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´╗┐Title: Peter the Whaler
Author: Kingston, William Henry Giles, 1814-1880
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Peter the Whaler" ***

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Peter the Whaler, by W.H.G. Kingston.

________________________________________________________________________

Peter's father is a country vicar in Ireland, and Peter is a naughty
teenager, who has got in with friends who encourage poaching, at that
time a most serious offence. His father confiscates the gun, but one
night Peter recovers the gun and has another coaching expedition, during
which he is caught by the gamekeepers.  The magistrate releases him to
his father, who travels with him to Liverpool.  For fifteen pounds
Captain Swales of the BLACK SWAN agrees to take him and to teach him the
rudiments of seamanship on a return voyage to Canada.  It turned out she
was an ill-managed emigrant ship, and the emigrants were very badly
treated.  Captain Swales and his officers are as nasty as they come.
There is a fire on board, and the people are rescued by the MARY,
Captain Dean, who is a very different kind of man than the despicable
Captain Swales.  At Quebec Peter joins the FOAM, Captain Hawk.  There
then follows a series of events, some good, and some bad, but all
well-written.

It must be remembered that Peter the Whaler was probably the first
seafaring book by Kingston, although he had written several books during
the previous twenty years or so,  The book was very well received by the
public, and Kingston took up writing adventure novels for teenagers as a
permanent occupation, until his death about thirty years later.

________________________________________________________________________

PETER THE WHALER, BY W.H.G. KINGSTON.



CHAPTER ONE.

"Peter," said my father, with a stern look, though the tone of his voice
had more of sorrow in it than anger, "this conduct, if you persist in
it, will bring ruin on you, and grief and shame on my head and to your
mother's heart.  Look there, boy, and answer me: Are not those
presumptive evidences of your guilt?  Where did they come from?"  He
pointed, as he spoke, to several head of game, pheasants, partridges,
and hares, which lay on the ground, while I stood before him leaning on
my gun, my eyes not daring to meet his, which I knew were fixed on me.
My two dogs crouched at my feet, looking as if they also were culprits
and fully comprehended the tenor of his words.

My father was a clergyman, the vicar of a large parish in the south of
Ireland, where the events I am now narrating took place.  He was a tall
man, with silvery locks and well-formed features.  I think his hair was
prematurely grey.  The expression of his countenance was grave, and
betokened firmness and decision, though his general character was mild
in the extreme.  He was a kind parent, in some respects too kind; and he
was very indulgent towards the faults and errors of those not
immediately connected with him.  He was on good terms with the Roman
Catholics of the neighbourhood, of which faith were the large majority
of the population, and even with the priests; so that our family had few
enemies, and were never in any way molested by the peasantry.

That, however, we had some foes, I shall have occasion presently to
show.  But I must return to the scene I was describing.  I may be
pardoned for first giving a slight sketch of myself.  I hope that I may
escape being accused of vanity, as I shall not dwell on my personal
appearance.  I believe that I inherited some of my parents' good looks;
but the hardships I have endured have eradicated all traces of them.  I
was well grown for my age (I was barely fifteen), but, dressed in my
loose shooting-costume, my countenance ruddy with fresh air and
exercise, I looked much older.

"What do you suppose would be the lot of a poor man's son, if he were to
be discovered acting as you are constantly doing in spite of my warnings
and commands?" continued my father, his voice growing more serious and
his look more grave.  "I tell you, boy, that the consequences may and
will be lamentable; and do not believe, that because you are the son of
a gentleman, you can escape the punishment due to the guilty.

"You are a poacher.  You deserve the name; and on some occasion, when
engaged in that lawless occupation, you will probably encounter the
gamekeepers of the persons on whose estates you are trespassing, and
whose property you are robbing.  Now hear me out.  They, as in duty
bound, will attempt to capture you.  You and your companions may resist;
your weapons may be discharged, and life may be sacrificed.  If you
escape the fate of a murderer, you may be transported to distant lands,
away from friends, home, and country, to work for long years; perhaps in
chains among the outcasts of our race, fed on the coarsest food, subject
to the tyranny of brutalised overseers, often themselves convicts; your
ears forced to listen to the foulest language, your eyes to witness the
grossest debauchery, till you yourself become as bad as those with whom
you are compelled to herd; so that, when the time of your punishment is
expired, you will be unfit for freedom; and if you venture to return
home, you will find yourself, wherever you appear, branded with
dishonour, and pointed at as the convict.

"Think, Peter, of the grief and anguish it would cause your poor mother
and me, to see you suffer so dreadful a disgrace--to feel that you
merited it.  Think of the shame it would bring on the name of our
family.  People would point at your sisters, and say, `Their brother is
a convict!' they would shake their heads as I appeared in the pulpit,
and whisper, `The vicar whose son was transported!'  But more than all
(for men's censure matters not if we are guiltless), think how God will
judge you, who have had opportunities of knowing better, who have been
repeatedly warned that you are doing wrong, who are well aware that you
are doing wrong: think how He will judge and condemn you.

"Human laws, of necessity, are framed only to punish all alike, the rich
and educated man as well as the poor and ignorant; but God, who sees
what is in the heart of man, and his means of knowing right from wrong,
will more severely punish those who sin, as you do, with their eyes
open.  I am unwilling to employ threats; I would rather appeal to your
better feelings, my boy; but I must, in the first place, take away your
means of following your favourite pursuit; and should you persist in
leading your present wild and idle life, I must adopt such measures as
will effectually prevent you.  Give me your gun."

I listened to all that was said in dogged silence.  I could not refuse
to give up my dearly-beloved weapon; but I did so with a very bad grace;
and I am sorry to say that my father's words had at that time little or
no effect on my heart.  I say at the time, for afterwards, when it was
too late, I thought of them over and over again, and deeply repented of
my wilful obstinacy and folly.

Alas! from how much suffering and grief I should have been saved had I
attended to the precepts and warnings of my kind parent--how much of
bitter self-reproach.  And I must warn my young friends, that although
the adventures I went through may be found very interesting to read
about, they would discover the reality to be very full of pain and
wretchedness were they subjected to it; and yet I may tell them that the
physical suffering I endured was as nothing when compared to the anguish
of mind I felt, when, left for hours and days to my own bitter thoughts,
I remembered that through my own perverseness I had brought it all upon
myself.

Often have I envied the light hearts of my fellow-sufferers, whose
consciences did not blame them.  Let me urge you, then, in your course
through life, on all occasions to act rightly, and to take counsel and
advice from those on whose judgment you should rely; and then not only
in the next world will you have your reward, but, in this, through the
severest trials and bodily suffering you will enjoy a peace of mind and
a happiness of which no man can deprive you.

My parents had four sons and five daughters.  My eldest brother was
studying for the bar in Dublin; and, as the family fortune was limited,
we were somewhat cramped to afford him the requisite means for his
education.  I was consequently kept at home, picking up, when I felt
disposed, any crumbs of knowledge which came in my way, but seldom going
out of my way to find them; nor had I, unfortunately, any plan fixed on
for my future career.

My mother, was constantly employed with my sisters, and my father with
his clerical duties or his literary pursuits; so that I was forgotten,
and allowed to look after myself.  I am unable to account for the
neglect to which I was subjected, but such was the case; and
consequently I ran wild, and contrived, to become acquainted with some
scampish youths in the neighbourhood, in every way my inferiors except
in age; and they gave me lessons which I was, I own, too willing to
learn, in all that was bad.

Sporting was my greatest amusement; and, for my age, I was perhaps one
of the best shots in all the country round.  While I confined myself to
my father's glebe, and to the grounds of two or three friends who had
given me leave to shoot, he did not object to my indulging my
propensity; but, not content with so narrow a sphere of action, I used
frequently, in company of some of the youths I speak of, to wander over
property where I not only had no right to kill game, but where I had
positively been forbidden to trespass, and where I even knew people were
on the look-out to detect me.

I had just returned from one of these lawless expeditions, when I was
encountered by my father, laden with game, and the scene I have
described took place.  As I before said (and I repeat it with shame), I
felt the loss of my gun more than I cared for the lecture, or the grief
my conduct caused my father.  I can scarcely now account for the
obstinacy and hardness of heart which made me shut my ears to all
remonstrances.  I have since then grown wiser, and I hope better; and I
feel that I ought at once to have asked my father's forgiveness, and to
have cheerfully set to work on some occupation of which he approved.
With me, as it will be with every one, idleness was the mother of all
mischief.

For two days I sulked, and would speak to no one.  On the third I set
off to take a walk by myself, across the bogs, and over the hills in the
far distance.  I had got into a better spirit from the fresh air and
exercise; and I truly believe that I was beginning to see my error, and
was resolving to do my best to make amends for it, and to give up my bad
habits, when who should I encounter but Pat Doolan, one of the wildest
of my wild acquaintances!

Before a word of salutation had passed, he asked me why I had not got my
gun with me; and after a weak and vain endeavour to avoid answering the
question, I confessed all that had occurred.  He sneered at my fears and
my fathers' warnings, and laughed away all my half-formed good
resolutions,--telling me that I might just as well go and borrow one of
my sister's petticoats at once, for to that I should come at last if I
was going to give up all manly pursuits.  Unhappy, indeed, it was for me
that I listened to the voice of the tempter, instead of keeping my good
resolutions safely locked up in my own breast, and instantly hurrying
away from him, as I ought to have done.  Or perhaps I might have
answered him, "No; I must not, and will not, listen to you.  I know that
what I have resolved to do is right, and that which you want to persuade
me to do is wicked--an instigation of the evil one; so go away and leave
me."  And if he persisted in remaining near me, I should have set off
and run from him as hard as I could go.  This is the only way to treat
temptation in whatever form it appears.  Fly from it as you would from
the slippery edge of a precipice.

Instead of acting thus, I sat down on the heather by his side, and,
looking foolish and humbled, I began plucking off the crisp flowers and
leaves, and throwing them to the winds.  He asked me if I knew where the
gun was locked up.  When I told him that it was not locked up at all,
but merely placed on the mantelpiece in my father's dressing-room, he
laughed at me for fool because I had not before re-possessed myself of
it.  Fool I was, in truth; but it was to yield to the bad advice my
false and false-hearted friend tendered.  I own that I at first was
rather shocked at what he said; but still I sat and listened, and made
only weak objections, so that he very speedily overcame all my scruples;
and I undertook to get back my gun at all cost, and to join him on the
following morning on a shooting expedition on the property of a
nobleman, some part of which was seen from the hill where we had posted
ourselves.

Doolan could make himself very entertaining by narrating a variety of
wild adventures in which he or his companions had been engaged, or, I
may say, in some of which he pretended to have been engaged; for I since
have had reason to believe that he drew considerably more on his
imagination than on truth for the subjects of his tales, for the purpose
of raising himself in my estimation, thereby hoping to gain a greater
influence over me.

I have often since met such characters, who are very boastful and bold
in the company of lads younger than themselves, or of persons whom they
think will believe them, but cautious and silent in the presence of
those whom they have sufficient discernment to perceive at once take
them at their true value.  Observe one of those fellows the instant an
educated gentleman appears in the circle of which he is the
attraction,--how his eye will quail and his voice sink, and he will
endeavour to sneak away before his true character is exposed.  I need
scarcely advise my readers not to be misled by such pretenders.

The property on which we had resolved to poach was owned by Lord
Fetherston.  We knew that he maintained but few keepers, and that those
were not very vigilant.  He also, we believed, was away from the
country, so that we had no fears of being detected.

I said that my father had few enemies.  For some reason or other,
however, Lord Fetherston was one.  I did not know why; and this fact
Doolan, who was well aware of it, took care to bring forward in
justification of the attack we purposed to make on his property.  I
should have known that it was no justification whatever; but when people
want reasons for committing a bad act, they are obliged to make very bad
ones serve their purpose.

Pat Doolan was my senior by three years.  He was the son of a man who
was nominally a small farmer, but in reality a smuggler, and the owner
of an illicit distillery; indeed I do not know what other lawless
avocations he carried on.

Very inferior, therefore, as he was in position in life, though Pat
Doolan was well supplied with money, he considered it of consequence to
be intimate with me, and to gain an ascendency over my mind, which he
might turn to account some time or other.  He kept me sitting on the
heather, and listening to his good stories, and laughing at them, for
upwards of two hours, till he felt sure that my good resolutions would
not come back.  During this time he produced some bread and meat and
whisky, of which latter he made me drink no small quantity, and he then
accompanied me towards my home, in sight of which he left me, with a
promise to meet him on the same spot at daybreak on the following
morning.

Even that very evening, as I sat with a book in my hand pretending to
read, in the same room the family occupied, and listened to the cheerful
voices of my light-hearted innocent sisters, I began to repent of my
engagement to Doolan; but the fear of his laughing at me, and talking
again about my sisters' petticoats, made me resolve to adhere to it.



CHAPTER TWO.

That night was far from a happy one, for I knew all the time that I was
doing what was very wrong.  I waited till I thought that my father and
all the household were asleep; and then, with the sensations I should
think a thief experiences when about to commit a robbery, I crept along
the dark passage towards his dressing-room.  I trembled very much, for I
was afraid that something would awake him, and that he would discover
what I was about.  I was aware that he would learn what I had done, the
first thing in the morning; but then I should be far off, enjoying my
sport, and I thought not of the consequences.  I felt my way along the
passage, for it was quite dark.  I heard a noise--I trembled more and
more--I expected every instant to be discovered, and I should have
retreated to my room, but that the thought of Pat Doolan's laughter and
sneers urged me on.  I held my breath while I stopped to listen.  There
was again a dead silence, and I once more advanced.  Presently something
brushed against me.  I was almost driven to cry out through terror,
though I believe it was only the cat, whom I had disturbed from her
slumbers on a rug at the door of the room occupied by my sisters.  I
was, I may say, constitutionally brave, almost to fool-hardiness, and
yet on this occasion I felt the veriest coward in existence.  Again I
went on--the door of the dressing-room was ajar--I was afraid to push it
lest it should creak on its hinges--I slowly moved it a little, and
crept in.  The moonlight was streaming through an opening in the upper
part of the shutter on the coveted weapon.  I grasped it eagerly, and
slinging the shot-belt and powder-horn, which was by it, over my
shoulder, I silently beat my retreat.

Now that I had won my prize, I felt much bolder, and without accident I
reached my room.  Sleep I could not; so, carefully closing the door, I
spent the remainder of the night in cleaning my gun and getting ready
for my excursion.  I got out of the house without being perceived, and,
closing the door behind me, even before the time agreed on I reached the
spot where I was to meet Doolan.  A hoar frost lay on the grass, the air
was pure and bracing, my gun was in my hand, and plenty of powder and
shot in my belt; and this, with the exercise and excitement, enabled me
to cast away all regrets for my conduct, and all fear for the result.

I anxiously watched for my companion as I walked up and down the road to
keep myself warm, till at last I began to fancy that some accident must
have happened to prevent his coming.  It never occurred to me that he
could play me false.  I had not learned to be suspicious of any one.  At
last I saw him trudging across a field towards me, and whistling as he
came.

I could not have whistled if I had tried; but then, bad as he was, he
was not, like me, disobeying a kind parent.  When I remember the sort of
person Doolan was (for his appearance was coarse and vulgar in the
extreme), I wonder he could have gained such an influence over me.  I
believe that it was the boastful way in which he talked made me fancy
him so important.  I was very innocent and confiding, in spite of the
bad company into which I had fallen; and I used to believe all the
accounts he gave me of his own adventures, and those of his own
particular friends.  I have, fortunately, seldom met a man who could
tell a falsehood with such a bold, unblushing front.  I had a great
horror of a falsehood, notwithstanding my numerous faults; I despised it
as a mean, cowardly way of getting out of a difficulty, or of gaining
some supposed advantage.  I did not believe that a person older than
myself could possibly be guilty of telling one.  I fancied that only
very little miserable children, or mean contemptible people, told
stories; and I therefore could not fancy that such a person as Doolan
would even condescend to say what was not true.  I honestly say that I
always adhered to the truth myself; and to this circumstance I ascribe
my not having irretrievably sunk into the grade of society to which my
too frequent companions belonged.  I have mentioned Doolan, whose faults
I would rather have forgotten; but I naturally wish to excuse myself as
much as I can, and to account for the influence he had gained over me--
an influence he never would have obtained had I known him to be what I
now know he was.

It would indeed be happy for the young if they always could learn the
true characters of their companions; and it is in this point that the
advice of their older friends is so valuable.  They, by their experience
of others, are generally able to judge pretty correctly of persons, and
often discern very dangerous qualities which young people cannot
perceive.  Therefore I say to my young friends, Avoid the acquaintance
of those against whom your relations, or those who take an interest in
your welfare, warn you, although you may think them, in your blindness,
very fine fellows, or even perfect heroes.  I wish that I, Peter--your
friend, if you will so let me call myself--had thus followed the
oft-repeated warnings of my kind father, and kept clear of Pat Doolan.

Doolan's loud cheer, as we met, raised my spirits still more, and away
we trudged gaily enough towards the scene of our intended sport.  He
laughed and talked incessantly without giving me a moment for thought,
so that when we reached the ground I was ready for anything.  A hare
crossed my path.  It belonged, I knew, to Lord Fetherston.  I fired,
knocked it over, and bagged it; and while Doolan was applauding me, a
pheasant was put up, and in like manner transferred to my game-bag.
Never before had we enjoyed such capital sport, till, weary with our
exercise, we sat down to partake of the provisions, not forgetting a
whisky bottle which my companion had brought with him.  While we were
eating, he amused me with an account of an intended run of smuggled
goods which was to be made on the coast two nights thence; and without
much difficulty I agreed to join the party who were to assist in landing
the things, and in carrying them up the country to the places where they
were to be concealed.

On these occasions, conflicts between the coastguard officers and the
smugglers often take place, and lives are frequently lost.  This I well
knew, though perhaps I did not think about it.  I was pleased with the
idea of the danger, and flattered by having so much confidence placed in
me.  I thought it was a very manly thing to assist the smugglers, while
Doolan all the time wished to implicate me, to be able, should we be
discovered, to shield himself by means of me.  After breakfast we
resumed our sport.  Our game-bags were full and very heavy, and even we
were content.  My companion at last proposed to return home.  "Home," I
remarked unconsciously.  "How can I return home?  How can I face my
father after having thus disobeyed him?"  I thought.  This feeling had
not before occurred to me.  I already repented what I had done.  "I
can't go home now," said I to Doolan aloud.

"Why not?" said he; "you've a mighty fine faste to place before your
dad; and, faith, if he's a sinsible man, he'll ax no questions how you
came by it."  Such were my companion's notions of morality; and in this
instance he spoke what he thought was the truth, for he had been taught
no better, and he knew that thus his own father would have acted.

"It won't do; I cannot look my father in the face, and must go to your
house now; and I will creep home at night, when there's no one to see
me."

"Well, Pater, you must do as you like," he said, laughing; "you're
mighty welcome to come to our house and to stay there as long as you
plase; at the same time that I see no reason at all, at all, why your
dad shouldn't be glad to see such an illigant stock of game for his
dinner."

"I know my father better than you do, Pat," said I, for the first time
in my life asserting a little determination with him.  "Home I will not
go this day."

So it was settled; and we were bending our steps in the direction of
Doolan's house, through Lord Fetherston's property, when another
pheasant got up before me.  My gun was loaded, and I could not resist
the temptation to fire.  The bird fell, and I was running forward to
pick it up, when three persons appeared suddenly from a path through a
copse close to me.  Doolan, who was a little in advance, ran off as fast
as his legs could carry him, throwing away his game-bag in his fright,
and leaving me to take care of myself as I best could.  Two of the
strangers, whom I guessed to be keepers by their dress--indeed one I
knew by sight--rushed forward and seized me roughly by the collar.

"What are you doing here, you young scamp?" exclaimed one of them.
"Killing our lord's game, and caught in the act," he added, picking up
the still fluttering bird.  "Come along, and we'll see what he has to
say to you."

The other immediately made chase after my companion; but Doolan ran very
fast, and was in good wind, which the keeper was not, so that the former
soon distanced him.  The keeper gave up the chase, calculating that,
having caught one of us, he should be able to lay hands on the other
whenever he chose.

On his return, with many a cuff he dragged me along towards the third
person I spoke of, and whom I at once recognised as Lord Fetherston
himself.  He did not remember me; but the keepers did, I suspect, from
the first.

"What is your name, youngster?" said his lordship in a severe tone.

I told him, with the shame I felt strongly depicted on my countenance.

"I am sorry to hear it," he replied.  "And that of your companion?"

"Pat Doolan, my lord."  I said this with no vindictive feeling, or with
any idea of excusing myself; but I was asked a question, and without
considering what might be the result I answered it.

"A pretty companion for the son of the vicar of ---.  Take away his gun,
O'Rourke," he said to the keeper, "and the game: to that he has no
right.  And now, young gentleman, I shall see your father on this matter
shortly.  If he chooses to let his son commit depredations on my
property, he must take the consequences."

"I came out without my father's knowledge, and he is in no way to
blame," I answered quickly; for I could not bear to have any reflection
cast on my father through my fault.

Lord Fetherston looked at me attentively, and I think I heard him
muttering something like, "He is a brave lad, and must be rescued from
such companionship;" but I am not quite certain.

"Well, sir, you at all events must not escape punishment," he replied
aloud.  "For the present, I leave you in the custody of my keepers.  You
see the condition to which you have reduced yourself."

He then gave some orders to one of the keepers, which I did not hear;
and without further noticing me he walked on, while they led me away
towards Fetherston Abbey, his lordship's residence.  I need scarcely say
that my feelings were very wretched, and full of shame; and yet perhaps
I would rather it should thus have happened, than that I should have
been compelled to go back to my father.  It was perhaps somewhat of a
consolation to feel that I was being justly punished, and yet not by my
father's hand.  I don't know that I thought this at the time, but I know
that I did afterwards.  And then, when days had passed, and many other
events had occurred, I felt very grateful that Providence had thus
disposed of me, and had preserved me from a fate which in all human
probability would have been mine had I this time escaped with impunity.

Lord Fetherston was a magistrate, and consequently in the Abbey there
was a strong room, in which, on occasion, prisoners were locked up
before they were carried off to jail.  Into this room I was led, and
with a heavy heart I heard the key turned in the lock, and found myself
alone.  If I had wished to escape I could not; and there were no books,
or other means of amusement, so that I was left to my own reflections.
A servant, who would not answer any questions, brought me in some
dinner, which I could scarcely taste; and at night a small bed,
ready-made, was brought in, and I was again left to myself.  Two days
thus passed away: my obstinate spirit was completely broken, and I must
say that I truly had repented of all my folly and idleness.  On the
third day the door opened, and my father appeared.  He looked very sad,
but not angry.  He took a chair and sat down, while I stood before him.
For more than a minute he could not speak.

"Peter," he at length said, "I do not come to reproach you: the grief I
and your mother feel, and what you will have to endure henceforth, will
be, I trust, sufficient punishment.  We must part with you, my son; we
have no choice.  You must go to foreign lands, and there retrieve your
name, and, I trust, improve and strengthen your character.  You have
placed yourself and me in Lord Fetherston's power.  He insists on it,
that you shall forthwith be sent to sea; and on that condition he
promises to overlook all that has occurred.  He did not even speak
harshly of you; and I am fain to believe that what he has decided is for
the best.  At my earnest solicitation, he consented that you should take
only a short voyage first to North America, provided that you sail
without delay.  Accordingly, I have agreed to set off to-morrow with you
for Liverpool, whence many ships sail for that part of the world, and I
dare say that I shall find some captain to take charge of you.  Do you
consent to abide by this arrangement?"

"I think Lord Fetherston is right," I replied.  "The life of a sailor,
if what I know of it is correct (little in truth did I know of it), will
just suit me; and though I regret to go as I am going, and grieve to
wound my mother's heart, yet I consider that I am very leniently dealt
with, and will gladly accept the conditions."  So it was settled, and my
father led me out of my prison.  Lord Fetherston met us as we left the
mansion.

"My son gratefully accepts your conditions, my lord," said my father,
colouring.  His pride, I fear, was humbled to the dust (alas! through
me) when he said so.  "I shall fulfil to the letter your lordship's
commands."

"I am glad to hear it, Mr Lefroy; depend on it, you act wisely," said
Lord Fetherston.  "And I trust that we part without malice, young man,"
addressing me.  "You have my well-wishes, I can assure you."  He held
out his hand, and I shook it, I believe gratefully, though I said
nothing; and without another word I jumped into the car which had
brought my father, and we drove home.

There was much grief and sorrow when we got there, and many a tear in
the eyes of my mother and my sweet, ever kind, sisters as they packed up
my little kit; but not a word of reproach.  Thus passed the last day for
many a long year that I spent at home.

Let me tell those who wish to quit their homes to go roaming round the
world in search of what they know not, that though they chance to bring
back shiploads of riches, they will find no jewels comparable in price
to a another's fond love, a father's protecting affection, the sweet
forbearing regard of tender sisters, a brother's hearty interest, or the
calm tranquillity of the family roof.

I write for the large and happy majority of my readers: some few are
less fortunate, and they in truth deserve the sympathy of the rest.
Cherish, I say, while you can, the affections of your home; and depend
on it, when far away, the recollection alone will be like a refreshing
spot in the weary desert through which your path in life may lead you;
for be assured that there is no place like home.



CHAPTER THREE.

I remember very little of my journey to Dublin, except that it was
performed on the top of the mail.  My father went outside also, which
was not his usual custom; but he did not like to expose me to the
inclemency of the weather while he was comfortably ensconced within
(another proof of his love), and he could not spare money to pay for my
fare inside.

We saw my eldest brother for an instant, just for me to wish him
good-bye, and the same afternoon we went on board a steamer bound for
Liverpool.

She was very different to the superb vessels which now run twice a day
from one place to the other, making the two capitals, for all intents
and purposes, not so far off as London and Winchester were not a hundred
years ago.  She was in every respect inferior; but I thought her, as she
was indeed, a very wonderful vessel.  I was never tired of examining her
machinery, and in wandering through every part of her.

I had never before been on board a steamer; and as I was naturally of an
inquiring disposition, I had numberless questions to ask to learn how it
was the steam made the engines work, and the engine made the large
paddle-wheels go round.  This occupation prevented me from thinking of
what had occurred, and kept me in good spirits.

Arrived at Liverpool, we went to an inn, and my father immediately set
out with me to inquire among the ship-brokers what ships were sailing
for British North America.

"You shall go to an English colony, Peter," said my father.  "Wherever
you wander, my son, remember you are a Briton, and cease not to love
your native land."

Liverpool was then, I thought, a very fine city.  I was particularly
struck by the fine public buildings; the broad streets, full of
richly-stocked shops; and more than all, by the docks, crowded with
shipping.  Since then, several of the streets have been widened, the
docks have been increased, and many fine buildings have been added; and
as the wealth of Liverpool continues to increase, many more will be
added, till it vies with some of the proudest cities in the world.  Such
is the result of commerce, when guided by a wise and liberal policy.

Had my father known more of the world, I am inclined to think that he
would have waited till he could procure an introduction to some
respectable ship-owner, who would have selected a good honest captain
with whom to place me.  Instead of so doing, he walked into several
offices by chance, over which he saw written "Shipping Agent and
Broker."  Some had no ships going to the British North American ports,
others did not know of any captains who would take charge of a raw
youngster like me.  One said if I liked to go to the coast of Africa he
could accommodate me, but that he could not say that I might not have to
spend two or three months up some of the rivers, waiting for a return
cargo of ivory and gold dust.  Another said he could secure me a trip to
China if I would pay a premium; and three others offered me cruises to
the West Indies and North America.  The fact was, that the navigation of
the mighty river Saint Lawrence was scarcely open, and consequently few
ships were ready to sail for Quebec.  At last a broker into whose office
we entered, informed us that he was agent for one of the first emigrant
ships which would sail that year; that her captain was a very superior
man, a great friend of his; and that he doubted not for a small premium
he would take charge of me.  Mr John Cruden, our new friend, insurance
broker and general shipping agent, was a very polite man, and extremely
soft-spoken; but he was of an extremely inquisitive disposition, I
thought, for he asked my father numberless questions about himself and
me, to all of which he returned the short monosyllable "H'm," which did
not inform us whether he was satisfied or not.  I found all the time
that he was merely trying to discover what amount of premium my father
was likely to be able to pay, that he might ask accordingly.

The office, in which we stood, was very small for the large amount of
business Mr Cruden informed us he transacted in it, and very dark; and
so dirty, that I thought it could never have been cleaned out since he
commenced his avocations there.  There were sea-chests, and cases, and
small casks of all sorts piled up in all the odd corners.  There were
also coils of rope, and bottles, and rusty iron implements, the form of
which I could not discern, and bundles of old clothes and canvas bags,
and compass-boxes in and about the cases, and hanging from the ceiling;
while a tarry, fishy, strong shippy odour pervaded the room.  I was
particularly struck with the model of a ship fully rigged on a shelf
over the mantelpiece; but she also was as much covered with dust as the
ship in which the ancient mariner went to sea would have been, after he
had shot the albatross, could any dust have reached her.  I observed all
these things while our new friend was talking to my father.

"You will doubtless like to make the acquaintance of Captain Elihu
Swales, Mr Lefroy," said Mr Cruden.  "I expect him here every instant,
and I shall then have the pleasure of introducing him to you, and we can
arrange matters forthwith.  You will find him, sir, a very amiable,
excellent man--indeed you will, sir--a very proper guardian for a young
man."

Whether this description was correct or not I had then no means of
judging.  The subject of this eulogium appeared while it was being
uttered; indeed I suspect he heard a portion of it, for, suddenly
turning my head after growing weary of looking at the dusty ship, I saw
a man, whom I instinctively suspected to be the captain, standing
outside the little paddock in which we were enclosed, called by Mr
Cruden his counting-house, with a very peculiar smile on his
countenance.  Had I not turned, I think he would have burst forth
outright into laughter.  I must remark that my father's back was towards
him, and that Mr Cruden, unless he was very near-sighted, could
scarcely have helped seeing when he came in.

"Ah, there is at last my excellent friend," observed the agent when he
perceived that I had discovered the captain.  "Mr Lefroy, allow me to
introduce Captain Swales to you.  Captain Swales, this gentleman has a
son whom he wishes to send to sea.  You will take charge of the lad.
You will be a second father to him.  I can depend on you.  Say the word,
and all parties will come to terms."

"Day, sir," said Captain Swales, making as if he would take off his hat,
which he did not.  He was a very respectable man, as far as dress went;
that is to say, he was clothed in a suit of black cloth, with a black
silk handkerchief--nothing very remarkable, certainly: most masters and
mates of merchantmen wear such on shore.  His figure was short and
square, there was nothing rounded about him; his features were all
angular; and though there was a good deal of him, it was all bone and
sinew.  His countenance was brown, with a deep tinge of red superadded;
and as for his features, they were so battered and seamed with winds and
weather, that it was difficult to discern their expression.  I remember,
however, that the first glance I caught of his eye, as it looked
inquiringly towards Mr Cruden, I did not like, even though at the time
he was smiling.

"You wish to send your son to sea, sir," he continued to my father.  "As
Mr Cruden says, I'll look after him as if he was my own boy, sir.  I'll
keep him from mischief, sir.  Lads always gets into mischief if they
can; but with me, sir, they can't--I don't let 'em.  I look after them,
sir; and when they knows my eye is on them, they behaves themselves.
That's my principle, sir; and now you know me."

He said this in an off-hand, bluff, hearty way, which made my father
fully believe that he had fallen in with a prize--indeed, that he was
supremely fortunate in having secured so kind a protector for me.  It
was finally arranged that he was to pay Captain Elihu Swales the sum of
fifteen pounds; in consideration of which, in addition to any service I
could be of, I was to mess at his table, and to learn what I could of a
seaman's duty, till the ship returned to Liverpool.

The _Black Swan_, the name of Captain Elihu Swales' ship, would not be
ready for sea for some days, he informed my father; and till she was so,
as he was compelled to return home immediately, Mr Cruden kindly
undertook to board and lodge me at the rate of twelve shillings a week.
I was to go on board the _Black Swan_ every day, to see if I was wanted;
and I was to return to Mr Cruden's in the afternoon, or when I was not
wanted.  My father considered this a very admirable arrangement, and was
perfectly confident that he had done the best circumstances would allow,
and that he had left me in safe and honourable hands.

On our way to our inn, we met one of the brokers to whom we had spoken
in the morning.  He asked if we had found what we wanted.  "Oh yes,"
replied my father, "an excellent man, Captain Swales, a friend of Mr
Cruden's--very superior--very superior indeed."  The broker, I thought,
looked odd at this, and was at first apparently going to speak; but on
second thoughts he seemed to consider that it was no business of his,
and he passed on with a cold "Oh, really--good-day, sir."  It was
afterwards only, perhaps, that his manner struck me; at the time I
supposed that it was usual to him.

We spent most of the afternoon in purchasing a sea-chest and an outfit
for me, according to a list furnished by Mr Cruden, to whose office my
traps were transferred forthwith.  We did not go down to see the _Black
Swan_, because Captain Swales said she was a long way off, and was not
fit to receive visitors, but that she would be in a few days.  He then
remarked that she was one of the finest and fastest craft out of
Liverpool.  "Nothing could beat the _Black Swan_ when she had a mind to
put her best foot foremost."  I was wondering whether ships really had
feet.  I afterwards found that this was a figurative way of expressing
that she sailed fast.  These observations were made when we returned
with my chest to Mr Cruden's, where we again met my future captain; and
when the sum agreed on for my voyage was paid into the hands of the
first-named person, my father's heart was softened towards me; and after
he had exhausted all the good advice he could think of, and had given me
several useful books, and many little articles of his own property, he
made me a present of six pounds as pocket-money, and to purchase
anything I might wish to bring back from America.  He took his watch out
of his fob, and would have given me that also, but I persuaded him to
keep it, assuring him that I did not require it, and that I should
certainly break it, or lose it overboard, as would have been the case
probably the first time I went aloft.  The next morning my poor father
returned by the steamer to Dublin.  He felt very much, I am sure, at
parting from me, more than he would have done under other circumstances,
though by a considerable effort he mastered himself so as not publicly
to betray his emotions.  He was gone; and I was left alone in the big
world to look after myself, with little more experience of its ways than
a child.



CHAPTER FOUR.

When my father was gone, I went back to Mr Cruden's office and asked
him to tell me where I could find his house, at which I understood I was
to lodge.

He looked up from the book in which he was writing, with an air of
surprise, and replied, "You are mistaken, my lad, if you suppose that I
am about to introduce into the bosom of my family one of whom I know
nothing.  Your father is a very respectable man, I dare say, and you may
be a very estimable youth, for what I know; but it is generally a
different sort who are sent to sea as you are being sent; and therefore
it is just possible you may be a wild young scamp, whose face his
friends may never wish to behold again--hark you."

I blushed as he said this, and looked confused; for my conscience told
me that he spoke the truth.

"Ah!  I guessed I was right," he continued.  "Now, to answer your
question.  While you remain on shore, which won't be for long, you may
swing your hammock in the loft over this office; and for cooking, you
won't require much of that.  This will break you in by degrees for the
life you've to lead, and will do you good, my lad.  So I hope you will
be grateful."

From the determined manner he had about him, I supposed that all was
right; and had it been otherwise, my spirits at that time were too low
to allow me to remonstrate.  I asked him next if I could not go on board
the _Black Swan_, to make myself useful.

He gave a peculiar smile, the meaning of which I did not comprehend at
the time, as he replied, "By all means.  You will probably find Captain
Swales on board--at all events his first mate; and you may offer your
valuable services to them.  When they have done with you, you may come
back here.  By keeping along the quays to the right, you cannot miss the
ship if you ask for her."

I had scarcely fancied that there were so many ships in the world as I
saw crowded together in the Liverpool docks, as I passed through them
for the first time in my life.  It gave me a great notion of the wealth
and commerce of the place.  "And these will all be gone in a few weeks,"
I thought, "scattered far and wide to all parts of the world, and their
places will be filled by others now on their homeward voyage, which will
have again to make way for a totally fresh set."  I inquired for the
_Black Swan_ of the seamen and porters loitering about the quays, but I
did not get very satisfactory answers.  Some told me that she was drunk
last night, and had not got up yet.  Others said she had sailed
yesterday, for they had seen her dropping down with the tide.  The
boatmen invariably wanted me to take a boat to look for her, as the only
chance I had of finding her; but I saw that they were trying to impose
on me, and passed on.  At last, when I had got very near to the west end
of the docks, I asked a man whom I saw standing in a meditative mood,
with his hands in his pockets, if he would tell me where the _Black
Swan_ was to be found.

"Why, I calculate, if you look right before your nose, young one, you'll
see her as big as life," he answered, pointing to a large ship lying
along the quay, on board which a number of men were employed about the
rigging; while others, with a peculiar song, were hoisting in the cargo.
I found that the first were riggers, and that the others were dock
porters, and that neither belonged to the ship; the regular crew, with
the exception of two mates and the cook, not being engaged till just
before the ship was ready for sea.

I must notice here the very bad system which has long prevailed with
regard to British merchant seamen.  The moment a ship arrives in
harbour, the crew are paid their wages and discharged.  On this they are
immediately set upon by Jews and harpies of every description.  I do
them no wrong when I say that they are the very worst of the human race:
the fiercest savages have some virtues--these wretches have none.

The poor seamen are cajoled by them with every artful device; nor do the
miscreants cease till they have plundered them of all their hard-earned
gold.  Not content with this, these crimps--for such is the name by
which these persons are known--encourage the seamen to get into their
debt, chiefly for liquor; and they then go to the masters of merchantmen
looking out for crews, and make any arrangements they please.  Part of
the seamen's wages are paid in advance, and this goes into the pockets
of the crimps.  I have known men put on board in a state of brutal
intoxication, without knowing who were their officers, or where they
were going to.  Thus the men were kept in a state of absolute slavery,
without self-respect or a chance of improvement.

I speak of the system as it was till lately.  I trust that a better
state of affairs is now being introduced; at the same time, as there is
a tendency in most things to let abuses creep in, I must entreat you, my
young friends, in your several capacities when you grow up, not to
forget the interests of our brave seamen.  On those seamen depend
greatly the prosperity, the glory, the very existence of England; and,
whether as legislators or as private gentlemen, I tell you it is your
duty to inquire into their condition, and to endeavour to improve it by
every means in your power.

But to return to the _Black Swan_, and the man who had pointed her out
to me.  There was something I remarked very peculiar about the said man,
so I will speak of him first.  He wore a straw hat with a very broad
brim, a nankeen jacket, though the weather was still cold, Flushing
trousers, which did not near reach to his ankles, and a waistcoat of
fur--of beaver, I believe, or of wild cat.  He had a very long face, and
lantern jaws.  His nose was in proportion, and it curled down in a way
which gave it a most facetious expression; while a very bright small
pair of eyes had also a sort of constant laugh in them, though the rest
of his features looked as if they could never smile.  His complexion had
a very leathery look, and his figure was tall and lanky in the extreme.
I could not have said whether he was an old or a young man by his
appearance.

"Well, there's the ship," he observed, seeing that I was looking at him
instead of going on board.  "_Do_ you know me now?" with an emphasis on
the _do_.  "That's kind now to acknowledge an old friend.  We was raised
together, I guess; only you wasn't weaned till last summer, when the
grass was dried up."

I saw that he was laughing at me; but as I felt that I had been rude in
staring at him, I said I begged his pardon, but that he made a mistake
in supposing we were acquainted, unless he had visited the south of
Ireland, seeing that I had never been out of that part of the country
before.  This seemed to amuse him mightily, for he gave way to a quiet
and very peculiar laugh, which I heard as I passed on towards the ship.

There was a plank placed from the quay to the deck of the ship, and by
means of it I stepped on board the _Black Swan_.  No one took any notice
of me, so that I had time to look about me.  She was a ship of some
eight hundred tons burthen, though she was advertised as of twelve
hundred.  She had a raised poop aft, which I may describe as an
additional house above the deck, the doors of which opened on the deck.
There was a similar raised place forward, called the topgallant
forecastle.  Under the latter the seamen and mate lived, while the
captain and passengers inhabited the poop.  The space between decks was
open fore and aft, and fitted up with standing bed-places.  This was for
the abode of the poorer class of emigrants.  The hold, the remaining
portion of the ship below the main deck, was filled with cargo and
provisions.

All this I discovered afterwards, for at first everything appeared to my
sight an inextricable mass of confusion and disorder.  After watching
for some time, I observed a man whom I concluded was the first mate, by
the way he ordered the other people about and the air of authority which
he assumed; so at last I mustered courage to go up to him.

"Please, sir," said I in an unusually humble tone, "are you the first
mate of the ship?"

"Well, if I am, and what then?" was his not very courteous answer.

"Why, it's settled that I'm to go in this ship to learn to be a sailor,
so I've come on board at once to make myself useful," I replied.

He eyed me curiously from head to foot as if I was some strange animal,
and then burst into a loud laugh.  "You learn to be a sailor?--you make
yourself useful?--you chaw-bacon.  Why, the hay-seed is still sticking
in your hair, and the dust ain't off your shoes yet.  What can you do
now?" he asked.

I confessed that I knew nothing about a ship, except the machinery of a
steamer, which I had examined in my passage across from Dublin; but that
I would learn as fast as I could.

"And so you are a young gentleman, are you?" he continued, without
attending to my observations.  "Sent to sea to learn manners!  Well,
we'll soon knock your gentility out of you, let me tell you.
Howsomdever, we don't want no help here, so be off on shore again; and
when you meet John Smith, just ask him to take you a walk through the
town, and not to bring you back to make yourself useful till the ship's
ready for sea, d'ye hear, or you'll wish you'd stayed away, that's all."

I must say that even at that time I thought such a man was not fit to be
placed in command of others, and yet I am sorry to say that I met many
others no better fitted to act as officers.  I did not answer him; and
though I did not understand what he meant about John Smith, I
comprehended enough of his observations to judge that it would be more
advantageous for me to keep out of his way; so I walked along the plank
again to the quay.  There was the man I have described, standing as
complacently as ever.  As smoking is not allowed in the docks, for fear
of fire, he was chewing.

"And so, young 'un, you've done your business on board; and what are you
going to do next?" he asked, as he saw me sauntering along.  I felt that
there was a kind tone in his voice, so I told him that I had nothing to
do, as the mate of the _Black Swan_ did not require my services.

One question led on to another, and he very soon wormed my whole history
out of me.  "And your name is Peter Lefroy, is it?  Then mine's Silas
Flint, at your service.  And now, as neither of us has anything to do,
we'll go and help each other; so come along."  Saying this, he led the
way out of the dock.

I wondered who Mr Silas Flint could be, and yet I had no mistrust in
him.  From his manner, and the tone of his voice, I thought he was
honest, and meant me no harm; and my heart, I must own, yearned for
companionship.  He did not leave me long in doubt; for after I had told
him everything I had to tell about my previous life, he began to be
equally communicative about himself.  "You see, Peter, I've secured my
passage in the _Black Swan_, so we shall be fellow-voyagers; and as I've
taken a sort of liking to you, I hope we shall be friends.  I come from
'Merica, over there, though I don't belong to the parts she's going to;
but you see I've got some business at Quebec, and so I'm going there
first."  I cannot pretend to give his peculiar and quaint phraseology.

I soon learned that he was raised, as he called it, in the Western
States of America; that he had spent much of his life as a hunter and
trapper, though he was a man of some little substance; that having
accidentally seen an advertisement in the paper, stating that if the
heirs of the late Josiah Flint, of Barnet, in the county of
Hertfordshire, England, would apply to Messrs. Grub and Gull, Fleece
Court, Chancery Lane, London, they would hear of something to their
advantage, he, believing himself to be a descendant of the said Josiah,
had come over to hear the welcome news.  He remarked, with his peculiar
smile, that he had _heard_ a great deal which might be very advantageous
to him, and which might or might not be true, but that he had got
nothing--that he had established his undoubted claim to be one of the
heirs of the said Josiah, but that he had fifty cousins, who had turned
up in all directions, and whom he would never otherwise have had the
happiness of knowing.  The gain in this case did not seem great, as they
none of them showed any cousinly affection, but did their best to prove
that he was an impostor.  Thus all the share of his grandfather's
property went in law expenses; and he was going back to the land of his
father's adoption considerably poorer than he came, and in no loving
humour with England and his English cousins.

Such is the brief outline Silas Flint gave me of his history, as we
strolled together through the streets of Liverpool.  If, however, I
continue describing all the characters I met, and all the strange things
I saw, I shall never get on with my history.  Silas made a confession
which much pleased me: it was, that although he had lived many years in
the world, he still felt that he had much to learn, and was constantly
doing things he wished to undo: the last was paying his money for his
passage, before he had made any inquiries about the ship.  He hinted
that Mr Cruden was not as honest as he might be; that he suspected
Captain Swales was no better; and that the way the poor emigrants who
had come to Liverpool from all parts to go by the ship were treated, was
most shameful.

He told me that, in the first place, they were attracted there by
advertisements long before the ship was ready for sea, partly that the
ship-brokers might make certain of having the ship filled, and not a
little for the benefit of the inns and lodging-house keepers.  As soon
as they arrived--most of them absurdly ignorant of what was to be done,
and of the necessaries required for the voyage--they were pounced upon
by a set of harpies, who misled them in every possible way, and fleeced
them without mercy.  There existed--and, I am sorry to say, exist to the
present day--a regular gang of these wretches, by profession
lodging-house keepers, ship-chandlers, outfitters, and provision
merchants.  So notorious have they become, that they now go by the name
of the Forty Thieves, for to that number amount the worthy fraternity.

Silas Flint took me round to a number of our intended fellow-voyagers;
and we found them loud in their complaints of the treatment they had
received, though, when he had discovered them, he had been able to
preserve them from much further expense by describing the character of
the country to which they were going, and the things they would most
require.  Among them were a great many of my countrymen.  They were
generally the most forlorn and heartbroken, though they had indeed
little to leave behind; but then the slightest incident would make them
forget their grief, and clap their hands with shouts of laughter.

The sorrow of the English was less loud; but it took much more, I
observed, to make them smile.  They were better dressed, and seemed to
have made more provision for the voyage.  They had also been
proportionably more fleeced by the Forty Thieves.  When so many of our
poor countrymen are leaving our shores annually to lands where they can
procure work and food, we should have a far better supervision and a
more organised system of emigration than now exists.  And again I say to
my young countrymen, when you grow up, make it your business to inquire
into the subject; inquire with your own eyes, remember; do not trust to
what is told you; and if you do not find such a system established,
strive with heart and hand, and weary not till you have established it;
at all events, correct the abuses which too probably by that time will
have sprung up.  You will all have the power of aiding that or any other
good work.  If you are not in influential positions, if you have not
wealth at command, you at least have tongues to speak with, pens to
write with; so talk about it in private, speak in public, write on the
subject, and, depend on it, you will ultimately gain your object.

It was very late in the day when I returned to the office.  Mr Cruden
was about to go away.  He told me, that as I had chosen to be absent at
the dinner hour, I must be content with what I could get; and he pointed
to some musty bread and cheese, and a glass of sour, turbid-looking ale
which stood on the desk.  I was, however, too hungry to refuse it; so I
ate it as soon as he was gone.  An old porter had charge of the
premises, and he now beckoned me to follow him to a sort of loft or
lumber-room over the office, where he had slung a hammock, which he told
me I might sleep in, or I might, if I liked, sleep on the bare boards
outside.  "The hammock's more comfortable than it looks, young 'un, so
I'd advise you to try it," he remarked; and I found his remark true.  As
I was very tired, I was glad to turn in early and forget my sorrows in
sleep.  The next day I fared no better than the first, and all the time
I boarded with Mr Cruden the only variation in my food from bread and
cheese was hard biscuits and very doubtful-looking pork and beef.  When
I told Silas Flint of the treatment I had received, he shrugged his
shoulders.

"Can you mend it?" he asked.

I told him that I could complain.

"To whom?" he said.  "You have no one to complain to--no friend in the
place.  Now let me advise you to do as I do.  When you can't cure a
thing, grin and bear it; but if you see your way out of a fix, then go
tooth and nail at it, and don't let anything stop you till you're clear.
That's my maxim, youngster; but there's no use kicking against the
pricks--it wears out one's shoes, and hurts the feet into the bargain.
Now, soon after I took my passage in this here _Black Swan_, I guessed I
had made a mistake; but what would have been the use of my going to law
about it?  I knowed better.  I should only have sent my last dollar to
look after the many which have gone to prove I was first cousin to a set
of people, who would all rather have heard my father was drowned years
ago than have set eyes on me.  I tell you, Peter, you must grin and bear
it, as you'll have to do many things as you get through life."

I found that my friend practised what he preached; for so completely
were his finances exhausted by his law expenses, that he had to husband
all his resources to enable him to return home.  In board and lodging he
was worse off than I was; and, as he said, he was accustomed to camp out
at night, to save the expense of a bed.  He used to amuse himself in the
day by walking about to look out for a snug place to sleep in at night,
either in the city or its neighbourhood, and he seldom occupied the same
spot two nights running.  He assured me, and I believed him, that it was
far pleasanter than sleeping in the close atmosphere of a crowded room;
and it reminded him faintly of his beloved prairies, on which he had
spent the greater part of his life.  The chief portion of every day, for
a week before the ship was reported ready for sailing, I passed with my
new-found friend; and, as may be supposed, I did not again offer my
valuable services to the mate of the _Black Swan_, nor was any inquiry
made after me by her worthy captain.



CHAPTER FIVE.

At last I was informed by Mr Cruden that I might transfer my chest and
myself on board the _Black Swan_.  Accordingly, the old porter wheeled
the former down to the docks, while I walked by its side.  I gave the
old porter a shilling for his trouble: his eye brightened, and he
blessed me, and muttered something about wishing that I had fallen into
better hands; but he was afraid, apparently, of saying more, and casting
another glance at me, I suspect of commiseration, he tottered off to his
daily avocations.  My chest, which was a very small one, was stowed away
by one of the seamen under a bunk in the forecastle.  I thought that I
was to have a cabin under the poop, and to mess with the captain; but
when I made inquiries, no one could give any information, and the
captain was nowhere to be seen.  Everything on board appeared in the
wildest confusion; and I must own that I got most unaccountably in
everybody's way, and accordingly got kicked out of it without the
slightest ceremony.

Silas had not arrived, so I could not go to him for information.  I
therefore climbed up out of the way, to the boat, placed amidships, on
the top of the booms.  Soon afterwards the emigrants' bag and baggage
began to arrive.  I was amused by observing the odd and mixed collection
of things the poor people brought with them, some of the more bulky
articles of which were not admitted on board.  The Jew harpies were on
the quays ready to snap them up, giving little or nothing in return.  I
thought that it was a great pity that there were no means to enable
these poor people to obtain better information before they left home, to
have saved them the expense of dragging so much useless lumber about
with them.  I pitied them, not because they were going to another land
where they could get food and employment, but for their helpless
ignorance, and the want of any one fit to lead or direct them, as also
for the treatment they were receiving at the hands of the countrymen
they were leaving for ever.

Many of them resented bitterly the impositions practised on them; and I
saw some of them, with significant gestures, take off their shoes and
shake the dust over the ship's side as they stepped on board, while they
gave vent to their feelings in oaths not lowly muttered.  Henceforth,
instead of friends and supporters, they were to be foes to England and
the English--aliens of the country which should have cherished and
protected them, but did not.  Such things were--such things are: when
will they cease to be?  What a strange mixture of people there were,
from all parts of the United Kingdom--aged men and women; young brides
and their husbands; mothers with tribes of children, some with their
infants still unweaned--talking many different dialects, weeping,
laughing, shrieking, and shouting!  At last they got their berths
allotted to them, and they began to stow away their provisions and
baggage between decks.  Some kept going backwards and forwards from the
ship to the shore, and no notice being given, many of them were left
behind when the ship hauled out of dock, and had to come on board in
boats, at a considerable expense, after being well frightened at the
thoughts that we had sailed without them.

We lay out in the stream for another whole day, with the Blue Peter
flying, to show that we were ready for sea, and to summon any passengers
who might yet remain on shore.  Silas Flint was one of the last to come
on board, before we left the dock.  He appeared following a porter, who
wheeled down his chest, containing all his property.  He did not even
give me a look of recognition as he passed me; but he at once plunged
below with his chest, and he studiously avoided coming near me.  This I
thought odd and unkind, nor could I comprehend the cause of this
behaviour.

I was sitting very disconsolate by myself among the emigrants, and
wondering when the captain would come on board, and when I should begin
to learn to be a seaman, when I felt the no pleasing sensation of a
rope's end laid smartly across my shoulders.  I turned quickly round to
resent the indignity, when I encountered the stern glance of the first
mate, Mr Stovin, fixed on me, while the "colt" in his hand showed that
he was the aggressor.  "And so you are the youngster who wanted to make
himself useful, are you?" he exclaimed in a sneering voice.

"I am," I replied; "and I'll thank you in future not to take such
liberties with my back."

He burst into a loud laugh.  "O my young cock-a-hoop, you show fight, do
you?" he exclaimed.  "Well, we'll see what you are made of before long."

"I'm ready to do my duty when you show me the way," I answered in as
calm a voice as I could command; and I believe this reply, and the
having kept my temper, gave him a more favourable opinion of me than he
was before inclined to form, and somewhat softened his savage nature.

"A willing hand will have no want of masters," he observed.  "And mind,
what I tell you to do you'll do as well as you can, and we shan't fall
foul of each other."

I will now describe the _Black Swan_.  She measured nearly eight hundred
tons, was ship-rigged, and had been built many years.  She carried
eighteen hands forward, with two cooks and a steward, besides the
captain, four mates, and a doctor.

There were about four hundred and forty steerage passengers, who, I may
explain, are the poorer classes; and I think there were ten cabin
passengers, who berthed in the cabin and messed with the captain.  The
steerage passengers brought their own provisions, but the captain was
obliged to provide them with water and biscuit, just to keep life in
them; indeed, without it many of them would have died.  It was, I felt,
like severing the last link which bound us to our native shores, when
the pilot left us at the mouth of the Mersey, and with a fair wind we
stood down the Irish Channel.

I cannot say that before I quitted home I had any very definite idea of
the life of a sailor; but I had some notion that his chief occupation
was sitting with his messmates round a can of grog, and singing songs
about his sweetheart: the reality I found was very different.

The first time I had any practical experience of this was when, the
pilot having left us, and the wind having veered round to the
north-east, the captain ordered the ship to be kept away before it.  His
eye happened to fall upon me for the first time, dressed in my sea
toggery, and seated, with my hands in my pockets, on the booms.

"Hillo, Jim--what's-your-name--we'll have none of your idling ways here
if you belong to this ship, as I've a notion you do," he exclaimed.
"Aloft there with you, then, and help furl the mizzen topsail.  Be smart
about it, or I'll freshen your way with a rope's end, and we'll see if
you give me an answer."

By this last observation, I guessed that the mate had told him of the
answer I had given him, and I felt that the wisest thing I could do was
to obey him without making any reply.  What, however, he meant by
"furling the mizzen topsail" I had not the slightest notion; but as I
saw that he pointed to the mizzen-mast, and that several lads and men
were ascending the mizzen rigging, I followed them.  I was a good
climber, so I had no fear of going aloft; and while I was in the top,
luckily one of my new messmates, who was already lying out on the yard,
exclaimed, "Hillo, Peter, lend us a hand here, my lad."  On hearing
this, I immediately threw myself on the yard, and following his
directions I made a very fair furl of it.  I got no praise certainly for
this, but I escaped blame; and I saw by the way the other mizzen-top men
treated me, that they considered me a smart lad, and no flincher.

From that moment I was never idle.  I followed a piece of advice honest
Dick Derrick gave me on this occasion: "Never let go with one hand till
you've got a good gripe with the other; and if you cannot hold on with
your hands, make use of your teeth and legs; and mind, clutch fast till
you've picked out a soft spot to fall on."  Dick Derrick taught me to
hand, furl, and steer, to knot and splice, to make sinnet and spun-yarn,
and the various other parts of a seaman's business.  I was ambitious to
learn; and I found the work, when taught by him, both easy and pleasant.

I was placed in the second mate's watch, and had to keep my watch
regularly.  In this I was fortunate.  William Bell was his name.  He was
a quiet, gentlemanly young man, who always kept his temper, however
roughly spoken to by the captain.  It was through no want of spirit that
he did not reply to the abuse thrown at him, as I afterwards discovered,
but because it was the wisest and most dignified course to pursue.  As I
said before, I expected to mess in the cabin, and to be a sort of
midshipman; but when I went up to the captain and told him so, he
laughed at me, and asked me if I would show him any written agreement on
the subject, for that he knew nothing at all about it.  All he could say
was, that I was entered as a ship's boy; that as such I must be berthed
and messed, and do duty.  If I did not like it, he would see what Mr
Stovin had to say to me.  I saw that there was no help for me; so,
following Silas Flint's advice, I determined to grin and bear it.

We sighted Cape Clear, the south-westernmost point of Ireland.  I longed
to be able to swim on shore and return home.  I did not the less wish to
see the world, but I did not much like the company with whom I was
likely to see it; Mr Stovin and his rope's-ending were not agreeable
companions.  From Cape Clear we took a fresh departure.  A ship is said
to take her departure from a point, the distance and the bearing of the
point being ascertained when her course is marked off from the spot
where she then is.  At four p.m. Cape Clear bore five miles north-east
of us, or rather we were five miles south-west of the Cape.  This spot
was marked on the chart; and the distance run, and the course by
compass, were each day afterwards pricked off in like manner on the
charts.  The distance run is measured by the log, which is hove every
two hours.

The log is a small triangular piece of wood, secured to the end of a
long line, on which divisions are marked, bearing the same proportion to
a mile which a half-minute bears to an hour.  One man holds a
half-minute glass in his hand--another a reel on which the line is
rolled--a third, the mate, takes the log and heaves it overboard,
drawing off the line with his left hand.  Thus, as the log remains
stationary in the water, according to the number of divisions or knots
run off while the sand in the glass is running, will be shown the number
of miles the ship is going in the hour.  Instead of miles, the word
knots is used, evidently from the knots marked on the line.

The mode I have thus briefly described of finding the ship's course is
called "dead reckoning."  This, of course, is liable to errors, as
careless steering, the compasses being out of order, or a current, may
carry her far from her supposed position; at the same time, when the sky
is obscured, it is the only mode of finding the way across the ocean.
It can be correctly ascertained by observation of the sun, moon, and
stars, taken with a sextant and a chronometer; but I shall be led to
give an epitome of the science of navigation if I attempt to explain the
mode of using them.

In shallow waters, where the bottom has been accurately surveyed, a
clever pilot will find his way with the lead.  At the end of the lead a
cavity is made, which is filled with grease; and according to the sort
of mud, sand, or shells which adhere to it, he tells his position.
This, and many other parts of navigation, Mr Bell, during our night
watches, took great pains to explain to me; but it was not till I had
been some time at sea that I comprehended them clearly.

Mr Bell never spoke to me in the day-time; for if the captain saw him,
he was certain to send me to perform some kind of drudgery or other.  I
was set to do all the dirty work in the ship, to black down the rigging,
to grease the masts, etcetera, etcetera; indeed, my hands were always in
the tar-bucket; but it served the useful purpose of teaching me a
seaman's duty, and of accustoming me to work.  The captain and first
mate's abusive language, however, I could not stand; and my feelings
resented it even more than the blows they were continually dealing me.

I have said little about the emigrants.  If my lot was bad, theirs was
much worse.  They were looked upon by the officers as so many sheep or
pigs, and treated with no more consideration.  Crowded together below,
allowed to accumulate filth and dirt of every description, their diet
bad and scanty, and never encouraged to take the air on deck, disease
soon broke out and spread among them.  Old and young, married and single
of both sexes, were mingled indiscriminately together; and the scenes I
witnessed when I was obliged to go below turned me sick with disgust, as
they made my heart bleed with sorrow.

The surgeon had little more knowledge of his profession than I had, and
had not the slightest notion of what ought to be done to stop the
ravages of disease.  He physicked indiscriminately, or bled or starved
his patients, without paying the slightest regard to their ailments.
When they died they were thrown overboard, with scant ceremony; but the
men had the greatest difficulty in tearing the bodies of the Irish from
their friends, or of children from their wretched parents; and it was
heart-rending to listen to the shrieks and howls of grief as this was
attempted to be done.

However, I do not wish to dwell on these scenes, or to discourage
emigration.  I fully believe that by thoroughly cleansing the ship, and
by serving out good provisions, disease might then have been arrested.
The object is to prevent the occurrence of such disorders for the
future, by the introduction of a well-organised system.  In spite of all
obstacles, emigration will go forward; but it depends on every one of
us, whether it will prove a curse or a blessing to those who go forth,
whether the emigrants are to be in future friends or deadly foes to the
country they quit.



CHAPTER SIX.

For ten days we had fine weather and light winds; but a southerly gale
sprang up, and drove us to the northward, and I then found out what it
was to be at sea.  Of course I had to do duty, as before, aloft; and
following Derrick's advice was of service, or one night, while furling
top-sails, and when the ship was pitching tremendously, I should
certainly have been killed.  On a sudden I found myself jerked right off
the yard; but I fortunately had hold of the gasket, which I was passing
through the mizzen top-sail, and by it hauled myself up again and
finished the work.  After the gale had lasted a week, the wind came
round from the northward, and bitter cold it was.  We then stood on
rather farther to the north than the usual track, I believe.

It was night, and blowing fresh.  The sky was overcast, and there was no
moon, so that darkness was on the face of the deep--not total darkness,
it must be understood, for that is seldom known at sea.  I was in the
middle watch, from midnight to four o'clock, and had been on deck about
half-an-hour when the look-out forward sang out, "Ship ahead--
starboard--hard a star-board!"

These words made the second mate, who had the watch, jump into the
weather rigging.  "A ship!" he exclaimed.  "An iceberg it is rather,
and--All hands wear ship," he shouted in a tone which showed there was
not a moment to lose.

The watch sprang to the braces and bowlines, while the rest of the crew
tumbled up from below, and the captain and other officers rushed out of
their cabins: the helm was kept up, and the yards swung round, and the
ships head turned towards the direction whence we had come.  The captain
glanced his eye round, and then ordered the courses to be brailed up,
and the main top-sail to be backed, so as to lay the ship to.  I soon
discovered the cause of these manoeuvres; for before the ship had quite
wore round, I perceived close to us a towering mass with a refulgent
appearance, which the look-out man had taken for the white sails of a
ship, but which proved in reality to be a vast iceberg; and attached to
it and extending a considerable distance to leeward, was a field or very
extensive floe of ice, against which the ship would have run had it not
been discovered in time, and would in all probability instantly have
gone down with every one on board.

In consequence of the extreme darkness it was dangerous to sail either
way, for it was impossible to say what other floes or smaller cakes of
ice might be in the neighbourhood, and we might probably be on them
before they could be seen.  We therefore remained hove to.  As it was, I
could not see the floe till it was pointed out to me by Derrick.

I was on deck, with my eyes trying to pierce the darkness to leeward,
and fancying that I saw another iceberg rising close to the ship, and
that I heard strange shrieks and cries, when I felt a hand placed on my
shoulder: "Well, lad, what do you think of it?" said a voice which I
recognised as that of Silas Flint.

"I would rather be in a latitude where icebergs do not exist," I
replied.  "But how is it, old friend, you seemed to have forgotten me
altogether since we sailed?"  I added.

"It is because I am your friend, lad, that I do not pretend to be one,"
he answered in a low tone.  "I guessed from the first the sort of chap
you've got for a skipper, and that you'd very likely want my aid; so I
kept aloof; the better to be able to afford it without being suspected,
d'ye see?  You lead but a dog's life on board here, Peter, I am afraid."

"It is bad enough, I own," I answered; "but I don't forget your advice
to `grin and bear what can't be cured'; and Mr Bell and some of my
messmates seem inclined to be good-natured."

"Maybe; but you, the son of a gentleman, and, for what I see, a
gentleman yourself, should be better treated," he observed.  "If I was
you, I wouldn't stand it a day longer than I could help."

"I would not if I could help it; but I cannot quit the ship," I
answered.

"But you may when you get to Quebec," he remarked.  "I wouldn't go back
in her on any account, for many a reason.  There's ill luck attends her,
trust to that."  What the ill luck was, my friend did not say, nor how
he had discovered it.

Flint spent the night on deck, and during it he talked a good deal about
America, and the independent wild life he led in the backwoods and
prairies.  The conversation made a considerable impression on my mind,
and I afterwards was constantly asking myself why I should go back in
the _Black Swan_.

When daylight broke the next morning, the dangerous position in which
the ship was placed was seen.  On every side of us appeared large floes
of ice, with several icebergs floating like mountains on a plain among
them; while the only opening through which we could escape was a narrow
passage to the north-east, through which we must have come.  What made
our position the more perilous was, that the vast masses of ice were
approaching nearer and nearer to each other, so that we had not a moment
to lose if we would effect our escape.

As the light increased, we saw, at the distance of three miles to the
westward, another ship in a far worse predicament than we were, inasmuch
as she was completely surrounded by ice, though she still floated in a
sort of basin.  The wind held to the northward, so that we could stand
clear out of the passage should it remain open long enough.  She by this
time had discovered her own perilous condition, as we perceived that she
had hoisted a signal of distress, and we heard the guns she was firing
to call our attention to her; but regard to our own safety compelled us
to disregard them till we had ourselves got clear of the ice.

It was very dreadful to watch the stranger, and to feel that we could
render her no assistance.  All hands were at the braces, ready to trim
the sails should the wind head us; for in that case we should have to
beat out of the channel, which was every instant growing narrower and
narrower.  The captain stood at the weather gangway, conning the ship.
When he saw the ice closing in on us, he ordered every stitch of canvas
the ship could carry to be set on her, in hopes of carrying her out
before this could occur.  It was a chance whether or not we should be
nipped.  However, I was not so much occupied with our own danger as not
to keep an eye on the stranger, and to feel a deep interest in her fate.

I was in the mizzen-top, and as I possessed a spy-glass, I could see
clearly all that occurred.  The water on which she floated was nearly
smooth, though covered with foam, caused by the masses of ice as they
approached each other.  I looked; she had but a few fathoms of water on
either side of her.  As yet she floated unharmed.  The peril was great;
but the direction of the ice might change, and she might yet be free.
Still on it came with terrific force; and I fancied that I could hear
the edges grinding and crushing together.

The ice closed on the ill-fated ship.  She was probably as totally
unprepared to resist its pressure as we were.  At first I thought that
it lifted her bodily up; but it was not so, I suspect.  She was too deep
in the water for that.  Her sides were crushed in--her stout timbers
were rent into a thousand fragments--her tall masts tottered and fell,
though still attached to the hull.  For an instant I concluded that the
ice must have separated, or perhaps the edges broke with the force of
the concussion; for, as I gazed, the wrecked mass of hull and spars and
canvas seemed drawn suddenly downwards with irresistible force, and a
few fragments, which had been hurled by the force of the concussion to a
distance, were all that remained of the hapless vessel.  Not a soul of
her crew could have had time to escape to the ice.

I looked anxiously: not a speck could be seen stirring near the spot.
Such, thought I, may be the fate of the four hundred and forty human
beings on board this ship ere many minutes are over.

I believe that I was the only person on board who witnessed the
catastrophe.  Most of the emigrants were below, and the few who were on
deck were with the crew watching our own progress.

Still narrower grew the passage.  Some of the parts we had passed
through were already closed.  The wind, fortunately, held fair; and
though it contributed to drive the ice faster in on us, it yet favoured
our escape.  The ship flew through the water at a great rate, heeling
over to her ports; but though at times it seemed as if the masts would
go over the sides, still the captain held on.  A minute's delay might
prove our destruction.

Every one held his breath as the width of the passage decreased, though
we had but a short distance more to make good before we should be free.

I must confess that all the time I did not myself feel any sense of
fear.  I thought it was a danger more to be apprehended for others than
for myself.  At length a shout from the deck reached my ears, and
looking round, I saw that we were on the outside of the floe.  We were
just in time, for, the instant after, the ice met, and the passage
through which we had come was completely closed up.  The order was now
given to keep the helm up and to square away the yards; and with a
flowing sheet we ran down the edge of the ice for upwards of three miles
before we were clear of it.

Only then did people begin to inquire what had become of the ship we had
lately seen.  I gave my account, but few expressed any great
commiseration for the fate of those who were lost.  Our captain had had
enough of ice, so he steered a course to get as fast as possible into
more southern latitudes.  This I may consider the first adventure I met
with in my nautical career.



CHAPTER SEVEN.

I was every day improving my knowledge of seamanship, though my
schooling was, it may be supposed, of the roughest kind.

The feelings Captain Elihu Swales exhibited towards me did not grow more
tender; but hitherto I had kept my temper, and had flown to obey his
orders without answering his abuse.  At last, however, one day when the
ship was caught in a heavy squall, we were somewhat slow in reefing the
mizzen topsail; and as we descended on deck he laid a rope's end across
the shoulders of several of us.  I could not stand this; for I and
another of the topmen, generally the smartest, had hurt our hands, and
ought not properly to have gone aloft at all.  "How dare you strike me,
Captain Swales?"  I exclaimed.  "I paid you a sum for my passage, as
also to learn seamanship, and not to be treated as a slave."

It was the first time I had replied to him.  Perhaps speaking increased
the anger I felt, perhaps it was that I saw his eye quail before mine;
but, be that as it may, a handspike lay near, and almost unconsciously I
grasped it, and made as if I would strike him in return.

"A mutiny!" he exclaimed, with an oath.

"A mutiny!--knock down the rascally mutineer."

"A mutiny!" repeated Mr Stovin, the first mate; and suiting the action
to the word, he dealt me a blow on the head with his fist, which sent me
sprawling on the deck.

Several of the crew, as well as the emigrants, who had seen what had
occurred, cried out "Shame, shame!" but they were afraid of interfering,
so that my enemies had it all their own way.

I was forthwith dragged forward by Stovin and two or three of the men,
who made up to him, and lashed down to the foot of the bowsprit, where I
was most exposed to the spray which flew over the ship, and could be
watched from every part.  "You'll cool your temper and your heels there,
my lad, till I let you go," whispered my old enemy in a tone of voice
which showed the vindictive triumph he felt.

For the whole of that day I was kept there, watched by one of the mate's
creatures, so that no one with friendly feelings could come near me.
Some mouldy biscuits and a piece of hard junk were brought to me long
after the dinner hour, and when I was almost too sick with hunger to
eat.  When night drew on, I asked my guard if I was to be released.
"Maybe not till the end of the voyage," was the satisfactory answer.
"They hangs mutineers."

Though I did not for a moment suppose such would be my fate, I yet
bitterly repented having, by giving way to my temper, allowed my enemies
to get an advantage over me.  The wind fell, and there was less sea; but
still the night was a very dreary one to me, and, besides other physical
discomforts, I was half-starved.  There has been seldom, however, a time
when some ray of comfort has not shone from above, or some human
sympathy has not been shown for my sufferings.  It had just gone two
bells in the first watch, when I saw a figure creeping cautiously upon
the forecastle to where I was sitting.  "Hush!" he whispered; and I knew
by the voice it was Silas Flint.  "You've friends who'll help you when
the time comes.  I've been watching an opportunity to bring you
something more fit to eat than the horseflesh and beans I hear you've
had.  Eat it while you can."  Saying this, he put into my hand some
potted meat and fine biscuits, which I found very refreshing.  I must
observe that my hands were only so far at liberty that I could get them
to my mouth, but I could not move them to cast off my lashings.

The brutality to which I was subject is only a specimen of what seamen
are exposed to from ignorant and rude shipmasters.  In my time I have
seen much of such conduct; and though I have known many very excellent
and superior men commanding merchantmen, I have met as many totally
unfit for the post.  This state of things will continue till higher
qualifications are required from them--till they are better educated--
till their social position is raised--till they have more power placed
in their hands; also till the condition of the seamen under them is
improved, and till both parties may feel that their interests are cared
for and protected.  I do not mean to say that I thought thus at the
time.  I felt only very angry, and a strong desire to be in my berth.

After I had eaten the food I became very drowsy, and should have gone to
sleep had I not continually been roused up by the showers of spray which
came flying over me, as the ship, close hauled, ploughed her way through
the waves.  The nights were long in reality, and I thought daylight
would never come.  It was just at the end of the middle watch, and, in
spite of the wet and my uncomfortable position, I had dropped off
asleep, when I was aroused by loud shrieks and cries, and a rush of
people on deck.  The awful words, "Fire! fire! fire!" resounded through
the ship.  Several, in the first paroxysm of alarm, leaped overboard;
and, no one regarding them or attempting to rescue them, they were
drowned.  I was a witness of their fate, but could make no one attend to
me.  The watch below and the officers were instantly on deck; but for
some time nothing was done, and the ship continued her course in
darkness over the deep.

"Silence, fore and aft!" shouted the captain, who believed that it was a
false alarm.  "Those who spread this report deserve to be hove
overboard.  I'll take care to make inquiries about it--in the morning.
What frightens you all so?"

"Fire! fire! fire!" was the answer of others rushing up from below.

For some minutes the shrieks and cries and confusion prevented me from
hearing anything more; nor could the exertions of the officers serve to
maintain order.  At last the captain, who had been incredulous, or
pretended to be so, became convinced that there was some cause for the
alarm, and on going round the lower deck a strong smell of fire was
perceived, and smoke was found to be issuing from the fore-hatchway over
the hold.  No flames were seen, so it was evident that the fire was
among the cargo in the lower hold.  The hatchway was accordingly opened,
and immediately dense volumes of smoke arose, and almost stifled me
where I remained lashed.

When it was discovered that the fire was forward, the ship was hove to,
thus, under the idea that as fire works to windward, to prevent its
being driven so rapidly aft as it would otherwise have been.  Buckets
were now cried for; and the crew, and all the emigrants whose fears had
not mastered their senses, were engaged in filling them with water and
in heaving it down below.  A pump was also rigged and manned, which,
with a hose attached to it, played down the hatchway.

After some time this appeared to have effect; and Mr Bell, who, quiet
as he generally seemed, was now the soul of everything, volunteered to
go down in order to discover the exact position of the fire.  Securing a
rope round his body, while some of the crew on whom he could depend held
on, he boldly threw himself into the midst of the smoke.  Not a quarter
of a minute had passed before he sang out to be hauled up again.  When
he reappeared he was insensible, and it was some time before he
recovered.  They brought him up to the forecastle close to me, and the
first words I heard which he uttered were: "She's all on fire below, and
I doubt if water will put it out."

This was very dreadful; and I began to consider whether I was fated to
be roasted and then drowned, when I saw my friend Silas Flint creeping
cautiously up to me.  "Hillo, Peter, my lad, you seem to take it coolly
enough; but you shan't, if I can help it, be roasted like a lark on a
spit, so I've come to give you a chance for your life.  I did not come
before, not because I had forgotten you, but because I knew that wicked
captain of ours was watching me, and would have prevented me from
setting you at liberty if he could: however, he's enough else, I guess,
to think of just now."

"Thank you, Flint--thank you for your kindness," I answered as he was
cutting the lanyards which confined me.  "Do you think there is any
danger, though?"

"The ship may burn till she's too hot to hold us," he replied
laconically; "and then it is not easy to say where five hundred people
are to find standing-room.  There is danger, Peter; but a stout heart
may face and overcome it."

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

"Get into a boat if I can, or else build a raft and float on that.  I'll
not go down as long as I can find something to keep me up."

Flint's calmness gave me courage; and after that, notwithstanding the
dreadful scenes I witnessed, I did not feel any fear.  As soon as I was
at liberty, I set to work with Flint to make myself useful; and though I
was close to Captain Swales while we were working the pump, he did not
observe me.  An event of the sort I am describing shows people in their
true colours.  While some of the passengers threw off their jackets and
set to with a will, several had cast themselves on the deck, weeping and
groaning among the women; and Flint and one of the mates had actually to
go and kick them up before they would attempt to perform their duty.

It is difficult to describe the horrors of that night, or rather
morning, before the day broke--the ship rolling and pitching on before a
heavy sea (whither she went no one considered, provided she was kept
before the wind)--the suffocating smoke which rose from the depths of
the hold--the cries of despair heard on every side--the scenes of
cowardly fear and intense selfishness which were exhibited.  Still we
floated; but I expected every instant to see the ship plunge
head-foremost down into the depths of the ocean; for I thought the fire
must soon burn a hole through her planks.  I was not aware how long fire
takes to burn downwards.  One of the greatest cowards of the crew, and a
big bully he was, happened to be at the helm when the fire was first
reported; and as soon as the captain and mates went forward to attend to
rigging the pumps, his fears overcame him, and he dastardly deserted his
post.

Fortunately, one of the crew was aft, and went to the helm and kept it
up, or the ship would have broached to, and, before she could have been
put on her course, the sea would have swept over our decks, and the
destruction of all would have been expedited.  At the same time a number
of the passengers made a rush at the larboard-quarter boat, and, while
some got into her, others lowered her down, intending to follow.  Going
fast, as the ship was, through the water, of course she was immediately
swamped, and every soul in her perished.  Three or four of those who
were about to follow, so great was their eagerness, before they
understood what had occurred, leaped where they expected to find her,
and met the fate of the rest.

This was reported to the captain, who at once set a guard over the other
boats.  Indeed, as yet, there was no necessity for any one to quit the
ship.  The boatswain, however, who had charge of the boats, followed by
the fellow who had quitted the wheel, the cook, and one or two others,
soon afterwards collecting some provisions, sails, compasses, tools, and
other things they thought necessary, deliberately lowered her, and
getting into her, veered her astern, where they remained, careless of
what became of the rest of us.  Such was the state of things when the
sun shone forth on the ocean world.

The decks, covered with women and children, and even many men lying
prostrate, looked as if just swept by the shots of an enemy.  Such
countenances, too, of terror, agony, and despair as were exhibited, it
is difficult to describe.  Many had fainted, and some had actually died
through fear, and lay quiet enough.  Others rushed about the decks like
madmen, impeding the exertions of the officers and crew, and crying out
that the ship should be steered to the nearest land, and insisting on
being set on shore immediately.  Had the captain been a man of firmness
and moral courage, to whom his officers and crew had been accustomed to
look up, much of the disorder would have been prevented, and perhaps the
lives of all might have been saved; but they knew him to be a bully and
a coward, and the first impulse of each was to think of his own
individual safety, as they knew he would do of his.  Thus not one
quarter of the necessary exertions were made to save the ship; indeed
Mr Bell and his watch were the only part of the crew who really did any
good.

Most of the cabin passengers, and some of the second and steerage
passengers of the English, at once came forward and offered their
services to work the pumps and to hand down the water-buckets.  The
poorer Irish, on the other hand, would do nothing to help themselves,
but sat shrieking and bewailing their cruel fate till they could shriek
and cry no longer.



CHAPTER EIGHT.

It is my belief that, if proper measures had been taken the moment the
fire was discovered, it might have been extinguished, and if not, its
progress might have been retarded.  The ship had a large quantity of
coals among her cargo, and there is no doubt it originated in it by
spontaneous combustion.  Some said it had been smouldering away ever
since we left Liverpool.  What would have been our sensations had we
known that we had a volcano on board?  When some of the passengers saw
that the object of our exertions was to fill the hold with water, they
began to cry out that the quickest way would be to start the water-tanks
on deck.  The captain, on hearing this, immediately exclaimed that if
they did so they would repent it, for without water they could not live,
and that this was the only fresh water at which they would shortly be
able to get.  On learning their mad design, he should instantly have
placed some of the crew on whom he could depend, with arms in their
hands, to guard the tanks, and with orders to cut down any one who
should attempt to touch the bungs.  Instead, he contented himself with
pointing out the folly of the proceeding.

His words were not heeded; and without any attempt to prevent them,
several of the madmen started the water from the tanks.  "Hurrah!" they
shouted as they performed this feat.  "The fire will now be put out, and
we shall be saved."  The hidden fire laughed at their puny efforts, and
the wreaths of smoke came forth as dense as ever.

A consultation among the officers was now held; and it was their opinion
that we were in as good a position as could be for being fallen in with
by ships crossing the Atlantic, and that therefore we should continue as
we were--hove to.  We all watched with deep anxiety the progressive
increase of the smouldering furnace below us.  Fortunately the flames
did not begin to burst forth.

Dreadful as the day was, it passed more rapidly than I could have
expected.  There was nothing to mark the time; there were no regular
meals, no bells struck, no watches set.  The captain, on seeing the want
of effect produced by the water thrown on the cargo, abandoned all hopes
of saving the ship, and thought only how he might best secure his own
safety.  The stern-boat was, as I have said, towing astern.  I now saw
him go aft, and with the aid of some of the people, to whom he had
spoken privately, he lowered down the starboard-quarter boat, having
first put into her compasses, provisions, and water.  The first mate
meantime baled out the other quarter boat, and in like manner
provisioned and stored her.  Three hands being placed in each, they were
veered astern.  The captain and mate knew that these men would not
desert them, because without their assistance they would be unable to
find their way to any port.

I took my spell at the pumps, and on several occasions the captain
passed me and gave me a scowl, by which I knew that he recognised me,
and probably contemplated leaving me behind in the burning ship; at
least so I thought at the time, and resolved to frustrate his kind
intentions.  The captain next gave orders to the crew to hoist out the
long-boat, as the sea had gone down sufficiently to enable this to be
done without risk.  The long-boat is stowed on the booms amidships, and
it requires tackles to the yard-arms, and considerable exertion, to
launch her.  It was the first time I had ever observed Captain Swales
and Mr Stovin really energetic in their exertions when they were
getting this done; and I very soon found that they had a reason for it,
as they intended to take possession of her for themselves, and those
they most favoured.  She at length was launched and dropped astern; and,
being hauled up under the cabin windows, the ladies and other cabin
passengers were lowered into her.  She was likewise provisioned; and
compasses, charts, sails, and oars were placed in her.

I thought that the captain, as a precautionary measure, wished to place
the passengers in comparative safety; but what was my surprise, to see
him lower himself into the boat, and drop her astern, virtually
abandoning all command of the ship!  This vile example was followed by
Mr Stovin, who took possession of one of the quarter boats.  The
greater part of the crew, and all the steerage and second-class
passengers, still remained in the burning ship, of which Mr Bell now
took the command.  When the people saw the captain deserting them, they
rushed aft, some with piteous cries, exclaiming, "O captain dear, save
us! save us!"  Others cursed him as a traitor for leaving them to their
fate; and I believe, had they known what he was about to do, they would
have torn him in pieces before they would have let him go.  [See Note
1.] He shouted to them in return, that he was not going to desert them,
but that his presence was required in the boat.  I have always held that
the captain should be the last man to quit the deck of his ship; and
every true seaman thinks the same, and would scorn to do otherwise.

"A pretty job, this is," observed Dick Derrick, who was working away at
the pumps close to me.  "We were nearly squeezed to death by the ice a
few days ago, and now it seems we are to be roasted with fire.  Are you
prepared for death, Peter?"

I replied that I would rather live.

"Then the sooner we begin to knock some sort of rafts together, to float
a few of these poor people, the better," he observed.  "I'll just hint
the same to Mr Bell."

I saw him go up to Mr Bell, and, touching his hat, speak earnestly to
him.

"You are right, Derrick," remarked the second mate as he passed me.  "We
must keep the passengers working at the pumps though, to the last, while
the crew build the rafts."

As soon as the plan was conceived, all hands set to work to collect
spars, and to knock away the fittings of the lower deck, the bulkheads,
and the bulwarks.  We thus very soon formed three small rafts, each
capable of supporting thirty or forty people in calm weather--a very
small portion of the poor wretches on board.

Mr Bell urged the crew to continue their exertions, and not to launch
the rafts till the last moment.  "We do not know where the rafts may
drive to; and as we are now in the usual track of ships bound to
America, our signal of distress may be seen, and we may be saved without
more risk," he observed, addressing several who seemed about to launch
one of the rafts.  His words, however, had not much effect; for a few
minutes afterwards their fears overpowered their better judgment, and
one of the rafts was launched overboard.  It was with some difficulty
that it could be kept alongside.  They fitted it with a mast and sail,
and a few casks of provisions, but no water was to be found, except in a
small keg.

While some of the people who intended to embark on it were looking for
more, a fresh puff of smoke forced its way up near the mainmast; and
this so frightened the emigrants, that a general rush was made to get on
the raft.  About thirty were already on it, and so alarmed were they
lest the number crowding on it might capsize it, that, ill-provisioned
as they were, they cut it adrift.  What became of them I know not; for
the night coming on, they were soon lost sight of, and we never saw them
again.  That night was far more dreadful than the first; for, though the
terror of the people was not so loud, their despair was more pitiable.
The remainder of the crew still worked, spell and spell, at the pumps,
but the fire gained upon us.  At length some of the steerage passengers
broke into the cabins, which they rifled of everything on which they
could lay their hands, and unfortunately discovered several cases of
brandy and wine.

Now began the most horrible orgies imaginable.  Men, women, and even
children, became speedily intoxicated, and entirely forgetful of their
fears and awful position.  They were, in fact, like the fiercest
savages, and, like them, danced and shouted and sang, till some of them
fell down in fits on the deck.  In the cabins they found several
muskets, and, taking it into their heads that the crew had been the
cause of the disaster, they set upon Mr Bell and those of us who
remained, and, had we not struggled desperately, would have thrown us
overboard.  They could, fortunately, find no powder and shot, or they
would certainly have killed some of the people in the boats.  We
retreated before them forward and then, aided by Flint, and some of the
more reputable English who had kept sober, we made a rush at them and
wrenched their arms from their grasp.  So infuriated had they become,
that while some of us worked at the pumps and rafts, the rest had to
stand guard and keep them at bay.  Fortunately the wind fell, and the
sea went down with the sun, or it would have been still worse for us.

In one respect the calm was bad, as no ship was likely to come to our
rescue.  One might have passed within a very short distance of us, and
would not have discovered us, as we had no guns on board, nor any
blue-lights or rockets, to make signals.  We had four old rusty muskets,
it is true, but there was scarcely powder enough found to fire them a
dozen times.  For the best part of the night we were employed in
defending our lives from the attacks of the drunken emigrants.  After
being defeated they would return to the cabin to search for more liquor;
and, not finding any, they would again make a rush upon us, declaring
that we knew where it was hid, and that they would have it.  I must do
the crew justice to say, that, with few exceptions, they all kept
sober,--and those under Mr Bell behaved very well.  The second mate's
conduct was above all praise; for, though repeatedly invited by those in
the larboard-quarter boat to come off and to take command of her, he
refused to quit the ship.

At length, when the maddening effects of the spirits had worn off, the
emigrants sank down exhausted on the deck, and, had the fire then
reached where they lay, they would have been burnt, unconscious of their
fate.  We were now left to consider what was next to be done.  Gradually
the fire continued creeping aft, as we could tell by the increasing heat
of the lower deck; and I can scarcely describe the feelings I
experienced as, putting my hand down on the planks, I found them growing
hotter and hotter.  The hatches over the hold were, however, wisely kept
closed, to prevent the flames from bursting forth.  The ship was already
so full of water, that it would have exposed us to the danger of
drowning if we had pumped more into her.  A second day dawned on the
same scene.

We anxiously scanned the horizon in the hopes that a ship might appear
to rescue us, but not a sail was in sight to relieve our anxiety.  As
the people woke up from their slumbers, the general cry was for water;
but no water was to be procured.  They had uselessly squandered what
might have preserved them.  "Water! water!" was repeated by parched
mouths, which were fated never to taste that fluid again.  Some stood
aft, and shouted to the captain, who sat comfortably in the boat astern,
and made gestures at him for water.  Some, in their madness, broke open
the surgeon's dispensary, and rifled it of its contents, swallowing the
drugs indiscriminately.  The effects on them were various, according to
the nature of the drugs.  Some, overcome with opium, fell down speedily
in a state of stupor; others were paralysed, and others died in dreadful
agonies.

Burning thirst drove some mad, and several leaped overboard in their
delirium.  Many died where they lay, on the deck; women and several poor
children quickly sunk for want of water.  No sooner had the breath
departed from the body, than we were obliged to throw them overboard, as
the corpses lay in our way as we hurried about the decks.  I forgot to
mention that there was a Romish priest on board, Father Slattery by
name.  He was a coarse, uneducated man, but the influence he exercised
over the poor people was very great; and I must do him the justice to
say, that in this instance he exercised it for a good purpose, in
endeavouring to calm the fears of his followers, and in affording them
the offices of their religion.  From the moment the danger became
apparent, he went among them confessing them and absolving them from
their sins, and giving them such other consolation as he had to offer;
but this did not seem to have any great effect, for the moment he left
them, they began to howl and shriek as loud as ever.  As to attempting
to help themselves, that seemed far from their thoughts.  Few of them
could be induced to work at the pumps, or to assist in building the
rafts.  Yet, miserable as was their condition, the love of life appeared
stronger in them than in the English.

When the captain dropped astern in the long-boat, there was a general
rush to follow him; and I remember seeing two girls lower themselves
down by ropes over the taffrail, where they hung, their feet in the
water, entreating to be taken in.  "Oh, captain, dear, sure you won't
let us be drowned now!" they exclaimed in piteous accents.  For some
time those in the long-boat were deaf to their entreaties, and I thought
the girls would have lost their hold and have been drowned, for they had
no strength left to haul themselves on board again.  Feeling that their
destruction was inevitable if they were not rescued, I slipped a running
bowline knot over the rope to which one of them was hanging, and then
gliding down, I passed it over her shoulders.  I was up on deck again in
a moment, and hauled her up, though I must own she did not like my
interference.  The other girl let go her hold, and would have been
drowned, had she not been caught as she floated past the boat, when she
was taken in.

But I could scarcely have believed that human nature could become so
depraved, as an instance I witnessed with my own eyes convinced me it
might be.  I saw two Irishmen, who had their wives and families on
board, slip over the ship's side, and drop down towards the boat, with
ropes in their hands.  Little as they deserved it, they were not
prevented from climbing on board; and there they remained, in spite of
the bitter cries of those they had so basely deserted.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Note 1.  I regret to say that the whole account of the burning ship is
perfectly true.  Incredible as it may seem, the fire continued
smouldering for nearly a week before the flames burst forth.



CHAPTER NINE.

The unhappy people were more quiet the second day than during the first;
for they were worn out with fatigue, terror, and hunger.  Our ensign,
reversed, was flying, as a signal of distress, but to little purpose;
for there was no one who could see it to help us.  Two more rafts were
constructed; and the carpenters set to work to raise the gunwales of the
boats, and they also nailed canvas round their sides, so as to be able
to cover them completely in.

Those in the boats appeared very uncomfortable; and certainly they were
much worse off than we were, if it had not been for the uncertainty when
the fire might break forth from beneath our feet.  Every instant I
expected that to take place; and I certainly felt it difficult to say by
what means I should make my escape.

A few jars of fresh water were found in the cabin; and, among other
provisions, a cask of flour, with which the cook instantly set to work
to make bread, and the whole of the day he was engaged in making and in
baking it in the caboose.  This very seasonable supply of wholesome food
kept many on board from dying.

Mr Bell took off, in the dingy, a fair proportion to the boats.  The
people in them begged him to remain, telling him that the ship might
suddenly go down, and that he would be lost; but he replied that he
would not desert her and the people, and he instantly returned.

The day passed away without a sail appearing in sight; and darkness,
with its attendant horrors, again drew on.  Dreadful, indeed, was that
night; but it was very different to the last.  There was then excitement
and activity.  Now there was a calmness--at times almost a total
silence; but it would speedily be broken by the groans of the dying, and
the wails of those who mourned for them.

All attempts to stop the progress of the fire were abandoned as useless.
The officers and crew who remained faithful to their trust, took such
rest watch and watch, as the state of the case would allow; but we were
wet through, and our bed was the hard deck.

Somewhere towards the morning, as I was still asleep, I felt my shoulder
touched, and the voice of Flint whispered in my ear, "Peter, my lad,
rouse up, and come with us.  The ship won't much longer give us any
footing; and it's as well to leave her when we can."

"What do you mean, Flint?"  I asked, in the same low tone.  "You would
not have me quit my shipmates?"

"What I mean is, that some thirty of us--some of the crew and some
emigrants--have resolved to trust ourselves to a raft, rather than to
these burning planks; and that, if we wait till daylight, so many will
be attempting to get on it, that we shall be all lost together.  I don't
ask you to desert your shipmates, Peter; but self-preservation, you
know, is the first law of nature."

I considered a moment before I spoke.  "I am grateful to you, Flint, for
your kindness; but I cannot desert Mr Bell," I replied.  "I don't blame
you, remember, for going; but I am differently situated.  I am in the
second mate's watch--under his command, as it were; and while he sticks
to the ship, so must I."

While I was speaking, I saw a party of people cautiously engaged in
launching the raft.  After no slight exertions, they succeeded in
getting into the water, though the noise they made disturbed a number of
the emigrants.

"I understand your motive, my lad, and I suppose you are right," replied
Flint.  "I wish you could come with us; and I am half inclined to stay
by you--that I am."

"I should be very unhappy if you were the sufferer in consequence of so
doing," I answered; "so pray go, if you think the raft affords the
greatest safety."

"No, lad, I care little for my own safety; but I promised these people
to go with them, and to act as their captain.  I did so, thinking you
would be certain to go too."

I again assured him that nothing would induce me to desert Mr Bell.
So, expressing his sorrow, he shook me warmly by the hand, and slid down
the side of the ship on to the raft.  I assisted in casting it off,
before the rest of the emigrants, who were awake, discovered what they
were about, or else they would senselessly, as before, have attempted to
get on it, to the almost certain destruction of them all.  Flint and his
companions hurriedly shoved off, and then hoisted their sail.  I watched
the raft as long as it could be seen, standing directly before the wind
to the northward; and I remember at the time my heart misgave me, and I
feared that I should never again see my kind but eccentric friend.  If a
sea should get up, I thought they in all probability would be drowned.
I felt very grateful, also, that I had decided to remain.  However, I
was too weary to think much about any subject, and I was very shortly
again fast asleep on the deck.

As suffering and misery will, after a time, come to an end, and it would
be well if we could always remember this when we ourselves are in that
condition, so did this night of dark horror, and another morning dawned
on the burning wreck.  Clouds, streaked with bright red edges, were
gathering on the eastern horizon, as I went aloft to look out for a
sail, though with little expectation of seeing one.  I had just reached
the main-topgallant-mast head, and was sweeping my eyes round the
horizon, when I saw, just under the brightest part of the glow caused by
the rising sun, a dark spot, which I thought must be the topsail of some
square-rigged craft.  I looked again; I felt that I could not be
mistaken.  I shouted out the joyful intelligence--

"Sail ho!--ho!--over the larboard quarter."

Instantly the second mate, followed by several others, who had strength
remaining, ran aloft to ascertain the fact.  They also all clearly saw
the ship.  The people in the boats understood what we were pointing at,
and a feeble shout, indicative of their joy, rose from all hands.  The
question now was, which way she was steering.  If to the westward, we
had a good chance of being seen by her; but if not, she might pass us by
unheeded.  This uncertainty was, perhaps, still more painful to endure
than our previous hopelessness.

While we were watching the stranger, the clouds gathered thicker in the
sky, and the sea began perceptibly to get up, though as yet there was no
increase of wind.  "I don't altogether like the look of things,"
observed Derrick to me.  "The sea getting up before the wind comes is a
pretty sure sign of a heavy gale; and if it does come on to blow, Lord
help us, my boy!"

"Amen," said a deep voice near us, which startled me.  It seemed not
like that of a mortal; it was, however, that of Father Slattery, who was
at that instant passing us.  "And so, my son, you think there is more
danger than before?" he asked.

"If it comes on to blow, and keeps blowing with a heavy sea, I say it
will be no easy matter to carry women and children from one ship to
another, even if that sail yonder should come any way nigh us; that's
what I say, your honour," answered Derrick.

"I understand you, my son," said the priest; "we'll be in a worse
position with regard to affairs temporal than we are at present."

"Yes, your honour; it looks brewing up for a regular tempest, as you
say, and no mistake," observed Derrick.

Even while they were talking, we heard the wind whistle in the rigging,
and the ship began to surge heavily through the rising waves.

The people in the boats at this were evidently alarmed, and one of the
gigs hauled alongside, several persons in her preferring to trust
themselves to the burning ship rather than to her.  I must remark that a
feeling almost of security had come over many of us, and that for my
part I could not help fancying that it was nothing unusual to live on
board a ship full of fire.  Of course I knew that some time or other the
flames must burst forth; but I looked upon this event as likely to
happen only in some remote period, with which I had little to do.  Our
sufferings were greatest from want of water, and on that account we were
most anxious for the coming of the stranger.  Mr Bell, Derrick, and I
were again aloft looking out for the ship.  The captain hauled up under
the stern, and hailed to know which way we made her out to be still
standing.  "Right down for us, sir," answered the mate.  "She's a
barque, and seems to be coming up with a strong breeze."

It is difficult to describe how anxiously we watched for her.  On she
came for perhaps half-an-hour, though to us it seemed much longer, when
suddenly we saw her, to our dismay, haul her wind and stand away to the
north-east.  I felt almost as if I should fall from aloft, as our hopes
of being rescued were thus cruelly blasted.  Few of the emigrants
understood the change, but the seamen did, and gave way to their
feelings in abuse of the stranger, who could not probably have seen our
signal of distress.  With heavy hearts we descended to the smoking deck.

The wretched emigrants, on discovering the state of the case, gave fresh
vent to their despair; some, who had hitherto held up more manfully than
the rest, lay down without hope, and others actually yielded up their
spirits to the hands of death.  Meantime the sea increased, clouds
covered the sky, and it came on to blow harder and harder.  I had
returned aloft, when, to my delight, I saw the stranger again bear away
and stand for us.  I shouted out the joyful information, and once more
the drooping spirits of my companions in misfortune were aroused.  The
sound of a gun was heard booming along the waters.  It was a sign from
her that she saw our signal of distress.  Now she crowded all the sail
she could venture to carry in the increasing breeze.  Her captain was
evidently a humane man anxious to relieve his fellow-creatures, though
he could scarcely have guessed at our frightful condition.  There was no
mistake now, and on she came, and proved to be a large barque, as Mr
Bell had supposed.

"We have a good chance of escaping a roasting this time," I observed to
Derrick, as we watched the stranger.

"But not quite of drowning, lad," he answered.  "Before one quarter of
the people about us can placed on her deck, the gale will be upon us,
and then as I said before, how are we the better for her being near us?
Howsomdever, we'll do our best, lad; and if the old ship goes down, mind
you look out for a plank to stick to, and don't let any one gripe hold
of your legs."

I promised to do my best; but I confess I did not like the prospect he
held out.

The barque approached and hove to.  A shout of joy escaped from the lips
of most of those on board, who had still strength to utter it.  On this,
immediately Captain Swales cast off his boat, his example being followed
by the others; and without attempting to take any of the people out of
the ship, he pulled on board the stranger.  There was little time to
lose; for scarcely had they got alongside than down came the gale upon
us.

In the condition our ship was, the only course was to run before the
wind; so we once again kept away.  The stranger soon followed; and as
she carried more sail than we could, we saw she would soon pass us.
Hope once more deserted us; for it was possible that the master, finding
that there were so many of us on board, might think himself justified,
for the safety of his own people, to leave us to our fate.  I confess
that on this I regretted that I had not gone off with Silas Flint on the
raft; but then I remembered that I had done my duty in sticking to my
ship to the last.  It seemed dreadful, indeed, to be thus left to
perish.  However, just as the stranger was about to pass us, a man in
the rigging held up a board on which was written the cheering words, "We
will keep near you, and take you off when the weather moderates."

Suppose, I thought, the weather does not moderate till the flames burst
forth, at any moment they may break through the deck!

I am afraid of wearying my readers with an account of our sufferings.

Our greatest want was water.  We fancied that, if we could have had a
few drops to cool our lips, we could have borne anything else.  Some
drank salt water, against the warning of the mate, and in consequence
increased their sufferings.

Worn out with fatigue, the crew every hour grew weaker, so that there
was scarcely a man left with strength to steer, much more to go aloft.
Night came on to increase our difficulties.  The stranger proved to be
the _Mary_, bound from Bristol also to Quebec.  She at first kept a
short distance ahead, showing a light over her stern by which we might
steer.

I ought to have said that the captain had taken the sextant,
chronometer, and charts with him, and that in their mad outbreak the
emigrants had destroyed the binnacle and the compasses in it, so that we
had the _Mary's_ light alone to depend on.  Mr Bell had divided those
who remained of the crew, and some of the emigrants willing to exert
themselves, into two watches.

I was to keep the middle watch.  I lay down on the deck aft to sleep on
one of the only few dry or clean spots I could find.  I was roused up at
midnight, and just as I had got on my feet, I heard a voice sing out,
"Where's the _Mary's_ light?"  I ran forward.  It was nowhere to be
seen.



CHAPTER TEN.

Fortunately a star had appeared in a break of the clouds, and by that we
continued steering the same course as before.  Once more we were alone
on the world of waters, and in a worse condition than ever; for we had
now no boats, and the sea was too high to permit us to hope for safety
on a raft.  Weary and sad were the hours till dawn returned.  Often did
I wish that I had followed my father's counsels, and could have remained
at home.  With aching eyes, as the pale light of the dull grey morning
appeared, we looked out ahead for the _Mary_.  Not a sail was to be seen
from the deck.  The lead-coloured ocean, heaving with foam-topped waves,
was around us bounded by the horizon.  On flew our burning ship before
the gale, and we would have set more sail to try and overtake the
_Mary_, but we had not strength for it.  We steered as near as we could
the same course as before.

The ship plunged heavily; and as she tore her way through the waves, she
rolled her yardarms almost into the water, so that it was difficult to
keep the deck without holding on.  Nearly at every roll the sea came
washing over the deck, and sweeping everything away into the scuppers.
One might have supposed that the water would have put out the fire, but
it had no effect on it; and it was evident that the coals in the hold
were ignited, and that they would go on burning till the ship was under
the waves.  I had sunk into a sort of stupor, when I heard Mr Bell from
aloft hail the deck.  I looked up and tried to comprehend what he was
saying.  It was the joyful intelligence that the _Mary_ was ahead, lying
to for us; but I was too much worn out to care much about the matter.
We again came up with her; but though the wind had somewhat fallen, the
sea was too high to allow a boat to carry us off the wreck.

We acquitted the kind master of the _Mary_ of any intention of deserting
us.  The officer of the watch had fancied that he saw us following, and
had not, consequently, shortened sail.  Oh that day of horrors, and the
still more dreadful night which followed!  The fire was gaining on us:
every part of the deck was hot, and thick choking smoke issued from
numberless crevices.  With dismay, too, we saw the boats on which our
safety so much depended dragged to pieces, as they towed astern of the
_Mary_, as they could not be hoisted on board, and their wrecks were cut
adrift.  Even the crew, who, more inured to hardships, kept up their
spirits the best, could but arouse themselves to take a short trick at
the helm.  What would we have given, I repeat, for a drop of water!  A
thousand guineas would willingly have been exchanged for it.  The value
of riches, and all else for which men toil and toil on while health and
strength remain, were becoming as nothing in our sight.  One thing alone
called any of us to exertion.  It was when some wretch, happier,
perhaps, than we were, breathed his last, and the shrieks and wails of
his relations or friends summoned us to commit his body to the
ocean-grave, yawning to receive us all, the living as well as the dead.
I must pass over that night.  It was far more full of horrors than the
last, except that the _Mary_, our only ark of safety, was still in
sight.

Another dawn came.  The gale began to lull.  I was near Derrick.  I
asked him if he thought we had a chance of escape.  He lifted his weary
head above the bulwarks.  "I scarce know, lad," he replied.  "The wind
may be falling, or it may be gathering strength for a harder blow.  It
matters little, I guess, to most of us."  And he again sunk down wearily
on the deck.  How anxiously we listened to the wind in the rigging!
Again it breezed up.  A loud clap was heard.  I thought one of the masts
had gone by the board; but it was the fore-topsail blown to ribbons.
What next might follow we could not tell.  The very masts began to
shake; and it was evident that the fire had begun to burn their heels.
Their working loosened the deck, and allowed more vent for the escape of
smoke.  There was again a lull.  The foam no longer flew from the
white-crested waves; gradually they subsided in height.  The motion of
the ship was less violent, though she still rolled heavily, as if unable
to steady herself.

We at length began to hope that the final effort of the gale was made.
The day wore on--more persons died--the smoke grew thicker, and was seen
streaming forth from the cabin windows.  Towards evening there was a
decided change for the better in the weather, and we saw the people in
the _Mary_ making preparations to lower a boat, and to heave the ship
to.  Another difficulty arose: to enable the boat to come on board, we
must likewise stop the way of our ship, but we had not strength to heave
her to.

We were too far gone to feel even satisfaction as we saw a boat pulling
from the _Mary_ towards us.  We put down the helm as she came near us,
and the ship rounded to.  The fresh crew scrambled on board, and,
backing our main-topsail, our ship remained steady, a short distance to
leeward of the _Mary_.  A few of the emigrants were lowered into the
boat; some of the crew remained to take care of us, and the remainder
returned on board in safety.  This experiment having been successful,
another boat was lowered, and more of our people taken off.  They
brought us also a keg of water; and so eager were we for it, that we
could scarcely refrain from snatching it from each other, and spilling
the contents.  It occupied a long time to transfer the emigrants from
one ship to the other.  They were so utterly unable to help themselves,
that they had to be lowered like bales of goods into the boats, and even
the seamen were scarcely more active.

It was thus dark before all the emigrants were rescued; and, what was
worse, the wind again got up, as did the sea, and prevented any
communication between the ships.  In one respect during that night the
condition of those who remained was improved; for we had water to quench
our burning thirst, and food to quell our hunger; besides which, a
boat's crew of seamen belonging to the _Mary_ gallantly remained by us
and navigated the ship, so that we were able to take a sounder rest than
we had enjoyed for many days past.  Still the flames did not burst
forth, and another night and day we continued in that floating furnace.
Towards the evening the wind suddenly dropped; and, while the remaining
emigrants were being taken off the wreck, it fell a dead calm.

The last man to leave the deck of the _Black Swan_ was Mr Bell.  He
made me and Derrick go down the ship's side just before him.  I trust
that we felt grateful to Heaven for our deliverance.  Scarcely had we
left the deck of the _Black Swan_ than the flames burst forth from her
hold.  They first appeared streaming out of the cabin windows, curling
upwards round the taffrail.  By this time it was quite dark; and the
bright light from the burning wreck cast a ruddy glow on the sails and
hull of the _Mary_, and topped the far surrounding waves with a bright
tinge of the same hue.  Soon the whole poop was on fire, and the
triumphant flames began to climb up the mizzen-mast.  As the ship lay
head to wind, their progress was slow forward, nor did they ascend very
rapidly; consequently the mizzen-mast fell before the main-mast was on
fire.  That shortly, however, followed with a loud crash before they
even reached the main-topgallant-yard.  Next down came the fore-mast,
and the whole hull was a mass of flame.  I felt sick at heart as I saw
the noble ship thus for ever lost to the use of man.  The fire was still
raging when, overcome with fatigue and sickness, I sunk on the deck.  As
the _Mary_ sailed away from her, she was seen like a beacon blazing
fiercely in mid-ocean.  Long those on deck gazed till the speck of
bright light was on a sudden lost to view, and the glow in the sky
overhead disappeared.  It was when her charred fragments sunk beneath
the wave.



CHAPTER ELEVEN.

We were kindly welcomed and cared for on board the _Mary_, though we
subjected her passengers and crew to much inconvenience, and to no
little risk of starving, should her voyage be prolonged.

There were ladies who attended with gentle care to the women and
children, and aided also in nursing the men.  Many of the passengers and
crew gave up their berths to the sick; but the greater number of our
people were compelled to remain on deck, sheltered, however, by every
means the kindness of our hosts could devise.  There was one fair,
blue-eyed girl--can I ever forget her?  What a pure, light-hearted young
creature she was!  I felt at once that I could place the same confidence
in her that I could in my own sisters, and that she was a being superior
both to me and to any of those by whom I had been lately surrounded.
Her name was Mary Dean.  She was the daughter of the master of the
_Mary_, and the ship was named after her.  Mr Bell told the master of
my behaviour, which he was pleased to praise, and of my refusing to quit
the ship till he did; and Mary heard the tale.  The mate also told him
that I was the son of a gentleman, and how I had been treated by Captain
Swales.

Captain Dean was a very different character to Captain Swales, with
whose conduct he was so thoroughly disgusted, that he refused to hold
any further communication with him than business actually required.  I
had held out till I was in safety, and a severe attack of illness then
came on.  Captain Dean had me removed to a berth in his own cabin, and
Mary became my nurse.  Where there is sickness and misery, there will
the ministering hand of gentle woman be found.  Mary Dean watched over
me as the ship which bore us steered her course for the mouth of the
Saint Lawrence.  To her gentle care, under Providence, I owed my life.
Several of the emigrants died after they came on board the _Mary_, and
such would probably have been my fate under less watchful treatment.

I was in a low fever and unconscious.  How long I remained so, I
scarcely know.  I awoke one afternoon, and found Mary Dean sitting by my
side working with her needle.  I fancied that I was dead, and that she
was an angel watching over me.  Although I discovered that the first
part of the notion was a hallucination, I was every day more convinced
of the truth of the second.  When I got rather better, she used to read
to me interesting and instructive works; and every morning she read some
portion of the Bible, and explained it to me in a manner which made me
comprehend it better than I had ever done before.

Ten days thus passed rapidly away before I was able to go on deck.
Captain Dean was very kind to me, and often came and spoke to me, and
gave me much useful instruction in seamanship, and also in navigation.
I then thought Mary Dean very beautiful, and I now know that she was so.
She was a child, it must be remembered, or little more than one; but
though very small, she was very graceful.  She was beautifully fair,
with blue, truthful eyes, in which it was impossible guile could ever
find a dwelling-place.  I have no doubt that my readers will picture her
to themselves as she sat in the cabin with a book on her lap, gravely
conning its contents, or skipped along the deck, a being of light and
life, the fair spirit of the summer sea.  Such was Mary Dean as I first
saw her.  Every one loved her.  Her father's heart was wrapped up in
her.  His crew would, to a man, have died rather than that harm should
have happened to her.  On sailed the ship.  There was much sickness, for
all hands were put on the smallest allowance of water and provisions it
was possible to subsist on; and we, unfortunately, fell in with no other
ship able to furnish us with a supply.

At length the welcome sound was heard of "Land ahead!"  It was Cape
Breton, at the entrance of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.  Rounding the
cape, we stood towards the mouth of the river Saint Lawrence, that vast
stream, fed by those inland seas the lakes of Upper Canada, and
innumerable rivers and streams.  On the north side of the gulf is the
large island of Newfoundland, celebrated for its cod fisheries.  A
glance at the map will show our course far better than any description
of mine.  I could scarcely believe that we were actually in the river
when we had already proceeded a hundred miles up it, so distant were the
opposite shores, and, till told of it, I fancied that we were still in
the open sea.  I was much struck with the grand spectacle which Quebec
and its environs presented, as, the ship emerging from the narrow
channel of the river formed by the island of Orleans, the city first met
my view.  It is at this point that the Saint Lawrence, taking a sudden
turn, expands, so as to assume the appearance of a broad lake.

The sun had just risen, and all nature looked fresh and green, rejoicing
in the genial warmth of a Canadian spring.  On the left was the town,
the bright tin steeples and housetops of which, crowning the summit of
Cape Diamond, glittered in the rays of the glorious luminary.  Ships of
all rigs and sizes lay close under the cliffs, and from their diminutive
appearance I calculated the great height of the promontory.  About eight
miles off, on the right, I could see the falls of Montmorency,
descending in a sheet of milk-white foam over a lofty precipitous bank
into the stream, which, winding through a plain interspersed with
villages and studded with vegetation, finds its way into the Saint
Lawrence.  Quebec is divided into two distinct parts.

The lower town, occupies a narrow strip of land between the precipitous
heights of Cape Diamond and the river.  It is connected with the upper
town by means of a steep street, built in a ravine, which is commanded
by the guns of a strongly fortified gateway.

The lower town is principally inhabited by merchants; and so much
straitened are they for room, that many of their houses are built upon
wharfs, and other artificial ground.  The streets of Quebec are very
narrow, and there is a general appearance of antiquity, not often to be
met with in an American town.  The suburbs are situated on the shores of
the Saint Charles, without the fortifications.  But I afterwards found
that the most magnificent prospect was from the summit of the Citadel on
Cape Diamond, whence one may look over the celebrated Plains of Abraham,
on which the gallant Wolfe gained the victory which gave Canada to
England, and where, fighting nobly, he fell in the hour of triumph.  But
my object is rather to describe a few of the events of my early days
than the scenes I visited.  It was a happy moment when we at length
dropped our anchor, and water was brought off to quench the thirst from
which all had more or less suffered.  As soon as the necessary forms
were gone through, the emigrants went on shore, and, with few
exceptions, I saw them no more.

I was the only person on board who regretted that the voyage was over.
I wished to see the country, and the Indians, and the vast lakes and
boundless prairies; but far rather would I have remained with Mary and
her father--at least I thought so, as the time for quitting them,
probably for ever, arrived.  I regretted much leaving Captain Dean, for
he had been very kind to me; indeed, he had treated me almost like a
son, and I felt grateful to him.  It was evening.  The ship was to haul
in the next morning alongside the quay to discharge her cargo.  The
captain was on shore and all the emigrants.  Except the anchor-watch on
deck, the crew were below.  Mary and I were the only persons on the
quarter-deck.

"Mary," I said, as I took her hand--the words almost choked me while I
spoke--"to-morrow I must leave you to look out for a berth on board some
homeward-bound ship.  You have been very, very kind to me, Mary; and I
am grateful, I am indeed, to you and to your father."

"But I do not see why you should leave us, Peter," answered Mary,
looking gravely up with a somewhat surprised air.  "Has not my father
told you that he thinks of asking you to remain with him?  And then,
some day, when you know more of seamanship, you will become his mate.
Think of that, Peter, how pleasant it will be!  So you must not think of
leaving us."

"I have no wish to go, I can assure you, except that I am expected at
home," I replied.  "But if I stay, what office are you to hold on board,
Mary?"  I could not help asking.

"Oh, I suppose that I shall be another of the mates," she replied,
laughing.  "Do you know, Peter, that if I have you to study with, I
think that I shall make a very good sailor in a short time.  I can put
the ship about now in a very good style, let me tell you."

"That's more than I can do, I am afraid," I observed.  "But then I can
go aloft, and hand and reef; so there I beat you."

"I should not be a bit afraid of going aloft, if I was dressed like you,
and papa would let me," she answered naively.  "I often envy the men as
I see them lying out on the yards or at the mast-head when the ship is
rolling and pitching; and I fancy that next to the sensations of a bird
on the wing, theirs must be the most enjoyable."

"You are a true sailor's daughter, Mary," I answered, with more
enthusiasm than I had ever before felt.  "But I don't think your father
would quite like to see you aloft; and, let me tell you, when there's
much sea on, and it's blowing hard, it's much more difficult to keep
there than it looks."

Thus we talked on, and touched on other topics; but they chiefly had
references to ourselves.  Nearly the last words Mary uttered were, "Then
you will sail with father, if he asks you, Peter?"

I promised, and afterwards added, "For the sake of sailing with him,
Mary, my dear young sister, if you are on board, I would give up
kindred, home, and country.  I would sail with you round and round the
world, and never wish again to see the shore, except you were there."
She was satisfied at having gained her point.  We were very young, and
little knew the dangerous sea on which we were proposing to sail.  I
called her sister, for I felt as if she were indeed my sister.



CHAPTER TWELVE.

The next morning the _Mary_ commenced discharging her cargo.  Captain
Dean then told me that he hoped I would sail with him, but that, as the
ship required a thorough repair, it would be some weeks before she could
be at sea again, and that in the meantime he would advise me to employ
myself usefully; and he recommended me to take a trip in a trader to
Halifax or Saint John's, for the sake of gaining information regarding
the navigation of those seas.

"A person who wishes to be a thorough sailor (and if a man is not a
thorough sailor he has no business to be an officer)," he observed,
"will seek every opportunity of making himself well acquainted with the
navigation of every sea he visits, the appearance of the coasts, the set
of the currents, the rise and fall of the tides, the prevailing winds,
and the weather to be expected at different seasons.  He will go afloat
in every sort of craft, and be constantly considering how he would act
under all possible circumstances.  He should never weary of making
inquiries of other seamen how they have acted, and the result of what
they have done.  As navigation was not brought to the perfection it has
now attained under many centuries, so no man will become a perfect
seaman unless he diligently gathers together the information possessed
by all whom he meets, at the same time weighing well their opinions, and
adopting them after duly comparing them with others."

I have always remembered Captain Dean's advice, and I advise all young
sailors to follow it; indeed, it strikes me that it is applicable to
most relations in life.

I looked about for a vessel, but could not find one.  Meantime, by the
captain's kindness, I remained on board, though he and Mary went to live
in lodgings on shore, as, of course, in the state the ship was in, she
could have no comfort even in her own cabin.  About three or four days
after our arrival, I saw a ship ascend the river and come to an anchor
not far from where we were lying.  Prompted by curiosity, I was looking
at her through a telescope, when I observed a group of people on the
deck who were gazing apparently with the curiosity of strangers at the
shore.  A little apart from them stood a form I thought I recognised.  I
pointed my glass steadily at him.  I felt certain that I could not be
mistaken.  It was Silas Flint.  Then all on the raft, instead of
perishing, as it was supposed they would, might have been saved, as he
had escaped.  I was truly glad, and, borrowing the dinghy from the mate,
I pulled on board the newly-arrived ship.

Silas--for I was right in my conjectures--was looking over the side as I
climbed up it.  He almost wrung my hand off as he took it in his grasp.
"I am glad to see ye, I am, Peter!" he exclaimed.  "Why, lad, I thought
you had gone to the bottom with all who remained on board."

I told him that we had in like manner fancied that all on the raft had
perished; and I was glad to find that, with the exception of two, all
had been picked up by the ship on board of which they then were.  He
then asked me what my plans were, and I told him what Captain Dean
advised.  He next inquired if I had seen Captain Swales.  I replied that
I had met him twice in the streets of Quebec, and that he had eyed me
with no very friendly glance.

"Then depend on it, Peter, he means you some mischief," he observed.
"If he gets another ship here, which is likely enough he will, he will
want hands; and if he can lay hold of you, he will claim you as put
under his charge by your father; and I don't know how you are to get
off."

"By keeping out of his way, I should think," I replied.

"That's just what I was going to advise you to do, Peter," observed
Silas.  "And I'll tell you what, lad, instead of your kicking your heels
doing nothing in this place, you and I will start off up the country
with our guns as soon as I have done my business here, which won't take
long, and we'll see if we can't pick up a few skins which will be worth
something."

This proposition, as may be supposed, was much to my taste; but I did
not much like the thoughts of leaving Captain Dean and Mary, though I
did not tell him so.  He, however, very soon discovered what was running
in my mind, and set himself to work to overcome the wish I had to remain
with them.  I had found so few friends of late, that I had learned to
value them properly.  But Silas Flint wanted a companion, and, liking
me, was resolved that I should accompany him.  We went on shore
together; and before the day was over, he had so worked up my
imagination by his descriptions of the sport and scenery of the
backwoods, that I became most eager to set off.

I next day told Captain Dean; and as I assured him that it was my
father's wish that I should see something of the country, he did not
oppose the plan, provided I should return in time to sail with him.
This I promised to do; and I then went below to tell Mary, who was in
the cabin packing up some things to take on shore.  To my surprise, she
burst into tears when I gave her the information; and this very nearly
made me abandon my project.  When, however, I told her of my promise to
return, she was comforted; and I added, that I would bring her back
plenty of skins to make her tippets and muffs for the winter, to last
her for years.

Three days after his arrival at Quebec, Flint was ready to set out.  I
had preserved intact the money my kind father had given me, and with it
I purchased, at Flint's suggestion, a rifle, and powder, and a
shot-belt, a tinder-box, a pipe, some tobacco, a tin cup, and a few
other small articles.  "Now you've laid in your stock in trade, my lad,"
he observed, as he announced my outfit to be complete.  "With a quick
eye and a steady hand you've the means, by my help, of making your
fortune; so the sooner we camp out and begin the better."

I told him I was ready, and asked him where we were to go.

"Oh, never you mind that, lad," he replied.  "It's a long way from here;
but a man, with his eyes open, can always find his way there and back.
All you've to do is to follow the setting sun going, and to look out for
him rising when coming back."

"Then I suppose you mean to go to the westward?"  I observed.

"Ay, lad, to the far west," he answered; but I confess that at the time
I had no idea how far off that "far west" was.

We set off the next morning by a steamer to Montreal, and on from
thence, past Kingston, to Toronto on Lake Ontario, in Upper Canada.
Flint lent me money to pay my way.  He said that I should soon be able
to reimburse him.  I need not say how delighted I was with the fine
scenery and the superb inland seas on which I floated.  I could scarcely
persuade myself that I was not on the ocean, till I tasted the water
alongside.  Flint told me with a chuckle, that once upon a time the
English Government sent some ships of war in frame out to the lakes, and
also a supply of water-tanks, forgetting that they would have a very
ample one outside.  A little forethought would have saved the ridicule
they gained for this mistake, and the expense to which they put the
country.  As my intention is to describe my adventures afloat rather
than those on shore, I shall be very brief with my account of the life
we led in the backwoods.

From Toronto we crossed the country to Goodrich, a town on the shores of
Lake Huron.  Here we took a passage in a sailing vessel, trading to the
factories on the northern shore of the lake, and at the nearest we
landed and prepared for our expedition.  Flint observed, that as we were
short of funds, we must proceed on an economical principle.  He
therefore purchased only a small though strong pony, to carry our
provisions and the skins of the animals we might kill, while we were to
proceed humbly on foot.

We were now in a land teeming with every description of game; and I was
able to prove to Flint that I was not a worse shot than I had sometimes
boasted to him of being.  The weather was generally fine, so that a bark
hut afforded us ample shelter at night, and our rifles gave us as much
food as we could require.  Our greatest enemies were mosquitoes and
other flies, and it was only by smearing our faces over with fat that we
could free ourselves from their attacks.

We constantly encountered the Indian inhabitants of that territory; but
they were invariably friendly, and willing to trade with us.  Silas
understood their language a little, so that with the aid of signs we
could carry on sufficient conversation for our purpose.  Six weeks thus
passed rapidly away, and I calculated that it would be time for me to
return to Quebec; so I told Silas I must wish him good-bye.  He seemed
very much vexed at this; for I believe that he both liked my society,
and found me very useful to him.  He had, indeed, formed the intention
of keeping me by him, and converting me into a regular trapper and
hunter; but, fond as I was of sport, for this I had no fancy, and I
therefore persisted in my purpose of returning.  Seeing that he could
not prevail on me to remain, he accompanied me back to the fort, where
he made over to me my fair share of the skins.

After the delay of a week, I found a vessel returning to the lower
lakes, and in her I set sail for Quebec.  My readers must excuse me for
being thus brief in my description of my doings on shore; but it must be
remembered that I am writing an account of my sea adventures, and I must
defer the former to another opportunity.



CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

At length I reached Quebec, and hurried to the quay, where I had left
the _Mary_.  She was not there.  I hastened to the dockyard where she
was to be repaired; I made inquiries for her of everybody I met.  "What,
the _Mary_, Captain Dean?" replied a shipwright to whom I spoke; "why,
she sailed three weeks ago and better, for the West Indies, or some of
them ports to the southward--she's pretty well there by this time."

I felt that he was speaking the truth, and my heart sunk within me; but
to make sure, I ran on to the house at which Captain Dean and Mary had
lodged.  The woman, who was a French Canadian, received me very kindly,
and seemed to enter into my feelings when she corroborated the account I
had heard.  She did not know exactly where the ship had gone; but she
said that my friends were very sorry when I did not come back at the
time appointed.  At last Monsieur the captain grew angry, and said he
was afraid I was an idle fellow, and preferred the vagabond life of a
hunter to the hardier though nobler work of a seaman; but "_ma pauvre
petite_," as she called Mary, took my part, and said she was certain
some accident had happened to me, or I should have been back when I
promised.  "Sweet Mary, I knew that she would defend me," I muttered;
"and yet how little do I deserve her confidence!"

"Ah, she is indeed a sweet child," observed Madame Durand, divining my
thoughts; "she cried very much indeed when the ship had to sail away
without you, and nothing would comfort the poor dear."

This information, though very flattering to me, added to my regret.  I
was now obliged to consider what I should next do.  After the free wild
life I had been leading, the idea of returning to Ireland was odious to
me.  I can scarcely now account for my conduct in this respect, but I
had but once written home on my arrival at Quebec; and during my long
excursions to the backwoods, I never had time.  I was now ashamed to
write--I seldom ever thought of those at home.  I had sunk, I felt, from
their grade, whenever I recollected them.  My whole attention had been
for so long occupied with the present, that the past was, as it were, a
blank, or as a story which I had read in some book, and had almost
forgotten.  I therefore hardly for a moment thought of going back, if I
did so at all; but I was anxious to fall in again with Captain Dean.  I
fancied the pleasures of a sea life more than those of a hunter, but I
was not yet altogether tired of the backwoods.  I had still a hankering
to trap a few more beavers, and to shoot some more raccoons and deer.

On making further inquiries of the ship-broker, I discovered that there
was a possibility of Captain Dean's going to New Orleans, and I at once
formed the idea of finding my way, by land and river, to that city.  I
knew a little more of the geography of the country than I did on my
arrival, but the immense distance no way daunted me.  I wanted to visit
the States, and I was certain that my gun would always afford me the
means of proceeding by any public conveyance, when I required it.  I had
a good sum remaining from the sale of the peltries I had saved; and with
this in my pockets I once more started for the lakes of Upper Canada,
purposing from thence to work my way through the western States down the
Mississippi to New Orleans.

An American vessel, which I found at Goodrich, conveyed me, through Lake
Huron, to a fort at the southern extremity of Lake Michigan, called, if
I recollect rightly, Fort Dearborn.  The voyage was long and tiresome.
The feeling that one is in a fresh-water lake, and at the same time
being out of sight of land for days together, is very curious.  It gives
one a more perfect notion than anything else can of the vastness of the
country in which such inland seas exist.  I must be excused from giving
any minute account of my adventures at this period, as I made no notes,
and I do not recur to them with much satisfaction.  In fact, I was weary
of the solitary life of a hunter and trapper, and longed once more to be
among people with whom I could have some thoughts and feelings in
common.

Till I got into the settled districts, I shot and trapped as before.  My
rifle always supplied me with abundance of food; and, whenever I reached
a trading-post, I was able to exchange my peltries for a fresh store of
powder and shot.  When passing through the more inhabited districts, I
was invariably hospitably received by the settlers, whatever was the
nation to which they before belonged.  Travelling through a large
portion of the State of Indiana, I entered that of Illinois, and at
length I embarked with a party of hunters in a canoe on the river of the
same name, which runs through its centre.  With these people I proceeded
to Saint Louis, a city situated on the spot where the mighty streams of
the Mississippi and Missouri join their waters.

Saint Louis was founded by the French, and is still very French in its
general aspect.  I here easily disposed of my remaining skins for a good
sum of money, which I secured in a band round my waist.  I remained here
only two days, for I was anxious to proceed to the south; and, finding a
steamer starting down the Mississippi, I went on board, and for about
eight dollars engaged a passage on deck to New Orleans.  The passage
occupied ten days.  By my usual way of proceeding, on foot, I should
have been as many months, with a constant probability of dying of fever
on the way.

I must make a remark for the benefit of Englishmen who may contemplate
settling in the United States.  They expect to find land cheap, no
taxes, and few laws to hamper their will.  In this they will not be
disappointed; but there will be a considerable expense incurred in
reaching those settlements where land is cheap.  They will probably be a
very great distance from a market for their produce; and, though they
have no taxes and few laws, neither will they have the advantages which
taxes and laws afford.  They will be far removed from the ordinances of
their Church, and the opportunities of education; there will neither be
the where to buy nor to sell.  In fact, they must be deprived of many of
the advantages of civilisation; added to which, many parts of the
western States are unhealthy in the greatest degree, of which the
wretched, sallow, ague-stricken beings inhabiting them afforded
melancholy proof; and these people, I found, were once stout, healthy
peasants in England, and would have continued healthy, and gained what
they hoped for besides, had they emigrated to Canada or to any other
British colony, or even had they possessed more knowledge of the
territory of the United States.  I do not say that many British
emigrants who give up their country, and become aliens in the States, do
not succeed, and thus the accounts they send home encourage others to go
out; but I do say that thousands of others die miserably of sickness and
disappointment, without a friendly hand to help or cheer them, or any
one to afford them the consolations of religion, and of their fate we
never hear a word.

People talk a great deal of the advantages of liberty and equality, and
the freedom of a wild life; but let me assure them that the liberty of
having one's eye gouged out, the equality which every ruffian claims,
and the freedom which allows a man to die without any one to assist him,
are practically far from desirable; and yet such are the false phantoms
by which many are allured to a land of strangers, away from the home of
their countrymen and friends.  However, I am not writing a lecture on
colonisation.  I will finish the subject, by urging my readers to study
it, and to become the advocates of British colonisation.

New Orleans is justly called the wet grave of the white man, for yearly
pestilence sweeps off thousands of its inhabitants; and as water is
found but two feet below the surface, it fills each last receptacle of
the dead as soon as dug.  Yet pestilential as is the clime, the scenery
is very beautiful.  The stream, which is here a mile broad, rolls its
immense volume of water with calm dignity, in a bed above two hundred
feet deep, past this great commercial mart of the south.  The banks on
either side are covered with sugar plantations, from the midst of which
rise numberless airy mansions of the wealthy owners, surrounded with
orange, banana, lime, and fig trees, with numberless other productions
of the tropics; while behind them can be seen the sugar-houses and the
cabins of the negroes, to remind one of the curse which hangs over the
land.

The city itself stands in the form of a half-moon on the banks of this
mighty stream, and before it are moored craft of every description--
backwood boats, keel boats, steamers and ships, brigs and schooners,
from every part of the world.  I may remark that directly behind the
city is an impenetrable swamp, into which all the filth from the houses
is led, for the ground is lower than the surface of the Mississippi; and
then we cannot be surprised that plague and fever prevail to a terrific
extent.

As soon as I landed I set to work to try and discover the _Mary_, if she
was there, or to gain tidings of her should she have sailed, as, from
the length of time I had occupied in my journey, I was afraid might be
the case.  I walked along the quays, examining every ship in the river,
and, after a long search, I was convinced that the _Mary_ was not there.
I next had recourse to the ship-brokers and ship-chandlers, but from
none of them could I gain any information.  I then began to make
inquiries of the people I found lounging about the quays smoking, and
otherwise killing the time.  At last I saw a man who stood lounging
against a post, with a cigar in his mouth and his arms folded, and who,
by the glance he cast at me, seemed to court inquiry.

He was, I remember well, a sallow-faced, gaunt fellow, with large
expressive eyes and black hair, which hung down from under his Panama
hat in ringlets, while a pair of gold rings adorned his ears.  He had on
a nankeen jacket and large white trousers, with a rich silk sash round
his waist, in which was ostentatiously stuck a dagger, or rather a
Spanish knife, with a handsome silver hilt.  I took him for a Spaniard
by his appearance; but when I accosted him in English, he replied in the
same language, with scarcely a foreign accent, "And so you are looking
for the _Mary_, Captain Dean, are you?  Very curious," he observed: "I
left her three weeks ago at the Havanah waiting for a cargo; and she
won't be off again for another three weeks or more."

"Then I may reach her in time!"  I ejaculated.

"Do you belong to her?" he continued.  "You have not much the look of a
seaman."

He was right; for I was still dressed in my mocassins and hunting
costume, with my rifle in my hand, and my other worldly property slung
about me, so I must have cut rather a curious figure.

I replied that I was to have belonged to her, and explained how it had
happened that she had sailed without me.  By degrees I told him more of
my history; and finally, without my intending it, he drew the whole of
it from me.

"You are a likely lad," he observed, with an approving nod.  "The fact
is, I sail to-morrow for the Havanah, in the schooner you see out
yonder; and if you like to ship on board, you may, that's all."  He
pointed, as he spoke, to a large square-topsail schooner which lay out
in the stream, at a single anchor.

She will not take long to get under weigh, I thought, as I looked at
her.  Eager as I was to reach the Havannah, I jumped at his offer.  "I
have not been accustomed to a craft like yours," I replied, "but I will
do my duty on board her, to the best of my power."

"That's all we require; and perhaps, if you find your friend gone, you
will like us well enough to remain with us," he observed, with a laugh.
"We are constantly on the wing, so you will have no time to get weary of
any place where we touch, as is the case in those big ships, which lie
in harbour for months together.  If you want to become a seaman, go to
sea in a small craft, say I."

I told him that I did wish to become a seaman; but I did not say that it
was for the sake of sailing with Captain Dean, nor did I mention his
daughter.  Indeed, I had kept her name altogether out of my narrative.

The arrangement being concluded, he advised me to go and get a sea-rig,
remarking that my present costume was not exactly suited for going aloft
in.  There were several outfitting shops, such as are to be found in all
seaports, and towards one of them of the most inviting appearance I bent
my steps.  Before going, however, I inquired of my new friend his name,
and that of the schooner.

"The English and Americans call me John Hawk, and my craft the _Foam_,"
he answered.  "Captain John Hawk, remember.  The name is not amiss; so
you may use it, for want of a better."

"Are you neither an Englishman nor an American?"  I asked.

"No, youngster, I belong to no nation," he replied; and I observed a
deep frown on his brow as he spoke.  "Neither Spain, France, Portugal,
England, nor even this free and enlightened country, owns me.  Are you
afraid of sailing with me, in consequence of my telling you this?  If
you are, you may be off your bargain."

"No," I answered, "no; I merely asked for curiosity, and I hope you
won't consider me impertinent."

"Not if you don't insist on an answer," he replied.  "And now go and get
your outfit."

As I walked along, I meditated on his odd expressions; but I had no
misgivings on the subject.  I did not like the first shop I reached, so
I went on to another, with the master of which I was more pleased.  I
there, at a fair price, very soon got the things I wanted, and, going
into a back room, rigged myself out in them; while my hunting costume I
did up in a bundle, to carry with me, for I was unwilling to part from
so old and tried a friend.

As I was paying for the things, the whole of which cost somewhere about
fifteen dollars, a stout, good-looking, elderly man came into the shop.
I at once recognised him as the master of an American brig on board of
which I had been in the Liverpool docks.  I felt as if he was an old
friend, and could not help speaking to him.  He was very good-natured,
though he did not remember me, which was not surprising.  I asked him if
he had met the _Mary_.

"I left her at the Havanah, for which place I sail to-morrow," he
answered.

"So does Captain Hawk, of the _Foam_," I observed.  "I have just shipped
on board her."

"Youngster," he said, looking grave, "you do not know the character of
that vessel, I am sure, or you would not willingly set foot on her deck.
She is a noted slaver, if not something worse; and as you put
confidence in me, I will return the compliment, and would strongly
advise you to have nothing to do with her."

"But I have engaged to sail with Captain Hawk, and he seems a
fair-spoken man," I urged.

"If you choose to trust to his fair speeches more than to my blunt
warnings, I cannot help it," he answered.  "I have done my best to open
your eyes for you to his true character.  If you persist in following
your own counsel, you will soon have to open them yourself very wide,
when it is too late."

I liked the tone of the master's voice, as well as the expression of his
countenance; and I therefore felt inclined to believe him.  At the same
time I did not like to be moved, as it were, from my purpose by every
breath of wind.

"I promised to sail with Captain Hawk, or whatever may be his name; and
though I cannot doubt but that you have good reason for what you say,
sir, yet I don't like to desert him, without some proof that he is the
character you describe him," I replied.

"Did he tell you what trade he was in?" asked the captain.

"No, sir," I replied; "he said nothing about it."

"Then be guided by me, youngster, and don't ship with him," he said,
speaking most earnestly.  "You may make every inquiry about my brig--the
_Susannah_, Captain Samuel Searle.  You will find all is clear and
above-board with me.  I want hands, I own, and I should be glad to have
you, but that does not influence me in what I say."

The shopkeeper corroborated all Captain Searle had told me, and added so
many other stories of the character of Captain Hawk and his schooner,
that I felt truly glad there was yet time to escape from him.  Bad as he
might be, there was something in his manner which made me wish not to
desert him altogether, without offering him some excuse for my conduct.
I accordingly, leaving my bundle in the shop, went back to the quay,
where I found him lounging as before.  He at first did not know me in my
change of dress when I accosted him.

"You are a likely lad for a sailor," he remarked, as he ran his eye over
me approvingly.

"I am glad you think so," I answered; and I then told him I had met the
master of a vessel whom I had known in Liverpool, and that I wished to
sail with him.

"And he has been telling you that I am a slaver, I suppose, or something
worse, eh?" he exclaimed in a sneering tone, and with an angry flash of
the eye I did not like.  I looked conscious, I suppose; for he
continued, "And you believed him, and were afraid to sail with so
desperate a character, eh?  Well, lad, go your own ways, I don't want to
lead you.  But I know of whom you speak, for I saw him go into the shop
where you have been, and tell him _to look out for himself that's all_."
Saying this, he turned on his heel, and I went back to the shop.

I told Captain Searle what Captain Hawk had said.

"That does not matter," he answered.  "He cannot do me more harm than he
already seeks to do; so I do not fear him."

I was now pretty well convinced of the honesty of Captain Searle; but to
assure myself still further, I called on two or three ship-brokers, who
all assured me that his ship was a regular trader, and gave a favourable
report of him.  When I inquired about Captain Hawk, they screwed up
their mouths, or made some other sign expressive of disapprobation, but
were evidently unwilling to say anything about him.  In the evening I
went on board the _Susannah_; and I must say that I was very glad to
find myself once more afloat.



CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

The _Susannah_ was a fine brig, of about three hundred tons burden.  She
had a raised poop, but no topgallant forecastle; so the crew were
berthed in the fore-peak, in the very nose, as it were, of the vessel.
I had engaged to serve as a boy before the mast.  Indeed, perfectly
unknown as I was, with slight pretensions to a knowledge of seamanship,
I could not hope to obtain any other berth.

The crew were composed of about equal numbers of Americans--that is,
subjects of the United States--and of Englishmen, with two blacks and a
mulatto, a Spaniard, and a Portuguese.  The first officer, Mr Dobree,
was a great dandy, and evidently considered himself much too good for
his post; while the second mate, Mr Jones, was a rough-and-ready
seaman, thoroughly up to his work.

I was welcomed by my new shipmates in the fore-peak with many rough but
no unkind jokes; and as I had many stories to tell of my adventures in
the backwoods, before we turned in for the night I had made myself quite
at home with them.

At daybreak on the next morning all hands were roused out to weigh
anchor.  The second mate's rough voice had scarcely done sounding in my
ear before I was on deck, and with the rest was running round between
the capstan-bars.  "Loose the topsails," next sung out the captain.  I
sprung aloft to aid in executing the order.  Though a young seaman may
not have knowledge, he may at all events exhibit activity in obeying
orders, and thus gain his superior's approbation.  The anchor was
quickly run up to the bows, the topsails were sheeted home, and, with a
light breeze from the northward, we stood towards the mouth of the
Mississippi.

As we passed close to the spot where, on the previous day, the _Foam_
lay at anchor, I looked for her.  She was nowhere to be seen.  She must
have got under weigh and put to sea at night.  "She's gone, Peter, you
observe," remarked Captain Searle, as some piece of duty called me near
him.  "I'm glad you are not on board her; and I hope neither you nor I
may ever fall in with her again."

From New Orleans to Belize, at the mouth of the Mississippi, is about
one hundred miles; and this distance, with the aid of the current and a
favourable breeze, we accomplished by dusk, when we prepared once more
to breast old ocean's waves.  These last hundred miles of the father of
rivers were very uninteresting, the banks being low, swampy, and dismal
in the extreme, pregnant with ague and fevers.  Although I rejoiced to
be on the free ocean, I yet could scarcely help feeling regret at
leaving, probably for ever, the noble stream on whose bosom I had so
long floated; on whose swelling and forest-shaded banks I had travelled
so far; whom I had seen in its infancy--if an infant it may ever be
considered--in its proud manhood, and now at the termination of its
mighty course.

These thoughts quickly vanished, however, as I felt the lively vessel
lift to the swelling wave, and smelt the salt pure breeze from off the
sea.  Though the sea-breeze was very reviving after the hot pestilential
air of New Orleans, yet as it came directly in our teeth, our captain
wished it from some other quarter.  We were enabled, however, to work
off the shore; and as during the night the land-breeze came pretty
strong, by day-break the next morning we were fairly at sea.

Before the sun had got up, the wind had gone down, and it soon became
what seamen call a flat calm.  The sea, as the hot rays of the sun shone
on it, was, as it were, like molten lead; the sails flapped lazily
against the mast; the brig's sides, as she every now and then gave an
unwilling roll, threw off with a loud splash the bright drops of water
which they lapped up from the imperceptibly heaving bosom of the deep.
The hot sun struck down on our heads with terrific force, while the
pitch bubbled up out of the seams of the deck; and Bill Tasker, the wit
of the crew, declared he could hear it squeak into the bargain.  An
awning was spread over the deck in some way to shelter us, or we should
have been roasted alive.  Bill, to prove the excess of the heat, fried a
slice of salt junk on a piece of tin, and, peppering it well, declared
it was delicious.  The only person who seemed not only not to suffer
from the heat, but to enjoy it, was the black cook; and he, while not
employed in his culinary operations, spent the best part of the day
basking on the bowsprit-end.

The crew were engaged in their usual occupations of knotting yarns,
making sinnet, etcetera, while the aforesaid Bill Tasker was instructing
me--for whom he had taken an especial fancy--in the mysteries of
knotting and splicing; but we all of us, in spite of ourselves, went
about our work in a listless, careless way, nor had the officers even
sufficient energy to make us more lively.  Certainly it was hot.  There
had been no sail in sight that I know of all the day, when, as I by
chance happened to cast my eyes over the bulwarks, they fell on the
topsails of a schooner, just rising above the line of the horizon.

"A sail on the starboard bow!"  I sung out to the man who was nominally
keeping a look-out forward.  He reported the same to the first mate.

"Where away is she?"  I heard the captain inquire, as he came directly
afterwards on deck.

"To the southward, sir; she seems to be creeping up towards us with a
breeze of some sort or other," answered Mr Dobree.  "Here, lad," he
continued, beckoning to me, "go aloft, and see what you can make of her.
Your eyes are as sharp as any on board, if I mistake not, and a little
running will do you no harm."

I was soon at the mast-head, and in two minutes returned, and reported
her to be a large topsail schooner, heading north-north-east with the
wind about south-east.

"I can't help thinking, sir, from her look, that this is the same craft
that was lying off New Orleans two days ago," I added, touching my hat
to the captain.  I don't remember exactly what made me suppose this, but
such I know was my idea at the time.

"What, your friend Captain Hawk's craft, the _Foam_, you mean, I
suppose?" he observed.  "But how can that be?  She was bound to the
Havanah, and this vessel is standing away from it."

"I can't say positively, sir; but if you would take the glass and have a
look at her, I don't think you would say she is very unlike her, at all
events," I replied.

"It's very extraordinary if such is the case," said the captain, looking
rather more as if he thought I might be right than before.

"Give me the glass, and I'll judge for myself, though it's impossible to
say for a certainty what she may be at this distance."  Saying this he
took the telescope, and in spite of the heat went aloft.

When he came down again, I observed that he looked graver than usual.
He instantly gave orders to furl the awning, and to be ready to make
sail as soon as the breeze should reach us.  "The youngster is right,
Mr Dobree," he said, turning to the mate, and probably not aware that I
overheard him.

"It's that piccarooning craft the _Foam_; and Mr Hawk, as he calls
himself, is after some of his old tricks.  I had my suspicions of him
when I saw him off New Orleans; but I did not think he would venture to
attack us."

"He's bold enough to attack any one, sir," said the mate; "but we
flatter ourselves that we shall be able to give a very good account of
him, if he begins to play off any of his tricks on us."

"We'll do our best, Mr Dobree," said the captain; "for if we do not, we
shall have but a Flemish account to render of our cargo, let alone our
lives."

I do not know if I before stated that the _Susannah_ carried four guns--
two long and two carronades; and as we had a supply of small arms and
cutlasses, we were tolerably able to defend ourselves.

The captain walked the deck for some time in silence, during which
period the stranger had perceptibly approached to us.  He then again
went aloft, and scrutinised her attentively.  On coming down he stopped
at the break of the poop, and, waving his hand, let us know that he
wished to address us.  "My lads," he began, "I don't altogether like the
look of that fellow out yonder, who has been taking so much pains to get
up to us.  He may be honest, but I tell you I don't think so; and if he
attempts to molest us, I'm sure you'll one and all do your duty in
defending the brig and the property on board her entrusted to you.  I
need not tell you that pirates generally trust to the saying, that dead
men tell no tales; and that, if that fellow is one, and gets the better
of us, our lives won't be worth much to any of us."

"Don't fear for us, sir; we're ready for him whatever he may be," sung
out the whole crew with one voice.

The stranger brought along the breeze with him, but as yet our sails had
not felt a particle of its influence.  At length, when he was little
more than a mile off, a few cat's-paws were seen playing on the water;
they came, and vanished again as rapidly, and the sea was as smooth as
before.  In time they came oftener and with more power; and at length
our topsails and topgallant-sails were seen slowly to bulge out as the
steadier breeze filled them.

The wind came, as I have said, from the south-east, which was directly
in our teeth in our proper course to the Havanah.  The stranger had thus
the weather-gauge of us; and a glance at the map will show that we were
completely embayed, as, had we stood to the eastward, we should have run
on the Florida coast, while on the other tack we must have run right
down to meet him.  We might possibly reach some port; but the
probabilities were that he would overtake us before we could do so, and
the appearance of fear would encourage him to follow us.  We had
therefore only the choice of running back to Belize, or fighting our way
onward.  Captain Searle decided on the latter alternative; and, bracing
the yards sharply up on the starboard tack, we stood to the eastward,
intending, whatever course the stranger pursued, to go about again at
the proper time.

The schooner, on seeing this, also closely hugged the wind and stood
after us.  There could now be no longer any doubt about his intentions.
We, however, showed the stars and stripes of the United States, but he
hoisted no ensign in return.  It was soon very evident that he sailed
faster than we did, and he was then rapidly coming within range of our
guns.  Our captain ordered us, however, on no account to fire unless we
were struck, as he was unwilling to sacrifice the lives of any one
unnecessarily, even of our enemies.

Every stitch of canvas the brig could carry was cracked on her: all
would not do.  The stranger walked up to us hand over hand.  Seeing that
there was not the slightest chance of escaping by flight, Captain Searle
ordered the foresail and topgallant-sails to be clewed up, and, under
our topsails and fore-and-aft sails, resolved to wait the coming up of
the enemy, if such the stranger might prove.

On came the schooner, without firing or showing any unfriendly
disposition.  As she drew near, I felt more and more convinced that she
must be the _Foam_.  She had a peculiarly long cutwater and a very
straight sheer, which, as she came up to the windward of us, and
presented nearly her broadside, was discernible.  As she heeled over to
the now freshening breeze, I fancied that I could even discern, through
the glass, Captain Hawk walking the quarter-deck.  When she got about a
quarter of a mile to windward of us, she hove to and lowered a boat,
into which several people jumped and pulled towards us.  At the same
time up went the Spanish ensign at her peak.

Captain Searle looked puzzled.  "I cannot make it out, Dobree," he
observed.  "I still doubt if that fellow is honest, and am half inclined
to make sail again, and while he bears down to pick up his boat, we may
get to windward of him."

"If he isn't honest he'll not trouble himself about his boat, but will
try to run alongside us, and let her come up when she can," answered the
mate.  "There is no trusting to what such craft as that fellow may do."

"Oh, we'll take care he does not play off any tricks upon us," said the
captain; and we waited the approach of the boat.

As she drew near, she was seen to contain eight men.  Four were pulling,
one sat in the bows, and the other three in the stern-sheets.  If they
were armed, it could not be discovered.  When they got within hail, the
captain asked them what they wanted.

They pointed to their mouths, and one answered in Spanish, "Aqua, aqua,
por amor de Dios."

"They want water, sir, they say," observed the first mate, who prided
himself on his knowledge of Spanish.

"That's the reason, then, that they were in such a hurry to speak to
us," said the captain.  "But still, does it not strike you as odd that a
vessel should be in want of water in these seas?"

"Her water-butts might have leaked out; and some of these Spanish
gentry, sir, are very careless about taking enough water to sea,"
replied the mate, who was biassed by the pleasure he anticipated of
being able to sport his Spanish.

"Get a water-cask up on deck, and we'll have it ready to give these
fellows, whatever they may be," said our humane captain.  "Have some
pannikins ready to serve it out to them.  Thirst is a dreadful thing,
and one would not keep a fellow-creature in that state a moment longer
than one could help."

I do not know what the second mate thought of the strangers, but I
remember several of the crew saying that they did not like their looks;
and I saw him place a cutlass close to the gun nearest the starboard
gangway, while he kept eyeing them in no very affectionate manner.
Notwithstanding the heat of the weather, the men in the stern-sheets
wore cloaks.  On observing this, Bill Tasker said he supposed it was to
hide the shabby jackets they wore under them.  The other men were
dressed in blue shirts, and their sleeves rolled up to the shoulder,
with the red sash usually worn by Spaniards round their waist, in which
was stuck the deadly _cuchillo_, or cut-and-thrust knife, in a sheath,
carried by most Lusitanian and Iberian seamen and their descendants of
the New World.

They pulled up at once alongside, and before any one attempted to stop
them they had hooked on, the man in the bows climbing up on deck,
followed by his companions in cloaks, and two of the seamen.  The other
two remained in the boat, pointing at their mouths, as a sign that they
wanted water.

Seamen, from the sufferings and dangers to which they are exposed, are
proverbially kind to those in distress.  Our men, therefore, seemed to
vie with each other who should first hold the pannikins of water to the
mouths of the strangers, while a tub, with the fluid, was also lowered
into the boat alongside.  They eagerly rushed at the water, and drank up
all that was offered them; but I could not help remarking that they did
not look like men suffering from thirst.  However, a most extraordinary
effect was produced on two of them, for they fell down on the deck, and
rolled about as if in intense agony.  This drew the attention of all
hands on them; and as we had no surgeon on board, the captain began to
ransack his medical knowledge to find remedies for them.

While he was turning over the pages of his medical guide to find some
similar case of illness and its remedy described, the schooner was
edging down towards us.  As she approached, I observed only a few men on
board; and they, as the people in the boat had done, were pointing at
their mouths, as if they were suffering from want of water.  The boat
was on the lee side.

I think I said that there were some sails, and two or three cloaks,
apparently thrown by chance at the bottom of the boat.  While all hands
were engaged in attending to the strangers, and for some minutes no one
had looked towards the schooner, on a sudden I heard a loud grating
sound--there was the wild triumphant cry of a hundred fierce voices.
The seemingly exhausted men leaped to their feet; the helmsman and our
captain lay prostrate by blows dealt by our treacherous foes; the second
mate and several of the men were knocked down; and before any of us had
time to attempt even any defence of the brig, a set of desperadoes, of
all colours and nations, were swarming down on her decks from the
rigging of the schooner, while others, who had been concealed in the
boat, sprang on board on the lee side.  Never was a surprise more
complete, or treachery more vile.  In an instant we were helplessly in
the power of as lawless a band of pirates as ever infested those seas.
The captain and mates were first pinioned; the men were sharing the same
treatment.  I was at the time forward, when, on looking aft, who should
I see but Captain Hawk himself walking the deck of the brig as if he
were her rightful commander!  He took off his hat with mock courtesy to
poor Captain Searle, as he passed him.  "Ah, my dear sir, the fortune of
war makes you my prisoner to-day," he said, in a sneering tone.
"Another day, if my people do not insist on your walking the plank, you
may hope, perhaps, to have the satisfaction of beholding me dangling at
a yardarm.  By the bye, I owe you this turn, for you shipped on board
your craft a lad who had engaged to sail with me; and I must have him
forthwith back again, with a few other articles of your cargo which I
happen to require."  As he said this, his eye fell on me, and he
beckoned me towards him.  I saw that there was no use hanging back, so I
boldly advanced.  "You are a pretty fellow, to desert your colours," he
continued, laughing.  "You deserve to be treated as a deserter.
However, I will have compassion on your youth, if you will swear to be
faithful to me in future."

"I never joined your vessel, so I am not a deserter.  I cannot swear to
serve a man of whose character I know nothing, except that he has taken
forcible possession of a peaceable trader."  I said this without
hesitation or the least sign of fear.  The truth is, I felt too
desperate to allow myself to consider what I said or did.

"You are a brave young bantam," he answered laughingly.  "And though all
the rest may hang or walk the plank, we will save you to afford us
sport; so set your mind at rest on that point."

"Thank you for my life, for I have no wish to lose it, I can assure
you," I replied; "but don't suppose I am going to spend it in your
service.  I shall do my best to get away from you as soon as possible."

"Then we must tie you by a lanyard to the leg," he answered, without at
all appearing angry.  "Here, Mark Anthony,"--he beckoned to a tall,
ill-looking black who had been busy in securing the rest of the
crew,--"take charge of this youngster, and render an account of him to
me by and by, without a hair of his head injured, mind you."

"Yes, sare," said the Roman general, who I afterwards found was a
runaway slave from Kentucky.  "I'll not singe his whiskers even.  Come
here, massa;" and seizing me by the shoulder, he dragged me forward away
from the rest of the people.  "What's your name?" asked my black keeper,
as he made me sit down on the bits of the bowsprit.

"Peter, at your service, Mr Mark Anthony," said I in as fearless a
voice as I could command; for having once taken a line of conduct which
seemed to answer well, I determined to persevere in it.

"Den, Massa Peter, you sit dere quiet," he said with a grin.  "I no
break your skull, because Captain Hawk break mine if I do.  I no let
anybody else hurt you for same reason."

From his look and voice I certainly did not flatter myself that he
refrained from throwing me overboard from any love he bore me; but, on
the contrary, that he would have been much more gratefully employed in
making me walk the plank, or in tricing me up to the foreyard.

Meantime the pirates were busily employed in ransacking the vessel, and
in transferring everything of value to them which they could find from
her to their own schooner.  The captain and mates were threatened with
instant death if they did not deliver up all the money they had on
board; and even the crew were compelled to hand over to our captors the
small sums they possessed.  To make them do this, they were knocked
about and beaten unmercifully.  And even those who possessed watches and
rings were deprived of them, as well as of any clothes which appeared
worth taking.

I had often read the history of pirates and of their bold exploits, till
I almost fancied that I should like to become one, or, at all events,
that I should like to encounter them.  But I can assure my friends that
the reality was very different to the fiction; and as the hideous black
was standing over me, ready every moment to knock out my brains, and my
companions were suffering all sorts of ill-treatment, I most heartily
wished that such gentry as pirates had not been allowed to exist.

Though I tried to look as indifferent as possible, the black would have
observed me trembling, had he not been watching to see what his friends
were about, no doubt eager to obtain his share of the plunder.  The work
the pirates were engaged in went on for some time, till even they had
tolerably satiated their eagerness for booty; and then I fully expected
to see them either heave my shipmates overboard as food for the sharks
alongside, or hang them at the yardarms, and then set the ship on fire,
as Mark Anthony insinuated, for my satisfaction, that they would do.
Instead of this, to my surprise Captain Hawk went up to Captain Searle,
and said, "I sent a message by that youngster there to you to look out
for yourself, and I never threaten in vain.  He goes with me.  I want a
good navigator; and as your second mate seems a likely sort of person, I
shall take him also.  The rest of you may go free; but remember, that if
any of you attempt to betray me, or to appear as witnesses against me,
you will dearly pay for it."

Our poor captain, who was almost ruined and heart-broken by the pillage
of his ship, said nothing, but bowed his head on his breast, looking as
if he would as soon have been killed outright.  The unfortunate mate,
Abraham Jones, seemed horrified at hearing what his fate was to be; but
he knew enough about the pirates to be aware that it would have been
worse than useless to attempt to escape accompanying them.  He, however,
took the precaution of calling on the crew of the _Susannah_ to bear
witness that he was compelled through bodily fear and by force to join
the pirates; and he made the best show of resistance that under the
circumstances he could venture to do.

From what I saw of him, I do not think that he had so great an objection
to joining them as some men might have had.  Indeed, I confess that I
was very wrong in doing so; and I feel that a person ought rather to
sacrifice his life than consent to commit a crime, even though driven to
it with a dagger at his throat.  However, both Jones and I fancied that
the only chance of saving our own lives, and those of our shipmates, was
by our going on board the schooner.

"Remember, Captain Searle, if we get into any misfortune through you,
these two will be the first to suffer, and then again I say, look out
for yourself," exclaimed the chief pirate, as he quitted the deck of the
_Susannah_.

His people then hove her guns overboard, and removed the small arms on
board their own craft, to which the mate and I were also transferred.
They also cut the standing and running rigging, which would effectually
prevent her from making sail for a long time to come.

The first mate was next released, and was ordered to stand on the poop,
on pain of being shot down if he attempted to move while the schooner
was near.  Her boat was then hoisted in, she was cast off from the brig,
and with a cheer of triumph from her crew, she stood away from the
_Susannah_.

The first mate wisely did as he was ordered; and it was not till we had
got to such a distance that there was little fear of his being hit, that
I saw him jump down to release his companions.  It was with a sense of
misery and degradation I have never before experienced, that I watched
till we lost sight of the unfortunate _Susannah_.



CHAPTER FIFTEEN.

A week passed away on board the _Foam_.  Whereabouts we were I had no
means of telling; for the captain kept me in his cabin, and would not
allow me to go on deck without first asking his leave, nor would he
permit me to communicate with Mr Jones.  He treated me very kindly, and
even gave me books with which to amuse myself; but I was very far from
happy.  I felt that the schooner might some day be captured by a ship of
war, and that I might probably be hung as a pirate before I had an
opportunity of establishing my innocence.  I also did not like to be a
prisoner, even though I was kindly treated; and I thought that most
probably, when Hawk found I would not join in any piratical acts, and I
had resolved that nothing should compel me to do so, his behaviour would
change, and that if I escaped with my life, I should no longer be
treated as before.

Abraham Jones had, I am sorry to say, as far as I was able to judge from
appearances, taken readily enough to the office imposed on him, and on
two occasions when I went on deck, I saw him doing duty as the officer
of the watch.  My opinion of him was, that he would not have sought to
become a pirate, but that, having no nice sense of right and wrong--
finding himself thrust, as it were, into the life--he did not think it
worth making any exertion to escape from it.

Whether we went to the Havanah or not I did not know.  We certainly were
once at anchor, and three times we either chased vessels or were chased
by a superior force, from the eager tone in which the captain ordered
sail to be made.  Once we fired several shots, and were fired at in
return; and I suspect it must have been at some vessel on our beam
chasing us, and that some of her rigging or her masts must have been cut
away, from the loud cheers the pirates gave, perhaps they sunk the
enemy.

An hour afterwards, Hawk came down into the cabin, looking as cool and
unconcerned as if nothing had happened.  I tried to gain some
information from him, but he would answer none of my questions.  He only
gave a ghastly smile when I asked if the vessel at which he had fired
had sunk; and he then took up a book, in which he soon seemed to be
deeply absorbed.  After some time the book dropped from his hand, and he
sat for half-an-hour in a state of abstraction, unconscious of where he
was, or who was present.

He was roused by the black, Mark Anthony, putting his head in at the
door and saying, "A sail on the lee bow."

He sprang on deck in a moment, all life and activity.  Instantly all
sail the schooner could carry was packed on her, and we were bowling
along with a fine breeze in chase of the stranger.  This I could only
surmise, however, by the way the vessel heeled over to the breeze, for I
was still kept in the cabin.

Presently Hawk came down again.  "Peter," he observed, "you have
disappointed me.  I thought you would not be content to lead the idle
life you do; I fancied you would like the excitement of the chase and
the fight better than sitting alone in the cabin all day, like a young
girl."

"I am not content, Captain Hawk," I replied; "but a prisoner has no
choice."

"No one is allowed freedom on board here, unless he has taken the oaths
of allegiance to the captain and our laws," he answered, looking
steadfastly at me.

"Nothing could induce me to take one or the other," I exclaimed; "so I
suppose I shall remain a prisoner till you release me, or I die."

He seemed to take my answer very calmly; and this encouraged me to
proceed and to make an effort to obtain my freedom.

"Captain Hawk," I said, "you have been very kind to me; and though I
should have been willing to sail with you before I knew the character of
your vessel, I am now most anxious to be put on shore; and if you will
liberate me, I will swear most solemnly not to betray you, or any of
those who sail with you."

"We do not trust to the oaths of those who do not join us," he answered.
"For your own sake, I must make you take part in the next capture we
attempt, or else my people will begin to suspect that you are a mere
coward, and even I shall be unable to protect you."

"I am no coward, Captain Hawk, and that I will prove any time that I
have an opportunity; but I do not choose to commit murder or robbery," I
answered, in the same bold tone in which I usually spoke.

"You use harsh terms, youngster, to one who could any moment order you
to be hove to the sharks," exclaimed the pirate.  "However, I do not
quarrel with you for speaking your mind.  I once thought as you do, but
custom has altered my ideas."

"Then why do you wish me to do what you know I must consider wrong?"  I
asked.

"Because I have a liking for you, and want a lad of spirit and education
to be my companion," he replied.  "The old hands I cannot trust--they
are as likely to turn against me as to serve me--while you, I know, will
be faithful for awhile, till you get hardened like the rest, and then--"

"And then," interrupting him, I said, "what would you do with me?  Give
me as food for the sharks, I suppose?"

"No, lad; I should let you live to fight your own way in the world, with
a charge to keep out of my path," he replied.  "But that is not what I
wanted to talk to you about.  You must come on deck and join in
capturing the vessel we are in chase of, for we think she is likely to
prove a prize of value."

I am sorry to say that so heartily tired was I of remaining shut up in
the cabin, that I was glad of being allowed, on any terms, to see what
was going forward on deck.

On this, I suspect, the pirate had calculated.  He well knew the force
of the French proverb, "It is but the first step to crime which is
difficult."  He wished me to take that first step, being assured that I
should then be his.

I thought when I went on deck that nothing would tempt me to take any
part in the acts of the pirates, even as far as in assisting to navigate
the vessel; but there is something so exciting in the chase of a vessel,
that it is difficult not to wish to come up with her.  At first I stood
merely looking on; but the breeze freshened and rather headed us, and
Hawk issued an order to flatten in the fore-and-aft sails, and to brace
up the yards.  I flew instinctively to the sheets, and found myself
pulling and hauling with the rest.

The captain made no remark, nor did he appear even to notice what I had
done.  The wind was about south, and the chase was to the eastward of
us, standing on a bowline she was a brig of some size, and at the first
glance I thought she was a man-of-war; but Hawk pronounced her to be a
Spaniard, and homeward bound from Cuba.  On hearing this, of course I
knew that we must be somewhere to the eastward of that place, and this
was the first intimation I had had of our whereabouts.

The chase had not observed us, or if he had, seemed not to be at all
suspicious of our character; for he was standing on under easy sail, as
if in no way in a hurry to escape from us.

Hawk, who was usually so calm and almost apathetic, walked the deck full
of energy and excitement.  Every order he gave was uttered in a sharp,
quick tone, which demanded instant obedience.  Every one partook of the
same spirit; and there appeared to be as much discipline and regularity
as on board a man-of-war.  Even the most lawless vagabonds find this
necessary for the attainment of their ends and their own preservation.

We rapidly came up with the chase, and were within about three miles of
her, when she began, it seemed, to suspect that all was not right, for
sail after sail was set on her till she could carry no more, while she
edged away a little from her course, so as to allow every one of them to
draw properly.  This threw us soon completely to windward, for we held
on the same course as before, and she appeared at first to be recovering
her lost ground.  In a short time we also kept away with the wind almost
abeam, a point on which the _Foam_ sailed her best.

"Huzza, my lads!" exclaimed Hawk; "in a short time the chase will be
ours, and, if I mistake not, plenty of gold doubloons into the bargain,
if you can but make our craft walk along faster."

"Huzza!" shouted the English and American part of the crew, in which the
people of other nations joined in their peculiar cries.

The brig once more hauled her wind, and this brought us soon nearer
again to her.

Hawk thought it was because the captain saw indications of a shift of
wind, and hoped to be placed well to windward.  He was scrutinising her
narrowly through a telescope.  "She does not show any guns," he
remarked; "but it is no reason that she has not got them.  Get all ready
for action, in case she should prove a Tartar."

I scarcely knew what I was about; but I confess that I not only assisted
to hand up the powder and shot, but to load and run out the guns.

Neither of us made any further variation in our course; but the chase
was, it appeared, a very slow sailer, for we so rapidly came up with
her, that five hours after she was seen she was within range of our
guns.  She did not fire, nor did we; for supposing her to be unarmed,
Hawk was anxious to capture her without in any way injuring her hull or
cargo.  We sailed on, therefore, as if we were engaged in a friendly
race; and no one, by looking at us, could have supposed that we were
deadly enemies.

We were getting very near to the chase, and with our telescopes could
almost distinguish the faces of those on board, when I observed Abraham
Jones, the new second mate of the _Foam_, hurry aft to the captain with
a face pale as a ghost.  Hawk laughed and shook his head incredulously.
Jones seemed from his manner to be insisting that he was right, for I
did not hear what he said.  Still we stood on till the chase was within
the distance of half the range of our guns.  I was again aft.  "Hoist
our bunting to make him show his colours," I heard Hawk say; "and give
him a shot from our bow-chaser to hurry him."

Directly afterwards a broad red flag, without any device, was run up at
our peak, and with a spout of smoke a shot went flying over the water,
and with a crash which made the splinters fly it struck the dark sides
of the brig.  The effect was instantaneous, and such as was little
expected by the pirates.

A flag was run up to the gaff of the brig; but instead of the Spanish
ensign, the stars and stripes of the United States were displayed; and
the ports being opened as if by magic, eight guns were run out, and
luffing up, she let fly her broadside right into our bows.  The shot
tore up our decks, and knocked away part of our starboard bulwarks,
killing two of the people, and wounding three more, but without injuring
our rigging.  Then I saw what sort of men I was mingling with.  I cannot
describe the fierce rage which took possession of them, the oaths and
execrations to which they gave vent.  The bodies of the two men who were
killed, while yet warm, were thrown overboard directly they were found
to be dead, and the wounded were dragged below, and left without a
surgeon or anyone to attend on them.  Instead of the timid Spanish
merchantman we expected to get alongside, we found that this vessel was
no other than a United States man-of-war sent to look out for the
_Foam_--in fact, that we had caught a Tartar.  Hawk, to do him justice,
stood undaunted, his energies rising with the occasion, keeping away a
little, so as to get our broadside to bear, we fired in return, and the
guns being planted high, some of the running rigging was cut away, and
her fore-topmast was struck, and must have been badly wounded, for some
hands instantly were seen going aloft to fish it.

"About ship, my lads--down with the helm; and while she's in stays, give
Uncle Sam our larboard broadside."

The sails of the schooner were well full; she quickly came round, and
before the brig could follow our example, we sent the shot from our
whole broadside flying among her rigging.  A loud shout of exultation
from our pirate crew showed their satisfaction at the damage they had
done; for several spars and sails, with blocks and ropes, were seen
coming down by the run on deck.

"Now, my lads, let's up stick and away," cried Hawk.  "They thought,
doubtless, that they were sure of us; but we'll show them that the
_Foam_ is not to be caught so easily."

All hands who could be spared from the guns, and I among the rest, flew
to their stations to trim sails; the yards were braced sharp up, and
with her head to the south-west, the _Foam_ stood away on a bowline from
her powerful antagonist.  We were not to escape, however, with impunity;
for as soon as the brig's crew had somewhat recovered from the confusion
into which the damage done by our shot had thrown them, such guns as
could be brought to bear were fired at us with no bad aim.  One struck
our taffrail, and another killed a man on the forecastle; but our
rigging escaped.  Twice the brig missed stays in attempting to come
about, from so much of her head-sail having been cut away; and this, as
she all the time was sailing one way and we the other, contributed much
to increase our distance.  The breeze also favoured us further by
freshening, making it more difficult to the enemy to repair damages,
while, as we were unhurt, it sent us along all the more rapidly.  The
Americans are not the people to take the treatment we had given them
with calmness, especially as we were so much the smaller, and had less
force.  At last, at a third trial, the brig came about, while she
continued without cessation firing at us.  Not much damage was done,
though our sails had daylight made through them several times by her
shot, and another man was killed; but this casualty the pirates seemed
to make light of--it was the fortune of war, and might happen every
instant to any of us.  The bodies, with scant examination, except to
discover whether there was money in their pockets, or rings in their
ears or on their fingers, were thrown overboard without a prayer or a
sigh.  As the shot came whistling over us, they laughed when they saw me
bobbing down my head in the hope of avoiding them.  I had no fancy, I
own, to be shot by people with whom I had not the slightest enmity, nor
whom I in any way wished to injure.

We soon found that the brig-of-war, instead of being a slow sailer, was
remarkably fast, and that, while we were in chase of her, she must, by
towing a sail overboard, or by some other manoeuvre, have deadened her
way, on purpose to allow us to come up with her.  We had now, therefore,
to put the schooner's best leg foremost to get away from her, even
before she had got all her gear aloft again.  To try and do her further
damage, a gun was got over the taffrail, and a constant fire was kept up
from it as fast as it could be loaded.

I was standing in the waist with the black, Mark Anthony, near me.
"Well, Massa Peter, if de brig catch we, we all be hung; how you like
dat?" he asked, with a broad grin, which made him look far from
pleasing.

"I should be sorry to see any of those who have treated me with kindness
hung, or otherwise injured," I replied.

"See!  Ha, ha! but how you like feel being hung, Massa Peter?" he said,
again grinning more horribly than before.

"Why, I have no fear of that sort, Mr Mark, I can assure you," I
replied; though I confess the disagreeable idea did come across me, that
I might possibly not be able to prove that I was not a pirate should we
be captured.  "I have had nothing to do with any of the acts committed
by the crew of this vessel."

"Ho, ho, ho!" he exclaimed, "den you no pull and haul, and help work de
guns which fire at de sip of war? me swear me saw you myself.  Ho, ho,
ho!"

The black's laughter sounded almost demoniacal in my ears.  He spoke the
truth, too: I had indeed helped to work the guns; and on the strength of
it, like a tempter to evil, he was endeavouring to persuade me, in his
rough way, to join the pirates.  I did not think it prudent to show him
that I clearly saw his aim; but I resolved still to remain firm.

The evening was now drawing on, and fortunately the breeze did not drop.
I confess that I was just as anxious to escape from our pursuer as any
pirate on board; scarcely more so, perhaps, than the new mate, who had
guessed the character of the brig, and had no fancy for having his
career cut short so soon.

The brig did not fire at us, as to do so she would have had to yaw and
thus lose ground, while we continued to ply her with our long gun.  Her
fore-topsail could not be set while the mast was being fished.  An
attempt was now made to hoist it; but the breeze at that instant
strengthening, away went the mast, rigging and sail together.  A loud
cheer arose from our decks: a parting shot was given her from our gun,
and in two hours darkness hid her from our sight.



CHAPTER SIXTEEN.

I dreamed all night that I was in the hands of the Americans, with a
rope round my neck and about to be run up at the yardarm.  I felt the
practical inconvenience of associating with bad company.  As soon as I
awoke I went on deck, for Hawk no longer placed any restriction on my
movements.  I fully expected to see the brig-of-war in chase of us.  I
own I felt somewhat relieved when, on looking round, not a sail of any
description was to be seen, and the schooner was still bowling along
with a brisk breeze on a westerly course.

Towards evening we sighted land, towards which our course was altered.
We ran on, and by marks, which I could not distinguish, steered between
coral banks, till on a sudden I found that we were entering a lagoon,
with trees towering on either side high above our top mast heads.  The
wind dropped completely as we got within the passage, and the boats were
sent ahead to tow.  Hawk ordered me into one of them, and I saw no
reason to disobey; indeed, I felt that it would be very foolish not to
do my best to please him in matters unconnected with piracy.

The sky was clear overhead, and the stars shone down and were reflected,
as in a mirror, on the otherwise ink-black water of the lagoon.  As we
pulled ahead, we appeared to be passing through a narrow canal, with
lofty impenetrable walls on either side, while in the centre rose before
our eyes the phantom-like outline of the schooner, her topmast heads and
rigging alone being seen against the sky above the dark shadows of the
trees.  The splash of our oars was the only sound which broke the dead
silence which reigned in this sequestered spot; while the only light,
except from the glittering stars above us, was from the phosphorescent
flashes as the blades entered the water, and the golden drops again fell
into their parent element.  On looking on that gloomy surface, it seemed
as improbable that anything so bright should come from it as that sparks
of real fire should be emitted from the hard flint-stone.  Mat Hagan, an
Irishman, who pulled the bow oar in my boat, declared that our oars were
throwing up to the sky again the reflection of the stars, which had no
business to be there at all.

We pulled on for about half-an-hour, and then a sort of bay or bight
appearing on one side, we brought the vessel into it, and moored her
stem and stern fast to the trees.  There she lay so completely
concealed, that any one passing up the canal could not by any
possibility have seen her, even in broad daylight.

Here we lay for several days, repairing damages and refitting the ship.
Where we were I could not learn from any one on board; but I suspected
that we were in one of the numberless keys among the Bahama or Lucaya
Islands; and I had afterward reason to know that I was right.

Some of the booty taken by the pirates was landed, as, on account of the
marks on the bales and other signs, it was likely to lead to their
detection should they attempt to dispose of it in its present form.
Some of the things were hid away; the others, after undergoing various
operations, were re-shipped with such perfectly different marks, that it
would have been impossible to detect them.  Cunning and trickery seemed
to be now the means taken by the pirates to carry on their operations,
instead of the bold, daring way in which, as I had read, their
predecessors formerly plundered the honest trader.

Hawk ordered me to lend a hand in refitting the schooner, so I made
myself as useful as my knowledge would allow.  I had begun, to entertain
a hope of escaping when the pirates were off their guard and fancied
that I had become reconciled to my lot.  It was against my nature to be
in any way treacherous, and I most certainly would not have injured
Hawk, on account of the kindness with which he had treated me; but, at
the same time, I did not feel that I was acting wrongly in concealing
from him my wish to regain the liberty of which he had deprived me.

One morning, while the yards were still on deck and the sails unbent,
notice was given from our look-out at the mouth of the lagoon that a
sail was in sight, about two miles in the offing.

"What is she?" asked Hawk of the messenger.

"A barque, deeply laden, captain," replied the man, who was an old
pirate.  "To my mind she looks as if she would not make a bad prize, if
we could get hold of her; and, as the wind is dropping, and it will be
some time before the sea-breeze sets in, I think there will not be much
difficulty in doing that."

The captain was pleased at his follower's suggestion; indeed, he would
have risked the loss of his authority had he refused to attend to it.
The men were ordered to knock off work, and to get the boats ready,
while, those who were away in the interior of the little island were
recalled to lend their assistance.  Every one was instantly all life and
animation: with the prospect of making a prize, even the most sluggish
were aroused.

There were three boats, which were soon launched, and oars, arms, and
provisions were placed in them.  To my surprise, Hawk gave the command
of them to Abraham Jones, he himself remaining to take charge of the
schooner.  From what I heard, I found that the pirates expected no
difficulty or danger in making the capture.

I, of course, hoped that I should have nothing to do in the matter.
What was my horror, then, when Hawk ordered me into the boats, and my
old enemy--for I cannot call him my friend--Mark Anthony, was told to
keep me company!  I do not know whether this was Hawk's wish, or the
desire of the men, who did not like to trust me till I had been guilty
of some piratical act.  At first I hesitated about obeying; but I soon
saw, by the angry looks which were cast at me, that I was doing so at
the peril of my life; and at the same instant it struck me, that if I
went, I might by some means or other obtain my liberty.

The boats were one long-boat, which pulled eight oars, and carried in
all sixteen men, and two large swift-rowing gigs.  Jones took command of
the long-boat, and I was in one of the gigs.  In silence we left the
vessel on our nefarious errand--in silence we pulled down the canal with
steady and slow strokes, for while the wind held there was no hurry.
When we got close to the mouth of the harbour, the boat I was in was
sent out to reconnoitre.

The stranger was apparently beating up along shore, towards which her
head was now pointed, those who directed her movements little aware of
the danger which threatened them.  After waiting a short time, during
which she had drawn nearer to us, her sails began to flap against the
masts, and the ripple which had been playing on the water disappeared
altogether.  With the last breath of wind she was put about, and
attempted to stand off shore; but she was very soon left in what is
called the "doldrums," namely, without steerage-way.

I had been watching her attentively.  I thought from the first I knew
her; and I now felt certain that she was no other than the ship of which
I was in search, the _Mary_.  With bitter grief I came to this
conclusion; for I could not but fear that my friends were on board her,
and that Captain Dean and his sweet child would be thrown into the hands
of the pirates.  What, too, would they think of me?  Would they believe
me innocent when they saw me in such company?  A thought came cross my
mind at that instant; I would pretend not to recognise them.  At all
risks, I would make the pirates suppose that I joined willingly in this
expedition, and perhaps I might be the means of preserving their lives,
at all events, if not their property.  Perhaps, I thought, my steps
might have been led providentially through the various adventures in
which I had engaged for this very purpose.  The very idea made my heart
beat quick with a sensation almost of joy.  I did not see how it was to
be accomplished; but I felt assured that the Power which had hitherto
guided me would point out the way.

When the officer of the boat I was in saw the barque becalmed, he gave
the signal to our consort, and without further delay we three pulled out
together towards her.

For some time no one on board appeared to have observed us.  At last
some one saw us, and two or three glasses were directed towards us; but
we did not seem to have created any alarm or even suspicion among them.
Thus we were enabled to approach without any preparation having been
made to prevent our getting on board.  When it was too late, probably
from the eagerness with which they saw us dash alongside, they suspected
that all was not right, and a few of the hands ran to the arm-chest,
while others attempted to slue round one of the two guns the barque
carried, and to point it down at the boats.  Before they could do so, we
were scrambling up her sides.

"Oh, oh, Massa Peter, you hurry enough now to turn pirate, when you tink
someting to be got!" shouted Mark Anthony, as he saw my eagerness to be
one of the first on deck.

The cutter boarded on one side, the two gigs on the other--one at the
fore-rigging, the other at the mizzen-chains; so that the crew had to
separate into three divisions to oppose us.  The crew thus weakened, the
people from the long-boat gained easily a footing on deck.  They drove
the crew aft, who were now attacked in the rear by the party from one of
the gigs.  I was in the foremost gig, and we had no one to oppose us.
The only defence made was by the master, his mates, and two of the crew,
who had secured cutlasses.  They stood together on the larboard side of
the poop, and boldly refused to yield up the ship, till they knew the
authority of those attacking her.

I saw at a glance that my fears were well founded.  There stood my kind
friend, Captain Dean, and, in the centre of the group, his sweet little
daughter, Mary.  Oh, how I wished to have the strength of a hundred men,
to drive all the pirates into their boats, and to release my friends!

No sooner had I appeared above the bulwarks than Mary saw me.  She
uttered a cry of surprise, for she recognised me at once.  It attracted
her father's attention.  His cutlass was struck from his grasp by Jones,
the two mates were knocked down, and all further resistance was at an
end.

This easy victory prevented the pirates from being as bloodthirsty as
they might otherwise have proved; but, as a precautionary measure, Jones
ordered both the officers and crew to be bound to the masts and rigging
while the ship was being searched.

I had rushed aft, in the hopes of being of some assistance to Captain
Dean should he have required it--how, I scarcely knew.  I thought I
would have interposed my body, should a sword have been raised to strike
him: When I saw him no longer making any defence and uninjured, I
stopped, and was endeavouring to turn away to consider what I should do;
but Mary's eye had followed me, and, as she saw me approaching, she
uttered my name in his ear.  On losing his sword, he had thrown himself
on one of the hen-coops placed against the bulwarks, where he lay,
clasping his child in his arms; and even the pirates seemed to respect
him, for no one molested him.

Most of the pirates were engaged in dragging the prisoners to the masts
to bind them.  Jones had gone into the cabin.  I saw that no one was
observing me.  I hurried past my old friends.  "Hush," I whispered, in a
voice they could just hear; "I am honest still.  Do not recognise me--I
will save you if I can!"

"I knew he was true and good," said Mary, kissing her father, and trying
to turn her eyes from me.

What courage did her words give me!  That sweet child's trusting
friendship was a reward for all I had suffered.  I resolved to abstain
still from the evil courses to which my companions were endeavouring to
lead me.  I gave a glance over the stern, as if I had been looking to
see what had become of the gig which had boarded at that end of the
ship, and I again passed my friends without noticing them.  I guessed
that Mark Anthony would have been watching me, and I was right.

"What, you like pirating, Massa Peter!  You run about like little dog,
quite frisky--not know what to do," he remarked, with a grin.  He was
fond of giving things their proper names.  Jones would have been
horrified at being called a pirate; and even Hawk did not like the term,
though in his bitter moments he used it.

"I have no help for it," I answered, with, I hope, excusable duplicity.
"The fact is, Mark, I had formed a wrong opinion of you gentlemen; and
in future I hope to make as bold a robber as the best of you."

"Berry good, berry good, my boy!" said the black, grasping my fist with
his huge rough hand.  "Me tell Captain Hawk, Massa Peter now take oath."
I had not thought of that dreadful ceremony when I boasted of being
ready to turn pirate; and, as I had a true idea of the sacredness of an
oath, I knew that I must be betrayed if I was asked to take it, by
refusing, as I must, to do so.

Jones now came out of the cabin, and went up to the captain.  "Captain
Dean," he said, "for such, I find, is your name, you must order your
people into the boats, to tow this vessel close in shore, where you must
anchor, to discharge some of your cargo."

"I have no longer command of this vessel," replied the captain; "if the
people choose to obey you, I have no power to prevent them."

"We have the means of making them do what we please, though," exclaimed
Abraham Jones.  "Here, you, get your boats into the water, and tow us
ahead."  He pointed to several of the Mary's crew, who were released,
and compelled by the pirates to do as he ordered.  The pirates'
long-boat also went ahead, to assist in towing; while four men were
stationed at the bows with muskets in their hands, to fire on the boats
should they attempt to escape.  The rest who remained, I zealously
assisting them, cleaved and brailed up the sails.  When ordered by
Jones, I, without hesitation, seized a musket and pointed it at the
boats.

Captain Dean, still holding Mary in his arms, sat aft, without moving.
He seemed completely stunned with the blow which had fallen on him, for
the cruel robbery would prove his ruin.

It was an arduous operation, towing the vessel in; for a current set
along shore, it seemed, and drifted her to the southward of the entrance
to the lagoon.  I have before described the heat of a tropical sun; and
very hot work indeed was this towing.  But more particularly
disagreeable was it for the crew of the barque, who could not tell but,
at the end of it, their lives might be sacrificed by their captors;
while the pirates, on the contrary, had the satisfaction of having a
rich booty in store.  At last, after five hours' incessant labour, we
got, as near as the depth of water would allow, to the mouth of the
harbour, and the anchor was dropped to the bottom.

Overcome by the heat, the pirates now came out of the boats, and,
rushing below, brought a spirit cask on deck, which they forthwith
broached.  I trembled for the consequences.  Jones did all he could to
prevent their becoming intoxicated; but they only laughed and jeered at
him, and asked who made him an officer over them.

I ought to have said that, as soon as the barque had anchored, those of
her crew who were in their boats were turned adrift without oars or
masts or sails, or anything to guide them, and allowed to float wherever
the current might carry them.  As it happened, there was but little
current there, and consequently they remained but a short distance off,
afraid to attempt either to regain the ship or to reach the shore.

Louder and louder grew the mirth of the pirates, and wilder their looks
and gestures, as the powerful liquor they were swallowing took effect on
their brains.  I saw Mary cling closer to her father in fear and
trembling, all the time watching me with furtive glances, lest she
should be observed by her captors.  I kept my musket in my hand,
pretending to be watching the boats; and as they were now astern, I came
aft for that purpose.  What might have been the result of the prolonged
orgies of the pirates it is impossible to say; but just as two or three
had begun to stagger on their feet, and, with their knives in their
hands, to cast their bloodshot eyes round as if looking for some victim
for their insane fury, a small boat shot out of the harbour and rapidly
approached the ship.

In a few minutes Captain Hawk stood on the deck of the prize, just in
time to prevent one of his men from killing the first mate of the
vessel, who remained all the time bound to the mast.  He then turned
fiercely on Jones, and reprimanded him for not having restrained the
people more effectually.  With a blow of his fist he knocked down the
three most drunken of his followers, and the rest appeared instantly
sobered.  Without a murmur they threw the remainder of the spirits
over-board, and under his directions commenced hoisting out such part of
the cargo as he considered most valuable.

Captain Dean was not molested; nor was any notice taken of the boats
which were drifting in shore, and would, I hoped, reach it, and thus
enable the crews to find means by which to return to the ship, and
perhaps to escape.  On a sudden it seemed to strike some of the pirates
that there was no use working while there were people they could compel
to work for them; and to my sorrow two armed boats were instantly sent
off to tow back the two which were drifting away.  Resistance was vain,
so the poor fellows were compelled to work in hoisting the cargo out of
their own ship, and afterwards in pulling up the lagoon to the schooner.
When I saw that the pirates allowed the strangers to see their place of
concealment, I trembled for the fate of the latter, and feared greatly
that the result would be their destruction, to prevent their discovering
it to others.

The boats were all away, and six of the pirates, with Captain Hawk and
myself, were the only persons besides the prisoners who remained on
board.  Hawk had observed my apparent zeal, I suspect, for he said to
me, "I am glad to see that you are overcoming your foolish scruples,
Peter; and to show the confidence I place in you, I will give you charge
of the old master and his daughter.  Take care they do not communicate
with any of the other prisoners or assist, to release them."

My heart leaped within me at the chance thus offered of assisting my
friends; at the same time I considered whether I ought to betray the
confidence placed in me.

"I'll keep an eye on them, sir," I answered evasively, and at the same
time I took my post opposite to them, with my musket in my hand.  I
observed that Mary turned her head away from me, lest Hawk should
observe the satisfaction she felt at this arrangement.  Hawk afterwards,
with all his followers, went below to make a more minute examination of
the nature of the cargo.

As soon as they had disappeared, I ran up to Mary and her father.  I
knelt down; I kissed their hands, and with tears in my eyes assured them
that I had been long looking for them, and was guiltless of willingly
joining the pirates.  "I will risk my life to liberate you," I added.
"Be constantly on the watch for whatever may occur.  Perhaps to-night
something may favour our projects; perhaps it may be weeks before I find
the means of aiding you."

"I knew you would, I knew you would," exclaimed Mary.  "Father, Peter
will help us to escape."  Captain Dean, by a strong effort, roused
himself from the state of stupor into which he was near falling.  He
took my hand and grasped it tightly.

"Peter," he said, "I will trust you, though appearances are solely
against you.  For the sake of humanity--for this sweet child's sake--I
pray that you will not deceive us."

I again assured him that I was true, and that, when I had time, I would
explain how it all had happened; and then, fearful of being seen, I
retired to my post to act sentinel as before.

On Hawk's returning on deck, he ordered Captain Dean and Mary into the
cabin below, and told them that they must remain there till he had
determined what should be done with the ship.  My poor friend obeyed
without a murmur, and, taking Mary by the hand, conducted her to his
state-room, into which he entered and closed the door.  I heard him say,
while I was still close to it, "Kneel, my child, kneel, and pray to God
to protect us."

The boats had made only two trips to the shore before it was dark, and
still very much of the property the pirates wished to appropriate
remained on board.  When they returned for the last time, there were
various discussions as to what should be done with the vessel.  Some
were for landing everything of value, and then burning her; others
proposed scuttling her, with her people on board; a few suggested that
they might be allowed to escape in their boats, as there was little
probability of their ever reaching land; while the most humane voted for
allowing the ship to depart when they had taken all they required out of
her.

Most of the pirates returned to the schooner for the night, leaving the
prisoners, with the third mate and a small guard, including me, in
charge of them.  Just before he left the vessel, Hawk called me aside.

"I leave you on board of the prize, Peter," he said, "because, though
you are young and untried, yet you have more of humanity about you than
the rest of my followers, and I can place more confidence in you.  I
must, however, have you take the oath of our band, to the effect that
you will not desert the ship, betray a comrade, or separate from the
rest till our compact is dissolved by mutual agreement."

I thought, as seriously and as rapidly as I could, whether such an oath
would not only preclude my own escape, but prevent me from assisting my
friends.  "It must effectually bind me to the pirates, and probably
cause my death; but if I refuse to take it, I shall lose all chance of
aiding Captain Dean and Mary, so for their sakes I will do as I am
asked."  I told Hawk I would no longer refuse to take the oath he
proposed.

"Then swear," he said, repeating it, while a number of the pirates
gathered round.

"I swear," I said, in a voice which must, I thought, betray my emotion.
The pirates cheered and welcomed me as a brother among them.  At that
instant a peal of thunder echoed along the rocks of the shore, and vivid
lightning darted from the sky.

I presumptuously thought at the time that the anger of Heaven was thus
shown for the crime I had committed.  I trembled violently; and had it
not been dark, my confusion would have been discovered.  The pirates
were, however, in a hurry to depart, and, stepping into their boats,
which were again deeply laden, they pulled up the harbour, leaving me
and my companions in charge of the ship and twice as many prisoners as
we ourselves numbered.



CHAPTER SEVENTEEN.

I did not go to sleep, it may be supposed, but walked the deck,
considering what I should do.  I had never spoken much with the third
mate, who was now commanding officer; and I felt less inclination than
ever to enter into conversation with him, so I only went near him when I
was obliged to do so, to report that all was right.

He was a surly ruffian, in no way superior to the rest of the people,
except that, from having been at sea all his life, he was a tolerable
seaman.  It was with some difficulty that I gained permission from him
to carry some food and water to the prisoners, or I believe he would
have allowed them to starve.  I dared not tell them that I was a friend,
lest some might incautiously betray me.  Wherever I went, also, Mark
Anthony followed, and narrowly watched my proceedings.  I observed him,
though I pretended not to do so, and was trying to devise some means of
lulling the suspicions he evidently still entertained of me.

The mate's name was John Pinto, a Portuguese by birth, though he said he
was an American, and he spoke English well.  I knew that he was addicted
to liquor, when he could indulge in it without fear of the consequences.
I had found several bottles of fine old Jamaica rum in the cabin, so I
brought one up on deck, with a monkey full of cool water, and saying
that I was very thirsty after the day's work, and must have a glass,
asked him if he would have one also.  He consented, and I poured him out
a stiff tumblerful, the strength of which was concealed by the coolness
of the water.

"Very good indeed," he growled out.  "Peter, you understand these
things; give me another."  I did so, and made it even stronger than the
first.  He liked it accordingly even better, and took several others in
quick succession.  I was not afraid of his growing furious, for, from
the nature of the man, I knew that he would only become stupid, and
finally would fall asleep.  With much satisfaction I saw this effect
take place.

"Now I am commanding officer," I thought, "and I will see what is next
to be done."  Just as I had thought this, and had stood up to look
around me, I felt the hot breeze coming off the land.  An idea struck
me, if I could but liberate the prisoners, they might run the vessel far
away to sea before the morning, and out of the reach of the pirates.

How to accomplish this was the next thought.  Go with them I could not,
on account of my oath, and I was also bound to the rest.  There was a
sentry placed before Captain Dean's cabin.  I determined to make him
tipsy also, I had recourse to the old rum, and with the same effect it
had on the mate.  Two men walked the deck near the main hatchway, the
other four were forward.  The prisoners were in the hold, and my great
difficulty was to get to them.

I went on deck to watch the two men.  They were sitting down, and I had
hopes were asleep.  Mark Anthony, whom I most feared, was forward.  The
night had become very dark, so I went close to them without being
perceived, and I could distinguish by the tones of their voices that all
four were talking together.  On this I crept back to the cabin.  The
sentry was snoring in complete insensibility, so I dragged him on one
side, and tapped softly at the door of the state-cabin.

"It is Peter," I whispered.  "Open the door, I have something to say."
Mary knew my voice, and opened it before I had done speaking, for I had
unlocked it from the outside.

"Captain Dean," I said, in a hurried tone, "the wind is off the shore;
two of your guards are unconscious from drink; and if I can but make the
rest so, or you can manage to overpower them, you may regain possession
of your vessel.  I can neither assist you further, nor can I accompany
you, for at all risks I must return to the schooner."

"Oh no, no," exclaimed Mary, "you must go with us; we cannot leave you
behind with those dreadful men."

"I have taken an oath, Mary, and I must remain," I replied.  "But have
no fears for me.  I shall, I trust, finally escape from the toils which
surround me, and we may meet again."  For some time I continued in the
same strain, and finally succeeded in winning her over to my view of the
case.  I had less difficulty in persuading her father that there was no
other chance of escape; and I urged on him the duty he owed to his
owners as well as to his child, if not to himself.

With several bottles of old rum I returned on deck, and with one in my
hand I sat myself down near the two men guarding the hatchway.

"The mate finds this stuff very good," said I; "will you take a glass?"
They did not say no, but pronounced it excellent.

"The rest should not be kept out of their share," I remarked; "I'll take
them some."  To this they would not agree; and wishing to keep it all to
themselves, drank it down much faster than they would otherwise have
done.  I took the empty bottle away, and put a full one in its place,
much to their surprise, for they did not suspect my trick.  Favouring my
design, the others heard them praising the rum, and asked them what they
were about.  I instantly ran forward with two bottles.

"They have got some spirits which they think very good, and I have
brought you some bottles.  There are several more stowed away somewhere
on deck, and if I can find them I will bring them to you."

"Bear a hand and bring them to us, but do not let Pinto see you, or he
will be laying an embargo on them," said one of the men in a low voice,
thinking the mate might hear him.

In a short time all the pirates, including even Mark Anthony, were lying
about the decks in a state of helpless intoxication.

With my knees trembling with agitation, I hurried aft, and told Captain
Dean what had occurred.  Leaving Mary in the cabin, he accompanied me on
deck, and we instantly set to work to get the hatches off.  We
succeeded, and, going below, found the mates and crew, most of them
overcome with fatigue, fast asleep.  It was the work of a minute to
rouse them up, to explain what had happened, and to cut loose the
lanyards with which they were secured.

I told them that they must make a simultaneous rush on deck; that they
must bind me with the rest of the pirates; that they must put us into a
boat with a couple of small sculls, just to enable us to reach the
shore; and that they must then cut their cable, and get to sea as fast
as possible.

"I do not see what should prevent us from carrying all hands off
prisoners," said the first mate.  The idea that they might do so had not
occurred to me.  I wished most cordially that they would, but my oath
made it incumbent on me to return if I had the power.

"We must do as this young man requires," said Captain Dean.  "We will
abide by his decision."

"Then I must beg that you will without delay put me and my companions
into a boat, and be off yourselves," I answered, with a sinking heart.

I crept first on deck, and lay down among the men forward.  Presently
the crew rushed on deck, and in a few minutes the previous order of
things was completely reversed, and the pirates were bound and floating
helplessly in a boat by themselves.  The black, who was near me, was the
only one who was aroused, and he saw me being bound like himself.  He
would have cried out, but a gag thrust into his mouth effectually
prevented him.

With mingled feelings of pain and joy I saw, through the gloom, the
sails of the _Mary_ drop from their yards, and her cable being cut, she
glided away into the obscurity of the distance.  I uttered a prayer for
the safety of those on board.  I had no fears for myself; but I confess
I wished that, notwithstanding my protestations, Captain Dean had
forcibly detained me, though I, of course, was compelled to insist on
being treated like the rest of the pirates, and he, not knowing my real
wish, thought he was bound to do as I desired.  Mary was all the time
below, or her keen perception would have saved me, as she would have
insisted on keeping me, in spite of myself.  I repeated the oath I had
taken over and over again, and I did not find that it in any way
prevented me from liberating the prize.  That any one would dream of
doing such a thing had, I suppose, never occurred to its framers.

It was broad daylight before any of the people came to their senses.
The black had been all the time, in a degree, awake, though his
intellects were not very bright; he, however, had been too tightly bound
hand and foot to move, while his mouth was too securely gagged to allow
him to cry out.  I arose with pretended difficulty; I saw his keen eye
glaring on me.  I looked over the gunwale: the _Mary_ was nowhere to be
seen.  She had then escaped, and I returned thanks to Heaven for her
safety.

The boat had been driven by the wind some way out to sea, and it
occurred to me that there was a great probability of our being starved
before we could regain the shore, should we not be seen by the
schooner's crew.  This idea gave way to the picture which presented
itself of the rage and disappointment of the pirates when they found
that their prize had escaped.

"They will wreak their vengeance on us all, perhaps--on my head
especially, if it is suspected that I had a hand in liberating the
prisoners.  How can I avoid being suspected?  The mate will recollect
that I brought the rum to him; so will the others.  They will compare
notes, and I shall be accused of having plotted with the crew of the
_Mary_.  It will be asserted that I intended to accompany them, and to
claim a reward--perhaps to bring a ship of war to the spot--and that
they had played me false in placing me in the boat.  It will not be
supposed that I might have escaped, but would not break my oath.  My
condition is indeed perilous."

I was right in that respect.  Never, perhaps, had I been in such
imminent danger; but I forgot at the time that there is a higher Power
ever watchful over men, and that it will assuredly protect those who act
rightly.

Oh, let me urge my young friends, in their course through life, always
to do what they know is right, fearless of consequences: let no
consideration whatever induce them to act otherwise.  They may not--
probably do not--see the way by which they are to be preserved, but God,
in His good time, will show it to them; or if they are exposed in
consequence to suffering, will not fail, beyond all measure, to reward
them.

I must explain that I do not feel quite certain that I was right in
taking the oath.  Even now that years have passed since that time, I am
undecided as to that point; and therefore I trust that I may be pardoned
if I was wrong in doing so, when I had no time for reflection.

When the black saw me move, he made various strange noises, to call my
attention to his condition.  I showed him that my hands were bound, but
I contrived to crawl towards him; and though his hands were behind his
back, he contrived so far to loosen the cords which bound mine (they
were, in truth, but slightly secured, and I could have released them
without aid), that I got them perfectly free.  The first thing I did was
to take the gag from his mouth; and oh, what a torrent of abuse flowed
instantly out of it!  He did not, however, suspect me, as I thought he
would.  We next released the rest, but they were still too overcome with
the liquor to comprehend what had happened.

The wind was still off the shore, and the boat continued drifting out to
sea, her speed increased by a current which set to the southward.  The
black recognised the mouth of the lagoon, which he knew well, but I
could not make it out.  The two sculls were found, and, bestowing many
maledictions on his companions for not being able to drink with
impunity, he made me take one of them, and attempt to pull towards the
shore.

With the prospects I had in view, I had no particular wish to exert
myself, and I saw that, even if I did so to the utmost, we could make no
way against the breeze and the current setting in an opposite direction.

The sun rose, and struck down with burning fury on our heads; and I
knew, when the wind fell, it would be hotter still.  At length I began
to feel the pangs of hunger, and, to my satisfaction, I found that some
considerate friend had put a few biscuits and a keg of water into the
boat.  With this I refreshed myself, and so did the black; and I began
to hope that he was grateful to me for releasing him from the gag, and
that he would bear witness to having seen me bound like the rest.

When we found that we could make no way with the paddles, we gave it up,
and set to work to try and revive our companions.  We unlashed their
arms and legs, and by degrees they came to themselves.  They were very
much surprised at what had happened, and could not account for it.

"Well, no use talking here," observed Mark Anthony, whose wits being
brighter than theirs, was for active measures.  "If we no get on shore,
we all die togeder."

I suggested that we might manufacture some more paddles out of the
bottom-boards; and that by bending our handkerchiefs and jackets
together we might form a sail, which, when the sea-breeze set in, might
enable us to reach some part of the coast.  No one having any better
advice to offer, mine was adopted: two more pairs of paddles were
formed; but though they enabled us to make some little headway, it was
very slowly.

My companions now grew weary; and the looked-for breeze not arriving,
they began to lose their tempers, as people are apt to do, even without
so much reason, after a debauch.

"It was all your fault, youngster," suddenly exclaimed the mate, turning
to me; "you brought me the stuff which capsized me."

"And he brought it to us," said one of the men who had been guarding the
main-hatchway.

"And to us also," cried those who had been forward.

"Den," exclaimed the black, giving a most diabolical grin from ear to
ear, which made my blood run cold, "he done it on purpose: dere was
someting in it, no doubt."

Oh, now my heart sunk within me; for their suspicions once being set on
the right scent, I feared they would discover the truth.  However, I put
a bold face on the matter, and answered, "I found the spirit--I tasted
it, and thought it very good, so I brought it to you.  I am in as bad a
condition as any of you; so I gained nothing by treachery, if I was
guilty of it."

"Ah, but you hoped to do so!" exclaimed the mate.  "It wasn't your wish
to remain with us, but you could not help yourself."  Thus the
discussion went on, till they arrived very nearly at the truth.  I said
nothing, but listened, expecting every moment to be my last.  Some
proposed throwing me overboard at once; but the black suggested that the
captain would be angry at such a proceeding, and that it would be far
better to carry me in alive, and to torment me before they put me to
death.

I told them that they had no proof of my guilt, and that I denied the
accusation of having put anything into the liquor, and that I was
certain that Captain Hawk would acquit me.

They were still threatening me, when the black, who was standing up, on
looking towards the mouth of the harbour, espied two boats pulling out
towards us.  Our comrades must have seen us with their glasses from the
shore, and were coming to our assistance.  They could not possibly be
more than four miles off.  Scarcely had the rest time to discover the
specks they seemed on the water, when I observed a sail just rounding
the west side of the island, and standing, with a fresh breeze, directly
for us.  It was not long before she was discovered by the rest.

She was a large brig, and, from the squareness of her yards, she looked
like a man-of-war.  Down she came rapidly on us, as yet unperceived by
the people in the boats, as a point of high land, covered with trees,
hid her completely from them.  The black jumped up, and watched her,
with lips apart and staring eyeballs, for some time.

"De brig we fought de oder day!" he exclaimed.  "If he see we, den we
all hang."  And he sunk down at the bottom of the boat, intimating to
the rest to follow his example.

I scarcely knew whether to wish that the American brig-of-war--for such
I felt convinced she was--should discover us, or whether we might get
into the harbour unperceived.

In the latter case, the probabilities were that the pirates would put me
to death.  In the former, I ran a great risk of being hung because I was
a pirate; or the boat might drift out to sea, and a lingering death
would be our portion.  Neither alternative afforded a pleasant subject
of contemplation.

The boats from the shore were all this time approaching us.  At last
they saw the topgallant-mast's heads of the brig over the point; but I
suppose they fancied they were those of the _Mary_, for they continued
their course.  In a short time, however, they perceived their mistake;
but the brig had got clear of the land, and they were full in view of
any sharp eyes stationed on her tops.  They directly pulled back, and we
lost sight of them almost immediately.

The brig came on, and at first, after rounding the point, stood on a
course which would have carried her inside of us, but, on discovering
the boat, she again stood towards us.  The fright of all hands in the
boat was excessive, and the bold blustering pirates proved themselves
cowards indeed.  The African was the bravest, for the death he expected
had few terrors for him.  He even had presence of mind sufficient to
suggest that we should invent a plausible tale of having been cast
adrift by the rest of the crew of a ship who had run off with her: All
eagerly grasped at the idea; but before the tale was thoroughly
concocted, the brig was alongside of us, and we were very
unceremoniously hauled on board.

We were immediately taken before the captain and his officers in full
uniform, who stood round him on the quarter-deck.

"What brought you out here?" he demanded of the mate, who from his dress
seemed to be the officer.  Pinto told the tale which had just been
invented.

"And what are those boats doing inshore of us?" was the next question.

"I know nothing of the boats," was Pinto's answer; but the appearance
and dogged manner of my companions had raised suspicions in the minds of
the American officers which were not easily allayed.

Meantime the brig had hauled her wind, and was standing inshore with the
lead going, in the direction the boats had taken.  Officers with sharp
eyes were also stationed at each fore-yardarm to look out for coral
reefs.  The _Foam's_ boats reached the entrance to the lagoon just as
the brig dropped her anchor, it being considered dangerous to approach
nearer the shore.

The brig, I found, was the _Neptune_, Captain Faith.  She was a
remarkably fine vessel, carrying nineteen guns, and had been sent out
expressly to look for the _Foam_.  Captain Faith and his officers were
burning to revenge the insult offered them shortly before by the
schooner.  It appeared that they had, by some means, notice of her
whereabouts, and when they saw the retreating boats, they had little
doubt of the true state of the case.

We were all kept separate from each other, and were questioned one by
one.  What the others said I do not exactly know, but I have reason to
believe that not one of them told the same story, I was the last
interrogated.  "And what have you got to say for yourself?" asked the
lieutenant.

"That I was last night put into this boat with the rest, with my hands
bound behind my back," I replied.

"And you believe that the people who so treated you have run off with
the ship to turn pirates?"

"I do not believe it," I answered.  "I knew the captain, who was a kind
friend of mine, and the ship was his own.  If you ever meet Captain Dean
of the _Mary_, he will corroborate what I say."

"This is a new version of the story," replied the lieutenant.

"It is the true one; of that you may be assured," I replied.  "I would
willingly tell you more, but I cannot, so there is no use questioning
me."

"We shall soon see that," he observed.  "Those who will not speak when
they can, must be made to speak."

I was silent; for if I said more, I was afraid of running the risk of
breaking my oath, by betraying Hawk and his followers.

The attention of all on board was now taken up by the manning of the
boats, which were, I found, to be sent up forthwith, on an expedition in
search of the pirates.  Oh, how I longed to warn the brave men I saw
with such joyful alacrity getting ready, of the great risk they were
about to run!  The schooner, I knew, had ten guns on board, and the
pirates would be able so to place her as to offer a stout resistance, if
not to defeat the man-of-war's boats completely.

Four of the brig's boats were sent away, to which was added the one in
which I had been taken; so that there was a pretty strong flotilla
engaged in the expedition.  Remembering, however, the extreme narrowness
of the passage, I felt that if the pirates landed, and simply fired down
upon their assailants, they might pick every one of them off, without
the slightest risk to themselves.  I was very much afraid of being
compelled to accompany the boats--not that I feared the danger, but I
thought that Hawk would fancy that I did so willingly; and though he
might be defeated and killed, I did not like the idea of his dying with
the impression on his mind that I had betrayed him; or, on the contrary,
if the boats were destroyed, of course I could expect no mercy at his
hands.  With aching eyes I saw them enter the mouth of the lagoon; and
perhaps no one on board felt a greater interest in their proceedings
than I did.



CHAPTER EIGHTEEN.

I was allowed to remain on deck, under charge of a sentry, but was in no
other way treated as a prisoner.  Half-an-hour elapsed, during which the
boats were probably looking for the pirate vessel, without a shot being
heard.  It was a time of the most intense anxiety.  At length, as if to
make amends for the previous silence, the roar of big guns and musketry
was heard reverberating in quick succession among the rocks.  One
fancied that one could distinguish as each boat came up to the contest,
and the schooner fired at her in return.  The wreaths of smoke could be
perceived in the atmosphere, rising above the trees.  Once there was a
cessation; and it appeared that the boats were driven back.  One thing
was certain, the pirates had not attempted to stop them at the narrow
passage, as they might have done; or, if they had, they had successfully
passed it.

Five minutes elapsed--they seemed an hour.  Then again the hubbub
recommenced, with greater fury than before.  So excited did many of the
men, and even the officers, become, that I almost thought they would
leap into the water, and try to swim to shore, to join in the combat.  I
fancied that I could even hear the cries and shrieks of the combatants--
that I could see the whole scene before me, through the trees; the boats
at the mouth of the bight, firing away at the schooner, their officers
cheering the men on; the pirates, stripped to the waist, working the
guns of the schooner, some on board, and others on either point on
shore, with small-armed men scattered in every direction around.  The
prolonged fight made me feel very doubtful of the result of the contest.
There was a pause, and then a loud, fearful explosion, and the masts
and spars and fragments of the pirate schooner could be seen rising in
the air.  She had blown up; but still it might be questioned who were
the victors.

There was another interval of the most intense anxiety.  In vain we
waited for the reappearance of the boats, till the _Neptune's_ people
began to fear that their brave shipmates had been all destroyed.  There
was only one small boat, the dinghy, remaining on board.  The master,
the only gun-room officer left besides the surgeon and purser,
volunteered to go in and look for them.  I was on the very point of
offering to accompany him as pilot, when I remembered that I was
supposed to know nothing of the place.  The commander gave an unwilling
consent, for he did not like to risk more of his people.  He was just
shoving off, when first one boat was seen to emerge from among the
trees, then another, and lastly four appeared--thus one only was
missing.  They pulled slowly on board, and were seen to be heavily
laden.

With a shout of joy and hearty congratulation, they were received
alongside; but the entire satisfaction at the success of the expedition
was somewhat mitigated when it was found that several of their numbers
were missing.  They had brought off ten prisoners, most of whom were
wounded.  Some of the packages which had been taken from the _Mary_ were
also brought on board.  Neither Hawk nor Abraham Jones were among the
prisoners: I therefore concluded that they were killed or had escaped.
The prisoners, to my horror, at once recognised me and the rest of their
comrades, addressing us familiarly by our names, and thus completely
identified us with themselves.  I suppose they did this from a feeling
of revenge, from fancying that we had been the cause of their disaster.
The captain, on this, ordered us all to be secured and treated as
prisoners alike, till he had time to investigate the matter fully.

I heard an account of the expedition from one of the seamen who had been
engaged in it, as he described it to a messmate.  It appeared that the
pirates had at once gone on board the schooner, which they had placed,
just as I supposed they would, directly across the entrance of the
bight.  Here Hawk fought her most bravely, once compelling the boats to
retreat.

On a second attempt to board, she was discovered to be on fire,
notwithstanding which Hawk had remained in the vessel till the last
moment, when, leaping into the boats, he and some of his crew escaped to
the shore.  Many of them, who could not, were blown up.  Fortunately,
one boat's crew only of the Americans had got on board by the stern.
Several of these poor fellows were lost; but, wonderful to relate,
others, by leaping over the taffrail at the moment they felt it lifting
under their feet, were saved and picked up by their friends.  It was
considered useless to pursue the fugitives.  The prisoners taken were
those picked up in the water, and a few found wounded on shore.
Securing them, and attending to the wounded of both parties, as well as
collecting some of the booty, had caused the delay.  The guns, also,
planted by the pirates at the two points of land on either side of the
bight, were spiked and thrown into the water, and all arms found about
were carried off.

Such was the end of the _Foam_; and such will, in every ease, probably
be the concluding scene of piratical craft and their crews now-a-days.
They certainly deserve no better; and although their captains, to rise
to that unenviable post, must possess some of those fiercer qualities
which people are apt to admire, I have no fancy for making them
interesting characters, or heroes of romance.

On hearing that there was a considerable amount of booty on shore, the
captain despatched fresh hands to bring it off.  I longed to caution
them that Hawk, if he was alive, was a man very likely to play them a
trick, but I had no opportunity of doing so till they had gone.  The
boats were sent away, and I was afterwards had up for examination.  I
then, as the schooner was destroyed, no longer felt myself bound by my
oath to keep silence; I therefore gave a rapid sketch of my adventures
as the best way of accounting for being found in such bad company.  The
captain laughed at my statements, which, he said, were altogether
incredible, and assured me that he fully believed that I deserved
hanging as much as the rest.

I assured him that I had not deceived him, and requested him to confront
the negro, Mark Anthony, with me, and that he would corroborate all my
assertions.  Had I known more of the worst part of human nature, I might
not have made this request.  When the black was brought up, he gave a
malicious grin at me, and, putting his hand on his heart, assured the
captain and officers that, as he spoke the truth, I was the most wicked,
vicious youngster on board the schooner, to which he knew that it was
useless to deny that he belonged--that he was perfectly innocent of any
piratical act, having been carried off to act as cook--that he had at
first taken an interest in me, and had done his best to reform me, but
in vain, and that lately he had given my case up as hopeless.

"What do you mean by lately?"  I asked.

"Just de last six months or so," he answered, with the greatest
effrontery.

"I beg, gentlemen, that his answer may be noted; for I hope to be able
to prove that I have not been on board the schooner as many weeks," I
said, with a calm voice, which had, I think, some effect on my hearers.

There was such a mass of false swearing and contradictory evidence taken
during the examination, that the naval officers were compelled to
reserve any judgment on the case till they should arrive in port, when
it might be handed over to the lawyers to sift to the bottom.  Greatly
to my satisfaction, the boats returned laden with further goods taken
from the _Mary_; but it required two more trips before they could all be
brought off.  The task was at last accomplished, without any of the
pirates having made their appearance, and sail was then made to the
northward.

I found that our destination was Charleston, to which port the brig
belonged, and where my trial and that of the other prisoners would take
place.  Had it been New Orleans, I thought I might have been able to
prove that I had gone to sea in the _Susannah_, and Captain Searle might
be found, who would give a favourable account of me.  While I was
thinking of this, I suddenly began to reflect that perhaps Captain
Searle might turn upon me as the African had done, though for a
different reason.  He would be able to prove that I was at New Orleans,
certainly, but then the _Foam_ was there at the same time.  She had
watched, attacked, and robbed him, and taken out of his vessel me and
another person, who, without any unwillingness, had turned pirate, so
that I had perhaps all along been in league with the freebooters, and my
pretended ignorance of Hawk and his craft might have been all sham.  I
might indeed be considered, as the negro declared I was, worse than all
the rest.

As I reflected on these things, I remembered that my destiny was in the
hands of a higher Power; that I had acted rightly according to the best
of my belief; and that He would direct all things for my future good.
This feeling gave me strength to endure the present and confidence in
the future.  I have thus invariably found it in all the affairs of life.
When I have conscientiously done my duty, though inconveniences and
annoyances may have apparently happened in consequence, the end has
always been fortunate when I have been able to arrive at the result.
The consequence of many of our acts, we must remember, is yet in the
eternal future, unfathomed by mortal ken.  To that time we must look
forward for the reward of any of our acts which may be considered by our
beneficent Father worthy of reward; and also to that time (we must not
conceal from ourselves) for punishment for our misdeeds, unless our
Saviour mercifully intercede for us.

Our voyage to Charleston was very rapid.  I certainly was in no hurry to
have it over, when I had so disagreeable a prospect before me as a
trial, and not impossibly an execution.  I was treated with less
harshness than the rest of the prisoners--perhaps on account of my
youth--perhaps because some believed me innocent.  I fain hoped on the
latter account.

At length we arrived.  I will not stop to describe Charleston.  It is a
fine, flourishing city, with a dock-yard, where many of the ships of the
American navy are built.  I saw little of it, for soon after the
_Neptune_ had dropped her anchor I was conveyed with the other prisoners
on shore to jail.

The Americans are as fond, fortunately, of the go-ahead system in law as
they are in everything else.  In the settlements founded by Spain and
Portugal, we might have been kept six months without being brought into
court; here, before as many days were over, our trial commenced.  The
fate of those taken in the schooner was easily settled.  Several
robberies were proved against them; and she was sworn to as the same
vessel which had fired into the brig off the coast of Cuba, and had
there carried the pirate flag, besides having also killed and wounded
several officers and men in the United States navy.

The trial of the people in the boat next came on.  The others swore that
we belonged to the schooner and the negro, in the bitterness of his
feelings against me, had acknowledged the same.  I told my history as my
best defence.

"Ask him if he can swear he no fire de big guns--he no pull and haul--
when we fight de brig," exclaimed the malignant black, perfectly
indifferent to his own fate.  I held my peace.

"Prisoner at the bar, can you swear that you did not aid and abet those
engaged in making unlawful war against the United States brig
_Neptune_?"

"I cannot swear to that, because, in a fatal fit of forgetfulness,
seeing every one excited around me, I might have pulled and hauled at
the ropes of the schooner."

"An acknowledgment of his guilt?" exclaimed the counsel for the
Government; and I, with all the rest, was adjudged to be hung at the end
of the week at the yardarm of the brig which had captured us.  Never was
a nest of more atrocious pirates broken up, said the public papers,
commenting on the trial, and never were men adjudged to meet a more
deserved doom.

Now the reader will almost be prepared to know how I was saved.  I must
own that I never expected to be hung.  I felt that I was innocent, and I
trusted that some means would be offered for my escape.

Just as I was being led out of court, there was a cry of "Witnesses!
witnesses for the trial of the pirates!"  Looking up, I saw several
seafaring men entering the court, and among them two persons whose
appearance at that juncture made my heart leap into my mouth with joy
and gratitude, and proved that the finger of God had directed their
coming.  Need I say that they were Captain Dean and Mary, and that the
other people were the crew of the barque, released from the power of the
pirates by my means?

Their story created a great sensation in court; and Captain Dean was
ready to swear, from his knowledge of me, that I had no willing
participation in any of the acts of the pirates.  My story was now
believed; but I had acknowledged having worked the guns in the action
with the brig, and I had, by the evidence of all present, willingly, and
of my own accord, rejoined the pirates, though every opportunity had
been offered me of escaping.

I urged my oath in extenuation of my conduct, and that I was bound to
return.  This was not held in law to be any excuse.  I had no business
to take an oath of that nature, it was asserted by the counsel for the
Government.  The sentence of death against me was, however, rescinded,
on account of the many extenuating circumstances brought forward in my
favour; but still I could not be set at liberty.

The sentence of the people who had been found with me in the boat was
afterwards commuted to imprisonment for fourteen years; and I was
offered a conditional pardon, provided I would volunteer to serve for
two years on board a ship of war just then about to sail, and short of
hands.

I was sorry to be again thus separated from Captain Dean and Mary; but
as I had no dread of the service, I, without much hesitation, accepted
the offer.  "I will do my duty and retrieve my character," I thought;
"and as, I trust, there is no chance of a war with England, I see no
reason to prevent me."



CHAPTER NINETEEN.

The next day I found myself transferred on board the United States
corvette _Pocahuntas_, of twenty guns, and one hundred and fifty men,
including officers, marines, and petty officers.  I found that she was
bound to the North Seas; to look after the interests of the United
States fisheries.  She was strongly built and strengthened, so as to
contend with the bad weather she might expect to meet, and the loose ice
she was also likely to encounter.  I shall describe her more
particularly by and by.

The day after I had become one of the crew, while I was below, I was
informed that a person was alongside inquiring for me.  I looked over
the side, and there I saw, as I expected, Captain Dean and Mary.  They
came on deck, and Mary was very nearly throwing her arms about my neck
and kissing me, while her father took both my hands and held them in
his.

"I owe everything to you, Peter," he said, and the tears stood in his
eyes--"my life and property, and more, the safety of this dear child;
and I do feel most cruelly not being able to make you any return.  In
England the sovereign would have given you a free pardon to a certainty;
here, in such a case as yours, we have no one to appeal to.  I have
introduced myself to your captain, and, as he seems a kind man, I trust
he will interest himself in you.  I beg to offer you an outfit, which I
have brought on board; and I fear that there is little else I can do for
you.  When you come back I shall be on the look-out for you, and then
you must fulfil your promise of sailing with me.  Make yourself a
thorough seaman in the meantime, and I think I can promise you very soon
the command of a ship."

Mary joined in, and entreated me first to take care of myself, and then
to come back to Charleston to rejoin them.

"You know, Peter, I shall be nearly grown up by that time," she said, in
her sweet, innocent, and lively manner, though she was half crying at
the time.  "Then, you know, if you become first mate, I shall be able to
act as father's second mate; so we shall have quite a family party on
board the dear old ship."

Thus we talked on, joking often through our sorrows, till it was time
for my friends to go on shore.  With heavy hearts we parted.  Had we
been able to see the future, haw much heavier would they have been!  I
found in the chest which they had brought me numberless little things,
which all told of sweet Mary's care and forethought.  I had just time to
write a few hasty lines to my family, but the letter never reached home.
While I was in prison, and my fate uncertain, I dared not write.

The next morning, at break of day, the boatswain's whistle roused me
from my slumbers, and his gruff voice was heard bawling out, "All hands
up anchor," followed with another pipe of "Man the capstan."

To a person accustomed to the merchant service, where, from the few
hands which can be employed, the duty must be carried on slowly and
cautiously, the work on board a man-of-war appears as if done almost by
magic.  The rapidity and certainty of action is gained only by great
arrangement, method, and practice.  Every man on board has his proper
post and particular duties; and all are accustomed to listen for and
obey the signal of command, be it the human voice, the boatswain's pipe,
a peculiar flag, or the report of a great gun or musket.  The crew are
separated into two divisions, with their respective officers: these
divisions are called watches--the starboard and larboard--because one
does duty, or watches, while the other rests below.

On important occasions, when greater strength is required, or it is
necessary to shorten sail in a hurry, or danger is apprehended, both
watches, or all hands, are called.  Thus, getting under weigh, or going
into harbour, or at divisions and quarters, all hands are at their
proper posts at the same time.  Each top has its proper crew, who are
known as fore-top men, main-top men, and mizzen-top men, whose duty is
to tend the sails above them.  On deck there are the sheet-anchor men
stationed on the forecastle, whose duty is to tend the head-sails,
anchors, etcetera, and consequently the most trustworthy veterans are
selected for the office.  In what is called the waist, or the centre of
the ship, the landsmen and least skilful of the crew are placed.  They
have to pull and haul with the marines, and to clean the decks, and to
do various ignoble duties below.  From the part of the ship where they
are stationed, they are called waisters.  The after-guards are stationed
on the quarter-deck, and have to tend the spanker and other after-sails,
and to haul the main brace.

The officers are divided into commissioned officers, namely, the captain
and the lieutenants, the master, surgeon, and purser; the warrant
officers, who are boatswain, gunner, and carpenter, and the midshipmen;
and, lastly, the petty officers, who have their rating given them on
board ship by the captain or first lieutenant, and may be equally
disrated by them.

There are slight variations in the British and United States navies; but
the latter has adhered very closely to the customs of the former; and
however republican our well-beloved cousins may be on shore, afloat they
wisely carry out the principles of an absolute monarchy in the most
perfect manner.

There are certain general duties in which all hands are engaged, and in
which each has a number.  Thus a man has one number at mess, another at
quarters, and another at divisions.  Discipline is everything on board a
man-of-war.  Without it such a mass of people could not possibly be
moved together, and all would be confusion and constant disaster.  There
must be a head to command, either worn by the captain or first
lieutenant.  If the latter is a good seaman, all may go well in spite of
the incapacity of his superior; but a clever captain will never submit
to have a stupid first, so that it is seldom that the office of first
lieutenant is held by other than a good seaman.  It would take up too
much space were I to attempt to describe all the grades and offices on
board a man-of-war.  It will suffice when I state that every man has his
proper place, and that one follows the other in rank, down to the lowest
rated officer.  I was rated as an able seaman, which I considered a high
honour, considering the little knowledge I felt myself to possess, and
was placed in the after-guard.  I had to take my trick at the helm,
which I was also glad of, as it enabled me to perfect myself in
steering.

The commander, Captain Gierstien, was a man who had seen much of the
world, and was, I have reason to believe, a very good seaman; so was Mr
Stunt, the first lieutenant, who was a disciplinarian of the most rigid
school; and certainly the ship was in very good order as a man-of-war.
But there was a sad want of any of the milder influences which govern
human beings.  Kind words and considerate treatment were not to be
found.  This I soon discovered; and it seemed as if a leaden weight were
attached to my heart.  Strict regulations, the cat, and fear did
everything.  How the second lieutenant, Mr Dunning, contrived to gain
his rank I do not know, for he was nothing at all of a practical seaman
but then he spouted poetry, and wrote verses in praise of freedom; and
this talent, I conclude, had gained him his appointment, though, by the
bye, the verses appeared to be very bad.

There were several of my own messmates with whom I became intimate.
Though rough in manner, they were kind of heart; and I will say of two
or three of them, that all their sentiments were such as no gentleman
need have been ashamed of possessing.  I found them both agreeable and
instructive companions; and I was glad to enjoy their friendship, the
more from the very want of kindly feelings which prevailed generally
throughout the ship.  Andrew Thompson was my greatest chum.  He was a
true-hearted seaman, every inch of him.  He had been all his life at
sea, and had had his eyes open, as the saying is, all the time.  He used
to take great delight in describing the countries he had visited, and
the ports and harbours in which he had brought up, as also in giving me
instruction in all branches of seamanship.

My other friend was called Terence O'Connor, an Irishman, as his name
betokens, with all the good qualities generally ascribed to the natives
of that country.  He liked me, as being a countryman, in the first
place; and secondly, because I liked him.  He was still young, and had
nothing of the Mentor about him, like Thompson.  He was brave, and true
as steel.  I should not say that he was a first-rate seaman; but he was
active and energetic, and he knew how to obey--indeed, he was a capital
hand to have as a mate.

There was also an English lad I liked much, Tom Stokes by name.  He was
not very bright, and he used to be sadly bullied by the crew; but as I
was strong, could and did protect him, and his gratitude won my regard.
He had been tolerably well educated; and being fond of reading, with a
retentive memory, he possessed a good deal of information.  Left an
orphan, without a friend in the world, he had come to sea; and quitting
his ship at Charleston, he had entered on board the Pocahuntas.  I
mention these three of my shipmates for reasons which will hereafter be
seen.  I had several other friends, whom I liked more perhaps than Tom
Stokes, and as much as O'Connor, but I need not describe them.

We had fine weather on first putting to sea, and had thus time to let
everything shake into its place before a gale came on.  It was early in
the year, but for some reason or other we were ordered to get northward
as fast as we could.  For the first week we had calms, and then the wind
came ahead, so that our progress was very slow.  Instead of running
through the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, we were to keep on the eastern coast
of Newfoundland, and to approach the northern shore of Labrador.

"You'll want your Flushing jacket and trousers, not forgetting worsted
socks and gloves, my boy, when you get there," said Thompson, who gave
me this information.  "You've never felt anything like the cold, nor
seen anything like the fogs, to be found in those parts."

He told me that few Europeans had settled on the coast of Labrador; but
that some Moravian missionaries were stationed at four or five spots,
for the purpose of converting the Esquimaux to Christianity.  "Those
must be Christians, indeed, to my mind, who will go and live in such a
climate, for the sake of teaching their religion to the ignorant
heathen, who would not otherwise have a chance of having the truths of
the gospel preached to them," he observed; and I agreed with him.  "I've
been told," he continued, "that during the winter the thermometer often
falls 30 degrees below the freezing point; and though the houses of the
missionaries are heated by stoves, the windows and walls are covered all
the time with ice, and the bed-clothes freeze to the walls.  Rum is
frozen in the air as rapidly as water, and rectified spirits soon become
thick like oil.  From December to June the sea is so completely frozen
over that no open water is to be seen.  Once some of the missionaries
ventured, in February, to visit some Esquimaux forty miles distant, and
although wrapped in furs, they were nearly destroyed.  Their eyelids
froze together, so that they were continually obliged to pull them
asunder, and, by constantly rubbing, prevent their closing; while one of
them had his hands frozen and swollen up like bladders.  During their
short summer, however, the heat is excessive; and mosquitoes, in swarms,
infest the air."

"I hope we shall not have long to remain in those regions," I remarked.

"I hope not," said Thompson; "but who can tell?  Ships, when they get
into the ice, cannot always get out again, and some have been frozen up
for several years together; yet, by proper precautions, few of the
people on board have died, and at length have returned to their friends
and country."

"It must be very dreary work, Andrew, having nothing but the ice and
snow to look at for such a length of time together," I remarked.

"I'll tell you what, Peter, when you have lived as long as I have, you
will discover, I hope, that it is not what one sees on the outside, so
much as what is in the inside of a man, which makes him happy and
contented, or the contrary," said Andrew.  "Now I have met several men,
who have passed two winters running in those regions, when the sun was
not to be seen for months together, and ice and snow was all around
them; but the captain and officers being kind, and doing everything to
amuse them and to take care of their health, they assured me they never
enjoyed themselves more in their lives."

"I would rather not try it in our present ship."

"Nor would I, Peter," said Andrew; and the subject dropped.

"What an odd name they have given to our ship!"  I remarked one day,
when Tom Stokes was near; "I cannot think where it comes from."

"Oh, I can tell you, Peter," said Tom, sitting down close to me.  "I
read some time ago a history of North America, and I remember meeting
with the name of Pocahuntas.  You must know that she was an Indian
princess, that is to say, she was the daughter of a powerful chief
inhabiting that part of the country which is now the State of Virginia.
A small body of English, had settled there, with a governor, a handsome
young man, placed over them.  They were cultivating the ground and
building houses in fancied security, when the Indians attacked them,
killed some, and carried off others, among whom was the governor, as
prisoners.  It was the custom of the Indians to torture their prisoners
in the most dreadful way before killing them.  Such was to be the lot of
the governor; but, fortunately for him, he was seen by Pocahuntas, who
instantly fell in love with him, and interceded for his life with her
father.  The prayer was granted, on condition that he would become her
husband.  He was too glad to accept his life on such terms; for the
young lady was very beautiful, and he would thereby form an alliance
with a very powerful tribe, and secure his countrymen from further
molestation.  He became much attached to his beautiful and faithful
bride; and, having succeeded in converting her to Christianity, he
married her according to the rites of the Church.  From this union
sprung some of the most respectable and wealthy families of the State."

I thanked Tom for his story, and agreed that the Princess Pocahuntas
ought to be held in reverence by all true Virginians.  Our conversation
was interrupted by the cry of "All hands, shorten sail!"  We sprung on
deck.  A heavy gale had come on, and the ship was heeling over to her
scuppers under it.  I was aloft in an instant, helping to reef the
mizzen-topsail; the topgallant-sails and courses had been clewed up.

The wind was about north-west, and blew very cold.  The leaden waves
rose sullenly on every side, topped with hissing foam, and every instant
they leaped higher and higher, as if lashing themselves into fury.  The
twilight of evening was just giving way to the gloom of night.  I never
remember a more dismal-looking close to a day.

We had managed to close-reef the mizzen-topsail; but the main-topsail,
which was more difficult to manage, was still bulging out above the
yard, the hands on which it threatened every instant to strike off, as
the ship, with desperate force, kept plunging her bows into the opposing
seas.

"Come, bear a hand with that main-topsail there," exclaimed Mr Stunt
through his speaking-trumpet, "or--"

What he was going to say I know not, for at that instant there arose the
fearful cry of "A man overboard!--a man overboard!"

It sounded like the knell of a fellow-being.  Captain Gierstien was on
deck.  I was near him.

"If I lower a boat I shall lose some other brave fellows," he exclaimed
aloud, though he was speaking to himself.

"We'll gladly risk our lives to save him, sir," cried two or three who
were near him; "it's O'Connor--it's Terry O'Connor!"

"So would I," escaped from my lips.  I had at all events intended to
have volunteered to go in the boat.

"Down with the helm!  Back the main-topsail!" exclaimed the captain in
the same breath.  "Stand by to lower a boat; but hold fast.  Can any of
you see or hear him?"  The ship was hove to, and all hands stood peering
into the loom and trying to catch a sound of a voice.  O'Connor was a
first-rate swimmer, and he was not a man to yield to death without a
struggle--that we knew.

It must be understood that, though several sentences were spoken, not
thirty seconds had elapsed after he had struck the water before the
order to heave the ship to was given.  She was also going but slowly
through the water, though, from the way she was tumbling about, a
landsman might have supposed she was moving at a great rate.

"Does any one see him?" asked the captain.  Alas in that dark night even
the sharpest eyes on board could not discern so small an object as a
man's head floating amid those troubled waters.

"Does any one see him?"  There was a dead silence.  The hopelessness of
the case struck a chill through all our hearts.  Two minutes--three--
passed away.  We continued from all parts of the ship peering into the
darkness--some to windward, others to leeward, and others a stern.  Now
I thought I saw something, but it was the dark top of a wave under the
glistening foam.  Five minutes had elapsed since the accident.  Long
before this the ship must have left him far astern, and he must have
sunk beneath those heavy waves.  Such was the feeling gaining possession
of many.

Again the captain made the final inquiry, "Does any one yet see him?"
An ominous silence gave the sad response.  "Then it is hopeless waiting
longer.  Fill the main-topsail.  Up with the helm."

Scarcely had the captain uttered these words in a loud voice, than a
hand in the main-top hailed the deck with the words, "I hear a voice
from down to leeward, sir."

I had heard it also, I was certain.  It was O'Connor's manly voice.  It
was not a shriek, the death-wail of a struggling wretch, but a bold,
nervous hail.

"Hold fast then with the main-topsail braces," cried the captain.  There
was no need of that order, by the bye.  "Keep the helm down.  Stand by
to lower the starboard quarter boat."  It was the lee one.

"Volunteers, away!"  Several sprung to the falls.  I was among the
first; so was Tom Derrick, an active young topman.  He leaped into the
bow as the boat was being lowered; I into the stern to unhook the after
falls; the rest of the volunteer crew followed.  The boat was lifting
and pitching with fearful violence alongside, to the great risk of being
swamped.  Poor Derrick stood up to clear the falls, I believe, or to
fend off the bow of the boat from the ship's side.  I saw his figure in
an erect position for an instant--the boat's bow pitched into the sea--
the next instant he was gone.  In vain the man close to him tried to
grasp him--he went down like a shot; not a cry was heard, not a sign of
him was again seen.

There was no time to be lost, if we would save O'Connor.  Every moment
the fury of the gale was increasing.  Our oars were out, and over the
foaming sea we pulled in the direction whence the voice had come.  The
ship rose towering astern of us, her dark masts lifting and falling
against the leaden sky.  By her we guided our course.  We thought we
must have reached the spot where O'Connor should have been.

"Be alive, shipmates," said a voice close to us.  "In bow oar, and lend
us a hand."  It was O'Connor's voice.  He was swimming with perfect
composure close to us on the top of a wave, and striking out toward the
bows, so as to avoid the stern.  He was with some little difficulty
hauled on board, for he had not a stitch of clothing on with which we
could catch hold of him.

"Thank ye, shipmates all," he exclaimed, as he sprung into the
stern-sheets.  "But lend us a jacket, some one, will ye? for it's bitter
cold out of the water, and I've left all mine, do ye see, for Daddy
Neptune, when he wants a new rig-out."

A seaman will joke in the midst of a furious engagement, or at other
moments of the greatest peril; and I believe Terence was truly grateful
to the merciful Providence who had so wonderfully preserved him.  We
threw our jackets over him, to shelter him as well as we could, and
pulled back as fast as we were able to the ship.  There was a short time
for talking and hearing how it had happened, as may be supposed.  We had
great difficulty in getting on board again, and it required extreme
caution to prevent the boat being swamped alongside.  At last we reached
the deck, and the boat was hoisted in.

"Why, you haven't got him," said the captain, seeing the same number
come back as had gone away in the boat.

"Yes, sir," we answered; "but poor Derrick has gone;" and we explained
how our other shipmate had been lost.  So there was a sigh and a tear
for poor Derrick; and a cheer and congratulations for O'Connor's
preservation.

Our captain ordered O'Connor at once to his hammock, observing that his
nervous system must have received a great shock, and that he need not do
duty for some days, while the surgeon was directed to see to him.
O'Connor very gladly turned in; and the surgeon feeling his pulse,
prescribed a stiff glass of grog, a style of medicine of which sailors
most approve.  After he was made comfortable, I went and sat by him, and
congratulated him heartily on his preservation.

"Why, you see, Peter, there's an old saying about a man not being able
to drown who is born to finish his career in another way, in which a
rope plays a prominent part; but I hope that's not true in my case.  You
must know, indeed, that when I first struck the water, as I was hove off
the yard, I thought I should escape.  When I came to the top again,
after I had sunk some way down, thinks I to myself, there's no use
trying to swim with all this hamper of clothing about me; so the first
thing I did was to cast it all adrift, and to kick off my shoes.  I had
some difficulty in getting out of my jacket, but I succeeded by treading
the water with my feet the while.  Remember, Peter, always have your
sea-going clothes made loose, so as to be able to throw them off in a
moment.  You never know when you may require to be rid of them.  When I
was free of my clothes, I thought there would be no use striking out and
wearying myself, to try and regain the ship, because I saw that all I
could do would not bring me up alongside her again; so I threw myself on
my back, with my arms folded on my breast, and lay as quiet as a turtle
basking in the sun of Ascension.  You know singing out in the water
tires a man almost as much as struggling with his arms and legs, so I
kept my voice also for when it was wanted.  There was no use, you see,
singing out at that time, because I knew that there would be a noise on
board, and people asking who had gone, and where was.  I heard a cry of
`A man overboard!' just as I came to the surface.  I could see the ship
all the time, and I was glad to find she did not leave me.  I don't mean
to say, Peter, but what my feelings were very awful, for I knew the
difficulty and danger of lowering a boat; but I did not think my
shipmates would ever desert me, without trying to pick me up.  There I
lay, then, tossing on the seas, and looking at the ship.  I hoped I
should be observed, for I heard the captain ask, `Does any one see him?'
I being to leeward of the ship, his voice reached me; but I did not
expect to make any one hear on board.  How long the time appeared!  At
last I heard the order given to fill the main-topsail.  `Now or never,'
I thought; and just as I rose on the summit of a wave, I leaped as high
as I could, and sung out at the very top of my voice.  Never did I shout
louder, for it mattered nothing if I burst my lungs, if I was not heard.
How thankful I felt when I heard the order given to lower a boat!  My
advice to you, Peter, is, `Always keep your presence of mind, and, while
life remains, never despair.'"



CHAPTER TWENTY.

The _Pocahuntas_ continued on her course to the northward, with variable
weather.  I believe we had got a considerable way to the eastward of
where we should have been; but of that I have no certain knowledge, as a
foremast man has no means of ascertaining the ship's position, except
when she makes the land, unless the officers choose to tell him.  At
last a fine westerly breeze sprung up, and we went gaily along.

Now, however incredible what I am going to relate may appear especially
as happening to O'Connor, yet it is, I can assure my readers, perfectly
true.  Terence had been sent on the fore-topgallant-yard--what to do I
do not recollect, for I was aft at the time--when by some means or other
he lost his hold and fell over the yard.  Another man, who was on the
yard and saw him fall, ejaculated, "Poor Terence, this time it's all
over with him!"

Falling from that height on the deck, his brains would inevitably have
been dashed out of his head; but, as he fell, the hitherto sluggish wind
filled the foresail, on the bulge of which, at the very instant his body
striking, it was thrown with considerable force forward right into the
sea.  As before, Terence preserved his consciousness, or, at all events,
recovered it as he struck the water.  He struck out bravely alongside
the ship.

"Heave us a rope, shipmates," he sung out.  I ran to the side, and was
just in time to throw him a rope as he dropped past.  He caught hold of
it, and hand over hand he hauled himself on board into the
mizzen-chains.  From thence jumping into the waist, he shook himself
dry, like a Newfoundland dog, and went forward again to his duty, as if
nothing had happened.

"Peter," he observed afterwards to me, when we were together, "if I
never had any religion before, I think I should have some now.  You see,
when I felt myself going, I thought it was all up with me, and never was
so surprised in my life as when I found myself in the water.  Tell me,
Peter, do you think it was God who made the foresail belly out at the
moment it did?"

"I think it was by His will it so happened," I answered.  "I don't think
chance did it."

"But do you think He would take the trouble to look after such a poor
fellow as I am?" he asked.

"A sparrow, we are told by the Bible, falls not to the ground that He
knows not of," observed Andrew Thompson, who had sat himself down near
us.  "Then don't you think, messmate, He would look after a human being,
with a soul to be saved?"

"I feel that He preserved my life; but I don't understand it," replied
Terence.

"No, messmate, none of us can understand His mysteries.  We see the
earth and the sky and sea--the sun and moon rise and set--we feel the
wind blow, and the snow and the rain fall.  But we cannot comprehend how
all this is ordered, though we must acknowledge that it is for our good;
and we feel that the power of the Ruler of all is so much greater than
we can understand, that it is hope less to attempt it.  But I say,
messmate, that is no reason why we should not believe that all these
things are; but, on the contrary, that God, who creates and cares for
the smallest birds, watches over us also."

We both acknowledged the truth of Andrew's creed; and let me assure my
young friends that a blessed comfort it was to us afterwards, when
dangers, such as few have surmounted, surrounded us.

We continued standing to the northward; and, as far as we could learn,
we were considerably to the eastward of Newfoundland.  The change of
temperature made us glad of warm clothing; but as yet there was no cold
to be complained of.  We might have guessed that we were approaching the
arctic regions, by the character of the numberless sea-fowl which at
times surrounded us.  We were now, I believe, in latitude 54 degrees or
55 degrees; but I am uncertain, from the reasons I before stated.

Our officers had their guns on deck, and amused themselves by shooting
as many of the birds which came in their way as they could; but my
messmates called them by the various names of shearwaters, boatswains,
kittiwakes, dovekies, Mollymokes or Mollies, gulls, buntings, and many
others, whose names I forget.  Those the officers did not want were
given to the crew, who were in no ways particular as to the nature of
the fresh meat they could procure.  The shearwaters especially we found
very good, particularly when made into pies.  For the purpose of
enabling us to make crust, a greater quantity of flour than usual was
served out.  At first our pies had a very oily and fishy taste; but
Andrew showed us that this fishy flavour is confined to the fat, the
whole of which is under the skin, and chiefly near the thighs.  By
carefully skinning the birds, they tasted like ordinary land-fowl; and
before the officers found out the secret, we had a capital pie every day
for dinner.

Our most constant companions were the Mollies; for which bird the North
Sea men have as great an affection and veneration as sailors round the
Cape of Good Hope have for Mother Carey's chickens or the superb
albatross: They have an idea that the spirits of the brave old Greenland
skippers, the successors of the fierce sea-kings, have, when quitting
their mortal frames, entered these fleet denizens of the air, still
desirous to wander over the scenes of their former exploits.  They are
very strong and graceful on the wing and though they scarcely seem to
move their gracefully-rounded pinions, they can fly in the teeth almost
of the fiercest gale--now swooping into the dark troughs of the sea--now
skimming over the white foaming crests.  They seldom, except during calm
and moderate weather, alight on the water, being ever constant on the
wing; and they will fly so close to the ship, that I have fancied I
could catch them with my hand.

One calm evening, as I was stationed on the poop, one of these birds,
with noiseless wing, came flying so close to me that he almost brushed
my nose; but before I could lift my hand to catch him, he was gone.
Several times some of the pretty little snow-buntings attempted to
alight on our rigging; but, like thistle-downs, before they could reach
it, they were blown to leeward, and, exhausted and weary, were soon
overwhelmed by the waves.

We had fishing-lines on board; and one day, the wind being light, we
were told we might try them, when, to our no small satisfaction, we
caught some excellent cod and halibut.  We were, in fact, passing over a
fishing-bank.

The weather now altered for the worse.  Sleet, fog, and rain succeeded
each other with unvarying rapidity, with an addition generally of a
strong gale, coming from the north round to the north-west.  For two
days it was impossible to lay our course, so we remained hove to, hoping
for an abatement of the storm.

I am now coming to one of the most perilous incidents of my life.  I
think I said that Thompson, O'Connor, Stokes, and I were in the same
watch, though we were stationed in different parts of the ship.  It had
been blowing very hard from the northward during the day; but towards
the evening it moderated a little, and the ship was carrying her three
whole topsails close-hauled, and looking up to the north-east.  No moon
or stars were visible, for heavy masses of clouds covered the sky, and
seemed to descend till they filled, as it were, the whole space between
sky and ocean.

There were look-outs stationed forward, though, as we were supposed to
be in the open sea, no danger of any sort was apprehended.  Other ships
might, by possibility, be crossing our course, but that was not likely;
and if, by any wonderful chance, we came near each other, we should
probably see and be seen in time to prevent a collision.  The larboard
watch, to which I belonged, and of which Mr Dunning, the second
lieutenant, was officer, had the first watch, namely, from eight o'clock
till midnight.  At four bells, or ten o'clock, it came to my turn to
take my trick at the helm.  The weather had become bitterly cold; so I,
with the rest, had donned all the warm clothing we could command.  I had
on a flannel shirt and drawers, with worsted hose and comforter, and
over all a thick Flushing jacket and trousers; a Welsh wig, under a
south-wester, covered my head, and a thick pair of lined boots my feet,
while my hands were encased in woollen mittens--so that I little cared
for the inclemency of the weather, provided I had not to face it.  This
I had to do while at the helm; and I remembered Andrew's account of the
Moravian missionaries having their eyelids frozen together, and thought
mine would suffer in the same manner.

To say that the night was very dark would not give an idea of the inky
obscurity in which we appeared to be sailing.  One could scarcely see
one's hand with one's arm held out at full length; and as for discerning
anything ahead, that appeared impossible.  I say appeared, because there
is much difference having something to look at and nothing.  In the
latter case you fancy, because you see nothing, that nothing could be
seen if it were there.  I heard Mr Dunning, as he passed me,
apostrophising the night as dark as Erebus.

The quarter-master, who was conning the ship, was continually
exclaiming, "No higher," as I kept her luffing up into the wind, unable
to see the shaking of her canvas, which rose dark and towering above me,
till it seemed to be lost in the clouds.  Indeed, as we sailed on, we
seemed literally to be sweeping the sky with our mast-heads.  Thus we
ploughed our way, ignorant of what was ahead, through the boiling seas
during the whole time I had the wheel.

I had just been relieved, and was finding my way forward, knocking my
hands against my sides to warm them, when there was a loud cry from the
look-out men of "A ship ahead, standing right for us under all sail."

"Under all sail--impossible, in a night like this!" exclaimed the
officer of the watch, rousing himself from a reverie.

"Luff all you can luff, and we may weather her," cried the voice from
forward, in a tone which showed the emergency of the case; but the
lieutenant had seen what he thought was a sail, and exclaimed, "Keep her
away--hard up with the helm--hard up."  The commands of the officer were
obeyed; the spokes of the wheel were turned a-weather; the ship, falling
off, felt the full force of the gale, and flew with redoubled speed
through the water.

Andrew Thompson, who was standing next to me, had been peering into the
gloom ahead.  "A sail!" he exclaimed: "that's no sail, but an iceberg--I
see its light.  We might have weathered it; but now we are on it--and
Heaven have mercy on our souls!"

As he spoke, a loud, fearful crash was heard--the stout ship shook and
trembled in every timber.  I was thrown, as were all near me, to the
deck with stunning force.  Shrieks and cries arose from every part of
the ship; and the watch below, in their consternation, came hurrying up
on deck, many without their clothes, others with them in their hands.
All was dismay and confusion; while the terrific noise of the wind, and
the sea dashing over the ship, and the ship striking against the iceberg
(for an iceberg it was in truth against which we had struck), added to
the cries of the people, the groans of the ship, and the creaking and
crashing of the masts, almost drowned the voices of the officers, who
were rushing here and there as they came from their cabins, in a vain
endeavour to restore order.  Many of the people in their fright sprung
overboard, and were instantly swallowed up by the waves.  The ship rose
and fell with tremendous force as the sea lifted her, and the loud
crashing forward showed that her strong bows had been stove in.  The
fore-mast went by the board, the heel probably lifted right out of its
step.  Then a terrific cry arose that the ship was sinking, and that all
was lost.

The sergeant of marines, a rigid disciplinarian, had at the first alarm
collected his men, and by the command of the captain brought them, with
their arms in their hands, on the quarter-deck, ready to enforce his
orders.  No sooner was the cry raised that all was lost, than many
rushed forward, with the intention of getting on the iceberg.

"Let no man quit the ship," shouted the captain through his
speaking-trumpet.  "Beat to quarters, marines; fire on any who attempt
to leave the deck."

Andrew Thompson, O'Connor, and Stokes were close to me, just abreast of
the fore-mast.  Andrew looked round when he heard the bows of the ship
being stove in.  "My lads," he exclaimed to us three, "the ship won't be
many minutes more above water; so if you'd have a chance for your lives,
follow me."

This he said just as the captain had ordered the marines to fire on any
who should quit the ship.  We did not stop to see whether they would
obey or not, but, jumping on the forecastle, ran along the bowsprit and
down by the dolphin-striker--a spar which hangs perpendicularly under
the bowsprit--from whence we dropped down one by one on to a part of the
iceberg which the waves did not reach.  The ice was very rough, and we
were thus enabled to scramble up perfectly clear of the sea.

Several others attempted to follow our example; and the marines, even at
that awful moment, obedient to their orders, commenced firing on them.
By the flashes of their muskets, as well as from three or four guns,
which the gunner and his crew had time to discharge, the whole dreadful
scene was disclosed for an instant, never to be erased from my memory:
The ship, with her bow run high upon the berg; her tall masts, with
their yards and sails going by the board; the dark ocean and the
white-crested seas dashing over her stern, amid which stood a mass of
human beings, in all the attitudes of agonised despair and dismay,
except those few drilled to obedience, who knew not the danger.  Then,
again, above our heads, rising to the clouds, the white shining iceberg,
which at every flash seemed to glow with flames of fire--the bright
light reflected from pinnacle to pinnacle, and far into the caverned
recesses of its stupendous sides.

Can I ever forget the dreadful despairing shriek which rent the skies,
as the bow lifting high in the air, it seemed, the stern sank down, even
at the instant the marines fired their last volley: it was a volley over
their own graves!  Slowly the proud ship glided from the icy rock, on
which she had been wrecked, down into the far depths of the ocean.  Soon
all were engulfed beneath the greedy waves.  No helping hand could we
offer to any of our shipmates.  The taller masts and spars followed,
dragged down by the sinking hull; and in another instant, as we gazed
where our ship had just been, a black obscurity was alone before us.  I
say we, for I saw that others were near me; but who they were I could
not at the time tell.  I called out, and Andrew's voice answered, "Is
that you, Peter?  I am glad you've escaped, lad.  Who is there besides?"

"I'm here, Andrew, thanks to Providence and your advice," cried Terence.

"And so am I; but I don't think I can hold on much longer," exclaimed
poor Tom Stokes, who had fallen on his side and hurt himself.  Terence
and I, who were near him, on this grasped hold of him, and dragged him
up to the broad ledge on which we were seated, from the rough points of
ice--to which he had been clinging.  We then all huddled together as
close as we could, to keep ourselves warm.

"Perhaps there may be some one else saved," observed Andrew; so we
shouted at the top of our voices, "Shipmates, ahoy! are any of you
there?"  We listened.  The only answering sound was the lashing of the
waves against the base of the iceberg; and we were convinced that, out
of that gallant crew, who lately trod the deck of the beautiful ship
which was now, fathoms down beneath our feet, we four were the only
beings left alive.



CHAPTER TWENTY ONE.

I can scarcely picture the horrors of that night.  I would fain, indeed,
forget them, but that is impossible.  We had preserved our lives for the
present moment; but what could we expect beyond, but starvation in its
worst form?  We had also read and heard enough of icebergs to know that,
as they are driven to the southern latitudes, their bases, immersed in
water much above the freezing-point, rapidly melt, and huge fragments
being dislodged, they are suddenly reversed, creating a tumult as if a
huge mountain were plunged into the ocean.

"If we have to stay here long, we shall be frozen to death," said poor
Stokes, his teeth chattering with cold and fear.  He was the only one of
us who had got wet.  "Trust in Providence, lad," said Andrew solemnly.
"He has wonderfully preserved us thus far.  He will not desert us,
unless it be His good pleasure that we should die; and then we must:
meet our fate like reasoning men, thanking Him for His especial mercy
that He has given us time to repent of our sins, and has not hurried us,
as He has our shipmates, into eternity without a moment's warning."

"Should I never have another opportunity, I thank you now, Andrew, for
making me think of such things in the way you have done," exclaimed
Terence, from the fulness of his heart.  "Had it not been for you,
shipmate, I should not have seen the finger of God in the various ways
in which He has been pleased to preserve me, and I should have died the
ungrateful, unthinking wretch I had hitherto lived."

"I have been but an humble instrument in His hand, Terence," answered
Andrew, in his usual calm, humble tone.  "You see, I should be very
wrong, and very wicked indeed, if, knowing what is right, I did not take
every opportunity, when there was no fear of discrediting religion, to
teach my shipmates."

"You spoke to me at a proper time, Andrew; and your words had, I hope, a
right effect," I observed.

"And to me also," said Tom; "and I thank you."

"Well, shipmates, bad as we are off, and worse as we may be, I don't
feel unhappy when I hear you say those words; that I can tell you,"
exclaimed Andrew.  "It's a joyful thing for a man, when he has seen the
sun rise for the last time, to feel that there is a chance of some few
things being scored in his favour in the world to which he's bound.  But
mind you, I don't say it's what I would pride myself on, for I know that
the most one can do may count as nothing; but still it's pleasant, and
nothing can make it otherwise."

Strange as it may seem, thus we talked on.  Indeed, what other subject
could we talk on but religion? for every moment we felt that we might be
in the presence of our Maker.  As Andrew warned us, the shock the
iceberg had received by the ship striking against it might have detached
what are called calves, great lumps from the bottom, and, should the
gale increase, it might capsize in an instant.

We had many hours to wait for daylight.  We were so well clothed, from
its having been our watch on deck, that we did not feel the cold
particularly; but poor Tom continued to suffer.  Fortunately Andrew
discovered in his pocket his pipe with some tobacco, and a flint and
steel.  He lighted the pipe, and let Tom have a smoke, which revived and
warmed him, and we then all took a few whiffs round.  This little luxury
seemed to do us much good.  We sheltered Tom as much as we could from
the wind with our bodies; and we wrung out his wet jacket, and chafed
his hands and feet till the circulation was restored.  The night,
however, seemed interminable.  To favour us still further, the wind
fell, and shifted further to the south, which made it much warmer.  The
sea also went down, for it did not seem to lash with such fury as before
our floating resting-place.

"What chance have we of escaping?"  I asked of Andrew, after a
lengthened silence.

"There may be some of the wreck cast up on the berg, and with it we may
make a raft, and reach the coast of Newfoundland or Labrador; or the
berg itself may be driven ashore, but that I do not think at all likely;
or we may be seen by some ship and taken off.  I know of no other
possible chance of escape."

"Then I trust we may be seen by some ship," I ejaculated.  "There must
be many whalers in these parts."

"They keep farther to the eastward, generally," replied Andrew.  "They
are also not fond of icebergs, and try to avoid them."

I own that, seeing him so calm and collected, I fancied he must have
some hopes of deliverance, by means of which we were ignorant; so I
asked him whether he thought we should find any food to support us.

"I have often heard of people finding means of subsistence when in as
bad a condition as we are," he replied.  "Providence has decreed that
man should require food to support life; and therefore the air and the
sea, as well as the earth, afford him food.  Even in the cold regions of
the north there is an abundance; and the very food which we could
scarcely manage to digest in the south is there wholesome and palatable.
In the plains of Asia, for instance, where the earth affords the
greatest produce, the people care to eat little besides fruit and corn;
while in the land of the Esquimaux, where neither fruit nor corn can
grow, they thrive on whale's blubber, the flesh of bears and wild-fowl."

"Perhaps we may catch some wild-fowl in the morning," I observed.

"Perhaps we may; but I think we should hear them if there were any
perched about the berg, and I have been listening for some time for them
without hearing a sound."

By this remark of Andrew's I knew that he had been considering how we
should support life, though he was prepared for the worst; and also,
probably, how we had best act under all the circumstances which might
occur.  I might have sailed with Andrew for a long time, in calm
weather, without discovering the real heroic qualities which, under his
rough exterior, he possessed.

Morning at last dawned; and what a change from the previous day!  Then,
all had been storm and gloom; now, all around was calm, beautiful, and
bright.  Before the sun rose, the whole eastern sky was glowing with an
orange tinge; while every fleecy cloud around was tinted with gold and
red, orange, or pink, and every conceivable intermediate hue; while the
clear portions of the sky itself were of the purest and most ethereal
blue--the whole sea glowing with the same varied and beautiful colours.
But still more beautiful and wonderful seemed the vast mountain of ice
on which we floated, as in every fantastic form it appeared, towering
above us.  The pinnacles and turrets of the summit were tinted with the
glowing hues of the east; while, lower down, the columns and arches
which supported them seemed formed of the purest alabaster of almost a
cerulean tint; and a round us, on either side, appeared vast caverns and
grottoes, carved, one might almost suppose, by the hands of fairies, for
their summer abode, out of Parian marble, their entrances fringed with
dropping icicles, glittering brilliantly.

It is not to be wondered at, if we did not admire the enchanting
spectacle as much as it deserved, for we could not forget that we were
floating on an iceberg, in the middle of the North Sea; but still the
scene made an impression on my mind which I shall not forget.  We had
struck on the lowest and least precipitous side of the iceberg, there
being a wide flat space some distance above the water, with one ledge
rising above the other, for some way up,--so that we had ample room to
walk about; nor was the ice so slippery as to cause us much fear of
tumbling into the water.  I had heard a rippling noise during the night,
and could not conceive whence it came; but now, on looking around, I
perceived that it was caused by a small cascade, which, from the ice at
the top continually melting, came trickling down the side.

"We shall have fresh water, at all events, in abundance," I observed to
Andrew, who had awoke from a sleep into which he, with our other
companions, had fallen.

"Yes, Peter; and from what I see not far off, if I mistake not, we shall
have food also," he added, pointing to a dark object which lay on a
ledge below us, a little way to the left.

"If looks like an animal of some sort," I exclaimed.  "But I am afraid
it will be off before we can catch it.  Shall we run down and secure
it?"

"I have no fear on that score," he replied; "it is a seal, and from the
way it is lying, it is, I suspect, dead.  Indeed, a live animal would
not have got on the ice so early in the morning.  They are now feeding,
and love to come out of the water to bask at noon in the sun.  We will
wake up Terence and Tom, and get them to help to drag it up out of the
reach of the sea.  It will probably not be very palatable, though it
will doubtless serve to keep us alive.  But before we commence the work
of the day, let us return thanks to Heaven for having preserved us
through the great perils of the past night."

We roused up our companions; and I believe did most sincerely offer up
our thanksgiving for the mercy which had been shown us in saving us out
of so many from destruction.  We then, with care to avoid falling into
the sea, descended to where the body of the seal had been thrown.  The
animal was dead, but it was quite fresh, and had probably been cast up
that very night; at all events, it could not have been there long.

"I doubted not that God would send us food.  This did not happen by
chance," said Andrew.  We found that we could not drag the entire body
of the seal up to the higher ledge, so we cut thin slices out of it,
hoping by drying them in the sun to preserve them longer.  We first
skinned it carefully, as Andrew showed us that by stretching out the
skin it would afford us some little shelter at night.  Having collected
a supply of food to last us for many days, we dragged the remainder of
the carcase out of the reach of the waves, and carried the meat to the
upper ledge.

"Now, my lads," said Andrew, who took the lead in everything, we
willingly obeying him, "it is very right to secure some food for
ourselves in the first place; but as we shall none of us have a fancy
for spending the rest of our days here, we'll look out to see if there's
a ship in the offing, and if so, to make some signal to attract her
notice."

We all agreed; and before attempting to eat some of the seal, for which,
indeed, we had little fancy, we set to work to climb to one of the
highest pinnacles of the berg.  We found it impossible to reach the
highest, but we got some way up; and not a sail was to be seen as far as
the eye could reach on the part of the horizon visible to us.  Our climb
had shown us, however, a considerable portion of the lower part of the
berg, and we observed several things lying about, evidently cast there
by the waves.  We immediately descended to secure them.

There was a hen-coop with some chickens in it, and though they were
drowned, they were very acceptable; there were two boarding-pikes, a
boat-sail, and several spars and bits of rope, which had been lying in
the boats or on the booms.  These were all treasures, and, collecting
them, we carried them up to our ledge.  There were also fragments of
wood and chips washed from the cook's galley, and bits of quarter-boat
which had gone to pieces with the first sea.  These latter we dried in
the sun, and afterwards kindled with them a small fire, over which we
cooked two of our fowls, and dried the seal's flesh for future use.  We
without difficulty ate the fowls, but had not yet got up an appetite for
seal-flesh.

"We might be worse off, there's no doubt about it," observed Terence;
"and it strikes me, Andrew, that what with the hen-coop and the spars,
we might build a sort of a raft which would keep us afloat a short time,
should the berg take to making a somerset?"

"I was thinking of the same thing," was Andrew's reply.  "They will form
but a small raft; but if the berg drives anywhere near shore, it will,
at least, enable us to reach it.  The sooner we set about making it the
better.  It will keep us off the cold ice in the meantime, and by
rigging the boat's sails on the pikes, we shall be sheltered from the
wind; and, my lads, let me tell you, we might be much worse off, so let
us be thankful."

This conversation took place while we were making our breakfast.
Instead of tea, we knocked off, with the boarding-pikes, lumps of ice,
which we ate, and found perfectly fresh.  This, Andrew explained, arose
either from the iceberg having been formed of the accumulation of the
snow of many winters on the coast of Greenland, and thus having been
always fresh; or if formed out of salt water, from the ice, when
freezing, having ejected the saline particles.  He told us that water,
when freezing, has the property of purifying itself, and of squeezing
out, as it were, all extraneous or coarse matter.

Our not over-luxurious repast being finished, Andrew proposed our
attempting again to ascend the berg to plant a signal-post and flag to
attract the notice of any passing ship.  Terence was for spreading out
the boat's sail; but Andrew reminded him that on the white iceberg that
would not be readily seen, and advised our fastening our coloured
handkerchiefs together instead.

"We must first, however, get to the top of the berg," said Terence;
"and, to my mind, these boarding-pikes will serve us a good turn."

No sooner thought of than tried.  With the boarding-pikes we chopped
steps out of the side, where it was too precipitous to surmount without
such aid; and by fixing the pikes below us, we shoved ourselves up with
them.  In this manner, after considerable labour, we reached a high
pinnacle of the berg.  It was not broad enough for us to stand on
without fear of falling off, so we sat astride on it while we chopped a
hole deep enough to fix one of the spars in, which we had hauled up for
the purpose.  At the top we secured four red cotton handkerchiefs,
which, as they blew out, might be seen at a considerable distance.  We
beat the ice tightly round the heel of the spar, and it appeared to
stand firmly and well.

"Now, on whatever side of the berg a ship approaches, it will be seen
that some human beings are on it," observed Andrew, as we prepared to
descend, having first carefully surveyed the horizon on every side.

At this juncture we had a loss, which caused us great dismay, and, we
thought, would prove a very serious inconvenience.  After lighting the
fire, Andrew had put the flint and steel into his jacket pocket, along
with his handkerchief, on drawing out which they were jerked out also,
and before we could catch them, they had fallen over the steep side of
the berg.  Away they bounded, from ledge to ledge, till they fell into
the sea.  Had they lodged in any crevice, one of us might probably have
attempted to recover them, and should very likely have fallen into the
sea in so doing; so, as Andrew observed, all was for the best.  It was
fortunate, we observed, that we had dried some of our seal's flesh, or
we should have had to eat it quite raw.

We now descended, and commenced at once to form our raft.  We had few
materials, and our only tools were the knives and the heads of the
boarding-pikes.  We first made a framework of the spars; and then,
knocking the hen-coop to pieces, we nailed the planks on to the top,
securing the whole fabric more firmly with ropes.  When completed, as we
looked at it, we agreed that it was a very small ark to support four
people on the stormy ocean.

"I don't think it will have to float me, shipmates," said poor Tom, who
had not recovered his hurt.  "I feel as if I could not weather out
another night like the last."

"On you'll do well enough, lad," answered Andrew, in a kind voice.
"Your clothes will be dry, you'll have a dry plank to lie on, and a roof
over your head.  You'll do yet, trust to me."  These encouraging words
had an immediate effect on Tom's spirits, and we heard no more of his
complaints.

We had observed, as we sat on the top of the berg, several articles
floating round the base, and some lodged in crevices which we had not
before discovered.  Our raft being completed as far as our materials
would go, I volunteered to try and get hold of some of the things.  To
do this with safety, I begged my shipmates to hold one end of a line,
which we had formed out of the various pieces collected, while the other
I secured round my body.  By keeping the line always tight, I was able
to lean over the edge and pick up several things in the water.  The
first was a bucket, in sound condition.  This was valuable, as it would
contain fresh water, and prevent the necessity of our chewing the cold
ice, which chilled us extremely.  Then I found some more spars, and the
fragments of one of the boats, which must have been stove in and got
adrift before the ship went down.  These enabled us to increase our raft
to a size which afforded us hope that it might support us in our
necessity.

When I was tired, Terence followed my example, and also added to our
store of valuables.  As he was hunting about, almost out of sight, among
the rougher parts of the berg, we heard him sing out, "A prize! a
prize!" and, standing up, he held aloft an iron pot with the cover on.
The cover had been jammed tightly down, so that it had floated like a
buoy.

"There is something in it, though," he observed, shaking it; and, on
getting off the cover, we discovered a piece of beef ready for cooking.
It had evidently floated out of the cook's galley.

"I quite forgot, though, that we had no means of lighting a fire; so,
after all, it won't be of any use," sighed Terence, after we had all
four collected again on our raft.

"Don't be so sure of that," said Andrew.  "I have seen a fire kindled by
means which few people would think of, but I am not quite certain that I
can manage it; however, I'll try.  It's worth the experiment; for if we
can light a fire, we may make some soup, which will do us all good."

Saying this, he climbed some way up the berg, where he knocked off a
pure piece of ice from one of its sparkling pinnacles.  We all sat
round, wondering what he was going to do.  With the boarding-pike he
carefully chopped the lump, till he had made it into a thick circular
cake; then he pared away the edges, and afterwards commenced operations
with his knife, scraping away, till he had formed both sides into a
perfect convex shape.  Lastly, he took it between his mittens, and
rubbed it round and round till he turned it out with a fine polish.

"There," he said, "there is a fine burning-glass for you."

"A burning-glass!"  I answered, laughing.  "A piece of ice shaped like a
burning-glass; but you will never get anything like fire out of that, I
should think!"

"I should think not," said Terence, but not in the same positive way
that I had spoken; for he had, justly, a great respect for everything
Andrew did.

"Give me your hand here, then," said Andrew to me.  I took off my mitten
and gave it him willingly.  He looked at the sun, which was shining
brightly, and held the ice between it and my hand.  I saw a little
bright spot appear on my hand; but I thought nothing of that, till,
feeling an acute sensation of burning, I snatched my hand away in a
hurry, to the amusement of my companions.

"I thought it would answer," exclaimed Andrew triumphantly.  "I saw the
master of a whaler I was once on board make several like this, and play
the same trick to his people I played you; and he afterwards explained
that any perfectly transparent substance in a convex shape--that is,
bulging out like this--will collect the rays of the sun, and form a
burning-glass.  But now, while the sun is out, and before our
burning-glass melts, let us light a fire and boil our soup."

The chips we had collected very rapidly dried; so we soon had a fire
kindled by this unexpected means.  The soup refreshed us wonderfully;
but we were very sparing of it, by Andrew's advice; for we could not
tell how long we might have to remain without means of obtaining more
food.

Thus passed away our first day on the iceberg, without a sail appearing
in the horizon to afford us a hope of rescue.



CHAPTER TWENTY TWO.

That night, overcome by fatigue, strange as it may seem, we all slept
soundly.  The sun again rose, and discovered us still floating in safety
on our unstable resting-place.  The day passed much as the former one
had done.

We had been actively employed during the greater part of it, and
therefore, in spite of our extraordinary position and the deep anxiety
we felt for our future fate, we were all able to sleep, if not very
soundly, at least for some hours, when the third night closed in upon
us.  I need not say that Andrew offered up our prayers aloud for
deliverance to the Great Being who had hitherto so mercifully preserved
us.

I dreamed, it seemed to me, all night long.  Sometimes I was at home
with my father and mother and sweet sisters, and they were all laughing
and talking, while we stood at the window of the dining-hall and looked
out at the beautiful and familiar prospect before it.  Someone was
describing to them some adventures very similar to mine; but I felt that
I could have nothing to do with them, for I was still, I knew, on an
iceberg in the Northern Ocean, likely any moment to be overwhelmed
beneath it.  Then I thought a ship appeared, and Captain Dean was at the
helm, and that sweet Mary, dressed in white, and looking like a seraph,
stood on the forecastle waving to me to come off to them.  I, of course,
could not move, for my feet were jammed into a hole in the ice, and I
struggled in vain to drag them out.  On a sudden a storm arose, and Mary
shrieked; and even her father turned pale, as the ship rose on the tops
of the angry billows, and rolled over and over, bow foremost, till she
was lost to my sight in the distance.  I cried out with terror, and my
own voice awoke me, when I found that my feet were projecting beyond the
shelter of the sail, and were bitterly cold.

I got up to warm them by stamping them up and down, and the noise awoke
my companions.  They naturally told me to lie down and be quiet; but the
night was so fine and calm, that I said I would go a little way from
them not to disturb them, and would walk up and down for an hour or so.
I had no fancy for any more of those dreadful dreams, and I felt that
the exercise would do me good.  As I looked out on the tranquil,
dark-shining sea, in which the glittering stars floating, so it seemed,
in the blue ether above me were reflected as in a mirror, all sorts of
strange fancies came into my head.  I remembered all I had read or heard
of mermen and mermaids, of ocean monsters and sea-spirits, and I could
scarcely persuade myself that I did not see some gliding before me.
Certainly I could hear them: now there was a distant roar, now a loud
snorting noise near me; there were voices wandering through the air, and
strains of sweet music seemed to come up from the deep.  I was almost
positive I could hear music: sweet and faint and soft as a seraph's
sigh, it came down to my ear on the gentle wind.  I would on no account
have missed listening to that enchanting melody.

For a long time I continued gazing on the sea without feeling any
inclination to sleep, when I fancied that I saw the dark sails of a ship
about a mile off, and directly to windward of us.  I peered into the
darkness to assure myself, for I did not like causelessly to arouse my
companions.  How eagerly I looked may be supposed.  If there was a ship
where I supposed, the music I had heard must have come from her.  At
last I was almost confident that there was a ship; but as I had my
doubts, I went back to Andrew and touched his arm.

"Andrew," I said, trembling all over in my eagerness, "I do not wish to
raise false hopes, but look out there and tell me what you see."

"See, lad!--why, a sail; there's no doubt of it," he exclaimed
hurriedly.  "A barque-rigged vessel standing on a bowline to the
north-west.  She's a whaler, I suspect; but how to make the keenest ears
on board hear us, is a puzzle."

We called Terence and Tom, who instantly sprung to their feet and joined
us in looking out for the stranger.

"Could not we make a fire as a signal?"  I asked, "that would attract
her."

"You forget that our flint and steel went overboard, and the ice without
the sun won't light a fire," he answered; "but we will see what our
voices can do.  Now, my lads, let's hail together."

On that, standing up, throwing out our chests, and putting our hands to
our mouths, we gave a shout which none but strong lungs could have
uttered.  It must have been carried a good mile to windward over the
calm sea, but no responding cry came down to our anxious ears.

"There is no use wearing out our lungs with hallooing," said Terence.
"They wouldn't hear us, up to windward there, even if they were much
nearer.  We must have patience, shipmates!--it's no use."

"God's will be done," ejaculated Andrew.  "He may yet think fit to send
us help."

The tone Andrew gave to our minds prevented us from despairing or
sinking into despondency.  I do not mean to say that we did not, at
first, feel the most bitter disappointment as the ship receded into the
darkness which surrounded us, but this feeling did not endure.  We, as
our wise companion advised us, "trusted in God that He would save us;"
and we all along felt that He would do so.

We earnestly watched the ship as long as she was visible, and long
after, though we scarcely expected her to tack, or to repass near.  At
length we returned to our raft, and endeavoured to forget our
disappointment in sleep.  We lay down, under our sealskin and sail, and
after an hour's trial, I once more closed my eyes.  How long I had slept
I do not know, when I was again awoke by a loud noise and a violent
movement of the iceberg.

Andrew suddenly started up, exclaiming, "The time has come!  Hold on to
the raft, my lads; hold on."

He meantime seized a boarding-pike, ready to steady the raft.  His
impression was that the iceberg was in the act of rolling over, and that
now was the time our raft would be of service, if it could survive the
waves caused by the submersion of the snow-formed mountain on which we
rested.

We waited in awful suspense, believing that our last moment had indeed
arrived.  It is difficult to calculate time on such occasions.
Gradually the rocking movement of the berg ceased, and we found that the
ledge on which we were posted had sloped rather more towards the water
than before, so that it was necessary to continue holding on by the
boarding-pike to prevent its gliding off.

"What has happened?"  I exclaimed, as I first again drew breath freely.
"I thought it was all over with us."

"So did I, lad, at first, before I had time to think.  I now suspect the
cause of the commotion; and it is a mercy that the consequences have not
been more terrible.  When the circumstance which has just taken place
happens, the whalers say that an iceberg has calved--that is, a huge
lump of ice has broken away from the base of the berg, and has floated
up to the top of the water.  The noise we heard was when it struck
against other parts, and first came to the surface.  The loss of a large
mass, of course, makes the berg lop-sided; and should another lump break
away, it may go right over.  Should we survive till the morning, we
shall probably see the calf floating near us.  I have known large ships
overwhelmed by bergs falling on them.  You know that it is the custom to
moor ships to the lee side of a berg, to prevent their drifting to
leeward with a contrary wind.  A friend of mine, who gave me the
account, belonged to a whaler, the _Thomas_, of Hull, Captain Taylor,
fishing in Davis's Straits.  Well, one day they lay moored to an
iceberg, with a long scope of warp out, and thought themselves quite
secure.  On a sudden, without any notice, as they were sitting at
dinner, a tremendous noise was heard and a blow was felt, just as if the
ship had struck on a rock.  Up went the bow in the air, till the keel
showed above water, and the taffrail was almost under it.  All thought
the ship must go down; but still she floated, not much the worse for the
blow.  It was found, what all the old whale-men knew well enough, that a
calf had broken away from the bottom of the berg, but fortunately had
struck the keel fairly, without injuring the ship's bottom.  Sometimes a
calf falls from the top of a berg; but I hope one will not come down on
our heads, for if it does, it will settle us outright."

Andrew said this quite calmly, though he felt that what he was
describing might any moment happen.  He afterwards reminded us that
pieces were more likely to fall from the summit in the day-time, when
the sun was shining on it, than at night, and that therefore we should
not let the thought oppress us.

It may be supposed that we did not sleep, nor attempt to sleep, any more
that night.  As there was no moon, we had not any means of ascertaining
how the time passed; but we calculated that it was about two o'clock in
the morning when the last occurrence I have described took place.  The
air had been very light when I first looked out; now it was a perfect
calm, so that not even a ripple was heard against the side of the berg.
We were therefore not uncomfortable, as far as our feelings went, could
we have divested ourselves of the recollection of the peril to which we
were momentarily exposed.

Oh how long that night seemed!  I fancied, that it would never have an
end: each minute seemed prolonged to an hour--each hour to a winter's
night.  Sometimes we talked, and listened to Andrew's description of the
events which had occurred to him when he before visited the Polar Sea.
At other times we were all silent together; but Andrew took care this
should not last long; and never did man so exert himself to keep up the
spirits of his companions.  He was actuated by a true Christian spirit;
and nothing else would have enabled him, I am confident, to forget
himself and watch over us in the way he did.

There had been a spell of silence, when Terence exclaimed, "What say
you, Andrew, if we were to launch our raft, and try to reach the coast
of Newfoundland while the calm lasts?  It might be done, might it not?"

"I think not," was Andrew's reply.  "While we remain on the iceberg, we
have a chance of being seen; but, on a raft, a ship may pass close to us
and not heed us, while, if a gale should come on, the raft would not
live an instant.  Even should we near the coast, which I do not think
likely, we should probably be knocked to pieces on the rocks; so I say
stay to the last extremity.  If the iceberg won't hold us, then take to
the raft."

Of course we determined to follow Andrew's advice; indeed, we all looked
up to him as our guide and captain.  With no little thankfulness did we
welcome the first streaks of dawn on the eastern horizon.  Again we
knelt down and offered our prayers to Heaven.  We had scarcely risen to
our feet when a shout of joy escaped from our lips; for there, in the
grey misty dawn, with her canvas hanging against her masts, lay
motionless on the calm water a ship--the same, doubtless, which we
fancied had passed far away from us in the night.  Was that calm sent by
Providence to effect, our salvation?  The result will prove it, or when
His now inscrutable ways are made manifest.  How our hearts beat with
hope and fear!  My first impulse was to scream out to her.  I checked
myself, and asked Andrew what he would advise.  He did not answer for
some time.

Eagerly we watched the stranger.  She was a barque--a whaler, no doubt.
"Will she see us?" we asked one another.  "Will she near the iceberg
again, or will she sail off in an opposite direction?"

Those who have been placed in a similar position to the one in which we
were, can alone truly comprehend to the full the intensity of our
feelings.  We could scarcely breathe--we could scarcely speak.  All our
thoughts were concentrated in that one point; our very being seemed
wrapped up, as it were, in it.  The night had passed slowly away; but
still more slow did the light of day seem to creep over the world.

I said we were for some time silent.  At last Andrew answered my
question by saying, "The first thing we must do, shipmates, is to climb
up to the top of the berg, and spread out our red handkerchiefs; so as
to show a broad face to those on board yonder vessel.  As soon as the
sun is high enough, we'll try and light a fire, and the smoke may be
seen by them; but if not, then we must trust ourselves to the raft, and
try to paddle up to her.  Perhaps we may reach her before a breeze
springs up; but perhaps not.  Yet I don't think it will get up till
noon."

"But why not get on the raft at once?"  I urged; for I had more
confidence in it than he had.

"Because if we do, we may not be able to return to the iceberg, which we
should wish to do if we miss the ship," he answered.  "But on that point
I will agree to what you all wish.  What do you say, Tom?--you are the
youngest, and should speak first."

"I say, then, let us try the raft," said Tom, who fancied even that he
could swim to the ship.

"And so do I," I added.

"And I," exclaimed Terence, eagerly.  "We'll drive her up to the ship in
no time."

"Then, shipmates, the sooner we are off the better," we all cried out
together.

Terence and I climbed up to the top of the berg, and spread out our
handkerchiefs between two upright spars, and we thought they could not
fail of being seen.  Andrew and Tom, meantime, were filling the iron pot
with water, collecting some of our seal flesh, and otherwise getting our
raft ready.  Securing one end of our rope to a point of ice, we eased
the raft carefully down into the sea.  To our satisfaction it floated
well alongside, but it required great caution not to upset it as we
stepped upon it.  We at once saw that Andrew had good reason for not
wishing to trust to it; for no sooner were we on it, than, calm as the
sea was, the water washed completely over it, and, had we not placed two
planks across it to sit on, we should have been wet through directly.
We each of us held a small piece of the boat's planking in our hands to
serve as paddles.

"Away we go, my lads," exclaimed Terence, as he gave a strong shove
against the iceberg with a boarding-pike; and with a cheer, which,
perilous as was our adventure, we could not repress, we began vigorously
to ply our paddles.  It was a matter of life and death, we saw.  If we
missed the ship, our chance of returning to the iceberg was small
indeed.  Our progress was very slow.  We might have made a mile an
hour--perhaps not so much--and we had three miles to go at least.  Still
we did not flag in our exertions.  We each of us chewed a piece of
seal's flesh to stay our hunger, though we had no inclination or power
to swallow anything.  We scarcely spoke a word all the time, but every
now and then we turned a glance back, to judge how far we had got from
our late abode.

One mile was passed, and we were not seen.  Indeed, so small a speck as
we were on the ocean, we could not expect to be observed till the sun
had risen.  Our great anxiety was respecting the wind--still the sea
continued calm as a mirror.  On we went--our eyes were on the ship's
sails.  Alas! a light cat's-paw skimmed across the ocean--the
topgallant-sails of the barque blew out; but before they had any
influence in impelling her through the water, they again drooped as
before.  Another cat's-paw came stronger than the first, and rippled the
whole surrounding surface.

Oh with what agony we saw the topsails bulge out, and the barque's head
turn from us!  We simultaneously shouted, or rather shrieked out in our
eagerness.  It was of no avail.  We strove to drive the raft on faster
than before.  What could our utmost efforts accomplish in overtaking a
ship, her sails filled even with the light air then blowing?  No longer
were cat's-paws playing on the surface of the sea, but a well-defined
ripple, almost small waves, were covering every part of it; and, as we
worked our way among them, they washed around our feet.  Every sail on
board the barque began to draw; she had got steerage way, and was
standing from us.  We were not seen; and hope, which had hitherto
sustained us, fled.  Our hearts sunk, and scarcely could we longer ply
our useless paddles.

"Andrew, what say you to this?" asked Terence at length.

"Persevere to the last, like men," replied Andrew.  "We may have to
return to the iceberg; but even then we must not lose courage, or our
trust in Providence."

Just then the sun rose from his watery bed with glorious refulgence in
an unclouded sky.  I looked back, to judge how far we had got from the
iceberg.  Truly if it had appeared beautiful when we were on it, doubly
so it did appear now, glittering in the beams of the sun; some parts of
alabaster whiteness, and the rest tinged with hues of gold and pink and
most transparent blue.  It was an object well calculated to attract the
eyes of a stranger.

A cry from my companions made me turn my head.  The barque's sails were
shivering, as she luffed up to the wind.  Directly after a boat was seen
to be lowered, and quickly being manned, it pulled towards us.  Then
indeed our hearts rose to our bosoms, and we shouted with joy.  Poor
Tom, from the great revulsion of feeling, was nearly fainting and
falling off the raft, had we not supported him.  Still we paddled on,
and the boat seemed to fly towards us.  She was quite close to us, when,
in our joy we waved our paddles above our heads, and gave way to another
shout.

"Hillo, who have we here?" exclaimed a voice from the boat.  "What,
mates, we didn't see you!"

Such was the case; they had seen our signal, but had overlooked us.  The
surgeon of the ship, never having before seen an iceberg, was gazing at
it with his glass, and was the first to remark our handkerchiefs; and
not being able to make out what they were, he had directed to them the
captain's attention.  He was in the boat, and assisted to help us off
our raft.

Once on board and safe, the strength which had hitherto supported us,
gave way, and we sunk down to the bottom of the boat, overpowered with
various emotions.  I trust and believe that we were all of us grateful
to Heaven for our wonderful preservation.

The boat towed our raft alongside, as it was too valuable for firewood
to be lost.  We were hoisted on board, unable to help ourselves, and
were received by the master, officers, and crew with the greatest
kindness and attention.  The surgeon ordered us at once to be put into
warm hammocks, while some warm liquid was poured down our throats, which
soon restored us.  However, no one questioned us about our adventures
till we were more completely recovered.

Two events occurred which ought to have increased, if they did not, our
sense of gratitude for our preservation.  Scarcely had our feet touched
the deck of the barque than a strong breeze sprang up, which sent her at
the rate of some seven knots an hour through the water, far away from
the iceberg.  Before, however, she had run out of sight of that floating
island, its glittering summits were seen to lean forward, and, with a
sound which could be heard at that distance, to fall prostrate in the
water, while the waves created by its submersion reached so far as
perceptibly to lift the ship as they passed.  Thus was I, with my
companions, preserved from the most awful and perilous position in which
I was ever placed.



CHAPTER TWENTY THREE.

The vessel on board which we so happily found ourselves was called _The
Shetland Maid_,--her master, Captain John Rendall.  She measured three
hundred and fifty tons, was barque-rigged, and perfectly fitted as a
whaler, being also strengthened by every means which science could
devise, to enable her to resist the pressure of the ice to which such
vessels must inevitably be exposed in their progress through the arctic
seas.  She had forty-two souls on board, including officers, being some
few short of her complement, as two fell sick in Orkney before leaving,
and two were unhappily lost overboard in a furious gale she encountered
soon after sailing.

Andrew, Terence, and I remained two days below under the doctor's care,
and by the third had completely recovered our usual strength.  Tom
Stokes, who had suffered most, and was not naturally so strong, took a
week before he came round.

As soon as we appeared on deck, the captain called us aft, and desired
to know our adventures.  Andrew was the spokesman, and the captain
expressed himself much pleased with our messmate's mode of narrating
them.

"Well, my men," he said, "I have lost some of my crew, and I suppose
you'll have no objection to entering regularly for the voyage in their
place.  You'll share with the other able seamen eighteenpence for each
tun of oil, you know, besides monthly wages."

We told him that we should be glad to enter, and would sign articles
when he pleased; and that we would answer for Tom Stokes, that he would
do the same.

Behold me at last, then, as I have styled myself, PETER THE WHALER.  We
were now standing to the northward, and rapidly approaching the ice.
Before, however, I proceed with an account of my adventures, I will
describe the ship, her officers and crew, and the peculiar arrangements
made to fit her for the service in which she was employed.

Captain Rendall was a well-educated, intelligent, brave, and, I feel
sure, a truly religious man.  I may say, without more than justice, that
he was the father of his crew.  His father had been in the same service
before him for many years; and he had the advantage of his experience,
to which he added the knowledge he himself had gained.  I do not give
him as a specimen of the masters of all whalers, for I fear there are
few like him, though they must of necessity be intelligent and superior
men.  There were three mates.  The chief mate, Mr Todd, was also chief
harpooner or specksioneer.  Then there were the other harpooners,
boat-steerers, line-managers, and coopers, beside foremast-men,
landsmen, and apprentices.

It is not the custom to pay simply monthly wages; but, as an inducement
to all hands to exert themselves in their several capacities in
capturing fish, they receive a gratuity for every size fish caught
during the voyage, or a certain sum for every tun of oil which the cargo
produces.  The master gets scarcely any pay if he has no success in his
voyage; but for every whale killed he gets three guineas, from ten to
twenty shillings for each tun of oil, and a thirtieth to a twentieth on
the value of the cargo; so that he may make as much as five hundred
pounds by a single voyage.  The chief mate may get nearly a hundred, and
the seamen twenty-five pounds each.  Many of the ships belong to Hull
and other northern ports of England and Scotland; but it is usual to
touch at the Orkneys or Shetland, to complete the complement of the crew
with the hardy islanders who inhabit them.

A whaler, in order to withstand the shock of the ice, is strengthened
inside, both at the stem and stern, by stout timbers placed in various
directions, and fastened securely together; while on the outside she is
in parts covered with a double, and even a treble planking, besides
other thick pieces, which serve to ward off the blows from the parts
most likely to receive them.  How little all the strengthening which the
art and ingenuity of man can devise is of avail against the mighty power
of the ice, I shall have hereafter to describe.  The masts of a whaler
are lower than in a common merchantman, and her sails are smaller, and
cut in a different shape, the courses or lower sails decreasing towards
the foot, so as to be worked with slight strength.  Sometimes this is of
importance, as, when all the boats are away together in chase of whales,
three or four men alone remain on board to take care of the ship.

A whale-ship, therefore, though she has great care and expense bestowed
on her, has not, in port, the graceful and elegant appearance possessed
by some other ships, bound to more genial climes.  The crew do not sleep
in hammocks, as on board men-of-war, but in berths or standing
bed-places, erected on the half-deck forward.  It is a dark retreat, and
not scented with sweet odours, especially after a ship has begun to take
in her cargo; but the weary seaman cares little where he lays his head,
provided it is in a dry and warm place.

We next come to the boats--a very important part of the outfit.  The bow
and stern of a whale-boat are both sharp, rise considerably, and are
nearly alike.  It has great beam, or breadth, to prevent its being
dragged, when towed by a whale, completely under the water.  The keel is
convex in the centre, to enable it to be turned more easily; and for the
same reason it is steered by an oar instead of a rudder.  The oar can
also turn a boat when she is at rest, and can scull her in calm weather
up to a whale without noise.  A large-size boat is pulled by five oars,
and one to steer, and a small one by four oars; the first being from
twenty-six to twenty-eight feet long, and the last from twenty-three to
twenty-four.  A large one is five feet five inches in breadth; and a
small one five feet three inches.

The rowers include the harpooner and the line-manager.  They are
carvel-built--that is, the planks are placed as in a ship.  Boats in
general are clinker-built--that is, the planks overlap each other; but
as they are difficult to repair, the other simpler method is employed.
A ship generally carries seven boats--two or more large, and the rest
small.  They are suspended by cranes, or davits, in a row outside the
rigging, on either side of the ship, and another astern, so that they
can be directly lowered into the water.  A smart crew will man and lower
a boat in the space of a minute, and be away in chase of a whale.

When we got on board, the boats' crews were busily employed in getting
their respective boats and gear ready for action.  Each boat had a
harpooner, who pulled the bow oar, a steersman, next to him in rank, who
steered, and a line-manager, who pulled the after or stroke oar; and
besides them were two or three seamen who pulled the other oars.

The first operation, after cleansing the boats, was to get the lines
spliced and coiled away; and when it is remembered that each whale may
be worth from five hundred to eight hundred pounds, and that, if the
lines are in any way damaged, the fish may be lost, it will be
acknowledged that they have good reason to be careful.  Each line is
about one hundred and twenty fathoms long; so that when the six lines,
with which each boat is supplied, are spliced together, the united
length is seven hundred and twenty fathoms, or four thousand three
hundred and twenty feet.

A few fathoms of the line is left uncovered, with an eye at the end, in
order to connect the lines of another boat to it; for sometimes, when a
whale swims far, or dives deep, the lines of several boats are joined
together.  The rest of the line is neatly and carefully coiled away in
the stern of the boat.

To the upper end of the line is spliced the "fore-ganger" of a "spanned
harpoon," thus connecting the harpoon with all the lines in the boat.  A
"fore-ganger" is a piece of rope a few fathoms long, made of white or
untanned hemp, so as to be more flexible and easily extended when the
harpoon is projected from the hand.

As the crew of each boat accomplished the work of coiling away their
lines, they gave three hearty cheers, to which we all responded; so we
had as much cheering as at a sailing match.

I must try to describe a harpoon, for the benefit of those who have
never seen one.  It is the whaler's especial weapon--the important
instrument of his success.  It consists of a "socket," "shank," and
"mouth."  The shank, which is made of the most pliable iron, is about
two feet long; the socket is about six inches long, and swells from the
shank to nearly two inches in diameter; and the mouth is of a barbed
shape, each barb or wither being eight inches long and six broad, with a
smaller barb reversed in the inside.  The object of the barb, of course,
is to prevent the harpoon being drawn out of the whale after it has been
fixed.

The hand harpoon is projected by aid of a stock or handle of wood, seven
feet in length, fixed in the socket.  After the whale is struck, this
handle falls out; but it is not lost, as it is secured to the line by a
loop.  The line, it must be remembered, is fastened to the iron part of
the harpoon.

Harpoon-guns are now frequently used for projecting harpoons.  The
harpoon for this purpose is made with two shanks, side by side, one of
which goes into the bore of the gun; to the other on the outside the
line is attached.

On every harpoon is stamped the name of the ship, so that it is at once
easy to ascertain, from the weapon in the whale, by whom it was struck.
Lances are also used, with long handles and sharp heads, to assist in
killing the whale.

Each boat is furnished with two harpoons, eight lances, and some spare
oars; a flag, with its staff, to serve as a signal; a "mik," as a rest
for the harpoon, when ready for instant service; an axe, ready for
cutting the line when necessary; a "pigging," a small bucket for baling
out the boat; two boat-hooks, and many other things which I need
scarcely name.

A most important contrivance belonging to a whaler is the crow's-nest,
which I may describe as a sentry-box at the mast-head.  It is, perhaps,
more like a deep tub, formed of laths and canvas, with a seat in it, and
a movable screen, which traverses on an iron rod, so that it can
instantly be brought round on the weather side.  In the bottom is a
trap-door, by which it is entered.  Here the master takes up his post,
to pilot his ship among the ice; and here, also, a look-out is kept,
when whales are expected to appear in the distance.

Just consider how necessary it is to have a good shelter, when
frequently the temperature of the air is from 10 degrees to 20 degrees
below the freezing-point.

I must not forget to mention the means taken for preserving the cargo of
blubber.  This is done in casks, in which the blubber is placed after it
has been cut up into very small portions.  The casks are stowed in the
hold, and some are placed between decks; and when there has been unusual
success, so that there are not casks enough, the blubber is stowed away
in bulk among them.

The mode of fishing, and the remainder of the operations, will be
described in the course of my narrative.

In three more days we were all ready.  The harpoon-guns were cleaned,
oiled, and fastened, with their swivels, on the "billet-heads," in the
bows of the boats.  Each harpooner got a supply of gunpowder and
percussion-caps; and all other requisites were put into the boats.

The crow's-nest had been got up to the main-topgallant mast-head; and in
the afternoon we were ready, and eager to attack the first whale which
should appear.  In the evening the harpooners were invited down into the
cabin, to receive their instructions for the season; and afterwards the
steward served out a glass of grog to all hands, to drink "a good voyage
and a full ship."

I had fully expected to see whales in such numbers, that we should have
nothing to do but to chase and capture them; but in this I was
disappointed, for not a whale did we meet; indeed, with the heavy sea
then running, had we got hold of one, we could not have secured it.  It
was, I ought to say, towards the end of April, and we were in hourly
expectation of being among the ice, through which, at that time of the
year, it was expected a passage would easily be found to the northward.

We had seen several icebergs, which like their companion on which the
corvette was wrecked, had early broken away from the main body, as also
washing pieces and several large floes; but we had yet to learn what a
field of ice was like.

It was night, and blowing very hard from the south-west.  It was my
watch on deck, and Mr Todd, the first mate, was officer of the watch.
We were standing on a bowline under our topsails, a sharp look-out being
kept ahead for danger.  O'Connor and I were together, leaning against
the bulwarks and talking.  "Well, Terence," I said, "I would rather find
myself homeward bound, after all that has occurred, than be obliged to
be running into a sea in which we shall all the time be obliged to be
cruising among ice."

"Oh, I don't consider much of that," he answered.  "It's only a summer
cruise, you know; and when we get back, we shall have our pockets
stuffed with gold, and be able to talk of all the wonders we have seen."

"I hope we may get back.  I have no fancy to spend a winter on the ice,"
I said.

"There are pleasanter places to live in, no doubt, Peter; but people
have lived not only one year, but several years running in those
regions, and have not been the worse for it," replied Terence.

Just then we were startled by the loud cry of "Breakers ahead!"  Mr
Todd in a moment saw what was to be done.  "Wear ship!" he exclaimed.
"Up with the helm.  Gaff-topsail-sheets let fly.  Drop the peak.  Square
away the after-yards."

While these and other orders were given and executed, in order to take
the pressure of the wind off the after part of the ship, and to make her
head turn from it, I glanced in the direction towards which we were
running.  A pale light seemed to be playing over it; and I could
distinguish, amid the foaming breakers, huge masses of ice dashing about
and heaving one upon another, any one of which, I thought, would be
sufficient to stave in the sides of the ship, if not to overwhelm her
completely.

At the same time a loud, crashing, grinding noise was heard, sufficient
to strike terror into the stoutest hearts.  But it must be remembered
that we were all so busily engaged in flying here and there in the
performance of our duty, that we had no time for fear.  This is a great
secret to enable men to go through dangers unappalled.  Had we been
compelled to stand inactive, our feelings might have been very
different.

The ship wore slowly round; but still she seemed approaching the
threatening mass.  She plunged more violently than before amid the
raging sea, and in another moment I felt certain we must be among the
upheaving masses.  Just then her head seemed to turn from them; but a
sea struck her on the quarter and came rolling on board; a tremendous
blow was felt forward, another followed.  Cries arose from some of the
men that all was lost, and I expected to find the ship instantly dashed
to pieces.

Our good captain rushed on deck.  He cast one glance aloft, and another
at the ice.  "She's clear, my lads," he shouted.  The ship came round,
and in another instant we were on the eastern or lee side of the floe,
and gliding smoothly on in calm water through a broad passage, leading
amid the main body of the polar ice.



CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR.

Our ship made good progress, considering the impediments in her way,
towards the fishing grounds in the north, to which she was bound.
Sometimes we had a clear sea; at other times we were sailing among
patches of ice and icebergs, or through lanes penetrating into packs of
many miles in extent, and from which it seemed impossible we should ever
again be extricated.  Our captain, or one of his mates, was always at
this time in the crow's-nest, directing the course of the ship amid the
dangers which surrounded her.

I shall not soon forget the first day of May, which I spent in the icy
sea.  It was as unlike May-day at home as any day could well be as far
as the temperature went, though we were sailing through a sea tolerably
free from ice.

"All play to-day and no work, my boy, for we are going to have a visit
from a king and queen," said an old whaler, David McGee by name, as he
gave me a slap on the shoulder which would have warmed up my blood not a
little, if anything could in that biting weather.

"He must be King Frost, then," I answered, laughing; "for we have plenty
of his subjects around us already."

"No; I mean a regular-built king," said old McGee, winking at some of
his chums standing around, who had made many a voyage before.  "He
boards every ship as comes into these parts, to ask them for tribute;
and then he makes them free of the country, and welcome to come back as
often as they like."

"Thank him for nothing for that same," I answered, determined not to be
quizzed by them.  "But don't suppose, David, I'm so jolly green as to
believe what you're telling me; no offence to you, though."

"You'll see, youngster, that what I say is true; so look out for him,"
was old McGee's answer, as he turned on his heel.

I had observed that for a few days past the old hands were busy about
some work, which they kept concealed from the youngsters, or the green
hands, to which class I belonged.  Everything went on as usual till
eight bells had been struck at noon, when an immense garland, formed of
ribbons of all colours, bits of calico, bunting, and artificial flowers,
or what were intended for them, was run up at the mizzen-peak.  On the
top of the garland was the model of a ship, full-rigged, with sails set
and colours flying.  Scarcely had it gone aloft, when I was startled by
a loud bellowing sound, which seemed to come from a piece of ice
floating ahead of the ship.

"What's that?"  I asked of old David, who persevered in keeping close to
me all the morning.  "Is that a walrus blowing?"  I thought it might be,
for I could not make it out.

"A walrus! no, I should think not," he answered, in an indignant tone.
"My lad, that's King Neptune's trumpeter, come to give notice that the
old boy's coming aboard us directly.  I've heard him scores of times; so
I'm not likely to be wrong."

The answer I gave my shipmate was not very polite.  One never likes to
be quizzed; and I, of course, thought he was quizzing me.

"You'll see, lad," he answered, giving me no gentle tap on the head, in
return for my remark.  "I'm not one to impose on a bright green youth
like you."

Again the bellow was heard.  "That's not a bit like the sound of a
trumpet," I remarked.

"Not like your shore-going trumpets, maybe," said old David, with a
grin.  "But don't you know, youngster, the water gets into these
trumpets, and makes them sound different?"

A third bellow was followed by a loud hail, in a gruff, voice, "What
ship is that, ahoy?"

Old David ran forward, and answered, "_The Shetland Maid_, Captain
Rendall, of Hull."

"Heave to, while I come aboard, then; for you've got some green hands
among you, I'm pretty sure, by the way your gaff-topsail stands."

"Ay, ay, your majesty.  Down with your helm--back the main-topsail,"
sung out old David, with as much authority as if he was captain of the
ship.

His orders were not obeyed; for before they were so, the gruff voice
sung out, "Hold fast!" and a very curious group made their appearance
over the bows, and stepped down on deck.

I was not left long in doubt as to whether or not there was anything
supernatural about them.  "There," exclaimed David, pointing with great
satisfaction at them, "that big one, with the thing on his head which
looks for all the world like a tin kettle, is King Neptune, and the
thing is his helmet.  T'other, with the crown and the necklace of spikes
under her chin, is Mrs Neptune, his lawful wife; and the little chap
with the big razor and shaving-dish is his wally-de-sham and trumpeter
extraordinary.  He's plenty more people belonging to him, but they
haven't come on board this time."

Neptune's costume was certainly not what my father's school-books had
taught me to expect his majesty to wear, and I had always supposed his
wife to be Amphitrite; but I concluded that in those cold regions he
found it convenient to alter his dress, while it might be expected the
seamen should make some slight mistake about names.

Neptune himself had very large whiskers, and a red nightcap showed under
his helmet.  In one hand he held a speaking-trumpet, in the other a
trident surmounted by a red herring.  A piece of canvas, covered with
bits of coloured cloth, made him a superb cloak, and a flag wound round
his waist served him as a scarf.  A huge pair of sea-boots encased his
feet, and a pair of sealskin trousers the upper part of his legs.  Mrs
Neptune, to show her feminine nature, had a frill round her face, a
canvas petticoat, and what looked very like a pair of Flushing trousers
round her neck, with the legs brought in front to serve as a tippet.
The valet had on a paper cocked-hat, a long pig-tail, and a pair of
spectacles on a nose of unusual proportions.  I had read descriptions of
Tritons, the supposed attendants on Neptune, and I must say his valet
was very unlike one.  I might have been prejudiced, for I had no reason
to feel any warm affection for him.

"Come here, youngster, and make your bow to King Neptune," exclaimed
David, seizing me; and, with number of other green hands, I was dragged
forward and obliged to bob my head several times to the deck before his
marine majesty.

"Take 'em below.  I'll speak to 'em when I wants 'em," said the king in
his gruff voice.  And forthwith we were hauled off together, and shut
down in the cable tier.

One by one we were picked out, just as the ogre Fi-fo-fum in the
story-book picked out his prisoners to eat them.  There was a
considerable noise of shouting and laughing and thumping on the decks,
all of which I understood when it came to my turn.

After three others had disappeared, I was dragged out of our dark prison
and brought into the presence of Neptune, who was seated on a throne
composed of a coil of ropes, with his court, a very motley assemblage,
arranged round him.  In front of him his valet sat on a bucket with two
assistants on either side, who, the moment I appeared, jumped up and
pinioned my arms, and made me sit down on another bucket in front of
their chief.

"Now, young 'un, you haven't got a beard, but you may have one some day
or other, so it's as well to begin to shave in time," exclaimed Neptune,
nodding his head significantly to his valet.

The valet on this jumping up, seized my head between his knees, and
began, in spite of my struggles, covering my face with tar.  If I
attempted to cry out, the tar-brush was instantly shoved into my mouth,
to the great amusement of all hands.  When he had done what he called
lathering my face, he began to scrape it unmercifully with his notched
iron hoop; and if I struggled, he would saw it backwards and forwards
over my face.

When this process had continued for some time, Neptune offered me a box
of infallible ointment, to cure all the diseases of life.  It was a lump
of grease; and his valet, seizing it, rubbed my face all over with it.
He then scrubbed me with a handful of oakum, which effectually took off
the tar.  Being now pronounced shaved and clean, to my great horror Mrs
Neptune cried out in a voice so gruff, that one might have supposed she
had attempted to swallow the best-bower anchor, and that it had stuck in
her throat, "Now my pretty Master Green, let me give you a buss, to
welcome you to the Polar Seas.  Don't be coy now, and run off."

This I was attempting to do, and with good reason, for Mrs Neptune's
cap-frill was stuck so full of iron spikes, that I should have had a
good chance of having my eyes put out if she had succeeded in her
intentions; so off I set, running round the deck, to the great amusement
of the crew, with Mrs Neptune after me.  Luckily for me she tripped up,
and I was declared duly initiated as a North Sea whaler.  The rest of my
young shipmates had to undergo the same process; and as it was now my
turn to look on and laugh, I thought it very good fun, and heartily
joined in the shouts to which the rest gave way.

If any one got angry, he was soon made to cut so ridiculous a figure,
and to feel his perfect helplessness, that he was compelled, for his own
sake, to get back his good-humour again without delay.  We had an
additional allowance of grog served out, and what with dancing and
singing, the fun was kept up till long after dark.

I need scarcely say that the representative of his marine majesty was no
less a person than the red-whiskered cooper's mate, that his spouse was
our boatswain, and the valet his mate.  I had often heard of a similar
ceremony being practised on crossing the line, but I had no idea that it
was general on board all whale ships.

The fourth day of the month was a memorable one for me and the other
green hands on board.  The wind was from the westward, and we were
sailing along to the eastward of a piece of ice, about two miles
distant, the water as smooth as in a harbour.  Daylight had just broke,
but the watch below were still in their berths.  The sky was cloudy,
though the lower atmosphere was clear; and Andrew, who was walking the
deck with me, observed it was first-rate weather for fishing, if fish
would but show themselves.

Not ten minutes after this, the first mate, who had gone aloft into the
crow's-nest to take a look-out round, eagerly shouted, "A fish! a fish!
See, she spouts!" and down on deck he hurried with all despatch.

The words were scarcely out of his mouth before the crews of two boats
had jumped into them, and were lowering them down, with their harpoons,
lances, and everything else ready, not forgetting some provisions, for
it was impossible to say how long they might be away.  The chief mate
jumped into one, and the second harpooner into the other, in which my
friend Andrew went as line-manager.

Away they pulled.  I looked over the side, and saw the whale a mile off,
floating, thoughtless of danger, on the surface of the ocean, and
spouting out a fountain of water high into the air.  I fancied that I
could even hear the deep "roust" she made as she respired the air,
without which she cannot exist any more than animals of the land or air.
Every one on deck follows the boats with eager eyes.  The boat makes a
circuit, so as to approach the monster in the rear; for if he sees them,
he will be off far down into the ocean, and may not rise for a long
distance away.  With rapid strokes they pull on, but as noiselessly as
possible.  The headmost boat is within ten fathoms of the fish--I am
sure it will be ours.  The harpooner stands up in the bows with harpoon
in hand.  Suddenly, with tail in air, down dives the monster; and the
faces of all around me assume an expression of black disappointment.  It
must be remembered that, as all on board benefit by every fish which is
caught, all are interested in the capture of one.

"It's a loose fall, after all," said old David, who was near me.  "I
thought so.  I shouldn't be surprised if we went home with a clean ship
after all."

However, the boats did not return.  Mr Todd was not a man to lose a
chance.  Far too experienced ever to take his eye off a fish while it is
in sight, he marks the way she headed, and is off after her to the
eastward.  With his strong arm he bends to the oar, and urges his men to
put forth all their strength, till the boat seems truly to fly over the
water.  On they steadily pull, neither turning to the right hand nor to
the left for nearly half-an-hour.  Were it not for the ice, their toil
would be useless; but the boat-steerer looks out, and points eagerly
ahead.

On they pull.  Then on a sudden appears the mighty monster.  She has
risen to the surface to breathe, a "fair start" from the boat.  The
harpooner stands up, with his unerring weapon in his hand: when was it
ever known to miss its aim?  The new-fangled gun he disdains.  A few
strong and steady strokes, and the boat is close to the whale.  The
harpoon is launched from his hank, and sinks deep into the oily flesh.

The boat is enveloped in a cloud of spray--the whole sea around is one
mass of foam.  Has the monster struck her, and hurled her gallant crew
to destruction?  No; drawn rapidly along, her broad bow ploughing up the
sea, the boat is seen to emerge from the mist with a jack flying as a
signal that she is fast, while the mighty fish is diving far below it,
in a vain effort to escape.

Now arose from the mouth of every seaman on deck the joyful cry of "A
fall, a fall!" at the same time that every one jumped and stamped on
deck, to arouse the sleepers below to hasten to the assistance of their
comrades.  We all then rushed to the boat-falls.

Never, apparently, were a set of men in such a desperate hurry.  Had the
ship been sinking, or even about to blow up, we could scarcely have made
more haste.

The falls were let go, and the boats in the water, as the watch below
rushed on deck.  Many of the people were dressed only in their drawers,
stockings, and shirts, while the rest of their clothes were in their
hands, fastened together by a lanyard; but without stopping to put them
on, they tumbled into the boats, and seized their oars ready to shove
off.  Among them, pale with terror, appeared poor Tom Stokes and another
youngster in their shirts.  They hurried distractedly from boat to boat.
At each they were saluted by, "We don't want you here, lads.  Off with
you--this isn't your boat."

I belonged to the after or smallest boat, which was most quickly manned,
and most easily shoved off; so that I was already at a distance when he
ran aft and saw me going.  "O Peter, Peter!" he exclaimed in a tone to
excite our commiseration, though I am sorry to say it only caused loud
shouts of laughter, "you who have gone through so many dangers with me,
to desert me at last in a sinking ship!"

Poor fellow, aroused out of a deep sleep by the unusual sounds, he not
unnaturally thought the ship was going down.  I heard the gruff voice of
the cooper's mate scolding him; but what he said I don't know.  The
scolding must have brought him and the other back to their senses; and
they of course went below to get their clothes, and to return to assist
in working the ship.  On such occasions, when all the boats are away,
the ship is frequently left with only the master, one or two seamen, and
the rest landsmen on board.

The moment the fast-boat displayed her jack, up went the jack on board
the ship at the mizzen-peak, to show that assistance was coming.  Away
pulled the five boats as fast as we could lay back to our oars.  The
whale had dived to an immense depth, and the second boat had fastened
her line to that of the first, and had consequently now become the
fast-boat; but her progress was not so rapid but that we had every
prospect of overtaking her.  To retard the progress of the whale, and to
weary it as much as possible, the line had been passed round the
"bollard," a piece of timber near the stern of the boat.  We knew that
the first boat wanted more line by seeing an oar elevated, and then a
second, when the second boat pulled rapidly up to her.  The language of
signs for such work is very necessary, and every whaler comprehends
them.

We now came up and arranged ourselves on either side of the fast-boat, a
little ahead, and at some distance, so as to be ready to pull in
directly the whale should reappear at the surface.  Away we all went,
every nerve strained to the utmost, excitement and eagerness on every
countenance, the water bubbling and hissing round the bows of the boats,
as we clove our way onward.

"Hurra, boys! see, she rises!" was the general shout.  Up came the
whale, more suddenly than we expected.  A general dash was made at her
by all the boats.  "'Stern for your lives; 'stern of all!" cried some of
the more experienced harpooners.  "See, she's in a flurry."

First the monster flapped the water violently with its fins; then its
tail was elevated aloft, lashing the ocean around into a mass of foam.
This was not its death-flurry; for, gaining strength before any more
harpoons or lances could be struck into it, away it went again, heading
towards the ice.  Its course was now clearly discerned by a small
whirling eddy, which showed that it was at no great distance under the
surface, while in its wake was seen a thin line of oil and blood, which
had exuded from its wound.

Wearied, however, by its exertions and its former deep dive, it was
again obliged to come to the surface to breathe.  Again the eager boats
dashed in, almost running on its back, and from every side it was plied
with lances, while another harpoon was driven deeply into it, to make it
doubly secure.  Our boat was the most incautious, for we were right over
the tail of the whale.  The chief harpooner warned us--"Back, my lads;
back of all," he shouted out, his own boat pulling away.  "Now she's in
her death-flurry truly."

The words were not out of his mouth when I saw our harpooner leap from
the boat, and swim as fast as he could towards one of the others.  I was
thinking of following his example, knowing he had good reasons for it,
for I had seen the fins of the animal flap furiously, and which had
warned him, when a violent blow, which I fancied must have not only
dashed the boat to pieces, but have broken every bone in our bodies, was
struck on the keel of the boat.

Up flew the boat in the air, some six or eight feet at least, with the
remaining crew in her.  Then down we came, one flying on one side, one
on the other, but none of us hurt even, all spluttering and striking out
together; while the boat came down keel uppermost, not much the worse
either.  Fortunately we all got clear of the furious blows the monster
continued dealing with its tail.

"Never saw a whale in such a flurry," said old David, into whose boat I
was taken.  For upwards of two minutes the flurry continued, we all the
while looking on, and no one daring to approach it; at the same time a
spout of blood and mucus and oil ascended into the air from its
blow-holes, and sprinkled us all over.

"Hurra, my lads, she spouts blood!" we shouted out to each other, though
we all saw and felt it plain enough.  There was a last lash of that
tail, now faint and scarce rising above the water, but which, a few
minutes ago, would have sent every boat round it flying into splinters.
Then all was quiet.  The mighty mass, now almost inanimate, turned
slowly round upon its side, and then it floated belly up and dead.

Our triumph was complete.  Loud shouts rent the air.  "Hurra, my lads,
hurra! we've killed our first fish well," shouted the excited chief
mate, who had likewise had the honour of being the first to strike the
first fish.  "She's above eleven feet if she's an inch," (speaking of
the length of the longest lamina of whalebone); "she'll prove a good
prize, that she will."  He was right.  I believe that one fish filled
forty-seven butts with blubber--enough, in days of yore, I have heard,
to have repaid the whole expense of the voyage.

Our ship was some way to leeward; and as the wind was light, she could
not work up to us, so we had to tow the prize down to her.  Our first
operation was to free it from the lines.  This was done by first lashing
the tail, by means of holes cut through it, to the bows of a boat, and
then two boats swept round it, each with the end of a line, the centre
of which was allowed to sink under the fish.  As the lines hung down
perpendicularly, they were thus brought up and cut as close as possible
down to the harpoons, which were left sticking in the back of the fish.
Meantime the men of the other boats were engaged in lashing the fins
together across the belly of the whale.  This being done, we all formed
in line, towing the fish by the tail; and never have I heard or given a
more joyous shout than ours, as we pulled cheerily away, at the rate of
a mile an hour, towards the ship with our first fish.



CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE.

A cookery-book, in the possession of my good mother, advises one to
catch one's hare before cooking it.  On the same principle I deferred
describing how a whale is disposed of till I had seen one caught; for I
have heard that it is possible for a ship to return clean, or without
having caught a single whale; and this might possibly, I feared, be our
case.  Every one on board, from the captain downwards, was now in good
spirits.

We had got a fish; but it was necessary to secure it carefully
alongside, lest it might sink even there, and be lost after all our
trouble--such misfortunes having occurred to careless fishers.  The
first thing we did was to secure at the stern of the ship, on the
larboard side, a tackle, which is called a nose tackle, from its being
fastened to the nose or head of the fish.  A tail tackle was secured to
the tail of the fish, and this was brought on board at the fore-chains.
Thus the head of the fish was towards the stern of the ship, and the
tail towards the bows, the body being extended as much as possible.  The
right side fin, which was next the ship (it being remembered that the
whale was on its back), was then lashed upwards towards the gunwale.

To "cant" or "kent," in nautical phraseology, is to turn over or on one
side.  The tackle, therefore, composed of many turns of ropes and
blocks, which turns the whale over as the blubber is cut off, is called
the "kent purchase" or tackle.  One part was fastened to the neck of the
whale, or rather the part of the body next the head--for a whale, even
in courtesy, cannot be said to have a neck--and the other was tied to
the head of the main-mast, the fall being passed round the windlass.
The neck, or rather the part which would be the neck if it had one, is
called the "kent."

From the size of the whale, it was impossible to lift it more than
one-fifth part out of the water; and this was only done after heaving
away at the windlass.  Till this operation was performed, not one of us
had rested from our labours.

"Knock off, my lads, and turn-to to breakfast," sung out the master in a
cheerful tone.  The order was obeyed with right good-will; and perhaps
never did a more hungry crew of fishermen sit down to a more jovial
meal.  Breakfast was soon over, and, strengthened and refreshed, we
prepared to turn-to at our task.

On going on deck again, I found that our booty had attracted round us
many birds and fish of all descriptions, ready to prey on what we should
leave.  There were fulmars in thousands, eager to pounce down upon the
morsels which they knew would be their share.  They were of a dirty grey
colour, with white breasts and strong crooked bills, formed to tear
flesh easily, and able to give a very severe bite.  Then there were
numbers of the arctic gull, who may be considered the pirate of the icy
regions, as he robs most other birds, not only of their prey, but of
their eggs and young.  The sea-swallow, or great tern, however, like an
armed ship of size, bravely defends himself, and often beats off his
antagonist; while the burgomaster a large and powerful bird, may be
looked upon as a ship of war, before whom even the sea-swallow flies
away, or is compelled to deliver up his prize.  There were a few also of
the ivory gull, a beautiful bird of immaculate whiteness.  They are so
timid that they dare not rest on the whale, but fly down, and while
fluttering over it, tear off small bits, and are off again before the
dreaded burgomaster can come near them.

But now to our prize.  First, the harpooners secured to their feet what
we called spurs, that is, spikes of iron, to prevent them from slipping
off the back of the whale, on which they now descended.  I and three
other youngsters were meantime ordered to get into two of the boats,
into which were thrown the blubber-knives and spades, bone-knives, and
other instruments used in the operation in which they were about to
engage.

Our duty was to keep alongside the whale, to hand them what they
required, and to pick any one up who should by chance fall into the
water.  The specksioneer, or chief harpooner, took post in the centre of
the rest to direct them.  The fat is, as it were, a casing on the
outside of the whale, so that it can easily be got at.  With their
blubber-knives the men then cut it into oblong pieces, just as a fish is
cut across at table; and with their spades they lifted it from the flesh
and bones, performing the same work on a larger scale that the
fish-knife does.  To the end thus first lifted a strap and tackle is
fastened, called the "speck-tackle," by which those on deck haul it up.
This operation is called "flensing."

As the huge mass is turned round and round by the kent-tackle, the
harpooners continue cutting off the slips, till the whole coat of fat is
removed.  The fins and tail are also cut off; and, lastly, the
whale-bone is cut out of the mouth.  The whale-bone is placed in two
rows in the mouth, and is used instead of teeth, to masticate the food,
and to catch the minute animals floating in the water on which it feeds.
Each side of bone consists of upwards of three hundred laminae, the
interior edges of which are covered with a fringe of hair.  Ten or
twelve feet is the average size.  In young whales, called "suckers," it
is only a few inches long.  When it is above six feet, the whale is said
to be of _size_, a term I have before used.

The tongue of the whale is very large; it has a beard, and a very narrow
throat.  While I was handing a blubber-spade to old David, as I looked
over the side of the boat, I saw a pair of bright green eyes glancing up
at me with such a knowing, wicked look, that I drew back with a shudder,
thinking it was some uncommon monster of the deep, who was watching for
an opportunity to carry one of us off.

"What is it now, youngster?  Have you bit your nose?" asked David,
laughing.

"No," I replied breathlessly.  "Look there--what is that?"  I pointed
out the eyes, which were still glaring up at me.

"That--why that, my green lad, is only a blind shark.  Have not you ever
seen one of them before?"

"Only a shark!"  I exclaimed with horror, remembering all I had heard
about sharks.  "Won't he eat one?"

"No, not he; but just run a boat-hook into him, and try and drive him
away, for he's drawing five shillings' worth of oil out of the fish
every mouthful he takes, the glutton," said David.

I did as I was desired; but though the point ran right into his body, he
only shifted his post a little, and made a fresh attack directly under
the stern of the boat.  I again wounded him; but he was either so
engaged with gorging himself, or so insensible to pain, that he
continued with his nose against the side of the whale, eating away as
before.

I afterwards learned that this Greenland shark is not really blind,
though the sailors think so because it shows no fear at the sight of
man.  The pupil of the eye is emerald green; the rest of it is blue,
with a white worm-shaped substance on the outside.  This one was upwards
of ten feet in length, and in form like a dog-fish.  It is a great foe
to the whale, biting and annoying him even when alive; and by means of
its peculiarly-shaped mouth and teeth it can scoop out of its body
pieces as large as a man's head.

But the most persevering visitors during the operation of flensing were
the sailors' little friends the Mollies.  The moment the fish was struck
they had begun to assemble, and they were now pecking and tearing away
at the flesh with the greatest impudence, even among the men's long
knives.  One at last got between David's legs, which so tried his
patience, that he took it up and flung it from him with a hearty shake,
abusing it for running the risk of being hurt; just as a cab-driver does
a child for getting into the road, without the slightest idea of
injuring it.  But the Molly would not take the hint, and with the
greatest coolness returned to its repast, thinking, probably, that it
had as much right to its share as we had to ours.

The Mollies do not evince an amiable disposition towards each other; and
as the "krang" (such is the name given to the refuse parts of the whale)
is cut off, they were to be seen sitting on the water by thousands
tearing at the floating pieces, and when one morsel seemed more tempting
than another, driving their weaker brethren away from it, and fighting
over it as if the sea was not covered with other bits equally good.  All
the time the noise they made "poultering" down in the water, and
quacking or cackling--I do not know which to call it--was most
deafening.

My good friend Andrew pointed them out to me.  He never lost an
opportunity of giving me a useful lesson.  "There," he said, "that's the
way of the world.  We are never content with what we have got, but must
fight to gain something else.  Now take my advice, Peter.  Do your duty
as a man; and when you light upon a piece of krang, stick to it, and be
thankful that you've found it."  I have never since been in a noisy,
quarrelsome crowd, that I did not think of the Mollies and the krang.

I must not forget the green-eyed monster which had so startled me.  The
surgeon had got a hook ready, covered by a piece of blubber; and letting
it fall quietly over the stern before its nose, the bait was instantly
gorged.  To hook a fish of ten feet long, and to get him on board, are
two different things; and our good _medico_ was very nearly drawn
overboard in a vain attempt to do the latter without assistance, which,
just then, all hands on board were too much engaged to afford.  The line
was very strong, or the shark would have broken it, as now, finding
himself hooked, he had sense enough to struggle violently in order to
get free.

I must confess that, when I came on deck after the krang had been cast
adrift, I was not sorry to see my friend in that condition.  After some
trouble we got the bight of a rope over his head, and another round his
tail, and hoisted him on deck.  If a cat has nine lives, a Greenland
shark may be said to have ninety.  We cut him on the head and tail with
hatchets, and knocked out any brains he might have possessed, and still
he would not die.  At last the surgeon cut him up, and hours after each
individual piece seemed to have life remaining in it.

Sometimes when the tackles are removed the carcase of the whale sinks,
and the fish at the bottom are alone the better for it; but at other
times, as in this case, it floats, and not only the birds and sharks,
but the bears find a hearty meal off it.  This krang floated away; and
afterwards, as I shall have presently to relate, was the source of much
amusement.  I ought to have said, that while the harpooners were
flensing the whale, another division of the crew were employed in
receiving it on deck, in pieces of half a ton each, while others cut it
into portable pieces of about a foot square; and a third set passed it
down a hole in the main hatches to between decks, where it was received
by two men, styled kings, who stowed it away in a receptacle called the
"flense gut."  Here it remained till there was time for "making off."

Having now got our prize on board, the owners being probably 500 pounds
richer, should we reach home in safety, than they were a few hours
before, we set to work to make off the blubber, that is, to stow it away
in the casks in the hold.  For this purpose we ran out some miles from
the ice, in smooth water, and hove to, with just sufficient sail set to
steady the ship.  While the skee-man--the officer who has charge of the
hold--the cooper, and a few others, were breaking out the hold, that is,
getting at the ground or lowest tier of casks, we on deck were arranging
the speck-trough, and other apparatus required for preparing the
blubber.

The speck-trough is an oblong box, with a lid, about twelve feet in
length.  The lid, when thrown back, forms a chopping-table; and it is
covered with bits of whale's tail from end to end, which, being elastic,
though hard, prevents the knives being blunted.  In the middle of the
trough is a square hole, which is placed over the hatchway; and to the
hole is attached a hose or pipe of canvas, leading into the hold, and
movable, so as to be placed over the bungs of each cask.  A pair of
nippers embrace it, so as to stop the blubber from running down when no
cask is under.

The krang is the refuse, as I have said, and the men who separate the
oily part from it are called "krangers."  The "kings" throw the blubber
in rough out of the "flense gut" to the "krangers" on deck; from them it
is passed to the harpooners, who are the skinners.  After the skin has
been sliced off, it is placed on the chopping-block, before which stand
in a row the boat-steerers, who with their long knives cut it up into
oblong pieces not larger than four inches in diameter, and then push it
into the speck-trough.

The line-managers are stationed in the hold, and guide the tube or lull
to the casks they desire to fill.  Finally, when no more can fall in,
piece after piece is jambed in by a pricker, and the cask is bunged up.
Sometimes not only are all the casks on board filled, but the blubber is
stowed away in bulk in the hold, and even between decks; but this good
fortune does not often occur.

It will be seen by any one who has read an account, that the process of
preparing the cargo by the whalers in the southern seas is very
different.  Andrew Thompson had once been in a South Sea whaler, and he
told me he never wished to go in another; for a wilder, more mutinous
set of fellows it was never his ill-luck, before or since, to meet.
This was, of course, owing partly to the captain, who was a rough,
uncultivated savage, and totally unfit to gain any moral restraint over
his men.

"I'll tell you what it is, Peter," said Andrew, as I sat by him in the
forecastle that evening, listening to his yarns, "till the masters are
properly educated, and know how to behave like officers and gentlemen,
the men will be mutinous and ill-conducted.  When I say like gentlemen,
I don't mean that they should eat with silver forks off china, drink
claret, and use white pocket-handkerchiefs.  Those things don't make the
gentleman afloat more than on shore.  But what I like to see, is a man
who treats his crew with proper gentleness, who looks after their
interest in this world and the next, and tries to improve them to the
best of his power--who acts, indeed, as a true Christian will act--that
man is, I say, a gentleman.  I say, put him where you will, ask him to
do what you will, he will look and act like a gentleman.  Who would dare
to say that our good captain is not one?  He looks like one, and acts
like one, at all times and occasions; and if we had many more like him
in the merchant service generally, we should soon have an improvement in
the condition of our seamen.

"But I have got adrift from what I was going to tell you about the South
Sea whalers.  You see, the whales in those seas are generally
sperm-whales, with blunt bottle-noses, altogether unlike the fish about
here.  There is not much difference in the way of killing them, except
that one has not to go among the ice for them, in the way we have here,
as they are met with in `schools' in the open sea.  What we call
`making-off' is there called `trying-out.'

"You see, on account of the hot climates they have to come through to
return home, and partly from the value of the blubber, they have to boil
it to get out the oil; and for this object they have to build large
stoves or fire-places with brick on deck, between the fore-mast and main
hatchway; and above them are three or four large pots.  The blubber is
then, you see, minced up, and pitched into the pots with long forks.
Just fancy what a curious scene there must be while the trying-out is
going on at night--the red glare of the fires, and the thick lurid smoke
ascending in dense columns round the masts!  Any one, not knowing what
was going forward, would think, to a certainty, the ship was on fire;
and then the stench of the boiling oil, hissing and bubbling in the
pots--the suffocating feel of the smoke--the fierce-looking, greasy,
unwashed men--I say, those who have been in a South Sea whaler will
never wish to go again."

I told him that I had no wish, after his description, ever to belong to
one, though I liked the life, as far as I had seen of it, where I was.

"I have not a word to say against it, mate," replied Andrew.  "But wait
a bit till we come to boring and cutting through the ice, in case we are
beset, and then you'll say that there is something like hard work to be
done."

It took us two hours to kill our first whale, and four to flense it.  We
afterwards performed the last operation in less time, when all hands
were more expert.

The next morning we again stood in towards the ice, to see if there was
any opening through which we might force the ship, but none appeared.
What was curious, we hit the spot to which the krang of the fish we had
killed the day before had floated.  We saw something moving on the ice,
as we approached, besides the clouds of wild-fowl which hovered over it,
and on the sea around.

We pointed it out to the second mate.  He took his glass, and, putting
it to his eye, exclaimed, "There's a big white bear has just been
breakfasting, and has hauled up some of the krang on the ice, to serve
him for dinner; but we'll try what we can do to spoil his sport."

In accordance with this resolution, he went to the captain and asked
leave to take a boat to try and bring back Bruin, dead or alive.

"You may bring him back dead, but alive you'll never get him into that
boat, depend on it," answered Captain Rendall, laughing.  "However, take
care he is not too much for you; for those bears are cunning fellows,
remember; and I should advise you to take a couple of muskets, and some
tough lances."

"Never fear, sir," answered the mate, preparing to lower a boat.  "I
don't think a boat's crew need, any day, be afraid of a single bear."

Volunteers being asked for, Terence and I, old David and Stokes, and
three others, jumped into the boat, and pulled off towards where the
bear was seated quietly licking his paws after his meal.  The mate had a
great idea of noosing him; and for this purpose he and David were each
armed with a coil of rope, with a bight to throw over his head, like a
lasso, while Terence and I were to take charge of the guns.  The mate
first made us put him on the ice some few hundred yards on one side of
the bear, and then we pulled round to the same distance on the other.
Each had a lance besides his lasso, and the mate had a pistol in his
belt.

In case of extreme necessity, Terence and I were to fire, and then to
land and come to their rescue.  As soon as the two had landed, they
began to move away from the edge, hoping thereby to cut Bruin off should
he attempt to escape.  He had, however, no inclination to leave his
dinner; though, perhaps, had he not already eaten to repletion, he would
not have sat so quiet while we approached.

We meantime pulled close up to the krang, among all the ducks and gulls.
This Bruin did not mind, but sat still, looking quietly on.  Of course
I could then easily have shot him; but that was not the mate's object.
All he did was to growl and show his teeth, as if he longed to have us
all within his paws.  This made us bolder and less cautious, so we got
close up to him.

"We are still too far for me to heave the bight over his shoulders,"
cried Terence.  "Just see if you can't get hold of his dinner with the
boat-hook, and that will bring him nearer."

I luckily held my gun in my left hand, while with my right, as I sprang
on the ice, I attempted to catch hold of the whale's flesh with the
boat-hook.  This was too much for the equanimity even of Bruin, and with
a loud growl he sprang towards the boat, happily thinking me too
insignificant for punishment.  I immediately ran off towards the mate;
while so great was the impetus which the bear had gained, that he went
head-foremost into the water, just catching the gunwale of the boat as
the men in her tried to shove off to avoid him.

Terence seized his musket, but it missed fire; and before either of the
others could get their lances ready, Bruin had actually scrambled on
board.  No one can be surprised at their fright, nor that, as the bear
came in on one side, they should jump out on the other.  They were all
good swimmers, so they struck out for the ice, on to which the mate and
I hauled them, while Bruin floated away in our boat.

We thought he would have jumped out again, and attacked us: but he
seemed perfectly content with his victory, and inclined for a cruise, as
he sat, with the greatest composure, examining the different articles in
the boat.  How long he might have sat there I do not know, had not the
mate ordered me to try my skill as a shot.  It was a long time since I
had had a gun in my hand, and my ambition was roused.  I took a steady
aim at poor Bruin's eye, and he sunk down in the bottom of the boat.

The whole occurrence had been seen from the ship by our captain, who
despatched a boat to our assistance.  We stood meantime, looking very
foolish, on the ice; and those who had been in the water shivering not a
little with the cold.  After the boat had taken us on board, we pulled
towards ours, with the bear in it.  We half-expected to see him jump up,
and, seizing the oars, pull away from us.  Terence declared that he knew
a man who said that such a thing had once happened, and that the bear,
after a chase of many miles, got clean off with the boat; and that next
year, about the same latitude, he was seen cruising about by himself,
fishing for seals.

However, we got cautiously up to our boat; and there lay Bruin,
breathing out his last.  By the time we got alongside, he was quite
dead.  We all, especially the mate, got well laughed at for having had
our boat captured by a bear.

"And so, Mr Derrick," said the captain, "a boat's crew can possibly be
beaten by a bear, I see."

"They can, sir," answered the mate; "I own it; but if you'll remember,
you said I should never get that bear into the boat, alive or dead, and
I've done both."

"Not that," replied the captain.  "He got himself in, and he got you
out; so I don't see that you've fulfilled your promise."

However, Bruin was hoisted on board, and the mate secured his skin,
which was what he wanted.  Of course the adventure caused much joking
afterwards, and the boat was ever afterwards called "the bear's boat."



CHAPTER TWENTY SIX.

For several days, during which we captured another whale, we were
cruising about, in the hopes of finding a passage through the ice.  We
were now joined by a squadron of six other ships, all bent on the same
object that we were, to find our way across Baffin's Bay to a spot
called Pond's Bay, which has been found, of late years, to be frequented
by a large number of whales.

I have before forgot to mention the great length of the days; indeed,
for some time past there had scarcely been any night.  Now, for the
first time in my life, I saw the sun set and rise at midnight.  It was
my first watch; and, as eight bells were struck, the sun, floating
majestically on the horizon, began again its upward course through the
sky.  On the other side the whole sky was tinged with a rich pink glow,
while the sky above was of a deep clear blue.  I could scarcely tear
myself from the spectacle, till old David laughed heartily at me for
remaining on deck when it was my watch below.  Now was the time to push
onward, if we could once penetrate the ice.  We had worked our way to
the east, in the hopes of there finding a passage.

"Land on the starboard bow!" shouted the second mate from the
crow's-nest.  Still on we sailed, till we saw it clearly from the deck.
Lofty black rocks were peeping out from amid snow-capped heights, and
eternal glaciers glittering in the sunbeams.  In the foreground were
icebergs tinged with many varied hues.  Deep valleys appeared running up
far inland; and above all, in the distance, were a succession of
towering mountain ranges, reaching to the sky.  Still on we sailed.

"Well, lad, how long do you think it would take you to pull on shore
now?" asked old David.

"Better than half-an-hour, in a whale-boat, with a good crew," I
answered, thinking the distance was about four or five miles.

The old whaler chuckled, in the way he always did when he had got, what
he called, the weather-gauge of me.

"Now I tell you it would take you three good hours, with the best crew
that ever laid hand on oar, and the fastest boat, too, to get from this
ship to that shore."

"Come now, David, you are passing your jokes off on a greenhorn," I
replied.  "Why, if the water was not cold, I don't think I should find
much difficulty in swimming there, when we got a little closer in."

This answer produced a fresh succession of chuckles.  Still on we
sailed; and I confess that at the end of an hour we appeared no nearer
than before.

"Well, what do you think of it now?" asked old David.

"Why, that there must be a strong current against us, setting off
shore," I answered, wishing to show my knowledge.

He replied that there was no current, and that I was wrong.  Another
half-hour passed, and still we did not seem to have gained ground.

"What do you think of our being off Cape Flyaway, youngster?" asked
David, pretending to be alarmed.  "Did you never hear speak of that?
The longer you sail after it the farther off it goes, till it takes you
right round the world.  If that's it, and I don't say it isn't, it will
be long enough before we get back to old England again."  Having thus
delivered himself, he walked away, to avoid being questioned.

Tom Stokes, who was near me, and, as I have said, was very fond of
reading, heard his remark.

"Do you know, Peter, I am not certain that what David says is altogether
wrong," he remarked, in a mysterious manner.  "I have just been reading
in a book an account of a voyage made many centuries ago by a Danish
captain to these seas.  His name was Rink, but I forget the name of the
ship.  His crew consisted of eighty stout brave fellows; but when they
got up here, some of the bravest were frightened with the wonders they
beheld--the monsters of the deep, the fogs, the snows, and the mountains
of ice--and at last they saw at no great distance a high picturesque
land on which they wished to land, but though they sailed rapidly on, or
appeared to sail, they got no nearer to it.  This increased the alarm
they already felt.  One-half of the crew were of opinion that the land
itself moved away from them; the others that there were some powerful
loadstone rocks somewhere astern, which kept the ship back.  At last
Captain Rink finding a northerly breeze spring up, and being somewhat
short of provisions, put up the helm and ran home, every one on board
giving a different account of the wonders they had seen, but all
agreeing that it was a region of ice-demons and snow-spirits, and that
they would never, if they could help it, venture there again."

For some hours we continued much of Captain Rink's opinion, till at last
I had an opportunity of asking Andrew what he thought about the matter.
He then told me that, on account of the clearness of the atmosphere, and
the brightness of the snow-covered hills or icy plains, they appear to a
person unaccustomed to look on them to be very much nearer than they
really are.  He assured me that it would be a long time before I should
be able to judge of distances; and that he had known a person mistake a
few stunted shrubs appearing above the snow a few yards off for a forest
in the distance, while land many miles off appeared, as it had to me,
close at hand.

It was evening, or I should rather say near midnight, when we really got
close in, when we found that the valleys were magnificent fiords, or
gulfs running far inland, and that the rocks and icebergs were of vast
height.  As we sailed along the coast, nothing could be more beautiful
than the different effects of light and shade--the summits of the
distant inland ranges shining in the sunlight like masses of gold, and
the icebergs in the foreground tinged with the most beautiful and
dazzling colours.

Beautiful as was the scene, I had no idea that any civilised beings
dwelt in such a region of eternal snows.  What was my surprise, then, to
find the ship brought to an anchor off a small town called Leifly,
belonging to the Danes!  They have several small colonies along the
coast, at each of which are stationed missionaries engaged in the pious
work of converting the Esquimaux to Christianity.

I thought that where we lay at anchor was directly under the overhanging
cliffs; but I found, from the time the boat took reaching the shore,
that we were several miles off.  Several Esquimaux canoes came off to
the ship to barter with us.  One man sits in each boat, which is so long
and narrow, that one is surprised it should be able to encounter the
slightest sea.  The whole is decked over, except a round opening, in
which they seat themselves.

All these people were Christians; and in each canoe was a strip of paper
stuck in a thong under the deck, on which were written, in Danish,
passages from the Scriptures.  They were comfortably dressed in sealskin
coats, trousers, and boots, with a sealskin helmet.  Their heads were
large, with a narrow, retreating forehead; strong, coarse black hair,
flat nose, full lips, almost beardless chin, and full lustrous black
eyes--not beauties, certainly, but the expression was very amiable, and
so was their conduct.

We had to lower a boat to assist them on deck when they came alongside,
for otherwise they would not have been able to get out of their crank
barks without capsizing.  The way they manage is as follows:--Two canoes
bring up alongside each other, the man in the outer one passing his
paddle through a thong which stretches across the deck of the inner one,
which it thus steadies till the owner can get out.  The inner canoe is
then hauled out of the way, and another pulls up on the outside.  The
last canoe is held by the gunwale till the occupant steps out.  They all
appeared ready to render each other this assistance.  The canoe is
called a "kajack."

The kajacks being hauled on deck, we began our barter.  We had to give
old clothes, red and yellow cotton handkerchiefs, biscuits, coffee,
earthenware bowls, needles, and many other little things; for which they
exchanged sealskins, sealskin trousers, caps, slippers, gloves, and
tobacco-bags.  These articles were very neatly sewed with sinew thread.
Our negotiations being completed in the most amicable manner, they took
their departure much in the way in which they had arrived.

I afterwards went ashore in the boat, and saw their huts, which were
better, I am ashamed to say, than many I had seen in Ireland.  Many of
them were nearly built of the bones of the whale, which had an odd
appearance.  There were heaps of filth in front, and troops of
ill-favoured dogs were prowling about them.

I saw some of their women, the elder ones being the most hideous-looking
of the human race I ever beheld.  They wore their hair gathered in a
large knot at the top of the head; but in other respects they were
dressed exactly like the men, in sealskin garments.  Whatever business
took us there was soon completed; and once more, in company with several
other ships, we commenced our struggle with the ice-monsters of the
deep.  Our course was still northerly, as what is called the "middle
ice" fills up the centre of the bay in impenetrable masses; and it is
only by working round it to the north, where it has drifted away from
the coast, that a passage to the west side can be effected.

Soon after sailing, we were frozen into a sheet of bay ice for some
days.  It was slight, and in many places could scarcely bear the weight
of a man.  Indeed, there were in every direction pools of water, which
for some reason or other did not freeze.  Our captain had been for some
time in the crow's-nest, looking out for a sign of the breaking up of
the ice, when he observed several whales rising in the pools.  He
instantly ordered the smaller boats to be lowered, and worked through
and over the ice to the pools, with harpooners ready to strike any whale
which might rise in them.  Meantime he armed himself with a harpoon, and
ordered others to follow with lances, each with ice-shoes on his feet.

The first man carried the end of a line, and the rest laid hold of it at
intervals; so that, should any fall in, they might be able to draw
themselves out again.  We had not long to wait before a whale was
struck, and out flew the line from the boat.  So thin was the ice, that
we could see the monster through it, as he swam along close under it.
Away he went; but, losing breath, he knocked a hole in the ice with his
head, to get some fresh air.  We followed, but at first he was too quick
for us, and had dived again before we came up with him.

We had to look out to avoid the place he had broken as we made chase
after him.  Our captain took the lead without a rope, going at a great
rate in his snow-shoes.  He saw the whale close under him, and had just
got his harpoon ready to strike through the ice, when up came the fish
under the very spot where he stood, and we saw him skip off in a
tremendous hurry, or he to a certainty would have gone in, and perhaps
have been drawn down when the whale started off again.

Instead of this, he boldly went to the very edge of the ice, and while
the whale was blowing, he darted his harpoon deep into his neck.  The
whale continued his course, but so much slower than before, that we got
up to him, and striking our lances through the ice whenever he touched
it, we soon despatched him.  As he had no means of breathing under the
ice, he died quietly, and was dragged up by the line of the first
harpoon which struck him; and, by breaking the ice so as to let the line
pass, he was hauled up to the ship.

Scarcely was the first secured than a second one was struck, and away we
went after him, hallooing, shouting, and laughing.  The first man was a
little fellow, though, I believe, he cracked the ice.  At all events, we
had not gone a hundred yards when in fell three men, one after the
other; but they did not mind, and by means of the rope they were soon
out again, and in chase of our prey.

Poor Stokes got in twice, and I once, to the great amusement of the
rest; however, very few escaped without a wetting, so that the laugh was
not entirely against us.  We succeeded in killing the fish, and I do not
know whether it was not as exciting as chasing him in the water; at all
events there was more fun and novelty, and that is what a sailor likes.

A fair breeze at length sprung up, which, bringing warmer weather, and
enabling us to spread our canvas with effect, we cut away the ice round
the ship, and then she, with her strong bows, forced a passage through
it.  While the wind lasted, with every yard of canvas alow and aloft the
ship could carry, we pressed our onward way--sometimes among floes,
threatening every instant to close in and nip us; at other times with
drift and brash-ice surrounding us; and at others amid open ice, with
here and there floating icebergs appearing near us.

To one of these we had to moor, on account of a shift of wind, which
blew strong in our teeth; and at first, when I turned into my berth, I
did not sleep as securely as usual, from remembering Andrew's account of
one toppling over and crushing a ship beneath it.  However, I need
scarcely say that that feeling very soon wore off.  The objects gained
by mooring to an iceberg are several.  In the first place, from so large
a proportion of the mass being below the water, the wind has little
effect on it, and therefore the ship loses no ground; then it shields
her from the drift-ice as it passes by, and she has also smooth water
under its lee.  Casting off from the iceberg, as did our consorts from
those to which they had been moored, when the wind again became
favourable, we continued our course.

We were now approaching the most dangerous part of our voyage, the
passage across Melville Bay, which may be considered the north-eastern
corner of Baffin's Bay.  Ships may be sailing among open ice, when, a
south-westerly wind springing up, it may suddenly be pressed down upon
them with irresistible force, and they may be nipped or totally
destroyed.

All this I learned from old David, who was once here when upwards of
twelve ships were lost in sight of each other, though the crews escaped
by leaping on the ice.

"Remember, youngster, such may be our fate one of these days; and we
shall be fortunate if we have another ship at hand to take us on board,"
he remarked.

I never knew whether he uttered this not over-consolatory observation
for my benefit, to remind me how, at any moment, the lives of us all
might be brought to an end, or to amuse himself by watching its effect
on me.

For a week we threaded our way among the open floes, when a solid field
seemed to stop our further progress.  This had been seen hours before,
from the unbroken ice-blink playing over it.  Our captain was in the
crow's-nest, looking out for a lane through which the ship might pass
till clear water was gained.  After waiting, and sailing along the edge
of the field for some time, some clear water was discovered at the
distance of three or four miles, and to it our captain determined that
we should cut our way.  The ice-saws were accordingly ordered, to be got
ready, with a party to work them, on the ice.  I was one of them; and,
while we cut the canal, the ship was warped up, ready to enter the space
we formed.

The ice-saw is a very long iron saw, and has a weight attached to the
lower end.  A triangle of spars is formed, with a block in the centre,
through which a rope, attached to the upper part of the saw, is rove.
The slack end of the rope is held by a party of men.  When they run away
from the triangle, the saw rises, and when they slack the rope, the
weight draws it down, as the sawyer in a sawpit would do.  As the saw
performs its work, the triangles are moved from the edge of the ice.  As
the pieces were cut, they were towed away, and shoved along to the mouth
of the canal.

All the time we were at work, some of the men with good voices led a
song, in the chorus of which we all joined; and I must say we worked
away with a will.  It was harder work when we had to haul out the bits
of ice, the ship being towed into the canal.  With a cheerful shout we
completed our canal, and got the ships into a natural lane; and the rest
following close upon our track, we worked our way along for many miles,
by what is called tracking.

This operation is very similar to the way a canal-boat is dragged along
a canal through the green fields of England, only that men have, in the
case I am describing, to do the work of horses.  A tow-rope was made
fast to the fore-mast, and about a third of each ship's company were
ordered to drag their respective ship ahead.  Away we went, as usual,
with song and laughter, tramping along the ice for miles together, and
towing our homes, like snails, after us.

For several days we continued the same work; and afterwards, when we got
out of the lanes, and the ice was found broken, or so irregular that it
was impossible to walk over it, we had to carry out ice-claws, or what
may be called ice-kedges, to warp the ship ahead.  The ice-claws
grappled hold of the ice, and the warp being then carried round the
capstan, or windlass, we hove in on it, just as if we were heaving up an
anchor, only that this work continued for hour after hour, and days and
nights in succession, without intermission.

Ten days passed away much in the manner I have described.  We then got
into comparatively clear water for a few hours, during which time the
other ships joined us.  As there was no wind, we had to tow the ship
ahead in the boats, so that there was no cessation of our labours.

"Well," I exclaimed to old David, "I suppose after all this we shall
soon get into an open sea again."

"Don't be too sure of that, or of anything else, lad," he answered.  "We
have not yet got into the thick of it, let me tell you."

I found that his words were too true.  The boats had been hoisted in,
for a breeze had sprung up, and we were progressing favourably, when we
came to some large floes.  The openings between them were wide, and
without hesitation we proceeded through them.  On a sudden these vast
masses were seen in motion, slowly moving round and round, without any
apparent cause.  The captain hailed from the crow's-nest, ordering the
ice-saws to be got ready, and the ship to be steered towards one of the
largest floes close on the larboard bow.  The sails were clewed up, and
the ice-claws being carried out, the ship was hauled close up to it; and
while the captain and carpenters were measuring out a dock, a party, of
which I was one, set to work with the saws.

There was no time to be lost.  A moment too late, and our stout ship
might be cracked like a walnut, and we might all be cast homeless on the
bleak expanse of ice to perish miserably.  The floes were approaching
rapidly, grinding and crushing against one another, now overlapping each
other; or, like wild horses fighting desperately, rearing up against
each other, and with terrific roar breaking into huge fragments.

"Bear a hand, my lads; bear a hand, that's good fellows.  We'll not be
nipped this time if we can help it," sung out the officers in a cheering
tone to encourage us, though the anxious looks they cast towards the
approaching masses showed that their confidence was more assumed than
real.

Whatever we thought, we worked and sung away as if we were engaged in
one of the ordinary occupations of life, and that, though we were in a
hurry, there was no danger to be apprehended.  The dock was cut
long-wise into the ice the length of the ship, which was to be hauled in
stern first.  As there was every appearance of a heavy pressure, the ice
at the inner part of the dock was cut into diamond-shaped pieces, so
that, when the approaching floe should press on the bows, the vessel
might sustain the pressure with greater ease, by either driving the
pieces on to the ice, or rising over them.

The crews of all the other ships were engaged in the same way, but, as
may be supposed, we had little time to attend to them.  Our captain was
engaged in superintending our operations; but I saw him cast many an
anxious glance towards our advancing foes.

For an instant, he ran to the side of the ship and hailed the deck.
"Mr Todd," he said, "it will be as well to get some casks of
provisions, the men's clothes, and a few spare sails for tents, and
such-like things, you know, ready on deck, in case the nip should come
before we can get into dock."

"Ay, ay, sir," answered the mate, not a bit disconcerted; and with the
few hands remaining on board he set about obeying our commander's
somewhat ominous directions.

I ought to have said that the rudder had at the first been unshipped and
slung across the stern, as it stands to reason that when pressed against
by the ice it should be the first thing injured.  Still we worked away.
We had begun to saw the loose pieces at the head of the dock.

"Hurra, my lads! knock off, and bear a hand to haul her in," shouted out
the captain; "no time to be lost."

With a right good will we laid hold of the warps, and towing and fending
off the ship's bows from the outer edge of the ice, we got her safely
into the dock.  We then set to work to cut up the pieces.  We completed
our labours not a moment too soon; for before we had got on board again,
the tumult, which had been long raging in the distance, came with
increased fury around us, and we had reason to be grateful to Heaven
that we were placed in a situation of comparative safety.



CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN.

We were safe--so the old hands said; but it required some time before
one could fully persuade one's self of the fact.  Not only were the
neighbouring floes in motion, but even the one in which we were fixed.
Rushing together with irresistible force, they were crushing and
grinding in every direction, with a noise far more terrific than that of
thunder.

The ship meantime, notwithstanding all our precautions, was driven back
before the force opposed to her; and had it not been for the loose
pieces under her stern, she might have been nipped in the most dangerous
manner.  One might fancy that the floes were pitted to try their
strength against each other, though it would have been difficult to
decide which was the victor.

I had read descriptions of earthquakes, and the commotion reminded me of
them.  Those who have crossed a large frozen pond or lake will remember
the peculiar noise which even stout ice makes when trod on for the first
time.  Fancy this noise increased a thousand-fold, thundering under
one's feet, and then booming away till the sound is lost in the almost
interminable distance!  Then the field began to tremble, and slowly
rise, and then to rend and rift with a sullen roar, and mighty blocks
were hove up, one upon another, till a rampart, bristling with huge
fragments, was formed close around the ship, threatening her with
destruction.

It seemed like the work of magic; for where lately there was a wide
expanse of ice, intersected with lanes of clear water, there was now a
country, as it were, covered with hills and rocks, rising in every
fantastic shape, and valleys full of stones scattered in every
direction.

In several places large misshapen masses had been forced up in a
perpendicular position, while others had been balanced on their summits
so evenly, that the slightest touch was sufficient to send them
thundering down on either side.

Our own safety being provided for, we had time to look after our
consorts.  Most of them had managed, as we had done, to get into docks;
but one, which had taken a more southerly course, appeared to heel over
on one side, and to be in a most perilous condition.

The weather, which during the commotion had been very thick, now for an
instant clearing in the direction where she lay, the first mate ascended
with his glass to the crow's-nest, and on coming on deck he reported
that the _Arctic Swan_ seemed a complete wreck, and that the boats and
the men's chests were scattered about round her, as if thrown on the ice
in a great hurry.

"I fear it's a very bad case, sir; and if you'll give me leave, I'll
take a party and see what help we can afford them," said Mr Todd to the
captain.

Seamen are always anxious to render assistance to those in peril; and
Captain Rendall having given his permission, plenty of volunteers were
found ready for the somewhat hazardous expedition.  I was one of them.
The risk was, that during our absence the ice might begin to take off;
and that we should be separated from the ship, and be left among the
heaving and tumbling masses of ice.  Of this probably the captain had
not much fear, or he would not have allowed us to go.

To assist our return, and also to enable us to rescue any of the crew of
the wreck who might be injured, the stern boat was lowered that we might
track her up to them.  Mr Todd, three other men, and I, formed the
party.  Away we went towards the ship, dragging our boat with no little
difficulty among the hummocks and masses, with some risk of the blocks
toppling down on our heads and crushing us.

As we drew nearer the _Arctic Swan_, an exclamation from the mate made
us look up at her.  "There they go," he cried; "I feared so--she'll
never see old England again."

One mast fell while he was speaking, and the others followed directly
after; and one fancied one could hear the crushing in of the ship's
sides even at that distance.  That, however, was not the case, for the
ice had taken but a short time to perform its work of destruction.

When at length we got up to the ship, a scene of ruin presented itself,
which, before I saw what ice was, I could scarcely have believed could
have been wrought so speedily.  Stout as were her timbers, the ice had
crushed them at the bows and stern completely in, and grinding them to
powder, the floes had actually met through her.  Part of her keel and
lower works had sunk, but the rest had been forced upwards, and lay a
mass of wreck on the summit of the hummocks which had been formed under
it.

The stern, by the concussion, incredible as it may seem, had been
carried full fifty yards from the rest of the wreck.  Two boats only had
been saved, the rest had been crushed by the ice before they could be
lowered and carried free.  A few casks of provisions had been got up on
deck beforehand, in case of such an accident happening, and they, with
the two boats, were upon the ice.

The crew had escaped with the greatest difficulty--some having gone
below to get their bags being nearly caught in the nip and crushed to
death.  At first their faculties were paralysed with the disaster; for
the thick weather prevented them from seeing that any help was near, and
they feared that they should have to attempt to escape in the two boats,
which, even without provisions, would not have held them all.

British seamen are not addicted to giving way to despair, and their
officers soon succeeded in rousing them, and in inducing them to set to
work to take measures for their safety.  Having stowed away the most
portable and nutritious of their provisions in the boats, they began to
make a strong raft, to carry those whom the boats could not contain,
purposing afterwards, should the ice not break up before, to build a
barge out of the fragments of the wreck.

They were so busily employed that they did not see our approach, and a
loud shout we gave was the first intimation they had of it.  They all
started up to see who was so unexpectedly coming to their relief; and
then responded to our cheer with a hearty good-will.  They at once began
lightening the boats, so as to be able to drag them over the ice to our
ship; and some of the provisions we took into ours, as well as their
clothes.

The master gave a last glance at the wreck of the ship with which he had
been entrusted, and with a heavy heart, I doubt not, turned away from
her for ever.  After taking some food, in the shape of salt pork and
biscuit, which we much needed, we commenced our return to the ship.
Delay, we all felt, was dangerous; for, should the commotion of the ice
recommence before we could regain the ship, we ran a great chance of
destruction.

At length, however, after four hours' toil, we accomplished our journey
in safety, and the shipwrecked crew were welcomed on board the _Shetland
Maid_.  Some persons might say that, after all, they had little to
congratulate themselves on, for that the same accident which had
happened to them might occur to-morrow to us.  Though we were, of
course, aware of this, I must say that I do not believe the idea ever
troubled any one of us; and we all fully expected to return home in the
autumn, notwithstanding the destruction which was, we saw, the lot of so
many.

That night in the forecastle there was as much fun and laughter as if we
had all come off some pleasant excursion, and our light-hearted guests
seemed entirely to have forgotten their losses.

"Well, mates, it is to be hoped none of the other ships has met with the
same ill-luck that yours has," said old David.  "It will be a wonder if
they have not.  I mind the time, for it's not long ago, that nineteen
fine ships were lost altogether, about here.  It was a bad year for the
underwriters, and for the owners too, let me tell you.  I was on board
the _Rattler_, a fine new ship, when, in company with many others, we
were beset, not far from Cape York, by the ice driven in by a strong
south-wester.

"Our best chance was to form a line under the lee of the heaviest floe
we could pick out; and there, stem and stern touching each other, we
waited for what was to come.  The gale increased, and forced the floes
one over the other, till the heaviest in sight came driving down upon
us.  The first ship it lifted completely on to the ice; the next was
nearly stove in, and many of her timbers were broken; and then, getting
more in earnest, it regularly dashed to pieces the four next it got foul
of, sending them flying over the ice in every direction.

"We were glad enough to escape with our lives, which we had hard work to
do; and then some hundreds of us were turned adrift, not knowing what to
do with ourselves.  We thought ourselves badly off, but we were many
times better than the people of another ship near us.  They had made
fast to an iceberg, when it toppled right over, and crushed them and the
ship to atoms.  We were not alone; for not far from us another fleet was
destroyed, and altogether we mustered nearly a thousand strong--
Englishmen, Frenchmen, and Danes.  We built huts, and put up tents; and
as we had saved plenty of provisions, and had liquor in abundance, we
had a very jolly time of it.

"The Frenchmen had music, you may be sure; so we had dancing and singing
to our hearts' content, and were quite sorry when the wind shifted, and,
the ice breaking up, we had to separate on board the few ships which
escaped wreck."

"I remember that time well," said Alec Garrock, a Shetlander, belonging
to our ship.  "It was a mercy no lives were lost, either escaping from
the ships, or afterwards, when we were living on the ice, and travelling
from one station to the other.  It seems wonderful to me that I'm alive
here, to talk about what once happened to me.  The boat I was in had
killed a whale in good style; and when we had lashed the fins together,
and made it fast to the stern of the boat, we saw that a number of
whales were blowing not far off--I ought to say we were close under an
iceberg.  We, of course, were eager to be among them; and as, you must
know, the stern-boat had just before been sent to us with one hand in
her with another line, we wanted him to stay by the dead fish.  He said
he would not--if we liked to go, so would he; but stay there by himself;
while sport was going on, he would not.

"At last we resolved to leave the small boat empty, and to take him in
ours.  To this he agreed.  So, making the whale fast to his boat, and
securing the boat to the berg, away we pulled, as fast as we could lay
our backs to the oars, after a fish we saw blowing near us.  Now what I
tell you is true, mates.  Not thirty fathoms had we pulled, when over
toppled the iceberg right down on the boat, and we were nearly swamped
with the sea it made.  When we pulled back to look for the whale,
neither it nor the boat was to be seen.  You may fancy what would have
become of us if we had been there!"

"There are none of us, to my belief; but have often, if we would but
acknowledge it, been mercifully preserved by Providence," observed my
friend Andrew.

"I won't speak of what has happened to myself; and Terence, and Peter
here.  No one will doubt, I hope, but that it was the finger of God
directed you to take us off the iceberg; but every day some less
remarkable case occurs.  A block falls from aloft on the deck, where a
moment before we were standing; a musket-ball passes close to one's ear;
a topmast is carried away just as we have come off the yard; and fifty
other things occur of like nature, and we never think of being grateful
for our preservation.  Talking of escapes, I once saw a man carried
overboard by a line round his ankle as a fish was diving.  We all gave
him up for lost; but he had a sharp knife in the right-hand pocket of
his jacket, and he kept his thoughts about him so well, that before he
had got many fathoms down, he managed to stoop and cut the line below
his foot, then striking with all his might, he rose to the surface."

"Did you ever hear tell of the Dutchman who had a ride on the back of a
whale?" asked David.  "He had just struck his harpoon into a fish, when,
lifting up her tail, she drove the boat into shatters.  He fell on his
back, and got hold of his harpoon, his foot at the same time being
entangled in the line.  Away swam the fish on the top of the water,
fortunately for him never thinking of diving.  He stood upright all the
time, holding on by his right hand, while his left tried in vain to find
his knife to cut himself clear.  Another boat followed, for the chance
of rescuing him; but there appeared but little hope of his being saved,
unless he could free himself.  Just as the fish was going down, the
harpoon shook out, and, jumping off its back, to which he gave a hearty
kick, he struck out for the boat, and was picked up when he could swim
no more.  He is the only man I ever heard of who really has ridden on a
whale's back, though there's many a tale told by those who have, which
is not true."

"I've been on the back of a live whale more than once," said Garrock.
"I mean when we've been fishing among bay ice, and the fish have come up
through the holes to breathe.  But I was going to say how last season we
had a chase after a fish, which gave us more trouble than I ever saw
before.  It led us a chase for the best part of the day, after it had
been struck.  It dragged one boat, with twenty lines fast, right under a
floe, and then broke away; and when we killed it at last, it had taken
out thirty lines, which, as you know, is close upon six miles of line."

Thus yarn after yarn was spun.  I do not attempt to give the peculiar
phraseology of the speakers; but their stories, which I believe to be
perfectly true, may prove interesting.  For a whole week we were beset,
and some of the green hands began to fancy that we should be blocked up
for the winter; but the old ones knew better.

Every day the surface of the ice, where the nip had taken place, was
examined with anxious eyes, in the hopes that some sign of its taking
off or breaking up might be given.  At length the pressure became less,
the sound under the ice shrill and sharp, instead of the sullen roar
which had before been heard; the fragments which had been cast above
others began to glide down and disappear in the chasms which were
opening around, and water was seen in a long thin line extending to the
northward.

A lane was formed, with a wall of fragments on either side; the lane
widened, the fragments rushed into the water, and the captain, from the
crow's-nest, ordered the ship to be towed out of dock.  The order was
cheering to our hearts; and as we had plenty of hands, it was soon
executed.  All sail was made, and away we flew through the passage, in a
hurry to take advantage of it, lest it should again close upon us.  We
succeeded in getting clear, and soon after were joined by our consorts,
which had escaped the nip.

We made the land again to the northward of Cape York, and, when close
in, were completely becalmed.  The boats of each ship were ordered ahead
to tow; and thus we slowly progressed along one of the most picturesque
scenes it has ever been my fortune to witness in the arctic regions.
The water was of glassy smoothness, the sky of brightest blue, and the
atmosphere of perfect transparency; while around floated numberless
icebergs of the most beautiful forms, and of dazzling hues, while all
around was glancing and glittering beneath a bright and glowing sun.

One berg, I remember, was of enormous size.  On the north side it was
perpendicular, as if just severed from another; but, as we rounded it on
the west, ledge above ledge appeared, each fringed with icicles reaching
to the one below, thus forming lines of graceful columns, with a gallery
within, appearing as if tinged with emerald-green.  The summit was
peaked and turreted, and broken into many fantastic forms.  On the
eastern side a clear arch was seen; and several small cascades fell from
ledge to ledge with a trickling sound, and into the water with a gentle
splash, which could distinctly be heard as we passed.

It must be remembered that in every direction arose bergs of equal
beauty; while in the background were lofty hills covered with snow,
tinted of a pinkish hue, and above them, of dazzling whiteness, ranges
of eternal glaciers, towering to the sky.  I could scarcely have
believed that a scene of such enchanting beauty could have existed in
the arctic regions, and was inclined to fancy, as I pulled at the oar,
that they were rocks of Parian marble and alabaster, and that the
galleries and caverns they contained were the abodes of fairies and the
guardian spirits of those realms.  But avast! what has Peter the Whaler
to do with such poetical ideas?

On we worked our way northward.  In clear weather, when a good look-out
was to be had from the crow's-nest, we were able to make our way among
the streams of ice; but in thick weather, when our course could not be
marked out, we were sadly delayed.

At last, after keeping a westerly course for a few hours, we broke
through all intervening barriers, and once more felt our gallant ship
lifting to the buoyant wave of the open sea, or rather what is called
the "north water."

The ice, by the warm weather, the currents, and the northerly winds,
being driven out of Lancaster Sound and the head of Baffin's Bay to the
southward, leaves this part, for most of the summer, free from
impediments.  In five days after leaving the eastern land, having passed
the north of Lancaster Sound, we came off the famous fishing-station of
Pond's Bay.



CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT.

The whole coast, in most places, was lined with a sheet of ice some ten
or fifteen miles wide, to the edge of which, in perfectly smooth water,
our ship, with many others at various distances, was made fast.

Fancy a day, warm to our feelings as one at the same time of year in
England, and an atmosphere of a brilliancy rarely or never seen at home,
not a breath of air stirring the glassy surface of the shining ocean;
while on the land side lofty mountains stretched away on either side,
with the opening of the bay in the centre, the rocks of numberless
tints, from the many-coloured lichens growing on them, rising as it were
out of a bed of snow still filling the valleys even in midsummer; while
mid-way, along the dark frowning crags which formed the coast, hung a
wavy line of semi-transparent mist, now tinged with a crimson hue, from
the almost horizontal rays of the sun, verging towards midnight.

These objects also, it must be understood, appeared so close at hand,
that I could scarcely persuade myself that an easy run across the level
ice would not carry me up to them; and yet all the while they were
upwards of a dozen miles off.

Most of the watch were "on the bran," that is, were in the boats
stationed along the edge of the ice, on the look-out for whales.  A few
hands only, besides myself, were on deck, taking our fisherman's walk,
with our fingers in our pockets, and the watch below were sound asleep
in their berths, when Captain Rendall, as was his custom, went aloft
before turning in, to take a look-out for fish from his crow's-nest.  We
watched him eagerly.  In a few minutes he hailed the deck, with the
joyful news that at about ten miles off there was a whole run of whales,
spouting away as fast as they could blow.

On the instant, instead of the silence and tranquillity which had before
prevailed, all was now noise, excitement, and hurry.  The sleepers
tumbled up from below; the harpooners got ready their gear and received
their orders from the master; the boats on the bran came alongside, to
have their kegs replenished with water, and their tubs with bread, beef,
and pork; while the more eager mates ran aloft, to assure themselves of
the best direction to take.

In a few minutes five boats were pulling out towards the run, as if the
lives of a ship's company depended on our exertions.  "Hurra, my lads,
hurra! give way," shouted our boat-steerers; and give way we did indeed.

Frequently, as we pulled on, we heard the loud blasts of the narwhals,
or sea-unicorns, as they came towards the bay in shoals; and each time I
fancied we must be close upon a whale, and that the sport was about to
begin, so loud a sound did they make.

The sea-unicorn is, when full grown, from thirteen to sixteen feet long,
and has a long spiral horn or tusk growing rather on one side of its
upper jaw, of from eight to ten feet in length.  The eyes are very
small, the blow-hole is directly over them, and the head is small,
blunt, and round, and the mouth cannot be opened wide.  The colour, when
young, is grey, with darker spots on it, and when full grown, of a
yellowish-white.  It is a very inoffensive animal.  It is said to use
its horn for the purpose of breaking through the ice to breathe, and
neither to destroy its prey nor to defend itself.  It swims very fast;
when struck, dives rapidly, but soon returns to the surface, and is
easily killed.  We passed several shoals of them on our pull, before we
got up to the run, near a small floe.

"There she blows!" exclaimed our boat-steerer, almost in a whisper, so
great was his eagerness and fear of disturbing the fish, as a large fish
appeared close to us.  We had a fine burst; the harpooner was on his
feet, and, his weapon glancing from his hand, struck the monster.

Instead, however, of diving, up he rose, clear almost from the water,
his head first, seeming, as his immense bulk appeared against the sky,
like some giant of the deep.  We thought he was going to leap on to the
floe; but, suddenly plunging his head beneath the water, his tremendous
tail was lifted above us.  I thought all was over.  One blow from it
would have annihilated us, and dashed our boat into a thousand
fragments; but the fish, instead, dived directly down under the floe,
his tail only splashing the water over us, and we were safe.

Then arose the exciting shout of "A fall, a fall!"  Other boats came
hurrying to our aid; but, alas, the line on a sudden slackened, and,
with a blank face, the harpooner began to haul it in.

The fish had shaken himself clear of the harpoon, and escaped.  Mighty
must have been the force used, for the massive iron shaft was twisted
and turned as a thin piece of wire might have been bent by a turn of the
hand.

But, hurra! there are plenty more fish near; and with a will, little
disconcerted, we gave way after them.  One was seen at some distance
from a floe, in which there was a crack.  Now it is known that a whale
generally rises close to the nearest floe; and if there is a crack in
it, that part is selected instead of the outer edge.  We got up to it
before the fish appeared; our oars were out of the water; our harpooner
standing up and watching eagerly every sign of the approach of our
expected prey, guiding by signs the boat-steerer, who, with his oar, was
silently impelling on the boat by sculling.

"Gently, boys--there's her eddy--two strokes more--now avast pulling!"

I could just see the head, and the large black mass of the monster's
back, rising slowly from the water as he spoke, forming a strong
contrast to the clear blue and white of the ice, and pure glittering
sea.  Then was heard the peculiar snorting blast, as she sent up in the
air two watery jets; but in an instant we were upon her.

"Harden up, my lads!" shouted the harpooner; and a lusty stroke sent us
almost on to the monster's back; then flew forth his unerring harpoon.
For a few moments, but for a few only, the whale seemed prepared to die
without a struggle: a convulsive quiver passed through its frame; then,
lifting up its flukes, it dived down, like its predecessor, beneath the
floe.  The iron had sunk in, and, raising our Blue Jack, with a loud
shout we proclaimed a fall.  Out flew the line with tremendous rapidity.
Now the harpooner, sitting on his thwart, attempted to check the fish
by turning the line round the bollard; but so quickly did it pass
through his hands, shielded by mitts, that, almost in spite of the water
thrown on it, smoke ascended from the burning wood, while the bows of
the boat were drawn through the underwash to the solid floe beyond.

At times we thought the boat's bow would have been drawn under the floe;
again the line-manager let the line run out, and she rose once more, to
be drawn down directly it was checked.  But it was all-important to tire
the fish, or otherwise all our line might be taken out before any
assistance could come.  Should this be the case, we might, after all,
lose the fish.  First one oar was elevated, to show our need of aid;
then a second, a third, and a fourth, as the line drew near what is
called the "bitter end."

"Hold on, Darby, hold on!" we shouted in our eagerness; for we feared we
might have to cut, or that the boat might be drawn under.  Our shipmates
tugged away at their oars with all their might; the boats from every
direction dashing through the water to the point where they thought the
fish might rise.  Our line at the very edge began to slacken--a sign
that she had ceased diving.  She appeared about a quarter of a mile off
or more, at the edge of the floe.

The quick-sighted eye of the first mate was on her almost before she had
reached the surface; and before she could again seek safety in the
ocean's depths, another harpoon was plunged into her.  We instantly
began hauling in our lines; but before long she was off again, swimming
away some depth below the surface, at a great rate, while we and the
other boat were towed after her.  Again the strain slackened, and she
rose once more; but this time her foes were close to her.  Another
harpoon was struck, but it was needless.  Without mercy lances were
thrust into her on every side, till the shouts which reached our ears,
as we slowly approached, hauling in our lines, proclaimed that our
victory was complete.  The fish was now secured, as I have before
described, and made fast to a floe, while all but one boat made chase
after another fish which blew temptingly near.

I ought to have said that, after securing the whale, all hands turned to
with a right good-will to attack the bread and meat we had with us; for
though whale-hunting beats hollow any other style of hunting, whether of
deer, elephants, or tigers, yet it cannot by any manner of means be
carried on without sustenance to the frame.

Away we went, then, the boat of the first mate leading.  He, too, was
successful in striking the fish.  Three times she dived; but each time
one or other of her enemies were upon her with harpoon and lances, while
her eddying wake was dyed with blood, and a thick pellicle of oil, which
attracted crowds of persevering Mollies to feast on it, marked her
course.

She at last rose close to a floe, when we all rushed in upon her.  The
cry of "Stern all!" was given.  Her death-flurry had come on.  High up
in the air she sent a stream of blood and oil, which fell thick upon us
in showers of spray, and on a hummock which was near; and the edges of
the ice were dyed of a crimson tint.

The weariness which began to oppress even the strongest, told us that we
had had work enough, and that a second night was approaching.  With
shouts of satisfaction, we now began the task of towing our prizes to
the ship.  It was slow and wearying work; but every fish we took brought
us nearer home, so we set cheerfully about it.

When we at length reached the ship, we found that we had been full
thirty-six hours away, nearly all the time in active exertion; and yet,
from the excitement of the work, neither did we feel unusually weary,
nor were we aware of the time which had passed.

I must remind my readers that this could only happen in a latitude and
at a period where there is little or no difference between night and
day.  Our fishing was most successful, partly owing to our good fortune
in meeting with the fish, but owing also much to the sagacity of our
captain and his officers.

Similar scenes were occurring every day; but though they were all nearly
as exciting, and the interest of the sport was never decreased, but
rather grew on us, yet, if I were to attempt to describe each chase, and
how each fish was killed, my readers would weary with the account.

For the greater part of a month we remained in the bay; and now the fish
becoming scarce, and the summer drawing to a conclusion, with a fair
breeze we made sail to the southward.

I spoke of our having passed Lancaster Sound, a short way to the south
of which Pond's Bay is situated.  I did not mention at the time the
interest with which I regarded that vast inlet--the mouth, one cannot
help fancying, to the unknown sea which bounds the northern shores of
the American continent.  I certainly think more of it now, while I am
writing, than I did then, because I have since become aware of the many
gallant exploits which have been there performed, and the bold attempts
which have been made to pierce through it to the seas beyond.

I need scarcely remind my readers that up that passage the veteran
arctic explorer, Sir John Franklin, and his brave companions, are
supposed to have proceeded.  Under his command, the _Erebus_ and
_Terror_ sailed from the Thames on the 26th May, 1845, to proceed up
Davis's Straits, then into Lancaster Sound, and from thence, without
stopping, to examine the coast, to push westward as fast as they could
towards Behring's Straits.

Captain Crozier had command of the _Terror_; and the expedition was
accompanied by the transport _Bonetto Junior_, commanded by Lieutenant
Griffith, and laden with provisions, clothing, etcetera, to be put on
board the ships in Davis's Straits.  Both vessels were fitted with
steam-engines and screw-propellers; but they did not go ahead with them
more than three knots an hour.  Lieutenant Griffith reports "that he
left them with every species of provisions for three entire years,
independently of five bullocks; they had also stores for the same time,
and fuel in abundance."

The expedition was last seen by the _Prince of Wales_ whaler, on the
26th July, in latitude 74 degrees 48 minutes north, longitude 66 degrees
13 minutes west, moored to an iceberg, and waiting for an opening in the
great body of ice, which I described as filling the middle of Baffin's
Bay, in order to reach the entrance of Lancaster Sound.  All hands were
well and in high spirits, and determined to succeed, if success were
possible; but since that day they have never been heard of.

Year after year have those gallant men in vain been looked for, but not
without hope of their return, nor without attempts made to discover and
rescue them.

When the year 1848 arrived, and no tidings had been received of the lost
voyagers, it was determined to send out three expeditions to look for
them.  One under Captain Kellett, who commanded the _Herald_ and Captain
Moore, who commanded the _Plover_; proceeded to Behring's Straits, and
after continuing along the American coast as far as they could go, they
were to despatch some whale-boats, to meet a second expedition under Sir
John Richardson and Dr Rae, who were to descend the Mackenzie River,
and there to examine the coast; while Sir James Ross, commanding the
_Enterprise_, and Captain Bird, the _Investigator_, were to proceed at
once to Lancaster Sound, and there to examine the coast as they
proceeded.

After leaving deposits of food and directions in several places, these
expeditions returned, without having discovered any traces of our
missing countrymen.

Notwithstanding the ill-success of the first set of expeditions, others
were without delay determined on.  Captain Collinson was appointed to
command the _Enterprise_, having under him Commander McClure in the
_Investigator_; and on the 20th of January, 1850, they sailed from
Plymouth for Behring's Straits, where they were to be joined by the
_Plover_.  They were to endeavour to reach Melville Island.

In the meantime, Dr Rae, who had remained in America, was ordered to
continue his search along the northern coast; while the Government of
the United States prepared an expedition for the same purpose.  The
British Government likewise fitted out four ships, under the command of
Captain Austin, in the _Resolute_; the _Assistance_, Captain Ommanney;
the _Pioneer_; Lieutenant Osborn; and the _Free Trader_--the two latter
screw-propeller steam-vessels.

Two private expeditions have also started.  The _Lady Franklin_ is
commanded by Mr Penny, a veteran whaling captain, who has with him a
fine brig as a tender, called the _Sophia_.  Captain Penny was to be
guided by circumstances, in following the course he judged expedient.
Besides this, the veteran explorer, Sir John Ross, has taken command of
another private expedition.  He is on board the _Felix_, a large
schooner, and has the _Mary_, a tender of twelve tons, with him.  They
also are to proceed to Barrow Straits, and to examine various headlands
on their way.  The _Mary_ is to be left at Banks' Land, as a vessel of
retreat, and the _Felix_ will proceed for another year as far as she can
to the westward, examining the coast on the way.

These last expeditions have been fitted out in consequence of the
energetic and persevering efforts of Lady Franklin, and the niece of Sir
John Franklin, Miss Sophia Cracroft; and those who have seen them, month
after month, indefatigably labouring in that, to them, holy cause,
hoping almost at times against hope, yet still undaunted, persevering
unweariedly, must feel and heartily pray that they may have their reward
in the happy return of the long-missing ones.

I was unable to refrain from giving this brief sketch of a subject in
which every man worthy of the name of Briton must feel the deepest and
warmest interest; and I now resume the thread of my more humble
narrative.



CHAPTER TWENTY NINE.

The return of darkness during the night gave us notice that we were
advancing towards the south, and that the short arctic summer was
drawing to a close.  We could no longer continue our course, hour after
hour without intermission, as before, the officers relieving each other
in the crow's-nest, and one watch following the other through one
long-protracted day.

It was impossible with any safety to proceed through that icy sea when
darkness came on, and therefore each night we were obliged to make the
ship fast to a floe till the return of daylight.  But those nights were
sometimes such as are not to be found in another realm.  The bright moon
floated in an atmosphere the most clear and brilliant that can be
conceived, while the silvery masses of ice lay sparkling beneath it, as
they floated on the calm and majestic ocean.

Then the sun at setting bathed the sea, the sky, the rugged mountains,
the pinnacles of the icebergs, and the lower floes with colours and
tints more beautiful and varied than the imagination can picture, far
more than words can describe.  But I should not dwell on such scenes,
except that I wish to observe that God distributes His bounties
throughout the globe with an equal hand; and that, barren and
inhospitable as is that land, no less than in southern realms are His
power and goodness displayed.

For about four days we had proceeded south, our course interrupted
whenever we met with a whale; and if she was killed, we made fast to a
floe till we had flensed and made off.  Some of the smaller whalers had
got full ships, and, with joyous shouts and light hearts on board, they
passed us on their way home; and others, unwilling to wait, returned not
full, so that we were nearly the last ship.

The weather continued beautifully fine, though now growing cold and
chilly.  We also had nearly a full ship, and were congratulating
ourselves on soon being able to follow those which had preceded us; but,
till we were quite full, we could not think of doing so while the ice
continued open, and there was a chance of a fish.  Consequently we were
all on the look-out, and more eager than ever to secure our prey.

One afternoon, while we were under weigh, the cheering sound of "A fish,
a fish! see, she blows!" from the crow's-nest, roused us all to
activity.  Two boats were immediately equipped and sent in chase.  I was
in one of them.  While we were yet close to the ship, another whale was
espied to the southward, at a very great distance.  The prospect of
getting two fish at a fall was more than could be resisted; and, while
we were killing our fish, the master made sail to come up with the
other.  We were successful; and, with less difficulty than usual, killed
the whale at the edge of a floe connected with the land, towards which
it had gone for shelter.  The whale was killed, and made fast to the
floe, waiting for the return of the ship.

While we were all engaged in the chase and capture, no one had noticed
the change in the weather.  From a fresh breeze, sufficiently to the
eastward to enable the ship to stand back towards us, it had fallen a
flat calm: the sea lay stretched out before us like a dark shining
glass, while an ominous stillness reigned through the air.

Andrew, who was line-manager in the boat to which I belonged, was the
first to observe it, as we were assembled on the floe busily engaged in
hauling in the lines.  He said nothing; but I saw him look up, and,
after glancing around for some moments, put his hand over his brow, and
gaze earnestly forth in the direction the ship had gone.  The anxious
expression his countenance instantly assumed alarmed me; and, though he
at once resumed his task of coiling away the lines, I saw that all was
not right.  I then cast my eyes seaward, to see whereabouts the ship
was.  I need scarcely say that I felt a very natural alarm, when I
discovered that she was almost hull down.

Andrew again looked up.  The anxious expression on his face had in no
way diminished; but he was not a man to alarm or unnerve his companions
by any unnecessary exclamation.

"Bear a hand, lads," he at length said.  "The sooner we get in our
lines, and tow the fish alongside, the better."

"I was thinking the same," said old David.  "And I say the sooner the
ship stands back to pick us up, the better for us.  We couldn't get the
fish alongside till long after dark, if she comes no nearer to us; and
how she's to do that, without a breeze springs up, I don't know."

These few remarks scarcely interrupted the task in hand.  When it was
accomplished, however, and we had time to look round us, we all began to
consider more about the difficulty of our position.  I must explain that
there were two boats, with a crew of five men each, so that we were ten
in all.  We had with us a few provisions and a cooking apparatus, with
our pea-jackets to put on while waiting after our heating exercise.

The harpooners and the elder men now began to consult what was best to
be done.  David gave it as his opinion that the other boats had been led
a long chase after a fish, and that the ship had followed thus far to
the southward to pick them up, with the intention of returning
immediately to us, when the calm so unexpectedly came on.

"There's no doubt about what has happened, mates; but I want to know
what those who have had experience in these seas think is about to
happen," said Andrew.  "There's something in the look of the sky and
sea, and the feel of the air, which makes me think a change is about to
take place.  I therefore ask whether we shall stay by the fish, or leave
her secured to the floe, and get aboard as fast as we can."

In answer to this proposal, which was certainly wise, and perfectly
justifiable, several opinions were given.  Some were for getting on
board without delay, others were for towing the fish towards the ship,
and several were for remaining by till the ship should return, though
the majority were for going back in the boats alone.

A more mighty Power than ours decided what was to be done; for, while we
were still speaking, a sudden gust of wind came blowing along the edge
of the ice from the northward, and throwing up the sea in so
extraordinary a manner, that, had the boats been exposed to it, they
could scarcely have lived.  Then the wind as suddenly fell, and again
all was calm as before.

"Now's your time, lads; we must get on board as quick as we can,"
shouted old David.  While, accordingly, we were with additional care
securing the whale to the floe, the sky, which was already overclouded,
began to send down dense showers of snow, which so obscured the
atmosphere, that the sharpest eye amongst us could no longer distinguish
the ship.  To attempt to get on board under these circumstances, would
be more dangerous than remaining where we were; so, putting on our
Flushing jackets, we got into the boats, and drew a sail over our
shoulders, to shelter ourselves as much as possible from the storm.

The snow, which had begun to fall in flakes, now changed to a powder, so
dense that it appeared as if night had already come on.

"It's very dark, Andrew," I remarked; "what can be going to happen?"

"Why, I'll tell you, Peter," answered David, who heard my question.
"There's going to be a harder gale of wind than we've had since you came
on board; and if the old ship don't stand up to her canvas, and fetch us
before night, there are few who would wish to change places with us,
that's all."

I did not by any means like this announcement, for I felt that this time
old David was not joking with me.  However, our only course was to
remain where we were.  If the gale did come on, we were safer on the ice
than on the sea; and if it passed off, the ship would not fail to come
and take us on board.

In the meantime, we were continually putting our heads from under our
shelter, to cast anxious glances towards where we supposed the ship to
be, and in every other direction, to discover if there was any opening
in the thick cloud of snow which dropped around us.  I say dropped, for
I never before saw snow fall so perpendicularly, and in such minute
powdery particles.  The peculiar and oppressive gloominess which filled
the air, made one feel that something unusual was approaching, otherwise
I could scarcely fancy that in so perfect a calm any danger could be at
hand.

For two hours we sat cramped up in the boat, and, in spite of our warm
clothing, suffering not a little from the cold, which was greater than
for some time past we had experienced.  Suddenly the snow ceased, and
with eager haste, Andrew, David, and some others jumped out of the boat
and climbed to the top of the nearest hummock, from whence they could
get a wider look-out than on the flat ice.

With feelings which it were vain to attempt to describe, we looked for
the ship, and could nowhere see her.  To the southward there was a thick
mist, caused by the snow falling in that direction, and in this she was
probably shrouded.

On looking to the north, we perceived in the horizon a bright luminous
appearance, something like the ice-blink, but brighter, and which seemed
to increase in height.  David looked at it for an instant, and then
shouted out, "Bear a hand, my lads, and haul up the boats--the gale is
upon us!"

Suiting the action to the word, he rushed down from the hummock,
accompanied by the rest of us, and we commenced hauling one of the boats
up on the ice.  While all hands were engaged at this work, and before it
was completely accomplished, down came the gale upon us with terrific
violence, almost lifting us off our legs, and hurling us into the now
foaming and hissing sea.  The snow, which lay thick on the ice, was
lifted up and blown in clouds over us; the ocean, which before lay so
tranquil, was now lashed into fury.

"Haul away, my lads, and run the boat up," shouted Andrew, his voice
scarcely heard amid the tumult.  We had taken out most of the things
from the other boat, and, having secured the first, were about to haul
her up, when a heavy sea, striking the ice, broke off a piece to which
she was secured, and carried her and the harpooner belonging to her, who
was standing near her, far beyond our reach.  To have attempted to
launch the boat to go to his rescue would have been madness.  One loud,
hopeless shriek was heard, and he sunk for ever.

We had little time to mourn for our poor messmate--our own condition
occupied all our thoughts.  At the same moment that the boat was carried
away, the sea broke the whale from the lashings which secured her to the
ice, and, without our having any power to preserve our prize, it was
driven down along the edge of the floe, from which it gradually floated
away.

"What's to be done now?"  I asked, with several others, in a voice of
despair.

"Trust in God," answered Andrew in a solemn voice.  "Peter, remember we
have been in a worse position before, and He saved us.  He may, if He
wills it, save us again."

"But how are we ever to get back to the ship, with only one boat to
carry us?" asked some one.

"Captain Rendall is not a man likely to desert his people," observed
David.  "The ship will come back and take us off, when the gale is
over--no fear of that, mates."

Notwithstanding the tone of confidence with which he spoke, I suspected
that he did not feel quite as much at his ease as he pretended to be.
Our position was indeed, I felt, most critical, though I did not express
my fears.  The gale might continue for days, and our ship, if she
escaped shipwreck, which too probably would be her lot, would be at all
events driven so far to the south, that she would find it utterly
impossible to return.  The ice, even, on which we stood, might any
instant break up from the force of the waves; and if we could not
retreat farther back in time, our destruction would be almost certain.
We had a boat; but even in smooth water she could scarcely do more than
contain us all, and in such a sea as was likely to be running for some
time she could not live ten minutes.  We could have no hope, therefore,
of regaining the ship in her; and should we be compelled, therefore, to
quit the ice, she could afford us no refuge.

We had a small quantity of provisions,--enough, with economy, to sustain
life for two or three days, though not more than was intended to supply
a couple of good meals, should we have been kept away from the ship a
sufficient time to require them.  We had some boats' sails, a cooking
apparatus, two harpoons, spears, and two fowling-pieces, brought by the
harpooners to kill a few dovekies for our messes.  Several things, with
a set of lines and harpoons, had been lost in the other boat.

For some time after the fatal catastrophe I have described, we stood
looking out seaward, undecided what steps to take.  The wrenching
asunder of some huge masses of the ice, which the sea drove up close to
the boat, and the violent heaving to which the whole body was subjected,
showed us that we must rouse ourselves to further exertion.  We had no
need of consultation to judge that we must without delay get farther
away from the sea; and, having laden our boat with all our stores, we
began to work her along the ice towards the shore, which lay bleak and
frowning some ten miles or so from us.

Our progress was slow; for the ice, though thick, was much rotted from
the heat of the whole summer, and in some places it was very rough,
while shallow pools of water constantly appeared in our path, and
compelled us to make a circuit round them.  When we had accomplished
nearly two miles, it was proposed that we should wait there to see if
any change took place in the weather.  There was no longer a motion in
the ice, and Andrew and David gave it as their opinion that there was
consequently no danger of its breaking up so far from the edge, and that
we might remain there in safety.  Night was now fast approaching; and
the gale, instead of abating, blew with greater fury than at first.

The exertion had somewhat warmed us; but the moment we stopped, the cold
wind whistled through our clothing, and showed us that we must prepare
some shelter for the night, if we would avoid being frozen to death.

Another point we also discovered was, that we required some one to take
the lead, and to act as chief officer among us.  The remaining harpooner
would, by right, have taken command; but, though expert in the use of
his weapon, he was not a man by character or knowledge well fitted to
command the respect of the rest of us.  This we all felt, as he probably
did also, as he raised no objection when David proposed that we should
elect an officer whom we should be bound to obey, till we could regain
our ship, should we ever be so fortunate so to do.

Three were first proposed, but Andrew Thompson was finally selected;
for, though he was known not to have so much practical experience as
several of the others, his firmness, sagacity, and high moral character
were acknowledged by all.

"And now, my lads," he said, when he had modestly accepted the office,
"the first thing we must do is to build a snow-wall, to shelter us from
the wind; and as soon as the wind moderates, we'll have up a flagstaff
on the top of the highest hummock, to show our friends where to look for
us."

According to this advice, we set to work to collect the snow, which did
not lay more than three inches thick on the ice.  We first made it into
cakes, about four times the size of an ordinary brick, and then piled
them up in a semicircular form, the convex side being turned to the
wind.  Over the top we spread a boat's sail, which was kept down by
lumps of snow being placed on the top of it.  The canvas was also
allowed to hang over a couple of lances lashed together in front, so
that we had a very tolerable shelter.  The snow was scraped away from
the interior; and such spars and planks as we could get out of the boat
were spread at the bottom, with a sail over them, to form our bed.

These arrangements were accomplished as the long twilight turned into
total darkness.  We lay down, and prepared to pass the dreary hours till
the sun rose again as best we could.  I thought of the time I had spent
on the iceberg, and, remembering Andrew's words, I did not despair.  I
slept, as did my companions, many of them with the careless indifference
to danger which has become the characteristic of most British seamen.

I was awoke by the excessive cold, though we kept as close together
within our shelter as we could, for the sake of the warmth.  My
companions were still asleep, and I was afraid if I moved of arousing
them.  The storm still raged furiously without, and I could not again
compose myself to sleep for the noise it made.

I lay awake, listening to its whistling sound as it blew over the ice,
when I fancied that I heard a low grumbling noise, like a person with a
gruff voice talking to himself.  At last this idea grew so strong on me,
that I crept quietly to the curtain in front of our hut, and, lifting up
a corner, looked out.  The stars were shining forth from the sky, and
there was a thin crescent moon, by the light of which I saw a white
monster leaning over the gunwale of our boat, examining, it appeared to
me, the things in her.  I was not long in recognising the visitor to be
a large, white, shaggy polar bear.  He first took up one thing, and,
smelling it and turning it over on every side, replaced it.  When,
however, he came to a piece of beef, or anything eatable, he without
ceremony appropriated it, and was thus rapidly consuming our slender
store of provisions.  "This will never do," I thought to myself.  "If
this goes on, we shall be to a certainty starved."

We had fortunately brought the two guns into the hut, that they might
run no risk of getting damp.  They were both loaded; and, drawing back,
I got hold of one, hoping to shoot the bear before he was disturbed.  If
I aroused my companions first, they to a certainty would make some
noise, which would probably frighten away our visitor, and we should
lose both the bear and the provisions.

When I again put my head from under the sail, he was still at work.  I
was on my knees, and had got the gun to my shoulder, when he saw me.  He
was fortunately on the other side of the boat; for no sooner did his eye
fall on me, than he began slowly to walk along the side, holding on by
the gunwale, evidently intending to get close to me.  "My best chance is
to hit him in the eyes," I thought, "and blind him.  If he once gets
hold of me, he'll give me a squeeze I shall not like."

Before he had moved many steps I fired full in his face.  The report of
the gun, and the loud growl of rage and pain uttered by the brute,
instantly awakened my companions.  They started to their feet, but had
some difficulty to understand what had happened.  The bear, on being
wounded, nearly fell headlong into the boat; but, recovering himself, he
endeavoured to find his way round to the spot where he had seen me.

"A bear, a bear!"  I sung out.  "Get your lances ready and run him
through."  Most fortunately I had hit the monster so directly in the
eyes, that he could not see his way, and this prevented him from rushing
directly on me; for though I might have leaped out of his way round the
back of the hut, he would in all probability have seized upon one of my
half-awake companions.

This momentary delay gave time to Andrew to spring to his feet, and to
draw out a lance from under the sail.  He appeared at the entrance of
the hut, just as the bear, slightly recovering himself, was rushing
forward, with his mouth open and covered with foam, and a stream, which
I could see even in that light, trickling down his face.  His paws were
stretched out, and in another instant he would have had me in his deadly
clutch, when Andrew dashed at him with his spear.  The bear seized the
handle, and endeavoured to wrench it from his assailant; but the iron
had entered his breast, and, in his attempt to rush on, it pierced him
to the heart.

The rest of the party were by this time awake, and, armed with whatever
they could first seize, and seeing what had happened, they all set up a
shout of triumph, every one of us forgetting entirely for the moment the
very precarious position in which we were placed.

We had several reasons to be satisfied with having killed the bear.  In
the first place, had he put his snout into our hut while we were all
asleep, he might have killed some of us; secondly, we had saved most of
our provisions by our discovering him; and what he had taken was amply
repaid by the sustenance his flesh would afford us, and the use to which
we might turn his skin, for bedding or clothing, should we have to
remain any time on the ice.

"Our friend there has given us a lesson to keep a better look-out in
future," remarked Andrew.  "If it had not been for Peter, he might have
carried off every bit of our food; so we must take it by turns to keep
watch.  I'll stand the first."

"And I the second, willingly," I exclaimed.  "I've no inclination to
sleep, and if I did, I should be fancying all the time that the bear had
me in his grasp."

So it was arranged each man should take an hour at a time, as near as
could be guessed, and thus all would have plenty of rest, and be fit for
work in the daytime.

Before the rest turned in again, we drew the carcase of the bear close
up to the hut, so that, if any of his fellows should come near him, they
might to a certainty be seen, and shot without difficulty.

Extraordinary as it may seem, the rest of the people were very soon
asleep again.  Andrew and I were the only two awake.  The gun which had
been fired was reloaded, and, having placed the two close at hand, we
sat down just inside the curtain, leaving only a small aperture on
either side of it, through which to look out.  We also placed a couple
of lances within our reach, that, should any more bears visit us, as we
hoped they might, we might have a better chance of killing them; for
their flesh, though rank, is not unwholesome, and, at all events, it
would enable us to support life as long as it lasted, independently of
the value of their skins.

After we had made our preparations, Andrew advised me to lie down and to
try to sleep; but I told him that I was too much excited, and that it
was impossible, and that, if he would allow me, I would much rather sit
up and watch with him; or, if he liked, I would watch while he slept,
and would call him if anything occurred.

"Neither can I sleep, Peter," he answered: "You and the rest have chosen
me to guide you, and I doubly feel the responsibility of my office; for
I need not tell you that I think our position very bad.  From the first
time I saw you, I found that you were well educated, and I since have
had reason to place confidence in you.  Now, Peter, I am afraid that,
when we are surrounded with far greater difficulties than we have yet
met with, some of these poor fellows will lose heart, and sink under
them, unless their spirits are kept up, and a good example is set them.
I therefore rely upon you to assist me, by showing that, young as you
are, you do not shrink from danger, and that you place a firm reliance
on the power of God to deliver us, notwithstanding all the appearance to
the contrary."

I told Andrew that I thanked him for the confidence he placed in me, and
that I hoped I should not disappoint his expectations.

"I know you will not, Peter; but I tell you that our courage will be
severely tried," he answered.

"Why, don't you think the ship will be able to take us off?"  I asked.

"I do not think she will, Peter," he replied.  "Before the gale is over,
she will have been driven very far to the south; and it will take her so
many days to beat back, if the wind should continue foul, that Captain
Rendall will consider we must have perished, and that the attempt would
be useless, and that he should not be justified in thus risking the
safety of his ship."

"What hope, then, have we?"  I asked.

"My greatest hope is, that we may be seen by some other ship passing
after the gale has moderated," he answered.  "If that fails to us, we
must endeavour to pass the winter on shore.  Others have done so before
now; and I do not see why we should not manage to live as well as the
ignorant natives who inhabit this country."

"If we had powder, and shot, and fuel, and timber to build a house with,
I should say we might do it," I answered; "but as we have none of these
things, I am afraid we shall be frozen to death as soon as the cold sets
in."

"The natives live, and we must try to find out how they contrive to do
it," was the tenor of his answer.

Miserable as the night was, and slow as the hours seemed to drag along,
they at last passed away.  We had no further visits from the bears, nor
were we otherwise disturbed.  When daylight came, there was nothing in
the prospect to cheer our hearts.  On one side there was a sheet of ice
covered with snow, with high rocky cliffs beyond; and, on the other, the
wide expanse of ocean, still tossing and foaming with the fierce storm
which raged over it.



CHAPTER THIRTY.

Our companions slept on, and, while they happily were able to forget the
hardships and dangers which were in store for them, we could not find it
in our hearts to awake them.  At last, one after the other, they awoke.
As they did so, they went and looked out at the dreary prospect I have
described, and then returning, sat themselves down in gloomy silence in
the hut.

On seeing the discontent, not to say despair, which their countenances
exhibited, I remembered the conversation I had with Andrew in the night,
and determined at once to try and follow his advice; so I went and sat
down with the rest.

"Well, mates, things don't look very pleasant, I'll allow, but they
might be worse, you know," I remarked.

"I don't see how that can be," answered one of the most surly of the
party.  "Here are we left by our ship, without food or a house, at the
beginning of the winter; and it's cold enough, I've heard, in these
parts, to freeze up every drop of blood in the veins in ten minutes."

"Andrew and Terence, and Tom and I, were once much worse off, when we
were left on the iceberg," I observed.  "As for food, too, we've got a
good lump there, which came to our door of its own accord.  We've every
chance of taking plenty more; and I've heard say the country is full of
game of all sorts.  Then, as for a house, we must try and build one, if
no ship comes to take us off.  Mind, I don't say that none will come;
only if we are left here, we need not fancy that we are going to die in
consequence."

"Faith, Peter's the boy for brightening a fellow's heart up," exclaimed
Terence, rousing himself from the despondency which he, with the rest,
had begun to feel.  "Why, mates, perhaps after all we may have as merry
a winter of it as if we got home, though they do say the nights are
rather long at that time."

Terence's remark did more good than mine.  There was something
inspiriting in the tone of his voice; and in a few minutes all hands
were ready to perform their best,--at all events, to do what Andrew
considered for the public good.  He first ordered us to have breakfast,
for we had been in no humour to take any supper the night before.  We
accordingly brought in our provisions, and were about to commence on
them, when I suggested that we should preserve them for times of greater
necessity, and begin, instead, upon the bear.

"But how are we to cook him?" asked some one.  "We can't eat him raw,
and we've got no oil for the kitchen."

The kitchen was the cooking apparatus I have spoken of.  It was simply
an oil lamp with several wicks, and a couple of saucepans, a kettle, and
frying-pan to fit over it.  The crude oil drawn from the last fish we
had killed served for it.

"As to that, lads, he'll supply the oil to cook himself with," remarked
Andrew.  "Let us skin him and cut him up at once, and then he'll be all
ready to pack if we want to travel from this place."

We soon cut up the bear, very clumsily I will allow, for there was no
butcher among us; and collecting the fattest parts to serve as fuel for
our lamp, we soon had some bear-steaks frying away under our noses.  We
took a very little of our biscuit in addition, but Andrew advised us to
economise it to the utmost.

The skin was taken off as neatly as we could manage the work, and then,
having scraped the inside clean, we hung it up in front of our hut to
dry.  We spent the whole day anxiously looking out for some sign of the
gale abating, for we knew that every hour of its continuance would send
our ship farther and farther away from us; but in the evening it blew as
hard as it had done at the first.

The wind was too high, and cut us too keenly, to allow us to go from
under shelter of our hut in search of seals; but we were not entirely
idle.  In the first place we drew the boat up to it, and secured our
remaining provisions.  We also cut up the flesh of the bear into long
strips, that they might more easily dry in the air; besides this, we
heightened the walls of our habitation, and sloped them inward, so as to
enable the sail to cover the hut more completely.

The greater number of the men, however, showed little inclination to
work, preferring to pass the day sitting crowded together in the hut in
a sort of dreamy forgetfulness of the present, without speaking or
moving.  I own that few positions could be much more disheartening than
ours; but I saw the necessity of keeping the intellects awake, ready for
active exertion, if we would save our lives.

We cooked some of our bear-steaks for supper, and boiled up a little
cocoa; so that for food we might have been worse off.  We found also
that the lamp, small as it was, diffused a warmth throughout the hut,
which enabled us to pass the night much more agreeably than we had the
previous one.

The bears seemed to have been aware of the fate of their brother, for
none came near us.  Another morning dawned; and though the gale still
blew strong, it had somewhat abated; but yet it was still necessary to
keep under shelter.

"As soon as the wind drops we must go sealing," remarked Andrew.  "If we
could get a good number of seals, or unies, or walrus, we might keep our
lamp burning all night and day through the winter.  Their flesh is not
bad to eat; and then, you know, we can make boots, and caps, and jackets
of their skins.  We must look out to get them before the cold sets in."

"Then you think we shall have to winter here?"  I asked.

"If the gale had taken off yesterday, I should have expected our ship
back; but now I do not think she will attempt it," he answered
positively.  We were standing outside the hut, some way from the rest.
"However, two ships were left in Pond's Bay when we came away, and they
may see us as they pass, or we may pull off to them if the sea goes
down.  Peter, we should be thankful that things are no worse.  Cold and
inhospitable as is this country, we have the means of existing in it, if
we have sense to employ them.  Even now the wind has dropped and the sea
has gone down.  It will be as well to get our signal-post up, in case
either of the ships should pass."

I agreed with him; and calling Terence to accompany us, we told the rest
that we were going to the edge of the ice to see how things were, and to
set up a signal.

Our flagstaff consisted of a spar, with a lance handle as a topmast, and
the flag was the jack used in the boat to show that a fish was fast.  We
took also some line, to serve as shrouds for the staff.  We three set
off, then, not without some difficulty in advancing; for the wind was
still so strong, that we were almost taken off our legs.

The distance, however, was not so great as we expected, for the sea had
broken off the edge of the ice for full half a mile.  Some of the pieces
had been washed away, and others had been hurled far up on the surface,
so as to form a high and rugged wall.  We had taken the precaution of
bringing two hatchets with us; and having selected the highest hummock
near the sea, we chopped the summit of it perfectly level.  We then cut
out blocks of ice, and piled them up, till we had built a pyramid some
ten feet high.  We left places on which we could stand, to enable us to
do this.  We then planted our staff in the centre, and secured the
shrouds to some large blocks of ice we had dragged up for the purpose.

We thus formed a very conspicuous mark, but we felt that it was too
probable the ship might not pass near enough to see it.  For some
minutes we contemplated our work, and then prepared to return to our
companions.  Just then Terence happened to turn his eyes to the
north-east.  He stopped and looked eagerly out.  "A sail, a sail!" he
exclaimed; "she's coming down right before the wind."

"It's the only way she could come, mate," said Andrew, not in the least
way excited by the announcement.  "But are you sure you see a sail?
Don't you think it may be the wing of a seafowl?"

"'Tis too steady for that," answered Terence.  "If we get to the top of
the flagstaff hummock, in another minute or so we shall know to a
certainty."  In spite of the cutting cold wind to which we were exposed,
we stood for several minutes eagerly watching the white spot which
Terence asserted was a sail.

I asked if it might not be an iceberg; but Andrew said an iceberg never
travelled fast before the wind, because, although a great deal of it was
exposed above the water, there was a much larger proportion below, on
which, of course, the wind had no influence; and he wound up his
observation by pronouncing the spot to be the topsail of a ship.

"Huzza, then, mates, we shall get off this time," shouted Terence, who
had no wish to winter in the arctic regions.

"We must not be too sure of that," answered Andrew.  "Let me ask you,
even if we are sure, how are we to get off with the sea there breaking
on this sheet of ice?  We must not let our hopes blind us to the truth."

"You are always croaking, Andrew," said Terence in a vexed tone.  He
was, like many another man, without much hope, and who, the smaller it
grows, is the more inclined to be angry with the person whose
plain-speaking tends still further to decrease it.

On came the ship, scudding at a great rate before the gale, right down
along the edge of the floe.  She seemed, as well as we could then judge,
to be about three miles off.  We were obliged to descend, and to run
about to keep ourselves warm; but every instant one of us was climbing
to the top of the hummock to watch the progress of the stranger.  She
was drawing near when some of our companions discovered her; and we now
saw them come hurrying along over the ice towards us, forgetting
everything in the expectation of being able to escape from our perilous
situation.

By the time they reached us she was just abreast of us, running under
her fore-topsail at headlong speed before the wind.  How anxiously we
watched her, expecting her every instant to heave to; but she glided
onward, unconscious of the agony and despair she was creating in our
hearts.  We waved our hats; we pointed to our signal staff; we leaped up
on the hummock; we even, in the extravagance of our eagerness, shouted
out at the top of our voices, as if sounds so faint could reach her.
But all we could do was vain.  On she passed in her course, as if we
were not in existence.

"Fire our guns," said Andrew; "they might possibly be heard."  But in
their hurry our companions had left the guns at the hut.

All hope of making ourselves seen or heard was now abandoned; the ship
flew by, and soon her hull sank below the horizon.  Some of the men, on
this, gave way to impious exclamations of discontent, but Andrew checked
them.  "It is God's will that we remain here, mates," he said.  "How do
we know but that it is for our benefit that we are left where we are?
That ship, which we are now so anxious to be on board, may before the
night be crushed beneath an iceberg, or perhaps dashed to pieces on the
rocks in sight of home, while we may yet be destined to see again our
country and our families.  Believe me, mates, all is for the best; and
though we don't see the way we are to escape, it may now be ready for
us."

The tone of religious confidence in which Andrew spoke, contributed much
to revive the spirits of our companions.  The gale was also rapidly
decreasing, and hopes were therefore expressed that, should the last
ship appear, the boat might be able to reach her, even though she might
be too far off to see our signal.  However, day drew on, and no ship
appeared.  The returning darkness warned us that we must get back to our
hut without delay, or not only might we not be able to find it, but it
might be visited by our friends the bears, and our remaining provisions
might be destroyed.  We accordingly hurried back, and were only just in
time to prevent the latter catastrophe; for, as we got to the hut, we
observed three large objects moving over the snow towards the land.
They were no doubt bears, who, when they saw us running up, had been
frightened away from the food, to which their keen scent had attracted
them.  I rushed into the hut for a gun, intending to make chase after
them; but Andrew told me to desist, as I should not have the slightest
chance of killing one, and that they might possibly turn upon me and
destroy me.

The third night we spent in our hut was much colder than the former
ones, though there was less wind.  One of us by turns kept watch, as
before.  I was asleep, and it was Terence's watch, when I was awakened
by a loud noise like thunder, and a shout from him which made all the
party start on their feet.  The noise continued.  It too much reminded
us of that we had heard when the ice, in which we had been beset in our
passage through Baffin's Bay, had begun to break up.

"What's the matter now?" exclaimed several voices.

"The floe must be separating, and we are perhaps going to be drifted
away from the shore," remarked old David, "But never mind, mates, we
can't be much worse off than we were, and a short cruise won't do us any
harm."

"How can we tell that the floe will not break up into small pieces, or
perhaps drift out and join the middle ice?"  I inquired.  I thought such
a thing might possibly occur, and I wished to secure our retreat on
shore.

"There is little doubt that the floe is separating," said Andrew.  "But
at all events we can do nothing while it remains dark.  As soon as
daylight appears, we must decide, without loss of time, what is to be
done."

The noise continued for a considerable time, then all was silent; and I
suppose that the piece we were on had already begun to drift away from
the main body of ice.  I fancied, even, that I could feel a peculiar
undulating movement, as if it was acted on by the waves.  As soon as
morning dawned we eagerly looked out.  At first there appeared to be no
change; but, as the light increased, we found that between us and the
main ice there was a wide passage of nearly a quarter of a mile.

The floe we were on was about a mile across in the narrowest part, and
two or three miles long.  It seemed, while we watched the land, to be
advancing towards the northward and eastward.  Our flagstaff was on the
same piece, and was not disturbed.  But another object met our sight
which engaged all our attention.  It was a sail to the southward.  With
what deep anxiety we watched her, I need scarcely say.

"Which way is she heading?" was the general cry.

"To the southward," exclaimed old David.  "She'll not come near us,
depend on that, mates; so we need not look after her.  She must have
slipped by in the night or in the grey of the morning, or we should have
seen her."

"But don't you think she may be the _Shetland Maid_ come to look for
us?"  I asked.  "Who is certain that she is standing away from us? for I
am not."

One or two sided with me; but the others were of opinion that the
stranger was standing from us.

Meantime the floe drifted out to sea.  There was no immediate danger,
and we might have remained as secure as we were before, provided it did
not come in contact with any other floe, which, had it done, it would
probably have broken into fragments, and we should have forthwith
perished.  All hands were too busy watching the ship to think much on
this subject.  We watched, but we watched in vain.

If she was our own ship, Captain Rendall must have fancied that he had
come as far north as he had left us; and seeing the ice broken and
changed, and floes drifting about, he must have thought we had perished.
At all events, after an hour's earnest watching, the most sanguine were
compelled to acknowledge that the top-sails were gradually again sinking
in the horizon; and before long they were out of sight, and all hope of
escaping that year was at an end.

By this time we had been, as it were, somewhat broken in to expect
disappointments, so no one expressed his feelings so strongly as on the
former occasion.  We were also obliged to think of means for securing
our present safety.  Two things were to be considered.  If we remained
on the floe, should it break up we must be destroyed; besides this, we
could procure no food nor fuel.

After Andrew had heard all of us express our opinions, he resolved to
quit the floe and retreat to the main ice.  "We'll stay on the edge of
it for one day, or two if you wish it, and we'll keep a bright look-out
for a ship; but it's my opinion that the last has passed, and that we
had better make up our minds to winter on shore.  The sooner we begin
our preparations the better chance we have of weathering out the time."

This plan being agreed to, two hands were sent to unstep the flagstaff
and bring it forward, while the rest of us dismantled our hut, and
dragged the boat to the edge of the floe nearest the shore.  It was time
that we should be off, for the channel had already widened to half a
mile.  Though the water was perfectly smooth, the boat, with all our
party and our stores, had as much in her as she could conveniently
carry.

A quarter of an hour served to carry us across, when we again hauled our
boat up; and choosing the highest hummock in the neighbourhood, we again
erected our flagstaff.  Before, however, we began to build a hut, we
examined the condition of the ice round us, to ascertain whether there
was a probability of another floe breaking away with us.  On finding it,
according to the opinion of the old hands, perfectly secure, we put up a
tent in the same manner as the last, though of rather a larger size.
This done, we cooked and ate the first food we had tasted that day, for
we had been too busy all the morning to think of eating.

Andrew then urged us to make diligent search for any of the oil-giving
fish which we could catch.  Accordingly, armed with our harpoons and
lances, we set out, leaving one hand to guard the boat and to keep a
look-out for a passing sail.

We first kept along the edge of the ice; but meeting with no success, we
turned towards the land to look for any pools which might exist in the
ice.  After looking about for some time, we came to one nearly the
eighth of a mile across.  In it were a shoal of narwhals or
sea-unicorns, every now and then rising above the water to breathe, and
then diving down again in search of prey.  Could we have brought the
boat so far, we should have had no difficulty in killing them, but now
it depended how near they would rise to the edge.  It was tantalising to
watch them and not to be able to get hold of any.

We divided into three parties, for we had as many harpoons; and at last
one rose within reach of David's weapon.  He launched it forth, and
struck the fish in the neck.  Down it dived rapidly; but it soon had to
return to the surface, when we hauled it towards the edge and despatched
it quickly with our lances, after which we hauled it upon the ice.  In
the same manner another was afterwards killed.  These were indeed
prizes; for, though not so valuable as the seals, their flesh and oil
were most welcome.

We found that they were too heavy to drag over the ice whole, so we cut
off the blubber and some meat, and left the kral for the benefit of the
bears.  The horns would, under other circumstances, have been valuable;
but we could not afford to burden ourselves with more than what was
absolutely necessary.

We at last got back to the hut with our prize; and the hand who was left
to watch reported that no sail had appeared.  We had now an abundance of
oil, so that we were able to dress the flesh of the bear in it, as also
to keep up a light in the hut all night long.  The next day, if the
_Shetland Maid_ did not return, and if no other ship appeared, we were
to form our plan for future operations.  All that day the look-out
hummock was occupied by one of our party with his eye anxiously looking
seaward; but hour after hour passed away, and no sail appeared.

What a sinking at the heart, what a blank, desolate feeling came over
us, as our last hope vanished!  Hitherto we had been buoyed up with the
expectation of relief; now the most sanguine felt that the last whaler
had departed for the season.

It was my turn to look out just before it grew dark.  The floe on which
we had floated for so long had now drifted a considerable distance off,
and had broken into three almost circular pieces.  As I watched, it was
met by several other floes of equal magnitude, which were revolving,
some in one direction, some in another, without any apparent cause.
Then began a most furious contest between them,--hurled together, they
overlapped and crushed on each other, till in the course of a few
minutes they had broken into a thousand fragments.  I was indeed
thankful that we had not remained on the floe in the hopes of being seen
by a ship.

Darkness coming on, and it being impossible any longer to distinguish
objects at a distance, I returned to the hut.  I found my companions
sitting round our kitchen in the hut, and discussing plans for the
future.  Some were still anxious to get on to the southward in the boat,
in the hopes of overtaking some whaler which might have stopped to fish;
but Andrew strongly urged them at once to abandon all hopes of escaping
that year, and at once, while they had health and strength, and the
weather remained moderate, to make preparations for the winter.  He
showed the extreme improbability of our overtaking ships which must have
been driven very far to the south by the gale, as also the danger of
being swamped should the slightest sea get up; while, should we not
succeed in our attempt, we should be worn out, and, incapable of
providing for the future, must inevitably be destroyed.

I voted with Andrew, and also spoke in favour of his plan, showing, from
what I had read and heard, that, notwithstanding the cold, with good
management we might preserve our lives and our health throughout an
arctic winter.  At last this plan was agreed to by all, and we lay down
once more to sleep away the time till daylight.

We were up by dawn; and, having laden our boat with all our stores, we
commenced our toilsome journey.  Our purpose was to make the land, and
then to travel along over the ice till we should arrive at some valley,
or at the mouth of a river, where we might hope to find some clear water
and opportunities of catching fish.

Though the land appeared quite near, it was late in the day before we
reached it.  What, then, was our disappointment to find not even a beach
on which to build our hut for the night!  The high black cliff came
completely down to the sea, and was fringed by masses of ice piled up
against it, so that we could not even reach it without difficulty and
danger.  Our only course, therefore, was to continue along under it,
till we should meet with the opening of which we were in search.

I ought to have said that we had protected the keel and bilge of our
boat by securing some spars along them, so that she was able to pass
over the ice without damage; but the labour of dragging her was very
great, and some even proposed leaving her behind rather than have the
trouble of conveying her, till Andrew reminded them that on her might
depend our only means of procuring food, and of ultimately escaping next
year.

We performed a distance of nearly three miles along the shore, under the
same lofty unbroken cliffs; and then Andrew called a halt, and we made
our usual preparations for passing the night.



CHAPTER THIRTY ONE.

For three days we travelled on; and, supposing that we advanced ten
miles a day, for thirty miles not a break of any description appeared in
the overhanging cliffs on our right.  The men had begun to grumble; and
those who had wished to proceed in the boat by water, asserted that, if
their advice had been followed, we should have made greater progress
with less fatigue.

Andrew told them in answer that if they would but keep up their spirits,
and persevere for one day longer, we should in all probability come to
some opening where we might get on shore, and near which, if the sea was
smooth, we might launch the boat and try to get some more fish.  This
encouraged them; and the following morning, with renewed spirits, we
continued on our way.

As the day drew on, there appeared but little chance of Andrew's promise
being fulfilled, for, far as the eye could reach, was the same unbroken
line of cliff.  It was drawing towards sunset, when I caught sight of
what appeared to me a ship thrown on her beam-ends, close under the
cliff.  The rest laughed at me, and telling me I must be deceived, asked
me how a ship could get there.

I answered I was certain that I was not mistaken, and pointed out to
them the object I had seen.  It appeared to me, when I first saw it, as
in a sort of shallow cavern under the cliff; but before we could make
any progress towards it, the shades of evening completely obscured it,
and long before we could reach it we were obliged to encamp.

We talked a good deal about it as we sat round our lamp in our usual ice
cottage; and I dreamed all night that a strange ship had appeared, and
that we were to go on board in the morning.

When the morning did really come, I eagerly looked out for the first
rays of light falling on the object I had seen.  It was now more clear
than ever.  I first pointed it out to Andrew.

"Well, if that is not a real ship, those are very extraordinary marks at
the foot of the cliff," he observed.  "Peter, I believe you are right.
It is a ship, and it may prove the means of our preservation."

Without waiting for any meal, although Andrew insisted on the boat being
dragged with us, we advanced towards the supposed ship.  David certainly
did not believe she was one.  "If that's a ship," he remarked.  "I don't
see how the natives would have spared her.  They would have been
swarming about her like bees, and would have pulled her all to pieces
long before this."

"I still say she's a ship, and that we shall see before long," I
answered.

It is extraordinary how the imagination helps out the vision in a case
of this sort.  I believed that there was a ship, so I saw her; another
man did not believe that there was a ship there, so could not perceive
her.

We travelled on for three hours before all doubts were set at rest by
the appearance of a large ship, thrown, as I said, on her beam-ends, but
with her masts and rigging still standing.  An overhanging cliff
projected to the south of her, and within it was the cavern in which she
lay, so that she could only be seen from the point from which we had
advanced towards her.

This providential circumstance instantly raised our spirits, and we
could not help giving a loud shout of joy, as we hurried on to get on
board her.  Even should we find no provisions, we could not fail of
obtaining numberless things which would prove of the greatest value to
us.

As we got near her, her condition at once told that she had been lost
amongst the ice; and probably thrown up on to a floe by another striking
her, she had drifted afterwards into her present position.  For some
minutes we stood round her, examining her with a feeling approaching to
awe.  She looked so shattered and weather-worn, and of a build so
unusual, that I fancied she might have been there frozen up for
centuries.

At last Terence climbed up her sides, followed by all of us.  Her decks
were uninjured, and were thickly covered with snow, which had
contributed, I suppose, to preserve them.  Her masts and lower rigging
were standing, though the topmasts had gone over the side.  David
pronounced her to be a Dutch whaler; and such, I believe, she was.  Her
hatches were on, and even the companion-hatch was drawn over, which made
us think that the crew had remained on board till she was driven into
her present position, and had afterwards quitted her with the intention
of returning.

This opinion was confirmed when we went below.  We found the cabin in
good order and the furniture uninjured, for the water had not reached
it.  On going into the hold we discovered an abundant supply of
provisions in casks; but all her tubs were empty, which showed us that
she had been wrecked on her outward voyage, before having taken a fish.
Her boats also were gone, which showed the way in which her crew had
escaped from her.  When I first went below, I half expected to find all
her people frozen to death, as I had heard of such dreadful occurrences
having taken place.

Several books and papers were found in the cabin, but as none of us
could read Dutch, we were unable to learn anything from them; but Andrew
and David were of opinion that she had been there five years at least,
perhaps longer.

Having taken a cursory glance throughout the ship, our appetites
reminded us that we had eaten nothing that morning, so we set to work to
examine the condition of the stores on board.  The meat in the casks was
perfectly good, and so even was the biscuit and flour, which had been
preserved, I conclude, by the cold from the weevils and the rats.  The
only animals which had visited the ship were the bears.  They had not
failed to scent out the good things she contained, but not having been
clever enough to lift the hatches off, they had, fortunately for us,
been unable to appropriate them.

We were not long in knocking the head out of a cask and in collecting
materials to form an abundant meal, which we had not enjoyed for so many
days.  The cook's caboose was still uninjured on deck, and his pots and
kettles were hung up inside it, with a store of coals and wood ready
chopped up.  We accordingly lighted a fire, and two of the men, who
professed to be the best cooks, prepared our breakfast.

In the cabin we found in jars and canisters a profuse store of tea,
coffee, cocoa, sugar, and several sorts of preserved fruits and
sweetmeats; indeed there was an ample supply of everything we could
require.  The cabin was, of course, very much on one side, and moreover
very chilly; but, for the pleasure of sitting at a table, we carried our
meal down there to eat it.

Andrew took care not to let the opportunity pass by of reminding us that
our heartfelt gratitude was due to the Great Being who had so mercifully
guided our steps to this spot, where, without trouble or risk, we might
provide ourselves with the necessaries of life.

After breakfast I saw some of the men hunting busily about the ship; and
from their look of dismay, when, getting hold of a brandy cask, they
found the contents had run out, I guessed that their object was to enjoy
themselves for a short time by drinking, and I am afraid that many of
our party would not have refrained from doing so to excess.

I told Andrew, who was still in the cabin examining the lockers what I
had remarked.

"Never mind," he answered.  "All the glass bottles containing spirits or
liquid of any sort have also burst with the cold, so that there is no
fear of any of them getting drunk.  There are a few stone bottles with
hollands, and as they were only partly filled they seem to have
something left in them; so I will hide them away in case they should
ever be required."

We had just concealed them in a locker in the captain's state-room, as
his sleeping cabin is called when some of the rest returned, grumbling
very much at having found nothing to drink.  Andrew reproved them mildly
for their discontent, when we had been thus led so mercifully to the
means of preserving our lives.

"If you had discovered any liquor you might have made merry at first,"
he observed; "then you would have become worse than the brutes, without
sense; and lastly, you would have been left without strength or energy
to bear the difficulties we shall have to encounter.  Let me tell you,
lads, the liquor you are so fond of only gives you false strength just
for a short time after you have drunk it, and then leaves you much
weaker than at first.  To my mind, people in this climate are very much
better without spirits; and in any other climate for that matter.  There
are times, when a person is almost frozen or overcome with weakness,
when they may be of use; but in most cases we are better without them."
Andrew's reasoning had some effect on his hearers, particularly when
they found themselves forced to follow his advice whether they would or
not.

We now all assembled together in the cabin to decide on what we should
do.  Some were for remaining on board, and making ourselves as
comfortable as we could; but Andrew at once pointed out the madness of
such a proceeding.  He argued that even in summer the position under the
cliff was excessively cold; that the ship was in no way fitted to serve
as a habitation during the winter, when there were days no person could
be exposed for ten minutes together to the air without suffering; and
that, although there was an abundant supply of salt provisions, unless
we could procure some fresh meat, our health would materially suffer.

"My advice, mates, is," he continued, "that we travel along the coast as
we first intended, till we arrive at the sort of place we were in search
of when we fell in with this wreck.  When we have found it, we will at
once build a warm house, and then set to at hunting and fishing till the
animals desert the country, and the sea is frozen over, and the long
winter nights set in.  We will, however, first build some sledges, such
as the natives use, and we will carry on them all the things we require
from the ship to our station.  If any one has a better plan to offer,
let him propose it."

"I think Andrew's plan is the one to follow, and I propose we set about
it without delay!"  I exclaimed.

"And so do I," said Terence.

"And I don't see that it's a bad one," observed David.

"And I think it a good one," said Tom Stokes.

The rest offered no opposition; indeed they did not know what else to
propose.  I must observe that now when we had nothing to do with
whaling, in which the others had more experience, Andrew fully showed
his superiority and fitness to command, so that we all readily obeyed
him whenever he thought fit to issue any orders.  However, as he felt
that he only held his authority on sufferance, he judged it best, as in
the present instance, to consult all hands before the formation of any
fresh plan for proceeding.

The whole day was spent on board in examining the ship, and in forming
our plans, and in making some of the preliminary arrangements.  The
first of them was to build a couple of sledges, which Andrew showed us
how to do, very similar to those used by the Esquimaux.  We also packed
up some tea, cocoa, and sugar, as also some meat and bread to serve us
for present use, till we could bring up the remainder to our winter
station.

Among other valuable articles were some carpenter's tools and two
fowling-pieces, some canisters of powder, with a supply of shot, thus
giving us the means of killing any game we might meet with.  It was, as
I said, very cold; but as there was a stove in the cabin, we lighted it,
and soon got the cabin comfortably warm.  Probably, had we been left to
our own devices, we should have all gone to sleep without keeping any
watch; but Andrew ordered one of us to keep watch by turns throughout
the night, both to supply the stove with fuel and to guard against fire.
Had it not been for this precaution, we might have slept away some of
the valuable hours of daylight.

As soon as we had breakfasted, Andrew gave the signal for us to start.
Some wanted to leave the boat till we had found the spot we were in
search of; but he insisted on its being brought along, showing that we
must have her at our station, both to enable us to catch fish and to
assist us in escaping on the following summer; and that, as she was
laden and prepared for the journey, it would be wise to bring her at
once.

We could only drag one sledge with us, and on that were placed a few
additional stores.  Having closed the hatches, we once more left the
ship.  We travelled on the whole of that day and the greater part of the
next, without meeting with a fit place to fix on for our winter station.
Some of the grumblers declared that we never should find it, and that
we had much better go back to the ship.

The prospect was certainly very discouraging, and even Andrew was
beginning to think that there was no help for it but to return, when, on
reaching a high black rocky point, we saw a bay spreading far back and
surrounded by hills of only moderate height, from which the snow had
melted, leaving exposed a variety of grasses and lichens which clothed
their sides.  I shouted with joy on seeing this to us cheering prospect.
To people under different circumstances, the view might have appeared
bleak and gloomy enough.

On getting round the point, we landed on firm ground for the first time
since leaving our ship; and, strange as it may seem, I felt as if half
our difficulties and dangers were over.  On climbing up the nearest
hill, we saw that a stream, or rather river, ran into the centre of the
bay, and that from its mouth to the sea there was a clear channel.
Nothing could have been more in accordance with our wishes.  We might
here be able to supply ourselves with fish, and from the appearance of
the country, there would probably be an abundance of game.

We continued along the ice till we saw, a little above the beach, a
level spot on the side of the hill, well sheltered from the north.
Andrew pointed it out.  "There, my lads, is the place where we must
build our house, and we must make up our minds to live in it for the
next ten months or so at least," he observed.  "We will therefore make
it as comfortable as we can, for we shall not be able to shift our
quarters when once the frost sets in, let me tell you."

We proceeded up to the place he indicated, and under it we hauled up our
boat on the beach.  On a further examination of the spot, we resolved to
establish ourselves there, and immediately set to work to erect a
habitation which might serve us till our winter-house was ready.  For
this purpose we collected some large stones which had been washed down
from the neighbouring cliffs, and rolled them up the hill.  With these
as a foundation, with the addition of earth and small stones and turf,
we in the course of a couple of hours had raised a wall very much in
form like those we had been accustomed to form of snow.  Our sail served
as a roof; and in an excursion made by some of the party a short
distance among the hills, a quantity of a low shrubby plant was
discovered, admirably suited for a mattress till we could get bedding
from the ship.

Andrew assured us that we had every reason to be thankful that our
position was so good; and so I think we had, for it most certainly might
have been very much worse.  But those who stay at home at ease by their
warm firesides would not consider a residence in a hut on the side of a
bleak hill, throughout a winter within the Arctic Circle, as a position
much to be envied.  Everything, we must remember, is by comparison; and
I again repeat, we had good reason to be grateful.

The first thing the next morning, off we all started with the sledge, to
commence the work of bringing the things from the wreck.  The distance
was twelve miles, so that we could at the utmost only take one trip in
the day.  We were all in good spirits, for we had slept soundly and had
enjoyed a good meal; but before long, some of the men began to grumble
at the distance.

"I don't see why we couldn't have chosen some place nearer the wreck to
build our house," said one.

"It's a pity the ship weren't driven ashore nearer the bay," cried
another.

"Now, for my part, I'd rather let the things remain where they are, than
have to bring them all this way," exclaimed the worst grumbler of the
party.

"Or, as I said before, we'd better by half take up our quarters on
board," put in one of those who had advocated that measure at first.

"Now, let me tell you that you are an ungrateful set of fellows to talk
as you do," exclaimed Andrew, who had listened to all that was said.
"You saw yourselves that there was not a spot of ground nearer than the
place we have chosen fit to winter in; and as to complaining that the
ship is no nearer the bay, why, if she had been driven into any other
spot than the exact one where she is, she would have been seen by the
Esquimaux, and plundered of everything she contains.  You'll soon find
the want of everything we can get from the wreck; and if any one chooses
to winter aboard her, we'll leave him plenty to eat, but if he isn't
frozen to death we shall have him back with us before very long, that I
know."

Most of the party sided with Andrew on this as on other occasions, and
the grumblers were silenced.  As we were perfectly unencumbered, we
advanced at a rapid rate, and in about three hours we got up to the
ship.  We scrambled up the sides by the chain-plates, and were all soon
on deck.

"Hillo, who left the companion-hatch open?" exclaimed Terence, who was
the first who got aft.  No one recollected who could have been guilty of
the neglect.  "No matter, there's no chance of any one having been here
while we were away," cried Terence, as he jumped down the
companion-ladder.

He had not got down many steps before he sprung up again in a great
hurry, with a face of terror, his head shoving back the next man who was
following him, and sending him sprawling on deck, while a loud angry
growl was heard issuing from the cabin.

"Och, murder!" he exclaimed.  "There's Davy Jones aboard, as sure as my
name's Terence O'Connor."

"Shut to the hatch there!" shouted David to some of us who were standing
abaft the companion.  We drew it over just in time to prevent a white
head and a pair of sharp claws covered with shaggy hair from protruding
out of the hatchway.  At the same moment David, who had a lance in his
hand, thrust it down, and again a fierce snarling growl was heard.

"Why, mates, we seem to have caught a bear," observed Andrew, who had
come aft to see what had happened.

"We may have caught a dozen, for what I know," answered David.  "And
provided they haven't eaten up the flour, and sugar, and beef we left
here, the more there are the better."

While he was speaking he was pronging away with his spear down the
companion-hatch, and the growling grew louder and fiercer.

The bear was now severely wounded and enraged to the utmost; for in
spite of the enemies he might have guessed were ready to receive him, he
tried to force his way up.  "Hand a gun here, and we'll see if we can't
settle him," cried David; but the guns had been left leaning against a
block of ice outside the ship, and before we could recover them the bear
had made another attempt to get out of the trap.  Evading the points of
the lance, he had seized the handle in his teeth, and then climbing up
the ladder, he forced the top of the hatch off with his head, and seemed
about to take the deck from us.  Andrew, however, had got another lance,
and just as his terrific claws were close to David's shoulder, he gave
him a severe wound in the neck.  At the same moment I ran up with a gun,
and firing into his mouth, he fell dead across the hatchway.

That he was not alone we were convinced by the appearance of another
shaggy monster, who now shoved his head up to see what his companion was
about.  As he showed his head from under the dead body and opened his
mouth to growl, David plunged his lance into it with such force that he
fell mortally wounded down the ladder, carrying the weapon with him.  We
had some work to drag the dead bear out of the way, he was so heavy a
fellow.

"Are there any more of them?" cried Terence, who, discovering that they
were mortal foes, had completely recovered from his fright.  He spoke as
he was peering into the cabin, and about to spring down the ladder.
"Och, yes, here comes another."

And sure enough a third bear appeared at the doorway, with a look which
seemed to ask what we wanted there.  As he was too sagacious to come
within reach of our spears, and our remaining gun was loaded only with
small shot, we scarcely knew how to despatch him.  It would have been
very dangerous to descend the ladder, for one pat of his paw was
sufficient to tear any man's arm off; so we had to enrage him by shaking
our lances in his face, and then pretending to run away to induce him to
follow us.

At last we succeeded almost too well; for with a speed of which I did
not think a bear capable, he clambered up the ladder, and was making for
the side of the ship with the sensible intention of escaping, when we
closed in upon him and caused him to stand at bay.  He looked at us
savagely, singling out one of us to attack, and then rushed upon David;
but the old whaler's lance was ready, and the bear received a mortal
thrust in his breast.  Notwithstanding this, he rushed forward grinning
savagely; but David sprung out of his way, and another lance pierced him
to the heart.

We had thus secured some very valuable prizes, and we even hoped there
might be more of them below, provided they had not eaten up the stores
on which we counted.  Not one liked to be the first to go down till we
had ascertained whether the cabin had any more occupants.  At last none
appearing.  Terence with cautious steps descended the ladder, ready to
spring up again should another bear show his face.  Stepping over the
carcase of the bear, which lay at the foot of the ladder he looked in.
Presently he shouted to us to follow, and we all quickly descended,--
anxious to see what damage the bears had committed.

Fortunately all our stores had been returned to the lockers, and they
had broken open only one, and had got hold of a jar of brown sugar and
another of flour, which, in their clumsy endeavours to eat, they had
sprinkled about the cabin.  We calculated from this that they had not
been there long; for if they had, they would have routed out everything
eatable they possibly could get on board.

As it was, our carelessness had been productive of more good than harm,
for the skins of the beasts would make us some warm clothing, while
their flesh would afford us food for a long time, if we could get no
other fresh meat.

Our first care was now to construct a number of hand sledges, for the
conveyance of our stores to our winter quarters.  The small ones were
made so that one person could drag them over the smooth parts of the
ice; and on having to pass any rough portions, two or three persons
might tackle together, passing one sledge after the other.

To carry the woodwork for our house, we were obliged to form a large
sledge, which would require nearly all the party to drag it forward.
Taking care to close all the hatches, we loaded our sledges with
provisions, blankets, and some additional clothing, and set forward on
our return to the bay.



CHAPTER THIRTY TWO.

We travelled briskly along over the ice, our encounter with the bears
affording us abundant matter for amusement.  I forgot to say, that not
having time to flay them, we had shoved them down the main hatchway, to
wait till the next day.  Now and then one or other of the sledges, not
carefully constructed, would come to pieces, and we had to wait while it
was being repaired; otherwise we got on very well, and, I suspect,
faster than if we had not had them to drag after us.  At length our
journey was almost accomplished, and in a few minutes we expected to
arrive at what we already had begun to call our home,--it was, indeed,
the only home we were likely to have for a long time to come.

We had rounded the rocky point, and were dragging our sledges towards
our hut, when what was our surprise to see a group of human beings,
clothed from head to foot in skins, standing round it, examining it
apparently with much curiosity!  On seeing us they drew up in a line,
and advanced slowly towards us down the hill.  They numbered twice as
many as we did; and as they had arms in their hands, Andrew ordered us
to stop, to see what they would do.

"Show them that we wish to be friends, lads, and place your lances and
the guns on the ground," said Andrew.

We did as he directed, and instantly the Esquimaux, for such we saw they
were, threw aside their spears and knives, and cried out, "_Tima,
Tima_!" and advanced with outstretched arms towards us.

We uttered the same words and advanced also.  We soon saw by the
expression of their countenances that they were amicably disposed
towards us; and from their manner of behaving, we suspected that we were
not the first Europeans they had met.

They all appeared comfortably clothed.  The men wore deerskin jackets
with hoods to them, to be drawn over the head; their trousers were
generally of sealskin, made to reach below the knee, and their boots
were of the same substance, with the hair inside.  Some of them had
shoes over their boots, and an under-jacket of deer-skin.  The dress of
the women was very similar, except that their jackets had long flaps
behind, reaching almost to the ground, and were pointed in front.  There
were several children, who kept in the background, and they were all
dressed exactly like the older ones; and funny little beings they were,
reminding one forcibly of hedge-hogs, or rather of little bears and
dancing dogs.

They advanced slowly in a line as we walked forward; but when we had got
near enough to see each other's faces they stopped.  Whatever sign we
made they instantly imitated; and there was a merry, good-natured
expression in their countenances, which gave us great confidence in the
friendliness of their disposition.  Seeing this, we walked forward and
put out our hands; they did the same; and presently there was as warm a
shaking of hands between us, as if we were the oldest friends each other
had in the world.

This ceremony being over, they accompanied us to the hut, which we
examined with some little anxiety, to see if they had taken anything
away; but nothing was disturbed.  The few things, also, which had been
left in the boat had not been touched.

"You are honest fellows, that you are," exclaimed Terence, shaking them
all round again by the hand, at which they seemed mightily pleased.  We
talked away at them, and they talked to us for some time, making all
sorts of signs and gestures; but at the end of it all we were not much
the wiser, for neither of us could understand a word each other said.

However, we did not want them clustering round us while we were
unpacking our sledges, and we were in a hurry to stow our things away
before night; so Terence undertook to draw them off.  He managed it by
taking one by the hand, and making him sit down at a little distance and
seating himself beside him; then, making a sign to the first to sit
quiet, he led another to the spot, and so on till they all were seated.
They then remained very quiet, looking on with an expression of the
greatest surprise at the various things we produced.  It was almost
sunset when they got up, and again shaking hands, took their departure
over the hills.  By this we supposed that their habitations were at no
great distance.

The next morning we were up by daybreak to return to the ship; and as we
did not think it wise to leave our property without a guard, Terence and
Tom were selected to remain, with two of the guns, to shoot any game
which might appear, or to defend themselves if necessary.  The ship had
not been visited; and having laden our large sledge with some wood from
the wreck for building the house, and two small ones with provisions, we
set forward on our return.

Terence reported that the Esquimaux had again visited the hut, and had
invited him and Tom, by signs, to accompany them over the hills; but
that, on his shaking his head and sitting still, they had understood
that he could not leave his post, and they went away.

As soon as we had taken some food, Andrew urged us to set about building
our winter house without delay, lest the severe frosts should come on
before it was finished.  The plan he proposed, and which was adopted,
was to divide it into two compartments, one for a store-house, the other
for our dwelling and cooking room.  The latter was fifteen feet square
and eight feet high, with a sloping roof, and a hole, with a trap in the
top, to let out the air and to serve for a chimney.  All this would
require a great deal of wood, besides the turf and stones with which we
also proposed to build it.  We had no means of forming windows; but, as
we had heard it was always night during the winter, we thought we should
not want them.

The next morning we were off again for the wood, as well as some bears'
flesh and some of the other provisions.  Terence, who managed so well
with the natives, remained as before, and he reported that they had
come, and seemed much surprised with the work we had performed; that
they had examined the tracks of the sledges and the additional stores,
and then, after a great deal of talking, had returned from whence they
came.

The following morning we were disturbed by a loud noise of dogs barking
and men shouting; and on looking out of our tents, we saw our Esquimaux
friends looming through the twilight, each of them accompanied by a
troop of seven dogs harnessed to a sledge formed of the jaw-bone of a
whale and sealskins.  They came close up to us, talking very rapidly,
and pointing in the direction in which the ship lay.

When we prepared to start on our daily expedition, they showed their
evident intention of accompanying us.  David and some of the other men
did not like this, and were afraid that if they saw the ship they might
appropriate everything on board; but Andrew assured us that he was
certain they had no such intention, and that their purpose was to assist
us, otherwise, as they might easily have tracked us along the ice, they
would have set off by themselves.

The Esquimaux laughed very much when they saw us trudging along with our
clumsy heavy sledges; and calling their dogs to stop with a _Wo Wo-hoa_,
just as a carter does in England, they beckoned each of us to get on to
a sledge behind each of them, and placing our sledges on theirs, away we
drove.  Off went the dogs at full gallop, they guiding them with their
whips and their voices along the smoother portions of the ice.  It was
amusing and very exhilarating to feel one's self whirled along at so
rapid a rate, after being so long accustomed to the slow movements of
our own weary feet, and our spirits and courage rose accordingly.

Their sledges were between eight and ten feet long, and about two wide.
The runners of some were of the jaw-bones of a whale, and of others of
several bones lashed together.  To prevent the wearing out of the
runner, it is coated with fresh-water ice, composed of snow and ice,
rubbed and pressed over it till it is quite smooth and hard.

The dogs are harnessed with thongs of sealskin, passed over the neck and
fore-legs, and leading along the back.  Great care is taken to select a
good leader, who goes ahead with a longer trace than the rest, and in
the darkest night, by keeping his nose to the ground, can always find
out the right track.  The driver uses a whip with a lash many feet in
length, but he guides his team more by words than blows; and it is
amusing, when the leader hears his own name called, to see him looking
round for his master's orders.

As we drove along, I bethought me I should like to learn the name of my
companion; so I pointed to myself, and pronounced my own name several
times, "Peter, Peter, yes, I Peter;" and then I touched him, and nodded
for him to speak.

He quickly understood me, and uttered the word Ickmallick; and when I
repeated it, he seemed much pleased.  After this, whenever I touched
anything, he always mentioned the name, and so did I; and in that way in
the course of our drive we had both of us learned something of each
other's language.

When they arrived at the ship, they appeared very much astonished; and
we could only account for their not having seen her, by supposing that
they had come from inland, or from the south, and that their fishing
excursions never took them in this direction.  Their astonishment was
much increased when they clambered on board and descended into the
cabin; and they seemed almost afraid to touch the numberless strange
things they saw.  A looking-glass was hanging up; and by chance one
catching sight of his face in it, he was riveted to the spot; then he
began to move slowly and to make grimaces, which he continued to do,
increasing the rapidity of his movements, till he broke into shouts and
shrieks of laughter, till most of his companions assembling around him,
they became convulsed in the same extraordinary manner.

As we had no time to lose, we covered up the glass, which quieted them;
after which we led them into the hold, when no sooner did they see the
dead bears than they rushed up to them, and began examining them
minutely to see how they had been killed.  After this they treated us
with much greater respect even than before, evidently admiring the
prowess which had enabled us to overcome so many of the few enemies with
whom they have to contend.  We immediately set to work to remove the
lining of the ship, the bulkheads, and such other woodwork as we thought
would prove useful to us in building our house.  The Esquimaux gave us
to understand by signs that they would carry it for us; and as we threw
it over the side of the ship, they packed it on the sledges, each sledge
carrying six or seven hundredweight.  They seemed to fancy that the ship
was ours, and that we had come in her; and of course we did not wish
them to think otherwise.

Among the things in the cabin, we had discovered a number of knives,
hatchets, cotton handkerchiefs, and other articles, which had evidently
been brought for the purpose of trading; and some of them we now
produced, and signified that we would bestow them on them, as rewards
for carrying our property.  The way we did this was to load one of our
own sledges,--one of our men dragged it on some little way, and then
Andrew, pointing towards the bay, went up to him and gave him a knife or
a handkerchief.  As a hatchet was three times as valuable, he dragged
the sledge three times before he received it.  My friend Ickmallick's
black eyes sparkled when he saw this, and his countenance was wreathed
with smiles for two reasons--first, for the pleasure of comprehending
what he meant, and also at the thoughts of receiving so large a reward
for his labour.

We were so pleased with the honest countenances and manner of these
people, that we had no fears about entrusting the wood and other heavy
things to them.  If we had known how scarce and valuable wood is to
them, we might have hesitated more before we did so.

Among our other labours, we skinned the bears; and, reserving the more
delicate portions of the meat, we gave the rest to them.  To our
surprise, they immediately began to eat large lumps of it raw, though we
had lighted the caboose fire to cook our own breakfast, and offered to
cook for them.

Some they divided among their dogs; and, as soon as masters and beasts
had devoured their meal, they set off together towards the bay, leaving
us still busy on board.  When they were gone, we were not quite
satisfied that we had done wisely in giving them the things.  They
might, knowing them to be ours, carry them off; or they might have
misunderstood our signs, and fancy that we had given them to them.
However, the thing was done, and we must abide by the consequences.

We calculated, at the rate they travelled, that they would easily make
two journeys in the day; so we employed ourselves in getting loads ready
for them on their return.  We were not disappointed.  In little more
than two hours they made their appearance; and so well had they
understood us, that those to whom we had promised knives or
handkerchiefs for carrying one load held out their hands for them, while
those who were to make three for the hatchets signified that they had
performed part of their contract.

We now entrusted some of them with the bears' flesh and skins, and with
some casks of salted meat; and we also piled up, outside the ship, a
load of wood for each of them, to see if they would come and take it.
As soon as they were off, we followed with the more valuable stores;
but, as we trudged slowly along, we envied their more rapid means of
conveyance, and agreed that we would get them to carry us as well as our
stores on the following day.

We had got about two-thirds of the way, when they appeared before us
with a fresh relay of dogs.  They had come out expressly to meet us;
and, putting us and our loads on their sledges, away we trotted quickly
towards the hut.  We were much delighted when Terence informed us that
everything had been safely delivered into his hands.

The next morning we set to work in earnest about our house, and, as we
all worked, we progressed much to our satisfaction.  During the day the
Esquimaux arrived with the loads of wood we had left prepared.  They did
not show any intention of visiting the ship when we were not there to
deliver the things to them; indeed, after watching us at work for a
little time, they all went away.

I have not space to describe our proceedings minutely.  We first got our
storehouse completed, and all our things stowed away in it; and then we
built our dwelling-house, and surrounded it with clods of turf, fancying
that we had constructed a very comfortable edifice.  The Esquimaux paid
us daily visits, and carried us to the ship to bring away whatever we
required.  We were always careful to shut down the hatches before
leaving, to keep out the bears; and this they seemed to consider some
religious ceremony, for they never attempted to visit the ship during
our absence.

I never met with people, in any part of the world, who possessed a more
peaceable friendly disposition--such perfect honesty and constant
good-humour, with a very fair amount of intelligence.  Their courage and
perseverance are expended in overcoming the beasts which form their
subsistence, and there are few opportunities of developing their
intellectual qualities; but in many respects they are, in my opinion,
far more civilised than a large proportion of their brethren in the
south, who claim to be the most enlightened nations in the world.



CHAPTER THIRTY THREE.

We had been all so busy in building our house, and in bringing our
stores from the ship and in stowing them away, that none of us had
wandered a quarter of a mile from our location.  The Esquimaux seemed
perfectly to understand what we were about; and when they saw that our
work was completed, they came with their sledges and made signs to us
that they wished us to come and pay them a visit at their abodes.

By Andrew's advice, five of us were to go first, and the remainder were
to go on our return.  Terence and I and David, and two other men,
signified our willingness to accompany our new friends.  I stepped into
Ickmallick's sledge, and the rest were accommodated in those of the
others; and the dogs being told to get up and step out, off we set at a
good rate along a valley in which the snow already laid pretty thickly.
As there were no fields, or hedges and ditches, we were able to follow
the most convenient track, though certainly not the shortest, for we
twisted and turned among the hills for the sake of getting a level road
so as to treble our distance, as we found afterwards that we could reach
the spot to which we were bound almost as speedily on foot.

The Esquimaux location was on the shore of a little bay, opening on a
deep fiord to the south.  It was a sheltered and romantic spot; and in
some respects, we at first thought, superior to the one we had chosen.
As we turned round a point of rock we came in sight of a number of tents
of some size, arranged along the shore at regular distances from each
other.  As we appeared, their inhabitants rushed out to meet us--men,
women, and children--while the dogs, no insignificant part of the
establishment, hurried up the hill to get out of our way, not liking our
appearance, or perhaps their masters' whips, which were used with no
sparing hand.

We drove up to the tents in fine style, and were welcomed in the most
cordial manner.  These tents were supported by a pole of whalebone,
about fourteen feet long, placed perpendicularly in the ground, with
four or five feet projecting above the roof.  The sides and roof were
formed of the skins of seals sewed neatly together.  The tents were
about seventeen feet long, and at the entrance about seven feet wide,
increasing towards the farther end, where the bed-places were situated,
where they are about nine feet in width.  The beds were formed of a
shrubby plant strewed over about a third of the tent, and kept separate
by pieces of bone laid across from side to side.  The doors opened
towards the south-west.  They also were formed of a bone framework, with
the skins stretched on them, and were made to overlap each other.  The
entrance to the tents was much the lowest part.  The skins were pegged
down to the ground with curved bits of bone, also parts of the whale;
indeed, everything about the tents may be said to have been made of skin
and bone, as in truth were all the articles we saw in the possession of
our friends.

It was worthy of remark how well these people adapted their mode of
living to the circumstances of the country, and how ingeniously they
made use of the very few objects they had the means of obtaining.  I
thought to myself, suppose a civilised man, or indeed a whole army of
civilised men, were to be placed in this region, not having been
accustomed to whaling and sealing, as my companions were, every one of
them would perish within a few hours, or days at the utmost; and these
people, who are called savages, have contrived to supply themselves with
all the conveniences and necessaries of life.  We felt that had we not
discovered the wreck, and afterwards fallen in with them, we might have
fared very ill indeed.

When we got off the sledges, our new friends invited us to enter their
tents.  I went into Ickmallick's, where he introduced me to his wife and
children.  She was young, and had a pleasant amiable expression of
countenance, which made me feel quite at home.  She was employed in
cooking the family meal.  Her fireplace was composed of a few stones in
the corner of the tent, with a lamp of oil and moss in the centre; and
over it was suspended a small stone vessel of an oblong shape, and
larger at the top than the bottom, containing a mess of sea-horse flesh,
with a quantity of thick gravy.  The dinner was just ready; so all of us
sitting round in a circle, with the dish in the centre, we set to.  I
had become in no ways particular, or I might not have relished my meal,
for there was rather more blood and dirt in the mixture than might have
been wished for; but some of the ribs were very palatable, though I
should have preferred some bread and salt and potatoes with them.

I considered my appetite good; but Mr and Mrs Ickmallick and their
interesting family distanced me far, and in a few minutes each of them
had eaten more than would have served me for the whole day.

The dish out of which we were eating was made of whalebone, one piece
being bent for the sides, and another flat piece being used for the
bottom, and sewn so neatly together that it was perfectly water-tight.
The knives they used were made of the tusk of the walrus, cut or ground
sufficiently thin for the purpose, and retaining the original curve of
the tusk.

In the tent I observed a number of the weapons they use in the chase.
The spears or darts employed in killing seals and other sea animals are
something like harpoons, consisting of two parts, a spear and a staff.

The latter is of wood when it can be obtained, and is from three and a
half to five feet in length; and the former is of bone, ground to a
blunt point.  The lines attached to the spears are cut out of sealskin,
well stretched and dried, and then coiled up like a rope.  To serve as a
float, a large bladder is used.

Most of the ladies had their faces tattooed, and some their hands; and I
certainly did not think it improved their beauty, though I suppose they
did.  The children were fat and rosy, and really interesting-looking,
and so were some of the younger girls; but my gratitude for their
hospitality prevents me saying anything about the elder ladies.  Their
jet-black glossy hair hung down carelessly over their shoulders, and was
not tied up like that of the people we had seen on the Greenland coast.
They carried the younger children on their backs, in little sacks or
hoods, just as the gipsies do in England.

The women were under five feet in height, and few of the men surpassed
five feet four, five, or six inches.  The complexion of the young women
was very clear, and by no means dark; their eyes were bright and
piercing, and their teeth of pearly whiteness, though their lips were
thicker and their noses flatter than people in England consider
requisite for beauty.

From the quantity of clothes they wore, both men and women appeared a
much larger people than they really were, especially the children, who
looked like little balls of skins.

When we came out of the tents we found the air very cold; and to warm
himself, Terence began to jump about and to snap his fingers, singing at
the same time.  This seemed particularly to strike the fancy of our
hosts; and in a little time men, women, and children had joined us in a
reel, and we were all dancing and singing away furiously, till we could
scarcely move for fatigue.

It made us all very merry, and improved the intimate terms on which we
were with our friends.  As the sun was sinking low, we made signs that
we wished to return home; but they signified that they could not part so
soon from us, and that we must pass the night at their huts.  As we felt
perfect confidence in them, and were willing to see more of their habits
and customs, we determined to remain.  We had some more singing and
dancing, and they were highly delighted at seeing Terence and another
man dance an Irish jig, they carefully noting every movement that was
made.

As soon as it was over, two of them got up, and amid shouts of laughter
performed a very good imitation of the dance.  When the dance was over,
we were invited into the tents to partake of some more of their savoury
messes, they probably thinking that as we had eaten so little, according
to their notions, the first time, we must be hungry again.  They pressed
us much to eat more; and Ickmallick selected what he considered the
tit-bits, and watching his opportunity, endeavoured to pop them into my
mouth, not at all to my satisfaction, though I endeavoured to conceal
the annoyance I felt lest I should hurt their feelings, for I saw it was
done with the kindest intentions.

The meal was scarcely over when notice was given that a herd of
sea-horses, or walruses, or morse, as they are sometimes called, had
come into the fiord, and were at no great distance from the bay.  The
opportunity of catching some of these animals, so valuable to the
Esquimaux, was not to be lost, so, seizing their spears and lines, they
hurried down to the beach.

Here their canoes were placed bottom upwards on two upright piles of
stones, about four feet from the ground.  This is done to allow the air
to pass under them, and to prevent them from rotting.  They are about
seventeen feet long and rather more than two feet wide, decked over,
except a hole in the centre in which the rower sits, and round this
there is a high ledge to prevent, the sea washing in.  Two feet of the
bows float out of the water.  The timbers or ribs, which are five or six
inches apart, and the stem and stern, are of whalebone; and they are
covered with the skins of the seal or walrus sewed neatly together.
When driftwood can be found, they employ it.  The paddle is double, and
made of fir, the edges of the blade being covered with hard bone to
secure them from wearing.

With the greatest caution the Esquimaux lifted their canoes into the
water, to prevent them rubbing against the rocks, and they then helped
each other in, we assisting the last man.  I observed that each of them
took a few handfuls of sand with him in the canoe.  As we stood on the
beach, we could see the walruses blowing like whales as they came up the
fiord, and our friends eagerly paddling out towards them.  The canoes
went along as fast as a quick-rowing gig.

The walrus may be said to be something like a bullock and a whale, and
it grows to the size of an ox.  It has two canine teeth twenty inches
long, curving inward from the upper jaw; their use is to defend itself
against the bear when Bruin attacks it, and to lift itself up on the
ice.  The head is short, small, and flattened in front.  The flattened
part of the face is set with strong bristles.  The nostrils are on the
upper part of the snout, through which it blows like a whale.  The
fore-paws are a kind of webbed hand; they are above two feet long, and
may be stretched out to the width of fifteen to eighteen inches.  The
hind feet, which form a sort of tail-fin, extend straight backward.
They are not united, but are detached from each other.  The termination
of each toe is marked by a small nail.  The skin of the animal is about
an inch thick, and is covered with a short yellowish-brown coloured
hair.  The inside of the paws in old animals is very roughened, from
having to climb over the ice and rocks.  Beneath the skin is a layer of
fat, the thickness varying in different seasons.

The canoes were soon among the herd, and several of the animals were
immediately struck.  Instead, however, of darting away, each of the
wounded animals made at the canoes, and their occupants had to pull hard
to keep out of their reach.  When the other walruses saw this, they also
swam towards the canoes to the assistance of their companions, and a
regular contest commenced between man and beast.

The men, by the clever twists and turns they gave their canoes, managed
to keep out of their way, the wounded animals all the time growing
weaker and weaker; and whenever any of those untouched approached so
near as to endanger the canoes, they threw a handful of sand so
dexterously in their eyes, that the enraged animals were blinded and
confused, and immediately swam off.

I regretted that we had not our firearms with us, as we might very soon
have killed a large number without difficulty, provided the report did
not frighten them away.

It was quite dark by the time the canoes returned to the beach, each
towing in triumph the dead body of a walrus.  On hearing of their
success, the people who remained on shore set up shouts of joy, and
hastened down to carry off the blubber and the more delicate morsels for
their next day's meal.  The greater portion of the flesh was stowed away
in holes in the bank, lined with a coating of snow, and thickly covered
over with large stones, so that no animal could get at them.  They have
no fear in this climate of their food being destroyed by vermin or small
insects.

We thought our friends had done eating for the day, but the temptation
of some fresh blubber was too great to be resisted, and to our
astonishment they again set their pot on to boil, and ate till they
could eat no more.

Terence and the rest of my party fared in the same way, in their
respective tents, which I did.  Ickmallick, when he had done eating,
made a sign to me to occupy a corner of the family couch; and the whole
family were soon snoring away and making a no very harmonious concert,
when a dozen or more dogs sneaked in and took up their quarters at our
feet.

The lamp was left burning all the night.  It is a shallow
crescent-shaped vessel of potstone, or what is called soapstone from its
soapy feel.  The wick is composed of dry moss, rubbed between the hands
till it is quite inflammable.  It is disposed along the edge of the
lamp, on the straight side, and a greater or smaller quantity lighted,
according to the heat required or the fuel that can be afforded.

I was much pleased by observing the clever way in which the lamp is made
to supply itself with oil, by suspending a long thin slice of whale,
seal, or sea-horse blubber near the flame, the warmth of which causes
the oil to drip into the vessel, until the whole is extracted.

The wick is trimmed by a piece of asbestos stone, and a quantity of moss
is kept ready to supply the wick.

Immediately over the lamp is fixed a framework of bone, from which the
pots are suspended; as also a large hoop of bone, having a net stretched
tightly within it.  Into this net are put any wet things which require
drying, and it is usually filled with boots, shoes, and mittens.  The
lamp kept up a pleasant heat in the tent during the night, and without
it we should have suffered much from the cold, as it was freezing hard
outside.

The first thing my hostess did in the morning was to set on the
cooking-pot.  The toilet was made as rapidly as that of a family of
bears, for all they did was to get up and shake themselves.  Before they
went out, however, they pulled on some shoes over their boots to keep
their feet dry, for it had been snowing hard in the night.  I was very
little inclined to partake of the breakfast, though I did my best to eat
a little to please them.

We now explained to our friends that we wished to return; and they
showed their willingness to comply with our wish by catching their dogs
and harnessing them to their sledges.

In every part of the world the dog is the faithful companion and servant
of man, but especially so in these icy regions.  I do not know how the
Esquimaux could exist without dogs.  Not only do they drag heavy weights
for long distances at a great rate, but they by their excellent scent
assist their masters in finding the seal-holes; and they will attack the
bear and every other animal with great courage, except the wolf, of
which they seem to have an instinctive dread.

In appearance and colour they much resemble the wolf; but the latter
when running always carries his head down, and his tail between his
legs, as if ashamed of himself, while they always hold their heads up,
and their tails curled handsomely over their backs.

In the winter they are covered with hair three or four inches long and a
thick under-coat of coarse wool, so that they can withstand the severest
cold, if protected from the wind by a snow wall or a rock.

Their masters treat them very roughly; and, when food is scarce, they
leave them to pick up any garbage they can find.  They often beat them
unmercifully; but in spite of ill-usage the dogs are much attached to
them, and, on their return from a journey, show as much pleasure, by
jumping up and trying to lick their faces, as any well-bred hounds in
England.  If they show a disposition to stray, a fore-leg is tied up to
the neck, so that they tumble down when they attempt to run.

The females are tended by the women, and treated with great care, and
the puppies are often fed with meat and water at the same time as the
children.  Consequently, when grown up, they always follow women more
willingly than men; and when they are drawing a heavy load, a woman will
entice them on by pretending to eat a piece of meat, and by throwing her
mitten before them on the snow, when, mistaking it for food, they hurry
forward to pick it up.

We afterwards purchased a number, which we found very useful for
hunting, as also for drawing a sledge; though we never managed them as
well as the Esquimaux did.

A drive of a couple of hours carried us back to our house, where we
found our companions well, and ready to accompany our new friends on a
visit to their tents.  We employed ourselves during their absence in
thickening the walls of our house, and in getting our boat ready for
hunting seals, in order to lay in a good supply of oil for winter use.

We had no time to lose, for every day the weather was getting colder and
colder, and the days shorter, and we might expect the winter speedily to
set in.

All this time, it must be remembered, there was no want of ice and
icebergs on the sea, and snow on the ground; but still, when the sun
shone, the air was pleasantly warm to our feelings, long accustomed to
constant exposure to sharp winds, which would have chilled the blood of
most of our countrymen accustomed to live at home at ease.

We found our house at night colder than we expected; and we resolved to
catch as many animals as we could with warm skins, to make ourselves
clothing.

The next morning, while the rest of us were engaged about the house, Tom
Stokes, who had gone some way along the beach to watch for any seals
which might appear, came running back, declaring that he had seen a
fierce-looking wild man grinning at him over a hummock of ice, and that
he must be one of the mermen he had read about, but which he did not
before believe to exist.  He said that when he first saw him, he was in
the water; that he came out on the ice, and put up his fist, and made
faces at him, and that, though he hove a stone at him, he did not seem
to care.

"I'll see what this merman is," I observed, taking up a gun loaded with
a bullet, and following Tom to the spot.

There, sure enough, was an ugly black-looking monster; but instead of a
merman, it was a walrus.  I got round so as to have a fair shot at its
side, and knocked it over sprawling on the ice.  It had not strength
left to crawl off the ice, and Tom and I going up to it, despatched it
with our spears.  We summoned the rest, and dragged it home on our big
sledge in triumph.  We never ceased afterwards to joke Tom about his
ugly merman.



CHAPTER THIRTY FOUR.

We fancied that we had got everything comfortable for the winter, which
now, about the middle of October, began to set in with severe
earnestness, with heavy falls of snow and strong northerly winds.  Our
house, on which we had so much prided ourselves, did not keep out the
cold blast as we expected; and though we covered ourselves up with
blankets, and sails, and skins, and kept up a constant fire in the
little stove we had brought from the cabin of the wreck, we were almost
perished with cold.

It was after a very severe night, and we were consulting what we should
do to keep warm, that we saw the sledges of our Esquimaux friends come
dashing along down the valley towards us.  We were anxious to return the
hospitality they had shown us so we asked them into the house and
stirred up our fire, threw some more wood on it, and put on a pot of
lobscouse to regale them.

They could scarcely restrain their feelings of dismay when they saw this
waste of wood, to them so precious a thing, and by signs they entreated
us to desist; reminding us that they had cooked their meat in a very
different way.  However, as the pot began to boil, there was no
necessity for putting more wood on.

They then tried to show us, by significant gestures, that they thought
we should be frozen to death in our house when the cold increased.  To
do this, they shivered very much, then shut their eyes, and stretched
out their limbs till they were rigid, and looking round at the walls,
shook their heads, as much as to say, "This will never do."  Then they
smiled, and explained that they could soon show us how to manage.

Having selected a level spot near our house, they beat the snow on it
down till it was quite hard, and then marked out a circle about twelve
feet in diameter.  They then, from under a bank where the snow had
drifted thickly and was very hard, cut out a number of slabs like large
bricks, about two feet long and six inches thick.  These they placed
edgeways on the spot marked out, leaving a space to the south-west for
the door.  A second tier was laid on this, but the pieces were made to
incline a little inwards.  The top of this was squared off with a knife
by one of them who stood in the middle, while the others from without
supplied him with bricks.

When the wall had been raised to the height of five feet, it leaned so
much that we thought it would certainly fall in; but still our friends
worked on till they could no longer reach the top.  The man within then
cut a hole in the south-west side, where the door was intended to be,
and through this the slabs were now passed.  They worked on till the
sides met in a well-constructed dome; and then one climbing up to the
top, dropped into the centre the last block or keystone.

The rest of the party were all this time busily employed with their
snow-shovels in throwing up the snow around the building, and in
carefully filling any crevices which might have been left.

While we stood looking on with amazement at the rapidity and neatness
with which the work was executed, the builder let himself out as a mole
does out of his mole-hill.  He cut away the door till he had formed a
gothic arch, about three feet high, and two and a half wide at the
bottom.  From this door in the same way two passages were constructed
about twelve feet long, the floor of them being considerably lower than
the floor of the hut, so that one had to creep up through them into the
hut.

We were wondering how they were to see through the thick snow, when from
one of the sledges a large slab of fresh-water ice was produced; and the
builder cutting a round hole in one side of the roof, it was let into it
to form a window.

After the window was cut, the builder remained inside for a short time,
and then invited us to enter.  He had collected the snow on one side to
form the beds for a family.  Round the remaining portion seats were
formed, and a place for holding the cooking-lamp.

Indeed the house thus rapidly formed was perfect in every respect.  The
light which came through the ice was like that transmitted through
ground glass, very soft and pleasant, and tinted with the most delicate
hues of green and blue.  A domed room of the most shining alabaster
could not be more beautiful.  We found that our friends intended to take
up their abode near us; for as soon as they had finished one hut, they
began upon others, making signs to us that the first they intended for
our occupation.

We would rather, perhaps, for some reasons, that they had selected a
spot at a greater distance; but they were so honest and good-natured,
that we had little cause to complain.  Andrew suggested that though we
might not use the hut they had built, we might take a lesson from them,
and cover in our house with snow of the same thickness as their walls,
procuring from them slabs of ice for the windows.

No sooner was this proposed than we set about the work, at which, when
our indefatigable friends observed it, they were so pleased that several
of them came to assist us in forming the bricks of snow; and in a short
time a thick wall was run up, which made a very sensible difference in
the temperature of our room.  The next day we covered in the roof,
leaving only a very small opening for the chimney.  We also built a deep
portico before the door, with a second door to it, which prevented the
wind from whistling in as it had before done.

Besides this, we built a courtyard to our house, with the walls eight
feet high, to protect us from the wind; and at last we began to flatter
ourselves that we might be tolerably comfortable, though we had to own
that, notwithstanding all the means we had at our command, the Esquimaux
were better able to make themselves so.

Our fire, from the constant care it required and the difficulty of
procuring fuel, gave us most trouble; so remembering the lamp we had
seen in the tents, we resolved to adopt a similar plan.

We had been so busily engaged in improving our own house, that we had
not remarked the progress made by our friends in the construction of
their habitations.  They now invited us to enter them again, when we
found all the families established comfortably in them.

After creeping through the two low passages, each with its arched
doorway, we came to a small circular apartment, of which the roof was a
perfect dome.  From this, three doorways, also arched and of larger
dimensions than the outer ones, led into as many inhabited apartments,
one on each side, and the other facing us as we entered.

The scene presented by the interior was very interesting.  The women
were seated on the beds at the sides of the huts, each having her little
fireplace or lamp, with all her domestic utensils about her.  The
children crept behind their mothers, and the dogs, except the female
ones, which were indulged with a part of the beds, slunk out past us in
dismay.

The roof and sides of the inner rooms were lined with sealskin, neatly
sewed together and exactly fitting the dome, which gave the whole a very
comfortable nest-like appearance.  On examination we found that the beds
were arranged, first by covering the snow with a quantity of small
stones, over which were laid tent-poles, blades of whalebone, and other
similar-shaped things; above these a number of little pieces of network,
made of thin slips of whalebone; and lastly, a quantity of leaves and
twigs.  Above all was spread a thick coating of skins, which could not
now by any chance touch the snow, and a very comfortable couch was the
result.

The lamps were the same as those used in the tents, and were quite
sufficient to afford ample warmth to the apartments.  Indeed, had the
heat been greater, it would have caused the snow to melt, to the great
inconvenience of the inhabitants.

I have already described some of their domestic utensils--their pots
hollowed out of stone, with handles of sinew to place over the fire;
their dishes and plates of whalebone; and their baskets of various
sizes, made of skins; their knives of the tusks of the walrus; their
drinking-cups of the horns of the musk-ox; and their spoons are of the
same material.  They also make marrow spoons out of long, narrow,
hollowed pieces of bone, and every housewife has several of them tied
together and attached to her needle-case.

Every person carries a little leathern case, containing moss well dried
and rubbed between the hands, and also the white floss of the seed of
the ground-willow, to serve as tinder.  The sparks are struck from two
lumps of iron pyrites; and as soon as the tinder has caught, it is
gently blown till the fire has spread an inch around, when the pointed
end of a piece of oiled wick being applied, it soon bursts into a flame,
the whole process occupying a couple of minutes.

While speaking of their domestic habits, I may remark that in summer
they live on the flesh of the musk-ox, the reindeer, the whale, the
walrus, the seal, and the salmon, besides birds and hares, and any other
animals they can catch; but in the winter they seldom can procure
anything but the walrus and small seal, so that they suffer often from
hunger.  Then I am sorry to say they are very improvident, and eat to
repletion when they have a good supply, seldom thinking of saving for
the future.

This is their great fault.  I should say that they are a most amiable,
industrious, and peaceful people, whose minds are well prepared to
receive the truths of Christianity, though at present they appear to
have little or no notions whatever of any sort of religion, and none of
a Supreme Being.

The children, from their pleasing manners, took our fancy very much.
They never cry for trifling accidents, and seldom even for severe hurts.
They are as fond of play as other children; and while an English child
draws a cart, an Esquimaux has a sledge of whalebone, and instead of a
baby-house it builds a miniature snow-hut, and begs a lighted wick from
its mother's lamp to illuminate the little dwelling.

Their parents make for them as dolls, little figures of men and women
habited in the true Esquimaux costume, as well as a variety of other
toys, many of them having reference to their future occupations in
life,--such as canoes, spears, and bows and arrows.

Grown people as well as children use the drum or tambourine in their
games.  They are fond of notching the edges of two bits of whalebone,
and whirling them round their heads to make a humming sound, just as
English boys do; and they also make toys like wind-mills, with arms to
turn round with the wind.

From an early age boys are taught habits of industry; and when not more
than eight years old, their fathers take them on their seal-catching
expeditions, where they learn how to support themselves during their
future life.  They are frequently entrusted, even at that early age, to
bring home a sledge and dogs several miles over the ice; and at the age
of eleven boys are to be seen in water-tight boots and mocassins, with
spears in their hands and coils of line on their backs, accompanying the
men on their fishing excursions.

The village had been established a few days when my friend Ickmallick
proposed that I should accompany him in an expedition in search of game
inland.  The Esquimaux had not yet seen us use our guns; but, from
having discovered that we had killed the bears and the walrus by some
means unknown to them, they were impressed with an idea that we were
able to kill any animals without difficulty.

Andrew having no objection to my going, I supplied myself with a store
of provisions to last me several days, with a skin and a couple of
blankets, a cooking-pot and cup; and with my gun in my hand, I took my
seat on my friend's sledge.  Besides the six dogs which drew it, we were
accompanied by two brace of hunting dogs, those in the team being also
equally serviceable for running down game.  Ickmallick had some walrus
flesh and blubber for himself and the dogs, and a dish for our lamp.  He
was armed with a bow and arrows, a spear, and a knife.

I had become possessed of a dog of the name of Tupua, a very fine
animal, who had grown very much attached to me, in consequence of my
feeding him regularly and treating him kindly.  He now followed the
sledge with the rest of the pack.  Ickmallick cracked his whip, and off
we went over the hard frozen snow at a rapid rate.  Where we were going
to I could not tell, except that our course was about west and
south-west.

The first day we saw no game of any description.  We travelled, I
suppose, about thirty miles; for though sometimes we went along over the
hard snow very fast, at others we had to go over very rough ground, and
to climb hills.  Had I not seen the snow-hut built before, I should have
hesitated about accompanying my friend, on account of not knowing how we
were to pass the nights.  I was, however, not surprised to see him set
to work behind a sheltered bank, and in the course of half-an-hour, with
my assistance, run up as comfortable a hut as under the circumstances of
the case we could desire, with a lamp burning within, and a luxurious
bed ready, while another hut, close to it, was run up for the dogs.  The
dogs being fed, and our pot having produced us a savoury mess, of which
my companion ate by far the larger portion, we went to bed and slept
soundly till the morning.

We had started about two hours when the sharp eyes of my friend
discovered the traces of two musk-oxen on the steep side of a hill.
Immediately jumping off the sledge, he unyoked the dogs, and commenced
building a hut over it, which might also serve us at night.  He then let
slip his dogs, who went off at full speed and were soon out of sight, as
the nature of the ground did not allow a very extensive view.  I let go
mine also.  But being unaccustomed to walking in the snow, I could not
keep up with Ickmallick; so he slackened his pace, refusing to leave me
behind, though I urged him to do so, lest we should lose our expected
prey.  He assured me, however, that the dogs would take very good care
of their own business.  We went on, therefore, laboriously enough for
two hours, over a very rugged country, and through deep snow, when,
finding that the footsteps of the dogs no longer followed that of the
oxen, he concluded that they had got up with the animals, and were
probably holding one or both at bay.

We soon found, on turning a hill, that this was the fact; when the sight
of a fine ox at bay before the three dogs cured my fatigue in an
instant, and we went off ourselves at full speed to the rescue.

Ickmallick, however, kept the lead, and was in the act of discharging
his second arrow when I came up.  We saw that it had struck on a rib,
since it fell out without even diverting the attention of the animal
from the dogs, which continued barking and dodging round it, seizing it
by the heels whenever they had an opportunity or when it turned to
escape, and then retreating as it faced them.

In the meantime it was trembling with rage, and labouring to reach its
active assailants, but, experienced as they were in this service, unable
to touch them.  It was easy to see that my companion's weapons were of
little value in this warfare, or at least that victory would not have
been gained under many hours, as he continued to shoot without apparent
effect, finding his opportunities for an aim with much difficulty, and
losing much time afterwards in recovering his arrows.

I therefore thought it was time to show what I could do with my
mysterious weapon, and putting in a ball, I fired at the animal at about
fifteen yards from it.  The ball took effect, and it fell; but rising
again, it made a sudden dart at us, very nearly catching me as I sprang
aside.  Fortunately there was a rock rising out of the ground close to
us.  Behind this we dodged, when the ox, rushing at it with all its
force, struck its head with tremendous violence against it.

The animal fell down, stunned for a moment, with a crash which made the
hard ground echo to the sound.  On this Ickmallick leaped forward and
attempted to stab it with a knife; but it was instantly up again, and he
was obliged to run for shelter behind the dogs, which came forward to
renew the attack.  Bleeding profusely as the animal was, its long hair
down its sides being matted with blood, yet its rage and strength seemed
undiminished, as it continued rushing forward and butting with the same
ferocity as before.

In the meantime I had reloaded my gun behind the rock, and was advancing
to take another shot, when the animal darted towards me, to the great
alarm of my friend, who thought I should be killed.  He called to me to
return to my shelter, but I had time, I felt, for a cool aim.  I fired,
and the animal fell not five yards from me.  The sight of his fallen
enemy made my companion scream and dance with joy, and on his coming up
it was dead.

On examining it, we discovered that the last ball had passed through the
heart.  From the habits of the Esquimaux, I expected that my friend
would have lost no time in extracting a dinner out of the ox; but I
found that I had done him injustice, and that his prudence was more
powerful than his stomach.

He was satisfied with mixing some of the warm blood with snow, thus
dissolving as much as he required to quench his thirst; and he then
immediately proceeded to skin the animal, knowing very well, what I
might have recollected, that the operation would shortly become
impossible in consequence of the severity of the cold, which would soon
freeze the whole into an impracticable mass.

For the same reason he divided the carcase into four parts, that we
might be better able to lift it.  As we were unable to carry off our
prize, we built a snow-hut over it, setting up marks that we might know
the spot again.  We however took away a small portion for a meal, which
on reaching our abode we cooked, and found excellent.

We were up by daylight to go in search of the other ox, the traces of
which we had seen.  We searched for it for two hours, when we discovered
it grazing on the top of a hill free from snow.  There was only one path
by which it could escape.  That we occupied; and as we advanced rapidly
towards it, our shouts and the loud barking of the dogs alarmed it.

First it seemed as if it would rush at us, but its heart failed it and
it turned and fled.  There was a precipice before it; but it either did
not see it, or fancied that it could leap to the bottom in safety.  We
observed it disappear, and I thought it was lost, and on reaching the
edge of the cliff it was nowhere to be seen.  My friend, however,
beckoned me to accompany him, and winding down the hill, we found the
animal at the bottom of the precipice, killed by the fall.

It was cut up in the same way as the first, and a snow-hut was built
over it.

We employed the next day in bringing up the flesh and skins of the oxen
to our hut; and fortunate it was that we did so, for it snowed so hard
that I do not think we should otherwise have been able to find the spot
where we had left them.  We were out looking for more oxen, when, being
on some high ground, I saw some dark objects to the north, advancing
over the snow in a line which would bring them to the foot of the hill
where we were.

I pointed them out to Ickmallick, but his keen eye had perceived them.
They were a herd of deer migrating to the south.  They travelled on at a
rapid rate, not stopping to graze, nor turning to the right hand nor to
the left.  My companion pulled me by the sleeve, and urged me down the
hill, where he beckoned me to take up my post behind a snow wall, which
he with the greatest rapidity threw up.

We had scarcely knelt down when the herd appeared in sight, dashing
onward.  I waited till I could get a good shot, and fired at a fine
buck.  I hit him, but he continued his course with his companions.  We
thought he was lost to us, but he very soon dropped behind the rest.  On
this Ickmallick let slip the dogs, which he had held all the time in
leashes.  They were very soon at the stag's heels, and brought him to
bay.  He was a fine object as he stood conspicuous on the white sheet of
snow, now tinged with the blood which flowed from his side, his antlers
still raised in defiance at the dogs barking round him, and yet scarcely
daring to attack him.  Though deserted by his companions, he fought
nobly; but he was already exhausted by loss of blood, and could no
longer ward off the attacks of the dogs at his throat.

At last he sank, and we were just in time to prevent him from being torn
to pieces by the ravenous dogs.  A stroke from Ickmallick's knife put an
end to his torture, and gladly would I have avoided the reproachful
glance of his eye as the weapon struck him.  This unexpected good
fortune made my companion resolve to return home; and he seemed to
regret that he had not brought another sledge to carry back our game.

The deer was prepared as had been the oxen, and going back to the hut
for a sledge, we conveyed it there before night.

Ickmallick, to my astonishment, made a dish of the vegetable contents of
the intestines, which he seemed to consider very excellent, though I
could not prevail upon myself to taste it.

The next morning we started on our journey homeward.  I could not
recognise the face of the country, it was so covered with snow; and
still less could I have found my way against the heavy snow which was
driving in our faces.

It was slow work, for we had in several places partly to unload the
sledge and to go forward, then to return for the remainder of our
property.  It was, however, satisfactory to feel that we were
independent of inns and innkeepers, and that we had ample means of
making ourselves comfortable at night.  As usual, when it began to grow
dark we built our hut, lighted our fire, cooked our supper, made our
beds, and were very soon fast asleep.

I awoke at the usual hour, feeling rather oppressed with the heat.  I
then aroused my companion, whose slumbers were heavy after the five or
six pounds of solid flesh he had devoured, and inquired what was the
cause of this.  He pointed to the door of the hut, which I found was
completely blocked up with snow.  He laughed to show me that there was
nothing to fear, and began making preparations for breakfast.

On further examination of the state of things, I found that we were
snowed in, but to what depth I could not say, further than that, as six
to seven feet frequently fell in the course of a night, I supposed, as
was the case, that we might be buried beneath that depth of snow.  This
seemed to make no difference to Ickmallick, for he ate away as heartily
as usual, and then packed up our goods in preparation for departure.

Having accomplished this task, he began cutting away the snow, so as to
form a passage just large enough to admit his body.  When this was done,
we crept through it into the cold bleak air, and it took us a
considerable time before we could enlarge the cavity sufficiently to get
out the sledge and dogs with our goods.  The heat, with the wear and
tear of the journey, had somewhat damaged the runners of the sledge, and
we had to melt some snow and to rub it hard over them before the
conveyance was fit to proceed.  The day closed in before we reached
home, but Ickmallick knew the road too well, as did his dogs, to make it
necessary to stop.

I fancied that I recognised the cliffs of the coast in the distance,
when suddenly just before us I saw some pale lights, like those from
gigantic glow-worms, rising out of the ground.  The dogs came to a
standstill; and voices of welcome rising from the interior, showed me
that we had arrived at the village, now covered to the roofs of the huts
by snow.  The lights I saw were emitted through the ice windows in them.
I walked on to our own house, where I found all my companions well; and
before long Ickmallick brought in half the deer and a quarter of one of
the oxen, which he seemed to consider my share of the produce of the
chase.



CHAPTER THIRTY FIVE.

We thought that we had known what cold was when the winter first began;
but when a strong northerly wind commenced, having passed over either a
frozen sea or sheet of snow, then we really felt how hard it could
freeze.  Even the Esquimaux kept within their snow-huts, and we could
not venture beyond the shelter of our snow-wall, without instantly
having our faces frost-bitten.

It was not till the last day of November that we entirely lost sight of
the sun, and the long arctic night commenced.  But the night of that
region cannot be compared to the dark, gloomy nights of more southern
climes.  Overhead the sky was generally beautifully clear, and the moon
and stars shining on the snow gave a light scarcely less bright than
that of day.

About noon, also, there was always a twilight, and in clear weather a
beautiful arch of bright red light was seen over the southern horizon.
Besides this, the aurora borealis frequently lighted up the sky with its
brilliant hues, like some magnificent firework on a grand scale.  I
watched a very beautiful aurora one night in the south-west, which
extended its glowing radiance as far as the zenith.

Fancy a bright arch suddenly bursting forth in the dark-blue sky,
sending up streamers of many hues--orange, crimson, and purple--while
bright coruscations were emitted from it, completely obscuring the stars
in the neighbourhood!  Two bright nebulae afterwards appeared beneath
it: and about two o'clock it broke up into fragments, the coruscations
becoming more frequent and irregular till it vanished entirely.

Even during the coldest weather, provided there was no wind, we could
enjoy ourselves in the open air; but the slightest wind made us feel a
smarting sensation all over the face, with a considerable pain in the
forehead.  We could not touch our guns in the open air without our
mittens; and when by accident one of us put his hand to anything iron,
it felt as if it was red-hot, and took off the flesh exactly in the same
manner.

We were very comfortable in our house, but we had to make some
alterations.  We found it better to stop up the chimney of our stove,
and to use the same sort of lamp as the natives, which we were able to
do, as we were well supplied with seals and walrus.  The Esquimaux used
to hunt the walrus throughout the winter, and would frequently venture
out to sea on floating masses of ice to attack them, trusting to the
wind to bring them back again with their prize.

When a walrus is struck near the edge of a floe, the hunter fastens the
line of his harpoon round his body and places his feet firmly against a
hummock of ice, in which position he can withstand the very heavy strain
of the struggling animal.

Seals are taken in a less dangerous way, but one which requires very
great perseverance.  As seals require to breathe, they have to make
holes in the ice for this purpose, and the Esquimaux watch for them as
they are thus employed.  Immediately that a man discovers by listening
that a seal is working beneath the ice, he builds a snow-wall about four
feet in height to shelter him from the wind, and seating himself under
the lee of it, deposits his spear-lines and other implements upon
several little forked sticks inserted into the snow, to prevent the
slightest noise being made in moving them when wanted.  He also ties his
own knees together with a thong, to prevent any rustling of his clothes.

To ascertain if the seal is still at work, he pierces through the ice
with a slender rod of bone with a knob at the end of it.  If this is
moved, he knows that the animal is at work; if it remains quiet, he
knows that he has deserted the spot.

When the hole is nearly completed, the hunter lifts his spear with its
line attached; and as soon as the blowing of the seal is distinctly
heard, and the ice consequently very thin, he drives it into him with
the force of both arms, and then cuts away the remaining crust of ice to
enable him to repeat the wounds and to get him out.  A man will thus
watch for hours together, with a temperature of 30 degrees below zero.

We were able to kill a good many with our guns at a distance as they lay
on the ice, when no one could have approached near them.  Our sporting,
on the whole, was tolerably successful, for we killed a quantity of
ptarmigan, grouse, and other birds, besides several white hares.  We
also killed several foxes and a quantity of wolves which came prowling
round our house, and would, I doubt not, have carried off any of our
dogs or provisions they could have got at.

Thus the winter passed away without any adventures particularly worth
recording.  The sun was below the horizon for about six weeks; and
though only for a short period at a time, we gladly once more welcomed
the sight of his beams.

Our Esquimaux friends continued on very good terms with us; and with our
assistance they were always well supplied with food.  Andrew took great
precautions about our health, and advised us to take daily some of the
pickles and preserved fruits we had discovered, to assist in keeping off
the scurvy,--as also a daily supply of fresh meat, whether of fish or
flesh; and we very soon got over any objection we might have had to
seal's blubber dressed in Esquimaux fashion.

During calm weather we paid numerous visits to the ship, to bring away
things we might require; and we were able to afford our friends what was
to them an almost inexhaustible supply of wood.  Without the aid of our
saws and hatchets they could not cut away the stout timbers and planks;
and as we had removed the bulkheads and lining of the ship, with the
remaining spars, their honesty was not as much tempted as it otherwise
might have been.

Our time did not hang on our hands nearly as heavily as might be
supposed.  We in the first place employed ourselves in manufacturing the
skins of the animals we killed into garments of all sorts,--mittens,
hoots, jackets, and caps,--so that we were all of us clothed from head
to foot very much in the fashion of the Esquimaux.

We took some trouble to trim our jackets and caps with fur of different
colours as they do, and the effect produced was very good.  We also made
models of sledges and canoes, and of all the articles used by our
friends, which seemed to please them very much, though I confess they
were not more neatly made than theirs, in spite of our superior tools.

When tired of work we used to sit round our lamp at night, and narrate
our past adventures, or invent stories, some of which were very
ingenious and amusing, and were well worth writing down; indeed, I
regret that my space will not allow me to give some which I remember
very well, for I took pains to impress them on my memory, thinking them
worth preserving.  If my young friends express any wish to hear them, I
shall be very glad at some future time to write them down for their
amusement.

But the subject which naturally occupied our chief attention was the
means we should take to regain our native land.  We could not hope that
any whalers would visit the coast till August at the soonest, and even
then it was not certain that they would come at all.  David, who was our
authority on such matters, said that he had known some years when the
ships could not pass the middle ice through Baffin's Bay to Pond's Bay;
and that, consequently, we might have to pass another year in that
place, unless we could escape through our own exertions.

On this the idea was started of building a vessel, and attempting to
reach Newfoundland in her, or to try and fall in with some whaler at the
entrance of Davis' Straits.

I cannot say that I very much approved of this plan.  I had great
confidence in Andrew's discretion, and I knew both him and David to be
experienced seamen, but neither of them knew anything about navigation--
indeed David could neither read nor write; and though we might possibly
be able to find our way through the ice, when once we got clear we might
lose it, and be wrecked on a worse coast than the one we were desirous
of quitting.  How also could such a vessel as we had the means of
building be expected to withstand the slightest pressure of the ice?
and, from the experience we had had, I did not think it likely we should
be able to get to the south without encountering some of those fearful
contests in which we had seen other vessels destroyed.

However, day after day we talked about it; and at least it served to
beguile the time, though nothing definite was determined on.  We had
unfortunately no books, for those we found in the ship we could not
read.  I had, however, a small note-book in my pocket, and with my
pencil, which I used very carefully, I kept a sort of journal across the
leaves of the foreign books, thus turning them to some account.

Had it not been for Andrew, I am afraid that few of us would have shown
any attention to our religious duties; but he by degrees drew the minds
even of the most thoughtless to the subject of religion, till all
acknowledged its importance and beauty.  He explained to us, to the best
of his power, the truths of Christianity, of which most of us had before
a very slight and imperfect knowledge.  He also proposed that we should
unitedly offer up our prayers to Heaven every morning and evening; and
from that time we never failed in that important duty.

As I think over the prayers used by that good man, although the words
and sentences might have been somewhat unpolished, I feel that the
sentiments could not have been surpassed by the most highly educated
clergyman--for this reason, that they came from an enlightened mind with
an earnest spirit.  No words, indeed, could be more appropriate to our
condition than those he used.

Early in February the sun again made his appearance, and the day,
including twilight, might be said to last from eight o'clock to four, so
that we had not a very much shorter day than people in London.  The
weather, however, was colder than ever, and we were less able to be
exposed to the air for any length of time than during the dark months.

About the middle of March there were slight signs of a thaw, the snow
being glazed over in the evening, as if the sun had had some effect on
it.  We also felt a sensible improvement in the temperature, and were
soon able not only to wash our clothes, but to dry them in the open air,
an operation which rather astonished our Esquimaux friends.

Early in May there was a perceptible twilight at midnight, so that we
felt the summer had once more begun.

A little later, ptarmigan, grouse, and other birds made their
appearance, and the Esquimaux reported that they had seen the tracks of
deer and musk-oxen.  Still, far out to sea there was the same dreary
flat expanse of ice, covered with a sheet of snow.

I ought to have mentioned that for the sake of being nearer the edge of
the ice, where seals could be caught, some of our friends had built for
themselves snow-huts on the ice.  For this purpose they completely swept
away the snow, leaving a flooring of clear ice, which was of the richest
and most splendid blue that nature affords.  I thought to myself, with
these simple materials what a magnificent palace might be built, far
surpassing any other style of edifice!

The increasing warmth of the weather now enabling us to work out of
doors for several hours together, it was once more seriously proposed
that we should begin to build a boat, or, as some insisted on calling
her, a vessel, to carry us home.  I asked Andrew what he thought on the
subject, for he had not expressed any very strong opinion either one way
or the other.  He replied that he thought there could be no harm in
trying to build a small vessel; that we had an abundance of materials
and tools, with provisions; and that if we could contrive to make her
seaworthy, we might manage to reach one of the places to the south
constantly visited by whalers; but if not, we must be content to wait
till some ship might pass in the autumn.

He owned that he, for one, should not be inclined to venture out of
sight of land; and that, provided we took a good supply of provisions
with us, our firearms and powder, our harpoons and lances, after the
experience we had had, we could not come to much harm, even if we were
compelled to weather out another winter in the arctic regions.



CHAPTER THIRTY SIX.

Having determined to build a vessel, we set to work with great energy;
and we hoped by ingenuity and perseverance to make amends for our want
of skill and knowledge.

Our first task was to break up the wreck, and to convey it piecemeal to
the bay; and in this work we were ably assisted by the Esquimaux, who
understood that whatever portion we did not require was to be their
perquisite.  They also shrewdly suspected that we should leave them, if
we went away, many of the other treasures we had in our possession.  I
believe, however, that they really had formed a sincere regard for us,
and were sorry to find that we were about to depart; at the same time
that they consoled themselves, as more civilised people are apt to do
under similar circumstances, with the reflection that we should leave
something behind us.

We first had to carry to our store the remainder of the salted
provisions; which, had they been left a single night on board after the
hatches were removed, the bears would inevitably have got hold of.  We
then carried off such part of the deck as we required, with some of the
timbers and planks.

As we could not get at the keel, we were obliged to content ourselves
with the mainmast, to serve as a keel for our new vessel.  We laid her
down close to the beach just above high-water mark, with a
carriage-sledge under her, so as to be able to launch her over the ice.
Our intention was to make her a vessel of about sixteen to twenty tons,
which was as large as our materials would allow, and to rig her as a
schooner for the same reason, and because she would thus be more easily
handled.

After much discussion as to the ways and means, we laid down the keel
and set up the stem and stern.  We next commenced on the ribs, which
puzzled us much more to shape them, so as to make the sides of the form
we wished, and one side to correspond with the other.  However, there is
an old saying, that "Where there's a will there's a way;" and though not
always true, it was so in our case, though we expended six times as much
labour and time as we should have done had there been a good carpenter
among us to superintend our work.  We were unwearied in our labours; we
worked all day, and a great part of the night too, for we all felt that
on getting it done in time depended our escape from those icy regions
that year.

I have described our imprisonment as passed more pleasantly than we
could have expected; but yet none of us desired to spend another winter
in the same way, and most of us had some friends or relations whom we
wished again to see, and to relieve from the anxiety they must be
feeling on our account.

We should have worked on Sundays, but Andrew Thompson urged us to
desist.  Some of the men answered that we were working in a good cause,
as we should the sooner be able to return home.

"It is the Lord's day, and He says we shall not work on it," answered
Andrew.  "Therefore it is wrong to work on it; and depend upon it He
never intends us to do wrong that good may come of it.  We are building
a vessel, which we think may be the means of saving us; but He may have
arranged differently, and after all our labour it might prove our
destruction."

Terence, Tom, and I at once said we would follow Andrew's advice; and
one or two of the others added that they were not going to work for us
if we chose to be idle, so the Sabbath became a day of rest.  The
Esquimaux wondered when they observed this, and inquired why every
seventh day we desisted from work, though so anxious to get our ship
built.

Andrew then explained to them that we were commanded to do so by the God
we worshipped, and that if we disobeyed His laws He would be angry with
us, and that we could not expect to prosper.

Our knowledge of their language was unfortunately far too imperfect to
enable us to impart any of the great tenets of Christianity to them; but
I do believe that this reply, and the exhibition of obedience to the
commands of a Being whom none of us saw, yet willingly obeyed, opened
their minds, more than any sermon could have done, to receive those
truths whenever they may be offered to them.

Many a time in their snow tents will those untutored savages, during the
long night of winter, talk of the God of the Kabbinae (the Europeans),
and worship Him unknowingly in His works.  They are people of inquiring
minds, very capable of receiving instruction; and from their habits and
dispositions, I feel assured that were the great light of the gospel
placed before them, they would gladly receive its truths, and be brought
into Christ's flock of true believers.

Should there be no other result from the gallant attempts making to
discover a north-west passage round the continent of America, than that
by those means people have become acquainted with the condition of vast
tribes hitherto little known, and thereby it has been put into the
hearts of some of Christ's true soldiers to carry His gospel among them,
glorious indeed it will be.

Who can say that the finger of God has not directed our brave countrymen
to those regions for that very purpose, although they themselves are
ignorant of the influence which impels them; and that, it having been
shown how easily the rigours of an arctic winter may be withstood, ere
long missionaries may be on their way to reside among the northern, as
Christian men have for long resided among the southern, tribes of
Esquimaux for the same holy purpose?

We got on very briskly with our vessel.  She was not very sightly,
certainly, but we thought she would be strong, which was of more
importance.  After much discussion we determined to give her a round
stern, as more likely to withstand a blow from the ice.  Her floors were
very flat, which was very much owing to the shape of the timbers, which
we could not alter; but this was not a fault, as she would better have
borne being thrown on the ice.

When we came to planking her, we found great difficulty in making the
planks fit the ribs, as any one conversant with shipbuilding may
suppose; and we had to fill up under the planks in many places, to
secure them to the timbers.  We resolved that she should be very strong;
so we almost filled her with beams, and double-planked her over after
having caulked the first planking.

We had less difficulty in laying down the deck; but for the size of the
vessel it was very thick and not very even.  Provided, however, it was
water-tight, we cared nothing for other defects.

We built up some strong high bulwarks, not forgetting to leave ports of
good size to let the water run off should a sea break on board us.  We
got two spars from the lower yards of the ship which served for masts,
and set them up with shrouds, though, as most of the rigging of the ship
was rotten, we had some difficulty in finding a sufficient quantity.

We rigged her with a fore and aft mainsail and fore-sail, and a square
topsail and a fore staysail and jib, the bowsprit steeping up very much,
so that when she pitched there might be less chance of its being carried
away.

It is not an easy job to cut out a sail well, though there appears to be
no difficulty in it; and I must own that ours did not look very well
when we first set them, but by alterations, and making several patches,
we got them to stand fairly at last.

We were prudent and made two suits, besides keeping a supply of canvas
among our stores.

Our yards and gaffs were somewhat heavy, as we had no proper-sized spars
to make them from.  We found a good supply of rope on board the ship,
from which we fitted our running rigging.  At last we had a vessel of
some twenty to five-and-twenty tons, in all appearance ready for sea.

The last and not the least important task was to select the stores and
provisions we should require, and to make the casks to hold the water
tight.  Had we had carpenter or blacksmith among us, much of our labour
might have been spared; but it must be remembered that we had only a few
tools, to the use of which none of us were accustomed, and that nearly
every nail we employed we had to draw from the planks and to straighten.

By the end of August our task was accomplished, and it was with no
little satisfaction that we walked round and round our vessel to survey
our work.

The next thing to be done was to move her over the ice to the centre of
the bay, where about two miles off there was open water.  When once we
could get the cradle on which she rested on the ice, we thought our task
would be easy; but to set it going was the difficulty.  We tried every
means we could think of, but the heavy mass would not move.

An ordinary-built vessel of fifteen tons could not have weighed a third
of what ours did.  At last we bethought ourselves of cutting away the
ground under the cradle, and of placing slips of ice for it to run on.
With infinite trouble and no little risk we succeeded in doing this.  We
gave a shout of joy as we saw our craft moving towards the ice.  She
glided slowly at first, but her speed increased.  She dashed on; and
before she reached the ice, while yet on the beach, the cradle gave way,
and with a loud crash she fell over on her side.  We were in despair,
and some gave vent to their feelings in expressions of bitter complaint.

We might shore her up, and afterwards cut a channel for her through the
ice, if she had escaped injury; but it would be a work of time, and the
season for proceeding to the south might be lost.

Most of the Esquimaux had gone away to catch salmon, and on hunting
expeditions, but a few remained; and though they expressed great regret
at our misfortune, they seemed glad that we had less chance of leaving
them.

Andrew was the only one among us who was calm.  "Come, my lads," he
said, "there's no use looking at what's happened without trying to set
matters to rights again.  If we stand here all day without putting our
hand to the work, we shall not get the craft on an even keel."

His taunting words aroused us to exertion; and it was proposed to get
the vessel up by driving wedges of ice under her bilge, and since the
cradle could be of no further use, to build a way for her to the water,
or to where the ice might be thin enough to allow us to break it, so as
to form a channel for her to float through.

We laboured away very hard; but our want of scientific knowledge made us
despair of accomplishing the task.  The first day we did nothing--the
next we set to work again, but performed little of the proposed work.

"It's of no use, I see," grumbled David.  "We may as well make up our
minds to spend the rest of our days here."

While he was speaking, and all hands were standing doing nothing, I
happened to turn my eyes to the northward, and there I saw what appeared
to me a high land, covered with towers, and houses, and church-steeples,
with trees and rocks on either side.  Under the land, however, appeared
a thin line of water, and dividing it a broad gap, as it were the mouth
of some wide river or fiord; but what most attracted my attention was an
inverted ship, which appeared above it under all sail.

I at once guessed that this extraordinary appearance was caused by
refraction; but the figure of the ship puzzled me.  It was so perfect in
every respect, that I was convinced that it could not be an ocular
illusion, and that there must be some real ship, and that this was her
reflection in the clouds.  I pointed her out to my companions; and when
they saw that all the objects were continually changing and that she
remained the same, they were of the same opinion.  We therefore resolved
to watch, and to get the boat ready to shove off to her should a ship
appear; at the same time the great uncertainty of what might really be
the case prevented us from feeling any exuberance of joy.  It was
already late in the day, but none of us could sleep, so eager were we to
keep a look-out for the strange ship.

Hour after hour passed away, and still no vessel appeared to relieve our
anxiety.  Some of the men at length grew weary of watching, and threw
themselves on their beds to sleep.

"It was, after all, to my mind but a fancy," exclaimed Terence, entering
the hut with a discontented air.  "The figure we saw in the sky was very
like a ship, I own; but still I'd bet anything it was no ship at all."

Andrew and I still held that it was a ship.

"Come, mates," said David, who had been looking out as eagerly as any of
us; "I've sailed these seas man and boy, thirty years and more, and so
I've a right to have my say.  Now I've often seen just such a sight as
we saw yester-even; sometimes we fell in with the ship we saw up in the
clouds like, and other times we looked for her and she never appeared,
so we supposed that it must have been an iceberg in the figure of a ship
which we had seen.  Therefore what I say is, that what we saw may be a
ship.  But if she was a ship, then she ought to have been off here by
this time; but if it was an iceberg, then there's no use troubling our
heads about it."

David having thus authoritatively delivered his opinion, walked into the
hut and threw himself on his bed, thereby proving that he considered the
appearance we had seen merely the reflection of an iceberg.

I, however, still held to my first opinion, that a real ship alone could
have created a figure so perfect in the clouds.  Then it must be
remembered that I had seen it first, and that the appearance may have
somewhat altered before the attention of the rest was called to it.  I,
however, was so far biassed by David's opinions, that I went and threw
myself on my bed.  I slept, but it was very lightly; and all the time I
fancied that ships were gliding before me, and that their crews were
beckoning me to come on board.

At last, so strong was the impression on my mind, than I got up and went
to our look-out place on the top of the nearest hill.  Great, alas! was
my disappointment, when the same dreary expanse of ice and water met my
eye, without a sail anywhere to be seen.

One thing struck me, that the whole surface of the sea was as calm and
unruffled as the intervening ice, and that no breath of air was stirring
in the heavens.  The sun rose as I watched, gilding the pinnacles of the
icebergs, which still remained fixed in the bay, casting a silvery hue
over the masses of snow yet unmelted on the hills, and making stronger
than ever the contrast between the pure white of the snow-covered ice,
and the deep blue of the tranquil ocean.

"At all events," I thought, "no ship can approach us from any quarter
unless a breeze should spring up, and till then I may rest in peace."
So I again turned in, and slept as soundly as I had ever done in my
life.

I was aroused by my companions, who summoned me to come and assist them
in launching our vessel.  We all set to work again with a will, and
after infinite labour we got her once more shored up; but to drive her
towards the element on which we intended her to float, was another
affair.

At last we thought that we had succeeded.  If we could but move her a
few more feet she would be on the ice.  Once more she glided on; but on
reaching the ice the impetus she acquired was so great that the shores
gave way, and with greater force than before she fell over on her side,
and in spite of the stout timbers and thick planking, from the
imperfection of our workmanship she was fairly bilged.

We were most of us differently affected.  Some gave way to despair, and
uttered imprecations on their ill-luck, as they called it--others
actually wept with grief--while Andrew looked on with calm composure.

"Mates," he said, turning to those who were loudest in their impious
expressions of discontent, "I have always said that everything happens
for the best; and in this case, depend upon it, we shall find it so.
From the damage our vessel has suffered from the slight shock she
received, it is clear she could not for a moment have withstood a common
nip; and let me ask you, is it not better to remain here even for
another year till a ship takes us off, than to be thrown on a sudden on
a floe, with only our whale-boat to preserve us, and perhaps without
time to save our clothes or provisions?  Let us, rather than be
discontented, believe that God, in this as in everything else, has
ordered all for our good."

The calm confident tone in which Andrew spoke had a great effect on his
hearers, and not another word of complaint was uttered.  While we were
at work, we had not noticed that a breeze had sprung up.  One by one we
were retiring to our hut, when on looking seaward I observed that the
whole surface of the ocean was broken into crisp waves; and glancing my
eyes to the northward, there I beheld what no seaman could doubt for a
moment were the topgallant-sails of a large ship.

I rushed into the hut where my companions were sitting, most of them
with their heads sunk between their knees, brooding on our misfortune,
except Andrew, who stood with his arms folded, meditating on our future
plans, and asking assistance whence alone assistance could be given.

"A sail! a sail!"  I exclaimed.  My voice aroused them from their
lethargy.  They looked at my countenance, and seeing that I was in
earnest, like madmen they rushed from the hut.  Every eye was turned
towards the point I indicated.  There, sure enough, was the sail I had
seen; and without waiting to secure any provisions, we hurried down
towards the boat, but Andrew called us back.

"We should not go empty-handed, mates, among our new friends, nor quit
those who have treated us so hospitably without a word of farewell," he
exclaimed.  "There is yet time enough to do what we should do, and to
pull out into the offing before the ship is off here."

Ashamed by his mild reproof, we went to the tents of our Esquimaux
friends, who still remained near us; and explaining that a ship, by
which we hoped to return to our country, was in sight, we bade them
understand that if we did not return, all the property we left behind
was to be theirs.  We saw tears falling from their eyes as they wrung
our hands when we stepped into the boat, which they assisted us to
launch over the ice.

We had loaded her with as large a supply of provisions as she could
carry, and with our guns and the little ammunition which remained.  Once
in the boat, we gave way with a will, and pulled boldly out to sea, with
our jack at the end of a spar of three times the usual length.

On came the stranger.  O how our hearts beat as we saw her hull rising
out of the water!

On we pulled, so as to place ourselves directly in her course, that
there might not be a possibility of her missing us.  Various were the
conjectures as to what nation she belonged; for it was soon seen she was
not English by the cut of her sails, and as she drew nearer, by her
build.  Some said Danish, others Dutch, and others French.

The last proved right; for, as we got within hailing distance, once more
the voices of civilised men struck our ears.  We could not understand
the question put to us; but when we sung out that we were Englishmen,
who had lost our ship, a voice in our own tongue told us to come on
board.  With joyful hearts we pulled alongside, and found ourselves on
board the _Saint Jean_, whaler, belonging to the port of Bordeaux.

The cargo of our boat, as Andrew had supposed, was not unwelcome, and
secured us a warmer reception than we perhaps might otherwise have
experienced.  The _Saint Jean_ was nearly full, and was one of the few
ships which had that year succeeded in reaching Pond's Bay; so the
second mate, who spoke English, informed us.  Most of them, afraid of
the early setting in of the winter, had already gone to the south, and
must have passed out of sight of land.  Thus, had we not seen the ship,
we should probably have had to pass another winter in the arctic
regions.

I will not stop to describe our voyage to the south.  It was in some
respects favourable for the greater part of the distance; but the crew
were in a sickly state, and our services were therefore of much value.

The captain and first mate both fell ill; and I have reason to suspect
that our reckoning was not kept with proper accuracy.  Six weeks had
passed since we had got on board, when a heavy gale sprung up from the
north-west.  As the night drew on it increased in fury, though, as we
had got everything snug on board, we hoped to weather it out.

It was the opinion of the mates, for the master was too ill to attend to
his duty, that we were well to the southward and west, and that we might
keep away for our port.  Instead, therefore, of laying to, we ran on
before it.  The weather was very thick, and we could scarcely see a
hundred yards ahead.

Day was just breaking, and we Englishmen were all on deck together, from
being placed in the same watch under the second mate, when Terence, who
was forward, sung out with a startling voice--

"Land right ahead, land on the starboard bow!"

The Frenchmen understood the cry--all hands sprang on deck.  The mate
ordered the helm to be put a-port and the yards to be braced up, in the
hopes of being able to beat off.  It was too late; we were completely
embayed.  Land appeared broad on either bow.

To have beaten off with less sail than we carried would have been
hopeless; but still there was more than the ship could carry.  The masts
went by the board.  Fortunately the mizzen-mast went first, followed by
the main-mast, or the ship would have broached to, and every soul of us
would have been swept from her decks.  Andrew sprang aft and put the
helm up again, calling on me to assist him; while the rest ran forward,
to look out for a clear beach to run the ship on, for by this time we
saw that we were too near to attempt to anchor with any chance of saving
the ship.

In moments of sudden peril the French are apt to lose command over
themselves; at all events, such was the case in the present instance.
And yet these men had gone through all the dangers of an arctic voyage;
but then they were dangers for which they were looking out.  Even now
they were brave--that is to say, I do not think they turned paler than
any of us; but they ran here and there, not knowing what to do nor
comprehending the orders of their officers, while we were cool and did
our best to save ourselves.

We kept the helm a-starboard, and steered to a spot where there appeared
to be less surf; but it was a fearful choice of evils.  In two or three
minutes the ship struck; it must have been on a rock, for she trembled
throughout, and the foremast went by the board.  All hands had run aft,
knowing what must occur.  Again she lifted and flew forwards several
yards, but it was to strike with more violence; and the following sea,
before most of us could secure our hold, came rushing furiously on
board, and sweeping everything before it.

I found myself lifted off my feet, and whirled round among the foaming
billows.  I knew nothing more till I felt my arm grasped at by some one;
and when I returned to consciousness I was on the beach uninjured, with
Andrew leaning over me.

I asked for our companions; he shook his head sorrowfully.  Three of
them were missing--poor Tom and two others.  Nearly all the Frenchmen
were lost.  We two, Terence, David, and the two others, and six
Frenchmen, were the only ones who had escaped.  Before the ship struck
we had instinctively thrown off our shoes and the greater part of our
clothing, so that we had nothing on but our shirts and trousers; and as
none of the bodies of our unfortunate shipmates nor any clothes were
washed on shore, we had no means of supplying ourselves.

We suspected that we had been cast away on the west coast of Ireland;
and we found, on inquiry of some people who flocked down to the shore,
that we were not wrong.  I am sorry to say, that so eager were they in
hunting for whatever might come on shore, that they seemed little
disposed to afford us any assistance.  The Frenchmen were anxious at
once to proceed to Dublin, where they might get relief from their
consul; and Andrew and the rest wished to go there also, to cross over
to England or Scotland, and Terence because he belonged to that city.

I, however, was eager to return home direct.  The yearning to see my
parents and brothers and sisters again was stronger than I could repress
I felt sure, also, that Captain Dean and Mary, to whom I had given my
father's address, would have communicated with him, and that I should
receive some news of them.

With sincere regret I parted from that excellent man, Andrew Thompson,
and with not much less from Terence and the rest; but the two first
promised to write to me as soon as they got to their homes.

I set off alone, and a stranger, without shoes, hat, or jacket, to beg
my way across Ireland.  Some disbelieved the tale I told of my
disasters, and turned me from their doors; but others gave me bread and
meat, and the poorest never refused me a potato and a drink of milk, for
their eyes, accustomed to real misery, could discern that I spoke the
truth.

At length, just after dark, I reached the well-known gate of my father's
grounds.  I walked through, and with knees knocking together from
over-excited feelings I approached the house.  I looked up at the
windows--not a light was to be seen, nor a sound heard.  My heart sunk
within me; I feared something must have happened--what, I dared not ask
myself.  I sat down on the steps, fearful of inquiring.

At length I gained courage to ring the door-bell.  It was answered by a
loud barking of dogs from within, but no sound of a human voice.  Again
I rang, and after waiting some time, in my impatience I began to knock
fiercely with my fists.  I stopped, for I heard a window opening, and a
voice inquiring from above what I wanted.  It was old Molly Finn, the
housekeeper.  I recognised her in a moment.  I told her who I was, and
entreated her to tell me where my family were gone.

"Och, ye idle spalpeen, get along with ye, with your lying tales about
being Master Peter, who has been dead these two long years or more," she
exclaimed, in a voice of anger.  "Get along with ye, I say, or I'll let
the dogs out on ye."

"If you mean to let Juno and Pluto slip, you are welcome," I answered,
my anger beginning to rise.  "They'll at least know me, and that's more
than you seem inclined to do, Molly."

"Just come nearer here, and let me ax ye a few questions, whoever ye
are," she said, in a softer tone.

"Tell me first, Molly, where are my father and mother, and brothers and
sisters--are they all alive and well?"  I exclaimed.

"Well, then, there's no harm in telling ye thus much; they are all well,
and gone to Dublin for Miss Fanny's marriage there to a fine gentleman
who's worthy of her.  And now, what have ye got to say?"

"Thank Heaven!"  I exclaimed, and burst into tears, and sobbed till my
heart was like to break.  It was the giving way to affections long long
pent up, like the icy ocean in winter; within my bosom.

"Och, it must be Master Peter, whether dead or alive!" exclaimed the old
woman, disappearing from the window.

I had some notion that bars and bolts were being withdrawn, and in
another instant a lantern was flashed in my face.  It was instantly
thrown down, and I found myself hugged in the dear old creature's arms,
and several of my old four-footed favourites leaping up and licking my
face, she coming in for some share of the said licking, and thinking it
was me all the time returning her kisses.

Tim, the stable-helper, the only other person left on the premises, was
now roused up from his early slumbers, and added his congratulations to
Molly's.  We went inside the house and shut the door, and I rushed round
to every room before I could sit down to eat.  As may be supposed, there
was no great supply of delicacies in the house; but there were potatoes
and buttermilk, and bacon and eggs, and what wanted I more?

Molly had actually cooked my supper, and talked of making my bed, before
she discovered how badly I was clothed.  As for the bed, I begged she
would not trouble herself, as I assured her I should have the greatest
difficulty in sleeping in one, and I at last persuaded her to let me
have a mattress and a blanket on the floor.  I did however, contrive to
sleep, and awoke to find old Molly sitting by my side.

"Och, the dear boy, there's no doubt of ye now, Master Peter!" she
exclaimed.  "Ye talked of them all in your sleep, and looked just like
yourself, ye did; and I'll stand bail that no one but ye could have done
that same."

I got a piece of soap from Molly, and going to a tank there was in the
yard under the pump, by Tim's aid I soon made myself cleaner than I had
been for a long time; but we had a sad puzzle about the clothes, for my
father and brother had left none.  Tim had only those he wore on his
back and a coarse suit; and money, I found, was scarce with Molly.

After hunting about in every direction, she routed out from an old chest
some, with which she came to me in great triumph, saying they were my
own; and so I found they were, but they were some I had thrown aside as
being far too small before I went to sea.  At last I bethought me, that
as no money was to be had without much inconveniencing Molly, I would
continue my journey as I had begun it; and I would present myself to my
family as I was, in the character of a seaman who had known the lost
Peter, and had brought some tidings of him, thus breaking gradually to
my parents the fact that I was still in existence.

I proposed, however, disguising myself somewhat to prevent their
recognising me.  Molly liked my plan; so filling a bag with food, and
borrowing ten shillings from her to help me on my way with greater speed
than I could otherwise have made, I immediately started on the road to
Dublin.  Travelling sometimes on a car, sometimes in a waggon, where I
contrived to get some sound sleep, and oftentimes on foot, in three days
I reached the capital of Ireland.

Beggars in rags excite no remark in any part of Ireland; so, scantily
clothed and careworn as I was, I passed through the streets unobserved.
I was on my way to the house my family had taken, when I observed,
walking leisurely along, a person whose figure and gait I felt certain I
knew.  My heart beat with eagerness.  For some time I could not catch a
glimpse of his face; so I ran on, and passing him, turned back to meet
him.  I was not mistaken--it was my kind friend Captain Dean.

My heart beating violently, I walked up to him, and said, calmly enough,
"I have sailed with you, Captain Dean; but I don't suppose you remember
me, sir."

"No, indeed I do not; though I am not apt to forget those who have been
any time with me," he replied, looking at me very hard.

"It's a long time, sir; but perhaps you may remember a lad of the name
of Peter Lefroy, to whom you were very kind," I said, my voice faltering
as I spoke, for I was longing to inquire after Mary.

"I remember him well, poor lad.  He was lost with a whole ship's company
in the North Sea, upwards of a year ago.  But what do you know of him?"
he asked.

"Why, sir, I know that he was wonderfully preserved, and now stands
before you, Captain Dean," I exclaimed, no longer able to contain
myself.  "And tell me, sir, oh tell me--Mary, where is Mary, sir?"  I
blurted out, feeling that I could not speak again till I heard of her.

"Peter--Peter Lefroy, my good lad!" he ejaculated, seizing my hand and
gazing earnestly in my face.  "It is you yourself I ought to have known
you at once; and Mary--she would know you--she is well, and with your
own sisters, for she is to be one of Miss Fanny's bridesmaids.  But come
along, this will be a day of rejoicing."

Captain Dean, on our way to the house where my family was living, to
which he was bound when I stopped him, told me that he had some time
back communicated with my father; and that a month ago, having made a
voyage to Liverpool, where he was obliged to have his ship repaired, he
had come over to Dublin with Mary to show her something of Ireland.  He
had accidentally met my father, and introducing himself to him, all my
family had shown him and Mary the greatest kindness; and he added that
my sisters had formed a warm friendship for her.

My heart beat when I heard this; but I did not trust myself to say
anything.  "And now, Peter," said Captain Dean, as we reached the door,
"I will go in and break the joyful news to all hands."

What a tumult was in my heart, as for ten minutes I walked up and down
before the house, waiting to be summoned!  At length Captain Dean opened
the door, and beckoning to me, pulled me in.  "They all suspect the
truth," he observed.  "But I would not tell them till I had got you all
ready to show; so now I'll go back and tell them I have brought a lad
who will let them know all about the long-lost Peter."

They heard him speak, and guessing what was the case, they came flying
down the stairs; and before I had got through the half, I was once more
in the loving arms of my truest and best friends.  Even my mother did
not faint, though she sobbed aloud for very joy that her truant son had
returned.

One sweet little girl hung back from the eager crowd.  I espied her, and
breaking through them, she received a not less affectionate greeting
than had my sisters.

With my subsequent life I need not trouble my readers.

"Well, Peter," said my father, after I had been washed and clothed, and
had put on once more the appearance of a gentleman, "you have come back,
my lad, poorer than you went away, I fear."  He made this remark with
the kind intention of filling a purse my sisters and Mary had given me.

"No, father," I answered, "I have come back infinitely richer.  I have
learned to fear God, to worship Him in His works, and to trust to His
infinite mercy.  I have also learned to know myself, and to take advice
and counsel from my superiors in wisdom and goodness."

"Then," said my father, "I am indeed content; and I trust others may
take a needful lesson from the adventures of PETER THE WHALER."

THE END.





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