YACHT CLUB SERIES.
THE COMING WAVE
LEE & SHEPARD
THE YACHT CLUB SERIES.
THE COMING WAVE;
HIDDEN TREASURE OF HIGH ROCK
AUTHOR OF "YOUNG AMERICA ABROAD," "THE ARMY AND NAVY SERIES," "THE WOODVILLE STORIES," "THE STARRY FLAG SERIES," "THE BOAT CLUB STORIES," "THE LAKE SHORE SERIES," "THE UPWARD AND ONWARD SERIES," ETC., ETC.
WITH THIRTEEN ILLUSTRATIONS.
BOSTON: LEE AND SHEPARD, PUBLISHERS. NEW YORK: LEE, SHEPARD AND DILLINGHAM.
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1874, By WILLIAM T. ADAMS, In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
MY YOUNG FRIEND
ELMER ELLSWORTH HOLBROOK,
OF MEDWAY, MASS.,
IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED.
The Yacht Club Series.
1. LITTLE BOBTAIL; OR, THE WRECK OF THE PENOBSCOT.
2. THE YACHT CLUB; OR, THE YOUNG BOAT BUILDER.
3. MONEY MAKER; OR, THE VICTORY OF THE BASILISK.
4. THE COMING WAVE; OR, THE HIDDEN TREASURE OF HIGH ROCK.
5. THE DORCAS CLUB; OR, OUR GIRLS AFLOAT.
6. OCEAN BORN; OR, THE CRUISE OF THE CLUBS.
"THE COMING WAVE" is the fourth volume of the Yacht Club Series, and is an entirely independent story. Though the incidents are located on Penobscot Bay and relate largely to boats and yachting, the characters have not before been presented; but some of them will again be introduced in the subsequent volumes of the series. There is some breezy sailing in the story, and Penobscot Bay would not be properly described without the dense fog, upon which the turn of events depends in one of the chapters; nor is such a hurricane as that with which the story begins an unknown occurrence in these waters. Whatever interest the volume may possess, however, does not wholly depend upon the experience in fog and gale of the hero and his friends, for the plot is as much of the land as of the sea.
Leopold Bennington and Stumpy are the chief characters. They are both working boys, who earn their own living, and do nothing more surprising than other young men have done before them. They are fastidiously honest, and strictly upright, though they make mistakes like other human beings. They try to do their whole duty, sometimes under very difficult circumstances, and if other boys may not do exactly as they did in certain cases, they may imitate Leopold and Stumpy in having a high aim, and in striving to reach it. If young people only mean well, they can hardly fail to lead good and true lives, in spite of their errors of judgment, or even their occasional failures to do right.
July 10, 1874.
PAGE. CHAPTER I.
THE TEMPEST IN THE BAY, 11
THE LAST OF THE WALDO, 30
HARVEY BARTH'S DIARY, 48
STUMPY AND OTHERS, 67
HERR SCHLAGER, 86
MISS SARAH LIVERAGE, 105
SOMETHING ABOUT THE HIDDEN TREASURE, 123
AN IMPORTANT DISCOVERY, 142
COFFIN ROCK, 160
DOUBTS AND DEBTS, 178
IN THE FOG, 197
AN EXTENSIVE ARRIVAL, 216
THE EXCURSION TO HIGH ROCK, 235
THE FAIR THING, 254
THE WALDO'S PASSENGER, 273
GOLD AND BILLS, 293
THE FIRST OF JULY, 313
THE COMING WAVE, 332
THE COMING WAVE;
THE HIDDEN TREASURE OF HIGH ROCK.
THE TEMPEST IN THE BAY.
"Well, parsenger, we're likely to get in to port before long, if we only have a breeze of wind," said Harvey Barth, the cook and steward of the brig Waldo, in a peculiar, drawling tone, by which any one who knew the speaker might have recognized him without the use of his eyes.
The steward was a tall, lank, lantern-jawed man, whose cheek-bones were almost as prominent as his long nose. His face was pale, in spite of the bronze which a West India sun had imparted to it, and his hair was long and straight. He had a very thin beard of jet black, which contrasted strongly with the pallor of his face. His voice was hollow, and sounded doubly so from the drawl with which he uttered his sentences, and every remark he made was preceded by a single long-drawn hacking cough, which might have been caused by the force of habit or the incipient workings of disease. He was seated in the galley, abaft the foremast of the brig, and when the passenger showed himself at the door of the galley, he had been engaged in writing in a square record-book, which he closed the instant the visitor darkened the aperture of his den.
The passenger—the only one on board of the Waldo—was a short, thick-set man of about forty, whose name was entered on the brig's papers as Jacob Wallbridge, and his trunk bore the initials corresponding to this name. In his hand he had a pipe, filled full of tobacco, and it was evident that he had called at the galley only to light it, though the steward proceeded to infold his book in an ample piece of oil-cloth which lay upon the seat at his side. It was clear that he did not wish the passenger to know what he was doing, or, at least, what he had written, for he was really quite nervous, as he securely tied the book, and then locked it up in a box under the seat. Though Harvey Barth did not confess it then, it was, nevertheless, a fact that he had been writing in his book about the passenger who darkened his door, though what he wrote was not seen by any human eye until many months after the pen had done its office.
"I thought this morning we should get in to-night," replied the passenger, as he stepped inside of the caboose. "May I borrow a coal of fire from the stove, doctor?"
"Certain, if you can get one; but the fire is about out. You will find some matches in the tin box on your right," added the steward.
"I like to light my pipe in the old-fashioned way when I can. I don't mean to begin to suck in brimstone just yet," continued Wallbridge, as he succeeded in finding a coal, and soon had his pipe in working order. "What were you doing with that book, doctor? Do you keep a log of the voyage?"
"Well, ya-as," drawled the steward. "I keep a log of this voyage, and a log of the voyage of life. I've kept a diary ever since I taught school; and that's seven years ago, come winter."
"It must be worth reading. I should like to look it over, if we have to stay out here another day. I suppose you have seen a good deal of the world, if you have been to sea many years."
"No; I haven't seen much of the world. I never went but one voyage before this, and that was in a coaster, from New York to Bangor. The diary is only for my own reading, and I wouldn't let anybody look at it for all the world," answered Harvey Barth, with an even more painful cough than usual.
"Then you are not a great traveller," added Wallbridge, puffing away at his pipe, as he watched the sun sinking to his rest beyond the western waves.
"Bless you! no. I was brought up on a farm in York State. I used to keep school winters till the folks in our town began to think they must have a more dandified chap than I am."
"Where did you learn to cook, if you were a schoolmaster?"
"Well you see I was an only son, and my mother died when I was but sixteen. Father and I kept house together till he died, and I used to do about all the cooking. I had an idea then that I could do it pretty well, too," replied Harvey, with a sickly smile. "The old man got to drinking rather too much, and lost all he had and all I had, too. My health wasn't very good; I had a bad cough and night sweats. I was an orphan at twenty-four, and I thought I'd go to New York city, and take a little voyage on the salt water. I had about a hundred dollars I earned after the old man died; but a fellow in the city got it all away from me;" and Harvey hung his head, as though this was not a pleasant experience to remember.
"Ah! how was that?" asked Wallbridge.
"The fellow offered to show me round town, and, as I was kind of lonesome, I went with him. We called at a place to pay a bill he owed. He had a check for three hundred dollars; but the man he owed couldn't give him the change, so I lent him my hundred dollars, and took the check till he paid me. Then my kind friend went into another room; and that's the last I ever saw of him. I couldn't find him, but I did find that the check was good for nothing. I hadn't a dollar left. At one of the piers I came across a schooner that wanted a cook, and I shipped right off. Then the cap'n's nephew wanted to cook for him, after we got to Bangor, and I was out of a job. I worked in an eating-house for a while, cooking; but my health was so bad I wanted to go to a warm climate; so I shipped in this brig for the West Indies. It was warm enough there, but I didn't get any better. I don't think I'm as stout as I was when I left Bangor. I shall not hold out much longer."
"O, yes, you will. You may live to be a hundred years old yet," added Wallbridge, rather lightly.
"No; my end isn't a great way off," added the steward, with a sigh, as the passenger, evidently not pleased with the turn the conversation had taken, walked away from the galley.
Any one who looked at Harvey Barth would have found no difficulty in accepting his gloomy prediction; and yet he was, as events occurred, farther from his end than his companions in the brig. The steward sat before his stove, gazing at the planks of the deck under his feet. He was deeply impressed by the words he had uttered if the passenger was not. He had improved the opportunity, while the weather was calm to write up his diary, and perhaps the thoughts he had expressed on its pages had started a train of gloomy reflections. The future seemed to have nothing inviting to him, and his attention was fixed upon an open grave at no great distance before him in the pathway of his life. Beyond that he had hardly taught himself to look; if he had he would, doubtless, have been less sad and gloomy.
His work for the day had all been done; supper in the cabin had been served, and the beef and hard bread had been given to the crew two hours before. It was a day in August, and the sun had lingered long above the horizon. Harvey had finished writing in his diary when the passenger interrupted him; but, apparently to change the current of his thoughts, he took the book from the box, and began to read what he had written.
"I don't know what his name is, but I don't believe it's Wallbridge," said he, to himself, as the last page recalled the reflections which had caused him to make some of the entries in the book. "That wasn't the name I found on the paper in his state-room, though the initials were the same. I don't see what he changed his name for; but that's none of my business. I only hope he hasn't been doing anything wrong."
"My pipe's gone out," said Wallbridge, presenting himself at the door of the galley again. "I want another coal of fire."
The steward carefully secured his book again, and returned it to the box, while the passenger was lighting his pipe.
"Rather a still time just now," said the steward, alluding to the weather, as Wallbridge puffed away at his pipe.
"Dead calm," replied the passenger.
"We shall not get in to-morrow at this rate."
"Captain 'Siah says we shall have more wind than we want before morning," added the smoker. "He wishes the brig was twenty miles farther out to sea, for his barometer has gone down as though the bottom had dropped out of it."
"It looks like one of those West India showers," added the steward, as he glanced out at one of the doors of the galley.
The calm and silence which had pervaded the deck of the Waldo seemed to be broken. Captain 'Siah had given his orders to the mate, who was now shouting lustily to the crew, though there was not a breath of air stirring, and the brig lay motionless upon the still waters. The vessel was a considerable distance within the range of islands which separate Penobscot Bay from the broad ocean. The water was nearly as smooth as a mill-pond, and Harvey had found no more difficulty in writing in his diary than if the Waldo had been anchored in the harbor of Rockland, whither she was bound, though she had made the land some distance to the eastward of Owl's Head.
Harvey Bath walked out upon the deck, after putting on an overcoat to protect him from the chill air of the evening, for he felt that his life depended upon his precaution. In the south-west the clouds were dense and black, indicating the approach of a heavy shower. In the east, just as dense and black, was another mass of clouds; and the two showers seemed to be working up towards the zenith.
"Cast off the fore tack!" shouted the mate. "Let go the fore sheet!"
When this last order was given, it was the duty of the cook to execute it; and, ordinarily, this is about the only seaman's duty which the "doctor" is called upon to perform. Harvey promptly cast off the sheet, and the hands at the clew-garnets hauled up the foresail. The flying-gib and top-gallant sails had already been furled, and the canvas on the brig was soon reduced to the fore-topsail, fore-topmast staysail, and spanker; and these sails hung like wet rags, the vessel drifting with the tide, which now set up the bay.
The dense black clouds slowly approached the zenith, and it was dark before there appeared to be any commotion of the elements. As the gloom of the evening increased, the lightning became more vivid, the zigzag chains of electric fluid darting angrily from the inky masses of cloud which obscured the sky. The heavy thunder sounded nearer and more overhead, indicating the nearer approach of the two showers. Scarcely did the flashing lightning—almost instantly followed by the cannon-like crash of the thunder—blaze and peal on one side of the brig, before the flaming bolt and the startling roar were taken up on the other side, as though the two tempests on either hand were vying with each other for the mastery of the air.
Captain Josiah Barnwood, familiarly called, even by the crew, who were his friends and neighbors, Captain 'Siah, nervously walked his quarter-deck, after he had taken every precaution which a careful sailor could take; for, even if his practised eye had not taught him that there was wind in the clouds in the south-west, the barometer had earnestly admonished him of violent disturbances in the atmosphere. He had done everything he could for the safety of the brig, but he blamed himself—though without reason, for the change of weather had been sudden and unexpected—for coming into the bay when it was so near night. The brig was surrounded on nearly every side by rocky islands and numerous reefs, with the chances that thick weather would hide the friendly lights from his view. But it was a summer day, and, until late in the afternoon, when there was no wind to help him, no change could have been anticipated.
Captain 'Siah was nervous, though he was as familiar with the bay as he was with the apartments in his own house. He knew every island and head land, every rock and shoal, and the situation of every light-house; but the barometer had warned him of nothing less than a hurricane. The Waldo was an old vessel, and barely sea-worthy, even for a summer voyage, to the region of hurricanes. He had, therefore, many misgivings, as he paced the quarter-deck, watching the angry bolts of lightning, and listening to the deafening roar of the thunder. Occasionally he halted at the taffrail, and gazed into the thick darkness of the south-west, from which his experience taught him the tempest would come. Then, at the foot of the mainmast he halted again, to listen for any sound that might come over the waters from the eastward; but his glances in this direction were brief and hurried, for he expected the storm from the opposite quarter.
Again he paused at the taffrail, by the side of the man who stood idle at the wheel, for the brig had not motion enough to give her steerage-way. This time Captain 'Siah listened longer than usual. From far away to seaward, between the peals of thunder, came a confused, roaring sound. At the same time a slight puff of air swelled the sails of the brig, and the helmsman threw over the wheel to meet her, as the vessel began to move through the still waters.
"Haul down the fore-topmast staysail!" shouted Captain 'Siah, at the top of his lungs, a sudden energy seeming to take possession of his nervous frame.
"Ay, ay, sir," returned the mate; and almost at the same instant the captain heard the hanks rattling down the stay.
"It's coming down upon us like a tornado," said Captain 'Siah to the passenger who was smoking his pipe on the quarter-deck.
"Can I do anything, Captain 'Siah?" asked Wallbridge, who had been aroused from his lethargy by the energy of the captain.
"Yes; let go the peak-halyards of the spanker!" answered the captain, sharply, as he sprang to the throat-halyards himself.
The sail came down, and the passenger, who had evidently been to sea before, proceeded to gather up and secure the fluttering canvas, for the breeze was rapidly freshening.
"Furl the fore-topsail," cried the captain, with a kind of desperation, which indicated his sense of the peril of the brig.
"Ay, ay, sir," shouted the ready mate, who, in anticipation of the order, had manned the halyards, and stationed hands at the sheets and clewlines. "Let go the sheets! clew up—lively! Settle away the halyards! Ready at the bunt-lines—sharp work, boys! Aloft, and furl the topsail!"
"Set the main-staysail!" shouted the captain.
Captain 'Siah was an old-fashioned shipmaster, and the Waldo was an old-fashioned vessel. Everything on board was done promptly and skillfully in the old-fashioned way. The captain knew just where he was as long as he could see any of the objects around him, whether lights or the dark outlines of the rocky islands. His principal fear was, if the brig withstood the shock of the tempest, that she would drift upon some dangerous rocks, which were hidden by the waves after half-tide. They were situated off a large island, whose high, precipitous shores he could just discern, when the lightning illuminated the scene around him. This island and these perilous rocks were dead to leeward of the Waldo, and hardly a mile distant. With the aid of the staysail Captain 'Siah hoped—and only hoped—that he should be able to work his vessel out of the range of these dangers. But before the staysail could be set, and before the fore-topsail could be furled, a violent squall struck the brig. The fore-topsail was blown out of the hands of the four seamen who had gone aloft to secure it. So great was the fury of the tempest that in an instant the well-worn sail was torn into ribbons, and great pieces of it were blown away, like little white clouds played upon by the lightning. Worse than this, two of the men on the topsail-yard were wrenched from their hold on the spar, and hurled into the darkness beneath them, one falling into foaming waters, and the other striking senseless upon the deck.
Vainly, for a time, the mate, with four men to help him, struggled to set the staysail, upon which depended the safety of the brig from the savage rocks to leeward of her. At last they succeeded stimulated by the hoarse shouts of Captain 'Siah on the quarter-deck, though not till one of the four men had been struck insensible on the deck by the fierce blows of the sheet-block. The sail was hauled out finally by the exertions of the mate. The helmsman met her at the wheel, and the Waldo heeled over till the water poured in over her lee bulwarks. At this moment, the staysail, too flimsy from age to stand the strain upon it, was blown out of the bolt-ropes, with an explosion like a cannon, and went off like a misty cloud into the darkness. The hour of doom seemed to have overtaken the Waldo; but in spite of the misfortunes that overwhelmed her, Captain 'Siah did not abandon hope, or relax his exertions to save the vessel.
"Set the fore-topmast staysail!" hoarsely yelled the captain. "Send four hands aft to set the spanker!"
Captain 'Siah did not know, when he gave this order, that three of his nine hands had been disabled, and the mate sent only three men aft, one of whom told the captain of the accident. But the passenger was as zealous and willing as even the mate. In order to save his canvas, the captain ordered the spanker to be balance-reefed. The stops were taken off, and the master assisted in the work with his own hands.
"Jam your helm hard down!" he cried to the man at the wheel. "If we can get her head up to the wind, we may be able to set these sails."
All hands worked with desperate energy, and it required all their strength to prevent the canvas from being blown out of their hands. The savage wind upon her bare hull and spars had given the brig steerage-way, and when the man at the helm threw the wheel over, the head of the vessel began to come up to the wind. Captain 'Siah was hopeful, and he encouraged the men at the spanker to renewed exertions. He saw that the mate had partially succeeded in setting the head sail, and the chances were certainly much better than they had been a moment before. Perhaps, if no greater calamity than that which came on the wings of the stormy wind had befallen the brig and her crew, she might possibly have been saved.
The shower from the south-west and that from the east, had apparently come together above the devoted vessel. The lightning was more frequent and vivid, the thunder followed each flash almost instantaneously; and Captain 'Siah realized that the clouds were but a short distance above the brig. But he heeded not the booming thunder or the glaring lightning, only as the latter enabled him to see the work upon which the mate and himself were engaged. The captain, aided by the passenger, was lashing the throat of the gaff down to its place, when a heavy bolt of lightning, accompanied at the same instant by a terrific peel of thunder, struck the main-royal mast-head, and leaped down the mast in a lurid current of fire. At the throat of the main-boom it was divided, part of it following the mast down into the cabin and hold, and the rest darting off on the spar, where the captain, the passenger, and three men were at work on the spanker. Every one of them was struck down, and lay senseless on the deck. Even the man at the wheel shared their fate, though no one could know who were killed and who were simply stunned by the shock. The lightning capriciously leaped from the boom to the metal work of the wheel, shattering the whole into a thousand pieces, and splintering the rudder-head as though it had been so much glass.
The rudder was disabled, the fore-topmast staysail was rent into ribbons, and the brig fell off into the trough of the sea, where she rolled helplessly at the mercy of the tempest.
THE LAST OF THE WALDO.
The storm which swept over the waters of the lower bay, lashing them into a wild fury, and piling up the angry waves upon them, was not merely a squall; it was a hurricane, which raged for half an hour with uninterrupted violence. From the time the tempest struck the Waldo, she had been drifting towards the dangerous rocks; and when the wheel and rudder-head were shattered, the vessel became unmanageable. Six men, including the captain and the passenger, lay paralyzed on the quarter-deck. There were only three left—the mate, the steward, and one seaman. When the steering apparatus was disabled, the brig fell off, and rushed madly before the hurricane, towards the dangerous reefs. The rain had been pouring down in torrents for a few moments, but little cared the seamen for that which could not harm the vessel.
Harvey Barth was not, and did not pretend to be, a sailor. When the storm burst upon the vessel, he retired to the galley. When the moments of peril came, he was alarmed at first; but then he felt that he had only a few months, or a year or two at most, of life left to him, and he tried to be as brave as the sailors who were doing there utmost to save the brig from destruction. Perhaps it would have been a pleasure to him in the last days of his life to do some noble deed; but there was only the drudgery of the common sailor to be done. He saw the man from the topsail yard strike heavily upon the deck. He dragged him into the galley, but he seemed to be dead. The steward had tender feelings, and he tried to do something to restore the unconscious sailor. While he was thus engaged, the mate summoned him to assist in setting the fore-topmast staysail. He obeyed the call, though it was the first time he was ever called upon to do any duty, except to make fast, or cast off the fore-sheet. He was not a strong man, but he did the best he could at the halyard, and the mate was satisfied with him.
The bolt of lightning which came down the mainmast seemed to shake and shatter the brig, and the hands forward were terribly startled by the shock. Then the sail they were setting was torn in pieces. The mate who had worked vigorously and courageously, saw that all they had done was useless. The vessel fell off, and rushed to the ruin that was in store for her.
"It is all up with us," said Mr. Carboy, the mate, as he dropped the halyard. "Nothing can save the brig now."
"What shall we do?" asked Harvey Barth, startled by the words of the officer. "Must we drown here?"
"We shall do what we can to save ourselves," replied Mr. Carboy, as he made his way with no little difficulty to the quarter-deck, in order to ascertain the condition of things, for he was not aware of the havoc which the lightning had made among his shipmates.
A flash of the electric fluid streamed along the mass of black clouds at this instant, and disclosed to him the situation of his companions. He was shocked by the sight, and even his strong frame was shaken by the fearful scene which for an instant only was visible to him. He recognized the captain, but he seemed to be dead. Next to him was the passenger, who was getting upon his feet again, apparently not much injured by the bolt. Not another of the six men who lay on the quarter-deck moved, or exhibited any signs of life. The mate,—in whose mind the situation of each of his unfortunate shipmates was fixed in such a way that he could not have forgotten the scene if he had lived to be a hundred years old,—went to each man, but could discover no indications of vitality in them. He was thinking of saving his own life, but it was awful, and terribly repulsive to his sense of humanity to consider the idea of abandoning the vessel while these men, who might be only stunned by the shock lay on her deck.
"What's to be done, Mr. Carboy?" asked the passenger, when another flash revealed to him the presence of the mate; "we shall be on the rock in another moment."
"We have two boats, but we can't get them into the water in this weather. It blows harder and harder," replied the mate.
The passenger said no more, but, guided by the vivid lightning, he rushed down the companion-way into the cabin of the brig; but in another moment he returned with a small, but heavy package in his hand. When the mate went aft, Harvey Barth visited the galley, and took from the box his diary, still carefully envelloped in the oil-cloth. This book was the repository of the few valuables he possessed, but whether it was for the diary, or the treasures it contained, that he was so anxious to save it at that trying moment, we may not know. He stuffed the book inside of his guernsey shirt, which he buttoned tightly over it. Then he crawled to the quarter-deck by holding on at the bulwarks; and here all the survivors of the tempest and the lightning met, as the passenger came up from the cabin.
The brig rose and fell on the savage waves, and still dashed madly on towards the rocks. She lay broadside to the hurricane, so that her progress was slower than it would otherwise have been. His companions looked to the mate, whose skill and courage had inspired their confidence, to point out the means of safety, if there were any means of safety in such a tempest. The brig had evidently shifted her cargo in the hold, for she had heeled over until the water was a foot deep in the lee scuppers.
"It will be all over with the Waldo in two minutes more," said Wallbridge, in a loud voice, which was necessary in order to make himself heard above the roar of the tempest.
"I don't know this part of the bay very well," replied Mr. Carboy in the same loud tone.
"We shall strike on a ledge in a minute or two."
"Then we will be ready for it," added the mate, taking from within the fife-rail at the foot of the mainmast a couple of sharp axes, which were kept for just such emergencies as the present.
"We haven't time to cut away the masts," protested Wallbridge, as a flash of lightning revealed the axes in the hands of the mate.
"I am not going to cut away the masts. The jolly-boat wouldn't live a moment in this sea, and we must get the whale-boat overboard," answered the mate, as he went down into the waist, where the boat was locked up. "Here, Burns, cut away the lee bulward," he shouted to the only remaining seaman of the brig.
"Give me the other axe," said Wallbridge. "I know how to use it."
"Good! Make quick work of it," added Mr. Carboy. "Here, steward, bear a hand at this boat."
The passenger carefully deposited in the fore-sheets of the whale-boat the heavy bundle he had brought up from the cabin, and seizing the axe, he applied himself vigorously to the labor of cutting away the bulwark.
The mate and steward cleared away the boat, and swung it around so that the stern was headed towards the opening. But while the passenger and the seaman were delivering their blows with the axes as well as the uneasy motion of the vessel would permit, the brig rose on the sea, and came down with a most tremendous crash. Over went the mainmast, shattered at the heel by the bolt of lightning. The planks and timbers of the Waldo snapped and were ground into splinters as the hull pounded upon the sharp rocks. The sea began to break over the deck, as the vessel settled.
"Give me that axe, Burns," yelled the mate, as he sprang to the seaman, and snatched the implement from his hands. "Clear away the wreck," he added to the passenger.
Aided by the frequent flashes of lightning, the mate and Wallbridge cut away the braces and other rigging which encumbered the waist, and impeded the launching of the whale-boat. In a few moments it was all clear. Harvey Barth, aware of his own weakness, had already seated himself in the boat, which was ready, and almost floated on the deck when the heavy seas rolled over it.
"Into the boat!" called the mate, as he stood at the bow of it. "Take an oar, Mr. Wallbridge."
The passenger obeyed the order. Enough of the bulwarks had been cut away to allow the passage of the boat. Mr. Carboy waited till a heavy billow swept over the deck of the brig, and then pushed her off into the boiling waves, leaping over the bow, as it cleared the vessel.
"Give way!" he shouted, as the whale-boat was swept away from the brig. "Keep her right before it."
But the mate was not satisfied with the efforts of Burns, the seaman, and took the oar from his hand.
Half buried in the whelming tide, the whale-boat dashed through the waves towards the high cliffs of the rocky island. She had scarcely left the brig before it broke in two in the middle; the foremast toppled over into the water, and the after portion disappeared in the waves, as they were lighted up by the repeated flashes from the dark clouds.
"We shall be dashed in pieces on the rocks!" exclaimed the mate, as he turned his gaze from the remaining portion of the Waldo to the lofty cliffs on the island.
"No; there is a beach under the rocks," replied Wallbridge. "I know the place very well. Let her go ahead, and we must take our chances in the surf."
"If there is a beach we shall do very well," replied the mate, pulling vigorously at his oar to keep the boat before the wind; for he knew that, if she fell off into the trough of the sea, she would be instantly swamped.
But the distance was short between the ledge and the shore, and in a moment more the boat struck heavily upon the gravelly beach, which was, at this time of tide, not more than ten feet wide, and the waves already rolled over it against the perpendicular rocks. With one consent, the four men leaped from the boat into the surf. The mate carried the painter on shore with him, and endeavored to swing around the boat, which had come stern foremost to the beach. Burns imprudently moved out into the surf to assist him, when the undertow from a heavy wave swept him far out into the angry sea. In the mean time, Wallbridge and Harvey Barth retreated towards the cliff. The tide was still rising, and the beach afforded but partial shelter from the fury of the billows.
"This is no place for us," said Wallbridge, gloomily.
"I don't think it is," drawled Harvey. "We can't stand it here a great while."
"But I will make sure of one thing," added the late passenger of the Waldo. "I have twelve hundred dollars in gold in my hand, and it may be the means of drowning me."
"Gold isn't of much use to us just now," sighed Harvey, indifferently, as he glanced around him to ascertain if there were any means of escape to the high rocks above; but no man could climb the steep cliff beside him.
"I worked two years in Cuba for this money, and I don't like to lose it," said Wallbridge. "But I don't mean to be drowned on account of it."
As he spoke he kneeled down on the beach, and scooped out of the sand and gravel a hole about a foot deep, into which he dropped the bag of gold.
"Under that overhanging rock," said he, fixing in his mind the locality of his "hidden treasure;" "I shall be able to find it again when I want it."
"I hope you will," answered Harvey Barth, looking up at the mark indicated by his companion.
It was little he cared for gold then, and leaving the owner of the treasure to consider more particularly the place where he had buried it, he walked along under the cliff in search of some shelter from the billows, which every moment drenched him in their spray. He moved on some distance, till an angle in the cliff carried it out into the deep water. He had come to the end of the beach, and he halted there in despair. He felt that there was no alternative but to lie down and die in the angry waves, for it was better to be drowned than to be dashed to pieces on the jagged rocks. A bright flash of lightning, followed by a fearful crash of thunder, as though the bolt had struck upon the land near him, illuminated the scene for an instant. That flash, which might have carried death and destruction in its path on the land, kindled a new hope in the bosom of Harvey Barth, for it revealed to him an opening in the angle of the rock. The cliff seemed to have been rent asunder, and a torrent of fresh water was pouring down through it from the high land above.
Harvey entered the opening, walking with difficulty over the large, loose stones, rounded by the flow of the stream. The ascent was steep, and the torrent of water that poured down through the ravine increased the trials of its passage. But the wrecked wanderer felt that he was safe from the fury of the savage waves. When he came to a flat rock, only a few feet above the beach, upon which he could step out of the little torrent, he paused to rest and recover his breath. Then he thought of his companions in misery, exposed to the peril of the sweeping billows and the more terrible rocks. He was not a selfish man, and the thought caused him to retrace his steps to the entrance of the ravine. Here he halted, and shouted with all his might to his shipmates; but his voice was weak at the best, and no response came to his cries. The dashing of the sea and the roaring of the tempest drowned the sound.
After finding a place of safety, he could not leave his companions to perish. The tide was still rising, increased and hastened by the furious hurricane which drove the waters in this direction. The beach was more dangerous than when he had crossed it before, but the steward, in spite of his weakness, reached the spot where the passenger had buried his gold. Neither the mate nor Wallbridge was there; and the whale-boat had also disappeared. With the greatest difficulty, Harvey succeeded in regaining the opening in the rock. Several times he was knocked down by the billows, and once he was thrown with considerable force against the cliff. Bruised and exhausted, he seated himself on the flat rock again, to recover his breath and the little strength he had left.
Wallbridge and the mate were appalled at the fate of Burns, though they did not know that a broken spar from the wreck had struck him on the head, and deprived him of the use of his powers. The whale-boat was hauled around, head to the beach, but the waves swept it far up towards the rocks, which threatened its destruction in a few moments more. Then they missed Harvey, and both of them shouted his name with all the vigor of their strong lungs; but the steward did not hear them.
"The sea has swept him away," said the mate, sadly.
"Or dashed him against the rocks," added Wallbridge. "It will be the same with us in a short time. I didn't think the tide was up so far, or I should have known better than to land here."
"I would rather take my chance on the wreck," continued Mr. Carboy, who still held the painter of the boat. "I think it is moderating a little."
"Not much; but do you think we can get off in the whale-boat?" asked Wallbridge.
"We may but it is death to stay here ten minutes longer."
"That's true; for common tides rise to the foot of the rocks. We can't stand up much longer."
"Now's our time!" exclaimed the mate. "The wind lulls a little. It can't be any worse on the wreck than it is here."
The hurricane had certainly subsided a little, and with a vigorous effort the two stout men shoved the whale-boat down the steep declivity into the deep water. Keeping her head to the sea, with the oars in their hands they leaped into the boat as a receding billow carried her far out from the beach.
"Now, give way!" cried the mate; and with lusty strokes they pulled against the advancing sea.
The boat was light, and the two rowers were powerful men, thoroughly experienced in the handling of boats under the most trying circumstances. They succeeded in getting clear of the beach, however, only by the favoring lull of the tempest. They pulled dead to windward, for Mr. Carboy dared not risk the boat in the trough of the sea, even for a moment. This direction brought them, after a desperate pull, to the wreck of the Waldo, only the forward part of which remained. This portion appeared to the mate to be wedged in between a couple of rocks, now hidden by the waves, for it did not rise and fall with the billows. He stated his belief to Wallbridge, and they agreed that the wreck would be the safest place for them. The passenger spoke of a good harbor but a short distance to the northward, but Mr. Carboy declared that the whale-boat would be swamped in the attempt to reach it.
Under the lee of the wreck, the sea was comparatively mild, and the mate fastened the painter of the boat to the bobstay of the brig. Without much difficulty, the two men climbed to the forecastle of the vessel, which was still above the water. Doubtless Mr. Carboy was right in regard to the position of the wreck on the rocks, but the sea dashed furiously against the broken end of the hulk. The hurricane renewed its violence, and as the tide rose, the waves swept over the two men. But the rising sea did worse than this for them. It loosened the cargo, consisting in part of hogsheads of molasses; and they rolled down into the deep water. Relieved of this weight, the tide lifted the wreck from between the rocks; the hulk rolled over and disappeared beneath the white-crowned waves, dragging the whale-boat down with it. The movement was so sudden that the mate and the passenger had no time to save themselves, if there had been any means of doing so, and they went down with the wreck. After a hard struggle for life, they perished.
Harvey Barth alone was spared, and he rested on the flat rock in the ravine till his wasted breath and meagre strength were regained. Then he continued his weary ascent till he reached the summit of the cliffs, where he saw the boat made fast to the wreck, and the mate and passenger clinging to the forestay. In the next glare of the lightning, with a thrill of horror, he saw the hulk topple over and disappear in the mad waves.
Harvey Barth, the sick man, was the only one of the dozen persons on board of the Waldo who was left alive in half an hour after the hurricane burst upon her; and she was not the only vessel that foundered or was dashed upon the rocks in that terrific storm, nor the only one from whose crew only a single life was spared. The tempest and the lightning had done their work; and when it was done, the dark clouds rolled away, the lightning glared no more, the winds subsided, and the sea was calm again. Later in the night, the wind came cold and fresh from the north-west, and swept away from the narrow beach the wounded body of Burns, and nearly every vestige of the wreck. The rising sun of the next morning revealed hardly a trace of the terrible disaster.
"HARVEY BARTH, HIS DIARY."
Harvey Barth stood on the high cliff and wept; not in a poetical sense, but cried like a little child, and the hot tears burned on his cold, thin pale cheeks. Captain 'Siah had always used him well; the rough mate had been kind to him; and the seamen, most of whom, like himself, were farmers' sons, had been friendly during the three months they were together. Even the passenger often seated himself in the galley to talk with him, as he smoked his pipe. Now they were all gone. So far as Harvey knew, every one of them, from the captain to the humblest seaman, had perished, either by the bolt from the clouds or in the mad waters. It was barely possible that the mate or passenger had escaped from the wreck on which they had taken refuge, as they had the whale-boat with them.
Harvey Barth, who had often told his shipmates that he had not much longer to live, was the only one saved from the whole ship's company. It seemed to him very strange that he should be spared while so many stronger men had been suddenly swept away. He dared not believe that any one else had been saved, and he could not but regard himself as a monument of the mercy, as well as of the mysterious ways of Providence. He thanked God from the depths of his heart that he was saved, and he was almost willing to believe that he might yet escape the fate to which his malady had doomed him.
The hurricane subsided almost as suddenly as it had commenced; the sea abated its violence, and the booming thunder was heard only in the distance. The black clouds rolled away from the westward, and the stars sparkled in the blue sky. The steward was wet to the skin, and he shivered with cold. Where he was he had not the least idea. On the distant shore he could see the light-houses, but what points of land they marked he did not know. He was on the solid land, and that was the sum total of his information. He was well nigh worn out by the exertions and the excitement of the evening, but, turning his back to the treacherous ocean which had swallowed up all his friends, he walked as rapidly as his strength would admit, in order to warm himself by the exercise. From the cliffs the land sloped upward, but he soon reached the top of the hill, on which he paused to take an observation. From the point where he stood there was a much sharper descent before him than on the side by which he had come up. At the foot of the hill he saw two lights, then a sheet of water, and beyond a multitude of lights indicating a considerable village.
The nearest light appeared not to be over half a mile distant, and the pale moon came out from behind the piles of black clouds to guide his steps. The cold north-west wind had begun to blow, and it chilled the wanderer to his very bones. He quickened his steps down the declivity, and soon reached a rude, one-story dwelling, at the door of which he knocked. He saw the light in the house, but no one answered his summons, and he repeated it more vigorously than before. Then a window was cautiously thrown open a few inches.
"Who's there?" asked a woman.
"A stranger," replied Harvey, shivering with cold, so that he could hardly utter the words.
"My husband's over to the village, and I can't let no strangers in at this time of night," added the woman.
"I've been cast away on the coast, and I'm really suffering," drawled the steward, in broken sentences.
"Cast away!" exclaimed the wife of the man who was over at the village, as she dropped the sash.
The terrible storm which had spent its fury upon sea and land was enough to convince her that men might have been shipwrecked; and this was not the first time that those treacherous ledges off High Rock, as the cliff was called, had shattered a good vessel. The woman hastened to the door, and threw it wide open. The pale, shivering form of Harvey Barth, the overcoat he wore still dripping with water, was enough to satisfy her that the visitor had no evil intentions.
"Come in," said she; and when the steward saw the comfortable room in the house, he required no second invitation. "Why, you are shivering with cold!"
"Yes marm; I'm not very well, and getting wet don't agree with me," replied Harvey, his teeth still chattering.
The room to which he was shown was the parlor, sitting-room, and kitchen of the cottage. On the hearth was a large cooking-stove, in which the woman immediately lighted a fire. She piled on the dry wood till the stove was full, and in a few moments the room was as hot as the oven of the stove.
"It's no use," said the housekeeper, who had seated herself to rock the cradle; "you are wet through to your skin; and you can't get warm till you put on dry clothes."
She went to a closet and took out her husband's Sunday clothes a woolen undershirt, and a pair of thick socks. Harvey thought of Paradise when he saw them, for he was so chilled that to be warm again seemed to him the climax of earthly joy. The woman laid them on the bed in an adjoining chamber, and then begged him to put them on. He needed no urging, and soon his trembling limbs were encased in the warm, dry clothes. The coat and pants were much too short for him, but otherwise they fitted very well. When he came out of the chamber, with his wet clothes in his hands, he found a cup of hot tea on the table waiting for him.
"Now drink this," said his kind host. "It will help to warm you up; and I will put your things where they will dry."
Harvey drank the tea, and the effect was excellent. A short time before the stove restored the warmth to his body, and he began to feel quite comfortable.
"I feel good now," said he, with a sickly smile. "I'm really a new man."
"Now I wish you would tell me about the wreck," added the woman, as she rocked the cradle till it was a heavy sea for the baby, which threatened it with shipwreck.
"Certainly; I'll tell you all about it," replied Harvey.
He started his story at the West India Islands; but, with his drawl and his hacking cough, he made slow progress. He had not reached the coast of Maine when the woman's husband arrived. Of course he was astonished to find a stranger so comfortably installed in his house; but when his wife explained who the steward was, he became as hospitable and friendly as his wife had been.
"This is my husband, John Carter," said the woman, as the man of the house seated himself at the stove.
"My name is Harvey Barth," added the shipwrecked. "I was cook and steward of the brig Waldo; but she is gone to pieces now."
"Sho! you don't say so!" exclaimed John Carter. "Why, I made a voyage to Savannah myself in the Waldo, before I was married!"
"You will never make another in her. She broke into two pieces, which rolled over and went to the bottom," added Harvey.
"You don't say so! Was Captain Barnwood in her?"
"Yes, he was. Cap'n 'Siah, as we all called him—"
"So did we," interposed John Carter, with a smile.
"Cap'n 'Siah was as nice a man as ever trod a quarter-deck."
"So he was."
"He's gone now," sighed Harvey.
"Was he lost?"
"Yes sir; he was knocked stiff by the lightning, with half a dozen others."
"Sho! Was the brig struck by lightning?"
"She was. It came down the mainmast and knocked the wheel into a thousand pieces. When the steering-gear gave out, we couldn't do anything more. I'm the only one of twelve men and a passenger that was saved."
Harvey Barth commenced his story anew, when the astonishment of John Carter had abated a little, and gave all the particulars of the voyage and the wreck and all the details of his personal history since he kept school in "York State." It was midnight when he had finished, and the details were discussed for an hour afterwards. Mrs. Carter had brought on more hot tea, with pie and cheese, and other eatables, which the steward had consumed in large quantities, for one of the features of his malady was a ravenous appetite. John Carter, who had been detained at the village by the violence of the storm, was as hospitable as any one could be, and Harvey slept that night in the best bed in the house.
After breakfast the next morning he brought out the oil-cloth which contained his diary. He had carefully concealed it when he changed his clothes, and he was now anxious to know whether it had escaped serious injury in the storm. He unfolded the oil-cloth before John Carter and his wife. To his great satisfaction, he found it unharmed by the floods of water which had drenched him. The water-proof covering had secured it even from any dampness.
Harvey opened the book at a certain place, and exhibited between the leaves a thin pile of bank notes—the whole of his worldly wealth, for, as the Waldo was a total loss, the wages that were due him on account of the voyage were gone forever. But there was fifty-two dollars between the leaves of the diary. He had come from home with a good stock of clothing, and had saved nearly all he had earned, including his advance for the West India voyage. At Havana Mr. Carboy had the misfortune to lose his watch overboard, and, as he needed one, Harvey had sold him his—a very good silver one—for twenty-five dollars.
"Now Mr. Carter, I want to pay you for what I've had," drawled Harvey, as he opened the diary, and exposed his worldly wealth.
"Pay me!" exclaimed John Carter, with something like horror in his tones and expression; "take any money from a brother sailor who has been wrecked! I don't know where you got such a bad opinion of me, but I would starve to death, and then be hung and froze to death, before I'd take a cent from you!"
"I am willing to pay for what I've had, and I shall be very much obliged to you besides," added Harvey.
"Not a red. Put up your money. I don't feel right to have you offer it, even," said the host, turning away his head.
"I've always paid my way so far; but I don't know how much longer I shall be able to do so. I'm very thankful to you and Mrs. Carter for what you've done, and I shall write it all down in my diary as soon as I get a chance."
"You are welcome to all we've done; and we only wish it had been more," replied Mrs. Carter.
"I don't think I shall go to sea any more," added Harvey, gloomily. "I have friends in York State, and I have money enough to get back there. That's all I want now. If you will tell me how I can get to New York, I'll be moving on now. I haven't got long to stay in this world, and I mean to spend the rest of my days where I was born and brought up."
"A steamer comes over to the village about three times a week, and she will be over to-day or to-morrow. I will row you over if you say so; but I shall be glad to take care of you as long as you will stay here."
"I'm much obliged to you; but I think I had better go over this forenoon."
Half an hour later the steward shook hands with Mrs. Carter and bade her adieu. John pulled him across the river, as it was called,—though it was more properly a narrow bay, into which a small stream flowed from the high lands farther inland. The village was called Rockhaven, and was a place of considerable importance. It had two thousand tons of fishing vessels; but the granite quarries in the vicinity were the principal sources of wealth to the place Latterly Rockhaven, which was beautifully situated on high land overlooking the waters of the lower bay, had begun to be a place of resort for summer visitors.
The western extremity of the village extended nearly to the high cliffs on the sea-shore, and the situation was very romantic and picturesque. The fishing was the best in the bay, and the rocks were very attractive to people from the city. The harbor had deep water at any time of tide. For a summer residence, the only disadvantage was the want of suitable hotels or boarding-houses. Of the former there were two, of the most homely and primitive character, and not many of the inhabitants who had houses suitable for city people were willing to take boarders.
John Carter pulled his passenger across the harbor, and walked with him to the Cliff House, near the headlong steeps which bounded the village on the west. He introduced him to Peter Bennington, the landlord, and told his story for him.
"I am sorry for you," said Mr. Bennington.
"O, I've got money enough to pay my bill," interposed Harvey Barth, who had a sufficiency of honest pride, and asked nothing for charity's sake.
The landlord showed him to a room, after he had shaken hands with and bidden adieu to John Carter, it was not the best room in the house, but it was neat and comfortable. Harvey inquired about the steamer to Rockland, and was told that she would probably come the next day, and return in the afternoon. The steward made himself comfortable, and ate a hearty dinner when it was ready. In the afternoon he borrowed a pen and ink, and began to write out a full account of the wreck of the Waldo. He wrote a large, round hand, which was enough to convince any one who saw it that he was or had been a schoolmaster. He worked his pen slowly and carefully, but he entered so minutely into the details of the disaster that he had not half finished the narrative when the supper bell rang.
Harvey did not resume the task again that day; he was too weary to do so. That night he was ill and feverish, and in the morning had an attack of bleeding at the lungs. The landlord sent for the doctor, but the patient was not able to leave in the steamer, which went in the afternoon. The landlord's wife nursed him carefully and kindly, and in a week he began to improve. He had no further attack of bleeding, and he began to hope that he should live to get home. As soon as he was able to sit up in the bed, he resumed the writing up of the diary.
But we must leave him in his chamber thus occupied, to introduce the most important character of our story.
He was a rather tall and quite stout young fellow of sixteen. He was dressed in homely attire, what there was of it, for he wore no coat, and his shirt sleeves were rolled up above his elbows, in order, apparently, to give his arms more freedom. He was as tawny as the sailors of the Waldo had been, tanned by the hot suns of the West Indies. He had just come down the river from the principal wharf, at the head of which was the fish market—a very important institution, where the product of the sea formed a considerable portion of the food of the people. The boat in which he sailed was an old, black, dingy affair, which needed to be baled out more than once a day to keep her afloat. The sail was almost as black as the hull, and had been patched and darned in a hundred places. The skipper and crew of this unsightly old craft was Leopold Bennington, the only son of the landlord of the Cliff House, though he had three daughters.
Leopold carried the anchor of his boat far up on the rocks above the beach, and thrust one of the arms down into a crevice, where it would hold the boat. Taking from the dingy boat a basket which was heavy enough to give a considerable curve to his spine as he carried it, he climbed up the rocks to the street which extended along the shore of the river for half a mile. On the opposite side of it was the Cliff House. His father stood on the piazza of the house as the young man crossed the street.
"Well, Leopold, what luck had you to-day?" asked Mr. Bennington, as his son approached.
"First rate, father," replied the young man, as his bronzed face lighted up with enthusiasm.
"What did you get?" asked the landlord.
"Mackerel!" exclaimed mine host, his face in turn lighting up with pleasure.
"Lots of them, father."
"We have hardly seen a mackerel this year yet. I never knew them to be so scarce since I have been on this coast."
"There hasn't been any caught before these for a month, and then only a few tinkers," added Leopold, as he removed the wet rock-weed with which he had covered the fish to protect them from the sun. "They are handsome ones, too."
"So they are—number ones every one of them, and some extra," said the landlord, as he raised the fish with his hand so that he could see them.
"They were the handsomest lot of mackerel I ever saw," continued the young fisherman, his face glowing with satisfaction. "I brought up three dozen for you, and sold the rest. I made a good haul to-day."
"Three dozen will be all we can use in the house, as big as those are. Two dozen would have been enough; we don't have many people here now. But where did you get them?"
"Just off High Rock, where the Waldo was wrecked. I fished within a cable's length of the Ledges. I don't know but the sugar and molasses from the brig drew the mackerel around her," laughed Leopold, as he took an old black wallet from his pocket.
"Were there any other boats near you?" asked the prudent landlord.
"Not another one; folks are tired of trying for mackerel, and have given it up. I didn't expect to find any, but I happened to have my jigs in the boat; and for an hour I worked three of them as lively as any fellow ever did, I can tell you."
"Did they ask you at the fish market where you got them?"
"They did; but I didn't tell them," laughed the young man. "The mackerel fetched a good price. I counted off three hundred and twenty-four at ten cents apiece, and wouldn't take any less. They are scarce, and I saw them selling the fish at twenty cents apiece; so they will make as much as I do. Here is the money—thirty-two dollars and forty cents."
"Keep it yourself, my boy. You shall have all you make, as long as you don't spend it for candy and nonsense. Now go up and see the sick man. He may want something, and all the folks have been busy this afternoon."
The landlord took the basket of fish and put them on the ice, while Leopold went up to Harvey Barth's chamber. The sick man did not want anything. He was sitting up in the bed, with his diary and a pen in his hands, while the inkstand stood on the little table with the medicine bottles.
"There," said Harvey to Leopold, who had been a frequent attendant during his sickness, "I have just finished writing up this date; and it contains the whole story of the wreck of the Waldo, and all that happened on board of her during the voyage."
"What is it? what are you writing, Mr. Barth?" asked the young man.
Harvey opened the book at the blank leaf in the beginning, and turned it towards his visitor.
"Harvey Barth. His diary," Leopold read. "I see; you keep a diary."
"I do. I wouldn't take a hundred dollars for that book, poor as I am," added Harvey, as he closed the volume and laid the pen on the table.
"Shall I put it away for you?" asked Leopold.
"No; thank you; I'll take care of it myself," he replied as he proceeded to fold the book in its oil-cloth cover.
When Leopold had left the room, Harvey Barth enclosed the book in an old newspaper, and, getting out of bed, thrust the package up the flue of the little fireplace in the room, placing it on some projecting shelf or jamb which he had discovered there. He was very careful of the book, and seemed to be afraid some one might open it while he was asleep. Doubtless the diary contained secrets he was not willing others should discover; and certainly no one would think of looking in the flue of the fireplace for it.
STUMPY AND OTHERS.
Harvey Barth seemed to be exceedingly well satisfied with himself after he had finished the writing of his diary up to date. Possibly the fact that he had not completed his account of the wreck of the Waldo had troubled him, as any work left unfinished troubles a progressive or conscientious man. But whether or not he had been disturbed about his diary, he was happier than usual after he had completed the task. His physical condition had been greatly improved under the careful nursing of Mrs. Bennington. In the course of the afternoon not less than half a dozen persons called to see him, and remained from five minutes to half an hour, one of whom was connected with a newspaper in a city on the bay, who was anxious to obtain a full and correct account of the loss of the brig, which Harvey had not yet been able to furnish, even verbally; but he promised to write out a full narrative for the applicant, in preference to giving it by word of mouth.
Others who called upon him were friends of those lost in the Waldo, and desired to obtain further particulars in regard to the catastrophe. But the majority of those who visited the steward came only from mere curiosity, or at best from motives of sympathy.
Harvey Barth, as the only survivor of that terrible disaster, was quite a hero in Rockhaven. He had been mentioned in all the newspapers on the coast, in connection with the wreck, and many people had a curiosity to see him, especially the visitors at Rockhaven, who had nothing to do but to amuse themselves.
The wreck had been talked about for over a week, and for several days after the disaster High Rock and its vicinity had been visited by a great number of boats. Not a single body of those who perished in the wreck was washed ashore, though diligent search had been made on all the islands in the neighborhood.
The visit of the newspaper man had given Harvey Barth a new sensation, for the steward was particularly pleased with the idea of writing an account of the wreck of the Waldo for publication; and he thought over, during the rest of the day, the satisfaction it would give him to carry fifty or a hundred copies of the paper containing it to his native town in "York State," and distribute them among his relatives and friends. Indeed, the idea was so exciting, that, when night came, he could not sleep till a late hour for thinking of it. And when he did go to sleep he dreamed of it; and it seemed to him that a "printer's devil" came to him in his chamber to ask for "more copy" of the important narrative. The imp disturbed him, and he awoke to find a man in his room; but it was only a half-tipsy "drummer" from the city, who had got into the wrong chamber when he went to bed.
It took Harvey some time to convince the interloper that he had made a mistake; and the stranger had some difficulty in finding his way out. The invalid heard him groping about the chamber for a long time before the door closed behind him. The steward quieted his excited nerves as well as he was able, and in thinking over the great composition upon which he intended to commence the next morning, he went to sleep again.
Leopold Bennington had slept at least five hours before the sick man was finally "wrapt in slumber," as he intended to express himself in the great composition; and in two hours more he had slept all he could afford to sleep when number one mackerel were waiting to be caught. At three o'clock in the morning he awoke and dressed himself, the latter operation occupying not more than twenty seconds, for his toilet consisted only in putting on his trousers, shoes and hat. He went down stairs, and, as boys of his age are always hungry, his first objective point was the pantry, between the dining-room and kitchen, where he found and ate an abundance of cold roast beef, biscuits, and apple pie. Being a provident youth, he transferred a considerable quantity of these eatables to the large basket in which he had brought home his fish the day before, so that he could "have a bite" himself, even if the mackerel failed to favor him in this direction.
Though he stopped to fill himself with cold roast beef, biscuit, and apple pie, and even to fill his basket after he had filled himself, Leopold was very much excited in regard to the mackerel catch of that day. He hoped to find the number ones where he had fallen in with them the day before; and he could hardly expect to catch more than one more fare before the fact that the mackerel were in the bay became generally known. The mackerel fleet itself, consisting of between two and three hundred sail, might be in the vicinity before the sun set again. He realized the necessity of making hay while the sun shines. But mackerel are very uncertain, so far as their location and inclination to bite are concerned; so that there was not more than an even chance for him to catch a single fish. The result was doubtful enough to make the game exciting; and Leopold felt very much as an unprofessional gambler does when he goes to the table to risk his money. It seemed to be altogether a question of luck.
But Leopold was hopeful, and felt that the chances were rather in his favor. He had been saving all the money he could earn for months for a particular purpose; and he was not excited by the simple prospect of obtaining the lucre for the purpose of hoarding it, so that he could feel that he possessed a certain sum. He had been a little afraid that, when his gains amounted to so large a sum as thirty-two dollars and forty cents, his father would take possession of his receipts; but the landlord of the Cliff House adhered to his policy of allowing his son to retain the proceeds of his own labor. With a pea-jacket on his arm and the basket in his hand, he left the hotel while the stars were still shining in the few patches of blue sky that were not hidden by the clouds. But he did not proceed immediately to the boat. He crossed the street, and, concealing his basket in the bushes by the side of the path which led down to the river, he hastened up the next street beyond the hotel till he came to a small cottage, at the gate of which he halted, and gave three prolonged whistles.
"Hallo, Le!" shouted a voice from the open window in the gable end of the cottage.
Of course no sane boy of sixteen would think of pronouncing the three syllables of the name of one of his cronies; and Leopold, in his undignified intercourse with his companions, was known only by the abbreviated name of "Le."
"Come, Stumpy, tumble out," replied Leopold. "Bear a hand, lively, and don't wait for your breakfast. I have grub enough to keep us for a week."
"I'm all ready," replied Stumpy; "I was up when you whistled."
Early as it was in the morning, Stumpy seemed to be very cheerful, perhaps made so by the remark about "grub" which Leopold had used, for the boy of the cottage knew by experience that the provender which came from the hotel was superior to that of the larder of his own dwelling.
The two "early birds" walked rapidly towards the river, not because they were in a hurry, but because they were excited. The excursion upon which they had now embarked had been duly talked over the night before, and Stumpy, though his interest in the venture was small compared with that of his companion, was hardly less hopeful.
They descended the steep path on the bank of the river, and in a few moments more the dingy old boat with the patched and ragged sail was standing out towards the open bay. The wind in the river was very light, and the old craft was a heavy sailor, so that her progress was very slow; but the tongues of the two boys moved fast enough to make up for the deficiencies of the boat. Their conversation was about the prospect of catching a fare of mackerel, though Harvey Barth and his diary came in for some comments.
Stumpy was Leopold's dearest friend and most intimate companion. The friendship had commenced in school, which both of them continued to attend in the winter. It had its origin in no especial event, for neither had conferred any particular favor on the other. Like many another intimacy, it grew out of the fancy of the friends. Both of them were "good fellows," and they liked each other. This is all the explanation which their friendship requires. Stumpy was the oldest son of a widow, who managed with his assistance, to support her family of three children. Socially there was no difference in their standing. If the landlord of the Cliff House was a person of some consequence, on the one hand, Stumpy's grandfather, on the other, was one of the wealthiest and most distinguished citizens of Rockhaven, and the boy would probably inherit a portion of his property when he died. But it ought to be added that Stumpy did not hold his head any higher because of his family connections. In fact, he hardly ever alluded to his relationship to the wealthy and distinguished man. To use his own words, he, "did not take much stock in his grandfather;" and in his confidential conversations with Leopold he did not scruple to say that the old gentleman was the meanest man in Rockhaven.
This grandfather was Moses Wormbury, Esq.; he was a Justice of the peace, and had been a member of the legislature. It was said that he had a mortgage on every other house in Rockhaven; but this was doubtless an exaggeration, though he loaned out a great deal of money on good security. Squire Wormbury had had two sons and several daughters, all the latter being married and settled in Rockhaven or elsewhere. The elder son, Joel, was the father of Stumpy. The younger son, Ethan, kept the Island Hotel, a small establishment of not half the size even of the Cliff House, which had less than twenty rooms. In some respects the two hotels were rivals, though the Cliff House had all the better business. Ethan Wormbury did his best to fill up his small house, and was not always careful to be fair and honorable in his competition; but Mr. Bennington was good-natured, and only laughed when bad stories about his house came from the Island Hotel.
Connected with Joel Wormbury, the father of Stumpy, there was a sad leaf of family history. At the age of twenty-three he had married a poor girl, who became a most excellent woman. Before this event he had been to sea, and had made several fishing trips to the Banks. After his marriage, he worked at "coopering" when he could obtain this employment, and went a fishing when he could not. When his first boy was born, he named him after the master of a bark with whom he had made a voyage up the Mediterranean, and who had been very kind to him during a severe illness at Palermo. Joel's father, uncles, and brother had all received Scripture names; and perhaps it would have been better if Joel himself had been equally scriptural in choosing names for his offspring, for the master of the bark was Captain Stumpfield, and the boy, Stumpfield Wormbury, was doomed to be called Stumpy from the day he first went to school till he lost it in the dignity of manhood, though, even then, the unfortunate cognomen was applied to him by his old cronies.
Joel Wormbury was an industrious and prudent man, but his usual earnings were no more than sufficient to enable him to support his family; for, prudent as he was, it was impossible for him to be as mean as his father, who always insisted that Joel was extravagant.
Seven years before we introduce his son to the reader, the father made a trip to George's Bank. The vessel was lucky, and the "high liner's" share—eight hundred and fifty odd dollars—came to Joel. But he had been out of work for some time, and was in debt; yet he honestly paid off every dollar he owed, and had over six hundred dollars left. With this he felt rich, and his wife thought their home ought to be more comfortably furnished. It was a hired house; and when two hundred dollars had been expended in furniture, Squire Moses declared that Joel had "lost his senses." But the tenement was made very comfortable and pleasant; and still Joel had four hundred dollars in cash. While he was thinking what he should do with this money, his father reproached him for his extravagance, and told him he ought to have built a house, instead of fooling away his money on "fancy tables and chairs," as he insisted upon calling the plain articles which his son had purchased.
The idea made a strong impression upon Joel, and he immediately paid a hundred dollars for half an acre of land in what was then an outskirt of the village. He wanted to build at once, and his father was finally induced to lend him seven hundred dollars, taking a mortgage on the land and buildings for security. The house was built, and the new furniture appeared to advantage in it. Joel was happy now, and did his best to earn money to pay off the mortgage. He made two more trips to the Georges, with only moderate success. All he could do for the next two years was to pay his interest and support his family.
Unfortunately, about this time, Joel "took to drinking;" not in a beastly way, though he was often "excited by liquor." He was not regarded as a drunkard, for he attended to his work and took good care of his family. There were, unhappily, several rum-shops in Rockhaven; and in one of these, one night, after Joel had been imbibing rather more freely than usual, he got into a dispute with Mike Manahan, an Irish quarryman, who was also warmed up with whiskey. Mike was full of Donnybrook pluck, and insisted upon settling the dispute with a fight, and struck his opponent a heavy blow in the face. Joel was a peaceable man, and perhaps, if he had been entirely sober, he would have been killed by his belligerent foe. As it was, he defended himself with a bottle from the counter of the saloon, which he smashed on the head of his furious assailant.
The blow with the bottle, which was a long and heavy one, felled Mike to the floor. He dropped senseless with the blood oozing from his head upon the sanded boards. Joel was appalled at what he had done; but he was sobered as well, and when some of the wounded man's friends attacked him in revenge, he fled from the saloon. But he went for the doctor, and sent him to Mike's aid. He was terribly alarmed as he considered the probable consequences of his rash deed. He dared not go home, lest the constable should be there to arrest him. Later in the evening he crept cautiously to the doctor's office, to ascertain the condition of his victim. The physician had caused Mike to be conveyed to his boarding-place, and had done all he could for him. In reply to Joel's anxious inquiries, he shook his head, and feared the patient would die. He could not speak with confidence till the next day, but the worst was to be anticipated. Joel was stunned by this intelligence. A charge for murder or manslaughter would be preferred against him, and the penalty for either was fearful to contemplate. He dared not go home to comfort his wife—if there could be any comfort under such circumstances.
Stealing down to the river in the gloom of the night, he embarked in a dory he owned, and before morning pulled twelve miles to a city on the other side of the bay, from which he made his way to Gloucester, where he obtained a lay in a fishing-vessel bound to the Georges. When he was ready to sail, he wrote a long letter to his wife, explaining his situation. She had money enough to supply the needs of the family for a time for the purse had always been in her keeping. He asked her to write him in regard to the fate of Mike Manahan, and to inform him of what people said about the quarrel, so that he could get her letters on his return from the Georges, if there should be no opportunity of forwarding them to him.
Mrs. Wormbury was very much distressed at this unfortunate event; but it appeared in a few days that Mike was not fatally injured; and in a week he returned to his work. Mike was a good-hearted fellow, and as soon as he was able he called upon the wife of his late opponent, declaring that it was a fair fight, and that no harm should come to her husband when he returned.
Squire Moses declared that people who were extravagant often "took to drinking," and that he was not much surprised at what had happened. Joel's wife was happy at the turn the affair had taken; and her husband's absence was no more than she had been called upon to endure before. She wrote several letters to him, with "all the news," and confidently expected her husband's return in a few weeks.
Instead of his return came a letter from the captain of the vessel in which he had sailed—a sad letter which shut out all hope for the future. Joel had gone off in a dory to attend to the trawls; a sudden fog had come up, so that he could not find the vessel, and his companions, after a day's search, had been unable to discover him. A storm had followed, and they had given him up for lost. The loss of a man in this way on the Banks was not a very uncommon occurrence.
Months and years passed away, but nothing more was heard of Joel Wormbury. His wife and children believed that he was buried in the depths of the sea.
Mrs. Wormbury knew better than to apply to her hard father-in-law when her money was exhausted; indeed, she used the very last dollar of it to pay him the interest on the mortgage note. She went to work, taking in washing for the rich people of the place and for the summer visitors. Stumpy was old enough by this time to plant and take care of the garden, and to earn a little in other ways. Though the times were always hard at the cottage, the family had enough to eat and to wear, and the widow contrived to save enough to pay the interest on the place, which she dared to hope might one day belong to her children. Squire Moses never did anything for her, declaring that, if she wanted any money, she could sell her "fancy tables and chairs," for the house was better furnished than his own; which was true.
The squire's wealth continued to increase, for he was so mean that he spent only a small fraction of his interest money. He was hard and unfeeling, and not only refused to help his son's fatherless family, but had been heard to say that Joel by his drunken brawl, had disgraced his name and his relations. Ethan, the keeper of the Island Hotel, seemed to be his favorite; and people who knew him declared that he was as mean as his father. Somebody pretended to know that the old man had made a will, giving nearly all his property to Ethan. However this may have been, it was certain that Squire Moses had several times threatened to take possession of the cottage occupied by Joel's family, for the principal of the mortgage note was now due. He had said this to Joel's widow, causing the poor woman the deepest distress, and rousing in Stumpy the strongest indignation. This was why Stumpy "took no stock" in his grandfather.
But while we have been telling all this long story about Leopold's companion, the old boat had reached the vicinity of the wreck. Stumpy had eaten his fill of cold roast beef, biscuit, and apple pie, and was entirely satisfied with himself, and especially with his friend. Leopold threw overboard the ground bait, and soon, with a shout of exultation, he announced the presence of a school of mackerel. The lines were immediately in the water, and the fish bit very sharply. Leopold and Stumpy had nothing to do but pull them in and "slat" them off as fast as they could. The boat was filling up very rapidly; but suddenly, the school, as though called in after recess, sank down and disappeared. Not another bite could be obtained, and the old boat was headed for the river. On the way up, Stumpy counted the mackerel.
"Four hundred and sixty!" exclaimed he, when the task was finished.
"That isn't bad," added Leopold.
"I threw out all the small ones—about twenty of them."
"We will keep those to eat."
In half an hour more there was a tremendous excitement in and around the fish market, caused by the arrival of the fare of mackerel.
Four hundred and sixty mackerel, besides about twenty "tinkers," was a big fare for that season; but when this fish bite they make a business of it and an expert in the art may catch from forty to sixty in a minute. It was exciting work, and the blood of Leopold and Stumpy had been up to fever heat. But this violent agitation had passed away, though it was succeeded by a sensation hardly less exhilarating. Though the fish were caught and in the boat, the game was not played out—to return to the comparison with the gambler. The excitement still continues and would continue until the fish were sold. The great question now was, What would the mackerel bring in the market? Even a difference of a cent in the price of a single fish made four dollars and sixty cents on the whole fare. Leopold had received a large price the day before, and he could only hope he should do as well on the present occasion. He was almost as deeply moved in regard to the price as he had been in regard to catching the fish.
"I have made a big day's work for me, Le, whatever price they bring," said Stumpy, shortly after he had finished counting the fish. "If you sell them at five cents apiece, I shall have five dollars and three quarters; and that is more than I can generally earn in a week."
"I won't sell them for five cents apiece, Stumpy," replied Leopold, very decidedly.
"If they won't bring any more than that, what are you going to do about it?" laughed Stumpy.
"Mackerel are very scarce this season, and I don't believe they have had any over at Rockland. If the folks in the fish market don't give me ten cents apiece for the lot, I shall sail over there. I am almost sure I can get ten cents for mackerel as handsome as these are. Besides, about all I brought in yesterday were sold before sundown."
"Then I shall be eleven dollars and a half in," added Stumpy. "My mother wants about so much to make out her interest money. If she don't pay it we shall be turned out doors before the sun goes down on the day it is due."
"Do you think so?" asked Leopold, with a deep expression of sympathy.
"O, I know it. My grandad is an amiable man. He don't put off till to-morrow what can be done to-day, when anybody owes him any money."
"It seems to me I would rather go to jail than owe him a dollar."
"So would I; and I only wish my mother could pay off the mortgage! Things have gone up in Rockhaven, and the place that cost my father eleven hundred dollars seven years ago, is worth eighteen hundred or two thousand now. My affectionate grandpa knows this just as well as my mother; and if he can get the place for the seven hundred we owe him, he will do it. He says it is too expensive a place for poor folks who haven't got anything."
"But if the place is worth two thousand dollars, your mother will get all over the seven hundred, when it is sold," suggested Leopold, who had considerable knowledge of business.
"The house and land are worth just what I say; or, at least, they were a year ago, though the war has knocked things higher than a kite just now. Nobody except my loving grandpa has got the ready cash to pay down; and mother thinks the place wouldn't fetch much, if anything, over the mortgage. But in time it will be worth two thousand dollars."
The arrival of the old boat at the wharf, and the commencement of the excitement in and around the fish market, terminated the conversation on Stumpy's worldly affairs. As the dingy craft approached the pier, a crowd gathered at the head of the landing-steps, for it had been noised about the town that Leopold had brought in a fare of mackerel the day before; and people were anxious to know whether he had repeated his good luck.
A great many boats had gone out that morning after mackerel, but none of them had yet returned. Foremost in the crowd on the wharf was Bangs, the senior member of the firm that kept the fish market. He was excited and anxious, though he struggled to be calm and indifferent when Leopold fastened the painter of his boat to the steps.
"What luck to-day, Le?" shouted Bangs, who could not see the fish, for the careful Leopold had covered them in order to keep them from injury from the sun, and so that the extent of his good fortune might not at once be seen by the idlers on the wharf.
"Pretty fair," replied Leopold, striving to be as calm and indifferent as the dealer in fish on the pier.
"What have you got?" inquired Bangs.
"Mackerel," answered Leopold, as he seated himself in the stern-sheets of the boat, with affected carelessness.
"No; the same sort that I sold you yesterday."
"What do you ask for them?" inquired Bangs, looking up at the sky as though nothing on the earth below concerned him.
"Ten cents," replied Leopold, looking up at the sky in turn, as though nothing sublunary concerned him, either.
"All right," said the dealer, shaking his head, with a kind of smile, which seemed to indicate that he thought the young fisherman was beside himself to ask such a price, after apparently glutting the market the day before. "That will do for once, Le; but they won't bring ten cents at retail, after all I sold yesterday. I should have to salt them down."
"Very well," added Leopold; "that's my price; and I don't know of any law that compels you to give it, if you don't want to, Mr. Bangs."
The dealer began to edge his way through the crowd towards the fish market, and the idlers hastened to the conclusion that there would be no trade.
"What do you ask apiece for two or three of them?" asked some one on the wharf.
"Twenty cents," answered Leopold. "But I don't care to sell them at retail."
"I will take three, if you will let me have them," added the inquirer.
This conversation startled the head of the fish firm, and he returned once more to the cap-sill of the wharf. He saw that if the young man attempted to sell out his fare at retail, the business of the market would be ruined for that day.
"I will give you eight cents apiece for all you have," said Bangs.
"You can't buy them at that price. If you don't want them at ten cents apiece, I shall take them over to Rockland," replied Leopold, who did not wish to offend the members of the fish firm, for they had often bought out his fare, and he wished to keep on the right side of them for operations in the future.
Mr. Bangs considered, parleyed, and then offered nine cents; but finally, when Leopold was found to be inflexible, he yielded the point, and agreed to pay the ten cents. The mackerel were unloaded and conveyed to the market, when the sale of them at retail commenced immediately. The fish were so large and handsome that twenty cents did not appear to be a very extravagant price for them, considering the scarcity of the article in the market. In the settlement, Leopold received forty-six dollars; Stumpy's share, according to a standing agreement, was one quarter of the proceeds of the sale; and the eleven dollars and a half which he put into his wallet was quite as satisfactory to him as the thirty-four dollars and a half was to Leopold. Both of them felt that they had been favored by fortune to an extraordinary degree, and they were very happy. The old boat was sailed back to her usual moorings. The tinkers were equally divided between the young fishermen, and they went home.
By eleven o'clock Stumpy had poured into the lap of his astonished mother the proceeds of his morning's work, and Leopold had informed his father of the second big haul he had made that season. As before, Mr. Bennington—but with some additional cautions—told his son to keep the money he had made.
"The sick man is in a peck of trouble this morning," added the landlord of the Cliff House, when the exciting business of the occasion had been disposed of.
"What's the matter of him?" asked Leopold.
"He has lost his book, his record, or whatever it is," added Mr. Bennington. "He has sent for everybody belonging in the house, including many of the boarders. He wants to see you."
"I'm sure I don't know anything about it," replied Leopold, who, judging by what the invalid had said about the book, realized that the loss of it must distress him very much.
"No one seems to know anything about it; and the sick man will have it that some one has stolen the book. I laughed at him, and told him no one would steal such a thing, for it was worth nothing to anybody but himself. But go up and see him, Leopold."
The young man hastened to the room of the sick man. Harvey Barth was certainly very miserable on account of the loss of his diary. He spoke of it as he would have done if it had been some dear friend who had been taken away from him by death; but then he was sick and rather childish, and the people about the hotel pitied and sympathized with him.
"Where did you put it?" asked Leopold, when he had heard all the particulars the steward could give in relation to his loss.
"There isn't any cupboard in this room, and I hadn't any good place to keep it; so I just tucked it into the flue of that fireplace," drawled Harvey, with the frequent hacking which impeded his utterance.
"That was a queer place to put it," added Leopold.
"I know it was; but I hadn't any better one. I thought it would be safer there than in any other place."
"Are you sure that you put it there?"
"Am I sure that I am a living man at this moment?" demanded Harvey. "That diary is worth more to me than all the rest I have in the world, and I shouldn't forget what I did with it."
But Leopold searched the room in every nook and corner, in spite of the protest of the sick man that it was useless to do so, for he had looked everywhere a dozen times himself. The young man was no more successful than others had been who had looked for the diary.
"Though you value it very highly I suppose the diary is not really worth very much," suggested Leopold.
"There are secrets written out in that book which might be worth a great deal of money to a bad man," replied Harvey, in a confidential tone.
"Well, what do you suppose has become of it?"
"I'll tell you. I think some one stole it," added the sick man impressively.
"Did any one know about the secrets written down in it?"
"Not that I know of. Some one may have taken it in order to get my account of the wreck of the Waldo. It may affect the insurance on the vessel, or something of that sort, for all I know. I think I know just who stole it too;" and Harvey related all the particulars of the tipsy man's visit to the chamber the night before. "He pretended to be drunk, but I think he knew what he was about all the time, just as well as I did. In my opinion he took that book."
"Why should he take it?" asked Leopold, who thought it was necessary to prove the motive before the deed was charged upon him.
"I don't know but I think he sat at the window of the room over there," continued Harvey, pointing to one in the L of the house, which opened at right angles with his own. "I believe he saw me put the diary in the flue, and then came into my room in the night and took it, while he was blundering about over the chairs and tables. I am sure that none of the folks who came in to see me in the afternoon could have taken it without my seeing them—not even the newspaper man. You may depend upon it, the tipsy man—if he was tipsy—took it. What he did it for is more than I can tell; but he may have thought it was money, or something else that was valuable. I saw him at that window after I had hid the diary in the flue."
Harvey Bath was entirely satisfied in regard to the guilt of the tipsy man, and had already ascertained that the fellow was a "drummer"—in Europe more politely called a "commercial traveller." He had also obtained the name of the man, and the address of the firm in New York city for which he travelled. With this information he hoped to obtain his treasure again, by shrewd management, when he went to New York. But, in spite of his grief over his loss, Harvey wrote the account of the wreck of the Waldo for the newspaper, in the course of the next day, and sent it off by mail.
After Leopold had done all he could to comfort the invalid,—though he failed, as others had, to lessen the burden which weighed him down,—he left the room, and walked down to the principal street of the village, on which the Cliff House was located. A few rods from the hotel he came to the smallest store in the place, in the window of which were displayed a few silver watches and a rather meagre assortment of cheap jewelry. On the shelves inside of the shop was a considerable variety of wooden clocks, and, in a glass case on the counter, a quantity of spoons, forks and dishes, some few of which were silver, while the greater part were plated, or of block tin. Over the door was the sign "LEOPOLD SCHLAGER, WATCH-MAKER." The proprietor of this establishment was Leopold's uncle, his mother's only brother, which explains the circumstance of our hero's having a foreign name.
Of course, if Leopold Schlager was a German, Mrs. Bennington was of the same nationality, though any one meeting her about the hotel would hardly have suspected that she was not a full-blooded American. Over thirty years before, she had emigrated with her younger brother, when the times were hard in Germany. Her father was dead, and her elder brother, Leopold, was not yet out of his time, learning the trade of a watch-maker. The younger brother went to the west, taking her with him, and established himself on a farm. He was not very successful, and his sister, at the age of twelve, went to live with an American family in Chicago, the lady of which had taken a fancy to her. She was brought up to work, though her education was not neglected. Before she was twenty-one her brother in the west died. But by this time she was abundantly able to take care of herself.
When the family in which she was so kindly cared for was broken up by the death of the father, she went to work in the kitchen of a large hotel, where she enlarged her knowledge and experience in the art of cooking, till she was competent to take a situation as the cook of a small public house. In this place she increased the reputation of the establishment by her skill, till the proprietor was willing to pay her any wages she demanded.
Peter Bennington, a native of Maine, was employed in the hotel; and he was so well pleased with the looks of the German cook that he proposed to her, and was accepted. Katharina Schlager spoke English then as well as a native; and she was not only neat and skillful, but she was a pretty and wholesome-looking woman. Peter married her, and, after a while, bought out the hotel. But he was not successful in the venture; and, with only a few hundred dollars in his pocket, he returned to Rockhaven, his native place, where he soon opened the Cliff House.
Leopold was born in Chicago, and his mother had insisted upon naming him after her brother in Germany.
Mr. Bennington had done very well in the hotel; but he was ambitious to do business on a larger scale, and was revolving in his mind a plan to make the Cliff House into a large establishment, which would attract summer visitors in great numbers. He had bought the present hotel, and paid for it from his profits; and he hoped soon to be able to rebuild it on a larger scale.
His wife was faithful and devoted to him and the children. She had always done the cooking for the Cliff House, which had given it an excellent reputation. She was not only a good and true woman, but she was an exceedingly useful one to a hotel-keeper. For years she had tenderly thought of her absent brother in Germany. She often wrote to him, and learned that he was doing a good business in a small city. After years of persuasion, she induced him to join her in America. He was met on the wharf in New York, when he landed, by Mr. Bennington and his wife, and conducted to Rockhaven without delay. He could not speak a word of English then; but for six months he devoted himself to the study of it under the tuition of his sister and her children, till he was competent to carry on his business in the town. He was a very skillful workman, and all the watches in Rockhaven and on the island came to him to be cleaned and repaired. Even the rich men of the place found that he could be safely trusted with their valuable gold time-keepers, and he became quite celebrated in his line. He sold a watch occasionally, and had a small trade in clocks and other wares, so that he really made more money than in his native land. He had brought with him a considerable capital, and was enabled to stock his store without any aid from his sister.
If Herr Schlager missed his "sauer kraut" and "bier," he enjoyed the company of his sister and her children. Leopold was his favorite, perhaps because he bore the watch-maker's name. They were fast friends; and in the undertaking which Leopold was laboring to accomplish, he had made his uncle his confidant.
When the young man entered the store, he bestowed his first glance upon a small iron safe behind the counter, in which the watch-maker kept his watches, silver ware, and other valuables at night. Leopold was interested in that strong box, for the reason that it contained his own savings. For six months he had been hoarding up every penny he earned for a purpose, and he had placed his money in the hands of his uncle for safe keeping. Perhaps Herr Schlager's iron safe was as much the occasion of his confidence in his uncle as the fact of their relationship. Leopold's present visit was made in order to dispose of the proceeds of his morning's work, before he lost it or was tempted to spend any portion of it.
"Ah, mine poy! you have come mit more money. I see him in your head," said Herr Schlager, as, with a cheerful smile, he left his work-table.
"Yes uncle, I have more money," replied Leopold; and his success had covered his face with smiles. "Ich habe viel geld diesen morgen."