sufferable, and I wondered
how the former inhabitants of the city could have existed there.

Just then, I must observe, my own hunger absorbed my mind, and I had to
exert my wits to convert the food I had with me into an eatable state.
I very rapidly plucked the birds, and having cut out four forked sticks,
I stuck them among the stones, and with two others as spits I soon had
my birds roasting.  I had some biscuit, and some pepper and salt in my
bag, so that I had now no fear about making a satisfactory meal.  In a
country abounding in game like Ceylon, a person with a rifle in his
hand, and a supply of powder and shot or bullets, need never be in want
of an ample supply of food.  While my supper was cooking I cut the
sticks of the welang tree into convenient lengths, and, taking a large
stone, beat them away, turning them round and round till all the fibres
were thoroughly separated, and they became fit to serve as torches.  I
had plenty to do, for I was at the same time turning my spits to prevent
the birds from being burned.  In a short time I had the pea-fowl and
partridge ready to eat, though, I daresay, that they might not quite
have satisfied the fastidious taste of an aldermanic epicure.  I was so
hungry that I believe I could have eaten a couple more of birds if I had
had them.  I kept a portion, however, to serve me for breakfast the next
morning in case I was unable to kill any more.  I might, to be sure,
have added as many bats as I wished to my repast, but I saw none of the
flying squirrel species, the flesh of which is said to be very delicate
and nice.

When I had finished my supper I felt very drowsy, but was afraid of
going to sleep till I had ascertained what other beings might have
occupied the cavern.  Lighting one of my torches, I was delighted to
find that it burned brightly and steadily.  Holding it in one hand,
while I felt my way with my stick with the other, I advanced cautiously
further into the recess.  As I could not carry my rifle also, I had left
that leaning against the arch near the fire.  The ground was tolerably
smooth, and covered over with sand, and earth, and dirt.  To my
surprise, after going a little distance I discovered that the cavern not
only extended straight forward into the rock, but that long galleries
had been excavated right and left within its face, like those in the
rock of Gibraltar, while others branched off again into the interior.
Altogether I was in a very different sort of place to what I wished for,
or to what I expected to find.  Still, it was now too late to look out
for an abode of smaller dimensions, and I determined to make the best of
this one.  I did not like to be long absent from my fire lest it should
go out, when I might not be able to find the place and my store of
fire-wood.  I therefore turned to go back to it.  I thought that I
should have no difficulty in finding my way, but I had not gone many
paces before I had to stop and consider whether I was mistaken or not.
The bats, too, considerably annoyed me.  Wherever I went they flew
about, knocking against my torch, and almost putting it out.  Still, I
did not think it possible that I could have missed my way.  I stopped to
reflect.  How often I had turned round I could not tell.  The horrid
bats had been so constantly attacking me, or rather my torch, and I had
so frequently whisked about in vain attempts to drive them off with my
stick, that I could not help arriving at the very unpleasant conclusion,
that I was unable in the remotest degree to tell in what direction lay
my fire, and what was of very much greater importance, my rifle.  The
torches manufactured by the natives will last two hours, but mine I saw
would burn out in a much shorter time, and then I asked myself, In what
condition should I be?  It was impossible not to anticipate something
very dreadful.  I had heard of people being eaten up by rats in similar
places, and I could not tell what liberties the bats might take with me
in the dark.  I remembered having been told all sorts of terrible things
which they were capable of doing.  I did not reflect whether they were
likely to be true or not.  Then there were serpents in abundance in the
neighbourhood.  Of their existence I had had ocular demonstration.  But,
besides them, I could not tell what wild beasts might not have their
habitations in the secret recesses of these long deserted mansions.
These thoughts passed very rapidly through my mind.  I had no time to
spare in thinking uselessly about the matter.  I must decide at once
what course to take.  The glare of my own torch would, I found, prevent
me seeing so easily that caused by the fire, so leaning it against the
wall in a recess, I hurried along what I conceived to be the chief
passage as far as a slight glimmer from the torch would allow me to go
in a direct line.  I could see no sign of my fire in that direction.  I
hurried back to my torch.  It was burning dreadfully low.  I repented my
folly in coming away without an additional one, and in leaving my rifle
behind me.  I now seized it in my hand and hurried on with it.  I came
to a place where two passages branched off at right angles to each
other.  One must therefore, I concluded, run right away into the
interior of the rock; the other on my left might possibly lead towards
the arch by which I had entered the labyrinth.  I took, therefore, the
one to the left, and once more placing my torch in a niche I walked on,
waving my stick in front of me.  I had gone twenty paces or so, though
it seemed five times that distance, when to my great delight I observed
a bright glare reflected on the wall on the right, which, as I supposed,
was opposite the arch I was in search of.  So eager was I to ascertain
this that I did not go back for my torch, but pushed on, believing that
I should have light enough when I got near the fire.  On I went; in my
eagerness I should have broken my nose by tumbling over bits of stone,
had I not brought myself up with my stick.  As it was, I got an ugly
tumble, and hurt my knee not a little.  I picked myself up and on I
went.  My fall taught me the prudence of caution, and once more I went
forward not quite so rapidly as before.  To my great joy I at last saw
my fire still blazing up, and rather more than I had expected too; but a
moment afterwards my joy was turned into dismay, for there, seated
before the fire, and munching the remainder of the birds I had kept for
my breakfast, I saw a huge bear.  His back was towards me, and I had
approached so silently over the soft ground that he had not heard me.
His olfactory nerves also were too well occupied with the fragrant smell
of the roast pea-fowl and pigeon to scent me out, which he might
otherwise probably have done.  He was evidently enjoying his unexpected
repast, and daintily picking the bones.  Had I left my spirit flask, I
suspect that he would have taken a pull at that to wash down his meal.
If I had but had my rifle in my hand I should have had no cause to fear
him, but as it was, I need not say that I did not feel at all happy
about the matter.  My weapon was leaning against the wall not two yards
from him, and I could not hope to get at it without being discovered.  I
had already had sufficient experience of the savage nature of Ceylon
bears to know the necessity of approaching him with the greatest
caution.  I bethought me that my safest plan would be to go back for the
end of my torch, and by keeping that before me dazzle his eyes, so that
I might get hold of my rifle.  I instantly hurried back to put the plan
in execution.  The torch was still burning, that I could see by the
glare it sent forth across the gallery.  In my eagerness I stumbled
twice, and hurt my shins very much.  I picked myself up and went on.  I
was afraid of my torch burning out, I had already got well within its
light when I thought I heard something moving over the ground behind me.
I turned my head.  Horror of horrors!  The light from the torch fell on
the shaggy breast and fierce muzzle of a huge bear--the brute I had no
doubt who had made free with my breakfast.  He was waddling along with
his paws extended, as if he fully purposed to give me a hug, which would
certainly have squeezed the breath out of my body.  I could have
shrieked out, but I did not.  Instead of that, I sprang on with frantic
energy towards my torch, which was already almost burned to the very
end.  I seized it eagerly, and facing about as the hear with a loud
growl made a spring at me, I dashed it full in his face, and under the
cover of a shower of sparks which were scattered from it I ran as fast
as my legs could carry me towards my fire.  The hear was so much
astonished by the unexpected reception of his amiable overtures that he
did not attempt to seize me, and, as may be supposed, I did not stop to
look whether he was about to follow me.  My first aim was to get hold of
my rifle.  With that in my hand I did not fear him.  On I ran.  I
happily did not stumble this time.  I daresay I was as pale as death--I
am sure I felt so.  Gasping for breath, I at length reached the fire.  I
hurriedly threw some branches on it to make it blaze up, that I might
see if my enemy was approaching, and how to aim at him, and then I
seized my rifle and stood with it ready to fire.  Master Bruin, however,
had been taught to feel a certain amount of respect for me.  He did not
make his appearance as I expected, and I began to hope that I should not
be drawn into another battle with him.  I had had fighting enough for
that day.  After waiting a little time I sat down, for I was sadly
tired; still I thought that for worlds I would not go to sleep.  Had I
done so I should have expected to have found myself in the jaws of some
monster or other.

The most important thing was to keep up a good light till sunrise, and
so my first care was to manufacture as many more torches as I had wood
for.  I had already found a torch so efficacious a defence, that I was
unwilling to be without one in my hand.

While thus employed, I thought I heard a low growl, and looking up, I
saw moving along the gallery within the aisle to which the glare of my
fire extended, not one bear, but two, looking at me evidently with no
very amiable intentions!  I should have had little fear of one, because,
had I missed with one of my barrels, I might have killed with the other;
but two such cunning and fierce fellows as bears were a fearful odds
against me, which I would gladly have avoided.  Still, I of course
determined to fight it out as best I could.  I threw still more wood on
my fire.  I lighted another torch, and stuck it between some stones by
my side, so that I might have a steadier light than the fire afforded,
the flickering flames from which very much confused the objects in the
further recesses of the galleries, and would have prevented me getting a
steady shot at my enemies.  Then I knelt down with my rifle presented,
ready to take a steady shot at the bears, should they show signs of
intending to attack me.  They looked at me, and I looked at them.  They
were licking their paws; whether they did so expecting to find some more
roast partridge and pea-fowl, or with the anticipation of a feast off
me, I could not tell.  I had no doubt that one of my visitors was the
bear I had seen, and the other his better half.  I was only very glad
that they had not a whole tribe of young bears and bearesses with them.

Under circumstances of such fearful suspense, it is difficult to say how
long a time may have passed--seconds appear minutes, and minutes hours.
The bears growled, and their angry voices sounded through the vaulted
passages like the echoes of distant thunder.  I felt inclined to roar
too.  Sometimes I thought that a loud shout might frighten them away.  I
was considering how loud I could shout.  Then I considered that my
wisest course would be to keep the most perfect silence, for roar loud
as I might, I could not roar as loud they could.  Once more they uttered
a horrible growl.  They were evidently holding a consultation as to what
they should do to me.  On they came nearer and nearer, uttering the most
menacing growls.  I had, I thought, but one chance--to knock over one of
them with one barrel, and the other with the second.  I pulled the
trigger.  The first barrel missed fire; the next did the same.  In my
agitation when last loading I had forgotten to put on the caps.  I had
no time even to remedy my neglect.  I was completely at the mercy of the
angry monsters.  I had but one chance, it seemed, of my life left.
Igniting another torch, I grasped one in each hand, and whirling it
around my head, I rushed boldly towards the bears, shrieking at the top
of my voice, and as I got up to them, dashing the blazing brands at
their muzzles.  The sudden and unexpected onslaught, and the noise I
made, had their due effect.  The bears halted, and then to my great joy
turned round and waddled off as fast as they could go.

Thankful for my preservation when I had given up all hopes of life, I
ran back again to my fire, put on caps to my rifle, and sat down pretty
nearly exhausted with my exertions.  Though I had driven the bears away
for the moment, I could not help fancying that they would very soon
again return.  In spite of this consciousness I felt most terribly
sleepy.  I would have given anything to be able to take half-an-hour's
sleep in safety.  Now, I knew if I fell asleep that I should fall into
the claws of the bears.  I was nodding.  I heard another low growl.  I
could endure it no longer, but, seizing my rifle in one hand, tucking a
bundle of torches under the same arm, and holding a lighted torch in the
other, I rushed from the ruins into the wood opposite.  I did not
reflect that I might have fallen from Scylla into Charybdis, or as some
less elegantly express the idea, have jumped from the frying-pan into
the fire; but, at all events, I had got further off from those terrible
bears.

Having thought of making so many torches was--no pun being intended--a
very bright idea.  I was now able to collect ample materials for another
fire.  I did not fail to do so, and soon it blazed up brightly, sending
its glare far and wide into the recesses of the wood.  I knew from
experience that it would be effectual in keeping elephants and buffaloes
at a distance, and I hoped that other wild animals might be scared off.
What crocodiles might have to say to me, I did not like to reflect, but
I thought that they could scarcely come out of their tanks at night to
pick me up by the side of a blazing fire, unless they might mistake me
for a roasting monkey, and as they prefer underdone meat, might carry me
off before I was completely cooked.

I had lighted my fire near the trunk of a large tree, against which I
leaned my back, part of the root rising above ground serving me as a
seat--indeed, it formed not a bad arm-chair.  I thought that I could
manage to sit up in this and keep awake till daylight, employing myself
in throwing sticks on the fire, and by using other devices to prevent
myself from going to sleep.  I went on doing this for some time, and
thought that I was doing bravely, then I found that one stick would not
leave my fingers.  By great exertions, however, I at last threw it in,
then I got another ready, but that tumbled down at my feet, and a third
slipped from my fingers, and then my arm fell down powerless by my side.
How long I slept I do not know.  I dreamed over all the scenes I had
witnessed since I came to the island, confusing and exaggerating them in
the most extraordinary manner.  I was galloping away on the backs of
wild elephants, charging huge boars, and tweaking ferocious bears by the
nose, while I had seized a huge boa-constrictor by the tail, and was
going away after him at the rate of some twenty miles an hour.  This
sort of work continued with various kaleidoscopic changes during the
remainder of that trying night.  Nowell, and Alfred, and Solon came into
the scene.  Nowell was riding on a wild buffalo; Alfred had mounted on
the shoulders of a bear; and Solon, with the greatest gravity, was
astraddle on, the back of a monster crocodile, to which Saint George's
green dragon was a mere pigmy, when the crocodile took it into his head
to plunge into the sea, at which Solon remonstrated and barked
vehemently.

I awoke with a start, and looking up, I saw a big leopard which had with
a bound alighted not six feet from me, while my faithful Solon was
standing over me tugging at my clothes and barking furiously at the
leopard.  The brute was preparing for another spring.  He had
providentially missed me with the first he made.  I felt for my rifle,
which I had placed by my side, but I dared not take my eyes off the
creature for a moment, lest he should be upon me.  My heart gave a jump
when I found my rifle, and knowing that it was now all ready, brought it
to my shoulder ready to fire.  I all the time kept my eyes intently
fixed on the leopard, for I was certain that in so doing lay my best
chance of escape.  The creature was in the very act of springing
forward.  Not a moment was to be lost.  Aiming directly at his head, I
fired.  Onward he came with a snarl and a bound, which brought him to
the spot where I had been sitting; but as I fired, I leaped aside behind
the tree, and he fell over among the ashes of the fire, which had long
completely gone out.

It was broad daylight; the sun was shining brightly among the branches
of the trees, and the parrots were chattering, and other birds were
singing their loudest, if not very musical notes.  All nature was awake,
and I felt how deeply grateful I ought to be that I was still alive, and
able to enjoy the numberless blessings and objects to delight, and
interest, and gratify the senses, with which the world abounds.  I
considered how mercifully I had been preserved during the long hours I
had slept in that utterly helpless state of deep sleep into which I had
fallen, till my faithful dog had been, sent to warn me of the danger
threatening my life.  The moment Solon saw the leopard fall dead he
leaped upon me, licked my face and hands, and exhibited every sign of
the most exuberant joy and satisfaction, arising both at having found me
and at having been the means of preserving my life.  He then flew at the
body of the leopard, and pulled and tugged at it to assure himself that
the beast was really dead.  When he had done this, he took not the
slightest further notice of it.

On examining him, I found that his coat was much torn, and so were his
feet, with thorns and briars, and I had little doubt that he had been
travelling all night to find me.  He looked also very tired and
famished, and as I also felt very hungry, I bethought me of trying to
kill some birds, to supply the place of those my friend Mr Bruin had
deprived me of in the night.  I therefore reloaded the barrel I had just
fired with small shot, and before many minutes a fine jungle-cock got
up, which I brought to the ground.  I loaded again, and killed a couple
of parrots.  So, as they would be ample for Solon and me, I instantly
plucked them, and kindling a fire, in ten minutes I had them on spits
roasting away merrily--merrily, at least, as far as Solon and I were
concerned, though, perhaps, the poor birds would have had a different
opinion on the matter.  I had, as may be seen, thus become a capital
woodman.  I kept, depend on it, a very bright look-out all the time for
my former visitors, the bears, lest a whiff of the roasting birds might
induce them to come back to get a share of the banquet.  I had now,
however, a vigilant watcher in Solon, who sat by my side wagging his
tail and observing the process of roasting with the greatest interest.
I wish, poor fellow, that he could have spoken, to tell me what had
become of Nowell and Dango.  I examined him to ascertain whether he had
brought me any note from my friend, but if he had had one tied round his
neck, it had been torn off by the bushes; but I thought it much more
probable that he had left them as soon as he had missed me, and set off
without letting them know, to try and find me out.

After he and I had breakfasted, I felt very weary and sleepy; and so,
feeling certain that he would keep a more vigilant watch over me than I
could myself when awake, I lay down with perfect confidence on the
ground, in the shade of a bo-tree, and slept as soundly as I ever did in
my life.  No dream disturbed me--not a thought passed through my mind.
The last thing I saw, before I closed my eyes, was Solon sitting up with
his head stretched over me, his ears outspread, his eyes looking sharply
round, and his nose pointed out, ready to catch the slightest scent of a
dangerous creature.  What a perfect picture, I have since thought, did
he present of true fidelity!



CHAPTER SIXTEEN.

WONDERFUL STATUE--DAGOBOS--TEMPLES AND OTHER RUINS--CONSIDER HOW TO FIND
MY WAY BACK TO THE CAMP--MEET A HERMIT--ATTACKED BY A BUFFALO--KILL IT
WITH ONE SHOT--THE UNEXPECTED MEETING WITH AN OLD ENGLISH GENTLEMAN--
ACCOMPANY HIM TO HIS CAMP--WHO HE PROVES TO BE--MEET LUMSDEN, MY
SCHOOLFELLOW--INQUIRIES ABOUT ALFRED--ANXIETY AS TO NOWELL'S FATE--WE
SET OUT IN SEARCH OF HIM AND DANGO--COLONY OF PAROQUETS--THE ANTHELIA--
FIND DANGO--THE FATE OF AN ELEPHANT-HUNTER.

I slept for an hour or more under the bo-tree, held sacred by the
worshippers of Buddah, in front of those strange, fantastic, and
gigantic remains of a bygone age and people.  When I awoke, there was
Solon sitting exactly in the attitude in which I had seen him when I
went to sleep.  The moment I opened my eyes, he began to lick my face
and hands, and to show every sign of satisfaction.

"It is your turn to sleep now, old Solon," said I, patting him on the
head, and pressing him down on the ground.

He seemed to understand me, and giving a couple of turns round, he
coiled himself up, and in a moment was fast asleep.  I do not think that
he had been asleep ten minutes before he jumped up, wagged his tail, and
ran forward, as much as to say--

"I am all ready now, master, to begin our journey; and it is high time,
I am sure, to be off."

I thought so likewise, but in what direction to go I could not tell, nor
did Solon seem to know much more about it.

Anxious, however, as I was to rejoin Nowell, I scarcely liked to leave
the extraordinary place in which I found myself without exploring the
vast ruins by which I was surrounded.  Daylight showed me that they
extended to an immense distance; the whole surface of the ground, as far
as my eye could reach, was covered with fragments of an ancient city;
the ground in many spots was literally coloured red by the masses of
brick crumbled into dust, while around I saw scattered in vast
quantities large and massive columns, which once must have formed a
support to innumerable temples, palaces, and public buildings of various
sorts.  Many parts of the ruins were completely overgrown with jungle.
I was forcing my way through it, when I saw at a little distance, partly
concealed by the foliage, a large elephant.  I thought that he appeared
to be standing listening to ascertain in what direction I was coming.

"An undoubted rogue," I said to myself, examining my rifle to ascertain
that the caps were on, and to be ready to fire should he attack me.  I
signed to Solon to keep close at my heels, and approached the monster
cautiously.  It was just the place where I might expect to meet with a
perfect rogue.  I crept on slowly.  I was surprised to find that Solon
took no notice of the elephant, though he kept, as I ordered him, close
behind me.  The elephant did not move.  I got nearer and nearer.  There
he stood, ready, it seemed, to make a rush at me.  I expected to see him
lift up his trunk and commence the assault; but he did not make the
slightest movement that I could perceive.  To be sure he was
considerably hidden by the foliage.  Perhaps he might be asleep.
Elephants do sleep standing.  That I knew.  He might have been stamping
with his feet, or cocking up his ears, for very frequently, as I
advanced, he was almost entirely concealed by the thick bushes.  I had
got within twenty paces of the monster, when, obtaining a clearer view
than before, I was struck by the unusual colour of the hide.  Still
nearer I got.  Surely an ear was wanting, and the trunk was of a very
odd shape.  In another minute I was indulging in a hearty fit of
laughter, as I found myself standing close under the elephant.  No
wonder it did not move, nor had it for many hundred years, for it was
carved, though roughly, out of a mass of stone; there it stood--a beast
of great size and excellent workmanship; and further on were fragments
of other elephants and bulls, as also of pedestals and stone sarcophagi,
covered with the most grotesque human figures, and many other curious
designs.

Wandering on for some distance, and passing all sorts of ruins, and
figures, and pillars, I came to what I took to be a lofty circular hill
covered with shrubs.  On getting nearer, I found a terrace, or platform,
surrounding it, out of which protruded the heads of gigantic elephants,
as if their bodies were supporting the seeming hill, but which I soon
discovered to be no hill, but a vast edifice, shaped like half an
egg-shell, composed of bricks, like the pyramids of Egypt.  I went up
the steps leading to the terrace, and entered beneath this wonderful
structure through a low archway.  Passages appeared to run through it in
different directions, but the horrible odour of the bats, which had
taken up their abode in those dark recesses for ages, and the fear I
naturally felt of meeting serpents or bears, induced me to refrain from
going further.  The wonderful building I have been describing, was, I
discovered, a dagoba--of which there are numbers in Ceylon--built much
with the same object as the pyramids of Egypt, and unsurpassed, except
by them, by any edifices in the world in point of size, and I may add,
in utter want of utility or beauty.  They were constructed, likewise, in
all probability, with pain and suffering, amid the groans, and tears,
and sighs of some conquered or enslaved people like the Israelites of
old.  Many of them were built from two to three hundred years before the
birth of our Lord.

Hurrying on, and feeling like one of the heroes in an Eastern tale who
suddenly finds himself in an enchanted city, as I gazed from side to
side at the wonderful ruins and remains I met, I reached another dagoba
of far vaster size than the one I had left.  It was covered with trees,
and huge masses of brick had been driven out of it by their roots; but
still its stupendous outlines were, it seemed, but little altered from
what they had been originally.  I afterwards heard particulars about it.
It had been originally 405 feet from the ground to the summit of the
spire.  It was built before the Christian era, and it is even now--most
of the spire having been destroyed--250 feet in height.  The radius of
its base is 180 feet, which is, I believe, the same measurement as the
height of the dome from the ground.  I was struck by the way in which
these huge structures, commemorative of man's pride and folly, have been
triumphed over by nature.  Tall trees grow on their very summits, and
their roots have wrenched and torn asunder the most gigantic and massive
masonry, and hurled it crumbling to the plains below.  Sir Emmerson
Tennent, in his delightful work on Ceylon, describes one of these
dagobas, that of Jayta-wana-rama, erected by Mahasen, A.D. 330:--

"It still rises to the height of 249 feet, and is clothed to the summit
with trees of the largest size.  The solid mass of masonry in this vast
mound is prodigious.  Its diameter is 360 feet, and its present height
(including the pedestal and spire) 249 feet, so that the contents of the
semicircular dome of brickwork and the platform of stone, 720 feet
square, and 14 feet high, exceed 20,000,000 of cubical feet.  Even with
the facilities which modern invention supplies for economising labour,
the building of such a mass would at present occupy five hundred
bricklayers from six to seven years, and would involve an expenditure of
at least a million sterling.  The materials are sufficient to raise
eight thousand houses, each with 20 feet frontage, and these would form
thirty streets half a mile in length.  They would construct a town the
size of Ipswich or Coventry; they would line an ordinary railway tunnel
20 miles long, or form a wall one foot in thickness and 10 feet in
height, reaching from London to Edinburgh.  In the infancy of art, the
origin of these `high places' may possibly have been the ambition to
expand the earthen mound which covered the ashes of the dead into the
dimensions of the eternal hills--the earliest altars for adoration and
sacrifice.  And in their present condition, alike defiant of decay and
triumphant over time, they are invested with singular interest as
monuments of an age before the people of the East had learned to hollow
caves in rocks, or elevate temples on the solid earth."  Having somewhat
satisfied my curiosity, I felt that I should not delay a moment longer
in trying to find my way back to my friends.  How this was to be
accomplished I could not tell.  I tried to get Solon to lead the way,
but though he wagged his tail and looked very wise when I spoke to him,
running on ahead a short distance, he always came back again to my
heels, and evidently did not know more about the matter than I did.  The
affair was now growing somewhat serious.  Nowell would, I had no doubt,
be wandering about searching for me, and Mr Fordyce could not fail to
be excessively anxious at our not returning.  To start off again through
the forest in the expectation of falling in with them seemed worse than
useless.  We might be wandering about day after day, searching for each
other in vain, till all our ammunition was expended, and might easily
then fall victims to rogue elephants, or bears, or other wild beasts.
The contemplation of such a catastrophe was not pleasant; but still,
what was to be done?  I asked the question of myself over and over
again, I examined my ammunition, and found that I had eight bullets and
a dozen or more charges of small shot, with an ample supply of powder;
so that, if I did not throw my shots away, I might hope to supply myself
with food for several days.  To stand still would never do.  I believed
my friends were to the south of me, so I was pushing on in that
direction, when suddenly I came upon an open space free from jungle,
with a beautiful expanse of water, blue and glittering in the sunshine,
spread out before me.  Tall trees fringed the greater part of its banks;
but here and there columns, and domes, and carved arches, and huge
statues appeared among them, their strange and fantastic images
reflected in the mirror-like surface.  Beyond them, towering up into the
clear sky, rose at different distances several of those prodigious
structures, the dagobas, which I have described.  The whole scene, as I
beheld it in the light of that clear atmosphere, under the blaze of the
noonday sun, was most enchanting, while I sat down to shekel myself from
the heat beneath the shade of a mass of ruins, with wide-spreading
branches extending from their walls, which formed a complete roof over
my head.  The site of the ruined city into which I had wandered must
thus, I discovered, be of many miles in extent, and gave me an idea of
the power and magnificence of the monarchs who once possessed the
territory.  While England was scantily inhabited by tribes of painted
barbarians, here existed a people who had attained a high state of
civilisation, living in richly adorned palaces, having magnificent
temples, carving statues of gigantic proportions, erecting tombs and
monuments equal in height to mountains, and forming reservoirs of
lake-like extent.  And now, how great the contrast!  Those people were
then, and have ever since remained, sunk in the grossest superstition;
while the British, blessed with the light of gospel truth, have risen to
that height of civilisation which has given us the complete mastership
over the now fallen race which inhabit the country.  I do not know that
I said this in exactly these terms, but such was the tenor of the
thoughts which passed through my mind.

While I was resting and trying to determine some definite plan to pursue
in order to find either Nowell or Mr Fordyce, I saw a figure emerge
from some ruins on my right, and approach the late.  It was that of an
old man.  His skin was of a dark brown, and he wore a long white heard,
with a loose robe cast over his shoulder and round his loins.  His whole
appearance was in thorough keeping with the scene.  He filled a gourd he
carried with water, and was returning to the place he came from, when
his eye fell on me.  He started on seeing me, and then, putting down his
water-pitcher, advanced towards where I was sitting.  I rose to receive
him, as I should have done had he been the poorest peasant; but from the
dignity of his air and the gravity of his countenance, he seemed to be
much above that rank.  He salaamed, and so did I, imitating his action;
but it appeared that here our power of intercourse must cease, for I
soon discovered that he did not understand a word of my language more
than I did of his.

"Though I cannot speak to him, I will try, however, what effect signs
may have," I said to myself.

I set to work at once.  I took my stick and drew an outline of the shape
of the island on the sand.  Then I made a mark in the position of Kandy,
and another on the east side to show the position of Trincomalee,
clearly pronouncing the names of those two places.  Then I mounted my
stick, to show that I was riding along from one to the other, and I put
my arm out in the shape of a trunk, to show him that there were
elephants, and I changed my stick from hand to hand, by which I wished
him to understand that there were a number of people with us.  Having
marked a line somewhere between Kandy and Trincomalee, I drew some tents
on the sand, and seizing my gun, and putting it next to the stick twice,
to show that two people accompanied me, I ran on as if in chase of
animals.  Then I left my stick and ran up to the ruins, and putting my
head down to the ground, showed that I had slept there.  Then I got up
and ran about in different directions, to show that I could not decide
which way to go.  The old man seemed fully to comprehend me, and I
understood by the signs he made that if I would accompany him to his
abode, he would show me the way I was to take.  I accordingly followed
him, when, taking up his gourd of water, he led me to a small hut in
front of a large and aged pippul-tree, a species of banyan or Indian
fig.  The tree was surrounded by a wall covered with a variety of carved
work.  There were steps leading up to it, and a number of statues and
monuments within the enclosure.  I remarked the leaves, which were
constantly moving, like our own aspen.  Its leaves were heart-shaped,
with long attenuated points, and were attached to the stems by the most
slender stalks.  I had no difficulty in recognising it as one of the
sacred bo-trees of the Buddhists.  The great bo-tree of Ceylon was
planted B.C. 288 years.  It is, consequently, at the present time,
upwards of 2150 years old.  I also at once guessed that the old man was
a Buddhist priest, the guardian of the tree, and of a little temple
close at hand, built apparently out of the ruins which lay scattered
around.

To show that he was hospitably inclined, he placed before me a dish of
rice mixed with sugar and honey, which I thought very nice; as also some
mangoes, and several other fruits, of which I was not sorry to partake,
as the not over-well cooked repasts of tough birds and buffalo flesh, on
which I had subsisted for the last two days, had made me wish for
vegetable diet.

Having partaken of all that the old man set before me, I signified that
I was anxious to commence my journey, the hottest time of the day having
now passed away.  He understood me, and, taking a long staff in his
hand, he led the way, Solon and I following close behind him.  He had
gone on some distance, when he stopped before a vast number of granite
columns fully twelve feet high, standing thickly together like the trees
of a forest.  I do not exaggerate when I say that there were hundreds of
them, covering an immense extent of ground.  The old man pointed at
them, then, sighing deeply, on he went.  I afterwards learned that these
pillars are the remains of a vast monastery for Buddhist priests, built
by King Dutugaimunu one hundred and sixty years before Christ.  It
obtained the name of the Brazen Palace, on account of it having been
roofed with plates of brass.  It was raised on sixteen hundred columns
of granite twelve feet high, which were arranged in lines of forty in
each, so that it covered an area of upwards of two hundred and twenty
square feet.  The structure which rested on these columns was nine
stories in height.  It contained a thousand dormitories for priests, as
well as halls and other apartments for their exercise and accommodation.

"All these apartments were ornamented with beads which glittered like
gems.  The roof of the chief hall was supported by pillars of gold,
resting on lions and other animals.  The walls were adorned with pearls
and flowers formed of jewels.  In the centre was a superb throne of
ivory, with a golden sun on one side and a silver moon on the other,
while a canopy studded with diamonds glittered above all.  The rooms
were provided with rich carpets and couches, while even the ladle of the
rice-boiler was of gold."

This account gives us a tolerable notion of the luxury of the priestly
order of Buddhists in those days.  Indeed, they seem to have taught
their followers that the most virtuous acts they could perform would be
to bestow their wealth upon them.

I certainly had no idea that such vast and magnificent edifices had
existed in that part of the world in those days.  Leaving this region of
pillars, and passing several broken statues of different animals, we
were pursuing our way along the shores of another of those wonderful
tanks of which I have spoken, when suddenly I heard a shot in the
forest, then there was loud shouting and harking of dogs, and a huge
buffalo, mad with rage and fear, burst through the jungle, and catching
sight of the priest and me, with his head on the ground dashed towards
us.  There was a tree at a little distance, but it was too far off for
the old man to reach before the buffalo would be up to us.  I signed to
him to fly to it, intimating that I would defend him with my rifle.  He
took my advice, and hastened towards it.  Solon meantime ran off,
barking loudly, towards the buffalo.  This distracted somewhat the
animal's attention, and he stopped to consider, apparently, which he
should attack first, I might have hit him where he stood, but I
preferred waiting till he came nearer, that I might have less chance of
missing him.  He first made a charge at Solon, but the brave dog was too
quick for him, and nimbly leaped out of the way of his terrific horns.
Several times he stopped to butt at Solon, but without being able to
touch him.  Then he turned towards me.  Then my faithful dog saw that,
he attacked him still more pertinaciously.  I was afraid, however, when
I fired, that I might hit the dog should I miss the buffalo, and I
therefore kept shouting, "Solon, Solon," to call him off.  I never felt
more cool and composed.  I really believe that I could have taken a
pinch of snuff if I had had one.  It was very necessary that I should be
cool.  The buffalo had got within ten paces of me, and in another
instant he would have been over me, when, aiming at his forehead, I
fired, and down he dropped in midway career, stone dead.

"Bravo, my lad, bravo!"  I heard a voice exclaim from among the trees,
it seemed.  "Capitally done, capital!"

I looked round and saw riding out of the wood on my left a somewhat
thin, but active, wiry-looking old man, but evidently from the tone of
his voice and his appearance a gentleman.  Meantime the old priest came
back, and threw his arms round my neck to express to me the gratitude he
felt for the service I had done him.  I thought that I even saw tears
trickling down his eyes.  While this ceremony was going on, the old
gentleman rode up to the dead buffalo, and leaping from his horse
examined its head.

"A first-rate shot steadily planted.  You are a young sportsman.  How
came you here?" exclaimed the old gentleman.

I told him briefly how I was travelling through the country, and
following a deer had lost my companions.

"Not an uncommon occurrence.  However, I can help you out of your
difficulties, I hope, and enable you to find your friends," he answered,
in a brisk, kind tone.  "Come to my camp.  We shall find it pitched not
more than two or three miles from this, towards the other end of this
wilderness of ruins."

While we were speaking, a couple of Moors, hunters by profession they
seemed, and other attendants, brown and scantily clothed, came up with a
number of dogs.  They expressed great satisfaction at seeing the buffalo
dead, and cut out its tongue to carry away.  The stranger directed them,
as I understood, to return to the camp, saying that he would follow
leisurely in a short time.  He then turned to me.

"Thank the old Santon, and tell him you will not trouble him to come
further," said he.

I explained that I could not speak a word of his language.

"Oh, you have only lately come to the country," said the old gentleman.
"I will then act interpreter for you."

He spoke a few words to the hermit, and gave him a silver coin, which
the latter placed reverently in his bosom, bowing low at the same time.

"That is for himself, not for Buddha, though, I must tell him," observed
the old gentleman.  "We have no business to support their false gods and
impious worship, under any pretext whatever.  It only encourages them in
their errors, and brings down retribution on the heads of those who
ought to know better.  Now, come along, my lad.  I cannot take you up on
my horse, nor can I walk, but you appear to possess a pair of good legs,
which will carry you over the ground at a rate sufficient to keep up
with me.  Is that your dog?  He is a fine beast.  I must make his
acquaintance.  Now, wish the old hermit good-bye.  Salaam to him.  That
will do.  Come along.

"A fine old man that," he continued.  "It is a pity he should be a
priest of so absurd a faith.  Do you know anything about Buddhism?  The
Buddhists believe in the transmigration of souls (the doctrine of the
_metempsychosis_, as it is called).  In that respect they are like the
followers of Brahma.  It is doubtful, indeed, which is the older faith
of the two--whether Brahminism is a corruption of Buddhism, or whether
Buddhism is an attempt to restore Brahminism to its original purity.
Buddhism has existed for upwards of two thousand years; it is the chief
religion of the Chinese, and that indeed of upwards of one-third of the
human race at the present day.  Buddhists are practically atheists.
Buddha Gotama, to whom all Buddhists look up, was, they believe, the
incarnation of excellence.  They fancy that everything was made by
chance, and that Buddha was only infinitely superior to all other
beings, and therefore that he is a fit object of admiration and
contemplation, and that the height of happiness is to be absorbed in
some way, after having been purified by many changes, into his being.
They believe in the perfectibility of man, and therefore their great aim
is to become moral and virtuous, while the employment of their priests
is chiefly to contemplate virtue, and to inculcate its precepts and
practice.  Indeed, it may be said to be less a form of religion than a
school of philosophy.  Its worship appeals father to the reason than to
the imagination, through the instrumentality of rites and parades; and,
though ceremonies and festivals are introduced, the more enlightened are
anxious to explain that these are either innovations of the priesthood,
or in honour of some of the monarchs who have proved patrons and
defenders of the faith.  No people, perhaps, are so destitute of all
_warmth_ and fervour in their religion as the followers of Buddha.  They
believe because their ancestors believed, and they look with the most
perfect complacency on the doctrines of the various sects who surround
them.  As Sir Emmerson Tennent says--`The fervid earnestness of
Christianity, even in its most degenerate form, the fanatical enthusiasm
of Islam, the proud exclusiveness of Brahma, and even the zealous warmth
of other northern faiths, are all emotions utterly unknown and foreign
to the followers of Buddhism in Ceylon.  Yet, strange to tell, under all
the icy coldness of this barren system there burns below the
unextinguished fires of another and a darker superstition, whose flames
overtop the icy summits of the Buddhist philosophy, and excite a deeper
and more reverential awe in the imagination of the Singhalese.  As the
Hindus in process of time superadded to their exalted conceptions of
Brahma, and the benevolent attributes of Vishnu, their dismal dreams and
apprehensions, which embody themselves in the horrid worship of Siva,
and in invocations to propitiate the destroyer; so the followers of
Buddha, unsatisfied with the vain pretensions of unattainable
perfection, struck down by this internal consciousness of sin and
insufficiency, and seeing around them, instead of the reign of universal
happiness and the apotheosis of intellect and wisdom, nothing but the
ravages of crime and the sufferings produced by ignorance, have turned
with instinctive terror to propitiate the powers of evil, by whom alone
such miseries are supposed to be inflicted, and to worship the demons
and tormentors, to whom this superstition is contented to attribute a
circumscribed portion of power over the earth.'  They call their demons
Yakkas, and, like the Ghouls of the Mohammedans, they are supposed to
infest grave-yards.  They believe also in a demon for each form of
disease--delighting in the miseries of mankind.  Thus in every domestic
affliction the services of the _Kattadias_, or devil-priests, are sought
to exorcise the demon.  Although the more intelligent Singhalese
acknowledge the impropriety of this superstition, they themselves resort
to it in all their fears and afflictions.  It has been found to be the
greatest impediment to the establishment of Christianity; for, though
the people without much difficulty become nominal Christians, they cling
to the terrible rites of their secret demon-worship with such
pertinacity, that while outwardly conforming to the doctrines of the
truth, they still trust to the incantations and ceremonies of the devil
priests.  Notwithstanding this we must not despair.  The struggle with
Satan, the author of devil-worship, may be long and fierce, but if we go
on perseveringly endeavouring to spread a knowledge of the gospel, we
shall most assuredly gain the victory over him in the end."

Such were the remarks of the old gentleman as Solon and I walked
alongside him on our way to where he expected to find his camp pitched.
We found the tents pitched under a widespreading tamarind tree, in the
immediate neighbourhood of a number of cocoa-nut palms.  Close at hand
were piles of curious ruins, near a beautiful lake bordered by trees;
while carved slabs, fallen columns, and broken statues lay scattered
around.  The stranger's cortege was much of the same character as was
Mr Fordyce's.  Camp-fires were already lighted, near which the horses
were sheltered, while four or five elephants stood, as usual, busy
fanning off the flies in the background.

"I have a young companion with me, also a stranger in this country.  He
met with a slight accident, and could not come out hunting to-day.  I
have no doubt he will be glad to make your acquaintance."

The moment the old gentleman said these words my heart beat quick.  He
saw my agitation.  I thought of Alfred.

"Who is he--pray tell me?"  I asked.

His hand was on the curtain of the tent.  He made no answer, but threw
it back.  I entered.  A young man was there.  He looked up.  No, it was
not Alfred, but my old schoolfellow whom I had met at Teneriffe,
Lumsden.

"Marsden, my dear fellow, I am delighted to see you," he exclaimed,
jumping up.  "How did you find your way here?"

"Marsden!" ejaculated the old gentleman, looking earnestly at me.
"Marsden!--who are you?"

"Ralph Marsden, sir," I answered hurriedly.  "My father has lately died;
my mother was Miss Coventry."

"Then you are my grandson, young gentleman, and right glad I am to
welcome one who has proved himself so true a chip of the old block!"
exclaimed Mr Coventry.

I had had no doubt who he was from the moment I had seen Lumsden with
him.  He seized me by the shoulders, and, gazing in my face for a
minute, gave me as kind and warm a hug as I could expect to receive.

"Your old friend here told me to expect you, as you were come out in
search of poor Alfred.  What has become of him I cannot tell.  You heard
nothing of him at the Mauritius, I fear?"

"No, sir," I answered, much agitated and grieved.  "Cannot you tell me
where he is?"

"No, indeed, I cannot, my boy," replied Mr Coventry; "I would give much
to discover.  I have kept him actively employed ever since he found me
out.  He has been twice at the Mauritius, once I sent him off to
Singapore, and the last time I despatched him on a mission of importance
to Mozambique, after which, before returning here, he was again to go to
the Mauritius.  This was many months ago.  Not a line have I had from
him, nor can I obtain the slightest information as to what has become of
him.  He is not a good correspondent, as I daresay you have discovered.
After he left his ship, he took it into his head that his family would
consider that he had disgraced them, and begged that I would allow him
to call himself by a different name, hoping if he did not write home
that he might be considered dead, and be soon forgotten.  I did not
oppose his fancy, because I hoped that he would soon reason himself out
of it.  This will account for your not having heard of him, as also for
your father's not receiving any information when he wrote about him.
Had he written to me, poor man, I would have replied, and might have
perhaps induced the lad to return home.  However, let bygones be
bygones.  I am pleased with you, Ralph.  I like your notion of coming
out to look for poor Alfred, and your way of proceeding, and I will help
you by all the means in my power."

"Thank you, sir; thank you for all you say of me and promise to do," I
replied, taking my grandfather's hand.  "Now that I find you do not know
where Alfred is, the necessity of my searching for him is greater than
ever.  I feel that I hitherto have not been as diligent in carrying out
my object as I ought to have been.  I was always buoyed up with the idea
that you knew where Alfred was to be found, and was much less anxious
than I should have been had I known the true state of the case."

"It is happy for you that you did not know the true state of the case;
it is better for all of us that we do not know what the future may bring
forth," observed my grandfather.  "When you were at the Mauritius, it
appears Alfred had not reached the island, and I shall hear on our
arrival at Trincomalee whether he has since got there.  I expect also to
receive replies to various inquiries I have instituted in different
places, from Aden down the whole of the eastern coast of Africa.  I have
traced him as far as Aden, but I do not know the name of the vessel in
which he left that place.  I feel confident that he did not go up the
Red Sea, nor is he likely to have come eastward again.  You have thus,
then, a definite direction in which to search for him.  Rather a wide
region, certainly, and difficult of access, but by perseverance you may
in time succeed in your object."

My grandfather's remarks again raised my hopes of finding my brother.
At first when I discovered that he was not with him, I felt my heart
sink within me.

"I will continue my search for him in spite of pestiferous climates, or
savages, or any other difficulties which I may have to encounter," I
exclaimed, half speaking to myself.

"That is the spirit which will enable you to succeed, my lad," said my
grandfather, putting his hand on my back.  "And now I want to know all
about your family at home.  You have not yet told me."

I briefly told him all that had occurred, of my father's death, and of
the poverty in which my mother was left.  He looked very grave and sad
as I spoke.

"This should not have been," he muttered to himself.  "I have been an
unfeeling, unnatural father; wild, reckless, thinking only of myself,
and of gratifying my own roving propensities."

He was silent for some time.  "Ralph," he said suddenly, "I have made up
my mind to go home to see your mother.  I shall leave my property here
and in the Mauritius under the charge of careful agents, and set off as
soon as I can make the necessary arrangements.  I will leave ample means
with you to prosecute your inquiries, and you can return when you have
found your brother, or should you be led to believe that further search
is hopeless."

I need not enter into the particulars of our conversation during the
evening.  We had, however, a great deal.  My grandfather had numberless
questions to ask, which I had to answer; while I also had much
information to gain from him on a variety of subjects, on which he was
in no way unwilling to satisfy me.  I found him, as I had expected,
somewhat eccentric, but at the same time far more kind-hearted,
generous, and liberal, than I had been led to believe he was.

My great anxiety was now to get to Trincomalee as soon as possible, and
I believe that Mr Coventry equally wished to be there.  We could not,
however, proceed without letting Mr Fordyce know that I was in safety.
We were on the point of sending off messengers to try and discover his
camp, when a couple of armed natives were seen coming from among the
trees, followed by two laden elephants and a number of bearers, whom, as
they approached, I discovered to belong to Mr Fordyce's party.  On
finding who we were, they pitched their tents close to ours, and he
himself very soon afterwards made his appearance.  I could not but be
gratified at the pleasure he expressed on discovering that I was safe,
but I was much concerned to find that Nowell and Dango had not been
heard of.  He had sent scouts out in every direction, but not a trace of
them had hitherto been discovered.

As soon as I heard of this, I wanted to set out to search for my friend,
but both the old gentlemen protested against my doing so; indeed, I
myself was scarcely aware how tired and worn I was.  Mr Coventry was
also able to send out scouts to search for Nowell, so that I became now
reconciled to not going out myself for that purpose.  Lumsden, however,
volunteered to go out early the next morning to look for him should he
not have been found in the meantime.  We had an hour or more to spare
after we had dined before darkness would set in; and both my grandfather
and Mr Fordyce, having heard of a curious temple in the neighbourhood,
hewn in the bare rock, were anxious to employ the time in visiting it.
We set off on horseback, the distance being considerable, hoping to find
Nowell safe at the camp on our return.  We passed on our way heaps of
ruins, very similar to those I have before described, till at length we
found ourselves before the precipitous side of a hill of granite.  On
approaching nearer, we saw directly in front of us a temple about twenty
feet in height, the roof supported by pillars, with a sitting figure of
Buddha in the centre, the whole hewn out of the solid rock.  On the
right was a standing figure upwards of twenty feet in height, and beyond
it a recumbent one between forty and fifty feet long.  On our left was
another sitting statue placed on a pedestal, elaborately carved, with a
great deal of carved-work on the wall behind it.  All these statues were
of Buddha, the different attitudes being intended to represent his calm
and contemplative character.

"What is Monasticism but Buddhism under a slightly different form?  What
are hermits but Buddhists?  How different is true Christianity, with its
active spirit of benevolence ever going about to do good, and thus to
repress and overcome evil," I heard Mr Fordyce remark to my
grandfather.  He responded to the sentiment warmly.  "Unhappily,
Buddhism is to be found, not only in Asia, but in civilised Europe and
America," he remarked.  "What was the `Age of Reason' in France but
Buddhism fully developed?  What were its results?  Tyranny, murder,
cruelty unexampled.  Sinful and corrupt man--had we not the Bible to
tell us, history does so in every page, and the present state of the
world speaks loudly the same lesson--never has, and never can, guide
himself by reason alone.  Here we have throughout Asia one-third of the
inhabitants of the globe attempting openly to do so, and see in what a
state of moral degradation they are, and have been, as far back as their
records can carry us.  How lifeless, how soul-debasing is the system!
Though in theory the religion of Buddha is infinitely superior to that
of Brahma, how exactly similar are its effects on its votaries!  While
the Sepoy worshippers of the one in India were ruthlessly murdering men,
women, and children, the Chinese were attempting precisely the same acts
at Singapore and Sarawak, and wherever their numbers afforded them any
prospect of success; while nothing can exceed the cruelties they inflict
without compunction on each other.  This people, too, profess to believe
in a faith which inculcates mildness and gentleness; which forbids
taking the life of any living creature; which copies, indeed, all the
precepts of Christianity, but which, unlike Christianity, trusts
implicitly to the guidance of human reason, and ignores any other
influence.  Now, the true Christian does not ignore the guidance of
reason, but he does not trust to it.  To one thing only he trusts--the
guidance of the Holy Spirit of God, to be obtained through his grace by
faith, prayer, and obedience."

"I am glad to hear you speak thus, my old friend," said Mr Fordyce.
"No man can begin to think too early on the subject of religion; but it
is better late than never, when, through God's mercy, our lives have
been spared to do so at all.  How dreadful it is to contemplate a man
gradually sinking into the grave, who year after year has had the gospel
freely, liberally offered to him, nay, pressed upon him, and yet who has
refused, and continues to refuse, to accept it!"

"Yes, Fordyce, I feel deeply what you say," answered my grandfather.  "I
have lived too much to myself.  Henceforth I hope to live to serve One
to whom all honour and allegiance are due."

I need not say how thankful I felt at hearing my grandfather speak in
this way.  I had been taught to believe, and not incorrectly, that he
had led a thoughtless life, utterly indifferent to religion, and that it
was owing to this that he had lived abroad and shown no regard for my
mother.  Lately it seemed that a new heart had been given him, and that
he had become a changed man.

The conversation I have described took place in front of the rock-hewn
temple.  We were struck by the immense amount of labour bestowed on it.
First, a perpendicular face must have been given to the solid rock.  On
this the outline of the temple and the figures must have been drawn, and
then with chisel and hammer inch by inch cut out.  These temples, it
must be remembered, were formed at a time when art in Europe was at its
lowest ebb, and unable to produce anything at all equal to them.

Much interested in our trip, we rode back to the camp, where we hoped to
find Nowell; but though some of the scouts had come in, not a trace of
him had they discovered.

We passed the night in a state of the greatest anxiety for his safety.
I shall not forget the provoking din caused by a colony of paroquets
settled in a group of cocoa-nuts near at hand.  They had been away
searching for their evening repast when we arrived; but just at sunset
they came back in prodigious crowds, screaming, chattering, and frisking
about in the most amusing manner, as if delighted to meet each other
after the termination of their day's labour.  For some time, till
darkness warned them that it was time to go to rest, the din they made
literally prevented us from heaving each other speak.  At length they
were silent.  I was awoke, however, at the earliest dawn, by the voices
of one or two who called up their fellows.

"Good morning," said one, bowing and coquetting to another; "I hope that
you have passed a pleasant night."

"Fresh and moist, I thank you," was the answer, as Miss Polly shook the
dew from her feathers.  And thus one after the other woke up, and such a
chattering and clamouring commenced, as they walked up and down along
the thick leaf-stalks of the palms in the highest state of excitement,
preening their wings and making remarks on us, probably, and talking
over the plans of the day.  I jumped up and dressed, for I was anxious
to set off without delay to look for Nowell.  While a cup of coffee was
boiling, I walked out a little way from the camp to enjoy the freshness
of the morning air.  I had been admiring the glorious refulgence with
which the sun rose over the small lake, on the west shore of which we
were encamped, when, as I turned to retrace my steps to the tents across
the dewy grass, I was almost startled to see my shadow cast along it
with peculiar distinctness, while the shoulders and head were surrounded
by a brilliant halo.  I rubbed my eyes; I looked again and again; I
turned round and changed my position several times; but as often as my
back was turned to the sun and my eyes on the grass, there was exhibited
that most curious and beautiful appearance.  I walked on for some way,
endeavouring to account for the phenomenon, till I came to a spot
covered with blocks of stone and powdered bricks, and there it entirely
disappeared.  On reaching another grassy spot once more I saw it before
me, but much fainter than before; and by the time I reached the camp
scarcely any of the halo was to be seen.

My grandfather and all the party were on foot, and as soon as we had
partaken of some coffee and biscuit we mounted our horses, intending to
make a systematic search for Nowell.  With so experienced a hunter as
Dango in his company he was not likely to have lost his way or to be far
off, and therefore it was generally feared that some serious accident
must have happened to him.  Mr Fordyce, with some of the natives, went
in one direction; Lumsden, with some others, went in another; and Mr
Coventry said that, as he could not part with me, I must accompany him.
I took Solon with me, of course.  His sagacity had taught him the
importance of keeping directly behind me, and he showed no inclination
to stray.  Our journey must have appeared to him like travelling through
some enchanted country, full of strange monsters, with whom it would be
almost hopeless to contend.  We sent on the tents and canteens, and
agreed to rendezvous at a spot about three miles in advance should we
not find Nowell.

As we rode along I told my grandfather of the phenomenon I had seen at
sunrise.  He said that it is called the _Anthelia_.  It arises from the
rays of the sun thrown on the concave and convex surfaces of the
dew-drops, each particle furnishing a double reflection.  The halo is
caused chiefly, I fancy, by the contrast of the excessively dark shadow
with the surrounding brightness.  The further off the dew-drops are from
the eye the more brilliant do they appear, and thus cause the brightest
halo round the head.

We rode on for some way, sending our scouts out in every direction,
while we examined every spot in a more direct line where we thought it
possible our missing countryman might be found.  We had proceeded some
miles, and were about to turn off towards the spot we had agreed on as a
rendezvous for breakfast, when one of our hunters said that he perceived
recent signs of an elephant in the neighbourhood, and told us to be
careful, as he had little doubt from their being only one that it was a
rogue, and probably a fierce and cunning one.  This information, of
course, put us on the alert.  We looked to our rifles, and directed our
horse-keepers to walk at our horses' heads, that we might dismount in a
moment and he ready for action, while we kept our eyes about us in every
direction.  The hunter made a sign, pointing towards a thick jungle.  We
dismounted, leaving our horses with their keepers.  We had been passing
through a somewhat open country, with trees scattered about here and
there.  We advanced cautiously.  I saw the jungle in the distance move.
Solon barked as a signal that danger was near.  Presently there was a
loud trumpeting and roar, I may call it, not of fear, but of rage,
though it was sufficient to inspire fear.  There was a crashing of
boughs and underwood, and a huge elephant, with trunk uplifted, broke
through the jungle and rushed furiously at us.

"Now, my lad, I hear that you have already hit more than one elephant,
let me see what you can do," exclaimed my grandfather, the spirit of the
old sportsman rising within him.

He had with him a Moor, a first-rate hunter and shot, armed with a
rifle.  There was not much chance, therefore, of our missing the
elephant between us.  We all advanced towards him as soon as he
appeared.  As he kept his trunk up in the air, the difficulty of
shooting him on the forehead was much increased.  Our bold air somewhat
disconcerted him.  He stopped, apparently to single out one as his
victim.  At that same moment he lowered his trunk.

"Now, Ralph," cried my grandfather; "fire!"

I did so, aiming at the monster's forehead, though I was upwards of
thirty yards off.  Up went his trunk.  He rushed on, fury in his eye,
and the excess of rage indicated by his trumpeting.  It seemed scarcely
possible that some one of us should not suffer.  Yet I felt wonderfully
cool.  I waited a second; and then taking full aim, fired my second
barrel.  In an instant the huge monster stopped, and before the smoke
cleared away lay an inanimate mass on the ground, within twenty yards of
us.

My grandfather, when he saw what had occurred, seized me in his arms and
gave me a hug which well-nigh squeezed the breath out of my body.

"Well done! capitally done, my boy!" he exclaimed.  "I thought your shot
at the buffalo might have been chance, but I can now see what you are
made of.  Don't suppose, though, that I care so much about your being
able to kill a buffalo or an elephant, but it is the calmness of nerve
and the steadiness of eye I admire."

Just then we heard a cry, and looking round to ascertain whence it
proceeded, we saw a person perched up in a tree beckoning to us.
Leaving Solon, who was snuffing round and round the dead elephant, we
hurried on, when, as we got near the tree, I recognised Dango.  He cried
out that he was too much hurt to descend, and entreated that some of our
people would come up and help him to do so.  We waited with great
anxiety till he was got down, which was done by means of the ropes with
which the horses were tethered.  Poor fellow! he seemed to be in a state
of great suffering, and looked almost starved.  He was placed on the
grass, and as soon as a few drops of spirits and water had been poured
down his throat he was able to speak.  He then told us, that after I had
been separated from Nowell and him, and Solon had run after me, they had
set off to try and find me.  It was, however, close upon sunset when
they reached this spot.  They very soon discovered the traces of an
elephant, and were looking about to ascertain whether he was in front of
them, when a loud crashing of the boughs was heard, and he emerged from
the jungle close to them.  He first made at Dango, who knew that the
most dangerous thing he could do was to fly, unless he had a tree near
at hand behind which he could conceal himself; so facing the elephant he
boldly stood his ground, hoping that Nowell would kill the monster, or
that he should be able to leap out of his way.  Now on came the
elephant, trumpeting loudly.  Nowell lifted his rifle and fired.
Dreadful was the momentary suspense.  With a cry of rage the elephant
threw himself at Dango.  The Moor leaped aside, but not far enough to
prevent the elephant from knocking him over with his trunk, and putting
one of his huge feet on his leg.  He would have been killed had not
Nowell shouted and shrieked, to draw off the elephant's attention, while
he was reloading his rifle.  He succeeded almost too soon, and the brute
rushed at him.  He fired, but his eye had lost its accustomed exactness,
or his nerves were shaken, for again he missed hitting a vital part.
The moment Dango found himself free, he crawled away towards a tree at
some little distance, which the elephant had already passed.  Nowell
retreated, then halted, and once more pulled his trigger; his piece
missed fire.  Again and again he tried.  He had no time to put on a cap.
He endeavoured to escape his impending fate by flight.  He ran fast.
He saw a tree some yards off.  He hoped to reach it.  At first he
outstripped his savage pursuer; then his strength, it appeared, failed
him; he dropped his rifle and ran on.  Once more he gained ground on the
elephant.  He reached the tree, but he did not look to see on which side
the elephant was coming.  He ran round it and met his ruthless foe face
to face!  Not a cry escaped him.  Who can picture his sensations? on
another instant, the huge monster's whole weight was upon him.

"Dere--dere is de tree," said Dango, pointing to a large ebony tree at a
little distance.

We approached the spot with awe and dread.  There lay, recognised only
by parts of the dress, all that now remained on earth of the once gay,
gallant, and handsome Arthur Nowell, slain in an inglorious and useless
strife with a wild beast.  I shuddered as I thought how narrowly I had
escaped such a fate, and felt thankful for the mercy which had been
shown me.  Then as I looked once more at the spot, and remembered that
he who lay there had lately been my companion and friend, and that but a
few hours before I had seen him full of life and animation, with
cheerful voice eagerly pursuing the chase, I gave way to my feelings and
burst into tears.

Such has been the fate of many an elephant-hunter.  It was almost
impossible to carry the mangled remains to the camp, so with our
hunting-knives and spades, manufactured by our followers, in the course
of a few minutes we dug a grave in which we placed them.  Rudely carving
his name on the stem of the tree, while our followers carried poor
Dango, with sad hearts we returned to the camp.



CHAPTER SEVENTEEN.

GRIEF OF MR. FORDYCE--MAHINTALA--CATCH A CROCODILE--SINGING FISH--ARRIVE
AT TRINCOMALEE--EMBARK ON BOARD THE STAR--VISIT THE MALDIVES--ADEN--NEWS
OF ALFRED--ISLAND OF PERIM--MAGADONA--FURTHER NEWS OF ALFRED--FIND A
SHIPWRECKED SEAMAN ON A ROCK--WHO HE PROVED TO BE.

"And where is Nowell?  Have you not found him?" asked Mr Fordyce, as we
rode up to the rendez-vous, where breakfast was being prepared under the
shade of a banyan-tree.  I thought my kind friend's heart would have
broken when he heard what had occurred.

"I had begun to love him as a son, for the son he was of the friend and
companion of my youth.  His poor, poor mother, how this news will wring
her heart!  What grief and anguish is in store for her!"

I need not further dwell on Mr Fordyce's grief; but I cannot leave the
subject without reminding those of my readers who may some day be
inclined carelessly to risk their lives as Nowell and I had been doing
ours, first, that they have no right to do so--that they are committing
a great sin by the act; and then, also, that though they may be careless
of the consequences, that they have mothers and sisters, fathers and
brothers at home, to whose loving hearts their untimely fate will bring
many a bitter pang of grief.  It is a soldier's duty to be ready to die
fighting for his country; and though those at home mourn, and mourn
deeply, their grief is not bitter or full of anguish as it would be if
those they have lost had died in consequence of their own folly or
wickedness.

Nowell's death threw a gloom over our little party which it was
difficult to shake off.  I was struck by the way, the instant poor Dango
was brought into camp, my grandfather set to work to examine and dress
his hurts.

"My great fear is that mortification will set in before we can reach
Trincomalee," he remarked.  "His limb is so much crushed that I fear
amputation will be necessary to save the man's life."

He attended on the poor fellow with as much care and skill as any
medical man could have done, but his fear proved too well founded, and
before two days were over the daring and expert hunter had breathed his
last.

Anxious as we were to get to the termination of our journey, we could
not travel much faster than we had been doing.  As our progress was in
no way retarded by it, my grandfather took Lumsden and me to see any
object of interest which was within our reach.  The most extraordinary
was the mountain of Mahintala.  It rises suddenly out of the plain to
the height of upwards of 1000 feet; its sides are covered with wood,
huge masses of granite towering up on the summit.  The southern face is
almost precipitous, but on the north there is a sufficient slope to have
allowed of the formation of a thousand stone steps, leading from the
base to the highest point of the mountain.  Some of them are cut out of
the mountain itself, but others are formed of slabs of granite, fifteen
feet in width.  Each step averages a foot in height.  It was on the
summit of this mountain that the great prophet of Buddha, Mahindo, first
stopped when he came to Ceylon to establish his religion, and it was
here that he met the monarch of the country, whom he converted to his
faith.  On a platform near the top stands a dagoba, with a sort of
convent, intended for the habitation of the monks; and from thence the
steps continue upwards to the summit, which is crowned by a dagoba 100
feet in height, which is said to enshrine one solitary hair from the
forehead of Buddha.

This wonderful building has stood for upwards of eighteen centuries,
having been constructed about the first year of the Christian era.  It
is said that when it was completed the king had it covered by a rich
canopy, ornamented with pearls and other precious stones, while he
spread a carpet, eight miles in length, from Mahintala to Anarajapoora,
that pilgrims might proceed over it without washing their feet.  On the
level of the convent a tank has been formed for the use of the priests.

The whole level space near the summit must at one time have been covered
with buildings, from the vast quantity of ruins and fragments of
statues, and carved work of every description strewn about.  In spite of
the height we climbed up to the top.  The view is superb, extending
almost across the island from sea to sea.  Below us was a wide expanse
of forest, spreading around till lost in the far distance, while out of
it were seen rising the dagobas of Anarajapoora, with the artificial
lakes I have described glittering among them, and several curious rocks
and mountain heights dim and indistinct in the far distance.

As we drew near the sea we stopped one night in the neighbourhood of a
lagoon, in which the crocodiles were said to be very numerous, and of
prodigious size.  As we walked out by the side of the sheet of water
just before sunset, we found a number of natives collected there, who
seemed to be in a state of great agitation.  On inquiring, we were told
that a number of women were engaged in cutting rushes for making nets.
They were almost up to their waists, when great was their horror to see
the scaly back and tail of a huge crocodile appear among them.  They
turned to fly towards the shore, but at that instant a piercing shriek
gave notice that one of their number was seized.  The rest, as they
reached the shore, saw their helpless companion dragged away into deep
water.  In vain she shrieked--in vain she lifted up her hands
imploringly for assistance.  The horror-stricken group looked on without
attempting, probably without being able, to rescue her; and dreadful it
was to hear her cries and to see her struggles till, dragged into deep
water, she was concealed beneath its surface.  Some men having
assembled, they resolved to try and catch the crocodile, to punish him
for his atrocity.  For this purpose they baited a large hook.  It was
made fast, not to a single thick rope, but to a bunch of small ones,
which the monster cannot bite through as he does a large one, as they
sink into the spaces between his teeth, and thus secure it more firmly
in his mouth.  This collection of lines was carried out into deep water
by a buoy, and the end secured to some strong stakes driven in where it
was sufficiently shallow for the purpose.  The hook was baited with the
entrails of a goat.  Thus prepared, it was left during the night.

On leaving our tents the next morning, we found a strong strain on the
rope, and the natives soon collecting, a canoe was launched, and some
men getting into her, the line was made fast to her bow.  No sooner did
the crocodile feel himself hauled towards the shore, than he resisted
strongly, and away spun the canoe off towards the middle of the lagoon.
The crew tugged one way and the monster the other, and now and then he
raised his fierce-looking head above the surface, clashing his jaws
together with the most horrid sound, which showed that if he once got
the canoe between them he could easily crush it and its crew.

The crocodile has no fleshy lips.  All his mouth is composed of hard
bone, so that when he snaps with his teeth and jaws, it sounds exactly
as if two large pieces of hard wood had been struck together, and warns
any one of the fate they may expect if caught by them.

The natives, however, did not appear to fear him.  They let him haul
away and exhaust his strength, and then once more they paddled towards
the land.  Having at last carried the end of the line on shore, all
hands hauled away on it, and though he struggled vehemently, the
monster's huge snout was seen emerging from the water and gradually
approaching the dry land.  No sooner, however, was he fairly on shore
than he appeared stupified, or else he was pretending to be so, that he
might have an opportunity of catching some one unawares.  I was about to
go up to him to examine him more closely, when, with a terrific wag of
his huge tail, up he started and made a desperate effort to regain the
water.  He was soon hauled back again, however, and Lumsden and I had to
put an end to him by sending a couple of rifle balls into his side.  We
thought that we had killed him, for he lay perfectly still with his eyes
closed.  We were again running up to him, when one of the natives called
us back, and another pricking him with a spear, up he started as full of
life as ever once more, making a push for the water, with the hook and
line still in his mouth.  He was, however, soon brought back again, when
one of the natives pushed a long sharp spear into his neck, and drove it
home till it reached his heart.  Whether or not he was the monster who
had killed the woman we could not tell.  Certainly he had not swallowed
her, for on being cut open, his maw was found to contain only some
tortoises, and a quantity of gravel, and stones, and broken bricks.
Those hard substances he had swallowed to assist his digestion.  The
opinion of the natives was that he certainly was not the monster who had
carried off the woman, because had he been, he would not have returned
for more food.

Crocodiles are said never to attack people except when pressed by
hunger.  On such occasions they watch for deer and other animals which
come down to the tanks or lakes to drink, and, seizing them by their
heads, quickly draw them in.  I should think that a crocodile would find
an elephant a very tough morsel, though he might give him a very awkward
nip at the end of his snout.  At the same time, if any living creature
could crush a crocodile, an elephant's knees would do it.

It was a day's journey from this neighbourhood that we heard of the
existence of musical fish.  It was asserted that they sang so loudly
that their notes could be heard by those floating over the calm surface
of the lake where they were said to live.  My grandfather was a man who
never was content to believe anything from mere hearsay, when he had the
power of investigating the truth of an account.  Accordingly he engaged
a canoe, and the evening of our arrival, when the moon arose, we pulled
off to the locality spoken of.  The surface of the lake was like glass,
and as we listened there could be no doubt of it.  Sweet, gentle sounds
came up faintly, but clearly, from the depths below.  They reminded us
of those produced by a finger-glass when the edge is gently rubbed round
and round.  There was not one continuous note, but a number of gentle
sounds, each, however, in itself perfectly clear from a bass to the
sweetest treble.  On putting our ears against the side of the canoe the
sounds were much increased in volume.  They varied, too, in different
parts, and at some places we lost them altogether.  If the sounds
proceeded from fish this might have been caused by the shoals swimming
about, but then, on returning to the spot the notes were again heard as
before.  The natives asserted that they were produced by the inhabitants
of shells, and they showed us some which they called the crying shells,
from which they asserted the sounds proceeded.  From what we observed
and heard we were very much inclined to be of their opinion.  _Cerithium
Palustre_ is the scientific name of the shell in question; but I cannot
pretend to decide the point.

Shortly after this we reached Trincomalee.  Few harbours in the world
possess more beauty or are more perfect in their way than that of
Trincomalee.  It is so completely landlocked that its surface is as calm
as that of a lake.  Over its wide expanse are many lovely islands of
various sizes, while here and there bold headlands run into its waters,
and in other places the shores rise to a considerable height, covered
with trees, and lofty mountains are seen towering: up in the far
distance.  We at once agreed how infinitely superior it was to Point de
Galle, in whose unsafe roadsteads so many noble ships have been cast
away.  On the other hand, not only is the harbour of Trincomalee
renowned for its extent and security, but for its accessibility for
every description of craft at all seasons and in all weathers.  Of
course my own opinion is worth but little, but I heard it stated by
those who knew the country well, and are at the same time thoroughly
disinterested, that it possesses every requisite to make it both the
capital and the great commercial port of the island.  Except in the
immediate vicinity of the sea, the soil is far superior to that near
Point de Galle and Colombo, while the reasons which induced the former
possessors of the island to make those places the chief ports have now
ceased to be of importance; the chief of these reasons was the existence
of the cinnamon plantations near them, the greater number of which are
now abandoned.

Trincomalee is but a poor town, the only buildings of importance being
those belonging to Government.  There are also a number of Hindu temples
kept up, but they are in the most barbarous style.  They contributed to
make the crime of which England is guilty appear more glaring, that so
miserable a religion should still be in existence, after the country has
been so long governed by a Christian people.  I do not say that any
religion should be put down by force, but I do say that the example of
Christian men and the preaching of Christian ministers ought, and would,
by this time, have influenced the votaries of Brahma and Siva, had they
been brought to bear on them in a place where, as in Trincomalee, the
religion of the country differs from both of them.  The town has
extensive fortifications in the neighbourhood, but, under the modern
system of warfare, they would prove, I was told, of little or no value
as a defence to the place.  I thought it best to give this short account
of Trincomalee before resuming the narrative of my own adventures.

We had been in the place two days when a brig-of-war entered the
harbour, which, on her making her number, I found with great
satisfaction to be the _Star_.  Captain Armstrong was known to my
grandfather, so he accompanied me at once on board.  I was anxious to
go, as Captain Armstrong had promised to make all the inquiries in his
power about Alfred, and I could not help hoping that he might have heard
something about him.  Captain Armstrong received us most cordially.
When I inquired about my brother, he said that he had, after almost
abandoning all hope of hearing of him, discovered that he sailed in a
merchant brig, bound down the African coast, to trade chiefly in ivory,
gold, and other precious articles; but that there were rumours that the
vessel had been wrecked or cut off by the natives.  He did not
altogether credit this rumour, and he assured us that had he been at
liberty he would at once have followed her supposed course, and
endeavoured to ascertain its correctness.  He had, however, to return to
Ceylon and Madras.  Some repairs being required for his brig he had put
in to Trincomalee, in consequence of which I had thus happily fallen in
with him.

"And Marsden," he continued, "you remember the invitation I gave you to
take a cruise in the _Star_, I now repeat it, and I am glad to tell you
that, after visiting Aden, I have been directed to proceed down the east
coast of Africa, as far as Natal.  The object is that I may inquire into
matters connected with the abominable slave-trade, which has for some
time past, in spite of treaties and protestations, been carried on from
numerous places along that coast, especially at and near the settlements
belonging to the Portuguese.  I shall make it my especial business to
inquire after the missing vessel, and probably, indeed, my ostensible
object, so that we may hope to gain some tidings of your brother."  My
grandfather thanked Captain Armstrong very much for his kindness, and
so, of course, did I; and it was arranged that I was to go on board as
soon as the ship was ready for sea.  This, however, would not be for
nearly another week.  On leaving the cabin, what was my surprise to see
William Henley walking the deck with a gold lace to his cap, and the
crown and anchor on the buttons of his jacket.  I went up to him and
warmly shook his hand.  "What I have you entered the navy?"  I
exclaimed.  "Not exactly," he answered; "I have joined this ship as
pilot, as I am pretty well acquainted with the parts of the coast she is
about to visit, and, perhaps, the hope that I may assist in discovering
your missing brother may have influenced me in accepting Captain
Armstrong's offer of the berth."  I was very certain that this was the
case, for I had, I knew, gained his regards, and that he would be ready
to do a great deal to serve me.  "By-the-by, you will find two other old
shipmates aboard, who will be glad to hear that you are going to join
us," he continued, when I told him of Captain Armstrong's kindness.
"There they are."

I stepped forward, and there I found Johnny Spratt and Tommy Bigg, both
metamorphosed into regular men-of-war's men, though the latter was
certainly a very little one.  Johnny, I found, had entered before the
brig left Point de Galle.  He met an old shipmate belonging to the
_Star_, who persuaded him to enter, and he told me that he never
regretted having done so, as he was far better off in every respect than
he had been in the merchant-service.  Tommy had followed Mr Henley, and
only joined when he did.  He also seemed very happy, and looked twice as
brisk and active as he had ever been on board the Orion.  I was afraid
that Solon would not be allowed to accompany me, but when I spoke to the
captain, he answered good-naturedly--

"Oh, bring him by all means.  You will soon find that he makes plenty of
friends on board, for sailors delight in all sorts of pets, and more
especially in a little child, a monkey, or a dog, I suspect that they
will soon get him out of his gravity, however."

So it was arranged that Solon should accompany me.  I should have been
very sorry to have parted from him, and yet I would not have declined
Captain Armstrong's offer on that account.  I was so impatient to be off
that the week I was detained at Trincomalee appeared to pass very slowly
by.  I spent a good deal of my time with Mr Fordyce.  I wished to show
him, as much as possible, how sensible I was of all his kindness to me,
and I felt as if I had somewhat neglected him after I had met my
grandfather.  He had begun to get over poor Nowell's death, but he had
very far from recovered his usual buoyancy of spirits.  My grandfather
was very much engaged, partly in the business which had brought him to
Trincomalee, but chiefly in placing his affairs in a condition which
would enable him to return to England.  I was very glad to find that he
intended to intrust the charge of many important matters to my friend
Lumsden.  I had always found him at school a highly honourable and
conscientious boy; and I had every reason to believe that he was still
guided by the same high principles which then influenced his conduct.

The last words of my grandfather to me were, "Good-bye, Ralph, my dear
boy; I trust that we may meet again before many months are over, in Old
England, and that you will bring home Alfred safe with you."

Scarcely had Solon and I set our feet on the deck of the _Star_, than
the anchor was hove up, and sail being made, we ran out of the harbour
and stood away to the southward.  The first land we sighted was that of
the Maldive Islands, of which there are said to be upwards of forty
thousand.  They are all of a coral formation, and rise to an elevation
not exceeding fourteen feet above the ocean.  Generally they are much
lower.  The sea might easily be sent rolling over them, were they not
protected by long coral reefs and sandbanks of a circular form.  Through
these reefs there are passages of great depth, called atolls.  The water
inside is perfectly smooth.  We entered by one of them, brought up off
Mali, the chief island, which is about seven miles in circumference.  It
is the residence of the chief of all the group, who is called the
Sultan, and is now dependent on the British Government of Ceylon.  The
people are Mohammedans, and their numbers are said to amount to upwards
of one hundred and fifty thousand souls.  They produce Indian corn, and
millet, and sugar, and cotton; and there are numerous fine trees on the
islands--the uncultivated portions being covered with an impenetrable
jungle.  There are few animals on the islands.  Fish, however, is very
abundant, so that all the inhabitants might exist on them.

The captain's business with the sultan was soon concluded.  It was
interesting and curious to sail among the tree-covered islands, some of
the woods appearing to rise directly out of the water, while we threaded
our way out again from the group to the westward.  Our passage across
the Arabian Sea was as smooth as the most timid of navigators could
desire.  We made the mountainous, rocky, and somewhat barren, though
considerable island of Socotra, belonging to the Imaun of Muscat.  Soon
after this we sighted the mountain mass of Jebel Shamshan, or Cape Aden
as it is called, rising 1776 feet above the sea, with the town of Aden
built on the eastern base of it.

The capture of Aden, in 1839, was one of the first naval exploits which
took place during the reign of Queen Victoria and most gallantly was it
accomplished by an expedition sent from India, under the command of
Captain H.  Smith of the _Volage_.  As we approached the lofty headland
of Cape Aden it looked like an island.  Its position is very similar to
that of Gibraltar, as it is connected with the mainland by a piece of
low swampy ground.  I was struck by its grand picturesque appearance,
though it is barren and wild, and utterly destitute of vegetation.  We
ran in and anchored not far off the fortified island of Sirah, four or
five miles from the town.

Aden, when captured, consisted of little more than an assemblage of mud
huts with matting coverings, and contained scarcely six hundred
inhabitants.  It is now a flourishing place containing twenty-two
thousand inhabitants, and is surrounded by orchards and gardens.  This
change is owing to its occupation by British troops, and the constant
visits of steamers with numerous passengers to and from India.

I went on shore with Captain Armstrong to make more inquiries about
Alfred, or rather the vessel in which he sailed.  She was, I found,
called the _Dragon_.  The master, Captain Redman, was a very plausible
person, and my brother had undoubtedly thought him a very respectable
one; but things had come out after he had left Aden considerably to his
discredit, and I had reason to fear that he was utterly unprincipled and
reckless, and intimately connected with slavers--indeed, it was very
probable that he would without scruple have taken a cargo of slaves on
board if he had had the opportunity.  Should he have attempted to obtain
slaves on some parts of the coast, it was very likely that he would have
been cut off, as the natives in many places are strongly opposed to the
slave-trade, having discovered how greatly it is to their disadvantage.
For the sake of it wars are fostered, and a horrible system of
kidnapping is practised; while commerce, the cultivation of the land,
and the general resources of the country are neglected, the only people
who benefit being the chiefs and the foreigners who assist in carrying
away the unhappy slaves.  Every piece of information I gained raised my
hopes, although often it might have appeared to be of a very
discouraging nature.  I felt that it added another link to the chain by
which I hoped to find my way to where Alfred was concealed.

What may properly be called the British settlement of Aden is embraced
in a peninsula of about fifteen miles in circumference.  It is in
reality a huge crater joined to the mainland by a narrow neck of sand.
The town and cantonments are within the crater, and thus entirely
surrounded by hills, except on the east, where it has a gap opening on
East Bay.  The town is neat and well built, and the fortifications
entirely new.  It is very strong by nature, and as large sums and the
best engineering skill have been employed in re-fortifying it, it may
now be considered impregnable, and is deservedly looked on as the
Gibraltar of the Indian Ocean.  It used to be supplied with water from
tanks formed on the sides of the mountains, and these the governor has
much improved.  Wells also have been sunk, and the sea-water has been
distilled to supply that most necessary fluid.

Instead of at once going north, we stood up the Straits of
Bab-el-Mandeb, to the island of Perim, when we came to anchor in a
remarkably fine harbour, capable of accommodating a numerous fleet.  It
had lately been occupied by the British, who were then building a
lighthouse on it.  The only safe passage by it is that on the north, or
Arabian shore, barely half a mile in width.  That on the southern side,
between it and Africa--though eleven miles wide--is exceedingly
difficult, so that it might easily be rendered impassable.  Thus strong
fortifications on the north side might prevent any fleet from forcing
the passage of the Red Sea.  As about a quarter of the island consists
of a low plain of sand and coral, covered with salt-loving plants, and
the remainder is overspread with loose boulders and masses of black
lava, without a drop of fresh water, it cannot be considered a desirable
residence.  The garrison, however, is supplied by means of tanks
constructed to catch the rain, and the fort is also furnished with an
apparatus for distilling salt water.  The highest point is only about
245 feet above the sea.

My heart bounded with satisfaction when once more we made sail to the
southward.  We were at length, I felt, fairly on our voyage to discover
my brother.  Keeping an easterly course, we steered along the coast of
Berbera till we doubled Cape Guardafui.  We then once more stood to the
southward along the coast of Ajan.  We saw no towns or even villages,
though we constantly kept close in with the land.  This part of Africa
is inhabited by tribes of people called the Somauli, who are in general
Mohammedans.  Some live in towns, but they are mostly a pastoral people.
Those who live on this part of the coast occupy themselves almost
entirely as fishermen.  We landed at several places to communicate with
them, and got glimpses of fertile-looking valleys, and here and there of
fine open grassy plains.  We could hear of no vessel answering to the
description of the _Dragon_ having been seen off the coast; indeed, from
the business in which she was said to have been engaged, it was not
likely that she would have called off there.  We entered also the
harbour of Magadoxa, formed by a coral reef.  It is a curious place.
There are scarcely a hundred and fifty houses in the place--all of them
with thick walls, and built round court-yards, but one-half of the town
consists almost entirely of tombs.

We should not have been the wiser for our visit had we not fallen in
with the master of an Arab dhow, who had been some way to the southward
of the Portuguese settlements.  Captain Armstrong had on some occasion
rendered him some service, and when he saw the _Star_, he came on board
with some small presents to show his gratitude.  On being questioned, he
told us that some voyages before he had fallen in with a brig answering
exactly the description of the _Dragon_, and that he had heard that an
attempt had been made by her master and his crew to carry off some of
the negroes from a village on the coast against their will.  He had
succeeded in securing a few on board, but when returning on shore for a
further supply, the natives had set on him, and murdered him and most of
his people.  They had then gone on board, rescued their countrymen, and
carried off the survivors of the brig's crew as captives into the
interior.

Though I trembled while the account was being translated to me, yet on
considering over the subject, I felt sure that Alfred would not have
joined the party who had attempted to kidnap the natives, and I
therefore had great hopes that he was among those who had been made
prisoners, and that I should ultimately be able to discover the place of
his captivity.  The Arab did not know the exact position of the spot
where the occurrence had taken place, as it was some way further to the
south than he had gone.  Yet from the information he gave, Captain
Armstrong had little doubt about finding it.

Leaving Magadoxa, we continued our course to the southward.  A few days
after this we were standing on with a fair breeze and a light wind, when
the look-out from the masthead hailed the deck, to say that there was an
object on the port bow, but whether a rock, or a ship with her masts
gone or capsized, or a whale, he could not tell.  Several of the
officers went aloft with their glasses, as I also did, to try and
ascertain what it was which had hove in sight.  We looked and looked,
however, for some time, without being able to settle the point.  The
object was a long way off, and we drew only very slowly up to it.  As we
approached it seemed to grow larger and larger.  It was pretty clearly
not a ship's bottom, nor a whale, and finally it resolved itself into a
high rock surrounded by a coral reef--so we judged from the line of surf
which every now and then we saw rising up out of the blue sea.  It was a
very dangerous-looking place, on which, during the fierce gales of those
latitudes, in thick weather or on a dark night many a fine ship has
probably been cast away.

"There appears to me to be something moving on the rock," observed Mr
D'Arcy, the second lieutenant.  "Perhaps there are only birds there."

"No, sir; there is a man, and he is waving a shirt or a flag, or
something of that size," I exclaimed, after looking attentively for some
moments.

Having got as near as we could venture, we hove to, to leeward of the
rock, when a boat was lowered, of which Mr D'Arcy took command, and
very kindly allowed me to accompany him.  As we pulled up to the rock,
we found how much we had been deceived by the distance as to its size,
for instead of being anything like the size of a ship, the rock, or
rather the islet, proved to be nearly a mile in circumference, though
when first discovered only the conical rock in the centre had been seen,
the lower portion being very little above the level of the water.  As
soon as the man discovered us approaching, he ran down from his lofty
post towards us.  Why, I could not tell; I almost expected to see
Alfred.  We had to pull round some way before, guided by the signs he
made, we could find a passage through the reefs.  At length, however,
one was found, and dashing through it, we were soon close to the shore.
But even before we touched it, the man plunged into the water in his
eagerness to meet us.  I looked eagerly, but I soon saw that it was not
Alfred.  He was an oldish, roughish-looking man, and had all the
appearance of a seaman.

"Thank Heaven, friends, that have been sent to save me," he exclaimed,
as he was helped into the boat; "I don't think I could have held out
many days longer.  I have been living on dried whale's flesh and
shell-fish for I don't know how many months past, and I was beginning to
feel the scurvy breaking out in me; but all's right now; I've no fear."

Mr D'Arcy wished to have a look at the rock before leaving it, so he
and I, and one of the midshipmen, landed.  Our idea of its being the
extinct crater of a marine volcano was undoubtedly correct.  At the foot
of the cone was a pool, deep and clear, of pure fresh water, forced up
it must have been from beneath the ocean.  On one side of the islet were
the remains of a large sperm whale, the flesh of which had supplied the
poor man with food.  He had also constructed a hut very neatly out of
the bones, near the top of the crater.  Already young palm-trees and a
variety of vegetable productions were springing up round the base of the
cone, so that this spot in a few years hence may afford ample support to
any one cast away on it.  After a very cursory inspection of the place
we hurried back to the boat, and returned on board.

The rescued man expressed himself most grateful for the assistance
afforded him.  He did not, however, at first say much about himself,
merely observing that he had gone through a great number of adventures,
and had at last, after having been a prisoner among the blacks, and
effected his escape, been wrecked three months before on this rock, when
he was the only person whose life had been saved.

"And what is your name, my man?" asked Captain Armstrong.

"Bigg, sir--Thomas Bigg," answered the seaman.

"He seems to be an active, intelligent man.  As we are short of hands,
we may as well allow him to enter if he wishes it," observed the captain
to the first lieutenant.

The stranger was asked if he would enter, and expressed no objections to
do so, but said he would think about it.

When I heard the name of Thomas Bigg, I looked at the man very hard, to
see if I could discover any likeness between him and Tommy, for I could
not help thinking that he might possibly be Tommy's father, who was
supposed to have been lost at sea.  I waited till the seaman was sent
forward, and then I followed him.

"I say, my man, your name is not strange to me," said I.  "Will you tell
me, have you ever had a son called after yourself?"

"Why do you ask, sir?" said he, looking surprised, and yet very eager.

"Because I once had a shipmate of that name, a little fellow, who told
me that his father had been so long at sea without coming home, that he
was supposed to be lost," I replied.

"Did he remember me?  Did he talk about me, the poor dear little chap?"
inquired the seaman, eagerly.

"Indeed he did," I answered.  "He told me how fond you were of him.  He
was sure that you would have come back if you could; and he, I am sure,
loved you dearly, as a son should a kind father."

"Bless him! bless him!" exclaimed the seaman, brushing away a tear from
his eye.  "But where is he now?  Can you tell me nothing more about
him?"

Just then Tommy came on deck.  "What do you think of that little fellow
out there?"  I asked.

The seaman looked at him eagerly.  In another moment he had sprung from
one side of the ship to the other, and, to Tommy's great surprise, had
seized him in his arms, and gazing anxiously in his face, began to hug
him as if he was about to squeeze all the breath out of his body.  Tommy
looked up at length in return.

"Father!" he exclaimed, hesitatingly, drawing deeply his breath; "is it
you, is it you indeed?"

"Tommy, Tommy, it is," cried the seaman.  "I've found you, and you've
found me; and if they were to tell me that you were not my own boy, I
wouldn't believe them, that I wouldn't.  I know you as well as if I'd
never lost sight of you, that I do!"

I cannot describe how happy I felt at this meeting of the father and his
boy.  The tears came to my eyes as I watched them.  I soon, however,
went away and left them to themselves.  "I trust I may be as fortunate
in finding poor Alfred, after my long search for him, as Tommy has been
in finding his father without looking for him at all," was the tenor of
my silent prayer.



CHAPTER EIGHTEEN.

OLD BIGG'S NARRATIVE--MY PLAN TO RESCUE ALFRED--FALL IN WITH AN ARAB
DHOW IN A SINKING STATE--CATCH SIGHT OF THE PIRATE--SHE TRIES TO
ESCAPE--THE CHASE--SHE BLOWS UP--THE FATE OF SILLS.

There is an old saying, that "it's an ill wind that blows no one any
good."  I found it a very true saying, for I have scarcely ever known a
misfortune, or what might be called an ill-happening in the world
without, before long, having actually seen some good derived from it, by
which somebody or other has benefited.  I do not mean for one moment
that evil may be done that good may come of it.  Very, very far from
that.  There is no more hateful morality in the sight of God.  But what
I mean is, that God often causes events to happen, which we in our
blindness may think ills or misfortunes, but which, in reality, tend to
our ultimate happiness.  If we could only bring ourselves firmly to
believe this, it would enable us to bear with far greater patience than
we do the sickness and losses, the sufferings and annoyances which meet
us constantly in our course through life.

The day after we had rescued Tommy Bigg's father from the rock, as I was
walking the deck, he came up to me.

"Sir," said he, touching his hat, "my boy tells me that you have been
his best friend from the time you first set eyes on him, and I am
grateful, sir, indeed I am.  I'd do anything to serve you, and from what
Tommy tells me I think I might serve you.  I hear from him that you came
away from home to look for a brother, and that you believe he was aboard
the _Dragon_, Now, sir, I belonged to that unfortunate craft, and it was
a bad day for me that I ever set foot on her deck, so I have had reason
to think.  I didn't know what her calling was, or I would never have
stepped up her side, that I know.

"Well, sir, when we last sailed from Aden, a young gentleman came on
board for a passage down to Natal.  I soon found out that he was a
seaman, though he took no part in the navigation of the brig, but when
he discovered, as I had done, her character, kept himself aloof from the
captain and officers, and, indeed, everybody on board.  He did well;
for, to my mind, it would be hard to find a greater villain in existence
than Captain Redman.  I would have liked to have spoken to him, to tell
him that he might trust me if the worst came to the worst and he
required my services; but it wouldn't have done for me to have been seen
addressing him.

"We called in at Mozambique, and then some of the government officers,
and merchants, and great people of the place, came on board, and were
hand and glove with Captain Redman.  Thinks I to myself, I wonder now if
you knew what sort of a rogue he is whether you would be so friendly?
But I soon found out that it would have made no difference with them,
for they were one and all interested in the slave trade, and were
friendly with him because he paid them hard cash for the slaves they got
for him.  I believe that they had arranged for a cargo for him, when a
new governor of the place came unexpectedly out from home, and gave
notice that he would not allow anything of the sort.  Whether he was in
earnest about preventing the traffic, or whether he only wished to show
that a new broom sweeps clean, I don't know.  Certain it was that we had
to get out of the place as fast as we could, and made sail to the
southward.

"I ought to have told you, sir, that I didn't know the name of the young
gentleman who was aboard us, but from what Tommy tells me I have little
doubt that he was your brother.  I believe that he would have left the
brig at Mozambique, but Captain Redman persuaded him that he was going
on direct to Natal, so he remained on board.

"Now the captain had, I found, engaged to supply a cargo of slaves, and
he was determined to get them by fair means or foul.  Before many days
had passed, I found that the vessel was headed in towards the coast.  In
a short time we dropped anchor in a snug harbour with a narrow entrance,
where we lay completely concealed from any vessel in the offing.  In a
short time a chief came off in a canoe, and the captain had some palaver
with him, and he returned on shore.  The captain then said that a number
of blacks had agreed to come on board to take their passage to some
place or other, to work as labourers, but that after having signed their
papers they had refused to come, `so you see, my young men, we shall
have to use force to make them do their duty,' he observed.

"We had a strong crew for the size of the brig--some thirty hands or
more--and twenty or more, without a word, agreed to the captain's
proposal.  All the boats were lowered, and away they went, as soon as it
was dark, to the shore.  I did not know at the time why they took so
much precaution, but I afterwards learned that there were two parties in
the place--one headed by the chief who had come aboard, and who lived on
the coast, in favour of the slave-trade; the other, who owned the
country further inland, who had determined to put a stop to it, from
having discovered that it was doing them every possible harm.  They had
also won over a good many of the coast natives to see things in the
light they did.

"I and about eight other men remained on board, so did our young
gentleman passenger.  We waited for some two hours or more, wondering
why the captain and the rest were so long in returning, when at last the
boats appeared loaded to the gunnel with thirty blacks or more in them.
The poor wretches were chained two and two.  They were quickly passed
below, and secured between decks, which had been fitted up for them.
Everything was done in a great hurry.  I guessed that something was
wrong.  `Now, my lads, we must be off again; no time to be lost,' sang
out the captain.

"Away they went, and three more of our people, so that there were still
fewer left on board.  We waited and waited for their return, but still
they did not come.  At last we heard some shots fired on shore, and we
began to think that something had happened.  Still longer we waited, and
we grew very anxious, and one proposed one thing and one another.  There
was only the second mate left on board of all the officers, and he did
not know what to do.  We had given up all hopes of seeing them when the
splash of oars was heard, and we saw, as we thought, three or four boats
approaching.  It was just before break of day, and it was very dark.  It
was all right, we thought, and we were expecting to see our shipmates
come up the side, when, all of a sudden, I don't know how it was, there
were some fifty black fellows screeching and howling away on the deck.
Some of them attacked us; and while we were struggling with them, others
rushed below and liberated the slaves, and in less than a minute up they
all came pouring on deck, shouting and shrieking, and threatening
vengeance on us.  Two or three of our fellows were killed.  Still we
fought on, for we knew that we had no mercy to expect from them.

"When daylight broke, the young passenger and I, and two others, were
the only ones on their legs, and the two last were wounded and bleeding.
Seeing this, the blacks made a rush at us, I thought all was over, and
expected to be knocked on the head and thrown overboard.  I fought as
long as I could, but my foot slipped, and some of the blacks throwing
themselves on me, I lost my senses, and when I recovered I found myself
bound hand and foot.  The young passenger was in the same condition; so
was another man.  The rest, I feared, had lost their lives.  The blacks
now swarmed round the brig in their canoes and rafts, and commenced
taking everything out of her, and stripping her of her rigging and
sails.  They were all as busy as ants, and this, I believe, prevented
them from paying much attention to us.  Perhaps our lives might
otherwise have been sacrificed, but the occupation gave time for their
anger to cool, and the wealth of various sorts they found on board put
them in the highest good humour.

"In the course of the day we three prisoners were carried on shore.  We
could hear nothing of our shipmates, and had too much reason to fear
that they all had been murdered.  I do not mean to say that they did not
deserve their fate.  They were concerned in a plot to reduce those very
people who had killed them to a condition, in many instances, worse than
death, and thus they brought their fate upon themselves.  When we were
landed a little farinha was given us, and we were ordered to march
forward, followed by a dozen guards or more.  We travelled on all day,
and at night slept in a native hut, with three or four negroes guarding
us.

"The country was generally very fine, with grassy plains, and forests,
and hills, and valleys, and numerous streams.  We had only a little more
farinha given us, and dirty water; indeed, it was very evident that the
blacks were treating us as we should have treated them if they had been
made slaves of.

"I will not further describe our journey except to say that it was most
miserable.  If we did not go fast enough the blacks pricked us on with
their spears or beat us with sticks, and all the time gave us only just
enough food to support life.  At last we arrived at a village where we
were handed over to three of the principal people of the place; and
signs were made to us that we were now slaves, and must work to support
ourselves, as well as to obey our masters.  I set to work to learn the
language of the people, and soon was able to talk to them.  I resolved
to make myself as happy as I could, and never grumbled or looked angry.
My master, however, was a great tyrant, and used often to beat me and to
threaten my life, so I resolved to try and run away.

"I have not told you more about the young gentleman, our passenger.  I
have no doubt he was your brother, and I will call him so.  He seemed
pretty content with his lot, for though he had to work hard his master
was pretty kind.  I told him what I thought of doing; and he agreed to
accompany me if he could, but advised me to run away without him if I
had the chance, and that he would try and follow by himself.  The other
poor fellow about this time caught the fever and died.  The blacks were
not a bad or a cruel set of people after all; and when they saw that we
appeared contented and happy, they were much kinder to us.  We learned
their language and all their ways; and then we showed them how to do all
sorts of things which they did not know anything about.  When my clothes
were worn out I took to dressing like the blacks.  There wasn't much
difficulty in doing that.  Then I began to hunt about to try and see if
I couldn't make my skin like theirs.  At last I found some berries which
I thought would do it.  After trying a number of things, to my great
pleasure I found that I could make my skin as black as that of any of
the negroes in the country.  To make a long story short, I collected
plenty of the dye, and one evening I covered myself all over with it.
When it was done I crept out of the hut where I lived to try and see
your brother, to get him to run off with me, intending to colour his
skin as I had done mine.  I found, however, that he had been sent off up
the country by his master.  If I waited I might be discovered; so, doing
up my old seaman's clothes in a bundle, with as much food as I could
scrape together, I set off towards the coast.  I knew that I must meet
with unnumbered difficulties.  I travelled by night chiefly, when the
natives were not likely to be about; and as I had to go round about to
avoid villages and huts, it took me a week to reach the coast.  When I
got there, however, I was no longer afraid of showing myself.  I felt
pretty sure that I should be taken for a native of the interior.  I
therefore walked into the first hut I came to on the shore, belonging to
a fisherman, and told him that I had been sent by one of the chiefs to
learn what was going forward along the coast, and what the slave-dealers
were about.  I did not let him know whether I was for or against them.

"He, I found, was in favour of slave-dealing; and from him I learned
that a few miles to the north there was an Arab dhow taking in a cargo,
supplied by one of the Portuguese dealers.  Off I set as fast as my legs
could carry me.  I had a little oil in a calabash, with which I knew I
could soon make myself white, so I had no fear of being shipped on board
as a slave.  It was the evening before I came in sight of the dhow.  She
lay in a little bay about a quarter of a mile from the shore.  There
were no boats to be seen, and no means of communicating with her.  I
judged that she had got her cargo on board, and was about to sail; but
it was perfectly calm, and she was waiting for a wind to get under way.
I was eager to be on board her: I wanted, at all events, to be away from
the blacks.  I sat down and rubbed my skin over with the oil till I was
almost white.  I did not think of sharks, or of the distance I had to
swim; but, hunting about, I found some pieces of light wood.  These I
fastened on each side of me, and secured another piece under my breast;
and then in I plunged and struck out for the dhow.  It was a long way to
swim, and I couldn't help fearing that before I reached her a breeze
would spring up.  Now and then I saw the water ripple before me, and my
courage almost failed me.  I can but die once, I thought to myself; but
still it seemed very hard to have to die just then.

"I had got almost up to the vessel when I saw another thing which might
well have made my heart sink: it was the black three-cornered fin of a
shark appearing just above the surface.  I knew that it was now high
time to kick about, and sing out, and call to the people on board the
dhow to help me.  They came, on hearing my cries, to the side of the
vessel, and they saw me and also my most unwelcome companion.  They at
once did what was best: while some shouted and got sweeps out to stir up
the water, others lowered a boat.  Anxiously I watched their
proceedings, kicking about, and shouting as loud as I could, while I
swam on as before.  Still, there was the shark's fin not five fathoms
from me.  I dreaded every instant to see it approach nearer.  The Arab
boat got close up to me, the men seized me by the arms, and at the very
instant that the shark, thinking that he was about to lose his prey,
made a grab at my legs, I drew them up, and, as it was, I felt his mouth
touch my foot.

"The Arabs were very kind to me when I had put on my clothes, and told
them that I was an Englishman.  At first they thought that I was a black
man, for I had forgotten to rub the black off my face, and afterwards
had more difficulty in getting that white than any other part of me.  I
could very easily talk with them, as I had learned to speak the lingo in
very common use along the coast in those parts.

"The dhow was, as I expected, a slaver.  She had seventy or eighty poor
wretches stowed closely together in her hold, and was going to take them
to an island in the north of Madagascar, where they were to be shipped
on board a French vessel bound for some French island or other.  Soon
after I got on board a breeze sprang up, and the dhow made sail.  We had
been at sea four or five days when a large schooner hove in sight.  The
Arabs took her for an English man-of-war, and made all sail to escape.
As I looked at her, however, I felt pretty sure that she was no other
than a villainous piratical craft which had been cruising about in these
waters for some time--shipping a cargo of slaves when she could do so
easily, robbing other vessels of them when they came in her way, and
committing acts of piracy on every opportunity.  In either case the
Arabs had every prospect of losing their cargo.  If she should prove to
be a man-of-war our lives would be safe; but if the pirate, as I
suspected, her crew would very likely murder us all, and sink the dhow,
on the principle that dead men tell no tales.

"As soon as I hinted my suspicions to the Arabs they made all sail, and
stood to the northward in the hopes of escaping.  The weather had before
been threatening.  A heavy gale sprung up, which increased every moment
in fury.  Still the Arabs held on.  The schooner came after us at a
great rate.  Night was coming on: we hoped to escape in the darkness.
On we drove.  Where we were going no one seemed to know.  The little
vessel plunged and tore through the fast rising seas, every timber in
her creaking and groaning.  The wind howled, the waters roared, and the
poor wretches below cried out and shrieked in concert.

"After some hours of this terrible work I felt a tremendous shock: I was
thrown down flat on my face.  Another sea came up and washed every soul
off the deck.  The dhow was on the rocks.  Scarcely a minute had passed
before she began to break up under my feet, I cannot describe the
terrible cries of the poor slaves as the sea rushed down upon them.  I
had seized a spar, and a sea rolling on lifted me up and carried me
forward.  I knew no more till I found myself clinging to a rock.  I
climbed on till I discovered that I was safe on shore.  When daylight
broke not a human being could I see--not a vestige of the wreck
remained.  There I remained for a long time--till you came and took me
off."

Thus ended old Tom Bigg's yarn.  It was much longer, and not perhaps in
the same language exactly in which I have given it.  When Captain
Armstrong heard the particulars he promised to go to the spot described
by the seaman, and to form some plan by which Alfred might be rescued
from slavery.  Tom was called in to consult.

"I have been thinking about it, gentlemen, ever since I came on board,"
he answered.  "Now, Mr Marsden has been very kind to my little boy, and
I want to show him that I am grateful.  The only way I can think of to
get your brother, sir, is for me to go back for him.  I can easily turn
myself into a black man, and it will be very hard if I can't find an
opportunity of letting him know that he has friends at hand.  If the
_Star_ can remain off the coast so as to take us on board, I have no
doubt I shall be able to bring him away."

I thanked Bigg very much for his offer, and said that I would accept it
on condition that I could go with him.  I could not allow another person
to run the risk of losing his life for my sake without sharing the
dangers.  I proposed that I should stain my body and dress as a black;
and by pretending to be dumb should I fall in with any natives, I
thought that I might possibly pass muster as a real negro.  There was no
great novelty in the design; but the natives were not likely to have had
the trick played on them before, and would therefore not be suspicious,
while, from the way in which Bigg imitated the negroes, I had great
confidence in his being able to deceive them if necessary.  Of course,
it would be more hazardous going back to the very place from which he
had made his escape; but as he had told me that none of the natives knew
that he had assumed the appearance of a black, they very probably might
not recognise him.  Although Captain Armstrong did not altogether
approve of our plan, he could not suggest any other: and he therefore
promised to assist me in carrying it out, with any improvements which
might be suggested.

I have not attempted to describe the gales and calms, and many of the
various incidents we encountered on our voyage.  We had had one of those
tremendous gales to which the Mozambique Channel is peculiarly liable,
when at early dawn a vessel was made out right ahead, with her masts
gone, and her bulwarks rising but a little way above the water.  Had it
been dark we should have run directly over her.  We soon caught her up,
and found her to be an Arab dhow, just like the one Bigg had described,
and full of slaves.  Poor wretches!--those who had still strength to
make a noise were howling fearfully, expecting every instant to go to
the bottom.  Never shall I forget the horrible scene she presented.
More than half the blacks had died from fright, or starvation and fever,
or had been drowned; but the Arab crew had been so occupied in pumping,
and in trying in other ways to keep their vessel afloat, that they had
been unable to spare time even to throw the dead overboard, and there
lay their festering remains--decomposition having already commenced--
still chained to the living.  The _Star_ was hove to; and Mr Henley,
who could speak a little Arabic, went in the boats to assist in rescuing
the crew and their wretched cargo.  He had to tell the Arabs that we
would not receive one of them on board if they did not work away to the
last to keep the dhow afloat, or they would have deserted their posts,
and allowed the poor blacks to sink.  We meantime set to work with
hammers and chisels, and liberated the negroes as rapidly as we could;
but it was with the greatest difficulty that any one of us could stay
below, so terrible was the odour from the dead bodies.  To such a state
had they been reduced that many died while we were attempting to
liberate them, and others as they were being carried on board the
_Star_, while several breathed their last as food was being put into
their mouths.  Scarcely had we got the slaves out of the vessel than
down she went, carrying most of the Arab crew with her, and several were
drowned before we could rescue them.  The reis or Arab captain of the
dhow told Mr Henley that he had engaged to land the negroes on a small
island to the north of Madagascar, whence they would be taken off by a
French vessel, and carried to the French island of Reunion.  The plan of
proceeding was this:--On board the French vessel was a government agent,
and also an interpreter who could speak to the blacks.  These wretches
went on shore with a strong guard.  Then the poor blacks were collected
without a particle of food or shelter, and with every prospect of dying
of starvation.  They were asked if they would like to go off to an
island where they would have plenty of food and be well treated, if they
would engage to serve a master for a certain number of years.  Of
course, very few refused these terms, and they were carried off as free
labourers to Reunion or to other places.  Those who refused were allowed
to perish, as a warning to the rest.  The Arab master declared that all
the blacks we found on board had come voluntarily; and though they
themselves told a different tale, Captain Armstrong had no means of
punishing him or his people.  They were, therefore, to be landed at
Mozambique; while Captain Armstrong resolved to carry the poor blacks,
if they wished it, back to the part of the coast from whence they had
been taken.

Scarcely had we stowed our unexpected passengers away, and very much
crowded up we were with them, than a sail was reported to the southward.
We stood towards her.  For some time she did not alter her course.
Probably we were not perceived.  We made her out to be a large topsail
schooner.  Suddenly she kept away, and went off before the wind under
all the canvas she could carry.  This at once made her character
suspected, and we accordingly made sail after her.  The _Star_ sailed
remarkably well.  The midshipmen always declared that she ought to have
been called the _Shooting Star_.  The schooner evidently also had a fast
pair of heels, but we came up with her.  I saw Johnny Spratt looking at
her very attentively, when after three or four hours' chase we had got
near enough to see her hold from the deck.

"Well, Spratt, what do you think of her?"  I asked.

"Why, sir, I may be wrong or I may be right, but to my mind that
schooner out there is no other than the craft which that Captain
Hansleig, who was aboard us in the _Orion_, is said to command.  I have
fallen in with her two or three times since I have been out in these
seas.  He has been bold enough when he has no slaves on board, because
he thinks that then no one can touch him; and so I have no doubt he has
got home now, or he wouldn't be in such a hurry to run away."

On hearing Spratt's remark, I looked at the schooner more attentively
than before through my glass, and had little doubt that she was the very
vessel which had carried off Sills and the seaman Brown from the island.
When Biggs saw her he pronounced her at once to be the piratical craft
from which he had urged the Arabs to try and escape when he was wrecked,
and declared that from his certain knowledge her captain was a most
atrocious villain, and that as the schooner was well armed, and he had a
very strong crew, he was not likely to give in without fighting hard to
get away.

The drum now beat to quarters--the guns were cast loose; shot and powder
were handed up; the men buckled on their cutlasses, and stuck their
pistols in their belts.  It was an interesting sight to observe the
ship's company as they stood grouped round their guns, ready to commence
the battle at a signal from their commander.  At length we got the
schooner within range of our guns.  We fired a shot past her, but she
showed no colours, nor did she heave to.  We therefore fired two more at
her; one of the shots glanced against her side, and one of the
midshipmen declared that he could see the white splinters flying off it.
We waited a few minutes that we might get still nearer, so that our
shot might tell with more effect.  The schooner did not fire in return.

"Now," cried Captain Armstrong, who was fully convinced of the character
of the stranger, "give it them, but aim high at the _rigging_.  Fire!"

We yawed, so that our guns could be brought to bear on the stranger.
Every shot seemed to tell, and several of her spars were seen to come
tumbling down on deck.  Then once more we were after her, and again,
when a little nearer, another broadside was fired.  This produced almost
as great an effect as the former one, but I suspect that some of the
guns were trained low, for I saw distinctly masses of white splinters
flying off from her quarters.  Notwithstanding this, she would not give
in.  Perhaps those on board her dared not.  They fought with halters
round their necks.  Captain Armstrong seemed to hesitate about
continuing to fire on a vessel which did not return it.  He was a humane
man, and he probably felt that he might be destroying unnecessarily the
lives of the unfortunate beings on board.  Still he could not tell what
trick they might be intending.  The guns were again loaded and run out.
We had now got within musket range.  We could, however, only see a
couple of men at the helm, and another walking the deck, yet there was
no sign that the pirate ever thought of giving in.

"Shall we give him another broadside, sir?  Nothing else will make him
heave to," said the first lieutenant.

"No, do; stay.  He will probably lower his sails when we range up
alongside, and ask why we fired at a quiet, harmless trader like him?"
answered the captain.

The words were scarcely out of his mouth, as the _Star_ got almost
abreast of the schooner, when up on her deck rushed a crowd of men with
muskets and pistols, and began peppering away at us, while her ports at
the same time were hauled up, and her guns opened a hot fire on us.  She
at the same time put up her helm, and attempted to run us aboard.

"Now, fire away, my lads.  Boarders, prepare to repel boarders!" shouted
Captain Armstrong.

Those of the crew not required to work the guns, drawing their
cutlasses, divided into two parties.  Some came aft to range themselves
under the captain, while others, led by the second lieutenant, sprang on
to the topgallant forecastle.  The schooner was within a dozen fathoms
of us.  Her crew seemed considerably to outnumber ours; and I certainly
never saw a more desperate set of villains crowded together.  I had no
fear, however, that our honest British crew, though somewhat diminished
in numbers by sickness, would be an ample match for them.  Our men
worked away at their guns in silence.  The pirates shouted and shrieked,
and kept up a terrific fire at us.  Several of our men were hit, and one
poor fellow standing near me fell suddenly on the deck.  I tried to lift
him up, but not a groan did he utter.  There was a round mark on his
forehead.  He had been shot through the brain.  In another moment I
thought the pirates would be aboard us.  I heard a terrific explosion, a
hundred times louder than the loudest thunder, I thought, and looking up
I saw to my horror the masts, and spars, and sails of the schooner
rising in the air, the hull seemed to rock to and fro, and directly
afterwards down there came on our heads fragments of spars, and burning
sails, and blocks, and planks, and ropes, and the mangled bodies of men,
all mingled together in horrible confusion, while the sea around us was
a mass of wreck.  Many of our crew were hit by the spars and blocks, and
several were struck down and killed.  Every one, however, who was
uninjured began instantly to heave overboard the burning fragments, but
it was not without difficulty that the brig was saved from catching
fire.  The instant her safety was secured, the captain ordered the boats
to be lowered to try and save some of the unfortunate wretches who might
have escaped destruction by the explosion.  I jumped into one of them,
followed by Solon, and off we shoved.  Before, however, we could reach
the hull of the blazing schooner, she gave one roll, and down she went
stern first, dragging with her into the vortex she made the few
struggling people clinging to the spars or bits of wreck near her.
Still, at a short distance off, I observed a man holding on to a spar.
We pulled towards him.  As we approached he lifted up his head and
looked at us.  His countenance bore an expression of rage and hatred.
It was that, I felt sure, of Captain Hansleig.  Before, however, we
could reach him, shaking his fist at us, and uttering a fearful
imprecation, he let go of the spar, and throwing himself back, sank
beneath the waves.  Horrified as I was, there was no time to lose in
thinking of the circumstance, as I had to look round to see if there was
anybody else to whom we could render assistance.  I caught sight of
another person struggling in the water.  He was trying to get hold of a
plank, but was evidently no swimmer, and I thought he would sink before
we could get up to him.  I urged the boat's crew to pull as fast as they
could, as did the officer in command.  Just before we got up to the
struggling man he sank, but I thought I saw his head far down below the
surface.  So did Solon, who was watching the direction of my eyes, and
leaping in, he dived down, and in an instant brought up to the surface
the person, of whom he had a gripe by the collar of his jacket.  When
Solon saw that the seamen had got hold of the person, he scrambled on
board again by the help of the oars.

"Poor fellow! he seems a mere lad," observed the officer in command of
the boat.

The man did not breathe, but he had been so short a time under the
surface that we had hoped he might be recovered.  We saw, however, that
his side was injured, apparently by the explosion.  Finding that there
was no one else to assist, we pulled back to the ship.  For the first
time, as I was helping to haul the rescued man up the side, I looked at
his countenance, and changed as it was, I felt sure that it was that of
Sills.  He was at once put under the surgeon's care.  He was stripped,
dried, put between warm blankets, and gently rubbed, and in a short time
animation returned; but he was suffering very much from the injury he
had received.  I told the surgeon who he was, and asked him if he
thought he would recover.  He replied that he had not the slightest
chance of doing so, and that if I wished it, I had better see him
without delay.  I went accordingly to his cot in the sick-bay, and told
him who I was.  He was very much surprised to see me, and thankful that
I came to speak to him.

"I have had a dreadful life of it since I parted from you, Marsden," he
observed.  "I was not allowed to act even as an officer, but was made to
serve before the mast, and was kicked and knocked about by all the men
who chose to vent their spleen on me.  I had no idea that the vessel was
what she was, a slaver and a pirate, and every man on board would have
been hung if they could have been proved guilty of the things I often
saw done by them, without sorrow or compunction.  I have never known a
moment's happiness since I left the island, and I wish that I had
followed your advice, that I do."

I spoke of the thief on the cross, and tried to point out where true
happiness can alone be found.  While he was speaking to me his voice
grew weaker and weaker, and now a rapid change came over him.  I sent
for the surgeon, but before he could arrive the poor misguided fellow
was dead.



CHAPTER NINETEEN.

MOZAMBIQUE--DESCRIPTION OF THE NEIGHBOURING COUNTRY--SLAVE-TRADE--HOW
CARRIED ON--PREPARE FOR MY EXPEDITION INTO THE INTERIOR OF AFRICA--BIGG
AND I LAND--TRANSFORMED INTO BLACKAMORES--FORTUNATE SHOT AT AN
ELEPHANT--MEET NATIVES--FEAST OFF THE ELEPHANT--SEARCH FOR WATER--AN
UNWELCOME VISITOR--A NIGHT IN AN AFRICAN DESERT.

I was glad to get away from the spot where the catastrophe I have
described occurred, but it was very, very long before I could get the
scenes I had witnessed out of my head.  How different would have been
the fate of Sills had he been guided wisely, instead of foolishly, and
endeavoured by every means in his power to perform his duty.  We first
made sail for Mozambique, where Captain Armstrong had to communicate
with the governor to arrange a plan for the suppression of the
slave-trade.  Mozambique belongs to the Portuguese.  It is the chief of
their settlements on the east coast of Africa.  They claim the whole
coast from Cape Delgado in the north, situated in about eleven degrees
south latitude, to Delagoa Bay, which will be found at about the
twenty-sixth degree south latitude; an extent of nine hundred miles in
length, but reaching, I fancy, a very little way inland.  Their
authority does not in reality exist except at their fortified ports and
towns.  We brought up in an extensive harbour before the city of
Mozambique, which stands on an island of the same name.  This island
with two others, Saint Jago and Saint George, and the mainland, form the
confines of the harbour, and shelter the vessels riding between them
from every wind.

I and several of the officers landed with Captain Armstrong, who wished
to communicate with the governor-general.  It was said that he was very
anxious to suppress the slave-trade, but that he was actually
intimidated by the slave-dealing community.

The island is defended by two forts, and we heard that the guns had been
dismounted and sent to Portugal, in order that should the place be
captured by the natives, it might be the more easily retaken by the
slave-dealers.  We were not prepared to find so handsome a city as
Mozambique is in many respects.  We landed at a fine wharf built of the
most massive masonry.  The palace of the governor-general is a handsome
building, erected round a court-yard, with lofty rooms and floors of
timber.  The roof is flat, and covered entirely with lead.  The floors
of most of the other houses are of chunam, or lime.  All the houses are
very substantially built, for the sake of coolness; and many of them
look as if at one time they may have been comfortable abodes when the
slave-trade flourished, and they were inhabited by the principal
slave-dealers in the place.  The town is irregularly built; the streets
are narrow; there are two large churches and several chapels, and two or
three squares, with fair-sized houses round them.  As we were passing
through the principal one, we observed a pillar of wood fixed in a mass
of masonry.  We inquired its object, and were told that it is used for
securing the negroes when they are ordered to be publicly whipped.  I
have little more to say about the city of Mozambique, except to remark
that it is difficult to conceive how civilised beings can allow the
place they live in to be kept in so very dirty a condition.  The truth
is, that the blighting influence of slave-dealing affects every one,
from the highest to the lowest Portuguese; and their whole thoughts are
taken up in the consideration of how they can in the greatest degree
benefit directly or remotely by it.  While the Portuguese government
persists in sending out ruined men to govern the country, or under-paid
officers, they cannot wash away the stigma which now rests on them of
wishing to support the slave-trade in spite of treaties, and their
promises to put a stop to it.  There are about two hundred white
soldiers in the place, all of them convicts, and some doubly convicted
of the worst of crimes.  There are certain government officials and some
foreign merchants, Germans, banyan traders, Arabs, and others; and all
the rest of the inhabitants are negroes and slaves, or, as the
Portuguese call them, Gentiles.  Altogether there was nothing attractive
in the place, and we were very glad that we had not to remain there.

As we stood down the coast we touched at another Portuguese settlement,
that of Inhambane.  The town, though it has been established nearly
three hundred years, is a miserable place.  It consists of about a
hundred and fifty ill-built houses, thatched chiefly with the broad
leaves of the cocoanut tree, posted generally along the margin of the
harbour, but some of them can be seen peeping out here and there between
the mangrove bushes or cocoa-nut trees along the beach.  There is a
fort, the garrison of which consists of some sixty convicts, sent from
Goa to Mozambique, and then, after further misbehaving themselves, sent
on to this place, so their character may well be supposed.  There is a
church, but it is in a very ruinous condition.  Altogether the place is
a very miserable one, and is evidently withering under the blighting
curse of the slave-trade.  The huts of the natives are built in a square
form, instead of round, like those to be seen further south.  We heard
that the natural productions of the country in the interior are very
abundant.  Among them are indigo, coffee, cotton, trees producing
India-rubber, bananas, plantains, oranges, lemons; the natives collect
gold and ivory; amber and turtle are found on the shore, while all sorts
of fish and the sperm whale exist off the coast.  But the slave-trade,
by encouraging international wars, effectually prevents the development
of all these numerous resources, and will prevent them as long as it is
allowed to exist.

We were now approaching the spot whence Bigg told me that he had made
his escape.  My heart beat more anxiously than ever as I thought of the
possibility of soon rescuing poor Alfred.  I thought of all he had
suffered, of his long banishment from civilised society, and of the
hopeless condition to which he must have been reduced when deserted by
his companion in slavery.  I, of course, could think of nothing else,
and my only satisfaction was in being employed in making preparations
for our expedition on shore.  Johnny Spratt was very anxious to
accompany us, and so was little Tommy Bigg.

"He might be of use dressed up as a little nigger," I heard his father
remark.  "But I don't know; the risk may be very great, and though I
wouldn't grudge it for the sake of serving young Mr Marsden, I think we
may do very well without him."

On hearing this I begged that Tommy might on no account accompany us,
but I determined to take Solon.  We weighed the advantages against the
disadvantages in so doing.  He might certainly make the natives suppose
that we were not negroes by his foreign appearance, he being so unlike
any dogs they have; but then, it might appear probable that he might
have been obtained from some slaver or vessel wrecked on the coast.  He
might possibly also remember Alfred, or Alfred might see that he was an
English dog, and call him and talk to him.  To have a further chance of
communicating with Alfred, I wrote a note telling him that I was looking
for him, that the _Star_ was off the coast ready to receive him on
board, and urging him to endeavour to make his escape without delay.  I
wrote also to the same effect on an immense number of bits of paper,
which I proposed to fasten to all the trinkets, and knives, and
handkerchiefs, and other articles which the natives value, which I could
obtain on board, in the hopes that one of them might fall into Alfred's
hands, and that he might thus know that efforts were making for his
liberation.

The appearance of the coast as we stood along it was not attractive.
Beyond a white sandy beach, which looked glittering and scorching hot in
the sun, the ground rose slightly, fringed on the upper ridge by low,
stunted trees bending towards the south-west, exhibiting proofs of the
force of the hurricanes, which blow down the Mozambique Channel from the
north-east.  Talking of the hurricanes which prevail hereabouts, I ought
to have mentioned that it was during one of them in this channel that
the poet Falconer, whose deeply interesting poem of "The Shipwreck" had
been a great favourite with Alfred and me, lost his life.  The ship in
which he sailed as purser foundered, and he, and I believe everybody on
board, perished.  No work, either in prose or poetry, so admirably, so
graphically, and so truly describes a shipwreck as does his.  It is
curious that after its publication he should have lost his life amid the
scene which he has so perfectly described.  In the same way no writer
has more vividly painted the horrors of a fire at sea than Mr Eliot
Warburton, in the last work he wrote, just before embarking for the West
Indies.  But a few days afterwards he perished by the burning of the
steamer on board which he sailed.

We were looking out anxiously for the bay, which Bigg believed he could
recognise again.  Mr Henley knew the coast generally, but he had been
unable, from Bigg's description, to fix on the exact spot.  We looked
into two or three places which somewhat answered the description, but
had to stand out again.  At last we ran into a little bay, which Bigg
said he was positive was the one in which the Arab dhow lay when he got
on board her.  Accordingly we stood in and brought up.  No people could
have been kinder to me than Captain Armstrong and all his officers were
while I was preparing for my expedition.

"I might employ force, and endeavour to compel the natives to give up
your brother, but they might declare that they knew nothing about him,
and of course, with my whole ship's company, I could effect but little
against the hosts they could bring against us," he remarked, as he was
speaking on the subject.  "Your pacific plan is far more likely to
succeed.  At the same time, should you find yourself discovered and
placed in difficulties, you may threaten the natives with all the
vengeance which the _Star_ and her ship's company can inflict on them."

The boat was lowered to carry old Tom Bigg and me to the shore.  I was
fully aware of all the risk I was running, and though I was full of
hope, I could not help feeling sad as I wished Mr Henley and all my
kind friends on board goodbye.  Our various articles were done compactly
up in cases, that we might carry them on our backs.  I had my trusty
rifle, which I covered up carefully, so that what it was might not be
seen.  My ammunition belt I fastened round my waist, under my shirt, and
in it I stuck a brace of small pistols, lent me by one of the officers.
Bigg was armed with pistols and a stout stick.  I had on a flannel
waistcoat, and drawers tucked lightly up, and a loose shirt over all.
The ship's barber had tightly curled my hair, and Bigg said he knew
exactly where to find the berries with which he proposed dyeing our
skins.  I had been going about without shoes or socks since I resolved
on the expedition, that I might harden my feet; indeed, since I had come
to sea I had very frequently gone without them; at the same time I
expected to suffer more inconvenience at having to travel through the
bush with bare feet than from any other cause.  Still, of course, I
should at once have been discovered had I worn shoes, or even sandals.
All the officers wished me success as I stepped into the boat, and
seemed to take a great interest in my proceedings.  We looked anxiously
out to discover if we were watched as we pulled towards the shore, but
we saw no natives, and we had great hopes that we had not been observed.

Old Bigg took an affectionate farewell of Tommy as he sprang out of the
boat, and Mr Henley, who had accompanied us, cordially grasped my hand
as I stood up to leap on shore.

"May Heaven guide and prosper you.  This is an enterprise for the
success of which I can heartily pray, and I never wish a friend of mine
to undertake any for which heartfelt prayers cannot be offered up."

I thanked him heartily, and sprang on the beach, followed by Solon.

"Come along, Mr Marsden, the sooner we can get out of sight the
better," exclaimed Bigg, as he led the way towards a thick wood which
appeared a quarter of a mile or so in front of us.

The boat pulled back to the ship, while we ran as hard as we could
towards the wood.  It was at all events satisfactory to find that there
could not be many natives in that neighbourhood.  In less than five
minutes we were safe inside the wood, and Bigg lost no time in hunting
about to find the berries with which he proposed to dye our skins.  He
soon discovered them, as also the leaves of some other plants, which
assisted to heighten the colour.  We had the means of lighting a fire,
and a pot for cooking our food.  A stream was near at hand, and in a
short time we had a strong ink-like decoction formed, which, when I
applied it to my hand, very quickly gave it a fine glossy black hue.  I
could not help hesitating for a moment, when I saw the effect produced,
about covering my whole skin with it, lest I should never get white
again.

"Never fear, sir, a little oil and hot water will soon take it all off
again," said Bigg, who had observed my proceedings.

I felt ashamed of myself when I remembered the object I had in view; and
setting to work at once, with Bigg's assistance, very soon got myself
turned into a very respectable looking young blackamoor.  I helped Bigg,
and touched him up here and there where he had left spots uncovered.
Solon all the time sat watching our proceedings with the greatest
astonishment.  He looked up in my face and gazed earnestly at it, and
when he found that it was entirely black, he whined piteously, as if
some great misfortune had happened to me.  He, however, knew me by my
voice, so that I had no fear of his running away from me, and in a very
little time he got perfectly accustomed to my appearance.

Having done up our bundles again, and got ourselves ready for our march,
we started off towards the interior.  We had a journey of three or four
days at the least before us.  Bigg had been fully that time finding his
way to the sea.  We had numberless dangers to encounter--not only from
natives, but from wild beasts and venomous reptiles.  I had known of
them before, but they now presented themselves more vividly before me,
and I felt how grateful I ought to be to Bigg for his readiness to
encounter them for my sake.  We soon left the region of mangrove-trees.
We got on easily enough across downs and grassy plains, but we had often
great difficulty in forcing our way through the bush and the dense
forests which lay in our course.  We had gone some miles, and had not
hitherto seen any natives.  Just as we were emerging from a wood, Bigg
touched my shoulder and pointed to several black figures with calabashes
on their heads, some three or four hundred yards off; across an open
glade which lay before us.  In another moment we should have been
discovered.  I signed to Solon to keep behind me, and we turned on one
side, skirting the border of the forest to avoid them.  We were not
quite certain whether we had altogether escaped detection, for we
observed them looking about as if their quick eyes had detected
something unusual in the wood.  As soon as we had got round, still
sheltered by trees, we were able to continue our proper course.  We had
arranged what Bigg was to say should we meet any natives, and we were to
give them some small present to show our friendly disposition; at the
same time hinting that we had friends who would wreak their vengeance on
the heads of any one ill-treating us.  We had not gone far before we
came to the outside of the forest, and now for a great distance an open,
undulating country, with here and there trees scattered over it,
appeared before us.

Suddenly Solon stopped, pricked up his ears, and looked intently back
towards the point whence we had come.  We followed with our eyes the
direction at which the dog was pointing, and directly afterwards the
brushwood and the branches of the trees were bent outward, and the head
and trunk of a huge elephant appeared, as he dashed furiously out of the
forest.  No sooner did he catch sight of us than he set up a loud
trumpeting, indicative of rage, and rushed towards us.  He was,
fortunately, still at some distance, so I had time to take off the
covering of my rifle, and to cock it ready for his reception.  The
experience I had gained of elephant-shooting in Ceylon now stood me in
good stead.  My sailor companion, who was not aware of what I was able
to do, was naturally much alarmed on my account.

"Much better climb up this tree out of the way of the brute.  I'll help
you up, sir," he sung out, beginning to make his own way up the gnarled
and crooked trunk.

"No, no; I'll stand below and kill the elephant.  You get up out of his
way.  In case I should miss him, I'll dodge round the tree," I answered;
"I am safe enough; don't fear for me."

While we were speaking, I observed directly behind the elephant a
considerable number of blacks--some dozen or more--armed with spears and
darts.  They were evidently in chase of him, and had not perceived us.
When Solon saw the elephant, he began to bark furiously, rushing towards
him, and then retreating again to me.  His barking attracted the
attention of the natives, who now first perceived us.  The elephant had
halted, trumpeting and shrieking louder than ever, when some of the
natives again darted their spears at him, while Solon assailed him with
his barking in front.  The monster probably thought that the dog had
inflicted the pain he felt, for he now rushed at him with such fury that
I became not a little anxious for his safety.  Solon, however, seemed
perfectly well aware what was best to be done, and contrived nimbly to
keep just beyond the distance that his huge antagonist's trunk could
reach.  Once the elephant had tried to strike him with his trunk, but he
was then a long way off from me.  He had now come within twenty yards of
the tree behind which I stood.  Again he lowered his trunk to strike the
dog.  The opportunity was not to be lost.  I took a steady aim and
fired.  Never have I made a better shot.  The bullet struck the monster
directly on the forehead; and without advancing another foot, down he
sank an inanimate mass.  Solon sprung on the body, barking with delight.
Bigg slid down from the tree; and forgetting his character of a negro,
was about to give a true British cheer, when I stopped him; and the
negroes who had been in chase of the animal came rushing up, staring
with astonishment at his sudden death.  The moment I found that I had
killed the elephant, I had again covered up my rifle, so they could not
even see by what means the deed had been done.  As they assembled round
the animal, I pointed to it to let them understand that they were
welcome to make what use of it they might wish.  My companion also
addressed them, and told them a long story, at which they seemed highly
pleased, for they clapped their hands and gave other signs of
satisfaction.  What they thought of us I could not tell; but I could not
help fancying that they had strong suspicions that we were not real
blacks.  This, however, did not appear to be of much consequence, as
they were evidently impressed with the idea that we were very important
personages, and were prepared to pay us all possible respect.

Bigg discovered that the elephant had only been slightly wounded by
their arrows; and that, had it not been for my shot, he would very
probably have escaped from them.  I was, therefore, in high favour with
them, and they were all very curious to know how I had done the deed.
This I thought it prudent not to tell them, and Bigg tried to mystify
them as much as possible.  They were also equally puzzled to know who I
was.  In this case also Bigg did his utmost to mystify them; and I
believe that they were under the impression that I was a regular black
prince, the son of some mighty potentate or other to the north of their
country.  I had no difficulty in keeping up my character of being dumb,
but I found it necessary to pretend to be deaf also, as they were
constantly addressing me, and of course I could not understand a word
they said.  In the meantime, Bigg talked away for both of us; and
although I very much doubt if his language was particularly grammatical,
he seemed to get on famously with the savages; and acting on an idea
which came into his head, he confirmed the notion they had adopted that
I was a person of no little importance.

By degrees more natives came up from different parts of the forest, and
seemed highly delighted at finding the elephant dead.  I had to go
through the ceremony of being introduced to them, and in a short time I
found myself on the most friendly and sociable terms with them all.
They now began to cut down boughs and erect huts under the surrounding
trees.  Bigg followed their example; but when I offered to assist him,
he begged that I would not, saying that such work would be derogatory to
a person of my exalted rank.  He took the opportunity of telling me,
while no one was listening, that the natives were going to cut up the
elephant for the purpose of obtaining the fat, which they prize
exceedingly.

"You'll see, Mr Marsden, they will eat the whole of him up in a very
short time, though they value most the trunk and the fat."

It was now getting late in the day; and all hands having built their
huts, set to work to collect sticks and to dig holes in the ground.
Each hole was about two feet deep and three wide.  Having lit huge fires
in them with rotten branches of trees, they proceeded to cut off the
trunk and feet of the elephant.  They then scraped out the ashes, and
put a foot or a piece of the trunk in each hole, covering it first with
sand, and then with the hot ashes.  A fresh fire was then made above the
hole; and when that had burned out, the feet were exhumed, and scraped
clean of the ashes.  While these operations were going forward, I sat in
the hut Bigg had formed watching the proceedings.  He had made a fire
also in front of the hut, at which he boiled some tea, which, with some
ham and biscuit, formed our evening meal.  He had secured a piece of the
elephant's feet for Solon, who ate it with considerable satisfaction.

It was late in the night before the natives had finished their culinary
operations.  They then came and invited us to join their feast; and
though I would gladly have excused myself, I did not think it prudent to
do so.  I had a slice from the trunk and another from a foot presented
to me; and though I took it with reluctance, I was agreeably surprised
to find how very palatable it was.  Bigg seemed also to relish it
exceedingly.  Having made a good supper, we retired once more to our
hut; when Bigg having made up our fire to scare away any wild beasts who
might be disposed to pay us a visit, I fell asleep, with my faithful
Solon by my side.  I knew full well that he would arouse us at the
approach of danger.  Probably the noise made by the natives kept the
wild beasts away, otherwise the smell of the baked elephant would have
attracted them to the spot.  When we awoke in the morning, we found the
natives preparing to cut up the elephant.  Having removed the rough
outer skin, they cut off an inner one, with which they make bags for the
conveyance of water.  The flesh is cut into strips and dried, while the
fat is carefully removed and preserved.  We left them engaged in this
operation, several men having completely disappeared inside the huge
carcass.  They were all too busy and eager in the work to notice our
departure, and so we got off without the ceremony of leave-taking.  We
went on in good spirits, for we had made a fair beginning, and secured
friends in our rear, which was of great importance.  We walked on for
about two hours in the cool of the morning, when, beginning to get very
hungry, we looked about for water to cook our breakfast.  None, however,
could we discover.  At length, pushing on ahead, we saw before us a
small antelope called a sassaby.  Bigg said that he was now certain that
water was not far off.  As the antelope did not take to flight, and we
wanted food, I unslung my rifle, and aiming steadily, shot it through
the body.  It ran on for some way, and I thought we should have lost it;
but Solon gave chase, and in a few minutes brought it to the ground.  We
hurried up, and having killed the animal, and cut off as much of the
flesh as we could consume, proceeded on in the direction where we
thought water was to be procured.  Still we did not reach it, and our
thirst and hunger became excessive.

While considering how we could best direct our steps, a flight of birds
passed over our heads to the east.  They, however, circled round after
some time, and flew back westward.  Soon after another flight passed
over our heads, and appeared to descend a quarter of a mile or so ahead.
This encouraged our hopes.  The country was undulating, and there were
hollows which at no distant period had contained water.  Then we came to
one which was still muddy; and ascending a hill near it, we saw before
us a bright mass glittering in the sunbeams.  Solon gave a bark of
delight, and trotted on, and we followed as fast as we could, till we
came to a pool of pure, clear water.  We soon had a fire lighted, and
some water boiling for our tea; while our venison, stuck on little
sticks round it, was toasting, and hissing, and bubbling away right
merrily.  After this we lay down in the shade of a tree to rest.  We
might have travelled through a part of the country where more water was
to be found, but then we should have been certain to meet with more
natives, who might have impeded our progress.

Scarcely had we proceeded half a mile after our forenoon rest, than,
emerging from a wood, we saw before us a very beautiful and to me most
extraordinary sight.  Before us stood, with their heads lifted high up,
a troop of eighteen or twenty giraffes, or camelopards.  Few of them
were under eighteen feet in height, of a delicate colour, and very
graceful.  They turned their small heads at the noise we made, and
perceiving us, switching their long tails with a loud sound, cantered
away before us.  I could easily have brought one of them down, I
fancied, but I had no wish to merit the appellation of the destroyer,
and we continued our course as before.  It was some time, however,
before we lost sight of them.

I cannot describe the variety of animals we met with in our progress.
Many of them I had not seen before, but had no difficulty in recognising
them from the descriptions I had read of African wild beasts.  We were
beginning to look out for a spot on which to camp for the night, when
before us appeared a grove of wide topped mimosa-trees.  If water was to
be found near at hand we agreed that this would just suit us.  We were
approaching the place when up started a huge white she-rhinoceros with
her calf.  I got my rifle ready, expecting that she would attack us; but
after looking at us a minute, she and the calf turned aside, and away
they went, greatly to our satisfaction.  I had never seen a more hideous
monster.  She was inferior only to an elephant in size, and had two
horns, one before the other, on the top of her long head; the hinder
horn was not more than half a foot long, while the front horn, which
inclined forward, was nearly four feet in length.  She carried her
strange, wrinkled head low down to the ground.  In spite of her ugliness
she seemed to be a very inoffensive creature.

There are four varieties of the rhinoceros--two white and two black.
The black are smaller, and by far the fiercer of the two.  They will
turn round and charge their pursuers, ploughing up the ground with their
horns.  They are subject to paroxysms of rage, when they will attack a
bush or a tree, and with loud snorts and blowing they will plough up the
ground round it, and charge it till they have broken it in pieces.  Is
not this the animal referred to by Job when he says, "Canst thou bind
the unicorn with his hand in the furrow? or will he harrow the valleys
after thee?  Wilt thou trust him, because his strength is great? or wilt
thou leave thy labour to him?  Wilt thou believe him, that he will bring
home thy seed, and gather it into thy barn?"  (Job xxxix. 10-12).

Not finding water as we expected, we had to walk on till it was very
nearly dark, when we came to a large pool fed by a stream which appeared
never to be dry.  On going round it, however, to find a convenient place
to dip in our water-bottles, we discovered so many traces of lions,
elephants, rhinoceroses, and other savage animals, that we agreed it
would be wiser to pitch our camp at some distance from the spot.  We
accordingly pushed on an eighth of a mile or so out of sight of the
water, and built our hut and lighted our fire.

We were cooking some of our antelope flesh, and I had put on our
saucepan to boil the water for our tea, when by some carelessness I
upset it.  To go without our tea would have been most disagreeable, so I
at once jumped up and said that I would go off and replenish it.  Bigg
wanted to go and let me stay.

"No, no," I answered; "it was through my fault that the water was lost;
it is my duty to get some more.  You keep up the fire and take care of
the camp."  Just as I was going off I took up my rifle.  "I'll have my
old friend with me," I observed.

Solon of course followed me.  I had got to the pool and refilled both
the bottles, while Solon was lapping at the water, when on looking up I
saw standing on the top of the bank above me a huge lion.  He was
regarding me attentively, as if considering what sort of strange animal
I was who had come to his drinking-place.  Solon discovered him at the
same time, and turned round ready to fly at him had I given the word.  I
signed him to lie down, knowing that one pat of the lion's paw would
have killed him in an instant.  I unslung my rifle, ready to fire should
it be necessary, but I did not wish to throw a shot away.  Keeping my
weapon presented, and covering the kingly animal, I walked steadily up
the bank towards him, crying out, "Boo, boo, boo!" gradually raising my
voice.  The lion stared at me without moving, but as I got nearer he
gradually drew back till he fairly turned round and trotted off into the
bush.  As I got to a distance I looked round, and saw two or three other
lions, followed by some elephants and a couple of rhinoceroses, all of
which animals live on amicable terms; as the two latter have no wish to
eat the lion, and the lion finds them rather tough morsels to swallow.
I hurried back, with Solon close upon my heels, to the camp, when Bigg
and I congratulated ourselves that we had pitched it away from such
unpleasant neighbours.

It was quite dark before we had finished our meal.  We were sitting
before the fire still discussing our venison with no little appetite.
Solon was sitting by my side, and I was every now and then throwing him
a piece, which he seemed to relish as much as we did, when suddenly he
pricked his ears, and jumping up, threw himself into an attitude of the
most earnest watchfulness.  I was certain that some animal or other was
prowling round, so seizing my rifle I stepped out a little way beyond
the fire to try and discover what it was.  Scarcely had I done so when I
heard a roar, and there stood, the bright glare of the fire lighting up
his tawny mane, either the huge lion I had seen at the pond, or one
equally large and powerful.  He had, I suspected, regretted letting me
off so easily, and had followed me to our camp.  He stood looking
fiercely at me for a few seconds, then, uttering a terrific roar, he
seemed about to spring on me.  I held my rifle ready to fire, but I felt
that there were many chances of my missing him.  I would much rather
have had to encounter even the fiercest of elephants.

I shouted out to Bigg, "A lion! a lion!"

Scarcely were the words out of my mouth, when he was on his feet by my
side with a large burning log in his hand.  He sprang forward, and
before I could stop him had dashed it full in the face of the savage
brute.  So astonished was the lion that, without an attempt at
retaliation, he turned round, and with Solon barking defiance at him,
dashed off again into the bush.  Though we did not think that the same
lion would come again, the lesson was not lost on us, and we resolved to
have a large fire blazing, and to keep watch during the night.  As I sat
up during my part of the watch, constantly keeping my eyes around me, I
could hear the lions muttering and calling to each other with sounds
very unlike the roar they utter when they are quarrelling over a carcass
or about to spring on their prey.  There were, too, the cries of
jackals, the laughing of hyenas, the occasional trumpeting of an
elephant, the croakings of night-birds, or of insects or reptiles of
various sorts, which, all mingled together, formed a concert which
effectually banished sleep, and was anything but enlivening and
inspiriting.  Thus passed my second night in the midst of an African
desert.



CHAPTER TWENTY.

FRESH PLAN ADOPTED--HUNT FOR A SUIT OF CLOTHES--KILL A LION--TURNED INTO
A BLACK PRINCE--ARRIVE AT THE VILLAGE--CORDIAL RECEPTION--A NATIVE
FEAST--HOW I ESTABLISHED MY REPUTATION--FIND ALFRED--OUR ESCAPE--REACH
THE STAR--SAIL FOR CAPE TOWN--CONCLUSION.

We were not many miles, according to Bigg's computation, from the
village where I supposed that Alfred was held a prisoner.  My success as
a hunter had made me think of a plan of operations which I had great
hopes would succeed.  It was bold, but I considered that from its very
boldness it was more likely to succeed.  I proposed it to Bigg.  "You
see," said I, "you made me out to be a great person to the first natives
we met when I killed the elephant, and I see no reason why I should not
succeed equally well with these people, if we take more pains to prepare
ourselves for the characters we are to assume.  My idea is this: We will
kill a giraffe or a stag, or some other wild beasts with handsome skins,
and with the trinkets we have got we will dress ourselves out in a very
fine way.  I can be a prince as before, deaf and dumb.  You can be my
attendant and prime minister, doctor or medicine-man.  You tell me that
though they do not like being made slaves themselves, they do not object
to hold others in slavery.  Well, then, you can say that I am anxious to
obtain their opinion on the subject of the slave-trade, and that I have
visited them accordingly; and then you can say what a great hunter I am,
and that I make nothing of killing an elephant or a lion, or any other
wild beast you like to mention."

I need not enter further into the particulars of my plan.  Bigg highly
approved of it, and so we lost no time in making the necessary
preparations.  I doubted whether the skin of a zebra, or a giraffe, or a
lion would make the handsomest regal cloak, and resolved to be guided by
circumstances.  We were proceeding along the side of a valley, when just
below us there appeared, grazing, a herd of zebras, and not far off from
them several giraffes, most of them with young ones by their sides.  We
were to leeward of them, so I hoped to get near enough to have a shot at
one of them without being discovered.  Had I been on horseback, I should
have had no difficulty in catching them up; as it was, I had to proceed
with the greatest caution.  Keeping along as much as possible under
shelter of the brushwood, we descended the hill towards them.  I then
took post behind the nearest clump of shrubs, and told Bigg to go on
ahead as far as he could, and then, showing himself, turn them towards
me.  In a short time I heard his shout, and on they came bounding
towards me.  I selected a young one, handsomely marked; for I thought
that the skin would be lighter, and suit better for a cloak than that of
an old one.  I fired at its breast, and over it fell, scarcely
struggling for a moment.  The shot put the rest to flight.  I, however,
had gained my object.  We at once skinned the animal, and then set to
work to scrape the skin as clean and thin as possible.  This done, Bigg
hung it on to the end of a stick, which he carried over his shoulder,
that it might thus dry in the sun and air as we walked along.

Soon after this I killed a fine deer, which we skinned to serve as a
robe for Bigg.  I thought that he would be soon tired if he had to carry
both skins, and so I proposed at once cutting them into the shape of the
robes we required.  This we did with our knives, and two very
fine-looking garments we produced.  I, however, was not satisfied that
my appearance would be sufficiently regal, so I proposed, if I could, to
obtain a lion-skin with which further to deck myself.  We marched on,
however, without encountering a lion all day.

Towards the evening we reached a water-hole, where we determined to
encamp.  Near it stood the huge hollow trunk of a tree.  This, with a
little addition and cleaning out, would make us, we agreed, a very
comfortable hut for the night.  We examined it thoroughly, to see that
there were no snakes in it, and soon had it fit for our reception.  We
put a roof to it of leaves, and stuck some stout stakes into the ground
in front of it, to keep off any wild beasts which might be disposed to
leap on us unawares.

By the time we had got a fire lighted to cook our tea it was almost
dark.  Just then I saw a huge white rhinoceros come up to drink.  We
were inside our hut.  I let him drink his fill, and as he was about to
turn aside I fired and hit him on the side of his vast head.  He did not
fall, but looked about him as if to see whence the injury had come, and
in what direction to charge, and so I was afraid that the bullet had
glanced off.  I therefore fired again.  The rhinoceros trotted off a
little way from the pool, looking angrily around, but suddenly stopped,
and then, much to our satisfaction, down he came to the ground.  The
body lay still within point-blank range of my rifle.  This was a matter
of great importance.  It must be understood that I killed the
rhinoceros, not in mere wantonness, but that the carcass might serve as
a bait to a lion, of which I was so anxious to get possession.  I waited
for some time, during which an unusual stillness seemed to reign through
the night air.

Suddenly a terrific roar sounded in our ears.  It was not to be
mistaken; it was that of some huge old lion.  I looked out eagerly,
expecting to see the monarch of the forest emerge from the darkness.
Still he did not appear; but a troop of jackals replied to the roar, and
their savage, hideous cry was echoed by that of a number of hyenas.
Before long I saw them emerging out of the neighbouring thickets, and
stealing down towards the body of the rhinoceros.  They quickly flung
themselves on it, and began tearing away at the flesh, wrangling and
fighting over every mouthful.  I should have fired to drive them away,
had I not feared that by so doing I should have prevented the approach
of the lion.  I had just lost all patience, and was about to let fly
among them, when I caught sight of a magnificent lion, with a fine black
mane almost reaching to the ground, which stalked with majestic steps up
to the carcass.  He was followed by two others.  They commenced their
banquet without disturbing the former guests; indeed, none of the
animals seemed to take any notice of each other.  I refrained from
firing at once, for I knew that the lions would not take their departure
without drinking.  I waited also to get rid of the jackals and hyenas,
for I was certain that no sooner should the king of beasts be dead than
they would set upon his carcass and devour it.  I observed that the
other beasts did not attempt to dispute a bone with the lions, but at
the same time they seemed to pay them very little respect, and would
look up and absolutely laugh in their faces without ceremony.

At length scarcely a particle of the big rhinoceros remained, except
some pieces over which the three lions kept watchful guard.  The other
animals stood at a little distance watching them till every particle was
consumed, and then finding that their banquet was at an end, ran off to
their lair, or in search of some other prey.  The lions meantime
approached the water.  The leader presented his side to me; I could
resist no longer, but fired at his shoulder.  He gazed round with a look
of rage and defiance, uttering a loud roar.  Then, seeing no enemy, he
turned to fly, but his roar changed into a mournful, groaning cry, and
before he had gone many paces he sank down helpless on the ground.  He
continued his roar of pain for some minutes.  I was about to rush up to
despatch him at once, but Bigg entreated me to remain quiet, saying that
it is very dangerous to approach a dying lion, as, with a last effort,
he may spring up and destroy the incautious intruder.  As soon as I had
fired, the other lions, scared by the noise, trotted off and disappeared
in the bush.  At last the big lion's groans ceased, and then, carrying
as many sticks as we could lift, with torches in our hands, we
approached the carcass.  Solon ran up to it with evident mistrust, but
after he had sniffed round it, the lion making no movement, we felt
satisfied that it was dead.  We at once lighted a large fire close to
the carcass, to scare away his comrades, or the hyenas or jackals,
should they be inclined to return; and then forthwith set about skinning
him.  It was no easy operation, and we had also to collect sticks to
keep up our fire, while we were several times alarmed by Solon's barking
at the approach of wild beasts.  The night was far spent before the skin
was in what we fancied a fit state for use, and we then returned with
our trophy to our tree.  We lighted another fire in front of it, and
afterwards, while Bigg kept watch, I took a couple of hours' sleep.  He
laughed at the notion when I roused up and told him to lie down, and
said that, on a pinch, he could do very well without sleep for a night
or two.

As soon as we had breakfasted and our garments were ready, we dressed up
in them.

My heart beat anxiously as we drew near the village.  The people stared
at us as we approached, pointing, and running, and chattering away most
vehemently, evidently not knowing what to make of us.  My rifle was
still covered up, and Bigg carried both our bundles.  We advanced
boldly, as if we were confident of meeting with a friendly reception.
As we drew nearer, Bigg began to shout out all the titles he could think
of, to make it appear that I was some very wonderful person.  I looked
about, meantime, eagerly for Alfred.  I did not see him, and I began to
fear that he was not there, or that he might be ill, or perhaps, worse
than all, had sunk under the climate and the labour he had to perform.
The people crowded round us, and the chief made his appearance, and I
saw Bigg pointing to my lion-skin robe, and talking away very
vehemently.  He was explaining, I found, that I was a great slaughterer
of lions and other wild beasts, and that I wore this robe as a mark of
my prowess.  I need not repeat all the extraordinary things he said.
The result was, that the chief and all the people of the tribe looked on
me with the most profound respect.  To show it, they forthwith prepared
a feast, and when Bigg told them that I must have a hut to myself, one
of the principal men in the place volunteered to vacate his.  The chief,
however, expressed his hope that I would give him a specimen of my
skill, and that as the neighbourhood was much infested by lions, I
should be conferring a great benefit on the community by killing them.
Bigg explained this to me when I returned to my but, and I was very glad
to learn of the proposal, as I knew that I should thus the more easily
establish my credit among them.  My first question on finding myself
alone with Bigg was about Alfred.  He said, that from what he had heard
he felt sure that he was in the place, and that if we walked about the
village we should very likely fall in with him.  It might have been more
prudent to remain in my hut, but after waiting a little time, I could
not resist the temptation of taking a stroll to try and discover my
brother.  A good many of the natives followed me as I walked about, but
the chief and others were occupied in preparing for the banquet, and no
one seemed inclined to impede my progress.

I had not gone far when I saw a person in a field digging with a wooden
spade.  As I got near I saw that he was white, though I could not be
certain if he was my brother or not.  I walked close up to him.  I did
not think that he would suspect who we were.  He was dressed in the
remains of a jacket and trousers, but they were almost in tatters, while
a palm-leaf hat covered his head.  Twice I had to pass close to him.  At
last he looked up, and stared at me earnestly.  Then I was certain it
was Alfred, but worn and ill, and sadly changed.  I longed to rush
forward and embrace him, but I had to restrain my feelings, and to
content myself with pointing at him as a sign to Bigg, who, I trusted,
would make some arrangement for him to meet me.  I then, flourishing the
long case in which my rifle was enclosed, walked away, followed by the
mob of negroes, leaving Bigg to speak, if possible, to Alfred.

I had no time again to communicate with Bigg, for on returning to the
village I found that the feast was ready, and that the chief was waiting
to do the honours.  I have not space to describe it.  I exerted myself
to do it justice, and so did Bigg, who succeeded much better than I did.
Some of the dishes, composed of baked roots and fruits, were not bad,
but the animal food was of a very doubtful character.  Some of the
smaller creatures might have been hares or rabbits, but they looked
remarkably like monkeys, while there were other things which might have
been eels, but were, I had a strong suspicion, snakes cut into bits.

When the feast was over, Bigg told me that the chief was anxious that I
should go out that evening and kill some lions.  I nodded my head in
assent.

"I have told him you would do so if his people would show you where they
are to be found," he observed.

Accordingly, the chief and a large number of his people set out with us.
Some dozen were, I found, said to be experienced hunters.  Solon
followed at my heels.  He had created almost as much interest among the
natives as we had, I was looking out for a deer or a zebra, or some
other smaller animal to serve as a bait for the lions, when I heard a
loud trumpeting in the forest, and presently a huge elephant rushed out
directly in front of us.  I was delighted to see him, but the natives
hurried off right and left to escape from him.  I, to their surprise,
stood my ground, though his trunk was lifted, and he was evidently about
to charge.  I had a tree near me.  Solon, as before, performed his part
faithfully, rushing on and barking close up to him.  The elephant
lowered his trunk to strike him when within fifteen yards of me; I
fired, and in a moment he sunk to the ground.

This feat alone satisfied the natives of my prowess, but I was
determined to show that I could kill lions also.  I left a large party
of them cutting up the elephant, and walking on, shot a zebra.  The
body, I knew, would attract the lions, so I signed to Bigg to get a hole
dug near the spot, that it might serve as a rifle-pit for us.  He and I
took up our post there, while the natives hid themselves away in the
surrounding bush to watch my proceedings.  I had not long to wait before
some jackals came screeching up to partake of the banquet they had
scented far off.  Before long two magnificent lions followed.  My
ambition was to kill both of them.  They soon began to attack the
carcass of the zebra, but I waited till they both at the same moment had
their sides turned towards me.  Then I let fly first one barrel, and
then the other, I gave a shout of satisfaction as I knocked them both
over.  They got up, however, roaring, and advanced towards the pit where
Bigg and I, with Solon, lay concealed.  One fell, but the other bounded
on.  I had no time to reload, but I had my pistol, and Bigg had his.  We
held them ready.  The terrific monster, with a roar of rage, was close
above us, his eyes glancing fire; we could almost feel his breath.  We
both fired right at his head at the same moment, and then slunk down in
our pit.  I thought it would prove our grave, but the lion bounded clear
over it, and on jumping up again to reload, I saw him a few paces off
stretched out in the agonies of death.

We agreed that we had done enough for one afternoon, and Bigg, calling
to the natives, they crowded round the bodies of the lions, and gave
strong signs of their satisfaction.

While they were not observing us, I whispered to Bigg that I was anxious
to get back at once to the village, that I might communicate with
Alfred.  It seemed an age, however, before the natives retired to their
huts, and I was alone with Bigg and Solon.  Still longer after that did
it seem before, while I was watching eagerly at the door, that I saw a
figure creeping towards the hut.  I had to hold Solon down, for he
seemed inclined to fly out and bark.

"Ralph, Ralph, is it you indeed come to look for me?" said a voice which
I recognised as Alfred's, and the next moment we were in each other's
arms, and I found myself crying almost as if my heart would burst.
Alfred was not much less moved, while Solon sprang up, and leaning
against us, licked his hand.

Bigg had gone to sleep, but he soon roused up, and a very happy party we
were.  We had not much time to talk though.  Now was the moment for
action.  Alfred was of opinion that the natives would soon suspect me
and Bigg, and that it would be our wisest coarse to make our escape
without any delay.  I completely inclined to the same opinion.

"Why should we wait a moment then?" exclaimed Alfred.  "Let us be off at
once."

"Stay," said I; "you shall rig up in my princely gear, and I will appear
as a humble little blackamoor.  You shall have my pistols, and I will
carry my trusty rifle; we shall then all be armed, and I have no doubt
but that we shall be able to make our way among either natives or wild
beasts.  Quick--quick--here, take the things."

I would not allow Alfred to expostulate.  In a very few minutes the
change was complete, and the black mane of the lion so completely
covered his features, that it was scarcely possible to distinguish what
was the colour of the skin beneath.  Solon sat watching the whole
process with great interest.  I thus once more appeared in my negro
shirt, with bare feet and head.  We all then crept out of the hut.  No
sound was heard.  The stars told us the direction we were to take.
Alfred knew of a well-beaten native path which led eastward.  We crept
on cautiously along it till we were out of hearing of the village, and
then we all ran on as fast as our legs could carry us.  It mattered
little how tired we might be at the end of our journey, provided we
could get in safety on board the _Star_.  We had had a good supper, so
that we had not to stop for feeding.  Before sunrise, we had made good,
I believe, full twenty miles, perhaps still more.  We were not likely to
be pursued, but still we pushed on.  At length, when the sun rose high,
we stopped to breakfast and rest.  Alfred and I had a great deal to talk
about.  He had to tell me his adventures, and I had to tell him how I
had found him out.

In the afternoon we were again on foot, pushing on as rapidly as before.
We saw elephants and rhinoceroses and several lions, but while we were
moving on none of them appeared inclined to attack us.  At night we
rested with large fires in front of us, and a tall tree with some thick
stakes at our backs.  Once we were startled by a bark from Solon and a
fierce growl close to our ears, and there stood a huge black maned lion.
I lifted my rifle to fire and Alfred and Bigg each seized a burning
brand and dashed it in his face.  The reception was warmer than he
expected, and with a roar of surprise he bounded off again into the
bush.

We had more difficulty in dealing with the natives the nearer we
approached the coast.  They evidently suspected us, and wished to stop
our progress.  Bigg talked to them a great deal, but I suspect that they
did not even comprehend his very extraordinary lingo.  We, however,
pushed on and made our escape from them.  It was some hours after noon
when, from the summit of a high ridge, we caught sight of the sea.  We
cast our eyes along the horizon, and thought that we could make out the
_Star_ in the offing.  How thankful we felt, and how our spirits rose!
We hurried down the hill; when at the bottom, we were annoyed to find
ourselves close to a large negro village.  We were going to pass round
it when some of the natives saw us, and we agreed that it would be best
to put a bold face on the matter, and to march openly into the village.
Bigg did his utmost to talk over the people, but I suspect that his
language betrayed him.  They collected in numbers, and by their gestures
it appeared to us that they contemplated detaining us.  To this it would
not do to submit; so having observed a path which we believed led down
to the sea, we hurried along it, Alfred leading.  We supposed that there
was no person of authority in the village to stop us, and we agreed that
it would be wiser to go ahead before one should arrive.  We looked round
every now and then; when at length we saw that no one was watching us,
we pushed on as fast as we could go.  It was generally a descent, but
now and then we had to climb a hill.  At the top of one we saw the sea
glittering below before us, and what was our delight to observe three
boats pulling in towards the shore from a man-of-war brig, which we had
no doubt was the _Star_.  On we ran faster than ever, and good cause we
had to do so, for some loud shouts made us look behind, when we saw a
whole posse of natives brandishing their spears and running after us at
the top of their speed.  Still the boats appeared to be too far off to
reach the shore before the natives would overtake us.  On they came with
dreadful shrieks and cries.  As far as we could see, on looking back,
none of them had firearms, and had I chosen, of course I could have
picked off two, and perhaps even more, before they could have got up to
us; but I was most unwilling to shed blood, and besides, I thought that
if matters could be explained to the natives they might be disposed to
be friends instead of enemies.

Still, unfortunately, this could not under the present juncture be
ascertained.  What we had to do was to keep out of their way.  Lightly
clad as they were, they ran very fast; so did we.  The people in the
boats pulling in towards the shore must have seen them, we fancied, and
gave way with a will to get in in time to assist us.  I looked at the
savages, and then I looked at the boats, and I felt utterly hopeless
that this could be done.  The blacks were almost close enough to have
hurled their spears at us, when, as I had given up all hope of escape, a
loud cheer saluted our ears close to us, and Mr Henley with a dozen
blue jackets well armed, appeared from behind a high rock overhung with
lichens and creepers on our left.  They presented their muskets, and the
natives halted.  The latter, though they might not possess them, knew
perfectly well the effect of fire-arms.  Mr Henley, who knew something
of the language of the coast natives, addressed them, and after a little
palaver, first one and then another came down towards us.  He had no
great difficulty in persuading them that we were friends, for they saw
that had he wished it he could have allowed his men to fire, and might
have killed numbers of them.  He assured them that the English were not
only friends, but that they wished to put an end to the slave-trade, and
to encourage agriculture, and would assist them by every means in their
power.  The result was that we parted on very good terms.

Our appearance on board caused a great deal of amusement, though nothing
could exceed the kindness with which Alfred and I were received and
treated by all the officers.

After calling at several places, we went on to Cape Town.  Two other
ships of war were there, the officers of which came on board the _Star_.
No sooner did the captain of one of them see Alfred, than he held out
his hand towards him, exclaiming--

"I am delighted to meet you again, my dear sir.  Why, you are the very
person who in so gallant a manner swam off to my ship when she was cast
away on the coast of Chagos, and were the means of saving the lives of
all on board."

Alfred, to my great joy, acknowledged that such was the case, for he had
not told me of the circumstance.  The result was that Captain Armstrong,
who had a vacancy on board, at once gave it him; and as there were a
sufficient number of captains at the Cape at the time, he was allowed to
pass his examination as a mate, and was rated as such accordingly.
Several of my other friends were equally fortunate.  A large ship,
homeward-bound, had lost her master, and Mr Henley being known
favourably to the agents at Cape Town, he was appointed to take charge
of her.  Captain Armstrong, knowing that it was important that Alfred
should return home, gave him leave to accompany me in Mr Henley's ship,
the _Susan_.  We were on the point of sailing, when, to my still greater
satisfaction, my grandfather arrived from Ceylon, also on his way home.
We accordingly all agreed to go together on board the _Susan_.  Just
before we sailed, however, the _Star_ was ordered home; and as it was
much better that Alfred should return in her, he once more donned his
newly-made mate's uniform and rejoined her.  As the _Susan_ was not a
very fast sailer, he had thus the satisfaction of reaching England
first, and with joy and thankfulness was he received by all the dear
ones at home.  He had learned a severe lesson from all he had gone
through, and no better officer now exists in the service.  We were not
less welcome when, a few days afterwards, we joined the family-circle.
All our troubles seemed to have vanished.

Little did I think when I left home that I should so soon see all the
dear ones I had left, with our grandfather, kind Mr Ward, Mr Henley,
and Henry Raymond, assembled round our dinner-table, while Solon was
sitting up attentive to all that was going forward; and Tommy Bigg, and
his father, and Johnny Spratt were enjoying a good supper in the kitchen
below.  I ought to have said that my grandfather brought a good account
of kind Mr Fordyce, who was soon coming to England, while Lumsden, my
old school-fellow, had now the chief charge of his affairs in Ceylon.

I had learned much by my voyages and travels.  One truth had been
impressed more firmly than ever on my mind, that under every
circumstance in which we can be placed, if we will but do our duty to
the very utmost of our power, and rely firmly on our Maker's kind
providence and mercy, all will ultimately turn out for the best, and we
shall not fail to see his finger guiding and directing every event for
our ultimate happiness and prosperity.

THE END.





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