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

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Cruise of the Dainty - Rovings in the Pacific" ***

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The Cruise of the Dainty, Rovings in the Pacific, By William H G
Kingston.

________________________________________________________________________

Another book of great adventure, this time in the Pacific, where, at the
time, many of the Islanders were, with good reason, ill-disposed towards
Europeans, having been tricked so often in various unpleasant ways, even
to the point where they would be invited on board to do some bartering,
only to be battened below hatches, and then sailed off to Peru to be
used as slaves.  Our adventurers encounter hostility in places, but on
the whole their worst enemies are the weather, and also ill-intentioned
crews of vessels such as those described above.

A short book, but a good read or listen, and you'll enjoy it.

________________________________________________________________________

THE CRUISE OF THE DAINTY, ROVINGS IN THE PACIFIC, BY WILLIAM H G
KINGSTON.



CHAPTER ONE.

"Never was bothered with a more thorough calm!" exclaimed my brother
Harry, not for the first time that morning, as he and I, in spite of the
sweltering heat, paced the deck of our tight little schooner the
_Dainty_, then floating motionless on the smooth bosom of the broad
Pacific.  The empty sails hung idly from the yards.  The dog-vanes
imitated their example.  Not the tiniest wavelet disturbed the shining
surface of the ocean, not a cloud dimmed the intense blue of the sky,
from which the sun glared forth with a power that made the pitch in the
seams of the deck bubble up and stick to the soles of our feet, and
though it might have failed to cook a beefsteak in a satisfactory
manner, was rapidly drying some strings of fish hung up in the rigging.

The white men of the crew were gathered forward, in such shade as they
could find, employed under the superintendence of Tom Platt, our mate,
in manufacturing mats, sinnet, rope yarns, or in knotting and splicing;
the dark-skinned natives, of whom we had several on board similarly
engaged, were mostly on the other side of the deck, apparently
indifferent as to whether they were in the shade or sunshine.  Even my
brother, the commander of the _Dainty_, was too impatient to think much
about the broiling we were undergoing, as we walked from the taffrail to
a short distance before the mainmast, where we invariably turned to face
back again; while during the intervals in our conversation, from an old
habit, he whistled vehemently for a breeze, not that in consequence he
really expected it to come.

As we walked with our faces forward I was amused by watching old Tom,
who, marline-spike in hand, was stropping a block, now inspecting the
work of one man, now that of another, and then giving his attention to a
lad, seated on the spars stowed under the long-boat, engaged in splicing
an eye to the end of a rope.

"Is this all right, Mr Platt?" asked the lad, handing the rope to the
mate, who, squirting a mouthful of tobacco juice over the bulwarks,
turned it round and round to examine it critically.

"Ay, t'will do, Dick--wants scraping a bit; let's see how you'll serve
it," answered old Tom, giving back the rope.

After taking a few more turns my brother stopped.  "Do you think, Platt,
that, we shall be long delayed by this provoking calm?" he asked.

"Can't say, Cap'en.  Known such to last for the better part of a week in
these latitudes," answered the mate, coming a few steps aft.  "Maybe,
though, we'll get a breeze to-morrow, maybe not."

"We are not likely to get it yet, at all events, from the look of the
sky," said Harry.  "We'll rig the awning and persuade Mary and Fanny to
come on deck.  They'll be better here than in the close cabin."  Just as
he spoke Nat Amiel, his young brother-in-law, appeared at the
companion-hatch.

"Wanted to see if you were asleep, as we have been below all the
morning," he exclaimed.  "Well, I declare, it is hot, though it's baking
enough in the cabin to satisfy a salamander."

"We'll soon have some more shade, and then ask the ladies to come on
deck and enjoy it," I answered.  "In the meantime hand up a couple of
the folding-chairs, and I'll place some gratings for them to put their
feet on."

Nat dived into the cabin, and the mate calling the men aft we quickly
had an awning rigged to cover the after-part of the deck.  Harry then
went below to bring up his wife and her sister.  They were by this time
pretty well accustomed to a sea life, as three weeks had passed since we
left Brisbane in Queensland.  My brother Harry, who had been a
lieutenant in the navy, had about four years before come out to settle
in the colony, being engaged at the time to Miss Mary Amiel, the eldest
daughter of an English clergyman.  Agricultural pursuits had not been
much to his taste, and he had therefore settled himself in Brisbane for
the purpose of carrying on a mercantile business.  He had made a very
fair commencement, and had returned about a year before the time I am
speaking of to marry his intended.  On his arrival he found that Mr
Amiel had died, and that his family, consisting of another daughter and
a son, were left in very poor circumstances.  Prompted by his generous
feelings, he at once invited Fanny and Nat to return with him and his
bride to the colony.  This they gladly agreed to do, and the whole party
forthwith took a passage on board an emigrant ship, which after a
prosperous voyage reached the colony.

I had from my earliest days wished to go to sea, and my mother having
consented, as I could not obtain a nomination for the _Britannia_, I got
a berth as a midshipman on board a trader bound for China.  I was
unfortunate in my ship and my captain.  This gave me a dislike not so
much to the sea as to the merchant service, and on my return from my
first voyage, finding that my brother, to whom I was much attached, had
gone back to Queensland, I got leave from my mother, after representing
to her the sort of life I had been leading, to go and join him, she
being certain that he would be very glad to receive me.

As I had made the best use of my opportunities of becoming a seaman
during my first voyage, I had no difficulty in obtaining a berth on
board a ship bound to Queensland, called the _Eclipse_, commanded by
Captain Archer, and I was thus able to work my passage out free of
expense.  On this occasion also I made good use of my time, by adding
considerably to my knowledge of seamanship, and by studying navigation.
Though I was before the mast, as I had my own sextant and books the
officers allowed me to take observations with them and to keep the
ship's reckoning, I had thus a right, with the experience I had had, to
consider myself a fair seaman.

The _Eclipse_ had been four days at sea, when the third mate summoned me
to accompany him into the forehold to get up some casks of provisions.
While searching for those he wanted, I heard a sound as if some one was
gasping for breath, and then a low moan.  I told the mate.

"What can that be, sir?"  I asked.  "It comes from forward."

"Take the lantern, and see if there is any one there," he answered.

I made my way to the spot whence I fancied the sounds proceeded, and
lowering my lantern into a small hole, I saw the figure of a boy
crouching down, with his head resting against a cask.  He made no
movement, and his eyes appeared to be closed.

"There's some one here, sir," I cried out.  "He seems to be very far
gone."

The mate quickly joined me.  "A young stowaway!" he exclaimed.  "We must
have him on deck at once, or it will be beyond the doctor's skill to
bring him round.  I have known more than one lad lose his life in this
way; and I shall get blamed for not having examined the hold before we
left port."

Saying this he lifted the lad in his arms while I held the lantern, and
forthwith carried him on deck.  The low groans the boy uttered showed us
that he was still alive, but he was pale as death and in a wretched
condition.  He was dressed like a respectable lad, but his face and
clothes were covered with dirt.

"The captain will be in a great taking when he finds this out," said the
mate; "still more so if the young fellow dies.  Go aft, Ned, and call
the doctor; maybe he'll be able to bring him round."

I hurried aft, and soon found the surgeon, who was in his dispensary.
When I told him what he was wanted for, he at once, bringing some
medicine with him, hurried forward.

"This will do him good," he said, pouring some liquid down the lad's
throat.  "I don't think, Mr Simmons, that you need be anxious about
him."

The young stowaway almost immediately opened his eyes and stared about
him.  The doctor then ordered the cook to get some broth ready, while
two of the women passengers brought some warm water and washed the poor
lad's face and hands.  The broth, which he eagerly swallowed, revived
him still more, and the doctor considered that he had sufficiently
recovered to be conveyed to the sick bay, the women offering to stay by
his side and to give him medicine and food as he might require them.

"If he is carefully tended he may come round," said the doctor; "but had
he remained another hour in the hold I feel pretty sure that he would
have lost his life."

Having been the means of discovering the young stowaway, I felt a
certain amount of interest in him, and, whenever I could, went in to see
how he was getting on.  The next day he had so far recovered as to be
able to speak without difficulty.  He told me that his name was Richard
Tilston, though he was generally called Dick by his friends; that he had
had a great longing for going to sea; and that, as his father would not
let him, he had run off from school, and found his way down to the
docks.  Hearing that our ship was to haul out into the stream early the
next day, he waited until late in the evening, when he stole on board,
and had, without being discovered, got down into the hold.  He had
brought a bottle of water and some biscuits, together with a couple of
sausages.  Supposing that the ship would at once put to sea, he had not
placed himself on an allowance, and in less than three days had
exhausted all his provisions and water.  As the sea was smooth he
fancied that we were still in the river, and was therefore afraid to
creep out, until he became too ill and weak to do so.

From the tone of his voice and the way he expressed himself I suspected
that he was a young gentleman, but I did not like to ask questions, and
waited to hear what account he would give of himself.  He was, however,
too ill to say much, and was in a great fright at hearing that the
captain would be very angry with him for having stowed himself away.  I
tried to reassure him by saying I did not believe that the captain was
as yet made acquainted with his being on board, and, as far as I could
judge, he was a good-natured man, and would probably not say much to
him.

In spite of all the doctor's care and the nursing he received from the
two kind women who had taken him in charge, it was considerably more
than a week before he was able to get up and move about the deck.  When
his clothes had been cleaned and he himself had been well washed, he
looked a very respectable lad.

At last, one day, Captain Archer saw him, and inquired who he was.  The
third mate had to confess all about the matter, and the captain then
sent for Dick, and in an angry tone asked what had induced him to come
on board.

"I wanted to go to sea, sir, and didn't know any other way of managing
it," answered Dick.

"You took a very bad way, and nearly lost your life in carrying out your
foolish notion," said the captain.  "You have been pretty severely
punished by what you have gone through, or I should have given you a
sound flogging; as it is, I intend to let you off, but you will
understand you must make yourself useful on board and try to pay for
your passage; I can have no idlers, remember, and you will get thrashed
if you do not work.  I will speak to the mates about you, and they'll
see that you have something to do."

Poor Dick, looking very much ashamed of himself, returned forward.  The
mates took care that he should have something to do, and the men also,
for Dick was at everybody's beck and call, and had to do all sorts of
dirty and disagreeable work.  When there was no other work for him he
was employed by the cook to sweep out the caboose and clean the pots and
pans.  He now and then got his back up, when he received a rope's-ending
for his pains.  I did the best I could for him, but often could not save
him from ill-treatment, and at last, in the bitterness of his soul, he
complained that he was leading a regular dog's life, and that he
heartily wished he had not come to sea.

"I won't stand it any longer," he exclaimed.  "I'll jump overboard and
drown myself."

"Don't even talk of doing so wicked and foolish a thing," I said.  "You
wished to become a sailor, now that you have the opportunity of learning
your duty you do nothing but grumble and complain.  You must take the
rough and the smooth together.  I wasn't over well off on my first
voyage, though my mother had paid a premium to the owners and I was on
the quarterdeck, but I saw while I remained on board that there was no
use complaining, so I took things as they were, and by keeping my eyes
open and my wits awake became in a short time a fair seaman."

Poor Dick said that he would try to follow my advice, but he,
notwithstanding, would answer when spoken to, and consequently I was
unable to save him from ill-treatment, as he had brought it down upon
himself.

During a heavy gale we encountered, when near the latitude of the Cape,
one of the so-called midshipmen fell overboard and was drowned.  The
captain knowing that I could take an observation, and hearing that I was
able to keep accounts and would be useful to him, invited me to take the
poor fellow's berth.  This, though it gave me a good deal of work, I was
very glad to do, and I thus saw much less than before of Dick.  As I was
well treated I soon regained my old affection for a sea life, and had
half determined to return home in the ship should my brother not
especially press me to remain.  When, however, we arrived at Brisbane,
and Harry told me of his contemplated trip, and that he should be very
glad of my assistance, I kept to my former intention of remaining with
him.  I therefore wished Captain Archer and his ship, the _Eclipse_,
good-bye, and took up my quarters with Harry and his family.  I liked
Mary and her sister, whom I had not before seen, very much, and I was
glad that Harry had not taken them into the bush, for they did not
appear at all suited to the rough style of life they would have had to
lead there, for they were both very pretty and elegant, and had never
been accustomed to hard work, though they now did their best to make
themselves useful in the house, and were never idle.  Their brother,
Nat, was a capital little fellow--as merry as a cricket and never out of
temper, even when his face and hands were bitten all over by mosquitoes,
or when the pugnacious insects were buzzing round us in thousands, and
that is a trial to the sweetest of tempers.  We used to have music and
reading in the evenings, and very pleasant evenings they were--indeed,
we lived much as we should have done in the old country.  Altogether, I
congratulated myself that I had decided on stopping out.

My brother was, however, somewhat anxious about the state of business.
"You see, Ned, there is not, I fear, much to be done at present," he
said.  "I have, therefore, thought of making the trip I spoke to you
about.  A number of vessels sail from Sydney and other places to collect
cargoes of palm-oil and sandal-wood, and some few go in search of
pearls.  They do not all trade honestly with the natives, and several
have suffered in consequence, their crews having been attacked and
murdered; but I hope, by trading honestly and by being always on my
guard against surprise, to make a profitable venture.  I have an
especial reason for wishing to sail at once, as the day before your
arrival I received information from an old shipmate of mine, Tom Platt,
of the existence of a small group of islands, among which pearls of
large size are obtained by the natives in unusual abundance.  Tom, who
has been out in these seas for some years on board whalers and other
craft, sailed a few months ago in a small schooner, the _Zebra_, from
Sydney.  Both master and crew were rough, lawless fellows, and Tom told
me that he often wished himself clear of them, but they touched at no
place where he could venture to land till they reached the islands I
speak of.  Here the master, for his own purposes, at first behaved
better to the natives than he was accustomed to do, as he wanted to
obtain some pigs, cocoanuts, and other provisions.  They consequently,
without hesitation, came on board in considerable numbers.  Many of them
were observed to wear necklaces of white beads, which the captain
supposed to be made of glass, and to have been obtained from some
previous trader.  On examining, however, one of the strings of beads,
what was his surprise to find that they were pearls!  Being a cunning
fellow, he kept his discovery to himself till he had obtained all he
could induce the natives to part with, when, though he fancied that he
had made his fortune, he formed the design of kidnapping as many people
as his schooner would hold, as an effectual way of preventing other
traders from having any friendly intercourse with the islanders and
discovering his secret, and thereby spoiling his market.  Tom Platt was
the only person among the crew who suspected what the white beads really
were, and he managed, unknown to the captain, to obtain a necklace,
which he hid in his pocket.  The very evening before the natives were to
have been seized a heavy gale sprang up, and the schooner was driven out
to sea.  Before many days had gone by she was cast away on an
uninhabited island, when all hands, with the exception of Tom Platt,
were lost.  He supported existence on shell-fish and a few birds he
knocked down, while a small cask of water washed ashore saved him from
dying of thirst.  Just as it was exhausted, he was taken off by a vessel
bound for this place.  I met him, looking very ill and wretched,
wandering about the street the very day he landed.  We recognised each
other, and I took him to my house, where he became so much worse that,
had it not been for the careful way he was nursed, I believe he would
have died.  He seemed to think so himself, and was very grateful.  While
I was sitting with him one day, having a yarn of old times, he gave me
an account of the pearl islands, and assured me that he could find them
again, having carefully noted the distance the schooner had run to the
reef on which she was wrecked, as also its position on the chart.  He
then showed me the necklace, of which he had not spoken to any one.  His
narrative first put our proposed venture into my head.  When I told him
of my idea he at once agreed to accompanying me, saying that he should
be content with any wages I could afford to give him.  Though a
first-rate seaman, he cannot be much of a navigator, so that had you,
Ned, not come out I should have been obliged to get another mate; and
now that you have come, we will forthwith commence our preparations."

"The first thing to be done is to find a suitable craft," I said.

"I have had my eye on one--a schooner, the _Dainty_, of a hundred and
twenty tons, built for a fruit-trader, which was brought out here from
England by a settler only a month ago," he answered.

"Then let us go at once and have a look at her, and, if she is in good
condition, secure her," I exclaimed; for, after the account Harry had
given me, I had become very eager to undertake the expedition.

We started forthwith.  The _Dainty_ was even more suited for our object
than we had expected.  She had well fitted up cabins, like those of a
yacht, with a hold large enough for all the cargo and stores we might
wish to stow--was well-found and in capital condition; so Harry at once
made an offer for her, which being accepted, the _Dainty_ became his.

In the evening Harry said what he had done.

"You do not intend to leave me behind, I hope," exclaimed Mary.

"Or me either," cried Miss Fanny Amiel.  "What should we poor girls do
all alone by ourselves in this little bakehouse?"

"You must let me go as cabin-boy," said Nat.  "I'll make myself
tremendously useful."

"I'll talk it over with Mary," answered Harry, who looked not at all ill
pleased at the thoughts of having his wife to accompany him of her own
free will.  The result of the talk was that the next morning it was
settled that we were all to go, the house and business being left in
charge of a trustworthy old clerk, Mr Simon Humby, who had accompanied
Harry when he came out the first time from England.  We were very busy
for the next few days in making preparations for the voyage--the ladies
in the house assisted by Nat, and Harry, and I in refitting the
schooner--purchasing provisions, stores, and articles for bartering with
the natives.  We procured also four small brass guns, with some muskets,
pistols, boarding-pikes, and cutlasses.

"We shall not, I hope, have to use them," said Harry.  "But, now
especially that we are to have ladies on board, we must be well prepared
for defence should we be attacked."

It was easy enough to prepare the vessel for sea, but Harry expected to
find some difficulty in securing an efficient crew.  He of course at
once applied to Tom Platt.

"I'll see about that, sir," he answered.  "You mustn't be too particular
as to what sort of chaps they may be, provided they are good seamen--for
as to their characters, I'm not likely to be able to say much."

"Pick up the best you can find," said Harry.  "They'll probably behave
well enough, if kept under strict discipline."

Tom was as good as his word.  In the course of a few days he had engaged
ten hands--a strong crew for a vessel of the _Dainty's_ size--six
Englishmen, a New Zealander, a Sandwich Islander, and two blacks,
natives of Tanna, an island of the New Hebrides Group.  Tom confessed
that he had more confidence in the probable good conduct of the Pacific
islanders than he had in that of the white men, who, however, when they
came on board, looked more decent fellows than I had expected.

Just as the schooner was ready for sea, Harry and I were one evening
leaving the quay, when I saw a lad in ragged clothes, who, on catching
sight of me, tried to hide himself behind a stack of planks lately
landed.  In spite of his forlorn and dirty condition, I recognised him
as the young stowaway who had come out with me on board the _Eclipse_.

"Hillo, Dick Tilston, can that be you?"  I exclaimed.  "Come here.  What
have you been about?"

On being called, he approached, looking very sheepish.

"Now, don't be scolding at me," he said, taking my hand, which I held
out to him.  "You know how I was treated aboard the _Eclipse_.  I
couldn't stand it any longer, so when she was about to sail I slipped
ashore, and hid away till she had gone.  I've since been knocking about,
unable to get any work, for no one will engage me without a character,
as they guess that I'm a runaway, and take me for a young thief.  I've
sold my clothes and everything I had for food, and have got only these
rags to cover me."

I knew that what Dick said was true.  I asked him if he still wished to
be a sailor, or would rather go up the country and seek for employment,
which I was sure he would be able to obtain with my brother's
recommendation.

"I would rather be a sailor than anything else, if I could serve under a
good captain," he answered.

"Well, then, stop a moment, and I'll speak to my brother," I said; and I
ran after Harry.  I told him in a few words about Dick.

"Well, he may come with us," he said.  "But he must try to make himself
useful, and not fancy that he is a young gentleman to do what he likes."

I ran back to Dick.  The poor fellow was delighted, and burst into
tears.  "I own, Ned, I've had nothing to eat all day in this land of
plenty, for I could not bring myself to beg, and nobody offered me
anything," he exclaimed, scarcely able for shame to get out his words.

I fortunately had a shilling in my pocket.  "Here, Dick, go and get
something to eat," I said, giving it to him.  I thought that he would
rather have some food first, before he came to talk with Harry.  "Then
come up to my brother's house--you can easily find it--and I will speak
to him in the meantime."  Dick promised to come.

While we walked home I told my brother more about Dick.

"It is very clear that the first thing we must do for him is to give him
an outfit, or he'll not be presentable on board, and then I hope, from
gratitude, that he will behave well," he observed.

On our way we stopped at an outfitter's, and Harry gave an order to the
storekeeper to supply whatever I might select for Dick.  As we walked
on, he told me what things he wished me to get.

Soon after we reached home Dick presented himself at the door, looking
somewhat brighter than he did when I first saw him, but rather ashamed
of himself and unwilling to come in.  Harry, however, came and had a few
words with him, and seemed satisfied that he might be made useful on
board the schooner.

As we had no place to put him up in the house, he told me to get a
lodging for him for the night, and to see that he had plenty of food.
"I say, Ned," he added, "just give him a hint to take a bath and get his
hair cut before he puts on his clean clothes."

Accordingly, telling Dick to come with me, I took him to the
outfitter's.  We soon got the necessary clothing for him, and then left
him at a lodging with a person who knew my brother.

That evening was to be the last on shore for many a long day.  Mary and
her sister were in high spirits at the thoughts of their trip, for which
they had got everything ready.

The next morning Dick presented himself so changed for the better in
appearance, that Harry scarcely knew him.  He looked a fine, intelligent
sailor lad, and at once began to make himself useful in carrying down
our things to the boat: most of our heavier luggage had been sent on
board the previous evening.  Mr Humby came off in a shore boat.

While our own boat was being hoisted in, my brother gave his last
directions.

"I'll do my best, Mr Harry, and I pray that you may have a successful
voyage, and when you return find all things going on well," he said, as
he shook hands with us all.

The anchor was then hove up, and sail being made, we stood out of the
harbour, while Mr Humby returned on shore, waving his last adieus.

The first part of our voyage was uneventful.  We had fine weather, a
fair wind, and a smooth sea, and the ladies soon got accustomed to their
life on board, declaring that it was even more pleasant than they had
expected, though they should like occasionally to get sight of some of
the beautiful islands of the Pacific, of which they had so often heard.

We left New Caledonia and the Loyalty Islands on our port side, then
steered to the north between the New Hebrides and the Fiji Islands, at
neither of which my brother wished to touch.

Day after day we sailed on without sighting land, and at last Emily
exclaimed, "What has become of the islands we have heard so much about?
I thought we should not pass a day without seeing several of them.  They
appear on the chart to be very close together, like the constellations
in the sky."

"But if you will measure off on the chart the distances they are apart,
you will easily understand how it is we have sailed so far without
seeing them," said Harry.

The very next day, as Fanny was looking over the starboard side, Harry
pointed out to her several blue hillocks rising out of the ocean, which
he told her were the northern islands of Fiji, the habitation of a
dark-skinned race, once the most notorious cannibals in the Pacific.

"I am very glad to keep away from them, then," answered Fanny, "for I
shouldn't at all like to run the risk of being captured and eaten."

"Not much chance of that," said Harry.  "The larger number of them have
given up their bad habits, and promise to become as civilised as any of
the people in these seas."

"Still, I would rather not go near their shores," said Fanny.

She little thought at the time that there were many other islands in
every direction, the inhabitants of which were quite as savage as those
of Fiji had been.

From the first, Tom Platt had taken a fancy to Dick, who had hitherto
behaved himself remarkably well.

"We'll make a seaman of the lad, if he only sticks to it," he said to
me.  "The rope's-endings, as he tells me he used to get aboard the
_Eclipse_, did him a world of good, though he didn't think so."

I always treated Dick in a friendly way, though he was before the mast,
and I was glad to find that he did not presume on this, but willingly
did whatever he was ordered.  Tom had had a hammock slung for Dick near
his berth away from the men, whose conversation, he said, was not likely
to do him any good.

Our life on board was very regular; Tom and I kept watch and watch, the
crew being divided between us, while Harry, as captain, was on deck at
all hours whenever he thought it necessary.



CHAPTER TWO.

The calm which I described at the commencement of my narrative had
continued for many hours, and when the sun sank beneath the horizon
there was not the slightest sign of a coming breeze.  It was my first
watch, and before Harry went below he charged me to keep a careful
look-out, and to call him should there be any sign of a change of
weather.  The schooner still floated motionless on the water; scarcely a
sound was heard, except the cheeping of the main boom, and the low
voices of the men forward, as they passed the watch spinning their
oft-told yarns to each other.

I slowly paced the deck, enjoying the comparative coolness of the night,
after the intense heat of the day.  The stars in the southern hemisphere
were shining brilliantly overhead, reflected in the mirror-like ocean.
The watch at length were silent, and had apparently dropped off to
sleep, though I could see the figure of the man on the look-out as he
paced up and down or leaned over the bulwarks.  Suddenly, the stillness
was broken by a dull splash.  I started; it seemed to me as if some one
had fallen overboard, but it was only one of the monsters of the deep
poking its snout for an instant above the surface, and when I looked
over the side it had disappeared.  Occasionally I heard similar sounds
at various distances.  I had some difficulty in keeping myself awake,
though by continuing my walk I was able to do so; but I was not sorry
when the old mate turned out, without being called, to relieve me.

"We have not got a breeze yet," I observed as he came on deck.

"No, Master Ned, and we shan't get one during my watch either; and maybe
not when the sun is up again," he answered.

Tom was right.  When I came on deck the next morning the sea was as calm
as before.  Though it appeared impossible that we could have moved our
position, I was greatly surprised, on looking away to the westward, to
see what I at first took to be the masts of a vessel rising above the
horizon.  I pointed them out to my brother who had just come on deck.
He told me to go aloft with a telescope and examine them more minutely.
I then discovered that they were trees growing on a small island,
apparently cocoanuts, or palms of some sort.  Beyond, to the south and
west, were several islands of greater elevation, some blue and
indistinct, but others appeared to be covered with trees like the nearer
one, while between us and them extended from north to south a line of
white surf distinctly marked on the blue ocean.  On reporting to Harry
what I had seen, he said that the surf showed the existence of a barrier
reef surrounding the islands.  "We may find a passage through it, but
sometimes these reefs extend for miles without an opening through them.
A strong current must be setting from the eastward towards it, or we
should not have been drawn so far during the night, for certainly there
was no appearance of an island in that direction at sundown."

We soon had convincing proof that Harry was right in his conjecture.
There could be no doubt that a current was setting us towards the land,
for the trees gradually rose higher and higher above the water, and at
length we could see them from the deck, while the white line of surf
breaking on the reef became more and more distinct.  At the same time a
slowly moving, at first scarcely perceptible swell, which Fanny called
the breathing of the ocean, passed ever and anon under the vessel,
lifting her so gently that the sails remained as motionless as before.
It was difficult indeed to discover that there was any movement in the
mirror-like surface of the deep, and yet we could feel the deck rise and
fall under our feet.  The awning was rigged, and Mary and Fanny were
seated in their easy-chairs under it, Mary reading aloud while her
sister worked.  Nat, who had placed himself near them, cross-legged on a
grating, to listen, with a marline-spike and a piece of rope, was
practising the art of splicing, in which he had made fair progress.  "I
say, Ned, I wish you would show me how to work a Turk's head," he
exclaimed.

I went to him and did as he asked me.  This made Mary stop reading; and
Fanny, looking out towards the island, remarked, "How near we are
getting.  I am so glad, for I want to see a real coral island, and that
of course is one.  I suppose we shall anchor when we get close to it,
and be able to go on shore."  Harry, who overheard her, made no reply,
but looked unusually grave, and told me to bring the chart from below.
Spreading it out on the companion-hatch, we again, for the third or
fourth time, gave a careful look at it.

"I cannot understand the set of this current," he said.  "It probably
sweeps round the island.  But we are being carried much closer than I
like to be in so perfect a calm.  If we get a breeze it will be all
right, but--"

Just then the sails gave several loud flaps, as if some one had shaken
them out, and the schooner rolled now to one side, now to the other.
Her head had moved so as to bring the swell abeam.  Once having begun,
she went on making the same unpleasant movements.  It was evident that
the swell had increased.

"Is there no way to stop her from doing that?" asked Mary.

"Not till the wind fills her sails," answered Harry.  "I hope, however,
that we shall get a breeze before long."

Harry did not say this in a very cheerful tone.  He soon afterwards
beckoned Tom Platt to him, and I saw them talking earnestly together for
some minutes.  I joined them.  They were discussing the probable set of
the current, which was at present sweeping us at the rate of at least
three knots an hour towards the reef.

"We might keep her off it, at all events, until a breeze springs up,"
remarked Tom.

"We'll have the boats out, then, and do our best," said my brother, and
he gave the order "Out boats."

We carried two boats on the davits, but as they were too light to be of
much service, we hoisted out the long-boat, which was stowed amidships.
We also lowered one of the gigs.  The two boats were at once made fast
to the tow-line.  The men gave way, and the schooner's head was kept off
from the threatening reef, against which the sea was breaking with
tremendous force.  The men bent to their oars, for they knew the danger
as well as we did.

We all watched the reef with anxious eyes.  Should the vessel be driven
against it, we should, in a few seconds, we well knew, be dashed to
pieces; and, though we might escape in the boats before that catastrophe
occurred, we should be left to make a long voyage before we could reach
any civilised people.  All around us were islands, most of them, we had
reason to fear, inhabited by treacherous and blood-thirsty savages.

We, of course, did not express our anxiety to the ladies, who, however,
I thought, began to suspect that the vessel was in danger, although they
said nothing.  The men had been pulling fully an hour against the
current, and yet, as I looked at the reef, I could not help
acknowledging to myself that the vessel was nearer than at first.  The
swell, at the same time, began to increase, and we could now hear the
roar of the breakers as they dashed against the wall of coral which
interrupted their progress.

"We'll send the other boat ahead, Platt," said my brother.

"Ay, ay, sir," answered Tom; and he and I with the two remaining men
lowered her, and, jumping in, joined our shipmates in towing, leaving
only my brother with Dick and Nat to take charge of the vessel.  He now
ordered us to pull across the current, in the hopes of thus in time
getting out of it.  We all pulled away with a will, making the schooner
move faster through the water than she had done for many hours.

"We must manage it somehow," shouted Tom to the other boats.  "Give way,
lads--give way.  We shall soon be clear of the current."

It was of little use urging the men, as they were already straining
every nerve.  My brother walked the deck, stopping every now and then,
casting his eyes frequently around the horizon in the hopes of
discovering signs of a coming breeze.  Then he would look towards the
reef, but there was nothing encouraging to be seen in that direction.
Still Tom shouted every now and then, "Pull away, lads--pull away!"

"We are pulling, mate, as hard as we can," answered the men from the
other boats.

If we had any doubts of it before it was now clear enough that an
unusually strong current was setting us towards the reef, even faster
than we could pull away from it.  Whenever the men showed any signs of
relaxing their efforts Harry came to the bows and cheered them on,
leaving Dick to steer.  It was somewhat trying work for all of us, for
the hot sun was beating down on our heads, the perspiration streaming
from every pore; but our lives depended upon our exertions, and pull we
must to the last moment.  I heard some of the men talking of going
alongside the schooner and asking the captain for a glass of grog
apiece.

"Don't be thinking of that, lads," cried Tom.  "It would be so much
precious time lost.  We can pull well enough if we have the will.  The
grog would not give you any real strength, and you'd be as thirsty as
before a few minutes afterwards.  Can't one of you strike up a tune, and
see if that don't help us along."

There was no response to this appeal, so Tom himself at once began
shouting a no very melodious ditty.  First one man joined in, then
another and another, until the whole of the boats' crews were singing at
the top of their voices.  It appeared to me that the vessel was moving
somewhat faster than before through the water, but looking towards the
wall of foam that seemed no further off.  Still we knew that our efforts
were of use, as we thus considerably delayed the destruction which
awaited our vessel should she once get within the power of the breakers.
Hour after hour passed by.  The swell had increased, and, combined with
the current, made our task still more difficult, but Harry had too much
at stake to let any consideration for our fatigue induce him to allow us
to rest for a moment.  "Pull on, lads, pull on," he shouted.  "We shall
have the breeze before long, and we'll not let the schooner be cast
away."

The roar of the breakers sounded in our ears between each dip of the
oars.  I looked round, but no sign of a breeze could I discover.  My
heart sank within me as I thought of how Harry must be _feeling_ with
the dear ones under his charge in so great a peril.  As I again looked
towards the reef it seemed that, since we could not tow the vessel off,
no power could save her.  I knew that the depth of water close up to
these coral reefs is generally so great that there would not be a
possibility of anchoring, nor did I see any opening through which we
could pass and get into smooth water.

At last Harry shouted out, "Mr Platt, in the second gig, come alongside
and help trim sails."  We at once obeyed him.

"What do you think we shall get out of that, Platt," he asked, pointing
to a small cloud which was seen rising above the horizon.

"A stiffish breeze, to my mind, and I hope we shall get it before long,"
answered Tom.

We at once trimmed sails, and while we were so employed I saw several
cats'-paws playing over the surface.  The sails filled.

"Let the boats come alongside, and we'll hoist them in before the breeze
catches us," cried Harry.  "We shall do now, without their help, I
hope."

This was speedily done, but scarcely had we secured the larger boat, the
first gig having already been hoisted on board, than the wind filling
our canvas, the vessel heeled over almost to her gunwale.  But the
danger was not past, we had still that fearful wall of surf under our
lee.  It would be no easy matter to beat off it.

The awning had been quickly unrigged, and the schooner, with as much
canvas as she could bear, was tearing through the fast rising seas.  We
stood on, still nearing the reef.  Old Tom went to the helm.  The wind
increasing, the vessel heeled over before it, but it would not do to
shorten sail.  The men were at their stations.

"We'll go about, Platt, and see if she'll do better on the other tack,"
said Harry.  "Helm's a lee!"  About she came, but scarcely had she
gathered way when a more furious blast than before laid her over.  I
looked aloft--the top masts were bending like willow wands.  I feared
every instant that they would go, but it was not a moment to shorten
sail.  Presently the wind headed us, and we had once more to go about.
We now stood on almost parallel with the reef, Tom watching for every
slight variation of the wind to edge the schooner off it.  All this
time, though the current no longer carried us towards the reef, the
heavy swell rolling in threatened to set us on it.  Night was
approaching.  It would add greatly to the danger of our position.  The
ladies had hitherto remained on deck, fully aware of our peril, but
showing no signs of fear.  Harry, who from the moment the gale sprang up
had stood holding on to the weather backstay, now watching the canvas,
now the fast rising seas, urged them and Nat to go below.

"I will summon you, if necessary," he said, in a calm tone.  "But we
will hope for the best.  Remain in the cabin, and keep your cloaks and
hats ready to put on."

They went without remonstrance.  I helped them down the
companion-ladder.

"Is there much danger, do you think, Ned?" asked Mary.  "Harry seems
unusually grave."

"We must, as he says, hope for the best," I answered, though I myself
knew that the danger was imminent.  Should a spar go or the gale
increase, there would be but scant time, before the schooner would be
among the breakers, to get into the boats; and even should we escape in
them, would they live in that stormy sea?  I saw Mary and Fanny kneel
down at the sofa as I left the cabin, and Mary drawing Nat to her side.

"Their prayers will help us," I thought, as I sprang on deck.

The wind was increasing, the foam-topped seas rolled in quick succession
towards us, the sky to windward looked threatening in the extreme; that
terrible wall of foam loomed higher through the gloom of night.  Still,
as long as the schooner's head could be kept turned away from the reef,
we might hope to claw off from it.  The chart had shown us that a reef
existed, but its form was indistinctly marked.  Hitherto we had found it
running in a direct line, north and south, but it might suddenly trend
to the east, and if so, without a moment's warning, we might be upon it.
Harry, knowing this, had stationed two of the men with the sharpest
sight forward, to look out for breakers ahead, that should they be seen,
we might go about and have a chance of escaping them; but, owing to the
heavy sea rolling in, there was a great risk of the schooner missing
stays, and should she do so, our fate would be sealed: there, would be
no time to get the boats out before she would be among the breakers.
Harry now told me to go forward to assist the other men on the look-out.

"We'll not go about, if we can help it," he said.  "The water is deep
close up to the reef, and a miss is as good as a mile."

Not a word was spoken; the crew were at their stations ready to execute
the orders they might receive.  The increased roar of the ceaseless
breakers showed me that we were nearer than hitherto, though the vessel
was tearing along through the seas at her fastest speed, taking the
water over the bows in dense showers which often prevented me from
seeing ahead.

"Shall we never get to the end of this terrible reef?"  I said to
myself.  Just then I saw close on the starboard bow the snowy wall of
surf.  "Luff!  Luff all you can!"  I shouted out, my cry being echoed by
the men.  The next moment we appeared to be in the very midst of the
seething waters, which fell foaming down on our deck.  I gave up all for
lost, but again the schooner dashed on and we were free.  The reef was
yet, however, on our starboard side, but as I peered through the
darkness I observed a gap in the wall of foam.  I ran aft to Harry.  He
had seen it.

"We must venture through," he said.  "Square away the fore-yard.  Ease
off the main-sheet; up with the helm."

His orders were obeyed, while he hurried aft to direct Tom how to steer.
The hissing breakers rose on either hand not twenty fathoms from the
vessel; the seas roared up astern; now a huge billow lifted us, and then
down we glided into comparatively smooth water.

"Stand by to shorten sail!" shouted Harry.  "Port the helm!"

"Port it is," cried Tom.

The headsails were handed, the schooner was rounded to, the anchor let
go, and she rode in safety inside the reef.  Harry, with a light heart,
sprang below to assure his wife and her sister that the danger was past.
We could but dimly make out the low shore on the other side of the
lagoon; but what was the character of the island, or whether or not it
was inhabited, we could not tell.  The wind was still blowing with great
force, the breakers dashing with terrific roars against the reef outside
of us, so that at any moment we might be driven from our anchor.  We
both of us therefore intended to stay on deck during the remainder of
the night, to be ready should any accident occur.  We, however, went
down to supper, for which we were very ready, as we had eaten nothing
since the commencement of the gale.  Very pleasant the cabin looked
after the gloomy deck, with Mary and Fanny seated at the table, and the
swinging lamp shedding a bright light around.  It was difficult to
believe that not many minutes before there was a fearful prospect of our
vessel being dashed to pieces on the rocks.  We could, however, remain
below but a very short time, and had again to hurry on deck.

"I'm afraid she's dragging her anchor, sir," said Tom, who was getting a
lead line ready to ascertain whether this was the case.

The lead was dropped to the bottom, the line ran out slowly, showing
that his surmise was correct.  More cable was paid out in the hope of
bringing her up.  We looked anxiously astern, fearing that she might
strike on some mass of coral between us and the shore.  At length, to
our great relief, the line hung up and down, showing that the anchor was
holding.  The night passed slowly on.  Seldom have I more anxiously
wished for the return of day.



CHAPTER THREE.

Daylight showed us that the reef, through an opening in which we had
passed, was many miles in circumference, and that it surrounded several
islands of various sizes and heights, with cocoanut, pandanus, and a few
other trees and shrubs growing on them.  They were not, as we had at
first supposed, lagoon islands.  Harry said that he believed them to be
the summits of the hills of a submerged island, of which the reef marked
the outer edge.  We inspected the nearest through our glasses, but could
not discover any signs of inhabitants, not a hut, not a canoe on the
beach, not a wreath of smoke ascending beyond the trees.  In the
distance, as if floating on the calm surface of the water, appeared,
blue and indistinct, the other islands of the group, one of the most
northern of which we had seen on the previous day.  The gale had ceased,
though the breakers still dashed furiously on the outer side of the
reef, but scarcely a ripple disturbed the placid expanse of the lagoon.

"Oh, how beautiful!" exclaimed Fanny, as she and Mary came on deck.  "I
should so like to take a stroll through that shady grove on the soft
turf which carpets the ground."

"Do let us go, Harry," said Mary; "you are not obliged to sail
immediately."

Nat also begged that he might go.

"While the swell rolls in through the passage with this light breeze we
cannot safely attempt to get out, and so, as you wish it, we will pay a
visit to the nearest island," answered Harry.  "But I warn you that you
may be disappointed."

As soon as we had breakfasted the two gigs were lowered.  Harry took the
two ladies in one, and I had charge of the other, having with me Nat and
Dick Tilston.  Just as we were about to shove off I asked Tom to hand me
down Harry's fowling-piece, on the chance of getting a shot at some
birds.

"May as well have a musket, too," he said, giving me one with some
ammunition.  "There may be no people ashore, or if there are they may be
friendly, but it's as well to be prepared for t'other in these parts."

Tom seldom indulged in so long a speech.  It showed that he was somewhat
anxious about our going on shore on an unknown island.  We gave way,
eager to step on shore, my boat soon catching up Harry's.  As we
approached the beach we found that the surf washing over the outer reef
set upon it in a way which would have made landing there disagreeable,
so we pulled a short distance round to the lee side, where we discovered
a little bay, or indentation in the coral rock, large enough to admit
both the boats, I getting in first was in readiness to hand Mary and
Fanny on shore.

"Why, what has become of the soft green turf we saw?" exclaimed Fanny,
looking along under the trees.

"Perhaps we shall find it further on," remarked Mary.

"I am afraid not," said Harry; "but we will go on through the shady
groves and try to reach it."

It was no easy matter to do this, for although there was grass, it grew
in wiry patches out of the coral rock, in some places so thickly that we
were compelled to wind in and out among them to make any progress.  No
flowers nor fruits were to be seen, except some cocoanuts high up above
our heads, while the sun came down between the scanty foliage with no
less force than on the water.  Still our curiosity tempted us to
proceed, but everywhere was the same wiry grass which we had taken at a
distance for soft turf.  At length we came to an open space, raised but
slightly above the level of the sea.  It was tenanted by innumerable
aquatic birds--gannets, sooty terns, beautiful tropic and frigate birds,
the nests of the latter constructed of rough sticks covering the boughs
of the surrounding trees.  While the gannets, whose eggs had been
deposited on the ground without nests refused to move as we approached--
only exhibiting their alarm or displeasure by loud croaks, and allowing
us to catch hold of them without resistance--the frigate birds, more
wary, rose from their perches, inflating their blood-red pouches to the
size of large cocoanuts, as they ascended high up in the air above our
heads, or flew off to sea; others circled round us screeching wildly and
flapping their wings.  The discordant noise, the heat, the disagreeable
smell, and the roughness of the ground, made the ladies unwilling to
proceed further, and they proposed returning slowly to the boats; but
Dick, Nat, and I, with Jack Lizard, one of the men, pushed forward in
spite of all obstacles, as I was anxious to explore more of the island.

"Do not be long away," shouted Harry; "we may have a breeze shortly, and
must get aboard."

"Ay, ay!"  I answered, as we hurried on, expecting to be able to get to
the other side of the island and to turn back and overtake them before
they reached the boats.  The ground rose slightly as we advanced,
showing that the island had been upheaved, since first formed by its
minute architects, owing to some volcanic convulsion far down in the
depths of the ocean.  Masses of coral worn by time lay scattered about,
amid which grew shrubs and tangled creepers, with here and there a few
taller trees; but as the shrubs were not of a thorny species we pushed
through them or leaped over them, Dick and Nat coming down on their
noses more than once in our progress.  Seeing a knoll, or rather a mass
of coral, thrown up higher than the rest ahead I made for it, hoping to
get from thence a more extensive view than we could from where we were.
We soon climbed to the summit, which was high enough to enable us to
look over the surrounding trees.

"Hillo, what are those dots out there?" exclaimed Nat, pointing towards
the eastern end of the nearest island, which we had seen from the
schooner.

"Dots, do you call them, young gentleman?" said Lizard; "to my mind they
are canoes, well-nigh a score of them; and they are making way over the
water at a pretty fast rate, too, towards us."  I had not brought a
telescope, but shading my eyes with my hands the better to examine the
objects I was satisfied that Lizard was right, and that they were
canoes.  At first I did not suppose that they, or rather the people in
them, had any hostile intentions; but suddenly the idea occurred to me
that they had discovered the schooner, and were coming with the design
of cutting her off.  Should such be the case, it was important to warn
my brother without delay, that we might return on board and prepare for
the defence of the vessel.

"More nor likely, Mr Ned," answered Lizard when I asked him his
opinion.  "As the mate was a saying afore we came away, you can never
trust those black fellows."

"Come on, boys, then," I cried.  "We must make good use of our legs, or
the canoes will be up to us before we can reach the boats."

We set off, keeping close together that we might help each other in case
of any of us being hurt by falling.  First Dick came down, and then Nat
had two tumbles, both scratching their hands and knees; but, the moment
they were on their feet, on they came again.  I got an ugly fall, which
would have been much worse if Lizard had not caught me, and, as it was,
I cut one of my knees and hands on the sharp coral.  At length we had to
stop and take breath, for, having not only to run, but often to leap
from rock to rock, it was very exhausting work.

"Are we going the right way?" asked Nat, looking round.

It was well he asked the question, for, on climbing a short way up a
tree, I discovered that we had been keeping too much to the right, and
should have arrived at the east instead of at the south side of the
island, where we had landed.  Correcting our mistake, we again went on,
and I was very thankful when we came to the level part inhabited by the
colony of birds.  We dashed through them, crushing many an egg, as well
as several hapless young ones, regardless of the screechings of the old
birds and the furious pecks they gave at our legs.  I looked out ahead,
but could see nothing of Harry and the ladies.  We shouted, thinking
that they might not be far off; but, receiving no answer, I hoped that
they had already embarked.

At last I caught sight of Harry, with Mary and Fanny seated near him,
both with their sketch-books before them.  At that moment a gun was
fired from the schooner.

"Why, what's the matter?" exclaimed Harry.

Scarcely had he asked the question than another gun was fired.

"Old Tom thinks there's danger somewhere, and wants us aboard again."

I was unwilling to alarm Mary and Fanny, so, instead of shouting out, I
waited till I could get up to my brother, when I told him quietly what
we had seen.

"The sooner we are aboard the better, for the canoes appear to be coming
on at a great rate," I added.

"No doubt about it," he answered; and, telling the ladies to shut up
their books, he hurried with them towards the boats, bidding Lizard and
Dick to run on ahead and order the men to be in readiness to shove off.
We were not long in reaching the boats, and we prepared to return in the
order we had left the schooner, I having Dick and Nat with me.  Harry's
boat got off first, and his crew gave way with a will; mine followed at
some little distance.  Just as we opened the eastern point of the island
I got sight of the fleet of canoes coming round it, and steering
directly for the schooner.  Old Tom saw us coming, yet he fired again,
probably in the hopes of scaring the natives and preventing them from
attacking us; but this did not appear to have any effect on them,
perhaps because they were ignorant of the power of firearms.  Fast as we
were pulling they came along faster, and it seemed doubtful if we should
reach the schooner before they were up to us.  As yet they were some way
to the eastward, so that the course on which they were approaching the
schooner formed an angle of about thirty degrees with that on which we
were steering; thus, a shot fired from her, might hit them without the
risk of injuring us.  We had come away with only three hands in the boat
besides Dick.  I made him take the stroke-oar, that I might assist him,
while I placed Nat at the helm.  I now told Nat to edge up slightly to
the eastward, so that we might keep between Harry's boat and the
savages.  Though we bent to our oars, the canoes were gaining on us.  It
was just possible that their intentions were friendly, but it would be
folly to trust to them.  How I wished for a breeze, that the schooner
might get under weigh and come to our assistance!  There was, however,
not a breath of wind to fill her sails, so that we must, I saw, depend
on our own exertions.  Old Tom did not again fire, probably because he
considered that, unless he could hit one of the canoes, the savages
would fancy that the shot would do them no harm.  The canoes were now so
near that I could distinguish their character.  Though small compared
with those of Fiji and Tonga, the leading ones were double, with a
platform in the centre, on which stood a number of men gesticulating
violently, and flourishing spears and clubs, while others sat on either
side working broad-bladed paddles almost upright at a rapid rate.  I
could have picked off some of the warriors, but was unwilling to
commence hostilities.  I looked round, and was thankful to see that
Harry's boat was getting near the schooner.  In a few minutes he and his
companions would be on board.  Before then, however, my boat would be on
a line with the canoes, and a shot fired from the vessel might strike
her.  Just as this idea occurred to me there came a flash and a loud
report, and as I looked astern to see the effect produced by the shot, I
saw that the canoes were thrown into considerable confusion.  The
leading one had been struck, and the platform knocked to pieces.  The
warriors were tumbling overboard, while the other canoes, coming up,
were running into the wreck and into each other.  Whether any one had
been killed I could not see.  Dick and the rest of my crew shouted as
they saw what had happened.

"Give way, lads, give way," I cried out.  "We may get on board now and
defend the vessel, if the savages venture to attack us."

We had got almost up to the schooner, and Harry had put the ladies on
board her before the savages had recovered from their alarm, the
warriors and crew of the wreck having got on board the other canoes.
Notwithstanding the effect of Tom's shot, they seemed bent on attacking
us, and once more came paddling on.

"We must show the savages that we are not afraid of them," cried Harry,
turning his boat's head towards the canoes, and standing up with a
musket in his hand.  He had obtained two from the vessel.  I imitated
his example, and all hands raised a loud, ringing cheer, which no sooner
did the savages hear than they ceased paddling, and when we, firing our
muskets, dashed forward, they fairly turned tail, or rather backing
away, went off in all directions.  A few more musket shots fired over
their heads increased their speed.

"I told you, Mr Ned, that you'd find the small arms of use," said Tom,
when we got on board.  "They ain't accustomed to big guns, and don't
know what a round shot can do."

"It was your round shot, however, which stopped them when they were
nearly up with us; and I hope that they won't forget the lesson they
have learned to-day," I answered.  I need not say that Mary and Fanny
looked very thankful when they saw us safe on board.

We anxiously watched the savages, for we could not be certain of their
intentions.  They might rally and renew the attack, if not in the
daytime, during the night, when we should be unable to see them till
they were close upon us.  Our hope therefore was that the wind would
again spring up, and that we should be able to get to sea before
darkness set in.  In vain, however, we waited for a breeze.  The canoes
meantime had disappeared behind the nearest island; but we could not
ascertain whether they had gone on to the further-off islands or were
still in our neighbourhood.  In the latter case they might come suddenly
upon us, and it would be necessary to keep a very watchful look-out to
avoid being taken by surprise.  I volunteered to go on shore and
ascertain where they were, by making my way through the wood across the
island, till I reached some point whence I could obtain a view over the
water on the north side; but Harry would not allow me to run the risk,
for had I been discovered I should in all probability have been put to
death.  He, however, took one of the boats, and surveyed the whole of
the channel through which we should have to pass to get to sea, that,
should a breeze spring up during the night, we might get out without
fear of running on the reef.  By the time he returned on board evening
was drawing on.  He had directed Tom to fire a gun as a signal should
the canoes appear, but not one was seen before it became so dark that we
could scarcely distinguish the outline even of the nearest island.  Mary
and Fanny having recovered from their alarm, for they had naturally been
much frightened, were seated in the well-lighted cabin, with Nat, at
tea, when Harry and I joined them.  We had left old Tom and Dick in
charge of the watch on deck, consisting of Tom Tubb the New Zealander,
and Jacky Pott the Sandwich Islander, with two other men.  The guns were
loaded, the muskets arranged against the companion-hatch, and the cable
was hove short, so that we might speedily trip the anchor and make sail
should the wished-for breeze spring up.  We almost forgot, as we were
enjoying our comfortable meal in our cozy cabin, that not far off were
hordes of howling savages; that we had to find our way between coral
reefs, and might have storms and other unknown dangers to encounter.
Tea over, after singing a few airs to the accompaniment of her guitar,
Fanny took up her work, while Mary as usual began to read.  I then went
on deck.

"Any chance of a breeze soon?"  I asked.

"Not a breath of wind as yet, sir," answered old Tom; "and I don't think
we shall get it till the morning.  I only hope when it does come that we
shan't have more of it than we want.  I'd advise the ladies not to sit
up till we are out at sea, for if they do they'll get but little sleep
to-night."

I went below and told them what Tom said.  Harry agreed that he was
right; and when they retired to their cabins he and I returned on deck.
We neither of us felt inclined to turn in.  Perhaps we were as anxious
as if we had been certain that the savages would attack us.  The hours,
as they always do on such occasions, went slowly by; and at last, unable
longer to keep my eyes open, I got a cloak from below, and rolling
myself up in it lay down on deck.  How long I had slept I could not
tell, when I heard Tom exclaim--

"I see them, sir."

"You are right; so do I," answered Harry.  "Turn the hands up."

I was on my feet in an instant, and looking towards the eastern end of
the island distinctly made out a number of dark objects on the surface
of the water approaching the schooner.  The men came tumbling up on
deck.

"Silence!" cried Harry, in a low voice; "crouch down so as not to show
yourselves.  As the savages hope to surprise us, we must surprise them.
Ned, run down and tell Mary and Fanny that we may have to fire the guns,
but that they must not be alarmed, as we are sure to beat off the
savages."

I quickly executed my commission, and sprang again on deck.  The canoes
did not appear to me to have got nearer.  The savages were, perhaps,
holding a consultation.  As I was looking at them, I felt a breath of
air on my right cheek.  It was from the eastward.  Again it came
stronger.  It was the most favourable wind we could have.

"Loose the headsails--man the windlass," cried Harry.  "I shall be
thankful if we can avoid injuring more of the ignorant savages."

The anchor was quickly hove up--the headsails and then the mainsail set,
and the schooner glided on towards the passage through the reef.  As her
broadside was turned towards the canoes we could fire all our guns at
them, should it be necessary.  Almost immediately afterwards the moon
rose, showing us clearly their position, and, what was of more
consequence, enabling us with less difficulty to see our way through the
passage.  The canoes now came paddling on, the savages probably fearing
that we should escape them.

"We must not let them attack us in the channel," said Harry, and he
reluctantly gave Tom the order to fire.  Our guns were discharged in
quick succession, and the next instant we saw the canoes paddling away
in the utmost confusion; but it was too dark to ascertain what injury
had been inflicted.  We had soon to haul aft the sheets, and to devote
all our attention to the navigation of our vessel--old Tom going forward
to look out for dangers, and Harry standing aft to direct the helmsman
and conn the vessel, while the crew were at their stations; I standing
by the main-sheet with others to flatten it aft or ease it off as might
be necessary.  Now and then I took a look astern to ascertain if the
canoes were following us, but could only just make them out, showing
that the savages had had enough of it, though they might have annoyed us
greatly had they boldly attacked us while we were standing through the
passage.  In a short time the outer part of the reef was passed, and the
breeze freshening we were gliding swiftly over the moonlit sea.



CHAPTER FOUR.

When morning broke, the reef-encircled islands could be indistinctly
seen over the port-quarter rising out of the sparkling ocean.  The wind
being against us we expected to have a long beat before we could reach
our destination; but Harry resolved to persevere, hoping that we might
get a favourable breeze at last.  Things on board went on as usual.
After I had had my sleep out in the forenoon I gave Dick a lesson in
navigation, which I had done regularly every day of late since I
discovered that he was anxious to learn.

"I am most grateful to you, Mr Ned," he said.  "If I can fit myself to
be an officer I shall not be ashamed to return home, which I should have
had I gained no more knowledge than I should have done under ordinary
circumstances, as a ship's boy."

"Much depends on the way you work, and whether you keep to your good
resolutions," I observed.  "But I say, Dick, you have never told me
anything about yourself; though from the first I saw that you had had a
good education."

"To tell you the truth, my father is a merchant in London, and my mother
moves in good society," he answered, speaking rapidly.  "She was very
fond of me, and I do not think that if I had been with her I could have
run away; but I went off from school, where I was not happy, quite
forgetting how miserable it would make her when she heard that I was
missing.  The thought of that has preyed on my mind more than anything
else.  I wrote to her, however, when I reached Brisbane, and paid the
postage with the last shilling I had, so that she knows now that I am
alive, though I did not like to tell her how miserable I was.  I only
asked her and my father to forgive me, and promised to return home when
I had made my fortune, for I just then fancied if I could escape from
the ship that I should be able to do that.  I soon found when I did get
on shore that I was miserably mistaken, and if it had not been for you I
believe that I should have died.  I am sure that none of my own
brothers, of whom I have five older than I am, could have treated me
more kindly.  I have three sisters also, and when I look at Mrs Morton
and Miss Fanny they remind me of them, and I think of my folly in
leaving them all and running the chance of never seeing them again."

After Dick had made this confession I felt more than ever inclined to
befriend him.

When I told Harry, he said that he would consider what was right to be
done.  "I think it best, however, that Dick should remain in his present
position for a time," he added.  "He is learning the details of
seamanship from old Tom and the rudiments of navigation from you, and as
he does not mix much with the crew he will gain no harm from them."

We were standing on that evening close hauled to the south-east when,
just as the sun went down, dark clouds began to gather to windward.

"We'll shorten sail at once," said Harry.  "It may not come on to blow,
but it looks like it and we cannot be too cautious."  He issued the
order to Tom, and we soon had the schooner under snug canvas.  It was
fortunate that she was.  Not ten minutes afterwards, just as Harry had
gone below, a squall struck her.

"Luff!  Luff!" shouted Tom, but before Jack Lizard, who was at the helm,
could do so, over the schooner heeled, till the water rushed through the
scuppers high up her deck.  Lower and lower she went, until I thought
she was going to capsize.  Harry sprang up from below.  Tom had rushed
forward, and with the hands stationed there let fly the jib-sheets, and
was hauling down the forestay-sail--the foresail had been stowed.
Suddenly she rose, and I heard a loud crack, like the report of a musket
fired close to my ear.

"We've sprung the mainmast, I fear," exclaimed Harry, and he called the
men aft to lower the mainsail, while he and I sprang to the peak and
throat halliards to let them go.  On examining the mast we found that it
was so badly sprung that it would be impossible again to set sail on it
without the risk of carrying it away.  It seemed a wonder that it had
not gone altogether.

"We must bear up for Samoa," said Harry.  "It is very provoking, but
there is no place nearer where we can hope to obtain a fresh spar."

Accordingly the headsails were again hoisted, the fore-topsail was set,
and the helm being put up, away we ran before the wind on a course for
Upalu, the centre island of the group, in which Apia, the chief port, is
situated.  The wind increased, and we soon had to close-reef the
fore-topsail, the only sail we could carry; then down came the rain in
huge drops, or rather in sheets which wetted us as thoroughly as if we
had jumped overboard, and so deluged the deck that had it not run out at
the scuppers as the vessel rolled from side to side the water would have
been up to our ankles in a few minutes.  What with the pattering of the
rain, the howling of the wind and the dashing of the sea, we could
scarcely hear each other's voices.  Though we had no sail set on the
mainmast, and had secured it with spars lashed round the injured part,
and additional stays, I frequently, as the schooner pitched into the
fast rising seas, expected to see it carried away altogether.  Old Tom,
who seemed to have the same fear, told us to look out and stand from
under, in case it should go, but the difficulty was to know in what
direction it would fall, should it come down.

On we ran day after day, the gale apparently following us, though Harry
said that as storms were generally circular we should in time run out of
it.  Each time, however, that I turned out to keep my watch, there we
were, running on; the seas leaping and hissing and foaming around us;
the dark clouds flying overhead; the vessel rolling and pitching in the
same uncomfortable fashion as before.  Harry did his best to keep up the
spirits of his wife and Fanny, who behaved like heroines, though they
agreed that they little expected to meet with such weather in the
Pacific.

"It is as well to get it over, and we may hope to have finer for the
rest of the voyage," answered Harry, to console them.

We had other dangers to encounter, of which he did not speak.  Although
the sea we were traversing was pretty well known by this time, there
might be small islands or coral reefs improperly placed on the chart, or
not laid down at all, and at any moment during the darkness of night, or
even in the daytime, we might come upon one, when in an instant the
vessel would have been dashed to pieces, and all on board must have
perished.  We had, therefore, to keep the sharpest possible look-out,
for a moment's want of vigilance might cause our destruction.  Once I
saw the sea leaping and foaming high up above the surrounding water away
on the starboard hand.  I pointed out the spot to Tom.

"The end of a reef," he observed.  "If we'd been a little more to the
nor'ard we should likely enough have been on it, but a miss is as good
as a mile.  We may be thankful to have escaped."

He afterwards told me that we passed another reef to the northward while
I was below, how many we escaped during the night we could not tell.
Thus some of the dangers to be encountered by those navigating among
coral islands will be understood.  At length, one morning when I came on
deck to keep my watch, I saw the stars shining brightly overhead--the
wind had fallen, the sea was going down, and the schooner, with her
squaresail rigged out, was running gaily along.  At noon we took an
observation, when we found that we were less than a hundred miles from
the port of Apia, which we therefore expected to reach the next day,
unless the wind should fail us.

We were more fortunate than we expected.  Early the next morning the
land was seen over the port bow rising in a succession of ridges to a
moderate height above the sea.  We had made an excellent landfall, for
the harbour of Apia was almost directly ahead.  Before we reached it, a
large whaleboat came off and put an Englishman on board, who introduced
himself as the chief pilot of the place.  He carried us through a
somewhat intricate passage between coral rocks to a safe anchorage not
far from the shore.

We were surprised to see several tastefully-built houses among trees, a
large church, stores, and other buildings, besides a number of
whitewashed cottages, many of which, the pilot told us, were inhabited
by natives who have learned the art of building and the use of lime from
the missionaries.  Through their instrumentality also, although but a
few years ago the people inhabiting different parts of the island were
constantly fighting with each other, warfare has entirely ceased, and
all have become Christians by profession, many of them adorning the
Gospel by their lives and conversation, while others have gone forth to
carry its blessings to the still benighted heathen in the western
islands of the Pacific.

I must be brief in my account of the events which occurred during our
stay at Apia.  On going on shore we were received with great kindness by
several of the English and American residents, who invited Harry and his
wife and her sister to take up their abode at their houses, but they
preferred sleeping on board the schooner.  We were fortunate in finding
a mast from a vessel wrecked on the coast, which by cutting down
slightly could be made to replace the mainmast we had sprung.

We had been in harbour a couple of days when a fine-looking young chief
came on board, prompted by curiosity to see the vessel so unlike the
whalers which generally visit the port.  He was unpicturesquely dressed
in shirt and trousers and we should not have taken him to be a chief,
except from his handsome figure, unless he had introduced himself as
Toa, the nephew of the great chief Maleatoa.  He spoke English well, and
seemed very intelligent.  On being introduced to Mary and Fanny, he made
a bow which would have become a French courtier, and appeared
wonderfully struck by them.  He soon drew me aside and inquired who they
were.  When I told him that one was married to my brother, and the other
was her sister, he appeared suddenly lost in thought, but said nothing
at the time.  We asked him into the cabin, as we were just going to sit
down to dinner.  He behaved in all respects like a polished gentleman,
narrowly watching us, and imitating the way he saw us eat.  He told us a
great deal about his country, the progress it had made during the last
few years since the inhabitants had become Christians and wars had
ceased; the roads that had been constructed, the houses built, the
fields cultivated, and horses and cattle introduced.  He described their
astonishment on first seeing a large animal, a mule, which they supposed
to be an enormous dog, and accordingly gave it an appropriate name.  In
return for the civility we had shown him on board, he invited me to
accompany him on a sporting expedition into the interior.

"I will show you how we catch pigeons and kill wild hogs," he said.

Harry gave me leave to go, and I asked if Dick might accompany me, as I
knew he would like it.  My brother consented.  On going on shore early
the next morning we found the chief and several companions waiting for
us.  Each person carried a tame pigeon on his arm secured by a string,
as also a bamboo thirty or forty feet long with a small net at the end
of it.  Several attendants accompanied us carrying guns and ammunition.

"We shall depend upon the provisions we find in the woods for our
support," said Toa to me.  "We can easily obtain all we require."

We proceeded for about four hours amid tangled bushes, across marshes,
and up the slippery sides of hills, till we arrived at a district with
here and there open spots, but generally covered with brushwood.  The
attendants set to work to clear away a large circle by cutting down the
brushwood; we then retired to a spot which had been previously fixed on,
where a camp was formed, and some, arbours which would shelter us for
the night erected.  Some of our people had in the meantime collected
some wild bread-fruit, dug up some wild yams, and brought down some
cocoanuts, which gave us an ample repast.  Formerly the chiefs would
have indulged in drinking kava, but that custom had been abandoned.
Having satisfied our hunger we returned to our ambushes round the ring.
Each sportsman, if so he could be called, now stuck a stick with a
cross-piece on it into the ground for his pigeon, which was secured by a
string forty yards in length, to perch on.  After remaining a short time
quiet Toa gave the signal, and the birds were simultaneously thrown into
the air, when they flew up and commenced, as they had been taught,
wheeling round and round.  In a short time a number of wild pigeons
seeing them from a distance, and supposing from their movements that
they were hovering over their food, came from all directions to join
them.  I was much surprised at the dexterity with which as the wild
birds circled among the decoy pigeons the sportsmen, rapidly raising
their nets, captured them.  The moment a bird was caught the net was
again raised and another captured in the same manner.  Toa in this way
caught a dozen in as many minutes.  Dick and I tried our skill, but we
only knocked against the tame birds.  It was a long time before I
managed to catch even one; Dick was still less successful.  It seemed at
first very easy, but then it must be remembered that the rods were
upwards of thirty feet long, and that the birds flew very rapidly.
"Formerly," said Toa to us, "large parties of young men used to go out
for a month together, but we have now other occupation for our time, and
only now and then engage in the sport."

"This is a funny sort of fishing in the air," said Dick.

"I call it birding," I answered.

"Very right," observed Toa; "I will show you how we fish some day."

We caught several dozen pigeons during the morning.  The afternoon was
to be devoted to hog-shooting, at a spot a short distance off.  We were
divided into two parties--Dick and I accompanied Toa, while another
young chief, who had arrived with a number of ugly-looking dogs, led
another party.

After going some distance we arrived at a spot where the pigs had been
rooting about, and away went the curs in chase.  Before long their
shrill yelping bark told us that the herd was found, and following the
sound we discovered the chief and a companion tying the legs of a young
boar, which had been caught by running it down with some of the dogs.
The barking increased as we went on.

Presently Toa cried out, "Take care; get behind the trees all of you,"
and we saw an enormous wild boar which the dogs had been keeping at bay.

The chief advanced running from tree to tree with great rapidity, that
he might get near enough to the animal to shoot it without injuring the
dogs.  At length the boar caught sight of him and charged.  Toa fired,
and apparently missed, and the brute came rushing towards me.  I aimed
at his fore-shoulder, hoping, if I did not kill him outright, to stop
his career.  In another moment he would have been into my side, for I
had no time to reload, when, just as he was near me, I made a spring and
caught the bough of a tree, which I could not under other circumstances
have reached, and my feet struck his back as he dashed under them.  Toa
had now reloaded, but before he could fire the boar again charged; he,
however, nimbly sprang behind a tree, and the brute rushed past, giving
me an opportunity to recover my rifle.  He now caught sight of Dick, at
whom he made a dash.  Dick not attempting to fire, nimbly sprang up a
young tree.  On seeing its enemy thus escaping, the boar made a dash at
the tree, and attacked it with its tusks, biting at it with the greatest
fury, till Toa, approaching, settled it with a ball through its head.
In this way, in a short time, we killed four large hogs, each weighing
at least five hundredweight.  Thus it will be seen that the sport, if
exciting, was not wanting in danger, and I must own that I was very glad
when it was over, and we had all escaped without wounds.

We had a luxurious supper on boar's flesh and wild pigeons, and roots
and fruits of various descriptions, all of which had been collected in
the woods, showing the abundance of food to be obtained in that favoured
region.

After supper, Toa invited me to walk out with him away from the rest,
when he confided to me his deep admiration for Fanny Amiel, and inquired
whether I thought she would consent to remain at Samoa and become his
wife.  I did not answer at once, as I was unwilling to offend him, and
yet was certain that she would not consent to any such proposal.  I
replied that English ladies preferred marrying their own countrymen, and
then not until they were certain of their good qualities and had been
long acquainted.  I undertook, however, to mention the subject to my
brother, but observed that I could not venture to say anything about it
to the lady herself, who would be much pained at having to refuse him.
He seemed somewhat downcast at my reply, but soon recovered his spirits,
and we returned to the camp to prepare for sleep.

As, with the exception of wild boars, there are no savage animals in
Samoa, and the people of different tribes no longer tried to surprise
and murder each other, no sentries were placed, and every one laid down
to rest in perfect security.

Next morning we returned to Apia.  The tide was high as we went down to
the harbour, at which time, when there is a swell, the breakers burst
with considerable force over the reefs outside.  We found a number of
boys and girls swimming off, some with boards, others without them, and
others paddling in paopaos, or little canoes.  On reaching the reef,
where the waves curled up and broke into foam, the swimmers threw
themselves forward with a jump, just as the sea took them, and away they
glided in the midst of the white foam, shouting and yelling at the top
of their voices.  The chief took us off in his canoe to see the fun.
When the breaker had spent itself the swimmers were left in smooth
water, on which all turned again towards the sea, breasting the smaller
waves, and quietly sinking down again as the larger and stronger ones
passed over, or frequently dashing boldly through them.

"They will keep at that sport till the tide falls and the reef is left
bare," observed our friend Toa, as we pulled on board the schooner.
"When I was a lad I was very fond of it, and could beat most of my
companions, keeping longer at it and going out farther than any of
them."

He had brought, I should have said, a number of pigeons and some of the
wild boar's flesh as a present to Harry, and which was very acceptable
on board.  The ladies were on deck when we got alongside, and I was much
afraid that Toa might say something to Fanny which would annoy her,
before I had time to tell my brother that he might give her due warning.
The young chief, however, stood in a modest manner without advancing,
till Mary went up to him to thank him for his present.  I in the
meantime managed to tell Harry what the chief had said to me.

"I am sorry for this, but we must manage to get him on shore again as
politely as possible, and I will not tell her of his proposal before he
has gone."

Our attention, however, was just then attracted by seeing a vessel
standing in for the harbour; she approached within a mile or so, when
the wind fell.  She had a signal flying for a pilot, and the men who
brought us in went out to her.  Toa, who had an eye to business, wishing
to be on board early to see what trading could be done, said that he
should go out, and invited me to accompany him in his large canoe.  As
we got near the vessel we found three of her boats towing ahead.  On
boarding her the captain said he must get in at once, as she was leaking
terribly, and was besides short of provisions and water.  Toa, on this,
offered to bring out provisions; and the pilot told him that it was
dangerous, without a leading breeze, to attempt entering the harbour,
especially as the tide was falling.  The brig was, I found, the
_Caesar_, an American vessel, bound from California to Sydney, and had
come to Apia for the reasons the captain stated.

"If you won't take her in, I will by myself," he exclaimed.  "Where's
the difficulty?  The boats can tow her, as there isn't a breath of wind
to stop her way."

"But you cannot tell how the tide will set you, and I advise you to let
the boats tow you off," answered the pilot.

The skipper, however, was obstinate, and was, I suspect, pot-valiant.
He ordered the boats to continue pulling ahead, while he went to the
helm himself.  The pilot on this, again warning him that he was risking
the safety of the vessel, stepped into his boat and pulled for the
harbour.  Toa, however, believing that he could leave at any moment in
his canoe, remained on board, and I, of course, had to stay with him.
All apparently went well for some minutes, till, just as we were at the
entrance, the tide caught the vessel; the after-part struck heavily; she
heeled broadside on to the reef, and the next moment, with a tremendous
roar, a breaker burst over us.  All was confusion on board; shrieks and
cries arose from the passengers, the men swearing as they rolled and
slipped about.  The skipper, however, recovered in a moment his
self-possession, and swore he would shoot the first man that attempted
to leave the vessel; but as he had no gun or revolver in his hand, no
one appeared to care for the threat.  One of the crew, a New Zealander,
indeed, immediately jumped overboard, when the captain threw a
marline-spike at his head, but, sinking, he avoided it, and managed to
reach the smooth water inside the reef, where the pilot had in the
meantime anchored his boat prepared to assist those who might be able to
reach her.  Other boats were coming off from the shore, those which had
been towing, as well as the chiefs canoe, had been cut adrift directly
the vessel struck, and pulled away, or they would have been swamped in
an instant.

It will be understood that owing to the heavy breakers it was impossible
to get off from the vessel on the sea side, and that our only hope of
safety was to pass through the foaming surf on the reef, till we reached
smooth water in the inside.  The vessel, lightly built, was already
breaking up, and her bottom planks were appearing, floating up to the
surface, while the water rushed freely in and out of her.  There was
therefore no time to be lost.  Toa at once proposed to the skipper to
tie a rope to a plank, and to swim with it to the boats inside the reef,
so that the passengers and those unable to help themselves might be
passed along it, and their lives saved.  The rope was speedily got up.

"I will go with you," I said to Toa.

"Come along," he answered, and taking my hand he jumped with me into the
foaming surf.  The first great roller curled high above our heads, and
broke with a terrific roar.  As it did so we let go the plank and sank
down, keeping our eyes turned upwards to watch when it had passed.
Quickly returning to the surface, we again clutched the plank and shoved
it before us.  We had twice to perform the same operation before we
reached the smooth water.  I wanted to return, but Toa advised me to
remain, as I was not accustomed to the water as he was.  He quickly
again made his way along the rope to the deck of the vessel.  The next
moment he appeared again, holding a young lady with one arm, while he
dragged himself along the rope with the other, but he twice had to
descend to avoid the rollers.  The young lady seemed more dead than
alive when he placed her in the boat, but she quickly recovered, while
he, not in the slightest degree exhausted, dashed off again on board the
vessel, and brought another girl in the same way through the surf.  A
third time he went, and on this occasion he encountered a young man, a
gentleman apparently, who was endeavouring to make his way by himself
along the rope.  He was clutching the rope desperately, when a roller
going over him tore him away from his hold.  Toa, seeing what had
happened, dashed after him, and seizing him brought him back to the
rope.  Again Toa had to dive twice with the almost senseless stranger,
whom he at length placed, greatly exhausted, in the boat.  The young
ladies had quickly recovered, so that I was able to pay attention to the
last comer, and with the assistance of the old pilot and two other men
we brought him to.

"The sooner we get ashore with these people the better, and let them
have a change of duds," said the old pilot.  "But I do not like leaving,
while there are any people remaining on board."

"Oh, pray wait," said one of the young ladies.  "There is a poor woman
and her child and several other people, besides the captain and crew,
who, I suppose, do not require so much help."

By this time, seeing the possibility of getting alongside the ill-fated
vessel in a boat, two put off from the shore, manned by stout fellows.
The first succeeded in getting alongside and bringing away a number of
the passengers, but the next was less successful.  The brig gave a
tremendous roll, and striking the boat, capsized her in a moment, and
the whole of the people were scattered about in the raging surf.  They
were, however, all picked up in various ways by the boats, but one poor
woman had her child washed from her arms.  It was being rapidly carried
away by the receding sea, when Toa, who was on board the brig, sprang
after it and catching it in one arm, held its head above the surf while
he swam forward with the other.  Thus the little fellow was borne along
by his preserver.  Now the brave chief rose to the summit of a foaming
sea, now he sank down into the trough, again to rise with the boy still
grasped in his powerful hand.  In a short time he placed him in the arms
of his almost frantic mother.  Loud cheers burst from all the spectators
as they witnessed the gallant act, which few, indeed, would have been
able to accomplish.

Shortly after the last person had been taken from the brig she broke
into a thousand fragments, which, with her cargo, soon, for a mile or
more on either side, strewed the beach.  I felt much interested in the
stranger whom Toa had saved, and as he required to be attended to more
than any one else, I invited him at once to come on board the _Dainty_,
where I was sure Harry would be glad to receive him till he was better
able than at present to go on shore.  The ladies who had friends
preferred at once going on shore to the house of one of the English
residents.  The pilot, therefore, pulled up alongside the schooner.
Harry, on hearing the account I gave him, immediately begged the
stranger to come on board.  He signified his gratitude, but was scarcely
able to speak.

As Harry and I helped him along the deck, we called old Tom and Dick to
come and assist us; and with their help we carried him below.

I saw Dick looking at him with wondering eyes.  At last he exclaimed--

"Who are you?  Are you Charles Tilston?"

"Yes," answered the stranger, gazing at Dick's countenance; "and you are
my brother Dick, whom I have come to look for."

"Yes, I am Dick," was the answer.  "Oh, Charlie, I should never have
forgiven myself if you had lost your life, for it was I, from what you
tell me, who brought you out here."

"You will have plenty of time to talk about this by-and-by," said Harry.
"Let me advise you at once to go to bed."

Charles Tilston acknowledged the wisdom of this advice, and Harry and
old Tom assisting to get off his clothes put him into my berth, when
having swallowed some warm broth he fell fast asleep.  Dick begged that
he might be allowed to remain and watch over him, promising not to speak
again till he saw that his brother was sufficiently recovered to enter
into conversation.  As Harry thought a doctor should see our guest he
sent me on shore to procure the services of one who had a short time
before landed from a whaler.  While I was waiting for him Toa landed,
and was received with loud acclamations by all the people, the account
of his having so gallantly saved the child being the theme of
conversation.

As Harry was now only waiting for a breeze to sail, thinking that I
might not see Toa again, I bade him farewell, and thanked him for having
saved my life.

"I must come and see you to-morrow morning," he said.  "You will not
sail till then, as there will be no wind to carry you out.  And now, my
friend, I have a favour to ask, I must beg you to tell the fair Pearl of
the Ocean that her figure has ever been present before my eyes, that her
voice has rung in my ear, that my thoughts have been occupied with her,
and her alone, ever since I saw her."

"I will not fail to deliver your message," I answered.  "But I must
remind you of what my brother said, and you must not be disappointed
should she decline your offer."  I flattered myself that I had made a
very diplomatic reply, but the young chief did not look at all satisfied
as I wished him good-bye.

I returned on board with the doctor, who prescribed for Charles Tilston,
and said he had little doubt that he would soon come round.  I did not
fail to give Fanny the chiefs message.  She and Mary laughed heartily.

"I must not tamper with his affections," she said, "but I cannot
possibly encourage him, and I think that when he comes on board again it
will be better for me not to appear."

Mary and I agreed with her, and it was settled that she should remain in
the cabin when Toa paid his farewell visit.  In former years had a chief
conceived a similar fancy he would probably have attempted to carry off
the lady by force, but this was not likely to occur under present
circumstances.  Harry, however, thought it prudent to keep a strong
watch at night on deck.  It was my middle watch, and as I was looking
out across the harbour I thought I saw a fleet of canoes passing at some
distance from where we lay; still, as I felt sure that Toa would not use
any violence, this did not make me anxious.  The canoes soon
disappeared, but after some time I fancied that I again saw them
hovering in the distance.  Presently I heard a voice, which sounded
softly as it came over the water, singing in the Samoan language.  What
was the meaning of the words I could not tell, but it struck me that
they were those of a love ditty, and that Toa had taken this method of
expressing the feelings of his heart.  As Fanny was probably fast asleep
in her cabin, it would be entirely thrown away upon her, and I had no
intention of calling her up to listen to the serenade.  I determined,
however, to call Harry should the canoes approach nearer; but the song
ceased, and they disappeared in the darkness.

I told old Tom, who relieved me.

"There's no harm in that sort of thing," he observed.  "If the young
chief takes to singing he will not dream of doing anything worse.  Maybe
he'll not break his heart after all, though he may think of Miss Fanny
for many a long day to come."

In the morning the doctor came off again, and pronounced Charles Tilston
very much better.  He was able, indeed, to get up and breakfast with us
in the cabin.  He expressed his gratitude to Harry for the attention he
had paid him, and especially for the care he had taken of Dick.  He then
told us, that on receiving Dick's letter he had immediately set out, by
his father's desire, to bring him home.  Wishing to take the shortest
route, he had come over to America, and crossed the continent to San
Francisco; he there found the _Caesar_ on the point of sailing, and had
accordingly taken a passage in her.

"I scarcely expected to reach Sydney," he said.  "The skipper was drunk
the greatest part of every day, and sometimes for days together.  It was
a mercy that we got even as far as Samoa; and had we not been wrecked, I
had intended to leave the brig, and proceed by some other vessel.  Now
that I have found my young brother I do not like to quit him again, but
I am unwilling to deprive you of his services."

"It will give me much pleasure if you will remain on board then," said
Harry.  Charles Tilston, greatly to my satisfaction, at once accepted
the invitation; for I had taken a great fancy to him, and was unwilling
also to lose Dick.  Harry arranged with him to go on shore to purchase
some clothing and other necessaries at the store, in case his own
portmanteau should not be recovered.  The natives had, in the meantime,
been collecting the goods thrown upon the beach from the wrecked vessel,
not one of which was stolen, and bringing them into the town.  We at
once went to the place where they were stowed, and among them Charles
Tilston discovered his own portmanteau, which he said professed to be
waterproof.  On opening it, he found that no wet had got in.  It being
delivered to him on a small payment for salvage, we returned with it on
board.  All that morning the calm continued, but in the afternoon, a
breeze springing up, the pilot came off, and agreed to take us out.
Just as the sails were loosed, before we hove up the anchor, Toa came
alongside in his canoe.  As was agreed on, Fanny remained below, but
Mary came on deck to receive him, and to thank him for his kindness to
me, but she said nothing about her sister.

"And I am also most grateful to you for saving my life," said Charles
Tilston.  "Had it not been for you I am fully convinced that I should
have been drowned, and I beg you to accept a few articles--all I have to
offer--as a remembrance of me."  On this he put into his hand a handsome
clasp knife, adding some gold pieces, with which the chief seemed highly
pleased.  I saw him continually looking towards the companion-hatch, as
if he expected Fanny to appear, but he waited in vain.  At last, Harry
had to remind him that we were on the point of getting under weigh, and
that it would be better for him to take his leave before we hove up the
anchor.  He was evidently trying to say something, but his tongue seemed
to cling to the roof of his mouth; and heaving a sigh he stepped into
his canoe and cast off.  The anchor was immediately run up to the bows,
and the sails filling, as there was a leading breeze, we ran swiftly out
of the harbour.  I saw the young chief standing up in his canoe, and
waving to us his last farewells.  Not till we were well outside did
Fanny venture on deck.

"Take care," said Mary laughing; "he may still come after us."

However, he did not move his paddle, and we were soon out at sea,
steering with a fair breeze to the eastward.



CHAPTER FIVE.

We had now a continuance of fine weather, and day after day sailed over
the calm ocean, the surface just rippled by a gentle breeze, generally
so much in our favour that we were able to rig out our big square sail,
and to carry a topmast studding-sail.  Though it was near the line the
heat was not very oppressive, unless when the wind fell altogether, and
then it was hot.  Though I speak of the ocean being calm, there was
always a perceptible swell, more perceptible when we were on the
weather-side of a coral reef, against which the swell, finding an
impediment to its progress, could be seen dashing with tremendous force,
rising high in the air in masses of foam.  We had before received a
warning to keep at a respectful distance from such reefs whenever we
could; but sometimes, unable to help ourselves, we were compelled to
pass unpleasantly near.  Night and day we kept a vigilant look-out.
Sometimes, indeed, at night Harry thought it prudent to heave to, rather
than attempt running on when the chart showed us that coral banks
abounded ahead.  In the daytime, when the sun shone, those even some way
below the surface could be seen by the look-out aloft at a considerable
distance, from the darker colour of the water to that of the surrounding
ocean.

Though it was very delightful to have the society of Mary and Fanny, yet
at other times, when danger threatened, their presence greatly increased
Harry's anxieties, and I suspect that he often on these occasions wished
that he had left them on shore.  Mary, however, always expressed her
satisfaction at being with him.

"Just think how I should have felt all the time that you were away," she
said one day.  "I should have been picturing you attacked by savages, or
tossed about by storms, or thrown upon a coral reef, or undergoing all
sorts of other misfortunes, till I got you safe back again; and I am
very sure that you would not have taken as much care of yourself as you
now do for my sake.  So, whenever you go to sea, remember that I intend
to accompany you."

We found Charles Tilston a very great addition to our society.  He was
well-informed, and full of life and spirits, right-minded, and earnest.
He was very grateful also to Harry and me for the way we had treated
Dick.  He was so pleased at the account we gave of Queensland, that he
proposed remaining and settling there with Dick as his companion.

We were now approaching that part of the Pacific in which Tom Platt had
assured us we should find the islands round which pearl oysters
abounded; but, as he could not give us the exact longitude and latitude,
we expected to have to search some time before we found them.  He
believed it, however, to be two or three days sail to the northward of
the island on which he had been cast away, and which was laid down
accurately on the chart, and for that island we accordingly steered.  On
our course there we sighted a large lagoon island, and, as we approached
the north-west end, a number of canoes came off from the shore.  While
at some distance the natives on board them were heard singing; as they
drew near the clamour increased.  Now and then they interrupted their
singing by giving way to loud shouts of laughter and violent
gesticulations, as if they had been a party of madmen.  Their canoes
were small, being only fifteen feet long, and generally containing three
persons.  Each canoe was furnished with an outrigger, as also with a
projecting point, both over the bows and stern, to enable them to get on
board out of the water.  They were formed of strips of cocoanut-wood
neatly sewn together.  When they got within a short distance of the
schooner they ceased paddling, and no signs we could make would induce
them to come alongside.  To calm their fears, we offered them various
articles.  On this one canoe paddled briskly up, near enough to have the
things thrown into her; then away she went, and another approached.
After this, apparently to show their gratitude, they began a monotonous
song.  This made us all laugh, when they stopped and grinned in return;
but although they seemed inclined to be friendly, they would not trust
themselves near us.  Harry, however, thought that they might possibly
not object to our landing on their island.  A boat was accordingly
lowered, and Charles Tilston, Dick, and I, with Tom Tubb, Jacky Pott,
and Lizard, went in her.  We carried several articles for barter,
hoping, as we observed a large grove of trees on the shore, to obtain
some cocoanuts.  The moment the natives saw the boat, however, they
paddled away and returned to the shore.  As we approached the beach they
assembled, shaking their spears, dancing, shouting, and making signs to
us to keep off.  When we retired a short distance they calmed down, but
when we again approached they resumed their former behaviour, thus
giving us to understand that, though they wished to be friendly, they
did not desire a closer acquaintanceship.  When we once more retired,
they followed us in their canoes, but without exhibiting any hostility.
We found that Tom Tubb, the New Zealander, could make himself clearly
understood, and we desired him to say that we wanted some cocoanuts; but
they replied that they had only a sufficient number for themselves, and
could not part with them.  On our holding up various articles they
cautiously approached, and presented us with some curious fish-hooks,
matting, adzes made from the shell of the Tridachna and ground very
sharp, as also with numerous pearl shells.  We came to the conclusion
that they had some good reason to mistrust white men; indeed, we
afterwards discovered that such was the case.  The articles they valued
most were buttons, pieces of iron, bottles, and cloth.  We tried to
obtain some of their spears and clubs, but with these they would not
part.  As we rowed away we saw them waving green boughs, a universal
sign of good-will among the Pacific islanders.  Their clothing consisted
of the maro, a cloth worn round the waist; the chiefs having also a
mantle of matting over their shoulders, while some wore feathers in
their hair.  None of the females appeared; no doubt they had all been
hidden as they saw us approaching.  Their huts were constructed of long
poles, bent so as to form a succession of arches, the ends of the poles
being stuck in the ground, and the whole covered over with pandanus or
palm leaves.  They were evidently a very primitive race of people, and
Charlie observed that if one missionary could gain their confidence he
would be able to make much progress among them.  Their island consisted
of a coral reef of irregular shape, with a lagoon in the centre, in
which were numerous knolls of various sizes rising four or five feet
above the surface.  The island itself, indeed, looked like a collection
of islets, though in reality united by the reef, which was just a wash
at half-tide, so that the inhabitants could have free communication with
each other.

We hoped to be more successful in obtaining cocoanuts and other
vegetable productions at the next island at which we might touch.  We
made it the following day, but here also we were disappointed.  It was a
perfect lagoon island, consisting of a circle of land of a light clay
colour, the lagoon of a beautiful blue tint.  The highest ground was not
more than twelve feet above the level of the sea, and we calculated that
it was about six hundred feet wide to its lagoon.  The shrubs were not
numerous, seldom more than twelve to fifteen feet high.  Amid them rose
conspicuously cocoanut-palms, and pandanus.  There was but one narrow
entrance into the lagoon; but, from the surf breaking on either side of
it, Harry considered that it would be dangerous to attempt passing
through.  We already knew that, however beautiful a coral island looks
at a distance, the landing on it is very disappointing.  In order to
obtain cocoanuts we pulled for the shore on the lee side, where it
seemed possible to land.  As we approached the beach, however, we saw a
large number of natives collected, and as we drew near they began
shouting, gesticulating, and brandishing their long spears and clubs,
making violent motions to us to retire.  We had a white flag, which we
waved, hoping they would understand that it was an emblem of peace, but
they took no notice of it, and still threatened to attack us should we
attempt to land.  We therefore kept off at a respectful distance, and
directed Tom Tubb, who could generally make himself understood, to
address them.  He singled out the chief, and told him that we were
friends of the natives, and that we came simply to traffic.  The chief
merely shouted and gesticulated as fiercely as before, making signs to
us to be off, evidently not wishing to have any intercourse with
strangers.  This enraged the New Zealander, who, standing up in the bow
of the canoe, became as much excited as the chief, brandishing the
boat-hook as a spear, and making as if he would throw it at him.  Thus
they continued for some time, till I thought it prudent to desire Tom to
cease, but he showed no inclination to do this, evidently taking
pleasure in exciting the chief to the greatest pitch of fury.  The rest
of the natives becoming as enraged as their leader, presently began to
assail us with pieces of coral, the only missiles they possessed.  To
avoid them we pulled away as rapidly as we could: indeed, as it was,
several lumps of coral struck the boat.  Here again was another proof
that the natives had cause to dread an intercourse with white men.

The wind heading us we were compelled to make a tack to the eastward,
when we sighted another lagoon island, on which, near the entrance, we
saw a flag waving in the air, and near it a number of natives, all more
or less dressed in shirts and trousers of various colours.  They had no
arms in their hands; and as we approached the entrance of the lagoon in
a boat they came down to welcome us in a most friendly way.  We were not
long in discovering the cause, a native neatly dressed in shirt,
trousers, and jacket, with a hat on his head, approaching, introduced
himself as a native teacher.  He could speak a few words of English;
and, with the aid of Tom Tubb, we managed to carry on a conversation.
He had been only two years on the island.  When he first landed the
people were as savage as those we had last visited.  The whole had now
become Christians, and partly civilised.  Anxious as he was to instruct
them in the truths of Christianity, he was also desirous of improving
their social condition.  All the women were dressed in cotton gowns, the
men as I have described; while their huts were of a superior
construction to those on any of the neighbouring islands.  The
missionary assured us also that many of the people could read, and some
could even write.  We agreed that should we have the misfortune to be
wrecked, how thankful we should be to find that we had been thrown on an
island inhabited by these Christian people, instead of such savages as
those we had before met with.  They supplied us with as many cocoanuts
as they could spare.  The missionary was instructing them how to make
cocoanut oil, that they might be able to purchase with it such articles
as they required, I may here remark that there are now very many islands
which can rarely be visited by English missionaries, where native
teachers have been the means of producing similar results.  The next day
we fell in with another similar island, in which a native teacher had a
short time before landed.  He had not been there more than a month or
two when a vessel was wrecked which had some time before carried off
several of the natives, and, undoubtedly, the only one of her crew who
reached the shore would have been put to death had it not been for his
interference.  He not only saved the man's life, but endeavoured to
instruct him in the truths of religion.  For this, however, the fellow
was far from grateful, for by his conduct he did much to impede the
efforts of the teacher.  The latter, when we went on shore, entreated us
to take the man, who called himself Sam Pest, away with us.  Harry, for
the sake of the teacher, undertook to do this, if Pest was willing to
go.  When the question was put to him, he said that he had no objection,
provided we would land him at some other island where he might do as he
pleased.  Harry would make no promise as to where he would land him,
notwithstanding which the man came willingly on board; and we bade
farewell to the missionary and his flock.  Sam Pest had been knocking
about the Pacific for the last twenty years he told me, sometimes on
board whalers, at others serving in smaller craft, frequently living on
shore among the heathen natives.  He was, I found, a regular
beachcomber--a name generally given to the vagabond white men who are
scattered about in numbers among the islands of the Pacific, to the
great detriment of the natives, as by the bad example they set them they
interfere much with the proceedings of the missionaries.  Pest was not
so bad, perhaps, as many; he had frank manners, was certainly no
hypocrite, for he was not at all ashamed of the life he had led.  He had
served on board vessels engaged in carrying off natives to work in the
mines of Peru, and he gave me many accounts of the atrocious ways in
which they had been kidnapped.  Sometimes the poor islanders were
enticed on board under the pretence of trading, others were carried off
by force.  On several occasions when canoes had come alongside, the men
were dragged out of them, and the canoes sunk.  In some instances whole
islands had been depopulated, when, from the smallness of their number,
the inhabitants were unable to defend themselves against the attacks of
the kidnappers.

I believe there is some soft part of the human heart, if it can be got
at.  By the way I talked to Sam Pest, and by occasionally giving him
some tobacco, he seemed to take a liking to me.  When I pointed out to
him the evil of his ways, he acknowledged that he wished he were a
better man, and if I would help him, he would try to him over a new
leaf.  I cannot say that I thought this very likely, from the way I
heard him talking to the men.

We had now commenced our search for the Pearl Islands, as Tom Platt
asserted we must be close to them.  He said that he was certain he
should know them again if he could once get sight of them.  Now we stood
to the northward, now tacked in one direction, now in another, now ran
before the wind, carefully marking down our track on the chart, so that
we might know what ground we had gone over.

"This reminds me of the long time the missionary Williams was searching
for the island of Barotonga before he discovered it," observed Charles
Tilston.  "He, however, went not to seek wealth for himself, but to
carry a pearl of great price to the benighted inhabitants.  How I should
like to have a vessel and to cruise over the ocean with the same object
in view, dropping missionaries here and there as it was found possible
to land them."

"Such is being done now," I observed.  "I heard a good deal about it at
Brisbane, and how the Bishop of New Zealand in his little schooner makes
long voyages for that purpose.  There are also two or three other
vessels employed by different societies with the same object in view."

"I must make inquiries about them," answered Charles Tilston, and he
seemed lost in thought.

As we had been four days cruising about without coming in sight of the
wished-for islands, at last Harry began to fear that old Tom had made
some unaccountable mistake.  He again and again cross-questioned him on
the subject.  The mate was, however, positive that he was right, and
that we should see the islands if we looked long enough for them.

"They may be rather more to the eastward or northward than I fancied,
but hereabouts I have no doubt we shall find them," he said in a
positive tone.

We accordingly extended our search, keeping always a sharp look-out from
the mast-head.  Old Tom frequently went up himself, spy-glass in hand,
to sweep the horizon.  At length, about noon on the sixth day, while he
was aloft he raised a cheerful shout--

"Land, land!  Away to the eastward; it is the island we are looking
for!"  As we had a fresh southerly breeze, the schooner was at once
headed up in the direction he indicated.  In a short time we could make
out the land from the deck, which greatly resembled the other islands we
had passed, looking like a fleet of vessels at anchor close together.
As we stood on we could distinguish several smaller islands lying off
the large one, which was the most thickly covered with trees.  On
getting still nearer we perceived a channel of clear water, along which
we hoped to proceed to an anchorage off the larger island of which Tom
had told us, and as he had marked it well on his former visit he
undertook to pilot the schooner to it.  Of course we took the usual
precautions of heaving the lead and having a man at the mast-head, and
one at each yardarm, while Tom himself stood forward, his hand shading
his eyes.  The dangers were fewer than we expected, and with infinite
satisfaction we at length brought up in a secure harbour.

As we approached it a number of canoes similar to those I have before
described, each carrying three men, came off to us.  The natives
appeared inclined to be friendly, for some were singing a song of
welcome, and others waving green branches.

Summoning Tom Tubb and Jacky Pott to act as interpreters, we let the
natives understand that we could only admit a dozen on board at a time,
and that they must come unarmed.  To this they made no objection, but
seemed at once perfectly at their ease.  From the curiosity they
exhibited, they were evidently not accustomed to the sight of vessels in
their harbour.  They told the New Zealander that they had seen on some
time before, which confirmed the account the mate had given of his
visit.  When told that we came to buy pearls, they appeared in no way
surprised, and at once agreed to supply us with as many as we wished
for, as also with mother-of-pearl shells; the latter, though bulky, were
well worth carrying, as there was at the time much demand for them in
the market.  My brother at once arranged the price we were to pay, with
which the natives seemed perfectly satisfied: they also promised to
bring us off a supply of cocoanuts.

As soon as these arrangements were made, they paddled off to spread the
good news among their fellow-islanders, and to collect the pearls
already won from the bottom of the sea, of which they gave us to
understand they had a good store.  Before evening the first party
returned, bringing a larger number of pearls than we expected.  Few of
them, however, were particularly fine, but on an average they were of
good value, which encouraged us to hope that we should be well paid for
our voyage.  Notwithstanding the friendly behaviour of the natives,
Harry considered it prudent to keep a vigilant watch during the hours of
darkness.  He told the natives that he should not expect to see them
till the next morning.

The night passed away without any cause for alarm.  At daylight the next
morning every canoe in the island appeared to be afloat; some brought
off pearls, as well as mother-of-pearl shells and cocoanuts, and others
were seen paddling out to the water between the reefs where the
oyster-beds existed.  We carried on a brisk trade for a couple of hours
or more.  The natives selected the knives and hatchets and other
articles they required, and handed over the pearls in exchange.  As one
party had disposed of their pearls, they were told they must get into
their canoes and leave the side of the vessel, while others took their
places.  Thus there was no confusion, and all went on amicably.  The
trading over for the morning, as soon as we had breakfasted, Charles
Tilston and I, with Dick and two men, pulled off to watch the natives
diving for the oyster-shells.  About thirty canoes were floating over
different spots, each having one diver on board.  He had a large net
basket fastened round his waist, and, as far as we could see, he was
furnished with no other means for obtaining oysters.  Standing up in his
canoe he drew a deep breath, then, holding his nostrils with one hand,
down he dived, and remained below the water for a couple of minutes.  On
his return his bag was seen to be full of oysters.  He had, it appeared,
wrenched them off by main force with his hands.  The water was so clear
that he could see the oysters without difficulty, as he could also the
approach of a shark or any other dangerous fish.  He remained diving at
intervals till his canoe was filled, when she returned to the shore with
her freight.  I found that the divers select that period of the day for
carrying on their operations when the direct rays of the sun illumine
the depths of the ocean.  On making inquiries through Tom Tubb I found
that, notwithstanding the number of sharks which infest those seas, very
few of the natives lose their lives from them, as they are always on the
watch for the creatures, and know how to elude them with wonderful skill
and courage.  Every day brought us a fresh supply of pearls, and when we
found that it began to fall off we produced some fresh articles to tempt
them: gaily-coloured handkerchiefs and cloth, nails, scissors, hammers,
gimlets, and similar things.  All this time we had not gone on shore.
The people were gentle and well behaved on board, but they were heathens
and savages, so that it was impossible to tell how they might conduct
themselves should they find that we were in their power.



CHAPTER SIX.

We had now obtained a fair amount of cargo, and I would have returned to
Brisbane well satisfied with our voyage; but Harry, being anxious to get
as many pearls as could be procured, resolved to wait on as long as they
came in freely and he had goods to pay for them.

Trading was just over for the day, when, looking towards the entrance to
the harbour, I saw the topsails of a brigantine appearing over a point
to the westward, but as the point was covered with trees, the masts of
the schooner could not have been seen from her deck.  Her appearance
showed us that the island was not so completely unknown as Tom had
supposed.  I immediately told Harry, who at once proposed sending a boat
to assist in piloting her in, and pointing out a good anchorage should
she be a stranger.  Tom offered to go, and I agreed to accompany him.
As we got round the point, we saw that the brigantine was shortening
sail, and before we were up to her she had dropped her anchor in mid
channel, as if she were not aware of the existence of a harbour, or at
all events had no intention of entering it.  She was tolerably secure
where she lay, and had the advantage of being able to get out again with
less difficulty than if she had come into the harbour.  We, however,
went alongside.  She was a rakish-looking craft, and there appeared to
be a good many men on board.  As we went up her side we saw a swarthy
fellow with big whiskers standing to receive us.

"Hulloa, I did not know any other vessel was in here," he said, as we
gained the deck.  "Where have you come from?  What are you about?"

"We hail from Brisbane; we are engaged in trading with the natives," I
answered.  "And may I ask you in return where you come from, and what is
the object of your voyage?"

"We come from Callao, and are engaged as you are," he answered.

I did not like the tone of his voice or manner, and thought it useless
asking any further questions.  As I looked round the deck it struck me
that the people I saw were as ruffianly a crew as I had ever set eyes
on, and that the sooner we took our leave the better.  I therefore
merely observed that on seeing his vessel coming up the channel,
supposing that he intended to enter the harbour we had pulled out to
offer him our assistance, but that as he did not require it we would
wish him good evening.

"I don't like the looks of those chaps," observed Tom, as we pulled
away.  "They're after no good."

"I do not suppose that they will interfere with us," I remarked.

"I'm not so sure of that," said Tom.  "They'll interfere with the
natives and spoil our trade; at all events it would be as well to keep a
watch on them, and the sooner we are out of their reach the better."

Old Tom was not generally an alarmist; but I did not fancy that even out
in the Pacific, in the middle of the nineteenth century, any crew could
be found who would venture to commit an act of violence on an English
trader when they would be so surely discovered and brought to justice.
Still, I fancied that Harry, who was always prudent, would take all
necessary precautions.  On hearing the account we gave of the trader he,
however, to my surprise, laughed at my apprehensions.

"She may not be altogether honest, and I daresay her crew would not
scruple to ill-treat the natives; but they will not venture to interfere
with us, or to misbehave themselves while we are here to watch them," he
observed.

He, however, afterwards, having had a conversation with old Tom, instead
of the usual anchor watch at sunset, ordered half the crew to remain on
deck, the guns to be loaded, and the small arms placed in readiness for
instant use.  Sam Pest was in the first watch, and as I walked the deck
I spoke to him as I frequently did.

"I have been hearing about the strange craft which came in this evening,
sir," he said, "and from what they say I think it's more than likely
she's the one I was aboard of some time ago.  Strange pranks she played.
Her skipper was a regular rough one, never minded what he did, and
thought no more of a man's life than that of a dog.  I mind what
happened once when we were away to the westward after sandal-wood, where
the black men of one island are always at war with those of another, and
when one side gains the victory never fail to kill and eat their
enemies.  We had gone to one island where the natives were friendly, and
had got them to cut down and bring aboard a good quantity of the wood.
When they had cut down all that was to be found in that part of the
island, and we had shipped the best part of it, the skipper told them to
bring off the remainder in their canoes and he would pay them
handsomely.  No sooner were they on board than he invited them down into
the hold to receive their payment, when he had the hatches clapped on
over them, and casting their canoes adrift made sail.  He then told them
that he was going to take them to another island where there was plenty
of sandal-wood, and that when they had cut it down for him and shipped
it he would take them back to their own country.  This quieted them,
though it seemed strange that they should have believed him.  In three
or four days we got to the island he spoke of, when about half the crew
well armed landed with the black fellows, and soon set them to work on
the sandal-wood trees, which were some way from the coast.  We were on
the watch all the time to prevent them or ourselves being attacked by
the natives, who kept at a distance, for they dreaded our firearms, as
we had shot three or four of them for coming too near.  We made our
prisoners carry the sandal-wood on their shoulders down to the harbour,
when our boats took it on board.  We went on in this fashion till we had
got a full cargo, notwithstanding which the skipper said he must have
the remainder of the wood cut down, and ordered our prisoners to go and
fetch it.  As they knew the way they trudged on as they had done for
several days past.  As soon as they were out of sight the skipper told
us to give them the slip and return to the boats.  On getting aboard he
ordered the anchor to be hove up, and sail made, and stood out of the
harbour.  Just then we saw the sandal-wood cutters come rushing back
waving and shouting to us.

"`You must shout louder for me to hear you,' cried the skipper.  `I
cannot stop for you.'

"Presently we saw a whole army of natives with spears and clubs come
rushing out of the wood.  They soon overtook the runaways, every one of
whom was struck down or speared through before they reached the beach.

"That's an easy way of paying our debts," says the skipper, and that was
the only remark he made about the unfortunate wretches who were killed;
and as the people in those islands are all cannibals I have no doubt
were eaten by the next day.

"This will give you, sir, some notion of the sort of man the skipper
was, and if the same man commands the brigantine out there, it's just as
well to be on our guard against him."

When I went below to get some supper I told Harry what Sam had said.

"I cannot take more precautions than we are now doing," he answered;
"and as soon as we get a breeze to carry us out of the harbour, we'll
put as wide a distance as we can between him and ourselves."

It appeared after all, when morning came, that our precautions were
unnecessary, not a canoe nor a boat was seen in the harbour; indeed,
Harry said that even supposing the crew of the brigantine were the
greatest ruffians afloat it was very improbable that they would venture
to attack us.  Only a few canoes came alongside bringing pearls or
oyster-shells.  The natives said that if we would wait for a few days
they would procure a further supply from some beds at the other end of
the island.  Harry, however, determined to sail as soon as possible.  We
now only waited for a fair wind, without which it would have been
dangerous to attempt the passage between the reefs.

Breakfast was just over when a boat was seen pulling towards us; she
evidently belonged to the brigantine.  The guns had been secured, the
small arms placed out of sight, and the awning having been rigged, Mary
and Fanny were on deck seated with their work in their hands.  Presently
the boat came alongside, and the skipper whom we had seen the previous
evening stepped on deck.  Harry received him politely, and begged to
know the cause to which he was indebted for a visit from him.

"Just come to learn what you are about, here," answered the skipper in a
gruff tone.  "I am Captain Samuel Myers.  My vessel is the _Wasp_, now
belonging to Callao."

"I am happy to see you, Captain Myers; but I thought that my brother,
who visited you yesterday evening, had told you that we were on a
trading voyage, and about to return immediately to Brisbane."

"What have you been trading in?" asked Captain Myers.  "I should not
have thought there was much to be got in these islands."

Harry frankly told him, adding, "We have, I believe, obtained all the
pearls the natives had collected."

"Where those came from, others may be got," observed the skipper.  "I
know a trick or two to make the natives work for me; and I should be
obliged to you, captain, if you'd show me some of those you have got,
that I may see whether they are worth having."

Harry, not liking to refuse, as it would have shown want of confidence
in his visitor, told me to bring up one of the cases, as also some
specimens of the oyster-shells.  I did not think it necessary to select
the finest.  When Captain Myers saw them his eyes glittered.

"I did not think there were such pearls to be got in these parts," he
observed.  "Have you many of them, captain?"

"Enough to satisfy me," answered Harry.  "Indeed, as I said before, I do
not think there are many more to be procured at present."

"We shall see about that," remarked Captain Myers, glancing his eyes
round the deck.  They fell, I observed, on the guns, and he evidently
noted each man of our crew, who had come up to have a talk with the
strangers alongside.  Harry had not invited any of the latter on board,
and I guessed had no intention of doing so.

Captain Myers waited, as if expecting to be asked below to take
something, as is usual when one skipper visits another; but Harry, who
did not like his appearance more than I had done, apologised by saying
that, as the cabin was devoted to the use of the ladies, he could not
invite strangers into it; but not wishing altogether to be inhospitable,
he ordered the steward to bring up some wine and spirits and biscuits,
which were placed in a tray on the companion-hatch.  Our visitor,
without ceremony, poured out for himself half a tumbler of rum, to which
he added a very small quantity of water.

"I like a nip neat at this time of the morning," he observed, as he
gulped it down.  "It sets a fellow up.  Well, as you have got ladies
aboard, I won't trouble you with my company any longer," he added,
taking another look round the deck.  "Good morning to you," and without
more ado he stepped back into his boat.

I saw him surveying the schooner as he pulled away.  As soon as he was
gone, Sam Pest came aft.

"He's the very chap I thought he was, and as neat a villain as ever
lived," he said.  "I knew him at a glance, but I do not know if he knew
me.  If he did, he did not show it; but that's just like him, for he is
as cunning as need be, and, depend on it, will be up to some trick or
other if he thinks he can play it to his own advantage."

I repeated to Harry what Sam Pest had said.

"He must be very cunning to play us a trick while we are on our guard,"
observed Harry.

We noticed that the brigantine's boat pulled for the shore, her skipper
having apparently no fear of the natives.  We were now waiting anxiously
for a breeze to get out of the harbour, but not a breath of wind stirred
its smooth surface.  As we were not likely to be able to sail at all
events till the evening, when there might be a breeze, some of the men
asked leave to go on shore; but Harry, suspecting their object was to
have a talk with the boat's crew of the brigantine, refused, and told
Tom Platt to find work for them on board.

Captain Myers did not pay us another visit during the day, but we saw
his boat pulling back to the brigantine in the afternoon.  What he had
been about on shore we could not tell, but no more natives came
alongside with pearls or oyster-shells, though we saw several canoes
paddling out as if about to proceed to the _Wasp_.

"If I was your brother I'd keep a look-out for any trick Captain Myers
may be inclined to play," said Sam Pest to me.  "He may think that the
shortest way of getting a cargo of pearls will be to rob this here
schooner, and send her to the bottom."

"You don't mean really to say that you think he is capable of so black a
deed," I said.

"I tell you there's nothing he would stick at," answered Sam in a
positive tone.  "I ain't very particular myself, but I've seen him do
things, besides the one I told you of, which made my blood curdle, and
heartily wish I was clear of him.  I have seen him heave shot into
canoes, and sink them alongside the vessel, just to get rid of the
natives; and another time when we had some aboard who were somewhat
obstreperous when shut up in the hold, he shot them down as if they had
been a parcel of rats, and threw some overboard with life still in them.
If he does not meddle with us, he'll treat the natives in this place in
a way which will make them turn against all white men.  For you see they
cannot distinguish one from the other; and we shall find it unpleasant,
to say the best of it, to remain here."

I heartily thanked Sam for the warning, and assured him that my brother
would not forget his good intentions, even though Captain Myers might
not act as he thought possible.  Of course I repeated what Sam had told
me to Harry, when the ladies were not within hearing, for it might have
made them unnecessarily anxious.  Although my brother was inclined as
before to laugh at the idea of Captain Myers attacking us, he took the
same precautions as on the previous night.  Tom Platt and I had the
first watch, with Dick Tilston, Tubbs the New Zealander, and three other
men; a couple of hands, besides the officer, would have been sufficient
on an ordinary anchor watch.  We kept a look-out, by Tom's advice, not
only in the direction of the brigantine, but also towards the shore.

"You cannot tell what dodge those chaps may be up to," he observed.
"They may come in their own boats, or just as likely aboard a number of
canoes, to make us fancy that they are only a party of natives coming
off to trade."

Harry and Charles Tilston, with the rest of the men, had gone below, but
did not intend to take off their clothes, so that they might be ready to
spring on deck at a moment's notice.  With all the precautions we had
taken I cannot say that I felt particularly anxious; indeed, I must own
that I should not have been very sorry if Captain Myers had made an
attempt to overpower us.  I continued walking the deck, talking to Dick,
and occasionally exchanging a word or two with old Tom.  The night was
calm, and the bright stars shining down from the clear sky were
reflected as in a mirror on the surface of the harbour.  The only sound
heard was the low dash of the sea on the distant reefs, and occasionally
some indistinct noise from the shore.  My watch was nearly over, and I
felt that if my head was on the pillow I should in a moment be fast
asleep.  Suddenly, as I stopped in my walk, I fancied I heard the splash
of oars, but so far off that I could not be certain.  I listened,
leaning over the bulwarks, with my hand to my ear.  Again I heard the
sound, more distinctly than before, but though I peered into the
darkness I could see nothing.  I went across the deck to tell Tom, but
he had not heard the sound.

"It may be one of the _Wasp's_ boats, but that's no reason why she's
coming here," he answered.  "However, we'll be on the watch for her, and
take precious good care that she does not come alongside for the purpose
of doing us harm."

After this I listened, but could hear no sound, and at length fancied
that I must have been mistaken.  It was just on the point of striking
eight bells, and I was leaning over the bulwarks, when I thought I saw
two objects through the gloom.  I kept my eyes fixed on them.  Dick was
close to me.

"Look out, and tell me if you see anything," I whispered to him.

"Yes; two boats, and I fancy there's another astern," he answered.

"You're right," I said.  "Run and tell the captain, and rouse up the men
for'ard; they're not coming at this time of night with any good
intentions."

The men were prepared, and every one was on deck in less than a minute,
with cutlasses at their sides, pikes in their hands, and the guns cast
loose, ready for firing.  Three boats now came in sight.

The moment Harry saw them, he shouted at the top of his voice, "Keep
off, or we fire and sink you."

Instead of dashing on, as they might have done, the crews of the boats
ceased pulling: the threat had had a good effect.  They were near enough
even now to enable us to send a shot among them; but unless they had
given stronger evidence of their intentions of attacking us than they
had done, Harry was unwilling to fire.  Still it was a critical time;
and from the number of men on board the brigantine, we knew that they
might possibly overpower us; at the same time, if our men behaved with
courage, it was more probable that we should beat them off.  Still, it
might not be done without bloodshed, if they attacked us with
resolution.  We had the guns in readiness pointed at them to fire,
should they again approach.  Harry again shouted--

"We know what you are about; if you come on it will be at your own
peril."

No answer was given; still the boats remained on the same spot without
advancing.

"Let us give them a shot or two, sir," shouted Tom at the top of his
voice.  "It will show them we are in earnest."

Scarcely had he spoken when the dark objects receded, becoming less and
less distinct, till they disappeared in the darkness.  Tom very seldom
indulged in a chuckle, but he did so on this occasion.

"I thought as how it would have a good effect," he observed.  "They
expected to take us by surprise, and had no stomach for fighting.  Maybe
their skipper wanted them to come on, for he is ready for anything, but
the men would not.  It's my opinion they are cowards at heart, though
boasting knaves when there's no danger."

"What you say, Mr Platt, is very true," I heard Sam Pest remark.

"Well done, Platt," said Harry.  "Your words had a good effect.  I don't
think they'll trouble us again to-night."

"We must not be too sure, sir, of that," said Tom.  "Perhaps the skipper
will think that towards morning we shall not be keeping so bright a
look-out, and may try to steal alongside to surprise us; but he'll find
himself mistaken."

As I was very sleepy I went below and lay down, but heard old Tom say
that he should remain on deck till daylight.  Next morning Harry told me
that the boats had appeared, but being hailed to keep off, they had not
come nearer, and that he had not thought it necessary to call up all
hands as he had done before.  Being in the neighbourhood of a pirate, as
she was nothing else, was very disagreeable, to say the least of it.
Indeed, she in a manner blockaded us, for we could not venture to tow
the schooner out to sea lest her boats might attack us in some critical
position.  Still Harry determined that should we get a leading breeze to
sail past her, taking the opportunity of doing so while her boats were
away.  We saw them passing to the eastward, apparently going to compel
the natives to dive for oysters.  The calm continued the greater part of
that day; but although towards the evening a breeze sprang up, it was
too light and not sufficiently favourable to enable us to run out of the
harbour.  We therefore had to pass another anxious night.

The ladies were not by this time entirely ignorant of what had occurred,
but Harry made as light of it as possible; saying that the fellows would
not really venture to annoy us, however willing they might be to get
possession of our pearls if they could do so without fighting.  The
third night began; about the middle of the first watch the breeze
increased so much, that Harry, who had come on deck, consulted with Tom
whether we should get the schooner under weigh, and run past the
brigantine in the dark.

"If there was a lighthouse at the end of the reef, and we had a pilot
aboard, I would not mind trying it, sir," said Tom.  "But you see it
would be an awkward job if we were to run ashore; besides, it's just
possible that the _Wasp's_ boats may be on the look-out for us, and hope
to catch us napping this time, though they were wrong before."

Harry said he felt pretty sure of the channel, but the last objection
was of more importance, and he determined therefore to wait till
daylight.  It was settled, accordingly, that as soon as the _Wasp's_
boats were seen going in the direction of the oyster-beds, we were to
heave up the anchor, and make sail.  At the same time, as there might be
hands enough left on board the brigantine to attack us, we were to have
the guns loaded, and be prepared to defend ourselves if necessary.  The
remainder of the night passed quietly away; we were thankful to find in
the morning a steady and favourable breeze still blowing, which would
enable us to run out of the harbour and pass the brigantine without
making a tack.

We had just breakfasted, when we saw three boats cross the mouth of the
harbour, and, after pulling in to the shore and waiting for some time,
continue their course, accompanied by a number of canoes, to the
oyster-beds.  As soon as they were out of sight, we hove up the anchor
and made sail, as had been arranged.  Getting outside, we saw the
brigantine lying directly in our course.

"With so many of her crew away, her skipper will not attempt to
interfere with us," said Harry.

We were under all plain sail, and, as there was a good breeze, we ran
quickly through the water as before, with men on the look-out forward,
and the lead kept going.  We could almost have thrown a biscuit aboard
the brigantine as we passed her.  Besides the captain, there were very
few men on her deck.

"Good day, Captain Myers," said Harry.  "We'll report your whereabouts
at Sydney.  Have you any message there?"

I need not repeat the answer the skipper gave.  It was such as might
have been expected from so thorough a ruffian.  The next moment,
stooping down, he lifted up a musket and presented it at us.

"If you fire so will I," I shouted; but before I could pull my trigger a
bullet whistled past my ear.  Providentially no one was hit.  My bullet
also flew wide of its mark; indeed, I was too much hurried to take aim.

"Don't fire again," cried Harry.  "The man must be mad."

Probably no other musket was at hand, as the captain of the _Wasp_ did
not again fire.  In a short time we were out of range, and we had too
much to do in attending to the navigation of the schooner to think just
then much about the matter.  From the number of rocks close to which we
passed, I was thankful that we had not attempted to run out during the
dark.  At length we were in the open ocean, and, with a fair breeze, we
steered to the westward.



CHAPTER SEVEN.

The breeze fell before we had entirely lost sight of the Pearl Islands,
and, indeed, from aloft I could still make out the masts of the
brigantine as she lay at anchor.  It crossed my mind that Captain Myers
might even now follow us; but I saw no indication of the vessel getting
under weigh; still, daring ruffian as he appeared to be, he might be
tempted to try and possess himself of the rich freight we carried.  I
did not mention the idea which had occurred to me to Harry, as there
would be no use in doing so, for we were carrying all the sail we could
set on the schooner, but our progress was very slow, and there was a
possibility of our being becalmed again during the night.  As we could
see the brigantine, we also must still be visible from her mast-head,
and Myers was probably keeping a watch on our movements.  Should we be
becalmed before sundown, it was possible that he might make another
attempt in his boats to capture us, hoping to catch us off our guard.

"He shall not do that, at all events," I thought to myself.  "I will not
say anything to Harry unless we are becalmed, and then I will tell him
the idea which has occurred to me."  Our progress was so slow that I
fancied there must be a current setting against us, but of this I was
uncertain.  The currents which set in various directions between the
islands of the Pacific are among the dangers which voyagers in those
seas have to encounter.  I asked Tom what he thought about the matter.

"There may be a current," he said, "but if there is one it is not of
much strength.  You see we are moving but slowly through the water.
We'll heave the log presently, and you'll find that we are not going
more than two knots, if as much as that."

Tom was right; with his practised eye he could always tell in smooth
water how fast the vessel was moving.  We now went slower and slower,
till at length the canvas hung down from the yards emptied of wind, and
we had no longer steerage way on the vessel.  Evening was drawing on,
and we might expect to remain becalmed all night.  We had, however, we
supposed, plenty of sea room, and had no apprehension of being drifted
on any unseen coral reef; I thought, however, that it was time to tell
Harry of my apprehensions.

"The same thing occurred to me," he answered.  "However, I do not really
suppose that the fellow Myers, ruffian as he is, will make the attempt
after having found us before so wide-awake.  Had we been unarmed the
case would have been different, as he would have been glad enough to
possess himself of our cargo, if he could have done so without the
certainty of getting some hard blows.  However, we will be on the watch
as before, and ready to give his boats a warm reception if they attempt
to molest us."  We enjoyed our usual pleasant evening meal, and
afterwards had music, reading, and lively conversation till bed-time.
The mate, meanwhile, kept watch, while I occasionally slipped up on deck
to see if there was any prospect of a breeze springing up.

"Not an air in all the heavens," answered old Tom.  "It is better than
having a westerly gale to drive us back towards the islands.  Maybe we
shall get a breeze before the morning, and slip along merrily on our
course."

"I hope so," I said.  "The captain wishes you to keep a bright look-out
to the eastward, in case our buccaneering friends may be coming to pay
us a visit."

"Trust me for that," said Tom.  "I have not forgotten them, and the last
words the captain spoke to that fellow Myers will make him more than
ever eager to prevent our getting to Sydney.  I don't mean to say that
he will take us, or that he has a chance of taking us, but he is very
likely to try it."

After the ladies had retired to their cabins, Harry came on deck.

"I have told them not to be alarmed if they hear us firing, for I am
determined should the pirates make their appearance to stand on no terms
with them, but, if I can, to send their boats to the bottom before they
get up alongside."

"A very right way, too, of treating them, sir," observed Tom.  "If we
can sink their boats it might be the saving of the lives of many of the
poor islanders, for, depend on it, when they have got all the pearl
shells they can, they will be carrying off as many of the people as the
brigantine can hold.  I have seen something of the way those sort of
fellows behave, and Sam Pest has been telling me more about it."

The watch on deck were all awake, and the men below had been warned that
they must be ready to spring up at a moment's notice; the guns were
loaded, and our other weapons were placed handy, ready for use.

As old Tom observed, "If they do not come, there's no harm done; and if
they do, why they'll pretty soon find out that they've had their pull
for nothing."

As Tom had been awake the whole of the first watch, Harry told him to go
below, observing that he and I would keep a look-out.

"No, thank you, sir," answered Tom; "I will get my sleep by-and-by; I'd
like to be ready in case the pirates should follow us."

"You, Ned, had better then go below, as you cannot do without sleep, and
you can be called if you are wanted."

I was just about to do as he advised me, when old Tom, pointing to the
eastward, towards which our starboard broadside was turned, exclaimed,
"As sure as I'm an Englishman there come the boats, and I can make out
three of them pulling abreast; we shall see them more clearly
presently."

The watch below, which had lately turned in, were soon roused up, and I
called Charlie Tilston, as he had begged me to do.

"We will have the port guns over to the starboard side, and give the
fellows a salute which will show that we are not to be caught napping,"
said Harry.  "All ready, there?"

He took charge of one gun, Tom of another, Lizard of the third, and I of
the last.  We waited till the boats had got as far as we could judge
within range, and then fired together, aiming as carefully as we could.
We then immediately reloaded, to be ready for them should they make a
dash at us.  Whether or not we had hit either of the boats we could not
be certain, they still appeared to be coming on.  Just then Harry
exclaimed--

"Trim sails; here's the breeze."

The helm was put up, the fore-topsail blew out, the mainsail filled.

"Ease off the main-sheet," cried Harry, and the schooner began to glide
once more through the water.  We watched the boats now right astern;
they still kept following us, hoping not to let their prey escape them.
We had two ports in the stern, through which our guns could be fired.
Harry had them dragged over for that purpose, and we at once began to
blaze away at our pursuers.  For some time we could see them still
following us, showing that they had hitherto escaped our shot.  The
breeze was freshening, the schooner ran faster and faster through the
water.

"Hurrah!  They have given it up," I shouted, as I saw them pulling
round.

"One more parting shot," cried old Tom, and before Harry could stop him
he fired.

"That was not a miss, at all events," he cried out.

Almost immediately afterwards we could distinguish only two boats--
evidence that one of them had been sunk.  In a short time we had
completely lost sight of them, and all fear of pursuit was over.

We had reason to be thankful that we had avoided a fight, for, desperate
as the fellows were, many of us might have been wounded, if not killed,
even though we had driven them back; the alternative of their succeeding
was too dreadful to contemplate.  Harry at once hastened below to assure
Mary and Fanny that all danger was over.  I now turned in, and though I
went to sleep in a moment I kept dreaming all the time that the pirates
were boarding us, that we were fighting desperately; sometimes Captain
Myers was on deck flourishing a cutlass, singing, "I'm afloat, I'm
afloat," and the "Rover is free," at others, with his cut-throat
companions, he was struggling in the water while old Tom was pelting
them with marline-spikes.

I was very thankful when I went on deck to find the schooner running on
with a fair breeze, and no land anywhere in sight.  Mary and Fanny,
though they had been naturally very anxious, soon recovered their
spirits, and everything went on as pleasantly as could be desired,
Charles Tilston was well-informed, and made himself very agreeable, and
though he had no intention of becoming a sailor, he soon learned how to
take an observation, and could work it out as well as Harry himself.  He
was always ready also to pull and haul and be as useful as he could.  He
spent a portion of every day in giving Dick instruction in mathematics
and other subjects in which his brother was somewhat deficient, and he
also kindly offered to help me with my studies.

As Harry wished to obtain samples of such produce as the islands
afforded, he had settled to visit those which were at no great distance
from our course to the westward.

The first island we sighted after leaving the Pearl Islands was of
considerable size, with a lagoon in the centre.  We observed at the
south-east end a broad entrance, through which it appeared we might pass
without difficulty into the lagoon.  Near one side was a village, and
the whole island appeared thickly covered with cocoanut and other trees.
As from this it seemed probable that we might obtain some palm-oil, the
schooner was hove to, and Charlie Tilston and I, with Tom Tubb and three
other men, pulled for the shore.  As we approached we saw a number of
natives rushing down to the beach, all fully armed; but they were not so
savage in appearance as those who had prevented us from landing on the
islands we had before visited.  They shouted and gesticulated, however,
making signs that we must not attempt to set foot on shore.

We, however, still pulled on, and as we got closer, Tom Tubb hailed
them, and desired to know why they were so inhospitable.  They
answered--

"We know why you have come.  Not long ago a vessel appeared and carried
off a number of our people, and you will try to do the same; but we will
prevent you."

Our interpreter tried to explain that our object was simply to trade
honestly; that if they had any cocoanut oil, we would give them a fair
price for it.

"We will not trust you," was the answer.  "Go away!  Go away!"

As we saw several of the people clothed in shirts, and some even in
trousers, we had no doubt that a missionary was among them, though we
could not distinguish him from the rest.  It was, however, evident that
they had been visited by a kidnapping vessel, and some of their people,
probably Christians, had been carried off into slavery.  Finding,
notwithstanding all our protestations that we were honest traders, that
the natives would not allow us to land, Charlie and I agreed that it
would be folly to attempt doing so, and therefore returned to the
vessel.

Soon after this we came off another island totally different to any we
had before visited, being formed of corals that had been uplifted to the
height of upwards of two hundred feet, and surrounded by cliffs worn
into caverns.  As no natives appeared, Harry did not wish to lose time
by landing.

The islands of the Pacific present a great variety of forms, although
the larger number are either partly or entirely surrounded by coral
reefs.  These reefs, however, vary in construction; some are called
encircling reefs, when they appear at a distance from the shore, and a
lagoon intervenes; others are called fringing reefs, which are joined to
the land, and extend out from it without any lagoon.  Others are
denominated lagoon islands, when the reef itself, raised above the
surface of the ocean, forms the land generally in a circular shape, and
surrounds a lake or lagoon, which has sometimes a passage to the sea,
and at others is completely closed.  Then there are atoll islands; these
rise within a large encircling reef, which is seldom perfect, having
passages here and there through it.  Sometimes there are elevations on
the reef itself, forming islands; but frequently the reef is a wash with
the sea.  Besides these, there are the great barrier reefs which extend
along the larger part of the eastern coast of Australia, part of New
Guinea, and New Caledonia.  Some of these are several hundred miles in
extent.  These countless reefs are all formed by the coral insect.  The
difference of their appearance is owing to various causes: some by the
subsidence of the land; others by its elevation through volcanic agency.
The encircling reefs have been produced by the subsidence of the land;
they were originally fringing reefs, having been attached to the
coastline of the country or islands.  As the land sank, the insects went
on building one generation above another; but they can only work in a
certain depth of water--below which they die; thus a wall has been built
up on the foundations formed by the original workers, who constructed a
fringing reef.  After a time, the last architects have died, storms have
thrown up pieces of coral shells and other debris on the top of the
wall, birds have brought seeds of plants, the ocean has washed cocoanuts
and other palm seeds on to the top: thus vegetation has been commenced,
and finally groves of trees and shrubs have grown up.

The barrier reefs have been formed in the same way.  Where no vegetation
appears, the has probably sunk as rapidly as the creatures have built,
and the sea has continued to wash over it.  Other groups have been
formed by the violent elevation of the land when the barrier reef has
been broken into and wide gaps have appeared.

The last island we visited, surrounded by high cliffs, must have been
formed by the sudden upheaval of the earth beneath it, so that the whole
mass of coral was lifted above water.  Such has been the origin of a
considerable number of islands.  The most beautiful and picturesque,
like Tahiti and others in that group, owe their present shape to the
subsidence to the earth, they being merely the summits of mountain
ranges, probably of some vast continent, of which the lower land has
been submerged.  The gaps or openings in the encircling reefs are always
found opposite to a river or stream.  The coral insect can only build in
pure salt water; the fresh water running out from the river has,
therefore, prevented its upward progress; thus a gap in the wall has
been formed serving as a safe entrance to the inner lagoon.  Knowing
these facts, it was easy to decide to which class the islands and reefs
we passed belonged.  There was always, therefore, matter of interest
before us.

Volcanic action has been the agent of many of the islands to the
westward, where several still active volcanoes exist.  Many of those in
that direction are clothed with the richest vegetation.  They are
inhabited by dark-skinned races; still the most savage among those of
the Pacific, such as the New Hebrides, Santa Cruz, Solomon Islands, and
New Ireland, to the eastward of New Guinea.  They produce the finest
sandal-wood, and Harry determined to visit some of them, in order to
obtain a supply before returning home.  He had, however, settled to call
first, as I have said, at the islands, where he hoped to be able to
purchase palm-oil.

The first we reached after this was very similar to those already
described.  The natives, as we appeared, came off to the schooner in
their canoes, and invited us to enter a secure harbour into which they
offered to pilot her.  Several of those who boarded us were dressed in
shirts, and one of them spoke a sufficient amount of English to make
himself understood.  He said that two native missionaries were settled
on the island, and that all the inhabitants were Christians.  They had
also, he added, a good quantity of palm-oil, of which they would be glad
to dispose.  Harry, therefore, without hesitation, accepted their
invitation, and we brought up within the outer reef, at no great
distance from the shore.

None of the people now cared for the trinkets and other trumpery which
they formerly so greatly sought for, but desired to have cotton goods,
axes, knives, carpenters tools, fish-hooks, cooking utensils, and other
things required by a civilised community.  They also asked for paper,
pens and ink, and copybooks.  We had, unfortunately, no Bibles or other
books in their language, or we might have disposed of a good number, so
eager were they to procure them.  They all behaved, when on board, in a
quiet and sedate manner, though they were evidently merry fellows, for
we saw them laughing and joking among themselves.  Their huts were
larger and better built than any we had lately seen, and those we
visited were remarkably clean and tidy; yet one of the missionaries
whose acquaintance we had made, and who could speak a little English,
told us that the people a few years ago were as savage as any of those
in that part of the Pacific.  We bought a dozen casks of palm-oil at a
fair price, calculating the value of the goods we gave in return.  The
people said if we would come back they would have a further quantity
with which to supply us.

We warned them about the _Wasp_, and gave them a minute description of
her, so that should she appear they might avoid being entrapped.  They
replied that they had heard of such vessels cruising about to carry off
the natives, but that none had visited their island, and that they had
therefore doubted of their existence.  They thanked us much for warning
them, and promised to be on their guard.  We advised them to be cautious
how they went on board any vessels before being acquainted with their
character.

The next island off which we called was also inhabited by Christian
natives, who supplied us with six casks of oil.

I have not space more minutely to describe the islands we touched at.
Wherever missionaries were established, there the people were more or
less civilised, industrious, and happy.  They had not ventured to lay
aside their weapons altogether, as they might be required to defend
themselves against the nefarious proceedings of lawless white men; but
as soon as they found that we came to trade honestly with them, they put
them by, and mixed among us without the slightest sign of fear, not even
attempting to keep their women out of our sight.

When Mary and Fanny landed, the latter gathered round them, expressing
their wonder at their dresses and fair complexions, we felt indeed that
we were among friends who could be thoroughly trusted.

Having obtained as much palm-oil as we required, we now steered to the
south-west for Vavau, one of the Friendly Islands, of which the
civilised King George is the ruler.  We made it early in the morning,
and, the wind being fair and the harbour easy of access, without waiting
for a pilot we stood on, having two small islands on the eastern side,
and a larger one to the westward.  Vavau appeared of uniform height.  At
first we did not see many signs of fertility or cultivation; the cliffs
rose abruptly from the sea without a fringing reef; but the water had
worn the coral rocks, which stand out from the shore, into the shape of
huge mushrooms on their stalks.  When once we were inside, however,
signs of the most industrious cultivation showed themselves.  The
country was covered with woods, looking like one vast garden, while from
every village came the sound of the mallet, used by the women in beating
out the native cloth.  At a wharf not far off were several large double
canoes taking in cargoes for another port; beyond could be seen a number
of comfortable-looking houses.  Numerous huts of smaller dimensions
peeped out from among the trees, while at some distance apart were
buildings of considerable size, which we afterwards found to be
churches.  Altogether we felt that we had come to a civilised country.

Soon after we had dropped anchor, an old native gentleman came off in a
large canoe, and introduced himself as the Viceroy of Vavau, and begged
to know the object of our visit.  Harry replied that he had come to
refit the schooner, but should be happy to trade if we could procure any
of the articles we required.  The old chief said that the people would
be ready to receive money as payment for any of their produce, that they
had cotton, and palm-oil, and Beche-de-Mer, cocoanuts, native cloth, and
various other articles, and that they could supply us with an abundance
of hogs and goats, and vegetables of all sorts at a cheap rate.

We were received, as we had been at Samoa, by the white inhabitants in a
very kind way, but as Harry was anxious to refit the schooner as soon as
possible, the two ladies, under the escort of Charlie Tilston, could
alone be much on shore.  We, however, managed to see something of the
country--the roads in course of construction in all directions across
it, the cotton plantations and well-cultivated gardens, and many other
signs of the industry of the people.  The greatest novelty was the
manufacture of the native cloth, or Tapa, formed out of the bark of the
paper-mulberry tree.  The natives universally wear it for clothing, and
as it cannot stand any amount of wet and is easily spoiled, there is a
constant demand for it.  It is manufactured entirely by the women.  The
young tree is first cut down and the bark is stripped off; it is then
steeped in water for a couple of days, when the inner is separated from
the coarse outer rind.  This is then beaten by a mallet, resembling a
square razor strop with small furrows on the under side, till it becomes
almost as thin as silver paper, and of course is greatly increased in
size.  Even then it is scarcely a foot wide, but the edges are
overlapped and stuck together with arrowroot melted in water; it is then
again beaten till all the parts are completely joined.  Pieces are thus
made of many yards in length.  A mucilaginous dye is then used, both to
colour the cloth, and further to strengthen it, until large bales are
formed of a single piece, from which portions are cut off as required
for use.  Some of those we saw were fifty yards long and four yards
wide.  When thus formed, it is called Tapa or Taba, a name by which it
is generally known among all the islands of the Pacific.  It is
afterwards beautifully coloured, sometimes by a stamp, at others by
painting it by hand, when it is known as Gnatu.  A coarser kind, worn by
the common people, is made from the bark of the bread-fruit tree.

A number of canoes came alongside, bringing turkeys, fowls, eggs, and a
variety of fruits and vegetables, among which were pine-apples, bananas,
yams, sweet potatoes, cabbages, and onions.  Besides cotton, the natives
produce tobacco for their own use, and probably, before long, cotton
manufactures will supersede the Tapa.  Although the former will be more
useful, it has not the elegance of the native cloth.

We visited a chapel built in the native style; it was upwards of a
hundred feet long by forty-five wide, and nearly thirty high.  It had a
high-pitched roof, with curved ends, and two rows of columns, each three
of the lower column supported a short beam, from which sprang a second
series bearing the ridge-pole.  These, as well as the horizontal beam,
were beautifully ornamented with cocoanut plait, so arranged as to give
the appearance of Grecian mouldings, of infinite variety and delicate
gradations of colour--black, with the different shades of red and
yellow, being those employed.  Altogether the effect was very artistic
and pleasing.

The Tongans are said to be the best canoe builders and navigators in the
Pacific.  One of the chiefs exhibited, with some pride, a large double
canoe, which consisted in the first place of a canoe a hundred feet in
length, and half a dozen or more in width; the second canoe was composed
of a tree hollowed out for the sake of buoyancy like the canoe, but was,
in reality, merely an outrigger.  The large canoe was formed of planks
lashed together with cocoanut plait; beams were then laid between the
two, on which was erected a house for the stowage of provisions; above
this rose a platform surrounded by a railing, forming the deck of the
vessel.  It had been built by Tongans in the Fijis, where suitable
timber could alone be procured.  These vessels, frail and unwieldy as
they appear, are navigated in the face of the trade wind between two and
three hundred miles, the Tongans making voyages to Fiji and also to
Samoa.  We were told that six years are required to build one.  The
sail, formed of matting, is triangular, spread on a long yard.  The
vessel is never tacked, but the sail is lowered, shifted over, and again
hoisted when beating to windward.

We made the acquaintance of a young chief--greatly resembling our Samoan
friend Toa--who offered to show us some interesting caverns which exist
along the coast.  The distance was too great for the ladies to venture,
as we had to perform the voyage in a small canoe, and should be away the
whole day; but Harry told Charlie and Dick Tilston, Nat and me, that we
might go.

We started at daylight in two canoes, with an ample supply of provisions
on board, Nat and I accompanying the young chief Alea.  He could speak a
little English, and gave us an interesting legend connected with one of
the caves.

Years ago, a chief had rebelled against the king of the country, when,
being defeated, he and his family were condemned to death.  He had a
very beautiful daughter, who had a lover belonging to another family.
Having gained intelligence of the intention of the king to exterminate
the family of his beloved, he hastened to her, and managed, without
being discovered, to carry her on board a small canoe which he had in
waiting.  She asked how he could possibly hope to escape by such means
from the vengeance of the king, who would destroy him as well as
herself.  He told her not to fear--that he had a place of concealment,
where, notwithstanding the most vigilant search which could be made for
her, she would never be discovered.  They paddled away till they reached
a cliff which rose out of the water.

"I see no cavern in which I can be concealed," she said.

"Fear not; I will conduct you to one, notwithstanding," he answered,
and, taking her hand, desired her to leap overboard.

Trusting him to the full, she obeyed; and, both diving, they swam for
some distance, till they rose in the centre of a large cavern with
rocks, free of water, on one side of which there was sufficient space to
rest.  Here he told her that she might remain secure, and that he would
bring her food every night, till he could make arrangements for their
escape to Fiji.  He had discovered the cavern, he said, not long before,
when diving for a turtle.  He was unable to fulfil his promise till he
came, one night, and told her that a large double canoe, with friends of
his, was waiting outside.  They were soon on board, and arrived safely
in Fiji, where they remained till the death of the king enabled them to
return to Vavau.  From this legend Byron draws a romantic account of
Neuha's Cave in his poem of "The Island."

As our friend had not described the first cave to which he took us, we
were surprised and delighted with it.  The mouth was of considerable
width, sufficient to admit two or three boats abreast.  Once inside, the
water was fully five fathoms deep.  We here found ourselves amid columns
and stalactites hanging from the high-domed roof, resembling Gothic
arches.  The bright sunlight streamed down through the wonderfully clear
water, and was reflected up from the sparkling stones and coral at the
bottom, with a beautiful series of light tints, and shades of delicate
blue and green, over every part of the walls and vaulted roof.  We
agreed that it was the fit abode of the most charming of sea-nymphs and
mermaids; indeed, we almost expected to see some of the fair ladies
seated among the rocks, combing their hair.  At the further end there
was an arched passage, sloping upwards till it reached an opening in the
roof above.  Some of our companions landed, and made their way up it,
now appearing, now disappearing among the rocks, the effect in their
progress being singularly picturesque and scenic.  On their return,
after visiting another smaller cave, we made sail for Neuha's cavern.
On arriving at the spot, we in vain looked for any sign of the entrance,
till the chief pointed out to us two poles placed crosswise, which, he
said, marked it.

"Now, which of you would like to accompany me into the cavern?" he
asked.  "You must be prepared for a long dive."

Neither Charlie nor Dick Tilston were willing to venture, on hearing how
long they would have to hold their breath.  At last I agreed to go, the
chief undertaking to keep hold of my hand, and to conduct me in safety.
On looking down, with our backs to the sun, we could see a darker patch
than usual among the coral-covered rocks, some eight feet below the
surface: this was the entrance.  We had brought a long line, which was
secured to one of the canoes.  A follower of the chief's, taking the
end, jumped overboard.  By watching him carefully we saw him disappear
in the midst of the dark patch.  He was absent for about ten minutes,
and he said that he had made the line secure in the inside of the
cavern.  After he had rested a little while, the chief asked me if I was
ready, when, he and his follower taking me by the arm, we dived
downwards, the chief keeping the end of the line in his hand to guide
us.  I held my breath and struck out with my feet, but my companions had
some difficulty in keeping me down sufficiently to avoid scraping my
back against the sharp points which project from the roof of the
passage.  As the whole distance was thirty feet, I was so much exhausted
by the time I reached the surface inside the cavern that I could not at
first admire its wonders.  My companions helped me to a ledge of a rock
just visible in the dusk, where we stopped to rest ourselves.  The
subdued light within the cave was derived entirely from the reflection
through the mouth of the submerged passage, and I was at first afraid
that I should scarcely be repaid the exertion I had made and the risk
run.  Suddenly, however, the chief leaped into the water, and began
swimming about, when the phosphorescent light produced by his movements
was more beautiful and brilliant than anything of the sort I had ever
seen.  Wherever he went he was followed by a stream of liquid fire.
When both the natives were in the water, the light was sensibly
increased, so that I obtained some notion of the size of the cavern.  It
was, however, at the best, a somewhat dreary place of captivity, and the
poor girl who inhabited it must have passed many an anxious hour,
uncertain whether her lover would be able to return and bring her her
daily allowance of food and water, and help her finally to escape.  I
owned that, having once performed the feat, I did not feel that I should
be inclined to pay the cave a second visit.  I therefore, as I sat on
the rock and pictured to myself how the lovely Neuha had passed her
time, took in every visible object; then, feeling rested, told the chief
that I was ready to return to the outer world.  I own that I had some
slight apprehension of encountering a shark on the way; but I felt
tolerably satisfied that my companions would send it to the rightabout,
if they did not kill the monster.

"Now I'm ready," I said.

The natives then, seizing my arms as before, dived with me almost to the
bottom, and, while holding my breath, I felt myself carried along, this
time escaping the roof.  With infinite satisfaction I saw the bright
sunlight overhead.  We rose to the surface close to the canoe, and I was
hauled on board, pretty well done, however, to receive the
congratulations of my friends.  The account I gave did not tempt them to
make the experiment.  After landing on some rocks to discuss the viands
we had brought, we pulled back the way we had come, and late in the
evening got on board the schooner.



CHAPTER EIGHT.

We were now bound on a cruise among the islands of Melanesia, inhabited
by a dark-skinned race, differing very greatly from the people we had
previously visited.  We hoped, however, to obtain a supply of
sandal-wood, and to establish friendly relations at different spots, so
that the schooner might return for another cargo, and bring back any
natives who might be willing to engage as labourers in Queensland.  Had
time allowed, we should have been glad to touch at Fiji, the inhabitants
of which were by that time no longer to be dreaded--many, with their old
king, Thakombau, once a cannibal, having been converted to Christianity,
and partially civilised--but Harry was anxious to conclude the voyage,
which had already been longer than he had at first intended.

We had been some days at sea when we came in sight of Cherry Island,
rising some three hundred feet above the surface of the ocean, and
thickly covered with vegetation, but only two miles and a half in
circumference.  It appeared truly a little gem in the midst of the world
of waters.  As there were no dangers off it, we were able to stand close
enough in to observe the fine sandy beach extending round it for a
considerable distance.  Along the shore we saw no canoes, but a number
of natives appeared, waving green branches--emblems of peace.  As we
watched them through our telescopes, we saw that they were of the
Polynesian, or brown race--fine-looking fellows, unlike the Papuans, who
inhabit the islands we were about to visit.  As it was not likely that
they could supply us with either cocoanut oil or sandal-wood, we did not
communicate with them, but continued our course westward.

The first island we made after leaving Cherry Island, was Varikoro, one
of the Santa Cruz group, but, as we were bound northward, we did not
heave to till we came off the small island of Lom-lom, where we saw a
number of canoes paddling towards us.  The natives who manned them wore
rings in their ears and noses.  Though their object was to trade, as
they brought off only a few bows and arrows, and a fruit in appearance
and taste resembling an apple, we soon concluded our transactions with
them.

Thence standing on, and passing several other islands, the next day but
one we reached that of Nukapu, which has a melancholy interest, as it
was here that the excellent Bishop Patteson lost his life.  The island
itself appeared to be about a couple of miles in circumference, and is
surrounded by a coral reef, extending, on its south-west side, as far as
a mile and a half from the shore, but in other places much nearer.  The
island was covered with a dense bush, growing down to within a few feet
of the water's edge.  As we were not aware at the time of the
treacherous character of the natives, while the schooner was hove to,
Charlie and I, with four men as a crew, pulled off in the gig, hoping to
open up an intercourse with them.  We were well armed with muskets,
pistols, and boarding-pikes, in case we should be attacked.  On
approaching the reef, we saw a number of canoes floating in the lagoon,
each containing three men.  We found, however, that we could not get
over the reef, but we saw the people on the beach waving green branches,
inviting us to come on shore.  We accordingly pulled in, believing that
we should meet with a friendly reception.  As, however, we got near, the
savages commenced yelling and dancing in a curious fashion.

"They wish to do us honour, I suppose," said Charlie.  "It will be wise,
however, not to trust them too much."

We pulled on till we got to within a hundred yards of the beach.

"Look out; they mean mischief!"  I shouted; and scarcely were the words
out of my mouth when a flight of arrows came whistling towards us,
though, fortunately, they fell short of our boat.  In vain we tried to
make the natives understand that our object was peaceable, by waving
white handkerchiefs, and holding up our hands without exhibiting our
weapons.  This only made them yell and dance more furiously than before.
We might have shot down a number of the natives, but we did not for a
moment think of doing that, and therefore at once returned to the
schooner.

We now continued our course until, towards evening, we came in sight of
a lofty mountain, rising in a conical form out of the ocean.  On turning
our glasses towards its summit, we could see dense volumes of smoke and
flame issuing forth, and as it lay in our course, and the wind was fair,
we passed close to it.  When darkness came on, the whole summit of the
mountain appeared to be a mass of fire.  Harry summoned Mary and Fanny,
who had gone below, on deck to enjoy the magnificent spectacle.  Now
flames would shoot forth, rising high in the air; and then the
incandescent lava, flowing over the edge of the crater, would come
rushing down the slope of the mountain, finally to disappear in the sea.
Then again all was tolerably quiet.  Now we heard a loud rumbling
noise, and presently the lava bubbled up once more, to plunge as before
down the mountain-side.

"I'm very glad we are no nearer," observed Nat.  "Suppose we were to be
driven by a gale of wind against it, we should run the double chance of
being burnt up by the lava or drowned among the breakers."

"We'll take good care to keep away from it, then," said Harry, laughing.

The following day we came off the island of Santa Cruz, the largest of
the group.  When even several miles from the shore, a number of canoes
approached us, each generally containing three people, all of whom
showed an anxiety to trade.  We stood into a small harbour, where we
brought up, when immediately more than a hundred canoes came around us,
loaded with mats, bows and arrows, and cocoanuts, which the islanders
willingly gave for bottles, pipes and tobacco, and for articles of
clothing.  Whenever a shirt or a pair of trousers were to be had, the
islanders immediately slipped them on, not always as they were intended
to be worn, several putting the hind part before.  They were an ugly
race--their skins nearly black, and their foreheads low and receding,
with high cheekbones and broad faces, their noses flat and mouths large,
while their heads were like black, curly mops.  I cannot exactly say
that they were dressed, their only garment being a sort of apron,
fastened by a string tightly round the waist; but they wore
tortoise-shell rings hanging from their ears down to their shoulders,
and one large ring through the nose, which gave a most hideous
expression to their countenances.  Some had on necklaces of human teeth,
and armlets of shells.  Their habitations were low, small, and dirty
huts of a circular form, roofed with the leaf of the cocoanut tree, and
destitute of every description of furniture.  They were altogether the
most ugly and diminutive race we had hitherto met with.

As usual, Harry would only allow a dozen on board at a time, while a
strict watch was kept on all their movements, but as far as we could
judge, they had no treacherous intentions.  As evening approached, we
made them understand that we wished to be left in quiet, though it was
somewhat difficult, without giving them offence, to get them into their
canoes.  They then paddled on shore, promising the next day to return
with the sort of wood we required, of which we showed them a specimen.
We, of course, kept a strict watch during the night, and were ready at
any moment to defend ourselves; but not a single canoe was seen floating
on the surface of the harbour; we therefore supposed that the natives
had retired to their huts to sleep.

Next day a chief came off, the distinguishing mark of his rank being a
breastplate of white shells, about nine inches in diameter.  He brought
with him several large bundles of sandal-wood, and promised, if we would
come again some time afterwards, to procure for us as much as we
required.  Savage as these people were, they seemed willing enough to
trade, and there is no reason to doubt that the blessings of
Christianity might be introduced among them.  Such is the task
undertaken by the Melanesian Mission, about which Charlie Tilston often
talked to me.

We soon after this came off Sugar-Loaf, or Mota Island, which is the
head-quarters of the Melanesian Mission; and, as Harry thought the
missionaries would be glad of an opportunity of sending letters by us,
he ordered a boat to be got ready to go on shore, while the schooner was
hove to.  I went in her, with Charlie and Dick, Jack Lizard, Tom Tubb,
Jackie Potts, and Sam Pest.  On approaching the beach, we found it was
rocky and rugged, while so heavy a surf was seething on it, that we were
afraid to attempt landing; we therefore pulled round, hoping to reach a
part where we might get on shore without danger.  Rounding a point, we
lost sight of the schooner, and after going some distance, succeeded in
finding a sheltered nook, into which we ran the boat.

Leaving Dick in charge of her, Charlie and I proceeded on foot in search
of the missionaries' houses.  The walk was a much longer one than we had
expected, but we at last found them, and were courteously received.
They expressed themselves very grateful for the attention Harry had
shown them, and immediately set to work to write letters, while their
wives prepared some refreshments for us.  They also insisted upon
sending some down to the boat.  We in the mean time walked out to a spot
whence we expected to see the schooner, but when we got there, great was
our dismay at not being able to discover her.  A dark cloud, sending
down a deluge of rain, was sweeping over the ocean, driven evidently by
a heavy squall.

"We shall see her when it has passed over," observed Charlie; "for she
will then stand back should she have been driven away from the land."

"I trust so," I said.  "Harry is always cautious, and would have
shortened sail in time; otherwise the squall has strength enough to
capsize her or whip the masts overboard."

"You should not allow such a fancy to enter your head," he observed,
wishing to comfort me, as I felt fearfully anxious.

We kept watching the spot where the schooner ought to have been,
entirely forgetting the repast prepared for us.  The cloud seemed to
increase in size, the rain grew thicker and thicker.

"If the schooner is still afloat, she must be in the very midst of it,"
I at length observed, with a groan.

"Of course she is," said Charlie, "and running before it.  She could not
possibly beat back in the teeth of such a squall.  We shall see her when
it has passed."

When we looked back landward, we saw, however, that the sun was already
sinking below the tree-crowned heights, and in that latitude darkness
comes on almost immediately after the sun has gone down.  Still, we
could not tear ourselves from the spot.

We were standing thus when we heard a voice saying, "I have been
searching for you, my friends, for a long time, and could not conceive
where you had gone."

Charlie explained the cause of our anxiety, for I was too much agitated
to speak.

"Trust in God's mercy, my friends," said the missionary.  "We must hope
that your vessel has not suffered material damage, though you do not see
her.  If she has been dismasted, which is possible, you would scarcely
discern her at the distance she must be off by this time.  Her captain
must undoubtedly have perceived the squall coming, and would be prepared
to encounter it."

All he could say, however, did not relieve my anxiety.  He waited with
us till the gloom of evening, stealing over the eastern ocean, made us
abandon all hope of discerning the vessel.  We then returned with him to
his house, where we were thankful to take the refreshment his wife had
prepared.  We hurried it over, as we wished to get back as soon as
possible to the boat.

"I have sent to say that you are delayed," remarked the missionary, "and
I must urge you not to attempt to put to sea till the morning.  You
would very probably miss your vessel in the dark, whereas she is sure to
stand back to look for you at daylight.  I must advise you to wait till
then.  Have your boat hauled on shore, and let your people come up here
to pass the night, as this elevated position is more healthy than on the
lower ground; and I will take care that an efficient guard is placed to
protect her."

This advice was so good that we were fain to accept it.  We therefore
returned with the missionary to his house, while he despatched a New
Zealander, who spoke English, to bring up Dick and the men.  Having a
guide, they were much less time reaching the station than we had been,
and soon arrived.  Of course, Dick was very much grieved to hear of our
anxiety about the schooner.  The missionaries and their wives did their
best to draw our thoughts away from our friends, by describing the
progress of the work they had undertaken.  Their object was, they told
us, to collect young and intelligent natives from the different islands,
and to endeavour to instruct them in the truths of Christianity.  When
their education was completed, if they exhibited a right missionary
spirit, they were sent back to diffuse the truths of Christianity among
their fellow-islanders.

It was deeply interesting to see a number of natives brought from among
the most savage races, gentle and civilised, and apparently imbued with
true Christian principles.  They were all clothed in shirts and
trousers, and looked as different as possible to the savages we had met
with, though of the same race, and a few years ago were exactly like
them.

We sat up for some time, hoping against hope that we might hear a gun
fired from the schooner, as a signal to us that she was in the offing.
Several times we looked out over the ocean, now sleeping in calm repose,
but no sign of the schooner could be discovered.

At last the missionary advised us to take some rest.  He had a
guest-room in which, he said, beds were prepared for Charlie, Dick, and
me, while some shake-downs of leaves and grass were made up in an
outhouse for the crew of our boat.  I kept continually starting up,
fancying that I heard a gun fire.  Again when I slept I pictured to
myself vividly the schooner struck by the squall, and going down beneath
the surface.

As soon as morning broke we were all on foot, and hurried to the
look-out place, whence we earnestly hoped that we might see the
schooner; but not a sail was in sight above the distant horizon.  The
Christian converts were gathered for prayer, and we joined them, though
unable to understand what was said.  When our early breakfast was over,
I again hurried out to look for the schooner.  Still, as far as eye
could reach, there was no appearance of her.  I felt that, as I was in
command of the boat, I must decide what was to be done, though I wished
to consult my companions and have their opinion.  I proposed that we
should, without loss of time, proceed in the boat to some of the
neighbouring islands to search for her, believing it possible that she
had been compelled to take shelter in one of their harbours.  I told
Charlie what I thought of doing.

"Dick and I will be ready to accompany you, whatever you may decide," he
answered.

"Then let us go at once," I said.  "We have a sail in the boat, and,
though the distance between the islands is considerable, we may cross in
a few hours from one to the other."

When we told the missionary what we intended to do, he strongly urged us
to remain with him for a day or two, in the hope that the schooner might
in the mean time return.

"The vessel may be on one side of the island, and you may be passing on
the other and thus miss her," he observed.

I thanked him very much, but still told him that I was too anxious to
commence our search to delay a moment longer than necessary.  As the
schooner carried another gig, my brother was certain to send on shore,
should we miss each other, to inquire for us, and we agreed to return
should we fail to find him.

"If you insist on going, I must beg you to allow me to supply you with
provisions and water," said our kind friend, "and I must advise you to
be very cautious in attempting to land on any of the islands.  You must
remember that they are inhabited by treacherous races, on whom no
dependence can be placed.  It will be better to endure hunger and thirst
than to run the risk of being clubbed, should you land among hostile
natives."

I again thanked him heartily for his kindness, and assured him that we
would be as cautious as necessary.  Bidding him and his companion and
their wives farewell, we went down to the boat, accompanied by a number
of natives carrying the provisions with which we had been furnished.
Our boat was launched, and we put to sea.



CHAPTER NINE.

We had what might prove a long and dangerous voyage before us, while we
were almost overwhelmed with the anxiety we felt about the fate of the
schooner.  We could see the first island we intended to visit just
rising out of the water, blue and indistinct, and as it was calm we had
to depend upon our oars to reach it, but we hoped before long to get a
favourable breeze which would send us on our way.  The sun struck down
on our heads with intense force, but we were too anxious to think about
it.  I proposed that we should relieve each other at the oars, so that
we might continue pulling, if necessary, all day.  Jack Lizard, Potts,
and Tubb declared that they would not allow us to do that.

"If you like to change places now and again with Dick, and his brother
takes a turn with the oar, it is all very well; but we are born to it,
as it were, and it makes no difference to us if we pull on all day,"
said Jack.

Fortunately, after we had pulled a couple of hours and the island of
Mota was fading in the distance, a breeze sprang up, and we were able to
stand on under sail.  At length, towards evening, we got near the shore,
and seeing a number of natives on the beach, we hoped that we might
obtain information from them as to what had become of the schooner; for,
had she been driven past the island, they must have seen her.

"We take care," said Tubb, the New Zealander.  "I not like dere looks;
dey not friends."

The people had hitherto been quiet enough, and I had observed no signs
of hostility; no sooner, however, did we approach the shore than they
assumed a warlike attitude, dancing and gesticulating in the wildest
manner, while they yelled and brandished their weapons as a sign to us
that we were to come no nearer.  As it would have been madness to have
attempted landing in the face of such hostile demonstrations, we put the
boat partly round, and pulled on parallel with the shore, but at a
respectful distance.  As we did so, we saw the natives running along the
beach, every now and then making threatening gestures as a warning to us
not to land.

"They may be savages," observed Charlie; "but they cannot be called
treacherous ones, or they would have allowed us to land and afterwards
murdered us."

We continued along the coast, hoping to come to the mouth of some
harbour in which we might find the missing schooner.  No harbour
appeared, and everywhere, whenever we stood in closer than before to the
beach, the natives, gathering in numbers, ordered us to keep off.  We
had now no choice but to remain at sea during the night, for we could
not hope to reach the next island within several hours.  We therefore
stood away from Inhospitable Island, as we called it.

Fortunately the weather remained fine, and the coolness of the night was
pleasanter than the heat of day.  A distant volcano, which threw up a
continuous column of flame, enabled us to steer a direct course, and, as
the breeze was very light, we did not expect to reach Aurora Island,
which we intended next to visit, till morning.  Jack Lizard and I took
it by turns to steer, for I was rather afraid of trusting Charlie Dick
Tilston, lest a sudden squall might strike the boat and send us over.
Our minds were too much occupied with the thoughts of the schooner, or
rather of those on board her, to enable us to talk on any other subject
Charlie Tilston every now and then tried to get up a lively
conversation, but found that he could not succeed.  All night long we
glided smoothly on.

"I hope that we shall be treated in a more hospitable way by the
inhabitants of the next island we visit," he observed.

"We cannot be very certain about that, sir," observed Sam Pest.  "I have
been up and down these islands, and I have seen the way white men have
treated the blacks.  No wonder they ain't friendly, for there's not a
village scarcely where some of the natives have not been carried off,
while others have been fired on and the people killed.  We must make
them understand that we come as friends, or we shall have no chance of
getting anything out of them."

By daylight we were close up to Aurora Island.  The inhabitants had seen
our boat approaching, and had gathered on the beach to receive us.  They
probably thought that our vessel was not far off, round a point to the
westward.

"Come, I think we have a chance of a friendly intercourse with these
people," observed Charlie; "and if you like, I will land and try to have
a talk with them by signs.  Neither Tubb nor Potts seem to understand
their language better than we do."

Although the natives waved no green boughs, and kept a short distance
back on some high ground above the beach, yet, as their women and
children were with them, and as they made no hostile demonstrations, we
concluded that we might safely land.  We therefore ran the boat on to
the beach, and Charlie, stepping out, moved a few paces from them, and
sat down on a rock.  In a short time six or seven persons came down to
where he was sitting, apparently inclined to hold a palaver, Sam Pest
all the time watching them narrowly.

"Take care, sir," he shouted, "or they'll play you some foul trick."
The next instant he added, "Jump up!  Run for your life down to the
boat!"

As he spoke I seized a musket, and old Sam took up another and presented
it at the natives, to cover Charlie and enable him to get back to the
boat.  Just as he sprang up, I saw a young native in the act of lifting
a club as if about to strike him; but the suddenness with which Charlie
started up and retreated to the boat prevented the savage from dealing
the intended blow.  Charlie springing on board, we shoved off, and lay
on our oars at a safe distance from the beach.  This was a bad
commencement, and there seemed but little chance of our obtaining any
information from them.  When the natives saw our guns pointed at them,
they quickly retreated, and though we did not fire, and made signs to
them to return, nothing would induce them to trust themselves near us.

"I am afraid, from what Sam says, that we can expect no better reception
wherever we go.  But we must not complain of the poor natives," observed
Charlie; "they are thorough savages, it is true, but would probably have
received white men with gladness, if the white men had from the first
treated them properly, and tried to win their regard."

"That may be so," I remarked.  "But we must not forget how the far less
savage inhabitants of the Friendly Islands treated the shipmates of
Mariner, and would, it is said, have treated Captain Cook and his
companions, if they had had the opportunity.  Their conduct, in some
instances, is owing to debased human nature, rather than to a spirit of
revenge, though undoubtedly in many the white men have been the
aggressors."

Finding that we were not likely to establish a friendly intercourse with
the natives, or to gain any information about the schooner, we pulled
away from the beach, and steered before the wind for another island
which we saw to the westward.  Although our hearts were full of anxiety,
and our thoughts were occupied with the task in which we were engaged,
we could not help admiring the beauty of the islands amid which we were
sailing.  We found the water very deep round the beach, from which the
hills rose abruptly, clothed with a dense vegetation.  Cocoanut trees
grew in the greatest profusion, not only on the shores, but frequently
up the sides of the hills, and were seen in clusters at the bottom of
the valleys running inland.  There were also many other fine timber
trees, while graceful ferns and flowering shrubs formed a dense
undergrowth over all the uncultivated parts of the country.  The water
was so transparent that we could see the fish swimming about as we
looked over the side of the boat.  We had, fortunately, some hooks and
lines, and as nearly anything served for bait, we were able to catch as
many as we could possibly eat.  The difficulty was to cook them, as we
could not venture to land on any spot where there were natives.  Our
fear also was that we might run short of water; thus, although in the
midst of abundance, we might perish of thirst, or by the hands of the
savages.

"We must manage to land somewhere," cried Dick.  "Perhaps if we were to
pull in to the shore towards evening, we might escape detection, and
have time to cook our fish and find water before the natives are down
upon us."

"Although there may be some risk, I do not see what else we can do,"
said Charlie.  "We must, however, keep a strict watch while we are
cooking our food, and not attempt to sleep on shore.  We shall probably
be able to obtain some cocoanuts in addition to the water, so that we
may keep at sea, without the necessity of landing again, for several
days."

As this plan seemed feasible, we determined to adopt it.

"The island out there, for which we are steering, is of considerable
size, and there must surely be some parts uninhabited," observed
Charlie.

"I hope so," I said.  "As there are a good many missionaries scattered
about, we may drop upon some island where one is established; and, if
so, we shall be better off than we should if we landed at an uninhabited
part; besides which, we may possibly gain tidings of the schooner."

The breeze was light, but yet sufficient to enable us to run on under
sail.  We had miscalculated the distance to the island, for, the hills
being high, it appeared nearer than it really was.  We were still some
way off the shore when the sun set; the wind also fell, and we had to
lower the sail and take to our oars.  This, however, was the best thing
we could do, as we had less chance of being seen, should there be any
people on the shore.  The moon rose as we neared the land, and gave us
sufficient light to distinguish objects, so that we might pick out a
place into which we could run the boat.  Seeing no fires or lights, we
began to hope that we should not meet with natives; we therefore pulled
in, placing Tubb ahead to look out for rocks.  The part we first made
appeared too rugged to allow us to venture on; we therefore rowed along
the shore for some way, till a small sandy bay, just suited to our
purpose, appeared.  We accordingly steered in for it, keeping, as
before, a careful look-out ahead.  The ground rose abruptly almost
immediately beyond the beach, on which no surf was breaking; but I
fancied that I heard a rushing sound of water falling probably over the
cliffs close at hand, though a thick grove of tall trees concealed it
from our sight.

"We could not have discovered a better place," said Charlie, in a
cheerful tone.  "We may here remain securely till morning, and get some
sleep without being cramped up in the boat.  I should not be surprised
either if those are cocoanut trees, and, if so, we may get a good
supply."

We now rowed into the bay, Tom Tubb feeling the way with the boat-hook,
so that we might not run the risk of staving in the bows of the boat.
At length our keel grated on the smooth sand, and jumping out, we
quickly hauled up the boat.  Tubb and Sam Pest then went on, the latter
carrying a musket, to survey the neighbourhood, and to ascertain if
there was any path by which an enemy might come suddenly down and
surprise us; they were also to look out for water.  We meantime
collected driftwood and dry branches from under the trees to make a
fire.  We placed a pile some way up the beach close to the grove of
trees, so that the flames might be concealed by the overhanging cliffs
and hills on either side, and thus, although there might be natives in
the neighbourhood, we might escape being seen.  We had got our wood
ready to light when Sam and his companion came back.

"There's only one part, away to the left, where anybody, unless they've
got wings, can come down," said Sam.  "We must keep a look-out on it,
and we shall have time, if many of the savages appear, to get the boat
into the water and shove off before they can reach us.  One of us had
better keep guard there, and we shall be safe enough."

They had also discovered a waterfall, which came down over the rock at
an easily accessible spot, where we could fill the kettle we had brought
with us.  We accordingly spitted the fish which we had caught in the
morning, though already they were not as fresh as we should have liked,
and put on the kettle to boil, to make some tea which the missionary had
given us.  Following Sam's advice, we at once placed Jack Lizard on the
look-out at the spot he had mentioned; we then cooked and ate our
supper, and sent Tubb to relieve Jack.  This done, we spread the boat's
sail on the oars and boat-hook, to make an awning under which we could
sleep; the sand was hot and dry enough so that we required no other
bedding.  It was arranged that we should relieve each other every two
hours, and thus all might get a good spell of sleep.  Had it not been
for our anxiety about the schooner, we should have enjoyed our
adventure.  We had scarcely given a thought about ourselves, or what we
should do, should we not find her.  Our only idea had been to return to
Mota; but from that island we were already at a considerable distance,
and bad weather might come on before we could reach it.  A few years
before this, however, we should have been in much greater peril, for
there would have been no place for which we could steer with any
certainty of meeting with a friendly reception.  It was sad to think
that generation after generation had passed away, during which these
beautiful islands had been inhabited by savages, to whom no one had
carried the light of the Gospel; and that, even now, only on a few
isolated spots were missionaries established, few of whom, owing to the
numerous difficulties in their way, had made much progress.

As we had all been awake during the previous night, scarcely had we
thrown ourselves on the sand than most of us were fast asleep.  It
appeared to me that I had scarcely closed my eyes when I was summoned by
Charlie to keep my watch.  Although I might have excused myself, as
being in charge of the boat, I did not wish to do that.  He told me that
he had heard no sounds to indicate that any savages were in the
neighbourhood.  I took the musket which he handed me, and kept pacing up
and down on the top of a bare mound, beyond which the ground sloped
upwards towards the interior, as far as I could make out in the
darkness.  I thought it prudent, however, to cast my eye towards the
other side of the bay, for it seemed to me that there was a way along
under the cliffs at low water.  It was arranged that should the sentry
see any one coming, he was to shout to the rest of the party, who were
to launch the boat, while he made the best of his way to join them.
This might appear a very timid proceeding, but, considering the savage
character of the natives, it was the only safe mode of showing them that
we had no hostile intentions.  We might thus also the better be able to
gain their friendship.

Day broke while I was still on watch, and I could now distinguish the
nature of the country.  It was thickly wooded in all directions, with
hills, or mountains, indeed, rising to a considerable elevation; and I
was thankful, on looking at the grove, to see that the trees were loaded
with cocoanuts.  However, I would not quit my post till I was relieved,
as it was far more important to keep a look-out now than it was during
the night.  Looking towards our camp, I saw Charlie on his feet,
arousing the rest, and Dick soon joined me.  I, of course, charged him
to keep a vigilant look-out, but on no account to fire, even although
the natives might appear with arms in their hands, and make threatening
gestures when they saw him.

When I got back to the camp, Charlie proposed that we should push off
and catch some fresh fish for breakfast, as the remainder of those we
brought with us were no longer fit to eat.  The boat accordingly shoved
off with the four men and Charlie, while I remained on shore with the
other musket in my hand, that I might be ready to assist Dick if
necessary.  Much sooner than I expected, the boat returned with a
sufficient number of mullet and bream to afford us food for the whole
day.  As we were all very hungry and I had made up the fire, we quickly
cooked them, and I was just about to send Jack Lizard to relieve Dick,
when the latter shouted--

"Here come some people; but there are only three or four fellows, and I
cannot make out exactly who they are."

I quickly joined him, when I saw four men coming down the valley.  Three
of them were undoubtedly savages, but the fourth had some clothing on,
and was taller and bigger than the others.  He carried a huge knotted
club in one hand, and a spear in the other.  The rest of the men were
also armed with spears.  The first, from his dress and ornaments, was
apparently a chief, but I was puzzled at his general appearance.  On his
getting nearer, though his skin was brown enough, I observed that it was
very much lighter than that of his companions.  Dick and I stood with
the butts of our muskets on the ground, while we shook our handkerchiefs
with our other hands.  As the strangers got nearer, to my surprise the
apparent chief shouted out--

"Hilloa!  Who are you?  What brings you here?"

"We came in to get water and fresh provisions," I answered.  "And now
I'd ask who you are."

"Why, as to that, I'm Prime Minister, High Priest, and Doctor
Extraordinary to the king of this 'ere country," answered the man, who I
now saw had been a white man, though certainly I could not call him so
now.

"Very glad to meet you, friend; for some of the people in these parts
are not very hospitable to strangers, and we have found it difficult to
land to cook our food and stretch our legs, without the risk of being
knocked on the head."

"Couldn't say, if I had not been with them, but what my people here
might have treated you in the same way," answered the stranger,
"Howsomedever, I will come and have a palaver with you, and hear the
news, for I have not set eyes on any white chaps for I don't know how
long."

Of course we told our new friend that we should be glad of his company,
and he, followed by the blacks, went with us towards the boat.

"You don't happen to have any liquor aboard?" he asked.  "It is a mighty
long time since I have tasted a drop."

I was obliged to confess that we had no spirits, though we had still
some of the tea the missionaries had given us.  He looked much
disappointed, and made a remark about the missionaries which I need not
repeat.  They were evidently not in his good graces.

He and his companions had seated themselves before the fire, when we
gave them some tea sweetened with sugar, which seemed to their taste.
They also condescended to eat the remainder of our fish, though the
white man told us they were precious badly cooked.  I saw Sam Pest
looking at him while he was eating.  At last Sam, seating himself by his
side, said--

"Well, Dan Hogan, you seem to have forgotten me."

"No, I haven't, now you speak, though I do not know what I might have
done if you had not opened your lips."

Though the two were old shipmates, they did not even shake hands, but
sat eagerly talking together for some time, regardless of the rest of
us.  I could scarcely make out what they said.  Sam, at last getting up,
came towards me, and said--

"This 'ere old shipmate of mine has given me some news which you will be
glad to hear for one thing, though not for another.  The schooner has
got safe into port, and is not far off from this."

"Safe!"  I exclaimed, my heart bounding with joy, and I shouted the news
to Charlie and the rest.

"Safe into port, but I did not say she was safe," said Sam.  "In the
first place, from what he tells me, she's carried away her mainmast, and
seeing that she cannot put to sea, some of his black friends have made a
plot to get hold of her, and if they do, they'll not leave any of those
aboard alive.  The captain, I know, keeps a sharp look-out; but they're
cunning rascals, and will try, if they can, to circumvent him."

"How far off is she?  How soon can we get there?"  I asked eagerly.  I
could feel my heart beating as I spoke.

"He says about thirty miles, more or less, round the coast, though it is
little more than a quarter of that distance across country."

"Then couldn't we go over land, and warn my brother?"  I asked
anxiously.

"Why, bless you, we should be knocked on the head by the first black
fellows we might meet," answered Sam.  "Our only chance is to go round
by water, and I hope we may get there before any mischief is done."

"Then we have not a moment to lose," I exclaimed.  "But we must ask your
friend to exert himself, and try to save them.  Perhaps, when they hear
that we are engaged in honest trading, they may be induced to abandon
their design."

I spoke to Hogan, who, however, shook his head, as if he thought the
attempt would be useless, though he promised to do what he could.

"You will understand, friend, that we shall be happy to reward you for
any service you can render us, and you must point out to the natives
that, should they commit any act of violence, they will be sure before
long to be punished.  British men-of-war are about to cruise in these
parts for that very purpose, though, perhaps, the natives have never
seen or heard of them as yet."

Hogan looked greatly astonished at hearing this, and exhibited some
alarm himself.  He promised, however, to tell the people, though he
tried to persuade us that he could not be answerable for what they might
do.

As every moment might be of importance, I wished him good-bye, and
ordered the men to launch the boat.  I observed that Sam parted from his
old shipmate in a remarkably cold manner, as before, not even shaking
hands with him.  We immediately shoved off, Hogan and his companions
standing on the beach, and watching us as we pulled out of the little
bay, and soon afterwards I saw them going back by the way they had come.
Hogan, I should have said, had minutely described the harbour in which
the schooner lay, so that I had no fear about finding the place, if we
could reach it before dark.



CHAPTER TEN.

Nearly two hours of daylight had already gone by, and as there was at
present a perfect calm, we should have to depend on our oars alone.  I
explained to the men that it was a matter of life and death to arrive as
soon as possible.

"Never fear, Mr Ned," answered Jack Lizard.  "We'll make the boat fly
along as fast as our oars can send her."

As Dick had a sharp pair of eyes, I stationed him in the bows to look
out for rocks; for, of course, to shorten the distance, we had to keep
close to the land, or, rather, just outside the breakers, which, as we
advanced, we found dashing on the shore.  As we had had a good
breakfast, we did not stop to dine, but Charlie handed round a mug of
water, that the men might moisten their lips.  As I sat in the
stern-sheets holding the yoke-lines, I felt as if I was steering in a
race; and so it was--a race against the machinations of the treacherous
savages; but I trusted that we should win, and be in time to warn Harry
of their evil intentions.  I was pleased with the way the men behaved,
evidently exerting their strength to the utmost, and even old Sam did
not utter a complaint.  As we pulled on, I eagerly looked out for each
point or headland, hoping that it might be the one beyond which we
should find the harbour.

Everywhere the country was covered with trees.  Sometimes there were
cliffs, and at others the land rose in bold slopes almost from the
water's edge; but nowhere did we see any coral reefs.  This was owing,
Charlie said, to the existence of a volcano, which we observed somewhere
in the interior, sending forth clouds of smoke and ashes, occasionally
bright flames darting up, though scarcely visible in the sunlight.  The
lava, he said, rolled down into the sea, and so heated the water that it
prevented the existence of the coral insects.  Here and there were small
sandy bays, in which canoes were drawn up.  On observing them, I feared
that some might come off and interfere with us.  However, our boat was
so small an object, and being without a sail, the natives probably
scarcely observed her as we glided rapidly by.  Perhaps they might have
taken her for some marine monster, or other fish which had just risen
above the surface.  Occasionally we had to cross a broad bay, when we
were, in consequence, at a considerable distance from the land; but I
took care to examine it carefully, so as to be sure that the harbour we
were searching for was not within it.

Night was drawing on.  We had been pulling, we calculated, for not less
than seven hours, and must have been going at the rate of four knots an
hour.  Charlie thought that there might have been a current against us,
or, perhaps, we had scarcely made good the four knots as I supposed, or
else that the distance was greater than Hogan had told us.  As yet,
however, we had seen no indication of an opening.  A tree-covered point
was before us; we steered for it.

"Perhaps we shall find the harbour on the other side," said Charlie.

The men had not lately been pulling as fast as in the early part of the
day; and no wonder, for their arms were becoming weary with their
exertions.  Still they went on.

"Never fear, sir," cried Jack Lizard.  "We've got some go in us yet.
Cheer up, lads, cheer up; let us give way with a will again."

The point was rounded when we saw what Charlie and I felt nearly sure
was the entrance to the harbour.  We were already steering for it when
we made out half a dozen canoes, which had just rounded the opposite
point, and soon came paddling towards us.  They might have had no
unfriendly intentions; but, at all events, we were anxious not to
encounter them.  As we pulled on, we became perfectly convinced, by the
appearance of the land, that we had discovered the harbour we were in
search of.  The canoes were coming up with us, and it seemed doubtful
whether we should get into the harbour before them.  Our men, though
they had previously appeared too much fatigued to pull longer, redoubled
their efforts, and point after point was passed, when at length I was
gladdened by the sight of the schooner at anchor.

I raised a shout of joy.  "Hurrah, hurrah!  There she is!"  I exclaimed.

"And there are the canoes!" cried Jack Lizard.  "But we'll be alongside
her before they're up with us."

Harry, who was on deck, saw us coming, and presently Mary and Fanny came
up, and Nat, and waved to us.  We were quickly on board, and rapidly
exchanging accounts with each other.  Harry had been as anxious about us
as we had been about him, for, as he could not tell whether we had put
off from Mota before squall came on, he feared that we might have been
exposed to its fury.

The canoes, seeing us safe on board, turned aside and paddled for the
shore.  Whether or not they had had any intention of attacking the boat,
this showed us that they believed the schooner was able to defend us.

Harry said that he had been compelled to be very strict with them,
although he had hitherto remained on good terms.  He had held to his
rule of allowing only a few men to come on board at a time, and he had
made these leave their arms in the canoes, while, as soon as evening
drew on, he compelled all on board to return to the shore.  When I told
him of the warning Hogan had given us, he replied that he had brought
the natives into such good order that he did not think they would
attempt any act of treachery.

"That is just what Sam was afraid of," I observed.  "Their object, by
pretending to be quiet and friendly, is to throw us off our guard.
However, now that the schooner's crew is strengthened by our arrival,
perhaps they'll abandon their designs."

He told me that he had been arranging with a chief for leave to cut down
a tree from which to make a mainmast.  "It will take some time," he
continued, "but it must be done, and as the natives cannot cut down the
tree, we must manage to do it ourselves.  It did occur to me that, while
we were thus engaged, they might think it a favourable opportunity to
attack us, unless we are on our guard."

"From what Hogan told Sam, we were much afraid that they might attempt
to cut you off even before our arrival," I observed.  "The old sailor
had, by some means or other, gained intelligence of their designs,
although he acknowledged that he was very uncertain whether he should be
able to put you on your guard in time to save you."

"One thing is positive, that we cannot leave this harbour till we have
obtained a mast.  And we must have it, therefore, at all risks," said
Harry.

"I advise that we should get hold of a chief, or some other person of
influence, and keep him as a hostage on board, while our people are
working on shore," said Charlie Tilston.  "The wildest savages know what
that means, and will not venture to attack us while we have a chief in
our power."

"A capital idea!" said Harry; "but the question is, how are we to bell
the cat, or rather, get hold of a chief?"

"I will go on shore with Sam Pest, and try to induce one of them to come
off," said Charlie.  "It would be useless to take either the New
Zealander or the Sandwich Island man, as neither of them speak a word of
the language of these people, but Sam can make himself understood."

Harry thought that there was much risk in the undertaking, but Sam, when
told of the plan, was ready enough to go, and I begged that I might
accompany Charlie, as I did not like the idea of his going alone.  We
were all to be well armed, and to be on the watch to prevent any savage
from getting behind us--this, should they have any treacherous
intentions, they were sure to attempt doing.  Charlie proposed carrying
a few articles to present to the chief, with the promise of others, in
exchange for provisions and such things as we should require, if he
would come to receive them.  This was considered more politic than
carrying on the trading first, and promising the presents afterwards, as
the chief might doubt whether they would be delivered.  From what we
gleaned from Sam, they had more than once before been tricked by white
men, who had come into their harbour, and were therefore likely to be
suspicious of our intentions.

As soon as the plan was arranged, Charlie and I, with Sam, Jack Lizard,
and two other men, shoved off and pulled for the shore.  As we
approached, we found a number of savages armed with clubs, collected on
the beach.  We pulled slowly, looking out for one who, from the
ornaments he wore, and his general appearance, might prove to be a
chief.

"That's the fellow we want," said Charlie, pointing out a man who wore
an ornamented head-dress and breastplate, with a necklace and rings
round his arms.  We waved, and made signs to him to approach, and we
steered the boat directly towards where he stood.  Charlie then held up
several articles he had brought.  The chief seemed to understand our
object, and ordering his people to stand back, he advanced without
hesitation.  We accordingly ran in the boat; Charlie and Sam stepped on
shore, while Jack Lizard and I sat with our muskets in our hands, ready
to cover them should they be attacked.  Charlie then presented first one
article and then another, and Sam tried to explain, as far as his
knowledge of the language would allow him, our object to the chief, who
seemed highly pleased, and stepping back, exhibited the gifts he had
received to his attendants.  Sam then gave him to understand that we had
many more of the same description on board.  At first, I was afraid that
he would not consent to accompany us; but at length his cupidity
overcame his fears, and Sam, advising him to come lest others should
obtain the goods we had to dispose of, he stepped into the boat.

As it was evident that she could not well carry more than one person
besides ourselves, Sam made signs to the others that we could not take
them on board, and at once pulled away from the beach.  This showed the
savages that we had not come for the purpose of kidnapping them.  The
chief, however, looked somewhat nervous, and I was afraid might, after
all, jump overboard, and swim back to the shore.  I told Charlie,
therefore, to try and occupy his attention by showing him some of the
other articles which we had brought.  What interested him most was a
telescope, through which, having adjusted the focus, we made him look at
his friends.  He almost let it drop in his astonishment at seeing them
so near, and had not Charlie held it, it would have fallen overboard.
He looked through it again and again, each time expressing by signs his
wonder, and of course utterly unable to comprehend how the objects he
saw through it were brought so near.  I was very glad when we got him
safe alongside.

Stepping on deck, he gazed about him with almost as much astonishment as
he had exhibited when looking through the telescope.  Harry stood ready
to receive him, and told Sam to say how happy he was to have him come on
board.  We then showed him some of the articles which we had brought for
trading, and gave him to understand that a certain number of them should
be his, as soon as the mast was ready.  Sam also was told to explain to
him that till then he must remain on board, and that, should his
countrymen offer any violence to our people, he would be the sufferer.
He seemed to understand this perfectly well.  The difficulty, however,
was to let the natives know why we had carried him off, as we could not
allow him to return to tell them so.  The only way of accomplishing our
object was to bring off one or two more natives, who might convey any
message he desired to send.  After some persuasion, we induced him to go
down to a spare space in the hold, when some food likely to suit his
taste was placed before him, and the mate and Dick sat down to eat with
him.

As soon as they were thus engaged, Charlie and I shoved off, and pulled
for the shore.  At first the natives, though they had been eager to
accompany their chief, seemed unwilling to embark; but at last we
persuaded two to trust themselves with us.  On pulling back we amused
them as we had the chief, and as soon as they got on board we conducted
them down below.  We placed some food before them, and when their meal
was over, we got Sam to try and explain to them that we intended to keep
their chief as a hostage, while our people were on shore cutting down
the tree; that he would be well treated, and ample payment made to him.
They seemed to understand this clearly, and after they had had a
conversation with the chief, we told them that we would convey them back
to the shore.  They appeared to be in no way dissatisfied with the
arrangement, and willingly got into the boat, leaving their chief on
board.

"Please, sir, we must keep a sharp look-out on that chap," observed Sam,
"or maybe he'll jump overboard and swim ashore."

"He'll lose the goods we promised him if he does," said Harry.

"But he does not think so; for he knows the schooner cannot get away,
and he expects to take her some dark night, then to get hold of
everything on board."

"We will not stand on any ceremony with him, then, but keep him safely
under hatches till we get the mast aboard," said Harry.

We at once landed the two natives, who explained to the rest our object
in keeping the chief.  This did not appear to surprise them, nor did
they show any unfriendly feeling towards us, but continued to bring down
fresh provisions, till we gave them to understand that we had as much as
we wanted.  As there was no time to be lost, the carpenter, and men to
assist him, at once went on shore to cut down the tree.  Charlie and I
accompanied them to superintend the operation.  Notwithstanding the
pacific behaviour of the natives, we considered it prudent to go well
armed, and to keep a vigilant watch all the time on their movements.  As
the tree we required was not a large one, it was quickly cut down, and
the branches and bark being chopped off, we commenced dragging it
towards the water.  None of the natives, however, offered to assist us.
We had got to within about a hundred yards of the beach, when we saw a
number of natives collecting on either side, with clubs and spears in
their hands; and at the same time we observed, to our dismay, a fleet of
canoes paddling towards the schooner.  We had too much reason to fear
that a simultaneous attack was to be made on us and her.
Providentially, our boat, which lay hauled up on the beach, had not been
touched, and we determined therefore to make a rush for her, and to try
and reach the schooner before the canoes could get alongside, as, if
once on board, we might hope to defend her against any number of
assailants.

"Whatever we do, let us keep together," cried Charlie.

Presenting our muskets at the natives, we ordered them to keep back, and
while he and I retreated with our faces towards them, the men rushed on
to launch the boat.  Still the savages well knew that after we had
discharged our pieces we should be defenceless.  They hesitated,
however, no one wishing to be shot, and we were able to get the boat off
and to leap into her.  Still it seemed very doubtful whether we could
gain the schooner before the canoes.  Scarcely, however, had we shoved
off from the shore, when I caught sight of a white sail appearing over
the point which formed the southern entrance to the harbour, and almost
immediately afterwards a large vessel appeared, steering directly for
it.  The natives saw her; her appearance evidently disconcerted them,
for, instead of continuing their course towards the schooner, they
paddled away for the shore.

The breeze being fair, the stranger came rapidly on, and, shortening
sail, brought up a short distance outside where the _Dainty_ lay.  Harry
immediately sent me alongside to tell her captain what had occurred.  I
found that she was a whaler, which had put in for fresh provisions and
water.  As she carried four guns and a numerous crew, the captain said
that he had no fear of the natives; besides which, he well knew how to
deal them, though he confessed that he might have been deceived had we
not warned him of their treacherous conduct.  The first thing to be done
was to get off the spar intended for our mast.  He accordingly sent a
couple of boats well armed to assist us, and lent us his carpenters, who
quickly shaped it as it was required.  Our captive chief, on being told
of the meditated attack of his countrymen, looked very much alarmed,
believing that we should in consequence put him to death.  We gave him
to understand that we had no intention of doing so, and that, as we had
obtained the spar, we would pay him and send him on shore, hoping that
he would induce his countrymen to behave in a friendly way to white men
in future.  This, as far as we could understand, he promised faithfully
to do.  Landing him on the beach, we shook hands, and let him go his way
with the goods he had obtained.  Next morning, he and a number of his
people appeared, loaded with provisions of all sorts, and before the day
was over the whaler obtained as much as she required.  The natives kept
at a respectful distance during the time her boats crews were filling
the casks with water.  With the assistance of the captain of the whaler
we got our mast stepped and rigged, and both vessels sailed together.

We heard nothing more during our stay of Hogan, or what had become of
him.  Probably he fell a victim to the jealousy of the natives--a common
fate of so many white men who have abandoned themselves to a savage
life.  Parting from the whaler, we made the best of our way to Sydney,
where Harry immediately gave information to the authorities of the
piratical cruise of the _Wasp_.

Having disposed of our cargo, we returned to Brisbane, where we found
that everything had been going on in a satisfactory manner.

Charles Tilston, instead of going home, resolved to settle there, and,
as I had long suspected would be the case, made an offer to Fanny Amiel,
who accepted him.

Dick and I, with old Tom Platt and Jack Lizard, made several successful
trips in the _Dainty_; but our sisters-in-law agreed that interesting as
had been their voyage, they did not wish ever to make another.  I need
not say the adventures we met with have often since served us as
subjects of conversation, and I hope that we were all grateful for our
preservation from the many dangers we encountered.

I must confess, before I conclude, that I was induced to write the
narrative of our voyage, not merely to amuse my readers, but to interest
them in the dark-skinned inhabitants of the almost countless beautiful
islands spread over the Pacific, and to induce them to give their warm
support to the missionary efforts now making to convey the blessed light
of the gospel to those savage races so long plunged in the utter
darkness of heathenism.  A wonderful work has already been accomplished.
Thousands and tens of thousands of the Pacific Islanders have become
civilised and enlightened; but much--very much--remains to be done, and
I would remind my readers that they should consider it a privilege to
help with their subscriptions to send men forth who are willing to
engage in the noble and glorious undertaking.

THE END.





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