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Title: A Voyage round the World

Author: William Henry Giles Kingston

Release date: October 17, 2007 [eBook #23074]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England


W.H.G. Kingston

"A Voyage round the World"

Chapter One.

My home, and how I left it.

The day arrived. A post-chaise stood in front of the old grey manor-house. I have it all before me. The pointed gables—the high-pitched, dark weather; stained roof—the numberless latticed windows—the moat, now dry, which had once served to keep out a body of Cromwell’s horse—the tall elms, which had nestled many a generation of rooks—the clump of beech trees, and the venerable wide-spreading oak—the broad gravelled court on one side, and the velvety lawn on the other, sloping away down to the fine, large, deep fish-pond, whose waters, on which I had obtained my first nautical experiences, as seen through the green foliage, were sparkling brighter than ever under the deep blue of the summer sky.

At the hall door were assembled all those I loved on earth—and dearly, too, I loved them. My mother, as good and kind a mother as ever nursed a somewhat numerous and noisy progeny; my sisters, dear, sweet, good girls; and half-a-dozen brothers, honest, generous, capital fellows; our father, too—such a father!—we always agreed that no one could come up to him. Other fellows might have very good fathers, but they were not equal to him! He could be just like one of us at cricket, or out fishing, or shooting, and yet he was always right, and there was not a finer-looking gentleman in the county, and that every one said. We were all at home for the Midsummer holidays—that is to say, we boys; our mother was not a person to let her girls go to school. Who could say that we were not met for the last time in our lives?

I was the third of the boys. Two of our sisters were older than any of us. I loved them, and they all loved me. Not that we ever talked about that; I knew it and felt it, and yet I was going to leave them by my own express wish.

I was not what is called a studious boy. I was fond of reading, and I read all the books of voyages and travels I could lay hands on, and before long began to wish to go and see with my own eyes what I had read about. My brothers were fond of shooting and fishing and rowing, and so was I; but I thought shooting tigers and lions and elephants, and fishing for whales, and sailing over the salt ocean, would be much grander work than killing partridges, catching perch, or rowing about our pond in a punt. I do not know that my imaginings and wishes, ardent as they grew, would ever have produced any definite form of action, had not an old schoolfellow of our father’s, called Captain Frankland, about a year before the day I speak of, come to our house. As soon as I knew he was coming I was very eager to see him, for I heard our father tell our mother that there was scarcely a part of the world he had not visited, and that he was looked upon as a first-rate navigator, and a most scientific seaman. He had been in the navy during the war-time, but peace came before he was made a lieutenant; and believing that he should not there find sufficient employment for his energies, he had quitted it and entered the merchant-service. While in command of a whaler, he had been far towards the north pole. He had traversed the Antarctic seas, and had often visited India and China, and the islands of the Pacific. Still, as money-making or idleness had never been his aim, and his strength was unabated, he kept at sea when many men would have sought for rest on shore. Such was the account my father gave of him.

How eagerly I waited for his coming! He had chosen the holidays on purpose that he might see our father’s young tribe, he wrote him word. He was the very sort of person I longed to talk to; still it was with no little awe that I thought of actually breakfasting, and dining, and speaking day after day with one who had seen so much of the world, and met with so many adventures. At last he arrived. I was not disappointed in his appearance. He was a tall, thin, spare man, all bone and muscle. His hair was almost white, and his features, which were not a little weather-beaten, had, I thought, a most pleasant expression. While, however, my brothers ran eagerly forward to meet him, I hung back, watching him at a distance, like a bashful child. Had he been one of England’s greatest heroes, I could not have looked at him with greater respect. “And that is the man,” I thought, “who has sailed over thousands and thousands of miles of water, and has seen Indians dressed in feathers and shells, and negroes running wild in their native woods, and Hottentots, and Esquimaux, and Chinese, and I do not know what other strange people!” I saw my father look round for me, so at last I went forward in time to be presented in my turn with the rest of my brothers. Very soon the feeling of awe wore off, and I became the most constant of his attendants wherever he wished to go. With the greatest eagerness I used to listen to the accounts he gave our father of his various adventures in the distant countries he had visited. My brothers listened also; but while they would at length betake themselves to other occupations, I remained his ever-attentive auditor. The interest I exhibited in what he was saying attracted his attention, and much pleased him, so that when I ventured to ask him questions, he both answered them willingly and encouraged me to ask more. Thus we before long became very great friends.

“Should you like to go to sea, Harry?” said he to me one day, when he had begun to talk of taking his departure.

“With you, sir, indeed I should; there’s nothing in the world I should like so much,” I answered. The tone of my voice and the expression of my countenance showed him how much I was in earnest.

“Very well, my boy. You are rather young just yet to rough it at sea, and you will be the better for another year’s schooling; but when I come back from my next voyage, if you are in the same mind, and your father is willing to let you go, I will take you to sea with me. I’ll talk to him about it if I have an opportunity.”

“Thank you, sir—thank you!” I exclaimed, almost choking with the vehemence of my feelings; “it is what I have been longing for above all things. Do, pray, tell my father, or he may suppose it is only a passing fancy of mine, and may wish me to go into some other profession. Still, he’ll let me go with you—I know he will.”

Captain Frankland smiled at my eagerness, but he said not a word to dissuade me from my wish. Perhaps he remembered his own feelings at my age. Grown-up people are apt to forget how they thought and felt when they were boys, which is the reason so few men win the confidence of the young and manage them properly. The captain, on the contrary, seemed to understand me thoroughly, and thus gained a complete influence over me.

“I’ll be ready to go when you come back,” I added.

“Don’t be too sure of yourself, Harry,” he answered. “I’ve seen many people completely change their opinions in a year’s time, and I shall not be absent less than that. If you remain constant to your wish, remember my promise; but if your fancy changes, you are free to follow it as far as I am concerned.”

I thanked Captain Frankland over and over again for his kindness, and certainly did not think that there was a possibility of my changing my inclinations. So he went away, much to my regret, and I fancied that he had not mentioned our conversation to my father. We all returned to school, except our eldest brother, who went to college. I no longer enjoyed school as I once did—I was looked upon as having become very idle. My mind, however, was not idle, I know, for I was continually thinking over the idea which had got possession of it. By allowing my thoughts to rest on that idea, and that alone, the desire increased till I persuaded myself that the only life I could possibly lead with satisfaction was that of a life at sea. All this time the curious thing was, that of the sea itself I practically knew nothing. Born and bred in an inland county, my eyes had actually never rested on the wide ocean. Still, I had formed a notion of what it was like; and I fancied that a sailor was always wandering about from one wild country to another, and going through a rapid succession of wonderful adventures. I forgot all about those long voyages when ships are weeks and weeks together out of sight of land, and the many weary and often anxious hours which a seaman has to pass away; nor did I consider that he has frequently the same voyage to make over and over again, the same lands to visit, and the same people to see. However, though I looked with no little pleasure on the idea of becoming a sailor, I had still greater satisfaction in the anticipation of visiting strange and far-distant lands, in meeting with adventures, and in becoming acquainted with the various tribes of the human race.

With the absorbing passion which now possessed me ruling every thought, I could no longer properly fix my attention on my Latin and Greek books and usual school-lessons; and as for nonsense, and even sense verses, I abandoned all attempts at making them. I am ashamed to say that I allowed others to do the work which passed as mine; and even though I managed to present the required written exercises, I was constantly in richly-deserved disgrace for the neglect of those tasks which no one else could perform for me. I was decidedly wrong; I ought to have had the right feeling and manliness to perform to the best of my power those lessons which it was the master’s duty to set me, and then I might with a clear conscience have indulged freely in my own peculiar tastes. As it was, when the Christmas holidays arrived, I was sent home with a letter from the master containing severe complaints of my inattention and negligence of my duties, while my brothers were complimented on the progress they had made in their studies. The master told me he should write, but our father received us all in the same affectionate way; and as he said nothing on the matter, I hoped that he was not going to take notice of it.

The first joyous days of getting home had passed over, and New-Year’s Day come and gone, before he broached the subject. From his love and kind heart, he would not before mar my boyish happiness. He then, summoning me into his study, spoke seriously to me about my past conduct. I frankly owned my fault, and confessed to him the true cause of my idleness. From his answer I found, to my very great satisfaction, that Captain Frankland had already talked to him about my wish to go to sea, and had expressed his readiness to take me.

“I cannot, however, allow you, my dear Harry, to leave school under the present circumstances,” said my father. “You must learn to obey your superiors, and to command yourself, before you will be fit to go into the world. Whatever course of life you pursue, you will have many things to do which you will dislike, or in which you may from inclination take no interest; but this will afford you but a poor excuse for not doing your duty. What do you think the captain of a ship would say to an officer who had not obeyed his orders, should the latter remark to him, ‘Really, sir, I felt so little interest in the matter, or I disliked it so very much, that I could not bring myself to perform the work?’ Yet this is what you have been doing, my boy. I will say no more on the subject. You will go back to school at the end of the holidays; and if I find that, from a sense of duty, you are attending, to the best of your power, to the studies your master may select for you, I will take your wishes into my very earnest consideration, and see how I can best carry them out for your advantage.”

I felt how just, and kind, and considerate my father was, and I resolved to the utmost to follow his advice. I shall never forget those Christmas holidays. They were very, very happy ones. Our eldest brother Jack, who was at college, was a very clever fellow, and put us up to all sorts of fun. In doors and out of doors there was nothing he did not think of. He never bullied, and wasn’t a bit spoiled. He was going to study at the bar, that he might better look after the family property. James, the next, was the quiet one; he was preparing for the Church. Then came our third sister, Mary. Julia and Isabella were older than any of us. Mary was my favourite. There was nothing she wouldn’t do for me—or, for that matter, for any of us. She did not like baiting our hooks when we were fishing, but still she did it when we asked her; and I do really believe that the worms didn’t feel half the pain they otherwise would when handled by her fingers. She’d go out with us rat-catching and badger-hunting, and yet, to see her in the drawing-room, there wasn’t a sweeter, softer, more feminine girl in the county. When we were at school, she wrote us twice as many letters as anybody else, and told us how the pony and the dogs were getting on; and how old Martin had found a wasp’s nest, which he was keeping for us to blow up—and all that sort of thing. Willie and Georgie were at school with me, and Herbert was going the next half, and after him were two more girls, so that Mary had no companions of her own age, and that made her, I suppose, stick so much more to us than the older ones did, who were now young ladies—old enough to go to balls, and to talk when any gentlemen called.

I cannot stop to describe our amusements. I went to school with a more hopeful, manly spirit than I ever did before, and to the astonishment of Dr Summers, set to with a will at everything he gave me to do, and before long was nearly up at the head of my class. I wished to please my father, and to follow his advice, that I am sure of; but I confess that I was powerfully influenced by another motive. From what he had said, I saw that this was the surest way of obtaining the accomplishment of my wishes.

Hoops and driving had gone out, and cricket and marbles were in, and the days were getting long and warm, when I received a letter from Mary, saying that Captain Frankland had come home, and had written to our father, but she did not know what had passed between them. I always told Mary all I thought and wished; and though she cried very much at the thoughts of my going away, yet she promised to help me as best she could. How she was to help, I did not exactly know. I tried to console her by promising to bring her back parrots without end from Africa, and shawls from India, and fans and carved ivory bones from China, and poisoned arrows, and darts, and tomahawks, and all sorts of dreadful weapons, from America and the islands of the Pacific. Indeed, had I fulfilled my promises to the letter, I could pretty well have loaded a ship with my intended gifts. My father said nothing, and we all went home together at the usual time. At the end of this half, a very complimentary letter had preceded me.

“I am glad to hear that Dr Summers is pleased with you, my dear boy,” said my father, and I thought his countenance wore a graver expression than usual. “Tell me, are your wishes the same as when you last left home?”

I replied that I was as anxious as ever to go to sea.

“I will not, then, thwart your inclination, Harry,” he answered. “Your mother and I would rather you had selected a profession which would have kept you nearer to us. But you have chosen a fine line of life, and may Heaven protect you in your career! I should have been glad, for some reasons, to have had the power of sending you into the Royal Navy; but I have no interest to get you in, and still less any to advance you in it. The merchant-service should not be looked on as less noble and less creditable a profession. It is one of the chief means by which England’s greatness and prosperity is maintained. In it your progress and success will depend almost entirely on your own exertions. You must also so conduct yourself that you may sustain to the utmost the credit of the service, and, I doubt not, you will have no cause to regret entering it. I might have wished to keep you longer at home, but I am unwilling to miss the opportunity of sending you to sea under charge of a commander of the high character and attainments possessed by Captain Frankland. He, in the kindest way, tells me that he is ready to take you; and he also informs me that a relative of mine is one of the officers appointed to his ship, Silas Brand by name. You have heard as speak of my good Cousin Martha, Mrs Brand; Silas is her only son. He was a steady, good lad when I last heard of him before he went to sea, and I daresay that you will find him a firm friend. At all events, I am sure, from Captain Frankland’s remarks, that he will prove a profitable one. He tells me also that his proposed voyage will be one of very great interest; that the owners of the ship have a variety of objects in view; so that he expects to visit a number of interesting places during the voyage, which is, in fact, to be completely round the world.”

“Round the World!” I exclaimed. “How delightful! And am I actually going to sail all round the world in my first voyage? Well, I did not expect anything so good as that. Isn’t it a first-rate chance, papa?”

“It may be very long before you return, my boy,” replied my father. “I trust, however, that you will proportionately profit by the voyage. Captain Frankland says, that he hopes to make you something of a seaman before you return. You will, I trust, make the best use of his instructions.”

I promised that I would, and sincerely intended to keep my promise. So it was finally settled that I was to go to sea, and few lads were ever sent afloat under better auspices than I enjoyed. I cannot fully describe the agitating sensations which passed through my bosom when I began to reflect on the approaching consummation of my wishes. While my heart beat with anticipated pleasure at the strange sights I was to behold, I could not but contemplate with sorrow the thoughts of leaving so many dear ones behind. Not that I for a moment hesitated what I would do, but the sharp edge of the enjoyment I might have felt was entirely blunted. Still, I went about talking with a keen relish of all I was to see, and what I was to do, while the preparations for my outfit were in progress; and I not a little excited the envy of my younger brothers, and of some of the boys near us, when they heard that I was starting on a voyage round the world.

At last the chest was packed, and lashed on behind the post-chaise. A few minutes more, and the old home which knew me would know me no more for many a long day. Can I describe that parting? Still, all bore up heroically. I did my best not to give way, but there was a hot, choking sensation in my throat, as if a Thug from India had got his fatal noose tight round my jugular vein; and a pulling away at the heart, as if the fangs of a stout double tooth were firmly clenched in it, and a strong-fisted dentist was hauling it out. My father and Jack were going with me to see me on board. I believe Jack envied me, and wished that he was going too, instead of having to pore over dusty parchments. My mother folded me in her arms, and kept me there. That was the worst. Still, I could not bear to break away.

“Come, Harry,” said my father, “we shall miss the train.” He took me gently by the shoulder, and guided me into the carriage. I took a last kiss from Mary’s dear lips as I passed her. “I shall be back to-morrow evening, I hope,” said he, following me.

“I say, Harry, don’t forget the bows and arrows you are to bring me from the Tonga Islands!” sung out Willie.

“Or the hunting-panther from South America!” cried Georgie.

“Or the parrots from Africa!” exclaimed Mary through her tears.

“Or the love-birds from India!” said Julia.

“Or my ivory fan from China, young sailor boy!” said Isabella.

“Don’t forget the journal you are to keep, or the subjects I asked you to note for me!” exclaimed the studious James.

Thus, amid various shouts and exclamations of a similar character, the moment Jack mounted on the box we drove off towards the nearest station on the railway which was to convey us to Liverpool. My father said nothing for some time, and I felt that I could not utter a word without allowing my feelings to get the better of me. However, by the time we reached the station, I had much recovered my spirits; and when once we were in the railway, Jack had so much to talk about, and cut so many jokes, that I became very happy, as he did not leave me a moment to think about the dear home I had left. I have often since thought, when I have seen people grumbling at home, or finding fault or quarrelling with their brothers and sisters or parents, let them go away and get knocked and kicked about the world, and they will have good reason to value their own quiet home as they ought.

I thought Liverpool a very fine city, with its large public buildings, and its broad streets, and its churches, and its Sailors’ Home, which I visited, where sailors have a large smoking-hall, and dining-rooms, and a lecture-room, and a chapel, and where some hundreds may each have a little separate cabin to himself. I wish every port in the world, much frequented by shipping, had a place of a similar character. Most of all, I was struck with the docks, crowded with ships of great size, and, indeed, craft of every description and nation; as also with its wide quays and wharfs, and floating landing-stages, and steamers dashing in and out, and running up and down the river in such a hurry, that they looked as if they were conscious that they had to struggle for their existence among the struggling human multitude of the place. We inquired for the Triton.

“There she is, with the blue Peter flying at the fore! She sails to-night, don’t she, Tom?” said a waterman whom we addressed. “Do you want a boat, gintlemen?”

My father said, “Yes;” and agreed with the man as to his fare.

We stepped into his boat, and away we pulled towards my future home—the good ship Triton. I had never seen a ship before, it must be remembered. I had looked at pictures of them, so I was acquainted with their shape; but I had formed no adequate idea of the size of a large ship; and as the boat lay alongside of the Triton, and I looked up and saw one of the officers standing at the gangway to receive us, it appeared something like scaling the walls of a castle to climb up to the deck. What should I have thought had the Triton been a hundred and twenty gun-ship, instead of a merchantman of 500 tons, for such was her size! However, I then thought her a magnificent ship; she was indeed a very fine one for her size. Side ropes being rigged, we soon gained her deck. The captain was still on shore, but my father at once made out Silas Brand. He was a shortish, rather thick-set, fair man, with a roundish face and a somewhat florid complexion. He had light hair, with largish whiskers, and he shaved his chin in harbour. I had to look at him frequently, and to talk to him more than once, before I discovered that his countenance showed much firmness and decision, and that his smile betokened more than a good-natured, easy disposition. My father had a good deal of talk with him, while Jack and I went round to see the ship. In the course of our peregrinations, we entered what I found was the captain’s cabin. A lad of about my own age was sitting at a table, with a book and slate before him. He turned round when the door opened, and eyed me narrowly before he got up from his chair. Then, apparently recollecting himself, he advanced towards us.

“Are you the new youngster who is to sail with us?” said he, putting out his hand. “My name is Gerard Frankland, though it is seldom people take the trouble of calling me more than Jerry. My father told me to expect you. I’m to look after you, and see you don’t get into mischief, I suppose. I’ll be very strict with you, mind that!”

Amused with his free and easy way, I told him that he was not mistaken as to my identity.

“That’s all right then,” he answered. “This gentleman is your brother. Take a seat, sir, and make yourself at home. You’ll have something? When my father is on shore, I reign here supreme, though on deck, to be sure, I can’t boast much of my authority. Steward, bring glasses, and biscuits, and anything else! You’re not going with us, sir? I wish you were. We’ll have rare fun before we come back, I’ll warrant.”

“No,” answered Jack, laughing, and highly diverted with Master Jerry’s volubility and perfect self-possession. “I should much like to take the trip though. However, my brother Harry will, I hope, on your return, give us a full account of all you see and do.”

“He’ll have plenty to tell then of what we do, and not a little of what we see,” answered Jerry, with a sort of a half wink at me, which was as much as to say, “We’ll be up to all sorts of things.” He added aloud, “My father is not the man to let the grass grow under the ship’s bottom; but here come the glasses! What will you have—hot or cold?”

“Thank you,” said Jack; “our father is here, and we must not stop. We came to see Harry on board, and have soon to return on shore.” While he was speaking, our father appeared at the door, accompanied by Silas Brand.

Gerard’s whole manner changed the moment he saw them. He got up to receive my father with perfect politeness; and, instead of exhibiting the forward, flippant manner with which he had treated us, he turned at once into a steady-looking, somewhat demure boy. My father, after addressing a few kind words to him, and telling him that he was his father’s oldest friend, signed to me that he wished to speak to me alone. He took me into Silas Brand’s cabin, and kneeling down, offered up a few prayers, full of deep, deep love, for my preservation from all earthly dangers, and for my acceptance as a forgiven sinner at the day of judgment.

“Look straight on beyond this transient world in all you think, or try, or do. Remember, delightful as this existence may appear, and undoubtedly is to those who know how to employ it properly, it is but a passage which leads to eternity. May Heaven guide you, my boy!” He took me in his arms, and then I knew how his fond, tender heart felt the parting. He burst into tears: he was not long in recovering himself.

Captain Frankland came on board. Last farewells were said. My dear father and Jack went down the ship’s side. The pilot remarked that the tide would suit. The anchor was hove up. A steamer took us in tow; then, after pulling ahead of us for a couple of hours or more, she cast off. All sail was set, and free of the Mersey’s mouth, away we glided on our voyage Round the World.

Chapter Two.

The voyage commenced.

The Triton was a well-found, well-officered, and well-manned ship. Still, on first getting to sea, there appeared to be a considerable amount of disorder, and the crew were incessantly employed in stowing away the last stores which had come on board, and in getting everything into its right place. This gave me a feeling that I was not in my right place, for no one had a moment to attend to me, and to tell me what to do; and had it not been for Gerard, I should have felt not a little miserable. He was as active as any one, and seemed to be thoroughly up to his duty. He did, however, find time to speak to me.

“I’ll tell you what to do, Harry,” said he; “just keep out of the way, and look on. You’ll learn more in that manner just now than in any other. You’ll have plenty of time to get up your seamanship by-and-by.”

I followed his advice to great advantage. The first manoeuvre I saw performed on board was when, having got clear of all the shoals and dangers at the mouth of the Mersey, we shortened sail to allow the pilot to enter his boat, and the last person we were to see for many a day connected with home took his departure. He shook hands with the captain and mates, and wished us a good voyage and speedy return. I watched the boat as it proceeded towards the pilot-cutter with a curious feeling of interest. I was aroused by Gerard, who asked me why I was so sentimental. He saw nothing in a pilot-boat leaving the ship. The last I saw of our native land were the lofty cliffs of Wales. I came on deck early in the morning; and, as I looked out aft, they appeared receding fast on the larboard-quarter, across the bright blue sea. Turning round, my somewhat bewildered glance next wandered upwards, and there I beheld, with unrestrained admiration, the wide spread of white canvas which hung extended on the yards, high, high up in the blue sky, like a vast mass of snowy cloud. It looked to me as if there was enough sail to fly away with the whole ship and her cargo; for, the breeze being light and fair, we had all our courses, and topsails, and topgallant-sails, and royals set with studding-sails also on either side, almost sweeping the sparkling waters which danced off from the Triton’s sharp bows as she clove her stately yet rapid way through the ocean. Captain Frankland was anxious to take every advantage of the favourable wind, that we might get a good distance from the land, and thus not run the chance of being driven back again, and be compelled, as is often the case with outward-bound ships, to take shelter in that magnificent harbour—Milford Haven, or in the still more lovely one of Queenstown, on the Irish coast. Away we flew, every day going faster and faster as the breeze freshened.

“Not a brace, nor a tack, nor a sheet did we slack” on board of the gallant Triton for a whole week; and then it fell calm, and we lay washing our sides up to the scuppers in the pure waters of the Atlantic. During this time everything was got to rights, and I began to find my way about every part of the ship, and to learn the names of the spars, and ropes, and sails. Gerard very soon dared me to go aloft; of course I was nothing loath.

“Follow me, then, youngster!” said he; and with a wicked look, up he went the main rigging. I ascended readily enough, intending to go through the lubbers’ hole, as the opening in the top is called through which the lower shrouds lead. This way is quite allowable for a landsman; but Jerry, having no fear of my breaking my neck before his eyes, led the way by the futtock-shroud; and, as he quickly stood up in the top, I saw his face grinning over me while I hung with my back over the ocean, very doubtful whether I could climb round so as to get hold of the topmast-shrouds.

“Don’t let your feet go till you have got a firm grip of this rope here,” said he, touching the shroud. I clutched hold of it: then up I slipped my other hand, and, drawing up my knees, soon had them on the combing of the top, and found myself standing alongside my companion. I should have liked to have stopped to take breath and look about me; but, before I could utter a word, he was off again, up the topmast-rigging, with the agility of a monkey, and laughingly sung out to me to join him on the cross-trees. I thought he would surely rest there, but away he was again, nor did he stop till he had got hold of the main-truck; and, as he clung on with his chin over it, he took off his cap and waved it round his head. My blood was warmed with the exercise and the excitement, and I was close after him. The moment he was down I took his place, and did the same thing; but I had to be quick in following him, not to miss the way he was leading. Down he slid by the main-topmast-stay, and in an instant more he was climbing the fore-topmast rigging. He waited for me, however, and waved me on. I did not remark that two seamen, the oldest hands on board, were at the same time deliberately mounting the fore-shrouds. Just as I reached the fore-topmast cross-trees, they were up to me.

“You han’t paid your footing up here, young master,” said one, old Ben Yool by name. He spoke in a gruff voice, as if he had not a soft particle in his whole composition.

“You know what that means, master?” added the other, Charlie Cockle, as he was called, imitating him.

“I don’t know what you want, but I know that you are two to one, which isn’t fair, at all events; and, do you see, I am not accustomed to give in to threats,” said I, and endeavoured to climb away from them, not knowing exactly where I was going.

The midge caught in a web might as well attempt to escape from a hungry spider. They caught me in a moment; and, without further ceremony, stretching out my arms and legs, lashed them to the topmast-rigging, making what is called a spread eagle of me. It was very humiliating, though my position was thus exalted, and very unromantic; and the rogue Jerry aggravated my feelings by pretending to pity me, though I guessed even then that he had arranged the plan beforehand with Yool and Cockle thus to entrap me. The seamen had descended towards the deck, leaving me bound in this ignominious manner. Jerry came and placed himself in the rigging opposite to me.

“It must be very unpleasant!” quoth he. “I wonder what they would say if I was to let you loose?”

“I wish you would,” I answered. “It’s a great shame, and I don’t like it.”

“But I dare not,” he replied, putting on a pretended serious face, though he could not hide the twinkle of his laughing eyes; “they are such precious fierce fellows. But don’t you think that you might buy yourself off? I’ll see if I can arrange the matter with them.”

I saw that there would be no use contending against my tormentor, and I was more hurt than I choose to acknowledge; so I wisely agreed to pay any moderate sum to be released. The arrangement was soon made; and Yool and Cockle, having unlashed my limbs, begged my pardon, and complimented me on the daring and agility I had displayed on this my first climb aloft.

This adventure, as I took the treatment I received good humouredly, made me capital friends with all the seamen, and I found that there were not kinder-hearted or better men on board than Yool and Cockle. I observed that Jerry took the opportunity when his father was below to play off the tricks imagined by his fertile brain, though he was sometimes discovered and reprimanded; but he put on so penitent an expression, and had such comical excuses to offer, that Captain Frankland saw that it would be worse than useless to punish him. Indeed, punishment would scarcely have corrected such faults as he had. Gerard, from being small, and having delicate features, though they were full of rich humour, looked younger than I did; but he was in reality older, and had much more experience of the world. His constitution was considered delicate, which was the reason his father took him to sea at first; but now he liked the life so much, he told me, that he had resolved to follow it as a profession. We both of us slept in a cabin which we had to ourselves, near the captain’s. Gerard was learning navigation; and Captain Frankland told me that I must study hard to catch him up, so that we might work together. He superintended our studies; but Silas Brand was our chief master, and somehow or other, in his quiet way, he managed to impart a considerable amount of information in a pleasant and rapid manner. It appeared to me that he always said the right thing at the right time, so as to impress it on the memory. Our first officer, John Renshaw, was a very worthy man, but totally unlike my Cousin Silas. He was tall and thin, and had a long weather-beaten, rather melancholy-looking face. Not that he was melancholy; the form of his features made him look so. It is better, however, to look melancholy than to have facetious features, which always appear to be on a broad grin. A strong contrast to both of them was found in our third officer, Samuel Melgrove. He was a man with strongly-marked, rather coarse features, with red hair and complexion. One might have expected to hear only the roughest tones come out of such a mouth as he possessed; but, instead, he spoke in a soft, somewhat mincing manner, and prided himself on his gentlemanly style and volubility. He could, however, speak loud and rough enough in case of necessity. If called on suddenly to shorten sail, no one could make himself better heard. The mates on board a merchantman have the same sort of duty as the lieutenants of a man-of-war, with the addition of having to attend to the stowing of the cargo and stores. We had also a surgeon, who was a good naturalist and a very scientific man—Mr David McRitchie. He evidently at first looked with very grave suspicion on Gerard and me, as if we were only waiting our opportunity to play him some trick; and when he left his cabin he always locked the door, lest we should get in and do some mischief; but such an idea was, I must say, very far from my thoughts, and even Gerard respected him too much to wish to annoy him. How to convince him of this seemed a difficulty. Gerard undertook to assure him.

“Mr McRitchie,” said he one day abruptly to him, “I daresay that you think me a young jackanapes, whose only thought is how he can do most harm in the world. Now, sir, you are mistaken; all I want is that you will impart some of your knowledge to Harry and me; but, understand, whether you do that or not, Harry and I will make it a point of honour not to do you any injury by word, look, or deed.”

“Oh, I never— Well, well, you are good boys, and I perfectly trust you,” stuttered out the doctor, completely taken by surprise. “I shall be glad, too, to give you all the information in my power; and I hope, in the course of the voyage, we may have many interesting subjects to see and talk about.” I was sure that Mr McRitchie would faithfully keep his word.

We had three other somewhat important personages on board who were characters in their way—Richard Fleming the boatswain, James Pincott the carpenter, and Thomas Veal the captain’s steward. They each had their peculiarities; but I will not stop now to describe them. We had twenty men forward, all picked hands; for, with the long voyage we contemplated, and the service we were on, it was necessary to be strongly manned. I must not omit a description of the Triton herself. She had a raised poop, beneath which were situated the chief cabins, and a forecastle, under which the crew lived in two compartments, one on either side of it. There was also a caboose, or galley, with a great cooking-range, and, indeed, every convenience the men could desire. We carried eight guns—9-pounders—for we were going into seas where it would be necessary to be well-armed, and constantly on our guard against treachery; and we were also amply supplied with boats, which, I may remark, were always kept in good order, and ready for instant use. I was surprised one day during a calm, before we had been long at sea, to hear the order given to lower boats when there was no ship in sight, and apparently no reason for it. So were those of the crew who had not before sailed with Captain Frankland. They, however, flew to obey the order, and, in a short time, three boats were manned and in the water. They were then hoisted in again, and stowed.

“Very well,” said the captain, holding his watch in his hand. “Smartly done, my lads; but another time, I think, we may do it still quicker.”

Some of the men, of course, grumbled, as I have found out that some people will grumble when any new system is introduced, the object of which they do not understand. The loudest grumbler at anything new introduced on board was old Fleming the boatswain. He called himself a Conservative, or, rather, a Tory, and strongly opposed all change.

“None of your newfangled notions for me,” he used to observe; “I like things as they were. Do you think our fathers would have all along been satisfied with them if they hadn’t been good? I look upon it as disrespectful to their memory to wish to have them changed, as if we thought ourselves so much wiser and better than they were.”

Gerard and I were fond of going forward to the forecastle, where, in fine weather, in an evening, he always took his seat with his pipe in his mouth.

“By the same rule it was wrong to introduce the compass or the steam-engine; former generations had done very well without them; yet how should we, on a dark night, have managed to steer across the ocean as we do, or how could people manage to get about the world as rapidly as they find necessary for their business or pleasure?”

Gerard thought that this remark would be a poser for the boatswain; but old Fleming was not so easily defeated.

“As to the matter of the compass, do you see, that’s what I call an exception to the general rule,” he answered, with a serious look. “But as for the railways and steam-engines, and all those sort of things afloat or ashore, to my mind the world would be altogether much better without them. It’s necessary for sailors to go about, that’s granted; but the rest of the world would be very much better staying at home and minding their own business. What I preach I practise; and when I leaves home I says to my missus, says I, ‘Now mind, Molly, don’t you be going gadding about till I comes back to look after you;’ and she’d no more think of going outside the street-door, except when she goes to church or a-marketing, than she’d try to fly, and that would be no easy matter for her, seeing that she weighs thirteen stone at least.”

Such is a specimen of old Fleming’s style of conversation. Gerard and I used to be much amused while listening to him, though we did not fail to make the most of his remarks while repeating them to the mates. James Pincott the carpenter, on the contrary, was a great reformer. No invention was too new to suit his taste. Whenever he heard of any discovery, he could not be contented till he saw it introduced. We often tried to get the two together, and very soon managed to throw an apple of discord between them. Pincott occupied much of his thoughts about a flying-machine, which no failure had taught him to believe could not be made to work.

“I’ll tell you what, mate, there’s just this difference between you and me in this matter,” I heard Fleming remark; “you says a flying-machine can be made; so do I. You may make fifty flying-machines, or a hundred, or five hundred for that matter, all different, and with all sorts of wheels, and cogs, and what not, which nobody can understand; but when they are made, what I have to ask you, mate, is, will they fly? It’s there you and I differ.”

Having thus delivered himself, Fleming drew himself up with a triumphant look at his adversary. Now, Pincott was a very quiet man with all his eccentricities, so he merely answered—

“It will be enough for me if one can be made to fly. That’s all I argue for.”

“It never has been done yet, and, to my mind, never will,” answered Fleming, sturdily; “though I have heard of a man who made his son put on a pair of wings which he had fabricated, and shoved him off the top of a high wall, and when the lad, as was to be expected, reached the ground, he broke his leg.”

This was a story told of Pincott, who, however, on all occasions stoutly denied that he was the culprit. Another story against Pincott was, that when first iron vessels were introduced, he declared that it was impossible they could swim. “No, no,” it was said he said, “birds can fly, so I don’t see why men shouldn’t; but iron always has sunk, and, to my mind, it always will sink.” Fleming, who told the story, used to wind up with the remark, “But then you see, mate, there’s no rule without an exception.” As these disputes never led to any disagreeable consequences, they served to beguile away many a weary hour at sea. But I have said enough to describe the character of our inferior officers. They were both thoroughly good seamen and steady men.

We had hitherto had little else than sunshine and light winds, so that my introduction to a sea life was most favourable. Gloriously rose the sun over the blue sparkling waters, when, on coming on deck, I found the ship steering south-west, and standing in for the Bay of Funchal in the lofty island of Madeira. On one side of us were the Desertas—rocks which Gerard told me gravely were so-called because they had once belonged to the mainland, and were now making the best of their way off to Africa; but the doctor differed with him, and observed that they obtained their name from being desert or barren rocks, especially compared with the fertile island near which they are placed. Lovely as is the interior of our dear old country, few parts of its shores are attractive; and as this was the first land we had made after leaving home, it seemed doubly beautiful. It appeared, as it rose before us, like one vast mountain extending from east to west, with a bay in the centre, and covered in the richest profusion with beautiful trees of many different sorts, among which, I afterwards found, are the cedar, chestnut, orange, lemon, fig, citron, the vine, the olive, the mulberry, banana, and pomegranate, while generous nature sprinkles with no lavish hand the myrtle, the geranium, the rose, and the violet in every open space. The geranium especially grows in vast quantities; its scent is most powerful, and the honey which we got in the island was strongly flavoured with it. But I forgot; we are not on shore yet. How bright, and beautiful, and rich, and fertile, and romantic everything looked! What charming white-washed cottages! What lovely villas, surrounded by gardens filled with flowers of every hue! What a pretty town stretching away round the shores of the bay! How clean, and neat, and comfortable all the dwellings! and how grand the churches and public buildings. Gerard and I agreed that we should like to come back there some day after we had done our wanderings, and take up our abode for the rest of our days.

“Stay till you have been on shore and seen the inside as well as the outside of things,” observed Cousin Silas, who had overheard us. We thought he was in what we used to call one of his grumpy humours, and did not heed him. We sailed on, and dropped our anchor opposite to the city of Funchal. A health-boat came off, but as no one was sick on board, the people in her did not trouble us much. When she went away, we were surrounded with other boats pulled by swarthy, muscular, little men with gay caps and sashes, and white shirt sleeves, who bawled, and hallooed, and jabbered, in the vain hope of making us comprehend what they said. We shouted and hallooed in return, as if each party were deaf; and it was not till after a considerable expenditure of breath, that we discovered that we did not understand a word of each other’s language; so at last we took to making signs, by which means we got on much better. There was no great difficulty in this, as they had an abundance of fruit to sell, which we were equally anxious to buy.

The captain had, I found, touched here chiefly to get a supply of fruit, vegetables, fresh meat, and water, as he knew that the health of a crew is maintained without difficulty when there is an abundance of these necessaries. He had also another reason for coming here. It was to obtain information, which the Portuguese authorities were able to supply, regarding certain places he proposed visiting. As, however, the whole plan of our proceedings was to be kept secret, I will not touch on that subject. Gerard and I were all anxiety to go on shore, so the captain gave us leave to accompany Mr Brand, with strict charges to him to keep us out of mischief. “Not an easy job!” muttered Silas, preparing to accompany us into a boat. For the first time in my life I stood on foreign soil, and very soon I was undeceived as to the cleanliness, and comfort, and beauty of the habitations; and many a house which looked so very picturesque at a distance was found, on a nearer inspection, to be a very dirty domicile. Still the views from them were beautiful. Nature has done everything; it is graceless man who is in fault that all is not in accordance with it. At the corner of one of the streets we saw a number of horses, and mules, and donkeys, standing together with their attendant drivers—arrieros.

“Wouldn’t you like a ride, Mr Brand?” exclaimed Gerard, looking towards them. He had not to look twice before the whole posse commitatus of men and boys rushed forward, and seizing us vi et armis, carried us off in triumph towards their sorry-looking beasts. Which party would have us seemed a question. Who ever heard of sailors who didn’t want to ride? Ride we must; but as there were thirty or more beasts, and only three of us, it was difficult to say which of them should have the honour of carrying us. The arrieros got one of Cousin Silas’s legs put on the back of a horse, and another on that of a mule, while a little wicked donkey began kicking and plunging directly under him. At last he sprang on to the back of the horse, and Gerard and I found ourselves somehow or other on the saddles of two mules, when their respective owners, catching hold of their long tails, and giving them a prong with their iron-pointed sticks, away we started from out of the crowd, who all hallooed and shouted after us, till we had shot some way up one of the steep rocky heights over which the bridle-paths of the island lead. “Arra burra—arra, arra, arra!” sung out the crowd. “Arra, arra, arra!” repeated our arrieros, goading the unfortunate animals with their sticks—“Arra, sish, sish!” It is hopeless to imitate the sounds emitted by our drivers. Up we shot like pellets from popguns, through the narrow rock-strewn gorges which are called roads. Up, up, up the animals scrambled. They seemed to enjoy the fun, or, perhaps, wiser than men, they felt a pleasure in performing their daily duty. We, too, enjoyed the magnificent views we got over vineyards, and fields, and orange-groves, and olive-plantations, with often deep precipices below us, and the blue sparkling sea in the distance. We passed several buildings, once convents and nunneries; but when the constitutional government was established in Portugal, the monks were turned out of their habitations to gain an honest livelihood as best they could, though the nuns were in some instances allowed to remain in their abodes, on condition of their admitting no fresh novices. Thus, by this time the greater number of professed nuns are old women. They employ themselves in fabricating artificial flowers of shells and feathers, baskets and ornaments of various sorts, as well as in making dried fruits and sweetmeats. As Cousin Silas observed, it might have appeared hard to turn the poor monks adrift in the world; but as ill weeds grow apace, it was necessary to eradicate them, lest a fresh crop should spring up where they had for so long taken root.

We dined with an English merchant, an old friend of Captain Frankland’s, who treated us most sumptuously. He told us of a curious disease which had lately attacked the vines, and which he feared would ultimately destroy them. The grapes growing on the diseased vines, instead of ripening, wither up and rot. He said that he had urged the inhabitants of the island not to depend solely on their vines, but to endeavour to produce other articles for which their soil and climate was especially suited. Among other things he introduced the mulberry-tree, by the cultivation of which large numbers of the silk-worm might be bred, and silk in great quantities exported. Under the present system, when the vines fail, as the people do not grow sufficient corn in the island for their support, they are at once reduced to a state of famine. But I must not prolong my description of Madeira. It is a very lovely island, and has a very delicious climate, and produces all sorts of nice fruits; and though the inhabitants have rather a fancy for being dirty, the English residents set them a better example, and have introduced comforts and conveniences which make the country a very pleasant abode. The island is about thirty-seven miles in length by eleven in breadth, and contains perhaps 60,000 inhabitants.

Again sail was made on the ship, and away we glided over the smooth ocean with a north-easterly breeze, passing within two miles of the island of Palma, one of the Canaries, or Fortunate Islands, which belong to Spain. The appearance, as we eyed it from the ship, was most attractive; but Silas, who had been on shore there, told us that through the misgovernment of the upper classes, and the slothfulness of the lower, the land does not produce nearly what it might be made to do, while the people remain in a poor and backward condition. Before sunset the same day we saw the island of Ferro, the most western of the group. Before the discovery of America, this was looked on as the extreme western limits of the habitable world, and till very lately some navigators calculated their first meridian from thence. There are thirteen islands in the group, which produce corn, silk, tobacco, sugar, and the wine which was so long known under their name. We caught about here the regular north-east trade-wind; away we went before it as steadily and majestically as a swan glides over his native lake. I hope every reader of my adventures will look at the map, and see whereabouts the places I mention are situated, or they will find some difficulty in clearly comprehending my descriptions.

We had, I thought, been a long time at sea without meeting with anything very amusing.

“I say, Jerry, when are we to fall in with all the wonderful adventures you told me of?” I asked one day, as we were walking the deck together.

“You would meet with plenty of wonders if you would but keep your eyes open to see them,” observed Cousin Silas, who overheard my observation. The reply, however, did not quite satisfy me; nothing like a gale or bad weather had occurred, and I began to suspect that we had already had a sample of the sort of life we were always to undergo at sea.

“Hillo!” exclaimed Jerry soon after this, “what has come over the air, I wonder? Why, we have got into a regular red fog. What has caused it, Mr Brand; can you tell me?”

“No, indeed, I cannot,” answered Silas. “I’ve met with it more than once. It is a very curious phenomenon.”

“They do say it comes off from the coast of Africa,” remarked Ben Yool, who was at the wheel, and from his age privileged to speak on such a matter. “It’s full of red sand, and I’ve seen it covering the decks in some parts as if a man had been scraping a red holystone over them.”

We were still discussing the subject, when Captain Frankland came on deck. He listened for some time to what we were saying.

“I am glad to hear you discuss the subject, my lads,” he remarked in a kind voice. “Though you are wrong in your conjectures, if you will attend, I will try and explain what I know about the matter. It is a very important one, for by means of this dust—for dust it is—which fills the air, philosophers have been able to determine in part the difficult problem of the track of the winds in their circuits. How is this? you will say. Dust coming from one place surely cannot be distinguishable from dust coming from another. To the ignorant man it is not, but to the man of science it is. There are certain minute animal productions called infusoria and organisms peculiar to each portion of the globe. The expression is, the habitat of such infusoria is such or such a place. These infusoria can only be distinguished by a most powerful microscope. Professor Ehrenberg, who has devoted his attention to the subject, has examined specimens of the dust which is now falling on our decks. He found it composed of dry infusoria, the forms of which are found not on an African desert, but in the south-east trade-wind regions of South America.”

“South America, father!” exclaimed Jerry, pointing with his hand to the south-west. “How can those clouds of red dust come all the way out here in the teeth of the north-east trade-wind?”

“What becomes of the north-east trade-wind when it reaches the end of its journey, and where is that end think you, my boy?” asked Captain Frankland. Jerry looked puzzled, and I had not a notion to give forth on the subject. “I will try and explain the matter; but when you can obtain a work, written by Lieutenant Maury, of the American navy, you will comprehend the subject much better,” said Captain Frankland. “There are three calm regions or belts surrounding the globe—one under the equator, and one in each hemisphere, under the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, which you have heard spoken of as the horse latitudes. Between these two belts blow the north-east and south-east trade-winds, meeting at the equatorial belt. Now, when they get there, instead of causing a whirlwind, the excessive heat causes the particles of which they are composed to expand and rise, gradually producing a calm. After rising a certain height, they again commence moving round the globe. Which course they took it was difficult to say, till we find these clouds of red dust carried along in an upper region of the atmosphere from south-west to north-east; for not only are they found here, but up the Mediterranean and across Switzerland. They are raised into the atmosphere probably by whirlwinds which occur during the vernal equinox, which is the dry season, from the valley of the lower Orinoco. Thus, had a label been attached to each particle of which the wind is composed, to show whence it came, the problem could not have been more perfectly solved.”

While the captain was speaking, Mr McRitchie came on deck, and collected in sheets of paper a quantity of the red dust. “It will be prized by some of my scientific friends at home,” he observed; “and even the unscientific may value a substance which has travelled half round the globe high up in the atmosphere.”

“There is another substance, doctor, which travels farther, and is of much greater use to man; and yet how little he troubles his head to consider where it comes from,” remarked the captain.

“What do you mean, sir?” asked the doctor, a little puzzled I thought.

“Water,” answered Captain Frankland. “Remember those dense fogs, like wet blankets, which so continually rise in those calm regions to the south of us; they are caused by vapours rising from the sea, and leaving its salt behind. This vapour must go somewhere, and it certainly does not fall in any place near the region where it is drawn up. See the beautiful provision of Nature to supply with fertilising moisture the many districts of the earth! This damp vapour, of which we shall by-and-by have a specimen, rises into the upper regions of the air, and is there wafted steadily on till it reaches the northern portion of the globe. It is raised by the powerful rays of the sun during the southern summer, and with it a considerable amount of heat is carried off which remains latent. When it reaches the far colder atmosphere of the north, it is formed into clouds, and condensed, and then precipitated in rain. In the southern hemisphere there is, as you know, a larger proportion of sea than in that of the north; and thus it serves as a reservoir to supply those spots which would otherwise be arid deserts, with an abundant supply of the chief necessary of life. The whole of nature is full of similar beautiful arrangements for making the globe a convenient habitation for man, clearly to be perceived if men would but open their eyes to behold them.”

Chapter Three.

The wonders of the ocean.

We were about a day’s sail or so from the Cape de Verd Islands, when one day, as I was looking out, I saw on the starboard-bow what I was certain was a shoal of great extent covered with sea-weed. “Land on the starboard-bow!” I sung out, thinking there could be no mistake about the matter. I heard a loud laugh at my shoulder. Old Ben Yool stood there.

“Well, if that is not land, I do not know what is!” I replied. But still Ben only laughed at me. I was arguing the point, when the captain, who was on deck, called me aft. I found him with a chart, which he was showing to Gerard.

“You are not the first person, Harry, who has taken that collection of sea-weed for land,” he observed. “That is the Sargasso Sea. When the companions of Columbus sighted it, they thought that it marked the extreme limits of the navigable ocean. We are at the southern edge of it. Look at this chart; it extends in a triangular form between the groups of the Azores, Canaries, and Cape de Verds. It is caused by the Gulf Stream, which, circling round the Atlantic, sends off towards the centre all the sea-weed and drift-wood collected in its course. Throw some chips into that tub; now, set the water in motion with your hand. The current you have created sends off all the chips into the centre of the tub. You need never forget how this Sargasso Sea becomes covered with weed. But you will wish to know something about this wonderful Gulf Stream, which not only produces the effect I have described, but exerts a very powerful influence, on the climate of many countries, and on the navigation of the Atlantic, besides causing many other important results. It is, indeed, one of the most wonderful of all the phenomena of the ocean. Consider it as a mighty river of warm water flowing for three thousand miles with scarcely diminished volume, never dying, never overflowing, over a bottom and between banks of cold water. So little affinity have its waters with the common water of the ocean, and so different is their colour, that a distinct line can often be traced where they pass along. See where it takes its rise in the Gulf of Mexico, whence it is called the Gulf Stream. Now, mark its course, and note its effects. Remember, that not only is it warm itself, but it warms the air which passes over it. It likewise contains much more salt than the common sea-water. The salt gives it its peculiar deep indigo-like colour. It runs at the rate of between three and five miles an hour. It is roof-shaped—that is, higher in the centre than on either side. This is proved by placing a boat on either side of the centre, when it drifts off towards the edge nearest to which it is cast loose. Another peculiarity exists in connection with it. Water radiates heat far more slowly than does the earth. If, therefore, the Gulf Stream swept along the ground, it would speedily lose its heat. To prevent this, it is made to pass over a cushion of cold water, into which its heat does not readily pass. When, however, its waters wash any shores, they impart some of their heat to them, increasing the warmth of the climate, adding fertility to the soil, and making it a more agreeable abode for man. Now, look at the chart, and observe where the mighty current leaves its reputed source in the Gulf of Mexico. Mark it sweeping round the coast of Florida, and glancing off to the eastward near Cape Hatteras, in the United States, allowing a belt of cold water to wash the shores of that country during the winter months of the year. Watch it passing near the coast of Nova Scotia, and in the summer, not far from that of Newfoundland, where it has undoubtedly caused the formation of the well-known fishing-banks. This is the way they have been produced. When the summer sun releases the innumerable mighty icebergs which have been formed on the shores of the polar regions, they float away to the south, carried by a current which sets towards Newfoundland. They bear away with them vast quantities of rock, and stones, and sand. Meeting the hot water of the Gulf Stream, they quickly melt and deposit their burdens at the bottom, always about the same spot which you see marked as the Grand Bank. Now the stream, taking an easterly course, reaches the 40th degree of north latitude, when it begins to spread itself over the colder water of the ocean, washing the shores of Ireland; some going up towards Spitzbergen, surrounding the Shetland Isles, and other isles in the north; more rushing up the British Channel; and another quantity flowing into the Bay of Biscay, and away again towards the south—adding warmth to the whole of the indented shores of Europe, and at the same time supplying the deficiency of salt to the waters flowing out of the Baltic and the Polar basin.”

“Thank you, father,” exclaimed Gerard; “I now understand why, when last year we made the voyage to New York, we kept away so far to the northward. It was to avoid the Gulf Stream, which would have been setting against us. But I say, father, I want to know why the water takes it into its head to flow in that way. I suppose there is some cause for it?”

“Our beneficent Maker undoubtedly formed it for the benefit of his creatures,” returned the captain; “but, as I have often told you, he brings about his purposes by the laws or causes which he himself has established. There may be several causes in operation to form this ocean-stream, though up to this moment learned men have been unable to decide what they are. Now one theory is advanced, now another. The shape of the Gulf Stream may have something to do with it. It appears that it is higher than the rest of the surface, for it is more bulky. Water will always seek its level. It has thus a tendency to flow towards the colder and lower water of the poles, feeling at the same time the effect of the diurnal motion of the globe; while the water of the poles, to supply its place, flows towards the equator, subject to the same disturbing cause. Thus the water of the globe is set in motion. These being hot, tropical waters, remain on the surface, and a portion of them is forced into the Gulf of Mexico. Here, though they lose somewhat of their saltness from the fresh waters of the Mississippi and Orinoco, they gain more heat from these hot streams, and are still much Salter than the rest of the ocean. Perhaps the impetus may be given them by the pressure of the currents from the poles. The diurnal motion of the globe will account for the drift-wood and sea-weed being cast off on the east or left bank of the stream. There is another cause for this. From the stream being roof-shaped, any drift which its left portion took up would have to go up hill to get to the northward. Therefore, though trees and other produce of the West Indies are found on the shores of Europe, none are ever picked up on those of America. And this brings me to the point from which I set out—the cause of the Sargasso Sea, the centre, it may be called, of this wondrous and almost inexplicable Gulf Stream.”

“But, father, still you have not told us why the Gulf Stream flows in the direction it does,” said Gerard, who generally stuck to the point in an argument on which he wanted information.

“Men possessed of far more scientific knowledge than I can boast of, have been puzzled to reply to that question,” returned the captain. “The trade-winds, the diurnal motion of the earth, the expansion of water by heat, may all combine to force it along and direct its course; and yet there may be some still more potent cause at work unperceived by us, perhaps undiscoverable. One thing we know, that it was the will of the Almighty that so it should flow, for a great and beneficent object; and that, to effect it, he has employed some potent and sufficient agent, which, when he thinks fit, he will allow to be revealed to us by the light of that science which he has given as one of his best gifts to man. There are, as you perceive on the charts, other currents in the vast ocean, all set in movement for the sake of benefiting the inhabitants of the globe. While the warm Gulf Stream runs up to Spitzbergen, the Hudson’s Bay and Arctic currents bring cold water and icebergs towards the south; and a current from the North Atlantic carries its cooling waters round the arid shores of western Africa. There is the great equatorial current from east to west round the world, and numerous other currents in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, the influence of which we shall feel during our voyage; and by knowing where to search for them, and where to avoid them, we can generally make them serviceable to our object. What I would especially point out to you, my lads, is the beautiful adaptation of all the works of the Creator to the great object of the whole. The air and water are kept in motion for the benefit of man and all living beings. Order everywhere reigns supreme. Science shows us that storms are regulated by exact laws, and it is only through our ignorance and blindness that we cannot tell whence they come, and whither they go. What an admirable system of compensation exists throughout the universe! Heat, lost by radiation, is quickly restored; water, lifted up by evaporation, has its place supplied by colder currents; mighty rivers discharge their waters in vast quantities into the ocean, and from the far-off regions of the tropics the winds come loaded with dense vapours, which, precipitated at their sources with ample and regular measure, supply all their demands. I might produce numberless examples. As an instance, the whole volume of the waters of the Mississippi, rushing out at its mouth, find their way back again in an ever-constant circle to its sources among the far-off lakes of North America. The Gulf Stream fertilises the earth for the benefit of man, and it likewise carries food to regions frequented by the mighty whales. Frequently large shoals of sea-nettles, on which the black whale feeds, have been met with, borne onward towards its haunts in the north. The whale itself, it is believed, could not exist in the warm waters of the stream. Fish, also, are not generally found in it; and those which inhabit it are of a very inferior flavour. Instead, therefore, of wandering about the ocean, where they could not be procured by man, they are driven to the shallow waters near the coast, where they can easily be caught. It is a curious fact, that the warmer the water, the brighter are the colours of the fish which inhabit it; though, as food, they are generally of much less value. While the Gulf Stream largely benefits the globe, it is at the same time the proximate cause of shipwreck and disaster, from the storms which it creates, in consequence of the irregularity of its temperature, and that of the neighbouring regions, both in air and water. Perhaps nowhere is a more terrific sea found than when a heavy gale meets the Gulf Stream, when running at its maximum rate. Many a ship has gone down beneath its waters. However, I might go on all day telling you curious things about this same Gulf Stream. One thing more I will mention: people often complain of the dampness of England. The same cause which so favourably tempers the cold of our country, creates the dampness complained of. It is not that our soil is more humid, that marshes exist, or that the country is not well drained; but it is that the westerly and north-westerly breezes which prevail, come loaded with the warm vapours ascending from the tropic heated waters of the Gulf Stream.”

“Thank you, father, for all you have told us,” said Gerard; “I think I have learned a great deal I did not know before.”

I was certain that I had, and directly afterwards put down, as well as I could remember, all Captain Frankland had said. The next day we sighted Saint Vincent, one of the ten islands which form the Cape de Verd group, so-called from being off the Cape de Verds, on the coast of Africa. The islands belong to the Portuguese. They produce all sorts of tropical fruits and vegetables, so that ships often touch here to be supplied with them. A large number of the inhabitants are black, or of a very dark hue. Instead of standing directly for the Brazils, Captain Frankland shaped a course almost across the Atlantic for the coast of South America. He did this, he explained to Gerard and me, to get the wind, which generally blows off that coast when the north-east trade failed us; and to avoid the equatorial calms, in which, away from the land, vessels are often baffled for days together. I found, after I had been some time at sea, “That the longest way round is often the shortest way there,” as the saying is. In tropical latitudes, winds from different quarters blow with great regularity in different places at certain seasons of the year. The great object of a master is, to find where the wind is blowing which will be fair for him. The two most regular winds are the north-east and south-east trade-winds which blow from either side of the equator, and meet in a wide belt of calms found under it. There are currents in the air as well as in the ocean; and Silas told me that he has more than once passed ships at sea right before the wind—steering north, for instance, while his ship, with an equally fair breeze, has been standing to the south. Formerly, ships used to be steered as far south as they could get before the trade-winds; and then often found themselves baffled for days, if not weeks together, in the calm latitudes off the coast of Africa, when, if they had stood boldly across the ocean, as we were now doing, they would never have wanted a wind move or less fair. Thus it will be seen that in navigation there are currents in the sea and currents in the air to be considered, and that it requires a great deal of forethought, and knowledge, and experience, to take a ship in safety and with speed round the world. We were bowling along in grand style before the north-east trade-wind, when Gerard stopped his father in his morning walk on deck.

“I say, father, can you tell Harry and me all about this trade-wind, which we have got hold of it seems?” said he with a grave look, as if he wished to become very learned.

“Which has got hold of us rather, I should say, by the way it is carrying us along,” answered the captain, smiling. No one knew Jerry so well as he did, though he often pretended not to understand at what he was driving. “You ask a question to which it is rather difficult to reply in a brief way. Take a piece of paper; draw a circle on it; now, draw three parallel belts across it—one in the centre, and one on each side of the centre. Write on the centre belt, ‘Equatorial Calms;’ on the upper, ‘Calms of Cancer;’ on the lower, ‘Calms of Capricorn.’ The circle represents the globe; the ends of a line drawn at right angles to the belts where it reaches the circle, mark the poles. The globe moves from west to east. Now, suppose a mass of air sent off from the north pole towards the equator in a straight line, it not partaking of the diurnal motion of the earth would appear as if it came from the north-east. Another mass starting from the equator towards the pole in consequence of the impetus given it, would be going faster towards the east than the earth, and would, consequently, appear as if it came from the south-west. This actually takes place, but in the upper regions of the air. The same exchange takes place between the south pole and the equator. Now, let us see what becomes of these masses. That which started from the north pole meets in the air at about the parallel of 30 degrees; the mass which started from the equator meeting with equal force, they balance each other, and produce a calm and an accumulation of atmosphere pressing downward, and ejecting from below two surface-currents—one towards the equator, which are the north-east trade-winds; the other towards the pole, called the south-west passage-winds. This moving mass of air, which constitutes the north-east trade-wind, meets near the equator with another mass which has been moving on as the south-east trade—meeting with equal force, they form a calm; and then, warmed by the heat of the sun, they ascend, one-half streaming off high up towards the south-east—that is, counter to the surface-current—till it reaches the southern calm belt; another mass coming from the south-west, where it descends, and rushes as a north-west surface-wind towards the south pole. We have traced the mass which started from the north pole. Reaching the southern regions, it is whirled round till, at the pole itself, a perfect calm is produced, when it ascends and starts off as an upper current towards the equator; but meeting another current near the tropic of Capricorn, then descends, one-half flowing out at the surface, as I have before described, as the south-east trade, the other towards the south pole. This is the most beautiful and regular system of atmospheric circulation kept up around our globe. It has not been ascertained exactly why the masses I have spoken of take certain directions, but we know the directions they do take. The red dust we found off the Cape de Verds assists us in certain degrees. We know some of the agents—the diurnal motion of the earth, and the sun’s heating rays. There are certain counteracting or disturbing causes from which the surface-winds deviate from the courses I have described. Some lands are covered with forests, others with marshes, others with sand. All these may be disturbing causes—so are lofty mountains. From these causes, and the more powerful effect of the sun’s rays in one place than in another, hurricanes and typhoons occur, and the monsoons are made to blow—the harmattan on the west coast of Africa; the simoon, with its deadly breath, in Arabia; the oppressive sirocco in the Mediterranean. What I have said will explain that beautiful passage in Ecclesiastes, 1st chapter, 6th verse, which shows the exactness of the sacred writers whenever they do introduce scientific subjects: ‘The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.’ Who gave Solomon this information? I doubt if any of his sages possessed that scientific knowledge which has only been attained by philosophers of late years. Perhaps I may still more clearly explain to you the cause of the circulation of the atmosphere. I told you that there were two agents at work—diurnal motion, and the heat of the sun; but to these may be added the cold of the poles, which contracts the air. Suppose the globe at rest, and covered with one uniform stagnant mass of atmosphere; suddenly heat, cold, and the diurnal motion commence their operations. The air about the equator would expand, that about the poles contract. Thus two systems of winds would commence to blow—one above, from the equator towards the poles; and as thus a vacuum would be left below, a current would come from the poles to supply its place. The diurnal motion prevents these currents running in straight lines. That coming from the poles will appear to have easting in them, and those going towards the poles westing. Not only, however, is the level of the atmosphere changed by the heating rays of the sun, but its specific gravity. Thus the heated current moves more easily and rapidly than the colder; and the latter, consequently, turns back a portion of what was going towards the poles, and adjusts the equilibrium of the atmosphere. I have already shown you the great importance of the circulation of the air in the economy of nature; and how, among the many offices of the atmosphere, it distributes moisture over the surface of the earth, making the barren places fruitful, and tempering the climates of different latitudes, fitting them as the abode of civilised man. But I will not pursue the subject further just now. You must do that for yourselves. Try and remember what I have said, and think about it whenever you have an opportunity.” Jerry and I thanked the captain for what he had told us, and I, as before, at once dotted it down as well as I could in my note-book.

Crossing the Atlantic, we sighted a glittering white rock rising fifty feet out of the water. It was, I found, the Island of Saint Paul’s. It had a curious appearance, standing thus alone in the ocean 500 miles from the coast of America, and 350 from the Island of Fernando Noronha—the snowy pinnacle of a submarine mountain. We hove-to close to it, and a boat being lowered, Mr McRitchie, Mr Brand, Jerry, and I, went on shore. The whole rock is not three-quarters of a mile in circumference. Its white colour, we found, was produced by a thin coating of a substance formed by the washing off of the birds’ dung, collected there in a succession of ages. The rock was covered with birds—my old friends, the booby and the noddy, I had so often read about. They stared at us with a stupid look as we pulled up, not at all able to make us out, and in no way disposed to make way for us. Gerard and I were for knocking as many as we could on the head; but Cousin Silas would not allow us, observing that we did not want them for food, and that they had a far better right to the rock than we had. The booby, Mr McRitchie told us, is a species of gannet, and the noddy a species of tern. The first lays her eggs on the bare rock, but the latter constructs a nest with sea-weed. While the doctor was eagerly hunting about for specimens of natural history, we were amused by watching the proceedings of some of the few inhabitants of the rock. By the side of several of the noddies’ nests we saw a dead flying-fish, evidently deposited there by the male bird. Whenever we succeeded in driving away any one of the females, instantly a big crab, which seemed to have been watching his opportunity from the crevices of the rocks, would rush out, and with greedy claws carry off the prey. One fellow, still more hungry, ran away with one of the young birds. Another was going to make a similar attempt.

“I ought to stop that fellow, at all events!” said Jerry, giving Master Crab a stunning blow. We tied his claws, and presented him as a trophy to the doctor.

“A fine specimen of Graspus” cried our scientific friend, stowing him away in his wallet.

“A capital name!” said Jerry. “He seemed ready enough to grasp anything he could lay his claws on.”

The doctor said he could find neither a plant nor a lichen on the island, and only a few insects and spiders, besides the boobies and noddies. I ought to have mentioned that we did not fail to meet with the moist and oppressive weather found under the belt of calms under the equator. Frequently I felt as if I could scarcely breathe, and nearly everybody was in low spirits and ready to grumble. Jerry and I vowed that the air was abominable. Cousin Silas stopped us.

“Remember, lads,” said he, “what the captain was telling you. If it were not for them mists, how could the rivers of the north be supplied with their waters, and the fields of our own land be made fertile? Thank God rather that you are thus enabled to see more of the wonders of creation.”

I never forgot this remark of Cousin Silas. A delightful writer, now well-known, describing the subject, calls it “The Circle of Blessing.” (Mrs Alfred Gatty, in her “Parables from Nature.”)

Making sail, we soon lost sight of that white-topped rock. Soon afterward Gerard rushed down one morning at daybreak into our berth, and, rousing me up, told me I was wanted on deck. Half asleep, I jumped up, and slipping my legs into my trousers—for no other garment was required in that latitude—ran with him where he led me forward. I had scarcely got my eyes open when I found myself seized by two shaggy monsters; and hearing the sound of a conch shell, I looked up, and saw before me, as if he had just come over the bows of the ship, a strange-looking personage, with a glittering crown on his head, a huge red nose, long streaming hair, and white whiskers as big as two mops. In his hand he held a trident, and over his shoulders was worn a mantle covered with strange devices.

“Trite!—where’s Trite? Come along, Trite!” he exclaimed, in a gruff voice—which sounded not altogether unlike that of old Ben Yool’s—as he looked over the bows; and presently he handed up a lady of very ample dimensions, who certainly, except for a petticoat and a necklace of shells, I should not have suspected to have belonged to the fair sex.

“Oh, there you are, my lovie! We must be sharp about our work, for we have so many ships to board that we haven’t a moment to lose. Now, if there are any young shavers who hasn’t crossed the middle of my kingdom before, let them be brought up here in quarter less than no time, or I’ll do—I’ll do—I’ll do what you shall see.”

This was said in a terrifically gruff voice. Before I had time to look about me, the two monsters had dragged me forward before his marine majesty and his spouse; and one producing a huge cold tar brush, and the other a piece of rusty hoop, I found my face paid over with some most odorous lather. I cried out to Jerry, who I thought, as a friend, ought to help me; but he pretended to be in a dreadful fright, and when the monsters ran after him he managed to shove so violently against me that he sent me head first into a large tub of water which stood at the feet of Neptune. I was, however, immediately hauled out by the shaggy Tritons, and after a fresh application of lather, my face was scraped over with the piece of hoop.

“Douse him—douse the baby again!” shouted Neptune; and from the mode I was treated, I thought that I should have been nearly drowned, had not Mrs Neptune, or rather Amphitrite, interfered in a voice which was intended to be very affectionate, but which sounded as if the poor lady had a very sore throat, and begged that I might be allowed to return to my cradle to sleep out the remainder of my watch.

“Oh, good mother, your sex are always gentle and kind,” I answered, determining to jump with the humour of the thing, and to show that I had not lost my temper, although the ceremony I had gone through was far from pleasant. “Now, if you’ll just leave one of your squires here aboard, and he’ll come aft by-and-by, I’ll try if I can fish out a five-shilling piece from the bottom of my chest, to buy you and your good man some baccy and rum, to cheer you when you get back to your own fireside.”

“Well spoken, like a true son of the Ocean!” exclaimed Neptune, patting me on the back. “For that same notion you are free from henceforth and for ever of my watery realms; seeing also as how you have been lathered and shaved and crossed the line. So here are three cheers for Mr Harry Hopeton; and may he live to sail round the world, and to command as fine a ship as this here craft—and finer, too!”

The crew, at Neptune’s beck, on this gave three hearty cheers; and while the Tritons were chasing down some lads and two or three men, who had never before crossed the line, I made my escape towards a tub of clean water, and thence to my cabin, where I very soon removed all traces of the discipline I had gone through. By the time the captain appeared the whole ceremony was at an end, and the men were employed in washing down decks, as if nothing had occurred. It was the third mate’s watch; and I found afterwards that Jerry, who was the chief instigator, had obtained his leave to have the ceremony take place. The captain, I daresay, also knew all about it, but said nothing on the subject. Once upon a time the crew of every ship crossing the line considered it their right to be allowed full licence to indulge in all sorts of wild pranks; but the custom got so much abused that many captains have put a stop to it altogether, while others only allow it among well-tried and trusty crews. I was not sorry to have had the tricks played on me, because it contributed to gain me the good will of the people; and I now felt that, having crossed the line, I had a right to consider myself something of a sailor.

Chapter Four.

A trip up the Amazon.

Two days after crossing the line we sighted the island of Fernando Noronha, which, with several outlying islets, is a very picturesque spot. It belongs to the empire of the Brazils, and is used as a penal settlement. As Captain Frankland wished to touch at every place not out of his way, we dropped anchor in Citadel Bay, opposite a fort on which the Brazilian colours were flying. A boat was lowered, and though some heavy rollers were setting into the bay, we managed to get on shore on the top of one of them without getting wet—that is to say, the captain, Gerard, and I. It was really a pretty sight. We pulled on steadily, with the head of the boat directed on shore; then a high, heaving, glassy wave came gliding in, and the boat was on its summit; now the men pulled away with all their might, and on we flew till the boat’s keel touched the beach. Quickly the waters receded. The instant they did so we all jumped out, and hauling the boat up before another roller came in, she was high and dry out of harm’s way. A guard of blacks received us; and hearing that the town was only about a mile and a half distant, we set off to walk there. We passed through a pretty valley, and some woods of tropical shrubs, with the blue sea visible beneath their broad, fan-like leaves, and by many huts and cottages, inhabited mostly by blacks, who seemed very much astonished at our appearance. At last we reached the town, which has an open space in the centre, and a church and the governor’s house at one end, and a strong fort above it. Here nearly all the soldiers and free men are blacks, while the whites are mostly slaves, made so by their crimes. It must be rather a satisfactory state of things to the feelings of the blacks. The governor of this place—of a hundred houses or so—received us very civilly, and gave the captain all the information he required; and, besides that, a good supply of vegetables, which the island produces in abundance.

On leaving Fernando Noronha we steered for Pernambuco—perhaps, next to Rio, the port of the greatest importance in the Brazils. On going into the harbour with a strong breeze blowing, the pilot from gross carelessness gave the Triton so hard a blow against a rook that an ugly hole was knocked in her bottom. It seemed for a moment that the masts would have gone by the board; but the ship, bounding off the rock, glided on as if nothing had happened. It was a great trial for the temper of Captain Frankland; but he uttered scarcely a word of reproof to the pilot, and as to an oath, I never heard an expression even approaching one pass from his lips all the time I was with him. The crew were all at their stations, and none stirred from them till the captain ordered the carpenter to sound the well. He quickly reported that there were three feet of water in the well, and that it was rushing in at a great rate. All hands on board not absolutely required to shorten sail were ordered to man the pumps, and the Triton was carried in as close to the town as possible, so that she might immediately be put on shore should there be danger of her sinking. On a further examination of the damage the ship had received, it was found that it would be absolutely necessary to land part of her cargo and to put her on shore before it could be repaired. It was late in the day before this was determined on, so that nothing could be done that afternoon. All night long the sound of the pumps going continuously kept me awake till towards morning, when I still heard them in my sleep. A gang of negroes had been brought off to work them in relays, so that the crew were saved the fatigue which they would otherwise have undergone. I was very glad the next morning when I found the ship hauled close in-shore to a place where, if she did sink, she could not go far, or drown those on board. Captain Frankland found that it would take a considerable time to get the damage repaired, as it was even of a more serious nature than at first supposed. He bore the annoyance with his usual calm temper. I have often thought what a valuable possession is a calm temper, and how worthy of being cultivated.

The ship was consigned to an English firm—Messrs Gleg and Robarts—who rendered us every assistance in their power. Mr Robarts was on the point of starting in a fast-sailing schooner on a trip along the coast to the northward and west, as far as the mouth of the mighty river Amazon. He invited Gerard and me, with Mr McRitchie, to accompany him—not the last excursion of the sort we were destined to make. As he undertook to be back before the ship could be ready for sea, the captain, glad that we should see as much of the country as possible, allowed us to go. I was amused at hearing the doctor charge the crew not to fall sick, or tumble down and break their arms or legs, till his return, at the risk of his high displeasure. The schooner—the Andorinha—was built and manned by Portuguese, or rather Brazilians and blacks. She was a very pretty little vessel, and a first-rate sea-boat; indeed, the Portuguese models of vessels often used to put to shame the crafts of the same class built in England. However, of late years we have made a great stride in that respect. I speak of the Portuguese, because the Brazils, it must be remembered, was colonised from Portugal, and the greater part of the white inhabitants—if they can be called white by courtesy—are of that nation originally. I am sorry to say that I lost my notes made on this trip, so that I am unable to describe it with the minuteness of the rest of my narrative.

Mr Robarts was a very merry, kind person, and we spent a very pleasant life on board the little Andorinha. We put into several of the large rivers, as the object of Mr Robarts was to collect some of the wildest productions of the country from the natives inhabiting their banks. When, we entered the Amazon, I could scarcely believe that we were in a river, so wide and grand is the stream. The colour of the water, however, showed us that it was really a river we were in. We had gone up for some considerable distance, a strong breeze enabling us to battle with the current, when at length we came to an anchor near the shore. About a hundred and fifty miles up is the Brazilian town of Para—a complete sea-port, though not equal in size to Pernambuco. We, however, having a favourable breeze, went much further up the main stream, and then turned into one of the numerous rivers which fall into it. Here Mr Robarts expected to remain some little time to trade with the natives. I had been below, when, on returning on deck, I heard Gerard laughing heartily, and pointing to a boat which was proceeding up the stream. In the fore-part was a thatched shed, on either side of which sat four natives paddling. In the after-part was another shed of bamboo and grass, under which sat the passengers. On the top of all was the helmsman—a naked savage, lying his full length, and steering with his feet, under a sun which would quickly have cooked a beef-steak exposed to it. Mr Robarts told us that the boat or canoe was called an egaritea, and that it was the canoe usually employed for the conveyance of travellers on the Amazon. Again we laughed at the helmsman, who seemed perfectly unconcerned, as, holding on to the bamboo roof with one hand, he rested his black head on the other, just high enough to let him look about in every direction. Mr Robarts could not leave the schooner; but as Mr McRitchie and we were very anxious to see as much of the interior of this wonderful country as possible, we arranged to go up in an egaritea as far as time would allow. Mr Robarts allowed us to take a half-caste native, who had served on board a British ship and spoke a little English, as our interpreter. He was called Pedro, but he had a much longer Indian name, which I do not remember. Away we started, in high glee, with blankets, a supply of provisions, and a few cooking utensils, with plates, cups, knives, and forks. We could not help laughing whenever we thought of our araies, or chief boatman, lying at his length above us, steering with his feet. This mode of travelling we found very comfortable—almost too luxurious for our tastes—and tolerably expeditious. I should say that we all had our guns, and that McRitchie had, besides, his sketch-book, and boxes and cases for collecting subjects of natural history. The difficulty in this region was to know what to select. The water abounded with all sorts of strange fish, and turtles and alligators innumerable. I must say, when I first saw one of these hideous monsters, I felt an awe creeping over me, though the natives did not seem to care a bit about them. We had got to the end of our voyage in the egaritea, and arranged to hire a light open canoe, with two men as rowers, in which we could proceed up some of the smaller rivers. Nothing could surpass the luxuriance of the foliage, which not only lined their banks, but extended a long way inland, strange birds of all sizes, from the diminutive humming-bird to others of immense bulk, of the most gorgeous plumage, flew about among the trees; while, as we paddled along, we heard the most curious chatterings, and now and then, if we remained quiet for a few minutes, we could see hundreds of little black and brown and yellow faces, with bright eyes peering at us from among the boughs. The slightest movement or noise made by us would send them scampering off along the branches, or rather swinging themselves by hands and tails from bough to bough, or from creeper to creeper, that being their favourite mode of locomotion. They were clean, nice, respectable-looking little fellows, quite unlike monkeys cooped up in menageries, or even in the Zoological Gardens, and seemed to lead very happy and joyous lives. Gerard declared that if he was not a human being really, the next best state of existence he should desire would be that of a monkey on the banks of the Amazon. We were not aware at the time of certain facts, which afterwards came to our knowledge, which might detract somewhat from the desirability of the existence; among others, that the natives shoot and eat the poor little fellows with as little compunction as we should young pigs or fowls.

We were paddling along, admiring the wonderful foliage—one forest seeming, as it were, to rise up out of the top of another, the lowest being higher and thicker than any forest in northern regions—when suddenly a huge black monster was seen swimming rapidly towards us.

“An alligator!” exclaimed McRitchie. “He’ll make mince-meat of us in a moment. My gun—quick, quick!”

I was handing him his gun when one of our native boatmen, laughing at our fright, made signs that there was no danger, and seizing a piece of drift-wood floating by, adroitly threw it across its mouth. The vast jaw of the monster came crashing down on it. There they stuck, and the native assured us, through Pedro, that he was now quite harmless. McRitchie took a steady aim at the creature’s eye, while a native stood ready with a coil of ropes to throw over it directly it was killed, or it would have sunk, I fancy, out of sight in an instant. McRitchie’s bullet took immediate effect, and we soon had the creature hauled up on the nearest bank, where our medico had the opportunity of anatomically examining him at his leisure. While he was thus employed, Gerard and I agreed that it would be a good opportunity to prepare dinner, assisted by Pedro. The natives preferred sleeping in their canoe. While we were engaged over our fish, I on a sudden looked up, and saw a huge animal of the tiger species stealing catlike towards the doctor, attracted probably by the carcass of the alligator. The creature seemed at that moment about to make its fatal spring. I had my gun providentially by my side. I shrieked out to the doctor to be on his guard, and at the same moment raised my weapon to my shoulder to fire. He had the large knife with which he had been cutting up the alligator in his hand. Resting on my knee, I fired, and though I did not flatter myself that I was a good shot, happily hit the animal on the head. He fell backwards, stunned but not dead; and the doctor, rushing forward with his knife, deprived the creature of existence, thanking me in the same breath for the service I had rendered him.

“Come, we are meeting with adventures now, I do think, indeed!” exclaimed Jerry, as we sat round our repast, after the enthusiastic doctor had cut up the tiger. “Hurrah! it’s great fun.”

Soon after embarking to proceed on our voyage, we looked into a curious little nook under the trees, where, in the centre of the stream, lay a canoe with two people, a man and his wife, in it. They were not over-encumbered with garments, but the man had some curious feather ornaments on his arms. At first they seemed inclined to paddle away, but a shout from one of our canoemen brought them alongside, and from the affectionate greeting which was exchanged between the parties we found that they were relations, or at all events great friends. Pedro informed us that they invited us to their dwelling. We were delighted to accept the invitation, as we particularly wished to see the way of life of the aborigines. We paddled on some little distance, when our new friends, leading the way pushed in among the tall reeds till we found ourselves close to some long poles with a platform on the top and a ladder leading to it. We followed them up the ladder, when we found ourselves in a sort of hut, thickly thatched over with palm-leaves. Looking out, we saw several similar habitations. It seemed something like living up in trees. We concluded that the object the natives had in view in placing their habitations in such positions was to avoid the floods, as also snakes and crawling creatures, and the noxious air which floats close to the surface. All the natives’ houses are not built in this way, for when we went further inland we met with several standing only a short distance from the ground—on some more elevated spot. The natives are not very pleasant companions, as they anoint their bodies all over with oil, which gives anything but a notion that they indulge in cleanliness. Jerry, however, observed that it was probably nothing when people got accustomed to it, and that as oil was a clean thing, they might be more cleanly than people who wear dirty clothes and never wash. Even these people do wash their children; and we were highly amused in the morning on seeing a mother giving her little black-headed papoose a bath. The bath was a big tub made out of the hollowed seed-lobe of a species of palm. The fat little creature splashed about and seemed to enjoy the bath amazingly. After this we agreed that the natives had a good reason for anointing their bodies with oil, and that they were not naturally a dirty people. With Pedro, who carried the doctor’s cases, and one of the natives as a guide, we made from thence a long excursion inland. We were all together when Pedro stopped us. “There is something curious up in the trees,” he observed. We peered through the branches, and a little way off saw two men—negroes they seemed—seated at some distance from each other on the boughs of different trees, perfectly motionless. Each of them had a tube at his mouth about twelve feet long, and very slender. The mouthpiece was thick—a short cylinder apparently—as the doctor told us, a receptacle for wind. The weapon or instrument, he said, was a sarbacan. Numerous beautiful birds were flying about in the neighbourhood, some of them the most diminutive humming-birds. Soon as we looked down fell one, then another and another. They were shot with little darts of hard wood pointed at one end, and twisted round with wadding at the other to prevent the wind escaping. Jerry said that at school he had often made similar weapons on a small scale, and had killed insects with them. After the sportsmen had shot off all their arrows they came down from their perches to collect their game. We found that they were employed by some naturalists at Para, and that the birds were wanted either for stuffing or for the sake of their feathers. We saw several snakes as we continued our walk, and I must own that I felt very uncomfortable when they appeared hanging from the boughs of the trees or crawling along among the thick grass. Many of them were perfectly harmless, but others, we were told, were fearfully venomous. Once we very narrowly escaped a rattlesnake which appeared close to us, but Providence has ordered it that most of these creatures should be more afraid of man than man need be of them, and they make off rapidly at his approach. If, however, they are trodden on, or are disturbed waiting for their prey, they become savage, and revenge themselves on the intruders. In most instances, the only chance of saving the life of a person bitten is at once to suck the wound.

At length it was time for us to go back to the egaritea, that we might return to the schooner. We found, on rejoining the passenger canoe, that she would not be ready to start till the next morning. We were doubting what to do with ourselves in the meantime, when Pedro informed us that he had heard of some amusing sport to take place that night, and that he could obtain leave for us to join in it if we wished. A party of natives were going a little way down the river to a sandbank on which turtles wore accustomed, at this season of the year, to come on shore in order to deposit their eggs. The natives hide themselves near the spot, and as soon as the unsuspecting turtles have performed the operation, they rush out and turn as many as they can catch on their backs. There they lie helpless till they are dispatched by the hungry aborigines. We started in our own canoe, in company with twenty or thirty others, late in the evening. On reaching the neighbourhood of the sandbank all the canoes put to shore, and were drawn up on the beach. The natives, one acting as a leader, whom we followed close after, proceeded along in single file till a number of bushes and trees close to the bank was reached. Behind these the party were soon concealed. It was a great trial of patience waiting for the turtle. I thought at last that they would not appear, and regretted having lost our night’s rest for nothing. At last, however, a low whistle from our leader aroused the attention of the whole party, and a number of black objects were seen moving over the white sands, till the bank seemed literally covered with them. They remained for some time scraping holes in the sand, and, as I supposed, depositing their eggs in them; then, at a sign from our copper-coloured leader, out rushed all the savages, and getting between the water and the turtle began turning them over with wonderful rapidity. Jerry and I tried our hands at the sport, but while we turned one turtle a native would turn a dozen, and would rush into the water after those that had escaped, and frequently bring them back. At length all the turtle had escaped or been killed, or had rather been turned on their backs, where they lay utterly unable to move. The natives now selected five or six, and carrying them to an open place inland where the squaws had already lighted a fire, hero they cut the flesh out of the shell and immediately began cooking it in a variety of ways, and as soon as it was cooked tossing it down their throats. They all ate till they were gorged, and then went fast asleep round their fires, forgetful of tigers or rattlesnakes or other wild creatures. I should think a tiger must occasionally carry some of them off when they are in that state, unless the wild beasts prefer the turtles, which I rather fancy they do. We selected four turtle, and filled a basket with a quantity of the round soft eggs, and then paddled back to our egaritea.

Soon after it was daylight we started on our passage down the river, which, as we had a strong current in our favour, was very quickly performed. The Andorinha was just ready to sail, and as we had a fair breeze, we did not stop at Para, but proceeded at once to sea.

I have narrated the chief incidents of our expedition. By-the-by, the doctor took a capital sketch of one of the tree habitations, literally perched among the branches. He had to climb a tree to take it, an easy matter in those parts, considering the immense number of tendrils to assist a person in the operation. A big monkey was sitting on a neighbouring bough, and did not observe us, as we were hid by the thick foliage. I have introduced the sketch at the end of the chapter.

We had a favourable voyage back to Pernambuco, where we found the repairs of the Triton just completed. Captain Frankland was of course very anxious not to lose a day after this was done, so as soon as the cargo could be restowed we bade farewell to Mr Robarts and our other kind friends, and with a light wind stood out of the harbour. Our destination was Rio de Janeiro, the capital of the Brazils. I shall not forget the magnificent sight which met my eyes, as one bright afternoon we glided through a narrow entrance into its superb harbour. We appeared to be sailing up a large lake, extending as far inland as the eye could reach, and surrounded with lofty mountains of many different and picturesque shapes. On either side were walls of granite, rising sheer out of the water to a height of nearly 2000 feet, while behind them rose the vast Sugar-loaf Mountain, and a number of other lofty and barren peaks towering up clear and defined against the blue sky. Like mighty giants they surround the harbour, the ground at their bases sloping towards the water, and sprinkled with pretty villages, and quintas, and orange-groves, and covered with the most luxuriant vegetation. A picturesque fort guards the entrance to the bay. Passing it, after sailing about four miles, we dropped our anchor among a crowd of vessels carrying the ensigns of nearly all the civilised nations of the world, before the city of Rio, which, built on a flat extending two miles from the hills, appeared on our left hand. As our stay was to be short, the captain allowed Gerard and me to accompany the doctor on shore at once. He himself went with us, and introduced us to a merchant, who kindly undertook to show us about the place.

“There, go and see all you can, and give me an account of what you have seen when you return on board,” were his parting words.

Rio, with its superb harbour, as seen from the heights above it, is a picturesque city, as I think the drawing I brought home and now give will prove. It is built upon piles—that is, the lower part—and as the drainage is bad, it is at times very unhealthy. On landing, we found ourselves on a large open space with a palace before us, and a fountain in front of it. Before the palace stood two negro soldiers as a guard. The army, our friend told us, is composed chiefly of negroes, who make very good soldiers; and the navy is manned by them. Acting with Englishmen, many of whom are in the Brazilian navy, they are as bravo and trustworthy as any men to be found. Off the square branched a number of narrow streets. As the climate is so hot, all the streets are made narrow, that they may be kept as much as possible in shade. The houses are mostly of good size, and the walls are very thick; they thus keep out the heat of the sun. The churches are also substantially built, and decorated in a very florid style—the interiors being tawdry in the extreme, calculated only to please the uncultivated taste of the negroes and of the lower order of whites. Railways have been formed in the Brazils, and one runs to Petropolis, a summer resort of the principal inhabitants. Omnibuses, too, have made their appearance. The streets are paved with fine blocks of stone, and the city is lighted with gas; indeed, as our friend observed, “under the liberal government of the present constitutional emperor the country has made great material progress. When her literally unbounded resources are developed, the Brazils cannot fail, unless her constitution is overthrown, of becoming a wealthy and happy nation. At present, her wretched parody of the pure religion of Christians, and her lazy, profligate, and ignorant priests, tend more than anything else to retard her progress. Vile as they are, they have been unable to prevent the free circulation of the Scriptures and the toleration of Protestant opinions.”

We were struck by the immense number of negroes who crowd the streets. Those born in Africa are known by the distinguishing marks of their tribes on their foreheads. Many of them are free. A negro in Rio may demand his valuation from a magistrate, and when he can make up the fixed sum he can purchase his freedom. Slaves are generally treated kindly by their masters, and as their price is high, on account of the impediments thrown in the way of the slave trade, their health is carefully looked after. The porters are all slaves. They pay their owners so much a day, and keep the rest of what they gain for themselves. They carry everything on their heads. We sometimes met a dozen grunting or singing in time, as they stooped under some huge machine borne aloft above them. They lie about the streets with their baskets, ready for anybody’s call. We thought the Brazilians a very quiet and most polite people. They were continually bowing to each other, and there was none of that bustling roughness so often seen in England. We met the emperor on horseback in plain clothes, though his attendants were in handsome uniforms. He was a fine intelligent-looking young man, and is much liked. The Brazilian government is liberal. Both Houses of Parliament are elected by the people; and if there is a majority of three-fourths in favour of a measure in the Lower House, the measure is virtually carried, whatever the vote of the Upper. If the Senate, or Upper House, do not agree, the two meet in convention; and as the number of the Senate is small compared to that of the Lower House, it can thus always be outvoted. The vote of the emperor can suspend a law for a year; but if, at the end of that time, it be again passed by the Legislature, it takes effect. In reality, the government is a republic, the emperor being the executive, though deprived of legislative power.

We passed in our walk a house out of which a funeral procession was coming. It was that of a young lad of our own age, we were told. That and the neighbouring houses were hung with blue cloth. The hearse and liveries of the servants, and the trappings of the horses, were of the same colour. His hands were crossed before him with a cup in them. The decorations at the funerals of young children are red, those only of grown-up people are black. If boys are named after any of the saints, they are dressed in appropriate costumes. If after Saint John, a pen is placed in one hand and a book in the other. If after Saint Francis or Saint Anthony, he has a monk’s gown and cowl. Sometimes a boy is called after the archangel Michael, and then he wears a gilt pasteboard helmet, a tunic with a belt round the waist, tight red boots, and his hand resting on a sword. Poor little girls, with rouge and false locks, are made to represent Madonnas and female saints. Jerry and I agreed that we should not like to be rigged out in that guise after we were dead.

Rio is supplied with water by an aqueduct which comes from far up among the mountains, its chief source being a romantic and forest-surrounded spot, called the “Mother of Waters.” The actual channel which conveys sufficient water to supply so large a city as Rio is only nine inches wide and nine and a half deep. The precious fluid, however, comes rushing down with great rapidity, and thus quickly fills all the reservoirs below. It is conveyed from its mountain-source sometimes across valleys on high massive arches, sometimes in the interior of a thick wall-like structure, and sometimes underground. The channel has for its whole length an arch above it of sufficient height and width to enable a man to walk upright along it. Altogether, we agreed that Rio if it were not for the slaves and the monks, and the want of drains, would be a very civilised city. Never did sight-seers get over the ground faster than we did, or make better use of their eyes. I ought to have mentioned that steamers ply in various directions in the harbour of Rio. Our friend proposed a trip up the country, which would last during the few days we had to spare. We started in one of the smallest of the steamers, and went up the River Macacu. One thing struck us—a boat laden with slaves, which had been landed on the opposite shore, and were being smuggled into the city. We went on shore at the small town of Porto Sampaio, and thence on mule back about fifteen miles, to the country-house of a Brazilian gentleman, our friend’s friend. We four had a room to ourselves—a large, roughly built apartment. Scarcely were we all in bed, and the light out, when, just as I had dropped asleep, down came something on my nose. I started up, and there appeared to be a tremendous clattering and pattering about the room.

“I say, Harry, what are you heaving at me?” sung out Jerry, springing up also.

“Rather, what are you throwing at me?” I retorted.

“Hillo! what’s the matter?” cried the doctor; “I felt something soft slip through my fingers—animals of some sort—what can they be?”

“Only rats!” said our friend, awoke by our exclamations. “I know they are somewhat numerous in this house.”

We all sat up, and began shouting and striking right and left; but the rats did not mind us a bit. At last the doctor lighted a lucifer match, and away scampered at least a hundred rats into the holes from whence they had come out. We thought that we were to have rest, but as soon as darkness and silence were restored, out they all came again, and made as much hubbub as before. Jerry and I kept knocking about us to little purpose, till we both fell back asleep; and all night long I dreamed that I was fighting with a host of black men on the coast of Africa. When the morning broke, they scampered away like so many evil spirits, leaving their marks, however, behind them. They had committed no little mischief also. They had gnawed through our friend’s shoes and the doctor’s leather cigar-case; they had carried off Jerry’s leather braces—the remains of which were found near one of the holes—and the front strap of my cap. We all had suffered, but, as Jerry remarked, as they had left us our noses and toes it did not much signify. They infest the country in all directions, we were told.

The estate we were on produced chiefly sugar. The milk by which the canes are crushed consisted of three vertical wooden rollers worked by mules. The most interesting subject connected with our trip was the cultivation and preparation of the mandioca. The chief produce is called farinha: the slaves are fed almost entirely on it. A field of mandioca, when ripe, looks something like a nursery of young plants. Each plant grows by itself, with a few palmated leaves only at the top. The stem is about an inch in diameter at the base, and six or seven feet long. A bud appears at nearly every inch of the otherwise smooth stem. These plants give forth tubers of irregular shape, in substance like a parsnip, about six inches long and four thick. The tubers, after being scraped and rinsed, are ground, or rather grated against a wheel with a brass grater as a tire. One slave turns the wheel, and another presses the root against it. The pulp is then put into bags and pressed. The matter, which resembles cheese-cake in consistence, is then rubbed through a wire sieve and thrown into shallow copper pans moderately heated. After being stirred up, it quickly dries, and the produce is not unlike oatmeal. The juice pressed out is very poisonous by itself. It is, however, collected in pans, when a beautifully white substance is precipitated to the bottom. This substance is tapioca, so largely used in puddings at home. To plant a field of mandioca, the stems of the old plants are cut into bits about four inches long, and stuck in the ground. They quickly take root, and, sending forth shoots from the buds, are in two years fit again to dig up. The mandioca is called cassava in some countries. The press used by the Indians is a simple and most ingenious contrivance. It is made by the Indians wherever the plant is grown. It is a basket made of fine split cane loosely plaited; in shape, a tube five feet long and five inches in diameter at the mouth, and narrowing somewhat at the bottom. A strong loop is left at each end. To use it, first it is wetted, and then a man holding the mouth presses the other end against the ground till it is half its former height. A long smooth stick is now inserted down the middle, and the pulp is packed tightly round it till the basket is full. It is then hung to a beam or branch of a tree by a loop at the mouth, while a heavy weight is attached to one at the bottom, till the basket has assumed its original tube-like form and length, and the whole of the liquid has been pressed out of the mass of mandioca.

One of the most curious features in a Brazilian forest is the vegetable cordage, or sipos, which hang down from every branch, like slack ropes from the rigging of a ship. Jerry and I several times could not resist having a good swing on them, while the doctor was hunting about for his specimens. Their roots are in the ground. They climb up a tree, then hang over a branch and descend, and often twist upward again by their own stem, to descend more than once again to the ground. We were shown the nests of some diminutive bees. The nests are not so large as a turkey’s egg, while the bodies of the bees are but little thicker than the bodies of mosquitoes. The comb is of a dark brown colour, and the construction of the nest is somewhat like that of ants. The only entrance is a small hole, at the mouth of which they construct a tube turning upwards. This is regularly closed up at night, so that no damp can enter, and it is never opened till the sun has been some time up. The bees have no stings, but they are very brave, and will drive away the ordinary bee from their hives. A sketch which the doctor took, and finished up afterwards on board, will afford a better idea of the vegetation of a Brazilian forest than any verbal account I can give.

I might go on indeed for hours describing all the wonders we saw during our short trip. Our last excursion was to the Corcovado Mountains, whence we looked down on the blue waters of the superb harbour of Rio, surrounded by sandy beaches and numerous snow-white buildings, peeping from amid the delicate green foliage which covers the bases of the neighbouring mountains, and creeps up almost to their summits; while the mountains are on every side broken into craggy and castellated peaks of every varied shape; the whole forming a not easily forgotten panorama. Once more we were on board and under weigh. The bay, as we sailed out, was full of vessels; but the flag of Old England was not, as I should have supposed, among the most numerous. With a fair wind we passed out of the harbour, and stood along the coast to the southward.

Chapter Five.

Adventures in the Falklands.

The reason, I believe, why sailors in a well-regulated ship are generally so happy, is, that they are never allowed to have an idle moment. Mr Renshaw was always finding something for the people to do; and when that work was finished, there was something else of equal importance to be done. The picture our deck presented on one day will serve for that seen on most days in fine weather: on one side the spun-yarn winches were going, manufacturing spun-yarn out of old junk—a never-ending source of employment; Mr Pincott and his mates were busily at work building a boat on the other; the sail-maker and his gang were repairing some of the sails, and making light ones for the gentle breezes of the Pacific; while Fleming and his crew were laying up rope, and the rest of the watch were knotting yarns, making sinnet, wad-bags, wads, chafing gear of all descriptions, such as worming, parcelling, roundings, spun-yarn, rope-yarn, marline, seizing, stuffs, and service of all kinds; the names of which things alone are, I suspect, sufficient to puzzle a landsman, so I will say no more about them. Aft were Captain Frankland, with one of the mates and Gerard and I, taking observations of the sun,—an employment in which, as I began to understand it, I felt great interest. It struck me that, as far as I saw, Captain Frankland took very little concern about the ship. He seldom spoke a word to any of the crew, and only occasionally on points of duty while on deck, to the mates. I soon found, however, that no man could more effectually exert himself, when his exertions were required. Hitherto there had been nothing to call forth his energies. With light winds and calm seas, he had better employment in his cabin. That very day a change came over the even tenor of our lives; scarcely were our sextants stowed away, when, as the captain was walking the deck, I saw him frequently turn his glance to the westward. There, over the land, in a moment it seemed, arose a bank of clouds, which every instant grew denser and denser, and came rushing toward us across the sky.

“All hands shorten sail!” shouted Captain Frankland, stopping suddenly in his walk. Quick as the word, the work in which everybody was engaged was stowed away, and up jumped the crew, all life and activity. Away they flew aloft—royals were sent down, top-gallant-sails were furled, and the yards were braced so as to take the wind on the starboard-tack. We had had the wind from the north-east, but it now fell almost a dead calm, and the lower sails began to flap idly against the masts; and under our topsails we waited the coming of the squall. It did not long delay; on it came in its majestic fury. On one side of us the whole sky was covered with a dense mass of threatening clouds, while the sea below appeared torn up into sheets of hissing foam; on the other, the sky was blue, and the water smooth as a polished mirror. There was not a breath of air where the ship lay. Then down on us came the fierce squall with its utmost fury—rain, hail, and wind united—over heeled the stout ship as if she had been a mere cockleshell, till her gunwale was buried in the water. I thought she would never rise again, but I kept my eye on Captain Frankland, who seemed as cool and collected as if nothing unusual was happening. With speaking-trumpet in hand, and holding on by the weather-rail, he ordered the mizen-topsail to be furled. The lee maintopsail braces were then slackened, to shiver the maintopsail; and the wind being taken out of it, the whole pressure was thrown on the headsail; the helm was then put a-starboard, and her bow paying off, righting herself, away flew the ship rapidly before the gale on an even keel. The foaming seas, rising every moment higher and higher, coursed each other up under our stern, as if angry at our escaping their power. Dark clouds were above us; dark hissing seas on every side; the thunder roared, the lightning flashed brightly: so terrific did the scene appear to me, that I thought at times that we must be hurrying to destruction. I concealed my feelings, for Gerard took the matter very coolly, and he was not likely to spare me if I expressed any unwarrantable alarm. After we had run on before the gale for some time, it began to moderate. We had all the time been going out of our course; so, to avoid losing more ground, the captain gave the order to heave the ship to. I had never before seen this operation performed. The fore-topsail was first furled, and the maintopsail, which was closely reefed, and the fore-topmast staysail were the only sails set. “Brace up the main yard!” was the next order given. “Now, down with the helm!” cried the captain, watching a favourable opportunity when a heavy sea had passed us. The ship felt the influence of the wind, and came up with her head to the westward; and then she rode, rising easily to the tops of the seas, and gliding slowly down into the valleys—their wild, foaming, hissing crests rushing furiously by her, but not a drop of water coming on board. I had never pictured to myself a scene so awfully grand as that which I now beheld in perfect security. On one side the waters rose in a wall high above the deck, and looked as if about to overwhelm us; while the next instant we were looking down into a vale of waters of depth so great, that it seemed, if we slipped into it, we should never again struggle upwards. When summoned to dinner, I went below with the expectation that I should be unable to have a mouthful; instead of which, there appeared to be very little more motion than usual, so easily rode the ship; and I could scarcely persuade myself that I had but just left a scene of such wild confusion on deck. The gale did not last more than twelve hours, and the ship was then once more put on her proper course for the Falkland Islands.

“Land ho! land ho!” was shouted one forenoon from aloft, with the usual prolonged cry. The Falkland Islands were in sight, and the land seen as we drew nearer, I found, was that about Cape Bougainville. We stood on, and next we made out the rugged hills above Berkley Sound, and then got close to the dark brown cliffs of Macbride’s Head, with hundreds of seals lying on the sands and rocks below them. We could hear the roar of the beasts as they looked up at us, indignant, I thought, at being disturbed by our approach; but Mr Brand told me that, fierce as they looked, they are a very harmless race, and easily captured. On the downs above were numerous cattle feeding, which gave us the idea that we were approaching some civilised part of the world. Passing Berkley Sound with a stiff breeze, which rushed out of it, we stood on for Mount Low, and then beat up Port William, which has a line of sand hills on one side of it, and Stanley Harbour at the end. Although the day was fine, the appearance of the country was not very attractive; for there are no trees—rocks, and sand hills, and tussac grass, and barren heights, being the chief features. We dropped anchor opposite Stanley, the capital of the settlement. Above a line of piers and quays appeared a double row of neat white cottages, inhabited by the pensioners who were sent out to assist in founding the colony. Round and about them are other houses and cottages, extending along the shores of the bay, and sprinkled on the sides of a gentle slope. They are generally of light tints, which contrast well with the dark background of the hill beyond, and give the place a pretty appearance. Further up is the church, not a very ecclesiastical-looking building; and beyond again, the cemetery, which has a neat chapel attached to it. The Government House is a long, low cottage edifice, which looks well from the harbour; and on the east of the town are some extensive stores, belonging to the Falkland Island Company, with their small fleet of vessels in front of it. On the west of the town is the Government Dock-yard, with block-house, workshops, guard-house, and stores, all neatly railed in. The surrounding country consisting of slight elevations, either rocky or covered with tussac grass, is not attractive. I could not help looking at the place with great interest, as the first infant British settlement I had seen; and I thought less of what it then was than of what it might become, under good management. The last idea was suggested to me, I must own, by Mr Brand.

The chief promenade in Stanley is called Ross Road, running right and left of the principal street for about two miles. On one side of it are built a number of houses facing the water, and among them are two or more hotels, of some pretensions. Behind this road are some smaller streets, inhabited by labouring people, Spanish Gauchos, and others. There are, perhaps, rather more than a hundred houses in the town, and between 400 and 500 inhabitants, including boatmen, stray sailors, Gauchos, and other wanderers. Several of the houses have gardens which produce a fair supply of vegetables, and beef is to be had in abundance; but as the colony produces very little else in the way of food, the inhabitants are somewhat hard up in that respect. The islands alternately belonged to England and Spain, till, in 1774, they were finally evacuated by the latter power, though it is only of late years that they have been systematically colonised by England. The first governor, Lieutenant Moody, arrived there in 1842, when the site of the intended town was changed from Port Louis to Port Stanley. As a proof of the value of the islands, Mr Lafosse, a British merchant at Monte Video, paid 60,000 pounds to have the right over all cattle of every description to be found on the East Falklands, for six years and a half. From what I heard, the climate is very healthy. It is at times windy, but in summer it is as mild and dry as the south of England. In winter the cold is never severe, and only at intervals of several years does snow fall to any depth, so as to risk the destruction of cattle. The most remarkable production is the tussac, a gigantic species of grass, which grows to the height of ten feet, and is capable of sheltering and concealing herds of cattle and horses. The core of this grass is of so nutritious a nature, that people have been known to live for months on it, and to retain their health. From this cause the animals on the islands grow to a great size, and their flesh is of a particularly fine flavour. The great object for which the settlement was founded, was to afford a place where ships might repair, and to supply those going round Cape Horn, or returning home that way, with fresh provisions. It is also under contemplation to make it a penal settlement, for which it is in many respects particularly adapted, if sufficient employment for the convicts can be found.

Gerard and I were very anxious to get on shore to enjoy some of the sport we had heard so much about. “Wouldn’t it be fine to kill a fat bull, who would make nothing of tossing one twelve feet up in the air if he could but catch a fellow on the tip of his horns?” said he, rubbing his hands.

I agreed with him; but we had little hopes of having our wishes gratified, when a gentleman from the shore offered to give us a trip round in one of the Company’s schooners to the West Falklands, where she was going to procure cattle. As the ship was to remain here some days to have one or two slight defects made good, and to take in a supply of beef, fresh and salt, Captain Frankland allowed us to accept the offer, Mr Brand going to look after us. Away dashed the little schooner, the Sword-Fish, having a fine fresh breeze, with as merry a party on board as ever put to sea. There was our friend Mr Nathaniel Burkett, and his friend Mr Jonathan Kilby, both keen sportsmen, and up to all sorts of fun; and Gerard and I, and the master of the vessel, Tom Cribb by name, who, though not a good shot, seeing that he had but one eye, and that had a terrific squint, knew every inch of the coast, and exactly where we were likely to find sport; and then there was Cousin Silas, who was a first-rate shot, though he did not throw away his words by talking about the matter. Pleasant as our trip promised to be, many a gale has to be encountered off those wild islands, and dangers not a few. We, however, instead of standing out to sea and going round all, took a course, well-known to our skipper, among the numerous isles and islets grouped round the larger Falkland. Their names I cannot pretend to remember. At last we dropped anchor in a snug cove where we were to remain for the night. We, the sportsmen, were to have a boat left us, and we were to land, while the schooner ran on to a station some way further. We had one dog with us, Old Surley by name, belonging to Mr Kilby—as brave an animal as ever flew at a bull’s neck, for he feared neither bull nor beast of any sort. With our guns, plenty of ammunition, and a stock of provisions, we pulled up a creek where we could leave the boat in safety, and landed. We first climbed a rock on the shore, whence we could look about us and take a survey of the island. It was of considerable size. We saw that we should have no difficulty in penetrating across it, through the high tussac grass which almost entirely covered the ground. We first advanced together. We soon came to some curious green mounds, covered with a velvety moss, about two feet high and nine in circumference. I happened to sit down on one to tie my shoe, and it made a most comfortable seat.

“Do you know what that is?” said Mr Burkett, giving it a blow with the butt end of his gun, which broke the moss to pieces as if it had been a huge toadstool. The mossy coat was an inch and a half in thickness, and the whole interior appeared filled with wide-spreading miniature fir-trees. Every stalk, of which there were a great number, was edged with diminutive leaves like those of the fir; and the tops were sprinkled with little pieces of resin, brown outside and white within, some not larger than a pin’s-head, and others half the size of a filbert. We afterwards came to some mounds where the plants had pushed through the green moss, and their leaves having slightly expanded, they looked like miniature myrtles. Instead of going directly inland, we made our way along the shore among the penguin grass. This grows to the height of ten feet, on the top of clumps of decayed vegetable matter, forming large hillocks, which made the shore look as if it had been covered with a coppice of underwood. We took our way through it, often being hid from each other by the high grass, and had not gone far when a loud roar saluted our ears. Jerry and I were together, but we had lost sight of the rest of the party. I instinctively drew back, and he looked very much as if he would have run away, had he known where to run to. He says he felt very brave though.

“What’s that?” I exclaimed.

“A lion!” replied Jerry, looking uncomfortable.

“A wild boar,” said I; “there are no lions here.”

“A big bull, perhaps,” cried my companion. “I hope his horns are not sharp!”

Our guns were loaded only with small shot, so that we could hope to make but little impression on the body of a wild animal. The roar was repeated, and there was a loud rustling among the penguin grass on a mound near us. The grass moved rapidly. We looked towards it. Presently the huge head of a ferocious-looking animal appeared glaring at us from among the grass. We shouted lustily for help to our friends.

“Let’s run, it is a lion—I told you so,” cried Jerry; “no time to lose, if we don’t wish to be eaten up!” Suiting the action to the word, Jerry turned round, and, in attempting to escape, tumbled over some of the tangled stalks, and lay sprawling on the ground, while I endeavoured to lift him up. The huge monster all the time came roaring towards us, Jerry and I shouting out,—“Help, help, help! a lion, a lion!” In another moment I expected to feel his claws on my shoulder.

“A sea-lion, my lads!” cried Mr Jonathan Kilby, who at that moment appeared close to us from among the high grass. “Jump up and attack him.”

The beast having no legs, and being able only to make progress with his fins, had not advanced so far as we expected. Our friend, having in the meantime drawn the small shot from his gun, and put a ball instead, fired at the head of the beast. The ball entered and stopped his further progress, and there he lay, helplessly floundering about, and roaring more lustily than ever. This gave Jerry and me time to recover ourselves, and to put bullets into our guns, with which we soon put an end to the sufferings of the poor beast. He was, we found, a species of seal, about eight feet long, of a yellowish-brown colour, and with a large mane, covering his neck and shoulders. He looked as if he would prove an ugly customer in the water; but as he had only flappers for front legs, with very small nails on them, and only a tail instead of hind-legs, a person on shore could very easily keep out of his way, and Jerry and I felt rather foolish at the fright he had put us into. We had achieved our victory before Mr Brand and Mr Burkett found their way up to us. As he lay not far from the boat, we settled to take his skin on our return. Going on, we reached a lake of some size, from which vast numbers of teal got up. Jerry and I shot several, which made us very proud; and the rest of the party tagged thirty or more between them, so that they were pretty well loaded. Before long, we again managed to get separated from the rest, but we had grown so satisfied with our prowess that we were indifferent to consequences. We felt that we were not likely to starve even if we lost our way. I was just going to fire at a teal, when Jerry pulled my arm, and pointing to an opening in the distance among the clumps of grass, I saw the head of a huge bull not fifty yards from us, and, as it seemed, fast asleep. Now was the time to show what we could do, so we withdrew our small shot and loaded with ball. Like North American Indians on a war-trail, we crawled stealthily towards him. We halted, and resting our guns on a bank, fired together.

“I am certain I hit him,” cried Jerry.

“So am I,” I added—though I was surprised that the beast did not move.

“We’ve killed him!” cried Jerry, as on we rushed, expecting to find a rich prize. He was lying down when we hit him, we saw that. We kept him in sight for some way, then we found our further progress somewhat impeded by the bogginess of the ground. At last we were brought to a stand-still about ten paces from our victim. Jerry gave a blank look at me, and I looked at him, and burst out laughing. The poor beast was not alive, certainly, but we were innocent of his death. He had evidently got into the bog in wet weather, and in vain struggling to free himself, had died of starvation. His head was stretched out, as if hopelessly longing for the rich food he saw growing not thirty yards from him, which yet he could not reach. All around the morass were the hoof-marks of his comrades, as if they had been watching him in his dying struggles, scampering round and round, perhaps with terror, or perhaps thinking how they might help him.

“At all events,” exclaimed Jerry, “we may say we hit a huge bull and left him as dead as mutton; and there’s no great harm if the rest go back to look for him. We can easily point them out the place by the side of the lake.”

A little further on we reached a smaller lake which was swarming with birds—geese, ducks, divers, and other wild-fowl. Among them were several swans, beautifully white, with black necks, which kept swimming gracefully about like the great lords of the feathered population among whom they moved. Jerry and I were very hungry, so we sat ourselves down to take a nibble at our biscuit and cheese, not wishing to disturb them till our friends should come up to help us to slaughter them. We had sat a little while, and opened our wallet, when, what was our surprise to see the birds swimming together, and landing in numbers below our feet! Slowly some advanced, as if to reconnoitre us, and then others came on, till some hundreds were within thirty yards of us, evidently wondering what strange animals we could be. Then they began to talk to each other in a most strange discordant cackle, their voices growing louder and louder, as if they were disputing on the subject, and could not settle it to their satisfaction. We lay back and watched them, highly diverted. Nearer and nearer they approached, talking away furiously all the time in tones of wonder and surprise, more than in those of anger.

“I know what they are saying,” whispered Jerry. “Well, these are two strange beings! How could they have come here? They are not seals, that’s certain, for they have legs; but they don’t look as if they could swim with those long, thin projections instead of flappers; and assuredly they can’t fly, for they have no wings. How can they feed themselves, for they have no bills? and see what great ugly round things they’ve got for heads. Evidently they cannot dive or live under water. They are not fish, then, nor birds; for if those are feathers growing on their backs, they are very rugged and dirty. Well, we pity them; for they are strange beasts, that’s a fact.” This quaint notion of Jerry’s tickled my fancy so much that I burst into a loud fit of laughter, which somewhat startled our flock of visitors; while Jerry, sitting up, hove a stick he had carried all day made fast to his side in among them. The missile did not, however, make them turn tail; but, instead, they clustered thickly round it, and, as if it had been some impertinent intruder, began pecking at it furiously. As we could not carry the birds away, with a praiseworthy self-denial we abstained from firing. When, however, we jumped suddenly up and clapped our hands, away they scuttled at a great rate, chattering and quacking louder than ever. We hoped, however, to reward ourselves for our present self-denial, by returning with all the party to have a shot at them in the evening. After this we walked on for a mile, and had begun to wonder what had become of our companions, and to be a little anxious at having missed them, when we were startled at hearing a loud roar not three hundred yards from us. It was very different from that of the sea-lion, and we too soon recognised it as the voice of an angry bull. Again the bull bellowed, and this time several other bulls lent their voices to the terror-inspiring chorus. We ran to the top of the highest mound near us, and thence we made out five or six bulls, with their tails up in the air, rushing towards us, following one whose voice we first heard. The spot on which we stood afforded us no protection, for the beasts would have rushed up it in a moment, but a couple of hundred yards on was a rock with steep sides, just rising above the grass; and our only chance of safety was to climb it before the horns of the first bull had reached our backs. Had he come directly on, as fast as his legs could carry him, this we should have had no chance of doing; but instead of that, he every now and then stuck his sharp ugly-looking horns into the grass, and tossed it above his head, as if to show how he intended to treat us when he caught us. We rushed on with our eyes fixed on the rock, not venturing to look behind, and expecting every moment to feel his horns at our backs. We kept a tight hold of our guns, but unfortunately dropped our wallets and the game we had shot. On we ran and on came the bull; the rock was a dozen yards before us, and he was not much further off in our rear. We sprang on; Jerry tripped over a lump of decayed grass, but he picked himself up, and, crying to me not to stop, followed me. The face of the rock was too perpendicular directly in front to allow me to get up it, but a little to the right it was more broken. I sprang towards the place, and scrambled up. Jerry reached the foot of the rock; the bull was making for the right side, where he had seen me climb up. In another moment he would have pinned Jerry to the rock, or tossed him up to me.

“Help me! help me, Harry!” he sung out, with good reason dreadfully alarmed. I had just time to throw myself down at full length, and, by loaning over the rock, to seize his hand, before the bull, seeing him, with a terrific bellow made a full butt at him. With a strength I did not think myself capable of exerting, I hauled him up to me, the bull’s horns actually passing between his feet! In his hurry, however, he dropped his gun at the foot of the rock, and the bull vented his rage and disappointment by giving it several butts as it lay on the ground; and I was in great hopes that he would strike the lock and make it go off—it would have astonished him not a little. Jerry almost fainted with the fright the brute had given him, but he very speedily recovered, and then we looked round to see what sort of a place we were on. We found that it was, fortunately, inaccessible on all sides; so we returned with much greater composure to watch the proceedings of our bovine enemies. The other bulls had now come up, with their tails in the air, bellowing at the top of their voices, and tearing the ground up on all sides, and throwing the grass over their heads. They appeared for some reason to be fearfully enraged against us. There were seven bulls altogether. Placed in the convenient position we were, we agreed that we could easily shoot them, and thus raise the siege; but on examining the contents of our pockets, we found that we had only got five bullets between us. Now, supposing every bullet to have had in this case its billet, and to have mortally wounded an animal, that would have left two unprovided for; and even with two we had no desire to contend on the level ground. Still we determined to do what we could; so I loaded and took a steady aim at the beast which had led on the attack. The bullet struck him on the head; but his skull was thick, and though it wounded him severely, it did not enter his brain. The pain made him tear up the ground more furiously, and bellow louder than before. Jerry said he would try the next time; so I loaded, and he took the gun. I thought he was going to make a good shot, but he was nervous, and the bullet only struck the beast’s shoulder, nor did it increase the sweetness of his temper. We had thus only three bullets, and all our enemies as vicious as ever. The most important thing we agreed to be done was to get rid of the leader; so I took the gun again, and carefully loading, waited till he made a tilt right up to the face of the rock, really looking as if he had been going to try and leap up at us. I tried to be perfectly cool, and fired. The bullet struck him, I was certain of that, but it did not kill him, so I supposed that it had glanced off over his head.

“I won’t miss again,” I cried, loading as rapidly as I could. “One of our last two bullets must do the deed.”

Our enemy, on receiving his last wound, turned off and made a rapid circuit round the rock, to discover, we concluded, if there was any place by which he could get up at us. Finding none, he returned. As soon as he appeared, I took a steady aim, resting the barrel on a lump of rock—I fired. Roaring with fury, he bounded along towards the rock. I thought he would almost have reached us. Suddenly he stopped—down went his head, and over he rolled close under the rock, and there he lay stone dead! We both of us simultaneously raised a loud shout of victory; but, as Jerry remarked, we began to crow rather too soon, for the other six bulls, no way daunted at the fall of their leader, continued raging round about us as furiously as ever. We had only one bullet left, and with that we could scarcely hope even to settle one of them. We sat ourselves down watching our enemies, hoping that they would grow tired of waiting for us and go away; but they seemed by no means disposed to move. Never did a beleaguering army watch more pertinaciously round a hard pressed garrison than did our formidable enemies watch to toss us in the air. In vain we stood up and looked around on every side for our friends, as far as our somewhat limited range of vision extended. There was not a sign of them. They, too, would have become not a little anxious about us, except Cousin Silas thought we were still with Mr Kilby, and the latter gentleman supposed we had joined our other friends. If so, unless they met they would probably not come to look for us. As we had taken but a light luncheon, we began to feel very hungry, and to cast longing glances at our satchels and the teal, which lay at some distance from the rock, but which we dared not attempt to got. Not ten feet below where we sat was the bull. Jerry looked over the rock—

“I should so like to have a juicy beef-steak out of you, old fellow!” said he, addressing the dead animal. “I say, Harry, don’t you think we could manage to get it? The other brutes will certainly grow hungry before long; and, as they don’t want to eat us, while they are picking up their dinners I shall have plenty of time to get down and cut out a few slices. I have my knife, and I sharpened it only yesterday.”

I had mine also; and, as I highly approved of his suggestion, we resolved to wait a favourable opportunity for our exploit. Raw meat was not, however, to our taste; so we agreed to try and light a fire and cook our steaks. There was plenty of dry moss and grass on the rock, so we set to work and collected all that we could find, so that we soon had a famous heap of it, sufficient almost to roast the whole animal. As we expected, the bulls, after looking at us for some time, feeling the calls of hunger, began to lower their tails, and putting their heads to the ground, commenced to munch the tender grass.

“Now, if these beasts had been lions and tigers, the more hungry they grew the more anxious they would have been to get at us. It’s lucky all animals are not carnivorous.”

Having delivered himself of this sagacious remark, Jerry said he was ready to turn butcher. We waited, however, till the bulls had got a little further off, and then he descended on the carcass of our victim, while I bent over the rock, as before, to help him up should they appear inclined to tilt at him. Enough steaks were cut to dine half-a-dozen men; and then, as the bulls did not observe him, grown brave from impunity, he went on further and picked up his gun. This he handed up to me, and it was not much the worse for the butting it had got. The bulls were still feeding quietly, apparently having forgot all about us.

“I say, Harry, I think some biscuits, and rum and water, would not be bad things with our steaks, not to speak of the teal,” said he, looking up at me. “What do you advise? May I venture to run for the satchels and some of the game?”

I agreed with him that it would be very desirable to have them, and offered to accompany him.

“No, no,” he answered, with a knowledge of generalship for which I had not given him credit; “do you load the gun, and stand by to cover me if I am pursued; you will be ready also to help me up the rock as before. If I were to take your place with the gun up there, the chances are that I should shoot you instead of the bull, and that would not do. I’ll go, never fear.” Jerry, as will be seen, was a creature of impulse. He was as brave as any one when he had time for reflection, and saw the necessity for coolness. As soon as I had loaded the gun and got ready, keeping his eyes on the bulls, he cautiously advanced towards our satchels. If a bull lifted his head, he stopped, and crouched down to the ground. Then he advanced again on all-fours; and so by slow degrees he worked himself up to the spot at which he aimed. He seized the things, and began to return as slowly as before. It would have been well if he had continued his caution, but when he had got about half way on his return, he took it into his head to run, laughing loudly at the success of his exploit. His figure moving alone, and his voice, roused the bulls. Up went their tails, and a terrific bellow made his laughter cease in a moment. I shouted to him to run faster. On he scampered, shouting loudly, “Fire, Harry, if you see one of them going to butt!” I was all ready, and he bravely held fast our property. The bull nearest to him, wildly whisking his tail and bellowing louder than ever, was close to him. I was in doubt whether or not to fire, lest I should still more infuriate the animal should I wound without killing him. In another moment I saw that there was no alternative. His horns were close to Jerry’s back, and in an instant he would have had him high up in the air. I shouted to Jerry to jump on one side. He followed my advice with wonderful coolness. I fired. My bullet hit the bull in the right eye. Down went his head, tearing into the ground. He rushed on almost close up to the rock, bellowing furiously, ploughing up the earth with his horns; and then, as if he had been making a voluntary summerset, he rolled right over, and was dead. It was indeed a triumph. I had no time to think about it then. On rushed Jerry, for the other bulls were coming up fast. Throwing aside my gun, I helped Jerry up the rock with the things he had so courageously recovered at the moment the other beasts were up to him.

“Bravo, Harry!” he sung out; “you’ve saved my life and shot the bull; you are a capital fellow!”

I proposed that we would not compliment each other till we had lighted our fire and cooked our steaks. As we had now some teal, we added a couple to our repast. We had some lucifers, so we soon made a glorious fire. Having plucked our teal, we poked them under the ashes, while, in true sportsman fashion, we toasted the steaks at the end of our ramrod. Having also pepper and salt, we had every reason to be satisfied with our repast.

“I say, I wish those other fellows were here,” said Jerry. “It would be great fun if they would come, thinking we were stuck in a bog, or spiked on the horns of bulls, and find us so jollily eating away up here. Here’s to your health, Harry. May you always make as good shots as you did just now, when you saved me from the butt of that beast’s head! Hillo! have a bit of your brother?” cried he, holding a piece of the steak at the end of his ramrod down towards one of the bulls, which came snuffing up towards us.

Thus we went on laughing and joking, perfectly contented, and thinking only of the present moment. We forgot that our fuel would soon be expended; that the position we occupied would be a very unpleasant one on which to pass a cold and perhaps rainy night; and that our friends would become really alarmed should we not make our appearance at the boat. These considerations did not begin to weigh with us till we had finished our dinner. When, however, we had time for reflection, we were not quite so well contented with ourselves.

“This is very good fun,” I remarked, “but I should like to know how we are to get away unless these beasts of bulls choose to raise the siege.”

“They’ll not do that in a hurry,” answered Jerry. “We must wait till night-time, when they can’t see us, and then make a run for it.”

“But how are we to find our way to the boat in the dark?” I asked. “I scarcely know whereabouts she lies.”

“To the westward, then, I think,” said he. “If the sky is clear we may steer by the stars, and we shall manage to find our way.”

I cannot say that I felt as hopeful as my friend professed to do, still there appeared to be no other means of escaping the bulls, and getting back to the boat. Should we wait till the morning the brutes would probably espy us, and run a tilt at us as before. We had provisions to last us for many days, but we had no liquid, with the exception of a little rum and water, which, although we had carefully husbanded it, was very low in the flask. A breeze had sprung up from the east, and it was already rather cold on the top of the rock; so, making up our fire, we sat down by it. We were amused at the way in which the bulls occasionally came and had a look at us; as much as, Jerry said, to ask, “Well, when are you coming down to let us give you a toss? We don’t intend to go away till we’ve tried it on. We are at home here, you know, so we are in no hurry.” Provoked, as he declared, at their impudence, he at last seized a bundle of burning grass which, he had twisted into a torch, and when a bull came near he hove it at his head. The flaming mass caught on his horns, and certainly had the effect of making him turn tail, and rush bellowing off from the rock; but it had another effect, and a most disastrous one, on which we had not calculated. Galloping on, the animal very soon freed himself from his burning head-dress by sending it into the middle of a large clump of tussac grass.

“Hurrah! the brute has made a famous bonfire!” exclaimed Jerry, clapping his hands as he saw the bright flames burst out from the easily ignited grass.

“Larger than we may bargain for,” I remarked, as in another instant, fanned by the wind, the fire began to run along the ground, and a neighbouring clump broke forth into a furious blaze.

“Well, that is a bonfire!” cried Jerry, still not comprehending the extent of the mischief he had commenced; but it was not long before he also saw with me what was going to occur. On went the fire, running along the ground as if it had been strewed with gunpowder—then for an instant playing round some tall clump, out of which directly afterwards forked flames darted forth, and quickly reduced it to ashes, while thick volumes of smoke curled upwards to the sky. No sooner did the bulls scent the smoke than up went their tails, and with loud bellows they dashed off through the grass, trampling it down in their fright.

“Now is our time!” I exclaimed; “the siege is raised; let us make the best of our way to the boat.”

Following the impulse of the moment, we seized our guns and the birds we had shot, and leaping off the rock, began to run in an opposite direction to that which the bulls had taken.

“Hurrah! the bulls are off. There they go like mad things, with their tails up in the air!” exclaimed Jerry, as we ran on.

“I did it finely—didn’t I? That bonfire was a capital idea. We’ve killed two, and the rest won’t be in such a hurry to butt at people in future.”

On we scampered, but we had not gone twenty paces before I seized Jerry’s arm and came to a stand-still, looking with dismay at the scene before us. The flames, blown by the wind, had caught the neighbouring clumps of tall grass. Dry as tinder, they were blazing up furiously. Our further progress was completely barred by the fierce flames which were rapidly extending on every side, and even then running along the ground towards us. We had already passed over a quantity of dry grass which, in another moment, might be on fire, and then all hope of escape would be lost.

“Back, back!” I exclaimed—“to the rock, to the rock! It is our only place of safety.”

With frantic speed we rushed back, the fierce flames, like hissing serpents, close on our heels. Hotter and hotter became the air—more dense and suffocating the smoke. Blinded and confused by it, we could scarcely find our way. A trip over the tangled grass-stalks we knew would be fatal. The flames were already scorching our backs. On either side we saw them leaping upwards round the tall tufts of dry herbage. We shrieked with pain and terror. The rock was reached, but to scale its steep sides seemed beyond our power. With a strength I did not believe myself to possess, I seized Jerry and hoisted him up. Grasping the clumps of grass and rugged lumps of rock, he scrambled to the top, and then leaning over, lent me his hand, and dragged me after him. Horror of what might be my fate enabled me to do what I otherwise could not have accomplished. At the same moment that I reached the top of the rock, the whole surrounding surface of the ground below became a sea of raging fire—leaping, tossing, hissing, roaring, the flames blown here and there by the wind; it was like the ocean in a storm. The devouring element came circling round us, the bright flames darting up like the tongues of huge serpents, eager to make us their prey. Bewildered by the scorching heat and black circles of smoke, we were nearly falling back into the fiery sea. I felt that I could not much longer retain my senses. I seized Jerry’s arm, and dragging him back, we retreated towards the centre of the rock. Even there the heat was so intense, and the smoke so suffocating, that it was with difficulty we could breathe.

“This is dreadful!” he exclaimed faintly. “Harry, I cannot stand it—I am going to die.” Saying this, he sunk gasping to the ground. At the same time I felt an agonising sensation in my chest, and fully believing that the same fate as his was about to overtake me also, I dropped down senseless by his side.

Chapter Six.

Our boat adventure among the Falklands.

A current of cool air was passing over the face of the rock, I conclude, for, to my no small satisfaction, I discovered that I was alive, and could very speedily sit up. The spectacle which met my sight, however, was terrific in the extreme. Far as the eye could reach, the whole country was in a blaze, the flames crackling and hissing as they fiercely attacked clump after clump of the tall tussac grass, while the ground over which they had passed was charred and blackened, the globular masses of the bog balsam glowing with fervent heat. The flames also still burned brightly close round us, and I saw no means by which we could escape from our position. As soon as I had collected my thoughts, I remembered my companion. I found a few drops of spirits and water in our flask. I poured them down his throat. He looked up.

“What! am I still alive?” he muttered faintly. “Oh, the bulls and the fire! what’s going to happen next?”

“That is more than I can tell you exactly,” I answered; “but I suppose, in time, the fire will burn itself out, and then we may get away from this. Let us watch it meantime. It is worth looking at.”

In a short time, after a few sighs, Jerry lifted up his head from the ground, and sat up. The sight at which we gazed was especially grand when a fresh puff of wind sent the flames rolling along, and throwing up forked flashes, as they found new fuel to feed on. All the beasts it had encountered had, of course, fled, terror inspired, before it; but numberless young birds must have been destroyed, and we saw hundreds of their parents hovering over the spot where their nests had been, in the vain effort to save their offspring. Some we saw fall into the flames, either from having their wings singed from approaching too near, or by being suffocated with the smoke. When we saw the effects of the fire, we were doubly thankful that we had not attempted to make our way across the island. Once surrounded by that fiery furnace, we must have been, to a certainty, burned to death. Suddenly a dreadful thought occurred to me.

“Jerry,” I exclaimed, “where can our friends be all this time? Is it possible that they can have been among the grass, and that the fire may have caught them up? Good Cousin Silas, and Mr Burkett, and jolly Mr Kilby. Poor fellows! we may be much better off than they are.”

“Oh, don’t talk about it,” said Jerry, shuddering; “it is too dreadful. I hope—I hope they will have got into a place of safety. Poor fellows! and it was all my doing. Do you know, Harry, I think we ought to pray for them. They may be requiring aid which no mortal man can give them.”

“Yes, indeed,” said I; “we ought—let us.” And together we knelt down on the hard rock, surrounded by the roaring flames, the thick black smoke curling around us, and sometimes almost suffocating us; and most earnestly did we offer up our prayers for the safety of our friends and for our own; and most thankful did we feel that we had been preserved from the dangers into which we had been thrown. I pity the person who is ashamed to acknowledge that he prays for protection both for himself and those he cares for. How should we go through the world without the protection of an all-merciful God? Often and often I have had proof of how utterly unable we are to take care of ourselves. Among the many blessings and advantages I have enjoyed is that of having had parents who taught me to pray, and not to be ashamed of praying. At school, when some poor, weak, foolish boys were afraid to kneel down by their bedsides to say their prayers, my brothers and I always persevered in the practice; and very soon we put to shame those who tried to interrupt us—and not only we ourselves, but other boys who did the same, were from that time never interfered with. Sure I am that our prayers were heard, and that the blessings we prayed for in earnestness and simplicity were given us. When we rose from our knees we found our courage much increased. The occasion had made us serious, and reminded us of our duties. I wish that it had been always so, that it were still always so; but even now as I write, I feel how much day after day I have left undone of what I ought to have done. Is it not so with all of us? Then what necessity is there for prayer for strength from above to enable us to do our duty. I say again, don’t be ashamed. Pray always; and if it is for your good, what you ask with faith God will most assuredly give you. He has said it, and his promises never fail.

Night was now approaching, but we could yet see no prospect of our escaping from our present position. The darkness, as it came on, served to brighten the effect of the fire; and as we gazed round on every side, as far as the eye could reach, we could see only the bright glare of the conflagration as it went on widening its circle round us. Now and then, as it reached spots more thickly covered with clumps of tussac grass, we could see the flames rushing upwards in pyramids of fire; but in other places a dense fierce glow could alone be perceived as the fiery wave receded from us. The sight we beheld was certainly a very grand one, and not easily to be forgotten; but our position was far from pleasant, and we would thankfully have found ourselves on board the schooner, or even in the boat under shelter of a sail. Our clothes were scorched, and so were our hands and feet; we were getting very hungry, and no fuel remained to enable us to cook our provisions, while now that the fire was removed from us the sharp wind made us feel very cold. When we considered the small area of the rock which had been at one time like an island amid the fiery ocean, we had more reason than ever to be thankful that we had escaped destruction. On further examination of the locality we discovered that the proximate cause of our escape was owing to the position of the rock near a piece of water, the extent of which we perceived when the fire in our neighbourhood had burned itself out. A narrow belt of grass only intervened between the rock and the water, the rest of the ground being a marsh covered with moist rushes, which did not burn. As the wind had for the greater part of the time blown over the pond, we were thus saved from suffocation. Had the rock been thickly surrounded by high grass, I think that we must have been burned to death; for, blown by the wind, the flames would have reached the very centre of the rock where we lay; and had we not been roasted, we should have been suffocated by the smoke. We crouched down on the rock, and sat for some time without speaking, watching the progress of the flames. The ground around us was still glowing with the remains of the fire. How long we had sat silent I do not know, when Jerry exclaimed, with animation—

“I say, Harry, why shouldn’t we have a steak off our old friend the bull? He must be pretty well done through by this time.”

“We will try him at all events,” said I; and descending the rock, we very soon had some fine slices of beef out of him. Finding that the ground was sufficiently cooled to allow our walking on it without burning our shoes, we advanced with our steaks stuck at the end of our ramrods to a glowing heap of bog balsam. Kicking it up with our feet, it soon sent forth a heat amply sufficient to cook our already half-roasted steaks. When they were done, collecting our guns, and bags, and game, we sat down on the lee side of the rock, and speedily silenced the cravings of hunger. We should have been glad of something to drink, but we were not yet sufficiently thirsty to induce us to get water from the pond. We felt very tired after all the exercise we had taken, and the excitement we had gone through during the day; but we were afraid to go to sleep lest the bulls should wander back, or something else happen we knew not what; besides, the anxiety about our friends kept us awake. At last, however, as we sat shoulder to shoulder under the rock, sleep stole imperceptibly on us, and I do not think that I ever enjoyed a sounder slumber than I did that night. When we awoke we rubbed our eyes, not knowing where we were. It was broad daylight. We rose to our feet, and after stretching our cramped limbs, we climbed to the top of the rock to look about us. The fire still raged over part of the island, which was enveloped in thick wreaths of black smoke; but to the west we caught sight of the blue sea, sparkling brightly in the sunshine, the intervening space being free from flames, though presenting a surface of black ashes, not a blade of grass apparently having escaped the conflagration. We thought, too, that we recognised a point round which the schooner had come just before dropping us in the boat. This encouraged us to hope that we might not be very far-distant from the place where we had landed. Without waiting, therefore, for breakfast, we determined at once to set off.

“Let us take some beef, though,” exclaimed Jerry; “it will prove that by our own prowess we have killed a bull at all events.”

The slices of beef were speedily cut, therefore, and strung on over our shoulders, and, like two young Robinson Crusoes, we set off in the hopes of soon relieving our anxiety about our friends. Nothing could be more melancholy than the appearance of the country through which we passed—cinders and blackness on every side. Every now and then we nearly tumbled into a glowing heap of bog balsam. It was sad, too, to see the number of nests, some with eggs in them, and others with young birds completely roasted; indeed, we passed many old birds burned to cinders. At last we struck the shore; but the face of nature had been so completely altered by the fire, that we were uncertain whether it was to the north or south of the creek at which we had landed. At last we agreed that we were to the south of the spot we wished to reach, so we stood along the beach to the north. We had not got far before we saw, a little way inland, where the grass had been, two black masses. We grasped each other’s arms. Were they the figures of men? Trembling with fear we hurried towards them. Though burned to cinders, still we had no difficulty in recognising them as two seals. The poor things, stupified and astonished by the fire, had probably had no time to waddle into the water before it had overtaken them. Perhaps seals, like fish, are attracted by fire, and the foolish animals had thought it a fine sight to behold. We had taken no breakfast, and were beginning to feel the want of food, but, at the same time, we were so thirsty that we did not feel as if we could eat. There was plenty of salt water; but that was not tempting, and would only have increased our suffering. Jerry sat himself down on the beach and said he could go no further; but I urged him to continue on, in the hopes that we might come soon upon a stream of water. I remember even then being struck by the immense quantities of kelp which fringed the shore. The long leaves and roots, where left by the tide, looked like pieces of thick brown leather; and we agreed that cups and bowls, and all sorts of things, might be made out of it. Kelp is a species of sea-weed of gigantic size, and its sturdy stems have been known to reach the surface from a depth of nearly three hundred feet; some of the wide-spreading weeds looking like tanned hides extended on the surface. Its roots cling with a powerful gripe to the rocks, on which alone it grows. Some of the stems are sufficiently strong to moor a boat with. I had a knife, the handle of which was made by simply sticking the hilt of the blade into a piece of the root while it was wet;—when the kelp dried the blade was firmly fixed in it. We had not gone far when a rippling sound saluted our ears; and running on, we found a bright, sparkling stream gurgling out of the bank. We put our mouths down to the spot where it gushed out, and oh, how we enjoyed the cool pure draught! Nothing could then have been more gratifying to our taste. We found this gave a remarkably keen edge to our appetites; so we sat down by the stream and produced a piece of the steak we had cooked the previous evening, and the remains of our biscuit. While discussing them, Jerry exclaimed that he saw something galloping along the shore.

“Is it a bull?” I asked, thinking that we might have to decamp, and looking out for a place of safety.

“It comes on very fast,” he answered. I jumped up, for I was sitting a little below him, and looked in the direction he pointed.

“It’s old Surley! it’s old Surley!” I shouted. “Our friends cannot be far-off.”

On came the old dog, and was very soon jumping up and licking our hands and faces, and wagging his tail, till it looked as if he would wag it off. He seemed in no way displeased at receiving a piece of beef; and as soon as he had got it he began to trot off with it in his mouth in the direction from which he had come. After going a few yards, however, he stopped and turned half round, and wagged his tail, as much as to say, “Come along with me; I trotted all the way on purpose to fetch you.”

We took up our guns to show that we were about to follow; and on this he began to jump, and frisk about, and bark, to exhibit his satisfaction, and then he stopped and went on a little, and then stopped again to see that we were following. In great hopes that he was leading us to our friends, we went on as fast as we could walk. Our path led us under some cliffs which were literally crowded with penguins and young albatrosses, or mollimauks. There was a regular encampment or rookery of them, extending for five or six hundred yards in length, and from one to two dozen in breadth. The nests of the albatrosses were nearly a foot high, and of a cup-like form. Feathers were just beginning to spread on the backs and wings of the young birds, and to take the place of the down with which they had originally been covered. Old Surley passed by without taking any notice of them. When we approached the spot they set up a loud gabbling, and spouted out an oily substance at us. The penguins were much more dignified, and looked at us with silent contempt. The surface of the sea near at hand was covered with the parent birds, and the air was alive with them as they flew backward and forward to carry food to their young; but as, following old Surley’s example, we did not attempt to molest their broods, they took no notice of us. The penguins were the most numerous, and appeared to be the original inhabitants of the spot. They were arranged with great regularity, those having just broken the shell being together, as were those with their feathers appearing, and also those expecting soon to fly. Never had I seen so many birds together. However, we were too anxious about our friends to stop, so we hurried on after old Surley. From the steady way in which he proceeded, we felt sure that he was leading us in the right direction. Nor were we deceived. Before long we recognised the creek where we landed, and soon we reached the boat drawn up on the shore. We rushed towards her to discover if our friends had lately been there. We examined her thoroughly; but after all we could not decide the point. Thus we remained as anxious as ever. While, however, we were engaged in this manner, we had not watched old Surley, and when we looked up he was gone. Just before we got into the boat, Jerry’s cap had tumbled off, and when he wanted to put it on again, though we hunted about in every direction, it was nowhere to be found. At first we thought of continuing our search for our friends, but we soon agreed that it would be wiser to stay where we were; that if they had escaped they would certainly return to the boat, and that if we went in search of them, the so doing would only delay our meeting. Being somewhat tired, therefore, we got into the boat, and drawing the sail over the after-part, we lay down in the stern-sheets and were soon fast asleep. We were both awoke by old Surley’s bark, and jumping up, we saw Mr Brand with his other two companions running along the beach. We jumped out of the boat and hurried to meet them. Mr Brand had Jerry’s cap in his hand, which old Surley had carried with him to show that he had found us. We speedily narrated our adventures to each other. They had been dreadfully alarmed on our account. It turned out as we had supposed—Mr Kilby had reached the sea-shore by himself, thinking that we were with the other party, while they supposed we were with him. However, they had not been very anxious about us till they saw the conflagration burst out, and guessed that we were by some means the cause of it. They were on their way to look for us, but the flames, like some mighty torrent, rushed towards them. They had with frantic haste to dart through the clumps of tussac and penguin grass to reach the beach. They hurried to the boat, and had barely time to leap into her, and shove off, before the flames, fanned by the wind, came crackling and hissing up after them, and would very probably have set her on fire. Cousin Silas was almost in despair about us, and Mr Kilby told me that he said he should never forgive himself if we came to harm. They were much interested with the account we gave them of our adventures; and as it was time for dinner, we agreed to cook and eat the trophies we had brought with us—the beef-steaks—before putting to sea. We were amused at finding that we had committed an illegal act in killing the bulls; but, as it was in self-defence, it was agreed that the act was justifiable.

It had been arranged that we were to rejoin the schooner on the evening of this day, at a point of land running out from an island a little to the west of where we now were, unless the weather should prove bad; in which case she was to come in for us. The weather, however, was very fine, so making sail we stood across the channel. The station to which she had gone was three or four miles further to the south. The water was very clear, and as we passed through the kelp we looked down in some places where it grew less thickly, and could see its vast stems and branches, with their huge leaves, springing up from the depth of many fathoms, like a forest of submarine oaks or Spanish chestnuts. We were amused with the flight of some of the ducks we put up. Mr Burkett called them loggerheads, racers, or steamers. Their wings will not lift them from the water, but whirling them round and round, they went scuttling and waddling away over the surface at a rapid rate, generally two and two—the loving husband and his wife—leaving a deep furrow in the water behind them. We burst into fits of laughter at the ridiculous manner in which they moved. They are fat and fishy, and not at all fit for food. I never expected to have seen more birds together than we had passed at the rookery under the cliffs in the morning; but we sailed by an island, of which birds of all descriptions had taken entire possession. There were various species of ducks, and geese, and snipe, and teal, and shags, and grebes, and penguins, and albatrosses, and sea-rooks, and oyster-catchers, and gulls with pink breasts, and many others, of whose names I have no note. As we believed that we had plenty of time, we landed near some cliffs to have a nearer look at them. So tame were they that we could knock down as many as we liked with our sticks; but it was murderous work, and as we did not want them to eat—indeed many were not fit for eating—we soon desisted from it.

Near where we landed the cliffs ran out into the sea, forming natural docks, and in one of these cliffs we discovered a large cavern, which seemed to run a great way under the ground. By climbing along the ledges of the rocks, somewhat slippery with sea-weed, at no little risk of a ducking, we got to the mouth of the cavern. The sides were composed of ledges rising one above another, and every available spot, as far as the eye could penetrate, was occupied by shags and divers, and other sea-fowls. There were thousands—there might have been millions of them, if the cavern ran back as far as we supposed it did. They in no way seemed alarmed at our intrusion, but allowed us to kick them over, without attempting to escape. However, at last, old Surley found his ways after us, and his appearance created the wildest hurly-burly and confusion. Such clapping of wings, and hurrying to and fro, and quacking, and shrieking, and whirling here and there, was never seen among a feathered community. They must have been very glad when we took our departure.

We had got into high spirits with our walk, and had begun to forget all about the bulls and the fire, when, as Jerry and I were in advance scrambling along the shore, we saw basking, a little way inland, among some tussac grass, a huge animal. “Why, there is an elephant!” I exclaimed, starting back “or a live mammoth, or something of that sort. I don’t like his look, I own.”

However, screwing up our courage, we advanced cautiously toward the monster, as he seemed no way disposed to move at our approach. Then we halted and examined him more narrowly. He was alive, for we saw his eye complacently looking at us, as Diogenes might have looked out of his tub at the passing crowd. He was fully twenty feet long, with a huge unwieldy body and a big head. The most curious thing about his head was a huge nose, or trunk rather, which hung down nearly half a foot below the upper jaw. His skin was covered with short hair of a light dun colour, and he had a tail and fins like a seal. While we were still in doubt what he could be, Mr Kilby overtook us, and laughingly seizing our hands ran up behind the monster.

“Are you for a ride?” he exclaimed; and before Jerry suspected what was going to happen he found himself seated on the monster’s tail! “There you go, on the back of a sea-elephant,” exclaimed Mr Kilby, giving the beast a poke with his stick. “Hold on tight, and he can’t hurt you.”

Jerry did hold on, not knowing whether to laugh or shriek out with fear. Away crawled, or whalloped rather, the elephant towards the water, Mr Kilby and I keeping alongside, ready to catch Jerry should he fall off. I soon saw there was no real danger, except the monster should roll round, when his weight would kill any one under him. Jerry also instantly entered into the joke of the thing, and was delighted with the idea of being able to boast that he had ridden on a sea-elephant.

“I shall be carried off into the depths of the ocean, and you, Mr Kilby, will have to be answerable to my disconsolate father,” he sang out, half laughing and half crying. “Good-bye, Harry; a pleasant voyage to you round the world. May you not be spirited away by a sea-monster like this. Oh! oh! help me off, though!—he’ll have me into the sea to a certainty, and then he’ll turn round and gobble me up—he will. I know he will.”

As the beast approached the beach, lest the joke might be carried too far, we lent him a hand to dismount, while his steed crawled on as sedately as before into the water, and, as he swam off, turned round his head, as much as to say, “Hillo, master, are you not coming too? Just try it, and see how you like a swim with me.” Mr Kilby told us that this animal had probably been sick, and had remained behind while his companions had taken to the sea, which they always do on the approach of summer. In autumn they come on shore, and live in large herds in marshy places by the sides of rivers, eating grass like cattle. The females, which are without the snout, suckle their young, of which they have generally two at a time. As they are very slow in their movements, to afford themselves time to escape they have sentinels posted while they are feeding, whose duty is to give notice of approaching danger. They are very good tempered and inoffensive, though the mothers will attack those who molest their young. Mr Kilby told us of a man who had his leg bitten off by a female, while he was attempting to carry away her cub. We now once more took to the boat. We had not been long under weigh before I saw Mr Burkett looking up anxiously at the sky.

“I don’t quite like the look of the weather,” he remarked. He had been a sailor, and had long been cruising about the islands. He was therefore our pilot on the present occasion. “Brand, can you make out the schooner anywhere?” Cousin Silas replied that he could nowhere see her. “Then something has delayed her at the station,” observed Burkett. “As the tide is making in that direction, and the wind is fair, we’ll run down there instead of crossing the channel to the point proposed.”

This plan was agreed to, though it might have been wiser had we kept to our original purpose. For some time we made fine weather of it, but getting into another channel, we found the wind first scant, and then directly against us. We had consequently no choice but to attempt to beat up to the station. This delayed us much beyond the time we expected to get there. We of course kept a bright look-out for the schooner, lest she should pass us; but evening was closing in apace, and still we had a long way to go. However, Mr Burkett said he knew exactly where we were, and that we should be able before long to make out a light in one of the cottages, which would guide us to the station. So we kept a press of sail on the boat, and looked out for the light. The boat stood well up to her canvas, but after passing high cliffs, and opening a channel from the sea, a sudden squall took her, and before we had time to cast off the sheet, she was over on her beam ends. Cousin Silas whipped out his knife and tried to cut the main-sheet, while I let go the head-sheets, and Burkett jammed down the helm; but it was too late—over went the boat. Our ballast, happily, consisting of water-casks, she did not sink, though she turned bottom upwards. It was a moment of intense horror and dismay. I felt myself under the boat, entangled in the rigging! I had no time for thought. I felt that death had come, far away from home and friends. The next moment I was dragged out and placed on the keel—Cousin Silas was my preserver. Where was poor Jerry, though? Again Silas dived, and brought him to the surface, handing him up near me. Mr Kilby and Mr Burkett were clinging on to the gunwale, and now they all climbed up; and there we sat, our lives for the moment preserved, but with very grave apprehensions as to what should become of us. Old Surley, when the boat capsized, kept swimming round her; and when we climbed up on her bottom, be followed our example, sitting as grave as a judge, thinking it was all right. Had we been near inhabited shores, or in a channel frequented by vessels, we might have had some hope of being rescued; but the schooner was the only vessel we could expect to pass that way, and the chances of her seeing us appeared very remote. Happily the wind fell, and there was not much sea, or we should have been washed off our insecure hold. The current was running very strong, and Burkett was of opinion that it would drift us down towards the station; but it was a question whether we could reach the place before the tide turned, and whether we should get near enough to it to make our cries heard. These discussions occupied us for some time, and perhaps assisted to divert our minds from the very awful position in which we were placed. Jerry and I were sitting near each other astride on the keel at the after-part of the boat. Cousin Silas had climbed up over the bows, while Burkett and Kilby hung on, lying their full length amidships.

“I say, Brand, don’t you think we could manage to right the boat?” said Burkett. “If we could do it we might paddle on shore somewhere, and we should, at all events, have no fear of starving.”

“We’ll try what can be done,” answered Cousin Silas, slipping off into the water, and we following his example. “All ready now—heave away.” We hove in vain. The sail, and something else heavy, which had got foul of the rigging, prevented us righting her.

“We must give it up, I fear,” cried Burkett at last. “The oars went adrift, I fear; and as we have no hats among us, we should have nothing to bail her out with.”

As it happened, we all wore light sea-caps, which would have helped us very little in getting rid of the water. With sad hearts we had to abandon the attempt, and again to climb up into our places, considerably exhausted with the efforts we had made. Night was now coming on rapidly, and the darkness which grew round us much increased the horrors of opposition.

“One thing I have to tell you,” said Burkett,—“there is always a light kept burning at the station. If we sight it, we shall know whereabouts we are, and be able to calculate our chances of reaching the shore.”

This, however, I thought very poor consolation. The light could be of no use to us unless the tide took us near enough to it to allow of our voices being heard on shore. Fortunately we could still distinguish the dim outline of the coast as we drifted by, or we should not have known in what direction to look out for the expected light. Cousin Silas said very little—he was anxiously looking out for the beacon, to us of such vital importance. How dreadful, indeed, was our situation! I dared not think—I dared not hope to escape—still I dared not turn my eye to the future. I waited with a sort of apathetic indifference to the result. No light appeared; the current was evidently setting us through the centre of the passage out to sea, in the direction of that storm-surrounded promontory, Cape Horn. We must abandon even the remote prospect of being drifted on shore on one of the southern portions of the Falklands. For some time there was a complete silence among us. It was broken by Cousin Silas.

“My friends,” said he, in a calm, grave tone, but without a sign of agitation, “has it occurred to you that we may soon be called upon to die? Are you prepared for death? Are you ready to stand in the presence of the Judge of all the earth?”

No one answered him. What were their thoughts I do not know. Mine were very terrible. I thought how hard it was for those young as Jerry and I were, to be summoned to leave the beautiful world which we expected to enjoy so much. I forgot that numbers young as ourselves had been called away.

“It is a fact we should all of us attempt to realise,” continued Silas. “We must be judged. Have we gone to the Fountain which washes away all sins, to be cleansed from our iniquities? Do you trust on Christ, and Christ alone, as our Saviour, who will acknowledge us as his disciples—who will present us purified from our sins for acceptance by the Father? My dear friends, I put before you these great truths, because our happiness or our misery for that eternity which we are now approaching depends on them. On what do you trust? Oh, be able to give a satisfactory answer before it is too late.” I will not give the conversation which followed. It was very brief. The result was, that each of us turned ourselves to prayer, and prayed as we had never prayed before. Had we even been more disposed to levity than we were, we could not but have felt the earnestness of the appeal made to us—the importance of the subject—the awful truths uttered by our companion. Darker grew the night—the sea-birds screamed above us—the distant cliffs grew dimmer, their outline less distinct—the rushing tide earned us rapidly onwards—the cold wind pierced through our wet clothes, and sent the spray dashing over us. Shivering, benumbed, hungry and faint, I felt as if I could no longer retain my hold. Death—death, I thought, was truly approaching. Still, notwithstanding all Cousin Silas had said, I did not so much picture the future; I did not even dread it as I mourned for what I was leaving—the distant home I loved so well, and all those who so dearly loved me. I thought of the anxiety the uncertainty of my fate would occasion, the grief when they learned the truth; and bitter tears burst from my eyes, not for myself, but for them I loved. I mention the state of my mind and feelings on this awful occasion for a very important object. It agrees with my own experience, and all I have heard from others placed in similar situations;—a person who has been living unprepared for death, for eternity, cannot on a sudden change the whole current of his thoughts, and fix them on the awful state into which he is hurrying. If he has not before found peace with God, there is little hope that he will seek it then. Oh no! the time to do that is while we have health and strength, and hope to have a long life before us to be consecrated to him. He has an eternity prepared for us—are we to give him alone the dregs of our short span of life? He gave us everything—are we to return him only a few hurried prayers and ejaculations of sorrow? We cry out for mercy—on what do we ground our expectations of receiving it? Remember that God is a just God—what, in justice, do we deserve? Oh! remember also that “in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man cometh;” and as you value your happiness for eternity, say not in your heart, “My Lord delayeth his coming.” I was thinking of home, and all I loved there. Suddenly a shout brought my thoughts back to the sad reality of our own position.

“The light! the light!—there it is—I see it clearly,” exclaimed Jerry, whose bright eyes had been constantly on the watch for the looked-for beacon.

“Where? where?” we all simultaneously cried out.

“At a right angle with the boat’s keel, as she now lies, on the port-side. There—there, it is quite bright.”

All of us looked intently in the direction he indicated. There was the light—there could be no doubt about it, beaming forth cheerfully through the darkness. It was still a mile or more to the south along the shore past which we were drifting, and we certainly were nearly a mile, if not a full mile, from the coast.

“How near do you judge that we shall drift to the station?” asked Cousin Silas of Burkett.

He considered a little—“Not much nearer than we now are,” he answered.

“What chance, then, have we of making ourselves heard, and getting help from them?” again asked Cousin Silas. “None,” said Burkett, in a sad tone.

“Then it must be done!” exclaimed Cousin Silas, in a firm tone. “Friends, one of us must endeavour to reach the shore by swimming. The risk is great. It is a long way, but it is the only means by which we may be saved. The strongest and best swimmer must make the attempt.”

“I wish that I were a better swimmer than I am,” said Burkett, “but I do not think I could do it.”

“I am but a poor one—I know that I could not,” added Kilby with a sigh.

“I’ll try, Mr Brand,” cried Jerry; “I can float for ever so long, if I can’t swim all the way.”

“I’ll go with you,” said I, preparing to throw off my clothing as Jerry was doing.

“No, no; neither of you lads must go,” exclaimed Cousin Silas, eagerly. “I was prepared for the risk when I made the offer. Harry, tell my mother, if you escape, how I thought of her to the last. Never forget what I have just been talking to you about. Gerard, your father will understand that I died in the discharge of my duty. Friends, good-bye; I trust that God, in his good pleasure, will enable me to bring you Help.”

Saying these words, he handed us his clothes, which we hung across the keel of the boat, and then he slid off into the dark water, and struck out directly for the shore. As soon as he was gone, old Surley seemed resolved to follow his example; and though we tried to hold him, he dashed off into the water, and away he went, swimming quietly by the side of Mr Brand.

“One good thing is, the old dog will perhaps help him if he gets tired,” remarked Jerry. “I’ve heard of them doing such things.”

Cousin Silas calculated that, being carried to the south by the set of the current he should thus land directly under the light. With calm, steady strokes, he clove his way through the yielding fluid. Not a sound escaped from his manly breast, nor could we detect the noise made by his slowly-moving hands, as they separated the water before him. How earnestly did we pray for him!—how eagerly did we watch him, till his head was shrouded in darkness.

Chapter Seven.

Rounding Cape Horn.

On drifted the boat! Darkness was above us—darkness was around us!—that small beacon-light the only source of hope. Without it we must have given way to despair. How eagerly, how intently we listened for the sound of Cousin Silas’s shout, should he have succeeded in reaching the shore! We came almost abreast of the light; not a sound reached our ears.

“It is a long distance for the voice of a man exhausted with swimming to be heard,” said Burkett. “He scarcely, too, could have reached there yet.” We thought not either. We relapsed into silence and listened.

“O Burkett! what of the kelp?” suddenly exclaimed Kilby. “Can he ever swim through it?”

My heart sunk within me as I heard the question; what man, even the strongest swimmer, freshly taken to the water, could force his way through those tangled masses of sea-weed? My noble-hearted cousin, was he then to be the first victim among us?

“The shore is sandy thereabouts, and unusually free from kelp. There is a natural dock where the schooner lies, and clear water all round.”

These words spoken by Burkett again revived my hopes. Still not a sound reached us. We could distinguish no signal from the shore to give us hope. Blacker and blacker grew the night. More keenly whistled the wind. The sea-birds’ shriek, echoing it seemed from the caverned rocks, sounded like a funeral wail. We fancied that many a fierce albatross was hovering over our heads, to pounce down on us when nature gave way before our sufferings.

“Harry, Harry!” said Gerard in a low voice, “I don’t think I can stand this much longer. Oh, my poor father! my poor father! how sorry he will be to think that I should often have done things which I knew would vex him.”

“Silence,” said Burkett; “we must try at all events and make ourselves heard, lest Brand should have failed to reach the shore. Now get ready for a shout; never fear cracking our voices.”

We were just then, as far as we could judge, directly abreast of the light. Every instant after this would be making our case more hopeless. How we shouted, again and again! but all we heard in return was the discordant shriek of the sea-fowl as they flew away startled at the noise. So we drifted on. In vain we shouted; our voices grew weary, and we gave it up in despair. Our eyes were still fixed on the light. We sunk lower and lower. We held on to the boat, but every moment increased our difficulty in so doing, the wind getting up, or rather we had drifted into a more exposed part of the channel, and the boat began to toss about, while the spray beat wildly over us. How long the time seemed! Every moment was counted as a minute; every minute as an hour. We had to gripe on to the keel with all our might, or we should have been washed off. With the greatest difficulty we could retain our hold. Yet we could still see the light dimly glimmering in the distance; but as that grew fainter and fainter, so did our hopes of being rescued. Scarcely could we see the light; dimmer and dimmer it grew; then we looked—it had disappeared! The rapid current hurried us on. The wide, storm-tossed Southern Ocean lay spread out before us. Darkness was around us. No land could be distinguished. Hope of life fled. We all prayed. We encouraged each other. We resolved not to give way to despair while life remained. We had to speak in a loud tone to be heard.

“Silence!” exclaimed Burkett abruptly. “I heard a sound. Yes, yes! See, see! Heaven be praised; that noble fellow Brand is safe, and we may yet be saved!” As he spoke, a thin stream of light shot upwards from the dark ocean, and broke into a thousand beautiful coruscations above our heads. “A rocket! the schooner had some on board for signals,” cried Burkett. “She is under weigh to look for us!”

About the light we had no doubt; but it was scarcely possible that he could have heard any sound. None, at all events, had reached our ears. A few moments before, we had been prepared to die; now life, with its many fancied advantages, occupied all our thoughts. With intense eagerness we looked towards the spot whence the rocket had ascended. All was darkness. Suddenly a light burst forth; of intense brightness it seemed, as it shed its rays over the foam-sprinkled, dancing water, and showed us clearly the spars, and rigging, and white canvas of the schooner. We shouted long and lustily, but we were too far off to be heard. Our hearts sunk, for she was standing away from us. Once more we shouted. Our shout was answered from a different direction from that where we had seen the schooner. Earnestly we listened. We could distinguish, too, the loud barking of a dog.

“Old Surley is safe, at all events. I am glad of that, poor fellow,” exclaimed Gerard. “I like that old dog.”

We watched eagerly. A light was observed dancing over the seas. Again we cried out. How cheery struck those sounds on our ears, which we had thought would never hear the human voice again. In less than five minutes a whale-boat dashed up to us, with old Surley in her bow, and at her stern sat Cousin Silas. We were saved! and before we could speak, we sank down on our knees, to return thanks to Him whose right arm had preserved us. A few words served to tell us how Cousin Silas had reached the shore a little way above the station, with old Surley as his companion; how kindly he had been received, and how promptly every one rushed to man the boats to hasten to our rescue.

In less than an hour we were at the station, when the schooner and the other boats soon returned. We were put to bed and rubbed with blankets, and had hot rum and water poured down our throats, so that very soon we recovered; nor did we suffer any material injury from the cold and wet to which we had been so long exposed. The schooner had been delayed, being unable to complete her cargo of seal-skins by the time expected. The next day we sailed, and in three days arrived safely in Stanley. We found the Triton ready for sea, and only waiting our return to sail. I was in the cabin when Captain Frankland first saw Gerard after hearing of our escape. Tears stood in the old man’s eyes as he took his son in his arms; and I saw by the expression of his countenance how he loved him. Mr Brand always stood high in his estimation; when he heard of what Silas had done, he stood higher still. I must own it, Jerry and I very soon forgot the awe-inspiring thoughts which had passed through our minds while we expected so soon to be called into eternity. Our chief concern was, having lost our guns and gamebags. We were, therefore, highly delighted when Burkett and Kilby made their appearance on board, each with a very good fowling-piece in his hand, with powder-flasks and shot-belts, and all other requisites, and begged our acceptance of them, in remembrance, as they said, of the adventures we had gone through together.

“Thank you, thank you,” we exclaimed; “we’ll not forget you, at all events, wherever we go.”

We called our guns after the good-natured donors, and had their names engraved on them. Many a wild-fowl did Burkett and Kilby knock over in various parts of the world. Old Surley accompanied our visitors. Mr Brand and he had become great friends after their long swim together; and Kilby, to whom he belonged, in the warmth of his heart presented him to Cousin Silas, who, very much to our satisfaction, did not refuse the gift. Thus old Surley became our companion in many a subsequent adventure. Just before we sailed, some very sad news reached the colony. It was the death of Captain Allen Gardiner and his six companions on the bleak coast of Terra del Fuego, where they had gone for the purpose of forming a missionary establishment, with the hope of spreading a knowledge of the Christian faith among the benighted inhabitants of those wild regions.

Captain Gardiner had left England in the autumn of 1850, with Dr Williams, a surgeon, who went forth as a catechist; Mr Maidment, who held the same office; Erwin, a carpenter; and three Cornish fishermen, named Badcock, Bryant, and Pearce. The Ocean Queen, the ship in which they took their passage, proceeded on her passage to the Pacific, after landing them at Banner Cove in Picton Island, which will be found near the entrance of Beagle Channel, about half way between the Straits of Le Maire and Cape Horn. They had with them two large boats, called the Pioneer and Speedwell, and two small punts, with tents and stores; but their supply of provisions appears to have been very scanty. Scarcely had they pitched their tents when the natives collected in considerable numbers, and threatened to attack them. To avoid collision, they ultimately took to their boats, intending to seek another spot where they might form their station. They put to sea; but in going out of the harbour the Speedwell, under charge of Dr Williams, got entangled among the rocks, and was nearly lost. All hands on board suffered much. Captain Gardiner had in the meantime found Bloomfield Harbour, which he thought would suit them, but during his cruise had lost the punts he had in tow. He at last returned to Banner Cove; but on sailing again his boat got on shore. Then it was discovered that all their powder had been left on board the ship, and so they had no means of killing the wild-fowl on which they depended chiefly for their support. Some of their provisions they buried here as a reserve. Again they put to sea; but their boats, which they clearly had not strength to manage, were beached on their way to Bloomfield Harbour. After a fortnight’s delay, they got afloat and sailed on to a spot about forty miles along that iron-bound coast, called Spaniards’ Harbour, which, after much consultation, they agreed would be the fittest place for their location. Here they arrived at the end of January 1851; but the Pioneer was driven on shore, and irretrievably wrecked. So they collected what stores they could save, and dragged them into a cave near the spot—her remains being hauled up on the beach. Dr Williams, meantime, carried the Speedwell further up the harbour, and anchored her there. Disasters followed them. A tide higher than usual washed into the cave, and swept away a large portion of their stores; then a hut they had built under the rook caught fire; and Captain Gardiner barely escaped with his life; lastly, scurvy broke out. Their provisions were running very short, so they sailed back to Banner Cove, to procure those they had left there. The provisions were found; but the scanty store could only last them a few months. They seemed to have a foreboding of the fate which awaited them. On conspicuous places on the rocks they wrote in large letters, “Go to Spaniards’ Harbour. Hasten! hasten! We are suffering from sickness—we are nearly starving!” Words of the same signification were written on paper, and buried in bottles where they might most likely be found.

They reached Spaniards’ Harbour by the end of March. Captain Gardiner took up his habitation at the cave, in the place he called Earnest Cove, to watch for those who, it was hoped, would come to their relief; while Dr Williams went to a more sheltered spot, up the harbour, at the mouth of Cook’s River, with the Speedwell. The months passed slowly by. Their food was all gone. They caught and ate mice, a fox, a fish half devoured, a penguin and shag—most unwholesome food—and then mussels and other shell-fish; and then the Antarctic winter set in; and lastly, through disease and starvation, one by one they died. They had kept a daily record of their proceedings—of their sufferings. While they had strength, they occasionally assisted each other. The last effort of the two survivors was to go on crutches to Cook’s River, to learn the state of Dr Williams, who had for long not come to them; but their weak state compelled them to abandon the attempt, and they returned to die in Earnest Cove. Maidment had been sleeping in the cave—he died there; Captain Gardiner near the remains of the Pioneer, which had been hauled up on the beach, and with which he had formed a slight shelter for himself from the weather. They had kept their journals to the last; and wonderful as it may seem, though storms had raged and rains had fallen, those journals had been preserved. Captain Gardiner’s last written words were addressed to Dr Williams, of whose death he was not aware:—

“Dear Dr Williams,—The Lord has seen fit to call home another of our little company. Our dear departed brother left the boat on Tuesday afternoon, and has not since returned. Doubtless he is in the presence of his Redeemer, whom he served faithfully. Yet a little while, and though ... the Almighty, to sing praises ... throne. I neither hunger nor thirst, though ... days ... without food ... Maidment’s kindness to me ... heaven.”

In October a schooner was despatched from Monte Video with provisions, under the charge of a Captain Smyley. Too late he reached Spaniards’ Harbour, and having just time to visit the Speedwell in Cook’s River, a gale springing up, he was compelled to put to sea without ever landing at Earnest Cove. In the meantime, Captain Morshead, in the Dido frigate, having sailed from England, was ordered to call at Picton Island with relief for the party. After continuing the search for some time, they were about to abandon it, when the inscriptions on the rocks were discovered, calling on them to go to Spaniards’ Harbour. There the Dido proceeded. Maidment’s body was found in the cave, Captain Gardiner’s by the side of the boat, with their journals and books scattered around. Their remains, with those found at Cook’s River, were carefully interred in a grave on the beach—the funeral service being read by one of the lieutenants. The colours of the ship and boats were struck half-mast, and three volleys of musketry fired over the graves. The journals—not a word of which was, as I have said, rendered illegible—were carefully forwarded to England, and, like voices from the grave, have undoubtedly instigated many to aid those who seek to spread the truth of the gospel among the savage inhabitants of those wild regions.

“Those noble Christian men have not suffered in vain; and yet they met the just doom of those who neglect to take those precautions which are necessary for the preservation of life. God has, in his infinite wisdom, given us reason and forethought; and that reason and forethought we ought to employ as much when engaged in his service, as when occupied about the ordinary affairs of life.” This remark was made by Captain Frankland, and I have often since reflected on it; and I trust that by repeating it, it may tend to guide the plans of those labouring in objects for the spread of God’s great name and glory, and all the blessings of the gospel throughout the world. The particulars of the narrative I have thus briefly given had just reached Stanley, and were the subject of conversation among all those who had any idea above that of the price of seal-skins and the profits of the last wreck on their shores.

With a fair wind and fine weather we sailed to double Cape Horn, intending to pass through the Straits of Le Maire. Often on the passage did Gerard and I and Cousin Silas talk of the fate of Captain Gardiner, and long to visit the spot where he and his brave companions died, and to see the strange wild natives it had been his ardent desire to bring to a knowledge of the truth. The favourable breeze carried us through the straits, and as the well-defined outline of the rocky shores of Terra del Fuego rose before us, we gazed with deep interest on a land which had been the scene of the sad catastrophe now occupying our thoughts.

To the west and north of us were numerous islands clustering together, of various sizes, with deep channels between them, most of them consisting of rocky mountains, often rising in perpendicular precipices from the ocean, and shooting upwards to a vast height in towering peaks and rugged crags, untrod by the feet of man or beast. Along the shores of these numerous isles and islets are gulfs and bays, and coves and creeks without number, often with level ground in their neighbourhood producing a somewhat rich vegetation, and forming a great contrast to the terrifically wild and barren tracts which are the chief characteristics of the region. Bold, precipitous headlands, with dark barren elevations behind them, appeared on our right as we skirted the northern shores of the straits. We made Cape Good Success, and a little way beyond it, crossed abreast of the mouth of Spaniards’ Harbour, into which rolls the whole set of the South Atlantic. Then standing on till near the entrance of the Beagle Channel, up which a little way lies Picton Island, we stood away towards Cape Horn, so as to steer close round it into the Pacific. Captain Frankland had often been here, and had once brought up in a harbour for many days from bad weather, when he had surveyed many of the passages in his boats. I was below; Gerard rushed into the cabin.

“We are off the Cape! we are off the Cape!” he exclaimed; “it is a sight worth seeing.” I hurried on deck, and thence I beheld rising not a mile from us, in all its solitary grandeur, that far-famed promontory Cape Horn,—a lofty pyramid frowning bold defiance towards the storm-tossed confines of those two mighty oceans which circle the earth. Dark clouds rested on its summit, foam-crested waves with ceaseless roar dashed furiously at its base, the sea-fowl flew shrieking round it; and as I gazed at it, I could not help thinking how an old heathen would have believed it the very throne of the god of storms. Well has it earned its fame. Scarcely were we round the Cape, when the wind, which had hitherto been favourable, shifted suddenly to the westward and southward, and dark clouds came rushing up from that quarter in hot haste, like a stampede of wild animals on the prairies of America. The long swell which had been rolling up from the east was met by a succession of heavy waves torn up by the fierce gale blowing along the whole course of the Southern Pacific, creating the wildest confusion on the world of waters. A few minutes before it seemed we were gliding smoothly on before a favourable breeze, under topsails and top-gallant-sails; now the ship was madly plunging into the foam-covered tossing seas.

“All hands shorten sail!” cried Mr Renshaw, the first officer.

“All hands shorten sail!” was repeated along the decks.

“I thought how it would be when I saw the nightcap on the top of the Horn,” muttered old Ben Yool. “We shall have a sneezer before we have done with it, and it may be this day month won’t see us round the Cape.”

Old Ben’s prognostications were not very pleasant, for we were anxious to be round the Cape among the wonders we expected to behold in the Pacific. Scarcely was the order given, than the crew were in the rigging. Top-gallant-sails were quickly stowed, three reefs were taken in the topsails, and the courses were brailed up and furled. This was done not a moment too soon: the mighty seas came rolling up mountains beyond mountains, with wide valleys between them, into whose depths the ship plunged down from each watery height as it came under her, seeming as if she could never rise again. Still once more she was lifted upwards among showers of spray, which flew off from the white-crested seas, deluging us fore and aft. Overhead the wild scud flew fast, the stern Cape looked more solitary and grand, and the sea-fowl with discordant shrieks flew round and round, closing in the circles they were forming till they almost touched our masts. The ship struggled bravely onward on the starboard-tack, rapidly increasing her distance from the land, but making very little way to the westward.

More than once I held my breath and clenched my teeth, as I felt the ship sending forward, and saw the wide, deep valley into which she was plunging, and the long, huge, watery height rolling on towards us, and looking as if it must overwhelm us. And then, when having, by a miracle it seemed, escaped the threatened danger, to see another valley just as deep and wide, and another mountain just as big—and to know that though we might rush ever so fast onward, we should find valley after valley just as deep, and mountain after mountain just as big for days and days, or weeks to come, perhaps; when, too, I heard the howling and whistling of the wind, and the creaking and complaining of the timbers and bulkheads, and the roar and dash of the seas,—I own that I could not help wishing that my feet were planted on some firm ground, and that I were enjoying the wild scene from a distance.

“O Jerry, where are we going to?” I exclaimed, when we first met the full swell of the Pacific.

“Going? why, to the west coast of South America, and to Robinson Crusoe’s Island, and to all sorts of wild places,” he answered, laughing. “We have rather a rough road before us, as you say; but never mind, Harry, you’ll soon get accustomed to it, and a little bumping is good for the digestion, they say.”

Jerry was right; in a very short time I was as much at home as any one in a gale.

The puff we had got off the east coast of America showed me what a gale was; but that was mere child’s play to the storm now blowing. When I thought anything was at its worst, when matters wore a most gloomy and threatening aspect, I could not but admire the coolness and self-possession of Captain Frankland and his officers. They seemed to take it all as a matter of course, and walked the deck as composedly as in a calm, only they had to hold on pretty tightly at times to the weather-railings, when the ship, with a sudden jerk, was sent over to port, and then back again almost as far on the other side. It was fine, however, to see the tall figure of Captain Frankland, as he balanced himself, leaning backward when the ship shot downwards into the trough of the sea; and I soon gained confidence from the perfect composure he exhibited. Very soon the wind came round more to the northward of west, and the ship looked up rather nearer to her course round the Cape. Our satisfaction, however, was soon destroyed by the redoubled fury with which the gale came down on us. The captain beckoned Mr Renshaw and Mr Brand to come to him. They stood in earnest conversation on the quarter-deck. Darkness was coming on—I could just see their figures grouped together. With startling energy Mr Renshaw had just given the order to furl the fore and mizzentop-sail, to heave the ship to, when there was a loud crash.

“Down! down for your lives!” shouted the captain. The main-topmast had been carried away. Masts, and yards, and blocks, and rigging, came hurtling down on deck in one mass of ruin, injuring two or three of our men, and knocking one poor fellow overboard. In vain an attempt was made to save him. To lower a boat would have been madness. His death-shriek sounded in our ears as he dropped astern, and soon sunk beneath the dark, troubled waters. We had little time to think of his fate—the fate of many a gallant seaman. Our own danger was great. The mates sprung forward to clear the wreck, and to secure as well as could be done the other masts. The fear was that the fore-topmast and mizzen-topmast, if not the lower masts, deprived of their support, might go likewise. The wreck was quickly cleared, and the masts got on board. To stand on or to heave to were equally out of the question. It was necessary to put the ship before the wind. The mizzentop-sail was furled, the helm put up, and the ship was to be wore round. Now came the danger. In wearing, if a sea strikes a ship abeam, there is a great risk of her bulwarks being stove in, and of everything being washed from her decks. Every one held on to whatever he thought most secure. The ship wore steadily round. A huge sea came rolling on, but already the fore-yard was squared; it struck her on the counter, and she flew unharmed before it. Instead, however, of running to the eastward, she was headed up towards the land. No one turned in that night. Sharp eyes were on the look-out for land. Cape Horn, like some gigantic spirit of the deep, was seen towering up amid the raging ocean. On we kept. Once more we were under shelter of the land, the mizzen-top-sail was set, and we ran up just outside those islands which cluster thereabout so thickly, till at daylight we were off the mouth of a channel, up which we ran, and dropped our anchor in a fine land-locked harbour.

“We are far better off here than battering about outside, and knocking the ship to pieces,” observed Mr Pincott, the carpenter. “Now, if we could but get a fresh spar for a topmast, we should soon be all ataunto.”

As, however, we were not likely to find spars large enough for the purpose in this part of the world, it was necessary to make use of the broken one. While this work was going on, it was resolved to hold some communication with the natives. A boat was lowered, under charge of Mr Brand—Gerard and I and Mr McRitchie going in her, and two hands, as no more could be spared from attending to the repairs of the ship. We were all armed, but the captain directed us to be very careful in our intercourse with the wild people we might meet. We had with us some trinkets, glass necklaces, bracelets, rings, gilt lockets, knives, scissors, and other trifles, to barter with them, or to win their good-will. After pulling some way, we reached a sandy cove surrounded with trees of good height, and a quantity of brushwood below them. We saw several wigwams among the trees, and two canoes hauled up on the beach. Beyond the wood were ranges of high hills, the nearest ascending almost precipitously from the water, while those further off were worthy of the name of mountains. It was altogether a very beautiful and attractive scene—the more so, that it was totally unexpected in that region. No natives were visible, so we ran the boat on shore, and landed. The wigwams were in shape like those of the North American Indians composed of a number of long sticks stuck in the ground in a circle, and bending inwards till their other ends met, and were secured together with a band. Instead of being covered with birch bark, these were thatched very neatly with dry grass or reeds, and formed very warm abodes. In the centre a pile of ashes showed where their fires were placed. Their canoes were very like those of North America, being built of bark, with ribs neatly formed, and kept in shape by several beams athwartships secured to the gunwale. Near the wigwams were two other partly finished canoes. While we were examining these rude habitations and means of locomotion, a shout from the two men left in the boat made us look up, and in an opening in the wood we saw some dozen or more savages advancing stealthily towards us. Mr Brand, the instant he saw them, told us to fall back behind him; and he then advanced alone, patting his stomach,—the sign of amity among these people. It is as much as to say, I suppose, “I have had a good dinner, and I hope that you have had one also.” They, in return, all shouted and gesticulated most vehemently, pointing to their mouths in their eagerness to speak, not being aware, probably, that we did not understand a word they said; however, at last they began to pat their stomachs, and then we knew that all was right. Accordingly we advanced to meet them, patting our stomachs with one hand, and holding out the other to grasp theirs. They were of a brownish copper colour, well formed and athletic, with long shaggy hair—their only clothing being a piece of skin thrown over one shoulder. In such a climate as that of Terra del Fuego, their being able to go without clothes shows that they must be of a very hardy nature. We were soon surrounded by some thirty or more of these very unprepossessing gentlemen, all talking most furiously to us or at us, some patting us on the back, and others examining our handkerchiefs, and caps, and buttons, or any article of our dress they could get hold of. We patted them on the back in return, but as they had no clothes, we took hold of their hair and admired it; and Jerry must needs catch one fellow by the nose, and assured him that he had a very handsome nob! In this way we in a short time became excellent friends, though, as we had no interpreter, we could only communicate with each other by signs. When they found that we did not understand what they said, they hallooed louder and louder; and as they had voices of most stentorian power, they at last spoke to us in a perfect roar, till they almost deafened us! By their tones we fancied that they were saying, “Well, if you cannot understand that, you must be desperately stupid fellows.”

When they found that we had come as friends, they invited us to accompany them to the village, or, as Jerry called it, their wigwamment, about a quarter of a mile off, in a sheltered nook among the trees. Fearing no treachery, we agreed, and we walked along in the most amicable way, they slapping us on the back, and we slapping them, while they often indulged in the most uproarious shouts of laughter. Stopping suddenly, they asked us by signs if we were hungry, and immediately gathered a number of fungi, which grew in clusters round the roots of a tree which Mr McRitchie told us was an evergreen beech. They handed them to Jerry and me, at the same time patting us on the stomach.

“What are these toadstools for, old gentleman?” exclaimed Jerry, holding them up and laughing. “They don’t want us to eat these, surely, for our luncheon?”

“They do, though,” said Mr McRitchie. “They are the edible fungi. Just take a piece; the people hereabouts eat them largely.”

Jerry on this took a large mouthful, but spat it out, declaring that he would just as soon eat shoe-leather. I ate a small piece, but thought it tasted very insipid, and not very digestible. The savages looked astonished at our want of taste, and, to show that they appreciated the production more than we did, crammed quantities of it into their mouths.

“Come, Mr McRitchie, for the advancement of science you must eat some!” exclaimed Jerry, handing him a big fungus.

This was a favourite expression of the doctor’s; nor, to do him justice, was he slack to put his principles into practice. I have since often remarked in England the roots of beech trees completely surrounded with masses of fungi not unlike them in appearance. The doctor ate enough to redeem our character with the savages, and then we proceeded in the same amicable way as before, till we reached their village. It consisted of ten wigwams, some of considerable size, capable of holding twelve or more people. They were neatly thatched with straw, and their doorways had a piece of carved wood, so as to form an arch overhead. Several little, long-backed, sharp-eyed, hairy terriers came barking out and snapping at our heels, and wore very annoying till they were called off by their masters. In and about the huts were a number of women and children, the former far from unpleasant in their looks, though as dirty as the men. Indeed, from their appearance, we had reason to doubt whether any of the tribe had ever washed in their lives. The women had a modest, retiring look; and the children seemed in no way frightened when they saw us. Cousin Silas had a happy knack of making friends with savages, and especially with their children. His secret, I found, was great gentleness. While Mr McRitchie, Jerry, and I sat down on a log facing the huts, he advanced slowly towards the nearest group of children with some bracelets and lockets, which he now first produced, singing and dancing at the same time, so as to attract their attention. They stared at him with open eyes, but showed no inclination to run away till he got near enough to slip the string of a locket over the neck of the tallest child—a little girl—and a bracelet over the arm of another; and then, taking their hands, he began slowly to move round and round in a circle, beckoning to the rest of the children to join hands. This they readily did, and then two or three of the men—their fathers probably—joined the circle, and we got up and united our hands to those of the savages, and then several of the women came; and there we were—Mr Brand, and the doctor, and Jerry, and I, and the savages—men, women, and children—all singing, and dancing, and jumping, and laughing like mad, till we were fain to stop for want of strength to go on. To show their satisfaction, the savages gave us all round some over-affectionate hugs, which, besides nearly squeezing the breath out of our bodies, were unpleasant on account of the very dirty condition of the huggers. We would not tell them that we did not like it, so we had to submit to the ceremony as often as they thought fit to perform it, and to put the best face we could on the matter. The dance over, they invited us into a wigwam. It was ten feet in diameter, with a fire on the ground in the centre. Round it were heaps of dry grass, on which apparently they slept; while bunches of grass were hung to the roof, probably to dry. The smoke found its way out of the doorway, and through a small aperture, where the poles at the apex joined. There we all sat round the fire, squatting on our heels, and talking away as fast as our tongues could move, as if we were keeping up a very interesting conversation. The smoke and heat, not to mention the want of cleanliness in our hosts, made us very glad to get out again into the fresh air. Besides the fungi I have spoken of, the Fuegians live chiefly on fish and the shell-fish they gather on the rocks, though they eat birds and grubs of all sorts—and, I fancy, nothing comes amiss to them. We observed that a platform of clay was placed in each canoe, on which to place a fire. There was also a sort of well at the bottom of the canoe, and out of it a man was constantly employed in bailing the water, which leaked in through the seams. The men we met were of good size, and robust; but their legs were thin and weak, owing to their sitting so much in their canoes and walking so little. When by degrees we produced our gifts, and distributed them among the party—men, women, and children—their pleasure knew no bounds. They danced, and laughed, and shouted into our ears louder than ever; so that we thought it would be as well to be off while they remained in such excellent humour. They were much astonished at seeing the doctor pull out his note-book and write in it. The doctor, to indulge them, made a few clear strokes; and a young man, who had attached himself to Jerry and me, imitated them in a wonderful way, considering his rough and uncouth hand. We had heard them making a number of strange sounds, and at last we discovered that they were imitating our words.

“Good-bye,” said Jerry, as we got up to go away.

“Good-bye,” replied our young friend as clearly as possible, seeming fully to comprehend the meaning of the words.

“You speak capital English,” said Jerry, laughing.

“Capital English,” repeated the savage, shouting with a laughter which was quite catching, as if he had said something very clever.

Then, having gone through another process of hugging, we proceeded to the boat, accompanied by our new friends. Having refitted the topmast, we waited till the gale had blown itself out; and once more putting to sea, we had a very quick passage round Cape Horn, now no longer clothed in storms, to Valparaiso, the sea-port of Santiago, the capital of Chili.

Chapter Eight.

Adventures in Chili.

One morning, when it was my watch on deck, soon after dawn the cheery sound was heard of “Land on the starboard-bow!” I looked out; and as daylight increased, there appeared, as if rising out of the ocean in their desolate grandeur, capped with snow and towering high above the clouds, the lofty summits of a range of mountains trending away north and south far as the eye could reach. They were the giant Cordilleras. On we sailed with a fresh breeze. The sun ascended with stately pace from behind them, and then a mist arose and shrouded their base. Hour after hour we ran on, and yet we seemed not to have got nearer; till once more the mists lifted, and wild, rocky, and barren heights sloped upwards before us from the ocean. Full sixty miles were gone over from the time those snowy peaks were first seen till we reached Valparaiso, far away down at their base. We must have been a hundred and twenty miles off them at sunrise.

Coming so suddenly from the wild regions of Tierra del Fuego and the unattractive Falklands, Valparaiso appeared to us a very beautiful place. It is very irregularly built—at the bottoms of valleys, on the tops of hills, and on their steep and sometimes rugged sides, rising directly out of the blue ocean, with a succession of range after range of lofty mountains behind it the Cordilleras towering in the background beyond all. Gerard and I were very eager to get on shore; so was old Surley. He wagged his tail, and ran to the ship’s side and barked, and looked up in our faces and looked at the land, as much as to say, “How I should like to have a scamper along the beach there!”

“Yes, you may all three go, if Mr McRitchie will take care of you,” said the captain, laughing. Fleming got leave to accompany us, as he had been unwell for some weeks, and the captain thought a trip on shore would do him good. We found that there would be time to get right up among the mountains, where we hoped to find some good sport, our great ambition being to kill a guanaco—the name given to the llama in its wild state. A number of boatmen good-naturedly helped us to land on the beach, with our guns and carpet-bags. It was market-day; the market was full of vegetables and other provisions, and the place bore a very cheerful aspect. We heard that, in spite of the want of level ground, the town has very rapidly improved in the last few years. The country generally, since order has been established, has become prosperous. Everybody praises the climate, and perhaps there is not a finer in the world; for, although hot in summer, the air is dry and pure, and tempered by the sea-breeze, which regularly sets in every forenoon. In the harbour were two or three old hulks, the remains of the fleet commanded by Lord Dundonald, when he performed one of his most gallant exploits—the cutting out of the Esmeralda frigate, belonging to the Spaniards, from the port of Callao. Fleming was with him, and told me all about it.

“What a lucky adventure!” I remarked.

“No, Mr Harry, it wasn’t luck, it was prudence and forethought which gained the day with him then at all times. There never was a more prudent, and never a braver man. He feared nothing, and took every precaution to insure success. We were three days getting ready. We were all dressed in white, with a blue mark on the left arm—160 blue-jackets and 80 marines—and armed with cutlass and pistols—all picked men. Every man knew exactly what he had to do—some to attack one part of the ship, some another; others to go aloft and loose pails, some to the main, and others to the foretop. The admiral sent all the ships of the squadron out of the bay, except his own flag-ship. At midnight we were told off into fourteen boats. A line of booms had been placed across the mouth of the inner harbour, with only a narrow entrance. Just then the admiral’s boat, which led, ran foul of a Spanish guard-boat; but he whispered to the crew, that if they gave any alarm he would kill every one of them; so they held their tongues, and we were quickly alongside the Esmeralda. The Spaniards were asleep, and before they had time to seize their arms, we were upon them, the frigate’s cables were cut, and we were running out of the harbour. Had the admiral’s directions been followed in all points, we should have cut out every craft in the harbour, and a rich treasure-ship to boot; but he had traitors serving under him, and all was not done which ought to have been done.” Fleming told me also how Lord Dundonald took the strong forts of Valdivia, to the south of Chili, by storm, with his single ship’s company; but I must not now repeat the story.

We engaged two calèches, rattle-trap vehicles, like gigs with hoods, to carry us to Santiago, the capital of Chili. One horse was in the shafts; another on the left side was ridden by a postilion on a high-peaked saddle, with a long knife at the saddle-bow; he being dressed with a straw hat over a silk handkerchief tied round his head and the ends hanging down behind, a short jacket, coarse pantaloons, high boots, huge spurs, and a poncho hanging over one shoulder. Jerry and Mr McRitchie went together, Fleming accompanied me, and we had old Surley, who sat up between our legs, looking sagaciously out before him. Away we rattled. The road was much better than we had expected to find it in a place so far away from England as this seemed. My idea was, that once round Cape Horn, we should not see anything but painted savages or long-tailed Chinese; and I was quite surprised to find good roads and carriages in Chili. We slept two nights on the road; admired Santiago, which is full of laughing gas, the air is so fine; it stands 1700 feet above the level of the sea. Then we started off on horseback towards the Cordilleras, to a spot called the Snow Bank, whence Santiago is regularly supplied with snow all the year round. At the capital we fell in with an English sailor, Tom Carver by name, who had served with Fleming under Lord Cochrane, and having married a Chilian wife, had settled in the country. He came as our interpreter, for without him a guide we procured would have been of very little service. Leaving our horses at a small rancho, or farm-house, we set off with our guns, Fleming and the guide carrying most of the provisions, though we each of us had a share. The scenery was wild and grand in the extreme, consisting of the snow-capped peaks of the Andes, of rugged heights, and of dark glens and gorges, with precipices which went sheer down many hundred feet below us. We had not gone far before we came to a suspension bridge made of hides, cut into strips and twisted together, thrown across a fearful gorge. Bundles of sticks placed on the ropes form the road. It was full of holes, and as I looked through, far down into the torrent foaming below, I could not help feeling how very disagreeable it would be to slip through. Surley followed at my heels, and even he did not like it. We now reached a wide valley, on the sides of which, far up on the mountains, we descried a number of animals, which Jerry and I concluded, without doubt, were the much-desired guanacoes. Mr McRitchie, with Simmons, the sailor, and the guide, were ahead; Fleming was with us; so we agreed, as we could not fail of being seen by our companions, we would climb the mountain in chase of the game. Up, up we climbed, old Surley after us. He seemed to think it very good fun; but Fleming, not accustomed to such exercise, was soon blown.

“Come along, Fleming,” cried Jerry; “we shall soon be up to the beasts; don’t give in, man.”

“No, Mr Gerard, you go on, and leave me to follow you slowly,” answered Fleming. “If I stop, you’ll easily find me again.”

We, of course, were ready enough to follow this advice; so Jerry, Surley, and I, pushed on up the mountain as fast as we could climb towards the nearest herd of guanacoes. They were of a light-brown colour, of about the size of a stag. I should describe the animals we saw as having small heads, with large and brilliant eyes, thick lips, and ears long and movable. The neck was very long, and kept perfectly upright, while the haunches were slightly elevated; so that they looked somewhat like little camels—the purpose of which, indeed, they serve when domesticated. We could see several herds in different parts on the side of the mountain. There was one low down near the path in the direction the doctor and his companions had taken. They were feeding quietly, when one looked up, then another, and away the whole herd scampered at a tremendous rate up the mountain. We thought that the sight of the doctor’s party had put them to flight; and it showed us that we must be cautious in approaching the herd we had marked. Old Surley was very eager to be after them, and we had great difficulty in keeping him back.

The air was keen and at the same time hot. There was not a cloud in the intense blue sky, and the rays of the sun came down with great force, and blistered our skin and peeled our noses till we were afraid of touching them; but we did not think much about that trifle while the guanacoes were in sight. Concealing ourselves as much as possible behind rocks and bushes, and here and there an evergreen quillay-tree, we got nearer and nearer to them. Sometimes we got behind clumps of the great chandelier-like cactus, whose sturdy green twisted stems afforded us capital shelter.

“It is lucky we are not very big, or we should not be able to hide ourselves so well,” observed Jerry as we crept on. The valley lay far below us, with steep precipices and a brawling torrent, with rocks and shrubs scattered about; and high above us wild jagged peaks and snow-covered mountain-tops. The stillness of the air was most extraordinary. Not a sound reached our ears. Never have I been in a wilder or more magnificent scene. I do not know what our four-footed companion thought of it, but he certainly enjoyed the idea of catching a guanaco—so did we, indeed, more than anything else. We had got within five hundred yards of the nearest without being discovered. Hitherto we had gone on very cautiously. Our eagerness overcame our discretion. We left cover and ran on exposing ourselves to view.

“Stop, stop, Harry!” sang out Jerry. “We are near enough to fire; stop and let us recover our wind.” The advice was good, and I was about to follow it, when one of the guanacoes turned his head and saw us. Before we could bring our rifles to our shoulders, they were off like the wind. Jerry was going to fire after them but I stopped him, pointing to another herd a short distance further off, along the side of the mountain.

“You’ll frighten them too if you do,” I observed. “Let us try to get up to them more cautiously.” One great difficulty was to keep Surley back, or he would have followed the herd till he had caught one of them, or broken his neck over a precipice. Consoling ourselves for our disappointment with the hopes of getting near enough up to the next herd to fire before being seen, we scrambled on as before. Now and then we glanced behind us to mark the spot where we had left Fleming, while we kept an eye in the direction Mr McRitchie had taken; and on that broad exposed mountain-side, we did not think it possible that we could miss each other. We climbed on, therefore, without any misgivings as to how we should find our way back again. I fastened my handkerchief through Surley’s collar to keep him back. He was thus able also sometimes to help me up a steep place or a rock quicker than I could have got by myself. Jerry followed close behind me. The distance was, we found, greater than we expected to the next herd. We were, fortunately, to leeward of them, and not one of them noticed our approach. We halted behind a thick cactus. There was a rock some three hundred yards further off, and within a good shot of the herd.

“Now, Jerry, you mark the fellow to the left; I’ll take the one to the right,” said I, almost trembling in my eagerness. “Don’t let us fire till we get up to the rock; then rest a moment, and it will be hard if we don’t hit one of them. If we miss, we’ll see what Surley can do for us.” Jerry nodded his agreement to this proposal, and crouching down, we crept on till we reached the rock. For an instant we waited to recover breath, then we lifted up our rifles and rested them on a ledge of the rock. It would be impossible to have got a better aim. Crack—crack—we both fired. Off scampered the herd up the mountain.

“We’ve missed! we’ve missed!” we cried. “Oh, bothera— No, no! there’s one fellow staggering. The one I fired at,” I exclaimed. “Hurrah!”

“There’s another! See, see!—he’s over—no! he’s up again, and away with the rest,” sung out Jerry. “Let Surley after him, Harry. He’ll bring him down. Hurrah, hurrah, what luck!”

With such like exclamations we darted from behind our cover, and ran as fast as our legs could carry us up to the guanaco I had hit; while Surley, hounded on by us, went off in hot chase after the animal Jerry had wounded. We were soon up to the guanaco I had hit. Poor beast! he staggered on, and then over he went on his side. He looked up at us with his mild eyes, as much as to say, “Oh, you cruel white men, who come from far-off across the seas, you have well-nigh destroyed the original people of the country, and now you would wage war against us, its harmless four-footed inhabitants.” He tried to spit at us, but his strength failed him, and in an instant more he was dead. As soon as we saw this, off we went after Surley. He had singled a guanaco out of the herd, and marks of blood on the grass showed that it had been wounded. Old Surley was among them. Then one beast was seen to drop astern. Slower and slower he went, kicking out all the time at the dog, who ran leaping up to try and catch hold of his neck. He got a kick, which sent him rolling over, but he was up again.

“Hurrah!” cried Jerry. “He has him now, though. Remember, Harry, that’s the beast I shot.”

On we ran and clambered to get up with Old Surley and the guanaco, which was still struggling to get away. He made several desperate springs forward, but he struck out with his heels and spat in vain, for the stanch dog was not to be shaken off. He was rapidly getting weaker—he struggled less violently—at last over he came, and we saw there was no chance of his escaping. We stopped, and, like good sportsmen, loaded our rifles in case they might be required. By the time we got up the guanaco was dead, and Old Surley was standing over him, looking wonderfully proud of his victory. What was to be done with the game now that we had got it? was the question. We could not carry it away, for each animal was fully four feet high, and eight or nine long. We looked about for marks by which we should know the spot where the last killed lay. We thought that we had found some that we could not mistake, but, still more certainly to recognise it, we piled up all the stones and bushes we could collect on a rock, till we had made a considerable heap, which we thought would be conspicuous at a distance. We then began to consider that it was time to look about for our companions. We could nowhere make them out, but we had no doubt as to easily finding the spot where we had left Fleming. First, however, we had to go and mark the place more distinctly where we had left my guanaco. It took us as long to descend the mountain as to climb it; for we often came to steep places which we had to make a circuit to avoid. We reached the edge of a small precipice, where we had a tolerably clear view of the hill-side below us, and of the valley beyond. In ascending, we had passed on one side of the rock. We looked about to discover the spot where we had left the guanaco. There it lay; but not a hundred yards from it we saw another animal approaching it by stealthy steps. We watched it narrowly.

“It must be a big cat!” cried Jerry.

“No, no; it is a puma—the South American lion,” I sang out. “Oh, if we can but get a shot at him it will be fine!”

He was so intent on the prospect of a feast off the dead guanaco that he did not see us. He crawled up near it, and then sprang on the carcass. We did not like to have our game destroyed, so we could not help shouting out, “Get off from that, you beast!” Our voices startled the puma, and looking round and seeing us, and Surley approaching with an angry growl, he trotted off down the mountain. We agreed that he was probably an old fellow, and that, having lost his activity, he could not catch the live animals. We both fired, but we were not near enough, and missed him. Away he bounded down the mountain without once stopping to look behind him.

“I vote we take some slices out of our friend here,” said Jerry. His suggestions were generally very practical. “I don’t see why we should run the risk of losing our dinner altogether. The chances are that another of these pumas finds him out and leaves us but poor pickings.” I agreed to the wisdom of the suggestion, and so we supplied ourselves with enough meat for all the party. We then raised a mark near our guanaco as we had done before.

“That will do famously,” said Jerry, finishing the heap with a long piece of cactus. “Now, let us go and look for Fleming. The doctor and guides will be back soon. I’m getting very hungry, I know, and if they don’t come I vote we make an attack on the prog baskets without them.”

“Let us find Fleming and the baskets first,” I answered; for my mind began to misgive me about finding him as easily as we had expected. The chase after the guanacoes had led us a long way, and I found it very difficult to calculate distances or the size of objects in that bright atmosphere, where the proportions of all surrounding objects were so vast. Still I did not express my fears to Jerry. We kept our eyes about us, on the chance of falling in with another puma; for we agreed that it would be much better to be able to talk of having killed a lion than even two harmless llamas. On we went for a long time, scrambling over the crags, and precipices, and rough ground.

“Where can Fleming have got to?” exclaimed Jerry at last; “I am certain that we are up to the spot where we left him.” I thought so likewise. We shouted at the top of our voices, but the puny sounds seemed lost in the vast solitudes which encompassed us. “I think it must have been further on,” said I, after I had taken another survey of the country. So on we rushed, keeping our eyes about us on every side.

We had gone on some way further, when Jerry laid his hand on my arm. “What is that, Harry?” he exclaimed. “It is the puma! See the rascal how stealthily he creeps along! He’s after some mischief, depend on it. I hope he won’t go back and eat up our guanacoes.”

“We must take care that he does not do that,” said I. “We’ll stop his career. Is your rifle ready. We’ll creep after him as stealthily as he is going along. He is so busy that he does not see us, and the chances are that we get near enough to knock him over.”

“Come along then,” exclaimed Jerry; and, imitating the puma’s cautious mode of proceeding, we rapidly gained on him. We had got up almost close enough to fire when Jerry whispered, “O Harry, what is that? It’s Fleming, dear! dear!”

Just below where the puma was crouching down ready to make his fatal spring, lay the form of the old seaman; but whether he was dead, or asleep, or fainting, we could not tell. There was not a moment to be lost. In another instant the savage brute would have fixed his claws in his throat. We rushed on—so did old Surley. The puma had actually begun his spring when we fired. Both our bullets took effect, but still he leaped forward. He fell close to Fleming. Our shipmate sprang up on his knees, but it was only to receive the claws of the brute on his chest. The blow knocked him over. We were running on and shouting all the time, to distract the attention of the puma.

“He is killed! he is killed!” cried Jerry. “No.” In an instant, with a clasp-knife in his hand, Fleming was up again and plunging away at the throat of the brute. He rose to his knees. He gave stab after stab, and prevented the puma from fixing its jaws on his own throat, which seemed the aim of the enraged animal. The brave Surley was at his flanks tearing and biting at them with all his might.

“Hold on, Fleming,” we shouted; “we will be up to you directly.”

“Fire! fire!” cried Fleming; “I can’t keep the brute back much longer.”

At length Surley’s attack seemed to produce more effect on the puma. For a moment he turned round to try to repel him. Fleming seized the opportunity, and, taking better aim than he had hitherto been able to do, plunged his knife right up to the hilt in the animal’s breast, and then sprang back out of his way. We came up at the same moment, barely in time to save Surley from some severe handling, for the puma had turned all his fury on him. We stopped and loaded, and then running on got close up to the beast, to run no risk of hitting the dog, and fired. Over he rolled, giving a few spasmodic clutches with his claws, and with a snarl expired.

“You’ve saved my life anyhow, young gentlemen,” said Fleming. “When I felt the brute’s claws on my breast, before I saw you and honest Surley there, I thought it was all over with me.”

Surley was standing over the dead body of the puma, and he seemed to think that he had had the chief hand in killing him. We were very proud of the trophy; and when we found that Fleming was scarcely injured, though his clothes were somewhat torn, we were very glad that the adventure had occurred. Fleming told us that when we did not return he had set off to look after us; but at last, overcome again with the heat of the sun, he had sat down and dropped asleep. It was now getting late in the day, so after we had marked the place where the dead puma lay, we agreed that we would return to the bottom of the valley and try and find our companions. That we might enjoy a whole day in the mountains, it had been arranged that we should bivouac in the valley, and not commence our return till the following morning. We looked about for the doctor and guides, but they were nowhere to be seen. We fired off our rifles, but no one answered in return. We began to be anxious. Could they have been stopped by robbers? or could any Indians have attacked them? Such things had occurred before now, we were told. Sometimes bands of the fierce Araucanian Indians had been known to make incursions into the province from the south, and to attack farm-houses and even villages among the mountains. Robbers, too, in large bands once frequented the country, and laid contributions on all the peaceable inhabitants. Still, since the government has been settled and order established, such occurrences were no longer heard of. We therefore resolved that it would be unwise to make ourselves unhappy; so, after having partaken of some of the articles of Fleming’s basket to stay our appetites, we set to work to prepare for our encampment for the night. We fixed on a spot under a high rock, which would shelter us from the prevailing wind; and we then looked about for fuel with which we could light a fire. We found a plant in great abundance, but we could not tell whether, it would burn or not. “Try, at all events,” said Fleming. We made a heap, and put some paper and matches under it. It burned admirably, exuding a resinous smell; and we afterwards found that it was called the Alpinia umbellifera. After we had collected enough fuel for the night, we sat ourselves down before the fire wrapped up in our cloaks, which Fleming had been carrying for us. When enough ashes had been made, we produced our meat and toasted some slices at the end of our ramrods.

“I say, Harry, does not this remind you of the night we spent at the Falkland Islands?” said Jerry. “I like this bivouacking life amazingly.” I agreed with him that it was very good fun in fine weather, but that with cold and snow, or rain, I thought we should very likely change our tune.

“That you would, young gentlemen,” observed Fleming. “Remember that you’ve only seen the bright side of life as yet. There’s a dark side as well, and you should be prepared for it when it comes, otherwise you won’t be fit to meet it like men. Don’t go on fancying that the sun is always to shine on you, and that you are always to be warm and comfortable, and to have plenty of money in your pockets, and no troubles and sorrows, and pains and sicknesses. You’ll have your share, and it is better that you should depend on it, not to make you value this world too much.”

“I say, Fleming, don’t preach—there’s a good fellow!” exclaimed Jerry. “I want just now to enjoy my slice of guanaco. I know what you say is very true, and I’ll remember and think about it by-and-by.”

Fleming might have made further remarks on the subject, had not a faint shout, as if from a distance, reached our ears. We listened. Could it be from Indians or robbers? Jerry put his hand to the top of his head. “Oh, my scalp!” said he; “it feels very uncomfortable already.” Again the shout reached us. We shouted in return. We had little doubt that it was raised by the doctor and his companions. Soon they emerged out of the darkness laden with all sorts of specimens of natural history. We crowed over them, however, for they had not killed either a guanaco or a puma. They could not doubt our assertions, as they had proof in the slices of the former which we cooked for them. Fleming and Old Surley, too, showed the marks of their encounter with the puma; and we got great credit for having killed him. We were a very merry party as we drew round the fire recounting our adventures; and Surley sat up looking as wise as any of us, and if he could but have put his words together, he would have told as good a story as any of us. At all events, he dogfully played his part at the feast, and ate up with evident relish all the scraps of guanaco flesh which we gave him. Mr McRitchie was as satisfied as we were with the result of his day’s excursion; and as we had an abundant supply of everything to make the inner man comfortable, and good cloaks to keep the outer warm, we were all very happy. Our guide talked a good deal, though no one but Tom Carver understood a word he said. Tom and Fleming, however, spun the longest yarns, all about Lord Cochrane and all the wonders he had done, and how from his daring and bravery he made the people of the country believe that he was in league with the Evil One, if he was not rather the Evil One himself. They gave him the name of the Diabo.

“No one ever deserved it less,” exclaimed Fleming. “The devil, to my mind, is cunning and cowardly, and a fool into the bargain. Resist him, and he’ll run away. Act a straightforward, honest part, and he can never get round you. Lord Cochrane, you see, mates, was as true and honest as steel, as brave as his sword, and so wise, that he never undertook to do anything when he didn’t see the way clear before him that would lead to success.” Tom agreed also in heartily praising their old chief, though they were not very complimentary to the Spaniards or to the people of Chili, whom he had come to assist.

“I say, Tom, do you mind when we were going away from Valparaiso to attack Callao, and you and I were serving aboard the O’Higgins, how that lieutenant brought the admiral’s little son on board?” said Fleming, for the purpose, I suspect, of drawing his friend out.

“Ay, that I do,” answered Tom Carver. “You see the flag-lieutenant had gone on shore for some of the admiral’s traps, when he fell in with the little chap, who wasn’t more than five or six years old. ‘I want to go with father,’ says he. ‘I must go with father aboard the big ship there. I will go.’ At first the lieutenant said he couldn’t take him; but the little fellow cried out so, that he couldn’t find it in his heart to refuse him; so he lifted him up on his shoulders and carried him away to the boat. The child shouted and crowed with pleasure, waving his little hat above his head, just like a sucking hero as he was. When the people saw it, they seemed as if they would grow mad with delight, and followed him in crowds, cheering and crying out, ‘Viva la Patria’ at the top of their voices. I was one of the boat’s crew, and certainly there was something in it somehow which took our fancy mightily. Off we pulled aboard the flag-ship, before Lady Cochrane found out what had become of the child, and I daresay she was in a great taking. Well, we only got aboard just as the ship was under weigh, and he couldn’t be sent on shore again. There was nothing to be done but to take him with us. We weren’t sorry to have him, for, you see, next to a monkey, there’s nothing does a ship’s company more good than having a little child to look after. The small chap had nothing but the clothes he was dressed in. ‘What’s to be done with him?’ says the admiral. ‘Why, bless ye, my lord, he’ll have fifty nurses, every one as good as the she-maids as has to look after him ashore,’ answered Ben Brown, the admiral’s coxswain; ‘and as for clothing, the ship’s tailor will rig him out in no time.’ To my mind, the admiral rather liked having the little fellow with him. Fearless himself, he couldn’t even feel fear for one of those he loved best on earth. Young master very soon made himself at home among us, and in a couple of days the ship’s tailor had as complete a midshipman’s uniform made for him as you’d wish to see.

“We were bound, do you see, to Callao, where the admiral discovered that a large Spanish ship was about to sail for Europe, with great treasure aboard. Besides her, there was a Spanish squadron of considerable force lying in the harbour, under the protection of the guns of the forts. The admiral was up to all sorts of dodges, so he hoisted American colours, and, as two United States’ ships of war were expected with another ship, stood in. A fog, however came on, and the Lantaro, one of our squadron, parting company, his plan was defeated. However, we fell in with a Spanish gunboat in the fog, and took her. Fogs and light winds baffled us for some time; but the admiral was not a man to be turned aside from what he had intended, so at last we got in before the forts, and with springs on our cables began blazing away at them and the fleet, of which there were altogether some fourteen vessels. Well, I was telling you of the admiral’s little son. Of course his father was very anxious about him, for it was no child’s work we were about, so he locked him up as he fancied safe in his after-cabin. As soon, however, as the firing began, the youngster thought he should like to see some of the fun; so what does he do, but work his way out through the quarter-gallery window, and find his way up on deck. ‘Go down below, sir, this moment,’ says the admiral when he sees him. ‘You’ll be having your head shot off if you stay here.’ The shot was flying about us pretty thick by that time, let me tell you. ‘No, no, daddy,’ says he. ‘Let me stay here. You stay, and de oder midshipmens stay; why shouldn’t I?’ He couldn’t speak quite plain yet, do you see. ‘Take him below out of harm’s way, one of you,’ says the admiral, turning to me. You see he had plenty to do watching the enemy and issuing orders, and had not time to look after the boy. So as the admiral ordered, I seized up the young gentleman, and was going to carry him off below, when he began to kick up such a hubbub, and to kick, and scratch, and bite, it was as hard work to hold him as it would have been to gripe a rattlesnake. ‘Put me down, I say—put me down,’ he sung out. ‘I’ll not go below. I want to stay on deck and fight the enemy.’ Well, I saw that there was no use in taking him below, because, as no one could be spared to look after him, he would have been soon up again; besides, to my mind, a shot finds its way into one part of a ship as well as another. So I put him down again, and there was his little lordship as busy as any powder-monkey, handing up the powder to the gunners. Well, as I was saying, the shot was falling pretty thick about our ears, when a round shot takes off the head of a marine standing close to the small boy, scattering the brains and blood of the poor fellow right over the small chap, almost blinding him. The admiral was looking that way. His tall figure bent forwards. I thought he would have fallen from the agony of his mind. He believed his child was killed. In an instant, however, the little hero recovered himself, and dashing the blood from his face, ran up to his lordship. ‘Don’t be afraid, papa,’ says he; ‘I’m not hurt—the shot did not strike me. Tom says the ball isn’t cast that can kill mamma’s boy.’ That was true enough, for he’d heard some of us say, what we believed, that he couldn’t come to harm any more than his father could. The admiral’s face brightened again, when he saw that no harm had happened to the boy. I suppose after this he thought as we did, for he let him stay on deck during the whole action; and a pretty sharp one it was, when I tell you we had two hundred guns firing away at us for a couple of hours. If it hadn’t been for the fog, we shouldn’t have had a stick standing at the end of it. After this we had several brushes with the enemy.

“At last the admiral considered that it would be a great thing to take Valdivia, a strongly-fortified place on the south of Chili, still held by the Spaniards. We had some Chilian troops on board, and very brave fellows they were, under a French officer. Our own officers were worth very little, and the admiral had to look after everything himself. One night we were off the island of Quiriquina, and he had turned in to take a little rest, leaving the deck in charge of one of the lieutenants. The lieutenant thought he should like a snooze, so he turned in and left a midshipman in charge of the ship. The midshipman went to sleep, and when he awoke he found the ship all aback. In trying to box her off he ran her on shore, on the sharp edge of a rock, where, if there had been any swell, she would have beaten her bottom in. Many of the people wanted to abandon the ship; but the admiral was not a man to allow such a thing while there was a hope of getting her off; and telling them that they would be all murdered by the savages on the coast if they landed, he set all hands to work at the pumps. When they came to be examined, they were all out of repair; and as the carpenter could make no hand at mending them, what does the admiral do but whip off his coat and set to work with his own hands. Didn’t we feel that he was a man we’d follow through thick and thin, though we knew that pretty well before then. At last, what with pumping and bailing, we found that the water did not gain on us, so the stream anchor was got, and heaving on it with a will, we once more set the old ship afloat. ‘Never mind, my lads,’ says the admiral; ‘if we can but make her swim as far as Valdivia, we shall do very well without a ship for a time.’ By that we knew he intended to take and occupy the place. The admiral wanted to take the Spaniards by surprise, so he shifted his flag aboard the Intrepedo brig-of-war, taking with him the Montezuma, a man-of-war schooner, and, in spite of a high sea, all the troops were put on board the two vessels. You should just see what sort of a place Valdivia is, with strong forts on both sides of a channel not three-quarters of a mile wide. There is only one small landing-place, called the Aquada del Ingles, with a fort protecting it. Towards that we stood, for the surf sets so heavily on the shore, that a boat attempting to land anywhere else would be knocked to pieces. We had a gallant English officer in command of the troops, Major Miller. I never saw such a fire-eater. His body was almost riddled with shot, but he never seemed to mind; nothing sickened him of fighting; and as soon as he got well he was as ready for work as ever. So, as I was saying, the brig and schooner ran in and anchored close to Fort Ingles, keeping the boats on the other side of the vessels, out of sight. The admiral hailed the fort, and said we had lost our boats coming round Cape Horn, and begged they would send one; but just then one of ours drifted astern, and the Spaniards, smelling a rat, opened fire on us. Instantly the admiral ordered the troops to land, and a launch, with the gallant Major Miller, and some forty-four marines, shoved off, and under a heavy shower of musket-balls, pushed for the shore. His coxswain was wounded, and he received a shot through his hat. On we shoved (for I was with him), and leaping on shore with loud cheers, we drove the enemy before us at the point of the bayonet. I forgot to tell you that when the O’Higgins got on shore, we had nearly all our powder spoiled, so that he had to depend entirely on the bayonet. There’s no better weapon to be used when Spaniards are concerned. They can’t stand it. Other boats followed, and in less than a hour we had 300 troops landed. We waited till it was dark to begin the attack. There was a gallant young ensign, Mr Vidal. While the main body advanced in front, firing off their muskets, and shouting to show the Spaniards that we were going to give them a taste of the bayonet, he got round to the rear of the forts, and opening his fire, the enemy got frightened, and took to their heels, while we took the forts—which was what we had come to take. At the same time 300 more Spaniards, who were marching into Fort Ingles, were seized with a panic, and all fled together. The brave Chilians bayoneted them by dozens; and when the gates of the other forts were opened to receive the fugitives, they entered at the same time, and thus fort after fort was taken with very little loss to us, but a good deal to the enemy. Two days after, we attacked the forts on the other side of the water with the same success, and then took the town of Valdivia itself, which is some little way up the river. We found a large supply of ammunition in the place, and I know that I got a fair share of prize-money. That Major Miller I was telling you of was soon after this again desperately wounded in attempting to take another fort. When he had fallen, his faithful marines made a desperate charge, and brought him off. They were all Chilians, it must be remembered. One of them, named Roxas, was a very brave fellow. He was the first to land with the major, and had helped to carry him to the beach on their retreat. Two out of three were wounded, and when the major invited him to step into the boat, ‘No, sir,’ says he; ‘I was the first to land, and I intend to be the last to leave the shore.’ You see, young gentlemen, it is not only Englishmen can do gallant things, and I like when I have an opportunity to praise those with other blood in their veins.

“You’d like to know how we took the Esmeralda, I daresay?” said Tom.

“I told Master Harry all about that the other day,” observed Fleming. “It was a gallant thing, wasn’t it?”

“But, I say, I wonder if the gentlemen over heard talk of what my lady did? She was, for a woman, and a young, beautiful woman too, just as brave as my lord. Well, I’ll tell you. The first part I heard from a man, a soldier, a brave, faithful fellow, who was with her; the rest I saw myself. She, with her baby, was up the country, at a place called Quilca, among the mountains, when, as she was at a ball at some great man’s house there, she heard that the Spaniards had made up their minds to seize her and her infant, and to detain them as hostages. To think with her was to act. Going quietly out of the ball-room and changing her dress, she popped the nurse and child into a sort of palanquin, and mounting one of her horses, and ordering out all the rest, she started away in the middle of the night, and pushed on without stopping anywhere, or telling any one where she was going. All that night and all next day she travelled on, mounting another horse whenever the one she rode grew tired. At last she arrived at a dark ravine, just a split in the mountain some hundred feet deep, with a foaming torrent roaring below. There was just the sort of rope bridge we had to cross yesterday. Some of the people had gone down below to haul the horses over, and she had sent her own horse across, when what should they hear but the sound of the enemy’s bugles. Seizing her child, she ordered the palanquin-bearers to go over, and then followed close behind them herself. Again the bugle sounded,—the enemy were close at hand. She hurried on, but the movements of so many people crossing made the bridge swing fearfully from side to side. She felt as if she must be thrown off into the raging gulf below. More and more the bridge swung, and at length, overcome with terror, she sank down on the narrow pathway, clasping the infant to her breast. I’ve heard people say they dream of such things. Here was the reality. The bridge continued to swing backwards and forwards with a fearful motion, and she clung to it for her life. It was a great risk for any one else to venture on the bridge, but, in spite of that, Pedro, the soldier I told you of, crawled along, and, says he in his own language, ‘Give me the child, my lady, and I’ll take care of it;’ and crawling along with it in his arms, he placed it in safety. Then he went back, and helped Lady Cochrane across. Just then the advance guard of the enemy’s troops appeared, winding down the sides of the mountains. Pedro and the other men hacked away at the bridge; the ropes parted and fell into the torrent, and her ladyship was safe, while the Spaniards ground their teeth in vain. On she pushed, till she reached the coast, and there she found the admiral’s ship, and came on board. We were all proud to have her; for you see, with all her beauty, there wasn’t a bit of vanity or nonsense about her, and she would speak kind-like to any one of us, just as if we was her equal. Soon after she came on board, the admiral heard that there was a rich Spanish ship just about putting to sea, and a very good sailer. He knew if she once got ahead of us we should never catch her up, so, without waiting to land Lady Cochrane, we slipped our cables and made sail up to where the treasure-ship and several others of the enemy’s vessels lay at anchor. We beat to quarters, and got up to them about midnight all ready for action. We were not long in beginning the sport, nor they in returning the compliments we paid them; for, besides the treasure-ship, the Spaniards had some gun-boats moored under their forts. While we were firing away, the mother, just like her little son, wouldn’t leave the deck, but stood there like any hero, animating the men.

“After some time one of the crew of a gun, a Chilian, seemed to be afraid of firing. What does her ladyship do, but, seizing his arm, and guiding the match to the touch-hole, fire the gun! She thought maybe that the man would be punished if he was observed. However, the effort was too much for her, for you see she was but a young woman, and she sank down on deck in a fainting fit. We thought she was wounded, and several of us ran forward to lift her up and carry her below. It did our hearts good to find that there was nothing really the matter with her. When the action was over, and we had pretty well knocked the treasure-ship and gun-boats to pieces, we returned in the morning to our former anchorage. As we were furling sails, her ladyship came on deck to show us she was all to rights. No sooner was the canvas stowed, than we manned yards of our own accord, and then didn’t we cheer her and the admiral with right good will; and the whole crew, one and all, Chilians and Englishmen, five hundred of us, burst forth with the hymn of the Republic, praying at the end that Heaven would bless and prosper them. She bowed more than once, but didn’t say a word, and then burst into tears.

“Ah! she was the lady who knew how to win a sailor’s heart!”

Chapter Nine.

Robinson Crusoe’s Island.

Fleming and his old shipmate, Tom Carver, kept spinning their interesting yarns about Lord Cochrane’s gallant deeds till a late hour. At last it was time to go to sleep; so we wrapped ourselves up as closely as we could in our cloaks, with our feet to the fire and our backs to the rock, to seek repose. Fleming, and Tom, and the doctor, however, kept watch one after the other, both to keep up the fire and to prevent our being taken by surprise by the visit of a puma, or any other unwelcome visitor. By-the-by, the doctor told us that the puma very seldom seeks his prey in the day-time, or attacks men, though he has been known to do so at times. The fellow we killed measured fully five feet from the nose to the tail, which was itself, in addition, two feet and a half long. The back was of a brownish-red colour, and the breast of a reddish ash colour, and the lower jaw and throat white. Its face was like that of a huge cat, and it is said to be able to climb trees, and to drop down from them on its prey. Its ordinary way of seizing its prey is to spring on the back, and draw back the head of the animal till its neck is broken. The guanaco, which is common throughout South America, was used by the ancient Peruvians, in great numbers, as a beast of burden. It carried about a hundredweight. Its flesh also served them for food; of its skin leather articles were made, and its hair was woven into cloth. When domesticated, it is known as the llama. It feeds on vegetables, and requires no attention. Its voice resembles the shrill neighing of a horse. Its use as a beast of burden has been superseded by the horse, the ass, and the mule. The fleece of the tame animal is not so long as that of the wild one. Their appearance I have already described. I shall never forget that night among the Andes,—how the stars of the southern hemisphere came out, and shone with a brilliancy I had never before seen in that purest of pure atmospheres, among those grand old mountains. For a long time I could not go to sleep: at last I did, and it seemed but a moment afterwards that Terry aroused me to go with Tom and the Indian guide to bring the guanaco and the skin of the puma. With their aid we were not long in finding the puma, and in having his skin off him. We found the first guanaco untouched, so we took his skin and some of the flesh. As, however, we were looking for the spot where we had left the other, a huge condor rose into the air, followed by two or three others.

“Ah! you’ll not find much beyond his bones, depend on that,” said Tom. “These birds don’t leave pickings for anybody else.”

Such being the case, we agreed that it was not worth while to climb up so far, as we were in a hurry to get back to the rock to breakfast. Directly after it we set off on our return to the city. The natives of Chili, we were told, often catch the puma with the lasso. They also hunt it with dogs, and shoot it when it climbs up trees. When we came to the bridge of hide-rope it looked more rickety and impassable than ever. Just fancy a few rotten-looking strips of leather slung across a chasm some thousand feet deep!

“Never mind,” said Fleming, laughing; “hold on to something. If it give way don’t you let go, at all events, and the chances are you are brought up somewhere. My maxim is, Never let go of one rope till you have got hold of another.”

However, we crossed in safety, and spent a very pleasant day at Santiago, seeing all the sights of that city, though Jerry and I agreed that we would rather have been in the mountains shooting guanacoes or hunting pumas,—so I daresay would old Surley. We got back in good time to Valparaiso. When dining at the hotel, we met an Englishman who had travelled over all parts of South America, and had made an infinite number of sketches, which he did in the most rapid way. He made me a present of several, which he drew at the hotel; among them was the Frontispiece to this volume. He gave us the following information at the same time. He told us that apes’ flesh was very nice for eating—a fact some of our party were inclined to doubt. He laughed at our scruples, and assured us that he had frequently dined off apes. The Indians on the Amazon go out regularly to hunt them, and have a very successful mode of so doing. Every hunter is provided with a hollow cane, called a sarbacan—I before described it in our trip up the Amazon. It is about twelve feet in length; and a quiver containing a dozen little pieces of very hard wood, sharp at one end, and fitted with a bit of cotton-wadding at the other. Concealed by the luxuriant foliage of the forest, the Indian, resting his sarbacan on the branch of a tree, waits the near approach of his prey; then blowing out one of the little polished arrows from the tube with his mouth, he invariably strikes the ape, and brings him to the ground. What ensures the success of this mode of hunting is, that it is carried on without the slightest noise, and a whole troop of apes may be killed without their discovering whence the death-dealing darts proceed. When we were on the Amazon we did not know that the poor monkeys were killed in this way. I forgot to mention before the beautiful regularity of the land and sea-breezes which we experienced at this place. It was the dry season of the year, and the air was wonderfully bright and clear. The atmosphere being in a state of equilibrium (so the doctor told us), was ready to obey even the slightest impulse, and to rush towards any spot where rarefaction was taking place. Thus, at about ten in the morning, as the rays of the sun gain power and shed their influence over the earth, the air from the sea begins to move towards it. As rarefaction increases, so does the strength of the wind, till by three or four in the afternoon it rushes in with great force, creating a considerable sea, and if a vessel is not well moored, driving her before it. Captain Frankland knew what to expect, and was therefore prepared for the emergency.

On the afternoon of our return to Valparaiso, we put to sea. From the cause I have mentioned respecting the strength of the sea-breeze, it is necessary to make a good offing from the land. We therefore stood off shore till we had sunk the tops of the Andes below the horizon. The name of the Pacific was given to this ocean by the Spaniards, who first crossed the Isthmus of Panama, under the belief that the whole sea was always as calm as was then the portion they beheld. Storms, if less frequent, are certainly not less violent than in other portions of the world. We certainly very frequently experienced the fickleness of the elements. As we were about to haul up to the northward, the wind suddenly shifted round to that very quarter, and then shifted somewhat to the eastward. We stood away on the starboard-tack, but were evidently making a great deal of lee-way. At last Captain Frankland, finding that no progress could be made, hove the ship to. Jerry and I had by this time got pretty well accustomed to knocking about, so that we did not mind it. We suffered the greatest inconvenience at our meals, because very often the soup which we had intended to put into our mouths without signal or warning rolled away into the waistcoat-pockets of our opposite neighbour. The doctor more than once suffered from being the recipient of the contents of Jerry’s plate as well as of mine; but he took it very good-naturedly, and as he very soon returned us the compliment, we were all square. Not long after dinner, while we were on deck, Ben Yool, who was aloft, hailed to say that he saw bearing right down for us a large brig, and, considering the gale, that she was carrying a wonderful press of canvas. Her courses were brailed up, but her topsails were set, while the top-gallant-sails and royals were flying away in ribbons, except the main-royal, which, with the mast, had gone over the side. We accordingly all looked out for her. We soon, as we rose to the summit of a long rolling sea, caught sight of her, plunging over the foaming waters and often half buried in them. There was something very strange in her appearance, and in the way she came tearing along through the waters. Captain Frankland looked at her attentively through his glass.

“I cannot make it out,” he exclaimed; “the people on board are either all drunk or must have gone mad.”

We were not kept long in suspense. On came the brig. She was a fine-looking vessel; but such a sight met our eyes as I never expected to see. Her deck was crowded with men, but instead of attempting to shorten sail, they were all shrieking and fighting together. One party seemed to have taken possession of the after-part of the vessel, the rest were forward—while in the intermediate space several lay weltering in their blood. Now one party would rush forward and meet the other in the waist, and then after a desperate struggle one would retreat before the other. Thus they continued as long as they remained in sight. It appeared, from the glimpse we got of them as they drove by, that the crew had risen against their officers, who were fighting to regain the upper hand. What they were it was difficult to say, but their appearance bespoke them to be a great set of ruffians. I asked Ben Yool what he thought of them.

“To my mind, Master Harry, they are nothing better than a set of pirates, and I had just as soon not have fallen in with them in smooth water.”

Every spy-glass on board was directed towards them. Strange as it appeared, there could be no doubt about the matter. In spite of the terrific gale—in spite of the prospect of the masts going overboard, and of the ship being reduced to a complete wreck, an event which might any moment occur, the wretched crew of the brig were destroying each other with the maddest fury. From the state of things on board as we saw them, the chances were that the survivors of the victorious party would not have strength to take in sail or clear the deck at the end of the fight.

“That was an extraordinary spectacle we have just witnessed,” observed Cousin Silas, as Jerry and I were holding on to the rails near him as the strange brig disappeared, hidden by the dark foam-topped waves which leaped up between her and us. “Never heard anything like it before, perhaps you will say, lads. Now, in my opinion, you have heard of many things exactly like it before. What is the world doing at the present moment? What has it been doing since the flood? Men have been quarrelling, and fighting, and knocking each other on the head, while ruin has been encircling them around, from that time to the present. We were sent into this world to perform certain duties—to help each other in doing them—to love God and to love each other. If we obey God, we are promised eternal happiness: if we disobey him, eternal punishment. We are told that this world must come to an end, and that all things in it will be destroyed. What do men do? They shut their eyes to all these truths. They live as if they and everything in the world were to last for ever—as if there were no God to obey and love; and, like the madmen we have just seen, they separate into parties, hating each other, and fight, and quarrel, and deface God’s image in which he made man, utterly regardless of the terrible doom awaiting them—just as the people aboard that ship were doing.”

“The simile would not have occurred to me, Mr Brand,” observed Jerry. “I see it now, though. Still, if people do as little harm as they can, it is all right.”

“No, no, lad. Don’t for a moment indulge in such an erroneous, foolish notion, put into people’s heads by the spirit of evil himself, to deceive them. I tell you we were sent into the world not only to abstain from sin, but to do as much good as we can—to actively employ ourselves—to look about us to see how we can do good,—not to wait till some opportunity occurs that may never come. But we are certain to find some good work if we look for it; and if your heart is right towards God, and you earnestly wish to serve him, and not the world, and not yourself, he will point out to you what to do.”

The conversation was interrupted by a heavy lurch the ship made, which sent Jerry and me tumbling away into the lee scuppers; a huge sea at the same moment came rolling up with a foaming crest towards us. It caught the brig broad on the bow—up it rose like a wall, and then with a loud angry roar fell right over us. I felt myself swimming in deep water, with my mouth full and almost blinded. I heard Jerry’s cry close to me. The dreadful thought occurred to me that we were both overboard, and the utter impossibility of lowering a boat to save us flashed across me. I shrieked out for help. A whirl—a confused sound of roaring, hissing waters—a sensation of battling and struggling with them—an eager desire to clutch at something,—are all I remember. Down came the gale on the ship with greater fury than before—another sea from the opposite quarter struck her. I felt myself grasped by a strong arm, and when I opened my eyes, I saw that I was being dragged up to windward by Cousin Silas, who, at the imminent risk of losing his own life, had sprung out with a rope in his hand and hauled me on board again.

“Oh, where is Jerry—where is Jerry?” were the first words I uttered. No one answered. “Oh, he is lost! he is lost!” I cried, and burst into tears, forgetting altogether to thank Cousin Silas for having saved me. I felt that I could never survive the loss of my young shipmate. Just then I saw several of the crew running to leeward. Two or three heads were in the water, with arms wildly striking out. Shrieks, too, rung in my ears. Ben Yool was among them; I saw his face clearly; he did not seem alarmed, like the rest. A long rope was hove to him. He grasped it. He struck out towards another of the swimmers; it was Jerry. Ben seized him in one of his arms, while he was striking out with the other. There seemed, however, but little chance for him of escaping with his life; for when the ship again surged ahead, the rope would have been torn from his grasp, but just then another cross sea providentially rolled up to leeward, and sent him and Jerry close up to the bulwarks. There they were grasped by the crew, and when the ship rolled over again to the other side, they were hauled on board safe and sound. Two other men remained in the water. They turned their faces with straining eyeballs imploringly towards the ship, which was drifting from them. In vain they shrieked out; no one could help them. A foaming, hissing sea rose between us and them. Far, far away the unhappy men were carried, and when the ship rose again to the summit of a wave, they were nowhere to be seen. I felt then how mercifully I had been preserved, and grateful to Him who had thought fit to save me, while, for his own inscrutable ends, he had allowed others to be taken. Jerry, I know, had the same thoughts and feelings, though I fear their impression soon faded, but not away altogether. Its traces, however faint, were permanently left on our minds, and I believe that they have often since had a powerful influence on us. I hope, also, as we grow older, that we may often recur to them instead of endeavouring to drive them away. Joyful as Captain Frankland was at recovering his son, he felt much the loss of his two men; for he truly was the father of his crew, and they knew and gladly acknowledged it. This was the secret of the influence he had over them. The ship still lay to, but the gale increased. Suddenly there was a loud report, like a clap of thunder. The fore-top-sail, close-reefed as it was, had blown out of the bolt-ropes, and the shreds fluttered in streamers from the yards. Away it flew, lashing the yard with fury, and coiling itself into thick twists of rope. The wind unfortunately caught the bow, and bringing her right round, exposed her broadside to the sea. The instant the accident happened, the mates, with some of the crew, had rushed forward, and loosing the fore-stay-sail, were hoisting it just as a big sea came roaring towards us. It was half way up at the moment the sea reached us. “Hoist away, my lads!” was the general cry. The ship felt its effects; springing forward, she seemed to dash through the sea, which, however, broke in a deluge over us. Her head came round, and away she flew before the storm. Before, however, the fore-stay-sail was up it was blown clean away, and the ship dashed on under bare poles to the westward, leaving our two poor shipmates in their watery tomb far astern. All that night we ran plunging on. In the morning watch the wind began to fall. I asked Yool, who was in the same watch with me, what he thought was going to happen.

“Why, Master Harry, that the gale is tired of blowing, and that we shall before long have a calm, or only just a light, pleasant breeze,” he answered. So it proved; after this the wind rapidly decreased, and by sunrise all hands were aloft bending new sails, and busily employed in repairing the damages received in the gale. Just as the captain came on deck, one of the mates hailed from aloft that he saw a whale, or a rock, or some large black object, just rising out of the water—he could not make out what.

We had been on the point of hauling our wind to stand back for Callao, but the captain ordered the ship to be kept on, to ascertain what the object could be. I with others had gone aloft to look out also, when, as the sun arose, I saw before me what I at first took to be a cloud, but gradually it grew more and more distinct, till I was certain that it was a lofty mountain. The rest of the crew were so busily employed about the rigging, and in looking out for the whale or whatever it was, that I was the first to see it;—of this I was very proud.

“Land ahead!” I sung out.

“Ay, ay; all right, Harry,” he answered, knowing of course what land it must be. I soon after went down on deck, where I met Jerry, looking rather pale and ill after his bath.

“Do you know what that land is?” I asked, pointing to it; for with the increasing light it was now seen clearly from the deck.

“Why, it’s no other than Robinson Crusoe’s island—Juan Fernandes; and my father says he intends to run in there, as it will be more convenient to repair damages at anchor; and he thinks that very likely the gale may come back again on us. Won’t it be jolly to go on shore and to see the very cave he lived in, and the sand where he first saw Friday’s foot-mark, and the descendants of the goats he had, and various other animals? I am certain I could find out every spot of ground he talks about. There’s no place I would rather see than this.”

“So would I,” I observed. “But you forget, Jerry, there was no such person as Robinson Crusoe. We may be disappointed when we get there.”

“I won’t believe it!” he answered, indignantly. “There was, and there must have been, and there shall have been a Robinson Crusoe! How could he have written his life if he had not lived, I should like to know?”

“There was a man called Alexander Selkirk, who was left there from one of Lord Anson’s ships, and a first-rate writer—Daniel Defoe by name—got hold of his account, on which he founded the story of Robinson Crusoe,” I answered.

“I tell you that is all bosh,” said Jerry. “I don’t believe that any man who had not gone through every scene he describes, could have given as good an account of them as does Robinson Crusoe; so I intend to stick to my belief, and not care what anybody else says on the subject.” I must own that I felt very much inclined to agree with Jerry, and to look on Defoe very much in the light of a pirate, who had got hold of a ship which did not belong to him. The important discussion was cut short by the report of the first mate, who had again gone aloft with his glass to take another look at the object seen ahead.

“As far as I can see, I’ve no doubt that it is the hull of a ship floating bottom uppermost,” he sung out; “but whether any one is still clinging to her or not, is more than I can make out.”

“Get one of the boats ready, Mr Brand; we’ll board the wreck, at all events,” said the captain. While the boat was quickly prepared, we made good progress towards the wreck.

“There is a man on her; I can see him clearly,” sung out the third mate from forward. “He is lying along the keel. He is alive; he sees us; he is waving to us.”

As soon as the ship got up to the wreck, she was hove-to, and I followed Mr Brand, with Ben Yool, into the boat. There was still a great deal of sea running; and when we got up to the wreck, there was no little danger, we discovered, in getting alongside her. There were masts and spars still hanging on by the rigging around her, which would at once have stove in our boat if we had got among them incautiously, and we should very likely have lost our own lives. There was only one man on the ship’s bottom; we saw him just lifting his head and watching us anxiously as we pulled round. We could discover no spot free from danger; so we pulled off again to consult what was best to be done. The poor wretch thought we were going to desert him, and shouted out to us in English and Spanish, imploring us to have compassion on him, and save his life.

“Ay, ay, friend!” answered Ben Yool. “Don’t suppose we’d leave you there; we should be rum sort of Christians to do that. Wait a bit; we’ll get you off directly.”

“He appears to be unable to help himself, or he might lower himself down by a rope,” observed Mr Brand. “Make a line fast round me; I think that I could manage to got in just under the quarter, and so haul myself up by some of the ropes I see hanging over it.”

To propose was with Cousin Silas to act, and in another moment he was striking out towards the wreck. Avoiding the main-mast—close to which, with some of its spars, he had to pass—he at length got hold of the quarter without injury. He was soon up alongside the stranger. The man was apparently unable to walk; so Mr Brand supported him as he helped him along the keel, till he reached the after-part; and then, securing a line to him, he beckoned us to pull in, while he lowered both himself and the man into the boat. We quickly pulled back again, before the shattered mast drove towards the hull. From the appearance of the wreck, she did not look as if she would have floated much longer. The stranger was a mulatto—a fine, tall fellow, apparently, but now looking very wretched and weak from loss of blood and want of food. We soon had him on board, dried and put into a clean hammock, under the doctor’s care. His manner at first was rough, and somewhat sullen; but it improved by degrees, and he seemed grateful for the kindness shown to him. He was evidently suffering so much from pain that no one asked him for particulars about the wreck, or how he had been brought into his present position. It was not till the doctor came in to dinner that we began to suspect the truth.

“Do you know that that man has received a couple of desperate wounds with a long, sharp knife?” said he. “When I discovered this, it occurred to me that he must have been one of the crew of the vessel which passed us yesterday, and that she had met the fate which was to be expected.”

“No doubt about it,” answered Captain Frankland. “I have thought so from the first; but I did not wish to prejudice anybody against the man.”

“He is not disinclined to be communicative; but whether he speaks the truth or not is another question,” said the doctor. “He says that the vessel capsized was a Peruvian brig; that he and another man had a quarrel, in which he received two stabs; that soon after the brig was struck by a squall, and capsized; that one of the boats was uninjured, and that some dozen people escaped in her.”

“I think the latter part of his account is very likely in some respects to be true,” observed Captain Frankland. “If so, they are a class of gentry we must be on the watch for and keep clear of. They cannot be far-off, and they are not likely to stand on ceremony, if they want a ship, which is probable, about helping themselves to the first they fall in with likely to suit them.”

Jerry and I agreed, however, that we should very much like to meet with the pirates and have a brush with them.

“They would find us better prepared than they expected,” said he. “They do not know, besides our big guns, what a supply of arms we have on board.”

Notwithstanding our strong suspicions of the character of the stranger, he was treated from the first with every possible kindness. All this time we were approaching Robinson Crusoe’s island. We almost expected to see a man dressed in goat-skins, with a high conical cap, a gun in his hand, and a negro and goat moving behind him, waiting on the shore to welcome us. In my opinion, he would have found his dress of skins very hot in that climate, while his savage could have been only of a lightish-brown colour. As we drew in with the land, rocks, trees, and shrubs, clothing the sides of the lofty and picturesque mountains, grew more and more distinct; and then a few cottages peeped out here and there, and a fort guarding the only harbour, with the Chilian flag flying over it, showing us that it was no longer a deserted island; but, unfortunately, the inhabitants we found were not of a class to make it the abode of peace and contentment. The Chilian Government have turned it into a penal settlement, and the chief residents are the convicts and their guards. It is only to be hoped that the result of their labours may make it a fitter place for the habitation of more virtuous people. We ran into the harbour, which is nearly land-locked, and dropped our anchor. It was a curious feeling, coming suddenly from the storm-tossed ocean, to find ourselves surrounded by land, with lofty mountains rising up from the shore close to us. We all agreed that we were never in a more beautiful or picturesque spot. Even now the town is a very rough sort of a place. There might have been a hundred cottages, some neatly white-washed, but others made only of boughs and mud; and even the governor’s house is only of one story. The fort was a mere stockade, and of little use as a defence. The governor was an Englishman, who belonged to the Chilian navy. Poor fellow! his was a very unpleasant and dull life; for, except a priest and the officer in command of the soldiers, he had no one with whom he could converse. While the crew were employed in setting up the rigging, Jerry and I and the doctor accompanied Captain Frankland on shore. We were received on landing by a very ragged set of soldiers, many of whom had not even shoes on their feet, and all, more or less, seem to have borrowed some of Robinson Crusoe’s garments. Besides the governor’s house, there was a chapel—a little, low building, with a cross on the top of it to show its object. The poor soldiers crowded round us, and asked if we had shoes to sell. Fortunately there were some cases on board, one of which the captain sent for; and the third mate, who acted as supercargo, disposed of the whole of them, though there was some difficulty in finding articles for barter when their cash ran short. Had not the governor helped them, they would have remained shoeless. We were delighted with the quantity of fruit which was brought to us. There were cherries, and very large strawberries, and melons, and grapes—all of which, we had no doubt, were planted originally by Robinson Crusoe. We lunched with the governor; and then, while the captain returned on board, Jerry and I and the doctor started with a guide to take a long walk into the country. Away we went, highly delighted, and soon found ourselves in a beautiful and fertile valley, with waterfalls coming down the sides of the hills, and bright streams and ponds. We came, too, upon a flock of goats; and one very old fellow had a nick in his ear, so we had no doubt that he was one of those left by Robinson Crusoe himself. The doctor would not give, an opinion on the subject, but Jerry asserted that there could not be a shadow of doubt about it. Going on a little further, we came upon a cave—a veritable cave—in the side of the mountain, with a sort of rough porch in front of it, built of boughs and thatched with straw. Jerry uttered a loud shout of delight.

“There!” he exclaimed. “I knew it was all true. Why, there is the very hut Robinson Crusoe built for himself.”

His voice must have aroused some one who was within, for a door was pushed open, and a figure appeared, who, if he was not Robinson Crusoe, was very like pictures of him. He had a long beard, and was dressed in goat-skins, and had sandals on his feet, and a thick stick in his hand—altogether a very wild-looking character. Jerry drew back, and looked at him very much as if by some incantation he had conjured up the spirit of the long-departed hero.

“It can’t be Crusoe!” he gasped out. “Yet, if it isn’t, who can he be?” At length he gained courage, and both of us slowly approaching the man, he said, with a desperate effort, “Pray, tell me who you are?”

A grim smile lighted up such of the features of the man as could be seen through his bushy beard, whiskers, and moustaches. He shook his head. Jerry repeated the question.

“No intende,” he answered.

“Then he can’t be Robinson Crusoe if he doesn’t understand English,” whispered Jerry, with a sigh.

The doctor, who had been behind gathering plants, now came up. He laughed heartily when we told him that we had had great hopes that the rough-looking stranger might turn out to be Robinson Crusoe himself, gone back to live on his own island. He exchanged a few words with the stranger.

“The man tells me that he is a goat-herd—a convict—unjustly banished here;—that of course. He begs that we will give him a few coppers to buy a glass of rum.”

Jerry and I eagerly searched in our pockets, when we discovered some Chilian coins, which we bestowed on the poor goat-herd; but even as I dropped them into his hand, I could not help feeling that I was offering an insult to a great man in distress by giving him such a trifle. The provoking part of the affair was, that, as the doctor told us, the man himself had never even heard of Robinson Crusoe in the whole course of his life. We had a delightful ramble through the valley, and over the hills. We found an abundance of the sandalwood-tree growing on the mountains, and myrtles in great quantities, with a variety of other aromatic shrubs. Vegetables of all sorts were growing in profusion, and there were a number of cattle, and horses, and mules. There was also plenty of milk; and from what we saw at the governor’s table, there was no lack of provisions of any sort.

Old Surley was with us, and he made acquaintance with a great number of the canine race of high and low degree, though those of low degree, I must say, vastly predominated. We made a collection of all sorts of things,—bits of myrtle, and sandalwood, and leaves, and flowers, and shells; for we were sure our friends at home would highly prize everything coming from Robinson Crusoe’s island. We got some delicious milk also, I remember—which sailors as well as Londoners know how to value. There is an abundance of wood on the island, and delicious streams of pure water, one of which runs through the centre of the town. I must not forget to mention the immense quantity of fish we caught. This abundance of fish, Captain Frankland considered, is owing to a cold current which flows by the island from the Southern Pole, and at the same time tempers the air and adds fertility to the soil. The island is about 300 miles from Valparaiso, 33 degrees 30 minutes south latitude. It is about fifteen miles long, and five broad. After we had seen it in all directions, we agreed that it was indeed a pity that it was in the possession of those who were so little able to make a good use of it. I never saw a more idle set of people than the inhabitants who were not compelled to work. All the time we were on shore, they did nothing but walk about or lie down in the shade, wrapped up in their big cloaks.

When we returned on board we accompanied the doctor to see his patient, the mulatto we had rescued from the wreck. The doctor asked him whether he would not go on shore, where he might have fresh fruit and vegetables, and be better taken care of than he could be on board.

“No, no,” he answered. “Thank you, though, much. There are no good people in this place. I do not want to be among them.”

“Then you know something about them?” said the doctor.

“There are very few places where I do not know somebody,” he answered, evasively.

The doctor did not press the point. Indeed the poor man was not in a condition to be carried. He told us that his name was Manuel Silva; that he had all his life been knocking about the world, and that he did not look upon any one country as his home. We asked him no questions, and he did not choose to tell us how he had got on board the vessel where we found him. The next day, when we went on shore, the governor told us that he had often difficult work in keeping the convicts in order, and that not long ago a dozen of them contrived to run off with a boat, headed by a desperate fellow who had been a seaman. They got clear away, and soon after news was brought that a large brig had been attacked and taken, and all the crew made to walk the plank.

“It will be necessary for us, then, to be on our guard,” remarked the captain. “They would be ugly customers to fall in with.”

“Indeed it will,” observed the governor. “They were desperate and cunning fellows, too, and they will, I fear, do no small amount of mischief before they come to an end. I have sent notice to the Chilian Government, who will despatch one of their ships of war in search of the fellows; but in this wide ocean, with thousands of islands among which they may lie hid, there is but little chance of them being found.”

We had another day’s delightful ramble over the hills and across the valleys of this lonely island; and except that Robinson Crusoe must have found it somewhat dull, being alone for so long before Friday came to him, Jerry and I agreed that he was in no way to be pitied, and that we should like nothing better than having to spend some time there. We did not quite settle how long. There are a number of caves high up in the sides of the mountain, overlooking Cumberland Bay harbour, as it is called; and those barbarous fellows, the Spaniards, compel the convicts, who labour at the stone quarries, to live in them. The challenges of the sentinels, reaching all the way down to the harbour, broke the still silence of the night, as we lay at our anchors, ready to sail with the first dawn on the following morning. A light wind wafted us away from that romantic spot, our visit to which is among the most pleasant recollections of our voyage. We gazed astern as if we were looking our last on the land of our birth, and did not leave the deck till its faint blue mountains had sunk beneath the horizon. In consequence of what we had heard from the governor, we got our guns and small arms in order, to be ready for the supposed pirates, should we fall in with them, while a sharp look-out was kept, that we might not be taken unawares. Captain Frankland was too brave and experienced a man to be afraid of taking necessary precautions on all occasions. It did not occur to the captain, till we had been some time at sea, to inquire of Manuel Silva whether he knew anything of the pirates. Grave suspicions had begun to cross his mind that he was in some way connected with them. Of course Silva denied all knowledge of them. When pressed to give some account of himself, he replied, “I am grateful for all your kindness. If I have an opportunity I will show it. I do not wish to tell you falsehoods, therefore do not press me on that subject.” With a favourable breeze we steered a course for the coast of Peru.

Chapter Ten.

Visit to the Empire of the Incas.

To the south of Lima, in the Bay of Pisco, are found three small islands, or rather barren rocks. Not a tree grows on them—not a blade of grass. The feathered race for ages past, probably since the last flood rolled over the face of the globe, have made them their abode. Strange as it may seem, they are of more intrinsic value than the richest mines of Potosi; yet their produce is all on the surface, and to be obtained but with little labour. They are the three Chincha Islands, and their produce is guano. It is the result of the droppings of birds, which in that dry and rainless region has preserved all its fertilising qualities, and has been stored up, by the decree of a beneficent Providence, to restore strength and vigour to the far-off lands of the Old World. We sighted them one morning, and running in, brought up in their neighbourhood. There were sixty ships, mostly English, anchored near them, for the purpose of loading with guano; and sometimes there are upwards of a hundred. A boat was lowered, and the captain, Jerry, the doctor, and I, went in her. We had to climb up to the top of one of the islands by a ladder; the cliffs are so steep, and being composed of felspar and quartz, so broken away by the action of the sea, that it is the only method of reaching the summit. The island was covered with thick layers of guano, and one cutting, about a hundred yards from the cliff, was sixty feet deep, or rather high, for the cutting is made into it from the side, just as a slice is cut out of a cheese. A steam-engine is employed in digging it out, and filling a set of cars, which run on a tramway to the edge of the cliff under which the vessels lie to load. Two hundred convicts were engaged in shovelling down the guano, and a number of stout negroes are employed in the hold to distribute it as it comes down through a canvas shoot. They have to wear iron masks, as the fresh guano is stronger than volatile salts, and more penetrating than coal-dust.

The bird which produces the guano is a sort of tern, with red bill and legs. It has a long whisker-like feather curling out under the ear on each side. The top of the head and the tips of the wings and tail are black. The body, which is about ten inches long, is of a dark-slate colour. Large flocks of gulls, divers, and pelicans, likewise visit the islands. It is calculated that, on one island alone, there were 2,000,000 tons of guano; and although from 200,000 to 300,000 tons are annually imported into England, it will take some time to exhaust the supply. Guano is a corruption of the Quichua word huaim. The Quichua is the language of the Incas. Under the enlightened government of the Incas the value of guano was well-known, and severe laws were enacted against any one disturbing the birds during the breeding season. Pulling away to another island, we found a number of Chinese employed in digging out the guano. We were not surprised at seeing them look very miserable and unhappy, for the oppressive odour arising from the fresh-dug guano was intolerable, to us even for a short time. We were told that many of them in their wretchedness commit suicide, flying, through their ignorance, from present evils to those they know not of, instead of endeavouring manfully to support their lot, if inevitable, or to seek proper means to escape from it if they have the power—not that I thought this at the time, by-the-by. I only remarked to Jerry that they were very great fools for their pains. A little way up the bay, on the mainland, is the sea-port of Pisco, a neat Spanish-built place. In the neighbourhood are numerous remains, which prove how populous must have been the country under the sway of the Incas.

Sailing north, we entered the Bay of Callao, the port of Lima. Before us lay Callao, with rich green plains on either side, covered with white farms and willow-trees, with the high cliffs of Morro Solar to the south, and below it the bathing-place of Cherillos. Six or eight miles inland appeared the white towers of Lima, surrounded by orange-groves; while above them, far into the blue sky, rose peak beyond peak of the ever-glorious snow-capped Andes. Such is the scene which, for many ages past, has been looked on; but a change—a great and important one—is taking place in the land; and what was our surprise, when we went on shore, to see English omnibuses and broughams—and more than that, the terminus of a railway, the carriages of which ran rattling on to Lima.

“Funny,” cried Jerry, when we found ourselves, with the captain and the doctor, in one of the aforesaid carriages, “to think that we are all away on the other side of that great big straggling continent of America, and yet to feel, as we look about this box, as if we were only skurrying off from London to Liverpool.”

I entered into his feelings, and the voyage round Cape Horn, and our different adventures, seemed like a dream, till we looked out and saw the giant Cordilleras, and then we were soon reminded where we were. We met a Peruvian gentleman on the railway, who told us much about the country. Among other things, while the Marquis of Villa Garcia was viceroy of Peru in 1746, on the 28th of October, during a warm but perfectly calm evening, while the inhabitants of Callao and Lima were not dreaming of evil, on a sudden, without a moment’s warning, the earth shook with tremendous violence. Every house in Callao fell level with the ground, crushing their hapless inmates. Many of those in Lima were likewise overthrown; and as the affrighted survivors looked seaward, a vast wave like a gigantic wall came roaring on towards the devoted place. In an instant every living soul in Callao, with the exception of one man who clung to a piece of timber, was overwhelmed by the raging waters. Not a vestige of the town remained. On went the wave, carrying with it a Spanish frigate, the Saint Fernim, and other vessels, leaving them high and dry far inland. Lima narrowly escaped complete destruction, and it was long before the inhabitants recovered from the panic into which the catastrophe had thrown them. For years after the destruction of the Inca rule, unhappy Peru groaned under the misgovernment and tyranny of the Spaniards, and rapidly and surely the aboriginal inhabitants decreased in numbers. Several revolts occurred, but were crushed with barbarous severity. At length the colonists of Spain conceived the hope of throwing off the yoke of the mother country. Although frequently defeated, the people of Chili were, by the aid of Lord Cochrane, at last successful. General San Martin, who had become the president, entered Lima on the 19th of July 1821, the viceroy La Cerna being cut off from any support from Spain by the Chilian fleet having retreated to Cuzco, where he took up his head-quarters. Ultimately he was completely defeated, and his whole army was destroyed. On the 20th the independence of Peru was proclaimed, and though the republic was long subject to intestine commotions, from what we could learn and see it now appears to be making very satisfactory progress.

We next wished to get up to Cuzco, the ancient capital of the Incas, situated high up among the Andes; but we had no time to accomplish the journey. We heard, however, of a very interesting place twenty-five miles to the south of Lima, on the coast. It was the city and temple of Pachacamac, “the creator of the world,” supposed to have been built in times long anterior to those of the Incas. We had two days to spare before the ship was to sail, and the captain said we might visit the place. The doctor, Jerry, and I, with a guide, a half Indian, set out, accordingly, at an early hour on horseback. We were accompanied by Silva, who, from speaking Spanish perfectly, went as our interpreter. He was still ill, and weak from his wounds and his exposure on the wreck, but he begged so hard that he might go on shore, that the doctor could not refuse him. He had won the regard of all by his respectful and unobtrusive manners, and had managed completely to obliterate the suspicions which the captain at first entertained of him. The doctor told us during the ride more than I knew before about the country. The early inhabitants were worshippers of Pachacamac, and when the Incas introduced the religion of the Sun, instead of destroying the faith they found existing, with an enlightened policy they allowed the temples of both to exist side by side. Passing close to the lofty cliffs of the Morro Solar, we rode through a large sugar estate, and then across a sandy desert, with several lakes in it stocked with water-fowl, and soon afterwards, from the top of a gentle ascent, we saw before us the hill on which stands the remains of the once celebrated temple. The mighty fane stood at the top of the hill, with terraces encircling it, and surrounding the base was the town. Beyond were seen the blue waters of the Pacific rolling on the sandy shore. We could not help feeling sad and awe-struck as we rode into the deserted city. The walls were there, although many were battered down, but the roofs of all had disappeared. Passing through the town, we climbed up a height 400 feet above the sea, where the remains of the great temple were standing. The walls surrounding the centre space are about twenty feet high, and we discovered even some of the vermilion paint with which they were adorned still adhering to them. Below this wall were a succession of three broad terraces. The interior shrine was entirely destroyed by Hernando Pizarro, when he was sent by his brother, at the suggestion of the Inca Atahuallpa, to collect the treasures which it was supposed to contain. The priests had got notice of his purpose, and flying, had concealed the greater portion of their wealth. Disappointed in his expectations, Pizarro having stripped the shrine of all its gold and ornaments, levelled it with the ground. The interiors of the larger portion of the houses were full of sand.

Having wandered about through this melancholy relic of the past with old Surley at our heels, who in no way seemed to enter into our enthusiasm, we turned to retrace our steps to where we had left our horses. We had observed some figures at a distance among the ruins, but they seemed to take no notice of us. Suddenly they disappeared. We found our guide standing by our horses where we had left him. He seemed rather agitated, but we could not make out what had happened, as we did not understand a word of his language. When we mounted, he inquired of us by signs whether we had got pistols. We showed him that we had not, or arms of any sort. He did not treat us as we afterwards thought he might have done had he not been an honest man, and say, “Oh, if that is the case, I will rob you myself.” He shook his head and showed us his own long knife, and signified that very likely we should have to use it for our defence. Such was the interpretation, at all events, that we put on his various signs. Silva, who had been a little behind, now came up.

“The poor man has seen some blacks who bear a bad character, it appears, and he is afraid they will attack us,” he observed. “However, show a bold front, and we shall easily drive them off if they do.” As there was no avoiding the danger, whatever it was, we made up our minds to meet it as well as we could.

“It has something to do with those fellows we saw among the ruins,” said Jerry. “Only I think they would have robbed us then, had they intended to do so.”

“Perhaps we are mistaken altogether, or, what is as probable, our guide has unnecessarily frightened himself, and tried to frighten us,” observed the doctor.

“We shall see, doctor,” said I. “I hope you are right.” Just then we reached a small hut, such as is inhabited by Indians. Jerry declared that he must have a draught of milk, as we saw some cows feeding near, and before the guide could stop him, he had knocked at the door. Instead of the kindly face of an Indian appearing at his summons, out rushed a big, savage-looking negro, and by his angry gestures seemed to inquire what we wanted.

“A calabash of milk, friend Sambo,” answered Jerry, in no ways daunted. While, however, he was speaking, two other blacks appeared at the door, while three or four more, flourishing long knives, came running toward us from a neighbouring wood.

“Put spurs to your horses, boys, and let us get away from this!” cried the doctor. As we were attempting to follow his advice, one of the blacks seized Jerry’s rein, and though I struck the fellow a heavy blow with my stick, he would not let go his hold. The consequence of the blow was nearly fatal to me, for the fellow with his other hand struck at me with a long glittering knife, and had not I pulled back my horse by an involuntary movement, he would have plunged it into my side—as it was, he cut my trousers and drew blood from my leg. Seeing things come to this pass, the doctor and Silva, who proved himself a brave fellow, began to lay about them, one with his stick and the other with a heavy Spanish riding whip; while old Surley, who, after growling fiercely, saw that the time for action had now arrived, began to bite away at the negroes’ thin calves and long heels, greatly to their annoyance. Each man, as he found himself bit, turned round and endeavoured to stab the dog, and very much afraid I was that they would succeed; but so actively did he jump about from side to side, now bounding here, now there, that not one of the numberless blows which were struck reached him, while his furious barking and repeated bites served most materially to distract the attention of our assailants. Still they were fully eight armed savages to five people with sticks and a whip, and a dog; and as Jerry and I were only boys, and old Surley had only his teeth to fight with, it must be acknowledged that we were very unequally matched. Feeling this, we should certainly have felt it no disgrace to run away if we could; but the black held on so tightly to Jerry’s rein that we could not escape. At last the negro I speak of, finding that he had missed me and could not hit the dog, lifted up his long knife and made a desperate lounge with it at Jerry. I saw what he was about to do, and crying out to Surley, my stick instinctively came down with all its force on the ruffian’s arm, while the dog sprung up and caught him by the throat. He let go at that moment the rein.

“Now on, boys, on!” sung out the doctor, who saw what had occurred; and bringing our sticks down on our horses’ backs, we dashed past the infuriated negroes, on whose heads Silva bestowed many a terrific whack with his stout stick, as they attempted to catch his rein. We were followed closely by the guide and our valiant ally, old Surley, at whom several blows were aimed, but he escaped them all, and at full gallop we pushed over the sandy plain, pursued by our black assailants. Happily they had no fire-arms, or we should have fared ill. When we had got beyond their reach we pulled up and congratulated ourselves on our escape, while old Surley came in for his due share of praise and thanks. He wagged his tail and opened his mouth, as if he were about to speak and say, “I only did my duty, masters; you feed me well, and treat me kindly, and I love you, and am ready to fight for you, and do you any other service in my power, as I hope to prove whenever I have the opportunity.”

It was very late when we got back to Lima, to the house of a merchant who had asked us to stay with him. He told us that the blacks who attacked us were, he had no doubt, emancipated slaves, who had always borne a very bad character. Had they been properly educated, and prepared for freedom, they might have turned out well; but those wretches are a melancholy example of what will be found to be the case in other countries where slavery still exists, should the slaves suddenly be made free, or should they rise and win their freedom for themselves. Unless they are carefully trained—taught to depend on their own exertions, and instructed in the pure truths of Christianity—they will, when freed, sink into a state of sloth and wretchedness; or if they rise to obtain their own freedom, they will, very certainly, be guilty of the most dreadful murders and every kind of atrocity in carrying out their designs. I often have since thought of what our friend said, and have prayed that the people of the United States will make due preparation for enlightening those held so long in bondage. On the nature of that preparation it defends (I have often heard Captain Frankland say) whether their dear-bought liberty shall give joy and gladness, or poverty and misery.

The next morning, before returning to Callao, we rode out to visit the ruins of an Inca town, situated on a hill forming one side of a fertile and well-irrigated valley. The walls of the houses were built of unburnt brick and mud, carefully constructed at right angles to each other, and very thick—indeed, they put us in mind of some of the pictures we had seen of Egyptian architecture. We were surprised to hear of the great number of Indians who still exist in the country. Under the present government they live happy and contented lives among the lovely valleys of their ancestors. Their huts are generally built of stone and covered with red tiles, creepers being trained to trail over the walls, over which often a huge pumpkin is seen to hang, while a prickly cactus stands as a sentinel at the doorway. The dress of the men is a serge coat of an emerald green colour, without a collar, and with a short skirt; loose black breeches, open at the knee, after the Spanish fashion; and a long red waistcoat with large pockets. Pieces of llamas’ hide fastened round the feet serve them for shoes, while their legs are stockingless. On their heads they wear broad-brimmed hats or caps, adorned with gold-lace or ribbons of gay colours. The women wear the same hat as the men, with a mantle over the shoulder secured in front by a silver pin; a red bodice, and a blue petticoat reaching a little below the knee. Altogether they present a very picturesque appearance. We made another very interesting excursion in a canal up a river—or a stream rather, for it was very narrow—but what we were most struck with was the richness of the vegetation, the bark, reeds, and trees, and shrubs of all sorts which grew close to the water. What was remarkable were the palm-trees, which shot up above the other trees—themselves of no inconsiderable growth. We were sorry not to be able to spend a longer time on the river. It put us very much in mind of the scenery of the Amazon. We saw enough of the country to make us long to see more of it, but were obliged to hurry back to the railway-station to get to Callao, once more to embark on board the Triton.

It was night by the time we reached the harbour, the sea calm as glass; and it struck me that there was something peculiarly solemn as we looked out on that dark, silent expanse of water, after gazing as we had done for some days on the lofty snow-capped Cordilleras, and the laughing green valleys round Lima. Dark as was the water, no sooner were the oars dipped in it than it appeared as if they were ladling up some red-hot fluid metal; and as the boat which was sent to take us off pulled toward us from the ship, she left a long line of fire in her wake. Even when we scooped up the water in our hands and threw it into the air, it appeared like sparkles of fire, so long did it retain its brilliancy. The slightest movement in the water caused a flash of light. Jerry and I agreed that we had never seen anything more beautiful. The doctor told us that this phosphorescence or luminosity of the ocean is caused by a minute animal, scarcely perceptible to the naked eye, though sufficient to tinge the water of a brown or reddish colour. Other marine substances are, however, luminous. While we were waiting to step into the boat, the bay having returned to its original darkness, on a sudden it appeared as if it had become a vast caldron of molten lead. The waters tumbled and rolled about in sheets of flame.

“It is indeed a beautiful sight,” exclaimed the doctor; “never saw such a display of luminosity.”

“Grand, grand!” cried Jerry. “A thing to talk about—ah! what is that?”

We were all silent. There was a low, rumbling, awful noise, neither like distant thunder nor the report of cannon—nor, indeed, anything else I ever heard; the earth seemed to sink under our feet, and then as if it were being crushed together—rocks, and earth, and sand, all in one lump by some mighty force. It was very dreadful. Our knees positively trembled under us, at least I felt mine doing so. The boat rose and fell several times. I remembered the way in which old Callao had been destroyed, and I began to fear that a similar catastrophe was about to occur. For a time there was a perfect rest, no movement of earth, or water, or air—not the less awful on that account though.

“Is it all over?” at length exclaimed Jerry, who was the first to break the silence.

“I hope so,” answered the doctor; “but let us get into the boat, and pull on board; we shall be safer there than on shore, at all events.”

We followed his advice. As the boat clove her way through the water she seemed to be gliding over a surface of gold, overlaid by some dark sand which was parted as she went by. When we got on board, we found that our shipmates had felt the shock, the vibration of which must have come up as they supposed by the chain cable. For a long time we walked the deck, expecting another shock, but the night passed off quietly, and when morning returned there was nothing to indicate that an earthquake had taken place. I ought to have said that the present town of Callao was built at a little distance from the site of the old town destroyed by the earthquake, and on a higher and more commanding position.

Once more we were at sea. One of the most interesting places we called at, on account of its position and associations, was Panama. For many a year it slept on neglected and almost forgotten. Now it has been completely aroused from its lethargy, to find itself in the middle of the highway to California, and the chief resting-place of gold-diggers. It is bounded by the sea on three sides, and surrounded by a wall with ditch and bastions on the land side. In the centre is the plaza, into which converge several streets of old-fashioned, sedate-looking Spanish houses, with broad verandas and heavy folding-shutters. Now a change has rudely come over them. Above the door of one appeared, in huge characters—“American Hotel”; while a board announced that “Good Lodging, Brandy Smashes, Sice, and Egg-nog,” were to be obtained within. There are several other hotels with conspicuous signs, all denoting that they have been established by citizens of the United States, while there exist several restaurants, cafés, and newspaper and billiard-rooms besides. A steamer had arrived only a few days before at Aspinwall, on the east side, and the town was consequently full of passengers who had come across by the railway. Nowhere, perhaps, are the past and the present brought into greater contrast. We visited the ruins of several churches and other buildings with massive walls, which probably never were finished,—all attesting the departed importance of the place. Now palm-trees grow in their lonely courts; tropical climbing plants throw their festoons in rich luxuriance over their elaborate architecture, and banana-trees have taken root in the clefts of the crumbling walls. Panama, however, is not the identical city whence Pizarro sailed for the conquest of the kingdom of the Incas. That city stood six miles down the coast; and after it was sacked and utterly destroyed by Morgan, who murdered every soul then within it, none returned to take up their habitation there, and it still remains as he left it, a heap of ruins, now overgrown by rank vegetation.

We were fortunate in finding the directions Captain Frankland expected to guide his future course, and I got letters from home. How greedily I devoured them! Every word I read over and over again, and I kissed them more than once, when I knew Jerry was not looking at me. I do not give a longer account of the place, because I was engaged most of the time I was there in writing home. I judged from the delight I felt in getting letters, that mine would afford a somewhat similar pleasure; so I found they did, and I advise those of my readers who have to go away from home to remember this, and never to lose an opportunity of writing. We were bound for San Francisco, the giant mushroom city of the wondrous gold-bearing regions of California. I had always fancied that the Pacific was, as its name betokens, a wide expanse of island-sprinkled water, seldom or never ruffled by a storm. At length I had practical proof of my mistake. We had made a good offing from the coast, to give a wide berth to that narrow strip of land which runs from north to south, and is known as Lower California. I saw the captain looking constantly at the barometer; Jerry and I looked also, for we guessed that something was the matter. The quicksilver sank lower and lower in the tube, showing that the superincumbent atmosphere had become lighter, or more rarified, and that a current of air would soon come in from some direction or other and fill it up.

“What’s going to happen?” I asked of Jerry, seeing that the glass, or rather the fluid in it, fell more and more.

“Why, we are going to have such a gale as we don’t often meet with, I suspect,” he answered. Just as he spoke, his father’s voice was heard on dock. We immediately hurried there as fast as we could fly. At the time there was but little wind, then it became perfectly calm, with only a long heavy swell from the southward. The calm was of short duration.

“All hands shorten sail!” sung out the captain. The crew sprung aloft; so did Jerry and I. We never shirked our duty, and Captain Frankland knew that if he let us do so, whatever the excuse, we should never become true seamen. It was hard work to hold on to the yard, much more to get in the stiff canvas. I have heard of people having their teeth blown down their throats by a gale; I thought mine would have gone, and then I should have gone too, for I literally had to hold on by them to steady myself on the yard. Jerry was not far from me. We tugged and hauled away, and at last got the canvas rolled up as we best could; but I must own that it was far from well done. The gale was still increasing in strength, and we were not sorry to find ourselves safe on deck again—so, I think, was the captain to see us. Perhaps, however, he had got so accustomed to the risks his son was constantly running, that he did not think about it. Scarcely had we come down from aloft, and were looking about to see what was going to happen, than we saw away to the south-east, far as the eye could reach, a tumbling mass of foaming waters rushing on at a furious rate towards us.

Meantime the storm stay-sails had been set, and the helm being put down, the ship was hove-to with her head to the eastward. As the seas came with the swell, they were regular, and though the ship plunged violently, now rising to the summit of a wave, now sinking down into the trough, there was no fear of any of them breaking on board provided our masts stood. Such was the state of things when night came on. The wind howled, and whistled, and shrieked; the sea roared and hissed; the timbers and the masts groaned; the bulkheads creaked; and everything and everybody which was not secured very tightly, tumbled and rolled about in a most uncontrollable manner. For my part, I confess that I more than once wished I were safe on shore again. As to turning in, not one of us thought of doing that. Still the glass was falling, and still the gale was increasing. With regard to eating, also, all we could do was to nibble a biscuit; for, as Jerry observed, had we attempted to put anything into our mouths with a fork, the chances were that we should have sent fork and all down our throats, or dug the prongs into our eyes or noses, or done some other mischief. Every now and then Jerry and I started up on deck to see how things were going on, not that we could be of any use there. Just as we had agreed to go below again, a blast, as if a fresh hand had beep added to the bellows, came down upon us; there was a terrific report, the ship heeled over on her side as if she were going down, and away flew the stay-sails out of the bolt-ropes, followed by nearly all the canvas, which, ill furled in our hurry, broke loose from the gaskets, and, fluttering away with loud flaps, was soon reduced to ribbons, knotted and twisted in every conceivable way. As the ship fell off into the trough of the sea when her sails rent, a foaming billow came roaring up, and striking her, made a clean breach over us. There were shouts and cries fore and aft. Jerry and I held on for our lives. Happily the stanchions we held to did not give way. Half terrified, and not knowing what was next to happen, we tried to pierce the gloom which surrounded us. Jerry’s chief anxiety was for his father; so was mine, and for Cousin Silas likewise, and, indeed, for our kind friend the doctor. I had time also, strange as it may seem, to think about old Surley, and to hope that he had not been washed overboard, for unwisely he had followed us on deck. Very soon we were satisfied that the captain was safe, for we heard him issuing orders in a clear voice which sounded high above the gale. Directly afterwards Cousin Silas passed us on his way forward, to get the fore-stay-sail on the ship, to bring her head round.

“If that does not do, what will happen?” I asked of Jerry.

“We shall have to cut away the mizzen-mast and the main-mast too,” he answered. “Pleasant, won’t it be?” I hoped that we should not be driven to this alternative. As soon as the captain had given the necessary orders for the safety of the ship, we heard him telling Ben Yool to go and look for us.

“They be safe enough, sir,” was the answer. “I see’d them after the squall.”

“Ay, ay, father, we are all right here,” sung out Jerry. How high and shrill his voice sounded amid the roar of the tempest! By this time the sail was hoisted, the helm was put up—the ship’s head rose and fell, and rose again. At length the canvas felt the force of the wind.

“Hurrah! hurrah!” was shouted fore and aft. Slowly round came her head—the helm was righted. The fore-staysail was quickly hauled down again, or the next squall would have taken it out of the bolt-ropes, and away we flew under bare poles—now plunging headlong into the deep valleys before us, our stern lifted high up above the seas—now climbing the opposite side of the watery hill, the wave following us as it came up, vast and indistinct in the gloom of night, looking as if it must overwhelm us.

“But what has become of old Surley?” I asked of Jerry, when we had time to draw our breath a little more freely. “Can the dear old fellow be washed overboard?”

“I hope not; perhaps he didn’t like the look of things on deck, and skulked down below again,” answered Jerry. “Let us go and look for him.”

This was no easy work, in the way the ship was pitching and tumbling about, and not without considerable risk; but on that point we did not very much trouble our heads. Old Surley was always ready to fight for us; and had we thought about the matter, we should have been ready to go through any amount of danger for his sake. Letting go our hold, therefore, away we crawled, grasping at anything we could reach, to prevent ourselves from being rolled away to leeward. At last we reached the forecastle, where the men had all huddled together, but old Surley was not there. This made us very anxious about him. No one had seen him. We began to fear that, as he had not hands to hold on by, he must have been washed overboard when the heavy sea struck the ship which had laid her on her beam ends.

“You’d better not be scuttling about the decks, young gentlemen,” said Ben Yool. “Another of those big seas may come, and then if you are caught by it you may be carried away further off than you’ll like.”

“Thank you, Ben,” we answered. “We’ll take care of ourselves; but we must first find old Surley, whatever happen.” Saying this, we began to work our way aft again, peering and putting our hands into every place where we thought he could be stowed away. As we were passing along close to the booms on the starboard side, under the long boat, I thought amidst the howling of the tempest that I heard a low whine. I told Jerry. We together hunted about the spot till our hands touched a hairy coat. It was that of old Surley. Of that we were certain, by hearing him again whine. He could not move. Poor fellow, he had been jammed in among the booms. We judged that there would be great difficulty in releasing him, but after feeling about in all directions round him, we determined to make the attempt. I took his head and Jerry took his tail, and, watching our opportunity as the spars separated by the movement of the ship, we lifted him out of the trap in which he had been caught. He licked my face and hands, and then turned round and did the same to Jerry; indeed, he took every means to evince his gratitude. We were very happy to find that none of his bones had been broken, and together we all three scrambled back in the best way we could to the cabin. Old Surley seemed to be very hungry after his imprisonment, so I made another excursion on deck to the cook’s larder, and got him a piece of meat, with which I returned to the cabin. We should have been glad of something of the sort ourselves, but as we could not attempt to cook anything, and the meat I had brought was raw, we gave the whole of it to our four-footed friend. We all sat down on the deck of the cabin, holding on by the legs of the table—that is to say, Jerry and I held on, and Surley lay between us. The doctor was in his berth. After, as he said, he had sufficiently enjoyed the scene on deck, he had wisely turned in, feeling that he could be of no use anywhere else. Never before had I spent so uncomfortable a night on board. We were very wet, and cold, and hungry, and not at all certain that the ship would not go down, and carry us and all hands with her.

“It’s not so bad, though, as the time we spent on the bottom of the boat among the Falkland Islands,” observed Jerry.

“But that only lasted a short time,” I remarked. “For what we know, it may blow as hard as it does now for a week to come. What shall we do then?”

“Grin and bear it. That’s the only thing to be done that I know of,” answered Jerry.

All that night we sat up as I have described, now and then dozing off for a short time, but then waking up again as the ship gave a more tremendous plunge than before. At last the captain came and lay down on the sofa, and seeing that we were all safe, went to sleep; but he was soon on deck again, and remained there till daylight. All that day the gale blew as hard, if not harder than ever, and we went rolling and pitching away before it. All the people were sent below except the hands at the wheel, and they secured themselves there, lest they should be washed away by the seas which threatened every moment to break aboard us. As to looking out, all we could see were the foaming mountains of water rising up in broken masses around us, and the sheets of spray which never-ceasingly flew over us. Night came on again, and matters had not mended. The glass was still lower than ever. Jerry and I had managed to shift our clothes, so that we were more comfortable than on the former night, and old Surley had had a lesson not to venture on deck again. His coat was thus dry, and we all lay down together to pass the night. Having scarcely closed our eyes the night before, we soon went to sleep. Never have I slept more soundly. Suddenly I woke up. The ship was plunging as heavily as before, and the wind was howling and the sea roaring as loudly as ever. Still only half awake, I found my way up the companion-ladder. I looked out. No one was to be seen on deck—the dark mountain seas and the confused mass of rigging could alone be perceived. I cast my eyes aloft? What was that I saw? High up in the air, at the main-topmast-head, there was perched a ball of fire. I was so astonished, and, I may say, alarmed, that I could not speak. What could the phenomenon portend? It stayed there for some time, then all of a sudden it glided down, and went out to the main-top-sail yard-arm—a bright, glowing, flaming ball. It will be setting the ship on fire! I thought that I would go and rouse up some one to tell what I had seen, in case there was any danger to be apprehended. Still I could not tear myself away from my post. I shouted out to Jerry, but he did not hear me. I was just returning below when I found Cousin Silas at my shoulder.

“So, Harry, you want to find out when the gale will have done blowing,” said he.

“Yes, I do indeed; but look there!” I exclaimed, pointing to the ball of fire.

“Ah, there’s old Jack o’ lantern!” he answered composedly. “Not a bad sign either. A gale seldom lasts long after he has come. Look at him, he is rather playful to-night.” He was indeed. Sometimes the light would ascend and then descend the masts, then run along the yards, and waiting a little at each yard-arm, would be back again and slip down one of the stays to the fore-mast, and mount up in a second to the fore-topmast head. Sometimes, when the ship rolled very much, the mast-head would leave it floating in the air, but as she rolled back again it would quickly re-attach itself. More than once it got divided into several parts, as it flew about the rigging, but was very speedily re-united again. Cousin Silas laughed when I told him that I thought it might do us some injury.

“Oh no; Jack is a very harmless fellow,” he answered. “More than once, when it has not been blowing as hard as it does now, before I was out of my apprenticeship, I and others have chased Jack about the rigging, and caught him too. When near, he seems to have a very dull, pale light. I and another fellow determined to have him. At last I clutched him. I felt that I had got something clammy, as it were, which stung my skin like a handful of thin jelly-fish. I brought him down on deck, and clapped him into a box. In the morning I could feel that there was something in the box, but all the light was gone, and the box hadn’t been opened long before the thing, whatever it was, was gone too.”

Had anybody but Cousin Silas given me this account, I should scarcely have believed him; and even in this case I had some little difficulty in not supposing that he must, in some way or other, have been deceived.

Jack, however, did not bring us the fine weather we wished for. Daylight returned, and we were little better off than before. We nibbled some biscuit, as Jerry said, to keep our spirits up, and then had a look at the glass. It had risen two degrees. Still the sea ran very high. Jerry and I went at last on deck, followed by Surley. The captain and officers were there, for they had resolved to try and bring the ship to; as she was running a long way out of her course. This, after a time, was done, when the wind lulled, under a close-reefed fore-topsail. We rode after this much more pleasantly, and then the sea began to go down, and once more we could move about the deck without danger of being washed overboard.

“All hands make sail!” was at length the cheering cry, just as the sun had set, as the poets say, in his ocean bed. We sprang aloft—Jerry and I racing who should be first up on the yard-arm. Surley looked as if he would like to follow. Jerry beat me. The ship was still rolling heavily in the swell after the gale. He was springing out towards the yard-arm, laughing gaily at his success, when the ship gave a roll, and away he was sent clear of the bulwarks and into the sea. To glide down by a back-stay and to jump overboard after him was the work of a moment. I scarcely knew what I was doing. I fancied that I just heard the cry of “A man overboard;” but I was not certain. I knew that I was for my size a good swimmer, and I wanted to save my friend. He could swim, but not much. He threw up his arms; I saw him, and struck out towards him. I had a companion, I found, hastening also to his rescue. It was old Surley. He swam faster than I did, seeming to know the importance of haste. We were not without means of support, for as Jerry fell the life-buoy had been let go. It was such as are carried by men-of-war, and could support several people. I sung out to Jerry. He heard my voice, but he only answered faintly. He had got his mouth full of water, and had been stunned and confused by his fall. He was beating the water wildly, forgetting apparently that he could swim.

“Help! help!” he sung out; “I’m sinking! I’m sinking!” I did my utmost to reach him, but was still some way off. Surley dashed towards him, and seized him by the collar, holding his head above water. I saw that the best thing I could do was to tow the life-buoy up to him. It was not far off. Surley seemed to divine my intention, and swam towards it. At last I got it up to Jerry. He had just strength enough left to catch hold of it. Old Surley put his paws in the beckets to support himself, and then we all three were hanging on to the life-buoy, while the ship, as it seemed to us, was running far away, already almost concealed by the thick clouds of spray with which we were surrounded.

Chapter Eleven.

Adventures in Mexico.

“I am so glad you are saved, Jerry,” said I. These were the first words I spoke after we had got hold of the life-buoy.

“But are we saved?” he exclaimed. “Will the ship be able to come back? and if she does, will they see us, do you think?”

“They’ll not desert us—of that we may be certain,” I replied; and I thought how heart-broken Captain Frankland would be when he found that his son had fallen overboard and was in all probability lost. Strange to say, I did not think at all of my own perilous position. I had gone to save Jerry, and it seemed a matter of course that I must save him. It must be remembered that our heads were very little above the level of the water, and that although the sea had gone down considerably, we were surrounded by masses of foam—now sinking into the trough, now rising to the top of a wave. Our view, therefore, was very limited. We were looking out eagerly for the ship through the thickening gloom. Happily, when the life-buoy was let go, the trigger was pulled. This set off a sort of blue light, which burned at the top, and which water could not extinguish. We felt sure, therefore, that as long as that light continued burning we should be seen by those on board. Our great dread was that the light would go out before the ship could get back to us. We strained our eyes in the direction of the ship. The thickening gloom and mist were rapidly encircling her, and shrouding her from our sight.

“O Harry, Harry, she’s going away, and they won’t know where to look for us!” cried Jerry. “Poor father, what will he do? and my carelessness has brought you into this trouble, and poor Surley too. I wish you hadn’t jumped overboard for me.”

“I’m very glad I did, for I don’t think that you would have been alive now if I had not,” I answered; “and don’t have any regrets about me—I only did my duty, and I am sure that you would have done the same for me. But I say, do you remember what Mr Brand talked about when we were holding on by the bottom of the boat among the Falklands?”

“Yes, I do; something about our being summoned before many moments to stand before the Judge of all the world,” answered Jerry. “I’ve been thinking of that just now.”

“So have I,” said I. “Well, it strikes me that if we thought about it oftener we should be better prepared for the time when it does come. Come it will, I know,—‘as a thief in the night,’ the Bible says. I’ll try and think more on the subject, so that when the moment does come I may be ready.”

Many people make resolutions as we did: how few keep them! It is extraordinary that we should have been able to talk so much in the position in which we were placed. As I was saying, we strained our eyes gazing after the ship.

“Jerry,” I exclaimed suddenly, “she has hove about—I am certain of it! See, see! she is coming nearer!”

Breathlessly we watched. Even though the gloom was thickening, we could discern that her bow was turned towards us. We shouted in our eagerness—not to show where we were: there was no use in that, nor could we have made ourselves heard; the light also from the life-buoy was still burning brightly. On came the ship towards us. There was no doubt about the matter.

“There’s down with the helm!” cried Jerry. “They are going to heave to—hurrah! hurrah!”

In another minute the ship lay hove-to a short distance to windward of us. She looked like some huge dark spirit rising out of the ocean. We knew that they must be lowering a boat, though we could not see it. Then we shouted, to show that we were all right and in good heart. A shout from the boat’s crew was given in return, and a light was held up to show us that help was coming. Over the waves it came dancing towards us. In a few minutes more the boat was up to us, with Mr Brand at the helm. Whenever any very important work was to be performed, I observed the captain liked to intrust it to Cousin Silas.

“Take old Surley off first!” exclaimed Jerry. Manuel Silva, who had, it appeared, insisted on coming, was about to help him in. “He has had hard work to hold on, poor fellow.” So Surley was taken into the boat, and then I, for Jerry would not get in till the last; and then the life-buoy was lifted in, and in a very short time we were all safe on deck, and the ship once more steering towards the American coast.

We were earned below—that is to say, Jerry and I. The men took care of Surley. We were put into our berths, and the doctor came to us, and we were rubbed, and had some hot brandy and water; and then I, at all events, felt all to rights. Jerry had been hurt by his fall, and it took him much longer to recover. The captain went and sat by him; and Jerry told me that he heard him offering up his thanks to our merciful God for having restored his son to him. He then came and talked to me, and told me how sorry he should have been had I been lost, and how grateful he felt to me for having been the means of saving his son’s life. I do not know exactly what I said. I remember I told him what I was sure of,—that Jerry would have done exactly the same for me. There was this difference, that I could swim very well, and that Jerry could swim very little, so that I deserved less thanks than he should have done had he jumped in for me, considering that he would have run far greater risk for my sake than I had done for his. The captain smiled when I said this, but made no remark. He had always been kind to me,—he was now kinder than ever; but this did not prevent him from taking every means to make me a sailor, and to keep me to my duty, while at the same time he afforded me every opportunity of seeing as much as possible of the world through which we were passing.

Silva, as I before have said, by his quiet manners, readiness to lend a hand when any work was going forward, and anxiety to be on good terms with all, had completely won the good-will of everybody on board. He was evidently a man of some attainments, and was more likely to have been an officer than a man before the mast. With Jerry and me he was apparently very frank. He told us how when a young lad he had been turned adrift into the world to seek his fortune, without parents or any one to care for him; and how he had battled on, picking up information where he could, reading what books he could lay hands on, and laying in a store of knowledge for future use.

“I have served on board vessels of every description. I’ve been on board slavers, and merchant vessels, and men-of-war of several nations. I’ve served with Lord Cochrane both in the Pacific and Atlantic; and for a long time I was in an opium clipper in the China Seas; but, as you know, lads, a rolling stone gathers no moss, and here I am, as poor as I was when I first began life. However, there are plenty of ways by which a man may make his fortune if he chooses, and I must find one of them some of these days.”

He spoke in a desperate, careless tone, as if he in reality cared very little what became of him, or what he did. We had begun to feel a strong liking for the man, and were now inclined to pity him sincerely.

I will not describe another gale which came on, and drove us away to the southward and westward for several days, the wind shifting about so much that we scarcely knew where we had got to. At length, when it had moderated, so that an observation could be taken, we found that we were on the coast of Mexico, not far from the harbour of Mazatlan, near the entrance of the Gulf of California. The ship had been so battered about during the gale, that the captain was glad of an opportunity of running into harbour to repair damages, before proceeding to San Francisco, where he could not expect to find workmen, and where, if he remained long, his own crew might be tempted to desert. As we stood in for the shore, a few barren rocks or small islands appeared in sight, and running through, we found ourselves before a pretty little town, part of it standing on the foot of a steep promontory, and partly on a sandy bank which encircles a wide lagoon. This was Mazatlan. It is inhabited by Mexican Spaniards. The first mate, Mr Renshaw, had not been on shore during the voyage, so the captain insisted on his going with the doctor and Jerry and me. We first went to an inn—a meson, as it was called. It consisted of a quadrangular building, with a court-yard in the centre, and a corridor running round it. All the rooms opened into this corridor, and had no communication with each other. The corridor was the general lounging-place; and at night many of the guests who preferred air to privacy, slung their hammocks in it. Round the walls, or on the pillars, they also hung up their saddles and other riding gear. As to furniture, there is something like a bedstead, a wooden elevation which keeps the sleeper from the floor; but chairs and tables are luxuries seldom met with, while washhand-stands are things unheard of—washing being but little in vogue among the travelling population. We were fortunate in falling in with two Englishmen—that is to say, one, Captain Driscoll, was an Irishman, who had been in the Mexican service; and the other, Dr Dwyer, was a merchant. They knew the country well, and were travelling towards Durango, the largest town in the neighbourhood. They had with them two young men, sons of rancheroes, as the Mexican cattle-farmers are called. They both lived some way up the country, and as they also were bound to Durango, and had speedily to return, it was arranged that we should all travel together. With the addition of our new friends’ two servants, we thus together mustered ten persons. We were all of us well-armed, and not without necessity: our friends told us that the country had lately been infested by large bands of Comanche Indians, who had been driven away from the borders of the United States, and had discovered that they were able to carry on their depredations among the Mexicans almost with impunity. “They are not likely to attack a well-armed party, and if they do, we can give a good account of them.” This account only the more excited our interest, and we quite hoped that the Indians would attack us. When we first went to the inn, we saw a large party on horseback just setting out, we understood, in the same direction. They were all armed to the teeth,—with pistols in their belts, some with swords by their sides, and others with lances or rifles. They made a gay appearance on their richly caparisoned steeds, with their broad-brimmed hats and feathers, bright-coloured sashes, trousers open at the knees, with silver buttons and loose jackets, with yellow boots and large silver spurs. They were laughing loudly and talking; and as they flourished their spears and rifles, they boasted how they would treat any Indians who might dare to attack them. The doctor said he thought that it was a pity we had not been ready to accompany them.

“Let them go alone,” answered our friend; “I know those boasting gentlemen too well to trust them. If attacked, they would leave all the fighting to us. We shall be better off by ourselves.” Our friends provided horses and all necessaries for the journey, and in high spirits we started, mounted on high Spanish saddles, from which it seemed impossible that we could ever tumble off. I will not attempt to describe the scenery in detail. It was hilly, and woody, and rocky, with valleys and waterfalls; now and then we came to a plain with a wide extent of open country, and then had to cross rocky ridges, and climb lofty heights among crags and pine-trees; but nothing came amiss to us or our horses. The young farmers had pressed us to stop a day at their father’s house, which was only a little out of the way. It was built in the fashion of the inn I have described, surrounded by the farm-buildings and pens for cattle. The father was a fine, hearty old man, dressed in the ancient Spanish costume; and their mother and sisters were kind, fresh-looking people, very unlike the parchment-skinned, withered crones we had seen in the town. They gave us for supper tortillas, which are thin cakes made of corn, and eggs, and fried beans, and some other things, to which we did justice. The next morning our friends asked us if we would like to see a hunt.

“Of what?” we asked.

“Of a bear,” was the answer. “One has been seen in the neighbourhood, and his destruction is resolved on.”

“Oh, by all means!” we exclaimed, wondering in what way the bear was to be hunted. “Let us go.”

After an early breakfast, we set out on horseback, accompanied by several men on foot carrying long poles. Each of the young rancheroes had a long coil of rope round his saddle-bow, to which one end was fastened—at the other was a running loop. This I found was a lasso—a weapon (for so it may be called) in their hands of very formidable character. The appearance the young rancheroes presented on horseback was very picturesque. Their saddle-cloths and saddles were richly worked, and the head-gear of their horses was adorned with gay tassels. Round their own heads, and necks, and waists, they wore bright-coloured handkerchiefs. Their jackets and trousers were made very loose, and adorned with a profusion of silver buttons; while on their heels they wore huge silver spurs, with rowels as large as the palm of a man’s hand. Two other rancheroes joined us. They had seen the hear, and found out his haunts. We reached a wild, rugged country, with a few trees in the valleys, and numerous large rocks jutting out in the sides of the hills.

“The rancheroes say that the bear’s cave is not far off from here,” observed one of our English friends. “We must be prepared for him. Keep by us and do as we do.” Scarcely had he spoken when a loud growl or snort was heard, and not a hundred yards from us a huge, grisly, brown monster rushed out from behind a rook, showing his teeth, and standing upon his hind-legs as if ready to fight. I had never seen a more ferocious-looking monster. While we were looking at him he went down on his fore-paws, and with a loud growl made a rush at us.

“Put spurs to your horses, and gallop down the valley, or he will be upon us!” exclaimed our friends. We were not slow to follow this advice. I looked round—the bear was following us. Fast as we went, unwieldy as the monster looked, he came as rapidly after us. I could not help thinking if one of our horses fell, what would become of the rider. It was not unlikely either that one of us, especially the first mate, who was not accustomed to ride, might tumble off. If so, the bear would certainly kill him. On we went as fast as our horses’ legs could carry us. The bear was, notwithstanding this, gaining on us. I kept alongside Jerry, so did the mate. Their horses could not go faster. I wondered what had become of the rancheroes; I did not see them. Another terrific growl was heard, and looking over my shoulder, I saw that the bear had gained still more on us. He was not eighty paces from us. Just then I saw Jerry pulling at his horse’s bridle. He hauled away lustily, but it was too late. Down went the poor animal over a big stone, and away flew Jerry over his head. I shrieked with terror. How could I help him? I turned round, hoping to divert the bear’s attention, but the monster took no notice of me, and made straight at Jerry. At that moment, when I thought that it was all up with him, I heard a loud switch, as if something were passing rapidly through the air, and two of the rancheroes darted out from behind a cliff, having thrown their lassoes over the bear’s head and shoulders. Away they galloped in an opposite direction to which he was going, till their ropes were at their fullest tension, and then their horses drew up, planting their feet firmly on the ground and dragging against the astonished animal. Instead of seizing the prey he expected, he found himself drawn up with a halter round his neck, and heating the air in a vain endeavour to escape. When he found that he could make no head against the two rancheroes, who were endeavouring to stop him, he turned round in a fit of fury and endeavoured to overtake them. Keeping their lassoes at full stretch, away they went before him; and if he stopped a moment to try to get rid of the nooses, they gave him a jerk which made him move on again. Jerry was, happily, not hurt by his fall, and having caught his horse, the mate, and I helped him quickly to mount and to overtake the rest of the party who were following the hunters. After galloping along the valley for a quarter of a mile or so, the two other rancheroes darted out from behind a rock, and whirling their lassoes round their heads, cast them with unerring aim over the shoulders of the bear, and then galloped away from him. The monster had now four lassoes round him. Mighty as was his strength, and fierce as were his struggles, he was in an instant brought to the ground. He bit, and struggled, and snarled, or rather growled in vain; tighter and tighter grew each noose till he was hauled over on his back. Some of the men on foot, who had been hidden in the neighbourhood, rushed forward, and threw their lassoes over his legs. He was now utterly helpless. Then the men came with their long poles, with which they formed a sort of litter, and off they carried poor Bruin in triumph. It was certainly much pleasanter examining him now he was made fast than when he was at liberty. We were told that his strength is so great that he can, without difficulty, overcome the huge bison whom he meets with in the plains. The doctor called him the Ursus ferox. His claws were long and strong, his canine teeth of great size, and his eyes deeply sunk in his head. We followed the huge prisoner in triumph till we came to a road, when he was put on a cart and rumbled off to the farm. Thence he was forwarded to Mazatlan, and very likely shipped off to some distant part of the world.

On our way back to the rancho, we encountered a herd of wild cattle, one of which the young rancheroes wished to capture. Off they set in pursuit of a fine bull they had singled out from the herd. One of them rode up on the right side of the animal about twenty feet off, the other kept a little behind at about the same distance on the left side. Away flew the noose of the right-hand man over the head of the beast; at the same moment the ranchero behind cast his by a peculiar knack over the left hind-foot, as the animal lifted it in running. The sudden jerk brought him to the ground, and the other ends of the lassoes being fastened to the saddles, the horses stood perfectly still, dragging away with all their might in opposite directions. Their masters quietly dismounted, and leaving their horses thus keeping the bull secure, they leisurely approached him. They then secured his feet in such a way that he could only just walk, and bent his head down to his legs, so that he could not butt, and making him get up, led him away a prisoner. Several were treated in the same way. We wonderfully enjoyed our day’s excursion.

The next morning by daybreak we set off to continue our journey. It was very pleasant travelling. Sometimes Jerry and I rode together, sometimes with the doctor or Mr Renshaw, and at others with our two English friends, from whom we gained a good deal of information. From all I heard, I should not at all like to live in Mexico. The descendants of the fierce conquerors have become a most degenerate race, without religion, without morality—each man ready to destroy his neighbour for the sake of getting into his place. That object seems to be the only end and aim of all their politics. As to patriotism, it does not exist. The nearest approach to the sentiment is made by those who wish for a settled government, that they may enjoy their property in peace and quiet. The consequences of the constant change of government are, that brigands abound, that the confines of the country are left open to the depredations of the Red Indians, and that the army of the state is left in a dreadfully disorganised condition—ill paid, ill fed, ill clothed, and utterly unable to cope with the evils which beset them. We stopped for a few hours at a ruined house to take our mid-day meal, and then continued our journey. Soon after this we came to some blackened walls which showed where a village once stood. We learned from the rancheroes that only a few weeks before there existed on the spot a pretty hamlet, with a contented and happy population of some fifty persons or so. One morning, just as they were setting forth to their work, the dreaded war whoop of the Indians was heard. Two or three hundred Red Indian warriors, armed with spears, rifles, and round shields, were seen galloping towards the devoted village. Some of the people fled. All tried to flee, for so completely unprepared were they that there was no time to make any defence. The women and children, as they were overtaken, were indiscriminately slaughtered. The plunder that was considered worth carrying off was collected, and then in wantonness the village was set on fire. A few of the fugitives had at length reached Durango with the tale of their misfortunes. Some troops had been sent out with orders to exterminate the savages, but they took very good care not to come near them, while the Indians indeed were probably making a foray some two or three hundred miles away. At night we reached a rancho, the owner of which was known to our friends. He received us hospitably, slung hammocks for us in one of the corridors of the house, and gave us the usual tortillas, and eggs, and beans for a feast, in addition to some very fine beef. The evening of the next day was approaching, when, as we were descending a hill, we saw in the plain below us a number of horsemen galloping about. We were too far off to make out what they were. The rancheroes gazed earnestly at them. Mr Renshaw had a good glass with him.

“Why, there are red fellows on horseback, with spears and shields, but without a rag on them,” he exclaimed. “They seem to be fighting with another set of fellows dressed as Spaniards, and, hang it, the latter are turning heels and flying.” The rancheroes seemed very much excited all the time, and rode a little way down the hill, that they might better see what was going on. They quickly turned round and beckoned to us to join them. We did so, and soon saw that if we would save the lives of the Mexicans, there was not a moment to be lost. Although there were thirty of them, there were fully four times as many Indians. It was not difficult to divine what had occurred. The Mexicans had been taken by surprise, and instead of pulling up and keeping close together, each man had galloped off in the hope of saving his own life, without thinking of his companions. The Indians had thus got in among them, and had already pierced several through with their long spears. Each Indian warrior, however, as soon as he had killed or disabled a man, stopped to take his scalp, and this gave time to some of the Mexicans once more to unite and to present a better front to the enemy. The resistance they were making, however, was very feeble, and as we galloped on we saw that they had once more begun to break. The Indians had been so intent on the attack that they had not perceived our approach, neither had the Mexicans.

“Now, my friends,” exclaimed our friend Captain Driscoll, who seemed as if by right to take the command, “keep together, shoulder to shoulder, and dash boldly in among those red villains. Cut them down, and pistol them as best you can, shouting at the top of your voices. I know them of old; they won’t stand that. When they hear English voices they’ll run; they know what they are to get. Wait till I give the word, though.”

It was very exciting. Down the steep hill we dashed at full speed, our horses seeming clearly to understand what we were about. Already several more Mexicans had, through their cowardice, lost their lives. We were within two hundred yards of the scene of strife. “Now’s the time!” shouted our leader. “Hurrah, hurrah! my lads! Give way, you red scoundrels!” we all shouted at the top of our voices. The Indians, hearing our cries, turned their heads, and seeing a large body of horsemen coming down the road, and not knowing how many there might be following, thought that it was high time for them to be off. Our appearance, also, gave the Mexicans courage, and they charged more manfully than they had done before.

“Wallop ahoo aboo, Erin gobragh!” sung out our leader, Captain Driscoll. “Fly, ye red scoundrels; fly, or we will cut you into mince-meat!” Whether the Indians understood what he said I do not know, but as he suited the action to the word, wielding a pretty heavy Toledo, they took his advice, and, disengaging themselves from the melée, urged their horses to a rapid flight. We, however, were too close to them to allow them to escape altogether with impunity, and three of them were knocked off the backs of their steeds, two of whom were mortally wounded. A third, I thought, was lead. He lay on the ground without moving, or apparently breathing, his tomahawk still held in his death-grasp. The cowardly Mexicans very soon put the other two poor wretches out of their pain, by running them through and through with their lances. Two or three of the heroes were in the act of charging the dead man, with the intention of running him through, when up he sprung to his feet, and away he went as quick almost, it seemed, as a flash of lightning after his comrades! Several of our party gave chase after him, but though he was on foot it appeared as if he would distance us. His leg, however, had been wounded, and he had miscalculated his strength. His pace slackened. Once or twice he stumbled; he felt that he could run no more. He was a brave fellow, and was determined to die like a man, with his face to his enemies. Flourishing his tomahawk above his head, he uttered his war cry, and rushed desperately towards us. A Mexican’s lance struck him on the shoulder, and brought him to the ground. The other Mexicans were about to despatch him, but Captain Driscoll sung out in Spanish, “Spare his life; spare his life; we do not kill fallen enemies;” and Jerry and I, impelled by the same feelings, threw ourselves before him, and by signs showed that we had resolved to protect him. The Indian seemed to comprehend what we were about, though perhaps he thought we wanted to preserve his life only to torture him, for he did not show that he was in any way obliged to us. The moment the lance was withdrawn, he sprung up with his weapon in his hand, ready to fight on; but one of the rancheroes threw his lasso over his shoulders, and, with a jerk which, had it been round his neck, would have dislocated it, brought him again to the ground.

“We will bring him along with us,” said Captain Driscoll; “the poor wretch has shown great courage, and deserves to live. Perhaps we may learn from him something about his tribe.”

The captive Indian was dragged along; and, finding that at present he had no chance of escape, he came on quietly. No less than eight of the Mexicans had lost their lives, so sudden had been the attack of the red men, and most of the bodies had been deprived of their scalps. As it was impossible to carry the corpses with us, and we had not time to bury them, they were left to afford a banquet to the birds of the air and the beasts of the forest—a common occurrence in this country. Some of those who had run away now came back, and by degrees the whole party was once more collected together. It was already late in the afternoon, and we were anxious to find some place where we could rest for the night. There was a village, we heard, at no great distance, and by riding pretty hard we might reach it by nightfall. After what had occurred, this we were all well disposed to do, for we could not tell at what moment the Comanches, when they found that our numbers were smaller than they had supposed, might come back and attack us. It was amusing to hear the vapouring and boasting of the Mexicans, as our friends, with their own comments, translated it to us. The greatest boasters were the greatest cowards. Not one but could offer an excellent reason for having run away. Several were going to procure help; others to get behind the Indians, to attack them in the rear; others were heroically making a diversion, to draw off their attention from their friends. It was nearly dark when we reached the village, but not a sign of living beings was there—no dog barked, no child’s cheerful voice was heard, not a cock crew. Alas! there were blackened roofs and walls, and charred door-posts. The Indians had been there; all the inhabitants must have been slain or had fled. We rode through the hamlet; not a human being was to be found. One house—the largest in the place—had escaped entire destruction. It had two stories; a ladder led to the upper one. It would afford us shelter during the night, which gave signs of being a tempestuous one. Behind the house were some sheds, where our horses might be tethered. The first thing to be done was to obtain food for them. It was more important that they should be fed than that we should; so a party was sent out to cut grass, and soon returned with a sufficiency. Most of the people had brought provisions, as we likewise had done, and thus in that respect we were very well off. Captain Driscoll, by tacit consent, was chosen to make the arrangements for our security during the night. In the lower room was a large hearth, on which a blazing fire was made, and by the light of it we ate our somewhat frugal supper. We then all climbed up into the loft, and the Mexicans, with their scrapes, and saddles, and saddle-cloths, soon made themselves comfortable beds, and we imitated their example. The Indian prisoner had been made to come up, and then they bound his arms and legs, and he sat in one corner with a man to watch him. I had been asleep some time, when I felt Jerry pulling at my arm. I looked up. The light of the moon was streaming in through a gap in the roof, for the storm which had threatened had passed off. Jerry put his finger to his lips to impose silence, and pointed to the Indian. He was sitting up; his hands were free, and he was busily employed in disengaging his legs from the lashings which secured them. What to do I scarcely knew. If the prisoner would go away without hurting any one, I thought it would be the best thing that could happen. Then it occurred to me that if he escaped he might give information to his friends of our whereabouts, so I thought it would be best to stop him. I was on the point of singing out, when up sprung the Indian, the long knife of his sleeping guard in his hand. He was about to plunge it into the man, when Jerry’s and my shouts arrested his arm, and leaping down the trap-hole at which the ladder was placed, before those who had been aroused could catch hold of him, away he flew through the village. Pursuit was instantly made, but before the foot of the ladder could be reached, he was out of sight. Those who had gone after the Indian returned looking very foolish; and the man who had charge of him was soundly rated, but that was all that could be done. I found that the same reason for apprehension was entertained by the party which had occurred to me. However, after a time, the Mexicans got tired of watching, and all lay down again in their places. I could not go to sleep. I did not like the thought of that Indian escaping, and I wondered that Captain Driscoll did not take more precautions to guard against a surprise. I found that Jerry was awake, and when I told him my ideas he agreed with me. We lay still for a little time, and then we got up and looked out. The night was perfectly still and fine. We fancied that if anybody were stirring we should not fail to hear. We went back into the loft, and then found that Captain Driscoll was awake. He asked us what we had been about. We told him our apprehensions. He laughed, and replied, that after the drubbing we had given the red rascals they would not venture to come near us.

“The Duke of Wellington tells us that we should never despise our enemies, whoever they may be,” I answered.

Captain Driscoll laughed. “The duke was not thinking of Red Indians,” he observed. “Don’t be alarmed, my boys, the thieves won’t come.” Scarcely had he uttered the words, when there was a neighing, and kicking, and stamping of horses’ feet in the court-yard below us. We looked out. The place was full of Red Indians!

“To arms! to arms!” shouted the captain. Everybody was instantly on their feet. I found that he had more arrangements than I had fancied. The Indians had got over the walls of the court-yard, but the gate was so blocked up that they could not open it to get our horses through. Their only outlet was through our house. The door leading to this was instantly occupied by some of the Mexicans, while others ran their rifles through all the crevices and holes in the walls, and began firing away at the Indians. They, disappointed in their attempt to carry off our horses, after ham-stringing several of them, leaped back over the walls, exposing themselves as they did so to the rifles of the Mexicans. Several were shot down, but the greater number made their escape. No one attempted to follow them, however, for there could be no doubt that a large party of them were in the neighbourhood, and that they would very likely renew their attack on us. They did not disappoint us. In less than a quarter of an hour the trampling of horses’ hoofs was heard, and through the gloom of night a large body of horsemen was seen galloping up through the street of the ruined village. As they got near, they gave vent to the most unearthly shrieks and cries, intending, undoubtedly, to terrify us. Captain Driscoll was not, however, totally unprepared for them. He had stationed the best marksmen of the party behind the walls of the enclosure and at the windows of the house. There was little time, however, to make the arrangements, but each man seemed to know pretty well what he had to do. Not a shot was fired, not a word was uttered. The Indians, expecting an easy victory, galloped along the road, flourishing their lances, or holding their rifles ready to fire as soon as any one appeared to fire at. They got close up to the walls of the house, and there halted, fancying apparently that we had already decamped. Some got off their horses, to examine the ground for our trail.

Tira! tira!—fire, my lads, fire!” shouted our leader in Spanish and English. Every one of us obeyed the order, with such effect that fully a dozen savages were knocked over, and many more wounded. We lost not a moment in loading again. The savages, firing their rifles at us, rode desperately up to the walls, as if intending to jump off their horses and climb over them. Had they succeeded in so doing, they might have overwhelmed us with their numbers. They were, however, received with another volley, delivered with such good effect that their courage failed them, and, wheeling about, they galloped away down the road as fast as they could tear. Two Mexicans only were wounded, and not very seriously. As may be supposed, no one went to sleep again that night; and as soon as day broke we were all in our saddles, that we might reach Durango before dark. We now proceeded with something like military order, to avoid a surprise; for it was thought probable that the Indians might have formed an ambush on the road, with the intention of attacking us. In the afternoon, as we rode along, we caught sight of a body of horsemen winding their way down a hill on the opposite side of the valley. They might be Indians. Each man examined the lock of his musket or rifle, and felt his side for his sword. They approached, and we then saw that they were a troop of cavalry. They were very ragged, and their horses were very miserable, and certainly they did not appear as if they could contend with the well-mounted Indians we had encountered. These Comanche Indians, as the Mexicans call them, succeed in their forays by the rapidity of their movements. They will accomplish a hundred miles in the day, driving several horses before them. When one is tired, they mount another. If any are killed by over-riding, their places can always be supplied from the nearest, cattle estate. They strike terror among the widely-scattered inhabitants of the borders; but there is no doubt, if they were bravely and systematically opposed, they would be very quickly driven away, or compelled to have recourse to more peaceable occupations for their support Durango is a pretty little town, with white-washed, flat-roofed houses, standing on a plain surrounded by high rugged hills, a remarkable feature being the number and size of the American aloes which grow in the neighbourhood. We put up at a meson, not remarkable for its cleanliness or the luxury of its provisions, and were not sorry to find ourselves once more in our saddles on our way back to Mazatlan. We reached that place without any adventure; and the same evening, having wished our kind friends, Captain Driscoll and Mr Dwyer, good-bye, sailed for San Francisco, the wonderful port of the gold regions of California.

Chapter Twelve.

Californian experiences.

One fine morning we found the Triton—one of a crowd of vessels of all rigs and sizes—standing in with a fair breeze towards the far-famed harbour of San Francisco. High black rocks ran out of the sea before us, like monsters guarding the entrance to that domain of boundless wealth. Loud roars, too, saluted our ears, which, on a further examination of the rocks, were found to proceed from a large congregation of sea-lions assembled at their bases. As we glided by, not fifty fathoms from some of the rocks, they looked up at us with inquiring eyes, as if to know why we had come there; and, certainly, from their formidable heads, they appeared as if they were well able to defend their native territory. Jerry could not resist the temptation of firing his rifle among them. It had a wonderful effect on the whole body; big and little sea-lions, and cows, and seals, all began floundering away in the greatest dismay into the water—their awkward-looking movements being very amusing; at the same time, thousands of birds, which had been perched on the rocks, or floating in the water, rose into the air, with loud screams, circling round our heads; while porpoises, or some other huge monsters of the deep, kept gambolling around us, and now and then leaping out of the water in sportive humour.

All this exhibition of wild animal life was, it must be remembered, within a few miles of the rich and populous city of San Francisco. The transition was very great; yet but a short time back a rude fort and a few small huts were the only settled abodes of man. The actual harbour begins at a spot called the Golden Gate, where a high rock with a flat summit projects into the water. On it the American Government are constructing a fort, which no hostile vessel will be able to pass with impunity. Passing this point, we saw before us on the right a perfect forest of masts, with every flag under the sun flying aloft; and behind them appeared, on a low hill rising like an amphitheatre from the harbour, the far-famed city itself. It was a busy, exciting scene. Some of the vessels brought bands of English adventurers; others crowds of Chinese, with round felt hats and long tails; others Malays; and some even seemed to have blacks on board. At a short distance from the city were moored several large ships, their masts struck, their rigging unrove, deserted by their crews, and some by their officers likewise. The doctor, Jerry, and I, were the only persons who accompanied the captain on shore. The mates remained to guard against all risk of any of the crew deserting. It was only just daylight when we landed, but all the world was astir. Time is considered too precious here to lose a moment. The town itself presented an extraordinary collection of strong contrasts: there were wooden sheds, and tents, and mud hovels, mixed up with vast stores and large dwelling-houses; while carts, and waggons, and coaches of every variety of build were moving about in all directions, among people from every part of Europe—Germans, Italians, French, Greeks, and English—the latter, of course, predominating as to numbers; Yankees, with their keen, intelligent looks; Californians, in their serapes; Mexicans, with their laced breeches and cuffs; and Chilians, in broad-brimmed hats; Sandwich Islanders, and Negroes from every part of Africa; Chinese, with their long tails and varied coloured robes; and Malays and other people from the East. Indeed, Europe, Asia, Africa, and America were there fully represented,—all brought together for the one object—a search for gold—all thinking of their own business, and caring little or nothing for anybody else, so that their aims were not interfered with. Those who had been to the diggings were pretty clearly to be distinguished by the one dark brown earthy hue which pervaded their dress, and such parts of their countenances as their huge tangled beards and whiskers allowed to be visible.

We first went to the market, to obtain provisions for the ship. It was already crowded with purchasers. There was a magnificent display of fruit and vegetables, and fish of all sorts and strange shapes, and huge lobsters and turtle of a size to make an alderman’s mouth water; and then in the meat-market there were hung up before the butchers’ stalls huge elks with their superb antlers, and great big brown bears—just such monsters as the one we saw captured, for they are considered dainties here—and beautiful antelopes, and squirrels, and hares, and rabbits in vast heaps—not to speak of pigs, and sheep, and oxen. The beef, we heard, was, and found to be, excellent. I mention these things to show how the inhabitants of a vast city like San Francisco, though just sprung into existence, can, by proper arrangement, be fed. A large number of the shops are kept by Chinese, who sell all the fancy and ornamental work, and act as washerwomen. They are said to be great rogues, and are, under that pretext, often cruelly treated by greater rogues than themselves. It is a sad thing to see heathen people coming among nominal Christians, who, paying no regard to the religion they are supposed to profess, prevent them from wishing to inquire into the truth of a faith they might, with a good example before them, be tempted to adopt. One Chinese appeared to us so much like another, with their thick lips, little slits of eyes, ugly parchment faces, in which age makes no perceptible difference, that it seemed as if we were meeting the same person over and over again. The signs over their shops are written in Chinese, and translated into the oddest English and Spanish I ever saw. One of the features in the street population of this city which struck us were the shoe-blacks. Each is provided with a comfortable arm-chair and a newspaper. He slips his employer into the chair, hands him the paper to read, and then kneeling down, works away till he has polished the leather boots; for which his demand is a quarter of a dollar—the smallest coin in circulation, it seemed to us. The sum is paid without a word; off walks the man with the clean boots, and one with a dirty pair soon takes his place.

There is no want of restaurants and cafés, or of places where food in abundance could be procured, though the price was rather astonishing. Captain Frankland had some business to transact with a merchant—he left us at one of them to dine. When he rejoined us, he told us that he would take us to a scene in which he hoped we should never be tempted to mix. We went out, and soon reached a magnificent building, full of spacious halls, with an orchestra keeping up a succession of attractive airs. Making our way, not without difficulty, through the crowd, we saw before us several long, green-covered tables, surrounded by people, who appeared to be engaged in playing, on a grand scale, every conceivable game of chance. Never did I see countenances so palpably expressive of the worst passions of our evil nature. The keepers of the banks were evidently villains of the darkest dye. They sat with their revolvers on the table, guarding the heaps of gold before them, as they skilfully managed the cards and dice over which they presided. The captain assured us that they and those in league with them—the professional players—always contrived to collect the largest proportion of the gold in circulation—many of their foolish victims dissipating in one evening all the hard-earned gains of a year. There were ladies, too, among them, gambling as eagerly as the men—dishonouring their sex. The sight of those countenances and the whole air of the place was sickening. “Fifty ounces”—“A hundred”—“Two hundred ounces”—were the words we heard repeated on every side. Presently a man started up—a fine, handsome young fellow—from before whom a heap of gold had been swept, clutching his hair. “And I was to have started for home to-morrow. O Mary!” he exclaimed, unconsciously, as he passed us. There was the report of a pistol—a cry. The young man was picked up dead at the door. The players went on as before, scarcely turning their heads to hear the account. Who the unhappy youth was, no one knew. We had seen enough to answer the captain’s object in taking us to the place. We strolled on through the city till we reached the Chinese quarter. There, also, we were attracted by a strange noise intended for music, produced by two stringed-fiddles, violoncellos, drums, and gongs, into a building—a very shabby place; yet in the centre was a table with heaps of gold upon it, and surrounded by a number of odd little men in wide jackets, short trousers, long tails at their backs, huge embroidered slippers on their feet, all deeply engaged, as if some most serious matter were going forward—their queer eyes twinkling with mistrust as they followed the course of a game which was being played. In the middle of the table was a heap of counters covered by a bowl, under which the players put their hands, and drew out a number of them at a time, which they counted with a long stick, and then the heaps of money changed owners, but on what grounds we could in no way discover.

“You laugh at those odd little Chinese, and think them fail objects to joke about,” observed the captain; “but we must remember that they are men with souls to be saved, responsible beings, like the unhappy people in that gorgeous saloon we were in just now. The vice in which we have seen them indulging is the same, though, as their light is less, they may be less to blame. My hope is, that what you have seen to-night will make you wish never to see the same sights again.”

In the public room of the hotel, where we remained for the night, a number of people were collected from all parts of the world. Some had been at the diggings; some had made money; several had come back as poor as they went, and much the worse in health; others were about to go up to try their fortunes, with secret hopes of succeeding where others had failed. The conversation of many of them was very amusing. One man especially interested us by the account he gave of his first journey up the country. He was evidently, from the tone of his voice and manners, a gentleman by education, though in appearance as rough and weather-beaten as a navvy who has put on a black coat for Sunday. He addressed himself to us, as he probably thought that we had come out to turn gold-diggers, and he wished to warn us of the dangers to be encountered.

“I had a good appointment in England, but I wanted to become rich in a hurry, so I threw it up, and came out here,” he began. “You may doubt the wisdom of the proceeding; so do I now. I had a companion, and with him and the mate of the ship I arrived in, as also her carpenter and a Chinese boy, I arranged to go up the country. With the implements we had provided, and as much food as we could carry, we got on board a small schooner, bound up the river to Stockton. We had on board a strange assemblage of people. Many of them looked quite capable of cutting our throats. They were mostly armed, and bowie-knives and revolvers were constantly exhibited. When after two days’ voyage we landed, we were glad to get into a wretched hut, where we could obtain food, and rest, and shelter, to prepare ourselves for our tramp to the diggings. We remained only one day, for the charges were so high at the inn that we should have been ruined had we stayed longer. Of the forty people who had come up in the schooner, very few accompanied us. We found a party of about thirty starting, with five or six mules carrying provisions. We joined ourselves to them. Each of us had a rifle slung to his back, in addition to a week’s provisions and our mining utensils, while our pistols and knives were stuck in our belts. We went on for two days pretty easily. I shall never forget the appearance of some people we met, who had come overland from the western states of America,—their haggard eyes, long matted hair, shrunk forms, and tattered clothes, which hung on them like loose rags fluttering in the wind. They were the remnants of a large party, the greater number of whom with their horses and cattle had died on the way, from the hardships they had to encounter. The latter part of the road, they said, was strewed with the whitening bones of men and animals, broken-down waggons, and abandoned furniture. The next day’s journey gave us a specimen of what those poor fellows had endured. The sun came out with intense fury, and struck scorching down on our heads. Not a drop of water could be got. There was a pool, we were told, some way on. We reached the spot: it was dry. Our thirst grew intolerable. Those who had been accustomed to take spirits suffered more than the rest. We lay down that night at a place where there was no wood. We had no fire, therefore, to cook our provisions. We could not eat the meat we had brought with us raw. All night long the wolves howled horribly in our ears. At daybreak we arose and pushed on. There was a water-hole, we were told, a few miles ahead. We reached the spot: it was dry. Many who had hitherto held out gave way to despair. The muleteers had skins with water, but they guarded them, revolver in hand, to moisten their own and their mules’ lips. Their lives depended on those of their animals. A few of us had flasks, but we could only venture to take a drop of the precious fluid at a time. One man had a bottle of brandy. He boasted at first of his cleverness in having secured it. Now, he went about offering the whole of it for a drop of water. Several of the brandy drinkers sank down. They had agreed to keep together. They implored us to help them. A deaf ear was turned to their entreaties. Our own lives depended on our hastening on. Three or four others dropped by the way, one by one. No one waited for them. ‘On, on, on!’ was the cry; ‘Water, water, water!’ At length, towards evening, the mules pricked up their ears: trees appeared in the distance. We hurried on. A glittering stream gladdened our sight. We rushed into it, greedily lapping up the water. Our mules drank eagerly. We felt revived and strengthened. There was abundance of wood: we lighted a fire and dressed our provisions. Several birds, and two or three animals were shot to increase our feast.

“Ha, ha, ha, how we laughed. To-morrow, we said, we shall be able to push on to the mines, and begin to dig for gold. In an instant every one was talking of gold. ‘Gold, gold, gold,’ was heard on every side. Did any one think of the poor wretches we had left dying on the road—men—brethren by nature, by a common faith—men with souls? Not one of us thought of going back. At all events, not one of us offered to go back. An all-powerful loadstone was dragging us on—the lust of getting gold. Had we gone back to relieve our fellow-beings, we should have been unable to proceed the next day for the diggings. A whole day would have been lost. Oh, most foul and wretched was the mania which inspired us! Unnatural! no; it was that of fallen, debased human nature; it was too true to that nature. Those miserable men must have died horribly—devoured by wolves or scalped by Indians. The next day we pushed eagerly on; yet we had to sleep high up on the side of a snow-capped mountain; thence we were to descend to the scene of our labours. Bitterly cold it was; yet we dared not move, for frightful precipices yawned around. We reached the first diggings that evening. The miners had just knocked off work, and crowded round us to hear the news, and to see what we had brought. Rough as they looked, by far the greater number, I judged by the tone of their voices, belong to the educated classes. And shall I become like one of these men? I thought. I soon became like one of them, and rougher still. ‘I expected a friend about this time,’ said one, describing him. He was among those who had fallen and been deserted. He made but few other inquiries. He knew that such events were too common to complain. I saw him brush away a tear, as he turned from us. That man was too good for the company he was among. We encamped by ourselves, we knew not whom we must trust. After this our travelling party broke up. My companions from the ship and I were to work together. We fixed on a spot, and erected our rude hut; then we bought a rocker and shovel, pick-axe and spade, with two tin pans, and set to work. I dug out the earth, another carried it, and a third washed it in the rocker. Our success was tolerable; but it was many days before we got enough to pay for the articles we had purchased, and our provisions. In the meantime, what scenes of wretchedness, misery, dissipation, and violence, did I behold! In every direction men were dying of fever and dysentery. At night the gambling booths were filled with those who rapidly got rid of the earnings of many days. I was witness, too, of an encounter between two large parties of diggers. One party had encroached on the ground prepared by the other, and refused to quit it. Bowie-knives, and pick-axes, and hatchets, rifles and pistols, were instantly brought into play. A sanguinary encounter ensued. Numbers fell on both sides; at last one party turned and fled. I visited the scene of the strife soon after. A dozen or more human beings lay on the ground dead, or dying—arms cut off—pierced through and through with knives—skulls fractured with spades and pick-axes, and many shot to death. The dying had been left to die alone without aid or pity, while their companions returned to their gold digging. Often and often I sickened at the sights I beheld, but still I continued at the work. I was compelled to continue at it. I had given up everything for it. I was like a slave chained to it by the leg. Gladly would I have gone back to my steady occupation and quiet life, surrounded by those I respected and loved. I have only partly described the hardships we endured. We had famine, and cold, and rain. Often we were without fuel, our clothing was ragged and insufficient, and sickness in every form came among us. Besides desperate quarrels among the diggers, the Indians came down upon us—fierce, sanguinary warriors, eager for our scalps. Their vengeance had been excited by aggressions made on them by the whites. We could scarcely leave the camp without risking an attack from them. Many diggers became their victims. Such was our life for months. At length my companions and I, by unexpected good fortune, saved a sufficient amount of gold dust to enable us to return to San Francisco. Steady work at home would have enabled me to lay by nearly as much, while my health and spirits would not have been broken as they now are. We kept together to defend each other. Many diggers on their way to the city, after labouring for years, have been robbed and murdered. My companions spent most of their hard won wealth, and returned to the diggings, where, one after the other, they fell victims to disease, or the knives of assassins. I had had enough of the life, and my knowledge of business enabled me to procure a situation in a merchant’s office in this place, where, by employing the sum I had scraped together, and by stript attention to business, I have realised an amount four times as large, in a quarter of the time it took me to collect it at the diggings.”

“What you have said, sir, is very true,” observed another gentleman present. “Things, however, have somewhat mended of late. Still, a gentleman has to lead little better than a dog’s life in those regions. For my part, although I was what is considered very lucky, I soon sickened of it, and considered myself fortunate in being able to get away with my gold in my pocket and a whole skin on my back. Still this is a wonderful country, and will become a great country some day. I have travelled over a good deal of it. Not long ago I travelled up one of the most beautiful valleys in the world. At the bottom was a green grassy sward with a pure bright stream running rapidly through it, over a clear, pebbly bottom. The hills on either side were clothed with trees of various descriptions, rocks here and there jutting out between them of many fantastic forms, while my ears were assailed with the cheerful sound of falling water, and my eyes gladdened by the sight of sparkling cascades flowing into basins, whence arose masses of white foam. Further on arose, appearing at the end of the valley, range beyond range of mountains, the higher capped with snow. Though the sun was hot, the air was pure and cool as it came off the mountains, tempered by the numerous cascades. At length I reached a spot where the valley widened, and there, spread out before me, lay a blue shining lake fringed by lofty trees, with the hills rising gradually behind them, while the water seemed alive with fish, which leaped from its calm depths, and with the water-fowl which skimmed over its surface. You’ll all say that was a lovely spot.”

We all agreed that it must be, and that we should like to take up our abode there.

“So I thought,” he answered. “But as a man cannot well live on fish and water-fowl without corn, and potatoes, and vegetables, not to speak of beef and mutton, and none of these things were to be procured within a hundred miles of the place, I was glad to get out of it. There’s another wonderful spot away to the south, near Sousa, where I have been. There is a stream called the Stanislas river. Up it I went, and then journeyed along one of its tributaries, the high banks of which are covered with trees, till I reached a broad valley. I could scarcely believe my eyes. There arose before me a number of trees larger and taller than any I supposed existed on the face of the globe. It is called the Mammoth-tree Valley, and is 1500 feet above the level of the sea. There were no less than ninety of them scattered over a space of about forty acres, and rising high above the surrounding pine forest. They are a species of pine or cone-bearing trees. (Coniferae (Wellingtonia gigantea.)) In the larger ones the branches do not begin to spread out till the stem has reached a height of 200 feet, and some are upwards of 300 feet high. One was 32 feet in diameter—that is, 96 feet in circumference—while the smallest and weakest is not less than 16 feet in diameter. The tops of nearly all have been broken off by storms, or by the snow resting on them. The Indians have injured others by lighting fires at their bases, while the white men have cut down one and carried away the bark of another to exhibit in far-off lands. It took five men twenty-five days to cut down the ‘Big tree,’ for so it was called. They accomplished their work by boring holes in the stem, and then cutting towards them with the axe. The stump which remains has been smoothed on the top, and the owner of the property, who acted as my guide, assured me that sixteen couple could waltz on it. In one a spiral staircase has been cut, so that I was able to ascend to a considerable height by it. My acquaintance, the owner of the estate on which these monsters grow, has given names to all of them. One he calls Uncle Tom’s Cabin, because there is a hollow in the trunk capable of holding from twenty to thirty people. One hollow trunk has been broken off and lies on the ground, and a man on horseback can ride from one end of it to the other. There are two trees called Husband and Wife, and another he called the Family Group, consisting of father, mother, and rather a large progeny of twenty-five children, regular sons of Anak. The father fell some time ago, and striking another tree broke off the upper part. That portion measures 300 feet, and the part which still stands 150—so that the whole tree was 450 feet in height. Three hundred feet is the ordinary height of the giants of the forest. From various calculations it would seem that these trees must have existed for three thousand years at least—perhaps more; I can only say that I considered the spectacle well worthy of the long journey I took to behold it.”

We thanked the stranger for the account he had given us. We heard many other wonderful stories, the truth of some of which we had reason to doubt, so I have not repeated them here. Captain Frankland was very glad to get away from San Francisco without losing any of his own crew. Probably, had he allowed them to have any communication with the shore, this would not have been the case.

On our return on board, the first mate told the captain that a strange brig had come into the harbour and anchored near us—that soon afterward Manuel Silva was seen holding some communication with the people on board. In a little time a boat came off from her, and after some conversation with a man in the boat, he said that he must bid us good-bye. No persuasions the mate used could induce him to stop, and he stepped into the boat, and nothing more had been seen of him. We were very sorry to lose him, and it struck us at the time, I remember, that there was something mysterious in his way of departure.

We were at sea about twenty-two days without falling in with land. It was late one evening when we sighted Woahoo, the largest of the Sandwich Islands, of which Honolulu is the chief port and capital of the kingdom. It was dark by the time we brought up in the roadstead outside the harbour. As I, of course, had read how Captain Cook was killed by the Sandwich Islanders, and had often seen prints in which a number of naked black fellows are hurling their spears and darts at him, I had an idea that I knew all about them, and had pictured to myself exactly what I should see when next morning we went on shore with our boat’s crew well-armed to trade with them. The next morning at daybreak the anchor was hove up, and with a light breeze we stood in through a narrow passage in a coral reef, which extends from one point of land to another, and forms the harbour. What was my surprise to see before us, when we dropped our anchor, a neat, pretty-looking town, with a fort on the right side bristling with cannon, a fertile valley extending far into the country on the left, and lofty mountains rising in the distance. Over the fort flew the Hawaian flag. It is formed of the British union-jack, with alternate blue, red, and white stripes. The streets are broad, and run at right angles to each other. There were numerous hotels, some of them really very handsome buildings on an extensive scale, and managed after the American fashion, while in the streets were a number of large and well-furnished shops. There are several churches and chapels of very respectable architectural pretensions. The Custom House is a handsome stone building near the fort, and the regulations as to duties are strictly observed. The chief place of business is in the centre of the town; and the most fashionable locality, where the residences of the leading people among the natives are situated, is a green sward skirted by the beach and shaded by lofty cocoa-nut and plantain trees. The European villas are generally further back—many of them very prettily built, and surrounded by gardens full of the most delicious fruit and flowers. Many of the foreign consuls and merchants live in villas a few miles up the country. Good wharves have been built, and ships of 700 tons can refit alongside them. Altogether Honolulu is a very wonderful place.

Jerry and I and the doctor, as usual, went on shore to see what was to be seen, and this time we were accompanied by Mr Brand. The ship was to remain in the harbour for several days, and we were very anxious to make a journey to some distance into the interior, that we might see the natives as they were away from the centre of civilisation. We had introductions here to several gentlemen, who promised to forward our views. We were amused with the extraordinary appearance of the natives in the streets—barbarism and civilisation met together. The former dress of the men was the taro, a kilt joined between the legs, so as to form a wide and very short pair of breeches. Some to this now add a blue shirt, sometimes with the tails tucked in, sometimes flowing gracefully. Some wear cast-off coats, or jackets, or trousers, of Europeans; but few of the common people have more than one of these garments on at a time, and still fewer ever encumber themselves with shoes and stockings. The women had on generally long blue chemises, or gowns and bonnets of every variety of colour and shape, and put on in all sorts of ways—some placing them hind part before; indeed, they had apparently exercised their ingenuity to make them as unbecoming as possible. Formerly, we were told, their head-dress was a wreath of flowers, which suited their dark skins, and had a very pretty effect. The chiefs, however, and their wives, were dressed in European costume, and the king in public wears the Windsor uniform. It is supposed that the inhabitants of the Sandwich Islands derive their origin from the Malays, and that at a very remote period a Malay junk, or fleet of junks, was cast on those shores. Their skins have the same dark hue, and their features the same form, as the Malays of the present day. It is said that this group is becoming rapidly depopulated. The people themselves have taken up the idea that their race is to become extinct, and seem willing to yield to their fate without a struggle. The diseases introduced by Europeans have tended to cause this, but they themselves have many pernicious customs. Among others, no sooner does a native feel himself attacked with fever than he rushes into the sea, or into the nearest cold stream, as he fancies, to cool himself. The result is that—the pores being closed instead of kept open and perspiration encouraged—death comes in a few hours. Among our friends here was Mr Callard, a missionary, who had resided in the island for some years. He has gone into a hamlet, and found not a person remaining alive. On one occasion he met an old man sitting at the door of a hut; he asked where the rest of the people were.

“All dead,” was the answer.

“Then do you come with me, and I will provide for your wants.”

“No,” said the native gloomily; “I will not move. I am preparing to follow them.”

The islands produce the paper mulberry, from which their cloths and cordage are made; the acacia, used in the construction of their canoes; the banana, the sugar-cane, the yam, the bread-fruit; and, the most important of all, the taro root. Of late years, coffee, cotton, rice, tobacco, indigo, melons, the vine, oranges, peaches, figs, tamarinds, guavas, and many other plants and fruits have been introduced. The natives pay the greatest attention to the cultivation of the taro root. It is planted in square patches, either in swamps or in ground easily irrigated, with banks and sluices, so that the water can be let on at pleasure. It takes eleven months to come to perfection. When dried, it is pounded on a smooth stone by means of another held in the hand, while a little water is poured on it, when it is reduced to a paste called poi, which is then fit to eat. Much labour and patience is required to bring it to perfection; and by the exercise of these qualities, there can be no doubt that the natives have acquired those habits of industry which are scarcely known among other savages. The only animals found in the island were dogs and pigs, undoubtedly brought there by their ancestors. The roots of the taro are from six inches to a foot in length, and three or four inches in diameter. In substance it is rather more fibrous than the potato. It is often eaten whole, like a potato. The skin is scraped off with a shell, and the taro, split into two or three pieces, is then placed on leaves in an oven containing stones, heated as usual, the whole being then covered up with earth to steam for half an hour.

Honolulu has become a great place of call for ships, from all parts of the world, since San Francisco sprang into existence. Vessels coming round the Horn, to make a good offing, steer for it. Others from Australia, China, and the Eastern Archipelago, touch here; while whalers have for long been in the habit of putting in here to refit and recruit. The extreme healthiness of the islands induces many people from California to come here, and the hotels and lodging-houses are filled with invalids, often possessors of considerable wealth; but, at the same time, from their profligate and dissipated habits, they set but a bad example to the natives. The natives are called Kanakas. They are generally fine-looking men. The women are fairer, and with regular features; many of them ride on horseback with men’s saddles, dressed in gay riding habits, and with a wreath of flowers encircling their raven tresses, which gives them somewhat of a theatrical appearance. The islands are governed by a sovereign, King Kamehameha the Third, who has a large family, and an income of about 1500 pounds a-year. He has likewise an army, clothed in gay uniforms, but there are almost as many officers as men; indeed, as the kingdom is under the joint protection of England, America, and France, there can be but little employment for soldiers. The police are of far more use in apprehending drunken sailors, and keeping order in the town. They are dressed in a blue uniform, with a gold-lace cap, and armed with a staff with a brass knob. The monarchy is hereditary, and limited. The king’s ministry consists of a premier and other officers, similar to those of the English Government, and many of them are English or Americans, and very intelligent men. We found that in the town there were all sorts of places of public amusement, and, among others, a theatre, where English plays are acted, and where the king constantly attends. We went, and were not a little surprised to see the boxes filled with very gaily-dressed people, mostly whites. It was a very hot night. The play was “Hamlet.” Hamlet had been using a pocket-handkerchief very liberally all the evening, pressing it to his brow and cheeks, and at last he said, “Oh, that this too, too solid flesh wouldn’t melt, and resolve itself into a dew!” Jerry and I applauded him very loudly. He gave us a wink, as much as to say, “I see you understand me.” He was evidently a wag, and Hamlet was not suited to him, nor he to Hamlet. There was no reason, however, because the royal Dane had been murdered, that his son should murder the Queen’s English at the rate he did, or the character of Hamlet as Shakspeare drew it. Who would have thought of Shakspeare in the Sandwich Islands? Shakspeare never acted in so pretty a theatre.

Many of the natives, although able to afford habitations of a European style, still live on in those used by their ancestors. They are generally of an oblong shape, with a very high-pitched roof, thatched with grass and plantain leaves; and as the eaves slant down to within a short distance from the ground, they have a very picturesque appearance. They are cool in summer, and are impervious to rain. The ceilings, which are very elegant, are composed of polished bamboo, neatly interwoven, while the floors are carpeted with mats of coloured grass. The walls are decorated with a native cloth, called tapa, which serves the purpose of tapestry. The house is divided into separate chambers at night by mats hung up on lines. The beds are primitive; a mat serves for every purpose, and a wooden roller as a pillow. Many of the Kanakas are well educated, and read and write not only their own, but several European languages likewise. There is one newspaper in the Hawaian language, if not more, and several works have been published in it, while the translation of the Bible is to be seen in every native hut. Of course, all this information I picked up from different people during our stay at Honolulu.

“We have not had any fun for a long time; I wonder what will turn up next,” said Jerry to me, after we had been there a couple of days.

The next morning, Mr Callard, the missionary, who was an old friend of Captain Frankland’s, came on board, and invited Jerry and me and Mr McRitchie, and Mr Brand, if he could be spared, to accompany him to the large island of Hawaii, round which he was going to make a visitation tour. Having to wait here for information on some important matters, he gave us the leave we asked.

“You may take Ben Yool with you also,” said he. “The schooner is rather short-handed, and you will find him useful at all events.”

Jerry and I were highly pleased with this, for Ben was a great favourite. We were soon ready with our rifles and knapsacks, not forgetting to take old Surley with us; it was a long time since the poor fellow had had a run on shore.

“Take care that the natives don’t cook and eat him,” said Mr Renshaw, as we shoved off.

The little mission-schooner, the Dove, was in readiness to receive us, and in a few minutes, with a fair breeze, we were standing away to the southward, towards the large island of Hawaii, or Owhyhee, on the shores of which the immortal Cook lost his life.

Chapter Thirteen.

Excursion in Hawaii.

We had a pleasant run for two days, with a light wind, and hoped the next morning to land at Kailua, the capital of the island of Owhyhee; but at sunset a sudden squall struck the little vessel, and had not Ben Yool been at the helm, and instantly luffed up, while Jerry and I let fly the foresheet, we should in all probability have been over, and become food for the sharks. It came on very dark and blowy; and as it was too late to make a harbour, we gave the shore a wide berth, and ran on. The next forenoon, when we made the land, we found that we were to the southward of Kailua. As we stood in, Mr Callard told us that on the shore of Karakakooa Bay, which was before us, Captain Cook met his death, and that he would show us the very spot where that event happened. I felt as interested as if I were about to visit classic ground. Often and often as I had been reading through Cook’s Voyages with delight, I little thought that I should see the very spots he describes, much less that one which has become sacred in our memory. Before us appeared a line of volcanic cliffs, of considerable height, the land rising again above them, covered with the richest verdure; which makes the summits of the rocky and lofty mountains beyond appear still more sterile and uninviting. To the right, among groves of palms and cocoa-nut trees, appeared the steep, sloping roofs of a native village; while on the left, where the cliffs sink towards the water, and groves of various tropical trees appear scattered about, our friend pointed out to us the very spot where Cook was killed. The cliffs near are full of caves, which are used by the natives as places of sepulture; and in one of these, it is said, the bones of the great navigator were deposited by the priests, and valued by them as relics. Our friend told us that he had constantly made inquiries among the chiefs and natives as to the affair, and that he is certain the attack on the whites was not premeditated. Some of the people had stolen a boat for the sake of the nails in her, with which they wished to make fish-hooks. He landed with some boats to recover it. While speaking to some of the chiefs on the subject, a number of natives collected; and without his orders the marines, believing that he was about to be attacked, fired. A chief was killed. The natives advanced, and, while he was in the act of ordering his people to desist, he was pierced through the body by a spear. Grief and dismay took possession of the hearts of both parties when he fell. By the then superstitious natives he had been looked upon as their deified and long-lost sovereign, Rono. This Rono (so their legends asserted) had in a fit of anger killed his wife, when, repenting of the act, his senses deserted him, and he went about the islands wrestling with whomsoever he met. At last he took his departure in a vessel of a strange build, and no one knew where he had gone, but all expected him to return. When Captain Cook appeared, the priests believed that he was Rono, and, clothing him with the garments kept for their god, led him to their temples, and offered sacrifices to propitiate his favour, while the people prostrated themselves before him—he all the time little suspecting the reason of the honours paid him. After his death some of the people naturally doubted that he could be Rono, but others still affirmed that he was; and it is believed that the priests took some of his bones and preserved them in a wicker basket covered over with red feathers, which are highly prized by the natives. In this they were every year carried about from temple to temple, when the priests went to collect tribute of the people. After the abolition of idolatry in 1819, it is not known what became of them; perhaps they were concealed by some old priest who still clung secretly to the ancient faith.

Talking of nails, it is extraordinary what excellent fish-hooks the natives will manufacture out of them. They prefer them to the best made in England. They still set a high value on them; but they are not quite so simple-minded as some of the Friendly islanders we heard of, who, on obtaining some nails, planted them, in the hope of obtaining a large crop from the produce! Scarcely had we dropped our anchor when we were surrounded by the canoes of the natives, who wore but the primitive maro. They brought off bread-fruits, cocoa-nuts, bananas, and other products of the soil, in the hope of thus making themselves welcome. One of them, who spoke English tolerably, undertook to pilot our boat on shore. We were eager to land. As we pulled in, a number of men, women, and children, came down to welcome us. The men, like those in the canoes, wore the taro, but the women were dressed with the loose blue gowns I have described, and with wreaths of flowers round their heads. We ran in among the masses of lava which lined the shore, and were kindly helped by the people to land. We observed that they were all especially grave, for nowhere are more merry creatures found than the native women. As we walked along they followed us in silence. At length our guide stopped and pointed to the ground on which we stood.

“There, white men—there, friends—there it was your great sea-chieftain fell.” He repeated, we found, the same words in his own language. The natives listened to what he said, and then hung their heads ashamed, as if they had been guilty of the sad deed. We broke off several pieces of the lava from about the spot, to take to our friends at home, and sent them on board the schooner. We were to accompany the missionary overland to Kailua, where the schooner was to meet us. After the missionary had spoken to the people, we were anxious to proceed on our journey, and one of the principal natives, who lived a few miles to the north, insisted that we should remain at his hut for the night; and we, accordingly, gladly accompanied him. We found the feast preparing outside the door, in the usual oven. Knowing that Englishmen have an objection to eat dogs, he had killed a fatted pig. The oven was a simple affair. A hole was dug in the earth, in which a large fire was lighted upon some stones, till all the earth around was hot; piggy was then put in, and the hole was covered up with loose earth; clouds of steam then issued from the earth, and when no more was perceptible the meat was declared to be cooked properly. We all sat round on mats in the primitive fashion, the food being placed before us either in calabashes or on large leaves. Instead of bread we had the bread-fruit. It has somewhat the flavour of bread, and answers its purpose, but has neither the appearance nor consistence of our staff of life. It is about the size of the shaddock, and, when fresh gathered, the flavour of the citron; but it is always eaten baked, when it has the solidity of a roasted chestnut. Besides these luxuries, we had some fish nicely cooked, which we ate with the thick interior of the cocoa-nut, which may truly be called the cream, while the juice served to quench our thirst. We had a number of visitors, who all, both men and women, chatted away most merrily, especially the women, who kept up a continued peal of laughter. At night the hut was lighted up with chips of a resinous wood, called kukia, which were stuck all round on the posts which supported the roof; and when we expressed a wish to retire to rest, mats were hung up to partition off our sleeping chambers.

It is, I find, impossible to describe all the interesting habits and customs we observed of this primitive people. The next day about noon we found ourselves, on issuing from a grove of cocoa-nut trees, on the shore of a beautiful bay, with high black rocks running out on either side, and a yellow, sandy beach. From the way the sea broke, first with great violence, and then a second time with diminished force, there were evidently two lines of coral reefs, one without the other. A number of people were seated on the rocks watching with great interest what was going forward. Some men, women, and children were in the water, while others with their boards, about a foot wide and four feet long, in their hands, were preparing to follow them. Placing the boards on the water, they threw themselves on them, and then swam out, diving under the breakers of the inner bar, and appearing on the in-shore side of the outer one. The great art appeared to be, to remain on the steep slope of the outer sea-roller as it swept majestically on towards the land, and then, just before it broke, to dive under it, and to reappear mounting up the side of the following watery hill. Sometimes a lad would keep above water too long, and the surf would roll him over, and carry away his board; but he quickly recovered it, and soon regained his credit. Shouts of laughter bursting forth on all sides when any such mishap occurred, showed that there was little fear of damage. The women and children kept generally on the inner bar, but were quite as expert as the men. On mounting to the top of the rocks we saw two of the men swim out beyond the rest, on the further side of the breakers. The natives seemed to be watching them attentively. Soon one of them was seen to dive, then the other. In a little time they both appeared, flourishing their knives above their heads, and at the same moment two huge black bodies floated to the surface, and were borne in by the rollers towards the shore.

“What can they be?” I exclaimed to Jerry.

“Sharks,” he answered, watching them. “Well, I should like to know how to tackle to with one of these monsters. I own that I shouldn’t much like to have to fight one of them with a suit of armour on, and a spear or battle-axe in my hand. I suspect even Saint George who killed the dragon would have found it somewhat a tough job, and yet these naked fellows make no difficulty about the matter.”

“It is just what a man has been used to,” I answered. “I daresay one of them would be very unhappy with a suit of armour on and a battle-axe.”

No surprise seemed to be created by the achievement, and the bold swimmers took their places among the rest on the rollers as if nothing had happened. When swimming out in this way, every man has a knife secured to his board. As soon as he sees a shark, he swims away a short distance. The shark approaches—he pretends to be very awkward. Keeping his eye on the monster, who begins to fancy he has got a feast prepared, he watches his time, and suddenly diving, sticks his sharp weapon with all his might in the under part of the monster. Sometimes the shark attempted to fly, but generally the blow is fatal, and he is towed in triumph on shore.

After spending a day at Kailua, the capital of the island, where there is a fort and a governor, and where several merchants reside to supply whalers with provisions, we embarked once more on board the schooner, and ran round the south of the island to a small harbour in the neighbourhood of Whyhohino, a chief missionary-station. We were received very kindly by the missionaries, and they procured us horses to enable us to accomplish one of the chief objects which had brought us to the place—a visit to the summit of the great volcano of Kilauea. They also found us two guides who were to accompany us to the crater, while two other men were to remain with the horses below. Mr Callard himself had his duties to attend to, so that he could not accompany us. Ben Yool had been left with the schooner, so our party consisted of Mr McRitchie, Cousin Silas, Jerry, and I, not forgetting old Surley. He always kept close to us, suspecting, perhaps, if the natives caught him, they might cook and eat him. We were well supplied with provisions, and with bottles of water, which we could replenish on the way. We travelled at first along the coast, and then struck inland, directing our course towards the lofty summit of the mountain, whence, even at that distance, we could see pillars of smoke ascending to the sky. It was getting dark when our guides told us that close at hand was a cavern in which we might pass the night sheltered from the weather. Torches of resinous wood were soon procured, and they led the way down a steep path, till we found ourselves at the entrance of an immense cavern formed in the lava. It was some hundred feet square, and from fifteen to twenty high. When lighted up by the torches, it had a very wild and picturesque appearance. The horses were tethered in one part, while we all went out and collected grass and fern leaves for our beds, and a good supply of fuel for our fire. Having cooked our supper, we sat round the fire, while one of the natives, who spoke English very well, told us some of the wonderful tales about Pele, the goddess of the burning mountain, and her numerous diabolical followers. Though our guides were now Christians, and professed to disbelieve all these fables, it was evident that their minds were considerably affected by them; so difficult is it to get rid of early associations. The cavern had become rather smoky, and Mr Brand had gone out to enjoy the cool air, when he called us to him. We looked towards the mountain, which rose in majestic grandeur before us, the summit crowned by wreaths of flame, which rose and fell as if impelled by some secret power within. After admiring it for some time, we returned to our bandit-looking abode for the night.

The next morning, leaving our horses, we set out on foot towards the crater. A mass of smoke alone rested on the summit of the mountain. The road was very rough, vegetation in many places destroyed, and in general we found ourselves passing over masses of lava, with deep crevices in some places and huge masses in others, while here and there the crust was so thin that it gave way beneath our feet. The heat was very great; but we found a red berry growing on a low bush, which was very refreshing. At length, after some hours of toil, we found ourselves standing on the summit of a cliff, while below us appeared a vast plain full of conical hills, and in the centre of it a mass of liquid lava like a wide lake of fire. It was what we had come to see—the crater of Kilauea. Below the cliff, inside the basin, was a ledge of considerable width of solid lava. We looked about for a path by which we could reach the plain. At last we found a steep bank where the cliff had given way. By this we now descended with the help of sticks, with which we had been provided. The descent was difficult and dangerous in the extreme, as the lava gave way before us, and huge masses went rolling and tumbling away, some in front and some behind us, as we slid down the steep bank. The appearance of the ground was such that we, with reason, hesitated on trusting ourselves to it. Old Surley, too, smelled at it, and examined it narrowly, as if very doubtful about running over it. Still, our guides assured us that other Englishmen had been there; and where others had been we knew that we could go. At last we reached the bottom, and walked on, with our staffs in hand feeling the way. More than once I felt the ground cracking under my feet. It was not hot, but it struck me—suppose it is only a crust, and one of us were to slip through into the boiling caldron beneath! I own that I more than once wished myself back again on cool and solid ground. To go through the ice is disagreeable enough, but to slip down under this black cake would be horrible indeed. Not five minutes after this idea had crossed my mind, I heard a cry. It was Jerry’s voice. I looked round—his head and shoulders only were appearing above the ground, and his arms stretched out wide on either side, while with his fingers he tried to dig into the lava, to prevent himself from slipping further.

“Oh, help me! help me!” he shrieked out; “I cannot find any rest for my feet, and shall sink into some horrible pit.”

“Stand back—stand back,” shouted Mr Brand, as the rest of us were running forward; “you will all be going in together. Stay, let me see first what I can do. Hold on, Jerry; don’t move, my boy,” he added. Then taking another pole from one of the guides, he laid himself along the ground; he gradually advanced, till he had placed a pole under each of Jerry’s arms. “Now, swing your legs up, and I will draw you away,” he cried out. Jerry did as he was told, and was dragged on to firm ground. The ground had given way just as if it had been a piece of egg-shell. Probably it had been formed by a sheet of lava flowing rapidly over some fissure without filling it up. Jerry was most thankful for his preservation, but he had too much spirit to wish to go back, and insisted on proceeding on to the borders of the liquid fiery lake. Before us, amidst the burning expanse, rose two lofty cones, one of them insulated, the other joined by a causeway to the ledge of lava. Besides these, a number of smaller cones were seen in various directions. The ground was also full of pools of burning sulphur, or other liquid matter, while huge black shapeless masses of lava lay scattered about in every direction, thrown out, undoubtedly, from the mouth of one of the large cones before us. On we pushed our way, notwithstanding, and at last we stood on the very brink of the lake of fire! I could not altogether divest myself of the idea that it might bubble over and destroy us. It was strange that no heat appeared to proceed from it, and yet the points of our sticks were instantly burned to cinders when we put them into it. After we had got accustomed to the strange scene, we agreed that we should like to mount to the top of the cone by the causeway. Off we set. We reached it, and began the hazardous ascent. There was an outer crust, which often gave way under our feet—still we pushed on. Our guides urged us to desist, saying that no one had ever ventured thus far and returned alive. Still they followed us. Up the cone they climbed. It was a strangely wild scene:—the fiery lake below us, around us; the vast masses of lava piled upon the plain; the high black cliffs on every side; the wild, hopeless desolation of the country beyond; and the numerous cones, each the mouth of a miniature volcano, sending forth smoke in every direction. We had nearly reached the summit of the cone, when a thick puff of sulphureous smoke almost drove us back headlong. A loud roar at the same time, louder than a thousand claps of thunder, saluted our ears.

“Fly! fly!” cried our guides; “the mountain is going to vomit forth its fiery breath.” Not a moment did we delay. Down the side of the cone we sprung—none of us looked back. Thicker and thicker came forth the smoke. Rivulets of lava began to flow, streaming down the cone into the lake below; some came towards the causeway, leaping down its sides. On we went, every instant dreading a fall through the thin crust. Ashes came forth and fell around us, and then huge masses of rock came down with loud splashes into the fiery plain. Some went even before us, and were buried deep in the ground over which we had to tread. The roar of the mountain continued. Down we sprung; a blow from a stone would have killed us—a false step would have sent us into the fiery pool, to the instant and utter annihilation of our mortal frames. I felt as if I could not cry out. An unspeakable dread and horror had seized me. At length the plain of lava was regained. No one was hurt; yet the danger was not past. Still the lava streamed forth. It might overflow the banks of the lake, for aught we could tell. Ashes and masses of rock fell in showers around us. We fled like Lot and his family, nor stopped till we reached the cliff. Then it was searched in vain for a way to mount to the summit. We did now look back to see if the lava was following us, but the glowing lake lay as calm as before. The outburst seemed to have subsided. Now and then a jet of lava and fire came forth, and a puff of smoke, but both soon ceased. At last, walking round under the cliff, we found a practicable way to the top. We were saved, and grateful for our escape, while our curiosity was amply satisfied. We were suffering much from thirst, when what was our surprise to come upon a pool of clear water, with reeds growing round it, though in the very neighbourhood of hot basins of sulphur, and of cones spouting forth wreaths of smoke! We expected to find the water hot, instead of which, it was deliciously cool and refreshing. On ascending the cliff, we found that it was too late to descend the mountain that night, so our guides led us to a hut built to afford accommodation for travellers. It stood overlooking the cones and the lake of fire, and never shall I forget the extraordinary appearance of that scene, as we watched it during the greater part of the night, or the magnificent spectacle which gladdened our eyes when the glorious sun rose from out of his ocean bed, and lighted up the distant snow-capped peak of the lofty Mouna Roa, which is 14,000 feet above the level of the sea.

We collected several specimens of sulphur and lava, and also a quantity of what the natives call the hair of Pele. Every bush around was covered with it. It is produced from the lava when first thrown up, and borne along by the air till it is spun into fine filaments several inches in length. It was of a dark olive colour, brittle, and semi-transparent. In our descent of the mountain we entered long galleries, the walls and roof hung with stalactites of lava of various colours, the appearance being very beautiful. They are formed by the lava hardening above, while it continues to flow away underneath—thus leaving a hollow in the centre. We might have spent many days in wandering about that strange, wild region, but we had seen enough to talk about ever afterwards. We got back safe to the station; and when there, we found that Mr Callard had resolved to remain some time on the island. He begged us, consequently, to take back the schooner to Honolulu, with directions for her to return for him in a fortnight. It seemed quite strange to us to be at sea again after the wonderful scenes we had witnessed, and Jerry declared that he was well content to find himself afloat with a whole skin on his body. The wind came round to the north-east, and we had to stretch away to the westward to lay a course for Honolulu. We were about thirty miles off the land when the wind fell light, and gradually a thick fog arose, in which we found ourselves completely shrouded. We still stood on, keeping as good a look-out as we could through the mist, lest we should run foul of any other vessel—not that such an event was likely to happen just then in the Pacific. When night, however, came on, the fog grew still thicker, and the darkness became so great that we literally could not see our hands held out at arm’s-length before us. Mr Brand had kept the middle watch, and then Jerry and I, with Ben Yool, went on deck, with some of the native crew, to take the morning watch. We glided slowly on over the dark waters, the breeze falling gradually, till it was almost a calm. Jerry and I were walking the deck together, talking of the strange sights we had lately seen, when, happening for a moment to be silent, a cry, or it might have been a shriek, struck my ears, as if wafted from a distance across the water.

“Did you hear it, Jerry?” I asked.

“Yes; did you? What can it be?” he answered. “Ah! there’s another—it cannot be fancy.”

“No; I heard it distinctly,” I remarked. “There is some mischief going forward, I fear. What is to be done?” Again that faint, wailing cry of distress reached our ears.

“You don’t believe in ghosts, do you?” said Jerry. “If there were such things, I should fancy that those cries were uttered by them, and nothing else.”

“Nonsense, Jerry,” said I, half vexed with him, for I saw that he was inclined to give way to superstition. “If those sounds are not the effect of fancy, they must proceed from some human beings in distress; but what can be the matter is more than I can say.” We found, on going forward, that Ben Yool had heard the cries, and was still listening, wondering what caused them. They had also reached the ears of the native seamen. They declared that they must be caused by the spirits of the storm roaming over the water, and that we should have a heavy gale before long. Again a shriek reached us, louder and more thrilling than before.

“Oh, this is dreadful!” I exclaimed. “There must be some foul mischief going on somewhere not far off. We must call up Mr Brand, and see what steps he will think fit to take.” I went and roused him up, and told him of the strange sounds we had heard. Both he and the doctor were soon on deck. At first he laughed at our description of the sounds we had heard; but after he had listened a little time, another long, deep-drawn wail came wafted across the ocean.

“That is the cry of some one in mortal fear or agony,” he remarked. “There is another!” It was a sharp, loud cry, or rather shriek.

“The calmness of the sea and the peculiar state of the atmosphere would enable a sound to travel from a long distance,” observed McRitchie. “It may come from a spot a mile, or even two miles off.”

“We must try and find out the direction, and go to the help of the poor people, whoever they are,” exclaimed Mr Brand.

“How is that to be done?” asked the doctor. “Our cockleshell of a boat will only hold three or four people, and the chances are that some ruffianly work is going on, and we shall only share the fate of the victims.”

“It must be done, though,” answered Cousin Silas. “I cannot stay quietly here when perhaps our appearance may prevent further mischief. I will go in the boat, and I daresay I shall have volunteers to accompany me.”

“In that case I will go with you, Brand,” said the doctor, who was as plucky as anybody. “I still say, however, that we should be wiser remaining where we are till daylight.”

“No, no, doctor,” returned Cousin Silas; “you are not a fighting-man. Your life is too valuable to be risked. You stay on board and look after the lads.”

“But we want to go with you, Mr Brand!” exclaimed Jerry and I together; “you won’t leave us behind?”

“I daresay, boys!” answered Cousin Silas. “What account should I have to give to the captain if either of you got knocked on the head and I escaped? You remain on board the schooner. It will be daylight soon; and if I do not return before then, you’ll be able to see where to pick me up.”

“If you resolves to go, why, d’ye see, sir, I goes with you,” said Ben Yool, stepping up. “One of these brown chaps says he’ll go, and that’s all you want. To my mind, if we can frighten the villains from going on with their murderous work, we may do some good; but as to forcing them to hold their hands, we couldn’t do it if we were even to lay the little Dove alongside them.”

Mr Brand thanked Ben for his promptness in offering to support him, and accepted his services; and arming themselves, they both, without further delay, accompanied by a tall, strong Sandwich islander, lowered the schooner’s dinghy into the water.

“What I’d advise, sir, is this,” said Ben: “Let us get as close up to where the cries come from as we can without being seen, and then let us hail the vessel, or raft, or whatever it may be, in gruff voices, and say that if they don’t knock off their murdering work, and let the people they are harming go free, we will blow them all up into the sky. If they don’t heed us, we’ll shriek and cry, and make all sorts of noises, as if a thousand demons were about to board them; and, as people who are about any bad work are certain to have bad consciences, they’ll fancy that the noises are ten times louder and worse than they are. If that does not succeed, we must try some other dodge; we shall hit off something or other, I daresay.”

While Ben was thus delivering himself, Mr Brand was loading his pistols. All things being ready, they stepped into the boat and shoved off. They were immediately lost to sight in the thick darkness which surrounded us. Their oars had been muffled; but we could hear the gentle lap of the oars in the water for long afterwards, showing to what a distance sound could travel, and that the scene of the outrage we had been listening to might be further off than we supposed. As Mr Brand had taken the bearings of the Dove, and proposed pulling directly to the south-west, whence the sounds came, and directly in the eye of the wind, such as there was, which had shifted to that quarter, we knew that he would have no great difficulty in getting aboard us again. Still we could not help feeling very anxious about him. The plan, however, proposed by Ben Yool struck us as likely to prove as effectual as any that could be conceived;—much more so than had the little Dove herself appeared; for, as she did not measure more than twenty tons, she was not calculated by her size to command respect, especially as she had no guns on board, and we had only our rifles. Scarcely had the boat left the side of the schooner when the shrieks were repeated. They seemed louder, or at all events more distinct. We could no longer have any doubt that they were uttered by human beings in distress. Old Surley thought so too. He kept running about the deck in a state of great agitation, and then stretched out his neck, and howled in reply to the cry which reached his ears. We kept slowly gliding on under all sail, keeping as close to the wind as we could, so as to beat up in the direction of the sound. It had been arranged that we were to go about every quarter of an hour, so that Mr Brand would know our whereabouts and on what tack he was likely to find us on his return. Our ears were kept open to catch any fresh sound, and our eyes were looking about us in all directions, in case a break in the mist should reveal any object to us; but an hour passed away, and no other cry was heard. There was a little more wind, and it had shifted a point or so to the westward, and perhaps that prevented sounds reaching us, we thought. Another hour crept by, but still Mr Brand did not return. We began to be anxious about him. We constantly went to the binnacle lamp to look at our watches. It wanted but a short time to daylight. The doctor, I saw by his manner, was seriously alarmed about the party, though he said nothing to us. We fancied that we heard a hail, and then a shout and a cry; but we could not quite agree about it. We kept pacing the deck anxiously, tacking as we had been directed by Mr Brand; and thus the night wore on, and dawn once more broke over the world of waters.

Chapter Fourteen.

Captured by pirates.

Daylight increased; and as the sun, like a vast ball of fire, rose slowly above the horizon, the mist lifted as if it had been a curtain from off the surface of the water, rolling away in huge wreaths of vapour before the breeze. The wind had once more hauled round to the southward, and then away to the westward, when, beneath an arch of clouds, we saw two vessels alongside each other. One was a schooner, a fine, rakish-looking craft; the other a large brig. The latter had her royals and top-gallant-sails flying loose, her topsails were on the caps, her courses were hauled up, her yards were braced here and there; indeed, she presented a picture of most complete confusion. Her appearance would too plainly have told us that something wrong had taken place, even had we not heard the cries in the night. In vain we looked round on every side for the dinghy; she was nowhere to be seen. We examined the vessels through a spy-glass we had with us. She was not visible alongside either of them. Again and again we swept the horizon, but not a speck could we discover that might be her. “What is to be done?” exclaimed Jerry in a tone of deep grief. I too felt very sorry for fear harm had happened to Cousin Silas; nor did I forget Ben and the Sandwich islander. “Hallo! hallo! Look there! what is happening now?” Jerry added. We looked. The schooner had parted a little distance from the brig, and the latter vessel, after rolling once or twice to starboard and port, seemed to dip her bows into the sea. We gazed earnestly with a sickening feeling. Her bowsprit did not rise again. Down, down she went, slowly and calmly, as if making a voluntary plunge to the depths of the ocean. The water closed over her decks, her lower masts disappeared, her topmasts followed, and the loose sails for a moment floated above the spot where she had been, and then sank also, drawn down by the halliards beneath the waters.

We felt almost stupified with horror. Combining the shrieks we had heard and the occurrence we had just witnessed, we could have no doubt that the schooner we saw before us was a pirate, and that her crew had, after murdering those on board the brig, sunk her, to destroy, as they might hope, all traces of their guilt. They had had in us, however, witnesses of the atrocity they had committed, when they thought no human being could be cognisant of the fact. What, however, had become of Mr Brand, and Ben, and the native? Had they been on board, we should probably have acted wisely in endeavouring to get away from the pirates, as they would undoubtedly, if they could catch us, and thought that we suspected what had occurred, treat us much in the same way that they had treated the crew of the brig. Still, how could we think for a moment of running away and deserting our friends—such a man, too, as Cousin Silas, who, we felt sure, would never have deserted us while the slightest hope remained of our being alive?

For some time after the brig had sunk, the schooner appeared to take no notice whatever of us, while we continued to draw nearer and nearer to her. We had an Englishman, Mr Stone, who acted as master of the Dove, and two other natives. Stone was a simple-minded, honest man. His principle was, if he received an order from a superior, to obey it. Therefore, as Mr Brand had directed him to continue beating up to windward till he returned on board, it never occurred to him to propose running away from our suspiciously dangerous neighbour. The natives held their tongues, but did not look happy. Mr McRitchie was the most agitated. He kept walking our little deck with hurried steps. We were drawing nearer and nearer to the big schooner. Suddenly he stopped and looked at us, the tears starting into his eyes. “My dear lads,” said he, “it is very, very sad to think of, but there can be no doubt, I greatly fear, that our friend and his followers have been murdered by yonder piratical villains. If they are still alive, (and what chance is there of it?) they will certainly not be allowed to return to us. We are, therefore, only sacrificing our own lives by allowing ourselves to fall into the power of the villains. While there is time, let us escape. Captain Stone, don’t you agree with me?”

“Well, sir, I cannot but say I do,” answered the captain. “If you order me, as I consider that the craft is under your charge, we’ll keep away at once, and make all sail to the northward. I feel that we ought to have done it as soon as we made out what that craft there was.”

The doctor hesitated still—a violent struggle was going on in his mind. He passed his hand across his brow. “Yes, it must be done. Keep her away, and make all sail,” he exclaimed.

Scarcely was the helm put up, and a large square-sail of light canvas the little schooner carried hoisted, when the stranger seemed to observe our presence. We had not run on for ten minutes when her head came slowly round towards us, her square-topsails were hoisted up, her foresail was rigged out, a square-sail was set, and after us she came like a greyhound in chase of a hare.

“What chance have we, do you think, of getting away from her, Mr Stone?” said Jerry, pointing to the big schooner, which was coming up hand over hand after us.

Stone, who was at the helm, looked over his shoulder at the stranger. “Why, none whatever, Mr Frankland,” he answered, after a minute’s deliberation.

“Then I do not see much use in running away,” observed Jerry. “If we are to be killed, let us be killed at once, and have it over.”

“No, sir; as Mr Callard says, it’s our duty to strive as long as we can. Our lives are in the hand of God. He may find means to enable us to escape, though we do not in our blindness see them. Perhaps it may fall a dead calm, and we may make use of our sweeps; or a squall may spring up and carry away the stranger’s masts; or another vessel may heave in sight, and she may think it wise to slip out of the way.”

“I see that you are right, Mr Stone,” answered Jerry. “But I wonder, if they do catch us, what they will do to us all?”

“Cut the throats of every mother’s son of us,” he answered, quite calmly. “I’ve often thought of death, and I am prepared to die, for I trust in One who is mighty to save my soul alive. Have you the same hope, young gentleman? I trust you have. It’s my duty as a fellow man to urge you to lay hold of it. There’s nothing else will save us, depend on that. From what I heard your officer, Mr Brand, say, I know on what he trusted, and I hope he has not failed to speak to you about the same matter.”

“Ay, he spoke to us in a way we ought never to have forgotten, once when we were drifting out to sea on the bottom of a boat, and we had little chance of being saved; and then he swam off, at the still greater risk of his own life, to save ours,” answered Jerry.

“I knew that he was just the man to do that sort of thing. He was a Christian man, too, I am certain of it. Well, it’s a great comfort to feel that of a man who you believe has just been taken out of the world,” observed the master. “I hope your man, Yool, was a trusting believer. I know our man was, poor fellow.”

Mr McRitchie had been listening, and seemed much affected at what had been said. The master spoke so confidently of Mr Brand’s death, and of the others, that we began ourselves to realise the melancholy fact. What, however, was likely to be our own fate? we had several times asked ourselves. What could we expect but to be instantly murdered? We anxiously scanned the horizon on every side. There was not a sign of a sail of any description. The wind remained steady. There was no prospect of a storm or a calm. The stranger was coming up after us with fearful speed. We were within range of her guns, but she did not fire—so we concluded that she had none on board. It was useless for us to attempt to do anything by fighting. Jerry and I talked about it, but we gave it up as a hopeless case. The stranger could quickly have settled the matter by running us down.

Mr Stone showed us that he did not boast in vain. He was calm and unmoved in spite of the dreadful danger which threatened us. Still holding the tiller in his hand, and keeping his eye on the sails, he knelt down and offered up an earnest prayer for our safety. We followed his example, as did the natives; and when we arose from our knees, I, for my part, felt that I was much better prepared than before to meet with resignation whatever might befall us; so, I have no doubt, did my companions.

The stranger had now got within musket-range, but still she did not fire. Those on board, of course, expected that in a few minutes more they would be up with us, and perhaps did not think us worth their powder.

“What chance have we now, Mr Stone?” asked the doctor, eyeing our big pursuer with a look of horror.

“None, sir, that I see,” was the answer; “but then, as I said, there may be means prepared which I don’t see, so we’ll hold on, if you please.”

After a minute or two the patience of the pirates appeared to have been exhausted. There was a report, and a musket-ball came whistling through our sails. Jerry and I bobbed our heads, for it felt so terribly near our ears. Jerry looked up indignantly. “I have a great mind to have a crack at them in return,” he exclaimed; and before any one saw what he was about, he had seized his rifle from the cabin, and sent a shot back at them in return.

“Oh, sir, there was no use doing that; you will only the more anger those wicked men,” said Captain Stone, quite calmly.

“No, no; let’s die game,” answered Jerry. “We may kill some of our enemies before they kill us.”

“We may kill some of our friends as likely,” replied the captain. “If we could prevent them injuring us, we might kill them; but as we cannot, we must patiently wait the result.”

The doctor seemed to agree with the captain, so Jerry refrained from again loading his rifle. The effect, however, of his single shot was most disastrous, for the pirates, supposing that we were about to show fight, brought several muskets forward, and opened a hot fire on us. As the bullets came rattling about our ears, I thought not one of us would escape. The two poor Sandwich islanders were brought to the deck, one directly after the other, desperately wounded. The matter was becoming very serious. I thought that we ought to lower our sails; so did the doctor, but Captain Stone begged us to keep all standing. “We can’t tell still, sir, but what we may escape. Hold on, hold on,” he cried out. “There is One who watches over us. If it is his will that we are to be destroyed, his will be done.” Scarcely had he uttered these words of true piety than he suddenly lifted up his arm, letting go the tiller, and fell to the deck. Jerry ran to the helm. I tried to lift him up, while the doctor knelt down by his side. “Hold on, hold on, I counsel you,” he whispered, raising his head. “They have done for me. Doctor, you cannot help me, I feel. It’s all right; we were doing our duty. We know in whom we trust. He is mighty to save our souls alive.” With these words he fell back, giving one look at our pursuer, and urging us by a sign to hold on our course. The doctor took his hand. After holding it for a minute, he shook his head. “He’s gone,” he remarked; “as brave a man as I ever met, and as true a Christian.”

Jerry meantime stood undauntedly at the helm. No sooner, however, had the captain fallen than the pirates, seeing what had occurred, ceased firing. They had now got so near, that, had they chosen, they might have picked every one of us off without difficulty. At last they came up almost abreast of us.

“Heave to, you young jackanapes, or we will sink you,” sung out a man from forward. The doctor was attending to one of the wounded natives, so they did not observe him, perhaps. Although the command was issued in a very uncomplimentary style, Jerry and I agreed that it would be useless to disobey it; so going about, while he stood at the helm, I ran forward and let fly the jib-sheet, while the foresail remained to windward.

“Send your boat aboard us,” shouted the same voice.

“We haven’t got one,” answered Jerry. “You know that well enough, I should think,” he added in a lower voice.

“Oh, we’ll send one, then,” replied the speaker.

During this time the big schooner was hove-to quite close to us. Presently some of the crew went aft, and a long gig was lowered from the schooner’s quarter, and a set of as ugly-looking ruffians as I ever cast eyes on got into her, and pulled towards us. From the specimen we had witnessed of their conduct, we could only expect to be cut down and thrown overboard as soon as they stepped on deck. The least unattractive was a man, apparently an officer, who sat in the stern-sheets. As he got near I could not help examining his countenance. He was a mulatto, with handsome, regular features. I felt certain that I had seen him before, and not long ago. He had on his head a large broad-brimmed straw hat, a gaily-coloured handkerchief, and a waistcoat of red silk, while his jacket was of the finest material. He wore a sash round his waist, and a dagger and a brace of silver-mounted pistols stuck into it. When he came alongside, he sprang lightly on to the deck of the schooner, and looked about him.

“Now, my lads, be prepared; show no fear,” said the doctor. “Remember that the worst they can do is to kill us, and they’ll gain nothing by that; so perhaps they will let us live.”

As we made not the slightest attempt at resistance, which would have been madness, even the pirates had no excuse for injuring us. All we did was to stand quietly at the after-part of the deck waiting what was next going to happen.

One of the other pirates soon proceeded without ceremony into the cabin, and the rest went forward down the fore-hatch.

The officer looked at me, and I looked at him. Old Surley, who at first had been very much inclined to fly at the strangers, growling fiercely, went up to him and quietly licked his hand. In spite of his clean-shaven face, his gay clothes, and well filled-out cheeks, I immediately recognised him as Manuel Silva, as he called himself—the man whom we had with so much risk saved from the wreck of the Spanish brig. “Yes, I remember you,” he whispered in his broken English; “but don’t let others know that. I’m not a man to forget kindness, that’s all.”

“Do you know anything of Mr Brand and the other men?” I asked eagerly. He made no reply; and immediately afterwards, assuming an air of authority, he ordered the doctor, Jerry, and me, to get into the boat.

The doctor entreated that he might be left to attend the two wounded Sandwich islanders. The men, when they came on deck, laughed at his request. “We have got wounded too, and shall want you to attend on them,” they answered; “if you are a doctor, you are welcome.” Still the doctor pleaded so hard for the poor men that at last they consented to take one of them; the other, indeed, was already beyond all hopes of recovery. We turned a last look at the body of poor Captain Stone.

“What is to be done with him?” asked Jerry.

“Never mind him, youngster,” answered one of the men; “we’ll soon dispose of him.”

Silva, leaving three men on board, ordered us to get into his boat to return with him to the big schooner. As we were shoving off, old Surley, who had been smelling about after the other men, gave a loud bark, as much as to say, “Don’t leave me behind,” and leaped in after us. Truly glad were we to have him, poor fellow. He might prove to us a friend in need.

We stepped on deck; the crew, we thought, eyed us with very sinister looks, but no one spoke to us till a man we took to be the captain stepped up to the gangway. “Who are you, and where do you come from, who go about prying into other people’s affairs?” he exclaimed in a gruff voice. He stamped with his feet as lift spoke, as if lashing himself up into a rage. He was a pale, long-faced man, with a large beard, and a very evil expression in his eye.

“We have no wish to pry into anybody’s affairs,” answered the doctor quietly. “We missed a boat with some of the people belonging to this schooner, and we thought they might be aboard your vessel.”

“I know nothing of the people you talk of; but as you have seen more than you ought, I suspect you’ll remain with us. We happen to want just such a schooner as yours, so say no more about it. You may think yourselves fortunate in not losing your lives. There’s no disguise about us, you see.”

Had we before felt any doubts on the subject, these remarks would have revealed to us too clearly the character of the people among whom we had fallen. I was thankful, indeed, that we were not immediately murdered. Why the desperadoes allowed us to live was a mystery. The doctor, they thought, would be useful to them; and perhaps, as Jerry remarked, they did not think us worth killing. The doctor, he, and I, stood together near the gangway, with Surley at our feet, waiting what was next to happen. Meantime the poor wounded Sandwich islander had been handed up, and placed on the deck forward.

The vessel on board which we found ourselves was a large, handsome craft, of fully a hundred and eighty tons; and, from her great beam, her taunt, raking masts, the broad white ribbon outside, and the peculiar paint and fittings on her deck, she was evidently American. There were a good many white men among her crew; but there were also many blacks and mulattoes, of every shade of brown and hue of olive or copper. Never had I seen people of so many nations and tribes brought together, while every one of them to my eyes appeared most villainous cut-throats.

We saw the boat go back to the Dove and deposit a couple of more hands aboard her, and then both vessels hauled their wind and stood away to the south-west. Just then some of the crew hailed the doctor:—“Here; your patient seems to be about to slip his cable. You’d better come and see what’s the matter.” We accompanied the doctor, and knelt down by the side of the wounded man, who was evidently dying. He took the doctor’s hand. “You kind to us, but you no help me now,” he whispered, with his failing breath. “If you once more see Mr Callard—my love to him—I die happy. I trust in Him he taught me to cling to. Once I was poor savage. He made me rich.” These were the poor Kanaka’s last words. A few years ago, and how differently would one of his countrymen have died! The doctor closed the eyes and arranged the limbs of the dead man, and threw a handkerchief which he took from his neck over his face. “There,” he said, “he’ll not give you any more trouble.” The men said not a word, but walked about as composedly as if nothing had happened, while we went back to our place near the gangway. Shortly afterwards, a man, who seemed to be an officer, went forward. “Heave that corpse overboard,” he exclaimed; “why do you let it remain there cumbering the deck?” The men looked at each other, and then, lifting up the body of the poor Kanaka, threw it, without form or ceremony, into the water. We looked astern. There it floated, with the arms spread out, and the face turned towards us, for the handkerchief had fallen off the head. Its lips seemed to move. I thought it was uttering a well-merited curse on the hateful craft we were on board. It seemed to be about to spring out of the water. I could not help crying out. I shrieked, I believe. Many of the pirates looked with horror. “Is he following us?” I cried. No. Down sunk the body from sight, as if dragged by some force from below. “Ah, a shark has got him!” said Silva, who had been looking on with the rest. Many of the ruffians shuddered, for they knew full well that such might any day be their own fate.

While this scene was enacting, a similar one was taking place on board the Dove. Her captors, having time to look about them, had taken up the bodies of poor Captain Stone and the other Kanaka, and, without shroud or a shot to their feet, had hove them overboard. They also were immediately attacked by the sharks. Jerry and I shuddered, as well we might. The doctor looked on with more composure. “It matters little whether sharks or animalculae first devour a body,” he observed. “One or other will inevitably swallow it before long, only the sharks make greater speed with the process. Happily there is an essence which neither one nor the other can destroy, which survives triumphant over death; so, lads, when you mourn the loss of a friend, think of him as living in that essence, not in the mortal frame you see torn to pieces or mouldering in decay.” A new light seemed to burst on me as the doctor said this. The idea aided me to get over the horror I had felt at seeing the fate of the missionary captain, and enabled me better to bear the first remark which the pirate leader deigned to make us: “Well, youngsters, if you don’t behave yourselves, you’ll come to that very quickly, let me tell you.”

“We have no wish to do otherwise than behave ourselves, sir,” answered Jerry in his politest way. “Perhaps you will tell us what you wish to have done?”

“To hold your tongue and be hanged,” answered the ruffian, turning aside; for Jerry’s coolness puzzled and enraged him.

The doctor was now summoned down below to look after some sick men, the mate, who called him, said; but, as Jerry whispered, he suspected they were sick from having swallowed more bullets than they liked. We two, in the meantime, sat ourselves down on a gun, with Surley at our feet. He put his nose between us, and looked anxiously up into our faces, as if to learn what it all meant. We were there allowed to remain unmolested, while the pirates went past us attending to the duty of the ship. On seeing the guns, we wondered that the schooner had not fired at us; but we concluded that they had coveted the Dove for their own objects, and had not wished to injure her. It was evidently from no compassion to us that they had not knocked her to pieces. No one interrupting us, Jerry and I began quietly to talk to each other.

“What can have become of Mr Brand, and Ben Yool, and the Kanaka?” said I. “Is it possible that they are aboard here all this time, do you think?”

“I am afraid not,” answered Jerry, shaking his head sorrowfully. “I think it’s much more likely that a shot was hove into the dinghy if they went alongside, and that they were sent to the bottom. My only hope is, that they missed their way and never came near this craft. If so, they may have been picked up by some vessel, or may find their way back to Owhyhee.”

“That last idea never occurred to me before. Oh, I hope it may be so! I wonder what the doctor thinks?” said I.

The doctor was absent for a long time. When he came back to us, he said that he could not give an opinion on the subject. He was very silent, and we thought that he looked more sad and thoughtful even than at first.

The day wore on. A black cook brought us some soup and a bowl of farinha, which, as we were very hungry, we were glad enough to eat; and at night, Silva told us that we three might occupy the small deck cabin which was vacant. We were glad enough to creep in there, and to forget our sorrows in sleep. For some time we slept as soundly as people who have undergone a great deal of mental excitement generally sleep, though the realities of the past mixed strangely with the visions of the night. The most prominent was the picture of the sinking ship which we had seen go down; but in addition I beheld the agonised countenances of the murdered crew—some imploring mercy, others battling for life, and others yielding hopelessly to their fate. Among them, to my greater horror, I thought I saw Mr Brand and Ben Yool. They were bravely struggling in the hands of the ruffians, as I am sure they would have done. Now one was up, now the other. The pirates tried to force them overboard, but they always again clambered up the side of the vessel. Their boat was sunk beneath them; still they fought on, clutching hold of ropes and the chain-plates—never for a moment losing heart. “That is the way to fight the battle of life against all enemies, spiritual and carnal,” said a voice. It was Cousin Silas who spoke. Then the pirates made another desperate attack on him and Ben, and they were forced back into the deep ocean.

I awoke with a loud cry. “What’s the matter? where are we?” asked Jerry, stretching out his arms. “O Harry, what dreadful dreams I have had! What is going to happen? Now I know. Oh dear! Oh dear! My poor father, how miserable he will be when he fancies I am lost!” When we told each other our dreams, we found that they had been very much of the same nature.

Our talking awoke the doctor. He was, I daresay, not less unhappy than we were, but he told us not to give way to unmanly fears, and scolded us for talking about our dreams. “It is a foolish and bad practice silly people are apt to indulge in. It makes them nervous, promotes superstition, and, worse than all, frequently causes them to doubt God’s superintending care and watchfulness. Your dreams have just been made up of what has occurred, and of what your imagination has conjured up. Just set to work and think and talk of how we may escape from our present position, and perhaps you may think and talk to good effect.” As soon as we got up, we took our place as we had done the previous day, as much out of the way of the rest of the people as possible.

We took the doctor’s advice, and did little else for some time than talk of how we might escape. The most feasible plan which occurred to us was to watch for an opportunity of deserting the ship whenever she might touch at any place for water. We agreed that it would be well to try and lull the suspicions of our captors, by pretending to be perfectly contented with our lot, and by making ourselves as much at home as possible.

“We’ll not seem to care about going on shore ourselves,” observed Jerry; “but after a time we’ll talk about old Surley not being accustomed to remain on board so long, and we’ll ask leave to take him a run on the beach; then he’ll run on, and we will run after him, till we get out of sight of the vessel, and then won’t we put our best legs foremost—that’s all. Surley will like the fun, and we will whistle him on; and if any of the pirates meet us, we can say we are running after him; and so we shall be, you know. We can hide away in some tree, or in a cavern, or somewhere or other till the ship sails, and then we must trust to what may turn up to get away from the place, wherever it may be.”

“The chances are that it may be a desert island, and one rarely or never visited by ships. If so, perhaps we may have to live on it for years without being able to escape from it,” I observed.

“Well, no matter if that is the case,” he answered; “anything is better than living among these cut-throats.”

“I agree with you,” said I; “but what is to become of the doctor? We must not leave him behind.”

“Certainly not,” said Jerry; “we will tell him what we propose, and I daresay he will find means to follow us. If he cannot, perhaps he will propose some plan which will be better than ours.”

We talked till we talked ourselves very hungry, and were not sorry when the black cook brought us a bowl of farinha for our breakfast. We should not have objected to a slice of cold beef or a piece of fish, but we agreed that it would be wiser to take what was offered to us, and appear thankful. The doctor was asked in to breakfast with the captain. He certainly would rather not have gone, but as nothing could be gained by refusing, and something might by accepting the invitation, he went. Tom Congo, the cook, did not forget old Surley, but, when the officers were below at breakfast, brought him a mess, which he gobbled up with no little satisfaction.

Silva appeared to take no notice of us; yet we could not but believe that it was owing to his intercession our lives had been spared, and that we were not ill-treated. It will be remembered that, after the story we heard of the escape of the convicts from Juan Fernandez, serious suspicions had been entertained of his character. We had now, from finding him associated with pirates, every reason to believe that our suspicions were correct. Still, pirate as he was, all the right feelings of our nature had not been blunted in him. While on board the Triton he had always behaved well, and he now showed us that he was grateful for the kindness he had received. Such was the opinion Jerry and I formed of him.

For three or four days things went on much in the same way as at first. We had our food brought us regularly by our friend the black cook, and were allowed to walk the deck as long as we liked, and to creep into our cabin at night. Nobody interfered with us. The people who acted as officers passed us by without notice, and the seamen did not take the trouble to exchange a word with us. At last Jerry and I agreed that it was time to try and make ourselves more at home, or we should not be able to carry into execution the plan we had proposed. Surley, too, seemed to think it very dull work sitting all day long with his nose resting on our knees. How to set about ingratiating ourselves with the fellows, was the difficulty. We generally talked over our plans when the doctor was away, as he was for a considerable time every day attending to the sick. We determined first to try and win over old Tom Congo, the black cook, as he seemed disposed to be friendly with us.

“I say, cook,” exclaimed Jerry, “you give us very good food to eat, but couldn’t you add a bit of meat now and then? Surley gets some, and we, who have been accustomed all our lives to it, would like to have it now.”

“Oh, oh, you hab some of Surley’s den,” answered Tom Congo, with a grin.

“You are too kind to wish to make us eat scraps and bits,” said Jerry; “we should just like a piece of beef or pork.”

Congo looked pleased; and though he would not promise to bring us any meat, we saw that he would. Now, we did not care so much about the meat, but we thought that, by asking him a favour which he could easily grant, we might gain his interest. It was a compliment to him, and made him feel as if he were our superior, for the time being at all events. The next day, at dinner time, he brought us a very nice piece of boiled beef and some potatoes. We consulted what we could give him in return. Our knives were too valuable to part with, but Jerry had a silver pencil-case, which he offered to him. Old Tom asked what it was for, and when told to write with, he grinned from ear to ear, observing that, as he could not write even his own name, it would be of no manner of use to him; but that he thanked us all the same.

The feeling that there were two people on board who were disposed to be friendly with us raised our spirits. We got up and began to chase Surley about the deck, making him run after a ball of spun-yarn till we got tired of the game. Then we walked up and down the deck till we got right aft, where we could catch a glance at the compass. We were steering about south-west and by south.

“Where are we going to, my friend?” said Jerry, addressing the man at the helm.

“Ask the captain; he’s likely to tell you, youngster.”

“Oh, no matter,” answered Jerry, carelessly, “I only asked for curiosity. If it’s to China, or round Cape Horn, or to California, it’s all the same to me.”

“You’re an independent little chap, at all events,” answered the man; “if you were one of us, you’d do well, I doubt not.”

“Oh, I’ve no objection to do well,” said Jerry; “just show me the way, and I’m your man.”

“I like your spirit, and I’ll say a word in your favour with the crew. I daresay you know something about navigation, which is more than most of the officers do; so, if you join us, it won’t be long before you are made an officer.”

“Thank you for your good opinion of me,” said Jerry; “but I’m not ambitious. I just want to do what I like, and if nobody interferes with me, I’m content.”

“You’re a merry little chap, at all events,” observed the pirate. “I like to see a fellow with some spirit in him, and I’ll keep you out of harm if I can.”

“Thank you,” said Jerry, making a dash after Surley’s tail; “I thought you looked as if you were a kind chap, and that made me speak to you.”

Thus by degrees we made ourselves at home among the crew. Before the evening we were chasing each other about the rigging. The men forward had a monkey, and we got hold of him, and made him ride upon Surley’s back. Neither animal liked it at first, but by coaxing them we managed to reconcile them to each other. Jacko would every now and then take it into his head to give old Surley a sly pinch on the ear or tail, and then the dog would turn round and endeavour to bite the monkey’s leg; but the latter was always too quick for him, and would either jump off, or leap up on his back as if he were going to dance there, or would catch hold of a rope overhead and swing himself up out of his way. It really was great fun, and often we almost forgot where we were and our sad fate. It made the pirates also think us light-hearted, merry fellows, and they gave themselves no further concern about watching us. Now, of course, it sounds very romantic and interesting to be on board a pirate vessel, among desperate cut-throats, to be going one does not know where; but the reality is very painful and trying, and, in spite of all we did in the day to keep up our spirits, Jerry and I often lay awake half the night, almost crying, and wondering what would become of us. It was not till we remembered what we had heard at home, and what Captain Frankland and Mr Brand had told us often—that in all difficulties and troubles we should put our trust in God—that we found any comfort. How much we now wished for a Bible, that we might read it to each other! We now saw more clearly than we had ever before done its inestimable value. There were several on board the Dove, but we were not likely to be able to get them.

The poor doctor was more to be pitied than we were. He grew thinner and thinner every day. Evidently he felt his captivity very much. His prospect of escaping was much smaller than ours, because he was of far greater use to the pirates than we were. We might have been of some service to them as navigators, but without our books and instruments we could do very little for them even in that respect.

Several more days went by in this way. The pirates now began to grow fidgety, and they were constantly going to the mast-head, and spent the day in looking out on every side round the horizon, in search of land or a vessel, we could not tell which. At last, one forenoon, one of the look-outs shouted from aloft, “A sail! a sail!”

“Where away?” asked the captain, who till that moment seemed to have been half asleep on deck. He sprang to his feet, and he, with every one on board, in an instant was full of life and animation.

“On the lee bow,” answered the man. “She is a large ship, standing to the southward.” The wind was from the westward.

Several of the officers and men hurried aloft to have a look at the stranger. When they came down they seemed highly satisfied.

“She’s a merchantman from California,” observed one. “She’ll have plenty of gold dust on board.”

“She’s the craft to suit us, then,” observed a second.

“She’s a heavy vessel, and the fellows aboard will fight for their gold,” remarked a third.

“Who cares? a little fighting will make the prize of more value,” cried another. “We’ll show them what they’ll get by resistance.”

The word was now passed along to clear the decks for action, and, with the men at their guns, we bore down on the stranger.

Chapter Fifteen.

Voyage in the pirate vessel.

The stranger saw our approach, and from the eager way in which we carried on sail, those on board must have had some suspicion of the character of the schooner. She was a fine large ship, and was evidently a fast craft, but still the schooner managed to overhaul her. As we had hitherto stood on under easy sail, the Dove was able to keep up with us, but now we left her far astern. Before we parted company, however, the captain signalised her where to meet him. I forgot to say that for some time we did not know the name of the pirate chief, but at last we heard him called Captain Bruno. Though this name had a foreign sound, he was, as I have before said, either an Englishman or an American. The schooner was called the Hawk, and she was not ill named.

As we drew near the ship we ran up English colours, while in return, up went at her peak the stars and stripes of the United States. On we stood. The ship, so Jerry and I concluded, did not suspect the character of the schooner, for she made no attempt to escape us, but appeared as if those on board expected a friendly greeting. I observed Captain Bruno very frequently turn his telescope towards the stranger, and examine her narrowly. The officers, too, began to talk to each other, and look suspiciously at her. I asked Mr McRitchie, who was near us, whether he thought the pirates would attack the ship and murder the crew, as we believed they had done that of the brig.

“I dread something terrible, but I have very little apprehension for the fate of the people on board the ship,” he answered, in a low tone. “In my opinion, the pirates will find that they have caught a tartar. Mark me—yonder craft is no merchantman, but a ship of war, either American or English, or perhaps Chilian. I should not be surprised to find that she is on the watch for our friends here. Scarcely do I know what to wish. If they fight at all, they will fight desperately, and we shall run as great a chance of being killed as they will—though, if they are captured, we may regain our liberty. If, on the other hand, they escape, our captivity will be prolonged.”

“But if yonder ship prove to be what you suppose, and the schooner is captured, perhaps we may be hung as pirates,” said Jerry. “How can we prove that we are honest people?”

“There will be but little difficulty about that,” answered Mr McRitchie. “The pirates themselves will acknowledge that we have been brought on board against our will, and the account we can give of ourselves is too circumstantial not to gain credit. At all events, we must hope for the best. But see, Captain Bruno at last suspects that something is wrong.”

We had by this time got almost within the ordinary range of a ship’s guns. Suddenly the captain sprang to the helm. “Haul aft the main and foresheets!” he sung out in a voice of thunder. “Brace up the yards! Down with the helm! Keep her as close as she’ll go!” The crew flew to obey these orders. They knew full well that their lives depended on their promptness. Already the schooner had approached too near the stranger. That she was a man-of-war, she no longer left us in doubt. Before the orders issued by Captain Bruno were executed, a line of ports were thrown open, and eight long guns were run out, threatening to send us to the bottom if we showed a disposition to quarrel, and aft at her peak flew the stars and stripes of the United States.

The pirates saw that they were caught through their own folly and greediness, but the captain showed himself to be a man of undaunted courage, and full of resources. “Hold on!” he sung out, before a sheet was hauled in. “We may lose our sticks if we attempt to run. I’ll try if I cannot deceive these clever fellows, and put them on a wrong scent.” The pirates seemed mightily pleased at the thought of playing their enemy a trick, and highly applauded the proposal of their captain. The schooner, therefore, stood steadily on, till she ran close down to the corvette. Then she hove-to, well to windward of the ship, however. A boat was lowered, and Captain Bruno, with four of the most quiet-looking of the crew, got into her, and pulled away for the ship. When we hove-to, the corvette did the same, an eighth of a mile to leeward of us. We watched the proceedings of the pirate with no little anxiety.

“If that fellow succeed in deceiving the captain of that ship, I shall acknowledge that impudence will sometimes carry the day,” observed Mr McRitchie.

“Couldn’t we contrive to make a signal to let the people of the man-of-war know that we are kept here in durance vile?” observed Jerry.

While he was speaking, I looked round, and saw two of the most ruffianly of the crew standing close to us, with pistols cocked in their hands, held quietly down by their sides. I hoped that our captors had not overheard what Jerry had said. I touched him as if by chance on the shoulder, and after his eye had glanced at the pistols he said nothing more about making signals to the corvette. Our position was every instant growing more and more critical. If the pirate captain was seized on board the man-of-war, it was impossible to say how his followers might wreak their vengeance on our heads. We watched him with no little interest, till he ascended with perfect coolness the side of the ship. Our anxiety still further increased, after he reached the deck and disappeared below. Minute after minute slowly passed by, still he did not return. The pirates with their pistols got up closer to us, and one, a most hideous black fellow, kept looking at us and then at his weapon, and grinning from ear to ear, as if he was mightily eager to put it to our heads and pull the trigger. We tried to look as unconcerned as possible, but I must own that I could not help every now and then turning round, to ascertain in what direction the muzzle of the pistol was pointed. The black and his companion looked so malicious, that I feared, whatever occurred, we should be the sufferers. If Captain Bruno escaped, we should still remain in captivity; or should he be suspected and detained, probably the pirates would revenge themselves on us. I was afraid of speaking, and almost of moving, lest, even should I lift an arm, it might be construed into the act of making a signal, and I might get a bullet sent through my head. The American corvette, with her spread of white canvas, looked very elegant and graceful as she lay hove-to, a short distance from us. I wished very much that I was out of the pirate, and safe on board her, even though the former might get free away without the punishment she deserved. But all such hopes, it appeared, were likely to prove vain. After the lapse of another ten minutes Captain Bruno himself appeared on deck. As he stood at the gangway, he shook hands cordially with some of the officers. He seemed to be exchanging some good joke with them, for he and they laughed heartily when he went down the side, and stepped into the boat. As he pulled back to the schooner, he waved his hand, and took off his hat with the most becoming courtesy. “Well,” thought I to myself, “certainly impudence will sometimes carry the day.”

He was soon again on board. “Make sail,” he said with a calm smile; “the corvette and we are going in search of a rascally pirate, which has committed all sorts of atrocities. I wonder whether we shall find her.” The joke seemed to tickle the fancies of all on deck, for a quiet chuckle was heard on every side. “Keep the rest of the people below,” he said to Silva; “it might surprise the crew of the man-of-war to see so many ugly fellows on board a quiet trader.” The order was strictly obeyed. A few only of the crew appeared on deck, and they were soon seen employed in the usual occupations of a merchantman. The wind was light, so the schooner began leisurely to set sail after sail, till every stitch of canvas she could carry was spread. The corvette did the same, and both vessels were soon going along under a cloud of canvas. The schooner, we saw, had the advantage. Gradually we were increasing our distance from the man-of-war. Captain Bruno chuckled audibly. Still, at times, he cast an anxious look astern.

Jerry and I were allowed to walk about the deck, and to observe what was going on. We remarked the captain watching the corvette. “Depend on it,” said Jerry, “he has been leaving some forged paper with the Americans, or playing them some trick which he is afraid will be found out.” I thought at first this must be Jerry’s fancy. We had no opportunity of asking Mr McRitchie’s opinion without being overheard. Away we glided over the smooth ocean. More and more we increased our distance from the corvette. The further ahead we got, the more Captain Bruno seemed pleased; and as I watched his countenance, I became convinced that Jerry’s surmises were correct. As we walked the deck and watched the captain, we agreed that if he dared he would like to wet the sails to make them hold more wind. An hour or so passed away, when suddenly the corvette yawed a little, a puff of white smoke appeared, with a sharp report, and a shot came flying over the water close to us. “Ah! have you found me out, my friends?” exclaimed Captain Bruno, leaping down from the taffrail. “All hands on deck! Swing up the long guns! We must try to wing this fellow before he contrives to clip our feathers.” In an instant everybody was alert: tackles were rove, and, in a short time, two long and very heavy guns, with their carriages, were hoisted up from the hold. The guns were quickly mounted and run out, and a brisk fire kept up at the corvette. She also continued to fire, but as to do so with effect she had to yaw each time, the schooner, which could fire her stern guns as fast as she could load them, had a considerable advantage. It was a game at long bowls, for the two vessels were already so far apart that it required very good gunnery to send a shot with anything like a correct aim. Silva seemed to be one of the best marksmen on board. Several times, when he fired, the shot went through the sails of the ship of war. The great object of the pirates was to cripple her, as was that of the Americans to bring down some of the schooner’s spars. Had the latter found out the trick sooner which had been played them by the pirate, the probabilities are that some of our rigging would have been cut through, and we should have been overtaken; now there appeared every chance that we should effect our escape. Still, several of the shot which came from the corvette struck us, or went through our sails; but the damage was instantly repaired. The crew had got up from below a store of spare ropes, and sails, and spars, so that even should we receive any severe injury, it could, we saw, be speedily put to rights. As I before said, our prospects of getting our throats cut, or our brains blown or knocked out, were pretty well balanced against those of our being made free, should the corvette come up with us; so we scarcely knew what to wish for. Every time a shot came near the vessel, the pirates cast such angry glances at us, as if we had had something to do with the matter, that we half expected some of them would let fly their pistols and put an end to our lives.

Hour after hour thus passed away. A stern chase is a long chase, as everybody knows, and so the Americans must have thought it. The wind continued much as at first for some time. This was all in favour of the schooner, which sailed in a light wind proportionably better than the corvette. Towards evening, however, clouds began to gather in the eastern horizon. The bank rose higher and higher in the sky. Now one mass darted forward—now another—and light bodies flew rapidly across the blue expanse overhead. First the surface of the ocean was crisped over with a sparkling ripple, and then wavelets appeared, and soon they increased to waves with frothy crests; and the schooner sprung forward, the canvas swelling, the braces tautening, and the masts and spars cracking with the additional strain put on them. For some time, though she still continued to fire, scarcely a shot from the man-of-war had come up to us, as we had still further increased our distance from her. She, however, now felt the advantage of the stronger breeze, and our pace became more equal. Still the breeze increased. The captain stood aft, his eye apparently watching earnestly every spar and rope aloft, to see how they stood the increasing strain. Away we now flew, the water hissing under our bows, and the spray leaping up on either side, and streaming over us in thick showers. The white canvas bulged, and tugged, and tugged, till I thought it would carry the masts away, and fly out of the bolt-ropes. Captain Bruno, however, gave no orders to take it in. He looked astern; the corvette was going along as fast as we were—perhaps faster. This was not an occasion for shortening sail. The crew seemed to have the same opinion. They were fighting with halters round their necks, every one full well knew; and though this consciousness may make men desperate when brought to bay, it will assuredly make them run away like arrant cowards if they have a possibility of escape.

The sea by this time had got up considerably, and the schooner began to pitch into it as she ran before the wind. The corvette at first came on rather more steadily, but she likewise soon began to feel the effects of the troubled water; and away we both went, plunging our bows into the sea as we dashed rapidly onward. I could not help feeling that the movements of both vessels showed that serious work was going on. The corvette, with her wide fields of canvas spread aloft, every sail bulging out to its utmost extent, looked as if intent on the pursuit; while the eager, hurried way in which the schooner struggled on amid the foaming waves, made it appear as if she were indued with consciousness, and was aware that her existence depended on her escaping her pursuer.

It was now blowing a perfect gale. Every instant, as I kept looking aloft, I expected to hear some dreadful crash, and to see the topmasts come tumbling down over our heads; but though the top-gallant-masts bent and writhed like fishing-rods with a heavy fish at the end of the line, they were too well set up by the rigging to yield, even with the enormous pressure put on them.

Captain Bruno called Silva to him again. They held a consultation for some minutes. They looked at the corvette, and then at their own sails. The result was, that some of the people were summoned aft, and once more the long guns were run out, and, watching their opportunity, as the stern of the vessel lifted, they opened fire on their pursuer. “If we could but knock away their fore-topmast with all that spread of canvas on it, we should very soon run her out of sight,” observed Silva, stooping down to take aim. He fired. The canvas stood as before; but, as far as we could judge, the shot had reached the man-of-war, and hands were seen going aloft to repair some damage which it had caused.

The pirates cheered when they saw that the shot had taken effect, “Hurrah! hurrah! Fire away again, Silva; fire away!” they shouted. Thus encouraged, he continued firing as fast as the guns could be loaded. Shot after shot was discharged. Still the pursuer came on as proudly and gallantly as before. Now and then a shot was fired from her bow chasers; but the difficulty of taking anything like an aim in such a sea was very great, and they generally flew excessively wide of their mark. Silva, indeed, after the first shot, had but little to boast of as a marksman. His anger seemed to rise. He looked with a fierce glance at our pursuer. Both the guns were loaded. He stooped down to one and fired; then, scarcely looking up to watch the result, he went to the other. The schooner was sinking into a sea; as she rose to the summit of the next, a shot left the muzzle of the gun. Away it winged its flight above the foaming ocean. Now the pirates cheered more lustily than ever. Good cause had they. As if by magic, the wide cloud of canvas which had lately towered above the deck of the corvette seemed dissolved in air. The race is not always to the swift, nor does Fortune always favour the best cause. The pirate’s shot had cut the corvette’s fore-topmast completely in two, and we could see it with its tangled mass of spars, and sails, and rigging hanging over the bows, and still further stopping the ship’s way.

“Now we may shorten sail,” sang out Captain Bruno. “Aloft, my lads; quick about it.” The men needed not to be told of the importance of haste. They flew aloft, and soon handed the top-gallant-sails, and took two reefs in the topsails. Relieved of the vast weight which had been pressing on her, and almost driving her over, the schooner now flew much more easily over the seas, and with scarcely diminished speed.

We kept watching the corvette. She, of course, could carry sail on her main-mast, but it took some time to clear away the wreck of the fore-topmast, and to set up the fore-stay, which had been carried away. This it was necessary to do before sail could be set on the main-topmast. All this work occupied some time, and enabled the schooner to get far ahead. Night, too, was coming on. The weather promised to be very thick. The pirate’s chance of escape was very considerable. Our hearts sank within us as we saw the prospect of our prolonged captivity. Proportionably the pirates were elated as they felt sure of escaping. On we flew; the sails of the corvette grew darker and darker, till a thin small pyramid alone was seen rising against the sky in the far horizon. Mr McRitchie, who had joined us on deck, heaved a deep sigh. To him captivity was even more galling than to us. Darkness came on, and the corvette was lost to sight.

It was a terrific night. The wind increased, and the sea got up more than ever—the thunder roared, and the lightning flashed; and as the schooner went plunging away through the foaming ocean, often I thought that she was about to sink down and never to rise again. The dark, stern features of the pirates were lighted up now and again, as they stood at their posts, by the lightning as it played around us; but, strange to say, they appear to have far more dreaded the anger of their fellow-men than they did the fury of the elements. Now and then, perhaps, conscience whispered in the ears of some one not totally deaf to its influence, that his last hour was approaching and that he must soon stand in the presence of an offended God, whose laws he had long systematically outraged; but, generally speaking, the consciences of that reckless crew had long since been put to sleep, never to awake till summoned, when hope should have fled, at the sound of the last trump. On every side those countenances—bold, fierce, God-defying—broke forth on me out of the darkness as the bright lightning gleamed across them. Each individual face of the dreadful picture is indelibly impressed on my memory. At length the doctor went to his berth, and Jerry and I followed him to the cabin and crept into ours—wet, hungry, and sorrowful. We slept—we had been so excited all day that we could not help that from very weariness; but my dreams, I know, were strangely troubled.

At last I awoke, and found that it was daylight. I sprang up, calling Jerry, and we went on deck to learn what had become of the corvette. She was nowhere to be seen. The wind had gone down very much, but it was still blowing fresh, and a heavy sea was running. The sky, however, was blue and clear, and the waters sparkled brightly as the beams of the rising sun glanced over them. The schooner had escaped all damage in the gale. Our spirits rose somewhat with the pure fresh air of morning, and very well pleased were we to devour a good breakfast, when our friend the black cook placed it before us on deck, in a couple of large basins, with heavy silver spoons to feed ourselves.

All day we were looking out in expectation of seeing the corvette again. Hour after hour passed, but she did not appear.

“She will not find us again, Jerry,” said I. “I wonder what the pirates will do with us?”

“Turn us into pirates somehow or other, I am afraid,” answered Jerry. “If we don’t pretend to be satisfied with our lot, perhaps they will get tired of us and will cut our throats, or throw us overboard, just to be rid of us.”

“That cannot, perhaps, he helped,” I replied. “But Jerry, I say, do not for a moment ever think of turning pirate, even if it were to save your life. Do right, whatever comes of it, is what Cousin Silas has often said to us—remember.”

“I was not quite serious,” answered Jerry. “But still, it we did, we should have a better chance of getting away.”

“That is the very thing that we should not do,” I replied. “Never do what is wrong that good may come of it. The pirates are not likely to ask us to join them; but if they do, all we have to say is that we would rather not. We need not go into the heroics about it, and show a vast amount of virtuous indignation, but just quietly and civilly refuse, and stick to it. Don’t fancy that we shall get away faster by doing what is wrong. As I said, let us do what is right, and trust all the rest to Providence.”

“I see of course you are right, Harry. I’ll try and heartily agree with you; but just now I was considering how we might deceive the pirates by pretending to join them, and I thought that I had got a first-rate plan in my head. But, Harry, from what you have been saying, I now understand that I was wrong.”

We took two or three turns on deck.

“I say, Harry,” exclaimed Jerry, suddenly, “I wonder what has become of the Dove?” So interested had we been with what concerned ourselves especially, that we had not till that moment thought about her.

“If she did not go to the bottom during the gale yesterday, perhaps the corvette got hold of her,” said I. “If the corvette did catch her, the people in charge of her are very likely to get their heads into a noose, for they will be puzzled to explain in a satisfactory way how she came into their possession.”

Captain Bruno seemed to care very little for the loss of the people in the little schooner. He swore and grumbled somewhat under the idea that she might have fallen into the power of the corvette, and seemed rather to wish that she might have gone to the bottom. However, as she was a capital sea-boat, it was possible she might have weathered the gale, in which case Jerry and I concluded that she would find her way to some rendezvous or other with the pirate. We hoped she might, for vague ideas ran through our minds that she might by some means or other enable us to make our escape from our captors. We could not tell how, but we thought that perhaps we might some night get on board her in some harbour, when the large schooner was refitting, and run off with her. Very slender hopes serve to buoy up people in circumstances like ours.

Three or four days passed away, and the pirates became pretty confident that the man-of-war was not likely again to fall in with them. As Jerry and I passed the compass, we carelessly cast a glance at it, and found that we were still steering a course to the southward. The pirates were now constantly on the alert. It was evident that they were on the watch for some vessel or some island. We considered that they were looking for a vessel, from the various directions in which they were looking out—north, south, east, and west; and sometimes we lay hove-to for hours together.

“I say, Harry, would it not be a joke if they were to fall in with the corvette again?” observed Jerry, when no one was near. “The Americans would not let us escape quite so easily as before.”

“The pirates will be too wary for that,” I answered. “But look! there is something in sight from the mast-head. There is ‘up helm.’ Away we go in chase of her, whatever she may be.”

There was a strong breeze from the north-west. Our course was about south-east. Mr McRitchie joined us in our walk on deck. He looked more grave and sad even than before. He had heard, we concluded, that the pirates were about to commit some fresh act of atrocity. They expected some fighting, at all events, we soon discovered; for the magazine was opened, powder and shot were got up, and all hands were busily employed in overhauling their arms, giving them an additional cleaning, and loading their pistols.

We did not venture aloft, but we looked out eagerly ahead to discover the vessel of which it was clear the pirates were in chase. First royals, then top-gallant-sails, and topsails slowly rose above the horizon. At last her courses appeared, and we could see the whole of her hull. She was a large barque, and there could be little doubt that the pirates were right in supposing her to be a merchantman. We had just done breakfast when she was first seen; it was almost sunset by the time her hull was completely seen.

Our appearance did not seem to have created any alarm on board, for she stood on steadily in her course to the southward. We followed like a blood-hound chasing its prey. The pirates were in high glee; they recognised the vessel as one which had been unloading in San Francisco when they had been there, and they seemed to have no doubt, from the number of people who appeared to be on board, seen through their glasses, that her passengers were gold-diggers, returning to their distant homes with their hard-earned gains—some obtained, undoubtedly, by honest, laborious industry—others, perhaps, by the many lawless means to which people will resort when excited by the lust of getting money.

As darkness settled down on the ocean, we could just see the vessel ahead. We kept on in her wake. As we much outsailed her, we quickly stole up after her, till we could make out the dark figures of her crew, as they stood on her deck, wondering, probably, what we could be. Not a shot was fired—no words were exchanged between the two vessels. “Perhaps the large vessel is prepared for the strife,” I thought to myself. “If so, the pirates may again find that they have caught a tartar; still, it is strange that no one on board takes notice of us.” We were still following in the wake of the stranger, but rapidly overhauling her. Jerry and I remained on deck to see what would happen. We had got close up on her quarter. Our helm was put to port, and this placed us on a line which enabled us to run up alongside. Not till our bows were almost up to the stranger’s quarter did any one hail us.

“What are you? what do you want?” asked some one, in a tone of surprise.

“We’ll show you,” replied Captain Bruno.

“Oh! is that your game?” exclaimed a person on board the stranger. “We thought so;—fire!”

The order was obeyed, and several shot came crashing into the bows of the schooner. The pirates were not slow in returning the compliment. Their fury was speedily worked up to the highest pitch. They laboured away at the guns, shouting and uttering terrific oaths, more like demons than men. We quickly ranged up alongside, keeping a little further off than we probably should otherwise have done, in the hope of crippling our opponent before attempting to board. The stranger had evidently many more people on board than the pirates had expected. They fought their guns well, and bravely too; but the further off we got the less effect had they, showing that they were handled by men without practice; while the pirates, on the other hand, seldom missed their aim. Thus fiercely engaged—the roar of the guns and the shrieks and cries of the combatants breaking the silence of night, while the flashes lighted up the darkness and revealed the hideous scene—we ran on in the same course as at first. The effect of the pirates’ practice with their guns soon began to tell on the stranger; spar after spar was shot away, and her lofty canvas came dropping down in torn shreds on deck. The pirates shouted with satisfaction and triumph as each fresh shot told on their opponent. We consequently had to shorten sail to keep abreast of her. Still, her shot sometimes searched out a pirate as he laboured at his gun, and several lay writhing in agony on the deck, while the voices of others were silenced for ever. At last down came the fore-mast of the barque, followed by her main-topmast. She was completely in the power of the pirates, for the schooner could sail round and round her, while her crew were unable to fight their guns, overwhelmed as they were with the wreck of the masts. The pirates cheered ferociously, and, keeping away, crossed the bows of the barque and fired a broadside right into them. Shrieks and cries arose from the deck of the stranger, but still no signal was made that she had given in. On the contrary, as soon as she could get the guns on the port-side to bear, she began firing away again on us. We tacked, and once more stood towards her, so as to rake her as we passed under her stern. For a minute there was an entire cessation of firing; none of her guns could be brought to bear on us, and the pirates were reserving their fire to pour it into her with more deadly effect. Dim and indistinct, we could just make out her hull and shattered rigging amid the gloom; and the pirates, believing that she would quickly be in their power, were calculating on the rich booty which would soon be theirs, when bright flames darted up from the midst of her—a roar like the loudest thunder deafened our ears—up, up flew spars, and rigging, and human forms, and pieces of burning plank—illuminating the dark ocean far and wide around; while the fire, which burned brightly, lighted up the countenances of the pirates as they stood watching the catastrophe they had caused. Some gleamed with anger, others with disappointed avarice; some few looked horrified, and a few were pale with terror, lest the same fate were about to be theirs. No attempt was made to save any of those who, escaping from the burning wreck, might be struggling in the waves. Jerry and I fancied that we could hear some shrieks and cries for help, but they were soon silenced, as the waters closed over the heads of those who were struggling, but struggling in vain. Uttering a fierce oath, Captain Bruno stamped on the deck, to give vent to his disappointment, and then ordering the helm once more to be put up, stood away on his course to the southward. Such are pirates, such they have always been, in spite of the veil of romance which has been thrown over their misdeeds.

For some days the schooner stood on, happily meeting with no other vessel to plunder and destroy. We all the time were kept in anxious doubt as to what was to be our fate. We had another cause of anxiety, in observing that the crew were inclined to quarrel with each other. The cause of this we could not understand, but the fact was very evident. A party seemed to be formed against the captain, and it appeared to us that Silva was at the head of it. Of course this was only conjecture. He was certainly not on such good terms with the captain as he had been at first. He was not a man of a quarrelsome or ambitious disposition, and probably some of the rest of the crew put him forward as their chief, knowing that he would be the principal sufferer if their plans failed, and believing that they could easily get rid of him if at any time they found it convenient so to do. Now and then disputes arose to a high pitch. Knives would be drawn and pistols flashed. More than once matters were brought to extremities; wounds were given and received, and blood was spilt. It had the effect of cooling their tempers for a moment, but at the slightest provocation they again broke out.

One day two men were talking together, apparently on very good terms. One of them we saw pull a dice-box out of his pocket, with several gold and silver coins; the other likewise produced his money. They began to play—at first laughing in a friendly way at the various turns of their fortunes. Then the laughter ceased, and they grew more earnest and intent on the game. One looked very triumphant, as the gold lately owned by his antagonist began to swell his heap. At last the other had no money left. He produced a watch, a clasp-knife and several jewels, a golden crucifix (which he kissed before parting with), and a silver-mounted pistol. His teeth were firm set; his eyes began to roll. He played on. Again he lost; but he had nothing wherewith to pay. He turned his pockets inside out. The winner seemed still to be insisting on payment. A deadly pallor came over the countenance of the loser. He sprang to his feet; a sailor was passing, with a long knife stuck in his red sash; he snatched it from the man, and uttering an exclamation equivalent to “Have at you, then! take all I have to give!” plunged it up to the hilt in the body of the winner, who fell to the deck without a groan. The action brought all those on deck around him. “He insulted me,” he exclaimed; “he won all I had, and then asked for more.” The bystanders seemed to acquiesce in the justness and rightfulness of the action. They did not attempt to touch the murderer, but they lifted up the body of the man he had wounded. He was already quite dead. None of the officers attempted to interfere. The murderer searched in the pockets of his victim for the money and jewels, and counting out the coin, took possession of what had been his own. Again with blasphemous mockery he kissed the cross, evidently believing that he was doing a righteous action, and then sat down on a gun with folded arms, as if he had been an unconcerned spectator of the scene which was enacting. The rest of the dead man’s property the pirates distributed among themselves, and then lifting the body to the side of the vessel, without an expression of regret threw it into the sea.

The tragedy was over, but the countenance of the murdered man haunted us, while his murderer continued walking with an unconcerned look about the deck, as if his hands were perfectly innocent of blood.

“Jerry,” said I, “the sooner we are out of this, though even on a desert island, the better.”

“Oh yes, Harry; it is not safe to live with such wretches,” was the answer.

It would be better if men remembered at all times that it is not good to dwell with sinners.

Chapter Sixteen.

Our perilous voyage.

As we emerged from our cabin one morning, we found that the schooner was standing toward what appeared to be a fleet of vessels at anchor.

“Why, we shall soon be among a whole squadron of buccaneers!” exclaimed Jerry, in a tone of despair. “We shall be separated, Harry—turned into cabin boys, and never have a chance of escape. O dear! O dear! My poor father!—what will he do?”

“Why, Jerry, I am not quite so certain that those are vessels,” I remarked; “just observe them attentively. Hillo! they have disappeared! Stay, we shall soon rise to the top of the swell again. There they are! They are as steady as church steeples. Those are not the masts of vessels. They are cocoa-nut and palm-trees, depend on that. They are growing on one of those coral islands which abound in these latitudes. Watch again. On we go.” (Here I caught sight of the glittering, white, sandy beach.) “How the surf breaks on the reef outside it! How bright and clear it appears, rising out of the deep ocean! How green the ground looks under those tall trees, and how intensely blue the lagoon in the centre! It is a lovely-looking spot—quite a fairy land. I hope that we shall be put on shore there, though I would rather have a few hills and valleys to diversify the scene, if we are to remain there long.”

While we were talking we were rapidly approaching the coral island. The doctor joined us, and was watching it also. The schooner stood on, and we thought she was going to pass it. The doctor, though not less anxious to leave the vessel than we were, did not appear to agree with our wish to be set on shore there. “It is dreadfully hot there, without shelter from sun or wind. There is also but little variety of food; and green as the ground looks from hence, we should find nothing to be compared to a green lawn when once we set foot on it,” he remarked. Still Jerry and I were ready enough to run the risk, hoping that, at all events, we might soon find the means of getting away. When, however, we had abandoned all hopes of landing there, the schooner was once more hauled up close to the wind. We found that she had stood on to clear a reef. She stood in under the lee of the land, and hove-to close to where an opening appeared in the reef.

Our hearts beat quick, for now we felt certain that something or other was going to happen, though nobody had said anything to us. It seemed strange that we could have lived so long surrounded by our fellow-creatures, and yet so entirely alone. A boat was lowered. A cask of bread, and another of salted meat, and some hatchets, and a few old sails, and, indeed, more things than I can here enumerate, were put into her. The doctor was summoned into the captain’s cabin. He remained a short time, and when he re-appeared he looked happier than he had done for many days. Jerry and I were then ordered into the boat; the doctor, to our great satisfaction, followed. Old Surley, as may be supposed, would not consent willingly to be left behind, and, watching his opportunity, he sprang in after us, and, as if he thought he might be carried back again if perceived, immediately hid himself under the seats between our legs. We were delighted to have the old fellow, and trembled lest the pirates, among some of whom he was a favourite, might insist on keeping him. It was with great satisfaction, therefore, that we found the boat shoved off from the schooner’s side.

Four of the pirates formed the crew of the boat, and taking the oars, they pulled towards the shore. We did not leave the pirate ship with any regret, though few people would desire to be landed on a desert island in the middle of the Pacific. Tom Congo, the black cook, was the only person who wished us good-bye. He was evidently sorry to lose us. We had no means of showing our gratitude to him, except by a few hurried words. We saw his good-natured black visage grinning at us over the bulwarks, as we left the vessel’s side. Suddenly he started back. There was some violent disturbance on deck. Shouts, and cries, and pistol-shots were heard. The outbreak we had anticipated was taking place. There was a mutiny. Some of the crew had risen against the captain; there could be no doubt about that. Some of the men in the boat wanted to go back to join in the fray, but an old man among them shook his head and said, “No! Let the fools fight it out. When we go back we shall know which side to join.” The rest saw the worldly wisdom of the advice, and calming down their eagerness, they pulled on to the shore.

We quickly passed through the reef, and the boat grounded on the beach, which we found was composed of broken corals and shells, and rose some ten feet out of the water. Had it not been for the disturbance on board, the boat would probably have returned as soon as the stores intended for our use had been landed; but, as an excuse for remaining, the crew offered to carry them up to any place we might select under the trees where to pitch a tent. We selected one to leeward of a heap of coral, where, several trees also growing close together, some shelter might be obtained. Near it was a pure spring of water bubbling up through the hard rock, and flowing into a basin some five feet in diameter, but of its depth we could not judge. The water was so clear that, as we looked into it, it appeared but a shallow pool. Jerry, being very thirsty, stooped down to drink from it, and, baring his arm, intended to rest his hand at the bottom to support himself while he stooped over. Down he went on his knees, but he got more water than he had bargained for. Suddenly over head and heels he went, and was floundering about in the pool, which must have been nearly three feet deep. Sad as was our condition, the doctor and I could not help laughing heartily at his surprised countenance as he popped his head up again after his summerset, and we assisted to haul him out. Even the saturnine pirates joined in the laugh. As the sun was very hot, his clothes quickly again dried, and he was in no way the worse for his ducking.

Surley had not mended matters by jumping into the pool and swimming about in its cool waters. As soon as he was out, off he set scampering about the island, scaring the wild-fowl, whisking his tail, and barking with delight at finding himself free after his long imprisonment on board ship. I felt very much inclined to follow his example, and to run about after him shouting at the top of my voice. I restrained myself, however, as the state of affairs was too serious to allow me to indulge in any such exuberance of spirits.

We thanked the pirates, with as good a grace as we could command, for helping us to carry up the stores. “Oh, no need of thanks, mates,” was the answer. “You won’t find it very pleasant here, perhaps; but there’s many an honest fellow worse off than you are, and there are not many who come aboard us who get away as well as you have done.”

We had too much reason to believe this assertion true to hazard a reply. Perhaps Jerry’s tumble into the water had put them in good-humour; but whatever was the cause, they seemed inclined to help us, and volunteered to assist in cutting down some trees to build our hut, which the canvas would make tolerably comfortable. While so employed, however, they kept looking up constantly towards the schooner.

“I say, Tom, don’t you think that there is a chance of her making sail, and leaving us here?” observed one of them to the old pirate Tom Roguish.

“No fear of that, mate,” answered old Tom, shaking his head. “They know our value too well to do that. I’ve watched what has been going on for some time, and it’s my belief Silva’s party will find that they have made a mistake. The captain has been too wide awake to be taken by surprise, depend on that.”

“Hillo! what are they about now?” exclaimed another of the men. The schooner, which had stood still closer in towards the shore, had lowered another boat, at the same time firing a gun as a signal to recall the one which had brought us. We all ran down as fast as we could to the spot nearest to her, and we could see that several persons were being lowered into the boat.

“Well, good-bye, mates; a pleasant residence to you,” exclaimed old Tom, insisting on shaking hands with us; and then he and his companions stepped into the boat and shoved off from the shore. We were not sorry, however, to see their no very pleasant visages grow less and less distinct, till they were lost in the distance. They stopped rowing as they passed the other boat, and exchanging a few words, again pulled on. We anxiously watched the approach of the other boat, to ascertain what it contained. One of the chief mates was steering. Silva, also, to our surprise, was in the boat. His head was bent down, and, from his attitude, it appeared as if his hands were lashed behind him. But there were two other people. We looked, and looked again. “Why,” exclaimed Jerry, in a joyful tone, “it’s Mr Brand, and no other than Ben Yool! How fortunate! Now we shall go all right.” I at the same time, with no less surprise and satisfaction, recognised my kind cousin and old Ben. Mr McRitchie did not appear to be as surprised as we were. He all the time, we found, had known that they were on board, but had been directed not to mention it to us. He told us that, as far as he could make out, Silva had been the means of saving the lives of Cousin Silas and Ben, as he had saved ours, but that the pirates had kept them below, that they might not discover whereabout they were landed; and, for the same reason, had prevented them communicating with us. Silva had another reason also for consenting to this arrangement, for he was afraid that their appearance might excite the anger of the pirates, and that they might perhaps throw us all overboard together. Indeed, it was owing to a happy combination of circumstances that our lives had been spared by that gang of bloodthirsty and cruel desperadoes. Even now, we were not quite certain that they might not take it into their heads to shoot us all, and we longed to see them making sail and clear away. The provisions, however, they had left with us, showed that the intentions of some of them had been kinder than the conduct of the crew in general would have led us to expect.

The second boat now reached the beach. Silva was assisted out, apparently suffering much pain, and then Cousin Silas and Ben followed with their limbs at liberty. We ran forward to welcome them, which we did most warmly, while they seemed very well pleased to meet us. Poor Silva was left, wounded as he was, standing on the beach. Some more casks and several other things were landed from the boat, and then the crew, without addressing a word to any of us, shoved off as fast as they could, and pulled back to the schooner.

As soon as the pirates were gone, we went up to Silva and asked him what had occurred. His rage and indignation, added to the pain he was suffering, almost prevented him from speaking. “Partly because I did not like to see so much blood shed, and partly because the captain was jealous of me, he had, I discovered, resolved to get rid of me,” he replied, stamping on the ground. “I, however, was always on my guard. Many of the people liked me and trusted me, and I got information of all he intended to do. He, however, it seems, had his spies, who got into the confidence of some of my people, and the captain saw that we were very likely to become the strongest party. Some of his allies took the occasion of your being put on shore to accuse me of having favoured you for my own ends. Words quickly led to blows. My friends rallied round me, but some of those I could best trust were sent away in the boat with you. The captain’s party made a rush forward, and, wounded and bleeding, I was seized. They would have killed me at once, but my friends declared that if I was hurt they would blow up the vessel and all hands together. I doubt if they would have kept their word. However, the captain agreed to spare my life, and to put me on shore with you, if they would not create any further disturbance. This they very quickly agreed to, the cowards, and so, here am I, lately as free and independent as any of them, left to share the fate of those whose lives they considered it a great favour to have spared.”

“Well, Silva, we will try and make you as comfortable as we can,” said Cousin Silas, taking his arm. “We have a doctor to tend you, which you would not have had on board; and as we feel fully that through your influence our lives have been preserved, we will do our best to show our gratitude.” Cousin Silas said this as we were showing the path up to the spot where we had commenced our hut.

In one corner we quickly made a bed of leaves and dry grass. Over this we spread a piece of canvas, and thus constructed a very good bed, on which we placed Silva. Dr McRitchie having examined his wounds, washed them and bound them up; but he observed that he considered his case somewhat serious. As soon as this was done, we set to work to cut down some more trees, so as to increase the dimensions of our habitation. We were employed for two entire days in building our hut, for we agreed that, as we might have to remain a considerable time on the island, and as probably heavy gales might at times prevail, it would be wise to construct a habitation which could not easily be blown down. To do this, to every upright post we put another at a considerable angle, and then secured our canvas tightly down to it. We also beat heavy lumps of coral tight down round the thick ends of the posts, so that it was scarcely possible for the wind to drag them out of their holes. We had been considerately supplied by Silva with a saw, and hammer, and nails, and other carpenter’s tools; and he now most unexpectedly benefited by his kindness to us, as we were able to put a comfortable shelter over his head much more rapidly than we could otherwise have done. I need scarcely say that Cousin Silas took the lead in everything. Indeed, I suspect, without him we should have managed but badly. Whenever our spirits flagged, he restored them by his resignation and cheerfulness; and he reminded us that although we might think our fate a hard one, we should be most thankful that we had escaped with our lives from the hands of such bloodthirsty miscreants as Bruno and his associates.

So busy were we at first, that it was some time before we had an opportunity of inquiring how it was that the pirates had not murdered him and Ben, when they pulled alongside the schooner. “I believe that they were so astonished at seeing two strangers on their deck, not knowing where we had come from, that it did not occur to them to heave us overboard again. This gave time to Silva, who at once recognised us, to form a scheme for saving our lives. Going up to us, he welcomed us as old comrades, hinting that we had some mysterious powers which enabled us to go about over the ocean wherever we liked, seated on our cloaks, or in cocoa-nut shells for aught I know. The pirates on hearing this, received us in a very friendly way, and all of them swore that no harm should happen to us. However, when we were required to take the oaths of the fraternity, and steadily refused, some of them began to suspect that Silva had been deceiving them. Our punt alongside showed that at all events we had not come on board on our cloaks. However, as they had sworn no harm should come to us, they kept their word, with the intention of landing us, as they have done, on this or some other uninhabited island. After Silva had lost his authority, I suspect that our treatment would have been very different to what we found it at first.”

“Well, Mr Brand, we are so very glad that you and Ben have escaped. What should we have done without you?” exclaimed Jerry.

I could do no more than take his hand and wring it warmly.

“Now, tell us, what do you think we ought to do next?” added Jerry.

“Make ourselves as happy as we can, and collect everything which will serve us as food, in case we have to make a long sojourn here, which it is, I think, very probable we shall have to do,” replied Mr Brand. “A ship may come off here in a few days or weeks, but we must remember that perhaps months or years may pass before one is seen. I cannot say whereabouts we are, but I suspect that the pirates would not have left us in the usual track of vessels coming north round Cape Horn, or going east or west. The next thing we have to do is to strip the branches off the tallest palm on the island, and make it serve as a flag-staff. We’ll then make as large a flag as we can of our handkerchiefs and shirts, and any stuff which will be light enough to fly well.”

We very soon carried out this project, and all of us working away to join our handkerchiefs, we had by the next afternoon a big flag flying from what we called our mast-head.

“Why, we shall turn into regular Robinson Crusoes, if we stay here as long as you were saying we might have to do, Mr Brand,” observed Jerry, as we were working away at our flag-staff. “I cannot say, however, that I like the look of this island as much as I did that of Juan Fernandez. If we had our choice, we would rather be there, I should think.”

“Very likely; but as you see, Jerry, we have not our choice, we must make up our minds to be content where we are,” answered Mr Brand cheerfully. “Probably, if we were at Juan Fernandez, supposing it still uninhabited, we should be wishing to be on the mainland. Let us strive, therefore, wherever we are, or whatever happens to us, to be content. Depend on it, we were not placed here by our merciful and all-loving Maker without an object, though we may never discover it. I do not for a moment mean to say that we are to sit down idly and not to endeavour to improve our condition. We are sent into this world to struggle—that we may in a variety of ways be tried—that all our trials may tend to our improvement. What I wish to impress on you, my lads, is, that we should be contented in every condition in which we are placed; we should be thankful for every step we gain, while our chief aim in life is our religious and moral improvement. But remember, above all things, that we must always look beyond this world. This is not our abiding-place—this is not even our resting-place—there is no rest here. If we only strive for something in this world—however noble, however great the position—we shall altogether fall short, very short of the aim, the object of life.”

Mr Brand warmed with his subject, and much more he said of a similar nature, which I will not now repeat. Jerry and I listened very attentively, and old Ben Yool tried also to take in what he was saying. I think he succeeded, and, certainly, on all occasions after that he bore without a grumble all the hardships to which we were exposed. Poor Silva lay on his bed all this time, suffering much from his wounds, while Mr McRitchie, when he could leave his side, went off with his gun to explore the island, and to search for specimens of its natural history. There was, however, a good deal to be done before we could accompany him. First, we had to finish our house, and then to store within it all the provisions and articles which the pirates had left with us. The doctor had kept his gun, and we had ours, which had been brought from the Dove, given to us as we left the schooner. These fire-arms would have been of no use to us, had not Silva given us a keg of powder and a bag of shot. These treasures we resolved to husband with great care, as we knew that we might be placed in positions in which our very existence would depend on our having the means of killing game, or of defending ourselves against enemies.

“Before we do anything else, we should take an inventory of all we have,” answered Mr Brand. “We must calculate how long our provisions will hold out, in the first place, and not imitate the example of many savages, who eat up all they have got, and then starve.”

This advice was followed. We found that we had provisions for four or five months; but we hoped to make them last a much longer time, if necessary, by eating the birds which swarmed on the island. There were cocoa-nuts and some other fruits, and we hoped also to catch an abundance of fish, which are generally to be found about the reefs surrounding coral islands in the Pacific. Our labours being concluded, we all sat down together on the beach below our habitation, to talk over our prospects. Happy, indeed, was it for us all, that we had a man like Cousin Silas among us, to give us his advice, and to set an example of patience and hope, and faith in God’s merciful providence, and a cheerfulness which nothing could overcloud. Really, after talking with him for some time, I often felt that our lot was rather to be envied than dreaded, and that we were only doomed to undergo a somewhat prolonged picnic. This example and conversation had ultimately a great influence with the doctor, who had been inclined to repine and to become morose, looking with gloomy apprehension as to the future.

A week passed by, and we found ourselves perfectly settled in our new home. Silva was gaining strength and his wounds were healing, and we were all in excellent health. The doctor also had almost recovered his spirits. We began now to take a more extended survey of our island. We calculated that it was from ten to fifteen miles from one end to the other, or rather right across; and as it was nearly circular, with a large lagoon in the centre, we had to walk from thirty to forty miles to go round it. It was about a mile across in most places. The beach was formed of broken coral and shells, while the upper portion of the land consisted of the débris of coral, the dung of birds, and vegetable earth. Out of this composition grew tall cocoa-nut trees, and palms, and pandanus trees, besides a variety of shrubs.

The birds had been partially driven away from the spot where we landed and had been working, but we found them in prodigious numbers a little way on. Cousin Silas insisted on our tying up old Surley, to prevent the unnecessary destruction which he dealt among them. Before committing any great slaughter among them, Cousin Silas advised us to kill only a few of each description, to ascertain which were the most palatable for present consumption, and which were likely to preserve best for future store. Sitting on nests roughly constructed of sticks among the shrubs, were a number of frigate birds (the Tachypetes Aquila). He is a magnificent fellow, allied in some respect to the cormorant, but with shorter legs, and having a forked tail. His plumage is a rich empurpled black, and the beak, both mandibles of which are curved at the tips, is red. His wings are of immense length, and his power of flight is wonderful. He can fish perfectly well for himself, but he is a most irreclaimable pirate, and likes to watch till other birds have seized their prey, and then he drops down upon them and carries it away. Sailors also call them men-of-war birds, but I think they ought to be called pirates. We looked into their nests, and found only one egg in each.

While sitting down taking our luncheon, we observed a snake crawling along out of the grass, and wriggling his way towards the sea. For what he went there I do not know. He had better have kept away. Just as he got below high-water mark, out darted from the crevice of a rock a huge crab, and seized him by the nape of the neck. The snake wriggled, and twisted, and tried to free himself in vain. Mr Crab held tight hold of him, and seemed resolved to eat him up. Poor Snakie tried to get his tail round a bit of rock, to keep himself out of the water; but Crabie pulled and hauled, and, in spite of all resistance, got him down to the very edge of the water, knowing that when once under it his struggles would very soon cease. Crabs have, however, to learn the lesson that there is many a slip between the catch and the feast. A frigate bird had from afar espied the combat, and, flying like a flash of lightning, downward he darted and seized the snake by the back. The voracious crab held on, not liking to lose his prey, till he found himself borne upwards from the ground, and in unpleasant propinquity to the frigate bird’s sharp beak. He must have felt that if he did not let go at once, he would be dashed to pieces; still, as a miser clutches his bags of gold, did Mr Crab the snake. Fortunately for him, the frigate bird had flown seaward, so that when he did let go, he fell into the water, and, probably, however his temper might have suffered, he was not much the worse for the ducking. Had he fallen on the rock, he would inevitably have had his shell broken, and would himself have become the prey of the pirate.

There were also sooty terns and gannets. It was interesting to watch the careful way in which the latter guarded their eggs, placed in holes on the ground. Wishing to make their offspring hardy, they do not build nests for them, I suppose; or, perhaps, the warmth of the rock assists the process of incubation.

There were probably a greater number of tropic birds than of any others. They would not got out of our way as we walked along, allowing us to shove them over rather than move. We literally also took their eggs from under them, without their attempting to make any defence. This apathy, as we called it, we thought arose from stupidity, but the doctor examined one of them, and showed us how weak its legs were, while its feet were adapted only for swimming. Its wings, however, were very long and powerful. Therefore, had it been up in the air, or skimming along over the summit of the waves, it would probably have acted in a very different way. “Never judge of people till you know the sphere of life in which they have been accustomed to move,” remarked the doctor. “A really sensible, clever man, may appear very stupid and dull, just as these poor birds do, simply because he is out of his element.”

The tropic bird is a species of gull, about the size of a partridge. It has a red bill and legs. The feathers are white, tipped with black, and the back is variegated with curved lines of black. The tail consists of two long, straight, narrow feathers, almost of equal breadth during their whole length. Their flight is most graceful—they glide along with scarcely any perceptible motion of the wing. They return every night to roost on land. They live entirely on fish. The natives of the South Sea Islands ornament their persons with their feathers. We saw a number of snakes, but none of them attempted to bite us; and the doctor said from their appearance that he did not believe them to be of a venomous character. Whenever we went near the water among the rocks, we saw large fish darting about, of every colour and shape; huge, long eels gliding in and out between the rocks, and fierce, voracious sharks pursuing their prey.

There were a great variety of molluscs; indeed, the whole shore was composed of shells. We naturally thought that the shells were empty; but as we watched them, thousands of them began to move, each tenanted by a soldier-crab, and a whole army of them slowly advanced out of the sea and marched across the land, devouring all the insects they encountered in their progress. Now and then two of them would stop and have a fight over a beetle or a spider, when perhaps a third would step up and carry off the cause of dispute. We found the spiders’ webs stretching in every direction between the bushes. The spiders themselves were great, ugly, black fellows, very disagreeable to look at, and still more unpleasant when we found them crawling over our faces.

I wish that I could describe the variety of shrubs we found on the island. Many were evergreens. One, which the doctor called the suriana, emitted a peculiarly strong, though not unpleasant odour. We used to be very glad, when the rays of the sun came down fiercely on our heads, to take shelter under these trees, and to rest during our long journeys from one end of our dominion to the other.

We in a short time were acquainted with nearly every portion of the island. Our habitation was about ten miles from the entrance to the lagoon, so that in one direction we were able to travel twenty miles, when we arrived at the termination of that part of the circle; and by going the other way, ten miles brought us to the end of the other. The passage into the lagoon was probably the eighth of a mile broad.

One day Jerry and I set off, he taking the shorter distance and I the long way, that we might have the pleasure of looking at each other across the passage. I do not know that we had any better reason. Accompanied by old Surley, I set off by daybreak, as over such rough ground it was difficult to make good more than two miles an hour. It was therefore the evening when I got there. I looked eagerly across the channel. There stood Jerry, shouting and beckoning to me. I shouted to him, and made all sorts of signals expressive of my delight at seeing him.

After we had played these sorts of antics for some time, I began to consider that it would be rather tiresome to have to walk all the way back by myself, and that either I must go across to Jerry, or get him to come over to me. I was the best swimmer, so I resolved to go over to him. I made signs that I would do so, and he signified that he was very glad to hear it. Old Surley seemed as pleased as I was at seeing Jerry, and leaped and bounded about, barking every now and then, after his own fashion, to show his satisfaction. Two or three times he ran down to the water, as if he intended to plunge in and to swim across; and each time he came back whining and looking up in my face, as if he had thought it would be wiser not to venture in. I had good reason afterwards to admire the instinct which prompted him to refrain from doing what he evidently wished to do.

I had my gun with me, as well as some provisions, which, of course, I did not wish to wet; and so I had to consider how I could get them over dry. A raft was the only means, but I reflected that it might prove somewhat difficult to tow. Still, I did not like to be beat, so I made signs to Jerry what I was going to do. With a hatchet which I carried in my belt, and with which I had provided myself to make an arbour for the night, I soon cut down wood enough to form a raft which would carry all my things, including my clothes; and I had a line in my pocket strong enough to tow it along.

All was ready; I launched my raft, and was loading it with my property, when my eye caught sight of a shoal of fish darting up through the passage, followed by a black, triangular fin, which I quickly recognised as that of a huge shark. I saw the horrid monster overtake and gobble up some of the fugitives, and then quietly come back, as it appeared, to swim sentry at the entrance of the lagoon. Perhaps he knew that the fish would make an attempt to get out again the same way. Be that as it may, I felt no inclination to encounter the gentleman.

When Jerry at length discovered the cause of my hesitation, he made signs entreating me to go back rather than to endeavour to cross, as I proposed. Still, I did not like to be driven back, even by a shark. I made signs that I would make a raft for myself. There were plenty of materials, the work would not take long, and it would be a triumph to have overcome a difficulty. I thought the idea a very bright one; so I at once set to work to build a raft large enough to carry me across the channel. Jerry tried to make me understand something or other; but I was so absorbed with my own idea and the work on which I was engaged, that I could not make out the meaning he wished to convey. While I was working, old Surley looked on very attentively, as if he wanted to help me, and fully understood what I was about.

I had built the raft close down to the water; but even so, I had considerable difficulty in getting it afloat. I succeeded, however, in so doing at last, by means of a long piece of wood, which served me as a handspike. Just as I was going to step on it, I fortunately saw the branch of a tree floating by out to sea, at a rate which showed me that I might very possibly be carried away by the current before I could get across. I therefore converted my neckcloth and pocket-handkerchief into a tow-rope, and towed the raft inside the lagoon. I had made myself two strong paddles—one to serve in case the other should break. At last I reached a point where I thought I might embark with safety. Surley, who had before hesitated, now came and placed himself by me. I had put on my shirt again, but the rest of my things were on the small raft. I gave my raft a desperate shove, and away I went, paddling as hard as I could up the lagoon.

I thought that I had gone far enough, and was in a hurry to get across, so I began to direct my course athwart the current. At first I made great progress, and laughed and shouted at the idea of thus easily accomplishing my undertaking. When, however, I turned my head over my shoulder, I found to my dismay that I had not got so far from the shore whence I started as I had fancied, while I was still a long way from that on which Jerry stood, eager to welcome me. I plied my paddle with all my might; but I appeared to make very little progress, and the current was evidently carrying me rapidly down the passage. I looked seaward: I had ample cause for anxiety, if not for dismay. A long line of huge breakers was rolling in on an outer reef, while the passage between them was so narrow that I scarcely hoped that the raft could be carried through it; and if it was, where was I to go? Out to sea, to be starved to death! If, on the other hand, I was thrown among the breakers, I felt certain that I should soon become the prey of the hungry shark I had just seen swimming after the shoal of fish. These reflections gave strength to my arm, and made me paddle away even faster than before.

Jerry full well understood my clanger, and I saw him wringing his hands in his anxiety; yet he saw that he could do nothing to help me. I felt that I had been very foolish; and the poignancy of my regret was heightened when I remembered that I had placed myself in my present predicament without any necessity or an adequate object. I had little time, I own, to indulge in such reflections, for all my thoughts and feelings were soon engrossed with the danger which immediately threatened me. Jerry ran along the shore as I was carried by, in vain stretching out his arms as if he would help me. Old Surley sat still, only now and then uttering a low whine, as if well aware of our peril, but feeling that he was unable to render me aid. Now and then he looked into the water, as if he would like to swim ashore, which he might possibly have done; but then, perhaps, he remembered the shark he had seen, or he was unwilling to desert me. I truly believe that it was the latter cause made him remain so quiet by my side. I am certain, from the expression of his countenance and the turn of his head, that he was fully aware of our danger.

I paddled and paddled away with all my might, all the time facing the shore, and getting nearer to it, but at the same time gliding down seaward. I was about a hundred yards from the shore. I looked towards the angry breakers, and was not more than twice that distance from the mouth of the channel. In a small boat there would have been no danger, but I found my raft a very heavy thing to move. I put still greater force into my strokes. My paddle snapped in two. Jerry uttered a cry of despair, for he thought I must now inevitably be lost. I seized the spare paddle, and flourishing it above my head, began to ply it as I had done the first. I made some progress, but not sufficient, I feared, to attain my object. I was approaching the last point. Jerry ran out to the end of it, and rushed into the water up to his arm-pits, hoping to stop the raft. I shouted to him to go back; for at that moment I saw close to me the fin of a monster shark. The savage fish darted on towards him, and he was barely in time to escape his ravenous jaws by springing into shallow water. Had he caught hold of the raft, I saw that he would be lifted off his legs, and carried away with me. Still I hoped to get within his reach where he stood. But vain was the wish: I drifted past the point. What hope had I now of being preserved? I felt inclined to throw away my paddle, and to give myself up to despair. But I aroused myself. I bethought me how Cousin Silas would have behaved under similar circumstances. I prayed for strength and courage to Him who is alone able to give them to those in deep distress. He heard me, or I should not be alive to tell my tale. Again I seized my paddle, and plied it with all my might. Still I drifted towards the roaring breakers. I vividly pictured the horrid fate which awaited me. I scarcely dared look seaward. I kept my eye on the shore, paddling without intermission. Suddenly I felt the raft arrested in its progress towards the breakers. It was partly whirled round, and I found it gliding parallel with the shore. This encouraged me; hope once more revived. I directed the raft towards the shore. I saw Jerry waving his hands with joy; he was answered by a cheerful bark from Surley. I got nearer and nearer. Oh, how thankful I felt when I found the blade of my paddle grasped by Jerry, and was towed by him safely to the shore! Old Surley sprang off on to dry ground, and began leaping up and licking Jerry’s cheeks and hands, to show his gratitude. Jerry and I hauled up the raft, with its little tender, and landed my things; and then, overcome with fatigue and the revulsion of feeling which I experienced, I fainted. I very soon, however, recovered, and kneeling down, joined by Jerry, I returned my heartfelt thanks to Him whose arm I knew most certainly had saved me. Afterwards I dressed; and sitting down, we made a supper from some of the provisions we had brought with us.

We had lost so much time that it was impossible to get back to our companions that night; so we set to work to prepare a hut and bed for ourselves before we were overtaken by the darkness, which comes on so rapidly in those latitudes. We were not long in constructing a bower and in raising a platform, under and on which we might sleep secure from the attacks of the snakes and other crawling things which abounded; but night came down on us before our work was quite completed. However, free from all fear of savages or wild beasts, we lay down, and were soon asleep.

Chapter Seventeen.

Our residence on the Island.

Our journey back appeared very long, for I was weak and tired, and from the exertion I had undergone, every muscle in my body ached. We met Cousin Silas coming to look for us; for he had become anxious at not seeing Jerry return at all events, and feared something might have happened to us. Ben Yool had set off in the other direction to search for me. Therefore, instead of gaining a great deal of credit, as we expected, by the feat we had accomplished, we found that we had caused our friends no little trouble and anxiety. It was a lesson to me ever afterwards not to attempt to perform any useless undertaking simply because it might be difficult or dangerous. Many people have lost their lives by such folly.

Silva had by this time completely recovered his health, but his spirits were very uncertain. Sometimes he would sit for hours brooding over his past life, and the treatment he had received from his companions; then he would start up and walk about the beach, waving his arms, and calling down imprecations on their heads. At other times he was very quiet and sociable, and would talk rationally on any subject under discussion.

The lagoon swarmed with fish; but though very beautiful in appearance, our difficulty was to catch them. We could manage to make some coarse lines out of some rope-yarns which had been thrown into the boat with the canvas; we could cut rods from the younger trees which grew around; and there were plenty of projecting masses of rock on which we might sit and angle; but a very important portion of our gear was wanting—we had no fishing-hooks.

“Has any one a file?” asked Silva. We all examined our knives. I had one in my knife-handle, but it was broken, and I had neglected to get the blacksmith to put a new one in its place. We hunted eagerly in our box of tools. Nothing like a file could we discover.

“What is this?” exclaimed Jerry, pulling out a bag of nails from the bottom of a cask. “Here is something larger than a nail inside.” It proved to be part of a file.

“There is enough here to file through an iron bar, if properly used,” said Silva, examining it. “Hand me the nails; I will see what I can do.” Seating himself under the shade of a cocoa-nut tree near the hut, he began working away most assiduously. With a pair of pincers he twisted the nail into the shape of a hook, and very soon filed, out a barb, and some notches in the shank with which to secure the line. In the course of two or three hours he had produced a dozen capital hooks. “Now we may go fishing,” said he. “We may catch as many fish as we can want, but we should be the better of a canoe.”

“Or a raft, eh, Harry? Should you like to try another cruise on one?” asked Jerry.

I shuddered at the thought of the danger from which I had been preserved. However, as we all felt that our health would benefit by some fish diet, we soon had our gear fitted, and all hands, including the doctor, might be seen perched, like so many cormorants, at the end of all the projecting points in the neighbourhood. Jerry and I were near each other; the rest of the party were pulling in fish pretty quickly; and we had caught several very beautiful-looking fellows—a species of rock-fish—when Jerry sang out that he had got a bite of some big fish, and called to me to help him. Leaving my own rod, I ran round towards him.

“Quick, quick, Harry!” he sung out, holding on by his rod with all his might. “I shall be in! I shall be in!”

Still he would not let go his stick. I sprang forward, and was just in time to seize him by the leg, when over he went splash into the sea. At the same instant I caught sight of the malign countenance of a huge shark, which had undoubtedly caught the fish he had at first hooked. I exerted all my strength to haul him in; for the monster, instead of being intimidated by the splash, made a dash forward for the purpose of grabbing him. I almost shrieked with horror as I beheld the savage fish; but Jerry had just time, as I drew him up by the legs, to put his hand on a point of coral, and to throw back his head, though the shark’s snout almost touched his nose as he did so.

“Not a pleasant fellow to get a kiss from,” exclaimed Jerry, as he scrambled up the rock and shook off the water from his clothes. Then he added, in a more serious tone, “Oh, Harry, what an ungrateful wretch I am to be joking at such a moment, before I have expressed my gratitude to God who has preserved me, or thanked you for coming to my assistance.”

While on the island we had had more time than usual for reflection, and had profited also by the example and exhortations of Cousin Silas, so that we were both happily becoming much more serious and thoughtful than heretofore. Indeed, I have learned that what we consider misfortunes, if seen in their proper light, may become the cause of the greatest blessings.

Ben Yool had seen the accident from a distance, and now came hurrying up to us. He was inclined to scold Jerry for the fright he had given him. I believe truly that the old man loved us as much as if we had been his own sons, and would have been miserable had any accident happened to either of us.

On examining the fish we had caught, we found that, although very beautiful in appearance, few of them were likely to prove palatable to the taste. Some, Silva thought, were altogether poisonous; and those we cooked had very little flavour.

“If we had but a canoe we might go off into deeper water, and then we might catch a greater variety, and many fish very fit for food,” he remarked, eyeing as he spoke several trees which, he said, would make good canoes. One or more canoes we accordingly resolved to have; so at once we set to work to cut down a couple of trees. That operation our axes quickly accomplished. It did not take us long to fashion the outside. To scoop out the inside was more difficult. Our axes did the rougher portion, and then we heated stones and bits of iron, and burned out the remainder, scraping off the black part with our knives. In about a week we had a couple of small canoes completed, with seats across, and with three paddles in each. Silva took charge of one, Cousin Silas of the other. The doctor and I went with him, while Ben and Jerry accompanied Silva.

With no little satisfaction we launched our fleet into the lagoon. Both canoes swam very well, and off we paddled with great delight across the lagoon. How bright and clear were its waters! It was almost impossible to estimate their depth, we could so completely see down to the bottom. After pulling some time, we rested on our oars. As we looked over the side, how beautiful was the sight which met our view! It was like a fairy land. Coral rocks of the most fantastic shapes sprung up around. Caverns, and arches, and columns, and pinnacles appeared. Gorgeous and varied were the hues. There were white, and blue, and yellow corallines. Among them grew marine vegetables of every description. Here the delicate sea-green stem of the fucas twisted round a rock; and near it the ocean fan expanded its broad leaves. Every point was occupied by some feathery tuft of lovely tints, while from each cleft projected the feelers of some sea-anemone or zoophyte. Among the heights of the submarine landscape moved thousands of living beings, to which the doctor gave some learned names which I do not pretend to remember. Some he called chetodons. They were flat and of an oval form, of a rich silvery hue, and had blue stripes downwards. They swam in a perpendicular position, with one long, slender fin from the back curving upwards, and another from the opposite side curving downwards. Several came and looked at us, as if to inquire why we had visited their domains. Others of still more curious forms and tints were darting in and out among the rocks; and there were huge lobsters, and crabs, and crayfish, of various sorts, poking their long antenna? out of gloomy caverns; and sea-urchins, and star-fish, and the bêche-de-mer, lay scattered about; while huge clams opened wide their broad valves to catch their unwary prey.

While we were all looking over the side, what had hitherto appeared to be a huge piece of rock began to move, and the piercing, savage eyes, and cruel jaws of a vast shark approached the canoe. I felt a shudder run through my frame as I saw the monster darting out of his ambush. “Give way!” cried Cousin Silas; “he means mischief.” The doctor and I plied our paddles. The brute made a dash at mine, and almost bit it in two. Away we went as fast as we could towards the shore, pursued by him. We shouted as loud as we could and splashed our oars about, to frighten him away; but he seemed in no way disposed to be alarmed. Silva, hearing our shouts, now came paddling toward us. Jack Shark, however, seemed resolved to play us a trick if he could. Swimming off to a short distance, he darted back, clearly with the intention of upsetting the canoe. Cousin Silas turned her away from him just in time, and giving the gentleman a smart blow over the snout, made him think better of his intention. Silva coming up at the same moment, so distracted his attention that we reached the shore without his succeeding in doing us any material damage.

Sharks are generally quickly frightened by splashing and a noise, and I had never seen any so bold and ferocious as those we met with about this island. In a little time we got accustomed to them, and often have I seen them gliding in and out among our lines, far down in the depths of the lagoon, though they did not prevent us from catching as many fish as we required. Sometimes, however, as we were hauling up a fish, a shark would catch hold of it and deprive us of our prize. We never went out without catching a large quantity, so we had always a good supply of fresh fish—the rest we preserved. We had two ways of doing this. Some we cut open and dried in the sun; others we salted. We made some salt-pans by blocking up the outlets in the rocks when the water ran off at high tide, and by scraping others in the sand. We thus had a supply of salt for all our wants. Mr McRitchie also found in his chest some papers containing a variety of vegetable seed. We accordingly scraped a spot clear for a vegetable garden, and it was surprising how quickly many of them sprang up and became fit for food. Thus I may say that we were furnished with many of the necessaries of life.

We were somewhat scantily supplied with kitchen utensils; our saucepan, or boiling-pot, especially, had seen much service. Silva showed us how we might boil our fish without it. He collected a quantity of very fine grass, and set to work to plait a large basket. So neatly did he put it together, that, after he had soaked it in water, he filled it up to the brim and not a drop ran out. Then he put the fish in; and lighting a fire, heated a number of large stones. These, as soon as they were hot, he kept putting into the basket. As soon as he supposed that all their caloric had left them, he hooked them out with a forked stick. In this way, by keeping the water boiling by a constant supply of hot stones, he thoroughly cooked the fish. I should think anything which does not require much boiling might be cooked in the same way.

Thanks to the example set us by Mr Brand, we were never idle. Of course a good deal of our time was occupied in procuring provisions, as is generally the case with those living in a savage state. We had not made any excursion to a distance for some time, when one day Jerry, Ben, and I, set out to take a long walk. After proceeding for about two hours, we saw before us a bay, with a wide sandy beach. Ben put his hand on our shoulders and pointed eagerly at the bay. The shore was covered with a number of black spots.

“What are those?” I asked.

“Turtle,” he answered; “won’t we have a fine feast of, them!”

We approached the bay carefully, following Ben’s footsteps. There must have been a hundred fine, large, green turtle, basking in the sun before us—enough to make the mouth of an alderman water. Ben crept up to the nearest, a fine fat fellow, and catching him by the flapper turned him over on his back, where he lay helplessly kicking, but unable to stir. Jerry and I, watching how he did it, turned over several more, though our united strength only enabled us to do it. We had got over a dozen or more when we came to a big fellow who was too heavy for us. We had got him almost over, when down he came again on his belly, and, very naturally, not appreciating the honour of being turned into turtle-soup, began scuttling away as hard as he could towards the sea. As may have been discovered, neither Jerry nor I were fellows who ever liked to give in; so we held on to the turtle with all our might, every now and then lifting up one side in the hope of getting him over, when, in spite of his strength, we should have made him ours. We shouted to Ben to come and help us; but he was busily employed in turning the other turtles, which, disturbed by our noise, were moving away towards the sea. Our friend had got actually into the sea, and we still clung on though we were up to our middles in water. We thought that by sticking to him we might now more easily get him over. We did succeed in lifting him up a little way, but he dealt us such severe blows with his flapper that over we both went, getting our mouths full of sand and water, and, of course, wet to the skin. Ben now saw that it was time to come to our aid, lest the turtle should actually swim away with us. He rushed into the water; but just then our friend struck out with both his paddles, and darting away, we fell back head over heels, nor were sorry when Ben helped us to regain terra firma, with our arms and legs not a little bruised with the blows we had received.

We had no time to think of our hurts. “Come along,” shouted Ben, “we must turn a few more before they all go away.” We had succeeded, we found, in capturing nearly thirty. Leaving the poor brutes on their backs—and very uncomfortable they must have found themselves—we hurried back to get the canoes, that we might convey some of them without delay to our home. We found that each canoe could only carry three at a time, so that we had to make five or six trips to get them up to the house. We inclosed a place in the shade, where we put them, and kept them well supplied with wet sea-weed, so that we had hopes they would be preserved in good condition for a long time.

Each time we visited the bay, we found it crowded with turtle. We discovered that they assembled there to deposit their eggs. This they do in holes which they dig out with their flappers in the sand. They cover them up again with the same instruments, and leave them to be hatched by the sun. We had not thought about this, when one day, as we were pulling across the bay in our canoe, we remarked the great number of sharks, and dog-fish, and sting-rays swimming about. Presently, as we got close in with the shore, we saw a number of young turtle crawling out of the sand and making their way to the sea, expecting, of course, to enjoy a pleasant swim; instead of which, a very large number of the poor little innocents must have been gobbled up by the voracious monsters. It would seem as if none could escape, but I suppose that some manage to run the gauntlet and to get clear off into deep water.

We had now a supply of turtle sufficient to last us till the return of their brethren the next year, should we be kept on the island so long. We thought that very probably we might have to remain even longer than a year. Even four or five years might pass without a ship coming near us.

We had made steps up to the top of our flag-staff, and one of us never failed to climb up there every morning, noon, and evening, to take a look round to see if any sail was in sight. Sometimes we talked of building a canoe in which we might cross to some other island, or perhaps even reach the mainland of South America. This was Silva’s proposal. He had seen, he asserted, birds flying in that direction. Some did not even stop on our island; and this circumstance convinced him, he said, that land could not be far-off. Mr Brand did not approve of this proposal. He said that, without a compass, and without knowing the direction in which land was to be found, the experiment was too hazardous, in so frail a bark as we had it in our power to construct. Still Silva constantly harped on this subject, and seemed quite angry when nobody seemed inclined to make the attempt.

Weeks and months rolled on. Silva used to listen to what Mr Brand said to him, and he always behaved very well. Indeed, we had ceased to remember that he had been a pirate, and had joined in the most atrocious murders; still, I do not know that he was a changed man—I am afraid not; that is to say, I am afraid had a piratical vessel come off the island, he would not have refused to join her. One very hot day Jerry and I had accompanied him in an excursion along the shore, when suddenly he said that he should like to bathe. We walked on a little further, leaving him to undress, and then we agreed that the water looked very tempting, and that we would bathe also. We were by this time at some little distance from him. We were partly undressed when we saw that the tide was rising, so we carried our things higher up the beach.

“If it were not for those horrid sharks, I should like to have a good long swim,” exclaimed Jerry.

“But those sharks are quite sufficient reason why we should not attempt anything of the sort,” I remarked. “Here, I think, we are pretty safe; but we must keep our eyes about us, depend on that.” We were inside a reef where sharks were unable to come.

While we were speaking, we observed Silva walk slowly into the water, and we thought he was going to stoop down and swim off. First, he put a foot forward, then he placed the other near it, and seemed to be trying to lift them up; and then he put an arm down, and then another. We, not thinking of danger, ran into the water and swam about for some time, enjoying ourselves excessively. When we came out we looked for Silva; he was nowhere to be seen. What had become of him? We dressed as fast as we could, and ran along the beach to the spot where he had been. There were his clothes, but there was no other trace of him. We shouted, but we shouted in vain. Much alarmed, we ran back to the settlement, as we called our hut, to get Cousin Silas or Ben to accompany us in our search for him. Mr Brand had gone in an opposite direction, but, after waiting some time, Ben Yool came in. After he had heard our account he launched the canoe, and all three of us set off along the coast to the spot where Silva had last been seen. As we got near it we saw the doctor, and hailing him, told him what had occurred. Silva’s clothes showed us exactly where to look for him, though, believing that a shark had carried him off, we had little hopes of finding his body. As we were pulling in quite close to the shore, Ben exclaimed, “Why, there he is, poor fellow, moored head and stern! What can have got hold of him?” We called the doctor to come and see; and Jerry jumping on shore, gave up his place to him in the canoe. When the doctor, got over the spot, after a short examination he exclaimed, “Why, it is a monster cephalopod—a squid, a horrid polypus has got hold of him. Poor fellow, what a dreadful death to die! There can be no doubt how it happened. He must have stepped on the squid, which caught hold of him with its long and powerful tentaculas, and gradually infolding him in its dreadful embrace, dragged him under the water. What strength the creature must have! for Silva was a very strong man, and would not easily have given in.” Thus the doctor went on lecturing on the polypus over the dead body of our late companion—his love of natural history making him for the moment almost forget the horrors of the scene. How to rescue the body from the grasp of the monster was our next consideration. Returning on shore, we cut some long sticks, intending to attack him with them. Again we launched the canoe, but when we reached the spot the squid and the body of the pirate had disappeared.

This dreadful catastrophe had a great effect on me. Mr Brand also was very much grieved when we got back and told him of what had occurred. When one out of a small number, cut off as we were from the rest of our fellow-creatures, is taken away, the loss must always be much felt. It was many days before we recovered our spirits. When I thought of the sharks, and the dog-fish, and these still more horrid polypi, I could not help feeling as if we were on an enchanted island, surrounded by terrific monsters to prevent our escape.

As time wore on, even Mr Brand began to talk of the possibility of building a canoe in which we might endeavour to get away. One great difficulty seemed to be that of carrying a sufficient quantity of water and fuel with which to cook our food. Of provisions we had an ample supply. Jerry proposed filling all the cocoa-nuts we could collect with water. The idea did not seem a bad one; but the first thing to be done was to get our canoe built.

We all the time kept a constant look-out from our flag-staff head. One forenoon I was up there as usual, when I thought I saw a speck on the water. It grew larger and larger. I watched it eagerly, till I saw that it was a canoe with a large sail. It was approaching the island at a point a mile or so from the house. I hailed to say what I had seen, and advised my friends to get our arms ready, that we might be able to defend ourselves should the strangers come as enemies. Mr Brand told me to come down. He then went up, and, after watching the craft for some time, pronounced her to be a large double canoe, and probably full of people. On his coming down, a council of war was held. As we could not tell what sort of savages those on board the canoe might be, we agreed that it would be wise to be prepared, if necessary, to meet them as enemies. Accordingly, we put ourselves under Mr Brand’s orders. He took the musket, and Jerry and I were armed with our fowling-pieces—Ben and the doctor providing themselves with hatchets and knives and long pointed sticks. Thus prepared, we hastily advanced towards the spot for which the canoe was making. That we might not be seen, we kept ourselves under cover of the trees and shrubs, or ran along a path on the lagoon side of the island.

We reached a good place for concealment behind some rocks and thick bushes before the canoe came to land, so that we had plenty of time to examine her. She was, as Mr Brand had before discovered, a large double canoe—that is to say, there were two canoes secured side to side, and sharp at both ends. I afterwards had an opportunity of measuring her. Each canoe was upwards of thirty feet long, and of fully three feet beam; and as they were about two feet apart, with a platform between them, the whole structure was about nine feet across. Each was also between three and four feet deep, so that she had considerable hold in the water, and was able to carry a large supply of provisions. Each end was fitted for a rudder, so that she could sail either way without tacking. The canoes were completely decked over, thus affording a cabin to their crews, and the means of preserving their cargo from damage. This also enabled the craft to go through very heavy seas without foundering. This canoe, however, was only half the size of the large double canoes of the Fejee and Tonga islanders, which are often a hundred feet long, and proportionably deep and wide.

Meantime we were watching with deep interest the approach of the strangers, expecting any moment we might be called on to engage in deadly conflict with them, should they discover us and be inclined for war. Cousin Silas had, however, charged us on no account to commence hostilities till it was evident that they would not allow us to retain peaceable possession of our island. As they drew near they lowered their large mat sail, and took to their paddles. We held our breath with anxiety, for we could count nearly forty people on board the canoe. Besides the men, there were both women and children. The men were tall, fine-looking fellows; some had on turbans and cloaks, and all had wide kilts of native cloth, and the women were decently habited in petticoats. We observed among them spears, and bows and arrows, and two or three muskets, which they held up conspicuously above their heads. As they approached the shore they looked about, apparently to discover any signs of inhabitants. Perhaps their quick sight had shown them our hut and flag-staff. On they came. They passed the passage through the reef, and running the canoe on to the smooth sand, both men and women leaped out, and began to haul her up on the beach. Now was the time to appear before them, and to attack them if they gave signs of hostility; but just as we were going to rush out to take them by surprise, they had hauled up their canoe sufficiently high to prevent the possibility of her drifting away, and then one and all, climbing up the beach, fell down on their knees, lifting up their hands and bursting forth into a hymn of praise. There could be no doubt about it; the words were strange to our ears, but the tune was one well-known to us all. Then one—the eldest of the party—uttered a prayer in a deep and solemn voice, all the rest joining afterwards in a response. About that, also, there could be no doubt.

Savages though they might seem, they were evidently Christians, and though we might not be able to understand each other’s language, they would receive us in the bond of brotherhood. We all, I doubt not, felt ashamed of our previous suspicions; though, to be sure, the precautions we had taken were very right and just. At a sign from Cousin Silas, we advanced slowly from our ambush, and, kneeling down at a little distance from them, joined them in the tune of the last hymn they sang. They looked surprised, but no one moved till the hymn was over; and then they got up, and, advancing fearlessly towards us, we shook hands cordially all round.

On a nearer inspection, we saw by their emaciated looks and the battered condition of their canoe that they must have undergone much hardship. Perhaps they thought us rather a rough set for Englishmen, for our clothes were somewhat tattered, and Mr Brand’s and the doctor’s, and Ben’s beards, whiskers, and moustaches were of considerable length, and not a little tangled.

After some experiments, we found that one of the men could speak a little English, but we failed to get out of him an account of their history. We were, however, able to explain to them that, if they would accompany us, we would supply them with food, water, and shelter, of which they evidently stood much in need. We first assisted them in hauling their canoe still further up the beach, so that she could not drift off again at the top of high-water; and then we all commenced our journey to our house. Many of the poor creatures were very weak and ill; and it was interesting to see Ben carrying a baby in each arm, and helping along the mothers at the same time. We all did the same, but his way was more remarkable. He would talk to the poor women, and encourage him by his tone, if not by his words; and then he would kiss the children, and dance them, and sing, and whistle, and chirp to them, greatly to the delight of the little creatures, and, I have no doubt, to that of their mothers also.

When we reached our settlement, we made up beds for the most sickly-looking, and the doctor, examining them, administered some restoratives. While he was doing so, we got fires lighted, and putting all our pots, and pans, and cooking-baskets into requisition, we soon had fish frying and boiling, and turtle stewing, and bread-fruit and various roots baking; indeed, the eyes of the poor creatures glistened—as well they might—with the anticipated feast. The doctor, seeing their eagerness, warned us to take care that they did not eat too much at a time; and, to prevent their doing so, assisted in serving out a small share only to each. To the invalids and children he only gave at first a few spoonfuls of turtle-soup; but that had a great effect in reviving them. The people seemed to comprehend clearly the reason why we gave them only a small quantity. Hungry as they were, before any one would touch the food, one of the elders stood up and, spreading out his hands, uttered a grace over it, in which the rest joined, evidently with pious sincerity. I could not help thinking to myself, How differently do these poor Christian savages, as they may be called, act to what would be the case with many civilised Christians under similar circumstances! The prayers of these poor people are undoubtedly acceptable to the all-loving God, who bestows his bounteous gifts with so lavish a hand on us his unworthy creatures; but what can we say of the hurried, scarcely muttered ejaculations to which the master of many a house in civilised England gives vent, as if afraid, in the presence of his polished guests—miserable worms like himself—of uttering a word of thanksgiving to the great Dispenser of all the blessings bestowed on him? Should a bishop, or some high dignitary of the church, be present, then perhaps, in an ostentatious tone, he is requested to ask a blessing on the banquet; and grace for once is uttered in an audible voice. Far be it from me to say that this is always the case, but who can deny that it is too often so? My young friends, I have learned many things in my voyage round the world, and this matter among others from those missionary, taught savages. Grace being said, they quietly partook of the provisions set before them, and though the eyes of some of the younger ones wandered towards the pots and the fire, no one even asked for more than we gave them.

When they had eaten, we made signs for them to lie down and rest. This they did with the most perfect confidence, as if not the shade of any suspicion of treachery crossed their minds. Some were suffering from sores and ulcers, brought on by constant exposure and wet, and to these the doctor at once attended with evident solicitude; which, it was clear, completely won their hearts. We watched over them carefully while they slept, driving away the flies and insects which seemed disposed to settle on them; indeed, in every way, to the best of our power, we treated them as men should men, and not as so-called Christians too often treat their fellow-creatures. What we might have done had not Cousin Silas set us the example, I cannot say; I only know that we were, happily, much influenced by his conduct and exhortations. My long stay in that lone island had, I feel, a very beneficial effect with me. I had time to meditate, to reflect, to look into myself, to examine my own heart and feelings, which I might never have done had I been mixing with the bustling, thoughtless world. Again and again I must urge my young friends to examine themselves—to reflect constantly. Do not say that there is no time—make time. It is one of the most important works of your life. Do not let trivialities put it off. Nothing you can possibly gain by the neglect can recompense you, however important you may for the time think the work in which you are engaged.

The first thing the strangers did on waking was to sit up and sing a hymn, and then several of them pulled out of the pockets secured to their waists books, which we had no doubt were Bibles; others had hymn-books, or devotional books of some sort.

The next day two or three of the strongest made signs that they would like to go and look at their canoe; but the others seemed content to remain where they were—indeed, many of them could not have moved even had they wished it. Jerry and I accompanied our new friends to the canoe. They seemed satisfied when they saw that she was safe; and having procured a few articles from her, and among them several cooking utensils, they returned with us to the settlement. They made signs, as they examined the canoe, that she would require much repair before she was again fit to put to sea. She was, to our eyes, a wonderful structure. There was not a nail in her; all her planks were sewed together, and secured in the same way to the ribs. This made her very strong and elastic, and accounted for her being able to endure the rough seas to which she must have been exposed.

Several days passed away, and our guests showed that they were recovering from the effects of their voyage. All this time we could not tell from whence they had come, or where they were going. They tried to explain, but we could not understand them. They were coming from some Christian island, and they were probably going to one; or, perhaps, they were native missionaries anxious to carry the gospel of salvation to their benighted fellow-beings among the inhabitants of Polynesia. We soon came to the conclusion that some were missionaries, who had their wives and children with them. One was a chief, who was escorting them, and the rest were the seamen of the canoe. Mr Brand arrived at this conclusion.

“But, sir,” said Jerry, “I thought missionaries always wore black coats and white ties!”

“John the Baptist was a missionary, but his raiment was of camel’s hair, and his food locusts and wild honey,” was the answer. “A man may be a first-rate missionary who dresses in a fustian jacket and leather gaiters, or whose costume is not more elaborate than that of these poor people. A friend of mine told me that he has often, sitting hammer in hand on the roof of a cottage nailing on shingles, preached the gospel to a congregation who were as attentive as if he were in a high pulpit, and were habited in lawn sleeves.”

There was something in the manner and the grave and thoughtful countenances of the missionaries which enabled us to distinguish them from the rest, and the one who already spoke a few words in English quickly acquired more by which to explain himself.

When they grew strong enough to move about, they made signs that they would not longer consume our store of provisions, but would, if we would let them have our canoes go and fish for themselves. To this, of course, we gladly consented; and they never came back without offering us a portion of what they had caught. We saw that they were preparing to remain some time on the island. They built themselves huts near their big canoe, and also three small canoes for fishing. Whatever fish they caught which they did not wish to consume, they carefully cut in two and dried in the sun. They also discovered a plantation of gourds, some of which they dried to serve as jars for holding water. We also went on with our preparations for a voyage. When they discovered what we were about, they seemed much satisfied, and intimated that they hoped we would accompany them. We, in reply, assured them that we would be very glad to do so. They then took us to the big canoe, and showed us how carefully they were at work repairing her. Whenever any of the lacing which kept her together was in any way worn or chafed, they put in fresh with the greatest neatness, covering all the seams up with a sort of gum which they collected in the woods. In this we could not help them, but we assisted in curing a large supply of fish and birds, and in collecting roots, and filling the cocoa-nuts and gourds with water. When they saw that we had still a number of turtle alive, they seemed highly pleased, and signified that they would prove a very valuable and wholesome provision for the voyage.

Everything was at last ready. The canoe was brought round into the lagoon to load. We all assembled. One of the native missionaries offered up in his own tongue some earnest prayers for our safety, and thanksgiving for mercies bestowed. Mr Brand followed his example in English. Then all went on board—the women and children first; the missionaries went next, followed by the chief and the sailors; and we five Englishmen, with Surley, brought up the rear. Another hymn was sung, the canoe was cast loose, the seamen seized their paddles, and slowly, to the music of a hymn sung by all the natives, we paddled out of the lagoon. The sea was smooth, though there was a fresh breeze; the sail was hoisted, and away we glided at a rapid rate to the eastward.

Chapter Eighteen.

A Voyage in a South Sea canoe.

Once more we were on the boundless ocean, out of sight of land, the stars only as our guides, and the sagacity of the Polynesian chief and his followers to depend on. What made us feel most strange was our utter ignorance where we were going. From the quantity of provisions and water the natives had thought it necessary to provide, it was evident that we had a long voyage before us—perhaps many weeks might be occupied in performing it. We could scarcely hope not to experience a gale of wind even in the Pacific during that time, and how could we hope to weather it out in so frail a craft, especially deeply laden as we were?

When Jerry and I expressed our apprehensions, after we had been some days on board, and were beginning to get very tired of being cramped up, the answer of Cousin Silas rebuked us,—“Trust in Providence, my lads—on the arm of Him who has already preserved us from so many dangers. He would not have sent this canoe full of Christian men to us, unless for some good object.” Jerry and I felt that Cousin Silas spoke the truth, and we made no further complaints.

It was surprising how delicate and attentive the islanders were to us—I will not call them savages. They devoted the end of one of the canoes for our accommodation, and raised over it an awning with mats, that we might be shaded from the heat of the sun, which was at times excessive. They selected the most delicate and the best-dressed food for us, and always served us first. Their habits were cleanly, and they were always kind and courteous towards each other, as they were especially to us. Now, as all this was so different to what I had fancied the natural character of the inhabitants of the islands in this part of the Pacific, I could not but suppose that their Christianity had produced the change. Had I known that the immediate ancestors of these very people, and, indeed, some of the men on board, had been cannibals and savages of the worst description, I might have been still more astonished. Oh, it is a glorious thing to know what a mighty change pure, simple Christianity will work in the heart of man, vile and deformed as sin has made it! Cousin Silas often used to remark, that the world was a very useful book, if we could but read it aright; and, thanks to him, I learned many important lessons from it. No lesson was more important than that which taught me the great change which the doctrines of Christianity, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, produce on men of the most savage natures. It confirmed and strengthened my faith in the power of the gospel; and I wish that all my young friends would read the accounts which they may find of the labours of missionaries in those and other hitherto benighted regions, and they will, if I mistake not, find the same result produced on their hearts which I experienced in mine. However, I must continue my narrative.

We had brought with us our fishing-hooks and lines, and whenever the breeze was moderate, we used to throw them out, and seldom passed an hour without catching some fish. This afforded a pleasant and wholesome change to our diet, and economised our provisions. Our progress was slow, and we were unable to ascertain how long the voyage was likely to last. Hitherto we had enjoyed only the finest weather; the wind had always been favourable, and even the strongest breeze which had wafted us along had only covered the ocean with a brisk ripple.

I mentioned that one of the missionaries spoke a few words of English. So great was his desire to acquire a further knowledge of the language, that all day long he was engaged in learning it from one or other of us. He first obtained a large vocabulary of substantives. These he noted down in a pocket-book which he cherished with great care, and then he began upon verbs. These are more difficult to obtain, when neither master nor pupil understands the other’s language. However, by dint of various signs, he obtained a good number, of which he began very soon to make use. We got on talking by degrees, till we really did understand each other very fairly. By degrees we gleaned from him the following narrative:—

He and his companions belonged to an island in the neighbourhood of Otaheite, all the inhabitants of which, from the teaching of some missionaries, had embraced with joy the Christian faith. From living in a state of constant warfare, no one for a moment knowing if his life was safe from the assaults of his fellow-islanders, they had all become peaceable and contented, life and property being as secure as in any part of the world. The missionaries had taught them many useful arts, and had introduced into the island many vegetables, and a variety of fruits, with some few animals; so that they had now a constant and ample supply of all the necessaries of life.

Highly valuing all the blessings they enjoyed, they heard that there were some islands lying far away to the west, the inhabitants of which were still ignorant savages. Some of their people had occasionally visited them in trading-vessels, and some of their canoes had, it was said, formerly gone there occasionally. At all events, they believed that the inhabitants understood their language. If, then, some of their people had ventured so far for the sake of gain, much more did it behove them to go there for an object inestimably more important—the salvation of the souls of a number of their fellow-creatures. A daring chief undertook to head an expedition, and six native preachers volunteered to go and settle with their wives and families among the heathen islanders, and to convey to them faithfully the gospel of salvation.

Two large canoes were fitted out, strengthened for the voyage, and stored and provisioned. The whole population of the island assembled on the beach to bid their countrymen farewell, and to offer up their prayers for their safety. They knew somewhat of the dangers they must encounter, perhaps not all of them, but they had counted the cost, and had they been greater than those of which they did know, they would not have been deterred from the attempt. With a fair breeze the two canoes set sail, and glided on over the smooth sea, towards the far-distant group of islands. Day after day they sailed on; no land greeted their sight, but they believed that they were on the right course, and fearlessly committed themselves to the care of a merciful Providence. They knew that however they might be directed, it would be for the best.

For many days the two canoes kept together, and the crews encouraged each other; their voices raised in hymns of praise being wafted afar across the waters, as they joined in chorus, and sang alternately with each other. At length dark clouds were seen gathering in the horizon, light scud flew across the sky, the sea began to rise—the canoes laboured much—soon they were pitching violently into the quick-coming seas: still they were skilfully managed, and the wind allowed them to keep their course. Gradually, however, they drifted further and further apart. Night came on, but the tempest did not abate. Several of the people were kept continually bailing, for, in spite of all their care, the sea constantly broke over them, and from the straining of the canoe many a leak was formed. No one who endured them, could ever forget the horrors of that night. “Had we been as we once were,” continued the missionary, “we should have resigned ourselves to our fate, and perished; but we knew that it is the duty of Christians to strive to the last, trusting in the arm of Him who is all-powerful to save, and while prepared for death, never abandoning hope. The morning at length came. The other canoe was nowhere to be seen. In vain we stood up and strained our eyes on every side, as we rose to the top of a sea; not a sign of her could we perceive. Still we trusted that our friends might have been preserved. That day the gale blew as furiously as before; but in the evening it moderated, though the sky was covered with clouds, and we knew not whither we were drifting. For several days we drifted on, ignorant of our position. Every morning, when daylight returned, we looked out eagerly for our friends, but we never saw them again. We live in hope that they may have been preserved. All is for the best.

“We thought that when the gale abated, and the sea grew calm, and the sun came out, our sufferings would have an end; but they only then began. Our stock of water was becoming less and less. Many of our provisions had been so damaged by the sea, that they quickly decayed. The sea became calm as the lagoon inside a coral isle; the sun burst forth with intense heat; our thirst grew excessive. Our island was plentifully supplied with water, and we had always been accustomed to an abundance; yet now we dared not drink more than the shell of a small nut could hold at a time. Carefully we husbanded the precious fluid; we had learned to know its value. At last the time came when not a drop remained. Every calabash was examined over and over again—the last drop was drained out. We sat down, and looked mournfully at each other. Our thirst increased. We dipped our heads in salt water—we continually sprinkled each other over with it; but that did not convey coolness to our parched tongues. ‘We must die,’ exclaimed some one. ‘No, no,’ answered one of our missionary brethren; ‘we will pray without ceasing—we will trust in God. He will send us relief when we least expect it.’ That very evening a flight of sea-fowl flew close to the canoe. We were able to knock over several. Their blood assisted to quench our thirst; their flesh, too, revived our strength. The next day several fish were caught; but it was not food we wanted. ‘Water! water! water!’ was the cry from old and young alike. Still a day passed away—there was no sign of land—no sign of rain. The next day came; intolerable was the thirst we endured by noon. In vain we strained our eyes through the hot, quivering atmosphere; the sky was blue and pure as ever; not a speck could we discern in the horizon. We had hoped that we might reach the group of islands to which we had been bound; we accordingly kept, as we believed, a direct course for it. Another morning broke. During the night, our sufferings had been intense. Could we survive through another day? We stood up to glance round the horizon. Directly before us arose, as if sprouting out of the water, a line of palm and cocoa-nut trees! How eagerly we plied our oars to reach the island on which they grew! How thankfully our voices sang the morning hymn, and uttered our accustomed prayers! We rapidly neared the spot. We might have run close by it in the night without seeing it. We paddled round to find a spot on which to land. Tantalising indeed was it to see the ground where we might hope to gain life and strength, and yet not be able to place our feet on it. At last an opening appeared in the surrounding reef, we ran in, and, hauling up our canoe, hurried off in search of water. No water could we find, but the strongest climbed some of the cocoa-nut trees, and quickly threw down a supply of their refreshing fruit. Oh, how delicious and cool was the milk which they afforded us! Still, pure water was what we most wanted; but though we searched in every direction, and dug down as deep as we could with our rough wooden tools, not a drop could we find.

“We remained here a week hoping for rain, but it came not. The juice from the cocoa-nuts restored our strength. We collected all we could gather for our voyage. Once more we resolved to trust ourselves to the sea. We embarked, and hoisting sail, stood away on our former course. No land appeared in sight. Many days passed away. Our supply of cocoa-nuts was almost exhausted. Again death by thirst stared us in the face. Oh, how carefully we husbanded the few precious nuts which remained! They at last were exhausted. The hot sun again arose, and we had no liquid with which to quench our thirst. The burning rays of the bright luminary struck down on our heads with intense force. ‘Water! water! water!’ we repeated as before. Some almost gave way to despair. ‘We have before been preserved, why give up all hope now?’ said others. In the evening a small cloud was seen to rise out of the sea. It spread wider and wider. There was no wind. It advanced toward us. Fast from it fell a thick shower of pure, sweet water. On it came, we opened wide our mouths, we spread out our hands. Oh, how gratefully it moistened our parched lips! We stretched out our sail and all our garments, and let the precious streams we thus gathered run into our gourds and pots. All that evening the rain came down in a continuous fall, and every moment we were occupied in collecting it, till all our receptacles were full to the brim,—not a shell did we allow to remain empty: and then we poured it down our throats in a full, refreshing stream. Scarcely were we satisfied when the rain ceased—the dark cloud blew onward—the stars shone forth brightly from the clear sky, and we pursued our course.

“The next island we came to was barren—no water, and no nuts; we must have perished had we been cast on it. Then we reached another with some inhabitants on it. We understood, in part, their language. Their ancestors had, they believed, been cast on it wandering as we were across the ocean. Their canoe had been destroyed, and they had remained there without wishing to depart. They had been driven forth from their native isles by cruel wars, in which the greater number of their kindred had been destroyed. They received us in a friendly manner, and invited us to remain with them. They had heard nothing of the Truth. The gospel-message had never reached their ears. From consulting with them we were convinced that we had been driven so far out of our course that we should never reach the islands of which we were in search. Here, however, was work for us to do, pointed out clearly by the finger of God. We told the islanders, to their joy, that we would remain with them; and by degrees we opened to their wondering ears the glorious tidings we had brought. Astonished, they heard, but did not refuse to listen. Some speedily believed. The news we brought was of a nature their hearts had long yearned for; it spoke of rest from toil—rest from suffering—rest from sin. Others, in time, accepted the truth with thankfulness. Every day we preached, and every day some one acknowledged himself a sinner, and sought redemption through Him alone who can give it. At length our glorious work was accomplished. We gave them books; we taught them to read. We told them that we must depart to try and reach our own homes. They entreated that one of our number would remain with them. It was resolved that one should remain to guide them aright. We drew lots. He on whom the lot fell, without a murmur, with his wife and family, joyfully remained—though he well knew that he could never hope again to see the land of his birth, and many dear to him there. But I am making my story longer than I intended.

“Once more we set sail to return to our homes. Numerous were the hardships we endured, though no one murmured. Several islands were visited. At some, food was procured; at others we were afraid to stay, on account of the fierce character and the cannibal propensities of the inhabitants. We had been ten days out of sight of land when we reached your island, and truly did we rejoice to find not only whites, but Christian men to receive us.”

With these words the native missionary finished his narrative. I was particularly struck with the artless simplicity of his account, and the faith and perseverance he and his companions had exhibited, so worthy of imitation. I felt ashamed as he spoke of white men, when I recollected how many act in a way so totally at variance with their character as Christian and civilised men, and how bad an example they set to those whom they despise as heathens and savages. I have very frequently met young men who fancy when they are abroad that they may throw off all restraints of religion and morals, under the miserable excuse that people should do at Rome as the Romans do,—in other words, act as wickedly as those among whom they have gone to live. What would have become of Lot had he followed the example of those among whom he took up his abode? Now, my young friends, I daresay that you will think I am very young to lecture you; but remember that I have been round the world, and I should have been very dull and stupid had I not reaped some advantage from the voyage. What I want to impress upon you is, when you leave your homes and go abroad, to be if anything more strict, more watchful over yourselves even than you have before been. Society will, too probably, afford less moral restraint, the temptations to evil will be greater; but pray against them faithfully—strive against them manfully, and they will not overcome you.

Our voyage, as I was saying, had hitherto been prosperous; but a gale came on, and we were exposed to the very dangers the missionary had so well described to me. We could do nothing except help to bail out the canoe, for the natives understood how to manage her much better than we did; and, with all our civilisation and nautical knowledge, we had to confess that in that respect they were our superiors. The canoe laboured fearfully, and often I thought that she must founder. How anxiously we looked out for some sign that the gale was abating, but in vain. Had we been in our own ship, we should certainly have thought very little of the gale; but in this frail canoe we had ample reason to dread its consequences. At length the wind shifted, and drove us on in what the islanders considered our proper course. We ran on for some days without seeing land, and then the gale blew over and left us becalmed under a burning sun. We had carefully from the first husbanded our water, having the advantage of the previous experience of our companions. As it was, we had barely sufficient to quench the constant thirst produced by the heat. Every day, too, seemed to increase our thirst and to diminish our stock of the precious fluid. Our hope had been to fall in with some vessel which might either supply us or give us a course to the nearest island where we might obtain it. One forenoon, when we had been suffering even more than usual, the chief declared that he saw a vessel on our weather bow, and that she would cross our course. With intense eagerness and hope we all looked out for her. As her sails rose out of the water, we saw that she was a schooner. If we could but get on board her, we thought that we might again in time rejoin the Triton. We were very certain that Captain Frankland would not cease to look for us while a chance remained of our being discovered. Gradually we neared the schooner. I saw Cousin Silas and Ben Yool looking at her with great earnestness.

“What is she, Ben, do you think?” asked Cousin Silas.

“Why, Mr Brand, as you know, sir, I’ve been boxing about the world for the best part of the last forty years, and I think I ought to know one craft from another, and to my mind that vessel is no other than the piratical craft we were so long aboard. I say, if you ask me, sir, that we ought to stand clear of her. She’ll bring us no good.”

“Exactly my idea,” answered Cousin Silas; “the wretches might very likely send us to the bottom, or carry us off again as prisoners.”

We were, however, too near the schooner to hope to escape from her; but we agreed that we might lie concealed while the canoe sailed quietly by her, and that, probably, no questions would be asked. We had some little difficulty in explaining the character of the vessel to our friends. When they did understand it, they seemed to be much horrified, and undertook carefully to conceal us. As we drew near the schooner, the rest of our party went below; but I wrapped myself up in a piece of matting, leaving a small aperture through which I could see what was going forward. The schooner stood close up to us. I was very certain that she was the pirate. Several faces I recognised. Among them was Captain Bruno. At first I thought that they were going to run us down; then I dreaded that they were going to make us come alongside. Hauling their foresail to windward, they hailed two or three times, but in a language was not understood. At last an answer was given from the canoe. What it was I could not tell. It seemed to satisfy them. To my great joy they once more let draw their foresail, and stood away from us. This was not the last time we were to see that ill-omened craft.

As soon as she had got to some distance off, my friends came out of their hiding-place, and I disengaged myself from the folds of the mat. Truly thankful were we that we had escaped her. The missionary told us that the pirates had stated that we were about three hundred miles to the westward of Otaheite, and that we should pass several islands to get there. Once at Otaheite the chief knew the direct course to his own island, and believed that he should have no difficulty in finding it. Our escape from the pirate made us, for a time, almost forget our raging thirst; we could not, however, but admire the fidelity and resolution of the natives, who, rather than run the risk of betraying us, had refrained from asking for water from the pirate.

All that day our sufferings were very great. As we were running on during the night, our ears were assailed by the sound of breakers. We listened; they were on our weather bow. If we ran on we might miss the island; so we hauled down our sail, and paddled slowly on towards the spot whence the sound proceeded. All night we remained within sound of the surf. How anxiously we waited for daylight to ascertain that there was an island, and not merely a coral reef over which the sea was breaking! That night was one of the most anxious we had yet passed. Slowly the hours dragged along. It was wonderful to observe the calm and resigned manner of the islanders. The missionaries and the chief never gave the slightest sign of distress; even the women did not complain. “It must be near daybreak,” said Mr Brand, waking up out of a sleep into which he had at last fallen. “Look out.” We strained our eyes in the direction in which we believed the island to exist. A few pale streaks appeared in the east; and then, oh! our hearts leaped with joy as we saw tall, thin lines appear against the sky; and, as the light increased, the stems and tops of trees were revealed to view. But our joy was somewhat damped when we discovered that a long line of heavy breakers rolled between us and them. At sight of the island the natives, with one accord, raised a hymn of praise and thanksgiving which put our doubts to shame; and the chief, pointing to the surf, made signs that we must go round on the other side, where we should find a place to land. The sail was forthwith hoisted, and we quickly ran round to the lee side, where a wide opening in the surf presented itself. We paddled through it into the inner bay or lagoon, and reaching the shore, the canoe was secured.

The natives did not forget their prayers and hymn of thanksgiving, in which we all heartily joined them. They then looked cautiously about, to ascertain that there were no people on the island who might treat us as enemies. This necessary precaution being taken, we hurried about in every direction in search of water. Jerry and I kept together. Our tongues were parched with thirst. Some of the natives were climbing the cocoa-nut trees, in case any might still retain milk; but the season for the fruit was now passing. Indeed, we wanted water, pure simple water. We felt that we should value it far more than the richest wine from the vineyards of Burgundy or the Rhine. At last we observed a little moisture on the ground near a large tree. We followed up its trace, and soon, shaded by shrubs, we came to a basin of bright, cool water. We eagerly stooped down and lapped up some of the delicious fluid, and then shouted loudly to our friends to come and enjoy the valued luxury with us. In a very short time the pool was surrounded with men, women, and children, ladling up the water with their calabashes and bowls, the mothers pouring it into the mouths of their children before they would themselves touch a drop, while the men knelt down and lapped it up as we had done. As I watched the scene, I bethought me that it was a subject fit for the exercise of the painter’s highest art.

We spent a week on the island, repairing the canoe, catching fish, and filling our water jars with water. This may appear an unnecessarily long time to have waited on our voyage, but, after being cramped up for so many weeks, it was necessary to recruit our strength and to stretch our limbs. Much refreshed, we continued our voyage. I forgot to state that at every island where we touched we engraved our names on the trunks of trees, in the most conspicuous situation, and stated the direction in which we were going. We had done this also on our own island, as we called it, that should any vessel visit the spot she might perhaps convey intelligence to Captain Frankland that we were alive, and give him some clue as to where to look for us. Our friends understood our object, and now added some sentences in their own language to the same effect. The fine weather continued, and confident in the guidance and protection of Him who had hitherto preserved us from so many and great dangers, we launched forth again into the deep.

We passed several small islands; some had but a few stunted trees growing on them; others again had scarcely soil sufficient to nourish a few blades of long wiry grass; while others were barren rocks without verdure of any description, their heads but lately risen from beneath the waves. I believe that it was at one time supposed that these coral formations rose from immense depths in the ocean, and that those wonderful and persevering polypi worked upwards till they had formed submarine mountains with their honey-combed structures; but it is now ascertained that they cannot exist below at the utmost fifty feet of the surface, and that they establish the foundation of their structures on submarine mountains and table-lands, while they do not work above low-water mark. How comes it then, it will be asked, that they form islands which rise several feet above the sea? Although the polypi are the cause of the island being formed, they do not actually form it. They begin by building their nests on some foundation which instinct points out to them. First they work upwards, so as to form a wall, the perpendicular side of which is exposed to the point whence the strongest winds blow and the heaviest sea comes rolling in. Then they continue to work along the ground and upwards on the lee side of the wall, sheltered by their original structure from the heavy seas. They also work at each end of their wall in a curve with the convex side exposed to the sea. Thus, at length, beneath the ocean a huge circular wall of considerable breadth is formed. Storms now arise, and the waves, dashing against the outer part of the walls, detach huge masses of the coral, six feet square or more, and cast them up on the top of it, where they remain fixed among the rough peaks of coral; and gradually other portions are thrown up, till a mass is formed above high-water mark. Other bits, ground by the waves into sand, now form a beach, united with shells and various marine productions. Birds come and settle, and leave seeds which spring up; and trees grow, and attract moisture; and fresh springs are formed, and the spot becomes fit for the abode of man. Some islands have had a rock, or, perhaps, the plateau of some marine mountain for their commencement, and the polypi have simply enlarged it, and formed a reef around it. (“The Coral Island,” by R.M. Ballantyne, Esquire, Nelson and Sons.) However, this interesting subject has been so often well explained in other works that I will not further enlarge on it, though I could not pass it by in the description of my voyage without some notice.

Another week we had been out of sight of land. We were longing to find some spot on which we might stretch our legs, if only for a few hours, and, what was more important, obtain a fresh supply of water, when towards the evening the treetops of a large island appeared before us stretching away on either side to the north and south. We approached near enough to be seen from the shore, if there were inhabitants on it, of which there could be little doubt; but we could discover no place where it would be safe to attempt a landing. Judging that the shortest way to get round to the other side would be to go to the south, we paddled in that direction during the night. The roar of the surf prevented any sounds from the shore from reaching our ears; but we observed several fires lighted on the beach, which assured us that the island was populated. The question, of course, was—Would the inhabitants appear as friends or foes? We paddled but very slowly during the night, just sufficiently to keep the canoe away from the breakers, and to get round to the place where it was believed a passage would be found. At daylight we perceived the looked-for spot, and stood towards it. We observed a number of people on the beach. They had scarcely any clothing; their skins were dark, their hair was long and straggly, and the men had spears or clubs in their hands. Our chief stood up and examined them narrowly. No green boughs were waved as a sign of amity; on the contrary, their gestures appeared somewhat of a threatening character. We had just got to the mouth of the passage when his quick eye detected a number of canoes collected inside the reef, and full of men, armed with darts and bows and arrows. He made a hasty sign to his followers to back their paddles, and away we shot out of the trap.

As soon as our flight was discovered the canoes gave chase. They were small, each carrying not more than six or eight men; but from their numbers they were formidable. The men in them were also armed with a variety of weapons, and we thought it very likely that the arrows and darts might be poisoned. In a long line they darted out of the passage through the breakers, like hornets out of their nest, to the attack. “There they come, the black scoundrels!” exclaimed Ben Yool. “Ten, fifteen, twenty,—there are thirty of them altogether. They’ll give us no little trouble if they once get alongside. However, they think that they’ve only got their own countrymen, so to speak, to deal with. They’ll find themselves out in their reckoning, I hope.”

As we got away from the land we felt the force of the wind, and the chief ordering the sail to be set, we shot rapidly ahead. Still the small canoes made very rapid way through the water. The chief looked at us, as much as to ask, “What will you do, friends?” Mr Brand understood him, and answered by producing our fire-arms. Fortunately we had had very little necessity to expend our cask of powder and our shot, and we had a good supply. The missionaries, when they saw the fire-arms, put their hands to their heads as if in sorrow that it would be necessary to shed blood, but some words spoken by their chief reassured them. We could have told them that the sin lies with those who make the attack, provided the other party has employed all evident means to avoid hostilities.

By the orders of their chief our people got their own bows and spears ready, and then they set to work with their paddles again, and plied them most lustily, much increasing the speed of the canoe. This, however, had only the effect of making our enemies redouble their efforts to overtake us.

Mr Brand and Jerry and I were the best shots; the doctor was not a good one, and Ben knew better how to manage a big gun than a musket.

“You will fire over their heads, will you not?” said the doctor.

“I think not,” answered Mr Brand. “It will be mercy to make them feel the effects of our power. If each of us can knock over one of their people they may be so terrified that they will turn back at once; but if they once come on and attack us, we know not where the slaughter may end, even should we prove victorious.”

It was agreed, therefore, that as soon as the savages got near enough to distinguish us, we were to jump up, and taking steady aim, to pick off those who appeared to be chiefs in the headmost boats. We explained our plan to our chief, and he much approved of it.

The wind freshening we made good way, but still the flotilla of canoes was fast overtaking us. The voices of the savages, as they shouted and shrieked at us, were wafted across the water; but they had not the effect of intimidating our friends. “Ah, my boys, you’ll shout to a different tune, I suspect, before long,” exclaimed Ben, as he eyed them angrily. At length, in spite of all the efforts of our friends, the savages got close up to us; and two men in the leading canoe, lifting their bows, were about to draw their arrows, when Cousin Silas exclaimed, “Now is the time, my lads; give it them.” We all fired. The two savages dropped instantly, and one man in each of the next canoes went head foremost overboard. The people in the following canoes hesitated for a minute what to do. The delay gave us time to reload. Again we fired, while our people jumping up sent a flight of arrows among our enemies. Shrieks, and cries, and groans, arose from the canoes, which all crowded thickly together like a flock of sheep, their people astonished and terrified at what had occurred. Then they turned round, and all paddled back in evident confusion. We shouted, and gave them a parting volley; but this time it was over their heads to hasten their movements. We were preserved,—not one of us had received the slightest injury. Away we glided, as fast as the wind and our paddles would carry us from the inhospitable island.

Chapter Nineteen.

Voyage in a whaler—further adventures.

Wearily our voyage had continued for many weeks, yet we felt that having been preserved from so many dangers, it would be sinful to complain. No one was actually sick, not a life had been lost, and by great economy our provisions and water had hitherto been sufficient for our necessities. A flight of birds had passed over our heads, directing their course to the north-east. We saw our chief watching them, and he at once ordered the canoe to be steered in the same direction. All day we stood on. Just as the sun was setting, we thought we saw a faint blue peak rising out of the water, but even the most practised eye could not determine whether it was land or a light cloud. We continued the same course during the night. For several hours I watched, then, overcome by fatigue, I fell asleep. “See! see!” I heard Jerry exclaim. I jumped up. There appeared before us the lofty and rugged peaks of a line of mountains. Of great height they seemed, after the low land to which our eyes had been so long accustomed. Their sides were clothed with verdure, pleasant and refreshing to the sight; and at their bases were groves, and fields, and sparkling streams, with heat pretty-looking cottages scattered about. There was a slight swell. When the canoe rose to the top of it, we could see a yellow beach, with a circle of bright, blue, calm water around it, and outside a line of white foaming breakers, the guardians of the shore. “Otaheite! Otaheite!” exclaimed the chief and his followers; and we thus knew that we were on the coast of the dominion of the ill-treated Queen Pomare; but we also knew that there were civilised men on shore, and that we should probably be received there with kindness and hospitality.

Soon discovering a passage through the reef, we ran in, and were at once surrounded by canoes full of people, wondering who we were and whence we had come. Our friends quickly gave an outline of our and their adventures, to satisfy curiosity. They found there several people from their own island, one a chief who had become a wealthy man. He took them to his own house, and had their canoe hauled up to be repaired. I need not say that she was visited by all the foreign residents, curious to examine a craft of so frail a structure which had performed so long a voyage. Our consul was very civil to us, and we were received into the house of an English gentleman, who treated us with the greatest kindness. As we met with no very interesting adventures during our stay here, I will content myself with giving a brief account of the island.

Otaheite was discovered in 1767, by Captain Wallis, who called it King George’s Island; but it is better known by the name of Tahiti. It is of volcanic formation, and consists of two peninsulas joined by a neck of low land, about two miles across. The whole island is about thirty miles in circumference. The smaller portion, called Tairaboo, is the most fertile; but as Tahiti proper has the best harbour, it is the most frequented, and is the seat of government.

We know very little of the history of the island. Soon after its discovery, a chief, who assumed the title of Pomare the First, made himself king. His son, and then his grandson, succeeded him, and the present queen is his granddaughter; her name is Aimata, but she has taken the title of Pomare the Fourth. She has established a constitution, and seven chiefs act as her ministers. For many years both the chiefs and people have professed Christianity, having been converted to a knowledge of the truth by Protestant missionaries. These missionaries were undoubtedly earnest, pious men, but they have been unable altogether to check the vices which the lawless rovers, outcasts of every civilised nation in the world, have introduced among them. Notwithstanding the counteracting influences I have mentioned, civilisation was making progress in the island, under the teaching of the Protestant missionaries, when the peace was disturbed by the arrival of two French Roman Catholic priests. They travelled about the country endeavouring to teach their doctrines, but in no place did they find willing hearers. A few chiefs who were in opposition to the Government for political motives, gave them some countenance, and they were entertained at the house of the American consul. The people, however, resolved that they should not remain to attempt the corruption of the faith in which they had been instructed, and rising in a body, compelled them to go on board a small vessel, which carried them to Wallis Island, two thousand miles off. The French who had long desired the possession of some island in the Pacific inhabited by partly civilised people, were too glad to found a pretext on this circumstance for interfering in the affairs of Tahiti. A frigate, the Venus, commanded by Monsieur Du Petit Thouars, entered the harbour of Papieti. The French, captain, bringing his guns to bear on the town, demanded satisfaction for the outrage committed on his countrymen. The queen was inclined to resist, but the foreign inhabitants, knowing that they should be the chief sufferers, collected the amount demanded, which was at least four times as much as any pecuniary loss the priests had incurred. He also forced a treaty on the queen, by which Frenchmen were allowed to visit the island at pleasure, to erect churches, and to practise their religion. This was the commencement of the complete subjugation of the Tahitians to the French. So much for the history of the island.

The valleys, and a plain which extends from the sea-shore to the spurs of the mountains, are very fertile, and produce in great abundance all tropical plants. The climate is warm, but not enervating; the scenery is in many parts very beautiful. Thus the natives are tempted to lead an easy and idle life, exerting but little their physical and mental powers. It is, indeed, to their credit that they do not altogether abandon themselves to indolence. They are by nature constituted to enjoy the beautiful scenes by which they are surrounded. Consequently, they delight in building their cottages in the most retired and lovely spots they can find. Their habitations are surrounded with fences, inside which they cultivate the taro, and sweet potatoes, the banana, the bread-fruit, the vi-apple, groves of orange and cocoa-nut trees, and at times the sugar-cane. Their habitations are of an oval shape, often fifty or sixty feet long, and twenty wide. They are formed of bamboos, planted about an inch apart in the ground. At the top of each wall thus formed, a piece of the hibiscus, a strong and light wood, is lashed with plaited rope. From the top of the four walls the rafters rise and meet in a ridge, those from the ends sloping like those from the sides. The rafters, which touch each other, are covered with small mats of the pandanus leaf, which, closely fitted together and lapping over each other, forms a durable roof, impervious to the rain. The earth, beaten hard, forms the floor. There are no regular partitions, but mats serve the purpose when required. Their bedsteads are made of a framework of cane raised two feet from the ground, and covered with mats, the most luxurious using pillows stuffed with aromatic herbs. They have neither tables nor chairs. Their style of cooking is very simple: they bake their food in extemporised ovens filled with hot stones. Since my return I have often intended to propose having a picnic, and to cook all our food in Tahitian fashion. The dress of the people is undergoing a rapid and considerable change. Formerly a native cloak and kilt was all that was thought necessary; now every sort of European clothing is in vogue. We had an example of this at a feast our English friend gave to a number of chiefs and their relations. Some of the gentlemen had on uniform coats, with nankeen trousers too short for them, and coloured slippers. Others had top-boots, red shirts, black breeches, sailors’ round jackets, and cocked hats. Some had high shoes and buckles, and others had no shoes at all; but all had shirts and trousers, or breeches. Some, indeed, were in complete costume: shoes, stockings, trousers, waistcoat, coat, shirt, with a huge neck-tie—every garment of a different colour, and often too large or too small—while a little straw hat was worn on the top of the head. Indeed, it was very evident that their clothes had been collected from all parts of the world, many garments probably having passed a probation in pawnbrokers’ shops, or in those of old clothes-men in London or Liverpool. I was particularly struck by the total want of perception of congruity as to dress exhibited both by men and women after they had abandoned their native costume, which, if somewhat scanty, was graceful and adapted to the climate. The women we saw were dressed in straw bonnets of huge proportions and ugly shape, and loose gowns of gay colours reaching from the throat to the ankles, with silk handkerchiefs tied round their necks. A few wore wreaths of flowers round their heads, which formed a picturesque part of their ancient costume. The people are said to be very honest, and always seemed in good-humour, happy and cheerful, while we never saw them quarrelling or disputing with each other, far less coming to blows. Many of them are scrupulous in their attendance on religious worship; the Sabbath is strictly kept by all, not even a boat being launched, while those who are seen abroad are decently clothed, going to or coming from church. What change French civilisation may have worked in this state of things it is painful to reflect. We visited several schools, and except that their skins were darker, the appearance of the children differed little from that of the same class in any part of Europe, while they appeared in no way wanting in intelligence. In fact, from all we saw and heard, we came to the conclusion that the inhabitants of the islands of Polynesia are generally as capable of a high state of education and civilisation as the people of any other race, while their minds are peculiarly susceptible of religious instruction. Our fellow-voyagers afforded us a good example of this. We much regretted that we could not converse familiarly with them. Our missionary friend had especially won our regard and esteem.

They were now anxious to return to their own island, the season of the year being favourable for the voyage. It was with much regret that we heard of their intended departure. With a large concourse of natives and several English missionaries, we accompanied them down to the beach to see them off. Prayers were offered up by all present for their safety during their voyage. It was an impressive and affecting scene. Many wept as the fine old chief and his friends stepped on board. He could scarcely refrain from tears, nor could we. The frail canoe was launched forth into the deep, the sail was hoisted, and away they went on a voyage of three hundred miles, with full faith that the God who had hitherto preserved them would watch over them still.

We did not at the moment believe that our departure was so near. The next day the Matchless, a Liverpool whaler, arrived in the harbour of Papieti. We met her master, Captain Brown, who told us that he was bound for the coast of Japan, and that he should touch at the Bonin Islands, and probably fish off there some time. At this latter place we knew that Captain Frankland fully intended to call. How much his plans might be changed by our supposed loss we could not tell, but at all events we could not hope for a better opportunity of falling in again with the Triton. Captain Brown had lost several of his people,—some by sickness, others in a gale, and others by desertion. Hearing this, Mr Brand offered his own and our services as far as the Bonin Islands, or for a longer period, should we gain no account of our own ship. They were without hesitation accepted. The Matchless remained but a few days, having called in merely to obtain water and a supply of fresh provisions. Our kind English friend, not content with having supported us all the time we remained at Tahiti, insisted on supplying us with as good an outfit as he could procure in the country. When we expressed our gratitude and unwillingness to be so great a burden on him, he smiled. “What is the use of property, unless to do good with it?” he remarked. “Do not say a word about the matter. When you reach home, should the obligation weigh too heavily on your conscience, you can send me back the value; but I then shall be the loser, as it will show me that you will not believe in the friendship which induces me to bestow these trifles as a gift.” After this very kind speech we could do no more than sincerely and cordially thank him. The day before we embarked, he told us that he had been making inquiries about Captain Brown. “I would rather that you had another man to sail with,” he observed. “He is a person with two countenances, I am afraid. On shore he is mild, and obliging, and well-behaved; but afloat he is, I am told, tyrannical and passionate, and often addicted to intemperance. You will, accordingly, be on your guard. You will probably remain only a few weeks with him, or I should advise you to give up the voyage, and wait for another opportunity of going westward.” This was not pleasant news, but we resolved on no account to delay our departure, and, thanking our friend for his warning, as well as for all the kindness we had received at his hands, we the next day went on board the Matchless.

She was a fine vessel, and well-found with boats and gear. How great a contrast did she offer to the frail canoe in which we had lately made so long a voyage! How strongly built and rigged! How well calculated to stand the buffeting of the winds and waves! How impossible did it seem that any harm could come to her! I felt this, I own, as I walked her deck. She had already taken twenty whales, or fish, as sailors wrongly call them. For some time Captain Brown was very civil and good-natured, and we began to hope that our friend had received a wrong account of him.

Although we did not expect to meet with whales, men were always kept at the mast-heads on the look-out. I shall not forget the excitement of the scene when, after we had been a week at sea, the cry was uttered from aloft, “There she spouts! there she spouts!” In an instant everybody was alert. “Where away? where away?” was asked. The point where the whale had appeared was indicated. The boats were lowered; the crews leaped into them. The master went in one, two mates in others. Off they pulled in hot chase. The whale sounded; the men lay on their oars. In half an hour she rose again, throwing up a jet of sparkling foam into the air. Again the boats dashed on. The master’s headed the rest. His harpoon struck the monster. One of the other boats got fast directly after. Then off went the whale at a terrific speed, dragging the boats after her directly away from the ship. Now she sounded, and all their lines were run out; but just as they would have to cut, up she came again. We followed under all sail.

The day was drawing to a close when another whale was seen floating idly close to us. The possibility of obtaining another rich prize was not to be lost. Mr Brand had served for three years in a whaler, and was now doing duty as mate. He ordered a boat to be manned. Jerry and I entreated that we might accompany him. “One only can go,” he answered; “I am very sorry.” The lot fell upon me. Jerry was never jealous. “Old Surley and I will take care of each other,” he answered. Away we went. A long, low island was in sight from the mast-head. The other boats could nowhere be seen. We got up to the whale before she sounded. I fancy she was asleep. The harpoon Mr Brand shot into her awakened her up. Off she went in the direction of the land, at a great rate. I wished Jerry had been with us. It was so pleasant to be dragged along at so furious a rate, the foam flying over the bows of the boat. Formerly harpoons were always darted by the hand. Now fire-arms are used. The butt of the harpoon is placed in the barrel, and the rope is attached to it by a chain. Less skill and strength is required to strike the whale, but just as much skill and experience is requisite to avoid being struck in return and smashed to atoms by the wounded animal. Whenever the whale slackened her speed, we hauled up in the hope of getting another harpoon into her, but she was soon off again; then she sounded, and we were nearly losing our line. Again she rose; a second harpoon was run into her. Off she was again. At length blood mingled with the foam from her spouts. With fury she lashed the water around. “Back! back for your lives!” shouted Mr Brand. Well it was that we got out of her way in time. One blow from those tremendous flukes would have destroyed us.

Loudly we shouted as the monster lay an inanimate mass on the surface of the deep. Then we looked about us. We had approached close to the island, but darkness was settling down over the face of the waters. The ship was not to be seen. Clouds were gathering thickly in the sky. A gale, we feared, was brewing. Our safest plan was to lie by all night under the lee of the whale. The wind came from the very direction where we believed the ship to be. We should never be able to pull against it. We had got out our harpoons from the dead whale, and were putting our gear in order, when, just as we were going to make fast to it, the huge mass sunk from our sight! We looked at each other with blank disappointment. It was gone—there can be no doubt about it, and was utterly irrecoverable. “Don’t grumble, my lads. We should have been worse off had we been fast to it with a gale blowing, and unable to cut ourselves adrift,” exclaimed Mr Brand. “Let us thank the Almighty that we have escaped so great a danger. We’ll run under the lee of that island for the night, and try and find the ship in the morning.” Accordingly we bore away, and were in a short time in comparatively smooth water. Still the weather looked very threatening. We pulled in close to the breakers. “Harry,” said Cousin Silas, “I think we should know that island. I see an opening in the breakers, and a clump of trees on it which seems familiar to my eyes. We shall be better off on shore than here. I will take the boat in.” The men were somewhat astonished when they received the order to pull in for the land. We exactly hit the passage, and soon had the boat hauled up on the beach. “We will have a roof over our heads to-night, lads,” said Cousin Silas, leading the way, and in a quarter of an hour we were seated under the shelter of the hut where we had lived for so many months! It was strange that we had so unexpectedly fallen in with our own island again.

We lit a blazing fire, and caught some wild-fowl, and knocked down some cocoa-nuts, which were now in season, and picked some bread-fruit, and, with the provisions we had in the boat, enjoyed a capital meal, which somewhat restored our spirits after the loss of our whale. As far as we could discover, no one had been there since we left the spot,—even our beds were ready for us. All hands rested soundly, and by the next morning the short-lived summer gale had blown itself out. I mounted to the top of our flag-staff, and to my no small satisfaction saw our ship lying-to five or six miles off to the westward. I was hurrying with the rest down to the boat, for I had no wish to be left again on the spot though I felt an affection for it, when Cousin Silas stopped me. “We have an important work to perform,” said he. “Before we go we will obliterate our former directions and write fresh ones, saying where we are now going.” I saw the wisdom of this precaution in case the Triton might visit the place; and, accordingly, with our knives we carved in a few brief words a notice that we were well and bound for the Bonins. This done, we embarked and ran out towards the ship.

On getting on board we found the captain in a desperately bad humour at having been compelled by the gale to abandon the whales he had caught; and our account of our loss did not improve his temper. He swore and cursed most terribly at his ill luck, as he chose to call it; and, to console himself, opened his spirit case and drank tumbler after tumbler of rum and water. The result was soon apparent: he issued contradictory orders—quarrelled with the mates—struck and abused the men, and finally turned into his cot with his clothes on, where he remained for several days, calling loudly for the spirit bottle whenever he awoke. From this period he became an altered man from what he had at first appeared, and lost all control over himself.

I will not dwell on the scenes which ensued on board the whaler. They were disgraceful to civilised beings, and to men calling themselves Christians. Cousin Silas, and the doctor, and Ben, did all they could to counteract the evil,—the latter by exercising his influence forward, and the others in endeavouring to check the officers, who seemed inclined to imitate the example of the master. Cousin Silas had charge of one watch, and he got Jerry and me placed in another, and he told us instantly to call him should we see anything going wrong. Thus three or four weeks passed away. We managed during the time to kill two whales, and to get them stowed safely on board; and this put the captain into rather better humour. However, the ship was often steered very carelessly, and a bad look-out was kept.

We were running under all sail one day when, as I was forward, I saw a line of white water ahead, which I suspected must be caused by a coral reef. I reported the circumstance. Fortunately there was but little wind. I looked out anxiously on either hand to discover an opening. To the southward the line of foam terminated. The helm was put down, and the yards braced sharp up; but in five minutes a grating noise was heard and the ship struck heavily. The seamen rushed from below,—they full well knew the meaning of that ominous sound, and they believed that the ship was hopelessly lost. The captain at the time was unconscious of everything. Cousin Silas hurried on deck, and, taking a glance round, ordered the helm to be put up again, the yards to be squared, and the courses which had been clewed up to be let fall. It was our only chance. The ship’s head swung round; once more she moved—grating on, and, the doctor said, tearing away the work of myriads of polypi. “Hurrah! hurrah!” a shout arose from all forward. We were free. Away we flew.

This narrow escape ought to have been a warning to all on board. Unhappily it was not. The same system was pursued as before. The other mates grow jealous of Cousin Silas, and did their utmost to counteract his efforts. One night Jerry and I were on deck, actively moving about, followed by Old Surley, looking out in every direction; for it was very dark, and the officers had been having a carouse. For some reason or other I was more than usually uneasy. So was Jerry.

“I should not wonder,” said he, “that something will happen before long.”

“I hope not, if it is something bad,” said I; “but I’m not altogether happy. I think that I will go and call Mr Brand.”

“What shall we say to him, though? There will be no use rousing him up till we have something to tell him.” I agreed with Jerry, so we continued talking as before.

“What are you youngsters about there?” shouted the first mate, who, although it was his watch, was half tipsy. “Go below, and turn in; I’ll not have chattering monkeys like you disturbing the discipline of the ship.” Jerry and I hesitated about obeying, and Jerry whispered to me that he would go and call Mr Brand. But the mate sung out, “Mutiny! mutiny! Go to your own kennels, you young hounds!” and ordered some of the watch on deck to carry out his commands. We could not help ourselves, so we went below, and turning into our berths very soon fell asleep.

How long we had been asleep I do not know. I was awoke by a terrific crash and loud cries and shrieks. Jerry and I sprung up, so indeed did everybody below, and rushed on deck. It was very dark; but from the way the ship heaved and lurched, and the sheets of foam which flew over her, we knew that she was among the breakers, and striking hard on a reef. The fore-mast and main-mast had gone by the board. The mizzen-mast alone stood. That fell soon after we got on deck, crushing several people beneath it. Anxiously we hunted about shouting for Cousin Silas, followed by Old Surley, who, since we came on board, scarcely ever left our heels. We naturally sought him for advice. It was, indeed, a relief to us to find him unhurt. In a short time we discovered the doctor and Ben. We clustered together, holding on by the bulwarks; for every now and then a sea came and washed over the decks, and we ran great risk of being carried away. Nothing could we see on either side beyond the white roaring breakers. Cousin Silas said that he was certain we must have been driven some way on the reef, or the sea would have broken more completely over us, and no one could have hoped to escape. Several people had already been washed overboard, and had been lost or killed by the falling masts; but who they were we could not tell. What, also, had become of the captain we did not know. He had not, that we could discover, come on deck. Perhaps, all the time he was below, unconscious of what had occurred. All we could do was to cling on where we were, till with daylight we should be able to tell our position. Every now and then we felt the ship lifting, and it appeared as if she was driving gradually over the reef. Another danger, however, now presented itself—we might drive over the reef altogether, and sink on the other side! We strained our eyes through the darkness; but, surrounded as we were with spray, it was impossible to distinguish the shore, even though it might be near at hand. If there was no land, our lot would indeed be sad; for, wherever we were, it was clear that the ship would be totally lost, and, as far as we could discover, all our boats were destroyed. After two or three hours passed in dreadful suspense, though it appeared as if the whole night must have elapsed, the ship became more steady, and the sea broke over her less violently. “We must get a raft made,” exclaimed Cousin Silas. The men seemed to look instinctively to him for orders, and willingly obeyed him. All hands set to work, some to collect the spars which had not been washed overboard, others to cut away the bulwarks and to get off the hatches—indeed, to bring together everything that would serve to form a raft. Dark as it was they worked away; for they knew that when the tide again rose the ship might be washed over the reef and sink, or go to pieces where she lay. How eagerly we watched for daylight to complete our work! The dawn at length came; and as the mists of night rolled off, we saw before us a range of lofty mountains, of picturesque shapes, rising out of a plain, the shore of which was not more than a quarter of a mile off. As the sun rose a rich landscape was revealed to us, of cocoa-nut groves, and taro plantations, and sparkling streams, and huts sprinkled about in the distance.

“At all events we have got to a beautiful country,” observed Jerry, as he looked towards it.

“One from which we shall be thankful to escape, and where our lives will be of little value unless we can defend ourselves from the inhabitants, who are, I suspect, among the most bloodthirsty of any of the natives of Polynesia,” answered Cousin Silas. “However, the sooner we can get on shore, and establish ourselves in some good position for defence, the better.”

The raft, which had been constructed with the idea that we might require it for a long voyage, was a very large one, and having launched it, we found that it could not only carry all the ship’s company, but a number of other things. We found an ample supply of arms and ammunition—most valuable articles under our present circumstances. We got them all up, as well as our clothes and everything valuable in the ship which could at once be laid hands on; we also took a supply of provisions, that we might for a time be independent of the natives. One thing more was brought up—that was, the still senseless body of the captain. There he lay, totally unconscious of the destruction his carelessness had brought on the ship intrusted to his care. In silence and sadness we shoved off from the ship which had borne us thus far across the ocean. Many of our number were missing; two of the mates and six seamen had been killed by the falling of the masts, or washed overboard.

We paddled across the smooth water inside the reef as fast as we could, hoping to land before any of the natives had collected to oppose us. All our people had muskets, and some had cutlasses, so that we were able to show a bold front to any one daring to attack us. As we neared the shore we saw in the distance a number of people with bows, and arrows, and clubs, hurrying towards our party. We soon ran the raft aground, and, leaping on shore, were led by Cousin Silas to the summit of a rocky hill close to where we were.

The savages advanced with threatening gestures. None of them had fire-arms. We thus felt sure that, if they ventured to attack us, we should make a good fight of it. Cousin Silas called four of the men to the front, and ordered them to fire over the heads of the savages, to show them the power we possessed. The savages halted at the sound, and looked about to see what had become of the balls they heard whistling above them. While they hesitated, Cousin Silas, cutting down a green bough, went to the brow of the hill and waved it over his head—a token of a friendly disposition, understood in all those regions. To our great satisfaction, we saw the savages tearing down boughs, which they waved in the same manner. Among the whaler’s crew was a Sandwich Islander who spoke the language of many of the people in those regions. He was told to try and see if he could make them understand him. Waving a bough he went forward to meet them, while the rest of us stood ready to fire should any treachery be practised. They did not seem, however, to have meditated any, and met him in a perfectly friendly manner. After talking to them for some time, he came back and said he had arranged everything. He told them that we were voyaging to our own country, and that we had landed here to await the arrival of another ship. If we were treated well, our friends would return the compliment; but that if otherwise, they would certainly avenge us. This, undoubtedly, was far from strictly true; but I have no doubt that it had the effect of making the savages disposed to treat us hospitably. The savages on this put down their arms and advanced towards us with friendly gestures. Mr Brand, consequently, went to meet them, ordering us, at the same time, to keep our arms ready in case of treachery. The savages were very dark. Some of them, whom, we took to be chiefs, wore turbans over their frizzled-out hair, and mantles and kilts of native cloth. They shook hands with Mr Brand in a very friendly way, and invited us all to their houses; but he replied that he preferred building a house where we had landed, though he would be obliged to them for a supply of food. The natives replied very politely that the food we should have, and that they hoped we should change our minds regarding the place where we proposed building a house.

After some further conversation the chiefs and their followers retired, and Mr Brand advised all hands to set to work to fortify the hill where we were posted, and to bring up the greater part of the raft, and everything on it, to our fort. When this was done, we made a small raft on which we could go off to the wreck, hoping to bring away everything of value before she went to pieces. The natives watched our proceedings from a distance, but our fire-arms evidently kept them in awe, and prevented them from coming nearer. As soon as they had completed the raft, three of the whaler’s crew were eager to go off to the wreck; but Mr Brand advised them to wait till just before daylight the following morning, when they might hope to perform the trip without being perceived. He warned them that the savages were especially treacherous, and could in no way be depended on. Five or six of them, I think it was, laughed at him, and asking why they should fear a set of black savages, expressed their intention of going on board at once. Accordingly, carrying only a couple of muskets with them, they shoved off from the shore, and without much difficulty got up to the wreck. It was then low-water, but the tide was rising. We watched them on board, and then they disappeared below. We waited anxiously to see them commence their return, but they did not appear. “They have broken into the spirit-room, I fear,” remarked Cousin Silas. “If so, I fear that they will be little able to find their way back.” An hour passed away. We began to fear some disaster had befallen them. While watching the wreck, we saw from behind a wooded point to the right a large canoe make its appearance, then another, and another, till a dozen were collected. It was too probable that some treachery was intended. We fired three muskets in quick succession, in hopes of calling the attention of the seamen. No sooner did the savages hear the sound of the fire-arms than they paddled away towards the wreck. They had got nearly up to it, when the seamen came on deck, and stared wildly around them, making all sorts of frantic gestures. Seeing the canoes, they fired their muskets at them, but hit no one; and then, throwing down their weapons on the deck, they doubled their fists, and with shouts of laughter struck out at their approaching enemies. The savages hesitated a moment at the discharge of the muskets, but finding that they were not again fired at, they paddled on at a rapid rate, and getting alongside the vessel, swarmed in numbers on board. We saw that the tipsy seamen who made a show of fighting were speedily knocked down, but what afterwards became of them we could not tell. The savages were evidently eagerly engaged in plundering the ship, and hurriedly loaded their canoes with the things they collected. They, of course, knew that the tide was rising, and that their operations might be speedily stopped. Some of the canoes, deeply laden, had already shoved off, when we saw the remainder of the savages make a rush to the side of the vessel; bright flames burst forth from every hatchway; several loud reports were heard; then one louder than the rest, and the ill-fated ship, and all who remained on board, were blown into the air!

Chapter Twenty.

Our escape from the island.

After the catastrophe I have described, the ship continued to burn furiously—the oil in her hold helping to feed the conflagration. The savages who were already in their canoes paddled rapidly away; many must have lost their lives, as several canoes appear to have been destroyed. Numbers of the unfortunate wretches, wounded by the explosion, were swimming about, trying to get hold of their canoes or of pieces of the wreck; while others, who had escaped injury, were making for the shore. But they had watchful enemies in the sea looking for them; the water swarmed with sharks, and several, unable to defend themselves, were caught by the voracious monsters. What became of our poor countrymen—whether they were blown up with the ship or carried off by the savages—we could not tell.

By this accident our numbers were sadly diminished, as was our hope of obtaining what we might require from the wreck. Cousin Silas took occasion to urge upon the remainder of the men the importance of keeping together for mutual support; but, from the way the whaler’s crew took his advice, I saw that they were in no way inclined to follow it. It was with difficulty even that he could persuade them to keep watch at night. That was a trying period with us. Cousin Silas and I, with two of the crew kept our watch; and Ben, and the doctor, and Jerry, with two others, watched the rest of the night. We kept our ears and eyes wide open, and fancied that we could see under the shadow of the trees the savages prowling about us, and could hear their suppressed whispers; but if such was the case, when they found that we were on the alert, they refrained from attacking us.

That first night the captain awoke from his stupor, and, sitting up, inquired what had occurred. When he was told, somewhat abruptly, by one of his crew that the ship was cast away, that the mates and several of the men were lost, and that we were surrounded by savages ready to destroy us, the account had so great an effect on him that it seemed to drive him out of his mind. He shrieked out, “It is false! it is false—mutiny! mutiny!” and continued to rave in the most outrageous and dreadful manner. Thus he continued for many hours. The doctor said he was attacked with delirium tremens, brought on by his intemperate habits; and thus he continued, without being allowed a moment of consciousness to be aware of his awful state, till he was summoned hence to stand before the Almighty Judge, whose laws, to the last moment of his earthly probation, he had systematically outraged. We buried him just outside our fort, at night, that the savages might not observe that our number was still further reduced.

Three or four days passed away. Both night and day we were equally on the alert, but the stock of provisions we had brought with us from the wreck was growing very low, and it was necessary to devise some plan for obtaining more. The savages, on the other hand, finding that they could not easily surprise us, changed their tactics, and once more came towards us in friendly guise, bringing fruits and vegetables, and pigs and poultry. Had they been aware of our starving condition, they could not have hit upon a better plan to win our confidence. Still, however, Cousin Silas did not trust to them.

“They may really be friendly,” he remarked, “and let us behave towards them as if they were; but never let us for a moment be off our guard.” When, however, the natives began to spread out their banquet before the very eyes of the famished sailors, and invited them to come down and partake of it, very few could resist the temptation. One after another went down, till only the doctor and Ben, Jerry and I, with Cousin Silas, remained on the hill. Even old Surley thought he might as well join the party, but after he had gobbled up a good supply of pork, which some of the sailors gave him, he hurried back to us. We watched anxiously what would next happen. In a short time Jerry exclaimed that he thought it was a pity we should not benefit by the feast, and before Cousin Silas could stop him he had run down the hill and was among the savages. At that moment, what was our horror to see the natives start up, each dealing the white man nearest him a terrific blow on the head. No second one was needed. Every one of our late companions lay killed upon the ground. Jerry started back, and endeavoured to run to us, but a savage caught him by the shoulder, and (how my blood ran cold!) I thought would brain him on the spot. Jerry looked up in his face with an imploring glance. Something he said or did, or the way he looked, seemed to arrest the savage’s arm. Perhaps he may have reminded him of a son he had lost. He lifted up his club, but this time it was to defend his young prisoner from the attack of another savage. He then took him by the hand, and led him to a distance from the rest. Jerry looked back earnestly at us, but he saw that if he attempted to escape from his protector he should probably be killed by one of the others, so he accompanied him without resistance. The rest of the savages, collecting the dead bodies, fastened ropes to their legs, and dragged them away, with loud shouts and songs of triumph. To our surprise, they did not molest us. They saw that we retained the fire-arms, and probably thought that they might take us at an advantage another time without risk to themselves. We had still a good supply of powder and balls, so, loading all the muskets, we prepared for an attack. Horrified as I had been at the slaughter of our late shipmates, my great anxiety was about Jerry. I hoped that his life might be safe, but it was a sad fate to be kept in captivity by such treacherous and bloodthirsty savages as these had showed themselves to be. I asked Mr Brand where he thought we were. He replied that he had no doubt, from the appearance and conduct of the savages, that we had been wrecked on one of the outlying Fiji Islands. He told me that the inhabitants, a few years back, had all been the very worst cannibals in the Pacific, but that of late years Protestant missionaries had gone among them, and that in some of the islands, of which there were eighty or ninety inhabited, the whole population had, he understood, become Christians. Still, however, a large number, among whom the light of truth had not been introduced, retained their old habits and customs; and among some of these we had unfortunately fallen. Of course, also, we could not but be excessively anxious about our own fate. How could we hope to hold out without food, should the savages attack us? The night passed away, however, in silence. Our enemies were evidently abiding their time.

It was just daybreak when Ben Yool started up. “I can’t stand it any longer,” he exclaimed. “I’ll just go and see if those savages left any of their provisions behind them.” Without waking Mr Brand to know what he would say, off he went down the hill. How anxiously I waited his return! I was afraid that some of the savages might be lying in wait, and might catch him. My ear watched for the sound of his footsteps. Five—ten minutes—a quarter of an hour passed away. At last I thought I heard the breathing of a person toiling up a hill. It might be a savage, though. I kept my rifle ready, in case it should prove an enemy. To my great satisfaction it proved to be Ben. He came loaded with bread-fruits and cocoa-nuts, and what was undoubtedly the hind quarters of a pig, while a calabash full of water hung round his neck. “I was afraid that I should have to come back without anything for my trouble,” said he. “Just then, under a tree, I stumbled over these provisions. How they came there I don’t know, but there they are and let us be thankful.”

We roused up Mr Brand and the doctor. They carefully examined the provisions, and agreed that they were very good of their sort, so we set to, and made a very hearty breakfast. From the place where Ben found the food, Mr Brand was of opinion that it had been left there expressly for us, but whether by a friend or by our enemies, for the purpose of entrapping us, it was difficult to say.

The day, as it advanced, threatened to be very stormy. The clouds came driving across the sky, and a gale began to blow, such as is rarely seen in those latitudes. It gave us rest, however, for the natives are not fond of venturing out in such weather, and we had less fear of being attacked. During the night we were aroused by hearing a gun fired. We peered out seaward through the darkness; another gun was heard, and a flash was seen. It was evidently from a vessel in distress. It was just before daybreak. The dawn came and revealed to us a schooner, with all her canvas gone, drifting towards the breakers, which rolled in with terrific power, a quarter of a mile from the shore. We gazed at the vessel; we all knew her at a glance, even through the gloom. She was the pirate schooner. On she drove. In another instant she was among the foaming breakers. Her time had come at last. We could hear the shrieks and despairing cries of the wretched men on board. She struck very near the spot where the whaler had been lost. Over the reef she drove. We could see the people one after the other washed overboard, and engulfed by the foaming waters. To help them would have been impossible, even had we not had to consider our own safety. At last one man appeared in the clear water inside the breakers. He seemed to be swimming, though he advanced but slowly, and we saw that he was lashed to a piece of timber. At last he drifted on shore.

“I cannot see the poor wretch die without help, pirate though he may be,” exclaimed Cousin Silas, running down to the beach. I followed him. The log of timber and its freight reached the shore at the moment we got down to it. There was no look of recognition. We ran into the water, and cast loose the body; but our undertaking had been useless. A corpse lay before us; and though the features were distorted, we recognised them as those of Captain Bruno. We had just time to hurry back to our fort, when we saw a body of savages coming round a point at a little distance off.

The schooner had, in the meantime, beaten over the reef, and was drifting across the channel, when, as she got within a hundred yards of the beach, she went down, leaving a dozen or more of her crew floating on the surface. Most of them struck out boldly for the shore; but no sooner did they reach it, believing themselves safe, than the clubs of the savages put an end to their existence. In a short time not one remained alive of the whole pirate crew. It seemed strange that the savages had allowed so long a time to elapse without attacking us, nor could we in any way account for their conduct, unless under the supposition that they were afraid of our fire-arms. To show them that our weapons were in good order, and that we were likely to use them effectually, we every now and then, when we saw any of the natives near, fired a volley in the air.

When we had gone down on the beach, on the occasion of the wreck of the schooner, we observed a canoe thrown upon the shore. She was evidently one of those deserted by the savages when the whaler blew up. We agreed that, if we could get her repaired, she might prove the means of our escape. The first thing was to cut some paddles. This we had no great difficulty in doing, from the trees growing around us. Watching their opportunity, when no savages were near, Mr Brand and Ben went down to examine her. On their return they reported that she was perfectly sound, and required little or nothing done to her. It was a question with us, however, whether we should commit ourselves to the deep at once, and endeavour to reach some more hospitable island, or wait for the possibility of a ship passing that way, and going off to her.

We had scarcely consumed our provisions, when at daybreak one morning we observed a basket under the very tree where Ben had before discovered what he brought us. He again went down, and returned with a similar supply. We considered this matter, and could not believe that any treachery was intended, but, on the contrary, we began to hope that we had some secret friend among the savages. Who he was, and how he came to take an interest in us, was the question. Several days more passed away. Each alternate night provisions were left for us. At length I resolved to endeavour to discover our friend. My great object was that I might be able by this means to gain tidings of Jerry, and perhaps to rescue him from the hands of his captors, for I continued to hope that he had not been put to death. I explained my plan to Mr Brand. After some hesitation, he consented to allow me to adopt it. “I feel with you, Harry, that I could never bring myself to leave the island without Jerry,” he answered; “and probably the savages, should they catch you, would be less likely to injure you than any of us.”

That night, soon after it was dark, I crept down to the tree, and concealing myself among some bushes which grew near, waited the result. I felt very sleepy, and could at times scarcely keep myself awake. At last I heard footsteps, as if a person were cautiously approaching the tree. A man dressed, as far as I could distinguish, like a chief, with a turban on his head, deposited a basket in the usual spot. I sprang out and seized his hand. At first he seemed much surprised, if not alarmed; but, recognising me, he patted me on the head, and uttered some words in a low voice, which I could not understand, but their tone was mild and kind. Then he put out his hand, and I distinctly felt him make the sign of the cross on my brow, and then he made it on his own. I no longer had any doubt that he was a Christian. I longed to ask him about Jerry, but I found that he did not understand a word of English. It was so dark, also, that he could scarcely see my gestures. I tried every expedient to make him comprehend my meaning. I ran on, and then seized an imaginary person, and conducted him back to the fort. I raised my hands in a supplicating attitude. I shook his hands warmly, to show how grateful I should be if he granted my request. At last I began to hope that he understood me. He shook my hands and nodded, and then, assisting me to carry the basket close up to the fort, hurriedly left me.

This circumstance considerably raised the spirits of all the party, for we felt that we had a friend where we least expected to find one. If, however, we could but get back Jerry, we resolved to embark. Perhaps the Christian chief might help us. Had we been able to speak the language, our difficulties would have been much lessened. Here, again, we had another example of the beneficial results of missionary labours. How the chief had been brought to a knowledge of the truth we could not tell, but that his savage nature had been changed was evident. Perhaps there might be others like him on the island. How it was that we had remained so long unmolested was another puzzle. Perhaps it was owing to some superstitious custom of the natives, Mr Brand observed. Perhaps we were tabooed; or, as we had, as they might suppose, existed so long without food, they might look upon us as beings of a superior order, and be afraid to injure us. Our patience, meantime, was sorely tried. We were afraid also that the natives might discover our canoe, and carry it off.

As may be supposed, our eyes took many an anxious glance seaward, in hopes of being greeted by the sight of a vessel. Nor were they disappointed. A large ship was discovered one forenoon standing in for the land. How the sight made our hearts beat! The time had arrived for us to endeavour to make our escape—but could we go and leave Jerry?

“Yes; we may induce the captain to come and look for him,” said Cousin Silas.

“But suppose he will not,” observed the doctor.

“Then I, for one, will come back in the canoe, and not rest till I find him,” exclaimed Ben Yool. “They can only kill and eat me at the worst, and they’ll find I’m a precious tough morsel.”

“I’ll keep you company, Ben,” said I, taking his hand.

So it was agreed that we were to embark at once. Taking our rifles and muskets, the paddles in our hands, and some provisions in our pockets, we hurried down to the beach. We had got the canoe in the water, when a shout attracted our attention. Old Surley gave a bark of delight, and ran off. “That is Jerry’s voice,” I exclaimed, hurrying to meet him. At a distance were several men and boys in hot pursuit. Jerry was somewhat out of breath, so I took his hand and helped him along, without asking questions. He, Surley, and I, leaped into the canoe together; Mr Brand, Ben, and the doctor seized the paddles, and shoving her off into deep water, away we steered towards the passage through the reef. Scarcely had we got a couple of hundred yards off before the savages reached the shore. They instantly fitted their arrows to their bows; but I, seizing my rifle, made signs that if they let fly I would fire in return. They understood the hint, and ran off along the beach to a spot where a number of their canoes were hauled up. The leading one, with only three men in her, came dashing close after us through the surf. One held his bow ready to shoot, the rest had placed their weapons at the bottom. The other canoes contained more savages, and followed close after their leader. This made us redouble our efforts to escape. We darted through the passage just as a dozen canoes or more left the shore. We had a terribly short start of them, and they paddled nearly twice as fast as we could.

“Shall I fire and give notice to the ship?” I asked Mr Brand. I was sitting in the bow of the canoe facing forward.

“Yes, yes, Harry, fire,” he answered. “They will hear us on board by this time.” I took one of the muskets and fired in the air. Directly after, we saw the ship crowding more sail, and standing directly for us.

“I thought so all along, and now I’m certain of it,” exclaimed Ben, almost jumping up in his seat. “I know that starboard topmast studden-sail, and no mistake. She’s the Triton! Hurrah! hurrah!”

“You’re right, Ben,” said Mr Brand. “I felt sure also that she was the Triton, but still was afraid my hopes might have in some way have deceived me. But give way, give way, or the savages will be up to us before we are alongside her.” The caution was not unnecessary, for the canoes of the savages had already got within range of our rifles.

“Couldn’t you bring down a few of the niggers, sir?” asked Ben. “It will only serve them right, and mayhap will stop their way a little.”

“No, no; never shed blood as long as it can be avoided,” answered Cousin Silas. “These very savages who are now seeking our lives may ere long be shown the light of truth, and be converted and live. See, I believe they have already made us out on board the Triton. They are firing to frighten off the savages.”

As he spoke, three guns were fired in quick succession from the Triton. The noise and smoke, to which the savages were evidently unaccustomed, made them desist paddling. We redoubled our efforts, and shot ahead. After a little hesitation, the savages once more pressed on after us, but happily at that moment the ship again fired. Mr Brand at the same time seized the muskets and discharged them one after the other over the heads of our pursuers. Again they wavered, some even turned their canoes about, two or three only advanced slowly, the rest ceased paddling altogether. This gave us a great advantage, and without waiting to let Mr Brand reload the muskets, we paddled away with our hopes of escape much increased. Some minutes elapsed, when the courage of the savages returned, and fearing that we might altogether escape them, they all united in the pursuit. The breeze, however, freshened, the ship rapidly clove the waters, and before the canoes had regained the distance they had lost, we were alongside. Loud shouts of welcome broke from every quarter of the Triton as we clambered up her side.

I will not attempt to describe the meeting of Jerry and his father. Captain Frankland, indeed, received us all most kindly and heartily. For a long time he had given us up as lost, but still he had continued the search for us. The Dove had been captured by the American corvette, and soon afterwards he had fallen in with her. From the pirates on board the little schooner he discovered that we were on board the large one. He had pursued her for several months, till at length, passing our island, he had observed our flag-staff and our hut still standing. This was, fortunately, after our second visit, when we had altered the inscriptions on the trees. The gale which had wrecked the pirate had driven the Triton somewhat to the southward of her course for the Bonins, whither she was bound to look for us; and thus, by a wonderful coincidence, she appeared at the very moment her coming was of most importance to rescue us from slavery, if not, more probably, from a horrible death.

The savages, when they saw that we were safe on board the ship, finally ceased from the pursuit. Captain Frankland kept the ship steadily on her course, ordering five or six guns to be fired without shot over their heads, as a sign of the white man’s displeasure. After the first gun, the savages turned round their canoes, and, in terror and dismay, made the best of their way to the shore. The Triton was then steered for the coast of Japan.

It was not till some days afterwards that Jerry gave me an account of what had befallen him among the savages. “I was in a horrible fright when the savage dragged me off,” he said. “I thought that he was keeping me to kill at his leisure, just as a housewife does a pig or a turkey, when he wanted to eat me. I cannot even now describe the dreadful scenes I witnessed when the cannibal monsters cooked and devoured the poor fellows they had so treacherously slaughtered. What was my dismay, also, when a few days afterwards some more bodies of white men were brought in! I thought that they had killed you all; and it was only when I found that there were ten instead of five bodies, that I hoped I might have been mistaken.

“The man who had captured me treated me kindly, and fed me well. At first I thought he might have had his reasons (and very unsatisfactory they would have been to me) for doing the latter; but this idea I banished (as it was not a pleasant fine, and took away my appetite) when I found that he did not partake of the horrible banquets with his countrymen. He was constantly visited also in the evening by a chief, who evidently looked on them with disgust, and always looked at me most kindly, and spoke to me in the kindest tones, though I could not understand what he said. One evening, after he and my master had been talking some time, he got up and made the sign of the cross on my brow, and then on his own, and then on that of my master. Then I guessed that I must have fallen among Christians, and that this was the reason I was treated so kindly. I understood also by the signs he made that you all were well, and that he would do his best to protect you.

“One day he came and told me to follow him into the woods. My master’s hut was some way from the other habitations, so that we could go out without of necessity being observed. It was, however, necessary to be cautious. What was my delight when he took me to a height, and showing me a vessel in the distance, pointed to the fort, and signed to me to run and join you as fast as I could! You know all the rest.”

Jerry at different times afterwards gave me very interesting accounts of various things he had observed among the savages of the Fijis, but I have not now space to repeat them.

How delightful it was to find ourselves once more on board the fine steady old ship, with a well-disciplined crew, and kind, considerate officers! Our sufferings and trials had taught us to appreciate these advantages: and I believe both Jerry and I were grateful for our preservation, and for the blessings we now enjoyed.

We had a very quick and fine run till we were in the latitude of Loo-Choo. A gale then sprung up—rather unusual, I believe, at that season of the year. It lasted two days. When the weather cleared, we saw a huge, lumbering thing tumbling about at the distance of three or four miles from us. It looked, as Fleming the gunner remarked, “like a Martello tower adrift.”

“If you’d said she was one of those outlandish Chinese junk affairs, you’d have been nearer the truth,” observed Mr Pincott the carpenter, who, as of old, never lost an opportunity of taking up his friend. “By the way she rolls, I don’t think she’ll remain above water much longer.”

Captain Frankland thought the same, and making sail we stood towards her. By that time she was evidently settling down. The ship was hove-to, the boats were lowered, and, in spite of a good deal of sea which then was on, we ran alongside. A number of strange-looking figures in coloured silks and cottons, dressed more like women than men, crowded the side. Some leaped into the water in their fright; others we received into the boats, and conveyed them to the ship. Two trips had been made, when Mr Pincott, who was in the boat with me, said he did not think she would float till we came back. At that moment a person appeared at the stern of the vessel handsomely dressed. He was a fine-looking old gentleman. He must have seen his danger, and he seemed to be bidding his countrymen farewell. I could not bear the thought of leaving him; so I begged Mr Pincott to pull back, and signing him to descend by one of the rope-ladders hanging over the stern, we received him safely into the boat. Scarcely had we done so, when the junk gave a heavy lurch. “There she goes, poor thing!” exclaimed Pincott. “Well, she didn’t look as if she was made to swim. But pull away, my lads—pull away. We may be back in time to pick up some of the poor fellows.” It was heartrending to see the poor wretches struggling in the water, and holding out their hands imploringly to us, and yet not be able to help them. Many very soon sunk; others got hold of gratings and bits of wreck, and endeavoured to keep themselves afloat, but some of those monsters of the deep—the sharks—got in among them, and very soon committed horrible havoc among the survivors. The moment we were able to get the people we had in the boat up the ship’s side we returned to the scene of the catastrophe. We pulled about as rapidly as we could, hauling in all we could get hold of still swimming about, but some were drawn down even before our very eyes, and altogether a good many must have been lost.

The old gentleman I had been the means of saving proved to be the chief person on board. We made out that the junk was from Loo-Choo, but that he himself belonged to some town in Japan. This we discovered by showing him a map, and from the very significant signs he made. While we were making all sorts of pantomimic gestures, Mr Renshaw suggested that a lad we had on board, supposed to be a Chinese, might perhaps be able to talk with him. Chin Chi had been picked up from a wreck at sea on a former voyage of the Triton, and had now made some progress in his knowledge of English. Chin Chi was brought aft with some reluctance. What, however, was our astonishment to see the old gentleman gaze at him earnestly for some minutes; they exchanged a few words; then they proved that Japanese nature was very like English nature, for, rushing forward, they threw themselves into each other’s arms—the father had found a long-lost son!

The son had been seized, like many of his countrymen, with a desire to see the civilised world, of which, in spite of the exclusive system of his government, he had heard, and had stolen off, and got on board a ship which was afterwards wrecked, he being the only survivor. Poor fellow, he had seen but a very rugged part of the world during his visit to England, in the Liverpool docks and similar localities. He told his father, however, how well he had been treated on board the Triton; and the old gentleman, on hearing this, endeavoured to express his gratitude by every means in his power.

Two days after this we found ourselves anchored off the harbour of Napha, in Great Loo-Choo. In a short time a boat came off from the shore bearing two venerable old gentlemen with long beards and flowing robes of blue and yellow, gathered in at the waist with sashes, and almost hiding their white sandalled feet. On their heads they wore yellow caps, something like the Turkish fez in shape, and fastened under their chins with strings, like a baby’s nightcap. Bowing with their noses to the planks as they reached the deck, they presented red visiting cards, three feet in length, and inquired what circumstance had brought the ship to their island. Great was their astonishment when our old friend Hatchie Katsie presented himself, and said that we had come to land him and his son, who had been shipwrecked. He had come to give notice of the loss of the junk, but that he purposed proceeding on in the ship to Japan.

His first care was to send on shore for proper clothes for Chin Chi, who looked a very different person when dressed in bright-coloured robes and a gay cap. He had got a similar dress for Jerry and me. He told Captain Frankland that he could not venture to invite him on shore, but that, as we were mere boys, he might take us under his escort.

Highly delighted, we accordingly pulled on shore. We found conveyances waiting for us, kagos they were called. They were the funniest little machines I ever saw—a sort of litter; suppose a box open in front and the sides, with a low seat inside, and the lid shut down. Even Jerry and I, though not very big, had great difficulty in coiling ourselves away in ours; and how our portly old friend contrived it, was indeed a puzzle. We had to sit cross-legged, with our arms folded and our backs bent double, and were borne jogging along by two native porters, our heads every now and then bumping up against the roof, till we couldn’t help laughing and shouting out to each other to ascertain if our skulls were cracked. I suppose the natives have a mode of glueing themselves down to the seats.

We passed over several well-made bridges, and along a paved causeway, having on either side a succession of beautiful gardens and fertile rice-fields, while before us rose a hill covered with trees, out of which peeped a number of very pretty-looking villas. When we reached the top of the hill we had a fine view over a large portion of the island—several towns and numerous villages were seen, with country-houses and farms scattered about. Altogether, we formed a very favourable opinion of the island and the advanced state of civilisation among the people of Loo-Choo.

The house to which our friend took us was built of wood, and covered with earthen tiles. It had bamboo verandas, and a court-yard in front surrounded by a wall of coral. The interior was plain and neat,—the rafters appearing overhead were painted red, and the floor was covered with matting. The owner of the house, an old gentleman very like Hatchie Katsie, received us very courteously, and after we had sat some time, ordered food to be brought in. Some long-robed attendants prepared a table in the chief hall, on which they placed a number of dishes, containing red slices of eggs and cucumber, boiled fish and mustard, fried beef, bits of hog’s liver, and a variety of other similar dainties, at which we picked away without much consideration, but which might have been bits of dogs, cats, or rats, for aught I knew to the contrary. The people of Loo-Choo must be very abstemious if we judge from the size of their drinking cups—no larger than thimbles! The liquor they drank, called sakee, is distilled from rice.

We only spent two days on shore, so that I cannot pretend to know much of the country. From its elevation, and being constantly exposed to the sea-breezes, it must be very healthy. It is also very fertile. All the agricultural instruments we saw were rude. The plough was of the old Roman model, with an iron point. One of the chief productions of the island is rice, and as for it a constant supply of water is required, there is a very extensive system of irrigation. To prepare it for cultivation, the land is first overflowed, and the labourer hoes, and ploughs, and harrows, while he stands knee deep in mud and water. It is first grown in plots and then transplanted. The banyan-tree is very abundant, and so is the bamboo, which supplies them with food, lodging, and clothing, besides, from its stately growth, forming a delightful shade to their villages. The sugar-cane is grown, and much sugar is made from it. The islands are of coral formation, but, from some mighty convulsion of nature, the rock on which the coral was placed has been upheaved, and now in many places appears above it. The sketch I introduce will afford a better notion of the country-scenery in Loo-Choo than any mere verbal account which I could give.

The people of Loo-Choo are well formed, and the men have full black beards, and their hair being well oiled is gathered to the back of the head, and fastened with a gold, silver, or brass pin, according to the rank of the wearer. Their dress is a loose robe with wide sleeves, gathered round the waist with a girdle, in which they carry their tobacco pouch and pipe. The upper classes wear a white stocking, and when they go out they put on a straw sandal secured to the foot by a band passing between the great toe and the next to it, as worn by the Romans. The peasants go bareheaded and barefooted, and wear only a coarse cotton shirt. Their cottages also are generally thatched with rice straw, and surrounded by a palisade of bamboos. The furniture is of the simplest description. It consists of a thick mat spread on the plank floor, on which the people sit cross-legged; a table, a few stools, and a teapot, with some cups, and a few mugs and saucers. Their food is chiefly rice and sweet potatoes, animal food being only used by the upper classes. The upper ranks use a variety of soups, sweetmeats, and cooked and raw vegetables. They are a hard-working people, though they have their festivals and days of relaxation, when, in open spaces between the trees, they indulge in their favourite foot-ball and other athletic sports.

I think what I have given is about the full amount of the information I obtained. One thing I must observe, that although they are now sunk in a senseless idolatry, from the mildness of their dispositions, and their intelligent and inquiring minds, I believe that if Christianity were presented to them in its rightfully attractive form, they would speedily and gladly embrace the truth.

As our friend Hatchie Katsie was anxious to return to Japan, Captain Frankland very gladly undertook to convey him there. He and Chin Chi, accordingly, once more embarked with us on board the Triton.

Chapter Twenty One.

Our voyage to Japan.

Our friend Hatchie Katsie belonged to the commercial town of Hakodadi, situated in the Straits of Saugar, on the south end of the Japanese island of Yesso, and before it we found ourselves one bright morning brought up. The harbour was full of junks of all sizes, coming and going, proving that a brisk trade must be carried on there. The town seemed of considerable extent, stretching along the sea-shore for a mile or more, while many of the streets ran up the sides of a lofty promontory, at the base of which it stands. The mountains rise directly behind to an elevation of a thousand feet, their bare summits often being covered with snow. The slopes are clothed with underwood, while on the plain below wide-spreading cypresses, maples, plum and peach trees grow in rich profusion. Altogether the scene is a very picturesque and beautiful one. From numerous stone quarries the Japanese have supplied themselves with an abundance of building materials. The appearance of the town, with its well-constructed sea walls, bridges, and dikes, showed us that the Japanese must be a very industrious people, and that they have made considerable advance in civilisation.

One of the first things which struck us was a Japanese boat which came alongside, both from her model and the neat way in which she was put together. Her bows were very sharp, she had great beam, and she tapered slightly towards the stern. She was built of pine wood, and varnished without any paint. Her crew, almost naked, stood aft, and sculled her along instead of rowing, at a very great rate. The official personages she brought off sat in the fore-part; one of them, armed with two swords, a mark of rank, stood in the bows, and made a very good figure-head. We should probably have had to take our departure without holding any communication with the shore, so anxious were the Japanese government to prevent any communication of the people with foreigners, when Hatchie Katsie made his appearance on deck. The account he gave his countrymen soon changed the aspect of affairs, and we were told that the governor of the place would no doubt make an exception in our favour.

Our friend having procured Japanese clothes for us, as he had done at Loo-Choo, told us that he might venture to take us on shore and show us something of the mode of life among his countrymen. I have no doubt that Chin Chi considered it far superior to that of the English, as far as he was able to judge of them. The Japanese gentlemen were, generally, finer men than those of Loo-Choo. Their dress also was different. One of the chief people in the place, if he was not the governor, wore a gaily-coloured robe of rich silk, with the back, sleeves, and breast, covered with armorial bearings. He wore a very short pair of trousers, with black socks and straw slippers. His hat, something like a reversed bowl, shone with lacquer and ornaments of gold. I must say, however, that Europeans have no right to quiz the head covering of any nation in the world, as ours far surpass all others in ugliness, and in the want of adaptation of means to an end.

Our friend could not take us publicly into the town, so he had us conveyed to his country-house in kagos, such as were used at Loo-Choo. On every side, as we passed along, the people were busily employed; some were lading their packhorses with bags of meal, others with heavy mallets were pounding grain into flour, while others were hoeing in the rice grounds up to their knees in water. There was no sign of poverty, and even the lowest people were well and comfortably clad in coarse garments, shorter than those of the more wealthy classes. All wear the hair drawn up and fastened at the top in a knot. In rainy weather they wear cloaks made of straw, so that a person looks like a thatched roof. The same sort of garments, I hear, are used by the Portuguese peasantry. The upper classes cover their robes with a waterproof cloak of oiled-paper. All, like the Chinese, use the umbrella as a guard from the sun and rain.

The streets are thoroughly drained, for not only are there surface gutters, but deep drains which carry all the filth into the sea. Here, again, they are in advance of many civilised people. Some of the best houses are built of stone, but they are usually constructed of a framework of bamboo and laths, which is covered with plaster painted black and white in diagonal lines. The roofs are composed of black and white tiles; the eaves extending low down to protect the interior from the sun, and the oiled-paper windows from the rain. They are, generally, of but one story. Some of the residences stand back from the street with a court-yard before them, and have gardens behind. The fronts of the shops have movable shutters, and behind these are sliding panels of oiled-paper or lattices of bamboo, to secure privacy when required. In the interior of the houses is a framework raised two feet from the ground, divided by sliding panels into several compartments, and spread with stuffed mats; it is the guest, dining, and sleeping-room of private houses, and the usual workshop of handicraftsmen—a house within a house. When a nobleman travelling stops at a lodging-house, his banner is conspicuously displayed outside, while the names of inferior guests are fastened to the door-posts. The doctor made a capital sketch of a scene we saw when looking into the interior of a Japanese house—a servant apparently feeding two children.

A Japanese has only one wife, consequently women stand far higher in the social scale than among other Eastern people. They have evening parties, when tea is handed round; and the guests amuse themselves with music and cards. Japanese ladies have an ugly custom of dyeing their teeth black, by a process which at the same time destroys the gums. The more wealthy people have suburban villas, the gardens of which are surrounded by a wall, and laid out in the Chinese style, with fish-ponds, containing gold and silver fish, bridges, pagoda-shaped summer-houses and chapels, beds of gay-coloured flowers, and dwarf fruit-trees.

A large portion of the people profess the Buddhist religion. We visited a large temple at Hakodadi, full sixty feet high. The tiled roof is supported on an arrangement of girders, posts, and tie-beams, resting upon large lacquered pillars. The ornaments in the interior, consisting of dragons, phoenixes, cranes, tortoises, all connected with the worship of Buddha, are elaborately carved and richly gilt. There are three shrines, each containing an image, and the raised floor is thickly covered with mats. We were shown a curious praying machine covered with inscriptions. At about the height easily reached by a person was a wheel with three spokes, and on each spoke a ring: turning the wheel once round is considered equivalent to saying a prayer, and the jingle of the ring is supposed to call the attention of the divinity to the presence of the person paying his devotions. The Sintoo worship is practised also among the Japanese, but its temples are less resorted to than those of Buddha.

We saw a number of junks building. In shape they were like the Chinese, but none were more than a hundred tons burden. Canvas instead of bamboo is used for sails.

The Japanese are decidedly a literary people. All classes can read and write; and works of light reading appear from their presses almost with the same rapidity that they do with us. They print from wooden blocks, and have wooden type. They have also long been accustomed to print in colours. The paper they employ is manufactured from the bark of the mulberry, but is so thin that only one side can be used. They have sorts of games, some like our chess, and cards, and lotto, and we saw the lads in the streets playing ball very much as boys do in an English country village.

As we did not go to the capital, I cannot describe it. We understood that there are two emperors of Japan—one acts as the civil governor, and the other as the head of all ecclesiastical affairs, a sort of pope or patriarch. The laws are very strict, especially with regard to all communication with foreigners. If a person of rank transgresses them and he is discovered, notice is sent to him, and he instantly cuts himself open with his sword, and thus prevents the confiscation of his property. The people exhibit an extraordinary mixture of civilisation and barbarism; the latter being the result of their gross superstitious faith, and their seclusion from the rest of the world; the former shows how acute and ingenious must be their minds to triumph over such difficulties.

Our friend Hatchie Katsie accompanied us to the shore when we embarked. Chin Chi parted with us most unwillingly. He longed to see more of the wonders of the world; but even had his father been ready to let him go, we could not have ventured to carry him away publicly in opposition to the laws of the country.

Once more we were at sea. “Homeward! homeward!” was the cry; but we had still a long way to sail and many places to visit before we could get there. Steering south, we came to an anchor before the city of Manilla, the capital of the Philippine Islands, the largest of which is Lujon. They belong to Spain, having been taken possession of in 1565. They are inhabited by a variety of savage tribes, most of whom have been converted by their conquerors to the Roman Catholic faith. The capital stands on a low plain near a large lake, which has numerous branches, now converted into canals. Hills rise in the distance, and behind them ranges of lofty mountains, clothed to their summits with luxuriant vegetation. The number of Europeans is very small compared to that of the half-castes and aborigines. There are said to be forty thousand of those industrious people, the Chinese, who appear now to be finding their way into every country on the shores of the Pacific where employment can be procured. The largest manufactory at Manilla is that of cigars. The city appeared to be in a somewhat dilapidated condition, the churches and public buildings, especially, were fast falling into decay.

We, as usual, were fortunate, and got a trip, through the kindness of an English merchant, up the lake and a good way into the interior, when we could not help wondering at the magnificent display of tropical vegetation which we beheld. We also saw three of the most ferocious animals of the country. Scarcely had we landed when, as with our friend and several Indian attendants we were proceeding along the hanks of the stream, our friend wished to send a message to a cottage on the opposite side to desire the attendance of the master as a guide. There was a ford near, but the Indian who was told to go said he would swim his horse across.

“Take care of the cayman,” was the warning given by all.

“Oh, I care not for caymans; I would fight with a dozen of them!” was the answer given, we were told.

The lake and rivers running into it abound with these savage monsters, a species of alligator or crocodile. The man forced his horse into the stream and swam on some way. Suddenly we were startled with the cry of “A cayman! a cayman! Take care, man!” The Indian threw himself from his horse and swam boldly to the bank, leaving his poor steed to become the prey of the monster. The cayman made directly for the horse, and seized him with his huge jaws by the body. The poor steed’s shriek of agony sounded in our ears, but fortunately for him the saddle-girth gave way, and he struggled free, leaving the tough leather alone in the brute’s mouth, and swam off to shore. The cayman, not liking the morsel, looked about for something more to his taste.

The Indian had reached the bank, but instead of getting out of the water, he stood in a shallow place behind a tree, and, drawing his sword, declared that he was ready to fight the cayman. The monster open-mouthed made at him; but the man in his folly struck at its head. He might as well have tried to cut through a suit of ancient armour. The next instant, to our horror, the cayman had him shrieking in his jaws, and with his writhing body disappeared beneath the surface of the stream!

After this our journey was enlivened by all sorts of horrible accounts of adventures with caymans, till we neared the spot where we expected to find some buffaloes. As we rode along we heard an extraordinary cry. “It is a wild boar,” exclaimed our friend; “but I suspect a boa has got hold of him—a great bore for him, I suspect.” We rode to the spot whence the sound came. There, sure enough, suspended from the low branch of a tree was a huge boa-constrictor, some twenty feet long, perhaps, which had just enclosed a wild pig in its monstrous folds. While we looked he descended, and lubricating the animal with the saliva from his mouth, and placing himself before it, took the snout in his jaws and began to suck it in. We had not time to wait, as our friend told us it would take a couple of hours before he got the morsel into his stomach. This process is performed by wonderful muscular action and power of distension.

In half an hour we reached a plain bordered by a forest. “Here we shall find buffaloes in abundance,” exclaimed our friend; “but, my lads, be cautious; keep behind me, and watch my movements, or you may be seriously injured, or lose your lives. Buffalo-hunting is no child’s play, remember.” We had with us a number of Indians on horseback armed with rifles, and a pack of dogs of high and low degree. Our chief hunter was a remarkably fine-looking man, a half-caste. He was dressed in something like a bull-fighter’s costume. He dismounted and approached the wood, rifle in hand. Two of the Indians threw off most of their clothes, and kept only their swords by their sides. Thus lightly clad, they were able to climb the trees to get out of harm’s way. The Indians beat the woods, and the dogs barked and yelped, till at length a huge buffalo came out to ascertain what all the noise was about. He stood pawing the ground and tossing up the grass with his horns, as if working himself into a rage, looking round that he might single out an object on which to vent his rage. Though we were at some distance, we felt the scene excessively trying. His eye soon fell on the bold huntsman, who stood rifle in hand ready to hit him on the head as he approached. If his hand trembled, if his rifle missed fire, his fate was sealed. The excitement, as I watched the result, was so great, that I could scarcely breathe. The huntsman stood like a statue, so calm and unmoved, with his eye fixed on the monstrous brute. The buffalo got within a dozen paces of him. I almost shrieked out, for I expected every moment to see the man tossed in the air, or trampled and gored to death with those formidable horns. On came the buffalo—there was a report—a cloud of smoke—and as it cleared away, he was seen with his knees bent and his head as it were ploughing the ground; yet another moment, and his huge body rolled over a lifeless mass; and the hunter advancing, placed his foot proudly between his horns, as a sign that he was the victor. Loud shouts rent the air from all the Indians, for the feat their leader had performed was no easy one, and which few are capable of accomplishing. In some parts of the island, buffaloes are taken with the lasso, as we had seen it employed in Mexico. The animal was cut up and transferred to a cart, to be carried down to the lake, by which it was to be conveyed to Manilla. Tame buffaloes are used for agricultural purposes.

The vegetable productions of the Philippines are very numerous. Rice is grown in great quantities. What is known as Manilla hemp is an article of much value. It is obtained from the fibre of a species of plantain. It, can only be exported from the port of Manilla. Indigo, coffee, sugar, cotton, and tobacco, are grown in abundance; indeed, were the resources of the islands fully developed, they would prove some of the richest in the world. But it may truly be said, that where Spaniards rule there a blight is sure to fall.

On leaving the Philippines, we sighted the coast of Borneo, and looked in at Sarawak, a province which the talent, the energy, the perseverance, and the philanthropy of Sir James Brooke, have brought from the depths of barbarism and disorder to a high state of civilisation. Those who are incapable of appreciating his noble qualities seem inclined to allow it to return to the same condition in which he found it. I heard Captain Frankland speak very strongly on the subject, and he said it would be a disgrace to England, and the most shortsighted policy, if she withdraws her support from the province, and refuses to recompense Sir James for the fortune which he has expended on it.

We next touched at Singapore, which was founded by a man of very similar character and talents to Sir James Brooke. That man was Sir Stamford Raffles, whose life is well worthy of attentive study. When, in 1819, the English took possession of the island at the end of the Malay peninsula, on which Singapore now stands, it contained but a few huts, the remnants of an old city, once the capital of the Malayan kingdom, and was then the resort of all the pirates who swarmed in the neighbouring seas. It is now a free port, resorted to by ships of all nations. It is the head-quarters of many wealthy mercantile houses, whose managers live in handsome houses facing the bay, while its working population is made up of Arabs, Malays, Chinese, and, indeed, by people from all parts of the East. Singapore is another example of what the talent and energy of one man can effect.

The next harbour in which we found ourselves was that of Port Louis in the Mauritius. The town stands at the head of the bay, and is enclosed on the east, and north, and south, by mountains rising but a short distance from the shore. The most lofty is the Pouce, which towers up 2800 feet immediately behind the town, and is a remarkable and picturesque object. The Mauritius is one of the most flourishing of England’s dependencies, and the French inhabitants seem perfectly contented with her rule, and appreciate the numerous advantages they possess from being under it. Since the abolition of slavery, coolies have been brought over to cultivate sugar, rice, tobacco, and to engage in other labours, formerly performed by the negro slaves. Port Louis is a well-built town, and has a bustling and gay appearance, from the number of traders from all parts of the East, who appear in their various and picturesque costumes. Our stay here was short.

We were next bound to the coast of Madagascar, Captain Frankland having instructions to endeavour to open up a trade with the people, and to gain all the information he could collect regarding them. Madagascar is larger than Great Britain and Ireland combined, and contains three millions of inhabitants. In 1817, a treaty was entered into between the governor of the Mauritius and Radama, who was king of part of the country. The king consented to the abolition of the slave trade; and in return, he was supplied with arms and ammunition, and military instructors were sent to drill his army. The London Missionary Society also sent over a body of highly intelligent men, some to instruct the people in Christianity, and others more particularly in a variety of useful arts. A considerable number of Malagasy youths were sent on board English ships of war to be instructed in seamanship, while others were carried to England to receive a more finished education. It is a remarkable fact, that, although when the missionaries arrived in 1818 letters were totally unknown, in ten years from 10,000 to 15,000 natives had learned to read, many of them to write, and several had made some progress in English. This speaks well for the zeal and excellence of the system employed by the missionaries, and for the talent of the natives.

King Radama, after considerably extending his dominions, died in 1828, when the policy of his successor towards the English considerably changed. The Malagasy government having resolved to impose their own laws on foreign residents at the port of Tamatave, an English and two French ships of war went there to try and settle the questions at issue. Failing to do so, they attacked the port, which, however, was so well defended, that they were compelled to retire, leaving several of their number behind, whose heads were stuck upon poles on the shore. In consequence of this untoward event, all intercourse with the English ceased for eight years. Before that time the government had commenced a cruel persecution of the Christian natives, and numbers were put to death. The effect, however, was very different from what was expected. Attention was drawn to the subject of Christianity. Many of all ranks began to study the Bible and to acknowledge the truth, and among them was the queen’s son, then only seventeen years old. The queen was greatly averse to the new religion; and this, probably, was one of the causes which made her break off all intercourse with strangers, while she carried on the persecution against her own subjects who had become converts. The patient way in which the Christians bore their sufferings induced many others to inquire into the truth of their doctrines, and ultimately to embrace them. At last a reaction took place; the queen began to discover the ill effects of the restrictive system she had been endeavouring to establish, and once more showed an inclination to renew her intercourse with civilised nations. Friendly relations with the British had again been established when we anchored before Tamatave.

The roadstead before Tamatave offers a good anchorage, except when the wind is from the north or east. Several species of pandanus and some tall cocoa-nut trees gave a tropical character to the scenery. Soon after anchoring, a large but rather clumsy canoe came alongside, with an officer who spoke a little English, and said he was the harbour-master, and a number of attendants. They wore neatly plaited straw hats, white shirts bound round the loins with cloths, and large white scarfs thrown gracefully over the shoulders like the Scotch plaid. The harbour-master entered in a book the name of the ship and other particulars, and we then accompanied him to his house on shore—that is, the captain, the doctor, and Jerry and I. It was built of wood, nearly fifty feet long and twenty-five high, a verandah running all round; a door in the centre, and windows on either side; the floor of the veranda well planked, so as to form an outer apartment. The whole was thatched with the leaves of the traveller’s-tree. The walls were covered with tofia, or native cloth, and the floor with a large fine mat. A well-made bedstead stood in one corner with sleeping mats on it, and in the centre a table covered with a white cloth. In different parts of the room were chairs and ottomans covered with mats; cooking utensils, arms, machines for making mats, bags of rice, and other articles for consumption, were arranged against the sides of the room. It was a fair specimen of a native house, and in the essentials showed a considerable advancement in civilisation and notions of comfort, as it was admirably adapted to the climate.

Captain Frankland’s object in coming to Madagascar was to open up a commercial intercourse with the people, and to advance this object he had resolved to visit the capital. He had been supplied with several letters of introduction to facilitate this object. This brought us in contact with a number of people. One of our first visitors was a fine-looking man, an officer of government. He wore a gold-lace cloth cap, a shirt with an elaborately worked collar and cuffs, and over it a lamba, the native scarf or plaid, the centre of which consisted of broad stripes of yellow, pink, scarlet, and purple, with the border of open work of yellow and scarlet lace. He had, however, neither shoes nor stockings. He was accompanied by two men bearing swords, the badges of his office. One of our visitors took snuff (a usual custom), by jerking it from a richly ornamented tube of cane which his servant handed to him, on to his tongue, when he swallowed it!

Tamatave, where we landed, is a large village, but the houses, or rather huts, have generally a dilapidated appearance. There are a few good houses, belonging to foreigners and to the government officers. We were amused by seeing slaves filling thick bamboos six or seven feet long with water from a well. The water is pulled up in a cow horn instead of a bucket, while the bamboo takes the place of a pitcher. We visited the market. The vendors sat in the centre, or at the side of platforms made of sand or mud, on which the articles were piled up. We found rice, maize, millet, mandioc, plantains, oranges, pine-apples, and many other fruits. All sorts of poultry were to be seen, and the butchers had their meat arranged before them cut up into pieces on broad plantain leaves. The women were dressed very much in articles of European manufacture; their hair, which is jet black, was arranged frequently in light curls or knots, which has a far from picturesque effect.

Nothing is more wonderful in Madagascar than the great strides education has made. Thirty years ago the language was unwritten. Only one person, who had been educated in the Mauritius, could write, and that was in a foreign language. Now, all the government officers can write, and all the business is transacted by writing, while all classes are greedy for instruction; indeed, we had great reason to believe that there are few more intelligent people than the inhabitants of that magnificent island.

Before starting on our journey we were invited to a dinner by one of the chiefs. Our surprise was great, when we approached the house, to find two lines of soldiers drawn up, dressed in white kilts with white belts across their naked shoulders, with a musket or spear. We were ushered into a handsome hall full of officers in every variety of European uniform, the chiefs having cocked hats, feathers, and gold epaulets. The lady of the house and several other ladies were present, dressed in English fashion; and the feast, which was abundant, was served much in the English style. Several of the officers spoke English, and toasts were drunk and speeches made, while a band played very well both when we entered and after dinner. Some female slaves stood behind the ladies, and two afterwards came in and made some very excellent coffee. We were very much interested as well as surprised to find so much civilisation among those whom we had supposed barbarians.

I have spoken of slaves. Although the government has abolished the exportation of slaves, slavery is still allowed in the country. The slaves are generally people taken in war from among the inhabitants of the northern provinces. People are also condemned to perpetual slavery for crimes by the government. The Hovas, the name of the dominant tribe, of whom Radama was chief, have made slaves of great numbers of the tribes whom they have conquered. We heard, however, that they are generally kindly treated. Many of the Christians were condemned to slavery during the late persecutions; but the conditions made with those who took charge of them was, that they were to be kept constantly at hard labour. We heard much of the admirable conduct of the Christians under all their persecutions. Their heathen masters declared that they could be intrusted with any matter of importance, and were scrupulously exact with regard to all property placed under their charge, while among themselves they kept up the pure and simple doctrines which they had learned from the Bible itself.

We now got ready for our journey. We had a guide who had been in England, and some years at the Cape of Good Hope, and spoke English perfectly. Our palanquins were something like cots slung on a long pole, with a roof of native cloth, which could be rolled up or let down to keep off the rain or sun. The machine was borne by four bearers, two before and two behind, while four others walked by the side ready to relieve them. No wheeled carriages are used in Madagascar, so that the only roads are the paths made by the unshod feet of the natives, or by the bullocks’ hoofs; and there is no water-carriage—all goods are conveyed on men’s shoulders from one part of the country to the other; so that we had quite an army with us, what with our relays of bearers, and those who carried our baggage and presents. Up and down hills we travelled, through the wildest scenery we could imagine. It is difficult to describe it. Sometimes we had to wind up and down over rugged heights; then through forests, frequently turning aside to avoid the huge trees which had fallen across our path; then across swamps and plots of slippery mud; and often we had to force our way through dense jungle, or through miles of primeval forests.

We saw many interesting trees and plants. One of the most beautiful is the bamboo. Some of the canes, nearly a foot in circumference at the base, rise to the height of forty or fifty feet, their slight, feathery-looking points, like huge plumes, waving with the slightest breeze, and assisting to keep up a circulation of the air. They are fringed at their joints with short branches of long, lance-shaped leaves. We saw bamboos of all sizes, some with the cane as delicate as a small quill, yet fully ten feet long; and these were also exceedingly graceful. So also were the tree-ferns, which grew in great profusion and beauty on the sides of the hills. But the most curious and valuable tree we saw was the traveller’s-tree. It has a thick succulent stem like the plantain. From ten to thirty feet from the ground it sends out from the stem, not all round, but on opposite sides, like a fan, ten or a dozen huge bright green leaves; so that facing it, it has the appearance of a vast fan. The stalk of the leaf is six or eight feet long, and the leaf itself four or six more. In each head were four or five branches of seed-pods, in appearance something like the fruit of the plantain. When they burst each pod was found to contain thirty or more seeds, in shape like a small bean, covered up with a very fine fibre of a brilliant purple or blue colour. The most singular arrangement, which gains this tree the name it bears, is the pure water which it contains. This is found in the thick part of the stem of each leaf, at the spot where it rises from the stem, where there is a cavity formed by nature. The water is evidently collected by the broad leaf, and carried down a groove in the stem to the bowl, which holds a quart or more, perhaps, at a time. The traveller’s-tree is of great use for other purposes to the natives. With the leaves they thatch their houses; the stems serve to portion off the rooms; and the hard outside bark is beaten flat, and is used for flooring. The green leaves are used to envelop packages, and sometimes a table is covered with them instead of a tablecloth, while they are also folded into various shapes, to be employed as plates, bowls, and even spoons.

We had to cross a river said to be infested by crocodiles. The natives walked close to us on either side, beating the water with long sticks to keep them away. The natives look on them with great dread, and attempt to propitiate them by charms or sacrifices, instead of endeavouring to destroy them. They, however, take their eggs in great numbers, and dry them for food.

Locusts in great numbers infest some of the provinces; but the people do not allow them to pass without paying a heavy tribute, and eat them as one of their chief luxuries, dressed in fat. They fly about two or three feet from the ground. As soon as they appear, men, women, and children rush out—the men catch them in sheets, the women and children pick them from the ground, and then shake them in sacks till the wings and legs are knocked off. The lighter parts are then winnowed away, and the bodies are dried in the sun and sold in the markets.

The natives seem to have the same dread of serpents that they have of crocodiles. The doctor found one, ten feet long, coiled away on the mat where he had slept one morning, on going back to look for something he had left there; but it escaped before it could be killed.

We slept during our journey sometimes at the habitations of chiefs, sometimes at peasants’ huts, and sometimes at houses in villages provided for our accommodation. The chiefs’ houses were small, but compactly built. We remarked that the water was kept in large earthen jars—like those used in the Holy Land, I conclude. The sleeping-places were neatly arranged round the rooms, and there was a general air of comfort and respectability perceptible in most of them. Very different was a peasant’s hut when we entered. It was not more than twenty feet square, divided into two compartments. In the outer were calves, lambs, and fowls. In the inner, at one end was a bed, and at the foot of it a fireplace, over which a man was cooking a pot of rice. His wife sat before a loom, consisting of four upright sticks fixed in the ground, with rods across. At the distance of seven feet were two short sticks driven into the ground, connected by a bar, over which was stretched the woof of silk to be woven. On this simple apparatus the most beautiful and rich patterns are worked. Silk-worms abound in some of the provinces, and a very large amount might be produced and form an important article of trade.

As we approached the capital we found the villages of the Hovas all strongly fortified on the summits of hills or rocks. They have but one narrow and difficult entrance, and are surrounded by one or more deep ditches, every ridge at the side of the hill being cut through. Great care, indeed, has been shown in their construction, showing that they were a warlike and marauding people, and found it necessary to guard against reprisals from the neighbours they have attacked.

Antananarivo, the capital, at which we at length arrived, after a journey of three hundred miles, is a very curious place. It is built on an oval hill, nearly two miles in length, rising four or five hundred feet above the surrounding country, and is seven thousand feet higher than the level of the sea. On the highest part of the hill, and forming a conspicuous object, is the palace of the queen. It is sixty feet high, with a lofty and steep roof, with attic windows, and is surrounded by balconies, one above, the other. The top is surmounted by a huge golden eagle, with outspread wings, which looks as if able to have a tough fight with the one which overshadowed the articles from the United States at, the Great Exhibition.

The palace of the prince, which is smaller, is on one side, and has also a golden eagle over it. The dwellings of other members of the royal family and chief nobility are on either side, while the rest of the houses, which are only of one story, clothe the sides of the hill, standing generally on small terraces, wherever the ground has allowed their formation. The houses are of plain unpainted wood, which gives them a somewhat sombre and dilapidated appearance. The interiors are, however, very comfortable, and admirably suited to the climate.

Captain Frankland had the honour of an audience with the queen, who received him very graciously, and seemed much pleased with the object of his visit to the country. Still more interested were we with the prince royal and the princess Rabodo, his wife, who had for some time become consistent Christians. We were much struck with the kind and courteous way in which the prince invariably treated his wife whenever they appeared in public. We always saw him dressed in a handsome uniform, and she always appeared in the costume of an English lady. All the officers of the court were well dressed, either in European uniforms, or in full native costume, which is very becoming.

We had a very comfortable house appropriated to us. We found the climate at this elevation far pleasanter than near the coast, the thermometer, in the morning, not being higher than 56 degrees to 58 degrees. A number of the chiefs visited Captain Frankland, to talk about the productions of the country and the best methods for improving its resources. Jerry and I meantime made several excursions into the surrounding country with the doctor, accompanied by a young chief, who spoke English very well. We one day passed a body of troops, and he told us that there were forty thousand men forming an army round the capital besides artillery. Among other places we visited was the country palace of Radama, called Isoaierana. The top of a hill had been removed to clear a space for the edifice. It is a wonderful building, considering the means at the disposal of the architect, but it wants height to give it grandeur. It is composed entirely of wood, the timber having been brought from a forest fifty miles off. Rows of balconies run round it. One hall we entered was a hundred feet long and forty wide; but that also wanted height to make it appear to advantage.

From the very slight description I have given of the country, it will be seen that considerable advances have of late years been made in civilisation. The prince royal is a most excellently disposed young man, but his education is defective. Should his life be spared, there can be no doubt that he will exert himself to carry on the improvements commenced under the auspices of Radama. Unhappily, his mother and most of the chief nobility still are heathens, while the severe edicts against the Christians yet remain in force. However, all must believe that Christianity will ultimately triumph, and a happy future be in store for that interesting country.

We were very sorry when, the captain having concluded his business, we had once more to get into our palanquins, and to commence our return journey to the coast. We met with no adventure worthy of being noted, though we saw a number of curious and interesting plants and shrubs. At length once more we trod the deck of the Triton. The anchor was hove up, the topsails hoisted, and with a fair breeze we stood to the southward. We touched at Cape Town, but I will not describe it or the Table Mountain, of which every one has heard over and over again. One day we were all on deck, when the Captain and mates and Jerry and I were taking observations. “I thought so,” exclaimed Captain Frankland; “we have just put a girdle round the world; and now, lads, you will have spare time enough to tie the knot.” In a few weeks after this we reached the shores of Old England in safety, and though we had heartily enjoyed our voyage, right glad and thankful too were we to see once more its snow-white cliffs.

I spent three days with Captain Frankland’s family, and then Jerry and old Surley, who must not be forgotten, accompanied me to my own home. All were there for the Christmas holidays, and what between my dear father and mother’s embraces, and my sisters pulling me here and there to get another and another kiss at my well-browned cheeks, and my brother’s reiterated and hearty thumps on the back, I was almost in as much danger of being pulled to pieces as I had during any time of the voyage, and had not Jerry been there to draw off the attention of some of the party, I do not know what would have been the result. Cousin Silas soon afterwards joined us, and remained while the ship was refitting. We spent a very merry Christmas, and no one seemed tired of hearing us recount our adventures. Old Surley used to sit at our feet, and he nodded his head and winked his eyes, as much as to say “It is all true, and if I could but speak I would tell you the same story.” I hope that my readers will receive it in as favourable a way as did my family. We had learned many lessons during our trip. We had been taught to respect other people, their manners, and even their prejudices, and to reflect what we ourselves should have been had we laboured under similar disadvantages, while at the same time we had seen every reason to love Old England more and more, and to be deeply grateful for the numberless inestimable blessings she enjoys. We had been taught, too, to observe the finger of the Almighty in his wondrous works, and to remark how he has scattered his precious gifts far and wide over the face of the globe for the benefit of his creatures. Our midnight watches have not been unprofitable. Often and often in the calm night we have gazed upward at the starlit sky and thought upon God. We have had time for reflection. We have felt our own unworthiness. We have asked ourselves the serious question, Do we make a good and complete use of the advantages we possess—of the instruction afforded us—of the great examples set before us—of the Word of God laid freely open for us? But I might go on for ever asking similar questions. Happy are those who can make satisfactory answers. I must conclude by expressing a hope that those who have gone through these pages will have found some of the amusement and instruction which Jerry and I obtained in our—

Voyage round the World.

The End.