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Title: The Young Marooners on the Florida Coast
Author: Goulding, F. R.
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 Young Marooners on the Florida Coast" ***

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FLORIDA COAST ***



[Illustration: Cover]



[Illustration: "Hallo!" cried Harold, his own voice husky with emotion .
. . Frontispiece]



                                  THE
                           YOUNG MAROONERS ON
                           THE FLORIDA COAST


                                   BY
                             F. R. GOULDING



                          WITH INTRODUCTION BY
                          JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS
                             (Uncle Remus)



                              ILLUSTRATED



                                NEW YORK
                         DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY
                                  1927



                            COPYRIGHT, 1862
                           BY F. R. GOULDING

                            COPYRIGHT, 1881
                           BY F. R. GOULDING

                            COPYRIGHT, 1887
                       BY DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY



                          PRINTED IN U. S. A.



                              INTRODUCTION


I have been asked to furnish an introduction for a new edition of "The
Young Marooners."  As an introduction is unnecessary, the writing of it
must be to some extent perfunctory.  The book is known in many lands and
languages.  It has survived its own success, and has entered into
literature.  It has become a classic. The young marooners themselves
have reached middle age, and some of them have passed away, but their
adventures are as fresh and as entertaining as ever.

Dr. Goulding’s work possesses all the elements of enduring popularity.
It has the strength and vigour of simplicity; its narrative flows
continuously forward; its incidents are strange and thrilling, and
underneath all is a moral purpose sanely put.

The author himself was surprised at the great popularity of his story,
and has written a history of its origin as a preface.  The internal
evidence is that the book is not the result of literary ambition, but of
a strong desire to instruct and amuse his own children, and the story is
so deftly written that the instruction is a definite part of the
narrative.  The art here may be unconscious, but it is a very fine art
nevertheless.

Dr. Goulding lived a busy life.  He had the restless missionary spirit
which he inherited from the Puritans of Dorchester, England, who
established themselves in Dorchester, South Carolina, and in Dorchester,
Georgia, before the Revolutionary War.  Devoting his life to good works,
he nevertheless found time to indulge his literary faculty; he also
found time to indulge his taste for mechanical invention.  He invented
the first sewing-machine that was ever put in practical use in the
South. His family were using this machine a year before the Howe patents
were issued.  In his journal of that date (1845) he writes: "Having
satisfied myself about my machine, I laid it aside that I might attend
to other and weightier duties."  He applied for no patent.

"The Young Marooners" was begun in 1847, continued in a desultory way,
and completed in 1850.  Its first title was a quaint one, "Bobbins and
Cruisers Company."  It was afterward called "Robert and Harold; or, the
Young Marooners."  The history of the manuscript of the book is an
interesting parallel to that of many other successful books.  After
having been positively declined in New York, it was for months left in
Philadelphia, where one night, as the gentleman whose duty it was to
pass judgment upon the material offered had begun in a listless way his
task, he became so much absorbed in the story that he did not lay it
down until long after midnight, and hastening to the publishers early
next morning, insisted that it should be immediately put into print.
Three editions were issued in the first year, and it was soon reprinted
in England by Nisbet & Co., of London, followed by five other houses in
England and Scotland at later dates.

Dr. Goulding was the author of "Little Josephine," published in
Philadelphia (1848); "The Young Marooners" (1852); "Confederate
Soldiers’ Hymn-Book," a compilation (1863); "Marooner’s Island," an
independent sequel to "Young Marooners" (1868); "Frank Gordon; or, When
I was Little Boy" (1869), and "The Woodruff Stories" (1870).  With the
exception of "Little Josephine" and the "Hymn-Book," they have all been
republished abroad.  Born near Midway, Liberty County, Georgia,
September 28th, 1810, he died August 21st, 1881, and is buried in the
little churchyard at Roswell, Georgia.

JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS.



                        THE HISTORY OF THIS BOOK


In a vine-covered piazza of the sunny South, a company of boys and girls
used to gather round me, of a summer evening, to hear the varied story
of my early years. As these boys and girls grew larger, I found it
necessary to change my plan of instruction. There were many _facts in
nature_ which I wished to communicate, and many _expedients_ in
practical life, which I supposed might be useful. To give this
information, in such shape as to insure its being remembered, required a
story. The result has been a book; and that book is "The Young
Marooners"--or, as my young folks call it, "Robert and Harold."

Their interest in the story has steadily increased from the beginning to
the end; and sure am I, that if it excites one-half as much abroad, as
it has excited at home, no author need ask for more.

The story, however, is not all a story; the fiction consists mostly in
the putting together. With very few exceptions, the incidents are real
occurrences; and whoever will visit the regions described, will see that
the pictures correspond to nature. Possibly also, the visitor may meet
even now, with a fearless Harold, an intelligent Robert, a womanly Mary,
and a merry Frank.

Should my young readers ever go _marooning_, I trust their party may
meet with fewer misfortunes and as happy a termination.

F. R. G.



                                CONTENTS


CHAPTER

I  The Company and Their Embarkation

II  Mother Carey’s Chickens--Fishing for Trout--Saw-Fish--Frank and the
Shark--Looming--Tom Starboard--The Nautilus--Arrival at Tampa

III  Tampa Bay--Bellevue--Unloading--A Dangerous Cut--How to Stop a
Bleeding Artery--Tom Starboard Again

IV  Confusion--Housekeeping in a Hurry--First Night on Shore--Company to
Dinner--"Blue Eyed Mary"--Robert at Prayer-Meeting--Danger of Descending
an Old Well--Recovering a Knife Dropped in a Well

V  Riley--A Thunderstorm--Ascertaining the Distance of Objects by
Sound--Security Against Lightning--Means of Recovering Life from
Apparent Death by Lightning

VI  The Only Way to Study--Taking Cold--Riley’s Family--The Hare
Lip--Fishing for Sheephead--Frank Choked with a Fish Bone--His
Relief--His Story of the Sheep’s Head and Dumplings--"Till the Warfare
is Over"

VII  Bug in the Ear--Visit to Fort Brooke--Evading Blood-Hounds--Contest
with Dogs and Means of Defence--Amusing Escape from a Wild Bull and
Conversation on the Subject

VIII  Marooning and the Marooning Party

IX  Embarkation--Abduction Extraordinary--Efforts to Escape--Alternative
Hopes and Fears--Despair--Vessel in the Distance--Renewed Hopes and
Efforts--Water-Spout--Flash of Lightning and its Effects--Making for
Shore--Grateful Acknowledgments

X  Waking Up--Good Resolutions--Alarm--Marooning Breakfast--Search for
Water--Unexpected Gain--Oyster Bank--Fate of a Raccoon--The Plume and
Fan

XI  Discussion Of Plans--Doubts--Differences of Opinion--What Was Agreed
Upon--Baking a Turkey Without an Oven--Flying Signal

XII  Results of the Cookery--Voyage--Appearance of the Country--Orange
Trees--The Bitter Sweet--Rattlesnake--Usual Signs for Distinguishing a
Fanged And Poisonous Serpent--Various Methods of Treating a Snake
Bite--Return

XIII  Disappointment--The Live Oak--Unloading--Fishing
Excursion--Harold’s Still Hunt--Disagreeable Means to an Agreeable End

XIV  Frank’s Excuses--Curing Venison--Marooning Cookery--Robert’s
Vegetable Garden--Plans for Return--Preparation for the Sabbath

XV  Their First Sabbath on the Island, and the Night and Morning that
succeeded

XVI  A Sad Breakfast--Sagacity of Dogs--Search for the Boat--Exciting
Adventure--A Pretty Pet--Unexpected Intelligence

XVII  Mary and Frank--Examination of the Tent--Smoke
Signal--Devices--Brute Messenger--Raft--Blazing the
Trees--Voyage--Disastrous Expedition--News from Home--Return to the Tent

XVIII  Night Landing--Carrying a Wounded Person--Setting One’s Own Limbs
when Broken--Splinting a Limb--Rest to the Weary

XIX  The Surprise and Disappointment--Naming the Fawn--Sam’s
Story--Depression After Excitement--Great Misfortune

XX  Speculations and Resolves--Fishing--Inventory of Goods and
Chattels--Roasted Fish--Palmetto Cabbage--Tour--Sea-Shells, Their
Uses--The Pelican--Nature of the Country--Still Hunting--Wild Turkeys
Again--Work on the Tent

XXI  Rainy Day--The Kitchen and Fire--Hunting the Opossum

XXII  Frank and His "Pigs"--The Cage--Walk on the Beach--Immense
Crawfish--The Museum--Naming the Island

XXIII  Their Second Sabbath on the Island, and the Way They Spent It

XXIV  Mote in the Eye, and How It Was Removed--Conch Trumpet and
Signals--Tramp--Alarm

XXV  A Hunter’s Misfortune--Relief to a Sprain--How to Avoid Being Lost
in the Woods, and to Recover One’s Course After being Lost--A Still Hunt

XXVI  Crutches in Demand--Curing Venison--Pemmican--Scalding Off a
Porker’s Hair with Leaves and Water--Turkey Trough--Solitary
Watching--Force of Imagination--Fearful Encounter--Different Modes of
Repelling Wild Beasts

XXVII  Turkey-Pen--Sucking Water Through Oozy Sand--Exploring
Tour--Appearance of the Country--"Madame Bruin"--Soldier’s Remedy for
Chafed Feet--Night in the Woods--Prairie--Indian Hut--Fruit
Trees--Singular Spring

XXVIII  Plans--Visit to the Prairie--Discoveries--Shoe Making--Waterfowl

XXIX  Removal to the Prairie--Night Robbery--Fold--Dangerous
Trap--Mysterious Signals--Bitter Disappointment

XXX  Best Cure for Unavailing Sorrow--Mary’s Adventure with a
Bear--Novel Defence--Protecting the Tent

XXXI  Hard Work--Labour-Saving Device--Discovery as to the Time of the
Year--Schemes For Amusement--Tides on the Florida Coast

XXXII  Christmas Morning--Voyage--Valuable Discovery--Hostile
Invasion--Robbery--Masterly Retreat--Battle at Last--A Quarrel Requires
Two Quarrellers--The Ghost’s Visit

XXXIII  The Cubs--Voyage to the Wreck--Stores--Horrid Sights--Trying
Predicament--Prizes--Return--Frank Needs Another Lecture

XXXIV Second Voyage to the Wreck--Fumigating Again--More Minute
Examination--Return--Accident--Dangers of Helping A Drowning
Person--Recovering a Person Apparently Drowned

XXXV  Household Arrangements--Third Visit to the Wreck--Rainy
Weather--Agreement About Work--Mary in Great Danger--Extinguishing Fire
on One’s Dress--Relief to a Burn--Conversation

XXXVI  Successful Work--Excursion--The Fish-Eagle--Different Methods of
Procuring Fire--Woodsman’s Shelter Against Rain and Hail--Novel Refuge
from Falling Trees

XXXVII  Launching the Boats--More Work, and Yet More--Eclipse of Feb.
12th, 1831--Healing By "First Intention"--Frank’s Birthday--Preparing
for a Voyage--Rain, Rain

XXXVIII  Voyage Round the Island--The Lost Boat--Strange Signals
Again--Hurricane--Night March--Helpless Vessel--Melancholy Fate--The
Rescue--Marooners’ Hospitality--Conclusion



                             ILLUSTRATIONS


"Hallo!" cried Harold, his own voice husky with emotion . . .
_Frontispiece_

The company went together to the sea shore and planted the signal

Deliberately taking aim, he discharged the whole load of bullets between
the creature’s eyes

They were not two hours in reaching the proposed landing place



                          THE YOUNG MAROONERS



                               CHAPTER I

THE COMPANY AND THEIR EMBARKATION


On Saturday, the 21st of August, 1830, a small but beautiful brig left
the harbour of Charleston, South Carolina, bound for Tampa Bay, Florida.
On board were nine passengers; Dr. Gordon, his three children, Robert,
Mary, and Frank; his sister’s son, Harold McIntosh, and four servants.

Dr. Gordon was a wealthy physician, who resided, during the winter, upon
the seaboard of Georgia, and during the summer upon a farm in the
mountains of that beautifully varied and thriving State.  His wife was a
Carolinian, from the neighbourhood of Charleston. Anna Gordon, his
sister, married a Col. McIntosh, who, after residing for twelve years
upon a plantation near the city of Montgomery, in Alabama, died, leaving
his widow with three children, and an encumbered estate. Soon after her
widowhood, Dr. Gordon paid her a visit, for the two-fold purpose of
condolence and of aiding in the settlement of her affairs.  She was so
greatly pleased with the gentlemanly bearing and the decided
intelligence of Robert, who on this occasion accompanied his father,
that she requested the privilege of placing her son Harold under her
brother’s care, until some other arrangement could be made for his
education.  Dr. Gordon was equally prepossessed with the frank manners
and manly aspect of his nephew, and it was with peculiar pleasure that
he acceded to the request.  Harold had been with his uncle about a month
previous to the period at which this history begins.

Mrs. Gordon was a woman of warm affections and cultivated mind, but of
feeble constitution.  She had been the mother of five children; but,
during the infancy of the last, her health exhibited so many signs of
decay as to convince her husband that the only hope of saving her life
was to seek for her, during the ensuing winter, a climate even more
bland than that in which she had spent her girlhood.

Tampa Bay is a military post of the United States. Dr. Gordon had
formerly visited it, and was so delighted with its soft Italian climate,
and with the wild beauty of its shores, that he had even then purchased
a choice lot in the vicinity of the fort, and ever after had looked
forward, almost with hope, to the time when he might have some excuse
for removing there.  That time had now come.  And doubting not that the
restorative powers of the climate would exert a happy influence upon his
wife’s health, he left her with her relatives, while he went to Tampa
for the purpose of preparing a dwelling suitable for her reception.

The accompanying party was larger than he had at first intended.  Robert
and Harold were to go of course; they were old enough to be his
companions; and, moreover, Harold had been sent by his mother for the
express purpose of enjoying that excellent _home education_ which had
been so happily exhibited in Robert.  But on mature reflection there
appeared to Dr. Gordon special reasons why he should also take his
eldest daughter, Mary, who was about eleven years of age, and his second
son, Frank, who was between seven and eight.  The addition of these
younger persons to the party, however, did not cause him any anxiety, or
any addition to the number of his servants; for he and his wife,
although wealthy by inheritance, and accustomed all their lives to the
help of servants, had educated their children to be as independent as
possible of unnecessary help. Indeed, Mary was qualified to be of great
assistance; for though only eleven years of age, she was an excellent
housekeeper, and during the indisposition of her mother had presided
with remarkable ability at her father’s table.  Little Frank was too
young to be useful, but he was an obedient, merry little fellow, a great
pet with everybody, and promised, by his cheerful good nature, to add
much to the enjoyment of the party; and as to the care which he needed,
Mary had only to continue that motherly attention which she had been
accustomed already to bestow.

To say a word or two more of the youths; Robert Gordon, now nearly
fourteen years of age, had a great thirst for knowledge.  Stimulated
continually by the instructive conversation of his father, who spared no
pains in his education, he drew rapidly from all the sources opened to
him by books, society, and nature.  His finely developed mind was
decidedly of a philosophic cast. Partaking, however, of the delicate
constitution of his mother, he was oftentimes averse to those athletic
exercises which became his age, and by which he would have been fitted
for a more vigorous and useful manhood.

Harold McIntosh, a half year older than his cousin, was, on the
contrary, of a robust constitution and active habit, with but little
inclination for books.  Through the inattention of a father, who seemed
to care more for manly daring than for intellectual culture, his
education had been sadly neglected.  The advantages afforded him had
been of an exceedingly irregular character, and his only incentive to
study had been the gratification of his mother, whom he tenderly loved.
For years preceding the change of his abode, a large portion of his
leisure time had been spent in visiting an old Indian of the
neighbourhood, by the name of Torgah, and gleaning from him by
conversation and practice, that knowledge of wood-craft, which nothing
but an Indian’s experience can furnish, and which usually possesses so
romantic a charm for Southern and Western (perhaps we may say for
American) boys.

The cousins had become very much attached.  Each admired the other’s
excellencies, and envied the other’s accomplishments; and the parents
had good reason to hope that they would prove of decided benefit to each
other by mutual example.

Preparing for a winter’s residence at such a place as Tampa, where, with
the exception of what was to be obtained at the fort, they would be far
removed from all the comforts and appliances of civilized life, Dr.
Gordon was careful to take with him everything which could be foreseen
as needful.  Among these may be mentioned the materials already framed
for a small dwelling-house, kitchen, and stable; ample stores of
provisions, poultry, goats (as being more convenient than cows), a pair
of horses, a buggy, and wagon, a large and beautiful pleasure boat,
books for reading, and for study, together with such furniture as habit
had made necessary to comfort.



                               CHAPTER II


MOTHER CARY’S CHICKENS--FISHING FOR TROUT--SAW-FISH--FRANK AND THE
SHARK---LOOMING---TOM STARBOARD--THE NAUTILUS--ARRIVAL AT TAMPA


Mary and Frank were affected with sea sickness shortly after entering
the rough and rolling water on the bar, and having, in consequence,
retired early to bed, they scarcely rose for six and thirty hours.
Indeed, all the passengers, except Harold, suffered in turn this usual
inconvenience of persons unaccustomed to the sea.

The only incident of interest that occurred during this part of the
voyage, was a fright received by Mary and Frank.  It was as follows:
Having partially recovered from their indisposition, they were engaged
with childish glee in fishing from the stern windows.  Directly over
head hung the jolly boat, and beneath them the water foamed and eddied
round the rudder.  Mary was fishing for Mother Cary’s chickens--a
species of "poultry" well known to those who go to sea.  Her apparatus
consisted of a strong thread, twenty or thirty yards long, having divers
loops upon it, and baited at the end with a little tuft of red.  She had
not succeeded in taking any; but one, more daring than the rest, had
become entangled in the thread, and Mary eagerly drew it towards her,
exclaiming, "I have caught it!  I have caught it!"  Ere, however, she
could bring it within arm’s length, the struggling bird had escaped.

Frank had obtained a large fish-hook, which he tied to a piece of twine,
and baited with some raw beef; and he was fishing, he said, for _trout_.
A few minutes after Mary’s adventure with the bird, he saw a great fish,
twice as long as himself, having an enormous snout, set on both sides
with a multitude of sharp teeth, following in the vessel’s wake.  He
drew himself quickly into the window, exclaiming, "Look, sister, look!"
The fish did not continue long to follow them.  It seemed to have come
on a voyage of curiosity, and having satisfied itself that this great
swimming monster, the vessel, was neither whale nor kraken, it darted
off and returned no more.

"I should not like to hook _that_ fellow," said Frank, "for I am sure I
could not draw him in."

"No," replied Mary, "and I should not like to have such an ugly fellow
on board, if we could get him here."

"Ugh! what a long ugly nose he has," said Frank.  "I wonder what he can
do with such a nose, and with all those teeth on the outside of it--only
see, sister, _teeth on his_ NOSE!"

"I do not know," she answered, "but we can ask father when we go on
deck."

"I think his nose must be long to smell things a great way off,"
conjectured Frank.

Thus they chatted until Mary called out, "See, Frank, there is a black
piece of wood sticking out of the water. See how it floats after us!
No, it cannot be a piece of wood, for it swims from side to side.  It
must be a fish. It is!  Draw in your head, Frank."

Unsuccessful in his trout fishing, Frank had attached a red silk
handkerchief to his line, and was amusing himself with letting it down
so as to touch along the water. When Mary said "it is a fish," he espied
an enormous creature, much larger than the sawfish, swimming almost
under him, and looking up hungrily to the window where they were.  A
moment after it leaped directly towards them.  Both screamed with
terror, and Frank’s wrist was jerked so violently, and pained him so
much, that he was certain his hand had been bitten off.  He was about to
scream again; but looking down, he found his hand was safe, and the next
moment saw the fish swimming away with the end of the handkerchief
hanging from its mouth.  The fish was a shark.  It had been attracted
probably by the smell of Frank’s bait, and by the sight of the red silk.
When he drew his handkerchief from the water, the fish leaped after it,
and jerked the twine which had been wrapped around his wrist.  From that
time they ceased all fishing from the cabin windows.

The history of that fishing, however, was not yet ended. On the day
following the company were much interested in watching a singular
phenomenon, which is sometimes visible at sea, though seldom in a
latitude so low as Florida.  The looming of the land had been remarkably
distinct and beautiful; at one time the land looked as if lifted far
above the water; at another the shore was seen doubled, as if the water
were a perfect reflector, and the land and its shadow were united at the
base.  But, on the present occasion, the shadow appeared in the wrong
place--united to its substance, not at the base, but at the top.  It was
a most singular spectacle to behold trees growing topsy-turvy, from land
in the sky.

The sailors, as well as passengers, looked on with a curiosity not
unmixed with awe, and an old "salt" was heard to mutter, as he ominously
shook his head,

"I never seed the likes of that but something was sure to come after.
Yes," he continued, looking sullenly at Mary and Frank, "and yesterday,
when I was at the starn, I saw a chicken flutter in a string."

"A chicken, Tom?" inquired the captain, looking at the little culprits.
"Ah, have any of my young friends been troubling the sailor’s pets?"

"No, sir," responded Frank, promptly and indignantly. "We did not
trouble anybody’s chickens.  I only went to the coop, and pulled the old
drake’s tail; but I did that to make him look at the bread I brought
him."

"I do not mean the chickens on board, but the chickens that fly around
us--Mother Cary’s chickens," said the captain, trying hard to smother
down a laugh.  "Don’t you know that they all belong to the sailors; and
that whoever troubles them is sure to bring trouble on the ship?"

"No, sir," Frank persisted, evidently convinced that the captain was
trying to tease him.  "I did not know that they belonged to anybody.  I
thought that they were all wild."

Mary, however, looked guilty.  She knew well the sailor’s superstition
about the "chickens," but having had at that time nothing to do, she had
been urged on by an irrepressible desire for fun, and until this moment
had imagined that her fishing was unnoticed.  She timidly answered,

"I did not _catch_ it, sir; I only tangled it in the thread, and it got
away before I touched it."

"Well, Tom," said the captain to the sailor, who seemed to be in doubt
after Frank’s defence whether to appear pleased or angry, "I think you
will have to forgive the offence this time, especially as the sharks
took it in hand so soon to revenge the insult, and ran away with the
little fellow’s handkerchief."

Old Tom smiled grimly at the allusion to the shark; for he had been
sitting quietly in the jolly boat picking rope, and had witnessed the
whole adventure.

The wind, which had continued favourable ever since they left
Charleston, now gradually died away.  The boatswain whistled often and
shrilly to bring it back; but it was like "calling spirits from the
vasty deep."  The sails hung listlessly down, and moved only as the
vessel rocked sluggishly upon the scarce undulating surface.  The only
circumstance which enlivened this scene was the appearance of a
nautilus, or Portuguese man-of-war. Mary was the first to discern it.
She fancied that it was a tiny toy boat, launched by some child on
shore, and wafted by the wind to this distant point.  It was certainly a
toy vessel, though one of nature’s workmanship; for there was the
floating body corresponding to the hull, there the living passenger,
there the sails spread or furled at will, and there the oars (Mary could
see them move) by which the little adventurer paddled itself along.

The young people were very anxious to obtain it. Frank went first to old
Tom Starboard (as the sailor was called who had scolded him and Mary,
but who was now on excellent terms with both) to ask whether they might
have the nautilus if they could catch it.

"Have the man-o’-war!" ejaculated the old man, opening wide his eyes,
"who ever heered of sich a thing? O yes, have it, if you can get it; but
how will you do that?"

"Brother Robert and cousin Harold will row after it and pick it up, if
the captain will let them have his boat."

Tom chuckled at the idea, and said he doubted not the captain would let
them have his boat, and be glad, too, to see the fun.  Frank then went
to the captain, and told him that old Tom had given him leave to have
the man-of-war if he could get it; and that his brother and cousin would
go out and pick it up, if the captain would let them have his boat.
With a good-natured smile, he answered,

"You are perfectly welcome to the boat, my little man; but if your
brother and cousin catch that little sailor out there, they will be much
smarter than most folks."

"Can they not pick it up?"

"Easily enough, if it will wait till they come.  But if they do not wish
to be hurt, they had better take a basket or net for dipping it from the
water."

Frank went finally to his father to obtain his consent, which after a
moment’s hesitation was granted, the doctor well knowing what the
probable result would be, yet pleased to afford them any innocent
amusement by which to enliven their voyage.

"Tom," said the captain, "lower away the jolly boat, and do you go with
these young gentlemen.  Row softly as you can, and give them the best
chance for getting what they want."

The boat was soon alongside.  Old Tom slid down by a rope, but Robert
and Harold were let down more securely.  They shoved off from the
vessel’s side, and glided so noiselessly along, that the water was
scarcely rippled.  Harold stood in the bow, and Robert amidships, one
with a basket, and the other with a scoop net, ready to dip it from the
water.  A cat creeping upon a shy bird could not have been more stealthy
in its approach.  But somehow the little sensitive thing became aware of
its danger, and ere the boat’s prow had come within ten feet, it quickly
drew in its many arms, and sank like lead beyond their sight.

"Umph!" said old Tom, with an expressive grunt, "I said you might have
it, if you could catch it."

On the first day of September the voyagers approached some placid
looking islands, tasselled above with lofty palmettoes, and varied
beneath with every hue of green, from the soft colour of the mallow to
the sombre tint of the cedar and the glossy green of the live oak.
Between these islands the vessel passed, so near to one that they could
see a herd of deer peeping at them through the thin growth of the bluff,
and a flock of wild turkeys flying to a distant grove.

Beyond the islands lay, in perfect repose, the waters of that bay whose
tranquil beauty has been a theme of admiration with every one whose
privilege it has been to look upon it.



                              CHAPTER III


TAMPA BAY--BELLEVUE--UNLADING--A DANGEROUS CUT--HOW TO STOP A BLEEDING
ARTERY--TOM STARBOARD AGAIN


Tampa Bay is a perfect gem of its kind.  Running eastward from the gulf
for twelve or fifteen miles, then turning suddenly to the North, it is
so far sheltered from within, that, except in case of severe westerly
gales, its waters are ever quiet and clear as crystal.  Its beach is
composed of sand and broken shells of such snowy whiteness as almost to
dazzle the eye, and it slopes so gradually from the land, that, in many
places, a child may wade for a great distance without danger.  To those
who bathe in its limpid waters it is a matter of curiosity to see below,
the slow crawling of the conch, while the nimble crab scampers off in
haste, and fish and prawn dart wantonly around.  When the tide is down
there is no turnpike in the world better fitted for a pleasure ride than
that smooth hard beach, from which no dust can rise, and which is of
course as level as a floor.

The spot on which Dr. Gordon proposed to build, was one commanding a
view both of the distant fort and of the open sea, or rather of the
green islands which guarded the mouth of the bay.  It already contained
a small house, with two rooms, erected by a white adventurer, and
afterwards sold to an Indian chief of the better class.  Dr. Gordon had
been originally attracted by the picturesque beauty of its location,
and, on closer inspection, still more interested by seeing on each side
of the chief’s door a large bell pepper, that, having grown for years
untouched by frost, had attained the height of eight or ten feet, and
was covered all the year round with magnificent bells of green and
crimson.  The old chief was dead, and the premises had been vacated for
more than a year.

Early in the afternoon the brig anchored opposite this spot, to which
Dr. Gordon had given the name of Bellevue.  All hands were called to
assist the ship carpenter and Sam (Dr. Gordon’s negro carpenter), to
build a pier head, or wharf, extending from the shore to the vessel;
this occupied them till nightfall, and the work of unlading continued
through a great part of the night, and past the middle of the next day.

The work was somewhat delayed by an untoward accident befalling one of
the sailors, and threatening for a time to take his life.  Peter, the
brother of Sam, was standing on the gangway, with his ax on his
shoulder, just as two of the sailors were coming out with a heavy box.
Hearing behind him the noise of their trampling, he turned quickly
around to see what it was, at the moment when the sailor, who was
walking backwards, turned his head to see that the gangway was clear.
By these two motions, quickly made, the head was brought towards the ax,
and the ax towards the head, and the consequence was that the sailor’s
temple received a terrible gash.  The blood gushed out in successive
jets, proving that the cut vessel was an artery.  Setting down the box
with all speed, the assisting sailor seized the skin of the wounded
temple and tried with both hands to bring the gaping lips together, so
as to stop the bleeding. His effort was in vain.  The blood gushed
through his fingers, and ran down to his elbows.  By this time the
captain reached the spot, and seeing that an artery was cut, directed
the sailor to press with his finger on the _heart_ side of the wound.
In a moment the jets ceased; for the arterial blood is driven by the
heart towards the extremities, and therefore moves by jets as the heart
beats, while the _venous_, or black blood, is on its way _from the
extremities_ to the heart; consequently, the pressure, which stops the
flow from a wound in either vein or artery, must correspond to the
direction in which the blood is flowing.  [_See note p._ 16.]

While the sailor was thus stopping the blood by the pressure of his
finger on the side from which the current came, the captain hastily
prepared a ball of soft oakum, about the size of a small apple.  This he
laid upon the wound, and bound tightly to the head by means of a
handkerchief.  It is probable the flow might have been staunched had the
compress been sufficiently tight, but for some reason the blood forced
itself through all the impediments, saturated the tarred oakum, and
trickled down the sailor’s face.  During this scene Dr. Gordon was at
his house on the bluff.  Hearing through a runner, dispatched by the
captain, that a man was bleeding to death, he pointed to a quantity of
cobwebs that hung in large festoons from the unceiled roof, and directed
him to bring a handful of these to the vessel, remarking, that "_nothing
stopped blood more quickly than cobwebs_."

The sailor was by this time looking pale and ready to faint.  Dr. Gordon
inquired of the captain what had been done, pronounced it all right, and
declared that he should probably have tried the same plan, but further
remarked,

"This artery in the temple is oftentimes exceedingly difficult to manage
by pressure.  You may stop for a time the bleeding of _any_ artery by
pressing with sufficient force upon the right place; or, if necessary to
adopt so summary a mode, you may obliterate it altogether by _burning
with a hot iron_.  But in the present case I will show you an easier
plan."

While speaking he had removed the bandages, and taken out his lancet;
and, to the captain’s amazement, in uttering the last words, he cut the
bleeding artery in two, saying, "Now bring me some cold water."

The captain was almost disposed to stay the doctor’s arm, supposing that
he was about to make a fatal mistake; but when he saw the jets of blood
instantly diminish, he exclaimed, "What new wonder is this!  Here I have
been trying for half an hour to staunch the blood by _closing_ the
wound, while you have done it in a moment, by making the wound greater."

"It is one of the secrets of the art," responded the doctor, "but a
secret which I will explain by the fact, that _severed_ arteries always
contract and close more or less perfectly; whereas, if they should be
only _split_ or _partly cut_, the same contraction will keep the orifice
open and bleeding.  I advise you never to try it, except when you know
the artery to be small, or when every other expedient has failed.  But
here comes the bucket.  See what a fine styptic cold water is."

He washed the wound till it was thoroughly cooled; after which he
brought its lips together by a few stitches made with a bent needle, and
putting on the cobwebs and bandage, pronounced the operation complete.

"Live and larn!" muttered old Tom Starboard, as he turned away from this
scene of surgery.  "I knew it took a smart man to manage a ship; but
I’ll be hanged if there a’n’t smart people in this world besides
sailors."


The main arteries in a man’s limbs are _deeply buried and lie in the
same general direction with the inner seams of his coat sleeves and of
his pantaloons_.  When one of them is cut--which may be known by the
light red blood flowing in jets, as above described--all the bandages in
the world will be insufficient to staunch it, except imperfectly, and
for a time, it must be tied or cauterized.  If any one knows the
position of the wounded artery, the best bandage for effecting a
temporary stoppage of the blood, is the _tourniquet_, which is made to
press like a big strong finger directly upon it on the side from which
the blood is flowing.  A good substitute for the tourniquet may be
extemporized out of a handkerchief or other strong bandage, and a piece
of corn-cob two inches long, or a suitable piece of wood or stone.  This
last is to be placed so as to press directly over the artery; and the
bandage to be made very tight by means of a stick run through it so as
to twist it up with great power.



                               CHAPTER IV


CONFUSION--HOUSEKEEPING IN A HURRY--FIRST NIGHT ON SHORE--COMPANY TO
DINNER--"BLUE EYED MARY"--ROBERT AT PRAYER-MEETING--DANGER OF DESCENDING
AN OLD WELL--RECOVERING A KNIFE DROPPED IN A WELL


It is scarcely possible, for one who has not tried it, to conceive the
utter confusion which ensues on removing, in a hurry, one’s goods and
chattels to a place too small for their accommodation.  Oh! the
wilderness of boxes, baskets, bundles, heaped in disorder everywhere!
and the perfect bewilderment into which one is thrown, when attempting
the simplest act of household duty.

"Judy," said Mary to the cook, the evening that they landed, and while
the servants were hurrying to bring under shelter the packages which Dr.
Gordon was unwilling to leave exposed to the night air, "Judy, the sun
is only about an hour high.  Make haste and get some tea ready for
supper.  Father says you need not _cook_ anything, we can get along on
cheese and crackers."

Well, surely, it sounded like a trifle to order only a little tea.  Mary
thought so, and so did Judy,--it could be got ready in a minute.  But
just at that moment of unreadiness, there were some difficulties in the
way which neither cook nor housekeeper anticipated. To have tea for
supper ordinarily requires that one should have fire and water, and a
tea kettle and a tea pot, and the tea itself, and cups and saucers and
spoons, and sugar and milk, and a sugar pot and milk pot, besides a
number of other things.  But how these things are to be brought
together, in their proper relation, and in a hurry, when they are all
thrown promiscuously in a heap, is a question more easily asked than
answered.

The simple order to prepare a little tea threw poor Judy into a fluster.
"Yes, misses," she mechanically replied, "but wey I gwine fin’ de tea?"

Mary was about to say, "In the sideboard of course," knowing that at
home it was always kept there, when suddenly she recollected that the
present sideboard was a new one, packed with table and bed clothes, and
moreover that it was nailed up fast in a long box.  Then, where was the
tea?  O, now she recalled the fact that the tea for immediate use was
corked up in a tin can and stowed away together with the teapot and
cups, saucers, spoons and other concomitants, in a certain green box.
But where was the green box?  She and Judy peered among the confused
piles, and at last spied it under another box, on which was a large
basket that was covered with a pile of bedding.

Judy obtained the tea and tea-pot and kettle, but until that moment had
neglected to order a fire; so she went to the front door to look for her
husband.

"Peter!" she called.  Peter was nowhere about the house.  She saw him
below the bluff on his way to the landing.  So, running a little nearer,
and raising her voice to a high musical pitch, she sung out, "Petah-h!
OH-H!  Petah!  Oh!  PEE-tah!"

Peter came, and learning what was wanted, went to the landing for his
ax, and having brought her a stick of green oak wood on his shoulder,
sallied out once more to find some kindling.

While he was on this business, Judy prepared to get some water.  "Wey my
bucket?" she inquired, looking around.  "Who tek my bucket?  I sho’
somebody moob um; fuh I put um right down yuh, under my new
calabash."[#]


[#] "Where is my bucket?  Who has taken my bucket?  I am sure somebody
has moved it, for I put it right down here under my new gourd."


But nobody had disturbed it.  Judy had set it, half full of water, on
the ground outside the door, in the snuggest place she could find; but a
thirsty goat had found it, and another thirsty goat had fought for it,
and between the two, it had been upset, and rolled into a corner where
it lay concealed by a bundle.  By the time Judy got another supply of
water ready it was growing dark.  Peter had not made the fire because he
was not certain where she preferred to have it built; so he waited, like
a good, obedient husband, until she should direct him.

In the meantime, Mary was in trouble too.  Where was the loaf sugar to
be placed in cracking it, and what should she use for a hammer?  Then
the candle box must be opened, and candles and candle-sticks brought
together, and some place contrived for placing them after they were
lighted.

But perseverance conquers all things.  Tea _was_ made, sugar _was_
cracked, and candles were both lighted and put in position.  Bed-time
came soon after, and weary enough with their labour, they all laid down
to enjoy their first sleep at Bellevue.  Mary and Frank occupied a
pallet spread behind a pile of boxes in one room, while their father and
the older boys lay upon cloaks, and whatever else they could convert
into a temporary mattress, in the other; and the servants tumbled
themselves upon a pile of their own clothing, which they had thrown
under a shelter erected beside the house.

Early the next morning, two convenient shelters were hastily
constructed, and the two rooms of the house were so far relieved of
their confused contents, as to allow space for sitting, and almost for
walking about.  But ere this was half accomplished, Mary, whose sense of
order and propriety was very keen, was destined to be thrown into quite
an embarrassing situation.

Major Burke, the commandant of Fort Brooke, was a cousin of Mrs. Gordon,
and an old college friend of the Doctor, and hearing by the captain of
the brig of the arrival of the new comers, he rode over in the forenoon
of the next day to see them.  Mary’s mind associated so indissolubly the
idea of _company_, with the stately etiquette of Charleston and
Savannah, that the sight of a well-dressed stranger approaching their
door, threw her almost into a fever.

"Oh! father," she cried, as soon as she could beckon him out of the back
door, "what shall we do?"

"Do?" he answered, laughing.  "Why, nothing at all. What can we do?"

"But is he not going to dine with us?" enquired she.

"I presume so," he replied.  "I am sure I shall ask him; but what of
that?"

"What, father, dine with us?" she remonstrated, "when our only table
unboxed is no bigger than a light stand, and we have scarcely room for
that!"

"Yes," he said, "we will do the best we can for him now, and hope to do
better some other time. Perhaps you will feel less disturbed when you
realize that he is your cousin and a soldier.  Come, let me make you
acquainted with him."

Mary was naturally a neat girl, and although her hands were soiled with
labour, she was soon ready to obey her father’s invitation.  Slipping
into the back room, by a low window, she washed her hands and face, and
brushed into order the ringlets that clustered around her usually sunny
face, and then came modestly into the apartment where the two gentlemen
were sitting.

"John, this is my eldest daughter, Mary," said the Doctor, as she
approached; "and Mary this is your cousin, Major Burke, of whom you have
heard your mother and me so often speak."

The two cousins shook hands very cordially, and appeared to be mutually
pleased.

"She is my housekeeper for the present," her father continued, "and has
been in some trouble" (here Mary looked reproachfully at him), "that she
could not give you a more fitting reception."

"Ah, indeed," said the Major, with a merry twinkle of his eye, "I
suspect that when my little cousin learns how often we soldiers are glad
to sit on the bare ground, and to feed, Indian fashion, on Indian fare,
she will feel little trouble about giving us entertainment."

Mary’s embarrassment was now wholly dispelled. Her cousin was fully
apprised of their crowded and confused condition, and was ready to
partake with good humour of whatever they could hastily prepare.

The dinner passed off far more agreeably than she supposed possible.  By
her father’s direction, a dining table was unboxed and spread under the
boughs of a magnificent live oak, and Judy, having ascertained where the
stores were to be found, gave them not only a dinner, but a dessert to
boot, which they all enjoyed with evident relish.  Ah!--black and ugly
as she was, that Judy was a jewel.

The Major had come thus hastily upon them for the purpose of insisting
that the whole family should occupy quarters at the Fort as his guests,
until the new house, intended for their future reception, should be
completed. To this Dr. Gordon objected that his presence was necessary
for the progression of the work, but promised that at the earliest
period when he could be spared for a few days, he would accept the
invitation and bring the young people with him.

The visitor did not take his leave until the shades of evening warned
him of the lapse of time.  Mary had become much more interested, in
consequence of her first distress and the pleasant termination, than she
possibly could have been without these experiences; and as the whole
family stood at the front door, watching his rapidly diminishing figure,
she perpetrated a blunder which gave rise to much merriment.

Her father had remarked, "It will be long after dark before he can reach
the Fort."

Mary rejoined, "Yes, sir, but," looking with an abstracted air, first at
the table where they had enjoyed their pleasant repast, then at the
darkening form of the soldier, and finally at the full moon which began
to pour its silver radiance over the bay, "it will make no difference
tonight, for it will be blue-eyed Mary."

All turned their eyes upon her in perplexity, to gather from her
countenance the interpretation of her language; but Mary was still
looking quietly at the moon.  Harold thought the girl had become
suddenly deranged.

Robert, who had observed her abstraction of mind, and who suspected the
truth, began to laugh.  Her father turned to her and asked, with a tone
so divided between the ludicrous and the grave, that it was hard to tell
which predominated, "What do you mean by ’blue-eyed Mary’?"

"Did I say blue-eyed Mary?" she exclaimed, reddening from her temples to
her finger ends, and then giving way to a fit of laughter so hearty and
so prolonged, that she could scarcely reply, "I meant _moonlight_."[#]


[#] It is but justice to say that this absurd mistake was _an actual
occurrence_.  For many a day afterwards the members of the company
present on that occasion seldom alluded to moonlight among each other,
but by the name of "blue-eyed Mary."


There was no resisting the impulse, all laughed with her, and long
afterwards did it furnish a theme for merriment.  Robert, however, was
disposed to be so wicked on the occasion, that his father deemed it
necessary to stop his teasing, by turning the laugh against him.

"It is certainly," said he, "the most ridiculous thing I have witnessed
since Robert’s queer prank at the prayer-meeting."

As soon as the word "prayer-meeting" was uttered, Robert’s countenance
fell.

"What is it, uncle?" inquired Harold.

"O, do tell it, father," begged Mary, clapping her hands with delight.

"About a year since," said Dr. Gordon, "I attended a prayer-meeting in
the city of Charleston, where thirty or forty intelligent people were
assembled at the house of their pastor.  It was night.  Robert occupied
a chair near the table, beside which the minister officiated, and where
he could be seen by every person in the room: Not long after the
minister’s address began, Robert’s head was seen to nod; and every once
in a while his nods were so expressive, apparently, of assent to the
remarks made, as to bring a smile upon the face of more than one of the
company.  But he was not content with nodding.  Soon his head fell back
upon the chair, and he snored most musically, with his mouth wide open.
It was then nearly time for another prayer, and I was very much in hopes
that when we moved to kneel, he would be awakened by the noise.  But no
such good fortune was in store for me.  He slept through the whole
prayer; and then, to make the scene as ridiculous as possible, he awoke
as the people were in the act of rising, and, supposing they were about
to kneel, he deliberately knelt down beside his chair, and kept that
position until he was seen by every person present. There was a slight
pause in the services, I think the clergyman himself was somewhat
disconcerted, and afraid to trust his voice.  Poor Robert soon suspected
his mistake.  He peeped cautiously around, then arose and took his seat
with a very silly look.  I am glad it happened.  He has never gone to
sleep in meeting since."

And from that time forth Mary never heard Robert allude to her
moonlight; indeed he was so much cut down by this story, that for a day
or two he was more than usually quiet.  At last, however, an incident
occurred which restored to him the ascendancy he had hitherto held over
his cousin, by illustrating the importance of possessing a proper store
of sound, practical knowledge.

The two had gone to examine an old well, near the house, and were
speculating upon the possibility of cleansing it from its trash and
other impurities, so as to be fit for use, when Harold’s knife slipped
from his hand and fell down the well.  It did not fall into the water,
but was caught by a half decayed board that floated on its surface.

"I cannot afford to lose that knife," said Harold, looking around for
something to aid his descent, "I must go down after it."

"You had better be careful how you do that," interposed Robert, "it may
not be safe."

"What," asked Harold, "are you afraid of the well’s caving?"

"Not so much of its caving," replied Robert, "as of the bad air that may
have collected at the bottom."

Harold snuffed at the well’s mouth to detect such ill odours as might be
there, and said, "I perceive no smell."

"You mistake my meaning," remarked Robert.  "In all old wells, vaults
and places under ground, there is apt to collect a kind of air or gas,
like that which comes from burning charcoal, that will quickly suffocate
any one who breathes it.  Many a person has lost his life by going into
such a place without testing it beforehand."

"Can you tell whether there is any of it here?" asked Harold.

"Very easily, with a little fire," answered Robert. "AIR THAT WILL NOT
SUPPORT FLAME, WILL NOT SUPPORT LIFE."

They stuck a splinter of rich pine in the cleft end of a pole, and,
lighting it by a match, let it softly down the well.  To Harold’s
astonishment the flame was extinguished as suddenly as if it had been
dipped in water, before it had gone half way to the bottom.

"Stop, let us try that experiment again," said he.

They tried it repeatedly, and with the same result, except that the
heavy poisonous air below being stirred by the pole, had become somewhat
mingled with the pure air above, and the flame was not extinguished
quite so suddenly as at first; it burnt more and more dimly as it
descended, and then went out.

"I do believe there is something there," said he at last, "and I
certainly shall not go down, as I intended. But how am I to get my
knife?"

"By using father’s magnet, which is a strong one," replied Robert.  "Let
us go and ask him for it."

On relating the circumstances to Dr. Gordon, he said, "You have made a
most fortunate escape, Harold.  Had you descended that well, filled as
it is with carbonic acid gas, you would have become suddenly sick and
faint, and would probably have fallen senseless before you could have
called for help.  _Make it a rule never to descend such a place without
first trying the purity of its air, as you did just now_."

"But can we not get that bad air out?" asked Harold.

"Yes, by various means, and some of them very easy," replied his uncle.
"One is by exploding gunpowder as far down as possible; another is by
lowering down and drawing up many times a thickly leaved bush, so as to
pump out the foul air, or at least to mix it largely with the pure.  But
your knife can be obtained without all that trouble.  Robert, can you
not put him upon a plan?"

"I have already mentioned it, and we have come to ask if you will not
let us have your magnet," replied Robert.  "But," continued he
smilingly, "I do not think that we shall have any need this time for the
looking-glass."

Harold looked from one to the other for an explanation, and his uncle
said:

"Last year Robert dropped his knife down a well, as you did, and
proposed to recover it by means of a strong magnet tied to a string.
But the well was deep and very dark, and after fishing a long time in
vain, he came to me for help.  I made him bring a large looking-glass
from the house, and by means of it reflected such a body of sun-light
down the well that we could plainly see his knife at the bottom, stowed
away in a corner.  The magnet was strong enough to bring it safely to
the top.  You also may try the experiment."

With thanks, Harold took the offered magnet, tied it to a string, and
soon recovered his knife.



                               CHAPTER V


RILEY--A THUNDERSTORM--ASCERTAINING THE DISTANCE OF OBJECTS BY
SOUND--SECURITY AGAINST LIGHTNING--MEANS OF RECOVERING LIFE FROM
APPARENT DEATH BY LIGHTNING


A few days after this incident another visitor was seen coming from Fort
Brooke.  This person was not a horseman, but some one in a boat, who
seemed even from a distance to possess singular dexterity in the use of
the paddle.  His boat glided over the smooth surface of the bay as if
propelled less by his exertions than by his will.  Dr. Gordon viewed him
through the spy glass, and soon decided him to be an Indian, who was
probably bringing something to sell.

It so turned out.  He was a half-breed, by the name of Riley, who
frequently visited the fort with venison and turkeys to sell, and who on
the present occasion brought with him in addition a fine green turtle.
Major Burke, conceiving that his friends at Bellevue would prize these
delicacies more than they at the fort, to whom they were no longer
rarities, had directed the Indian to bring them, with his compliments,
to Dr. Gordon.

Riley was a fine looking fellow, of about thirty years of age--tall,
keen-eyed, straight as an arrow, and with a pleasing open countenance.
He brought a note from the fort, recommending him for honesty and
faithfulness.

Dr. Gordon was so much pleased with his general appearance, that he
engaged him to return the following week with another supply of game,
and prepared to remain several days, in case he should be needed in
raising the timbers of the new house.

Toward the close of the week, the weather gave indications of a change.
A heavy looking cloud rose slowly from the west, and came towards them,
muttering and growling in great anger.  It was a tropical thunderstorm.
The distant growls were soon converted into peals.  The flashes
increased rapidly in number and intensity, and became terrific.  Mary
and Frank nestled close to their father; and even stout-hearted Harold
looked grave, as though he did not feel quite so comfortable as usual.

"That flash was uncommonly keen," Robert remarked, with an unsteady
voice.  "Do you not think, father, it was very near?"

Instead of replying, his father appeared to be busy counting; and when
the crash of thunder was heard, jarring their ears, and making the earth
quiver, he replied,

"Not very.  Certainly not within a mile."

"But, uncle, can you calculate the distance of the lightning?" Harold
asked.

"Unquestionably, or I should not have spoken with so much confidence.
Robert imagined, as most people do, that a flash is near in proportion
to its brightness; but that is no criterion.  You must calculate its
distance by the time which elapses between the flash and the report.
Sound travels at the rate of about a mile in five seconds.  Should any
of you like to calculate the distance of the next flash, put your finger
on your pulse, and count the number of beats before you hear the
thunder."

An opportunity soon occurred.  A vivid flash was followed after a few
seconds by a roll, and then by a peal of thunder.  All were busy
counting their pulses. Mary ceased when she heard the first roll,
exclaiming "Five!"  The others held on until they heard the loud report,
and said "Seven."  Dr. Gordon reported only six beats of his own pulse,
remarking,

"That flash discharged itself just one mile distant. Our pulses are
quicker than seconds; and yours quicker than mine.  Sound will travel a
mile during six beats of a person of my age, and during seven of persons
of yours."

"But, father," argued Mary, "I surely heard the thunder rolling when I
said _five_."

"So did I," he answered; "and that proves that although the lightning
discharged itself upon the earth at the distance of a mile, it
_commenced_ to flow from a point nearer overhead."

The young people were so deeply interested in these calculations, that
they felt less keenly than they could have imagined possible the
discomfort of the storm. This was Dr. Gordon’s intention.  But at last
Mary and Frank winced so uneasily, when flashes of unusual brightness
appeared, that their father remarked, "It is a weakness, my children, to
be afraid of lightning that is seen and of thunder that is heard--_they
are spent and gone_.  Persons never see the flash that kills them--it
does its work before they can see, hear, or feel."

At this instant came a flash so keen, that it seemed to blaze into their
very eyes, and almost simultaneously came a report like the discharge of
a cannon.  Dr. Gordon’s lecture was in vain; all except him and Harold
started to their feet.  Frank ran screaming to his father. Mary rushed
to a pile of bedding, and covered herself with the bed-clothing.  Robert
looked at Mary’s refuge, with a manifest desire to seek a place beside
her.  Harold fixed his eye upon his uncle, with a glance of keen
inquiry.

"This is becoming serious," said the Doctor anxiously. "Something on the
premises has been struck.  Stay here, children, while I look after the
servants.  _Your safest place is in the middle of the room_, as far as
possible from the chimney and walls, along which the lightning passes."

While giving these directions, at the same time that he seized his hat,
cloak, and umbrella, William rushed in to say that the horses had been
struck down and killed.  They were stabled under a shelter erected near
a tall palmetto--a tree so seldom struck by lightning, as to be regarded
by the Indians as exempt from danger. The fluid had descended the trunk,
tearing a great hole in the ground, and jarring down a part of the loose
enclosure.

"Call all hands!" said the Doctor.  "Throw off the shelter instantly, to
let the rain pour upon them; and bring also your buckets and pails."

On his going out, the children crowded to the door, to see, if possible,
the damage that was done; but he waved them all back, with the
information that during a thunder storm an open door or window is one of
the most dangerous places about a house.  They quickly retired; Mary and
Frank going to the bed, Robert taking a chair to the middle of the room,
and drawing up his feet from the floor.  Harold’s remark was
characteristic. "I wish uncle would let me help with the horses.  I am
sure that that is the safest place in this neighbourhood; for I never
saw lightning strike twice on the same spot."

One of the horses was speedily revived by the falling rain.  He
staggered to his feet, then moved painfully away, smelling at his hoofs,
to ascertain what ailed them. The other continued for an hour or more,
to all appearance, dead.  The servants dipped buckets and pails full of
water from pools made by the rain, and poured them upon the lifeless
body, until it was perfectly drenched. They had given up all hope of a
restoration.  William’s eyes looked watery (for he was the coachman) and
he heaved a sorrowful sigh over his brute companion. "Poor Tom!" he
said, "what will Jerry do now for a mate?"  Another half hour passed
without any sign of returning life; and even William would have ceased
his efforts, had it not been for his master’s decided "Pour on water!
Keep pouring!"

At last there appeared a slight twitching in one of the legs.  Poor Tom
was not dead after all.  William gave a "Hurra boys! he’s coming to," in
which the others joined with unfeigned delight.  "Now, William," said
his master, "do you and Sam take the strips of blanket that you rub
with, and see if you cannot start his blood to flowing more rapidly.
Tom will soon open his eyes."

Two of the servants continued to pour on water, the others to rub
violently the head, neck, legs and body. The reviving brute moved first
one foreleg, then the other, while the hinder legs were yet paralysed.
Then he opened his eyes, raised his head, and made an effort to turn
himself.  As soon as he was able to swallow, Dr. Gordon ordered a drench
of camphorated spirit, and left him with directions to the servants.
"Listen all of you.  I have shown you how to treat a horse struck down
by lightning.  Do you treat a person in the same way. Pour on water by
the bucket full, until he gives some signs of life; then rub him hard,
and give him some heating drink.  _Don’t give up trying for half a
day_."

The storm passed over.  Tom and Jerry were once more united under the
skilful management of William, who frequently boasted that "they were
the toughest creatures in creation, even lightning could not kill them."



                               CHAPTER VI


THE ONLY WAY TO STUDY--TAKING COLD--RILEY’S FAMILY--THE HARE
LIP---FISHING FOR SHEEPHEAD---FRANK CHOKED WITH A FISH BONE--HIS
RELIEF--HIS STORY OF THE SHEEP’S HEAD AND DUMPLINGS--"TILL THE WARFARE
IS OVER"


Dr. Gordon began to feel dissatisfied that his children were losing so
much valuable time from study; for the house was yet loaded with baggage
which could be put nowhere else, and their time was broken up by
unavoidable interruptions. Until a more favourable opportunity,
therefore, he required only that they should devote one hour every day
to faithful study, and that they should spend the rest of their time as
usefully as possible.

His theory of education embraced two very simple, but very efficacious
principles.  First, to _excite in his children the desire of acquiring
knowledge_; and, secondly, to train them to _give their undivided
attention to the subject in hand_.  This last, he said, was the only way
to study; and he told them, in illustration, the story of Sir Isaac
Newton, who, on being asked by a friend, in view of his prodigious
achievements, what was the difference, so far as he was conscious,
between his mind and those of ordinary people, answered simply in the
power of concentration.

Harold had been greatly discouraged at finding himself so far behind his
cousins in the art of study, but by following the advice of his uncle,
he soon experienced a great and an encouraging change.  At first, it is
true, he could scarcely give his whole mind to any study more than five
minutes at a time, without a sense of weariness; but he persevered, and
day by day his powers increased so manifestly that he used frequently to
say to himself, "_concentration is everything--everything in study_."

But Dr. Gordon’s instructions were by no means confined to books and the
school-room; he used every favourable opportunity to give information on
points that promised to be useful.

"Mary," said he one day, to his daughter, who was sitting absorbed in
study, beside a window through which the sea breeze was pouring freshly
upon her head and shoulders, and who had, in consequence, began to
exhibit symptoms of a cold, "Mary, my daughter, remove your seat.  Do
you not know that to allow a current of air like that to blow upon a
part of your person, is almost sure to produce sickness?"

"I know it, father," she replied, "and I intended some time since to
change my seat, but the sum is so hard that I forgot all about the
wind."

"I am glad to see you capable of such fixedness of mind," said he, "but
I will take this opportunity to say to you, and to the rest, that there
are two seasons, especially, when you should be on your guard against
these dangerous currents of air,--one is when you are asleep, and the
other is when your mind is absorbed in thought.  At these times the
pores of the skin are more than usually open, as may be seen by the flow
of perspiration; and a current of cool air, at such a time, especially
if partial, is almost certain to give cold."

"But how can we be on our guard, father," asked Mary with a smile, "when
we are too far gone in sleep or in thought, to know what we are about!"

"We must take the precaution beforehand," he replied.  "Make it a rule
never to sleep nor to study in a partial current of air; and also
remember that _the first moment_ you perceive the tingling sensation of
an incipient cold, you must obey the warning which kind nature gives you
or else must bear the consequences."

Mary’s cold was pretty severe.  For days she suffered from cough and
pain.  But that day’s lecture on currents of air, followed by so
impressive an illustration, was probably more useful than her lesson in
arithmetic; certainly it was longer remembered and more frequently acted
upon.

True to his promise, Riley appeared at the appointed time with his
supply of game.  He said, however, that he should remain only a few
days, because he had left his young wife sick.  It interested Mary not a
little to perceive that a savage could feel and act so much like a
civilized being; and she was trying to think of something complimentary
to say upon this occasion, when he threw her all aback, by adding, that
this was his _youngest_ and _favourite_ wife.

"What! have you two wives?" she exclaimed in horror.

"Yes, only two, now; one dead."

Her mind was sadly changed at this evidence of heathenism; but ere the
day was over she received a still more impressive proof.

Dr. Gordon perceiving that he looked sad whenever an allusion was made
to his home, he asked him if his wife was seriously sick, to which he
answered, No.

"When I go home, last week," said he, "my squaw had a fine boy, big and
fat.  My heart glad.  But I look and see a big hole in his mouth, from
here to here," pointing from the lip to the nose.

"That is what we call a hare lip," said Dr. Gordon, "it is not
uncommon."

"I sorry very much," continued Riley.  "Child too ugly."

"But it can be easily cured," observed Dr. Gordon.

Riley looked at him inquiringly, and Dr. Gordon added, "O, yes, it can
be easily cured.  If you will bring your child here, any time, I will
stop that hole in half an hour; and there will be no sign of it left,
except a little scar, like a cut."

The Indian shook his head mournfully, "Can’t bring him.  Too late now."

"O, the child is dead?" inquired the Doctor.  "I am sorry."

"Dead now," replied Riley.  "I look at him one day, two day, tree day.
Child too ugly.  I throw him in the water."

"What!" exclaimed Dr. Gordon, suddenly remembering that it was the
practice of the Indians to destroy all their deformed children.  "You
did not drown it?"

"Child ugly too much," answered Riley, with a softened tone of voice.
"Child good for nothing.  I throw him in the water."

Dr. Gordon was not only shocked, as any man of feeling would have been,
under the circumstances, but he felt as a Christian, whose heart moved
with compassion towards his dark skinned brother.  He uttered not one
word of rebuke or of condemnation; his time for speaking to the purpose
had not yet come; and he carefully avoided everything in word and look
which should widen the space which naturally exists between the white
man and the Indian, the Christian and the pagan.

Poor Mary!  She no sooner heard this confession, than she sidled away
from her interesting savage, until wholly beyond his reach, and could
scarcely look at him during his stay that week, without feelings akin to
fear.  An Indian, she learned, was an Indian after all.

While Riley was there the boys often borrowed his boat, and Harold tried
to imitate his dexterity in the use of the paddle.  They soon became
great friends.  On one of their excursions for fish, they went, by his
direction, around a point of land where the head of a fallen live oak
lay in the water, and its partially decayed limbs were encrusted with
barnacles and young oysters. There they soon caught a large supply of
very fine fish of various sorts, particularly of the sheephead,--a
delicious fish, shaped somewhat like the perch, only stouter and
rounder, beautifully marked with broad alternate bands of black and
white around the body, and varying in weight from half a pound to ten or
fifteen pounds.

No one was more delighted than Frank, with the result of the excursion;
for he was fond, as a cat, of everything in the shape of fish.  But, it
is said, there is no rose without its thorn; and so he found in the
present case.  He was enjoying, rather voraciously, the luxury of his
favourite food, when a disorderly bone lodged crossways in the narrow
part of his throat, and gave him excessive pain.  Frank was a polite
boy.  Avoiding, as far as possible, disturbing the others by his
misfortune, he slipped quietly from the table, and tried every means to
relieve himself.  But it was not until he had applied to his father,
and, under his direction, swallowed a piece of hard bread, that he was
able to resume his place.[#]


[#] Unwilling to mislead any of my young readers, by describing
expedients and remedies that might not serve them in case of necessity,
I have submitted my manuscript to several persons for inspection, and
among others to a judicious physician and surgeon.  It never occurred to
me that in mentioning so simple a thing as swallowing a crust for the
removal of a fish-bone, I could possibly do harm.  To my surprise,
however, my medical friend observed, that he supposed Dr. Gordon knew
that the fishbone, which Frank swallowed, was _small_ and _flexible_, or
he would not have used that expedient.

"If," said he, "the substance which lodges in the throat is so stiff (a
pin for instance) as not to be easily bent, the attempt to force it down
by swallowing a piece of bread may be unsafe; it may lacerate the lining
membrane, or, being stopped by the offending substance, it may cause the
person to be worse choked than before."

"But, Doctor, what should the poor fellow do in such a case?" he was
asked.

"I suspect Dr. Gordon would have used a large feather?"

"Indeed!"

"Yes, he would have rumpled its plume, so as to reverse the direction of
the feathery part, and would have thrust that down the throat, below the
pin or bone.  On withdrawing the feather, the substance would be either
found adhering to its wet sides, or raised on end, so that it could be
easily swallowed."

With many thanks for this suggestion, the promise was made that the
young readers of Robert and Harold should have the benefit of his
advice.  But I think that the best plan is to avoid the fish-bones.


Being not quite so humble as he was polite, however, he began to condemn
the fish instead of himself for his accident.  His father told him he
had no right to say one word against the fish, which was remarkably free
from bones, and was just preparing to give him a gentle lecture on
gormandizing, when Frank, foreseeing what was to come, was adroit enough
to seize a moment’s pause in the conversation, and to divert the
subject, by asking with a very droll air,

"I wonder, father, if these sheephead are of the same kind with that one
that butted the dumplings?"

"I do not know what dumplings you mean," said his father.

"O, did you never hear the story of the sheep’s head and the dumplings?
Well, brother Robert can tell you all about it."

"No, no," returned his father, who saw through the little fellow’s
stratagem.  "No, no, Frank, it is your own story, and you must go
through with it."

This was a trial, for Frank had never in his life made so long an
extempore speech in the presence of the assembled family, as he had now
imposed upon himself. But, in the desperation of the moment, he mustered
courage, and thus spoke,

"There was once an old woman that left her little boy to mind a pot that
had in it a sheep’s head and some dumplings boiling for dinner, while
she went to a neighbour’s house to attend some sort of preaching. The
little boy did not seem to have much sense; and had never minded a pot
before; so when he saw the water boiling over, and the sheep’s head and
the dumplings bobbing about in every direction, he became frightened and
ran for his mother, bawling at the top of his voice, ’Mammy! the
dumplings! run!’  She saw him coming in among the people, and tried to
stop his bawling by shaking her head and winking her eyes at him; but he
would not stop.  He crowded right up to her, saying, ’Mammy, you needn’t
to wink nor to blink, for the sheep’s head is butting all the dumplings
out of the pot!’"

Throughout this story Frank did not make a balk or a blunder.  He kept
straight on, as if brimful of fun, and uttered the last sentence with
such an affectation of grave terror, as produced a universal laugh.

His father had tried hard to keep up his dignity for the intended
lecture, but it also gave way, and he contented himself with saying,

"Well, master Frank, I see you are at your old tricks again.  And since
you show such an aptitude for putting people into good humour, there
will be reason to think you are in fault, if you ever put them out.
Harold, has your aunt ever told you how Frank once _kissed himself out
of a scrape with her_?"

Harold said she had not, and his uncle went on,

"It was when he was between three and four years of age.  His mother had
taken him on a visit to a friend of hers in the neighbourhood of
Charleston, and he was allowed to sit at the dinner table with the
ladies. But he became so disorderly and perverse that his mother, after
an ineffectual reprimand or two, ordered him to go up stairs, meaning to
her room above.  The language was indefinite, and Frank interpreted it
to suit his own pleasure.  He went up stairs, it is true, but only half
way, where he seated himself so as to look at the table and the company,
and then began to drum with his feet and to talk loud enough to be
heard,

"’H-m-n-h!  This is a very good place.  I love these nice stairs.  I’d
rather be here than anywhere else in the world.  I don’t want any of
that old dinner!’

"This was very rude language, and more especially when used in a house
where he was a guest.  His mother was so much mortified that as soon as
dinner was over she took him to her room, gave him a sound strapping,
and put him in a corner, where he was to stay, until he promised to be a
good boy.  Then she lay down on her bed as if to take a nap, but in
reality to meditate what course to pursue towards her rude little child.

"Frank, you know, is fond of singing.  There was a wild religious melody
which he had learnt about that time, and which he was constantly
singing.  It had a short chorus at the end of every line, and a long
chorus at the end of each verse, running this way,

"’Children of the heavenly King,
  Till the warfare is over, Hallelujah,
As ye journey sweetly sing,
  Till the warfare is over, Hallelujah.’

I forget the long chorus.

"Well, your aunt had not been upon the bed more than a few minutes,
before Frank quietly slipped from his corner and stole close to the
bedside to make friends. But his mother would not notice him.  He bent
over and gave her a kiss.  Still she looked displeased.  He tried
another kiss, but she turned away her face.  This was a damper.  Frank
was disheartened, but not in despair. He leaned over the bed, making a
long reach, to try the effect of a third kiss.

"’There, Frank,’ said his mother, in a displeased tone, ’that is enough.
You need not kiss me any more.’

"’Yes, mother,’ said he, leaning far over, and taking hold of her, ’I
mean to kiss you _till the warfare is over, Hallelujah_.’

"I need not say that, from that moment, the warfare _was_ over, and
Frank behaved himself well through the remainder of the visit.

"And now, since he has managed to escape the lecture I was about to give
him on eating too fast, I hope he will hereafter cultivate the
recollection of _today and the fish-bones_."



                              CHAPTER VII


BUG IN THE BAR--VISIT TO PORT BROOKE--EVADING BLOODHOUNDS--CONTEST WITH
DOGS AND MEANS OF DEFENCE--AMUSING ESCAPE FROM A WILD BULL AND
CONVERSATION ON THE SUBJECT


While Riley was at Bellevue the workmen succeeded in raising the frame
of the new house, and in completing the most laborious part of the work.
On the last days of his stay he was dispatched with a message to Fort
Brooke, to say that on the following Tuesday Dr. Gordon and family would
make their promised visit.

During the interval nothing of special interest occurred, except a
painful accident that happened to Harold.  He was awakened in the night
by a sudden tickling in his ear.  This was caused by a harvest bug--a
black hard-winged insect, nearly an inch long.  When first feeling it,
and uncertain what it was, he sprang up in bed, and struck the ear
violently from behind, in the hope of jarring it out.  Failing in this,
he poured his ear full of water; but still not succeeding, he felt along
the wall for a large needle he recollected seeing there the evening
before, and with that endeavoured to pick it out.  The frightened bug
finding itself so energetically pursued into its unnatural hiding place,
went deeper, and began to scratch with its clogged feet, and to bite
upon the tender drum of the ear.  The pain it caused was excruciating.
Harold, feeling that he must soon go into spasms, unless relieved,
wakened his uncle, and entreated earnestly for help.  To his
inexpressible delight Dr. Gordon said he could relieve him in a minute;
and seizing the night lamp he poured the ear full of oil.  Scarcely had
this fluid closed around the intruder, before it scrambled out, and
reached the external ear just in time to die.

Harold could not find words for his gratitude.

"Uncle," said he, "you may think me extravagant, but I assure you the
pain was so intense, that I was thinking seriously, in case you could
not relieve me, of making Sam chop my ear open with a hatchet.  This I
suppose would have killed me; but it must have been death in either
case."

On the day appointed, they went to Fort Brooke in the pleasure boat, Dr.
Gordon being at the helm, and Robert and Harold taking turns in managing
the sails. The wind was fair, and the light ripple of the water was
barely sufficient to give a graceful dancing to their beautiful craft.
Far below the transparent waves, they could see the glistening of bright
shells upon the bottom, and every now and then the flash of a
silver-sided fish.

At the fort they were received with the courtesy that so generally marks
gentlemen of the army; and the three days of their stay passed off very
pleasantly.  The reveille and tattoo, the daily drill, and the
practising with cannon, were novelties to the young back-woodsmen. Frank
was exceedingly surprised, as well as amused, to see cannon-balls making
"ducks and drakes," as he called them, upon the water.  He had often
thrown oyster-shells, and flat stones, so as to skim in this way, but he
had no idea that it could be done with a cannon-ball.

On the last day of their visit, Harold escaped from an unpleasant
predicament, only by the exercise of cool courage and ready ingenuity.
He had gone with Frank to visit a cannon target, a mile or more distant.
Wandering along the bank of the Hillsborough river, which flows hard by
the fort, and then entering the woods on the other side of the road, he
was suddenly accosted by a man on horseback, who had been concealed
behind a bower of yellow jessamines.

"Good day, my young friend.  Have you been walking much in these woods
today?"

Harold said that he had not, and inquired why the question was asked.
The man replied, "I am watching for a villainous Indian-negro, who was
seen skulking here this morning.  He has been detected in stealing, and
several persons will soon come with blood-hounds to hunt him.  If you
see his track" (and he described its peculiarity), "I hope you will let
us know."

Harold consented to do so, and walked on, unwilling to be the spectator
of the scene.  Returning to the road, and walking some distance, the
thought flashed into his mind that possibly the dogs might fall upon his
own trail.  It was certain that they would naturally take the freshest
trail, and he was confident that the man did not know which way he went.
The dogs were probably fierce, and it would be exceedingly difficult, in
case of an attack, to defend himself and Frank too.  Becoming every
moment more uneasy, he went to the roadside and cut himself a stout
bludgeon.  Frank watched the operation, and suspected that something was
wrong, though he could not conjecture what.

"Cousin," said he, "what did you cut that big stick for?"

"A walking-stick," he replied: "Is it not a good one?"

"Yes, pretty good; but I never saw you use a walking-stick before."

At that moment, Harold heard afar off the deep bay of the blood-hounds,
opening upon a trail.  The sound became every moment more distinct.  He
could distinguish the cry of four separate dogs.  They were evidently
upon his scent.  He clutched his club, and looked fiercely back.  It was
a full half mile to the place where, having left the man, he emerged
into the road; and there were several curves in it so great that he
could neither see nor be seen for any distance.  Necessity is the mother
of invention.  A bright thought came into his mind.  "Stay here," said
he to Frank, "and don’t move one peg till I come back."

He was at a sharp bend of the road, on the convex side of which lay a
little run of water, skirted by a thick undergrowth.  He took a course
straight with the road, and hurrying as fast as possible into the wet
low ground, returned upon his own track; then, taking Frank in his arms,
sprang with all his might, at right angles, to his former course, and
ran with him to a neighbouring knoll, which commanded a view of the
road, where he stopped to reconnoitre.  He had _doubled_, as hunters
term this manoeuvre, practised by hares and foxes when pursued by
hounds; and his intention was, if still pursued, to place Frank in a
tree, and with his club to beat off the dogs until the hunters arrived.

It was soon proved that the hounds were actually upon his track.  They
came roaring along the road, with their tails raised, and their noses to
the ground.  Arriving at the spot where Frank had stood, they did not
pursue the road, but plunged into the bushes, upon the track which
Harold had doubled, and went floundering into the mire of the stream
beyond, where they soon scattered in every direction, hunting for the
lost trail.  The boys did not pursue their walk; having made so narrow
an escape, they turned their steps, without delay, towards the fort.

"Cousin," inquired Frank, on their way back, "did not those dogs come
upon our track!"  Harold replied, "Yes."

"And did you cut that big stick to fight them?"

"Yes."

"And did you intend to cheat them by going into the bushes, and coming
back the same way, and then jumping off, with me in your arms?"  Harold
still said, "Yes."

"Well, now, cousin," inquired Frank, "where did you learn that nice
trick?"

"From the rabbits and foxes," he answered.  "I did not know who could
tell me better than they, how to escape from dogs."

Frank said he always knew that foxes were very cunning, but he never
before heard of any one’s taking a fox for his teacher.

On returning to the fort, Dr. Gordon applauded the ruse, and
congratulated Harold upon his escape; but, at the same time, informed
him that his plan was not to be relied upon.  "A well trained hound,"
said he, "is as competent to nose out a doubled track as you are to
devise it.  I attribute your escape, partly to the fact that the dogs
are not staunch, and partly to the help afforded you by the miry bottom,
on which your scent could not lie."

The conversation now turned naturally upon contests with dogs, and
different methods of escape.  Dr. Gordon related the story of his having
defended himself and his little brother against three fierce dogs, when
he was about Robert’s age, by putting his back against a wall, and
beating off the assailants with a club.

"But were you ever forced to fight them when you had no stick?" asked
Harold.

"Fortunately not," his uncle replied.  "Though I knew a person once who
was caught as you describe, and who devised at least a show of defence.
He took off his hat and shoved it at the dog, with a fierce look,
whenever it approached.  But I presume that his success depended more
upon the expression of his countenance than upon the threatening
appearance of his weapon.  A _fearless eye_ and _a quiet resolute
manner_, is the best defence against _any enemy_, human or brute, that
can be devised.

"I did, however, witness one expedient adopted by a sailor, which goes
to show what can be accomplished in an emergency of the kind, by a cool
head and a steady hand.  A large dog rushed at him, without provocation,
on the public wharf.  The sailor spoke to him, looked at him, shoved his
hat at him, but in vain.  The dog flew at his legs.  Quietly drawing his
knife, as a last resource, and holding his hat in his left hand, he
stooped, and allowing the dog to seize his hat, passed his knife
underneath it, into his throat.  The dog staggered back, mortally
wounded, not having seen the hand that slew him."

On Friday, September 24th, the company returned to Bellevue; and on the
week following, had the opportunity of witnessing an act of cool
courage, which Harold declared to evince far more ingenuity and
composure of mind, than his own escape from the blood-hounds.

Riley had made them another visit, and was engaged at work upon the
house, under the direction of Sam, the carpenter.  Dr. Gordon took the
young people in the pleasure boat, to spend an afternoon in the
agreeable occupation of obtaining another supply of fish.  After trying
for some time, with poor success, they saw Riley coming along the bluff;
his object being, as was afterwards shown, to point out the reason of
their failure, and to tell them what to do.

As he approached, a fierce looking bull rushed from a grove of live
oaks, and made furiously at him.  Had Riley been near the shore he
might, and probably would, have sprung into the water, and thus escaped;
but the enraged beast was between him and his place of refuge. The
company in the boat felt seriously anxious for his safety, since there
appeared little chance of his escaping without a contest.  But Riley
took the matter very coolly. He glided to a little clump of saplings,
and holding to one of them at arm’s length, seemed to enjoy the evident
mortification of the bull in being so narrowly dodged. He was very
expert in keeping the small tree between him and it; and as the circle
in which he ran was much smaller than that in which the bull was
compelled to move, his task was easy.  The furious animal pushed first
with one horn then with the other; he ran suddenly and violently; he
pawed the earth, and bellowed with rage; his eyes flashed and his mouth
foamed, but it was in vain.  Soon Riley watched his opportunity, and
glided nimbly from that tree to one nearer the boat; then to another and
another; the bull following with every demonstration of impotent rage.
This was done merely to teaze.  Finally becoming wearied with this
profitless, though amusing sport, he gathered a handful of sand, and
provoking the bull to push at him again, forced a part of the sand into
one eye, and the remainder into the other, and then left him perfectly
blinded for the time, and rushing madly from place to place, while Riley
came laughing to the beach, and delivered his message.

"Coolly and cleverly done!" said Dr. Gordon, at the end of the contest.
"That is certainly a new idea, in the way of involuntary bull baiting,
which is worth remembering.  But I advise you young folks not to try it,
except in case of a similar necessity.  It is safer to climb a tree or
fence, or even to plunge into the water."

"Riley had no other chance," remarked Harold.

"He had not," Dr. Gordon rejoined, "and therefore I regard his expedient
as valuable.  Should you be pursued in an open field, the danger would
be still greater. Then the best plan would be to _detain_ the beast by
something thrown to attract his attention.  Cattle are made very quickly
angry by the sight of a red garment.  If anything of this colour, such
as a shawl or pocket handkerchief can be dropped when you are pursued by
one, it will be almost certain to catch his eye, and to engage him
awhile in goring it.  If nothing red can be dropped, then let him have
something else from your person--a hat, coat, or a spread umbrella--in
fact anything calculated to attract his eye."

"I have heard," observed Robert, "of jumping upon a bull’s back, as he
stooped his head to toss."

"So have I," his father added, "but spare me if you please, the
necessity; none but a monkey, or a person of a monkey’s agility can do
it successfully.  I should sooner risk the chance of springing suddenly
behind him, and seizing his tail.  At least I should like to administer
that sound belabouring with a stick which he would so richly deserve,
and which might teach him better manners."

"Or to twist his tail," said Harold merrily.  "I believe that will make
a bull bellow, as soon as putting sand into his eyes.  And what is
better, you can keep on twisting, until you are sure than his manners
are thoroughly taught."



                              CHAPTER VIII


MAROONING AND THE MAROONING PARTY


The work of house-building and improvement now went forward with visible
rapidity.  By the first day of October, the new dwelling-house was
sufficiently advanced to allow the family to move into it; and in a
fortnight more, the new kitchen was covered, and such other changes
made, in and about the house, as to give it quite a genteel and
comfortable appearance.  As it became necessary about this time for the
workmen to attend to some inside work, which could be more easily
accomplished by having the family out of the way, Dr. Gordon stopped the
young people after school, and said to them:

"Children, I have a proposition to make.  But before doing so, who can
tell me what ’marooning’ means?"

All turned their eyes to Robert, whom they regarded as a sort of walking
dictionary; and he answered with a slight hesitation--"I should say,
living pretty much in the way we have lived most of the time since we
came to Bellevue.  A person maroons when he lives in an unsettled
state."

"You are nearly right; but to be more critical.  The word ’maroon’ is of
West Indian origin--coming I think from the island of Jamaica.  It meant
at first a free negro.  But as those who ran away from their masters
became virtually free for the time, it came afterwards to mean a runaway
negro.  To maroon therefore means to go from home and live like a
runaway negro.  I wish to ask if any one present is in favour of
marooning?"

All were silent, and Dr. Gordon continued, "To maroon means also to go
to some wild place, where there is plenty of game or fish, and to live
upon what we can obtain by our own skill.  Are there any persons now in
favour of marooning?"

"I am--and I--and I!" was the universal response. "When shall it be?
Where shall it be?"

"You are too fast," said the Doctor.  "I have one of two propositions to
make.  We must for a few days give up the house to the workmen.  Now the
question to be decided is, Shall we return to Fort Brooke, and spend our
time among the guns and cannons; or shall we go to Riley’s Island at the
mouth of the bay, and spend it among the deer and turkeys, the fish and
oysters, of which we have heard so much?  There are advantages and
disadvantages on both sides; and my own mind is so perfectly balanced
that I will leave the decision to you."

Harold’s eyes flashed fire at the prospect of his old employment; still
he said nothing; he waited to know what the others preferred.  Robert
looked at him, and in a moment caught the contagion.  Indeed it seemed
as if a sort of mesmeric influence had swayed the whole party, for they
did nothing more than exchange with each other one hurried glance, and
then unanimously cried out, "Riley’s Island!  Riley’s Island!"

"Remember," said Dr. Gordon, "that in marooning we must wait upon
ourselves.  William is the only servant I can take.  His time will be
fully occupied with cooking, and other duties belonging to the tent.  We
cannot depend on him for anything more than is absolutely necessary.
Are you still of the same mind?"

"The same!" they all replied.

"Still I will not hold you to your promises until you have had further
time for reflection," said he.  "You may not have looked at all the
difficulties of the case. I will give you until dinner-time to make up
your minds; and to help your thoughts, I will assign to each of you an
office, and make you responsible for providing all things necessary for
a week’s excursion, to begin in the morning.

"Harold, I appoint you master of the hunting and fishing departments.

"Robert shall be sailing-master, and provide for the literature of the
party.

"Mary shall be housekeeper still, and mistress of the stores.

"And Master Frank shall be--I know not what to make him, unless
_supercargo_."

"Now I wish you each to sit down at your leisure, and make out a written
list, to be presented to me at dinner-time, of all things needed in your
several departments."

They responded very heartily, and were about to retire, when Dr. Gordon,
observing a comical expression on Frank’s face, said, "What is the
matter, Frank?  Are you not willing to be supercargo?"

"I do not know what supercargo is," answered Frank, "unless it is
somebody to catch rabbits.  But I know how to do that.  So I mean to
take my dog and hatchet, and a box of matches."

"Well done, Frank," said his father; "you have the marooning spirit if
you do not know what supercargo is. But where did you learn the art of
catching rabbits?"

"Oh, I learnt it from cousin Harold," said he.  "We got a rabbit into a
hollow tree, and caught him there. _I_ caught him, father, with my own
hand; I know exactly how to catch a rabbit."

"Very well, Mr. Supercargo, carry what you will. But go along all of
you, and be ready with your lists against dinner-time."

They retired in great glee to plan out and prepare. Robert and Harold,
having first gone to the beach to think alone, were to be seen, half an
hour afterwards, in their room, busily engaged with pencil in hand.  At
this time Frank came in.  He had been almost frantic with joy at the
prospect of the change; and after having romped with his dog Fidelle and
the goats in the yard, he had come to romp with any one who would join
him in the house.

"Brother Robert and cousin Harold," said he, "what are you doing?  Are
you writing? are you ciphering? are you studying?  Why do you not answer
me?"  He was evidently in a frolic.

"Go to your play, Frank, and do not bother us," returned Robert,
impatiently; "we are thinking."

"I know you are; for father said we are thinking all the time we are
awake, and sometimes while we are asleep.  But I want to know what you
are thinking about so hard."

"Don’t you know," Harold answered, mildly, "that we are going to Riley’s
Island tomorrow, and that Robert and I have to make out a list of what
we are to carry? We are making our lists."

"Ah ha! but I have to carry some things too," said he. "Father is going
to let me catch the rabbits there; and he called me a ----, some kind of
a ----; I forget the name, but it means the person to catch rabbits.
What is the name, brother?"

"Supercargo?"

"Yes, that’s it--supercargo.  Mustn’t I think of something too?"

"Certainly," replied Harold, humouring the joke. "But the way _we_ did,
was first to go off by ourselves, and think of what we were to carry;
then to come in and write off our lists.  Do you go now and think over
yours, and when you come in I will write it for you."

Frank went out, but he was not gone long.  He insisted on having his
list made out at once.

"What do you wish to carry?" Harold asked.  Frank told him.

"Now," said Harold, "I will make a bargain with you.  If you do not
trouble us before we have finished our work, I will write your list for
you so that you yourself can read it.  Will you stay out now?"

"That I will.  But can you write it so that I can read it?"

"Yes, and will not print it either."

"Well, then you must be a very smart teacher, almost as smart as the
foxes; for father has been teaching me this summer to make writing
marks, but I have never made one of the writing marks yet."

Harold however persisted in his promise, and he and Frank were as good
as their several words.  Frank, it is true, did creep on tip-toe, and
peep through the crack of the door, but he disturbed nobody; and when at
last the boys came out, Harold presented him with a folded paper, which
he instructed him to put into his pocket, and not to open till the lists
were called for.

At the appointed hour they all assembled.  The meal passed pleasantly
off; not an allusion had as yet been made to the proposed excursion.  It
was a part of Dr. Gordon’s training to practise his children in
self-restraint.  He could however discern by their looks that their
decisions remained as before.  Said he, "I presume you have all made up
your minds to the marooning party; am I correct?"

"O yes, sir, yes," was the answer, "and we are all ready to report, not
excepting Frank and William."

"Really, you have done wonders!  But let me call upon you each in turn.
Harold McIntosh, you are hunting and fishing-master.  Let me hear your
report."

Harold took from his pocket a piece of paper about as broad as his hand,
and a little longer.  Besides the arms, ammunition and appurtenances,
fishing-hooks, lines and nets, he closed his list with reading
"brimstone."

"And what use," asked his uncle, "do you expect to make of that?"

"Taking bee-trees," he replied.  "Brimstone is used in driving bees from
the honey."

"Whether we meet with bee-trees or not, the brimstone will be in
nobody’s way; let it go.  Mr. Hunting-master your list is perfect.  Now
Robert, yours."

His list embraced all that the boat would need for comfort, or for
repair in case of accident.  The books selected had reference to the
taste of each.  Shakespeare for his father, Goldsmith’s Natural History
for Harold, Scott’s Napoleon for himself, Robinson Crusoe and Botany for
his sister, and (in a spirit of mischief) Old Mother Hubbard for Frank.

But Frank was quite indignant at what he knew to be an insinuation
against his childish taste.  "I will not have old Mother Hubbard for my
book," he said, as soon as he heard the list read.  "I have passed that
long ago; I wanted to carry Jack the Giant Killer."

"Scratch out Mother Hubbard," said his father to Robert, "and put down
Jack.  Your list, Master Robert, is pretty good; but I shall take the
liberty of adding several volumes to the stock, in case of bad weather.
And beside this, I should advise you all to carry your pocket
Testaments, that you may continue your plan of daily reading.  I should
be sorry, and almost afraid, to let our sports interfere with our
devotions."

Up to this time Frank had been listening to what had been read or
spoken.  But now, on a sign from Harold, he took a paper from his
pocket, and, looking at its contents, commenced capering round the room,
saying, "I _can_ read it--I can read every word of it!"

"Read what?" asked his father.

"My list," replied Frank, "that cousin Harold wrote for me.  I can read
it all!"

"Then let us have it."

[Illustration: pictures of items on the list]

"Here," said he, "is my hatchet."

"And here is my bow and arrows."

"And here is my dog; only it is not half so pretty as Fidelle."

"And down here at the bottom--that is--that is--I believe it is--either
a block or a brick-bat. O, now I remember, it is my box of matches."

"Bravo, Frank," said his father, "you do credit to your teacher.  I
doubt whether I could myself have guessed what that last thing was
intended for.  Your list may pass also.

"Now, Miss Mary, let us have yours.  You have had more to think of than
all the others put together, and yet I’ll warrant you are nearly as
perfect in proportion."

Mary blushed to hear the commendation bestowed upon her on trust, and
replied, "I doubt it, father.  For though it is very long, I am all the
while thinking of something else to be added, and I am pretty sure there
is a great deal yet that I have forgotten."  She then read her own list,
containing about thirty-five articles, and William’s, embracing half a
dozen more; upon which her father continued to bestow praise for the
house-wifery they showed, and to each of which he made some slight
additions.

"Now, William," said he, "do you select two moderately sized boxes, and
aid Miss Mary to pack everything in her line so as not to crowd the
boat.  Remember, too, to put in for Riley a half bushel of salt, a loaf
of sugar, and a peck of wheat flour.  Pack the boat, and have it
complete this evening, however late it should take you, that there may
be no delay in the morning."

They were no sooner dismissed from table than all went vigorously to
work.  Guns were cleaned--hooks and lines examined--boxes packed--all
things being done by classes.  Then each person put up an extra suit or
two of clothing, in case of accidents.  And so expeditiously did the
work go forward, that by five o’clock that evening the boat was ready
for her trip.



                               CHAPTER IX


EMBARKATION--ABDUCTION EXTRAORDINARY--EFFORTS TO ESCAPE--ALTERNATE HOPES
AND FEARS--DESPAIR--VESSEL IN THE DISTANCE--RENEWED HOPES AND
EFFORTS--WATER-SPOUT--FLASH OF LIGHTNING AND ITS EFFECTS--MAKING FOR
SHORE--GRATEFUL ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


Many visions that night danced before the young sleepers--prancing deer
with bright eyes and branching horns; turkeys running, flying,
fluttering; white tents, mossy beds, and all the wild scenes of woodland
life.  They were up and dressed at daybreak.  The wind was fair, and the
day promised to be fine.  Frank’s little feet were pattering over the
whole house and yard, carrying him into everybody’s way, on the pretence
of rendering assistance.  There was one useful suggestion which he made.
He had gone to each room and corner in the house, saying "good-bye" to
every person and thing, chairs, tables, and all, when at last he came to
his father’s cloak and umbrella, kept in the same corner.

"Good-bye, umbrella," said he, "but as for you, good Mr. Cloak, father
will want you to sleep on.  Poor umbrella! are you not sorry?  Don’t you
want to go too?  But, father!" he cried, running into the next room,
"had we not better carry the umbrella?  Maybe we shall need it."

"That is a good idea, Master Frank," said his father. "Do you take
charge of the umbrella, as a part of your office, and see it put into
the boat."

Frank ran back to the room he had left, and taking the umbrella from its
corner, he said, "O ho, my little fellow, father says you may go.  Are
you not glad I asked for you?  But you must be a good boy, and not put
yourself in anybody’s way.  Come now, spread your wings, and let me see
how glad you look."

He opened the umbrella, and flapped it several times to make it look
lively, then closed it, and set it beside the cloak where it belonged.
Presently he heard the tinkle of a little silver bell, and knew that it
was the signal for family prayers.  He went to the breakfast-room, and
took his seat.

Dr. Gordon’s children were well versed in the Scriptures, and were
remarkably attentive during the reading of them.  Perhaps one secret of
this fact was to be found in their father’s practice of stopping every
few verses during the family reading to ask them questions on what had
been read, and briefly to explain what they could not otherwise
comprehend.  This morning the children observed that the chapter read
was remarkably appropriate to their circumstances, and that the Doctor
prayed particularly that the Lord would preserve them from all sin and
harm during their excursion; that he would preside over their pleasures,
and that he would make their temporary absence the means of their
knowing him better, and loving him more.

They breakfasted as the sun was rising.  While at table no one could
speak of anything but the voyage and the island, and what they expected
to see, do, and enjoy.  The boat was at the wharf, which had been
erected for the brig.  It was packed, and ready for departure, with the
exception of a few things to be carried by hand.  William had
breakfasted at the same time with the family, and now came in, saying,
"All ready, sir."

"Come, children," said Dr. Gordon, "let us go."

"Come, umbrella," said Frank, "you are to go with me."

"O, father," exclaimed Mary, as they approached the shore, "there is
Nanny with her sweet little kids.  See how anxiously she looks at the
boat, and tries to say, ’Do let me go too.’  Had we not better take her?
She is so tame; and then you are so fond of milk in your coffee."

"I doubt," he replied, "whether there will be room for dogs, goats, and
ourselves too.  But we can easily determine; and as I know that all of
you are as fond of milk as I am, I will let her go if there is room."

They took their places, Dr. Gordon at the helm, Robert and Harold
amidships, Mary and Frank next to their father, and William in the bow.
Everything had been stowed so snugly away, and the boat was withal so
roomy, that Nanny and her kids were invited to a place.

"Now, children, for order’s sake," said Dr. Gordon, "I will assign the
bow of the boat, where William is, to Nanny and her kids; Fidelle must
lie here by Frank and Mum may go with Harold.  Mary, call your pet, and
have her in her place."

A word about the dogs.  Fidelle was a beautiful and high-blooded
spaniel, that might have been taught anything which a dog could learn,
but whose only accomplishments as yet were of a very simple character,
and confined chiefly to such tricks as were a source of amusement to her
little master.  Mum was a large, ugly, rough-looking cur, whose value
would never have been suspected from his appearance.  He was brave,
faithful, and sagacious; strong, swift-footed, and obedient.  But his
chief value consisted in his education.  He came from the pine barrens
of Georgia, where Dr. Gordon had first seen and purchased him, and where
he had been trained, according to the custom of the wild woodsmen there,
to hunt silently; and in following the trail of a deer or turkey to keep
just in advance of his master, and to give suitable indications of being
near the object of pursuit. Mum was no common dog; and he proved of
inestimable service to the young adventurers in their coming
difficulties.

"Draw in the anchor, William, while I cast off at the stern," said Dr.
Gordon.  "But hold! let us see what that means."  He pointed with his
finger to a horseman, who turned a point on the beach, and seeing them
about to depart, waved his hat to say "stop!"  The horseman rode at full
speed, and soon was within speaking distance. He bore a note from the
surgeon at Fort Brooke, requesting the loan of a certain instrument
which Dr. Gordon had promised when on his visit, and for which there was
now a sudden call.

"Keep your places, children," said the Doctor.  "I shall be gone only
five minutes.  William, do you take my place, and keep the boat steady
by holding to this frame."

He ascended the wharf, went with the soldier to the house, and was
absent a very few minutes; but during that interval an event occurred
which separated them for a long, long time and made them oftentimes fear
that they should never more meet in this world.

The position of the boat at the wharf was peculiar. Her stern had been
lashed to the timbers, for the purpose of keeping it steady, until all
had entered; and the bow was kept to its place by the anchor dropped
into the two and half fathoms water, which "was had" there at high tide.
The fastening to the stern having been cast off, preparatory to leaving,
William was now holding to the wharf, awaiting his master’s return.

This was not long after sunrise, at which moment they had heard the
report of a cannon unusually loud from the fort.  Scarcely had Dr.
Gordon disappeared from the bluff, when the young people noticed a heavy
ripple of the water, between them and the fort, indicating that it was
disturbed by a multitude of very large fish, moving with rapidity
towards the sea.

"What can they be?" was a question which all asked, with a curiosity not
unmixed with fear, as they looked upon the approaching waves.  William
held firmly to the pier head, that the boat should not be moved too
roughly by the disturbed water.

"Mas’ Robert," said he, with anxious, dilating eyes, "I do believe it is
a school of dem debbil-fish.  Yes," and his eyes grew wild and his lips
became ashy, "dey making right for dis pint."[#]


[#] The following is a description of the hideous monster known in our
waters as the Devil Fish.

It is a flat fish, belonging to the family of Rays, and usually measures
somewhere between ten and twenty feet from tip to tip of its wings.  On
each side of its mouth is a flexible arm, with which the animal grasps
and feeds.  It appears to be as remarkable for its stupidity as it is
for its size, strength, and ugliness, seldom letting go anything which
it once seizes with its arms. A few years since, one was discovered dead
upon a mud flat near St. Mary’s, Georgia, grasping even in death a
strong stake of which it had taken hold during high water.  The incident
related in the following pages is in perfect keeping with the habits of
the fish.  There are hundreds of persons now living, who recollect a
similar adventure which took place in the bay of Charleston.  On every
occasion of serious alarm the fish makes for the deep water of the
ocean, and sometimes so frantically as to run high and dry ashore.

Whoever wishes to read more on this subject, can do so by referring to a
volume called "Carolina Sports," in which the author (Hon. William
Elliott), sketches with lively and graphic pen some most adventurous
scenes, in which he himself was principal actor.


The children sprang to their feet, and made a rush to the stern, in the
effort to get out of the boat, but William put his hand against them,
and exclaimed piteously, "Back!  Mas’ Robert--Mas’ Harrol!  All of you!
You habn’t time to git out!  Here dey come!  Down on your seats!  For
massy’s sake, down! ebery body!"

They were about to obey, when there was a whirl, and then a jerk of the
boat, that threw them flat on their faces.  They heard William’s voice
crying hoarsely, "O Lord hab----;" and when they arose and looked
around, they saw that he was missing, and that their boat was rushing
onward with a swiftness that made the water boil.

"William!  William!" Robert called in bewilderment; but no answer came,
and they saw him no more.

"O mercy!  Brother Robert! cousin Harold!" cried Mary, "what is the
matter?"

Robert looked vacantly towards the receding shore. Harold answered, "One
of these fish has tripped our anchor, and is carrying us out to sea."

The horrid truth was evident; and it sent a chill like death through
their limbs and veins.  Mary screamed and fell back senseless.  Robert
started up as though about to spring from the boat.  Harold covered his
face with his hands, gave one groan, then with compressed lips and
expanded nostrils hastened to the bow of the boat.  As for poor little
Frank, it was not for some moments that he could realize the state of
the case; but when he did, his exhibition of distress was affecting. He
stretched his hands towards home; and as he saw his father running to
the bluff, he called out, "O, father, help us--dear father!  O send a
boat after us! O----!"  Perceiving his father fall upon his knees and
clasp his hands in prayer, he cried out, "O, yes, father, pray to God to
help us, and he will do it--God can help us!"  Then falling upon his own
knees, he began, "O God bless my father and mother, my brothers and
sisters!  O God help us!"

By this time the boat had passed fully half a mile from shore.  Harold’s
movement forward had been made with the intention of doing something, he
knew not what, to relieve the boat from the deadly grasp of the devil
fish.  He first seized his rifle, and standing upon the forward
platform, aimed it at the back of the monster, which could be distinctly
seen at two fathoms’ distance, clutching the chain which constituted
their cable. Despairing of reaching him with a ball through the
intervening water, he laid aside the rifle, and seizing William’s ax,
aimed several lusty blows at the cable chain.  He struck it just on the
edge of the boat where there was the greatest prospect of breaking it;
but the chain was composed of links unusually short and strong, and the
blows of the ax served only to sink it into the soft wood of the boat.

"Robert," said he, "look for Frank’s hatchet, and come here."  But
Robert, stupefied with fear, sat staring at him from beside his
prostrate sister and weeping brother, and seemed neither to understand
nor to hear.

"Robert," he repeated, "get up, and be a man.  Bring Frank’s hatchet,
and help me break this chain."

Still he did not come.  "It is no use, Harold," he replied.  "Do you not
see that sister is dead?  William is dead too!  We shall all die!"

"Robert!  Robert!" he reiterated, almost with a threat, "do rouse up and
be a man.  Mary is not dead, she has only fainted; she will come to
directly.  Come here and help me."

As he said, "She has only fainted," Robert sprang from his seat, took
off his cap, dipped it full of water, poured it on her face, rubbed her
palms and wrists to start the blood into circulation, then blew in her
face, and fanned her with his wet cap.  In the course of a minute Mary
began to breathe, and then to sigh.

"Thank God!" he exclaimed, "she _has_ only fainted! she is coming to!
Frank, do you fan her now and I will help Harold."

But Harold had helped himself.  Going to Frank’s parcel, he had taken
out the hatchet, and returned to the bows, where he was now adjusting
the ax, preparatory to his work.  "There, Robert," on his coming up, "do
you hold the ax firmly under the chain, while I strike this link with
the hatchet."

He did so, and Harold struck a blow upon the chain, so heavy that it
rang again.  Instantly they staggered, said fell backwards in the boat.
The sharp sound of the hatchet upon the links had been conveyed along
the metal to the fish, and made it dart forward with a sudden jerk.
Harold rose, and looked on a moment.  "We can’t help his being
frightened, Robert.  We must break the chain.  Let us try again."

He struck blow after blow, though the fish seemed to be affected by each
as by an electric shock.  Robert held back his arm.  "Stop! stop!
Harold, we are sinking!"

It was even so.  The fish, frightened by the sharp repeated sounds, had
gone down so far as to sink the bow of the boat within a few inches of
the water.  But Harold was not to be stopped.  With an almost frantic
laugh, he looked fiercely at the slimy monster beneath, then at his pale
companions, and raised his arm for another blow.  "Robert," said he, "it
must be so.  We must break the chain or die."  He struck again, again,
and again, until the water began to ripple over the bow, and splash upon
his hand.  He stopped, and tears came into his eyes.

"Look, Harold, at the staple," said Robert.  "Let us see if that cannot
be started."  They tried it, striking from side to side, but in vain.
The boat was too well made; the staple was too large, and too firmly
imbedded in the timbers to be disturbed; and, moreover, it was guarded
by an iron plate all around.  Harold decided it was easier to break the
chain.  "Is there not a file, nor even a chisel among the tools?" he
asked.  They rummaged among the several boxes and parcels, but no tools
of the kind could be found; and then they sat down pale, panting, and
dispirited.

By this time the boat had passed out of the bay. The persons on shore,
the houses, indeed the very trees which marked the place of their abode,
had faded successively from sight.  They had been running through the
water at a fearful rate, for an hour and a half, and were now in the
broad open gulf, moving as madly as before.  The frightened fish,
alarmed at these repeated noises in the boat, and grasping still more
convulsively the chain which was to it an object of terror, had
outstripped its hideous companions, and after passing from the bay had
turned towards the south.

"There is Riley’s Island!" said Robert, pointing sadly to a grove of
tall palmettoes, which they were passing. "And yonder is a boat, near
shore, with a man in it. O, if Riley could see us, and come after us!
And yet what if he did!  No boat can be moved by wind or paddle as we
are moving."  After a few minutes he resumed: "There is one plan yet
which we have not tried; it is to saw the chain in two with pieces of
crockery. I have read of marble being cut with sand, and of diamonds
being cut with horse hair.  And I think that if we work long enough we
can cut the chain in two with a broken plate.  Shall we try it?"

"O, yes, try anything," Harold replied, "But," looking at the flapping
wings and horrible figure of the fish, and grinding his teeth, "if he
would come near enough to the surface, I should try a rifle ball in his
head."

They broke one of the plates, and commenced to saw. Harold worked for
half an hour, then gave it to Robert, who laboured faithfully.  Had they
been able to keep the link perfectly firm, and also to work all the time
precisely on one spot, they might possibly have succeeded.  But after
two hours’ hard work, the only result was that they had brightened one
of the links by rubbing off the rust and a little of the metal.

"O, this will never, never do!" exclaimed Harold. "It will take us till
midnight to saw through this chain, and then we shall be upon the broad
sea, without any hope of returning home.  Robert, I am done!  My hands
are blistered!  My limbs are sore!  I have done what I could!  And now
the Lord have mercy upon us!"

Up to that moment Harold had been the life and soul of the exertions
made.  His courage and energy had inspired the rest with confidence.
But now that his strong spirit gave way, and he sunk upon his seat, and
burst into tears, it seemed that all hope was gone. Robert threw down
his piece of plate, and went to seat himself by Mary, in the hinder part
of the boat.  Frank had long since cried himself to sleep, and there he
lay sobbing in his slumbers, with his head in Mary’s lap. Mary was still
pale from suffering and anxiety; having recovered by means of the water
and fanning, she had summoned her fortitude and tried to comfort Frank
with the hope that Harold and Robert would succeed in breaking the
chain, and then that they would spread their beautiful sail, and return
home.  When Robert took his seat, Frank awakened, and asked for water.

"Sister Mary," said he, "where is father?  I thought he was here."

"No, buddy," she replied, her eyes filling to think that he had awakened
to so sad a reality, "father is at home."

"O, sister," said he, "I dreamed that father was with us, that he prayed
to God to help us, and God made the fish let go, and we all went home.
Brother Robert, have you broken that chain?"

This last appeal was too much for Robert’s fortitude, tried already by
repeated disappointments.  He covered his face with his cap, and his
whole body shook with emotion.

"Brother Robert," said Mary, speaking through her own tears, "you ought
not to give up so.  The fish is obliged to let go some time or other,
and then may be some ship will pass by, and take us up.  Remember how
long people have floated upon broken pieces of a wreck, even without
anything to eat, while we have plenty to eat for a month.  Brother
Robert and cousin Harold, do try to be comforted."

She obtained the water for Frank, and gave him something to eat.
"Brother," she added, "you and cousin Harold have worked hard, and eaten
nothing.  Will you not take something?  There are some nice cakes."
Both declined.  "Well, here is some water.  I know you must be thirsty."

Harold was so much surprised to see a girl of Mary’s age and gentle
spirit exercising more self-control than himself, that he was shamed out
of his despair.  He did not then know that trait in the female
character, which fits her to comfort when the stronger spirit has been
overwhelmed.  He drank a mouthful of the water.  She handed it also to
Robert, but he pushed it way, saying, "No, sister, I do not want
anything now.  We have done all that we could, and yet--."

"No, brother," she replied, "not at all.  There is one thing more that
you have not even tried to do; and that may help us more than anything
else.  It is to pray to God to help us."

"O, yes, brother," Frank added, "don’t you recollect what father read to
us out of the Bible, and talked to us about?  What is it, sister?"

"When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me
up," Mary recited.

"Yes, brother," he continued, "remember that father prayed for us, when
he saw us going off.  And sister and I have been praying here, while you
and cousin Harold were working yonder.  Brother Robert, God _will_ take
care of us, if we pray to him."

"What Frank says is true, brother," said Mary.  "He and I have been
praying most of the time that you were working.  And now see the
difference! when you two have given up everything, he and I are quiet
and hoping. Brother Robert, we all ought to pray."

"I do pray--I have prayed," replied Robert.

"That may be," persisted Mary, "but what I mean is, that we all ought to
pray together."

"I cannot pray aloud," Robert answered; "I never did it.  I do not know
how to do it.  But we can all kneel down together, and pray silently
that God will have mercy on us.  Harold, will you join us in kneeling
down?"

As they were rising for this purpose, Frank called out, "Brother, what
is that yonder?  Isn’t it a boat coming to meet us?"

Their eyes turned in the direction of Frank’s finger and it was plain
that a sail had heaved into the offing far away to the south, and almost
in their course.  The sun shone upon the snow-white canvas.  "God be
praised!" exclaimed Robert; "that is a vessel!  Who knows but we may yet
meet her, and be saved!  Let us kneel down, and pray God to be merciful
to us."  They did so; and when they rose from their knees the vessel was
evidently nearer.

"Let us try her with the spy glass," said Robert, and drawing it out to
its proper length, he gazed steadily at her for a minute.  "That is a
schooner, or rather an hemaphrodite brig.  I can see her sails and
masts.  She is rigged like a revenue cutter, and seems also to have the
rake of one.  She is coming this way, and if she is a cutter, she is
almost certainly bound for Tampa, and can take us home again."

How rapidly characters appear to shift with shifting circumstances!
Mary and Frank, who but a minute before were the only ones calm and
disposed to speak in tones of energy and hope, now began to weep and
lose all self-control; while Robert and Harold, shaking off their
despondency, sprang to their feet, and with bright eyes and ready limbs,
prepared once more for effort.  Harold seized the glass, and looked long
and steadily.  "She is coming to us, or we are going to her very fast,"
said he.  "Perhaps both; and now what shall we do?"

"Rig up a signal, and load the guns," replied Robert. "Let us attract
their attention as soon as possible. Quick, sister, get me a sheet!"

In the course of fifteen minutes they had the sheet rigged and floating;
and by the time the guns were loaded, they could clearly discern not
only the hull, but the port holes of the vessel, and her long raking
masts. There was no further doubt that she was a revenue cutter bound
for the bay.  Still it became every moment more certain that without
some change in the course of one or the other, they must pass at a
considerable distance.  Now what should they do?  The sky, which had
been gradually clouding over since they saw the vessel, began to be
rapidly and heavily overcast as they approached.  Fearful that rain
might fall, and utterly obscure their signal before it was seen, the
boys resolved to fire their guns, ere there was any reasonable hope that
they could be heard.  At the first discharge the fish, which had
probably been frightened in the morning by the cannon at the fort,
jerked so terribly as almost to unseat them.  At the discharge of the
remaining guns it seemed less and less alarmed, until finally it ceased
darting altogether; its strength was failing.  Soon afterwards they saw
the smoke of two cannon from the vessel, and then a flag run up the
mast.  "They see us! They see us!" cried Robert and Mary.

"But can they help us?" asked Harold.  "Here we are running between them
and shore, faster than any vessel can sail except in a storm, and there
is scarcely wind enough to fill their sails, and what there is is
against their coming to our aid.  Robert, we must break that chain, or
yet all is lost."

There was apparently some bustle on board the cutter. Many persons could
be distinguished by the glass looking at them and at the clouds.  They
were preparing to lower a boat, yet with manifest hesitation.  This was
immediately explained by the singular appearance of the cloud between
the boat and the vessel.  It had become exceedingly dark and angry.  A
portion in the middle assumed the shape of a trumpet, and descended with
the sharp point toward the water; while a broad column ascended from the
sea to meet it; and then sea and sky roared and tossed in terrible
unison.

"It is a water-spout!" said Robert, "if it strikes the vessel she is
gone.  Look there, Harold, look!"

The cutter began to give sensible evidence of the whirling eddy.  Her
sails flapped and her masts reeled. Soon they heard boom! boom! the roar
of two more cannon.  They were for the purpose of breaking the
threatening column.  They saw the descending pillar gradually ascend,
and spread itself into a dark mass of cloud, which poured out such a
shower of rain as entirely to hide the vessel from sight.  Afterwards
they heard another cannon.  "That is for us," Robert said; "let us
answer it as well as we can."

They fired gun after gun, and heard cannon after cannon in reply, but
each fainter than before.  Their last hope of being saved by the vessel
was gone.  She was far away, and hidden by the rain which enveloped her.
There had been no rain upon themselves, but it was very dark overhead,
and threatened both rain and wind.  They were far enough from home--how
far they could not conceive, and far too from the barely visible shore,
upon the broad wild sea.  The boys were relapsing rapidly into that
moody despair which is so natural after strong yet fruitless exertion,
when a sharp flash of lightning struck in the water about one hundred
yards before them.  So near was it, and so severe, that they were almost
blinded by the blaze, and stunned by the report.  Their boat instantly
relaxed its speed, and was soon motionless upon the water.  The boys
rushed to the bow.  Their cable hung perpendicularly down, and the fish
was nowhere to be seen.  It had darted back from the lightning flash,
and the cable had slipped quietly from its grasp.

"Thank God we are loose!" burst triumphantly from Robert.  Harold looked
on with strong emotion.  Once more tears gathered in his eyes.
"Robert," said he, "I never did make pretension to being a Christian, or
a praying person, but if we do not thank God all of us for this when we
get ashore, we do not deserve to live."

"Amen!" said Robert; and Mary and Frank responded, "Amen!"

The shore was full seven miles away.  It was probably wild and barren.
It might be difficult of approach, and inhospitable after they should
land.  But gladly did they draw aboard their anchor, raise their sail,
and make toward it.  The sea was smooth, but there was wind enough to
fill their sails, and give promise of their reaching the shore ere
night.  Robert took the helm, and Harold managed the sails.  Mary once
more brought out her cakes and other eatables.  Frank laughed from very
pleasure; and seldom, if ever, was a happier looking company to be seen,
going to a strange and perhaps a hostile coast.

Far as the eye could reach, to the north and south, there was a bluff of
white sand, varied here and there by a hillock, higher than the rest,
which the winds had blown up from the beach.  Before them was an inlet
of some sort--whether a small bay, the mouth of a river, or an arm of
the sea, they could not determine; it was fringed on the south with a
richly coloured forest, and on the north by a growth of rank and
nauseous mangroves.  Into this inlet they steered, anxious only for a
safe anchorage during the night.  A little before sunset they reached a
pleasant landing-place, on the southern shore, near the forest; and
having been confined all day to the boat, they were glad enough to
relieve themselves from their wearisome inaction, by a few minutes’
exercise on land.  Harold first ascended the bluff, and looked in every
direction to see if there was any sign of inhabitants.  No house or
smoke was visible; nothing but an apparently untouched forest to the
left, and a sandy, sterile country to the right.

"Cousins," said he, "I think we may with safety sleep on the beach
tonight.  With our dogs to guard, nothing can approach without our
knowledge.  I am almost afraid to anchor in the stream, lest we should
be carried off by another devil-fish."

To this proposal they agreed.  The tent was handily contrived, requiring
only a few minutes for its erection; and while Mary and Frank drove down
the tent-pins, Harold and Robert brought into it the cloaks and blankets
for sleeping, together with their guns, and other necessaries for
comfort and safety.

As the darkness closed around them, its gloom was relieved by the ruddy
blaze of a fire, which Robert and Harold had made with dried branches
from a fallen oak, and kindled by Frank’s matches Mary soon had some tea
prepared, which they found delightfully refreshing.  Immediately after
it, Harold, whose countenance ever since their escape from the fish had
assumed a peculiarly thoughtful expression, remarked:

"I have no doubt we all remember what we said in the boat about being
thankful; and I have no doubt that from the bottom of our hearts we do
thank God for our deliverance; but I think we ought to say so aloud
together, and in our prayers, before we go to sleep this night."

No one answered, and he proceeded: "Robert, if you can speak for us,
please say in our name what you know we ought to say."

There being still no reply, except a shake of Robert’s head, Harold
continued:

"Then we can at least kneel down together, and I will say, ’Thanks to
the Lord for his mercies, and may we never forget them;’ after which we
can unite in the Lord’s Prayer."

They knelt down.  Harold did not confine himself to the words just
recorded; he was much more full, and became more at ease with every word
he uttered; and when the others united with him in repeating aloud the
Lord’s Prayer, as they had been accustomed to unite with their father in
family worship, it was with an earnestness that they never felt before,
and that was perceptible in every word and tone.  That wild coast was
probably for the first time hallowed with the voice of Christian prayer.

They made the boat secure by drawing the anchor well upon the beach.
They spread their cloaks and blankets upon the dry sand, and lay down to
rest.  Their dogs kept watch at the door of their tent; and they slept
soundly, and without the least disturbance, during the whole of this
their first night of exile.



                               CHAPTER X


WAKING UP--GOOD RESOLUTIONS--ALARM--MAROONING BREAKFAST--SEARCH FOR
WATER--UNEXPECTED GAIN--OYSTER BANK--FATE OF A RACCOON--THE PLUME AND
FAN


Shortly after day-light Mary was awaked by feeling Frank put his arm
round her neck.  She opened her eyes, and seeing the white canvas
overhead, started in surprise; then the fearful history of the preceding
day rushed into her mind, and her heart beat fast at the recollection.
She put her arm softly round Frank’s neck, drew him near to her, and
kissed him.

"Sister Mary," said he, awaking, "is this you?  I thought it was father.
Why, sister--what house is this! O, I remember, it is our tent."

Frank drew a long breath, nestled close to his sister, and laid his head
on her bosom.  He seemed to be thinking painfully.  After a minute or
two he sprang to his feet, and began to dress.  Peeping through the
curtain that divided the two sleeping apartments, he said, "Brother and
cousin Harold are sleeping yet, shall I wake them?"

"No, no," she replied.  "They must be very weary after all their hard
work and trouble.  Let us just say our own prayers, and go out softly to
look at the boat."

The first thing which greeted their eyes, on coming to the open air, was
Nanny with her kids.  The tide had gone down during the night, leaving
the boat aground, and the hungry goat had taken that opportunity to jump
out, with her little ones, and eat some fresh grass and leaves.

Mary’s mind, as housekeeper, turned towards breakfast. She and Frank
renewed the fire, the crackling and roar of which soon roused the
others, who joined them, and then went to the boat to see that all was
safe.

No change had occurred, other than has been noticed, except that the
fulness of the dogs proved that they had fed heartily upon something
during the night; and of course that they had proved unfaithful
sentinels.  The sight of the boat made them sad.  It told of their
distance from home, and of the dangers through which they had passed.
For some minutes no one broke the silence; yet each knew instinctively
the other’s thoughts.  Frank finally came near to Robert, and looking
timidly into his face, said, "Brother, do you not think that father will
send somebody after us?"

"Yes, indeed; if he only knew where to send," Robert replied in a
soothing tone; "and more than that, I think he would come himself."

"I think he _will_ send," said Frank; "for I remember that after he
knelt down by the landing and prayed for us, he turned to the man on
horse-back, and pointed to us; and then the man went back where he came
from as hard as he could gallop."

"Well, buddy," returned Robert, "if father does not come after us, nor
send for us, there is one thing we can do--try to get back to him.  So
there now"--he stooped down, and kissed him affectionately.  Then he and
Harold walked together on the beach.

During the whole morning, as on the preceding evening, Harold had been
unusually grave and thoughtful. "Robert," he remarked, when they were
beyond the hearing of the others, "I have been trying ever since we rose
to think what we ought to do today; but my mind cannot fix on anything,
except what we said yesterday about being thankful, and trying to do
better.  There is no telling how long it will be before we see Bellevue
again, or what dangers we must meet.  One thing, however, seems certain,
that we ought to try and act like good Christian people; and that part
of our duty is to have some kind of worship here, as we have been used
to having at your father’s."

Robert assented, but asked, "How can we do it?  I am not accustomed to
conduct these things, nor are you."

"We can at least do this," replied Harold, whose mind was so deeply
impressed with a sense of his obligations, that he was neither afraid
nor ashamed of doing his duty.  "We can read a chapter, verse about,
morning and evening, and repeat the Lord’s prayer together."

This was so easy, so natural, and so proper, that it was without
hesitation agreed to.  Mary and Frank were informed of it, and it was
immediately put into practice. They gathered round the fire; and as the
murmur of their prayer ascended from that solitary beach, the
consciousness that this was _their own_ act of worship, without the
intervention of a minister, who is the priest of the sanctuary, or of a
parent, who is the priest of the household, imparted a deep solemnity to
their tones and feelings.

Scarcely had they risen from their knees, before Nanny and her kids were
seen to run bleating down the bluff, while Mum and Fidelle, having
rapidly ascended at the first alarm, gave signs of more than usual
excitement. The boys hurried up the sandy steep, gun in hand, and looked
in every direction.  Nothing was to be seen, but Fidelle’s tail was
dropped with fear, and Mum’s back was bristling with rage.

"What can be the matter with the dogs?" asked Robert.

"I do not know," Harold replied.  "But we can soon find out.  Here, Mum,
hie on!"

He gave the sign of pursuit, and the two dogs ran together, and began
barking furiously at something in an immense mossy live oak near at
hand.  The boys stood under the tree, and scrutinized every branch and
mossy tuft, without discovering anything except a coal black squirrel,
that lay flat upon a forked limb.  "You foolish beasts!" exclaimed
Harold, "did you never see a black squirrel before, that you should be
so badly frightened at the sight of one?" then levelling his rifle at
its head, he brought it down.  It was very fat, having fed upon the
sweet acorns of the live oak, and appeared also to be young and tender.
Harold took it back to the tent, as an addition to their dinner,
remarking, "It is the sweetest meat of the woods."  All admired its
glossy black skin, and Frank begged for the rich bushy tail, that he
might wear it as a plume.  This little diversion, though trifling in
itself, exerted a very cheering effect upon the elastic spirits of the
young people, and made them for a time forget their solitude and
comparative helplessness.  Had they known the country as well then as
they had occasion to know it afterwards, they would not have felt so
quiet, or have been so easily satisfied, when they saw the signs of
alarm in their brutes.

When they sat down to their simple breakfast, it made Frank laugh to see
how awkward everything appeared.  There was no table, and of course
there were no chairs.  All sat on their heels, except Mary, who being
the lady was dignified with a seat upon a log, covered with a folded
cloak.  It was a regular marooning breakfast.

"I think that our first business this morning is to look for water,"
remarked Harold, while they were sitting together.  "The goat seems to
be very thirsty, and, as our jug is half empty, it will not be long
before we shall be thirsty too.  But how shall we manage our company?
Shall Mary and Frank continue at the tent, or shall we all go together?"

"O together, by all means," said Mary, speaking quickly.  "I do not like
the way those dogs looked before breakfast; they frightened me.  There
may not be anything here to hurt us, but if there should be, what could
Frank and I do to help ourselves?"

"Then together let us go," Robert decided.  "And Frank, as you have
nothing else to do, we will make you _dipper master_."

They ascended the bluff, and looked in every direction, to ascertain if
possible where they might obtain what they wished; but nowhere could
they discern the first sign or promise of water.  Far to the south as
the eye could reach, the country looked dry and sandy. Eastward extended
the river, or arm of the sea, but it appeared to have no current, other
than the daily tides, and its shore gave no indication of being indented
by rivulets, or even by the rains.

"It will put us to great inconvenience if we are not able to obtain
fresh water," remarked Harold.  "We shall be compelled to move our
quarters without delay, for our supply cannot last long.  However, there
is no such thing as not trying.  Which way shall we move?"

"Towards the sea," replied Robert.  "There is one fact about a sandy
coast, that perhaps you have had no occasion to know--that _oftentimes
our best water is found on the open beach, just about high-water mark_.
I have heard father explain this fact by saying that rain water is
lighter than that which is salt; and that the rain probably filters
through the sandy soil of the coast, and finds its vent just above the
ordinary surface of the sea. I think, therefore, our best chance for
finding fresh water is on the seashore, in the sand."

They had not proceeded far along the bluff before they heard a loud
rushing in the air, and looking up they saw what Mary and Frank supposed
to be a gang of enormously large buzzards, flying rapidly towards the
forest, and passing very near them.  "What can they be!" inquired
Robert, in momentary doubt.  "Really, Harold, they are turkeys! wild
turkeys!"

But as he uttered the words "wild turkeys," bang! went Harold’s rifle,
and down fluttered a gobler, with his wing broken.  "Here, Mum!" he
shouted; but Mum knew his business too well to need exhortation, for by
the time the bird had scrambled to its legs Mum had seized and held it,
until Harold put an end to its struggles by cutting off its head.

"Here now is a fine dinner," said he, lifting it, "only feel how heavy;
he is rolling fat."

"Yes, indeed," replied Robert; "and that was a quick shot of yours, Mr.
Harold--with a rifle too.  I wonder I did not think sooner of shooting;
but in truth I was in doubt what they were, and also astonished at their
number."

"What a lovely fan his tail will make!" exclaimed Mary, examining the
rich stripes of black and brown that marked the end of the feathers.
"We must be sure to carry it home for--," she was going to say "mother
when she comes," but the thought of their forlorn condition came over
her, and she added softly--"if we ever get there."

"Let us leave the turkey, hanging in this tree to bleed, until we
return," said Harold; "we must look for water now."

They returned to the beach, and walked along the smooth hard sands.  The
tide, or rather "half tide" (as it is called on that coast), having an
ebb and flow, each of three hours, was nearly down, and they had a full
opportunity for the proposed search.

"There is water somewhere here about, you may be sure," said Harold,
pointing to tracks of the dogs, made during the night, and partly
obliterated by the tide. "Our dogs passed here last night before high
water, and they look as if they had had plenty both to eat and to
drink."

A quarter of a mile’s walk brought them to a place, when Robert called
out, "Here is the water! and here are our dogs’ tracks, all about and in
it.  Get out you Mum!--begone Fidelle!" he added, as the dogs trotted
up, intending to drink again.  The water was good, and in great
abundance.  They quenched their thirst, and were preparing to return for
the bucket to carry home a supply, when Harold suggested to pursue the
tracks of the dogs a little further, and learn what they had obtained to
eat.  "I perceive not far off," said he, "what appears to be an oyster
bank, but do dogs eat oysters?"

They proceeded to the spot, and found a large bank of uncommonly fine
oysters.  It was an easy task for those who knew how to manage it, to
break the mouth of one with another and to cut the binding muscle with a
pocket-knife.  Harold shrunk aghast at the idea of eating an oyster
alive; but Robert’s example was contagious, and the assurance that this
primitive mode of eating them was the most delicious, sufficed to make
every one adopt it.  Engaged in selecting some of the finest specimens
to carry back, the others heard Frank call out, in one of his peculiarly
merry exclamations:

"Ohdy! dody!  Look here!  There is a big, black cat’s foot in this
oyster’s mouth.  I wonder if the cat bit off his own foot!"

They hurried to the spot, Mary and Harold laughing at the odd fancy, as
they esteemed it, of a cat biting off its own foot, and saw, not a cat’s
foot indeed, but that of a raccoon, firmly fastened in the oyster’s
mouth.

"What does this mean?" Harold inquired, with wonder.

"Why, Harold," replied Robert, "did you never hear of a raccoon being
caught by an oyster?"

"Never," he answered; "but are you in earnest?"

"Certainly, in earnest as to there being such a report," he replied,
"and this I suppose is proof of its truth.  It is said that the raccoon
is very fond of oysters, and that when they open their mouths, at a
certain time of tide, to feed upon the scum of the water, it slips its
paw suddenly between the shells, and snatches out the oyster before it
has time to close.  Sometimes, however, the raccoon is not quick enough,
and is consequently caught by the closing shells.  Such was probably the
case with this fellow; he came to the bank last night to make a meal of
the oysters, but was held fast until our dogs came up and made a meal of
him."

"But I doubt," said Harold, "whether dogs ever eat raccoons.  They will
hunt and worry them as they do cats and other animals, which they never
eat, at least never except in extremity."

"Then I suppose," added Robert, "we must account for this by another
story which is told, that a raccoon, when driven to the necessity, will
actually gnaw off its own foot."

"Really," said Harold, "this is a curiosity.  I must take this oyster to
the tent, and examine it more at my leisure."

The young people gathered as many oysters as they could carry in their
hands, and reaching the tent about ten o’clock, began preparing them,
together with their game, for the table.  Robert cut off the squirrel’s
tail for Frank; and having drawn out the bone, without breaking the
skin, inserted a tough, slender stick, so that when it was properly
dried, Frank might use it as a plume.  The preparation of the turkey’s
tail was undertaken by Harold.  He cut off the tail-bone, with the
feathers attached, and having removed every particle of flesh and
cartilage not necessary for keeping the feathers together, he stretched
it like a fan, and spread it in the ran to dry.



                               CHAPTER XI


DISCUSSION OF PLANS--DOUBTS--DIFFERENCES OF OPINION--WHAT WAS AGREED
UPON--BAKING A TURKEY WITHOUT AN OVEN--FLYING SIGNAL


"Really this is a fine country!" said Robert, referring, with the air of
a feasted epicure, to the abundant marooning dinner from which he had
risen.  "Wild turkey, squirrel, and oysters!  I doubt whether our old
friend Robinson Crusoe himself fared better than we."

"It is a fine place indeed," Harold replied; "and so long as our powder
and shot last, we might live like princes.  But, Robert," he continued,
"it is time that we begin to determine our plan of operations.  What
shall we do?"

"Do!" echoed Robert, "why return home as soon as possible.  What else
have we to do?"

"To determine how we are to return and in what direction."

"Then I say," Robert replied, "the same way that we came, only a little
nearer shore."

"But who can tell me the course?" Harold asked.

"Yonder," replied Frank, pointing to the sea.

"No, buddy," said Robert, "that is only our _last_ course; we came in
from sea.  Home is yonder," pointing nearly north.

"Now, I think you are both wrong," said Harold, "for according to my
judgment home is yonder," pointing nearly east.  "At least, I recollect
that when I was working at the chain the sun was behind us, for my
shadow fell in the water, and I do not recollect that we have changed
our course since.  So far as I know we started west, and kept west."

"That would have carried us into the open gulf," returned Robert.

"And that is exactly where I think we are," Harold affirmed.

"But there are no islands in the gulf," argued Robert, "nor land either,
after you leave Tampa, until you reach Mexico.  And we are surely not in
Mexico."

"I do not know where we are," said his cousin.  "I only know that we
left home with our faces to the west, and that the water kept boiling
under our bow for ten long hours.  How fast we went, or what land we
have reached, I know no more than Frank does."

"But we saw islands and points of land to our left," Robert insisted;
"it is _impossible_ for us to be in the gulf."

"Then where do you suppose we are!"

"On the coast of Florida, to the south of Tampa. There is no other place
within reach, answering the description."

"But how do you know we are not on some island?"

"We may be on an island; but if so, it is still on the Florida coast,"
Robert replied, "for there are no islands beside these, nearer than the
West Indies, and we are surely not on any of them."

Harold shook his head.  "I cannot answer your reasoning, for you are a
better scholar than I.  We may be where you suppose; and I confess that
without your superior knowledge of geography I should never have
conceived it; but still my impression is, that neither of us know well
enough where we are to warrant our going far from land.  A voyage in an
open boat upon a rough sea is no trifle.  I am afraid of it.  Put me on
land, and I will promise to do as much as any other boy of my age; but
put me on sea, out of sight of land, and I am a coward, because I know
neither where I am, nor what to do."

"But what shall we do?" Robert inquired; "we cannot stay here for ever."

"No; but we can remain here, or somewhere else as safe, until we better
understand our case," answered Harold.  "And who knows but in the
meantime some vessel may pass and take us home.  One passed on
yesterday."

Robert mused awhile, and replied, "I believe you are right as to the
propriety of our waiting.  Father will certainly set all hands to work
to search for us. The vessel we saw yesterday will no doubt carry to him
the news of their seeing us going in a certain direction at a certain
time.  He will be sure to search for us somewhere in this neighbourhood;
and we had better on that account not move far away."

Mary and Frank were attentive, though silent listeners to this colloquy.
Mary’s colour went and came with every variation in their prospect of an
immediate return. She was anxious, principally, on her father’s account.
Her affectionate heart mourned over the distress which she knew he must
then be feeling; but when she came to reflect on the uncertainty of
their position, and the danger of a voyage, and also that her father had
probably ere this heard of them through the cutter, she was satisfied to
remain.  Poor Frank cried bitterly, when he first learnt that they were
not to return immediately; but his cheerful nature soon rebounded, and a
few words of comfort and hope were sufficient to make him picture to
himself a beautiful vessel, with his father on board, sailing into their
quiet river, and come for the purpose of taking them all home.

"Before we conclude on remaining _here_," said Harold. "I think it will
be best for us to sail around the island, if it is one, and see what
sort of a place it is."

This precaution was so just that it received their immediate assent.
They fixed upon the next morning as the time for their departure; and
not knowing how far they should go, or how long they might stay, they
concluded to take with them all that they had.

"But," inquired Mary, "what shall we do with our large fat turkey?" (a
part of it only having been prepared for the table); "shall we cook it
here, or carry it raw?"

"Let us cook it here," said Harold; "I will show you how to bake it,
Indian fashion, without an oven."

Among the articles put up by William were a spade and a hoe.  With these
Harold dug a hole in the dryest part of the beach; and, at his request,
Robert took Mary and Frank to the tree above, and brought down a supply
of small wood.  The hole was two and a-half feet deep and long, and a
foot and a-half wide, looking very much like a baby’s grave.  Frank
looked archly at his cousin, and asked if he was going to have a
_funeral_, now that he had a grave.  "Yes," replied Harold, "a merry
one."  The wood was cut quite short, and the hole was heaped full; and
the pile being set to burning at the top, Harold said,

"There is another little piece of work to be done, which did not occur
to me until digging that hole.  It is to set up a signal on the beach to
attract attention from sea."

"I wonder we did not think of that before," remarked Robert.  "It would
certainly have been an unpardonable oversight to have left the coast, as
we expect to do tomorrow, without leaving something to show that we are
here, or in the neighbourhood."

The boys went to the grove, and cutting a long straight pole, brought it
to the tent, and made fast to it the sheet which before had served them
as a signal; after which the company went together to the sea shore, and
planted the signal under the bluff, so that it could be distinctly seen
from sea, but would be hidden from the land.  This place was selected
for the same reason that induced Harold to build his fire under the
bluff--to avoid hostile observation.  The young people looked up sadly
yet hopefully to this silent watchman, which was to tell their coming
friends that they were expected; and with many an unuttered wish turned
their faces towards the tent.

[Illustration: The company went together to the sea shore and planted
the signal]

The fire in the oven had by this time burnt down, but by reason of the
dampness of the earth the hole was not hot enough.  Another supply of
wood was put in, and while it was burning our young marooners went to
the oyster bank for another supply of oysters, then to the spring for
water, and to the tree for wood.  The labours of life were coming upon
them.

A sufficient heat having been produced by the second fire, Harold
requested Robert to clear the hole of all ashes, smoking brands, and
unburnt bits of wood, while he went once more to the grove.  He returned
with a clean white stick, about a yard long, which he used as a spit for
the turkey, resting the two ends in holes made at each end of the oven.

It was now nearly dark.  The little company stood around the heated
hole, admiring the simple contrivance by which their wild turkey was to
be so nicely cooked, when, to the surprise of every one, Mary burst into
a hearty laugh.  Harold asked what she meant.

"I was thinking," she replied, almost choking with laughter, "how funny
it will be tomorrow morning when you visit your grave, and come to take
out your nice baked turkey, to find that the dogs had been to the
funeral before you."

"That is a fact," said Harold, amused at the conceit. "I did not think
of the dogs.  But do you all come with me again for a few minutes, and I
will make the oven secure from that danger also."

He led the way up the bluff, hatchet in hand, and loaded all with small
poles and palmetto leaves.  The poles were laid across the oven, and the
palmetto leaves spread thickly above the poles.  "I had forgotten this
part of the ceremony," said Harold.  "But this cover is put on not so
much to keep the dogs out as to keep the heat in.  I will show you at
bed time a surer way to manage them."

"O, you will tie them up, hey?" asked Harry.

"Surely," he replied, "that is the cheapest way to keep dogs from
mischief."

Buried almost hermetically in its heated cell, the turkey seasoned to
their taste, was left to its fate for the night.



                              CHAPTER XII


RESULTS OF THE COOKERY--VOYAGE--APPEARANCE OF THE COUNTRY--ORANGE
TREES--THE BITTER SWEET--RATTLESNAKE--USUAL SIGNS FOR DISTINGUISHING A
FANGED AND POISONOUS SERPENT--VARIOUS METHODS OF TREATING A SNAKE
BITE--RETURN


The morning sun found the young people preparing to carry their
resolution into effect.  When Harold opened the oven the turkey was
baked brown as a nut, and from the now tepid hole arose an odour, so
tempting, that their appetites began to clamour for an enjoyment that
was not long delayed.

After breakfast the first work to be done was packing the boat, during
which time Harold, at the suggestion of Robert, took Frank, and made a
short tour through the surrounding forest, for the purpose of obtaining
a breakfast for the dogs.  The bark of the dogs and crack of a rifle
soon announced that the hunters were successful, and in less than half
an hour they returned each with a rabbit, as we Americans call the hare.
"See here, brother Robert!  See here, sister Mary!" was the merry
chatter of Frank, the moment he came near.  "I caught this myself.
Fidelle ran it into a hollow tree--he is a fine rabbit dog.  Mum is good
for nothing; he will not run rabbits at all, but just stood and looked
at us while Fidelle was after it.  Cousin Harold would not let me smoke
out the rabbit, but showed me how to get it with a switch.  Isn’t it a
nice fellow?"

"It is indeed," replied Robert, "and I think that before we can return
home, you will make an excellent _supercargo_."

Scarcely a smile followed this allusion; it was too sadly associated
with the painful events of their forced departure from home.  The
packing completed, they called in the dogs and goats, pushed from shore,
raised their sails to a favourable breeze, and moved gaily up the river.

For a mile and a half the water over which they sailed, lay in a
straight reach, due east and west, then turned rapidly round to the
north, where its course could be traced for many a mile by the breaks
among the mangroves.  Just where the river made its turn to the north, a
small creek opened into it from the south.  The course of this creek was
very serpentine; for a considerable distance hugging the shore in a
close embrace, then running off for a quarter or half a mile, and after
enclosing many hundred acres of marsh, returning to the land, within a
stone’s throw of the place which it had left.

As the object of the voyagers was to explore the land, they turned into
this creek, which seemed to form the eastern boundary of the island.
They observed that the vegetation which was very scant and small near
the sea, increased rapidly in variety and luxuriance as they proceeded
inland.  Tall palmettoes, pines, hickories, oaks, tulip trees,
magnolias, gums, bays, and cypresses, reared aloft their gigantic forms,
their bases being concealed by myrtles, scarlet berried cascenas, dwarf
palmettoes, gallberries, and other bushes, intermingled with bowers of
yellow jessamine, grape-vine, and chainy brier; while a rich grass,
dotted with variously coloured flowers, spread like a gorgeous carpet
beneath the magnificent canopy.  Some of the flowers that glistened,
even at this late season, above the floor of this great Gothic temple,
were strikingly beautiful.

For five miles they followed the meanderings of the creek, now rowing,
now sailing, until at last it turned suddenly to the east, and dividing
into a multitude of small innavigable branches became lost in the
marshes beyond.  Fortunately, however, for the explorers, the channel
terminated at an excellent landing-place, which was made firm by sand
and shells, and where, securing their boat to a projecting root, they
went ashore to examine the character of the country.  To their surprise
they had not proceeded twenty paces before discovering that this piece
of land was only a narrow tongue, not a half furlong wide, and that
beyond it was a river in all respects like the one they had left, coming
also close to the opposite bank, and making a good landing on that side.

"O, for strength to lift our boat over this portage!" exclaimed Robert.
"The river, no doubt, sweeps far around, and comes back to this point,
making this an island."

"We can settle that question tomorrow," said Harold. "It is too late to
attempt it now."

"O, brother," cried Mary, "there is an orange tree--look! look!
look!--full of ripe yellow oranges."

It was a beautiful tree, and not one only, but a cluster of seven,
scattered in a kind of grove, and loaded with fruit, in that state of
half ripeness in which the dark green of the rind shows in striking
contrast with the rich colour called orange.  The young people threshed
down several of the ripest, and began to eat, having first forced their
fingers under the skin, and peeled it off by patches.  But scarcely had
they tasted the juicy pulp, before each made an exceeding wry face, and
dashed the deceptive fruits away, as if they had been apples of Sodom,
beautiful without, but ashes within. The orange was of the kind called
the "bitter sweet," having the bitter rind and membranes of the sour,
with the pleasant juice of the sweet.

"Open the plugs, all of you, and eat it as you do the shaddock, without
touching the skin to your lips," said Robert.  "There is nothing bitter
in the _juice_, I recollect now that this kind of orange is said to grow
plentifully in many parts of South Florida, and also that the lime is
apt to be found in its company.  This is another proof, Harold, that I
am right as to our whereabouts."

"Really," said Harold, "this is a splendid country. I have another fact
about it that you will be glad to learn, and that I intended as a
pleasant surprise to you ere long.  There are plenty of _deer_ here.  I
saw their signs all through the woods this morning, within a quarter of
a mile of the tent."

They gathered about a bushel of the ripest looking of the fruit, and
deposited them in the boat; then beginning to feel hungry, they seated
themselves on a green mound of velvet-like moss at the foot of a
spreading magnolia, and there dined.  Nanny and her kids were already on
shore, cropping the rich grass, and the dogs were made happy with the
remaining rabbit.

Shortly after dinner, while the boys were cutting a supply of grass for
their goats during the voyage of the following day, they heard the bark
of Fidelle and the growling of Mum, uttered in such decided and angry
tones as to prove that they had something at bay, with which they were
particularly displeased. "One of us ought to go and see what those dogs
are about," remarked Robert; "and since you took your turn this morning,
I presume it is my business now."  He had not gone long, before Harold
saw him returning with rapid steps.

"Do come here, cousin," said he, "there is the largest king-snake I ever
saw, and desperately angry.  The dogs have driven him into a thicket of
briers, and he is fighting as if he had the venom of a thousand serpents
in his fangs.  His eyes actually flash.  I cut a stick and tried to kill
him, but it was too short, and he struck at me so venomously, that I
concluded to cut me a longer one.  The most curious part of the business
is, that there is a large grasshopper or locust (if I may judge from the
sound), in the same thicket, making himself very merry with the fight.
There he is now--do you not hear him? singing away as if he would crack
his sides."

"Locust!" exclaimed Harold, as soon as his quick ear distinguished the
character of the music, "you do not call that a locust.  Why, Robert, it
is the rattle of a rattle-snake.  Did you never hear one before?"

"Never in my life," he replied.  "I have often seen their skins and
rattles, but never a live rattle-snake. O, Harold," he said, shuddering,
"what a narrow escape I have made.  That fellow struck so near me twice,
as barely to miss my clothes."

The boys obtained each a pole of ten feet in length. They stood on
opposite sides of the narrow thicket in which the venomous reptile was
making its defence, and as it moved, in striking, to the one side or the
other, they aimed their blows, until it was stunned by a fortunate
stroke from Robert, and fell writhing amid the leaves and herbage.  The
moment the blow took effect, Mum, whose eyes were lighted with fiery
eagerness, sprang upon the body, seized it by the middle, shook it
violently, then dropped and shook it again.  It was now perfectly dead.
They drew it out, and stretched it on the ground.  Its body was longer
than either of theirs, and as large around as Robert’s leg.  The fangs,
which he shuddered to behold, were half as long as his finger, and
crooked, like the nails of a cat, and the rattles were sixteen in
number.

"This is an old soldier," said Harold; "he is seventeen or eighteen
years of age.  Had we not better carry it to the boat that Mary and
Frank may see it?  It is well for all to be able to distinguish a
rattle-snake when it is met."

The precaution was necessary.  For though Mary had a salutary fear of
all reptiles, Frank had not; he would as soon have played with a snake,
as with a lizard or a worm; and these last he would oftentimes hold in
his hand, admiring what he considered their beauty.  They stretched it
on the earth before the children; put it into its coil ready for
striking; opened its mouth; showed the horrid fangs; and squeezing the
poison bag, forced a drop of the green liquid to the end of the tooth.

"Frank," said Harold, "if you meet a snake like this, you had better let
him alone.  Rattle-snakes never run at people.  They are very peaceable
and only trouble those that trouble them.  But they will not budge out
of their way for a king; and if you wrong them, they will give you the
point of their fangs, and a drop of their poison, and then you will
swell up and die.  Do you think that you will play with snakes any
more!"

"No, indeed," he replied.

"Harold," said Robert, "do you know how to distinguish a poisonous snake
from a harmless one?"

On his replying in the negative, Robert continued, "The poisonous
serpents, I am told, may be usually known by their having broad angular
heads, and short stumpy tails.  That rattlesnake answers exactly to the
description, and I wonder at myself for not having put my knowledge to
better use when I met him.  The only exception to this rule I know of is
the spreading adder, which is of the same shape, but harmless.
Poisonous serpents must have fangs, and a poison bag.  These must be
somewhere in the head, without being part of the jaws themselves.  This
addition to the head gives to it a broad corner on each side, different
from that of a snake which has no fangs.  But _if ever you see a thick
set snake with a broad head and a short stumpy tail, take care_."

The conversation now turned upon the subject of snake-bites and their
cure.  "My father," said Harold, "had two negroes bitten during one
summer by highland moccasins, and each was cured by a very simple
remedy.  In the first case the accident happened near the house, and my
father was in the field.  He sent a runner home for a pint bottle of
sweet oil, and made him drink by little and little the whole.  Beside
this there was nothing done, and the negro recovered.  The other case
was more singular.  Father was absent, and there was no oil to be had,
but the overseer cured the fellow _with chickens_."

"Chickens!" exclaimed Mary, laughing.  "Did he make him take them the
same way?"

"Not exactly," Harold answered; "he used them as a sort of poultice.  He
ordered a number of half grown fowls to be split open alive, by cutting
them through the back, and applied them warm to the wound.  Before the
first chicken was cold, he applied another, and another, until he had
used a dozen.  He said that the warm entrails sucked out the poison.
Whether or not this was the true reason, the negro became immediately
better; and it was surprising to see how green the inside of the first
few chickens looked, after they had lain for a little while on the
wound."

"_We_ also had a negro bitten by a ground rattle," said Robert, "and
father cured him by using hartshorn and brandy, together with an empty
bottle."

Harold looked rather surprised to hear of the empty bottle, and Robert
said, "O, that was used only as a cupping-glass.  Hot water was poured
in, and then poured out, and as the air within cooled, it made the
bottle suck very strongly on the wound, to which it was applied, and
which father had opened more widely by his lancet.  While this operation
was going on, father made the fellow drink brandy enough to intoxicate
him, saying that this was the only occasion in which he thought it was
right to make a person drunk.  The hartshorn, by-the-by, was used on
another occasion, when there was neither a bottle nor spirit to be had.
It was applied freely to the wound itself, and also administered by a
quarter of a teaspoonful at a time in water, until the person had taken
six or eight doses.  I recollect hearing father say that all animal
poisons are regarded as _intense acids_, for which the best antidotes
are alkalies, such as hartshorn, soda saleratus, and even strong lye."

"Last year," said Harold, "I was myself bitten by a water-moccasin.  I
was far from home, and had no one to help me; but I succeeded in curing
myself, without help."

"Indeed! how was it?"

"I had gone to a mill-pond to bathe, and was in the act of leaping into
the water, when I trod upon one that lay asleep at the water’s edge.
Although it is more than a year since, I have the feeling under my foot
at this moment as he twisted over and struck me. Fortunately his fangs
did not sink very deep, but there was a gash at the joint of my great
toe, of at least half an inch long.  I knew in a moment that I was
bitten, and as quickly recollected hearing old Torgah say, that the
Indian cure for a bite is to lay upon the wound the liver of the snake
that makes it.  But I suppose that my snake had no notion of being made
into a poultice for his own bite; for though I chased him, and tried
hard to get his liver, he ran under a log and escaped.  Very likely if I
had succeeded in killing him, I might have relied upon the Indian cure
and been disappointed.  As it was, I jumped into the water, washed out
the poison as thoroughly as possible, and having made my foot perfectly
clean, I sucked the wound until the blood ceased to flow."

"And did not the poison make you at all sick?"

"Not in the least.  My foot swelled a little, and at first stung a great
deal.  But that was the end of it.  I was careful to swallow none of the
blood, and to wash my mouth well after the sucking."

"Do, if you please, stop talking about snakes," said Mary, "I begin to
see them wherever I look; suppose we return to our old encampment."

The boys gathered the remainder of the hay, called Nanny and the dogs,
and reached the place which they had left, about five o’clock in the
afternoon--having seen no signs of human habitation, and being
exceedingly pleased with the appearance of their island; they made a
slight alteration, however, in the place of their tent.  Instead of
continuing on the beach, they pitched it upon the bluff near the spring,
and under the branches of a large mossy live oak.  By the time the
duties of the evening were concluded, they were ready for sleep. They
committed themselves once more to the care of Him who has promised to be
the Father of the fatherless, and laid down in peace, to rest during
their third night upon the island.



                              CHAPTER XIII


DISAPPOINTMENT--THE LIVE OAK--UNLOADING--FISHING EXCURSION--HAROLD’S
STILL HUNT--DISAGREEABLE MEANS TO AN AGREEABLE END


Before sunrise it was manifest that, without a change in the wind, the
excursion proposed for that day was impossible; a strong breeze was
blowing directly from the east, and brought a ceaseless succession of
mimic billows down the river.  Hoping, however, that the wind might
change or moderate, they resolved to employ the interval in transferring
all their articles of value from the boat, to their new home under the
oak.  And it was indeed fortunate, as they afterwards had occasion to
know, that they attended to this duty so soon.

The live oak, under which their tent was pitched, was a magnificent
tree.  Its trunk was partially decayed from age, and the signs of
similar decay in many of the larger limbs was no doubt the cause of its
being spared in the universal search along this coast for ship timber;
but it was so large, that the four youngsters by joining hands could
barely reach around it.  Ten feet above the root, it divided into three
massive branches, which in turn were subdivided into long pendant boughs
extending about sixty feet in every direction, and showing, at their
ends, a strong disposition to sweep the ground.  The height of the tree
did not correspond to its breadth.  It is characteristic of the live oak
that, after attaining the moderate height of forty or fifty feet, its
growth is directed laterally; the older trees often covering an area of
more than double their height. Every limb was hung so plentifully with
long gray moss, as to give it a strikingly venerable and patriarchal
aspect, and Harold declared he could scarcely look at it without a
disposition to take off his hat.

At noon Harold proposed to Robert that, the wind having ceased, they
should spend the afternoon either in hunting or fishing.  "If," said he,
"Mary and Frank will allow us to leave them, I propose the first; if
not, I propose the last, in which all can join."

"O, let us go together, by all means," said Mary. "I do not like to be
left alone in this far off place; something may happen."

"Then let it be fishing," said Harold; "but what shall we use for bait?"

"The old bait that our grandfathers used--shrimp," replied Robert.  "I
observed on yesterday a multitude of them in a nook of the creek near
the river.  We can first catch some of these with our scoop net, and
then try for whatever may bite.  At any rate we can take the offals of
the turkey, and fish for crabs."

However, on ascending the river in their boat, and making the trial,
they found that the shrimp had disappeared, and they were left with only
six or seven caught at a venture.

"This is a dull prospect," said Harold, whose active nature made him
impatient of fishing as an amusement, unless the success was unusually
good.  "If you will allow me to go ashore I will try my luck with the
gun."

"Certainly, certainly," was the reply; though Robert added, "You must
remember that this is a wild country, Harold, and that we had better
keep within hearing at least of each other’s guns."

Harold promised not to wander beyond the appointed limit; and each
agreed that if help were needed, two guns should be fired in quick
succession.

"Will you not take my double barrel?" said Robert. "It is loaded with
duck and squirrel shot, but you can easily draw and load for deer."

"I thank you, no," replied Harold.  "It is so long since I have handled
anything but a rifle, that a smooth bore now would be awkward."

They put him ashore, then dropped anchor, and began to fish.  Mary and
Frank had been long initiated into the mysteries of the art.  On the
present occasion, Robert reserved to himself the shrimp, and set them to
the easier task of fishing for crabs.  For security he tied the lines to
the thowl pins.  Crabs, as all upon the seaboard well know, are not
caught with hooks, but with bait either hooked or tied to a lie, and
with a spoon-shaped net.  The crab takes hold of the bait with its
claws, and is drawn to the surface, when the net is carefully introduced
below.  Robert inserted his own hook through the back of a live silver
fish, and threw it in the water as a bait for drum.  Soon Mary was seen
drawing up her line, which she said was very heavy.  "There is a crab on
it, brother!" she cried, as it approached the surface; "two crabs! two!
two!"  Robert was near her. He inserted the net below, and the two
captives were soon in the boat.  "Well done for you, Miss Mary; you have
beat us all!"

Here Frank called out suddenly, "I have got one too! O, how heavy he is!
Brother, come; he is pulling my line away!"

It was not a crab.  Robert and he pulled together, and after
considerable play, they found that it was an enormous cat-fish or
bull-head.

"This fellow will make a capital stew for tomorrow’s dinner," said
Robert.  "But hold to your line, Frank, while I put the net under him
also.  I am afraid of these terrible side fins."

The fish had scarcely been raised over the gunwale of the boat, with the
remark, "that is a bouncer!" when Robert noticed his own line fizzing
through the water at a rapid rate.  He quickly loosed it from the place
where it was tied, and payed out yard after yard as the vigorous fish
darted and struggled away; then humouring its motion by giving or taking
the line as seemed to be necessary, he at last drew it towards him, and
took it aboard.  It was a drum, the largest he had ever caught, or
indeed ever seen.  It was as long as his arm, and strong enough to
require all his art for its capture.

He loosed the hooks from the floundering fishes, and tried for more.
But they now seemed slow to bite.  He took only two others, and they
were small.  Mary, however, caught nine crabs, and Frank two.  Becoming
weary of the sport, they heard afar off the sharp crack of a rifle.

"There goes Harold’s rifle!" said Robert; "and I warrant something has
seen its last of the sun.  Let us put up our lines, and meet him at the
tent."

The anchor was weighed, the sail spread, and in the course of half an
hour they saw Harold at the landing.

"What have you brought?" they all asked.

"O, nothing--nothing at all," he replied, looking at the same time much
pleased.

"Nothing!" responded Robert.  "Why we paid you the compliment of saying,
’There goes Harold’s rifle! and you may be sure he has killed
something."

"If _you_ have not anything, _we have_," boasted Frank. "See what a big
fish I caught!  Isn’t it a bouncer for a little fellow like me to catch?
Why, sir, he nearly pulled me into the water; but I pulled and pulled,
and brother Robert came to help me, and we both pulled, and got him in.
See, too, what brother Robert caught--a big trout; and sister Mary, she
caught a parcel of crabs; I caught two crabs myself.  And you haven’t
anything! Why, cousin Harold, are you not ashamed of yourself?"

"But you have killed something; I see it in your looks," said Mary,
scrutinizing his countenance; "what is it?"

"That is another question," replied Harold.  "You all asked me at first
what I had brought.  Now, I _have brought_ nothing; but I have _to
bring_ a deer."

"Then, indeed, you have beat us," said Robert; "but that is only what I
expected."

"A deer!" exclaimed the two younger.  "O, take us to see it!"

Mooring the boat safely, they hastened with Harold to the scene of
slaughter.  It was about half a mile distant. There lay a large fat
buck, with branching horns, and sleek brown sides.  Frank threw himself
upon it in an ecstasy of delight; patted, hugged, and almost kissed it.
Mary hung back, shrinking from the sight of blood.

"O, cousin Harold," she cried, "what a terrible gash your bullet has
made in the poor thing’s throat!  Just look there!"

Harold laughed.  "That was not made by my ball, but by my knife.
Hunters always bleed their game, cousin, or it will not look so white,
taste so sweet, nor keep so well."

The boys prepared to carry it home.  Harold, taking from his bosom the
hatchet, cut a long stout pole, and Robert brought some leaves of the
silk grass (the yucca filamentosa, whose long narrow leaves are strong
as cords), with which the legs of the deer were tied together.  Swinging
it on the pole between them, they marched homewards.

By this afternoon’s excursion they were provided with a delightful
supply of fish, crabs, and venison.  But, alas! they were compelled to
be their own butchers and cooks; and there are certain processes through
which these delicacies must pass before being ready for the mouth that
are not so agreeable.  Mary and Frank brought up the fish, and set about
preparing them for supper.  They laid each upon a flat root of the tree,
and with a knife scraped off the scales.  This was dirty work for a nice
young lady, but it was necessary to the desired end.  She pshawed and
pshawed at it as the slimy scales adhered to her fingers, or flew into
her face, but she persevered until all was done.

In the meantime the fire had been mended, and water poured into their
largest pot.  When it began to boil, Mary and Frank dropped in the
crabs.  Poor creatures! it was a warm reception they met with from their
native element.  Each one gave a kick at the unwelcome sensation, and
then sunk into quiet repose, at the bottom of its iron sepulchre.  They
remained boiling until their shells were perfectly red, when they were
taken out, and piled in a dish for supper.



                              CHAPTER XIV


FRANK’S EXCUSES--CURING VENISON--MAROONING COOKERY--ROBERT’S VEGETABLE
GARDEN--PLANS FOR RETURN---PREPARATION FOR THE SABBATH


When Mary and Frank arose next morning, they saw the small boughs of the
oak hung with divided portions of venison.  The boys had so placed them,
after finishing, late at night, for the double purpose of allowing them
to cool and of keeping them out of reach of the dogs.  "Come, Frank,"
said Mary, "let us make up the fire, and get things ready for
breakfast."  The wood was close at hand, ready cut, and nothing more was
needed for a fire than putting the pieces together, with several sticks
of light wood underneath; a bright cracking blaze soon rose cheerfully
before them.

"Buddy," she said, "can you not go down to the spring, and bring me some
water, while I am preparing these other things?"

But Frank was lazy that morning, and out of humour, and the fire was so
comfortable (for the air was cool) that he stood before it, warming his
hands, and puffing at the smoke that blew in his face.  He replied, "No,
sister, I am afraid"--then he paused, trying hard to think of some
excuse.  "I am afraid that if I go the crabs will bite me."

"Crabs!" Mary exclaimed.  "Why how can they bite you, when they are all
cooked?"

"I do not mean the crabs in the dish," said he, "but the crabs in the
river."

"Well, if they are in the river," argued Mary, "how can they hurt you,
if you keep on the land?"

Frank found that his excuse was about to fail.  But he was not disposed
to surrender so easily.  He therefore devised another.  "I am afraid to
go, for if the crabs do not bite me maybe the snakes will.  Don’t you
remember what cousin Harold told us the other day about snakes."

Frank said this very seriously, and had not Mary been somewhat provoked
at his unbrotherly refusal, she would have laughed at the ridiculous
contrast between his looks and his language.  She said, reproachfully,
"I thought, Frank, you loved me better than to treat me so.  I want the
water to make coffee for you, and the rest of us, and yet you will not
help me."

"I do not wish any of the coffee," he answered.  "All that I want for
breakfast is some of that nice fat deer, and some of these fish and
crabs."

"Very well," she added, in a hurt but independent tone, "I can help
myself."

She took the bucket, and went to the spring.  Frank looked ashamed, but
continued silent.  He drew up a billet of wood and sat upon it, pushing
his feet towards the fire, and spreading out his hands, for the want of
something else to do.  By the time Mary returned from the spring, Robert
and Harold came from the tent.  They had retired late and weary the
night before, and as a natural consequence had overslept their usual
time for rising.  "What is that we heard you and Frank talking about?"
Robert asked of Mary.

"Inquire of Frank," she replied; "I prefer that he should tell you."

"Well, Frank, what was it?"

"Nothing," he answered, doggedly, "except that sister wanted me to go to
the spring, and I told her I was afraid that the crabs and snakes would
bite me."

"What did sister Mary want with the water?"

"To make coffee, I suppose."

"And do you not love coffee?"

"Sometimes; but I do not wish any this morning, for sister never puts in
sugar enough for me."

"Well, well, we shall see who wants coffee at breakfast. Sister Mary, is
there anything I can do to help you?"

"Cousin," said Harold, uniting quickly in the effort to shame Frank out
of his strange caprice, "I wish you would let me too help you in some
way.  You are always so ready to do everything you can for us, that we
are glad whenever we can do anything for you."

Mary needed nothing, except to have the kettle lifted to its place upon
the fire.  Frank was all this time warming his hands and feet, as if he
was desperately cold. In reading the Scriptures, and repeating the
Lord’s Prayer, his voice could scarcely be heard; he knew that he had
done wrong, and was beginning to repent.  At breakfast, Mary asked him
in a kind, forgiving tone, if he would not have some coffee; but true to
his resolution he declined.

The first business of the day was to take care of their venison.  Yet
what should they do with it?  They had no cool place in which to keep it
fresh, nor salting tub nor barrel in which to corn or pickle what they
could not consume in its green state.  Harold’s proposal was that they
should cut the hams into thin slices, and jerk them in the smoke, as he
had seen Torgah do; or else to dry them in the sun, which in the middle
of the day was quite hot.  Robert said he had heard or read of meat
being saved fresh for several days by burying it under cool running
water, and offered to try it at their spring.  Mary said she liked both
plans, but having had such good experience of Harold’s baked turkey, she
hoped he would now give them a specimen of baked venison.

It was finally resolved to give each plan a fair trial. One ham should
be sliced and jerked; another should be baked for the next day’s dinner,
as the turkey had been; one shoulder should be cooked for that day’s
consumption, and the other put under the drip of the spring to prove
whether it would keep until Monday.

"There is one advantage at least that we shall gain from these
experiments," said Harold; "a knowledge how to economize our meat."

For a minute or two Mary had been evidently pondering upon some
difficult problem; and Robert, observing her abstraction, asked in a
jesting tone if she was studying anatomy.

"Not exactly," she replied; "I was thinking of two things; how to cook
this shoulder, when we have nothing in which to bake or roast it--"

"O, as for that," Harold interjected, "I will provide you in ten
minutes’ time with a roaster wide enough for an ox, or small enough for
a sparrow.  Do you just hang it by a string from the pole I will set for
you above the fire; it will roast fast enough, only you will lose all
your gravy."

"The gipsies’ roasting-pole!" said she; "I wonder I did not think of it.
The other thing is, that after you have sliced the steak-pieces from the
bone, the remainder would make an excellent soup, if we had any
vegetables to put with it."

"And what do you want?" Robert inquired.

"In beef soup," she replied, "cooks usually put in turnips, onions,
cabbage, potatoes, carrots, and the like."

"Carrots and potatoes I fear we must do without at this time," said he,
"but the rest I think I can furnish, or something very like them."

"What! have you a vegetable garden already growing on the island?" asked
Harold.

"Yes," he answered, "a very large and fine one; an endless supply of the
most beautiful white cabbage, and most delicate asparagus, besides
quantities of spinach, okra, and other vegetables.  The palmetto gives
the first, the tender shoots of the bamboo-brier the second; the leaves
of the poke, when young, furnish the third, and those of the wild violet
the last, or rather a substitute in its mucilaginous leaf, for the okra.
Beside these plants (all of which, except the last, need to be boiled in
several waters to free them from their bitter taste), there are
multitudes more growing around us that are perfectly wholesome as
articles of food--the purslain, the thistle, the dandelion, the
lambsquarter, the cresses and pepper-grasses, to say nothing of the
pink-gilled mushrooms, and the fungus that grows from logs of hickory."

"I will ask no more questions about your garden," said Harold.  "I will
confess at once that it is one of the largest and finest in the world;
but will say too that it requires a person of your knowledge to use it
aright."

"And no great knowledge after all," responded Robert.  "I could teach
you in half an hour every one."

"I will await them here," said Harold, "wishing you all success in
visiting the garden, and cousin Mary all success in preparing the
vegetables for use."

That afternoon they engaged in another discussion about attempting a
speedy return home.  Robert and Mary had become impatient of their stay,
and were despairing of any one’s coming soon to their relief.  The three
and a half days of separation from their father seemed to them a month.

"Why not make the effort to return at once?" they contended.  "This
place is very good indeed; on some accounts we could not desire a
better; yet it is not home."

Harold shook his head, and replied, "I am not sure, notwithstanding all
your arguments, that any of us know where home is.  One thing I do know,
that this island seems to be a very safe and comfortable place for
people in our condition.  Moreover, I am confident that your father will
use every means for finding us; and we can scarcely be in a better place
than this for being found.  My opinion still is that we had better
continue here for a fortnight or three weeks in safety, than to risk
what we should, by starting in an open boat, to go upon the broad sea,
we know not where."

Harold, however, was overruled.  Mary and Frank united with Robert in
resolving to attempt their return homewards by coasting; and Harold
yielded with a sigh, remarking that his heart was with them, but his
judgment against them.  The moment the question was decided, Frank began
to show the greatest glee.  To his hopeful spirit, to try was to
succeed; and he was even then in fancy revelling once more in the scenes
of happy Bellevue.

But when should they begin their voyage?  Not that day, for they were
not ready.  Not the next, for that was the Sabbath, which they had been
taught to reverence. Not Monday morning, because there were preparations
to be made, which they could not complete without working on the
Sabbath, They resolved to "remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy," by
rest from labour, and by appropriate exercises, and then to start as
soon after as possible; which, probably, could not be before Monday
evening or Tuesday morning.

They prepared another oven, heated and protected as before, into which
the ham of venison was introduced. They collected and cut a supply of
wood to be used in case of cool weather the following day, and brought
from the bank another basket full of oysters.  After spending a pleasant
evening in conversation, they retired to rest, happy in the thought that
they had been trying to live as they should, and that they had resolved,
of their own free will, to reverence the Sabbath, at the sacrifice of
another day from home.



                               CHAPTER XV


THEIR FIRST SABBATH ON THE ISLAND, AND THE NIGHT AND MORNING THAT
SUCCEEDED


The morning sun rose with uncommon beauty, and the young people having
retired early to bed, were prepared for early rising.  Frank now
volunteered to aid his sister in preparing for breakfast; his repentance
was shown not by words but by deeds; and though it was only an act of
duty performed towards his sister and the company, it was in part a very
proper beginning in the observance of a day belonging to Him who
encourages us to think that he regards whatever we do from a principle
of duty to our fellow men, as being done to himself.

At the time of worship they gathered with more than usual solemnity
around the accustomed place, and read the portion of Scripture for the
morning.  It was a chapter of unusual interest to them all, and
particularly so to Harold.  He had become increasingly thoughtful since
their accident.  This morning he appeared to be more serious than ever,
and once or twice, when his turn came to read, his voice was so low and
unsteady, that he could scarcely be heard.  There was evidently some
cause of distress to that youth of strong mind and pure life which the
others knew not.

The Sabbath passed, as may be readily conceived, without being enlivened
by any incidents of a particularly interesting character.  It can
scarcely be said that they did actually sanctify the Sabbath, for there
was nothing spiritual, nor even hearty in their exercises; and they
themselves felt that there was a great deficiency somewhere.

Their unmethodical though conscientious effort was useful in teaching
them to look beyond mere externals for any real good to be derived.
They learned they were imperfect even in their best performances, and
without merit when they had done what they could.

Late in the evening they went to the seashore, and sitting upon a bank
of clean sand near their flag-staff, looked upon the sea from which they
had made so providential an escape, and to which they expected once more
to commit themselves.  A light breeze had been blowing from the west all
day, yet light as it was it had been sufficient to raise the waves, and
make them roar and break with ominous violence upon the shore.  This
action of the breeze revealed to them another fact, that two or three
miles to the seaward there was a long and apparently endless chain of
breakers extending north and south, as far as the eye could reach.  They
could see the large waves gather, and the white tops sparkle with foam.
Here was another cause for thankfulness. Had the present wind been
blowing on the day of their accident, they could not possibly have
crossed that foaming bar; they would have been kept at sea, and been to
a certainty lost in the sudden squall that arose that night.

But the sight of these breakers was also a source of disquiet, in view
of their intended voyage.  It was evident, as they supposed, that they
could not sail with safety, when the wind was blowing with any
freshness, either on or off the shore, on account of the rough swell,
caused by the first, and of the danger of being carried out to sea by
the last.  They conversed long and anxiously upon this new feature in
their case; and then, by general consent, kneeled together upon the
sands, in conscious helplessness, and implored Him who is the Lord of
the seas, to care for them and direct their steps.

When they left the beach, the light of day was fading into the hues of
night; and several faint stars peeped timidly from the yet illuminated
sky.  Mary and Frank retired to their room soon after dark.  The larger
boys sat for some time, conversing upon their situation and prospects,
when observing the sky to cloud rapidly with the indications of a sudden
change of weather, they went to the landing, made their boat secure as
possible, and then laid down to rest.

The wind soon began to sigh in the branches of the huge oak above them.
Each puff became stronger than the one before it.  They could hear the
roar of the distant surf, bursting angrily over the sandy barrier, and
thundering on the shore.  It was the beginning of a hurricane.  The boys
sprang from their pallets, and dressing themselves hastily, seized the
ax and hatchet, and drove the tent-pins deeply into the ground.  While
thus engaged, Nanny and her kids came up, and showed a strong
disposition to take refuge in the tent.  The dogs also gave signs of
uneasiness, following them around with drooping tails, whining and
shivering, as they looked with half shut, winking eyes, in the direction
of the wind.  These signs of terror in their dumb companions only made
the boys work faster, and do their work more securely.  They did not
content themselves with driving down the tent-pins; they took the logs
cut for firewood, and laid them on the windward edges of the tent, to
prevent the wind from entering below and blowing the canvas from above
their heads.  Had they the time they would have laid the sails of their
boat, which they had hastily unrigged, above the canvas of the tent; but
ere they could accomplish this, the wind burst upon them with the fury
of a tornado.  The grand old tree quivered to its roots, and groaned in
every limb.  The tent fluttered and tugged at the ropes with such force
that the deeply driven pins could scarcely hold it down.  It was
fortunate that it had been pitched under the oak, for the long lower
branches, which at ordinary times almost swept the ground, were strained
downwards so far, that with their loads of moss, they formed a valuable
barrier against the wind.

There was little sleeping for the boys that night. Scarcely had they
entered the tent before the rain commenced.  It came in heavy drifts,
and was carried with such force that, notwithstanding the protection
afforded by the oak, it insinuated itself through the close threads of
the canvas, and under the edges of the tent.  Mary had been awaked by
the hammering, and Frank was now roused by the dropping of water in his
face.  When Robert entered their room to see how they fared, he
discovered them seated on a trunk, wrapped in their father’s cloak, and
sheltered by that very umbrella which Frank had been provident enough to
bring.  They rolled up their bedding and clothes, and protected as best
they could whatever seemed most in danger from the wet. They sat on
boxes and trunks, and wrapped themselves in cloaks and blankets; but it
was in vain; they could not guard themselves at the same time from the
rain above and the driven water from below.  They sat cold and shivering
until three o’clock in the morning, when the rain ceased and the wind
abated.  Then they made a fire; and just before day were enabled, by
lying on trunks and boxes, to indulge themselves in a short uneasy
sleep.

The clear sun shone over the main land before the wearied company awoke.
Harold was the first on his feet, and calling to Robert, they hastened
out to see what damage had been done.  Mary also joined them, followed
by Frank; for having dressed themselves during the night, they had no
further toilet to make.

In every direction were to be seen traces of the storm; prostrate trees,
broken branches, the ground strewed with twigs, and the thickets and
vines loaded with packages of moss, torn from the taller trees.  The sea
roared terribly, and thick dirty billows came rolling up the river.

Harold was about to mend the fire for Mary, who said she wanted to drink
something hot, as the best means of warming her chilled limbs, when
Robert, glancing at the tremendous tide in the river, called to her
quickly--"Do not waste one drop of this water in the bucket; there is
only a quart left, and no one can tell when the tide will be down enough
for us to obtain more."  He ran to the bluff, and the others observed
him make a gesture of surprise, look hastily around, and finally leap
down the bank.  He was absent only two or three minutes, and then
returned with a pale face and hurrying step.

"Harold!" said he, scarcely able to articulate, "OUR BOAT IS GONE!
Burst from her moorings!"

At this terrible announcement, every face whitened, and there was a
general rush for the landing.  It was even so.  The boat was nowhere to
be seen.  The stake which had confined it had also disappeared.  Far as
the eye could reach nothing was visible but water--water, with here and
there a patch of mangrove, higher than the rest, and bowing reluctantly
to the rush of the waves. They looked anxiously over the watery waste,
and then into each other’s agitated faces.  It was clear that their
prospect of speedily returning home was hopeless.

"But perhaps," said Mary, who was the first to recover speech, "it is
not lost.  It may have only drifted up the river; or it may have sunk at
the landing."

Robert mournfully looked, where he had already looked more than once,
and said, "Well, we can try.  But what is the use? something has been
against us ever since we left home.  Harold, shall we search the river?"

Harold seemed lost in thought.  His keen eye had glanced in every
direction, where it was possible the boat could have been driven; then
lessening in its fire, it gave evidence of deep abstraction.  Robert’s
question recalled him, and he slowly answered, "Yes; but it is my
opinion we shall not find it.  You know I have all along had the idea
that we ought not to leave this island. It has seemed to me, ever since
the fish let go our anchor, that the hand of God was in this accident,
and that we are not yet at the end of it.  I am troubled, like the rest
of you; but I have also been questioning whether it is meant for our
harm or for our good.  I do not think it is for harm, or we might have
been left to perish at sea; and if it is for good, I think we ought to
submit with cheerfulness."

They conversed awhile upon the bluff, in view of the dismal waters, then
slowly turned towards the tent, which was now the only place on earth
they could call their home.



                              CHAPTER XVI


A SAD BREAKFAST--SAGACITY OF DOGS--SEARCH FOR THE BOAT--EXCITING
ADVENTURE--A PRETTY PET--UNEXPECTED INTELLIGENCE


Once more the young people assembled in their tent; once more they read
the Scriptures, and knelt together in prayer.  Their tones were humble
and subdued.  They felt more deeply than ever their dependence upon an
arm that is stronger and farther reaching than man’s.

Their simple meal was soon ready, consisting of the most tempting bits
that Mary could select, as an enticement to their reluctant appetites.
They sat down, and endeavoured to appear cheerful, but little was said,
and less was eaten.  Harold’s face was towards the marsh.  Robert
observed him fix his eye steadily upon a distant point of land, where
the opposite bluff of the river terminated on the sea.  He looked as if
he saw something unusual, but after a scrutinizing gaze of half a
minute, turned away his eye, and relapsed into thought.

"Did you observe anything across the marsh?" inquired Robert, willing to
relieve the silence.

"I thought I saw a little curl of smoke upon the point," he returned;
"but now suppose it was the steam from the bluff, drawn up by the sun.

"Robert," he continued, "it is possible after all that we may find our
boat.  If not sunk at the landing, it is certainly somewhere up the
river, in the direction of the wind.  The tide has not yet begun to ebb.
If it has lodged in the marsh, we can best see it while the water is
high, and if it has not lodged, it may float back with the tide.
Suppose we set off at once to search."

Mary’s reluctance to be left alone yielded to the necessity of the case,
and begging them to be careful of themselves, and to return as soon as
possible, she assumed a cheerful air, and tried to prepare them for
their departure.

The boys promised to return by midday, unless delayed by finding the
boat; and taking their guns and hatchet, together with a luncheon in
case of delay, they set out, accompanied by Mum.  Ere proceeding more
than a few steps, however, Robert stopped to say, "Harold, we shall not
need the dogs.  Let us leave them for protectors to Mary and Frank.
True, there is no danger; but they will feel safer for having them at
hand. Frank, bring me Mum’s chain.  Here, Mum!  Here, Mum!"

Mum came rather reluctantly; for dog though he was, he appeared to
apprehend the state of the case.  Mary observing this, exclaimed,
"Cousin, I do believe that Mum understands what brother says.  Only see
how disappointed he looks!"

"O, yes," returned Harold; "dogs understand more than most people
suspect.  He probably heard Robert use the word ’chain’; and he has
heard it often enough to know what it means.  But they gather more from
the eye and tone than from words.  Mum, poor fellow, I am sorry to leave
you; for I know you love hunting better than staying at home.  But you
know nothing of hunting boats, Mum; so we want you to stay and help
Fidelle to guard your young mistress and master against the squirrels
and opossums.  If any of them come you must bite them well; do you hear,
Mum?"

The poor dog wagged his short tail mournfully, as much as to say he
would do his best; but at the same time cast a wistful look at the guns.
With a charge to Mary not to let Mum loose without necessity, and to
Frank not to approach the bluff except in the company of his sister, the
boys were once more on the move, when Mary inquired, "But what shall we
do if we see the boat coming down the river, or if we need you for any
other reason?"

"True, true," said Robert; "I am glad you suggested it.  We will load
William’s gun for you, and you must fire it for your signal.  We shall
probably be within hearing."

Robert well knew that Mary was able to do what he proposed, for her
father had made it a part of his duty to instruct her, or cause her to
be instructed, in every art necessary to preserve and enjoy life.  For
this purpose she had learned how to load and use the several varieties
of firearms--to manage a horse in harness and under the saddle--and even
to swim.  Compared with most other girls she was qualified to be quite a
heroine.

With many adieus and kind wishes from both sides, the boys finally set
off.  They struck directly through the woods for their old fishing
point, at the junction of the creek with the river.  Standing on the
most commanding part of the bluff, they looked in every direction, but
no sign of the boat appeared.  Then they turned their steps to the
southeast, following, as closely as they could, the bank of the creek,
though compelled oftentimes to make large circuits in order to avoid the
short creeks and bay-galls that set in from the marsh.  These bay-galls
are wet spongy bottoms, shaded with loblolly bays, and tangled with
briers, and the edges are usually fringed with the gall-berry bush--a
shrub closely resembling the whortleberry, and bearing a black fruit of
the same size, but nauseously bitter.  Compelled to make great circuits
around these miry bottoms, and interrupted by a close growth of vines
and trees, the boys advanced scarcely a mile and a half to the hour.
They left not a foot of the shore unexplored; still no vestige of the
boat appeared.

About eleven o’clock they approached the tongue of land on which they
had discovered the orange trees, and where they proposed to quench their
thirst with the pleasant acid of the fruit, and afterwards to return to
the tent.  They had just headed a short bay-gall, and were enjoying the
first glimpses of the south river, when they were startled by a
trampling in the bushes before them; and a herd of six deer rushed past
and disappeared in the dark bottom.  Soon after a half grown fawn, white
as milk, and bleating piteously, was seen staggering through the bushes,
having a large wildcat seated upon its shoulders, and tearing furiously
at its neck.  Robert’s gun had been levelled, when the herd appeared,
but they passed too quickly for a shot; he was therefore all ready when
the fawn approached, and aiming not at it, but at the fierce creature
upon its back, both animals rolled together upon the ground.  He would
have rushed immediately upon them, had he not been restrained by the
grasp of Harold.

"Not yet!" said he, "not yet! keep your other barrel ready, a wildcat is
hard to kill, and will fight until he begins to gasp."

It was fortunate for Robert that he was thus arrested, for the cat was
only wounded, and soon recovered sufficiently to limp away.  "Now give
him your second barrel, Robert; give it to him in his shoulder."  Before
he could do so, however, the cat slipped into the hollow of a
neighbouring tree.

"He is safe now," said Harold; "we can kill him at our leisure.  But
keep your eye on the hole, and be ready to shoot, while I attend to this
fawn."

When Harold took hold of the beautiful little creature, he discovered
that the wounds were very slight.  The ball had penetrated the back of
the head and stunned it, without touching any vital part, and it was
beginning to recover; the wounds made by the wildcat were only skin
deep, and could easily be healed.

"Shall I bleed it for venison?" asked Harold, "or save it as a pet for
Mary and Frank?"

"O, save it by all means," replied Robert, whose sympathies had been
from the first excited by the piteous, childlike tones of the fawn.
"Save it for sister, and let us make haste to finish this beast."

"Then lend me your handkerchief," said Harold; "mine alone is not
sufficient for both collar and cord."

Robert approached him for the purpose, when he observed the cat creep
slyly from his hole, and hobble away with all haste.  "Quick, Harold,"
cried Robert, tossing him the handkerchief, "tie the fawn, and follow
me," then dashed through the bushes in pursuit.

"Take care, you may get too near," Harold shouted; but Robert was
already lost to sight behind the underwood.  By the time the fawn was
secured, Harold heard him hallooing about one hundred paces away, and
going rapidly in that direction, saw him watching the convulsive throes
of the wild creature as it lay gasping on the ground.

Harold looked on and pleasantly remarked, "You will soon get your name
up for a hunter, if you keep improving at this rate.  That is a splendid
cat!  What claws and teeth!  Let us see how long he is."  Putting his
hands together at the thumbs, and spreading them out to span a foot, he
ascertained that it measured two feet nine inches from the nose to the
root of the short tail; and that, standing with its head erect, it must
have been fully two and a half feet high.  Its teeth and nails were
savage looking things.

"I am glad he did not fasten those ugly looking things in my leg," said
Robert; "but I was so excited by the pursuit, that I rushed at one time
almost upon him.  He had stopped behind a bush; all at once he sprang at
me with a growl, showing his white teeth, bristling his hair, and
glaring at me with his large fierce eyes.  He dodged behind another
bush, and when I next saw him he was gasping and convulsed as when you
came up."

"It would have been a desperate fight, if he had seized you," remarked
Harold; "you would have borne the marks to the end of your life."

Returning to the fawn, which struggled violently on their approach, they
soon succeeded in allaying its terror by gentle tones and kind
treatment.  It yielded passively to its fate, and consented to be led
wherever they chose.

The oranges were delicious after their long walk, and now excessive
thirst.  A few minutes served to rest their weary limbs, and they had
just begun to discuss the propriety of returning to the tent, when the
fawn pricked up its ears with the signs of renewed alarm, a neighbouring
bush was agitated, and ere they could fully grasp their guns and spring
to their feet, Mum came dashing up at full speed.

The boys were much surprised, and were afraid some accident had
happened.  Mum, however, showed no signs of anything wrong; he came up
wagging his cropped tail, and looking exceedingly pleased.  He cast a
hungry look at the fawn, as though his mouth watered for a taste, but he
offered no interference.  On close inspection, Harold observed a string
tied round his neck, to which was fastened a little roll of paper.  He
hastily took it off, and calling to Robert, they read these lines in
pencil:

"Come home quickly.  I see some one across the river; he is waving a
flag.  Mary."



                              CHAPTER XVII


MARY AND FRANK--EXAMINATION OF THE TENT--SMOKE SIGNALS--DEVICES--BRUTE
MESSENGER--RAPT--BLAZING THE TREES--VOYAGE--DISASTROUS EXPEDITION--NEWS
FROM HOME--RETURN TO THE TENT


When Robert and Harold left the tent that morning, to look for the lost
boat, Mary and Frank watched with anxious eyes their retiring forms.  It
was painful to be left alone in that vast solitude.  But the act was
necessary, and Mary resolved to bear it with cheerfulness.  In order
therefore to withdraw their minds from their situation, she proposed to
Frank to join her in exposing to the sun those articles in the tent
which had been wet by the rain.

Among these was a bundle of William’s.  "Poor William!" said Frank, "I
wonder what became of him. Don’t you think, sister, he was drowned?"

"I do not know, buddy," she answered with a sigh; "though I presume not.
William was a good swimmer, and near shore.  O, I do wish we could hear
from our dear father, and he could hear from us!  See here, Frank."  She
pointed to a valise-trunk.  "This is father’s, it contains his razors,
and all the little things that he uses every day.  I wish I could open
it, and air everything for him; both top and bottom seem to be wet."

She tried the various keys in her bunch, and to her delight found one
that fitted the lock.  Some of its contents were quite damp, and no
doubt they were saved from serious injury by her affectionate care.  In
it she spied a morocco case, which proved quite useful in the end; it
was a case of choice medicines.  Mary was careful to disturb nothing,
except so far as was needful for its preservation; for, though her
father had no concealments that she knew of, this was his private
property, and she held its privacy sacred.  After drying everything in
it, they were replaced as before.

This work had occupied them about two hours, when Frank, whose eyes were
continually directed towards the sea, with a lingering hope that he
might see his father sailing after them, exclaimed, "Sister, is not that
a smoke across the river?"

From the bluff where, three miles distant, the opposite bank of the
river overhung the sea, a bluish vapour was curling upward.  It was
evidently a smoke.  Mary gazed at it with feelings both of hope and
distrust. Who made it?  What did it mean?  She ran for the spy glass,
drew it to its focus, steadied her trembling hands against a tree,
directed it towards the point, and almost instantly exclaimed, "Some
person is there.  I can see a signal flying, like a handkerchief tied to
a pole.  But who can it be?  If it is one of our people, why does he not
come over?  O Frank, how I wish brother and cousin Harold were here."

"Let us fire off the gun, sister," Frank replied, "that will bring them
back."

They took the gun, loaded by Robert for the purpose, and fired it
repeatedly.  Mary then took another peep through the glass, and cried
out--"He sees us, Frank, whoever it is; he is waving his flag.  He must
have heard our guns, or seen their smoke.  I wonder I cannot see him.
O, yes, there he is, lying on the ground, or half lying.  Now he has put
down the flag, and I can see him dragging himself along the ground by
one arm.  What can it mean?  O, when will brother Robert and cousin
Harold come back!"

Mary’s impatience made the time seem very long.  She employed herself in
every way that she could devise for an hour, and then, turning to Frank
with a bright look, clapped her hands joyfully, and said, "I have it!
I’ll bring them back!  I mean to send a runner after them. I can do
it--O, yes, I can do it!"

Frank looked troubled.  "How can you?" he inquired.  "I am the only one
you have; and I am sure I cannot find the way any more than you can."

"No, not you, nor myself," she said; "but one that I know can find them,
and can take a note to them too."  She opened her trunk, took out a
piece of paper, pencilled upon it the note recorded in the last chapter,
tied it tightly with a string, which she fastened around Mum’s neck, and
said, "Here is my messenger!  He will find them, I warrant."  Then
loosening the chain, she said, "Hie on, Mum! hie on!"

Mum looked at her inquisitively, and was evidently in doubt what to make
of her command.  She called him to the track of the boys, pointed to it,
followed it for a few steps, and encouraged him to proceed, when the
intelligent brute took the meaning, and with a whine of joy sprang away
at a rapid trot.

The boys reached the tent about one o’clock, leading the fawn by the two
handkerchiefs.  They had been strongly tempted more than once to leave
it behind, tied to a bush, or to free it entirely, as it somewhat
retarded their movements; but having already taught it the art of
following, it came after them with rapid strides, and for the latter
half of their journey they had not to pull it in the least.  Mary and
Frank heard their distant halloo, and ran to meet them.  They were
delighted with the new pet, and spent a moment in patting its snowy
sides; but the interest excited by the person across the river absorbed
every other consideration.  As soon as Harold saw the smoke still
faintly rising, he said, "I saw that smoke this morning.  It was so
faint I could scarcely discern it darken the sky, and took it for mist.
That person has been there all night."

Robert had by this time adjusted the glass, and each looked in turn.
They could see nothing more than a little smoke.  Mary described the
position in which she saw the person lying, and dragging himself along,
after the guns were fired.  "Then," said Harold, "I will let off another
gun; and do you, Robert, place yourself so that you can see whether he
notices it."

Robert laid himself flat on the sand, rested the glass upon a log of
wood, that both he and it might be steady, and said, "Now fire!"  About
a quarter of a minute after the discharge he exclaimed, "I see him!  He
is lying upon the sand beneath the shade of a cedar.  I see him move.
He rests on one arm, as though he were sick or hurt.  Now he drags
himself as you describe, sister.  There is his flag flying again.  He
uses only one arm.  The other hangs down uselessly by his side.  Who can
it be?  I wish he was in the sunshine, for then I could see his
complexion.  But I am sure it is not a white man."

"O, it is Riley!" said Frank.  "I know it is Riley come after us.  Now
we can go home again."

Harold took the glass and used it as Robert had done. The person had by
this time put down the flag, and was reclining languidly against some
support behind him. Harold saw him grasp his left arm with his right
hand, move it gently, and lie back as before.  "That person is badly
hurt," he remarked.  "Instead of helping us, he wants us to help him.
It must be some one who was cast away in the storm last night.  Oh, for
our boat! Robert, we must go over and help him.  We can make a raft.  It
is not three miles across.  We have the oars and paddle of our boat, and
we can surely make that distance and back this evening, by hard work.
Let us see if there is not timber enough near at hand for a raft."

They looked at a fallen tree not far distant, and wished it were only
near the river bank.  "But what do I say?" said Robert.  "The palmetto,
which I felled for the cabbage, is sixty or seventy feet long, straight
as an arrow, and what is better, just at the river side."

Off they went with ax, hatchet, and nails.  Mary called after them to
say, that if they would show her the way, she and Frank would follow
them with something to eat.

"Do, cousin, if you please," said Harold.  "I, for one, am hungry
enough.  We will blaze a path for you as we pass along.  Do follow us
soon."

"Do you mean that you will chop the trees as you pass?"

"Yes, yes.  We will chop them so as to show the white wood beneath the
bark.  That is called a blaze.  You cannot mistake your way."

The work of blazing the path scarcely detained them at all; an
experienced woodsman can do it with a single blow of his ax as he moves,
without stopping.  Many of the trees were cut so as to show little more
than the mark of the hatchet.  Coming to the fallen palmetto, the boys
cut it into four lengths, one of twenty, two of seventeen, and the
remainder of ten feet long.  It was easy work; the palmetto is a soft
wood, and every blow of the ax, after going beneath the hard surface,
made a deep cut.  Then with the aid of levers, they rolled the logs to
the water’s edge; they pinned them together, sharpened the bow for a
cutwater, and fastened some cross pieces on top for seats, and as
receptacles for the thowl pins.

While thus engaged, Mary and Frank, guided by the blazed trees, and
attracted by the sound of the ax, came with a basket full of provision,
and setting it before them, remarked, "I am sorry we have no water yet
to offer you, but here are some of the oranges we brought the other
day."

It is almost incredible what a deal of work can be accomplished in a
limited time, where a person works with real vigour and good will.  The
boys were themselves astonished to find that shortly after three o’clock
they were seated on their raft, with Mary and Frank aboard, rowing
rapidly towards the landing at the tent.  A glance now at the spring
showed that they could supply themselves with water, and while Harold
scooped out a basin, and dammed it against the occasional overflow of a
wave, Robert went with Mary and Frank to the tent, from which he brought
down the guns, a jug for water, the spy-glass, and the morocco medicine
case, of which Mary had told him, and which he supposed might be needed
by the sick person.

Once more Robert and Harold embarked, leaving the younger ones on the
shore.  "Do not be alarmed," said they, seeing the tears start into
Mary’s eyes at the prospect of another separation.  "Make a good fire on
shore, and put your trust in God.  We will try to return before dark;
and we hope to bring you good news from home. If the person yonder is a
messenger from Tampa, we will let you know by firing two guns; look out,
and listen for them about five minutes after you see us land."  With a
silent prayer to God from each party for safety and success, the
voyagers waved adieu to the others, and were soon moving through the
water at the rate of more than two miles the hour.

However earnest they were to relieve the person apparently in distress,
the boys did not approach the opposite shore without caution.  They knew
themselves to be in the land of savages, who were exceedingly ingenious
and patient in their schemes of violence.  Each took in turn the glass,
when relieved by the other in rowing, and directed it upon the point to
which they were going. Approaching within a quarter of a mile of shore,
they rested upon their oars, and deliberately surveyed both the person
and the place.  They could distinctly see him reclining against the
cedar, and beckoning with his right hand.

"Harold," said Robert, "that is a negro, and I do believe it is Sam, the
carpenter.  O poor fellow! how badly hurt he appears to be.  I wonder
what can be the matter!"

They pulled along very fast, and when within a hundred yards of shore
stopped and looked again.  "It is Sam," said Robert.  "All’s right!  Let
us push on now!"

Running the raft ashore, and making it fast to their ax, sunk in the
sand for a stake, they hurried up the bluff.  There indeed lay Sam,
badly hurt and unable to move.  They ran to him, and were about to throw
their arms around him, when he beckoned them off imploringly, and said,
"Stop! stop! for marcy sake don’t shake me hard.  Huddie[#] Mas Robbut!
Huddie Mas Harrol! Bless de Lord to see you once mo’e!" the tears
streaming down the poor fellow’s face.


[#] Howdye.


"Dear old Sam!" said the boys, "we are so glad to see you.  But what is
the matter?"

"O, I am kill!" he replied; "my arm and leg bote got broke las’ night.
You got any water?"

"Plenty--plenty.  We brought it for you," and they both ran for the jug,
but Harold was foremost, and Robert returned.

"Mas Robbut," Sam asked, "wey de children?"

"We left them at the tent yonder.  They were the first to see you; and
they fired the guns that you heard."

"Bless dey young soul," he said, "I do lub ’em."

"But how is father?"

"Berry well--berry well--O Lord my leg!--’sept he in mighty trouble
’bout you all."

"Here is the water, Sam," said Harold returning, "let me hold the jug
while you drink.  There, don’t take too much at first--it may hurt you.
How is uncle?"

Sam told him.  While they were conversing, Robert ran to the raft,
brought from it his gun, went to the most conspicuous part of the bluff,
and waving first a white handkerchief, until he received an answering
signal from Mary and Frank, fired the two barrels at the interval of
several seconds.

"Please mossa, let me hab some mo’e water?" Sam asked; then taking a
hearty draught, he said, "Bless de Lord for dis nice cool water!  It is
so good!"

They inquired of him the nature and occasion of his accident.  "It was
de boat las’ night--Riley’s boat," said he.  "It kill him and cripple
me.  We come to look for you all.  De win’ blow and de sea rise; and me
and Riley went to draw the boat higher on sho’, w’en a big wave lif’ de
boat and pitch it right into Riley’s breast. It kill him I s’pose--I
nebber see him no mo’e.  W’en I come to my senses, I bin lie right on de
beach, wi’ my arm and leg broke, and de water dashin’ ober me.  I drag
myself up here las’ night, by my well arm and leg; but if it hadn’t bin
for de win’ I nebber bin git here at all--it lif’ me up like a fedder."

"That is talking enough for this time, Sam," said Robert; "you are too
sick and weak, and we have no time to spare.  Let us carry you to our
tent, and there you may talk as much as you will.  Is there anything we
can do for you before we move?"

"Only to give me a little mo’e water."  He had already drunk a quart.
He also pointed them to a certain spot, where they found Riley’s rifle
and its equipments, together with an ax and several gourds.  These were
transferred to the raft; and Harold said, "Come, Sam, tell us how we can
help you.  The sun is fast going down, and we have a long way to go.
Mary and Frank don’t wish to be left in the dark, and are no doubt
looking for us to start."

"De childun!  Bless ’em!" said Sam.  "I do want to see dey sweet face
once mo ’e.  But I ’fraid it will kill me to move.  See how my arm and
leg swell a’ready."

After much demurring, Sam consented to attempt the removal; and though
he groaned and shuddered at the thought, it was effected with far less
pain than he expected.  They spread his blanket beside him, helped him
into the middle of it, lapped and pinned its edges over a strong pole
with splinters of cedar, and taking each an end of the pole, lifted him
gently from the ground, and bore him at full length to the raft, where
they had previously prepared a couch of moss.

The sun sunk into the waters ere they had gone half a mile; but the boys
pulled with a hearty good will, and moreover with the advantage of a
little wind in their favour.  It was dark when they landed, or rather,
dark as it could be with a bright moon nearly at the full. Robert took
occasion while at the helm to re-load his two barrels with powder, and
repeat the signal agreed upon. As the darkness deepened they could see
afar off the figures of Mary and Frank standing upon the beach, before a
fire which they had made as a guide to the voyagers, and listening
apparently to every thump of the oars. Long before words could be
distinguished, Frank’s clear voice rang over the waters in a tone of
inquiry.  The two boys united their voices at a high musical pitch, and
sung out, "Sam!  Sam!" repeating it at intervals until they perceived
from the tones of the children on shore that the name had been heard.
Presently Frank’s voice shouted shrilly, "Howdy, Sam?"  Poor Sam tried
to answer, but his voice was too weak.  Robert and Harold answered for
him.  Mary would have called out too; but the truth is she was crying
for joy, and was not able to utter a word.



                             CHAPTER XVIII


NIGHT LANDING--CARRYING A WOUNDED PERSON--SETTING ONE’S OWN LIMBS WHEN
BROKEN--SPLINTING A LIMB--REST TO THE WEARY


It was a picturesque scene as the raft drew near shore.  The soft
moonlight upon the bluff--the faint sparkle of the briny water broken by
the oars--the lurid light from the resinous fire--the dark shadows and
excited movements of Mary and Frank--formed altogether a group worthy of
a painter’s skill.

Frank could scarcely be restrained from rushing through the water to
welcome the new comer; but when he heard how weak he was, and in what
bad condition, he waited in quietness.  Harold took him in his arms, and
Robert made a stepping place for Mary with the oars, and they both shook
hands with the poor fellow, and told him how sorry they were to see him
so badly hurt.

Leaving Harold and Frank at the raft, Robert and Mary hastened to the
tent to prepare a place for the invalid, that he need not be disturbed
after being once removed.  They lit a candle, piled the trunks in a
corner of the room, and taking most of the moss that constituted their
beds, laid it in another corner, remarking, "We can easily obtain more;
or we can even sleep on the ground tonight, if necessary, for his sake."

"I wish we had an old door, or even a plank long enough for him to lie
upon, as we bring him from the raft," said Robert, "it would be so much
easier to his broken bones, if they could be kept straight.  But the
blanket is next best, and with that we must be content."

By the time the transfer was completed, the boys were exceedingly weary,
having been disturbed all the preceding night, and engaged in vigorous
and incessant effort ever since they arose from their short sleep.  They
sat for half an hour revelling in the luxury of rest. Sam appeared to
suffer so much and to be so weak, that they discouraged him from
talking, and took their own seats outside the tent, that he might be
able to sleep.

"What have you done with the fawn, sister?" inquired Robert, willing to
divert their minds from the painful thoughts that were beginning to
follow the excitement of hearing from home.

"O, we fed it with sassafras leaves and grass," said she, "and gave it
water.  After that we sewed the torn skin to its place upon the neck,
and it appears to be doing very well."

"You are quite a surgeon, cousin Mary," Harold remarked.  "I think we
shall have to call you our ’Sister of Mercy.’  If, however, our
handkerchiefs are still tied to it, I will suggest that it may be best
for it, as well as for us, that you make a soft pad for its neck, and
put on the dog’s collar."

"We have done that already," she replied.  "I thought of it as soon as
we returned to the tent and saw the dog’s chain.  But as for my being a
surgeon, it requires very little skill to know that the sooner a fresh
wound is attended to, and the parts brought to the right place for
healing the better."

"That is a fact," said Robert, starting, as a deep groan from the tent
reached his ears; "and that reminds me that perhaps Sam is suffering at
this moment for the want of having his bones set.  We must attend to
them at once."

"Set a broken arm and leg!" exclaimed Harold in surprise.  "Why, Robert,
do you know how to do it?"

"Certainly," he replied.  "There is no mystery about it; and father, you
know, teaches us children everything of the kind, as soon as we are able
to learn it.  I have never set the bones of a _person_, but I did once
of a dog, and succeeded very well."

Harold asked him to describe the process.  Robert replied, "If the bones
appear to have moved from their proper place, all that you have to do is
to pull them apart lengthways by main strength so that they will
naturally slide together, or else can be made to do so by the pressure
of your hand.  Then you must bandage the limb with strips of cloth,
beginning at its extremity, so as to keep the parts in place; and over
this you must bind a splint, to keep the bone from being bent or jostled
out of place. That is all."

They went into the tent, and made inquiry of Sam whether his bones did
not need attention.  He replied that maybe his leg was in need of
setting, but that as for his arm he had _sot_ that himself, and that it
was in need only of splintering.

"You set it yourself!  Why, how did you manage that?" inquired Robert.

"You remember, Mas Robbut, I bin hab my arm broke once befo’e; so I
knowed jes what to do," replied Sam, and then he went on to describe his
process.  He said that finding the bones out of place, he had tied the
hand of his broken arm to a root of the cedar, and strained himself back
until the bones were able to pass, when he pressed them into place by
means of his well hand.

After that he tore some strips from his clothing, and tied the hand over
his breast, at the same time stuffing his bosom full of moss, to keep
the bone straight, and over all passing a bandage, to keep the arm
against his side.  He had made a similar attempt to set the bone of his
leg, but it pained him so much that he had given up the attempt.

On examination, Robert learned that the arm was broken between the elbow
and shoulder, and that the leg was fractured between the knee and ankle.
"The leg," said he, "is safe enough.  Below the knee are two bones, and
only one of these is broken.  Would you like to have the bandage and
splints put on your arm tonight?"

Sam replied that he was sure he should sleep better if Mas Robert was
not too tired to attend to it, for he would be "mighty onrestless" while
his bones were in that "fix."

The wearied boy pondered a moment, and asked his sister to tear one of
the sheets or table-cloths into strips about as wide as her three
fingers, and to sew the ends together, to make a bandage five or six
yards long, while he and Harold prepared the splints.  They then went to
the palmetto tree, half a mile distant, and selecting one of the
broadest and straightest of its flat, polished limbs, returned to the
tent, and produced from it a lath about the length of the arm.  Having
bandaged the limb from the finger-ends to the shoulder, they bound it to
this splint, which extended from the armpit to the extremity, and Robert
pronounced the operation complete.

Sam was profuse in his praise of Robert’s surgery, bestowing upon it
every conceivable term of laudation, and seeming withal to be truly
grateful.  "Tankee, Mas Robert!  Tankee, Mas Harold!  Tankee, my dear
little misses!  Tankee, Mas Frank too!  Tankee, ebbery body! I sure I
bin die on dat sand-bank, ’sept you all bin so kind to de poor nigger."

"No more of that, Sam," said Robert, "you were hurt in trying to help
us; it is but right we should help you."

At the close of this scene, the young people prepared for bed.  It was
past ten o’clock, and they were sadly in need of rest; but so strongly
had their sympathies been excited for their black friend, that even
little Frank kept wide awake, waiting his turn to be useful.  When,
however, their work was done, and they had lain down to rest, they
needed no lullaby to hush them into slumber. Within twenty minutes after
the light was extinguished, and during the livelong night, nothing was
to be heard in that tent but the hard breathing of the wearied sleepers.
Thanks to God for sleep!  None but the weary know its blessedness.



                              CHAPTER XIX


THE SURPRISE AND DISAPPOINTMENT--NAMING THE FAWN--SAM’S
STORY--DEPRESSION AFTER EXCITEMENT--GREAT MISFORTUNE


Had there been nothing to excite them the company might have overslept
themselves on the following morning.  But shortly after daylight they
were awaked by an incident that hurried them all out of bed.  It was
nothing less than hearing Frank exclaim, in a laughing, joyous tone, "O
father, howdy! howdy!  I am so glad you have come!"

The dull ears of the sleepers were caught by these welcome words, and
all sprang to their feet.

"Father!  Father!  Is he here?" they asked. "Where, Frank? where!"

"Yonder," said he, sitting bolt-upright in bed, rubbing his half-opened
eyes with one hand, and with the other pointing to a corner of the tent.
"Isn’t that father?  I saw him there just now."

It was only a dream.  Frank had been thinking more than usual of home
during the day and night past, and it was natural that his visions of
the night should be of the same character with his dreams of the day.
He fancied that his father had found the lost boat, and having tied it
at the landing, was coming to the tent. Poor fellow! he was sadly
disappointed to learn that it was all a dream.  The picture was so
vivid, and his father looked so real, that for a moment he was perfectly
confused.  Mary tried to comfort him by saying, "Never mind, buddy; we
_will_ see him coming some of these days.  But though father is not
here, you remember that Sam is, and that he is going to tell us about
home, as soon as he is able to talk.  Come, let us get up, and see how
he is."  The history of the preceding day dawned slowly upon the mind of
the bewildered child, and the sense of disappointment was gradually lost
in the hope of hearing Sam’s story.

The wounded man had spent a night of suffering. His leg pained him so
intensely, that several times he had been on the point of calling for
assistance; but hearing from every one that peculiar breathing which
betokens deep sleep, and remembering that they had undergone immense
fatigue, he stifled his groans, and bore his sufferings in silence.

While Robert and Harold were occupied with kind offices around the
couch, Mary and Frank went to see after the fawn.  Its neck was somewhat
sore to the touch, but otherwise it appeared to be doing well.  They
gave it more water, hay and sassafras leaves.  Frank offered it also a
piece of bread; but wild deer are not used to cookery, and the fawn
rejected it; though, after becoming thoroughly tamed, it became so fond
of bread of every kind, that it would follow Frank all over the woods
for a piece no bigger than his finger.  "What shall we call her?" asked
Frank.

"We will have a consultation about that," replied Mary, as she saw the
others approaching.  "Cousin Harold, what name would you give?"

"Snow or Lily, I think, would suit her colour very well," he answered.

"Brother Robert, what is yours?"

"As she came from among the flowers," he said, "I think Flora would do
very well."

"Yes," added Mary, "and very pretty names all Frank, what is yours?"

"Anna," said he, "I would like to talk to her sometimes, and to make
believe that she was Sister Anna."

"That would sound almost too much like Nannie," Mary objected, and then
asked, "Did you say, brother, that you gave her to me?"  He replied,
"Yes." "Then," she added, "I will call her Dora, for I heard father say
that that name means a gift."

"Dora let it be," said Robert, patting its delicate head.  "Miss Dora, I
wish you a speedy cure, and a pleasant captivity."

About nine o’clock Sam awakened from a refreshing sleep, and the anxious
company assembled at his side to hear what he had to tell about home.
"I a’nt got much to tell," said Sam, "I lef so soon a’ter you all, dat
you know most all sept what happen to me and Riley on de way."

"Let us hear it all," said Robert.

"But before you begin," interrupted Mary, "do tell us about William.
Was he drowned or not?"

(For the sake of the reader who may not be familiar with the lingo of
southern and sea-coast negroes, the narrative will be given in somewhat
better English, retaining, however, the peculiarities of thought and
drapery.)

"O, no, Misses," he replied to Mary’s question.  "He only fell backward
into the water, and was a little strangled.  He rose directly, and gave
the alarm.  I suppose the reason that you did not hear him was that he
was under the wharf, holding tight to a post, for fear some of the fish
might come and take hold of him too.  He came with me to Riley’s
Island."

"Now do you begin at the beginning," said Robert, "and tell us one thing
after another, just as it happened. If there is anything of which we
wish to hear more particularly, we will stop you to inquire."

"Well," said Sam, "you know that when you left I was working in the back
room.  I was putting in the window sash, when I heard your father
talking to some one at the door, and saying, ’Stay here, I will be out
in a moment!’  He went into his room, came out with something in his
hand, and spoke a word to the man at the door, when we heard William’s
voice, crying out, ’Help! help!’ as if he was half smothered.  Your
father said, ’What can be the matter?’  I heard him and the stranger
running towards the bluff, and I ran too.  When I reached a place where
I could see you (for the little cedars were between the house and the
water), your father had just fallen upon his knees. He had his two hands
joined together, and was praying very hard; he was pale as a sheet, and
groaned as if his heart was breaking.  For a while I could hardly take
my eyes off from him; but I could see you in the boat, going over the
water like a dove through the air, leaving a white streak of foam
behind.  Presently your father rose from his knees, and said, ’It is a
devil fish! He cannot hold that gait long.  Sam, do you and William (for
William had by this time come up from the water), get the canoe ready in
a minute, and let us pursue them;’ then he wrung his hands again, and
said, ’O, my God, have mercy, and spare my children!’

"William and I ran a few steps toward the canoe, but I came back to tell
master that the canoe could not float--a piece of timber had fallen from
the wharf, and punched a great hole in it.  Then the soldier spoke, and
said, ’The Major has a fine sail boat, Doctor.  If you can do no better,
I will ride very fast, and ask him to send it.’  ’Do, if you please,’
master said.  ’Tell the Major he is my only help on earth.  Lay your
horse to the ground, good soldier, I will pay all damages.’  The soldier
turned short off, clapped his spurs to his horse, and made him lay
himself almost straight to the ground.

"When your father came to the canoe, he said quickly, ’We can mend that
hole, and set off long before the boat comes from Tampa.  Peter, make a
fire here at once--quick! quick!  Judy, run to the house, and bring down
a pot, and the cake of wax, and a double handful of oakum.  William, do
you go to the house too, and bring the side of harness leather, two
hammers, and a paper of the largest tacks.  And Sam,’ said he to me,
’let us take hold of the boat, and turn it over ready for mending.’  The
hole was big as my head, and there were two long cracks besides; but we
worked very fast, and the boat was ready for the water in less than an
hour.  Your father worked as hard as any of us, but every once in a
while he turned to watch you, and looked very sorrowful.  At last you
went so far away that we could barely see you, like a little speck,
getting smaller and smaller.  When you were entirely out of our sight,
your father took his other spy glass, went on top of the shed, and
watched you till we were ready to go.  Then he came to us, and said to
me and William, ’I have concluded to send you off alone; you can row
faster without me.  I will wait for the Major’s boat. The children are
now passing Riley’s Island, and turning down the coast.  Make haste to
Riley, and say from me, that if he brings me back my children I will
give him whatever he asks.  If he needs either of you, do you, Sam, go
with him, and do you, William, return to me; otherwise do you both keep
on so far as you can with safety, and if you succeed, I will give you
also whatever you ask.  If you can hear anything of them from Riley,
make a smoke on the beach; if you learn anything good make two smokes,
about a hundred yards apart; I will watch for them.  And now, my good
fellows, good-bye! and may the Lord give you a safe passage and good
success!’  Neither I nor William could say one word.  We took hold of
master’s hands, knelt down, and kissed them.  And, somehow, I saw his
hand was very wet; we could not help it, for we love him the same as if
he was our father, and the tears would come.

"We reached the island about twelve o’clock.  Riley was gone.  His wife
said he saw the boat pass, knew who was in it, and went after it,
without stopping for more than a calabash of water.  When we heard that,
we jumped into our own boat again, and pushed on. Riley’s wife brought
down a bag of parched corn, a dried venison ham, and his gun and
ammunition, saying that if he went he would need these things.  We
begged her to make two fires on the beach; for we thought that although
it was not the best news in the world to hear that you had been carried
so far away, it was good news to hear that you had not been drowned, and
that Riley had gone after you.

"In about an hour we met Riley coming back.  He had gone to a high
bluff, on an island south of his, and watched you until you had passed
out of sight. He was now returning home, uncertain whether to go after
you in the morning, or to give you up altogether. When we gave him your
father’s message, he said he would go, for that the Doctor was a good
man, but that he must return home for a larger boat; that the coast
below was dangerous, and that the boat in which he was was not safe.  So
we came to his island, where I staid with him that night, and William
returned to Bellevue.

"As we left the island at daybreak we saw a vessel sailing towards
Tampa, but too far for us to hail.  That day we did not search the coast
at all, more than to keep a sharp look out, for we knew that you had
gone far beyond.  But the next three days we went into every cove and
inlet, though not very far into any of them. Riley said that since the
change of Indian Agents, many of his people were hostile to the whites,
and to all Indians who were friendly with them, and that perhaps he
should not be safe.

"We saw some Indians on the first few days, but the last day we saw none
at all.  Riley said that this coast was barren and bad; nobody visited
it.  The Caloosa Indians, he said, used to live here, but they had been
starved out.  There was only a narrow strip of ten miles wide, between
the sea and the swamps within, and a great fire had swept over it a few
summers before, and burnt up almost all the trees.  The Indians supposed
that this part of the coast was cursed by the Great Spirit.

"All that day we found the coast so full of reefs and shoals, and
covered with breakers, that we could scarcely get along; and we talked
several times of turning back. These breakers that you see from the
bluff, stretch from a great ways above.  Riley did not like to pass
them.  He said he was afraid we could not stop anywhere, except on an
island, which no Indian dared to visit; for that it was always enchanted
with _white deer_,[#] and the curse of the Great Spirit was so strong
upon it that no Indian could go there and live.


[#] It is surprising to learn how widespread is the superstition among
semi-civilized and uncivilized nations that white deer are connected
with enchantment.


"We kept on, however, as well as we could, and hoped to find some place
where we could pass the surf upon the shoals, and reach the shore,
before we came to that terrible island.  But the wind was against us,
and also blowing on shore; and we made so little headway, that towards
evening we had to force our way through the smoothest place we could
find, and even then were nearly swamped more than once.  When we landed
it was dark. We saw a fire afar off, and thinking it might be yours, I
tried to persuade Riley to go to it; but perhaps he thought it was on
_that island_, though he did not say so; he replied only that we were
going to have a storm soon, and that we must be preparing for it.  We
drew the boat as high on the beach as possible, and made it fast by his
painter, made of twisted deerskins.

"After we landed I cut some wood, and tried to make a fire; but before
we could set it a-blazing the wind came and the tide rose.  We went to
the boat, and drew it up higher on shore, and then higher still; but
after a while the wind blew so hard, and the waves rolled so high, that
it was not safe to be near the boat at all.  Yet we could not afford to
lose it; so we went down for the last time to draw it up, when all at
once a big wave came and pitched it upon us as I told you.

"I had a terrible night.  The water from the beach dashed over me while
lying under the cedar tree to which I had crawled, and the rain poured
down.  The wind kept such a roaring that I suppose if a cannon had been
fired a mile off you could not have heard it.

"The next morning I tried to set my broken bones. Then I dragged myself
to the edge of the bluff to see if Riley’s body, or the boat, or
anything was in sight.  But nothing was to be seen except the black
water rolling in from sea.  As the light became stronger, I saw afar off
your tent and smoke, and I was then sure that the fire we saw the night
before was yours.  I tried every way to make you see me.  I took Riley’s
rifle, and snapped it, but the powder inside was wet.  Then I went to a
bush, and with my one hand cut a long switch, to which I tied my
handkerchief, and waved and waved it; but nobody saw me.  I could see
_you_ very well (for my sight is good) sitting down, or walking about,
as if you were in trouble about something.  Then I tried to raise a
smoke.  Everything was wet; but the tree near me had a hollow, and in
the hollow was some dry rotten wood.  I spread some powder on the driest
pieces, and by snapping the rifle over it several times, set it on fire;
but it was a long time before I could find anything to burn well.  While
I was trying at the fire, you, Mas Robbut and Mas Harrol, went off; but
I kept on throwing into the fire whatever trash and small wood I could
collect by crawling after them, until I was sure Miss Mary and Mas Frank
would see it.  At last I heard their guns, and knew by their motions
that they saw me; and for a time I felt safe.  But you were so long time
away, and I was in such pain, that it seemed to me I must die before you
could help me, though I saw you come to the tent, and heard your guns.
And when, late in the evening, I saw that you had got a boat, or
something of that sort, and were coming over the river to me, I was so
glad that I--I--"

Sam did not finish the sentence.  The tears were streaming down his
black face, and the young people were weeping with him.  There were but
few questions to be asked.  Sam’s narrative had been so full and
particular, that it anticipated almost every inquiry.

The severe labours of the day before, together with excitement and loss
of rest, had so far relaxed the energies of the larger boys, that they
did little more that day than hang about the tent, and converse with Sam
and each other about home and their own adventures. Several times Harold
proposed to Robert to join him in visiting the beach, to ascertain
whether their signal had stood the storm, and if not, to replant it; but
Robert ever had some reason ready for not going just then.  At last,
late in the afternoon, they took the spade and hoe, and went to the
beach.  The flag was prostrate, and lay half buried in the sand; and
what was their dismay, on approaching the bluff, to see a vessel that
had evidently passed the mouth of the river just beyond the shoals, and
was now about four miles distant, sailing to the southward.

"O, cousin!" exclaimed Robert, "there is our vessel--gone!  It is the
cutter!  Father is aboard of her! They came as near as they could,
looking for our signal--and there it lies!  Oh--h!" said he, wringing
his hands, "why did we not come sooner?"

"I believe you are correct," replied Harold, looking sadly after the
departing vessel; "we have missed our chance."

There remained one solitary hope.  It was possible, barely possible,
that some one on board might be looking that way with a spy-glass, and
that the signal might yet be seen.  The boys eagerly seized the
flag-staff; they set the lower end upon the ground; they waved it to and
fro in the air; they shook their handkerchiefs; they tossed up their
hats and coats, and shouted with all their might (vain shout!), "Brig
ahoy!"  They gathered grass, leaves, twigs, everything inflammable, and
raised a smoke, as large as possible, and kept it rising, higher,
higher.  They were too late; the vessel kept steadily on her way.  She
faded gradually from sight, and disappeared for ever.

The two boys sat down, and looked sorrowfully over the distant waters.
They were pale with excitement, and for a long time neither said a word.

"They may return," said Harold; "let us plant our flag-staff."

They dug a deep hole, set the pole in the middle, threw in the dirt,
packed it tightly with the handle of the hoe, and then returned slowly
to the tent, to inform the others of their sad misfortune.



                               CHAPTER XX


SPECULATIONS AND RESOLVES--FISHING--INVENTORY OF GOODS AND
CHATTELS--ROASTED FISH--PALMETTO CABBAGE--TOUR--SEA-SHELLS, THEIR
USES--THE PELICAN--NATURE OF THE COUNTRY--STILL HUNTING--WILD TURKEYS
AGAIN--WORK ON THE TENT


The little company did not retire early that night.  Sorrow kept them
awake.  They sat for a long time speculating upon the probable
destination of the vessel, and upon their own expectations in the case.
To one it seemed probable that their father had obtained the use of the
cutter, for the purpose of examining the coast; to another, that he had
been brought by it to the place where they had last been seen, and that
he was now not far away; to another, that he would go down as far as the
Florida Keys, and there employ some of the wreckers to join him in the
search. At any rate they were sure that a search was going on, and that
it would not be long before they were discovered, and taken home.

Ere retiring to rest that night they adopted a series of resolutions,
the substance of which was that they should live every day in the
expectation of being taken off, and yet husband their resources, as
though they were to continue there for months.

1st.  They were to keep their signal always flying.

2d.  To be as much as possible on the lookout.

3d.  To have a pile of wood ready for a smoke near the signal.

4th.  To keep on hand a store of provisions sufficient for several
weeks.

5th.  To examine, and know exactly what stores they possessed.

6th.  To use no more of their permanent stock than was absolutely
necessary, but to live upon the resources of the island.

7th.  To fit up their habitation more securely, that in case of being
assailed by such another storm as that of Sunday night, they should
enjoy a more perfect protection.

8th.  In every possible way to be ready either for departing home, or
continuing there an indefinite length of time.

In consequence of these resolutions, the first business to which they
attended on the following morning, was the preparation of the pile of
wood for their signal by smoke; and the next, the provision of a stock
of food. As a temporary fulfilment of this last named duty, Harold went
with Frank to obtain a supply of fish, leaving Robert and Mary at the
tent, to make out the proposed inventory of goods.  Both parties
fulfilled their contracts, and on coming together, Harold reported eight
large trout, besides a number of crabs, and a small turtle; and Robert
read a list, showing that besides the stores put up by their father for
Riley, and those brought by Sam and Riley in their boat, consisting of
bread and bacon, parched corn and dried venison, there were rations for
a full fortnight or more.

Of the trout brought by Harold, all except one had been cleaned, and
presented to Mary; the last he reserved for the purpose, he said, of
giving them another specimen of wild-woods’ cookery.  Before sitting
down to dinner, he took this one without any preparation whatever of
scaling or cleansing, and wrapping it in green leaves, laid it in the
ashes to roast.  It was soon done.  Then peeling off the skin, he helped
each to the pure white meat in such a way as to leave the skeleton and
its contents untouched.  Mary’s taste was offended by the sight of a
dish so rudely prepared; but hearing the others speak in surprise of its
peculiarly delicate flavour, she also was tempted to try, and then
partook of it as heartily as any one else.

While Harold was absent on his fishing excursion, Robert, having
completed his inventory, had obtained another stick of palmetto cabbage.
By Sam’s instruction, this was freed from every particle of the green
and hard covering, boiled in three separate waters, in the last of which
was put a little salt.  When thoroughly done, it was laid in a dish, and
seasoned with butter. Prepared thus it was a real delicacy, partaking of
the combined flavours of the cauliflower and the artichoke.

Bent resolutely upon living as real "marooners" on the productions of
the island, the boys felt that it was necessary for them first to know
something more of the country around.  It was therefore agreed that they
should devote that day to a combined tour of hunting and exploration.
To this Mary also consented, for she had now become more accustomed to
her situation, and moreover had Sam with her as an adviser.

Taking an early breakfast, and calling Mum, they departed, leaving
Fidelle as a protector to Mary and Frank.  The course which they pursued
was along the coast.  For a mile they walked on the smooth hard beach,
and saw it covered with innumerable shells, of all sorts and sizes.
Some were most beautifully fluted; others were encircled with spurs or
sharp knots; some were tinted with an exquisite rose colour; others were
snowy white, and others of a dark mahogany.  Conchs of a large size were
abundant, and there were myriads of little rice-shells.

"I wonder if these shells can be put to no use?" asked Harold.

"Certainly," Robert responded.  "If we need lime we can obtain it by
burning them.  These large round shells may be cut so as to make
handsome cups and vases.  The long ones are used by many poor people for
spoons.  And the conch makes a capital trumpet; our negroes on the
seaboard make a hole in the small end for this purpose.  We often hear
the boatmen blowing their conchs at night; and when the sound comes to
us across the water, as an accompaniment to their boat songs, it is
particularly sweet."

On learning these uses of the conch shell, Harold selected several fine
specimens, and threw them higher on the beach, remarking, that in case
they remained upon the island they would need other signals than those
of the gun or the smoke for calling each other’s attention; and that he
intended to try his skill in converting some of these shells into
trumpets.

Pocketing some of the most delicate varieties for Mary and Frank, they
continued down the coast, attracted by a large white object near the
water-side.  At first it appeared to be a great heap of foam thrown
there by the sea, but soon they saw it move, and Robert pronounced it to
be a pelican.  "It is a pity that it is not eatable," said he, "for one
bird would furnish more flesh than a larger gobbler.  But it is fishy."

"O, if that be its only fault we can correct it," replied Harold.  "I
recollect one day when you were sea-sick, hearing the captain say that
he had eaten every sea-bird that flies, except Mother Cary’s chickens;
and that he took off the skin as you would that of a deer or rabbit, and
soaked the flesh in strong brine; or if he was on shore he buried it for
a day or two in the earth, and that then the flesh was pleasant enough.
He said, moreover, that the fishy taste of water-fowl comes mostly from
the skin.  Come, let us get that fellow.  I cannot help thinking what a
nice shawl, in cold or rainy weather, his skin would make for Mary, if
properly cured with all its feathers on."

The pelican, however, saved them all future trouble on account of either
its flesh or its skin, for, being a very shy bird, it flew away long
before they came within gunshot.  Having ascended the bluff, they stood
upon a bank of sand, and looking far down the coast saw it curve out of
sight, without offering any inducement to pursue it further.
Immediately upon the bluff, and for a quarter of a mile inland, the
country was bare of trees, except here and there a cluster of dwarfish
cedars, overtopped by tall palmettoes; but in the interior the forest
trees appeared rising into loftier magnificence the farther they grew
from the sea. Striking across this barren strip--which, however, was
pleasantly varied by patches of cacti loaded with superb crimson pears,
and by little wildernesses of chincopin (dwarf-chestnut) bushes, whose
open burrs revealed each a shining jet black cone--and entering the kind
of forest where game might be expected, Harold gave Mum the order to
"Hie on"; and he was soon dashing about in every direction.

"I suppose," said Robert, "that you intend to _still hunt_.  But if so,
you must remember that I have the art yet to learn; and if you wish not
to be interrupted by my blunders, you had better describe now, before we
go to work, how it is that still hunters find their game, and then how
they approach it."

"They find their game by various means," Harold replied, acknowledging,
at the same time, the justice of Robert’s remarks.  "Some by their own
keen eyes alone in watching or in tracking; others by a dog trained for
the purpose, as we expect to do.  This last is the easier if the dog is
good.  When Mum has discovered a trail, he will keep directly before us,
and as the trail freshens he will grow more cautious, until at last his
step becomes as stealthy and noiseless as a cat.  We must then be
cautious too.  If the woods are close so that we cannot see the deer,
nor they see us until we are upon them, our success will depend upon the
quickness of our shots, and the certainty of our aim; but if the woods
are open, so that we can see them afar off, we must use the cover of a
hill or of a thicket to conceal our approach, or else one of us must
leave the dog with the other, and advance upon them in the open woods."

"But you do not mean to say," Robert argued, in surprise, "that deer
will allow you to come upon them in broad day-light, and shoot them
down?"

"Yes, I do," he replied; "and it is easy enough if you will pursue the
right plan.  When a deer feeds, he directs his eyes to the ground; and
during that time he sees nothing except what is just at his nose. That
is the opportunity you must take to advance.  The moment he lifts his
head you must stand stock still; and if you can manage to be of the
colour of a stump, he will be apt to take you for one."

"But can you stop soon enough to imitate a stump!"

"Of course you must be quick; but this brings me to speak of another
fact.  A deer never puts down nor raises his head without first shaking
his tail.  Keep your eye therefore steadily fixed upon him, and guide
your motions by his signs.  Old Torgah used to give me an amusing
account of the difference between deer and turkeys in this respect; for,
with all their sagacity, in some things deer are very simple, while the
turkey is so keen and watchful as to be called by hunters ’the wit of
the woods.’  Old Torgah’s account, given in his broken English is this:
’’Ingin,’ said he, ’see deer feed, and creep on him when his head down.
Deer shake ’ee tail; Injin stop still.  Deer look hard at him, and say
"stump! stump! nothing but stump!"  Presently Injin creep close, and
shoot him down.  But Injin see turkey feed, and creep on him.  Turkey
raise ’ee long neck to look, and Injin stand still like a stump; but
turkey never say "stump!" once; he say, "dat old Injin now!" and he
gone.’  But see, Mum has struck the trail of something.  Notice how
eager he is, yet how patiently he waits for us.  Come, let us follow."

In Robert’s opinion, Mum’s reputation for patience was, on the present
occasion, not deserved; for his pace was so rapid that it was difficult
for them to keep within sight, and moreover he soon sprang ahead, and
burst into a full loud cry.  "I thought you said that he hunted in
silence," he remarked, almost out of breath with running.

"I said he was silent on the trail of _deer_," replied Harold, "but
these are turkeys.  Do you not see the deep print of their toes in
running!  Mum knows what he is about.  His racing after them will cause
them to fly into the trees; and then as he stands below and barks, they
will keep their eyes fixed on him, and never notice us.  There they are!
See in that oak!  Robert, do you advance behind the cover of yonder
mossy tree. I will find some other place.  But as my rifle will carry
farther than your smooth bore, do not mind me, except to await my
signal.  As soon as you are ready to fire, let me know by a whistle; if
I am ready, I will answer you; and then do you fire about a second after
you hear me.  I will take the highest turkey."

They advanced silently but rapidly.  Each came within a fair distance.
Mum kept up a furious barking as the hunters approached.  One whistle
was heard, then another; three reports followed in quick succession; and
four turkeys, two of them magnificent gobblers, tumbled heavily from the
tree.

"Well done for us!  Hurra!" shouted the boys, rushing upon their prey.

It was indeed good shooting, although part of it was accidental.  Robert
fairly won the credit of his two shots, having brought down the birds he
aimed at; but the ball from Harold’s rifle had passed through the eye of
the one which he had selected, and broken the legs of another unseen by
him beyond, and it now lay floundering upon the ground unhurt, except in
its fractured limbs, but unable to rise.

The young hunters swung their prizes over a pole, of which each took an
end, and then turned their faces homewards.  The distance was not more
than two miles, but burdened as they were with guns and game, and
compelled to cut their way through frequent network of the grape-vine
and yellow jessamine, and dense masses of undergrowth, they were nearly
two hours in making it.  Frank spied them from afar, and giving Mary a
call, bounded to meet them.  "Whew!" he whistled, on seeing their load,
"what a bundle of turkeys!"  He offered to help them carry a part of the
load, but they were too weary to stop and untie.  They preferred that
Mary and Frank should show their kindness, by providing them with some
cool water.  "We will pay you for your trouble," said they, patting
their pockets, which were stuffed full of something heavy; "make haste,
and let us have it."

By the time they had wiped their wet brows, and begun to enjoy their
rest, the water came.  The boys first emptied their pockets of the
shells and chincopins, found during their ramble, then cooled themselves
by bathing their wrists; after which they drank, and casting themselves
at length upon their couches of moss, they talked across the tent to
Sam, who seemed to be as much elated as any of them with their success.

It was now past the middle of the day.  The afternoon was spent in
working upon their tent.  Their object was to make it more impervious to
rain and drift, in case of another storm; and this they effected by
raising the floor, and by spreading the sail of their boat as a sort of
outer awning.



                              CHAPTER XXI


RAINY DAY--THE KITCHEN AND FIRE--HUNTING THE OPOSSUM


It was fortunate for the young adventurers that they had executed so
promptly their intended work upon the tent, for though they had no heavy
wind, the rain poured down during the whole night; and when they arose
next morning, the sky was full of low scudding clouds, which promised
plenty of rain for all that day, and perhaps for days to come.  But,
though the tent was dry as a hay loft, there were several deficiencies.
They had but a meagre supply of wood, and their kitchen fire was without
a shelter.  The wind and rain were both chilly; and, it was plain, that
without somebody’s getting wet they must content themselves with a cold
breakfast, and a shivering day.

"Why did we not think of this before?" Robert querulously asked.

"Simply because we had other things to think of," replied Harold.  "For
my part, I am thankful that we have a dry tent."

"So am I," rejoined Robert, changing his tone.  "But I should be still
more thankful if we had a place where we could sit by the fire."

"Very likely, _now_ since we know from experience, how uncomfortable it
is to be without.  But I doubt if any of us would be half so thankful,
were it not for being put to inconvenience.  I recollect a case in
point. My mother was once taken sick while we were travelling through
the Indian nation.  At that time the Indians were becoming hostile, and
we were every day expecting them to declare war.  O, how troubled we all
were! I remember that every morning we made it a point to say how
thankful we were for spending another night, without being scalped.  But
afterwards, when we had returned home, and could spend our days and
nights in peace, we forgot to be thankful at all."

Robert smiled at the naturalness of the description, and remarked,
"Well, I think we shall be thankful now for a fire and shelter.  Can we
not devise some way to have them?"

The result of this conference was, that in the course of an hour they
set up the boat-awning as a sort of kitchen, enclosed on three sides by
the remaining bed-sheets, and having a fire at the windward gable, near
which they sat very cosily on boxes and trunks brought from the tent.

Contrary to their expectation, the rain began to abate about noon, and
long before sunset the surface of the earth was so much dried, and the
drops left upon the trees and bushes so thoroughly exhaled or shaken off
by a brisk wind, that the boys used the opportunity to bring in a supply
of wood and lightwood.  The light-wood was very rich, and split into
such beautiful torch pieces, that Harold was tempted to think of a kind
of sport in which he had often engaged, and in which he was very fond.
"We have been pent up all day," said he to Robert; "suppose we change
the scene by taking a fire-hunt tonight."

"With all my heart," was the reply; "and I think no one will object to
our having a fat roast pig for our Sunday’s dinner."

"Probably not," Harold rejoined, "and I am still more in favour of the
idea, for the reason that, as we take such game alive, we can keep it as
long as we will."

Their preparation for the excursion consisted simply in splitting an
armful of lightwood, which Harold tied into a bundle, to be readily
slung over the shoulders by a strap.  In the midst of their preparations
Frank came up, and on learning their purpose, almost shouted for joy.
He had so often heard Sam and William speak of the pleasure of their
’possum hunts, that it had long been the height of his ambition, as a
sportsman, to engage in one; but for various reasons the convenient time
had never yet come.

"O, I am so glad!" he exclaimed, with a face lighted with pleasure; "you
will let me go, won’t you?"

Here now was a dilemma.  How could they refuse him? and yet how could
they with propriety leave Mary with no other companion than poor
bed-ridden Sam? The boys saw no alternative but to give up the hunt,
until Robert proposed himself to stay with Mary, on condition that Frank
should carry the torch and light-wood, while Harold bore the ax and gun.
But to their gratification, Frank, perceiving the difficulties of the
case, and ashamed to rob his brother of a place which he himself was
incompetent to fill, set the matter at rest, by saying:

"No, brother, I will not go tonight; I will wait and go with Cousin
Harold some time when Sam gets well. But you must give me the pigs when
you come back, and let me feed them every day."

They praised him sincerely for his act of self-denial, and promised that
he should be no loser on account of it.  Soon as it was dark they bid
him good-night, and departed.  He stood in the tent door, happy in the
thought of their pleasure, and watched the animated motions of boys and
dogs, as the red light flashed upon the trees, and the whole party
became gradually lost from sight in the forest.

The boys had not proceeded a half mile, before the quick sharp bark,
first of Mum, then of Fidelle, gave indications of their having "treed"
some kind of game. Hastening to the spot, they saw the dogs looking
eagerly up a slender, tall persimmon, and barking incessantly. For a
time they could discover nothing in its branches, or on its body; and
had begun almost to conclude that (in hunter’s phrase) their dogs had
_lied_, when Harold took the torch, waved it to and fro behind him,
walking thus around the tree, and keeping his eyes fixed on those places
where he supposed the opossum to be. Presently he cried out, "We have
him!  I see his eyes! Mum, poor fellow," patting his head, "you never
lie, do you?"  Mum wagged his expressive tail with great emphasis, as
much as to say that he perfectly understood both the slander and the
recantation, and that he now desired nothing but the privilege of giving
that ’possum a good shake.  Robert also took the light, and holding it
behind him, saw amid a bunch of moss two small eyes glistening in the
dark.  The aim was so fair that the gun might have been used with
certainty, were it not against all hunting rule; an opossum must be
_caught_, not killed.  The boys plied their ax upon the yielding wood,
the eyes of the now silent dogs being fixed alternately upon the game
above and the work below.  The tree cracked and toppled.  Mum’s ears
stood perfectly erect; and ere the branches had time to sway back, from
their crash upon the ground, he was among them, growling at something
upon which he had pounced.  It was the opossum; and like all the rest of
its tribe when in the presence of an enemy, it seemed to be stone dead.
They took it up by its scaly, rat-like tail, and again went on.

In the course of a short walk they took a second, and on their way back,
a third.  These were quite as many as they could conveniently carry; and
taking their captives home, they made them secure, by tying a forked
stick around the neck of each, on the plan of a pig-yoke.  From the
moment that these singular animals found themselves in the power of
their enemies, they put on all the usual appearances of death; not a
muscle twitched, nothing stirred or trembled; each limb was stiff, and
each eye closed; not even the growl or grip of the dogs was sufficient
to disturb their perfect repose.  Robert could scarcely persuade himself
that they were not really dead.  Harold laughed.

"They can stand the crash of a tree and the worrying of dogs," he said,
after they were made secure; "but there is one thing which they cannot
stand.  See here!" and he poured a cupful of cold water on each.  The
shock seemed to be electric.  Each dead opossum was galvanized into
life, and pulled stoutly to break away from its wooden fetters.  "Now
let us to bed."



                              CHAPTER XXII


FRANK AND HIS "PIGS"--THE CAGE--WALK ON THE BEACH--IMMENSE CRAWFISH--THE
MUSEUM--NAMING THE ISLAND


Frank’s first words the next morning, as in his night-clothes he ran
from Mary’s room, were, "Have you brought my pig?"

"Yes! yes!" they answered, "three of them; and all yoked to boot, so
that they cannot get either into the garden or the cornfield."

Frank did not comprehend this enigmatical language; he hastily dressed
and went out.  Close to the awning he found the new comers sitting, each
secured by the novel pillory which Harold had contrived.  They were ugly
looking creatures, with long, hypocritical faces, coarse, grizzly hair,
and an expression of countenance exceedingly contemptible.  Frank had
often seen opossums before, but the fancy name of pigs had caused him
mentally to invest them with the neat and comely aspect of the little
grunters at home.  When he hurried from the tent, and saw them in their
native ugliness, writhing their naked, snakey tails, he turned away with
unaffected disgust.

"They are not very pretty," said Harold, watching the changes that
flitted across the little fellow’s face.

"No, indeed," he replied; "they are the ugliest things I ever saw.  You
may keep them and feed them yourself; for I will not have them for
mine."

The unsightly appearance of the opossum excites in many persons a
prejudice against its use for the table. But when young and tender, or
after having been kept for several days, its flesh is so nearly in taste
like that of a roast pig, that few persons can distinguish the
difference.

A cage for the captives was soon constructed, of poles several inches in
diameter, notched into each other, and approaching at the top like a
stick trap.  The floor was also guarded with poles, to prevent their
burrowing out.

"Now we need one or two troughs for their water and food," observed
Harold, after the prisoners, loosed from their neck-locks, had been
introduced into the airy saloon erected for their accommodation.  "I
propose, therefore, that Mary and Frank shall go with one of us to Shell
Bluff, and bring home a supply of conch shells, to be converted, as we
need them, into troughs, cups, dippers, and trumpets."

Mary and Frank needed no persuasion to go upon this excursion, after the
glowing description given by the boys on their return from the beach.
Robert preferred to remain with Sam.  The others set off--Harold with
his gun, which, for reasons of policy, was an inseparable companion,
Mary with a basket, and Frank with his dog and hatchet.  On arriving at
the beach, down which they were to pass for a mile or more, the
youngsters amused themselves for a time with writing names, or making
grotesque figures in the hard smooth sand; then ran to overtake Harold,
who had walked slowly on, watching the sea-gulls plunge after their prey
on the surface of the water; for a short distance they went with him
side by side, chatting through mere excitement; then dashing far ahead,
they picked up shells and other curiosities thrown up from the sea.
Several times was Mary’s basket filled with prizes, and afterwards
emptied for others still more beautiful, before they reached the place
which the boys had named "Shell Bluff."

The beach at that place was lovely indeed.  For half a mile or more it
looked like snow, mottled with rose colour here, and with dark brown
there; while, crowning the bluff above, waved a cluster of tropical
palmettoes, around whose bases gathered the dark and fragrant cedar.

Again Mary replenished her basket, Frank filled every pocket he had, and
his cap besides, and Harold collected his handkerchief full of
fine-looking conch shells.  They were about returning, when their
attention was attracted by the shell of an enormous crawfish, whose body
alone was nearly a foot long, and whose claws, extending far in front,
were of hideous dimensions.  This last Harold said he must take home for
"Mr. Philosopher Robert," and learn from him what it was.

Robert was much pleased to see the collections they had made, and
particularly so with the shell.  He said that this was another proof, if
he needed any other, to show that they were on the western coast of
South Florida, for he had often heard of the enormous crawfish that
abounded there, and that were almost equal in size to the lobster.

"Let us be sure, Harold," said he, "to put it beside your oyster, with
the raccoon’s foot, as the beginning of a museum gathered from the
island."

"Yes; and our rattlesnake’s skin," Frank added.

"And our turkey’s tail, and Frank’s plume," said Mary.  "We have the
beginning of a museum already; for there are besides these things about
twenty varieties of shells and sea-weeds in this basket, some of which I
never saw before."

Harold was as much interested as any in the idea of a museum; for though
he knew nothing of its proper arrangement, he had good sense enough to
perceive that it was a very ready means of acquiring and retaining
knowledge.

"But the name of this island," said Robert, musing; "I have several
times wished that we had one.  And why should we not, for who has a
better right to give it a name than we, its only inhabitants?"

He expressed the mind of the whole company, and they soon proceeded to
call upon each other for nominations.  "The rule in such cases, I have
heard, is to begin with the youngest," said Robert.  "So Master Frank,
do you tell us what you would have it called."

Frank mused a moment, and replied, "I will call it Turkey Island;
because turkeys were the first thing we saw here."

"My name, I think, will be the Island of Hope," said Mary, as her
brother’s eye rested on her.  "We have certainly been _hoping_ ever
since we came, and will continue to hope until we get away."

"Yes, but we sometimes despaired, too," answered Robert, "especially on
the morning after the storm.  I have thought of the Caloosa name--the
Enchanted Island."

"Please, Massa," Sam implored, "don’t call um by dat name.  I begin to
see ghosts now; and I ’fraid, if you call um so, I will see ghosts and
sperits all de time."

"I think a more suitable name still," said Harold, "is the Island of
Refuge.  It has certainly been to us a refuge from the sea, and from the
storm.  And if it is the Enchanted Island, of which Riley spoke, it will
also prove a refuge from the Indians, for none will dare to trouble us
here."

Sam declined suggesting any name.  He said, pointing across the river to
the bluff, where he had met with his accident, "Dat my place, obe’
turrah side;[#] and my name for him is Poor Hope."


[#] That is my place, over the other side.


The name decided by universal acclamation, was THE ISLAND OF REFUGE.

"I wish we had a horn of oil," said Robert, "I would anoint it, as
discoverers are said to do.  And if any person could suggest an
appropriate speech I would repeat it on the occasion; but the only words
I can think of now are,

’Isle of Beauty, fare thee well!’

And much as I admire everything around, I hope ere long to repeat those
words in truth."



                             CHAPTER XXIII


THEIR SECOND SABBATH ON THE ISLAND, AND THE WAY THEY SPENT IT


On coming together in the morning, Robert proposed that they should add
to their usual religious exercises the singing of a hymn.  "It is
father’s plan," said he, "to mark the Sabbath with as many pleasant
peculiarities as possible."

Harold was gratified with the suggestion, but remarked, "As I cannot
sing, you must allow me to join you in my heart, or else to assist the
music with my flute."

"Oh, the flute, by all means!" Mary replied.  "And see here what a
beautiful hymn I have just found!"

Robert took the book, and read with remarkable appropriateness of tone
and manner that exquisite hymn by Dr. Watts, beginning

"My God, how endless is thy love!"


The music that morning was unusually sweet.  The voices of the singers
were rendered plaintive by a consciousness of their helpless situation;
and the rich tones of the flute, together with Sam’s African voice,
which was marked by indescribable mellowness, added greatly to the
effect.

The subject of the chapter was the parable of the prodigal son.  Sam,
poor fellow, raised himself on his elbow, and listened attentively; his
remark made afterwards to Mary, showed that, however far beyond his
comprehension a great part of the parable may have been, he had caught
its general drift and meaning.  "De Lord is berry kind; he meet de
sinner afore he get home, and forgib him ebbery ting."

About nine o’clock the young people separated, with the understanding
that they were to re-assemble at eleven, for the purpose of reading the
Scriptures, and of conversation about its teachings.

Robert went to the beach, and taking his seat upon a log, near the
flag-staff, looked upon the ocean, and engaged in deep reflection upon
their lonely situation, and the waning prospects of their deliverance.
His Testament gradually slipped from his grasp, and his head sunk
between his knees.  Such was his absorption of mind, that the big drops
gathered upon his forehead, and he was conscious of nothing except of
his separation from home, and of the necessity for exertion.  At last he
heard a voice from the tent.  Harold and Mary were beckoning to him; and
looking up to the sun, he saw that eleven o’clock had come and passed.
He sprang to his feet, and in doing so, was rebuked to see lying on the
ground the Testament which he had taken to read, but had not opened.

Harold, on leaving the tent, took his pocket Bible and strolled up the
river bank, to a pleasant cluster of trees, where he selected a seat
upon the projecting root of a large magnolia.  His mind also reverted
naturally to their lonely situation; but he checked the rising thoughts,
by saying to himself, "No.  I have time enough during the week for
thoughts like these.  The Sabbath is given for another purpose, which it
will not do for me longer to neglect.  When the Lord delivered us in
that strange way at sea, I resolved to live like a Christian, but I have
neither lived nor felt as I ought.  The Lord forgive me for my neglect,
and help me to do better."  He knelt down, and for several minutes was
engaged in endeavouring to realize that he was in the presence of God.
His first words were a hearty confession that, although he had been
early taught to know his duty, he had not done it, nor had the heart to
do it; and, though in the experience of countless blessings, he had
never been grateful for any until the time of that unexpected
deliverance.  He thanked God for having taught him by that dreadful
accident to feel that he was a sinner, and that it was a terrible thing
to live and to die such. He said he knew there were promises, many and
great, to all who would repent of sin, and believe in Jesus Christ, and
he prayed that God would enable him so to repent and believe, as to feel
that the promises were made to him.

Rising from his knees, and sitting upon the root of the tree, he opened
the Bible, and his eye rested upon the fifty-fifth chapter of Isaiah,
"Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath
no money; come ye, buy and eat; yea, come; buy wine and milk, without
money and without price."  Here he stopped, for his eyes filled, and the
page became obscured.  He put his hands to his face, and thought, "That
passage surely describes _me_.  I came to this spot as a thirsty person
goes to a spring.  My soul longs for something, I know not what, except
that God only can supply it, and that I have nothing to offer for its
purchase.  Now God says that he will _give_ it, ’without money and
without price.’  O, what a blessing!  O, how merciful!  Let me see that
passage again."

He re-opened the Bible, which had been laid in his lap, but the place
had not been marked, and was not to be found.  After searching some
time, he turned to the New Testament, and having opened it at the
Epistle to the Romans, was turning back to the Gospels, when his eye was
caught by these words (contained in the seventh and eighth verses of the
fourth chapter of Romans): "Blessed are they whose iniquities are
forgiven, and whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the man to whom the
Lord will not impute sin."  "Ah, yes!" he exclaimed, "how true that is!
There is no blessing like it."  Supposing that something might be said
in the chapter to show how sin may be forgiven and covered, he read the
chapter through, but was disappointed.  The only clear idea he gained
was that Abraham was counted righteous, and was saved, not by his works,
but by his faith.  This confused him.  "I always thought," said he,
"that people were saved because they were good. But this teaches,--let
me see what,"--at this time his eye rested on the words, "Now it was not
written for his sake alone (viz. that Abraham’s faith was imputed to him
for righteousness), but FOR US ALSO, _to whom_ it shall be imputed, if
we believe on him that raised up Jesus, our Lord, from the dead, who was
delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification."

"Ah, there comes my case again!" he mentally exclaimed.  "It does seem
as if God is opening to me the scriptures.  This fact, about Abraham,
was _recorded_ not for his sake, but FOR OUR SAKES _now_.  And the
blessing bestowed on him (that is, the forgiveness of sin), shall be
bestowed on us too, ’if we believe on Him (that is, God the Father),
that raised up Jesus from the dead, who was delivered (that is, given up
to death--put to death) for our offences, but raised again for our
justification.’  But justification, what does that mean?"

He glanced his eye over the chapter.  It flashed upon him that
justification means nothing more nor less than what Paul had been
speaking of throughout the whole chapter.  Abraham was "justified"--that
is, "sin was not imputed to him"--he was "counted righteous," on account
of his faith.  Now he understood the passage. It declared that we too
shall be justified, if we believe on God, who gave up Jesus to suffer
for our sins, and who raised him again that we might be counted
righteous.

As soon as he had conceived this idea, and had certified his mind of its
correctness, by reading the passage over several times, he fell once
more upon his knees, and said, "O Lord, I am a sinner.  But thou hast
said, ’Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that
hath no money.’  I come as a sinner, thirsting for pardon, but having no
money to offer for its purchase. My only hope is in Thy promise.  I
plead it now before Thee.  Thou hast promised, that as Abraham was
justified by faith, so shall we be, if we believe on Thee, who didst
raise Jesus from the dead.  Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief.
Accept of me as righteous in thy sight, not because I am righteous--for
I am not, but because Jesus Christ was delivered for our offences, and
raised again for our justification.  Forgive my iniquities, cover my
sins, and make me all that thou wouldst have me be, for Jesus Christ’s
sake.  Amen."

For some minutes he continued kneeling; his eyes were closed, his hands
clasped, and his bowed face marked by strong emotion.  It was pleasant
to be thus engaged.  He had experienced for the first time the
blessedness of drawing near to God, and now he was listening to that
"still small voice," that spoke peace to his inmost soul.

Once more he sat upon the rough root of the tree. He opened his Bible to
the same page which had been so instructive, but it was to the next
chapter, where he read: "Therefore, being justified by faith, we have
peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ."  "Yes, yes," he
murmured, as his hand sought his bosom. "Peace indeed!  Peace with God!
Peace through our Lord Jesus Christ--and justified by faith."  He
continued reading:

"By whom we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and
rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  And not only so, but we glory in
tribulations also; knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and
patience experience, and experience hope, and hope maketh not ashamed,
because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost
which is given unto us."

"Ah! is not this true?" he joyfully soliloquized.  "We glory in
tribulations.  I used to wonder how people could glory in trouble.  But
now, thanks to God for trouble! especially for the trouble that brought
us to this island, and brought me to Jesus Christ!  Yes, _thanks to God
for trouble_!"

Having read the chapter to the end, and found, as is usual with persons
in his state of mind, that although he could not understand it all,
there was scarcely a verse in which he did not discover something
suitable to his case, he knelt down and consecrated himself to God;
praying that the Lord would grant him grace to live as a Christian, and
more particularly so to live, as to be the means of bringing his young
companions to a knowledge of the truth.  As he closed his prayer, the
words of the morning hymn rose vividly to his recollection; he did not
indeed use them as any part of his address to a throne of grace, but he
used them as uttering beautifully the language of his own heart in that
sweet communion to which he was now initiated.

"I yield my powers to thy command,
To thee I consecrate my days;
Perpetual blessings from thy hand
Demand perpetual songs of praise."


Looking at his watch he saw that the hour of eleven was at hand.  He
turned his face toward the tent, and walked slowly onward, and as he
went his lips continually murmured,

"Perpetual blessings from thy hand,
Demand perpetual songs of praise."


While Robert and Harold were thus engaged, Mary told Frank to amuse
himself not far away, and that after she had looked over her own lessons
she would call for him.  In the act of going to her room, she was
arrested by the voice of Sam, who said:

"Please, misses, Mas Robert and Mas Harold both gone away; and if you
can, read some of the Bible to your poor sick servant--do, misses."

Touched by his melancholy earnestness, she promised to do so with
pleasure, after having finished Frank’s lessons and her own; and indeed,
urged on by his apparent thankfulness, she dispatched her task in
one-half the usual time, and then called for Frank.

"What! have you learned your lessons already?" he asked, in some
surprise.  She replied, "Yes."  "Then," said he, "I wish you would make
mine as short, for it took you a very little while."  But when she
informed him of the secret of her rapidity, and he heard a plaintive,
half-devotional sigh from Sam’s corner, he said, "Get the book, sister;
I will learn as fast as I can, and then we can both go and sit by him,
while you read."  Mary patted his cheek, saying that he was a good
fellow, whenever he chose to be; and giving him the book, he stood by
her side, and learnt his lessons very soon, and very well.

The chapter selected at Sam’s request was the third of John.  With this
he was so well acquainted as to be able to repeat verse after verse,
while Mary was reading, and he seemed withal to have a very clear idea
of its meaning.  Mary was surprised.  She knew that her father was in
the habit of calling his plantation negroes together on Sabbath
evenings, and instructing them from the Scriptures, but she had no idea
that the impressions made by his labour had been so deep.

It was not until half-past eleven that they were all assembled and
composed.  They sang several hymns, then conversed freely upon the
subject of the chapter, which had interested them in the morning, and on
which they had promised to reflect.  These exercises occupied them so
pleasantly that it was past the usual hour ere any one thought of
dinner.

A part of Dr. Gordon’s custom had been to call upon each of his children
every day at their midday meal, to tell what "new knowledge" they had
gained since that hour of the day preceding.  On Sundays the same plan
was pursued, except that the knowledge was required to be suitable to
the day.  This practice was on the present occasion resumed by the young
people. Frank’s new knowledge consisted of part of his morning lesson;
Mary’s, of a new method devised by her for remembering the order of
certain books in the Bible; Robert’s, of the aim and object of the
parable just discussed: it was a keen rebuke to the Scribes and
Pharisees, who murmured against Jesus for receiving sinners and eating
with them.  When Harold’s turn came, he spoke with much emotion, and a
face radiant with pleasure.  He said that he had on that day learnt the
most important lesson of his life; how good the Lord is, and how great a
sinner he himself had been; he had learnt how to love Him, and how to
trust Him; how to read the Bible, and how to pray.  He was not able to
tell how it happened, but there was now a meaning in the Scriptures, and
a sweetness in prayer, that he had never before suspected, and that he
hoped it would last for ever.  He concluded by saying that he could
conceive of no greater blessing than that of being enabled to feel all
his life-long as he felt that morning, after promising to try to live
like a Christian.

To these remarks of Harold no one made reply.  Robert looked down a
moment, then directed his gaze far away, as if disturbed by some painful
recollection. Mary gazed wistfully on her cousin, and covered her face
with both hands.  Frank slid from his seat, and coming to Harold’s side,
insinuated himself upon his knee, and looked affectionately into his
face.  All felt that a great event had happened in their little circle;
and that from that time forth their amiable cousin was in a most
important sense their superior.  They separated in silence, Robert going
to the spring, Mary to her room, and Harold to talk with Sam.

Late in the afternoon they went together to the seashore, and sitting
around their flag-staff, on the clear white sand, looked over the gently
rippling waters, and talked thankfully of their merciful deliverance,
and of their pleasant Island of Refuge.  The air became chilly, and the
stars peeped out, before they sought the tent. Again soft music stole
upon the night air, and floated far over the sands and waters.  Then all
was hushed.  The youthful worshippers had retired.  And so softly did
sleep descend upon their eyelids, and so peacefully did the night pass,
that one might almost have fancied angels had become their guardians,
were it not for the still more animating thought that the _God_ of the
angels was there, and that He "gave his beloved sleep."



                              CHAPTER XXIV


MOTE IN THE EYE, AND HOW IT WAS REMOVED--CONCH TRUMPET AND
SIGNALS--TRAMP--ALARM


The next morning, while planning together the employments of the day,
Frank came in, holding his hand over his eye, having had a grain of sand
thrown into it by an unfortunate twitch of Dora’s tail.  It pained him
excessively, and he found it almost impossible to keep from crying.
Mary ran quickly and brought a basin, for the purpose of his washing it
out. He however became frightened at finding his mouth and nose
immersed, and was near being strangled in the attempt.  It would have
been better for so young a person, if Mary had made him hold back his
head, and dropped the water under the uplifted lid.  She next proposed
to remove it by introducing the smooth head of a large needle to the
painful spot, and moving the mote away; but neither would Frank allow
this.  Robert then took the matter in hand, and having in vain blown and
rubbed in various ways, endeavoured to remove the substance by drawing
the irritated lid over the other, in such a way as to make the lash of
one a sort of wiper to the other.  But neither did this succeed.  By
this time the eye had become much inflamed, and Frank began to whimper.
Harold asked him to bear it for a minute longer, and he would try old
Torgah’s plan.  With a black filament of moss, the best substitute he
could devise for a horse hair, he made a little loop, which he inserted
under the uplifted lid, so as to enclose the foreign substance; then
letting the lid fall, he drew out the loop, and within it the grain of
sand.  Robert observed that an almost infallible remedy is to bandage
the eye and take a nap; and Mary added, that it would be still more
certain if a flaxseed were put into the eye before going to sleep.
Frank, however, needed no further treatment; he bathed his eye with cold
water, wore a bandage for an hour, and then was as well as ever.

During the conversation that preceded this incident, Harold had brought
out a hammer and large nail, and now occupied himself with making a
smooth hole in the small end of one of the conches.  Having succeeded,
he put the conch to his lips, and after several trials brought from it a
loud clear note like that of a bugle.  Robert also, finding that the
sound came easily, called aloud, "Come here, sister, let us teach you
how to blow a trumpet."

It was not until after several attempts that Mary acquired the art.
Frank was much amused to see how she twisted and screwed her mouth to
make it fit the hole; and though he said nothing at the time, Harold had
afterwards reason to remember a lurking expression of sly humour dancing
about the corners of his mouth and eyes.

"Now, cousin," said Harold, when Mary had succeeded in bringing out the
notes with sufficient clearness, "if ever you wish to call us home when
we are within a mile of you at night, or half a mile during the day, you
have only to use this trumpet.  For an ordinary call, sound a long loud
blast, but for _an alarm_, if there should be such a thing, sound two
long blasts, with the interval of a second.  When you wish to call for
Frank, sound a short blast, for Robert two, and for me three.

In his different strolls through the forest, Harold had observed that
the wild turkeys frequented certain oaks, whose acorns were small and
sweet.  It was part of his plan to capture a number of these birds in a
trap, and to keep them on hand as poultry, to be killed at pleasure. For
this purpose, it was necessary that the spot where the trap was to be
set should first be baited.  He therefore proposed to Robert to spend
part of the forenoon in selecting and baiting several places; and with
this intention they left home, having their pockets filled with corn and
peas.  It did not require long to select half a dozen such places,
within a moderate distance of the tent, to bait, and afterwards to mark
them so that they could be found.

Having completed this work, they were returning to the tent, when they
heard afar off the sound of the conch.  It was indistinct and irregular
at first, as if Mary had not been able to adjust her mouth properly to
the hole; but presently a note came to them so clear and emphatic, that
Mum pricked up his ears, and trotted briskly on; and after a second’s
pause came another long blast.  "Harold!  Harold!" Robert said in a
quick and tremulous tone, "that is an alarm!  I wonder what can be the
matter.  Now there are two short blasts; they are for me; and now three
for you.  Come, let us hurry. Something terrible must have happened to
Frank or to Sam."

They quickened their pace to a run, and were bursting through the bushes
and briers, when they again heard the two long blasts of alarm, followed
by the short ones, that called for each of them.  They were seriously
disturbed, and continued their efforts until they came near enough to
see Mary walking about very composedly, and Frank sitting, not far from
the tent, with the conch lying at his feet.  These signs of tranquillity
so far relieved their anxiety, that they slackened their pace to a
moderate walk, but their faces were red, and their breath short from
exertion.  They began to hope that the alarm was on account of _good_
news instead of bad--perhaps the sight of a vessel on the coast.  Robert
was trembling with excitement.  A loud halloo roused the attention of
Frank, and springing lightly to his feet he ran to meet them.

"What is the matter?" asked Robert; but either Frank did not hear, or
did not choose to reply.  He came up with a merry laugh, talking so fast
and loud, as to drown all the questions.

"Ha! ha!" said he, "I thought I could bring you! That was loud and
strong, wasn’t it?"

"You!" Robert inquired.  "What do you mean?  Did you blow the conch?"

"That I did," he replied; "I blew just as cousin Harold said we must, to
bring you all home."

"But, Frank," remonstrated Harold, "the conch sounded an alarm.  It
said, Something is the matter. Now what was the matter?"

"O, not much," Frank answered, "only I was getting hungry, and thought
it was time for you all to come back.  That was something, wasn’t it?"

"You wicked fellow!" said Robert, provoked out of all patience, to think
of their long run.  "You have put us to a great deal of trouble.
Sister, how came you to let him frighten us so?"

"Really, I could not help it," she replied.  "When I went to the spring
a little while since, he excused himself from going by saying that he
felt tired; but no sooner had I passed below the bluff, than I heard the
sound of the conch.  I supposed at first it must be Sam, who had become
suddenly worse, and was blowing for you to return; so I filled my bucket
only half full, and hurried home; when I ascended the bluff I saw the
little monkey, with the conch in his hand, blowing away with all his
might."

"And didn’t it go well?" asked Frank.

The young wag looked so innocent of every intent except fun, and seemed
withal to think his trick so clever, that in spite of their discomfort,
the boys laughed heartily at the consternation he had produced, and at
the half comic, half tragic expression which his face assumed on
learning the consequences of his waggery.  They gave him a serious
lecture, however, upon the subject, and told him that hereafter he must
not interfere with the signals.  But as he seemed to have such an
uncommon aptitude for trumpeting, Harold promised to prepare him a conch
for his own use, on condition that he played them no more tricks.  Frank
was delighted at this, and taking up the horn, blew, as he said, "all
sorts of crooked ways," to show what he could do.  The boys were
astonished.  Frank was the most skilful trumpeter of the company; and on
being questioned how he acquired the art, replied, that when he and his
mother had gone on a visit to one of her friends, during the preceding
summer, he and a negro boy used to go after the cows every evening, and
blow horns for their amusement.



                              CHAPTER XXV


A HUNTER’S MISFORTUNE--RELIEF TO A SPRAIN--HOW TO AVOID BEING LOST IN
THE WOODS, AND TO RECOVER ONE’S COURSE AFTER BEING LOST--A STILL HUNT


It was remarked by Mary the next morning, that if some one did not go
out hunting they should soon be out of provision.  "Which for our
character as marooners I hope will not be the case," rejoined Harold.
"Come, Robert, shall we be hunters today?"

"We cannot do better," Robert languidly replied, "unless we go fishing
instead."

"O, do let me go with you," begged Frank.  "I am so tired of being
cooped up here under this oak tree, and running for ever to the spring
and to the oyster bank.  I want to go either hunting or fishing."

"Perhaps we can do both," said Mary, perceiving from Robert’s looks that
he was disinclined to any great exertion.  "Cousin Harold can take Frank
and go to the woods, while you and I, brother, can catch a mess of
fish."

"That will do!  O, yes, that is the very plan," Frank exclaimed,
clapping his hands.  "Then we can run a race to see who shall do best."

The company separated; Harold took Frank and disappeared in the forest,
where they were absent several hours, and Robert and Mary went to the
oyster bank, where they supplied themselves with bait, and then
embarking on the raft, began to fish for sheepshead, near a log imbedded
in the mud, and covered with barnacles and young oysters.  The success
of the fishing party was very good; they soon had a basket half full of
fish, and the remainder filled with shrimp.

Not so with the hunters.  Robert and Mary were engaged in preparing
their prizes for use, when they heard a sharp halloo, and saw Frank
emerging from a dense growth of bushes, with the rifle upon his
shoulder, followed by Harold, who was limping painfully, and beckoning
them to approach.

Washing their hands with haste, Robert and Mary ran to meet them.
Harold was seated on a log, looking very pale.  Within an hour after
leaving the tent he had sprained his ankle, and ever since had been
slowly and with great suffering attempting to return.  Mary was
frightened to see the haggard looks of her cousin, and inquired
anxiously what she could do to help him.

"Take the gun, sister," said Robert.  "Lean on me, cousin, I will
support you to the tent, and then show you the best thing in the world
for a sprain."

Mary ran to the tent, put the gun in its place, prepared Harold’s couch,
and then at Robert’s request hurried with Frank to the spring and
brought up a bucket of water, by the time that Harold’s shoe and
stocking had been removed.  The ankle was much swollen, and the blood
had settled around it in deep blue clouds.

"Now, sister, bring me the coffee pot and a basin."

The basin was placed under the foot, and the coffee pot filled with cool
water was used to pour a small stream upon the injured part.  This
process was continued for half an hour, by which time the inflammation
and pain were greatly reduced.  It was also repeated several times that
day, and once more before retiring to bed, the good effects being
manifest on each occasion.

This accident not only confined the whole company at home for the rest
of the day, but caused an unpleasant conviction to press heavily upon
the mind of Robert--the whole responsibility of supplying the family
with food and other necessaries would for a time devolve upon himself.
This fact almost made him shudder, for though a willing boy, he was not
robust; labour was painful to him; at times he felt a great
disinclination to bodily effort, but the greatest difficulty in the way
of his success in their present mode of life, was his ignorance of some
of the most necessary arts of a hunter.

"Harold," said he, with a rueful face, the next morning, when they had
finished talking over the various means for discovering and approaching
game in the forest; "to tell you the truth, I am afraid of _getting
lost_ in these thick and tangled woods.  It is a perfect wonder to me
how you can dash on through bush and brier, and turn here and there, as
if you knew every step of the way, when, if I were left alone, I should
never find my way home at all.  Now my head is easily turned, and when I
am once lost, I am lost."

"I know exactly what you mean," replied Harold, "and in former times I
used to feel the same way.  But there are two or three rules which
helped me much, and which I will give to you.

"The first is, _never allow to yourself that you are lost_.  Say to
yourself that you are mistaken, or that you have taken the wrong course,
or anything that you will, but never allow the _lost feeling_ to come
over you, so long as you can keep it off.

"When, however, you ascertain that you have unfortunately missed your
track, your next rule is to sit down _as quietly as possible_ to
determine your course.  Most people in such a case become excited, run
here and there, at perfect random, and become worse bewildered than
before.  First do you determine the points of the compass, and then
strike for the point you are most certain of reaching.  For instance,
you know that anywhere on this island the sea lies to the west, and a
river to the north.  You can surely find either of these places; and
when once found you will be no longer in doubt, although you may be far
from home."

"But how am I to know the points of the compass?" inquired Robert.

"Easily enough," his cousin replied.  "But before speaking of that, let
me give you my third rule, which is, _never get lost_."

Robert laughed.  "That is the only rule I want.  Give me that and you
may have the rest."

"Then," continued Harold, "make it your constant habit to notice the
course you travel, and the time you are travelling.  Watch the sun, or
else the shadows of the trees, and the angle at which you cross them.
Early in the morning the shadows are very long, and point west.  In the
middle of the forenoon, they are about as long as the trees that make
them, and all point north-west.  And at twelve o’clock they are very
short, and point due north.  To a woodsman the shadows are both clock
and compass; and by keeping your mind on them, you can easily make what
the captain would call your _dead reckoning_."

"But," said Robert, "what would you do on such a day as this, when there
is neither sun nor shadow?"

"You must work by another rule," he replied.  "Old Torgah gave me three
signs for telling the points of the compass, by noticing the limbs, the
bark, and the green moss on the trunks of trees _well exposed_ to the
sun. Moss, you know, loves the shade, while the bark and limbs grow all
the faster for having plenty of light.  As a general rule, therefore,
you will find the south, or sunny side of a tree marked by large limbs
and thick, rough bark, and the north side covered, more or less, with
whatever green moss there may be on it.[#]  Did I ever tell you how
these signs helped me once to find my way home?"


[#] Happening not long since to converse with an old and observant
farmer, on the subject of these natural signs, he pointed out another.

"Notice," said he, "the direction in which those trees _lean_."

We were in a pine forest, and, almost without exception, the trees that
declined from a perpendicular leaned towards the east. The severe winds
through the up country of South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama, which
start our trees and unsettle our fences, usually prevail from the west.
That is the point also from which almost invariably come our thunder
storms.


Robert replied that he had not.  "I was at my uncle’s, where I had never
been before, in a newly settled part of the country.  A small stream ran
near his house, and bent considerably around his plantation.  Down this
stream I followed one day, in search of ducks, and walked several miles
before thinking of home.  My uncle’s house lay due east, and instead of
returning the way I went, I determined to take a shorter course through
the woods.  I had not gone far, however, before a fat squirrel jumped
upon a log, within good shooting distance, curled his tail over his
back, and sat there barking; he seemed to give me every invitation that
a squirrel possibly could to shoot him, and I did so.  But it was really
curious to see the consequence.  Such a barking of squirrels I never
heard before in my life. They were all around me, jumping, shaking their
tails, and _quaw-quawing_ at such a rate, that it was almost like
witchcraft.  I killed as many as I could carry, and once more set out
for home.  But I had completely lost my course; the chase had taken off
my mind, and I could tell neither which way I came into the wood, nor
how I was to go out of it.  My uncle’s house I knew lay to the east, and
the stream to the north.  But which way was east, and which north?  The
sun was hidden, and the trees were so close and thick, that the moss
covered their large trunks on every side, and the limbs and bark for the
same reason seemed to be of equal size all round.  At last I spied a
small tree, that was pretty well exposed to the sun, and the limbs of
which were evidently larger, and the bark rougher on one side than on
the other; there was also a beautiful tuft of green moss growing at its
root, on the side opposite to the large limbs.  These signs satisfied
me; but to make assurance doubly sure, I cut into the tree far enough to
ascertain that the thickest bark was on the roughest side.  That one
tree was my guide.  I struck a straight course for home, and reached it
without difficulty.  Now, if you take these rules, you can guide
yourself anywhere through these woods, in which you will never be more
than three or four miles to the east of the sea-shore."

"Thank you, cousin," said Robert; "thank you sincerely.  You have
relieved my mind from the greatest embarrassment I have felt at the
thought of roaming these dark woods alone.  Your rules give me
confidence; for the very trees that before caused my bewilderment shall
now become my guides."

He took his gun, called his dog, and gave a look to Frank, in the
expectation that he also would come. But Frank had listened quietly to
the preceding conversation, and had as quietly made up his mind not to
go.  He sat beside the cage, watching the opossum, and took no notice of
dog, gun, or look.

"Jump, Frank," said Robert, in a cheering tone; "I am ready to go.  Let
us see if we cannot find a deer."

"No, I thank you," he soberly replied; "I do not love to get lost.  It
does not feel pleasant.  I had rather stay at home and pour water on
cousin Harold’s foot."

"Then stay," said Robert, in a disappointed tone; "I forgot that you
were a baby."

Harold, however, who knew that Frank was an uncommon pedestrian, and
that Robert preferred to have company, whispered to him, "He is not
going to lose himself, Frank.  I think, too, he will kill some deer, and
who knows but he may find another fawn to keep Dora company."  Frank
seized his cap, and calling out, "Brother! brother!  I am coming!"
dashed off in pursuit.  Fidelle started too, but they returned to tie
her up, and to say to Mary that she must not be uneasy if they did not
return by dinner-time, as they were unwilling to come without game; then
taking some parched corn in their pockets in case of hunger, together
with Frank’s hatchet and matches, they again set off.

The first business was to visit the turkey baits; at one of which the
corn and peas had all disappeared, with evident traces of having been
eaten by turkeys.  "What a pity we had not brought some more bait,"
remarked Robert; "Harold says that when they have once found food at a
place, they are almost sure to return the next day to look for more.  We
must share with them our dinner of parched corn."

Renewing the bait, they proceeded in a straight course south, having for
their guide the bright clouds that showed the place of the sun to the
south-east.  Frank was very anxious for Robert to kill some of the many
squirrels that frolicked around them.  "May be," said he, "if you shoot,
they will quaw-quaw for you as they did for Cousin Harold, and then we
can go home loaded."  But Robert replied that this would be a useless
waste of ammunition: that it would probably scare off the deer from the
neighbourhood; and that, moreover, his gun was not loaded for such small
game.

Hardly had the argument closed before Mum began to smell and snort, here
and there, intent upon a confused trail.  His motion became soon more
steady, and he started off at a pace that made the hunters run to keep
in sight.  Afraid that at this rate Frank would give out, and that he
himself would be too much out of breath to aim surely, or to creep
cautiously upon the deer, Robert called out, "Steady, Mum!"  The
well-trained brute instantly slackened his speed, and keeping only about
a rod ahead, went forward at a moderate walk. In this way they followed
for a full quarter of a mile, when Robert observed him take his nose
from the ground, and walk with noiseless step, keeping his eyes keenly
directed forwards.  He "steadied" him again by a half whispered command,
and kept close at his heels.  Soon he saw a pair of antlers peering
above a distant thicket, and the brown side of a deer between the
branches. Softly ordering Mum to "come in," and noticing that what
little wind there was blew so as not to carry their scent to the deer,
he said to Frank, "Buddy, if you will remain by this large poplar, I
will creep behind yonder thicket, and see if I cannot get a shot.  Will
you be afraid?"

"No," he replied, "if you do not go too far away."

"I will not go out of hearing," Robert said, "and if you need anything,
whistle for me, but do not call. Hide yourself behind this tree, and
when you hear me shoot, come as soon as you please."

It was easy to cover his advance behind the dense foliage of a viny
bower, until he was quite near.  He paused to listen; the rustle of
leaves and the sound of stamping feet were distinctly heard.  A short
but cautious movement gave him a commanding view of the ground.  There
were three deer feeding within easy reach of his shot.  He sprung both
barrels, and tried to be deliberate, but in spite of all resolution his
heart jumped into his mouth, and his hand shook violently; he had what
hunters call "the buck-ague."  Steadying his piece against a stout
branch, he aimed at the shoulders of the largest, and fired.  It fell,
with a bound forward. The other deer, instead of darting away, as he
expected, turned in apparent surprise to look at the unusual vision of
smoke and fire, accompanied by such a noise, when he took deliberate aim
with a now steady hand, and fired at the head of the next largest, as it
was in the act of springing away.

"Come, Frank! come!" he shouted.

Frank, however, had started at the first report, and was now running at
the top of his speed.  Robert rushed forward to dye his hand for the
first time in the blood of so noble a victim; yet it made him almost
shudder to hear the knife grate through the delicate flesh, and to see
the rich blood gurgling upon the ground.  Had it not been that such
butchery was necessary to subsistence, he would have resolved at that
moment to repeat it no more.

But what was next to be done?  Here were two large deer lying upon the
earth.  Should he skin and cleanse them there, and attempt to carry home
the divided quarters? or should he carry home one deer and return for
the other?  He decided upon the last.  Before proceeding homewards,
however, he blazed a number of trees, to show afar off the place of his
game; then selecting a tree, as far as he could distinguish in his way,
he went towards it, chopping each bush and sapling with his hatchet; and
making a broad blaze upon this tree, he selected another in the same
line, and proceeded thus until he reached the tent.  He had learnt by
one-half day’s practice to thread the trackless forest with a steadiness
of course and a confidence of spirit that were surprising to himself.



                              CHAPTER XXVI


CRUTCHES IN DEMAND--CURING VENISON--PEMMICAN--SCALDING OFF A PORKER’S
HAIR WITH LEAVES AND WATER--TURKEY TROUGH--SOLITARY WATCHING--FORCE OF
IMAGINATION--FEARFUL RENCOUNTER--DIFFERENT MODES OF REPELLING WILD
BEASTS


Harold’s ankle continued so painful whenever he attempted to move, that
Sam advised him, the morning after the accident, to construct for
himself a pair of crutches.  "Make ’em strong and good, Mas Harol," said
he, with a broad grin of satisfaction.  "I hope by time you trow ’em
away, I’ll pick ’em up."  This work occupied the two invalids, while
Robert and Frank were engaged in their successful deer hunt.

When the venison was brought home, Harold assisted in various ways in
preparing it for use; and also promised that if he was provided with the
necessary means, he would see that all which was thereafter brought in
should be properly cured.  His favourite mode was by the process called
_jerking_.  The plan was this: A wig-wam was made, about five feet in
diameter at the base, and five feet high, leaving a hole at the top
about two feet wide.  A place for fire was scooped in the middle; and
the pieces of venison were hung in the smoke that poured through the
open top.  Pieces an inch thick, when exposed at the same time to smoke
and sunshine were perfectly cured in the course of a day.  The hams
required, of course, a longer time, and were all the better for a little
salt.  The _salting tub_ was made of a fresh deer’s skin, fleshy side
up, supported by stakes so as to sag in the middle.  A substitute for a
_pickle barrel_ was also devised in the course of time; this consisted
of a deer’s skin, stripped off whole, and rendered water-tight by
stopping the holes; in this the meat was put, covered with a strong
brine, and drawn up into a tree. When the visits of the flesh-fly were
apprehended, the mouth of the sack was secured by a string.  But the
most convenient form in which the meat was cured was that known as
_pemmican_.  To prepare this the meat was jerked until perfectly dry,
then pounded fine, and mixed with half its own weight of melted grease;
after which it was packed away in skin bags, having the hair outwards.
The pemmican could be eaten, like bologna sausage, either cooked or raw,
and kept perfectly sweet as long as it was needed.

While describing these several modes of preparing and preserving their
meat, it may not be amiss to mention also a method adopted by Harold for
scalding off an opossum’s hair without any of the usual appliances for
heating the water.  The opossum had been killed before it was known that
the utensils for boiling were all in use and could not be spared.
Robert was perplexed, for he knew that the hair "sets" as soon as the
carcass is cold, and refuses to be drawn.  But Harold replied with a
smile,

"I have seen hogs scalded by being put into a deep puddle of water
heated with red hot stones.  All the water needed for so small an object
as the opossum may be heated in a deer skin, hung like our salting tub
over the fire.  But I will show you a still easier plan."

He gathered a pile of dry leaves, with which he covered the body, and
then poured on water until the pile was quite wet; after which he piled
on a much larger quantity of dry leaves, which he set on fire.  When the
mass had burnt down, the hair of the opossum was found so thoroughly
_steamed_ by the surrounding heat, that it yielded as easily as if it
had passed through the most approved process of the pork cleaning art.

Towards sunset Robert went to the turkey baits; the birds had returned
to the place they had visited before, and eaten all the parched corn
thrown there the second time.  He renewed the bait, with this difference
(made on Harold’s suggestion)--that whereas he had formerly scattered
the corn broad-cast, he now strewed it in a sort of trough, or shallow
trench, made in the ground.  This trench was made on a line proceeding
straight from a place of concealment, selected within good shooting
distance.  Turkeys are greedy feeders; and when they find a place baited
as that was, they gather on each side of the trench, with their heads
close together, trying each to obtain his share of the prize; and a
person having a gun loaded with duck or squirrel shot, has been known to
kill six or eight at a time, by firing among their interlocking heads.

An additional visit enabled Robert to determine that the hour of their
coming was early in the morning; and this being the only other
circumstance wanting to fix the time of his own coming to meet them, he
used that opportunity to arrange to his fancy the place of his
concealment.  The trench was on a line with two short hedges of bamboo
brier, diverging from each other in the shape of the letter V, having a
place of egress at the angle.  He closed the mouth of the V by planting
a blind of evergreens, high as his head, and very close at the bottom;
and as it was probable that he should be compelled to remain some hours
in concealment, he made a seat, and opened through the blind a hole for
observation.

On the following morning he was up and moving at the peep of day.  Mary
prepared him a cup of coffee, and by the time that there was light
sufficient to follow the blazed track he was on the way.  His course lay
eastward, and through the opening branches glowed that beautiful star
which he had often admired, Venus, the gem of the morning, "flaming upon
the forehead of the dawn."

Frank begged hard to be allowed to go too, his confidence in Robert’s
woodsmanship having been greatly increased by the recent success; but
Harold decided against him.  He said that in turkey shooting the fewer
persons there were present the better; that Robert himself must keep
still as a mouse, and that well trained as Mum was, it would be better
even for him to be left behind.  Robert therefore departed alone,
putting into his pocket a small volume of Shakespeare, to aid in whiling
away the slow hours of his solitary watch.

On arriving at the spot his first act was to see that the bait was yet
untouched.  He took his seat, and continued for a long time peeping
through the port hole, and listening with an attention so acute that he
could hear the rush of his own blood along the throbbing arteries.  But
as the minutes passed, and no change occurred, not even the chirp of a
bird or the bark of a squirrel enlivening the grim solitude, his
excitement gradually gave way to weariness.  He leaned his gun against
the wall of vines, and drew out his book.  It was the first volume,
containing that magnificent drama, "The Tempest."  He read rapidly the
familiar scenes describing Ariel, the light, invisible spirit, and
Caliban, the hideous son of the old hag, and Prospero, with his
beautiful daughter, and the dripping refugees from the sea, and became
so deeply absorbed as perfectly to forget where he was, until a slight
rustling behind a briery thicket near the bait aroused his attention.
Whatever the animal might have been, its step was very stealthy, and
evidently approaching.  Laying down the book, and grasping his gun, he
peeped cautiously around; nothing was visible.  Soon he heard a rattling
upon the ground of falling fragments, as if from some animal climbing a
tree, and a grating sound like that of bark which is grasped and
crushed.

"I wonder what that can be?" he mentally soliloquized. "Perhaps a large
fox-squirrel climbing after acorns--but no, there is too much bark
falling for that. It must be a squirrel barking a dead limb for worms.
That’s it!  O, yes, that’s it."

But it was no squirrel, and had Robert been more of a woodsman he would
not have returned so quietly to his reading.  Indeed, he had become more
deeply interested in his book than in his business, and was glad of any
excuse that allowed him to return to Prospero and the shipwrecked crew.
He read a few pages more, and stopping to connect in his mind the
disjointed parts of the story, his eye rested upon what appeared to be
the bushy tail of a very large squirrel, lying upon a limb of the tree
that overhung the bait.

"I knew it was a squirrel," said he to himself; "but he is a bouncer!
How long his tail is! and how it moves from side to side like a cat’s,
when it sees a bird or a mouse that it is trying to catch.  I wish I
could see his body, but it is hidden by that bunch of leaves."

His imagination was so powerfully impressed with the graphic scenery of
"The Tempest," that he could scarcely think of anything else.  The idea
in his mind at that moment was the ludicrous scene in which the drunken
Stephano comes upon the queer bundle, made up of Caliban and Trinculo,
lying head to head under the same frock, and appearing to his unsteady
eyes like a monster with two pairs of legs at each end.  As Robert
looked into the tree, he almost laughed to catch himself fancying that
he saw Caliban’s head lying on the same limb on which lay the squirrel’s
tail, and staring at him with its two great eyes.  Indeed he did see
something. There was a veritable head resting there, and two great
eyeballs were glaring upon him, and nothing but the irresistible
influence of the scenes he had read deceived him for a moment with the
idea that it was Caliban’s.

A second and steady look would probably have revealed the truth; but for
this he had not time.  The welcome "twit! twit!" of the expected game
caused him to look through his port hole, and a large turkey cock,
accompanied by four hens, ran directly to the trench, and began to eat
as fast as they could pick up the grains. Robert cautiously slipped his
gun through the port hole, and took deliberate aim, confident that he
could kill the five at one shot.  But hesitating a moment whether he
should commit such wholesale destruction, when they were already so well
supplied with fresh meat, his gun made a slight noise against the
leaves, which attracted the attention of the turkeys, and caused the
hens to dart away.  The gobbler, being the leader and protector of the
party, stood his ground courageously, stretching his long neck full four
feet high, looking in every direction, and then coming cautiously
towards the blind to reconnoitre.

Robert had gained experience from his still hunting; and in this
conjuncture stood perfectly motionless, keeping his gun as immovable as
the stiff branch of a dry tree.  The bird was deceived.  It returned
quietly to the trench, and commenced feeding.  Robert waited in the hope
that it would be joined by another; but no other coming, he fired while
it was picking up the last few grains, and killed it.  The moment of
pulling the trigger, he heard a rustle of leaves in the tree above the
turkey, and the moment after the report of his gun a heavy fall upon the
ground.  As he rushed from his concealment to seize the fallen game, he
was horrified to see an enormous beast of the cat kind, crushing the
head of the bird in its mouth, while its paw pinioned the fluttering
wings.  It was a panther.  It had crawled into the tree while Robert was
reading.  It was _its_ tail he had mistaken for a squirrel’s, and _its_
head he had fancied was Caliban’s.  For half an hour it had been glaring
upon him with its big eyeballs, waiting until he should pass near enough
to be pounced upon.

The coming of the turkeys had distracted its attention; and being
hungry, it had ceased to watch for its human victim, and resolved upon
that which was surer.  When Robert emerged from his concealment it
turned upon him, dropped the mangled head from its bloody mouth,
reversed the hair on both back and tail, showed its enormous fangs, and
growled.  Had he retreated from the field he might have escaped the
terrible conflict that awaited him, for the panther, left to the
peaceable possession of its prize, would probably have snatched it up
and ran away.  But his horror at the sight was so great that for a
moment he was paralysed.  He convulsively clutched his gun, and was on
the point of firing almost without aim, when another fierce growl from
the panther, that appeared to be gathering itself for a leap, brought
him to his senses.  He took deliberate aim between its eyes, and fired.
It was a desperate chance, for the gun was loaded only with duck shot.
The howl of rage and pain with which the panther bounded upon him, and
the grinning horrible teeth that it showed, made his blood run cold.  He
clubbed his gun, prepared to aim a heavy blow upon its forehead, but, to
his surprise, instead of leaping upon him, it sprang upon the thicket of
briers, about three feet distant, and began furiously to tear on every
side at perfect random.

He needed no better chance to escape from so dangerous a neighbourhood;
and, in the moment of leaving, saw that both eyes of the animal had been
shot away, and that the bloody humour was streaming down its face. He
hurried on for a few steps, but fearing that the frantic beast might
pursue him, he slipped behind a tree, and pouring hastily into his gun a
charge of powder, which he rammed down as he ran, put upon that a heavy
load of deer shot, and then made his way homewards.

Ere he had run one-half the distance, however, his fears began to
subside.  The panther, if not mortally wounded, was stone-blind; why
should he not muster courage enough to complete the work, and thus
perform a feat of which he might be proud as long as he lived? In the
midst of this cogitation, he heard before him the tramp of footsteps,
and saw the glimmering of an animal that bounded towards him with rapid
pace.  Could this be the panther which had pursued him, and intercepted
his flight!  He levelled his piece in readiness for battle, and was
preparing to pull trigger at the first fair sight, when he saw that,
instead of a panther, it was Mum--good faithful Mum, broken loose from
his confinement at home, and come in a moment of need to help his
master.  What a relief!  Robert called him, patted him, hugged him, and
then said, "Stop, Mum!  I’ll give you something to do directly.  Just
wait a minute, boy, till I load this other barrel; and with you to help
me, I shall not be afraid of any panther, whether his eyes are in or
out."

Mum had sagacity enough to know that his master was greatly excited, and
he showed his own sympathy by whining, frisking about, and wagging his
short tail. Robert loaded with dispatch, hurried back, keeping Mum
directly before him, and holding his piece ready for instant use; but
the panther had disappeared.

On reaching the field of battle, Mum’s first act was to spring upon the
prostrate bird, but finding it dead he let it lie; then perceiving the
odour of the panther’s track, his hair bristled, he followed the trail
for a few steps, and returned, looking wistfully into his master’s face.
He evidently understood the dangerous character of the beast that had
been there, and was reluctant to follow.  Robert, however, put him upon
the trail, and encouraged him to proceed.  Mum undertook the business
very warily.  He went first to the brier on which the panther had last
been seen; then in a zigzag course, that seemed to be interrupted by
every bush against which the blinded beast had struck; finally he
bristled up again, and gave signs of extreme caution.  A few steps
brought them to a fallen log, between two large branches of which Robert
saw his formidable enemy, crouched and panting.  He softly called in his
dog.  The panther pricked up its ears, and raised its head, as if trying
to pierce through the impenetrable gloom. Robert came noiselessly nearer
and nearer, until within ten paces, then deliberately taking aim, he
discharged the whole load of bullets between the creature’s eyes. It
leaped convulsively forward, and died almost without a struggle.

[Illustration: Deliberately taking aim, he discharged the whole load of
bullets between the creature’s eyes]

Soon as it was indubitably dead, Robert went forward to examine it.  He
turned it over, felt its bony legs and compact body; looked at the
terrible fangs from which he had made so narrow an escape, and, having
satisfied his curiosity, attempted to take it upon his shoulder; but
this was far beyond his strength--the panther was heavy as a large deer.
He marked carefully the spot where it lay, and returning to the tree for
his book and bird, hurried home, to tell the others of his perilous
adventure.

Hardly had he come within sight, before Frank’s quick eyes discerned
him.  "What!" said he, with a playful taunt, "only one turkey!  I
thought you would have had a house full, you staid so long and fired so
often. Cousin Harold hardly knew what to make of it; he said he supposed
you must have _wounded_ a turkey; so I ran and let Mum loose to help
you."

"I am glad you did," replied Robert, drawing a long breath, "for never
in my life was I more in need of help."

"And you didn’t get the other after all?"

"O, yes, all I aimed at.  But something came near getting me, too.
Where are Cousin Harold and sister?"

"In the tent."

Harold and Mary smiled with pleasure to see the fine bird on his
shoulder, but could not understand the seriousness of countenance with
which he approached. He related the particulars of his adventure, to
which they listened with breathless attention.  Mary turned very pale,
Harold’s eyes flashed fire, and Sam’s white teeth shone in repeated
laughs of admiration.

"How I wish I could have been with you," said Harold, looking mournfully
at his lame foot.

"I wish you had been."

"That was a terrible moment, when you had fired your last barrel, and
the panther was rushing upon you. You must have given up all for lost."

"No," replied Robert, "I felt myself tremendously excited, but had no
idea of giving up."

"That is natural," said Harold.  "No one ever gives up while there is
anything to do.  But do tell me, what did you think of?  People can
think so fast, and so powerfully, when brought to the pinch, that I like
to hear all about their plans and thoughts.  Tell me everything."

"From first to last," said Robert, smiling, "I thought of many things,
but of none which I had time to execute, except to fire into his eyes,
and club my gun.  I first thought of running away, but not until I had
stood so long that the panther seemed about to spring upon me. Then the
idea occurred to me of trying the power of my eye, as father recommended
about dogs; but I confess there was more power in his eye than mine, for
I was badly frightened.  My next thought was to take off my cap and rush
upon him, as if that was some deadly weapon.  I heard once of a lady in
India, who saved herself and several others from a Bengal tiger, by
rushing at him with an umbrella which she kept opening and shutting as
she ran.  There was another plan still, of a negro in Georgia, who
fought and killed a panther with his knife.  But," he continued, "let us
talk a moment of the carcass.  What shall I do with it; leave it there
or bring it to the tent?"

"O, bring it, bring it, by all means," Harold replied; "I doubt not
Cousin Mary and Frank will help you."

Mary was not at all pleased with the prospect of such unladylike
business, and in consequence gave Harold a look of disapproval, which he
affected not to see.  She went, nevertheless, and the panther was soon
lying before the tent-door.  The rest of the forenoon was spent in
flaying it, which they did with the claws, tail and ears attached; for
Robert had remarked, that being compelled to imitate Hercules in
destroying wild beasts, he had a fancy to imitate him also in his couch.
While thus engaged, Harold asked for the story of the negro.

"It is not much of a story," said Robert; "I thought of it merely in
connection with the rest.  The negro was going to his wife’s house,
which was some miles distant from the plantation, and which made it
necessary for him to pass through a dark, dismal swamp.  Usually he
passed it by daylight, for it was infested by wild beasts; but being a
daring fellow, he sometimes went by night, armed only with a long sharp
knife.  The last time he made the attempt he did not reach his wife’s
house, and his master went in search of him.  Deep in the swamp he had
met with a panther, and had a terrible fight.  Traces of blood were
plentiful, and deep tracks, where first one and then the other had made
some unusual effort.  Near at hand lay the panther, stabbed in nine
places, and a little beyond lay the negro, torn almost to pieces.  They
had killed each other."

"I wonder," said Harold, "that he did not carry a torch; no wild beast
will attack a person bearing fire."

"Are you sure of that?" Robert inquired.

"As sure as I can be, from having heard of it often, and tried it
twice."

Robert begged for the particulars.

"I went with my father and two other gentlemen, on a hunting excursion
among the mountains, where we camped out, of course.  One of the
gentlemen having heard that there were plenty of wolves in that region,
and wishing, as he said, to have some fun that night, had rubbed gum
assafoetida upon the soles of his boots, before leaving the tent for it
is said that wolves are attracted by the smell of this gum, and will
follow it to a great distance.  Now, whether it was the smell of the
assafoetida or of our game, I will not pretend to say, but the wolves
came that night in such numbers that we could scarcely rest.  They
howled first on this side and then on that, and barked in such short
quick notes, that one sounded like half a dozen.  Our horses were
terribly frightened; we could scarcely keep them within bounds; and our
dogs ran slinking into the tent with every sign of fear.  The only plan
by which we could sleep with comfort was by building a large fire, and
keeping it burning all night."

"Did not the gentleman who was so fond of wolves go out after them?"
asked Robert.

"O, yes, we all went, again and again, but the cunning creatures kept in
the edge of the darkness, and when we approached on one side, they ran
to the other.  It was there I heard the other gentleman, who was
esteemed a great hunter, remark, that all wild beasts are afraid of
fire."

"I wonder why?"

"Night beasts are afraid I suppose, because they prowl in darkness; and
as for the others, if they once feel the pain of fire they will be apt
to keep out of its way."

"The other circumstance is this:--Last year I went on a night hunt, with
some boys of my own age; and not only did we meet with very poor
success, but for some hours were completely lost.  About an hour before
day I left the company, and returned home; for I had promised my mother
to return by twelve o’clock.  Before parting company, we heard a panther
in the woods directly in my way, crying for all the world like a young
child.  The boys tried to frighten me out of my intention; but I told
them that if they would only let me have a good torch, I should safely
pass by a dozen panthers.  It was full two miles home.  The panther
continued his cry until I came within a furlong, and then ceased.  As I
passed the piece of woods from which his voice appeared to come, I heard
afar off the stealthy tread of something retiring, and saw two large
eyes shining in the dark.  I have always supposed that these were the
eyes and tread of the panther, and that it was driven off by the torch."



                             CHAPTER XXVII


TURKEY-PEN--SUCKING WATER THROUGH OOZY SAND--EXPLORING TOUR--APPEARANCE
OF THE COUNTRY--"MADAME BRUIN"--SOLDIER’S REMEDY FOR CHAFED FEET--NIGHT
IN THE WOODS--PRAIRIE--INDIAN HUT--FRUIT TREES--SINGULAR SPRING


It would be useless, and perhaps tedious, to trace thus day by day, and
hour by hour, the history of our young friends.  We will now pass over
an interval of nearly three weeks, from Saturday, November sixth, when
Robert’s contest with the panther occurred, to Wednesday, November
twenty-fourth, when their affairs received another turn.

The only incident worth relating that occurred during this period, was
the construction of a pen for entrapping turkeys.  It was simply a
covered enclosure, of ten or twelve feet square, with a deep trench
communicating from the outside to the centre.  This trench was made deep
enough to allow a feeding turkey to walk under the side of the pen, and
next the wall, inside, it was bridged over, so that the birds in running
around the enclosure, after having entered, might not fall into the
trench, and see their way out.  This trap is planned with a knowledge of
the fact, that though a turkey looks down when feeding, it never looks
down when trying to escape. This is equally true of the quail or
southern partridge, and perhaps of most of the gallinaceous birds.  By
means of this trap the boys took so many turkeys that they were at last
weary of seeing them.

In the meantime Harold’s ankle had become so nearly well, that for a
week it had been strong enough for all ordinary purposes; and Sam’s
bones, though by no means fit to be used, were rapidly knitting, and
gave promise of being all that broken bones can become in the course of
a few weeks.  No one had yet come to their rescue.  Often had they gone,
singly and together, to the flag-staff, and swept the watery horizon
with their glass, but no helper appeared, and no sign.  Robert and Mary
had learned by this time to curb their impatience, and to wait in
calmness the time when they should commence working upon their proposed
boat.

From the first day that they found themselves shut up upon the island,
Robert and Harold had meditated an exploration of the surrounding
country, but had hitherto been prevented by various causes.  Among these
was Mary’s excessive nervousness at the idea of being left alone, and
particularly so after Robert’s contest with the panther; but now she
said, that with Fidelle to guard, and with Sam to shoot, exclusive of
what she herself might do in case of an emergency, she gave her consent
to the tour.

The stock of provision laid in by this time was quite respectable.  Five
deer had been killed, and their hams were now in the smoke, the company
having in the meantime subsisted upon the other parts of the venison,
turkeys from the pen, oysters, crabs, and fish.  There were also fifty
dried fish, two live turkeys, and four fat "pigs" (so called) in the
cage, to say nothing of the stores brought from home.  Before starting,
the boys provided Mary with a large supply of wood for the kitchen and
smoke-house, water also, and everything else which they could foresee as
needful.  They loaded the remaining guns with heavy shot, and laid them
aside ready for use; and, moreover, offered to build for her a palisade
around the tent, by driving down stakes, and wattling them with grape
vines; but to this last Mary objected, saying she was ashamed to be
considered so great a coward.

It was broad daylight on the morning of Wednesday, the twenty-fourth day
of November, when they set out upon their tour.  Robert carried the
wallet of provision, consisting of parched corn, jerked venison, and a
few hard crackers of Mary’s manufacture; in his belt he fastened a flat
powder flask filled with water, being the best substitute he could
devise for a canteen.  Harold carried the blanket rolled like a wallet,
and Frank’s hatchet stuck in his belt.

Willing to ascertain the coastwise dimensions of the island, and also
the approaches to it from sea, they directed their course along the hard
smooth beach, occasionally ascending the bluff for the purpose of
observing the adjacent country.  Their rate of travelling was at first
intentionally slow, for they were both pedestrians enough to know that
the more slowly a journey is commenced, the more likely it is to be
comfortably continued.

At the end of six miles they plainly discerned the southern extremity of
the island, lying a mile beyond, and marked by a high bank of sand,
thrown up in such profusion as almost to smother a group of dwarfish,
ill-formed cedars.  Beyond the bluff they saw the river setting eastward
from the sea, and bordered on its further side with a dense growth of
mangroves.  Satisfied with this discovery, and observing that, after
proceeding inland for a few miles, the river bent suddenly to the north,
they turned their faces eastward, resolved to strike for some point upon
the bank.  The sterile soil of the beach, and its overhanging bluff,
which was varied only by an occasional clump of cedars and a patch of
prickly pears, with now and then a tall palmetto, that stood as a
gigantic sentry over its pigmy companions, was exchanged as they receded
from the coast, first for a thick undergrowth of low shrubs and a small
variety of oak, then for trees still larger, which were oftentimes
covered with vines, whose long festoons and pendant branches were loaded
with clusters of blue and purple grapes.  About midway of the island the
surface made a sudden ascent, assuming that peculiar character known as
"hammock," and which, to unpractised eyes, looks like a swamp upon an
elevated ridge.

Before leaving the beach the boys had quenched their thirst at a spring
of cool, fresh water, found by scratching in the sand at high water
mark, but which they would not have been able to enjoy had it not been
for a simple device of Robert’s.  The sand was so soft and oozy, that
before the basin they had excavated was sufficiently full to dish from,
its sides had fallen in. Harold had tried at several places, but failing
in all, he hallooed to Robert, whom he had left behind, to know what had
been his success.

"Come and see," was the reply.  Harold went, but saw nothing.

"There is my spring," said Robert, pointing to the end of a reed like
that of a pipe-stem, sticking out of the sand.  "Suck at that," he
continued, "and you will get all that you want."

Harold tried it, and rose delighted.  "Capital!" he exclaimed; "but how
do you keep the sand from rising with the water?"

Robert drew out the reed, and showed him a piece of cloth fastened as a
strainer on its lower end.  "I have often thus quenched my thirst when
fishing on our sandy beaches, and have never found it to fail."

"It is exceedingly simple," remarked Harold.  "I wonder I never saw it
nor heard of it before."

"So do I," rejoined Robert; "and yet I question whether I should ever
have heard of it myself, had it not been for the Hottentots."

Harold’s eyes opened wide at the mention of Hottentots, and Robert went
on to say, "A year or two since, while reading an account of the
suffering of people in South Africa for the want of water, and their
various devices for obtaining it, I was struck with the simplicity of
one of their plans.  On coming to a place where the water was near the
surface, but where they could not dig a well, they would make a narrow
hole a yard or more deep, and insert a small reed having a bunch of
grass or moss tied around its lower end.  This reed they buried, all
except a short end left above ground, and packed the earth tightly
around it.  Then they sucked strongly at the open end, and it is said
that, if the earth was sufficiently moist and if the soil was not too
close, the water would soon run through the reed, cleansed of its mud
and sand by passing through the rude filter attached to its lower end."

"Whoever may have been its author, it is an excellent device," said
Harold.  "I shall not forget it."

At noon the boys seated themselves under a heavy canopy of vines, and
ate their frugal dinner in sight of a luscious-looking dessert, hanging
in purple clusters above and around them, which in its turn they did not
fail to enjoy.

Resuming their journey to the east, they proceeded about a mile further,
when Mum, who had trotted along with quite a philosophic air, as if
knowing that his masters were intent upon something other than hunting,
was seen to dash forward a few steps, smell here and there intently,
then with a growl of warning to come beside them for protection.

"That is a panther, I’ll warrant," said Robert.  "At least Mum acted
exactly in that way the other day when I put him upon the panther’s
track.  Had we not better avoid it?"

"By no means," replied Harold.  "Let us see what the creature is.  We
are on an exploring tour, you know, and that includes animals as well as
trees.  A panther is a cowardly animal, unless it has very greatly the
advantage; and if you could conquer one with a single load of duck-shot
when alone and surprised, surely we two can manage another."

"Yes," said Robert, "but I assure you, my success was more from accident
than skill; and I would rather not try it again.  However, it will do no
harm to push on cautiously, and see what sort of neighbours we have."

They patted their dog, and gave him a word of encouragement; the brave
fellow looked up, as if to remonstrate against the dangerous
undertaking, but on their persisting went cheerfully upon the trail; he
took good care, however, to move very slowly, and to keep but little in
advance of the guns.  The two boys walked abreast, keeping their pieces
ready for instant use, and proceeded thus for about fifteen minutes,
when their dog came to a sudden halt, bristled from head to tail, and
showed his fangs with a fierce growl; while from a thicket, not ten
paces distant, there issued a deep grumbling sound, expressive of
defiance and of deadly hate.  Harold stooped quickly behind the dog, and
saw an enormous she bear, accompanied by two cubs that were running
beyond her, while she turned to keep the pursuers at bay.

"We must be cautious, Robert," said Harold; "a bear with cubs is not to
be trifled with.  We must either let her alone, or follow at a
respectful distance.  What shall we do?  She has a den somewhere near at
hand, and no doubt is making for it."

Robert was not very anxious for an acquaintance with so rough a
neighbour, but before the fearless eye of his cousin every feeling of
trepidation subsided, and he was influenced only by curiosity, which, it
is well known, becomes powerfully strong when spiced with adventure.
They followed, governing themselves by the cautious movements of their
dog, and able to catch only a casual glimpse of the bear and her cubs,
until they came within thirty paces of a poplar,[#] five feet in
diameter, with a hollow base, into which opened a hole large enough to
admit the fugitives.


[#] Tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), called poplar at the South.


"There, now, is the country residence of Madame Bruin," said Robert,
stopping at a distance to reconnoitre the premises.  "Shall we knock at
her door, and ask how the family are?"

"I think not," replied Harold, "the old lady is rather cross sometimes,
and I suspect from the tones of her voice she is not in the sweetest
humour at the present.  Take care, Robert, she is coming!  Climb that
sapling!  Quick!  Quick!"

The boys each clambered into a small tree, and as soon as they were well
established, Harold remarked, "Now let her come, if she loves shot.  A
bear cannot climb a sapling.  Her arms are too stiff to grasp it; she
needs a tree large enough to fill her hug."

But Madame Bruin, like the rest of her kin, was a peaceable old lady,
not at all disposed to trouble those that let her alone, and on the
present occasion she had two sweet little cherubs, whose comfort
depended upon her safety; so she contented herself with going simply to
her front door, and requesting her impertinent visitors to leave the
premises.  This request was couched in language which, though not
English, nor remarkably polite, was perfectly intelligible.

"I suppose we shall have to go now," said Harold; "it will not be civil
to keep prying into the old lady’s chamber.  But when Sam is able to
join us, we can come prepared to make bacon of her and pets of her
cubs."

They called off the dog, patted him in praise of his well-doing, and
then retreated, blazing the trees all the way from the poplar to the
river.

Several of these last miles Robert had walked with increasing
painfulness; his feet were so much chafed as to be almost blistered.

"Stop, Harold, and let us rest here," he said, on reaching a fallen log.
"I wish to try that soldier’s remedy for chafed feet."

"What soldier’s?" Harold inquired.

"One of those at Tampa," replied Robert.  "I heard several of them
relate, one day, how much they had suffered in marching with blistered
feet, when one of the number remarked that whenever the signs of chafing
occurred he had relieved himself by shifting his socks from one foot to
the other, or by turning them inside out.  Upon this another stated that
he was generally able to escape all chafing by rubbing the inside of his
socks with a little soap before setting out.  And another still added
that he had often _cured_ his blistered feet, in time for the next day’s
march, by rubbing them with spirits mixed with tallow dropped from a
candle into the palm of his hand.  Before leaving home, today, I took
the precaution to soap the inside of my socks; but now I shall have to
try the efficacy of the other remedy; and sorry shall I be if there
should be need for the third plan, because we have neither the tallow
nor the spirits necessary for the experiment."

Robert gave the proposed plan a trial, and found, to his delight, that
it saved him from all further discomfort.

Nothing more of interest occurred that day.  On leaving the river,
which, after making a great sweep to the south-east, came so near the
bank on which they stood, as to afford a good landing for boats, they
turned into the woods and kept a northern course parallel with the
shore.  About sunset they stopped beside a large log of resinous pine,
which they selected for the place of their encampment that night,
intending to set the log a-fire.  Around it they cleared an irregular
ring, which they fired on the inner side, thus providing a place for
their sleeping free from insects, and from which fire could not escape
into the surrounding forest.  Next, they made themselves a tent of
bushes, by bending down one sapling, fastening its top to the side of
another, and then piling against it a good supply of evergreens,
inclined sufficiently to allow a narrow space beneath.  A neighbouring
tree supplied them with moss for a superb woodland mattress, and while
Robert was preparing that Harold collected a quantity of pine knots, to
be reserved in case their fire should decline.

By the time these preparations were completed darkness closed around.
Jupiter, at that time the evening star, glowed brightly from the western
sky, while Orion, with his brilliant belt, gleamed cheerily from the
east. The boys sat for some time luxuriating in their rest, listening to
the musical roar of their fire, and watching the red glare which lighted
up the sombre arches of the forest; then uniting in their simple repast,
and giving Mum his share, they lay down to sleep, having committed
themselves to the care of Him who slumbers not, and who is as near his
trustful worshippers in the forest as in the city.

There is a wild pleasure in sleeping in the deep dark woods.  The sense
of solitude, the consciousness of exposure, the eternal rustle of the
leafy canopy, or else its perfect stillness, broken only by the stealthy
tread of some beast of night, or the melancholy hooting of a restless
owl, give a variety which is not usual to civilized men, but which,
being of a sombre character, requires for its enjoyment a bold heart and
a self-relying spirit.

The boys retired to rest soon after supper, and tried to sleep; but the
novelty of their circumstances kept them awake.  They rose from their
mossy couch, sat by the fire, and talked of their past history and of
their future prospects.  All around was perfect stillness.  Their voices
sounded weak and childlike in that deep forest; and embosomed as they
were in an illuminated circle, beyond whose narrow boundary rose an
impenetrable wall of darkness, they felt as if they were but specks in
the midst of a vast and lonely world.

At last their nervous excitement passed away.  They retired once more to
bed, having their guns within reach, and Mum lying at their feet.  The
roar of the blaze and crackle of the wood composed them to sleep; and
when they next awoke, daylight had spread far over the heavens, and the
stars had faded from sight.  They sprang lightly to their feet, and
before the sun appeared were once more on their way northward, along the
banks of the river.

Their march was now slow and toilsome.  In the interior a hammock of
rich land, covered with lofty trees, matted with vines, and feathered
with tall grass, impeded their progress; while near the river bay-galls,
stretching from the water’s edge to the hammocks, fringed with
gall-berries, myrtles and saw-palmettoes, and crowded internally with
bays, tupeloes, and majestic cypresses (whose singular looking "knees"
peeped above the mud and water like a wilderness of conical stumps),
forced them to the interior.  Their average rate of travel was scarcely
a mile to the hour.

Several herds of deer darted before them as they passed, and once, while
in the hammock, where the growth was very rank, they were almost within
arm’s length.

About noon they emerged into an open space, which Harold pronounced to
be a small prairie; but in the act of stepping into it, rejoiced at a
temporary relief from the viny forest, he grasped the arm of his cousin,
and drew him behind a bush, with a hurried,

"Back! back!  Look yonder!"

Robert gave one glance, and stepped back into concealment as quickly as
if twenty panthers were guarding the prairie.  There stood an Indian
hut.

The boys gazed at each other in dismay; their hearts beat hard, and
their breath grew short.  Were there Indians then upon the island, and
so near them?  What might not have happened to Mary and Frank?  But a
close scrutiny from their bushy cover enabled them to breathe freely.
There was a hut, but it was evidently untenanted; grass grew rank about
the doorway, and the roof was falling to decay.  It had been deserted
for years.

The boys went boldly to it, and entered.  Rain from the decayed and
falling roof had produced tufts of grass in the mud plaster of the
walls.  In the centre was a grave, banked with great neatness, and
protected by a beautifully arched pen of slender poles.  At the door was
a hominy mortar, made of a cypress block, slightly dished, and having a
narrow, funnel-shaped cavity in its centre.  Upon it, with one end
resting in a crack of the wall, lay the pestle, shaped like a maul, and
bearing the marks of use upon that end which white men would ordinarily
regard as the handle.  Overhanging the house were three peach trees, and
around it the ground was covered with a profusion of gourds of all
sizes, from that which is used by many as a pocket powder-flask to that
which would hold several gallons. Beyond the house, and on the edge of
the prairie, was a close growth of wild plums.

"This place," said Harold, musing, "must have belonged to some old
chief.  The common people do not live so comfortably.  It is likely that
he continued here after all others of his tribe had gone; and when he
died, his children buried him, and they also went away.  Poor fellow!
here he lies.  He owned a beautiful island, and we are his heirs."

"Peace to his ashes!" ejaculated Robert.

They looked sadly upon the signs of ruin and desolation.  It always
makes one sad to look upon a spot where our kind have dwelt, and from
which they have passed away; it is symbolic of ourselves, and the grief
we feel is a mourning over our own decay.

It was now twelve o’clock, and they began to feel the demands of
appetite.  Harold proposed to search longer, in hope of finding a spring
of fresh water.  "I am sure," said he, "there must be one hereabouts,
and we shall find it exceedingly convenient in our frequent hunts."

They searched for nearly half an hour in vain; and as they were on the
point of giving up, Harold called out, "I have found it!  Come here,
Robert, and see what a beauty!"  Robert hastened to the shallow ravine
which terminated the eastern end of the prairie.  Not two steps below
its green margin was a real curiosity of its kind--a rill of clear,
cool-looking water, issuing from the hollow base of a large tupelo[#]
tree.  It was a freak of nature, combining beauty, utility and
convenience.  The water was as sweet as it was clear.


[#] The black gum of the swamps, having, like all trees that grow in
water, a spreading, and generally a hollow base.


Having quenched their thirst at this beautiful fountain, and prepared to
open their wallet of provisions, Robert’s eye was attracted by a glimpse
of a rich golden colour, on the edge of the prairie.  They went to it,
and found several varieties of orange trees, bearing in great profusion,
and among them were limes, whose delicate ovals asked only to be tried.
Beneath these trees they dined, and afterwards plucked their fragrant
dessert from the loaded branches.  Then they filled their pockets with
the different varieties, and started homewards.

It was scarcely a mile from these orange trees to the first that they
had discovered; and thence only three miles home.  They reached the tent
late in the afternoon. All were rejoiced to see them.  Frank made
himself merry, as usual, at their expense--laughing now that two hunters
should be absent two whole days, and bring back only a few wild oranges.
Mary said she had missed them very much, especially when night came on,
but that everything had been smooth and pleasant; she had seen no
panthers, and had not even dreamed of any.



                             CHAPTER XXVIII


PLANS--VISIT TO THE PRAIRIE--DISCOVERIES--SHOE MAKING--WATERFOWL


The severe exercise of the two preceding days was more than Harold’s
ankle, in its state of partial recovery, could endure without injury.
For several days afterwards he was compelled to rest it from all
unnecessary labour, and to relieve its pain by frequent and copious
applications of cold water.

Sam’s wounded limbs were rapidly regaining strength, and he insisted
that they were well enough to be used; but Robert refused to indulge
him.

"We must risk nothing in the case," said he.  "It is so important to
have you able to help us build our boat, that I think you had better
continue in bed one week too long than leave it one day too soon.  You
must be content to rest your arm for full five weeks, and your leg for
six or seven."

Mary and Frank had listened with deep interest to the account which the
boys gave of the old Indian settlement, with its open prairie, vine
covered forest, orange grove, and sparkling spring; and begged so
earnestly for the privilege of accompanying them on their next visit,
that they gave their consent.  The only difficulty foreseen in the case,
was that of leaving Sam alone; but when this was made known to him, he
removed all objection by saying:

"Wuddah gwine hu’t me?[#]  Jes load one gun, and put um by my side.  I
take care o’ myself."


[#] What is going to hurt me?


The object of their visit was not one of mere enjoyment. They had waited
for deliverance until they were convinced that it was vain to rely upon
anything except their own exertions.  It was now between five and six
weeks since they had landed upon the island.  There had been some
strange fatality attending all the efforts that they were sure had been
made on their behalf, and now they must try to help themselves.

The exploration had resulted in the discovery of beautiful timber, of
every size, fit for boats, and near the water’s edge.  They well knew it
would be a herculean task for persons of their age and education, and
possessed of so few tools, to dig out, from these trees, a boat large
enough to carry them all home; but they were compelled to do this, or to
remain where they were. Having consulted with Sam, upon whose judgment
in matters of work they relied far more than on their own, they resolved
to build not one large boat but two of moderate dimensions, which might
if necessary be lashed firmly together; and for this purpose to select
near the water two cypresses of three feet diameter, which should be
felled as soon as possible.  Their visit to the prairie was for the
purpose of selecting these trees, in the low ground near the river.

The four set out in fine spirits early on the morning of Tuesday,
November 30th, and continued their walk direct and without incident to
the Indian hut. Notwithstanding the gloomy association of the solitary
grave inside the deserted house, Mary and Frank were captivated with the
wild beauty of the scene.  The soft green grass of the prairie--the
magnificent wall of forest trees enclosing the peaceful plain--the peach
trees over the hut--the oranges and the limes glancing through their
dark green leaves--and the bright bubbling spring that flowed so
singularly from its living curb--all combined to enchant them.  It was
so delightful a contrast to the bare and sterile sand of their present
encampment, that they plead at once for a removal there.  This, of
course, had occurred to the minds of the others also; but there were two
serious objections to it.  One was that here they would be out of sight
of vessels passing at sea; and the other (which they kept to themselves)
was that here they should be more in danger from wild beasts.  They
replied that they also preferred the prairie, but that they could not
remove until Sam was better able to travel.

Having enjoyed to their satisfaction the view of the hut and its
premises, Harold took Frank, and, followed by Fidelle, went in one
direction, while Robert and Mary, with Mum, went in another, to search
for trees suitable in size and location for their boats.  In the course
of an hour they returned, having marked a large number, and at the same
time having added to their knowledge of the resources of the island.
Harold discovered a fine patch of Coontah or arrowroot, from which a
beautiful flour can be manufactured; and hard by a multitude of plants,
with soft velvet-like leaves, of three feet diameter, having a large
bulbous root resembling a turnip, and which Robert pronounced to be the
tanyah, a vegetable whose taste is somewhat like that of a mealy potato.
The other company went to the river, where Robert discovered an old boat
landing, on one side of which was a large oyster bank, and on the other
a deep eddy of the stream, in which trout and other fish were leaping
about a fallen tree.  Mary’s discovery was more pleasant than useful.
It was a bed of the fragrant calamus or sweet flag, from which she
gathered a handful of roots, and washing them clean, brought them as a
present to the others.  Frank was quite chagrined to see that he had
discovered nothing new or valuable, and he did not recover his
equanimity for some minutes.  While the seniors lingered cheerfully
around the remains of their dinner, discussing the merits of their
delightful island and the prospect of their return home, Mary suddenly
inquired:

"But where is Frank?  I have not seen him for half an hour."

Nor had any one else; for, unsatisfied with only one orange allowed him
for dessert, while there were so many on the trees, and secretly hoping
to find something valuable to announce, he had quietly slipped away, and
had stealthily climbed one of the orange trees, from which he plucked an
orange for each of his four pockets, then with Fidelle at his side he
had strolled a little farther into the forest, eating as he went.

The boys, startled by Mary’s question, sprang instantly to their feet,
realizing vividly the danger to which he was exposed from wild beasts,
but of which they had said nothing to him or to her.  Scarcely, however,
had their halloo sounded among the trees, than they saw him and his
faithful companion approaching leisurely through the small thicket of
wild plums.

"You thoughtless little boy," said Robert, upbraidingly; "why did you go
off by yourself in these dangerous woods?  Did you not know they are
full of bears and panthers?"

"No, I didn’t," Frank replied.

"Well, I now tell you that they are," continued Robert, "and that you
must never again go there unless one of us is with you.  But what took
you there this time?"

"Humph," grunted Frank; "don’t you suppose I want to find something new
and good as well as the rest of you? and I have found it, too."

"Indeed," said Harold; "what is it, Frank?"

"You must all guess," he answered, looking very proud, "all of you
guess.  What is the best thing in the world?"

"I will say," answered Mary, "that one of the best things in the world
is a little boy who always tries to do right."

"But it is no boy," Frank continued; "it is something sweet.  Guess the
sweetest thing in the world."

"I think," said Robert, inclined to amuse himself, "that the sweetest
_looking_ things in the world are those pretty little girls we used to
meet on King Street, in Charleston."

"No, no," said Frank; "it is neither boys nor girls, but something to
eat.  What is the sweetest thing in the world to eat?"

"If we were in town," Harold replied, "I should guess candy and
sugar-plums; but, as we are in the wild woods, I guess honey."

"Yes, that’s it," said Frank, triumphantly; "I have found a bee-tree."

"And why do you think it is a bee-tree?" asked Mary, incredulously.

"Because I saw the bees," he replied, in confident tones.

"Why, Frank," said Robert, laughing, "the bees you saw may have their
hives miles and miles away."

"No, they have not," Frank stoutly maintained.  "I have seen them going
and coming out of their own hole just as they do at home."

"That sounds very much as if Frank is right, after all," argued Harold;
"let us go and see for ourselves. But how came you to find the tree,
Frank?"

"While I was eating my orange," he replied, "a bee lit on my hand, and
began to suck the juice there.  I was not afraid of him, for I knew that
he would not sting me if I did not hurt him; and more than that, I
always love to look at bees.  Well, he sucked till he had got juice
enough, then he flew right up into a tree a little way off, and went
into a hole.  While I was looking at that hole, I saw many other bees
going in or coming out; and then I knew that it was a bee-tree, because
I had heard Riley talk about them at Bellevue. And, Cousin Harold, did
you not put up some brimstone for taking bee-trees?"

"That I did, my dear little cousin," answered Harold, pleased with this
unexpected allusion.  "I have no doubt, from what you say, that you have
found a real bee-tree; and, in that case, you have beat us all.  Take us
to see it."

They all went in joyous mood, and sure enough there was a good sized
tree, with a knot-hole about twenty feet above ground, with plenty of
bees passing in and out of it.  The smell, too, of honey was decidedly
strong, showing that the hive was old and plentifully stored.

It may be as well to state here, as elsewhere, that before many days the
tree was felled, and that it supplied them with such an abundance of
honey that a portion of it was, at Harold’s suggestion, stowed away in
skin bags, hair side outward.  Some of it was beautifully white and
clear.  This was kept in the comb.  The remainder was strained, and the
wax was moulded into large cakes for future use.  The bees, poor
creatures! were all suffocated with the fumes of burning sulphur thrown
into the hollow of the tree before it was opened. A few recovered, and
for days hovered around their ruined home, until finally they all
perished.  It made Frank’s kind heart very sad to see them, and several
times he was stung while watching their movements and trying to help
them.

After spending a delightful day, they returned about sunset to the tent.
Sam’s white teeth glistened when they approached the door.  It had been
a lonely day with him, but their return compensated for his solitude.

From this time forth the boys had before their minds a fixed object to
be accomplished--the felling of those trees, and converting them into
boats.  But what should be the plan of their procedure while engaged in
the work?  They could go every morning, and return every evening--a
distance altogether of eight miles; or they could spend several nights
in succession at the prairie, leaving Frank and Mary with Sam; or they
could remove everything to the place of their labour.  As to the first
two of these plans, it was so manifestly improper to leave the two
younger ones for hours and days together, in a wild country, infested
with wild beasts, and unprotected, except by a lame, bedridden negro,
who was unable to protect himself, that they did not entertain them for
a moment.  It was finally resolved to delay their regular operations
until the next week, by which time they hoped to be able, partly by
water and partly by land, to transport everything, and take up their
permanent abode at the prairie.

With this conclusion, they set about those little preparations which
they could foresee as being necessary to an undivided use of their time
after entering upon their work.  Their clothes, and particularly their
shoes, began to give signs of decay.  Frank’s shoes had for some time
been gaping incontinently at the toes, looking for all the world, Sam
said, as if they were laughing.

Harold, foreseeing the necessity before it occurred, had put some
deer-skins in soak, wrapped up in lime made from burnt oyster shells;
and after removing the hair loosened by this means, had stretched them
in the sun, and softened them by frequent applications of suet. The
skins were ready now for use; and as soon as it was determined to delay
their visit to the prairie, he brought one of them to the tent, and
calling to Frank, said,

"Lend me your foot a minute, Master Frank, and I will give you a pair of
moccasins."

"Not the _snakes_, I hope," replied Frank.

"No, but something of the same name," said Harold; "I am going to turn
shoemaker, and make you a pair of Indian shoes.  I need a pair myself."

"And so do I--and I!" echoed Robert and Mary.

"Indeed, at this rate," said Harold, "we may as well all turn
shoemakers, and fit ourselves out in Indian style."

Harold planted Frank’s foot upon the leather, which he drew up close
around it, and marked at the heel, toe, and instep.  He then cut it
according to the measure, and there being but one short seam at the
heel, and another from the toe to the instep, the sewing was soon
finished.  Frank tried it on, and for a first attempt the fit was very
good.  The fellow to this was barely completed, before two reports of
Robert’s gun, following in quick succession, came lumbering down the
river. Fidelle pricked up her ears, and Harold, recalling vividly the
panther scene, gave her the word to "hie on," and seizing his own gun
followed rapidly along the shore.  He had not proceeded far before a
turn in the bluff revealed the figure of Robert, moving about the beach,
and throwing at something in the water.  He saw, too, that when Fidelle
came up, Robert patted her, and pointing to the river, she plunged in
and brought out a dark looking object, which she laid on a pile already
at his feet.  Arriving at the spot, he saw six water-fowl, between the
size of a duck and a goose, of a kind entirely new to him, and which
Robert assured him were brant.

"O Harold!" Robert exclaimed, "the shore was lined with them.  I crept
behind the bluff and killed four at my first shot, and three at my
second, though one of them fell in the marsh and is lost.  A little
further up was a large flock of mallards, feeding upon the acorns of the
live oak.  I could have killed even more of them than of these, but I
preferred the brant."

"You startled me," said Harold; "I did not know you had left the tent
until I heard your gun, and then fearing you had got into another
panther scrape, I dispatched Fidelle to your aid."

"She was exactly what I wanted, though I am thankful to say for a
pleasanter purpose.  See how fat these birds are!"

They gathered up the game, and returned to the tent.  All were rejoiced
at the new variety of provisions, for they had begun to weary of the
old.  The brant proved quite as pleasant as Robert anticipated, and
alternated occasionally with wild ducks, constituted for a long time an
important addition to their stores.

For two days they were occupied with their new art of shoe making, and
so expert did they become, that Harold said he doubted whether old
Torgah himself could make much better moccasins than those manufactured
by themselves.  There was one improvement, however, which they made upon
the usual Indian mode--a stout sole, made of several thicknesses of the
firmest part of the leather as a defence against thorns and cock-spurs,
so abundant in the sandy soil of the coast.



                              CHAPTER XXIX


REMOVAL TO THE PRAIRIE--NIGHT ROBBERY--FOLD--DANGEROUS TRAP--MYSTERIOUS
SIGNALS--BITTER DISAPPOINTMENT


On Monday morning, the wind blew so favourably up the river, that even
before the tide began to rise, the young movers had loaded their raft,
prepared a rude sail, and were ready to start.  The raft which had been
constructed for the purpose of rescuing Sam, had been originally so
small, and the logs were now so thoroughly soaked with water, that to
make it carry what they wished at their first load they were compelled
to add to its dimensions.  But this did not detain them long, and after
all was completed, and the baggage stowed away, Sam, by the help of
Harold’s crutches, hobbled to the beach, and seated himself at the helm,
while Harold took the oars, and Robert, Mary and Frank went by their
well marked path through the woods, to meet them at the orange landing.

The passage by water occupied nearly three hours, and when the clumsy
float slowly approached the shore, Harold could see through the narrow
strip of woodland, that Robert had felled two palmettoes on the edge of
the other river, and was now engaged in cutting them up.

"Can it be, Robert," he asked, on landing, "that some bird of the air
has carried to you the message I wanted to send?  Are you not preparing
another raft?"

"I am," he replied.  "It occurred to me that if we could complete this
raft by the turn of the tide, we might take the load to the _prairie
landing_, and yours might be floated hack to the old encampment for
another cargo."

The idea was so valuable, that the boys scarcely allowed themselves time
to eat or to rest until it was accomplished; and when at last the tide
was seen moving towards the sea, they separated, Robert, Mary, and Sam
going to the prairie landing, where they soon had the tent spread, and a
fire burning; and Harold and Frank floating back to the place of their
former residence, where they secured the raft, and calling Nanny, Dora,
and the kids, returned overland to join the company at the new home.

For several days they were occupied with the labour of transporting
their baggage, and fitting up their present abode with comforts and
conveniences.  The tent was not established at the landing where it was
pitched the first night, but on the edge of the prairie, a furlong
distant, and within a stone’s throw of the spring.

On the third night after their removal, they experienced a loss which
caused them to feel both sad and anxious.  Nanny and her kids, having no
place provided for them, had selected a nice retreat under the shelter
of a mossy oak, and made that their lounging place by day, and their
sleeping place by night.  At the time referred to the boys had just
retired to bed, when they heard one of the kids bleating piteously, and
its cry followed by the tramp of the others running to the tent for
protection.  Harold and Robert sprang to their guns, and calling the
dogs, seized each a burning brand, and hurried in the direction of the
kid, whose wail of pain and fear became every moment more faint, until
it was lost in the distance.  The depredator was without doubt a
panther.  Such a circumstance was calculated to dishearten the boys
exceedingly; for it forewarned them that not only were they likely to
lose all their pets, but that there was no safety to themselves, and
particularly none to Frank, if he should incautiously straggle into a
panther’s way.  They called Nanny to a spot near the tent, fastened her
by the dog’s chain to a bush, threw a supply of wood on the fire
sufficient to burn for some hours, and retired to bed sad and uneasy.
Returning from their unsuccessful sally, Harold significantly shook his
head, and said, "I will be ready for him before he has time to be hungry
again."

There was no other disturbance that night.  Frank was asleep at the time
of the accident, and knew nothing of it until the next morning, when
seeing Nanny fastened near the tent, he asked why that was, and where
was the other kid.  "Poor Jinny!" he exclaimed, on hearing of its fate
(the kids, being a male and female, had been called Paul and Virginia).
"Poor Jinny!  So you are gone!"  He went to Nanny, the chief mourner,
and patting her smooth side said, in a pitying tone, "Poor Nanny!  Ain’t
you sorry for your daughter?  Only think, Nanny, that she is eaten up by
a panther!"  Nanny looked sorrowful enough, and replied, "Baa!"  But
whether that meant, "I am so sorry my daughter is dead," or, "I wish you
would loose my chain, and let me eat some of this nice grass," Frank
could not determine. After a breakfast, by no means the most cheerful,
Harold said,

"Robert, we must make a picket fence for the protection of these poor
brutes.  But as I have a particular reason for wishing some fresh
venison before night, I want to arrange matters so that either you or I
shall go out early enough to be sure of obtaining it."

Robert urged him to go at once, but disliking the appearance of avoiding
labour, he preferred to remain, and aid them through the most laborious
part of the proposed work.  The palisade was made of strong stakes,
eight or ten feet long, sharpened at one end, and driven into a narrow
trench, which marked the dimensions of the enclosure.  Harold assisted
to cut and transport to the spot the requisite number of stakes; and
shortly after noon took Frank as his companion, and left Robert and Sam
to complete the work.  He had not been gone more than an hour and a
half, before Robert heard the distant report of a heavily loaded gun, in
the direction of the spot where the brant and ducks had been shot.

"Eh! eh!" said Sam, "Mas Harrol load he gun mighty hebby for a rifle!"

"Yes," said Robert, "and he has chosen a very poor weapon for shooting
ducks."

The workmen were too intently engaged to reflect that the report which
they heard could not have proceeded from a rifle.  In the course of half
an hour another report, but of a sharper sound, was heard much nearer,
and appearing to proceed from the neighbourhood of the orange-trees, on
the tongue of land.  Robert now looked inquiringly at Sam, and was about
to remark, "That gun cannot be Harold’s--it has not the crack of a
rifle;" but the doubt was only momentary, and soon passed away.  Long
afterwards the familiar sound of Harold’s piece was heard in the west,
and a little before sunset Harold and Frank appeared, bearing a fat
young deer between them.

"That looks nice; but you have been unfortunate, Harold," said Robert,
who having finished the pen, and introduced into it Nanny and the two
young ones, had wiped his brows, and sat down to rest.

"Why so?"

"In getting no more."

Harold looked surprised, but considering the remark as a sort of
compliment to his general character, returned,

"O, that must be expected sometimes.  But come, Robert, if you are not
too weary, I shall be glad of your assistance in a little work before
dark.  I wish to post up a notice here, that night robbers had better
keep away."

By their united efforts they succeeded in constructing a very simple
though dangerous trap, which Harold said he hoped would give them a dead
panther before morning. He laid Riley’s rifle upon two forked stakes,
about a foot from the ground, and fastened it so that any movement
forwards would bring the trigger against an immovable pin, and spring
it.  He then tied a tempting piece of venison to a small pole, which was
bound to the rifle in a range with the course of the ball.  And to make
assurance doubly sure, he drove down a number of stakes around the bait,
so that nothing could take hold of it, except in such direction as to
receive the load from the gun.

"Now," said he, after having tried the working of his gun, by charging
it simply with powder and pulling at the pole, as he supposed a wild
beast would pull at the bait, then loading it with ball and setting it
ready for deadly use--"Now, if there is in these woods a panther that is
weary of life, I advise him to visit this place to-night."

The dogs were tied up, and the work was done.  So long as the boys were
engaged in making and setting their trap their minds were absorbed in
its details, and they conversed about nothing else.  But when that was
finished, Harold referred to Robert’s remark about his hunting, and
said, "I was unfortunate, it is true, but it was only in going to the
wrong place; for I got all that I shot at.  But what success had you,
for I heard your gun also."

"My gun!" responded Robert, "no, indeed.  I heard two guns up the river,
and supposed you were trying your skill in shooting ducks with a rifle."

Harold stopped, and stared at him in the dim twilight. "Not your gun,
did you say?  Then did Sam go out?"

"No.  He was working steadily with me, until a few minutes before you
returned."

The boys exchanged with each other looks of trouble and anxiety.  "Did
you hear any gun in reply to mine?" Harold asked.  Robert replied he had
not.

"Then," said Harold, in a voice tremulous with emotion, "I am afraid
that our worst trouble is to come; for either there are Indians on the
island, or our friends have come for us, and we have left no notice on
our flag-staff to tell them where we are."

Robert wrung his hands in agony.  "O, what an oversight again! when we
had resolved so faithfully to give every signal we could devise.  I’ll
get my gun! It may not be too late for an answer."

He ran with great agitation into the tent, and brought out his gun, but
hesitated.  "What if those we heard were fired by enemies, instead of
friends?"

"In that case," replied Harold, "we must run our risk.  If those were
Indian guns, it will be vain to attempt concealment.  They have already
seen our traces; and if they are bent on mischief, we shall feel it.
Let us give the signal."

They fired gun after gun, charging them with powder only, and hearing
the echoes reverberate far away in the surrounding forest; but no sound
except echoes returned. The person who fired those mysterious guns had
either left the island, or was indisposed to reply.

Many were the speculations they now interchanged upon the subject, and
gravely did the two elder boys hint to each other, in language
intelligible only to themselves, that there was now more to fear than to
hope. They ate their supper in silence, and Mary and Frank went
sorrowfully to bed.  Robert, Harold and Sam sat up late, after the
lights were extinguished, watching for the dreaded approach of Indians,
and devising various plans in case of attack.  At last they also
retired, taking turns to keep guard during the whole night.  All was
quiet until near morning; when, in the midst of Sam’s watch, they were
aroused by hearing near at hand the sharp report of a rifle.  In an
instant the excited boys were on their feet, and standing beside their
sentry, guns in hand, prepared to repel what they supposed to be an
Indian attack.  But Sam sung out in gleeful tone:

"No Injin! no Injin! but de trap.  Only yerry[#] how he growl!  I tell
you he got de lead!"


[#] Yerry, hear.


The boys hastily kindled a torch, loosed the dogs, ran to the trap, and
found, not a panther indeed, but a large wild cat, rolling and growling
in mortal agony. The dogs sprang fiercely upon it, and in less than two
minutes it lay silent and motionless, its keen eye quenched, and its
once spasmed limbs now softly flexible in death.  They took it up.  It
was nearly as large as Mum, being quite as tall, though not so heavy.
Before they had ceased their examinations the grey streak of dawn
gleamed above the eastern woods, and instead of retiring to rest again,
as their weariness strongly prompted, they prepared for the duties of
the opening day.

These duties appeared to be so contradictory, that they scarcely knew
what plan to pursue.  It was clear that some one or more should go
without delay to the coast, to ascertain whether their friends were or
had been there.  But who should go, and who should stay?  If there were
Indians abroad, it would be dangerous to divide their little force; and
yet all could not go, for Sam was lame.  Harold offered to go alone; but
the others, burning with the hope that their father might yet be on the
island, or within sight, insisted on bearing him company.  Sam also
helped to settle the question, by saying:

"Go, Mas Robbut, and little Missus, and Mas Frank; go all o’ you.  Don’t
be ’fraid for me; s’pose Injin come, he nebber trouble nigger."

This remark was based upon the well known fact that Indians seldom
interfere with negroes.  And encouraged thus to leave him a second time
alone, the young people resolved to go in a body to the coast; agreeing
with him, however, that if he saw any danger he should give them timely
warning by setting on fire a fallen pine-top.

Carrying what arms they could, and sending their dogs on either side as
scouts, they walked swiftly along their well known path to the seacoast.
No accident happened, no sign of danger appeared; everything was as
usual on the way, and at the place of their old encampment.  But
scarcely had they reached the oak, before Harold, pointing to the earth,
softened by a rain two nights before, cried out:

"Look here, Robert!  The tracks of two persons wearing shoes!"

Robert’s unpractised eye would never have detected the signs which
Harold’s Indian tuition enabled him so readily to discover; he could
scarcely distinguish, after the closest scrutiny, more than the deep
indentation of a boot-heel.  But that was enough; a boot-heel proved the
presence of a boot, and a boot proved the presence of a white man.  That
one fact relieved them from all apprehension that the visitors were
Indians.

They fired their guns, to attract if possible the attention of the
strangers; giving volley after volley, in repeated succession, and
scanning the coast in every direction; but it was without the desired
result--the persons were gone.  Their dogs had by this time gone to a
spot near the bluff, where there had been a fire, and were engaged in
eating what the boys discovered, on inspection, to be a ham-bone and
scattered crumbs of bread. On descending the bluff, where footprints
were sharply defined in the yielding sand, Frank exclaimed:

"Here is _William’s_ track!  I know it--I know it is William’s!"

The others examined it, and asked how he knew it was William’s.

"I know it," said he, "by that W.  When father gave him that pair of
thick boots for bad weather, William drove a great many tacks into the
sole; and when I asked him why he did so, he said it was to make them
last longer, and also to know them again if they should be stolen, for
there was his name.  In the middle of one sole he drove nine tacks,
making that W., and in the other he drove seven, so as to make an H.;
for he said his name was William Harper.  Yes, look here," pointing to
the other track, "here is the H., too."

There was now not the shadow of a doubt that the track thus ingeniously
identified was William’s.  Then whose was that other, formed by a light,
well shaped boot?  Every heart responded.  The elder boys looked on with
agitated faces; Mary burst into tears, and Frank, casting himself
passionately down, laid his wet cheek upon that loved foot-print, and
kissed it.

But he was gone now--though he had been so near--gone without a word, or
a sign, to say that he was coming back.  Gone?  Perhaps not.  Perhaps a
smoke might recall him, if the guns did not.  Harold silently ascended
the bluff, and with one of Frank’s matches fired the grass placed
beneath the heap of wood near the flag-staff.  The smoke rose; it
attracted the attention of the others, and soon they heard Harold call
from a distance, "Come here, all of you!  Here is something more."

They ran together, Robert and Mary taking each a hand of Frank; and when
they reached the flag-staff, saw a paper fastened to it by wooden pins
driven into the bark, and on the paper, written in large round
characters:

                    "_Five Thousand Dollars Reward_

"Will be cheerfully paid to any one who shall restore to me in safety a
boat’s company, lost from Tampa Bay on the 26th of October last.  They
were dragged to sea by a devil-fish, and when last seen were near this
island. The company consisted of my nephew, Harold McIntosh, aged nearly
fifteen, having black hair and eyes; and my three children, Robert
Gordon, aged fourteen; Mary Gordon, aged eleven; and Frank Gordon, aged
seven years; all having light hair and blue eyes.

"The above reward will be paid for the aforesaid company, with their
boat and boat’s furniture; or one thousand dollars for any one of the
persons, or for such information as shall enable me to know certainly
what has become of them.

"Information may be sent to me at Tampa Bay, care of Major ----,
commanding officer; or to Messrs. ---- & Co., Charleston, S. C.; or to
R. H----, Esquire, Savannah, Georgia.

"Dec. 9, 1830.
"CHARLES GORDON, M.D."


Underneath was the following postscript in pencil:


"P.S.  The aforesaid company have evidently been upon this island within
ten days past.  I have searched the coast and country here in almost
every direction. They appear to have left, and I trust for home.  Should
any fatality attend their voyage, they will probably be heard of between
this island and Tampa Bay.  C. G."


The young people were overwhelmed.  "Poor father!" Mary said with a
choking voice, "how disappointed he will be when he reaches home, and
finds that we are not there!  And poor mother! if she is there I know it
will almost kill her."

"But father _will_ come again--he will come right back--I know he will,"
Frank murmured resolutely through his tears.

"Yes, if mother is not too sick to be left," conjectured Mary.

"Come, children," said Robert, with an air of sullen resolve, "it is of
no use to stand here idle.  Let us go back to the prairie, and build our
boats."

"But not before we have left word on the flag-staff to tell where we are
to be found," Harold added.  A bitter smile played around the corners of
Robert’s mouth, as muttering something about "locking the door after the
steed is stolen," he took out his pencil, and wrote in deep black
letters,


"The lost company, together with Sam, a servant, are to be found at a
small prairie three or four miles south-east from this point.  We have
lost our boat, and are building another.

"Dec. 10, 1830.  ROBERT GORDON."


They collected another pile of wood and grass for a fire signal near
their flag-staff, and then with slow, sad steps, turned their faces once
more to the prairie.



                              CHAPTER XXX


BEST CURE FOR UNAVAILING SORROW--MARY’S ADVENTURE WITH A BEAR--NOVEL
DEFENCE--PROTECTING THE TENT


It was natural that the youthful company should be much cast down by
this misfortune.  But recent experiences had taught them many valuable
lessons, and had caused them to practise, more fully than they would
have otherwise, those wise maxims which had formed no small part of
their education.  While Robert and Mary were yet anguished with their
sense of disappointment, Harold cheerfully remarked:

"I have often heard your father say, ’There are two kinds of ill that it
is worth no wise man’s while to fret about:--Ills that _can be_ helped,
for then why do we not help them? and, Ills that _cannot be_ helped, for
then what is the use of fretting?’  I have also heard him say that ’_the
best cure for ills that cannot be helped is to set about doing something
useful_.’"

"But what can we do more than we have already tried to do?" asked
Robert, in a questioning tone.

"Not much, I confess," was Harold’s reply; "yet we can be on the lookout
for something.  Yes," he continued, pointing, as they walked, to one of
the turkey pens which they had not visited for several days, "there is
something now.  Very likely that trap has caught, and possibly the poor
creature that is in it, is now suffering more in body for want of food
and water, than we are in mind.  Let us go and see."

They turned aside accordingly, and found within the trap a fine young
hen in a half-famished condition.  She scarcely noticed them until they
were within a few paces of her, and then ran with feeble steps around
the pen, twitting mournfully, but without strength to fly. Robert
proposed to let her go, saying that there would be no use in carrying
home a starved bird; but to this Mary objected.  She was beginning to
believe with Harold that they were destined to stay a long time on the
island.  "I think," said she, "we had better take her home, and make a
coop for her, and let her be the beginning of a stock of poultry.  We
can get some ducks, too, I have no doubt, and that will be so nice."

The picture which she drew was so comfortable and pleasant, that they
agreed to put it into instant execution.  They would make for her not a
coop merely, but a poultry yard and house, and stock it for her with
turkeys, ducks, and brant; and she and Frank should feed them every
morning on acorns and chopped venison, and then they would live like
princes.  The only particular difficulty that suggested itself in the
case was, that wild turkeys cannot be tamed.  There is such an innate
love of freedom in their very blood, that even those which are raised
from the egg by tame hens will soon forsake the yard for the forest.

These little pleasant plans (for after all it is _little things_ that
make life pleasant or unpleasant), occupied their minds, and soon
employed their hands; for immediately on their return home they
commenced upon Mary’s poultry house, and marked out also the limits of
the adjoining yard.  This occupied them for the two remaining days of
that week, and it was not until the Monday following that they commenced
working upon their boats.

In the midst of that week, however, another incident occurred, which
threatened to be fearful enough in its consequences, and caused another
interruption to their work.  Robert, Harold, and Sam, were engaged upon
the fallen tree; Mary was preparing their dinner, and Frank, having
found a large beetle, was employed in driving down sticks into the
ground, on the plan of the picket fence, "making," as he professed, "a
house for his turkey."  He had begun to feel hungry; and as the odour of
the broiling venison floated to his olfactories, he suddenly became
ravenous.  He left his beetle half penned, and was on his way to ask his
sister for a mouthful or two before dinner, when directly behind the
tent he saw a great black object approaching the spot where Mary stood.

He looked a moment, uncertain what it could be, then gave a scream.
"Run, sister! run!" he said.  "Come here!  Look! look!"  She looked, but
saw nothing, for the tent intervened.  As Frank said "run!" he set the
example, and reaching a small tree about six inches in diameter, climbed
it as nimbly as a squirrel, crying as he ran, "Come here!  Come here!"

Mary was astonished.  She was sure from the tones of his voice that he
was in earnest, yet she saw no danger, and hesitated what to do.
Observing him, however, climb the tree, calling earnestly to her, she
was about to follow, when in a moment it was too late.  An enormous bear
came from behind the tent, snuffing the odour of the meat, and looking
very hungry.  Almost as soon as it discovered her, it rose upon its hind
legs, seeming surprised to meet a human being, and came forward with a
heavy growl.  Had any one been present to help, Mary would probably have
screamed and fainted, but thrown upon her own resources she ran to the
fire and seized a burning brand.  Then another and very fortunate
thought came to her mind.  The dipper, or water ladle, was in her hand;
and as she drew the brand from the fire, she dipped a ladle full of the
boiling, greasy water, and threw it into the breast, and upon the
fore-paws of the growling beast.

That expedient saved her life.  The bear instantly dropped upon all
fours, and began most piteously to whine and lick its scalded paws.
Mary seeing the success of her experiment, dipped another ladle full,
and threw it in its face.  The bear now uttered a perfect yell of pain,
and turning upon its hind legs, ran galloping past the tent, as if
expecting every moment to feel another supply of the hot stuff upon its
back.

All this time Frank was calling from his tree, "Come here, sister!  He
can’t get you here!  Come! come!"  And Mary was about to go; but the
bear was no sooner out of sight, than she felt very sick.  Beckoning
Frank to come to her, she ran towards the tent, intending to fire off
one of the guns, as a signal for the large boys to return; but ere
reaching the door her sight failed, her brain reeled, and she fell
prostrate upon the earth. Frank looked all round, and seeing that the
bear was "clear gone," sprang lightly from the tree, and ran to her
assistance.  He had once before seen her in a fainting fit, and
recollecting that Robert had poured water in her face, and set him to
fanning her, and chafing her temples and the palms of her hands, he
first poured a dipper full of cold water on her face, then seizing the
conch, blew the signal of alarm, till the woods rang again.

This soon brought the others.  Harold came rushing into the tent, and by
the time that Robert arrived, he had loosened Mary’s dress, and was
rubbing her hands and wrists, while Frank fanned her, and told the tale
of her fighting the bear with hot water.  The boys were powerfully
excited.  Harold’s eye turned continually to the woods, and he called
Mum, and patted him with one hand, while he helped Mary with the other.

"Let me attend to her now," said Robert.  "I see by your eye that you
wish to go.  But if you will only wait a minute, I think sister will be
sufficiently well for me to go with you."

"I am well enough now," she faintly replied.  "You need not stay on my
account.  Do kill him.  He can’t be far away.  Oh, the horrible"--she
covered her eyes with both hands, and shuddered.

"But will you not be afraid to have us leave you?" asked Robert.

"No, no; not if you go to kill that terrible creature. Do go, before he
gets away."

Sam had in the meantime hobbled in, and the boys needed no other
encouragement.  Frank showed them the direction taken by the bear, and
they set out instantly in pursuit.  Mum had already been smelling
around, and exhibiting signs of rage.  Now he started off on a brisk
trot.  They followed him to a moist, mossy place, where the bear
appeared to have rolled on the damp ground, and drawn the wet moss
around it to alleviate the pain of the fire; then to another low place,
where he showed by his increasing excitement that the game was near at
hand. Indeed, they could hear every minute a half whine, half growl,
which proved that the troubled beast was there in great pain, and
conscious of their approach.  But it did not long remain.  Seeming to
know that it had brought upon itself a terrible retribution, by
attacking the quiet settlement, it broke from the cover, and ran to a
large oak, in the edge of the neighbouring hammock, and when the boys
arrived, they found it climbing painfully, a few feet above ground.  Its
huge paws convulsively grasped the trunk, and it made desperate efforts
to ascend, as if confident that climbing that tree was its only refuge,
and yet finding this to fail it in its time of need. Both boys prepared
to shoot, but Harold beckoned to Robert.

"Let me try him in the ear with a rifle ball, while you keep your
barrels ready in case he is not killed."

He advanced within ten paces, rested his rifle deliberately against a
tree, took aim without the quivering of a muscle.  Robert saw him draw a
"bead sight" on his victim, and knew that its fate was sealed.  There
was a flash, a sharp report, and the heavy creature fell to the earth,
like a bag of sand, and the dark blood, oozing from ears and nose,
proved that its sufferings and its depredations were ended for ever.

"He will give us plenty of fresh pork, the monster!" said Harold,
endeavouring to quell his emotions, by taking a utilitarian view of the
case, and, in consequence, making a singular medley of remarks, "What
claws and teeth!  I don’t wonder that Mary fainted!  She is a brave
girl!"

"Yes, indeed," replied Robert; "there is not one girl in a thousand that
could have stood her ground so well. And that notion of fighting with
hot water--ha! ha!  I must ask where she got it.  It is capital.  Only
see here, Harold, how this fellow’s foot is scalded; this is the secret
of his climbing so badly."

Mary’s hot water had done its work effectually.  The bear was terribly
scalded on its paws, breast, face, and back of its head.  The boys bled
it, as they did their other game, by cutting through the jugular vein
and carotid artery; but wishing to relieve Mary’s mind as soon as
possible, they returned to inform her that her enemy was dead.

"And pray tell me, sister," said Robert merrily, after recounting the
scene just described, "where did you learn your new art of fighting
bears?"

"From cousin Harold," she replied.

"From me, cousin!" Harold repeated.  "Why, I never heard of such a thing
in my life.  How _could_ I have told you?"

"You said one day," Mary continued, "that wild beasts are afraid of
fire, and that they cannot endure the pain of a burn.  Now when I took
up the brand to defend myself, according to your rule, I remembered that
_hot water_ hurts the most, and that moreover I could _throw_ it.  But
if you had not mentioned the one, I should not have thought of the
other."

"I think you deserve a patent," said Harold, patting her pale cheek.
"You have beat the whole of us, not excepting Robert, who was a perfect
hero in his day; for he conquered a panther with duck-shot, but you have
conquered a bear with a ladle.  Why, cousin Mary, if ever we return to a
civilized country we shall have to publish you for a heroine."

She smiled at these compliments, but remarked that she was not heroine
enough to covet another such trial; for that she was a coward after all.

"And you, Master Frank," said Robert, whose pleasurable feeling excited
a disposition to teaze, "you climbed into a tree."

"Indeed I did," replied Frank, "as fast as I could, and tried to get
sister Mary there too.  But she would stay and fight the bear with hot
water.  Sister, why did you not come?"

"I did not know why you called," she answered.  "I did not see anything,
and did not know which way to run."

"I think, cousin," remarked Harold, "that if you had run when Frank
called, you would have saved yourself the battle.  The bear was after
your meat, not after you; and if you had only been willing to give up
that dinner, which you defended so stoutly, he would probably have eaten
it, and let you alone."

With this lively chatting, Mary was so much cheered, that she joined
them at dinner, and partook slightly of the choice bits that her brother
and cousin pressed upon her.  The afternoon was spent in preparing the
flesh of their game.  They treated it in every respect as they would
pork, except that the animal was flayed; and they found the flesh well
flavoured and pleasant.  The parings and other fatty parts were by
request turned over to Sam, who prepared from them a soft and useful
grease. The skin was stretched in the sun to dry, after which it was
soaked in water, cleansed of all impurities, and rubbed well with salt
and saltpetre (William had put up a quantity), and finally with the
bear’s own grease. After it had been nicely cured, Harold made a present
of it to Mary, who used it as a mattress so long as she lived upon the
island.

Warned so impressively to protect their habitation against wild beasts,
the boys spent the rest of the week in erecting a suitable enclosure.
They planted a double row of stakes around the tent and kitchen, filling
up the interstices with twigs and short poles.  The fence was higher
than their heads, and there was a rustic gateway so contrived that at a
little distance it looked like part of the fence itself.



                              CHAPTER XXXI


HARD WORK--LABOUR-SAVING DEVICE--DISCOVERY AS TO THE TIME OF THE
YEAR--SCHEMES FOR AMUSEMENT--TIDES ON THE FLORIDA COAST


For a fortnight the boys worked very hard, and yet made but little
apparent progress.  Previous to this, they had devoted two days to
Mary’s convenience, and three more to her protection.  The rest had been
spent in hacking, with dull axes, upon an immense tree.  The log was
three feet in diameter, and had been rough shaped into the general form
of a boat, eighteen feet long.  But having no adze, nor mattock, which
might be used in digging, and receiving from Sam very little assistance
more than the benefit of his advice, they began to feel somewhat
discouraged at the small results of their unpractised labours.  This
caused them to cast in their minds for some device by which their work
might be facilitated, and thankful enough were they to Indian ingenuity
for suggesting the plan by fire.  They set small logs of pine along the
intended excavation, and guarding the edges with clay, to prevent the
fire from extending beyond the prescribed limits, had the satisfaction
to see, the next morning, that the work accomplished by this new agent
during the night, was quite as great as that accomplished by themselves
during the day.

For a few days they had been working under the pleasing stimulation
produced by this discovery, when Robert, pausing in the midst of his
work, said,

"Harold, have you any idea what day of the month this is?"

"No," replied Harold, "I know that it is Friday, and that we are
somewhere past the middle of December. But why do you ask?"

"Because, if I am not mistaken, tomorrow is Christmas day.  This is the
twenty-fourth of December."

The announcement made Sam start.  He looked at Robert with a half
bewildered, half joyful gaze.  The very name of Christmas brought the
fire to his eye.

"Ki, Mas Robbut," said he, "you tink I remember Christmas?  Who ebber
hear o’ nigger forget Christmas befo’?  But for sure, I nebber say
Christmas to myself once, since I been come to dis island.  Eh! eh!  I
wonder if ee ent[#] ’cause dis Injin country, whey dey nebber hab no
Christmas at all?  Eh!  Christmas? Tomorrow Christmas?"


[#] If it is not.


Robert could have predicted the effect which his discovery would have
upon Sam, but he was excessively amused to observe how unforgiving he
seemed to be to himself for neglecting this part of a negro’s privilege.
As soon as it was settled, by a brief calculation, that the next day was
indeed the twenty-fifth of December, another thing was settled, of
course--that no work should be done, and that the day should be spent in
enjoyment. Sam clapped his hands, and would have been guilty of some
antic on the occasion, if his lame leg had not admonished him to be
careful.  So he only tossed his cap into the air, and shouted,

"Merry Christmas to ebbery body here, at Bellevue and at home!"

"Now comes another question," said Robert; "how shall the day be spent?
We have no neighbours to visit. No Christmas trees grow here, and Frank
may hang up his moccasins in vain, for I doubt whether Santa Claus ever
heard of this island."

"O, yes, Mas Robbut," Sam merrily interposed. "Dere is one neighbour I
been want to see for long time. I hear say I got a countryman[#] libbin
way yonder in a hollow tree.  He is a black nigger, ’sept he is got four
legs and a mighty ugly face."


[#] Pronounced long, country ma-an.  It usually means a native African.


"What does the fellow mean?" said Harold, seriously.

"O," replied Robert, laughing, "it is only his way of asking us to visit
our friend the bear.  What do you think of it?"

"We have _promised_ to make Mrs. Bruin a visit," said Harold, entering
into the joke; "and perhaps she may think it hard if we do not keep our
word."  Just then the conch called them home.  "But let us hear what
Mary and Frank have to say.  I foresee difficulties all around."

When the question was discussed in general conclave, Mary looked rather
sober.  She had not yet recovered wholly from her former fright; but not
willing to interfere with a frolic, from which the others seemed to
anticipate so much pleasure, although it seemed to her to be one of
needless peril, she replied that she would consent on two
conditions--one was that they should go on the raft, to save the immense
walk to the spot, and the other was that they should either put her and
Frank in some place of safety while they fought the bear, or supply her
with an abundance of hot water.

"That idea of the raft is capital," said Robert.  "The tide will suit
exactly for floating down in the morning and back in the afternoon.  I
think we can give sister all she asks, and the hot water too, if she
insists upon it."

A word here about tides on the western coast of Florida.  From Cape
Romano, or Punta Largo, northward to Tampa, and beyond, there is but one
tide in the course of the day, and that with a rise usually of not more
than three feet.  But south of Cape Romano, and particularly in the
neighbourhood of Chatham Bay, there are two, as in other parts of the
world, except that they are of unequal lengths, one occupying six, and
the other eighteen hours, with its flood and ebb.  People there call
them "the tide and half tide."  The plan of the boys was to float down
on the nine hour ebb, and to return on the three hour flood.

Sam’s notions about the observation of Christmas eve, as a part of
Christmas, suited exactly the inclination of the boys; their hands were
blistered, and they were glad of a good excuse for leaving off work, by
an hour or two of the sun.  In anticipation of the next day’s absence,
and of the Sabbath succeeding, Frank gathered during the afternoon
plenty of acorns for the poultry, and grass for the deer and goats,
which were to be kept in their fold; and the others laid up a supply of
wood for the fire.  Mary sliced some nice pieces of venison and bear’s
meat, and made some bread and Christmas cakes; all, which she packed
away in a basket, with oranges, limes, and a bottle of transparent
honey.  Long before dark everything was ready for the expedition.



                             CHAPTER XXXII


CHRISTMAS MORNING--VOYAGE--VALUABLE DISCOVERY--HOSTILE
INVASION--ROBBERY--MASTERLY RETREAT--BATTLE AT LAST--A QUARREL REQUIRES
TWO QUARRELLERS--THE GHOST’S VISIT


There may have been many a more noisy Christmas, but never a brighter
one, and few merrier, than that which dawned upon our young marooners;
nor was it entirely without its noise. The boys had requested Sam, in
case he was first awake, to rouse them at the break of day, and he had
promised to do so.  A secret whispering had been observed between him
and Frank; and the latter had also begged for a piece of twine, which he
promised to return, but the use of which he refused to tell.
Conjecturing that it was intended for some piece of harmless fun, they
gave it to him, and waited his own time to reveal the purpose.

On going to bed Mary noticed that Frank fidgetted a great deal with his
toes, and seemed to be much tickled with several remarks made by
himself, but which seemed to her to have nothing in them particularly
witty.  He was evidently in a frolic, and wanted excuses to laugh. In
the dead of night, as Mary supposed, though it was really just before
day, she was awakened by feeling him move restlessly, and then put his
hands to his feet with the inquiry:

"What is the matter with my toe?"

"Is there anything the matter with it!" she drowsily asked.

"O, no, nothing at all," he replied.  "I dreamed that a rat was gnawing
it off.  But it is only a string I tied there myself."

He then turned over, and lay still, pretending to be asleep; but when he
heard her breathe hard, he slipped out of bed, put on his clothes, and
went softly out of the tent.  Sam had agreed to wake him, so that they
two might, according to Christmas custom, "catch" the others, by hailing
them first; and as Sam could not go into the room where Mary slept, he
persuaded Frank to tie a string to one of his toes, and to pass the
other end outside of the tent.  It was Sam’s pulling at this string that
gave Frank his dream, and finally waked him.  For a minute or two they
whispered together in merry mood, and on Sam’s saying, "Now, Mas Frank,
now!" the roar of two guns, and then the sound of a conch, broke upon
the ears of the startled sleepers.

"Good morning, lazy folks!" said Frank, bursting into the tent.  "Merry
Christmas to you all!"

"Merry Christmas, Mas Robbut!" Sam echoed from behind, "Merry Christmas,
Mas Harrol!  Merry Christmas, little Missus!"

"Fairly caught!" answered Robert; "and now, I suppose, we must look out
some presents for you both."

The company completed their toilet, and came together under the awning,
which was still their kitchen. The day star was "flaming" gloriously,
and the approach of day was marked by a hazy belt of light above the
eastern horizon.  They kindled their fire, and prepared for breakfast,
with many jests and kind expressions; then sobering themselves to a
becoming gravity, they sat around the red blaze, and engaged in their
usual morning worship.

While the sun threw his first slanting beams across the island, Harold
went to the landing, and returned, saying, "Come all.  The tide has been
going down for hours, and is now running like a mill-tail!"

Hastening their preparations, they were in a short time seated upon the
raft, Sam at the helm, and Robert and Harold by turn at the oars.  Borne
by the current, and impelled by their own efforts, they were not two
hours in reaching the proposed landing place.

[Illustration: They were not two hours in reaching the proposed landing
place]

The river was exceedingly crooked, and so densely bordered with
mangroves, that from the place they left to that which they sought, it
was nowhere possible for them to reach the shore.  Once when they
approached nearest land, they saw a herd of deer peep inquisitively at
them through an opening glade, and turn quietly to feed.  The tall heron
was a frequent sight, lifting its long blue neck high as their heads,
and then flapping its broad wings to escape too near an approach; and
the dapper kingfisher turning his big head to look at them; and the
"poor jobs," or small white cranes clustering thick upon the dead trees;
and the Spanish curlew sticking forward its long curved bill; and the
grey curlew with its keen note; and the marsh hens, cackling far and
near, to say (such is the report) that the tide is moving; and ducks
rising in clouds from different points of the marsh and reaches of the
river;--these sights were very frequent, and seen with the bright eyes
of young people on a Christmas excursion, imparted a charming vivacity
to the scene.

Passing a creek which drained the marsh to their left, they made a
discovery, which proved a valuable one indeed.  Harold was looking up
the creek with that universal scrutiny that had become in him second
nature, when he suddenly dropped his oars, exclaiming, "What is that?"

The raft shot so quickly past that no one but Sam had time to look.  He,
however, replied instantly, "Starn ob a vessel!"

"Stern of a vessel, did you say?" inquired Robert. "’Bout ship, Sam.
Come, Harold, let us pull right for it and see."

They brought the raft into an eddy near shore, and though it required a
prodigious pull to propel so clumsy a thing against the tide from the
creek, they managed to do so, and discovered not the stern of a vessel
only, but the whole of a small brig turned bottom upwards, and lying
across the creek jammed in the mud and mangroves.

"Well, that is indeed a Christmas gift worth having," said Robert.  "Did
I say Santa Claus never heard of this island?  I take that back; he has
not forgotten us."

"He or some One greater," interposed Mary, with seriousness.

They rowed alongside, and tried to enter; but having no tools for
penetrating the vessel’s side, nor candles for lighting them after they
had entered, they concluded to prosecute their voyage, and to delay
their visit to the wreck till Monday.

With this intention they pushed out of the creek, and descended to the
proposed landing, where they made fast their raft to a crooked root, and
stepped upon a firm beach of mixed mud and sand.  The fiddlers (a small
variety of crabs that look at a little distance like enormous black
spiders) were scampering in every direction, with their mouths covered
with foam, and their threatening claws raised in self-defence, until
each one dived into its little hole, and peeped slyly at the strange
intruders.  A wild cat sat upon a neighbouring tree, watching their
motions with as much composure as if she were a favourite tabby in her
mistress’ parlour.  Frank was the first to spy and point it out.  It was
within a good rifle shot.

"Stand still a moment, if you wish to see how far a cat can jump," said
Harold.

He rested his rifle upon a small tree, and taking steady aim, sent the
ball, from a distance of seventy yards, through both sides of the cat,
directly behind the shoulders.  She leaped an immense distance, and fell
dead. Frank seized it, saying it was _his_ cat, and that he intended to
take off its skin, and make it into a cap like cousin Harold’s.

From the landing they followed the mark left by their hatchet upon the
trees in their exploring tour, and it was not long before they
recognized from a distance the poplar or tulip tree, in the hollow base
of which the bear had made her den.

As yet Mum had given no indications of alarm; but on approaching the
tree the boys selected for Mary and Frank a pretty little oak, with
horizontal branches, in full sight of the den; and having prepared them
a seat made comfortable with moss, and helped them into it, advanced to
the field of battle.

To their disappointment the old bear was gone.  The sun shone full into
the hole, and revealed the two cubs alone, nicely rolled up in the
middle of their bed, and soundly asleep.  There was some reason to
suppose that the mother would return before they left the neighbourhood,
and in this expectation Harold prepared to secure the cubs.  He placed
Robert and Sam as videttes at a little distance, and also charged Mary
and Frank to keep a sharp look out from their elevated position, while
Mum and Fidelle were set to beating the surrounding bushes as scouts.
But, notwithstanding all his care and skill, he found that the work of
capturing the cubs was very difficult.  The cavity being too large to
allow of reaching them with his arms, and afraid to trust himself inside
the hole, lest the old bear should arrive and catch him in the act, he
relied upon throwing a slip noose over their heads, or upon their feet;
but young as they were he found them astonishingly expert in warding off
his traps.  The only plan by which he at last succeeded, was with a
hooked pole, by which he drew forth first one, and then the other, to
the mouth of the den, where, after sundry bites and scratches, he seized
their hind legs, passed a cord round their necks, and made it secure by
a fast knot.  This done, he tied each to a tree, where they growled and
whined loudly for help.  The hunters were now in a momentary expectation
of hearing the bushes burst asunder, and seeing the old bear come
roaring upon them; but she was too far distant, and had no suspicion of
the savage robbery that was going on at her quiet home.

It was fully an hour before the cubs were taken and secured.  By that
time Mary and Frank had become so weary of their unnatural roosting,
that they begged the others to cease their hunt, and return at once to
the raft. But here arose a new and unforeseen difficulty.  The distance
to the raft was considerable, and the way was so tangled that they had
made slow progress when they came; what could they now do, encumbered
with two disorderly captives, and in constant danger of attack from the
fiercest beast of the forest, "a bear robbed of her whelps"?  It was
easy enough to decide this question, if they would consent to free the
captives and return as they came.  But no one, except Mary and Frank,
entertained this idea for a moment; they would have been ashamed to give
up through fear what they had undertaken through choice.

The plan they at last devised was this--which though appearing to assign
the post of danger to the youngest, was in fact the safest they could
adopt.  Mary and Frank led each a cub, but they were instructed to drop
the cord on the first appearance of danger, and run to the safest point.
Sam marched in the van, Harold brought up the rear; Mary and Frank were
in the centre, and while Robert guarded one flank, the dogs were kept as
much as possible on the other.  It was with much misgiving that this
plan was adopted, for the boys began to feel that they had engaged in a
foolish scrape, involving a needless exposure of the young people, as
well as of themselves.  But they were now _in for it_, and they had no
choice, except to go forward or to give up the project in disgrace.
Formed in retreating column as described, and ready for instant battle,
they turned their faces to the river, and marched with what haste they
could.

They had not gone many steps, however, before Harold suddenly faced
about, levelled his piece, and called to them to "look out!"  He heard a
bush move behind him, and supposed, of course, that it was the bear
coming in pursuit, but it proved to be only a bent twig righting itself
to its natural position.

Not long after Robert raised a similar alarm on his side, and levelled
his gun at some unseen object that was moving rapidly through the
bushes.  Mary and Frank dropped the cords, and Frank clambered up a
small tree near at hand.  Mary turned very pale, and ran first to Sam,
but hearing the noise approach that way, she ran back to Harold for
protection.  The next moment she saw Sam drop his gun from its aim, and
call out,

"You Mum!  Come in, sah!  You git yo’ libber shot out o’ you, you scary
warment!"

The alarm was occasioned by Mum, who, unperceived by any, had wandered
to the wrong side.

The cubs, trained by this time to obey the cord, and either weary with
the walk, or submissive to a fate that seemed so gentle, had not stirred
from the spot where they were left.  Frank slipped quietly from his
tree, hoping that nobody had seen him; but Robert caught his eye, and
gave a sly wink, to which Frank doggedly replied,

"I don’t care, sir.  I suspect you would like to have been up a tree
too, if you could have got there."

"That I should, Frank," said Robert; "but it seems that you are the only
one of the crowd who can find trees in time when bears are about."

They resumed their march to the landing, and were interrupted only once
more.  The bushes before them rustled loudly, Fidelle rushed forward in
pursuit, and the ground shook with the heavy trampling of some large
beast.  It was on Sam’s side; but as he brought his piece to a level,
Harold cried, "Deer! deer! don’t shoot!" and again all was quiet.

A short walk brought them to the landing; where they wiped their moist
brows, and rested, thankful that they had completed their perilous
journey without accident. But their dangers were by no means over.  The
tide was down; the raft was aground; it was not possible to leave for
hours; and in the meantime the enraged beast might follow the trace of
her cubs, and perhaps assault them where they were.  In view of this
contingency they tied the young bears at a distance from the shore, but
within sight of their own place of repose, confident that if the mother
came she would bestow her first care in breaking their bonds, and taking
them away, in which case they could attack and destroy her.

With this expectation they sat down to their Christmas dinner, for which
they had by this time a pretty keen appetite.  Sam stood sentry while
they ate; then Robert and Harold by turns took his post, and gave him
opportunity to dine.  The spice of danger gave great zest to the
enjoyment of all except Mary, who would vastly have preferred being at
their comparatively secure and quiet home upon the prairie.

The tide finally rose, and floated the raft.  They once more embarked.
The young bears were secured, so that they could neither escape nor
annoy.  The fastening was cast off.  Harold’s oar, which he used as a
pole for shoving off, sunk in the yielding sand, and Robert’s "Heigh ho
for home!" was hardly uttered, when they heard a tramping on the bluff,
and a moment after saw the bear standing on the spot they had left.  She
stared in surprise at the retreating raft, whined affectionately to her
cubs, who whined in answer, and tried to break loose; then seeing their
efforts to be ineffectual, and the raft to be moving away, she raised
such a roar as made every heart tremble, and with a fierce look at the
persons on board plunged into the water.  The raft was by this time but
ten yards from shore, and slowly "backing" into the stream.  Harold’s
rifle was quickly at his shoulder, and in a second more the blood
spouted from the mouth and nose of the terrible beast.  But the wound
was not mortal, piercing below the eyes, and entering the nostrils and
throat; and blowing out the blood by successive snorts, she plunged on,
and began to swim.

"Now, Robert!" shouted Harold, "be steady!  Aim between her eyes!"

Robert fired first one barrel, and then the other; the bear sunk for a
moment, borne down by the heavy shot, but she rose again, streaming with
gore, and roaring till the waters trembled.  Sam’s gun was the only
remaining chance, and he used it most judiciously.  Waiting until the
bear was almost ready to place her feet upon the raft, he coolly
levelled his gun, and putting the muzzle within a few inches of her ear,
poured its contents bodily into her brain.  The furious creature had
just time to grasp the side of the raft; she gave one convulsive shake,
and turned on her side, stone dead.

"It was a desperate fight," said Robert, drawing a long breath.

"And a very foolish one," rejoined Harold.  "I have been thinking for
the last hour that we might have been better employed."

Robert looked displeased.  "Answer for yourself.  If it is foolish, you
helped to bring it on."

"I know that," replied Harold, with mildness, "and that makes me condemn
it the more."

"Then please, sir, not to blame the rest," said Robert, "for I am sure
everybody behaved as bravely as people could."

"I have not questioned any one’s courage, nor have I quarrelled with any
one except myself," replied Harold.

"Yes, sir, you have," persisted Robert, "you called us all a parcel of
fools for coming on a Christmas excursion."

"O! no, brother," mediated Mary, "he only said we might have been better
employed; and I think father would say so too.  I am sure if I had known
all before coming, as I know it now, I should not have given my
consent."

"Please, mossa," said Sam, looking from one to the other, "’tain’t any
o’ you been de fool.  Nobody fool but me.  Enty I ax you,[#] please come
see my countryman in de hollow tree; and you come?  And now, please,
mossa, don’t let my countryman git away.  See he floatin’ away to de
alligator.  Please let me catch ’em.  I want him fat to fry my hominy."


[#] Did not I ask you.


Sam looked so whimsical throughout the whole of this eloquent appeal,
that Robert’s face relaxed from its stern and angry expression, and at
the last words he caught Harold’s eye, and burst into a laugh.

"Come, Harold," said he, "let us save his fat; I know his mouth waters
for it."

The quarrel was over.  Indeed it could not properly be called a quarrel,
for it was all on one side, and no one can quarrel alone.  They caught
the floating carcass, tied it behind the raft, then pulling into the
current, floated rapidly home, and reached the prairie about the middle
of the afternoon.

For the rest of the day their hands were full; and it was not until late
at night that they were able to retire. The young bears were first
stowed away in the same pen with the goats and deer, but Harold was
scarcely able to remove them in time to save their lives; for Nanny,
after running from them as far as the limits of the pen allowed, rose
upon her hind legs with a desperate baa! and bringing her stony forehead
against the head of the nearest, laid it senseless on the ground, and
was preparing to serve the other in the same way.

What to do with them Harold did not know.  He dared not put them in the
poultry house, and he was unwilling either to shelter them in the tent
or to tie them outside the palisade.  So, until some other arrangement
could be devised, he fastened them to a stake inside the enclosure round
the tent, where he supplied them with water, honey, and a piece of
venison.

The adventure, however, was not quite over.  Late in the night Sam was
awaked by feeling something move upon his bed, and put its cold nose
upon his face. Thinking it was some one walking in his sleep, he called
out, "Who dah?" and putting out his hand, felt to his dismay the rough
head and shaggy skin of a bear.  Sam was a firm believer in ghosts, both
human and brute. He gave one groan, and cried out, "O massy!" expecting
the next moment to be overpowered, if not torn to pieces; then jumping
from bed in the greatest hurry, he hunted tremulously for some weapon of
defence, exclaiming all the while,

"Mas Harrol!  Mas Robbut!  O massy!  Here de ole bear, or else he ghost,
come after us."

The taper was brought from Mary’s room, and disclosed the secret.  One
of the cubs feeling in the chill, night air the want of its mother’s
warmth, had loosed the insecure fastening, and come to seek more
comfortable quarters in the tent.  "It is your countryman’s baby, Sam,"
said Robert, after the excitement had subsided. "You killed its mother,
and it has come, poor little orphan, to ask that you shall be its daddy
now."



                             CHAPTER XXXIII


THE CUBS--VOYAGE TO THE WRECK--STORES--HORRID SIGHTS--TRYING
PREDICAMENT--PRIZES--RETURN--FRANK NEEDS ANOTHER LECTURE


Early on Monday morning Robert and Harold set out for the wreck, leaving
Sam to guard the young people, and to add another apartment to the fold,
for the accommodation of the cubs.  It may be stated here, that the new
pets had eaten little or nothing since they were taken.  For several
days Sam was compelled to force the food and water into their mouths;
but after they had acquired the art of feeding in a domestic way, Frank
assumed their whole care, and was indefatigable in attending to their
wants and their education.  He taught them to stand on their hind feet
and beg; to make a bow by scraping their feet, like country clowns; and
many a wrestling match did he have with them, in which for a long time
he was invariably the victor.  Robert named them, after the twins of
old, Castor and Pollux.

By Sam’s advice, the boys took with them on their voyage an ax, hatchet,
auger, and saw, together with some candles and a rope, and reached the
wreck about nine o’clock.  They moored their raft fast to a projecting
bolt, and then, with much difficulty, succeeded in reaching the stern
windows, from which the receding tide flowed gently, bearing on its
bosom an unpleasant odour, like that of animal matter long decayed.
They peeped into the dark cavity, and receiving a full blast of its
sepulchral odours, drew back in disgust.

"I cannot go into _that_ hole," said Harold, "it is stifling.  Let us
cut a passage through the side or bottom."

Clambering along the sloping side next the rudder, they selected a place
for their scuttle, and commenced to work, but the thick and well
fastened copper was so difficult to remove, that their hatchet was
nearly ruined before they reached the wood.  Then, with their auger,
they made an entrance for the saw, and soon opened a hole between two of
the ribs, large enough to admit their bodies.

Harold descended first, and standing upon a hogshead, which, being on
the top of a confused pile, reached near the hole, lit a candle, and
helped Robert to descend.

They were in the hold where all the grosser articles were stowed.  Some
of the hogsheads visible appeared to contain sugar, others molasses,
rum, &c.  Passing towards the stern, they saw half a dozen boxes and
crates, of different sizes, one of which was filled with lemons, and
from the other, on being broken, rolled out a cocoanut.  Returning from
this hasty survey towards the forward part of the hold, they discovered
a plentiful supply of flour, ship-bread, rice, hams, and beef, stowed
away in the style appropriate to each.  The vessel was evidently
victualled for a long voyage.

Satisfied with this partial examination, they returned amidships, and
sought the hatchway, through which they might descend into the habitable
part of the vessel.  It was choked by such a multitude of boxes and
bags, that they were a long time in finding it, and longer still in
freeing it from encumbrances.  Descending by their rope, they found
themselves on the inner side of the inverted deck.  The water had by
this time all run off, except a puddle in one corner; and the floor, or
rather that which had been ceiling, was wet and slimy, with deposits
from the muddy river water.

On entering the cabin the sight which greeted them was horrid.  There
lay four skeletons, of a man and woman, a boy and girl, handsomely
dressed; the soiled though costly garments still adhering to the wet and
ghastly bones.  The sight was more than Harold could endure; he called
to Robert, and hastened as fast as possible to the open air.

"O, horrid! horrid!" said he, pale as a sheet.  "I don’t think I can
ever go back to that dreadful cabin. It made me almost faint."

"It was horrid, indeed," responded Robert.  "But you will soon recover;
the trouble was more in your mind than in your body.  I doubt not you
are feeling as father says he felt when going first into a dissecting
room--he fainted outright; and he said that this is no uncommon thing
with beginners, but they soon become used to it."

"I am willing enough to go through the whole vessel," said Harold, "but
not into that cabin, for a while at least."

"Poor creatures!" sighed Robert, "they appear to have been passengers;
and unless the cabin filled soon with water, they must have had a
lingering death."

"Don’t speak of it," Harold pleaded.  "The bare thought makes me
shudder.  And then to think of their being devoured by such slimy things
as eels and catfish, and of being pinched to pieces by crabs, as these
bodies were--it is sickening!"

Robert perceived that these reflections were exceedingly painful to his
cousin, and had been in fact the cause of his sickness; he therefore
managed adroitly to shift the conversation from point to point, until it
gradually assumed a cheerful character.  Pleasant thoughts were the
medicine Harold needed, and in the course of a few minutes he himself
proposed to renew the search.

Descending between decks, they found in the side of the vessel, contrary
to custom, the cook’s room.  It contained a stove, with all its
appurtenances complete.  This was a real treasure; they rejoiced to
think how much labour and trouble would be saved to Mary, whose patience
and ingenuity were often put to the test for the want of suitable
utensils.

The steward’s room adjoined; and here they found crockery of all sorts,
though most of it was in fragments; knives, forks, spoons, and
candlesticks, none of which they valued, having plenty of their own; two
bottles of olives, and a case of anchovies, sound and good, and a fine
set of castors, partly broken, containing mustard, pepper, catsup and
vinegar.  Upon the topmost shelf (or under what _had been_ the lowest)
were two large lockers, which they opened with difficulty, the door
being fast glued with paste, and out of which poured a deluge of musty
flour from an upturned barrel.  There were also different kinds of hard
biscuit and ship bread, but they were all spoiled.

From these two rooms they passed with great difficulty to the
forecastle, having to cut their way through a thick partition.  Here the
sight was more appalling than that which they had witnessed in the
cabin.  Lying on the floor, partly immersed in a muddy pool, were the
skeletons of eight men and two boys; and in the midst of them they heard
such a splashing of the water that their blood ran cold, and their hair
stood on end.  They started back in terror, thinking at first that the
dead had waked from sleep, and were moving before their eyes; in doing
so, Robert, who carried the candle, jostled roughly against Harold, and
instantly they were in darkness.

"O mercy! mercy!" Robert ejaculated, in an agony of alarm, and falling
upon his knees clasped his hands together, expecting every moment to be
his last.  Harold, however, with that presence of mind which is the mark
of true courage, and is the best preservative in time of danger, threw
his arms around him, to prevent him from escaping, and fortunately
recovered the candle, which had dropped in the edge of the wet slime
upon the floor.

"Nothing but fishes!" said he, divining the state of Robert’s mind from
what he knew of his own.  "Nothing but fishes!  I saw one leap from the
water.  Softly, Robert, let us light the candle."

The quieting effect of a soft, calm voice in a season of excitement is
magical.  Robert’s excessive fear subsided, and though he trembled
violently, he aided Harold to re-light the candle.  Fortunately the wick
was scarcely touched by the water; there was a slight spluttering from a
particle or two of damp mud, but the flame soon rose bright as ever.
Harold’s hand now began to tremble; for though in the moment of trial
his nerves had been stretched and steady as a tense wire, the re-action
was so great that he began to feel weak.  Robert perceived this, and
pulling his sleeve said,

"Come, let us go."

Harold’s courage, however, was of that sturdy kind that rises with the
occasion, and he replied, "No, I mean to go through with it now.  I was
driven from the cabin by a bad smell, but no one shall say that I was
scared off by a few catfish.  Look, do you not see them floundering in
the water?"

A calm inspection wholly relieved Robert from his fears, and he
continued to examine the room with composure, although while looking he
beheld the startling sight of a skeleton in actual motion through the
water, a large fish having entered its cavity, and become entangled in
the adhering clothes, giving a most lifelike motion to the arms and
legs.

A glance around this room was sufficient to convince them that the
vessel was of a warlike character.  Great numbers of guns, pistols,
cutlasses, and pikes, were visible on the floor, where they had fallen
into the water, or against the walls where they had been fastened.  The
boys surveyed these significant appendages, exchanged glances with each
other, and simultaneously exclaimed, "A cutter, or a pirate!"

"I doubt whether it can be a cutter," said Robert; "my mind misgives me
that it is a vessel of bad character.  But we can tell by going to the
captain’s room. Let us see."

They returned to the cabin, and entering the room which appeared to be
the captain’s, found it abundantly supplied with arms of various sorts,
and (though mostly injured by the sea-water) of exquisite finish.  Of
papers they saw none; these were probably contained in a heavy iron
chest which was fast locked, and the key of which was nowhere to be
found.  In the mate’s room, however, the evidences were more decisive.
There were flags of all nations; and among them one whose hue was jet
black, except in the middle, where were sewed the snow-white figures of
a skull and cross-bones.  From the side-pocket of a coat, which lay in
the berth, they took a pocket-book, containing letters in Spanish, and a
paper signed by forty-two names, the greater part of which were marked
by a cross.  These indications were satisfactory, and the boys
afterwards ascertained by circumstantial evidence, which left them no
shadow of a doubt, that not only was the vessel piratical, but that she
was overwhelmed by the same storm that had so nearly proved fatal to
Sam.  The prize, therefore, they considered their own by right of first
discovery--stores, arms, magazine, money and all.

"By rights there ought to be a carpenter’s room somewhere," said Robert;
"or if not a room, there must be tools, which will help us greatly in
our work.  Let us look for them."

To Harold’s mind the tools were the most valuable part of the prize,
unless indeed they could find a boat ready made.  But before proceeding,
they took each a pistol from the captain’s room, loaded, and thrust it
into their bosoms, supposing that they should be more calm and
self-possessed, when conscious of having about them the means of
defence.  The carpenter’s room was found, and in it a chest of splendid
tools, and an excellent grindstone.

With these discoveries the boys were content to think of returning home;
and now they began to feel hungry. Taking from the steward’s room the
bottle of olives and case of anchovies, and breaking open a barrel of
shipbread, from which they filled their pockets, they went to the open
air, taking each a lemon and cocoanut, in lieu of water and dessert.

It was time to load the raft.  Taking some small bags, of which they
found a number, they filled them with sugar, coffee, rice, and flour;
they brought out six hams, and, by opening a barrel, six pieces of
mess-beef.  In searching still further, they lit upon a barrel of
mackerel, a firkin of good butter, and a case of English cheese; of each
of which they took a portion, and laid all upon the most level part of
the vessel’s bottom, ready for lowering into the raft.  The kegs of
biscuit they found on trial to be too large to pass through their
scuttle; they emptied them by parcels into a large bag outside.

Hitherto they had said nothing and thought little about money; for their
minds had been fixed on supplying themselves with necessaries and
comforts, together with the means of returning home.  Indeed, the idea
of enriching themselves at the expense of the dead, even if they were
pirates, savoured rather of robbery, and the delicate sense of the young
explorers was offended by the thought.

"But let us at least gather whatever of this sort we may find," said
Harold, after exchanging thoughts with his cousin.  "We can afterwards
ask your father to decide what use shall be made of it."

Neither their consciences nor their pockets, however, were very heavily
burdened with this new charge; for they found only a few hundred
dollars’ worth of money, chiefly in foreign gold, together with several
rich jewels, the greater part of which was discovered in consequence of
an act of kindness to Mary and Frank.

Resolving to return the next day, accompanied by the whole party, and
unwilling to have Mary’s nerves shocked as theirs had been, they
determined to remove all unsightly objects from the cabin, and to close
them up in the forecastle.  A box of sperm candles enabled them to set a
light along the dark passages, and in each room; and taking a small
sail, upon which they carefully drew the skeletons, they carried them to
the forecastle, and laid them decently in one corner.  From the person
of the man they took a gold watch and chain, a handsome pencil case, and
pocket-knife, a purse containing several pieces of gold, and a
pocket-book, containing papers, written apparently in Spanish, but
almost perfectly illegible.  The name of this man, marked upon the
clothing, and occasionally appearing in the papers, was Manuel De Rosa.
Upon the person of the lady were found a diamond ring, hanging loosely
upon the slender bone of one finger, and on the lace cape over her bosom
a sprig breast-pin, whose leaves were emerald, and its flower of opal.
Her name, and that of the children also, was De Rosa.  These valuables
were collected into a parcel, together with a lock of hair from each, as
the means of identifying them, should any clue be obtained to their
history and their home.

While removing a coarsely clothed skeleton from that corner of the
forecastle in which they wished to deposit the bones of the perished
family, they found it so much heavier than the others, as to induce a
closer examination.  They found hid beneath the clothing, and belted to
the bones, a large girdle, containing fifty-four Mexican dollars, a
variety of gold pieces from different nations, and a lump of what
appeared to be gold and silver fused into one mass.  The name of this
man could not be ascertained.

Their next work was to fumigate the cabin.  They wrapped a little sugar
in a piece of brown paper, and setting it on fire, walked around the
room, waving it in every direction.  The aromatic odour of the burnt
sugar pervaded every crack and cranny, and overwhelmed so entirely the
disgusting effluvium, that Robert snuffed at the pleasant fragrance, and
remarked, "There, now! the cabin is fit for the nose of a king.  Let us
close up the forecastle, and return home."

Beside the provisions, which have been already mentioned as constituting
a part of the intended load for the raft, the boys carried out such
tools as they conceived needful for their work, consisting of adzes,
drawing-knives, augers, gimlets, chisels, planes, saws, square and
compass, and an oil-stone.  They also took the box of sperm candles and
a box of soap; three cutlasses and a rapier, four pikes, four pair of
pistols, three rifles, two muskets, and flasks and pouches to suit.
Gunpowder they did not see, except what was in the flasks; they knew
there must be plenty in the magazine, which they supposed to be near the
officers’ rooms, but which they did not care then to visit.

A short but laborious tug against the tide, that set strongly up the
creek, brought them to the river, on which they floated gently home.
When within half a mile of the landing, they fired a gun, as a signal of
their approach; and long before they reached the shore, Mary and Frank
were seen running to meet them, with Mum and Fidelle scampering before,
and Sam hobbling far in the rear.

"Here, Frank, is your Christmas present," said Robert, when the raft
touched land; "and here, Sam, is yours, at least so long as we stay upon
the island."

He tossed the one a cocoanut, and handed the other a musket and cutlass.
Harold’s presents were still more acceptable; he gave Frank a nice
pocket-knife, somewhat the worse for rust, and gave Sam a large twist of
tobacco.

Frank’s eyes twinkled with pleasure at the sight of the knife; but Sam’s
expression of countenance was really ludicrous.  He was a great chewer
and smoker of tobacco, and the sight of that big black twist, after so
long a privation, brought the tears to his eyes.  He scraped his foot,
and tried to laugh.

"Tankee, Mas Robbut!  Tousand tankee to you, Mas Harrol!  Sword, gun,
tobacky!  I-ee!  I feel like I kin fight all de bear and panter in de
wull!"

As the work of unloading and transporting to the tent occupied only
about two hours, they had time sufficient, before dark, to construct
another and a larger raft.  There was a poplar, fallen and dry, near the
water’s edge; this they cut into suitable lengths, and across the long
logs they laid a floor of short ones, so that they doubted not being
able at their next load to bring from the wreck all that they wished.



                             CHAPTER XXXIV


SECOND VOYAGE TO THE WRECK--FUMIGATING AGAIN--MORE MINUTE
EXAMINATION--RETURN--ACCIDENT--DANGERS OF HELPING A DROWNING
PERSON--RECOVERING A PERSON APPARENTLY DROWNED


Next morning our young marooners endeavoured to make as early a start as
on the day before; but there being now more persons to go, each of whom
had some preparation to make; and besides that, encumbered by another
clumsy float of logs, their arrival at the wreck was fully an hour
later.  Securing the two rafts to the vessel’s side, Robert and Harold
clambered to the hole they had cut, by the help of a rope tied there for
the purpose; then making a slipknot at the end, they drew up Sam, Frank,
and finally, Mary.  The new comers were so anxious to enter the vessel
that they could scarcely wait for the lighting of a candle, but slid at
once into the hold, and began rummaging by means of the imperfect light
transmitted through the scuttle.

The examination of the hold on the day before had been so thorough, that
few more discoveries of importance remained to be made; and the new
comers, burning with curiosity, begged to be conducted to the rooms
below.  Entering the cabin, Mary and Frank were repelled by the
unpleasant odour that, notwithstanding the former fumigation, still
continued; but the smell was on this occasion mingled more with that of
mud, and Robert managed by a quick allusion to the river slime, and the
nauseous odour of the mangroves, to prevent Mary’s suspicion of the real
cause.

"We burnt some sugar here, on yesterday," said he, "but the tide has
been up since, and we shall have to burn more.  Or stay--we can try
something else.  I recollect hearing father say that burning coffee is
one of the best fumigators in the world."

He brought some coffee from the hold, and wrapping it in paper, tried to
burn it, as he did the sugar; but it was not so easily ignited; and
Mary, in her impatience, took some sugar, and setting it on fire while
he was experimenting with the damp coffee, so thoroughly impregnated the
room with its fragrant fumes, that they were ready to begin their
examination.

The first thing they noticed on entering the cabin, was a handsome sofa
and set of chairs.  Overhead, screwed fast to what had been the floor,
was an extension table, capable of seating from four to twelve persons.
Mary clapped her hands at this welcome sight, exclaiming:

"O, now we can sit and eat like decent people again!"

To their right was a little room, with its door open. On entering it,
they saw a boy’s cap and pair of shoes. Frank pounced upon these, and
tried them on, with several merry jests, to which the others made no
reply, for the larger boys thought immediately of the little skeleton to
which these had belonged.  A trunk was there too, perched upon the
upturned bottom of what had been the lowest berth, containing the usual
wardrobe of the boy; and beside it, the trunk and carpet bag of the
girl.  These last were locked.  On forcing them open, Mary found many of
the articles in a state of perfect preservation; though the linen and
cotton were sadly mildewed, and almost spoiled.  She saw at a glance
that the silk dresses, and other parts of attire, were nearly all the
same size with her own.  But though greatly in need of clothing, and
fitted almost exactly in what she found, she manifested more sadness
than pleasure at the sight; her mind reverted irresistibly to the former
wearer, who was no doubt as fond of life as herself.

"Poor thing!" she said, as tears came into her eyes, after turning over
several articles, "and her name was Mary, too.  See here, ’Marie De
Rosa,’ written so neatly on this white handkerchief.  What a beautiful
name! I wish I knew her."

Fastened to the wall was a neat looking-glass, and beside it a handsome
hair-brush, hung by a blue ribbon to a small brass knob; but the water
had dissolved the glue, and the rosewood veneering had separated from
the brush.  On the floor were two ivory combs, and the fragments of
pitcher, bason, and tumblers, lying with the towels.  In the berths were
two hair mattresses, whose ticking was mouldy and mildewed, but they
were otherwise good; and in each, with the damp sheets, was a pair of
blankets as good as new.

Next to this room was another, whose door was jammed and swollen tight.
Forcing it open, they found two trunks and travelling bags, with various
articles of male and female attire--a hat and pair of boots, a bonnet
and rich shawl, the little boy’s boots and best cap, and the girl’s
parasol and cloak; new evidences these, to the boys, to prove that the
four skeletons belonged to one family.  There were also several books,
but they were in Spanish, and so perfectly soaked and blackened as to be
useless, even had they been in their own language. The De Rosas were
evidently a family of wealth and education.

The other rooms were furnished with the usual appendages of warlike men,
and beside these there was little else to tell who or what they were.
Their papers and valuables were probably locked up in the iron chest, or
left behind where they had concealed their treasures.

Passing from the cabin, their attention was arrested at the door by a
small closet under the companion-way. Harold stood upon a stool and
examined it.  There were silver cups, of various figures, a basket of
champagne wine, and many bottles and decanters, or rather their
fragments, which appeared to have held different kinds of liquors.

"Bah!" said Harold, "liquor in the hold--liquor in the rooms--liquor in
the closets--there is more liquor than anything else aboard, except guns
and pistols."

"They naturally go together," responded Robert.  "I suspect the poor
fellows needed the liquor to fit them for their wicked works."

From the cabin they went to the carpenter’s room. Sam decided in a
moment that he must have the grindstone, and the rest of the tools--they
were too good to be lost.  He also looked wistfully at the work-bench,
with the iron vice attached, and said he thought they could force it
from the wall, and float it behind the rafts.  But the boys mistrusted
his partiality for tools, and decided that it was not so important as
some other things.

Next to the carpenter’s room was another, into which they forced an
entrance with the ax.  This was the gunner’s.  Here they found
cartridges in abundance, of all sorts and sizes, bomb-shells, clusters
of grape-shot, canisters of balls, a profusion of cannon shot of several
sizes, and two small cannons of brass, with balls to suit. There were
also several large kegs of powder, but the powder appeared to be spoilt,
for the kegs were damp.

When the time came to prepare for loading, the boys united with Sam to
enlarge the scuttle.  They put upon one raft a keg of rice, and another
of flour, the firkin of butter, two cheeses, six loaves of sugar, the
grindstone, the chest of tools, Sam’s box of tobacco, and more of the
hams and beef.  On the other, they put the extension-table and leaves,
six chairs, the sofa, the trunks of the De Rosas, five mattresses, with
their clothing, the looking-glass, &c.

The return voyage was made in all safety until they reached the landing;
but there occurred one of those misadventures that appear to come
oftenest in seasons of greatest security.

As the rafts neared the shore, Sam hobbled to the hindmost end, to look
after his darling tobacco, and having for some reason stooped as one
raft struck the other in stopping, he lost his balance, and fell
headlong into the water.  No one knew of the accident, until hearing a
great splutter, they looked around, and saw him blowing the water from
his nose and mouth, and wearing a most comical expression of surprise
and fear. They ran, of course, to his assistance, but knowing him to be
a good swimmer, they apprehended no serious consequences, and were
rather disposed to jest than to be alarmed.  But Sam, who had been
already strangling for a quarter of a minute, so as to be unable to
utter a word, and who discerned at a glance that they did not apprehend
his situation, stretched out his hand imploringly, and gasped.

"He is drowning!" exclaimed Harold.  "Here, Robert, help me!" then ran
to obtain something buoyant, to which Sam might cling.  When he
returned, bringing with him a pair of oars (the nearest thing within
reach), he saw his cousin, heedless of danger, and moved only by
sympathy, swimming just over the place where Sam had sunk.

"Robert!  Robert!  COME AWAY!" he called in a voice of thunder; "he is
too strong for you, and will drown you!"

Robert turned at this earnest and even imperative call, and began to
swim back; but it was too late.  Sam rose within reach, grasped his arm,
drew him up close, pinioned him firmly, and again sunk out of sight.
Mary and Frank shrieked as they saw their brother go down, and Harold
stood a moment, with clasped hands, exclaiming, "My God!  What shall I
do?"

At this moment an idea occurred to him.  Calling to Mary, "Bring me that
hat" (it was De Rosa’s, and water-proof), he threw off his coat and
vest, then spreading his handkerchief over the mouth of the hat, so that
he could grasp the corners under the crown, he plunged into the water,
swimming with one hand, and holding the hat as a temporary life
preserver with the other.  As he expected, Robert rose to the surface
and grasped him. Harold did nothing at first but hold firmly to the hat
to prevent his own sinking, and in that short interval Robert recovered
sufficiently to know what he was about.

"Thank God for _you_, Robert!" said Harold.  "I was afraid you were
gone; here, take the hat and swim to the raft, while I dive after Sam.
Has he ceased struggling?"  Robert replied, "Yes."

Joining his hands high over his head, Harold rose as far as he could
from the water, and sank perpendicularly with his feet close together.
He succeeded in finding the body, but not in time to seize it, before he
was compelled to rise for the want of breath.  He came to the surface,
panted for a quarter of a minute, then descended a second time, and rose
with the body. Robert reached him one of the oars, dragged him to the
raft, and then to the shore.

And now what was to be done?  Robert knew well that when a person has
been under water four minutes and more it is exceedingly difficult to
restore life, and that whosoever would render aid must do it quickly.
His preparations were few and simple.

Begging Mary and Frank to make a fire as soon as possible, and to heat
one of the blankets, he laid the body with the head lowest, to allow the
water to run from the mouth and throat, while he hastily unloosed the
clothing.  Then laying the body with the head highest, as in sleep, he
and Harold rubbed the skin with all their might, for the double purpose
of removing the moisture and restoring the heat.

This friction was continued for several minutes, when Robert, requesting
Harold to keep on, tried another means.  He inserted a reed into one of
Sam’s nostrils, which he pressed tightly around it, and closing also the
other nostril and the mouth to prevent the egress of the air, he blew
forcibly until he felt the chest rise, when, by a gentle pressure, he
expelled the air as in natural respiration.

By this time Mary and Frank had warmed one of the blankets brought from
the vessel.  This Robert wrapped closely around the body, and while Mary
and Frank were engaged in warming still another, Harold greatly
increased the effectiveness of his friction by tearing a third blanket
into strips, and using the hot pieces as rubbers.

Persisting for an hour in these simple means, the anxious company were
at last rewarded by the signs of returning life.  Sam’s heart began to
beat softly, and shortly after he gave a sigh.  The boys were nearly
exhausted by their protracted efforts, but still they kept on; and it
was well they did, for many a person has been lost by neglect after life
seemed to have been restored. When the patient was sufficiently
recovered to swallow, Robert poured down his throat some warm water and
sugar, remarking it was a pity they had brought none of the wines or
spirits which were so abundant on shipboard.

"There is some in the box of tobacco," observed Frank.  "I saw Sam put a
bottle there; and when I asked him what it was, he said it was rum to
rub on his weak leg."

Robert and Harold exchanged a significant smile; for though Sam might
have intended only what he professed, they knew that he loved rum as
well as tobacco.  It was fortunate, however, that the spirits were
there, for it was the best stimulant they could administer.  Sam soon
opened his eyes, and began to speak.  His first words, after looking
around, were, "Bless de Lord! Poor Sam here again!"

Leaving him now to recover slowly, the boys brought each a chair from
the raft, and sat down to rest.

"Why, Robert," said Harold, "you seem to know by heart the whole rule
for restoring a drowned person."

"And why not?  There is nothing mysterious in it?"

"So it seems, and I wish you would teach it to me."

"I can do that in half a breath," replied Robert. "In father’s words,
all that you have to do, is to _restore the warmth and excite the
respiration_."

"That, certainly, is simple."

"Father always said," continued Robert, "that he did not see why boys
should not all be taught how to help one another on such occasions.
’Send for a doctor,’ he said to me, ’but don’t wait for him.  Go to work
at once before life is gone.  If you can do nothing else strip off the
wet clothes, and rub, rub, RUB, and blow into the lungs.  Start the
breath, and you will start the blood, or start the blood, and that will
start the breath, for each comes with the other.  Apply heat
inwardly--outwardly by friction, by clothing, by fire, by hot bottles,
by sand-bags, by any means, and keep trying for hours.’  That is the
rule."

"A good one it is," said Harold.  "But it is a pity your father did not
give you some rule also about keeping out of the way of drowning people
so that you might put your knowledge to some use, instead of getting
drowned yourself."

"He did," replied Robert, laughing, "but I forgot it.  It was
exceedingly thoughtless in me to do as I did.  However, I tried to make
up for it in another way; for after Sam had pinioned my arms, I made no
effort whatever, except to take a long breath, and retain my presence of
mind.  When we were going down, I learned exactly what kind of a grip he
had taken, and by the time we reached bottom, I had drawn up my knees,
and put my feet against the pit of his stomach.  When that was done I
felt safe, for I knew that my legs were stronger than his arms, and that
I could break his hold. But what did you intend to do when you called me
to help you?"

"I had no exact plan," Harold answered, "except to keep you from putting
yourself in danger, and then to throw or reach Sam something by which to
help himself.  I had seen drowning people before, and knew very well
that unless you had something to prevent your own sinking, as I had when
you seized me, or unless you were strong enough (as in this case you
were not) to hold him at arm’s length, he would be almost sure to drown
you."

This untoward accident delayed the work of transportation until near
dark, and then it was only the lighter and more necessary articles that
they carried. Sam gradually recovered, and about dusk, supported by the
boys, he staggered slowly to the tent.



                              CHAPTER XXXV


HOUSEHOLD ARRANGEMENTS--THIRD VISIT TO THE WRECK--RAINY
WEATHER--AGREEMENT ABOUT WORK--MARY IN GREAT DANGER--EXTINGUISHING FIRE
ON ONE’S DRESS--RELIEF TO A BURN--CONVERSATION


They did not return to the vessel the next day. The work of transporting
the many heavy articles brought, and of giving them accommodation,
occupied the whole day.  Indeed, the work of arranging was by no means
easy, for their possessions were now too large for their dwelling.  They
were therefore compelled to make a new room for Sam and his tools, by
means of some spare sails brought from the wreck; and this led them to
think of erecting still another wing to the tent, as a place of deposit
for their stores of provision.

By Thursday the return tide came at so late an hour in the afternoon,
that the boys were loth to go upon the third trip; but there were
several other articles of importance that they needed, and intending to
make a short visit, they did not start until near mid-day.  On entering
the vessel their first work was to remove the stove; which being quite
new and recently put up, they had no difficulty in taking to pieces, and
lowering, with its appurtenances, into the raft.  The work-bench they
detached, with great labour, from the wall, and tumbled it over the
vessel’s side.  From the carpenter’s room they carried several sails,
two coils of small rope, and a hank of twine.  The magazine they did not
care to enter.  Most of the powder in the gunner’s room was wet, but
there were two large kegs of cannon powder, the outside of which was
caked and ruined, while the central part was perfectly good, and also a
five pound canister of superfine rifle powder, which was so tightly
sealed that not a particle of damp had entered.  These they took.  And
dragging out one of the small cannon they managed, after hard work, to
lower it, with its appropriate carriage, into the raft, and deposited
along with it several dozen balls, and as many canisters to fit the
bore.  These, together with the trunks and clothing of the officers, the
iron vice, a small kit of mackerel, and the box of cocoanuts,
constituted their load.  The voyage back was made without accident.

On landing, their first business was to shelter their powder, for the
sky was clouding fast, with long blue belts, that promised rain before
morning, and the night was rapidly coming on.  Unwilling to keep so
dangerous a quantity of powder in the tent, they divided it into several
parcels, and concealed them in hollow trees, which they closed and
marked.

The cannon carriage proved a great convenience in transporting the
trunks, the disjointed parts of the stove, and other heavy articles to
the tent.  But even with this assistance they did not complete their
work before the night set in.

The next day was wet--wet--wet.  The young people continued within
doors, made a particular examination of the trunks, and divided among
themselves the articles that were serviceable.  With these employments,
and the fitting up of their stove, they spent all that day, and part of
the next.

It was during that evening, as they sat listening to the incessant
patter of the rain upon the canvas roof, that the boys conceived and
resolved upon a species of competition, that gave a steady progression
to their work from that time forward.

"Tomorrow is New Year’s Day," observed Harold. "We have been two months
and a half upon the island. Our first boat is not a quarter finished.
Why, Robert, it will be six months before we get away by our own
exertions; and then your father will have left Bellevue."

"But you forget how many interruptions we have had," replied Robert.
"First, there was Sam’s misfortune, then yours; after that, our removal
to the prairie, and securing the tent; then this discovery of the wreck,
which has furnished us with food and tools for continuing our work
without interruption.  If I am not mistaken, the end of January will see
us at Bellevue, or on our way there.  What do you think, Sam--can we
finish our two boats in a month?"

"May be so, massa, if we work mighty hard; but it will take a heap o’
work."

"I doubt if we finish them in two months, work as we may," remarked
Harold.

Robert was not pleased with this discouraging assertion, though he was
startled to find that the usual prudent Harold entertained such an
opinion.

"Now, cousin," said he, "I will put this matter to the test.  As we boys
used to say, I’ll make a bargain with you.  We shall all work on the
second boat, until it is as far advanced as the present one.  Then we
shall each take a boat and work.  Sam shall divide his time between us.
And if at the end of a month we are not ready to return home, I’ll give
up that I am mistaken."

"Give me your hand to that bargain," said Harold. "You shall not beat me
working, if I can help it; but if, with all our efforts, we leave this
island before the last day of February, I will give up that _I_ am
mistaken."

Faithful to this agreement, the boys went next morning to the landing,
and brought the various parts of the work-bench, which they aided Sam in
fitting up. The grindstone also they set upon its necessary fixtures;
and collecting the various tools that were in need of grinding, they
persisted in relieving each other at the crank, until they had sharpened
two very dull axes, two adzes, three chisels, a broad ax, and a drawing
knife, and stowed them safely under Sam’s shelter.

The history of the day, however, was not concluded without an incident
of a very serious character, in which Mary was the principal, though
unwilling actress; and in which, but for her presence of mind, she would
have met with a painful and terrible death.

About ten o’clock that night she retired to her room, undressed, and was
laying aside the articles of dress necessary for the next morning, when,
turning around, her night clothes touched the flame of the candle,
which, for the want of a table, she had set upon the floor.  The next
instant she extinguished the candle, and was about stepping into bed,
when her attention was excited by a dim light shining behind her, and a
slight roar, that increased as the flame ran up her back.  Giving a
scream of terror, she was on the point of rushing into the next room for
help, when recollecting the repeated and earnest injunctions of her
father, she threw herself flat upon the blanket of the bed, and wrapping
it tightly round her, rolled over and over upon the floor, calling for
help. The flame was almost instantly quenched, as it probably would have
been, even without a blanket, had she only sat down instantly on the
floor, and folded the other part of her dress tightly over the flame.[#]


[#] _Flame ascends_.  All have observed how much more rapidly it
consumes a sheet of paper held with the burning end down, than the same
sheet laid on the table.  So with a female’s dress; an erect posture
allows the flame to run almost instantly over the whole person.


But though the _flame_ was extinguished, the charred ends of the dress
were not; they kept on burning, and coming into contact with the naked
skin, made her scream with pain.  The agony was so great, that again she
was almost tempted to throw off the blanket and rush into the open air,
but knowing that this would certainly increase the fire, and perhaps
renew the blaze, she drew the blanket more tightly around her, and
rolled over, calling to Robert, who had by this time come to her
assistance.  "Pour on water--_water_--WATER!"  Robert did his best--he
fumbled about for the pitcher, then finding it, asked where the water
was to be poured; but now that the water was ready to be thrown upon
her, Mary felt secure; she cast off the blanket, and the remaining fire
was put out by the application of Robert’s wet hand.

The time occupied by this terrifying scene was scarcely a minute and a
half, yet Mary’s night dress was consumed nearly to her shoulders, and
her lower limbs were badly scorched.  So rapid an agent is fire.
Whoever would escape destruction from a burning dress, must work fast,
with good judgment and a strong resolution.

Mary’s burns were slight in comparison with what they might have been.
The skin was reddened for a foot or more along each limb; but it was
broken only in two places, about as wide and long as her two fingers.
Still the pain was excessive, and she wept and groaned a great deal.
Robert applied cold water for a number of minutes, and would have
continued it longer, but Mary at last said:

"Bring me a cup full of flour.  I have tried it on a burnt finger, and
you can scarcely imagine how cooling it is."

The flour was brought, and applied by means of handkerchiefs tied over
the raw and blistered parts. Its effect was to form a sort of artificial
cuticle over those spots where the skin had been removed; and the soft
and cool sensation it produced in the other parts was delightful.  Still
Mary appeared to suffer so much, that Robert administered an opiate, as
he did in the case of Sam, and after that he heard no more from her
until next morning.

"What a quick, brave girl she is!" said Harold, after Robert had
described the scene.  "Most girls would have rushed into the open air,
and been burned to death."

"She showed great presence of mind," Robert assented.

"More than that," said Harold, "she showed great _resolution_.  I knew a
beautiful girl at school, who had presence of mind enough to wrap
herself in the hearth rug, but who could not stand the pain of the fire;
she threw off the rug, rushed into the open air, screaming for help, and
was burnt to death in less than two minutes."

When Mary came from her room next morning her eyes were dull and glassy,
from the effects of the medicine, and she had no appetite for more than
a cup of coffee.  The others met her with more than their usual
affection.  Her accident had revealed to them how much they loved her;
and her coolness in danger, and fortitude in suffering, had given them a
greater respect for her character.

"We do sincerely thank God, on your account, cousin," said Harold, as
soon as they were left alone that Sabbath morning.  "It is so seldom a
person meets with such an accident, without being seriously injured."

"I hope I feel thankful, too," returned Mary.  "I could not help
thinking last night, before going to sleep, how uncertain life is.  O, I
do wish I were a Christian, as I believe you to be, cousin."

"Indeed, if I am a Christian at all, I wish you were a far better one,"
he replied.  "I have neither felt nor acted as I desired, or supposed I
should."

"But still you feel and act very differently from us."

"My feelings are certainly very different from what they used to be, and
I thank God that they are.  Yet the only particular thing which I
recollect of myself, at the time that I began to feel differently, is
that I was troubled on account of my past life, and wished heartily to
serve God.  To judge from myself, then, I should say that to _desire to
serve God_, is to be a Christian."

"O, I do desire," said Mary, weeping.  "I do, with all my heart.  But I
know I am not what I ought to be.  I do not love God; I do not trust
him; I do not feel troubled for sin, as I ought to be; and I have no
reason to think that my sins are forgiven."

"I am a poor preacher, Mary," Harold said, with strong emotion; "for I
never knew anything of these feelings myself, until lately.  But this I
can say, that if you will heartily give yourself to God, to be his
servant for ever, and put your trust in his promises, you will be
accepted.  Did not Jesus Christ come into this world to save sinners,
even the chief?  Does he not say, ’Him that cometh to me, I will in
nowise cast out’? Now what does the Bible mean, but to encourage all who
feel as you do?"

Mary did not reply; the tears burst through her fingers, and dropped
into her lap.  Harold continued,

"Ever since we came to the island I felt as you feel, until the Sabbath
when I knelt down in the woods, and gave myself to the Lord.  My heart
was very heavy; I knew that I was a sinner needing forgiveness, and that
I had nothing that I could offer as pay; but I read where God offers
salvation ’without money and without price,’ and again where he says we
must ’believe on him.’  Well, after all that, I could not help
believing; it was sweet to pray--sweet to think of God--sweet to read
the Bible--sweet to do whatever was pleasing to Him.  I hope it will be
so always; and I long for the time when I can return to Bellevue to talk
with your father about these things.  Now, cousin, I advise you to try
the same plan."

He marked several passages of Scripture for her to read; then walked
into the woods, where he prayed that the Lord would direct her, so as to
find peace by believing in Jesus Christ.



                             CHAPTER XXXVI


SUCCESSFUL WORK--EXCURSION--THE FISH-EAGLE--DIFFERENT METHODS OF
PROCURING FIRE--WOODSMAN’S SHELTER AGAINST RAIN AND HAIL--NOVEL REFUGE
FROM FALLING TREES


Monday morning found the labourers moving at the dawn of day.  Sam was
cook, and fulfilled his office with unexpected ability.  His corn-bread
was delightful; no one but a negro knows how to make it.

The tools were in excellent order, and the boys commenced work in fine
spirits.  At Harold’s suggestion they resolved to work very leisurely
that day and the next, as being the surest way to attain expedition in
the end.  Said he,

"My father was a great manager of horses, and sometimes made tremendous
journeys.  But his rule was always to begin a long journey very
moderately.  He used to say, ’If you strain a horse at the first, he
will move heavily all the way through, but if you spare him at first, he
will become gradually accustomed to the strain, and be able to push on
faster at the end than at the beginning of the journey!’  Now, as we are
the horses, I think we had better make very moderate journeys today and
tomorrow."

Robert was much pleased with the rule.  Notwithstanding his boast, he
had shuddered at the idea of blistered hands and weary limbs; but this
plan enabled him to anticipate fresh feelings, and even increasing
labour, so long as they chose to work.

In the course of four days the second tree was cut, hewed, and excavated
to the exact shape and size of the first.  They then drew for choices,
and separated, each working on his own boat, within hearing of the
other’s ax and mallet.  One reason, perhaps, of the increased rapidity
of their work, was a lesson which they learned of employing every moment
to advantage, and of resting themselves by a mere change of work.  For
instance, when weary of the adze they would resort to the mallet and
chisel, the auger, ax, or drawing-knife, and this was to some extent a
real rest, for fresh muscles were brought into play while the wearied
ones were relieved.

By Friday, however, their whole bodies began to feel the effects of
fatigue; and Harold proposed, that for that day their arms should be
entirely relieved from labour, and that they should search the woods for
timber suitable for masts, yards, and oars.  They, therefore, took their
guns and hatchets, and went first to the orange landing, where they saw
their old raft lying as they had left it exactly a month before.
Passing thence to the place which they had dubbed "Duck Point," they
proceeded along the beach towards their old encampment, and thence home.
This was their route; but it was marked by such a variety of useful
expedients, that we must stop to describe them.

While Robert was engaged for a few minutes in searching a little grove,
Harold saw a fish eagle plunge into the water, and bring out a trout so
large that it could scarcely fly with it to the shore.  Harold was
hungry; his appetite at breakfast had not allowed him to eat at all.
Now it began to crave, and the sight of that rich looking fish whetted
it, keenly.  He ran towards the eagle, crying out,

"I’ll divide with you, old gentleman, if you please; that is too much
for one."

The eagle, however, appeared to dissent from the proposal, and tried
hard to carry its prey into a tree, but apprehensive of being itself
caught before it could rise beyond reach, it dropped the fish, and
flying to a neighbouring tree, watched patiently to see what share its
human robber was disposed to leave.

A fish is easily enough cooked, if a person has fire; but in this case
there was none, and what was worse, no apparent means of producing it,
for their matches were left behind, and the wadding of their guns was
not of a kind to receive and hold fire from the powder.

"Lend me your watch a minute," said Robert, on learning what was wanted.
"It is possible that I may obtain from it what you wish."

Had Robert spoken of some chemical combination for producing fire, by
mixing sand and sea-water, Harold could scarcely have been more
surprised than by the proposal to obtain fire from his watch.  He handed
it to his cousin with the simple remark, "Please don’t hurt it," and
looked on with curiosity.  Robert examined the convex surface of the
crystal, which being old fashioned, was almost the section of a sphere,
and said,

"I think it will do."

Then obtaining some dry, rotten wood from a decayed tree, he filled the
hollow part of the crystal with water, and setting it upon a support,
for the purpose of keeping the water perfectly steady, showed Harold
that the rays of the sun passing through this temporary lens, were
concentrated as by a sun-glass.  The tinder smoked, and seemed almost
ready to ignite, but did not quite--the sun’s rays were too much aslant
at that hour of the day, and the sky was moreover covered with a thin
film of mist.

"It is a failure," said he, "but still there is another plan which I
have seen adopted--a spark of fire _squeezed from the air_ by suddenly
compressing it in a syringe. If we had a dry reed, the size of this gun
barrel, I would try it by using a tight plug of gun wadding as a
piston."

But Robert had no opportunity for trying his philosophical experiment,
and being mortified by a second disappointment, as he probably would
have been, from the rudeness of the contrivance; for Harold’s voice was
soon heard from the bank above, "I have it now!" and when Robert
approached he saw in his hand a white flint arrowhead.  With this old
Indian relic he showered a plentiful supply of sparks upon the dry
touch-wood, until a rising smoke proclaimed that the fire had taken.

During the time occupied by these experiments, and the subsequent
cookery, the thin mist in the sky had given place to several dark
rolling clouds, which promised ere long to give them a shower.  The
promise was kept; for the boys had not proceeded half a mile before the
rain poured down in torrents.  As there was no lightning, they sought
the shelter of a mossy tree, and for a season were so well protected
that they could not but admire their good fortune.  But their admiration
did not last long; the rain soaked through the dense masses over head,
and fell in heavy drops upon their caps and shoulders.

"This will never do," cried Harold.  "Come with me, Robert, and I will
provide a shelter that we can trust."

Putting upon their heads a thick covering of moss, which hung like a
cape as far down as their elbows, they ran to a fallen pine, and
loosened several pieces of its bark, as long and broad as they could
detach, then placing them upon their heads above the moss, marched back
to the tree, and had the pleasure of seeing the rain drip from their
bark shelters as from the eaves of a house.  Robert was much pleased
with the expedient, and remarked,

"I suppose this is another of old Torgah’s notions."

"O, no," replied Harold.  "I have frequently seen it used by negroes in
the field, and by hunters in the woods.  But there is another device of
a similar kind, which I will leave you to guess.  I was riding once with
a rough backwoodsman across one of our Alabama prairies, when we were
overtaken by a severe hail-storm, that gave us an unmerciful pelting.
Now, how do you suppose he protected himself against the hailstones?"

"Got under his horse," conjectured Robert.  "I once saw a person
sheltering himself under his wagon."

"He took the _saddle_ from his horse, and placed it upon his head.  For
my own part, I preferred the pelting of the stones to the smell of the
saddle."

The rain ceasing shortly after, they continued their walk to the old
encampment, which they visited for the purpose of ascertaining whether
there were any other signs of visitors.  Everything was just as they had
left it, except that it had assumed a desolate and weather-beaten
aspect.  Their flag was flying, and the paper, though wet, adhering to
the staff.  At sea the weather looked foul, and the surf was rolling
angrily upon the shore.  Resting themselves upon the root of the noble
old oak, and visiting the spring for a drink of cool water, they once
more turned their faces to the prairie.

Whoever will travel extensively through our pine barrens, will see
tracts, varying in extent from a quarter of an acre to many hundreds of
acres, destroyed by the attacks of a worm.  The path from the old
encampment led through a "deadening," as it is called, of this sort; in
which the trees, having been attacked some years before, were many of
them prostrate, and others standing only by sufferance of the winds.  By
the time our travellers reached the middle of this dangerous tract, a
sudden squall came up from sea, and roared through the forest at a
terrible rate.  They heard it from afar, and saw the distant limbs
bending, breaking, and interlocking, while all around them was a
wilderness of slender, brittle trunks, from which they had not time to
escape.  Their situation was appalling.  Death seemed almost inevitable.
But just as the crash commenced among the pines, a brilliant idea
occurred to the mind of Robert.

"Here, Harold!" said he.  "Run! run! run!"

Suiting the action to the word, he threw himself flat beside a large
sound log that lay _across the course of the wind_, and crouched closely
beside its curvature; almost too closely, as he afterwards discovered.
Hardly had Harold time to follow his example, before an enormous tree
cracked, crashed, and came with a horrible roar, directly over the place
where they lay.  The log by the side of which they had taken refuge, was
buried several inches in the ground; and when Robert tried to move, he
found that his coat had been caught by a projecting knot, and partly
buried.  The tree which fell was broken into four parts; two of them
resting with their fractured ends butting each other on the log, while
their other ends rested at ten or twelve feet distance upon the earth.
For five minutes the winds roared, and the trees crashed around them;
and then the squall subsided as quickly as it had arisen.

"That was awful," said Robert, rising and looking at the enormous tree,
from whose crushing fall they had been so happily protected.

"It was, indeed," Harold responded; "and we owe our lives, under God, to
that happy thought of yours. Where did you obtain it?"

Robert pointed to the other end of the log, and said, "There."  A small
tree had fallen across it, and was broken, as the larger one had been.
"I saw that," said he, "just as the wind began to crash among these
pines, and thought that if we laid ourselves where we did, we should be
safe from everything, except straggling limbs, or flying splinters."

"Really," said Harold, "at this rate you are likely to beat me in my own
province.  I wonder I never thought of this plan before."

"I had an adventure somewhat like this last year, only not a quarter so
bad," said Robert.  "I was fishing with Frank, on a small stream, when a
whirlwind came roaring along, with such force as to break off limbs from
several of the trees.  Afraid that we, and particularly Frank, who was
light, might be taken up and carried away, or else dashed against a tree
and seriously hurt, I made him grasp a sapling, by putting around it
both arms and legs, while I threw my own arms around him and it
together, to hold all tight.  I was badly frightened at the noise and
near approach of the whirlwind, but for the life of me could not help
laughing at an act of Frank’s.  We had taken only a few small catfish
(which he called from their size, _kitten_-fish), and two of these being
the first he had ever caught, he of course thought much of them.  When
the wind came nearest, and I called to him, ’Hold fast, Frank!’  I saw
him lean his head to one side, looking first at the flying branches,
then at the string of fish, which the wind had slightly moved, and
deliberately letting go his hold of the tree, he grasped his prize, and
held to that with an air and manner, which said as plainly as an act
could say, ’If you get them, you must take me too.’"



                             CHAPTER XXXVII


LAUNCHING THE BOATS--MORE WORK, AND YET MORE--ECLIPSE OF FEB. 12TH,
1831--HEALING BY "FIRST INTENTION"--FRANK’S BIRTHDAY--PREPARING FOR A
VOYAGE--RAIN, RAIN


The boats came on swimmingly.  By the end of the second week of their
systematic labours they had not only been sufficiently excavated, but
the young shipwrights had trimmed down much of the exterior.  They were
two and a half feet wide, by twenty inches deep, and eighteen feet long.
At this stage Robert supposed the work to be nearly done, but Sam shook
his head, and said, "Not half."  The most laborious part of the work was
over, but so much more remained, in the way of paring, smoothing,
trimming, and bringing into proper shape, that it was full a fortnight
before they were considered fit for the water.

They were ready for launching on the same day; and though Robert made
his announcement of the fact some hours in the advance of Harold, it was
agreed, that as Sam had been with him half a day more, the race should
be considered as even.  The launching occupied four days.  They were
distant from the water respectively an hundred and an hundred and fifty
paces.  A thick forest was to be traversed.  It was necessary to clear a
road, build bridges, and cut down the river bank. Robert’s was launched
on February 1st, and Harold’s on February 3d.  On each occasion there
was a general rejoicing, and every person, not excepting Mary and Frank,
fired a salute.

But on being launched the boats did not float to please them.  One was
too heavy at the bows, the other leaned too much to one side.  Several
days were spent in correcting these irregularities, and thus closed the
fifth week of their labour.

Another week was spent in making the rudders and a pair of oars, and
fitting in the seats and masts.  This caused them to make another voyage
to the wreck, for the purpose of obtaining planks, screws, and other
materials.  They went, of course, in their boats, and had the pleasure
of seeing them behave admirably.  They were steady, sat well on the
water, and obeyed the oars and helm almost as well as though they had
been built in a shipyard.

There were two incidents worthy of note occurring about this time.  One
was the discovery, made first by Frank, of an interesting astronomical
phenomenon. About a quarter before twelve o’clock he had gone to the
water bucket beside the door for a drink of water, when all at once Mary
heard him call out,

"Run here, sister, run!  The sun has turned into a moon!"

He had looked into the water, and seeing the reflected image of the sun
like a half moon, sharply horned, had strained his eyes by looking up
until he ascertained that the sun itself was of the same shape.  Mary,
who had witnessed an event of the kind before, perceived at a glance
that it was an eclipse.  She therefore took a basin, and hurried with
Frank to the landing, to inform the others of the fact.

"Look in the _water_, brother," said Frank, whose eyes were yet watery
from the severe trial he had given them.  "You can’t look at the sun
without crying."

For a time, of course, no work was done; all were engaged in watching
the phenomenon.  It was the great annular eclipse of February 12th,
1831, in which the sun appeared at many places like a narrow ring of
light around the dark body of the moon.  To our young people there was
no ring.  They were too far south. The sun appeared like the moon when
two days old, and the sky and earth were very gloomy.

The other incident was in itself trivial, and would not be introduced
here but that the fact it illustrates is sometimes of real importance.
It was simply the healing of a wound by what is called "_first
intention_."  Mary was engaged in some of her culinary duties, when, by
an unfortunate slip of her hand, the knife which she was using missed
its place, and sliced her finger. The piece was not cut _off_, but there
was a large gash, and it bled profusely.  Her first act was to wash the
wound well in tepid water until the blood ceased to flow; then seeing
that all the clots were removed, she brought the lips of the wound
together, and kept them so by a bandage and a little case, like the
finger of a glove made fast to the wrist by a piece of tape.  The wound
soon underwent a process similar to that of trees in grafting, only far
more rapid.  By the next morning the lips began to adhere, and in the
course of three days the wound was healed--so rapidly will the flesh of
a healthy person recover from a cut if the conditions necessary to
"first intention" are observed, viz., that the parts be _brought quickly
together, and kept without disturbance_.

The next week was spent in fitting up the sails and rigging, and
preparing the boats, so that in case of rough weather they could be
firmly lashed together.

Their work was now done.  They had been labouring steadily for a month
and a half, and were ready by Friday evening to pack up and start for
home.  But they resolved to wait and sanctify the Sabbath.  They needed
rest: they were jaded in every limb and muscle.  Moreover, the next day
was Frank’s birthday.  Taking everything into consideration, they
preferred to spend that day in rest and rejoicing, partly in honour of
Frank, but more especially as a sort of thanksgiving for their
successful work.  And as the voyage home promised to be long, and
perhaps perilous, they also determined that they would devote Monday to
trying their boats at sea, by an outward voyage round the island.

After Frank had retired, the rest agreed upon the plans by which to make
the following day pleasant and profitable to him.

"I," said Mary, "will make him a birth-day cake."

"And I," said Robert, "will teach him how to shoot a bird."

"And I," said Harold, "will teach him how to swim."

"And I," said Sam, "will sing him a corn song."

They went to bed and slept soundly.  It is astonishing how habit can
reconcile us to our necessities!  Had these young people been set down
by any accident, a few months before, in the midst of a lonely prairie,
surrounded by a wild forest, full of bears and panthers, afar from their
friends, and without any other protection than that which they had long
enjoyed, they would have been miserable.  But they went to sleep that
night, not only free from painful apprehension, but happy--yes, actually
_happy_--when they knew that their nearest neighbours were treacherous
savages, and that they were surrounded nightly by fierce beasts, from
whose devouring jaws they had already escaped more than once, only by
the blessing of God upon brave hearts and steady hands.  How came this
change?  It was by cheerful habit.  _The labours, dangers, and exposure
of men, had given them the hearts of men_.  God bless the children! They
slept in the midst of that leafy forest as sweetly as though they were
at home, and the bright stars that rose by turns to measure out the
night, looked down like so many angel eyes, to watch the place of their
habitation.

Mary and Frank were the first to awake in the morning. The others,
wearied by their long labours, and free from pressing responsibility,
abandoned themselves to a repose as sweet as it was needful.  Frank
moved first, and his moving awaked Mary, who, on calling to mind the
nature of the day, and the resolutions of the night before, put her arms
affectionately round his neck, and said, "Good morning, Mr.
Eight-years-old; I wish you many pleasant birthdays."

Frank put his arms round her neck, also, and kissed her; then both began
to dress.  Wishing not to disturb the sleepers, they slipped softly from
the tent.  Mary went first to the poultry-pen, which she opened.  The
ducks quacked with pleasure at her approach, and she watched them as
they dodged through the narrow hole opened for their passage, and ran in
a long line with shaking tails and patting feet after the leading drake.
Then she raised the portcullis-like gate for the goats and deer; Nanny
bleated, no doubt intending to say "good morning," but the unmannerly
kid and fawn pranced away, mindful of nothing but their expected feast
of grass and leaves.

While Mary was engaged with these, Frank went to look after his own
particular pets.  She heard him at the back of Nanny’s pen, where the
cubs were kept, calling out, "Come along, sir!" then he laughed
heartily, but a moment after his voice sounded impatiently, "Quit it,
you Pollux! quit it, sir!" then in a distressed tone, "Sister, sister,
come help me!"  Mary ran to his assistance, yet she could scarce
restrain her risibles at the sight which greeted her eyes.  Frank had
loosed the cord which confined the cubs, and was leading them out for
the purpose of a romp, when Pollux, who was a saucy fellow, and knew as
well as his young master what was intended, rose, with a playful growl,
upon his hind legs, and walking behind him, pinioned his arms close, and
began trying to throw him down.  Frank was much pleased with what he
regarded as a cunning trick in his young scholar; but he soon found that
it was by no means pleasant to be hugged in that way by a bear.  He
tried in vain to break loose, and when Mary came to his assistance, the
bear had thrown him down, with his face and nose in the dirt.  Frank
rose, looking very much mortified, and more than half angry.

"You ugly beast," he said to the bear, that seemed amazingly to enjoy
the joke, and was rising for another frolic.  "Get out, sir.  I have a
great mind to give you a beating."

"O, no, Frank," said Mary, "don’t be angry with your playmate.  Remember
who taught him to wrestle, and remember besides that this is your
birthday."

Frank’s wrath instantly subsided, and jerking down Pollux by the cord,
he led both cubs back to the pen, where he secured them, and then washed
from his face the traces of his defeat.

Sam had by this time come from his shed-room and made the fire for
breakfast, and Robert and Harold, awaked by Frank’s call for help,
dressed themselves and made their appearance.  They all wished Frank a
pleasant birthday, and hoped he might have as many as would be for his
good.

"Now, Master Frank," said Harold, while they were sitting together,
"what would you have us do for you today?  We are all your humble
servants, and ready to do whatever we can for your pleasure."

"Then," said Frank, "the first thing I want you to do, is to carry me
right home to father and mother."

"I wish we could, Buddy," said Robert; "but as we cannot do all that
today, you must try to think of something else."

Frank could think of nothing.  Robert suggested that he might spend part
of his birthday in learning to shoot.

"But I can shoot now," he replied.  "Sister and I have shot many times
already since we came to the island."

"I mean," said Robert, "that you should learn to use a gun, so as to
kill whatever you wish."

"O, yes," said Frank, "I should like that very much.  For who knows but
some old bear or panther may come after sister or me yet, before we get
away."

"O, as for bears," Robert maliciously remarked, "I think you will never
need a gun.  I think you will always find a tree."

Frank’s face reddened as he returned, "I don’t care if I did, sir.
Cousin Harold knows that I did exactly right.  Didn’t I, cousin?"

"Pardon me, Frank," Robert implored, "I did not suppose that you felt so
sore about that climbing.  I only said it to teaze you.  I am sure I
should have done exactly as you did.  But I can’t help laughing to think
how your feet _twinkled_, as you climbed that tree."

Robert well knew that this half apology would be satisfactory.  Frank
prided himself on his nimbleness, being so lithe and active that his
playmates used to call him "squirrel."  The allusion to his "twinkling"
feet restored him to good humour.

"Now, Frank," said Robert, beginning his lecture with the gun in hand,
"the first lesson I wish to teach you is this, _never let the muzzle of
your gun point to yourself, or to any person_, and never allow any
person to point one towards you.  A gun can never kill where it does not
point.  Even when you are loading, or walking, be careful to hold it so,
that if it should go off it could hurt nothing."

He then related several stories, illustrating the fact that almost all
accidents from guns are from careless handling.  Frank was a prudent
child.  He listened attentively, and then replied,

"Brother Robert, I think I had better let the gun alone till I am older.
May be, if I begin so early, I shall shoot myself or somebody else."

Robert was pleased with this mark of caution in his little brother, and
said, "Hold on to that, Frank, it is a remark worthy of your birthday,
and I trust that every return of this day will find you as wise in
proportion to your age."

The further instructions intended for Frank that day, being of an
out-door character, were interrupted by a rain that commenced about nine
o’clock, and held on steadily all day.  They employed themselves
leisurely in packing and preparing, first for the short voyage
contemplated on Monday, and also for the longer voyage home.  During the
whole day the tent was strewed and confused with the various bags,
boxes, trunks, and kegs, intended to receive the articles to be carried.
They looked and felt like travellers on the eve of departure. About
sunset the rain ceased.  The preparations being now complete, they came
together in the tent, and rested on the sofa.  Sam was missing.  He had
not been seen for half an hour, and now it was getting dark. Presently
they heard a voice ringing musically through the woods, in the direction
of the boat landing, "Join, oh, join, oh!  Come, boys, we’re all here!
Join, oh! join, oh!"  Frank sprang to his feet, exclaiming, "That is a
corn song!"

The music was very simple, and of the kind that may be termed
persuasive.  It was the song usually sung by the negroes of one
plantation, when inviting those of the neighbourhood to join them in
their "corn-shuckings."  This practice is much more common in the up
country of Georgia, where the corn crop is large, than on the seaboard,
where the principal attention is given to cotton.  A corn-shucking
frolic among these light hearted people, is a scene worth witnessing; it
is always held at night, and concluded about midnight with a feast, and
is to the negro what a quilting party is to country people.

When Frank heard the first stave of Sam’s song, he recalled vividly the
merry scenes of the corn-shucking, and running towards the landing, met
him, and returned, holding him by the hand, and joining in the chorus.

It was late ere they retired to rest.  They began to realize a tender
nearness to the loved ones at home, such as they had not felt since
parting from them.  They talked long and gratefully over past
deliverances and future hopes; then closed the evening as those should
who wish to find the Sabbath a day of blessing.

The next morning dawned more dark and uncomfortable than the day
preceding.  The whole sky was loaded with clouds, and the rain fell
every minute through the day.  The young people probably would have
found their time pass away very dismally had it not been for the pious
vivacity of Harold, who laid himself out to make it agreeable.  He
frankly avowed that one reason why he wished to have them unite with him
in spending the Sabbath aright, was his desire to succeed in the effort
to see their friends that week; and he referred for authority, to the
story told of Sir Matthew Hale, High Chancellor of England, who advised
that, if there were no higher motive, the Sabbath should be kept sacred
as a matter of _policy_; remarking that, for his own part, he could
almost foretell his success during the week to come, by the way he spent
the Sabbath.

The others, influenced by a variety of considerations, united with him
in this effort, and the day passed off not only with pleasure, but with
profit.  Robert had always thought in his heart that this story of Sir
Matthew Hale smacked strongly of superstition; but when he came to
reflect that if the Bible is true, of which he had no doubt, the God who
speaks to us now is the same who spoke to Moses, and who actually
prospered or hindered the children of Israel according to their
observance of the Sabbath, he changed his opinion so far as this--he
resolved for the present to adopt the advice of that great man, and then
to watch whether the same results were verified in his own case.  And
although his reflections upon this point partook of the merely
philosophic character that, to some extent, marked the operations of his
mind, the course upon which he resolved had several good effects; it
made him realize more sensibly his practical relation to God, and caused
him to watch more closely the consequences resulting from the discharge
or neglect not only of this particular duty, but of duty in the general.
That resolution, apparently so trifling, and expressed to no one,
started him on a perfectly new track, and enabled him to learn, from his
own experience, that "_whoever will watch the providence of God, will
never lack a providence to watch_."

On Monday the weather was worse than before.  They did indeed go out,
well protected by thick boots, watercoats, and tarpaulin hats, to see
after their boats; but the day was so chilly, as well as wet, that their
most comfortable place was near the fire.  Before sunset, however, the
rain ceased, the clouds rapidly dispersed, and when the sun flung his
last slanting beams across the earth, Robert pointed to Harold a red
spot upon a cloud, which spread so fast, that soon the whole western sky
was blazing with the promise of a fair morrow. With this expectation
they made every preparation, and went to bed.



                            CHAPTER XXXVIII


VOYAGE BOUND THE ISLAND--THE LOST BOAT--STRANGE SIGNALS
AGAIN--HURRICANE--NIGHT MARCH--HELPLESS VESSEL--MELANCHOLY FATE--THE
RESCUE--MAROONERS’ HOSPITALITY--CONCLUSION


Tuesday morning dawned without a cloud. Before the stars had ceased
shining all hands were called to work, and by the time the sun peeped
over the eastern marsh, they pushed off from their landing, Harold and
Sam, with Mum, being in one boat, and Robert, Mary, and Frank, with
Fidelle, in the other.  Rowing slowly down the river, against a light
wind from the south-east, the perfume of yellow jessamines (gelseminum
sempervirens), then in rich bloom, so loaded the air, that the young
people snuffed up the delicious odours, and looked lovingly at the green
island they were preparing to forsake.

The voyage was made almost without incident.  When they had passed out
to sea, the voyagers were rejoiced to find their boats behaving as well
upon the rough water as they had already done upon the smooth--they
danced joyously upon the gentle swell, as if congratulating their young
builders in the happy prospect of a successful voyage.  The boys tried
the effect of lashing them together, and thus verified the expectation
of their safety; they rubbed and creaked a good deal, and moved less
rapidly than when separate, but they sat upon the water with a
steadiness which no ordinary commotion could disturb.

Running the sea length of the island, and now bending their course for
the north river, Sam sang out, "A sail!"  Far up the coast a faint white
speck appeared, glancing in the sunbeams, but it soon faded from sight,
and they concluded that either it was a distant sea gull, or else a
vessel passing to the north.  They watched it with interest so long as
it was visible, and then turned into the river.  Had they suspected what
that white thing was, and that instead of disappearing in the increasing
distance, it was only obscured by a little mist, as it approached,
beating against a head wind, they would have forsaken river, island,
tent, everything, and sailed joyfully to meet it.

They reached the old encampment at one o’clock, having made the run of
twenty-six miles in six and a half hours.  The boats behaved so well,
and the winds, sea, and sky were so inviting, that their only regret
was, that they had not put everything aboard and made a day’s voyage
homewards.  But doubtless, as Harold remarked, a kind Providence watched
over their path, and would prove its kindness even in this delay.

Having taken a hasty survey of their old place of rest and of refuge,
and refreshed themselves at the spring, they resolved to divide their
company--Robert’s boat to go direct to the orange landing, where it was
to be left, while the passengers went by land to the tent, and prepared
the provisions for next day; and Harold and Sam, in the meantime, to
continue up the river, and ascertain whether there was not an inland
passage round the island, shorter and easier than the route by sea. With
this understanding they sailed together to Duck Point, where Robert
turned into the Creek, and putting Mary at the helm, rowed until they
came to the orange landing, and there moored the boat beside the old
raft. They reached the tent long before sunset, and having completed the
necessary preparations about dark, began to wish for the return of the
others.  Several times Robert went to the landing to look for them
before the daylight had entirely ceased; and after dark he went again by
the light of the moon, which, being half full, shed her light at this
time of the evening perpendicularly upon his path.  He was becoming
uneasy, when afar off he heard the mellow sounds of a boat song; the
notes grew more and more distinct; the thump of the oars began to be
heard keeping time to the music; finally, the song ceased; a clatter was
heard as the oars were laid in the boat; and soon the whole company were
together once more, enjoying the last supper of which they expected to
partake on the island.

"What kept you so long?" inquired Robert.  "Was the distance great?"

"No," replied Harold, with a look of pleasure; "we found the distance
only about six miles, but we were detained by missing our way, and more
especially by trying to be sure of a piece of very good news.  I think
we have found the old boat."

"Indeed!" said Robert, starting to his feet, with the keenness of his
delight.  "Where?  How?"

"In the marsh, at the far bend of the river.  I always thought it had
lodged somewhere in that direction, and therefore kept my eyes open at
every little creek and opening in the marsh.  At last I saw, what I
cannot say positively is _our_ boat, but it is a boat of the same
colour, and having a stripe of white and black, like ours.  We tried
until sunset to approach it, but did not succeed in getting any nearer
than at first; it is surrounded with soft mud, and a wilderness of
mangroves."

This was certainly pleasant, though unprofitable, intelligence.  There
was no prospect of their being able to extricate the boat, except by the
help of some uncommon tide; and its value, though considerable, was
nothing in comparison with the necessity for returning home. They
resolved not to wait for it; on the contrary, that they would transport
to the portage, by means of Harold’s boat, the lading intended for
Robert’s; then returning to the prairie, they would take in the second
load, and passing around by the new way, unite at Duck Point, and sail
thence for home.  By rising early they were sure that they could leave
the island by eleven or twelve o’clock.

While engaged in these plans for the morrow, Sam came in to say that he
was afraid the next day also would see them on the island, for never in
his life had he seen clouds gather so rapidly, or fly so fast.  The
little company went out, and saw a multitude of low scudding clouds
passing with intense rapidity over the face of the moon.  Suddenly each
one started, and looked inquisitively into the others’ faces, for at
that moment the sound of a cannon, within five miles, came booming from
the coast.  Robert and Mary turned red and pale by turns.  Frank clapped
his hands, exclaiming, "It is father!  O, I know it is father!"  Harold
folded his arms--he had evidently acquired something of the composure of
the Indian.

"Quick! quick! let us answer it!" cried Robert, and with the word darted
away to the tree where the cannon powder was kept.  While he was gone
there came another report.  They loaded expeditiously, and in a moment
afterwards the dark woods were illuminated with the flash, and the earth
shaken with the thundering discharge.

"Now for a march to double quick time!" said Robert, his strong
excitement making him the leader of all that was done.  "But, sister,
what shall we do with you and Frank?  You cannot keep pace with us.  You
had better stay here with Sam, while Harold and I push on to the coast,
and see who is there."

"Had we not better fire our cannon once more!" suggested Harold.

"Sam can do it," Robert answered.  "Here, Sam, put in so much," showing
him the quantity, "and fire it until you are sure they hear you.  But
what is that?" he continued, listening to a loud roar that came from the
coast, and increased like the accumulating rush of waters.

"It is a hurricane," replied Harold.  "There is no use in trying to go
now.  Down with the tent pins! deep! deep! or we shall have our house
blown from above us."

They hastened all to do what could be done for their immediate
protection; but there was little to be done. Gaining wisdom from their
former experience, they had driven down the pins as far as they could go
when the tent was pitched, and moreover had raised the floor and
trenched the premises.  They could only make the upper canvas a little
more secure, and having done this, they entered the tent a few seconds
before the storm burst upon them.  It was a terrible repetition of what
they had experienced four months before, when Sam was so nearly
destroyed.

Mary and Frank were in deep distress.  The earnest impetuosity of
Robert, combined with their own thoughts, had left in their minds no
doubt that the guns fired were from their father; and now, O what a
storm to meet him on his coming a second time to their truly enchanted
island!  Frank cried as if his heart would break.  Mary buried her face
in her hands, and prayed to Him who is mighty to deliver, even when the
winds and the waves overwhelm.

Harold also was strongly convinced that the guns were from his uncle,
but he knew that this was only conjectural, and therefore he kindly
remarked in the hearing of the others.

"You have no _certain_ reason, Robert, to believe that those guns are
from your father.  But suppose that they are, then another thing is
true, he is in a vessel, for boats do not usually carry guns.  They were
fired too before the storm came on; therefore they are not signals of
distress, and also they appear to have come from the river.  Now, if the
person who fired them is in a vessel, and in the river, what is there to
fear?  He cannot get away tonight, and he cannot probably be hurt by the
storm.  Let us be quiet until morning, and then go out to see who it
is."

These thoughts were very comforting.  Mary and Frank ceased their
weeping, and united in the conversation. They all huddled together in
the middle of the tent.  For hours the wind roared and howled with great
fury, but their tent was protected by the grand wall of forest trees
around, and also by the picket enclosure; and though the wind made the
canvas flutter, it could neither crush it down nor lift it from above
them.  Nor did the rain which poured in torrents, and was driven with
great violence across the prairie, give them any particular
inconvenience; it was readily shed by the several thicknesses of canvas
overhead, and carried off by the drainage round the tent.

In the course of an hour, Mary and Frank fell asleep upon the sofa, and
the others took such naps as they could obtain, while sitting in their
chairs, and listening to a roar of winds so loud, that if twenty cannons
had been fired at the river they could scarcely have been heard.

About midnight the rain ceased, and the wind began sensibly to abate.
Puff after puff, and roar after roar, still succeeded each other through
the forest; but the fury of the storm was over.  An hour before day,
Harold shook Robert by the shoulder, and said, "I think we can start
now.  Come and see."

The sky and woods were pitchy dark, little pools of water covered the
ground, and the prairie was rough with huge branches torn from the
trees, and conveyed to a distance.  These were obstacles and
inconveniences, but not impediments; and as the wind had so far lulled
that it was possible for a torch to live, Robert decided to make a
trial.  He waked Mary and Sam, and announcing his intention, said to
them:

"We wish to reach the old encampment by the time there is light enough
to see over the river.  If possible, we will return by eight o’clock,
and let you know all. If we are absent longer than that, you may
conclude that we have found something to do; and in that case, you had
better follow us.  We shall, of course, be somewhere on the river; but
as we ourselves do not know where, you had better go direct to Duck
Point, from which you can see almost all the way to our old spring. Let
me have a piece of white cloth, sister; I will, if necessary, set up a
signal for you on the beach, to tell you where we are."

Mary was exceedingly unwilling to have them depart. The darkness looked
horrible; their blind path must now be still more obscured by prostrate
trees and fallen branches; and if they succeeded in reaching the
intended place, they might be called to engage in she knew not what
dangerous enterprise upon water as boisterous as the sea.  Quelling her
anxieties, however, in view of the necessities of the case, she said:

"Go, but do take care of yourselves.  Remember that you two are the only
protectors, except Sam, for Frank and me."

The boys promised to run no unnecessary risks, and to return if possible
by the appointed hour.  Taking their guns, the spy-glass, and a bundle
of rich splints of lightwood, they set out.  Mary watched their figures
gradually diminishing under the illuminated arches of the forest.  She
noticed the dark shadows of the trees turning upon their bases as
pivots, when the torch passed, until they all pointed towards the tent.
Then the light began to be intercepted; it was seen by fitful glares; it
ceased to be seen at all; its course was marked only by a faint
reflection from the tree-tops, or from the misty air; finally every
trace of the torch and of its reflection was lost to sight, and Mary
returned, with a sigh and a prayer, to her seat upon the sofa.

The boys were compelled to watch very carefully the blazing upon the
trees, and what few signs of their path remained.  There were no stars
to guide their course, and the marks upon the earth were so perfectly
obliterated by the storm, that several times they missed their way for a
few steps, and recovered it with the utmost difficulty.  It is scarcely
possible for the best woodsman in the world, of a dark night, and after
a storm, to keep a course, or to regain it after it is lost.  The boys
were extremely fortunate in being able to reach the river by the break
of day.

Nothing yet was visible.  The river and marsh looked like a dark abyss,
from which rolled hoarse and angry murmurs.  They gathered some wet
fragments of pine left by them near the oak, and made a fire, beside
which they sat and talked.  Was there any person in the river!  Surely
it was time to hear some voice or gun, or to see some answering light.
They would have hallooed, but there was something oppressive and ominous
in the gloom of that storm-beaten solitude; and, for aught they knew,
their call might come only to the wet ears of the drowned and the dead.
They waited in painful and reverential silence.

Gradually the dark rolling water became visible; then afar off appeared
black, solitary things, that proved to be the tops of mangroves, higher
than the rest, around which had gathered moss and dead twigs of the
marsh. When the light of day more fully developed the scene, they
descried, at the distance of two miles, an object which the glass
revealed to be a small vessel, of the pilot boat class, dismantled, and
on her beam ends.  This sight filled them with apprehension.

There was no person visible on the side or yards; was there any one
living within?  The companion-way was closed.  Possibly a gun might
cause the persons on board to give some sign of life.

The boys made ready to shoot, but neither gun could be discharged.  The
powder was wet.  The only leak in the tent the night before had been
directly over the guns, and the rain had dripped into the barrels.  It
was vain to attempt cleansing them for use; and if they succeeded in
producing a discharge, how could that help the persons on board?

"No, no," said Robert, "what they want is our boat. Let us get that, and
go immediately to their rescue."

Before leaving the bluff they planted conspicuously a small pole, in the
cleft top of which Robert slipped a piece of paper, on which was
written, "We have gone for our boat; you will see us as we pass.
Robert."

When they arrived at the orange landing the boat was floating so far
from shore, that without swimming it could scarcely be reached.  The
raft, however, to which it was moored, was nearer the bank, and Harold
managed, by climbing a slender sapling near the water’s edge, and
throwing his weight upon the proper side, to bend it so that he could
drop upon the raft, and from that to enter the boat.  It was ankle deep
with water, and there was no gourd nor even a paddle with which to bale
it.  Robert’s ingenuity devised a plan; he threw into the boat an armful
of moss, which soaked up the water like a sponge, and lifting this over
the gunwale, he squeezed it into the river.

After a short delay they pushed from shore.  To their delight, the tide
was so high that they could row over the marsh in a straight line for
the river, which was hardly a mile distant.  On their way the sun burst
through a cloud, and appeared so high as to prove that the hour of eight
was already passed, and that Mary’s company was probably on their way to
the point before them.  The water in the river was dark and rough, from
the action of the neighbouring sea, but undisturbed by wind.  On
reaching it they paused, and hallooed to know whether the party by land
had reached the point; hearing no answer, they resumed their oars, and
crossed to the other side of the river, where the water was more smooth.

We will now leave them for awhile, and return to the company at the
tent.  Mary reclined on the sofa, but could not sleep.  The idea of her
father in danger, perhaps lost in his effort to rescue them, and
thoughts of the perilous night-march of the boys through a dense forest,
and then the nameless adventures into which her daring cousin and
excited brother might be tempted, haunted her mind until the grey light
of morning stole through the white canvas, and admonished her to rise.
Frank was fast asleep upon the sofa, covered with a cloak; and Sam’s
snores sounded long and loud from his shed-room.  On looking at the
watch, which Harold had left for her convenience, she found that it was
nearly seven o’clock; she did not know that when the sky is densely
covered by clouds, the dawn does not appear until the sun has nearly
reached the horizon.

It was not long after this before a fire was made, and breakfast ready
for the explorers.  Mary employed herself in every useful way she could
devise, until the slow minute hand measured the hour of eight; then
taking a hasty meal, they set out upon their march.  Sam led the van
with a gun upon his shoulder, and a gourd of water in his hand.  Mary
followed, carrying a basket of provision for the hungry boys, and Frank
went from one to the other, at will, or lagged behind to watch the
motions of the dogs, that looked thoughtful, as if aware that something
unusual was on hand.

The ground was still quite wet, and they were compelled to pick their
way around little pools and puddles that lay in their path; but with
care they succeeded so well that they would have reached Duck Point in
advance of the boys, had it not been for a circumstance that interested
them much, while it filled them with gloom.

Nearing the point, the dogs, that had hitherto followed very demurely
behind, pricked up their ears, and trotted briskly towards the water’s
side.  Sam noticed this, and remarked, "Dey after tukkey I ’speck, but
we a’n’t got no time fo’ tukkey now."  Soon after, their attention was
arrested by hearing a cry from the dogs, which was neither a bark nor a
whine, but a note of distress made up of both.

"Eh! eh!" said Sam.  "Wat dem dog after now? Dah no cry for deer, nor
for tukkey, nor for squirrel. Missus, you and Mas Frank stay here one
minute, till I go see w’at dem dog about.  I sho’ dey got some’n
strange.  Only harkee how dey talk!"

Sam was in fact fearful that some sad accident had befallen Robert and
Harold, and that the dogs, having scented them by the light wind coming
down the river, had given utterance to this moan of distress.  He
therefore walked with hurried steps in the direction from which the
sound proceeded, while Mary and Frank, unwilling to be left alone,
followed slowly behind him. He had not gained more than twenty paces the
advance, when they saw him stop--run a few steps forward--then stop
again, and lift up his hands with an exclamation of surprise.  They
hurried to his side, and found him gazing, with looks of horror, into a
little strip of bushes that skirted the margin of the tide water.

"What is the matter, Sam?" inquired Mary.

"Look, Missus," he replied, pointing with his finger. "Enty[#] dat some
people drown dey in de ma’sh?"


[#] Is not that.


Mary and Frank looked, and saw what appeared to be in truth, the bodies
of two persons fast locked in each other’s arms, and lodged upon the top
of a submerged mallow, which allowed them to sway back and forth with
the undulations of the water.  Sam was hesitating what to do--for
negroes are almost universally superstitious about dead people.  Mary
urged him on.

"You will not leave them there, will you?" she inquired; "you will
surely draw them out, and see who they are.  May be, too, they are not
dead.  O, get them out, Sam, get them at once."

Shamed out of his superstitious fear, Sam reluctantly obeyed the
injunction of his mistress.  He waded carefully and timidly along, until
he could lay hold of the bodies, and drag them to shore.

"W’ite man and nigger, Missus," he said, solemnly, as the movement
through the water revealed the pale features of the one, and the woolly
head of the other. "De w’ite man, I dun-know[#] who he is, he look like
sailor; and de nigger--"  He had now drawn them ashore, and examined
their features.  It would have made any one’s heart sad to hear the
groan that came from the poor fellow, when he had looked steadily into
the face of the dead man.  He staggered, fell on his knees in the water,
embraced the wet body, and kissed it.


[#] Dun-know, don’t know.


"O my Missus," he cried, "it is Peter! my own brudder Peter!  De only
brudder I got in dis wide wull.  O Peter--Peter!" and he wept like a
child.

"Draw them out, Sam," said Mary, energetically; "draw them on high
ground, and let us rub them as we rubbed you.  There may be life in them
yet."

"No, Missus," he replied, pulling the bodies higher ashore.  "No life
here.  He cold--he stiff--he dead.  O Peter, my brudder, I glad to meet
you once mo’. Huddee[#] Peter!  Huddee boy!"  The poor fellow actually
shook hands with the corpse, and poured out afresh his unaffected
sorrows.


[#] Howdye.


As soon as the bodies were drawn sufficiently from the water, Mary
proceeded to examine them.  The face of the white man was unknown to
her, he appeared to have been a respectable sailor.  He and Peter were
evidently stiff dead.  She was so certain they were beyond all hope of
recovery, that she did not even require their clothes to be unloosed, or
any means to be used for their restoration.  She waited on the mourning
brother until the first burst of his grief was over, then she and Frank
aided him to make a sort of brush wood fence around the bodies, to
protect them until something could be done for their interment.

It was while they were engaged in this last duty that Robert and Harold
passed the point.  Their halloo might, under ordinary circumstances,
have been heard; but with their own occupation of mind, the rustle of
bushes dragged along, and the roar of the distant surf, the voices of
the boatmen sounded in vain.

From the point the boys proceeded, it was said, to the other side of the
river, to escape the waves that dashed heavily against the island.  The
whole marsh, from bluff to bluff, was one flood of water, with the
exception of patches of the more luxuriant herbage that peered above the
rolling surface.  The mangroves, though generally immersed, broke so
completely the violence of the waves, that the water above and around
them, was comparatively smooth, while in the channel of the river it was
too rough for safety.

Picking their way over the tops of the low bushes, and around the
branching summits of the taller, the boys rowed steadily towards the
unfortunate vessel.  They had gone not quite half a mile from shore,
when they heard a gun, and looking back, they saw Mary’s company
beckoning to them.  It was too late to return, without great sacrifice
of time; and Robert pointed with one hand to the distant vessel, and
with the other to the place of the old encampment.  These signs were
understood; the company on shore, after looking steadily at the distant
object on the water, disappeared in the woods, and afterwards
re-appeared above the old spring.

The labour of rowing increased as the boat proceeded. The passage
through the marsh became more intricate, and the swell from sea began to
be more sensibly felt through the irregular openings.  But with the
increase of difficulties came also an increase of energy, as they
approached the vessel.  They were now about a quarter of a mile distant.
Their hands were sore, and their limbs weary with rowing.  They tried
not to exert themselves any more vigorously than before, lest they
should utterly exhaust their strength, but they nevertheless observed,
that as they neared the vessel, their boat did somehow move more rapidly
through the water, and crowd with greater skill through the narrow
opening.

As the young boatmen came within hail they would have called, had they
not been restrained by the same ominous feeling which they experienced
on the beach. With beating hearts they rowed silently around the bow of
the vessel.  The waves dashed heavily against it, and came up the
inclined deck, oftentimes higher than the companion-way.  They moored
the boat to the broken mast, and then clambering along the pile of
sea-weed and mangroves, which the vessel had collected in drifting, came
at last to the cabin door.  Robert could not say one word; his heart had
risen into his mouth, and he felt almost ready to faint.

"Hallo!" cried Harold, his own voice husky with emotion.  "Is anybody
within?"

"Thank God!" responded a voice near the cabin door. It was a female
voice, and its familiar tones thrilled to Harold’s very soul.  "Yes,
yes, there are three of us here.  Who is that calling?"

"Harold," he answered, "Harold Mc----."  The name was not finished.  He
reeled as he spoke, and leaned pale as a sheet against the
companion-way.  That voice was not to be mistaken, little as he expected
to hear it on that dark river.  It was the voice first known to him, and
first loved of all earthly voices.  He tried again to answer; it was in
vain.  He groaned in very anguish of joy, and the big tears rolled down
his face.  Robert answered for him.

"Harold McIntosh and Robert Gordon.  Who is in here?"

The voice from within did not reply.  It seemed as if the person to whom
it belonged was also overcome by emotion; for soon after they heard her
speak tremulously,

"Brother!  Sister!  Thank God--our boys--are here!"

Robert did not recognize the voice of his aunt, nor did he understand
the speechless look which his cousin turned upon him, until after two or
three violent sobs, Harold replied to his inquiring look, "My mother!
Robert, mother!"

Hearing the exclamation from within, Robert had now recovered from his
own torture of suspense, and leaned down to the cabin-door in time to
hear the manly voice of Dr. Gordon, asking in tones that showed he too
was struggling to command himself,

"My children, are you all well?"

"Yes, father, all well," Robert replied.  He wished to ask also, "Is
mother here?" but his voice again failed; he fell upon the leaning door,
and gave vent to a passionate flood of tears.  While leaning there he
heard his aunt call out, "Come, help me, brother.  She has fainted."
But that answer was enough; his mother was there.

The boys tried in vain to open the door; it was secured on the inside,
and it was not until after some delay that Dr. Gordon removed not only
the bolt, but various appliances that he had used to keep the water from
dripping into his sister’s berth, and gave each a hearty shake of the
hand as they leaned sideways to enter the door, and clambered in the
dark cabin.  Dark, however, as that cabin was, and insecure as was the
footing of the boys, it was not long before each was locked in his
mother’s arms.

Mrs. Gordon was very feeble, and her face much emaciated with suffering.
She said little more at first than to ask after Mary and Frank.  This
silence alarmed Robert; he knew that joy is usually loquacious, and he
heard his aunt talking very earnestly with Harold; but he forgot that
his mother was just recovering from a swoon, and that extreme joy
expresses itself differently in different persons.  His father, seeing
him look anxiously into her pale, thin face, remarked, "She will recover
fast enough, now.  The only medicine she needed was to meet you all."

"O, yes," she too observed.  "Give me now my dear Mary and Frank, and I
think I shall soon get well."

"We can give them to you in an hour, if you are able to bear removal,"
said Robert.  "Is she able, father?"

"Yes, yes, able enough," his father answered.  "And, I presume, we had
better go, before the tide recedes, or we may be caught in the marsh.
Come, let us load without delay."

They removed the trunks, and other things needful, to the boat; the boys
relating all the while to their delighted parents what a beautiful
prairie home they had, and how well it was stocked with every comfort.
"Everything," said Robert, "except father and mother; and now we are
taking them there."

The boat was brought close to the vessel’s side, and held there firmly
by Dr. Gordon, while the ladies were assisted by the boys.  And with
what pride those mothers leaned upon those brave and manly sons--grown
far more manly since their exile--may be imagined, but can not be
described.  Mrs. Gordon recovered her vivacity, and a great portion of
her strength, before she left the cabin. Joy had inspired her heart, and
energized her muscles. Mrs. McIntosh also seemed to grow happier every
moment, as she discovered the mental and moral developments of her son.
Dr. Gordon, having carefully closed the companion-way, took the helm,
and the boys the oars, while the mothers, with their faces towards the
bow, looked with eyes of love and admiration upon the young labourers,
who were requiting life for life, and love for love, what had been
bestowed on them in their infancy.

As they were passing through the marsh, Mrs. Gordon spied several human
figures on a distant bluff.  They were exceedingly small, but distinctly
marked against the sky.

"Can they be my dear little Mary and Frank?" she asked.

The boys replied that they were, and she waved her white handkerchief to
them, in the hope of attracting their attention.

The water was still so rough in the channel, that, anxious as the
parents were to embrace their long-lost children, Dr. Gordon decided
that instead of attempting the passage directly across, in their heavily
loaded skiff, they must continue up the river, through the irregular
openings of the marsh.

They came at last near enough to be discovered by Mary and Frank, who,
seeing the boat load of passengers going up the river, needed no
invitation to meet them at Duck Point.  The two companies reached the
beach about the same time.  Frank rushed right through the water, and
sprang into his mother’s lap; Mary was lifted into the boat by Robert,
who waded back and forth to bring her; and Sam, though he was saddened
by the melancholy fate of his brother, came with open lips and shining
teeth, to shake hands with Mossa and Missus, as soon as the children
gave him an opportunity.

Here they stopped long enough to allow the hungry boys to refresh
themselves from Mary’s basket of provisions, and Sam’s gourd of water.
They were almost ravenous.  Dr. Gordon then went with Robert overland,
to bring the other boat from the prairie to the portage, while Harold
and Sam conducted the company by water to the orange landing.  From this
latter place Mrs. McIntosh preferred to walk alone with her son to the
tent, leaving the others to descend the river.

During this part of the voyage, Dr. Gordon first learnt with certainty
the fate of Peter and the sailor.  As soon therefore as Mrs. Gordon had
landed, he left Robert to support her to the tent, and re-entering the
boat with Sam, went to rescue the bodies from their exposure, and to
prepare them for a decent burial.  It was late in the afternoon when
they returned; and, as the best they could do with the dead bodies, they
left them all night in the boat, covered with a sail, and pushed a
little distance from the land.

The young housekeepers laid themselves out to entertain their welcome
guests.  Mary provided them with an early and delightful supper, which
was highly seasoned with love and good will.  Mrs. Gordon and Mrs.
McIntosh reclined on Mary’s sofa, the others gathered round to complete
the circle, and the young people gave snatches of their eventful
history.  It was late before any one thought of retiring.  Then Dr.
Gordon called for a copy of the Scriptures.  He talked of their
separation, their sorrows, dangers, escapes, and now of their joyful
reunion.  After that, he read the ninety-first Psalm, which speaks of
the protection that God promises to His people, and kneeling down, he
offered their united thanksgiving for all the past, and their united
prayer that the Lord would be their God, and make them His loving,
grateful people.  When they arose from their knees, every eye was wet
with the tears of gratitude and joy.

The sleeping arrangements for the night were hasty and scant.  Mary lay
between her mother and aunt, for whom two of the narrow mattresses of
the vessel had been placed side by side, and covered with the bear-skin.
Frank nestled into the bosom of his father, and close beside him on
another mattress lay Robert.  Harold had chosen the sofa.  After the
labours and disturbances of the past twenty-four hours, sleep came
without invitation.  The moon and stars shone brilliantly overhead, the
air was uncommonly pure, as if washed clean by the preceding rain, and
the leafy forest, which had so often enclosed in its bosom the young but
hopeful exiles, now murmured all night its soft blessings upon a
reunited family.

                     *      *      *      *      *

Having extended this history far beyond the limits originally intended,
it is time to close with a few hurried words.

Poor Peter was buried the next night by torchlight, according to the
romantic custom prevalent among the negroes.  Locked indissolubly in
each other’s arms, he and the sailor were laid in the same grave, and a
double head and foot-board was sunk to mark the spot.

After much labour, and many dangers and delays (to recount which would
require almost another volume), they raised and launched their little
vessel, recovered the sail boat, provided suitably for their brute pets,
sailed from the Island of Refuge and arrived safely at Bellevue, where
they had been long expected, and almost given up for lost.

Before they left, the health of Mrs. Gordon was rapidly and almost
perfectly restored.  Fed from her children’s stores, drinking from their
tupelo spring, and regaled in every sense by the varied productions of
that land of enchantment, but more especially charmed by her children’s
love there was nothing more for her to desire, except the presence of
the dear ones left behind.

The joy of beginning their return to Bellevue was, however, strangely
dashed with sorrow, at parting from scenes tenderly endeared by a
thousand associations.  As they passed down the river, a gentle gale
came from the woods, loaded with the perfume of flowers.  Harold pointed
to his mother the tall magnolia on the river bank, which had been to him
a Bethel (Gen. xviii. 16-19); it was now in bloom, and two magnificent
flowers, almost a foot in diameter, set like a pair of brilliant eyes
near the top, looked kindly upon him, and seemed to watch him until he
had passed out of sight.  The live oak, under whose immense shade their
tent had been first pitched, was the last tree they passed; a nonpareil,
hidden in the branches, sat whistling plaintively to its mate; a mocking
bird was on the topmost bough, singing with all its might a song of
endless variety; and underneath a herd of shy, peeping deer had
collected, and looked inquisitively at the objects moving upon the
water.  It seemed to the young people as if the whole island had centred
itself upon that bluff, to reproach them with ingratitude, and protest
against their departure.  But their resolution could not now be changed;
the prow of their vessel held on its way.  _The Marooning Party was
Over_.



                                THE END





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