Tales of the Sea, by W.H.G. Kingston.
This is a collection of nine stories, some short, and some not so short. They are all very good reading, and Kingston seems to be at his best in the short story mode. You will probably enjoy the two episodes from the life of "Uncle Boz", that form the second story, especially the first, when he organises the rescue of the crew and passengers of a vessel that is wrecked near his house on a stormy Christmas Day.
The first story, "Happy Jack", is by far the longest, occupying one third of the whole book. Jack, in spite of the desires of his lawyer father, goes to sea, where he has many adventures, culminating in an event in which he was presumed to have perished. Very short of money, and looking somewhat dishevelled, he reaches home, where he is not recognised by his sisters, but a girl who was being brought up by the family, and who was mutually interested in Jack, does recognise him, and he is given a proper welcome home.
TALES OF THE SEA, BY W.H.G. KINGSTON.
STORY ONE, CHAPTER 1.
Have any of you made a passage on board a steamer between London and Leith? If you have, you will have seen no small number of brigs and brigantines, with sails of all tints, from doubtful white to decided black—some deeply=laden, making their way to the southward, others with their sides high out of the water, heeling over to the slightest breeze, steering north.
On board one of those delectable craft, a brig called the Naiad, I found myself when about fourteen summers had passed over my head. She must have been named after a negress naiad, for black was the prevailing colour on board, from the dark, dingy forecastle to the captain's state cabin, which was but a degree less dirty than the portion of the vessel in which I was destined to live. The bulwarks, companion-hatch, and other parts had, to be sure, once upon a time been painted green, but the dust from the coal, which formed her usual cargo, had reduced every portion to one sombre hue, which even the salt seas not unfrequently breaking over her deck had failed to wash clean.
Captain Grimes, her commander, notwithstanding this, was proud of the old craft; and he especially delighted to tell how she had once carried a pennant when conveying troops to Corunna, or some other port in Spain.
I pitied the poor fellows confined to the narrow limits of her dark hold, redolent of bilge-water and other foul odours. We, however, had not to complain on that score, for the fresh water which came in through her old sides by many a leak, and had to be pumped out every watch, kept her hold sweet.
How I came to be on board the Naiad I'll tell you—
I had made up my mind to go to sea—why, it's hard to say, except that I thought I should like to knock about the world and see strange countries. I was happy enough at home, though I did not always make others happy. Nothing came amiss to me; I was always either laughing or singing, and do not recollect having an hour's illness in my life. Now and then, by the elders of the family, and by Aunt Martha especially, I was voted a nuisance; and it was with no small satisfaction, at the end of the holidays, that they packed me off again to school. I was fond of my brothers and sisters, and they were fond of me, though I showed my affection for them in a somewhat rough fashion. I thought my sisters somewhat demure, and I was always teasing them and playing them tricks. Somehow or other I got the name among them and my brothers of "Happy Jack," and certainly I was the merriest of the family. If I happened, which was not unfrequently the case, to get into a scrape, I generally managed to scramble out of it with flying colours; and if I did not, I laughed at the punishment to which I was doomed. I was a broad-shouldered, strongly-built boy, and could beat my elder brothers at running, leaping, or any other athletic exercise, while, without boasting, I was not behind any of them in the school-room. My father was somewhat proud of me, and had set his mind on my becoming a member of one of the learned professions, and rising to the top of the tree. Why should I not? I had a great-uncle a judge, and another relative a bishop, and there had been admirals and generals by the score among our ancestors. My father was a leading solicitor in a large town, and having somewhat ambitious aspirations for his children, his intention was to send all his sons to the university, in the hopes that they would make a good figure in life. He was therefore the more vexed when I declared that my firm determination was to go to sea. "Very well, Jack," he said, "if such is your resolve, go you shall; but as I have no interest in the navy, you must take your chance in the merchant service."
"It's all the same to me, sir," I replied; "I shall be just as happy in the one as in the other service;" and so I considered the matter settled.
When the day of parting came, I was as merry and full of fun as ever, though I own there was a strange sensation about the heart which bothered me; however, I was not going to show what I felt—not I.
I slyly pinched my sisters when we were exchanging parting kisses, till they were compelled to shriek out and box my ears—an operation to which I was well accustomed—and I made my brothers roar with the sturdy grip I gave their fingers when we shook hands; and so, instead of tears, there were shouts of laughter and screeches and screams, creating a regular hullabuloo which put all sentimental grief to flight. "No, no, Jack, I will have none of your tricks," cried Aunt Martha, when I approached with a demure look to bid her farewell, so I took her hand and pressed it to my lips with all the mock courtesy of a Sir Charles Grandison. My mother! I had no heart to do otherwise than to throw my arms round her neck and receive the fond embrace she bestowed upon me, and if a tear did come into my eye, it was then. But there was another person to whom I had to say good-bye, and that was dear little Grace Goldie, my father's ward, a fair, blue-eyed girl, three or four years younger than myself. I did not play her any trick, but kissed her smooth young brow, and promised that I would bring her back no end of pearls and ivory, and treasures of all sorts, from across the seas. She smiled sweetly through her tears. "Thank you, Jack, thank you! I shall so long to see you back," she whispered; and I had to bolt, or I believe that I should have began to pipe my eye in a way I had no fancy for. My father's voice summoned me. "Now, Jack," he said, "as you have chosen your bed, you must lie on it. But remember—after a year's trial—if you change your mind, let me know."
"No fear of that, sir," I answered.
"We shall see, Jack," he replied. He wrung my hand, and gave me his blessing. "I have directed Mr Junk to provide your outfit, and you will find it all right." Who Mr Junk was I had no conception; but as my father said it was all right, I troubled my head no more about the matter.
My father's old clerk, Simon Munch, was waiting for me at the door, and hurried me off to catch the Newcastle coach. On our arrival there he took me to the office of Junk, Tarbox and Company, shipbrokers.
"Here is the young gentleman, Mr Junk," he said, addressing a one-eyed, burly, broad-shouldered personage, with a rubicund countenance, in a semi-nautical costume. "You know what to do with him, and so I leave him in your hands. Good-bye, Jack, I hope you may like it."
"No fear of that, Mr Munch," I answered; "and tell them at home that you left me as jolly and happy as ever."
"So, Master Brooke, you want to go to sea?" said Mr Junk, squirting a stream of tobacco-juice across his office, and eyeing me with his sole bloodshot blinker; "and you expect to like it?"
"Of course I do; I expect to be happy wherever I am," I answered in a confident tone.
"We shall see," he replied. "I have sent your chest aboard of the Naiad. Captain Grimes will be here anon, and I'll hand you over to him."
The person he spoke of just then made his appearance. I did not particularly like my future commander's outside. He was a tall, gaunt man, with a long weather-beaten visage and huge black or rather grizzled whiskers; and his voice, when he spoke, was gruff and harsh in the extreme. I need not further describe him; only I will observe that he looked considerably cleaner then than he usually did, as I afterwards found on board the brig. He took but little notice of me beyond a slight nod, as he was busy with the ship's papers. Having pocketed them, he grasped me by the hand with a "Come along, my lad; I am to make a seaman on ye." He spoke in a broad Northumbrian accent, and in a harsh guttural tone. I was not prepossessed in his favour, but I determined to show no signs of unwillingness to accompany him.
We were soon seated in the stern of an excessively dirty boat, with coal-dust-begrimed rowers, who pulled away with somewhat lazy strokes towards a deeply-laden brig lying out in mid-stream. "Get on board, leddie, with you," said the captain, who had not since my first introduction addressed a single word to me. I clambered up on deck. The boat was hoisted in, the topsails let fall, and the crew, with doleful "Yeo-yo-o's," began working round the windlass, and the Naiad in due time was gliding down the Tyne.
She was a very different craft to what I had expected to find myself on board of. I had read about the white decks and snowy canvas, the bright polish and the active, obedient crew of a man-of-war; and such I had pictured the vessel I had hoped to sail in. The Naiad was certainly a contrast to this; but I kept to my resolve not to flinch from whatever turned up. When I was told to pull and haul away at the ropes, I did so with might and main; and, as everything on board was thickly coated with coal-dust, I very soon became, as begrimed as the rest of the crew.
I was rather astonished, on asking Captain Grimes when tea would be ready—for I was very hungry—to be told that I might get what I could with the men forward. I went down accordingly into the forecastle, tumbling over a chest, and running my head against the stomach of one of my new shipmates as I groped my way amid the darkness which shrouded it. A cuff which sent me sprawling on the deck was the consequence. "Where are your eyes, leddie?" exclaimed a gruff voice. "Ye'll see where ye are ganging the next time."
I picked myself up, bursting into a fit of laughter, as if the affair had been a good joke. "I beg your pardon, old fellow," I said; "but if you had had a chandelier burning in this place of yours it would not have happened. How do you all manage to see down here?"
"As cats do—we're accustomed to it," said another voice; and I now began to distinguish objects around me. The watch below were seated round a sea-chest, with three or four mugs, a huge loaf of bread, and a piece of cheese and part of a flitch of fat cold bacon. It was rough fare, but I was too hungry not to be glad to partake of it.
A boy whom I had seen busy in the caboose soon came down with a kettle of hot tea. My inquiry for milk produced a general laugh, but I was told I might take as much sugar as I liked from a jar, which contained a dark-brown substance unlike any sugar I had before seen.
"Ye'll soon be asking for your bed, leddie," said Bob Tubbs, the old man whose acquaintance I had so unceremoniously formed. "Ye'll find it there, for'ard, if ye'll grope your way. It's not over airy, but it's all the warmer in winter."
After supper, I succeeded in finding the berth Bob had pointed out. It was the lowest berth, directly in the very bows of the vessel—a shelf-like space, about five feet in length, with height scarcely sufficient to allow me to sit upright,—Dirty Dick, the ship's boy I have mentioned, having the berth above me. Mine contained a mattress and a couple of blankets. My inquiry for sheets produced as much laughter as when I asked for milk. "Well, to be sure, as I suppose you have not a washerwoman on board, they would not be of much use," I sang out; "and so, unless the captain wants me to steer the ship, I will turn in and go to sleep. Good night, mates."
"The leddie has got some spirit in him," I heard Bob Tubbs observe. "What do you call yourself, boy?"
"Happy Jack!" I sang out; "and it's not this sort of thing that's going to change me."
"You'll prove a tough one, if something else doesn't," observed Bob from his berth. "But gang to sleep, boy. Ye'll be put into a watch to-morrow, and it's the last time, may be, that ye'll have to rest through the night till ye set foot on shore again." I little then thought how long a time that would prove; but, rolling myself up in my blanket, I soon forgot where I was.
Next morning I scrambled on deck, and found the brig plunging away into a heavy sea, with a strong southerly wind, the coast just distinguishable over our starboard quarter. The captain gave me a grim smile as I made my way aft.
"Well, leddie, how do you like it?" he inquired.
"Thank you, pretty well," I answered; "but I hope we sha'n't have to wait long for breakfast."
He smiled again. "And you don't feel queer?"
"No, not a bit of it," I replied. "But I say, captain, I thought I was to come as a midshipman, and mess with the other young gentlemen on board."
He now fairly laughed outright; and looking at me for some time, answered, "We have no young gentlemen on board here. You'll get your breakfast in good time; but you are of the right sort, leddie, and little Clem shall show you what you have got to do," pointing as he spoke to a boy who just then came on deck, and whom I took to be his son.
"Thank you, captain," I observed; "I shall be glad of Clem's instruction, as I suppose he knows more about the matter than I do."
"Clem can hand, reef, and steer as well as any one, as far as his strength goes," said the captain, looking approvingly at him.
"I'll set to work as soon as he likes, then," I observed. "But I wish those fellows would be sharp about breakfast, for I am desperately hungry."
"Well, go into the cabin, and Clem will give you a hunch of bread to stay your appetite."
I followed Clem below. "Here, Brooke, some butter will improve it," he said, spreading a thick slice of bread. "And so you don't seem to be seasick, like most fellows. Well, I am glad of that. My father will like you all the better for it, and soon make a sailor of you, if you wish to learn."
I told Clem that was just what I wanted, and that I should look to him to teach me my duties.
"I'll do my best," he said. "Take my advice and dip your hands in the tar bucket without delay, and don't shirk anything the mate puts you to. My father is pretty gruff now and then, but old Growl is a regular rough one. He does not say much to me, but you will have to look out for squalls. Come, we had better go on deck, or old Growl will think that I have been putting you up to mischief. He will soon pick a quarrel with you, to see how you bear it."
"I'll take good care to keep out of his way, then," I said, bolting the last piece of bread and butter. "Thank you, Clem, you and I shall be good friends, I see that."
"I hope so," answered my young companion with a sigh. "I have not many on board, and till you came I had no one to speak to except father, and he is not always in the mood to talk."
Clem's slice of bread and butter enabled me to hold out till the forecastle breakfast was ready. I did ample justice to it. Directly I made my reappearance on deck, old Growl set me to work, and I soon had not only my hands but my arms up to the elbows in tar. Though the vessel was pitching her head into the seas, with thick sheets of foam flying over her, he quickly sent me aloft to black down the main rigging. Clem showed me how to secure the bucket to the shrouds while I was at work, and in spite of the violent jerks I received as the vessel plunged her bluff bows into the sea, I got on very well. Before the evening was over I had been out on the yards with little Clem to assist in reefing the topsails, and he had shown me how to steer and box the compass.
Nothing particular occurred on the voyage, though we were ten days in reaching the mouth of the Thames. Clem and I became great friends. The more I saw of him the more I liked him, and wondered how so well-mannered a lad could be the son of such a man as Captain Grimes.
I saw nothing of London. I should, indeed, have been ashamed to go on shore in my now thoroughly begrimed condition. We were but a short time in the Thames, for as soon as we had discharged our cargo we again made sail for the Tyne.
Before this time old Growl, the mate, had taught me what starting meant. He had generally a rope's end in his fist, and if not, one was always near at hand. If I happened not to do a thing well enough or fast enough to please him, he was immediately after me, laying the rope across my shoulders, or anywhere he could most conveniently reach. I generally managed to spring out of his way, and turn round and laugh at him. If he followed me, I ran aloft, and, as I climbed much faster than he could, I invariably led him a long chase.
"I'll catch you, youngster, the next time. Mark me, that I will," he shouted out to me one day, when more than usually angry.
"Wait till the next time comes, mate," I sang out, and laughed more heartily than before.
The men sympathised with me, especially Dirty Dick. His shoulders, till I came on board, had been accustomed to suffer most from the mate's ill temper. Now and then old Growl, greatly to his delight, caught me unawares; but, suffering as I did from his blows, I never let him see that I cared for them, and used to laugh just as heartily as when I had escaped from him. On this, however, he would grin sardonically, and observe, "You may laugh as you like, young master, I know what a rope's end tastes like; it's a precious deal bitterer than you would have me fancy. I got enough of it when I was a youngster, and haven't forgotten yet."
One day when old Growl had treated me as I have described, and had gone below, Clement came up to me. "I am so sorry the mate has struck you, Brooke," he said. "It's a great shame. He dare not hit me; and when I told father how he treats you, he told me to mind my own business, and that it was all for your good."
"I don't know how that can be," I answered; "but I don't care for it, I can assure you. It hurts a little at the time, I'll allow, but I have got used to it, and I don't intend to let him break my spirit or make me unhappy."
Clement all the time was doing his best to teach me what he knew, and I soon learned to steer in smooth water, and could hand and reef the topsails and knot and splice as well almost as he could. Some things I did better, as I was much stronger and more active. I was put to do all sorts of unpleasant work, such as blacking down the rigging, greasing the masts, and helping Dirty Dick to clean the caboose and sweep out the forecastle. Though I didn't like it, I went about the duty, however, as if it was the pleasantest in the world. Pleasant or not, I was thus rapidly becoming a seaman.
STORY ONE, CHAPTER 2.
I had as before, on reaching the Tyne, to remain and keep ship, though little Clem went on shore and did not return till we had a fresh cargo on board, and were just about sailing.
Scarcely were we clear of the river than a heavy gale sprang up and severely tried the old collier. The seas came washing over her deck, and none of us for'ard had a dry rag on our backs. When my watch below came, I was glad to turn in between my now darkly-tinted blankets; but they soon became as wet as everything else, and when I went on deck to keep my watch, I had again to put on my damp clothes. The forecastle was fearfully hot and steamy. We had to keep the fore hatch closed to prevent the seas which, washing over our decks, would otherwise have poured down upon us. In a short time, as the ship strained more and more while she struggled amid the waves, the water made its way through the deck and sides till there was not a dry space to lie on in our berths. Then I began really to understand the miseries of forecastle life on board a collier, and many other craft too, in which British seamen have to sail; with bad food, bad water, and worse treatment. Ay, I speak the truth, which I know from experience, they have to live like dogs, and, too often, die like dogs, with no one to care for them.
Day after day this sort of work continued. I wondered that the captain did not run back, till I heard him say that the price of coals was up in the London market, and he wanted to be there before other vessels arrived to lower it; so, tough seaman as he was, he kept thrashing the old brig along against the south-westerly gale, which seemed to increase rather than show any signs of moderating. We had always, during each watch, to take a spell at the pumps, and now we had to keep them going without intermission. I took my turn with the rest, and my shoulders ached before I had done; still I sang and laughed away as usual.
"It's no laughing matter, youngster," said old Growl, as he passed me. "You will be laughing the wrong side of your mouth before long."
"Never fear, mate," I replied; "both sides are the same to me."
The captain and mate at last took their turns with the rest of us, for the crew were getting worn out. I did not know the danger we were in, but I was beginning to get tired of that dreadful "clank, clank, clank."
At last, by dint of keeping at it, we had got a good way to the southward, when one night, just as we had gone about hoping to lay our course for the Thames, the wind shifted and came again right in our teeth. I had turned into my wet bunk all standing, when, having dropped off to sleep, I was awoke by a tremendous crash, and on springing up on deck I found that the mainmast had gone by the board. The gale had increased, and we were driving before it. As I made my way aft, the flashes of lightning revealed the pale faces of the crew, some endeavouring to clear away the wreck of the mast, others working with frantic energy at the pumps. The leaks had increased. As may be supposed, the deeply-laden collier had but a poor chance under such circumstances. Presently the vessel gave a heavy lurch. A sea rolled up. The next instant I found myself struggling in the midst of the foaming surges. All around was dark; I felt for the deck of the vessel, it was not beneath me; I had been washed overboard. I struck out for life, and in another minute I was clinging to the mainmast, which had been cut clear. I clambered up on it, and looked out for the brig. She was nowhere to be seen; she must have gone down beneath the surge which washed me from her deck. What had become of my shipmates? I shouted again and again at the top of my voice. There was a faint cry, "Help me; help me." I knew the voice; it was Clement's. Leaving the mast, I swam towards him; he was lashed to a spar. The old captain's last act had been to try and save the young boy's life ere he himself sank beneath the waves. I caught hold of the spar, bidding Clement keep his head above the water while I towed it to the mast. I succeeded, and then clambering on it, and casting off the lashings, dragged him up and placed him beside me. We hailed again and again, but no voice replied. It may seem strange that we, the two youngest on board, should have survived, while all the men were drowned, but then, not one of them could swim. We could, and, under Providence, were able to struggle for our lives.
I did my best to cheer up little Clem, telling him that if we could manage to hold on till daylight, as a number of vessels were certain to pass, we should be picked up. "I am very, very sorry, Clem, for your father," I said; "for though he was somewhat gruff to me, he was a kind-hearted man, I am sure."
"That indeed he was," answered Clement, in a tone of sorrow. "He was always good to me; but he was not my father, as you fancy—the more reason I have to be grateful to him."
"Not your father, Clem!" I exclaimed. "I never suspected that."
"No, he was not; though he truly acted the part of one to me. Do you know, Brooke, this is not the first time that I have been left alone floating on the ocean? I was picked up by him just as you hope that we shall be picked up. I was a very little fellow, so little that I could give no account of myself. He found a black woman and me floating all alone on a raft out in the Atlantic. She died almost immediately we were rescued, without his being able to learn anything from her. He had to bury her at sea, and when he got home he in vain tried to find out my friends, though he preserved, I believe, the clothes I had on, and most of her clothes. He sent me to an excellent school, where I was well taught; and Mrs Grimes, who was a dear, kind lady, far more refined than you would suppose his wife to have been, acted truly like a mother to me. He was very fond of her, and when she died, nearly a year ago, he took me to sea with him. I did not, however, give up my studies, but used to sit in the cabin, and every day read as much as I could. Captain Grimes used to say that he was sure I was a gentleman born, and a gentleman he wished me to be, and so I have always felt myself."
I had been struck by little Clem's refined manners, and this was now accounted for. "I am sure you are a gentleman, Clem," I observed; "and if we ever get home, my father, who is a lawyer, shall try to find out your friends. He may be able to succeed though Captain Grimes could not. I wonder he did not apply to my father, as, from my having been sent on board his ship, the captain must have known him. I suspect that they wanted to sicken me of a sea life, and so sent me on board the Naiad; but they were mistaken; and now when they hear that she has gone down—if we are not picked up—how sorry they will be!"
The conversation I have described was frequently interrupted—sometimes by a heavier sea than usual rolling by, and compelling us to hold tight for our lives; at others we were silent for several minutes together. We were seated on the after-part of the maintop, the rigging which hung down on either side acting as ballast, and contributing to keep the wreck of the mast tolerably steady in one position. We were thus completely out of the water, though the spray from the crest of the seas which was blown over us kept us thoroughly wet and cold. Fortunately, we both had on thick clothing. Clement was always nicely dressed, for the captain, though not particular about himself, liked to see him look neat, while I, on the contrary, had on my oldest working suit, and was as rough-looking a sea-dog as could be imagined. My old tarry coat and trousers, and sou'-wester tied under my chin, contributed, however, to keep out the wind, and enable me the better to endure the cold to which we were exposed. I sheltered Clem as well as I could, and held him tight whenever I saw a sea coming towards him, fearing lest he might be washed away. I had made up my mind to perish with him rather than let him go. Hour after hour passed by, till at length, the clouds breaking, the moon came forth and shone down upon us. I looked at Clem's face: it was very pale, and I was afraid he would give way altogether. "Hold on, hold on, Clem," I exclaimed. "The wind is falling, and the sea will soon go down; we shall have daylight before long, and in the meantime we have the moon to cheer us up. Perhaps we shall be on shore this time to-morrow, and comfortably in bed; and then we will go back to my father, and he will find out all about your friends. He is a wonderfully clever man, though a bit strict, to be sure."
"Thank you, Jack, thank you," he answered. "Don't be afraid; I feel pretty strong, only somewhat cold and hungry."
Just then I recollected that I had put the best part of a biscuit into my pocket at tea-time, having been summoned on deck as I was eating it. It was wet, to be sure; but such biscuits as we had take a good deal of soaking to soften thoroughly. I felt for it. There it was. So I put a small piece into Clem's mouth. He was able to swallow it. Then I put in another, and another; and so I fed him, till he declared he felt much better. I had reserved a small portion for myself, but as I knew that I could go on without it, I determined to keep it, lest he should require more.
I continued to do my best to cheer him up by talking to him of my home, and how he might find his relations and friends, and then I bethought me that I would sing a song. I don't suppose that many people have sung under such circumstances, but I managed to strike up a stave, one of those with which I had been accustomed to amuse my messmates in the Naiad's forecastle. It was not, perhaps, one of the merriest, but it served to divert Clem's thoughts, as well as mine, from our perilous position.
"I wish that I could sing too," said Clem; "but I know I could not, if I was to try. I wonder you can, Jack."
"Why? because I am sure that we shall be picked up before long, and so I see no reason why I should not try to be happy," I answered thoughtlessly.
"Ah, but I am thinking of those who are gone," said Clem. "My kind father, as I called him, and old Growl, and the rest of the poor fellows; it is like singing over their graves."
"You are right, Clem," I said; "I will sing no more, though I only did it to keep up your spirits. But what is that?" I exclaimed, suddenly, as we rose to the crest of a sea. "A large ship standing directly for us."
"Yes; she is close-hauled, beating down Channel," observed Clement. "She will be right upon us, too, if she keeps her present course."
"We must take care to let her know where we are, by shouting together at the top of our voices when we are near enough to be heard," I said.
"She appears to me to be a man-of-war, and probably a sharp look-out is kept forward," Clement remarked. We had not observed the ship before, as our faces had been turned away from her. The sea had, however, been gradually working the mast round, as I knew to be the case by the different position in which the moon appeared to us.
"We must get ready for a shout, Clem, and then cry out together as we have never cried before. I'll say when we are to begin."
As the ship drew nearer Clem had no doubt that she was a man-of-war, a large frigate apparently, under her three topsails and courses.
"She is passing to windward of us," I exclaimed.
"Not so sure of that," cried Clem. "She will be right over us if we do not cry out in time."
"Let us begin, then," I said. "Now, shout away, Hip! Hip!"
"No, no!" cried Clem, "that will not do. Shout 'Ship ahoy!'"
I had forgotten for the moment what to say, so together we began shouting as shrilly as we could, at the very top of our voices. Again and again we shouted. I began to fear that the ship would be right over us, when presently we saw her luff up. The moon was shining down upon us, and we were seen. So close, even then, did the frigate pass, that the end of the mast we were clinging to almost grazed her side. Ropes were hove to us, but the ship had too much way on her, and it was fortunate we could not seize them. "Thank you," I cried out. "Will you take us aboard?" There was no answer, and I thought that we were to be left floating on our mast till some other vessel might sight us. We were mistaken, though. We could hear loud orders issued on board, but what was said we could not make out, and presently the ship came up to the wind, the head yards were braced round, and she lay hove-to. Then we saw a boat lowered. How eagerly we watched what was being done. She came towards us. The people in her shouted to us in a strange language. They were afraid, evidently, of having their boat stove in by the wreck of the mast. At last they approached us cautiously.
"Come, Clem, we will swim to her," I said. "Catch tight hold of my jacket; I have got strength enough left in me for that."
We had not far to go, but I found it a tougher job than I expected. It would have been wiser to have remained till we could have leaped from the mast to the boat. I was almost exhausted by the time we reached her, and thankful when I felt Clem lifted off my back, I myself, when nearly sinking, being next hauled on board. We were handed into the stern-sheets, where we lay almost helpless. I tried to speak, but could not, nor could I understand a word that was said. The men at once pulled back to the ship, and a big seaman, taking Clem under one of his arms, clambered up with him on deck. Another carried me on board in the same fashion. The boat was then hoisted up, and the head yards being braced round, the ship continued her course. Lanterns being brought, we were surrounded by a group of foreign-looking seamen, who stared curiously at us, asking, I judged from the tones of their voices, all sorts of questions, but as their language was as strange to us as ours was to them, we couldn't understand a word they said, or make them comprehend what we said.
"If you would give us some hot grog, and let us turn into dry hammocks, we should be much obliged to you," I cried out at last, despairing of any good coming of all their talking.
Just as I spoke, an officer with a cloak on came from below, having apparently turned out of his berth. "Ah, you are English," I heard him say. "Speak to me. How came you floating out here?"
I told him that our vessel had gone down, and that we, as far as I knew, were the only survivors of the crew.
"And who is that other boy?"
"The captain's son," I answered.
"Ah, I thought so, by his appearance," said the officer. "He shall be taken into the cabin. You, my boy, will have a hammock on the lower deck, and the hot grog you asked for. I'll visit you soon. I am the doctor of the ship."
He then spoke to the men, and while Clement was carried aft, I was lifted up and conveyed below by a couple of somewhat rough but not ill-natured-looking seamen. I was more exhausted than I had supposed, for on the way I fainted, and many hours passed by before I returned to a state of half consciousness.
STORY ONE, CHAPTER 3.
In three days I was quite well, and the doctor sending me a suit of seaman's clothes, I dressed and found my way up on deck. I looked about eagerly for Clem, but not seeing him, I became anxious to learn how he was. I could make none of the men understand me. Most of them were Finns—big broad-shouldered, ruddy, light-haired, bearded fellows; very good-natured and merry, notwithstanding the harsh treatment they often received. Big as they were, they were knocked about like so many boys by the petty officers, and I began to feel rather uncomfortable lest I should come in for share of the same treatment, of which I had had enough from the hands of old Growl. I determined, however, to grin and bear it, and do, as well as I could, whatever I was told.
I soon found that I was not to be allowed to eat the bread of idleness, for a burly officer, whom I took to be the boatswain, ordered me aloft with several other boys, to hand the fore royal, a stiff breeze just then coming on. Up I went; and though I had never been so high above the deck before, that made but little difference, and I showed that I could beat my companions in activity. When I came down the boatswain nodded his approval. I kept looking out for Clem. At last I saw my friend the doctor, with several other officers, on the quarter-deck. I hurried aft to him, and, touching my cap, asked him how Clem was. The others stared at me as if surprised at my audacity in thus venturing among them. "The boy is doing well," he answered; "but, lad, I must advise you not to infringe the rules of discipline. You were, I understand, one of the ship's boys, and must remain for'ard. He is a young gentleman, and such his dress and appearance prove him to be, will be allowed to live with the midshipmen."
"I am very glad to hear that," I answered; "but I am a gentleman's son also, and I should like to live with the midshipmen, that I may be with Clem."
"Your companion has said something to the same effect," observed the doctor; "but the captain remarks that there are many wild, idle boys sent to sea who may claim to be the sons of gentlemen; and as your appearance shows, as you acknowledge was the case, that you were before the mast, there you must continue till your conduct proves that you are deserving of a higher rank. And now go for'ard. I'll recollect what you have said." I took the hint. The seamen grinned as I returned among them, as if they had understood what I had been saying.
I kept to my resolution of doing smartly whatever I was told, and laughed and joked with the men, trying to understand their lingo, and to make myself understood by them. I managed to pick up some of their words, though they almost cracked my jaws to pronounce them; but I laughed at my own mistakes, and they seemed to think it very good fun to hear me talk.
Several days passed away, when at length I saw Clement come on deck. I ran aft to him, and he came somewhat timidly to meet me. We shook hands, and I told him how glad I was to see him better, though he still looked very pale. "I am very glad also to see you, Jack," he said, "and I wish we were to be together. I told the doctor I would rather go and live for'ard than be separated from you; but he replied that that could not be, and I have hopes, Jack, that by-and-by you will be placed on the quarter-deck if you will enter the Russian service."
"What! and give up being an Englishman?" I exclaimed. "I would do a great deal to be with you, but I won't abandon my country and be transmogrified into a Russian."
"You are right, Jack," said Clem, with a sigh; "however, the officers will not object to my talking with you, and we must hope for the best." After this I was constantly thinking how I should act should I have the option of being placed on the quarter-deck and becoming an officer in the Russian service, for we were on board a Russian frigate.
Clem got rapidly better, and we every day met and had a talk together. Altogether, as the boatswain's lash did not often reach me, though he used it pretty freely among my companions, I was as happy as usual. I should have been glad to have had less train-oil and fat in the food served out to us, and should have preferred wheaten flour to the black rye and beans which I had to eat. Still that was a trifle, and I soon got accustomed to the greasy fare. Clem was now doing duty as a midshipman, and I was in the same watch with him.
The weather had hitherto been generally fine; but one night as the sun went down, I thought I saw indications of a gale. Still the wind didn't come, and the ship went gliding smoothly over the ocean. I was in the middle watch, and had just come on deck. I had made my way aft, where I found Clem, and, leaning against a gun, we were talking together of dear old England, wondering when we should get back there, when a sudden squall struck the ship, and the hands were ordered aloft to reef topsails. I sprang aloft with the rest, and lay out on the lee fore yard-arm. I was so much more active than most of my shipmates, that I had become somewhat careless. As I was leaning over to catch hold of a reef point, I lost my balance, and felt, as I fell head foremost, that I was about to have my brains dashed out on the deck below me. The instant before the wind had suddenly ceased, and the sail giving a flap, hung down almost against the mast. Just at that moment, filled with the breeze, it bulged out again, and striking me, sent me flying overboard. Instinctively I put my hands together, and, plunging down, struck the now foaming water head first. I sank several feet, though I scarcely for a moment lost consciousness, and when I came to the surface I found myself striking out away from the ship, which was gliding rapidly by me. I heard a voice sing out, "A man overboard." I knew that it must have been Clem's, and I saw a spar and several other things thrown into the water. I do not know whether the life-buoy was let go. I did not see it. Turning round I struck out in the wake of the ship, but the gale just then coming with tremendous fury, drove her on fast away from me, and she speedily disappeared in the thick gloom. I should have lost all hope had I not at that moment come against a spar, and a large basket with a rope attached to it, which was driven almost into my hands. Climbing on to the spar, to which I managed to lash the basket, I then got into the latter, where I could sit without much risk of being washed out. It served, indeed, as a tolerably efficient life-preserver; for although the water washed in and washed out, and the seas frequently broke over my head, I was able to hold myself in without much trouble. I still had some hopes that the ship would come back and look for me.
At length I thought I saw her approaching through the darkness. It raised my spirits, and I felt a curious satisfaction, in addition to the expectation of being saved, at the thought that I was not to be carelessly abandoned to my fate. I anxiously gazed in the direction where I fancied the ship to be, but she drew no nearer, and the dark void filled the space before me. Still I did not give way to despair, though I found it a hard matter to keep up. I had been rescued before, and I hoped to be saved another time. Then, however, I had been in a comparatively narrow sea, with numerous vessels passing over it. Now I was in the middle of the Atlantic, which, although rightly called a highway, was a very broad one. I could not also help recollecting that I was in the latitude where sharks abound, and I thought it possible that one might make a grab at my basket, and try to swallow it and me together, although I smiled at the thought of the inconvenience the fish would feel when it stuck its teeth into the yard, and got it fixed across its mouth. Happily no shark espied me.
Day at last dawned. As I looked around when I rose to the summit of a sea, my eyes fell alone on the dark, tumbling, foaming waters, and the thick clouds going down to meet them. I began to feel very hungry and thirsty, for though I had water enough around me, I dare not drink it. I now found it harder than ever to keep up my spirits, and gloomy thoughts began to take possession of my mind. No one, I confess, would have called me Happy Jack just then. I was sinking off into a state of stupor, during which I might easily have been washed out of my cradle, when, happening to open my eyes, they fell on the sails of a large brig standing directly for me. I could scarcely fail to be seen by those on board. On she came before the breeze; but as she drew nearer I began to fear that she might still pass at some distance. I tried to stand up and shout out, but I was nearly toppling overboard in making the attempt. I managed, however, to kneel upon the spar and wave my handkerchief, shouting as I did so with all my might. The brig altered her course, and now came directly down for me. I made out two or three people in the forechains standing ready to heave me a rope. I prepared to seize it. The brig was up to me and nearly running me down, but I caught the first rope hove to me, and grasped it tightly. I could scarcely have expected to find myself capable of so much exertion. Friendly hands were stretched out to help me up, but scarcely was I safe than I sank down almost senseless on deck. I soon, however, recovered, and being taken below, and dry clothes and food being given me, I quickly felt as well as usual. "Where am I, and where are you bound to?" were the first questions I asked, hoping to hear that I was on board a homeward-bound vessel. "You are on board the American brig Fox bound out round the Horn to the Sandwich Islands and the west coast of North America," was the answer. "But I want to go home to England," I exclaimed. "Well, then, I guess you had better get into your basket, and wait till another vessel picks you up," replied the captain, to whom I had addressed myself. "Thank you, I would rather stay here with dry clothes on my back and something to eat," I said. "Perhaps, however, captain, you will speak any homeward-bound vessel we meet, and get her to take me?"
"Not likely to fall in with one," he observed. "You had better make the best of things where you are."
"That's what I always try to do," I replied. "You are the right sort of youngster for me, then," he said. "Only don't go boasting of your proud little venomous island among my people. We are true Americans, fore and aft, except some of the passengers, and they would be better off if they would sink their notions and pay more respect to the stars and stripes. However, you will have nothing to do with them, for you will do your duty for'ard I guess." I thought it wiser to make no reply to these remarks, and as the crew were just going to dinner, I gladly accompanied them into their berth under the topgallant forecastle. The crew, I found, though American citizens, were of all nationalities—Danes, and Swedes, and Frenchmen, with too or three mulattoes and a black cook. They described Captain Pyke, for that was the master's name, as a regular Tartar, and seemed to have no great love for him, though they held him in especial awe. I was thankful at being so soon picked up, but I would rather have found myself on board a different style of craft. The cabin passengers were going out to join one of the establishments of the great Fur Trading Company on the Columbia river. They were pleasant, gentlemanly-looking men, and I longed to introduce myself to them, as I was beginning to get somewhat weary of the rough characters with whom I was doomed to associate. But from what the men told me, I felt sure that if I did so I should make the captain my enemy. He and they were evidently not on good terms. I got on, however, pretty well with the crew, and as I could speak a little French, I used to talk to the Frenchmen in their own language, my mistakes affording them considerable amusement, though, as they corrected me, I gradually improved.
Among the crew were two other persons whom I will particularly mention. One went by the name of "Old Tom." He was relatively old with regard to the rest of our shipmates, rather than old in years—a wiry, active, somewhat wizen-faced man, with broad shoulders, and possessing great muscular strength. I suspected from the first, from the way he spoke, that he was not a Yankee born. His language, when talking to me, was always correct, without any nasal twang; and that he was a man of some education I was convinced, when I heard him once quote, as if speaking to himself, a line of Horace. He never smiled, and there was a melancholy expression on his countenance, which made me fancy that something weighed on his mind. He did not touch spirits, but his short pipe was seldom out of his mouth. When, however, he sat with the rest in the forecastle berth, his manner completely changed, and he talked, and argued, and wrangled, and guessed, and calculated, with as much vehemence as any one, entering with apparent zest into their ribald conversation, though even then the most humorous remark or jest failed to draw forth a laugh from his lips.
STORY ONE, CHAPTER 4.
The other person was a lad a couple of years my senior, called always "Young Sam," apparently one of those unhappy waifs cast on the bleak world without relations or friends to care for him. He was a fine young fellow, with a blue laughing eye, dauntless and active, and promised to become a good seaman. In spite of the rough treatment he often received from his shipmates, he kept up his spirits, and as our natures in that respect assimilated, I felt drawn towards him. The only person who seemed to take any interest in him, however, was old Tom, who saved him from many a blow; still, no two characters could apparently have more completely differed. Young Sam seemed a thoughtless, care-for-nothing fellow, always laughing and jibing those who attacked him, and ready for any fun or frolic which turned up. He appreciated, however, old Tom's kindness; and the only times I saw him look serious were when he received a gentle rebuke from his friend for any folly he had committed which had brought him into trouble. I believe, indeed, that young Sam would have gone through fire and water to show his gratitude to old Tom, while I suspect that the latter, in spite of his harsh exterior, had a heart not altogether seared by the world, which required some one on whom to fix its kindlier feelings.
I had been some time on board when we put into a port at the Falkland Islands, then uninhabited, to obtain a supply of water. While the crew of the boats were engaged in filling the casks, Mr Duncan, one of the gentlemen, taking young Sam with him, went into the interior to shoot wild-fowl.
The casks were filled; and the boats, after waiting for some time the return of Mr Duncan and Sam, came back. Mr Symonds, the second mate, proposed to return for our shipmates after the casks had been hoisted on board. The captain seemed very angry at this; and when Mr Symonds was shoving off from the brig's side, ordered him back. He was hesitating, when another gentleman jumped into the boat, declaring that he would not allow his companion to be left behind, and promised the men a reward if they would shove off. Two of the men agreed to go in the boat, and the mate, with the rest, coming up the side, they pulled away for the shore.
The captain walked the deck, fuming and raging, every now and then turning an angry glance at the land and pulling out his watch. "He means mischief," muttered old Tom in my hearing; "but if he thinks to leave young Sam ashore to die of starvation, he is mistaken."
The night drew on, and the boat had not returned. My watch being over, I turned in, supposing that the brig would remain at anchor till the morning. I was, however, awakened in the middle watch by old Tom's voice. "Come on deck, Jack," he said; "there's mischief brewing; the captain had a quarrel with Mr Duncan the other day, and he hates young Sam for his impudence, as he calls it, and so I believe he intends to leave them behind if he can do so; but he is mistaken. We will not lift anchor till they are safe on board, or a party has been sent to look for them. They probably lost their way, and could not get back to the harbour before dark. There are no wild beasts or savages on shore, and so they could not come to harm; you slip into the cabin, and call the other gentlemen, and I'll manage the crew, who have just loosed topsails, and are already at the windlass with the cable hove short."
I was on deck in an instant, and, keeping on one side, while the captain was on the other, managed to slip into the cabin. I told the gentlemen of old Tom's suspicions, and observed that the captain probably thought those in the boat would return without Mr Duncan and Sam, when they saw the vessel making sail.
They instantly began to dress; and one of them, a spirited young Highlander, Mr McIvor, put a brace of pistols into his belt and followed me on deck. I tried to escape being seen by the captain, but he caught sight of me, I was sure, though I stooped down and kept close to the bulwarks as I crept for'ard.
By this time the men were heaving at the windlass, which they continued to do, in spite of what old Tom said to them. The captain had overheard him, and threatened to knock the first man down with a handspike who ceased to work. Old Tom, however, had got one in his hand, and the captain did not dare to touch him. In another instant I heard Mr McIvor's voice exclaiming, "What is this all about, Captain Pyke? What! are you going to leave our friends on shore?"
"If your friends don't come off at the proper time they must take the consequences," answered the captain. "Then, what I have got to say, Captain Pyke, is, that I'll not allow them to be deserted, and that I intend to carry out my resolution with a pretty strong argument—the instant the anchor leaves the ground I'll shoot you through the head."
"Mutiny! mutiny!" shouted the captain, starting back, "seize this man and heave him overboard." As he spoke the other two gentlemen made their appearance, and old Tom and I, with two or three others, stepped up close to them, showing the captain the side we intended to take. Neither of the mates moved, while the men folded their arms and looked on, showing that they did not intend to interfere.
"Very well, gentlemen," cried the captain, "I see how matters stand—you have been bribing the crew. I'll agree to wait for the boat, and if she does not come with the missing people we must give them up for lost."
"That depends upon circumstances," said Mr McIvor, returning his pistol to his belt. He and the rest continued to walk the deck, while the captain went, muttering threats of vengeance, into his cabin.
None of us after this turned in. In a short time the splash of oars was heard, and the boat came alongside. "We have come for food," said Mr Fraser, one of the gentlemen who had gone in her. "I intend going back at daylight, and must get two or three others to accompany me. We will then have a thorough search for Duncan and the boy—there is no doubt that they have lost their way, and if we fire a few muskets, they will, with the help of daylight, easily find the harbour. Mr McIvor promised to accompany his friend, and I volunteered to go also."
"No, Jack," said old Tom, "you remain with me. If we all go, the captain may be playing us some trick." I don't know what side old Tom would have taken if it had not been for young Sam. Judging by his usual conduct, I suspect that he would have stood with his arms folded, and let the rest, as he would have said, fight it out by themselves.
At daylight the boat pulled away with Mr McIvor and another additional hand, taking a couple of muskets with them. Shortly afterwards the captain appeared on deck—though he cast frequent angry glances towards the shore, he said nothing—probably he could not afford to lose so many hands, as there were now four away, besides the two gentlemen, while the aspect of old Tom, with the rest of the crew, kept him from attempting to carry out his evil intentions. Two or three times, notwithstanding this, I thought he was about to order the anchor to be hove up; but again he seemed to hesitate, and at length, towards noon, the boat was seen coming off, with Mr Duncan and Sam in her. The captain said nothing to the gentlemen, but, as soon as the boat was hoisted up, he began to belabour poor Sam with a rope's end. He was still striking the lad, when old Tom stepped between them, grasping a handspike. "What has the lad done, sir?" he exclaimed. "Why not attack Mr Duncan? If anyone is to blame for the delay, he is the person, not young Sam." The gentlemen were advancing while old Tom was speaking, and several of the crew cried out shame. The captain again found himself in the minority, and, without replying to old Tom, walked aft, muttering between his teeth.
These incidents will give some idea of the state of matters on board the ship.
We now made sail, with a gentle breeze right aft, but scarcely had we lost sight of the islands when a heavy gale sprang up. The lighter canvas was instantly handed—young Sam and one of the men who had gone in the boat were ordered out on the jibboom to furl the flying-jib. As they were about this work, a tremendous sea struck the bows, the gaskets got loose, the jibboom was carried away, and with it the two poor fellows who were endeavouring to secure the sail. The captain, who had seen the accident, took no notice of it, but the first mate, not wishing to have their death on his conscience, sprang aft and ordered the ship to be brought to, while others hove overboard every loose piece of timber, empty casks, or hencoops, which they could lay hands on, to give our shipmates a chance of escape. Old Tom and I instantly ran to the jolly-boat, and were easing off the falls, when I felt myself felled to the deck by a blow on the head, the captain's voice exclaiming, "What, you fools, do you wish to go after them and be drowned too?" When I came to myself I saw the boat made fast, and could just distinguish the articles thrown overboard floating astern, while old Tom was standing gazing at them with sorrowful looks, the eyes of all on board, indeed, being turned in the same direction.
"It would have been no use, Jack," he said, heaving a deep sigh; "the captain was right, the boat couldn't have lived two minutes in this sea, but I would have risked my life to try and save young Sam, though, for your sake, my boy, it's better as it is."
After this the ship was put on her course, and we stood on, plunging away into the heavy seas which rose around us, and threatened every instant to break on board the brig. The passengers looked, and, I daresay, felt very melancholy at the accident, for young Sam especially, was liked by them, and on that account Mr Duncan had taken him on his expedition. Old Tom could scarcely lift up his head, and even the rest of the crew refrained from their usual gibes and jokes. The captain said nothing, but I saw by the way he treated the first mate that he was very savage with him for the part he had taken in attempting to save the poor fellows.
After this old Tom was kinder than ever to me, and evidently felt towards me as he had towards young Sam, whose duties as everybody's servant I had now to take, being the youngest on board, and least able to hold my own against the captain's tyranny, and the careless and often rough treatment of the crew.
I had some time before told poor young Sam how I used to be called "Happy Jack," and he went and let out what I had said among the men. When one of them started me with a rope's end, he would sing out, "That's for you, 'Happy Jack.'" Another would exclaim, "Go and swab the deck down, 'Happy Jack;'" or, "'Happy Jack,' go and help Mungo to clean out the caboose, I hope you are happy now—pleasant work for a young gentleman, isn't it?"
"Look you," I replied one day, when this remark was made to me, "I am alive and well, and hope some day to see my home and friends, so, compared to the lot of poor young Sam and Dick Noland, who are fathoms deep down in the ocean, I think I have a right to say I am happy—your kicks and cuffs only hurt for a time, and I manage soon to forget them. If it's any pleasure to you to give them, all I can say is, that it's a very rum sort of pleasure; and now you have got my opinion about the matter."
"That's the spirit I like to see," exclaimed old Tom, slapping me on the back soon afterwards, "You'll soon put a stop to that sort of thing." I found he was right; and, though I had plenty of dirty work to do, still, after that, not one of the men ever lifted his hand against me. The captain, however, was not to be so easily conquered, and so I took good care to stand clear of him whenever I could.
The rough weather continued till we had made Cape Horn, which rose dark and frowning out of the wild heaving ocean. We were some time doubling it, and were several days in sight of Terra del Fuego, but we did not see anything like a burning mountain—indeed, no volcanoes exist at that end of the Andes.
The weather moderated soon after we were round the Horn, but in a short time another gale sprung up, during which our bulwarks were battered in, one of our boats carried away, our bowsprit sprung, and the foretop-sail, the only canvas we had set, blown to ribbons. Besides this, we received other damages, which contributed still further to sour our captain's temper. We were at one time so near the ironbound coast that there seemed every probability that we should finish off by being dashed to pieces on the rocks. Happily, the wind moderated, and a fine breeze springing up, we ran on merrily into the Pacific.
Shortly after, we made the island of Juan Fernandez, and, as I saw its wood-covered heights rising out of the blue ocean, I could not help longing to go on shore and visit the scenes I had read about in Robinson Crusoe. I told old Tom about my wish. Something more like a smile than I had ever yet seen, rose on his countenance. "I doubt, Jack, that you would find any traces of the hero you are so fond of," he observed; "I believe once upon a time an Englishman did live there, left by one of the ships of Commodore Anson's squadron, but that was long ago, and the Spaniards have turned it into a prison, something like our Norfolk Island."
STORY ONE, CHAPTER 5.
We, however, did call off another island in the neighbourhood, called Massafuera, to obtain a supply of wood and water. The ship was hove-to, and the pinnace and jolly-boat were sent on shore with casks. I was anxious to go, but old Tom kept me back. "You stay where you are, Jack," he said, "or the skipper may play you some trick. It's a dangerous place to land at, you are sure of a wetting, and may lose your life in going through the surf."
In the evening, when the party returned, I found this to be the case. Still, I might have been tempted, I think, to run off and let the ship sail away without me, as I heard that there were plenty of goats on the island, abundance of water, and that the vegetation was very rich.
It is also an exceedingly picturesque spot, the mountains rising abruptly from the sea, surrounded by a narrow strip of beach. Those who went on shore had also caught a large quantity of fish, of various sorts, as well as lobsters and crabs, which supplied all hands for several days.
Perhaps old Tom had a suspicion of what I might have been tempted to do, and I fancied that was his chief reason for keeping me on board.
The idea having once taken possession of my mind, I resolved to make my escape at the next tempting-looking island we might touch at, should I find any civilised men living there, or should it be uninhabited. I had no wish to live among savages, as I had read enough of their doings to make me anxious to keep out of their way, and I was not influenced by motives which induce seamen to run from their ships for the sake of living an idle, profligate life, free from the restraints of civilisation.
A few days after leaving Massafuera, we got into the trade winds, which carried us swiftly along to the northward. Again we crossed the equator; and about three weeks afterwards made the island of Owhyee, the largest of the Sandwich Islands. As we coasted along, we enjoyed the most magnificent view I had ever beheld. Along the picturesque shore were numerous beautiful plantations, while beyond it rose the rocky and dreary sides of the gigantic Mouna Eoa, its snow-clad summit towering to the clouds. It was on this island that Captain Cook was murdered by the now friendly and almost civilised natives, who have, indeed, since become in many respects completely so, and taken their place among the nations of the world.
We sailed on, passing several islands, when we brought up in the beautiful bay of Whytetee. Near the shore was a village situated in an open grove of cocoa-nut trees, with the hills rising gently in the rear, presenting a charming prospect. The more I gazed at it, the more I longed to leave the brig, and go and dwell there, especially as I heard that there were several respectable Englishmen and Americans already settled on the island, and that they were held in high favour by the king and his chiefs. Still old Tom had been so kind to me, and I entertained so sincere a regard for him, that I could not bear the thoughts of going away without bidding him farewell. I was afraid, however, of letting him know my intentions. Often I thought that I would try and persuade him to go too. I began by speaking of the beautiful country, and the delicious climate, and the kind manners of the people, and how pleasantly our countrymen, residing there, must pass their lives. "I know what you are driving at, Jack," he said, "You want to run from the ship; isn't it so?" I confessed that such was the case, and asked him to go with me. "No, Jack," he replied, "I am not one of those fellows who act thus; I have done many a thing I am sorry for, but I engaged for the voyage, and swore to stick by the brig; and while she holds together, unless the captain sets me free, I intend to do so. And Jack, though you are at liberty to do what you like, you wouldn't leave me, would you?" He spoke with much feeling in his tone. "Since young Sam went, you are the only person I have cared to speak to on board, and if you were to go, I should feel as if I were left alone in the world. I should have liked to have made friends with those fine young men, Duncan and McIvor. Once (you may be surprised to hear it) I was their equal in position, but they don't trouble themselves about such a man as I now am, and they will soon be leaving the brig for the shore. If I thought it was for your advantage, I would say, notwithstanding this, go; but it isn't. You will get into bad ways if you go and live among those savages—for savages they are, whatever you may say about them. And you will probably be able to return home by sticking to the brig sooner than any other way."
These arguments weighed greatly with me, and I finally abandoned my intention, greatly to old Tom's satisfaction. He redoubled his kindness to me after this. Towards every one else he grew more silent and reserved.
I may just say, that the next day we anchored off Honoluloo, the chief town, where the king and his court resided; and that we carried on some trading with the people, his majesty in particular, and taking some half-a-dozen Sandwich islanders on board to replace the men we had lost, and, as old Tom observed, any others we might lose, we sailed for the American coast.
From that day I could not help observing a more than usually sad expression on my friend's countenance; indeed, every day he seemed to become more and more gloomy, and I determined to ask him what there was on his mind to make him so. I took the opportunity I was looking for one night when he was at the helm, and the second mate, who was officer of the watch, had gone forward to have a chat, as he sometimes did, with the men. The night was fine and clear, and we were not likely to have eaves-droppers. "Tell me, Tom," I said, "what is the matter with you? I wish that I could be of as much use to you as you have been to me."
"Thank you, Jack," he answered; "the fact is, I have got something on my mind, and as you have given me an opportunity, I'll tell you what it is. I think I shall be the better afterwards, and you may be able to do for me what I shall never have an opportunity of doing myself, for, Jack, I cannot help feeling sure that my days are numbered. If that captain of ours wishes to get rid of me, he will find means without staining his hands in my blood, he will not do that, there are plenty of other ways by which I may be expended, as they say of old stores in the navy. For myself I care but little, but I should wish to remain to look after you, and lend you a helping hand should you need it."
"Thank you, Tom," I said, "I value the kind feelings you entertain for me, and I hope that we shall be together till we reach England again. But I was going to ask why you think that the captain wishes to get rid of you? He can have no motive that I can discover to desire your death."
"He hates me, that's enough; he's a man who will go any lengths to gratify his hate," answered old Tom. "But I promised to tell you about the matter which weighs on my mind. Jack, I did many things when I was a young man, which I am sorry for, but I was then chiefly my own enemy. A time came, however, when I was tempted to commit a crime against others, and it's only since I began this voyage that I have had a wish to try and undo it as far as I have the power. You must know, Jack, I am the son of a gentleman, and I went to college. I had got into bad ways there, and spent all my property. When my last shilling was gone, I shipped on board a merchant vessel, and for years never again set foot on the shores of old England. I knocked about all that time in different climes and vessels, herding with the roughest and most abandoned class of seamen, till I became almost as abandoned and rough as they were. Still, during all my wanderings, I had a hankering for the associates and the refinements of society I had so long quitted. Thoughts of home would come back to me even in my wildest moments, although I tried hard to keep them out. At length I returned to England with more money in my pocket than I had ever again expected to possess. Throwing aside my seafaring clothes as soon as I got on shore, I dressed myself as a gentleman, and repairing to a fashionable watering-place, where I found several old friends, managed to get into respectable society. I forgot that unless I could obtain some employment my money must soon come to an end. It did so, but the taste for good society had been revived in me. It was now impossible to indulge in it, and I was compelled once more to seek for a berth on board ship. Thoughtlessly, I had never studied navigation while I was at sea, and consequently had again to go before the mast. I got on board an Indiaman, and reached Calcutta. On the return voyage we had a number of passengers. I of course knew but little about them, as I seldom went aft except to take my trick at the helm. I observed, however, among them a gentleman of refined appearance, with his wife and their little boy. They had a native nurse to take care of him. No one could be more affectionate than the gentleman was to his wife and child, but he seemed of a retiring disposition, and I seldom saw him speaking to any one else. We had had particularly fine weather during the greater part of the passage, when the ship was caught in a tremendous gale. During it the masts were carried away, several of the hands—Lascars and Englishmen— were lost overboard, while she sprung a leak, which kept all the crew hard at work at the pumps.
"It became evident, indeed, before long, that unless the weather moderated the ship would go down. We had four boats remaining, but as they would not carry a third of the people on board, the captain ordered all hands to turn to and build rafts. We were thus employed when night came on; such a night I never before had seen. The thunder roared and the lightning flashed around us, as if it would set the ship on fire. Some hours passed away; we could get on but slowly with our work. I was on the after-part of the deck, when I remember seeing the gentleman I have spoken of come up and make an offer to the captain to lend a hand at whatever might be required to be done. I observed at the time that he had a small case hanging to his side. He did not seem to think that there was any danger of the ship going down for many hours to come; nor indeed did any one; for the leaks were gaining but little on the pumps, although they were gaining. He seemed so well to understand what he was about that I suspected he was a naval officer. We worked away hard, and it was nearly morning, when a dreadful peal of thunder, such as I had never heard before, broke over our heads, and it's my belief that a bolt passed right through the ship. Be that as it may, a fearful cry arose that she was going down. The people rushed to the boats. Discipline was at an end. The gentleman I spoke of shouted to the men, trying to bring them back to their duty. Then I saw him, when all hope of doing so had gone, hurry into the cuddy. Directly afterwards he came out with his wife and child, together with the nurse. Supposing, I fancy, that the boats were already full, or would be swamped alongside, he secured the nurse to the raft we had been building, and had given her the child to hold, calling on me and others to assist in launching it overboard, intending to take his place with his wife upon it. He was in the act of securing her—so it seemed to me—when the ship gave a fearful plunge forward, and a roaring sea swept over her. I at once saw that she would never rise again. On came the foaming waters, carrying all before them. Whether or not the gentleman and his wife succeeded in getting to the raft, I could not tell; there was no room, I knew, for me on it. Just before I had caught sight of one of the boats, which had shoved off with comparatively few people in her, dropping close under the ship's quarter. I sprang aft, and, leaping overboard, struck out towards her, managing to get hold of her bow as it dipped into the sea. I hauled myself on board. By the time I had got in, and could look about me, I saw the stern of the ship sinking beneath a wave, and for a moment I thought the boat would have been drawn down with her. Such fearful shrieks and cries as I never wish to hear again rose from amid the foaming sea, followed by a perfect and scarcely less terrible silence. We had but three oars in the boat, which we could with difficulty, therefore, manage in that heavy sea. Most of the men in her were Lascars, and they were but little disposed to go to the assistance of our drowning shipmates. There were three Englishmen in the after-part of the boat, and I made my way among the Lascars to join them. Even the Englishmen belonged to the least respectable part of the crew. They, however, sided with me, and, seizing a stretcher, I swore that I would brain the fellows if they would not try to pick up some of the drowning people. Two or three on this drew their knives, flourishing them with threatening gestures. Knowing them pretty well, I felt sure that if we did not gain the day, they would take the first opportunity of heaving us overboard; and with all my might I dealt a blow at the head of the man nearest me, who held his weapon ready to strike. The stretcher caught him as he was in the act of springing up, and he fell overboard, sinking immediately. 'Any more of you like to be treated in the same way?' I exclaimed. The wretches sank down in their seats, thoroughly cowed; but in the scuffle one of the oars was lost overboard, and was swept away before we could recover it. Some time was thus lost, and the boat had drifted a considerable distance from the spot where the Indiaman had gone down. We could hear, however, cries for help rising above the hissing and dashing sounds of the tumbling waters. Every instant I expected that the boat would be swamped; when at length the Lascars, who had the oars, were induced by my threats to pull away and keep her head to sea. I had taken the helm, and though we made no progress, the rafts and various articles which had floated up from the wreck came drifting down towards us, scattering far and wide over the tossing ocean. I caught sight of a boat and two or three other rafts, but they were too far off to enable me, through the gloom, to distinguish the people on them. The shrieks had gradually ceased; now and then the cry of some strong swimmer, who had hitherto bravely buffeted the sea, was heard ere he sank for the last time. Daylight was just breaking when, as I was standing up in the stern-sheets, I saw a person clinging to a piece of timber, and I determined, if possible, to save him. I pointed him out to the English seamen; and two of them, springing up, seized the oars from the hands of the Lascars, and by pulling away lustily we got up close to the spot. The man saw us coming. It was not without difficulty that we managed to haul him on board so as to avoid striking him or staving in the boat against the piece of wreck which had kept him up. To my surprise I found that he was the very gentleman who had assisted in forming the raft before the ship went down. I knew him by the case, which he still had secured to his side. He was so exhausted that for some minutes he could not speak, though he was evidently making an effort to do so. At length, beckoning me to put my ear down to his mouth, he asked in a low voice whether we had seen his wife and child, with the nurse. The only comfort I could afford him was by telling him that I had caught sight of several small rafts, and possibly they might be upon one of them. He had been washed away before he could secure himself when the ship foundered; and though he was carried down with her, on rising to the surface he had caught hold of the piece of wreck to which we had found him clinging.
"There we were, fourteen human beings in a small boat out in the middle of the Atlantic, the dark foaming seas surrounding us, without a particle of food or a drop of fresh water, while our two oars scarcely enabled us to keep her head to the sea, and save her from being capsized or swamped.
"I do not like to talk or even to think of the horrors which followed. Daylight had now come on, but all around was gloom, the dark clouds appearing like a pall just above our heads, and hanging round on either side, so as to circumscribe the horizon to the narrowest limits. Here and there I occasionally thought that I saw a few dark spots, which might have been the boats and rafts, or pieces of the wreck.
"The day passed by and there was no abatement of the gale. The Lascars had again taken the oars, but as night again approached, worn out with hunger and fatigue, they refused to pull any longer, and the gentleman offering to steer, the three other men and I took it by turns to labour at the oars.
"Thus the second night passed by. I had begun to feel faint and hungry, and to experience the pangs of thirst; and, judging by my own sensations, I felt sure that, should we not fall in with a ship during the coming day, some of my companions would give way. Another morning dawned, but no sail was in sight. One of the Lascars lay dead in the bows, the rest were stretched out under the thwarts, unable even to continue baling, and apparently no longer caring what might become of them. The gentleman, though the most delicate-looking of us all, held out the best. His eye was constantly ranging over the ocean in search of the raft or boat which might contain those he loved best on earth. I had great difficulty in persuading him to let me take the helm again while he got a little sleep.
"As the day drew on the gale moderated, and the sea went down. So weak were the three other Englishmen by this time, that I believe we should not otherwise have been able to prevent the boat being swamped. The Lascars were in a worse state. Two more died, and as their countrymen would not heave them overboard, we were obliged to do so. Eagerly we looked out for a sail, but none appeared. Before the next morning broke all the Lascars were dead, and I saw that one of my messmates was likely soon to follow them. Another, however, died before him, but ere the sun rose high in the heavens, he was gone.
"Besides the gentleman, only I and one man remained, the latter indeed was near his last gasp. I will not tell you what dreadful thoughts passed through my mind. Just then, as I was stooping down, I put my hand under the after seat. There, stowed away, was a large lump of grease. I felt round farther, and drew forth two bones with a considerable amount of meat on them. One of the dogs, I have no doubt, had made it his hiding place. The selfish thought came across me, that had the Lascars and the other two men been alive, this food would have gone very little way, but now it might support the existence of my two companions and me for another day or two. Eagerly I seized the putrid meat in my mouth, offering a piece to my companions. My messmate attempted to eat it, his jaws moved for a few seconds, then his head fell back. He had died in the effort. The gentleman could with difficulty swallow a few morsels. 'Water! water!' he muttered, 'without water it is too late.' I tried some of the grease, and felt revived.
"Not without difficulty we hove the last who had succumbed into the sea, and then the gentleman and I were alone. His spirits, which had hitherto kept up, were now, I saw, sinking. He beckoned me to sit close to him, and I saw that he was engaged in trying to loosen the strap which held the case to his side. 'You are strong, my friend,' he whispered, 'and may possibly survive till you are picked up, I feel that I can trust you. Take charge of this case—it contains an important document, and jewels and money of considerable value. Here, too, is a purse of gold, to that you are welcome,' and he handed me a purse from his pocket. 'The case I as a dying man commit to your charge, and solemnly entreat you to take care of it for the benefit of my widow and orphan child, for the belief is still strong within me that they survive. You will find within this metal case full directions as to the person to whom it is to be delivered.' He said this with the greatest difficulty, and it seemed as if he had exhausted all his strength in the effort. I promised to fulfil his wishes, and fully intended doing so. He took my hand, and fixed his eyes on me, as if he was endeavouring to read my thoughts. I tried to make him take some more food, but he had no strength to swallow it. Before the evening closed in he too was gone.
"I had not the heart at once to throw him overboard. As I stood looking at him, prompted I believe by the spirit of evil, an idea came into my head. Should I reach shore the purse of gold would enable me to enjoy myself for some time, and perhaps I might obtain permanent employment in a respectable position, instead of knocking about at sea. I took off the dead man's clothes, and dressed myself in them, though I was so weak that the task was a difficult one. I then lifted the body overboard. Having secured the box round my waist, I placed the metal case and purse in my pocket.
"I was alone, and though suffering greatly from thirst, I still felt that there was some life in me. I gazed around, but no sail was in sight. A light breeze only was blowing, and the sea had become tolerably calm, so eating a little more of the grease and meat, I lay down in the stern-sheets to sleep. I was awoke by feeling the water splashing over me. It was raining hard. There were two hats and a bucket in the boat. I quickly collected enough water to quench my thirst, and at once felt greatly revived. The rain continued long enough to enable me to fill the bucket. Had it not been for that shower I must have died.
"Two days longer I continued in the boat, when, just as the sun rose, my eyes fell on a sail in the horizon. How eagerly I watched her; she was standing towards me. Securing a shirt to the end of an oar, I waved it as high as I could reach. I was seen—the ship drew nearer. Being too weak to pull alongside I made no attempt to do so, and this being observed, the ship hove-to and lowered a boat, which soon had mine in tow. I was carefully lifted up the side, and on my dress being observed, I was at once treated as a gentleman. A cabin was given up to me, and every attention paid to my wants. I found that the ship was an emigrant vessel, outward bound, for Australia.
"I was some time in recovering my strength, and when I appeared among the passengers I took care to evade any questions put to me. I found the life on board very pleasant, and having purchased some clothes and other articles I was able to appear on an equality with the rest.
"We fell in with no other ship till Sydney was reached. I went on shore, purposing to amuse myself for a short time, and then return home and fulfil the dying request of my unfortunate companion in the boat. Would that I had gone on board a vessel sailing the very day of our arrival. Jack, never put off doing your duty, under the idea that it may be done a little time hence, lest that roaring lion we read of may catch hold of you and tempt you to put it off altogether. I remained on day after day, mixing in society, and rapidly spending my money. It was all gone, and then, Jack," and old Tom lowered his voice, "I did that vile deed—I broke open the box and took possession of the money I found within—the widow's and orphan's gold. I tried to persuade myself that they had certainly been lost. At first I only took the gold, intending to go home with the other articles; then I got to the notes. I had some difficulty in getting them changed, and was afraid of being discovered. At last I began to dispose of the jewels.
"At length I got a hint that I was suspected, and securing the case I once more dressed myself as a seaman, bought a chest, and got a berth on board a homeward-bound ship. I was miserable—conscience stung me—I could get no rest.
"The ship was cast away on the west coast of Ireland, and nearly all on board perished. I had secured about me the case, which still contained the parchment, the title-deeds of a large property, and a few jewels.
"I, with a few survivors, reached the shore. I was afraid to go back to England to deliver the case to the person to whom it was addressed, and so, making my way to Cork, where I found a ship bound for America, I went on board her.
"Jack, I have been knocking about ever since, my conscience never at rest, and yet not having the courage to face any danger I might incur, and make the only reparation in my power to those who, if still alive, I have deprived of their property. Now, notwithstanding what you say, there's something tells me that I have not long to live. I never had such a notion in my head before, but there it is now, and I cannot get rid of it. You are young and strong, and I want you to promise me, if you get home, to do what I ought to have done long ago. I will give you the case when we go below. Take it to the lawyer to whom it is addressed, and tell him all I have told you, and how it came into your possession, he'll believe you, I am sure, and though the money and most of the jewels are gone, the remainder will, I hope, be of value to the rightful owners."
I of course promised old Tom that I would do as he wished, at the same time I tried to persuade him to banish the forebodings which haunted him, from his mind. "That's more than I can do, Jack," he said, "I shouldn't mind the thoughts of death so much, if I could find the means of undoing all the ill I have done in the world—that's what tries me now." Unhappily neither I nor any one on board could tell the poor fellow that there is but one way by which sins can be washed away. I did indeed suggest that he should try and borrow a Bible from one of the gentlemen in the cabin, if they had one among them, for there was not one for'ard nor in the captain's or officers' berths.
When our watch was over, old Tom sat down on his chest, waiting till the rest of the watch had turned in and gone to sleep. He then cautiously opened his chest, and exhibited within, under his clothes, a small box, strongly bound with silver, and the metal case he had spoken of. "Here, Jack," he said, "I make you my heir, and give you the key of my chest: I'll tell the men to-morrow that I have done so, and let the captain and mates know it also, that there may be no dispute about the matter." I thanked old Tom, assuring him, at the same time, that I hoped not to benefit by his kindness.
In about three weeks we reached the mouth of the Columbia river. A strong gale from the westward had been blowing for several days, and as we came off the river a tremendous surf was seen breaking across the bar at its mouth. "I hope the captain won't attempt to take the vessel in," observed old Tom to me. "I have been in once while the sea was not so heavy by half as it is now, and our ship was nearly castaway." Still we stood on. Presently, however, the captain seemed to think better of it, and indifferent as he was to the lives of others, he apparently did not wish to lose his own, and the brig into the bargain. She was accordingly hauled to the wind, and we again stood off. It was only, however, to heave-to, when he ordered a boat to be lowered. He then directed the first mate to take four hands to go in her and sound the bar. The mate expostulated, and declared that the lives of all would be sacrificed in the attempt. "You are a coward, and are afraid," exclaimed the captain, stamping with rage. "Take old Tom and 'Happy Jack,' and two others," he called out their names. "No man shall justly say I am a coward," answered the mate; "I'll go, but I'll take none but volunteers. My death and theirs will rest on your head, Captain Pyke."
"I'll not go if the boy is sent," exclaimed old Tom; "but I am ready to go if another man takes his place."
"Let me go, Tom," I said; "if you and the mate go I am ready to accompany you."
"No, Jack, I'll do no such thing," answered my friend. "You stay on board. Unless others step forward the boat won't go at all. The bar is not in a fit state for the vessel to cross, much less an open boat." The captain, however, seemed determined to go into the river, and now ordered another man to go instead of me. "I'll make you pay for this another day," he cried out, looking at me. I saw the mate shaking hands with several on board before he stepped into the boat. "Remember the case, Jack," said old Tom as he passed me, giving me a gripe by the hand. "You have got the key, lad."
The boat shoved off and pulled towards the bar. I watched her very anxiously; now she rose to the top of a roller, now she was hidden by the following one. Every instant I expected her to disappear altogether. I couldn't help thinking of what old Tom had said to me. Some time passed, when the captain ordered the helm to be put up, and the brig was headed towards the bar. He had been looking with his glass, and declared he had seen the mate's signal to stand in. The wind by this time had moderated. The brig was only under her topsails and main-sail, and I began to wonder at the mate's apprehensions. We had not stood on long when I saw the boat to the northward of us, much nearer the breakers than we were. She seemed to be carried by beyond the control of those in her. A strong current had caught hold of her. Presently she passed, not a pistol shot from us. The three men were shouting and shrieking for aid; old Tom was in the bows, sitting perfectly still; I could even distinguish the countenance of the mate, as he turned it with a reproachful glance, so it seemed to me, towards the captain. Beyond her appeared a high wall of hissing, foaming breakers, towards which she was driving. The captain seemed scarcely to notice the unfortunate men; indeed his attention was occupied with attending to the brig, our position being extremely critical. I couldn't take my eyes off the boat. Would she be able even yet to stem the current and get back into smooth water? Suddenly, however, it seemed as if the wall of foaming breakers came right down upon her, and she disappeared amidst them. A cry of horror escaped me. "We may be no better off ere long," I heard one of the men exclaim. He had scarcely spoken when the brig struck, and the foaming waters leaped up on either side, as if about to break on board. Another sea came roaring on, and she again moved forward. Again and again the brig struck, and at last seemed fixed.
Darkness was coming on, the foaming waters roared around us, frequently breaking on board, and we had to hold on to escape being washed away. The hatches had been battened down, or the vessel would have filled. She must have been a strong craft, or she could not have held together. The passengers behaved like brave men, though they evidently thought that it was the captain's obstinacy which had brought them into their present perilous position.
Hour after hour passed by, with no object discernible beyond the foaming waters surging round us. The men declared that they could hear the shrieks and cries of our shipmates. The captain swore at them as fools for saying so, declaring that their voices must long since have been silenced by the breakers. Every instant it seemed that the brig must go to pieces, and that we should be carried away to share their fate. Suddenly, however, I felt the brig move. The topsails were let fall and sheeted home, and we once more glided forward. In another hour we were safely at anchor in a sheltered bay within the mouth of the river.
The next morning several natives came off to us in their canoes. They were red-skinned painted savages, but appeared inclined to be friendly. By means of Mr Duncan, who understood something of their language, they were told of the accident which had happened to the boat, and they undertook to search along the shore, in the possibility of any of the crew having escaped, and been washed on to the beach. On hearing of this my hopes of seeing old Tom again somewhat revived, though I scarcely believed it possible that any boat getting into those fearful breakers could have survived. Mr Duncan and two of the other gentlemen agreed to accompany the savages.
In the evening the boat which had taken them on shore was seen coming off. I anxiously watched her. Besides those who had gone away, I distinguished one other person, he turned his face towards the vessel as the boat approached, and, to my delight, I saw that he was old Tom. "And so you have escaped, have you?" said the captain, as he stepped on board. "Yes, sir, but the others have gone where some others among us will be before long," answered Tom, gloomily, "and those who sent them there will have to render an account of their deeds."
"What do you mean?" exclaimed the captain. "I leave that to others to answer," said Tom, walking forward.
He told me that the boat, on entering the surf, was immediately capsized, and that all hands were washed out of her. That he had managed to cling on with one man, and that when they got through the surf they had righted the boat, and picking up two of the oars, after bailing her out, had succeeded in paddling, aided by the current, some distance to the northward. On attempting to land the boat was again capsized. He had swam on shore, but the other poor fellow was drowned, and he himself was almost exhausted when met by the party who brought him back. "You see, Tom," I observed, "your prognostications have not come true, and you may still live to get back to old England again."
"Oh no, Jack, though I have escaped this once, I am very sure my days are numbered," he answered; do all I could, I was unable to drive this idea out of his head.
The crew were so indignant at the boat having been sent away, declaring that the captain wished to get rid of the mate and old Tom, that I felt sure another slight act of tyranny would produce a mutiny. While the gentlemen remained on board this was less likely to happen, but they were about to leave us, and take up their residence on shore.
Some time was occupied in landing their goods and stores, and then we found that we were to proceed to the northward, on a trading voyage with the Indians, and that Mr Duncan was to accompany us. We had also received on board an Indian, who had long resided with the whites, and who was to act as our interpreter.
A fair wind carried us over the bar, and, steering to the northward, we continued on for several days, till we brought up in a deep bay, on the shore of which was situated a large native village. Large numbers of the Indians came off in their canoes, with furs to exchange for cutlery, cotton goods, looking-glasses, beads, and other ornaments. Many of them were fine looking, independent fellows, but veritable savages, dressed in skins, their heads adorned, after their fashion, with feathers, shells, and the teeth of different animals. The captain treated them with great contempt, shouting at them, and ordering them here and there, as if they were beings infinitely inferior to himself. I saw them frequently turn angry glances at him, but they did not otherwise exhibit any annoyance. One day, however, he had a dispute with one of their chiefs about a matter of barter, when, losing his temper, he struck the savage and knocked him over on the deck. The Indian, recovering himself, cast a fierce glance at him, then, folding his arms, walked away, uttering some words to his companions, which we did not understand.