By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: A Floating City and The Blockade Runners
Author: Verne, Jules
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Floating City and The Blockade Runners" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.


                          Transcriber’s note:

    This version of the text cannot represent certain typographical
    Italics are delimited with the '_' character as _italic_.
    The illustrations with a caption have been replaced with
    [Illustration: caption].

The few minor errors, attributable to the printer, have been corrected.
Please see the transcriber’s notes at the end of this text for details
regarding the handling of any textual issues encountered during its
preparation. The full-page illustrations have been moved to more
appropriate locations.

The Table of Contents was added by the transcriber.


                            UNIFORM EDITION

                            A FLOATING CITY


                          THE BLOCKADE RUNNERS


                              JULES VERNE


                                NEW YORK

                        CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS


                           Table of contents.

                        Part 1: A Floating City
             Chapter I.                                        1
             Chapter II.                                       6
             Chapter III.                                     14
             Chapter IV.                                      20
             Chapter V.                                       24
             Chapter VI.                                      28
             Chapter VII.                                     35
             Chapter VIII.                                    39
             Chapter IX.                                      47
             Chapter X.                                       52
             Chapter XI.                                      62
             Chapter XII.                                     65
             Chapter XIII.                                    71
             Chapter XIV.                                     75
             Chapter XV.                                      78
             Chapter XVI.                                     81
             Chapter XVII.                                    87
             Chapter XVIII.                                   90
             Chapter XIX.                                     94
             Chapter XX.                                      99
             Chapter XXI.                                    104
             Chapter XXII.                                   109
             Chapter XXIII.                                  115
             Chapter XXIV.                                   118
             Chapter XXV.                                    124
             Chapter XXVI.                                   129
             Chapter XXVII.                                  133
             Chapter XXVIII.                                 136
             Chapter XXIX.                                   140
             Chapter XXX.                                    145
             Chapter XXXI.                                   148
             Chapter XXXII.                                  152
             Chapter XXXIII.                                 157
             Chapter XXXIV.                                  164
             Chapter XXXV.                                   168
             Chapter XXXVI.                                  172
             Chapter XXXVII.                                 177
             Chapter XXXVIII.                                185
             Chapter XXXIX.                                  193
                     Part 2: The Blockade Runners            197

                         LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

        One would have taken her for a small Island        Frontispiece
        Carpentering, Rigging, and Painting                    6
        Then began the slow interminable Ascent               17
        Every Man at the capstan-bars was knocked down        22
        Soon we came in sight of Queenstown                   29
        Captain Corsican and I bowed                          30
        When a body rolled at my feet                         40
        The waif was the hull of a ship                       49
        “They,” said he, “are people from the Far West”       56
        I often see them leaning over the railings of the     61
        He made an angry gesture, which I arrested            68
        “I see,” said Dr. Pitferge                            76
        A fine-looking young fellow                           85
        His back rounded, and his head muffled in a hood      91
        The Black Lady                                        96
        He treated Drake with supreme contempt               108
        Fabian went near to the cabin doors                  113
        One of the sailors lying unconscious                 122
        A troop of Minstrels                                 130
        “Do you accept that blow?”                           132
        The Prayer for the Dead                              147
        I remained on deck, watching the storm rise          152
        A small schooner was signalled to starboard          153
        I turned, and saw Ellen, pale as death               162
        The fog cleared off                                  174
        Nature has combined everything to astonish the eye   179
        The Cataract falling before us                       187
        “Fabian! Fabian!” cried she, at last                 191
        She plunged into the Clyde                           199
        “The same,” replied the Skipper                      208
        And soon disappeared                                 213
        “Captain!” exclaimed he                              220
        Thank you, sir, thank you                            232
        He saw distinctly                                    235
        The Squall                                           244
        Crockston was examining the horizon attentively      246
        Miss Halliburtt was standing on the poop             251
        “I promise you, Miss Jenny”                          260
        Mr. Halliburtt?                                      271
        Jenny fell into her father’s arms                    275
        He took the shell                                    282
        “Well, Uncle Vincent”                                286

                            A FLOATING CITY.


                               CHAPTER I.

On the 18th of March, 1867, I arrived at Liverpool, intending to take a
berth simply as an amateur traveller on board the “Great Eastern,” which
in a few days was to sail for New York. I had sometimes thought of
paying a visit to North America, and was now tempted to cross the
Atlantic on board this gigantic boat. First of all the “Great Eastern,”
then the country celebrated by Cooper.

This steam-ship is indeed a masterpiece of naval construction; more than
a vessel, it is a floating city, part of the country, detached from
English soil, which after having crossed the sea, unites itself to the
American Continent. I pictured to myself this enormous bulk borne on the
waves, her defiant struggle with the wind, her boldness before the
powerless sea, her indifference to the billows, her stability in the
midst of that element which tosses “Warriors” and “Solferinos” like
ship’s boats. But my imagination carried me no farther; all these things
I did indeed see during the passage, and many others which do not
exclusively belong to the maritime domain. If the “Great Eastern” is not
merely a nautical engine, but rather a microcosm, and carries a small
world with it, an observer will not be astonished to meet here, as on a
larger theatre, all the instincts, follies, and passions of human

On leaving the station, I went to the Adelphi Hotel. The “Great Eastern”
was announced to sail on the 20th of March, and as I wished to witness
the last preparations, I asked permission of Captain Anderson, the
commander, to take my place on board immediately, which permission he
very obligingly granted.

The next day I went down towards the basins which form a double line of
docks on the banks of the Mersey. The gate-keepers allowed me to go on
to Prince’s Landing-Stage, a kind of movable raft which rises and falls
with the tide, and is a landing place for the numerous boats which run
between Liverpool, and the opposite town of Birkenhead on the left bank
of the Mersey.

The Mersey, like the Thames, is only an insignificant stream, unworthy
the name of river, although it falls into the sea.

It is an immense depression of the land filled with water, in fact
nothing more than a hole, the depth of which allows it to receive ships
of the heaviest tonnage, such as the “Great Eastern,” to which almost
every other port in the world is closed. Thanks to this natural
condition, the streams of the Thames and the Mersey have seen two
immense commercial cities, London and Liverpool, built almost at their
mouths, and from a similar cause has Glasgow arisen on the Clyde.

At Prince’s Landing-Stage, a small tug in the service of the “Great
Eastern” was getting up steam. I went on board and found it already
crowded with workmen and mechanics. As the clock in Victoria Tower
struck seven, the tender left her moorings and quickly ascended the
Mersey with the rising tide.

Scarcely had we started, when I saw on the quay a tall young man, with
that aristocratic look which so distinguishes the English officer. I
thought I recognized in him a friend whom I had not seen for several
years, a captain in the Indian army; but I must have been mistaken, for
Captain Mac Elwin could not have left Bombay, as I ought to have known,
besides Mac Elwin was a gay, careless fellow, and a jovial companion,
but this person, if he resembled him in feature, seemed melancholy, and
as though burdened with a secret grief. Be it as it may, I had not time
to observe him more closely, for the tender was moving rapidly away, and
the impression founded on this resemblance soon vanished from my mind.

The “Great Eastern” was anchored about three miles up the river, at a
depth equal to the height of the tallest houses in Liverpool. She was
not to be seen from Prince’s Stage, but I caught a glimpse of her
imposing bulk from the first bend in the river.

One would have taken her for a small island, hardly discernible in the
mist. She appeared with her bows towards us, having swung round with the
tide; but soon the tender altered her course, and the whole length of
the steam-ship was presented to our view; she seemed what in fact she
was—enormous! Three or four colliers alongside were pouring their
cargoes of coal into her port-holes. Beside the “Great Eastern,” these
three-mast ships looked like barges; their chimneys did not even reach
the first line of light-ports in her hull; the yards of their
gallant-sails did not come up to her bulwarks. The giant could have
hoisted these ships on its davits like shore-boats.

Meanwhile the tender approached the “Great Eastern,” whose chains were
violently strained by the pressure of the tide, and ranged up to the
foot of an immense winding staircase, on the larboard side. In this
position the deck of the tender was only on a level with the load
water-line of the steam-ship, to which line she would be depressed when
in full cargo, and which still emerged two yards.

The workmen were now hurriedly disembarking and clambering up the
numerous steps which terminated at the fore-part of the ship. I, with
head upturned, and my body thrown back, surveyed the wheels of the
“Great Eastern,” like a tourist looking up at a high edifice.

Seen from the side, these wheels looked narrow and contracted, although
their paddles were four yards broad, but in front they had a monumental
aspect. Their elegant fittings, the arrangements of the whole plan, the
stays crossing each other to support the division of the triple centre
rim, the radius of red spokes, the machinery half lost in the shadow of
the wide paddle-boards, all this impressed the mind, and awakened an
idea of some gigantic and mysterious power.

With what force must these wooden paddles strike the waves which are now
gently breaking over them! what a boiling of water when this powerful
engine strikes it blow after blow! what a thundering noise engulfed in
this paddle-box cavern! when the “Great Eastern” goes at full speed,
under the pressure of wheels measuring fifty-three feet in diameter and
166 in circumference, weighing ninety tons, and making eleven
revolutions a minute. The tender had disembarked her crew; I stepped on
to the fluted iron steps, and in a few minutes had crossed the fore-part
of the “Great Eastern.”

                              CHAPTER II.

The deck was still nothing but an immense timber-yard given up to an
army of workmen. I could not believe I was on board a ship. Several
thousand men—workmen, crew, engineers, officers, mechanics,
lookers-on—mingled and jostled together without the least concern, some
on deck, others in the engine-room; here pacing the upper decks, there
scattered in the rigging, all in an indescribable pell-mell. Here
fly-wheel cranes were raising enormous pieces of cast-iron, there heavy
joists were hoisted by steam-windlasses; above the engine-rooms an iron
cylinder, a metal shaft in fact, was balanced. At the bows, the yards
creaked as the sails were hoisted; at the stern rose a scaffolding
which, doubtless, concealed some building in construction. Building,
fixing, carpentering, rigging, and painting, were going on in the midst
of the greatest disorder.


My luggage was already on board. I asked to see Captain Anderson, and
was told that he had not yet arrived; but one of the stewards undertook
to install me, and had my packages carried to one of the aft-cabins.

“My good fellow,” said I to him, “the ‘Great Eastern’ was announced to
sail on the 20th of March, but is it possible that we can be ready in
twenty-four hours? Can you tell me when we may expect to leave

But in this respect the steward knew no more than I did, and he left me
to myself. I then made up my mind to visit all the ins and outs of this
immense ant-hill, and began my walk like a tourist in a foreign town. A
black mire—that British mud which is so rarely absent from the pavement
of English towns—covered the deck of the steam-ship; dirty gutters wound
here and there. One might have thought oneself in the worst part of
Upper Thames Street, near London Bridge. I walked on, following the
upper decks towards the stern. Stretching on either side were two wide
streets, or rather boulevards, filled with a compact crowd; thus
walking, I came to the centre of the steam-ship between the paddles,
united by a double set of bridges.

Here opened the pit containing the machinery of the paddle-wheels, and I
had an opportunity of looking at this admirable locomotive engine. About
fifty workmen were scattered on the metallic skylights, some clinging to
the long suction-pumps fixing the eccentric wheels, others hanging on
the cranks riveting iron wedges with enormous wrenches. After having
cast a rapid glance over these fitting works, I continued my walk till I
reached the bows, where the carpenters were finishing the decoration of
a large saloon called the “smoking-room,” a magnificent apartment with
fourteen windows; the ceiling white and gold, and wainscoted with
lemon-coloured panels. Then, after having crossed a small triangular
space at the bows, I reached the stem, which descends perpendicularly
into the water.

Turning round from this extreme point, through an opening in the mists,
I saw the stern of the “Great Eastern” at a distance of more than two
hundred yards.

I returned by the boulevards on the starboard side, avoiding contact
with the swaying pulleys and the ropes of the rigging, lashed in all
directions by the wind; now keeping out of the way, here of the blows of
a fly-wheel crane, and further on, of the flaming scoria which were
showering from a forge like a display of fireworks. I could hardly see
the tops of the masts, two hundred feet in height, which lost themselves
in the mist, increased by the black smoke from the tenders and colliers.

After having passed the great hatchway of the engine-rooms, I observed a
“small hotel” on my left, and then the spacious side walls of a palace
surmounted by a terrace, the railings of which were being varnished. At
last I reached the stern of the steam-ship, and the place I had already
noticed where the scaffolding was erected. Here between the last small
deck cabin and the enormous gratings of the hatchways, above which rose
the four wheels of the rudder, some engineers had just finished placing
a steam-engine. The engine was composed of two horizontal cylinders, and
presented a system of pinions, levers, and blocks which seemed to me
very complicated. I did not understand at first for what it was
intended, but it appeared that here, as everywhere else, the
preparations were far from complete.

And now, why all these delays? Why so many new arrangements on board the
“Great Eastern,” a comparatively new ship? The reason may be explained
in a few words.

After twenty passages from England to America, one of which was marked
by very serious disasters, the use of the “Great Eastern” was
temporarily abandoned, and this immense ship, arranged to accommodate
passengers, seemed no longer good for anything. When the first attempt
to lay the Atlantic cable had failed,—partly because the number of ships
which carried it was insufficient—engineers thought of the “Great
Eastern.” She alone could store on board the 2100 miles of metallic
wire, weighing 4500 tons. She alone, thanks to her perfect indifference
to the sea, could unroll and immerse this immense cable. But special
arrangements were necessary for storing away the cable in the ship’s
hold. Two out of six boilers were removed, and one chimney out of three
belonging to the screw engine; in their places large tanks were placed
for the cable, which was immersed in water to preserve it from the
effects of variation of the atmosphere; the wire thus passed from these
tanks of water into the sea without suffering the least contact with the

The laying of the cable having been successfully accomplished, and the
object in view attained, the “Great Eastern” was once more left in her
costly idleness. A French company, called the “Great Eastern Company,
Limited,” was floated with a capital of 2,000,000 francs, with the
intention of employing the immense ship for the conveyance of passengers
across the Atlantic. Thus the reason for rearranging the ship to this
purpose, and the consequent necessity of filling up the tanks and
replacing the boilers, of enlarging the saloons in which so many people
were to live during the voyage, and of building extra dining saloons,
finally the arrangement of a thousand berths in the sides of the
gigantic hull.

The “Great Eastern” was freighted to the amount of 25,000 francs a
month. Two contracts were arranged with G. Forrester and Co., of
Liverpool, the first to the amount of 538,750 francs, for making new
boilers for the screw; the second to the amount of 662,500 francs for
general repairs, and fixings on board.

Before entering upon the last undertaking, the Board of Trade required
that the ship’s hull should undergo a strict examination. This costly
operation accomplished, a long crack in her exterior plates was
carefully repaired at a great expense, and the next proceeding was to
fix the new boilers; the driving main-shaft of the wheels, which had
been damaged during the last voyage, had to be replaced by a shaft,
provided with two eccentric wheels, which insured the solidity of this
important part. And now for the first time the “Great Eastern” was to be
steered by steam.

It was for this delicate operation that the engineers intended the
engine which they had placed at the stern. The steersman standing on the
bridge between the signal apparatus of the wheels and the screw, has
before his eyes a dial provided with a moving needle, which tells him
every moment the position of his rudder. In order to modify it, he has
only to press his hand lightly on a small wheel, measuring hardly a foot
in diameter, and placed within his reach. Immediately the valves open,
the steam from the boilers rushes along the conducting tubes into the
two cylinders of the small engine, the pistons move rapidly, and the
rudder instantly obeys. If this plan succeeds, a man will be able to
direct the gigantic body of the “Great Eastern” with one finger.

For five days operations continued with distracting activity. These
delays considerably affected the enterprise of the freighters, but the
contractors could do no more. The day for setting sail was irrevocably
settled for the 26th of March. The 25th still saw the deck strewn with
all kinds of tools.

During this last day, however, little by little the gangways were
cleared, the scaffoldings were taken down, the fly-wheel cranes
disappeared, the fixing of the engines was accomplished, the last screws
and nails were driven in, the reservoirs filled with oil, and the last
slab rested on its metal mortise. This day the chief engineer tried the
boilers. The engine-rooms were full of steam; leaning over the hatchway,
enveloped in a hot mist, I could see nothing, but I heard the long
pistons groaning, and the huge cylinders noisily swaying to and fro on
their solid swing blocks. The muddy waters of the Mersey were lashed
into foam by the slowly revolving paddle-wheels; at the stern, the screw
beat the waves with its four blades; the two engines, entirely
independent of each other, were in complete working order.

Towards five o’clock a small steamer, intended as a shore-boat for the
“Great Eastern,” came alongside. Her movable engine was first hoisted on
board by means of windlasses, but as for the steamer herself, she could
not be embarked. Her steel hull was so heavy that the davits to which it
was attached bent under the weight, undoubtedly this would not have
occurred had they supported them with lifts. Therefore they were obliged
to abandon the steamer, but there still remained on the “Great Eastern”
a string of sixteen boats hanging to the davits.

Everything was finished by evening; not a trace of mud was visible on
the well-swept boulevards, for an army of sweepers had been at work.
There was a full cargo; provisions, goods, and coal filled the stewards’
room, the store, and the coal houses. However, the steamer had not yet
sunk to the load water-line, and did not draw the necessary thirty-three
feet. It was an inconvenient position for the wheels, for the paddles
not being sufficiently immersed, caused a great diminution in the speed.

Nevertheless it was possible to set sail, and I went to bed with the
hope of starting next day. I was not disappointed, for at break of dawn
I saw the English, French, and American flags floating from the masts.

                              CHAPTER III.

The “Great Eastern” was indeed preparing to sail. Already volumes of
black smoke were issuing from the five chimneys, and hot steam filled
the engine-rooms. Some sailors were brightening up the four great
fog-cannons which were to salute Liverpool as we sailed by. The top-men
climbed the yards, disentangled the rigging, and tightened the shrouds
on the thick ropes fastened to the barricades. About eleven o’clock the
carpenters and painters put the finishing touches to their work, and
then embarked on board the tender which awaited them. As soon as there
was a sufficient pressure, the steam rushed into the cylinders of the
rudder engine, and the engineers had the pleasure of seeing that this
ingenious contrivance was an entire success.

The weather was fine, with bright gleams of sunshine darting through the
rapidly-moving clouds. There must have been a strong breeze at sea, but
we did not feel it.

The officers were all dispersed about the deck, making preparations for
getting under sail. The ship’s officers were composed of the Captain,
the first officer, two assistant officers, five lieutenants, of whom one
was a Frenchman, M. H——, and a volunteer who was also French.

Captain Anderson holds a high place in the commercial marine of England.
It is to him we are indebted for the laying of the Transatlantic cable,
though it is true that if he succeeded where his predecessors had
failed, it was because he worked under more favourable circumstances,
having the “Great Eastern” at his command. Be it as it may, his success
gained for him the title of “Sir.” I found him to be a very agreeable
commander. He was a man of about fifty years of age, with that tawny
complexion which remains unchanged by weather or age; a thorough
Englishman, with a tall figure, a broad smiling face, and merry eyes;
walking with a quiet dignified step, his hands never in his pockets,
always irreproachably gloved and elegantly dressed, and invariably with
a little piece of his white handkerchief peeping out of the pocket of
his blue and gold-laced overcoat.

The first officer presented a singular contrast to Captain Anderson, and
his appearance is easily described:—an active little man, with a very
sunburnt skin, a black beard almost covering his face, and legs which
defied every lurch of the vessel. A skilful, energetic seaman, he gave
his orders in a clear, decided tone, the boatswain repeating them with a
voice like the roaring of a hoarse lion. The second officer’s name was
W——: I think he was a naval officer, on board the “Great Eastern” by
special permission; he had all the appearance of a regular “Jack-tar.”

Besides the ship officers, the engines were under the command of a chief
engineer, assisted by eight or ten engineering officers, and a battalion
of two hundred and fifty men, some stokers, others oilers, who hardly
ever left the engine-rooms.

This army of men was well occupied night and day, having ten boilers
with ten furnaces and about a hundred fires to attend to.

As for the crew of the steam-ship proper, what with quartermasters,
top-men, steersmen, and cabin-boys, it comprised about one hundred men,
and besides these, there were two hundred stewards employed for serving
the passengers.

Every man was at his post; the pilot who was to conduct the vessel out
of the Mersey had been on board since the evening before. I saw also a
French pilot, who was to make the passage with us, and on her return to
take the steam-ship into anchorage at Brest.

“I begin to think we shall sail to-day,” said I to Lieutenant H—.

“We are only waiting for our passengers,” replied my countryman.

“Are there many?”

“Twelve or thirteen hundred.”

At half-past eleven the tender was hailed, laden with passengers, who,
as I afterwards learnt, were Californians, Canadians, Americans,
Peruvians, English, Germans, and two or three Frenchmen. Among the most
distinguished were the celebrated Cyrus Field of New York, the
Honourable John Rose of Canada, the Honourable J. Mac Alpine of New
York, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Cohen of San Francisco, Mr. and Mrs. Whitney
of Montreal, Captain Mc Ph—— and his wife. Among the French was the
founder of the “Great Eastern Freight Company,” M. Jules D——,
representative of the “Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company,”
who had made a contribution of twenty thousand pounds to the fund.

The tender ranged herself at the foot of a flight of steps, and then
began the slow, interminable ascent of passengers and luggage.

The first care of each passenger, when he had once set foot on the
steamer, was to go and secure his place in the dining-room; his card, or
his name written on a scrap of paper, was enough to insure his


I remained on deck in order to notice all the details of embarkation. At
half-past twelve the luggage was all on board, and I saw thousands of
packages of every description, from chests large enough to contain a
suite of furniture, to elegant little travelling-cases and fanciful
American and English trunks, heaped together pell-mell. All these were
soon cleared from the deck, and stowed away in the store-rooms; workmen
and porters returned to the tender, which steered off, after having
blackened the side of the “Great Eastern” with her smoke.

I was going back towards the bows, when suddenly I found myself face to
face with the young man I had seen on Prince’s Landing-Stage. He stopped
on seeing me, and held out his hand, which I warmly shook.

“You, Fabian!” I cried. “You here?”

“Even so, my dear friend.”

“I was not mistaken, then; it was really you I saw on the quay a day or
two since.”

“It is most likely,” replied Fabian, “but I did not see you.”

“And you are going to America?”

“Certainly! Do you think I could spend a month’s leave better than in

“How fortunate that you thought of making your tour in the ‘Great

“It was not chance at all, my dear fellow. I read in the newspaper that
you were one of the passengers; and as we have not met for some years
now, I came on board, in order to make the passage with you.”

“Have you come from India?”

“Yes, by the ‘Godavery,’ which arrived at Liverpool the day before

“And you are travelling, Fabian?” I asked, noticing his pale, sad face.

“To divert my mind, if I can,” interrupted Captain Mac Elwin, warmly
pressing my hand.

                              CHAPTER IV.

Fabian left me, to look for his cabin, which, according to the ticket he
held in his hand, was number seventy-three of the grand saloon series.
At this moment large volumes of smoke curled from the chimneys; the
steam hissed with a deafening noise through the escape-pipes, and fell
in a fine rain over the deck; a noisy eddying of water announced that
the engines were at work. We were at last going to start.

First of all the anchor had to be raised. The “Great Eastern” swung
round with the tide; all was now clear, and Captain Anderson was obliged
to choose this moment to set sail, for the width of the “Great Eastern”
did not allow of her turning round in the Mersey. He was more master of
his ship and more certain of guiding her skilfully in the midst of the
numerous boats always plying on the river when stemming the rapid
current than when driven by the ebb-tide; the least collision with this
gigantic body would have proved disastrous.

To weigh anchor under these circumstances required considerable
exertion, for the pressure of the tide stretched the chains by which the
ship was moored, and besides this, a strong south-wester blew with full
force on her hull, so that it required powerful engines to hoist the
heavy anchors from their muddy beds. An anchor-boat, intended for this
purpose, had just stoppered on the chains, but the windlasses were not
sufficiently powerful, and they were obliged to use the steam apparatus
which the “Great Eastern” had at her disposal.

At the bows was an engine of sixty-six horse-power. In order to raise
the anchors it was only necessary to send the steam from the boilers
into its cylinders to obtain immediately a considerable power, which
could be directly applied to the windlass on which the chains were
fastened. This was done; but powerful as it was, this engine was found
insufficient, and fifty of the crew were set to turn the capstan with
bars, thus the anchors were gradually drawn in, but it was slow work.

I was on the poop at the bows with several other passengers at this
moment, watching the details of departure. Near me stood a traveller,
who frequently shrugged his shoulders impatiently, and did not spare
disparaging jokes on the tardiness of the work. He was a thin, nervous
little man, with quick, restless eyes: a physiognomist could easily see
that the things of this life always appeared on their funny side to this
philosopher of Democrates school, for his risible muscles were never
still for a moment; but without describing him further, I need only say
I found him a very pleasant fellow-traveller.

“I thought until now, sir,” said he to me, “that engines were made to
help men, not men to help engines.”

I was going to reply to this wise observation, when there was a loud
cry, and immediately my companion and I were hurled towards the bows;
every man at the capstan-bars was knocked down; some got up again,
others lay scattered on the deck. A catch had broken, and the capstan
being forced round by the frightful pressure of the chains, the men,
caught by the rebound, were struck violently on the head and chest.
Freed from their broken rope-bands, the capstan-bars flew in all
directions like grape-shot, killing four sailors, and wounding twelve
others; among the latter was the boatswain, a Scotchman from Dundee.

The spectators hurried towards the unfortunate men, the wounded were
taken to the hospital at the stern; as for the four already dead,
preparations were immediately made to send them on shore: so lightly do
Anglo-Saxons regard death, that this event made very little impression
on board. These unhappy men, killed and wounded, were only tools, which
could be replaced at very little expense. The tender, already some
distance off, was hailed, and in a few minutes she was alongside.


I went towards the fore-part of the vessel, the staircase had not yet
been raised. The four corpses, enveloped in coverings, were let down,
and placed on the deck of the tender. One of the surgeons on board
embarked to go with them to Liverpool, with injunctions to rejoin the
“Great Eastern” as quickly as possible. The tender immediately sheered
off, and the sailors went to the bows, to wash the stains of blood from
the deck.

I ought to add that one of the passengers, slightly wounded by the
breaking of the pinion, took advantage of this circumstance to leave by
the tender; he had already had enough of the “Great Eastern.”

I watched the little boat going off full steam, and, turning round, I
heard my ironical fellow-traveller mutter,—

“A good beginning for a voyage!”

“A very bad one, sir,” said I. “To whom have I the honour of speaking?”

“To Dr. Dean Pitferge.”

                               CHAPTER V.

The work of weighing anchors was resumed; with the help of the
anchor-boat the chains were eased, and the anchors at last left their
tenacious depths. A quarter past one sounded from the Birkenhead
clock-towers, the moment of departure could not be deferred, if it was
intended to make use of the tide. The captain and pilot went on the
foot-bridge; one lieutenant placed himself near the screw-signal
apparatus, another near that of the paddle-wheel, in case of the failure
of the steam-engine; four other steersmen watched at the stern, ready to
put in action the great wheels placed on the gratings of the hatchings.
The “Great Eastern,” making head against the current, was now only
waiting to descend the river with the ebb-tide.

The order for departure was given, the paddles slowly struck the water,
the screw bubbled at the stern, and the enormous vessel began to move.

The greater part of the passengers on the poop were gazing at the double
landscape of Liverpool and Birkenhead, studded with manufactory
chimneys. The Mersey, covered with ships, some lying at anchor, others
ascending and descending the river, offered only a winding passage for
our steam-ship. But under the hand of a pilot, sensible to the least
inclinations of her rudder, she glided through the narrow passages, like
a whale-boat beneath the oar of a vigorous steersman. At one time I
thought that we were going to run foul of a brig, which was drifting
across the stream, her bows nearly grazing the hull of the “Great
Eastern,” but a collision was avoided, and when from the height of the
upper deck I looked at this ship, which was not of less than seven or
eight hundred tons burden, she seemed to me no larger than the tiny
boats which children play with on the lakes of Regent’s Park or the
Serpentine. It was not long before the “Great Eastern” was opposite the
Liverpool landing-stages, but the four cannons which were to have
saluted the town, were silent out of respect to the dead, for the tender
was disembarking them at this moment; however, loud hurrahs replaced the
reports which are the last expressions of national politeness.
Immediately there was a vigorous clapping of hands and waving of
handkerchiefs, with all the enthusiasm with which the English hail the
departure of every vessel, be it only a simple yacht sailing round a
bay. But with what shouts they were answered! what echoes they called
forth from the quays! There were thousands of spectators on both the
Liverpool and Birkenhead sides, and boats laden with sight-seers swarmed
on the Mersey. The sailors manning the yards of the “Lord Clyde,” lying
at anchor opposite the docks, saluted the giant with their hearty

But even the noise of the cheering could not drown the frightful discord
of several bands playing at the same time. Flags were incessantly
hoisted in honour of the “Great Eastern,” but soon the cries grew faint
in the distance. Our steam-ship ranged near the “Tripoli,” a Cunard
emigrant-boat, which in spite of her 2000 tons burden looked like a mere
barge; then the houses grew fewer and more scattered on both shores, the
landscape was no longer blackened with smoke; and brick walls, with the
exception of some long regular buildings intended for workmen’s houses,
gave way to the open country, with pretty villas dotted here and there.
Our last salutation reached us from the platform of the lighthouse and
the walls of the bastion.

At three o’clock the “Great Eastern” had crossed the bar of the Mersey,
and shaped her course down St. George’s Channel. There was a strong
sou’wester blowing, and a heavy swell on the sea, but the steam-ship did
not feel it.

Towards four o’clock the Captain gave orders to heave to; the tender put
on full steam to rejoin us, as she was bringing back the doctor. When
the boat came alongside a rope-ladder was thrown out, by which he
ascended, not without some difficulty. Our more agile pilot slid down by
the same way into his boat, which was awaiting him, each rower provided
with a cork jacket. Some minutes after he went on board a charming
little schooner waiting to catch the breeze.

Our course was immediately continued; under the pressure of the paddles
and the screw, the speed of the “Great Eastern” greatly increased; in
spite of the wind ahead, she neither rolled nor pitched. Soon the shades
of night stretched across the sea, and Holyhead Point was lost in the

                              CHAPTER VI.

The next day, the 27th of March, the “Great Eastern” coasted along the
deeply-indented Irish shore. I had chosen my cabin at the bows; it was a
small room well lighted by two skylights. A second row of cabins
separated it from the first saloon, so that neither the noise of
conversation, nor the rattling of pianos, which were not wanting on
board, could reach me. It was an isolated cabin; the furniture consisted
of a sofa, a bedstead, and a toilet-table.

The next morning at seven o’clock, having crossed the first two rooms, I
went on deck. A few passengers were already pacing the upper decks; an
almost imperceptible swell balanced the steamer; the wind, however, was
high, but the sea, protected by the coast, was comparatively calm.

From the poop of the smoking-room, I perceived that long line of shore,
the continual verdure of which has won for it the name of “Emerald
Coast.” A few solitary houses, a string of tide-waiters, a wreath of
white smoke curling from between two hills, indicating the passing of a
train, an isolated signal-post making grimacing gestures to the vessels
at large, here and there animated the scene.

The sea between us and the coast was of a dull green shade; there was a
fresh breeze blowing, mists floated above the water like spray. Numerous
vessels, brigs and schooners, were awaiting the tide; steamers puffing
away their black smoke were soon distanced by the “Great Eastern,”
although she was going at a very moderate speed.

Soon we came in sight of Queenstown, a small “calling-place,” before
which several fishermen’s boats were at work. It is here that all ships
bound for Liverpool, whether steamers or sailing-ships, throw out their
despatch-bags, which are carried to Dublin in a few hours by an express
train always in readiness. From Dublin they are conveyed across the
channel to Holyhead by a fast steamer, so that despatches thus sent are
one day in advance of the most rapid Transatlantic steamers.


About nine o’clock the bearings of the “Great Eastern” were
west-north-west. I was just going on deck, when I met Captain Mac Elwin,
accompanied by a friend, a tall, robust man, with a light beard and long
moustache which mingled with the whiskers and left the chin bare, after
the fashion of the day. This tall fellow was the exact type of an
English officer; his figure was erect without stiffness, his look calm,
his walk dignified but easy; his whole appearance seemed to indicate
unusual courage, and I was not mistaken in him.

“My friend, Archibald Corsican,” said Fabian to me, “a captain in the
22nd regiment of the Indian army, like myself.”

Thus introduced, Captain Corsican and I bowed.


“We hardly saw each other yesterday, Fabian,” said I, shaking Captain
Mac Elwin’s hand, “we were in the bustle of departure, so that all I
know about you is that it was not chance which brought you on board the
‘Great Eastern.’ I must confess that if I have anything to do with your

“Undoubtedly, my dear fellow,” interrupted Fabian; “Captain Corsican and
I came to Liverpool with the intention of taking our berths on board the
‘China,’ a Cunard steamer, when we heard that the ‘Great Eastern’ was
going to attempt another passage from England to America; it was a
chance we might not get again, and learning that you were on board I did
not hesitate, as I had not seen you since we took that delightful trip
in the Scandinavian States three years ago; so now you know how it was
that the tender brought us here yesterday.”

“My dear Fabian,” I replied, “I believe that neither Captain Corsican
nor yourself will regret your decision, as a passage across the Atlantic
in this huge boat cannot fail to be interesting even to you who are so
little used to the sea. But now let us talk about yourself. Your last
letter, and it is not more than six weeks since I received it, bore the
Bombay post-mark, so that I was justified in believing you were still
with your regiment.”

“We were so three weeks ago,” said Fabian, “leading the half-military,
half-country life of Indian officers, employing most of our time in
hunting; my friend here is a famed tiger-killer; however, as we are both
single and without family ties, we thought we would let the poor wild
beasts of the peninsula rest for a time, while we came to Europe to
breathe a little of our native air. We obtained a year’s leave, and
travelling by way of the Red Sea, Suez, and France, we reached Old
England with the utmost possible speed.”

“Old England,” said Captain Corsican, smiling; “we are there no longer,
Fabian; we are on board an English ship, but it is freighted by a French
company, and it is taking us to America; three different flags float
over our heads, signifying that we are treading on Franco-Anglo-American

“What does it matter,” replied Fabian, and a painful expression passed
over his face; “what does it matter, so long as it whiles away the time?
‘Movement is life;’ and it is well to be able to forget the past, and
kill the present by continual change. In a few days I shall be at New
York, where I hope to meet again my sister and her children, whom I have
not seen for several years; then we shall visit the great lakes, and
descend the Mississippi as far as New Orleans, where we shall look for
sport on the Amazon. From America we are going to Africa, where the
lions and elephants will make the Cape their ‘rendezvous,’ in order to
celebrate the arrival of Captain Corsican. Finally, we shall return and
impose on the Sepoys the caprices of the metropolis.”

Fabian spoke with a nervous volubility, and his breast heaved; evidently
there was some great grief weighing on his mind, the cause of which I
was as yet ignorant of, but with which Archibald seemed to be well
acquainted. He evinced a warm friendship for Fabian, who was several
years younger than himself, treating him like a younger brother, with a
devotion which at times almost amounted to heroism.

At this moment our conversation was interrupted by the sound of a horn,
which announced the half-past twelve lunch. Four times a day, to the
great satisfaction of the passengers, this shrill horn sounded: at
half-past eight for breakfast, half-past twelve for lunch, four o’clock
for dinner, and at seven for tea. In a few minutes the long streets were
deserted, and soon the tables in the immense saloons were filled with
guests. I succeeded in getting a place near Fabian and Captain Corsican.

The dining-rooms were provided with four long rows of tables; the
glasses and bottles placed in swing-racks kept perfectly steady; the
roll of the steamer was almost imperceptible, so that the guests—men,
women, and children—could eat their lunch without any fear. Numerous
waiters were busy carrying round the tastily-arranged dishes, and
supplying the demands for wine and beer; the Californians certainly
distinguished themselves by their proclivities for champagne. Near her
husband sat an old laundress, who had found gold in the San Francisco
washing-tubs, emptying a bottle of champagne in no time; two or three
pale, delicate-looking young ladies were eagerly devouring slices of red
beef; and others discussing with evident satisfaction the merits of
rhubarb tart, &c. Every one worked away in the highest spirits; one
could have fancied oneself at a restaurant in the middle of Paris
instead of the open sea.

Lunch over, the decks were again filled; people bowed and spoke to each
other in passing as formally as if they were walking in Hyde Park;
children played and ran about, throwing their balls and bowling hoops as
they might have done on the gravel walks of the Tuileries; the greater
part of the men walked up and down smoking; the ladies, seated on
folding-chairs, worked, read, or talked together, whilst the governesses
and nurses looked after the children. A few corpulent Americans swung
themselves backwards and forwards in their rocking-chairs; the ship’s
officers were continually passing to and fro, some going to their watch
on the bridge, others answering the absurd questions put to them by some
of the passengers; whilst the tones of an organ and two or three pianos
making a distracting discord, reached us through the lulls in the wind.

About three o’clock a loud shouting was heard; the passengers crowded on
to the poop; the “Great Eastern” had ranged within two cable-lengths of
a vessel which she had overhauled. It was the “Propontis,” on her way to
New York, which was saluting the giant of the seas on her passage, which
compliment the giant returned.

Land was still in sight at four o’clock, but hardly discernible through
the mist which had suddenly surrounded us. Soon we saw the light of
Fastenet Beacon, situated on an isolated rock. Night set in, during
which we must have doubled Cape Clear, the most southerly point of

                              CHAPTER VII.

I said that the length of the “Great Eastern” exceeded two hectometres.
For the benefit of those partial to comparisons, I will add that it is a
third longer than the “Pont des Arts;” in reality this steam-ship
measures 673 feet at the load water-line, between the perpendiculars;
the upper deck is 680 feet from stem to stern; that is to say, its
length is double that of the largest transatlantic steamers; its width
amidships is about 71 feet, and behind the paddles about 107 feet.

The hull of the “Great Eastern” is proof against the most formidable
seas; it is double, and is composed of a number of cells placed between
the deck and hold; besides these, thirteen compartments, separated by
water-tight partitions, increase the security against fire or the inlet
of water. Ten thousand tons of iron were used in the construction of
this hull, and 3,000,000 rivets secured the iron plates on her sides.

The “Great Eastern” draws 30 feet of water with a cargo of 28,500 tons,
and with a light cargo, from 20 to 30 feet. She is capable of receiving
10,000 passengers, so that out of the 373 principal districts in France,
274 are less populated than this floating sub-prefecture with its
average number of passengers.

The lines of the “Great Eastern” are very elongated; her straight stem
is pierced with hawse-holes, through which the anchor-chains pass; no
signs of dents or protuberances are to be seen on her finely-cut bows,
but the slight sweep of her rounded stern somewhat mars the general

From the deck rise six masts and five chimneys. The three masts in front
are the “fore-gigger” and the “fore-mast” (both of them mizen-masts) and
the “main-mast.” The last three astern are the “after-main-mast,”
“mizen-mast,” and “after-gigger.” The fore-masts and the main-masts
carry the schooner-sails, the top-sails, and the gallant-sails; the four
other masts are only rigged with ordinary sails; the whole forming 5400
square yards of good canvas. On the spacious mastheads of the second and
third masts a band of soldiers could easily manœuvre. Of these six
masts, supported by shrouds and metallic back-stays, the second, third,
and fourth are made of sheet-iron, and are really masterpieces of
ironwork. At the base they measure 43 inches in diameter, and the
largest (the main-mast) rises to the height of 207 French feet, which is
higher than the towers of Notre Dame.

As to the chimneys, the two belonging to the paddle-engine and the three
belonging to the screw, they are enormous cylinders, 90 feet high,
supported by chains fastened to the upper deck.

The arrangements with regard to the interior are admirable. The
laundries and the crew’s berths are shut off at the fore-part, then come
the ladies’ saloon and a grand saloon ornamented with lustres, swinging
lamps, and pictures. These magnificent rooms are lighted by side
skylights, supported on elegant-gilded pillars, and communicate with the
upper deck by wide staircases with metallic steps and mahogany

On deck are arranged four rows of cabins separated by a passage, some
are reached by a landing, others on a lower story by private staircases.
At the stern the three immense dining-rooms run in the same direction as
the cabins, a passage leads from the saloons at the stern to those at
the bows round the paddle-engine, between its sheet-iron partitions and
the ship’s offices.

The engines of the “Great Eastern” are justly considered as
masterpieces—I was going to say of clock-work, for there is nothing more
astonishing than to see this enormous machine working with the precision
and ease of a clock, a singular contrast to the screw, which works
rapidly and furiously, as though getting itself into a rage.

Independently of these two engines, the “Great Eastern” possesses six
auxiliary ones to work the capstans, so that it is evident steam plays
an important part on board.

Such is this steam-ship, without equal and known everywhere; which,
however, did not hinder a French captain from making this _naïve_ remark
in his log-book: “Passed a ship with six masts and five chimneys,
supposed to be the ‘Great Eastern.’”

                             CHAPTER VIII.

On Wednesday night the weather was very bad, my balance was strangely
variable, and I was obliged to lean with my knees and elbows against the
sideboard, to prevent myself from falling. Portmanteaus and bags came in
and out of my cabin; an unusual hubbub reigned in the adjoining saloon,
in which two or three hundred packages were making expeditions from one
end to the other, knocking the tables and chairs with loud crashes;
doors slammed, the boards creaked, the partitions made that groaning
noise peculiar to pine wood; bottles and glasses jingled together in
their racks, and a cataract of plates and dishes rolled about on the
pantry floors. I heard the irregular roaring of the screw, and the
wheels beating the water, sometimes entirely immersed, and at others
striking the empty air; by all these signs I concluded that the wind had
freshened, and the steam-ship was no longer indifferent to the billows.

At six o’clock next morning, after passing a sleepless night, I got up
and dressed myself, as well as I could with one hand, while with the
other I clutched at the sides of my cabin, for without support it was
impossible to keep one’s feet, and I had quite a serious struggle to get
on my overcoat. I left my cabin, and helping myself with hands and feet
through the billows of luggage, I crossed the saloon, scrambling up the
stairs on my knees, like a Roman peasant devoutly climbing the steps of
the “Scala santa” of Pontius Pilate; and at last, reaching the deck, I
hung on firmly to the nearest kevel.

No land in sight; we had doubled Cape Clear in the night, and around us
was that vast circumference bounded by the line, where water and sky
appear to meet. The slate-coloured sea broke in great foamless billows.
The “Great Eastern” struck amidships, and, supported by no sail, rolled
frightfully, her bare masts describing immense circles in the air. There
was no heaving to speak of, but the rolling was dreadful, it was
impossible to stand upright. The officer on watch, clinging to the
bridge, looked as if he was in a swing.

From kevel to kevel, I managed to reach the paddles on the starboard
side, the deck was damp and slippery from the spray and mist: I was just
going to fasten myself to a stanchion of the bridge when a body rolled
at my feet.


It was Dr. Pitferge, my quaint friend: he scrambled on to his knees, and
looking at me, said,—

“That’s all right, the amplitude of the arc, described by the sides of
the ‘Great Eastern,’ is forty degrees; that is, twenty degrees below the
horizontal, and twenty above it.”

“Indeed!” cried I, laughing, not at the observation, but at the
circumstances under which it was made.

“Yes!” replied the Doctor. “During the oscillation the speed of the
sides is fifty-nine inches per second, a transatlantic boat half the
size takes but the same time to recover her equilibrium.”

“Then,” replied I, “since that is the case, there is an excess of
stability in the ‘Great Eastern.’”

“For her, yes, but not for her passengers,” answered Dean Pitferge
gaily, “for you see they come back to the horizontal quicker than they
care for.”

The Doctor, delighted with his repartee, raised himself, and holding
each other up, we managed to reach a seat on the poop. Dean Pitferge had
come off very well, with only a few bruises, and I congratulated him on
his lucky escape, as he might have broken his neck.

“Oh, it is not over yet,” said he; “there is more trouble coming.”

“To us?”

“To the steamer, and consequently to me, to us, and to all the

“If you are speaking seriously, why did you come on board?”

“To see what is going to happen, for I should not be at all ill-pleased
to witness a shipwreck!” replied the Doctor, looking at me knowingly.

“Is this the first time you have been on board the ‘Great Eastern’?”

“No, I have already made several voyages in her, to satisfy my

“You must not complain, then.”

“I do not complain; I merely state facts, and patiently await the hour
of the catastrophe.”

Was the Doctor making fun of me? I did not know what to think, his small
twinkling eyes looked very roguish; but I thought I would try him

“Doctor,” I said, “I do not know on what facts your painful prognostics
are founded, but allow me to remind you that the ‘Great Eastern’ has
crossed the Atlantic twenty times, and most of her passages have been

“That’s of no consequence; this ship is bewitched, to use a common
expression, she cannot escape her fate; I know it, and therefore have no
confidence in her. Remember what difficulties the engineers had to
launch her; I believe even that Brunel, who built her, died from the
‘effects of the operation,’ as we doctors say.”

“Ah, Doctor,” said I, “are you inclined to be a materialist?”

“Why ask me that question?”

“Because I have noticed that many who do not believe in God believe in
everything else, even in the evil eye.”

“Make fun if you like, sir,” replied the Doctor, “but allow me to
continue my argument. The ‘Great Eastern’ has already ruined several
companies. Built for the purpose of carrying emigrants to Australia, she
has never once been there; intended to surpass the ocean steamers in
speed, she even remains inferior to them.”

“From this,” said I, “it is to be concluded that—”

“Listen a minute,” interrupted the Doctor. “Already one of her captains
has been drowned, and he one of the most skilful, for he knew how to
prevent this rolling by keeping the ship a little ahead of the waves.”

“Ah, well!” said I, “the death of that able man is to be regretted.”

“Then,” continued Dean Pitferge, without noticing my incredulity,
“strange stories are told about this ship; they say that a passenger who
lost his way in the hold of the ship, like a pioneer in the forests of
America, has never yet been found.”

“Ah!” exclaimed I ironically, “there’s a fact!”

“They say, also, that during the construction of the boilers an engineer
was melted by mistake in the steam-box.”

“Bravo!” cried I; “the melted engineer! ‘È ben trovato.’ Do you believe
it, Doctor?”

“I believe,” replied Pitferge, “I believe quite seriously that our
voyage began badly, and that it will end in the same manner.”

“But the ‘Great Eastern’ is a solid structure,” I said, “and built so
firmly that she is able to resist the most furious seas like a solid

“Solid she is, undoubtedly,” resumed the doctor; “but let her fall into
the hollow of the waves, and see if she will rise again. Maybe she is a
giant, but a giant whose strength is not in proportion to her size; her
engines are too feeble for her. Have you ever heard speak of her
nineteenth passage from Liverpool to New York?”

“No, Doctor.”

“Well, I was on board. We left Liverpool on a Tuesday, the 10th of
December; there were numerous passengers, and all full of confidence.
Everything went well so long as we were protected by the Irish coast
from the billows of the open sea; no rolling, no sea-sickness; the next
day, even, the same stability; the passengers were delighted. On the
12th, however, the wind freshened towards morning; the ‘Great Eastern,’
heading the waves, rolled considerably; the passengers, men and women,
disappeared into the cabins. At four o’clock the wind blew a hurricane;
the furniture began to dance; a mirror in the saloon was broken by a
blow from the head of your humble servant; all the crockery was smashed
to atoms; there was a frightful uproar; eight shore-boats were torn from
the davits in one swoop. At this moment our situation was serious; the
paddle-wheel-engine had to be stopped; an enormous piece of lead,
displaced by a lurch of the vessel, threatened to fall into its
machinery; however, the screw continued to send us on. Soon the wheels
began turning again, but very slowly; one of them had been damaged
during the stoppage, and its spokes and paddles scraped the hull of the
ship. The engine had to be stopped again, and we had to content
ourselves with the screw. The night was fearful; the fury of the tempest
was redoubled; the ‘Great Eastern’ had fallen into the trough of the sea
and could not right herself; at break of day there was not a piece of
ironwork remaining on the wheels. They hoisted a few sails in order to
right the ship, but no sooner were they hoisted than they were carried
away; confusion reigned everywhere; the cable-chains, torn from their
beds, rolled from one side of the ship to the other; a cattle-pen was
knocked in, and a cow fell into the ladies’ saloon through the hatchway;
another misfortune was the breaking of the rudder-chock, so that
steering was no longer possible. Frightful crashes were heard; an oil
tank, weighing over three tons, had broken from its fixings, and,
rolling across the tween-decks, struck the sides alternately like a
battering-ram. Saturday passed in the midst of a general terror, the
ship in the trough of the sea all the time. Not until Sunday did the
wind begin to abate, an American engineer on board then succeeded in
fastening the chains on the rudder; we turned little by little, and the
‘Great Eastern’ righted herself. A week after we left Liverpool we
reached Queenstown. Now, who knows, sir, where we shall be in a week?”

                              CHAPTER IX.

It must be confessed the Doctor’s words were not very comforting, the
passengers would not have heard them without shuddering. Was he joking,
or did he speak seriously? Was it, indeed true, that he went with the
“Great Eastern” in all her voyages, to be present at some catastrophe?
Every thing is possible for an eccentric, especially when he is English.

However, the “Great Eastern” continued her course, tossing like a canoe,
and keeping strictly to the loxodromic line of steamers. It is well
known, that on a flat surface, the nearest way from one point to another
is by a straight line. On a sphere it is the curved line formed by the
circumference of great circles. Ships have an interest in following this
route, in order to make the shortest passage, but sailing vessels cannot
pursue this track against a head-wind, so that steamers alone are able
to maintain a direct course, and take the route of the great circles.
This is what the “Great Eastern” did, making a little for the

The rolling never ceased, that horrible sea-sickness, at the same time
contagious and epidemic, made rapid progress. Several of the passengers,
with wan, pallid faces, and sunken cheeks, remained on deck, in order to
breathe the fresh air, the greater part of them were furious at the
unlucky steam-ship, which was conducting herself like a mere buoy, and
at the freighter’s advertisements, which had stated that sea-sickness
was “unknown on board.”

At nine o’clock in the morning an object three or four miles off was
signalled from the larboard quarter. Was it a waif, the carcass of a
whale, or the hull of a ship? As yet it was not distinguishable. A group
of convalescent passengers stood on the upper deck, at the bows, looking
at this waif which was floating three hundred miles from the nearest

Meanwhile the “Great Eastern” was bearing towards the object signalled;
all opera-glasses were promptly raised, and there was no lack of
conjecture. Between the Americans, and English, to whom every pretext
for a wager is welcome, betting at once commenced. Among the most
desperate of the betters I noticed a tall man, whose countenance struck
me as one of profound duplicity. His features were stamped with a look
of general hatred, which neither a physiognomist, nor physiologist could
mistake; his forehead was seamed with a deep furrow, his manner was at
the same time audacious and listless, his eyebrows nearly meeting,
partly concealed the stony eyes beneath, his shoulders were high and his
chin thrust forward, in fact all the indications of insolence and
knavery were united in his appearance. He spoke in loud pompous tones,
while some of his worthy associates laughed at his coarse jokes. This
personage pretended to recognize in the waif the carcass of a whale, and
he backed his opinion by heavy stakes, which soon found ready

These wagers, amounting to several hundred dollars, he lost every one;
in fact, the waif was the hull of a ship; the steamer rapidly drew near
it, and we could already see the rusty copper of her keel. It was a
three-mast ship of about five or six hundred tons, deprived of her masts
and rigging, and lying on one side, with broken chains hanging from her


“Had this steam-ship been abandoned by her crew?” This was now the
prevailing question, however no one appeared on the deck, perhaps the
shipwrecked ones had taken refuge inside. I saw an object moving for
several moments at the bows, but it turned out to be only the remains of
the jib lashed to and fro by the wind.

The hull was quite visible at the distance of half a mile; she was a
comparatively new ship, and in a perfect state of preservation; her
cargo, which had been shifted by the wind, obliged her to lie along on
her starboard side.

The “Great Eastern” drew nearer, and, passing round, gave notice of her
presence by several shrill whistles; but the waif remained silent, and
unanimated; nothing was to be seen, not even a shore-boat from the
wrecked vessel was visible on the wide expanse of water.

The crew had undoubtedly had time to leave her, but could they have
reached land, which was three hundred miles off? Could a frail boat live
on a sea like that which had rocked the “Great Eastern” so frightfully?
And when could this catastrophe have happened? It was evident that the
shipwreck had taken place farther west, for the wind and waves must have
driven the hull far out of her course. These questions were destined to
remain unanswered.

When the steam-ship came alongside the stern of the wreck, I could read
distinctly the name “Lerida,” but the port she belonged to was not

A merchant-vessel or a man-of-war would have had no hesitation in
manning this hull which, undoubtedly, contained a valuable cargo, but as
the “Great Eastern” was on regular service, she could not take this waif
in tow for so many hundreds of miles; it was equally impossible to
return and take it to the nearest port. Therefore, to the great regret
of the sailors, it had to be abandoned, and it was soon a mere speck in
the distance. The group of passengers dispersed, some to the saloons,
others to their cabins, and even the lunch-bell failed to awaken the
slumberers, worn out by sea-sickness. About noon Captain Anderson
ordered sail to be hoisted, so that the ship, better supported, did not
roll so much.

                               CHAPTER X.

In spite of the ship’s disorderly conduct, life on board was becoming
organized, for with the Anglo-Saxon nothing is more simple. The
steam-boat is his street and his house for the time being; the
Frenchman, on the contrary, always looks like a traveller.

When the weather was favourable, the boulevards were thronged with
promenaders, who managed to maintain the perpendicular, in spite of the
ship’s motion, but with the peculiar gyrations of tipsy men. When the
passengers did not go on deck, they remained either in their private
sitting rooms or in the grand saloon, and then began the noisy discords
of pianos, all played at the same time, which, however, seemed not to
affect Saxon ears in the least. Among these amateurs, I noticed a tall,
bony woman, who must have been a good musician, for, in order to
facilitate reading her piece of music, she had marked all the notes with
a number, and the piano-keys with a number corresponding, so that if it
was note twenty-seven, she struck key twenty-seven, if fifty-three, key
fifty-three, and so on, perfectly indifferent to the noise around her,
or the sound of other pianos in the adjoining saloons, and her
equanimity was not even disturbed when some disagreeable little children
thumped with their fists on the unoccupied keys.

Whilst this concert was going on, a bystander would carelessly take up
one of the books scattered here and there on the tables, and, having
found an interesting passage, would read it aloud, whilst his audience
listened good-humouredly, and complimented him with a flattering murmur
of applause. Newspapers were scattered on the sofas, generally American
and English, which always look old, although the pages have never been
cut; it is a very tiresome operation reading these great sheets, which
take up so much room, but the fashion being to leave them uncut, so they
remain. One day I had the patience to read the _New York Herald_ from
beginning to end under these circumstances, and judge if I was rewarded
for my trouble when I turned to the column headed “Private:” “M. X. begs
the pretty Miss Z——, whom he met yesterday in Twenty-fifth Street
omnibus, to come to him to-morrow, at his rooms, No. 17, St. Nicholas
Hotel; he wishes to speak of marriage with her.” What did the pretty
Miss Z— do? I don’t even care to know.

I passed the whole of the afternoon in the grand saloon talking, and
observing what was going on about me. Conversation could not fail to be
interesting, for my friend Dean Pitferge was sitting near me.

“Have you quite recovered from the effects of your tumble?” I asked him.

“Perfectly,” replied he, “but it’s no go.”

“What is no go? You?”

“No, our steam-ship; the screw boilers are not working well; we cannot
get enough pressure.”

“You are anxious, then, to get to New York?”

“Not in the least, I speak as an engineer, that is all. I am very
comfortable here, and shall sincerely regret leaving this collection of
originals which chance has thrown together ... for my recreation.”

“Originals!” cried I, looking at the passengers who crowded the saloon;
“but all those people are very much alike.”

“Nonsense!” exclaimed the Doctor, “one can see you have hardly looked at
them, the species is the same, I allow, but in that species what a
variety there is! Just notice that group of men down there, with their
easy-going air, their legs stretched on the sofas, and hats screwed down
on their heads. They are Yankees, pure Yankees, from the small states of
Maine, Vermont, and Connecticut, the produce of New England. Energetic
and intelligent men, rather too much influenced by ‘the Reverends,’ and
who have the disagreeable fault of never putting their hands before
their mouths when they sneeze. Ah! my dear sir, they are true Saxons,
always keenly alive to a bargain; put two Yankees in a room together,
and in an hour they will each have gained ten dollars from the other.”

“I will not ask how,” replied I, smiling at the Doctor, “but among them
I see a little man with a consequential air, looking like a
weather-cock, and dressed in a long overcoat, with rather short black
trousers,—who is that gentleman?”

“He is a Protestant minister, a man of ‘importance’ in Massachusetts,
where he is going to join his wife, an ex-governess advantageously
implicated in a celebrated lawsuit.”

“And that tall, gloomy-looking fellow, who seems to be absorbed in

“That man calculates: in fact,” said the Doctor, “he is for ever


“No, his fortune, he is a man of ‘importance,’ at any moment he knows
almost to a farthing what he is worth; he is rich, a fourth part of New
York is built on his land; a quarter of an hour ago he possessed
1,625,367 dollars and a half, but now he has only 1,625,367 dollars and
a quarter.”

“How came this difference in his fortune?”

“Well! he has just smoked a quarter-dollar cigar.”

Doctor Dean Pitferge amused me with his clever repartees, so I pointed
out to him another group stowed away in a corner of the saloon.


“They,” said he, “are people from the Far West, the tallest, who looks
like a head clerk, is a man of ‘importance,’ the head of a Chicago bank,
he always carries an album under his arm, with the principal views of
his beloved city. He is, and has reason to be, proud of a city founded
in a desert in 1836, which at the present day has a population of more
than 400,000 souls. Near him you see a Californian couple, the young
wife is delicate and charming, her well-polished husband was once a
plough-boy, who one fine day turned up some nuggets. That gentleman—”

“Is a man of ‘importance,’” said I.

“Undoubtedly,” replied the Doctor, “for his assets count by the

“And pray who may this tall individual be, who moves his head backwards
and forwards like the pendulum of a clock?”

“That person,” replied the Doctor, “is the celebrated Cockburn of
Rochester, the universal statistician, who has weighed, measured,
proportioned, and calculated everything. Question this harmless maniac,
he will tell you how much bread a man of fifty has eaten in his life,
and how many cubic feet of air he has breathed. He will tell you how
many volumes in quarto the words of a Temple lawyer would fill, and how
many miles the postman goes daily carrying nothing but love-letters; he
will tell you the number of widows who pass in one hour over London
Bridge, and what would be the height of a pile of sandwiches consumed by
the citizens of the Union in a year; he will tell you—”

The Doctor, in his excitement, would have continued for a long time in
this strain, but other passengers passing us were attracted by the
inexhaustible stock of his original remarks. What different characters
there were in this crowd of passengers! not one idler, however, for one
does not go from one continent to the other without some serious motive.
The most part of them were undoubtedly going to seek their fortunes on
American ground, forgetting that at twenty years of age a Yankee has
made his fortune, and that at twenty-five he is already too old to begin
the struggle.

Among these adventurers, inventors, and fortune-hunters, Dean Pitferge
pointed out to me some singularly interesting characters. Here was a
chemist, a rival of Dr. Liebig, who pretended to have discovered the art
of condensing all the nutritious parts of a cow into a meat-tablet, no
larger than a five-shilling piece. He was going to coin money out of the
cattle of the Pampas. Another, the inventor of a portable motive-power—a
steam horse in a watch-case—was going to exhibit his patent in New
England. Another, a Frenchman from the “Rue Chapon,” was carrying to
America 30,000 cardboard dolls, which said “papa” with a very successful
Yankee accent, and he had no doubt but that his fortune was made.

But besides these originals, there were still others whose secrets we
could not guess; perhaps among them was some cashier flying from his
empty cash-box, and a detective making friends with him, only waiting
for the end of the passage to take him by the collar; perhaps also we
might have found in this crowd clever genii, who always find people
ready to believe in them, even when they advocate the affairs of “The
Oceanic Company for lighting Polynesia with gas,” or “The Royal Society
for making incombustible coal.”

But at this moment my attention was attracted by the entrance of a young
couple who seemed to be under the influence of a precocious weariness.

“They are Peruvians, my dear sir,” said the Doctor, “a couple married a
year ago, who have been to all parts of the world for their honeymoon.
They adored each other in Japan, loved in Australia, bore with one
another in India, bored each other in France, quarrelled in England, and
will undoubtedly separate in America.”

“And,” said I, “who is that tall, haughty-looking man just coming in?
from his appearance I should take him for an officer.”

“He is a Mormon,” replied the doctor, “an elder, Mr. Hatch, one of the
great preachers in the city of Saints. What a fine type of manhood he
is! Look at his proud eye, his noble countenance, and dignified bearing,
so different from the Yankee. Mr. Hatch is returning from Germany and
England, where he has preached Mormonism with great success, for there
are numbers of this sect in Europe, who are allowed to conform to the
laws of their country.”

“Indeed!” said I; “I quite thought that polygamy was forbidden them in

“Undoubtedly, my dear sir, but do not think that polygamy is obligatory
on Mormons; Brigham Young has his harem, because it suits him, but all
his followers do not imitate him, not even those dwelling on the banks
of the Salt Lake.”

“Indeed! and Mr. Hatch?”

“Mr. Hatch has only one wife, and he finds that quite enough; besides,
he proposes to explain his system in a meeting that he will hold one of
these evenings.”

“The saloon will be filled.”

“Yes,” said Pitferge, “if the gambling does not attract too many of the
audience; you know that they play in a room at the bows? There is an
Englishman there with an evil, disagreeable face, who seems to take the
lead among them, he is a bad man, with a detestable reputation. Have you
noticed him?”

From the Doctor’s description, I had no doubt but that he was the same
man who that morning had made himself conspicuous by his foolish wagers
with regard to the waif. My opinion of him was not wrong. Dean Pitferge
told me his name was Harry Drake, and that he was the son of a merchant
at Calcutta, a gambler, a dissolute character, a duellist, and now that
he was almost ruined, he was most likely going to America to try a life
of adventures. “Such people,” added the Doctor, “always find followers
willing to flatter them, and this fellow has already formed his circle
of scamps, of which he is the centre. Among them I have noticed a little
short man, with a round face, a turned-up nose, wearing gold spectacles,
and having the appearance of a German Jew; he calls himself a doctor, on
the way to Quebec; but I take him for a low actor and one of Drake’s

At this moment Dean Pitferge, who easily skipped from one subject to
another, nudged my elbow. I turned my head towards the saloon door: a
young man about twenty-eight, and a girl of seventeen, were coming in
arm in arm.

“A newly-married pair?” asked I.

“No,” replied the Doctor, in a softened tone, “an engaged couple, who
are only waiting for their arrival in New York to get married, they have
just made the tour of Europe, of course with their family’s consent, and
they know now that they are made for one another. Nice young people; it
is a pleasure to look at them. I often see them leaning over the
railings of the engine-rooms, counting the turns of the wheels, which do
not go half fast enough for their liking. Ah! sir, if our boilers were
heated like those two youthful hearts, see how our speed would


                              CHAPTER XI.

This day, at half-past twelve, a steersman posted up on the grand saloon
door the following observation:—

                      Lat.    51° 15´ N.
                      Long.   18° 13´ W.
                      Dist.:  Fastenet, 323 miles.

This signified that at noon we were three hundred and twenty-three miles
from the Fastenet lighthouse, the last which we had passed on the Irish
coast, and at 51° 15´ north latitude, and 18° 13´ west longitude, from
the meridian of Greenwich. It was the ship’s bearing, which the captain
thus made known to the passengers every day. By consulting this bearing,
and referring it to a chart, the course of the “Great Eastern” might be
followed. Up to this time she had only made three hundred and twenty
miles in thirty-six hours, it was not satisfactory, for a steamer at its
ordinary speed does not go less than three hundred miles in twenty-four

After having left the Doctor, I spent the rest of the day with Fabian;
we had gone to the stern, which Pitferge called “walking in the
country.” There alone, and leaning over the taffrail, we surveyed the
great expanse of water, while around us rose the briny vapours distilled
from the spray; small rainbows, formed by the refraction of the sun’s
rays, spanned the foaming waves. Below us, at a distance of forty feet,
the screw was beating the water with a tremendous force, making its
copper gleam in the midst of what appeared to be a vast conglomeration
of liquefied emeralds, the fleecy track extending as far as the eye
could reach, mingled in a milky path the foam from the screw, and the
paddle engines, whilst the white and black fringed plumage of the
sea-gulls flying above, cast rapid shadows over the sea.

Fabian was looking at the magic of the waves without speaking. What did
he see in this liquid mirror, which gave scope to the most capricious
flights of imagination? Was some vanished face passing before his eyes,
and bidding him a last farewell? Did he see a drowning shadow in these
eddying waters? He seemed to me sadder than usual, and I dared not ask
him the cause of his grief.

After the long separation which had estranged us from each other, it was
for him to confide in me, and for me to await his confidences. He had
told me as much of his past life as he wished me to know; his life in
the Indian garrison, his hunting, and adventures; but not a word had he
said of the emotions which swelled in his heart, or the cause of the
sighs which heaved his breast; undoubtedly Fabian was not one who tried
to lessen his grief by speaking of it, and therefore he suffered the

Thus we remained leaning over the sea, and as I turned my head I saw the
great paddles emerging under the regular action of the engine.

Once Fabian said to me, “This track is indeed magnificent. One would
think that the waves were amusing themselves with tracing letters! Look
at the ‘l’s’ and ‘e’s’. Am I deceived? No, they are indeed always the
same letters.”

Fabian’s excited imagination saw in these eddyings that which it wished
to see. But what could these letters signify? What remembrance did they
call forth in Fabian’s mind? The latter had resumed his silent
contemplation, when suddenly he said to me,—

“Come to me, come; that gulf will draw me in!”

“What is the matter with you, Fabian,” said I, taking him by both hands;
“what is the matter, my friend?”

“I have here,” said he, pressing his hand on his heart, “I have here a
disease which will kill me.”

“A disease?” said I to him, “a disease with no hope of cure?”

“No hope.”

And without another word Fabian went to the saloon, and then on to his

                              CHAPTER XII.

The next day, Saturday, 30th of March, the weather was fine, and the sea
calm; our progress was more rapid, and the “Great Eastern” was now going
at the rate of twelve knots an hour.

The wind had set south, and the first officer ordered the mizen and the
top-mast sails to be hoisted, so that the ship was perfectly steady.
Under this fine sunny sky the upper decks again became crowded; ladies
appeared in fresh costumes, some walking about, others sitting down—I
was going to say on the grass-plats beneath the shady trees, and the
children resumed their interrupted games. With a few soldiers in
uniform, strutting about with their hands in their pockets, one might
have fancied oneself on a French promenade.

At noon, the weather being favourable, Captain Anderson and two officers
went on to the bridge, in order to take the sun’s altitude; each held a
sextant in his hand, and from time to time scanned the southern horizon,
towards which their horizon-glasses were inclined.

“Noon,” exclaimed the Captain, after a short time.

Immediately a steersman rang a bell on the bridge, and all the watches
on board were regulated by the statement which had just been made.

Half-an-hour later, the following observation was posted up:—

                   Lat.    51° 10´ N.
                   Long.   24° 13´ W.
                   Course, 227 miles. Distance 550.

We had thus made two hundred and twenty-seven miles since noon the day

I did not see Fabian once during the day. Several times, uneasy about
his absence, I passed his cabin, and was convinced that he had not left

He must have wished to avoid the crowd on deck, and evidently sought to
isolate himself from this tumult. I met Captain Corsican, and for an
hour we walked on the poop. He often spoke of Fabian, and I could not
help telling him what had passed between Fabian and myself the evening

“Yes,” said Captain Corsican, with an emotion he did not try to
disguise. “Two years ago Fabian had the right to think himself the
happiest of men, and now he is the most unhappy.” Archibald Corsican
told me, in a few words, that at Bombay Fabian had known a charming
young girl, a Miss Hodges. He loved her, and was beloved by her. Nothing
seemed to hinder a marriage between Miss Hodges and Captain Mac Elwin;
when, by her father’s consent, the young girl’s hand was sought by the
son of a merchant at Calcutta. It was an old business affair, and
Hodges, a harsh, obstinate, and unfeeling man, who happened at this time
to be in a delicate position with his Calcutta correspondent, thinking
that the marriage would settle everything well, sacrificed his daughter
to the interests of his fortune. The poor child could not resist; they
put her hand into that of the man she did not and could not love, and
who, from all appearance, had no love for her. It was a mere business
transaction, and a barbarous deed. The husband carried off his wife the
day after they were married, and since then Fabian has never seen her
whom he has always loved.

This story showed me clearly that the grief which seemed to oppress
Fabian was indeed serious.

“What was the young girl’s name?” asked I of Captain Corsican.

“Ellen Hodges,” replied he.

“Ellen,—that name explains the letters which Fabian thought he saw
yesterday in the ship’s track. And what is the name of this poor young
woman’s husband?” said I to the Captain.

“Harry Drake.”

“Drake!” cried I, “but that man is on board.”

“He here!” exclaimed Corsican, seizing my hand, and looking straight at

“Yes,” I replied, “he is on board.”

“Heaven grant that they may not meet!” said the Captain gravely.
“Happily they do not know each other, at least Fabian does not know
Harry Drake; but that name uttered in his hearing would be enough to
cause an outburst.”

I then related to Captain Corsican what I knew of Harry Drake, that is
to say, what Dr. Dean Pitferge had told me of him. I described him such
as he was, an insolent, noisy adventurer, already ruined by gambling,
and other vices, and ready to do anything to get money; at this moment
Harry Drake passed close to us; I pointed him out to the Captain, whose
eyes suddenly grew animated, and he made an angry gesture, which I

“Yes,” said he, “there is the face of a villain. But where is he going?”

“To America, they say, to try and get by chance what he does not care to
work for.”

“Poor Ellen!” murmured the Captain; “where is she now?”

“Perhaps this wretch has abandoned her, or why should she not be on
board?” said Corsican, looking at me.


This idea crossed my mind for the first time, but I rejected it. No;
Ellen was not, could not be on board; she could not have escaped Dr.
Pitferge’s inquisitive eye. No! she cannot have accompanied Drake on
this voyage!

“May what you say be true, sir!” replied Captain Corsican; “for the
sight of that poor victim reduced to so much misery would be a terrible
blow to Fabian: I do not know what would happen, for Fabian is a man who
would kill Drake like a dog. I ask you, as a proof of your friendship,
never to lose sight of him; so that if anything should happen, one of us
may be near, to throw ourselves between him and his enemy. You
understand a duel must not take place between these two men. Alas!
neither here nor elsewhere. A woman cannot marry her husband’s murderer,
however unworthy that husband may have been.”

I well understood Captain Corsican’s reason. Fabian could not be his own
justiciary. It was foreseeing, from a distance, coming events, but how
is it that the uncertainty of human things is so little taken into
account? A presentiment was boding in my mind. Could it be possible,
that in this common life on board, in this every-day mingling together,
that Drake’s noisy personality could remain unnoticed by Fabian? An
accident, a trifle, a mere name uttered, would it not bring them face to
face? Ah! how I longed to hasten the speed of the steamer which carried
them both! Before leaving Captain Corsican I promised to keep a watch on
our friend, and to observe Drake, whom on his part he engaged not to
lose sight of; then he shook my hand, and we parted.

Towards evening a dense mist swept over the ocean, and the darkness was
intense. The brilliantly-lighted saloons contrasted singularly with the
blackness of the night. Waltzes and ballad songs followed each other;
all received with frantic applause, and even hurrahs were not wanting,
when the actor from T——, sitting at the piano, bawled his songs with the
self-possession of a strolling player.

                             CHAPTER XIII.

The next day, the 31st of March, was Sunday. How would this day be kept
on board? Would it be the English or American Sunday, which closes the
“bars” and the “taps” during service hours; which withholds the
butcher’s hand from his victim; which keeps the baker’s shovel from the
oven; which causes a suspension of business; extinguishes the fires of
the manufactories; which closes the shops, opens the churches, and
moderates the speed of the railway trains, contrary to the customs in
France? Yes, it must be kept thus, or almost thus.

First of all, during the service, although the weather was fine, and we
might have gained some knots, the Captain did not order the sails to be
hoisted, as it would have been “improper.” I thought myself very
fortunate that the screw was allowed to continue its work, and when I
inquired of a fierce Puritan the reason for this tolerance, “Sir,” said
he to me, “that which comes directly from God must be respected; the
wind is in His hand, the steam is in the power of man.”

I was willing to content myself with this reason, and in the meantime
observed what was going on on board.

All the crew were in full uniform, and dressed with extreme propriety. I
should not have been surprised to see the stokers working in black
clothes; the officers and engineers wore their finest uniforms, with
gilt buttons; their shoes shone with a British lustre, and rivalled
their glazed hats with an intense irradiation. All these good people
seemed to have hats and boots of a dazzling brightness. The Captain and
the first officer set the example, and with new gloves and military
attire, glittering and perfumed, they paced up and down the bridges
awaiting the hour for service.

The sea was magnificent and resplendent beneath the first rays of a
spring sun; not a sail in sight. The “Great Eastern” occupied alone the
centre of the immense expanse. At ten o’clock the bell on deck tolled
slowly and at regular intervals; the ringer, who was a steersman,
dressed in his best, managed to obtain from this bell a kind of solemn,
religious tone, instead of the metallic peals with which it accompanied
the whistling of the boilers, when the ship was surrounded by fog.
Involuntarily one looked for the village steeple which was calling to

At this moment numerous groups appeared at the doors of the cabins, at
the bows and stern; the boulevards were soon filled with men, women, and
children carefully dressed for the occasion. Friends exchanged quiet
greetings; every one held a Prayer-book in his hand, and all were
waiting for the last bell which would announce the beginning of service.
I saw also piles of Bibles, which were to be distributed in the church,
heaped upon trays generally used for sandwiches.

The church was the great saloon, formed by the upper deck at the stern,
the exterior of which, from its width and regularity of structure,
reminded one very much of the hotel of the Ministère des Finances, in
the Rue de Rivoli. I entered. Numbers of the faithful were already in
their places. A profound silence reigned among the congregation; the
officers occupied the apsis of the church, and, in the midst of them,
stood Captain Anderson, as pastor. My friend Dean Pitferge was near him,
his quick little eyes running over the whole assembly. I will venture to
say he was there more out of curiosity than anything else.

At half-past ten the Captain rose, and the service began; he read a
chapter from the Old Testament. After each verse the congregation
murmured the one following; the shrill soprano voices of the women and
children distinctly separate from the baritone of the men. This Biblical
dialogue lasted for about half-an-hour, and the simple, at the same time
impressive ceremony, was performed with a puritanical gravity. Captain
Anderson assuming the office of pastor on board, in the midst of the
vast ocean, and speaking to a crowd of listeners, hanging, as it were,
over the verge of an abyss, claimed the respect and attention of the
most indifferent. It would have been well if the service had concluded
with the reading; but when the Captain had finished a speaker arose, who
could not fail to arouse feelings of violence and rebellion where
tolerance and meditation should reign.

It was the reverend gentleman of whom I have before spoken—a little,
fidgety man, an intriguing Yankee; one of those ministers who exercise
such a powerful influence over the States of New England. His sermon was
already prepared, the occasion was good, and he intended to make use of
it. Would not the good Yorrick have done the same? I looked at Dean
Pitferge; the Doctor did not frown, but seemed inclined to try the
preacher’s zeal.

The latter gravely buttoned his black overcoat, placed his silk cap on
the table, drew out his handkerchief, with which he touched his lips
lightly, and taking in the assembly at a glance—

“In the beginning,” said he, “God created America, and rested on the
seventh day.”...

Thereupon I reached the door.

                              CHAPTER XIV.

At lunch Dean Pitferge told me that the reverend gentleman had admirably
enlarged on his text. Battering rams, armed forts, and submarine
torpedoes had figured in his discourse; as for himself, he was made
great by the greatness of America. If it pleases America to be thus
extolled, I have nothing to say.

Entering the grand saloon, I read the following note:—

                      Lat     50° 8´ N.
                      Long.   30° 44´ W.
                      Course, 255 miles.

Always the same result. We had only made eleven hundred miles, including
the three hundred and ten between Fastenet and Liverpool, about a third
part of our voyage. During the remainder of the day officers, sailors,
and passengers continued to rest in accordance with established custom.
Not a piano sounded in the silent saloons; the chess-men did not leave
their box, or the cards their case; the billiard-room was deserted. I
had an opportunity this day to introduce Dean Pitferge to Captain
Corsican. My original very much amused the Captain by telling him the
stories whispered about the “Great Eastern.” He attempted to prove to
him that it was a bewitched ship, to which fatal misfortune must happen.
The yarn of the melted engineer greatly pleased the Captain, who, being
a Scotchman, was a lover of the marvellous, but he could not repress an
incredulous smile.

[Illustration: “I SEE” SAID DR. PITFERGE.]

“I see,” said Dr. Pitferge, “the Captain has not much faith in my

“Much! that is saying a great deal,” replied Corsican.

“Will you believe me, Captain, if I affirm that this ship is haunted at
night?” asked the Doctor, in a serious tone.

“Haunted!” cried the Captain; “what next? Ghosts? and you believe in

“I believe,” replied Pitferge, “I believe what people who can be
depended on have told me. Now, I know some of the officers on watch, and
the sailors also, are quite unanimous on this point, that during the
darkness of the night a shadow, a vague form, walks the ship. How it
comes there they do not know, neither do they know how it disappears.”

“By St. Dunstan!” exclaimed Captain Corsican, “we will watch it well

“To-night?” asked the Doctor.

“To-night, if you like; and you, sir,” added the Captain, turning to me,
“will you keep us company?”

“No,” said I; “I do not wish to trouble the solitude of this phantom;
besides, I would rather think that our Doctor is joking.”

“I am not joking,” replied the obstinate Pitferge.

“Come, Doctor,” said I. “Do you really believe in the dead coming back
to the decks of ships?”

“I believe in the dead who come to life again,” replied the Doctor, “and
this is the more astonishing as I am a physician.”

“A physician!” cried the Captain, drawing back as if the word had made
him uneasy.

“Don’t be alarmed, Captain,” said the Doctor, smiling, good-humouredly;
“I don’t practise while travelling.”

                              CHAPTER XV.

The next day, the 1st of April, the aspect of the sea was truly
spring-like; it was as green as the meadows beneath the sun’s rays. This
April sunrise on the Atlantic was superb; the waves spread themselves
out voluptuously, while porpoises gambolled in the ship’s milky track.

When I met Captain Corsican, he informed me that the ghost announced by
the Doctor had not thought proper to make its appearance. Undoubtedly,
the night was not dark enough for it. Then the idea crossed my mind that
it was a joke of Dean Pitferge’s, sanctioned by the 1st of April; for in
America, England, and France this custom is very popular. Mystifiers and
mystified were not wanting; some laughed, others were angry; I even
believe that blows were exchanged among some of the Saxons, but these
blows never ended in fighting; for it is well known that in England
duels are liable to very severe punishment; even officers and soldiers
are not allowed to fight under any pretext whatever. The homicide is
subject to the most painful and ignominious punishments. I remember the
Doctor telling me the name of an officer who was sent to a convict
prison, for ten years, for having mortally wounded his adversary in a
very honourable engagement. One can understand, that in face of this
severe law duels have entirely disappeared from British customs.

The weather being so fine, a good observation could be made, which
resulted in the following statement: Lat. 48° 47´, and 36° 48´ W. L.;
dist., 250 miles only. The slowest of the Transatlantic steamers would
have had the right to offer to take us in tow. This state of things very
much annoyed Captain Anderson. The engineers attributed the failure of
pressure to the insufficient ventilation of the new furnaces; but for my
part, I thought that the diminution of speed was owing to the diameter
of the wheels having been imprudently made smaller.

However, to-day, about two o’clock, there was an improvement in the
ship’s speed; it was the attitude of the two young lovers which revealed
this change to me. Leaning against the bulwarks, they murmured joyful
words, clapped their hands, and looked smilingly at the escape-pipes,
which were placed near the chimneys, the apertures of which were crowned
with a white wreath of vapour. The pressure had risen in the screw
boilers; as yet it was only a feeble breath of air, a wavering blast;
but our young friends drank it in eagerly with their eyes. No, not even
Denis Papin could have been more delighted, when he saw the steam half
raise the lid of his celebrated saucepan.

“They smoke! they smoke!” cried the young lady, whilst a light breath
also escaped from her parted lips.

“Let us go and look at the engine,” said the young man, placing her arm
in his.

Dean Pitferge had joined me, and we followed the loving couple on to the
upper deck.

“How beautiful is youth!” remarked the Doctor.

“Yes,” said I, “youth affianced.”

Soon we also were leaning over the railing of the engine-rooms. There,
in the deep abyss, at a distance of sixty feet below us, we saw the four
long horizontal pistons swaying one towards the other, and with each
movement moistened by drops of lubricating oil.

In the meanwhile the young man had taken out his watch, and the girl,
leaning over his shoulder, followed the movement of the minute-hand,
whilst her lover counted the revolutions of the screw.

“One minute,” said she.

“Thirty-seven turns,” exclaimed the young man.

“Thirty-seven and a half,” observed the Doctor, who had entered into the

“And a half,” cried the young lady. “You hear, Edward! Thank you, sir,”
said she, favouring the worthy Pitferge with one of her most pleasing

                              CHAPTER XVI.

Going back to the grand saloon, I saw the following programme posted on
the door:—

                              THIS NIGHT!

                               PART FIRST

        “Ocean Time”                        Mr. Mac Alpine.
        Song: “Beautiful Isle of the Sea”   Mr. Ewing.
        Reading                             Mr. Affleet.
        Piano solo: “Chant du Berger”       Mrs. Alloway.
        Scotch Song                         Doctor T——.

                        (Ten minutes interval.)

                              PART SECOND.

        Piano solo                          Mr. Paul V——.
        Burlesque: “Lady of Lyons”          Doctor T——.
        Entertainment                       Sir James Anderson.
        Song: “Happy Moment”                Mr. Norville.
        Song: “You Remember”                Mr. Ewing.


                         “GOD SAVE THE QUEEN.”

As may be seen, it was a complete concert, with a first part, entr’acte,
second part, and finale; but it seems there was something wanting in the
programme; for I heard some one mutter behind me, “What! no

I turned, and saw that it was a steward, who thus protested against the
omission of his favourite music.

I went on deck, and began to look for Mac Elwin. Corsican had just told
me that Fabian had left his cabin, and I wanted, without intruding
myself on him, to draw him out of his isolation. I found him at the
bows; we talked for some time, but he made no allusion to his past life.
At times he was silent and pensive, absorbed in his thoughts, no longer
listening to me, and pressing his breast, as if to restrain a painful

Whilst we were walking together, Harry Drake passed us several times,
always the same noisy, gesticulating man, obstructive as would be a
windmill in a ball-room. Was I mistaken? I could not say; for I had
already anticipated it in my mind; but it seemed to me that Harry Drake
stared at Fabian with a persistency which the latter must have noticed;
for he said to me,—

“Who is that man?”

“I don’t know,” I replied.

“I don’t like his looks,” added Fabian.

Put two ships in the open sea, without wind or tide, and, at last, they
will come together. Throw two planets into space, and they will fall one
on the other. Place two enemies in the midst of a crowd, and they will
inevitably meet; it is a fatality, a question of time, that is all.

In the evening the concert took place according to the programme; the
grand saloon, filled with the audience, was brilliantly lighted. Through
the half-open hatchways might be seen the broad, sunburnt faces, and the
great black hands of the sailors; the doorways were crowded with
stewards; the greater part of the audience—men and women—were seated on
side sofas, and in the centre of the saloon, in arm-chairs and lounges,
all facing the piano, firmly fastened between the two doors, which
opened into the ladies’ saloon. From time to time a rolling motion
disturbed the audience; arm-chairs and folding-chairs glided about, a
kind of swell caused a similar undulatory movement to all; they caught
hold of one another silently, and without making any joke; but upon the
whole there was not much fear of falling, thanks to the subsidence.

The concert opened with the “Ocean Times.” The “Ocean Times” was a daily
newspaper, political, commercial, and literary, which certain passengers
had started for the requirements on board. Americans and English took to
this sort of pastime; they wrote out their sheet during the day; and let
me say, that if the editors were not particular, as to the quality of
their articles, their readers were not more so. They were content with
little, even with “not enough.”

This number for the 1st of April contained a “Great Eastern” leader—tame
enough, on general politics—also various facts quite uninteresting to a
Frenchman; articles on the money-markets, not particularly comic;
curious telegrams, and some rather insipid home news. After all this
kind of fun is only amusing to those who make it. The Honourable Mac
Alpine, a dogmatical American, read, with earnest gravity, some rather
dull lucubrations, which were received by his audience with great
applause. He finished his reading with the following news:—

“It is announced that President Johnson has resigned in favour of
General Grant.”

“It is said that Fernando Cortez is going to attack the Emperor Napoleon
the Third, piratically, out of revenge for the latter’s conquest of

“We are told for a certainty that Pope Pius IX. has designated the
Prince Imperial as his successor.”

When the “Ocean Times” had been sufficiently applauded, the Honourable
Mr. Ewing, a fine-looking young fellow, with a tenor voice, warbled
“Beautiful Isle of the Sea,” with all the harshness of an English


The “reading” appeared to me to have a questionable charm; it was simply
two or three pages of a book, read by a worthy Texian, who began in a
low voice, and gradually got higher and higher; he also was very much

The “Shepherd’s Song,” a piano solo, by Mrs. Alloway, and a Scotch song,
sung by Doctor T——, concluded the first part of the programme.

After the ten minutes’ interval, during which some of the audience left
their seats, the second part of the concert began. The Frenchman, Paul
V——, played some charming waltzes, which were noisily encored. One of
the ship’s doctors on board, a very conceited young man, recited a
burlesque scene, a kind of parody on the “Lady of Lyons,” a drama very
much in vogue in England.

The “burlesque” was succeeded by the “entertainment.” What had Sir James
Anderson prepared under this name? Was it a conference or a sermon?
Neither the one nor the other. Sir James Anderson rose smilingly, drew a
pack of cards from his pocket, turned back his white cuffs, and
performed some tricks, the simplicity of which was redeemed by the
graceful manner in which they were done. Hurrahs and applause.

After the “Happy Moment,” and “You Remember,” sung by Mr. Norville and
Mr. Ewing, the programme announced “God Save the Queen;” but some
Americans begged Paul V——, as he was a Frenchman, to play the national
French Anthem. Immediately my agreeable countryman began the inevitable
“Partant pour la Syrie.” Energetic demands from a party of north-men,
who wished to hear the “Marseillaise,” and without being pressed
further, the obedient pianist, with a compliance which betokened rather
a musical facility than political convictions, vigorously attacked the
song of Rouget de l’Ile.

This was the grand success of the evening, and the assembly, standing,
slowly sang the “National Anthem,” which prays God to bless the Queen.

Upon the whole this soirée was as good as amateur soirées generally are;
that is to say, it was chiefly a success for the performers and their
friends. Fabian did not show himself there at all.

                             CHAPTER XVII.

During Monday night the sea was very stormy. Once more the partitions
began creaking, and again the luggage made its way through the saloons.
When I went on deck, about seven o’clock in the morning, the wind had
freshened, and it was raining. The officer on watch had ordered the
sails to be taken in, so that the steam-ship, left without any support,
rolled dreadfully. All this day, the 2nd of April, the deck was
deserted, even the saloons were empty, for the passengers had taken
refuge in their cabins; and two-thirds of the guests were missing at
lunch and dinner. Whist was impossible, for the tables glided from under
the players’ hands. The chess-men were unmanageable. A few of the more
fearless stretched themselves on the sofas, reading or sleeping, as many
preferred to brave the rain on deck, where the sailors, in their
oil-skin jackets and glazed hats, were sedately pacing to and fro. The
first officer, well wrapped in his macintosh, and perched on the bridge,
was on watch, and in the midst of the hurricane his small eyes sparkled
with delight. This was what the little man loved, and the steamer rolled
to his liking.

The water from the skies and sea mingled in a dense fog. The atmosphere
was grey, and birds flew screeching through the damp mists. At ten
o’clock a three-mast ship was hailed, sailing astern of us, but her
nationality could not be recognized.

At about eleven o’clock the wind abated, and veered to the north-west.
The rain ceased, almost suddenly, blue sky appeared through the opening
in the clouds, the sun shone out again, and permitted a more or less
perfect observation to be made, which was posted up as follows:—

                      Lat.    46° 29´ N.
                      Long.   42° 25´ W.
                      Dist.,  356 miles.

So that, although the pressure of the boilers had risen, the ship’s
speed had not increased; but this might be attributed to the westerly
wind, which caught the ship ahead, and considerably impeded her

At two o’clock the fog grew dense again, the wind fell and rose at the
same time. The thickness of the fog was so intense that the officers on
the bridge could not see the men at the bows. These accumulated vapours
rising from the sea constitute the greatest danger of navigation. They
cause accidents which it is impossible to avoid, and a collision at sea
is more to be dreaded than a fire.

Thus, in the midst of the fog, officers and sailors were obliged to keep
a strict watch, which soon proved to be necessary, for about three
o’clock a three-master appeared at less than two hundred yards from the
“Great Eastern,” her sails disabled by a gust of wind, and no longer
answering to her helm. The “Great Eastern” turned in time to avoid her,
thanks to the promptitude with which the men on watch warned the
steersman. These well-regulated signals are given by means of a bell,
fastened to the poop at the bows. One ring signifies ship ahead; two,
ship-starboard; three, ship a-larboard; and immediately the man at the
helm steers in order to avoid a collision.

The wind did not abate until evening; however the rolling was nothing to
speak of, as the sea was protected by the Newfoundland heights. Another
entertainment, by Sir James Anderson, was announced for this day. At the
appointed hour the saloon was filled; but this time it had nothing to do
with cards. Sir James Anderson told us the history of the Transatlantic
Cable, which he had himself laid. He showed us photographs representing
the different engines used for the immersion. He sent round a model of
the splice which was used to fasten together the pieces of cable.
Finally, very justly merited, the three cheers with which his lecture
was received, a great part of which was meant for the Honourable Cyrus
Field, promoter of the enterprise, who was present on this occasion.

                             CHAPTER XVIII.

The next day, the 3rd of April, from early dawn the horizon wore that
peculiar aspect which the English call “blink.” It was of that misty
white colour which signifies that icebergs are not far distant; in fact
the “Great Eastern” was ploughing those seas on which float the first
blocks of ice detached from the icebergs in Davis’ Straits. A special
watch was kept, in order to avoid the rude collision with these enormous

There was a strong westerly wind blowing; strips of clouds, or rather
shreds of vapour, hung over the sea, through which glimpses of blue sky
appeared. A dull thudding noise came from the waves tossed by the wind,
and drops of water, seemingly pulverized, evaporated in foam.

Neither Fabian, Captain Corsican, nor Doctor Pitferge had yet come on
deck, so I went towards the bows, where the junction of the bulwarks
formed a comfortable angle, a kind of retreat, in which like a hermit,
one could retire from the world. I took my place in this corner, sitting
on a skylight, and my feet resting on an enormous pulley; the wind being
dead ahead passed over without touching me. This was a good place for
reflection. From here I had a view of the whole immensity of the ship; I
could see the long slanting ropes of the rigging at the stern. On the
first level a top-man, hanging in the mizen-shrouds, held himself up
with one hand, whilst with the other he worked with a remarkable
dexterity. On the deck below him paced the officer on watch, peering
through the mists. On the bridge, at the stern, I caught a glimpse of an
officer, his back rounded, and his head muffled in a hood, struggling
against the gusts of wind. I could distinguish nothing of the sea,
except a bluish horizontal line discernible behind the paddles. Urged on
by her powerful engines, the narrow stem of the steam-ship cut the
waves, with a hissing sound, like that when the sides of a boiler are
heated by a roaring fire. But the colossal ship, with the wind ahead,
and borne on three waves, hardly felt the movement of the sea, which
would have shaken any other steamer with its pitchings.


At half-past twelve the notice stated that we were in 44° 53´ North
lat., and 47° 6´ W. long., and had made two hundred and twenty-seven
miles in twenty-four hours only. The young couple must have scolded the
wheels which did not turn, and the steam which was not at all strong
enough to please them.

About three o’clock the sky, swept by the wind, cleared up; the line of
the horizon was once more clearly defined, the wind fell, but for a long
while the sea rose in great foam-crested billows. Such a gentle breeze
could not cause this swell; one might have said that the Atlantic was
still sulky.

At twenty-five minutes to four a three-mast ship was hailed to larboard.
She hoisted her name; it was the “Illinois,” an American ship, on her
way to England.

At this moment Lieutenant H—— informed me that we were passing Cape Race
point. We were now in the rich coasts where are obtained cod-fish, three
of which would suffice to supply England and America if all the roe were
hatched. The day passed without any remarkable occurrence; no accident
had as yet thrown Fabian and Harry Drake together, for the Captain and I
never lost sight of them. In the evening the same harmless amusement,
the same reading, and songs in the grand saloon called forth, as usual,
frantic applauses. As an extraordinary occurrence a lively discussion
broke out between a Northerner and a Texian. The latter demanded an
Emperor for the Southern States. Happily this political discussion,
which threatened to degenerate into a quarrel, was put an end to by the
timely arrival of an imaginary despatch, addressed to the “Ocean Times,”
and conceived in these terms: “Captain Semmes, Minister of War, has made
the South compensate for its ravages in Alabama.”

                              CHAPTER XIX.

Leaving the brilliantly lighted saloon I went on deck with Captain
Corsican. The night was dark; not a star in the firmament; an
impenetrable gloom surrounded the ship. The windows of the saloon shone
like the mouths of furnaces; the man on watch, heavily pacing the poop,
was scarcely discernible, but one could breathe the fresh air, and the
Captain inhaled it with expanded lungs.

“I was stifled in the saloon,” said he; “here at least I can breathe. I
require my hundred cubic yards of pure air every twenty-four hours, or I
get half suffocated.”

“Breathe, Captain, breathe at your ease,” said I to him; “the breeze
does not stint your wants. Oxygen is a good thing, but it must be
confessed Parisians and Londoners know it only by reputation.”

“Yes,” replied the Captain, “and they prefer carbonic acid. Ah well!
every one to his liking; for my own part I detest it, even in

Thus talking, we paced up and down the deck on the starboard side,
sheltered from the wind by the high partitions of the deck cabins. Great
wreaths of smoke, illuminated with sparks, curled from the black
chimneys; the noise of the engines accompanied the whistling of the wind
in the shrouds, which sounded like the cords of a harp. Mingling with
this hubbub, each quarter of an hour, came the cry of the sailors on
deck, “All’s well, all’s well.”

In fact no precaution had been neglected to insure the safety of the
ship on these coasts frequented by icebergs. The Captain had a bucket of
water drawn every half-hour, in order to ascertain the temperature, and
if it had fallen one degree he immediately changed his course, for he
knew that the “Peruvian” had been seen but a fortnight since blocked up
by icebergs in this latitude; it was therefore a danger to be avoided.
His orders for night were to keep a strict look-out. He himself remained
on the bridge with an officer each side of him, one at the wheel signal,
the other at the screw; besides these a lieutenant and two men kept
watch on the poop, whilst a quarter-master with a sailor stood at the
stern; the passengers might therefore rest quietly.

After noticing these arrangements we went back again to the stern, as we
had made up our minds to stay some time longer, walking on deck like
peaceful citizens taking an evening stroll in their town squares.

The place seemed deserted. Soon, however, our eyes grew accustomed to
the darkness, and we perceived a man leaning perfectly motionless, with
his elbow on the railing. Corsican, after looking at him attentively for
some time, said to me,—

“It is Fabian.”

It was indeed Fabian. We recognized him, but absorbed as he was in a
profound contemplation he did not see us. His eyes were fixed on an
angle of the upper deck; I saw them gleam in the dark. What was he
looking at? How could he pierce this black gloom? I thought it better to
leave him to his reflections, but Captain Corsican went up to him.

“Fabian,” said he.

Fabian did not answer; he had not heard. Again Corsican called him. He
shuddered, and turned his head for a moment, saying,—


Then with his hand he pointed to a shadow which was slowly moving at the
further end of the upper deck. It was this almost invisible figure that
Fabian was looking at, and smiling sadly he murmured,—

“The black lady.”

I shuddered. Captain Corsican took hold of my arm, and I felt that he
also was trembling. The same thought had struck us both. This shadow was
the apparition about which Dean Pitferge had spoken.

[Illustration: THE BLACK LADY.]

Fabian had relapsed into his dreamy contemplation. I, with a heaving
breast and awe-struck glance, looked at this human figure, the outline
of which was hardly discernible; but presently it became more defined.
It came forward, stopped, turned back, and then again advanced, seeming
to glide rather than walk. At ten steps from us it stood perfectly
still. I was then able to distinguish the figure of a slender female,
closely wrapped in a kind of brown burnous, and her face covered with a
thick veil.

“A mad woman, a mad woman, is it not?” murmured Fabian.

It was, indeed, a mad woman; but Fabian was not asking us: he was
speaking to himself.

In the meantime the poor creature came still nearer to us. I thought I
could see her eyes sparkle through her veil, when they were fixed on
Fabian. She went up to him, Fabian started to his feet, electrified. The
veiled woman put her hand on her heart as though counting its pulsation,
then, gliding swiftly away, she disappeared behind the angle of the
upper deck. Fabian staggered, and fell on his knees, his hands stretched
out before him.

“It is she,” he murmured.

Then shaking his head,—

“What an hallucination!” he added.

Captain Corsican then took him by the hand.

“Come, Fabian, come,” said he, and he led away his unhappy friend.

                              CHAPTER XX.

Corsican and I could no longer doubt but that it was Ellen, Fabian’s
betrothed, and Harry Drake’s wife. Chance had brought all three together
on the same ship. Fabian had not recognized her, although he had cried,
“It is she, it is she!” and how was it possible that he could have done
so? But he was not mistaken in saying, “A mad woman!” Ellen was mad,
undoubtedly; grief, despair, love frozen in her heart, contact with the
worthless man who had snatched her from Fabian, ruin, misery, and shame
had broken her spirit. It was on this subject that Corsican and I spoke
the following morning. We had no doubt as to the identity of the young
woman; it was Ellen, whom Harry Drake was dragging with him to the
American continent. The Captain’s eyes glowed with a dark fire at the
thought of this wretch, and I felt my heart stir within me. What were we
against the husband, the master? Nothing. But now, what was most
important, was to prevent another meeting between Fabian and Ellen, for
Fabian could not fail at last to recognize his betrothed, and thus the
catastrophe we wished to avoid would be brought about.

At the same time we had reason to hope that these two poor creatures
would not see each other again, as the unhappy Ellen never appeared in
the daytime, either in the saloons or on the deck. Only at night,
perhaps eluding her gaoler, she came out to bathe herself in the damp
air, and demand of the wind a smooth passage. In four days, at the
latest, the “Great Eastern” must reach New York harbour; therefore we
might hope that accident would not dally with our watchfulness, and that
Fabian would not discover Ellen during this time; but we made our
calculations without thinking of events.

The steamer’s course had been slightly altered in the night, three times
the ship, being in water twenty-seven degrees Fahrenheit—that is to say,
five degrees below zero, had been turned towards the south. There was no
longer any doubt of icebergs being very near, for the sky that morning
had a peculiarly brilliant aspect; the atmosphere was misty, and the
northern sky glittered with an intense reverberation, evidently produced
by the powerful reflection from the icebergs. There was a piercing wind,
and about ten o’clock the deck was powdered by a slight snow-fall; then
dense fog surrounded us, in which we gave warning of our approach, by
deafening whistles, which scared away the flocks of sea-gulls in the
ship’s yards. At half-past ten, the fog having cleared off, a screw
steamer appeared on the horizon, a-starboard, the white tops of her
chimneys indicating that she was an emigrant ship, belonging to the
Inman Company.

Before lunch several of the passengers organized a pool, which could not
fail to please those fond of betting and gambling. The result of this
pool was not to be known for four days; it was what is called the
“pilot’s pool.” When a ship arrives at the land-falls every one knows
that a pilot comes on board; so they divide the twenty-four hours of the
day and night into forty-eight half-hours, or ninety-six quarters,
according to the number of the passengers. Each player stakes one
dollar, and draws one of the half or quarter hours: the winner of the
forty-eight or ninety-six dollars is the one during whose quarter of an
hour the pilot comes on board. From this it may be seen that the game is
very simple; it is not a race-course, but a quarter-of-an-hour race.

It was a Canadian, the Honourable MacAlpine, who undertook the
management of the affair. He easily collected ninety-six players,
including several professed gamblers, not the least among those ready
for gain. I, following the general example, staked my dollar, and fate
allotted me the ninety-fourth quarter; it was a bad number, and one
which left me no chance of profit. The fact is, these divisions are
reckoned from noon to noon, so that there are night as well as day
quarters; and as it is very seldom that ships venture close in in the
dark, the chance of a pilot coming on board then is very small. However,
I easily consoled myself. Going down into the saloon, I saw a lecture
announced. The Utah missionary was going to hold a meeting on Mormonism;
a good opportunity for those wishing to initiate themselves in the
mysteries of the City of Saints; besides, this Elder, Mr. Hatch, was an
orator of no mean power. The execution could not fail to be worthy of
the work. The announcement of the conference was received very
favourably by the passengers.

The observation posted up was as follows:—

                      Lat.    42° 32´ N.
                      Long.   51° 59´ W.
                      Course, 254 miles.

About three o’clock in the afternoon the steersman signaled a large
four-mast steamer, which slightly changed its course, in order to give
the “Great Eastern” its number. It was the “Atlanta,” one of the largest
boats running between London and New York, calling at Brest on the way.
After having saluted us, which we returned, in a short time she was out
of sight.

At this moment Dean Pitferge, in a vexed tone, informed me that Mr.
Hatch’s lecture was forbidden, as the wives of the puritans on board did
not approve of their husbands becoming acquainted with the mysteries of

                              CHAPTER XXI.

At four o’clock, the sky, which had been overcast, cleared up, the sea
grew calm, and the ship was so steady, one might almost have thought
oneself on _terra firma_—this gave the passengers the idea of getting up
races. Epsom turf could not have afforded a better coursing-ground, and
as for horses, they were well replaced by pure Scotchmen, as good as any
“Gladiator,” or “La Touque.” The news soon spread, sportsmen immediately
hurried to the field. An Englishman, the Hon. J. Mac Carthy, was
appointed commissioner, and the competitors presented themselves without
delay. They were half a dozen sailors, kind of centaurs, man and horse
at the same time, all ready to try for the prize.

The two boulevards formed the race-course, the runners were to go three
times round the ship, thus making a course of about 1300 yards, which
was quite enough. Soon the galleries were invaded by crowds of
spectators, all armed with opera-glasses. Some of them had hoisted the
“green sail,” no doubt to shelter themselves from the spray of the
Atlantic. Carriages were missing, I must confess, but not the rank,
where they might have ranged in file. Ladies in gay costumes were
hurrying on to the upper decks; the scene was charming.

Fabian, Captain Corsican, Dr. Pitferge and I had taken our places on the
poop, which was what might be called the centre of action. Here the real
gentlemen riders were assembled; in front of us was the starting and
winning post. Betting soon began with a true British animation.
Considerable sums of money were staked, but only from the appearance of
the racers, whose qualifications had not as yet been inscribed in the
“stud-book.” It was not without uneasiness that I saw Harry Drake
interfering in the preparations with his usual audacity, discussing,
disputing, and settling affairs in a tone which admitted of no reply.
Happily, although Fabian had risked some pounds in the race, he appeared
quite indifferent to the noise; he kept himself aloof from the others,
and it was quite evident his thoughts were far off.

Among the racers who offered themselves, two particularly attracted the
public attention. Wilmore, a small, thin, wiry Scotchman, with a broad
chest and sharp eyes, was one of the favourites; the other, an Irishman
named O’Kelly, a tall, supple fellow, balanced the chance with Wilmore,
in the eyes of connoisseurs. Three to one was asked on him, and for
myself partaking the general infatuation, I was going to risk a few
dollars on him, when the Doctor said to me,—

“Choose the little one; believe me, the tall one is no go.”

“What do you say?”

“I say,” replied the Doctor, “that the tall one is not genuine; he may
have a certain amount of speed, but he has no bottom. The little one, on
the contrary, is of pure Scotch race; look how straight his body is on
his legs, and how broad and pliant his chest is; he is a man who will
lead more than once in the race. Bet on him, I tell you; you won’t
regret it.”

I took the learned doctor’s advice, and bet on Wilmore; as to the other
four, they were not even discussed.

They drew for places; chance favoured the Irishman, who had the
rope-side; the six runners were placed along the line, bounded by the
posts, so that there was no unfair start to be feared.

The commissioner gave the signal, and the departure was hailed by a loud
hurrah. It was soon evident that Wilmore and O’Kelly were professional
runners; without taking any notice of their rivals, who passed them
breathless, they ran with their bodies thrown slightly forward, heads
very erect, arms tightly pressed against their chests, and holding their
fists firmly in front.

In the second round O’Kelly and Wilmore were in a line, having distanced
their exhausted competitors. They obviously verified the Doctor’s

“It is not with the legs, but with the chest that one runs; ham-strings
are good, but lungs are better.”

At the last turning but one the spectators again cheered their
favourites. Cries and hurrahs broke out on all sides.

“The little one will win,” said Pitferge to me. “Look, he is not even
panting, and his rival is breathless.”

Wilmore indeed looked calm and pale, whilst O’Kelly was steaming like a
damp hay-stack; he was “pumped out,” to use a sportsman’s slang
expression, but both of them kept the same line. At last they passed the
upper decks; the hatchway of the engine-rooms, the winning-post.

“Hurrah! hurrah! for Wilmore,” cried some.

“Hurrah! for O’Kelly,” chimed in others.

“Wilmore has won.”

“No, they are together.”

The truth was Wilmore had won, but by hardly half a head so the
Honourable Mac Carthy decided. However, the discussion continued, and
even came to words. The partisans of the Irishman, and particularly
Harry Drake, maintained that it was a “dead heat,” and that they ought
to go again.

But at this moment, urged by an irresistible impulse, Fabian went up to
Harry Drake, and said to him in a cold tone,—

“You are wrong, sir, the winner was the Scotch sailor.”

“What do you say?” he asked, in a threatening tone.

“I say you are wrong,” answered Fabian quietly.

“Undoubtedly,” retorted Drake, “because you bet on Wilmore.”

“I was for O’Kelly, like yourself; I lost, and I have paid.”

“Sir,” cried Drake, “do you pretend to teach me?—”

But he did not finish his sentence, for Captain Corsican had interposed
between him and Fabian, with the intention of taking up the quarrel. He
treated Drake with supreme contempt, but evidently Drake would not pick
a quarrel with him; so when Corsican had finished, he crossed his arms,
and addressing himself to Fabian,—

“This gentleman,” said he, with an evil smile, “this gentleman wants
some one to fight his battles for him.”

Fabian grew pale, he would have sprung at Drake, but I held him back,
and the scoundrel’s companions dragged him away; not, however, before he
had cast a look of hatred at his enemy.

Captain Corsican and I went below with Fabian, who contented himself by
saying, “The first opportunity I have, I will box that impudent fellow’s


                             CHAPTER XXII.

From Thursday night to Saturday the “Great Eastern” was crossing the
Gulf Stream, the water of which is of a dark colour, the surface of the
current forcing its way against the waters of the Atlantic, is even
slightly convex. It is, in fact, a river running between two liquid
shores, and one of the largest in the world, for it reduces the Amazon
and Mississippi to mere brooks in comparison.

This day, the 5th of April, began with a magnificent sunrise, the waves
glittered, and a warm south-west wind was wafted through the rigging. It
was the beginning of the fine weather; the sun, which had clothed the
fields of the continent with verdure, caused fresh costumes to bloom on
board. Vegetation is sometimes behind-hand, but fashion never. Soon the
Boulevards, filled with groups of promenaders, looked like the Champs
Elysées on a fine Sunday afternoon in May.

I did not see Captain Corsican once that morning; wishing to hear of
Fabian, I went to his cabin, and knocked at the door, but getting no
answer I opened it and went in. Fabian was not there. I went on deck
again, but could find neither my friends nor the Doctor; the idea then
crossed my mind to find out where the unfortunate Ellen was confined.
What cabin did she occupy? Where had Drake shut her up? In whose care
was the poor creature left, when Drake abandoned her for whole days?
Most likely with some disinterested stewardess, or an indifferent nurse.
I wished to know how it was, not from any vain motive of curiosity, but
simply in Ellen and Fabian’s interest, if it was only to prevent a
meeting, always to be dreaded.

I began my search with the cabin near the ladies’ saloon, and went along
the passages of both stories. This inspection was easy enough, as the
names of the occupants were written on each door, in order to facilitate
the steward’s work. I did not see Harry Drake’s name, but this did not
surprise me much, as I had no doubt he had preferred the more isolated
cabins at the stern. In matter of comfort, however, no difference
existed between the cabins at the bows and those at the stern, for the
_Freighters_ had only admitted one class of passengers.

I next went towards the dining saloons, keeping carefully to the side
passages which wound between the double row of cabins. All these rooms
were occupied, and all had the name of the passengers outside, but Harry
Drake’s name was not to be seen. This time the absence of his name
astonished me, for I thought I had been all over our Floating City, and
I was not aware of any part more secluded than this.

I inquired of a steward, who told me there were yet a hundred cabins
behind the dining saloons.

“How do you get to them?” I asked.

“By a staircase at the end of the upper deck.”

“Thank you, and can you tell me which cabin Mr. Harry Drake occupies?”

“I do not know, sir,” replied the steward.

Again I went on deck, and following the steward’s direction at last came
to the door at the top of the stairs. This staircase did not lead to any
large saloons, but simply to a dimly-lighted landing, round which was
arranged a double row of cabins. Harry Drake could hardly have found a
more favourable place in which to hide Ellen.

The greater part of the cabins were unoccupied. I went along the
landing, a few names were written on the doors, but only two or three at
the most. Harry Drake’s name was not among them, and as I had made a
very minute inspection of this compartment, I was very much disappointed
at my ill success. I was going away when suddenly a vague, almost
inaudible murmur caught my ear, it proceeded from the left side of the
passage. I went towards the place; the sounds, at first faint, grew
louder, and I distinguished a kind of plaintive song, or rather
melopœia, the words of which did not reach me.

I listened; it was a woman singing, but in this unconscious voice one
could recognize a mournful wail. Might not this voice belong to the mad
woman? My presentiments could not deceive me. I went quietly nearer to
the cabin, which was numbered 775. It was the last in this dim passage,
and must have been lighted by the lowest light-ports in the hull of the
“Great Eastern;” there was no name on the door, and Harry Drake had no
desire that any one should know the place where he confined Ellen.

I could not distinctly hear the voice of the unfortunate woman; her song
was only a string of unconnected sentences like one speaking in sleep,
but at the same time it was sweet and plaintive.

Although I had no means of recognizing her identity, I had no doubt but
that it was Ellen singing.

I listened for some minutes, and was just going away, when I heard a
step on the landing. Could it be Harry Drake? I did not wish him to find
me here, for Fabian and Ellen’s sake; fortunately I could get on deck,
without being seen, by a passage leading round the cabins. However, I
stopped to know who it really was that I had heard. The darkness
partially hid me, and standing behind an angle of the passage I could
see without being myself in sight.

In the meantime the sound of the footsteps had ceased, and with it, as a
strange coincident, Ellen’s voice. I waited and soon the song began
again, and the boards creaked under a stealthy tread; I leaned forward
and, in the dim, uncertain light which glimmered through the cracks of
the cabin doors, I recognized Fabian.

It was my unhappy friend! What instinct could have led him to this
place? Had he then discovered the young woman’s retreat before me? I did
not know what to think. Fabian slowly advanced along the passage,
listening, following the voice, as if it was a thread drawing him
unconsciously on, and in spite of himself. It seemed to me that the song
grew fainter as he approached, and that the thread thus held was about
to break. Fabian went quite near to the cabin doors and then stopped.

How those sad accents must have rent his heart! and how his whole being
must have thrilled as he caught some tone in the voice, which reminded
him of the past! But how was it, ignorant as he was of Harry Drake being
on board, that he had any suspicion of Ellen’s presence? No, it was
impossible; he had only been attracted by the plaintive accents which
insensibly responded to the great grief weighing down his spirit.


Fabian was still listening. What was he going to do? Would he call to
the mad woman? And what if Ellen suddenly appeared? Everything was
dangerous in this situation! However, Fabian came nearer still to the
door of her cabin; the song, which was growing fainter and fainter,
suddenly died away, and a piercing shriek was heard.

Had Ellen, by a magnetic communication, felt him whom she loved so near
her? Fabian’s attitude was desperate; he had gathered himself up. Was he
going to break the door open? I thought he would, so I rushed up to him.

He recognized me; I dragged him away, and he made no resistance, but
asked me in a hollow voice, “Do you know who that unhappy woman is?”

“No, Fabian, no.”

“It is the mad woman,” said he, in an unnatural voice, “but this madness
is not without remedy. I feel that a little devotion, a little love,
would cure the poor woman.”

“Come, Fabian,” said I, “come away.”

We went on deck, but Fabian did not utter another word. I did not leave
him, however, until he had reached his cabin.

                             CHAPTER XXIII.

Some moments later I met Captain Corsican, and told him of the scene I
had just witnessed. He understood, as well as I did, that the situation
of affairs was growing more and more serious. Ah! could I have foreseen
all that would happen, how I should have longed to hasten the speed of
the “Great Eastern,” and put the broad ocean between Fabian and Harry

On leaving each other, Captain Corsican and I agreed to watch the actors
in this drama more narrowly than ever.

The “Australasian,” a Cunard steamer, running between Liverpool and New
York, was expected this day. She was to leave America on Wednesday
morning, and therefore would not be long before passing us. A watch was
kept; however, she did not come in sight.

About eleven o’clock the English passengers organized a subscription on
behalf of the wounded on board, some of whom had not been able to leave
the hospital; among them was the boatswain, threatened with an incurable
lameness. There was soon a long list of signatures, not however, without
some objections having been raised.

At noon a very exact observation was able to be made—

                      Long.   58°, 37´ W.
                      Lat.    41° 41´ 11´ N.
                      Course, 257 miles.

We had the latitude to a second. When the young engaged couple read the
notice they did not look remarkably pleased, and they had good reason to
be discontented with the steam.

Before lunch, Captain Anderson wishing to divert the passengers from the
tedium of their long voyage, arranged some gymnastic exercises, which he
directed in person. About fifty unemployed men, each armed, like
himself, with a stick, imitated all his movements with a strict
exactitude. These improvised gymnasts, with their firm set mouths,
worked as methodically as a band of riflemen on parade.

Another entertainment was announced for this evening. I was not present,
for the same amusement, night after night, only wearied me. A new paper,
a rival of the “Ocean Times,” was to be the great attraction.

I passed the first hours of the night on deck; the sea heaved, and gave
warning of stormy weather, and although the sky was perfectly serene,
the rolling grew more emphasized. Lying on a seat of the upper deck, I
could admire the host of constellations with which the firmament was
bespangled, and although there are only 5000 stars, in the whole extent
of the celestial sphere, which are visible to the naked eye, this
evening I thought I could see millions. There, along the horizon,
trailed the tail of Pegasus, in all its zodiacal magnificence, like the
starry robe of the queen of fairies. The Pleiades ascended the celestial
heights with Gemini, who, in spite of their name, do not rise one after
the other, like the heroes of the fable. Taurus looked down on me with
his great fiery eye, whilst Vega, our future polar-star, shone
brilliantly, high up in the azure vault, and not far from her was the
circle of diamonds, which form the constellation of Corona Borealis. All
these stationary constellations seemed to move with the pitching of the
vessel, and in one lurch I saw the main-mast describe a distinct arc of
a circle from β, in the Great Bear, to Altair in the Eagle, whilst the
moon, already low in the heavens, dipped her crescent in the horizon.

                             CHAPTER XXIV.

The night was stormy, the steam-ship, beaten by the waves, rolled
frightfully, without being disabled; the furniture was knocked about
with loud crashes, and the crockery began its clatter again. The wind
had evidently freshened, and besides this the “Great Eastern” was now in
those coasts where the sea is always rough.

At six o’clock in the morning I dragged myself to the staircase, leading
on to the upper decks. By clutching at the balusters, and taking
advantage of a lurch or two, I succeeded in climbing the steps, and with
some difficulty managed to reach the poop. The place was deserted, if
one may so qualify a place where was Dr. Pitferge. The worthy man, with
his back rounded as a protection against the wind, was leaning against
the railing, with his right leg wound tightly round one of the rails. He
beckoned for me to go to him—with his head, of course, for he could not
spare his hands, which held him up against the violence of the tempest.
After several queer movements, twisting myself like an analide, I
reached the upper deck, where I buttressed myself, after the doctor’s
fashion. “We are in for it!” cried he to me; “this will last. Heigh ho!
this ‘Great Eastern!’ Just at the moment of arrival, a cyclone, a
veritable cyclone is commanded on purpose for her.”

The Doctor spoke in broken sentences, for the wind cut short his words,
but I understood him; the word cyclone carried its explanation with it.

It is well known that these whirlwinds, called hurricanes in the Indian
and Atlantic Oceans, tornadoes on the coast of Africa, simoons in the
desert, and typhoons in the Chinese Sea, are tempests of such formidable
power, that they imperil the largest ships.

Now the “Great Eastern” was caught in a cyclone. How would this giant
make head against it?

“Harm will come to her,” repeated Dean Pitferge. “Look, how she dives
into the billows.”

This was, indeed, the exact position of the steam-ship, whose stern
disappeared beneath the mountains of waves, which swept violently
against her. It was not possible to see to any distance: there were all
the symptoms of a storm, which broke forth in its fury about seven
o’clock. The ocean heaved terrifically, the small undulations between
the large waves entirely disappeared under an overwhelming wind, the
foam-crested billows clashed together, in the wildest uproar, every
moment; the waves grew higher, and the “Great Eastern,” cutting through
them, pitched frightfully.

“There are but two courses now to choose from,” said the Doctor, with
the self-possession of a seaman, “either to put the ship’s head on to
the waves, working with a minimum speed, or take flight and give up the
struggle with this baffling sea; but Captain Anderson will do neither
one thing nor the other.”

“And why not?” I asked.

“Because—” replied the doctor, “because something must happen.”

Turning round, I saw the Captain, the first officer, and the chief
engineer, muffled in their macintoshes, and clutching at the railings of
the bridge; they were enveloped in spray from head to foot. The Captain
was smiling as usual, the first officer laughed, and showed his white
teeth, at the sight of the ship pitching enough to make one think the
masts and chimneys were coming down.

Nevertheless I was really astonished at the Captain’s obstinacy. At
half-past seven, the aspect of the Atlantic was terrible; the sea swept
right across the deck at the bows. I watched this grand sight; this
struggle between the giant and the billows, and to a certain extent I
could sympathize with the Captain’s wilfulness; but I was forgetting
that the power of the sea is infinite, and that nothing made by the hand
of man can resist it; and, indeed, powerful as she was, our ship was at
last obliged to fly before the tempest.

Suddenly, at about eight o’clock, a violent shock was felt, caused by a
formidable swoop of the sea, which struck the ship on her fore larboard

“That was not a box on the ear, it was a blow in the face,” said the
Doctor to me.

And the blow had evidently bruised us, for spars appeared on the crests
of the waves. Was it part of our ship that was making off in this
manner, or the _débris_ of a wreck?

On a sign from the Captain, the “Great Eastern” shifted her course, in
order to avoid the spars, which threatened to get entangled in the
paddles. Looking more attentively, I saw that the sea had carried off
the bulwarks on the larboard side, which were fifty feet above the
surface of the water; the jambs were broken, the taggers torn away, and
the shattered remnants of glass still trembled in their casements. The
“Great Eastern” had staggered beneath the shock, but she continued her
way with an indomitable audacity. It was necessary, as quickly as
possible, to remove the spars which encumbered the ship at the bows, and
in order to do this it was indispensable to avoid the sea, but the
steam-ship obstinately continued to make head against the waves. The
spirit of her captain seemed to animate her; he did not want to yield,
and yield he would not. An officer and some men were sent to the bows to
clear the deck.

“Mind,” said the Doctor to me, “the moment of the catastrophe is not far

The sailors went towards the bows, whilst we fastened ourselves to the
second mast, and looked through the spray, which fell in showers over us
with each wave. Suddenly there was another swoop more violent than the
first, and the sea poured through the barricading by the opened breach,
tore off an enormous sheet of cast-iron which covered the bit of the
bows, broke away the massive top of the hatchway leading to the crew’s
berths, and lashing against the starboard barricadings, swept them off
like the sheets of a sail.

The men were knocked down; one of them, an officer, half-drowned, shook
his red whiskers, and picked himself up; then seeing one of the sailors
lying unconscious across an anchor, he hurried towards him, lifted him
on his shoulders and carried him away. At this moment the rest of the
crew escaped through the broken hatchway. There were three feet of water
in the tween-decks, new spars covered the sea, and amongst other things
several thousand of the dolls, which my countryman had thought to
acclimatize in America; these little bodies, torn from their cases by
the sea, danced on the summits of the waves, and under less serious
circumstances the sight would have been truly ludicrous. In the meantime
the inundation was gaining on us, large bodies of water were pouring in
through the opened gaps, and according to the engineer, the “Great
Eastern” shipped more than two thousand tons of water, enough to float a
frigate of the largest size.


“Well!” exclaimed the Doctor, whose hat had been blown off in the
hurricane, “to keep in this position is impossible; it is fool-hardy to
hold on any longer; we ought to take flight, the steam-ship going with
her battered stem ahead, is like a man swimming between two currents,
with his mouth open.”

This Captain Anderson understood at last, for I saw him run to the
little wheel on the bridge which commanded the movement of the rudder,
the steam immediately rushed into the cylinders at the stern, and the
giant turning like a canoe made head towards the north, and fled before
the storm.

At this moment, the Captain, generally so calm and self-possessed, cried

“My ship is disgraced.”

                              CHAPTER XXV.

Scarcely had the “Great Eastern” tacked and presented her stern to the
waves, than the pitching gave way to perfect steadiness; breakfast was
served, and the greater part of the passengers, reassured by the ship’s
stillness, came into the dining-rooms, and took their repast without
fear of another shock. Not a plate fell off the table, and not a glass
emptied its contents on to the cloth, although the racks had not even
been put up. But three quarters of an hour later the furniture was set
in motion again, and the crockery clattered together on the pantry
shelves, for the “Great Eastern” had resumed her westerly course, which
for the time had been interrupted.

I went on deck again with Dr. Pitferge, who seeing the man belonging to
the dolls said to him,—

“Your little people have been put to a severe test, sir; those poor
babies will never prattle in the United States.”

“Pshaw!” replied the enterprising Parisian, “the stock was insured, and
my secret has not perished with it.”

It was evident my countryman was not a man to be easily disheartened, he
bowed to us with a pleasant smile, and we continued our way to the
stern, where a steersman told us that the rudder-chains had been jammed
in the interval between the two swoops.

“If that accident had happened when we were turning,” said Pitferge to
me, “I cannot say what would have become of us, for the sea would have
rushed in, in overwhelming torrents; the steam pumps have already begun
to reduce the water, but there is more coming yet.”

“And what of the unfortunate sailor?” asked I of the Doctor.

“He is severely wounded on his head, poor fellow! he is a young married
fisherman, the father of two children, and this is his first voyage. The
Doctor seems to think there is hope of his recovery, and that is what
makes me fear for him, but we shall soon see for ourselves. A report was
spread that several men had been washed overboard, but happily there was
no foundation for it.”

“We have resumed our course at last,” said I.

“Yes,” replied the Doctor, “the westerly course, against wind and tide,
there is no doubt about that,” added he, catching hold of a kevel to
prevent himself from rolling on the deck. “Do you know what I should do
with the ‘Great Eastern’ if she belonged to me? No. Well, I would make a
pleasure-boat of her, and charge 10,000 francs a head; there would only
be millionnaires on board, and people who were not pressed for time. I
would take a month or six weeks going from England to America; the ship
never against the waves, and the wind always ahead or astern; there
should be no rolling, no pitching, and I would pay a 100_F._ in any case
of sea-sickness.”

“That is a practical idea,” said I.

“Yes,” replied Pitferge, “there’s money to be gained or lost by that!”

In the meantime the “Great Eastern” was slowly but steadily continuing
her way; the swell was frightful, but her straight stem cut the waves
regularly, and shipped no more water. It was no longer a metal mountain
making against a mountain of water, but as sedentary as a rock; the
“Great Eastern” received the billows with perfect indifference. The rain
fell in torrents, and we were obliged to take refuge under the eaves of
the grand saloon; with the shower the violence of the wind and sea
assuaged; the western sky grew clear, and the last black clouds vanished
in the opposite horizon; at ten o’clock the hurricane sent us a farewell

At noon an observation was able to be made and was as follows:—

                      Lat.    49° 50´, N.
                      Long.   61° 57´, W.
                      Course, 193 miles.

This considerable diminution in the ship’s speed could only be
attributed to the tempest, which during the night and morning had
incessantly beaten against the ship, and a tempest so terrible that one
of the passengers, almost an inhabitant of the Atlantic, which he had
crossed forty-four times, declared he had never seen the like. The
engineer even said that during the storm, when the “Great Eastern” was
three days in the trough of the sea, the ship had never been attacked
with such violence, and it must be repeated that even if this admirable
steam-ship did go at an inferior speed, and rolled decidedly too much,
she nevertheless presented a sure security against the fury of the sea,
which she resisted like a block, owing to the perfect homogeneity of her

But let me also say, however powerful she might be, it was not right to
expose her, without any reason whatever, to a baffling sea; for however
strong, however imposing a ship may appear, it is not “disgraced”
because it flies before the tempest. A commander ought always to
remember that a man’s life is worth more than the mere satisfaction of
his own pride. In any case, to be obstinate is blameable, and to be
wilful is dangerous. A recent incident in which a dreadful catastrophe
happened to a Transatlantic steamer shows us that a captain ought not to
struggle blindly against the sea, even when he sees the boat of a rival
company creeping ahead.

                             CHAPTER XXVI.

In the meantime the pumps were exhausting the lake which had been formed
in the hold of the “Great Eastern,” like a lagoon in the middle of an
island; powerfully and rapidly worked by steam they speedily restored to
the Atlantic that which belonged to it. The rain had ceased and the wind
freshened again, but the sky, swept by the tempest, was clear. I stayed
several hours after dark walking on deck. Great floods of light poured
from the half-opened hatchways of the saloons, and at the stern
stretched a phosphorescent light as far as the eye could reach, streaked
here and there by the luminous crests of the waves. The stars reflected
in the lactescent water appeared and disappeared, as though peering
through rapidly driving clouds. Night had spread her sombre covering far
and near; forward roared the thunder of the wheels, whilst beneath me I
heard the clanking of the rudder-chains.

Going back to the saloon door I was surprised to see there a compact
crowd of spectators, and to hear vociferous applauses, for, in spite of
the day’s disasters, the entertainment was taking place as usual. Not a
thought of the wounded and, perhaps, dying sailor. The assembly seemed
highly animated, and loud hurrahs hailed the appearance of a troop of
minstrels on board the “Great Eastern.” The niggers—black, or blackened,
according to their origin—were no others than sailors in disguise. They
were dressed in cast-off trumpery, ornamented with sea-biscuits for
buttons; the opera-glasses which they sported were composed of two
bottles fastened together, and their jew’s-harps consisted of catgut
stretched on cork. These merry-andrews were amusing enough upon the
whole; they sang comic songs, and improvised a mixture of puns and
cock-and-bull stories. The uproarious cheers with which their
performances were greeted only made them increase their contortions and
grimaces, until one of them, as nimble as a monkey, finished the
performance by dancing the sailor’s hornpipe.

[Illustration: A TROOP OF MINSTRELS.]

However amusing the minstrels may have been, they had not succeeded in
attracting all the passengers. Numbers of them had flocked to their
usual haunt, the “smoking-room,” and were eagerly pressing round the
gaming-tables, where enormous stakes were being made, some defending
their acquisitions during the voyage, others trying to conquer fate by
making rash wagers at the last moment. The room was in a violent uproar,
one could hear the voice of the money agent crying the stakes, the oaths
of the losers, the clinking of gold, and the rustling of dollar-papers;
then there was a sudden lull, the uproar was silenced by a bold stake,
but as soon as the result was known the noise was redoubled.

I very seldom entered the smoking-room, for I have a horror of gambling.
It is always a vulgar and often an unhealthy pastime, and it is a vice
which does not go alone; the man who gambles will find himself capable
of any evil. Here reigned Harry Drake in the midst of his parasites,
here also flourished those adventurers who were going to seek their
fortunes in America. I always avoided a meeting with these boisterous
men, so this evening I passed the door without going in, when my
attention was arrested by a violent outburst of cries and curses. I
listened, and, after a moment’s silence, to my great astonishment I
thought I could distinguish Fabian’s voice. What could he be doing in
this place? Had he come here to look for his enemy, and thus the
catastrophe, until now avoided, been brought about?

I quickly pushed the door open: at this moment the uproar was at its
height. In the midst of the crowd of gamblers I saw Fabian standing
facing Harry Drake. I hurried towards him, Harry Drake had undoubtedly
grossly insulted him, for Fabian was aiming a blow with his fist at him,
and if it did not reach the place it was intended for, it was only
because Corsican suddenly appeared and stopped him with a quick gesture.

But, addressing himself to his enemy, Fabian said, in a cold, sarcastic

“Do you accept that blow?”

“Yes,” replied Drake, “and here is my card!”

Thus, in spite of our efforts, an inevitable fatality had brought these
two deadly enemies together. It was too late to separate them now,
events must take their course. Captain Corsican looked at me, and I was
surprised to see sadness rather than annoyance in his eyes.

[Illustration: “DO YOU ACCEPT THAT BLOW?”]

In the meantime Fabian picked up the card which Harry Drake had thrown
on the table. He held it between the tips of his fingers as if loath to
touch it. Corsican was pale, and my heart beat wildly. At last Fabian
looked at the card, and read the name on it, then with a voice stifled
by passion he cried,—

“Harry Drake! you! you! you!”

“The same, Captain Mac Elwin,” quietly replied Fabian’s rival.

We were not deceived, if Fabian was ignorant until now of Drake’s name,
the latter was only too well aware of Fabian’s presence on the “Great

                             CHAPTER XXVII.

The next day, at break of dawn, I went in search of Captain Corsican,
whom I found in the grand saloon. He had passed the night with Fabian,
who was still suffering from the shock which the name of Ellen’s husband
had given him. Did a secret intuition tell him that Drake was not alone
on board? Had Ellen’s presence been revealed to him by the appearance of
this man? Lastly, could he guess that the poor crazed woman was the
young girl whom he so fondly loved? Corsican could not say, for Fabian
had not uttered one word all night.

Corsican resented Fabian’s wrongs with a kind of brotherly feeling. The
intrepid nature of the latter had from childhood irresistibly attracted
him, and he was now in the greatest despair.

“I came in too late,” said he to me. “Before Fabian could have raised
his hand, I ought to have struck that wretch.”

“Useless violence,” replied I. “Harry Drake would not have risked a
quarrel with you; he has a grudge against Fabian, and a meeting between
the two had become inevitable.”

“You are right,” said the Captain. “That rascal has got what he wanted;
he knew Fabian, his past life, and his love. Perhaps Ellen, deprived of
reason, betrayed her secret thoughts, or, rather, did not Drake before
his marriage learn from the loyal young woman all he was ignorant of
regarding her past life? Urged by a base impulse, and finding himself in
contact with Fabian, he has waited for an opportunity in which he could
assume the part of the offended. This scoundrel ought to be a clever

“Yes,” replied I. “He has already had three or four encounters of the

“My dear sir,” said the Captain, “it is not the duel in itself which I
fear for Fabian. Captain Mac Elwin is one of those who never trouble
themselves about danger, but it is the result of this engagement which
is to be dreaded. If Fabian were to kill this man, however vile he may
be, it would place an impossible barrier between Ellen and himself, and
Heaven knows, the unhappy woman needs a support, like Fabian, in the
state she now is.”

“True,” said I; “whatever happens we can but hope that Harry Drake will
fall. Justice is on our side.”

“Certainly,” replied the Captain, “but one cannot help feeling
distressed to think that even at the risk of my own life I could not
have spared Fabian this.”

“Captain,” said I, taking the hand of this devoted friend, “Drake has
not sent his seconds yet, so that, although circumstances are against
us, I do not despair.”

“Do you know any means of preventing the duel?”

“None at present; at the same time, if the meeting must take place, it
seems to me that it can only do so in America, and before we get there,
chance, which has brought about this state of things, will, perhaps,
turn the scales in our favour.”

Captain Corsican shook his head like a man who had no faith in the
efficacy of chance in human affairs. At this moment Fabian went up the
stairs leading to the deck. I only saw him for a moment, but I was
struck by the deadly pallor of his face. The wound had been reopened,
and it was sad to see him wandering aimlessly about, trying to avoid us.

Even friendship may be troublesome at times, and Corsican and I thought
it better to respect his grief rather than interfere with him. But
suddenly Fabian turned, and coming towards us, said,—

“The mad woman, was she! It was Ellen, was it not? Poor Ellen!”

He was still doubtful, and went away without waiting for an answer,
which we had not the courage to give.

                            CHAPTER XXVIII.

At noon, Drake had not sent Fabian his seconds to my knowledge, and
these were preliminaries which could not be dispensed with, if Drake
determined to demand immediate satisfaction. Might we not take hope from
this delay? I knew that the Saxon race do not regard a debt of honour as
we do, and that duels had almost disappeared from English customs, for,
as I have already said, not only is there a severe law against
duellists, but, moreover, the public opinion is strongly averse to them.
At the same time, in this, which was an uncommon case, the engagement
had evidently been voluntarily sought for; the offended had, so to
speak, provoked the offender, and my reasonings always tended to the
same conclusion, that a meeting between Fabian and Harry Drake was

The deck was at this moment crowded with passengers and crew returning
from service.

At half-past twelve the observation resulted in the following note:—

                      Lat.    40° 33´ N.
                      Long.   66° 24´ W.
                      Course, 214 miles.

Thus the “Great Eastern” was only 348 miles from Sandy Hook Point, a
narrow tongue of land which forms the entrance to the New York harbour;
it would not be long before we were in American seas.

I did not see Fabian in his usual place at lunch, but Drake was there,
and although talkative, he did not appear to be quite at his ease. Was
he trying to drown his fears in wine? I cannot say, but he indulged in
bountiful libations with his friends. Several times I saw him leering at
me, but insolent as he was, he dared not look me in the face. Was he
looking for Fabian among the crowd of guests? I noticed he left the
table abruptly before the meal was finished, and I got up immediately,
in order to observe him, but he went to his cabin and shut himself up

I went up on deck. Not a wave disturbed the calm surface of the sea, and
the sky was unsullied by a cloud; the two mirrors mutually reflected
their azure hue. I met Doctor Pitferge, who gave me bad news of the
wounded sailor. The invalid was getting worse, and, in spite of the
doctor’s assurance, it was difficult to think that he could recover.

At four o’clock, a few minutes before dinner, a ship was hailed to
larboard. The first officer told me he thought it must be the “City of
Paris,” one of the finest steamers of the “Inman Company,” but he was
mistaken, for the steamer coming nearer, sent us her name, which was the
“Saxonia,” belonging to the “National Steamship Company.” For a few
minutes the two boats came alongside, within two or three cables’ length
of each other. The deck of the “Saxonia” was covered with passengers,
who saluted us with loud cheers.

At five o’clock another ship on the horizon, but too far off for her
nationality to be recognized. This time it was undoubtedly the “City of
Paris.” This meeting with ships, and the salutation between the
Atlantic’s visitors, caused great excitement on board. One can
understand that as there is little difference between one ship and
another, the common danger of facing the uncertain element unites even
strangers by a friendly bond.

At six o’clock a third ship appeared, the “Philadelphia,” one of the
Inman line, used for the transportation of emigrants from Liverpool to
New York. We were evidently in frequented seas, and land could not be
far off. How I longed to reach it!

The “Europe,” a steamer belonging to the “Transatlantic Company,”
carrying passengers from Havre to New York, was expected, but she did
not come in sight, and had most likely taken a more northerly course.

Night closed in about half-past seven. As the sun sank below the
horizon, the moon grew brighter and for some time hung shining in the
heavens. A prayer-meeting, held by Captain Anderson, interspersed with
hymns, lasted until nine o’clock.

The day passed without either Captain Corsican or myself receiving a
visit from Drake’s seconds.

                             CHAPTER XXIX.

The next day, Monday, the 8th of April, the weather was very fine. I
found the Doctor on deck basking in the sun. He came up to me. “Ah
well!” said he, “our poor sufferer died in the night. The doctor never
gave him up—oh, those doctors! they never will give in. This is the
fourth man we have lost since we left Liverpool, the fourth gone towards
paying the ‘Great Eastern’s’ debt, and we are not at the end of our
voyage yet.”

“Poor fellow,” said I, “just as we are nearing port, and the American
coast almost in sight. What will become of his widow and little

“Would you have it otherwise, my dear sir. It is the law, the great law!
we must die! We must give way to others. It is my opinion we die simply
because we are occupying a place which by rights belongs to another. Now
can you tell me how many people will have died during my existence if I
live to be sixty?”

“I have no idea, Doctor.”

“The calculation is simple enough,” resumed Dean Pitferge. “If I live
sixty years, I shall have been in the world 21,900 days, or 525,600
hours, or 31,536,000 minutes, or lastly, 1,892,160,000 seconds, in round
numbers 2,000,000,000 seconds. Now in that time two thousand millions
individuals who were in the way of their successors will have died, and
when I have become inconvenient, I shall be put out of the way in the
same manner, so that the long and short of the matter is to put off
becoming inconvenient as long as possible.”

The Doctor continued for some time arguing on this subject, tending to
prove to me a very simple theory, the mortality of human creatures. I
did not think it worth while to discuss the point with him, so I let him
have his say. Whilst we paced backwards and forwards, the Doctor
talking, and I listening, I noticed that the carpenters on board were
busy repairing the battered stem. If Captain Anderson did not wish to
arrive in New York with damages, the carpenters would have to hurry over
their work, for the “Great Eastern” was rapidly speeding through the
tranquil waters; this I understood from the lively demeanour of the
young lovers, who no longer thought of counting the turns of the wheels.
The long pistons expanded, and the enormous cylinders heaving on their
axle-swings, looked like a great peal of bells clanging together at
random. The wheels made eleven revolutions a minute, and the steam-ship
went at the rate of thirteen miles an hour.

At noon the officers dispensed with making an observation; they knew
their situation by calculation, and land must be signalled before long.

While I was walking on deck after lunch, Captain Corsican came up. I
saw, from the thoughtful expression on his face, that he had something
to tell me.

“Fabian,” said he, “has received Drake’s seconds. I am to be his second,
and he begs me to ask you if you would kindly be present on the
occasion. He may rely on you?”

“Yes, Captain; so all hope of deferring or preventing this meeting has

“All hope.”

“But tell me, how did the quarrel arise?”

“A discussion about the play was a pretext for it, nothing else. The
fact is if Fabian was not aware who Harry Drake was, it is quite evident
he knew Fabian, and the name of Fabian is so odious to him that he would
gladly slay the man to whom it belongs.”

“Who are Drake’s seconds?” I asked.

“One of them is that actor—”

“Doctor T——?”

“Just so; the other is a Yankee I do not know.”

“When are you to expect them?”

“I am waiting for them here.”

And just as he spoke I saw the seconds coming towards us. Doctor T——
cleared his throat; he undoubtedly thought a great deal more of himself
as the representative of a rogue. His companion, another of Drake’s
associates, was one of those extraordinary merchants who has always for
sale anything you may ask him to buy.

Doctor T—— spoke first, after making a very emphatic bow, which Captain
Corsican hardly condescended to acknowledge.

“Gentlemen,” said Doctor T——, in a grave tone, “our friend Drake, a
gentleman whose merit and deportment cannot fail to be appreciated by
every one, has sent us to arrange a somewhat delicate affair with you;
that is to say, Captain Fabian Mac Elwin, to whom we first addressed
ourselves, referred us to you as his representative. I hope that we
shall be able to come to an understanding between ourselves worthy the
position of gentlemen touching the delicate object of our mission.”

We made no reply, but allowed the gentleman to become embarrassed with
his delicacy.

“Gentlemen,” continued he, “there is not the remotest doubt but that
Captain Mac Elwin is in the wrong. That gentleman has unreasonably, and
without the slightest pretext, questioned the honour of Harry Drake’s
proceedings in a matter of play, and without any provocation offered him
the greatest insult a gentleman could receive.”

These honeyed words made the Captain impatient, he bit his moustache,
and could refrain speaking no longer.

“Come to the point,” said he sharply to Doctor T——, whose speech he had
interrupted, “we don’t want so many words; the affair is simple enough;
Captain Mac Elwin raised his hand against Mr. Drake, your friend
accepted the blow, he assumes the part of the offended, and demands
satisfaction. He has the choice of arms. What next?”

“Does Captain Mac Elwin accept the challenge?” asked the Doctor, baffled
by Corsican’s tone.


“Our friend, Harry Drake, has chosen swords.”

“Very well, and where is the engagement to take place? In New York?”

“No, here on board.”

“On board, be it so; at what time? To-morrow morning?”

“This evening at six o’clock, at the end of the upper deck, which will
be deserted at that time.”

“Very well.”

Thus saying, the Captain took my arm, and turned his back on Dr. T——.

                              CHAPTER XXX.

It was no longer possible to put off the duel. Only a few hours
separated us from the moment when Fabian and Harry Drake must meet. What
could be the reason of this haste? How was it that Harry Drake had not
delayed the duel until he and his enemy had disembarked? Was it because
this ship, freighted by a French company, seemed to him the most
favourable ground for a meeting which must be a deadly struggle? Or
rather, might not Drake have a secret interest in freeing himself of
Fabian before the latter could set foot on the American continent, or
suspect the presence of Ellen on board, which he must have thought was
unknown to all save himself? Yes, it must have been for this reason.

“Little matter, after all,” said the Captain; “far better to have it

“Shall I ask Dr. Pitferge to be present at the duel as a doctor?”

“Yes, it would be well to do so.”

Corsican left me to go to Fabian. At this moment the bell on deck began
tolling, and when I inquired of a steersman the reason of this unusual
occurrence, he told me that it was for the burial of the sailor who had
died in the night, and that the sad ceremony was about to take place.
The sky, until now so clear, became overcast, and dark clouds loomed
threateningly in the south.

At the sound of the bell the passengers flocked to the starboard side.
The bridges, paddle-boards, bulwarks, masts and shore-boats, hanging
from their davits, were crowded with spectators, the officers, sailors,
and stokers off duty, stood in ranks on deck.

At two o’clock a group of sailors appeared at the far end of the upper
deck, they had left the hospital, and were passing the rudder-engine.
The corpse, sewn in a piece of sail and stretched on a board, with a
cannon ball at the feet, was carried by four men. The body, covered with
the British flag, and followed by the dead man’s comrades, slowly
advanced into the midst of the spectators, who uncovered their heads as
the procession passed.

On their arrival at the starboard paddle-wheel, the corpse was deposited
on a landing of a staircase which terminated at the main deck.

In front of the row of spectators, standing one above the other, were
Captain Anderson and his principal officers in full uniform. The
Captain, holding a prayer-book in his hand, took his hat off, and for
some minutes, during a profound silence, which not even the breeze
interrupted, he solemnly read the prayer for the dead, every word of
which was distinctly audible in the deathlike silence.

[Illustration: THE PRAYER FOR THE DEAD.]

On a sign from the Captain the body, released by the bearers, sank into
the sea. For one moment it floated on the surface, became upright, and
then disappeared in a circle of foam.

At this moment the voice of the sailor on watch was heard crying “Land!”

                             CHAPTER XXXI.

The land announced at the moment when the sea was closing over the
corpse of the poor sailor was low-lying and of a yellow colour. This
line of slightly elevated downs was Long Island, a great sandy bank
enlivened with vegetation, which stretches along the American coast from
Montauk Point to Brooklyn, adjoining New York. Several yachts were
coasting along this island, which is covered with villas and
pleasure-houses, the favourite resorts of the New Yorkists.

Every passenger waved his hand to the land so longed for after the
tedious voyage, which had not been exempt from painful accidents. Every
telescope was directed towards this first specimen of the American
continent, and each saw it under a different aspect. The Yankee beheld
in it his mother-land; the Southerner regarded these northern lands with
a kind of scorn, the scorn of the conquered for the conqueror; the
Canadian looked upon it as a man who had only one step to take to call
himself a citizen of the Union; the Californian in his mind’s eye
traversed the plains of the Far West, and crossing the Rocky Mountains
had already set foot on their inexhaustible mines. The Mormonite, with
elevated brow and scornful lip, hardly noticed these shores, but peered
beyond to where stood the City of the Saints on the borders of Salt
Lake, in the far-off deserts. As for the young lovers, this continent
was to them the Promised Land.

In the meanwhile the sky was growing more and more threatening. A dark
line of clouds gathered in the zenith, and a suffocating heat penetrated
the atmosphere as though a July sun was shining directly above us.

“Would you like me to astonish you?” said the Doctor, who had joined me
on the gangway.

“Astonish me, Doctor?”

“Well, then, we shall have a storm, perhaps a thunder-storm, before the
day is over.”

“A thunder-storm in the month of April!” I cried.

“The ‘Great Eastern’ does not trouble herself about seasons,” replied
Dean Pitferge, shrugging his shoulders. “It is a tempest called forth
expressly on her account. Look at the threatening aspect of those clouds
which cover the sky; they look like antediluvian animals, and before
long they will devour each other.”

“I confess,” said I, “the sky looks stormy, and were it three months
later I should be of your opinion, but not at this time of year.”

“I tell you,” replied the Doctor, growing animated, “the storm will
burst out before many hours are past. I feel it like a barometer. Look
at those vapours rising in a mass, observe that cirrus, those mares’
tails which are blending together, and those thick circles which
surround the horizon. Soon there will be a rapid condensing of vapour,
which will consequently produce electricity. Besides the mercury has
suddenly fallen, and the prevailing wind is south-west, the only one
which can brew a storm in winter.”

“Your observations may be very true, Doctor,” said I, not willing to
yield, “but who has ever witnessed a thunder-storm at this season, and
in this latitude?”

“We have proof, sir, we have proof on record. Mild winters are often
marked by storms. You ought only to have lived in 1772, or even in 1824,
and you would have heard the roaring of the thunder, in the first
instance in February, and in the second in December. In the month of
January, 1837, a thunder-bolt fell near Drammen in Norway, and did
considerable mischief. Last year, in the month of February,
fishing-smacks from Tréport were struck by lightning. If I had time to
consult statistics I would soon put you to silence.”

“Well, Doctor, since you will have it so, we shall soon see. At any
rate, you are not afraid of thunder?”

“Not I,” replied the Doctor. “The thunder is my friend; better still, it
is my doctor.”

“Your doctor?”

“Most certainly. I was struck by lightning in my bed on the 13th July,
1867, at Kew, near London, and it cured me of paralysis in my right arm,
when the doctors had given up the case as hopeless.”

“You must be joking.”

“Not at all. It is an economical treatment by electricity. My dear sir,
there are many very authentic facts which prove that thunder surpasses
the most skilful physicians, and its intervention is truly marvellous in
apparently hopeless cases.”

“Nevertheless,” said I, “I have little trust in your doctor, and would
not willingly consult him.”

“Because you have never seen him at work. Stay; here is an instance
which I have heard of as occurring in 1817. A peasant in Connecticut,
who was suffering from asthma, supposed to be incurable, was struck by
lightning in a field, and radically cured.”

In fact I believe the Doctor would have been capable of making the
thunder into pills.

“Laugh, ignoramus!” said he to me. “You know nothing either of the
weather or medicine!”

                             CHAPTER XXXII.

Dean Pitferge left me, but I remained on deck, watching the storm rise.
Corsican was still closeted with Fabian, who was undoubtedly making some
arrangements in case of misfortune. I then remembered that he had a
sister in New York, and I shuddered at the thought that perhaps we
should have to carry to her the news of her brother’s death. I should
like to have seen Fabian, but I thought it better not to disturb either
him or Captain Corsican.


At four o’clock we came in sight of land stretching before Long Island.
It was Fire Island. In the centre rose a lighthouse, which shone over
the surrounding land. The passengers again invaded the upper decks and
bridges. All eyes were strained towards the coast, distant about six
miles. They were waiting for the moment when the arrival of the pilot
should settle the great pool business. It may be thought that those who
had night quarters, and I was of the number, had given up all
pretensions, and that those with the day quarters, except those included
between four and six o’clock, had no longer any chance. Before night the
pilot would come on board and settle this affair, so that all the
interest was now concentrated in the seven or eight persons to whom fate
had attributed the next quarters. The latter were taking advantage of
their good luck—selling, buying, and reselling their chances, bartering
with such energy one might almost have fancied oneself in the Royal

At sixteen minutes past four a small schooner, bearing towards the
steam-ship, was signalled to starboard. There was no longer any possible
doubt of its being the pilot’s boat, and he would be on board in
fourteen or fifteen minutes at the most. The struggle was now between
the possessors of the second and third quarters from four to five
o’clock. Demands and offers were made with renewed vivacity. Then absurd
wagers were laid even on the pilot’s person, the tenor of which I have
faithfully given.

“Ten dollars that the pilot is married.”

“Twenty that he is a widower.”

“Thirty dollars that he has a moustache.”

“Sixty that he has a wart on his nose.”

“A hundred dollars that he will step on board with his right foot

“He will smoke.”

“He will have a pipe in his mouth.”

“No! a cigar.”

“No!” “Yes!” “No!”

And twenty other wagers quite as ridiculous, which found those more
absurd still to accept them.


In the meanwhile the little schooner was sensibly approaching the
steam-ship, and we could distinguish her graceful proportions. These
charming little pilot-boats, of about fifty or sixty tons, are good
sea-boats, skimming over the water like sea-gulls. The schooner,
gracefully inclined, was bearing windward in spite of the breeze, which
had begun to freshen. Her mast and foresails stood out clearly against
the dark background of clouds, and the sea foamed beneath her bows. When
at two cables’ length from the “Great Eastern,” she suddenly veered and
launched a shore-boat. Captain Anderson gave orders to heave-to, and for
the first time during a fortnight the wheels of the screw were
motionless. A man got into the boat, which four sailors quickly pulled
to the steam-ship. A rope-ladder was thrown over the side of the giant
down to the pilot in his little nutshell, which the latter caught, and,
skilfully climbing, sprang on deck.

He was received with joyous cries by the winners, and exclamations of
disappointment from the losers. The pool was regulated by the following

“The pilot was married.”

“He had no wart on his nose.”

“He had a light moustache.”

“He had jumped on board with both feet.”

“Lastly, it was thirty-six minutes past four o’clock when he set foot on
the deck of the ‘Great Eastern.’”

The possessor of the thirty-third quarter thus gained the ninety-six
dollars, and it was Captain Corsican, who had hardly thought of the
unexpected gain. It was not long before he appeared on deck, and when
the pool was presented to him, he begged Captain Anderson to keep it for
the widow of the young sailor whose death had been caused by the inroad
of the sea. The Captain shook his hand without saying a word, but a
moment afterwards a sailor came up to Corsican, and, bowing awkwardly,
“Sir,” said he, “my mates have sent me to say that you are a very kind
gentleman, and they all thank you in the name of poor Wilson, who cannot
thank you for himself.”

The Captain, moved by the rough sailor’s speech, silently pressed his

As for the pilot, he was a man of short stature, with not much of the
sailor-look about him. He wore a glazed hat, black trousers, a brown
overcoat lined with red, and carried an umbrella. He was master on board

In springing on deck, before he went to the bridge, he had thrown a
bundle of papers among the passengers, who eagerly pounced on them. They
were European and American journals—the political and civil bonds which
again united the “Great Eastern” to the two continents.

                            CHAPTER XXXIII.

The storm was gathering, and a black arch of clouds had formed over our
heads; the atmosphere was misty; nature was evidently about to justify
Dr. Pitferge’s presentiments. The steam-ship had slackened her speed,
and the wheels only made three or four revolutions a minute; volumes of
white steam escaped from the half-open valves, the anchor-chains were
cleared, and the British flag floated from the main-mast; these
arrangements Captain Anderson had made preparatory to mooring. The
pilot, standing on the top of the starboard paddle, guided the
steam-ship through the narrow passages; but the tide was already
turning, so that the “Great Eastern” could not yet cross the bar of the
Hudson, and we must wait till next day.

At a quarter to five by the pilot’s order the anchors were let go; the
chains rattled through the hawse-holes with a noise like thunder. I even
thought for a moment that the storm had burst forth. When the anchors
were firmly embedded in the sand, the “Great Eastern” swung round by the
ebb tide, remained motionless, and not a wave disturbed the surface of
the water.

At this moment the steward’s trumpet sounded for the last time; it
called the passengers to their farewell dinner. The “Society of
Freighters” would be prodigal with the champagne, and no one wished to
be absent. An hour later the saloons were crowded with guests, and the
deck deserted.

However, seven persons left their places unoccupied; the two
adversaries, who were going to stake their lives in a duel, the four
seconds, and the Doctor, who was to be present at the engagement. The
time and the place for the meeting had been well chosen; there was not a
creature on deck; the passengers were in the dining-rooms, the sailors
in their berths, the officers absorbed with their own particular
bottles, and not a steersman on board, for the ship was motionless at

At ten minutes past five the Doctor and I were joined by Fabian and
Captain Corsican. I had not seen Fabian since the scene in the
smoking-room. He seemed to me sad, but very calm. The thought of the
duel troubled him little, apparently; his mind was elsewhere, and his
eyes wandered restlessly in search of Ellen. He held out his hand to me
without saying a word.

“Has not Harry Drake arrived?” asked the Captain of me.

“Not yet,” I replied.

“Let us go to the stern; that is the place of rendezvous.”

Fabian, Captain Corsican, and I, walked along the upper decks; the sky
was growing dark; we heard the distant roar of thunder rumbling along
the horizon. It was like a monotonous bass, enlivened by the hips and
hurrahs issuing from the saloons; flashes of lightning darted through
the black clouds, and the atmosphere was powerfully charged with

At twenty minutes past five Harry Drake and his seconds made their
appearance. The gentlemen bowed to us, which honour we strictly
returned. Drake did not utter a word, but his face showed signs of
ill-concealed excitement. He cast a look of malignant hatred on Fabian;
but the latter, leaning against the hatchway, did not even see him; so
absorbed was he in a profound meditation, he seemed not yet to have
thought of the part he was to play in this drama.

In the meanwhile Captain Corsican, addressing himself to the Yankee, one
of Drake’s seconds, asked him for the swords, which the latter presented
to him. They were battle swords, the basket-hilts of which entirely
protected the hand which held them. Corsican took them, bent, and
measured them, and then allowed the Yankee to choose. Whilst these
preparations were being made, Harry Drake had taken off his hat and
jacket, unbuttoned his shirt, and turned up his sleeves; then he seized
his sword, and I saw that he was left-handed, which gave him, accustomed
to right-handed antagonists, an unquestionable advantage.

Fabian had not yet left the place where he was standing. One would have
thought that these preparations had nothing to do with him. Captain
Corsican went up to him, touched him, and showed him the sword. Fabian
looked at the glittering steel, and it seemed as if his memory came back
to him at that moment.

He grasped his sword with a firm hand.

“Right!” he murmured; “I remember!”

Then he placed himself opposite Harry Drake, who immediately assumed the

“Proceed, gentlemen,” said the Captain.

They immediately crossed swords. From the first clashing of steel,
several rapid passes on both sides, certain extrications, parries, and
thrusts proved to me the equality in strength of the opponents. I
augured well for Fabian. He was cool, self-possessed, and almost
indifferent to the struggle; certainly less affected by it than were his
own seconds. Harry Drake, on the contrary, scowled at him with flashing
eyes and clenched teeth, his head bent forward, and his whole
countenance indicative of a hatred which deprived him of all composure.
He had come there to kill, and kill he would.

After the first engagement, which lasted some minutes, swords were
lowered. With the exception of a slight scratch on Fabian’s arm, neither
of the combatants had been wounded. They rested, and Drake wiped off the
perspiration with which his face was bathed.

The storm now burst forth in all its fury. The thunder was continuous,
and broke out in loud deafening reports; the atmosphere was charged with
electricity to such an extent that the swords were gilded with luminous
crests, like lightning conductors in the midst of thunder clouds.

After a few moments’ rest, Corsican again gave the signal to proceed,
and Fabian and Harry Drake again fell to work.

This time the fight was much more animated; Fabian defending himself
with astounding calmness, Drake madly attacking him. Several times I
expected a stroke from Fabian, which was not even attempted.

Suddenly, after some quick passes, Drake made a rapid stroke. I thought
that Fabian must have been struck in the chest, but, warding off the
blow, he struck Harry Drake’s sword smartly. The latter raised and
covered himself by a swift semi-circle; whilst the lightning rent the
clouds overhead.

Suddenly, and without anything to explain this strange surrender of
himself, Fabian dropped his sword. Had he been mortally wounded without
our noticing it? The blood rushed wildly to my heart. Fabian’s eyes had
grown singularly animated.

“Defend yourself,” roared Drake, drawing himself up like a tiger ready
to spring on to his prey.

I thought that it was all over with Fabian, disarmed as he was. Corsican
threw himself between him and his enemy, to prevent the latter from
striking a defenceless man; but now Harry Drake in his turn stood

I turned, and saw Ellen, pale as death, her hands stretched out, coming
towards the duellists. Fabian, fascinated by this apparition, remained
perfectly still.

“You! you!” cried Harry Drake to Ellen; “you here!”


His uplifted blade gleamed as though on fire; one might have said it was
the sword of the archangel Michael in the hands of a demon.

Suddenly a brilliant flash of lightning lit up the whole stern. I was
almost knocked down, and felt suffocated, for the air was filled with
sulphur; but by a powerful effort I regained my senses.

I had fallen on one knee, but I got up and looked around. Ellen was
leaning on Fabian. Harry Drake seemed petrified, and remained in the
same position, but his face had grown black.

Had the unhappy man been struck when attracting the lightning with his

Ellen left Fabian, and went up to Drake with her face full of holy
compassion. She placed her hand on his shoulder; even this light touch
was enough to disturb the equilibrium, and Drake fell to the ground a

Ellen bent over the body, whilst we drew back terrified. The wretched
Harry Drake was dead.

“Struck by lightning,” said Dean Pitferge, catching hold of my arm.
“Struck by lightning! Ah! will you not now believe in the intervention
of thunder?”

Had Harry Drake indeed been struck by lightning as Dean Pitferge
affirmed, or rather, as the doctor on board said, had a blood-vessel
broken in his chest? I can only say there was nothing now but a corpse
before our eyes.

                             CHAPTER XXXIV.

The next day, Tuesday, the 9th of April, the “Great Eastern” weighed
anchor, and set sail to enter the Hudson, the pilot guiding her with an
unerring eye. The storm had spent itself in the night, and the last
black clouds disappeared below the horizon. The aspect of the sea was
enlivened by a flotilla of schooners, waiting along the coast for the

A small steamer came alongside, and we were boarded by the officer of
the New York sanitary commissioners.

It was not long before we passed the light-boat which marks the channels
of the Hudson, and ranged near Sandy Hook Point, where a group of
spectators greeted us with a volley of hurrahs.

When the “Great Eastern” had gone round the interior bay formed by Sandy
Hook Point, through the flotilla of fishing-smacks, I caught a glimpse
of the verdant heights of New Jersey, the enormous forts on the bay,
then the low line of the great city stretching between the Hudson and
East river.

In another hour, after having ranged opposite the New York quays, the
“Great Eastern” was moored in the Hudson, and the anchors became
entangled in the submarine cable, which must necessarily be broken on
her departure.

Then began the disembarkation of all my fellow-voyagers whom I should
never see again: Californians, Southerners, Mormonites, and the young
lovers. I was waiting for Fabian and Corsican.

I had been obliged to inform Captain Anderson of the incidents relating
to the duel which had taken place on board. The doctors made their
report, and nothing whatever having been found wrong in the death of
Harry Drake, orders were given that the last duties might be rendered to
him on land.

At this moment Cockburn, the statistician, who had not spoken to me the
whole of the voyage, came up and said,—

“Do you know, sir, how many turns the wheels have made during our

“I do not, sir.”

“One hundred thousand, seven hundred and twenty-three.”

“Ah! really sir, and the screw?”

“Six hundred and eight thousand, one hundred and thirty.”

“I am much obliged to you, sir, for the information.”

And the statistician left me without any farewell whatever.

Fabian and Corsican joined me at this moment. Fabian pressed my hand

“Ellen,” said he to me, “Ellen will recover. Her reason came back to her
for a moment. Ah! God is just, and He will restore her wholly to us.”

Whilst thus speaking, Fabian smiled as he thought of the future. As for
Captain Corsican, he kissed me heartily without any ceremony.

“Good-bye, good-bye, we shall see you again,” he cried to me, when he
had taken his place in the tender where were Fabian and Ellen, under the
care of Mrs. R——, Captain Mac Elwin’s sister, who had come to meet her

Then the tender sheered off, taking the first convoy of passengers to
the Custom House pier.

I watched them as they went farther and farther away, and, seeing Ellen
sitting between Fabian and his sister, I could not doubt that care,
devotion, and love would restore to this poor mind the reason of which
grief had robbed it.

Just then some one took hold of my arm, and I knew it was Dr. Pitferge.

“Well,” said he, “and what is going to become of you?”

“My idea was, Doctor, since the ‘Great Eastern’ remains a hundred and
ninety-two hours at New York, and as I must return with her, to spend
the hundred and ninety-two hours in America. Certainly it is but a week,
but a week well spent is, perhaps, long enough to see New York, the
Hudson, the Mohawk Valley, Lake Erie, Niagara, and all the country made
familiar by Cooper.”

“Ah! you are going to the Niagara!” cried Dean Pitferge. “I’ll declare I
should not be sorry to see it again, and if my proposal does not seem
very disagreeable to you—”

The worthy Doctor amused me with his crotchets. I had taken a fancy to
him, and here was a well-instructed guide placed at my service.

“That’s settled, then,” said I to him.

A quarter of an hour later we embarked on the tender and at three
o’clock were comfortably lodged in two rooms of Fifth Avenue Hotel.

                             CHAPTER XXXV.

A week to spend in America! The “Great Eastern” was to set sail on the
16th of April, and it was now the 9th, and three o’clock in the
afternoon, when I set foot on the land of the Union. A week! There are
furious tourists and express travellers who would probably find this
time enough to visit the whole of North America; but I had no such
pretention, not even to visit New York thoroughly, and to write, after
this extra rapid inspection, a book on the manners and customs of the
Americans. But the constitution and physical aspect of New York is soon
seen; it is hardly more varied than a chess-board. The streets, cut at
right angles, are called avenues when they are straight, and streets
when irregular. The numbers on the principal thoroughfares are a very
practical but monotonous arrangement. American cars run through all the
avenues. Any one who has seen one quarter of New York knows the whole of
the great city, except, perhaps, that intricacy of streets and confused
alleys appropriated by the commercial population.

New York is built on a tongue of land, and all its activity is centred
on the end of that tongue; on either side extend the Hudson and East
River, arms of the sea, in fact, on which ships are seen and ferry-boats
ply, connecting the town on the right hand with Brooklyn, and on the
left with the shores of New Jersey.

A single artery intersects the symmetrical quarters of New York, and
that is old Broadway, the Strand of London, and the Boulevard Montmartre
of Paris; hardly passable at its lower end, where it is crowded with
people, and almost deserted higher up; a street where sheds and marble
palaces are huddled together; a stream of carriages, omnibusses, cabs,
drays, and waggons, with the pavement for its banks, across which a
bridge has been thrown for the traffic of foot passengers. Broadway is
New York, and it was there that the Doctor and I walked until evening.

After having dined at Fifth Avenue Hotel, I ended my day’s work by going
to the Barnum Theatre, where they were acting a play called “New York
Streets,” which attracted a large audience. In the fourth Act there was
a fire, and real fire-engines, worked by real firemen; hence the “great

The next morning I left the Doctor to his own affairs, and agreed to
meet him at the hotel at two o’clock. My first proceeding was to go to
the Post Office, 51, Liberty Street, to get any letters awaiting me
there; then I went to No. 2, Bowling Green, at the bottom of Broadway,
the residence of the French consul, M. le Baron Gauldrée Boilleau, who
received me very kindly. From here I made my way to cash a draft at
Hoffman’s; lastly, I went to No. 25, Thirty-sixth Street, where resided
Mrs. R——, Fabian’s sister. I was impatient to get news of Ellen and my
two friends; and here I learnt that, following the Doctor’s advice, Mrs.
R——, Fabian, and Corsican had left New York, taking with them the young
lady, thinking that the air and quiet of the country might have a
beneficial effect on her. A line from Captain Corsican informed me of
this sudden departure. The kind fellow had been to Fifth Avenue Hotel
without meeting me, but he promised to keep me acquainted with their
whereabouts. They thought of stopping at the first place that attracted
Ellen’s attention, and, staying there as long as the charm lasted; he
hoped that I should not leave without bidding them a last farewell. Yes,
were it but for a few hours, I should be happy to see Ellen, Fabian, and
Corsican once again. But such are the drawbacks of travelling, hurried
as I was, they gone and I going, each our separate ways, it seemed
hardly likely I should see them again.

At two o’clock I returned to the hotel, and found the Doctor in the
bar-room, which was full of people. It is a public hall, where
travellers and passers-by mingled together, finding gratis iced-water,
biscuits, and cheese.

“Well, Doctor,” said I, “when shall we start?”

“At six o’clock this evening.”

“Shall we take the Hudson railroad?”

“No; the ‘St. John;’ a wonderful steamer, another world—a ‘Great
Eastern’ of the river, one of those admirable locomotive engines which
go along with a will. I should have preferred showing you the Hudson by
daylight, but the ‘St. John’ only goes at night. To-morrow, at five
o’clock in the morning, we shall be at Albany. At six o’clock we shall
take the New York Central Railroad, and in the evening we shall sup at
Niagara Falls.”

I did not discuss the Doctor’s programme, but accepted it willingly.

The hotel lift hoisted us to our rooms, and some minutes later we
descended with our tourist knapsacks. A fly took us in a quarter of an
hour to the pier on the Hudson, before which was the “St. John,” the
chimneys of which were already crowned with wreaths of smoke.

                             CHAPTER XXXVI.

The “St. John,” and its sister ship, the “Dean Richmond,” are two of the
finest steam-ships on the river. They are buildings rather than boats;
terraces rise one above another, with galleries and verandahs. One would
almost have thought it was a gardener’s floating plantation. There are
twenty flag-staffs, fastened with iron tressings, which consolidate the
whole building. The two enormous paddle-boxes are painted _al fresco_,
like the tympans in the Church of St. Mark, at Venice. Behind each wheel
rises the chimney of the two boilers, the latter placed outside, instead
of in the hull of the steam-ship, a good precaution in case of
explosion. In the centre, between the paddles, is the machinery, which
is very simple, consisting only of a single cylinder, a piston worked by
a long cross-beam, which rises and falls like the monstrous hammer of a
forge, and a single crank, communicating the movement to the axles of
the massive wheels.

Passengers were already crowding on to the deck of the “St. John.” Dean
Pitferge and I went to secure a cabin; we got one which opened into an
immense saloon, a kind of gallery with a vaulted ceiling, supported by a
succession of Corinthian pillars. Comfort and luxury everywhere,
carpets, sofas, ottomans, paintings, mirrors, even gas, made in a small
gasometer on board.

At this moment the gigantic engine trembled and began to work. I went on
to the upper terraces. At the stern was a gaily painted house, which was
the steersman’s room, where four strong men stood at the spokes of the
double rudder-wheel. After walking about for a few minutes, I went down
on to the deck, between the already heated boilers, from which light
blue flames were issuing. Of the Hudson I could see nothing. Night came,
and with it a fog thick enough to be cut. The “St. John” snorted in the
gloom like a true mastodon; we could hardly catch a glimpse of the
lights of the towns scattered along the banks of the river, or the
lanterns of ships ascending the dark water with shrill whistles.

At eight o’clock I went into the saloon. The Doctor took me to have
supper at a magnificent restaurant placed between the decks, where we
were served by an army of black waiters. Dean Pitferge informed me that
the number of passengers on board was more than four thousand, reckoning
fifteen hundred emigrants stowed away in the lower part of the
steam-ship. Supper finished, we retired to our comfortable cabin.

At eleven o’clock I was aroused by a slight shock. The “St. John” had
stopped. The captain, finding it impossible to proceed in the darkness,
had given orders to heave-to, and the enormous boat, moored in the
channel, slept tranquilly at anchor.

At four o’clock in the morning the “St. John” resumed her course. I got
up and went out under one of the verandahs. The rain had ceased, the fog
cleared off, the water appeared, then the shores; the right bank, dotted
with green trees and shrubs, which gave it the appearance of a long
cemetery; in the background rose high hills, closing in the horizon by a
graceful line; the left bank, on the contrary, was flat and marshy.

[Illustration: THE FOG CLEARED OFF.]

Dr. Pitferge had just joined me under the verandah.

“Good morning, friend,” said he, after having drawn a good breath of
air; “do you know we shall not be at Albany in time to catch the train,
thanks to that wretched fog. This will modify my programme.”

“So much the worse, Doctor, for we must be economical with our time.”

“Right; we may expect to reach Niagara Falls at night instead of in the
evening. That is not my fault, but we must be resigned.”

The “St. John,” in fact, did not moor off the Albany quay before eight
o’clock. The train had left, so we were obliged to wait till half-past
one. In consequence of this delay we were able to visit the curious old
city, which forms the legislative centre of the State of New York: the
lower town, commercial and thickly populated, on the right bank of the
Hudson, and the high town, with its brick houses, public buildings, and
its very remarkable museum of fossils. One might almost have thought it
a large quarter of New York transported to the side of this hill, up
which it rises in the shape of an amphitheatre.

At one o’clock, after having breakfasted, we went to the station, which
was without any barrier or officials. The train simply stopped in the
middle of the street, like an omnibus; one could get up and down at
pleasure. The cars communicate with each other by bridges, which allow
the traveller to go from one end of the train to the other. At the
appointed time, without seeing either a guard or a porter, without a
bell, without any warning, the brisk locomotive, a real gem of
workmanship, started, and we were whirled away at the speed of fifty
miles an hour. But instead of being boxed up, as one is in European
trains, we were at liberty to walk about, buy newspapers and books,
without waiting for stations. Refreshment buffets, bookstalls,
everything was at hand for the traveller. We were now crossing fields
without fences, and forests newly cleared, at the risk of a collision
with the felled trees; through new towns, seamed with rails, but still
wanting in houses; through cities adorned with the most poetic names of
ancient literature—Rome, Syracuse, and Palmyra. It was thus the Mohawk
Valley, the land of Fenimore, which belongs to the American novelist, as
does the land of Rob Roy to Walter Scott, glided before our eyes. For a
moment Lake Ontario, which Cooper has made the scene of action of his
master-work, sparkled on the horizon. All this theatre of the grand
epopee of Leather Stocking, formerly a savage country, is now a
civilized land. The Doctor did not appreciate the change, for he
persisted in calling me Hawk’s Eye, and would only answer to the name of

At eleven o’clock at night we changed trains at Rochester; the spray
from the Tennessee cascades fell over the cars in showers. At two
o’clock in the morning, after having kept alongside the Niagara for
several leagues without seeing it, we arrived at the village of Niagara
Falls, and the Doctor conducted me to a magnificent hotel, grandly named
“Cataract House.”

                            CHAPTER XXXVII.

The Niagara is not a stream, not even a river; it is simply a weir
sluice, a canal thirty-six miles long, which empties the waters of the
Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, and Erie into the Ontario. The
difference in the level of these last two lakes is three hundred and
forty feet; this difference uniformly proportioned the whole of the
width would hardly have created a “rapid;” but the Falls alone absorb
half the difference in level, whence their formidable power.

This Niagarine trench separates the United States from Canada. Its right
bank is American and its left English; on one side policemen, on the
other not the shadow of one.

On the morning of the 12th of April, at break of day, the Doctor and I
walked down the wide street of Niagara Falls, which is the name of the
village situated on the banks of the Falls. It is a kind of small
watering-place, three hundred miles from Albany, built in a healthy and
charming situation, provided with sumptuous hotels and comfortable
villas, which the Yankees and Canadians frequent in the season. The
weather was magnificent, the sun warmed the cold atmosphere, a dull,
distant roar was heard, and I saw vapours on the horizon which could not
be clouds.

“Is that the Fall?” I asked of the Doctor.

“Patience!” replied Pitferge.

In a few minutes we were on the banks of the Niagara. The river was
flowing peacefully along; it was clear, and not deep, with numerous
projections of grey rock emerging here and there. The roar of the
cataract grew louder and louder, but as yet we could not see it. A
wooden bridge, supported by iron arches, united the left bank to an
island in the midst of the current; on to this bridge the Doctor led me.
Above, stretched the river as far as the eye could reach; down the
stream, that is to say on our right, the first unevenness of a rapid was
noticeable; then, at half a mile from the bridge, the earth suddenly
gave way, and clouds of spray filled the air. This was the American
fall, which we could not see. Beyond, on the Canadian side, lay a
peaceful country, with hills, villas, and bare trees.

“don’t look! don’t look!” cried the Doctor to me; “reserve yourself,
shut your eyes, and do not open them until I tell you!”

I hardly listened to my original, but continued to look. The bridge
crossed, we set foot on the island known as Goat Island. It is a piece
of land of about seventy acres, covered with trees, and intersected with
lovely avenues with carriage drives. It is like a bouquet thrown between
the American and Canadian Falls, separated from the shore by a distance
of three hundred yards. We ran under the great trees, climbed the
slopes, and went down the steps; the thundering roar of the falls was
redoubled, and the air saturated with spray.

“Look!” cried the Doctor.

Coming from behind a mass of rock, the Niagara appeared in all its
splendour. At this spot it meets with a sharp angle of land, and falling
round it, forms the Canadian cascade, called the “Horse-shoe Fall,”
which falls from a height of one hundred and fifty-eight feet, and is
two miles broad.


In this, one of the most beautiful spots in the world, Nature has
combined everything to astonish the eye. The fall of the Niagara
singularly favours the effects of light and shade; the sunbeams falling
on the water, capriciously diversify the colour; and those who have seen
this effect, must admit that it is without parallel. In fact, near Goat
Island the foam is white; it is then a fall of snow, or a heap of melted
silver, pouring into the abyss. In the centre of the cataract the colour
of the water is a most beautiful sea-green, which indicates its depth,
so that the “Detroit,” a ship drawing twenty feet and launched on the
current, was able to descend the falls without grazing. Towards the
Canadian shore the whirlpool, on the contrary, looks like metal shining
beneath the luminous rays, and it is melted gold which is now poured
into the gulf. Below, the river is invisible from the vapours which rise
over it. I caught glimpses, however, of enormous blocks of ice
accumulated by the cold of winter; they take the form of monsters,
which, with open jaws, hourly absorb the hundred millions of tons poured
into them by the inexhaustible Niagara. Half a mile below the cataract
the river again became tranquil, and presented a smooth surface, which
the winds of April had not yet been able to ruffle.

“And now for the middle of the torrent,” said the Doctor to me.

I could not imagine what the Doctor meant by those words, until he
pointed to a tower built on the edge of a rock some hundred feet from
the shore, almost overhanging the precipice. This monument, raised in
1833, by a certain audacious being, one Judge Porter, is called the
“Terrapin Tower.”

We went down the steps of Goat Island, and, coming to the height of the
upper course of the Niagara, I saw a bridge, or rather some planks,
thrown from one rock to the other, which united the tower with the banks
of the river. The bridge was but a few feet from the abyss, and below it
roared the torrent. We ventured on these planks, and in a few minutes
reached the rock which supported Terrapin Tower. This round tower,
forty-five feet in height, is built of stone, with a circular balcony at
its summit, and a roof covered with red stucco. The winding staircase,
on which thousands of names are cut, is wooden. Once at the top of the
tower, there is nothing to do but cling to the balcony and look.

The tower is in the midst of the cataract. From its summit the eye
plunges into the depths of the abyss, and peers into the very jaws of
the ice monsters, as they swallow the torrent. One feels the rock
tremble which supports it. It is impossible to hear anything but the
roaring of the surging water. The spray rises to the top of the
monument, and splendid rainbows are formed by the sun shining on the
vapourized water.

By a simple optical illusion, the tower seems to move with a frightful
rapidity, but, happily, in the opposite direction to the fall, for, with
the contrary illusion, it would be impossible to look at the gulf from

Breathless and shivering, we went for a moment inside the top landing of
the tower, and it was then that the Doctor took the opportunity of
saying to me,—

“This Terrapin Tower, my dear sir, will some day fall into the abyss,
and perhaps sooner than is expected.”

“Ah! indeed!”

“There is no doubt about it. The great Canadian Fall recedes insensibly,
but still, it recedes. The tower, when it was first built in 1833, was
much farther from the cataract. Geologists say that the fall, in the
space of thirty-five thousand years, will be found at Queenstown, seven
miles up the stream. According to Mr. Bakewell, it recedes a yard in a
year; but according to Sir Charles Lyell one foot only. The time will
come when the rock which supports the tower, worn away by the water,
will glide down the Falls of the cataract. Well, my dear sir, remember
this: the day when the Terrapin Tower falls, there will be some
eccentrics who will descend the Niagara with it.”

I looked at the Doctor, as if to ask him if he would be of that number,
but he signed for me to follow him, and we went out again to look at the
“Horse-shoe Fall,” and the surrounding country. We could now distinguish
the American Fall, slightly curtailed and separated by a projection of
the island, where there is another small central cataract one hundred
feet wide; the American cascade, equally fine, falls perpendicularly.
Its height is one hundred and sixty-four feet. But in order to have a
good view of it it is necessary to stand facing it, on the Canadian

All day we wandered on the banks of the Niagara, irresistibly drawn back
to the tower, where the roar of the water, the spray, the sunlight
playing on the vapours, the excitement, and the briny odour of the
cataract, holds you in a perpetual ecstasy. Then we went back to Goat
Island to get the Fall from every point of view, without ever being
wearied of looking at it. The Doctor would have taken me to see the
“Grotto of Winds,” hollowed out underneath the central Fall, but access
to it was not allowed, on account of the frequent falling away of the

At five o’clock we went back to the hotel, and after a hasty dinner,
served in the American fashion, we returned to Goat Island. The Doctor
wished to go and see the “Three Sisters,” charming little islets
scattered at the head of the island; then, with the return of evening,
he led me back to the tottering rock of Terrapin Tower.

The last rays of the setting sun had disappeared behind the grey hills,
and the moon shed her soft clear light over the landscape. The shadow of
the tower stretched across the abyss; farther down the stream the water
glided silently along, crowned with a light mist. The Canadian shore,
already plunged in darkness, contrasted vividly with the moon-lit banks
of Goat Island, and the village of Niagara Falls. Below us, the gulf,
magnified by the uncertain light, looked like a bottomless abyss, in
which roared the formidable torrent. What effect! What artist could ever
depict such a scene, either with the pen or paint-brush? For some
minutes a moving light appeared on the horizon; it was the signal light
of a train crossing the Niagara bridge at a distance of two miles from
us. Here we remained silent and motionless on the top of the tower until
midnight, leaning over the waters which possessed such a fascination.
Once, when the moon-beams caught the liquid dust at a certain angle, I
had a glimpse of a milky band of transparent ribbon trembling in the
shadows. It was a lunar rainbow, a pale irradiation of the queen of the
night, whose soft light was refracted through the mist of the cataract.

                            CHAPTER XXXVIII.

The next day, the 13th of April, the Doctor’s programme announced a
visit to the Canadian shore. We had only to follow the heights of the
bank of the Niagara for two miles to reach the suspension bridge. We
started at seven o’clock in the morning. From the winding path on the
right bank we could see the tranquil waters of the river, which no
longer felt the perturbation of its fall.

At half-past seven we reached the suspension bridge. It is the bridge,
on which the Great Western and New York Central Railroads meet, and the
only one which gives access to Canada on the confines of the State of
New York. This suspension bridge is formed of two platforms; the upper
one for trains, and the lower for carriages and pedestrians. Imagination
seems to lose itself in contemplating this stupendous work. This
viaduct, over which trains can pass, suspended at a height of two
hundred and fifty feet above the Niagara, again transformed into a rapid
at this spot. This suspension bridge, built by John A. Roebling, of
Trenton (New Jersey), is eight hundred feet long, and twenty-four wide;
the iron props fastened to the shore prevent it from swinging; the
chains which support it, formed of four thousand wires, are ten inches
in diameter, and can bear a weight of twelve thousand four hundred tons.
The bridge itself weighs but eight hundred tons, and cost five hundred
thousand dollars. Just as we reached the centre a train passed over our
heads, and we felt the platform bend under its weight.

It is a little below this bridge that Blondin crossed the Niagara, on a
rope stretched from one shore to the other, and not, as is generally
supposed, across the falls. However, the undertaking was none the less
perilous; but if Blondin astonished us by his daring, what must we think
of his friend who accompanied him, riding on his back during this aerial

“Perhaps he was a glutton,” said the Doctor, “and Blondin made wonderful
omelets on his tight-rope.”

We were now on Canadian ground, and we walked up the left bank of the
Niagara, in order to see the Falls under a new aspect. Half an hour
later we reached the English hotel, where the Doctor ordered our
breakfast, whilst I glanced through the “Travellers’ Book,” where
figured several thousand names: among the most celebrated I noticed the
following:—Robert Peel, Lady Franklin, Comte de Paris, Duc de Chartres,
Prince de Joinville, Louis Napoleon (1846), Prince and Princess
Napoleon, Barnum (with his address), Maurice Sand (1865), Agassis
(1854), Almonte, Prince Hohenlohe, Rothschild, Bertin (Paris), Lady
Elgin, Burkhardt (1832), &c.

“And now let us go under the Falls,” said the Doctor to me, when we had
finished breakfast.

I followed Dean Pitferge. A negro conducted us to the dressing-room,
where we were provided with waterproof trousers, macintoshes, and glazed
hats. Thus equipped, our guide led us down a slippery path, obstructed
by sharp-edged stones, to the lower level of the Niagara. Then we passed
behind the great fall through clouds of spray, the cataract falling
before us like the curtain of a theatre before the actors. But what a
theatre! Soaked, blinded, deafened, we could neither see nor hear in
this cavern as hermetically closed by the liquid sheets of the cataract
as though Nature had sealed it in by a wall of granite.


At nine o’clock we returned to the hotel, where they relieved us of our
streaming clothes. Going back again to the bank, I uttered a cry of
surprise and joy,—

“Captain Corsican!”

The Captain heard, and came towards me.

“You here!” he cried; “what a pleasure to see you again!”

“And Fabian? and Ellen?” I asked, shaking both his hands.

“They are here, and going on as well as possible; Fabian full of hope,
almost merry; and our poor Ellen little by little regaining reason.”

“But how is it that I meet you at the Niagara?”

“The Niagara,” repeated Corsican. “Well, it is the principal resort of
English and Americans in the warm months. They come here to breathe, to
be cured by the sublime spectacle of the Falls. Our Ellen seemed to be
struck at first sight by this glorious scenery, and we have come to stay
on the banks of the Niagara. You see that villa, ‘Clifton House,’ in the
midst of those trees, half way up the hill; that is where we all live,
with Mrs. R——, Fabian’s sister, who is devoted to our poor friend.”

“Has Ellen recognized Fabian?” I asked.

“No, not yet,” replied the Captain. “You are aware, however, that at the
moment when Drake was struck dead, Ellen had a brief interval of
consciousness. Her reason became clear in the gloom which surrounded
her, but this did not last long. At the same time, since we brought her
to breathe this fresh air in this quiet place, the doctor has discovered
a sensible improvement in her condition. She is calm, her sleep is
tranquil, but there is a look in her eyes as though she were trying to
think of something past or present.”

“Ah, my dear friend!” cried I, “you will cure her; but where are Fabian
and his betrothed?”

“Look!” said Corsican, and he pointed towards the shore of the Niagara.

In the direction indicated by the Captain I saw Fabian, who had not yet
noticed us. He was standing on a rock, and a few feet in front of him
sat Ellen perfectly motionless, Fabian watching her all the time. This
spot on the left bank is known by the name of “Table Rock.” It is a kind
of rocky promontory jutting out into the river, which roars at a
distance of four hundred feet below. Formerly it was more extensive, but
the crumbling away of large pieces of rock has now reduced it to a
surface a few yards square.

Ellen seemed absorbed in speechless ecstasy. From this place the aspect
of the Falls is “most sublime,” as say the guides, and they are right.
It gives a view of two cataracts; on the right the “Canadian Fall,” the
crest of which, crowned with vapours, shuts in the horizon on one side,
like the horizon of the sea. In front is the “American Fall,” and above,
the elegant village of Niagara Falls, half hidden in the trees; on the
left, the whole perspective of the river flowing rapidly between its
high banks, and below the torrent struggling against the overthrown

Corsican, the Doctor, and I went towards Table Rock, but I did not want
to disturb Fabian. Ellen was as motionless as a statue. What impression
was this scene making on her mind? Was reason gradually coming back to
her under the influence of the grand spectacle? Suddenly I saw Fabian
step towards her. Ellen had risen quickly, and was going near to the
abyss, with her arms extended towards the gulf; but all at once she
stopped, and passed her hand rapidly across her forehead, as if she
would drive away some thought. Fabian, pale as death, but
self-possessed, with one bound placed himself between Ellen and the
chasm; the latter shook back her fair hair, and her graceful figure
staggered. Did she see Fabian? No. One would have said it was a dead
person coming back to being, and looking round for life!

Captain Corsican and I dared not move, although, being so near the
abyss, we dreaded some catastrophe; but the Doctor kept us back.

“Let Fabian alone,” said he.

I heard the sobs which escaped from the young woman’s heaving breast,
the inarticulate words which came from her lips; she seemed as though
she were trying to speak, but could not. At last she uttered these

“My God! my God! where am I, where am I?”

She was conscious that some one was near her, for she half turned round,
and her whole face seemed transfigured. There was a new light in her
eyes, as she saw Fabian, trembling and speechless, standing before her
with outstretched arms.

[Illustration: “FABIAN! FABIAN!” CRIED SHE, “AT LAST.”]

“Fabian! Fabian!” cried she, at last.

Fabian caught her in his arms, where she fell in an unconscious state.
He uttered a piercing cry, thinking that Ellen was dead, but the Doctor

“Don’t be alarmed,” said he; “this crisis, on the contrary, will be the
means of saving her!”

Ellen was carried to Clifton House and put to bed, where she recovered
consciousness and slept peacefully.

Fabian, encouraged by the Doctor, was full of hope. Ellen had recognized
him! Coming back to us, he said to me,—

“We shall save her, we shall save her! Every day I watch her coming back
to life. To-day, to-morrow, perhaps she will be restored to me. Ah! the
just God be praised! We will stay here as long as it is necessary for
her, shall we not, Archibald?”

The Captain clasped Fabian in his arms; then the latter turned to the
Doctor and me. He loaded us with thanks, and inspired us with the hope
which filled his breast, and never was there better reason for
hope—Ellen’s recovery was near at hand.

But we must be starting, and there was hardly an hour for us to reach
Niagara Falls. Ellen was still sleeping when we left our dear friends.
Fabian and Corsican bid us a last farewell, after having promised we
should have news of Ellen by telegram, and at noon we left Clifton

                             CHAPTER XXXIX.

Some minutes later we were descending a long flight of steps on the
Canadian side, which led to the banks of the river, covered with huge
sheets of ice. Here a boat was waiting to take us to “America.” One
passenger had already taken his place in it. He was an engineer from
Kentucky, and acquainted the Doctor with his name and profession. We
embarked without loss of time, and by dint of steering, so as to avoid
the blocks of ice, reached the middle of the river, where the current
offered a clear passage. From here we had a last view of the magnificent
Niagara cataract. Our companion observed it with a thoughtful air.

“Is it not grand, sir? Is it not magnificent?” said I to him.

“Yes,” replied he; “but what a waste of mechanical force, and what a
mill might be turned with such a fall as that!”

Never did I feel more inclined to pitch an engineer into the water!

On the other bank a small and almost vertical railroad, worked by a rope
on the American side, hoisted us to the top. At half-past one we took
the express, which put us down at Buffalo at a quarter past two. After
visiting this large new town, and tasting the water of Lake Erie, we
again took the New York Central Railway at six o’clock in the evening.
The next day, on leaving the comfortable beds of a “sleeping car,” we
found ourselves at Albany, and the Hudson Railroad, which runs along the
left bank of the river, brought us to New York a few hours later.

The next day, the 15th of April, in company with the indefatigable
Doctor, I went over the city, East River, and Brooklyn. In the evening I
bade farewell to the good Dean Pitferge, and I felt, in leaving him,
that I left a friend.

Tuesday, the 16th of April, was the day fixed for the departure of the
“Great Eastern.” At eleven o’clock I went to Thirty-seventh pier, where
the tender was to await the passengers. It was already filled with
people and luggage when I embarked. Just as the tender was leaving the
quay some one caught hold of my arm, and turning round I saw Dr.

“You!” I cried; “and are you going back to Europe?”

“Yes, my dear sir.”

“By the ‘Great Eastern’?”

“Undoubtedly,” replied the amiable original, smiling; “I have considered
the matter, and have come to the conclusion that I must go. Only think,
this may be the ‘Great Eastern’s’ _last voyage; the one which she will
never complete_.”

The bell for departure had rung, when one of the waiters from Fifth
Avenue Hotel came running up to me, and put a telegram into my hands,
dated from Niagara Falls:—“Ellen has awakened; her reason has entirely
returned to her,” said Captain Corsican, “and the doctor has every hope
of her recovery.”

I communicated this good news to Dean Pitferge.

“Every hope for her indeed! every hope!” said my fellow-traveller, in a
sarcastic tone. “I also have every hope for her, but what good does that
do? Any one may have great hopes for you, for me, for all of us, but at
the same time he may be just as much wrong as right.”...

Twelve days later we reached Brest, and the day following Paris. The
return passage was made without any misfortune, to the great displeasure
of Dean Pitferge, who always expected to see the great ship wrecked.

And now, when I am sitting at my own table, if I had not my daily notes
before me, I should think that the “Great Eastern,” that floating city
in which I lived for a month, the meeting of Ellen and Fabian, the
peerless Niagara, all these were the visions of a dream. Ah! how
delightful is travelling, “even when one does return,” in spite of what
the Doctor may say to the contrary.

For eight months I heard nothing of my original, but one day the post
brought me a letter, covered with many-coloured stamps, which began with
these words:—

“On board the ‘Corinquay,’ Auckland Rocks. At last we have been

And ended thus:—

“Was never in better health.”

                                                   “Very heartily yours,
                                                         DEAN PITFERGE.”

                       END OF “A FLOATING CITY.”


                         THE BLOCKADE RUNNERS.


                           Table of contents

       Chapter         Title                                Page
       Chapter I.      The “Dolphin.”                        197
       Chapter II.     Getting under sail.                   206
       Chapter III.                                          215
       Chapter IV.     Crockston’s trick.                    225
       Chapter V.      The shot from the “Iroquois,” and     235
                       miss Jenny’s arguments.
       Chapter VI.     Sullivan Island channel.              244
       Chapter VII.    A southern general.                   252
       Chapter VIII.   The escape.                           260
       Chapter IX.     Between two fires.                    273
       Chapter X.      St. Mungo.                            284

                               CHAPTER I.
                             THE “DOLPHIN.”

The Clyde was the first river whose waters were lashed into foam by a
steam-boat. It was in 1812, when the steamer called the “Comet” ran
between Glasgow and Greenock, at the speed of six miles an hour. Since
that time more than a million of steamers or packet-boats have plied
this Scotch river, and the inhabitants of Glasgow must be as familiar as
any people with the wonders of steam navigation.

However, on the 3rd of December, 1862, an immense crowd, composed of
ship-owners, merchants, manufacturers, workmen, sailors, women, and
children, thronged the muddy streets of Glasgow, all going in the
direction of Kelvin Dock, the large ship-building premises belonging to
Messrs. Tod and Mac Gregor. This last name especially proves that the
descendants of the famous Highlanders have become manufacturers, and
that they have made workmen of all the vassals of the old clan

Kelvin Dock is situated a few minutes’ walk from the town, on the right
bank of the Clyde. Soon the immense timber-yards were thronged with
spectators; not a part of the quay, not a wall of the wharf, not a
factory roof, showed an unoccupied place; the river itself was covered
with craft of all descriptions, and the heights of Govan, on the left
bank, swarmed with spectators.

There was, however, nothing extraordinary in the event about to take
place; it was nothing but the launching of a ship, and this was an
every-day affair with the people of Glasgow. Had the “Dolphin,” then—for
that was the name of the ship built by Messrs. Tod and Mac Gregor—some
special peculiarity? To tell the truth it had none.

It was a large ship, about 1500 tons, in which everything combined to
obtain superior speed. Her engines, of 500 horse-power, were from the
workshops of Lancefield Forge; they worked two screws, one on either
side the stern-post, completely independent of each other. As for the
depth of water the “Dolphin” would draw, it must be very inconsiderable;
connoisseurs were not deceived, and they concluded rightly that this
ship was destined for shallow straits. But all these particulars could
not in any way justify the eagerness of the people: taken altogether the
“Dolphin” was nothing more or less than an ordinary ship. Would her
launching present some mechanical difficulty to be overcome? Not any
more than usual. The Clyde had received many a ship of heavier tonnage,
and the launching of the “Dolphin” would take place in the usual manner.

In fact, when the water was calm, the moment the ebb-tide set in, the
workmen began to operate. Their mallets kept perfect time falling on the
wedges meant to raise the ship’s keel: soon a shudder ran through the
whole of her massive structure; although she had only been slightly
raised, one could see that she shook, and then gradually began to glide
down the well-greased wedges, and in a few moments she plunged into the
Clyde. Her stern struck the muddy bed of the river, then she raised
herself on the top of a gigantic wave, and, carried forward by her
start, would have been dashed against the quay of the Govan
timber-yards, if her anchors had not restrained her.


The launch had been perfectly successful, the “Dolphin” swayed quietly
on the waters of the Clyde, all the spectators clapped their hands when
she took possession of her natural element, and loud hurrahs arose from
either bank.

But wherefore these cries and this applause? Undoubtedly the most eager
of the spectators would have been at a loss to explain the reason of his
enthusiasm. What was the cause, then, of the lively interest excited by
this ship? Simply the mystery which shrouded her destination; it was not
known to what kind of commerce she was to be appropriated, and in
questioning different groups the diversity of opinion on this important
subject was indeed astonishing.

However, the best informed, at least those who pretended to be so,
agreed in saying that the steamer was going to take part in the terrible
war which was then ravaging the United States of America, but more than
this they did not know, and whether the “Dolphin” was a privateer, a
transport ship, or an addition to the Federal marine, was what no one
could tell.

“Hurrah!” cried one, affirming that the “Dolphin” had been built for the
Southern States.

“Hip! hip! hip!” cried another, swearing that never had a faster boat
crossed to the American coasts.

Thus its destination was unknown, and in order to obtain any reliable
information one must be an intimate friend, or, at any rate, an
acquaintance of Vincent Playfair and Co., of Glasgow.

A rich, powerful, intelligent house of business was that of Vincent
Playfair and Co., in a social sense, an old and honourable family,
descended from those tobacco lords who built the finest quarters of the
town. These clever merchants, by an act of the Union, had founded the
first Glasgow warehouse for dealing in tobacco from Virginia and
Maryland. Immense fortunes were realized; mills and foundries sprang up
in all parts, and in a few years the prosperity of the city attained its

The house of Playfair remained faithful to the enterprising spirit of
its ancestors, it entered into the most daring schemes, and maintained
the honour of English commerce. The principal, Vincent Playfair, a man
of fifty, with a temperament essentially practical and decided, although
somewhat daring, was a genuine shipowner. Nothing affected him beyond
commercial questions, not even the political side of the transactions,
otherwise he was a perfectly loyal and honest man.

However, he could not lay claim to the idea of building and fitting up
the “Dolphin;” she belonged to his nephew, James Playfair, a fine young
man of thirty, the boldest skipper of the British merchant marine.

It was one day at the Tontine coffee-room under the arcades of the
Town-hall, that James Playfair, after having impatiently scanned the
American journal, disclosed to his uncle an adventurous scheme.

“Uncle Vincent,” said he, coming to the point at once, “there are two
millions of pounds to be gained in less than a month.”

“And what to risk?” asked Uncle Vincent.

“A ship and a cargo.”

“Nothing else?”

“Nothing, except the crew and the captain, and that does not reckon for

“Let us see,” said Uncle Vincent.

“It is all seen,” replied James Playfair. “You have read the _Tribune_,
the _New York Herald_, the _Times_, the _Richmond Inquirer_, the
_American Review_?”

“Scores of times, nephew.”

“You believe, like me, that the war of the United States will last a
long time still?”

“A very long time.”

“You know how much this struggle will affect the interests of England,
and especially those of Glasgow?”

“And more especially still the house of Playfair and Co.,” replied Uncle

“Theirs especially,” added the young Captain.

“I worry myself about it every day, James, and I cannot think without
terror of the commercial disasters which this war may produce; not but
that the house of Playfair is firmly established, nephew; at the same
time it has correspondents which may fail. Ah! those Americans,
slave-holders or abolitionists, I have no faith in them!”

If Vincent Playfair was wrong in thus speaking with respect to the great
principles of humanity, always and everywhere superior to personal
interests, he was, nevertheless, right in a commercial point of view.
The most important material was failing at Glasgow, the cotton famine
became every day more threatening, thousands of workmen were reduced to
live upon public charity. Glasgow possessed 25,000 looms, by which
625,000 yards of cotton were spun daily; that is to say, fifty millions
of pounds yearly. From these numbers it may be guessed what disturbances
were caused in the commercial part of the town, when the raw material
failed altogether. Failures were hourly taking place, the manufactories
were closed, and the workmen were dying of starvation.

It was the sight of this great misery which had put the idea of his bold
enterprise into James Playfair’s head.

“I will go for cotton, and will get it, cost what it may.”

But as he also was a merchant as well as his uncle Vincent, he resolved
to carry out his plan by way of exchange, and to make his proposition
under the guise of a commercial enterprise.

“Uncle Vincent,” said he, “this is my idea.”

“Well, James?”

“It is simply this; we will have a ship built of superior sailing
qualities and great bulk.”

“That is quite possible.”

“We will load her with ammunition of war, provisions, and clothes.”

“Just so.”

“I will take the command of this steamer, I will defy all the ships of
the Federal marine for speed, and I will run the blockade of one of the
southern ports.”

“You must make a good bargain for your cargo with the Confederates, who
will be in need of it,” said his uncle.

“And I shall return laden with cotton.”

“Which they will give you for nothing.”

“As you say, uncle. Will it answer?”

“It will; but shall you be able to get there?”

“I shall, if I have a good ship.”

“One can be made on purpose. But the crew?”

“Oh, I will find them. I do not want many men; enough to work with, that
is all. It is not a question of fighting with the Federals, but
distancing them.”

“They shall be distanced,” said uncle Vincent, in a peremptory tone;
“but now, tell me, James, to what port of the American coast do you
think of going?”

“Up to now, uncle, ships have run the blockade of New Orleans,
Wilmington, and Savannah, but I think of going straight to Charleston;
no English boat has yet been able to penetrate into the harbour, except
the ‘Bermuda.’ I will do like her, and if my ship draws but very little
water, I shall be able to go where the Federalists will not be able to

“The fact is,” said Uncle Vincent, “Charleston is overwhelmed with
cotton; they are even burning it to get rid of it.”

“Yes,” replied James; “besides, the town is almost invested, Beauregard
is running short of provisions, and he will pay me a golden price for my

“Well, nephew! and when will you start?”

“In six months; I must have the long winter nights to aid me.”

“It shall be as you wish, nephew.”

“It is settled, then, uncle?”


“Shall it be kept quiet?”

“Yes; better so.”

And this is how it was that five months later the steamer “Dolphin” was
launched from the Kelvin Dock timber-yards, and no one knew her real

                              CHAPTER II.
                         “GETTING UNDER SAIL.”

The “Dolphin” was rapidly equipped, her rigging was ready, and there was
nothing to do but fit her up. She carried three schooner-masts, an
almost useless luxury; in fact, the “Dolphin” did not rely on the wind
to escape the Federalists, but rather on her powerful engines.

Towards the end of December a trial of the steamer was made in the gulf
of the Clyde. Which was the most satisfied, builder or captain, it is
impossible to say. The new steamer shot along wonderfully, and the
patent log showed a speed of seventeen miles an hour, a speed which as
yet no English, French, or American boat had ever obtained. The
“Dolphin” would certainly have gained by several lengths in a sailing
match with the fastest opponent.

The loading was begun on the 25th of December, the steamer having ranged
along the steamboat-quay a little below Glasgow Bridge, the last which
stretches across the Clyde before its mouth. Here the wharfs were heaped
with a heavy cargo of clothes, ammunition, and provisions, which were
rapidly carried to the hold of the “Dolphin.” The nature of this cargo
betrayed the mysterious destination of the ship, and the house of
Playfair could no longer keep it secret; besides, the “Dolphin” must not
be long before she started. No American cruiser had been signalled in
English waters; and, then, when the question of getting the crew came,
how was it possible to keep silent any longer? They could not embark
them even, without informing the men whither they were bound, for, after
all, it was a matter of life and death, and when one risks one’s life,
at least it is satisfactory to know how and wherefore.

However, this prospect hindered no one; the pay was good, and every one
had a share in the speculation, so that a great number of the finest
sailors soon presented themselves. James Playfair was only embarrassed
which to choose, but he chose well, and in twenty-four hours his
muster-roll bore the names of thirty sailors, who would have done honour
to her Majesty’s yacht.

The departure was settled for the 3rd of January; on the 31st of
December the “Dolphin” was ready, her hold full of ammunition and
provisions, and nothing was keeping her now.

The skipper went on board on the 2nd of January, and was giving a last
look round his ship with a Captain’s eye, when a man presented himself
at the fore part of the “Dolphin,” and asked to speak with the Captain.
One of the sailors led him on to the poop.

He was a strong, hearty-looking fellow, with broad shoulders and ruddy
face, the simple expression of which ill concealed a depth of wit and
mirth. He did not seem to be accustomed to a seafaring life and looked
about him with the air of a man little used to being on board a ship;
however, he assumed the manner of a Jack-tar, looking up at the rigging
of the “Dolphin,” and waddling in true sailor fashion.

When he had reached the Captain, he looked fixedly at him and said,
“Captain James Playfair?”

“The same,” replied the skipper. “What do you want with me?”

“To join your ship.”

“There is no room; the crew is already complete.”

“Oh, one man, more or less, will not be in the way; quite the contrary.”

“You think so?” said James Playfair, giving a sidelong glance at his

“I am sure of it,” replied the sailor.

“But who are you?” asked the Captain.

“A rough sailor, with two strong arms, which, I can tell you, are not to
be despised on board a ship, and which I now have the honour of putting
at your service.”

“But there are other ships besides the ‘Dolphin,’ and other captains
besides James Playfair. Why do you come here?”

“Because it is on board the ‘Dolphin’ that I wish to serve, and under
the orders of Captain James Playfair.”

“I do not want you.”

“There is always need of a strong man, and if to prove my strength you
will try me with three or four of the strongest fellows of your crew, I
am ready.”

“That will do,” replied James Playfair. “And what is your name?”

“Crockston, at your service.”


The Captain made a few steps backwards in order to get a better view of
the giant, who presented himself in this odd fashion. The height, the
build, and the look of the sailor did not deny his pretensions to

“Where have you sailed?” asked Playfair of him.

“A little everywhere.”

“And do you know where the ‘Dolphin’ is bound for?”

“Yes; and that is what tempts me.”

“Ah, well! I have no mind to let a fellow of your stamp escape me. Go
and find the first mate, and get him to enrol you.”

Having said this the Captain expected to see the man turn on his heel
and run to the bows, but he was mistaken. Crockston did not stir.

“Well! did you hear me?” asked the Captain.

“Yes, but it is not all,” replied the sailor, “I have something else to
ask you.”

“Ah! You are wasting my time,” replied James sharply; “I have not a
moment to lose in talking.”

“I shall not keep you long,” replied Crockston, “two words more and that
is all; I was going to tell you that I have a nephew.”

“He has a fine uncle, then,” interrupted James Playfair.

“Hah! Hah!” laughed Crockston.

“Have you finished?” asked the Captain, very impatiently.

“Well, this is what I have to say, when one takes the uncle, the nephew
comes into the bargain.”

“Ah! indeed!”

“Yes, that is the custom, the one does not go without the other.”

“And what is this nephew of yours?”

“A lad of fifteen whom I am going to train to the sea; he is willing to
learn, and will make a fine sailor some day.”

“How now, Master Crockston,” cried James Playfair; “do you think the
‘Dolphin’ is a training-school for cabin-boys?”

“Don’t let us speak ill of cabin-boys; there was one of them who became
Admiral Nelson, and another Admiral Franklin.”

“Upon my honour, friend,” replied James Playfair, “you have a way of
speaking which I like; bring your nephew, but if I don’t find the uncle
the hearty fellow he pretends to be, he will have some business with me.
Go, and be back in an hour.”

Crockston did not want to be told twice; he bowed awkwardly to the
Captain of the “Dolphin,” and went on to the quay. An hour afterwards he
came on board with his nephew, a boy of fourteen or fifteen, rather
delicate and weakly-looking, with a timid and astonished air, which
showed that he did not possess his uncle’s self-possession and vigorous
corporeal qualities. Crockston was even obliged to encourage him by such
words as these:—

“Come,” said he, “don’t be frightened, they are not going to eat us,
besides there is yet time to return.”

“No, no,” replied the young man, “and may God protect us!”

The same day the sailor Crockston and his nephew were inscribed in the
muster-roll of the “Dolphin.”

The next morning, at five o’clock, the fires of the steamer were well
fed, the deck trembled under the vibrations of the boiler, and the steam
rushed hissing through the escape-pipes. The hour of departure had

A considerable crowd in spite of the early hour flocked on the quays and
on Glasgow Bridge, they had come to salute the bold steamer for the last
time. Vincent Playfair was there to say good-bye to Captain James, but
he conducted himself on this occasion like a Roman of the good old
times. His was a heroic countenance, and the two loud kisses with which
he gratified his nephew were the indication of a strong mind.

“Go, James,” said he to the young Captain, “go quickly, and come back
quicker still; above all, don’t abuse your position. Sell at a good
price, make a good bargain, and you will have your uncle’s esteem.”

On this recommendation, borrowed from the manual of the perfect
merchant, the uncle and nephew separated, and all the visitors left the

At this moment Crockston and John Stiggs stood together on the
forecastle, while the former remarked to his nephew, “This is well, this
is well; before two o’clock we shall be at sea, and I have a good
opinion of a voyage which begins like this.”

For reply the novice pressed Crockston’s hand.

James Playfair then gave the orders for departure.

“Have we pressure on?” he asked of his mate.

“Yes, Captain,” replied Mr. Mathew.

“Well, then, weigh anchor.”

This was immediately done, and the screws began to move. The “Dolphin”
trembled, passed between the ships in the port, and soon disappeared
from the sight of the people, who shouted their last hurrahs.


The descent of the Clyde was easily accomplished, one might almost say
that this river had been made by the hand of man, and even by the hand
of a master. For sixty years, thanks to the dredges and constant
dragging it has gained fifteen feet in depth, and its breadth has been
tripled between the quays and the town. Soon the forests of masts and
chimneys were lost in the smoke and fog; the noise of the foundry
hammers, and the hatchets of the timber-yards grew fainter in the
distance. After the village of Patrick had been passed the factories
gave way to country houses and villas. The “Dolphin,” slackening her
speed, sailed between the dykes which carry the river above the shores,
and often through very narrow channel, which, however, is only a small
inconvenience for a navigable river, for, after all, depth is of more
importance than width. The steamer, guided by one of those excellent
pilots from the Irish sea, passed without hesitation between floating
buoys, stone columns, and _biggings_, surmounted with lighthouses, which
mark the entrance to the channel. Beyond the town of Renfrew, at the
foot of Kilpatrick hills, the Clyde grew wider. Then came Bouling Bay,
at the end of which opens the mouth of the canal which joins Edinburgh
to Glasgow. Lastly, at the height of four hundred feet from the ground,
was seen the outline of Dumbarton Castle, almost indiscernible through
the mists, and soon the harbour-boats of Glasgow were rocked on the
waves which the “Dolphin” caused. Some miles farther on Greenock, the
birthplace of James Watt, was passed: the “Dolphin” now found herself at
the mouth of the Clyde, and at the entrance of the gulf by which it
empties its waters into the Northern Ocean. Here the first undulations
of the sea were felt, and the steamer ranged along the picturesque coast
of the Isle of Arran. At last the promontory of Cantyre, which runs out
into the channel, was doubled; the Isle of Rattelin was hailed, the
pilot returned by a shore-boat to his cutter, which was cruising in the
open sea; the “Dolphin” returning to her Captain’s authority, took a
less frequented route round the north of Ireland, and soon, having lost
sight of the last European land, found herself in the open ocean.

                              CHAPTER III.

The “Dolphin” had a good crew, not fighting men, or boarding sailors,
but good working men, and that was all she wanted. These brave,
determined fellows were all, more or less, merchants; they sought a
fortune rather than glory; they had no flag to display, no colours to
defend with cannon; in fact all the artillery on board consisted of two
small swivel signal-guns.

The “Dolphin” shot bravely across the water, and fulfilled the utmost
expectations of both builder and captain. Soon she passed the limit of
British seas; there was not a ship in sight; the great Ocean route was
free; besides no ship of the Federal marine would have a right to attack
her beneath the English flag. Followed she might be, and prevented from
forcing the blockade, and precisely for this reason had James Playfair
sacrificed everything to the speed of his ship, in order not to be

Howbeit a careful watch was kept on board, and in spite of the extreme
cold a man was always in the rigging ready to signal the smallest sail
that appeared on the horizon. When evening came, Captain James gave the
most precise orders to Mr. Mathew.

“Don’t leave the man on watch too long in the rigging, the cold may
seize him, and in that case it is impossible to keep a good look-out;
change your men often.”

“I understand, Captain,” replied Mr. Mathew.

“Try Crockston for that work; the fellow pretends to have excellent
sight; it must be put to trial; put him on the morning watch, he will
have the morning mists to see through. If anything particular happens
call me.”

This said, James Playfair went to his cabin. Mr. Mathew called
Crockston, and told him the Captain’s orders.

“To-morrow, at six o’clock,” said he, “you are to relieve watch of the

For reply, Crockston gave a decided grunt, but Mr. Mathew had hardly
turned his back when the sailor muttered some incomprehensible words,
and then cried,—

“What on earth did he say about the main-mast?”

At this moment his nephew, John Stiggs, joined him on the forecastle.

“Well, my good Crockston,” said he.

“It’s all right, all right,” said the seaman, with a forced smile;
“there is only one thing, this wretched boat shakes herself like a dog
coming out of the water, and it makes my head confused.”

“Dear Crockston, and it is for my sake.”

“For you and him,” replied Crockston, “but not a word about that, John;
trust in God, and He will not forsake you.”

So saying, John Stiggs and Crockston went to the sailor’s berth, but the
sailor did not lie down before he had seen the young novice comfortably
settled in the narrow cabin which he had got for him.

The next day, at six o’clock in the morning, Crockston got up to go to
his place; he went on deck, where the first officer ordered him to go up
into the rigging, and keep good watch.

At these words the sailor seemed undecided what to do; then making up
his mind, he went towards the bows of the “Dolphin.”

“Well, where are you off to now?” cried Mr. Mathew.

“Where you sent me,” answered Crockston.

“I told you to go to the main-mast.”

“And I am going there,” replied the sailor, in an unconcerned tone,
continuing his way to the poop.

“Are you a fool?” cried Mr. Mathew, impatiently; “you are looking for
the bars of the main on the fore-mast. You are like a cockney, who
doesn’t know how to twist a cat-o’-nine-tails, or make a splice. On
board what ship can you have been, man? The main-mast, stupid, the

The sailors who had run up to hear what was going on, burst out
laughing, when they saw Crockston’s disconcerted look, as he went back
to the forecastle.

“So,” said he, looking up the mast, the top of which was quite invisible
through the morning mists; “so, am I to climb up here?”

“Yes,” replied Mr. Mathew, “and hurry yourself! By St. Patrick a Federal
ship would have time to get her bowsprit fast in our rigging before that
lazy fellow could get to his post. Will you go up?”

Without a word, Crockston got on the bulwarks with some difficulty; then
he began to climb the rigging with most visible awkwardness, like a man
who did not know how to make use of his hands or feet. When he had
reached the top-gallant, instead of springing lightly on to it, he
remained motionless, clinging to the ropes, as if he had been seized
with giddiness. Mr. Mathew, irritated by his stupidity ordered him to
come down immediately.

“That fellow there,” said he to the boatswain, “has never been a sailor
in his life. Johnston, just go and see what he has in his bundle.”

The boatswain made haste to the sailor’s berth.

In the meantime Crockston was with difficulty coming down again, but his
foot having slipped, he slid down the rope he had hold of, and fell
heavily on the deck.

“Clumsy blockhead! land-lubber!” cried Mr. Mathew, by way of
consolation. “What did you come to do on board the ‘Dolphin’! Ah! you
entered as an able seaman, and you cannot even distinguish the main from
the fore-mast! I shall have a little talk with you.”

Crockston made no attempt to speak; he bent his back like a man resigned
for anything he might have to bear; just then the boatswain returned.

“This,” said he to the first officer, “is all that I have found; a
suspicious portfolio with letters.”

“Give them here,” said Mr. Mathew. “Letters with Federal stamps! Mr.
Halliburtt, of Boston! An abolitionist! a Federalist! Wretch! you are
nothing but a traitor, and have sneaked on board to betray us! Never
mind, you will be paid for your trouble with the cat-o’-nine-tails!
Boatswain, call the Captain, and you others, just keep an eye on that
rogue there.”

Crockston received these compliments with a hideous grimace, but he did
not open his lips. They had fastened him to the capstan, and he could
move neither hand nor foot.

A few minutes later James Playfair came out of his cabin and went to the
forecastle, where Mr. Mathew immediately acquainted him with the details
of the case.

“What have you to say?” asked James Playfair, scarcely able to restrain
his anger.

“Nothing,” replied Crockston.

“And what did you come on board my ship for?”


“And what do you expect from me now?”


“Who are you? An American, as these letters seem to prove?”

Crockston did not answer.

“Boatswain,” said James Playfair, “fifty lashes with the
cat-o’-nine-tails to loosen his tongue. Will that be enough, Crockston?”

“It will remain to be seen,” replied John Stiggs’ uncle without moving a

“Now then, come along, men,” said the boatswain.

At this order, two strong sailors stripped Crockston of his woollen
jersey; they had already seized the formidable weapon, and laid it
across the prisoner’s shoulders, when the novice, John Stiggs, pale and
agitated, hurried on deck.

“Captain!” exclaimed he.

“Ah! the nephew!” remarked James Playfair.

“Captain,” repeated the novice, with a violent effort to steady his
voice, “I will tell you what Crockston does not want to say. I will hide
it no longer; yes, he is American, and so am I; we are both enemies of
the slave-holders, but not traitors come on board to betray the
‘Dolphin’ into the hands of the Federalists.”

“What did you come to do, then?” asked the Captain, in a severe tone,
examining the novice attentively. The latter hesitated a few seconds
before replying, then he said, “Captain, I should like to speak to you
in private.”

[Illustration: “CAPTAIN!” EXCLAIMED HE.]

Whilst John Stiggs made this request, James Playfair did not cease to
look carefully at him; the sweet young face of the novice, his
peculiarly gentle voice, the delicacy and whiteness of his hands, hardly
disguised by paint, the large eyes, the animation of which could not
hide their tenderness—all this together gave rise to a certain suspicion
in the Captain’s mind. When John Stiggs had made his request, Playfair
glanced fixedly at Crockston, who shrugged his shoulders; then he
fastened a questioning look on the novice, which the latter could not
withstand, and said simply to him, “Come.”

John Stiggs followed the Captain on to the poop, and then James
Playfair, opening the door of his cabin, said to the novice, whose
cheeks were pale with emotion, “Be so kind as to walk in, miss.”

John, thus addressed, blushed violently, and two tears rolled
involuntarily down his cheeks.

“Don’t be alarmed, miss,” said James Playfair, in a gentle voice, “but
be so good as to tell me how I come to have the honour of having you on

The young girl hesitated a moment, then reassured by the Captain’s look,
she made up her mind to speak.

“Sir,” said she, “I wanted to join my father at Charleston; the town is
besieged by land and blockaded by sea. I knew not how to get there, when
I heard that the ‘Dolphin’ meant to force the blockade. I came on board
your ship, and I beg you to forgive me if I acted without your consent,
which you would have refused me.”

“Certainly,” said James Playfair.

“I did well, then, not to ask you,” resumed the young girl, with a
firmer voice.

The Captain crossed his arms, walked round his cabin, and then came

“What is your name?” said he.

“Jenny Halliburtt.”

“Your father, if I remember rightly the address on the letters, is he
not from Boston?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And a Northerner is thus in a southern town in the thickest of the

“My father is a prisoner; he was at Charleston when the first shot of
the Civil War was fired, and the troops of the Union driven from Fort
Sumter by the Confederates. My father’s opinions exposed him to the
hatred of the Slavist part, and by the order of General Beauregard he
was imprisoned. I was then in England, living with a relation who has
just died, and left alone with no help but that of Crockston, our
faithful servant, I wished to go to my father and share his prison with

“What was Mr. Halliburtt, then?” asked James Playfair.

“A loyal and brave journalist,” replied Jenny proudly, one of the
noblest editors of the “Tribune,” and the one who was the boldest in
defending the cause of the negroes.

“An abolitionist,” cried the Captain angrily; “one of those men, who,
under the vain pretence of abolishing slavery, have deluged their
country with blood and ruin.”

“Sir!” replied Jenny Halliburtt, growing pale, “you are insulting my
father; you must not forget that I stand alone to defend him.”

The young Captain blushed scarlet; anger mingled with shame struggled in
his breast; perhaps he would have answered the young girl, but he
succeeded in restraining himself, and opening the door of the cabin, he
called “Boatswain!”

The boatswain came to him directly.

“This cabin will henceforward belong to Miss Jenny Halliburtt; have a
cot made ready for me at the end of the poop; that’s all I want.”

The boatswain looked with a stupefied stare at the young novice
addressed in a feminine name, but on a sign from James Playfair he went

“And now, miss, you are at home,” said the young Captain of the
“Dolphin.” Then he retired.

                              CHAPTER IV.
                           CROCKSTON’s TRICK.

It was not long before the whole crew knew Miss Halliburtt’s story,
which Crockston was no longer hindered from telling. By the Captain’s
orders he was released from the capstan, and the cat-o’-nine-tails
returned to its place.

“A pretty animal,” said Crockston, “especially when it shows its velvety

As soon as he was free, he went down to the sailors’ berths, found a
small portmanteau, and carried it to Miss Jenny; the young girl was now
able to resume her feminine attire, but she remained in her cabin, and
did not again appear on deck.

As for Crockston, it was well and duly agreed that, as he was no more a
sailor than a horse-guard, he should be exempt from all duty on board.

In the meanwhile the “Dolphin,” with her twin screws cutting the waves,
sped rapidly across the Atlantic, and there was nothing now to do but
keep a strict look out. The day following the discovery of Miss Jenny’s
identity, James Playfair paced the deck at the poop with a rapid step;
he had made no attempt to see the young girl and resume the conversation
of the day before.

Whilst he was walking to and fro, Crockston passed him several times,
looking at him askant with a satisfied grin; he evidently wanted to
speak to the Captain, and at last his persistent manner attracted the
attention of the latter, who said to him, somewhat impatiently,—

“How now, what do you want? You are turning round me like a swimmer
round a buoy: when are you going to leave off?”

“Excuse me, Captain,” answered Crockston, winking, “I wanted to speak to

“Speak, then.”

“Oh, it is nothing very much, I only wanted to tell you frankly that you
are a good fellow at bottom.”

“Why at bottom?”

“At bottom and surface also.”

“I don’t want your compliments.”

“I am not complimenting you, I shall wait to do that when you have gone
to the end.”

“To what end?”

“To the end of your task.”

“Ah! I have a task to fulfil?”

“Decidedly, you have taken the young girl and myself on board; good. You
have given up your cabin to Miss Halliburtt; good. You released me from
the cat-o’-nine-tails; nothing could be better. You are going to take us
straight to Charleston; that’s delightful, but it is not all.”

“How not all?” cried James Playfair, amazed at Crockston’s boldness.

“No, certainly not,” replied the latter, with a knowing look, “the
father is prisoner there.”

“Well, what about that?”

“Well, the father must be rescued.”

“Rescue Miss Halliburtt’s father?”

“Most certainly, and it is worth risking something for such a noble man
and courageous citizen as he.”

“Master Crockston,” said James Playfair, frowning, “I am not in the
humour for your jokes, so have a care what you say.”

“You misunderstand me, Captain,” said the American. “I am not joking in
the least, but speaking quite seriously. What I have proposed may at
first seem very absurd to you; when you have thought it over you will
see that you cannot do otherwise.”

“What, do you mean that I must deliver Mr. Halliburtt?”

“Just so, you can demand his release of General Beauregard, who will not
refuse you.”

“But if he does refuse me?”

“In that case,” replied Crockston, in a deliberate tone, “we must use
stronger measures, and carry off the prisoner by force.”

“So,” cried James Playfair, who was beginning to get angry, “so, not
content with passing through the Federal fleets and forcing the blockade
of Charleston, I must run out to sea again from under the cannon of the
forts, and this to deliver a gentleman I know nothing of, one of those
Abolitionists whom I detest, one of those journalists who shed ink
instead of their blood!”

“Oh! it is but a cannon-shot more or less!” added Crockston.

“Master Crockston,” said James Playfair, “mind what I say; if ever you
mention this affair again to me, I will send you to the hold for the
rest of the passage, to teach you manners.”

Thus saying the Captain dismissed the American, who went off murmuring,
“Ah, well, I am not altogether displeased with this conversation: at any
rate, the affair is broached; it will do, it will do!”

James Playfair had hardly meant it when he said an Abolitionist whom I
detest; he did not in the least side with the Federals, but he did not
wish to admit that the question of slavery was the predominant reason
for the civil war of the United States, in spite of President Lincoln’s
formal declaration. Did he then think that the Southern States, eight
out of thirty-six, were right in separating when they had been
voluntarily united? Not so; he detested the Northerners, and that was
all; he detested them as brothers separated from the common family—true
Englishmen—who had thought it right to do what he, James Playfair,
disapproved of with regard to the United States: these were the
political opinions of the Captain of the “Dolphin.” But more than this,
the American war interfered with him personally, and he had a grudge
against those who had caused this war; one can understand, then, how he
would receive a proposition to deliver an Abolitionist, thus bringing
down on him the Confederates, with whom he pretended to do business.

However, Crockston’s insinuation did not fail to disturb him, he cast
the thought from him, but it returned unceasingly to his mind, and when
Miss Jenny came on deck the next day for a few minutes, he dared not
look her in the face.

And really it was a great pity, for this young girl with the fair hair
and sweet, intelligent face deserved to be looked at by a young man of
thirty. But James felt embarrassed in her presence; he felt that this
charming creature who had been educated in the school of misfortune
possessed a strong and generous soul; he understood that his silence
towards her inferred a refusal to acquiesce in her dearest wishes;
besides, Miss Jenny never looked out for James Playfair, neither did she
avoid him. Thus for the first few days they spoke little or not at all
to each other. Miss Halliburtt scarcely ever left her cabin, and it is
certain she would never have addressed herself to the Captain of the
“Dolphin” if it had not been for Crockston’s strategy, which brought
both parties together.

The worthy American was a faithful servant of the Halliburtt family, he
had been brought up in his master’s house and his devotion knew no
bounds. His good sense equalled his courage and energy, and, as has been
seen, he had a way of looking things straight in the face. He was very
seldom discouraged, and could generally find a way out of the most
intricate dangers with a wonderful skill.

This honest fellow had taken it into his head to deliver Mr. Halliburtt,
to employ the Captain’s ship, and the Captain himself for this purpose,
and to return with him to England. Such was his intention, so long as
the young girl had no other object than to rejoin her father and share
his captivity. It was this Crockston tried to make the Captain
understand, as we have seen, but the enemy had not yet surrendered, on
the contrary.

“Now,” said he, “it is absolutely necessary that Miss Jenny and the
Captain come to an understanding; if they are going to be sulky like
this all the passage we shall get nothing done: they must speak,
discuss; let them dispute even, so long as they talk, and I’ll be hanged
if during their conversation James Playfair does not propose himself
what he refused me to-day.”

But when Crockston saw that the young girl and the young man avoided
each other, he began to be perplexed.

“We must look sharp,” said he to himself, and the morning of the fourth
day he entered Miss Halliburtt’s cabin, rubbing his hands with an air of
perfect satisfaction.

“Good news!” cried he, “good news! You will never guess what the Captain
has proposed to me. A very noble young man he is. Now try.”

“Ah!” replied Jenny, whose heart beat violently, “has he proposed to—”

“To deliver Mr. Halliburtt, to carry him off from the Confederates, and
bring him to England.”

“Is it true?” cried Jenny.

“It is, as I say, miss. What a good-hearted man this James Playfair is!
These English are either all good or all bad. Ah! he may reckon on my
gratitude, and I am ready to cut myself in pieces if it would please

Jenny’s joy was profound on hearing Crockston’s words. Deliver her
father! she had never dared to think of such a plan, and the Captain of
the “Dolphin” was going to risk his ship and crew!

“That’s what he is,” added Crockston; “and this, Miss Jenny, is well
worth an acknowledgment from you.”

“More than an acknowledgment,” cried the young girl; “a lasting

And immediately she left the cabin to find James Playfair, and express
to him the sentiments which flowed from her heart.

“Getting on by degrees,” muttered the American.

James Playfair was pacing to and fro on the poop, and, as may be
thought, he was very much surprised, not to say amazed, to see the young
girl go up to him, her eyes moist with grateful tears, and holding out
her hand to him saying,—

“Thank you, sir, thank you for your kindness, which I should never have
dared to expect from a stranger.”

“Miss,” replied the Captain, as if he understood nothing of what she was
talking, and could not understand, “I do not know—”

“Nevertheless, sir, you are going to brave many dangers, perhaps
compromise your interests for me, and you have done so much already in
offering me on board an hospitality to which I have no right whatever—”

“Pardon me, Miss Jenny,” interrupted James Playfair, “but I protest
again I do not understand your words; I have acted towards you as any
well-bred man would towards a lady, and my conduct deserves neither so
many thanks nor so much gratitude.”

“Mr. Playfair,” said Jenny, “it is useless to pretend any longer;
Crockston has told me all!”

“Ah!” said the Captain, “Crockston has told you all, then I understand
less than ever the reason for your leaving your cabin, and saying these
words which—”

[Illustration: “THANK YOU, SIR, THANK YOU.”]

Whilst speaking the Captain felt very much embarrassed; he remembered
the rough way in which he had received the American’s overtures, but
Jenny, fortunately for him, did not give him time for further
explanation; she interrupted him, holding out her hand and saying,—

“Mr. James, I had no other object in coming on board your ship except to
go to Charleston, and there, however cruel the slave-holders may be,
they will not refuse to let a poor girl share her father’s prison, that
was all; I had never thought of a return as possible; but since you are
so generous as to wish for my father’s deliverance, since you will
attempt everything to save him, be assured you have my deepest

James did not know what to do or what part to assume; he bit his lip; he
dared not take the hand offered him; he saw perfectly that Crockston had
compromised him, so that escape was impossible; at the same time he had
no thoughts of delivering Mr. Halliburtt, and getting complicated in a
disagreeable business: but how dash to the ground the hope which had
arisen in this poor girl’s heart? How refuse the hand which she held out
to him with a feeling of such profound friendship? How change to tears
of grief the tears of gratitude which filled her eyes?

So the young man tried to reply evasively, in a manner which would
insure his liberty of action for the future.

“Miss Jenny,” said he, “rest assured I will do everything in my power

And he took the little hand in both of his, but with the gentle pressure
he felt his heart melt and his head grow confused: words to express his
thoughts failed him. He stammered out some incoherent words,—

“Miss—Miss Jenny—for you—”

Crockston, who was watching him, rubbed his hands, grinning and
repeating to himself,—

“It will come! it will come! it has come!”

How James Playfair would have managed to extricate himself from his
embarrassing position no one knows, but fortunately for him, if not for
the “Dolphin,” the man on watch was heard crying,—

“Ahoy, officer of the watch!”

“What now?” asked Mr. Mathew.

“A sail to windward!”

James Playfair, leaving the young girl, immediately sprang to the
shrouds of the main-mast.

                               CHAPTER V

Until now the navigation of the “Dolphin” had been very fortunate. Not
one ship had been signalled before the sail hailed by the man on watch.

The “Dolphin” was then in 32° 51´ latitude and 57° 43´west longitude.
For forty-eight hours a fog which now began to rise had covered the
ocean. If this mist favoured the “Dolphin” by hiding her course, it also
prevented any observations at a distance being made, and, without being
aware of it, she might be sailing side by side, so to speak, with the
ships she wished most to avoid.

Now this is just what had happened, and when the ship was signalled she
was only three miles to windward.

When James Playfair had reached the bars, he saw distinctly, through an
opening in the mist, a large Federal corvette in full pursuit of the

[Illustration: HE SAW DISTINCTLY.]

After having carefully examined her, the Captain came down on deck
again, and called to the first officer.

“Mr. Mathew,” said he, “what do you think of this ship?”

“I think, Captain, that it is a Federal cruiser, which suspects our

“There is no possible doubt of her nationality,” said James Playfair.

At this moment the starry flag of the North United States appeared on
the gaff-yards of the corvette, and the latter asserted her colours with
a cannon-shot.

“An invitation to show ours,” said Mr. Mathew. “Well, let us show them;
there is nothing to be ashamed of.”

“What’s the good?” replied James Playfair. “Our flag will hardly protect
us, and it will not hinder those people from paying us a visit? No; let
us go ahead.”

“And go quickly,” replied Mr. Mathew, “for if my eyes do not deceive me,
I have already seen that corvette lying off Liverpool, where she went to
watch the ships in building: my name is not Mathew, if that is not ‘The
Iroquois’ on her taffrail.”

“And is she fast?”

“One of the fastest vessels of the Federal marine.”

“What guns does she carry?”



“Oh, don’t shrug your shoulders, Captain,” said Mr. Mathew, in a serious
tone; “two out of those eight guns are rifled, one is a sixty-pounder on
the forecastle, and the other a hundred-pounder on deck.”

“Upon my soul!” exclaimed James Playfair, “they are Parrott’s, and will
carry three miles.”

“Yes, and farther than that, Captain.”

“Ah, well! Mr. Mathew, let their guns be sixty or only four-pounders,
and let them carry three miles or five hundred yards, it is all the same
if we can go fast enough to avoid their shot. We will show this
‘Iroquois’ how a ship can go when she is built on purpose to go. Have
the fires well banked up, Mr. Mathew.”

The first officer gave the Captain’s orders to the engineer, and soon
volumes of black smoke curled from the steamer’s chimneys.

This proceeding did not seem to please the corvette, for she made the
“Dolphin” the signal to lie to, but James Playfair paid no attention to
this warning, and did not change his ship’s course.

“Now,” said he, “we shall see what the ‘Iroquois’ will do; there is a
fine opportunity for her to try her guns, go ahead full speed!”

“Good!” exclaimed Mr. Mathew; “she will not be long in saluting us.”

Returning to the poop, the Captain saw Miss Halliburtt sitting quietly
near the bulwarks.

“Miss Jenny,” said he, “we shall probably be chased by that corvette you
see to windward, and as she will speak to us with shot, I beg to offer
you my arm to take you to your cabin again.”

“Thank you, very much, Mr. Playfair,” replied the young girl, looking at
him, “but I am not afraid of cannon-shots.”

“However, miss, in spite of the distance, there may be some danger.”

“Oh, I was not brought up to be fearful; they accustom us to everything
in America, and I assure you that the shot from the ‘Iroquois’ will not
make me lower my head.”

“You are brave, Miss Jenny.”

“Let us admit, then, that I am brave, and allow me to stay by you.”

“I can refuse you nothing, Miss Halliburtt,” replied the Captain,
looking at the young girl’s calm face.

These words were hardly uttered when they saw a line of white smoke
issue from the bulwarks of the corvette; before the report had reached
the “Dolphin” a projectile whizzed through the air in the direction of
the steamer.

At about twenty fathoms from the “Dolphin” the shot, the speed of which
had sensibly lessened, skimmed over the surface of the waves, marking
its passage by a series of water-jets; then, with another burst, it
rebounded to a certain height, passed over the “Dolphin,” grazing the
mizen-yards on the starboard side, fell at thirty fathoms beyond, and
was buried in the waves.

“By Jove!” exclaimed James Playfair, “we must get along; another slap
like that is not to be waited for.”

“Oh!” exclaimed Mr. Mathew, “they will take some time to reload such

“Upon my honour, it is an interesting sight,” said Crockston, who, with
arms crossed, stood perfectly at his ease looking at the scene, “and to
say they are friends who send such brandy-balls!”

“Ah! that’s you,” cried James Playfair, scanning the American from head
to foot.

“It is me, Captain,” replied the American, undisturbed. “I have come to
see how these brave Federals fire; not badly, in truth, not badly.”

The Captain was going to answer Crockston sharply, but at this moment a
second shot struck the sea on the starboard side.

“Good,” cried James Playfair, “we have already gained two cables on this
‘Iroquois.’ Your friends sail like a buoy; do you hear, Master

“I will not say they don’t,” replied the American, “and for the first
time in my life it does not fail to please me.”

A third shot fell still farther astern, and in less than ten minutes the
“Dolphin” was out of range of the corvette’s guns.

“So much for patent-logs, Mr. Mathew,” said James Playfair; “thanks to
those shot we know how to rate our speed. Now have the fires lowered; it
is not worth while to waste our coal uselessly.”

“It is a good ship that you command,” said Miss Halliburtt to the young

“Yes, Miss Jenny, my good ‘Dolphin,’ makes her seventeen knots, and
before the day is over, we shall have lost sight of that corvette.”

James Playfair did not exaggerate the sailing qualities of his ship, and
the sun had not set before the masts of the American ship had
disappeared below the horizon.

This incident allowed the Captain to see Miss Halliburtt’s character in
a new light; besides, the ice was broken, henceforward, during the whole
of the voyage, the interviews between the Captain and his passenger were
frequent and prolonged; he found her to be a young girl, calm, strong,
thoughtful, and intelligent, speaking with great ease, having her own
ideas about everything, and expressing her thoughts with a conviction
which unconsciously penetrated James Playfair’s heart.

She loved her country, she was zealous in the great cause of the Union,
and expressed herself on the civil war in the United States with an
enthusiasm of which no other woman would have been capable. Thus it
happened, more than once, that James Playfair found it difficult to
answer her, even when questions purely mercantile arose in connexion
with the war: Miss Jenny attacked them none the less vigorously, and
would come to no other terms whatever. At first James argued a great
deal, and tried to uphold the Confederates against the Federals, to
prove that the Secessionists were in the right, and that if the people
were united voluntarily they might separate in the same manner. But the
young girl would not yield on this point; she demonstrated that the
question of slavery was predominant in the struggle between the North
and South Americans, that it was far more a war in the cause of morals
and humanity than politics, and James could make no answer. Besides,
during these discussions, which he listened to attentively, it is
difficult to say whether he was more touched by Miss Halliburtt’s
arguments, or the charming manner in which she spoke; but at last he was
obliged to acknowledge, among other things, that slavery was the
principal feature in the war, that it must be put an end to decisively,
and the last horrors of barbarous times abolished.

It has been said that the political opinions of the Captain did not
trouble him much. He would have sacrificed his most serious opinion
before such enticing arguments and under like circumstances; he made a
good bargain of his ideas for the same reason, but at last he was
attacked in his tenderest point: this was the question of the traffic in
which the “Dolphin” was being employed, and, consequently, the
ammunition which was being carried to the Confederates.

“Yes, Mr. James,” said Miss Halliburtt, “gratitude does not hinder me
from speaking with perfect frankness; on the contrary, you are a brave
seaman, a clever merchant, the house of Playfair is noted for its
respectability; but in this case it fails in its principles, and follows
a trade unworthy of it.”

“How!” cried James, “the house of Playfair ought not to attempt such a
commercial enterprise?”

“No! it is taking ammunition to the unhappy creatures in revolt against
the government of their country, and it is lending arms to a bad cause.”

“Upon my honour, Miss Jenny, I will not discuss the fight of the
Confederates with you; I will only answer you with one word: I am a
merchant, and as such I only occupy myself with the interests of my
house; I look for gain wherever there is an opportunity of getting it.”

“That is precisely what is to be blamed, Mr. James,” replied the young
girl; “profit does not excuse it; thus, when you supply arms to the
Southerners, with which to continue a criminal war, you are quite as
guilty as when you sell opium to the Chinese, which stupefies them.”

“Oh! for once, Miss Jenny, this is too much, and I cannot admit—”

“No; what I say is just, and when you consider it, when you understand
the part you are playing, when you think of the results for which you
are responsible, you will yield to me in this point, as in so many

James Playfair was dumbfoundered at these words; he left the young girl,
a prey to angry thoughts, for he felt his powerlessness to answer; then
he sulked like a child for half an hour, and an hour later he returned
to the singular young girl who could overwhelm him with convincing
arguments, with quite a pleasant smile.

In short, however it may have come about, and although he would not
acknowledge it to himself, Captain James Playfair belonged to himself no
longer, he was no longer commander-in-chief on board his own ship.

Thus, to Crockston’s great joy, Mr. Halliburtt’s affairs appeared to be
in a good way; the Captain seemed to have decided to undertake
everything in his power to deliver Miss Jenny’s father, and for this he
would be obliged to compromise the “Dolphin,” his cargo, his crew, and
incur the displeasure of his worthy uncle Vincent.

                              CHAPTER VI.
                        SULLIVAN ISLAND CHANNEL.

Two days after the meeting with the “Iroquois,” the “Dolphin” found
herself abreast of the Bermudas, where she was assailed by a violent
squall. These isles are frequently visited by hurricanes, and are
celebrated for shipwrecks. It is here that Shakspeare has placed the
exciting scene of his drama, “The Tempest,” in which Ariel and Caliban
dispute for the empire of the floods.

The squall was frightful; James Playfair thought once of running for one
of the Bermudas, where the English had a military post: it would have
been a sad waste of time, and therefore especially to be regretted;
happily the “Dolphin” behaved herself wonderfully well in the storm, and
after flying a whole day before the tempest, she was able to resume her
course towards the American coast.

[Illustration: THE SQUALL.]

But if James Playfair had been pleased with his ship, he had not been
less delighted with the young girl’s bravery; Miss Halliburtt had passed
the worst hours of the storm at his side, and James knew that a
profound, imperious, irresistible love had taken possession of his whole

“Yes,” said he, “this brave girl is mistress on board; she turns me like
the sea a ship in distress—I feel that I am foundering! What will Uncle
Vincent say? Ah! poor nature, I am sure that if Jenny asked me to throw
all this cursed cargo into the sea, I should do it without hesitating,
for love of her.”

Happily for the firm of Playfair and Co., Miss Halliburtt did not demand
this sacrifice; nevertheless, the poor Captain had been taken captive,
and Crockston, who read his heart like an open book, rubbed his hands

“We will hold him fast!” he muttered to himself, “and before a week has
passed my master will be quietly installed in one of the best cabins of
the ‘Dolphin.’”

As for Miss Jenny, did she perceive the feelings which she inspired? did
she allow herself to share them? No one could say, and James Playfair
least of all; the young girl kept a perfect reserve, and her secret
remained deeply buried in her heart.

But whilst love was making such progress in the heart of the young
Captain, the “Dolphin” sped with no less rapidity towards Charleston.

On the 13th of January, the watch signalled land ten miles to the west.
It was a low-lying coast, and almost blended with the line of the sea in
the distance. Crockston was examining the horizon attentively, and about
nine o’clock in the morning he cried,—

“Charleston lighthouse!”


Now that the bearings of the “Dolphin” were set, James Playfair had but
one thing to do, to decide by which channel he would run into Charleston

“If we meet with no obstacles,” said he, “before three o’clock we shall
be in safety in the docks of the port.”

The town of Charleston is situated on the banks of an estuary seven
miles long and two broad, called Charleston Harbour, the entrance to
which is rather difficult. It is enclosed between Morris Island on the
south, and Sullivan Island on the north. At the time when the “Dolphin”
attempted to force the blockade Morris Island already belonged to the
Federal troops, and General Gillmore had caused batteries to be erected
overlooking the harbour. Sullivan Island, on the contrary, was in the
hands of the Confederates, who were also in possession of Moultrie Fort,
situated at the extremity of the island; therefore it would be
advantageous to the “Dolphin” to go as close as possible to the northern
shores to avoid the firing from the forts on Morris Island.

Five channels led into the estuary, Sullivan Island Channel, the
Northern Channel, the Overall Channel, the Principal Channel, and
lastly, the Lawford Channel; but it was useless for strangers, unless
they had skilful pilots on board, or ships drawing less than seven feet
of water to attempt this last; as for Northern and Overall Channels,
they were in range of the Federalist batteries, so that it was no good
thinking of them. If James Playfair could have had his choice, he would
have taken his steamer through the Principal Channel, which was the
best, and the bearings of which were easy to follow; but it was
necessary to yield to circumstances, and to decide according to the
event. Besides, the Captain of the “Dolphin” knew perfectly all the
secrets of this bay, its dangers, the depths of its water at low tide,
and its currents, so that he was able to steer his ship with the
greatest safety as soon as he entered one of these narrow straits. The
great question was to get there.

Now this work demanded an experienced seaman, and one who knew exactly
the qualities of the “Dolphin.”

In fact two Federal frigates were now cruising in the Charleston waters.
Mr. Mathew soon drew James Playfair’s attention to them.

“They are preparing to ask us what we want on these shores,” said he.

“Ah, well! we won’t answer them,” replied the Captain, “and they will
not get their curiosity satisfied.”

In the meanwhile the cruisers were coming on full steam towards the
“Dolphin,” who continued her course, taking care to keep out of range of
their guns. But in order to gain time James Playfair made for the
south-west, wishing to put the enemies’ ships off their guard; the
latter must have thought that the “Dolphin” intended to make for Morris
Island Channel. Now there they had batteries and guns, a single shot
from which would have been enough to sink the English ship; so the
Federals allowed the “Dolphin” to run towards the south-west, contenting
themselves by observing her without following closely.

Thus for an hour the respective situations of the ships did not change,
for James Playfair, wishing to deceive the cruisers as to the course of
the “Dolphin,” had caused the fires to be moderated, so that the speed
was decreased. However, from the thick volumes of smoke which escaped
from the chimneys, it might have been thought that he was trying to get
his maximum pressure, and, consequently, his maximum of rapidity.

“They will be slightly astonished presently,” said James Playfair, “when
they see us slip through their fingers!”

In fact, when the Captain saw that he was near enough to Morris Island,
and before a line of guns, the range of which he did not know, he turned
his rudder quickly, and the ship resumed her northerly course, leaving
the cruisers two miles to windward of her; the latter seeing this
manœuvre understood the steamer’s object, and began to pursue her in
earnest, but it was too late. The “Dolphin” doubled her speed under the
action of the screws, and distanced them rapidly. Going nearer to the
coast, a few shell were sent after her as an acquittal of conscience,
but the Federals were outdone, for their projectiles did not reach half
way. At eleven o’clock in the morning, the steamer ranging near Sullivan
Island, thanks to her small draft, entered the narrow strait full steam;
there she was in safety, for no Federalist cruiser dared follow her in
this channel, the depth of which, on an average, was only eleven feet at
low tide.

“How?” cried Crockston, “and is that the only difficulty?”

“Oh! oh! Master Crockston,” said James Playfair, “the difficulty is not
in entering, but in getting out again.”

“Nonsense!” replied the American, “that does not make me at all uneasy;
with a boat like the ‘Dolphin’ and a Captain like Mr. James Playfair,
one can go where one likes, and come out in the same manner.”

Nevertheless, James Playfair, with telescope in his hand, was
attentively examining the route to be followed. He had before him
excellent coasting guides, with which he could go ahead without any
difficulty or hesitation.

Once his ship was safely in the narrow channel which runs the length of
Sullivan Island, James steered bearing towards the middle of Fort
Moultrie as far as the Pinckney Castle, situated on the isolated island
of Shute’s Folly; on the other side rose Fort Johnson, a little way to
the north of Fort Sumter.

At this moment the steamer was saluted by some shot which did not reach
her, from the batteries on Morris Island. She continued her course
without any deviation, passed before Moultrieville, situated at the
extremity of Sullivan Island, and entered the bay.

Soon Fort Sumter on the left protected her from the batteries of the

This fort, so celebrated in the civil war, is situated three miles and a
half from Charleston, and about a mile from each side of the bay: it is
nearly pentagonal in form, built on an artificial island of
Massachusetts granite, it took ten years to construct and cost more than
900,000 dollars.

It was from this fort, on the 13th of April, 1861, that Anderson and the
Federal troops were driven, and it was against it that the first shot of
the Confederates was fired. It is impossible to estimate the quantity of
iron and lead which the Federals showered down upon it. However, it
resisted for almost three years, but a few months after the passage of
the “Dolphin,” it fell beneath General Gillmore’s three hundred-pounders
on Morris Island.

But at this time it was in all its strength, and the Confederate flag
floated proudly above it.

Once past the fort the town of Charleston appeared lying between Ashley
and Cooper rivers.

James Playfair threaded his way through the buoys which mark the
entrance of the channel, leaving behind the Charleston lighthouse
visible above Morris Island. He had hoisted the English flag, and made
his way with wonderful rapidity through the narrow channels. When he had
passed the Quarantine buoy, he advanced freely into the centre of the
bay. Miss Halliburtt was standing on the poop, looking at the town where
her father was kept prisoner, and her eyes filled with tears.

At last the steamer’s speed was moderated by the Captain’s orders; the
“Dolphin” ranged along the end of the south and east batteries, and was
soon moored at the quay of the North Commercial Wharf.


                              CHAPTER VII.
                          A SOUTHERN GENERAL.

The “Dolphin” on arriving at the Charleston quay, had been saluted by
the cheers of a large crowd. The inhabitants of this town, strictly
blockaded by sea, were not accustomed to visits from European ships.
They asked each other, not without astonishment, what this great
steamer, proudly bearing the English flag, had come to do in their
waters; but when they learned the object of her voyage, and why she had
just forced the passage Sullivan, when the report spread that she
carried a cargo of smuggled ammunition, the cheers and joyful cries were

James Playfair, without losing a moment, entered into negotiation with
General Beauregard, the military commander of the town. The latter
eagerly received the young Captain of the “Dolphin,” who had arrived in
time to provide the soldiers with the clothes and ammunition they were
so much in want of. It was agreed that the unloading of the ship should
take place immediately, and numerous hands came to help the English

Before quitting his ship James Playfair had received from Miss
Halliburtt the most pressing injunctions with regard to her father, and
the Captain had placed himself entirely at the young girl’s service.

“Miss Jenny,” he had said, “you may rely on me; I will do the utmost in
my power to save your father, but I hope this business will not present
many difficulties; I shall go and see General Beauregard to-day, and
without asking him at once for Mr. Halliburtt’s liberty, I shall learn
in what situation he is, whether he is on bail, or a prisoner.”

“My poor father!” replied Jenny, sighing; “he little thinks his daughter
is so near him. Oh that I could fly into his arms!”

“A little patience, Miss Jenny, you will soon embrace your father. Rely
upon my acting with the most entire devotion, but also with prudence and

This is why James Playfair, after having delivered the cargo of the
“Dolphin” up to the General, and bargained for an immense stock of
cotton, faithful to his promise, turned the conversation to the events
of the day.

“So,” said he, “you believe in the triumph of the slave-holders?”

“I do not for a moment doubt of our final success, and as regards
Charleston, Lee’s army will soon relieve it: besides, what do you expect
from the Abolitionists? admitting that which will never be, that the
commercial towns of Virginia, the two Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, fall
under their power, what then? Will they be masters of a country they can
never occupy? No, certainly not; and for my part if they are ever
victorious they shall pay dearly for it.”

“And you are quite sure of your soldiers?” asked the Captain; “you are
not afraid that Charleston will grow weary of a siege which is ruining

“No, I do not fear treason; besides, the traitors would be punished
remorselessly, and I would destroy the town itself by sword or fire if I
discovered the least Unionist movement. Jefferson Davis confided
Charleston to me, and you may be sure that Charleston is in safe hands.”

“Have you any Federal prisoners?” asked James Playfair, coming to the
interesting object of the conversation.

“Yes, Captain,” replied the General, “it was at Charleston that the
first shot of separation was fired. The Abolitionists who were here
attempted to resist, and after being defeated they have been kept as
prisoners of war.”

“And have you many?”

“About a hundred.”

“Free in the town?”

“They were until I discovered a plot formed by them: their chief
succeeded in establishing a communication with the besiegers, who were
thus informed of the situation of affairs in the town. I was then
obliged to lock up these dangerous guests, and several of them will only
leave their prison to ascend the slope of the citadel, where ten
confederate balls will reward them for their federalism.”

“What! to be shot!” cried the young man, shuddering involuntarily.

“Yes, and their chief first of all. He is a very dangerous man to have
in a besieged town. I have sent his letters to the President at
Richmond, and before a week is passed his sentence will be irrevocably

“Who is this man you speak of,” asked James Playfair, with an assumed

“A journalist from Boston, a violent Abolitionist with the confounded
spirit of Lincoln.”

“And his name?”

“Jonathan Halliburtt.”

“Poor wretch!” exclaimed James, suppressing his emotion; “whatever he
may have done one cannot help pitying him. And you think that he will be

“I am sure of it,” replied Beauregard. “What can you expect? War is war,
one must defend oneself as best one can.”

“Well, it is nothing to me,” said the Captain; “I shall be far enough
away when this execution takes place.”

“What! you are thinking of going away already.”

“Yes, General, business must be attended to; as soon as my cargo of
cotton is on board I shall be out to sea again. I was fortunate enough
to enter the bay, but the difficulty is in getting out again. The
‘Dolphin’ is a good ship; she can beat any of the Federal ships for
speed, but she does not pretend to distance cannon-balls, and a shell in
her hull or engine would seriously affect my enterprise.”

“As you please, Captain,” replied Beauregard; “I have no advice to give
you under such circumstances. You are doing your business, and you are
right. I should act in the same manner were I in your place; besides a
stay at Charleston is not very pleasant, and a harbour where shells are
falling three days out of four is not a safe shelter for your ship; so
you will set sail when you please; but can you tell me what is the
number and the force of the Federal ships cruising before Charleston?”

James Playfair did his best to answer the General, and took leave of him
on the best of terms; then he returned to the “Dolphin” very thoughtful
and very depressed from what he had just heard.

“What shall I say to Miss Jenny? ought I to tell her of Mr. Halliburtt’s
terrible situation? or would it be better to keep her in ignorance of
the trial which is awaiting her? Poor child!”

He had not gone fifty steps from the governor’s house when he ran
against Crockston: the worthy American had been watching for him since
his departure.

“Well, Captain?”

James Playfair looked steadily at Crockston, and the latter soon
understood he had no favourable news to give him.

“Have you seen Beauregard?” he asked.

“Yes,” replied James Playfair.

“And have you spoken to him about Mr. Halliburtt?”

“No! it was he who spoke to me about him.”

“Well, Captain?”

“Well! I may as well tell you everything, Crockston.”

“Everything, Captain.”

“General Beauregard has told me that your master will be shot within a

At this news any one else but Crockston would have grown furious or
given way to bursts of grief, but the American, who feared nothing, only
said, with almost a smile on his lips,—

“Pooh! what does it matter?”

“How! what does it matter?” cried James Playfair; “I tell you that Mr.
Halliburtt will be shot within a week, and you answer, what does it

“And I mean it—if in six days he is on board the ‘Dolphin,’ and if in
seven days the ‘Dolphin’ is on the open sea.”

“Right!” exclaimed the Captain, pressing Crockston’s hand. “I
understand, my good fellow, you have got some pluck; and for myself, in
spite of Uncle Vincent, I would throw myself overboard for Miss Jenny.”

“No one need be thrown overboard,” replied the American, “only the fish
would gain by that: the most important business now is to deliver Mr.

“But you must know that it will be difficult to do so.”

“Pooh!” exclaimed Crockston.

“It is a question of communicating with a prisoner strictly guarded.”


“And to bring about an almost miraculous escape.”

“Nonsense,” exclaimed Crockston; “a prisoner thinks more of escaping
than his guardian thinks of keeping him; that’s why, thanks to our help,
Mr. Halliburtt will be saved.”

“You are right, Crockston.”

“Always right.”

“But now what will you do? there must be some plan; and there are
precautions to be taken.”

“I will think about it.”

“But when Miss Jenny learns that her father is condemned to death, and
that the order for his execution may come any day—”

“She will know nothing about it, that is all.”

“Yes, it will be better for her and for us to tell her nothing.”

“Where is Mr. Halliburtt imprisoned?” asked Crockston.

“In the citadel,” replied James Playfair.

“Just so!—On board now?”

“On board, Crockston!”

                             CHAPTER VIII.
                              THE ESCAPE.

Miss Jenny, sitting at the poop of the “Dolphin,” was anxiously waiting
the captain’s return; when the latter went up to her she could not utter
a word, but her eyes questioned James Playfair more eagerly than her
lips could have done. The latter, with Crockston’s help, informed the
young girl of the facts relating to her father’s imprisonment. He said
that he had carefully broached the subject of the prisoners of war to
Beauregard, but as the General did not seem disposed at all in their
favour, he had thought it better to say no more about it, but think the
matter over again.

“Since Mr. Halliburtt is not free in the town, his escape will be more
difficult; but I will finish my task, and I promise you, Miss Jenny,
that the ‘Dolphin’ shall not leave Charleston, without having your
father on board.”

“Thank you, Mr. James; I thank you with my whole heart.”

[Illustration: “I PROMISE YOU, MISS JENNY.”]

At these words James Playfair felt a thrill of joy through his whole

He approached the young girl with moist eyes and quivering lips; perhaps
he was going to make an avowal of the sentiments he could no longer
repress, when Crockston interfered,—

“This is no time for grieving,” said he; “we must go to work, and
consider what to do.”

“Have you any plan, Crockston?” asked the young girl.

“I always have a plan,” replied the American; “it is my peculiarity.”

“But a good one?” said James Playfair.

“Excellent! and all the ministers in Washington could not devise a
better; it is almost as good as if Mr. Halliburtt was already on board.”

Crockston spoke with such perfect assurance, at the same time with such
simplicity, that it must have been the most incredulous person who could
doubt his words.

“We are listening, Crockston,” said James Playfair.

“Good! You, Captain, will go to General Beauregard, and ask a favour of
him which he will not refuse you.”

“And what is that?”

“You will tell him that you have on board a tiresome subject, a scamp
who has been very troublesome during the voyage, and excited the crew to
revolt. You will ask of him permission to shut him up in the citadel; at
the same time on the condition that he shall return to the ship on her
departure, in order to be taken back to England, to be delivered over to
the justice of his country.”

“Good!” said James Playfair, half smiling, “I will do all that, and
Beauregard will grant my request very willingly.”

“I am perfectly sure of it,” replied the American.

“But,” resumed Playfair, “one thing is wanting.”

“What is that?”

“The scamp.”

“He is before you, Captain.”

“What, the rebellious subject?—”

“Is myself; don’t trouble yourself about that.”

“Oh! you brave, generous heart,” cried Jenny, pressing the American’s
rough hands between her small white palms.

“Go, Crockston,” said James Playfair; “I understand you, my friend; and
I only regret one thing, that is, that I cannot take your place.”

“Every one his part,” replied Crockston; “if you put yourself in my
place you would be very much embarrassed, which I shall not be; you will
have enough to do later on to get out of the harbour under the fire of
the Feds and Rebs, which, for my part, I should manage very badly.”

“Well, Crockston, go on.”

“Once in the citadel—I know it—I shall see what to do, and rest assured
I shall do my best; in the meanwhile, you will be getting your cargo on

“Oh! business is now a very unimportant detail,” said the Captain.

“Not at all! and what would your uncle Vincent say to that? We must join
sentiment with work; it will prevent suspicion; but do it quickly. Can
you be ready in six days?”


“Well, let the ‘Dolphin’ be ready to start on the 22nd.”

“She shall be ready.”

“On the evening of the 22nd of January, you understand, send a
shore-boat with your best men to White Point, at the end of the town;
wait there till nine o’clock, and then you will see Mr. Halliburtt and
your servant.”

“But how will you manage to effect Mr. Halliburtt’s deliverance, and
also escape yourself?”

“That’s my look-out.”

“Dear Crockston, you are going to risk your life then, to save my

“Don’t be uneasy, Miss Jenny, I shall risk absolutely nothing, you may
believe me.”

“Well,” asked James Playfair, “when must I have you locked up?”

“To-day—you understand—I demoralize your crew; there is no time to be

“Would you like any money? it may be of use to you in the citadel.”

“Money to buy the gaoler! Oh, no! it would be a poor bargain; when one
goes there the gaoler keeps the money and the prisoner! No! I have surer
means than that; however, a few dollars may be useful; one must be able
to drink, if needs be.”

“And intoxicate the gaoler.”

“No, an intoxicated gaoler would spoil everything. No, I tell you I have
an idea, let me work it out.”

“Here, my good fellow, are ten dollars.”

“It is too much, but I will return what is over.”

“Well, then, are you ready?”

“Quite ready to be a downright rogue.”

“Let us go to work then.”

“Crockston,” said the young girl, in a faltering voice, “you are the
best man on earth.”

“I know it,”replied the American, laughing good-humouredly. “By-the-bye,
Captain, an important item.”

“What is that?”

“If the General proposes to hang your rebel—you know that military men
like sharp work—”

“Well, Crockston?”

“Well, you will say that you must think about it.”

“I promise you I will.”

The same day to the great astonishment of the crew, who were not in the
secret, Crockston with his feet and hands in irons was taken on shore by
a dozen sailors, and half-an-hour after, by Captain James Playfair’s
request, he was led through the streets of the town, and in spite of his
resistance was imprisoned in the citadel.

During this and the following days the unloading of the “Dolphin” was
rapidly accomplished; the steam cranes lifted out the European cargo to
make room for the native goods. The people of Charleston, who were
present at this interesting work, helped the sailors, whom they held in
great respect, but the Captain did not leave the brave fellows much time
for receiving compliments; he was constantly behind them, and urged them
on with a feverish activity, the reason of which the sailors could not

Three days later, on the 18th of January, the first bales of cotton
began to be packed in the hold; although James Playfair troubled himself
no more about it, the firm of Playfair and Co. were making an excellent
bargain, having obtained the cotton which encumbered the Charleston
wharves at very far less than its value.

In the meantime no news had been heard of Crockston. Jenny without
saying anything about it was a prey to incessant fears, her pale face
spoke for her, and James Playfair endeavoured his utmost to ease her

“I have all confidence in Crockston,” said he, “he is a devoted servant,
as you must know better than I do, Miss Jenny. You must make yourself
quite at ease; believe me, in three days you will be folded in your
father’s arms.”

“Ah! Mr. James,” cried the young girl, “how can I ever repay you for
such devotion? How shall we ever be able to thank you?”

“I will tell you when we are in English seas,” replied the young

Jenny raised her tearful face to him for a moment, then her eyelids
drooped, and she went back to her cabin.

James Playfair hoped that the young girl would know nothing of her
father’s terrible situation until he was in safety, but she was apprized
of the truth by the involuntary indiscretion of a sailor.

The reply from the Richmond cabinet had arrived by a courier who had
been able to pass the line of outposts; the reply contained Jonathan
Halliburtt’s death-warrant. The news of the approaching execution was
not long in spreading through the town, and it was brought on board by
one of the sailors of the “Dolphin;” the man told the Captain, without
thinking that Miss Halliburtt was within hearing; the young girl uttered
a piercing cry, and fell unconscious on the deck. James Playfair carried
her to her cabin, but the most assiduous care was necessary to restore
her to life.

When she opened her eyes again, she saw the young Captain, who, with a
finger on his lips, enjoined absolute silence. With difficulty she
repressed the outburst of her grief, and James Playfair, leaning towards
her, said gently,—

“Jenny, in two hours your father will be in safety near you, or I shall
have perished in endeavouring to save him!”

Then he left the cabin, saying to himself, “And now he must be carried
off at any price, since I must pay for his liberty with my own life and
that of my crew.”

The hour for action had arrived, the loading of the cotton cargo had
been finished since morning; in two hours the ship would be ready to

James Playfair had left the North Commercial Wharf and gone into the
roadstead, so that he was ready to make use of the tide, which would be
high at nine o’clock in the evening.

It was seven o’clock when James left the young girl, and began to make
preparations for departure. Until the present time the secret had been
strictly kept between himself, Crockston, and Jenny; but now he thought
it wise to inform Mr. Mathew of the situation of affairs, and he did so

“Very well, sir,” replied Mr. Mathew, without making the least remark,
“and nine o’clock is the time?”

“Nine o’clock, and have the fires lit immediately, and the steam got

“It shall be done, Captain.”

“The ‘Dolphin’ may remain at anchor; we will cut our moorings and sheer
off, without losing a moment.”

“Just so.”

“Have a lantern placed at the main-mast-head; the night is dark, and
will be foggy; we must not risk losing our way in returning; you had
better have the bell for starting rung at nine o’clock.”

“Your orders shall be punctually attended to, Captain.”

“And now, Mr. Mathew, have a shore-boat manned with six of our best men;
I am going to set out directly for ‘White Point.’ I leave Miss Jenny in
your charge, and may God protect us!”

“May God protect us!” repeated the first officer.

Then he immediately gave the necessary orders for the fires to be
lighted, and the shore-boat provided with men. In a few minutes the boat
was ready, and James Playfair, after bidding Jenny good-bye, stepped
into it, whilst at the same time, he saw volumes of black smoke issuing
from the chimneys of the ship, and losing itself in the fog.

The darkness was profound; the wind had fallen, and in the perfect
silence the waters seemed to slumber in the immense harbour, whilst a
few uncertain lights glimmered through the mist. James Playfair had
taken his place at the rudder, and with a steady hand he guided his boat
towards White Point. It was a distance of about two miles; during the
day James had taken his bearings perfectly, so that he was able to make
direct for Charleston Point.

Eight o’clock struck from the church of St. Philip when the shore-boat
ran aground at White Point.

There was an hour to wait before the exact time fixed by Crockston; the
quay was deserted, with the exception of the sentinel pacing to and fro
on the south and east batteries. James Playfair grew impatient, and the
minutes seemed hours to him.

At half-past eight he heard the sound of approaching steps; he left his
men with their oars clear and ready to start, and went himself to see
who it was; but he had not gone ten feet when he met a band of
coast-guards, in all about twenty men. James drew his revolver from his
waist, deciding to make use of it, if needs be; but what could he do
against these soldiers, who were coming on to the quay?

The leader came up to him, and seeing the boat, asked,—

“Whose craft is that?”

“It is a shore-boat belonging to the ‘Dolphin,’” replied the young man.

“And who are you?”

“Captain James Playfair.”

“I thought you had already started, and were now in the Charleston

“I am ready to start. I ought even now to be on my way, but—”

“But—” persisted the coast-guard.

A bright idea shot through James’s mind, and he answered,—

“One of my sailors is locked up in the citadel, and to tell the truth I
had almost forgotten him; fortunately I thought of him in time, and I
have sent my men to bring him.”

“Ah! that troublesome fellow; you wish to take him back to England?”


“He might as well be hung here as there,” said the coast-guard, laughing
at his joke.

“So I think,” said James Playfair, “but it is better to have the thing
done in the regular way.”

“Not much chance of that, Captain, when you have to face the Morris
Island batteries.”

“Don’t alarm yourself. I got in and I’ll get out again.”

“Prosperous voyage to you!”

“Thank you.”

With this the men went off, and the shore was left silent.

At this moment nine o’clock struck; it was the appointed moment. James
felt his heart beat violently: a whistle was heard; he replied to it,
then he waited, listening, with his hand up to enjoin perfect silence on
the sailors; a man appeared enveloped in a large cloak, and looking from
one side to another, James ran up to him.

[Illustration: MR. HALLIBURTT?]

“Mr. Halliburtt?”

“I am he,” replied the man with the cloak.

“God be praised!” cried James Playfair; “embark without losing a minute.
Where is Crockston?”

“Crockston!” exclaimed Mr. Halliburtt, amazed. “What do you mean?”

“The man who has saved you and brought you here was your servant

“The man who came with me was the gaoler from the citadel,” replied Mr.

“The gaoler!” cried James Playfair.

Evidently he knew nothing about it, and a thousand fears crowded in his

“Quite right, the gaoler,” cried a well-known voice; “the gaoler is
sleeping like a top in my cell.”

“Crockston! you! can it be you?” exclaimed Mr. Halliburtt.

“No time to talk now, master; we will explain everything to you
afterwards; it is a question of life or death. Get in quick!”

The three men took their places in the boat.

“Push off!” cried the captain.

Immediately the six oars dipped into the water; the boat darted like a
fish through the waters of Charleston Harbour.

                              CHAPTER IX.
                          “BETWEEN TWO FIRES.”

The boat, pulled by six robust oarsmen, flew over the water. The fog was
growing dense, and it was with difficulty that James Playfair succeeded
in keeping to the line of his bearings. Crockston sat at the bows, and
Mr. Halliburtt at the stern next the Captain. The prisoner, only now
informed of the presence of his servant, wished to speak to him, but the
latter enjoined silence.

However, a few minutes later, when they were in the middle of the
harbour, Crockston determined to speak knowing what thoughts were
uppermost in Mr. Halliburtt’s mind.

“Yes, my dear master,” said he, “the gaoler is in my place in the cell,
where I gave him two smart blows, one on the head and the other on the
stomach, to act as a sleeping draught, and this when he was bringing me
my supper; there is gratitude for you. I took his clothes and his keys,
found you, and let you out of the citadel, under the soldiers’ noses.
That is all I have done.”

“But my daughter?—” asked Mr. Halliburtt.

“Is on board the ship which is going to take you to England.”

“My daughter there! there!” cried the American, springing from his seat.

“Silence!” replied Crockston, “a few minutes, and we shall be saved.”

The boat flew through the darkness, but James Playfair was obliged to
steer rather by guess, as the lanterns of the “Dolphin” were no longer
visible through the fog. He was undecided what direction to follow, and
the darkness was so great that the rowers could not even see to the end
of their oars.

“Well, Mr. James?” said Crockston.

“We must have made more than a mile and a half,” replied the Captain.
“You don’t see anything, Crockston?”

“Nothing; nevertheless I have good eyes, but we shall get there all
right. They don’t suspect anything out there.”

These words were hardly finished when the flash of a gun gleamed for an
instant through the darkness, and vanished in the mist.

“A signal!” cried James Playfair.

“Whew!” exclaimed Crockston, “it must have come from the citadel. Let us

A second, then a third shot was fired in the direction of the first, and
almost the same signal was repeated a mile in front of the shore-boat.

“That is from Fort Sumter,” cried Crockston, “and it is the signal of
escape. Urge on the men; everything is discovered.”

“Pull for your lives, my men!” cried James Playfair, urging on the
sailors, “those gun-shots cleared my route. ‘The Dolphin’ is eight
hundred yards ahead of us. Stop! I hear the bell on board. Hurrah, there
it is again! Twenty pounds for you if we are back in five minutes!”

The boat skimmed over the waves under the sailors’ powerful oars. A
cannon boomed in the direction of the town. Crockston heard a ball whiz
past them.

The bell on the “Dolphin” was ringing loudly. A few more strokes and the
boat was alongside. A few more seconds and Jenny fell into her father’s


The shore-boat was immediately raised, and James Playfair sprang on to
the poop.

“Is the steam up, Mr. Mathew?”

“Yes, Captain.”

“Have the moorings cut at once.”

A few minutes later the two screws carried the steamer towards the
principal channel, away from Fort Sumter.

“Mr. Mathew,” said James, “we must not think of taking the Sullivan
Island channel; we should run directly under the Confederate guns. Let
us go as near as possible to the right side of the harbour out of range
of the Federal batteries. Have you a safe man at the helm?”

“Yes, Captain.”

“Have the lanterns and the fires on deck extinguished; there is a great
deal too much light, but we cannot help the reflection from the

During this conversation the “Dolphin” was going at a great speed; but
in altering her course to keep to the right side of the Charleston
Harbour she was obliged to enter a channel which took her for a moment
near Fort Sumter; and when scarcely half a mile off all the guns bearing
on her were discharged at the same time, and a shower of shot and shell
passed in front of the “Dolphin” with a thundering report.

“Too soon, stupids,” cried James Playfair, with a burst of laughter.
“Make haste, make haste, Mr. Engineer! We shall get between two fires.”

The stokers fed the furnaces, and the “Dolphin” trembled all over with
the effort of the engine as if she was on the point of exploding.

At this moment a second report was heard, and another shower of balls
whizzed behind the “Dolphin.”

“Too late, stupids,” cried the young Captain, with a regular roar.

Then Crockston, who was standing on the poop, cried, “That’s one passed.
A few minutes more, and we shall have done with the Rebs.”

“Then do you think we have nothing more to fear from Fort Sumter?” asked

“Nothing at all, but everything from Fort Moultrie, at the end of
Sullivan Island; but they will only get a chance at us for half a
minute, and then they must choose their time well, and shoot straight if
they want to reach us. We are getting near.”

“Right; the position of Fort Moultrie will allow us to go straight for
the principal channel. Fire away then, fire away!”

At the same moment, and as if in obedience to James Playfair, the fort
was illuminated by a triple line of lightning. A frightful crash was
heard; then a crackling sound on board the steamer.

“Touched this time!” exclaimed Crockston.

“Mr. Mathew!” cried the Captain to his second, who was stationed at the
bows, “what has been damaged?”

“The bowsprit broken.”

“Any wounded?”

“No, Captain.”

“Well, then, the masts may go to Jericho. Straight into the pass!
Straight! and steer towards the island.”

“We have passed the Rebs!” cried Crockston; “and if we must have balls
in our hull, I would much rather have the Northerners’; they are more
easily digested.”

In fact, the “Dolphin” could not yet consider herself out of danger; for
if Morris Island was not fortified with the formidable pieces of
artillery which were placed there a few months later, nevertheless its
guns and mortars could easily have sunk a ship like the “Dolphin.”

The alarm had been given to the Federals on the island, and to the
blockading squadron, by the firing from Forts Sumter and Moultrie. The
besiegers could not make out the reason of this night attack; it did not
seem to be directed against them. However, they were obliged to consider
it so, and were ready to reply.

It occupied James Playfair’s thoughts whilst making towards the passes
of Morris Island; and he had reason to fear, for in a quarter of an
hour’s time lights gleamed rapidly through the darkness. A shower of
small shell fell round the steamer, scattering the water over her
bulwarks; some of them even struck the deck of the “Dolphin,” but not on
their points, which saved the ship from certain ruin. In fact, these
shell, as it was afterwards discovered, could break into a hundred
fragments, and each cover a superficial area of a hundred and twenty
square feet with Greek fire, which would burn for twenty minutes, and
nothing could extinguish it. One of these shell alone could set a ship
on fire. Fortunately for the “Dolphin,” they were a new invention, and
as yet far from perfect. Once thrown into the air, a false rotary
movement kept them inclined, and, when falling, instead of striking on
their points, where is the percussion apparatus, they fell flat. This
defect in construction alone saved the “Dolphin.” The falling of these
shells did her little harm, and under the pressure of her over-heated
boilers she continued to advance into the pass.

At this moment, and in spite of his orders, Mr. Halliburtt and his
daughter went to James Playfair on the poop; the latter urged them to
return to their cabins, but Jenny declared that she would remain by the
Captain. As for Mr. Halliburtt, who had just learnt all the noble
conduct of his deliverer, he pressed his hand without being able to
utter a word.

The “Dolphin” was speeding rapidly towards the open sea. There were only
three miles more before she would be in the waters of the Atlantic; if
the pass was free at its entrance, she was saved. James Playfair was
wonderfully well acquainted with all the secrets of Charleston Bay, and
he guided his ship through the darkness with an unerring hand. He was
beginning to think his daring enterprise successful, when a sailor on
the forecastle cried,—

“A ship!”

“A ship?” cried James.

“Yes, on the larboard side.”

The fog had cleared off, and a large frigate was seen making towards the
pass, in order to obstruct the passage of the “Dolphin.” It was
necessary, cost what it might, to distance her, and urge the
steam-engine to an increase of speed, or all was lost.

“Port the helm at once!” cried the Captain.

Then he sprang on to the bridge above the engine. By his orders one of
the screws was stopped, and under the action of the other the “Dolphin,”
veering with an extraordinary rapidity avoided running foul of the
frigate, and advanced like her to the entrance of the pass. It was now a
question of speed.

James Playfair understood that in this lay his own safety, Miss Jenny’s,
her father’s, and that of all his crew.

The frigate was considerably in advance of the “Dolphin.” It was evident
from the volumes of black smoke issuing from her chimneys that she was
getting up her steam. James Playfair was not the man to be left in the

“How are the engines?” cried he to the engineer.

“At the maximum speed,” replied the latter; “the steam is escaping by
all the valves.”

“Fasten them down,” ordered the Captain.

And his orders were executed at the risk of blowing up the ship.

The “Dolphin” again increased her speed; the pistons worked with
frightful rapidity; the metal plates on which the engine was placed
trembled under the terrific force of their blows. It was a sight to make
the boldest shudder.

“More pressure!” cried James Playfair; “put on more pressure!”

“Impossible!” replied the engineer; “the valves are tightly closed; our
furnaces are full up to the mouths.”

“What difference! Fill them with cotton soaked in spirits; we must pass
that frigate at any price.”

At these words the most daring of the sailors looked at each other, but
did not hesitate. Some bales of cotton were thrown into the engine-room,
a barrel of spirits broached over them, and this expensive fuel placed,
not without danger, in the red-hot furnaces. The stokers could no longer
hear each other speak for the roaring of the flames. Soon the metal
plates of the furnaces became red-hot; the pistons worked like the
pistons of a locomotive; the steam-gauge showed a frightful tension; the
steamer flew over the water; her boards creaked, and her chimneys threw
out volumes of smoke mingled with flames. She was going at a headlong
speed, but, nevertheless, she was gaining on the frigate—passed her,
distanced her, and in ten minutes was out of the channel.

“Saved!” cried the Captain.

“Saved!” echoed the crew, clapping their hands.

Already the Charleston beacon was disappearing in the south-west; the
sound of firing from the batteries grew fainter, and it might with
reason be thought that the danger was all past, when a shell from a
gun-boat cruising at large was hurled whizzing through the air. It was
easy to trace its course, thanks to the line of fire which followed it.

Then was a moment of anxiety impossible to describe, every one was
silent, and each watched fearfully the arch described by the projectile.
Nothing could be done to escape it, and in a few seconds it fell with a
frightful noise on the fore-deck of the “Dolphin.”

The terrified sailors crowded to the stern, and no one dared move a
step, whilst the shell was burning with a brisk crackle.

But one brave man alone among them ran up to the formidable weapon of
destruction. It was Crockston; he took the shell in his strong arms,
whilst showers of sparks were falling from it; then, with a superhuman
effort, he threw it overboard.

Hardly had the shell reached the surface of the water when it burst with
a frightful report.

“Hurrah! hurrah!” cried the whole crew of the “Dolphin” unanimously,
whilst Crockston rubbed his hands.

[Illustration: HE TOOK THE SHELL.]

Some time later the steamer sped rapidly through the waters of the
Atlantic; the American coast disappeared in the darkness, and the
distant lights which shot across the horizon indicated that the attack
was general between the batteries of Morris Island and the forts of
Charleston Harbor.

                               CHAPTER X.
                               ST. MUNGO.

The next day at sunrise the American coast had disappeared; not a ship
was visible on the horizon, and the “Dolphin,” moderating the frightful
rapidity of her speed, made quietly towards the Bermudas.

It is useless to recount the passage across the Atlantic, which was
marked by no accidents, and ten days after the departure from Queenstown
the French coast was hailed.

What passed between the Captain and the young girl may be imagined, even
by the least observant individuals. How could Mr. Halliburtt acknowledge
the devotion and courage of his deliverer, if it was not by making him
the happiest of men? James Playfair did not wait for English seas to
declare to the father and daughter the sentiments which overflowed his
heart, and, if Crockston is to be believed, Miss Jenny received his
confession with a happiness she did not try to conceal.

Thus it happened that on the 14th of February, 18—, a numerous crowd was
collected in the dim aisles of St. Mungo, the old cathedral of Glasgow.
There were seamen, merchants, manufacturers, magistrates, and some of
every denomination, gathered here. There was Miss Jenny in bridal array,
and beside her the worthy Crockston, resplendent in apple-green clothes,
with gold buttons, whilst Uncle Vincent stood proudly by his nephew.

In short, they were celebrating the marriage of James Playfair, of the
firm of Vincent Playfair and Co., of Glasgow, with Miss Jenny
Halliburtt, of Boston.

The ceremony was accomplished amidst great pomp. Every one knew the
history of the “Dolphin,” and every one thought the young Captain well
recompensed for his devotion. He alone said that his reward was greater
than he deserved.

In the evening there was a grand ball and banquet at Uncle Vincent’s
house, with a large distribution of shillings to the crowd collected in
Gordon Street. Crockston did ample justice to this memorable feast,
while keeping himself perfectly within bounds.

Every one was happy at this wedding; some at their own happiness, and
others at the happiness around them, which is not always the case at
ceremonies of this kind.

Late in the evening, when the guests had retired, James Playfair took
his uncle’s hand.

“Well, Uncle Vincent,” said he to him.

“Well, Nephew James?”

“Are you pleased with the charming cargo I brought you on board the
‘Dolphin’?” continued Captain Playfair, showing him his brave young

“I am quite satisfied,” replied the worthy merchant; “I have sold my
cotton at three hundred and seventy-five per cent. profit.”

[Illustration: “WELL, UNCLE VINCENT.”]

                                THE END.


                           Transcriber’s Note

        Where hyphenation occurs on a line break, the decision to
        retain or remove is based on occurrences elsewhere in the

        The errors deemed most likely to be the printer’s have been
        corrected, and are noted here. The references are to the
        page and line in the original text.

        Errors in punctuation and quotes have been silently

  reference  correction      original text

   12.4      enterprise      the enterpri[z]e of the freighters

   16.19     top-men         quartermasters, top[ ]men, steersmen

   25.4      steam-ship      winding passage for our steam[ ]ship.


   37.14     skylights       side sky[-]lights, supported on

   37.15     upper deck      with the upper[-]deck by wide

   45.15     ironwork        not a piece of iron[-]work remaining

   48.15     upper deck      passengers stood on the upper[-]deck

   56.31     statistician    the universal [statician]

   73.4      upper deck      the upper[-]deck at the stern

   80.11     upper deck      couple on to the upper[-]deck.

   89.11     ahead           One ring signifies ship a[-]head

   91.20     ahead           with the wind a[-]head, and

  105.6      upper deck      on to the upper[-]decks; the scene

  113.7      cracks          glimmered through the [creaks]

  117.7      Pleiades        The [Peliades] ascended the celestial

  119.2      'eel' in        twisting myself like an [analide]
             another edition

  119.2b     upper deck      I reached the upper[-]deck,

  126.3      a head          charge 10,000 francs a[]head

  127.13     homogeneity     owing to the perfect [homogenity]

  134.20     Mac Elwin       Captain [McElwin] is one of

  144.31     upper deck      at the end of the upper[-]deck,

  146.13     shore boats     masts and shore[-]boats, hanging from

  150.18     1772            have lived in [1172], or even in 1824

  154.31     rope-ladder     A rope[ ]ladder was thrown over

  157.9      main-mast       from the [mainmast]; these arrangements

  165.21     statistician    Cockburn, the [statician], who had

  166.3      statistician    And the [statician] left me

  169.12     Montmartre      the Boulevard [Montmatre] of Paris

  186.3      Trenton         Tren[d]on (New Jersey)

  198.24     500 horse-power 500[-]horse[ ]power, were from

  204.35     Wilmington      Orleans, Wil[l]mington, and Savannah

  204.36     Charleston      going straight to Charlesto[w]n

  205.4      Charleston      Charlesto[w]n is overwhelmed

  216.27     some            so[ ]me incomprehensible words

  217.35     fore-mast       the main on the fore[]mast.

  219.9      fore-mast       from the fore[]mast!

  246.7      lighthouse      “Charleston light[-]house!”

  249.28     ahead           could go a[-]head without any

  249.29     was             Once his ship [was] safely in the

  250.1      Pinckney        Pickney Castle

  268.21     main-mast-head  placed at the [mainmast-head]

  271.36     Halliburtt      citadel, replied Mr. Halliburt[t]


*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Floating City and The Blockade Runners" ***

Copyright 2023 LibraryBlog. All rights reserved.