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Title: The Death Ship, Vol. III (of III) - A Strange Story
Author: Russell, William Clark
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 Death Ship, Vol. III (of III) - A Strange Story" ***

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  _All Rights Reserved_



  CHAPTER                                         PAGE

     I.--WE TELL OUR LOVE AGAIN                      1
    II.--WE SIGHT A SAIL                            10
    IV.--MY LIFE IS AGAIN ATTEMPTED                 56
     V.--A TEMPEST BURSTS UPON US                   79
    VI.--WE SPRING A LEAK                          112
   VII.--IMOGENE FEARS FOR ME                      131
  VIII.--LAND                                      155
    IX.--WE BRING UP IN A BAY                      174
     X.--THE WEATHER HELPS MY SCHEME               203
    XI.--MY POOR DARLING                           222
   XII.--I AM ALONE                                244




I had passed from the deck, where I slept, to the cabin in too great a
hurry to notice the weather. Now, reaching the poop, I stood a moment
or two to look around, being in my way as concerned about the direction
of the wind as Vanderdecken himself.

It still blew fresh, but the heavens lay open among the clouds that
had thickened their bulk into great drooping shining bosoms, as
though indeed the crystalline blue under which they sailed in solemn
procession mirrored the swelling brows of mighty snow-covered
mountains. The sea ran in a very dark shade of azure, and offered a
most glorious surface of colours with the heave of its violet hills
bearing silver and pearly streakings of sunshine and foam upon their
buoyant floating slopes, and the jewelled and living masses of froth
which flashed from their heights and stormed into their valleys as they
raced before the wind which chased them with noisy whistlings and notes
as of bugles. The Death Ship was close-hauled--when was the day to come
when I should find her with her yards squared?--but on the larboard
tack, so that they must have put the ship about since midnight; and the
sun standing almost over the mizzen topsail yard-arm showed me that we
were doing some westing, for which I could have fallen on my knees and
thanked God.

The captain and the mate were on deck, Vanderdecken abreast of the
tiller, Van Vogelaar twenty paces forward of him, both still and
stiff, gazing seawards with faces whose expressionlessness forbade
your comparing them to sleeping dreamers. They looked the eternity
that was upon them, and their ghastliness, the age and the doom of the
ship, fell with a shock upon the perception to the horrible suggestions
of those two figures and of the face at the tiller, whose tense and
bloodless skin glared white to the sun as the little eyes, like rings
of fire eating into the sockets beneath the brows, glanced from the
card to the weather edges of the canvas.

Yet I found comfort in their entranced posture and disregard of me,
for the less I engaged their attention the safer I should be whilst in
their ship, and memory being with them a deceptive and erratic quality,
I might hope in time to find that they had forgot to hate me.

I quitted the poop, not choosing to keep myself in view of
Vanderdecken and Van Vogelaar, and walked about the quarter-deck,
struggling hard with the dreadful despondency which clouded my mind,
whilst imagination furiously beat against the iron-hard conditions
which imprisoned me, as a bird rends its plumage in a cage, till my
heart pulsed with the soreness of a real wound in my breast. The
only glimmer of hope I could find lay, as I had again and again told
Imogene, in the direction of the land. But who was to say how long a
time would pass before the needs of the ship would force Vanderdecken
shore-wards? And if the wind grew northerly and came feeble, how many
weeks might we have to count ere this intolerable sailer brought
the land into sight? Oh! I tell you, such speculations were sheerly
maddening when I added to them the reflection that the heaving of the
land into view might by no means prove a signal for our deliverance.

However, by the time Imogene arrived on deck I had succeeded in
tranquilising my mind. She took some turns with me and then went to
the captain on the poop and stayed with him, that is, stood near him,
though I do not know that they conversed, till he went to his cabin;
whereupon I joined her, neither of us deigning to heed the mate's
observation of us, and for the rest of the morning we were together,
knitting our hearts closer and closer whilst we talked of England, of
her parents, the ship her father had commanded, and the like, amusing
ourselves with dreams of escape, till hope grew lustrous with the fairy
light our amorous fancies flung upon it. And lo! here on the deck of
this Death Ship, with Van Vogelaar standing like a statue within twenty
paces of us, and the dead face of a breathing man at the tiller, and
silent sailors languidly stirring forwards or voicelessly plying the
marline-spike or the serving-mallet aloft, where the swollen canvas
swayed under the deep-breasted clouds like spaces of ancient tapestry
from which time has sponged out all bright colours--here, in this
fated and faded craft, that surged with the silence of the tomb in her
through hissing seas and aslant whistling winds, did I, in the course
of our talk, find myself presently speaking of my mother, of the little
town in which she lived, of the church to which, under God, I would
lead my sweetest, there to make her my bride!

She blushed rosy with delight, and I marked the passionate gladness of
her love in the glance she gave me, as she lifted the fringes of her
white eyelids to dart that exquisite gleam, whilst she held her chaste
face drooped. But looking, as though some power drew me to look, at
Van Vogelaar, I met his malignant stare full, and the chill and venom
of his storm-bruised countenance fell upon my heart like a sensible
atmosphere and poison.

For the life of me I could not help the shudder that ran through my
frame. "Do you believe," said I, "that the men of this Death Ship have
any power of blighting hope and emotion by their glance? The mere
sighting of this vessel, it is said, is sufficient to procure the doom
of another!"

She shook her head as though she would say she could not tell.

"There is something," said I, "to ice the strongest man's blood in the
expression Van Vogelaar sometimes turns upon me. There is an ancient
story of a bald-pated philosopher who, at a marriage-feast, looked
and looked a bride, and the wondrous pavilion which the demons she
commanded had built, into emptiness. He stared her and her splendours
into thin air, sending the bridegroom to die with nothing but memory to
clasp. There may be no philosophy in yonder Dutch villain, but surely
he has all the malignity of Apollonius in his eyes."

"Do you fear he will stare me into air?" said she, smiling.

"I would blind him if I thought so," said I, with a temper that owed
not a little of its heat to the heavy fit of superstition then upon me.
"In the times of that rogue it was believed a man could pray another
dead; but did one ever hear of a stare powerful enough to dematerialise
a body? Sweet one, if that pale ruffian there could look you into
space, what form would your spirit take? Would you become to me, as did
the girl of his heart to the old poet--

  "The very figure of that Morning Star
  That, dropping pearls and shedding dewy sweets,
  Fled from the greedy waves when I approached."

"He cannot part us!" she exclaimed. "Let me be your Morning Star,
indeed, flying to you from the greedy waves, not from you, Geoffrey!
Do not speak to me of Van Vogelaar, nor look his way. Tell me again,
dear, of your mother's home; talk to me of flowers--of English
flowers--and of that old church."



As the day advanced, the breeze weakened, the sea grew smoother, the
surge flattened to the swell, and the wind did little more than crisp
with snowy feathers those long, low, broad-browed folds swinging
steadily and cradlingly out of the heart of the mighty southern ocean.
Every cloth the Braave carried had been sheeted home and hoisted. She
looked as if she had been coated with sulphur, as she slipped rolling
up one slant and down another brimming to her channels; the hue of
her was as if she had been anchored all night near to a flaming hill
and had received for hours the plumy, pumice-coloured discharge of
the volcano. There was nothing to relieve this sulphurous reflection
with flash or sparkle; the sunshine died in the green backs of the
brass swivels, it lay lustreless upon the rusty iron cannons, it found
no mirror in the dry and honeycombed masts, and it touched without
vitalising the rounded canvas, whose breasts had nothing of that
hearkening, seeking look which you find in the flowing swelling of a
ship's sails yearning horizon-wards to the land beyond the sea.

She was heading about north west by north, on the larboard tack, the
yards as hard fore and aft as they would lie; and though she was
making more leeway than headway, 'twas certain her bowsprit--for the
first time during the days I had spent in her--was pointing fair
for the Cape passage. It was this that had softened Vanderdecken's
fierceness. As bit by bit the Death Ship stole up to this heading, so
had his temper improved; insomuch that throughout the afternoon he had
exhibited towards me a manner marked in no small degree by the haughty
courtesy and solemn and stately urbanity which I had observed in his
treatment of me in the first day or two of my being with him. This,
I promise you, singularly rejoiced me, as exhibiting precisely the
influence necessary to neutralise the hideous malignity of the mate.
It also showed that he was still so much a sea-captain in soul as to
be rendered bland and obliging, or savage and dangerous, by the turn
of the weather, or rather by the direction and strength of the wind.
Indeed, had his character contained more strokes of the humanity that
is familiar to us, I should have heartily sympathised with the rage
which contrary gales aroused in him. But the Curse had made a _lusus
naturæ_ of him. Much of what had, in 1653, been sailorly had been eaten
out by time, and he flourished chiefly on those instincts which had
miserably won him his doom. Hence, however greatly you wished to feel
pity, you found you could not compassionate him as you would a living
and real person. And of this, indeed, I was especially sensible that
afternoon, whilst watching him and reflecting that though to be sure
he could speak to me now without striving to blast me with his eyes
and to damn me with his frown, yet let the wind suddenly head us and
blow hard, and 'twas odds but that I should be hiding away from him, in
the full conviction that it might need but a single indiscreet word to
procure my being thrown overboard.

It was half-past five o'clock in the afternoon. I had come up from
supper, leaving Vanderdecken smoking at the head of the table. Imogene
had gone to her cabin for her hat. Van Vogelaar was off duty, and very
likely lying down. Arents had the watch. There was a fine sailing wind
blowing, and but for the choking grip of the trim of the yards on the
creaking, high, old fabric, I believe the ship would have got some
life out of it.

It was the first dog-watch--an idle hour--and all the ghostly crew were
assembled forward, every man smoking, for tobacco was now plentiful;
and their postures, their faces, their different kinds of dress, their
lifelessness, save for the lifting of their hands to their pipes, and
above all their silence, made a most wonderful picture of the decks
their way; the foreground formed of the boats, a number of spare booms,
the close quarters for the live-stock, the cook-house chimney coming
up through the deck and trailing a thin line of blue smoke, whilst
under the arched and transverse foot of the foresail you saw the ship's
beak, the amazing relic of figure-head, the clews of the sprit-sail and
sprit-topsail pulling aslant--between being the men, a dismal, white
and speechless company, with the thick fore-mast rising straight up out
of the jumble of them, whilst the red western light flowed over the
pallid edges of the canvas, that widened out to the crimson gold whose
blaze stole into the darkened hollows this side and enriched the aged
surfaces with a rosy atmosphere.

I stood right aft, carelessly running my eye along the sea-line
that floated darkening out of the fiery haze under the sun on our
weather-beam, till in the east it curved in a deep, blue line so
exquisitely clear and pure that it made you think of the sweep of a
camel's hair-brush dipped in indigo. I gazed without expectation of
observing the least break or flaw in that lovely, darkling continuity,
and 'twas with a start of surprise and doubt that I suddenly caught
sight of an object orange-coloured by the light far down in the east,
that is to say, fair upon our lee-quarter. It was a vessel's canvas
beyond question; the mirroring of the western glory by some gleaming
cloths; and my heart started off in a canter to the sight, it being
impossible now for a ship to heave into view without filling me with
dread of a separation from Imogene, and agitating me with other
considerations, such as how I should be dealt with, on a ship receiving
me, if they discovered I had come from the Flying Dutchman.

I waited a little to make sure, and then called to the second mate, who
stood staring at God knows what, with unspeculative eyes.

"Herr Arents, yonder is a sail--there, as I point."

He quickened out of his death-like repose with the extraordinary
swiftness observable in all these men in this particular sort of
behaviour, came to my side, gazed attentively, and said, "Yes; how will
she be heading?" He went for the glass, and whilst he adjusted the
tubes to his focus Captain Vanderdecken arrived with Imogene.

"What do you see, Arents?" asked the captain.

"A sail, sir, just now sighted by Herr Fenton."

Vanderdecken took the glass and levelled it, and after a brief
inspection handed me the tube. The atmosphere was so bright that the
lenses could do little in the way of clarification. However, I took a
view for courtesy's sake, and seemed to make out the square canvas and
long-headed gaff-topsail of a schooner as the sails slided like the
wings of a sea-bird along the swell.

"How doth she steer, mynheer?" said Vanderdecken, as I passed the
telescope to Arents.

"Why," I answered, "unless the cut of her canvas be a mere imagination
of mine, she is close-hauled on the larboard tack and looking up for us
as only a schooner knows how."

"What do you call her?" he exclaimed, imperiously.

"A schooner, sir."

Whether he had seen vessels of that rig since their invention I could
not know, but it was certain the word schooner conveyed no idea. It was
amazing beyond language that hints of this kind should not have made
his ignorance significant to him.

The sight of the amber shadow on the lee quarter put an expression
of anxiety into Imogene's face. She stood looking at it in silence,
with parted lips and shortened breathing, her fragile, her too fragile
profile like a cameo of surpassing workmanship, against the soft
western splendour, the gilding of which made a trembling flame of one
side of the hair that streamed upon her back. Presently turning and
catching me watching she smiled faintly, and said in our tongue, "The
time was, dear, when I welcomed a strange sail for the relief--the
break--it promised. But you have taught me to dread the sight now."

I answered, speaking lightly and easily, and looking towards the
distant sail as though we talked of her as an object of slender
interest, "If our friend here attempts to transfer me without you, I
shall hail the stranger's people and tell them what ship this is, and
warrant them destruction if they offer to receive me."

The time passed. Imogene and I continued watching, now and again taking
a turn for the warmth of the exercise. As on the occasion of our
pursuit by the Centaur, so now Vanderdecken stood to windward, rigid
and staring, at long intervals addressing Arents who, from time to
time, pointed the glass as mechanically as ever Vanderdecken's piping
shepherd lifted his oaten reed to his mouth.

Shortly after six, arrived Van Vogelaar, who was followed by the
boatswain, Jans; and there they hung, a grisly group, whilst the crew
got upon the booms, or overhung the rail, or stood upon the lower
ratlines, with their backs to the shrouds, suggesting interest and
excitement by their posture alone, for, as to their faces, 'twas mere
expressionless glimmer and too far off for the wild light in their eyes
to show.

Thus in silence swam the Death Ship, heaving solemnly as she went,
with tinkling noises breaking from the silver water that seethed from
her ponderous bow, as though every foam bell were of precious metal
and rang a little music of its own as it glided past. But by this time
the sail upon our lee-quarter had greatly grown, and the vigorous red
radiance, rained by the sinking luminary in such searching storms of
light as crimsoned the very nethermost east to the black water-line,
clearly showed her to be a small but stout schooner, hugging the wind
under a prodigious pile of canvas, and eating her way into the steady
breeze with the ease and speed of a frigate-bird that slopes its black
pinions for the windward flight. Her hull was plain to the naked eye
and resembled rich old mahogany in the sunset. Her sails blending into
one, she might, to the instant's gaze, have passed for a great star
rising out of the yellow deep and somewhat empurpled by the atmosphere.
It was our own desperately sluggish pace that made her approach magical
for swiftness; but there could be no question as to the astonishing
nimbleness of her heels.

After a while, Vanderdecken and his men warmed to the sight, and fell
a-talking to one another with some show of eagerness, and a deal of
pointing on the part of Jans and Arents, whilst Van Vogelaar watched
with a hung head and a sullen scowl. Occasionally, Vanderdecken would
direct a hot, interrogative glance at me; suddenly he came to where we

"What do you make of that vessel, mynheer?" said he.

"Sir," I replied, "to speak honestly, I do not like her appearance.
Two voyages ago my ship was overhauled by just such another fellow
as that yonder; she proved to be a Spanish picaroon. We had a
hundred-and-fifty troops who, with our sailors, crouched behind the
bulwarks and fired into her decks when she shifted her helm to lay us
aboard, and this reception made her, I suppose, think us a battle-ship,
for she sheared off with a great sound of groaning rising out of her,
and pelted from us under a press as if Satan had got hold of her

"What country does her peculiar rig represent?" he asked, looking at
the vessel with his hand raised to keep the level rays of the sun off
his eyes.

"I cannot be sure, mynheer; French or Spanish; I do not believe her
English by the complexion of her canvas. She may prove an American, for
you may see that her cloths are mixed with cotton."

The word American seemed to puzzle him as much as the word schooner
had, for in his day an American signified an Indian of that continent.
However, I noticed that if ever I used a term that was incomprehensible
to him, he either dismissed it as coming from one who did not always
talk as if he had his full mind, or as some English expression of which
the meaning--as being English--was of no concern whatever to his Dutch

"Doth she suggest a privateer to your judgment?" he inquired.

I answered "Yes; and more likely a pirate than a privateer, if indeed
the terms are not interchangeable."

On this he went to the others, and they conversed as if he had called
a council of them; but I could not catch his words, nor did I deem it
polite to seem as if I desired to hear what was said.

"Do you really believe her to be what you say, Geoffrey?" said Imogene.

"I do, indeed. The dusk will have fallen before we shall have her
near enough to make out her batteries and judge of her crew; but she
has the true piratical look, a most lovely hull--low-lying, long and
powerful--do you observe it, dearest? A cutwater like a knife, a noble
length of bowsprit, and jibbooms, and a mainsail big enough to hold
sufficient wind to send a Royal George along at ten knots. If she be
not a picaroon, what is her business here? No trader goes rigged like
that in these seas. 'Twould be otherwise were this the Pacific. She may
be a letter of marque."

"Look!" cried Imogene, "she hoists her flag."

I hollowed my hands and used them for telescopes. The bunting streamed
away over the stranger's quarter, but it was a very big flag, and
its size, coupled with the wonderful searching light going to her in
crimson lancing beams out of the hot flushed west, helped me to discern
the tricolour.

"French!" I exclaimed, fetching a quick breath.

Vanderdecken had seen the flag, and was examining it through his
ancient tubes. After a little he gave the glass to Van Vogelaar, who,
after inspecting the colour, handed it to Arents; then Jans looked.

Vanderdecken called to me, "What signal is that she hath flying?"

I responded, "The flag of the French Republic."

He started, gazed at the others, and then glanced steadfastly at me as
if he would assure himself that I did not mock him. He turned again to
the schooner, taking the telescope from Jans.

"The French Republic!" I heard him say, with a tremble of wonderment
in his rich notes. The mate shrugged his shoulders, with a quick,
insolent turning of his back upon me; and the white, fat face of Jans
glimmered past him, staring with a gape from me to the schooner.
But now the lower limb of the sun was upon the sea-line; it was all
cloudless sky just where he was, and the vast, rayless orb, palpitating
in waving folds of fire, sank into his own wake of flames. The heavens
glowed red to the zenith, and the ruby-coloured clouds moving before
the wind looked like smoke issuing from behind the sea where the
world was burning furiously. The grey twilight followed fast, and the
ocean turned ashen under the slip of moon over the fore yard-arm. The
stealing in of the dusk put a new life into the wind, and the harping
in our dingy, faded heights was as if many spirits had gathered
together up there and were saluting the moon with wild hymns faintly



I will not say that there is more of melancholy in the slow creeping of
darkness over the sea than in the first pale streaking of the dawn, but
the shining out of the stars one by one, the stretching of the great
plain of the deep into a midnight surface, whether snow-covered with
tossing surges or smooth as black marble and placid as the dark velvet
sky that bends to the liquid confines, has a mystic character which,
even if the dawn held it, would be weak as an impression through the
quick dispelling of it by the joyous sun, but which is accentuated in
the twilight shadows by their gradual darkening into the blackness of
night. I particularly felt the oncoming of the dusk this evening. The
glory of the sunset had been great, the twilight brief. Even as the
gold and orange faded in the west so did the canvas of our ship steal
out spectrally into the grey gloom of the north and east; the water
washed past wan as the light of the horny paring of moon; the figures
of the four men to windward were changed into dusky, staring statues,
and the wake sloped out from the starboard quarter full of eddying
sparkles as green as emeralds. The canvas of the schooner, that had
shone to the sunset with the glare of yellow satin, faded into a pallid
cloud that often bothered the sight with its resemblance to the large
puffs of vapour blowing into the east.

"I should be glad to know her intentions," said I, uneasily. "If she
be a piratical craft it will not do for you to be seen by her people,
Imogene. Is it curiosity only that brings them racing up to us? May
be--may be! They will be having good glasses aboard and have been
excited by our extraordinary rig."

"Why should I not be seen, Geoffrey?" asked my innocent girl.

"Because, dearest, they may fall in love with and carry you off."

"But if they should take us both?" said she, planting her little hand
under my arm.

"Ay, but one would first like to know their calling," I replied,
straining my eyes at the vessel that, at the pace she was tearing
through it, would be on our quarter within hailing distance in twenty

What did Vanderdecken mean to do? He made no sign. Fear and passion
enough had been raised in him by the Centaur's pursuit; was I to
suppose that yonder schooner had failed to alarm him because he was
puzzled by her rig and by the substitution of the tricolour for the
royal _fleur de lys_?

"Speak to him, Imogene," said I, "that I may follow. They may resent
any hints from me if I break in upon them on a sudden.

"Captain," she called in her gentle voice, "is not that vessel chasing

He rounded gravely upon her: "She is apparently desirous of speaking
with us, my child. She will be hailing us shortly."

"But if she be a pirate, captain?"

"Doth Herr Fenton still think her so?" he demanded.

"She has the cut of one, sir," said I; "and in any case her hurry to
come at us, her careful luff and heavy press of sail, should justify us
in suspecting her intentions and preparing for her as an enemy."

"Will the Englishman fight, think ye, captain, if it comes to that?"
exclaimed Van Vogelaar, in his harshest, most scoffing voice.

Taking no notice of the mate, I said in a low voice to Imogene,
speaking quickly, "_They_ have nothing to fear. It is not for a
Frenchman's cutlass to end these wretches' doom. I am worried on your
account. Dearest, when I bid you, steal to my cabin--you know where it


"And remain there. 'Tis the only hiding-place I can think of. If they
board us and rummage the ship--well, I must wait upon events. In a
business of this kind the turns are sudden. All that I can plan now is
to take care that you are not seen."

I should have been glad to arm myself, but knew not where to seek for
a weapon; but thinking of this for a moment, it struck me that if the
schooner threw her people aboard us, my being the only man armed might
cost me my life; therefore, unless the whole crew equipped themselves
I should find my safest posture one of defencelessness.

"Do these men never fight?" I asked Imogene.

"There has been no occasion for them to do so since I have been in the
ship," she answered. "But I do not think they would fight. They are
above the need of it."

"Yet they have treasure, they value it, and this should prove them
in possession of instincts which would prompt them to protect their

"God manages them in His own fashion," said she. "They cannot be
reasoned about as men with the hot blood of life in them and existing
as we do."

Yet their apathy greatly contradicted the avidity with which they
seized whatever of treasure or merchandise they came across in
abandoned ships, nor could I reconcile it with the ugly cupidity of the
mate and the lively care Vanderdecken took of those capacious chests
of which he had exposed to me the sparkling contents of two. Blind as
they were, however, to those illustrations of the progress of time
which they came across in every ship they encountered, they could not
be insensible to the worthlessness of their aged and cankered sakers
and their green and pivot-rusted swivels. Their helplessness in this
way, backed by the perception in them all that for some reason or other
no harm ever befel them from the pursuit of ships or the approach of
armed boats, might furnish a clue to the seeming indifference with
which they watched the pale shadow of the schooner enlarging upon the
darkling froth to leeward, though I am also greatly persuaded that much
of the reason of their stolidity lay in their being puzzled by the rig
of the schooner and the flag she had flown; nor perhaps were they able
to conceive that so small a craft signified mischief, or had room for
sailors enough to venture the carrying of a great tall craft like the
Braave. But Vanderdecken could not know to what heights piracy had
been lifted as a fine art by the audacity and repeated triumphs of the
rogues whose real ensign, no matter what other colours they fly, is
composed of a skull, cross-bones, and hour-glass upon a black field.

The moon shed no light; but the wind was full of a weak dawn-like
glimmer from the wash of the running waters and from the stars which
shone brightly among the clouds. In all this while the schooner had
never started a rope-yarn. Her white and leaning fabric, swaying with
stately grace to the radiant galaxies, resembled an island of ice in
the gloom, and the illusion was not a little improved by the seething
snow of the cleft and beaten waters about her like to the boiling of
the sea at the base of a berg. She showed us her weather side, and
heeled so much that I could not see her decks, but there was nothing
like a gun-muzzle to be perceived along her. A gilt band under her
wash-streak shone out dully at intervals to her plunges, as though a
pencil had been dipped in phosphorus and a line of fire drawn.

She was looking up to cross our wake and settle herself upon our
weather quarter. Nothing finer as a spectacle did I ever behold at sea
than this spacious-winged vessel when she crossed our wake, rearing
and roaring through the smother our own keel was tossing up, flashing
into the hollows and through the ridges with spray blowing aft over
her as though she were some bride of the ocean and streamed her veil
behind her as she went, the whole figure of her showing faint in the
dull light of the night, yet not so feeble in outline and detail but
that I could distinguish the black, snake-like hull hissing through the
seas, her sand-coloured decks, a long black gun on the forecastle, and
a glittering brass stern-chaser abaft the two black figures gripping
the tiller, the great surface of mainsail going pale to its clew at the
boom end, a full fathom over the quarter, the swelling and mounting
canvas, from flying-jib to little fore-royal, from the iron-hard
stay-foresail to the thunderous gaff-topsail on high, dragging and
tearing at the sheets and bringing shroud and backstay, guy and
halliard, sheet and brace so taut that the fabric raged past with a
kind of shrieking music, filling the air as though some giant harp were
edging the blast with the resonance of fifty wind-wrung wires. Great
heaven! how did my heart go to her! Oh, for two months' command of that
storming clipper with Imogene on board!

'Twas a rush past with her; all that I saw I have told you, saving a
few men in the bows and a couple of figures watching us near to the two
helmsmen. If she mounted guns or swivels along her bulwarks I did not
see them.

I overheard Vanderdecken exclaim, "It is as I surmised; she hath but a
handful of a crew; she merely wishes to speak us."

Van Vogelaar returned some gruff answer in which he introduced my
name, but that was all I heard of it.

Once well on our weather quarter, the schooner ported her helm, luffing
close; her gaff-topsail, flying-jib, royal and topgallant sail melted
to the hauling upon clewlines and downhauls as though they had been
of snow and had vanished upon the black damp wind; but even with the
tack of her mainsail up, they had to keep shaking the breeze out of the
small sail she showed, to prevent her from sliding past us.

"Oh, ze sheep ahoy!" sung out one of the two figures on the
quarter-deck, the man coming down to the lee rail to hail, "What sheep
air you?"

As with the Centaur, so now, Vanderdecken made no response to this
inquiry. He and the others stood grimly silent watching the schooner,
as immobile as graven images.

I said to Imogene, "'Tis dark enough to show the phosphor upon the
ship. That should give them a hint. Mark how vividly the shining crawls
about these decks."

"Ze sheep ahoy!" shouted the man from the schooner that lay to
windward, tossing her bows and shaking the spray off her like any
champing and curvetting steed angrily reined in and smoking his
impatience through his nostrils. "What sheep air you?"

Vanderdecken stepped his towering figure on to the bulwark; "The
Braave," he cried, sending his majestic voice ringing like a note of
thunder through the wind.

"Vhat ees your country?" yelled the other.

Vanderdecken did not apparently understand the question, but probably
assuming that these sea-interrogatories followed in the usual manner,
answered, "From Batavia to Amsterdam," speaking as the schooner's man
did in English, but with an accent as strongly Dutch as the other's was

Thought I, he will see that we are a Holland ship, and as France and
their High Mightinesses are on good terms he may sheer off. But even as
this fancy or hope crossed my mind, a sudden order was shouted out on
the schooner and in a breath the vessel's hatches began to vomit men.
They tumbled up in masses, blackening the white decks, and a gleam of
arms went rippling among them.

"Captain Vanderdecken!" I bawled, "that fellow is a pirate! Mind, sir,
or she will be aboard of you in another minute!" And not stopping to
heed the effect of my words, I grasped Imogene by the hand and ran with
her off the poop. "Get you to my cabin, dearest, they are pirates and
will be tumbling in masses over the rail directly."

I pressed my lips to her cheek and she glided like a phantom down the

What I relied on by advising her concealment I could not have
explained; since those who rummaged the vessel were pretty sure to
enter the cabins. But my instincts urging me to hide her away from the
first spring of the men on to our deck, I took their counsel as a sort
of mysterious wisdom put into me by God for her protection; it coming
to this in short--that there might be a chance of their overlooking her
if she hid below, whereas they were bound to see her if she remained
on deck, to be ravished by her beauty, and, supposing them pirates,
to carry her off as a part of their booty, according to the custom of
those horrid villains.

I stepped away from the hatch, lest it might be supposed I was guarding
it, and stationed myself in the deep shadow under the quarter-deck
ladder, where it and the overhanging deck combined cast an ink-like
shade. There was small need to look for the schooner, you could hear
her hissing like red-hot iron through the water as she came sweeping
down upon our quarter under a slightly ported helm, ready to starboard
for the heave of the grapnels and the foaming range alongside. There
was no show of consternation among the crew of the Death Ship; nay, if
emotion of any sort were at all visible, you would have termed it a
mere kind of dull, muddled, Dutch curiosity. I had fancied they would
jump to arm themselves and assume some posture of defence; instead
of this they had gathered themselves together in several lounging
groups about the waist and gangway, many of them with pipes in their
mouths, the fire of which glowed in bright, red spots against the
green and lambent glitterings upon such woodwork as formed their
background; and thus they hung with never a monosyllable uttered
among them, their silence, their indifference, their combination of
ghostly characteristics, with their substantial, glooming shapes, more
terrifying to my mind than had every man of them a carbine pointing
from his shoulder, with a crew forward as numerous again standing
match in hand at twenty murdering pieces!

All in an instant the shadow of the schooner's canvas was in the air
deepening the gloom upon our decks with a midnight tincture; you heard
the snarling wash of water boiling between the two vessels; the claws
of the grapnels flung from the bows and stern of the Frenchman gripped
our aged bulwark with a crunching sound, and the mystical fires in the
wood burnt out to the biting iron like lighted tinder blown upon. Then,
in a breath, I saw the heads of twenty or thirty fellows along the line
of the bulwark rail, and as they sprang as monkeys might into our ship,
one of them that grasped a pistol exploded it, and the yellow flash
was like the swift waving of a torch, in the glare of which the faces
of the silent, staring, indifferent sailors of the Braave glanced in a
very nightmare of white, unholy countenances.

There was some yelping and howling among the Frenchmen as they tumbled
inboard--indeed, the seamen of that nation cannot budge an inch without
making as much noise as would last a British forecastle several
voyages; but their clamour sounded to me very much like the cries of
men who did not relish their errand and raised these shouts for the
same reason that sets a boy whistling on a road in a dark night. They
jumped from the rail in slap-dash style indeed, waving their cutlasses
and flourishing their pikes; but whether it was that they were suddenly
confounded by the silence on our decks, or that they had caught sight
in the pistol flash of the faces of the Death Ship's crew, or that
the suspicion of our true character, which must have been excited in
them by the glow upon our hull and by the ancient appearance of our
spars, was quickly and in a panic way confirmed and developed by the
glitterings upon our deck, the aspect of our ordnance, the antiquity
suggested by the arrangement of our quarter-deck and poop--all of
these points visible enough in the wild, faint light that swarmed
about the air but all of them taking ghostly and bewildering, ay, and
terrifying emphasis from the very dusk in which they were surveyed;
whatever the cause, 'tis as sure as that I live who write this, that
instead of their making a scamper along the decks, charging the Dutch
seamen, flinging themselves down the hatchways and the like, all which
was to have been expected, they suddenly came to a dead stand, even
massing themselves in a body and shoving and elbowing one another, for
such courage, maybe, as is to be found in the feel of a fellow-being's
ribs, whilst they peered with eyes bright with alarm at the phlegmatic
sailors of Vanderdecken and around then at the ship, talking in fierce
short whispers and pointing.

It takes time to record the events of thirty seconds, though all
that now happened might have been compassed whilst a man told that
space. 'Twas as if the frosty, blighting Curse of the ship they had
dashed into had come upon their tongues, and hearts and souls. Over
the side, where the grappling schooner lay, heaving with a cataractal
roaring of water sounding out of the sea between, as the Flying
Dutchman rolled ponderously towards her, loud orders in French were
being delivered, mixed with passionate callings to the boarders upon
our decks; the schooner's sails waved like the dark pinions of some
monstrous sea-fowl past ours, which still drew, no brace having been
touched. I guessed there were thirty in all that had leapt aboard,
some of them negroes, all of them wildly attired in true buccaneering
fashion, so far as the darkness suffered my eyes to see, in boots and
sashes, and blouses and lolling caps; there they stood in a huddle of
figures with lightning-like twitching gleams shooting off their naked
weapons as they pointed or swayed or feverishly moved, staring about
them. Some gazed up at the poop, where, as I presently discovered,
stood the giant figure of Vanderdecken, his mates and the boatswain
beside him, shapes of bronze motionlessly and silently watching. But
the affrighting element--more terrible than the hellish glarings
upon the planks, bulwarks and masts, more scaring than the amazing
suggestions--to a sailor's eye--of the old guns, the two boats and all
other such furniture as was to be embraced in that gloom--was the crowd
of glimmering faces, the mechanic postures, the grave-yard dumbness
of the body of spectral mariners who surveyed the boarding party in
clusters, shadowy, and spirit-like.

I felt the inspiration, and, with a pang of Heaven-directed sympathy
with the terrors working in the Frenchmen's breasts, which needed but
a cry to make them explode, I shouted from the blackness of my ambush,
in a voice to which my sense of the stake the warning signified in its
failure or success, lent a hurricane note: "_Sauvez vous! Sauvez vous!
C'est l'Hollandais Volant!_"

What manner of Paris speech this was, and with what accent delivered,
I never paused to consider; the effect was as if a thunder-bolt had
fallen and burst among them. With one general roar of _l'Hollandais
Volant!_ the whole mob of them fled to the side, many dropping their
weapons the better to scramble and jump. Why, you see that shout of
mine exactly expressed their fears, it made the panic common; and 'twas
with something of a scream in their way of letting out the breath in
their echoing of my shout that they vanished, leaping like rats without
looking to see what they should hit with their heads or tails.

I sprang up the quarter-deck ladder to observe what followed, and
beheld sure enough, the towering outline of Vanderdecken standing at
the rail that protected the fore-part of the poop-deck gazing down
upon the schooner with his arms folded and his attitude expressing
a lifelessness not to be conveyed by the pen, though the greatest
of living artists in words ventured it. Against the side were the
two mates and Jans looking on at a scene to whose stir, clamour,
excitement, they seemed to oppose deaf ears and insensible eyes. Small
wonder that the Frenchmen should have fled to my shout, fronted and
backed as they were in that part of the ship into which they had leapt,
and where they had come to an affrighted stand, by the grisly and sable
shapes of Vanderdecken and his comrades aft, and by the groups of
leprous-tinctured anatomies forward.

I peered over the rail. The two vessels lay grinding together, and as
the tall fabric of the Death Ship leaned to the schooner, you thought
she would crush and beat her down, but with the regularity of a pulse
the dark folds of water swept the little vessel clear, sometimes
raising her when our ship lay aslant to the level of our upper deck,
and giving me, therefore, a mighty good prospect of what was happening
in her. Both vessels were off the wind and were surging through it with
a prodigious hissing betwixt their sides.

The fright of the boarders had proved contagious. I shall never
forget the sight! Small as the schooner was, there could not have
been less than ninety men on her decks, and they made a very hell of
the atmosphere about them with the raving notes in their cries and
bawlings. My knowledge of French was small, but some of their screams
I could follow, as for instance: "'Tis the Flying Dutchman!"

"Cut us adrift! Cut us adrift!"

"Flatten in those head-sheets! Shove her off! Shove her off! Pole her,
my children, with a couple of sweeps!"

"Now she starts. No! What holds her? Ha! ha! the weather topsail-brace
has fouled the Hollander's fore-topsail yard-arm. No use going aloft!
Let go of it--let go of it--that it may overhaul itself!"

Imagine about four-score throats--some with the guttural thickness
of the negro's utterance--all together roaring and delivering orders
such as those of which I have given you specimens! Figure the decks
throbbing with men rushing with apparent aimlessness from one side
to the other, from one end to the other--not a vestige of discipline
among them--a drowning yell or two coming up from between the ships
where some wretch that had fallen overboard was holding on--the sails
shaking, the water washing beyond in a glaring white that gave a
startling distinctness to the shape of the schooner as she rose softly
to the level of our upper deck bulwarks upon the seething snow!

Why, no matter how strongly imagination should present the picture,
what is the simulacrum as compared to that reality which I need but
close these eyes to witness afresh? The wildness of the scene took
a particular spirit from the frowning, rocking mass of the Death
Ship--the tomb-like silence in her--the still and glooming shapes
watching the throes and convulsions of the terrified Frenchmen and
negroes from the poop and forward over the rail--the diabolic glowing
in her timbers--the swaying of her dusky canvas like the nodding of
leviathan funeral plumes--the dance of the slender slip of moon among
the rigging, defining the vast platforms of the barricaded tops,
monstrous bulgings of blackness up there as though a body of electric
cloud swung bulbously at each lower masthead.

They had the sense to cut the lines which held them by their grapnels
to our ship, and presently to my great joy--for if they were true
pirates, as there was good reason to believe from their appearance and
manner of laying us aboard, 'twas impossible to feel sure that the
fiercer spirits among them might not presently rally the rest--the
schooner went scraping and forging past ahead of us; snapping her
topgallant mast short off, with the royal yard upon it, by some brace,
stay or backstay fouling us in a way the darkness would not suffer
me to witness, and in a few minutes she had crossed our bows and was
running away into the north east, rapidly expanding her canvas as she
went, and quickly melting into the darkness.

I stopped to fetch a few breaths and to make sure of the Frenchman's
evanishment by watching. More excitement and dread had been packed into
this time than I know how to tell of.

I slipped to the hatch on the upper deck, descended a tread or two,
and softly called. In a minute I espied the white face of my dearest
upturned to me amidst the well-like obscurity.

"They are gone," said I, "the danger is over."

She instantly stepped up.

"I heard you cry out 'The Flying Dutchman! Save yourselves!'" she
exclaimed, with a music almost of merriment in her voice. "It was a
bold fancy! What helter-skelter followed!"

I took her hand and we entered the cabin. The richly-coloured old lamp
was alight, the clock ticked hoarsely, you heard the scraping of the
parrot clawing about her cage.

"Oh," she cried, "what a dismal place is that they have given you to
sleep in! I believed I was hardened to the dreadful flickerings upon
the deck and sides, but they scared me to the heart in that cell--and
the noises too in the hold! Oh, Geoffrey, how severe is our fate!
Shall we ever escape?"

"Yes, my dearest, but not by ships, as I have all along told you. A
chance will offer, and be you sure, Imogene, it will find me ready.
Wondrous is God's ordering! Think, my dear, that in the very Curse that
rests upon this ship has lain our salvation! Suppose this vessel any
other craft and boarded by those villains, negroes of the Antilles, and
white ruffians red-handed from the Spanish Main--'tis likely they were
so and are cruising here for the rich traders--by this time where would
my soul be? and _you_--ay, there is a virtue in this Curse! It is a
monstrous thought--but, indeed, I could take Vanderdecken by the hand
for the impiety that has carried you clear of a destiny as awful in its
way as the doom these unhappy wretches are immortally facing."

She shuddered and wept a little, and looked at me with eyes the
brighter for those tears which I dared not kiss away in that public



Vanderdecken and the mate came below soon after this, and Prins set a
bowl of punch before them. The captain seated himself in his solemn
way, and the mate took Imogene's place--that is, over against my
seat--she being at my side. They filled their pipes and smoked in
a silence that, saving Vanderdecken's asking me to drink, would, I
believe, have remained unbroken but for Imogene.

She said: "Captain, there is no fear, I hope, of those pirates
attempting to board us again in the darkness?"

"Did Herr Fenton tell you they were pirates?" he replied, with the
unsmiling softness of expression he was used to look upon her with.

"Surely they were pirates?" she cried.

"Be it so, my child," said he, "what doth it signify? They are gone; I
do not fear they will return."

Being extremely curious to know what sense he had of this strange
adventure, I exclaimed, "It is very surprising, mynheer, that a score
of ruffians, armed to the teeth, should fling themselves into this ship
for no other purpose, seemingly, than to leap out of her again."

"They imagined us English, Herr Fenton," said Van Vogelaar, with a
snarl in his voice and a sneer on his lip.

I did not instantly catch the drift of his sarcasm.

"Doth any man suppose," said Vanderdecken, rearing his great figure and
proudly surveying me, "that the guns of our admirals have thundered in
vain? You seek an interpretation of the Frenchman's behaviour? Surely
by this time all Englishmen should understand the greatness of the
terror our flag everywhere strikes! Twice you have witnessed this--in
the hasty retreat of your man-of-war, and this night in the conduct of
the French schooner. Tell me," he cried, with new fires leaping into
his eyes, "how I am to resolve the panic-terror of the boarding party,
if I am not to believe that until they were on our decks, had looked
round them and beheld our men, they knew not for certain the nation to
which the Braave belonged?"

I bowed very gravely as I acquiesced.

"Skipper," cried Van Vogelaar, "is it not likely that they imagined us
English? They showed no fear till our country spoke in the faces of our

A faint smile of scorn curled the lips of Imogene, but the contempt of
her English heart quickly faded into an expression of compassion and
sadness when she let her eyes travel from the sinister and ugly mate
to the majestic countenance of the commander. But no more was said.
The two men puffed at their pipes and sipped at their silver mugs in
silence, and at long intervals only did Imogene and I exchange a word.

That they should so easily have been able to satisfy the surprise
which the behaviour of the schooner must have excited in them was
astonishing. Yet a little reflection made me see that, since they
did not know they were accurst and were ignorant of the horror and
terror with which mariners of all countries viewed them, it was almost
inevitable they should attribute the flight of ships from them either
to a selfishness and indifference to their needs or to the dread
which they inspired as a vessel that flew the Dutch flag. Yet may
I, without irreverence, suggest that much of the venom of the Curse
must be neutralised by their ignorance of their condition and their
inability to drive conjecture to the truth of whatever befel them? The
shaping of their doom is beyond the power of reason to grasp, and I
feel, therefore, the impiety of criticism. Nevertheless, I must say
that, since it is Heaven's will these wretches should be afflicted
with earthly immortality, it is inexplicable that the torments
which perception of the truth would create, should be balsamed into
painlessness by ignorance. For hath not the Curse the idleness of that
kind of human revenge which strikes and mutilates an enemy already dead?

Imogene withdrew to her cabin at about half-an-hour after nine;
Vanderdecken went on deck and I sat alone smoking, thinking of the
surprising events of the evening, scheming how to escape and making
my heart very heavy with a passionate hopeless yearning for the time
to come when, secure upon the soil of our beloved land, I should be
calling the delicate, lovely, lonely girl--the amber-haired fairy
of this Death Ship--my own! The slow, rusty, saw-like ticking of
the ancient clock was an extremely melancholy noise, and I abhorred
its chimes too, not because of the sound, that was very sonorously
melodious, but because it startled the parrot into its ugly, hobgoblin
croak. It was a detestable exclamation to salute the ears of a man
whose thoughts ran in the very strain of that coarse, comminatory
confirmation of them.

The ancient salt and weedy smell of the ship--a distinguishable thing
in the after part--if it was somewhat mitigated forward by the greasy
smoke and steam of the cook-house--lent a peculiar accentuation to
the various shinings of the lamp, in whose many-coloured radiance
some of the dusky oval-framed paintings loomed out red, others green,
the ponderous beams of the upper deck blue, the captain's tall,
velvet-backed chair yellow, and so on; all these tints blending into a
faint unearthly atmosphere as they stole dying to the bulkhead of the
state-room, behind whose larboard door my love lay sleeping.

I was glad to quit the place, and went on deck. There was nothing to be
seen saving the foam that flashed near and crawled afar, the glitter
of the low-lying stars like the sparkle of torches on ships dipping
upon the horizon, a sullen movement of dark clouds on high, and the
moon red as an angry scar up-curled over the western horizon. 'Twas on
a sudden I noticed that we were making a fair wind of the breeze. Yes,
on looking aloft I perceived that the yards were braced in, lying so
as to show the wind to be blowing about one point abaft the beam. It
was strange that in the cabin I had not heard any noise to denote that
the men were trimming sail, no sound of rope flung down in coils, no
rusty cheeping cry from the aged blocks, no squeak of truss or parrel,
or tread of foot. That was, maybe, because the men had fallen dumbly,
as usual, to the job of hauling and pulling, so that my attention had
not been drawn to such noises as were raised. Be this as it may, for
the first time since I had been in the ship the wind had come fair.
By the situation of the Cross, I guessed she was being headed about
west-north-west, which would carry us to Agulhas, and also into the
Ethiopic Sea.

For a little bit I was sensible of a degree of excitement; there had
come a break; it was no longer a hopeless ratching to the north, then a
bleak, slanting drift into the mighty solitude of the south; the ship
was going home! But with that thought my spirits sank. Home? What home
had she but these wild, wide waters? What other lot than the gentle
cradling or tempestuous smiting of these surges, the crying of the
winds of the southern ocean in her rigging, the desolate scream of the
lonely sea-bird in her wake, the white sunshine of the blue heavens,
the levin-brand of the electric storm, the midnight veil of the black
hurricane, the wide, snow-like light of the northern moon, over and
over again! No! I was mortal, at least, with the plain understanding
of a healthy man, and was not to be cheated by a flowing sheet as
though mine, too, was the unholy immortality with its human yearnings
and earthly labours of the men who manned this Death Ship. The change
was but one of the deceits of their heavy sentence, and with an inward
prayer that for me and for my precious one it might work out some
profitable issue, I went to my cabin.

The door hung on a hook that held it open by the length of a finger;
outside swung the lamp that sent light sufficient to me through the
interstice. At midnight, this lamp was borne away by Prins, whose final
duty before going to his sleeping-place lay in this. It was a regular
custom, and whenever it happened that I stayed on deck beyond midnight,
then I had to "turn in," as best I could, in the dark. Yet, dark I
could not term my cabin at night, 'twas rather "darkness visible," as
Milton hath it; for though the glowing crawlings yielded no radiance,
no, no more than a mirrored star shining out of the wet blackness of a
well, yet such objects as intercepted it, it revealed, as a suspended
coat, for instance, that, hanging against the bulkhead, had its figure
limned against the phosphor, as though 'twas blotted there in ink, very
faithful in outline.

There was enough in the events of the evening to keep my brain occupied
and my eyes open, and I lay thus for some half-hour, thinking and
watching the unnatural lights, and wondering why they should be there,
since I had never beheld the like glowing in the most ancient marine
structure I had ever visited, when, on a sudden, I was sensible of
someone standing outside the cabin door and listening, as it appeared.
It was a peculiar, regular breathing sound, that gave me to know
this--a respiration as rhythmic as that of a sleeping man whose slumber
is peaceful. An instant after I heard the _click_ of the hook of the
door lightly lifted out of the staple, but all so quietly that the
noise would have been inaudible amid the straining of the rocking
vessel if my attention had not been rendered piercing by that solemn
and strong breathing, rising very plainly above the sounds in the hold.

I sprang on to the deck; being in my socks I fell on my feet
noiselessly. Against the greenish glitterings about the cabin I easily
made out the figure of a man, standing within the door, holding it
in a posture of eager listening. My breath grew thick and short; the
horror of this situation is not to be conceived. It was not as though I
were in an earthly ship, for in that case, no matter who the midnight
intruder, he would have had a mortal throat for my fingers to close
upon. But whoever this shape might be he belonged to the Death Ship,
and 'twas frightful to see his outline, black as the atmosphere of a
churchyard grave, thrown out, in its posture of watching and listening,
by the fiery, writhing fibrines of the phosphor, to know that the deep
and hollow breathing came from a figure in whom life was a monstrous
simulation, to feel that his confrontment by an Hercules or a Goliath
would as little quail his endevilled spirit as the dead are to be
terrified by the menaces of the living.

I watched with half-suffocated respiration. Since his outline was plain
it was sure mine was so likewise; but I could not distinguish that he
was looking towards the place where I stood, that is, in the middle of
the after bulkhead, a couple of paces from the foot of the bed, whither
I had backed on his entering.

He very softly closed the door, on which I drew myself up waiting for
the onslaught I was certain he designed, though when I considered what
thing it was I should be dealing with, the sense of my helplessness
came very near to breaking me down. Having closed the door he
approached the bed, and bent his head down as though listening; then,
with amazing swiftness, stabbed at the bed four times, each blow, with
the vehemence of it, making a distinct sound; after which he hung over
the bed with his arm uplifted and his head bent as though he would make
sure by listening that he had dispatched me. His figure was so plain
that it was as if you should cut out the shape of a man in black paper
and paste it upon a dull yellow ground. From the upraised hand I could
distinguish the projection of a knife or small sword not less than a
foot long. He was not apparently easily satisfied that I lay dead; for
he kept his menacing, hearkening posture while I could have counted
sixty; he then went lightly to the door, opened it and passed out.

Whether he walked in his sleep--and certainly his motions were those of
a somnambulist--or whether he was influenced by some condition of his
doom, of a character as unconjecturable as the manner in which vitality
was preserved among the crew, who were years and years ago dead in
time, I could not conceive; but, resolved to discover him if I could,
I followed on his heels, catching the door as it swung from his grasp;
but there was no need to close it nor slip a foot beyond the coaming;
for, the glimmer all about serving my sight, I saw him enter the cabin
opposite--that in which Van Vogelaar slept, whereby I knew who it was
that would have assassinated me that night had I slept when I lay down.

You will easily credit that this man had murdered sleep so far as I was
concerned. I would not go on deck, and I would not lie down either,
for what I had beheld had so wrought in my imagination that the mere
idea of resting upon the holes which the villain's blade had made in
the aged mattress filled me with horror. So for the rest of the night
I walked about the cabin or rested on the edge of the bed, praying for
daylight, and repeatedly commending myself to God; for, this being the
second time my life had been attempted by the same hand, I could not
question, if it was the will of Heaven this hideous cruise should be
prolonged, the third venture would be successful, and in the dreadful
loneliness and luminous blackness of that cabin I viewed myself as a
dead man, and could have wept with rage and grief when thinking of my
helplessness and of Imogene's fate.

However, I clearly saw that no good could attend my telling
Vanderdecken of his mate's hunger for my life. If Van Vogelaar had
walked in his sleep he would not know what he had done; he would
call me a liar for charging him with it, and I might count upon
Vanderdecken siding with him in any case. The Dutch are a less savage
people than they were, but in the age to which this ship's company
belonged they were the most inhuman people in Europe, perhaps in the
world, and such were the barbarities they were guilty of, that the
passage of two centuries--and it would be the same if it were the
passage of two hundred centuries--leaves their crimes as fresh and
smoking to God as the blood of their victims at the time of their being
done to death. Consider their treatment of sailors: how for a petty
theft they would proclaim a man infamous at the fore-mast; torture him
into confession by attaching heavy weights to his feet, running him
aloft, and then letting him fall; keel-haul him, that is, draw him
several times under the ship's keel; affix him to the mast by nailing
him to it by a knife passed through his hand; flog him to the extent
of three hundred to five hundred strokes, then pickle his bleeding
mangled back; fling him ironed into the hold: there half-starve him
till they met with a bare, barren, lonely rock upon which they would
set and leave him. Read how they treated the English at Amboyna! No!
I had the Dutch of the seventeenth century to deal with in these men,
not the Hollanders of my day, borrowing fine airs from the Germans and
sweetening their throats with French _à la mode_ phrases. But how to
escape them? There were moments when I paced my cabin like a madman and
with a madman's thoughts in me too.

I brought a haggard face with me to the breakfast table, and Imogene
surveyed me with an eye full of inquiry and anxiety. My thoughts,
acting with my wakefulness, had told, and I fancied that even
Vanderdecken suffered his gaze to rest upon me as though he marked a
change. Van Vogelaar's manner satisfied me that he had acted in his
sleep or under some spell that stupefied the understanding whilst it
gave the spirit full play, for he discovered nothing of that wonder and
terror which had been visible in him when I entered the cabin after his
former attempt to destroy me, which certainly had not been the case had
he quitted my bedside in the belief that I was dead of my wounds.

Vanderdecken talked of the fair wind; a sort of satisfaction
illuminated his sombre austerity; though his dignity was prodigious and
his commanding manner full of an haughty and forbidding sternness, he
was nevertheless politer to me than he had ever yet been, going to the
length of talking about the food on the table, the excellent quality of
the African Guinea fowl and bustard, recommending me to taste of a dish
of marmalade, and relating a story of a privateer having left behind
him, in a ship he had clapt aboard of, a number of boxes which seemed
to be full of marmalade, but which in reality were loaded with virgin
silver. But it was the fair wind that produced this civility, though
after last night's business 'twas welcome enough let the cause be what
it would.

No sooner had Imogene and I a chance of speaking alone than she asked
me what was the matter. I told her how Van Vogelaar had entered my
cabin and stabbed at my bed. She turned white; her beautiful eyes
grew large and bright with terror; she clasped her hands and for some
moments could not speak. Her agitation diminished, however, when she
understood that Van Vogelaar walked in his sleep, though she was still
very white when she cried: "If you had been sleeping when he entered
you would now be dead!"

I answered: "What he does in his sleep he may do awake. This action is
like the whispers of a dreamer, babbling out his conscience. It is in
his soul to kill me, and long thinking upon it has moved him to the
deed in his sleep."

"Oh, Geoffrey, did I not beg you to secure your door?"

"Ay--that shall be looked to in future, I warrant you. But why should
this man, of all the others, especially thirst for my life? How have I
wronged him?"

She replied by pointing out that the crew of my ship had fired upon
him; also that in the days of his natural life he was no doubt a
villain at heart and that all the features of his devilish nature
attended him through his doom; that being more jealous, rapacious and
avaricious than the others, he might regard my presence as a menace to
his share of the treasure, and hunger after my destruction; so that,
come what might, I should never be able to report the wealth that lay
in the ship's hold.

There was no doubt my darling was right, impossible as I found it
to reconcile these earthly and human passions and motives with his
supernatural being; and particularly the indifference he exhibited on
the previous evening when the Frenchman came running us aboard, with
his concern for his share in the gold, jewels and plate below. But I
had long abandoned all speculation concerning what I must term the
intellectual aspect of these miserable creatures. You will suppose that
we found a fruitful text in this mate's somnambulistic attack upon me,
and that we talked at great length about our chances of escape and the
necessity Van Vogelaar's malignant hate put me under of inventing some
method to deliver ourselves by, be the risks of it what they might. Yet
it was but talk.

Indeed, never did prisoners' outlook appear more hopeless. Compared to
this floating jail, compassed about by the mighty sea, the walls of a
citadel were as paper, the bars of a dungeon's window as packthread.
But the most bitter and invincible barrier of all was Captain
Vanderdecken's resolution to carry Imogene with him in this ship to



I did not, as I had told Imogene, need a second hint to secure my life
by night, however it might fall out with me in the day. By looking
about I met with a piece of ratline stuff which I hid in my cabin, and
when the night came I secured one end to the hook of the door, passing
the other end through the staple and then making it fast to my wrist;
so that, the door being shut, no one could enter without tweaking or
straining my arm with such violence as was sure to awake me.

Meanwhile the fair wind hung very steady, blowing about south, a
pleasant breeze that yielded a pure blue sky and small puff-shaped
clouds exceedingly white; the sea was also of a very lovely sapphire,
twinkling and sparkling in the north like a sheet of silver cloth set
a-trembling. The Braave stole along softly, with but little seething
and hissing noises about her now that her yards lay braced well in. I
would think whilst I watched her flowing sheets, the long bosoms of her
canvas swelling forwards with the slack bolt-ropes arched like a bow,
and the mizzen rounding from its lateen yard, backed by the skeleton
remains of the great poop lantern, that she needed but the bravery of
fresh paint, a new ancient, pennons and streamers, bright pettararoes
or swivels, glass for the lanterns and gilt for her galleries and beak,
to render her as picturesque and romantic a vessel as ever sailed in
that mighty procession, in whose van streamed the triumphant insignia
of the great Spanish, Dutch and Portuguese Admirals.

'Twas impossible to doubt that every man in the ship believed that he
was going home this time. There was an air of alacrity in them that
had never before been noticeable. They would look eagerly seawards over
the bows, gazing thus for long minutes at a time. Whenever the log was
hove I'd mark one or more inquire the speed of the men who had held
the reel or dragged in the line, as they went forward. They smoked
incessantly, with an air of dull and heavy satisfaction in their faces.

I observed a lifting, so to speak, of the stupor off Vanderdecken. His
trances--I mean those sudden fits of death-like insensibility which
I can only liken to cataleptic attacks--were few, whence I concluded
that his spirit, or whatever might be the nature of the essence that
owned his great and majestical frame for a tabernacle--had gathered
an increase of vitality from the invigorated hope and brisk desires
which the fair wind had raised. In Van Vogelaar I witnessed no change.
Possibly the dark shadows of my fears being on him held him gloomy and
malignant to my sight. Likewise, I was careful to keep a wide space
between us, save at meals, and never to have my back upon him, for to
be sure, if I was to be murdered by the rogue, it should not be for the
want of a bright look-out on my part.

This state of things continued for three days. A powerful current
runs to the westward in these seas, and adding its impulse to our
progress, I calculated that in those seventy-two hours we made not less
than an hundred and thirty-three leagues. As time passed my wonder
increased, for though I knew not our position, and never durst ask
Vanderdecken what situation his dead-reckoning assigned us, I could
not conceive--recollecting the place in which the Saracen was when we
sighted the Death Ship--that we had been blown, during the time I had
been on board, into a very remote sea; and hence 'twas reasonable that
I should think it wanted but a few days sailing after this pattern to
carry us round the Cape. Therefore I say my wonder grew, for whilst it
was impious to suppose that the Devil could contrive that this ship
should outwit the Sentence, yet our steady progress caused me to waver
in my faith in the stern assurance of the vessel's doom.

I would say to Imogene: "The breeze holds; see how steady is the look
of the southern sky! Is it possible that this wind will carry her

To which she would answer: "No, the change will come. Oh, Geoffrey, it
will come, though no more than the ship's length lay between her and
the limit which you believe the Curse has marked out for her upon this

Then I would agree with her. But afterwards, coming on deck in the
afternoon, or next morning, and finding the Death Ship pushing along,
her head pointing north-west, her sails full, the wake sliding away
astern in a satin smoothness, wonder and doubt would again possess me,
and twenty odd fancies occur, such as, "Suppose the Sentence has been
remitted! Suppose it be the Will of Heaven this ship should return to
Amsterdam, that a final expiation of Vanderdecken's wrong-doing might
be accomplished in his and his miserable crew's beholding with their
own eyes the extinction of those houses they had yearned for, and the
tombs--if aught of memorial in that way remain--of those hearts whose
beating they hoped to feel upon their own?"

Such thoughts would set me talking to Imogene.

"Conceive of this ship's arrival in the Texel! What consternation,
what astonishment would she arouse! What mighty crowds would flock to
view her!" And in the hurry and ardency of my imagination, I would go
on figuring the looks and behaviour of the people as our ghastly crew
stepped ashore, asking one and another after their wives and children,
those Alidas, Geertruidas, Titias, Emelies, Cornelias, Johannas,
Fedoras, Engelinas, and Christinas, and those Antonys, Hendricks, Jans,
Tjaarts, Lodewyks, Abrahams, Willems, Peters, and Fredericks, whose
very memory, let alone their dust, was as utterly gone as the ashes in
any pipe forward there when the fire had been tapped out of the bowl

During the night of the third day the wind held steadily. I left
the deck a little before midnight, having passed some hours of the
darkness in the company of my love, and our sails were then full with
the prosperous wind, the ship passing along over the quiet sea in a
great shadow, the stars very piercing, and the light of their colours
sharp and lovely; but on coming from my cabin next morning, I found the
breeze gone; the ship was rolling upon a swell coming with some power
from the westwards; and the dead cloths of the canvas striking a small
thunder into the motionless air as they beat against the masts with the
weary, monotonous swaying of those spars.

The change had come! The swell was full of foreboding; it was as
my heart had foreseen, spite of the wonder and inventions of my
imagination; but nevertheless, the perception of that polished sea
heaving into the dimness of the distant sky, the sight of the deadness
of the calm that had slued the Death Ship till her sprit-topsail veiled
and disclosed the oozing sun as she bowed with her beak pointing into
the east, brought a disappointment that sickened me to the soul.

"Great God," I cried within myself, "is this experience to end only
with my death!" and I entered the cabin in so melancholy a mood that I
could scarce hold up my head for the heaviness in my eyes and brain.

Imogene was alone. I kissed her hand and fondled it. She instantly
observed my depression, and said, gently, "I feared this calm would
dishearten you. But it was inevitable, dear. It was impossible a change
of some kind should be delayed."

"Yes, but it breaks me down to think of another long, soul-starving,
stormy drive into the south-east, another terrible spell of
Vanderdecken's savage manners--of Van Vogelaar's murderous attempts,
and of the hopelessness afterwards. Oh, my love! the hopelessness
afterwards!--when the weather breaks and the wind blows fair again.
Will it never end?"

She cast her eyes down with a swift motion of her finger to her lips.
I turned, as Vanderdecken approached. The darkness of his inward rage
lay heavy upon the folds of his brow; 'tis no exaggeration to apply to
his appearance the strong words of Beaumont:

  "There are a thousand furies in his looks,
  And in his deadly silence more loud horror
  Than, when in Hell, the tortur'd and tormentors
  Contend whose shrieks are greatest!"

He came without speaking to his chair, turning his fiery eyes from
Imogene to me without saluting us. A moment after Van Vogelaar arrived.

We took our places, but none spoke. One side-long look the mate darted
at me under his parchment-coloured lids, and malice and hate were
strong in it. I could see that Imogene was awed and terrified by the
captain's manner. You dreaded to hear him speak. His stillness was that
of a slowly ripening tempest and his sultry, forbidding, darkening
bearing seemed to thicken the very atmosphere about him till you drew
your breath with labour. He drank a silver cupfull of wine, but ate

The mate on the other hand plied his knife and fork with a surly
heartiness. For my part, I felt as though a mouthful must choke me;
yet I made out to eat that these men should not think I was afraid. I
believe Imogene would have gone to her cabin but for her anxiety to
support and encourage me, so to say, by her presence.

"What horrible curse do we carry in this ship," presently exclaimed
Vanderdecken, speaking with a hoarse muttering that had no note of
the familiar melodious richness, "that all winds which might blow us
westwards die before the meridian of Agulhas is reached? What is there
in these masts to poison the breeze? Do we spread sails woven in the
Devil's loom? Have we a Jonah among us?"

"Skipper!" cried Van Vogelaar, "Is it Herr Fenton, think you? Measure
the luck he carries by what hath happened since he has been in this
ship. Six days of storm!" He held up his fingers with a furious
gesture. "Twice, in a few hours, have our lives, our treasure, our
ship been imperilled! Note, now, this westerly swell, this stagnant
atmosphere, and a dimness in the west that will have grown into storm
and wind ere the afternoon watch be ended."

"He speaks to my prejudice," I exclaimed, addressing Vanderdecken;
"let him be candid. His tongue is injurious to the Hollander's love
of honour. Mynheer, consider: He talks of the six days of storm--that
weather had been brewed before my ship sighted yours. Of the English
man-of-war and the French pirate; why not of the wreck that yielded
you a bountiful store of needful things? He knows--as you do, Herr
Vanderdecken, that Englishmen--least of all English mariners--are not
among those who practise sorcery. This change is the concern of that
Being who has yet to judge this man. If he charges me with the control
of the elements, then, by the Majesty of Heaven, he basely lies even
in his rash and impious effort to do me, a weak and erring mortal,

With which I turned upon the villain and stared at him with eyes fuller
of more potent fury flashed into them by the rage of my healthy,
earthly manhood than could possibly possess him out of that dusty
sepulchre of his body which lived by the Curse alone. He shrunk away
from me, looking at his skipper.

"Captain Vanderdecken," broke in the sweet voice of Imogene, "you will
not let Herr Van Vogelaar's intemperate accusations influence your
love of justice. Herr Fenton is not accountable for this calm; 'tis
monstrous to suppose it. Charge me sooner with witchcraft; I have been
longer in this ship than he; in that time you have met many adverse
winds; and if his being an Englishman is his wrong, hold me also
answerable for the failure of your hopes, since I am English too!"

He looked at her, then at me, then back to her, and methought her
beauty coloured the stormy cloud of his expression with a light of its
own, not softening it, but robbing it somewhat of its terror. He moved
his lips, talking to himself, folded his arms and leaned back, staring
straight up at the deck.

I fancied by saying more yet I could mend my case, and would not meet
Imogene's eye for fear of being checked.

"Captain Vanderdecken, I am here as a shipwrecked man--dependent
upon your generosity as a fellow-being, of which you have given me
so abundant an illustration that my heart sinks when I consider that
I am too poor to make you any return saving in thanks. Had I tenfold
the powers your mate imputes to me, could I work you evil? Give me
the control of the wind, and such a gale would follow this ship that
you should be speedily counting the date of your arrival at Amsterdam
in hours. Is it reasonable that I should seek to delay this voyage?
I, who have but these clothes in which I stand--who am divorced from
my home--who am helpless and defenceless among the enemies of my
country--among men from whom I should have nothing to hope if they had
not long given the world to know that their generosity as foes is alone
equalled by their heroism as mariners!"

He had slowly turned his eyes upon me when I began to speak, and now
made a haughty gesture with his hand as if bidding me hold my peace.
And perhaps my conscience felt the rebuke, though he merely designed to
let me know that I had said enough; for, between ourselves, I had as
little opinion of Dutch generosity as I had of Dutch valour, and should
have despised myself for this flattering had I been talking to human

Happily nothing more came of the tempest that lay muzzled in the
captain's breast. Whether my standing up for myself, my heated manner
towards his mate, gave a new turn to his mood, he did not speak again
of the change of weather, and as speedily as ceremony would permit, I
got up, made my bow, and went on deck.

The appearance in the west was sullen enough, though merely with a
faintness there that was unrelieved by any edging or shouldering
outline of cloud. A few patches of vapour lay streaked along the sky,
otherwise the heavens hovered in an unstained hollow, but of a faded,
watery blue, unwholesome and with a sort of blindness of fog in it; and
up in the north-east hung the sun, shorn of his rays, a squeezed yet
uncompacted mass of dazzle, like as I have seen him show when setting
in a belt of vapour that has not entirely hid him, and casting a wake
as dim as burning oil. The swell had grown in weight even while we had
been breaking our fast. There being not the faintest draught of air
to steady the vessel--no, not so much as to put the most delicate
curl of shadow upon the heads of the muddy-blue, grease-smooth, liquid
roundings which came with a sulky brimming to the channels. She rolled
with stupid heaviness, her sails rattling like a discharge from great
ordnance, and a sort of song-like cries twanging out from the sharp
fierce strains put upon the shrouds and backstays, and many noises in
her hold. You would have thought that her huge round-tops and heavy
furniture of spar and rigging would have given some regularity to her
pendulous swaying: but the contrary was the case, her action being
so jerky, abrupt, and unforegatherable by the legs, that walking was

I passed the morning partly on deck, partly in the cabin, nearly all
the while in Imogene's society, Vanderdecken's passionate mood being
too vehement to suffer him to notice either me or my dearest. Indeed,
I sought the cabin chiefly to remove myself from his sight, for as
the weather darkened round his wrath mounted with it--visible in his
tempestuous stridings, and above all, in the flaming and cursing
eyes he would again and again level at the heavens; and I sometimes
felt that nothing less than my life might be the forfeit of my even
provoking his regard and constraining his attention to me in his
present satanic posture of mind.

When the dinner hour came, he fiercely ordered Prins to bring him
some drink on deck: he could not eat. All the morning he had been
directing his gaze into the south and north and east for any blurr of
the polished folds that should exhibit movement in the air in those
quarters; and from the undulating sea-line, which he searched in vain,
his eyes seemed to reel with the very sickness of wrath into the west
where, as I knew, the Curse was busy.

Imogene and I were as mute as images at table. We had agreed not to
utter a syllable whilst the mate was present, and some time before he
had finished his meal, we left the cabin for the quarter-deck, where
we sat hidden from Vanderdecken, who marched about the poop near the
tiller, with a tread whose echo rang through the solid deck, and with a
mien that made me ready to witness him at any minute repeat, waking and
sensible, the horrid blasphemous part he had performed in his sleep.

The faintness in the west deepened into thickness. The atmosphere grew
hot, and the fanning of the canvas that had before filled the decks
with chilling draughts became a refreshment. By two o'clock in the
afternoon the heads and shoulders of ponderous storm-clouds had shaped
themselves above the dingy blueish obscurity in the west; they jutted
up with a ghastly sheen of sickly bronze upon their peaks and brows
and made a very frightful appearance. You would have thought there was
a great motionless fold of heat suspended, viewless, in the middle
of the heavens, and that it was magnetically drawing up volumes of
black fumes from some pestilential land lying hidden behind the sea.
The strange light, rusty with the ominous storm-tinge, made the sea
appear round and hard, cheating the eye with the illusive complexion,
till the eastern sea-line looked thirty leagues distant, and not closer
westwards either, spite of its fading out in a jumble of ugly shadow
that way. The sky still had a dirty sort of blue where the sun went out
behind it, and I tell you 'twas scaring to find him sunk out of sight
in a kind of ether whose hue, deceptive as it was, caused it to look
clear enough for him to float in. It was in its way a sheer drowning of
the luminary, like the foundering of a flaming fabric in the sea.

The gloom stole gradually into darkness as though some giant hand
was warily drawing a sable curtain over our mastheads. Never did I
watch the growth of a storm with such awe as now filled me. To my
alarmed sight, the gathering seemed like an embodiment of the Curse
in dreadful, swelling, livid vapours, whose dull hectic, whose sallow
bronze glaring out of the murkiness, showed like the overflowing of the
blue and scarlet and sunlight fires pent up in those teeming surcharged
bosoms. My plain sense assured me that the tempest could not hold for
this Death Ship the menace that would render its aspect terrifying to
the mariner on board an earthly craft; yet it was impossible for my
instincts as a seaman to accommodate themselves to the supernatural
conditions which begirt me, and I found myself trembling for the safety
of the ship when I discovered that the tempest was suffered to grow
without an order being given to the men to shorten sail and prepare for

I left Imogene and stepped furtively along the quarter-deck to command
the poop, and saw Vanderdecken standing aft, surveying the storm with
his arms folded, his chin depressed, and his face staring out ashenly
against the gloom. I watched him for some minutes, but never once did
he stir. Arents and Van Vogelaar were on the other side of the deck,
leaning over the rail, gazing at God knows what, but never speaking as
I could be sure in the silence that rested upon the ship. The men hung
about in groups forward; mere cunningly devised shapes of human beings
without the faintest stir of restlessness among them. Many of them
smoked, and the pale wreaths went from their paler lips into the air
straight as staffs.

"Imogene, look at that sky!" I whispered, "did mortal ever behold the
like of it?"

'Twas two o'clock; a tempest-coloured twilight, in which the sails to
the flattened swell swayed like visionary wings grown languid with long
flight, and feebly hovering and almost noiselessly beating over the
ship; out of the gloom over the side came now and again the yearning
moan of water, foamlessly laving the bends and run of the vessel; in
each death-like pause you heard the silence tingling in the air with
the low phantasmal muttering of a weltering sea, a sound as of an
imagination of unreal breakers upon a faery shore.

With hands clasped upon my arm, my darling looked as I pointed. In
the extreme west the shade of the heavens was a sort of dismal slate,
and there was an incessant winking of lightning all about it, like a
mad dancing of stars of piercing brilliance; this enlarged into dense
masses of dark vapour streaked as sand is ribbed by the action of surf;
then zenith-wards was a space of faint green sky, very dim as though
beheld through smoke, and past this lay a floating body of thin vapour
thickening over our mastheads into an amazing appearance of clouds like
to the bush that shags the New Holland slopes, merging eastwards into
a vast array of clouds twisted into the aspect of whirlpools, and in
their brooding motionlessness resembling vortices suddenly arrested
when most madly gyrating. But this description, though imitated to the
life, conveys not the least idea of the horrid appearance of that sky,
for there is nothing in words to express the effect upon the mind of
the contrast of the several shades of colour all combinating to fill
the sea with a malignant hue, and the keen throbbing of the lightning
low down, the washing sweep of the sick and ghastly ocean into the
western dusk, the stooping soot of the vaporous maelstroms overhead,
only waiting, as it seemed, for some storm-signal to start off every
one of them into a very madness of revolution, boiling out into wet and
crimsoned tempests.

After a little all these appearances melted into one great cloud of
an indigo tint, ridged with layers of black vapour and blackening
into very midnight on the western seaboard where the lightning was
shooting. The sea had strangely flattened; the weighty swells which
had precoursed the growth of the storm had run away down the eastern
waters; it was as though the hot heaviness of the rising and spreading
blackness had pressed down the ocean into a smooth plain.

As not an order had yet been given, not a clewline nor a halyard
touched, I had made up my mind to presently behold an astonishing
exhibition of magic; that is to say, I was to witness a sudden violent
blast of storm strike this Death Ship with every sail she carried
abroad, and no harm to come to her from it. All at once there was
a great stroke of lightning that flashed up the heavy oppressive
obscurity, and the whole ship leapt to the eye in a blaze of emerald
fire. There fell a few huge drops of rain, covering the decks with
circles as big as saucers. A sullen shock of thunder boomed in a single
report out of the west, and then it was that the voice of Vanderdecken
rang out like a vibratory echo of the deep storm-note that had died

"Clew up the topsails and topgallant sails!"

"In sprit-sail and get the yard fore and aft!"

"Some hands this way and stow the mizzen!"

"Lower the main-yard and furl the sail!"

"Stand by to double reef the fore-course!"

These and other orders he delivered one by one, and they were repeated
by the two mates and the boatswain.

I cannot believe that any fantastic vision was ever wilder, stranger,
more impressive than the picture offered by the Death Ship when her
men went to work to snug her down. Their mechanically-moving shapes
hauling upon the ropes, running like shadows along the decks, vanishing
in the sullen, swarming thickness as they mounted the shrouds, every
man as silent as a spectre; the fitful trembling out of the whole
vessel to the white and green and violet glimmer of the yet distant
lightning; the dark sea dimly glancing into a kind of light, wan and
indeterminable as the sheen of stars in polished steel, under the play
of those western glitterings; the blackness overhead now settled down
to the eastern seaboard, over the horizon of which there yet hovered a
streak of dusty green--it was a spectacle to need the hand of Dante or

  Compar'd to these storms, Death is but a qualm,
  Hell somewhat lightsome, the Bermudas calm;
  Darkness, Light's eldest brother, his birthright
  Claims o'er the World!

It was as black as night. What the men were about, with what dispatch
they worked, it was impossible to see. No songs or cries came from them
to enable me to guess their movements. If ever Imogene and I exchanged
a word it was in a whisper, so heart subduing was the darkness and the
horrible element of suspense and uncertainty in it. I had her close
to the cabin-front under the poop, ready for the shelter of it at the
outburst. Ten minutes went by, and then it seemed to me as if a deeper
shade yet had penetrated the darkness. Suddenly, I heard a far-off
humming noise, a kind of growling sound, not to be likened to thunder,
though you seemed to catch the note of that too in the multitudinous
crying. It was as if the denizens of a thousand forests were flying
before the roaring of a tornado among the trees, every savage beast
raising its own savage cry as it went, the whole uproar so remote as to
resemble a mountain's reverberation of the horrible clamour leagues and
leagues distant inland.

"What is that?" cried Imogene.

Ere I could speak, the heavens were split in twain by a blast of
lightning that looked to fly like a dazzling shaft of flame from the
north sheer over our mastheads into the south. It was almost instantly
followed by a crash of thunder, ear-splitting as the explosion of the
batteries of a dozen first-rates all discharged at one moment. And then
fell the rain in a whole body of water, charged with hailstones as big
as pigeon's eggs. The fall raised such an uproar on our decks that you
looked to see the whole substantial fabric shattered by it. The surface
of the sea foamed in fire to that lashing of water and hail. There was
now a perpetual blaze of lightning, but the thunder merely deepened
the prodigious noise of the rushing wet without, its claps being
distinguishable in the dreadful tumult. We had immediately withdrawn to
the cabin, and closing the door, stood looking on through the window.
The decks were full of water, which, cascading through the ports and
all other freeing orifices, added its roaring to the other notes of the
tempest. The ship seemed on fire to as high as we could see with the
hellish and continual flaming of the lightning.

'Twas of several colours, and in the same breath you saw spars,
rigging, bulwark-rails, all blazing out as though lumined with brushes
dipped in blue and crimson, and star-white and yellow and dark violet

But no wind as yet; not a breath! That I could tell by the droop of
the fore-course hanging by its gear, and faintly fanning dark and wet
from its yard. But I knew it could not be far off. Those sounds I had
heard as of a thousand affrighted wild beasts were--my ear well knew
the noise--the echoings high in the middle air of a prodigious wind
bellowing as it swept the ocean into white rage. My heart beat swiftly;
all was so fearfully real that I could not grasp the supernatural
conditions of the life of this ship and crew, which had otherwise
assured me that the Curse that triumphed over the monarch Death must
be superior to the wildest hurricane that ever piled the ocean into

"Hark!" I exclaimed, "it is upon us!" and as I spoke the gale smote
us like a bolt from heaven, falling upon us with a long and frightful
scream and amid a volley of lightning that made the sky a blinding
purple dazzle from sea-line to sea-line. I held with both hands to
one side of the frame of the window, and Imogene, half-swooning with
terror, lay against me, nothing but my body saving her from being
dashed against the side of the cabin. Such was the sharpness of the
angle to which the first frenzy of the liberated hurricane heeled the
vessel, that for some minutes I veritably believed she was foundering.
The ocean boiled in a flat plain of froth, and the ship lay steady upon
the enraged whiteness, with the rail of her bulwarks under, and you
heard amid the seething and shrill shrieking of the wind, the sound
of the water pouring on to her decks over the upper and quarter-deck
and forecastle-rails, as the cataract thunders, coiling with a pure
head, over the edge of some rocky abrupt. If I had opened the door--if
indeed I could have taken action on that violent headlong steep of
deck--it would have merely been to drown the cabin and Imogene and
myself. There was nothing to be done but attend the issue, and for
several minutes, I say, I stood holding on, my dearest clasping me and
so supporting herself, scarce knowing whether the vessel was under
water or not, unable to speak for the horrible clamour without, the
lightning continuously holding the fabric visible through the window in
its mani-coloured blaze, and the enduring steadiness of the hull upon
the flat foam putting a terror into the situation you would not have
remarked in her labouring in a hollow sea.

Presently, to my great joy, I perceived that she was recovering her
upright posture. They had succeeded in getting her to pay off, and
after a little, giving her tall stem to the gale, she went before it
as upright as a church, the water on her decks pouring away overboard,
the piercing fury of the wind robbed to the extent of the velocity with
which the vessel drove, and no other sound rising up off the sea but
the amazing hissing of foam.

"Curse or no Curse," said I, "Vanderdecken knows his business as a
sailor, and call me a Dutchman if here has not been a noble stroke of

"Wy zyn al Verdomd!" said the parrot.



I never remember the like of such a storm as this in these seas, though
I have made the passage of the Cape four times and have met some
frightful weather off the great Agulhas Bank. Amazing suddenness and
violence in the first bursting of a storm you have reason to expect
in the inter-tropical regions eastwards of the African continent, but
not down here. Captain George Bonny, of the ship Elizabeth Tudor,
is the only person that I am acquainted with who has had experience
of so sudden a tempest as I have attempted to describe off this
African headland; and who is to say that he had not happened upon the
neighbourhood of the Death Ship and unwottingly tasted somewhat of
the doom of that vessel, whose passage over the limits of her fate the
storm the Elizabeth Tudor encountered was designed to furiously arrest?

Be this as it will. I passed from the cabin into as raging and
affrighting a scene as was ever witnessed in any ocean. The sky was
made unearthly by the flashes of lightning, whose blinding leaps seemed
to bring the blackness down like a wall upon the eyes, and if ever an
interval lasted long enough to suffer the light to resume its powers,
then you found that blackness horrible with the unspeakable shade
it took from the plain of boiling froth that stretched like a world
covered with snow to the sea-girdle, fading from startling, staring,
glaring whiteness around us into a pallid, ghastly dimness, where it
sank and melted into the levin-riven inky folds.

I struggled on to the poop and crawled on my hands and knees to the
little deck-house, against the foremost end of which I stationed
myself; and here I was protected from the rain and wind. Straight as
an arrow over the seething smother the Death Ship was running, and
her keel slided smooth as a sledge through the feathery surface. The
tempest lay like a red-hot iron sheet upon the waters, making it boil
and furiously hiss, but stifling all life of billow, ay, of ripple
even, out of it. The men had contrived to shorten sail down to the
double-reefed fore-course, and under that strip of curved and lifted
canvas--a steel-hard belly, black as a cloud against the white water
beyond the bows--the ship was driving, three men at the great tiller,
and others attending the tackles attached to it. With every blue or
green or yellow flash, you saw the rain sweeping along in crystal
lines, complexioned by the electric dartings, now like silver wire, now
as if the heavens were shedding blood. 'Twas like a sea of water in
the wind, and the shrill harsh singing of it above, and the vehement
sobbing of it upon the decks, were sounds of themselves amid the
universal shrieking and hissing. There was an incessant explosion of
thunder, sometimes right overhead, the echoes answering in volleys, and
the rattling sharper than the speaking of great guns in mountain scars
and hollows. The dazzling play made a fiery tapestry of the scene,
and the flying ship came and went in flames, leaping out of the black
tempest, then vanishing like a burning shape, eclipsed and revealed by
the speeding of sooty vapours.

Amid these fierce swift shinings I would catch sight of the towering
form of Vanderdecken standing at the mizzen-rigging, one hand on a
shroud or backstay, sloping his figure against the tempest and his
beard blown straight out before him. The others being abaft the little
house I could not see. The scene now did indeed astonishingly realise
the doubtful traditions which depicture the Flying Dutchman perpetually
sailing amid storm. Since I had been on board I had viewed her in
many conditions of weather; but though her supernatural qualities
and characteristics best appeared when they stole out to the faint,
waving silver of the moonshine trembling along the oil-like blackness
of a midnight calm, yet she could never be more impressive than when,
as she was now, fleeing like a witch driven mad by pursuing demons,
whose numbers darkened the heavens, the lightning streaming about her
like ordnance in Titanic hands fired to bring her to, all her rigging
in a scream as she ran, showing in the spaces of dusk betwixt the
flashes a great, black, phantasmal shape upon the floor of ringing and
frenzied whiteness which the tempest swept along with her, and which
broke not therefore in the lightest curl from her stern, nor yielded a
hand's-breadth of wake.

She was flying dead into the east, and every minute her keel passed
over as many fathoms of sea as would take her hours of plying to
recover. I frequently directed my eyes at Vanderdecken, suspecting his
wrath, and prepared for a tragical exhibition, whose furiousness should
be in awful correspondence with this insanity of sea and sky, but had
the life been struck out of him as he stood there his posture could not
have been more fixed and unmoving.

It was, however, impossible for such wind as this to blow many minutes
without raising a sea. The increased soaring and falling of the black
wing of canvas forward against the boiling that rose in a faintness of
spume and lustre of its own into the air denoted the gradual hollowing
of the water, and then no sooner had the talons of the storm succeeded
in scooping shallow troughs out of the levelness of foaming snow than
the surge grew magically. Every liquid side was shouldered by the
tempest into hills, and the hills swelled into such mountains as you
must come down into these seas to behold the like of. Half-an-hour
after the first of the hurricane the ship was plunging and laying along
amid a very cauldron of infuriate waters, scarcely visible amid the
fleecy fog of spray, heights of the sea reaching to her tops, spouting
their prodigious lengths alongside, sometimes tumbling in thunder upon
her forward decks, sometimes curling in blown snakings ahead of her.
Heavy as had been some of the hours of my first six days of storm,
the wildest of that time was but as a feather to the weight of this
tempest. The lightning ceased, and but for the evening that was now
descending, and that had put the shadow of night into the shade of the
storm, the heavens must have shown somewhat pale by the thinning of the
electrical vapour; but this scarce perceptible clearance did but leave
larger room for the wind, and it was now blowing with extraordinary
spite. It would be impossible for the ship to run long before the
swollen acclivities, whose foaming heads appeared to brush the black
ceiling under which they coursed as they arched in the wake of the
vessel's narrow stern, and methought they would have to bring her to
speedily if she was not to be pooped and swept and smothered.

Even whilst I thus considered, the tempestuous voice of Vanderdecken
swept in a roar along the deck.

"Settle away the fore-yard and secure the sail!"

"Some men aft here to the mizzen and show the foot of it as she rounds!"

'Twas more like the spiriting of canvas than the hands of men going
prosaically to work on jeers and clew-garnets when the fore-yard slowly
slided down to the bulwark-rails, and the sail was smothered as though
frapped by airy fingers forked out of the whirling dusk. Some of
the crew with glimmering faces came crawling aft, probing the solid
substance of the wind with figures bowing sheer into it, and all in
silence the helm was put down amid a sudden mad flogging of liberated
cloths aft, and the ship lying along gave her round bow and side to the
seas which flashed in storms of water over her as she met them to the
pressure of the hard-over rudder.

Once with the sea fair upon the bow, the ancient structure rose as
buoyantly as a wooden castle to the heave of the mighty surge, for all
her labouring with full decks and the veiling of her by clouds and
storms of spray. But had her situation looked to be one of frightful
and imminent peril, I must by this time have viewed it with unconcern.
The sense of the Curse that held the ship vital was strong in me. Out
of the first terrific blast of the hurricane 'twas odds if the newest
and stoutest ship could have emerged without damage, supposing she
had not been sunk outright; yet did this vessel survive that fearful
outfly, aged as she was. Not a yarn of her old ropes broken, nor a spar
nor yard, whose rottenness caused them to glow in the dark, sprung or
strained; more staunchly than could have been possible to her, even in
the hour of her launch, did she breast the great black seas which swept
her to their mountain-tops with yelling rigging and masts aslant, to
hurl her a breathless moment afterwards into stagnant valleys, echoing
the thunder of the gale that touched not their depths.

I quitted the deck and returned to Imogene in the cabin. The lighted
lamp swung wildly, and though the uproar of the tempest was muffled
below, yet the noise of straining was so great that I had to put my
lips close to my dear girl's ear to make myself heard. I gave her a
description of the sea, acquainted her with the posture in which the
ship lay, and told her that the incredible violence of the storm was
promise enough that it would not endure; though it was horrible to
think of the miles we had been forced to run into the eastwards, and of
the leagues off our course the drift of the ship, even in twelve hours,
would compel us to measure.

Prins came to inquire if we would eat. We answered "No." That evening
was the most dismal I had ever spent in the accursed ship. I held
my sweetheart's hand, and speech being, as I have said, as good as
impossible, I afflicted myself with a thousand miserable thoughts and
dark and ugly fancies. Great heaven! With what loathing did I regard
the sickly mask of the ship's side, the gloomy ovals, the ghastly
revelry of the lantern's colours flashing to the prodigious swinging of
the tempest-tossed fabric! And from time to time the parrot, affrighted
by the noises and by the dashing of her cage against the bulkhead,
burst suddenly out with her horrid croak of "Wy zyn al Verdomd!"

Neither Vanderdecken nor his mate came below. Nothing could better have
illustrated their ignorance of their true state than the anxieties
which held them to the deck in the heart of that raging wind. Their
solicitude might indeed deserve another name for the impious passions
which informed it, yet it had a character sailorly enough to make it
intelligible to human sympathy, and 'twas truly soul-subduing to sit
in that cabin and hear the uproar of the tormented waters without, the
outcry in the rigging, the straining and groaning below, and think
of those men--of Vanderdecken, at all events--watching his ship as
though Batavia were but six weeks distant and Amsterdam a certain port

At half-past nine Imogene withdrew. I led her to her cabin door,
tenderly kissed her, then returning called for a cup of spirits and
water and went to my sleeping place. I thought to have stayed a minute
on deck to look about me, but the wind came with so much fury of wet
in it that, having no mind to turn in with drenched clothes, I hastily
raised the hatch and dropped below. I believe I lay awake the greater
part of the night. My memory is not clear owing to the confusion
my brain was in. It was not only a feeling akin to conviction that
my fate was sealed, that my dearest and I were never to be rescued
nor suffered to deliver ourselves from this Death Ship, though to
be sure such apprehensions, so keen and fierce, might have caused a
stouter mind than mine to fall distraught, the movements of the ship
were so excessive, being very high, light and broad, and the seas so
extraordinarily hollow, that, without disordering me with sickness,
they wrought an alarming giddiness in me, and I lay as one in a sort of

In some such condition as this I languished, I believe, through the
greater part of the night, but contrived to snatch sleep enough to
refresh me, so that when I awoke I felt better, the dizziness gone
and with it something of the distress of mind. The action of the ship
showed that the gale was considerably abated, but I had no sooner
my senses than I took notice of an unusual sound, like a slow and
measured beating in the ship, as though some stout fellow with a heavy
mallet regularly struck a hollow object in the hold. This excited my
curiosity, and I went on deck. The moment my head was through the hatch
I saw what produced the noise. The men were pumping. There was but one
pump seemingly that would work, and this four seamen were plying, the
water gushing freely from the pipe and washing away overboard through
the scuppers.

The old engine made so melancholy and uncommon a sound that I might
have lain a week in my bed speculating upon it, without even hitting
the truth. I took notice that the water came up clear and bright as
glass, a sure sign that it was entering freely. A sullen shade still
hung in the weather, the sky was of slate, with a small scud flying
under it of the hue of sulphur, but the breeze was no more than a fresh
gale of which we were making a fair wind, the yards braced very nearly
square, and the Braave sulkily swinging through it with a noise of
boiling at her bows.

I was not a little excited by this combination of glass-bright gushing
and square yards, and after going forward for the comfort and sweetness
of a canvas bucketful of salt water foaming like champagne as I lifted
it out of the snow-flaked, dark-green surge, I walked on to the poop,
where stood Arents alone, and stepped up to the binnacle. The card
made a west-north-west course, the wind on the larboard quarter. I
ran my eye over the sea, but the olive-complexioned hue worked with
a sulky sinuosity naked against the livid shadow, and the deep looked
indescribably gloomy and swollen and confused, though the sun had been
risen above half-an-hour. Arents was not a man I held in awe, albeit
many might have deemed his unearthly pallor more dreadful than most
of the others because of the great breadth of fat and hairless face
it overlay; yet I was determined not to question him lest he should
repulse me. I therefore contented myself with a short salute and lay
over the rail watching the swollen bodies of water and wondering what
plan Vanderdecken was now upon, until the chimes of the clock in the
cabin made me know it was breakfast time.

The captain came to the table with a stern and bitter expression in
his countenance. It was possible he had been on deck throughout the
greater part of the night, but he exhibited no trace of the fatigue you
would expect to see in one that was of this earth. Methought, as I
glanced at him, that sleep must be a mockery to these men, who, being
deathless, stood in no need of that repose which counterfeiting death,
reinvigorates our perishable frame every morning with a quickening as
of a resurrection. What has one to whom the grave is denied to do with
slumber? Yet if a whiter pallor was possible in Vanderdecken I fancied
I witnessed it in him now. His eyes were angry and bright; the skin
of his forehead lay in folds upon his heavy brows, and yet there was
the stillness of a vitality, numbed or blasted by disappointment or
exhausted by passion, in his manner.

Van Vogelaar did not arrive, maybe he was sleeping, with Arents' leave,
well into his watch on deck. Imogene had a wan and drooping look. She
answered my concerned gaze by saying she had not slept, and she smiled
as she spoke, but never more sadly to my knowledge; it seemed but as a
light playing over and revealing her melancholy. Lovely she appeared,
but too fragile for my peace, and with too much of the sorrowful
sweetness of the moon-lily when it hangs down its white beauty and
contracts its milky petals into leanness with the waning of the silver
orb it takes its name from.

Suddenly she pricked her ears. "What is that sound?" she exclaimed, in

"It is the seamen pumping the water out of the ship," I replied.

"Strange!" she said. "Long before dawn I heard it indistinctly and have
ever since been listening to it with a languid, drowsy wonder, not
imagining its nature. It has been working continuously. Is there water
in the ship?"

"I have not dared inquire," I answered, with a side-long look at
Vanderdecken, who ate mechanically without heeding us.

"Captain," she said, softly, touching him on the arm with her hand,
which glittered with his jewels, "the men have been pumping for some
hours--why? Will you tell me?"

He brought his eyes slowly to hers with a blank look that caused her to
repeat her question.

Whereupon he answered: "The heavy working of the ship in the small
hours has caused her to start a butt or hidden end."

"She is leaking?"

He answered: "Yes, my child."

"Can the leak be stopped?" she asked, encouraged to these questions by
my glances.

"No, 'tis below her water-line. But it does not gain. Continuous
pumping keeps the water level. We shall have to careen to get at the

"Are we sailing to the coast?" she asked.

"Yes," he answered.



On hearing that we were sailing to the coast my delight was so keen
that I came near to suffocating myself by the sudden checking of
the shout of joy that rose to my throat like an hysteric throttling
thickness in the windpipe. To be sure, had anyone asked what there was
in the news to fill me with this transport I should not have been able
to offer a sufficient reason, for it was not as though Vanderdecken
meant to steer for a port. I was sensible that he would head for some
desolate bay upon a hot shore of sand, backed by great mountains,
and leagues distant from any settlement, whether Dutch or British.
Yet so great had been the depression excited by the tempest and the
barrenness of our chances, that the mere circumstance of a change
having come about, the mere happening of a departure from our rueful
business of beating to the windward, raised my spirits to a very great
height; nor must it be forgotten that though I conjectured in darkness,
I had for a long time felt persuaded that if ever we were to remove
ourselves from the Death Ship, the only opportunity that could offer
would attend our dropping anchor off the African Coast.

I will not say that Vanderdecken did not observe the change in my
countenance when he made his answer to Imogene. But whatever might have
been his reflections they were concealed by his frowning brow and the
dark and stormy shadow of passion upon his face. He ceased to speak
when she ceased to question, and went on deck without calling for his
usual pipe of tobacco, which was a very remarkable illustration in him
of his wrath and concern.

"Dearest," said I, going to Imogene's side, "it has been a dark and
cheerless night with you I fear. Would to God it were this day in my
power to give redness to the roses that now lie white in your cheeks.
Yet this is great news that Vanderdecken has given us."

She smiled in a questioning way.

"Why," said I, answering her, "'tis very certain that we shall never
escape from this Death Ship whilst she sails the seas. But though I
could not here say for the life of me what the land may do for us, I
feel that the coming to an anchor close to it may give us a chance, and
it will go hard indeed if a sailor's cunning, sharpened by despair,
does not contrive some remedy for this horrible enthralment."

She mused a little and said, "Geoffrey, I have made up my mind to this:
if you can carry me away with you I will go--whatever resolution you
may form will be mine, as shall be your fortune. But, dearest," says
she, smiling to my grasp of her hand, "I am also determined that your
liberty shall not depend upon my escape; if you are able to get away
alone, but not with me, then I stay."

"Ah!" said I, shaking my head, "your gaze cannot have sunk very deep
into me or you would not talk thus."

She put her finger upon my lip. "Geoffrey, consider this. You are
a man, you are young, the world is before you, liberty is your
precious jewel--nay, you have a home and a mother to return to. I am
an orphan--lonely in this great world of water as any sea-bird that
solitarily follows our ship. I sometimes feel that there is a cold hand
on my heart and that my time is not long. If it is to be my destiny to
remain in this vessel, I am too certain of a short residence to fear

She stopped suddenly and wept.

We were alone, and I took her in my arms. I saw how it was with her,
how the fear of the tempest, how sleeplessness, had wrought in her
delicate health and depressed her powers, and I comforted and cherished
her as my heart's love best knew how; yet her foreboding concerning
her time in this world struck a chill into my blood, for it just then
found solemn accentuation in her unusual pallor, her languid eyelids,
the sadness of her smile, her low voice and tears.

However, I borrowed comfort from the reflection that the health of the
heartiest maiden might well fail in such an existence as this girl
passed, spite of the wine-like invigoration of the salt winds; that she
had survived hard upon five years of experiences so wild and amazing
that a few weeks had tended not a little to pale my own face and even
rob me of something of my manhood; that it was inevitable she should
break down from time to time, but that her sweetness would soon bloom
and be coloured into a loveliness of health when this Death Ship had
become a thing of the past, and when I had safely lodged her as my
bride in my mother's pretty home, with flower-gardens and fields to
wander in, upon floors unrocked by billows, in rooms irradiated at
night by fires never more mystical than the soft flame of oil or the
silver of star and moonshine.

The weather brightened as the day advanced. By noon the sky had broken
into lagoons of blue, with fine large clouds that rained here and there
upon the horizon and filled the air down there with broken shafts of
rainbow, like to windgalls, only that the colours were very sharp
and even glorious. There was now plenty of sunshine to give life and
splendour to the ocean, whose dye of azure looked the purer and more
sparkling for its cleansing by the great wind and rain and fire-bolts
of the past night. The swell of the sea was from the southward, no
longer a turbulent movement, but a regular respiratory action, with
weight and volume yet that made you think of the deep as a sentient
thing, with something of the violence of its hellish conflict yet
lurking in its rhythmic breathing.

About this hour a number of whales showed their black, wet backs at
the distance of a mile. The sunshine turned their spoutings into very
beautiful fountains, which fell in showers of diamonds and rubies and
emeralds; and their great shapes and solemn movements, with now and
again the dive of one with a breathless lingering of tail that showed
like a gigantic fan of ebony, or the rise of another, floating its
sparkling blackness above the violet fold of a brimming swell, as
though a little island had been hove to the surface by some deep-sea
convulsion, afforded Imogene and me some twenty minutes of very
agreeable diversion. The wind was a trifle to the southward of west, a
brisk breeze, and the ship swarmed and swirled and rolled along at a
speed of some five or six marine miles in the hour, every cloth abroad
and already dried into its usual dingy staring tones. But the pump was
worked without intermission. The clanging of the brake upon its pin,
the gushing of the bright water flowing to the scuppers and flooding
the deck thereabouts with every roll, the hissing of the slender
cascades over the side, grew into sounds as familiar as the creaking
of the bulkheads, or the cries of the rudder upon its ancient rusty

Those pumping gangs made a strange, mysterious sight. They toiled, but
their labour was not that of living seamen who change their posture
again and again, who let go an instant with one hand to smear the
sweat from their brows or to bite an end of tobacco, who break into
choruses as they ply their arms or growl out curses upon this hardest
of marine tasks, or raise a cheerful call of encouragement one to
another. There was the same soullessness in this as in all else they
did. No dew was distilled from their death-like faces. Once at the
pump they never shifted their attitudes. A seaman of seventy, and
perhaps older yet, would work side by side with one of twenty years,
and at the end of the hour's labour--for each gang was relieved every
hour--the aged sailor would exhibit no more fatigue than the younger
one. Their aspects came out startlingly as they stood close together,
their countenances bearing expressions as undeterminable as the faint
smile or the dim frown of horror or the slumberous placidity on the
features of the dead; and never was the sense of the wild conjecture of
the Saracen's mad captain so borne into me as when I viewed one group
after another coming to this pumping business, and contrasted their
faces and perceived how every man--young, middle-aged and old--showed
in dreadful vitality the appearance he would have offered at the hour
of his death, no matter his years, had the Curse not stood between him
and the grave.

That afternoon, happening to be alone on the poop--I mean, without
Imogene--for when she was absent I was more alone, though the whole of
that ship's grisly company had gathered around me, than ever I could
have been if marooned on some mid-ocean rock--and listening a little to
the monotonous beat of the pump-gear, a thought came into my head and
I stepped over to Vanderdecken, who leaned upon the weather-rail, his
chin upon his hand.

"Mynheer," said I, "I ask your pardon for breaking in upon you. The
labour of pumping is severe--I know it from several stern experiences."
He lifted his head and slowly looked round to me. "This ship," I
continued, "has rescued me from death and proved an asylum to me. 'Tis
but right I should share in the general toil. Suffer me then, mynheer,
to take my turn at the pump with the others."

He eyed me a little with his wonderful fiery gaze, and answered: "It
is not necessary. Our company is numerous, there are hands enough.
Besides, sir, there is no urgency, the water doth not gain if it do not

I bowed, and was leaving him, but he added: "I fear you have but an
imperfect knowledge of the character of the Dutch. Yet you tell me you
have often visited Rotterdam."

"It is true, mynheer, but only as a sailor liberated o' nights and
forced therefore to form his judgment on such company as the ale-house

"That seems so," said he, "otherwise you would suspect from such
treatment as we have shown you that we regard you as a guest, and it is
not customary among us to use our guests as labourers."

I bowed again, contenting myself with merely thinking how, as a guest,
I went in fear of my life--to say no more. I thought, however, I
would use his seeming willingness to converse with me, and said in as
deferential a manner as I could command, "Sir, the mere circumstance
of my being your guest should properly teach me to believe that a time
must come when I shall have wearied your courtesy by imposing too great
a burden of my company upon it."

I paused, hoping he would make haste to assure me to the contrary; but
he did not speak, merely eyeing me steadfastly.

"You will therefore judge, mynheer," I continued, "that I am actuated
by no idle motive of curiosity in asking you whether your present
design is to steer the ship to a port?"

"To what port?" he exclaimed.

I told him I did not know.

"Nor I," said he. "What settlement is there on this seaboard? You do
not suppose that, with yonder pump going day and night, I should be
willing to head for any other point of the coast than the nearest bay
in which to careen and get at the leak?"

"Will that bay, mynheer," said I, still speaking with the utmost
modesty and deference, "be far distant?"

He answered: "It lies a few miles south of the parallel of thirty-four
degrees. To reach it we shall have to sail an hundred and eighty

"Five hundred and forty miles!" I exclaimed, with an involuntary
dejected glance aloft and at the passing water. "At this rate of
progress, sir, the passage will occupy about five days."

Our gaze met as I said this and I observed a sudden fire in his eyes.

"Does the execution of any project you have in your mind depend upon
the time we will take in reaching the coast?" said he, with suspicion
sounding fiercely in the rich deep notes of his utterance.

I felt the blood in my face as I answered: "Mynheer, I have no project.
Methought, if you sailed to a port, you would rid yourself of my
company. I have been long in your ship; every day increases my sense
of trespass----" which said, I broke off, being really dismayed by
the passionate fixity of his regard. Such a searching for the heart
in one's face was unbearable. My imagination, perhaps my conscience,
imparted a wizard-like power to his burning eyes, and I felt that
if I lingered, I should be constrained into a revelation of my
intention to escape with Imogene, as certain birds are fascinated into
motionlessness and charmed to their devourment by the gaze of serpents.
With the abruptness of alarm I bowed and left him. As I walked I could
feel that his searching, scorching gaze followed me.

However, it was something to have found out our whereabouts, to have
gathered his intention, and to be able to calculate the time of our
arrival off the coast. On this I plumed myself, making pretty sure that
if my questions had caused him to suspect some project in my mind, his
memory would loose its hold of the thing after a few hours. But I was
mistaken, as you shall now see.

Whilst we were seated at the last meal, and with us in that Death Ship
formed of soup or wine for drink, and such victuals as remained from
dinner, I observed a peculiar air of distress and anxiety in Imogene's
face. I do not know that she made the least effort to disguise it.
A sharp gleam of resentment would sparkle in the soft violet depths
of her eyes as she now and then turned them on Van Vogelaar or
Vanderdecken, and then as they came to me they would soften into an
exquisite wistfulness that was very near to a look of grievous pain.

On the captain filling his pipe I went on deck and stood out of
sight of the cabin on the poop-front, wondering what Imogene's manner
signified. Presently she joined me.

The sun was gone down; the stars shone singly or in clouds of bright
dust over our northward-pointing bowsprit, and the air was soft and
faint with the delicate light of the moon that was drawing out of her
first quarter, and that could now rain her pearls with power into the
dark waters under her.

"What is amiss, dearest?" said I, taking her hand in mine, and moved
in a way I could not give expression to by the pallor of her face,
her eyes showing large and dark, the paleness of lip and hair and
throat--her whole countenance, yes and her figure too; stealing out
of their realness into an elfin-like unsubstantiality to the wan
complexion of the moon.

She answered: "Did not I tell you I was sorry you had questioned
Vanderdecken? He is full of suspicion, and there is always Van
Vogelaar at hand to exasperate his captain's temper and fancies by the
poison of his own reptile-nature."

"Has Vanderdecken spoken to you of my questions?"

"No," she replied. "What has happened is this:--Half-an-hour before
supper I was in my cabin. The air was close, and I put the door on the
hook and was near it combing my hair. Vanderdecken came into the cabin
and spoke to Prins. Soon afterwards Van Vogelaar entered, and told the
captain that he had been among the crew and informed them that he hoped
to make the coast in four or five days, and that on their arrival at
Amsterdam they would receive additional pay for their labour at the
pump. They talked a little, but I should not have heeded them had not
I suddenly caught the sound of your name. On this I left off combing
my hair and crept close to the door. Vanderdecken said: 'I believe he
hath some scheme. He shrunk from my gaze and the colour mounted to his
cheeks. He quitted me with the air of one whose conscience is like an
exposed nerve.'"

"Heaven defend us!" I exclaimed, "your true Dutchman is very fit to be
a hangman. Yet this unholy creature did certainly look at me to some
purpose. 'Twas time I walked off!"

She continued: "Van Vogelaar answered, 'I would not trust that man
further away from me than my hand could seize him. Skipper, I ask
your pardon, but was it wise, think you, to exhibit samples of the
treasure below to this Englishman? There is a noble fortune for him
in those chests could he but come at them. What sort of egg is that
which, beyond question, his mind is sitting upon, and that will be
presently hatched? He is eager to learn your intentions. He manifests
this eagerness in defiance of the contempt and anger with which you
have again and again crushed down his curiosity into the silence of
terror. Suppose he hath some plot to secure the stranding of this
ship; or that he intends her a mischief that shall force us to beach
and perhaps abandon her? He is a sailor and an Englishman; we are
Hollanders! Skipper, the like of that man needs no help from sorcery
to contrive our ruin.' Vanderdecken answered, 'He must be got rid of,'
in a voice that showed how Van Vogelaar's talk worked in him. I did
not need to look, Geoffrey, to know what sort of expression his face
wore. They were silent awhile. Vanderdecken then said: 'Twould be
mere barbarous, useless murder to take his life; there is no evidence
against him. But we have a right to protect ourselves since he hath
been mad and ungenerous enough to raise our suspicions----' Van
Vogelaar interrupted: ''Tis more than suspicion--'tis conviction with
me, skipper----' 'This occurs to me as a remedy,' said Vanderdecken:
'he must be set ashore before we sail; but he shall not be left to
starve. A musket and ammunition will provide him with food, and he
shall have a week's provisions. He is young, and with stout legs, and
cannot miss his way to our Settlement if he hold steadfastly to the
coast.' The mate said, 'Ay, that will be dismissing him lovingly.' They
then went to the other end of the cabin and talked, but I could not
hear them."

"It would be barbarous, useless murder," I cried, "to hang, or stab or
drown me, but kindness, nay, lovingness, to set me ashore with a week's
provisions and a fowling-piece, to give me a night to be torn to pieces
in by wild beasts, or a week to be enslaved by the Homadods, or a month
to perish of hunger! The villains! Is this to be their usage of me?"

"Geoffrey, if they put you on shore I will follow. The future that is
good enough for you is good enough for me. And, indeed, I would rather
die a hard death on shore than be left to miserably live with men
capable of cruelly destroying you."

I reflected a little, and said, "Their resolution keeps me safe for
the present, at all events. If I am to be marooned they will let me
alone meanwhile. Therefore I consider that their determination greatly
improves our chances.... No! there is nothing in their intention to
scare me. I like their meaning so well that our prayer to God must be
that Vanderdecken may not change his mind."

She was at a loss to understand me until I pointed out that, as I
gathered from her report, they would not send me ashore until just
before they were about to sail, so that I should have plenty of time to
look about me and consider the surest method of escaping, whilst the
ship was being careened and the leak repaired and the vessel in other
ways doctored.

"And, dearest," said I, "it has come to this with you, too: that sooner
than remain with these fierce and dreadful people you will take your
chance of that African coast you so greatly feared."

"I will share your fortune, Geoffrey, be it life or death--let come
what will," said she, nestling close and looking up at me out of the
phantom faintness of her face with her large eyes in whose liquid
darkness the moon was reflected in two stars.

"My precious one! I could not leave thee! If the terrors of the
shore--the fears of the savage, the wild beast, the poisonous
serpent--triumphed over your desire of escape, I would remain with
you, Imogene, if they would let me. 'Twould be a hard fate for us
both, dearest, to wear out our lives in this ship. But we cannot be
parted--not of our own will, at least, however God may deal with us,
or the knife or yard-arm halter of these villains. Wherever you are I
must be----"

"Yes!" she cried, passionately.

"It may not indeed come to our delivering ourselves by using the coast.
Another scheme is in my head, though of it I will say nothing, since
too much of fortune must enter it to fit it for cold deliberation. But
it may end in our escaping to the land and lurking there in hiding
till the ship sails. And it makes my heart feel bold, Imogene, to hear
you say that sooner than languish and miserably end your days in this
accursed fabric you will dare with me the natural perils of that shore."

And I say this: that had I been sure our life would prove the forfeit
of attempting to escape by the coast, I would have welcomed death
for her and myself sooner than live to think of her locked up in
this detested ship, passing the long horrid days in the society of
unearthly men condemned of Heaven, and stealthily weeping away her
heart at the thought of our severance.



But for Imogene having overheard his conversation with Van Vogelaar,
I should never have been able to guess that there was any change
in Vanderdecken's resolution respecting me; I mean any change in
his intention to carry me to Europe in his ship. There was the same
uniformity in the variety of his moods; he was sullen, haughty, morose,
often insanely fierce, sometimes talkative, then falling into trances,
in all such exhibitions as heretofore. In Van Vogelaar, however, there
was a slight alteration. At moments I caught him peering at me with a
look in his eyes that might have answered very well as a dark malicious
merriment of soul of which the countenance was capable of expressing
the villainous qualities only, I mean, not the mirth also. Sometimes he
would make as though to converse; but this I cut short, repelling him
very fearlessly now that I understood his and his captain's plans, and
that I had nothing to fear this side the execution of it.

On my side, I was extremely wary, walking cautiously in all I said and
did, and never venturing a remark to Imogene, even when we had reason
to believe we were absolutely alone, without sinking my voice after
a careful probing glance around as if I expected to see an human ear
standing out on any beam or bulkhead my sight went to.

I busied myself in certain preparations in which I got Imogene to
help me. Since, in any case, our escape to the land would have to be
profoundly secret, 'twas necessary we should get ready a small stock
of food to carry away with us, and I told Imogene to make some bags
out of the stoutest stuff she could come at to store it in, and to
privately convey to me such provisions as I indicated, which she, as
well as I, was to secrete when alone, during Prins' absence, when the
table was prepared.

I said: "You have needles and thread?" for she had told me that some
of the apparel Vanderdecken lent or gave her she had been obliged to
alter. "We shall require three or four bags. Linen will do for the

"There is plenty of linen," said she. "I will make the bags. But what
is your project, Geoffrey? Tell me your full scheme--I may be able to
put something to it."

"I have two schemes," I answered: "but I will speak only of the one
that concerns the shore. Vanderdecken is sure to bring up close to the
land; I have little doubt of being able to swim the distance, and shall
make a small frame of wood to sit about your waist on which you will
float when I lower you into the water, and then I shall softly let
myself down and tow you to the land by swimming."

I thought to see her countenance change, but she regarded me
fearlessly, indeed with an emotion as of triumph colouring her face.

"How am I to enter the water?" she asked.

"I will lower you from the quarter-gallery outside your cabin," I
replied, "the height is not great. The blackness under the counter will
hide you, and I shall contrive to float us both away very quietly."

She said, gazing at me fondly and smiling: "Everything is feasible so
far, Geoffrey. But now imagine us arrived on shore."

"I must carry you as far as your strength will suffer," I replied. "Of
course, Vanderdecken will send in pursuit of us, but there should be
no lack of dense vegetation full of hiding places. Yet in this as in
all other things, my dearest, we must rely upon God's help. That given
there is nothing to fear; denied--then it would be better for me if I
threw myself overboard at once."

"Geoffrey," she said, "I do not question you, dear heart, for dread of
what we may encounter, but merely that by letting your plans lie in my
mind my girlish spirit may grow used to them and unswervingly help you
when the time comes."

"Brave little woman!" I cried, "do not believe I could misjudge you.
You would ask me what is to follow when this vessel quits the coast and
leaves us alone there? How can I answer? We must attempt what others
have successfully achieved, and struggle onwards to some settlement. I
know--I know, my darling, that the outlook is black and affrighting.
But consider what our choice signifies; the fate that awaits us if you
remain and I am marooned; or the chances--meagre indeed, but chances,
nevertheless--which offer if we escape to the land. And we shall be
together, dearest!"

I kissed her brow, and her love leapt in her to my impassioned
greeting; beautiful as she was, yet did she appear transfigured by
the rich hue in her cheeks, her smile, the sparkle of her chaste and
maidenly joy in the dark heaven of her eyes. Call me not cruel for thus
deliberately preparing to bring her face to face with the horrors of
the African coast--with those barbarous features which her heart had
long ago recoiled from the mere thought of. She was my sweetheart--my
affianced--my life's blood. Oh! how dear to me for her beauty, her
sweetness, her passion for me, the miracle of our meeting, her
loneliness under the sun and stars of the mighty Southern Ocean, amid
shapes more spectral than ghosts, more horrible with their survival of
human vices than had they been dead bodies quickened into life without
soul or brain.

How could I leave her? How could I endure the idea of my being forced
ashore--alone--and of her sailing away forever from me in this
grisly company? I had considered all these things; how if we gained
the beach she would have to walk, as far as her limbs suffered, in
drenched clothes and her delicate flesh chilled to the bone; how in
our hiding-place the dews of a deadly climate would fall upon her by
night, with creeping abominations of reptile and vermin swarming in the
tangle where she lay--enough! I say that all perils which experience
or imagination could crowd into such a deliverance as that I had in my
mind and was steadfastly working out had been present to me from the
beginning--but to what purpose? Only to make me feel with the power of
every instinct, with the impulse and strength of all-influencing and
heated passions, that my fortune must be hers and that we could not

A sailor will wonder perhaps to hear me speak of three or four bags
of provisions, and wonder also that I should not see that if there
was the least movement in the water when I lowered Imogene with these
bags about her into it, the provisions would be spoiled by the wet.
But 'tis proper to say here that this proposal to float her in a frame
and tow her ashore by swimming was but an alternative scheme which, at
all hazards, I would go through with, if the other and less perilous
venture should prove impracticable, and in case this should be so, I
said nothing to her about it, that by her growing accustomed to the
dismal and dangerous project she would not tremble and shrink if it
came, as I feared it might, to our having to escape ashore. Three small
bags secured about my darling's shoulders, well out of the water, were
less likely to be wetted than one big one that must needs hang low,
trice it as I might; and anyway the three would be as good as one, let
the manner of our escape be what it would.

She made me these bags, and I hid them in my cabin, along with some
biscuit which had been taken from the wreck, a few pieces of salted
meat cooked, a small jar of flour, a little silver cup for drinking,
and other compact and portable things, such as the flat banana cakes
the cook sent to the cabin, a bottle of marmalade of the size of a
small pickle jar, and the like. These things she and I took from the
table by degrees, and they were not missed. I would have given a finger
for a musket and powder and balls; but if there was an arms-chest on
board neither she nor I knew where to find it. And suppose it had been
possible to me to have secreted a musket--what they used, I believe,
for shooting game and cattle were match-locks with barrels about three
and a half feet long, and the bore of the bigness of a horse-pistol,
and cartridges in small hollow canes, each holding a charge of
powder--ammunition was not to be had without asking.

She stitched me four bags, but three I found when loaded would be as
heavy a load as it was prudent to put upon her; because when I came to
look about me for wood for a frame for her to float in I could only
meet with five small pieces, and even the purloining of these was
attended with prodigious anxiety and trouble, as you will judge when
I say that to get them I had to watch till I was unobserved and then
kick a piece, as if by accident, under a gun, or to any corner where it
might lie until I could carry it below under cover of the night.

All these things I hid under the bed-place in my cabin, where I had
very little fear of their being found; for the good reason that, to my
knowledge, no one ever entered the berth.

Meanwhile, the wind held bravely, with--on the third day--but a few
hours of stagnant atmosphere and a flat and brilliant sea, followed
by a shift into the westward of south that worked into a hearty
wind, before which the Death Ship drove under all cloths, the clear
water gushing from her scuppers to the clanking and spouting of her
pump. Bearing in mind our situation after the tempest, as given me
by Vanderdecken, and narrowly, if furtively, observing the courses
we made, I kept a dead reckoning of our progress--for by this time I
could measure the vessel's pace with my eye as correctly as ever the
log could give it--and when the fifth day arrived I knew that at eight
o'clock that morning either we were some twelve leagues distant from
the African coast or that Vanderdecken was amazingly wrong in his

My excitement bade fair to master me. It needed a power of will such
as I could never have supposed I possessed to subdue my demeanour to
that posture of calmness which the captain and his mates were used to
see in me. Happily, Imogene was at hand to control any exhibition of
impatience or anxiety.

"Let them suspect nothing in your manner," she would say. "Van Vogelaar
watches you closely; the least alteration in you might set him
conjecturing. Who knows what fancies his base and malignant mind is
capable of? His heart is bent on your destruction, and though he hopes
that must follow your being left alone on the coast, yet a change in
your ordinary manner might fill his cruel soul with fear that you had
some plan to escape with your life, in which case I fear, Geoffrey, he
would torment and enrage Vanderdecken into slaying you either here or
on shore."

Well, as I have said, at eight o'clock that morning I reckoned we were
some twelve leagues distant from the coast. The breeze had slackened
somewhat, but it still blew a fresh air, and the water being quiet and
such small swell as there was, together with the billows, chasing us,
our speed was a fair five and a half knots. Yet there was no sign to
advertise us of the adjacency of land. A few Cape hens flew along with
us on our starboard beam, but this kind of sea-fowl had accompanied
the ship when we were as far south as ever we were driven since I
had been in her, and they could not be supposed to signify more than
that we were "off" the South African headland--which term may stand
for the measure of a vast extent of sea. The ocean was of as deep and
glorious a blue as ever I had beheld it in the middle of the Atlantic.
My suspense grew into torment; anxiety became anguish, the harsher and
fiercer for the obligation of restraint. There was no dependence to
be placed on Vanderdecken's reckoning. For several days he had been
hove-to, and his log would certainly neither tell him his drift nor
how the currents served him. My only hope then was in the supernatural
guiding of the ship. I might believe, at least, that the instincts of
the sea-bird would come to one whose dreadful and ghostly existence
lay in an aimless furrowing of the mighty waters, and that he would
know how to steer when the occasion arose, as does the ocean-fowl whose
bed is the surge as its pinion is its pillow, but whose nest must be
sought in rocky solitudes, leagues and leagues below that sea-line in
whose narrow circle you find the creature flying.

I dared not seem to appear to stare earnestly ahead; the part I had to
play was that of extreme indifference; yet, swift as were the looks
I directed over either bow, my eyes would reel with the searching,
passionate vehemence of my stare, and the blue horizon wave to my sight
as though it swam upon a swooning view.

Shortly after twelve o'clock, I was standing alone on the forward
end of the poop, when I observed a clear shade of blue haze upon the
horizon directly ahead. I watched it a little while, believing it no
more than a darkening in the dye of the sky that way; but on bringing
my eyes to it a second time, I found a fixity in the atmospheric
outlining of the shadow that was not to be mistaken for anything but
the blue faintness and delicate dim heads of a distant hilly coast.
I turned, with a leap of heart that was a mingling of rapture and
dread, to win Imogene by my manner to view the land, too; but she stood
with Vanderdecken near the tiller, with her back upon me, apparently
watching the motions of a bird that steadily flew along with us,
some three cables' length on our larboard quarter, flying no faster
than we sailed, yet going through the air as straight as a belated
homeward-bound rook. One of the men forward saw the azure shadow, and
seemed to call the attention of two or three others to it in that
voiceless, mechanical way, which furnished a ghostlier and grislier
character to the bearing and movements of the crew than ever they could
have taken from the paleness of their faces, and the glittering,
unreal vitality of their eyes only; and they went towards the beak to
look, dropping whatever jobs they might have been upon, with complete
disregard of discipline.

Broad as the day was, abounding as the scene with the familiar and
humanising glory of the blessed golden sunshine and the snow-topped
peaks of shallow liquid sapphire ridges, yet the figures of those men,
showing under the swelling and lifting foot of the foresail, peering
under the sharp of their hands against their foreheads, silent in
postures of phlegmatic observation, gave the whole picture of the ship
a wild and dismal colour and appearance, and the black melancholy, the
cold unholiness of it, stole biting as polar frost-smoke to the senses
through the genial splendour of the noon-tide. Yet, like those men, did
I stand looking with my hand against my brow, for there was a wonderful
and almost blinding magnificence of light upon the shivering waters
under the sun that was now floated north, but the resplendent haze did
not dim the substantial line that was growing with a deepening hue
into the atmosphere, and already methought I could discern the curve
and sweep of inland airy altitudes with the dainty silver of clouds
streaking them.

"Land, Herr Fenton!" cried a voice in my ear.

I started. Van Vogelaar stood close beside me, pointing with a pale
leathern forefinger, his harsh and rugged face smileless, though his
eyes grinned with malice as they lay fastened upon mine.

"I see it, mynheer," I replied, coldly.

"It should rejoice your English soul," he exclaimed. "Your countrymen
will not count you as a mariner of theirs if you love not the land!
See! Remote and faint though it be, how substantial even in its blue
thinness doth it show! No sea-sickness there, Herr Fenton! No hollow
seas yawning black as vaults!"

Had this man been of the earth I needed but to catch him by the scroff
and breech and bring his spine to my knee to kill him. And he looked
so much as if I could have served him so that it was hard to regard
him without pity. I said, quietly, "Will that be the land the captain
desires to make?"

"Ay," he answered, snarlingly, "the Dutch are sailors."

I thought to myself, yes, when they have the Devil for a sea-cunny they
will hit their port.

"You will be glad to step ashore if but for half-an-hour?" said he,
looking at me.

"That is a matter that concerns your master," I answered, turning from
him. A low ha! ha! broke from him, muffled as the sound of a saw worked
under deck, as musical too, and as mirthless. Yet Imogene's quick
ear caught it, and she turned swiftly to look. And methought it had
penetrated further yet, for upon the heels of it, there rose up, as an
echo, from the cabin, that harsh and rusty cry, "Wy zyn al Verdomd!"



I could not at that time know what part of the South African coast was
this we had made, but I have since learnt that it lies a few miles
to the eastward of the meridian of twenty-two degrees, and about an
hundred and sixty miles from Cape Agulhas. When it first came into
sight, as I have said, it was but a faint, long-drawn shade in the
light blue of the sky over the horizon, with such a fairy tincture of
flanking eminence beyond that the whole was as delicately tender as the
visionary shore of a dream.

But before the dinner-hour had come round we had stolen nearly two
leagues closer to it, and the coast lay plain enough and very brave
with colours, the green of several dyes, the mountain sky-lines of an
exquisite clearness of cutting in the radiant atmosphere and against
the hard azure brilliance of the heavens, and the tracts of white sand
low down as lustrous as the foam of a dissolving surge.

Soon after the land had hove into view, Imogene joined me. She had kept
her feelings under whilst near Vanderdecken. Now, by my side, she stood
with twenty emotions working in her, her nostrils quivering, her lips
pale, the colour coming and going in her cheeks, the bright light that
a passing hope flashed into her eyes dying out to the tearful shadowing
of some bitter fear.

I said to her, very softly, and keeping my face as expressionless as my
inward agitation would permit--for Vanderdecken and his mates conferred
together near us, sometimes stopping close, sometimes pacing--"If this
pace holds our anchor should be down by dusk."

"What will they do?" she asked.

"I have been asking that question of myself," I replied. "Were they
human--of this earth--I could foretell their movements. No sooner were
they come to an anchor than they would turn to and get the guns and
cargo over to one side, that by listing the ship they might bring the
leak out of water and save themselves this starving job of pumping. But
we have to base conjecture upon men who are neither dead nor alive, who
are Dutchmen besides, I mean of a dull and apathetic habit, and they
may wait for daylight and so obtain rest, of which they should get as
much as they want with the reliefs they are able to send to the pump."

"What should best fit your project, Geoffrey?"

"Oh," said I, under my breath, "if we are to escape we shall need a
deserted deck and a sleeping ship."

"If this should come about to-night will you make the venture?"

"I cannot tell. Put it thus: if they shift the cargo after coming to
an anchor with the idea of raising the leak clear, the work may occupy
them all night. So all night long the ship will be alive and busy, and
there will be no chance for me."

"But the ship will also be alive if they continue to ply the pump,
which must be done if she is not to sink."

"Yes," said I, "so I may have to wait till to-morrow night."

She cried, with a quick blanching of her face that cruelly proved her
stock of strength but slender, "If they careen the ship to-night they
will be able to repair the leak in the morning, and be ready to sail
before the evening."

"I do not fear that."

"Yet it might happen, Geoffrey! They will put you on shore before
sailing----" She stopped, bringing her hands together with a passionate

"I do not fear that," said I again. "Much will depend on where the
leak is. If it be low down they may not be able to come at it without
discharging cargo, which, seeing that they have but those two boats
yonder to work with, and that they will have to make tents ashore and
protect themselves against the natives--if any there here be--should
keep them on the move for a long month. No, dearest, I do not fear
that they will get away by to-morrow night--not if they were ten times
as numerous and as nimble; nor is it probable that Vanderdecken would
suffer me to be marooned till the ship is ready to start. My one
anxiety is just now the weather. There is tranquility in that dark blue
sky over us; the wind weakens as we approach the land, and there is
promise of a calm night. May God help me to achieve my purpose before
another twelve hours have rolled by."

She looked at me with eagerness and alarm. "To-night!" she cried. "If
this ship lies here for days, as you imagine, how, when we are ashore,
dare we hope to escape the strenuous search Vanderdecken is certain
to make for us?" I smiled; she continued, with a feverish whisper:
"Consider, dearest! If we are captured--he will have your life! God
knows into what barbarities his rage may drive him!"

"Dearest," said I, gently, "let us first get out of the ship."

And here we broke off, for our whispering had lasted long enough. Soon
after this we went below to dinner. At the start we none of us spoke,
our behaviour and perhaps our appearance answering very exactly to the
poet's description of a party in a parlour who sat--

  "All silent and all damned!"

Outside, the sun shone gloriously, and the blue air had the purity
of polished glass; but only a small portion of light found admission
through the small windows in the cabin front, and we ate and gazed
upon one another in a sullen atmosphere as gloomy as the expression
on Vanderdecken's face. At this moment I see him plain, as on that
day; his beard falling to his waist, his head slightly bowed, and his
glance travelling in a gaze that would often stop and become fixed, his
skin bleak and high and drawn with pallor. He was attired in a sort of
blouse of dark-green cloth, confined about his waist by a yellow belt
fastened by a small metal clasp, that would have given him a romantic
and buccaneering look but for the austere majesty and fateful character
of his appearance, which inevitably neutralised every suggestion that
did not accord with the solemn, horrible mystery of his being.

We sat for some time, as I have said, as silent as the dead; but on
reflecting that there was nothing, in reason, I could say likely to
procure me a harder fate than that already designed by these men, I
determined to ask a question or two, and said: "Has your carpenter
ascertained in what part of the ship the leak is, mynheer?"

He turned his eyes round upon me slowly. He was indeed stately in all
he did. I never beheld him glance quickly nor start, and the only time
in which his dignity fell, torn in rags from him, was that night when
he acted over the scene of the Curse in his sleep.

He answered, "Yes."

"Is it far down?" said Imogene.

"The ship will need heeling to four strakes," he replied.

I dropped my knife on to the deck for the excuse to pick it up that I
might hide the delight in my face. A list of four strakes would prove
but a very small matter to bring about, and my fears that the vessel
would linger for days, perhaps for a month, on this coast vanished.

"I hope," said I, "it may not prove worse than a started butt-end."

"It is that, and no more," said he.

"How much more would you have, Herr Fenton?" exclaimed Van Vogelaar, in
his ugliest manner. "Dost suppose our pump can deliver half the great
South Sea with every stroke?"

"It should take us four days of easy working," said I, "to careen,
repair, and start afresh snugly stowed."

"You are in a hurry to get home, sir, no doubt?" exclaimed Van Vogelaar.

"Sir," said I, "I am addressing the captain."

"Skipper!" cried the man; "Herr Fenton is in a hurry to get home! We
should put him in the way of making a speedy passage."

"I expect to return in this ship," said I, speaking with my eyes
on Vanderdecken. "I am well satisfied. Nothing stauncher floats.
Consider, mynheer, how nobly she has acted in the gales we have
encountered. It would please me to entreat you to use such poor skill
as I have as a mariner in helping your men; but your courtesy is
magnanimous--of the form that is to be met in highest perfection in the
Hollander of lineage--and I will not risk my own civility by further

He motioned with his hand, contenting himself with whatever answer
the gesture signified. I perceived there was no further information
to be obtained from him--from Van Vogelaar nothing but sneers and
insults--and so held my peace. Yet I had learnt something.

When, after dining, I went on deck, the land looked as near again as
it had when I went below. This was owing to the amazing transparency
and purity of the atmosphere, insomuch that every twenty fathoms the
ship measured was like adding a fresh lens to a perspective glass. Yet
it was not until four o'clock that the coast lay so clear as to render
every detail of it a visible thing, and then the sight was helped by
the sun being on the larboard side and showering his glory aslant,
which, mingling with the golden splendour rising out of his wake in
the sea, put an extraordinary shining into the atmosphere, but without
the lustrous haze that had been rising when he was right over the land
and kindling the water under our bows. 'Twas a picture of a bay with a
shelving beach thickly green with bushes and trees, in and out of which
there winded lengths and lines of exceeding white sand that trembled to
the sunshine with the shivering metallic sheen of frosted silver. The
sea went blue as the sky to the shore and tumbled into foam, in some
places leaping up in creamy dartings, in others making a small crystal
smoke with its boiling, elsewhere lapping tenderly and expiring in
ripples. The azure heights beyond, which had seemed to closely flank
the coast when first beheld, drew inland with our approach, marking
their remoteness by the retention of their lovely atmospheric delicacy
of colour, and their height by the lengths of vapour that clung to
their mighty slopes at various altitudes, like fragments of great
silken veils or cloths of pale gold which had been rent whilst blowing
along. The seaboard went in a rugged line east and west by the compass,
sometimes coming very low down, sometimes soaring into great forelands,
plentifully covered with wild growths, as you saw by the several dyes
of green that coated it, and in one place--about a league from the
bay--a pale blue smoke rising up denoted a bush-fire, and, as it was
easy to suppose, the presence of natives.

The sky was catching a tinge of brassy hardness from the westering sun,
and the complexion of it where the mountain heights were somehow made
you think of measureless miles of hot and cloudy sand glowing yellowly
up into that feverish reflection. The weak swell that lifted us rolled
in wind-wrinkled folds into the bay, which yawned unsheltered to the
south. I knew from experience that it needs no great wind on this
coast to raise a monstrous sea, and it was with unspeakable eagerness
and anxiety that I directed my eyes from the land to the sky overhead
and on our quarters. But the promise of tranquility seemed to deepen
with the drawing down of the sun. It was sheer sapphire in the south,
melting eastwards into violet, and the sea that way was like an English
lake, and to the left of the sun there floated a few purple clouds,
which I watched some time with attention but could not tell that they
moved, though a breeze was still about us, humming pleasantly aloft,
keeping our old sails rounded, and sending the aged structure gliding
at four knots an hour as quietly through it as a seagull paddling in
the level water of an harbour.

But for the tedious clanging of the pump and the fountain-sounds of
its discharge, the stillness on board would have been as deep as the
hush upon the land. Still, lovely as was that afternoon, I very well
remember wishing it had been a month earlier or later than this. We
were in the stormy time of the year in these parts, though it was
summer at home, and a violent change might quickly come. If it came,
Vanderdecken would have to put to sea, leak or no leak, for it was
not to be supposed that mere hemp could partake of the Curse; and the
cables which I saw some of the crew getting up out of the hold and
bending to the anchors at the bows were assuredly not going to hold
this lump of a craft, high out of water and as thick as a tower aloft,
for twenty solid minutes in a seaway and in the eye of a stout wind.

Therefore it was, when I was alone with Imogene, the coast being then
about a league distant and the sun low, that I said to her: "Dearest,
I have made up my mind to make a desperate effort to get away with you

"I am ready," she answered, instantly; "you need but tell me what to

"We must make use of this noble weather," I continued; "it is a fickle
season, a change may come in half-a-dozen hours and force Vanderdecken
to sea with his pump going. Imogene, it must not find us aboard."


"There will be no moon till eleven; we must be away before she rises,
for she will glow brightly in that sky."

"Dearest, I am ready," she repeated. "But, Geoffrey, risk nothing on
the mere chance that the weather will change. You might imperil your
life by haste--and to-morrow night may be as reposeful as this that
approaches, and with a later moon too!"

"Yes, but do not bid me risk nothing!" I exclaimed. "We must risk
everything--our chances aboard and our chances out of the ship--or you
are as good as chained to this vessel for life."

She smiled her acquiescence. I looked at her with passionate inquiry,
but never did a braver and more resolved heart gaze at a lover from
a maiden's eyes. I found the fearlessness of her devotion the more
admirable for the dread she had expressed concerning the perils of the
coast, and for her speaking thus to me with the land close to and all
its wildness and melancholy visible to her, together with the distant
smoke, towards which I had seen her glance again and again, and whose
meaning she perfectly understood.

The ship swam slowly forwards. The coast dried the wind out of the
atmosphere, but so much the better, for there was enough to carry
us in, and then it could not die too soon to serve my turn. All was
ready with the anchors forward, and the men hung about in pallid gangs
waiting for orders to take sail off the ship. The vitality of the
wondrous craft seemed to lie in the pump and its automatic plyers, so
deep was the silence among the crew and so still their postures; but
now and again the heavy courses would swing into the masts to the soft
bowing of the fabric and raise a feeble thunder-note like to the sound
of bowls rolling over hollow ground. The red light in the west lay
upon the head of the shaggy line of coast, and the far-off mountains
that had been blue went up in a dim purple to the sky; the crimson
haze seemed to float over the rugged brink and roll down the slope to
the shore, so that the scene was bathed in a most exquisite delicate
light--all features touched with red; a bronze as of English autumn
upon the green; the white sand gleaming rosily, and great spaces of
reddish rubble-like ground glowing dark as blood. But the loneliness!
I figured myself ashore there--the ship gone--Imogene gone! I stood in
fancy upon the beach looking out on this bare sea; an aged, perhaps
worthless firelock by my side, a few cartridges, a week's store of
provisions! The moan of the surf was in my ear; every creaking and
rustling of the wind in the near bushes startled me. To right and left
rolled the coast for endless leagues, and the vast plain of sea, whose
multitudinous crying found echoes in a thousand caverns, east and west,
and in the reverberating heart of giant cliffs, whose walls were best
measured in parallels and meridians, went down into the heavens where
the uttermost ends of the earth were.

Yet, hideous as was the prospect of that shore when I thought of myself
marooned upon it, its horrors shrunk into mere perils, such as courage,
patience and resolution might overcome, when my imagination put my
darling by my side, and with her hand in mine, I looked round me upon
the vast scene of solitude. In her weakness I found my strength; in
her devotion my armour. Great God! How precious to man is Thy gift of
woman's love! But for Imogene where would have been my purpose and
determination? I have but to recall the condition of my spirits when I
looked at the shore and thought of myself as alone there to know.

The sun had been sunk an hour, the twilight had melted into darkness,
and the sky was full of stars, when the Death Ship floated in a
breathless manner to abreast of the eastern bluff or foreland of the
bay, and with an air as faint as the sigh of a spirit expiring upon the
black drapery of her higher canvas, she slided the blotting head of
coast on to her quarter, and came to a dead stand within half-a-mile of
the beach.

I heard Vanderdecken tell Arents to drop the lead over the side. This
was done. The captain exclaimed: "What trend hath she?"

"None, sir. The line is up and down like an iron bar."

"Clew up the topsails and topgallant-sails. Up with the courses. See
all ready to let go the anchors, Van Vogelaar."

These orders were re-echoed. In a moment the decks were alive with
dusky shapes of moving men; one after another the sails dissolved
against the stars like clouds, amid the hoarse rumbling of blocks, the
whistling of running ropes, the rattle of descending yards.

"Are you all ready forward?" cried Vanderdecken, his rich voice going
in notes of deep-throated music up into the gloom.

"All ready!" answered Van Vogelaar from the forecastle.

"Then let go the anchor!"

The heavy splash of a great weight of iron was followed by a hot
seething sound of cable torn through the hawse-pipe; the water boiled
to the launching blow from the bow and spread out in a surface of dim
green fire.

I watched to see if the vessel would swing: but there was no air,
neither was there tide or current to slue her, and she hung in a shadow
like that of a thunder-cloud over her own anchor, her mastheads very
softly beating time to the slow lift and fall of the light swell.

"Keep all fast with the larboard anchor!" exclaimed Vanderdecken.
"Overhaul the cable to the fifty fathom scope. Aloft men and stow the
canvas. Carpenter!"

A hoarse voice answered, "Sir?"

"Sound the well and let me know what water there is."

In a few minutes a lantern flickered like an _ignis fatuus_ and threw
out the sombre shapes of men as its gleam passed over the decks which
rippled in faint sheets of phosphoric light. He who bore it was the
carpenter. When he came to the pump he handed it to a seaman whilst
he dropped the sounding-rod down the well. The light was yellow, and
the figures of the fellows who were pumping and the stooping form of
the carpenter stood out of the gloom like an illuminated painting in a
crypt. A foot or two of water gushing from the pump sparkled freely to
where the darkness cut it off. Against the glittering lights in the sky
you saw the ink-like outlines of men dangling upon the yards, rolling
up the canvas. I watched the carpenter pore upon the rod to mark the
height to which the wet rose; he then came on to the poop and spoke to
Vanderdecken in a voice too low for me to catch what he said.

Imogene had left me ten minutes before, and I stood alone in the
deeper shade made in the gloom upon the poop by the mizzen-rigging.
The beating of my heart was painful with anxiety. From one moment to
another I could not tell what the next order might be, and if ever I
seemed to feel a breath of air upon my hot temples, I trembled with the
fear that it was the forerunner of a breeze. As it stood, 'twas such a
night to escape in that my deepest faith in God's mercy had never durst
raise my hopes to the height of its beauty and stillness.

On the opposite side of the poop slowly walked Vanderdecken; in the
starlight such of his skin as showed was as white as wax; he sometimes
looked aloft at the men there, sometimes around at the ocean, sometimes
coming to a stand to mark the gradual swinging of the ship that was
now influenced by some early trickling of tide or by the motions of
the small heaving in the sea, or by some ghostly whisperings of air

Ten minutes passed. Though the ship was full of business, not a sound
broke from the men, and the hush you felt upon the dark line of shore
would have been upon the vessel but for the clanking jerks of the
pump-brake and the noise of flowing water.

A figure came up the poop-ladder and softly approached. It was Imogene.
I lightly called and she came to my side in the shadow.

"What are they doing?" she asked.

"They are furling the sails; nothing more as yet," I answered.

"Will they endeavour to lift the leak out of water to-night?"

"Dearest, I am waiting to see what they mean to do."

"I will ask Vanderdecken," said she, "he always answers my questions."

I seized her hand. "No! He may suspect I sent you. Let us walk
carelessly here and there. Lurking in the shadow might give an air of
conspiracy to the prattle of infants to the suspicions of such a mind
as his."

We moved towards the taffrail--the helm was lashed and abandoned--and
then quietly to and fro, speaking under our breath.

"Geoffrey, we may find no water to drink when we get on shore; have you
provided for that?" she said.

I started. I had thought of all things, as I fancied; yet I had
overlooked the most essential of our certain needs.

"No, I have not provided for that," I exclaimed. "How now to manage?"

"I thought of it just now in my cabin. There is a pitcher there and the
sight of it put it into my head to ask if you had included water in
your stock of provisions. It holds about two gallons. It has a narrow
neck and may be easily corked. But how can we convey it ashore. My
weight and the bags and it would sink a bigger frame than the one that
is to float me."

I said: "Is there fresh water in it?"

"It is nearly full. Prins keeps it replenished."

I said: "Are bottles to be had?"

She reflected and answered: "There are jars in which wine is kept, but
I do not know where to find them."

'Twas my turn to think. I then cried: "There is a silver flagon in the
box under the table; that which Prins took away last week and brought
back filled with sherry for Vanderdecken. Can you get it?"


"We may not need it; if so we will leave it. Vanderdecken shall not say
that we have plundered him though we must risk a graver charge even
than that if there be occasion. Dearest, convey that flagon to your
cabin. Fill it with fresh water in readiness. We shall find fresh water
sweeter than the richest wine. Also contrive to have the pitcher filled
to the brim. Prins will do that and suspect nothing. You will invent a
reason, and when it is filled cork it as securely as possible and bind
the head with stout rag that what you use as a cork may not fall out."

She said she would go and see about it at once.

"A moment," I whispered. "Is the window of your quarter-gallery open?"

"No; but I will open it."

"Do so; stand at it till you hear me cough. Then grasp a rope that I
will let hang against the window and coil it away as you pull it in."

She understood me with the readiness of a sailor's child and a sailor's
sweetheart, and left me. The mizzen-yard was lowered; the sail had been
stowed some time. Rove through a small block at the end of the yard was
a length of thin line termed signal halliards used for the showing of
colours. I waited till Vanderdecken came to a stand at the head of the
ladder that was, of course, at the forward end of the poop, and then
with a mariner's swiftness overhauled the halliards through the block,
catching the end as it fell that it might not strike the deck, and
threw it over the quarter, coughing distinctly as I did so. I felt her
pull it; I paid it out cautiously, narrowly watching Vanderdecken till
the whole length was gone, then sauntered forward to where the shadow
of the mizzen-rigging blackened the air.

I had not stood there a minute when Vanderdecken cried out, "Van
Vogelaar!" The mate answered from the forecastle.

"Let a hand remain on the main-topsail yard to receive a tackle for
hoisting out both boats."

I turned my back, putting both my hands to my face in an ecstatic burst
of gratitude to the great God of Heaven for this signal mercy. 'Twas
what I had been hoping and waiting for, with a heart sickened by doubt
and fear. The order was given, and had I been suddenly transported
with Imogene into a ship bound for England my soul could not have
swelled up with keener exultation!



I will say now that the alternate scheme I had all along had in my
mind was escaping by means of one of the boats. But I had held this
project back from Imogene; nay, had kept it in hiding almost away from
my own consideration for fear that I should be unable to secure a boat.
Perhaps, indeed, I had counted upon Vanderdecken practising the custom
of his day, which was to get the boats over on coming to an anchor;
yet it was but a hope, and not daring to think too heartily in this
direction I had talked wholly to Imogene of delivering ourselves by
floating and swimming ashore.

But now the boats were to be lifted over the side, and my next
proceeding must therefore be to watch an opportunity to enter one of
them with Imogene and silently sneak away.

To see what they were about, the men hung several lanterns about the
waist and gangways. The canvas had been furled, and the yards lay in
thick black strokes against the stars. The coast looked like peaked
heights of pitch, and the sea, with a sort of dead gleaming floating in
it with the motion of the folds, spread out brimful to the dim flashing
of the surf. You could hear nothing for the noise of the pumping, yet
it seemed to me but for that, God knows what mysterious whisperings,
what faint noise of howling cries, what strange airy creeping of hisses
and the seething of swept and disturbed foliage and burrowed bush I
might catch the mingled echo of, hovering in a kind of cloud of sound,
and coming, some of it, from as far away as the deeper blackness that
you saw in the land where the cerulean giants of the afternoon steadied
their burdened postures by pressing their brows against the sky. There
was a red spot upon that part of the coast over which you would be
looking for the crimson forehead of the moon presently. 'Twas a league
off, and expressed a big area of incandescence, and was the fire whence
the smoke I had noticed arose.

One after the other they swung the boats clear of the rail to the
water, and secured the ends of their painters, or the lines by which
they were fastened, to a pin, on either quarter, thus leaving both
boats floating under the counter. Vanderdecken then gave orders for
the second anchor to be let go, the ship having some time since slided
imperceptibly back to the fair tension of the cable already down.

I now thought I had been long enough on deck, that further lingering
must suggest too much persistency of observation; so I went to the
cabin. It was empty. I coughed, and in a minute or two Imogene came
from her berth. The lamp swung over the table and the white light that
fell through the open bottom of it streamed on my face.

She instantly exclaimed: "You are flushed and look glad! What is it,

"We are as good as free!" I cried. She stared at me. Then I explained
how Vanderdecken had ordered the boats over as though in sober truth
he had as great a mind as I that we should escape; how our deliverance
by one of the boats had been my second but concealed scheme; how both
boats were under the counter, to our hands almost; and how nothing
more remained to be done but wait a chance of entering one of them and
dropping hiddenly out of sight.

"Then we need not land!" she cried.

I said, "No." She clasped her hands and looked at me with a rapture
that made me see how heavy though secret had lain the horror of escape
by the shore upon her.

I said to her: "Slip into your quarter-gallery and look over and tell
me which boat lies under it, whether the little or the large one. Also
if the rope that holds her is within reach. Also distinguish what
furniture of oars and sails are in the boats--if any there be. I dare
not go to your cabin lest Vanderdecken should arrive as I come out."

She went, and was gone about five minutes. During this interval I took
notice of a sobering down of the movements of the men about the deck,
as though they were coming to an end with their various jobs of coiling
away and clearing up. But the pump gushed incessantly. I grew extremely
eager to know if they meant to handle the cargo and guns, towards
careening the vessel, that night. But whether or no, I was determined
to leave the Death Ship, and before the moon rose--if possible.

'Twas now a little after seven o'clock. Imogene returned. She glanced
about her to make sure I was alone, and seating herself close to me,
said: "It is the bigger boat that is under my quarter-gallery."

"Good!" I cried. "She will be the safer for our purpose."

"Where the other boat lies the gloom is so thick 'tis impossible to see
what is in her. But I can distinctly perceive the outline of a sail in
the big boat."

"There will be a mast as well," said I. "Since the sail is there she
will have been lowered fully equipped. And the rope that holds her?"

"It tightens and droops with the lifting of the boat and the heaving of
the ship," she replied. "But I think it may be grasped by standing upon
the rail of the galley."

This I had expected, for the boat rode to a very short scope of line.

"Now, dearest," said I, "this is my plan: the line you dragged in,
when middled and doubled, will serve me to lower you down with. When
in the boat, you must throw the line off you, so that I may use it to
send down the pitcher of water and the bags of provisions. I will then
come down by it myself. Retire as early as you may under pretence of
being weary, then clothe yourself in your warmest attire and select
such apparel as fits most closely, for flowing drapery cannot but prove
troublesome. Leave your cabin door unlatched, but seemingly shut, that
I may enter by pushing only. Meanwhile, stay here. I shall return in a
few minutes."

I walked to my cabin below. The gang of pumpers clove to the brake
like a little company of spectres clothed as seamen, and their manner
of toiling suggested a horrid mockery of the labour of earthly beings.
I shot a swift glance along the deck ere descending the hatch, but,
saving the men who pumped, could see no more than a shadow or two
moving in the distance forward. I took the bags of provisions from
under the bed; the smallest of the three fitted my hat, which I put
on my head; the other two I crammed into my coat pockets, which were
extremely capacious. A goodly portion of the bag in the larboard pocket
stood up, and the head of the other was very visible; but I covered
them by keeping my arms up and down; and so conveyed them to the cabin,
which I surveyed through the door before entering.

Imogene instantly took them to her berth, and then returned. She had
scarce resumed her seat when Vanderdecken entered. He came to the table
and looked on a moment, and said: "Imogene, where is Prins?"

"I have not seen him," she answered.

He stepped to the door and called, and then came to his chair and
seated himself, not offering to speak till Prins arrived.

"Get the supper," said he. "Mix a bowl of brandy punch. My limbs ache.
I have stood too long."

Encouraged to address him by his breaking the silence, I said, "Mynheer
Vanderdecken, may I ask if it is your intention to careen to-night?"

He looked at me sullenly and with a frown, and said: "Why do you

"That I may crave a favour, sir. My cabin is close to the pump; the
clattering of that engine is extremely disturbing, and therefore I
would ask your permission to use this bench for a bed to-night if you
do not intend to careen to the leak, and so render further pumping

He considered awhile, eyeing me sternly; but it was not conceivable
that he should find any other than the surface-meaning in this request.

He answered: "I do not intend to careen; the weather hath every
promise of continued fairness; the men shall have their night's rest;
they will work the more briskly for it to-morrow. As the pump must be
kept going, your request is reasonable. You can use this cabin, and
Prins shall give you one of my cloaks to soften your couch."

I made him a low grateful bow, secretly accepting his civility,
however, as does a man condemned to death the attentions of a gaoler or
the tenderness of the hangman.

Prins prepared the table for supper, and then set a bowl of steaming
punch before the captain. Shortly afterwards arrived Van Vogelaar and
Arents. Our party was now complete, and we fell to. I said: "Gentlemen,
you will forgive the curiosity of an English mariner who is unused to
the discipline of the Batavian ships. How, Mynheer Vanderdecken, are
the watches among you arranged when in harbour, as in a sense we may
take ourselves now to be?"

Imogene observing my drift came to my help and said in Dutch: "The
practice is as with our countrymen, Herr Fenton."

"Then the commandant stands the watch till midnight, and the mates
together till sunrise," said I, speaking inaccurately that I might draw
them into speech.

"No," exclaimed Arents. "With us the commander keeps no watch. The
mates take the deck as at sea, I till midnight, Van Vogelaar till four,
then I again."

"That is as it should be," said I, smiling into Arents' large, fat,
white face.

"And it is very proper," said Van Vogelaar, in his coarse sarcastic
voice, "that English sailors should apply to the Dutch for correct
ideas on true marine discipline."

"Gentlemen," said I, suavely, "I have learnt much since I have been
with you."

The mate darted one of his ugliest looks at me. And it was made
infernal by the twist of leering triumph in his heavy lips, though he
could not suppose I exactly understood what it meant.

We fell silent. Vanderdecken served out the punch with a small silver
goblet. I drank but a mouthful or two, dreading the fumes. The
others quaffed great draughts, making nothing of the potency of the
liquor, nor of the steaming heat of it. Had they been as I was or
Imogene--human and real--I should have rejoiced in their intemperance;
but 'twas impossible to suppose that the fumes of spirits could affect
the brains of men immortal in misery.

When they had done eating they called for pipes, and Vanderdecken told
Prins to bring him such and such a cloak, naming and describing it. The
fashion of it was about eighty years old; 'twas of very dark velvet,
with a silver chain at the throat and silk under-sleeves. He motioned
to Prins to put it down, giving me to know by the same gesture that
it was at my service. I thanked him with a slight inclination of the
head, grateful that he did not speak, as I knew not what effect the
news of my desire to sleep in the cabin might have upon the malignant
mate's suspicious mind.

Imogene observed a strict silence. Sometimes I caught her looking at
Vanderdecken, sometimes round upon the cabin. At such moments there
came a softened light of wistfulness into her eyes; nay, rather let me
call it pensiveness, for there was nothing of yearning in it--merely
the emotion that would attend the thought that, under God, this was the
last night she would ever pass in the Death Ship; the last hours she
would ever spend in the company of Vanderdecken. The old fabric had
for nearly five years been her ocean home--the only refuge in the wide
world for her. 'Twas associated with the desolation of her orphaned
state--with the anguish of her loneliness in the open boat. Her very
being had merged into the ancient timbers--to the spirit of her life a
voice and an expression had been given by each hollow straining sound,
by the roar of wind in the rigging, by the musical stirrings of air in
the quiet night, by the sob of gently-passing waters, by the thunder
of the storm-created surge. And he at whom she gazed--cruel, fierce,
scowling, imperious as he was--lifting God-defying eyes to the heavens,
his giant frame volcanic with the desperate perturbations of a soul
of fire--yet had that man ever been gentle to her--he had tended her
with something of a father's love; he had held her to his breast as an
ocean-stray for whom, Heaven help him! he believed that there was an
asylum, that there was affection, that there was motherly and sisterly
sympathy in his distant home at Amsterdam. She could not have been
the Imogene of my adoration, the fresh, true-hearted virginal being
of this Death Ship, mingling something of the mystery of the doomed
structure and something of the mighty deep, with the pure, chaste,
exquisite vitality of a living and a loving woman, had not her violet
eyes saddened to the thought of parting for ever from her floating home
and from that stately, bearded figure whose affection for her was even
fuller of pathos than his dream of those whom he deemed yet slumbered
at night in far-off Amsterdam.

But no sentiment of this kind coloured my view of him. To me, that was
to be put ashore by his command and left miserably to perish there, he
was a cruel and a murderous rascal; of which qualities in him I had so
keen a sense that I never for a moment questioned that if my scheme
miscarried and he found out what I intended, he would have me swung at
the yard-arm right away out of hand, though it should be pitch dark and
they should have to hang me by lantern-light.

Presently Arents put down his pipe and went on deck. Van Vogelaar,
leaning on his elbow midway across the table, muttered with the
long shank of his pipe between his teeth to Vanderdecken about the
routine and rotation of the pumping-gangs. The captain let fall a few
instructions touching the morning's work. Imogene rose.

"I am like you, Captain Vanderdecken--weary," she said, smiling, whilst
her pale face fully warranted her assurance. "I shall go to bed."

"'Tis early," said he, sending a look at the clock; "you seem
dispirited, my dear. It will not be this brief halt here, I trust? We
shall be under weigh again in a couple of days, homeward-bound--one
great ocean already traversed. Think of that!" She put her fingers to
her mouth simulating a yawn. "But if you are weary," he continued, "go
to rest, my dear."

She smiled at him again, curtsied to me, and with a half-bow to Van
Vogelaar went to her cabin.

Vanderdecken, dipping the silver goblet into the punch-bowl, bade me
extend my cup. I thanked him, said my head ached, and that with his
leave I would take the air above for a spell. On gaining the poop I
walked right aft and looked over the taffrail. The boats there rose
and fell in two lumps of blackness under the quarters. They strained
very quietly at the lines which held them, and this enabled me to
observe, by noting the trend of the land, that such surface-motion as
the water had was westerly. I was fretted to observe the sea unusually
phosphorescent. Every time the rise and fall of the ship's stern
flipped at one or the other of the boat's lines the sudden drag raised
a little foam about her, and the bubbling flashed like the reflection
of sheet lightning in a mirror. This, I say, vexed me; for the dip of
an oar must occasion a fire as signalling in its way as a flare or a
lantern, though the boat itself should be buried in the darkness.

I came away from the taffrail after a very brief look over. Arents at
the head of the poop-ladder stood apparently gazing at the men pumping
on the main-deck, but I knew the motionless postures into which he and
the others fell too well to guess that any speculation would be found
in his eyes could they be peered into. The bush fire burnt like a
great red spark on the black outline to starboard. Out of the western
ocean the stars looked to be floating as though they were a smoke of
silver sparkles, meeting in a mass of diamond-light over our swaying
mastheads, with scatterings of brilliant dust among them, suggesting
the wakes of winged star-ships; but past the starboard yard-arms all
this quick, glorious scintillation of planet and meteor, of fixed
stars and the Magellanic clouds, with the beautiful Cross sweetly
dominant, went wan and dying into mere faintness. This however I did
not particularly heed, though the habits of a sailor would cause me
to fasten my eye upon the appearance; but presently looking for the
crimson scar of bush-fire, I found it was gone with many of the stars
which had been glittering above and against it.

A few minutes put an end to conjecture; 'twas a true South African fog
coming along, white as gunpowder smoke, and eating out the prospect
with long feelers and winding limbs till the whole body was fluffing
thick and soft as feathers about the ship, eclipsing everything save
a golden spike or two of the lighted lantern that hung against the
main-mast for the comfort or convenience of the pumpers.



It was ten o'clock. For half-an-hour had I been sitting in the cabin
alone waiting for Vanderdecken to come below and go to bed. I heard
the parrot angrily clawing about her cage to the chiming of the bell,
as if impatient of the slowness of the strokes and enraged by their
disturbing notes; and when the last chime died out she violently
flapped her wings and cried, with an edge of scream in the ordinary
harshness of her voice, "Wy zyn al Verdomd!"

"Verdomd for you, you vile croaker!" thought I, involuntarily clenching
my fist as I looked towards her. "Such another yell might bring Van
Vogelaar out of his berth."

But she was never again to utter that curse in my hearing.

I went to the cabin door, and found the thickness boiling black
about the decks, not an outline visible, nothing to be seen but the
lantern-shine, dim as a glow-worm in the crystalline denseness.
The clanking of the pump seemed to find twenty echoes in the great
concealed fabric of round-tops and square yards on high. How ghostly
the stillness with which the brake was plied! You listened till your
ear seemed in pain for the sound of a human laugh, the growl of a human

Whilst I stood looking into the thickness, Vanderdecken came down the
quarter-deck ladder. The wet of the fog sparkled in his beard, and
his fur cap glistened to the lamplight. He stood in the doorway and
stared at me under his great heavy brows as though surprised, and even
startled, to see me; then exclaimed, "_Ach_, I had forgotten you sleep
in this cabin to-night. The lamp can be left alight, if you please."

"If you please, mynheer," said I, with a note of careless indifference
in my voice. In fact I would rather have been in darkness, but it was
my policy to seem as if his wishes were all the same to me, let them
run as they would.

"Tell Prins when he comes, it is my order he should leave the lamp
burning," said he, speaking quietly and in a manner that recalled my
earliest impressions of him when he talked low lest he should disturb
Imogene. He gave me a stiff bow and walked to his cabin.

Five minutes after arrived Prins.

"'Tis the captain's wish," said I, in a low voice, "that the lamp should
be kept alight."

"Good, sir," he replied, imitating my soft speech.

"It is for my convenience; I sleep here as you know, that the pump may
be less disturbing. Captain Vanderdecken is good enough to consult my
comfort, but as the light is bright, pray dim it, Prins. That may be
managed, I hope?"

"Easily," he answered, and climbed upon the table to come at the lamp.

"So," said he, turning down the mesh, "how is that, Herr Fenton?"

"A little fainter yet--so! I thank you, Prins. Have you made an end of
your work? I am in no hurry to lie down."

He slipped off the table with a look round, and said: "My work is
finished, Herr. You can take your rest at once for me." He yawned.
"These African fogs make one gape. Good-night, sir."

"Good-night, Prins."

He halted in the doorway.

"I will shut this door to keep the damp out," he said. I motioned with
my hand as though bidding him shut it, which he did, and I was left

I wrapped Vanderdecken's large rich cloak about me, and stretched
myself along the bench, using my arm as a pillow. I resolved to lie
thus for at least half-an-hour, conceiving that this would be long
enough to weary any one who should take it into his head to watch
me through the cabin window. As to Vanderdecken, I did not fear his
seeing me whilst he kept his door closed. The bulkhead of his berth
was thick and apparently seamless, and his door fitted into overlaps
of the jambs, for the exclusion of draughts of air after the fashion
in old shipbuilding. I lay very quiet hearkening to the dulled beating
of the pump and watching the clock, the great hand of which was just
visible. When it came round so as to lie upon the quarter before the
hour, I rose with the utmost stealth, arranging the cloak in such a
fashion as to make the dark shape of it resemble a recumbent form, and
holding my breath, stole on tiptoe to Imogene's cabin and pushed the
door. It opened; I entered and pushed the door to again, and it jammed
noiselessly upon the soft substance that had kept it closed before.

Imogene sat on the side of her bed, that exactly resembled the bed in
Vanderdecken's room which I have described. She was fully dressed,
and had on a fur or sealskin cap, with flaps for the ears. A small
silver lamp of a very ancient pattern hung from a hook in the great
beam that traversed the ceiling of her cabin, but she had trimmed or
depressed the mesh into a feeble gleam. The little door that led to the
quarter-gallery stood open. I kissed her cold forehead, and whispered,
"Are you ready?"


I held her hand whilst I could have counted ten, but found it steadier
than mine.

"Come, dearest!" said I, and I stepped into the gallery.

The fog put an intolerable blackness into the air, and the chill of it
was like frost upon the flesh. But for the phosphorescence of the sea,
which I had before lamented, I should not have been able to see the
boat under the counter. As it was, the tweaking of the line to the rise
and fall of the Death Ship kept a small stir of water about the boat;
the greenish-yellow shining showed through the fog and threw out the
figure of the structure. The railing of the gallery rose to the height
of my breast. I leaned over it, waving my hand in the blackness for the
rope, and not catching it, bade Imogene seize my coat to steady me, and
jumped on to the rail, and in a moment felt the line and grasped it;
then dismounted, holding the rope. In a few seconds I had the boat's
head--that was square and horned, as you will remember--fair under the
gallery, and in that posture I secured her by hitching the slack of the
line to the rail.

Everything continued to help us; first the fog, that made an
astonishing blackness of the night, though I guessed this would grow
into a pallid faintness presently, when the moon was up and had
gathered power; next the phosphoric shinings upon which the boat rose
and fell like a great blot of ink; then the noise of the pump, which,
to the most attentive ear on deck, would absorb all such feeble sounds
as our movements were likely to cause; and again, there was the small
but constant grinding of the sudden jumping of the rudder to the
action of the swell, very nicely calculated to lull the suspicions of
Vanderdecken in the adjacent cabin should he be awake and hear us. But
this I did not fear, for the quarter-gallery was outside the ship, and
we worked in the open air, and made no noise besides.

Not a moment was to be lost; the halliards I had unrove from the
mizzen-peak lay in a heap at my feet. I ran the length through, doubled
it, and made a bowline-on-the-bight of the two thicknesses. This bight
or loop I slipped over Imogene's shoulders, bringing the running or
lowering part in front of her that there should be no pressure to hurt
her tender breasts, and then took two turns round a stancheon on the

"Dearest," I whispered, kissing her, "keep a stout heart and do exactly
as I bid. First, in what part of the cabin shall I find the pitcher and
the provisions?"

"Between the foot of the bedstead and the door. They are covered with
a dress."

"Right. I am now about to lower you into the boat. I will lower very
gently. The moment your feet touch the boat, cough--but not loudly--as
a sign for me to lower handsomely, for the rise and fall of the boat
necessitates smart action. When you are safe--that is when you are
gotten into the middle of the boat--sit down, and throw the rope off
you. I will then send down the pitcher and bags by the line which you
will cast adrift from them. It will then be my turn to join you."

So saying I took her in my arms and lifted her on to the rail, seating
her there an instant, then taking in one hand the end of the rope which
was twisted round the stancheon, with the other I gently slided her
over the rail, easing her down with my arm round her till she hung by
the line. In another moment she was in the boat.

I hauled up the line, went for the pitcher and bags and sent them
down to her, she receiving and detaching them from the line with a
promptitude equal to anything I could have hoped to find in that
way in a sailor. I called to her softly--that she might know why I
lingered--"I am going for the cloak," for the moment I saw it I had
made up my mind to carry it off as a covering for Imogene.

I opened her cabin door breathlessly and peered out; then stole soft
as a mouse to the cloak and threw it over my arm. The interior lay in
a sullen gloom to the dim shining of the lamp. Our stock of provisions
was small, and my eye catching sight of the chest under the table I
recollected having seen Prins put a canvas bag full of biscuit into it
after supper. This I resolved to take. So I went to the chest, raised
the lid, and found the bag, but my hurry and agitation being great
I let fall the lid which dropped with a noisy bang. Heaping curses
upon my clumsiness, I fled like a deer into the cabin and on to the
quarter-gallery, threw the cloak and bag into the boat, and followed
headlong down the rope I had left dangling from the rail.

I was scarce arrived when the faint light that streamed from Imogene's
berth into the quarter-gallery was obscured, and to my horror I saw the
loom of a human shape overhanging the rail.

"Imogene! Imogene! Come back--come back!" rang out Vanderdecken's deep
and thrilling voice. "Herr Fenton, restore to me the treasure thou
wouldst rob me of and I swear not a single hair of thy head shall be

In mad haste I sawed through the rope that held the boat with my
pocket-knife. He could not see, but he heard me; and springing on
to the rail, roared, in his thunderous notes, "Arents, Arents, the
Englishman hath seized one of the boats and is kidnapping Miss Dudley.
Do you hear me? Speak--or you swing!"

I heard the clattering of heavy boots running along the tall echoing
poop high over our heads.

"Sir--sir--I am here! Your orders, sir?" bawled Arents.

Again roared out Vanderdecken, in a hurricane note fit to awaken the
echoes of the inland mountains, "The Englishman is kidnapping Miss
Dudley, and hath already seized the larger boat. Send the men from the
pump to man the other boat!"

"No, by Heaven, you don't!" I shouted, mad with the excitement of the
minute. The line that held us was severed; the boat's head swung round;
I leaned half my length over the gunwale, caught the other boat, and
severed the rope that secured her to the ship; then, in a frenzy of
haste, tumbled a couple of oars over and pulled away. But I had not
measured five boat's lengths when the fog in which the ship, even at
that short distance, lay completely swallowed was gashed and rent by a
blaze of red fire. The explosion of a musket followed. I knew, by the
flame leaping out of the quarter-gallery, that it was Vanderdecken who
had fired, and with set teeth strained with all my might at the oars.

A dead stillness reigned. The clanking of the chains had ceased. I
could hear nothing but the grind of the oars in the pins, and the
sound of the water seething to the unnatural vigour with which I rowed.
After a little I paused to gather from the noise of the surf how the
boat headed. I bent my ear and found that the boiling was on my left.

"How does it strike you, Imogene?" I asked, in a broken voice, being
terribly distressed for breath.

She answered, very low, "The sound is on your left."

"That should signify," said I, "that we are heading out to sea. The
breakers are heavy in the west, and 'tis down there the noise of them
seems greatest. We must head right out, or this bay will prove worse
than a rat-trap."

As I spoke I heard the scattering reports of some six or eight muskets
discharged one after another, but the glare of the explosions was
absorbed by the fog.

"Ha!" cried I; "they shoot in hope!"

I fell to rowing again, and held to the weighty job stoutly for a good
quarter-of-an-hour. Weighty it was, for not only was the boat extremely
cumbrous about the bows--if one square end of her more than another
could be so termed--the oars were heavy, the blades being spoon-shaped,
though flat, and the harder to work not only for the breadth of the
boat, but because of the pins being fixed too far abaft the seats.

I had now not much fear of being chased. Even if they found the boat I
had liberated by sending men overboard to swim in search of it--there
was movement enough in the water to glide it very swiftly into
obscurity--I did not apprehend they would venture to pursue me in so
great a fog. I threw in my oars and listened. A faint air stirred in
the blackness, and if I was correct in supposing that we were heading
seawards, then this draught was coming about south-east. The sound of
the surf was like a weak rumbling of thunder. I strained my hearing to
the right--that is, to starboard, for I sat with my back to the bows;
but though indeed I could catch a faint, far-off moan of washing waters
that way, the noise of the boiling was on our left.

"I am sure we are out of the bay," said I; "were we penetrating it we
should be by this time among the breakers. I heartily pray now this
fog will soon thin out. It may whiten into something like light when
the moon rides high. There is a faint wind, and I should be glad to
step the mast and set the sail. But that isn't to be done by feeling.
Besides, there is no rudder, and what there may be in the stern to
steady an oar with I cannot conceive."

I paused, thinking she would speak. Finding she was silent, and
fearing her to be cold and low-hearted, I said: "My dearest, you will
gain confidence with the light. Meanwhile, we have good reason to be
grateful for this blackness. They might have killed us could they have
seen the boat, for they were prompt with their fire-arms."

"Geoffrey, dear," she exclaimed, in the same low voice I had before
noticed in her, "I fear I am wounded."

"Wounded!" I shrieked, springing to my feet.

"The instant Vanderdecken fired--if it was he--" she continued, "I
felt a stinging blow in my shoulder. I am very cold just there; I am
bleeding, I believe."

"Oh, my God! Oh, my God!" I cried, for now she spoke at some little
length I could hear in her voice the pain she was in; and the
feebleness of her voice was like to break my heart, as was the thought
of her suffering and bleeding in silence until I had rowed the boat a
long distance from the ship.

I felt for her, and took her in my arms, but the shiver that ran
through her warned me that my caress increased her pain. I would
have given ten years of my life for a light. 'Twas maddening to have
to sit in such blackness, with nothing but a dim star or two of the
green sea-glow rising with the invisible heave of the water to the
gunwale for the eye to rest upon, and to think of my precious one
bleeding--perhaps wounded to death--utterly concealed from me, so that
I could not staunch her wound, nor comfort her except by speech, nor
help her in any way. 'Twas the doing of Vanderdecken! the murderer!
Oh, why, when there was all the wide black air for the shot to whistle
through, had it struck my life, my love, the darling whom I had
snatched to my heart from the huge desolation of the deep, and from the
horrible companionship of beings accurst of God?

I groped about for the cloak I had flung into the boat, and found it; I
made a bed of it, and pulling off my jacket rolled it up into a pillow.
I felt for her again, and told her that the bleeding might lessen if
she would lie down. She answered, "I will lie down, dearest."

I took her in my arms very tenderly and carefully, and laid her upon
the cloak with the wounded shoulder uppermost, covered her as far as
the skirts of the cloak would suffer, and chafed her hands. I was in
so great a confusion and agony of mind that had I heard the dip of
the oars astern and knew Vanderdecken was after me in the other boat,
I should not have let go her hand. I could not have stirred from my
kneeling posture beside her to help myself. But now that we were out of
the bay, as I might be sure by the sound of the surf, I knew that our
keel would be in the grip of the westerly current, and that whether I
rowed or not every hour must increase our distance from the Death Ship,
and improve our prospect of escape.

I asked her if she was thirsty, understanding how quickly wounded
persons crave in this direction. She answered "No;" but, as I believed,
out of the sweetness of her heart, to save me anguish by any kind
of confession of suffering beyond what she had already owned to.
Believing her to be bleeding all the time, I held her hand, in constant
expectation of feeling it frosted and turning heavy with death. The
sea, in its mighty life of a thousand centuries, has upborne many
dismal and affrighting pictures to the chill eye of the moon, to the
fiery inspection of the sun, to the blindness of the cloud-blackened
sky; but none worse than what our boat made; no torments direr than
what I suffered. I could not see her face to observe whether she
smiled upon me or not; the love in her eyes was hidden from me, and my
heart could take no comfort from imagination when, for all I knew, the
glazing of approaching dissolution might have iced those liquid violet
impassioned depths into an unmeaning stare.

Add to her lying in the blackness, wounded and bleeding; add to the
anguish with which I probed the ebon smother for the merest glimpse of
her, till my eyes burned like red-hot balls of fire under my brows;
add to this, those elements of mystery, of horror, which entered into
and created that black, sightless time; the desolate thunder of surf,
defining to the ear the leagues and leagues of savage coast aswarm
with roaring beasts, with hissing reptiles, with creatures in human
form fiercer and of crueller instincts than either; the magnitude of
the ocean on whose breathing breast our tiny bark lay rocking; the
wondrous darkness of the deep shadow of the fog upon the natural gloom
of the night; the commingling of sullen and mysterious tones in the
sulky obscurity--notes that seemed to come out of the seaward infinity,
that seemed to rise from each swinging respiring fold under us, in
voiceless sound that made you think of a moody conscience in some
labouring breast troubling the ear of imagination with mutterings whose
audibility was that of the inarticulate speech of phantoms.



It was about midnight, as I was able presently to gather, when a
sort of paleness entered into the fog; and hard upon the heels of
this change, the air, that had been weakly breathing, briskened
somewhat, fetching a deeper echo from the booming roll of the surf
on the starboard side; and the water came to the boat in a shivering
phosphoric light of ripples that set her a-dabbling.

The light brightening--that is the fog growing more luminous,
without appearing to thin--the boat's outline lay visible, together
with her furniture, such as the sail and the oars. I tenderly laid
Imogene's cold hand down, and turning the sail over, found--as I
had expected--the mast lying under it; and partly peering and partly
groping, I made out an iron clamp fitted to the foremost thwart or
seat, with an hollow under it in the bottom of the boat for receiving
the heel of the mast.

I lifted the spar and very easily stepped it, discovering that the
halliards for hoisting the sail were ready rove through a small block
seized to the head of the mast. I hauled upon this rope to clear the
sail, and perceived it to be shaped like a lug, fitted to a yard, only
the yard was arched, causing the head of the sail to appear like a bow
when the arrow is drawn upon it. Before setting the sail I went aft,
and by dint of feeling and staring discovered a rope grummet or hempen
hook fastened to the larboard horn, but close in, so that it lay out of
sight against the boat's stern. 'Twas very clear that this was meant
to receive an oar for steering; but whether or not it would serve my
turn for that purpose; so without more ado I rove an oar through the
grummet, then hoisted the sail, making the tack fast to the larboard
horn on the bow, and came aft with the sheet.

The boat instantly felt the pressure, and the wind being abaft the
beam, she slipped along like a sledge, as you will suppose, when I say
that her bottom was shaped like the side of a pea-shell, and that her
whole frame might have been imitated from one of those black pods of
sea-weed which are furnished by nature with wire-like projections, and
which may be found in plenty upon our sea-coast. The oar controlled her

The double motive I had for getting away from this place--first, to run
out of the fog and so get light to enable me to minister to Imogene,
and next to remove myself so far from the Death Ship as to render
pursuit hopeless even should the thickness in the bay clear up and
enable Vanderdecken to recover his boat which I had cut adrift; this
double motive, I say, lifted my anxiety and eagerness to the height of
madness. My dearest lay with her head towards me, and in the glistening
white obscurity I could discern her pale face upon the pillow of my
coat, but could not tell whether her eyes were open or shut. She did
not moan; she lay as still as the dead. I asked her if she was in pain.
She said "No," but in a voice so feeble that I had to bend my ear to
catch the syllable.

I could not think of her but as slowly dying to the streaming away of
her precious blood. What to do I knew not; and in addition to this
dreadful state of despair was the obligation upon me to watch the
boat and shrewdly and seriously attend to my course by the warning
surf-thunder floating back against the wind from the echoing strand.
From time to time I would address Imogene, always with a terror in me
of winning no reply, of touching her and finding her dead. Once she
answered that she believed the bleeding in her shoulder had stopped;
the icy-coldness was gone, and there was a small smarting there as if
she had been burnt, but nothing that she could not easily endure. But I
knew by the tone of her voice that she spoke only to give me comfort;
either that she was suffering above the power of her love for me to
conceal in her faltering whispers or that her strength was unequal to
the labour of utterance.

Yet, as I have said, what could I do? I was no chirurgeon; and I wonder
that my heart did not break to the bending of my scorching eyes upon my
love lying wounded and bleeding at my feet.

An hour passed; the fog still compassed us, but the white splendour of
the moon was upon it. Methought that I heard Imogene whisper; I dropped
on my knee, and she asked for water. I let go the steering oar, that
jammed in the grummet and that could not therefore go adrift, and with
great trouble found the little cup that I had hidden in one of the
bags, and poured some water out of the pitcher into it. She moaned
in pain when I put my arm under her head to raise it; but she drank
greedily, nevertheless, and thanked me in a whisper when I tenderly let
sink her head on to the jacket.

I resumed my place at the oar, and through the blackness drove the
boat, the sail pulling briskly, the water shining very brightly in our
wake, and, as my ear seemed to fancy, the noise of the surf dwindling
somewhat, whence I conjectured we were hauling off the coast and
standing more directly seawards. I do not know that I should have been
without hope for my beloved if it had not been for the haunting and
blasting thought that nothing but misery could attend association with
Vanderdecken and his doomed ship. It seemed to me now--though on board
I had been too eager to escape with her, too wrapped up in my love for
such consideration to occupy my mind--that nothing less than the death
of one of us could expiate our involuntary and unhappy connexion with
the banned and fated craft. Ships that spoke her perished, often with
all hands; misfortunes pursued those who merely sighted her. What sort
of death could the Curse involve for one who had lived for years or
for weeks in the monstrous fabric, who had conversed familiarly with
her abhorred occupants, who had been admitted into close inspection of
her secret life, beheld the enactment by Vanderdecken in his sleep of
the impious and horrible drama of his Christ-defying wrath, eat of his
bread, drank of his cup, yea, and hearkened with sympathy to his talk
of home, to his yearning speech concerning those he loved there?

The sense of the doom that was upon her as upon me--upon her in her
young and beautiful life, upon me in my love for her, upon both in the
crushing separation of the grave, whether 'twas for her to die or for
me; oh! I say, the sense of this thing weighed as iron and as ice upon
my heart, crushing out all hope and leaving me as blind in my soul as
my eyes were in the fog to steer the boat through the silence of that
vaporous night, hearing nothing but the rippling of the water, and the
blunted edge of the surf's wild beat, and beholding nothing but the
outline of my dearest--of my dearest--stricken and dying at my feet!

Suddenly the fog broke up. It was then about two o'clock. The vapour
floated into league-long streaks, lunar-tinted here and there into an
ærial mockery of the rainbow, and over the edge of one great steam-like
body the moon with an ice-like, diamond-splendour of radiance looked
down upon us out of a pool of black sky. The lustre had something of
the sharpness of daylight, only that the flooded pearl of it wore
the complexion of death, all things showing out wan; and in that
illumination the delicate gold of Imogene's hair melted into the
extreme pallor of the forehead on which it stirred to the wind, and her
lips were of the colour of her cheeks, and her half-closed lids like

I let go the oar to kneel and look at her. She lay so still, with such
unheeding eyes, that I made sure she was dead, and my brain reeled as
though my heart had stopped.

I said hoarsely and hollowly, "Imogene."

The fringe of her eyelids trembled, and I marked a faint smile on her

"Dearest," cried I, "how is it with thee?"

She returned no answer.

I said "I shall be able to see the wound now, and perhaps check the
bleeding. I can cut the dress clear of the shoulder and you need not

She exclaimed--but, my God, how feebly!--"Dearest, let me lie as I am,"
speaking with a sort of sigh between each word. And then she added,
"Kiss me."

I pressed my lips to hers; they were cold as the mist that was passing
away in wreaths and clouds. I saw how it was and let her have her way.
It would have been cruel to touch her with more than my lips. And even
though I should have cut away her apparel to the wound and saw it, what
could I do? Suppose the bleeding internal--the bullet lodged within,
the lung touched, or some artery severed?

A wild feeling seized me; I felt that I must leap upon a seat and rave
out madly or my head would burst. The efforts to control myself left me
trembling and weeping. I wiped from my brow the sweat that had leapt in
drops there out of my weakness, and put my hand upon the oar afresh.
The fog had settled away to leeward; it looked like a vast cliff of
snow-covered ice, and the moonshine worked in it in shifting veins of
delicate amber and dim steel-blue. Out of it, trending a little to the
south of west, rolled the loom of the dusky land; it died out in the
showering haze of the moonlight, whence ran the dark sea-line to right
astern of us--nothing in sight but the land growing out of the fog.
Over the horizon the stars hung like dew-drops, giving back the glory
of the central luminary and set twinkling by the wind. They soared in
sparkling dust, rich with large jewels, till they died out in the cold
silvering of the sky round about the moon.

My hysteric fit sobered down and I fell to sharply thinking. The
nearest refuge was Simon's Bay, and that would lie some three or four
hundred miles distant. How long would it take me to sail the boat
there? Why, 'twas a thing idle to calculate. Give me steady favourable
winds and smooth seas and I could answer; but here was a boat that,
like the ship she belonged to, was fit only to be blown along. She
could not beat, she had no keel for holding to the water. Hence
progress, if any was to be made, was so utterly a matter of chance
that conjecture fell dead to the first effort of thought. If I was
blown out to sea we might be picked up by a ship; if we were blown
ashore I might contrive to find a smooth spot for landing; if the wind
came away from the east and south it might, if it hung there, drive
me round Agulhas and perhaps to Simon's Bay. That's how it stood--no
better anyhow; but how much worse you may reckon when you reflect in
what part of the ocean we were, when you consider the season of the
year, how few in comparison with the mighty expanse of those waters
were the ships which sailed upon it, how worthless the boat as a
sea-going fabric, how huge the billows which the gales raised, how
murderous the shore to which the breakers, roaring on it, might forbid

Twice my darling moaned for water. Each time she thanked me with a
smile, but the mere task of swallowing seemed to rob her lips of the
power of pronouncing words. The moon went down in the west towards the
black line of land, and when it hung a rusty-red over the ebon shadow
under which trickled the blood-like flakes of its reflection, the dawn
broke. For above an hour I had not been able to see Imogene, so faint
had fallen the light of the westering orb, and for longer than that
time had she neither moaned, nor whispered, nor stirred.

I directed my burning eyes into the east for the sun, and when the pink
of him was in the sky, ere yet his brow had levelled the first flashing
beam of day, I looked at Imogene.

I looked, and yet looked; then knelt. She was smiling, and by that I
believed she lived; but when I peered into the half-closed lids--oh,
great God! The sun flamed out of the sea in a leap then, and I sprang
to my feet and cursed him with a scorching throat for finding me alone!

The sequel to this extraordinary narrative must be told by another pen.

On the morning of the second day of October, one thousand seven
hundred and ninety-six, the full-rigged ship Mary and James, bound
from Tonquin to London, dropped anchor in Table Bay. She had scarcely
swung to her cable when the gig was lowered, and her master, Captain
William Thunder, a small, bow-legged man, with a fiery nose and a
brown wig, entered her and was rowed ashore. He marched, or rather
rolled, into the town, which in those days was formed of a mere handful
of low-roofed, strongly-built houses, and knocking at one of them,
situated not a musket shot distant from the grounds of the building
of the Dutch East India Company, inquired for Mr. Van Stadens. The
coloured slave, or servant, showed him into a parlour, and presently
Mr. Van Stadens, an extremely corpulent Dutchman, entered.

They talked awhile of business, for Van Stadens was the South African
agent for the owner of the Mary and James, and then said Captain

"Mr. Van Stadens, I'm going to tell you the most wonderful thing you
ever heard in all your life."

"By Gott, Toonder, and so shall you," replied Van Stadens.

"See here," said the captain, polishing his forehead with so much
energy that he unconsciously shifted his wig, "we were about ninety
miles to the eastwards of Agulhas, the weather clear, the wind about
south, a quiet breeze, the ship under all plain sail, and the second
officer in charge of the deck, when a hand aloft sung out there was a
vessel three points on the lee bow. When we had her in sight from the
poop and caught her fair in the glass, I was so much struck by the cut
of her canvas, which was a lug, narrow in the head and secured to a
yard more arched than either of my legs, that I bore down to see what
was to be made of her by a close squint."

"So," said Van Stadens, crossing his legs and putting his hands upon
his waistcoat in a posture of prayer.

"She proved to be a canoe or boat," continued Captain Thunder, "rounded
at bottom like one of Crusoe's periaguas, with horns sticking out at
each square end of her. She was, or I should say she had been, painted
red inside. The blades of her oars, shaped like a Japanese fan, were
also painted red. Her sail looked to be an hundred years old--I never
saw the like of such canvas. The most perfect description of its
colour, patches, texture would have sounded an abominable lie to me if
I hadn't viewed it myself."

"So," said Van Stadens, nodding upon his four chins, which resembled
layers of pale gutta-percha, with the elastic properties of that stuff.

"In fact," said Captain Thunder, "she was of the exact fashion of the
boats you see in old Dutch paintings--ship's boats, I mean."

"How oldt?" asked Van Stadens.

"Two hundred years old," said Captain Thunder.

"Goot. Is dot der fonder, Toonder?"

"Not by all the distance from here to the top of Table Mountain, Mr.
Van Stadens," answered the captain. "I said to the second mate, 'That's
no natural boat, Mr. Swillig. If she belongs to the age in which she
appears to have been built she ought to have been powder or ooze a
hundred and fifty years ago. Can you make out anybody in her?' He said
'No,' and argued with me that there was something unnatural about her,
and recommended that we should haul to the wind again and appear as if
we hadn't seen her, but my curiosity was tickled and we stood on. Well,
Mr. Van Stadens, we passed close and what we saw fetched a groan out
of every man that was looking and brought our main-topsail to the mast
in the wink of a muskeety's eye, sir. A girl lay dead in the bottom of
the boat. She looked beautiful in death, in life she must have been as
lovely as the prettiest of the angels of God. But her dress! Why, Mr.
Van Stadens, it belonged to the time the boat was built in. Ay, as I
sit here to say it!"

The Dutchman shook his head.

"You shall see it for yourself, sir--you shall see it for yourself!"
cried Captain Thunder, with excitement. "We all said she had been
floating about in that boat for two hundred years, and was a dead
saint watched by the eye of God, and not to be corrupted as you and me
would be. There were three Dagos in our crew, and when they saw her
they crossed themselves. But that wasn't all--not nearly all. In the
bows lay the figure of a seaman--an English sailor, dressed as my mate
is. We thought he was dead, too, till we lowered a boat, when on a
sudden he lifted his head out of his arms and looked at us. There was
a shine in his eye that showed us his wits were gone. Such a haggard
face, Mr. Van Stadens!--unshaven for weeks, and his hair all of a mat;
yet you saw he had been a handsome man and was a young one too. Well,
his being alive settled any hesitation I might have felt had they both
been corpses. I sung out to my second mate to bring him aboard and the
girl's body also, proposing decent burial; but the sailor man wasn't
to be coaxed out of the boat; he grinned with rage to Mr. Swillig's
invitations, flung himself upon the girl's body, howling like a dog
when my men boarded him, and caused such a scuffle and a melee that
both boats came very near to being swampt. They bound him with the
painter, and brought him and the corpse on board along with three bags
of provisions-such bags, Mr. Van Stadens, and such provisions, sir!
But ye shall see 'em--ye shall see 'em, and a pitcher half full of
water and a silver cup----"

"Eh?" grumbled Van Stadens.

"A silver cup."

"So," said the Dutchman. "Now ve com to der fonders."

"Ay, sir, as you say. Look here!"

He pulled a ring out of his waistcoat pocket and held it up. It was a
diamond ring of splendour and beauty. The gems flashed gloriously and
Van Stadens gaped at their brilliance like a wolf yawning at the moon.

"Vere got you dot, Toonder?

"Off the girl's finger. 'Tis but one, Mr. Van Stadens."

"But fon, hey! By toonder, Toonder, but dot ring is der fonderfullest
part of your story as yet."

He took it in his hand and his eyes danced greedily to the sparkle of
the beautiful bauble.

"Well," continued Captain Thunder, "we put the man into a spare cabin,
and gave the job of watching him to the steward, a stout hearty fellow.
The girl was stone-dead, of course. I ordered her dress, jacket and hat
to be removed, likewise the jewellery about her--specially a noble rope
of pearls----"

"By toonder, no! You shoke, Toonder!" cried Van Stadens.

"Ye shall see with your own eyes--ye shall see with your own eyes!"
exclaimed the captain. "I gave these orders more with the idea of the
things proving of use to identify her by than for their value. I never
saw such under-linen, sir. 'Twas exquisitely fine and choice. Beyond
description, Mr. Van Stadens. There was a ball-wound in her shoulder,
with a caking of blood about it. That the fellow below had done this
thing I could not suppose. There were no arms of any kind--if you
except a big clasp knife--on him or in his boat. We buried the poor,
sweet, murdered thing in her fine linen, giving her a sailor's hammock
for a coffin and a sailor's toss for a last farewell. As for the
boat, she looked unnatural and unlucky, and I think my men would have
mutinied if I had ordered them to sling her over the side. We unstepped
the mast and sent her adrift for the MAN she belongs to to pick up, if
so be he stands in need of her."

"Vot MAN?" inquired Van Stadens.

"Vanderdecken," responded Captain Thunder, in a low voice, and with
as much awe in his face as his fiery pimple of a nose would suffer to

"Vot!" shouted Van Stadens. "Der Flying Deutchman!"

Captain Thunder nodded. The other smiled, and then broke into a roar of

"Hark, Mr. Van Stadens, wait till I've done," exclaimed Thunder, with
his face full of blood. "All that day the man remained moody, with a
lunatic's sullenness. He refused to eat or drink. I was in and out a
dozen times but couldn't get him to speak. Well, sir, at nine o'clock
in the night the steward came and told me he was asleep. He was watched
all night, but never stirred; all next night, and the day after that,
and the night after that, sir, but he never stirred. For sixty hours
he slept, Mr. Van Stadens, or may I not leave this room alive! and
I thought he meant dying in that fashion. Then he awoke, sat up and
talked rationally. His mind had come back to him and he was as sensible
as you or me."


"Well, he fed and rested a bit, and then feeling stronger, he told me
his story." And here Captain Thunder repeated what is already known to
the reader.

Mr. Van Stadens listened with his fat face full of incredulity.

"'Tis fonderful, inteet," said he, "but it isn't true."

"I believe every word of it," said Thunder. "Blast the Flying Dutchman!
who doubts him?"

"Your sailor man is mad," said Van Stadens.

"Oh, indeed," sneered Thunder. "Then account to me for the boat I saw
him in, for his female companion lying dead of a gunshot wound; for
this," said he, holding up the diamond ring, "and for other matters
I'll show you when we get aboard."

"Ve vill go on boort at oonst," cried Van Stadens.

They repaired to the ship and found Geoffrey Fenton in the cabin.
He looked haggard, weak, extremely sorrowful; but he was as sane as
ever he had been at any time of his life. Thunder introduced Van
Stadens, and to this Dutchman Fenton repeated his story, relating it
so artlessly, with such minuteness of detail, above all unconsciously
using so many old-fashioned Dutch words, which he had acquired from
Vanderdecken, that the wonder in Van Stadens' face grew into a look
of stupefaction. He muttered, frequently, "Fonderful! fonderful! By
toonder, amazing!" But the measure of Captain Thunder's triumph over
the agent's incredulity was not full till the articles belonging to
Fenton--for so they were regarded--were produced. Van Stadens examined
the pearls, the rings which poor Imogene had worn, the silver goblet,
the antique dress, jacket and sealskin cap, Vanderdecken's velvet
cloak, the pitcher, the articles of food which had been preserved,
these things, I say, Van Stadens examined with mingled admiration and
consternation, such as a man might feel to whom another exhibits a
treasure he has sold his soul to the Devil for.

"Do you believe now!" cried Captain Thunder.

"It is fonderful! it is fonderful!" returned the Dutchman. "Do you go
home with Toonder, Herr Fenton?"

"No," said Thunder, "I am sorry; I dare not do it. The crew have got
scent of the experiences of our friend here and wouldn't sail with him
for tenfold the value of the plate and silver in the Death Ship's hold."

"I do not blame them," said Fenton, with a melancholy smile.

"What I have proposed to Mr. Fenton is this, Mr. Van Stadens," said the
captain: "You are a man of honour and will see that right is done to
this poor gentleman."

"So," said Van Stadens.

"Let these articles be sold," continued Thunder.

"All but the diamond ring," interrupted Fenton.

"All but the diamond ring," said the captain. "No one need know how
they were obtained; not a syllable of Mr. Fenton's story must be
repeated; otherwise he'll get no ship to carry him home."

Van Stadens turned to Fenton and said in Dutch: "I will buy these goods
from you. Their value shall be assessed to our common satisfaction.
Meanwhile, a room in my house--my house itself--is at your service.
Remain awhile to recruit your strength, and I will secure you a passage
to Amsterdam in the Indiaman that is due here about the end of this

They shook hands, and half-an-hour later Fenton had taken leave of
Captain Thunder and his ship.

It is proper to say here that the hospitable but shrewd Dutchman gave
Fenton eight hundred dollars for the Vanderdecken relics, and when
Fenton had sailed, sold them for three thousand ducatoons, of eighty
stivers each, after clearing some thousands of dollars by exhibiting

The subsequent safe arrival of Geoffrey Fenton in Europe may be
gathered from his narrative. Necessity forced him back to his old
vocation and he continued at sea, holding various important commands
down to the age of sixty. Among his papers is a curious note relating
to the fate of the vessels which had encountered the Death Ship during
the time to which his narrative refers. The Plymouth snow, after
speaking the Saracen, was never again heard of; the Saracen was lost on
one of the islands of the Chagos Archipelago, but her people were saved
to a man by the boats. The Centaur, three days after sighting the Death
Ship, was dismasted in a hurricane and struggled into Simon's Bay in a
sinking condition. The fate of the French corsair is not known, but it
is satisfactory to know that the James and Mary reached the Thames in
safety after an uneventful passage.







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drawing-room table and the circulating library."--_Lancet._

"This is a pleasant book for the fireside season, and for the seaside
season. Mr. Jeaffreson has, out of hundreds of volumes, collected
thousands of good things, adding thereto much that appears in print for
the first time, and which, of course, gives increased value to this
very readable book."--_Athenæum._



"We advise all who have the opportunity to read this book. It is well
worth the study."--_Athenæum._

"A work of great originality, merit, and power."--_Standard._



"A good wholesome book, gracefully written, and as pleasant to read as
it is instructive."--_Athenæum._

"A charming tale, charmingly told."--_Standard._

"All lovers of a good novel will hail with delight another of Mrs.
Craik's charming stories."--_John Bull._



"'Lost and Saved' will be read with eager interest by those who love a
touching story. It is a vigorous novel."--_Times._

"This story is animated, full of exciting situations and stirring
incidents. The characters are delineated with great power. Above and
beyond these elements of a good novel, there is that indefinable charm
with which true genius invests all it touches."--_Daily News._



_Authorised Copyright English Translation._

"The merits of 'Les Miserables' do not merely consist in the
conception of it as a whole; it abounds with details of unequalled
beauty. M. Victor Hugo has stamped upon every page the hall-mark of
genius."--_Quarterly Review._



"It is not often that we light upon a novel of so much merit and
interest as 'Barbara's History.' It is a work conspicuous for taste
and literary culture. It is a very graceful and charming book, with a
well-managed story, clearly-cut characters, and sentiments expressed
with an exquisite elocution. The dialogues especially sparkle with
repartee. It is a book which the world will like. This is high praise
of a work of art and so we intend it."--_The Times._



"A good book on a most interesting theme."--_Times._

"A truly interesting and most affecting memoir. 'Irving's Life'
ought to have a niche in every gallery of religious biography. There
are few lives that will be fuller of instruction, interest, and
consolation."--_Saturday Review._



"This novel is the work of one who possesses a great talent for
writing, as well as experience and knowledge of the world. The whole
book is worth reading."--_Athenæum._

"'St Olave's' belongs to a lofty order of fiction. It is a good novel,
but it is something more. It is written with unflagging ability, and
it is as even as it is clever. The author has determined to do nothing
short of the best, and has succeeded."--_Morning Post._


"Dip where you will into this lottery of fun, you are sure to draw out
a prize. These 'Traits' exhibit most successfully the broad national
features of American humour."--_Post._



"A more charming story has rarely been written. It is a choice gift to
be able thus to render human nature so truly, to penetrate its depths
with such a searching sagacity, and to illuminate them with a radiance
so eminently the writer's own."--_Times._



"No account of this story would give any idea of the profound interest
that pervades the work from the first page to the last."--_Athenæum._

"A novel of uncommon merit. Sir Walter Scott said he would advise no
man to try to read 'Clarissa Harlowe' out loud in company if he wished
to keep his character for manly superiority to tears. We fancy a good
many hardened old novel-readers will feel a rising in the throat as
they follow the fortunes of Alec and Annie."--_Pall Mall Gazette._



"'Agnes' is a novel superior to any of Mrs. Oliphant's former

"Mrs. Oliphant is one of the most admirable of our novelists. In her
works there are always to be found high principle, good taste, sense,
and refinement. 'Agnes' is a story whose pathetic beauty will appeal
irresistibly to all readers."--_Morning Post._



"Few men and no women will read 'A Noble Life' without feeling
themselves the better for the effort."--_Spectator._

"A beautifully written and touching tale. It is a noble
book."--_Morning Post._

"'A Noble Life' is remarkable for the high types of character it
presents, and the skill with which they are made to work out a story of
powerful and pathetic interest."--_Daily News._



"A very interesting book. Mr. Dixon has written thoughtfully and

"We recommend everyone who feels any interest in human nature to read
Mr. Dixon's very interesting book."--_Saturday Review._



"'Robert Falconer' is a work brimful of life and humour and of the
deepest human interest. It is a book to be returned to again and again
for the deep and searching knowledge it evinces of human thoughts and



"'The Woman's Kingdom' sustains the author's reputation as a writer of
the purest and noblest kind of domestic stories."--_Athenæum._

"'The Woman's Kingdom' is remarkable for its romantic interest. The
characters are masterpieces. Edna is worthy of the hand that drew John
Halifax."--_Morning Post._



"A racy, well-written, and original novel. The interest never flags.
The whole work sparkles with wit and humour."--_Quarterly Review._



"A novel which is the work of a man of genius. It will attract the
highest class of readers."--_Times._



"We earnestly recommend this novel. It is a special and worthy specimen
of the author's remarkable powers. The reader's attention never for a
moment flags."--_Post._

"'A Brave Lady' thoroughly rivets the unmingled sympathy of the
reader, and her history deserves to stand foremost among the author's
works."--_Daily Telegraph._



"A very pleasant, healthy story, well and artistically told. The book
is sure of a wide circle of readers. The character of Hannah is one of
rare beauty."--_Standard._

"A powerful novel of social and domestic life. One of the most
successful efforts of a successful novelist."--_Daily News._


"This is one of the most amusing books that we ever read."--_Standard._

"'The Americans at Home' will not be less popular than any of Judge
Halliburton's previous works."--_Morning Post._



"These stories are gems of narrative. Indeed, some of them, in their
touching grace and simplicity, seem to us to possess a charm even
beyond the authoress's most popular novels. Of none of them can this be
said more emphatically than of that which opens the series 'The Unkind
Word.' It is wonderful to see the imaginative power displayed in the
few delicate touches by which this successful love-story is sketched
out."--_The Echo._



"'A Rose in June' is as pretty as its title. The story is one of
the best and most touching which we owe to the industry and talent
of Mrs. Oliphant, and may hold its own with even 'The Chronicles of



"This story presents a number of vivid and very charming pictures.
Indeed, the whole book is charming. It is interesting in both character
and story, and thoroughly good of its kind."--_Saturday Review._



"This last 'Chronicle of Carlingford' not merely takes rank fairly
beside the first which introduced us to 'Salem Chapel,' but surpasses
all the intermediate records. Phoebe, Junior, herself is admirably



"A work of remarkable merit and interest, which will, we
doubt not, become the most popular English history of Marie



"'Sir Gibbie' is a book of genius."--_Pall Mall Gazette._

"This book has power, pathos, and humour."--_Athenæum._



"'Young Mrs. Jardine' is a pretty story, written in pure
English."--_The Times._

"There is much good feeling in this book. It is pleasant and



"A very readable story. The author has well conceived the purpose
of high-class novel-writing, and succeeded in no small measure in
attaining it. There is plenty of variety, cheerful dialogue, and
general 'verve' in the book."--_Athenæum._



"In 'It was a Lover and his Lass,' we admire Mrs. Oliphant exceedingly.
It would be worth reading a second time, were it only for the sake of
one ancient Scottish spinster, who is nearly the counterpart of the
admirable Mrs. Margaret Maitland."--_Times._



"Mr. Jeaffreson comes forward with a narrative which must take a
very important place in Byronic literature; and it may reasonably be
anticipated that this book will be regarded with deep interest by all
who are concerned in the works and the fame of this great English
poet."--_The Times._

_Each in One Volume, Frontispiece, and Uniformly Bound, Price 5s._


"We enjoy our old friend's company with unabated relish. This work is
a rattling miscellany of sharp sayings, stories, and hard hits. It is
full of fun and fancy."--_Athenæum._

"Since Sam's first work he has written nothing so fresh, racy, and
genuinely humorous as this. Every line of it tells in some way or
other--instructively, satirically, jocosely, or wittily. Admiration
of Sam's mature talents, and laughter at his droll yarns, constantly
alternate as with unhalting avidity we peruse the work. The Clockmaker
proves himself the fastest time-killer a-going."--_Observer._


"This delightful book will be the most popular, as beyond doubt it is
the best, of all the author's admirable works."--_Standard._

"The book before us will be read and laughed over. Its quaint and
racy dialect will please some readers--its abundance of yarns
will amuse others. There is something to suit readers of every

"The humour of Sam Slick is inexhaustible. He is ever and everywhere
a welcome visitor; smiles greet his approach, and wit and wisdom hang
upon his tongue. We promise our readers a great treat from the perusal
of these 'Wise Saws,' which contain a world of practical wisdom, and a
treasury of the richest fun."--_Morning Post._


"By common consent this work is regarded as one of the raciest, truest
to life, most humorous, and most interesting works which have proceeded
from the prolific pen of its author. We all know what shrewdness of
observation, what power of graphic description, what natural resources
of drollery, and what a happy method of hitting off the broader
characteristics of the life he reviews, belong to Judge Haliburton.
We have all those qualities here; but they are balanced by a serious
literary purpose, and are employed in the communication of information
respecting certain phases of colonial experience which impart to the
work an element of sober utility."--_Sunday Times._


"No man has done more than the facetious Judge Haliburton, through the
mouth of the inimitable 'Sam,' to make the old parent country recognise
and appreciate her queer transatlantic progeny. His present collection
of comic stories and laughable traits is a budget of fun, full of rich
specimens of American humour."--_Globe._

"Yankeeism, portrayed in its raciest aspect, constitutes the contents
of these superlatively entertaining sketches. The work embraces the
most varied topics--political parties, religious eccentricities, the
flights of literature, and the absurdities of pretenders to learning,
all come in for their share of satire; while we have specimens of
genuine American exaggerations and graphic pictures of social and
domestic life as it is. The work will have a wide circulation."--_John


"In this highly entertaining work we are treated to another cargo of
capital stories from the inexhaustible store of our Yankee friend.
In the volume before us he dishes up, with his accustomed humour and
terseness of style, a vast number of tales, none more entertaining
than another, and all of them graphically illustrative of the ways
and manners of brother Jonathan. The anomalies of American law, the
extraordinary adventures incident to life in the backwoods, and, above
all, the peculiarities of American society, are variously, powerfully,
and, for the most part, amusingly exemplified."--_John Bull._

"In the picturesque delineation of character, and the felicitous
portraiture of national features, no writer equals Judge Haliburton,
and the subjects embraced in the present delightful book call forth, in
new and vigorous exercise, his peculiar powers. 'The Americans at Home'
will not be less popular than any of his previous works."--_Post._


_Each in One Volume, Frontispiece, and Uniformly Bound, price 5s._


"This is a very good and a very interesting work. It is designed to
trace the career from boyhood to age of a perfect man--a Christian
gentleman, and it abounds in incident both well and highly wrought.
Throughout it is conceived in a high spirit, and written with great
ability. This cheap and handsome new edition is worthy to pass freely
from hand to hand as a gift-book in many households."--_Examiner._

"The story is very interesting. The attachment between John Halifax and
his wife is beautifully painted, as are the pictures of their domestic
life, and the growing up of their children, and the conclusion of the
book is beautiful and touching."--_Athenæum._

"The new and cheaper edition of this interesting work will doubtless
meet with great success. John Halifax, the hero of this most beautiful
story, is no ordinary hero, and this his history is no ordinary book.
It is a full-length portrait of a true gentleman, one of nature's own
nobility. It is also the history of a home, and a thoroughly English
one. The work abounds in incident, and is full of graphic power and
true pathos. It is a book that few will read without becoming wiser and


"A book of sound counsel. It is one of the most sensible works of its
kind, well written, true-hearted, and altogether practical. Whoever
wishes to give advice to a young lady may thank the author for means of
doing so."--_Examiner._

"These thoughts are worthy of the earnest and enlightened mind, the
all-embracing charity, and the well-earned reputation of the author of
'John Halifax.'"--_Standard._

"This excellent book is characterised by good sense, good taste, and
feeling, and is written in an earnest, philanthropic, as well as
practical spirit."--_Post._


"We are always glad to welcome this author. She writes from her own
convictions, and she has the power not only to conceive clearly what
it is that she wishes to say, but to express it in language effective
and vigorous. In 'A Life for a Life' she is fortunate in a good
subject, and she has produced a work of strong effect. The reader,
having read the book through for the story, will be apt (if he be of
our persuasion) to return and read again many pages and passages with
greater pleasure than on a first perusal. The whole book is replete
with a graceful, tender delicacy; and, in addition to its other merits,
it is written in good careful English."--_Athenæum._


"'Nothing New' displays all those superior merits which have made 'John
Halifax' one of the most popular works of the day."--_Post._

"The reader will find these narratives calculated to remind him of that
truth and energy of human portraiture, that spell over human affections
and emotions, which have stamped this author as one of the first
novelists of our day."--_John Bull._


"'The Woman's Kingdom' sustains the author's reputation as a writer of
the purest and noblest kind of domestic stories. The novelist's lesson
is given with admirable force and sweetness."--_Athenæum._

"'The Woman's Kingdom' is remarkable for its romantic interest. The
characters are masterpieces. Edna is worthy of the hand that drew John


"These studies are truthful and vivid pictures of life, often earnest,
always full of right feeling, and occasionally lightened by touches of
quiet genial humour. The volume is remarkable for thought, sound sense,
shrewd observation, and kind and sympathetic feeling for all things
good and beautiful."--_Post._


"A more charming story, to our taste, has rarely been written. Within
the compass of a single volume the writer has hit off a circle of
varied characters, all true to nature--some true to the highest
nature--and she has entangled them in a story which keeps us in
suspense till the knot is happily and gracefully resolved; while, at
the same time, a pathetic interest is sustained by an art of which it
would be difficult to analyse the secret. It is a choice gift to be
able thus to render human nature so truly, to penetrate its depths
with such a searching sagacity, and to illuminate them with a radiance
so eminently the writer's own. Even if tried by the standard of the
Archbishop of York, we should expect that even he would pronounce
'Christian's Mistake' a novel without a fault."--_The Times._

"This is a story good to have from the circulating library, but better
to have from one's bookseller, for it deserves a place in that little
collection of clever and wholesome stories which forms one of the
comforts of a well-appointed home."--_Examiner._


"A good, wholesome book, as pleasant to read as it is

"This book is written with the same true-hearted earnestness as 'John
Halifax.' The spirit of the whole work is excellent."--_Examiner._

"A charming tale charmingly told."--_Standard._


"This is one of those pleasant tales in which the author of 'John
Halifax' speaks out of a generous heart the purest truths of

"Few men, and no women, will read 'A Noble Life' without finding
themselves the better."--_Spectator._

"A story of powerful and pathetic interest."--_Daily News._


"A very good novel, showing a tender sympathy with human nature, and
permeated by a pure and noble spirit."--_Examiner._

"A most charming story."--_Standard._

"We earnestly recommend this novel. It is a special and worthy specimen
of the author's remarkable powers. The reader's attention never for a
moment flags."--_Post._


"A powerful novel of social and domestic life. One of the most
successful efforts of a successful novelist."--_Daily News._

"A very pleasant, healthy story, well and artistically told. The book
is sure of a wide circle of readers. The character of Hannah is one of
rare beauty."--_Standard._


"The author of 'John Halifax' has written many fascinating stories, but
we can call to mind nothing from her pen that has a more enduring charm
than the graceful sketches in this work. Such a character as Jessie
stands out from a crowd of heroines as the type of all that is truly
noble, pure, and womanly."--_United Service Magazine._


"'Young Mrs. Jardine' is a pretty story, written in pure
English."--_The Times._

"There is much good feeling in this book. It is pleasant and

"A book that all should read. Whilst it is quite the equal of any of
its predecessors in elevation of thought and style, it is perhaps their
superior in interest of plot and dramatic intensity. The characters are
admirably delineated, and the dialogue is natural and clear."--_Morning


_Each in One Volume, Frontispiece, and Uniformly Bound, Price 5s._


"'Adam Graeme' is a story awakening genuine emotions of interest and
delight by its admirable pictures of Scottish life and scenery. The
plot is cleverly complicated, and there is great vitality in the
dialogue, and remarkable brilliancy in the descriptive passages, as
who that has read 'Margaret Mailand' would not be prepared to expect?
But the story has a 'mightier magnet still,' in the healthy tone which
pervades it, in its feminine delicacy of thought and diction, and in
the truly womanly tenderness of its sentiments. The eloquent author
sets before us the essential attributes of Christian virtue, their deep
and silent workings in the heart, and their beautiful manifestations
in the life, with a delicacy, a power, and a truth which can hardly be
surpassed."--_Morning Post._


"We have had frequent opportunities of commending Messrs. Hurst and
Blackett's Standard Library. For neatness, elegance, and distinctness
the volumes in this series surpass anything with which we are familiar.
'The Laird of Norlaw' will fully sustain the author's high reputation.
The reader is carried on from first to last with an energy of sympathy
that never flags."--_Sunday Times._

"'The Laird of Norlaw' is worthy of the author's reputation. It is one
of the most exquisite of modern novels."--_Observer._


"In 'It was a Lover and his Lass,' we admire Mrs. Oliphant exceedingly.
Her story is a very pretty one. It would be worth reading a second
time, were it only for the sake of one ancient Scottish spinster,
who is nearly the counterpart of the admirable Mrs. Margaret


"'Agnes' is a novel superior to any of Mrs. Oliphant's former

"Mrs. Oliphant is one of the most admirable of our novelists. In her
works there are always to be found high principle, good taste, sense,
and refinement. 'Agnes' is a story whose pathetic beauty will appeal
irresistibly to all readers."--_Morning Post._


"'A Rose in June' is as pretty as its title. The story is one of
the best and most touching which we owe to the industry and talent
of Mrs. Oliphant, and may hold its own with even 'The Chronicles of


"This last 'Chronicle of Carlingford' not merely takes rank fairly
beside the first which introduced us to 'Salem Chapel,' but surpasses
all the intermediate records. Phoebe, Junior, herself is admirably


"A good book on a most interesting theme."--_Times._

"A truly interesting and most affecting memoir. 'Irving's Life'
ought to have a niche in every gallery of religious biography. There
are few lives that will be fuller of instruction, interest, and
consolation."--_Saturday Review._


_Each in One Volume, Frontispiece, and Uniformly Bound, Price 5s._


"No account of this story would give any idea of the profound interest
that pervades the work from the first page to the last."--_Athenæum._

"A novel of uncommon merit. Sir Walter Scott said he would advise no
man to try to read 'Clarissa Harlowe' out loud in company if he wished
to keep his character for manly superiority to tears. We fancy a good
many hardened old novel-readers will feel a rising in the throat as
they follow the fortunes of Alec and Annie."--_Pall Mall Gazette._

"The whole story is one of surpassing excellence and beauty."--_Daily

"This book is full of good thought and good writing. Dr. Mac Donald
looks in his stories more to the souls of men and women than to their
social outside. He reads life and Nature like a true poet."--_Examiner._


"'Robert Falconer' is a work brimful of life and humour and of the
deepest human interest. It is a work to be returned to again and again
for the deep and searching knowledge it evinces of human thoughts and

"This story abounds in exquisite specimens of the word-painting in
which Dr. Mac Donald excels, charming transcripts of Nature, full of
light, air, and colour."--_Saturday Review._

"This noble story displays to the best advantage all the powers of Dr.
Mac Donald's genius."--_Illustrated London News._

"'Robert Falconer' is the noblest work of fiction that Dr. Mac Donald
has yet produced."--_British Quarterly Review._

"The dialogues in 'Robert Falconer' are so finely blended with humour
and pathos as to make them in themselves an intellectual treat to which
the reader returns again and again."--_Spectator._


"A novel which is the work of a man of genius. It will attract the
highest class of readers."--_Times._

"There are many beautiful passages and descriptions in this book. The
characters are extremely well drawn."--_Athenæum._

"A clever novel. The incidents are exciting, and the interest is
maintained to the close. It may be doubted if Sir Walter Scott
himself ever painted a Scotch fireside with more truth than Dr. Mac
Donald."--_Morning Post._

"David Elginbrod is the finest character we have met in fiction for
many a day. The descriptions of natural scenery are vivid, truthful,
and artistic; the general reflections are those of a refined,
thoughtful, and poetical philosopher, and the whole moral atmosphere of
the book is lofty, pure, and invigorating."--_Globe._


"'Sir Gibbie' is a book of genius."--_Pall Mall Gazette._

"This book has power, pathos, and humour. There is not a character
which is not life-like. There are many powerful scenes, and the
portraits will stay long in our memory."--_Athenæum._

"'Sir Gibbie' is unquestionably a book of genius. It abounds in
humour, pathos, insight into character, and happy touches of

"'Sir Gibbie' contains some of the most charming writing the author has
yet produced."--_Scotsman._

"'Sir Gibbie' is one of the most touching and beautiful stories that
has been written for many years. It is not a novel to be idly read and
laid aside; it is a grand work, to be kept near at hand, and studied
and thought over."--_Morning Post._




"This is a very admirable work. The reader is from the first carried
away by the gallant unconventionality of its author. 'Donovan' is a
very excellent novel; but it is something more and better. It should do
as much good as the best sermon ever written or delivered extempore.
The story is told with a grand simplicity, an unconscious poetry of
eloquence which stirs the very depths of the heart. One of the main
excellencies of this novel is the delicacy of touch with which the
author shows her most delightful characters to be after all human
beings, and not angels before their time."--_Standard._


"A work of deep thought and much power. Serious as it is, it is now and
then brightened by rays of genuine humour. Altogether this story is
more and better than a novel."--_Morning Post._

"There is artistic realism both in the conception and the delineation
of the personages; the action and interest are unflaggingly sustained
from first to last, and the book is pervaded by an atmosphere of
elevated, earnest thought."--_Scotsman._


"Miss Lyall has given us a vigorous study of such life and character
as are really worth reading about. The central figure of her story is
Algernon Sydney; and this figure she invests with a singular dignity
and power. He always appears with effect, but no liberties are taken
with the facts of his life. The plot is adapted with great felicity to
them. His part in it, absolutely consistent as it is with historical
truth, gives it reality as well as dignity. Some of the scenes are
remarkably vivid. The escape is an admirable narrative, which almost
makes one hold one's breath as one reads."--_Spectator._


"'Knight-Errant' is marked by the author's best qualities as a writer
of fiction, and displays on every page the grace and quiet power of her
former works."--_Athenæum._

"The plot, and, indeed, the whole story, is gracefully fresh and very
charming; there is a wide humanity in the book that cannot fail to
accomplish its author's purpose."--_Literary World._

"This novel is distinctly helpful and inspiring from its high tone,
its intense human feeling, and its elevated morality. It forms an
additional proof, if such were needed, that Miss Lyall has a mandate to


"The Dean's daughters are perfectly real characters--the learned
Cornelia especially;--the little impulsive French heroine, who endures
their cold hospitality and at last wins their affection, is thoroughly
charming; while throughout the book there runs a golden thread of pure
brotherly and sisterly love, which pleasantly reminds us that the
making and marring of marriage is not, after all, the sum total of real







  LARKING. With twelve Illustrations, from original Drawings by the
  Author. 1 vol. small 4to. 10s. 6d.

"The author's accounts of tiger hunts will be entertaining both to
those who have met and those who desire to meet the king of the Indian
fauna in his own dominions."--_Morning Post._

"Colonel Larking is to be the more congratulated on having written a
readable work of travel in an already well-known country."--_Society

"The book may be recommended to the attention of people either
proceeding to our great Eastern possessions, or having friends out

"Any person contemplating a short trip to India will find in this book
some useful hints with regard to outfit, &c."--_Field._

  WILKINSON, M.A., Author of "Reminiscences of the Court and Times of
  King Ernest of Hanover." With Portrait of Dr. Keate. 1 vol. crown
  8vo. 6s.

"Mr. Wilkinson's book is thoroughly fresh and entertaining;
it is crammed full of good stories, and will be a joy to all

"The author puts before us a book full of anecdotes on all sorts of
subjects arising out of his main text."--_Queen._

"Mr. Wilkinson has written an exceedingly good book on Eton. It is the
work of a thoroughly enthusiastic Etonian."--_Saturday Review._

"The author gives a lively and amusing account of scholastic doings
during his nine years' sojourn."--_Whitehall Review._

  LADY HAMILTON AND LORD NELSON. An Historical Biography based on
  Letters and other Documents in the possession of ALFRED MORRISON,
  Esq., of Fonthill, Wiltshire. By JOHN CORDY JEAFFRESON, Author of
  "The Real Lord Byron," &c. 2 vols. crown 8vo. 21s.

"Mr. Jeaffreson may be thanked for the new and favourable light which
he has been able to throw upon the public and private conduct both of
Lady Hamilton and of Nelson."--_Globe._

"It only remains for us to compliment Mr. Jeaffreson upon the reliable,
painstaking, thorough way in which he has dealt with the story of Lady
Hamilton, without offending the moral sense of his readers."--_Academy._

"Mr. Jeaffreson has brought to bear his great mastership of detail
and skill in marshalling facts, and at least a genuine tribute of
admiration may be offered to the author for the discreet and scholarly
manner in which he has treated a matter bristling with dangers to an
inexperienced or careless writer."--_Morning Post._

"It would be difficult indeed not to be grateful to Mr. Jeaffreson
for the two attractive volumes which he has devoted to Lady
Hamilton."--_Whitehall Review._

  and LADY MARY WOOD. With Illustrations. 1 vol. crown 8vo. 7s. 6d.

"The whole journey is recounted in such a way as to make the narrative
agreeable reading, and to intending travellers in the same track it
contains many useful hints and suggestions."--_Queen._

"As a whole, the book may be commended as a pleasant and thoroughly
English account of a pastime peculiar to the Anglo-Saxon
race."--_Morning Post._

  BROWN, late 79th Cameron Highlanders. With Eight Illustrations, by
  J. C. DOLLMAN, R.I. 1 vol. small 4to. 10s. 6d.

"A glorious book. It is palpably the work of a true sportsman."--_Horse
and Hound._

"The Sketches are delightfully written, models of clear, bright, racy
narrative, and containing just those particulars that a sportsman
wishes to know."--_Scotsman._

The author goes through the round of Indian sport, and writes in such
a pleasant fashion as to make his pages agreeable reading to all for
whom the subject itself has attractions; the book has the additional
advantage of some spirited illustrations."--_The Field._

"Mr. Moray Brown records his long experiences among big game in India
with capital spirit and style; there are some thrilling pages on
pig-sticking and tiger-shooting."--_The World._

  THROUGH CYPRUS. By AGNES SMITH, Author of "Glimpses of Greek Life
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Transcriber's Notes

Obvious punctuation errors repaired.

Inconsistent hyphenation fixed.

Table of contents entry for Chapter VII changed to page 131.

P. 38: made no reponse -> made no response.

P. 262: melhee -> melee.

Ad for SHIKAR SKETCHES: Horse and Hourd -> Horse and Hound.

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