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Title: The "B. O. W. C." - A Book For Boys; Illustrated
Author: De Mille, James
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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THE “B. O. W. C.”

A Book For Boys

By Prof. James De Mille

The Author Of “The Dodge Club,”

Illustrated

Boston: Lee And Shepard, Publishers

1871


THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED TO

WILLIE



THE “B. O. W. C.”



I.

_The “B. O. W. C.,” with their History, Mystery, and Wonderful Doings;
and how an aged African became elevated to the Dignity of “Grand
Panjandrum.”_


AFTER the long winter session, the approach of the spring vacation
had been eagerly welcomed at the Grand Pré School. It was only a short
recess, and the majority of the boys would not be able to go home; but
such as it was, its advent created the greatest delight. On a pleasant
evening in May the examinations were over; little knots of boys were
gathered jubilantly in various places, bonfires were blazing, squibs
fizzing, crackers snapping, and everything and everybody were as noisy
and as jolly as possible.

In the midst of all this, and immediately after tea, the “B. O W. C.”
 had called a meeting in the Rawdons’ rooms. Who or what the “B. O. W.
C.” is, or was, will be explained on a future occasion; let it suffice
for the present that the “B. O. W. C.” called a meeting, and the
Rawdons’ rooms had the honor, of receiving that august assemblage. Not
that it was very numerous. Only four or five could be counted; but then
what they lacked a number, they made up in quality and in style. The
utmost had been done to bring the rooms up to the level of so great an
occasion. The table had been turned upside down, and transformed into
a dais; the book-case had been, covered over with the table-cloth; the
couch had been placed on one end in the corner; and in the middle of the
room was a flour barrel covered with red flannel, on which was placed a
phrenological bust. Added to this, the room was darkened--a smoky lamp
shedding a feeble and fitful ray over the scene, and dimly disclosing
four figures at one end.

These four figures were all dressed in white. The costume was a simple,
but a highly effective one. It consisted apparently of a sheet thrown
over the head and falling to the feet, with two holes for the eyes. In
this attire the four figures bore not a little resemblance to some of
those orders of monks which exist in Europe. The table, which lay on the
floor, legs upward, with the addition of the ottoman, served as a dais,
on which stood a figure with an immense militia captain’s sword in his
hand. On each side was also a figure holding a huge wooden battle-axe,
while the fourth stood between the dais and the bust.

Soon the silence was disturbed by a knock at the door communicating with
the bed-room. The boy near the bust gave it three smart raps, upon which
the door opened, and a figure entered clothed like the others in the
room. On entering he made a low bow, and then stood erect.

The four figures in the room raised their hands to their faces with a
peculiar gesture.

“Blood!” said they in solemn tones.

“Thunder!” said the boy at the door, making the same gesture.

“Is the Grand Panjandrum with you, Venerable Warden?” said the figure on
the dais.

“He is, Most Venerable Patriarch.”

“Let him enter.”

At this the Venerable Warden left the room, and in a few moments
reappeared, ushering in the personage alluded to as the Grand
Panjandrum.

The Grand Panjandrum was an aged gentleman of color, whose wrinkled face
was enlivened by an irrepressible comicality of expression, which not
even the solemnity of this occasion could quell. He was arrayed in a
college cap and gown, with a Master’s red hood and long bands. His face
was a study. He was evidently doing his best to exhibit the deepest
solemnity of expression, but his droll, keen, twinkling eyes darted
furtively about, with an intense relish of the scene before him, and his
efforts at gravity were sadly disturbed by the broad grin which, from
time to time, would flash out irrepressibly over the dark background
of his face. After a few furtive glances he bowed; and then, with an
audible chuckle, he awaited further proceedings.

“Grand Panjandrum,” said the figure on the dais, in an impressive voice.

“Yes, sah.”

“Yes, what?” said the other, in a tone of rebuke.

“Yes, sah,--yes, mos’wossifle,” he added, correcting himself. A grin
broke out over his face, which, however, was instantly checked by a
demure cough.

“Grand Panjandrum, you have heard our map-dates.”

“Mandates?” said the other, in a puzzled tone.

“Yes,--orders.”

“Yes, sah, mos’ wossifle.”

“Have you carried out the instructions of the Venerable Brethren?”

“Yes, sah, mos’ wospeful.”

“Did you get the turkeys?”

“Yes, sah.”

“How many? Six?”

“No, sah.”

“What! not six?”

“No, sah.”

“How many, then?”

“Ten,” said the other, with a chuckle and a grin of triumph.

“O-h!” said the first speaker; while a titter ran round among the
others. “H’m! Very well, and what else?”

“Spring chickens.”

“How many?”

“Twenty.”

“Ah! Very well. And how?”

“Broiled, sah.”

“Any tongue?”

“Yes, sah, three.”

“And the ham?”

“Yes, sah.”

“Nuts?”

“Yes, sah.”

“Raisins?”

“Yes, sah.”

“Crackers? Cheese? Figs? Cake?” “Yes, sah, mos’ wossifle.”

“And what about the drink? Have you prepared the lemonade?”

“No, sah.”

“No! Why not?”

“No lemons, sah.”

“That’s bad. And there is no drink, then?”

“Yes. sah. Ginger beer.”

“Ginger beer. H’m! that will do,” said the Venerable Patriarch,
solemnly. “How much have you?”

“Ten gallons, mos’ wossifle.”

“What else have you?”

“Ten mince pies, twelve apple pies, a basket of tarts, a tin dipper, an
iron pot, an iron spoon,” said the Grand Panjandrum, rapidly enumerating
the various items. “Fact,” he continued, carried away by the ardor of
the moment, “I’se got most nigh eberyting. Gracious sakes! you’ll open
your blessed eyes, mind I tell you! But what are you gwine to do about
de bread and butter? Tell you what, boys! you’ve clean forgot de most
’portant of all.”

“Silence!” cried the Venerable Patriarch, in an indignant voice, rapping
his sword against the leg of the table.

“The sakes now! how you _do_ go on!” said the Grand Panjandrum, with a
broad grin.

“No levity,” said the Venerable Patriarch, in a stern voice.

“Yes, sah,” said the other, assuming an expression of awful solemnity.

“Venerable Warden!”

“Yes, Most Venerable Patriarch.”

“The audience, is over! Escort the Grand Panjandrum to the outer world.”

The Venerable Warden bowed, and led the way out, followed by his sable
companion.

Scarcely had the door closed behind them than the scene underwent a
sudden change. With a shout, the four figures flung off their white
draperies, and kicked them into a corner of the room. Then they drew
back the curtains, replaced the table and couch, while the light that
now came into the room showed the laughing faces of four boys, which had
nothing in common with the sepulchral figures that had taken part in the
late scene.

Two of these boys were big, brawny, broad-shouldered fellows, with
Roman features, and dark, curling hair. They very closely resembled one
another. These were the two Rawdons, to whom the rooms belonged. The
elder was named Bruce, and the younger Arthur. Of the others, one was
tall and slight, Tom Crawford by name; and the other was small and
slight, and was called Phil Kennedy.

“Hurrah, boys!” said Phil. “Isn’t old Solomon a perfect brick of an
old darkey? Do you fairly realize the fact that we are to have ten
turkeys,--ten, my boys, instead of six?”

“And the spring chickens!” said Tom Crawford.

“And the mince pies!” said Bruce.

“And the ginger beer!” cried Arthur.

“The encampment, of the ‘B. O. W. C.’ is going to be a grand success,”
 said Bruce. “It will be memorable forever in the history of the school.”

“We ought to have a grand bonfire, and burn our Latin Grammars, before
starting,” said Tom Crawford.

“Yes,” said Phil Kennedy, “and our Arithmetics too. I’d like to burn all
the Arithmetics in the world.”

“No, no,” said Arthur, “don’t let us have a bonfire. Let us have a
burial, with a solemn procession, and a real burial service.”

“Well, what’ll we bury?”

“The Latin Grammar.”

“No, Cæsar.”

“No, the Arithmetic.”

“Let’s bury them all; that is the best plan,” said Phil.

“Yes,” cried all; and a confused medley of proposals arose, in which all
were talking together. In the midst of the uproar the door opened, and
the Venerable Warden made his appearance. Throwing off his white robe,
he disclosed the fair, round face of a fresh, handsome boy, with merry,
mischievous eyes, and curling golden hair. That busy brain of his had
been prolific in all sorts of plans dear to boys, while his generous
nature and frank, pleasant manner made Bart Darner the favorite of Grand
Pré School.

“O, Bart,” said Tom Crawford, “what about that powder?”

Bart left the room for a moment, and returned with a package under his
arm.

“The powder?” said he. “It’s all right. I’ve got it in my room.”

“And the rods?”

“Yes, I’ve got the rods too.”

“Any matches?”

“Matches? Of course not.”

“Why, what’ll we do for lights and fires?”

“I hope you don’t mean to say that you would dream of taking _matches_,”
 said Bart, in a voice of solemn rebuke.

“Why not?”

“Why not? Who ever heard of matches in an Encampment of Knights? No,
boys, flint and steel is the thing for us. That’s what I’ve got; and
I’ve made some first-rate tinder, and a lot of sulphur lights. Besides,
I’ve got something to surprise you.”

“What’s that?”

“The dresses.”

“Dresses?”

“Yes; come to my room, and I’ll show you what I’ve got. It wouldn’t do
for us to go out and be brigands in ordinary jackets and trousers, I
hope. Why,” he concluded, in a tone of rebuke, “it would be infamous.”

“And have you got any dresses in your room?” said Bruce.’

“Yes; come along and take a look at them.”

Off went the five with a shout, and going up a flight of stairs, they
soon entered Bart Darner’s room. Here Bart brought out a bundle from the
bed-room, and opening it, he proudly displayed its contents. There were
five red shirts, each of which had a huge white cross on the back; five
belts; and five felt hats, each of which was decorated with a feather.
As he displayed these articles one by one, the boys were struck dumb
with admiration, while Bart’s eyes glowed with delight.

“Don’t say anything,” said he, “but try them on.”

Bart locked the door carefully, and then they all arrayed themselves in
the new costume. Soon five figures stood there with their red shirts and
plunged hats, looking like so many juvenile Garibaldians.

“You see, these belts will do first rate for pistols, and daggers, and
that sort of thing,” said Bart.

The other boys said nothing. Astonishment and delight deprived them
of words; but each stood looking, first at himself, and then at his
companions, in mute admiration.

“But how in the world did you manage it, Bart? Where did you get them
all?” asked Tom Crawford.

“O, I found the shirts down in Brown’s,” said Bart, “and picked out the
smallest ones. I had them altered, and got Maggie Lunt to sew on the
crosses. I begged some old ostrich feathers from. Mrs. Porter, and of
course the hats could be got anywhere. They’re rather large, but we can
put bits of paper inside the lining, you know, and make them fit well
enough. They’ll do for the woods.”

“Do for the woods!” cried Bruce Rawdon. “I should think they would, and
for other places, too. Boys, don’t let’s hide our light under a bushel.
I move that we have a grand procession at once.”

“Yes, yes,” cried all. “Let’s go down now. The fellows are all out on
the grounds.”

“How they’ll stare!” cried Phil. “The ‘B. O. W. C.’ will become more
famous than ever,” said Tom Crawford.

“Come, then,” said Arthur, “let us go down now.”

“No,” said Bart. “That would spoil all.”

“Why, don’t you want the ‘B. O. W. C.’ to show themselves?”

“Of course, but not now. I’ll tell you what to do. Let’s wait till
to-morrow, and then we’ll get Jiggins’s cart, and make Solomon drive,
dressed as Venerable Warden, up to the woods. We’ll follow as brigands.”

“Hurrah! That’s splendid!” said Bruce Rawdon.

“And I’ll show you something else,” said Bart, taking up the parcel
which he had under his arm in the Rawdons’ room. “I’ve got something
else.” And he proceeded to open the parcel, while the others looked
on with eager expectation. He opened it, and drew out a folded cloth.
Unfolding this, he shook it out, and spread it on the table. It was
a black flag., Upon this was stitched something round, which close
examination showed to be a desperate effort to represent a skull. To
the ordinary observer, however, it looked exactly like an elderly
gentleman’s face, quite bald, and with a benevolent grin. Beneath
it were the mysterious initials “B. O. W. C.” At sight of this, the
long-repressed feelings of the boys burst forth without restraint. With
wild shouts they waved their hats in the air, and at last gave three
cheers for Bart. It was long before their wild excitement could be
quelled. Until late that night they sat in their wonderful dresses,
admiring their wonderful flag, and waiting, with eager impatience, for
the next day.

But who or what was the “B. O. W. C.”? That I must now proceed to
answer.

The “B. O. W. C.” arose from the genius of Bart Darner, who, in some
respects, was the most remarkable boy at Grand Pré School. His career
there had been a highly eventful one. His father was a merchant of the
town of St. John, and Bart had gathered, from the atmosphere of his
native place, a passionate desire to go to sea. With the idea of curing
him of this fancy, his father had taken him to Grand Pré School.
Bart had gone very good naturedly, and had been formally entered as a
scholar. The first acquaintances which Bart made were the Rawdon boys;
and on the very first evening after his arrival he confided to them his
determination to quit the school immediately. This determination Bart
was not very long in putting into execution. Two days after his father
had left, Bart was among the missing. Inquiries were made everywhere,
but in vain. At length the worthy head master, Dr. Porter, conjectured
that he might have gone home; so he sent in the direction in which
he supposed it most likely that the fugitive would go. The conjecture
proved to be well founded. Bart was found, on the following day, at an
inn about forty miles away. He made no objection to returning, confessed
that he was on his way home, and made light of the whole affair.
Dr. Porter extorted from him a promise that he would make no further
attempts to go home, and Bart began his school life.

His restless disposition soon caused a new interruption. At the end of
three weeks it was found that Bart was again missing. Dr. Porter was
deeply hurt, for he feared that Bart had broken his word. Search was
made everywhere, but in vain. A week passed away, but no discovery
had been made. At the end of that time, Old Solomon, the cook of the
boarding school, affected perhaps by Dr. Porter’s deep anxiety, came
to him and disclosed the hiding-place of the fugitive. It appeared that
Bart had struck up an eternal friendship with Solomon, and had gained
his assistance in a new scheme of flight. This time he did not seek to
go home, for he had promised Dr. Porter not to do so. His plan was to
escape to the woods, and build a hut, while Solomon was to bring him
provision and news from the outer world. The Rawdons had been taken
into the secret, and Bart had been enjoying the life of a hermit, and
thoughtlessly amusing himself with baffling the search that was going
on for him. Dr. Porter at once made Solomon accompany him to the
hiding-place; and finding Bart there, he sent Solomon back, and had a
long conversation with the youthful hermit. What he said or did no one
else knew; but his mode of treatment was so effectual, that Bart from
that time forward gave up his wandering ways. A long composition was
allotted him as a punishment, and Bart bore the penalty of his misdeeds
like a man.

After this he diverted his active powers into a more legitimate
channel, and rapidly became one of the best scholars in his class. His
restlessness of temper and liveliness of disposition showed themselves
in the invention of new games and sports for the amusement of his
companions. He became a curious compound of intense earnestness and wild
levity. In school no one was so utterly absorbed in study as he; and
outside, on the play-ground, no one abandoned himself so completely to
fun and merriment. He took prizes and threw balls with equal facility.
He invented new modes of making balls, of shaping bats, and of fastening
skates. He introduced new variations in the venerable game of marbles.
He made beautiful little schooners. He even constructed a steamboat out
of an old clock. He organized a military company, including all the boys
in the school, with lath guns and wooden swords, and a band which played
jew’s-harps and tin pails.

But the greatest of all his achievements was the organization of the “B.
O. W. C.”

It arose-on this wise.

From the very outset he had formed a close connection with four other
boys, and the attachment to one another grew stronger among them every
day. After organizing his militia company, and adding to it its famous
“Tin Band,” Bart looked around him for more worlds to conquer; in other
words, for new ideas to put into practice. In a moment of inspiration he
conceived the plan of a secret society, which was to include himself
and his friends. No sooner was this suggested to the others, than they
seized upon it with the greatest eagerness. The name was the first
thing. At first they thought of calling it the “Pentagon.” Then they
thought of the “Quintette.” Other names suggested themselves; but
finally they decided upon the “B. O. W. C.” The use of letters gave
a charming mystery. No one but a member of the society could ever
penetrate the tremendous secret. But the time has at length come for
divulging it. It shall be a secret no longer. Those mysterious letters,
then, were intended to represent “_The Brethren of the Order of the
White Cross_.”

As to the rest, the most charming ingenuity was shown in arranging the
details. The officers had names of solemn import. They were,--

1. The Most Venerable Patriarch.

2. The Venerable Scribe.

3. The Right Worshipful Commander.

4. The Grand Scholastic.

5. The Venerable Warden.

Afterward another dignity was added.

It was arranged that each office should be held only for one month. This
was calculated to satisfy the aspirations of all, since in this way each
member had a chance of filling every office in due time.

The initiation ceremonies were tremendous; the only trouble about these
being that they never had any persons on whom to exercise them. They
remained, therefore, like so many beautiful dreams. The costumes have
already been described. The most important thing among their furniture
was the phrenological bust. This was the pride and delight of the “B. O.
W. C.” It had been obtained from a young man who was studying medicine
in the village, and who levied a heavy tax upon the purses of the
society for so precious an article. They had the bust, however, and did
not complain.

I have said that another dignity was added to the original five. This
was in the person of the venerable Solomon. In consideration of his age,
his color, his occupation as cook, and his eminent previous services to
all of them individually, it was unanimously resolved that he should be
admitted to the society. With very great delicacy they excused him the
terrific initiation ceremony. Perhaps the idea that he might object
to some of the details influenced them in this. Be this as it may, Old
Solomon became a member, and a new dignity was created especially for
him. In a full meeting of the society, it was unanimously voted that he
be created _Perpetual Grand Panjandrum_.



II.

_Grand Pré and Minas Basin.--An astonishing Procession.--Encampment of
Brigands.--Break-up of Encampment and Flight of the Inmates._


THE Grand Pré Academy, under the presiding care of Dr. Porter, was a
highly popular and very efficient boarding school. In choosing such a
place for the Academy, Dr. Porter had shown that ardent love of nature
which always distinguished him. It was situated in a place which yields
to no other in the world for varied charms of land, sea, and sky, and
which can never be forgotten after it has once been seen. Standing
upon the slope of a hill, the Academy, with its broad portico and lofty
cupola, looked down upon a scene whose loveliness has been described in
Longfellow’s exquisite verse:

               “In the Acadian land, on the shores of the Basin of Minas,

                   Distant secluded still, the little village of Grand Pré

               Lay in the fruitful valley. Vast meadows stretched to the

                        eastward,

               Giving the village its name, and pasture to flocks without

                        number.

               Dikes that the hands of the farmers had reared with labor

                        incessant,

               Shut out the turbulent tides; but at stated seasons the flood

                        gates

               Opened, and welcomed the sea to wander at will o’er the

                        meadows.

               “West and south there were fields of flax, and orchards and

                        cornfields.

               Spreading afar and unseened o’er the plain; and away to the

                        northward.

               Blomidon rose, and the forests old; and aloft on the moun

                        tains

               Sea-fogs pitched their tents, and mists from the mighty

                        Atlantic

               Looked on the happy valley, but ne’er from their station de

                        scended.”

Looking from the portico of the Academy, the eye rested upon a broad
expanse of dike land immediately in front, which extended far away
for many miles on either hand. These the old Acadian farmers had first
reclaimed from the sea, and afterward their successors had reared new
dikes and reclaimed wider districts. The broad meadows immediately in
front were bounded by the Cornwallis River, a stream which at high tide
can float the largest ship, but which at low tide is so nearly empty
that but a slight rivulet runs through its channel. It runs into the
Basin of Minas, where are the highest tides in the world.. Here the sea
carries in its salt waves up to where the dikes rise against them, and
afterward retreating, they go back for miles, leaving vast tracts of mud
flats exposed to the view. For many miles all around there are rivers
that run into this bay, all of which are subject to the same tides,
and experience the same great vicissitudes, changing twice in the
twenty-four hours from shallow rivulets at the bottom of valleys of mud,
to vast rivers which flow with swift and full streams. Twice on each day
the stream, which can scarce float a canoe, will grow to a mighty
volume of water, where navies might pass. Twice each day may be seen
the startling spectacle, once used as a formula for the impossible, of
rivers running from the sea up their channels; and twice on each day the
scene on Minas shores changes from a wide expanse of red mud to a vast
sheet of deep-blue sea.

All that is wonderful and all that is sublime in nature may be found
here, side by side with all that is most sweet and beautiful. Behind the
hill on whose slope the school stands lies the valley of the Gaspereaux,
an Eden-like retreat, shut in by high hills and watered by a winding
river, sequestered from the world, full of that strange charm of repose
that may so seldom be met with in this busy age. Before the hill there
spreads away for many a mile the broad vale of Cornwallis, through which
there flow five rivers, whoso waters are all chained up at their mouths,
so that their beds may serve for verdurous dike lands to the farmers of
the valley. Far away on the other side extends a long range of hills,
which push themselves forward into Minas Basin till they end in a
precipitous cliff, whose towering form is the centre of attraction for
many and many a mile. This is the famous Cape Blomidon, whose position
is so peculiar, and whose shape is so striking, that it forms the
central object to spectators all around the shores of the bay. Here is
a channel opening into the Bay of Fundy outside, and this channel is
the gate-way through which the disturbed and impetuous waters of the two
seas forever rush backward and forward.

In that outer bay there are fierce tides, and swift currents, and
iron-bound shores, and lonely rocky isles; there are dense fogs, sharp
squalls, and sudden storms. The mists that prevail there are kept away
by that lofty wall which terminates in Blomidon, and cannot penetrate
into the well-protected country within. The mists and the fogs seem like
baffled enemies, long beleaguering, but never victorious. From the sunny
plains of Cornwallis and Grand Pré they may be seen crowded and piled
up on the top of Blomidon, frowning darkly and menacingly upon the scene
beneath, as though eager to descend. But Old Blomidon guards well the
land which he protects, and the mist and the fog that cross his crest
are broken and dissipated into thin air.

From all this there arise wondrous atmospheric effects. Here, when the
fog is piled up in gloomy masses over Blomidon, and the sun is setting
behind them, may be seen a spectacle so gorgeous that, if it could be
portrayed on canvas, few would believe it to be a copy of nature. It
would be deemed the fantastic vision of some artist mad from love of
deep gloom and vivid color; for the colors here at sunset are sometimes
as numerous, as varied, and as vivid as those of a rainbow. The whole
west glows with indescribable glory, when out of black clouds and
voluminous folds of whirling fog-wreaths there beams a gorgeous red,
forth from which shoot up innumerable rays far into the zenith, formed
of every hue and shade, which shift and change like the rays of the
Aurora Borealis, and cast upon all the sky and upon all the earth
something of their own splendid radiance.

Early on the morning which followed the meeting of the “B. O. W. C.,”
 a singular scene was presented in front of the Academy. A crowd had
gathered there surrounding a very remarkable group. There was a cart
containing a number of baskets and some pots, in which was harnessed a
quadruped which charity might consent to name a horse, but which looked
more like a skeleton of one of the extinct species. Seated high and dry
in an old arm-chair was the venerable figure of Solomon in his robes of
office, that is to say, his office of Perpetual Grand Panjandrum. He had
an old college cap and gown, and a master’s hood, while the spectacles
that bestrided his nose, and the altitude of his shirt collar, were of
themselves sufficient to strike awe into the beholder. Behind the cart
were the “B. O. W. C.,” robed in the red shirts and plumed hats which
Bart had found for them. Bart had a pistol in his belt. Each one had
something, if it were nothing better than a case-knife. But the centre
of all eyes was the flag. This Bart had generously handed over to Bruce
Rawdon, who was the Most Venerable Patriarch for the month of May. As
the wind caught it and unfolded it before the astonished eyes of the
other boys, the skeleton head grinned benignantly at them from his airy
home, and a loud shout of admiration burst forth from all.

Solomon cracked his whip. The procession started. The noise, the
laughter, and the joking were wonderful. Heads appeared at all the
windows of the house where the teachers lived. There were the laughing
faces of Dr. Porter and his family; there was the wondering gaze of Mr.
Simmons, the mathematical teacher; and there, at another window, the
long, solemn physiognomy of Mr. Long, of the English department. Thus
the procession went on, followed by all the boys, and the centre of
admiring interest. It was a proud moment for the “B. O. W. C.”

In this fashion they went up the hill behind the Academy, and at length
reached the woods. They passed several cavities in the ground which
had once been cellars of the old Acadian houses. They passed through an
orchard where the old, neglected apple trees still spoke of the Acadian
farmer who had planted them and cleared the forest around.

The road entered the woods, and they went along for some distance. At
last, in the midst of the woods they turned aside to the left, and after
a hundred yards or so they stopped, and the cart was unloaded.

At this place there was a steep descent on the right through the thick
woods. Down this the “B. O. W. C.” carried the articles which they had
brought. On reaching the bottom, they emerged into a space clear of
trees, where a brook ran babbling on. About twenty yards up, a dam had
been built, and a pond of water formed, at one end of which was a large
camp made of spruce and fir. Shut in among the woods, with the little
pond in front of it, and the brook babbling behind it, it formed
as secluded a place as could be desired. This spot was once the
hiding-place of Bart during his second flight, and had ever since been
a favorite resort of his. There were many camps and pleasant arbors
through the woods, but the newly-made pond had given to this place the
undoubted preeminence. It had all been done very secretly within a week,
and all the other boys now saw it for the first time, and gave utterance
to their feelings in low murmurs of surprise and admiration. But the “B.
O. W. C.” had much to attend to. First of all, they had to carry down
their provisions. Then they had to arrange them, and finally they had
the most important duty of all to attend to, which was no less momentous
a thing than hoisting their flag. Soon the moment came. A pole had been
already prepared. The ropes were attached, the pole was nailed to a
corner post of the camp, and the flag was hauled up to its place with
loud cheers, in which all the other boys joined with the greatest vigor.

After this the “B. O. W. C.” flung themselves down and rested for a
time. The other boys inspected the place closely, and questioned the
owners of the camp as to their intention.

“Are you going to sleep here?”

“O, yes.”

“What’ll you sleep on?”

“Brush, of course.”

“And will you cook?”

“O, yes.”

“Have you a fireplace?”

“No, but we’re going to make one to-day.”

“What’ll you do if it rains?”

“Grin and bear it.”

“Pooh! You don’t mean to say that you’d stay here if you got wet
through.”

“Wouldn’t we, though? You see.”

“Dr. Porter wouldn’t let you.”

“O, yes, he would. He always says it don’t hurt boys to get wet.”

“O, he means by day. He wouldn’t let you sleep here in a storm.”

“Why not? The camp is good enough.”

“Good enough? It can’t keep the rain off.”

“O, yes, it can.”

“You haven’t enough to eat here--have you?” asked others.

“Plenty.”

“Nonsense! It will all be gone before two days.”

“Well, can’t we easily get things? I’ve got a pistol, and mean to shoot
hares and things.”

Bart proudly displayed his pistol, and the sight of this formidable arm
silenced all controversy.

“Besides,” said Bart, proudly, “we’ve got a gun.”

“A gun!” repeated the others, in low tones. “Yes; we expect to be
attacked.”

“Attacked? Who’d attack you?”

“O, the Gaspereaugians.”

(“The Gaspereaugians” was a name given by the boys to the inhabitants of
Gaspereaux.)

“Do you think they will?”

“Of course; but if they try it, they’ll find us ready for them,”
 said Bart, fiercely. “We’ve hoisted our flag, and I’d like to see the
Gaspereaugian that would dare to pull it down.”

“Well, if it comes to that, you’ve got us, you know. We’ll be on hand.”

“Of course,” said Bart, gravely. “I’ll tell you what we’re going to do:
we’ll send out scouts, and if we see any signs of an attack, we’ll let
you know. I’ve got a trumpet here, and when I blow three times, you’ll
be along to help. See.”

And Bart stepped back to a bundle, out of which he pulled a long tin
horn, of the kind known among ‘longshoremen as “fog-horns.”

“But we won’t blow it till we’re hard up, you know,” he continued.
“We’ll only blow it if they come in a great crowd, you know.”

“O, yes; of course.”

The boys now broke up into little knots, and proposed all sorts of
plans. A mania for camping out set in strong among them all. The example
of the “B. O. W. C.” in damming the stream was to be imitated at once.
Each little knot of boys had places peculiar to themselves along the
same stream, some of which were the work of predecessors, and had
something like a history. After a time most of the boys went back for
spades, pickaxes, shovels, axes, and whatever else might be needed for
the great work of camp-building. The “B. O. W. C.” then turned their
attention toward the completion, of their own camp. A fireplace
had still to be built, and brush cut for beds. To this they devoted
themselves very vigorously, and worked till about ten o’clock, when
their labors were suddenly interrupted by the appearance of Dr. Porter
and Mr. Simmons. They stood for some time looking with a smile at the
busy scene, before they were noticed. As soon as the boys recognized
their visitors, they came up laughing, eager to describe the beauties
of their camp. Dr. Porter was much amused, particularly with the flag,
which floated from the mast.

“Boys,” said he at length, after he had asked about everything, “I have
come up to make you an offer.”

“An offer? What is it, sir?” cried they all.

“How would you like to give up, for the present, your bandit camp, take
away all your provision, haul down your flag, and go away?”

“What, sir!” cried the boys in consternation, and a cloud of gloom
passed over their-faces.

“How would you like me to charter a little schooner, fill it with
provisions, turn the hold into a sleeping-place, and start off for
a week’s cruise around the Basin of Minas, going ashore at the Five
Islands, at Parrsboro’, at Blomidon, and at any other, place where we
might wish? What do you say to that? Ah, ha!” cried the doctor, as he
watched the changing faces of the boys, where the gloom had vanished
instantly, and given place to the wildest delight. “Ah, ha! that suits
you--does it! Well, that’s what I’ve come to propose.”

“O, Dr. Porter! Are you really in earnest? Do you mean it?--a
schooner--a schooner?--a cruise round Minas Basin? O, good! good! good!
Hurrah! Three cheers!”

A hundred incoherent shouts and words like these burst from the boys as
they dashed about in wild and frantic delight, overwhelmed with joy at
this proposal to all of them. It seemed a thing so glorious that nothing
of which the mind could conceive was to be compared with it. A cruise
round Minas Basin! What did not that involve? Adventures of a hundred
kinds; drifting about in wild tides; getting lost in dense fogs; running
ashore on wide mud flats, or on precipitous cliffs, or on the edge of
perilous breakers; landing on lonely headlands, or on solitary islands;
penetrating far forests; camping out in wildernesses; living pirate
fashion in their own schooner, where all would be given up to them;
shooting, fishing; hunting for gulls’ nests;--it meant not sham
adventures, but real ones--with real dangers environing them instead of
fancied ones. They could cease playing at Robbers, and play what to them
seemed the nobler part of Pirates; the skull-and-cross-bones flag could
adorn the schooner, and the fog-trumpet could sound forth amid the
echoing cliffs of Blomidon. It meant anything and everything, and far
more than even their vivid fancies could very well portray. To most boys
the sea always promises more adventure than the land; there is always
something of the joy of discovery in every new voyage, and so all
these boys felt now; but to Bart, most of all, was the prospect most
delightful; for he had already known to the full that longing for the
sea which many boys have, and that which his father had prevented him
from realizing, now seemed to come to him. In some respects this seemed
to be better than the voyage which he had formerly dreamed of; for
though it would not be long, yet it would be varied and eventful, and
not free from danger. Best of all, it would be made in company with the
other boys.

It was some time before the boys were able, in their excitement, to
get any clear idea of what Dr. Porter was telling them. At length they
learned that Mr. Simmons and Mr. Long wished to visit Blomidon and the
Five Islands in search after minerals, with which the cliffs are filled.
They had concluded to get a schooner, and take the larger boys
with them. They expected to spend about a week, and take provisions
sufficient for that time. Dr. Porter would not be able to go himself,
but would intrust the boys to the care and the jurisdiction of Messrs.
Simmons and Long. Such was the plan.

Moreover, the schooner was already engaged. It was the Antelope, Captain
Corbet; and it was proposed to leave, if possible, that very afternoon,
so as to be on the other side of the bay, or at least near Blomidon,
by sundown. As it was then ten o’clock, there was no time to lose, but
everything should be prepared at once, and taken on board the schooner.
One thing only was insisted on by Dr. Porter; and that was, that they
should take no firearms. Bart pleaded so hard for his little pistol,
however, that the doctor let him keep it, and satisfied himself by
making them leave the gun behind.



III.

_Another extraordinary Procession.--An eccentric Crew.--A
flighty Shipper.--Wonderful Attachment of Captain, Corbet to his
Offspring.--Stealing a Stone Fence, and raising the Black Flag._


SOON the woods were deserted. Twelve or fifteen boys were selected as
worthy of the adventurous voyage, and these all made their preparations,
while the smaller boys looked on with longing eyes. As for the “B. O.
W. C.,” they had no preparations to make. They needed only to transfer
their provisions and other things from the camp to the schooner.
The teachers were to see about the bedding, &c. These boys therefore
enlisted Old Solomon in their service, and packed their things once
more in the same cart which had taken them to the camp; after which they
waited to accompany the others to the schooner. All possible haste was
made; and soon there started for the schooner a procession even more
extraordinary than the one which had gone into the woods.

First of all went a huge hay-cart crammed with bedding; then followed a
wagon filled with provisions; and after this the cart of the “B. O. W.
C.,” driven by Solomon. Then followed the voyageurs in procession; and
after these came the small boys, green with envy. Messrs. Simmons and
Long walked modestly on the sidewalk, not caring to identify themselves
with so odd a crowd.

In fact it was an odd crowd. First there was Solomon in full canonicals,
then the “B. O. W. C.” in their red shirts and plumed caps, with axes
and knives in their belts; and then followed their companions in the
voyage, dressed more grotesquely still. All the old clothes that could
be found were pressed into service for this occasion. Old pea-jackets,
old “sou’-wester” hats, old coats denuded of skirts, jackets in a state
of dilapidation, battered caps, shocking bad hats, which had not been on
a human head for ever so long,--all were now brought into requisition,
and formed an assemblage which was sufficient to drive an “Old Clo’” man
wild with covetousness.

Now, as Homer, at the outset of his poem, enumerates the ships and
chieftains, so will I complete the enumeration of the voyageurs in this
adventurous expedition.

First, then, there came a little Irishman, who had accidentally dropped
into the Academy, and had remained. His name was Michael Murphy, and
consequently he was always called Pat, except when the boys called him
Patsie,--for short, as they said. He wore an old sky-blue dress-coat,
with three brass buttons still remaining, fastened around the waist with
a red woollen comforter. A battered silk hat, with the top of the crown
off, completed his costume.

With him came Peter Fraser, commonly known as Johnnie Blue, a thick-set,
bullet-headed boy, full of obstinate, persevering courage, and dressed
in a sailor’s pea-jacket, made to fit himself by the simple plan of
cutting off the sleeves. He wore a sou’wester, and carried a sailor’s
knife. In fact, his get-up was very remarkably nautical.

Then came David Digg, a tall, solemn, pale boy, very studious, with
a taste for geology. He wore an old overcoat minus the tails, and a
knitted yarn night-cap. David Digg was always called Bogud by the boys,
from the fact that in one of the rules of the Latin Grammar they had
learned that “David and Bogud are common.”

Then came George McLeod, whose name was facetiously contracted into
Muckle. By some extraordinary means he had obtained possession of a
soldier’s red coat, and produced an immense sensation.

Then came Jacob Wiggins, whose name was easily contracted into Jiggins,
by which name alone he was known. He wore a red bandana handkerchief
around his head, and was arrayed in a big gray homespun coat, which he
had borrowed from a friendly farmer.

After these marched William MacNamara, known as Billymack, wearing a
tail coat, long top boots, and a felt hat.

And last, there was George Henderson, who had gained the singular name
of Sammy Bam Ram, which occurs in one of Dr. Bird’s novels, from some
amusing incident in his school life. A very old jacket, a very ragged
pair of trousers, and a hat on the extreme verge of decrepitude, formed
his attire.

The chief harbor of Grand Pré now goes by the name of Mud Creek, and is
one of the many examples which go to prove that the Anglo-Saxon, though
superior to the Frenchman in colonizing a new country, is very far his
inferior in giving names to the places which he may have colonized. At
this place the party soon arrived, and looked for the vessel. To their
surprise, they found her quite deserted, lying aground at a wharf. On
going aboard, they found that no preparations whatever had been made.

“This is too bad!” cried Mr. Long, in tones of deep vexation. “Corbet
promised to be here early, and have everything ready. I wonder what can
have become of him.”

Saying this, he started off to try and find Captain Corbet. After about
half an hour he returned.

“I’ll tell you what it is,” he said; “we can’t afford to wait. We _must_
begin right away and make our arrangements.”

“There’s no ballast on board,” said Mr. Simmons, who had been carefully
inspecting the vessel, “and no floor in the hold.”

“What!” cried Mr. Long; and hurrying on board, he soon saw that such was
indeed the case. He then stood for a time vexed and perplexed.

“Well, boys,” said he at length, “we must all get to work, so that we
may be ready when Corbet does come. There’s a pile of stones over there
which will do very well for ballast;” and he pointed to a stone wall
which surrounded a garden close by the wharf. “Now come, boys,” he
continued, “form a line from the stones to the schooner, and pass them
all along from hand to hand.”

“But it’s Mr. Brown’s fence,” objected Mr. Simmons, who did not relish
this infringement on the rights of another.

“O, Mr. Brown won’t mind!” was the reply.

“He knows me. Come, boys;” and Mr. Long, who was always rapid and
energetic, soon formed the boys in line, and the stones were speedily
transferred from hand to hand.

“Mr. Simmons,” said Mr. Long, after a time, “I think I’ll go and get
some boards.” And saying this, he hurried away, leaving the others hard
at work, and expecting the absent Corbet. The boys worked with a will;
and even the smaller ones, who were to have no part in the voyage,
formed another line, and passed on the smaller stones. At the end of
two hours the vessel was considered by Mr. Simmons to have sufficient
ballast, the garden wall had vanished, and the boys stood waiting, with
blistered hands, for Captain Corbet.

While they were waiting, Mr. Long once more appeared.

“What! hasn’t Corbet come yet?” he cried.

“No.”

Mr. Long looked around in despair.

“I’ve had to go three miles for the boards,” said he. “They’ll be here
in a few minutes. Everything is against us to-day. We’ve got to work
hard yet, or we won’t get off. Mr. Simmons, would you be kind enough to
go and see if you can find Corbet in the village? and I’ll go down into
the hold to lay the flooring.”

Off went Mr. Simmons, and down went Mr. Long into the hold. The wagon
soon arrived with the boards, which were passed down to him, and
speedily laid over the ballast. Thanks to his skill and energy, the
floor was soon made. Then the boys set to work throwing down the
bedding, and arranging the trunks and baskets. There was not much time,
however, for any arrangements. The things lay in a confused heap, with a
busy crowd laboring to reduce them to order.

At the end of about half an hour Mr. Simmons returned, shaking his head.
He had not found Captain Corbet. Things began to look desperate. It was
now high tide, and high time for leaving. Time and tide, which wait for
no man, were not going to wait for Captain Corbet.

There was the Antelope all ready. She was not much of a vessel, it is
true. She resembled a wash-tub in many important points. She looked
leaky. She smelled strong of potatoes; and rightly so, for that
important vegetable formed her invariable cargo. The name Antelope was a
delightful jest. Her chains were deeply eaten with rust; her cordage
and rigging had a time-worn appearance. A venerable air of decay rested
about her. Yet still, in spite of all, there she was, and a dozen eager
young hearts were burning to embark in her, and be away before the tide
should fall.

At last Mr. Long started off, in company with Mr. Simmons, to hunt up
Captain Corbet, or some other man who might go in his place. The boys
stood about the wharf waiting impatiently for their return.

Mr. Long and his companion hurried to the village inn, and found out
that Captain Corbet lived three miles away. So they borrowed a horse and
wagon, and drove off as fast as possible to the house. Arriving there,
they entered, and beheld a scene which so overpowered Mr. Long that for
a time he could not speak.

[Illustration: 0050]

For there in his kitchen, in a high-backed chair, in front of his own
hearth-stone,--there sat the identical Captain Corbet for whom so many
had been waiting so long. He held an infant in his manly arms, he was
gently tilting his chair to and fro, and tenderly feeding his prattling
innocent with a spoon. So intent was he upon his tender task, that he
did not hear the entrance of his excited pursuers.

“Captain Corbet!”

The tone in which Mr. Long spoke cannot possibly be represented in
print; or at any rate to do so would require more notes of admiration
than are usually found in any common printing office. The tone will
have to be imagined. Suffice it to say, that Captain Corbet dropped the
spoon,--almost dropped the baby also,--and started to his feet as though
he had been stirred up by a galvanic shock administered full on the
ganglionic centres.

“Captain Corbet!” cried Mr. Long, furiously. “Didn’t you say you’d be on
the wharf in good time, and that the Antelope would leave at this tide?”

“Why! it’s Mr. Long!” said Captain Corbet. “Why, Mr. Long! Glad to see
you. Sit down. Why, you railly frightened me. Why, I’m railly pleased to
see you. I am, railly.”

“What do you mean,” cried Mr. Long, in a great passion, “by this
mockery? Here have we been waiting for you ever since morning, and we’ve
had to put the ballast on board with our own hands; and I come here and
find you quite indifferent. What do you mean, sir? Are you going, or
not?”

“Good gracious!” said Captain Corbet. “The ballast! Why, railly now! Did
you go and put it on board? Why, I do declare!”

Mr. Long gave a dark frown, and with a violent effort smothered his
indignation.

“Are you coming, or not?” said he, sternly.

“Coming? Why--not jest now. You see there’s the babby.”

And he put his brown finger under the chin of his offspring, and
actually forgot himself so far as to whistle to it; after which he cast
a furtive glance at his visitors, as though half expecting that they
would admire the child.

“Where’s Mrs. Corbet? It’s _her_ place to mind the child--your place is
on board the vessel.”

“Why, I can’t put the babby on the floor, as I see; nor I can’t take him
on board.”

“Where’s Mrs. Corbet?”

“Why, you see, she started off airly to hunt up some parygolic. The
babby’s troubled with wind, and--”

“When will she be back?” interrupted Mr. Long.

Captain Corbet shook his head solemnly.

“It would take a man with a head as long as a horse to tell that,” said
he, sententiously.

“Where is she then? I’ll drive off and get her.”

“She! law bless you, I don’t know no more’n a onhatched chick.”

“Don’t know! You surely know which way she went.”

“Wal, she kind o’ tho’t she’d go to the village, and then she kind o’
hinted she’d visit her married sister that lives on Billy Jackson’s
farm. They’re down with the measles, and--”

“Bother the measles! Do you mean to say that you let her go off, and
quietly sat down here to nurse your baby, when you ought to have been at
work?”

“I didn’t let her go. She walked off herself. ‘Benjamin,’ says she,
‘take care of the babby.’ He’s dreadful fond of me. Won’t be fed by
nobody else. I ginrally feed him at nights when he wakes. An’ a dreadful
high-sperited creetur is that child’s mother. An’ they shan’t abuse
him. No-o-o-o,” he added, abruptly, turning his conversation toward the
“babby” himself, who began to make faces and utter sounds premonitory of
a howl.

Mr. Long turned abruptly away.

“The man’s an idiot!” said he to Mr. Simmons. “We’ll have to get some
one else to go with us.”

“See here,” said he, turning to Captain Corbet, who was stirring up some
pap to feed his “babby;”

“I’ve engaged your schooner, and I mean to start in her. All our
things are on board, and we can’t lose a whole day. You’ve broken your
engagement; so I’ll go without you. I’ll find somebody that can sail
her. I’ll go to Captain Pearson, or old McNeil, or somebody.”

“There ain’t a skipper in the place. You won’t find anybody. I’m the
on’y schooner here. Everybody is got off to Bosting with taters. I’d
been off, too, on’y for the babby.”

“Well, when can you go?”

Captain Corbet shook his head.

“O, it’ll be all right. I’ll be along--some time. I dare say Mrs. Corbet
’ll be home soon. Don’t be alarmed about me. I’ll put you through.”

“See here, Captain Corbet; I’ll go off now and find somebody to take me.
You’ve deceived me, and disappointed me.”

Saying this, Mr. Long strode out of the house, followed by his
companion, and drove away rapidly in search of some one to navigate the
schooner.

All his efforts were vain. It was as Captain Corbet said. There wasn’t
any one in the place. Every seafaring man had gone off in some kind of
potato craft to Boston, allured by the high prices of potatoes. Fortunes
were being made, and nothing but the desperate imbecility of Corbet
prevented him from having his share in the golden harvest. Time passed.
The tide fell rapidly, and the vessel was again left aground by the
retreating waters. It would be necessary to postpone their departure
until the following day, for they did not care about starting in the
night.

There was no help for it. They would have to wait. Mr. Long went up
again to see Captain Corbet, and extorted from him a promise to leave
at nine o’clock on the following morning. Before he left he had the
satisfaction of seeing Mrs. Corbet arrive home, and got her to promise
that her husband should go. As this was the only thing that could be
done, he went back to make known the state of the case to the boys.

As to the boys, though disappointed, they were not at all cast down.
They had possession of the vessel, with beds and provisions, and on the
vessel they were bound to remain. Mr. Long found that they had eaten
an excellent dinner, and were preparing their evening repast in the
schooner’s hold, which they now considered their home. They did not want
to go to the Academy to eat or to sleep. They were navigators, and their
life was on the ocean wave, their home on the rolling deep.

So they passed the night on board, and found the first experience of
wild life very pleasant. Songs and laughter arose until late, and it was
midnight before the merry voices ceased to rise into the still air.

Early the next morning Mr. Long was down, and found that the boys had
already finished breakfast, and were eagerly awaiting the next turn in
the proceedings of the day. He communicated to them his anxieties about
Corbet, and gave them to understand that they might not get off at all,
unless they could secure the dawdling skipper. He urged them all to
accompany him to Corbet’s house, so as to bring a moral power to bear
which he would not be able to withstand.

This proposal the boys received with three stunning cheers.

Off, then, started all the boys, headed by Mr. Long, who, in his
excitement, no longer cared about the ragged regiment at his heels. For
three good miles they footed it bravely, and at length stood in front of
Captain Corbet’s door. Mr. Long entered, and found the navigator seated
in his kitchen by the fireplace, dandling the babby. The wife of his
bosom was setting the breakfast table.

“Good morning,” said Mr. Long.

“Why, it’s Mr. Long! Railly now,” said Captain Corbet. “An’ it shall see
Mr. Long, too,--so it shall,” he continued, holding up the babby, who
fastened its large blue eyes upon the visitor.

Mr. Long turned away, and spoke aside with Mrs. Corbet. Rightly
considering that she was the true head of the house, he begged her
not to let them be disappointed again. He was successful. Mrs. Corbet
assured him that the moment breakfast was over she would send him off.

“And we will wait,” said Mr. Long.

So they waited patiently; and at last Captain Corbet tore himself away
from his house, his wife, and his babby, and went to the schooner,
accompanied by the ragged regiment of boys.

It was about ten o’clock, and the schooner was afloat. All tumbled on
board. The hawswrs were unloosed. Captain Corbet had to go ashore to
get a man whom he called his “mate;” but as Mr. Long went with him but
little time was lost.

At last the sails were hoisted. The wind filled them, and the Antelope
moved slowly from the wharf. A loud, ringing cheer arose as the schooner
started. Before the last notes died away, however, a man was seen
running down toward the wharf. He was short and fat, and panted heavily.
Reaching the wharf, he cast one look of consternation at the place where
the garden wall had been, and another at the schooner.

“They’ve done it, by jingo!” he exclaimed. “Hallo there!” he screamed.
“Did you go and take my fence for ballast, Corbet?”

“No, I didn’t!” yelled Corbet.

“You did, you scoundrel! Harris saw those young reprobates passing the
stones on board. Bring them back at once, every one of them, or I’ll
make you sup sorrow!”

Here Mr. Long stepped forward.

“It’s all right,” said he. “It’s no matter--”

“What!” cried the owner of the fence. “I say it is _not_ all right; and
it _is_ matter. Bring me back my fence!”

“I’ll bring it back.”

“I’ll have the law of you!”

“All right. We’ll replace it.”

“Bring it back!”

“All right.”

“Bring--back--my--fence--!”

Further and further away the schooner moved, and fainter and fainter
grew the voice that called after them, till at last but a low and
scarcely audible tone could be heard.

As the vessel moved away, Bart stood at the mainmast. He had worked hard
the day before, running some lanyards through the truck, and now the
moment had come for his reward. Bruce Rawdon fired his pistol, and as
the report died away, up to the mast head went the black flag of the “B.
O. W. C.”

And all the boys greeted it with a cheer.



IV.

_Blomidon.--Tides and Fogs.--Songs and Seasickness.--The Five Islands,
and a Race up a Précipice._


WINDING on through the tortuous channel of the creek, they reached its
mouth without accident, and passed out into the bay. The morning was
bright and beautiful, the wind blew fair, and all gave themselves up to
the joy of the occasion. The Antelope, it is true, was of ancient build
and model; she was short, and broad, and round, but the wind was of such
a kind as to bring out whatever capacity for sailing she might have. The
sun shone brightly, and all around them sparkled the blue waves of the
bay. Behind them was the long level of Grand Pré, beyond which the hills
arose, whose slopes were dotted with white houses. Before them was the
wide bay bounded by the Parrsboro’ shore, while conspicuous, as usual,
arose the grand form of Blomidon.

“Is Blomidon a French name?” asked Bart of Mr. Simmons.

“No. It is said to be a corruption of the words _Blow me down_, and it
is spelled that way on old maps. A good many old coasting skippers
pronounce it in that way. The winds that prevail out there off the cape
are a sufficient cause for such a name.”

“Are there more winds off Blomidon than in other parts of the bay?”

“O, yes. It is seldom calm there. It seems as if all the winds of the
Bay of Fundy and of the Basin of Minas struggled together there. It is a
sort of funnel through which they all pour backward or forward. Then the
sea out there is often quite heavy. The meeting of different currents
and different winds causes this. Seldom will you find a place where such
fierce currents rush to and fro.”

“Shall we land at Blomidon first?”

“I do not think we can with this wind. It will be better, I think, to
wait till we come back. We will go across the Basin to the Five Islands
first.”

“Where are the highest tides of this Basin?”

“Do you see away there,” said Mr. Simmons, pointing far away toward the
right, “where the land seems to sink down?”

“Yes.”

“Well, there the water runs up till it ends in the Shubenacadie River.
It is there that the tide runs highest, and I suppose there is no part
of the world where the rise is so great.”

“Do you believe it rises ninety feet?”

“I have heard so,--at spring tides,--but I rather think it is an
exaggeration. It is difficult to get a fair and accurate measurement. I
do not think that it rises much over seventy feet.”

“That is high enough to surpass all other tides, I should think. But
see--hallo! what’s that?”

“And Bart darted to the side of the vessel, attracted by a shout. A
large schooner was approaching, on board of which all were staring with
grinning faces at the Antelope.

“Is that Captain Kidd’s craft?” shouted one of the sailors.

“Yes,” screamed Bart.

“We’re going to dig up a little buried treasure.”

A yell of derision and laughter was the answer, to which the boys of the
Antelope responded by wild, unearthly shouts; and so the vessels passed
each other.

In commemoration of this little incident, one of the boys commenced to
sing a doleful ditty, known in literature as “The Dying Confession of
Captain Kidd,” of which the following lines will give a good idea:

                   “O, my name is Captain Kidd,

                        As I sailed, as I sailed;

                   O, my name is Captain Kidd,

                        As I sailed.

                   O, my name is Captain Kidd,

                   And much wiekedness I did,

                   And a heap of gold I hid,

                        As I sailed.”

One song started another, and one by one their favorite school songs
came out. One of these was the following:

                        1st Verse. (Brisk.)

                        “Three blue-bottles,

                        Three blue-bottles,

                        Three blue-bottles sat

                        On a milestone.”

                        Recitative.

                        “One flew away.”

                        2d Verse. (Slow.)

                        “Two blue-bottles,

                        Two blue-bottles,

                        Two blue-bottles sat

                        On a milestone.”

                        Recitative.

                        “Another flew away.”

                        3d Verse. (Slower.)

                        “One blue-bottle,

                        One blue-bottle,

                        One blue-bottle sat

                        On a milestone.”

                        Recitative.

                        “That one flew away.”

               4th Verse. (Very slow, very sad, and very solemn.)

                        “No blue-bottles,

                        No blue-bottles,

                        No blue-bottles sat

                        On a milestone.”

                        Recitative.

                        “One came back.”

                        5th Verse. (Less sad.)

                        “One blue-bottle,

                        One blue-bottle,

                        One blue-bottle sat

                        On a milestone.”

Gradually the blue-bottles of the song come back, till finally, on the
return of the three, the song comes to a triumphant conclusion.

Standing at the helm, Captain Corbet gave directions from time to time
to the “mate” about sailing the vessel, and listened to the songs of
the boys with a patriarchal smile. He had already shown himself so
accessible, that all the boys had chatted with him; and at last they
insisted that he should sing. Captain Corbet did not need very much
solicitation; Standing at the helm with his eyes half closed, he began
in a thin, shrill, piping, nasal voice, full of queer tremolos and grace
notes, to drone out several melodies of a varied character. The first
one was an ancient ballad, called “The Farmier’s Boy,” which began as
follows:

               “O, the sky was black, the day was cold,

                   And the winds did loud-ly roar,

               When cold and sad there corned a lad

                   Into a farimier’s door.

               “‘Can you tell me,’ says he, ‘if any there be

                   Who want to give emplo-o-o-o-o-o-y

               For to plough and to sow, and to reap and to mow,

                   And to be a farmier’s bo-o-o-o-o-o-o-y--

                   To--be--a--farmier’s bo-o-o-o-o-o-o-y?’”

Another song referred to the charms of domestic life, and was evidently
directed with a fell, satirical purpose against Messrs. Simmons and
Long, who were both hardened bachelors, and who, in Captain Corbet’s
estimation, had shown a degree of callousness and indifference to the
sweet attractions of domestic happiness which could not be too strongly
rebuked.

Meantime the Antelope was drawing nearer to Blomidon, and while
listening to Captain Corbet’s dulcet strains, they were gazing
with admiration at the dark promontory. None noticed that they were
approaching a place where the water, agitated by the wind, and driven by
conflicting currents, was tossing itself up into foaming waves; but all
stood carelessly about, and the song and the laugh went on. Suddenly
the vessel seemed to give a jump, and then a plunge downward. At that
instant a wave came dashing over the bows, saturating to the skin a
little crowd that had gathered there. Then, with a rush, and a crack,
and a wild singing among the rigging, a squall struck the vessel. Over
she went on one side, while fresh waves dashed over her gunwale. In an
instant all was confusion. Every boy grasped some rope, and held on for
his life. The boys who had been drenched at the bows looked forlornly
at their companions. Then--poof! came another blast, and away, away went
five dark objects careering through the air to leeward. A cry from the
“B. O. W. C.” followed this last mishap. They had lost their hats,
their beautiful plumed felt hats, their pride, their joy--lost them
ingloriously and beyond all hope of recovery. With doleful faces they
looked at one another, wondering what they could do. There were no more
hats on board. They thought of handkerchiefs, and so one after another
bound his handkerchief around his head. But now there was not much
chance for lamentation over wet jackets or lost hats. A more dismal fate
was lowering over them. Each one knew it, saw it, felt it in his inmost
soul. For the sea was rough, and the little schooner pitched and tossed
every way, rolling, and leaping, and jumping, more than flesh and blood
could bear. At any rate, their flesh and blood could not bear it. A
feeling of wretchedness came to every heart; every face grew pale,
and assumed an expression of woe. Suddenly Messrs. Long and Simmons
disappeared into the cabin. This was the signal for others. Many
followed. A few, however, preferred the deck, with its fresh air, to
the close air and the sickening smell of bilge-water and potatoes, that
predominated below. But the scene had changed for them as for all, and
the grandeur of Blomidon, and the magnificence of an iron-bound coast,
were forgotten. Hushed was the merry laugh, silent the melodious song.
Gone were the joyous young faces that but a short time before had looked
out from the vessel upon the sea and sky. Faded were the bright eyes,
scattered the bright visions of enjoyment. Alas, how changed!

And now, as they, went on farther, the wind grew fresher, and the waves
grew rougher, and the little schooner danced about like a mad thing; and
the booms creaked against the masts, and the sails flapped furiously,
and the blast went singing through the rigging. The wretched voyageurs
paid no attention to it. Their thoughts were all turned inward. Little
did they think now of that which they had recently been celebrating so
joyously:

                   “A life on the ocean wave,

                        A home on the rolling deep,

                   “Where the scattered waters rave,

               And the winds--and the wi-i-i-i-inds--and the w-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-nds

                        their re-e-e-e-e-vels keep!”

Time passed, and still the Antelope went tossing, and rolling, and
pitching onward.. How long a time no one knew. Not one of the voyageurs
kept any account of that. Whether minutes or hours, they could not tell.
It seemed to them all one long duration, involving days or months. But
at last the motion of the vessel ceased, and she went on more smoothly.
Most of the boys below mustered up their courage, and began to think of
going on deck once more. Soon the joyous voice of Bart Darner summoned
them up.

“Come along, boys. We’re going to anchor. We’re at Five Islands.
Hurrah!”

“Hurrah! Hurrah!”

A loud cry arose. Up went the boys scrambling to the deck, and there the
scene before them was sufficient to drive away all suffering. The water
was smooth, the wind was quieter. Before them lay the outlines of Five
Islands, rising beautifully out of the water between them and the main
land, the nearest one being not more than a mile away. These islands
were of different and peculiar shapes. The two more distant were rounded
and well wooded; the third, which was midway among the group, had lofty,
precipitous sides, and the summit was dome-shaped; the fourth was like
a table, rising, with perpendicular sides, to the height of two hundred
feet, with a flat, level surface above, which was all overgrown with
forest trees. The last, and nearest of the group, was by far the most
singular. It was a bare rock, which rose irregularly from the sea,
terminating at one end in a peak, which rose about two hundred feet
into the air. As they approached it, this rock had a very peculiar
appearance. It resembled, more than anything else, a vast cathedral
rising out of the sea, the chief mass of the rock corresponding with the
main part of the cathedral, while the tower and spire were there in all
their majesty. For this cause the rock has received the name of Pinnacle
Island. This lonely and desolate rock, that thus rose out before them,
grew more distinctly revealed as they drew nearer. At the base they saw
the white foam of breaking surf; while far on high, around its lofty,
tempest-beaten summit, they saw myriads of sea-gulls. Gathering in great
white clouds about this place, they sported and chased one another; they
screamed and uttered their shrill yells, which sounded afar over the
sea.

Nearer and nearer they came, till at last they reached a smooth place on
the lee of the second island. This one was so close by Pinnacle Island,
that it seemed as though they might be joined at low water. Before them,
within a moderate distance, lay a gravelled beach, which extended as
far as they could see at the verge of the island, above which the dark
cliffs towered precipitously.

“There!” said Mr. Simmons, pointing, with sparkling eyes, to the dark
and sombre rocks,--“there, boys, is the place for minerals! I have found
on those rocks the most beautiful specimens, that have ever been seen,
of crystals, of jasper, and of chalcedony. I have found onyx, spar, and
hundreds of other stones; all kinds of agates, fragments of copper ore,
barytes, beautiful petrifactions, and footprints of birds among masses
of sandstone. From those cliffs came the famous amethyst that was once
among the crown jewels of Louis XV. Come, boys, be diligent; use your
eyes, and you will find something worth remembering. David Digg, don’t
forget your hammers.”

His enthusiastic speech was interrupted by a loud shout from Captain
Corbet.

“Let go!” he cried.

Down came the sails; and shortly after, rattle--rattle--rattle--rattle,
and with a plunge and a splash, the anchor rushed to the sea bottom.

“And now for the boats,” said Mr. Long.

The boat was brought up alongside. It was short, wide, and round, and
appeared to have been constructed after the identical tub which had
evidently served as a model for the Antelope. There was but one oar,
which was used to propel the boat by sculling. Not more than five or six
could get into her with safety.

“We can’t all go ashore in that,” said Mr. Simmons.

“Why not?” asked Captain Corbet.

“Why, she won’t hold us.”

“Yes, she will.”

“O, no.”

“Excuse _me_, sir,” persisted Captain Corbet. “Of course you don’t all
mean to go at once.”

“O, I see,” said Mr. Simmons, whose mathematical mind began to grasp the
solution of the difficult problem. “You’ll make two or three trips with
her.”

“Of course.”

“O, that quite alters the case.”

“Bless your heart, of course it does.”

“Will we want any provisions?” asked Bart.

“Provisions! What for?”

“Are we going to camp out?”

“O, no. We’ll return to the vessel. But provisions! O, yes, we’ll want a
lunch ashore, of course.”

And now began the process of disembarkation. Messrs. Simmons and Long,
with two boys, went first. A number of baskets of provisions were thrown
in, and the mate sculled them ashore.

On his return five more boys were ready. The “B. O. W. C.” generously
waited till the last. The loss of their hats had been a sore grievance,
but the handkerchiefs were not a bad substitute. Bart had his pistol
in his belt, and a sailor’s knife. Bruce Rawdon had a beautiful little
hatchet. The others had knives. When the boat returned, they were quite
worn out with impatience, and were almost ready to jump overboard and
swim ashore. But their time of waiting ended at last, and the boat
landed them on the gravelly beach..

It was about two o’clock when the party landed on the island. They had
started at ten, three hours before high tide. The tide was therefore
already beginning to turn, and would of course continue to run out till
seven or eight. On this account, the schooner could not come any nearer
for fear of being stranded. As they did not intend to pass the night on
the island, it was necessary, at all hazards, to keep the vessel afloat.
Captain Corbet had selected a place where he knew the vessel could ride
at all times of tide; and though it was inconveniently distant, yet it
was the only place for her under the circumstances. Mr. Simmons had
told Captain Corbet that he would leave the island in three hours, after
which the schooner was to sail to a port a few miles off on the main
land, and anchor for the night. He had also taken care to let all the
boys understand these arrangements perfectly, and had warned them not to
be too far away when the hour for leaving might come.

As the last of the passengers landed, they walked about the beach,
looking up at the gigantic cliffs, picking up the stones and shells, and
exulting in the novelty of their situation. The island was about half a
mile long, and about half that width. The beach was narrow; and the boys
began to look, with longing eyes, to the summit of the island. In their
wanderings they came across their companions. Mr. Simmons, followed by
Bogud, was busy at the rocks in one place. Mr. Long, with Billymack,
was working away near him. The baskets lay open, and all could help
themselves to lunch. After satisfying their hunger, the “B. O. W. C.”
 quickly determined to explore the island thoroughly, with the hope of
finding a way to the top. With this intention they started off, and at
length found a place which seemed to promise what they desired. It
was at the end nearest to Pinnacle Island. A torrent had made a rough
pathway for itself in that place, and though the stones were somewhat
insecure, yet it seemed safe enough for active lads.

Up this place, then, they tried to climb. The footing was very insecure,
the loose stones constantly rolling down, and making it dangerous for
one to go behind another. It was so steep that they had to climb with
hands as well as feet. They clutched the roots of trees, the long, tough
grasses, and the thick ferns. Thus pulling, pushing, clutching, dodging
stones, and forcing a way up through all difficulties, they-managed to
scramble to the summit.



V.

_Exploring a desert Island.--Tumbling over a Cliff.--Peril of Bruce.--A
mad Row over the waves.--Adrift in the Fog._


ON reaching the summit, the triumphant, climbers gave vent to
their feelings in loud shouts. Looking out from their lofty perch, a
magnificent scene unfolded itself before their eyes. There was the broad
expanse of water. In the distance, a kind of haze rested over the
hills, which, to experienced eyes, would have been significant of
an approaching fog, but it gave no such warning to them. There rose
Blomidon, always the supreme monarch of the scene. Around them were
clustered the other islands; and here, directly opposite them, and
beneath them, was Pinnacle Island, with its cloud of screaming gulls.
Yet it was not to these, or to any one of these, that the eyes of the
boys were most attracted. There, beneath them, lay another object, which
had for them a greater charm. It was the Antelope. There she swung at
her anchor, while ever and anon the passing breeze, as it came by, swept
out the folds of the black flag, from which that benevolent face,
which it bore, seemed to look up at them with a grin of welcome,
encouragement, and sympathy.

It was another proud moment for the “B. O. W. C.”

After feasting their eyes on this fascinating flag, they all started
off to explore the island. There was not much to explore; but what
there was, proved difficult. The trees grew densely, interlacing their
branches, while beneath them was a thick growth of underbrush and ferns.
Fallen trunks, some fresh fallen, others half rotted, intercepted them
at every step; and they had to climb over them or crawl under. Progress
was extremely difficult, and a good half hour was occupied in going
from one end’ of the island to the other. Here they rested for a while,
looking from the edge of the cliff down the precipice-into the sea. Then
they began to return, keeping along the edge of the island, where
the trees and the underbrush were not so dense. Beneath they could see
Messrs. Simmons and Long diligently hammering away. Scattered along the
beach were the other boys. In the air, abreast of them, the sea-gulls
darted about with hoarse screams. One huge fellow flew straight toward
them, without seeing them, carrying a fish in his claws. The sight of
them so frightened him, that he dropped the fish, and flew off with a
harsh shriek. On picking up the fish, they found it yet possessed of
much vigor. Bruce took it and hurled it far out, and watched it to see
where it would fall. It struck its own native element, into which it
sank; and the boys generously hoped that it was able to resume its life,
which had been interrupted by so wonderful a transition into the world
of air.

So they wandered along, finding their way here much easier, and from
time to time stopping to examine some object of interest, to dart into
the woods after something that attracted their attention, or to lean
over the cliff, and let stones fall, ‘and watch them as they fell
straight down, far, down, till they struck the beach below.

By and by they became scattered. Phil Kennedy and Tom Crawford had gone
across the island. Arthur and Bart were walking on, and Bruce lingered
behind to try and find a gull’s nest, which seemed to be somewhere over
the edge of the cliff. He lay down, and bent far over, and at length saw
what he suspected. The gull that was on the nest flew away in affright,
as she saw the face peering at her, and Bruce determined to seize the
eggs. But how could he? The nest was out of his reach, he scrutinized
the place narrowly, and at last concluded that it could be done. About
three feet beneath him was a projecting rock. On this he could Stand;
and holding on to the root of a tree at the edge of the cliff with one
hand, he could extend his other hand far enough to touch the nest. All
this he saw, and at once began to make the attempt. The edge of
the cliff was rocky, and hung over a foot beyond the precipice; the
projecting rock below did not come out so far. About five feet back, a
tree grew, one of the roots of which had projected itself forward, and
crooked itself along the edge, and the earth having been blown away, it
was now exposed. This root Bruce grasped; and lowering himself over the
edge, he let himself down till his feet touched the shelf; then lowering
himself still more, he prepared to reach out his hand.

But at that instant a thrill of horror shot through every nerve. The
shelf on which he was standing seemed slowly to sink beneath him. Well
for him was it at that moment that he had not lowered, himself farther,
and that there had not yet been time to extend his arm to the nest. The
thrill of horror transfixed him. He sprang up, and grasped the root with
both hands. The next instant the shelf crumbled away, and his feet hung
idly in the empty air. A wild shriek sounded out--a shriek of mortal
terror, that sent an icy chill to the heart of Bart and Arthur, and
brought them back in mad anxiety and fear.

Far below, Mr. Simmons had been busily hammering at the cliffs. His
basket was filled with unusually fine specimens, and he had just turned
to send off Bogud with this basket to the landing-place. He was just in
the midst of some directions about a peculiar hammer which he wanted,
when suddenly an immense mass of rock came thundering down, and buried
itself in the gravel, not ten feet in front of him. Mr. Simmons started
back, and rushed far out from the treacherous precipice. Looking up with
a white face, he sought to see the place from which the rock had fallen.

He looked up. A deeper, deadlier pallor came to his face; big drops
started from his forehead; a shriek escaped him.

“O, God! Who is it?” he groaned.

For there on the edge, grasping the tree-root with both hands, hung the
figure of a boy writhing as he sought to find some place for a foothold
against the rock. Two figures were bending over.

By the red shirts which all wore, he knew that the one in danger must be
one of those five that had dressed themselves in this way. But which of
them it was, he could not tell.

His shriek roused others. Mr. Long came hurrying there, and the other
boys, all looking up with eyes of horror and ashen lips. The moments of
that suspense were agony.

There was nothing that they could do. Mr. Long alone tried to do
something. Starting off at full speed, he ran on, trying to find a
place to scale the cliff. Gradually a few others followed. But the rest
thought it was of no use, and awaited the end in voiceless horror.

Meanwhile Bruce Rawdon had clung to the root, shrieking for help, and
trying to find some resting-place for his feet. In vain he tried. The
precipice retreated inward, and the shelf that had fallen left a deeper
hollow behind. Almost senseless with the horror of his situation, he was
conscious of nothing but the fact that friends were near; and for these
he shouted, clinging desperately to the root of the tree. Another boy
might have fallen; but Bruce’s muscles had been toughened by all kinds
of manly exercise, and he had in him the germ and the promise of mighty
strength and stature.

The shriek that roused Arthur and Bart was followed by others, which led
them speedily to the place.

With a groan Arthur flung himself down, and grasped his brother by the
wrist. Bart took a swift glance around.. A small tree was growing near
the edge. Twining his sinewy legs around this, he bent his body over the
precipice, and caught Bruce by the waistband. Then, clutching the tree
with his legs, he made a mighty effort to raise Bruce. The latter, in
the mean while, had seized Arthur, who was also trying to raise him.
But Arthur had not a fair chance to exert his full strength, and so they
prevailed but little against the dead weight which they were trying to
lift.

“Arthur!” cried Bart.

“Well.”

“Can you catch hold of this tree where my legs are? Hold it with one
hand, and then you can pull better with your other. Can you do it?”

“Yes. I’ve got hold.”

“Now then.”

With a tremendous effort, both boys pulled together. The slender tree
bent beneath their efforts. But the weight was raised! Yes! O, thank
God! higher--higher! There was Bruce’s head at the edge, and now his
shoulders. And now he himself, by a last; despairing, convulsive
effort, had flung himself forward, and was on the rock. They dragged him
forward. He was saved.

Arthur burst into tears, and held Bruce in his arms. Bart rushed off
for water. Returning in a few minutes with his leathern cup,--which he
always carried,--full of cold water, he gave it to Bruce. The fainting
boy drank it, and then drew a long breath.

“God bless you, boys!” he said at last, wringing the hand of each. He
would have said more, but he could not.

“I’ll be all right’ presently,” said he, taking a long breath. “My
heart feels painful;” and he pressed his hand against his breast. “Don’t
bother any more, Bart. I’m coming round fast. Just let’s sit here, and
be quiet for a little while.”

They sat there in silence for some time; and gradually the color began
to come back to Bruce’s face.

Suddenly the crackling of brushwood was heard, avid Mr. Long came
running up to them, his face as pale as death, and his eyes round with
the horror of a frightful suspense. The moment he saw the little group,
he flung himself on his knees by Bruce, and, catching him in his arms,
he kissed him again and again.

“Thank God! O, thank God!” he moaned, and burst into tears.

Hitherto Mr. Long had the reputation, among the boys, of being a hard,
unfeeling man; but from that moment this opinion was changed.

Mr. Long said nothing more at that time, partly because he did not wish
to distress. Bruce by any questions just then, and partly because he
was so faint, from the tremendous rush up the cliff, that he could not
speak. In fact, for a time he seemed as much broken as Bruce. So they
sat quietly together waiting.

Mr. Long’s effort was a desperate one, but the only thing to be done. It
is possible that Bart and Arthur, if they could not have drawn up Bruce,
might have held him there for a long time, and in that case Mr. Long
would have been there to save him.

After about an hour, Bruce said he was all right, and they walked toward
the place of descent. It seemed, indeed, as though he had got over his
accident. He said his arms ached a little, and there was a slight pain
in his breast, but that it was passing away. The descent was toilsome,
but Bruce accomplished it as well as any of them. By the time he reached
the shore, he declared himself perfectly well.

Mr. Simmons was there to meet him. He wrung his hand very earnestly,
with tearful eyes, but did not trust himself to speak. Then Bruce told
all about it, and the excitement of this adventure put an end to all
further search for minerals.

At length five o’clock came, and they prepared to go back to the
schooner. The tide had fallen considerably, and a strong current was
running past them. The water was not so placid as it had been, but was
getting broken up, and somewhat rough. The wind had changed, and was
blowing more freshly than before. There were also gathering fog banks,
which were drawing nearer every moment, and threatening soon to be
around them. All things showed, therefore, that it was high time to
retire. Signals were made, and before, long they saw the boat leave the
schooner, and come to the shore.

On landing, the mate wanted to know if any of them could scull a boat.
Bruce said that he could, and so did Arthur and Bart. The mate said that
he wanted to stay aboard to get the sails ready; and to save time, it
would be necessary for some one of them to bring the last boat aboard.
Each one of these three offered to scull her; but it was at last decided
that Arthur should go in the second boat and bring her back, while Bruce
should take the last load. Bart readily gave up his claim to the others;
and so it was arranged.

“But are you sure you’re strong enough for that?” said Mr. Long.

“Strong? Of course.” said Bruce. “I’m stronger than ever, sir.”

So the first boat started with the same load which it had when landing
before, with the addition of one boy more. The next boat took Arthur and
four more boys, leaving Bruce, and Tom, and Phil, and Bart.

About an hour had passed between the time when the boat left to take
them from the island and the time when Arthur brought it back for the
last trip. In that hour many changes had taken place. The tide had
fallen farther. Between the beach, where they stood, and Pinnacle
Island, the rocks were laid bare, and could be traversed on foot.
Between the schooner and the shore, a swift current was running,
which grew stronger every moment. By six o’clock the current was very
powerful. The mate, on his second trip, had considerable difficulty in
getting to the schooner; and he had given very careful directions to
Arthur as to the course which he should go in returning.

“You must head the boat farther up,” said he, “so as to strike the
scho’oner fair. I didn’t cal’late right about that there tide. You’ve
got to head your boat well off that side, and then the tide ‘ll help you
instead of henderin’.”

“All right,” said Arthur.

In going ashore, he found the current very strong; but the beach
was long, and, of course, it was very easy to land somewhere. As it
happened, he was carried down some fifty feet below the place which
he wished to reach; but that didn’t make any practical difference. It
served to open his eyes to the peculiar danger before them, and made him
see that the very greatest care would have to be exercised in returning,
or else the swift tide would sweep them away from the place to which
they wished to go.

As Arthur looked round, after the other boys had got in, an exclamation
burst from him.

“Whew!”

“What’s the matter?”

“Why, the fog. How suddenly it has come up! Why, it’s getting as thick
as night. Look here, Bruce; we’ve got to be pretty careful this time.
See here; you must head out that way, for the current is running like a
race-horse, and this fog isn’t helping matters.”

He then proceeded to explain to Bruce the best course to take, and Bruce
said he would do exactly as he told him.

“You’re sure you can do it. You’re sure you’re not used up at all,” said
Arthur.

“Not a bit of it!” said Bruce, with a laugh.

“If I feel used up, I’ll hand over the oar to you or Bart.”

Saying this, he worked away with vigorous pushes, and the boat moved in
the direction indicated by Arthur.

Bruce soon found that Arthur had not exaggerated the force of the
current. It seemed to drag the boat sidewise with fearful power. But a
strong hand was at the scull, and the boat’s course was true, and every
moment brought them nearer.

As they went, the fog grew thicker at every foot. The wind blew more
strongly, and the water grew rougher, making the progress of the clumsy
boat more difficult. Soon the shore grew indistinct; but this they did
not regard, since their eyes were fixed on the schooner, to which they
drew steadily nearer. There, on board, stood the-other boys; and Mr.
Simmons was talking to Captain Corbet, and Mr. Long was watching them
with some anxiety. The mate stood near the bow with a rope, ready to
throw as soon as they should come within reach.

But though near enough to see all this, they could not hope to get there
yet without a severe effort. For now the farther out they went, the
stronger grew the current; and Bruce felt a heavier drag, against the
boat, and gathered up his strength for sterner exertions. He took a
hasty look at the schooner, so as to get her bearings, and then headed
the boat at a sharper angle against the current. This was admirably
calculated; and now the boat fell off less, and seemed to work itself
steadily toward the schooner.

Arthur was in the bows, anxiously watching the boat’s course. The other
boys sat in silence, conscious of the hazard before them, but facing it
bravely. On board the schooner not a word was spoken. Mr. Long’s face
seemed to grow more anxious. His hands clutched one another with a rigid
grasp, and his eyes seemed fastened on Bruce. The mate stood with his
rope, not venturing to make any suggestion, for he saw that Bruce was
doing all that could be done. His forehead was contracted into a painful
frown, and he was whistling softly to himself (from a habit that he had
acquired), and which, in him, was a sign of grave perplexity of soul.

Nearer and nearer came the boat; but the anxious watchers began to
see that, the current was swerving them off more rapidly than they had
expected, and that the angle of the boat’s drift would lie not so near
as they hoped. Bruce saw this, and summoned up a new force out of his
strong muscles. A few mighty ‘strokes, and something was gained even
against the pressure of that tremendous current. There was the schooner.
On--on; nearer--nearer.

They had hoped to touch her bow; but now they saw it would be well if
they could get near her stern. Back ran the mate with his rope. Not a
word was spoken. No one ventured to call for greater exertions from
that brave, strong boy, who was plying his oar so mightily. And now the
moment had come. Forward sprang the mate, and the rope sped through the
air. Arthur’s hands were extended to seize it. Bruce did not abate one
stroke, but worked with desperate energy. The boat was borne past the
schooner’s quarter. The rope touched Arthur’s right hand,--his fingers
closed around it.

Alas! it was but the extreme end of the rope that he held; and before
his other hand could seize it, it had slipped through his fingers, and
fell into the water.

“Row, row, Bruce! I’ve dropped the rope!”

A groan burst from Bruce. He gave three tremendous strokes. They were
the last efforts of despairing energy. As he moved his arms to make the
fourth, he staggered back. The oar fell from his nerveless grasp. He
sank down, with a groan, at the bottom of the boat.

“Boys, I--I’m dying!”

Gasping out these words, Bruce closed his eyes, and lay motionless.

A cry of dismay and terror burst from the schooner. Pallid faces, and
eyes of horror, were turned toward the boat, which now, hurled on by
the swift current, was borne farther and farther away, until at last it
vanished from view in the fog.



VI.

_Up Anchor and after them.--Blast of the Foghorn.--A long Search amid
Mists, and Darkness, and Storms._


AS the boat drifted away from the schooner, horror for a time seemed
to have struck dumbness into all on board. From this stupor Mr. Long was
the first to rouse himself.

“Captain,” he cried, “we must up sail and after them.”

“Which way shall wo go?”

“After them any way. Follow the poor lads before they get any farther.
Come, boys, up with the anchor! Corbet, up with your sails!”

The way that anchor was walked up was a wonder. In an incredibly short
space of time the schooner was dashing through the water, swept on by
wind and tide.

“Which way does this current take us?” asked Mr. Long.

“Well, right round the island, and down to Biomidon, and then out into
the Bay of Fundy.”

“I can’t see the island.”

“No; the fog’s too thick; but it’s right off there,” said Captain
Corbet, waving his left hand.

“I suppose the poor lads couldn’t work ashore.”

“Not with, their bare hands. Their oar’s gone--that’s the mischief of
it.”

Mr. Long looked gloomily around.

“The only thing, then, is for us to follow on where they may be
drifting.”

“You’ve hit the nail on the head, sir. There’s nothin’ else for us--not
a hooter.”

“How far is the main land from here?”

“Several miles.”

“Does the current strike near it anywhere?”

“No, _sir!_ It goes straight in a bee line for Blomidon.”

“After leaving this island, then, Blomidon is the nearest land for
them.”

“Yes, or Parrsboro’.”

“How long will it take them to drift there?”

“About three hours.”

“How far will they be likely to drift?”

“Let me see. It’s seven o’clock now. It’s nearly dead low tide’. It’ll
be on the flood soon, and by the time them there lads get to Blomidon,
there’ll be a flood tide.”

“And how will that be for them?”

“It’ll drift ’em back.”

“In which direction?”

“Wal, sir, it would take a man with a head as long as a hoss, tail and
all, to answer that there pint. Lor’ bless you, in this here bay there’s
no knowin’ where the tide ‘ll drift a man.”

“If it weren’t for the fog, there’d be no danger,” said Mr. Long,
musingly.

“That there’s an ondeniable fact, at any rate.”

“Do you think the fog will continue?”

Captain Corbet screwed his head round in the direction of the wind, and
drew up his face into a most extraordinary grimace.

“Well, I rayther think,” said he, slowly, “that you’ve got me there.”

“You don’t know, then, anything about it,” said Mr. Long, impatiently.

“Not a hooter.”

Mr. Long walked away, and looked mournfully out over the dim sea.

Deep sadness and sore anxiety now reigned over the little vessel. Mr.
Simmons said not a word, but sat staring fixedly at the fog. The boys
stood in silent groups. Not a word was spoken.

Mr. Long walked forward to the bows, and looked out. The wind was
increasing, and the sea was growing rougher. Evening was passing away,
night would come--and then, what! To think of those poor lads in the
boat was anguish. He walked back again to Captain Corbet.

“Where are we now?”

“Wal, we’re just roundin’ the island.”

“I can’t see it.”

“No, I have to give her a wide berth. It’s low tide, and the ledges are
dangerous.”

“Do you think the boat may be drifting out here, or nearer in shore?”

“Wal, accordin’ to my cal’lation, they’d oughter be out here somewhere.
Jedgin’ by the direction the boat took, I should say I was followin’
pooty close in their track, though there’s no knowin’ for sartin.”

“Oughtn’t we to be up to them by this time?”

“Wal, I don’t know. You saw the pace they went off at. Geeracious! Talk
of race-hosses! Why, that boat went off at a rate to beat all creation
holler!”

“But we’re going faster. We have the same current, and we’ve got sails
up.”

“Never a truer word; but then it took some time for us to get a start,
and in that time, gracious ony knows where they’ve got to. The ony thing
that we’ve got to do, as I can see, is to keep follerin’ our noses right
straight on, and keep in the current.”

Suddenly a thought struck Mr. Long. Rushing down into the cabin, he
returned with a fog-horn, and raising it to his lips, blew a long,
piercing blast.

“That’ll fetch ’em, if anything does,” said Captain Corbet.

“Silence!” cried Mr. Long, listening intently, while all others on board
stood listening for the return cry.

But no sound came back.

“They’ve got a pistol, and if they hear us, they would fire. Have you a
gun, captain?”

“Nary gun.”

“This horn, then, is the best thing. Shouting is of no use,” said Mr.
Long; and he blew another blast.

Again they listened, and again there was no response. To their waiting
ears, as they listened in an anguish of expectation, there came no
answering cry, no shout, no pistol shot--nothing but the plash of waves
near by, the singing of the wind through the rigging, and the boom of
the surf on some distant beach which the fog hid from view.

On went the schooner, and Mr. Long blew unweariedly, clinging to this
horn as something by which he still might gain access to the lost boys,
and finding in this occupation something of that antidote to pain which
action of any kind yields to the energetic nature. But time passed
on, and only the winds heard these shrill blasts, and only the winds
responded to the signal.

So darkness came upon them, and night; and the darkness of this night
was intensified, by the thick fog, so that it became a darkness which
might be felt.

“Ef we want to save the boys,” said Captain Corbet at last to Mr. Long,
who stood dejectedly near him, “my opinion is, that we’d better keep
afloat ourselves; but at the rate we’re goin’, it’s my opinion that
before long we’ll be high and dry. And we may thank our blessed stars if
we light on a mud flat, and don’t get dashed to small bits on Blomidon.
Them’s my sentiments.”

“Why, don’t you know where you are?”

“No more idee where I am than the man in the moon.”

“I thought you knew the coast.”

“So I do--like a book.”

“What do you mean, then?”

“Why, if it was only the fog, I wouldn’t mind; but, mind you, there’s
the tides. The flood tide ’ll be coming along soon, and then where’ll
we go to? We may get twisted up into an eddy, and find ourselves on
Cape Split; or we may glide up to Windsor, or get thrown on the rocks,
goodness ony knows where. There’s no knowin’ where these tides may take
it into their blessed hearts to drift us to. So the long and the short
of it is, I move we anchor.”

“But isn’t it a common thing for schooners to drift about here?”

“Not in the Basin of Minas, thank you. No, sir. Not if they can help it.
Out in Fundy it’s different. Fundy hain’t got no bottom to anchor on,
except near the shores. Fundy ain’t one universal mud bank, nuther.
Out in Fundy every skipper cal’lates on driftin’, jest as a sea captain
cal’lates on navigatin’ by scientific observation. Driftin’ in Fundy is
a science by itself, and vessels make v’y’ges back’ard and for’ard by a
new patent driftin’ process. But in here nobody drifts. It’s no go.”

Mr. Long gave a heavy sigh.

“At any rate, let’s drift a little longer. I cling to hope of coming up
with the boys.”

“Comin’ _up_ with them! Law bless my heart alive, we’ve comed up with
’em and passed ’em long ago. We’ve got on different tracks somehow.
Ef they’d been afloat, they’d never missed hearin’ that everlastin’
trumpet you’ve been a-blowin’ on so like all possessed.”

Now all this time since they had left the anchorage the wind had been
blowing strongly. As the darkness increased, Captain Corbet had taken
in his foresail. The water grew rougher, the little schooner labored
heavily, and pitched, and tossed, and rolled about, while the waves
dashed over her bow. Mr. Simmons had retired to his berth with the
bodily pangs of seasickness superadded to his mental anxiety. One by one
the boys had disappeared below, and for an hour or more none were left
on deck but Mr. Long, Captain Corbet, and the mate. A light had been
hoisted, and Mr. Long still blew the fog-trumpet.

But he no longer blew it with any hope. Captain Corbet had presented
full before him a palpable fact, and that was, that they must be far
away from any place where the boat could possibly be. They had sailed
on and passed beyond them. They could not have been near the beat at any
time. Some other current must have carried it away in another direction.
Had it not been so, they must assuredly have heard those shrill yells,
and in that ease they would have responded. Either they had been caught
in another current, or else that had happened to them on which he dared
not think. But then, even so, if they had got into another current,
could it avail them? For that boat to drift out into this sea would be
sure destruction.

“Captain,” said he, “are there more currents than one about those
islands?”

“As many currents as there is hairs on a hoss’s tail.”

“Then it’s quite likely they got into another one.”

“It’s sartin.”

“Can you conjecture how they may have gone?”

“Wal, you see the current we came by was a kind of inside one that took
us round the nighest island. Now, outside of that there was another
current that kind V goes round the next island, which is a bigger one
than the one we were at. I’ve been turnin’ it over in my head, and I
cal’late that that there boat, jedgin’ by the course she took as she
shot by us, got swept into the outer current, and was driven away around
the outer island.”

“We couldn’t have been near her at all, then.”

“It seems not.”

“Where could they have been when we began to blow?”

“As near as I can cal’late, jedgin’ by the natur’ of the currents, and
the course they took, they might have been off the farthest end of the
other island.”

“How far away from the place where we were?”

“Over two miles--yes, more’n three miles.”

“How far can you hear one of these fog-horns?”

“About a mile.”

“So they couldn’t have heard us?”

“Couldn’t have heard a note. No, sir. And that accounts for their
silence.”

“Where does the current go to, after going round that island you speak
of?”

“Wal, there’s a good many, but there’s two main currents: one goes round
the island, and returns and jines the one that we come down by.”

“And if the boat came by that, it would be behind us.”

“Jes so.”

“About how far?”

“O, ten miles or more by this time.”

“If so, every moment now takes us farther from them.”

“That’s about it, anyway you take it. But the flood tide’s catching us
now, and where it’s takin’ us to’s more’n I know.”

“It will take the boat too.”

“Yes; of course.”

“You spoke of another current.”

“Yes, the other current sweeps around farther up, nigh unto the main
land, and takes a turn and comes down, till it jines the gen’ral current
along with the others.”

“So, if they had drifted into that, they would still be behind us.”

“Of course.”

“Where do you think we are now?”

“Can’t tell. Somewhere near Blomidon, though perhaps I’m jest as near
Horton Bluff.”

“How far would the boat drift till the tide turns?”

“Wal, they would have time to drift nearly to Blomidon.”

“And when the tide turns, you can’t tell where they’d go?”

“No, _sir_--nor nobody else.”

“What chance would there be of the boat keeping afloat?”

Captain Corbet shook his head.

“It’s rough--precious rough. Ef it had been any other boys than them
there partic’ler boys, I’d have my doubts. They’d all be swamped, sure
as a gun. But them there boys is oncommon lively creeturs. An’ they’ve
got a great idea of a rowboat, though they don’t know nothin’ of
sailin’. They’d manage to keep afloat as long as anybody I know of.
They’d make a precious hard fight of it afore they’d knock under, mind,
I tell you. They’re boys that are up to snuff. They mind me of my babby.
My babby is the cutest little creetur that ever I see in all my born
days. Why, that there infant last week--jest a week ago to-morrow--that
there infant--hallo--O--ah--hur--why, I declare--Mr. Long--why, he’s
gone, ah’ hasn’t heard about the infant.”

It was a fact. Mr. Long had gone, and had lost the story of the infant.
A moment afterward the shrill blast of the horn sounded out over the
deep.

“Captain,” said he, as he came back again, “I won’t object any more to
your anchoring. Do as you choose. God alone knows what is best to do. He
alone can save those dear boys. I must try to trust them to him.”

A few moments after, the vessel was swinging at her anchor in twenty
fathoms water.

Captain Corbet and the mate calmly retired to sleep, leaving the
schooner to take care of herself. But there was one who slept not all
through that night. Mr. Long could not leave the deck. The air below
was stifling to one so full of anxiety and suspense as he was. All
night long he paced the deck with unwearied footsteps,--all night
long,--stopping at times to sound his trumpet; stopping again to peer
through the thick darkness that hung around like a funeral pall over the
grave of the departed. There, too, over and over again in the darkness
and the gloom of that night, he knelt down on that deck, and poured
forth all the anguish of his soul, calling forth out of his despair unto
Him who alone is able to save. After each prayer his soul would grow
calmer, and the storm of his agitated heart would cease for a time,
till, gradually reassuming its strength, his grief would once more
return, to be once more dispelled by prayer. So, amid vigil, and
fasting, and prayer, and grief, passed, the night away; and when the
dawn came, there stood this man looking out over the sea, with a face
pale from suffering, and eyes dimmed with unfamiliar tears.

The dawn of day brought at least one comfort. The wind had changed
during the night, and the fog had gone. The wide sea once more unfolded
itself, and as the light grew stronger, Mr. Long eagerly scanned it in
all directions in search after the lost ones. At last, rousing Captain
Corbet and the mate, he urged them to set sail once more.

Captain Corbet came on deck, and looked round in great curiosity to
see where he was. He had gone to sleep in beautiful ignorance of his
whereabouts, and it had been an interesting problem as he dozed off to
sleep.

The moment he looked around, he uttered a cry.

“Good gracious!”

Mr. Long looked inquiringly at him.

“Ef I ain’t back at my own door! Don’t you see it, Mr. Long? Why, darn
me, ef we haven’t drifted clean back to Grand Pré!”

Mr. Long looked in wonder to where Captain Corbet pointed, and there,
to his surprise, he recognized the familiar shore. A cloud came over his
brow. The thought of the lost ones came to him more vividly as he saw
the place which might possibly be doomed to know them no more forever.

“Ef it warn’t-dead low tide,” said Captain Corbet, “darn it ef I
wouldn’t have a good mind to tie up the old Anty to the nighest stump,
and take a run up to see the babby.”

Mr. Long turned upon him with so terrible a frown that Captain Corbet
was awed.

“O--I didn’t mean it. I--I ony made the remark. Of course I didn’t mean
it--it’s ony a leetil outbust of parential affection.”

“Come, make haste!” said Mr. Long, sternly. “There’s no time to lose. We
must scour the bay till we find the boys.”

The anchor went up, and up went the sails, and the Antelope once more
spread her wings to the blast, and went over the waters.

But where could they go?

That was the question which it was difficult to answer. Where, or in
what direction, east, west, north, or south?

Through all that day they sailed about. First, they went down the
straits past Blomidon; then, turning back, they stretched away far over
to the farthest extremity of the bay. They spoke what vessels they met.
They watched every floating object, and it was with a feeling of relief
that each one resolved itself into a chip, or a shingle, or a log, and
never into a hat or the seat of a boat.

So passed the day.

Searching in such a way, without any clew, it was difficult for them
to feel that they were doing anything. While they were searching in
the east, the traces of the object, of their search might all be in
the west; and while they were examining the north, the boat might be
drifting in the south; or, while they were in the Basin of Minas, the
boat might be helplessly carried about by the currents of the Bay of
Fundy.

One thing there was to comfort them; and that was, the departure of
the fogjdhe clear atmosphere, the pleasant breeze, the bright sunshine.
Several vessels had been met with, and all had promised to keep a
lookout and engage other vessels in the same service. On such a sea,
and under such a sky, there could be no danger, if the boat had survived
the night.

But _had_ the boat survived the night?

Alas! and alas! who could answer that!

Mr. Long, at any rate, would not give up. As though in defiance of fate,
he would not haul down that flag which Bart had hoisted, but kept it
flying, in the fond hope that it would once more greet their eyes.



VII.

_Lost in the Fog.--At the Mercy of the Tide.--The last Rock.--Wanderings
on a lonely Shore.--A great Discovery.--A new Mode of Cooking._


MEANTIME, what had become of the boys? Was the “B. O. W. C.” thus
overwhelmed beneath the dark wave? Were all the grief, and the watching,
and the tireless search of the noble-hearted Mr. Long to be unavailing?

We shall see.

As the boat sped away, dragged on by the swift current, the boys sat
in astonishment and consternation. Bart supported Bruce’s head,
and Arthur hurried to the stern to assist. They wet his pale brow in
silence; while Bruce, in a faint voice, told them that he had been
seized with a sudden spasm. He soon felt better, though unable to exert
himself.

By that time the fog had closed in around them, and both the schooner
and the shore had been shut out from their view. They were drifting
swiftly on, they could not tell where. For a long time they sat watching
and waiting--how long they did not know. In seasons of suspense, moments
are prolonged to hours; and so it was here. On they went, and still on.
Each one well knew all the possibilities of the danger that lay before
them. There was a wide and a wild sea, overspread with fog-clouds, where
the waves were rising and the night was coming down. Into the midst of
all this they were being borne by swift currents. This they all knew,
yet not a sound of dismay escaped any one of them. Whatever each one may
have felt of fear, he sat in silence and gave no sign. There were
stout hearts that beat in those slender, boyish breasts, that awaited,
undismayed, the terrors of the deep.

Bart was the first to rouse himself.

“Boys,” said he, drawing forth a tin pail from under the seat, “we must
fight for our lives, and make up our minds to pass the night here. Well
have to use this concern, I think.”

“Here’s something, too, that may be of use,” said Arthur, drawing out
a narrow plank from the bottom of the boat. “Phil, there’s another one;
just draw it out.”

Phil reached down for it, but Tom Crawford dragged it out first.

“I’m stronger than you, Phil,” said he. “If there’s to be any paddling,
I’ll do it.”

Meanwhile Arthur drew his knife, and began cutting at the plank so as to
fashion it into an oar. Tom did the same.

Soon they were interrupted by a shout from Bart.

“Hurrah, boys! Land! land!” he cried. “Look! look!” and he pointed to the
left.

True enough, there was the dim outline of black cliffs rising high not
far away. Past these they were drifting. In an instant Arthur and Tom
put out their planks, and began to use them as paddles, in the Indian
fashion, heading the boat toward the shore, and putting forth all their
strength. Bart, too, tried to use his dipper for a paddle.

The boat drifted on; but the current swept them in nearer and nearer.
Some progress was also made by the paddles, rude though they were.

Borne on by the tide, the boat every moment drew nearer to the shore;
yet every moment it was swiftly drifting by, and it now became a
question whether it would be at all possible for them to reach, the
land. Already they could see the end of the island, a precipitous cliff,
not far away, toward which they were drifting. A few minutes more, and
they would be there.

The cliff was high. At its base there was a ledge of rocks, which ran
down into the water. At this low tide the ledge extended for a long
distance, and terminated in a projecting mass, which was covered with an
immense growth of sea-weed.. Around this point the current passed, and
it was to this that the boat was speeding.

And now all their exertions were put forth to extricate the boat from
the central grasp of the current. Already, thanks to their former
exertions, they had forced it from the centre to the edge of the tide,
and a few more vigorous efforts might bring them to the shore.

But so swift was the tide, that it seemed about to snatch them away from
that shore when it was just within reach. It seemed as though they could
almost have waded ashore if they had jumped overboard. But that, of
course, could not be done, for the power of the current would have swept
any one away who should try it.

To every stroke of the rude paddles the tide brought a counteracting
influence; and for every six inches of forward motion, there were two
feet of sidelong drift. The boat’s head was toward the shore, but
her motion was broadside; and so the shore seemed ever near, yet
inaccessible, and most unattainable when most within reach.

And so on past the whole length of the island, until the cliff at the
farthest extremity was reached and passed. They were but ten feet from
the shore. The rocky ledge, covered with sea-weed, still extended before
them. It was to this that they now tried to force the boat.

Ten feet! Only ten feet! And the ten feet lessened to nine, and the nine
to eight, and the eight to seven, and the seven to six.

But six feet between them and the shore!

But six feet! Would they--could they--fail at last?

Six feet only! But the tide was wild and strong, and now, at this last
crisis of their fate, seemed like some living monster, fearful that
his prey was escaping from his power. It was as though his grasp
was fastened on them with a fiercer clutch and a more desperate
tenacity,--as though, at this supreme hour, he had risen in his might,
and, even at the very gate of his domain, had seized them, and was
trying to draw them to destruction.

But six feet! Yet between them and the rock of their hope, even in those
few feet of watery distance, what risks and dangers lay--what chances of
loss--what baffled hopes--what despair!

The suspense was anguish.

On they went with the fury of the torrent. “O, why haven’t I a paddle!”
 groaned little Phil Kennedy. Bruce raised himself, and looked around,
with his pale face and staring eyes. Arthur, and Tom, and Bart put forth
their last energies.

Four feet!

Not a word was spoken. The tightly compressed lips, the resolute eyes,
the frowning brows of the struggling boys, spoke of their resolution;
their panting, heaving breasts told how heavily they labored with their
clumsy, unwieldy oars.

A roar sounded in their ears to the right. It was the rush of the
current as it swept past the extreme verge of the ledge. There was the
open sea. There lay their last chance; beyond it--destruction.

They knew it--they felt it. That sound struck on their ears like the
knell-of doom. One last effort--one superhuman struggle. Nearer came the
boat; although even then trembling on the extreme verge, yielding to the
current, it turned slightly, bringing its head closer to the rock.

It was done.

In an instant, arms were outstretched, and Bart’s hands were clinging to
the sea-weed. For a moment the boat was checked.

Tom Crawford and Phil Kennedy grasped the sea-weed also; and at that
instant, Arthur, seizing the boat’s rope, sprang ashore. His leap jerked
the boat, which, caught by the tide, was swept off, leaving masses of
sea-weed, torn from the rocks, in the hands of the boys.

A cry of despair arose.

But Arthur held the rope wound about his hands. As the boat moved, he
steadied his feet for the struggle. The swift tide bore it off. As the
rope tightened out, the fury of the current, driving against the boat,
contended with the strength of that one boy. For a moment it was the
boy who lost. At the first jerk, his feet slipped on the treacherous
sea-weed. He fell. He was dragged toward the water.

No sound escaped from those in the boat,--not a word either of fear for
themselves or of encouragement or warning to Arthur. Well they knew that
Arthur would die on the rocks, or be drowned in the sea, rather than
lose his hold of that rope, which, in his desperate purpose, he had
twisted round his hands.

For a few moments Arthur could not recover himself. On that slippery
sea-weed there was no foothold. He was drawn nearer and nearer to the
water. He looked around hastily. At last he saw the round top of a
boulder a little on one side. To this he managed to work himself,
letting the boat yield to the tide still more as he did so. A few steps,
and he was there. He plunged into the water, he pressed his feet against
that stone, and then, drawing himself back, he pulled with all his
strength.

The boat yielded. The power was now in his hands. Grasping the rope
nearer, he drew the boat in more closely, and at last it touched
the-shore.

They were saved at last!

Out leaped Bart into the water, and, holding the boat, he added his
strength to that of Arthur. The others followed as quickly as possible.
Bruce had begun to regain his strength once more, and was able to get
out without help. The unparalleled exertions which he had undergone on
the cliff had given a severe strain, which, in his final struggle to
reach the schooner, had resulted in a spasm of his heart. From this he
was now rallying once more. Joy at reaching the land did much to restore
him, and he was soon able to start wherever the others wished to go.

Their first movement was to go away from the ledge farther up to the
beach. The rocks were flat, and not very difficult to walk over.
They towed the boat as they went, which was a difficult task, but
successfully accomplished. After severe exertions, they at length
brought the boat about a quarter of a mile up to a place where there was
an indentation in the line of shore, and scarcely any current. Here they
hauled it up some distance, and fastened it securely. After this they
went up to the gravelly beach at the foot of the cliff, and sat down to
rest for a while, and to consider the situation.

The fog was as thick as ever, and they could see but a little distance
along the beach, or out on the water. The side of the island on which
they found themselves was sheltered from the chill wind. As to the boat,
it was impossible to draw it up any farther. It would be necessary to
wait until the tide rose higher, before they could bring it into a place
of safety. But little could be done, except watch it from time to time.

It was now late, and darkness was coming on rapidly. Soon they would’ be
surrounded by the impenetrable shades of night. Bart and Arthur offered
to go along the shore and find some place where they could pass the
night, leaving the others to watch the boat, and see if there were any
signs of the schooner.

But then the important question arose, what should they do for their
suppers? For a time this puzzled all of them.

“I’ll tell you what it is, boys,” said Bart at last; “I think I know how
to get something; We passed a place down on the shore where there were
lots of mussels. Tom, you come along with me, and Phil can go with
Arthur. Bruce may watch here.”

This plan was eagerly adopted; and as there was no time to lose, the
boys set out. Fortunately, the place spoken of by Bart was not far
away, and fortunately, too, the rocks were covered with shell-fish of
different kinds, and the hollows of the rocks filled with them. Tom and
Bart heaped them into their handkerchiefs.

“Hallo!” cried Bart, suddenly, in a joyous tone. “See here, Tom.”

“What?”

“Come here.”

Tom went, and found Bart plunging his hands most vigorously into a pool
of water, which the retreating tide had left in a rocky hollow.

“What have you got there?”

“I call them shrimps,” said Bart, holding one up in his hands. “They’re
rather small, though. Go about and hunt up another hole.”

Tom went off, and in a short time called to Bart in a loud voice.

Bart started up.

Tom was walking toward him with a large, dark object in his hand.

“A lobster!” cried Bart. “A lobster! Hurrah! and hurrah again! Tom,
you’ve saved us all from starvation. Good on your head. We needn’t wait
here any longer, for it’s getting dark, and we’ll have to join the other
fellows.”

On returning to Bruce, they displayed their treasures, to the great
delight of all. Arthur and Phil had also been successful. Walking
farther up the beach, they had come to the end of the cliff, and reached
a steep, well-wooded bank. It was not far away, and there were fir
trees, from which they could easily cut enough brush to make very
comfortable beds. There was also plenty of drift-wood, with which they
could make a fire.

Without any more delay, the boys all started off, first marking the
place so as to know where to go for the boat. Beaching the bank, they
gathered drift-wood, and logs, and fir-brush, with which they built a
fire on the beach at the foot of the cliff, where it adjoined the bank.
They had plenty of matches in their pockets, and soon the fire was
lighted; the flames rushed fiercely through the inflammable brush-wood,
and the boys kept gathering fresh fuel from all sides and heaping it on.

“And now to cook our tea,” said Bart. “Let’s get a lot of stones, and
put them in the fire till they get red hot. Then we can draw them out,
and roast all our shell-fish splendidly.”

This suggestion was at once acted on, and the boys gathered stones and
threw them in.

After this they all went to work collecting driftwood from all sides,
till a large pile was heaped up, sufficient to last them through the
night.

Then, in turn, each one took the hatchet and went up the bank, and cut
as much fir-brush as he considered necessary for a bed. The darkness had
increased, and the fog intensified it; but the towering flames, as they
leaped up, illumined the scene, affording them sufficient light to cut
the brush, and throwing a strong glare along the beach as far as the
place where their boat lay.

And next, they pulled out the stones from the fire, and arranging some
of them in the sand, they laid the lobster on the top, and piled other
stones around them, till the lobster lay buried in an oven as good and
as serviceable as that of the best kitchen range. A number of shell-fish
were thrown on other stones, and the shrimps were easily cooked by being
laid on the top of a hot stone for a few minutes. While waiting for the
lobster, they appeased their hunger by cooking and eating these smaller
fry.

“I never ate baked lobster,” said Bruce; “but I’ve heard that it’s the
best thing there is.”

“We’ll soon judge for ourselves,” said Bart. “Only before we fairly sit
down to dine, let’s go off and draw the boat up farther.”

Four of them started off. They found that already the tide had risen
so far that it was level with the bows. A long and vigorous exertion
enabled them to draw it up farther, and then they went back to the fire.

By that time it was decided that the lobster had been baking long
enough, and it was accordingly uncovered.

A cry of delight escaped them.

There lay the lobster, brilliantly red, as though red hot from the oven,
and showing clearly the excellence of Bart’s contrivance.

“That’s the way the Micmacs manage,” said Bart. “And they wouldn’t look
at a lobster that came out of a pot.”

Ranging themselves around the lobster, in front of the fire, the boys
now began their repast. One and all pronounced it glorious. It was salt
enough and juicy enough to satisfy the most delicate palate; and the
severe exercise and long fast of the boys had given them appetites which
would have made a worse dish acceptable.

“Well, boys,” said Bart, “here we are on a desert island, without a
penny in our pockets; but it isn’t a bad place, after all.”

“I wonder if they will hunt after us.”

“Of course they will.”

“They ought to see this fire, at any rate.”

“I thought of that, and expected to see some signs of them before this.”

“Perhaps it’s too foggy.”

“O, if they were within a mile of us, they’d see that light.”

“I should think, if they came after us, they would have been within that
distance.”

“O, we can’t tell. They may have got into another direction altogether.”

“Well, I suppose they’ll find us some time.”

“I’m sure I don’t care.”

“Nor do I.”

“Nor I.”

“Nor I.”

“We’ll have to prepare for life on a desert island. To-morrow we’ll
explore it, and build Our camp. It’s lucky we have a hatchet and a
pistol.”

“It’s lucky we have lobsters.”

“O, we’ll find lots of other things. There are sea-gulls’ eggs, I’ll
bet.”

“And clams.”

“And perhaps oysters.”

“We’ll have to organize a government, and build a town. Wigwams will
make the best houses.”

“No--spruce camps.”

“O, wigwams are the only things that will keep the rain off.”

“I wonder if we can find any birch bark.”

“We must explore to-morrow.”

“There’s one thing more to do to-night,” said Arthur. “For my part, I
don’t want to have to run down to that miserable boat every ten minutes
till high tide. I’ve had enough of her for one day. We must get her up
now. There’s a lot of round sticks in that pile, and we can use them as
rollers; so let’s go and get the boat up now.”

This proposition was at once acted on. Four good round sticks were
found, and some others to serve as levers. With these the boys started
off to move the boat.

They found it hard work, but practicable. The progress was slow, and it
took a good hour; but at last they had the satisfaction of seeing the
boat above high-water mark, and fastened to a piece of projecting rock.

Then they selected sleeping places, and spread their beds. After this
they heaped up fresh fuel, and sat around the fire, making a hundred
plans for their desert life. Arthur was the only one who did anything.
He had found a piece of tough spruce, and with hatchet, and knife was
busily shaping it into an oar.

At last they all retired to their beds, and slept.



VIII.

_Blue Sky.--Building a House.--The Signal Staff.--A fatal
Disgust.--Mournful Forebodings._


EARLY the next morning the boys were all up, quite refreshed, in
spite of their unaccustomed beds. They gathered the embers of the fire
together, and heaping on fresh fuel, started it into a blaze. Then they
proceeded to secure a breakfast. This could not be immediately attended
to, however, for the tide was not at its lowest ebb, and it was
necessary to wait for two or three hours. Enough shell-fish remained to
stay their appetites till something better could be procured.

To their great joy, they saw that the fog had all gone. A warm, fresh
breeze was blowing, the sky was clear and cloudless, and the sun rose
brilliantly, casting his dazzling rays in a radiant flood of lustre
across the sea. If there had been any feeling of discontent, it would
have been dispelled by the grandeur of the scene.

Some eight or ten miles away they saw the main land. Far away, on the
other side of the bay, they saw a line of hills, terminating in the
familiar form of Blomidon, while, looking along the beach, they saw
lying beyond this island the one on which they had landed the day
before. They now knew that they had drifted past that, and had gone
ashore on the adjoining one, and they could understand the whole of that
course which they had made blindly through the fog. It was with much
eagerness that they looked around for the schooner. But they saw no
traces of her whatever. The place where she had anchored was plainly
discernible, but she had gone. It was not difficult to know the reason
of this, since it was the very thing which they expected would happen.
But where was the schooner now? Which way had she gone? When would she
return? How could those on board possibly find them out? All these were
questions which it was not easy to answer.

While waiting for the tide to fall, they wandered up the banks in order
to select some place suitable for a camp. It was not long before they
settled on a spot which seemed very suitable. Near where they had built
the fire, the cliff ended, and the side of the island became a wooded
slope. About fifty feet above the fire, there was a broad, open
platform, free from trees and covered with moss. Walking on beyond this,
they ascended to the edge of the cliff, where it stood up two hundred
feet above the shore. Here grew a solitary tree about fifty feet
high, and very conspicuous from its situation. Around it the rock was
uncovered in places.

The discovery of these places filled them with delight. They had already
decided to build a camp, and the platform first mentioned seemed to all
to be very suitable.

“But we must find a spring somewhere,” said Bruce, who, after his
night’s rest, declared himself as well as ever.

“So we must,” said Bart. “Boys, let some of us hunt up a spring.”

Off they went in different directions, and soon every one was shouting
out a discovery of water. In fact, in that damp and well-watered
country, springs can easily be found on every hill-side. The nearest one
was the best, and by breaking away some of the earth and digging a hole
with a stone in the clay of the bank, a well was rudely formed, which
was suitable for all immediate needs.

By the time they had finished these explorations, the tide was
sufficiently low to admit of a search for their breakfast. All the boys
went off, since all were equally interested. The search was perfectly
successful, resulting in the capture of thirteen lobsters and a great
quantity of shrimps. Bringing back their prey in triumph, they heated a
large number of stones and cooked all the lobsters together, partly for
the sake of keeping them better, and partly that they might have a good
supply of ready-cooked provisions on hand.

“Do you know, boys,” said Phil Kennedy, as they sat at breakfast, “I’ve
got an idea?”

“Good for you. What is it?”

“Why, we ought to have a signal.”

“That’s true.”

“Well, my plan is to have a signal up there,” said Phil, pointing to the
solitary tree on the top of the cliff.

“How can you manage it?”

“Why, turn that tree into a flag-staff by cutting off the branches.,
I can climb it, and if I can have the hatchet for a little-while, I’ll
promise to get every branch off.”

“Well, now, Phil,” said Bruce, “I call that a first-rate idea. But where
will you get a flag?”

“I’ll fasten my red shirt on.”

“Hurrah!” cried all, clapping Phil on the back. “Phil, you’re a genius.”

“Talking about signals,” said Tom Crawford, “a flag won’t be enough. We
want something for nights and for foggy days. We ought to build a
heap of dry brush and kindling, and be ready to light it at a moment’s
notice. Perhaps it would be too much trouble to keep it going all
night.”

“Yes; it would,” said Bruce. “The best thing would be to have a pile
ready to light. But the first thing to do is to build our camp, and
we’ll have lots of brush ready for the pile. Phil can have the hatchet
to trim the tree after we have cut the poles and things for the camp.”

“What kind of a camp shall we have?”

“A wigwam.”

“Where’ll we get the birch bark?”

“Explore the island.”

“That’ll take too much time. We want a camp to-day, and a camp we must
have. The best way will be to build an ordinary one of poles and spruce
brush, and after that is built, we can look about for birch bark.”

“And then I’ve got my oar to finish,” said Arthur, who had been working
on it at intervals all the morning.

“Well,” said Bart, “suppose we go to work at the camp first. We’ll want
something to fasten it with. If you like, I’ll go and hunt after some
roots that I know of. They’ll do first rate for ropes.”

“All right; and we’ll go and cut the poles.”

Off they went, four of them after poles and brush, and Bart after roots
for ropes. The hatchet served to cut the poles, and the knives to trim
them. Four industrious boys, working diligently at this, soon laid low a
large number of straight, slender maple trees and an immense quantity
of fir branches. These they all dragged to that platform which they had
selected as the site of their house, and then looked about to find
the best situation for the temporary camp. As they expected to build a
better one, they chose a place which would not interfere with any future
operations. It was at the rear of the platform. Four trees grew there,
at nearly equal distances, in the form of a square. They determined
to adopt these trees as part of the frame of the camp, and use them as
corner posts. Bart had succeeded in finding an immense quantity of long,
flexible roots, some of which were sassafras roots, others the long
roots of willow trees, and all very tough and strong. First of all,
they laid four of their strongest poles from tree to tree, the rear pole
being about eight feet high, and the front one five feet. The side poles
sloped up from front to rear. There they stuck a large number of poles
into the ground in front, on the sides and in the rear, about a foot
apart, leaving space for a door and a window. Then they laid poles over
the top crosswise, so as to form a good foundation for a roof. All these
were firmly fastened, so that at last, when the frame was completed, it
was as secure as though it had been nailed together; in fact, much more
so.

So far, all had been well and successfully accomplished; but the next
task was a more difficult one. This consisted in interweaving fir brush
between the poles, so that they should be firm and strong. Beginning at
the bottom, each bush was carefully inserted and pressed as closely down
as possible. It was a tedious process; but the five industrious boys
worked unweariedly, and at last had the satisfaction of seeing the rear
and the right side completed. Then they concluded to rest for a while
and dine.

Cold lobster and cold water were all the fare that they could command;
but they ate with a good appetite, and greatly enjoyed the brief respite
from their hard work. After this was over, they returned to their task,
and at length completed the front and the left side.

Now the roof remained. This was the most difficult task of all. Three
boys went on the roof, and two below handed up brush as fast as it was
required. They began at the lower side in front, and inserted the brush
so as to lie along the slope of the roof like thatch. The butt-end of
each bush was inserted, and the brush ends projected. The flat branches
of fir trees are of such a nature that they will lie very close to any
surface on which they may be placed. These brushes were all placed in
double layers; each upper row overlapped the lower one; and thus a roof
was formed thick and close enough to turn any ordinary fall of rain,
though, of course, it could not be expected to keep out the water in
case of a prolonged storm. After the roof was all covered, the last
brush at the upper edge was intertwined with others which were placed
across them, and these again were all securely fastened to the poles
below.

Then their spruce camp was finished, and was almost an exact counterpart
of the one which they had built in the woods. They had done it well and
quickly, for long practice in this work in their own woods had given
them great skill in the construction of such buildings as these.

The last thing to attend to was the beds. All the brush that remained
was brought inside and laid lengthwise at-the rear of the camp. Then
they went into the woods, and gathered an immense quantity of dry, soft
moss, which they spread over the spruce brush. In this way they formed a
bed large enough for the whole party, as soft as a hair mattress, and as
good as anything can be for the repose of a weary frame.

This completed their work, and it was not yet sundown. They had worked
nobly; and when they stood out on the platform, and regarded their
handiwork, their delight burst forth in ringing cheers.

And now Phil claimed the hatchet, so as to carry out his cherished
purpose of forming a signal staff. The others all went up to watch him
at his work. Phil climbed up without any difficulty, and began at the
upper branches, cutting away on a level with his waist, and using the
lower ones to stand on. Phil was skilful with his hatchet; the branches
were not large, and came tumbling down, beneath his strokes, with great
rapidity. These the boys below gathered together, and heaped up in a
pile, at a sufficient distance off to burn without injury to the signal
staff, and yet in such a situation that any flame would be conspicuous
to those on the sea. The work was soon accomplished; the last branch
fell, and Phil descended to the ground. Where the tree had lately been
there now arose a tall staff, naked, and ready to bear at its summit a
red shirt, a pair of trousers, or anything else which the fancy of Phil
might suggest as suitable to the place and the occasion.

Meanwhile Arthur had gone to the beach, and returned with an armful of
shavings and choppings from the wood which he had been trying to fashion
into an oar. They were dry and fine, and were intended to serve as
kindling whenever the time might come for kindling the signal fire.

And now one thing more remained to be done. They had decided to have
their fire on the platform in front of the camp--a place which was
greatly superior to the beach for such a purpose, and which also would
give them the advantage of a warm fire on a cool evening and a light
close by their dwelling-place. So they went out to collect drift-wood,
and carried up a large quantity to the place. Good stones were also
selected for cooking purposes, and the cold lobsters were carefully
brought from the beach, and deposited in the camp. But the labor of
carrying the drift-wood up the steep bank showed them that it would
be as well not to be too lavish with their fuel. In order to have the
cheerfulness of brilliant light along with the gratefulness of warmth,
they cut a quantity of brush, which they intended to throw on the fire
from time to time. Thus, with a comfortable camp, and soft beds of moss,
and plenty of fuel, and a pleasant fire, with food and drink, with fine
weather and a charming view, the “B. O. W. C.” might be considered as
tolerably happy.

And so they would have been, if it had not been for one thing--a thing
which revealed itself to them during their evening repast, and soon
threw a gloom over their prospects.

It was dark; the fire was lighted, and threw out a cheerful glow; the
cold lobster was brought out, and the boys began to partake. For some
time nothing was said. At last, the silence was broken by Bart. He had
been twisting a leg of the lobster fastidiously in his fingers, and
nibbling little morsels of it, in a way which did not look very much
like the fashion of a hungry boy who had done a good day’s work, when
suddenly he flung the lobster’s leg into the fire.

“I can’t stand the abominable stuff any longer,” he cried.

“Neither can I,” said Bruce.

“Nor I”--“Nor I”--“Nor I”--said all the others; and the fragments of the
lobster were all contemptuously thrown away.

“What are we going to do about it?” asked Tom Crawford, mournfully.

“I wouldn’t care if there was even a raw potato,” said Bart, “or a
mouldy ship-biscuit, or an old dried turnip, or a bit of pork, or
anything else to eat with it so as to take off the edge of it; but to
eat nothing else but this everlasting lobster, lobster, lobster, is more
than I can stand.”

“Tea last night,” said Tom Crawford, dolefully, “lobster. Breakfast this
morning, lobster. During the morning I felt hollow--lobster. At dinner,
lobster. For my part, I’ve had enough of it.”

“What can we do?”

“I’m tired of shrimps.”

“Bother shrimps.”

“O for a good slice of bread and butter!”

“Or a good mealy potato!”

“Or a beefsteak!”

“Or crackers and cheese!”

“What are we going to do? We’ll have to eat lobster, or starve.”

“I feel,” said Phil, “that I’m growing to be a lobster myself; my skin
is turning quite hard.”

“I’m beginning to lose faith in desert islands,” said Arthur.

“Yes,--they’re a failure.”

“But how do we know?” said Bart. “We haven’t explored yet. We don’t know
half of what may be on the island.”

“We know pretty well what there is,” said Bruce. “Spruce trees, maple
trees, moss, and rocks,--that’s about all.”

“Unfortunately, it isn’t a South Sea island, and so we can’t expect to
pull cocoa-nuts from the trees, or have bread-fruit for our breakfasts.
There are no mangoes, no bananas, no oranges, no grapes, no nothing,
unless we choose to eat bark and fir cones.”

“The next time we try a desert island, boys, I move that we make tracks
for the Pacific Ocean,” said Arthur.

“I second that motion,” cried Phil.

“It’s rather odd,” said Bart, “that all of us should get tired of
lobster at the same time.”

“It would be odder yet,” said Tom, “if any of us had been able to stand
it any longer.”

“That’s about the thing,” said Bruce. “And so the question remains yet,”
 said Arthur, “What are we going to do?”

No one answered. They all sat looking at the fire. Phil seized some
brush and flung it on; the flames caught it, and crackled through it,
and dashed up fiercely and brightly, lighting up five very hungry, very
tired, and very discontented faces.

“Hurrah!” cried Bart at last, starting to his feet. “Hurrah! I have it!”

“What’s that?”

“Gulls’ eggs!” said Bart.

“Not bad,” said Bruce. “At any rate we can try it. Perhaps we may find
some young gulls. They eat young rooks in England; why shouldn’t young
gulls be good?”

“We’ll try it to-morrow,” said Tom.

“At any rate,” said Bart, “it all comes to this. We must explore the
island. I’ve got my pistol. Who knows what may turn up. We may come
across lots of rabbits, or, at any rate, wild fowl. Come, now, things
are not so bad after all. Tomorrow will show us what the chances are
for our dinner table.”

This was now the only consolation they had. The lobsters had grown
abhorrent, and they could not think of touching them any more. Hungry as
they were after all their hard work, they threw aside the only food that
they could get. They were compelled to go supperless to bed, and there
dream of more agreeable food. Fortunately, though they could not eat,
they could sleep; and soon all were wandering far away in the land of
Nod.



IX.

_Exploring.--A wild Walk.--On the Lookout for Prey.--What is it?--Is
it a wild Goose?--Tremendous Sensation, the Explorers being as much
astounded as Robinson Crusoe was when he discovered the human Footprints
in the Sand._


ON the following morning, all were up by daybreak, and Bruce could
think of nothing but gulls’ eggs. In the desperate extremity of hunger
to which they were reduced through their dislike to lobsters, they
determined to make a search along the cliffs for nests. They walked
along, and at length came to a place where some nests had been built.
They found a large number of eggs here, and appropriated them all. On
cooking them, they found them of a peculiar flavor, yet eatable, and
they congratulated themselves on their good luck.

They now determined to put into execution their cherished plan of
exploring the island. One was to stay behind to attend to the signal,
and lots were drawn to see who it would be. It fell on Phil, who at once
accepted his task with great cheerfulness, and informed them that he
would make an omelet on a hot stone. In this pleasing occupation they
left him, and went into the woods.

They found the woods here precisely like those of the other island. Fir,
and spruce, and maple grew densely together, and beneath all there was
a thick underbrush, with fallen trees, and ferns, and moss. Progress,
under such circumstances, was exceedingly difficult; but they knew that
the island was quite small, and so they kept on their way. The grounds
continually ascended for a long distance, and this, of course, added
somewhat to the difficulty of the journey; but at last the ascent
ceased, and they knew that they were on the summit of the island.
Nothing could be seen, however. So thick was the forest, that it shut
out all the view; nor was it of any use to climb a tree, ‘for all were
of nearly equal size, and if they were to climb up as far as they could,
they would only find the view obstructed by the tops of trees growing
around. So they kept on their way, and found the ground descending
continuously in an easy slope. The wood was as dense as ever, and no
living thing appeared. They had started with vague ideas of meeting with
hares or wild fowl, but thus far nothing had been visible except the
gulls overhead. They began to think that there was nothing but gulls
on the island. Bart, however, assured them that they could not judge as
yet, and expressed his unshaken confidence that he would start a rabbit
before the day was done. He had his pistol in his belt, and he was
determined to use it before going home, even if he had to shoot a gull.
So they kept on down the descent, expecting every moment to come in
sight of the bay.

At last the woods grew thinner, and before them they saw the sky through
the trees. Moving farther forward, the trees grew more scattered, and
in a short time they found themselves at the top of a long, open ground,
which sloped to the bay, and was overgrown with moss and low brushwood.
At the farther end of the open, a small eminence arose, with some bushes
on the summit. Before them the waters of the bay spread out, with the
distant horizon skirted by a range of hills.

“Here’s the place for rabbits,” said Bart, “if there are any.”

“If there are any! Of course,” said Bruce; “that’s the point.”

They walked on through the brush-wood, and at length, reaching a mossy
knoll, they sat down to rest. After a time, Bart started off alone to
pursue his investigations. He had not gone far before he stopped, and
shrunk back. Then he looked around with a triumphant expression. Then he
moved forward in a stealthy manner.

“I wonder what’s up now,” said Bruce.

“Bart’s found something at last,” said Arthur.

“A hare, perhaps,” said Tom.

The three boys started after Bart. Scarcely had they moved a half dozen
paces, when Bart took aim and fired. A loud cry was heard, a large white
bird was seen jumping in the air, and falling to the ground, and then
Bart ran forward and secured his prize.

The other boys hurried up to him. As they came, he turned to meet them,
with a face flushed with triumph, and holding the large white bird by
the legs.

“What is it?” they cried.

“A wild goose,” said Bart.

“A wild goose!” cried Bruce, who had reached him by that time. “A tame
one you mean.”

“No it isn’t, either. How can it be a tame one? It’s a wild one.”

“No, Bart,” said Arthur, “it’s a tame goose--as tame as I am.”

“You’re a tame goose yourself,” said Bart. “Do you call that a tame
goose? Why, it’s a wild one, of course. Look at its wings.”

“What about its wings? They’re tame enough. No, Bart, it’s the real
original domestic goose of the civilized farm-yard.”

“Nonsense! as though I don’t know a tame goose when I see one.”

“Well, you see one now.”

“No, I don’t.”

“This is one.”

“No.”

“Yes.”

“No.”

“It is.”

“Pooh!”

“Bart,” said Bruce, “did you ever see a live wild goose?”

“No, I never did.”

“Aha! How do you know anything about them, then?”

“Why, I’ve seen pictures,--lots of thorn,--and they look just like
this.”

“But I’ve seen wild geese living and flying,--and dead, too, lots
of times,--and this isn’t one.”

“O, this is a kind that you are not acquainted with. Why, there are ever
so many kinds of wild geese.”

But at this moment the boys were rudely interrupted.

“Aha! ye thafes of the wurruld, ye!” cried a loud voice close
beside them. “Ye villains, ye. What are ye doin’,--a murdherin’ and
slaughterin’ a poor man’s property. Ye blackgyards, ye! What d’ye mane
by comin’ here and shootin’ my geese?”

Thunderstruck at this unexpected interruption, the boys turned, and
found themselves face to face with an old, grizzled, red-faced little
Irishman, whose furious gestures and angry eyes were directed menacingly
toward them.

“Which af ye’s shot my goose?” he roared.

“1 did,” said Bart, quietly.

“Ye young villain! I’ll make ye pay for it,--and dear, too,--as sure as
me name’s Denny O’Rafferty. What’r ye’s doin’ here, any how? What d’ye
mane by shootin’ my goose? D’ye think I’m goin’ to be robbed be a gang
of black-gyards? Be the powers! if ye think that same, ye’ll find ye’re
mistaken, bad scran till ye!”

“Mr. O’Rafferty,” said Bart, “you’re quite mistaken. We’re honest boys,
and came here by accident.”

“What did ye shoot the goose for, then, ye imp of mischief?”

“It was a mistake,” said Bart, coolly. “Of course I didn’t know it was
yours,--in fact, I wasn’t aware that anybody was living here. I will
be happy to pay you whatever you think it’s worth,-and am sorry for the
mistake.”

At this speech O’Rafferty’s face and manner underwent a complete change.

“Ach, be the powers! if that’s all,” said he, good humoredly, “then we
won’t say any more about it. But how did ye’s get here? I didn’t see any
boat. Where did ye land, then?”

“Why, the fact is, we were brought here,” said Bart, who went on to tell
him all about their adventure.

Dennis O’Rafferty listened to every word with intense interest, his face
undergoing a perpetual change of expression, that spoke of conflicting
emotions.

“Be the powers, then,” he exclaimed, as Bart ceased, “it was a narrow
scratch that ye had of it. An’ ye’ve been ashore here two nights. Be
jabers, it’s meself that’s ashamed of what I said till ye about the
goose. Have ye’s had anything till ate thin, at all?”

“Nothing but lobster.”

“Lobster! Well, thin, let me inforrum ye’s that ye’ll find that a
moighty onwholesome diet. An’ you’ve been here all that time wid nothin’
at all to ate. Be jabers, I’m the boy for ye’s. Come along, boys. Ye’ll
find old O’Rafferty can give ye a breakfast, at any rate. Come along.
Ye’re starvin’, so ye are. Me old woman ‘ll be deloighted to set eyes on
ye’s. Never mind the goose; I’ll give ye’s a dozen for nothin’. Lave
it lie there; the old woman ’ll come an’ pick it for ye. Come along,
boys.”

And the old fellow led the way; while the boys, delighted at the turn
which things had taken, followed gayly after.

“And so ye’r Docthor Porther’s boys, are ye’s?” continued Dennis.
“Faith it’s himself ’ll be throubled. It’s a long time I’ve knowed
the docthor. An’ there isn’t his shuparior in the counthry. Arrah, be me
sowl, but it’s meself that’s glad to see ye’s. The sight of yer young,
fresh faces does good till me old bones. Come along, boys. And is the
docthor with ye’s in the schooner? Come along; ye haven’t fur to go.
I’ve got a bit of a house around beyant. Ye’ll see it as soon as iver we
turrun the hill.”

On rounding the hill, they saw a clearing of about thirty acres, with a
boat drawn up on the shore, while close by them was a small house and
a barn. An old woman at the door looked up at them in speechless
amazement.

“It’s the owld woman,” said O’Rafferty. “It’s herself that’s dead bate
at the sight of ye’s.”

“Lard save us, Dinny, what in the wurruld have ye got there, thin?”
 cried the old woman, as the party reached the house.

“It’s some of Docthor Porther’s boys, that’s been gettin’ themselves
shipwracked on the other side,” said O’Rafferty, “and haven’t had a bite
to ate for two days, savin’ an’ exceptin’ a bit of cowld lobster, which
isn’t aisy aitin’. An’ however they got ashore on there, widout oars,
bates me intirely,--widout countin’ that thim same has been workin’ like
slaves a day or more, on impty stomachs, buildin’ a camp and carryin’
fire-wood, which is hard enough work to kill a man, let alone boys like
these. And so stir yer stumps, Molly avick, and bring out praties an’
bacon, the best ye have, and a drawin’ of tay, an’ chayse, an’ bread
and butter. It’s starvin’ they all are intoirely, or me name’s not Dinny
O’Rafferty.”

“Ah, thin,” cried the old woman, “the saints stand betune us and harrum.
What’s that ye’r sayin’, Dinny O’Rafferty? Is it shipwracked ye wer’,
thin, ye darlin’s of the wurruld? Sure it’s not much an owld woman like
me can do for the likes of ye; but I’ll give ye the best I’ve got, so I
will. Sure an’.it’s starvin’ ye must be, if ye’ve had nothin’ to ate for
so long.”

Nothing could exceed the kindness and warmth of welcome which O’Rafferty
and his wife gave the boys. The old woman bustled about, and kindled a
fire, and put on the pot and kettle, and laid the table, occasionally
stopping to look at the boys, one after the other, with a peculiar
fondness of expression and a low, crooning noise, such as nurses make
over children.

“Sure it’s like a breath of fresh air to a captive in a dungeon to look
at your swate faces,” she cried. “Niver a boy’s face have I seen since
the dark day when my own boy took his swate face from me eyes foriver.
An’ that was fifteen year ago. An’ we came here, an’ lived here ever
since.”

The old woman gave a long sigh, and sitting down, she held her head in
her hands, rocking herself to and fro.

“Ah, well,” she said, getting up and going out to the barn, “it’s not
much longer to live we have thin.”

“Fifteen years,” said O’Raflerty, as his wife went out. “It’s fifteen
years since we lost the boy. We lived in Parrsboro, an’ had as nice a
house and farm as the likes of us could ever wish for. But whin we lost
him, we lost all heart for the place. The old woman wud have died if she
had staid; an’ so I bought this bit of a place, an’ what with farmin’
an’ fishin’ we manage to grub along, though it’s seldom or niver that we
see anybody but our own two selves. Well, well; wud ye like to look at
the place?” he continued, rising. “It isn’t much of a place; but it’s
not long we have to live, and it’ll do for us.”

They followed the old man about. The place extended over thirty acres,
with a nice beach in front for the boat. It was an easy declivity, with
pasture lands behind the house. The boat was a large whaler, and nets
were spread on the grass to dry. O’Rafferty said that during the summer
he had visits sometimes from old friends, and at other times people
landed to see about the chances for sporting or getting minerals; but
never, since he had been there, had a boy been on shore, and his wife
had not seen a boy since she lost her son. He took them all over the
place, and finally led them to a little enclosure, not far from the
house. Inside was a grave mound, and at the head a white wooden slab,
with these words painted upon it:

                        In Memoriam.

                   Michael O’Rafferty,

                        beloved son of

               Dennis and Mary O’Rafferty,

                   born Aug. 2, 1830,

                   died June 5, 1845.

                   Requiescat in Pace.

The old man stood in silence, bareheaded, looking at the inscription.
The boys removed their hats, and looked in solemn sympathy at the
bereaved father, whose love and yearning for his lost boy were still
so manifest, that the sight of a boy’s face could renew his grief after
fifteen vanished years. Standing thus in silence, and reverencing that
grief, they waited till the old man turned away, and then followed him,
without a word, back across the field, and into the house.

As they entered, the savory smell of broiled bacon came gratefully to
their nostrils. The table was spread with delicious mealy potatoes,
brown crusty bread, butter as yellow as gold, and clean, spotless
plates.. If they had the power of wishing and gaining, they would have
desired nothing better than this.

“Mr. O’Rafferty,” said Bart, suddenly, “I forgot to mention that
we left one of our number on the beach. I will take a run across the
island, with your permission, and bring him here, for he is as hungry as
we are, if not more so.”

“Another one!” cried O’Rafferty. “An’ waitin’ on the beach! Why didn’t
ye tell me before?”

“Well, you see we were tired with our scramble, and I wanted to get
rested before starting back. But I’ll go now, if you’ve no objection.”

“Deed, thin, an’ I have an objection,” cried O’Rafferty. “D’ye think I’d
let ye go starvin’ back agin before ye’d got a bite to ate? or, for that
matter, d’ye think I’d let ye go at all? No; I’ll go meself.”

“You? O, no. I won’t allow that,” began Bart. “It’s meself ‘ll go, an’
nobody else,” cried O’Rafferty, positively. “Ye’r all too hungry an’
tired. Besides, ye don’t know a step of the way. Ye came through
the woods, an’ a mighty tough job ye found it; but I know an aisier
way--it’s a path of me own. Ye said it was at the other end of the
island, on the other side.”

“Yes; at a rock with a tree on the edge.”

“I know the place well. My path comes out close by there. I wonder ye
didn’t come across it.”

“It is a wonder. We certainly would have noticed anything like a path,
if we had found one.”

“Well, it’s all the same now. Ye’ll jist stay here, an’ sit down an’ ate
yer breakfasts like Christians, an’ I’ll go an’ bring the boy. Not one
of ye shall stir a step--not one step.”

“Well, Mr. O’Rafferty, I’m sure you are putting yourself to too much
trouble--”

“Throuble! D’ye call it throuble? Sure an’ isn’t it the brightest day
I’ve knowed for iver so long?”

“Deed it is,” chimed in his wife. “Be off wid ye, Dinny dear, and hurry
back with the poor boy. Sure I’ll keep the tay hot for him, an’ the
praties, an’ the bacon.”

Any further remonstrance or objection was out of the question; so
the boys took their seats at the table. The old man started off, and
promised to be back in a “jiffy.”

He ascended the slope behind the house, and entered the woods by a
pathway which, though but little trodden, was yet easy to traverse. Far
different was this from the rough way by which the boys had crossed the
island; and in far less time than they had taken, Denny approached the
other shore. The pathway led down to the beach, about a hundred yards
below the place where they had built their first fire.

As he descended, a singular sight met his eyes.



X.

_New Attempts at Cookery.--Phil on the Lookout.--A Sail! A Sail!--The
Signal of the red Shirt.--The Home of the O’Raffertys._


WE left Phil behind, on the beach.

After the others had departed, Phil occupied himself with making
arrangements to while away the time. First of all, he set to work to try
and make an omelet. After a long search on the beach, he found some clam
shells, which he took up to the platform; and then, selecting some flat
stones, he threw them into the fire. Then he mixed some eggs in one of
the shells, and tried to beat them with his jackknife. His success was
not exactly dazzling; but he was satisfied to a certain extent, and
intensely interested. At length, drawing forth one of the stones, which,
by this time, was red hot, he poured the mixture on its surface. There
was a fizzle, a steam, a hiss, and then a horrible smell of burnt egg.
Phil made an awful face, and giving the stone a kick, sent it flying
down to the beach, omelet and all.

Not at all discouraged, he began again _ab ovo_. Drawing out another
stone, he determined to give it time to cool. So he mixed up some more
eggs in the shell; and after waiting patiently for a long time for the
stone, he at length thought it was cool enough, and poured the mixture
upon it. It certainly had grown cool this time in fact, somewhat too
cool, as Phil gradually learned, when, after waiting patiently, he found
that there was no appearance of any progress whatever in the cookery.
So this, too, was a failure, and Phil disdainfully hurled it after its
predecessor.

But he was not discouraged even yet. Once more he took his shell and
made another mixture, and then drew forth the stone, and carefully
watched it, trying it from time to time with the tip of his finger, to
see if it was of the proper temperature. Having singed the tips of all
his fingers, he concluded that it was time to stop that mode of testing,
and run the risk of an actual trial. So he once more poured the mixture
on the stone. Aha! this time there was no mistake. A pleasant steam
came up, which was grateful to a famished boy. The only trouble was,
the lower part was done before the upper was in the least affected; and
worse still, it began to burn while the upper part was raw. Phil was
not yet disheartened, however; and drawing his knife, he made desperate
efforts to insert it under the omelet, so as to turn it over. But these
efforts were not successful. He only succeeded in intermixing all
together in a mess, and mangling it into a general mush. In trying to
taste some of it, he found in his mouth nothing but a very unpleasant
mixture of raw and burnt egg. With a sigh he relinquished his
experiments, and sent this stone after the others.

He now contented himself with roasting two of them; and having partaken
of them, he sauntered up the hill to the signal station. Here he lay
down, and looked lazily out at the water.

Scarcely had he done so, than he gave a start. An object was before his
eyes which he had not been able to see from the platform. The other end
of the island could not be seen from there, because a projecting bank
shut it out from view; but from here there was a fair view of the other
islands. And there, just coming out from behind Pinnacle Island, was a
schooner of the size and rig of the Antelope, and he did not doubt for
a moment but that it was their schooner. She was now sailing along, and
was not far from that very anchorage where he had seen her last.

With a shout and a wild beating of his heart, he sprang to his feet, and
stared, with eager eyes, upon the schooner.

She was coming on very well, with a good breeze, and was coming in his
direction. Would she continue on her course? If so, she would soon be
there. Would she turn aside, and pass through the channel that separated
the islands, or sail away to the main land opposite? The thought was
intolerable. He had grown weary of desert life; he longed to leave the
island,--or, rather, he longed to get something to eat.

So he rushed away to the pile of brush, and lighting his matches,--a
whole card at a time,--he touched up the kindling wood, and in a few
moments the blaze was spreading through the mass of dry brush. Soon the
flames rose high into the air, bearing with them vast volumes of black
smoke.

Would they see that signal? They could not help seeing it. Would they
understand it? Ah! that was another question. Still it came on in the
same direction, without showing any signs of turning either to the right
hand or the left. And now it had passed the channel between the islands,
and was coming along in a line with the beach below, and not more than
half a mile out.

The brush fire was burning briskly, and could last for half an hour
without replenishing; but something more was needed. What could he do?
At first he thought of running down to the beach and shouting. But then
he feared that he might not be seen on the beach, and that his voice
might not be heard. So that plan was rejected. One only remained, and
that was, to climb the signal-staff. In an instant all this had passed
through his mind, and in another instant it was acted upon. He tore off
his red shirt, tied the sleeves together loosely, and hung it around his
neck, and then, with wonderful agility, climbed the tree till he reached
the top. The stumps of the branches, which remained on the trunk of
the tree, formed a good foothold, and he was able to stand securely,
clasping the tree with one arm, while with the other he took his shirt
from around his neck, and waved it to and fro in the air. Below, and
about thirty feet on one side, the fire blazed; and there, fifty feet
in the air, on that solitary tree, stood the boy, waving, wildly and
incessantly, the brilliant scarlet cloth. He felt that he had done the
best, and if this would not attract attention, nothing would.

All this time the schooner came on, and at length came nearly opposite.
Phil saw the crowd on board. He saw them staring and gesticulating. He
was recognized--he was safe! Yes, there was Mr. Long,--he knew that tall
figure in black,--and he was going to the stern. What for? Aha! wasn’t
that glorious? He had gone and had seized the ropes, and lowered and
hoisted the flag again a score of times. Ha, ha, ha! What flag? What
flag? Why, their own flag,--the flag of the “B. O. W. C.,”--which had’
evidently been waving there ever since their departure, and now saluted
them as it brought them safety.

Phil’s merry laughter rang out loud and clear, as he saw all this, in
his excitement and his joy. He saw the schooner head in straight toward
the shore, then sweep round; and then down rattled her anchor, her sails
fell, and she lay waiting.

Phil gave a final wave and a loud, shout; and then, descending the tree,
he scampered down the slope and along the beach, as fast as his little
legs would carry him, until at last he reached the verge of the shore
opposite the schooner. Here he gave a loud hurrah. His shrill voice
reached the schooner, which was only a short distance off, and was
responded to by a loud cheer from all on board.

“Where are the other boys?” cried Mr. Long.

“In the woods; they’ll be here soon.”

“Where’s the boat?”

“Up there,” said Phil, pointing to where it lay.

“We can’t get ashore. We’ve got no boat.”

“When the tide gets up, and the boys come back, we can get the boat
out,” said Phil.

“How are you all?” cried Mr. Long.

“Very well, but nearly starved.”

Instantly Mr. Long disappeared into the cabin. Returning shortly, he had
a bundle in his hand, around which a string was tied. Then taking one
end of the string, and whirling it violently around, sling fashion, he
hurled it through the air toward the shore. The parcel fell about twenty
feet beyond Phil. He ran to it, and, on opening it, found a quantity of
sandwiches.

The ravenous way in which he devoured the sandwiches showed to those on
board, far more powerfully than words, how famished poor Phil must have
been.

“Will the others be back soon?” asked Mr. Long.

“O, yes. They’ve gone across the island to explore.”

“Were you able to sleep?”

“Sleep? O, yes, first rate.”

“How?”

“In the camp up there,” said Phil, with his mouth full of sandwich,
waving his hand in the direction of the platform. “We’d have enjoyed it
if we’d only had some sandwiches,” he added after a time, as he made a
fresh onslaught on the parcel.

It was now about eleven o’clock, and not quite half tide. The tide was
rising, however, and in due time would be up to the boat; and then, if
the boys did not come, they might get in near enough to throw Phil a
line, and from the schooner pul the boat into the water. For the present
it was necessary to wait; so Phil ate his sandwiches, and talked with
those on board. And this was the scene which met the eyes of Dennis
O’Rafferty as he descended to the beach.

Dennis soon understood it all. Ge saw that the schooner had been
searching for the boys, and had come here in their absence, and had
found this boy. He hurried, without delay, to the beach, and at once
told Phil where his friends were, and explained to those on board the
schooner what they were doing, and why he had come.

“An’ is the docthor on board?”

“No; he didn’t come.”

“Ah, thin it’s mesilf that’s sorry for that same,” said Dennis.

On understanding the difficulty about the boat, he at once set himself
to work remedying it. He found the rollers which the boys had used, and
the poles; and then, with Phil’s assistance, he began to push her down
toward the water. It was far easier pushing her down than it had been
pulling her up, and the boat soon reached the water’s edge.

“We lost our oar, and we were making another. I don’t know whether you
can use it or not,” said Phil. “Wait here, and I’ll go and get it.”

On bringing it, Dennis found it quite rough, of course, but still
capable of working the boat along. So he launched the boat, and Phil
jumped in, and Dennis followed; and in a short time the boat touched
the vessel’s side. The current just here was not strong, for it was half
tide, and the vessel was very close to the shore. Phil was dragged
on board by a dozen hands, and nearly suffocated by their rapturous
greetings.

Mr. O’Rafferty then explained again where the other boys were, and
invited all on board to come to his house and meet them. His invitation
was eagerly complied with. Another oar was found on board, and soon
Messrs. Simmons and Long, with all the boys, were on the beach.

Then they started. Phil insisted on showing the camp and the signal
station, and told them all about their experience in shell-fish and
lobsters.

Then they followed O’Rafferty across the island to his house.

On the way, Mr. Long told Phil all about the dismal voyage of the
schooner after them. After cruising all about the Basin of Minas on the
previous day, they had decided to come back to the Five Islands, and
search along the shores, with the hope of finding them, or at least
some traces of them. They had been watching the shore of this island so
closely, that they had seen the first flash of the fire on the signal
station. When they saw the red shirt by it, and then the figure climbing
the tree, they knew that their search was at last successful. He made
Phil tell him, over and over again, all about his own eventful escape,
and shuddered to think how extreme their peril had been.

The walk over O’Rafferty’s path was a most delightful one to all. The
fearful cloud, that had so long hung over them, was at last dispelled,
and in their reaction from sorrow, they all felt the wildest extreme of
joy. So the boys went on with shouts, and songs, and laughter, till they
reached their destination.

There the others had finished their repast, and were waiting for Phil.
Great was their amazement to see the crowd. At once all was explained.
With a wild cry of delight, they rushed to meet their friends, and their
hands were nearly shaken off by their excited comrades.

Mr. O’Rafferty then left them, and Mrs. O’Rafferty prepared a repast for
the company. But first she set before Phil the good things that she had
been saving for him; and, though that young gentleman had disposed of an
immense quantity of sandwiches, he yet was able--thanks to his
excellent appetite and vigorous constitution--to do full justice to Mrs.
O’Rafferty’s tea and cream, and brown crusty bread and golden butter,
and rich bacon, and mealy potatoes. Then the table was once more spread
for the other guests; and they found the repast an agreeable change from
the ship stores on which they had been feeding. To tell the truth, there
were many among the company who were as famished, and had eaten quite
as little, during the last twenty or thirty hours, as the castaways
themselves.

They then strolled about the fields and along the beach, till suddenly a
shout from one of the boys attracted the attention of all.

There, coming round the point, was the familiar form of the Antelope,
her boat towed behind her once more; Captain Corbet, the mate, and
O’Rafferty on board, and the black flag of the “B. O. W. C.” floating
gloriously aloft.

“It’s been there all the time,” said Billymack. “Wasn’t it odd? Mr. Long
wouldn’t let any one pull it down.”

“And all the schooners laughed at us,” said Bogud. “It was such
nonsense.”

“Nonsense?” said Bart. “Far from it, Bogud. There’s good luck in that
emblem. So long as it floats on the breeze, we’ll turn out all right.”

“If you call this good luck, I should like to know what bad luck is.”

Here the anchor rattled, and all the boys ran to the beach.

When the time came for them to leave, O’Rafferty was in despair. He
wanted them to stay at least one night. But Mr. Long could not. They had
already lost much time, and must make amends for it. They had to go that
evening to Pratt’s Cove. So O’Raflerty consoled himself by extorting
a promise that the next time they came to the Five Islands they would
anchor off his beach, and stop at least two days with him.

Meanwhile the boys had a long debate as to what they could give to
O’Raflerty. To offer money would be an insult. They had to select
from among their possessions something that would be appropriate for
a parting gift. Bart proposed his pistol, but it was considered as not
adapted to be of use to O’Rafferty. At last it was decided to give him
the hatchet. A hatchet would always be useful; and it was so pretty a
little tool, that it would be in itself a graceful keepsake. So Bart,
with his jackknife, cut into the handle, very, neatly, the initials of
the different members of the “B. O. W. C.,” and handed the gift to the
old man.

“You won’t refuse it,” said Bart, “will you, Mr. O’Rafferty?” And he
explained the initial letters to him.

Tears started to the old man’s eyes.

“It’s fairly heart-broken I am to part wid ye; but I’ll take the hatchet
to remember yer sweet faces by, and wid the hope that you won’t forget
owld O’Rafferty. And many’s the drame I’ll be draimin’ about yes, till
me owld eyes gets a look at yes again.”

“An’ may the blessin’s av Heaven go wid yes all, ye darlin’s av the
worruld,” ejaculated the old woman. “It’s meself that’ll pray for yes,
that the Lard ‘ll stan’ betune yes and harrum. I’ll be lookin’ out for
yes all another year, jewels; an’ I’ll have such crame, chayse, an’
such maily taters, as ye never saw the like of before.”

The old couple wrung the hands of all of them, and watched them embark.
Soon all were on board. Then the anchor went up, and up went the sails.
The schooner started, and moved slowly away.

And as she moved away, the boys saw the old couple standing on the beach
waving farewells. There they stood till the vessel rounded a promontory
which shut them from sight.

They were on their way to Pratt’s Cove.



XI.

_Pratt’s Cove.--A Dinner Party.--The faithless Cook and
Steward.--Songs.--Sudden and startling Interruption.--Stealing a
Wood-pile.--Overwhelming Piece of Intelligence._


THE wind and tide were both, rather unfavorable, and it was late before
they reached Pratt’s Cove. This place is formed by the bed of a creek
which runs up from the bay, and, like all the streams of these waters,
is subject to very great variations, being fordable at low tide, but
at high tide deep enough to float a ship. It was half tide when they
arrived, and the schooner was able to run a little way up the stream,
where she anchored. It was quite dark, but they could see that the
nearest land was a projecting point, clear of trees, and promising
a pleasanter camping-ground than the hold of the schooner. It was
therefore unanimously decided to go ashore, kindle a fire, and pass as
festive an evening as possible. The shore was close by, and in a very
short time they were all out of the vessel. Plenty of fuel lay there in
the shape of a long pile of dry birch wood which lay heaped up along
the shore. To this they helped themselves, kindled an enormous fire, and
were soon seated around it, waiting for their evening repast.

At the outset of the trip, Johnny Blue and Sammy Ram

Ram had been appointed steward and cook, owing to their personal
application for those very honorable offices. Their duties had been very
light; in fact, partly on account of rough weather, and partly owing
to the anxiety of the previous day, there had been little or no occasion
for their services. It was therefore expected that on the present
occasion they would surpass themselves and astonish everybody by the
brilliancy of their performance. As the party sat round the fire waiting
for their repast, they all anticipated something of extraordinary
excellence, and were impatient for the banquet to begin. Sammy and
Johnny Blue, however, made no very great haste. In fact, it seemed to
some that they were astonishingly slow, if not reluctant. Slowly they
turned over the things, slowly they opened and shut the boxes and
baskets, and very slowly indeed they took out the dishes.

“See here, you fellows,” cried Bruce, suddenly. “You don’t appear to be
aware of the fact that we’re all starving.”

“Hurry up your cakes!” cried another.

“Come, be quick about it, Sammy Ram Ram! What’s the use of being so
particular?”

“Tumble out the things any way! We don’t want a regular set table.”

Sammy and Johnny quickened their motions a little, and said they would
be ready “in a minute.”

Meanwhile Messrs. Simmons and Long, assisted by the devoted Bogud,
had been sorting their minerals’ in a general way, and wrapping each
specimen in paper. Two good-sized baskets were filled, and many of them
were very fine indeed. There were some fern prints, and some tracks of
birds on sandstone, which Mr. Long had found, and which he regarded with
the tenderest admiration. There was a very excellent amethyst, found by
Mr. Simmons, some mica, some barytes, and, above all, a piece of quartz,
in which faint flecks of gold were visible. It was taken from a vein
which ran up the cliff, and was a foot or more in thickness. It seemed
to promise a rich gold harvest to any one who might choose to try
gold-crushing in so remote a place.

The tender interest excited by all these treasures, and the occupation
of putting them into separate baskets, had so fully engrossed their
thoughts, that they had not noticed any particular delay. At last,
however, the work was done; and then it was that Mr. Long thought about
the claims of appetite.

He started to his feet.

“What!” he cried, as he looked around; “not ready yet? Why, what’s the
matter?”

“In a minute,” said Sammy Ram Ram.

“Yes, yes--in a minute,” chimed in Johnny Blue.

“A minute? Well, that’s longer than I can wait. So come along, all
of us!” said Mr. Long, advancing to the place where a cloth had been
spread. The rest all followed.

There was a very meagre repast--in fact, but the beginning of a
repast--before them.

“Come, hurry up!” said Mr. Long, as he and Mr. Simmons, followed by the
rest, threw themselves on the grass around the table-cloth. “Fetch along
some of the turkey and chickens quick!” There was no response. Sammy and
Johnny both stood looking excessively guilty.

“Come, hurry up! We can’t eat ham and-biscuit. Why, what’s the matter?”

“Why--there--there isn’t any,” stammered Sammy.

“What’s that?” cried Mr. Long.

“The turkey--it’s all gone, sir.”

“Gone!” cried Mr. Long, in amazement. “What do you mean?”

And twelve astonished faces confronted the cook and steward.

“Why, sir,” said the cook, “you see we ate a good many before we
started.”

“Yes, sir. There were eight turkeys eaten that evening and next
morning.”

“And fifteen chickens, sir.”

“And ten mince pies,” added the steward, gathering courage at the sound
of his own voice.

“And all the cheese,” responded the cook. “And most of the tarts.”

“And a good deal of the cake.”

“And a good many of the ham sandwiches, and half of the eggs, and--”

“And ever so much ginger beer.”

“The boys were, eating, sir, steadily through the night.”

“And through the next day, till they got sick, and couldn’t eat any
more.”

To this all present listened in the utmost astonishment, and without
saying a single word.

“So we ate most of the things before we left--did we?” asked Mr. Long,
with a sour smile. “Yes, sir.”

“How many turkeys did we leave with?”

“Seven, sir.”

“And how many chickens?”

“Four, sir.”

“And how many mince pies?”

“Eight, sir.”

“Have we eaten all these since?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well,” said Jiggins, “all day yesterday I only ate one ham sandwich,
and to-day only a turkey drumstick, except at O’Rafferty’s.”

“I ate a mince pie yesterday,” said Billymack “and another one
to-day--that’s all.”

“Well, well, I’m not inquiring into what you ate, boys,” said Mr. Long,
good-humoredly. “I was only amazed to find that our stores had gone so
fast. We’ll have to live on clams, or go home, unless we can buy some
provisions here. Well, well,” he concluded, with a sigh, “we’ll have to
attack this ham bone. Here, cook; isn’t there any more ham left?”

“One more, sir.”

“Any pie?”

“A half of a mince pie, sir.”

“Hm--well--we’ll have to wait till to-morrow--that’s all. It’s my own
fault, I suppose. I didn’t make allowance for the appetites of growing
boys.”

“Especially of the cook and steward,” growled Bogud.

They had to bear with their disappointment as best they could. The cook
and steward looked very meek and subdued, for though nothing was said,
yet they felt that they were under a ban. The repast consisted of
nothing but bread and butter, and ham, and cold water. But still, as
they all had excellent appetites, they ate with a relish what was before
them, and had no trouble, except about provisioning the ship for the
future. It was tacitly understood, however, that Sammy Ram Ram and
Johnny Blue should be henceforth relieved from these onerous and
responsible duties. The repast was at length finished, and Messrs.
Simmons and Long went aside to take another look at their beloved
specimens, and speculate upon the probabilities of gold-mining at the
Five Islands. The others sat round the fire. Captain Corbet sat, with
a patriarchal smile, surveying the young faces around him. The mate sat
among a crowd of noisy lads, who were trying to draw him out.

“Yes,” he said, in continuation of some statement which he was making,
“it’s true. I’m tellin’--”

“And that’s your name--is it?” asked Billymack.

“My name’s Wade,” said the mate, “an’ my old ’oman’s name’s Gipson;
and ye’ll not find many of that name in this counthry. No, sir.”

“But how can your name be Wade, and your old ’oman’s name be Gipson?”

“How? because my name _is_ Wade, and me old ’oman’s name _is_
Gipson.”

“But she’s your wife--ain’t she?”

“My own wife--married be me brother the praste.”

“Then she must be Mrs. Wade.”

“I tell ye her name’s Gipson.”

“If she’s your wife, she must be named Wade.”

“I tell ye _me_ name’s Wade, and me old ’oman’s name’s Gipson; an’
ye’ll not find many o’ that name in this counthry.”

And so the mate prosed on, unable to see that his wife’s name was the
same as his own.

And now fresh wood was heaped upon the fire. Some went off and gathered
brush, and the bright, flaring flame burst forth, rising far into the
sky, and throwing a vivid light. Then they all sat round’ it, watching
the flames as they shot up and illuminated the scene, throwing a gleam
of radiance across the water, and lighting up the old schooner as she
lay afloat.

Then a song was proposed. Captain Corbet opened the proceedings by one
of his own peculiar harmonies, which was received with loud laughter and
cheers. Others then, sang; and finally they called on Bart for “Bingo,”
 a favorite song with all. So Bart sang Bingo, and they all joined in the
chorus.

                   “A farmer’s dog sat on the floor,

                        And his name was little Bingo;

                   A farmer’s dog sat on the floor,

                        And his name was little Bingo.

               Bart. B!

               Bruce. I!!

               Arthur. Nil!

               Tom. G!!!!

               Omnes. O! O! O! O! O!

                   ‘And his name was little Bingo!

                   “This farmer he brewed right good ale,

                        And called it rare old Stingo;

                   This farmer he brewed right good ale,

                        And called it rare old-Stingo.

               Bart. S!

               Bruce. T!!

               Arthur. I!!!

               Tom. N !!!!

               Phil. G!!!!!

               Omnes. O! O! O! O! O!

                   And called it rare old Stingo!

               Bart. “Now, don’t you call this a merry tale?

               Omnes. We think it is, by jingo!

               Bart. O, don’t you call this a merry tale?

               Omnes. We think it is, by jingo!

               Bart. J!

               Bruce. I!!

               Arthur.

               Tom.

               Omnes.  NO! O! O! O! O!

                   “We think it is, by jingo!”

As the last chorus, roared out in tremendous tones, burst into the air
and ceased, it was followed by a sudden roar of thundering laughter
coming from some strange voice from the direction of the wood-pile. In
an instant every one had started to his feet, and looked in amazement
for the cause of the noise.

There, on the top of the wood-pile, stood a stout, burly, red-faced
man, laughing, and stamping, and clapping his hands. It was a long
time before he could gain breath, to speak. At length he conquered his
laughter, and shaking his fist, he bawled out,--

“See here, you young rascals! What do you mean by coming here and
burning up my wood? Hey!”

At this Mr. Long came forward, and Captain Corbet followed. Mr. Long
introduced himself, explained the situation, apologized, and offered to
pay.

This the stranger laughingly listened to.

“Pooh, pooh! Mr. Long. I’m delighted to see you, sir,” he said. “Don’t
apologize for the wood. You’re welcome to all of it. I’m Captain Pratt,
and I want you to come up to my house, and put up there as long as
you like. As for the wood, I’ll give you free liberty to burn it, on
condition that the boys sing that song again.”

Captain Pratt now advanced among them, and his bluff manner, hearty
laughter, and stentorian voice at once made him a great favorite. He
informed them that he was the owner of the cove and all the region round
about; that he had a sawmill up the stream; that he had a schooner which
was away; and finally he insisted that they all should go at once to
his house, and take up their quarters there for as long a time as they
liked.

This invitation was unanimously accepted, with thanks from the teachers
and cheers from the boys. So, leaving Captain Corbet and the mate to
extinguish the fire, to prevent danger to the wood-pile, they followed
Captain Pratt through the darkness to his house.

It was a small-sized farm-house, where Captain Pratt and his wife lived
by themselves. He had three beds, into one of which he proposed to put
Messrs. Simmons and Long, leaving the other beds and a huge kitchen
sofa for the twelve boys. Captain Corbet and the mate could sleep on
the vessel. The boys succeeded in packing themselves away in some
extraordinary fashion or other; and though they would have had far more
real comfort on board of the schooner, yet they preferred this for the
novelty of the thing.

On the following day, the first care was to secure a supply of
provisions. Captain Pratt had a rude sort of shop, in which he kept
supplies for the mill, but unfortunately the stock was low; but the
schooner was expected every day with fresh stores. All that the shop
contained, at present, was some meal and molasses, with a box of tobacco
and a barrel of pork. Out of these they had to select the ship stores;
and as they had only Hobson’s choice, they laid in some meal, molasses,
and pork. Captain Corbet tried hard to induce them to lay in some
tobacco also, but Mr. Long declined.

Strolling about the cove, they found it a very pretty place, encircled
by hills which were covered with hard-wood trees. A stream ran from
among the hills into the creek, supplying it with a little fresh water,
which at low tide was the only water in its bed. Going up the stream a
short distance, they came to a very romantic spot, where the stream ran
through a narrow gorge, and tumbled over a small precipice, forming a
miniature cascade of a very charming kind. Here the boys spent a greater
part of the day in fishing, and succeeded, after six hours’ laborious
effort and patient waiting on the part of ten of them, in catching five
very small trout.

After getting the supplies for the schooner, Messrs. Simmons and Long
went along the shore to a place which Captain Corbet told them of, where
they expected to secure some petrifactions. Captain Corbet went with
them as guide. The mate took possession of the barn, and slept all the
time.

As for the boys, two of them, Bogud and Billy-mack, went with the
teachers by special invitation, for the others preferred remaining.
Six hours were consumed in fishing, and the remainder of the time in
dawdling. They _did_ Pratt’s Cove so thoroughly that there was not a
nook unexplored.

On the following night, the “B. O. W. C.” decided to quit Captain
Pratt’s house and sleep in the schooner. So they went down about dusk,
and were put on board by Jiggins, who brought back the boat to the
shore.

Messrs. Simmons and Long did not return that night, nor yet on the
following morning. About ten o’clock they got back. They were met by
Captain Pratt and the five boys who had slept at his house. They had
very serious faces.

It seems that Captain Pratt had been down at eight o’clock to call the
boys to breakfast. He found the schooner gone, and on the mud flats,
left dry by the tide, lay the fluke of the anchor broken off short. This
was the message that he brought, explaining, at the same time, that the
boys had slept on board, and must have drifted away with the schooner.



XII.

_On the Track again.--Fishing for a Duck.--Asking for Bread, and getting
Stones.--Pat shines as Cook._


AT receiving such startling intelligence, both Messrs’. Simmons and
Long looked horrified and bewildered, and neither of them said one word.

“At any rate, the mate’s on board,” said Mr. Long at last.

“The mate! That’s the wrorst of it. He got his breakfast only a half an
hour go. He slept in my barn.”

“And where has the vessel gone?” cried Mr. Long, in great distress.

“I can’t tell. I rowed out for a mile, but didn’t see any signs of
her.”

“We must go after them at once,” said Mr. Long. “Can’t we get a
sail-boat somewhere?”

“I suppose I can rig up a sail in my boat; but she’s only a punt, and I
don’t think wo could manage her at all among the currents out there.”

“I wonder if they know anything about sailing?”

“No doubt they do,” said Captain Pratt.

“O, they’re all right,” said Captain Corbet, confidently. “I said, when
they went adrift before, that they’d turn up right side up--and up they
turned. Besides, the weather’s fine, and there’s no danger in life.”

“Still we must do something,” said Mr. Long, anxiously. “Even if they do
understand sailing, they can never get back here again.”

“It’s jest what I’ve been expectin’,” said Captain Corbet, after a
profound silence, and with a tone of deep conviction.

“What?”

“Why, that there anchor.”

“What did you expect?”

“Why, that it would break off short. You see there’s been a crack in it
for nigh two years, an’ every time I used it, I said, says I, it’s bound
to go this time.”

“But why in Heaven’s name did you let it go so long, if it was cracked?”

“Wal, to tell the truth, I never gave it a thought, ’cept when I had
occasion to anchor,--and then, of course, I couldn’t get it mended.”

“And so you’ve been trusting your own life, and the lives of other
people, to that old, cracked anchor,” cried Mr. Long, indignantly.

“Wal, it held on well down thar at Five Islands, and off on the
mud-flats. You know that. It did jest as well as a bran new one, and
didn’t break fair this time, nuther.”

“Didn’t break fair! What do you mean?”

“Why, I mean the schooner has kind o’ sot on it when she was aground,
and broke it that way.”

Mr. Long turned away.

“Captain Pratt,” said he, “I won’t conceal from you that I’m very
anxious. Those boys may understand sailing, but I’m not sure that they
do. I must do something. Can’t you suggest anything?”

“Well, I was just going to take my glass,” said Captain Pratt, “and go
down to that there pint,” pointing to a headland a few miles off. “That
pint commands a view of pooty nigh the whole bay, and I shouldn’t wonder
if we’d see the schooner. I was just going there when you came. Besides,
we can get a boat down there,--a good deal better than mine.”

“We’ll start off at once, then,” said Mr. Long. “These boys can wait
here till We come back. I hope we won’t need to trouble your good nature
long, Captain Pratt.”

“Trouble! Why, sir, it’s the greatest pleasure I have to see a strange
face here occasionally.” After a few words of warning and good advice to
the boys who were to remain, Mr. Long, together with Mr. Simmons, went
with Captain Pratt, while Captain Corbet, with Bogud and Billymack,
followed after them. The party of six set out in the direction of the
headland mentioned by Captain Pratt, while the five boys who remained
sauntered down slowly to the shore, where were the boxes and baskets
which had been landed there on the evening of the arrival at the cove.

The boys felt the hours hang heavily upon their hands. The absence of
their companions made them all feel dull; the fare at Captain Pratt’s
had grown distasteful, for pork and Indian meal and molasses are things
that are sometimes not wonderfully attractive to the youthful taste. So
these things palled; and when, at twelve o’clock, they were summoned
to dinner by amiable Mrs. Pratt, she found that they had lost their
appetites--a thing which she attributed to their grief about their lost
companions; and so she set to work to condole with them and comfort
them. After escaping from this kind-hearted old lady, they went down to
the point again, and watched the water as it flowed in. Captain Pratt
and his companions had not comeback, and they were prepared for a long
absence on his part. The thought made them more disconsolate.,

“What can we do?” said Sammy.

“We’ll starve,” said Johnny Blue.

“We’ll have to do something,” said Jiggins, who was a very grave, earnest
boy, and always spoke in a very grave, earnest manner.

“Well, what?”

“For my part,” said Jiggins, “I’ll go fishing. Who’ll come with me?”

“I will,” said Muckle.

“And I,” said Johnny Blue.

“I don’t think there’s any chance,” said Pat; “so I’ll stay here and
fish for ails in the mud.”

Pat could never get rid of “a taste of the brogue,” which clung to him,
and proclaimed his nationality.

Sammy showed no inclination to move; so the three went fishing, leaving
him and Pat behind.

Pat then went into the woods and cut a long fishing-pole, after which he
went fishing for “ails.” He had no success, but kept at it bravely for
more than an hour, unwilling to give up. At last his patience was worn
out, and he returned to the point. On his arrival there, Sammy was not
to be seen.

Pat seated himself disconsolately on the shore, and watched the tide,
which was now running out, for some time. Then his roving eyes were
attracted by the baskets and trunks. To these he directed his steps, in
the hope that something might be found there with which he could satisfy
the cravings of his appetite.

He found most of the trunks empty. Some of the baskets were filled with
plates, others with cups and saucers, others with knives, forks, and
spoons. All these excited his disgust to an unmeasured degree. In one
of them he found a ham-bone, the remainder of their last repast on
the shore. This had nothing on it whatever--a fact which excited such
indignation in Pat that he flung it into the water.

At last he came to the baskets containing the minerals. Opening these,
he found a large number of parcels inside. Hoping that these would
afford something eatable, he opened one or two of them, but found, to
his unspeakable disgust, that they contained nothing but stones.

Pat was a very original character, who had drifted, by some
extraordinary chance, into the school. With a very strong desire to get
an “edication,” he had come there and begged Dr. Porter to admit him,
offering to pay his way by working.-Dr. Porter found that the Irish boy
had already learned a good deal, and that he had an exceedingly strong
desire to be taught more. He could read and write well; and so earnest
were his entreaties, that the kind-hearted doctor consented to admit
him. His industry and application soon gained the good will of the
teachers; while his flow of good spirits, his oddities and whims, made
him popular among the boys. In many respects he was intensely ignorant,
and had not been long enough at the school to acquire anything like the
general information which the rest of the boys possessed. At first they
had wondered or laughed at his blunders; but afterward Pat had been
more cautious about expressing his opinions on anything, and thus,
by exhibiting his ignorance less, was supposed to have surmounted it.
Taking him all together, he was a very remarkable boy, and promised, in
time, to surpass many of his companions.

At present, however, he was far inferior to them all. He had been asked
to go on the trip of the Antelope from a very kindly desire to give him
all the advantages possible. He had not the remotest idea what the real
purpose of the trip was, but supposed it to be a kind of pleasure party.
It is true he saw Messrs. Simmons and Long hammering, rocks; but with
his usual caution about committing himself and exposing his ignorance,
he had not asked anything about it, nor had he looked at their work.
While they were hammering rocks, he was climbing them, or running about
the beach. He had not noticed the baskets, but supposed them to be full
of provisions; nor had he seen Messrs. Simmons and Long in their tender
tare of their specimens after landing on this place. The stones, then,
which Pat discovered, wrapped in paper, were utterly unintelligible
to him, and the sight of them only seemed to cap the climax of the
indignation which was growing in his breast.

“Well! well well!” he exclaimed, as he looked at each stone on taking it
from the paper. “What’s this? A stone--a muddy stone! By the powers, but
isn’t this like a boy askin’ for bread, and gettin’ a stone.”

In fact it was no better than a dirty stone in Pat’s eyes. Two very
beautiful specimens of moss agate they were; but it would need grinding
and polishing to bring out these peculiar beauties. As yet they were
concealed.

Another and another paper was opened. One contained a white stone, like
quartz, enclosing some amethysts; another a piece of sandstone, with
peculiar marks on it, very highly prized by Mr. Simmons. These Pat threw
on the ground with great indignation. Then he took the rest out without
opening them, knowing by the touch and the weight of them what they
were. He had a strong hope that something eatable might yet be in the
bottom of the basket; but at last all was empty, and there was nothing
to eat.

His indignation could no longer be repressed. He had a vague idea that
some one had done this so as to play a trick on him, and this thought
only heightened his passion. So, without thinking of anything but his
own wrongs, he seized the unoffending stones by handfuls, and angrily
threw them over the bank into the water. Then he sat down gloomily, and
tried to conjecture which of the boys it had been who had wrapped all
those stones in paper for the sake of tricking him. At first his impulse
was to go around among them fiercely and inquire; but at length, from
fear of being laughed at, he decided to say nothing about it, but wait
and see what would turn up.

He was roused from his reverie by a touch on the shoulder.

He started hastily, and saw Johnny Blue, looking very mysterious, with
something under his jacket.

“Hallo! Where, are-the others?” said Pat. “Couldn’t you catch anything?”

“The others are up the brook, fishing. I caught _something_,” said
Johnny, with a more mysterious look than ever.

“What is it? What, have you got under your arm?”

“See,” said Johnny, triumphantly; and lifting his jacket, he displayed,
to Pat’s astonished gaze, the form of a duck.

“A duck!” cried Pat, with a shout. “Where did you get it?”

“H-s-s-s-s-h!” said Johnny, warningly. “I caught it.”

“Caught it?”

“Yes, with a fish-hook. I trailed the hook, baited with a bit of bread,
and the duck bit--and here he is.”

“We’ll cook him!” cried Pat.

“That’s it; but we’d better get away where they won’t see us.”

“Sure nobody ‘ll see us here, at all, at all.”

“Won’t they?”

“Surely no. There’s lots of wood here, an’ I’ll start the fire in a
jiffy. Come along. Hurroo, boys!”

So Pat and Johnny set the fire going, and then they picked the
duck,---which was previously killed, of course,--and they had him all
ready to lay on the coals, when suddenly, their attention was arrested
by a low, muffled, piteous squeal close by them behind the wood-pile.

“H-s-s-s-s-h!” said Johnnie.

“Botheration!” said Pat, hiding the duck under a log of wood.

“What is it?” said Johnnie.

“Sure it’s a pig--that’s what it is,” said Pat.

A rustle was heard now in the bushes, and then Sammy walked out from
behind the wood-pile. His face had a bright expression of satisfaction,
and he, too, had something under his arm.

“It’s another duck!” said Pat, with a wild laugh.

“Sammy’s been out fishin’, too,” and he went off into a peal of
laughter.

“Stop your noise,” said Sammy. “I thought you were somebody else, and
that’s why I had to come through the trees, and behind the wood-pile.”

“Is it a duck ye’ve got, thin?” asked Pat. “Sure, haven’t we one
oursilves?”

Sammy said nothing, but drawing his jacket aside, showed the little
white head and twinkling eyes of a pig of very small size--a roaster, in
fact, in excellent condition.

“It’s a pig ye’ve got. Didn’t I know the squale of it? Didn’t I say it
was? It’s me that knows the voice of a pig. Hurroo, boys! we’re goin’ to
have a banquet, so we are. Where did ye get it, thin, Sammy, jewel?”

“Don’t talk so loud,” said Sammy, looking cautiously all around.
“They’ll hear you.”

“It’s mum I’ll be, thin. But where did ye get it, darlin’?” said Pat, in
a soft, coaxing whisper.

“Up there.”

“Where? Pratt’s?”

“No.”

“Where thin?”

“O, never mind. It wasn’t near any house. It was in a field. There were
a dozen of them; and I was so hungry I couldn’t help it.”

“Faith, thin we may as well have the young roaster as the old pork,”
 said Pat. “Ye’re well here. We’re in luck this day. See here.”

And he pulled out the duck and showed it to Sammy.

“How nicely you’ve picked it and fixed it!” said he. “I wish we could
manage the pig. I don’t know what to do with it.”

“Many’s the pig I’ve kilt,” said Pat, loftily.

“Have you then? And will you do this one?”

“Will I do it? Faith, it’s me that will,” said Pat. “But won’t he
squeal?”

“Squale is it? Not a squale you’ll hear.”

On this Sammy handed the pig to Pat, who disappeared with it among the
bushes. No sound was heard; but after a short absence Pat returned in
triumph, having accomplished his object.

“And now we’ll have two roasts, instead of one.” Driving two forked
sticks into the ground, he made another with a sharp point, and ran it
through the duck and the pig; then he laid the stick with its burden
upon the two forked sticks, and knelt down by the fire.

“The coals are just right,” said Pat. “I’ll sit here an’ give it a
turrun till I’m tired, an’ thin ye’ll relave me.” So he kept on turning
the spit, and soon a rich aromatic fragrance filled the air.

“Isn’t there any salt?” asked Pat, after a time.

“Of course,” said Johnny; “and there’s pepper too. I’ll get the
castors.”

“Do, thin, and quick too,” said Pat.

The castors were soon forthcoming, and Pat sprinkled a little salt and
pepper over the roaster and the duck.

“That’s the way,” said he, “to bring out the full fleevour.”

At length they were done, and taken off the fire. The plates, knives and
forks, upon which Pat had looked so contemptuously shortly before, were
now brought forth. A pleasant place was found in a secluded spot, and
here they sat down to dine.

They had scarcely begun when footsteps were heard. Pat went out to
reconnoitre.

It was Jiggins and Muckle.

“Have ye caught any fish?” was his first address to them.

“No,” said they in a discontented tone; “and we’re starving.”

“Is it starvin’ ye are? Thin will ye just step in here, for we’ve got
the most illegant dinner ye ever sot eyes on.” And saying this he led
them to the little secluded nook, where the table was spread on the
grass.

At six o’clock they went up to tea, and Mrs. Pratt sympathized deeply
with the poor boys, who had lost their appetites from anxiety.



XIII.

_Adrift.--Skilful Navigators.--Breakers ahead.--A narrow Scratch.--Stuck
in the Mud._


LET us now return to the unfortunate “B. O. W. C.” who had met so
unexpectedly with another adventure.

On going on board of the schooner, they found the water low; and the
tide had just begun to float her in rising. As they had slept but little
the preceding night, they retired almost immediately, and soon were
buried in a profound slumber. The next morning Phil was awake first. He
went up on deck, and the next instant gave a loud cry.

“Hallo, boys!” he cried. “Get up! We’re adrift. Hurry up--quick!”

Awaking instantly at this startling news, they tumbled up on deck
without a moment’s delay; and there, true enough, they found themselves
far out in the bay, adrift, apparently, as Phil had said.

“This is queer,” said Bruce. “Here’s her anchor down, as usual.”

The others walked to the bows where Bruce was, and saw the chain hanging
down, just as though she were anchored.

“We are anchored, sure enough,” said Arthur.

“No, we’re not; we’re drifting,” said Bart.

“Look at the land.”

A look at the land satisfied all that the vessel was actually moving
through the water.

“Let’s try the anchor. It must be dragging,” said Bart.

So they all went to work at the windlass, and in course of time found
the anchor raised. As they worked, they found it lighter than they
expected; and when at length they had ended, they ran to the bows. All
was explained. The anchor was broken off short at the fluke.

“That’s how it happened,” said Bart. “And so we’re in for another
adventure.”

“What shall we do now?”

“Sail the vessel, of course,” said Bruce.

“Where to?”

“Back to Pratt’s Cove.”

“And where is that?”

No one could answer that. Each one looked around carefully, in order to
see if he could find any place which looked like Pratt’s Cove. But there
were two difficulties in the way of any such discovery. In the first
place, they had approached Pratt’s Cove in the dark, and did not know
how it looked; and in the second place, they could not see any spot that
looked like a cove at all.

All around them was the bay. Before them was the Parrsboro’ shore.
Behind them was Blomidon. On one side, and a little in front, were the
Five Islands about six miles distant; beyond which the waters of the
bay extended, till they faded away into a low, indistinct lino of coast.
They could understand, in a general way, that Pratt’s Cove lay somewhere
in front of them, but they could not guess within twenty miles of the
place.

“Let’s up sail,” said Tom, “and run up there. It looks like a cove;” and
he pointed to a hollow in the line of hills.

“O, the hills around Pratt’s Cove are higher than that,” said Bruce.

“Suppose we sail over and ask O’Rafferty.”

“Very well. I agree to that,” said Bart. “Bruce, you can steer.”

“No. You may as well steer,” said Bruce.

“I don’t particularly care about it,” said Bart. “Don’t any of you
fellows want to?”

“O, no. We don’t care. You steer, Bart. We’ll hoist the sails.”

So Bart turned away with rather a blank expression on his face, and
walked slowly to the rudder. The wind was moderate, and the water only
a little ruffled. The other boys, with immense confusion and shouting,
toiled away at the sails one after the other, and at last managed to get
them set.

“Perhaps we’d better not have the foresail up,” suggested Bart.

“O, yes. Why not?” said Bruce. “Come, boys--up she rises!”

And shouting out a sailor’s song which he had once heard, he completed
his work.

The vessel moved gently through the water, and Bart pointed her head
towards the island which he considered to be O’Rafferty’s. The wind was
fair, and the vessel came around very easily, and then headed away for
the island.

Now, it happened that, as Bart belonged to a seaport town, and as his
father was a merchant, and as Bart himself had once experienced a sea
fever, and had been almost on the point of running away to sea,--he had,
very naturally, been always regarded among his companions as a great
authority on all matters connected with seamanship. And so, to a certain
extent, he was. He knew all about the rigging of a ship, and understood,
in a general way, the principles on which she sailed. He was also a good
oarsman; but in point of fact, he had never handled a sail-boat in his
life. This was owing to his father’s prudence, who allowed him to go out
rowing whenever he pleased, but never permitted him to have a sail-boat.
And so it happened that Bart knew no more about sailing than any one on
board.

However, there was no help for it; and he had to take the tiller and
assume the responsibility of the situation. After a time he began to
gain confidence. The wind was moderate, the schooner was going in a
straight course, and O’Rafferty’s Island was full before him.

They went on for a long time, when at length Bruce exclaimed,--

“Well, I don’t see how it is. We’ve been going to O’Rafferty’s for
full half an hour, and we are no nearer. And here we are, with Pinnacle
Island coming between us.”

“It’s the currents,” said Bart, coolly. “Nobody can sail in this bay,
unless he understands all about them. I’m sure I don’t.”

“Hadn’t we better bring her about, and stand off on the other tack? We
could then steer so as to make allowance for the current, which seems to
be setting off there.”

“Here, Bruce, you steer,” said Bart. “I’m tired.”

“O, well, let’s bring her around first. Port your helm, Bart.”

Bart tried to obey; but as he turned the helm in exactly the opposite
way, some confusion was the result.

“Port! I said port!” cried Bruce.

“O!” said Bart; and seeing that he had made a mistake, he proceeded to
rectify it by turning it starboard. The vessel had turned partly; but as
Bruce had expected it to turn in the opposite direction, he had checked
Bart’s mistake. But Bruce himself knew as little about sailing as Bart,
and so he had swung the sails the wrong way.

The vessel caught the wind as she came round; and Bart, who had tried to
obey Bruce’s correction, finding that the vessel was all right, and
was doing very well, checked himself, and let her go. Bart now saw that
Bruce had made a mistake, and Bruce suspected that Bart had. But they
said nothing, and the other boys thought that both Bruce and Bart were
first-rate navigators.

The schooner now held on straight ahead on what Bart supposed to be
the other tack. Bruce and the others were very well satisfied with the
proceedings.

“I think we’d better come round again, Bart,” said Bruce.

“Very well,” said Bart, who had been looking forward to this.

“Port your helm, then,” said Bruce.

Bart turned the helm a-starboard, as he had done before, while Bruce and
Arthur swung the booms to assist the vessel. She came round that time
all right.

“Why, Bart! why didn’t you port the helm?”

“Because I had to put the helm starboard to bring her round. It’s all
right.”

Bruce looked grave. He felt that he had committed a blunder. After all,
which was port and which was starboard he hardly knew. He concluded
after this to intrust the care of the vessel to one who knew, like Bart,
and felt quite grateful to Bart for his delicacy in not exposing his
ignorance.

Away went the schooner--faster this time, for the wind had sprung up
fresher. This was what Bart dreaded. But there was no help for it; so
he kept on, with a vague expectation of some disaster. He now headed, as
before, for O’Rafferty’s Island, and watched very anxiously to see how
they were progressing.

“You’d better head her a little to the north’ard, Bart,” said
Arthur--“hadn’t you? so as to allow for that current.”

“Very well,” said Bart; and he put the vessel a little closer in the
direction indicated.

But in doing so, the vessel began to stagger, and the sails began to
flap and rattle, and Bart was filled with consternation. Hastily he
restored the helm to its former position, but without any result. Then
he tried the old manouvre, by means of which he had already turned her
twice. It was of no use. The sails flapped, and the vessel danced, and
Bart was about confessing his complete ignorance of everything, when
suddenly her sails filled again, and to Bart’s amazement and delight
she sailed off away from the island and back on the other tack.

Bart’s heart was full of thankfulness, but he said not a word. He looked
ahead as coolly as possible, and held the tiller as before.

“Well, Bart, what are you up to now? Why don’t you head for
O’Rafferty’s?”

“Can’t,” said Bart, laconically.

“Why not?”

“Why, there are tides and currents about those islands enough to sweep
away a line-of-battle ship. I don’t understand them. Didn’t you see what
a scrape I got into just now? I won’t try O’Rafferty’s again in a
hurry; but if any of you fellows choose to try it, I don’t care.”

“O, no,” said Bruce, “we can’t do it if you can’t, Bart. But where are
you going now?”

“Well, I don’t know. We must make up our minds. I’m keeping my eye on
the coast; and if I can find any place that looks like Pratt’s Cove,
I’ll run in. The fact is, we must do something, or they’ll be frightened
out of their wits about us.”

“Pratt’s Cove? But how can we ever find the place?”

“Perhaps, when we get in a little closer to the land, we may see it.”

“I’m confident,” said Bart, “that it’s somewhere along this coast; for
it seems to me, as near as I can remember, that this is the coast we
sailed to. Look at the Five Islands. There’s O’Rafferty’s; and there are
the others. You see we came out from this side of O’Rafferty’s, and then
sailed up somewhere along there. I think, when we get nearer, we’ll see
an opening; and perhaps we’ll hit the cove itself.”

The others seemed impressed by Bart’s words; and as none of them had
anything better to suggest, they said nothing.

And now the wind blew still more freshly, and Bart looked around with
dismay. On went the schooner; but the long line of coast showed no
opening whatever, and he had no idea what to do to extricate himself
from the position in which he was. What made it worse was the confidence
which all now felt in him.. He felt that the end would come--the moment
when he would stand revealed in his true colors, and lose his prestige
forever.

More freshly still blew the wind, and the sea around rose higher,
tossing up now into white-capped waves, which every little while dashed
over the bows and scattered their spray about the decks. Yielding to the
wind, the vessel lay over; and on she scudded, dashing through the
water in a style which excited all on board, and intoxicated them with
delight.

“Hurrah!” cried Bruce. “Boys, isn’t this glorious?”

“Glorious!” cried the boys; and some of them swung by their hands from
the rigging, and others danced about the deck, shouting as each wave
came splashing over the bows, and roaring with laughter when any one got
a ducking.

Hurrah! and Hurrah again!--and yet again! Their wild mirth only added
new anguish to the dismay of poor Bart, who found himself now face to
face with an inextricable problem.

In their last stretch across from the Five Islands, they had drawn near
to the main land, and were now moving nearer and nearer every moment.
What was to be done? It was already time to turn; but where could he
turn, or where would he go when he did turn? or, for that matter, how
could he venture to turn at all? His last experience in turning the
schooner had filled him with despair. What was the meaning of those
kickings, and flappings, and jumpings? What was the reason that she
didn’t mind her rudder at all? And now the wind was stronger, and the
sea was rougher. Could he venture to turn the vessel with such a wind
and such a sea? He felt that he could not. Anything would be better. So
he thought while taking counsel with his own soul.

And while taking counsel with his own soul, he saw before him the coast
extending invitingly. There was a long line of sand, or of mud,--which
was just as good,--into which he longed to run the vessel. Which would
be best--to run the vessel ashore, or to make the desperate attempt
to turn her again, and set her kicking and plunging? He preferred the
former. Yes, to run her ashore would solve the whole difficulty. He
might be disgraced by it, but he could not help it. He felt that he
was doomed to disgrace, in any event; and it would be better to incur
disgrace on a mud bank, and in safety, than when tossing and drifting
he didn’t know where. His mind, then, was made up; and he kept the
schooner’s head straight towards the shore.

But as he approached it, he was aware of one very startling fact, and
that was, that the schooner, while going forward, was also drifting
rapidly to leeward. In the course of that sidelong motion, she was
losing way so rapidly, that, instead of striking the mud flats, she
might run upon a very different kind of place; for there, on the lee
bow, was a headland of dark, stern rock, at the base of which the waves
were breaking into foam. In his fixed attention to the mud flats, he
had’ not noticed this till just now, when it was full before him, and
not very far away. Below this headland the mud flats appeared again.

What could he do?

All seemed lost; for the headland, and the foaming waves, and the
frowning, jagged rocks were full before him. With a bitter feeling of
despair, and a pang of anguish for the coming fate of the friends who
had given him their trust, and who even now were singing and shouting
in their uproarious glee, he stood for a moment paralyzed, looking with
white lips at his fate.

Suddenly, and just as all seemed lost, he jerked the helm a-port. The
schooner swung half round. The wind took her astern, and drove her
forward. Her sails flapped and banged about. Then a current seemed to
seize her and carry her on for a score of yards. Suddenly there was a
thump, a grinding noise, and another thump dull and heavy.

In an instant all was confusion.

“The rocks! the rocks!” cried all. “She’s struck!”

Then the schooner was once more swept on, and a wave, striking her
stern, dashed the tiller out of Bart’s hands, and he fell. Springing up,
he seized it again, not knowing how he moved it, or when. At that moment
the sails filled again, the schooner bounded forward, and in a few
minutes it was beyond the headland, and moving on toward the lower mud
flat; and before they knew that they were saved, she drove hard and fast
into the mud, with a shock that knocked them all down..

Picking themselves up, they looked around at the shore in bewilderment.
Then they looked at Bart.

“What’s all this?” they asked.

“O, nothing,”’ said Bart. “I found we couldn’t do anything, and so I ran
her ashore.”

“By Jove!” cried Bruce, “that was a pretty narrow scratch we had of it
on those rocks. After this, Bart, I’ll always brag on you. You’ve saved
our lives, Bart. I thought we were gone for it. I never saw anything
done so splendidly.”

For a moment Bart was silent. Here was a chance for fame. He might avail
himself of the lucky accident, and turn it to his own glory. But the
thought was only a passing one. It was at once dismissed.

“No, boys,” said he; “the only thing I did was nearly to destroy your
lives. In fact, I don’t know any more about sailing a vessel than any of
you. It’s been a very narrow escape. I was a fool to try it; and I can
only make amends by confessing it. I don’t believe in being a humbug,
and I won’t be one any longer.”

At first the boys wouldn’t believe him, but after a while he explained
all about it. After this confession, Bart was as much esteemed by his
friends as ever.



XIV.

_In Mud and Water.--A Sea Monster.--A terrific Fight.--Wonderful Pluck
of the “B. O. W. C.”--Swallowing a Sculpin.--The Trophy.--Waiting for
Deliverance._


FINDING themselves thus fixed in the mud, they looked around to see the
place at which they had thus unexpectedly arrived. In front of them
was a bank about sixty feet high, which extended for some miles away,
commencing with the rocky headland, and covered with trees on the top;
while beyond this, the country rose into hills. As far as they could
see, there was no opening in the shore to indicate the presence of a
cove or a harbor. From the appearance of the water, it seemed as
though the mud flat extended for miles along the shore. The water was
comparatively smooth, and the headland kept off the wind, so that after
they had lowered the sails, the schooner remained quite still.

It was now about noon, and they knew that the tide was rising. A wide
space of the mud flat lay still uncovered by the water. Their position
was a safe one as yet, though not at all pleasant on many accounts.

“The tide’s rising,” said Phil; “isn’t it, Bart?”

“Yes.”

“When will it be high tide?”

“About three.”

“I wonder if they’ll come after us.”

“Of course they will.”

“There doesn’t seem to be much chance of our getting ashore.”

“Well, it doesn’t make much difference, for we couldn’t do anything if
we did get there.”

“I say, boys,” said Arthur, “the schooner’s beginning to float again.”

All stood waiting in silence, and in a few moments they felt a slight
motion.

“Yes,” said Bruce, “the tide has risen since we struck, and is floating
us in. At high tide we shall be close up under the bank.”

“And then what shall we do? We must either choose to fasten the vessel
ashore if we can, or float out again and sail for it, or drift.”

“I don’t think we’ll care about sailing again, particularly as the tide
will be going out, and the night coming on.”

“My idea is,” said Bruce, “to fasten her to the shore if we can, and
then go along the beach or the bank till we find some people and get
help.”

“That’s about all we can do,” said Bart. “We can’t think of going
adrift, and none of us can sail the vessel; so, if they don’t come after
us, we had better land, and leave the vessel; or some of us can go for
help, and others stay on board.”

“I wonder if the vessel is safe here.”.

“O, safe enough--if a gale don’t spring up in that case she might get
knocked on the bank.”

“We don’t seem to have been hurt by our knocking up there,” said Arthur.
“There’s no water in the hold.”.

“O, she’s all right,” said Bruce; “and she’s a gallant, gallant ship, as
the song says.”.

The vessel was steadily floated nearer and nearer to the shore as the
tide rose, and the boys watched her progress with close attention. At
about three o’clock they could expect to be up to the bank, and then
they would have to find some way to fasten her.

Suddenly Bart, who had been looking down the shore, pointed to
something, and said,--

“Look, look! Do you see that?”

“What?”

“Don’t you see a line--running along about a mile away?”

“What, a thin, dark line? Yes. What of it?”

“Why, it’s a wier for fish. It shows that people must be living not far
from here. It shows, too, that we can get something to eat at low tide,
even if there are no people. So, hurrah, boys we’re all right yet.”

“The fact is,” said Bruce, solemnly, “I must confess that I’m starving.
I’ve felt the pangs of hunger for the last two hours, and I can’t stand
it any longer. I’m going to have a regular rummage down below, for I’m
bound to find something.”

All the rest followed Bruce as he went below, and they began to overhaul
the whole vessel. For some time they found nothing but a beggarly array
of empty boxes, and loud were their murmurs and complaints.

“If it hadn’t been for that miserable Sammy Ram Ram, we’d have a few
turkeys and chickens here,” said Bruce. “How that fellow and Johnny Blue
managed to get through with them all, I can’t understand.”

“Pooh! those two fellows did nothing else but stuff from the time they
came on board till they got to Pratt’s Cove. Captain Corbet and the mate
helped them, and so did Pat, too, no doubt. I haven’t any hard feeling
against any of them, but I must say I wouldn’t be sorry if their food
didn’t agree with them.”

“Hallo! What’s this? Hurrah!” cried Tom, suddenly.

“What, Tom,--what is it?”

“See here,” cried Tom, triumphantly. “Arn’t we in luck? Don’t ever fret
again, boys. Here’s a half loaf of bread that I found in the corner.
It’s rather stale, a little too dry, and too hard,--but I think it’s
about the nicest morsel I ever saw. We’ve got our dinner provided for
us, and we needn’t hanker after raw fish from the wiers any more.”

Tom’s joy was fully shared by all; and the half loaf of hard, stale,
dried-up bread was quickly divided into five pieces, and eagerly
devoured by the famished boys.

“And now,” said Bruce, “I feel like a giant refreshed. I’ll go on deck
and have another look at the situation. My private opinion is, however,
that if they’re coming after us, they’d better come. The tide’s getting
higher every minute; and if they get here after we’ve fastened her to
the shore, and got her high and dry, they’ll have to wait for twelve
good hours before they can get her to float off again,--not to speak of
spring tides. Do you know, Bart, if this is spring tide?”

“I don’t know, I’m sure,” said Bart.

“Well, then, we’ll have to trust to luck, I suppose. At the same time
I’ve a great mind to go ashore and reconnoitre.”

“I’ll go too,” said Bart.

“And so will I,” said Arthur.

“And I,” said Phil.

“I’ll go too,” said Tom. “But oughtn’t some of us to stay on board?”

“Stay on board? What for?”

“O, to watch the vessel.”

“Why, what good will that do?”

“She may drift off.”

“Well, why should any of us want to drift off in her?”

“I don’t believe there’s any chance of her drifting off while the tide
is rising,” said Bruce; “and if she does drift off, I think we’re all
better out of her than in her. So if one of us goes ashore, we’d all
better go. It’s not more than three feet deep at the bows, and there’s a
sand-spit over there within easy distance.”

“I wonder if there are any quicksands.”

“O, we’ll have to run the risk. There are a couple of boat-hooks there,
and two of us can go ahead and try the ground with them. It’s not far to
the spit.”

“We’ll have to strip and carry our clothes with us,” said Phil.

“Yes. It would be a great joke if we left our clothes behind, and the
vessel drifted off with them.”

The boys now proceeded to undress themselves, and prepare to go ashore.
Each one tied up his clothes in a compact bundle. Bruce and Bart took
each a boat-hook, which lay in the schooner; Arthur took a handspike,
and Tom and Phil found a stout stick each. Thus equipped, they prepared
for the journey.

It was about one o’clock, and the tide would not be high for two hours
yet. In front of them, and between them-and the bank, lay a broad
expanse of mud flats, separating them from the bank by at least a
quarter of a mile of distance. On their right, however, was a place
which gave them a chance of a much better foothold than that which was
offered-by the slippery and treacherous mud. This was a long sand-spit,
which stretched out from the bank, and ran down across the mud flat and
into the water. It approached to within a hundred yards of the schooner,
and afforded not only a good walking-place, but a much nearer chance of
dry land than was possible anywhere else..Running down over the flat,
it rose above it to a height of from twelve to twenty inches, and was
covered with sand, gravel, and round cobblestones. It was to this place
that they intended to go.

Bruce led the way. Descending carefully over the bows, he dropped into
the water, which he found up to his armpits. The others followed, and
found it deeper for their shorter stature. It was over the shoulders
of Bart and Phil. Bart, however, took his place by Bruce’s side, and
prepared to walk ahead with his pole. Their first object was to get into
shallower water, and so they walked in the direction of the shore until
the water was not above their waists. Then they turned to the right,
toward the sand-spit.

If it had not been for the bundles, they could have varied their
progress by swimming; but as it was, they had to wade, and feel the
way cautiously, for fear of air-holes and quicksands. The surface mud
beneath their feet was very soft; but they did not sink very deeply,
and with every step they acquired fresh confidence. As they neared the
sand-spit, the bottom grew sensibly harder, and shoaled rapidly, till it
was not much above their knees. At length it became a sandy bottom, and
they walked along more rapidly, no longer feeling their way.

Suddenly they were startled by a wild shout from Arthur. He had been
walking behind with Phil, and was some distance from the others, when
rapidly, between him and them, darted the form of a large fish, which,
in that shoal water, was as visible as if it were on land. At the cry
which he gave, Bruce and the others turned, and saw Arthur with his
handspike in the air, and the fish floundering and splashing close
beside. For a moment the blood of all of them froze with horror; the
next instant Arthur sprang forward, and dealt a tremendous blow with his
heavy handspike full on the head of the fish.

The monster splashed and struggled, and moved back into deeper water for
a few feet.

“Run, run!” cried Arthur. “It’s a shark! Run for your lives!”

The boys all set off as fast as they could toward the sand-spit, which
now was close by them.

But the fish was not to be easily escaped. In a few minutes it’s dark
form was beside them, and soon it crossed immediately in front of Bruce
and Bart. Mechanically, and in utter horror, both the boys swung up
their boat-hooks, and dashed them wildly against the dark figure.
Both struck home. There was a fearful splashing and writhing. Bart’s
boat-hook was wrenched from his hand, and the fish darted forward into
shoaler water.

[Illustration: 0201]

“Run, boys, run!” shouted Bruce, holding his boathook toward the fish,
and slowly retreating, so as to keep the monster in sight. Away they
went, Phil and Tom first, then Arthur. Bart moved forward, and then,
seeing his pole floating a few feet on one side, made a rush for it and
secured it. Then he kept by Bruce’s side, ready to help him in guarding
the retreat of the others.

The fish continued to splash and writhe about, either because he was
bewildered by the shoal water, or else because he was suffering from the
wounds which had been inflicted. As he did not pursue, Bruce and Bart
took fresh courage.

“Let’s finish him, Bruce!” cried Bart.

“Pitch in, then!” cried Bruce; and rushing at the fish, he drove his
boat-hook point deep into his side, while, at the same time, Bart,
raising his into the air, struck down, so that the hooked part
penetrated and held.

“Hook him, ‘Bruce!” shouted Bart. “Let’s drag him ashore.” Bruce raised
his pole to do so; but at that instant the struggling, writhing fish
turned towards them with furious energy, and moving over on its side,
it tried to twist Bart’s hook out of its flesh. The water was so shallow
that it could not have full exercise of its strength, and Bart held on.
The fish, in its struggles, opened its gasping mouth, showing wide rows
of sharp, triangular teeth. At that instant Bruce lowered his pole, and
drove it straight into the open mouth; forcing it deep into the throat.
The monster, in its agony, closed its jaws, and held it with a deathlike
tenacity.

A cry of triumph burst from Bruce and Bart.

“Hurrah, boys! We’ve got him!” they cried. “Pull, Bruce, nearer the
shore--into shoaler water.”

The water was already too shoal for the fish, which had so carelessly
thrown himself into it, and his resistance could not prevent the united
energies of Bruce and Bart from dragging him forward a few paces. But
that was all. Rousing himself, the monster tossed, and writhed and
struggled, and lashed the water into foam. Bruce and Bart could no
longer drag him. It was a struggle between them; but the boys had
now got their blood up, and they would have been dragged back to the
schooner rather than loose their hold.

The fish, in its fury or its agony, still kept its teeth closed on
Bruce’s pole, and strove to wrench it out of his grasp. His tremendous
efforts were prevailing against their united strength, and were
dragging them farther out. Bart’s hook had already been thrown off, and
he was plunging the pointed iron again and again into the fish’s side.

At this instant Arthur came dashing through the foam. Raising his heavy
handspike in the air, he poised it for a moment so as to take sure
aim, and then, with tremendous force, the weapon descended full on the
monster’s head. It was a crushing blow. The struggles and writhings
ceased, and changed to feeble motions and occasional convulsive
vibrations. It resisted no longer. It was powerless.

They dragged it upon the dry ground of the sand-spit, and examined their
conquest.

The fish was about five feet long, very broad at the head and shoulders,
with a very wide mouth, armed with several rows of saw-like teeth. The
nose was rounded, and the jaw was underneath. Its back was a dark slate
color, and its belly white.

“It’s what we call a Shovel-mouth Shark,” said Bruce, as he looked at
it, and admired its proportions.

“They call it a Dog Fish with us,” said Bart.

“It certainly, is a kind of shark,” said Arthur; “and as that sounds
better, we’ll call it by that name. Boys, we’ve fought and killed a
shovel-mouth shark! Let the ‘B. O. W. C.’ remember that!”

“We must keep his jaws as a trophy,” said Bruce. “Let’s cut him up and
get his jaws. Who’s got a knife?”

“Here,” said Arthur.

Thereupon, with the aid of the knife, the fish was dissected. In the
stomach they found a fish quite as remarkable as the one which had
swallowed it. It was a sculpin, a fish whose bony covering, and spiny
back, and horny head, and wonderful voracity, make it seem like those
primeval fish that swam in the waters of the world in an age when all
the inhabitants thereof were formed on a similarly monstrous model.

“What a fish,” cried Bart, “to swallow a sculpin! He must be a real
shark, after all, for a shark could not beat that. I thought that it
might have been by accident only that he met us, but it seems now as
though he was ravenous enough to mean mischief. ’Pon my word, if
I’d known about that sculpin, I think I would have run away instead of
staying to fight.”

After examining the fish, the jaws were removed, and, carrying them,
they walked up the sand-spit to the shore. Then dressing themselves,
they sat down and rested for a time. Then Bruce and Bart climbed to the
top of the bank, and went in different directions to explore. On coming
back, each had the same story. They had met with nothing but fir trees
and alder bushes, and had not seen a sign of any house whatever. On this
they all decided to go to the top of the bank, and wait patiently until
the tide was high, then fasten the schooner as well as they could, leave
a message on board to indicate their course, and set off along the coast
in search of inhabitants. With this decision, they climbed the bank to a
conspicuous position, and there waited.

The tide rose higher and higher. Each increase in the depth of the water
allowed the schooner to approach nearer to the shore, though there was
a sidelong drift, which, from time to time, changed her position,
sometimes presenting her bows to the beach, at other times her side.

The water was rising higher and still higher. The mud flats extended
close up to the beach below, but the beach itself was formed of sand and
gravel, and rose, by a steep slope, from the mud flat to the base of the
bank. By two o’clock the water had reached the edge of the gravel.

“It will take an hour more,” said Bruce, “before it gets to high-water
mark. One hour more, boys, and then off we must go to explore the
country.”



XV.

_Scratching for Clams.--How not to eat them.--Fearful Consequences of
Folly.--A formidable Medicine Chest.--Prevention better than Cure._


MEANWHILE the people at Pratt’s Cove waited for the return of the
captain and his company. The boys had excited the deepest sympathy of
Mrs. Pratt by their loss of appetite, and she was anxious about the
lost vessel. They had not eaten anything for tea; and after the meal was
over, they walked down to their old place. It was about half past six
o’clock, and a large part of the cove was already uncovered by the
receding tide.

“I wonder if there’s any duck left,” said Jiggins, with a sigh.

“Or roaster,” said Muckle, with another sigh.

“No,” said Pat, mournfully. “Sammy and Johnny have disposed av thim.”

Sammy and Johnny both looked innocently down, and by their silence
acknowledged the soft impeachment.

“I’ve a presentiment,” said Jiggins, “that I’m going to be very hungry
before bed time.”

“1 shouldn’t wonder if some of the rest of us were like you,” said
Muckle.

“And now,” said Jiggins, in a grave and solemn tone, “what ought we to
do?”

“We haven’t much time left,” said Muckle, suggestively.

“Something must be done,” said Jiggins, emphatically.

“And soon, too,” added Muckle.

“Deed, thin, an’ why don’t ye go aff an’ do somethin’?” said Pat,
energetically. “Come, now, whatever ye do, I’m yer man. Is it another
duck ye mane?”

Jiggins shook his head.

“It would hardly do--”

“Do--it jist wud, thin.”

Jiggins shook his head.

“The fact is, I have my doubts about it. I don’t think it’s altogether
right.”

“Thin what made ye ate it for?” said Pat. “There wor others that thought
it was all right--they did.”

“I felt badly while eating it. I felt it was--not--right.”

“Do ye mane it wasn’t done right?”

Jiggins shook his head.

“Well,” said Pat, “if ye didn’t like the duck, how did ye like the pig?
Ye’ll not be findin’ fault with that, I think.”

Jiggins shook his head.

“I have my doubts.”

“O, botheration take your doubts. Why didn’t ye doubt before ye sat
down?”

Jiggins shook his head.

“I tell you what,” said Muckle; “I’ve got an idea.”

“What?” cried all.

“Clams!” said Muckle.

“Clams?” said Jiggins.

“Look,” said Muckle, waving his hand over toward the flats; “do you see
that?”

“Yes.”

“Well, it’s full of clams.”

“Why, of course--of course,” said Jiggins. “Why, so it is. What do you
say, boys?”

“I say yis,” cried Pat. “Hurroo, boys! if we can’t have a duck, or a
roaster, again, we’ll have clams.”

“Hand along a basket then, Sammy,” said Jiggins.

As Sammy gave him one, he said,--

“Now, you two, are you coming?”

“Well--no--we don’t care about it,” said Sammy.

“Well, you wait here and kindle the fire, and get a pot ready. We’ll
cook them the moment we get back.”

“All right,” said the two boys.

Upon this Jiggins, and Muckle, and Pat started off after the clams.
Before leaving the shore, they got some sticks to use for scraping up
the sand, and then directed their steps toward the creek. The creek ran
through the middle of the cove, and on each side of it the wide flats
extended up to the shore. These, toward the lower part of the cove, were
formed of soft mud, but at the upper part they consisted of sand, in
which appeared a multitude of little holes, which are generally called
breathing-holes, about these parts, under the impression that they serve
this purpose for the clams. By digging where these little holes are
seen, the clams may be found buried in the sand and mud.

Toward the upper place they walked rapidly and eagerly, and looked
anxiously around for the “breathing-holes.”

“Here,” said Muckle. “There are lots here.”

Both went toward where he stood.

“See,” said he, pointing to the sand, which was dotted with little holes
all around the place where they were standing.

“That,” said Muckle, “is a sure sign.”

“So it is,” said Jiggins.

“Well, let’s go in.”

“An’ is there oysters here, too?” asked Pat.

“No; only clams.”

“It’s sorry I am for that same, thin. Oysters are a dale betther.”

“O, clams ain’t bad,” said Muckle, “when you can’t get oysters. So pitch
in, Jiggins.”

And Muckle, taking his stick, began to scoop up the sand.

Jiggins began to do the same; and for some time both worked diligently.

“Pooh!” said Jiggins, at last. “That stick’s no good.”

“No good? Why not?”

“It won’t hold the sand.”

“Mine does very well.”

“Well, I might as well have nothing. It’s like trying to eat rice with a
chopstick, Chinese fashion. I’m going to try another plan.”

“What’s that?”

“Why, like the hens. I’m going to scratch for my food,” said Jiggins.
“What were fingers made for?”

And saying this, he began scratching up the sand.

“Bedad! an’ if you’re the hen, I’ll be the chicken, an’ ate what you
scratch up.”

“Will you?” asked Jiggins.

“I will thin.”

“Whatever I scratch up?”

“Yes--if they’re clams.”

“But you’ll have to eat them raw.”

“Well, sure it’s raw I mane.”

“Why, man alive, it’ll make you sick.”

“I’ll risk it. Sick is it? Not a bit of it.”

“Did you ever eat any raw clams, Pat?”

“Av coorse. Why not? and raw oysters, too.”

“Well, you won’t blame me?”

“Is it blame? Not a bit of it. Niver fare.”

“O, well, I’ll scratch for you then.”

“Go ahead, thin.”

So Jiggins began, and scratched for some time.

“Here’s your first clam,” said he, throwing out one to Pat.

Pat opened it, and swallowed it with extraordinary celerity.

“Doesn’t that look as if I knowed how?” said he, biting off the black
tip of the clam, and throwing it down. “Scratch them along, my boy.”

“All right; here’s another.”

“An’ here’s to your very good health, an’ long life to ye,” said Pat,
as he swallowed it.

“Here’s another--and here--and here--and here, too--and here’s three.”

“Faith, thin, the more the merrier, and it’s meself that’s glad to see
thim same,” said Pat, as he seized and opened them, one by one, and sent
them flying after the others.

“How do you feel now?” asked Jiggins, after he had scratched for some
time.

“Sure I feel better than iver; an’ why not?”

“All right. Here are some more. Go it, Pat.”

“Go it it is,” said Pat, seizing the clams with undiminished avidity,
and devouring them.

“Here’s more, Pat. Don’t blame me if you see the ghost of your
grandmother in your dreams tonight. And here’s more. Don’t blame me if
you have the gripes, and have to stand on your head all night.”

“Niver you fare for me; but you go on wid yer scratching an’ let me ate
in pace.”

The clams now came forth fast and furious. Muckle had found a place
filled with them, and had heaped up his basket. Jiggins had a large pile
on the sand, in front of which Pat had taken his station, and was vainly
trying to keep up with Jiggins. But it was impossible, for Jiggins had
found large numbers closely packed together.

“What’s the matter over there?” said Muckle. “Have you filled your
basket, Jiggins?”

“Not yet. I’m busy filling Pat,” said Jiggins. “Hallo, Pat, you’re slow
about it.”

“Niver fare. Slow is it? Thin I’ll be up wid ye before long. On’y give
me time, as the schoolmaster said when they wor examinin’ him on the
alphabet.”

“All right. But while I’m waiting, I’ll put these in the basket,” said
Jiggins; and he began to fill his basket from the pile.

“How can I ate them when you’re putting them in the basket?” said Pat.

“I’ll dig up plenty more--enough to keep you going.”

But Jiggins was tired; and after digging up some more he found the sand
tinged red. To his amazement he saw that his nails were worn away, and
were now bleeding. His fingers’ ends began to smart with acute pain, and
he was compelled to desist.

“I think I’ll be off,” said he. “Pat, you may eat from the basket.”

“From the basket, is it? Not a bit of it,” said Pat; “I’ll only eat from
your scratching.”

“I’ve scratched the basket full for you, and that’s enough. In fact
it’s too much,” he added, as he felt fresh stings on his finger tips.
“Besides, I’ve my doubts about it.”

“Yer doubts, is it? and again? An’ what for this time?”

“Well, you see, I’m afraid it’s not altogether fair to you.”

“You’re a quare bird, wid yer doubts, an’ that’s all about it,” said
Pat.

They then went back to the bank, where a bright fire was burning, and
the pot was all ready, with sea-water boiling in it. Into this they
threw the clams; and sitting down around the fire, they waited.

Pat sat in silence. There was a peculiar expression on his face. He grew
moody and preoccupied. Frequent sighs escaped him.

“What’s the matter, Pat?” asked Jiggins.

“O, nothin’.”

Pat struggled against his secret grief most valiantly, but soon he could
struggle no longer. A deep groan burst from him, and he fell back
doubled up and writhing. His face was deadly pale, and big drops of
perspiration stood on his brow. In his pain he rolled over and over, and
moans and low cries escaped him.

“It’s the clams!” cried Jiggins. “O, I knew it. I had my doubts about it
all the time.”

“What can we do?” cried Johnny.

“We’ll have to get him up to Captain Pratt’s,” said Muckle:

But for a long time they could do nothing. He writhed and struggled so
that he could not be moved. At last Johnny Blue ran up for Mrs. Pratt.
The good lady came down with a basket full of infallible remedies, and
tended poor Pat for some time. At last he was easier, and they managed
to get him up to the house, and put him in bed.

Jiggins went back with the others, and finished the clams. All were
silent except Jiggins, who, every little while, would solemnly shake his
head, and slowly ejaculate--

“It was _not_ right. No, boys, it was _not_ right. I felt so, for I had
my doubts about it all the time.”

One thing surprised Mrs. Pratt when she was administering to Pat’s woes
on the bank; and that was, the very savory smell of that clam stew which
was simmering in a pot behind the bushes. She could not understand it,
but concluded that it must be some great delicacy among the vessel’s
stores lying on the bank, which had so very fragrant an odor. Afterward,
when her mind was less preoccupied,--when Pat had been well rubbed, and
poulticed, and blistered, and plied with herb tea, and all those other
medicaments which the “medicine women” of the rural districts love so
well; after all this had been attended to, then she began to think once
more about that fragrant odor. And gradually, as she thought about it,
there arose in her mind a conjecture as to what that odor might have
arisen from; and the conjecture gathered itself inseparably around the
idea of--“clams.”

To Mrs. Pratt that thought was a momentous one.

For what did that involve?

It meant that there was danger abroad,--danger which impended over the
young charges committed to her, and which she must counteract. It meant
that some of them had been eating clams in the month of May--an act
which, in her estimation, might produce consequences which could only be
called terrible.

In the face of this great possible danger, Mrs. Pratt gathered herself
up, and prepared to meet it boldly. Already all her doctoring instincts
had been roused into full play by the case of Pat, and having begun a
good work, it was not easy to stop abruptly. She had got her hand in, as
the saying is, and she wanted to finish her work. It did not take long
for her to come to the stern conclusion that the work must be fully
completed.

So she first of all brought forth her little store of medicaments of all
kinds, and ranged them on the kitchen table. They presented a formidable
show. There were,--

     1 bottle Mint tea.

     1 “   Essence of peppermint.
     1 “   Ginger extract.
     1 “   Cayenne pepper extract.
     1 “   Paregoric.
     1 “   Rum and onions.
     1 “   Sulphur and molasses.
     1 “   Sour cream.
     1 “   Eye wash.
     1 “   Pratt’s pain killer..
     1 “   Hemlock water.
     1 “   Tar water.
     1 “   Poppy juice.
     1 “   Essence of smoko.
     1 “   Brandy and salt.
     1 “   Castor oil.
     1 “   Camomile water.
     1 “   Mineral water.
     1 “   Pratt’s antidote.
     1 “   Hair wash.
     1 “   Ear wash.
     1 “   Toothache drops.
     1 “   Creosote.
     1 “   Rowland’s Macassar oil.
     1 “   Cocoaine.

     1 bottle Salt and treacle.
     1 “   Antibilions mixture.
     1 “   Arnica.
     1 “   Opodeldoc.
     1 “   Hartshorn.
     1 “   Aromatic vinegar.
     1 “   Sweet oil.
     1 “   Benzine.
     1 “   Grease eradicator.
     1 “   Lye.
     1 “   Tobacco water.
     1 “   Wild honey.
     1 “   Lime juice.
     1 “   Alcohol.
     1 “   Cod liver oil.
     1 “   Neats foot oil.

     In addition to these, she had,--

     1 parcel Wormwood.
     1 “   Camomile flowers,
     1 “   Cardamum seeds.
     1 “   Birch bark.
     1 “   Spruce gum.
     1 “   Bosin.
     1 “   Dandelion.
     1 “   Elm bark.
     1 “   Elder berries.
     1 “   Hops.
     1 “   Gum arabic.
     1 “   Catnip.

     1 parcel Spearmint.
     1 “   Peppermint.
     1 “   Beeswax.
     1 “   Boot ginger.
     1 “   Cloves.
     1 “   Alum.
     1 “   Magnesia.
     1 “   Balm of Giles
     1 “   Horseradish.
     1 “   Flagroot.
     1 “   Sarsaparilla.
     1 “   Sassafras.
     1 “   Soap.
     1 pot Pomatum.
     1 box Lard.
     1 bundle Lint.
     1 parcel Senna.
     1 pot Mucilage.
     1 parcel Salts.
     1 “   Cotton wool.
     1 “   Diachylon.
     1 pot Mustard.
     1 parcel Calomel.
     1 box Blue pills.
     1 “   Cantharides.
     1 “   Garlic.
     1 “   White lead.

And a great many other things, which had accumulated in her closet, and
which she now brought forth for the especial benefit of the four boys.
Having selected some from among these, she sat calmly awaiting their
return.

When the boys came back from the bank,--. where they had been enjoying
their clam stew,--. this was the sight that greeted their eyes on
entering the kitchen: a table filled with bottles and vials, another
table filled with parcels and bundles, and on the floor jugs, boxes,
kegs, firkins, and bags, in the midst of all of which sat Mrs. Pratt,
with her eyes gleaming, from behind her spectacles, upon them, and an
expression of benevolent yet unshakable resolution upon her face.

The boys entered one by one, and took their seats, looking suspiciously
around. There was something in the general appearance of things which
did not altogether satisfy them.

“Ehem--ehe-e-em!” said Jiggins, at last, to whom the suspense was
becoming intolerable.

A long silence followed.

“Ehem!” he remarked again; but Mrs. Pratt made no answer.

“Ehe-e-em!” he remarked a third time. “Is--ah--is Pat--ah--any better?”

“Considerable,” said Mrs. Pratt. “Yes, _con_siderable.”

“That’s right--that’s good. I feel very much relieved. I’ve blamed
myself very much for letting him do as he did.”

Mrs. Pratt gave a long sigh.

“What do you mean?” she asked. “You all had clams, as well as he. You
had a clam stew. Why should he suffer more’n you’ns?”

The boys started, and looked at one another. How in the world had Mrs.
Pratt found out about the clams? They felt uneasy at first, but soon
recollected that, after all, cooking clams was no harm. So they regained
their courage.

“Why, you see,” said Jiggins, at last, “it was different with Pat. We
had them cooked, but he ate them raw.”

“And you think that makes any difference,” said Mrs. Pratt, grimly.

“Why, certainly--of course,” said Jiggins, looking at Mrs. Pratt
anxiously; while all the other boys stared at her in dire anticipation
of some fearful disclosure.

“Not a mite,” said Mrs. Pratt. “There isn’t a mite of difference between
you,--_all_ of you, mind, and him,--on’y he was kind o’ took bad
at onst, an’ you’re a waitin’. Let me sec. How long is it since you
finished eatin’?”

“O, only a few minutes,” said Jiggins, nervously.

“Well, I supposed so. Ye-ry well,” repeated Mrs. Pratt, in the tone of
a cool physician, who feels gratified when a disease takes the form he
suspected, even when it is attended with pain and danger to the patient.
“Yes, that’s it; and now can you remember how long a time it was after
Pat had done eating the raw clams to the fust pain he felt?”

The boys looked in fearful anxiety at one another, and then all eyes
turned to Jiggins. He turned pale, and all the expression of his face
changed to one dismal blank.

“Can’t any of you remember?” repeated Mrs. Pratt. “How long was it?”

“Well--as near as I can remember,” said Jig-gins, in a faltering voice,
“it’s--about--I should think--somewhere near--perhaps--the neighborhood
of half an hour--that is, more or less.”

“About half an hour. I thought so,” said Mrs. Pratt, remorselessly.

“Somewhere about that,” said Jiggins.

“Till he felt his fust pains?”

“Yes.”

“Well,” said Mrs. Pratt, with a benevolent smile, “somewhere about half
an hour from this you’ll feel the same.”

She paused, and watched the effect of this fearful announcement.

The effect was powerful. Four pale faces looked, with awful eyes, at
her, and at one another. Not a word was spoken in reply.

“Yes, every one of you. You’ve all eaten, I s’pose.”

Jiggins nodded mournfully.

“And plenty, too.”

Another nod.

“Very well. You’ll have it hot and heavy, mind I tell you. Pat will be
beginning to feel quite comfortable just as you begin to get took.”

“But--but,” ‘said Jiggins, rousing himself despairingly, “I
thought--that is, I always heard--that clams were good stewed--and I
never heard that even raw clams were bad, except when you took too many
of them.”

“Shows how your parients neglected your edication,” said Mrs. Pratt,
loftily. “They didn’t understand the natur’ of the clam, certain. It
isn’t the cooking, or the not cooking, of the clam that makes it so
dangerous; it’s the clam itself--or rather, the clam at this season of
the year. That’s what makes it dangerous.”

“This season of the year? Why, what’s that got to do with it?”

“Haven’t you ever heard of that? Dear! dear! dear! An’ yet you go to the
Academy, and don’t know about clams. Dear! dear! dear!”

“They don’t teach about clams there,” said Jiggins, morosely.

“So you don’t know the danger there is in eating them now.”

“No.”

“Well, I’ll tell you--they’re _pison!_”

“Poison!” ejaculated the others, in horror at the thrilling whisper in
which Mrs. Pratt hurled this word at them.

“Yes, _pison!_ Hain’t you ever heerd the old lines,

                   ‘In the months without the “R,”

                   Clams a deadly pison are’?

That means May, June, July, and August. Another verse, says,

                   ‘In August, May, July, and June,

                   All shell fishes lead to ruin.’

That means, you see, that in the summer months these things are as bad
as pison.”

“What shall we do?” cried Jiggins, after a long, despairing silence, in
which these fearful words sank deep into the hearts of all. “What shall
we do?”

“Well,” said Mrs. Pratt, with a benevolent smile, “you’d ort ter be
thankful that you’ve got me. I am jest the person to treat your case.
I’ve got the medicine all ready. If you take it in time, you may avoid
trouble. As there’s only been a few minutes sence you ate the pison
clams, p’raps you may get off without much pain. I’ve jest got some herb
tea, some drinks of different kinds, some mustard poultices, and two or
three more mixtures for you. I won’t bleed any of you if I can help it.
Only jest give yourselves up to me, and trust to me. But there must be
no delay. I have the mixtures all ready.”

Saying this, Mrs. Pratt rose like an ogress, and advanced upon the
unhappy boys. Filled with fears of poison, looking upon her as their
only safety, they made no resistance, but swallowed, one by one, the
nauseous mixtures which were given. And still she stood over them,
talking about the danger before them, and forcing upon them more
medicaments.

Then came the mustard plasters.

But enough. Let us draw a curtain over the sufferings of the unhappy
four.



XVI.

_New Hopes and Plans.--A Sail!--A bitter Disappointment.--A hazardous
Adventure, and a Fright.--Quilts for Togas.--Another tremendous
Casualty._


THERE, on the top of the bank, sat the five boys of the “B. O. W. C.,”
 waiting patiently. “Only an hour more, boys,” repeated Bruce. “Well, if
they don’t come, we’ll survive it,” said Bart.

“I suppose we shall start off at once, if they don’t come.”

“Yes, as soon as the tide begins to fall.”

“I wonder if it will carry the schooner with it.”

“I think that it will.”

“Perhaps it will leave it aground.”

“All right. That will be so much the better for us. It would be a pity
to lose the schooner so soon.”

“O, she won’t be lost.”

“Yes, she will. What’ll prevent her? She’ll be carried ashore on some
rocks and broken to pieces, or she’ll drift out into the Bay of Fundy.”

“O, she has other chances in her favor. She may drift on some mud-flat
like this, or she may be picked up on the basin, or, if she does get out
into the Bay of Fundy, she may get picked up there.”

“That may be; but, after all, it’ll be hard on Corbet; and he’s rather
poor.”

“It’ll serve him right,” exclaimed Tom Crawford. “He must have known
that his anchor was broken.”

“Well, it certainly does serve him right, if he knew that; but he’s a
careless fellow, and I dare say he didn’t know anything about it.”

“I wonder where this coast goes?” asked Phil Kennedy.

“Well, it goes in two directions,” said Bart. “Which way do you mean?”

“The right.”

“O, that goes to Parrsboro’ Village; the left leads up to Pratt’s Cove.”

“How do you know?”

“I can’t tell just where Pratt’s Cove is, but I know the direction in
which it must lie from here,” said Bart. “You can tell that by seeing
the way the Five Islands lie toward us. If they come for us, they’ll
have to come from behind that headland.”

“I wonder if they’ll come by land or water.”

“I don’t see how they can come by land.”

“There’s a road, I suppose.”

“O, ever so far back. How could any one find anything about us on the
road? No; they’ll come by water, so as to find us either afloat or
ashore.”

“There isn’t any boat at all in Pratt’s Cove.”

“O, there must be other coves near, where they can get other boats.”

“It will be hard for us, if they don’t happen to have a boat.”

“O, they’ll get one.”

“And meanwhile we must act for ourselves; for I don’t believe they’ll
get one to-day, at any rate.”

“Yes, we may as well prepare for an expedition along the coast.”

“Shall we separate, or go together?”

“O, together, by all means. But, hallo! what’s that?”

At this exclamation from Bart, all looked where his eyes were turned.

“A schooner!” they cried; “a schooner! There they come! Hurrah, boys!
we’re all right.” Instantly every one sprang to his feet. “Come, boys,
take off your shirts,” said Bruce, as he pulled off his own. “Let’s get
ready a supply of red bunting to make signals to them.” Instantly all
of them tore off their shirts, and waved them wildly from the top of the
bank.

Yes, it was a schooner. It had come thus suddenly upon them as they were
talking; and even though they had been on the constant lookout, yet its
appearance had startled them all. It was twice as large as the
Antelope, of a bright green color; its masts were yellow, and its sails
beautifully neat. Spreading its snow-white wings to the breeze, it
came bounding over the waves from behind the headland, and directed its
course in toward the shore.

“She’s not heading for us at all,” said Bruce. “If she keeps on in that
direction, she’ll be a mile down beyond us before we know it.”

“She don’t see us,” said Bart.

“Wave your signals, then! Ah, what a pity we hadn’t a good signal-post!”

“I’ll climb a tree,” said Phil, looking around.

“There isn’t any tree fit for the purpose. The highest ones are hidden
by the smaller ones in front. This is as conspicuous a place as we can
find.”

Meanwhile the schooner kept on at an angle with them, and pursued her
way without taking any notice’ of them, heading toward a point far down
to the right of the place where they were standing.

With a face of stern determination, and the air of a captain of a
battery, Bart drew his pistol.

“I’ll fire,” said he, solemnly.

The next instant, bang! or, rather, pop! went the pistol.

But the schooner took not the smallest notice even of that overpowering
demonstration. On the contrary, it kept straight on without altering its
course.

“They’re blind, and deaf, too; and that’s all about it,” cried Phil
Kennedy, in deep disgust.

“I wonder what’s the matter with them,” said Bruce. “They don’t keep a
very good lookout, or they’d surely see us. There’s red flannel enough
here to be seen five miles off.”

“I wonder who is steering.”

“I wonder who those two chaps are in the bow. Can it be Bogud and the
mate?”

“I wonder who that old boy in a pea-jacket can be? It surely can’t be
Mr. Simmons?”

“It’s Captain Corbet.”

“Nonsense! Captain Corbet is steering.”

“No, that’s the mate.”

“It isn’t, either. Don’t you see the mate on the bow?”

“That the mate! That’s Mr. Long.”

“Bah! Mr. Long don’t generally go in his shirtsleeves.”

“Why shouldn’t he? I s’pose he is helping the others. He’d just as soon
take off his coat as not, if he had anything to do.”

“It isn’t Mr. Long, any way.”

But these wonders and conjectures were now interrupted by a movement on
the part of the schooner. She had already gone beyond the spot where the
boys were standing, and had come to within half a mile of the beach.
She now wore round. Flap went the sails! there was a quick movement
on board, and then away she went on another tack, with her head turned
toward the opposite shore.

“She’s leaving us!” cried Bruce, aghast.

For a few moments all stood in silent dismay. This was a thing which
they were not prepared for. If no schooner had come at all, they could
easily have borne up; but now, since one had come, they had not for
a moment doubted their speedy deliverance. There was not hope, but
certainty, in her appearance. But now this was dashed to the ground, and
the reaction was extreme.

Bart was the first to break the silence.

“1 tell you what, boys,” he cried, “I don’t believe it was them at all.”

“O, yes, it was,” said Arthur. “I recognized Captain Corbet.”

“No; you may depend upon it, you were utterly mistaken. Why, do you
suppose, if they were after us, they would have come and gone so coolly?
There wasn’t the slightest sign of any anxiety, or curiosity about them.
If it had been our friends, they’d have seen our signals soon enough.”

“Yes, and the Antelope down there nearly ashore.”

“Well, I don’t know. But I certainly thought I recognized Captain
Corbet.”

“I thought I saw Bogud.”

“Not a bit of it. They were strangers, and that accounts for
everything.”

“And now,” said Tom, “all that we’ve got to do is to wait for a few
minutes more, and then start.”

“I say, boys,” said Bart, after a fit of musing, “what a pity it is that
we can’t fasten the vessel somehow, and keep her here! There’s an old
tree at the bottom of the bank big enough to moor a ship at. If we could
only get a line around it from the schooner, we could keep the vessel
here till they did come.”

“Yes, that would be the best plan,” said Bruce; “for I’ve-been thinking
that we may find some people here who would sail the schooner back to
the cove. It would be a great pity to let her drift.”

“It’s a pity that we can’t get at her,” said Arthur.

“And why can’t we?” asked Bart.

Why! The question at once made every one stare and think. Each one could
answer in his own mind why such a thing could not be done, but no one
stated such a reason. All were silent.

“It’s not very far,” said Bart.

“No.”

“Not so far as it was to wade when we landed.”

“That’s a fact.”

“And I move that we try, it.”

“Ah, that’s all very well!” said Phil. “But who _will_ try it?”

“Well, then, _I_ will,” said Bart.

“O, then, if it comes to that, I’ll go too,” said Bruce.

“So will I,” said Arthur.

“And I,” said Phil.

“And I’ll be with you, boys,” said Tom.

“Of course you will,” said Bart.-“But what’s the use of all of us going.
Two of us will be enough. Bruce and I can take our poles and do it. It’s
not much any way.”

“And I’ll go with my handspike,” said Arthur. “In fact, I don’t think we
need even boat-hooks,” said Bruce. “The bottom is hard sand just there,
all the way out to the vessel. It’s as safe as a floor.”

“Yes, except for one thing,” said Arthur, holding up the jaw of the
fish.

“Hm!” said Bruce. “For my part, I don’t believe there’s any danger just
here. It’s too near the bank, I never heard of them coming in so near
high-water mark; but, at the same time, I dare say it will be better to
take the boat-hooks.”

“O, yes. We’ll feel safer,” said Bart, “and that’s something. One
advantage will be, that we won’t be bothered with our bundles.”

“How do you propose to do?” asked Bruce.

“Well, to board her and get a line.”

“Will any of the lines be strong enough?”

“Well, my idea is, to let down the chain, fasten the rope to the anchor
stump, and all of us can then drag it ashore. We can then wait till
the tide brings the vessel near enough for us to pass the line, or the
chain, around the tree.”

“That ought to hold it,” said Arthur.

“Of course it will.”

“Very well then. Let’s start. And first of all, let’s strip.”

“I’ll take the pistol, Bart,” said Phil, as Bart laid it down before
taking off his belt; “and if anything happens, I’ll fire.”

“All right, my son,” said Bart.

They all went down then to the beach below, where they stripped, and the
adventurous five went into the water, although only three were going on
board; for Tom and Phil, felt bound in honor to share the possible peril
of the others.

The water had risen a little up the steep declivity of the pebbled
beach, and the vessel was some distance nearer than she had been when
they first climbed the bank. It was a favorable time for starting, but
not so much so as it would be in the course of half an hour. But they
were too impatient to delay, and so they started. As it was, they had
not more than fifty yards to go.

The bottom was not muddy just here, but composed of hard’ sand, like
the sand-spit on which they had landed. The water was quite smooth, only
disturbed by a gentle ripple, which, farther out, rose into small waves.
The descent, like that farther out, was but very gradual, and it was
only by almost imperceptible degrees that the water deepened.

Bruce and Bart went first, with their poles held in their hands in such
a way that they were able to splash the water before them, so that if
there should chance to be any more “shovel-mouth sharks” near by, they
might take notice and govern themselves accordingly. For they firmly
believed that all fish are frightened by any splashing, and deterred,
just as wild animals are frightened and deterred, by the flashing of
flames.

Tom and Phil followed more slowly, the former armed with a boat-hook,
and the latter with the pistol. The distance was quickly traversed. The
water grew deeper and deeper, until it was up to Bruce’s armpits and
Bart’s shoulders. By that time they touched the schooner’s bows.

At that instant a splash was heard close by them, and the movement of
some body was felt amid the waters.

“Up! Quick!” cried Bruce.

“You go first,” said Bart.

“I won’t,” cried Bruce.

“Nor will I,” said Bart.

Bruce said no more. He stooped down, and clasping Bart in his brawny
arms, he jerked him up out of the water. Bart clambered on board, and
held out his hand to Bruce. Another instant and the latter stood by his
side. Arthur followed at the same time.

“Did you see that?” asked Arthur.

“Yes. Did you?”

“Yes. What was it?”

“Another shovel-month shark--wasn’t it?”

“I don’t think so. It wasn’t the same color. It was white.”

“Perhaps it turned over to bite.”

Arthur shook his head.

“‘No. It came between us. It was not so large as that other fellow. It
dashed off at once.”

“Perhaps it was only a codfish,” said Bart.

“Well, it was a large one, then. It might have been a porpoise. I wonder
if porpoises come so near the shore.”

“Sometimes, but not often.”

“I shouldn’t wonder if it was a sturgeon,” said Arthur. “After all, it
may only have been a codfish. At the same time I’d much rather be here
than down there.”

“Boys!” shouted Bruce to Tom and Phil. “Boys, you may as well go ashore.
and dress. We’ll stay here a little while. It’ll take some time to get
things ready.”

At this Tom and Phil went back and dressed.

The fish which they had last seen had produced a very solemnizing effect
on their minds. There came over them a horror of that treacherous water.
They felt an aversion toward venturing in again, and were sorry that
they had come. But there was no help for it. There they were now, though
each one felt that he could not venture back again into the water
very readily. It might have been a sturgeon, or a porpoise, or even a
codfish; but the horror of its presence was still there, whatever it
was. It was some time before they could rally from the panic which had
filled them as they tumbled on board. And though each said but little
about it, and alluded to it very lightly, yet each one understood pretty
truly the feelings of the others.

“Come, boys, hurry up!”

This was the cry that Phil and Tom sent them from the beach. They had
dressed, and were watching them with impatience.

“We’re going to wait till she gets nearer,” cried Bruce. “At high tide
she will be close to the beach, and we won’t have to drag the chain so
far.”

“You’d better come now,” said Phil.

“No,” said Bart; “the chain won’t reach so far.”

“All right,” said Tom. “We’ll go up the bank again till you’re ready.”

Saying this, the two boys clambered up the bank, when they rambled a
little into the woods. Arthur and Bart then found a line, one end of
which they fastened, to the anchor. It was their intention to take
the line ashore, and let go the whole chain, which they hoped could
be pulled to the beach as far as the tree. Before that could be done,
however, it would be necessary for the schooner to be much nearer. The
water was already rising, and there yet remained many feet to be covered
before the tide would reach what they considered as high-water mark.

“I don’t believe it will be high tide for an hour yet. It will be an
hour later than we calculated,” said Bruce. “Hang it, it’s too cold
here. I wish we had our clothes.”

“Well, I’m not going to freeze any longer,” said Bart, jumping down
into the hold. He was absent for a few minutes, and soon returned with
a quilt gracefully wrapped around him like a Roman toga. With a laugh,
Arthur and Bruce jumped down, and imitated his example. Then coming
on deck again, they joined Bart, and the boys professed to be very
comfortable, considering all things.

They now took their seats at the stem, and looked out to sea, watching
for any signs of relief. This occupied them for a longer time than they
thought.

“I wonder what’s become of Tom and Phil,” said Arthur, suddenly jumping
up and looking toward the shore.

The others did the same.

Scarcely had they done so, when a cry of dismay burst from them.

The shore was at least five hundred yards away. Phil and Tom were
scrambling down the bank, gesticulating wildly.

“What’s all this?” cried Arthur.

For a moment no one answered; but at last Bart said, in a voice
tremulous with agitation,--

“We’ve mistaken the high-water mark altogether, boys. It must have been
high tide when we came on board. We’ve been drifting off ever since.”

“Couldn’t we wade ashore?” said Arthur.

Bruce seized a boat-hook, and plunged it over the vessel’s side into the
water.

“Couldn’t do it,” he said, slowly. “There are eight or nine feet of
water.”

“Can’t we swim?”

“Will you try it?”

Each one looked at the other, but there was no assent to this. It was
not the mere distance, but the other perils of the deep that deterred
them, and more than all, the remembrance of their last panic.



XVII.

_On the briny Deep, and on the muddy Shore.--The Fisherman’s
Boat.--Reappearance of old Friends.--Remonstrances, Explanations, and
Confessions._


MEANWHILE,--even while they were speaking,--every moment drew them
farther away from the shore. They saw Tom and Phil standing on the
beach, which they had reached by this time, and waving their hands
with frantic gesticulations. They heard them, shout, “Come back! You’re
adrift!” and other words not intelligible. They shouted back again to
encourage them, though they, themselves had but little hope.

“We haven’t any anchor, boys,” said Bart; “but let’s put down what we
have. It may hold, or, at least, prevent our drifting so fast.”

“Well, there’s nothing else to be done,” said Bruce; “so I suppose we
may as well try it. Come along, boys. We must do what we can.”

Saying this, he led the way to the windlass, and the remnant of the
anchor was let go.

They waited a little while to see what effect this would have, but in a
few moments saw that very-little was produced.

“No go,” said Bruce. “Suppose we give her the whole chain.”

“Yes,” said Bart. “It may hold her if it is all out.”

“At any rate,” said Arthur, “it will prevent her drifting somewhat.”

“Down she goes, then,” said Bruce, as the chain ran out. Soon it was out
at its fullest extent, and they again watched to see what effect would
be produced. By this time they had gone very much farther from the
shore, and Tom and Phil were just discernible.

“It checks her a little,” said Bart, “yet very little. As to holding
her, that is out of the question.”

“And yet there can’t be much of a current here.”

“I don’t know as to that. It is difficult to tell anything about it.
There are currents in all sorts of places around the bay.”

“Perhaps, if we let it drag for a while,” said Bruce, “it may catch
somewhere and hold. I’ve heard, of such things.”

“There’s very little chance, I’m afraid,” said Bart, in a despondent
tone. “If we only had half a fluke I wouldn’t care; but as it is, we
have no fluke at all, and that’s why we can’t do anything.”

Waiting thus, and wondering what they could do next, the three boys
looked sadly toward the receding shore. The quilts which they had thrown
around them had been fastened at the waist with rope-yarns, and
these, in the exercise of letting go the anchor, had fallen from their
shoulders, leaving them exposed from their waists upward. They looked
ruefully at one another as they thought of this, burst out laughing, and
then drew the quilts, toga fashion, over their shoulders again.

“It was bad enough this morning,” said Arthur, at last, “but it was a
joke to this. What can we do for something to eat?”

“There’s not a morsel on board.”

“The last mouthful of bread we ate before we waded ashore.”

“If we only had a fish-hook we might hope to catch something.”

“Fish-hook! Why, man, we haven’t any kind of bait.”

“Well, all we’ve got to do is to hope for some one to pick us up.”

“Is that all? No,” said Bart. “I, for one, am not going to sit down
and float away, goodness knows where. I move that we up sail and go
somewhere.”

“Up sail!”

“Of course. Why not?”

“But can we--can you--?”

“O, we can scrape along. I’d rather have a small accident than drift
off in this style, doing nothing. You all understand my knowledge of
sailing, for you’ve had a fair specimen of it, and if you’re willing
to risk my steering again, I’m ready to take hold; if not, then you
or Bruce take hold, and I’ll keep at the sails. It don’t make any
difference, though, which of us is captain, for I suppose one knows just
as much as another. But, at any rate, I’m bound to have the sails up.”

“So am I,” cried Bruce, “whatever happens.”

“And I too!” cried Arthur.

“Bart, you be captain, old fellow. We won’t take your office from you.
You’ve had more experience than we have had, at any rate, for you’ve
steered her already. But we must get up the piece of an anchor first.”

“Of course we must, and the sooner the better.”

Upon this they all went to work at the windlass. It was hard work, but
after some time it was successfully accomplished. By this time they had
drifted out several miles, and the beach still lay before them, but it
was faint in the distance. The headland was then somewhat toward the
right, and this served as an excellent guide. The vessel’s head was
still turned toward the shore, in the way in which she had drifted out.

“My idea,” said Bart, “is, that we sail straight back again.”

“It’s a pity we hadn’t the other fellows on board,” said Bruce, “for we
might try some place where there might be houses.”

“Well, in that case, I’d give you the helm,” said Bart. “As long as I’m
here, I will only go where I know my ground. I don’t care to try the
Five Islands again, nor would I like to turn the schooner. It’s lucky
for us that she’s heading in shore. So come, boys, let’s hurry up with
the sails, or else she may turn off in some other direction; and then
how we can get her round again, will be more than I can say.”

Hoisting the sails was arduous work, but they succeeded. The wind had
moderated, and the vessel glided slowly back toward the beach. Bart was
so anxious to rejoin Tom and Phil, that he did not venture to try any
experiments in sailing, but simply kept the schooner’s head toward the
place where he supposed they might be standing. The wind was favorable,
the vessel drew nearer and nearer, and at last the beach again became
distinctly visible.

A shout of joy escaped them as they recognized Phil and Tom again.

“I wonder how they felt when they saw us drifting,” said Bruce.

“They must have given us up for lost.”

“1 wonder whether they expected that we would raise the sails.”

“I don’t believe they thought of that.”

“That’s not surprising, after all; especially as we didn’t think of it
ourselves till the last moment.”

“That’s odd, too. It seems now as though it ought to have been the very
first thing to think of.”

“Well, the fact is, we had such a tough time this morning off that
headland,” said Bart, pointing to the dark rocks which were full before
them on their right, “that it’s no wonder if we gave up all ideas of
ever hoisting sail again. However, it’s all right. And now what ought we
to do?”

“There’s only one thing that we can do.”

“What’s that?”

“What? Why, what else can we do but run ashore, just as we did
before.”

“I suppose we can’t do anything else; but it’s a pity, too. Still we
must take Tom and Phil. Though, if they were on board, we could at least
find a better part of the coast. This is so remote, and I haven’t seen
any houses near the place at all.”

Bad as it was, there was no help for it; and so Bart had to keep the
schooner straight on. On account of the currents, however, and the
loss of way, the Antelope could not come within a mile of her former
landing-place. Phil and Tom saw this, and ran down the beach, carrying
the bundles; and just as they came opposite to their companions, the
Antelope grounded about a hundred feet from the beach. Without waiting
another instant, Phil and Tom threw off their clothes, and waded out.
They got on board without any adventures, and celebrated the restoration
of their companions by dancing like wild creatures about the deck. Long
explanations followed from both sides, after which they discussed their
future prospects.

“Hallo!” said Arthur, as the schooner sank a little on one side. “She’s
aground. No farther drifting till next tide. And now what can we do, or
where can we fasten her?”

“We’ll have to try and use the chain and line, as we did before.”.

“I wonder if we are not too far out.”

“No; I think not,” said Phil.

“There’s a good stump up there to fasten a line to,” said Tom.

“I dare say we can get a line up. If not, we can bury the anchor in the
mud, and put stones over it.”

“And what can we do about exploring the country?”

“Some of us must stay by the schooner to attend to the fastenings.”

“Two can stay, and three go.”

“No, three had better stay, and two go. It’s too hard work.”

“Pooh! two will be enough. But who will they be?”

“Well, we must toss up for it. That’s the only plan. We must do it at
once. There’s no time to lose.”

“Suppose, before we do anything more,” said Bart, “that we all slip
ashore and put our clothes on. For my part, I’m chilly; and though I
could easily get some more quilts, yet it seems unnecessary to do so
when I have my own clothes so near. Besides, here are Phil and Tom,
whose teeth are already chattering.”

A loud laugh followed; after which they all sprang, one after the other,
into the water, and hurried to the shore. There they dressed themselves;
and as the vessel was fairly aground, with the tide rapidly going out
past her, they threw themselves on the beach, and prepared to decide on
the ones that would stay behind.

“There!” cried Phil, suddenly springing to his feet. “I knew it was!”

“What? what?” exclaimed all the others.

“A sail!--out there by the headland!”

“So it is,” said Bart. “Phil, you’ve got a good pair of eyes in your
head.”

“It’s a sail-boat,” said Bruce.

“And heading this way,” said Bart.

“Hurrah!” cried Tom. “They’ve come for us at last.”

“Come, now, boys,” said Arthur, “don’t let us get excited again. I tell
you that boat is some fisherman, and it is passing by here. Those on
board won’t see us, and there’s no use doing anything. Let’s sit down
and finish the toss-up, and send Phil to the top of the bank to watch,
and make what signals he can.”

“Not a bit of it!” cried Bart; and springing forward, he dashed into the
water toward the schooner with his clothes on. The water had fallen so
far, however, that he did not get wet much above his knees. Clambering
on board, he lowered the flag of the “B. O. W. C.,”--which had waved
there through all their vicissitudes,--and tearing off his red flannel
shirt, he fastened it close beneath the flag. Then he pulled it up
and then kept lowering and hoisting, with the utmost rapidity, the
extraordinary signal. Nor was this all. He had not yet lost confidence
in his pistol, in spite of its signal failure in the case of the
schooner some time before, but drew it forth now with a certain solemn
decision. By this time all the others had come on board, and were waving
all sorts of quilts and blankets from the stern. In the midst of all
this agitation Bart fired his pistol. The smart pop! rang out bravely
enough; but as the sail-boat was at least three miles away, it cannot be
said to have produced any very extraordinary result. Bart, however,
was satisfied. He had already given charge of the “ensign” to Tom, and,
standing on the starboard quarter, he fired again. After this he rested
for a while, and waited for the boat to come nearer.

Nearer she was certainly coming, in spite of the scepticism of Arthur.
To guard against the pain of disappointment, Arthur was trying, with all
his might, not to hope, and to prevent any of the others from hoping.
Yet he could not help being as sanguine as the others, in spite of his
efforts.

“Boys,” he cried, “be careful now. Remember this boat don’t see us, and
don’t intend to. She’s a fishing-boat, out after sturgeon. She’s sailing
straight across, past us, to--Hurrah! here she comes straight down to
us.”

“Ha, ha, ha! Hurrah! She sees us! Up and down with the flag, Tom! Fire
away, Bart! Bring up that fog-horn, somebody, and blow till you burst.
I’ll content myself with a sociable yell.”

Whereupon a yell, so loud, so harsh, so penetrating, burst forth from
Bruce, that it seemed to penetrate even to the boat. White signals
certainly were waving from those on board, and a tall figure in black
stood upright in the bows waving a hat.

“Ha, ha!” cried Bart, as he fired his pistol again, and danced joyously
about. “And you call that a fishing-boat, do you, Arthur? So you
think the fishermen here go out to throw their nets, dressed in black
broadcloth and silk hats, do you? Well, I call that good. A fisherman!
Who would think of Mr. Long being taken for a fisherman!”

All was now the wildest joy. There was no more doubt, and no longer any
mistakes. The boat saw them, and had returned answer to their signals.
It was bearing swiftly down toward them. It was filled with people. Who
were they all?

The question was soon answered. Nearer came the boat, and nearer, and
still-nearer. At last it came close up, and grounded under the vessel’s
quarter. Mr. Long was first on board, wringing all the boys’ hands, and
pretending to scold them. After him came Mr. Simmons, then Bogud, then
Billymack, then the two captains. Hearty was the greeting, and deep and
fervent the joy, at finding that all had turned out so well. The “B. O.
W. C.” had to tell all about their adventures. They concealed nothing
whatever. Bart related, with the utmost frankness, the story of his
navigation experiments, interrupted by the laughter of the other boys,
and the criticisms of Captain Corbet, who would insist on explaining
what ought to have been done. Then followed the story of the
“shovel-mouth shark,” which produced an immense sensation. Captain
Corbet shook his head solemnly at the sight of the jaws, which Phil had
run ashore to get. But their last adventure, when they were drifted away
from their clothes, was considered about the most singular of all.

“But how did you manage to find us?” asked Bart, as he ended his story.

Mr. Long related all about his first discovery of their accident up to
the time that he had left with his party for the “pint.”

“When we got there,” continued he, “we saw a schooner sailing, and made
it out with the glass to be the Antelope. We watched you as you sailed
toward the Five Islands. You must have been on your second tack then.
We could not imagine where you were going. Captain Corbet thought you
didn’t know your way. I thought you were letting the vessel go wherever
the wind might take you. As it happens, I was not very far wrong.

“At last we saw you turn, and the performance of the schooner showed
us all very plainly that you couldn’t sail her. It filled us with
the deepest anxiety. We could have got a boat, but your course was so
strange, that we delayed until we could see where you might finally
bring up. We didn’t expect any accident exactly, but hoped that you
would come nearer. At last you sailed so close to that headland that we
thought you were lost. Immediately afterward you passed behind it from
sight. We waited some time to see if you would reappear, but you did
not. So we at once put off in the boat which belonged to a fisherman who
lived near, and came here as fast as possible. The last time that you
drifted off we saw you; but perhaps you were too excited to see us--or
perhaps we were too far off to be seen very easily.

“And now,” concluded Mr. Long, “I’ve found you again, and it’s my fixed
determination not to let any of you go out of my sight. You’re all a set
of Jonahs. The only comfort is, that you come out all right at last.”

“I’m sure, Mr. Long,” remonstrated Bart, “you oughtn’t to blame us. It
wasn’t our fault. I’d much rather not drift away if I could help it. I
don’t enjoy going about in the fog, or among these tides. I’m sure Bruce
don’t. Neither does Arthur, nor Tom, nor Phil.”

“Blame you? Of course I don’t blame you,” said Mr. Long. “How can I? It
wasn’t your fault, of course. I only mean that your fortunes have been
very peculiar. I don’t know but, if I believed in omens, I’d say that
your black flag up there has brought us all this run of bad luck. But
come, we’ve been thoughtful about you. We knew you’d be starving, and so
we brought along with us something for you to eat.”

“Starving! Mr. Long, we’re in that condition that we could eat
horseshoes.”

With a good-natured laugh, Mr. Long turned away, and jumping into the
boat, handed up the eatables that he had brought for them..



XVIII.

_Wanderings about the Beach.--Science and Sport.--Back Home.--Frightful
Tale of Poison.--A Visit to the Afflicted._


THE eatables which Mr. Long had brought with him were not such as would
have been welcome to a fastidious taste or a dainty appetite; but to
these long-fasting, hard-working, and half-starving, and altogether
ravenous boys, anything that was eatable was precious. The brown
ship-bread and salt pork, which Mr. Long handed up to them, were seized
as eagerly as if they had been roast beef and plum pudding, and soon
disposed of. A knife drawn from Phil’s belt served very quickly to
cut the pork into slices, after which the pork and the brown biscuit
vanished.

“What a pity,” said Mr. Long, as he looked around, “that we didn’t
get here an hour earlier! The water’s going out fast; the schooner is
aground, and we’ll have to wait till the next tide before we can start
for the cove.”

“It’s a pity that we can’t do something while waiting, so as not to
throw our time away,” said Mr. Simmons.

“There don’t seem to be much prospect of doing anything just here, but
we can try.”

“Nor do I see that there are any people living about here.”

“No: Captain Corbet told me there were no inhabitants within eight
miles.”

“These banks are not very inviting to a mineralogist--are they?” said
Mr. Simmons, with a sigh, as he looked along the beach.

“No; we’ll have to lay out our strength on the mud flats. Perhaps we may
find some interesting footprints at low tide.”

“Well, we may as well go ashore now, I suppose. It’s rather monotonous
standing here on an inclined plane, with the vessel aground on her side.
I think I’ll climb the bank, and take a general view of the country.”

“Very well; I’ll go with you,” said Mr. Long. “And now, boys,” he
continued, “remember this: don’t go out of sight. This beach is long,
and it will soon be wide, for the tide will leave it all uncovered.
This will give space enough for even such extensive and wide-spreading
desires as yours. Now, don’t go off the beach or the flats. Don’t go up
in the woods, and get lost; don’t go into the water, and get drowned;
don’t blow yourselves up with that pistol; don’t get into any more
fights with ‘shovel-mouth sharks,’ or, if you do, be sure to call me;
don’t get into air-holes if you can help it. As to going adrift again, I
don’t see how you can manage that, as there is nothing afloat just yet;
but, dear hoys, if you can possibly help it, don’t do it. Try and see if
you can’t manage’ to keep your clothes on. It’s much better, as a
general thing, to do so.”

All this the hoys greeted with loud laughter; after which they sprang
over the vessel’s side, and scattered themselves along the beach.

Captain Corbet stood looking after them, with a beaming smile
irradiating his venerable countenance.

“Yes,” he ejaculated, standing near Mr. Long. “Yes, sir; I allus knowed
it, an’ I allus said it, that them there boys would turn up all right.
Lor’ bless your heart, you can’t wreck ’em, an’ you can’t drown ’em.
The fish doesn’t swim that can tetch ’em. They’re allus bound to turn
up all straight. That’s the confidin’ belief that reigned in my boosom,
an’ sustained me when we watched, ’em in the Antelope, up there at the
pint. As to that there anchor, ef it had been a bran new one, it would
have been broken off jest the same, for that there schooner was bound to
lie on it an’ crack it, an’ them there boys was bound to have that there
adventoor.”

Mr. Long now landed with Mr. Simmons, and went up to the top of the
bank, where they sat down for some time, gazing upon the wide-spread
scenery of the Basin of Minas. After this they descended and walked
about the beach. At first, they hoped to obtain some shells; but nothing
of the kind could be found. In fact, there were scarcely any pebbles;
indeed, none but the most common kind. For all the waters of the Bay of
Fundy and its adjacent harbors are singularly bare of the more delicate
shell-fish. Lobsters abound, and so do clams; so also do many kinds of
seaweed; but as for the more exquisite forms of sea life, such as we
love to put in the aquarium, they must be sought for elsewhere. Here
are swift currents, fierce rapids, strong tides, vast mud flats or sand
flats, rivers that empty and fill themselves with every ebb and flood;
and it is not amid such scenes that we may look for those graceful, yet
fragile creatures,-whose abode is amid stiller scenes.

As the tide went down, Messrs. Simmons and Long walked over the flats,
hoping to find something which would reward their trouble. From the
surface of the sea bottom thus uncovered, many interesting things might
be obtained. On these mud flats are found many marks, which are the
counterparts of others that have been turned into stone, and buried in
the adjacent earth. Here may be seen the patter of rain-drops, and the
footprints of birds or beasts made on the very day of their discovery,
while among the strata of the neighboring shore there may lie traces of
a similar kind made many ages ago, which thus have been graven on the
rock, and treasured up for our eyes.

The boys dispersed themselves everywhere, extending their wanderings as
the tide left more and more of the shore exposed. Far down they could
see the weirs, placed there by the fishermen, and they waited long for
these to become uncovered, so that they might visit them, and inspect
their contents. But it grew later and later, and finally it became too
dark to do anything. Then the voice of Mr. Long was heard summoning them
to the shore.

Thus the remainder of the day passed without anything to reward them
except the general excitement which had been produced among them. It
would be many hours yet before they could get afloat, and they amused
themselves by making fires at the foot of the bank. A modest and frugal
repast of brown biscuit and pork, washed down with cold water, concluded
the day. For some time longer they sat round the fire, until, at last,
excessive weariness overcame them. Then they went on board the schooner,
and retired to bed.

Some time after midnight the Antelope was afloat again. None of her
passengers waked. She moved away from the shore without accident.
Morning came, and she had not yet reached her destination. The wind had
been unfavorable, and she had lost that tide. As she could not anchor,
Captain Corbet had run her ashore. They had to wait patiently, and get
off at midday, with the rising tide; after which they resumed their
voyage, and in three hours more they were in Captain Pratt’s house.

Of the five boys who had been left behind, one was not visible, and the
other four met them with pale, woe-begone faces. They showed no joy at
seeing the return of the wanderers; no curiosity to learn what they had
been doing; and even the sight of the jaw of the “shovel-mouth shark”
 produced upon them no effect whatever.

It was seen that something had happened, and the unhappy four were
closely cross-questioned. At first they refused to answer. At last, on
being pressed, they confessed that they had all been poisoned.

“Poisoned!” cried Bart, in horror. “How was that?”

“_Clams!!!_” said Jiggins.

“Yes, clams!” said all the others.

“Clams?” cried Bart. “What rubbish! How could clams poison you! Pooh!”

“Ah, you don’t know,” said Jiggins. “You ask Mrs. Pratt. Haven’t you
heard the old saying,” he continued, with an air of peculiar solemnity;
“the old saying, that they have about these shores:”

                   “’ In the months without the “R,”

                   Clams and oysters poison are?’”

“Never heard it,” said Bart; “and I don’t believe it. I’ve eaten lots of
oysters in May myself.”

Jiggins shook his head.

“Never do it again,” said he.

“Do you mean to say that it was clams that upset you so?”

“Clams, and clams alone,” said Jiggins. “We owe our lives to Mrs. Pratt.
She’s been a mother to us.”

“Why! What do you mean?”

“You see we had a stew. Pat ate them raw, and fell down in horrible
agonies. The torments which he suffered were so excruciating that he had
to be carried to the house, and went nearly mad with pain. Mrs. Pratt
attended him, and as soon as he was easier she took us in hand. We had
eaten after Pat, and our pains had not yet begun. Mrs. Pratt got out all
her medicines, and tried them on us one after the other.”

“What! not all! not _all_ her medicines!”

“Yes, _all!_” said Jiggins, in a dismal voice. “I can’t tell you all
that we took; but first there was opodeldoc, then ginger, then Crabb’s
cordial, then magnesia, then paregoric, then blue pills, then a mustard
plaster, after which there was rum and onions, brimstone and molasses--”

“Stop, stop!” cried Bart. “What’s all that? You don’t mean to say that
you took all that?”

“Yes, _all!_” ejaculated. Jiggins, his face growing at once longer and
paler at the recollection of hiss sorrows.

“And you’re alive yet--all of you? Then you need never be afraid of
poisons. Yes my poor Jiggins, you have been poisoned; that’s a fact,
though not by clams.”

Mr. Long, who was present, had listened to all this in consternation.

“And where’s Pat?” he asked. That young gentleman’s name was Michael,
but everybody called him Pat, and so did Mr. Long. “And where’s Pat?”

“In bed yet, sir.”

“Poor Pat! Has he been dosed, too?”

“Yes, sir; but he was taken worse than any of us;” and with this Jiggins
went on to tell all about Pat and the raw clams.

“Dear, dear, dear!” cried Mr. Long. “He must have eaten a bushel, and
all raw. Dear, dear, dear! What did he think he was made of? O, how is
it possible for me to keep you all out of mischief? I go after one half
of you who are in peril, and come back to find the rest of you half
poisoned. But poor Pat--where is he? I must see him, for we have to
start for home to-night.”

“I’ll show you, sir,” said Jiggins; and he took him to the room where
Pat was. He was lying in bed, looking pale and exhausted. He greeted Mr.
Long with a faint smile, and the kind-hearted teacher did his utmost to
soothe the afflicted boy.



XIX.

_Complaints of a disappointed Savant.--The humble Confession of Pat.--A
buried Treasure, and a great Search after it by Torchlight’._


“PAT,” said Mr. Long, kindly, “do you think you will be able to start
to-night?”

“To-night, sir?” said Pat, dolefully. “Yes, the recess is over. Our time
is up, and we must all be back to-morrow. We ought to have been there
Saturday night. Do you think you can come?”

“I suppose I’ll have to, sir.”

“If you’re too weak, or if it pains you to walk, we can carry you down,
you know.”

“What time are ye afther lavin’ at, sir?”

“About one o’clock.”

“O, thin, surely I’ll be betther by that time,” said Pat. “I’ll get a
wink of sleep, and wake up meself again.”.

“Do so, Pat. Is there anything I could get you?”

“No, sir, thank ye kindly. I don’t know of anything.”

Yes, they had to go back, for their time was up; yet Mr. Long was in
despair, not knowing what to do about the minerals. He was confident
that they were somewhere--but where? No one knew, and he couldn’t
imagine.

“It’s too bad,” he cried, as his indignation grew irrepressible. “It’s
too bad. Our expedition has been ill organized. I don’t blame anybody,
but we’ve certainly had very bad luck. With only a week we have wasted
or lost every day but one. Last Monday we were kept all day and all
night at the wharf.”

“Wal, Mr. Long,” said Captain Corbet, “I s’pose you’re kind o’ blamin’
me; but what could I do? Ef a man has a babby, mustn’t he nuss it?”

“No, he musn’t,” said Mr. Long; “he must make his wife attend to
household matters, and keep his engagements.”

Captain Corbet stared with a look of horror and astonishment at Mr.
Long.

“Wal, sir,” he said, with modest firmness, “in my humble opinion, sir,
a babby is a babby, an’ flesh an’ blood is flesh an’ blood; an’ I
don’t care who says they ain’t. Ef you’d see that there babby, sir,”
 he continued, warming up in a glow of fond parental feeling,--“ef you’d
a-seen that there babby, as I’ve seen him,--a crowin’, an’ a pullin’ of
my har, an’ a sayin’, Ga-ga-ga,--‘you’d--

“Mr. Simmons,” said Mr. Long, suddenly, “have you hunted for the
stones?”

“O, yes, everywhere.”

“And did you find nothing?”

“Nothing.”

“There it is,” resumed Mr. Long. “A whole week worse than lost. We lost
Monday. We started Tuesday, and sailed nearly all day. We had about
two hours’ work, and then the boat went adrift. All Wednesday wo were
wandering about the bay. Thursday came, and we didn’t find the boys till
the day was well gone, and then stopping at O’Rafferty’s and coming here
took up the remainder of the time.”

“Well, we had Friday to ourselves,” said Mr. Simmons, with a pleasant
smile. He was an amiable man, and always looked on the bright side of
things.

“Yes, we had,” said Mr. Long, “but unfortunately we accomplished
nothing. We had a long journey, and came back empty-handed.”

“At any rate, we had the time.”

“But that time was lost.”

“O, well,” said Mr. Simmons, “it was one of those days which everybody
must expect to have. We tried hard, but were unsuccessful. I don’t,
by any means, call such a day lost. We gave ourselves up thoroughly to
science.”

“Well, call it a well-spent day,” said Mr. Long, “and what of it? We
will count it in; but after that--what? Saturday came, and we had to go
after the boys again; now our time’s up, and to-night we must go back
again. We have had a week; and out of it we have been able to spend, at
the very utmost, only one day and two hours. Well. I don’t know how it
strikes you, but I call it hard.”

“It would, indeed, have been hard if things had turned out as we
feared,” said Mr. Simmons.

“O, of course I feel all that. I am only lamenting that these accidents
should have happened, and that, when we came for a certain purpose, we
should have been unable to carry it out. And see how things have gone
on. We are out of provisions, and have to lay in a stock of meal, and
molasses, and pork.”

“I’m sure, meal makes very good food,” said Mr. Simmons. “Hot corn-cake
is rather a delicacy, and molasses is very good to eat with it.”

“After all, I don’t care anything about these things,” continued Mr.
Long. “What I do care about is the loss of the minerals.”

“O, they’re not lost.”

“Yes, they are. No one knows anything about them. No one has seen them.
No one can find them. They’re lost, Mr. Simmons, beyond the possibility
of redemption.”

“O, I hope not.”

“Well, I’m going to make a final search. Captain Pratt has asked every
man, woman, and child in the place, but no one knows anything about
them.. I’m now going to question every one over again. I’ve asked
Captain Corbet already. He knows nothing. Captain Corbet, where’s the
mate?”

“Sound asleep in the barn, sir.”

“Then I’ll go out and ask him.”

Captain Corbet went out with him, and after much trouble they roused
the sleeper, who, however, could tell them nothing whatever about the
stones.

Then Mr. Long asked all the boys in succession. He had asked them once
before, but he was determined to try it again. There was no result. No.
one knew anything about it. At last, all had been examined but Pat. Mr.
Long felt sorry for him, and would have left him untroubled; but his
intense desire to investigate thoroughly was too strong, and’ so he
resolved to ask him.

Pat was trying to get some sleep, and with very little success. Mr. Long
asked him kindly about his feelings, and spoke cheerfully to him for a
few moments. At length he asked him,--

“Pat, I had two baskets of specimens, and they’ve been lost. Do you know
anything about them?”

“Two baskets of what, sir?”

“Specimens.”

“Spicimins, sir?”

“Yes.”

“What are spicimins, sir?”

“Why, mineralogical specimens. Minerals, you know.”

“Minerals? Sorra a one o’ me knows what that same is,’ sir. I never saw
one in my life.”

“Never saw a mineral? Nonsense! What we were gathering on the island--”

“Gatherin’? Was it minerals, then?” said Pat. “Is it anythin’ like
o’--like shrimps, sir?”

Mr. Long laughed. He knew Pat’s wonderful ignorance about some things,
but he was hardly prepared for this. As for Pat, the poor fellow found
he had made a mistake, and colored violently from shame and vexation.

“Do you really mean to say that you don’t know what minerals are?” asked
Mr. Long.

“Sorra a bit of it thin, sir.”

“Well, they look like little stones. Didn’t you see us breaking little
pieces from the rocks?”

“I didn’t notice, sir.”

“That’s no way to do, Pat. You ought to keep your eyes open, or you’ll
never learn anything.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, then, these minerals looked like common little stones. They were
in two baskets. Each one was carefully wrapped in paper. Now those two
baskets of stones are missing, and I can’t find out anything about them.
I want you to try and remember if you’ve seen anything of that kind, or
if you’ve seen any little bits of paper that may have been around them.
Do you understand? Little stones, you know.”

And Mr. Long smiled encouragingly, so to give Pat a chance to collect
his thoughts.

“Little stones?” faltered Pat, as there flashed over him an awful
suspicion that he had done an irreparable mischief to somebody, and to
Mr. Long in particular. “Little stones, sir?”

“Yes, Pat, little stones. Dirty little stones. You might have seen them,
and would suppose that many of them were worthless, unless they were
wrapped in paper and carefully packed.”

“Dirty little stones, sir?” said Pat, in an imbecile way.

“Yes,” said Mr. Long.

“And aich one wrapped in paper, sir?” said Pat, whose voice died away
into a mournful wail, while he cast an imploring glance at Mr. Long.

“Yes..Tell me,” cried Mr. Long, “have you seen them?”

“I have, sir,” said Pat, dolefully.

“When? where? Where are they now? Where did you put them?”

“I--I--” He hesitated.

“Quick! It’s late. I want to get them. You brought them to the house, I
suppose; or did you put them on board of the vessel?”

“I--I--”

“Well, why don’t you tell me what you did with them?”

“O, sir, it’s heart-broken I am this minute, sir! It’s fairly dead wid
grafe I am, sir! You’ll niver forgive me! an’ I’m afraid to tell you,
sir.”

“What? What’s all this? What have you been doing? What is it?” said Mr.
Long, sternly.

“No, sir, I thought it was a trick, sir, that the boys played on me,
sir; and I pitched them over the mud into the bank, sir.”

“You what!” cried Mr. Long, in an awful voice. Hereupon Pat, with many
sighs and tears, and entreaties for pardon, told him all. Mr. Long heard
him through without a word. Then he asked minutely about the spot where
they had been thrown. After this he rushed from the house down to
the point. The tide was down below that place, leaving the mud flat
uncovered. The sun was just setting. Mr. Long stared wildly about.

There was not a trace of a Single specimen; for the heavy stones had
sunk in, and the soft ooze and slimy mud, closing over them, had shut
them from sight.

Mr. Long looked around in despair. He had hoped that he might recover
some of them, but was not prepared to see all traces of them obliterated
so completely. Besides, to add to his disappointment, the sun set before
he had begun anything like a search; and the shadows of evening came
on rapidly. What was he to do? Could he thus give up the results of his
expedition, and consent to lose those precious specimens for which he
had done so much? The thought was intolerable. He would go back and
interrogate Pat afresh. It was possible that Pat had directed him to
the wrong place. It was scarcely possible that every stone could have
vanished so completely, if this were really the place where Pat had
thrown them.

Such were Mr. Long’s thoughts and hopes, under the stimulus of which he
at length retreated from the bank and returned to the house. Thus far
he had kept Pat’s performance a secret, out of consideration for Pat
himself; for he was not willing that so glaring a case of dense and
utter ignorance should be made public. But now he was compelled to tell
it to all of them, so as to get their assistance in the search; so,
after once more questioning Pat, and getting from him fresh particulars
about the place where he had thrown the stones, and finding, to his
dismay, that it was no other than the very place where he had been, he
went to summon the rest’ of the boys.

Gathering them together, Mr. Long began to unfold to them the fate of
the long sought for, but still missing, stones. As he began, his native
generosity made him desirous of sparing poor Pat; but as he proceeded,
the sense of his own wrongs overcame the dictates of generosity. He
concealed nothing, he kept back nothing, he palliated nothing. All was
made known. Finally, he implored the assistance of every one of them in
finding the lost treasures.

Of course, after such an appeal, there was no chance for refusal; and so
they at once prepared to follow him. Bart insisted on procuring
torches, and his inventive genius readily suggested an excellent mode
of obtaining light. This was by stripping the inflammable bark from the
huge piles of birch firewood that lay near the house; and folding these
up in compact scroll-like sticks. A large number of these were made; and
with these, with lanterns, and with pine knots, the whole band followed
Mr. Long to the bank. Here they took off their shoes and stockings, and
prepared for their task.

The mud on the surface was very soft to the depth of several inches,
and into this they sank; but sinking thus far, they found a hard clay
bottom. Proceeding in this way, they all sought with earnest scrutiny
for signs of the buried stones. For some time nothing could be found.
At last, with a cry of delight, Bogud plunged his hand into the mud, and
drew out something, with which he instantly hurried to Mr. Long.

“Here’s one of them!” said he.

He held out a lump, at which Mr. Long and all the rest eagerly looked.
It seemed more like a small lump of mud or clay than anything else.

So they all said.

“Pooh!” said they; “a little lump of clay.”

“It’s not clay,” said Bogud; “it’s the amethyst. I know it by the way
it feels. It’s covered with mud, though, and ought to be washed
immediately.”

Saying this, he rubbed the clinging mud with his fingers, disclosing at
last something with an oval surface and a dirty-gray color.

“It’s the amethyst,” repeated Bogud, triumphantly. “I know it by the
oval back. I picked the amethyst myself. Wait till I get the rest of the
mud off. See here!--but--what--hallo!”

His confident tones ceased, and changed to an exclamation of doubt, then
disgust. The boys had crowded around to see the exhumed treasure, and to
catch the secret of Bogud’s luck. As he held it forth and wiped off the
last lump of mud that adhered to its edge, it stood revealed to all.

“A clam! a clam! a clam!” was the instantaneous shout, followed by a
peal of laughter.

In fact, so it proved. It was a clam-shell filled with mud which Bogud
had drawn forth so triumphantly.

After this they sought for some time longer. It was a striking scene.
The boys without shoes, with their trousers drawn up above the knee,
with their torches flashing through the shades of evening, as they
were waved overhead, with the flakes which fell every instant from the
torches into the mud, with their laughter, and noise, and jesting,--all
formed a scene in the highest degree wild and picturesque.

But the search was useless. Perhaps the finding of the clam disheartened
them; perhaps it was really not possible to find what they sought.
At any rate, after half an hour, even Mr. Long himself despaired, and
called off all the boys to return to the house.’



XX.

_How to waken a Sleeper.--Off Home.--A weary Way.--Baffled like the
Flying Dutchman.--Corbet pines for his Bobby.--“The Wind at last!
Hurrah!”_


AT midnight the whole party left Captain Pratt’s, in order to make
preparations for embarking in the Antelope, as soon as the tide would
serve. Pat had regained very much of his former strength and spirits;
the pain had, in a great measure, left him, and the reaction from his
misery exhibited itself in occasional peals of wild laughter, which
broke very strangely upon the silence of the night. He was quite able to
walk down, and joked with the other boys about his mishap. Trouble
had been anticipated in getting him down to the vessel; but the
anticipations, which had proved baseless in regard to him, were more
than realized in the case of the mate. This worthy had spent almost all
the time in sleeping on Captain Pratt’s haymow; and now, when the time
had come for departure, it was found absolutely impossible to rouse him.
At ten o’clock, Captain Corbet had called him, but with no result.
Then he had used other modes of rousing him, which had all ended in a
failure. Mr. Long had exerted himself, and with a like result. As a
last resort, he had commissioned the hoys to do what they could toward
rousing the slumberer. They very willingly undertook the commission.
Ranging themselves round him, they kept up a prolonged shake at his
shoulder, his head, and his feet. By this means they succeeded in
rousing him so far that he would utter words in a dreary way in answer
to their cries.

“Get up! Get up!”

“Ye-e-e-e-e-e-s,” was the reply, ending in a long snore.

“Get up! Hi, hi, hi!”

“In--a--mi--i--i--n’t.”

“Hallo! Up! Get up! The schooner’s off!”

“Hey?”

“The schooner’s off!”

“Hm-m-m--”

“Here! No sleeping! Get up! You shan’t sleep any more! Get up!” and amid
loud cries and yells the recumbent form was shaken from head to foot.
The mate gaped, and yawned, and blinked, and opened his eyes with a
glassy, dreamy stare, dazzled by a candle-light, which flickered in his
face, and confused by the uproar. He was like a bat suddenly plunging
into a lighted parlor full of noisy children--out of the midst of a dark
night. Only he wasn’t quite so much awake as a bat might be.

“My--name’s--Wade,” he ejaculated at last, in a slow and solemn tone.

“Hi, hi, hi! Yah, yah, yah! Hi, yah! h-o-o-o-o! Get up!”’

“My ole ’oman’s name’s Gipson,” continued the mate, in a dreamy voice,
as though amid his dreams he was still following out the one train of
thought which seemed to engross his mind during his waking hours.

“Ya, ya, ya, ya! Get up! Get up! Hal-l-o-o-o-o-o! Bow-avoav-wow!
Ba-a-a-a-a!” and with yells and shouts like these, with cock-crows, with
all the cries of a crowded barn-yard, the boys returned to their effort
at rousing him.

“An’ ye’ll not find many of that name in this country!” said the mate,
with a tone, to which he seemed struggling to give a sleepy emphasis.

Up rose the barn-yard cries again, mingled with yells, shrieks,
bellowings, cat-calls, hoots, and roars.

“Come, come,” cried Bart, shaking his head violently. “Won’t you get
up?”

“No, sir!” said the mate; but whether if referred to his dream, or was
intended as a reply to Bart, did not very clearly appear. The boys began
to despair, and at length, after further endeavors, they were compelled
to give up. They accordingly returned to Mr. Long, and informed him of
their utter failure.

Mr. Long’s eyes glared wildly.

“Very well!” said he, sternly, and with a dark frown. “Ve-e-ry well! I’ll
see if I can’t wake him this time. I’ve been humbugged long enough; and
if words are of no use, I’ll have to try what virtue there is in cold
water.”

Saying this, he seized a pail, filled it at the well, and strode to the
barn, followed by all the boys. Reaching the place, he advanced to the
mate, and mercilessly emptied the entire contents full upon his head.

That succeeded.

With a gasp, a splutter, and a shriek, the mate started to his feet,
looking wildly around as he tried to regain the breath which Mr. Long
had so rudely driven out of him.

“What--what--what--why, what--d’ye--mean?”

“I mean this,” cried Mr. Long, “that you’re wanted on board, and if you
don’t go, I’ll empty the whole well on you.”

The mate looked at him half fearfully, half reproachfully, and then,
shaking the water out of his dripping locks, he slowly wended his way to
the vessel.

At last all were on board; the baskets and boxes were in the hold, the
lines were cast off, the sails were hoisted, and the Antelope dropped
down the stream. Messrs. Simmons and Long retired, but most of the boys
remained on deck for some time, singing, and laughing, and joking with
each one about the peculiar mishaps which he might have incurred during
the last eventful week. At length all retired, and silence reigned over
the schooner and over the deep.

Early in the morning all were up. The sea, far and wide, was as smooth
as glass, except where long lines, and occasional ripples, showed the
meeting of opposing currents. Above, the sky was cloudless, the sun was
bright, and in the air not a breath of wind was stirring. Upon this Mr.
Long looked with extreme impatience, frowning darkly upon land, sea,
and sky. The schooner’s sails were flapping idly, her head was pointed
toward the Five Islands, and Captain Corbet was standing listlessly at
the helm.

“Captain, what’s all this?” asked Mr. Long.

“The schooner is heading toward the Five Islands. Are we going back?”

“No, sir. The schooner’s not particular just now whar she heads.”

“Why don’t you steer for Grand Pré?”

“Jest what I’d like to do, if she’d let me.”

“Let you?”

“Yes. There ain’t a mite o’ wind, an’ she’s, goin’ every which way.”

“Then we’re standing still, and doing nothing.”

“Standin’ still?” cried Captain Corbet. “Lor’ bless you, a couple of
hours ago we were ten miles up there;” and he pointed far away toward
the other end of the bay.

“Up there?”

“Yes. We’re not standin’ still; not by no manner o’ means.”

“What are we doing?”

“Driftin’.”

“Drifting?”

“Yes; goin’ ahead like a race-horse--head fust, tail fust, sideways, end
on, and every kind o’ way that a floatin’ craft kin move.”

“Where are we drifting to?”

“Down to Blomidon.”

“Blomidon!” cried Mr. Long, aghast.

“Yes; an’ farther too. It’ll be lucky if we don’t find ourselves out in
the Bay of Fundy before long.”

“But can’t you _do_ something? Can’t you sail for some harbor?”

“Jest what I’m a pinin’ to do, on’y I can’t come it, nohow. Ef I had
a steam tug-boat I’d clap a line on board her, an’ get into a place of
refooge; but bein’ as there isn’t any, we’ve got to drift.”

“Why don’t you anchor?”

“Anchor?” cried Captain Corbet, in surprise. “Why, the anchor’s broke.”

“Well, well,” said Mr. Long, in bitter vexation, “haven’t you got
something--no sweeps?”

“Not a sweep, as I’m a livin’ Corbet.”

It was too true. There was no wind, and they were drifting at the mercy
of the tide. The vessel went every way, heading in no direction.
They had no anchor, and they could not sail into the shore. They were
completely helpless. By this time they had all hoped to be near their
destination; but it seemed, from appearances, that they were farther
away than ever.

What brought their situation home most forcibly to all, was the solemn
fact that their provision was now limited to Indian meal and molasses,
with a little salt pork. If Solomon had only been on board, it would
not have been so bad, for the genius of the venerable cook would have
evolved even out of such unpromising materials as these a wonderful
variety of palatable dishes. But Solomon was far away, and the cooking
was intrusted to the clumsy hands of the mate. His attempts were so
deplorable that the boys were permitted to make experiments of their own
in the lofty art of cookery. The consequence was, that they spent the
whole morning in the cabin, and used up most of the molasses in making
candy, which, though very badly burned, was still more agreeable than
the burned paste of Indian meal which the mate laid before them as a
breakfast.

The hours of the morning passed, and neither anger, nor impatience, nor
hunger could have any effect upon the relentless tides. The schooner
calmly and placidly went drifting on, past Blomidon, past Cape Split;
and they would assuredly have drifted out into the Bay of Fundy, had
they not, very fortunately, encountered a side current, which bore them
into a bay by Spencer’s Island. There they remained embayed till the
turn of tide, and then they were borne out again, and up the channel, on
the way back into the Basin of Minas.

They were so near the shore that Mr. Long deliberated seriously about
landing, going on foot to Parrsboro’ village, and trying to get a
row-boat to take them to Cornwallis, or taking the steamer to Windsor,
or doing something else equally desperate. But Captain Corbet assured
him that the steamer would not come for two days, and that he would be
utterly unable to get any men to row him so far. So he was compelled to
stay by the schooner.

Captain Corbet bore all this with admirable equanimity, looking with a
mild concern at the impatience of Mr. Long, and regarding the boys with
the indulgent smile of a superior being. Leaving the tiller to take care
of itself, he mingled with them, and conversed freely with all. They
drifted far up into the Basin of Minas, and looked forward to nothing
better than a return to Blomidon and Cape Split, with, perhaps, an
excursion in the Bay of Fundy.

So the day passed, and night came. On the following morning they found
themselves still in the Basin of Minas, not far from the Five Islands,
and drifting toward Blomidon.

“Wal,” said Captain Corbet, “I’ve been a-thinkin’ that this here is just
like the Flyin’ Dutchman. You’ve heerd tell of him; course. They say
he’s a-sailin’ an’ a-beatin’ round the Cape of Good Hope, but can’t
never get round, nohow. That’s jest the pecooliarity of our position.
Here we are, almost in sight of home, you may say, an’ still we have to
go a-driftin’ an’ a-driftin’, an’ I shouldn’t wonder if we’ll get out
into the Bay of Fundy to-day. If that happens, it wouldn’t be a wonder
if we were blown off to Bosting.”

“Captain,” said Mr. Long, “I can’t stand this. I must get ashore. If we
get near to Blomidon again, I’ll take Bruce Rawdon, and go ashore in
the boat. I _must_ go, for it’s a matter of the highest importance. Of
course, it’s different with you. You wouldn’t care if you drifted here
till doomsday.”

At this Captain Corbet thrust both hands deep into his trousers’
pockets, and regarded Mr. Long with a fixed gaze.

“_Me?_” said he, in a mild and almost parental tone. “_Me_ not care?
_me!_ Look here, Mr. Long. Do you know what I am? I’m a parient! Your
books call you home, sir; but what is it that’s a-callin’ o’ me? My
babby, sir! That there tender infant has twined hisself round my boosom;
an’ what am I a-doin’? You don’t know, sir; but I’m a-yearnin’ an’
a-pinin’ for my babby. He’s the most wonderful babby that I ever see,”
 continued the captain, in a faltering voice. “He’s got the pootiest
crow; and if you’d jest hear him say his ga, ga, ga--”

“O, bother your confounded baby!” said Mr. Long, with brutal rudeness,
turning away abruptly.

Captain Corbet looked after him with a puzzled expression. At first,
indignant surprise seemed to predominate, and those who stood near
anticipated an outburst of long-restrained feeling. But it was only for
a moment. Then Captain Corbet’s better angel came to his assistance.
Indignation vanished, and the face that was turned toward Mr. Long had
on it nothing but a meek, sad smile.

Captain Corbet shook his head.

“Thar, that’s it; allus the same,” said he; “on-sympathetic, hard as
a milestone, an’ owdacious in opposition to the tender babe. Human
natur’,” he continued, elevating his patriarchal head, and regarding
Mr. Long’s back with a severe dignity,--“human natur’ might exult in a
administerin’ of a rebewk to sich langedge; but I’ve learned a better
lesson. Yes, boys. I’ve sot at the feet of my babby. The aged Corbet
has received insterruction from a mild infant. Now, I regard all that,”
 waving his hand toward Mr. Long, “not with anger, not with re-perroach,
no, but with kimpassion. I pity him. I feel sorry for him. To him is
unknown the holiest feeling of the hewman boosum; sich as _I_ feel, sich
as every feyther feels when he’s a-nussin’ of his _peressh_us babby.”



XXI

_Blomidon, insulted, avenges himself.--A Victim devotes himself to
appease his Wrath.--Original Views of Captain Corbet with regard to the
Archaeology and the Science of Navigation._


THE schooner went on drifting, and drew near to Blomidon again. The
giant cliff frowned darkly overhead, its sides all scarred and riven by
the tempests of centuries, its base worn by the fierce tides that never
cease to sweep to and fro. Standing as it does, it forms one of the
sublimest objects in nature. Other cliffs are far higher, and every way
more stupendous; but Blomidon is so peculiar by its shape, its position,
and its surroundings, that it stands monarch of the scene, and rises
always with a certain regal majesty, seldom appearing without its diadem
of clouds. All around are low lands, wide meadows, and quiet valleys,
and the far spreading sea, into which this rugged height is boldly
projected, terminating an abrupt rocky wall. From the shores, for many
and many a mile around, wherever the eye may wander over the scenery, it
rests upon this as the centre of the view.

“Blomidon,” said Bart, “looks more magnificently than ever, and we have
an excellent chance for a close inspection.”

“I confess,” said Bruce, “that I would rather not have so good a chance
just now. I’d rather be near the mud flats of Cornwallis than this
majestic cliff.”

“It’s my opinion,” said Phil, “that Blomidon is taking it out of us.”

“How?”

“How? Why, because we slighted him. We started with the intention of
landing here, and instead of doing so we’ve been almost everywhere but
here. So now he has got us, and he will keep us.”

“Well, if we only had something to eat, I wouldn’t care.”

“I can’t eat pork.”

“And I always hated Indian meal.”

“.And I’m getting tired of molasses candy.”

“Besides, I don’t believe that it’s healthy.”

“And then, you know, it’s always burnt.”

“But it certainly takes away one’s appetite.”

“Yes, that’s a consideration. What would become of us if our appetites
were left?”

As they spoke, Mr. Long drew near. They were within a stone’s throw of
the cliff, and were drifting slowly by. He looked up at the summit,
as it. towered far above him, and then ran his eye along the black,
tempest-torn sides.

“Boys,” said he, with a smile, “you’re right. Blomidon feels his
majesty to be slighted. He’s avenging himself on us. He’ll keep us here
till he gets a victim, or at least till some apology is made. Now, I’m
going to appease his sullen majesty.”

“How’s that, sir?”

“By offering up a victim. And who do you think it will be? It will
be--myself.”

“You, sir!”

“Yes. I’m going to land.”

“To land!”

“Yes. One of you can take me ashore, and leave me. I know the place well
enough, and will walk to the nearest village. I can get a horse easily
enough, and be home before sundown.”

“Can’t some of us go with you, sir?” asked Bart, eagerly.

“O, no. It’s better for you to stay. You had better remain together;
besides, the walk will be too rough. For my part, I wouldn’t go if I
could help it. But I must go. My work demands my presence at once. And
then--I really can’t stand this any longer. I could, perhaps, endure the
delay, but I can _not_ stand Captain Corbet and his--ehem!--his baby.”

As he said this, he looked toward Captain Corbet, who was out of
hearing, and was standing discoursing, with a pleasant smile, to Bogud
and Jiggins.

“Bruce, will you put me ashore?” asked Mr. Long.

“Certainly, sir, with the greatest pleasure. But I’m very Sorry that
you’re going.”

“I wish you’d let all of us go, sir,” said Arthur.

Mr. Long shook his head.

“No,” he said. “You see it will be easy enough for one to get a horse to
take him over, but so many could not do it. So I’ll go alone. I’ve been
there before, and I know my way.”

“It will seem worse than ever when you go, sir,” said Bart.

“O, you’ll have a wind before long. You won’t be home as soon as I am,
for the tide won’t let you; but, I dare say, you won’t be much behind
me. Take care of yourselves, and don’t try the boat again.”

Saying this, Mr. Long went to Mr. Simmons, to announce his
determination. That gentleman was much surprised, and endeavored to
dissuade him. But Mr. Long was not to be dissuaded. Captain Corbet said
nothing. He merely elevated his eyebrows; and there was that in his face
which seemed to say, “There, I knew it. I’m not at all surprised. I’m
sorry for him, but not surprised. He’s capable of any piece of wildness.
He can’t appreciate babbies. What more would you have from such a
man?” All this his face fully expressed, but not a word of all this did
Captain Corbet say.

Mr. Long shook hands with all the boys. Bruce was in the boat waiting,
and soon he jumped in.

The line was cast, off, and Bruce sculled on over the smooth water
without much difficulty. The tide was running rapidly, but there was
plenty of coast before them; it was not far away, and before long the
boat had reached the beach.

Mr. Long jumped out, and as his foot touched the shore, he gave a sigh
of relief.

“Ah!” he exclaimed; “here I am at last.”

“Which way are you going, sir?” asked Bruce. “Well, I’ll walk along the
shore for two or three miles, and after that I can find my way to a
road.”

“You know your way I suppose, sir?” asked Bruce, anxiously.

“O, yes. I’ve been here often. I know all about it. I’ll make very good
time if I don’t get attracted by the minerals. That’s my only danger
here. Good by.”

He wrung Bruce’s hand, and walked off. Bruce then returned to the
schooner, and reached it without difficulty. The boys on board watched
Mr. Long for some time. The vessel was drifting down the strait, and he
was walking along the shore in an opposite direction. They watched his
black figure till he turned around a curve in the shore, and passed out
of sight.

For some time the vessel continued to drift under the same
circumstances, without any signs of wind, or oven the prospect of a
friendly mud flat on which they, could be quietly and comfortably
stranded. This time they drifted below Spencer’s Island, and looked ont
into the Bay of Fundy with a vague fear of being borne away into its
waters, and carried off for immeasurable distances. But the tide soon
turned after they had reached this place; and though the dark form of
Ile Haute towered up gloomily from out the waters of the Bay of Fundy,
yet they came no nearer-to it.

On the turn of the tide they drifted back once more. This gave them much
relief, for as long as they were within the Basin of Minas it did not
seem so bad. As they drifted along they came to the place where Mr. Long
had landed, and they watched anxiously to see if there were any signs of
him. They found none.

“If we only had a glass,” said Bart. “Captain Corbet, haven’t you a
glass?”

“Yes--a kind of a one.”

“Where?”

“It’s in the cabin.”

“May I have it?”

“O, yes.”

Bart went down and looked for some time. At last he returned
disappointed.

“1 can’t find any glass, Captain Corbet,” said he.

“Why, it’s jest in front of yer nose,” said Captain Corbet. “Come down.
I’ll show you where it is.”

Down went Bart after Captain Corbet, and, the latter pointed to the
wall. .

“There,” said he. “I wonder you didn’t see it.”

“Where?” asked Bart.

“Where? Why, there,” said Captain Corbet; and saying this he put
his horny finger on a small triangular fragment of what was once a
looking-glass, which small triangular fragment was fastened to a post,
on one side of the cabin, with brass trunk nails.

“There it is,” said Captain Corbet. “You don’t seem to have any eyes in
your head, though you’re sharp enough sometimes, gracious knows.”

“That!” cried Bart. “That! Why, it’s a spyglass I want.”

“A spy-glass no, yes. Wal, I hain’t got none.”

“You haven’t any!”

“No; never owned one in all my born days.”

“That’s odd, too. I thought every sea captain had to have one.”

“Wal, no. There ain’t no great use for sich. They’re a kind o’ luxury,
you see. I don’t have any call for them. There’s other machines, too,
that they talk about, sech as quadrupeds an’ sextons; but I never bother
my head about, ’em.”

“Why, how do you manage to sail your schooner?”

“How? Why, jest up sail an’ let her slide.”

“But what do you do when you’re out of sight of land?”

“Never git out of sight. Ef I should, I’d steer straight back for the
land agin.”

“What do you do in the fog?” asked Bart.

“The fog? I jest do the best I kin. Any ways, I don’t see what use a
sexton would be in a fog, nor a quadruped nuther. Then them sort o’
con-sarns have to be worked by the sun. So, you see, they’re no manner
o’ use in these here waters, nor in no waters at all. People git along
jest as well without ’em. Why, here am I, an’ I bin sailin’ this forty
year, an’ never tetched a sexton nor a quadruped; and me bin all the way
to Bosting. Besides, did Noah make his vyge in the Ark with a quadruped?
No, _sir_. Did Solomon have one in the ship that he sailed to Ophir?
Agin I say, no, _sir_. So I conclude that what the prophets, an’
patriarchs, an’ wise men of old,--an’ a darn sight better men than sea
captains are as they go these times;--what they did without, we can do
without.”

“But you have a compass?”

“Course I have.”

“They didn’t have a compass in those days.”

“Yes, they did.”

“Excuse me--they didn’t have anything of the kind.”

“Excuse _me_, young sir,--bein’ a man old enough, to be your feyther,
an’ a seafarin’ man, too, an’, what’s more, a man that reads his
Bible,--but they did.”

“I should like to know how you make that out.”

“Did you ever read Acts?”

“Of course.”

“Did you ever happen to hear tell of the vygo of the ‘postle Paul, young
sir?”

“Yes; but what’s that got to do with it? You don’t mean to say that he
had a compass.”

“That’s the very pint that I’m a drivin’ at.”

“What! that the apostle Paul had a compass?”

“Course he had.”

“Why, the compass wasn’t known till the fourteenth century. Flavio
Gioja, of Amalfi, is the one that they say invented it.”

“So that’s what they teach you over there at the Academy--is it?” said
Captain Corbet with a look that would have been one of scorn if it
hadn’t been so full of pity. “So that’s what they teach--is it? Wal!
wall wal! If I ever! I never did! However, I’ll show you at once what’s
the wuth, the terew wuth, of your lamin’, when it’s put fair an’ square
in opposition to facts. Look here now, an’ listen, an’ don’t forget. In
the account of that vyge, it says distindtly, ‘So we fetched-a compass.’
What have you got to say to that, now? hey?”

And Captain Corbet drew himself up, and watched the effect of this
startling piece of intelligence.

[Illustration: 0293]

Upon Bart the effect was instantaneous, though not of the kind which
Captain Corbet expected. A light broke in upon his mind, and a smile
burst forth, and spread like sunshine over his lately puzzled face. He
said nothing for some time, but looked away so as to take in the full
flavor of what he considered so good a thing.

“O, yes,” said he at last. “I see. I understand. I never thought of that
before. I must let the fellows know I’ll tell them all at school, from
Dr. Porter down to the smallest boy in the primary department. And I’ll
let them all know that it was you that told me. They’ve all got an
idea that it was invented either by the Arabs, or the Greeks, or the
Italians; but now they shall hear Captain Corbet’s theory.”

“Yes--do--do,” said-Captain Corbet, eagerly.

“An’ tell them that _I_ told you. Tell Dr. Porter. I’d like to know what
the doctor’s got to say.”

“Say! He’ll say nothing--he’ll be dumb. But I must hurry up. It’s
strange, too. I was sure you had a spy-glass. You had one in the boat
when you came after us the time we were aground.”

“So we had, but it wan’t mine.”

“Whose was it?”

“Captain Pratt’s.”

“O, then, that accounts for it. I’m sorry too. I hoped to be able to
find out where Mr. Long was.”

“Mr. Long? Don’t bother about him. He’s all right. He’s among his
native rocks. A man like that; a man that’s a stranger to the charms
of a gentle smilin’ babby; a man that gets mad with others, who are
nat’rally pinin’ for their absent offspring--such a man has a heart that
is a rock, an’ had oughter make up his abode among rocks. I see now why
it is that he spends all his time a gatherin’ of ’em. Why, I told him
some of the most affectin’ things about my babby. But what did he say?
_He!_ He almost swore! Can any parient be willin’ to put his son to
be taught by a man like that--a man whose heart is as hard as a nether
milestone?”

“He’s very kind to us,” said Bart. “All of the boys at school love Mr.
Long dearly.”

“That ain’t the pint,” said Captain Corbet. “The pint is, how does he
feel about a babby? Doos he yearn over ’em? Doos he delight in their
little pooty ways? Doos he crow over ’em? Doos he nuss ’em an’
dandle ’em? I jedge of a man that way, an’ by them there signs; an’
I call that, by a long chalk, the most entirely jodgematical way of
readin’ an’ interpretatin’ human natur’. Read by that light, Mr. Long
ain’t a succumstance. He’s left us. I’m glad. Let him wander among the
rocks and stones of Blomidon!”

With this, Captain Corbet turned away, not caring to pursue the subject
further. Bart went on deck again, to spread among his companions
Captain Corbet’s peculiar views on the subject of spy-glasses, sextants,
quadrants, and compasses.

These new theories created an immense sensation; and whatever opinion
there may have been had before about the captain’s seamanship, there was
no question now as to the perfect originality of his views.



XXII.

_Being jolly under creditable Circumstances.--Songs, Medleys, Choruses,
Cheers, Laughter, Speeches, Responses.--The Mud again.--Hard and
fast.--What’ll you do now, my Boy?_


MR. LONG had gone from their gaze completely, and could be seen no
more. While trying to find him, the boys made conjectures as to where
he might be. Giving up all idea of his being on the beach, they imagined
him wending his solitary way far up the coast, or, perhaps, scaling the
mighty cliff itself in some more accessible place. Gradually the vessel
drifted farther and farther away, until at length it was far up in Minas
Basin.

“Well, boys,” said Bart, “this is getting to be monotonous. We’re like
ferrymen, going forever between two points.”

“Yes, or like the pendulum of a clock, vibrating always, backward and
forward.”

“One more night of drifting is before us.”

“More meals of pork and molasses.”

“Or burnt Indian paste.”

“Or smoky molasses candy.”

“The worst of it is, that we have nothing to amuse ourselves with.”

“It’s a pity we couldn’t start some game.”

“Bart, tell a story.”

“A story?” said Bart. “Who could tell a story under such circumstances?”

“I don’t believe,” said Bruce, “that a calm was ever known to last so
long in the Basin of Minas. Was it, captain?” he added, appealing to
Captain Corbet, who had just emerged from the cabin.

“Wal,” replied Captain Corbet, “it’s not usual to have a calm in the
month of May; still, we do-have ’em sometimes.”

“I should rather think we had,” said Bart.

“I’ve known ’em last a week,” said Captain Corbet, solemnly.

“A week?”

“Yes, a hull week; but that was in July. Still, there’s no knowin’. It
may be in May this year.”

“Then we’ll have to go ashore in the boat tomorrow. I will. I’ll mutiny,
and start off.”

So spoke Bart, and the rest all declared that they would do the same.

“O, we’ll have wind to-night,” said Captain Corbet, in a tone of
vague encouragement. “Yes, yes, we must have wind to-night, or before
morn-in’. We’ve had about calm enough. You feel anxious, no deoubt, all
on ye,” he continued, with a superior smile; “but if you feel so, jedge
what I must feel--me, with, my babby. Why, every minute,--yes, every
mortial minute,--the voice of that there smilin’ babe is a-soundin’ in
my ears. Sometimes he says, ‘GGa-ga-ga,’ and sometimes ‘Da-da-da;’ and
sometimes the cunnin’ leetil human creetur emits a cry,--a favorite
one of his’n,--that sounds jest like ‘Bo-rax! Bo-rax! Bo-rax!’ Isn’t it
odd?”

And he looked at the boys with that mild face of his, whereon was
intermingled an expression partly made up of a father’s affection, and
partly of tender enjoyment of his little cherub’s innocent ways.

“And what does he mean by Borax?” asked Bruce.

“What does he mean? Why, a’most everything. It’s a pet name he gives to
me, you know. That and ‘Ga-ga’--”

“I suppose he doesn’t know the English language yet.”

“No, he hain’t larned it yet; but he’s a-gettin’ on. Why, I could stand
here for hours and tell you words of his’n. He’s uncommon spry, too.
He--”

“Bart,” cried Bruce, suddenly, “start up a song. Sing ‘Uncle Ned.’”

At this Bart started up a song, which was a medley, made up of “Uncle
Ned” and “The Mermaid.” The first verse was as follows:--

               “There was an ole nigger, and he sailed on the sea;

                   And he lived not far from the land;

               And he had no wool on de top of his head,

                   And a comb and a glass in his hand.

                        Chorus.

                   “O, the sto-o-o-o-o-o-o-ormy winds, how they blow!

                   So take up de shubbel an’ de hoe,

                   While we poor sailor-boys are climbin’ up aloft.

                   He has gone whar de good niggers go--‘gers go--‘gers go--

                   He has gone whar de good niggers go.”

This astonishing production was sung with uncommon energy and spirit.
At its close Bart retired below, while the others went on singing; and
after a short time he returned with a piece of paper in his hand, and a
triumphant smile on his face.

“Hallo, Bart! what have you got there?” cried Bruce. .

“It’s an original song,” said Bart.

“By whom?”

“Myself,” he replied, meekly.

“Hurrah! Go it! Sing it! Give it to us!”

“All right; but you must all join in the chorus.”

“Of course. What’s the tune?”

“‘Auld Lang Syne.’”

“Go ahead, then, young feller! Propel! Shoot away!
Beady--present--fire!”

Waiting for the noise to subside, Bart stood in the midst of them, and
after the cries had ceased, he began:

                   “Should Capting Corbet be forgot,

                        A-sailin’ o’er the sea!

                   O, no! when we get back to school,

                        We’ll often think of he.

                        Choruss.

                   “We’ll often think of he, my friends;

                        We’ll often think of he.

                   O, yes! when we get back to school,

                        We’ll often think of he.”

“What’s that?” cried Captain Corbet, with a smile of pleasure wreathing
his venerable face. “Why, it ain’t--why, railly--why, it is me, too!
Why, railly! An’ you made up all that? Wal, now, I call that rale cute.
I do, railly. On’y I do wish, sense you did take the trouble to make
up that there,--bein’ as your hand was in,--I wish you’d kinder added
a line interriducin’ the babby. We like to be kind o’ onseparable. It
seems kind of agin natur’ to separate us.”

“All right. I’ll introduce anything,” said Bart. “Here, boys, I’ll give
you another chorus.

                   ‘We’ll often think of he, my friends;

                        We’ll often think of he;

                   The capting and his schewner gay,

                        Likewise his small ba-be-e-e-e-e.’”

This new impromptu chorus was sung with still greater enthusiasm.
Captain Corbet was affected to tears. Emotion overpowered him. As soon
as he could muster strength to speak, he exclaimed,--

“You’ve onmanned me--you have, railly. The mention of that blessed babby
kind o’ took away all my strength. But I’ll reward you, boys. When we
get back, I’ll make you all come up, and introduce you all to the babby
himself,--_sometime when the old woman’s away, you know,_” he added,
mysteriously.

“I will now occupy the time by continuing the hymn,” said Bart,
solemnly. Whereupon he proceeded:

                   “I love to go to Blomidon,

                        Its beauty for to feel;

                   But I’d prefer a better fare

                        Than pork and Indian meal.

                        Chorus.

                   “Than pork and Indian meal, my friends;

                        Than pork and Indian meal.--

                   O, I’d prefer a better fare

                        Than pork and Indian meal.”

This was sung earnestly and with very deep feeling. The recollection of
their melancholy condition caused a mild pathos to be infused into the
tones of all. Some of them seemed to be shedding tears. At any rate,
they held handkerchiefs to their eyes.

The next verse:

                   “I love to sail on Minas Bay,

                        Its beauty for to see;

                   To hunt for clams among the sands,

                        And put them into me.

                        CHorus.

                   “And put them into me, my friends;

                        And put them into me.

                   To hunt for clams among the sands,

                        And put them into me.”

The mild melancholy that characterized the last chorus here changed into
a livelier note, expressive of greater cheerfulness.

The next verse:

                   “Pratt’s Cove it has the biggest clams

                        That ever mortal saw;

                   But when we hunt for clams again,

                        We mustn’t eat them raw.

                        CHorus.

                   “We mustn’t eat them raw, my friends;

                        We mustn’t swallow them raw.

                   O, clams are good for human food,

                        But we mustn’t eat them raw.”

This was sung energetically, yet in a dignified manner. The chorus was
intended to convey a wholesome piece of advice to those who might
happen to be in need of it,--Pat, for instance,--and so it was sung with
dignity; at the same time, the energy with which it was rendered was
admirably adapted to enforce the advice and carry it home to the heart
and conscience of the hearer.

The next verse:

                   “We’ve got molasses for our food,

                        It came from Tri-ni-dad;

                   And when to candy it is boiled,

                        It really isn’t bad.

                        Chorus,

                   “It really isn’t bad, my friends;

                        It isn’t very bad.

                   Molasses, boiled, to candy turns,’

                        And really isn’t bad.”

A greater degree of liveliness prevailed here at the celebration of the
only eatable thing among the stores. There was an intention to do honor
to the molasses, and honor was accordingly done.

The next verse:

                   “Three cheers for Bogud, Billymack,

                        Three cheers for all the crew,--

                   For Jiggins, Sammy, Muclcle, Pat, .

                        And three for Johnny Blue!

                        Chorus.

                   Three cheers for Johnny Blue, my friends,

                        Three cheers for Johnny Blue,--

                   For Jiggins, Sammy, Muckle, Pat,

                        And three for Johnny Blue!”

Immense enthusiasm. Surprise on the part of all the boys whose names
were thus so unexpectedly “wedded to song.” Recovering from their
surprise, each one jumped up, placed his hand on his heart, and
acknowledged the compliment by a low bow; after which the song was sung
again; after which there came more bows; and it would have gone on thus,
with alternate bowing and singing, till the present time, had not the
boys themselves felt overpowered, and demanded another verse.

The next verse:

                   “Three cheers for all the boys on board;

                        For Corbet three times three;

                   And thirty more for the jolly black flag

                        Of the ‘B. O. W. C.’!

                        Chorus.

                   “The ‘B. O. W. C.’ my friends,

                        The ‘B. O. W. C.’

                   Ever so many more for the jolly black flag

                        Of the ‘ B. O. W. C.’!”

This last chorus was sung with a vehemence, an ardor, and an enthusiasm
that are absolutely indescribable. It included all, and identified all,
in the most delicate manner, with the “B. O. W. C.” It was sung over and
over, and over yet again, accompanied with any quantity of cheers for
everything under the sun. The special allusion to Corbet, in the last
verse, elicited a fresh display of emotion from that venerable and
highly-impressible party. He did not say much, however. He merely went
round among the boys, and shook hands most warmly with all of them, one
by one. He asked each one about his father, his mother, his brothers
and sisters, and his uncles and aunts. He asked their full names, their
ages, and the number of their blood relations. He then made a public
address to them, in which he freely offered, at any time, to take any
of them, or all of them, on a cruise anywhere, at a moment’s warning.
Finally, he reiterated his offer to introduce his babby to them all.
This formed a climax. Beyond this he could not go. And there, naturally
and inevitably, his eloquent oration ended.

So passed the time. And when you take into consideration the solemn fact
that all this time they were drifting, that the sea was smooth, that
there wasn’t a breath of wind, that there was no prospect of getting
home, or anywhere else, for that matter,--you will come to the
conclusion that these boys were jolly under creditable circumstances.
And you will be right in that conclusion; for it was in the very face
of calms, strong tides, empty larders, wanderings at sea, famine, and
privations of all kinds, that these boys stood up and sang their song.

In this sense it became not a mere song of jollity or of idle sport.
It was more. It was the song of the unconquered soul. It was a defiance
hurled full in the face of Fortune.

The evening passed. The shades of night came down. It was dark, and
it grew darker. Until late, the sounds of song, of laughter, and of
merriment, came forth and resounded through the night. At length all was
still. All on board had descended to their couches, and were wrapped in
profound slumber.

The boy who awaked first in the morning gave such a shout that all the
others were roused at once.

What was it?

What! An instant told them all. Down through the hatchway there came a
blast of wind strong and cool, and full of sea salt. Above, they could
see the sail distended to its utmost, while higher up the clouds were
scudding across the sky. Below, the vessel was lying far over, as
it yielded to the wind; and her pitching and tossing, together with the
dash of waves against her bows, told all that she was moving swiftly
through the water.

They hurried up to the deck.

Far around them was the blue sea, now tossing into white-capped waves.
A fresh, strong wind was blowing over the water, and it was fair. On the
right rose Blomidon from out the foam that gathered at its base; on the
left the water extended till it was lost in the distance amid the haze
that hung over the low-lying shore. Behind them lay the Five Islands,
and all that water over which they had so long been drifting. The vessel
was heading straight to Grand Pré, and was tearing her way through the
water as she had never done before within the experience of any of her
present passengers.

Joy reigned supreme. Loud cheers and cries of delight burst forth.

“Why, captain,” said Bart, “I. began to think that the Antelope couldn’t
sail at all.”

“Can’t she, though? O, she isn’t a bad sailor when she’s got a wind dead
fair like this.”

“When’ll we get to Grand Pré?”

“Wal, that’s difficult to say,” said the captain, thoughtfully.

“Why, you don’t mean to say that there is any danger of the wind
stopping now, or changing?”

“O, no; there’s no danger of that.”

“Well, what is there?”

“Why, we can’t get to the wharf.”

“Why not?”

“It’ll be low tide when we get there.”

“Low tide!” repeated Bart, in consternation; “and how far will we be
from the wharf?”

“O, miles; and that isn’t the worst of it. You’ll have the Cornwallis
River between you and Grand Pré.”

Bart said no more, but retired to convey this disheartening intelligence
to his companions. They talked over it thoughtfully and with serious
faces.

The vessel went on. The tide was against them, but the wind was strong
and fair, and blew with undiminishing power. Looking toward the shore,
they could see that their progress was excellent.

Nearer they came, and nearer, until at last they saw before them a
vast extent of mud flats, beyond which lay a low ridge all green with
verdure; and they knew it as the dike of Grand Pré. Beyond this again
ascended the hills, with the white village at the base, and on the slope
the conspicuous form of the Academy, with its broad portico and lofty
cupola. .

“Where are you going now, captain? You can’t anchor. Is there a port
here to run the schooner into?”

“Nary port.”

“What’ll you do? Surely you won’t drift off again?”

“Drift? No, sir.”

“How will you manage?”

“How? Why, there’s only one thing to do; and that is, to run her right
straight in on to a mud flat.”

As he spoke, he looked steadily forward, and gave the tiller a pull
to starboard. The schooner turned slightly. The next instant it ran
squarely upon the mud flat, and stuck there, hard and fast.



XXIII.

_A wild Undertaking.--A Race for Life.--The lost Boot.--The
Quicksands.--The Isle of Safety.--The Mud Gulch.--Crossing the Abyss of
Mud.--Bruce’s Doldrum.--Two forlorn Figures.--Rapturous Welcome.--Speech
by the Grand Panjandrum._

THERE they were on the mud flat. It was a situation in which the B.
O. W. C. had been before, but experience had not made it any the more
pleasant to them.

“We’ve done it before,” said Bruce, “and why shouldn’t we do it again?”

“So I say,” remarked Arthur. “It’s a great deal farther,” said Phil,
“but in my opinion it isn’t half so bad as the other one.”

“Of course it isn’t,” said Tom. “The tide is leaving us rapidly, and
we’ll be able to jump out upon the mud, and not up to our necks in
water, as we did the last time.”

“And so we needn’t prepare to fight with shovel-mouth sharks,” said
Phil.

“The fact is,” said Bart, “it’s going to be a difficult job, and harder
than the last one, perhaps. We’ve got a couple of miles to go, instead
of so many hundred yards. We must face that fact before leaving.”

“We know that very well,” said Phil.

“You see there is Grand Pré just in front of us.”

“Yes.”

“Well, we can’t go there, because between us and that place is the
Cornwallis River, which just now is an abyss of mud, with a strong
stream running at the bottom. So we’ll have to make an angle, and go up
there toward the right, and go in a straight line to Cornwallis Bridge..
It will be two miles to the grass land, and another one to the bridge.
So we’ll have two miles of mud.”

“I don’t believe the mud is any different from what we found in the
other place.”

“It may not be,” said Bruce, “yet there may be air-holes. We’ve got so
far to go that we may find almost anything--air-holes, quicksands, or
anything else. Still, I don’t believe that we’ll meet with any.”

“Well, let’s wait till the tide gets down to the bows, and then start,”
 said Tom.

With this the boys prepared for their journey. These preparations
consisted in nothing but getting some stout sticks, which they made by
splitting up a board, and smoothing each piece with a knife. After this
they informed Mr. Simmons of their intention. He looked aghast, and then
told them that they would get too muddy.

At this they laughed, and said that they were covered with mud from
their many experiences in the voyage, and couldn’t be much worse. So Mr.
Simmons looked at them from head to foot, and then at himself. By this
he discovered that the boys were in a comfortably muddy condition, and
what was more, that he, Mr. Simmons, he himself, was decorated with
many mud marks, which sadly marred the beauty of his black attire. This
discovery filled him with such horror that he hurried below, where the
sound of a brush in violent exercise showed the boys that he was trying
to eradicate the stains, so as to prepare himself for a solemn entry
into the village. He did not appear on deck again.

Captain Corbet, however, on learning their proposal, had much more to
say about it.

He listened with staring eyes, and then declared that they all were
crazy.

“Crazy? Why, ye’re mad as March hares! Do ye know that that there mud is
full of air-holes, an’ inhospitable for man an’ beast? Horses air lost
there every year. So air knows likewise. People shun it. Death lurks
there. I wouldn’t go there for all the gold in Californy There’s
quicksands, and there’s air-pots, and there’s holes of all kinds,
there’s deep gulps that you can’t cross no how.”

“But did you ever hear of an accident?”

“Course I have. My feyther told me onst about a neighbor of his’n that
lost a friend down hereabouts. He was found next day lying on the shore
up there--thrown up by the tide. Besides, my wife’s ma told me of people
that’s been a-missin’, an’ what it’s strongly suspected that they kind
o’ strayed down here, and got drownded. What d’ye say to that?”

“O, it’s all the same. There are five of us. We’ll help one another.”

“Ah, ye’ll help one another! Yes, but to sartin ruination. Why, see
here. Look at me. I’m more anxious, a hundred times, to got ashore
than you be. I’m a feyther. I’ve got a pinin’ babby that I’m a-yearnin’
after. I’ve got a kind of homesick feel-in’, that never leaves me, arter
him; ’ee bessed chicken, so it was! But do I go an’ resk my life? Do
I throw myself away? Do I walk over quicksands, an’ air-holes, an’ mud
gullies? Not I. I stand here like a man, an’ wait.”

“All right, captain; we’ll tell them you’re comin’,” said Bart, stepping
to the bows.

By this time the tide had lowered, so that they could get out from the
vessel on the mud. One by one they descended. They found the mud soft,
of course, but not very much so.

“O, boys,” cried Captain Corbet, “come back!”

“All right!” cried Bruce. “Come, boys, if we stand, we’ll stick in the
mud. Hurry along!”

“Bo-o-oys! come back,” wailed Captain Corbet. “If you get harmed, I
can’t follow you to help you.”

“Good by.”

“Bo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-oys! O, Bo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-oys!” wailed Captain
Corbet, for the last time, as the boys went off. But this time they gave
no response. He stood in silence, watching them, for a long, long time,
with deep anxiety. The other boys also looked after them with not a
doubt in the minds of any of them but that they would come back.

Meanwhile the boys walked on upon their dangerous way.

Perhaps their very ignorance of that danger saved them from it. They
walked on in a straight line, knowing nothing of places which the people
about believed to be dangerous; and as they found the outset easy, they
expected all the rest would be the same. The mud was like that which
they had met with before--soft at the surface, but hard beneath, so that
they sank in a little distance at every step, but nevertheless, found
a firm foothold. The mud was so soft, and the foothold beneath so firm,
that their feet were not very badly clogged. They did not find it so
difficult as walking over clay roads after they had been soaked with
rains, and cut up by heavy teams.

They walked on rapidly, in as straight a line as possible, laughing and
shouting, declaring that mud fiats were slandered, and that there was
much worse walking on many a country road.

At length the mud grew softer, and the bottom was not so near the
surface. To walk over this, even at a rapid pace, was difficult; for
where the foot was planted at full length, it would sink so that it was
difficult to extricate it. A swifter pace was necessary.

“Are you tired, Phil?” asked Bruce.

“No,” said Phil; and, indeed, he seemed as fresh as any of them.

“Because we’ll have to go faster,” said Bruce. “Come, now, boys--Indian
trot!”

Away they went at the peculiar pace known by that name,--the body bent
forward, and the fore part of the foot touching the ground with its
elastic tread, moving at that slow, steady, easy trot which is faster
and lighter than a walk, and but little more fatiguing to those who have
the knack of it. This carried them on very well for some considerable
distance farther, and on looking back they began to congratulate
themselves on the distance which they had already traversed. Ere long
the grass-covered marsh was within sight--the place where danger ended,
and progress was easier. But between them and that place there still lay
difficulties which they knew not of.

Suddenly as they ran on, they were arrested by a cry from Phil. They
turned instantly, and were horrified at the sight that met their eyes.
Phil, being the smallest and weakest, had fallen behind, and, being out
of breath, had loitered a few paces so as to recover, thinking that he
would catch up.

Feeling a pain in his side, he had stopped to fasten his belt tighter
around his waist, and without thinking he had stood motionless for a
minute. In that minute his feet had sunk in the treacherous soil. In his
sudden fright at this discovery, he had cried out, and made a desperate
effort to extricate himself. With a jerk he had drawn forth one foot,
but the other had sunk in up to his knee. And this was the position in
which he stood when the others turned.

Another minute and they were by his side, pulling at him. But as they
pulled, each one found himself sinking.

“Here, boys, this won’t do,” cried Bart. “Phil, give me your hand. Boys,
form a line behind me, one after another. Now let’s catch hold of one
another. Now, let’s keep moving backward and forward, quickly, #so as
not to stand still. Now, then, pull!”

Backward and forward the line of boys, thus rapidly formed, went
swaying, pulling Phil as they did so. The clinging mud yielded, and Phil
was slowly dragged forth. But his boot was left behind.

“Never mind the boot,” cried Bart. “Come on as you are,--one shoe off,
and the other one on, tol de roi de rido, my son John! Hurrah! Phil, go
ahead of me, and I’ll guard the rear.”

All this time, while Bart was speaking, they were running on, Phil
limping with his booted and bootless feet. .

“Never mind, Phil! we’ll soon get to a place where you can take off the
other boot,” said Bart, encouragingly.

And now began the tug. Their run had been a long one, and their
exertions excessive. All of them were out of breath, and panting
heavily. The distance still before them was great; but they dared
not stop; they dared not even pause for am instant, or slacken their
progress in any degree. Phil was most exhausted, but he toiled on with
desperate exertions. The memory of his lost boot showed him his danger.
That boot left behind remained as a terror, which drove him on.

On and still on. Fainter grew the boys, but they dared not stop. All of
them were panting, and laboring heavily, but no relief was near. Far
off still lay the marsh with its grass--a fearful distance to those so
exhausted, and still compelled to labor so hard.

“I don’t know how much longer I can stand this,” gasped Tom.

“You _must_ stand it! Don’t stop, for your life!” cried Bruce.

The others said nothing. To speak would be but to waste their precious
breath, which they were losing only too rapidly.

On and on. Still the soft mud lay beneath them, and an awful fear came
to some of them that it was getting softer.

The fear was soon realized.

Softer and softer it grew, and deeper sank their feet. Had this place
only been found at an earlier period, they could have returned, or they
would have had strength to struggle on; but now it came in the hour of
their extremest exhaustion. It was a hollow in the mud, somewhat lower
than the surrounding surface.

“We can’t go through this,” said Bruce; and he pointed to the centre
of the hollow, which looked fearfully soft and liquid. “Let’s go around
it;” and turning rapidly, he started off toward the right. The boys said
nothing. They floundered deep in the mud,-they panted, they gasped, they
moaned in the despairing efforts which they made.

“I’ll lie down,” gasped Phil. “I--won’t--sink--“.

“On, on! Never! We’ll all have to die if you stop.”

These words came from Bart, who, exhausted as he was, caught Phil’s arm,
and dragged him on.

At that moment Tom fell.

“It’s all up with me, boys,” he moaned. “Leave me. Save yourselves.”

Bruce said nothing. He snatched him up out of the mud, and pulled him
along, while at this fresh exertion his whole frame quivered, and his
feet sank deeper.

How long could this last?

Tom could scarcely keep his feet. Phil could hardly keep upright, and
move his legs. Arthur could barely stumble along. Bart and Bruce bore.
it best, and could help the others still.

But for how long?

A shout of joy came from Bruce.

“Hurrah! Look there!” he cried. Tom raised himself by a last effort,
and turned his feeble eyes to where Bruce pointed. He saw, at a little
distance, a green patch in the mud.

It was marsh grass!

At that instant all recognized it. The sight of it brought fresh
strength to their despairing energies. It gave new life to Tom and Phil.
A few steps more, and the soft mud grew harder; and soon after they were
all standing on the patch of marsh grass.

No sooner had they reached this place, than they all flung themselves
down upon the mud, out of which the coarse grass grew. For some time not
a word was spoken. All lay there breathing heavily. Looking back, they
could see the wide extent of mud flats which they had traversed.
The schooner was far away, and those on board could no longer be
distinguished. The soft spot in which they had been wallowing, and out
of which they had found their way, spread for a great distance, not only
between them and the schooner, but also on one side. Between them and
Cornwallis there appeared to be a firmer surface, like that which they
had found on leaving the schooner. Besides this, there were patches of
grass interspersed here and there, like islands, in this sea of mud.
Here they might find resting-places if they were again exhausted. The
spot on which they lay was the outermost of these.

They did not hurry away. They needed a good long breathing-time, and
they took it. Phil took off his remaining boot, declaring that if he
had only got it off before, he would not have been so exhausted. He
preferred walking over the mud barefoot, he said. This seemed to the
others a good idea, and they all took off their boots and stockings, so
as to pass over the mud more lightly.

At length, after about half an hour, they all rose, and resumed their
journey. The mud spread away before them; and though there were patches
of grass at intervals, yet the real marsh land itself did not come
within half a mile of them. This distance would have to be traversed
before they could reach the nearest verge. And now, keeping their eyes
fixed upon the Cornwallis shore, they all set out afresh.

Their progress was easy, such as it was when they first set out, with
this difference, that their goal was near, and resting-places frequent.
Nearer and nearer they came to the marsh land; nearer and nearer
still,--and now they were close to it,--and now they had just reached
it,--when suddenly, just as they seemed to touch it, there yawned
between them and that green inviting goal a deep crevice, the course of
some sea current, at the bottom of which trickled, even now, some water,
which probably came from one of the numerous drains of the dike land
before them. The sides sloped down at an angle of forty-five degrees,
and consisted of the softest mud, which seemed by its appearance ready
to ingulf at once any one who might step upon it. To cross here was
impossible. It could not be even ventured upon.

The ground at the edge was firm enough for them to stand and survey
the situation. On the left the gully seemed to go toward the Cornwallis
River, on the right it seemed to approach the land. Supposing that it
came from the dikes, and that it would grow narrower if they ascended
in that direction, they turned off toward the right. They found their
surmise correct. After walking for a half mile, the gully had become
much narrower, and had diminished from a width of thirty feet and a
depth of twelve, to a width of ten and a depth of six. But here they
found themselves at a fork, where the gully that came from the dike land
divided “itself, one part going toward the Cornwallis River, and the
other far down through the mud flat toward the bay. To go around it, or
in any way avoid it, was impossible. It was necessary to cross it at all
hazards.

“We must do it, boys,” said Bart. “So here goes.”

Saying this, he threw over his boots. Then he went back for some
distance. Then he rushed forward, and springing from the edge of the
bank, he shot through the air, and landed on the other side.

“That’s more than I can do,” said Tom. “I’ve got to wade it.”

“Nor can I,” said Phil.

“Go it, Arthur,” said Bruce.

Arthur went back, and took a run like Bart, and jumped. But he fell two
feet short. His feet sank deep into the soft mud. He struggled for a
moment, and falling forward, dug his elbows into the top of the bank.
Bart seized him, and after some violent struggles he was free.

After this all the boots were thrown over. Bruce encouraged Phil and
Tom.

“Now, boys, go it. I’ll wait here to help you.”

“But we can’t jump.”

“Arthur and I will go down on this side, and Bruce on the other, and
help you,” said Bart; and he descended at the same time, followed by
Arthur, while Bruce descended the opposite side. Their feet sank in for
some distance, and then found bottom.

Phil then went down, and gave a wild leap, and his feet just cleared
the middle. For a moment he floundered, but struggled onward, and caught
Bart’s hand. Another minute, and he was safe over.

“I’ve not got much strength left, boys,” said Tom; “but I’ll do what I
can.”

“Steady now--wait,” said Bart, “let me get a little farther down.
Arthur, give me your hand.” Saying this, Bart descended a little
farther.

Tom ran down, his feet sinking deep. Near the middle he tried to leap
over, but his feet sank so that his leap failed. He fell short, and his
advancing foot struck the very middle of that soft pudding in the bed of
the gully. He sank to his middle at once, struggling, and panting, and
throwing himself forward. Deeper and deeper he sank. It was an awful
moment. At length a last violent effort brought him a little nearer.
Bart dropped Arthur’s hand, and clutched that which was despairingly
outstretched by Tom. At the same moment Arthur caught Bart, and they
dragged at their sinking companion. For some time they did nothing
toward extricating him.

But now with a bound Bruce had sprung across, and hurried to their
assistance. Going down close by Bart, he caught Tom’s other hand. Then,
with all their strength united, they pulled. Their own feet sank deep,
but they thought not of that. Tom was coming out. He was out. He was
saved!

Drawing out their own feet then, they helped Tom up to the top of the
bank, and there they rested once more. Tom was not exhausted, but
only weakened, and a few minutes were sufficient for him to rally.
So, without saying much about this last adventure, they resumed their
journey.

There lay the marsh right before them at last. There, too, not far away,
rose a dike, beyond which were the dike lands. Their perilous journey
was at last approaching an end. Soon they were on the marsh, where the
coarse grass was now in its early spring growth, and not high enough to
impede their progress. A short journey through this brought them to the
dike. It was only a fe\v feet in height. They climbed to the top, and
looked around. There was the Cornwallis River about half a mile away,
and there, farther up, the bridge that crossed it. The coarse stubble of
the grass hurt their feet, so that they walked along the top of the
dike toward the river. This walk was easy and pleasant; and after their
severe journey, it was even delightful. In this way they went on, till
at last they reached the bank of the river, when they turned and walked
up the edge toward the bridge.

At first the bed of the river was, as Bart had said, a vast abyss of
soft mud, through which ran a swift stream, flowing at the bottom of
this abyss; but as they walked on, they came at length to a place where
the mud was intermixed with gravel, which extended down to the water,
and up on the other side. Here Bruce stopped, and looked down, and then
across. .

“What’s the matter?” asked the others.

“O, nothing. I’m thinking about trying to cross.”

“To cross! You’ll never get across,” cried Phil.

“Yes,” said Bart. “It can be done. I’ll try it if you will, Bruce. You
see it isn’t all soft mud here, but the gravel goes down, and up the
other side. I don’t believe it’s deep, either.”

“Well, if it’s over our heads, we can swim a little.”

“But see how strong the current is,” said Tom. “It will carry you off.”

“O, it can’t carry us far,” said Bruce. “I’m in for it. You see, boys,
it’s too aggravating to look across the river here, and see the Academy
close by on the other side, hardly more than a mile or so away, and then
turn off for a four or five mile walk around. You fellows had better go
up to the bridge, and get a wagon, and drive round. Bart and 1 will try
it here, at any rate. If we can’t get across, we’ll follow you.”

Without listening to any further remonstrances, Bruce and Bart descended
the slope. The bed was very wide and deep, though now nearly empty,
and they did not know how deep the water might be that ran there. They
expected to ford it. The other boys stood on the bank watching them with
intense interest.

The gravel, mixed with mud, formed a good footing; and Bruce and Bart
stopped here for a time, and put their boots on, so that if they had to
swim they might not be impeded with bundles.

The water was running swiftly by. It seemed wider now than it did at the
top of the bank. But they did not hesitate. In they went side by side,
Bruce on the right, and Bart below him on the left. The water grew
deeper and deeper. It came up to their waists, then up to their armpits.
Bart could not possibly stem it a moment longer. He was lifted from his
feet, and borne on.

Those waiting at the top of the bank felt their hearts stop beating as
they looked.

But Bart’s head was above water, and he struck out bravely for the
opposite shore. He knew he would not have far to swim, for he had
already gone nearly half way when he was swept off his feet. The current
still bore him down, but his own efforts were dragging him to the
opposite shore at every stroke.

After Bart had lost his footing, Bruce still walked on. He held himself
so that he could resist the current to some extent. But at last he, too,
lost his footing, and was swept after Bart. He struck out strongly; and
while carried down by the current, he, too, drew nearer the opposite
shore.

Bart had just touched bottom, and sprang up, with the water scarce
higher than his waist, and looked around for Bruce. As he looked, he
caught sight of Bruce’s face. It was turned toward him in agony, close
by him, and but a little behind. Two hands were flung out, and with a
gasp and a groan Bruce sank.

For an instant Bart stood petrified with horror. A wild thought of
sharks flashed through his mind. But the next instant he had grasped
Bruce, and was dragging him half fainting, still gasping, out of the
water. In a few minutes they were on the bank, where they both sat down.

“It was a--a palpitation--of the--the heart,” gasped Bruce. “I’ve
felt--queer.--ever since that--affair--on the--the cliff.”

“Yes. You’ll have to keep quiet, Bruce, for some months to come. You see
you’ve been exerting yourself tremendously to-day, and this last thing
has been too much. You’ve got to look out, for a thing like this is not
to be trifled with.”

By this time the other boys had rushed down, and were on the opposite
side halloing, and asking what was the matter.

“O, nothing--a doldrum of Bruce’s,” cried Bart. “‘He’s all right now.”

“All right!” said Bruce, lifting up his pale face, and nodding.

“You hurry up, boys,” said Bart. “Get a horse at the bridge, and drive
home.”

Upon this the boys left, and went to the bridge. After about a quarter
of an hour, Bruce felt able to start. They ascended the bank slowly; and
after reaching the dike land, they went across in a straight line
for the Academy. They walked slowly at first, but Bruce regained his
strength more and more at every step.

At length they reached the gateway of the Academy grounds. Wet to the
skin, handkerchiefs round their heads, with their clothes ragged, and
plastered with mud from head to foot, so that hardly any of the original
color was visible, these two forlorn figures attracted universal
attention; and soon all the small boys were around them cheering, and
shouting, and asking about the schooner.

Out came Mr. Long, who had arrived the previous evening without
accident.

Out came Dr. Porter, astonishment in his face.

Out came every inhabitant of the Academy and its precincts, all making
inquiries.

And, last of all, out came Solomon, with an enormous white collar
standing up above his ears, and,--

“O, de gracious! O, de sakes alive, now! What’s dis dat dis ole nigga
does see! You gwine away whar glory takes you, an’ back agin to be de
light of an ole cuss’s life! An’ whar’s all de rest ob all dem bressed
chil’en? O, dis de-lightful day an’ hour! An’ you wet as ebber wet kin
be by failin’ in de briny wave! Bress dis old nigga’s heart! but whar
you git all dat mud from? An’ me hopin’ an’ prayin’ fur dis glorious
time! What’s become ob all de Wenebble Breddren? Heah comes de Wenebble
Patrick, an’ de Wenebble Wodden, wid de ‘Gran’ Panjydanderum in de
shinin’ train! O, dis day an’ hour!”

And with exclamations like these, poured forth with amazing volubility,
Solomon walked along backward before them, and his voice died away, in
the distance to a prolonged and unintelligible hubble-bubble.

About an hour afterward Arthur, Phil, and Tom drove up, and were
received in a very similar manner. If the “B. O. W. C.” liked to create
a sensation, they certainly had reason to be satisfied.

Mr. Simmons, with the rest of the boys, did not get to the Academy till
late in the day.

But long before that, in fact, at high noon, Solomon received the “B. O.
W. C.” in the diningroom. They had luxuriated in the bath, and Solomon
had prepared for them the banquet. He surpassed himself. His genius had
invented new dishes expressly for the occasion, and the “B. O. W. C.”
 ate, and were refreshed.

THE END





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