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Title: Picked Up Adrift - Illustrated
Author: De Mille, James
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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PICKED UP ADRIFT

By Prof. James De Mille,

Author Of “The B. O. W. C.,” “The Boys Of Grand Pré School,” “Lost In
The Fog,” “Fire In The Woods,” “The Treasure Of The Seas,” “Among The
Brigands,” “The Seven Hills,” Etc.

Illustrated

Boston: Lee And Shepard, Publishers

1872.

[Illustration: 0006]


[Illustration: 0007]



TO BE COMPLETED IN SIX VOLS.

1. The “B. O. W. C.”

2. The Boys Of Grand Pré School.

3. Lost In The Fog.

4. Fire In The Woods.

5. Picked Up Adrift.

(Others in preparation.)



PICKED UP ADRIFT.



I.

_The enterprising Voyageurs.--A Parliament--Where shall we go next?--The
Islands of the Sea.--Captain Corbet’s Confession.--Once more, upon
the Waters.--The lonely Isle.--The strange Schooner.--Ashore.--A new
Acquaintance.--A Disciple of Progress.--Railroads and Telegraphs for the
Magdalen Islands._


THE Antelope had traversed all the waters of the Baie de Chaleur, and
the enterprising voyageurs on board had met with many adventures by sea
and land; and at length all these were exhausted, and, as the time drew
near for their departure, the question arose where next to go, which
question was discussed in full council assembled upon the deck; present
Bruce, Arthur, Bart, Tom, Phil, Pat, Captain Corbet, Wade, and Solomon,
Bruce being in the chair--that is to say, on the taffrail. “All you that
are in favor of going home, say ‘Ay’,” said Bruce.

There was a dead silence. Not one spoke.

“That’s not the way to go about it,” said Bart. “It isn’t parliamentary.
Let’s do business regularly. Come. I rise, Mr. President, to make a
motion. I move that the B. O. W. C. continue their wanderings as long as
the holidays last.”

“I second that motion,” cried Phil.

“Gentlemen,” said Bruce, “it has been moved and seconded that the B. O.
W. C. continue their wanderings as long as the holidays last. All that
are in favor of this motion will please manifest it by saying, ‘Ay.’”

At this there was a universal chorus of “Ay.”

“Contrary minds, ‘No.’”

Silence followed.

“It’s a vote,” said Bruce; “and now all that remains to do is to decide
upon the direction to be taken.”

Upon this Captain Corbet smiled benignly, and a glance of approval
beamed from his venerable eye. Old Solomon grinned violently, but
checked himself in a moment; his grin was drowned in a low chuckle, and
he exclaimed, “De sakes now, chil’en alive, how you do go on! Mos’ make
dis ole nigga bust hisself to see dese yer mynouvrins.”.

“Look here, boys,” cried Bart, suddenly dropping altogether the
“parliamentary” style in which he had last spoken; “what do you say to a
cruise around the gulf? Let’s visit the islands; there are ever so many;
some of them are uninhabited, too. It’ll be glorious!”

“Glorious--will it?” cried Tom. “Wait, my boy, till you know as much
about uninhabited islands as I do. You don’t catch me putting my foot
ashore on anything of that sort.”

“O, well, we needn’t be particular about the inhabitants,” said Arthur.
“I go in for islands, head over heels.”

“So do I,” said Phil.

“Be the powers,” said Pat, “but it’s meself that howlds up both hands to
that same.”

“Suppose we go to the Magdalen Islands,” said Bruce. “They’re right in
the middle of the gulf, and it’s a very queer place, they say.”

“No, no,” said Bart; “if we go anywhere, let’s go to Anticosti. For my
part, I’ve always been wild to go to Anticosti. I don’t believe there’s
another island in all the world that’s equal to it. It’s cold, bleak,
gloomy, uninhabited, and full of ghosts.”

“Full of fiddlesticks!” exclaimed Arthur. “What do you want of ghosts?”

“Well,” said Bart, placidly, “for my part, I think there is something
uncommonly interesting in a haunted island.”

“A haunted island!” repeated Arthur. “Well, my boy, all I’ve got to
say is, that if you want anything of that sort, you’ll find the best
specimen on Sable Island; so I propose that we go there at once.”

“Sable Island? Why, man alive, that’s ever so far away!” said Tom. “We’d
better wait till we’re on our way home, and leave that for the last;
though, for my part, I think we’d better give it a wide berth. I go in
for some of the gulf islands--St. Paul, for instance, or St. Peter.”

“Well, boys,” said Phil, “since you’re all so crazy about islands, why
can’t we go to the Bay of Islands at once? We can have our fill of them
there, I should think. For my part I’m indifferent. I’m like Tom;
I’ve had my turn at a desert island, and have found out the vanity of
Robinson Crusoe.”

“Sure, thin,” said Pat, “and whin we’re about it, we’d betther take the
biggist island we can find about here, and that same is Newfoundland.
Wouldn’t it be betther to begin with that, thin?”

“The fact is, boys,” said Bruce, with the air of a judge or an umpire,
“we’ll have to make up our minds to visit all these islands. Each one
has his preference, and each one shall be gratified. You, Bart, may see
Anticosti; you, Arthur, may see Sable Island; you, Tom, may visit St.
Paul and St. Peter; you, Phil, may visit the Bay of Islands; and at the
same time you, Pat, may see Newfoundland. Of course, then, I hope to go
to the Magdalen Islands. Now, as we are going to visit all these places,
and the Magdalen Islands happen to be nearest, we will take them first,
while we may visit in turn Anticosti and the others, winding up with
Sable Island, which may be postponed to the last, since it is the
farthest off. We may make up our minds, boys, to no end of adventures.
We’re all in first-rate training; we are hardened by adventures on sea
and on shore; we can live on next to nothing; and I’m only sorry that
we’re not a little nearer to the North Pole, so that we might set out
now as we are to settle the question forever about the open Polar Sea.”

The extravagant notion with which Bruce closed his address was
received with shouts of laughter and applause. Then followed a confused
conversation. At length they all gathered around Captain Corbet, who had
thus far been a listener, and began to question him about the various
places which they proposed to visit. The answer of the venerable
navigator was not very satisfactory.

“Wal, boys,” said he, “you put me down in any part of old Fundy, an I’m
to hum; anywhar’s between the head of old Fundy an Bosting, I know it
all be heart; an I engage to feel my way in fog or in darkness, or in
snow-storms, backard an forard, year on an year on; but jest about here
I’m all agog. In these here parts I’m a pilgerrim an a stranger, an
ain’t particularly to be trusted. But I can navigate the Antelope all
the same, an fool round in these waters as long as you like. I ain’t
got any chart, terrew; but I’ve got an old map of Canady, an kin scrape
along with that, especially this season of the year. I kin git a ginral
leadin idee of the position of places, an work along the old Antelope
wharever you want to go. I’m an old man myself, an don’t mind this
kerrewsing a bit; in fact, it’s rayther agree’ble. The best of it is,
we’re allus sure to fetch up some-whar.”

This frank announcement of Captain Corbet’s ignorance of these seas
might have excited disquietude in the bosoms of less enterprising
lads; but the cruisers of the Antelope had seen and known, and felt
and suffered, too much to be easily disturbed. Of Captain Corbet’s
confession they thought nothing whatever, nor indeed did it really
matter very much to them whether he was acquainted with these waters
or not. After all, they were not particular about any destination; any
mistakes which he might make would not create any inconvenience to them;
and even if, in seeking to reach Newfoundland, he should land them
at Cape Cod, they would not much care. Under these circumstances
they listened to his words with indifference, and if they felt any
disappointment, it was because they were unable to gain from him any
information whatever about the places which they proposed to visit.

Since they could gain no information, they did not waste much more time
in conversation, but concluded to set out without delay. And so in a
little while the Antelope spread her white wings, and began to walk
the waters in her usual style, like a thing of life, and all that. In
process of time she reached the entrance of the bay, and then passed out
into the gulf.

It was a glorious day. The wind was fair. The Antelope did her best. The
sun went down that evening behind the high hills, and before them lay a
wide expanse of water. On the following morning they saw land ahead.
The land was an island, or a cluster of islands, and all the boys felt
certain that it was the Magdalen Islands.

In spite of Captain Corbet’s ignorance of the Gulf of St. Lawrence,
he had chosen his course very accurately, for this was indeed their
destination. As the schooner drew nearer and nearer, the boys looked
with curious eyes upon this remote and isolated spot, situated in the
midst of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and shut out during all the winter
months from the rest of the world of man by ice, and storms, and
solitude.

The wind died away after sunrise, and hours passed before they came near
enough to think of landing. At length the anchor was dropped, and the
boat was made ready to go ashore. From this point they could see this
new land to the best advantage. They saw before them an island rising
high out of the water, with its green slopes covered with grass, and
crowned with trees, and dotted with white houses. Before them there
were a cove and a sandy beach, upon which boats were drawn up. The
other islands of the group were shut out from view by this one. Not
far away--in fact, not farther than a stone’s throw--there lay another
schooner at anchor. Very different was this other schooner from the
Antelope. The Antelope, in spite of its many admirable and amiable
qualities, was not particularly distinguished either for size, or
strength, or speed, or beauty. In every one of these particulars the
other schooner was the exact opposite. It was large; it was evidently
new; its lines were sharp and delicate, indicating great speed; its
spread of canvas was immense; it was a model of naval architecture;
while the freshness of its paint, and the extreme neatness which
appeared in every part, indicated a far greater care on the part of its
master than any which the good and gracious Corbet was ever disposed
to exhibit towards his beloved Antelope. On high floated the Stars and
Stripes, exhibiting the nationality of the stranger. On her stern the
boys could read her name and nation. They saw there, in white letters
underneath a gold eagle, the words,--


FAWN-GLOUCESTER.


“On land,” said Bruce, gravely, as he looked at the strange craft, “the
Antelope and the Fawn are somewhat alike; but on the sea it strikes me
that there is a slight difference.”

The other boys said nothing, but there arose involuntarily in the mind
of each a feeling not exactly of envy, but at least a fervent wish that
the resemblance which Bruce spoke of should exist on the water as well
as on the land.

“I suppose it’s a yacht,” said Bart.

“Or a cruiser,” said Arthur.

“Nothin of the kind,” said Captain Corbet. “That thar craft ain’t
anythin more than a Gloucester fishing schewner.”

“A fishing schooner?”

“Course; an why not? Why, them Gloucester skippers make themselves
comfortable; they know how to do it, tew, an this chap is jest like the
rest. He makes himself comfortable, keeps his schewner like a palace or
a parlor, an don’t let even so much as the scale of a red herrin be seen
about.”

The boys went ashore in the boat. Bruce then returned for Captain
Corbet, who was touched by this small attention. As Bart and the rest
waited on the beach, they noticed a small, neat, freshly-painted boat
drawn up not far away, which needed not the name of Fawn on the stern
to assure them that it could belong to nothing else than the smart
schooner. While they were looking at it and admiring it, a man advanced
towards them, who regarded them with a puzzled and curious expression.

He was a man of middle age and medium stature, with clean-shaven face,
close-cut hair, and keen gray eye. He wore a dark-blue frock coat and
wide-awake hat, and did not seem at all like a seaman; yet somehow the
boys could not help feeling that this very neatly-dressed man must have
something to do with the Fawn. He came up to them, and looked at them
with a smile.

“Who in thunder are you, anyhow?” he exclaimed, at length. “I can’t make
you out at all. You belong to that queer-looking tub out there, I see;
but who you are and what you are after is beyond me.”

This style of address struck the boys as being rather uncivil; but the
good-natured expression of the stranger’s face showed that no incivility
was meant, and won their hearts at once.

“O, well,” said Bart, with a laugh, “you must never judge by
appearances, you know. We’re not a fishing vessel. In fact, we’re a sort
of chartered yacht, though we’re a very unpretending sort of yacht, and
we don’t go in for show. We’re a schooner, cruising about in a plain,
off-hand, homely manner for pleasure, and all that sort of thing.”

At this the stranger burst into a shout of laughter, which was so
cheery, and so hearty, and so good-natured, that the boys found it
impossible to resist its contagion, and at length they all joined in
also, though why they were laughing, or what they were laughing at, they
had not the smallest idea in the world.

“Look here, boys,” exclaimed the stranger, at length, as soon as he had
recovered from his laughter; “excuse me, but I can’t help it. I’ll knock
under. I cave in. I don’t understand it at all. Have you a looking-glass
aboard your tub out there? Has any one of you any idea what he looks
like? Or have you ever examined one another?”

At this the boys could not help looking at one another, and at
themselves, and at this survey they began to perceive what they had not
at all suspected--that they were one and all a most disreputable-looking
crowd. Their clothes were torn and stained with mud, and gave signs in
every seam and fibre of long scrambles through wood and water, and long
struggles with the elements. But, in fact, no one of them had thought
of this until this moment, when they found themselves confronted and
laughed at by this well-dressed stranger.

“It ain’t the shabbiness,” cried the stranger, “that upsets me, but
it’s the contrast--such faces looking at me out of such clothes! Do your
mothers know you are out? or, in other words, boys, do your parents know
the particular way in which you are moving about the world?”

“O, well,” said Bart, “we’re not a vain vessel, you know. We’re only a
plain, simple, matter-of-fact potato schooner, out for a holiday, and on
the lookout for a little fun. We’re not proud, and so, perhaps, being
a potato schooner, it’s just as well not to be too particular about
clothes. We’ve always been told not to think too much about dress; and
besides, this sort of thing is ever so much more convenient for roughing
it, you know.”

“Well, boys,” said the stranger, “I dare say you looked very well when
you started; and after all, clothes are not the most important thing. At
any rate, I’m glad to meet you! How d’ye do, all? I’m glad to see you!
How d’ye do? I’d like to know you. My name’s Ferguson, Tobias Ferguson,
and I’m skipper of that there craft, the Fawn.”

Saying this, he shook hands with every one of the boys in succession,
asked their names, their ages, their place of abode, the names,
occupations, and ages of their parents, and then proceeded to inquire
about their adventures thus far, and their intentions in the future.
By this time Bruce had returned from the vessel with Captain Corbet, to
whom Ferguson at once made himself known; and thus in a short time he
had come to be on intimate terms with all the party.

“I just dropped in here to Magdalen,” said he, frankly, “to fix up the
Fawn a bit. ’Tain’t much of a place, any ways. The people air a lot
of beggarly, frog-eating Frenchmen, that follow fashions as old as Adam.
When Adam delved and Eve span, as the old verse says, they had a plough
and a spindle, and that thar identical plough and spindle air still in
use here among these here French. You can’t make em use anythin else.
Why, I’ve been here dozens of times, and I’ve tried, to get em to give
up their old-fashioned ways, and be up to the age. I’ve showed em our
way of doin things. No go. Not a mite of use. Might as well talk to a
stone wall. They’ll never get out of the old rut. And see what they’re
doin here! Why, only look around you! Magdalen Islands! Why, this
locality is one of the most favored on this green earth. In the middle
of this gulf, right in the track of ships, it is in a position to enter
upon a career of progress that might make this place one of the most
flourishing in the world. They might control the whole fish trade; they
might originate new modes of fishing. Why, look at me! I’ve tried to get
em to start factories, build railroads, steamboats, common schools,
hotels, newspapers, electric telegraphs, and other concomitants of our
nineteenth century civilization. And what’s the result? Why, nothing. I
might as well talk to the wind. Railroads! electric telegraphs! Why, you
might as well ask them to build a bridge to the moon! Well, all I can
say is, that these here Magdalen Islands won’t ever be anythin till they
fall in with the sperrit of the age. Them’s my sentiments.”

“Railroads!” cried Bart. “Why, what could they do with a railroad?”

“Do?” exclaimed Ferguson. “Why, develop their resources, promote trade,
facilitate intercourse, and keep themselves abreast with the age.”

“But there are not more than a couple of thousand people on the
islands,” said Bart.

“Well, what’s the odds? So much the more reason for them to be up and
doin,” retorted Ferguson, with some warmth. “They’re all as poor as
rats; and a railroad is the only thing that can save them from eventooly
dyin out.”

The boys looked at the stranger in some perplexity, for they did not
know whether he’ could really be in earnest or not. But from Ferguson’s
face and manner they could gather nothing whatever. He seemed perfectly
serious, and altogether in earnest.

“Yes, sir,” he repeated, emphatically, “these here Magdalen Islands’ll
never be wuth anythin till they get a railroad. Them’s my sentiments.”



II.

_A new Acquaintance,--The Islands of the Sea,--Making Friends,--The
Natives,--A Festival,--Efforts at Conversation in an unknown Tongue,
--Corbet’s Baby Talk,--Experiments of Bart and Tim,--Pat comes to
Grief.--Overthrow of the French,--Arrival of the Skipper on the Scene,
--He means Business._


FINDING that their new acquaintance was so very friendly, and
communicative, and all that, the boys thought that it would be a good
thing to find out from him something about the various islands which
they proposed visiting. Ferguson declared that he knew as much about
the Gulf of St. Lawrence as any man living, and could tell them all they
wanted to know.

“What sort of a place is St. Paul’s Island,” asked Arthur.

The skipper shook his head in silence. “Is St. Pierre worth visiting?”

“Well--scarcely,” said the other.

“What sort of a place is Anticosti?” asked Bruce.

“Well, you’d best not go within fifty miles of that thar island.”

“What sort of a place is Sable Island?” asked Bart.

“Sable Island!” exclaimed the skipper, staring at them in astonishment.

“Yes, Sable Island.”

“You mean Cape Sable Island.”

“No; we mean Sable Island.”

The skipper looked at them all with a solemn face.

“Well, boys,” said he, “as to visiting Sable Island, all I’ve got to
say is, I hope you’ll never begin to try it on Sable Island. Why, Sable
Island’s one of the places that seafarin’ men try never to visit, and
pray never to get nearer than a hundred miles to. Sable Island! Boys,”
 he continued, after a pause, “don’t ever speak of that again; don’t even
think of it. Give it up at once and forever. I only hope that you won’t
be brought to pay a visit there in spite of yourselves, a thing which
I’m afraid you’re very likely to do if you go cruisin’ about in an
old tub like that much longer. Not but what Sable Island mightn’t be
improved--that is, if the inhabitants only had any enterprise, and the
government that owns it was alive to the wants of the age.”

“‘Inhabitants!” said Bart; “why, there’s only the keeper and his
family.”

The skipper waved his hand.

“Grant all that,” said he. “Very well. They’re a nucleus, at any rate,
and can give tone and character to the future Sable Islanders. Now, what
your government ought to do with Sable Island is this. They’d ought to
make a good breakwater, first and foremost, so as to have decent harbor
accommodation for passing vessels. Then they’d ought to connect it with
the main land with a submarine cable, so that the place needn’t be quite
so isolated, and have regular lines of steamers runnin’ backard and
forard. Well, then they ought to get up a judicious emigration scheme,
and that thar island would begin to go ahead in a style that would make
you fairly open your eyes. Why, in ten years, if this plan was carried
out, they’d be building a railroad,--a thing that is needed there more
than most anywheres, the island bein so uncommon long and narrow,--and
that bein done, why, Sable Island would begin to come abreast of the
nineteenth century, instead of hanging back in the middle ages.”

After some further conversation of a similar character, the skipper
proposed to show the boys about the country, and introduce them to some
of the “aristocracy.”

“And there,” said he, “is one of them, now. It’s the priest--and a
precious fine fellow he is, any how, and no mistake. He is priest,
governor general, magistrate, constable, policeman, Sunday school
teacher, town clerk, schoolmaster, newspaper, lawyer, doctor, notary
public, census taker, and fifty other things all rolled into one. He is
the factotum of the Magdalen Islands. They come to him for everything:
to baptize their infants, to marry their young couples, and to bury
their dead. They go to mass on Sundays, and on week days they go to
him for advice and assistance in everything. He visits the sick, and
administers medicine as doctor, or extreme unction as priest. He settles
all their quarrels better than any judge or jury, and there never ain’t
any appeal thought of from his decision. Now, all this is what I call
a species of despotism,--it’s one man power, but it suits these poor
benighted frog-eatin heathen,--and, besides, it’s no more a despotism
than the father of a family exercises. It’s patriarchal--that’s what it
is. It’s wonderful, too, how much honor the young people hereabouts pay
to their fathers, and grandfathers, and elders genrally. I never knowed
anythin like it in all my born days. Well, now, boys, mind you, all this
is goin to be upset. Some day they’ll be appointin magistrates here, and
doctors will come, and lawyers; then this little community will all
be sot by the ears, and--and they’ll enter upon a career of boundless
progress. They’ll get the ballot-box, and the newspaper, and all the
concomitants of modern civilization; the present patriarchal system’ll
be played out, and the spirit of the age will reign and rule over them.”

By the time the skipper had given utterance to this, they had approached
the priest. He was a mild, venerable man, with a meek face and a genial
smile. He spoke English very well, shook hands with all, and listened to
the skipper’s explanations about their present visit.

“And now, boys, I’ll leave you for the present,” said the skipper, “to
the care of Father Leblanc, who will do the honors of the island. I’ve
got to go aboard the Fawn to fix up a few things. We’ll meet again in
the course of the day.”

With these words he went down to the beach. The shabbiness of the
costume of the boys had already excited the remarks of the skipper, but
the good Father Leblanc soon saw that in spite of this they were clever
and intelligent.

“We do not often have,” said he, “at this place visitors above the rank
of fishermen, and we have never before had any visitors like you. I can
assure you a welcome, dear boys, from all the good people here. There is
to be a fête to-day in honor of the marriage of two of my flock. Would
you like to go? If so, I invite you most cordially, and assure you of a
welcome.”

This unexpected invitation, thus kindly given, was accepted with
undisguised eagerness; and thereupon the boys accompanied the priest,
who first of all went to his own home, where he offered them some simple
refreshments. The priest’s home was a small cottage of very unpretending
exterior, and very similar to all the other cottages; but inside there
were marks of refined taste and scholarly pursuits. A few Latin and
Greek classics were on a small book-shelf. There was an harmonium, with
some volumes of sacred music, and here and there were some volumes
which were of a theological character. The entertainment of the priest
consisted of some coffee, which the boys were surprised to find,
and which they afterwards unanimously pronounced to be “perfectly
delicious,” and some fresh eggs, with immaculate bread and butter.

After chatting with the boys for about an hour, the priest announced
that it was time to start, as their destination was on the opposite side
of the island. They accordingly set out at once, and walked along the
slope of a hill. There was no road, but only a footpath, which served
all the purposes of the Magdalen Islanders, in spite of the skipper’s
theories about a railway. On the way the priest entertained them with
stories of his life on these secluded islands, of the storms of winter,
of the ice blockade, of the perils of the sea, of the vast solitude
of the surrounding gulf, where in winter no ship ever ventures. Yet in
spite of the loneliness, he affirmed that no one here had any sense of
desolation, for it seemed to all of the inhabitants, just as it seems
to the inhabitants of other countries, that this home of theirs was
the centre of the universe, and all other lands strange, and drear, and
unattractive.

At length they reached their destination. It was a cottage of rather
larger size than usual, and it seemed as if the whole population of
the island had gathered here. Tables were spread in the open air, and a
barrel of cider was on tap. As they drew near they heard the sound of a
fiddle, and saw figures moving about in a lively dance. Old men, young
men, women, girls, and children were all laughing, talking, dancing, or
playing. It was a scene full of a curious attractiveness, and exhibited
in a striking way the irrepressible gayety that characterizes the French
wherever they go.

At their approach the laughter and the dance ceased for a time, and the
company welcomed the good priest with smiles and kindly words. The boys
also came in for a share of the hospitable welcome, and as soon as the
priest had explained who they were, they were at once received as most
welcome and honored guests. Unfortunately the boys could not speak a
word of French, and the people could not speak a word of English, so
that there was not that freedom of intercourse between the two parties
which might have been desirable; but the priest did much to bring about
this interchange of feelings by acting as interpreter, and the boys also
by gestures or by smiles endeavored, not without some success, to make
known their feelings for themselves.

The boys soon distributed themselves about at random, and the good
people never ceased to pay delicate little attentions to them by
offering them coffee or cakes, by uttering a few words in the hope that
they might be understood, or, if words were wanting, they took refuge in
smiles. But words were not wanting, and different members of the party
made violent efforts to break through the restraints which a foreign
language imposed, and express their feelings more directly.

Thus Captain Corbet, who had accompanied the party, finding himself
hospitably entertained by a smiling old Frenchman, endeavored to make
known the joy of his heart.

“Coffee,” said he, tapping his cup and grinning.

“Oui, oui,” said the Frenchman.

“Coffee dood--pooty--nicey--O, velly nicey picey.”

Captain Corbet evidently was falling back upon his “baby talk,” under
the impression that it would be more intelligible to a foreigner.
But this foreigner did not quite understand him. He only shrugged his
shoulders.

“Cooky--cakey--nicey,” continued Captain Corbet, in, an amiable tone.
“All dood--all nicey--velly.”

And he again paused and smiled.

“Plait-il?” said the Frenchman, politely.

“Plate? O, no, no plate for me, an thank you kindly all the same.”

The Frenchman looked at him in a bewildered way, but still smiled.

“Vouley vous du pain?” he asked, at length.

“Pan?” said Captain Corbet; “pan? Course not. What’d I do with a
pan?--but thankin you all the same, course.”

The Frenchman relapsed into silence.

“It was a pooty ’itile tottage,” said Captain Corbet, resuming his
baby talk, “an a pooty tompany, an it was all dood--pooty--nicey.”

But the Frenchman didn’t understand a word, and so at length Captain
Corbet, with a sigh, gave up the attempt.

Meanwhile the others were making similar endeavors. Tom had got hold of
a French boy about his own age.

“Parley vous Français,” said Tom, solemnly.

“Oui,” said the French boy.

“Oui, moosoo,” said Tom.

The French boy smiled.

“Merci, madame,” continued Tom, boldly.

The boy stared.

“Nong--tong--paw,” proceeded Tom, in a business-like manner.

Of this the boy could evidently make nothing.

But here Tom seemed to have reached the limit of his knowledge of
French, and the conversation came to a sudden and lamentable end.

Bart had carried on for some time an interesting conversation with
smiles and gestures, when he too ventured into audible words.

“Bon!” said he, in an impressive manner; and then touching the breast
of the boy to whom he was speaking, he continued, “You--tu--you
know--you’re bon;” then, laying his hand on his heart, he said, “me
bon;” then, pointing to the cup, “coffee bon;” then sweeping his hand
around, he added, “and all bon--house bon, company bon, people bon.”

“Ah, oui,” cried the boy. “Oui, je vous comprends. Aha, oui, la bonne
compagnie, le bon peuple--”

“Bon company, bon people, bon company, bon people,” cried Bart,
delighted at his success in getting up a conversation; “bon coffee, too;
I tell you what, it’s the bonnest coffee that I’ve tasted for many a
long day.”

At this the boy looked blank.

“Parley vous Français?” asked Bart, in an anxious tone.

“Oui,” said the boy.

“Well, then, I don’t,” said Bart; “but the moment I get home I intend to
study it.”

And at this stage Bart’s conversation broke down.

Pat chose another mode of accomplishing the same end. Captain Corbet had
been acting on the theory that foreigners were like babies, and could
understand baby talk. Pat, in addition to this, acted on the theory
that they were deaf, and had to be addressed accordingly. So, as he was
refreshing himself with coffee and cakes, he drew a little nearer to the
old woman who had poured it out for him, and bent down his head. The old
woman was at that moment intent upon her coffeepot, and did not notice
Pat. Suddenly Pat, with his mouth close to her ear, shouted out with a
perfect yell,--

“Bully for you! and thank you kindly, marm!”

With a shriek of terror the startled old woman sprang up and fell
backward. The chair on which she had been sitting, a rather rickety
affair, gave way and went down. The old lady fell with the chair upon
the ground, and lay for a moment motionless. Pat, horror-struck, stood
confounded, and stared in silence at the ruin he had wrought. The
bystanders, alarmed at the shout and shriek, crowded around, and for
a moment there was universal confusion. Among the bystanders was the
priest. To him Pat turned in his despair, and tried to explain. The
priest listened, and then went to see about the old woman. Fortunately
she had fallen on the soft turf, and was not at all hurt. She was
soon on her feet, and another chair was procured, in which she seated
herself. The priest then explained the whole affair. Pat was fully
forgiven, and the harmony of the festival was perfectly restored. But
Pat’s laudable efforts at maintaining a conversation had received so
severe a check that he did not open his mouth for the rest of the day.

The festival went on. Fun and hilarity prevailed all around. The dancing
grew more and more vigorous. At length the contagion spread to the elder
ones of the party, and the boys were astonished to see old men stepping
forth to skip and dance about the green; then old women came forward
to take a part, until, at length, all were dancing. The boys stood as
spectators, until at length Bart determined to throw himself into the
spirit of the scene. He therefore found a partner, and plunged into the
dance. The others followed. Captain Corbet alone remained, seated near a
table, viewing the scene with his usual benevolent glance.

In the midst of this festive scene the skipper approached. He walked
with rapid steps, and, without hesitating an instant, seized a partner
and flung himself, with all the energy of his race, into the mazy dance.

“I don’t often dance, boys,” he remarked, afterwards, “but when I do, I
mean business.”

It was evident that on this occasion the skipper did mean business.
He danced more vigorously than any. He jumped higher; he whirled his
partner round faster; he danced with more partners than any other, for
he went through the whole assemblage, and led out every female there,
from the oldest woman down to the smallest girl.

Most of the time he chatted volubly, and flung out remarks which excited
roars of laughter. He won all hearts. He was, in fact, an immense
success. The boys wondered, for they had not imagined that he could
speak French.

He alluded to this afterwards.

“We have a natral affinity with the French down in New England,” said
he. “When America was first colonized, our forefathers had to fight the
French all the time. The two races were thus brought into connection.
Our forefathers thus caught from the French that nasal twang with
which the uneducated still speak English. You find that twang among the
uneducated classes all over the British provinces and New England. It’s
French--that’s what it is. Corbet and I are both uneducated men, and we
both speak English with the French twang. I speak French first rate;
and Corbet there could speak it first rate also, if he only knew the
language perfectly.”

These remarks the boys did not quite know how to take. The skipper
seemed to have a bantering way with him, and spoke so oddly that it
was impossible for them to make out half of the time whether he was in
earnest or only in jest.



III.

_Friendly Advice and dismal Forebodings.--Once more upon the Waters,
yet once more.--Due North.--A Calm.--The Calm continues.--A terrible
Disclosure.--Despair of Corbet.--Solomon finds his Occupation
gone.--Taking Stock.--Short Allowance._


ANOTHER day was passed very pleasantly at the Magdalen Islands, and
then the boys concluded that they had seen about all that there was
to be seen in this place. As the question where next to go arose, they
Concluded to ask the skipper.

“Well, boys,” said he, “in the first place, let me ask you if you’ve ever
heard of Anticosti?”

“Of course we have,” said Bart.

“Well, don’t go there; don’t go near it; don’t go within fifty mile of
it; don’t speak of it; don’t think of it; and don’t dream of it. It’s a
place of horror, a howling wilderness, the abomination of desolation, a
haunted island, a graveyard of unfortunate sailors. Its shores are lined
with their bones. Don’t you go and add your young bones to the lot. You
can do far better with them.”

“Well, where do you advise us to go?” asked Arthur.

The skipper thought for a few moments without answering.

“Well,” said he, “you know Sable Island.”

“Yes,” said Bart, in some surprise.

“Well,” said the skipper, impressively, “don’t go there; don’t go within
a hundred miles of it; don’t speak of it; don’t think of it; don’t dream
of it.”

“But you’ve said all that to us before,” said Bruce. “We want to know
where we _are_ to go, not where we are _not_ to go.”

“Well,” said the skipper, “I am aware that I’ve said all this before,
and I say it a second time, deliberately, for the simple purpose of
impressing it upon your minds. There’s nothin like repetition to impress
a thing on the memory; and so, if you ever come to grief on Anticosti,
or on Sable Island, you’ll remember my warnin, and you’ll never feel
like blamin me.”

“But where ought we to go?” asked Bruce.

“Well, that’s the next point. Now, I’ve been thinkin’ all about it, and
to my mind there ain’t any place in all this here region that comes up
to the Bay of Islands, Newfoundland.”

“The Bay of Islands?”

“Yes, the Bay of Islands, on the west coast of Newfoundland. It’s a
great place. I’ve been there over and over, and I know it like a book.
Thousands of vessels go there every season. It’s one of the best harbors
in the gulf. It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world. The air
is bracing, the climate salubrious, the scenery inviting; and it only
needs a first-class hotel with all the modern improvements in order to
become a number one waterin-place. Yes, by ginger!” he continued, “you
plant a first-class hotel there, and let that there place become known,
and there’s nothin to prevent it from goin ahead of Long Branch or
Newport, or any other place you can mention.

“Then,” continued the skipper, “if you wanted to go any further, you
might go up the Straits of Belle Isle, and round Newfoundland. If you
had time, you might take a run over to Greenland; it’s gettin to be
quite a place, a fashionable resort in the hot summer; but perhaps
you won’t have time, and won’t care about doin more than cruisin round
Newfoundland, and then home.”

Once more the skipper’s tone seemed somewhat extravagant to the boys,
and they did not know how to take it.

“O, well,” said Bart, “we don’t want to go to Greenland this season.
When we do go there, we shall probably go for good; but just now, we
want to confine ourselves to the gulf. If you can really recommend the
Bay of Islands, perhaps we had better go there; that is,” added Bart,
“unless you think we had better go to Iceland.”

The skipper looked at Bart for a few moments in silence, and a smile
gradually passed over his face.

“Well,” said he, after a pause, “that’s the identical place that I was
just going to recommend, when you took the words out of my mouth.
The fact is, boys, with that old tub of yours you might as well go to
Iceland as anywhere else. Every time I look at it I am thunderstruck.
What were your fathers and mothers thinkin of when they let you come
away up here in such an old rattle-trap?--an old tub that isn’t worth
being condemned! Do you think you’ll ever get home again in her? Not
you. Do you know where that old tub’s bound to go before the end of this
season? Down to the bottom of the sea; and if you don’t go in her, you
may bless your lucky stars. I only wish I wasn’t otherwise engaged. I’d
make you all clear out at once, and come aboard the Fawn.”

Captain Corbet was not present, and did not hear these insulting
reflections upon his beloved Antelope, and therefore was spared the pain
which they would have caused to his aged bosom; but the boys were not
the ones to listen to such insinuations in silence. The Antelope was
dear to them from past associations, and they all began at once to
vindicate her character. They talked long and eloquently about her. They
spoke of her speed, soundness, and beauty. They told of her performances
thus far.

At all of which the skipper only grinned.

“Mark my words, boys,” said he; “that there tub is goin to the bottom.”

“Well, if she does, she’ll get up again,” said Bart.

The opinions of the two parties were so different that any
further debate was useless. The skipper believed that they were bound
for the bottom of the sea; the boys on the contrary had faith in
the Antelope. The end of it all was, that they concluded to take the
skipper’s advice in part, and sail for the Bay of Islands. This place
was one which they all were desirous of visiting, and they thought that
when they had gone that far, they could then decide best where next to
go.

They were to leave the next morning. That evening they took leave of the
friendly skipper.

“Boys,” said he, “I’m afraid we’ll never meet again; but if you do get
back safe from this perilous adventure of yours, and if any of you ever
happen to be at Gloucester, Massachusetts, I do wish you’d look me up,
and let me know. I’d give anything to see any one of you again.”

With these words the skipper shook hands with each one of them heartily,
and so took his leave.

Early on the following morning the Antelope spread her sails and began
once more to traverse the seas, heading towards the north. The wind
was fair, and all that day they moved farther and farther away from the
Magdalen Islands, until at length towards evening they were lost to view
in distance and darkness.

On the next day they were all up early. They saw all around a boundless
expanse of water. No land was anywhere visible, and not a sail was in
sight. This was a novelty to the boys, for never yet had any of them had
this experience in the Antelope. Some of them had been out of sight of
land, it is true; but then they were in large ships, or ocean steamers.
Being in such a situation in a craft like the Antelope, was a far
different thing. Yet none of them felt anything like anxiety, nor had
the slurs of the skipper produced any effect upon their affectionate
trust in their gallant bark, and in their beloved Captain Corbet.

Certainly on the present occasion there was little enough cause for
anxiety about the sea-worthiness of the Antelope. The sea was as smooth
as a mirror, and its glassy surface extended far and wide around them.
There was not a breath of air stirring. They learned from Wade that the
wind had gradually died away between sundown and midnight, until it had
ceased altogether. They were now in a dead calm.

None of the party was very well pleased at this. They all wished to be
moving. They disliked calms, and would have much preferred a moderate
gale of wind. The Antelope, however, was here, and there was no help for
it. She was far away from land. She lay gently rising and falling, as
the long ocean rollers raised her up and let her down; and her sails
flapped idly in the still air, at the motion of the vessel. The boys did
the best they could under the circumstances, and tried to pass away the
time in various ways. Some of them tried to sleep; others extemporized
a checker-board, and played till they were tired; others walked up
and down, or lounged about. All of them, however, found their chief
employment in one occupation, and that was eating. Ever since they had
been on the water their appetites had been sharpened; and now that they
had nothing else to do, the occupation of eating became more important
and engrossing. To prolong the repast while it was before them as far as
possible, and then to anticipate the next, were important aids towards
killing the time.

All that day the calm continued: on going to bed that night, the boys
confidently looked forward to a change of weather on the following day.
The night was calm. The following day came. They were all up betimes. To
their deep disappointment they found no change whatever. There was the
same calm, the same unruffled sea, the same cloudless sky. Not a sail
was visible anywhere, and of course there was no sign of land on any
quarter.

The second day the time hung more heavily on their hands. Some of them
proposed fishing; but they had no hooks, and moreover no bait. Pat
proposed fashioning a spike into a hook; fastening it on a line,
and fishing for sharks, and worked all day at a rusty spike for this
purpose. Unfortunately, he could not get it sharp enough, and so he had
at length to give it up.

Captain Corbet was perhaps the most impatient of all; and this seemed
singular to the boys, who thus far had known him only as the most
patient and the most enduring of men.

On this occasion, however, his patience seemed to have departed. He
fidgeted about incessantly. He kept watching the sea, the sky, and the
horizon, and occupied himself for hours in all the various ways common
among seamen, who indulge in the superstitious practice of trying
to “raise the wind.” One mode consisted in standing in one position
motionless for half an hour or more, watching the horizon, and
whistling: another was a peculiar snapping of the fingers; another was
the  burning of some hairs pulled from his own venerable head. These
and other similar acts excited intense interest among the boys, and
helped to make the time pass less slowly. Unfortunately, not one of
these laudable efforts was successful, and the obstinate wind refused to
be “raised.”

That day the boys detected something in their meals which seemed like a
decline of skill on the part of Solomon. There was a falling off both
in the quantity and in the quality of the eatables. Only four potatoes
graced the festive board, and a piece of corned beef that was quite
inadequate to their wants. The tea was weak, and there was very little
sugar. There was only a small supply of butter, and this butter seemed
rather unpleasantly dirty.

On the following day all this was explained. Hurrying up on deck at
early dawn, they saw the scene unchanged. Above was the cloudless sky,
all around the glassy sea, and before them stood Captain Corbet, the
picture of despair. By his side stood Solomon, with his hands clasped
together, and his head hanging down.

“It’s all my fault, boys,” said Captain Corbet, with something like
a groan. “I was to blame: But I declare, I clean forgot. And yet what
business had I to forget? my fustest and highest duty bein to remember.
And here we air!”

“Why, what’s the matter?” asked Tom, who, like all the rest was struck
by Captain Corbet’s despairing attitude and words.

“I won’t hide it any longer, boys,” said he; “it’s this calm. I didn’t
calculate on bein becalmed. I thought only of head winds, and then we
could hev put back easy; but a calm! Why, what can you do?”

“Hide it?” Cried Bruce. “Hide what? What do you mean by this? What would
you want to put back for?”

Captain Corbet groaned.

“For--for pro--provisions, dear boys,” he said mournfully, and with an
effort.

“Provisions!” repeated Bruce, and looked very blank indeed. All the
boys exchanged glanced, which were full of unutterable things. There was
silence for some time.

Tom was the first to break it.

“Well, what have we?” he, asked, in his usual cheery voice. “Come
captain, tell us what there is in the larder.”

“Ask Solomon,” said Captain Corbet, mournfully.

“Well, Solomon, tell us the worst,” said Tom.

But Solomon would not or could not speak. He raised his head, looked
wildly around, and then hurried away.

Captain Corbet looked after him, and heaved a heavy sigh.

“Wal, boys,” said he, “the fact is, Solomon and me, we’ve been talkin it
all over. You see, he considers himself cook, and cook only, and looks
to me for the material. It’s all my fault. I forgot. I thought there was
lots till yesterday mornin. Then Solomon told me how it was. I’d ort to
have laid in a supply before leavin Bay de Chaleur; but as I said, I
forgot. And as for Solomon, why, he’s been calmly a continooin of his
cookery, same as if he was chief cook of a fust-class hotel, and all the
time he was in a becalmed schewner. He told me all about it yesterday
mornin; but I says, ‘Don’t tell the boys; mebbe the wind’ll change, and
I’ll sail for the nighest port.’ So he didn’t, except so far as you
might have guessed, from the meals which he served up; pooty slim they
were too; but he did his best.”

“Well,” said Tom, with unaltered self-possession, “it would have been
better for us to have known this yesterday morning; but that can’t be
helped. So we have no more provisions?”

“Precious little,” said Captain Corbet, mournfully.

“Have we any?” asked Tom.

“Wal,” said Captain Corbet, “the tea’s all gone; and the coffee, and all
the potted meats, and the apples, and the taters, and the turnips and
carrots, and all the vegetables, and the smoked provisions, and you had
the last mite of corned beef yesterday.”

“But what is there left?” asked Tom.

“Only two or three papers of corn starch,” said Captain Corbet, with an
effort, “and, I believe, a half box of raisins, and a little rice.”

“And nothing else?”

“Not a hooter,” said Captain Corbet, despairingly.

Tom was silent. The boys all looked at one another with anxious faces,
and then began to talk over the situation.

The result was, that first of all they made Solomon produce everything
in the shape of eatables that remained on board. Solomon ransacked the
vessel, and laid everything out on the cabin table.

It was not a very large supply, and the display created additional
uneasiness in the minds of the boys.

There were,--

3 papers of corn starch, 1 lb. each.

1 ham bone.

l box raisins.

1 lb. rice.

6 biscuits.

1 bowl soup.

4 carrots.

1 potato, turnip.

2 apples.

1 oz. tea.

This was all--absolutely all on board the Antelope for the sustenance of
no less than nine human beings, all of whom were blessed with excellent
appetites. Fortunately, there was a sufficient supply of fresh water, so
that there was no trouble on that score.

But this supply of food, even when husbanded with the greatest care,
could scarcely last more than one day,--and here they were in the middle
of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and becalmed!

The circumstances in which they were, excited the deepest anxiety in
the minds of all. A grave and earnest discussion followed as to the best
course to be pursued. First of all, they all resolved to deny themselves
as far as possible, and make their supply of provisions last three days.
This could be done by making a very thin soup out of the ham bone with
the potato and turnip. The raisins were to be cooked with the corn
starch and rice, in one general mess, which was to be carefully divided
day by day. The biscuits, carrots, and apples were to be reserved.

After this they decided to try and construct something like oars, and
propel the Antelope in that manner.

The provisions were divided and cooked in accordance with this decision.
They all went without breakfast, for they had decided to eat but one
meal per day. At midday they partook of this important meal, which
consumed one third of their whole stock. But little was afforded out of
that one meal for each individual, and each one felt able to consume the
whole repast, instead of the beggarly ninth part which fell to him. Poor
Captain Corbet refused at first to eat, and so did Solomon, for each
reproached himself as the cause of the present famine; but the boys put
a stop to this by refusing also to eat, and thus compelled Solomon and
the captain to take the allotted nourishment.

As to the oars or sweeps, the plan proved a total failure. There was
nothing on board which could be used for that purpose. There was but
one small oar for the boat, and they could find nothing else that could
serve for an oar except the spars of the schooner, and they were not
quite prepared to resort to these. Even if they had done so, there was
not an axe or a hatchet on board with which to fashion them into the
requisite shape. There was, in fact, no tool larger than a pocket knife,
except perhaps the table knives, and they were too dull.

The calm continued.

Thus the first day of their famine passed.

They went to bed hungry.

They awaked famished, and found the calm still continuing. There was no
breakfast for them. The long hours passed slowly. In vain Captain Corbet
whistled for a wind. The wind came not.

Dinner was served at midday. Each one ate his meagre share. Each
one felt that this repast only tantalized his appetite, rather than
satisfied it. Solomon was in despair. Captain Corbet heaped upon himself
never-ending reproaches. Wade sat stolid and starving on the deck. The
boys stared, with hungry eyes, around the horizon.

There was not a sign of land; there was not a sail to be seen.

So the second day passed away.



IV.

_The third Day.--A strange Sail.--Below the Horizon.--Making
Signals.--No Answer.--Weary Waiting.--Starvation stares them in
the Face.--A long Day.--Hope dying out.--A long Discussion upon
the Situation.--The last Meal.--Bruce and Bart come to a desperate
Determination.--The secret Resolve._


THE third day came.

The boys slept soundly during the night, and were up early. As they
took their first look all around, their feelings were those of deep
despondency; for far and wide, as before, there was nothing visible but
the smooth sea and the cloudless sky. The calm continued, and all the
east was glowing with the fiery rays of the rising sun.

Suddenly there was a cry from Phil.

“A ship! A ship!”

“Where? Where?” asked all the others.

“There! There!” cried Phil, in intense excitement, pointing towards the
east, where the fiery sky rose over the glowing water. Looking in the
direction where he pointed, they all saw it plainly. It was indeed as he
said. It was a ship, and it was now plainly visible, though at first,
on account of the glare, none of them had noticed it but Phil. As they
stood and looked at it, every one of them was filled with such deep
emotions of joy and gratitude that not a word was said. Captain Corbet
was the first to break the solemn silence.

“Wal, I declar,” said he, “it’s ben so dim all along that I didn’t
notice her; and then it kine o’ got so bright that the glare dazzled my
eyes; but there she is, sure enough; and now all we’ve got to do is to
manage to get into communication with her.”

The boys made no answer, but stood looking in silence. Every minute the
glare lessened; then the sun rose, and as it ascended above the horizon,
the form of the strange ship became fully revealed.

It was a ship apparently of considerable size; but her hull was low down
in the water, and only her masts were visible. She seemed to lie below
the horizon, yet was as plain to the eye as though she had been only
five miles away.

“Well, boys,” said Bruce, at length, “I don’t know how you feel, but for
my part I feel like taking the boat and going off to her at once. I’m
sick of this fare, and should like to get a good breakfast. What do you
think, captain?”

Captain Corbet shook his head.

“Wal,” said he, “I don’t exactly seem to see my way clear to approvin of
you takin a row for such a matter as twenty mile or so. We’d never see
you again.”

“Twenty miles!” exclaimed Bruce. “Why, it doesn’t look like more than
two.”

The captain smiled.

“Why, you can’t see more of her than her masts,” replied Captain Corbet;
“and a ship that’s down below the horizon far enough to hide her hull is
a pooty good distance off--twenty mile, at least.”

At this Bruce was silent. Captain Corbet’s remarks were unanswerable,
and he did not yet feel prepared to row so great a distance as twenty
miles.

At length Bart went to the cabin, and returned with a spy-glass. This
instrument did not belong to Captain Corbet, for the venerable navigator
was strongly prejudiced against any such instruments, and the dimmer his
eyes grew, the stronger grew those prejudices. It belonged, in fact, to
Bruce, who had provided himself with it before leaving home. Armed with
this, Bart took a long look at the stranger. Then he passed the glass to
Bruce, and then all the boys, in turn, took a look.

The strange ship already appeared surprisingly distinct for a vessel
that lay below the horizon; and on looking at her through the glass,
this distinctness became more startling. Most of her sails were furled,
or rather, there appeared to be no sails at all, except the jib. The
fore and main-top gallant masts were gone. She appeared, indeed, to have
encountered a storm, in which she had lost her spars, and the present
calm seemed very little in accordance with her appearance.

The comments which the boys made upon the appearance of the stranger
excited Captain Corbet’s curiosity to such a degree that he surmounted
his prejudices, and condescended to look through the glass. His
astonishment at the result was due rather to his own ignorance of
glasses than to anything in the strange ship; but after he had become
somewhat more familiar with the instrument, he began to pay attention to
the object of his scrutiny.

“The fact is,” said he, after a long and careful search, “it doos railly
look jest for all the world as if that thar craft has been in a storm,
and lost her spars and sails. Perhaps he’s in distress. Perhaps they’re
watching us more anxiously than we’re watching them.”

“I wonder if they can see us?” said Bruce.

“I’m afraid not,” said Bart, “we’re so small.”

“But they’ve got a glass.”

“Yes, and they’d be sweeping the horizon for help.”

“I wish we could get nearer.”

“If they’re hard up, they might row to us.”

“Is it any use to signalize, captain?” asked Tom.

“Not a mite,” said Captain Corbet. “You can’t signalize to a vessel so
far away; at least I never heard of such a thing.”

“O, well, captain,” objected Bruce, “you see they have glasses. We could
see any signals if they were to hoist them, and they can see us as well
as we can see them, of course.”

“Wal,” said Captain Corbet, thoughtfully, “perhaps they can; and if so,
I’m sure I don’t see why we mayn’t try. So you may as well hist that
thar flag o’ yourn, boys. It can’t do any harm, at any rate.”

This proposal was at once acted upon. Several of the boys sprang aft,
and seizing the lines, began to lower and elevate, incessantly, the
proud, yet somewhat battered banner of the B. O. W. C.--the banner whose
pictured face had so often grinned at them through many an adventure, in
storm and in calm. It gave them an occupation; it also served to excite
hope; and so, for several hours, the flag never ceased to rise and
fall,--the boys taking turns at it, and one relieving the other, so as
to keep a fresh hand always at the work. This continued till midday; but
at length they gave it up in disgust.

They gave it up because it had not produced the slightest result, nor
excited the smallest attention; nor had the circumstances of their
situation changed in any respect whatever. Far away lay the ship, and no
more of her was visible. Nothing but her masts appeared to their eyes;
not a particle of her hull could be seen. She seemed somewhat longer
now, and some of them accounted for this on the ground that she had
changed her position somewhat, and presented her broadside more than she
had done in the morning.

The weather had not changed, nor were there any signs whatever of a
change. The sky was still as cloudless as ever, and not the faintest
fleck disturbed the expanse of blue that hung above them. The sea was
unruffled, nor was there any puff of wind to agitate its surface.

Early in the morning, when that strange ship first appeared, they had
hoped that a wind might arise before long to bring them together; or, if
a wind did not come, that at least the currents of the sea might drift
them into closer proximity; but now there began to arise a dark fear
that, instead of drifting nearer together, they might be carried farther
asunder, and that this strange ship, which had thus been borne so
mysteriously to their sight during the darkness, might, on the advent of
another day, be borne as mysteriously out of their sight. With anxious
eyes they watched her form, testing it in every possible way, to
discover whether the intervening space had increased or lessened. Some
of the more desponding ones were convinced that they were drifting
asunder; others, more hopeful, maintained that they were nearer; while
others, again, asserted that their respective positions had not changed.
And, in fact, it was evident from the very dispute itself, that the
position of the two vessels had not very greatly altered.

Half of the day had passed. Another half remained; and after that, what?
Night and darkness, and then how easily could they drift away from this
stranger, on which they had been placing such hopes! How could they
expect that the rest of the day would be any different from the
beginning?

Midday had come, and this was the time for their single daily meal.
Moreover, this meal was the last,--the last of the three portions which
they had set aside for the consumption of three days.

Here arose a solemn question.

Should they eat up all of this last portion? or should they divide it
into two parts, reserving something for the possible emergency of the
next day? The moment that this was proposed, they all decided at once
to reserve something, and not to devour at once all that was left.
They determined to deny themselves for this day for the security of the
morrow; and, hungry though they were, they preferred to have a meagre
repast with hope, rather than a fuller repast with despair. And so their
dinner was divided, and one portion set aside for the next day. Meagre
indeed and inadequate was this repast for these long-fasting and
ravenous boys; but there was no help for it; and as yet they had not
quite reached the worst. They, therefore, all tried most strenuously to
look on the bright side, make the best of their situation, and cheer one
another with remarks of a hopeful and encouraging character.

Dinner was prolonged as far as possible. Then came the long hours of
the afternoon. Gradually the efforts of the boys to keep up their own
spirits and encourage one another grew feebler and feebler. From time
to time they made faint efforts to find occupation for themselves, by
resorting to the flag, and actively lowering and hoisting it. But the
greater part of the time was spent in silently and sadly staring at the
strange ship, sometimes through the glass, whenever they could get
the chance, but generally without it. The remarks grew more and more
infrequent. The hoplessness of their situation began to weigh down more
and more the spirits of each, and at length they, one and all, relapsed
into silence. Solomon kept out of sight. Wade sat, as usual, stolid and
passive. Captain Corbet stood at the helm, looking in all directions, at
sea and sky, with an unchanged expression of heart-broken melancholy. So
the time passed.

The afternoon was far worse than the morning: in every respect. The
moral tone of the whole party had declined, and the whole scene around
presented no encouraging feature. In the morning they had been inspired
by the hope of making communications with the ship, but now this hope
died out more and more with every passing moment.

At length the sun went down, and then the shadows of the gloomy night
followed slowly and steadily. One by one the shades passed over the
distant ship, until at last they stood staring at the place where they
had seen her, but where now they could see nothing but darkness. This
completed their despondency, and the gloom around was commensurate with
that which now fell darkly and desparingly over the soul of each.

For a long time they wandered up and down the deck. No one spoke. Each
one was involved in his own gloomy thoughts. At length, one by one, they
retired to their beds, with the hope of forgetting their cares in sleep.

Bruce and Bart were left on the deck alone. All the rest had gone below.
Around all was dark. Both the boys were pacing up and down restlessly on
opposite sides of the deck.

At length Bruce stopped. “Bart,” said he, in a low voice, “is that you?”

“Yes,” said Bart. “Look here. I’ve got something I want to tell you.”

At this Bart came up to him in silence.

“I don’t like this style of thing,” said Bruce.

“Why, what can we do?”

“O, never mind. I’ve got a plan. Do you think we couldn’t have been
doing better all this day than staying here, moping our lives out?”

“What do you mean?”

“Why, I mean the very thing that I proposed this morning.”

“What, to row to the ship?”

“Yes. Why not?”

“How can you row twenty miles?”

“Stuff and nonsense. She can’t be so far. Captain Corbet’s utterly
mistaken.”

“Why, she’s below the horizon.”

“I don’t care. I judge from the looks of her. Do you believe you can see
so plainly a ship that’s twenty miles away? Why, man alive, if she had a
flag up you could almost make it out. For my part, I feel sure that she
isn’t over five miles away at the very farthest. I haven’t the slightest
doubt about it. Why, Bart, you and I are both accustomed enough to look
at ships out on the water, and you can see for yourself that it’s simply
impossible that this one can be so far away as twenty miles, or farther
away than I say. All the morning I couldn’t help feeling puzzled, and
concluded that it might be something in the atmosphere that magnified
the ship, and made her seem so near,--like the mirage, you know; but,
afterwards, I gave that up.”

“Well,” said Bart, after some thought, “I don’t know but what you’re
about right, Bruce; but what are you going to do?”

“Well, we’ve got this night before us, and if the wind comes, why, of
course we are all right. But suppose that the wind doesn’t come, and we
find ourselves to-morrow morning as we did this morning, with that ship
so near. Do you feel able to stand here all day, and watch, and wait,
and then sit down to our last dinner? I don’t. Or suppose that we find
ourselves gradually drifting away from her. No--I can’t stand it. I’ve
made up my mind to row out to her. What do you say? Will you come with
me?”

“I will,” said Bart, firmly. “I’ll go, even if it is twenty miles. I’d
go forty, rather than live this day over again. But when do you propose
to start?”

“I’ve been thinking it all over,” said Bruce. “My plan is this: We’ll
get all ready to-night; that is, have the oars in the boat, and put in a
couple of bottles of fresh water; besides, we can take with us about
our share of the food that remains. Well, to-morrow morning, if the calm
continues, the moment that we see the ship, we’ll start, and row for
her. Why, if we had only done that this morning, by this time we’d
have been on board of her, with a boat from the ship back here with
provisions. Mind you, don’t think of twenty miles; it isn’t more than
five at the very furthest--perhaps not over three or four.”

“All right. I’ll go. Do you intend to tell anybody?”

“No; not a soul. The rest of the fellows would insist on going; and it
will be better for us two only to go; it will prevent confusion, and be
the best for all concerned.”

“But how can we get away without their knowing it?”

“O, my idea is to push off from the schooner before any one is up, and
then watch for the appearance of the ship by daylight. The moment we see
her we can pull for her.”

“That seems pretty good,” said Bart, thoughtfully; “but it is a puzzle
to me how that ship can be below the horizon, and yet not be farther off
than five miles. She certainly did not look farther away than that. For
my part, I don’t see how she could be less than ten miles at the
least, so as to be so completely hidden. I forget the rule for the
disappearance of a ship below the horizon; but there is something
in this one that I can’t understand. Yet, as you say, judging by the
appearance of her masts, one might imagine her to be not more than three
or four miles off. After all, it must be mirage.”

“O, no; mirage doesn’t last all day long, without the slightest change.”

“You don’t know. It may in this case.”

“Well, of course I don’t pretend to understand all the freaks of the
atmosphere; but all that I’ve ever read about the mirage shows that it
is incessantly shifting and changing, and never lasts over an hour
or so, at the furthest. Besides, in our latitudes, these peculiar
appearances only take place in the morning.”

“Well, I don’t know,” said Bart. “At any rate, I shall be prepared for a
row of at least ten miles.”

“All right. Make up your mind to that, and then you won’t be
disappointed.”

“Shall you go to bed to-night, Bruce?”

“Of course.”

“But how can you wake?”

“O, I can wake whenever I like. I’ll wake you.”

“All right. About what time?”

“O, about an hour before daybreak; but come, let’s get things ready
now.”

The boys then went about completing their preparations for their
adventurous journey. These were but slight. They consisted in simply
putting on board the boat, which was floating astern, two bottles of
fresh water and a little of the provision which had been put aside for
the next day.

After this they both retired.

On the following morning, at about three o’clock? Bruce laid his hand
on Bart’s forehead. Bart awoke instantly. The two then went as softly as
possible on deck. No one was there. All were below, sound asleep.

Silently, yet quickly, the two boys got into the boat, and then pushed
off. There were two oars in the boat. Each took one, and then began to
row. But, after a few strokes, Bruce took the oar from Bart, for the
boat was too small for two oarsmen. So Bruce pulled very silently out
into the darkness over the water, in the direction which they supposed
would lead towards the strange ship. After rowing about a hundred yards
Bruce stopped. Both boys now waited patiently till it should become
light enough for them to see the ship.



V.

_Daybreak.--Startling Discovery.--The Boat gone.--Where are Bruce
and Bart?--Dismay.--The long Row.--The distant Ship.--Below
the Horizon.--Deep in the Water.--The shattered
Sails.--Waterlogged!--Boarding the Stranger.--Discoveries of a Kind
which are at once exciting and pleasing._


WITH the break of day the boys were all on deck. Their first impulse
was to take a look around. They saw the reddening eastern sky and the
smooth water all around them, and their hearts sank within them as
they perceived that the wearisome calm still continued. They noticed,
however, that the ship was still visible, and this was some consolation.
It seemed now a little nearer than the day before.

“Captain,” said Tom, “we’ve got nearer to her: don’t you think so?”

The captain made no reply. Tom looked up, and repeated his remark. As
he looked up, he saw Captain Corbet standing astern with a puzzled
expression, and looking down into the water and all around.

“What’s the matter?” asked Tom.

“The boat,” said Captain Corbet.

“What of her?”

“Some one’s been and stole her, or else she’s gone to the bottom, only
the rope’s gone, too.”

“What! the boat!” cried Tom. “You don’t mean to say the boat’s gone!”

The other boys were startled at this, and hurried aft to look for
themselves.

“I’m glad I wasn’t in her this time, at any rate,” said Tom, and then
added in a melancholy voice, “but I suppose it wouldn’t make much
difference now.”

The boys stood in silence for some time, not quite knowing how to take
this new incident. At length Phil looked all around.

“Where’s Bart?” he asked, “and Bruce?”

“They’re not up,” said Tom. “Don’t wake them. Let them sleep as long as
they can.”

“Up? They’re not down, either,” said Phil. “Their berths are empty.”

The boys all stared at each other. A suspicion flashed across their
minds.

“Sure and if they’re not up nor down, they must be in the boat, and
there you have it,” said Pat, dryly. “And it’s meself,” he added, “that
’ud be proud to be with thim this day.”

“The boat? But what for?” asked Phil.

“They must have started off for the ship,” said Tom, who-now understood
all.

At this they all looked with eager eyes over the water in the direction
of the ship. All thought that they could see a shadowy spot, but it was
too indistinct as yet to be resolved into anything. After a few minutes
Phil went below, and returned with the glass, through which he looked
long and attentively.

“It’s them,” said he at last, passing the glass to Arthur.

Arthur looked, and then Tom, and then Pat, and then Captain Corbet.
It grew brighter and brighter every moment, and at length, as Corbet
looked, he saw the boat plainly for an instant; but the next moment the
glare of the rising sun drove his eyes away. The sun rose and ascended
higher, and still they could see the boys rowing with quick strokes very
far away, while beyond lay the strange ship.

It was still as low down as ever, “below the horizon,” as Captain Corbet
said, but was very much larger and plainer. Every one of them wondered
how she could be in reality so far away as twenty miles. None of them
spoke, however, but stood with varying feelings, staring in silence
after their companions.

Of them all the most affected was Captain Corbet. At the first mention
of the fact he had started, and after having assured himself of
its truth with his own eyes, he exhibited every mark of the deepest
agitation.

“Wal,” said he, as he stood with his head bowed upon his breast. “I
never! Who’d a thought it! Why, its ravin madness. And them, too,
thinkin of rowin to a ship that’s below the horizon. Twenty mile in that
thar boat, if it’s an inch, and two mile an hour’s the most they can
do. Why, it’s temptin fate. It’s flyin in the face of Providence. That’s
what it is. That thar ship’s twenty mile away. The wind’ll come up
before they get half way. They’ll never get there--never. And stealin
off in this way, too! Why didn’t they get me to go with them? Why didn’t
they ask my advice? And them, too, a trustin of their two perecious
lives in that thar ferrail bark, that hadn’t ought ever to go more’n
a mile at the furthest. And here am I, chained to this post, and can’t
move, and them a rushin on to utter ruination. O, boys, dear boys,” he
concluded, in a kind of wail, “for your sakes I want the wind to rise,
but for their sakes I want it to contennew a calm.”

“O, captain, never fear,” said Arthur, cheerfully. “They’ll take care of
themselves easy enough; and, in fact, the more I think of it, the better
it seems.”

“I only wish I was in the boat,” said Tom, heartily.

“So do I,” said Phil.

“Sure and that same I said meself at the first,” said Pat.

Meanwhile Solomon had stood a little apart from the rest, looking after
the boat, but manifesting very different emotions. His occupation being
gone, he had come upon deck to see what the prospects might be, and had
heard everything. Taking advantage of a moment when the glass was not
in requisition, he had given a look towards the receding boat, and
had assured himself by actual inspection of the facts of the case. The
moment that he had done this he drew a long breath, laid down the glass,
and then stood looking after the boys with a gentle smile irradiating
his ebony face. From time to time he would close his eyes, sigh gently,
and his lips would move as though whispering to himself, while once or
twice a half audible chuckle escaped him.

“Tell you what it is,” said he at length; “don’t you go on. Dem yer
boys is goin to save der blessed selves and us too. It’s my pinion
dey’ll bring us luck, fust rate, too, fust chop, tip-top, prime. Hooray!
Dey’ll quaint dem yar seamen ob our difficulties, an dey’ll come back a
flyin wid a big boat-load of pro-visium. O, you can’t drown dem blessed
chilen. Dey’re boun to tak car ob demselves, and dey’ll work dar way
ober de oceum foam, to sabe de libes ob all aboard, and’ll be back
to-night to tea. Hooray! Mind, I tell you!”

The gayety and hopefulness of Solomon did not fail to be communicated to
all the rest, until at length even Captain Corbet was willing to admit
that it was just as well, after all, that they had gone, though he still
professed to feel hurt that his advice had not been asked.

To the boys their situation seemed now in every way more endurable.
They had at least something to hope for, and the adventure of their
companions formed a perpetual subject for thought or conversation. Even
the calm was now welcome, for as long as this continued it would be
favorable to the boat. On the other hand, should the ‘wind arise, they
could up sail and after them. They all thought that Captain Corbet’s
estimate of a distance of twenty miles was extravagant; and even if the
ship was “below the horizon,” they concluded that at the farthest it
could not be more than eight or ten miles away. Allowing two miles an
hour for the boat, they thought that Bruce and Bart might reach their
destination by nine or ten o’clock in the morning, and thus have the
greater part of the day still before them.

As the hours passed away, the boys thus beguiled the time by various
speculations about the progress of their companions. The calm continued;
and they were not sorry, for they saw in this the best chance for a
successful issue to the enterprise. Phil made a sort of chart, with the
schooner and the ship in proper position, and marked off ten intervals
which he estimated at a mile each. For hour after hour they watched
this, and amused themselves by indicating on it the progress of their
friends. At length it was ten o’clock, and all the boys felt quite sure
that the boat had reached the ship.

Meanwhile the two adventurous boys had been going on their expedition.
At a hundred yards from the schooner they had stopped, as we have seen,
and looked anxiously around in the direction where they supposed the
stranger to lie. For some time they could see nothing; but at length,
as it grew lighter, they detected her masts through the gloom, and were
overjoyed at finding that she was nearer than on the previous day. They
had made a mistake, however, as to the right direction, for the ship lay
very much more to one side.

“We’ve drifted nearer together during the night,” said Bruce, “and I
don’t believe she’s over three miles away.”

Saying this, he changed the boat’s course, and heading for the ship,
pulled with all his might.

“I say, Bruce,” said Bart, “you’d better not pull so hard at first;
you’ll tire yourself.”

“O, it’s only till we get further from the schooner. I want to get well
out of the reach of hearing before the fellows see us. I’ll take it easy
after a time.”

Saying this, he pulled on, watching the schooner, and succeeded in
getting so far away, that by the time they came on deck he could only
distinguish the moving figures. Then he slackened his efforts somewhat.

“There isn’t a bit of prospect of any wind,” said he. “I tell you
what it is, my boy: I’d far rather be here this minute than aboard the
Antelope.”

“So would I,” said Bart; “but can you imagine the state of mind that
the fellows must be in?”

“O, they’ll be glad after the first excitement’s over.”

“I wonder if they saw us.”

“Of course.”

“They didn’t shout, or anything.”

“We were too far off to hear them.”

“No, we weren’t; but I suppose we were so far off that they thought it
would do no good.”

For about half an hour Bruce pulled quite leisurely, for he wished to
husband his strength as much as possible, and then Bart took his turn at
the oars. Not much was said, partly because the exertion of rowing did
not allow of any prolonged conversation, and partly because they were
too much filled with their own thoughts, arising out of the suspense of
the occasion.

At length, after rowing for another half hour, Bart handed the oars to
Bruce, and took his seat in the stern.

The moment he did so he uttered a cry of surprise.

“What’s the matter?” asked Bruce.

“Why, how near we’re getting!” said Bart.

“Of course we are.”

“I haven’t looked since I took the oars, on purpose to see what our
progress is. And now--why, really, Bruce, it seems as if we must be half
way already.”

“Of course we are,” said Bruce, “and more too.”

“Why, she’s as low in the water as ever.”

“I know; there’s something queer about her.”

“She looks as though she’d been in a heavy gale.”

“She must have been.”

“I don’t see a soul on board.”

“I haven’t seen any one, either.”

“Perhaps no one is up yet. It’s early, you know.”

“I hope it’s that,” said Bruce.

Bart was silent for a few moments. At length he said,--

“I should like to see some signs of life there, I must say.”

“Well, we’ll know all about her by the time you’re through your next
pull.”

Bruce now rowed, and Bart sat with his eyes fixed on the ship. She
still lay as low in the water as ever, but they could see her bulwarks
plainly, and her cabins. Her rigging seemed as disordered as ever, and
it was a puzzle to Bart, why, in this calm weather, she should be
so neglected. Various unpleasant thoughts arose in his mind, but he
kept-them to himself. Thus the time passed, and Bruce rowed, and the
boat drew steadily nearer. At length he gave the oars over to Bart, and
took his seat in the stern.

By this time they were not more than a mile from the ship. She was
certainly very low in the water. At a distance they had supposed that
her sails were furled. They could now see that she had no sails at all.
There was her jib, and that was all. There was no sign of life aboard,
and the disorder in her rigging was more perceptible than ever.

“Bart,” said Bruce in a solemn tone, after he had gazed silently at the
ship for full ten minutes.

“Well?”

“Do you know what I think about her?”

“What?”

“It’s my opinion that there’s not a soul on board of her.”

Bart was silent.

“She’s evidently been in a storm; her sails are gone; her rigging
is every way. The crew have probably deserted her; and, yes, she
is--there’s no doubt about it. I suspected it--I knew it.”

“She’s what?” asked Bart.

“Waterlogged!” said Bruce.

Bart turned his head and looked at her for a long time. He said not a
word. At last he turned to Bruce.

“Well,” said he, “at any rate, we must board her. After coming so far,
we can’t go back. Besides, we may find something.”

“Find something? Of course we shall,” said Bruce, confidently. “We’ll
find lots of things. We’ll find barrels of pork, and beef, and bread,
and other things besides, no doubt. When they left her, they would only
take enough to last them till they got ashore. They must have left the
greater part of their supplies and sea stores behind.”

“Of course,” said Bart; “so here goes.”

And with these words he pulled as vigorously as though he had not yet
rowed a stroke.

And now every minute they drew nearer and nearer. Bart rowed without
turning his head, but Bruce sat with his eyes fixed upon her,
occasionally telling Bart when he got out of his course.

As they drew nearer in this way, every doubt was removed, if there had
been any doubts in the mind of either. The ship was evidently deserted.
She was also as evidently waterlogged. Now they were able to account for
what had puzzled them before; her lying so low in the water, and yet at
the same time seeming so near. Her nearness was not apparent, but real;
her lowness in the water actual, and not seeming. That she had been
deserted by her crew was more and more evident every moment, for as they
drew nearer, they could see not a sign of life. Had there been any one
on board, he would certainly have made himself visible.

At length Bruce bawled out, “Ship, ahoy!”

Bart stopped rowing and looked around. Both boys listened. They did
not expect any answer, nor did any answer come. They waited for about
a minute, and then Bart rowed on. In about two minutes they were
alongside. The oars were thrown in, the boat secured, and the two boys
stepped aboard.

[Illustration: 0083]

There was a mixture of attraction and repulsion in the first sight of
the ship, which affected the boys very peculiarly. She lay waterlogged.
Her decks were on a level with the sea. But her bulwarks rose six feet
high above the water, and the deck itself afforded a spacious area on
which to walk. The deck was white with the washing of many waters, and
dry in the warm sun, which had shone upon it for some days past. All
the boats were gone except one, which hung at the starboard davits, and
looked like the captain’s gig. The cook’s galley stood amidships, and
astern there was a quarter-deck. The cabin doors were open wide. The
forecastle was also open. The main hatchway was open, and the boys,
looking in, could see the cargo. It consisted of enormous pine logs.

The sight of this cargo explained all. This was a timber ship, no doubt,
from Quebec, which had encountered a storm in the gulf, and sprung
aleak. On becoming waterlogged, she had been deserted and left to her
fate; yet her cargo, which was of wood, prevented her from sinking,
and the huge sticks of timber served to give her stiffness as well as
buoyancy, and preserve her from breaking up. To Bart a timber ship was
the most familiar thing in the world, for he had been brought up in a
timber port; his father sailed timber ships, and the whole situation was
one which he perfectly understood at the very first glance.

The boys walked about the decks. To their delight, they saw several
water casks lashed behind the mainmast, and a row of barrels that
looked as if they contained provisions, for they all bore the eloquent
inscription:--

MESS PORK.

Going into the cook’s galley, they saw the cooking-stove in good
working order, and the inmost thought and spontaneous expression of each
was,--“Won’t Solomon rejoice when he sees this!” They then went aft.

They entered the cabin.

There was a passage-way about three feet wide. On each side there was
a door which was open. Looking in, they saw on one side a room full of
ropes, and sails, and oakum, while on the other was another room full of
ship’s stores.

Passing on, they reached the cabin itself. It was a room about twelve
feet wide and sixteen feet long. A door at one end opened into
another cabin aft. On the sides of both cabins were doors opening into
state-rooms. Two of these were very well furnished, and in the after
cabin there was a large and comfortable state-room, which both the boys
decided to have been the captain’s. The furniture was all confused. The
carpet was damp. It seemed as though the sea had been careering through
these cabins and state-rooms. But the upper parts had been spared; and
in the pantry where the boys at length found themselves, they saw, with
a pleasure that cannot be described, the contents of the upper shelves
as dry as when they were first put there.

At this they rejoiced more than at anything else.



VI.

_Bruce and Bart on board the deserted Ship.--New Discoveries.--The
Cook’s Galley.--A sumptuous Repast.--Observations.--A Return
baffled.--Back again.--The Antelope.--The Ripple in the
Water.--Speculations.--The Sail to the Ship.--Puzzle about the lost
Ones.--Nearer and nearer.--Unexpected and astounding Welcome!_


THE state of mind and body in which Bruce and Bart found themselves
was of such a kind that the discovery of a well-stocked pantry and
store-room gave them more delight than they had known for a very long
time. They themselves were ravenously hungry; for the appetite which had
been quickened by their long fast had been sharpened by exercise, and
they also could not forget that their friends on board the Antelope
were depending upon this expedition as much as themselves. Under such
circumstances they looked around upon the well stocked shelves, and as,
one after another, they recognized well-known and favorite articles of
food, tears of joy started to their eyes.

Tea, and coffee, and sugar, and butter, and potted meats, and hams, and
pickles, and many other delicacies of a similar kind, showed that their
predecessors had not been indifferent to the pleasures of the table. In
taking leave they seemed to have been very modest in their requirements,
since they had taken away but little. As they continued their
researches, they found other articles which increased their delight.
There were a barrel of apples, boxes of raisins, drums of figs, bags of
nuts, bottles of raspberry vinegar and of lemon sirup, a demijohn full
of lime juice, and a delicious Cheshire cheese. Leaving the pantry and
going into another store-room, they saw numerous barrels, some of which
contained beef, and others pork. Opening another door, they looked in,
and saw a chamber lined with tin and filled with pilot bread.

“I say, Bruce,” said Bart, “let’s postpone any further searches now, and
get breakfast.”

“All right. What shall we have?”

“Well, I feel strongly inclined for some tea, broiled bacon, toasted
biscuit, and Welsh rarebit.”

“Why don’t you add a few other things?” said Bruce, with a laugh. “How
can we cook anything?”

“Why, in the cook’s galley.”

“But there isn’t any fuel.”

“Why, there’s a lot of coal in that front storeroom, and fagots of wood.
Didn’t you see them?”

“I didn’t notice.”

“Well, I did, and I’m going to make a fire.”

“Have you any matches?”

“Yes.”

“Well, you make the fire, and I’ll set the table.”

“O, no; don’t set the table here. Let’s eat on the quarter-deck. It’s
rather close in here.”

“Very well; I’ll gather the dishes and eatables.” Bart now went about
his task. Going into the store-room, he found the fuel, and carrying a
supply to the cook’s galley, he succeeded in a few minutes in producing
a roaring fire. Then he filled the kettle, and before long the water
began to boil.

By that time Bruce was ready with his part of the business. The teapot
was brought forward, and the tea set to draw. Then a few slices of
very superior ham were placed over the coals and broiled. While Bruce
attended to this, Bart soaked some pilot biscuit in water till they were
quite soft, after which he fried them in butter on the stove. He then
proceeded to try his hand at a Welsh rarebit. He cut up some thin slices
of cheese, added butter, and then allowed it all to liquefy over the
fire. Having accomplished this, the two adventurers conveyed their
things to the quarter-deck, and sat down to breakfast.

Even had they been less hungry they would have enjoyed that breakfast.
True, they had no milk in their tea, but they had long since grown
accustomed, on board the Antelope, to dispense with that. The tea was of
a very superior quality, the fried biscuit was most savory, the broiled
ham was a great success, and the Welsh rarebit was pronounced delicious.

Already they had turned occasional glances over the water, and had seen
the Antelope, lying apparently three or four miles away, in the same
place where they had left her. Now, after they had satisfied their
appetites, they began to look at her more closely, and to discuss the
time of their return. They felt anxious to go back as soon as possible,
but decided that they might as well postpone it until they were
thoroughly rested.

It was evident to the boys that the ship which they had boarded had
been deserted very hastily, and they thought that her company must have
boarded some other ship. In this way only could they account for the
numerous things which had been left behind. Among these was a very
good spy-glass. Bruce had seen this while preparing breakfast, and had
brought it on deck with the other things. As they now sat on the deck
after breakfast, they amused themselves for some time with looking at
the Antelope. They could see several figures on the deck, but could
not distinguish one from another. They tried to tell by watching
their movements who each one might be. A solitary figure, that stood
motionless at the stern, they were certain was Captain Corbet, while
another figure, which indulged in rather eccentric movements, seemed to
be Solomon. The rest could not be guessed at.

They had already found out the name of the ship. They saw it in many
places, on a row of buckets that hung in front of the cabin, on the
captain’s gig, on the cook’s galley; they saw it engraved on a brass
plate on the cabin door, on the capstan, and on the spy-glass; and this
name, which they thus saw in so many places, was,--

PETREL, LIVERPOOL.

In discussing her fate, they concluded that she had loaded with timber
at Quebec, had encountered a severe gale in the gulf and sprung a leak,
and that another ship had hove in sight, to which the captain and crew
of the Petrel had fled in their boats, without taking anything off their
ship. They must have deserted her under the impression that she was
going down.

Thus they accounted for the present situation.

They decided to leave at eleven o’clock for the Antelope, and return
with the schooner as soon as possible. Nearly an hour still remained,
and they thought it would be a good idea to prepare the Petrel for the
reception of visitors, so as to afford as cheerful an impression as
possible. This could be effected by making the cabin more “shipshape.”
 It seemed to have been entered by rolling seas, for the furniture was
lying confusedly about, and there was some dampness in the air. The
bedding also was all wet. They devoted themselves now to this. They
opened the skylight, so as to secure ventilation, and the stern-ports.
Then they brought all the bedding out, and spread it over the
quarter-deck, where the hot sun and dry wind might do their work.
Then they swept out the cabin, and arranged the furniture as neatly as
possible. At the end of this a great change was produced, and the cabin
of the Petrel assumed an appearance not only of comfort, but almost of
comparative luxury.

At length eleven o’clock came, and they began to prepare for their
return to the Antelope. These preparations consisted simply in filling a
bag with pilot bread, and putting this on board the boat; to which they
added a ham, with some tea, sugar, and butter. They then embarked, and,
pushing off, began to row.

But scarcely had they rowed a dozen strokes when they became sensible of
a breeze. It was a gentle breeze, and it was blowing against them. Bart,
who was rowing, at once stopped, and Bruce at the same moment uttered
a cry which made him look round. It was a joyous sight that they saw--a
sight which assured them that they would be spared the long effort
of pulling back again, for there, away over the water, they saw the
Antelope spreading her white wings to catch the gentle breeze. If that
breeze continued, it would bring her up to them in an hour, and though
light, it promised to be steady enough.

“I wonder if it’s going to last,” asked Bart thoughtfully.

“O, I think so.”

“Perhaps it may be as well not to pull any farther just yet.”

“Certainly not. This breeze’ll bring the Antelope here faster than we
can row towards her, and we will not be gaining enough time to pay for
our trouble.”

“But the wind might stop, and in that case it Would be a pity to lose
the time.”

“O, it can’t be of much consequence. If the wind does die away, we can
start off. We can watch the Antelope all the time.”

“Well,” said Bart, “if you’re agreed, I am, I’m sure; and besides,”
 he added, “I should like to do a little more to make the Petrel more
presentable, and in better order for receiving our visitors.”

“Capital,” said Bruce. “I didn’t think of that. Yes, that will be far
better than wasting time in unnecessary rowing.”

“My idea,” said Bart, “is to set the table in the cabin, and cook a
sumptuous breakfast to receive the starving Antelopers.”

“Hurrah!” cried Bruce, with enthusiasm; “that’s just the thing.”

“The cabin’s a little damp, but not so bad as it was, and by the time
they get here, it’ll be dry enough. They won’t be particular. We’ll set
the table regularly, bring out the best china, and cook some ham, trot
out some of those potted meats, and have both tea and coffee.”

“And Welsh rarebit.”

“Well, yes, if we have time; but the fact is, I wasn’t altogether
satisfied with my last effort, and we can try it again some other time.”

This new project was a most fascinating one to both the boys, who
returned to the Petrel, and hauled up their boat on the other side, so
that it could not be seen from the Antelope. This was merely to heighten
the surprise which they intended to give. They then went to work to
prepare the repast with which they wished to welcome their friends; and
their only fear now was that the Antelope would reach them before they
were ready. Fortunately, this was not the case. The breeze lasted, but
it was light, and the progress of the Antelope, though steady, was slow,
so that the two boys were able to complete their preparations.

Meanwhile, the time on board the Antelope had passed very slowly. The
boys had felt full of hope about the result of the expedition of Bart
and Bruce, but they were all ravenously hungry, and hope could not take
the place of bread and butter. As the time passed they all felt more and
more impatient, and after they had settled for themselves that the boat
had reached the ship, they began to look for its return.

But from these thoughts they were all roused by a sudden cry of joy.
It burst forth from Captain Corbet. Every one started and turned to see
what had happened. They saw an exhilarating sight, which at once roused
them from their gloom. There at the stern stood their venerable friend,
a smile of exultation on his aged face, tears of joy in his mild eyes,
one hand waving his hat in the air, and the other pointing over the
water.

“It’s come! It’s come! Hooray!”

This was what he said, and as he said it the boys looked, and saw
all over the water a gentle ripple. Then they knew it all. The
long-wished-for wind had at last come, and they were freed from their
long and irksome imprisonment. In an instant they all rushed to hoist
the sails. As they hoisted them they felt the gentle air on their faces,
and they saw the sails swelling at its touch. Soon all sail was hoisted,
and Captain Corbet, with an exultant smile, stood once more at the helm,
and the Antelope began to move through the waters.

“I knowed it,” said he, “I knowed it all along, and I said it, I did.
That thar wind was bound to come. I felt it in my bones; yea, down to my
butes. I saw how down in the mouth you all felt, and didn’t like to make
you too san-goo-wine, but I knowed it, I did, I knowed it, all the same;
and here, it has come at last, sure enough.”

The progress of the Antelope was slow, but it was progress, and that was
enough. All the boys stood watching the ship, which they were gradually
approaching. Solomon stood watching with the rest. Once he suggested the
subject of dinner; but though before the wind came they had all been so
hungry, they seemed now to have lost their appetites. The excitement of
suspense was too strong, and none of them felt able to eat until they
had reached the ship, and joined their friends again. And so they moved
slowly over the water.

They soon perceived that the ship was not half so far away as they had
supposed, and then they discovered, not long after, the truth of her
situation. They could see this better than Bart and Bruce had been able
to do, for they had been sitting low down in a boat, while these were
standing on the deck, or the taffrail of the schooner, and thus could
make out the true character of the stranger more easily.

As they came within sight, and learned this, they began to look eagerly
about for signs of life. That the ship was waterlogged they could see,
but whether there was any one aboard or not they could not see. What had
become of the boat? Where were Bruce and Bart? They could see no signs
of any boat whatever. But signs of life at length did appear in the
shape of smoke from the cook’s galley. Arthur, who was examining the
ship through the glass, was the first to detect this, and it was not
long before all the boys could see it with the naked eye. Smoke of
itself would have indicated human life; but smoke from the cook’s galley
indicated something more, and was eloquently suggestive of those joys of
the table to which they had too long been strangers. It served to assure
them that their difficulties were approaching an end, and that smoke
from the cook’s galley was of itself enough to drive away the last
vestige of despondency.

But, in the mean while, what had become of Bruce and Bart? That was the
question which every one asked himself, without being able to answer.
Where was the boat? They could not see it anywhere. Could the boys have
gone on board the ship? They must have done so. The water had been too
calm to admit of the probability of any evil happening to them. They
must have boarded the ship.

But where were Bruce and Bart now?

No one could tell.

The Antelope drew steadily nearer, and all on board watched with
indescribable eagerness the strange ship. Now they could see her
disordered rigging, her yards bare of sails, her open hatchway. They
could see bedding lying on the quarter-deck, and the open skylight.
All these things indicated life on board; yet of that life there was no
other sign. Where was the captain? Where were the crew? Where was the
cook, who kept up such a roaring fire? It was all a puzzle. Above all.
where were Bruce and Bart? Who could tell?

Nearer and nearer.

Every moment brought them closer, but disclosed no living being.

Solomon crept up slowly to Arthur, and gently touched his arm.

Arthur started, and turned.

“Hallo, Solomon! what’s the matter with you?”

“Mas’r Atta, I donno bout dis yer craft,” said Solomon, in a tremulous
voice, with his eyes rolling wildly.

“Why, what’s the matter?” asked Arthur, in surprise.

“Donno; dar’s somethin drefful curous bout dis yer craft,--beats all
eber I see,--floatin under water; full ub water, an not sinkin; fire a
burnin like de old boy in de cook’s galley, an not a livin man aboard. I
don’t like it. Tell you what, now, I don’t like it.”

“Pooh! nonsense,” said Arthur. “Don’t be absurd, Solomon. You’ll take
your turn in that cook’s galley, perhaps, before sundown, and make
acquaintance with the cook of the ship.”

Solomon shuddered and shook his head.

They were now within a stone’s throw of the ship.

Suddenly Captain Corbet, put both hands to his mouth, holding the tiller
between his legs, and shouted, in a loud voice,--

“Ship, ahoy!”

Then came an answer.

At last!

And what an answer!

Out of the cabin bounded two well-known forms. They rushed out dancing,
and capering, and flinging their hats in the air. They shouted, and
yelled, and hurrahed. They ran up to the quarter-deck, and repeated
these actions there. Those on board the Antelope were so astounded that
they looked on in dumb bewilderment.

“Haul up alongside!” cried Bruce. “Fetch her round! I’m captain of this
craft, and Bart is mate; I’m steward, and he’s cook; I’m boatswain,
and he’s the crew. Hurrah! Haul up alongside, and heave us a line, my
hearties.”

It was some time before Captain Corbet could recover sufficiently from
his bewilderment to be capable of doing anything. Half mechanically he
managed to bring the Antelope around, and man-. aged it just in time
to cause her to move gently up alongside. Wade, who had all along been
perfectly stolid, then proceeded to secure the schooner to the ship
in the most matter-of-fact way in the world, just as if he had been
securing her to the wharf in Grand Pré. But long before he had taken the
first turn in the rope, the boys had bounded on board the Petrel, and
proceeded to overwhelm Bruce and Bart with countless questions.



VII.

_All aboard.--A Welcome of the best Kind.--The Invitation.--The
Banquet.--Amazement of the Visitors.--The Repast.--Solomon in
his Glory.--The Manuscript found in a Bottle.--The Fate of the
Petrel.--Captain Corbet has an Idea.--He begins to brood over it.--A
Question of Salvage.--How to make one’s Fortune._


GRADUALLY they became acquainted with the whole truth of the situation.
They had thought thus far that the ship, though waterlogged, was still in
the possession of her captain and crew. Boundless was their astonishment
at learning that it was in the possession of Bruce and Bart alone, and
the astonishment which they experienced at this amazing discovery for
a time drove away all other thoughts. But Nature at length asserted her
supremacy, and the pangs of hunger, for some time past kept in abeyance,
now awaked in full force.

“Haven’t you found anything to eat?” asked Arthur, in a low voice,
tremulous with emotion.

Bruce did not reply, but looked at Bart. The other boys turned pale. For
a moment the awful thought occurred that there was nothing; but the next
instant there was wafted to their nostrils the savory odor of broiled
ham, which overpowered that mournful thought, and drove it away
effectually.

“Well, I don’t know,” said Bart, “but that we may manage to scare up
something. I suppose you’re not very particular. Come in here, and I’ll
see what I can do for you.”

With these words he entered the cabin, and all the others followed.

One by one they entered the cabin, and one by one each, as he entered,
stood rooted to the spot, and stared around in dumb amazement. Captain
Corbet came last. He took one look, and then exclaimed, in a low,
prolonged, and tremulous voice,--

“Good gerracious!”

And indeed there was every reason for surprise. They had come in
expecting to enter the ruinous cabin of a half-wrecked ship, with
perhaps a few mouldy ship’s biscuit to be divided among the hungry
company. Instead of this they saw a table set out to its fullest extent,
with a white cloth spread, and on that table a repast which was nothing
less than sumptuous. Tea, coffee, biscuit hard and toasted, Welsh
rarebit, broiled ham, potted shrimps, game pie, pickled oysters,
lobster, potted salmon, tomatoes, potatoes hot, steaming, and mealy,
apples, raisins, nuts, figs, raspberry vinegar, lemon sirup, and
numerous other dainties which Bart and Bruce had discovered and drawn
forth from the rich store that lay accumulated in the pantry of the
Petrel. The lavish abundance of everything, as well as the astonishing
variety, overwhelmed the hungry new comers, and, except the exclamation
of Captain Corbet, not one word was spoken. It was a moment when words
were useless.

For an instant or so Bruce and Bart enjoyed the astonishment of their
friends, and watched the effect with a triumphant smile. They had
been purposely lavish in this first entertainment of theirs, and had
succeeded in placing upon the table a specimen of every individual
article for food or drink which the ship contained. They had worked hard
in anticipation of this moment, and now that it had come, they found it
a complete success.

“Come,” said Bruce, at last, “you can’t eat with your eyes, you know.
Come, noble captain, do you preside at this festive board. Tom, sit on
the captain’s right, Bart on his left. I’ll take the foot of the table,
with Phil on my right. Ward, my bold mate, sit next to Bart; Pat and
Phil, fall in. Solomon, you go and install yourself in the cook’s
galley, where you’ll find as much as you can eat for the rest of the
day.”

Upon this they all took their places, and began to eat with appetites
such as those only can possess who have fasted for twenty-four hours on
the sea. Bart and Bruce had already satisfied their own wants; so while
their friends were eating they gave a full, complete, and exhaustive
account of their own adventures, and their doings aboard of the Petrel.

The dinner passed off most delightfully, and a far longer time was spent
at the table than the boys generally gave to their repast. Ample justice
was done to the bountiful and varied supply that graced the board.
After the first pangs of hunger were appeased, there were a thousand new
questions to be asked and answered, in addition to those which they had
already made. Captain Corbet alone said nothing. He sat and ate, and
listened, and from time to time leaned back in his chair with a sigh of
happiness, and surveyed the company with a smile that spoke of inward
peace.

“My dear young ferriends,” said the venerable captain, at length, taking
advantage of an opening in the conversation to express his feelings, “it
is with feelings of no ordinary deskeription that I now address you.
We have sailed over the briny and billowy main far and wide, and have
encountered parls and dangers more’n any ordinary people, but never have
we been in such a position, or reduced to such extremities, as in these
last few days. And now look at us. Here we air. What kind of an abode is
this? Is it a ship? Scacely. Is it a island? Not quite. It’s enchanted
gerround! Here we air, an we’ve been led by the kind hand of Providence
to this secluded spot in the midst of the wide waste of waters. We come
here in a state of starvation, with our minds in a kine of despair;
we come here, and we found, as it were, a table spread for us in
the wilderness. So far, so good; and I know, my dear young Christian
ferriends, you all rejice with me, and feel as I do, full of gladness
and gerratitood. But secondly, my dear ferriends,” continued the
captain, insensibly increasing his tone and manner to a sermonizing
intensity, “there air things about this here craft, that begin to occur
to my mind, that go beyond the present fleetin moment, and interweave
themselves with our footoor destiny. I ain’t a goin to say jest now what
these things air, but I want, fust and foremost, to browse round, and
inspect, and cogitate, and meditate, till I kin hit on some kind of a
plan for workin out what I want. I’ll tell you when I get it all thought
out, but for the present I am dumb.”

After this very mysterious conclusion, Captain Corbet rose and left the
cabin. For the remainder of the day he kept by himself. He wandered
all over the ship, and inspected every part most carefully. Then he
retreated to the quarter-deck, and, seating himself there, lost himself
in his own absorbing thoughts. What he was thinking about the boys did
not know, nor did any of them inquire; for they were all far too much
taken up with the novelty of the situation to pay any attention to him.

Meanwhile Solomon had followed the commands of Bruce, and had taken
himself off to the cook’s galley. There, two hours afterwards, on
leaving the cabin, the boys found him. He had that expression on his
face, and had installed himself in that particular attitude, which might
have belonged to one who had lived and labored here for years. He had
eaten a huge repast, and was meditating over a roaring fire.

“Hurrah, Solomon,” said Bart, who was the first to visit him. “How goes
it, my prince of darkies? This is a little ahead of the Antelope--isn’t
it? Now you can begin to live again; and I tell you what, you’ll find
enough stuff aft there to give us a first-rate bill of fare every day,
and different every time.”

Solomon jumped up with a grin..

“Is de dinna oba, Mas’r Bart?” he asked.

“O, yes.”

“Well, den, I mus go aft an clar away de tings, and spect for myself, to
see what we got roun us in dis yer craft. I been a tryin to cogitate an
contrive for suppa, but I can’t manage it nohow till I know zacly what I
got to put my ole hands un. I s’pose you’ll take all de tings aboard de
Antelope right away?

“Aboard the Antelope? Indeed, we don’t intend to do anything of the
kind.”

“Why, what are you a goin to do?”

“Do? Why, we’ll stay here for ever so long. It’s a kind of desert
island, you know--only it’s ten times better.”

The rest of the boys now came streaming forward, wandering all over
the ship. Solomon went to the cabin, while Bart and Bruce proceeded to
examine the mattresses. These were very much dryer than they had been,
but still were so damp that several of them would require two or three
days to become fit to sleep on. Others, however, were already nearly fit
for use. Bart noticed that the wet ones came from the port side of the
ship, and he remembered that the state-rooms on that side were much
damper than those on the other. Water seemed to have penetrated there.
He accounted for this on the supposition that this had been the leeward
side in a gale, and, when the ship was filling, it had lain low down,
and had received the washings of the waves. Fortunately, the storeroom
and the pantry were on the other side, and thus their contents
had escaped without injury. But the wet mattresses themselves were
afterwards taken in hand by Solomon, who opened them, and dried their
contents partly in front of the galley stove and partly in the open air.
To assist in this process he kindled a roaring fire in the cabin, which
served a double purpose, for it not only dried the mattresses but it
also dried the cabin itself, and drove away the last vestige of dampness
from the state-rooms on the port side.

While busy in one of these, Bart saw a bottle lying on the floor. It
was corked. On taking it up, he held it to the light to see what liquid
might be inside. To his surprise he saw no liquid, but some folded
paper. With a loud cry he rushed forth upon deck, displaying his bottle,
and calling upon all the boys to come.

In a few moments the eager boys had all collected around Bart, and even
Captain Corbet was roused from his abstraction, and came to the centre
of interest.

“Has any one a corkscrew?” asked Bart.

“There’s one in the pantry,” said Bruce.

“I’ll go and get it,” said Phil.

“Pooh!” said Tom; “break the bottle. You’ll never get at the paper if
you don’t.”

“Sure enough,” said Bart; and the next instant he struck the bottle
against an iron belaying-pin, and shivered it to atoms. The paper fell
on the deck.

Bart snatched it up, and opened it. It was a piece of coarse paper, that
looked as though it had been hastily torn from some book. On it some
writing was hurriedly scrawled with a pencil. It was as follows:--

_Ship Petrel, of Liverpool, from Quebec, with timeber. Fog for two
weeks, and violent gales. Lost reckoning. Took an observation last in
lat. 46° 5’ 22”, long. 59° 8’ 2”. Ship waterlogged, on beam-ends, and
going to pieces. Taking to boats.

Henry Hall, Master._

There was another scrawl that seemed intended for a date, but the boys
could not make it out. It looked like “Tuesday, March,” but it might
have been anything else.

Such, then, was the writing. The captain had believed that the ship was
actually going to pieces, and had hurried off evidently in the greatest
possible haste, and had probably thrown into the boats a few of the
barest necessaries of life.

But Bart suggested another theory. It was that the captain had put this
writing in the bottle, and had got it all ready to throw over, when
perhaps a sail had hove in sight, and thus the bottle had been left in
the cabin.

Another theory was, that, in his hurry or panic, he had forgotten all
about the bottle, which had floated about in the cabin, and been left in
one of the state-rooms by the retreating waves.

It was evident to all that the captain, “Henry Hall,” had lost his
head. In his terror he had believed that the ship was “going to pieces;”
 whereas nothing of the sort was going on. She might possibly have been
on her beam-ends, since he said so, but even here his fears might have
exaggerated the danger. Captain Corbet thought that she had been struck
over on her beam-ends, and held down by her sails, and, when these were
torn away, she had eventually righted herself.

“That thar skipper,” said he, sententiously, “was frikened out of his
seven senses, and fancied the craft was brakin up. So he rushed to the
boats, chucked in a bag of biscuit and a few bottles of water, and rowed
away for his life.”

Captain Corbet paused for a moment, and looked at the boys with a very
singular expression on his face.

“And now,” said he, “my dear young friends, do you know what you air and
what you’ve ben an gone an done?”

“What?” asked Bruce, in some surprise at the captain’s tone and manner.

“Wal, only this--you’re salvors.”

“Salvors!” repeated Bruce, to whom this word conveyed no meaning in
particular.

“Salvors!” repeated Captain Corbet, impressively. “Yes, you’ve found
this here ship on the broad bosom of the deep, deserted; you’ve took
possession--she’s yours.”

“Well, what of that?” said Bruce. “For that matter, she belongs to all
of us.”

“She belongs to all them that bear a hand to bring her into port.”

“Into port!” cried Bart, in great surprise.

“Yes, into port,” said Captain Corbet. “That thar was the very fust idee
that entered into my head as I sot foot on this here deck. This noble
ship, this valable cargo,--is this to be given up, or surrendered to the
tender mussies of the pitiless and ragin ocean? Not if I knows it. If
we can manage to navigate this here craft into port, she’s ours! We can
sell her. We can sell her cargo. It’s a val’able cargo. It’ll give each
of us enough, if the proceeds air divided, to set us up for life. For
my part, I’m an old man, with one foot in the grave; but I never forget
that I am a feyther, and never did the parential heart beat more wildly
than it did at the identical moment when this thought came like fire
into my brain. That’s so.”

“But how in the world can we get her into port?” cried Bart, in
astonishment and excitement.

“Wal,” said Captain Corbet, “that thar’s the very identical pint that
I’ve been a cogitatin over the hull arternoon. I’ve gone about this here
craft on all sides, an I’ve sot an surveyed her from a distance.
I’ve shot my eyes an meditated her all over. But thar’s one grand and
overpeowerin obstacle in the way to a fair navigation, and that is, she
hasn’t got a rag of a sail except that jib.”

“‘So what can we do?” said Bruce. “We can’t get her to move an inch
without sails.”

“Couldn’t we rig up the sails of the Antelope?” asked Tom.

Captain Corbet shook his head mildly.

“’Tain’t possible,” said he, “no how. Fust an foremost, the spread
of canvas on the schewner ain’t over an above sufficient to fetch her
along, and on this here ship it wouldn’t be a succumstance. Why, this
here ship is a thousand tonner, an more too. Besides,” added the
venerable captain, with mild suggestiveness, “the canvas of the Antelope
_might_ be stronger.”

This was a statement the truth of which was at once felt and
acknowledged by all the boys.

“Wal,” said Captain Corbet, “there ain’t no use doin things up in a
hurry--not a mite. We’ve got to deliberate, cogitate, turn it all over
in our minds, and be precious keerful how we decide. There’s a good deal
at stake, and this here hour may be a goin to make or mar our fortins. I
intend to brood over it this night, an p’aps by mornin I’ll see my way.
The only trouble is,” he added, in a pensive tone, “that I don’t quite
know how I can ever see my way to navigatin this here vessel without
sails.”

“Perhaps we can drift to some place,” suggested Phil.

Captain Corbet looked at Phil for a few moments with mild astonishment.

“Have you ever tried driftin, young sir?” he asked, at length.

“No,” said Phil, “except with you, in the Antelope.”

“Yea, and in the Bay of Fundy. Now, if this was only the Bay of Fundy,
I’d feel at home. In that thar bay I’d ventoor to cal’late the exact
point to which this here ship would drift. But this ain’t the Bay of
Fundy, and, what’s more, I don’t understand the currents of these here
waters,--more’s the pity, bein as I’m a pilgerrim an a stranger. As to
driftin, why, we’ll drift, course, as long as we’re aboard; but where we
may drift to it would take a man with a head as long as a horse to tell.
Why, we might drift to Portygal, and that, I think, wouldn’t quite meet
the voos of any of us. I’ve knowed, or leastways I’ve heerd tell of
ships that’s gone all the way over to Portygal, partly driftin, partly
by the wind a blowin of ‘em. But this here ship I want to indooce to go
to some home port,--and how to do that is the puzzle that now occoopies
this bewildered brain.”

With these words the captain gently passed away from the group of
boys, leaving them to think over and to talk over this new and exciting
project. It was in conversation about this and about the message in the
bottle, that they occupied themselves till bedtime.

That night they concluded to sleep in their old quarters on board the
Antelope, as the beds and bedding in the cabin of the Petrel were not
dry enough to satisfy the mind of Captain Corbet.



VIII.

_Solomon in his Glory.--The Breakfast a splendid Success.--Out of
Starvation and into the Land of Plenty.--Removal of Lodgings.--The
Question of Salvage.--An important Debate.--To go or not to
go.--Dropping Anchor.--The final Departure.--Corbet bids a fond
Farewell.--Alone in the Water-logged Ship._


IT was late on the following morning when they awoke. The effect
of fatigue and excitement, together with perfect peace of mind, all
conspired to make their sleep sound and refreshing. Solomon alone was
up early; but it was nine o’clock before they sat down to the sumptuous
breakfast which he had prepared in the cabin of the Petrel.

Solomon had found himself in command of a very well appointed larder,
and he showed no inclination to spare it. He seemed to be endeavoring
to make amends for his enforced idleness of the past few days by
extraordinary activity and fruitfulness of invention in the culinary
department. There was no lack of anything which the ship could supply;
nay? there was even more than any of the boys had expected, for, to the
amazement of all, they saw on the table before them several dishes
of hot rolls; for Solomon had discovered among the ship’s stores some
barrels of flour, and had at once made a raid upon these. He laid before
them coffee, tea, hot rolls, delicious fish-balls, broiled ham, stewed
tomatoes, baked potatoes, with a variety of potted meats, prepared in
manifold ways by his skilful hand.

The breakfast was a splendid success. It made all of them more delighted
than ever with their situation. In fact, about that situation there was
now an air of luxury; and the first determination of all of them was
to move, bag and baggage, on board the Petrel, and live there. Solomon
assured them that before the next evening all the bedding would be
so dry that the most delicate invalid might sleep upon any one of the
mattresses without fear. The boys, therefore, made their decision at
once. They determined to take up their lodgings on board the Petrel, and
proceeded to select state-rooms. As there was some difference in these
apartments, they decided that the fairest way would be to draw lots.
Captain Corbet positively refused to leave the Antelope, and so did
Wade; so the boys had it all to themselves. Pat and Phil drew the
best room (the captain’s); Bart and Tom drew the next best, which was
apparently the mate’s; while Bruce and Arthur had the choice of any
one out of the four remaining ones. All, however, were sufficiently
comfortable to satisfy the most exacting, and none of the party had any
cause to find fault with the result. Then followed the removal of their
simple baggage, after which the boys began to “fix up” their respective
state-rooms with as much care and labor as though they proposed spending
the rest of the summer on board.

These preparations did not take up much time; and before long they
were all out on deck inspecting the bedding, and examining how far the
various mattresses were prepared for being restored to their places. But
it was decided to leave all these for the day, until Solomon should be
ready to make the beds.

It was a beautiful day. The sky was without a cloud, blue and glorious.
The sun shone down warmly and brilliantly. There was a gentle breeze,
which tossed up the water into wavelets without making much motion, a
breeze which was sufficient for the tranquil movement of some pleasure
yacht, and not strong enough to excite any fear. There was a freshness
in the atmosphere which was most exhilarating. The air was clear and
transparent. Wide around lay the waste of waters, upon which not a
single sail was visible.

Solomon cleared away the table, and then relapsed into the galley. The
boys gathered into a little group upon the quarter-deck. To them thus
assembled appeared the form of the venerable Corbet, a smile on his
lips, a glance of benignity in his eyes.

“It’s all about this here salvage,” he began, somewhat abruptly. “You
see, boys, I’ve ben a thinkin an a dreamin, asleep an awake, all night
long, an my pinion is more an more that we hadn’t ort, none of us, to
lose this present blessed chance, if we can possibly make anythin out of
it. I’ve ben a cal’latin the valoo of this here ship an cargo. Now, this
here ship must have cost at least fifteen thousand pounds. Of course she
ain’t wuth that much now, an I can’t tell what she is wuth till I know
what damage she’s received. At any rate, she’s wuth a good deal. As for
her cargo, why, that’s jest as good as the day it was put inside of her.
Timber ain’t like grain or cotton; it don’t spile. Here, then, we have a
couple of thousand tons or so of fust-rate white pine timber, wuth lots
of money, and we have this ship, wuth thousands of pounds. Why, boys, at
the smallest cal’lation, the proceeds of the sale of this here ship and
cargo would amount to over a thousand pounds apiece for every one of us,
includin Solomon.

“’Tain’t myself I’m a thinkin on,” resumed the captain, after a pause,
in a tone of mild melancholy, and with a pensive sigh; “’tain’t myself
at all. I’m old, sere, an yaller. I don’t want money; I got enough for
all my needs and pupposes. But it’s the babby, dear boys, the babby.
That thar infant is the true cause of my present wanderin life. He
drives me to the ocean wave when I might be toastin my shins in front of
my own stove. I want to airn somethin to leave to him when I’m dead
an gone. I got the house an the farm; but I want somethin more for the
infant. All my cares are for him. I don’t want to leave him to the cold
world, to sturruggle an to sturrive. I want to give him a eddication, to
make a man of him an a scholyer, a joy to his parient, and an honor to
his country.

“Wal, now’s the chance. Here we have it thrown into our very hands.
We’ve got it, an all we’ve got to do is to make use of it. Here’s this
here ship an cargo. If we can only get her into some port, it’ll be wuth
over a thousand pounds apiece to every one of us, Solomon included. Each
one of you boys’ll have enough, dear knows, to keep you in pocket-money
all your born days, or to buy you a fine schewner all to yourself.
Solomon’ll have enough to raise him far above the humble attitood of
a ship’s cook; an I will have enough to raise the babby above want, an
rair him to be a gentleman an a scholyer.”

Partly from the idea of getting plenty of pocket-money, partly to help
old Solomon, partly to assist the respected Corbet in acquiring the
means of giving an “eddication” to the “babby,” but more than all
because they were moved by his earnestness, the boys universally chimed
in with his wishes, and urged him most enthusiastically to do all
that he could to save the ship. Captain Corbet listened with his usual
mildness, and then suggested that perhaps there might be some sails
stowed away on board; upon which he at once went off to search for
himself.

His search, however, was not successful. One sail was found, but it was
quite inadequate to the needs of the ship. It really seemed to be, as
the captain asserted, that the Petrel had encountered violent gales, in
which her sails had been lost, and all her spare ones made use of only
to be lost in turn. Certain it was that, though of other things there
was no lack, of sails there was a total want; and the discovery of this
reduced Captain Corbet once more to his former meditative mood.

While Captain Corbet thus meditated, the boys talked over the situation.
If sails were wanted, it seemed to them that the best thing that could
be done would be for some one to go and get them. There was wind enough.
The Magdalen Islands were not far away, and no doubt a sufficient supply
could be obtained there. Some one might remain on board the Petrel. The
question then arose, Who should go and who should stay? As to that there
was no doubt. Every one of the boys determined to stick to the Petrel at
all hazards, and thus Captain Corbet himself could go in the Antelope.

It was with words to this effect that Bart broke in upon the musings of
Captain Corbet.

The captain listened to his remarks, and, though he was evidently struck
by them, still there arose in his mind certain scruples, which under the
circumstances were very natural.

“O, no! no, no!” said he; “railly, now, you mustn’t try to persuade me.”

“Why not?”

“O, it would never do!”

“Do? Yes, it would.”

“O, I couldn’t bring myself to leave youns! Who could tell what might
happen!”

“Nonsense! Are we babies? Can’t we take care of ourselves? Of course we
can! We’ve been in far worse situations than this. Think of what we’ve
all gone through at different times! Think in particular of Tom and
Phil, what they’ve gone through! Are we the fellows that could meet with
any harm if you were to leave us?”

“Yes, you air; it’s jest that,” said Captain Corbet. “You’ve all got
a natral-born, innate talent for gettin into difficulties. You don’t
caitch me lettin you go out of my sight.”

“Nonsense!” said Bart. “See here, now, captain. There isn’t and there
can’t be the slightest danger. It’s all safe. We’ll be as safe here
as if we were on an island. This ship? can never sink. Why, I know all
about these timber ships. My father owned one that got waterlogged just
like this, in the middle of winter, in the Atlantic, and in the course
of several tremendous gales she was blown over, to Europe. Mind you, she
couldn’t sink. She got into Liverpool, and was broken up there, and her
cargo was sold for the benefit of the underwriters. Captain Beyea, who
commanded her, told me all about it. Of course at this season of the
year we’re all right, for there’s no likelihood of any storms; and
besides, you’ll only be gone a few days.”

Captain Corbet did not answer for some time.

“O, boys,” he said, at length, in a hesitating way, “if you only could!
If I only dar’d!”

“If we only could?” said Bruce. “Why, captain, you don’t seem to know
us! You think that we’re a parcel of helpless children.”

“I only wish,” said Tom, “that I may never have anything worse to do
than to stay in a place like this--a floating palace, where we feed on
the fat of the land. When I think of Ilee Haute, I consider this a sort
of Paradise.”

“I think I have known worse places,” said Phil. “I could tell you of
a burning forest, in comparison with which every other situation
isn’t worth being mentioned. Why, boys, this is going to be a sort of
picnic--a pleasure party.”

“Captain,” said Arthur, “we are all settled here now. Each of us has his
state-room. We’ve got plenty of provisions. We’ve made up our minds to
spend a couple of weeks here at least. So you may as well knock under.
While we’re aboard, it will be much better for you to go off, and try to
get some sails, than to wander up and down, moping, day after day, with
the Antelope alongside doing nothing.”

“Sure, an it’s meself,” said Pat, “that would be willing to sail off in
the Antelope single-handed, if Captain Corbet is afraid, only I’ll want
one man to give a hand in navigatin, so I will.”

“O, two could easily sail the Antelope,” said Bruce.

“And what shall Solomon do?” asked Arthur.

“Do?” said Bart. “Why, he’ll stay with us. What could we do without
Solomon? We need him here more than anywhere else. Without him our life
here would become flat and insipid. I could do the cooking once; but as
a general thing, I should beg to be excused. Without Solomon we should
not be able to eat.”

‘“Yes, yes,” said Captain Corbet, meditatively. “Thar’s no trouble about
me an Wade navigatin the Antelope. We don’t want Solomon. He’ll be best
here with youns. If I could only leave you--”

“But that’s already settled,” said Bart, decisively. “You are going to
leave us.”

“Wal,” said Captain Corbet, “here we air, some-whar nigh onto fifty mile
north of the Magdalen Islands. I steered doo north; an I don’t think
we’ve made much of a muve since the calm began. Now, my idee is, that
if we were to drop anchor here, this here craft would stay till I come
back, an I know I could find her easy.”

“Drop anchor? Of course,” said Bart. “I didn’t think of that. In fact,
this was my only trouble--the possibility of drifting from this place.
But if we were to drop anchor, why, of course it stands to reason that
we shouldn’t move from this place; and so, of course, you could find us
again, as you say, without any difficulty.”

“Her anchors air all right,” said Captain Corbet. “I’ve seen em. There’s
sixty fathom of chain if there’s an inch.”

“Well, come now. We’d better drop anchor at once,” said Bart.

“You tempt me, boys,” said Captain Corbet, with evident emotion. “You
tempt me awful. I feel as though I hadn’t ought to go; but you’ve got a
kind of a sort of a way of puttin things that makes it seem all so safe,
an pleasant, an easy like that I’ve half a mind to resk it, an go off at
all hazards. For there’s so much at stake! My babby! He pulls even now
at my paternal heart-strings! His voice, even now, is a soundin in my
aged ear! ‘Father,’ he seems to say, ‘go off, an hurry up with them thar
sails.’ An then,” continued the captain, after a pause, everything seems
favorable. The breeze is fair; the sea is calm; the sky is blue; an I’ll
only be gone a couple of days at the farthest. ’Tain’t likely there’ll
be another calm. The wind is fair for the Magdalen Islands. There’s
provisions enough aboard here for months: An, as you say, there railly
ain’t any danger.

“You’re quite right, Bart. This here ship can never sink. Her timber
cargo’ll keep her afloat till dumesday, an, what’s more, it’ll hold her
together. An I’ve so much at stake! The babby! His fortune may now be
made. It needs only one bold stroke, an all is done. Then we have the
ship for our own, an the cargo, an we’ll sell em both, an divide the
proceeds. It’ll be more’n a thousand pounds apiece, an the babby’ll be
independent. He can receive a college eddication; he can grow up to be
a gentleman an a scholyer; an he’ll live to bless the memory of the aged
parient who now doos violence to his own conscience for the sake of the
footor interests of his offspring. Yes, yes, it must be done. An, boys,
I rayther guess, on the whole, that p’aps I’d best go, as you say.”

The decision of the captain thus announced was received with acclamation
by the boys, and these marks of approval served to drive away the last
vestige of hesitation from Captain Corbet’s mind.

“Wal,” said he, “if we’re goin to do it, we’d best do it as soon as
possible. So, fust an foremost, we’d best let go the anchor.”

Calling Wade, the captain then went forward, followed by all the boys.

The anchor was let go.

Rattle, rattle, rattle went chain and windlass, and at length the anchor
stopped.

“That’ll hold, I guess,” said the captain, “Now you’re hard an fast. Now
I’ll know where to find you. You’re no longer aboard a ship. You’re on
a fixed and immovable spot,--an island of the sea,--an here you’ll stay
patient and quiet till I come back.”

These remarks the boys heard with the utmost placidity, and accepted
them as absolute fact.. They had flung themselves headlong into this
somewhat dangerous project, and were now more eager than ever for its
successful completion.

After letting go the anchor, the next thing was to prepare the Antelope
for her trip.

“We’re out of provisions, boys, over there,” said the captain, “as you
may, perhaps, be aware, an we’ll have to make a re-qui-sition on you. We
don’t want much; none o’ yer potted meats an chicken-fixins; none o’ yer
luxoories an sweetmeats. All we want is a modest supply of good honest
biscuit, with a little pork, a ham or two, an a pinch of sugar, an a
drawin o’ tea. Wade an me, we don’t go in for scientific cookery; we
only want somethin to chaw at odd times.”

They now proceeded to transfer to the Antelope a sufficient supply of
food. All the boys lent a hand. A dozen hams, a barrel of pork, a barrel
of beef, and six barrels of ship bread were put on board the schooner,
in spite of the remonstrances of the captain, who assured them that they
only wanted a tenth part of all these stores. But the boys would not be
balked in their hospitable intentions.

At length the stores were all on board the Antelope, and nothing more
remained to be done. The last moment had come. Captain Corbet was deeply
affected, and seemed inclined to change his mind, after all, and stay.
But the boys were eager in urging him off. So the good captain allowed
himself to be persuaded against his better reason, and he and Wade got
on board the Antelope, and the lines were cast off.

The sails of the schooner were hoisted, and the breeze filled them,
moving the schooner slowly away.

Captain Corbet stood at the stern of the Antelope, holding the tiller.
His face was turned towards the boys, who stood in a group on the
quarter-deck of the Petrel. He seemed melancholy and miserable.

“Boys,” said he, in a tremulous voice, “dear boys, take care of
yourselves.”

“All right,” cried Bart, cheerily.

The Antelope moved farther off.

Captain Corbet stood looking at the ship, and his face had an expression
of despair. At times he called out to them; but the Antelope moved
farther and farther off every minute, and at length his voice could no
longer be heard.

It was evening when the Antelope left. In about an hour she was lost to
view.

The boys were alone on the ship.



IX.

_Corbet at the Helm.--Visions by Night.--The Vis-ion of sudden Wealth.--
Over the Waters.--The Ocean Isles.--A startling and unwelcome
Sight.--Landing of Corbet.--Corbet among the Moun-seers.--Unpleasant
Intelligence.--An unwelcome Visitor.--A sharp Inquisition.--Corbet in
a Corner.--Answers of Guile and Simplicity.--Perplexity of Cross
examiner._


THUS the Antelope passed away from the eyes of the boys, and vanished
into the shades of night. The breeze was light, and Corbet stood at the
helm, shaping his course for the Magdalen Islands. The first feeling
of uneasiness which he had experienced on leaving ‘the boys in so very
peculiar, perhaps dangerous, a situation, had passed away with the
boys themselves, and his thoughts now turned on other things. He was
virtually alone. Wade indeed, was on board, but the captain had sent
him below to sleep, so that he might be able to relieve him and take his
turn at midnight.

Thus alone at the helm, Captain Corbet looked out over the silent sea,
and up into the starry sky, and lost himself in peaceful meditations.
But his thoughts were not concerned with sea or sky. Other and dearer
subjects gave them occupation. It was his “babby” that occupied his
mind; that babby for whose sake he had deserted the boys, and left them
alone in mid ocean. He was going to make a fortune for his son. He was
going to take measures for securing the wrecked ship, so as to bring her
into some port, sell her, and divide the proceeds.

Night, and solitude, and silence are ever the best promoters of
meditation, and Captain Corbet’s fancy was stimulated and quickened by
his present surroundings. In thought he went all over the Petrel.
He examined her hull; he considered her cargo; he made light of her
injuries--He concluded that a very small sum might make her once more
seaworthy, and he thought that fifteen thousand pounds might be easily
obtained for her. Then as to her cargo; that he knew must be perfectly
free from injury. He tried to estimate the number of tons; then he
multiplied these by the price per ton, so as to get at the value of the
entire cargo. Then he added this to the value of the ship, and allowed
his mind to play freely around the aggregate. It was a sum of dazzling
proportions--a sum far greater than he had been able to make after the
hard toil and persevering efforts of many laborious years! And all this
he was now about to achieve by one stroke. It was to be the work of a
few days. It was to be for the good of the “babby.”

Here another theme attracted the thoughts of the good captain,--the
fondest of all themes,--his infant son. That son would now have
something that would approximate to wealth. All his future would take
tone and flavor from this adventure. The father’s best feelings were
roused, and in fancy he traced the future of his beloved infant. He saw
him pass from long clothes into short clothes, from frocks into jackets,
and from jackets into coats. He followed him in thought from his
mother’s arms to his own legs; from his home to the school; from the
school to the college. He watched him consume the midnight oil for
years, until he at length reached the brilliant end of his educational
goal. Then he portrayed before his mind the form of his son in the
future,--now at the bar pleading, or on the bench judging; now at the
bedside of the sick; now in the pulpit preaching. He listened to the
sermon of the imaginary preacher, and found himself moved to tears.

“Dear, dear!” he murmured to himself; “I’d no idee the little feller’d
be so eliquint. It doos beat all, railly.”

Captain Corbet was really like one who had taken intoxicating liquor, or
opium; and, in fact, he was intoxicated, but the stimulus was no
drink or drug; it was merely his fancy, which had become heated by the
extravagant dream of sudden wealth. Gold produces its own fevers and
deliriums; and the good captain had been seized by one of these. Yet,
after all, let it be remembered that his avarice was not for himself,
but for his child. And as the lone navigator stood at his post under the
midnight sky, in solitude and darkness, heaping up those bright fancies,
out of which he was rearing so stupendous a castle in the air, he was
building, all the while, not for himself, but for another.

Had he left the boys under any other circumstances,--that is, supposing
that he had been capable of so leaving them,--there is no doubt that he
would have been a prey to the most harassing anxiety on their account,
and would have passed a wakeful night, full of mental distress. But now
these new thoughts so occupied him that there was no place for anxiety,
and he went on towards the accomplishment of his purpose as resolutely
as though he had left them all in the safest and pleasantest place in
the world.

Yet the situation in which they were left was one which might have
created anxiety in the breast of even a more unfeeling man than Captain
Corbet--on board a wrecked ship, that lay there in mid sea, with no
means of saving themselves in the event of disaster. It was calm now,
but how long would the calm continue? This breeze, that was wafting
him along so gently and pleasantly, might stiffen, and strengthen, and
intensify itself into a gale; and how would the gale act upon a ship
that was virtually under water? Where could the boys betake themselves
for refuge? How could they avoid the sweep of the surges that a rising
storm would pour over her decks? Where could they find security from the
downfall of the masts, which, in the writhing and twisting ship, must
inevitably fall. A storm might change their foothold into a waste of
boiling foam, and make the masts above as dangerous as the sea below.
Even a moderate wind and a very ordinary rising of the sea might make
their situation one of peril. Of this the boys, in their inexperience,
had taken no thought; but this was the very thing that Captain Corbet
ought to have thought of, and this was the thing that he was destined
to think of afterwards with anguish of soul. But, for the present, not
a thought of this sort came to him. His mind was altogether given up to
the sway of those exciting and alluring fancies which beckoned him away
to imaginary wealth.

Captain Corbet had arranged to call Wade at midnight; but so excited was
he by his dreams and speculations that he took no note of time, and was
at length startled by the coming of the dawn. Then he hurried away, sent
Wade to the helm, and flung himself into his berth.

After a long and profound sleep, which was the natural consequence of
the excitement of the previous night, he awaked. To his surprise he
found that it was about eleven o’clock.

He cast a hasty look around.

His first feeling was one of satisfaction. There, immediately in front
of him, were the Magdalen Islands. His course had been sufficiently
accurate to bring him to his destination. He was near enough now to cast
anchor, and Wade was already moving forward with that intent.

But in that first look that he had given he noticed another thing,
for which he was not prepared, and which detracted somewhat from the
satisfaction that had been caused by the sight of the islands.

He saw a schooner at anchor.

The beautiful outline, the slender, tapering masts, the white spars, and
the immaculate neatness that characterized this schooner, all told him
plainly what she was, and he needed no closer inspection to feel sure
that it was the Fawn.

Now, the sight of the Fawn disturbed the mind of the venerable captain.

He dreaded a meeting with her skipper, Captain Tobias Ferguson.

The Petrel was a prize for those who might be her salvors. To that
fortunate situation he did not wish to admit any others. He wished
merely to procure sails, and then navigate her somehow with the
help that he already had. He knew well, and he dreaded, the keen
inquisitiveness and the active, restless energy of Captain Tobias
Ferguson.

He did not want to meet with him at all. In fact, the very last
person in all the world that he would have chosen to meet with at this
particular time was this very man.

So great was his dread of a meeting, which might ruin all his plans,
that his first impulse was to fly. He cast a hasty look all around. Upon
the beach he saw the boat of the Fawn. Evidently the skipper was ashore.
Upon this discovery he at once acted, and determined to move farther
away. Hastily checking Wade, who was in the act of dropping the anchor,
Captain Corbet wore round, and continued on his former course for a mile
or so. Then, rounding the extremity of the island, he kept on his way
along the shore, anxiously considering what was best to be done.

There were other islands in the group, but this was the one which he
wished to visit, for here only could he hope to find anything like
sails. He had come here for this purpose, and to go away without
accomplishing it was not to be thought of. It now seemed to him that
the best thing for him to do, under the circumstances, would be to land
here, and pursue his investigations in a quiet way about the island,
managing so as to avoid all contact with Captain Ferguson. He therefore
dropped anchor here, and, taking Wade with him, he went ashore.

Once on shore, he went about his search with the utmost diligence, going
from house to house, and making inquiries about sails. But from the
first his task was a roost discouraging one. Every one assured him that
there were no spare sails on the island; all the schooners were away,
and whatever stock any one had he generally kept in his schooner, and
took it with him. This was the information that he got from every one to
whom he applied.

For hour after hour Captain Corbet kept up his fruitless search, dodging
about cautiously, so as to avoid being seen by Captain Ferguson, in case
he might be ashore, and keeping a wary lookout. At length he had visited
every house on the island of any consequence. The only thing that they
could suggest was for him to go to Miramichi, where he would be likely
to obtain what he wanted.

Captain Corbet, in deep dejection, now retraced his steps to the boat.
He thought for a time of applying to Ferguson. But a moment’s reflection
made him give up that idea. He knew that Ferguson would be full of
curiosity; that he would ask him all about the boys; and he feared that
if he got the slightest hint of the facts of the case, he might start
off instantly for the wreck, and thereby forestall him. It does not
follow that Ferguson would really have done this; but this was Captain
Corbet’s belief, and it influenced him, of course, precisely as if the
belief had been well founded.

Having thus dismissed the idea of appealing to Ferguson, it remained for
him to decide what next to do. He did not think of going back. Better to
take Ferguson into his confidence at once. He still clung to his first
hope and his first plan, and, since Miramichi was the nearest place
where he could rely upon finding sails, he began to think about going
there. True, this would take up two or three days more, and the boys
would be left to themselves all that time; but, as he had already
accustomed himself to think of them in their present position as quite
safe, he was able to entertain the thought of leaving them this way
still, longer. He had committed himself too deeply to his plan, he had
gone too far towards its execution, and he had built too largely upon
its successful accomplishment, to be willing to give it up just yet.

And so by the time he reached the boat he had about made up his mind to
start off for Miramichi at once. With this resolve he went back to the
schooner.

The moment that he stepped on deck he was astonished at detecting in
the atmosphere the smell of cigar smoke; and while he was yet standing,
with open mouth and expanded nostrils, inhaling the unwelcome odor, he
was still more unpleasantly surprised at seeing a figure emerge from
the cabin, in whom at one glance he recognized the well-known and
particularly dreaded lineaments of Captain Tobias Ferguson.

His unwelcome visitor held out his hand, and wrung that of Captain
Corbet with affectionate cordiality.

“Didn’t expect to see you back again in these parts so soon. You must
have made a fine run of it, too. How far did you go? Not to the Bay of
Islands--hey? Why, there’s been a reg’lar old-fashioned calm about here,
and this here wind ain’t much to speak of. And how are my young friends,
the ragamuffins?”

“Wal--pooty tol’able,” said Captain Corbet, in a faint voice.

“Hm--glad to hear it. And where was it, did you say, that you went to?”

“O--a--kine o’--genral sort o’ kerrews, like.”

“Hm--and so you left them in the Bay of Islands?”

“Wal--n--n--no--, ’twan’t exactly thereabouts.”

“O--not Anticosti?”

“Wal--n--no,” said Captain Corbet, with an increasing sense of
discomfort.

“Ah, St. Pierre?”

“N--n--n--not exactly.”

“St. Paul’s, then?”

“Wal--‘twan’t St. Paul’s, nuther.”

“O, a kind o’ general cruise, I see; young adventurers, and all that.
But I’m glad you took my advice, and didn’t go to Anticosti. A bad
place. And how do they like Newfoundland?”

“Wal--they--didn’t--quite git to Newfoundland, nuther,” said Captain
Corbet, in a low, faint, hesitating, confused way.

“No, of course not,” said Ferguson, briskly. “Too far away; I said so.
You concluded to go to Gaspe, of course.”

“Wal--n--n--n--no, we didn’t quite get--off--in that thar--de--rection,”
 replied Captain Corbet, who was utterly at a loss how to fight off this
eager and inquisitive questioner. Had the good captain been capable of
telling a lie, his task would have been easier; but he was a truthful
man, and in this case he hardly knew what to do.

“Well, come now,” said Ferguson, “where did you go?”

Captain Corbet started at this point blank question, and was perfectly
dumb.

Ferguson looked at him with keen scrutiny, and then said,--

“You don’t answer. What’s the matter? Has anything happened? Where are
the boys?”

Again the unfortunate Corbet was unable to answer.

“It’s a plain question enough,” said Ferguson, “and you’ve _got_ to
answer it somehow--for I’m going down Nova Scotia way, and may see
some of their parents. So, own up, old man. What have you done with the
boys?”

At this moment a happy thought occurred to the bewildered Corbet. It
came like a ray of light in deep darkness.

“Wal,” said he, “you see, capting--you know--them thar youngsters, you
know--they--they’ve--got up a kine o’ secret society--you know--they
told you--themselves--you know--and they’re all together--you know--and
it’s a matter--of importance--to them--and to me--to--to--to--to keep
the secret, you know. O, I do assure you it’s all right--they’re all
safe an sound--an enjyin life; good quarters, plenty to eat an drink, an
ole Solomon a doin of the cookin--but it’s a great secret, you know--and
so--you see--capting--the fact is--I’d a _leetle_ rayther not let on
where they air jest now.”

Captain Corbet spoke this in a confused way, and in a mild, deprecatory
manner. Ferguson listened attentively to his words, and then stood
looking at him for some time with an air of dissatisfaction.

“Well--old man,” said he, “I do remember some nonsense of theirs about a
secret society; but you haven’t answered my question; you evade it; and
what their secret society has to do with their present situation I don’t
quite begin to make out. The fact is, I don’t consider you a fit
guardian for such boys as they are, and my opinion all along has been
that they’ll all get into mischief. I’m afraid that they’re in some fix
at this particular moment, and that you have left them at the very time
that you ought to be standin by them. If you don’t choose to tell me, I
can’t make you--only I warn you, if the boys air in a fix it’s best to
let me know, for I can go and help them sooner and better than you can.”

“O, but railly, now--now--railly, capting,” said Corbet, with great
earnestness, “I do assure you, honest and honor bright, there ain’t no
difficulty about the boys. They’re all rail happy--tip-top, an no
mistake; as lively as crickets; lots to eat an drink, comfortable beds,
good cookery--all in good spirits and a enjyin of themselves in a way
that would do your heart good to see.”

“Well--but where are they?” persisted Ferguson.

“Wal--now--railly--you know,” said Captain Corbet, “it’s a kine o’
secret--an I’d very much rather not tell--that is--not _jest_ now; now
railly--don’t ask me.”

Ferguson looked at him for a few moments with the same scrutinizing look
that he had already turned upon him.

“Where are you going now?” he asked at length; “back to the boys?”

“Wal--not _jest_ yet,” answered Corbet, after a pause. “The fact is, I
was thinkin a little of takin a turn over Miramichi way--on business. I
won’t belong, and they’ll be all right till I get back from Miramichi.”

“O, the boys’ll have to wait for you, in the place where they now are,
till you get back from Miramichi--so that’s it.”

Ferguson spoke these words slowly and deliberately, with his eyes fixed
on Captain Corbet. The latter looked somewhat uncomfortable, and for a
while said nothing; but at length he murmured,--

“Wal--I s’pose--that’s--about--it.”



X.

_The Baffled Inquisitor.--Corbet’s Flight by Night.--Dead
Beckoning.--His Purpose accomplished.--Once more an unwelcome
Visitor.--The warning Words.--Corbet confident.--“Right straight
back”--The stormy Water.--The gloomy Night and the gloomier Day.--Where
is the Petrel?--Despair of Corbet._


FINDING that Captain Corbet was obstinate in his refusal to tell him
about the boys, Ferguson at length desisted from his inquiries, and
departed from the Antelope, much to the relief of the commander of that
vessel. But, though he had left the Antelope, he had by no means given
up his investigations into the cause of her present voyage. He at once
rowed to the shore, with the intention of finding out from the people
there what had been Corbet’s business among them.

This he had no difficulty whatever in finding out. Corbet had come there
with only one purpose, and this he had made known to every one with whom
he came in contact, as best he could.

He had picked up a man who spoke English, and this man had accompanied
him in his rounds as interpreter. This very man fell into Ferguson’s
way, and from him Ferguson was able to learn that Captain Corbet’s
sole aim in visiting the Magdalen Islands was to obtain some sails. He
learned that the sails, could not be obtained, and also that they had
recommended him to go to Miramichi for them. By this he understood the
reason why Captain Corbet was going to that place.

Now, Ferguson had taken a great fancy to the boys; but the opinion which
he had formed of Captain Corbet and the Antelope was of a very different
kind. That opinion he had been at no pains to conceal. He had, in fact,
expressed it freely and frequently. He had called Captain Corbet an
“old woman,” and the Antelope “a tub.” This opinion he still cherished.
Moreover, he had prophesied solemnly that the boys were more likely than
not to land at the bottom of the sea before their voyage was over, and
this prophecy he still believed in. In fact, the strong regard that he
had conceived for these boys made him feel uneasy about them, and he did
not like to think of them sailing about these seas with such a vessel
and such a commander. The sudden appearance of the Antelope had excited
his apprehensions. He had seen her come in while he was ashore. He had
noticed her manoeuvres. He had watched her as she rounded to and then
stood off again. He had then gone in his boat to watch her, and had seen
her anchor. He had seen Captain Corbet go ashore with Wade. He had
then rowed to her, boarded her, and examined her. The result of this
examination was anything but satisfactory. He could not see any signs
of the boys. All their luggage was gone. What had become of them was
his first thought, and he had waited for the return of Captain Corbet
in deep uneasiness.’ That uneasiness had only been increased when the
captain returned and answered his questions in so evasive a manner.

He had not been prepared for this; the evasive answers of Captain Corbet
irritated him, and awakened his suspicions. The secrecy which he threw
around the movements of the boys was in the highest degree annoying. He
had come hoping to find them on board. Their absence had filled him
with uneasiness. In this state of uneasiness he had waited on board
for hours, fidgeting and fuming; and the end of it all was, that when
Captain Corbet did appear, he refused to answer the simplest questions.

There were several things that troubled and perplexed him to an unusual
and a most unpleasant degree.

First. What had become of the boys? Captain Corbet would not say. He had
asked about every place in which it was possible that they could be, and
had been told, most positively, that they were not there. Anticosti, Bay
of Islands, Newfoundland, St. Pierre, St. Paul’s, Gaspe, all the coasts
surrounding the gulf he had asked after, and he had been told that they
were in none of them. Where, then, could they be? Such secrecy puzzled
and irritated him. Captain Corbet’s story about the secret society did
not deceive him for one instant. He saw through it all. He saw that
Captain Corbet, though incapable of telling a falsehood, was yet willing
to mislead, or to put him on a false track; but, for his part, he was
not the man who could be easily misled or baffled.

Then came the discovery which he had made of the purpose which Captain
Corbet had in visiting the Magdalen Islands. He had come for sails.
Sails! What did he want of sails? What absurd project had he formed? And
what had his search for sails to do with the absence of the boys? Yet,
so great was Captain Corbet’s desire to obtain sails, that he was going
to Miramichi for that very purpose.

Then, again, Ferguson could not forget the way in which Captain Corbet
had come to the Magdalen Islands. He had come--he had appeared for a
moment, as if about to anchor, but then had turned away, and sailed
elsewhere. The whole manoeuvre had looked exactly like a wish to avoid
the Fawn, and it might have been successful, had he not pursued so
closely. Captain Corbet’s appearance also, when he first came on the
deck of the Antelope, and found himself confronted by his visitor, his
start, his look of surprise, his confusion, his hesitation,--all these
things made him seem the more open to suspicion.

Suspicion!

And of what?

Now, Ferguson did not for a moment believe Captain Corbet capable of
wrong. In fact, he looked upon him as an imbecile. Yet, even from that
point of view, his uneasiness about the boys was none the less. These
boys, under the care of an imbecile, seemed to him to be in as great
peril as though their guardian had been a criminal. Where were they now?
Had the folly or the imbecility of their captain drawn them into some
position of danger? They were innocent and inexperienced; he was an
imbecile; all were alike unprepared to encounter the dangers that might
befall them; and from all these causes combined, the boys might now be
in a position of very serious danger, while this incapable guardian was
idly roaming the seas.

The more he thought of all these things, the more uneasy he felt; until,
at length, his fears about the safety of the boys, who had so suddenly
awakened his interest, grew so strong, that he determined to keep
Captain Corbet in sight. Believing that they were in some situation of
possible danger, into which they had been drawn by their own ignorance
and Captain Corbet’s imbecility, and in which they were now left,
Ferguson felt an intolerable anxiety, and so at length came to the
conclusion to follow the Antelope, until some light should be thrown
upon this mystery.

Meanwhile, Captain Corbet, having got rid of his troublesome visitor,
waited patiently until the boat had rounded the projecting promontory
of the island, and then proceeded to continue his voyage. He had already
made up his mind to go to Mirami-chi, and this visit of Ferguson,
together with his sharp inquiries, far from changing his purpose,
had only served to intensify it. He only waited until the boat which
contained his dreaded visitor was out of sight, in order to hurry his
departure. Accordingly the anchor was weighed in the utmost haste, the
sails hoisted, and soon the Antelope set forth on a fresh cruise. The
wind was still light, yet sufficient for his purpose; and he directed
his course around the island, so as to avoid, as far as possible, being
seen by Ferguson. His knowledge of these waters was not very minute, yet
it was sufficient to give him a general idea of his destination, and he
steered the Antelope accordingly.

Evening came, and the Antelope continued on her course. All night long
she traversed the waters, and on the following day approached the New
Brunswick coast. Here Captain Corbet recognized the entrance to the Bay
de Chaleur, and, turning southward, he sailed along the coast towards
the Miramichi River. As he went on, he noticed a sail some miles away;
but to this he paid no attention. It was a common enough thing in these
waters, and there was no reason why he should notice it particularly.
The sail remained in sight all that day; and at length, as he entered
the Miramichi River and sailed up it, the fact that this stranger was
following did not excite any attention on his part.

Three large towns lie on the Miramichi River,--Chatham, Douglastown,
and Newcastle. Of these, two are a few miles from the mouth, on opposite
sides of the stream--Chatham and Douglastown; and the three towns
form together the centre of a great trade in ship-building, and in the
exportation of deals and timber. Here may be found all that appertains
to the outfit of a ship, and here Captain Corbet expected to procure
what he wanted.

It was evening when the Antelope dropped anchor in the river opposite
Chatham. It was then too late to do anything; so Captain Corbet had
to postpone his business until the following day. Pleased with his
prosperous voyage, and pleased still more with the easy way in which he
had got rid of Ferguson, full of hope also in the successful completion
of his business, he retired to bed that night, and slept placidly and
profoundly. The wind that night arose, and blew hard; but the venerable
captain, sunk in slumber, and surrounded by the river shores, heard
nothing of the noise of the storm. Had he been out at sea, he would
doubtless have thought of the boys in the distant ship; but here in the
placid river there was nothing to mar his repose.

On the following morning Captain Corbet went ashore at Chatham, and
began a search after the sails. The search took up some time, but at
length he succeeded in finding what he wanted. He found some sails and
rigging that had been taken from a condemned ship, and were held for
sale. They had not been considered good enough for a ship’s outfit, and
had not only been torn and rent by storms, but also, from having been
kept in a damp warehouse, they were somewhat mildewed. Still they served
Captain Corbet’s purpose as well as brand new ones could have done, and,
in fact, even better, for their damaged condition enabled him to obtain
them at a price which was commensurate with his means. It took some time
to get these all stowed away properly in the Antelope; but at length the
work was satisfactorily accomplished, and Captain Corbet emerged from
the hold, and ascended upon deck, with a smile of serene satisfaction,
and the peaceful consciousness that this had been a well-spent, day.

Thus, with this smile of serenity and this tranquil breast did our
good Captain Corbet emerge from the hold and ascend to the deck of the
Antelope. Scarcely, however, had he set foot thereon, scarcely had he
taken one look around, than the smile on his face faded away utterly,
and the tranquillity of his soul was abruptly ended.

For there, full before him, seated calmly on the rail, with a piece of
soft pine stick in one hand, and a keen jackknife in the other, with
a cigar in his mouth, and a pleasant glance in his eye,--there sat the
dreaded Ferguson, the very man whom Captain Corbet most feared to see,
and whom he believed to be far away at the Magdalen Islands.

Captain Corbet stood rooted to the spot. His jaw dropped. He was
paralyzed.

[Illustration: 0149]

“You made a nice run,” said Ferguson. “A snug place this.”

Captain Corbet did not answer. He was too confused.

“I see you got your sails. I s’pose you didn’t have any trouble.”

These words increased the dismay of Captain Corbet. He thought that this
would be a profound secret. Ferguson now showed that he knew it. He must
have found out about this at the Magdalen Islands. Whether he knew any
more or not, was a troublesome problem. Captain Corbet did not see how
he could possibly know any more, and yet Ferguson had such a knowing
look, that he would not have been surprised at learning that he knew
all.

“I see you’ve got your sails,” said Ferguson, as Captain Corbet did not
answer.

“Yes,” said the other, in a melancholy tone, and with a resigned look.

“It’s pretty difficult to get hold of things of that sort in these
parts, and you were lucky enough to get them so easy. They’ll do for
your purpose, I s’pose.”

“O, yes,” said Captain Corbet, “they’ll do--well enough--considerin;
just as well as if they was new.”

“I s’pose you’re going right back from this?”

“Right back?” repeated Captain Corbet.

“Yes; you don’t intend to go dawdling about any longer--do you?”

“O, no.”

“And you’re going right straight back?”

“O, yes.”

“And when I say right straight back,” continued Ferguson, “I mean, of
course, right straight back to the boys. It’s only the boys I consider.
I feel anxious about them. I consider myself in some sort, just now, as
responsible for their rescue, or, at any rate, for their safety; and,
old man, let me warn you solemnly to be careful what you’re about. Don’t
you go flitting about any longer in this style. Go you right straight
back to where those boys are; if you don’t, there’ll be trouble.”

The tone of Ferguson was earnest and anxious. Captain Corbet looked
distressed.

“O, railly, now,” he said: “see here now; railly I do assure you, sir,
the boys are all right, and all happy--plenty to eat, good quarters, and
old Solomon to cook for them and make their beds. Why, you don’t suppose
I’m made of iron, or that I’d have the heart to leave them in any place
except where they would be safe?”

“I don’t believe you’d leave them in any place that you might think
dangerous, of course; but the trouble is you might leave them somewhere,
not knowing it to be dangerous, while all the time it would be very
dangerous indeed. Have you sailed much about these waters?”

“Wal--n--no, not to say much.”

“Well, I have; and let me tell you, it won’t do to trust to your
judgment where such precious things are concerned as the lives of those
boys. I felt afraid, when I first saw the Antelope without the boys,
that they had fallen into some difficulty through your ignorance or
carelessness, and the moment I spoke to you about it, I felt convinced
of it. It has worried me ever since. I took for granted that you were
going back from the Magdalen Islands, and had no idea that you would
venture so far away from them as this. When I learned your object, and
saw where you were heading, I followed you on purpose to say what I now
say; and that is, Go back, go back, old man, go back to the boys. I feel
sure that they are in danger.”

“But ain’t I going to go back?” cried Captain Corbet, with as much
vexation in his tone as could be showed by one of so amiable a nature.

“I don’t know.”

“Wal, I am, then,--thar.”

“Now?”

“Yes; right away.”

“That’s right,” said Ferguson, standing up and getting over the side
of the Antelope into his own boat; “and one word more: don’t you delay.
Pile on all the sail this old tub’ll carry, and get back to those boys
as soon as you can.”

“O, you needn’t be a mite afeard,” said Captain Corbet, in a confident
tone. “Them thar boys are jest as safe as you and me. They’re not only
safe, but comfortable; yes, comfortable, and jolly, and lively, and
happy, and safe, and sound. All right.”

“Well, well; I only hope it may turn out so,” said Ferguson; and with
these words he rowed away.

Captain Corbet had spoken these last words in a very confident tone;
but, in spite of this, he was by no means so confident as he seemed. In
spite of himself, the warning words of Ferguson had sunk deep into his
soul, and roused very deep anxiety. Now, too, that the great purpose of
his voyage had been achieved, and the sails were actually lying stowed
away in the hold, he had leisure to think of those boys, and of the
situation in which he had left them. He had left them far longer than he
had intended. He had been gone now three days. It might take two days to
get back, and in case of a calm, it might take far longer. The thought
of this filled him with uneasiness.

Ferguson himself, had he been on board, would have commended the
activity with which captain and mate now proceeded to hoist anchor and
sail. In a very short time the Antelope was under way.

Captain Corbet’s uneasiness grew greater. The warnings of Ferguson
started up in his mind, and joined themselves to his recollections of
the ship. He remembered how unwilling he had been to leave them, and
how they had overpersuaded him. He began to lament that he had ever gone
away. The vision of sudden wealth had lost all its charm, and no longer
dazzled his mind.

At length he passed out of the river into the gulf. Ever since he had
started, the wind had been blowing more and more, and at length, on
reaching the open sea, it was quite a gale. All around the waves tossed
up their white caps, and the clouds scudded across the sky. This only
increased the anxiety of the captain, and as he looked out upon the
waste of waters, he trembled for the safety of those who were so
helpless in that half-sunken ship. How would they endure this? For this
he had not been prepared. He could not forgive himself.

All that night he sailed on, full of grief and terror. The wind
increased; the sea rose higher.

The next day came, and wind and sea were yet high. The progress of the
Antelope was very good, and towards evening Captain Corbet reckoned that
he must be approaching the place where the Petrel lay.

But the shades of night came down, and nothing was visible. For a few
hours Captain Corbet sailed on, and at length lay to. This must be the
place, according to his calculations; and on the following morning he
hoped to see the tall masts of the wrecked ship.

The next morning came.

All that night Captain Corbet had paced the deck in sleepless misery.
With the first beam of dawn his eyes sought the horizon, and as the day
grew brighter, he still sought eagerly in all directions.

In vain.

The sun rose. It was broad day.

But upon the face of the waters there was not a sign of the Petrel.

Only one sail was visible, and that was a schooner far away to the west.

Captain Corbet stood terror-struck, and looked all around with a face of
despair.



XI.

_The water-logged Ship.--Alone upon the Waters.--Jolly under
creditable Circumstances.--Old Solomon’s queer Fancies.--He dreads his
Persecutor.--He prefers the Life of Crusoe.--Follow my Leader.--Swimming
in deep Waters.--An important Meeting.--Debates.--Parties
formed.--Molassesites and Sugarites.--Desperate Struggle of Phil, and
melancholy Result._


THE night after Captain Corbet left was spent by the boys without any
incident of an unusual character. At first when they felt them-sleves
thus cut off from all chance of leaving the vessel, there came over
every one a singular sense of loneliness, together with an exhilarating
feeling of independence. Their situation seemed to them like that of
shipwrecked mariners on a desert island, and they all found the part
of Robinson Crusoe a very pleasant one, under the circumstances. Their
lodgings were excellent, their provisions varied and abundant; they had
a cook who was master of his art; and they looked for the return of the
Antelope within twenty-four hours.

Captain Corbet had laid stress upon this; and the only conditions upon
which he consented to tear himself away from them had been, that he
would not go farther than the Magdalen Islands. For he had fully counted
on obtaining there what he needed, and had not made any calculations
with reference to a failure.

That first evening, then, the boys were in high spirits, and
interchanged many jocular remarks about their situation. Solomon
expressed more than usual gratification, and seemed to have a serene
self-satisfaction, which was extraordinary in him. As the shades of
night descended he began to illuminate the cabin. He had found some oil,
and had filled the lamp which hung immediately under the skylight. It
was a large one, with four argand burners, and threw a brilliant lustre
over the scene. Beneath this bright glow the boys sat at the evening
repast, spread by the hands of Solomon, where they found the usual
variety of dishes, and also not a few of quite a novel and original
character. To play the part of Robinson Crusoe under such circumstances
as these was not at all unpleasant.

Among all the boys, then, there prevailed a spirit of joyousness, and
old Solomon’s mood was certainly not out of accord with that of his
young companions. For Bart found him alone in his solitary galley,
rubbing his thighs in front of a roasting fire, and chuckling audibly to
himself.

“Tell ye what, Massa Bart,” was his exclamation as he looked up at his
smiling visitor, “dis yer am high ole times, an no mistake; dis yer ole
nigger habn’t felt so happy an habn’t had sich a strornary feelin of
skewrity, ebber since he was your age. Let dat dar Ant’lope keep way’s
long ebber she kin. I don want to see her again. I want to take up
my bode in dis yer galley, and bid farewell to ebery feah, an wipe my
weepin eyes.”

“Well, that’s a curious fancy too,” said Bart, in some surprise. “You
don’t mean to say that you’d like to live here.”

“Would so; dat dar’s _jest_ wat I mean, an it’s wat’d zactly suit dis
yer ole man, an no mistake now--would so.”

“Well,” said Bart, sympathetically, “it’s not a bad place just now, as
long as the weather’s fine, though how it might be in case of a blow, I
confess I have my suspicions.”

“O, you nebber mind de blow. Dar’s blows dat are a heap wuss dan de
wind. How would you like blows on yer head, an backbone, an ribs, from
a broomstick, or a shobbel, or a stick ob cord-wood, or a red-hot iron
poker? Dem’s blows as is blows, mind I tell you! Tell you what, when you
come to git blows, like dat ar, you’ll begin to hab a realizin sense ob
what blows is possible for to be.”

“Why, Solomon, how very feelingly you speak!”

“Feelinly! Ony wait till you’ve felt ober your head an shoulders what
she’s giben me.”

“She? Who?”

Solomon gave a groan.

“You know her. You--saw her at Loch--Lomond.”

“What, your wife! O, I understand;” and a light began to dawn upon Bart.

Solomon shuddered. The remembrance was too much for him.

“Dis yer’s de fust time I’ve felt real safe for ebber so long; and here
I am real safe. She can’t git at me here no how. She can’t imagine where
I am no how.”

“Pooh! nonsense, Solomon! Haven’t you been safe enough ever since you
left St. John?”

“No, sah! Safe! Why, dar’s not a moment ob de day dat I don’t fancy
dat ar woman’s arter me--on my back. I knows it. Tell you what, she’s
a comin to fetch me. I knows it. I feel it in my bones, and dat ar’s a
feelin dat’s wuss dan de rheumatics. ’Tis so!”

“But what a rdiculous fancy!” said Bart. “Do you really mean to say that
you believe she will come after you?”

“Do so. No doubt bout dat ar, Mas’r Bart. She’s a comin jest as shuah’s
you’re born. An I habn’t felt real safe’ till now. Here I’m all right.”

“But suppose she does come?”

“Wal, s’pposin.”

“What can she do to you?”

“Do! Lots ob tings. She can come and lib whar I lib, an hamma away all
day an all night on my ole head wid broomsticks an pokers.”

“But what makes you let her?”

“Let her? Wat can I do bout it?”

“Why, the law’ll protect you.”

“Be law sakes, chile! Don’t you know de law can’t ’tect husbands agin
wives? It’ll only ’tect wives agin husbands. My pinion is, dat de
law’s clean in fabor ob de women, an de men hain’t got no chance--not a
mite.”

At this new view of the law Bart was somewhat nonplussed.

“O, well,” said he, “I don’t believe she’ll ever trouble you again.
You’ll go back to the academy, and Dr. Porter’ll take care of you.”

Solomon shook his head.

“Tell you what,” said he; “fifty millium Docta Porta’s couldn’t do
anythin agin dat ar woman if she come to fetch me. De ’cadmy ain’t no
place for me. Don’t think you’ll eber catch me back dar. Ise boun to be
a rober; an I’ll sail de sea, so as to prebent her from eber a gittin on
my track.”

“O, nonsense!” said Bart. “You’ll come with us, and it’ll be all right.”

Solomon shook his head, and relapsed into silence.

And now it became time to prepare for bed. Solomon had already arranged
the state-rooms and made the beds. Thanks to their assiduous care, the
rooms and the bedding were all quite dry and very inviting.

It was a beautiful night. There was a gentle breeze, which made a slight
ripple on the water, but there was not enough to raise a sea. There was
a slight motion on the ship, as she slowly rose and fell to the long
and gentle undulations; but the motion was scarcely perceptible, and
certainly did not interfere in the slightest degree with the comfort
of those on board. It was about ten o’clock when they retired for the
night. They went to the different rooms which had fallen to their
lot. The excitement of the day and of the evening, the long fatigues,
together with the exhaustion arising from former privations, all
conspired to make their sleep this night very profound as well as very
refreshing. Solomon sat till midnight toasting his shins in front of the
galley fire, and meditating about the strange vicissitudes of life which
had brought across his path that being whom he so justly feared. But
Solomon’s thoughts gradually became intermingled with the confused
fancies of the land of Nod; and at length awaking with a start, he
rubbed his sleepy eyes, and carried his aged frame somewhere “for’ard.”
 None of the party awoke until late on the following day. Then, on
opening their eyes, their nostrils were greeted with savory odors that
were wafted from the cabin, which served to show them that Solomon, at
least, had not overslept himself, but that he was up and doing, and that
he had prepared everything that might be needed to fortify them for the
cares and trials of a new day. For the savory odors that were wafted to
their nostrils were multifarious, and among them each boy, before he had
made up his mind to rise, and while he was still enjoying that luxurious
doze that follows the awakening from sleep, could have enumerated, had
he felt inclined, the strong, rich aroma of coffee, the pungent odor
of broiled ham, the gentler steam of distilling tea, the appetizing
atmosphere shed forth from hot rolls, together with a confused medley of
others equally attractive, though less definable. .

A rush upon deck to breathe the glorious air, and to look upon the scene
around, followed. The view was most enlivening. Far and wide around them
extended the deep blue water, whereon not a sail was visible. Overhead
hung the azure vault of heaven, with not a cloud in all its wide
expanse. The wind was light, and blew at intervals, nor had it increased
since the night before. They took their morning bath on deck in the
cool, refreshing salt water, dipped out fresh from the sea. Pat improved
on this, for he undressed himself again, and plunged into the sea,
where he swam about, and called on the others to follow. His example was
infectious, and soon the whole party were floundering and gamboling in
the water, like a shoal of porpoises, beside the ship.

The bath was a most refreshing one, and added to the zest with which
they attacked their breakfast. When, at length, this repast was
finished, they once more came forth to the deck like giants refreshed,
and began to make plans for passing the time. For their active young
natures, filled to overflowing with animal spirits, some lively exercise
was needed. This they found in an exploring tour among the rigging. Bart
went first, and then the others. Each one tried to venture farther than
the others. Thus it soon became a game--the well-known one often played
at sea in fine weather called “follow my leader.”

Bart’s training in a seaport town gave him an advantage over the others,
even though some of them were stronger, and others more active than he.
But he had all through his boyhood been familiar with ships, and had
ventured time and again to every part. There was no height so dizzy
but that he had sought it out and familiarized himself with it. Bart,
therefore, on the present occasion easily surpassed the others in
feats of daring, and ventured where none of the others could follow.
Singularly enough, it was Phil who came nearest to him. His light,
lithe, slender, yet sinewy frame made him as nimble as a kitten in the
rigging, and if he had only had Bart’s practice and familiarity, he
would have decidedly surpassed him. Phil came near enough to Bart to
elicit the admiration and the applause of all. Next to Phil came Pat,
who was very sinewy and active. Bruce and Arthur were about equal, while
Tom, who, though very strong, was somewhat slow and a little awkward,
lingered in the rear. This exciting sport served to occupy several of
the hours of that summer morning.

But at length they had exhausted the utmost resources of even so
fascinating a game as “follow my leader,” and they once more came down
to the common level of every-day life, when they proceeded to debate
the great question what next to do. A swim about the ship served to
settle this question until dinner time, after which the important
subject of dinner remained under discussion long enough to consume a few
more hours.

After dinner none of them felt very much inclined to take any active
exertion, and they distributed themselves about in various ways. At
length Bart suggested a regatta, which was at once adopted. Not having
books to read, or anything else in particular to attend to, it was not
surprising that they should take with much excitement to a sport which,
though perhaps decidedly childish, is yet not without its attractions
to the unoccupied mind. The plan was for each boy to make a boat, put it
over the side, and see which one of the little fleet would beat. These
boats were at first made of paper. But paper was soon found inadequate,
and wood was resorted to. These wooden boats were long and sharp, and
sailed with a speed which excited the warmest interest. At length Bart
proposed a new kind.

Finding a piece of iron hoop, he broke it into short fragments, and
sticking this underneath a wooden boat, so that it might act as ballast,
keel, and rudder all in one, he produced a little vessel that would sail
with the wind abeam, and carry an astonishing amount of canvas. Soon a
fleet of these little vessels was formed, and the regatta went on with
fresh excitement.

At length a bright thought struck Phil, which, on being suggested to the
other boys, at once caused all interest in the regatta to be eclipsed by
the stronger attraction of this new idea.

It was nothing less than to make candy.

About this there was a double attraction, for, first, the candy was of
value in itself, and secondly, the process of cooking it would, afford
an occupation at once charming and exciting.

There was sugar on board, both brown and white, and also molasses. The
choice among these was the subject of a prolonged debate; but at length,
on being put to the vote, it was found that the Molassesites were, in
a triumphant majority. Upon this the White Sugarites and the Brown
Sugarites waved their objections, and the vote became a unanimous one.

Another debate took place upon the appointment of a cook, which was
terminated by a resolve to ballot for one. The result of the balloting
was the unanimous election of Phil to that important and responsible
post. This was nothing more than was right, and it was a handsome
tribute to Phil for being the originator of the whole scheme. Phil, on
being informed of his election, responded in a neat speech, which was
greeted with loud applause.

A motion was then made that a deputation be sent to Solomon, requesting
him to vacate the cook’s galley for a few hours, so that the new purpose
of the assembly might be carried into successful accomplishment.
This motion was carried, and the deputation was chosen by ballot. The
deputies were Bart, chairman, Bruce, Arthur, Tom, and Pat.

Upon the departure of these on their mission, the whole assemblage
consisted of Phil. Though alone, he contrived to represent the
assemblage with as much dignity as possible, for he laid himself down
flat on the deck, and distributed his arms and legs in all directions,
so that he might occupy as much space as possible.

The deputation at length returned, and announced to the assembly that
their mission had been successful, and that Solomon had kindly consented
to give up to them the cook’s galley for the required time and purpose.

Upon this the assembly moved, seconded, and carried unanimously a
resolution that the report of the deputation be adopted.

Upon this an adjournment took place _sine die_, and the meeting retired
to the scene of labor.

About a gallon of molasses was procured. This was poured into an iron
pot, and Phil stationed himself at his post in the galley. The fire
was supplied with fresh fuel, and soon the liquid began to boil. Phil
stirred away like a good fellow, and the liquid began to froth up. Phil
tried to keep it down, so that it might not boil over. For some time
there was a desperate struggle between Phil and the molasses. The boys
stood crowding around, watching that struggle with intense interest and
keen excitement. None of them offered to make a suggestion, for it was
felt that any offer of advice would be derogatory to the dignity of
Phil’s office.

So the struggle went on.

It grew fiercer and fiercer every moment.

Now the molasses rose up in wrath and fury, and seemed about to rush
forth from its iron prison.

Now Phil, summoning all his energy, dealt a series of destructive blows
at his furious enemy, and laid him low for a time.

So went the struggle. Now the molasses gained, now Phil.

But all the time the molasses was increasing in fury.

The boys stood about. They formed themselves into two parties, one
embracing the cause of the molasses, the other that of Phil. Cheer after
cheer arose as one or the other saw its cause in the ascendant.

Phil grew weaker and fainter.

At length he tried to make a flank attack, and tore open the stove doors
so as to lessen the draught.

The movement failed.

Scarce had he torn open the doors than the molasses, rising in its
wrath, rushed forth, streamed over, and poured out in resistless
strength, driving Phil himself back from the clouds of hot steam that
arose.

Phil fled vanquished from the galley.

The molasses had conquered!

Wild cheers arose from the Molassesites.

At length, when the smoke and steam had subsided, Phil ventured back.
There was a boiling, foaming mass still in the pot; but on lifting it
off the stove, and allowing it to subside for a moment, it was found
that not more than a quart was left.

“Sure, an here’s some lovely flavorin I found,” said Pat, “in the
pantry. It’ll make a good flavorin to the candy, so it will.”

He held forth a small vial to Phil, which was labelled,--

_Extract of Lemon._

Phil thought it would be an improvement, and so poured the whole
contents of the vial into the boiling molasses.

His task was soon over, and the candy was taken off, and poured into
dishes to cool. There was only a little, but it was hoped that this
might suffice for the present.

At length they ventured to taste it. But the first taste excited one
universal cry of execration. The taste was of rancid oil, and not by
any means the smooth, sweet, delicious lemon-flavored molasses candy for
which they had waited so long. In bitter disappointment and vexation,
Phil seized the vial which Pat had handed him. He smelt it; he poured
some of the last drops out on his hand, and touched it.

“Boys,” said he, with a rueful look, “the steward of the Petrel must
have taken a lemon bottle to keep his hair-oil in.”

And all the boys retired from the cook’s galley with a mournful smile.



XII.

_Ingenuity of Tom and Phil.--Checkers and Chess.--Speculations as to
the Future.--Melancholy Forebodings.--Where is the Antelope?--A Change
of Weather.--Solemn Preparations by Solomon.--Making ready for
the Worst.--The Place of Retreat.--Laying in a Stock of
Provisions.--Pitching a Tent.--Reconnaissance in Force.--A midnight
Alarm.--Horror of Solomon.--A haunted Ship.--Sleepers awakened.--They go
to lay the Ghost.--Forth into the Night._


THE boys thus succeeded in filling the day with sufficient incidents
to occupy their thoughts. It was not an unpleasant day; indeed, it was
afterwards looked back upon by all of them as one of the marked days
in their lives. True, most of the molasses had been lost, and the
remainder, which had been turned into candy, had not been recommended
to their palates by the addition of the hair-oil of the steward of the
Petrel; but to active-minded boys these little disappointments caused
no trouble whatever; on the contrary, they only furnished material
for endless jests and laughter. The conclusion of the whole affair was
reached when the party once more formed themselves into a meeting, at
which it was moved, seconded, and unanimously voted, “that the thanks of
this meeting be conveyed to Solomon for his generous loan of the cook’s
galley.”

After this, Tom, who always was remarkably fruitful in devices,
conceived the idea of making a checker-board. He was able to do this
without any very great difficulty. He obtained the head of a flour
barrel, and with some soot and water he was able to mark out the squares
very well indeed. He then obtained the covers of some red herring boxes,
which he cut up into the checker pieces, blackening them with soot. He
then challenged Bruce to a game. Bruce played, and won; but, as at the
end of that time Bruce, who had chosen the black men, found his fingers
and face all covered with soot, and his fingers, moreover, smelling most
abominably of stale red herring, his victory did not seem to give him
that satisfaction which it might be supposed to have caused.

Fired by Tom’s example, Phil undertook a more ambitious task, which was
nothing less than to make a set of chess-men. He went about the pantry,
and succeeded in finding a number of corks, which he attempted to cut
into the required shapes. His knife, however, was rather dull, and he
himself was not particularly skilful at carving; so that when the pieces
were completed, it required a great effort of the imagination to see the
connection between the corks and the pieces which they were supposed
to represent, and a still greater effort of memory to retain the
recollection of such resemblance. He challenged Bart to a game, and the
two attempted to play; but, after a dozen moves, attended by a dozen
disputes, the game resolved itself into an insoluble problem as to
whether a certain piece, belonging to Phil, was a pawn or a queen. All
present took part in the discussion, but, after a long debate, it was
left undecided; and so the game broke down.

After tea they adjourned to the quarter-deck. Here all was pleasant, and
soothing, and agreeable. A gentle breeze still blew as before, and the
prospect of this tranquil weather continued. The boys sang, and told
stories, and chatted for hours. They speculated much as to the time when
the Antelope might be expected back again. Some thought that she might
be back by the evening of the next day, but others were inclined to
allow her a longer time.

“For my part,” said Bart, “I think well have to allow about three
days--one day to go to the Magdalen Islands, one day to hunt up the
sails, and one day to come back.”

“O, he needn’t be so long as that,” said Phil. “I should think he could
get to the Magdalen Islands in far less time. They can’t be over fifty
miles away, and this breeze would take him there in fifteen hours or
so. He left here at about six yesterday; he probably got there at
about twelve to-day. He could hunt all over the islands before dark at
farthest; and, of course, he’ll come straight back after he gets the
sails. He probably left there this evening at sundown, and he may be
here to-morrow.”

“O, I don’t know,” said Bruce. “I dare say he did leave this evening to
come back; but, mind you, my boy, this wind’s against him. He’ll have to
tack coming back, and the Antelope isn’t much at that. I don’t believe
he’ll do it by to-morrow.”

“Three days, I think, will have to be allowed,” said Arthur.

“Well, three days ought to do it at the farthest,” said Tom. “He
certainly won’t wait at the Magdalen Islands. The only thing that’ll
keep him’ll be the head winds.”

“Sure, an’ for my part,” said Pat, “he may stay three weeks, if he
likes. This place is over an over again betther than the Antelope.”

“O, I don’t know,” said Bart. “It’s all very well while the wind
is this way, but if an easterly or southerly wind should come up, it
wouldn’t be so comfortable. A heavy sea would roll through and through
the cabin, and we’d have to live, and eat, and sleep up here.”

“Sure, an ayvin that wouldn’t be so bad.”

“Well, if it were to rain at the same time,” said Bruce, “it might be
a little damp up here; and I’m afraid we wouldn’t have quite so good a
table.”

“I only hope that the Antelope’ll get back before it begins to blow,”
 said Tom.

“Yes,” said Bart, “it’s all very well in fine weather; for I’d rather
be on board here than in the Antelope; but if the weather is going to
change, I’d a precious sight rather have the Antelope within hail.”

“O, well,” said Phil, cheerily, “there’s no sign of a blow just yet, at
any rate; so I suppose we needn’t talk about that. I’ve no doubt this
weather’ll hold on for a day or so longer, and by that time, at the
farthest, the Antelope will be here.”

“If the Antelope were really in sight,” said Bart, “I don’t believe I
should give one thought to the weather; but the fact that she is away
makes the subject a very important one. This head wind may detain her,
and if it were to blow hard, it would be bad for us.”

“Well,” said Bruce, “I believe that if it did blow hard, the wind would
change; and in that case, it would be all the more favorable for the
Antelope, and, of course, bring her here all the faster. So, at the
worst, our hardships couldn’t last more than a few hours.”

“There’s a good deal in that,” said Bart; “I didn’t think of it before.”

Such were their speculations as to the Antelope; but all these, together
with all apprehensions of danger, and all fears about the change of
weather, were soon forgotten in a sound and refreshing sleep.

The next morning came, and their conversation of the previous night made
every one think of the Antelope. On going upon deck, their first thought
was of her. But of the Antelope there was not a sign, nor was any sail
visible whatever. Little did they imagine that at that moment, instead
of steering his bark back to them, Captain Corbet was sailing away from
them, and directing his course to Miramichi. But the weather was fine,
and the breeze was still mild; and so, after one glance around, they all
dismissed the subject.

Breakfast, and morning occupations, and games, and swimming, and various
other pastimes, took up the interval until midday, when dinner came to
engage their attention.

On going upon deck after dinner, they noticed a change in the appearance
of sea and sky. Clouds were visible on the horizon, and the wind had
shifted. It was blowing from another quarter. It had been north-east. It
was now south-east. It was also a little stronger than it had been, and
created more than a ripple on the water. The surface of the sea was now
agitated, and the halcyon times of calm had passed. The boys noted all
these things at one glance.

“It’s going to be rough,” said Bart. “The wind has changed, and it’s
going to blow.”

“Well,” said Bruce, “let it blow. It’ll be fair for the Antelope, and
fetch her up all the faster.”

“It’s an ill wind that blows no good,” said Tom, quietly.

“Let her rip,” said Phil.

The boys were not by any means inclined to borrow trouble, and so they
soon drove away these thoughts, and began to get up amusements of the
old sort. They ransacked the cabin, they peered into places heretofore
neglected. Nothing, however, of any particular interest rewarded their
searches. So the afternoon passed away.

The tea table was set. Solomon did his best. All praised the repast,
as something of a superior order. This time Solomon did not kindle, and
glow, and chuckle at the praises of his young friends, but preserved a
demeanor of unchangeable gravity.

As they sat at table, they all noticed a slight motion in the vessel,
which would not have been regarded under ordinary circumstances, but
which now, in their very peculiar situation, excited comment.

“The wind is increasing,” said Arthur.

“I dare say we’ll have a blow to-night,” said Bart.

“If there’s much more motion, we must expect to get a ducking,” said
Tom.

“Any way,” said Phil, “my berth’s out of the reach of the water; it’s
the upper one.”

“Sure, thin, an I’ll have to change my berth to an upper one,” said Pat,
“if that’s what ye’re thinkin of.”

“Well,” said Bruce, “it’ll be all the better for the Antelope. The wind
won’t be much, after all. We’ll only feel it because we’re so low in the
water.”

“O, of course,” said Bart; “and if the worst comes to the worst, we can
go to the quarterdeck.”

The change in their prospects, however, did not in the slightest degree
affect the appetite of the boys; but, on the contrary, they exhibited a
greater devotion than ordinary to this repast, as though they were all
under the impression that this might be the last one which they were to
eat under such luxurious circumstances.

This impression, if it did exist, was confirmed after tea, when they
went out upon deck. Solomon was there, grave and preoccupied.

“Chilen,” said he, in a mild voice, “we mus get some ’visium up dis
yar ebenin on to dat ar quarter-deck. I ben a riggin some tackle to
hist up some barls ob biscuit. Dar’s water up dar already, two barls, an
dat’ll be nuff for de present. You’ll all hab to len a han, an hist up
biscuit barls; an you can fotch up as many oder tings as you can lay yer
hans on.”

“O, let’s wait till to-morrow,” said Tom.

“No, no; bes be in time,” said Solomon. “It’s a gwine to blow dis yer
night, an we’ve got to work so as to hab all tings ready.”

None of the boys were surprised at this; so they all prepared to lend a
hand at the work. This was, as Solomon said, to hoist up some barrels
of biscuit. These they rolled out from the store-room, and hoisted up to
the quarter-deck. They then lashed them round the mizzenmast securely.
Two stout seamen’s chests were then brought up, being first emptied of
their contents, and into these the boys packed an assortment of such
articles of food as might be desirable in the event of a prolonged
stay on the quarter-deck, such as two hams, which Solomon, with wise
forethought, had boiled, cheese, potted meats, knives, forks, mustard,
butter, salt, &c.

They now felt prepared to some extent for the worst; but the question
still remained, how they were to procure shelter in the event of rain.
A diligent search resulted in the discovery of several tarpaulins. These
they hung over the boom, securing the ends on each side to the deck in
such a way that a tent was formed, which was spacious enough to shelter
them all in case of need, and quite impervious to water. In the middle
of this tent rose the skylight, which might serve for a table, or even
a sleeping-place, in case of need. Upon the top of this they spread some
mattresses and blankets.

“Dar,” said Solomon, “dat ar’s de best dat we can do; an if dis yer
wind’s boun to rise, an dis yer vessel’s decks get a swimmin wid water,
we’ll be able to hab a dry place to lib in.”

“Well, I don’t believe we’ll have to use it,” said Tom; “but there’s
nothing like having things ready.”

“O, we’ll sleep all the sounder for this,” said Bart.

“There’s nothing like knowing that we’ve got a place to run to, if the
worst comes to the worst.”

“And then, even if the sea does wash over the decks,” said Phil, “all
we’ve got to do is, to take off our shoes and stockings, roll up our
trousers, and meander about barefoot.”

“Sure, an there’s a good deal to be said in favor of goin barefoot,”
 remarked Pat.

“O, well,” said Bruce, “it’ll only be for a little while; for I’ve no
doubt that the Antelope’ll be along some time to-morrow.”

“At any rate, we can get our sleep this night in our beds,” said Arthur.
“I’m going to my old crib, and I mean to sleep there, too, till I’m
washed out of it.”

“And so will I,” said Bart.

“And I,” said Tom.

“And I,” said Phil.

“And sure an meself will do that same too,” said Pat.

“Of course,” said Bruce; “we’d be great fools not to sleep there as long
as we can.”

The wind had increased a little, but not much, and the motion of the
ship was, after all, but slight.

It was rather the prospect before them than the present reality that had
led to these preparations.

Two or three hours passed, and ten o’clock came. By that time the wind
had increased to a fresh, strong breeze, and the sea had risen into
moderate waves. The motion of the ship had grown to be a slow, regular
rise and fall of about two feet. On walking to the bows, they saw that
at every rise and fall the water came in through the scupper-holes and
flowed over the deck.

“Well, there it comes,” said Tom; “but for my part, I persist in
refusing to believe that it’ll be anything of consequence. I don’t
believe it’ll get into the cabin. As to the deck here, a thorough
washing’ll do it good. I was thinking to-day that it needed one.”

“O, it’ll not be much,” said Phil.

“Sure an where’s the harrum,” said Pat, “if it does come into the cabin,
so long as we’re high up in our berths, out of reach?”

“Solomon’ll have trouble in cooking to-morrow,” said Bart.

“Then we’ll feed on biscuit,” said Arthur. “A few days ago we’d have
been glad enough to be where we are now.”

“That’s true,” said Bruce; “and, besides, tomorrow the Antelope’ll
be almost sure to be here. This wind’s fair, and as I’ve always said,
what’s bad for us in one way is best for us in another, for-it’ll bring
the Antelope along all the faster.”

In this way they all made light of the change that had taken place; and,
turning away, they all went to the cabin and retired to their respective
berths. The lamp under the skylight was burning brightly, the cabin had
its usual cheerful appearance, and the comforts here served still more
to make them overlook the troubles outside.

So they all went to bed.

For a few hours they slept.

Then they were awakened by a cry--a wild, wailing cry, a cry of terror
and of despair. Every one started up at once. The cry came again from
the cabin.

“O, chilen, we’re lost! we’re done for! we’re ru-i-na-ted for ebbemo!”

“Hallo, Solomon!” cried Bart. “What are you making all that row about?”

And as he said this he jumped out of his berth. As he entered the cabin
one glance reassured him partially. The lamps were burning; they had
allowed them to burn for this night; the floor was dry. Everything
had the same air of comfort which had prevailed when they retired. The
motion of the ship was certainly greater, perhaps even much greater; but
under any other circumstances it would not have been noticed. This
much Bart saw first; and then he noticed a figure bowed over the table,
sighing and groaning. It was Solomon. His head was buried in his hands.

“Come,” said Bart, laying his hand on Solomon’s shoulder. “What’s the
matter? What’s upset you so?”

Solomon raised his head and grasped Bart’s arm convulsively in both of
his hands.

“Dar’s ghosts about!”

“Ghosts?

“Yes, Mas’r Bart; d-d-d-dars g-g-ghosts a-b-b-b-bout,” said Solomon,
with a shudder and with chattering teeth.

“Pooh! nonsense! What do you mean?” asked Bart.

By this time all the other boys were out in the cabin. They had all gone
to bed with their clothes on, and stood now wide awake and prepared for
any emergency. They all stared fixedly at Solomon, expecting to hear
some dreadful disclosure. They had never before seen him so completely
upset.

“Dar’s g-g-ghosts a-b-b-b-b-b-b-oard,” said Solomon. “I went to bed. I
waked at de row dey made down below, in de hole.”

“What, in the hold?”

“Y-y-yes, Mas’r Bart, in d-d-d-d-e hole ob de ship. It’s a haunted
ship--an--full ob hobgobblums.”

“Pooh!” said Bart, with a sigh of relief; “is that all? Some nightmare
or other. Never mind, old Solomon; it’s all right; we’ll go and lay the
ghosts. You come and show me the place.”

“Darsn’t,” gasped Solomon.

“If you’ll come with us, you know; we’ll all go.”

“D-d-d-arsn’t,” said Solomon again.

“Well, we’ll go, and T think it’ll be better for you to come with us
than to stay here alone,” said Bart. “Come along, boys; let’s find out
what it is. Perhaps something’s the matter.”

With these words he went out.

The other boys followed.

Solomon gave one wild glance around, and then, finding himself forsaken,
and dreading the loneliness, he hurried after the others.



XIII.

_Rushing forth at the Alarm of Solomon.--The rolling Waters.--The
flooded Decks.--Strange, uneartlily Noises.--Dread Fears.--is the Ship
breaking up?--Consolations.--Refuge in the Cabin.--A Barricade
against the Waters.--A damp Abode.--A Debate.--Where shall we pass
the Night?--Solomon on Guards--The fourth Day.--No Antelope.--A long
Watch.--The Cabin deserted.--Sleeping on Deck._


AT the alarm of Solomon, the boys thus all hurried out upon deck. The
night was dark. The sky was overcast. The motion of the ship was greater
than it had been. As they stepped out, they felt their feet plash in a
stream of water that rolled towards them, and perceived by this that the
waves had risen high enough to break over the low-lying deck. But it
was only enough to wet the deck, and not enough to cause either alarm
or even discomfort, since it had not penetrated to the cabin. As they
advanced forward, however, they encountered deeper streams of water,
which swept down from the bows towards them, rising as high as their
ankles. Yet even this excited but little attention. Solomon’s alarm had
prepared them all for something serious, and so slight a thing as this
was not deemed worthy of notice. They hurried on, therefore, and at
length having reached the forecastle, they stood and looked all around.

The motion of the vessel would have been considered very ordinary in
any one differently situated. The waves had risen somewhat, and at their
motion the ship rose and fell about four feet. This was sufficient to
bring her deck under the surface of the sea, and at each fall the water
streamed in and rolled about. The wind was rather fresh, but not by any
means violent, and it sighed through the rigging overhead.

“Why, Solomon,” said Bart, at length, “what do you mean? I don’t see
that anything’s happened.”

Solomon had been clinging to the outskirts of the party, and at this he.
cried out,--

“Dey ain’t out dar! Dey’s inside.”

“Inside? Where?”

“In dar!” said Solomon, pointing to the door of the forecastle.

At this Bart went in, followed by all the boys. A dim lamp was burning,
suspended from a beam. The boys looked around, and saw the seamen’s
berths, but nothing more.

“There isn’t anything here,” said Bruce.

At that moment Solomon grasped Bart’s arm, and said, with a gasp,--

“Jes’ you listen to ‘em!”

The boys all listened.

As they listened, there arose a confused medley of sounds, which seemed
to come from the hold of the ship--sounds of pounding, thumping, and
grinding, mingled with groanings, gurglings, sobs, choking sighs,
squeals, scrapings, rumblings, tumblings, shiverings, and many others of
an indefinable character. To these the boys all listened in silence,
and for a time there came a solemn feeling of awe over every one of that
little band of listeners.

“D-d-d-dem’s um!” said Solomon, with a shudder. “D-d-d-dem’s d-d-de
g-g-g-ghosts, d-d-d-dem’s d-d-de hobble-bobble-gobblums!”

“Nonsense!” said Bart. “Don’t talk that trash just now. This may be
something serious.”

“The cargo seems moving,” said Bruce. “The leak may be a large one.”

“I dare say she’s got a bad strain,” said Phil.

“It’s very likely,” said Arthur, solemnly, “that she won’t last very
long.”

“That’s my own idea,” said Tom. “Come, boys, we may as well look the
worst in the face. It’s my opinion that she’s breaking up.”

“Well, we’ve got the captain’s gig,” said Pat, “an can take to that, so
we can. We’ve got lots of provisions.”

“But we’ve no oars,” said Bart.

“Well, we can rig up a bit of a sail, so we can, out of thim ould
tarpowlines.”

“After all, though,” said Bruce, “she may not be breaking up. I’ve
heard somewhere that in a water-logged ship the water makes the most
extraordinary noises ever heard whenever there is the slightest motion;
so these may, after all, be nothing more than the usual noises.”

“And besides, what is this sea!” said Bart; “it can’t do anything; it’s
nothing. In fact, the more I think of it, the more sure I feel that
this ship can’t break up, unless she strikes a rock. I remember what sea
captains have told me--that a timber ship may float and drift about for
fifty years, and hold together without any trouble, unless it should
strike a rock or be driven ashore. So now that I think of it, I don’t
believe there’s the slightest danger.”

“But, if that is so, why did the captain of the Petrel desert her? He
must have known this, if it is so.”

This was Tom’s objection, who was not quite inclined to receive Bart’s
assertion.

“Well, I dare say he hadn’t been in the timber trade,” said Bart. “This
was something new for him, and he thought she would go to pieces. That’s
what he wrote in the message that he put in the bottle.”

This conversation had not been lost on Solomon, whose fears, prompted by
superstition, gradually faded away, and finally died out. The true cause
of the terrific noises being thus asserted and accepted by the boys,
there was no difficulty on Solomon’s part about adopting it. Accordingly
he soon regained his ordinary equanimity, and began to potter about the
forecastle, arranging some dishes and pans.

The descent of Solomon from the supernatural to the commonplace had a
good effect upon the boys, who, seeing that he had suddenly lost all his
fears, thought it time to throw aside their own anxieties.

“Well,” said Phil, “I don’t see the use of staying in this dismal
forecastle any longer, when there is a comfortable cabin aft; so I’m
going back to my berth.”

“Sure an it’s meself,” cried Pat, “that was jist goin to say that same.”

“I think it’s about the best thing we can do, boys,” said Bruce.
“There’s no danger just yet, evidently, and so there’s no reason why
we should lose our night’s rest. Let’s sleep while we can, say I, and I
dare say the Antelope’ll be along some time to-morrow.”

Upon this proposal the boys acted forthwith, and soon they were all not
only back again in their berths, but slumbering profoundly. Solomon also
turned in “forard,” and finished his night’s sleep, which, however, was
frequently interrupted by excursions and reconnoitrings which he made
for the purpose of seeing how the weather was.

On the following morning they all awaked early, and hurried upon deck.
This was the third day since the Antelope had left, and by evening
the three days would be completed which they allowed for her probable
absence. There was not one of them who did not go up on deck that
morning with the expectation of seeing her somewhere in the distance.
But on looking around, they saw no sail of any kind. It was with a
feeling of disappointment that they recognized this fact, for, though
thus far they had not encountered any danger, they had, at least, become
aware of the fact that an increase of wind might make their situation
very dangerous indeed.

The wind also had grown stronger, and sang through the rigging in a way
that was anything but music to their ears. The sky was overcast with
rolling clouds. In another vessel they would have called it a fine day,
and a fresh breeze, but to them it became equivalent to a storm. The
waves had risen to a height commensurate with the increase of the wind.
The rise and fall of the ship amounted to about six feet, and at every
other plunge her bows went entirely under water. The deck was now
completely flooded, and Solomon in traversing it was sometimes up to his
knees in the rushing torrent. The fire in the cook’s galley had been put
out, and he had been compelled to transfer his apparatus to the stove in
the cabin.

The quarter-deck astern prevented the sea from coming aboard in that
direction; and by the time the water that rolled over the bows had
reached the cabin doors, it had greatly subsided; yet still enough had
poured into the cabin to saturate it in every nook and corner. A pool
of water filled all the cabin and all the state-rooms to a depth of six
inches, and rolled about with the motion of the ship.

“Well, this isn’t certainly quite as comfortable as it might be,” said
Phil, with a blank look.

“At this rate,” said Tom, “if this, sort of thing keeps on, we’ll have
to launch the boat, and row to the cook’s galley.”

“It’s strange that the Antelope isn’t in sight!” said Arthur, shading
his eyes, and trying to force them to see.

“No use,” said Bart, who had been peering through the glass, and now
handed it to Arthur. “No use. There’s not only no Antelope, but no other
vessel; in fact, there’s not a sign of any sail of any kind whatever.”

At this Arthur, who had already exhausted all the capabilities of
the spy-glass, took it, and began sweeping the entire circuit of the
horizon.

“O, don’t trouble yourselves, boys,” said Bruce. “It isn’t quite time
yet for the Antelope to get here. We allowed her three days. They won’t
be up till evening. Besides, she’s just as likely to be four days; she’s
not over fast. For my part, I don’t intend to look for her to-day at
all. It’s quite possible that a vessel may heave in sight; but I don’t
believe it’ll be the Antelope. And if any vessel does turn up, we can
easily signalize, for I found all the signal-flags of the Petrel in the
closet next my state-room.”

That morning Solomon had to cook the breakfast in the cabin. The boys
all concluded to go about barefoot. The breakfast was cooked, and,
considering all the circumstances, was a great success; but the glory
of the cabin had departed, and it was hardly to be expected that a
breakfast could be thoroughly enjoyable at which one had to sit with
the water playing all about his feet and ankles. Still the boys made the
best of it, and did ample justice to the fare. Solomon still struggled
manfully against the difficulties of his position, and on this occasion
actually furnished them with hot rolls. These, with broiled ham, coffee,
tea, and other things, made a breakfast that was not to be despised.

After breakfast the boys were glad to leave the cabin, and seek the
quarter-deck, which arose like an island out of the water. They began to
look upon this quarter-deck as a place that was likely to become their
home. The sashes of the skylight were kept open and made use of, as
affording a readier means of passing in and out of the cabin. They began
to feel very seriously the restriction of space which had been caused
by the flowing waters, and the charms of the comfortable cabin had never
seemed so great as when they were deprived of them. Formerly they had
been able to lounge in and out, and, above all, to prolong the various
repasts, and thus pass away the time; but now breakfast, dinner, and
tea had to be hurried over as rapidly as possible, and there came the
prospect of final banishment from the cabin altogether.

The sea at midday was somewhat rougher; but Solomon heroically cooked
the dinner in the cabin, although the water was sometimes half way up to
his knees. Measures were now taken to keep the water out. The door was
shut and locked, and in the interstices they fastened oakum. Had
this been done at the first, the cabin might have been saved; but
unfortunately it had been neglected, and now that the water was
in, there was no way of getting it out. Still this was a decided
improvement, and there was comfort in the thought that it could not grow
any worse now, unless it became very bad indeed.

Dinner was served in the cabin, and the boys did justice to it, though
they showed no inclination to linger at the table any longer than was
absolutely necessary.

After dinner they sought the quarter-deck, where they spent the
afternoon. They had now begun to look for the coming of the Antelope
with great impatience, and their anxiety in this respect kept them in a
state of suspense which did not allow them to feel interest in any other
thing. To all of them the time seemed interminable. The spyglass was
passed around a hundred times, and each one on using it seemed reluctant
to give it up. But at every fresh survey of the horizon there was the
same result; and as hour after hour passed, they began to fear that
something might have happened to Captain Corbet.

So the time passed. All the afternoon the wind grew higher, and the
rolling of the vessel increased; still they took tea in the cabin; and
there arose the important question as to where they should sleep.

The opinions varied. Some of them, in view of the fact that the wind
was rather increasing than diminishing, were inclined to desert their
staterooms, and sleep on the quarter-deck, upon the skylight, under the
friendly shelter of the tarpaulin.

Tom advocated this most strongly.

“It’ll be just as comfortable,” said he, “and much less liable to
interruption. Here are our mattresses, all spread out, and roomy enough
for all of us. Here is the tarpaulin hanging over the boom, and making
a first-rate tent. Down in the cabin the water seems to be slowly
increasing, and we’ll be liable to be washed out of our berths before
morning.”

“Yes,” said Phil, who chimed in with Tom, “and what’s worse, if the sea
gets rougher, we’ll be certain to ship some seas astern before morning,
and in that case it’ll come pouring into the cabin through the
skylight.”

“Well, if it does,” said Bruce, “we should get as wet on the skylight as
in the cabin.”

“Yes,” said Arthur, “and we might be washed off into the sea.”

“Sure an we can lash ourselves to the mast, an sleep there,” said Pat.
“That’s what shipwrecked sailors always do.”

“O, there’s all the difference in the world,” said Tom. “If we are
above, we’ll be able to avoid any danger, but down below there we’ll
only be drowned like rats in a hole. For my part, if the sea is coming
in, I should like to be where I can have a chance to swim, at least.”

“O, come now, Tom,” said Bart, “you are putting it too strong
altogether. The wind hasn’t increased very much, and the change has been
very gradual. There’s no likelihood of any sudden change, you know. If
it gets much rougher, we’ll find it out soon enough, and we’ll be able
to get out of the cabin, I should think, before it gets filled with
water. If the ship begins to pitch like that, so as to ship heavy seas
astern, the first one that comes aboard will be enough to wake every
mother’s son of us. I believe in sticking to the cabin as long as we
can. Our berths are as comfortable as ever. The puddle of water about
the floor don’t really amount to much, after all. The door is so tight
now that very little more water can get in; and as to shipping seas over
the stern, I, for my part, don’t believe that there is any danger of
that just yet; not to-night, at any rate.”

“No,” said Bruce. “Just see. After all, there’s been no very great
change since morning. If we were aboard the Antelope, we’d think nothing
of this.”

“But unfortunately,” said Tom, “we’re not aboard the Antelope.”

“O, well,” said Bruce, cheerfully, “we needn’t bother ourselves. We’re
pretty certain to be aboard of her to-morrow, if we choose to go, for by
that time she’s sure to show herself. We allowed her three days, and the
time is up; but we ought to allow one day more in case of unlooked-for
delays. Perhaps Captain Corbet had to wait for the sails, getting them
mended, and all that sort of thing. I don’t think he’d wait more
than one day, at the farthest; so we may look for him tomorrow pretty
confidently. And in the mean time, I’m of Bart’s opinion, and think
that we’d better make ourselves comfortable as long as we can, and
sleep below until we are driven out. I don’t believe we’ll be driven out
to-night, at any rate; and if we are, we’ll have plenty of warning.”

The end of it was, that they all decided to sleep below. Solomon,
however, who had been present at the discussion, informed them that
he would sleep on deck, and keep one eye open. Some remonstrance was
offered, but in vain, and at length this arrangement was entered into.

Fortunately the night passed without any accident. Their sleep was
undisturbed. On waking in the morning, they found not much increase in
the water inside the cabin, but felt that the vessel was pitching about
more than ever, and creaking and groaning in every timber.

Hurrying out on deck, they looked eagerly around. Bruce was up first,
and seizing the spyglass, scanned the whole horizon in the most
searching manner. But not to the eyes of any one, nor to the searching
gaze of Bruce, appeared any sail whatever. Not one word was said. The
disappointment of all amounted almost to dismay for a moment, and their
feelings were too strong for utterance.

All around them the sea arose in foaming billows. Overhead the sky
was covered with clouds that drove onward impetuously. The wind howled
through the rigging; the ‘ship labored and plunged, shipping heavy
seas, and thrusting her bows far under the rolling waves. But the
quarter-deck, as yet, was spared, and rose above the seas like an
island, whereon they could rest.

This day passed like the previous one. They spent the whole time looking
for the Antelope. It was now the fourth day since her departure, and
her delay made all feel uneasy. The cabin was now too uncomfortable for
them, so that they decided to eat their meals on the quarter-deck; but
Solomon cooked their meals in the cabin stove, and struggled heroically
against fate in the effort to afford his young friends the best fare
that could be furnished. .

The day passed slowly.

No Antelope!

Night came.

This time there was no debate about a sleeping-place. No one thought
of going below, and they all stretched their weary frames on the
mattresses, which were laid on the skylight.



XIV.

_A strange Sleeping-place.--The Tent.--The View astern.--Rolling Waters
in Pursuit.--Morning.--Astonishing Discovery.--The solid Land moving
towards the anchored Ship.--How to account for it.--What Land is
this?--Various Theories.--Every one has a different Opinion.--Solomon
driven from the Cabin.--Drawing nearer.--An iron-bound Coast._


THEIR sleep that night was somewhat disturbed, for the novelty of their
position prevented them from having that placidity of mind which is the
best promoter of slumber. At times through the night they awaked, and
were sensible of the rush of waters about the ship’s quarter, and
also of a greater motion of the vessel, accompanied by all manner of
creakings and groan-ings. The tarpaulins hung over them, having been
secured in such a fashion as to form an excellent tent, opening towards
the stern, and closed at the other end by the mizzen-mast and the
barrels of biscuit and other things around it. Through the opening
astern they could see at times, as the ship sunk, the phosphorescent
gleam of foaming billows rolling around them as if about to break over
them. Most of these did dash themselves against the ship, but none fell
upon the quarterdeck; all that the boys felt was the fine spray which
floated under their resting-place, and saturated everything.

None of them, however, attempted to rise and go forth until daybreak.
There was no cause for doing so; their sleeping-place was the most
comfortable now left in the ship, and the scene without had no
attraction strong enough to draw them away. Day dawned, and still there
was some hesitation about getting up.

This day was the fifth since the departure of the Antelope. Their
situation was now quite serious; but they had not yet seen any signs of
Captain Corbet. They looked forward towards seeing him on this day, but
the disappointment of the two previous days made them despondent, and
each one dreaded to look out, for fear that his forebodings might
be confirmed. This was the waking thought of each, and each one also
perceived that this day was worse than any they had known yet. If the
Antelope still kept away, they scarcely knew what to hope for.

At length they went forth, and looked around. All over the sea the
waves were larger, and rougher, and fiercer. The motion of the ship
was greater than ever. It seemed as though the billows, that raced and
chased about in all directions, were hurrying to overwhelm her. The deck
below was all covered with white foam, and at times the bows plunged
so far under water, and remained there so long, and were overwhelmed by
such floods of rolling billows, that it seemed as though the ship would
never again emerge. The quarterdeck was now more than ever like an
island; but every moment lessened its security, and brought it more and
more within reach of the ravenous waves that surged around on all sides.
Such was the sight that met their view, as they took their first look
around.

But for all this they had been prepared during the long night, by all
that they had felt, and heard, and seen; and therefore this did not
affect them so much. It was the long, eager look which they turned
towards the distant sea, the sharp, scrutinizing gaze with which they
swept the horizon, that brought the deepest trouble; for there, over the
wide surface of the waters, not a single sail was visible; and the fifth
day, while it brought fresh calamities, brought no Antelope, and no hope
of relief.

Suddenly Pat gave a loud shout.

“What’s that?” he cried; “what in the wide wurruld is it that I see over
there? Sure it’s draimin I must be.”

All the boys looked in the direction where Pat was pointing.

“It’s land!” cried Bruce, in tones of amazement. .

“Land!”

“Land!”

“Land!” burst from the other boys, who, with inexpressible wonder,
looked at the unaccountable sight, and scarcely were able to believe
what they saw.

Yet it was land--most unmistakably. There it rose, a long, blue line,
apparently about fifteen miles away. It was a rugged shore, and extended
along the horizon for some distance. For such a sight as this they had
not been in the slightest degree prepared; in fact, they would have
expected anything sooner; for how could the land move itself up to their
fast-anchored ship? Yet there was the fact, and before that fact they
were simply confounded.

“I don’t understand it at all,” said Bruce. “If it had been foggy during
the last few days, or even hazy, I could then understand it; but it’s
been particularly bright and clear all the time.”

“I wonder if it can be something like mirage,” said Arthur.

“No,” said Bart. “The mirage never appears, except when the sea is
perfectly still.”

“My opinion is,” said Arthur, “that the ship’s been dragging her anchor,
and has been drifting all these five days; or, at any rate, ever since
the wind rose.”

“Perhaps she has broken loose,” said Tom. “The chain may have had a weak
link. I remember the anchor went down with a tremendous jerk.”

“For my part,” said Phil, “I’m half inclined to believe that the anchor
never got to the bottom. I don’t know how deep the water is in the
middle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, but I remember thinking at the time
that it was a very short chain to reach to the bottom of the sea. I
remember wondering that the gulf was so shallow, but I thought that
Captain Corbet knew what he was about; but now, the more I think of
it, the more sure I feel that Captain Corbet did _not_ know what he
was about, but dropped anchor, and let things slide, after his usual
careless fashion. He confessed, over and over, that he knew nothing at
all about these waters; and he never once took the trouble to sound, or
to try and hunt up a chart. No; he has dropped anchor, and the anchor
has never begun to get near the bottom. The consequence is, we’ve been
drifting along ever since he left us, and are now ever so many miles
away from the place where the anchor was dropped. And, what’s worse, I
dare say the Antelope was back there two days ago; but we were gone, and
so, of course, Captain Corbet’s lost us, and has no more idea where to
look for us than a child.”

Phil’s theory was so plausible, that it was at once accepted by all the
boys. It seemed the most natural way of accounting for everything,--for
the absence of the Antelope, and the appearance of this strange shore.
For a time a deep gloom fell over all, and they stood in silence,
staring at the land.

Out of this gloom Tom was the first to rouse himself.

“I tell you what it is, boys,” said he, at length, “I don’t know that
it’s so bad a thing after all. The more I think of it, the better it
seems. I’d ten times sooner be near some land, as we are now, than be
far away out in the midst of the sea, with nothing to be seen, day after
day, but sky and water. It seems to me that we must be drawing nearer to
the land, and before evening we may be close enough to see what sort
of a country it is. If the worst comes to the worst, we can launch the
boat, and go ashore. It’s a little rough, but, after all, not too rough
for the boat. I’ve been out in an open boat when the water was quite as
rough as this. It seems rough to us, because the ship is water-logged,
and is drifting every way--end on, side on, and so forth.”

“I wonder what land it is,” said Phil.

“If we only knew how the wind has been, we might guess how we have been
drifting,” said Bruce; “but the wind has changed once or twice, and I’ve
never kept any account of it.”

“Sometimes,” said Bart, “it has been blowing from the bows, and
sometimes from the quarter.”

“O, of course, and every other way,” said Arthur; “for the simple reason
that the ship must have been turning about, first one way and then the
other, as she drifted.”

“I’ve got a strong idea,” said Phil, “that this land is Newfoundland.”

“O, no,” said Tom; “my impression is, that it’s Prince Edward’s Island.
For this to be Newfoundland, the wind should have been from the south
or the south-west; but it seems to me that it has been generally from a
northerly direction.”

“I don’t think anything of the kind,” said Bart; “I think it’s been from
a westerly direction, and that this is some part of Nova Scotia or Cape
Breton.”

“Sure, an I agree with Tom,” said Pat, “about the wind, only I don’t
think that this is Prince Edward’s Island; it’s too high--so it is--and
it’s meself that wouldn’t be a bit surprised if it should turrun out to
be the Magdalen Islands after all.”

“O, no,” said Bruce, “it’s too long in extent for the Magdalen Islands.
I think it may be some part of the New Brunswick coast, perhaps
Miramichi,--for it seems to me that the wind has generally come from the
east.”

“So it seems to me,” said Arthur; “but, Bruce, an east wind couldn’t
take us to Miramichi; it would bring us a good distance to the north
of that, from the place where we were. It seems to me that this must be
Gaspé,--and if so, we won’t be very far away from the Bay de Chaleur.”

“Well, well,” cried Pat, with a laugh, “sure it’s the whole surroundin
coasts that we’ve gone over, so it is, an every one of us has put her
in a different place from every one else. One comfort is, that some of
us’ll have to be right, an so I’ll stick, so I will, to the Magdalen
Islands, an if it is, why sure we’re certain of good intertainment, so
we are, ivery one of us.”

“Well, boys,” said Bruce, cheerily, “perhaps, after all, this is about
the best thing that could have happened to us.”

“I don’t see why,” said Tom.

“Why, you know the very reason that Captain Corbet went away was to get
sails to bring this ship to some land. The very thing we all wanted was
to get her to some land. Well, here we’ve been drifting along, and now,
lo and behold! here is the land that we wanted to reach.”

“Yes; but how can we get her to any port? We’ve got no sails, and we
can’t steer her.”

“O, when we get nearer, some pilots or fishermen will come off.”

“Yes; but will they be salvors too?” asked Phil, anxiously.

“Certainly not,” said Bruce, in a lofty tone; “they shall be nothing of
the kind. We’ll hire them to help us bring her into port. We’ll pay them
liberally, of course.”

“Yes,” said Bart, “and we won’t let Captain Corbet’s absence make any
difference. He shall have his share all the same--for his not being here
isn’t his fault.”

“My idea is,” said Arthur, “that we’d better make a contribution, call
it the Corbet Baby Fund, and add it to his share for the sake of old
times, and all that sort of thing.”

“Our profits,” Bruce went on to say, in the same lofty tone, “will
depend very largely upon the sort of place we can bring the ship to. If
this is Miramichi, they ought to be very large,--in fact, the ship’ll
bring as large a price there as anywhere; but if it’s the Magdalen
Islands, why, of course we can’t expect to do quite so well. Still we
ought to do well in almost any case.”

“I should like to know how we can get word to Captain Corbet again,”
 said Arthur. “I’m afraid he’ll feel anxious about us.”

“O, that’s easy enough,” said Bruce. “On landing, we can telegraph to
the Magdalen Islands, and they’ll get word to him somehow.”

“But there isn’t any cable to the Magdalen Islands.”

“Doesn’t the Newfoundland cable pass by there?”

“O, no.”

“O, well, we’ll telegraph to various places, and he’ll be sure to hear
sooner or later.”

“I wonder what’s become of him?” said Phil.

“I dare say he’s cruising about the gulf everywhere, asking every vessel
he meets about us.”

“I only hope, then, he’ll meet with more vessels than we have.”

“It’s a very curious thing that we haven’t seen any vessels.”

“O, I suppose we’ve drifted out of the way of the fishing vessels and
the timber ships. I dare say the fishing vessels keep generally to the
same places, for fishes must be more abundant in some spots than
in others, and, as to the timber ships, they try to keep as much as
possible in one given course.”

“I wonder whether we’re drifting towards that land, or past it.”

“O, well, we didn’t see it yesterday, and we do see it to-day, which
proves that we have drifted towards it during the night; and from this
it follows that we will be likely to continue drifting towards it. When
we get pretty close we must contrive to get some of the fishermen on
the coast to help us; but I don’t suppose there’ll be any trouble about
that. They’ll all come piling on board as soon as they catch sight of
us, and see our situation.”

“I wonder what sort of people they are,” said Phil. “Along some of
these shores they don’t bear the best of characters. Some of the fishing
population are given to wrecking.”

“I don’t believe a word of that,” said Bruce, “and I never did. I dare
say if a ship breaks up they appropriate what they can in a quiet way,
and when the owners appear, they may be rather loath to surrender
their spoil; but wrecking, in its bad sense, is not known here on these
shores. Wrecking, as I understand it, means decoying vessels ashore, and
sometimes murdering the shipwrecked crews. And I never heard of a case
of that kind about these waters.”

“Perhaps,” suggested Bart, “they won’t feel inclined to recognize our
ownership. I confess I don’t feel myself a very strong confidence in our
claim.”

“Why not?” said Bruce.

“O, I don’t know. The claim don’t seem to be a just one; for instance,
now, if the owners were to appear in a steam-tug and hitch on, would you
order them off?”

“Yes, I would,” said Bruce, firmly; “of course I would. I would hire
them to tow our ship and cargo into port, and pay them liberally, of
course; but as to recognizing them as being owners, so long as we, the
salvors, were on board, I would do nothing of the kind. The moment the
captain and crew deserted the Petrel, that moment they lost all claims
to her, on their own account and on account of their employers. The
owners after that must look to the insurance companies, while we gain
the benefits of good fortune and our own boldness.”

Bruce spoke all this in the most cool and confident manner in the world,
and in the same tone as though the Petrel was lying in some safe harbor,
and he and the boys were contemplating her, and considering her from
a cosy nook on the wharf. Yet all the time the ship was pitching, and
tossing, and straining, and the waves boiled around, and the seas rolled
in foam over her deck.

The conversation was at length interrupted by Solomon.

His head and shoulders were projecting from the skylight. He was
standing on the cabin table.

“Ise ben a tryin, chilen,” said he, “an a deav-orin to git up some kine
ob a fire down heah, but I ben an made it six or seben times, an ebery
time de water hab stinguished it. Don know dat dar’s any sort o’ use in
tryin to kin’l it agin, specially as all de kinlin wood’s used up, an
de res ob it is soaked through an through. Pears to me we’ll hab to do
widout de tea an coffee, an drink cole water dis time, unless we can
manage to hist dis yer stove on deck. Only, if we do, it might turn out
to be a leetle mite tottlish.”

“Well, boys,” said Bart, “what do you say? Shall we try and get the
stove on deck, or drink cold water?”

“The stove on deck? O, nonsense!” said Arthur. “What’s the odds if we
don’t have tea and coffee? We’ve got enough to eat; we’ve got a precious
sight better supply than we ever had on board the Antelope--cold boiled
ham, mustard, biscuit, butter, cheese, potted meats, and no end of
things. Bother the stove, I say. Let it slide. What do we want with it
up here? We never could fix it in a tight place.”

This was the decision of all. In fact all saw that any attempt to hoist
up the stove would have been absurd. The ship was pitching and tossing
too much to make such a task practicable.

So Solomon came forth, having been driven from the cabin, as he had
formerly been driven from the cook’s galley; but not for this did he
lose any of his equanimity. He proceeded to lay out the breakfast as
well as he could upon the skylight, piling up the mattresses in a dry
place, and laying the table with a regard rather to use than to show.
He tacitly assumed that under the circumstances the breakfast would be
somewhat informal, and did not think it necessary to risk plates and
cups by putting them where they would be certain to be flung off by
the motion of the ship. The table was therefore rudely spread, but the
eatables were all that could be desired.

After breakfast the day went on, and the boys watched hour after hour
the distant shore. By midday it had grown much more distinct, and they
knew that they were drawing nearer. A few hours after they had drawn
still nearer.

But the nearer they came the less satisfaction did they feel in the
aspect of the land. The most careful examination through the glass
failed to show the slightest sign of life. No houses appeared, no tilled
fields, no pastures even, no clearings of any kind; but a rocky shore,
with a wooded country behind, was all that they could see.

“O, well, boys,” said Bruce, “this is the way it is almost everywhere
around these coasts; but I dare say Miramichi settlement is only a few
miles away, and we may find a fisherman’s hut in some cove close by.”



XV.

_A miserable Day.--Keeping their Courage up.--Solomon unmoved.--The
Cook triumphs over the Man.--A big Wave.--A
Shower-bath.--Helter-skelter.--All in a Heap.--Flight.--The
Rigging.--Solomon ventures his Life for a Ham Bone.--Remarks.--Flight
farther up.--The Mizzen-top.--The Fugitives.--Pat ties himself to
the Mast.--Remonstrances.--Pat is obdurate.--Night, and Storm, and
Darkness._


ALL through that day the sea continued as rough as at first, and the
wind blew as strongly. In the afternoon the wind came up more fiercely,
and far surpassed anything they had experienced since they had boarded
the Petrel. It sang and roared through the rigging, and so great was
its power, that there was a perceptible list in the ship in spite of
the tremendous weight of her cargo and water-logged hull. Soon the
increasing wind stirred up the sea to greater fury, and the ship began
to labor most fearfully. Every hour made it worse; and at length the
whole ship forward seemed to be perpetually submerged, for nothing could
be seen of its deck, and the foaming waves rolled backward and forward,
and boiled, and seethed, and swept resistlessly to and fro. Sometimes
a dozen huge waves in succession broke in thunder on the helpless ship
which lay beneath them, and received these mountain torrents, quivering
and groaning in every plank and beam.

By this time the boys had certainly become accustomed to the creaking
and groaning of the straining ship, but this surpassed all that they
had yet seen, and filled them with awe. They stood there looking at the
scene; the land was now forgotten. It had lost its interest. The feeling
began to arise that perhaps they might never reach those shores, and if
they did turn a glance any longer in that direction, it was solely in
order to measure the intervening distance, and try whether it might be
possible for the ship to reach the shore before going to pieces.

Solomon alone stood unmoved. Faithful to the last, with his one idea,
the performance of his duty, Solomon prepared the evening meal. The cook
triumphed over the man, and professional feeling rose superior to the
frailties of humanity. It was ham that they would have, and biscuit, and
butter. They should have cheese, too, and sardines. Pickles and mustard
should not be wanting. And Solomon laid these on the skylight, one by
one, solemnly and in silence, as though the consciousness was present in
his breast that this meal might be the last on board. Never before had
he arranged a repast more deliberately and more thoughtfully. The table
was set under circumstances which, indeed, required deliberation and
thought. The pitching of the ship was so violent, that it required the
most careful management to induce the things to lie in their places;
and it was only by covering the biscuit with bits of board, that he
succeeded in keeping them to their places. With the ham he had a long
struggle, but finally tied it with rope-yarn to the skylight. As to the
smaller articles, he had to leave them in the chest.

Solomon was just returning for the last time, carrying a piece of cheese
and a box of sardines; the boys were seated on the edge of the skylight,
waiting for the preparations to be completed, when suddenly the stern
of the ship went down, down, down, very much farther than they had ever
known it to descend before. An awful thought seized upon all: the ship
was sinking! Every one started wildly up, clutching at anything that
happened to be nearest, without knowing what they were doing, and
looking fearfully through the opening at the end of their shelter.

It was a terrific sight that appeared in that direction.

There rose a wall of water, black, towering high in wrathful menace,
with its crest boiling in white foam. For a few moments that great
mass hung poised above them; and then, with terrific fury, and with
resistless might, it descended in thunder upon them. For a few moments
all was the blackness of darkness, and the boys struggled despairingly
with the rolling, overwhelming, foaming waters, which swept them
helplessly about. The thought, and the only thought in every mind, was,
that the ship was going down, and with this conviction that the last
hour of life had come, there rose from each a short prayer, gasped out
in that moment of agony.

It seemed ages; but at length the ship slowly struggled up, and the
waters rolled away. For a few moments they all lay where they had been
thrown, heaped up together; and then they struggled to their feet, and
each began to call after the others. To their great joy they found that
they all were there, and that, except a few bruises more or less severe,
no evil had been incurred. But the tarpaulins had been torn from the
fastenings, and blown away by the fury of the wind, and the boys had
been saved from a similar fate only by the quarter-deck rail, against
which they had been flung. To this rail they clung as they rose to their
feet, and for a short time stood clinging there, not knowing what to do.

But from this stupor they were roused by the voice of Solomon.

“Chilen,” said he, “de suppa am ’sposed of, an you got to go widout
it dis bressed night. No use settin de table agin. Don’t pay in dis yer
weather. Anybody dat wants anytin to eat, had bes go to de barl or de
trunk an fish for hisself. Dere all full ob salt water, and dem dat’s
fond ob salt junk can get deir fill.”

None of the boys, however, showed any disposition to eat. This last
wave had destroyed all appetite. It had showed them how the wind had
increased. They had hoped all along that the quarter-deck would be
spared, and that they would be safe there; but now this hope was lost:
where one wave had come, others were sure to follow, and the prospects
for the night were dark and dismal indeed. For the night was before
them. The sun was already going down; the sky looked lowering, and dark,
and menacing; the wind had grown to a gale, and all around the waters
seemed waiting to ingulf them. Once they had wondered why the captain
and crew had fled from the ship; now they understood but too well the
reason of that flight. The idea of salvage seemed now to all of them a
miserable mockery. What would they not have given to have escaped from
this ship to any place of safety? Even the days of famine on board the
Antelope seemed less terrible than the fate that now frowned wrathfully
upon them out of the lowering night.

“It won’t do to stay here,” said Bruce. “Another wave’ll follow. Let’s
get higher up, out of the way.”

“Where can we go?” asked Tom.

“Up in the rigging,” said Bruce. “Come.” Saying this, he climbed up the
mizzen shrouds for a little distance on the windward side. The others
followed. Last of all came Solomon, who took up his station below them
all as though to guard them.


[Illustration: 0006]

There they all clung, and watched with awful eyes the scene below. It
seemed for some time as though they had been premature in deserting
the quarter-deck, for no wave followed that mountain billow which had
precipitated itself upon them. But the recollection of that one wave was
enough; and though its successor came not for some time, still they
all confidently expected it. They knew that it would come before long,
followed by many others, for the sea grew higher every minute, and the
wrath of its waters grew more wild. Forward all was a sea of foam, and
the quarter-deck appeared beneath them like a raft over which they hung
as they clung to the shrouds.

They did not climb far up. They were not more than ten feet above the
deck, having rested at this point, so that they might be out of the
reach of the waves and no more. About their lost repast they did not
think for one moment. That wave which had swept away their supper, had
carried with it all thoughts and all desires concerning it. The only one
who gave it a thought was Solomon, who, even now, was still true to
his professional duties; and seeing the boiled ham lying against the
quarter-deck railing, in the very place where it had been flung, he
leaped down, at the peril of his life, hastily seized it, pitched it
into the trunk, and then clambered back again.

“Boun to skewer dat ar ham dis yer time,” said he, in a soliloquizing
tone. “No use lettin de win an de sea hab it all deir own way, nohow.
Dat ar ham’s too precious to be lost, an I’se boun to’ serve it up yet
for breakfus to-morrow, when de storm goes down. Lucky we didn’t try to
hist up dat ar cabin stove. Jerusalem! wouldn’t it hab spun overboard?
Would so. But it’s down deep ’nough now in de water, for de cabin’s
chock full. Don’t ebber ’member bein so ’sturbed before in all my
cookin ’sperience; an watebbers goin to be de suit ob it all’s more’n
I can tell. Beats all; an dese yer chilen’s all boun to catch deir deff
ob cold.”

At this Solomon raised his head, and looked at each one of the boys in
succession. He saw them all wet to the skin, with the water dripping
from their clothes, and their hands clutching fast the rigging. It was a
painful sight, too painful: he turned away his face, and drops of brine
ran down his face which did not come from the sea.

Suddenly a thunderous sound arose, which made every one look in terror
towards the place from which it came. It was forward. In an instant they
saw it all. Several great waves had fallen there in swift succession,
striking amidships full upon a round-house which stood there, and was
used for the reception of deck cargoes. The force of these blows was
resistless; the structure yielded with a crash, and gave way utterly.
For a moment it was brought up against the ship’s bulwarks, but the
waters poured in underneath, floated it far upward, and tumbled it over
into the sea. There it floated at the mercy of the waves, farther and
farther away, while the raging billows, like hungry wolves, éncompassed
it on every side.

The boys had already felt sufficiently awed by the scene around to be.
hushed into silence, but about this last event there was something
so appalling that they all uttered an involuntary cry, and clung more
closely to the rigging, each one looking at his neighbor with a face of
despair. For the only thought now present to each one was, that the ship
was breaking up, and that utter ruin and destruction was imminent. The
crash of the wave, as it struck the massive structure and tore it away,
was so tremendous that the boys might well have dreaded the worst; and
the sight of it now, as it tossed and tumbled in the boiling floods,
had in it something so terribly suggestive of their own fate, that they
shuddered and turned their eyes away.

But suddenly Solomon’s voice broke the silence.

“Dar,” said he; “dar’s how I knowed it was goin for to be. I bet high on
de cook’s galley. Dem dar round-houses only built for show; dey got no
rail strenf. Now de cook’s galley down dar ain’t goin to gib way dat
fashium; she’s boun to stan, jes like de rock ob Gibberalter, an de
stove too,--dat’s so.”

There was something in Solomon’s tone which was so cool and
matter-of-fact that the others felt a little reassured, and recovered
a little of their former coolness. They saw that the ship was still
holding together, and as the waves rolled back, they saw the smooth
firm deck where the roundhouse had stood, and learned from this that the
round-house did not constitute a portion of the ship, but was merely an
erection on that deck, and therefore to some extent a movable.

But Solomon’s confidence in the cook’s galley was by no means warranted
by facts. Thus far it had been protected to some extent from the sweep
of the waves by the round-house, and the loss of this barrier left it
all exposed to the full fury of the waters. For some time it bore up
gallantly, and as each wave rolled over it, Solomon cheered exultantly,
to see it come forth erect from the rolling torrents. At length,
however, Solomon’s exultant cries grew fainter, and finally ceased
altogether. For the galley was shaking, and quivering, and yielding.
At length one side started, and was beaten out; the rest soon followed,
until all was crushed to fragments, and its separate portion hurled out
upon the angry sea.

“Anyhow,” said Solomon, “dat ar galley held out pooty tough, mind I tell
you; an dar’s de stove yet, as large as life, an it’s goin to take a
good many waves afore they’ll be able to start her. Yes, dat ar stove’s
goin to hold on, mind I tell you; an I’se a goin to bile a kittle ob
water on her yet, you see. Will so.”

Whether Solomon really meant what he said, is an open question. He
may have really believed it all, or, as is most probable, he may have
expressed himself in this way merely for the purpose of giving courage
and confidence to the boys, and preventing them from sinking into
despair. Certain it is that his words had this effect; and seeing that
the loss of the round-house and galley had made no material difference
in the ship herself, they clung to hope, and tried to believe that the
stout hull, with its firm cargo, would ride out the storm.

But by this time the sun had set; and now, in addition to their other
troubles, there was added the dismal prospect of the coming night. Dark,
indeed, would that night be to all of them. Fearful enough was their
position already; but when, in addition to this, they would find the
light of day cut off, and the horror of great darkness all around, what
support could they find for their sinking souls, or what hope of escape?
Already the land was fading out of sight, lost in the gathering shadows
of evening. By the dim twilight they could see that they had drawn much
nearer, and their distance seemed now but a few miles. Thus far they had
regarded the land only with pleasure; now, however, as the night came
down, and the darkness deepened, and the storm increased, they began to
experience other feelings with regard to this dreary shore. That it was
rocky and forbidding they had already seen, nor had they hitherto been
able to detect any part of the coast here which was at all inviting or
favorable to a landing. If in such a storm the ship should be driven
upon such a shore, what could save her from being shattered to pieces?
If in such a darkness they were driven upon those rocks, what could save
them from destruction? Yet towards that unknown shore they were every
moment drawing nearer, and wind and tide seemed alike to urge them
onward towards it.

It was not yet dark, when suddenly a giant wave rose high from
underneath the stern, and hung suspended over the quarter-deck. It was
the counterpart of that wave which had struck them an hour before. For a
few moments it hung, poised and quivering, and then it fell, in thunder,
down. It poured all over the barrels of biscuit that were lashed to
the mizzen-mast, it swept down through the skylight into the cabin, it
rolled in a flood over the deck, and rushed forward, pouring down, and
blending its waters with those that boiled and foamed amidships.

The ship now seemed unable to rise. She seemed to have sunk into some
vortex, and being without anything like buoyancy, the waters held her
fast. Wave after wave rolled in, and poured over the quarter-deck. The
whole ship, from stem to stern, seemed to be one mass of foam. The hull
was lost to sight. They seemed supported by masts that rose out of the
sea. Destruction appeared close at hand. Clinging to the rigging with
death-like tenacity, they could only murmur their prayers of despair to
that mighty unseen Being who holds the waters in the hollow of his hand.

At length, shuddering, and groaning, and trembling in every fibre, like
some living thing, the ship struggled up out of the mass of waters,
and freed herself for a time. The boys could see the quarter-deck.
They could see the barrels lashed to the mizzen-mast still secure.
They breathed more freely. It seemed as though they had received a
reprieve,--as though their despairing cries had been heard and answered.

“Boys,” said Bruce, “we can’t hang here all night. We’ll fall off. Lets
go up higher. There’s room for all of us, I think, in the mizzen-top.
Come.”

With these words he started upward. The rest followed. Solomon went up
last. They all reached the mizzen-top in safety, and, on reaching it,
found that it was spacious enough to afford room for them all.

Here Pat proceeded to possess himself of a line which ran through a
block close by, after which he began to tie himself to the mast.

“What are you up to, Pat?” asked Bart, in some wonder.

“Sure it’s tying meself to the mast, I am, so it is.”

“Tying yourself to the mast?” repeated Bart, in amazement. “What in the
world is that for?”

“What is it for?” said Pat. “Sure and what else is it that people always
do in shipwrecks? It’s the reg’lar thing, so it is.”

“Well, for my part,” said Bart, “I’d rather have my hands free. If this
mast should go over, I’d rather not be fastened to it as tight as that.
You’d better not.”

“Sure an won’t I float ashore on it without any trouble?”

“Yes; only the trouble may be to keep your head above water. Don’t do
it, Pat.”

But Pat was deaf to argument. Slowly, but pertinaciously and securely,
he wound the rope round and round the mast, binding himself to it
tighter at every turn.

“Ye’d best follow my lade,” said Pat. “There’s enough left in this bit
of a line to tie ye’s all fast and firrum, so there is.”

But the others refused. They preferred liberty of action, and did not
like the idea of swathing themselves up like mummies. They wished to be
able occasionally, if possible, to lie down, or sit down, and not remain
all night on their feet.

Thus there they stood in the mizzen-top. And the night came down, and
the darkness gathered deeper and deeper around them. And the storm rose
to its height, and night, and storm, and darkness, in all their terrific
power, environed them as they stood in their giddy perch.



XVI.

_Night, and Storm, and Darkness.--The giddy Perch.--The trembling
Ship.--The quivering Masts.--A Time of Terror.--Silence and
Despair.--A Ray of Hope.--Subsidence of Wind ami Wave.--Descent of the
Boys.--Sufferings of Pat.--In the Mizzen-top.--Vigil of Bart.--The Sound
of the Surf.--The Rift in the Cloud.--Land near.--The white Line of
Breakers.--The black Face of Solomon.--All explained.--The Boat and the
Oars.--The friendly Cove.--Land at last._


NIGHT, and storm, and darkness! There, in their giddy perch in the
mizzen-top, stood that despairing little band. Gradually all the scene
was lost to view in thick darkness. But beneath, the ship tossed and
pitched wildly, groaning and creaking as before, and the big waves beat
in fury on her bows, or fell in thunder on her quarter-deck. Looking
down, they saw the phosphorescent gleam of the boiling waters, which
made all the extent of the ship luminous with a baleful lustre, and wide
over the seas extended the same glow. Well it was for them that they had
sought this place of retreat, or rather that this place of retreat had
been left open to them, for clinging to the rigging would have exhausted
their strength, and through those long hours more than one might have
fallen into the sea. But as it was they could have something like rest,
and, by changing their positions, find relief for their wearied frames.

Yet this place had its own terrors, which were fully equal to any
others. The wind howled fearfully through the rigging, and as the ship
pitched and tossed, the mast strained and quivered in unison. Often and
often it seemed to them that the strained mast would suddenly snap and
go over the side, or, if not, that in its violent jerks it might hurl
them all over to destruction. More than once they thought of guarding
against this last danger by following Pat’s example, and binding
themselves to the rigging; but they were deterred from this by the
fear of the mast falling, in which case they, too, would be helpless.
Fortunate it was for them that there were no sails. These had long since
been rent away; but had they been here now, or had the wind taken any
stronger hold of the masts, they must have gone by the board.

Often and often, as some larger wave than usual struck the ship, the
feeling came that all was over, and that now, at last, her break-up was
beginning; often and often, as she sank far down, and the waters rolled
over her quarter, and held her there, the fear came to them that at last
her hour had come--that she was sinking; and with this fear they looked
down, expecting to see the waters rise to where they were standing.
And then, in every one of these moments of deadly fear, they raised, as
before, their cries to Him who is able to save.

So passed away hour after hour, until the duration of time seemed
endless, and it was to all of them as though they had spent days in
their place of peril, instead of hours only.

At length they became sensible of a diminution in the power of the wind.
At first they hardly dared to believe it, but after a time it became
fully evident that such was the case. The cessation of the wind at once
relieved the ship very materially, though the sea was still high, and
the waters below relaxed but little from their rage. But the cessation
of the wind filled them all with hope, and they now awaited, with
something like firmness, the subsidence of the waves.

That subsidence did come, and was gradually evident. It was slow, yet
it was perceptible. They first became aware that those giant waves
no longer fell in thunder upon the quarter-deck, and that the ship no
longer seemed to be dragged down into those deep, watery abysses into
which they had formerly seemed to be descending.

“There’s no mistake about it, boys,” said Bruce at length, in tones that
were tremulous with fervent joy; “the storm is going down.”

This was the first word that had been spoken for hours, and the sound
of these spoken words itself brought joy to all hearts. The spell was
broken. The horror vanished utterly from their souls.

“Yes,” cried Bart, in tones as tremulous as those of Bruce, and from the
same cause,--“yes, the worst is over!”

“I don’t mind this pitching,” said Tom; “it seems familiar. I think
to-night has been equal to my night in the Bay of Fundy--only it hasn’t
been so long, and it’s seemed better to have you fellows with me than
being alone.”

“I had a hard time in the woods,” said Phil, “but this has been quite
equal to it.”

“Pat,” said Arthur, “you’ve been doing the mummy long enough. You’d
better untie now, and lie down.”

“Sure an it’s meself that’ll be the proud lad to do that same,” said
Pat, “for it’s fairly achin I am all over, so it is.”

With these words Pat tried to unbind himself. But this was not so easy.
He had been leaning his whole weight against the ropes, and his hands
were quite numb. The other boys had to help him. This was a work of
some difficulty, but it was accomplished at last, and poor Pat sank down
groaning, and he never ceased to sigh and groan till morning.

Several hours now passed. The sea subsided steadily, until at length
its motion was comparatively trifling, not more than enough to cause a
perpendicular pitch to the ship of a few feet, and to send a few waves
occasionally over the deck. Wearied and worn out, the boys determined to
descend to the quarter-deck, so as to lie down. Pat was unable to make
the descent; so Bart remained with him, and curled himself up alongside
of him on the mizzen-top. The other boys went down, and Solomon also.

Everything there was wet, but as the boys also were saturated, it made
but little difference. They flung themselves down anywhere, and soon
were fast asleep.

But in the main-top Pat was groaning in his pain. The blood was rushing
back into his benumbed limbs, and causing exquisite suffering. Bart
tried to soothe him, and rubbed and chafed his arms and hands and feet
and legs for hours.

At last Pat grew easier, though still suffering somewhat from pricking
sensations in his arms and legs, and Bart was allowed to rest from his
labors.

And now, as Bart leaned back, he became aware of a very peculiar sound,
which excited all his attention.

It was a droning sound, with a deep, swelling cadence, and not long in
duration; but it rose, and pealed forth, and died away, to be followed
by other sounds precisely similar--regular, recurrent, and sounding all
abroad. It was nothing like the roar of the waves, nor the singing of
the wind through the rigging; it was something different from these, yet
in this darkness, and to this listener, not less terrible.

Bart knew it. The sound was familiar to his ears. There was only one
sound in Nature of that character, nor could it be imitated by any
other. It was the long sound of the surf falling upon the shore.

The surf!

What did that mean?

It meant that land was near. And what land?

There was only one land that this could tell of--it was that land which
they had been approaching for days; the land which they had watched
so closely all the previous day, and to which at evening they had been
drawn so near. The name of the land he could not know, but he had seen
it, and he remembered its drear and desolate aspect, its iron-bound
shores, its desert forests. It was upon this shore that the surf was
beating which now he heard, and the loudness of that sound told him how
near it must be.

It seemed to him that it could not be more than half a mile away at the
farthest.

And the ship was drifting on!

This first discovery was a renewal of his despair. He could only find
comfort in the thought that the sea had subsided so greatly. What ought
he now to do?

Ought he to awake the boys and tell them? He hesitated.

Pat had by this time fallen asleep, worn out with weariness and pain.
Bart had not the heart to wake him just yet.

Suddenly there was an opening in the sky overhead, and through a rift in
the clouds the moon beamed forth. Bart started up and looked all around.
The morn disclosed the scene.

The sea had grown much calmer, and the waves that now tossed about their
spray over its surface were as nothing compared to those which had beat
upon the ship during the night. This was probably due, as Bart thought,
to the shelter of some headland which acted as a breakwater. For as he
looked he saw the land now full before him. He had conjectured rightly
from the sound of the surf, and he now saw that this land could not be
much more than a half mile away.

This confirmation of his worst fears overcame him. He started to his
feet, and stood clinging to the rigging, and looking at the land.

How near! how fearfully near! And every moment was drawing the ship
nearer. And what sort of a shore was that? Was it all rocky, or was it
smooth sand? The waves were high enough there to create a tremendous
surf. Did that surf fall on breakers, or did it fall on some gentle
beach? This he could not tell. In vain he strained his eyes. He could
see the white line of foaming surf, and beyond this the dark hills, or
cliffs, but more than this he could make out nothing definite. But the
shore was so near that their fate could not be very long delayed, and
he determined to wake the boys at once, leaving Pat to sleep a little
longer.

With this intention he prepared to descend. But scarce had he put one
foot over, when he saw a shadowy figure close by.

“Mas’r Bart,” said a voice.

It was Solomon.

“I see you a movin about, an I jes thought I’d come up to see how you
was a gittin along,” said Solomon.

“Did you see the land?” asked Bart, in agitated tones.

“De lan! Sartin sure--seen it dese four hours. Ben a watchin it ebber so
long.”

“What! Why didn’t you wake us before?”

“Wake you? Not me. What de use ob dat ar? I ben kine o’ watchin, an kine
o’ canterin round all de time, seein dat de tings are all straight; an
I got de galley stove in prime order, an if youns don’t get de bes
breakfas you ebber eat, den I’m a useless ole nigga. Sho, now; go away.
Leab tings to me, I tell you.”

“Breakfast!” cried Bart, in amazement. “Why, we’ll drift ashore in a few
minutes. Don’t you see how near we are? What shall we do? Is the boat
gone?”

Solomon put his head back for a few minutes, and chuckled to himself in
a kind of ecstasy.

“De boat? O, yes, de boat’s all right. Held on tight as a drum--de boat
an de galley stove.”

“O, then,” said Bart, “come, let’s wake the boys, and get her out at
once. It isn’t too rough for her here. We must get some pieces of wood
for paddles.”

“O, dere’s lashins ob time; neber you mind,” said Solomon. “You jes lie
down an finish your nap, an leab de res to me.”

“But we’re drifting ashore. In a quarter of an hour we’ll be among the
breakers.”

“O, no, Mas’r Bart; not in a good many quarter ob an hours.”

“But the shore’s only half a mile away.”

“I know it,” said Solomon; “an it’s ben jes dat, ar distums off for de
las four hour an more.”

“What!”

“Dat’s so. I ben a watchin. Hadn’t I tole you dat ar?”

“But the ship’s afloat. She isn’t aground. She must be drifting in.”

“Dat ar conclusium don’t foller as a nessary suc-cumstance,” said
Solomon, with dignity.

“Why, what prevents her from drifting?” asked Bart, in a puzzle..

“De simplest ting in de world,” said Solomon--“her anchor.”

“Her anchor! O,” cried Bart, as a flood of light burst in upon his mind,
and dispelled all the darkness of his despair; “her anchor! O, I begin
to understand.”

“Tell you what,” said Solomon; “when I fust heard dat ar surf I was in a
quandary, mind I tell you. Gib all up. Was jes about to rouse youns.
But fust an foremost I went to see about de boat. Found dat all right
an tight. Den I got a belayum pin an tored off some strips ob wood for
paddles. Den I waited to see how we was a goin. Well, arter waitin for
ebber so long, de surf didn’t get any nearer. Tell you what; dat ar
succumstance puzzled dis old nigga’s head considdable. Sudden a idee
popped into me. I ran forad, an sure enough I found de ship’s head off
from de sho, an felt de anchor chain standin out stiff. Den I knew
de anchor had caught, and had fetched her up all right in dis yer
identicull place an po--sitium; an so, Mas’r Bart, here we air, anchored
hard an fast, de boat all right an tight, de paddles ready, de galley
stove ready too, an de prospek afore all ob us ob a fus’-rate breakfas
to ward us for all de per’ls an clamties ob de night.”

Some further inquiries followed from Bart, which served to assure him
still more of Solomon’s vigilance; and the result was, that after a time
he resumed his place beside Pat in the mizzen-top, and, curling himself
up, was soon sound asleep. It was not a very luxurious sleeping-place,
but it was at least as soft as the deck below, where the boys had flung
themselves, and it was also a trifle dryer.

When Bart awoke it was broad day. Pat was gone. He had awaked, and,
finding himself all right again, and seeing the land close by, he had
descended to the deck to talk to Solomon. For his first thought had been
a very natural one, namely, that the ship was going ashore; and seeing
Solomon placidly moving about below, he had gone down to find out what
it all meant. Of course his fears were soon dispelled.

The rest of the boys waked at about the same time that Bart did, and he
soon rejoined them below. The smell of broiled ham was wafted over the
ship. Great was the wonder of Bruce, Arthur, Tom, and Phil at their
present situation, and even greater was their wonder at seeing the
repast which Solomon had already spread out upon the quarter-deck.

For Solomon had been working like a beaver.

He had forced open the cabin door, and let out all the water. He had
then obtained some coal, which, though wet, burned merrily in the galley
stove, and had found the cooking utensils, which he had fortunately
conveyed to the cabin when he had first been driven from the galley.

The biscuit were, of course, soaked and saturated with salt water; but
Solomon declared that they were made to be soaked before cooking, and
that the salt water was “jes as good as fresh--ebry mite.” So he fried
these in butter, and sprinkled over them some pepper, which was in the
sea-chest, and which, with all the other contents of the chest, had not
been injured. Ham, and toasted cheese, and potted meats, and tea and
coffee, together with other articles too numerous to mention, formed
the breakfast; and it is scarce necessary to say that the boys did full
justice to it.

After breakfast they began to consider what next they should do. The
land was close by, about half a mile away. The line of coast extended
far away towards the left, but on the right it ended in a headland. The
sea was very quiet, but on the shore before them there was a heavy surf,
the result of the past storm. They saw farther away to the left a smooth
beach, where a landing might be easily effected, and another place
towards the right where there was very little surf. This last seemed the
best place for attempting a landing.

The shore was not very attractive. In some places rocky cliffs arose,
crowned at the summit with spruce and birch; in other places there were
slopes covered with the same sort of trees. There was no sign whatever
of any house, or of any cultivation, or of any pasture land, or of any
clearing. The forest seemed unbroken.

The boys were now as ignorant of the country as they had been when they
first saw it. Each still held the same opinion which he had announced
before.

Phil thought that it was Newfoundland.

Tom, that it was Prince Edward’s Island.

Bart, that it was some part of Nova Scotia, or Cape Breton.

Pat, that it was the Magdalen Islands.

Bruce, that it was the coast of New Brunswick, somewhere near the
Miramichi.

And Arthur, that it was Gaspé, not far from the Bay de Chaleur.

Thus, although this particular spot seemed desolate enough, no one gave
any thought to that, for they all supposed that inhabitants could be
found within no very great distance. .

After some deliberation, it was at length concluded to go ashore.
The strips of wood which Solomon had already, with wise forethought,
procured, were easily shaped into very respectable paddles by means of a
hatchet and a knife.

They then determined to secure themselves from want while ashore, and
this they did by putting into the boat one of the barrels of biscuit and
the chest of provisions.

Then they all embarked and pulled away. They paddled along without
difficulty towards the beach on the right, where the surf seemed less.
On approaching this, they found a cove formed by a gully among the
hills, and at one end there were grassy banks, near which a stream of
fresh water flowed into the sea.

Here they landed.



XVII.

_The Lookout over the Sea.--The missing Ship.--Where are the
Boys?--Where are the Boys?--Where are the Boys?--Where are the
Boys?--Where are the Boys?--Where are the Boys?--An elaborate
Calculation.--Dragging the Anchor.--A Chart on the Cabin Table.--Writ
in Water.--Hope.--The Antelope sails ‘North by East.--Corbet watches the
Horizon.--Midday.--Despair.--Corbet crushed!_


Captain Corbet had arrived at the place where he supposed he had left
the Petrel, and on looking about saw no signs of her, he was filled with
despair. The wind had been blowing all night long, and the sea had been
rising to an extent that might have justified the deepest anxiety; he
had been upheld only by the thought that he was bringing relief to the
boys; and this solitary consolation was taken from him by the first
glance that he cast around.

This was the fifth day since he had left them. He had gone, proposing
and expecting to be back in two days, or in three at farthest. But he
had gone much farther than he had at first intended, and hence had left
them longer than he had said.

And where were they now?

In vain he strained his eyes. The only sail on the water was that
schooner: possibly some fisherman cruising about in this direction.

Where were the boys?

Where were the boys that had been committed to his care,--the boys who
had been intrusted to him,--the boys who had confided in him,--the boys
who had placed their young lives in his keeping?

Where were the boys?

Where were the boys whom he had left; whom he had promised to return for
so promptly?

He had led them into difficulty, and left them there!

He had led them into starvation--that was his first fault. How they had
suffered during those days of calm! He had led them to that waterlogged
vessel! He had gone on board with them; he had caused them to put a
confidence in that wrecked ship which was not justifiable.

Worst of all, he had left them!

And now that he thought of it, what was that ship? She might have been
not water-logged--but sinking! The thought filled him with horror. A
sinking ship! and he had left them there!

No; she was not a sinking ship--he knew that.

He remembered the length of time that he had seen her from a distance.
He recalled the time he had been on board, and all the observations
which he had made. Water-logged she certainly was, but not sinking--no,
not sinking. Timber ships never sink. They cannot sink. A timber ship
is like a solid wooden ship low down in the water, but absolutely
unsinkable.

This thought brought some consolation to him in his despair.

But as he looked out over the sea, as he saw the swelling waves, as he
felt the Antelope toss, and leap, and plunge about, and as he recalled
the long night that had passed, with its storms and billows, he trembled
for the boys in the water-logged ship.

And again the old question came back,--

Where were the boys?

Where were the boys whom he had left in the water-logged ship? He
himself had anchored that ship in these waters, hard and fast; but now,
as he looked about far over the seas, he saw no sign of any ship, or
of any floating thing save that distant fishing schooner. What did this
mean?

Again and again he asked this question, and again and again he shrank
back from the answer that suggested itself.

He tried to console himself by thinking of the buoyancy of wood in
general, and of timber ships in particular. Alas! these efforts were all
in vain. For he remembered how rough the sea had been; and he saw all
around him even now the swelling waves. That ship had already been torn
and shattered by storms. That ship had been forsaken by captain and
crew. They had believed that she was about to founder. Was this belief,
then, so far wrong as he had supposed? She was like a raft, torn and
dislocated, which any fresh movement of the water might shatter to
pieces. Perhaps in the storm that had fallen upon her in his absence
the waves had wrought their will upon her. Perhaps they had torn her
to pieces in their wrath, and scattered all her timbers afar over the
surface of the deep. Perhaps the only vestige of the Petrel which his
eyes might ever see, might be some floating timbers drifting past, and
bearing to him the only message which could ever come to the land of the
living from the lost boys.

Where were the boys?

Where, O, where were the boys whom he had led into danger, and then
madly deserted?--doubly deserted, in fact; first, when he sailed away,
leaving them on board the wrecked ship, and secondly, in that worse
desertion, when he had gone away so thoughtlessly, so wickedly, and so
madly, from the Magdalen Islands to the Miramichi River? How could he
have ever thought of it? What could have so infatuated him as to lead
him so far away from those helpless boys in their desperate position?

Where were the boys?

O, where were the boys? And what had they thought of him? What misery
had they not suffered! What despair! How often must they have watched
for his return! And day had succeeded to day, and night to night, but
he had never come! While they were watching for his appearance, he was
calmly sailing away, or was loitering in distant ports, leaving them to
their terrific fate!

Where were the boys?

What was their fate?

What had become of that ship?

She had been anchored fast. She was gone now. Gone! Gone were those
boys, for whom he would have laid down his life; but whom, nevertheless,
he had deserted and betrayed. And he--what could he do? Where could he
go? Where could he search for them? Over what seas could he sail? With
what hope? Was there any hope? Hope! Alas! what hope could he form when
he looked out over these foaming waves, and felt the Antelope quiver
beneath the force of their assault?

These, or something very much like these, were the thoughts that
filled the soul of the unhappy, the despairing Corbet, as he rolled his
venerable eyes over the wide waste of waters, and saw that the Petrel
was gone. It was a moment full of deeper misery and keener anguish than
any which the good captain had ever known in the whole course of his
life, though that life had by no means been without its sufferings. Yet
among all the sufferings and sorrows of a life full of vicissitudes, it
had never fallen to his lot to experience such a misfortune as this,--to
reproach himself so keenly, so severely, and yet so justly. Whatever the
fate of the boys might have been, he knew perfectly well that he, and
he alone, was the cause; nor could he plead, even to his own conscience,
the excuse that his motives were right. For his motives were not right,
and he knew it. His motives had been nothing better than wild desires
for sudden wealth. True, he had only wished that wealth for his
“babby;” but that did not in the least mitigate his offence. At the very
least, he had been guilty of carelessness so gross that it was hardly
inferior to downright, deliberate crime.

So the poor captain’s anguish of soul was extreme, and utter, as well it
might be. So keen, indeed, was his suffering, that his hair might have
turned white from its severity,--a circumstance not unusual,--but in the
captain’s case it was not possible, since, as is well known, his hair
was already as gray as it well could be, and therefore the good Captain
Corbet could only suffer in secret, and occasionally wipe away the tears
that dropped from his eyes with the sleeve of his venerable coat.

At length the thought occurred to him that perhaps he had not come to
the right place.

To his mind, the thought was well nigh inconceivable; yet, after all, it
was barely possible, and in his despair he caught at this straw. After
all, navigation by dead reckoning is not the most accurate way in the
world of working one’s way along; and Captain Corbet felt this in an
obscure and shadowy sort of way; so it need not be wondered at if he
sought relief in the thought that he had possibly gone astray.

So he called upon Wade to take the helm, while he went below to make
some elaborate calculations.

He did it in this way.

He first got a mug of water.

Then he seated himself by the cabin table.

Then he dipped the fore finger of his right hand in the water.

Then, with this finger, he traced certain mysterious marks upon the
table.

Now, these mysterious marks were designed by this ancient mariner to
represent nothing less than the coasts surrounding the Gulf of St.
Lawrence. To an unprejudiced observer, this idea would never have
suggested itself; but to the mind of the venerable Corbet, these
marks were as plain and as intelligible as the finest outlines of the
Admiralty charts engraved in steel, and bristling with names of places.
In his mind’s eye he could see everything. He could see Prince Edward’s
Island, Cape Breton, Newfoundland, Gaspé, the Bay de Chaleur, Miramichi,
and the Magdalen Islands. There, too, full and fair, in the centre of
the scene, a big wet spot, made most emphatically with his thumb, showed
him the spot where he had left the Petrel.

And this was Captain Corbet’s chart, and this was his mode of
navigating, and this was the scientific method which he adopted in
order to work his way out of a difficulty. Quadrant, sextant, and other
instruments of that character he did not need; he trusted to his own
head, and to his finger.

It must be confessed that, on this occasion, these resources rather
failed him. The puzzle seemed insoluble. In vain he obliterated the wet
spot where he first stationed the Petrel. In vain he made another dab
with his thumb in a second place. He could not arrive at any conclusion
which was entirely satisfactory. He placed the mug of water on the
table, leaned his aged head in both hands, and sat watching his chart
in profound thought. A sudden sea struck the Antelope. The good vessel
leaped, as was natural, at such rough treatment. As was natural, also,
the mug of water leaped. Moreover, it upset. The contents poured forth,
and inundated the fable. The chart was all obliterated.

At this casualty Captain Corbet rose. He betrayed no excitement, no
passion. He did not swear, as some wrecked sea captains have done. He
did not even utter an exclamation. He simply took his aged coat tail and
wiped the water off the table very carefully, and then with his other
aged coat tail he dried it, and even polished it most elaborately. The
table had not been so clean for ever so long. It seemed to be astonished
at itself. Captain Corbet, meanwhile, remained mild and patient. Sir
Isaac Newton himself, after the burning of his Principia by his immortal
little dog Diamond, was not more placid. Without a word, our captain
went to the bucket, replenished the mug, returned to the table, resumed
his seat, and, holding the mug in his left hand, under the table, to
prevent a recurrence of this mishap, he dipped the fore finger of his
right hand into the water, and proceeded to retrace upon the table the
outline of his chart. In a little while there appeared before his eyes,
as plain as before, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, with all the surrounding
coasts--Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Gaspé, Newfoundland,
the Magdalen Islands, and plain in the middle the dab of his venerable
thumb representing the spot where he had left the Petrel.

But the problem remained insoluble. He was certain that he had come back
to the right spot. Again and again he traced, in a thin line, made by
his wet finger-nail, the course which he had taken; first, from the
Petrel to the Magdalen Islands, and, secondly, from the Magdalen Islands
to Miramichi, and, thirdly, from Miramichi to the place where he now
was. In each case his course had, fortunately, been quite straight. Had
there been head winds, it might have been different; but, as it was, the
straight course which he had kept made the outlines on the table all
the more simple, but at the same time they made the problem all the more
complex. The ship was missing. He had left her at anchor. She could not
sink. What, then, had become of her?

The first answer was the terrible one that she had gone to pieces in the
storm. But this was the very one from which he was seeking to escape,
and against which he sought refuge in such facts as her strength and the
stiffness of a timber cargo.

But what other conclusion was there?

That he had mistaken his way?

Impossible!

On the table before him the marks that he had made confirmed him in the
opinion that he was, if not on the identical spot where he had left the
Petrel, at least sufficiently near to be able to see her if she still
was here.

Yet here she evidently was not.

What, then, had become of her?

To this only one answer remained, and in this he sought to find comfort.

She might have dragged her anchor, and might have thereby drifted, under
the pressure of the storm, far enough away to be out of sight.

But in what direction had she drifted?

The wind had been south by east. He knew that well enough. This one
fact, then, showed him what course she would have taken when adrift. .

He wet his finger now for the last time. He planted it down upon the
place which he had marked as the position of the Petrel, and then drew a
line in the direction which he supposed might indicate the course of
her drift. Then he stopped to calculate the possible distance which
she might have traversed while dragging her anchor, and made a mark to
represent what, under this theory, might be her present position.

Then he drew a long breath.

He then rose to his feet, and surveyed his chart for a few moments with
a thoughtful face.

And now the time had come for action. He had at last a theory. His mind
was made up. He hurried upon deck, and, seizing the tiller, headed
the Antelope north by west, in the direction which he conjectured the
drifting ship to have taken.

He had allowed between twenty and thirty miles for her drift. He had
calculated that a mile an hour would be a fair allowance for a vessel
that was dragging her anchor, and he did not think that the wind had
been strong enough to make her drag her anchor for more than twenty
hours, and certainly, as he thought, not more than thirty, at the
farthest. Upon this principle he acted, and when he headed the Antelope
north by west, he hoped to catch sight of the lost ship before noon.

For the Antelope, with a fair wind, could make as much as four or five
miles an hour; and, after making every allowance for currents, or for
leeway, she ought to do twenty miles between six o’clock in the morning
and midday. And so, full of confidence in the ability of the Antelope to
do her duty, Captain Corbet took his station at the helm.

Now that a gleam of hope had appeared, he was a different man. The
gleam became brighter and brighter, until at last it grew to be positive
sunshine. He forgot his recent despair. The more he thought of his
theory of the Petrel dragging her anchor, the more convinced he was that
it was correct, and the more certain he was that he would ultimately
catch sight of her.

And so he kept on his course, with his eyes fixed on the horizon before
him, anxiously awaiting the time when he would descry the masts of the
lost vessel becoming gradually defined against the sky.

Hour after hour passed.

The Antelope sailed on.

Midday came.

The Antelope had traversed the distance which her commander had allotted
for the utmost possible drift of the Petrel.

Yet not the slightest sign of the Petrel had appeared.

The hopes upon which Captain Corbet had been relying gradually sank
under him. When midday came, and the masts of the Petrel did not
appear, hope sank away, and despondency came, and despondency deepened
into despair.

All that he had felt at early dawn, when he first looked abroad upon the
seas and found her not, now came back to him,--all the self-reproach,
all the remorse, all the anguish of soul.

He stood at the helm, and let the Antelope pass onward, but there was
no longer any hope in his mind. He was overwhelmed, and now even the
possibility of finding her seemed to be taken away.

All this time the wind had gone on increasing in violence, and the sea
had risen more and more. For himself and for the Antelope Captain Corbet
did not care; but the lowery sky and the stormy sea seemed terrible to
him, for they spoke to him of the lost boys, and told a tale of horror.



XVIII.

_The venerable but very unfortunate, Corbet--The Antelope lies
to.--Emotions of her despairing Commander.--Night and Morning.--The
Fishing Schooner,--An old Acquaintance appears, and puts the old, old
Question.--Corbet overwhelmed.--He confesses all.--Tremendous Effect
on Captain Tobias Ferguson.--His Selfcommand.--Considering the
Situation.--Wind and Tide.--Theories as to the Position of the lost
Ones.--Up Sail and after.--The last Charge to Captain Corbet._


THE unfortunate Corbet thus found himself in a state of despair. The
situation, indeed; could not possibly be worse. The ship was gone;
and where? Who could tell? Certainly not he. He had exhausted all his
resources. From the cabin table he was unable to elicit any further
information, nor could his aged brain furnish forth intellectual power
which was at all adequate to the problem before it. He was alone. He had
none to help him. With Wade he did not offer to take counsel, feeling,
perhaps, that Wade would be about as useful in this emergency as the
Antelope’s pump.

Meanwhile the storm increased, and Captain Corbet felt himself unable
to contend with it. The tattered old sails of the Antelope were
double-reefed, but seemed every moment about to fly into ribbons.
There was no object in keeping his present course any longer; and so he
decided, in view of the storm and his own indecision, to lie to. And
now the Antelope tossed, and pitched, and kicked, and bounded beneath
Captain Corbet,

                             “like a steed

                        That knows its rider,”

and Wade went below, and took refuge in sleep; and the good, the brave,
yet the unhappy Corbet took up his position upon the windlass, and
bestriding it, he sat for hours peering into space. There were no
thoughts whatever in his mind. He tried not to speculate, he attempted
not to solve the problem; but there was, deep down in his soul, a dark,
drear sense of desolation, a woful feeling of remorse and of despair.
Nothing attracted his attention on that wide sea or troubled sky; not
the waste of foaming waters, not the giant masses of storm clouds, nor
yet that fishing schooner, which, only a few miles off was also, like
the Antelope, lying to. Captain Corbet did not notice this stranger; he
did not speculate upon the cause of her presence; he did not see that
she was the identical vessel that he had noticed before, and therefore
did not wonder why it was that he had been followed so long and so
persistently.

So he sat on the windlass, and gazed forth into illimitable space.

And the long, long hours passed away.

Evening came.

Deepening into night.

Night, and storm, and darkness came down, and the Antelope tossed, and
plunged, and kicked, and jumped; yet the sleepless Corbet remained on
deck, occasionally shifting his position, but still overwhelmed by has
misery.

Towards midnight the storm abated. Corbet waited a few hours longer, and
then stole below, hoping to forget his misery and relieve his fatigues
by a little sleep.

In vain.

The air of the cabin seemed to suffocate him. Sleep was impossible. His
distressing thoughts seemed to drive him into a fever; he tried hard
and for a long time to overcome them, and finally succeeded in getting a
short nap.

By this time it was dawn, and the good captain rose, and went upon deck,
feeling dejected and miserable.

He looked out over the waters, and noticed that the strange schooner was
bearing down straight towards him. She was coming bows on, so that at
first he did not know her from any other vessel; but at length she came
up, and hove to close by, disclosing the symmetrical hull, the beautiful
lines, the slender, tapering masts, and the swelling, snow-white canvas
of the Fawn. At the same moment he saw a boat drop alongside, and into
this leaped Captain Tobias Ferguson, who at once pulled to the Antelope,
and in a few minutes stood on board.

The last time that he had seen Captain Ferguson he had looked upon
him in the light of a busybody, a vexatious and too inquisitive spy,
a persecutor and a tormentor. But now circumstances had changed so
utterly, and Captain Corbet’s sufferings both of mind and body had been
so acute, that the once dreaded Ferguson appeared to him almost equal to
some Heaven-sent deliverer. His wan face flushed with joy; he could not
speak; tears burst from his eyes; and seizing Ferguson’s hand in both of
his, he clasped it tight.

Ferguson darted over him one swift, keen glance that took in everything,
but made no comment upon the emotion that was so visible.

“Well,” said he, “we’re bound to meet again. The fact is, I was bound
not to lose sight of you. I tell you I got those boys on my brain, and
couldn’t get them out no how. I knew you were going to find them, or to
try to find them. I believed they were all in danger, and so I up sail
and followed. And a precious hard job that following was. Why, it was
like making a race-horse follow a snail. I had to turn back every other
mile or so, and go away. I saw you lie to yesterday, so I lay to; and
here I am this morning, right side up, and ready to repeat my question,
Where are the boys? So come, now, old man; no humbug, no shuffling.
You’re in a fix. I know it well enough. You’ve lost the boys. Very well.
I’ll help you find ’em. So, now, make a clean breast of it, and tell
me all about it from the very beginning.”

Saying this, Ferguson seated himself on the taffrail, and drawing forth
a cigar, lighted it, and waited for Captain Corbet to begin.

But for Captain Corbet there was the difficulty. How could he begin? How
could he tell the miserable story of his madness and his folly? of
the ignorant confidence of the poor boys? of his culpable and guilty
negligence, doubly guilty, since he had deserted them not only once in
leaving the ship, but a second time in sailing away from the Magdalen
Islands? And for what purpose? Even had he reached the ship with the
sails, could he really have saved her? Yet here stood his inquisitor,
and this time his questions must be answered.

“Wal,” began Captain Corbet, in a tremulous voice, “I left em--”

“Yes.”

“I--I--left--left--em--”

“Well?”

“I ‘--I--left em, you know.”

“So you said three times; but I knew that before. The question is,
Where?”

“Aboard a ship.”

“Aboard a ship?”

“Yes.”

“What ship? Where?

“Somewhar’s about here.”

“About here? But what ship?”

“She--she--she--was--she--she was--wa-wa-water-logged.”

At this Ferguson started to his feet, almost leaping in the air as he
did so. For a moment he regarded the unhappy Corbet with an expression
of mingled horror and incredulity.

“You don’t mean it!” he said, at length.

Captain Corbet sighed.

“What?” cried Ferguson. “Were you mad? Were they mad? Were you all
raving, stark, staring distracted? What were you all thinking of? A
water-logged ship! Why, do you mean to stand there in your boots, look
me in the face, and tell me that about the boys?”

Captain Corbet trembled from head to foot.

“A water-logged ship! Why, you might as well tell me you pitched them
all overboard and drowned them.”

Captain Corbet shuddered, and turned away.

Ferguson laid his hand upon his shoulder.

“Come,” said he, more quietly, “you couldn’t have been such a fool! You
must have considered that the boys had some chance. What sort of a ship
was she? What was her cargo?”

“Timber,” said the mournful Corbet in a melancholy wail.

Ferguson’s face brightened.

“You’re sure of that?”

“Gospel sure.”

“Not deals, now, or laths, or palings, or pickets, or battens, or
anything of that sort?”

“I saw the timber--white pine.”

“Well, that’s better; that gives them a chance. I’ve heard say that a
timber ship’ll float for years, if she’s any kind of a ship at all; and
so, perhaps, this one is drifting.”

Captain Corbet shook his head.

“Why not?” asked Ferguson, noticing the movement.

“I anchored her.”

“Anchored her?”

“Yes.”

“Anchored what? The timber ship?”

“Yes.”

“Anchored her? That’s queer! And where?”

“Why, somewhars about twenty mile or so back.”

“Somewhere about twenty mile or so back!” repeated Ferguson. “Why, the
man’s mad! See here, old man; what do you mean by anchoring hereabouts?
Did you try soundings?”

“Wal, n-n-no.”

“Are you aware that the bottom is several miles down below, and that all
the chains and ropes of that ship, if they were all tied together in one
line, wouldn’t begin to reach half way?”

“Wal, now, railly, I hadn’t any idee. I jest kine o’ dropped anchor to
hold the ship till I got back.”

“Well, old man,” said Ferguson, “I’ve got a very good general idea of
your proceedings; but I want a few more particulars, so that I can judge
for myself about the poor lads. So I’ll trouble you to make a clean
breast of it, and in particular to let me know why you kept so close
when I asked you about it before. Close? Why, if you’d been decoying
those boys out there on purpose to get rid of them, you couldn’t have
fought shyer of my questions than you did.”

Upon this Captain Corbet proceeded, as Ferguson called it, to “make a
clean breast of it.” He began at the first, told about their failure in
provisions, their discovery of the ship, and his project of saving her.
He explained all about his reticence on the subject at the Magdalen
Islands, and the cause of his voyage to Miramichi. All this was
accompanied with frequent interruptions, expressive of self-reproach,
exculpation, remorse, misery, and pitiable attempts at excusing his
conduct.

Ferguson listened to all without expressing any opinion, merely asking
a question for information here and there; and at the close of Captain
Corbet’s confession, he remained forborne a considerable time buried in
profound reflection.

“Well,” said he, “the whole story is one that won’t bear criticism. I
won’t begin. If I did, you’d hear a little of the tallest swearing that
ever came to your ears. No, old man; I’ve got a wicked temper, and I
won’t get on that subject. The thing that you and me have got to do
is, to see what can be done about those boys, and then to do it right
straight off. That’s what we’ve got to do; and when I say _we_, I mean
_myself_, for you appear to have done about as much mischief as is
needful for one lifetime.”

Ferguson now began to pace the deck, and kept this up for about half
an hour, at the end of which time he resumed his seat on the taffrail.
Captain Corbet watched him with wistful eyes, and in deep suspense; yet
there was already upon his venerable face somewhat less of grief, for he
felt a strange confidence in this eager, energetic, active, strong
man, whose pertinacity had been so extraordinary, and whose singular
affection for the boys had been so true and so tender.

“I’m beginning,” said Ferguson, at length, “I’m beginning to see my way
towards action, and that’s something; though whether it’ll result in
anything is more than I can begin to say.

“In the first place, I go on the theory that this timber ship didn’t
sink; that she stood this blow as solid as though she was carved out of
a single stick.

“In the second place, I scout your idea of anchoring her. That is rank,
raving insanity. To anchor a ship in three miles of water! Old man, go
home; you have no business on the sea.

“So she’s been drifting; yes, drifting. She was drifting when you found
her, and drifting when you left her. Where she was you can’t tell,
seeing that you can’t take an observation, and didn’t take one. So we’re
all astray there, and I can only calculate her probable position from
the course you took to the Magdalen Islands, and the time occupied in
making the trip by that astonishing old tub of yours, that disgraces and
ridicules the respectable name of Antelope.

“Very well. Now say she’s afloat, and has been drifting. The question
is, Where has she drifted to? She probably was found by you somewhere
about here. That was about a week ago. Well, after the calm was over,
then came a wind. That wind was a south-easter. It got up at last into a
storm, like the blow last night.

“Now, there are two things to be considered.

“First, the wind.

“Second, the current.

“First, as to the wind. It was a steady southeaster for nearly a week,
ending in a hard blow. That wind has had a tendency to blow her over in
that direction--over there, nor’-west. In that direction she must have
been steadily pushed, unless there was something to prevent, some ocean
currents or other.

“And this brings us to the next point--the currents.

“Now, over there, about thirty miles south of this, there is a current
setting out into the Atlantic from the River St. Lawrence; and up there,
thirty miles to the north, there is considerable of a current, that runs
up into the Straits of Belle Isle. Just round about here there is a sort
of eddy, or a back current, that flows towards the Island of Anticosti.
Now, that happens to be the identical place towards which the wind would
carry her. So, you see, granting that the Petrel has remained afloat,
the wind and the currents must both have acted on her in such a way as
to carry her to that desert island, that horrible, howling wilderness,
that abomination of desolation, that graveyard of ships and
seamen--Anticosti.”

At this intelligence, Captain Corbet’s heart once more sank within him.

“Anti--Anticosti!” he murmured, in a trembling voice.

“Yes, Anticosti. And I ain’t surprised, not a bit surprised,” said
Ferguson. “I said so. I prophesied it. I was sure of it. I read it
in their faces at Magdalen. When I saw that rotten old tub, and those
youngsters, something told me they were going to wind up by getting on
Anticosti. When I saw you come back to Magdalen, I was sure of it.
I followed you to Miramichi to find out; and ever since I’ve been
following you, I’ve had Anticosti in my mind, as the only place I was
bound to.”

Captain Corbet drew a long breath.

“Wal,” said he, “at any rate, it’s better for them than
bein--bein--at--at the bottom of the sea.”

“’Tain’t any better, if they’ve been smashed against the rocks of
Anticosti in last night’s gale,” retorted Ferguson, who was not willing
that Captain Corbet should recover from his anxiety too soon.

“But mayn’t she--mayn’t she--catch?”

“Catch?”

“Yes.”

“How?”

“Why--her--her anchor. It’s been down all the time. That thar anchor had
ought to catch hold of somethin.”

Ferguson slapped his thighs with both hands with tremendous force.

“You’re right! right are you, old man, for once! For the moment, I had
forgotten about the anchor. That saves them. That anchor’s bound to
catch; for, after all, I don’t think last night’s storm was bad enough
to make her drag. At any rate, it gives them a chance, And now--off we
go.” With these words, Ferguson jumped into his boat.

He turned his head once more. “Old man, mark me--? all you’ve got to do
is to follow straight after me.”

“But you’ll get away in the night.”

“So I will. Well, then, you head straight nothe-west and by nothe.
I’ll pick you up some time tomorrow. We’ll cruise along the shore of
Anticosti till we find the ship.”

With these words, Ferguson seized the oars. A dozen strokes brought
him alongside of his own schooner. He leaped on board, and the boat was
hauled up astern.

In a few moments the Fawn spread her snow-white wings, and headed away
“nothe-west and by nothe.”

The Antelope followed.

Before evening the Fawn was out of sight.

But Captain Corbet stood calmly and confidently at the helm, and steered
“nothe-west and by nothe.” His despair had subsided, leaving only a mild
melancholy that was not unbecoming; but his soul was full of hope, for
he had confidence in Ferguson.



XIX.

_The Cove.--The grassy Knoll.--The Brook.--A Reconnoitre.--The Bed of
the Brook.--Far up into the Country.--A rough Road.--Return.--The
Aroma of the strange Dinner.--Solomon again in his Glory.--A great
Surprise.--A Resolution.--Drawing of Lots.--The fated Two.--Last Visit
to the Petrel.--Final Preparations.--A sound Sleep.--The Embarkation.
--The white Sail lost to View._.


THE cove into which they pulled seemed to the boys to be the most
beautiful place that they had ever seen. Such a thought was natural,
after such a passage from the wrecked ship, and from the terrors of the
sea to this peaceful and sheltered nook; and, indeed, more unprejudiced
observers might have been charmed with such a place. The hills encircled
it, covered with trees; the brook babbled over pebbles into the sea; the
grassy knoll rose invitingly in front of them; while behind them was the
sea, upon which the ship floated low in the water. The boys looked upon
this with enthusiastic delight; but Solomon’s face was turned away; he
was bowed down low, and staring intently into the water. That water was
astonishingly clear and transparent; and Solomon found an attractiveness
in the sea bottom which made all other things seem dull and commonplace.
He said nothing, however, and the boys were too much taken up with the
beauties of the place to notice his attitude.

In a few minutes the biscuit and the chest of provisions were put
ashore; and Solomon’s first act was to take the former out of the barrel
and spread them out over the grass, so that they might dry in the sun.
But the boys had other aims. Their first desire was to explore the
country; and as they knew well from past experience how easy it was to
get lost in the woods, they sought about, first of all, for some sort of
a path or trail. Nothing of the kind could be seen. Phil then suggested
going up the bed of the brook. His forest experiences had made him far
more fruitful in resources than any of them; and the stream occurred
to him at once as the readiest way of passing through the impenetrable
forest.

Accordingly they all set forth by this path. The brook was not very
wide, and the trees almost met overhead; the water was only a few inches
in depth, chiefly composed of gravel, and occasionally interspersed with
larger masses, which offered a succession of stepping-stones. As they
went along, they never ceased to look most carefully in all directions
for any traces of a path, however faint. The utter absence of anything
of the sort excited their surprise, but only led them to continue their
journey still farther. The way at length grew more difficult. They came
to a rising ground, where the brook had worn a bed for itself. Here the
path became rough, and full of mud and clay. Every few steps they
came to trees which had fallen across. But they worked their way along
bravely, and at length reached the top of the rising ground. Here they
found themselves in the forest, with nothing visible on every side but
spruce trees of moderate size. They walked on for two or three hours,
traversing fallen trees, and rocks, and mud; but at length they came to
a place where the brook lost itself in a swampy soil. Here there was a
dense and impenetrable underbrush, and no longer even such a pathway as
the bed of the brook had afforded. They all saw that it was impossible
to proceed any farther, and therefore they concluded to return.

Their calculations led them to suppose that they had gone many miles;
yet in all that distance they had found no trace whatever of any
human beings. They had not come upon even the rudest trail. This fact
impressed them all very forcibly. Hitherto, each one had had a different
theory as to the country; and no less than five provinces were claimed,
in order to support the theory of each. But they all knew that it would
be difficult indeed to find a place in any one of those five
provinces, where a march could be made for so great a distance, without
encountering some signs of humanity, past, if not present. In all of
them the woods had been scoured by lumbering parties, or, at least, by
hunting parties; and if there were no paths made by lumbermen, there
might be found, at least, some trail. Pat, of course, gave up the
Magdalen Islands; Bruce gave up Miramichi: Tom, Prince Edward’s Island;
and Bart, Cape Breton. There remained, then, the belief of Phil in
Newfoundland, and that of Arthur in Gaspé. Upon these two localities the
party divided; and though in the laborious journey back they were too
much fatigued to expend their breath in argument, yet, when they did
reach their journey’s end, they were all prepared for it.

But all argument was postponed for the present by the advent of dinner.

It was late when they got back. They had eaten nothing since breakfast.
They found Solomon waiting for them most impatiently. He had kindled a
fire under a rock, and had taken the trouble to go back to the ship for
some pots, kettles, and pans. A pot was even now hanging over the fire,
and when they reached the place, there issued from this pot a stream so
savory, so aromatic, so odoriferous, and so enticing, that in an instant
every other thought vanished from their minds.

“O, Solomon,” was the cry, “what is it that you’ve got there?”

And they rushed up to the place.

But Solomon, brandishing a huge ladle, waved them back with solemn
dignity.

“You look heah, chilen; don’t you go bodder yer heads bout dis yer;
it’s a kine o’ soup dat I ben a concoctin’; an you’ll know when de time
comes. Jes now, you’d all bes lie down ober dar, an res yourselves. I
ben worritin’ bout you for ten hour an more. You didn’t ought to go for
to ’crease de ’ziety ob dis ole man; cos he ain’t able to hole up.
But nebber mind; you’re all safe an soun; so now you all jes lay by a
few minutes, an I’ll walk dis yer dish off de hook in no time.”

The boys respected Solomon’s whim, and fell back. A few dishes,
with spoons, were lying on the grass, and towards these they allowed
themselves to drift, and then flung their weary frames upon the ground
near by.

Solomon was true to his word. He did not keep them long waiting. In a
short time he took the pot off the fire, and brought it towards them. He
then filled each of the dishes in silence.

The savory steam rose up; its odor was now unmistakable. Scarce able to
believe the evidence of the sense of smell, they hurried to appeal to
that of taste. One mouthful was enough. A cry of joy burst from them
all, followed by,--

“Oysters! Oyster stew! O, glorious! Solomon, where in the world did you
find these?”

Solomon’s eyes beamed with quiet exultation; he drew a long breath of
silent rapture, and gently rubbed his-old hands together. For a few
moments his emotions deprived him of the power of utterance; but at
length he found voice.

“Well, chilen, to tell de troof, I intended it as a great ‘prise, for
you. I saw dem dis yer mornin when we landed, and didn’t say nuffin.
But dar dey is--dem’s um. De cove is full; nuff heah to feed a ship’s
company ten years; an we’s boun to feed on de fat ob de lan so long as
we stick to dis yer place. Dat’s so; mind I tell you. Yes, sir.” After
such a repast as this, they all felt much more able to grapple with the
difficulties of their situation. And now once more arose the question,
what land this was upon which they had been thrown.

“Of course,” said Arthur, “there’s no use now to talk about the Magdalen
Islands, or Prince Edward’s Island, or Cape Breton, or even Miramichi.
This coast lies east and west, as we saw while we were drifting towards
it. We came from a southeast direction towards it; we can tell now.
There’s the west, where the sun is soon going to set, and there’s the
south. Now, my idea is, that this must be Gaspé. Besides, the desolation
of the country shows that it must be Gaspé.”

Phil shook his head.

“Gaspé doesn’t lie east and west,” said he; “and it may just as well be
Miramichi as Gaspé. The fact is, it can’t be either of them. It must be
Newfoundland. We’ve drifted up from the south, and have been driven upon
these shores. I can’t imagine where it is, but I rather think it may be
the south-west corner of the island. If that is right, then settlements
ought to be not very far away; only we can’t get to them by land.
There’s St. Pierre’s Island east, and there’s the Bay of Islands.”

“It’s rather a bad lookout’ for us,” said Tom, “if there isn’t any
settlement nearer than St. Pierre or the Bay of Islands. Why, there are
hundreds of miles of the roughest coast in the world lying between.
We may be on the coast, as you say; somewhere between Cape Ray and
Fortune’s Bay; but how we are ever to get to any settlement is a little
beyond me.”

“There’s the boat,” said Bart.

“What can we do with the boat?” said Tom. “We have no oars. I don’t feel
inclined to set out on a long journey with paddles like those. They
do very well to land a shipwrecked party, but are hardly the things to
start off with on a sea voyage. I tried going about with a bit of board
once, and didn’t find, that it worked very well.”

“O, we can rig up a sail. We can get something on board the Petrel
that’ll do--some quilts, or, better yet, some sheets.”

“Sheets aren’t big enough,” said Arthur.

“Well, we can sew two or three of them together. They’re good, strong
sheets, and they’ll do very well for the boat. As for a mast, why, we
can find a very good one here in the woods in five minutes.”

“But what direction should we take?”

“Well, that’s a question that requires a good deal of careful
consideration.”

“My opinion is,” said Tom, “that it is by far the best to sail east. If
we sail west, we could scarce hope to meet with any one till we got
to the Bay of Islands; and we’d have to double Cape Bay,--which is
altogether too dangerous a thing for a little boat like this. But if we
go east, we’ll have more chances of shelter in case of storms, and we’ll
be sure to reach some sort of settlement, either St. Pierre or some
fishing stations on the main land, or in Fortune’s Bay.”

“East, then, is the course,” said Bart. “And now, who of us shall go?
We’d better not all go.”

“Well, no; I suppose not.”

“Of course not,” said Bruce. “The boat isn’t large enough. Two will be
plenty. The rest of us can stay here.”

“If the boat goes,” said Arthur, “those of us who stay behind won’t be
able to go on board the ship.’ Shall we stay aboard or ashore?”

“For my part,” said Pat, “I won’t put a fut aboard that ship again as
long as I live.”

“I’ll stay here, or else go in the boat,” said Phil. “I’m ready to do
either.”

“I’m quite of Pat’s opinion,” said Arthur.

“Well, I’m not anxious to visit the ship again,” said Bart, “not even as
a salvor, and I certainly would not stay aboard of her.”

“It’s too comfortable here altogether,” said Tom.

“And so say I,” said Bruce. “The fact is, boys, we’re all of one mind
about the Petrel. Her glory is departed; and after that night in the
mizzen-top, we don’t fancy trying any other nights.”

“Fortunately,” said Tom, “the wind has changed. It’ll be fair for the
boat if she goes east.”

“But who are to go?” said Phil.

“I think,” said Bruce, “that the best way will be to draw lots. What do
you say, boys?”

To this proposal they all assented. Bruce thereupon took some bits of
grass, and broke them up into different lengths.

“Two of these,” said he, “are short; the rest are long. Those who draw
the short ones are to go in the boat. Will that do?”

“All right.”

Upon this Bruce put the pieces of grass in his hat, stirred them about;
and then laid the hat in the midst. Each one then shut his eyes and took
a piece of grass from the hat. Then they all held them forth.

And it was seen that the two shortest pieces had been drawn by Arthur
and Tom.

Upon this every one of the other boys offered to exchange places with
either one of these, and go in his stead. But Arthur and Tom were both
firm in their refusal.

“What are you going to take with you?” asked Bart.

“Well,” said Arthur, “first of all, we’ll need to have a sail. I think
we’d better make a raid on the Petrel at once, and hunt up some sheets.
Tom and I will go, and you fellows might find a couple of sticks that’ll
do for the mast and pole.”

“O, by the way,” said Bart, “if you’re going aboard, you’d better bring
back some more biscuit. We won’t have enough.”

“I’ll go and help you,” said Bruce.

“And I too,” said Phil.

The boys now pushed off,--Arthur, and Tom, and Bruce, and Phil. In
about a quarter of an hour they reached the ship, and boarded her.
They noticed now that the change of the wind had caused a corresponding
change of position. She had swung round at her anchor, and was very much
nearer the headland before spoken of.

“It’s my opinion.” said Tom, “that she’s been dragging her anchor a
little.”

“She’s certainly a good deal nearer the shore,” said Arthur.

“She’s so deep down,” said Bruce, “that she’ll touch bottom if she drags
much longer,--and a strong breeze might do it too.”

“If it does,” said Phil, “then good by forever to her. A timber ship may
hold together as long as she keeps in deep water; but these rocks would
soon grind her to powder, if she touched them.”

“Let her grind,” say I.

“Yes. I give up my share of the salvage.”

“The best place for her will be the bottom of the sea.”

“At any rate, we’ll make one final haul, boys, and take ashore
everything that may be needed at all.”

The boys now hurried to complete their preparations, for the sun was
not more than one half hour above the horizon, and there was no time to
spare. Arthur went to secure the sails. He selected a half dozen of the
largest sheets, and flung them into the boat. They were the coarsest
and strongest which he could find. Tom found some sail needles and sail
twine in a drawer in the pantry, where he remembered having seen them
before.

They then rolled out four barrels of biscuit, and put them on board
the boat. After this they put six hams in her, and all the rest of the
potted meat, and canned vegetables, and other dainties. Phil looked with
longing eyes at the galley stove, but concluded that it was best not to
try to convey that ashore. Finally, they took all the blankets, for they
were articles that promised to be always useful.

With this cargo they returned to the shore.

Arthur then went to work at his sail, while Tom went to see about the
mast. He found that Bart had already nearly finished one that was very
suitable. In smoothing this, in fitting it into the boat, and in shaping
a pole, another hour or so was taken up. Meanwhile Arthur had found that
three of the sheets were large enough. These he stitched together, and
afterwards cut it the right shape.

It was then secured to the mast, and the little boat was all ready for
her voyage.

But they had still more preparations to make. First of all, the
spy-glass, which had been brought ashore in the chest, was deposited in
the boat. Then, a barrel of the biscuit that Solomon had dried in the
sun was put on board, together with a sufficient supply of potted meats.
A jug of water was considered sufficient, as they expected to land
from time to time, and would be able to replenish it, if it should be
necessary. For warmth or shelter, three or four blankets, which the
careful forethought of Solomon had dried in front of the blazing fire,
were deemed amply sufficient.

Before these were completed it was dark. Of course they had no intention
of setting off that evening, though Tom was at first of the opinion that
they had better start, and take advantage of so fine a night. But the
others overruled him, and expressed the opinion that they had better
sail by night as little as possible.

Solomon kept the fire heaped high with fuel, not for the purposes of
warmth, for the air was balmy and pleasant, but more for the sake of
cheerfulness. He had found no difficulty in procuring dry wood from the
fallen trees in the forest. Brightly the flames leaped up, throwing
a pleasant glow over the surrounding scene. The contrast between this
evening and the evening of the previous day was thought of and felt by
all; and more than once there arose from the warm, grateful hearts of
these honest lads a prayer of thankfulness to that Being who had heard
their cry in the stormy sea, and had saved them from destruction.

Early the next morning they were all awake. Solomon already had
breakfast prepared. It was a bright and beautiful morning. The little
cove looked charming. But on the sea the Petrel still floated; but they
were all sure that she was nearer than ever to the headland.

A pleasant breeze was blowing, and all things promised well. Arthur and
Tom finished their breakfast, and then, bidding all the rest good by,
they embarked, and pushed off.

The wind filled the sail, and the little boat moved out of the cove, and
away to sea. The boys watched their departing friends in solemn silence,
until the white sail disappeared around the headland.



XX.

_Trouble and Consolation.--A fresh Proposal.--The Building of the
Camp.--Hard Work.--The triumphant Result.--Blisters and Balsam.--A new
Surprise by Solomon.--Illumination.--The rising Wind.--They go forth
to explore.--The impending Fate of the Petrel.--Wind and Wave.--A rough
Resting-place.--What will be the Fate of the Ship?--The Headland.--The
View.--Where are our departed Friends?_


AFTER the little white sail had disappeared around the headland, the
boys stood in silence for some time. The departure of Arthur and Tom had
made a perceptible breach in their numbers, and the thought that they
had gone on a long, an uncertain, and a perilous expedition seemed to
throw an air of gloom over those who remained behind.

Bart was the first to rouse himself.

“Seventy-four hours, with this wind; ought to do it,” said he.

“Do what?” asked Bruce.

“Well,” said Bart, “I’ve been making a calculation. I don’t see how St.
Pierre can be more than a hundred miles from here at the very farthest.
Now, this breeze ought to take them four or five miles an hour, and if
they went on without stopping, they certainly ought to reach St. Pierre
by this time to-morrow, even if they don’t find any settlements or any
fishing vessels on the way.”

“Yes; but they won’t find it so easy to get back,” said Bruce.

“O, yes, they will,” said Bart. “They won’t have to work their own way
back. They’ll get a schooner, and have no trouble.”

“Well,” said Bruce, “we’ll have to allow a week, at least.”

“Certainly,” said Phil. “It won’t do for us to tie them down to two
days. If we do, we’ll be all the time in a fever, and watch for them day
and night. I’m determined not to expect them at all this time.”

“Sure an that’s the wisest risolution we can make, so it is,” said Pat,
sedately; “and, be the same token, it’s a month I’m goin to allow, so it
is; an, what’s more, I’m thinkin we’ll betther be afther buildin a bit
of a house, or tint, or camp.”

“A camp!” cried Bart. “Hurrah! that’s the very thing.”

“Yes,” cried Phil; “just like the camp in the woods behind the hill at
Grand Pré.”

“The very best thing we could think of,” said Bruce. “It’ll give us all
something to do, and at the same time it’s a positive necessity.”

“It’s a pity we hadn’t some of that spare lumber on board the Petrel,”
 said Bart.

“Well,” said Phil, “I think we’ll have it all before another day;
for, from present appearances, she’ll be on the rocks soon; and if so,
there’ll be a general free delivery of her cargo all along the beach.
But we needn’t wait for that.”

“Sure an there’s nothin betther,” said Pat, “thin good honist spruce.
We can get sticks enough all around us, an have a camp that’ll be as
warrum, and as dhry, and as whowlsome as iver was, so we will.”

There was a hatchet which had been brought ashore in the chest, and had
already done good service in making the masts for the boat. This was now
made use of for the purpose of getting the necessary supply of poles
and brush for the camp. As there was only one hatchet, they could not
of course cut the brush quite so fast as was desirable; but Bruce cut
pretty quickly, and kept two of them well employed in carrying the poles
and brush to the grassy knoll. Phil and Pat did this work while Bart
occupied himself with the preparation of the ground for the erection of
the camp. He first selected a place that seemed suitable, where there
was a level space, about twelve feet square. Then he sharpened one of
the stakes, and cutting off a portion of it, about three feet long, he
hardened the point by burning it in the fire. He then marked out the
line of foundation, and made holes in the ground all around the
marked space, so that the stakes might be inserted without any delay.
Fortunately there were no stones to interfere with his work. The ground
was sandy, and he drove his stake in without any difficulty.

In this way they worked until noon, when Solomon called them to dinner.
All the boys were amazed at finding that the time had passed so
rapidly; and they saw by this a fresh and striking example of the
importance of having some pleasant occupation in life. It had been for
want of this, to a great extent, that their time had dragged along so
slowly, first during the famine on board the Antelope, and afterwards on
board the Petrel.

After dinner they examined their work, and concluded that the immense
heap of stakes and brushwood ought to suffice for the needs of any
ordinary camp; so now they proceeded to the important task of its
erection.

Bart had made a double row of holes around four sides, which were
intended to enclose the camp. These holes were about a foot apart, and
the rows were separated by a space of about three inches.

The next task was to prepare the stakes. These were sharpened, and cut
about seven feet long; and as fast as each one was prepared, it was
inserted as tightly as possible in one of the holes. Before long all the
stakes were set up, and the outline of the camp became dimly visible.
Bart and Phil now went off in search of roots, which might serve the
purpose of cords, to bind together those portions of the frame which
needed securing, leaving Bruce and Pat at work preparing other stakes,
the one with his hatchet, and the other with a knife. The roots were
found without any difficulty, most of them belonging to a species of
dwarf willow, or osier, and they were as flexible and as strong as the
stoutest cord.

The next thing was to take four long poles, and bind these along the
top of each row of stakes, so as to form the eaves of the camp. When all
these were secured, the framework was quite as strong as was necessary.

It now remained to form the roof. This was a matter of some difficulty,
but was at length successfully achieved. They had all had so much
practice in camp-building, that there was but little hesitation at any
stage of the proceedings. The way in which the roof was erected was
so ingenious that it deserves to be explained. They procured two stout
poles, about fifteen feet long, which they put at each end of the
structure, binding each firmly in its place, and leaving at the top a
fork, formed from the projecting stump of one of the severed branches.
Across these, and resting on these forks, they laid their ridge-pole,
and bound this firmly in its place. To make it still stronger, they
set up a third support in the middle of the camp, and thus made the
ridge-pole firm enough to bear the weight of any of them.

After this they proceeded to lay a row of poles along from the eaves to
the ridge-pole, and others again intersecting these. Thus they formed a
framework close enough and strong enough to admit of brush being placed
upon it, and this they proceeded to lay there after the manner of
thatch. The roof was pretty steep, and the spruce brush was so smooth,
and was laid on so compactly, that it could have resisted any ordinary
rain storm.

The remainder of their task was easy enough, the roof and frame having
been by far the most troublesome. One side was allotted to each, and
the work was interweaving spruce brush along the stakes. The space
was twelve feet long by six high. They began from the ground, and went
upward; and at length this was finished.

There was still an open space at each gable end, but it was their
intention to leave windows here. Poles were fastened in such a way that
a square space was left in each gable, which admitted an ample amount of
light, and the remainder was filled in with brush, like the sides. The
door, of course, had been attended to in the construction of the frame.

It had been hard work, but they were all adepts at the business, and
knew exactly how to do each thing. The consequence was, that by sundown
their camp was all completed, and only needed a few finishing touches,
which could very well be postponed till the following day.

They all sat down to their evening repast with the consciousness that
they had passed a well-spent day. Solomon had done his duty, as usual,
with a minute conscientiousness, and a painful care of the smallest
details, which was evinced by the exquisite flavor of the oyster stew.
The chief regret that they had was, that Arthur and Tom were not there
to share it.

After tea none of them ventured to move. They were more utterly fagged
out than they ever remembered to have been in the whole course of
their lives. There had, of course, been times when they had been more
exhausted, and Phil could tell a tale of weariness which might have
shamed his present feelings; but for the fatigue resulting from sheer
hard work, they never knew anything that had equalled this. Their hands
were all covered with blisters and balsam, while an additional air of
shabbiness had been given to them by new rents and tatters in their
clothes.

After sunset they noticed that the wind was stronger and the sea
rougher. The Petrel had moved also still farther in to the shore.

“Another night’ll finish her,” said Bruce, “if this wind continues.”

“I hope they’ll land,” said Bart, thinking of Arthur and Tom.

“Well, as to that,” said Bruce, “it seems to me that they won’t feel
inclined to sail all night; and they’ll land, if they only can; but the
trouble is, they may find themselves off some coast where no landing can
be made.”

“I dare say,” said Bart, thoughtfully, “that the coast is rough enough
all along, for most of the way; but then, fortunately, this wind is off
the land; so they’ll be all right. The danger would be if it was in any
other direction. As it is, the closer they keep in to the shore, the
safer they’ll be; and, in fact, the safest place for them would be close
in under the highest cliffs.”

“Well, that certainly is a consolation,” said Bruce, with a sigh of
relief. “I’ve been a good deal bothered all the afternoon, for I noticed
that the wind was rising. I rather think you’re in the right of it,
Bart, and I’m glad enough that you thought of that.”

“O, they’re all right,” said Phil, “as long as the wind is this way.”

“The throuble is,” said Pat, “they might have to go round some headland,
and thin they’d catch it, hot and heavy.”

“O, they wouldn’t try it if it was too rough,” said Bart. “They’d haul
up ashore, and wait till the wind went down. The fact is, they’ll do
just as any of us would do in the same circumstances. Neither Arthur nor
Tom is inclined to run any risks. They know that there’s no hurry, that
we’ve got lots of provisions. They’ve got a good supply, too, and so
they’ll take it easy. My opinion is, they both landed two or three hours
ago, hauled up their boat high and dry, picked up some drift wood, and
are at this moment sitting in front of a roaring fire, calmly discussing
what had best be done to-morrow.”

This discussion about the fate of their two absent friends made them
all feel quite at their ease once more, and soon after they went to bed
inside of the camp.

Here they found a pleasant surprise awaiting them, which had been
devised by Solomon. He had taken the fat out of some of the jars
of potted meat, and put it in two cups. In these he had ingeniously
arranged floating wicks, and lighted them. So now, as the boys entered,
they were surprised at a cheerful glow inside. At first they were
alarmed, and thought the camp was on fire; but a second look showed them
the truth.

Their camp now seemed very cheerful indeed. The ground was quite dry,
and each one rolled himself up in his blanket, which formed their only
preparation for bed. Here, reclining on the soft grass, with the green
walls of their camp encircling them, they chatted pleasantly for a short
time, and at length, one by one, dropped off into sound and refreshing
slumbers.

On awaking they all hurried forth. They found that the wind had
increased, and must have been increasing all night. Close in under
the shore the water was smooth enough, but a mile outside it began
to roughen, and a white line of breakers shone along the base of the
headland.

But it was the Petrel that now engaged all their attention. She had
been forced in to within a stone’s throw of the shore, and had evidently
touched bottom, for she lay a little over on one side. She had reached
a place where the sea felt the effect of the wind, and the waves broke
over her decks. She rose and fell occasionally, with a slow, heavy
movement, at the force of the waves that beat upon her. The shore
immediately opposite the place where she had grounded was all white with
foam, and it seemed as if the bottom where she touched might be strewn
with rough, jagged rocks.

Hard indeed was the resting-place to which the Petrel had come after so
long a wandering!

The boys looked on in silence. They did not exactly lament the fate
which seemed to impend over her, but, at the same time, they felt as
though, in some way, it might be a disaster to themselves. For the
Petrel, as long as she had floated, had served, at least, as a sort of
signal by which any passing vessel might be attracted; whereas, if she
were destroyed, their chance of rescue in that way grew less. They also
felt that the large store of provisions and supplies on board might yet
be needed; and in case of the unsuccessful return of Arthur and Tom,
they might need to visit her once more. But now all hope of this
seemed at an end. In this half-developed regret at her fate, there was,
however, no thought of salvage; that subject was forgotten.

After breakfast their attention was once more directed to the Petrel.
Any further operations in the camp had now to be postponed, for the
attractions of the imperilled ship were too engrossing to admit of
lesser thoughts.

“I say, boys,” said Bruce, “why can’t we try to get nearer? We can work
our way along at the top of the bank, I should think.”

“Of course we can,” said Bart. “At any rate, it’s not very far.”

“It won’t be worse than the upper part of that miserable brook,” said
Phil.

“Sure an I’d go on me hands and knees all the way, so I would, to git
nearer to her,” said Pat.

The coast that ran along terminated in the headland, between which and
the cove it consisted of steep banks, at first wooded, and rough cliffs.
The top of the bank all along was covered with trees, and seemed to
offer no greater difficulties than any other part of the woods. The
headland itself seemed over a mile away, and the Petrel was some
distance inside of this.

They thus resolved to go, and set forth at once.

“Be back in time for dinna,” said Solomon, as they climbed up the steep
bank to get to the top..

“O, yes,” was the reply, as they vanished into the woods.

It was decidedly rough walking. The ground was uneven, rising into
mounds and depressed into hollows. Sometimes fallen trees lay before
them; at other times underbrush so dense and so stubborn that a way
could only be forced through with the most persevering effort. Besides,
it was absolutely necessary to keep as near as possible to the edge of
the cliff, for they all knew how easily they might be lost, if they once
ventured out of sight of it. So they kept on, close by the brink,
even though places occasionally appeared which seemed much easier to
traverse.

At length they reached the place immediately opposite the Petrel. She
lay within easy stone’s throw. Before them the cliff went down with
rough, jagged sides, and the shore at its foot was covered with masses
of rock that had fallen there from the precipice. It was not more than
sixty or seventy feet down. On this elevation, and at this distance out,
they felt the full force of the blast.

The Petrel had certainly grounded, and it was evident to them that the
bottom was rough and irregular. She lay over on her side, her stern
nearest to the shore. The bows were sunk under to the depth of about
a foot, while the stern rose a little. She swayed backward and forward
with a regular motion, and there was a dull, gringing, creaking noise,
that came from her to their ears, and was plainly discernible through
the noise of the surf on the rocks below. The sea at this point was
quite heavy, and rolled over and over the doomed ship. The long waves
came sweeping up at successive intervals, and at every stroke the Petrel
would yield, and then slowly struggle back.

“I wonder how long she can stand this sort of thing,” said Phil.

“Not long, I should think,” said Bart; “but after all, the wind isn’t
very strong just yet, and if there are no rocks under her, she may hold
out some time.”

“If this wind grows to a gale, she’s done for.”

“But then it may not get any worse, and if it goes down, I’d undertake
to swim on board.”

“O, of course, if it gets smooth.”

“What do you say to going out to the point?” said Bruce.

“O, yes, let’s go.”

The point was not far away, and the woods were thinner. They reached
it without much difficulty. Standing here an extensive scene came upon
their view.

On the left, the coast line ran on for a few miles, rough and rugged
cliffs, with a crest of stunted trees. On the right, the coast line was
what they had already seen. In front was the boundless sea, covered with
foaming waves. At their feet the surf thundered in a line of foam, and
tossed its spray high on the air.

“I don’t altogether like the look of things,” said Bruce, after a long
and silent gaze upon the sea and the rough coast in the west.

“O, don’t fret,” said Bart. “Look, Bruce, close in to the shore under
the cliffs: why, it’s smooth enough there to paddle a raft in. They’ll
keep close in to the shore, and land whenever they want to.”

“Only they might try to round a headland like that,” said Bruce,
pointing to a cliff which terminated the view towards the left, at the
base of which there was a line of white foam; “and if they did,” he
added, “I’m afraid neither Arthur nor Tom--”

He stopped abruptly, leaving the sentence unfinished.



XXI.

_The Expedition and the Voyagers.--Speculations.--Dinner followed by
a Change of Wind.--A Squall.--Shipping a Sea.--Nearer the Shore.--An
iron-bound Coast.--Rounding the Headland.--Startling Sight.--The Column
of Smoke.--A Man on the Beach.--The shipwrecked Stranger.--Astonishing
Disclosures.--Where are we?--The mournful Truth.--Anticosti!--Arthur
contains his Soul.--The Boys and the Boat both hauled up.--The
Expedition ends._


ARTHUR and Tom, on rounding the headland, kept on their course,
following the line of the shore. The water was smooth, and the breeze
continued moderate, yet fair. The sail worked well, the boat glided
smoothly through the water, and they slipped on past the shore at a rate
which was most gratifying to both of them. They kept away about a mile
from the land, a distance which seemed to them to allow of a ready
resort there in case of need, while at the same time it was far enough
out to get the full benefit of the breeze, and maintain a sufficiently
straight course.

The coast was most forbidding. Rugged cliffs arose, or rocky, sterile
banks, crested with stunted spruce. Hour after hour passed by, and mile
after mile of the coast slipped away behind them, but not the slightest
sign appeared of human habitation or of human life; nothing but the same
iron-bound shore, and the same unbroken solitude.

From time to time they came in sight of places which were more inviting.
Sometimes there were shelving beaches, which appeared to be covered with
sand or pebbles; at other times they saw coves, whose aspect was less
forbidding than that of the bolder coast line; and on one occasion there
was a small harbor, which, in comparison with the rest of the country,
was decidedly inviting, and, if their errand had been less pressing,
they would certainly have entered it, and explored the surrounding
region. But, as it was, they passed on, noticing as they passed that
here, as everywhere else, there was not a field, not a pasture, not a
clearing; that there were no signs of cattle or of man.

So passed the hours of the morning.

The sun attained its meridian, and the two voyagers thought of dinner.
The provident care of Solomon had furnished them with everything that
could be desired on such a trip as this, and the repast was not only
abundant, but attractive.

“I wonder what speed we have been making,” said Arthur.

“Five miles, I should think,” said Tom, “at least.”

“So should I; but, then, we can’t be certain. There may be currents, or
we may be deceived in our estimate. Let’s say four, and then we’ll feel
certain. It’s after twelve now; we left at six; that’s six hours.”

“Four miles an hour--little enough,” said Tom. “Well, that’s twenty-four
miles. If this sort of thing can only be kept up, we’ll get to St.
Pierre in no time.”

“That’s the very thing,” said Arthur,--“if it can only be kept up. But
I’m afraid it’s a little too good to last.”

“At any rate,” said Tom, cheerily, “we’ll make the best of it while we
can.”

Arthur’s forebodings, though not based upon any ground of alarm, were,
however, actually justified by the event, and not very long after. For
scarcely had they finished their repast, when they became aware of
a very serious increase in the wind. A series of puffs, which almost
amounted to squalls, came down, and in a very short time the sea began
to rise to a very unpleasant extent.

“We’ll have to keep in closer,” said Arthur.

“Yes,” said Tom, “fortunately the wind’s off the land, and, if we can
get in nearer, we’ll be all right.”

But it was not so easy to get in nearer. Tom, however, took a paddle,
while Arthur held the boat as close to the wind as possible, and thus,
in process of time, they drew her in far enough to get into smoother
water. This was not accomplished without some trifling casualties:
several waves dashed their spray into the boat, and they shipped one
sea which was heavy enough to drench them both, and leave as much as
a barrel full of salt water behind. This showed them what they might
expect if they dared to keep too far away from the land.

They were now close in to the shore, and they proceeded onward slowly,
but securely. It was not quite equal to their previous progress, but it
was free from danger and inconvenience.

“I’m afraid,” said Tom, “that we’re going to have a turn of luck.”

“O, we’re doing well enough,” said Arthur.

“Yes, but we’ll be sure to come to some headland, and there we’ll stick,
for we shan’t be able to round it. This boat can’t stand any sea.”

“Well, we’ll wait till the time comes,” said Arthur, “and not fret till
then.”

“It’s lucky for us,” said Tom, “that the wind’s the way it is. If that
was a lee shore, we’d be done for.”

“Well, if the wind had been any other way we shouldn’t have started,
you know,” said Arthur, “and if it changes we’ll go ashore and haul
up--that’s all.”

“We couldn’t find a landing-place just here very easily. I don’t think I
ever saw a more rascally place in my life.”

“It’s rather rough, I must confess,” said Arthur, “but we’ll find a
better place before long.”

They were within an eighth of a mile from the land. It rose there in
high, rocky cliffs, crested, as usual, with stunted trees, and fragments
of rock at its base.

“This seems to run on for a long way ahead,” said Tom.

“Yes,” said Arthur, “but I shouldn’t wonder if behind that point ahead
the land got better. It stands to reason that these cliffs can’t extend
forever. There must be places here and there where gullies occur--places
where brooks run down, you know.”

“O, I dare say; but I only hope we may get to some such a place before
the wind changes.”

“Why, is the wind going to change?”

“I don’t know. I merely supposed a case.”

“O, I dare say the wind’ll keep in this direction for ever so long yet.”

They sailed along slowly under these cliffs for about a couple of miles,
and at length reached the point of which Arthur had spoken. They passed
this, full of curiosity as to what lay beyond. They saw that the land
here receded for a mile or two,--very gradually, however,--while
several miles ahead it projected itself once more into the sea, and was
terminated by a precipitous headland. These receding shores showed a
different appearance from that of the cliffs which they had just
been passing. They were wooded down to the water’s edge, which they
approached by a gentle declivity, while about two miles ahead they
disclosed a wide area where there were no trees at all.

Whether this was cultivated ground, cleared ground, or pasture, they
could not very well make out; but they had not caught sight of it before
they saw something which at once riveted their attention.

It was a column of smoke!

“Hurrah!” cried Tom. “We’ve come to a settlement at last. Well, it’s
about time. Hurrah! We’re all right now.”

“Yes,” said Arthur, “there must be some life about--though I can’t see
any sign of any settlement.”

“O, there must be a settlement somewhere about. We can’t see it yet.”

“There certainly must be people, for there is the smoke.”

“The settlement is farther back; away from the shore.”

“Yes, or perhaps behind that headland. I dare say there’s a harbor
there, and a fishing settlement. This may be some solitary house.”

“Solitary or not, it’s all the same to us. It shows us that we have come
near to human beings again.”

A straight course towards the place where the smoke arose would have
drawn them into rough water; so they hugged the shore, and followed its
curve, in order to avoid the danger. For a time the smoke was concealed
from view; but at length, as they went on, it came into sight again, and
appeared twice as near as when they had first seen it. Here they saw a
beach, which ran away for a long distance; and they noticed now that the
smoke itself seemed to rise from a point on the beach about a mile away.

“That’s queer,” said Tom. “The smoke can’t be from a house at all.”

“No, some one has been making a fire on the beach. But it’s all the
same. It shows that people are living hereabouts, and that’s all we
want.”

“Well, we’ll soon know.”

“Tom!”

“What?”

“I should laugh if this place were to turn out to be Gaspé, after all.”

“O, there’s no doubt about the place. It must be Newfoundland.”

“Hallo!”

This exclamation came from Arthur. He said no more, but pointed in
silence, while Tom looked eagerly in that direction.

On the beach, about a quarter of a mile away, they saw a moving figure.
It was a man. He was running along with irregular steps, waving his
arms in the air in a wild way, and evidently trying to attract their
attention.

They at once headed the boat in nearer to the shore, so as to meet him
as soon as possible. As they neared the shore the man neared them. The
beach was smooth, and his staggering, irregular steps could not have
been caused by the rough ground, while his wild gesticulations seemed
unaccountable.

“He must be drunk,” said Tom.

Arthur said nothing.

The boat grounded, and the next moment the man reached the spot. No
sooner had he come up to them than he fell on his knees, and, grasping
the bows of the boat, bowed his head, and sobbed convulsively.

They saw, as he came up, that he was pale and emaciated. He was panting
heavily from his exertions. He wore a flannel shirt and canvas trousers.
He looked like a common sailor from some ship, and not at all like a
fisherman or farmer. The boys stared at him without saying one single
word.

At length the man rose and looked at them with a searching and curious
gaze.

“A couple o? youngsters,” said he at last, as though speaking to
himself. “Queer, too--youngsters! Say, boys, is your ship near by?”

“Not very.”

“Where do you come from?”

“O, from over there,” said Arthur. “The fact is, we got ashore.”

“Got ashore!”

“Yes; and we’ve come here to look up some settlement.”

“Got ashore! settlement!” said the man.

“Yes,” said Arthur. “And we’d like to go, as soon as possible, to the
nearest settlement. We want to engage a schooner to go back with us and
get our friends.”

At this the man stared at them for a few moments in a wild way, and then
burst forth into laughter so strange and so wild that both the boys felt
uncomfortable. Tom began to think that he was not drunk, but insane, and
felt sorry that they had allowed the boat to touch the shore.

Suddenly the man stopped, and looked at them with a totally different
expression. He looked at them fixedly, and there was on his face a
certain pity and commiseration which struck them forcibly.

“Boys,” said he at length, in a gentle voice, “you’re on the lookout for
a settlement, are you?”

“Yes.”

“Well, look at me. Now look at all this country. Well, I’m the only
settler here. I’m the only settler you’ll ever find here, if you sail a
hundred years. Do you know where you’ve got to?”

“Why, we thought it was Newfoundland,” said Tom.

“Or Gaspé,” said Arthur.

The man looked at them with a solemn face for some time, and said not a
word.

“Poor boys! poor boys!” he murmured at last; “p’raps they was worse
off’n I was. An air you all alone, boys?”

“No; we’ve left our friends some, miles back.”

“O, an you thought you was on Newfoundland coast, or Gaspé, an you goes
off to hunt for help, an you leaves your friends. Well, now, have they
got lots to eat?”

“O, yes.”

“Lots?” repeated the man, with some energy. “Lots, now, railly?”

“Plenty--enough to last them for a year.”

The man sighed.

“An so you comes off for help. Why did they let you youngsters go? Why
didn’t the men go?”

“O, we’re all boys,” said Tom.

“Well, that’s queer, too.”

“A kind of pleasure party,” said Arthur.

The man shook his head mournfully.

“An so you thinks you’ve got onto Newfoundland or Gaspé,” he said.

“Yes. Why? Where are we? Can you tell us? And who are you? and what are
you doing here?”

Tom said this.

“Me?” said the man. “Look at me. Can’t you see what I be? Do I look
like a gentleman farmer? Is this the country for a emigrant? Me!” he
repeated, with a bitter laugh. “Poor boys! poor boys! Why, I’m jest like
you. I’m ship-wracked--on’y I knows where I be, an that’s more’n you do,
it seems.”

“Shipwrecked!” exclaimed Tom.

“Yes, wracked--the worst sort; an this here country--so you think it’s
Newfoundland or Gaspé? Well--it ain’t either.”

“What is it?”

“The worst place in the world--that’s what it is; a place where there
ain’t no hope, and there ain’t no life. It’s only death that a man can
find here.”

“What do you mean?” asked Tom. “Tell us what place it is.”

The man looked at them both, one after the other, with a solemn face.

“I been ship wracked,” said he, “an I been here more’n a fortnight; an
this here place is--Anticosti!”

“Anticosti!” exclaimed both the boys, exchanging glances of horror,
while a feeling of despair came over them.

“Yes,” said the man, “this here country’s Anticosti--un woe to the poor
wretch that’s cast ashore here. For there ain’t no life here, an there
ain’t no hope, an there ain’t no food; an the only thing a man can do is
to lie down an die as fast as he can.”

A long silence followed. The boys felt utterly overwhelmed. They had
all heard enough about Anticosti to make the name one of dread, and to
surround it with the darkest gloom and the most formidable terrors.

“We thought,” said Arthur, at length, to the man, who seemed to be
lost in his own thoughts, “we supposed that we were on the coast of
Newfoundland, somewhere between Cape Ray and Fortune’s Bay; so we
started off to sail along the coast in search of a settlement, and if we
couldn’t find any we intended to go to St. Pierre.”

“This is Anticosti,” said the man.

“Very well,” said Arthur, gravely, “we’ll suppose it is. So much the
more need for us to help our friends. You appear to have had a hard time
of it; but you’re a sailor, and we are not. You can help us. It seems
to me that you can do a great deal for us. I think we had better keep to
our plan, and try to reach the nearest settlement. If it is St. Pierre,
or the Bay of Islands, or any other place, perhaps you can tell us.
At any rate, you can sail the boat, and we can’t. We’ve got lots of
provisions here; so you’d better come with us, and help us to reach some
place where we can get assistance for our friends.”

While Arthur was saying this, the man stared at him most intently.

“Well,” said he at last, as Arthur ceased, “you’re about the pluckiest
lot in the way of boys that I’ve come across for some time. All I can
say is, you needn’t beat round the bush with me. You’ve saved my life,
and so you’ll find that Dick Bailey is yours till death. All you’ve got
to do, boys, is to tell what you want done, and I’ll do it--if it can be
done. But fust and foremost, let me tell you ’tain’t no use tryin to
get any further in that there boat this day, for the wind’s risin, and
you’d best come ashore till it blows over. We’ll take the boat up high
and dry out of harm’s way, and then we can talk over what we’d best do.”

“Can’t we go any farther to-day?” asked Arthur, in a disappointed tone.

“No,” said Bailey,--“no, you can’t go either for’ard or back’ard, for
it’s a head wind one way, and the other way is barred by that there
pint. So, as I said afore, you’d better land. We’ll draw the boat up
high an dry out of harm’s way, and we’ll wait till to-morrer. By that
time there’ll be a change for the better.”

Upon this Arthur and Tom got out, and the three drew the boat up as far
as they could upon the beach.

“There,” said Bailey, “she’s out of harm’s way, unless a sou’-wester
comes; an if it does, we can move her up further. But there ain’t no
chance of that. And now, boys, hain’t you got something to give a poor
feller to eat that’s been starvin for a fortnight?”

Upon this appeal Arthur and Tom at once laid open all their stores,
producing biscuit, ham, potted meats, and all the other articles of food
which comprised their sea stores.

And the shipwrecked Bailey ate ravenously; ate, in fact, as though he
would never be satisfied.

“I ain’t had,” said he, as soon as he found time to speak in the
intervals of eating,--“I ain’t had not to say a reg’lar meal for three
weeks, which accounts for my present ravenosity, an hopin you’ll excuse
it, young gents.”



XXII.

_Bailey’s Den.--The Fire.--The blazing Beacon.--Shell Fish.--Bailey
begins his Narrative.--Astonishing Disclosure.--Mutual Explanations.
--The Story of Bailey.--The Crank Ship.--Springing aleak.--The mutinous
Crew.--A Storm.--Taking to the Boats.--The Captain sticks to his
Ship.--Driving before the Wind.--Cast ashore.--How to kindle a
Fire.--Plans for the Future.--The Evening Repast.--The insatiable
Appetite of a half starved Man.--Asleep in Bailey’s Den._


AT length Bailey’s hunger seemed somewhat appeased. “I’m a thinkin,”
 said he, “as how we’d better take these here victuals to some place
where it’ll be more under cover, and handy for us about tea time. If
you like, I’ll take them to my den.”

“But can’t we roll it farther up? This barrel’s too heavy to take any
distance.”

“Well, I don’ know but what you’re more’n half right. I didn’t think of
the bar’l. Leastways, we can put it further up, out of the reach of any
surf, and cover it with the sail.”

“We can take with us as much as we may be likely to want,” said Arthur.

“Wal,” said the man, “there ain’t no fear of anybody stealin the things
here; and as the wind ain’t likely to turn yet a while, I don’t s’pose
there’ll be any danger of surf.”

After a few further precautions, so as to secure the boat and the
contents from any possible harm, Bailey set off to show the boys his
“den.” They walked along the beach for about half a mile, and then
stopped at a place where a high rock jutted out. Behind this there was
a recess about twenty feet above the beach, formed by a fissure in the
rock. A huge mass overhead shut it in, and formed a sort of roof; while
the lower portion had been filled up by crumbled fragments. Over this
rough floor Bailey had spread spruce brush, ferns, and mosses, so that
it was soft enough to lie down on. The whole recess was about eight feet
deep, six feet wide, and six feet high. Immediately outside a fire was
burning, and from this came the smoke which had first attracted their
attention.

“I keep that there burnin,” said Bailey, “night and day, an I’ve kept
it a burnin for the last fortnight. There’s drift-wood enough along the
beach here, though every day I have to go further away to get it. Wal,
there’s wood enough on the island, if it comes to that, only ‘tain’t
easy gittin it up in the woods.”

The boys looked around with deep interest, and with varied feelings.
They saw outside, by the fire, heaps of shells, which seemed to have
been burned.

“Thar,” said Bailey, “them’s all I’ve had to eat, every bite, since I
landed here. They do to keep body and soul together, but they ain’t much
account. I’d give a bushel any day for one good biscuit. What I’ve jest
eat seems to have made a man of me.”

The boys were silent for some time, and at length Arthur asked,--

“How did you happen to get here?”

“Wal, I’ll tell you all about it,” said Bailey.

“I’ll begin at the beginnin. Wal, you see, about five weeks ago I
shipped aboard the Petrel, at Quebec--”

“The what?” cried Arthur and Tom, in the greatest wonder and excitement.

“The ship Petrel,” said Bailey. “Why, what of her?”

“The Petrel!” cried Arthur. “What, the ship Petrel, of Liverpool-?”

“That there’s the identical craft.”

“And--and--and,” stammered Tom, in his excitement, “was--was her
captain’s name Henry Hall? and--and was she loaded with timber?”

“And didn’t she get water-logged?” said Arthur.

“Yes, and didn’t the captain and crew all leave her?”

Bailey stared at the boys with astonishment fully equal to their own.

“You seem to know all about her,” said he, slowly; “and how you larned
all that beats me.”

“Why, that’s the very ship that we got wrecked on, too,” said Arthur.

“Yes,” said Tom; “we were sailing about, and found her adrift, and all
as comfortable as possible.”

“We tried to be salvors,” said Arthur; “and we were left on board to
take care of her while our captain went off in the schooner for help.”

“And he anchored her, and the anchor didn’t hold,” said Tom.

“And we drifted all about the gulf,” continued Arthur, “and were out
in the most horrible gales that ever were, till finally we got ashore
here.” The boys poured out this information in the most rapid manner
possible upon the astounded Bailey, who now seemed fairly struck dumb.

“You--in the Petrel!” he exclaimed, at length, in slow and perplexed
tones. “You--you adrift in that water-logged craft! and thrown by that
there ship here on Anticosti!”

“Yes,” said Arthur, briskly, “that’s just it.” Bailey raised his hand
slowly to his head, and scratched it solemnly, raising his eyes at the
same time, and fixing them upon empty space.

“These here two young coves in the Petrel! and hev ashore on Anticosti!”
 he murmured.

“Yes, yes,” said Arthur; “and now tell us all about how you got here.”

Bailey started, and looked at each of them silently and solemnly; then
he looked away, as before.

“Wal,” said he, at last, “this here--doos--beat--my--grandmother! Wal,
I’ll tell my story, an then I’ll listen to yourn, an we’ll compare
notes, an in that way we’ll grad’ly get the hang of it; for jest now, as
things is, I’m dumfounded.

“Wal,” continued Bailey, after a pause, “I’ll start afresh. I shipped
then, as I was a sayin, as able seaman, aboard the Petrel. She was
loaded down deep with timber, an badly loaded, too, for as she lay in
the stream at Quebec, she had a list ever so far over.

“I don’t think I was overly sober when I was took on board, an I don’t
think any of the other men was overly sober, neither; at any rate, the
first thing I knows, I finds myself thirty mile below Quebec, aboard the
Petrel, that had a list to one side that would almost let a man foot it
up her masts.

“The first thing we all does, we all begins to kick up a dust. The mate
he swears we ain’t goin to sail the ship. Crank? Why, crank ain’t the
word! Wal, the captain he tells us we’re gettin up mutiny, and warns us.
And we tells him to look at the ship.

“Wal, things goes on somehow, and we gets down the river further, we
grumblin all the way and the mate a swearin. One night she drifts nigh
to the shore and touches. We gets her off somehow; but she got a bad
sprain, and begins to leak.

“Wal, we all growls and grumbles, and won’t touch the pumps; and the
captain he threatens, and the mate he rows and swears, and the captain
he vows, leak or no leak, he’ll put that there ship across the Atlantic.
At last things grows worse, and the mate one day puts a couple of us in
the bilboes.

“Wal, that only makes things worse; and by that time we was in the gulf,
and rough weather comes on, and none of us would touch a line. So the
captain he knocks under, and lets the men go, and promises us a glass
of grog all round if we’ll bear a hand at the pumps. But we insists
on putting the deck-load overboard first. The captain wouldn’t do it,
though, for ever so long; till at last the wind blew a gale, and the
cranky vessel plunged under so, and strained and twisted so, that at
last he was glad enough to do it of his own accord. So we all goes to
work in the midst of that there gale, and puts every stick over. They
wasn’t much--only deals, and easy handled. It was timber below, and if
it had been timber on deck, we couldn’t have done it nohow.

“Wal, that gale went on, and another followed, and we all pumped away
for dear life, but didn’t do much. It had got to be a little too late;
and what with the first touch on the rocks, and the straining and
twisting afterwards, the leak got to be a little the biggest I ever did
see.

“So it went from bad to worse. We all worked at last like the old boy.
No need then for the captain to encourage us. We worked for dear
life without bein told. But the leak gained steadily, and the storm
increased. At last every rag of sail was blown off, and the ship was
water-logged, and we all had to take refuge in the riggin. We saw what
was comin in time to get the boats up out of harm’s way, for the water
was rollin over the deck so that you couldn’t tell which was the ship
and which was the sea. We were for puttin off and abandonin of her; but
the captain he swore she never could sink, bein timber-laden, and said
the storm would soon blow over, and we’d put into Miramichi. So we hung
on as long as we could.

“At last the vessel strained so that we all was sure and certain that
she was goin to pieces; so we determined to save ourselves; so we got
down the long-boat, and managed, one by one, to get into her as she
floated to leeward, and then begged the captain and mate to follow. The
mate seemed half inclined, but the captain was obstinate. He swore he
would stick to the ship, and save her yet. He begged us to come back,
and told us she would float till doomsday. But we swore she was break-in
up, and told him she couldn’t hang together one day more.

“The worst of it was, all this time we didn’t know where we was. There
was fog and heavy-gales, and the captain hadn’t taken no reckonin for
weeks. We wanted to git off the wreck before she got onto the rocks. As
for the captain and mate, they had the cutter, and a couple of the men
staid behind to take off the cutter, and the captain and mate, too, if
they should come to their senses, leastways the mate. And what became of
them four I hain’t no idee.

“Wal, then we dropped off, and went away in the long-boat. We hadn’t
no idee where we was, and couldn’t tell the pints of the compass. We
thought the best thing would be to run before the wind, since we didn’t
know any better way, and we knew we was somewhere in the Gulf of St.
Lawrence, and would fetch up at last somewheres. So we let her run, and
kept a sharp lookout, or tried to, though ’twan’t no use at night,
for what with the darkness and the fog, the nights was that dark you
couldn’t see the nose before your face. Well, that’s all. The only thing
more that I know is this--that one night I was sound asleep, and was
waked up by a tremenjous yell, and found myself in the water. The boat
had been thrown on rocks or surf, and had capsized. I struggled, and at
last found bottom, and rushed blindly along, I couldn’t see where, till
I got to dry ground. And it was this here beach; and afterwards, as
I found out how the wind was blowin, and put this an that together, I
concluded that this was Anticosti, and now I know it.”

So ended Bailey’s narrative. A long conversation followed. The boys were
anxious to know why he felt so sure that it was Anticosti, and Bailey
described his theory of the position of the Petrel at the time he left
her, and the course which the boat must have taken in such a wind. He
also felt sure, from the character of the coast and the country, that
it was this place, and no other. Then the boys gave a minute account
of their own adventures. Bailey was most struck by the captain’s paper
found in the bottle.

“Wal,” said he, “he stood it as long as he could; but I dar say, arter
we cleared out, he begun to feel a little shaky. And that thar ship did
shake herself up in a way that beat everythin I ever see in all my born
days. I was as sure that she was breakin up as I was of my own name. So
the captain he thought, no doubt, that it wan’t wuth while to die for
the sake of an old timber ship, or p’raps the mate and the sailors
pressed him, and so off he goes; or p’raps some passing vessel hove in
sight, and took him off. But only think of you youngsters happenin on
board, and goin through the same identical fortin that I went
through, and then us meetin this way in Anticosti! It
doos--beat--my--grandmother! It--doos--railly.”

The question now arose what was best to be done. Of course the fact that
this was Anticosti changed the whole state of things.

“You see if this was railly Newfoundland,” said Bailey, “we might sail
east, and event’ly git to some settlement; but if we try that now, we’ll
have to go all along past the worst coast in the world, and then we’d
get to East Pint; and what then? Why, the gulf. So we’ve got to turn
about, and go back in the other direction.”

“What? West?”...

“Yes, away west, or sou’-west. I’ve heard tell of some settlement at
West Pint, the other end of the island; but I hain’t no idee whether
it’s kep up yet or not. At any rate, there’s Gaspé. ‘Tain’t far off. We
can crawl along the shore, and then cut across to Gaspé, and get help.”

“But we’ll go back first to where we left the boys.”

“Course, that’s the first thing; and then your vyge ends, and we’ve got
to arrange a fresh one.”

“Well, can we start to-day?” asked Tom.

“To-day? No, sir! Look at me! Why, I’d give anythin to git away from
this here place! Think of me here for two long weeks, livin on shell
fish, pacin up and down the beach, and keepin my signal-fire a burnin
all the time, and feelin myself every day gradooly growin ravin mad!
Think what I’ve ben an suffered here! Yet I wouldn’t leave to-day,
’cos it’s goin to blow harder, and that there cockle-shell don’t do to
beat against a wind like this.”

“But can’t we row?”

“You hain’t got no oars.”

“There are those in the boat.”

“Them things! Them’s poles, or paddles; do to push the boat a little way
through smooth water, but not with the wind this way. No; we’ve got to
wait.”

Arthur and Tom both felt the force of this, and urged the point no
longer.

“I don’t see,” said Arthur, “how you managed to light a fire.”

“O, with my jackknife and a bit of flint,” said Bailey. “No trouble to
get flint hereabouts. I got some cotton wool out of the paddin of my
collar, and some dry moss, and coaxed some sparks into a blaze. O, you
give me a knife, and I’ll draw fire out of any stone anywhars. The night
I was drove ashore, I crept somewhar under the cliff, and staid there
till mornin, and in the mornin the first thing I doos is to kindle a
fire. I found the drift-wood, and this seemed to be the best place. Sea
shells isn’t the best fare in the world, and sick am I of all sorts and
kinds of shell fish; but glad was I when I lit on them that first day,
when I walked about nearly starved. If it hadn’t ben for them thar
shells it would ha’ ben all over with me. That’s so. And this here
den wasn’t a bad place, considerin. In fact, I ben a lucky man in some
things, seein that this is Anticosti, and fust and foremost, that I got
off with my life; for every one of the rest was drownded, and I’ve never
seen even a splinter of the boat since.”

The recollection of this gloomy event reduced Bailey for a time to
silence.

The afternoon passed away. The wind increased. The sea grew rougher, and
every hour served to increase the impossibility of a return that day.
But the boys had already resigned themselves to this, and therefore
awaited the evening, and looked forward to the night with calmness and
in patience.

At sunset the evening repast was spread out, and Bailey showed his usual
ravenous appetite.

“’Pears to me, boys,” said he, apologetically, “jest as if I couldn’t
ever git enough to eat again. You’ll have to make allowances for a man
as has been starvin for three weeks.”

After tea they made their preparations for the night. First they went
to see that the boat was safe, and to make doubly sure, they hauled her
farther up the beach. Then they collected a quantity of drift-wood, with
which they replenished their fire.

“Thar,” said Bailey, “if so be as any vessel does pass by, they’ll be
sure to see this here light, and they’ll know precious well as how some
unfortunate coves is shipwrecked here, and is a signalin for help. But,
misfortunately, I ben a lookin for-ard every night for help, and it
never would come.”

“It was your signal that drew us in,” said Arthur. “It was a success by
day, at any rate.”

They talked and meditated for another hour or so, and watched the
blazing flames till they were tired.

Then they all spread themselves out in Bailey’s “den,” and fell asleep.



XXIII.

_The Denizens of Bailey’s Den--Morning.--A Sail upon the Surface of the
Sea.--The Spyglass.--Exciting Discovery to the lost Ones.--The strange
Schooner.--Exchange of Signals.--The Excitement increases.--The Schooner
draws nearer.--New Signals.--They take to the Boat.--Out to Sea.--Rough
Water.--Another Sail.--A strange Suspicion.--Old Friends.--Pleasant
Greetings.--Mrs. Corbet.--Obloquy heaped upon the Antelope and its
venerable Commander.--Away to the Rescue._


BAILEY’S den was a particularly well sheltered recess in the rock, open
to no wind, except a sou’-wester. The wind that blew while Bailey and
his guests slumbered inside, came from the north-west, and therefore the
sleepers knew nothing of it. Out in the sea, indeed, the waters felt
its power, and the foaming waves on the following morning told them the
story of the night; but during that night they knew nothing at all about
it. Far down the side of the cliff, under the rocky precipice, out of
the way of the wind, the occupants of Bailey’s den slumbered on the soft
spruce brush and softer moss. All night long the fire burned outside,
for Bailey had piled up the fuel generously, yet carefully, and had so
arranged it, by making alternate layers of green wood and dry, that it
would burn all night long, and yet send forth sufficient flame to be
visible at sea.

Morning came, and the wind and sea had gone down. Upon rising, the
denizens of Bailey’s den looked forth upon the water, and saw that it
was very much the same as it had been on the preceding day. At this
Arthur and Tom shook their heads, but Bailey was sanguine, and spoke
encouragingly.

“The wind has hauled round a pint or two,” said he, “and I shouldn’t
wonder if it was to come round a little more; and if so, it’ll be
all right for us. A moderate north or north-east wind’ll be jest the
cheese.”

They now replenished the fire, after which they sat down to their
breakfast.

“So you got all this out of the Petrel,” said Bailey. “Well, only
think! Why, what gormandizers them captains an mates in the cabin must
be--feedin on potted meats! an only think what we eats before the mast!
Hard tack, salt junk, an dish-water, that’s what we eats before the
mast; but aft, my gentlemen won’t be satisfied with nothin less than
Yorkshire game pie, and Oxford sassage--and, what’s this?--Bolony
sassage, an all them other condyments what you’ve got done up in them
there tin pots. Wall, they’re precious good eatin on a desert island,
whatever they be in a ship’s cabin, only they seem most too good for the
likes of me.”

“You?” said Arthur. “Why, you have a better right to them than we have;
for we haven’t any right at all. And, as to the Petrel, if you can
manage to save her, I hereby agree to deliver up and surrender to you.
all my right, title, and interest in and to any part or portion of the
so-called salvage.”

“And I too,” said Tom, chiming in with the utmost gravity; “and hereby
make known by these presents, to all whom it may concern, and anything
to the contrary hereof in any wise notwithstanding.”

Bailey was evidently much impressed by these legal formulas. He bowed
very gravely.

“Your servant, young gents, and my ’umble dooty to both of you; but,
at the same time, I don’t want any more’n fair an honest wages, and, if
so be as you ain’t in the position to give it, why, well and good, says
I; but, if so be as you can, why, I’ll take what’s fair, and right, and
lawful, and no more--”

But at this point this interesting conversation was abruptly terminated
by a loud cry from Tom. His eyes were fixed upon the sea, and were
fascinated by something there.

“A sail! a sail!” he cried. “A sail! O, a sail! Look, look, look!”

Arthur and Bailey sprang to their feet, and looked in the direction
where Tom was pointing. Tom seized the spy-glass, wrhich they had
brought into the den, and examined more closely, while Arthur and Bailey
watched the distant sea.

And there, on the distant sea, several miles away, a sail appeared,
unmistakably. It was a schooner, and she was not more than five miles
away.

“She’s heading away from us,” said Tom; “she’s going away, out to sea.”

“Don’t be too hasty,” said Bailey; “she may p’raps be only beatin up
agin this here wrind. It’s a head wind for her.”

“I wish it may turn out so,” said Tom.

They now watched in silence for some time longer. The schooner held
on her way steadily. At length she tacked, and, wearing round, headed
towards the shore.

“I knowed it!” said Bailey, triumphantly. “She’s a coastin along, and is
beatin up agin the wind. Just hand us that there glass for a minute, if
you please, and let us git a squint at her.”

Tom handed the glass to Bailey, who took it, and looked at the schooner
long and carefully.

At length he returned it to Tom. “It’s a fisher,” said he; “a Yankee
fisher. I knows the cut of her jib; there’s no mistakin her.
You don’t find any of yer Province fishermen git up such a turnout
as that there. Why, she’s a cross between the best class of Liverpool
pilot-boat and a nobleman’s yacht; and I don’t believe there’s a
pilot-boat or a yacht afloat that can lick that there fisherman in a
fair race.”

Arthur now took the glass, and looked at her long and earnestly.

“I say, Tom,” said he.

“What?”

“Do you know what I’m thinking?”

“I dare say it’s the very thought that I had.”

“What? The Fawn?”

“The very thing.”

“Of course it’s all nonsense. I suppose all the Yankee fishermen, or,
at any rate, a great many, are just like the Fawn; but, at any rate,
wouldn’t it be fun if it should turn out to be her?”

“Well, it’s too much to hope for,” said Tom; “it’ll be fun enough for me
if she only takes us off--if she only sees us. Hadn’t we better pile on
more fuel, Bailey?”

“No; ’tain’t no use. The fire’s makin as much smoke as it can, an
that’s the best thing by daytime. If that there vessel’s beatin up the
coast, she’s bound to see us on the next tack, if she don’t see us
now; and it’ll only take three more tacks to bring her right
opposite--Hallo!”

An abrupt exclamation terminated Bailey’s remarks. He seized the glass
without a word of apology, and took a hasty glance.

“They’re a histin an a lowerin of the flag! They’re a signalizing, as
sure as I’m a born sinner! and to us! Hooray!”

This Bailey shouted, quite beside himself, and then dropping the
spy-glass, at the imminent risk of its destruction, he seized a pole
that lay near, and scattered the fire about in all directions.

[Illustration: 0325]

“I’m a tryin to answer their signals,” said he. “They see us! They know
that were a signalizin to them, and they’re a tellin us that they’ll be
along! Hooray!”

The schooner now tacked, and stood out to sea.

“All right,” said Bailey; “the next tack’ll bring her nearer.”

This reassured the boys, who did not like even the appearance of
desertion. They watched her now in silence, and at length had the
gratification of seeing her taking her next tack, and standing in
towards the shore. This time she was very much nearer. Bailey rushed
off, and gathered a quantity of dry spruce twigs and moss. As the
schooner neared the shore, her flag rose and fell rapidly, and the
report of a rifle sounded over the waters. At this Bailey flung his
moss and spruce twigs upon the fire, and a vast cloud of smoke shot up,
intermingled with sparks and flame.

“We’re gradooly a comin to a understandin,” said Bailey, as he rubbed
his hands in immense glee, and watched the schooner. “And I do believe
that the next tack’ll bring her here. Boys, let’s get ready with the
boat.”

Saying this, Bailey hurried down, followed by the boys. They hurried
as fast as possible to the boat, and began to launch her. As she was
uncommonly high and dry, this was a work of time; but it was at length
accomplished, and the boat was afloat.

The wind was still off the land, to a certain extent, and the water had
become far smoother. Besides, for a quarter of a mile or so from the
land, it had never been much affected by the wind. They were too eager
to wait, and so in a short time the sail was up, and Bailey, at the
stern, headed the boat so as to meet the schooner on her return tack.
As the wind caught the sail, the boat moved through the water, at
first slowly, but gradually more swiftly. While the boat moved out, the
schooner seemed to be sailing away, and leaving them behind; but this
gave them no trouble, for they knew that before long she would wear
round, and come to meet them. And so, with eager eyes, they watched her,
and waited impatiently for the moment when she would turn.

Suddenly Arthur gave a cry, and pointed down the coast. There, as they
looked, to their great amazement, they saw another sail, far away,
emerging from the land, and standing out to sea.

“Wall--this--doos--beat--my--grandmother!” cried Bailey. “Or, in other
words, boys, it never rains but it pours. We’ll have the whole fishing
fleet yet.”

Arthur and Tom said nothing. Tom seized the glass, and looked for a few
minutes. Then he handed it to Arthur in silence.

Arthur looked for some time most earnestly and most curiously.

“It’s queer!” said he.

“What?” said Tom.

“I don’t believe there’s another vessel in the world like that.”

“Do you think that?” said Tom. “It’s the very idea that I had.”

“What! Not the Antelope?”

“Yes; the Antelope--her own very old self.”

“The Antelope!” cried Bailey. “You don’t mean it. If it is her, then
it’s all explained. So he’s come arter you--has he? So that’s it.
Wal, it’s the least he could do, arter gittin you into such a precious
scrape.”

“O, it’s only a fancy. It mayn’t be her, after all.”

“O, but to my mind, it’s more likely to be her than any one else. No one
but a friend, in search of a friend, would ever think of beatin up this
here way along the coast of Anticosti. That’s my idee.” This assurance
of Bailey’s tended to strengthen the idea which the boys had formed.
After all, it was not impossible; nay, they thought it was not even
improbable; for had they not been on the lookout for this very Antelope?
and what vessel was more likely to come after them than this one? and
why should she not come even to Anticosti?

“There she comes!” cried Bailey.

It was the fishing schooner. She was tacking. She wore round easily and
gracefully, and headed straight towards them. They saw her draw nearer
and nearer every moment, her bows rising, and tossing the water aside in
showers of spray. They also stood boldly out now, for Bailey was at the
helm, and was a far different sailor from Arthur or Tom. The little boat
plunged soon into the rough water, and occasionally a torrent of foam
dashed on board; but this was nothing, for all their eyes and all their
thoughts were centred upon the approaching schooner.

At length they met--the schooner driving through the sea under a cloud
of canvas. There was a man at the bow--a well-known form--the form of
Captain Tobias Ferguson. The graceful Fawn wore round; the boat came
up; a line was thrown, and Bailey seized it. The boys clambered up her
sides, and the instant they reached her deck, they found themselves
seized by Ferguson, who said, in a voice broken by agitation,--“Hooray!
We’ve got--we’ve got you--at--at last! Where are the others? Why didn’t
they come off too?”

“All right,” said Arthur. “They are all safe in a cove about twenty
miles west of this.”

Then followed a torrent of questions from Ferguson, which the boys
answered. Their answers brought peace to his soul, for it appeared that
he had been full of terror at the coming of these two, and two only,
and had feared that they were bringing some disastrous tidings about the
others.

The boat was towed astern. Bailey was welcomed right royally, as was
befitting one whom the boys introduced as their friend. At length the
mind of Captain Tobias Ferguson was at rest; and the Fawn, rounding on
another tack, stood out to sea, on her way towards the cove, where the
rest of the party were encamped.

“But you haven’t told us how you heard about us,” said Arthur, as soon
as he had a chance to ask a question.

Ferguson seized his arm, and pointed over the water to the sail that
Arthur and Tom had already noticed.

“Do you see that?”

“Yes; that schooner?”

“No; that tub, that wash-basin, that horse-trough, anything but a
schooner. Well, do you know what that is?”

“The Antelope?” suggested Tom.

“Yes; that’s what she is called by her commander--that old woman, Mrs.
Corbet, Mrs. Captain Corbet--old woman! Why, I can find fifty old women
down our way that would take better care of a vessel than him--_her_, I
mean. Well, boys, I was at Magdalen Islands when Mrs. Corbet came there
in her wash-tub. I felt uneasy about you; knew something had happened;
asked him--_her_, I mean--all about it; but Mrs. Corbet wouldn’t answer.
Well, I followed her. I was bound to see what had become of you. And
where do you think that old woman went? Where? Why, to Miramichi! Well,
I followed her there and back, and come up to her, to find her in the
middle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, at her wit’s end; for she had come
there thinking that you would be anchored there, and waiting for her.
Now, what do you think of that for an Old Woman?”

The boys were very much surprised at this, and questioned him more
closely. At first they thought that he was too hard on the venerable
captain; but when they learned how the venerable captain had actually
gone all the way to Miramichi, leaving them in their perilous position,
they thought that the V. C., aforesaid, had gone too far, and that he
merited all the contumely which Ferguson heaped so lavishly upon him.

“Anybody else,” he continued,--“anybody else but me, Tobias Ferguson,
would simply have gone mad at trying to keep that old woman and her tub
in sight. It’s taken two days to do what might have been done in one.
I’ve sailed back a dozen times to keep her in sight; and look at her
now! There she is, losing as much as she gains at every tack; standing
still, as I’m a living sinner. I sailed off, that very day I was telling
you about, for Anticosti, and got to East Point. There I waited for Mrs.
Corbet, inspecting the coast at odd times, and it was nearly the end of
the next day before she came up; and even then I had to sail back ever
so far to find her. Then we began to beat up along the coast, against
the wind, watching all the time, not only the shore, but Mrs. Corbet.
And there she is! At any rate, I won’t bother about her any longer. I’ll
hurry up to the cove to get the rest of the boys, and let Mrs. Corbet
come along as well as her venerable limbs’ll carry her.”

“But how did you know so well that we had drifted to Anticosti?”

“Well, for various reasons. Partly because I found out from Mrs. Corbet
all about her crazy experiment at anchoring the ship; partly because I
understood the general set of the tide; partly because I knew how the
wind had been; but chiefly, I may say, because I had a presentiment all
along that you were bound to get ashore on the worst place in all the
gulf; which was Anticosti, and no other place. I knowed it. I was sure
of it.”

Meanwhile the Fawn was careering through the waters. The boys had no
regret at leaving Bailey’s den, even though a number of cans of meat had
been left behind. Bailey was on the broad grin, and felt no homesickness
whatever. Arthur and Tom could not help contrasting the Fawn with the
Antelope, greatly to the disadvantage of the latter, and began to
think that in choosing Captain Corbet for their guide, they had made
a mistake. But all these thoughts were swallowed up in the one great
thought of the deliverance which they were bringing to their friends
in the cove--a deliverance so much better than anything which they had
hoped for, since it was in the form of old familiar friends, and
not through the medium of strangers. Even the Antelope, and the
much-maligned Corbet, as they followed far behind, seemed like
additional elements in their joy.



XXIV.

_Out on the Headland.--The doomed Ship.--The Struggle with the
Waters.--The ravening Waves.--All over.--The last of the Petrel.--An
Interruption at Dinner.--Startling Sight.--The strange, yet
familiar Sail.--A grand and joyous Reunion.--Away from the Isle
of Desolation.--The Antelope once more.--Over the Sea to
Miramichi.--Farewell.--Captain Corbet moralizes, and Sermonizes._


BUT on the headland the boys stood watching. Bruce was sad and
preoccupied. The others gazed uneasily upon the rough water. Could
Arthur and Tom ever sail the boat through such a sea? That was the
question which occurred to every one, and every one felt in his own
heart that it was impossible. The prospect was not pleasant. They could
only hope that the boys had gained the shore, and were waiting there
till the wind might blow over. With this hope they tried to encourage
Bruce, who showed more depression than the rest, and blamed himself
several times for not insisting on going in Arthur’s place.

At length they went back to the place where the Petrel lay. On reaching
it they found that a marked change had taken place. Thus far, though low
in the water, she had always preserved a certain symmetry of outline;
and to those who might stand on her deck in fine weather and smooth
water she seemed quite uninjured. But now her decks appeared to be burst
open; she seemed broken in two. Bow and stern were low under water,
while amidships she was above it. The mainmast inclined forward, and
the foremast sloped back so far that they almost touched. Where she
had parted asunder the planks of the decks had also started, and as the
waves rolled over her, every new assault increased the ruin.

“She’s hogged,” said Bart.

“She’s worse than hogged,” said Bruce; “she’s completely broken in two.”

“She’s fallen upon some ridge of rock,” said Phil, “and the weight of
her cargo has done it.”

“Deed thin, an the waves have had somethin to do with that same,” said
Pat; “and glad am I that we’re all out of her, so I am; and lucky it
was for us that she didn’t go ashore on that same reef, the night of the
starrum.”

The boys looked on in silence. The work of destruction went on slowly,
but surely, before their very eyes. Each wave did something towards
hastening the catastrophe. That the Petrel was doomed was now beyond the
possibility of doubt.

Rocks were beneath her, and never-ending billows rolled over her, making
her their prey.

At length the fore part of the ship rolled over, with the deck towards
them, severing itself completely from the other half. The decks gaped
wide, and opened; the sides started: the foremast came down with a
crash, and the pitiless waves, rolling on incessantly, flung themselves
one after the other upon the wreck. The two parts were soon completely
severed, the fore part breaking up first, the other half resisting more
obstinately; while the sea was covered with sticks of timber that were
torn out from her and flung away upon the face of the waters.

At length the ruin of the fore part was completed, and that part of the
ship, all torn asunder, with all that part of the cargo, was dissipated
and scattered over the water and along the beach. The other half still
clung together, and though sorely bruised and shaken, seemed to put
forth an obstinate resistance. At every touch of the waves it rolled
over only to struggle back; it rose up, but was flung down again upon
the rocks; it seemed to be writhing in agony. At length the mainmast
went down with a crash, followed not long after by the mizzenmast. Then
the fragment of the ship suddenly split, and the entire quarterdeck was
raised up. Here the waves flung themselves, tearing it away from the
hull. But before the quarter-deck was altogether severed, the rest of
the ship gave way, and parted in all directions. One by one the huge
timber logs were detached from her cargo; the separation of the parts
of the ship, and the dissolution of her compact cargo, gave a greater
surface to the action of the waves, which now roared, and foamed, and
boiled, and seethed, and flung themselves in fury over every portion
of the disordered, swaying, yielding mass. Fragment after fragment was
wrenched away; bit by bit the strong hull crumbled at the stroke of the
mighty billows. The fragments were strewn afar over the sea, and along
the beach; and the boys saw the mizzen-top, where they had found refuge
on that eventful night, drifting away towards the headland. At length
all was over; and in place of the Petrel there remained nothing but a
vast mass of fragments, strewing the rocky shore, and floating over the
sea for many a mile.

All this, however, was the work of hours. The boys watched it all as
though they were held to the spot by a species of fascination. There
seemed to be a spell upon them. They could not tear themselves away.
But at last there was nothing left; nothing but floating fragments; or
timbers flung by the waves on the shore, with which the waves seemed
to play, as they hurled them forward and drew them back; while of the
Petrel herself there was no sign--no coherent mass, however battered and
beaten, which might serve to be pointed out as the representative of the
ship that once bore them all. Of that ship there was nothing left; she
was dissolved; she was scattered afar; she was no more. Such was the end
of the Petrel.

Hours had passed while the boys were watching there. At length they
started back to their camp. They walked on in silence. There was a
certain sadness over all. This sadness arose in part from the scene
which they had just witnessed, and in part out of their anxiety about
Arthur and Tom, which now had grown to be serious, since they had seen
with their own eyes the power of the waves. When the strong ship had
yielded, what chance had that frail boat? And Arthur and Tom knew very
little about navigation. Where were they now?

With these sad and anxious thoughts, they made their way back, and found
Solomon in a state of great excitement because they had kept dinner
waiting. They found that it was past three o’clock, and were amazed that
it was so late.

Dinner was now served, accompanied by lamentations long and loud from
Solomon, who protested against such neglect and indifference as they had
shown, whereby everything had become spoiled from waiting.

“Now dis yer dinna, chilen, am no common dinna,” said he. “I ben makin
rangements to hab a rail fust-chop, stylish dinna, and hab cocted a new
dish ob succotash. I took some potted corn an biled it wid the beans, an
if dat don’t make succotash, I don’ know what do--dat’s all; an dat
ar succotash, wid de ham, and oysta chowda, an coffee, an game pie, an
tomato, had ought to make a men-jous good dinna; ought so.”

The boys said nothing. They were hungry, and they were also sad. For
both reasons they felt disinclined to speak. They were anxious about
Arthur and Tom; they also felt mournful about the sad fate of the
Petrel; they also had dismal forebodings about their own future; but at
the same time they were most undeniably hungry, ravenously hungry, in
fact; and Bruce, who was most sad and most anxious, was the hungriest of
the crowd.

So they all sat down to dinner, and, first of all, they devoted
themselves to Solomon’s succotash. This was a compound of potted corn
and dried beans; and though the real original succotash is a dish
compounded from green corn and green beans, yet this was no bad
substitute; and they all felt, in spite of their sadness, that it was
an idea whose originality did infinite credit to the culinary genius of
Solomon.

Now they had about come to the end of the succotash, and were looking
about, like Alexander, for more worlds to conquer, or, in other words,
for more dishes to devour, and were languidly awaiting the next course
which Solomon might bring, when suddenly a wild cry from Pat roused them
all from languor to the greatest excitement.

“Whoroo! Thunder and turf!” cried Pat; and he sprang to his feet as he
spoke. “Be the powers! but it’s fairly dead I am with joy this day. O,
look! O, look! look, boys! jools! see’ out there! They’re a comin for
us’ so they are! We’re saved! We’re saved! Hooray! Hooray! O, look! It’s
a schooner; she’s comin for us; she’s goin to take us out o’ this; and
O! but it’s the bright clever boys that Arthur and Tom are to come back
so soon, and with a schooner like that same.”

Long before Pat had finished his Irish howl, and while he was yet
howling, the others had sprung to their feet, and were looking out to
sea.

And there, rounding the headland, and bearing down towards them, they
saw a beautiful schooner, graceful as a pleasure yacht, with all her
snow-white sails spread wide in spite of the fresh breeze that was
blowing, as though hurrying towards them to seek and to save. Never
had they seen a more beautiful craft; but its own proper beauty was now
increased a hundred fold by the thought that their safety, their rescue,
their deliverance, was the purpose that guided her here, and that she
was coming to restore them to home, to friends, and to all the joys of
life.

Three cheers!

Yes, and three more!

Yes, and three times three, and nine times nine, and cheers without end!
They cheered. They shouted. They danced. They hugged one another for
very joy.

Solomon joined in the general jubilation. He did this by standing apart
and bursting into tears.

“Don’t mind me,” he muttered. “’Clar, I can’t help it, nohow. De tears
will come, but dey’s all tears ob j’y. It’s ben a drefful tryin time
to me all along, chilen, dis yer time, for I allus ben a feelin an
a thinkin as how dat I had some han in a bringin ob you to dese yer
stremities; but I held out, I bore up, all for your sakes; but now all
am ober; an O, de precious sakes! dar’s a ole man hereabouts, chil’en,
dat’s like to bust wid j’y! Don’t mind me. All right! Hooray! All safe
at last!--an de chilen snatched from the jaws ob roonatium! O, do go way
now, or else dis yer nigga’ll bust!”

And at this Solomon really did burst--into tears.

The glorious schooner! the beautiful schooner! the schooner with the
swan-like form and the snow-white sails! She plunged through the waters,
the waves foamed about her bows, as she hurried on towards them. Arthur
and Tom were there; they knew it, or else how should that schooner come
so straight towards them? No more fears now, no more anxieties. Arthur
and Tom were both safe, and the deep joy of that little company arose
more from the assurance of this than even from the prospect of their own
rescue.

The schooner came near. She rounded to; she dropped her anchor. A
boat was lowered. Three figures appeared in the boat--one rowing with
vigorous strokes, two smaller ones in the stern. The boat came nearer.
In the stern they saw the two, and recognized them as they came nearer.
They had felt sure at the first, but now they saw with their own eyes
Arthur and Tom; and O, with what joy, with what jubilation, with what
shouts, what cries, what leaps of joy! Arthur and Tom waved their hands,
they stretched out their arms, they called out incoherent words, and it
was with incoherent words that those on the shore responded.

The boat grounded. The boys ashore rushed into the water to seize Arthur
and Tom in their arms. Then the man who had rowed the boat stood up and
looked at them. They saw him. They knew him. Captain Ferguson! Tears
were in his eyes, and he tried to hide them, but couldn’t. Captain
Tobias Ferguson, bold sailor, strong, brave man, broke down on this
occasion, and cried like a child.

Then he went about shaking hands and talking wildly. He grabbed old
Solomon’s hand, and shook it most warmly. He asked anxiously about his
health. Solomon was still sobbing and crying with utter joy. Neither
of them knew what he was doing. Both felt the same emotions, yet the
emotions of each arose from the same cause, and that was, anxiety about
these boys, whom they loved, for whom they had feared so much, and
suffered so much, and over whose safety they now rejoiced with such deep
joy.

Captain Ferguson did not say much, but made them all get into the boat
and go aboard the Fawn. He did not look at their camp, nor did they
feel any regret at leaving the work which had caused them so much toil.
Solomon only stipulated that he should take away the provisions--the
barrels of biscuit, the potted meats, the hams, and whatever else had
been accumulated there on that desolate shore. Nor was there any reason
for longer delay, for the associations of the place were by no means of
a kind which they chose to dwell upon; so the Fawn turned her back upon
Anticosti, and stood out to sea.

As they passed the headland Bruce pointed out to Arthur and Tom the
broken fragments of the Petrel, which still lined the rocky shore. But
the eye of Captain Ferguson was turned elsewhere. He was on the lookout
for the Antelope.

“We’ve got to go back after her,” said he. “If we wait for her, she
won’t be here till to-morrow morning, and we can run down to where she
is in less than an hour.”

As he said these words the Fawn passed outside the headland, and there,
far away to the east, heading out to sea in one of her tacks, was the
Antelope. There she was, her very venerable self at last, the schooner
for which they had so often searched the water, for whose appearance
they had so longed and hoped, and which never came through all those
weary and despairing days. Now, when she was not needed, and, in fact,
was not particularly wanted, she made herself visible.

The wind, which was against the Antelope, was fair for the Fawn, and
in a short time the two schooners were within hail. Captain Corbet then
made the best of his way on board the Fawn.

He had already seen the boys, and guessed all. When he stood before them
the boys were all shocked at his appearance. Venerable he had always
been, but now he looked ten years older than when they last had seen
him. He was also very much agitated, trembled violently, and, going
around, he shook hands with every one in silence. Then he turned away
his head and wept. The boys all felt deeply touched at seeing this
exhibition of feeling on his part, and even Captain Ferguson looked at
him with less severity.

“Well,” said he, “I do believe he’s shed a good many tears about you,
and if he did bring you into a scrape, he’s suffered enough for it, I
say.”

After this his treatment of the venerable navigator was far more
generous than it had hitherto been.

“I ain’t got much time to spare,” said he, “captain, but I’m bound to
see these boys in a place of safety. So I propose to sail to Miramichi,
and you hurry along as fast as your old tub can get through the water.
I understand you’re all going straight back to the Bay of Fundy, and I
don’t see why you shouldn’t be able to do that much safe enough; so I’ll
deliver up the boys to your care in Mirami-chi. I think I can make them
comfortable enough till then aboard the Fawn.”

Captain Corbet had nothing to say against this decision, but meekly
returned to the Antelope, and prepared to follow the Fawn to the
destination mentioned. As for the boys, they were delighted, and felt
only too glad at being able to have a short cruise on board such a
vessel as the Fawn.

On the following day the Fawn reached her destination, but the Antelope
did not turn up until a day later. The boys now went back to their old
quarters, and Captain Ferguson bade them all good by. Bailey accompanied
him, having been engaged by him as one of his crew.

“Wal, boys,” said Captain Corbet, after Ferguson had taken his
departure, “we’ve lived, an we hev suffered, an hev mootooly ben called
on to undergo triboolations that ain’t often met with in this mortual
spere. This uthly life is one of strange vycissitoods, an the seafarin
life has fre-kent ups an downs. I don’t think I ever, in all my born
days, was called upon to endoor more pewer mentual tortoor than in this
week that’s past an gone. The wust of it all was the thought that it was
my fault, and mine only. So now, boys, look at me, and take a warnin.
Bewar, above all, of avarice. Think of me, with my plans for sudden
wealth. Terrew, I might say that it was keer for the babby that animated
this excited boosom; I might plead the affection of a absint feyther a
yearnin over his offsprin; but I forbar. I pint to my unworthy self, and
say, Bewar! Don’t ever allow yer young minds to grow delooded about the
vain and glitterin toys of wealth and fortin! See what it’s cost us. We
derreamed of a great ship, and cargo, and thousands upon thousands
of pounds to divide among us; and what did we railly git? Salvage!
farewell, good by to you forever. Out of all our derreams we hev gained
nothin but the Petrel’s boat, which ain’t so dreadful bad a boat nuther,
but contrariwise, and’ll be useful enough yet, maybe; an if we’d
quietly taken that thar boat, and ben content, we’d a ben spard all
this trouble, which shows that a small possibility’s bet-ter’n a big
impossibility. Them’s my sentiments; and among the lessons which I hope
to live to inculcate in the mind of my babby, the most important shall
be the story of the ship that we PICKED UP ADRIFT.”





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ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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