THE WORKS OF EDGAR ALLAN POE

 

IN FIVE VOLUMES

 

VOLUME 3

 

The Raven Edition

 

CONTENTS:

 

†††† NARRATIVE OF A. GORDON PYM

†††† LIGEIA

†††† MORELLA

†††† A TALE OF THE RAGGED MOUNTAINS

†††† THE SPECTACLES

†††† KING PEST

†††† THREE SUNDAYS IN A WEEK

 

NARRATIVE OF A. GORDON PYM

 

INTRODUCTORY NOTE

 

UPON my return to the United States a few months ago, after the

extraordinary series of adventure in the South Seas and elsewhere, of

which an account is given in the following pages, accident threw me

into the society of several gentlemen in Richmond, Va., who felt deep

interest in all matters relating to the regions I had visited, and who

were constantly urging it upon me, as a duty, to give my narrative to

the public. I had several reasons, however, for declining to do so, some

of which were of a nature altogether private, and concern no person but

myself; others not so much so. One consideration which deterred me was

that, having kept no journal during a greater portion of the time in

which I was absent, I feared I should not be able to write, from mere

memory, a statement so minute and connected as to have the _appearance

_of that truth it would really possess, barring only the natural and

unavoidable exaggeration to which all of us are prone when detailing

events which have had powerful influence in exciting the imaginative

faculties. Another reason was, that the incidents to be narrated were

of a nature so positively marvellous that, unsupported as my assertions

must necessarily be (except by the evidence of a single individual, and

he a half-breed Indian), I could only hope for belief among my family,

and those of my friends who have had reason, through life, to put faith

in my veracity-the probability being that the public at large would

regard what I should put forth as merely an impudent and ingenious

fiction. A distrust in my own abilities as a writer was, nevertheless,

one of the principal causes which prevented me from complying with the

suggestions of my advisers.

 

Among those gentlemen in Virginia who expressed the greatest interest

in my statement, more particularly in regard to that portion of it

which related to the Antarctic Ocean, was Mr. Poe, lately editor of

the "Southern Literary Messenger," a monthly magazine, published by Mr.

Thomas W. White, in the city of Richmond. He strongly advised me,

among others, to prepare at once a full account of what I had seen

and undergone, and trust to the shrewdness and common-sense of the

public-insisting, with great plausibility, that however roughly, as

regards mere authorship, my book should be got up, its very uncouthness,

if there were any, would give it all the better chance of being received

as truth.

 

Notwithstanding this representation, I did not make up my mind to do as

he suggested. He afterward proposed (finding that I would not stir in

the matter) that I should allow him to draw up, in his own words, a

narrative of the earlier portion of my adventures, from facts afforded

by myself, publishing it in the "Southern Messenger" _under the garb

of fiction. _To this, perceiving no objection, I consented, stipulating

only that my real name should be retained. Two numbers of the pretended

fiction appeared, consequently, in the "Messenger" for January and

February (1837), and, in order that it might certainly be regarded as

fiction, the name of Mr. Poe was affixed to the articles in the table of

contents of the magazine.

 

The manner in which this ruse was received has induced me at length to

undertake a regular compilation and publication of the adventures in

question; for I found that, in spite of the air of fable which had been

so ingeniously thrown around that portion of my statement which appeared

in the "Messenger" (without altering or distorting a single fact),

the public were still not at all disposed to receive it as fable, and

several letters were sent to Mr. P.'s address, distinctly expressing

a conviction to the contrary. I thence concluded that the facts of my

narrative would prove of such a nature as to carry with them sufficient

evidence of their own authenticity, and that I had consequently little

to fear on the score of popular incredulity.

 

This_ exposť _being made, it will be seen at once how much of what

follows I claim to be my own writing; and it will also be understood

that no fact is misrepresented in the first few pages which were written

by Mr. Poe. Even to those readers who have not seen the "Messenger,"

it will be unnecessary to point out where his portion ends and my own

commences; the difference in point of style will be readily perceived.

 

††† †††††††††††††††A. G. PYM.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 1

 

MY name is Arthur Gordon Pym. My father was a respectable trader in

sea-stores at Nantucket, where I was born. My maternal grandfather was

an attorney in good practice. He was fortunate in every thing, and had

speculated very successfully in stocks of the Edgarton New Bank, as it

was formerly called. By these and other means he had managed to lay by a

tolerable sum of money. He was more attached to myself, I believe, than

to any other person in the world, and I expected to inherit the most

of his property at his death. He sent me, at six years of age, to

the school of old Mr. Ricketts, a gentleman with only one arm and of

eccentric manners--he is well known to almost every person who has

visited New Bedford. I stayed at his school until I was sixteen, when I

left him for Mr. E. Ronald's academy on the hill. Here I became intimate

with the son of Mr. Barnard, a sea-captain, who generally sailed in the

employ of Lloyd and Vredenburgh--Mr. Barnard is also very well known in

New Bedford, and has many relations, I am certain, in Edgarton. His son

was named Augustus, and he was nearly two years older than myself. He

had been on a whaling voyage with his father in the John Donaldson, and

was always talking to me of his adventures in the South Pacific Ocean.

I used frequently to go home with him, and remain all day, and sometimes

all night. We occupied the same bed, and he would be sure to keep me

awake until almost light, telling me stories of the natives of the

Island of Tinian, and other places he had visited in his travels. At

last I could not help being interested in what he said, and by degrees

I felt the greatest desire to go to sea. I owned a sailboat called the

Ariel, and worth about seventy-five dollars. She had a half-deck or

cuddy, and was rigged sloop-fashion--I forget her tonnage, but she would

hold ten persons without much crowding. In this boat we were in the

habit of going on some of the maddest freaks in the world; and, when I

now think of them, it appears to me a thousand wonders that I am alive

to-day.

 

I will relate one of these adventures by way of introduction to a

longer and more momentous narrative. One night there was a party at Mr.

Barnard's, and both Augustus and myself were not a little intoxicated

toward the close of it. As usual, in such cases, I took part of his

bed in preference to going home. He went to sleep, as I thought, very

quietly (it being near one when the party broke up), and without saying

a word on his favorite topic. It might have been half an hour from the

time of our getting in bed, and I was just about falling into a doze,

when he suddenly started up, and swore with a terrible oath that he

would not go to sleep for any Arthur Pym in Christendom, when there was

so glorious a breeze from the southwest. I never was so astonished in

my life, not knowing what he intended, and thinking that the wines and

liquors he had drunk had set him entirely beside himself. He proceeded

to talk very coolly, however, saying he knew that I supposed him

intoxicated, but that he was never more sober in his life. He was only

tired, he added, of lying in bed on such a fine night like a dog, and

was determined to get up and dress, and go out on a frolic with the

boat. I can hardly tell what possessed me, but the words were no sooner

out of his mouth than I felt a thrill of the greatest excitement and

pleasure, and thought his mad idea one of the most delightful and most

reasonable things in the world. It was blowing almost a gale, and the

weather was very cold--it being late in October. I sprang out of bed,

nevertheless, in a kind of ecstasy, and told him I was quite as brave

as himself, and quite as tired as he was of lying in bed like a dog,

and quite as ready for any fun or frolic as any Augustus Barnard in

Nantucket.

 

We lost no time in getting on our clothes and hurrying down to the boat.

She was lying at the old decayed wharf by the lumber-yard of Pankey &

Co., and almost thumping her side out against the rough logs. Augustus

got into her and bailed her, for she was nearly half full of water. This

being done, we hoisted jib and mainsail, kept full, and started boldly

out to sea.

 

The wind, as I before said, blew freshly from the southwest. The night

was very clear and cold. Augustus had taken the helm, and I stationed

myself by the mast, on the deck of the cuddy. We flew along at a great

rate--neither of us having said a word since casting loose from the

wharf. I now asked my companion what course he intended to steer, and

what time he thought it probable we should get back. He whistled for a

few minutes, and then said crustily: "_I_ am going to sea--_you_ may go

home if you think proper." Turning my eyes upon him, I perceived at once

that, in spite of his assumed _nonchalance_, he was greatly agitated.

I could see him distinctly by the light of the moon--his face was

paler than any marble, and his hand shook so excessively that he could

scarcely retain hold of the tiller. I found that something had gone

wrong, and became seriously alarmed. At this period I knew little

about the management of a boat, and was now depending entirely upon the

nautical skill of my friend. The wind, too, had suddenly increased, as

we were fast getting out of the lee of the land--still I was ashamed

to betray any trepidation, and for almost half an hour maintained a

resolute silence. I could stand it no longer, however, and spoke to

Augustus about the propriety of turning back. As before, it was nearly

a minute before he made answer, or took any notice of my suggestion.

"By-and-by," said he at length--"time enough--home by-and-by." I had

expected a similar reply, but there was something in the tone of these

words which filled me with an indescribable feeling of dread. I again

looked at the speaker attentively. His lips were perfectly livid, and

his knees shook so violently together that he seemed scarcely able to

stand. "For God's sake, Augustus," I screamed, now heartily frightened,

"what ails you?--what is the matter?--what _are_ you going to do?"

"Matter!" he stammered, in the greatest apparent surprise, letting go

the tiller at the same moment, and falling forward into the bottom of

the boat--"matter--why, nothing is the--matter--going home--d--d--don't

you see?" The whole truth now flashed upon me. I flew to him and raised

him up. He was drunk--beastly drunk--he could no longer either stand,

speak, or see. His eyes were perfectly glazed; and as I let him go

in the extremity of my despair, he rolled like a mere log into the

bilge-water, from which I had lifted him. It was evident that, during

the evening, he had drunk far more than I suspected, and that his

conduct in bed had been the result of a highly-concentrated state of

intoxication--a state which, like madness, frequently enables the victim

to imitate the outward demeanour of one in perfect possession of his

senses. The coolness of the night air, however, had had its usual

effect--the mental energy began to yield before its influence--and the

confused perception which he no doubt then had of his perilous situation

had assisted in hastening the catastrophe. He was now thoroughly

insensible, and there was no probability that he would be otherwise for

many hours.

 

It is hardly possible to conceive the extremity of my terror. The fumes

of the wine lately taken had evaporated, leaving me doubly timid and

irresolute. I knew that I was altogether incapable of managing the

boat, and that a fierce wind and strong ebb tide were hurrying us to

destruction. A storm was evidently gathering behind us; we had neither

compass nor provisions; and it was clear that, if we held our present

course, we should be out of sight of land before daybreak. These

thoughts, with a crowd of others equally fearful, flashed through my

mind with a bewildering rapidity, and for some moments paralyzed me

beyond the possibility of making any exertion. The boat was going

through the water at a terrible rate--full before the wind--no reef in

either jib or mainsail--running her bows completely under the foam. It

was a thousand wonders she did not broach to--Augustus having let go

the tiller, as I said before, and I being too much agitated to think of

taking it myself. By good luck, however, she kept steady, and gradually

I recovered some degree of presence of mind. Still the wind was

increasing fearfully, and whenever we rose from a plunge forward, the

sea behind fell combing over our counter, and deluged us with water. I

was so utterly benumbed, too, in every limb, as to be nearly unconscious

of sensation. At length I summoned up the resolution of despair,

and rushing to the mainsail let it go by the run. As might have been

expected, it flew over the bows, and, getting drenched with water,

carried away the mast short off by the board. This latter accident alone

saved me from instant destruction. Under the jib only, I now boomed

along before the wind, shipping heavy seas occasionally over the

counter, but relieved from the terror of immediate death. I took the

helm, and breathed with greater freedom as I found that there yet

remained to us a chance of ultimate escape. Augustus still lay senseless

in the bottom of the boat; and as there was imminent danger of his

drowning (the water being nearly a foot deep just where he fell), I

contrived to raise him partially up, and keep him in a sitting position,

by passing a rope round his waist, and lashing it to a ringbolt in the

deck of the cuddy. Having thus arranged every thing as well as I could

in my chilled and agitated condition, I recommended myself to God, and

made up my mind to bear whatever might happen with all the fortitude in

my power.

 

Hardly had I come to this resolution, when, suddenly, a loud and long

scream or yell, as if from the throats of a thousand demons, seemed to

pervade the whole atmosphere around and above the boat. Never while I

live shall I forget the intense agony of terror I experienced at that

moment. My hair stood erect on my head--I felt the blood congealing

in my veins--my heart ceased utterly to beat, and without having once

raised my eyes to learn the source of my alarm, I tumbled headlong and

insensible upon the body of my fallen companion.

 

I found myself, upon reviving, in the cabin of a large whaling-ship (the

Penguin) bound to Nantucket. Several persons were standing over me, and

Augustus, paler than death, was busily occupied in chafing my hands.

Upon seeing me open my eyes, his exclamations of gratitude and joy

excited alternate laughter and tears from the rough-looking personages

who were present. The mystery of our being in existence was now

soon explained. We had been run down by the whaling-ship, which was

close-hauled, beating up to Nantucket with every sail she could venture

to set, and consequently running almost at right angles to our own

course. Several men were on the look-out forward, but did not perceive

our boat until it was an impossibility to avoid coming in contact--their

shouts of warning upon seeing us were what so terribly alarmed me. The

huge ship, I was told, rode immediately over us with as much ease as

our own little vessel would have passed over a feather, and without the

least perceptible impediment to her progress. Not a scream arose from

the deck of the victim--there was a slight grating sound to be heard

mingling with the roar of wind and water, as the frail bark which was

swallowed up rubbed for a moment along the keel of her destroyer--but

this was all. Thinking our boat (which it will be remembered was

dismasted) some mere shell cut adrift as useless, the captain (Captain

E. T. V. Block, of New London) was for proceeding on his course without

troubling himself further about the matter. Luckily, there were two

of the look-out who swore positively to having seen some person at our

helm, and represented the possibility of yet saving him. A discussion

ensued, when Block grew angry, and, after a while, said that "it was no

business of his to be eternally watching for egg-shells; that the ship

should not put about for any such nonsense; and if there was a man run

down, it was nobody's fault but his own, he might drown and be dammed"

or some language to that effect. Henderson, the first mate, now took the

matter up, being justly indignant, as well as the whole ship's crew,

at a speech evincing so base a degree of heartless atrocity. He

spoke plainly, seeing himself upheld by the men, told the captain he

considered him a fit subject for the gallows, and that he would disobey

his orders if he were hanged for it the moment he set his foot on shore.

He strode aft, jostling Block (who turned pale and made no answer)

on one side, and seizing the helm, gave the word, in a firm voice,

Hard-a-lee! The men flew to their posts, and the ship went cleverly

about. All this had occupied nearly five minutes, and it was supposed to

be hardly within the bounds of possibility that any individual could be

saved--allowing any to have been on board the boat. Yet, as the reader

has seen, both Augustus and myself were rescued; and our deliverance

seemed to have been brought about by two of those almost inconceivable

pieces of good fortune which are attributed by the wise and pious to the

special interference of Providence.

 

While the ship was yet in stays, the mate lowered the jolly-boat and

jumped into her with the very two men, I believe, who spoke up as having

seen me at the helm. They had just left the lee of the vessel (the moon

still shining brightly) when she made a long and heavy roll to windward,

and Henderson, at the same moment, starting up in his seat bawled out

to his crew to back water. He would say nothing else--repeating his cry

impatiently, back water! black water! The men put back as speedily as

possible, but by this time the ship had gone round, and gotten fully

under headway, although all hands on board were making great exertions

to take in sail. In despite of the danger of the attempt, the mate clung

to the main-chains as soon as they came within his reach. Another huge

lurch now brought the starboard side of the vessel out of water nearly

as far as her keel, when the cause of his anxiety was rendered obvious

enough. The body of a man was seen to be affixed in the most singular

manner to the smooth and shining bottom (the Penguin was coppered and

copper-fastened), and beating violently against it with every movement

of the hull. After several ineffectual efforts, made during the lurches

of the ship, and at the imminent risk of swamping the boat I was finally

disengaged from my perilous situation and taken on board--for the body

proved to be my own. It appeared that one of the timber-bolts having

started and broken a passage through the copper, it had arrested my

progress as I passed under the ship, and fastened me in so extraordinary

a manner to her bottom. The head of the bolt had made its way through

the collar of the green baize jacket I had on, and through the back part

of my neck, forcing itself out between two sinews and just below the

right ear. I was immediately put to bed--although life seemed to be

totally extinct. There was no surgeon on board. The captain, however,

treated me with every attention--to make amends, I presume, in the eyes

of his crew, for his atrocious behaviour in the previous portion of the

adventure.

 

In the meantime, Henderson had again put off from the ship, although

the wind was now blowing almost a hurricane. He had not been gone many

minutes when he fell in with some fragments of our boat, and shortly

afterward one of the men with him asserted that he could distinguish a

cry for help at intervals amid the roaring of the tempest. This induced

the hardy seamen to persevere in their search for more than half an

hour, although repeated signals to return were made them by Captain

Block, and although every moment on the water in so frail a boat was

fraught to them with the most imminent and deadly peril. Indeed, it is

nearly impossible to conceive how the small jolly they were in could

have escaped destruction for a single instant. She was built, however,

for the whaling service, and was fitted, as I have since had reason to

believe, with air-boxes, in the manner of some life-boats used on the

coast of Wales.

 

After searching in vain for about the period of time just mentioned,

it was determined to get back to the ship. They had scarcely made this

resolve when a feeble cry arose from a dark object that floated rapidly

by. They pursued and soon overtook it. It proved to be the entire deck

of the Ariel's cuddy. Augustus was struggling near it, apparently in the

last agonies. Upon getting hold of him it was found that he was attached

by a rope to the floating timber. This rope, it will be remembered, I

had myself tied around his waist, and made fast to a ringbolt, for

the purpose of keeping him in an upright position, and my so doing,

it appeared, had been ultimately the means of preserving his life. The

Ariel was slightly put together, and in going down her frame naturally

went to pieces; the deck of the cuddy, as might have been expected, was

lifted, by the force of the water rushing in, entirely from the

main timbers, and floated (with other fragments, no doubt) to the

surface--Augustus was buoyed up with it, and thus escaped a terrible

death.

 

It was more than an hour after being taken on board the Penguin before

he could give any account of himself, or be made to comprehend the

nature of the accident which had befallen our boat. At length he became

thoroughly aroused, and spoke much of his sensations while in the water.

Upon his first attaining any degree of consciousness, he found himself

beneath the surface, whirling round and round with inconceivable

rapidity, and with a rope wrapped in three or four folds tightly about

his neck. In an instant afterward he felt himself going rapidly upward,

when, his head striking violently against a hard substance, he again

relapsed into insensibility. Upon once more reviving he was in fuller

possession of his reason--this was still, however, in the greatest

degree clouded and confused. He now knew that some accident had

occurred, and that he was in the water, although his mouth was above

the surface, and he could breathe with some freedom. Possibly, at this

period the deck was drifting rapidly before the wind, and drawing him

after it, as he floated upon his back. Of course, as long as he could

have retained this position, it would have been nearly impossible that

he should be drowned. Presently a surge threw him directly athwart the

deck, and this post he endeavored to maintain, screaming at intervals

for help. Just before he was discovered by Mr. Henderson, he had been

obliged to relax his hold through exhaustion, and, falling into the sea,

had given himself up for lost. During the whole period of his struggles

he had not the faintest recollection of the Ariel, nor of the matters in

connexion with the source of his disaster. A vague feeling of terror

and despair had taken entire possession of his faculties. When he was

finally picked up, every power of his mind had failed him; and, as

before said, it was nearly an hour after getting on board the Penguin

before he became fully aware of his condition. In regard to myself--I

was resuscitated from a state bordering very nearly upon death (and

after every other means had been tried in vain for three hours and a

half) by vigorous friction with flannels bathed in hot oil--a proceeding

suggested by Augustus. The wound in my neck, although of an ugly

appearance, proved of little real consequence, and I soon recovered from

its effects.

 

The Penguin got into port about nine o'clock in the morning, after

encountering one of the severest gales ever experienced off Nantucket.

Both Augustus and myself managed to appear at Mr. Barnard's in time for

breakfast--which, luckily, was somewhat late, owing to the party over

night. I suppose all at the table were too much fatigued themselves to

notice our jaded appearance--of course, it would not have borne a very

rigid scrutiny. Schoolboys, however, can accomplish wonders in the way

of deception, and I verily believe not one of our friends in Nantucket

had the slightest suspicion that the terrible story told by some sailors

in town of their having run down a vessel at sea and drowned some thirty

or forty poor devils, had reference either to the Ariel, my companion,

or myself. We two have since very frequently talked the matter over--but

never without a shudder. In one of our conversations Augustus frankly

confessed to me, that in his whole life he had at no time experienced

so excruciating a sense of dismay, as when on board our little boat

he first discovered the extent of his intoxication, and felt himself

sinking beneath its influence.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 2

 

IN no affairs of mere prejudice, pro or con, do we deduce inferences

with entire certainty, even from the most simple data. It might be

supposed that a catastrophe such as I have just related would have

effectually cooled my incipient passion for the sea. On the contrary, I

never experienced a more ardent longing for the wild adventures incident

to the life of a navigator than within a week after our miraculous

deliverance. This short period proved amply long enough to erase from

my memory the shadows, and bring out in vivid light all the pleasurably

exciting points of color, all the picturesqueness, of the late perilous

accident. My conversations with Augustus grew daily more frequent and

more intensely full of interest. He had a manner of relating his stories

of the ocean (more than one half of which I now suspect to have

been sheer fabrications) well adapted to have weight with one of

my enthusiastic temperament and somewhat gloomy although glowing

imagination. It is strange, too, that he most strongly enlisted my

feelings in behalf of the life of a seaman, when he depicted his more

terrible moments of suffering and despair. For the bright side of the

painting I had a limited sympathy. My visions were of shipwreck and

famine; of death or captivity among barbarian hordes; of a lifetime

dragged out in sorrow and tears, upon some gray and desolate rock, in

an ocean unapproachable and unknown. Such visions or desires--for they

amounted to desires--are common, I have since been assured, to the whole

numerous race of the melancholy among men--at the time of which I speak

I regarded them only as prophetic glimpses of a destiny which I felt

myself in a measure bound to fulfil. Augustus thoroughly entered into my

state of mind. It is probable, indeed, that our intimate communion had

resulted in a partial interchange of character.

 

About eighteen months after the period of the Ariel's disaster, the

firm of Lloyd and Vredenburgh (a house connected in some manner with the

Messieurs Enderby, I believe, of Liverpool) were engaged in repairing

and fitting out the brig Grampus for a whaling voyage. She was an old

hulk, and scarcely seaworthy when all was done to her that could be

done. I hardly know why she was chosen in preference to other good

vessels belonging to the same owners--but so it was. Mr. Barnard was

appointed to command her, and Augustus was going with him. While the

brig was getting ready, he frequently urged upon me the excellency of

the opportunity now offered for indulging my desire of travel. He found

me by no means an unwilling listener--yet the matter could not be so

easily arranged. My father made no direct opposition; but my mother went

into hysterics at the bare mention of the design; and, more than all,

my grandfather, from whom I expected much, vowed to cut me off with

a shilling if I should ever broach the subject to him again. These

difficulties, however, so far from abating my desire, only added fuel to

the flame. I determined to go at all hazards; and, having made known my

intentions to Augustus, we set about arranging a plan by which it

might be accomplished. In the meantime I forbore speaking to any of my

relations in regard to the voyage, and, as I busied myself ostensibly

with my usual studies, it was supposed that I had abandoned the design.

I have since frequently examined my conduct on this occasion with

sentiments of displeasure as well as of surprise. The intense hypocrisy

I made use of for the furtherance of my project--an hypocrisy pervading

every word and action of my life for so long a period of time--could

only have been rendered tolerable to myself by the wild and burning

expectation with which I looked forward to the fulfilment of my

long-cherished visions of travel.

 

In pursuance of my scheme of deception, I was necessarily obliged to

leave much to the management of Augustus, who was employed for the

greater part of every day on board the Grampus, attending to some

arrangements for his father in the cabin and cabin hold. At night,

however, we were sure to have a conference and talk over our hopes.

After nearly a month passed in this manner, without our hitting upon

any plan we thought likely to succeed, he told me at last that he had

determined upon everything necessary. I had a relation living in New

Bedford, a Mr. Ross, at whose house I was in the habit of spending

occasionally two or three weeks at a time. The brig was to sail about

the middle of June (June, 1827), and it was agreed that, a day or two

before her putting to sea, my father was to receive a note, as usual,

from Mr. Ross, asking me to come over and spend a fortnight with Robert

and Emmet (his sons). Augustus charged himself with the inditing of

this note and getting it delivered. Having set out as supposed, for New

Bedford, I was then to report myself to my companion, who would contrive

a hiding-place for me in the Grampus. This hiding-place, he assured me,

would be rendered sufficiently comfortable for a residence of many

days, during which I was not to make my appearance. When the brig had

proceeded so far on her course as to make any turning back a matter out

of question, I should then, he said, be formally installed in all

the comforts of the cabin; and as to his father, he would only laugh

heartily at the joke. Vessels enough would be met with by which a letter

might be sent home explaining the adventure to my parents.

 

The middle of June at length arrived, and every thing had been matured.

The note was written and delivered, and on a Monday morning I left the

house for the New Bedford packet, as supposed. I went, however, straight

to Augustus, who was waiting for me at the corner of a street. It had

been our original plan that I should keep out of the way until dark, and

then slip on board the brig; but, as there was now a thick fog in our

favor, it was agreed to lose no time in secreting me. Augustus led the

way to the wharf, and I followed at a little distance, enveloped in a

thick seaman's cloak, which he had brought with him, so that my person

might not be easily recognized. Just as we turned the second corner,

after passing Mr. Edmund's well, who should appear, standing right in

front of me, and looking me full in the face, but old Mr. Peterson, my

grandfather. "Why, bless my soul, Gordon," said he, after a long pause,

"why, why,--whose dirty cloak is that you have on?" "Sir!" I replied,

assuming, as well as I could, in the exigency of the moment, an air

of offended surprise, and talking in the gruffest of all imaginable

tones--"sir! you are a sum'mat mistaken--my name, in the first place,

bee'nt nothing at all like Goddin, and I'd want you for to know better,

you blackguard, than to call my new obercoat a darty one." For my life

I could hardly refrain from screaming with laughter at the odd manner in

which the old gentleman received this handsome rebuke. He started back

two or three steps, turned first pale and then excessively red, threw up

his spectacles, then, putting them down, ran full tilt at me, with

his umbrella uplifted. He stopped short, however, in his career, as if

struck with a sudden recollection; and presently, turning round, hobbled

off down the street, shaking all the while with rage, and muttering

between his teeth: "Won't do--new glasses--thought it was Gordon--d--d

good-for-nothing salt water Long Tom."

 

After this narrow escape we proceeded with greater caution, and arrived

at our point of destination in safety. There were only one or two of

the hands on board, and these were busy forward, doing something to the

forecastle combings. Captain Barnard, we knew very well, was engaged

at Lloyd and Vredenburgh's, and would remain there until late in the

evening, so we had little to apprehend on his account. Augustus went

first up the vessel's side, and in a short while I followed him, without

being noticed by the men at work. We proceeded at once into the cabin,

and found no person there. It was fitted up in the most comfortable

style--a thing somewhat unusual in a whaling-vessel. There were four

very excellent staterooms, with wide and convenient berths. There was

also a large stove, I took notice, and a remarkably thick and valuable

carpet covering the floor of both the cabin and staterooms. The ceiling

was full seven feet high, and, in short, every thing appeared of a more

roomy and agreeable nature than I had anticipated. Augustus, however,

would allow me but little time for observation, insisting upon the

necessity of my concealing myself as soon as possible. He led the way

into his own stateroom, which was on the starboard side of the brig, and

next to the bulkheads. Upon entering, he closed the door and bolted it.

I thought I had never seen a nicer little room than the one in which I

now found myself. It was about ten feet long, and had only one berth,

which, as I said before, was wide and convenient. In that portion of

the closet nearest the bulkheads there was a space of four feet square,

containing a table, a chair, and a set of hanging shelves full of books,

chiefly books of voyages and travels. There were many other little

comforts in the room, among which I ought not to forget a kind of

safe or refrigerator, in which Augustus pointed out to me a host of

delicacies, both in the eating and drinking department.

 

He now pressed with his knuckles upon a certain spot of the carpet in

one corner of the space just mentioned, letting me know that a portion

of the flooring, about sixteen inches square, had been neatly cut out

and again adjusted. As he pressed, this portion rose up at one end

sufficiently to allow the passage of his finger beneath. In this manner

he raised the mouth of the trap (to which the carpet was still fastened

by tacks), and I found that it led into the after hold. He next lit a

small taper by means of a phosphorous match, and, placing the light in a

dark lantern, descended with it through the opening, bidding me follow.

I did so, and he then pulled the cover upon the hole, by means of a nail

driven into the under side--the carpet, of course, resuming its original

position on the floor of the stateroom, and all traces of the aperture

being concealed.

 

The taper gave out so feeble a ray that it was with the greatest

difficulty I could grope my way through the confused mass of lumber

among which I now found myself. By degrees, however, my eyes became

accustomed to the gloom, and I proceeded with less trouble, holding

on to the skirts of my friend's coat. He brought me, at length,

after creeping and winding through innumerable narrow passages, to an

iron-bound box, such as is used sometimes for packing fine earthenware.

It was nearly four feet high, and full six long, but very narrow. Two

large empty oil-casks lay on the top of it, and above these, again, a

vast quantity of straw matting, piled up as high as the floor of

the cabin. In every other direction around was wedged as closely as

possible, even up to the ceiling, a complete chaos of almost every

species of ship-furniture, together with a heterogeneous medley of

crates, hampers, barrels, and bales, so that it seemed a matter no less

than miraculous that we had discovered any passage at all to the box. I

afterward found that Augustus had purposely arranged the stowage in this

hold with a view to affording me a thorough concealment, having had only

one assistant in the labour, a man not going out in the brig.

 

My companion now showed me that one of the ends of the box could be

removed at pleasure. He slipped it aside and displayed the interior, at

which I was excessively amused. A mattress from one of the cabin berths

covered the whole of its bottom, and it contained almost every article

of mere comfort which could be crowded into so small a space, allowing

me, at the same time, sufficient room for my accommodation, either in a

sitting position or lying at full length. Among other things, there were

some books, pen, ink, and paper, three blankets, a large jug full of

water, a keg of sea-biscuit, three or four immense Bologna sausages, an

enormous ham, a cold leg of roast mutton, and half a dozen bottles of

cordials and liqueurs. I proceeded immediately to take possession of my

little apartment, and this with feelings of higher satisfaction, I am

sure, than any monarch ever experienced upon entering a new palace.

Augustus now pointed out to me the method of fastening the open end

of the box, and then, holding the taper close to the deck, showed me a

piece of dark whipcord lying along it. This, he said, extended from my

hiding-place throughout an the necessary windings among the lumber, to a

nail which was driven into the deck of the hold, immediately beneath the

trap-door leading into his stateroom. By means of this cord I should be

enabled readily to trace my way out without his guidance, provided any

unlooked-for accident should render such a step necessary. He now took

his departure, leaving with me the lantern, together with a copious

supply of tapers and phosphorous, and promising to pay me a visit as

often as he could contrive to do so without observation. This was on the

seventeenth of June.

 

I remained three days and nights (as nearly as I could guess) in my

hiding-place without getting out of it at all, except twice for the

purpose of stretching my limbs by standing erect between two crates just

opposite the opening. During the whole period I saw nothing of Augustus;

but this occasioned me little uneasiness, as I knew the brig was

expected to put to sea every hour, and in the bustle he would not easily

find opportunities of coming down to me. At length I heard the trap

open and shut, and presently he called in a low voice, asking if all was

well, and if there was any thing I wanted. "Nothing," I replied; "I am

as comfortable as can be; when will the brig sail?" "She will be under

weigh in less than half an hour," he answered. "I came to let you know,

and for fear you should be uneasy at my absence. I shall not have a

chance of coming down again for some time--perhaps for three or four

days more. All is going on right aboveboard. After I go up and close the

trap, do you creep along by the whipcord to where the nail is driven in.

You will find my watch there--it may be useful to you, as you have no

daylight to keep time by. I suppose you can't tell how long you have

been buried--only three days--this is the twentieth. I would bring the

watch to your box, but am afraid of being missed." With this he went up.

 

In about an hour after he had gone I distinctly felt the brig in motion,

and congratulated myself upon having at length fairly commenced a

voyage. Satisfied with this idea, I determined to make my mind as easy

as possible, and await the course of events until I should be

permitted to exchange the box for the more roomy, although hardly more

comfortable, accommodations of the cabin. My first care was to get the

watch. Leaving the taper burning, I groped along in the dark, following

the cord through windings innumerable, in some of which I discovered

that, after toiling a long distance, I was brought back within a foot or

two of a former position. At length I reached the nail, and securing the

object of my journey, returned with it in safety. I now looked over

the books which had been so thoughtfully provided, and selected the

expedition of Lewis and Clarke to the mouth of the Columbia. With this

I amused myself for some time, when, growing sleepy, I extinguished the

light with great care, and soon fell into a sound slumber.

 

Upon awakening I felt strangely confused in mind, and some time elapsed

before I could bring to recollection all the various circumstances of

my situation. By degrees, however, I remembered all. Striking a light, I

looked at the watch; but it was run down, and there were, consequently,

no means of determining how long I slept. My limbs were greatly cramped,

and I was forced to relieve them by standing between the crates.

Presently feeling an almost ravenous appetite, I bethought myself of the

cold mutton, some of which I had eaten just before going to sleep, and

found excellent. What was my astonishment in discovering it to be in a

state of absolute putrefaction! This circumstance occasioned me great

disquietude; for, connecting it with the disorder of mind I experienced

upon awakening, I began to suppose that I must have slept for an

inordinately long period of time. The close atmosphere of the hold might

have had something to do with this, and might, in the end, be productive

of the most serious results. My head ached excessively; I fancied that I

drew every breath with difficulty; and, in short, I was oppressed with

a multitude of gloomy feelings. Still I could not venture to make any

disturbance by opening the trap or otherwise, and, having wound up the

watch, contented myself as well as possible.

 

Throughout the whole of the next tedious twenty-four hours no person

came to my relief, and I could not help accusing Augustus of the

grossest inattention. What alarmed me chiefly was, that the water in

my jug was reduced to about half a pint, and I was suffering much from

thirst, having eaten freely of the Bologna sausages after the loss of my

mutton. I became very uneasy, and could no longer take any interest in

my books. I was overpowered, too, with a desire to sleep, yet trembled

at the thought of indulging it, lest there might exist some pernicious

influence, like that of burning charcoal, in the confined air of the

hold. In the meantime the roll of the brig told me that we were far in

the main ocean, and a dull humming sound, which reached my ears as if

from an immense distance, convinced me no ordinary gale was blowing. I

could not imagine a reason for the absence of Augustus. We were surely

far enough advanced on our voyage to allow of my going up. Some accident

might have happened to him--but I could think of none which would

account for his suffering me to remain so long a prisoner, except,

indeed, his having suddenly died or fallen overboard, and upon this idea

I could not dwell with any degree of patience. It was possible that we

had been baffled by head winds, and were still in the near vicinity of

Nantucket. This notion, however, I was forced to abandon; for such being

the case, the brig must have frequently gone about; and I was entirely

satisfied, from her continual inclination to the larboard, that she had

been sailing all along with a steady breeze on her starboard quarter.

Besides, granting that we were still in the neighborhood of the

island, why should not Augustus have visited me and informed me of

the circumstance? Pondering in this manner upon the difficulties of

my solitary and cheerless condition, I resolved to wait yet another

twenty-four hours, when, if no relief were obtained, I would make my way

to the trap, and endeavour either to hold a parley with my friend,

or get at least a little fresh air through the opening, and a further

supply of water from the stateroom. While occupied with this thought,

however, I fell in spite of every exertion to the contrary, into a state

of profound sleep, or rather stupor. My dreams were of the most terrific

description. Every species of calamity and horror befell me. Among other

miseries I was smothered to death between huge pillows, by demons of

the most ghastly and ferocious aspect. Immense serpents held me in their

embrace, and looked earnestly in my face with their fearfully shining

eyes. Then deserts, limitless, and of the most forlorn and awe-inspiring

character, spread themselves out before me. Immensely tall trunks of

trees, gray and leafless, rose up in endless succession as far as the

eye could reach. Their roots were concealed in wide-spreading morasses,

whose dreary water lay intensely black, still, and altogether terrible,

beneath. And the strange trees seemed endowed with a human vitality, and

waving to and fro their skeleton arms, were crying to the silent waters

for mercy, in the shrill and piercing accents of the most acute agony

and despair. The scene changed; and I stood, naked and alone, amidst the

burning sand-plains of Sahara. At my feet lay crouched a fierce lion

of the tropics. Suddenly his wild eyes opened and fell upon me. With

a conclusive bound he sprang to his feet, and laid bare his horrible

teeth. In another instant there burst from his red throat a roar like

the thunder of the firmament, and I fell impetuously to the earth.

Stifling in a paroxysm of terror, I at last found myself partially

awake. My dream, then, was not all a dream. Now, at least, I was in

possession of my senses. The paws of some huge and real monster were

pressing heavily upon my bosom--his hot breath was in my ear--and his

white and ghastly fangs were gleaming upon me through the gloom.

 

Had a thousand lives hung upon the movement of a limb or the utterance

of a syllable, I could have neither stirred nor spoken. The beast,

whatever it was, retained his position without attempting any immediate

violence, while I lay in an utterly helpless, and, I fancied, a dying

condition beneath him. I felt that my powers of body and mind were fast

leaving me--in a word, that I was perishing, and perishing of sheer

fright. My brain swam--I grew deadly sick--my vision failed--even the

glaring eyeballs above me grew dim. Making a last strong effort, I at

length breathed a faint ejaculation to God, and resigned myself to

die. The sound of my voice seemed to arouse all the latent fury of the

animal. He precipitated himself at full length upon my body; but what

was my astonishment, when, with a long and low whine, he commenced

licking my face and hands with the greatest eagerness, and with the

most extravagant demonstration of affection and joy! I was bewildered,

utterly lost in amazement--but I could not forget the peculiar whine

of my Newfoundland dog Tiger, and the odd manner of his caresses I well

knew. It was he. I experienced a sudden rush of blood to my temples--a

giddy and overpowering sense of deliverance and reanimation. I rose

hurriedly from the mattress upon which I had been lying, and, throwing

myself upon the neck of my faithful follower and friend, relieved the

long oppression of my bosom in a flood of the most passionate tears.

 

As upon a former occasion my conceptions were in a state of the greatest

indistinctness and confusion after leaving the mattress. For a long time

I found it nearly impossible to connect any ideas; but, by very slow

degrees, my thinking faculties returned, and I again called to memory

the several incidents of my condition. For the presence of Tiger I tried

in vain to account; and after busying myself with a thousand different

conjectures respecting him, was forced to content myself with rejoicing

that he was with me to share my dreary solitude, and render me comfort

by his caresses. Most people love their dogs--but for Tiger I had an

affection far more ardent than common; and never, certainly, did

any creature more truly deserve it. For seven years he had been my

inseparable companion, and in a multitude of instances had given

evidence of all the noble qualities for which we value the animal. I

had rescued him, when a puppy, from the clutches of a malignant little

villain in Nantucket who was leading him, with a rope around his neck,

to the water; and the grown dog repaid the obligation, about three years

afterward, by saving me from the bludgeon of a street robber.

 

Getting now hold of the watch, I found, upon applying it to my ear, that

it had again run down; but at this I was not at all surprised, being

convinced, from the peculiar state of my feelings, that I had slept,

as before, for a very long period of time, how long, it was of course

impossible to say. I was burning up with fever, and my thirst was almost

intolerable. I felt about the box for my little remaining supply of

water, for I had no light, the taper having burnt to the socket of the

lantern, and the phosphorus-box not coming readily to hand. Upon finding

the jug, however, I discovered it to be empty--Tiger, no doubt, having

been tempted to drink it, as well as to devour the remnant of mutton,

the bone of which lay, well picked, by the opening of the box. The

spoiled meat I could well spare, but my heart sank as I thought of the

water. I was feeble in the extreme--so much so that I shook all over,

as with an ague, at the slightest movement or exertion. To add to my

troubles, the brig was pitching and rolling with great violence, and

the oil-casks which lay upon my box were in momentary danger of falling

down, so as to block up the only way of ingress or egress. I felt, also,

terrible sufferings from sea-sickness. These considerations determined

me to make my way, at all hazards, to the trap, and obtain immediate

relief, before I should be incapacitated from doing so altogether.

Having come to this resolve, I again felt about for the phosphorus-box

and tapers. The former I found after some little trouble; but, not

discovering the tapers as soon as I had expected (for I remembered very

nearly the spot in which I had placed them), I gave up the search for

the present, and bidding Tiger lie quiet, began at once my journey

toward the trap.

 

In this attempt my great feebleness became more than ever apparent.

It was with the utmost difficulty I could crawl along at all, and

very frequently my limbs sank suddenly from beneath me; when, falling

prostrate on my face, I would remain for some minutes in a state

bordering on insensibility. Still I struggled forward by slow degrees,

dreading every moment that I should swoon amid the narrow and intricate

windings of the lumber, in which event I had nothing but death to expect

as the result. At length, upon making a push forward with all the energy

I could command, I struck my forehead violently against the sharp corner

of an iron-bound crate. The accident only stunned me for a few moments;

but I found, to my inexpressible grief, that the quick and violent

roll of the vessel had thrown the crate entirely across my path, so as

effectually to block up the passage. With my utmost exertions I could

not move it a single inch from its position, it being closely wedged

in among the surrounding boxes and ship-furniture. It became necessary,

therefore, enfeebled as I was, either to leave the guidance of the

whipcord and seek out a new passage, or to climb over the obstacle, and

resume the path on the other side. The former alternative presented too

many difficulties and dangers to be thought of without a shudder. In my

present weak state of both mind and body, I should infallibly lose

my way if I attempted it, and perish miserably amid the dismal and

disgusting labyrinths of the hold. I proceeded, therefore, without

hesitation, to summon up all my remaining strength and fortitude, and

endeavour, as I best might, to clamber over the crate.

 

Upon standing erect, with this end in view, I found the undertaking even

a more serious task than my fears had led me to imagine. On each side of

the narrow passage arose a complete wall of various heavy lumber, which

the least blunder on my part might be the means of bringing down upon my

head; or, if this accident did not occur, the path might be effectually

blocked up against my return by the descending mass, as it was in front

by the obstacle there. The crate itself was a long and unwieldy box,

upon which no foothold could be obtained. In vain I attempted, by every

means in my power, to reach the top, with the hope of being thus enabled

to draw myself up. Had I succeeded in reaching it, it is certain that

my strength would have proved utterly inadequate to the task of getting

over, and it was better in every respect that I failed. At length, in

a desperate effort to force the crate from its ground, I felt a strong

vibration in the side next me. I thrust my hand eagerly to the edge

of the planks, and found that a very large one was loose. With my

pocket-knife, which, luckily, I had with me, I succeeded, after great

labour, in prying it entirely off; and getting it through the aperture,

discovered, to my exceeding joy, that there were no boards on the

opposite side--in other words, that the top was wanting, it being the

bottom through which I had forced my way. I now met with no important

difficulty in proceeding along the line until I finally reached the

nail. With a beating heart I stood erect, and with a gentle touch

pressed against the cover of the trap. It did not rise as soon as I

had expected, and I pressed it with somewhat more determination,

still dreading lest some other person than Augustus might be in his

state-room. The door, however, to my astonishment, remained steady, and

I became somewhat uneasy, for I knew that it had formerly required

but little or no effort to remove it. I pushed it strongly--it was

nevertheless firm: with all my strength--it still did not give way: with

rage, with fury, with despair--it set at defiance my utmost efforts; and

it was evident, from the unyielding nature of the resistance, that the

hole had either been discovered and effectually nailed up, or that some

immense weight had been placed upon it, which it was useless to think of

removing.

 

My sensations were those of extreme horror and dismay. In vain I

attempted to reason on the probable cause of my being thus entombed. I

could summon up no connected chain of reflection, and, sinking on the

floor, gave way, unresistingly, to the most gloomy imaginings, in

which the dreadful deaths of thirst, famine, suffocation, and premature

interment crowded upon me as the prominent disasters to be encountered.

At length there returned to me some portion of presence of mind. I

arose, and felt with my fingers for the seams or cracks of the aperture.

Having found them, I examined them closely to ascertain if they emitted

any light from the state-room; but none was visible. I then forced the

blade of my pen-knife through them, until I met with some hard obstacle.

Scraping against it, I discovered it to be a solid mass of iron, which,

from its peculiar wavy feel as I passed the blade along it, I concluded

to be a chain-cable. The only course now left me was to retrace my

way to the box, and there either yield to my sad fate, or try so to

tranquilize my mind as to admit of my arranging some plan of escape.

I immediately set about the attempt, and succeeded, after innumerable

difficulties, in getting back. As I sank, utterly exhausted, upon the

mattress, Tiger threw himself at full length by my side, and seemed as

if desirous, by his caresses, of consoling me in my troubles, and urging

me to bear them with fortitude.

 

The singularity of his behavior at length forcibly arrested my

attention. After licking my face and hands for some minutes, he would

suddenly cease doing so, and utter a low whine. Upon reaching out my

hand toward him, I then invariably found him lying on his back, with his

paws uplifted. This conduct, so frequently repeated, appeared strange,

and I could in no manner account for it. As the dog seemed distressed,

I concluded that he had received some injury; and, taking his paws in my

hands, I examined them one by one, but found no sign of any hurt. I

then supposed him hungry, and gave him a large piece of ham, which he

devoured with avidity--afterward, however, resuming his extraordinary

manoeuvres. I now imagined that he was suffering, like myself, the

torments of thirst, and was about adopting this conclusion as the true

one, when the idea occurred to me that I had as yet only examined his

paws, and that there might possibly be a wound upon some portion of his

body or head. The latter I felt carefully over, but found nothing. On

passing my hand, however, along his back, I perceived a slight erection

of the hair extending completely across it. Probing this with my finger,

I discovered a string, and tracing it up, found that it encircled the

whole body. Upon a closer scrutiny, I came across a small slip of what

had the feeling of letter paper, through which the string had been

fastened in such a manner as to bring it immediately beneath the left

shoulder of the animal.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 3

 

THE thought instantly occurred to me that the paper was a note from

Augustus, and that some unaccountable accident having happened to

prevent his relieving me from my dungeon, he had devised this method of

acquainting me with the true state of affairs. Trembling with eagerness,

I now commenced another search for my phosphorus matches and tapers.

I had a confused recollection of having put them carefully away just

before falling asleep; and, indeed, previously to my last journey to the

trap, I had been able to remember the exact spot where I had deposited

them. But now I endeavored in vain to call it to mind, and busied myself

for a full hour in a fruitless and vexatious search for the missing

articles; never, surely, was there a more tantalizing state of anxiety

and suspense. At length, while groping about, with my head close to the

ballast, near the opening of the box, and outside of it, I perceived

a faint glimmering of light in the direction of the steerage. Greatly

surprised, I endeavored to make my way toward it, as it appeared to

be but a few feet from my position. Scarcely had I moved with this

intention, when I lost sight of the glimmer entirely, and, before I

could bring it into view again, was obliged to feel along by the box

until I had exactly resumed my original situation. Now, moving my head

with caution to and fro, I found that, by proceeding slowly, with great

care, in an opposite direction to that in which I had at first started,

I was enabled to draw near the light, still keeping it in view.

Presently I came directly upon it (having squeezed my way through

innumerable narrow windings), and found that it proceeded from some

fragments of my matches lying in an empty barrel turned upon its side. I

was wondering how they came in such a place, when my hand fell upon two

or three pieces of taper wax, which had been evidently mumbled by the

dog. I concluded at once that he had devoured the whole of my supply

of candles, and I felt hopeless of being ever able to read the note of

Augustus. The small remnants of the wax were so mashed up among other

rubbish in the barrel, that I despaired of deriving any service from

them, and left them as they were. The phosphorus, of which there was

only a speck or two, I gathered up as well as I could, and returned

with it, after much difficulty, to my box, where Tiger had all the while

remained.

 

What to do next I could not tell. The hold was so intensely dark that

I could not see my hand, however close I would hold it to my face. The

white slip of paper could barely be discerned, and not even that when

I looked at it directly; by turning the exterior portions of the retina

toward it--that is to say, by surveying it slightly askance, I found

that it became in some measure perceptible. Thus the gloom of my prison

may be imagined, and the note of my friend, if indeed it were a note

from him, seemed only likely to throw me into further trouble, by

disquieting to no purpose my already enfeebled and agitated mind.

In vain I revolved in my brain a multitude of absurd expedients for

procuring light--such expedients precisely as a man in the perturbed

sleep occasioned by opium would be apt to fall upon for a similar

purpose--each and all of which appear by turns to the dreamer the

most reasonable and the most preposterous of conceptions, just as the

reasoning or imaginative faculties flicker, alternately, one above the

other. At last an idea occurred to me which seemed rational, and which

gave me cause to wonder, very justly, that I had not entertained

it before. I placed the slip of paper on the back of a book, and,

collecting the fragments of the phosphorus matches which I had brought

from the barrel, laid them together upon the paper. I then, with the

palm of my hand, rubbed the whole over quickly, yet steadily. A clear

light diffused itself immediately throughout the whole surface; and had

there been any writing upon it, I should not have experienced the

least difficulty, I am sure, in reading it. Not a syllable was there,

however--nothing but a dreary and unsatisfactory blank; the illumination

died away in a few seconds, and my heart died away within me as it went.

 

I have before stated more than once that my intellect, for some period

prior to this, had been in a condition nearly bordering on idiocy. There

were, to be sure, momentary intervals of perfect sanity, and, now and

then, even of energy; but these were few. It must be remembered that

I had been, for many days certainly, inhaling the almost pestilential

atmosphere of a close hold in a whaling vessel, and for a long portion

of that time but scantily supplied with water. For the last fourteen

or fifteen hours I had none--nor had I slept during that time. Salt

provisions of the most exciting kind had been my chief, and, indeed,

since the loss of the mutton, my only supply of food, with the exception

of the sea-biscuit; and these latter were utterly useless to me, as

they were too dry and hard to be swallowed in the swollen and parched

condition of my throat. I was now in a high state of fever, and in

every respect exceedingly ill. This will account for the fact that many

miserable hours of despondency elapsed after my last adventure with the

phosphorus, before the thought suggested itself that I had examined only

one side of the paper. I shall not attempt to describe my feelings

of rage (for I believe I was more angry than any thing else) when the

egregious oversight I had committed flashed suddenly upon my perception.

The blunder itself would have been unimportant, had not my own folly and

impetuosity rendered it otherwise--in my disappointment at not finding

some words upon the slip, I had childishly torn it in pieces and thrown

it away, it was impossible to say where.

 

From the worst part of this dilemma I was relieved by the sagacity of

Tiger. Having got, after a long search, a small piece of the note, I put

it to the dog's nose, and endeavored to make him understand that he must

bring me the rest of it. To my astonishment, (for I had taught him none

of the usual tricks for which his breed are famous,) he seemed to enter

at once into my meaning, and, rummaging about for a few moments, soon

found another considerable portion. Bringing me this, he paused awhile,

and, rubbing his nose against my hand, appeared to be waiting for

my approval of what he had done. I patted him on the head, when he

immediately made off again. It was now some minutes before he came

back--but when he did come, he brought with him a large slip, which

proved to be all the paper missing--it having been torn, it seems,

only into three pieces. Luckily, I had no trouble in finding what few

fragments of the phosphorus were left--being guided by the indistinct

glow one or two of the particles still emitted. My difficulties had

taught me the necessity of caution, and I now took time to reflect upon

what I was about to do. It was very probable, I considered, that some

words were written upon that side of the paper which had not been

examined--but which side was that? Fitting the pieces together gave me

no clew in this respect, although it assured me that the words (if there

were any) would be found all on one side, and connected in a proper

manner, as written. There was the greater necessity of ascertaining the

point in question beyond a doubt, as the phosphorus remaining would be

altogether insufficient for a third attempt, should I fail in the one I

was now about to make. I placed the paper on a book as before, and sat

for some minutes thoughtfully revolving the matter over in my mind. At

last I thought it barely possible that the written side might have

some unevenness on its surface, which a delicate sense of feeling might

enable me to detect. I determined to make the experiment and passed

my finger very carefully over the side which first presented itself.

Nothing, however, was perceptible, and I turned the paper, adjusting it

on the book. I now again carried my forefinger cautiously along, when

I was aware of an exceedingly slight, but still discernable glow, which

followed as it proceeded. This, I knew, must arise from some very minute

remaining particles of the phosphorus with which I had covered the paper

in my previous attempt. The other, or under side, then, was that on

which lay the writing, if writing there should finally prove to be.

Again I turned the note, and went to work as I had previously done.

Having rubbed in the phosphorus, a brilliancy ensued as before--but this

time several lines of MS. in a large hand, and apparently in red ink,

became distinctly visible. The glimmer, although sufficiently bright,

was but momentary. Still, had I not been too greatly excited, there

would have been ample time enough for me to peruse the whole three

sentences before me--for I saw there were three. In my anxiety, however,

to read all at once, I succeeded only in reading the seven concluding

words, which thus appeared--"blood--your life depends upon lying close."

 

Had I been able to ascertain the entire contents of the note-the full

meaning of the admonition which my friend had thus attempted to convey,

that admonition, even although it should have revealed a story of

disaster the most unspeakable, could not, I am firmly convinced, have

imbued my mind with one tithe of the harrowing and yet indefinable

horror with which I was inspired by the fragmentary warning thus

received. And "blood," too, that word of all words--so rife at all times

with mystery, and suffering, and terror--how trebly full of import did

it now appear--how chilly and heavily (disjointed, as it thus was, from

any foregoing words to qualify or render it distinct) did its vague

syllables fall, amid the deep gloom of my prison, into the innermost

recesses of my soul!

 

Augustus had, undoubtedly, good reasons for wishing me to remain

concealed, and I formed a thousand surmises as to what they could

be--but I could think of nothing affording a satisfactory solution of

the mystery. Just after returning from my last journey to the trap, and

before my attention had been otherwise directed by the singular conduct

of Tiger, I had come to the resolution of making myself heard at all

events by those on board, or, if I could not succeed in this directly,

of trying to cut my way through the orlop deck. The half certainty which

I felt of being able to accomplish one of these two purposes in the last

emergency, had given me courage (which I should not otherwise have had)

to endure the evils of my situation. The few words I had been able to

read, however, had cut me off from these final resources, and I now, for

the first time, felt all the misery of my fate. In a paroxysm of despair

I threw myself again upon the mattress, where, for about the period of

a day and night, I lay in a kind of stupor, relieved only by momentary

intervals of reason and recollection.

 

At length I once more arose, and busied myself in reflection upon the

horrors which encompassed me. For another twenty-four hours it was

barely possible that I might exist without water--for a longer time I

could not do so. During the first portion of my imprisonment I had made

free use of the cordials with which Augustus had supplied me, but they

only served to excite fever, without in the least degree assuaging

thirst. I had now only about a gill left, and this was of a species of

strong peach liqueur at which my stomach revolted. The sausages were

entirely consumed; of the ham nothing remained but a small piece of the

skin; and all the biscuit, except a few fragments of one, had been eaten

by Tiger. To add to my troubles, I found that my headache was increasing

momentarily, and with it the species of delirium which had distressed me

more or less since my first falling asleep. For some hours past it had

been with the greatest difficulty I could breathe at all, and now each

attempt at so doing was attended with the most depressing spasmodic

action of the chest. But there was still another and very different

source of disquietude, and one, indeed, whose harassing terrors had

been the chief means of arousing me to exertion from my stupor on the

mattress. It arose from the demeanor of the dog.

 

I first observed an alteration in his conduct while rubbing in the

phosphorus on the paper in my last attempt. As I rubbed, he ran his nose

against my hand with a slight snarl; but I was too greatly excited at

the time to pay much attention to the circumstance. Soon afterward,

it will be remembered, I threw myself on the mattress, and fell into

a species of lethargy. Presently I became aware of a singular hissing

sound close at my ears, and discovered it to proceed from Tiger, who was

panting and wheezing in a state of the greatest apparent excitement, his

eyeballs flashing fiercely through the gloom. I spoke to him, when he

replied with a low growl, and then remained quiet. Presently I relapsed

into my stupor, from which I was again awakened in a similar manner.

This was repeated three or four times, until finally his behaviour

inspired me with so great a degree of fear, that I became fully aroused.

He was now lying close by the door of the box, snarling fearfully,

although in a kind of undertone, and grinding his teeth as if strongly

convulsed. I had no doubt whatever that the want of water or the

confined atmosphere of the hold had driven him mad, and I was at a loss

what course to pursue. I could not endure the thought of killing him,

yet it seemed absolutely necessary for my own safety. I could distinctly

perceive his eyes fastened upon me with an expression of the most deadly

animosity, and I expected every instant that he would attack me. At last

I could endure my terrible situation no longer, and determined to make

my way from the box at all hazards, and dispatch him, if his opposition

should render it necessary for me to do so. To get out, I had to

pass directly over his body, and he already seemed to anticipate my

design--missing himself upon his fore-legs (as I perceived by the

altered position of his eyes), and displayed the whole of his white

fangs, which were easily discernible. I took the remains of the

ham-skin, and the bottle containing the liqueur, and secured them about

my person, together with a large carving-knife which Augustus had left

me--then, folding my cloak around me as closely as possible, I made a

movement toward the mouth of the box. No sooner did I do this, than the

dog sprang with a loud growl toward my throat. The whole weight of his

body struck me on the right shoulder, and I fell violently to the left,

while the enraged animal passed entirely over me. I had fallen upon my

knees, with my head buried among the blankets, and these protected

me from a second furious assault, during which I felt the sharp teeth

pressing vigorously upon the woollen which enveloped my neck--yet,

luckily, without being able to penetrate all the folds. I was now

beneath the dog, and a few moments would place me completely in his

power. Despair gave me strength, and I rose boldly up, shaking him from

me by main force, and dragging with me the blankets from the mattress.

These I now threw over him, and before he could extricate himself, I had

got through the door and closed it effectually against his pursuit.

In this struggle, however, I had been forced to drop the morsel of

ham-skin, and I now found my whole stock of provisions reduced to a

single gill of liqueur. As this reflection crossed my mind, I felt

myself actuated by one of those fits of perverseness which might be

supposed to influence a spoiled child in similar circumstances, and,

raising the bottle to my lips, I drained it to the last drop, and dashed

it furiously upon the floor.

 

Scarcely had the echo of the crash died away, when I heard my name

pronounced in an eager but subdued voice, issuing from the direction of

the steerage. So unexpected was anything of the kind, and so intense was

the emotion excited within me by the sound, that I endeavoured in vain

to reply. My powers of speech totally failed, and in an agony of terror

lest my friend should conclude me dead, and return without attempting

to reach me, I stood up between the crates near the door of the box,

trembling convulsively, and gasping and struggling for utterance. Had

a thousand words depended upon a syllable, I could not have spoken

it. There was a slight movement now audible among the lumber somewhere

forward of my station. The sound presently grew less distinct, then

again less so, and still less. Shall I ever forget my feelings at this

moment? He was going--my friend, my companion, from whom I had a right

to expect so much--he was going--he would abandon me--he was gone! He

would leave me to perish miserably, to expire in the most horrible and

loathesome of dungeons--and one word, one little syllable, would save

me--yet that single syllable I could not utter! I felt, I am sure, more

than ten thousand times the agonies of death itself. My brain reeled,

and I fell, deadly sick, against the end of the box.

 

As I fell the carving-knife was shaken out from the waist-band of my

pantaloons, and dropped with a rattling sound to the floor. Never did

any strain of the richest melody come so sweetly to my ears! With the

intensest anxiety I listened to ascertain the effect of the noise upon

Augustus--for I knew that the person who called my name could be no one

but himself. All was silent for some moments. At length I again heard

the word "Arthur!" repeated in a low tone, and one full of hesitation.

Reviving hope loosened at once my powers of speech, and I now screamed

at the top of my voice, "Augustus! oh, Augustus!" "Hush! for God's sake

be silent!" he replied, in a voice trembling with agitation; "I will be

with you immediately--as soon as I can make my way through the hold."

For a long time I heard him moving among the lumber, and every moment

seemed to me an age. At length I felt his hand upon my shoulder, and he

placed, at the same moment, a bottle of water to my lips. Those only who

have been suddenly redeemed from the jaws of the tomb, or who have known

the insufferable torments of thirst under circumstances as aggravated as

those which encompassed me in my dreary prison, can form any idea of the

unutterable transports which that one long draught of the richest of all

physical luxuries afforded.

 

When I had in some degree satisfied my thirst, Augustus produced from

his pocket three or four boiled potatoes, which I devoured with the

greatest avidity. He had brought with him a light in a dark lantern, and

the grateful rays afforded me scarcely less comfort than the food and

drink. But I was impatient to learn the cause of his protracted absence,

and he proceeded to recount what had happened on board during my

incarceration.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 4

 

THE brig put to sea, as I had supposed, in about an hour after he had

left the watch. This was on the twentieth of June. It will be remembered

that I had then been in the hold for three days; and, during this

period, there was so constant a bustle on board, and so much running

to and fro, especially in the cabin and staterooms, that he had had no

chance of visiting me without the risk of having the secret of the trap

discovered. When at length he did come, I had assured him that I was

doing as well as possible; and, therefore, for the two next days he

felt but little uneasiness on my account--still, however, watching an

opportunity of going down. It was not until the fourth day that he found

one. Several times during this interval he had made up his mind to let

his father know of the adventure, and have me come up at once; but we

were still within reaching distance of Nantucket, and it was doubtful,

from some expressions which had escaped Captain Barnard, whether he

would not immediately put back if he discovered me to be on board.

Besides, upon thinking the matter over, Augustus, so he told me, could

not imagine that I was in immediate want, or that I would hesitate,

in such case, to make myself heard at the trap. When, therefore, he

considered everything he concluded to let me stay until he could meet

with an opportunity of visiting me unobserved. This, as I said before,

did not occur until the fourth day after his bringing me the watch,

and the seventh since I had first entered the hold. He then went down

without taking with him any water or provisions, intending in the first

place merely to call my attention, and get me to come from the box to

the trap,--when he would go up to the stateroom and thence hand me down

a supply. When he descended for this purpose he found that I was asleep,

for it seems that I was snoring very loudly. From all the calculations

I can make on the subject, this must have been the slumber into which

I fell just after my return from the trap with the watch, and which,

consequently, must have lasted for more than three entire days and

nights at the very least. Latterly, I have had reason both from my own

experience and the assurance of others, to be acquainted with the strong

soporific effects of the stench arising from old fish-oil when closely

confined; and when I think of the condition of the hold in which I was

imprisoned, and the long period during which the brig had been used as a

whaling vessel, I am more inclined to wonder that I awoke at all, after

once falling asleep, than that I should have slept uninterruptedly for

the period specified above.

 

Augustus called to me at first in a low voice and without closing the

trap--but I made him no reply. He then shut the trap, and spoke to me in

a louder, and finally in a very loud tone--still I continued to snore.

He was now at a loss what to do. It would take him some time to make his

way through the lumber to my box, and in the meanwhile his absence would

be noticed by Captain Barnard, who had occasion for his services every

minute, in arranging and copying papers connected with the business of

the voyage. He determined, therefore, upon reflection, to ascend, and

await another opportunity of visiting me. He was the more easily induced

to this resolve, as my slumber appeared to be of the most tranquil

nature, and he could not suppose that I had undergone any inconvenience

from my incarceration. He had just made up his mind on these points

when his attention was arrested by an unusual bustle, the sound of

which proceeded apparently from the cabin. He sprang through the trap

as quickly as possible, closed it, and threw open the door of his

stateroom. No sooner had he put his foot over the threshold than a

pistol flashed in his face, and he was knocked down, at the same moment,

by a blow from a handspike.

 

A strong hand held him on the cabin floor, with a tight grasp upon

his throat; still he was able to see what was going on around him.

His father was tied hand and foot, and lying along the steps of the

companion-way, with his head down, and a deep wound in the forehead,

from which the blood was flowing in a continued stream. He spoke not a

word, and was apparently dying. Over him stood the first mate, eyeing

him with an expression of fiendish derision, and deliberately searching

his pockets, from which he presently drew forth a large wallet and a

chronometer. Seven of the crew (among whom was the cook, a negro) were

rummaging the staterooms on the larboard for arms, where they soon

equipped themselves with muskets and ammunition. Besides Augustus and

Captain Barnard, there were nine men altogether in the cabin, and these

among the most ruffianly of the brig's company. The villains now went

upon deck, taking my friend with them after having secured his arms

behind his back. They proceeded straight to the forecastle, which was

fastened down--two of the mutineers standing by it with axes--two also

at the main hatch. The mate called out in a loud voice: "Do you hear

there below? tumble up with you, one by one--now, mark that--and no

grumbling!" It was some minutes before any one appeared:--at last an

Englishman, who had shipped as a raw hand, came up, weeping piteously,

and entreating the mate, in the most humble manner, to spare his life.

The only reply was a blow on the forehead from an axe. The poor fellow

fell to the deck without a groan, and the black cook lifted him up in

his arms as he would a child, and tossed him deliberately into the sea.

Hearing the blow and the plunge of the body, the men below could now

be induced to venture on deck neither by threats nor promises, until a

proposition was made to smoke them out. A general rush then ensued,

and for a moment it seemed possible that the brig might be retaken.

The mutineers, however, succeeded at last in closing the forecastle

effectually before more than six of their opponents could get up.

These six, finding themselves so greatly outnumbered and without arms,

submitted after a brief struggle. The mate gave them fair words--no

doubt with a view of inducing those below to yield, for they had no

difficulty in hearing all that was said on deck. The result proved his

sagacity, no less than his diabolical villainy. All in the forecastle

presently signified their intention of submitting, and, ascending one

by one, were pinioned and then thrown on their backs, together with the

first six--there being in all, of the crew who were not concerned in the

mutiny, twenty-seven.

 

A scene of the most horrible butchery ensued. The bound seamen were

dragged to the gangway. Here the cook stood with an axe, striking each

victim on the head as he was forced over the side of the vessel by the

other mutineers. In this manner twenty-two perished, and Augustus had

given himself up for lost, expecting every moment his own turn to come

next. But it seemed that the villains were now either weary, or in

some measure disgusted with their bloody labour; for the four remaining

prisoners, together with my friend, who had been thrown on the deck with

the rest, were respited while the mate sent below for rum, and the whole

murderous party held a drunken carouse, which lasted until sunset. They

now fell to disputing in regard to the fate of the survivors, who lay

not more than four paces off, and could distinguish every word said.

Upon some of the mutineers the liquor appeared to have a softening

effect, for several voices were heard in favor of releasing the captives

altogether, on condition of joining the mutiny and sharing the profits.

The black cook, however (who in all respects was a perfect demon,

and who seemed to exert as much influence, if not more, than the

mate himself), would listen to no proposition of the kind, and rose

repeatedly for the purpose of resuming his work at the gangway.

Fortunately he was so far overcome by intoxication as to be easily

restrained by the less bloodthirsty of the party, among whom was a

line-manager, who went by the name of Dirk Peters. This man was the

son of an Indian squaw of the tribe of Upsarokas, who live among the

fastnesses of the Black Hills, near the source of the Missouri. His

father was a fur-trader, I believe, or at least connected in some manner

with the Indian trading-posts on Lewis river. Peter himself was one of

the most ferocious-looking men I ever beheld. He was short in stature,

not more than four feet eight inches high, but his limbs were of

Herculean mould. His hands, especially, were so enormously thick and

broad as hardly to retain a human shape. His arms, as well as legs,

were bowed in the most singular manner, and appeared to possess no

flexibility whatever. His head was equally deformed, being of immense

size, with an indentation on the crown (like that on the head of most

negroes), and entirely bald. To conceal this latter deficiency, which

did not proceed from old age, he usually wore a wig formed of any

hair-like material which presented itself--occasionally the skin of a

Spanish dog or American grizzly bear. At the time spoken of, he had on a

portion of one of these bearskins; and it added no little to the natural

ferocity of his countenance, which betook of the Upsaroka character. The

mouth extended nearly from ear to ear, the lips were thin, and seemed,

like some other portions of his frame, to be devoid of natural pliancy,

so that the ruling expression never varied under the influence of any

emotion whatever. This ruling expression may be conceived when it is

considered that the teeth were exceedingly long and protruding, and

never even partially covered, in any instance, by the lips. To pass this

man with a casual glance, one might imagine him to be convulsed with

laughter, but a second look would induce a shuddering acknowledgment,

that if such an expression were indicative of merriment, the merriment

must be that of a demon. Of this singular being many anecdotes were

prevalent among the seafaring men of Nantucket. These anecdotes went to

prove his prodigious strength when under excitement, and some of them

had given rise to a doubt of his sanity. But on board the Grampus, it

seems, he was regarded, at the time of the mutiny, with feelings more of

derision than of anything else. I have been thus particular in speaking

of Dirk Peters, because, ferocious as he appeared, he proved the main

instrument in preserving the life of Augustus, and because I shall

have frequent occasion to mention him hereafter in the course of my

narrative--a narrative, let me here say, which, in its latter portions,

will be found to include incidents of a nature so entirely out of the

range of human experience, and for this reason so far beyond the limits

of human credulity, that I proceed in utter hopelessness of obtaining

credence for all that I shall tell, yet confidently trusting in time

and progressing science to verify some of the most important and most

improbable of my statements.

 

After much indecision and two or three violent quarrels, it was

determined at last that all the prisoners (with the exception of

Augustus, whom Peters insisted in a jocular manner upon keeping as his

clerk) should be set adrift in one of the smallest whaleboats. The

mate went down into the cabin to see if Captain Barnard was still

living--for, it will be remembered, he was left below when the mutineers

came up. Presently the two made their appearance, the captain pale as

death, but somewhat recovered from the effects of his wound. He spoke

to the men in a voice hardly articulate, entreated them not to set him

adrift, but to return to their duty, and promising to land them wherever

they chose, and to take no steps for bringing them to justice. He might

as well have spoken to the winds. Two of the ruffians seized him by the

arms and hurled him over the brig's side into the boat, which had been

lowered while the mate went below. The four men who were lying on the

deck were then untied and ordered to follow, which they did without

attempting any resistance--Augustus being still left in his painful

position, although he struggled and prayed only for the poor

satisfaction of being permitted to bid his father farewell. A handful of

sea-biscuit and a jug of water were now handed down; but neither mast,

sail, oar, nor compass. The boat was towed astern for a few minutes,

during which the mutineers held another consultation--it was then

finally cut adrift. By this time night had come on--there were neither

moon nor stars visible--and a short and ugly sea was running, although

there was no great deal of wind. The boat was instantly out of sight,

and little hope could be entertained for the unfortunate sufferers who

were in it. This event happened, however, in latitude 35 degrees 30'

north, longitude 61 degrees 20' west, and consequently at no very great

distance from the Bermuda Islands. Augustus therefore endeavored to

console himself with the idea that the boat might either succeed in

reaching the land, or come sufficiently near to be fallen in with by

vessels off the coast.

 

All sail was now put upon the brig, and she continued her original

course to the southwest--the mutineers being bent upon some piratical

expedition, in which, from all that could be understood, a ship was to

be intercepted on her way from the Cape Verd Islands to Porto Rico. No

attention was paid to Augustus, who was untied and suffered to go about

anywhere forward of the cabin companion-way. Dirk Peters treated him

with some degree of kindness, and on one occasion saved him from

the brutality of the cook. His situation was still one of the most

precarious, as the men were continually intoxicated, and there was no

relying upon their continued good-humor or carelessness in regard to

himself. His anxiety on my account be represented, however, as the most

distressing result of his condition; and, indeed, I had never reason to

doubt the sincerity of his friendship. More than once he had resolved

to acquaint the mutineers with the secret of my being on board, but was

restrained from so doing, partly through recollection of the atrocities

he had already beheld, and partly through a hope of being able soon to

bring me relief. For the latter purpose he was constantly on the watch;

but, in spite of the most constant vigilance, three days elapsed after

the boat was cut adrift before any chance occurred. At length, on the

night of the third day, there came on a heavy blow from the eastward,

and all hands were called up to take in sail. During the confusion which

ensued, he made his way below unobserved, and into the stateroom.

What was his grief and horror in discovering that the latter had

been rendered a place of deposit for a variety of sea-stores and

ship-furniture, and that several fathoms of old chain-cable, which had

been stowed away beneath the companion-ladder, had been dragged thence

to make room for a chest, and were now lying immediately upon the trap!

To remove it without discovery was impossible, and he returned on

deck as quickly as he could. As he came up, the mate seized him by the

throat, and demanding what he had been doing in the cabin, was about

flinging him over the larboard bulwark, when his life was again

preserved through the interference of Dirk Peters. Augustus was now put

in handcuffs (of which there were several pairs on board), and his feet

lashed tightly together. He was then taken into the steerage, and thrown

into a lower berth next to the forecastle bulkheads, with the assurance

that he should never put his foot on deck again "until the brig was no

longer a brig." This was the expression of the cook, who threw him into

the berth--it is hardly possible to say what precise meaning intended by

the phrase. The whole affair, however, proved the ultimate means of my

relief, as will presently appear.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 5

 

FOR some minutes after the cook had left the forecastle, Augustus

abandoned himself to despair, never hoping to leave the berth alive.

He now came to the resolution of acquainting the first of the men who

should come down with my situation, thinking it better to let me take my

chance with the mutineers than perish of thirst in the hold,--for it had

been ten days since I was first imprisoned, and my jug of water was not

a plentiful supply even for four. As he was thinking on this subject,

the idea came all at once into his head that it might be possible

to communicate with me by the way of the main hold. In any other

circumstances, the difficulty and hazard of the undertaking would have

prevented him from attempting it; but now he had, at all events, little

prospect of life, and consequently little to lose, he bent his whole

mind, therefore, upon the task.

 

His handcuffs were the first consideration. At first he saw no method

of removing them, and feared that he should thus be baffled in the very

outset; but upon a closer scrutiny he discovered that the irons could

be slipped off and on at pleasure, with very little effort or

inconvenience, merely by squeezing his hands through them,--this species

of manacle being altogether ineffectual in confining young persons,

in whom the smaller bones readily yield to pressure. He now untied his

feet, and, leaving the cord in such a manner that it could easily

be readjusted in the event of any person's coming down, proceeded to

examine the bulkhead where it joined the berth. The partition here was

of soft pine board, an inch thick, and he saw that he should have

little trouble in cutting his way through. A voice was now heard at the

forecastle companion-way, and he had just time to put his right hand

into its handcuff (the left had not been removed) and to draw the rope

in a slipknot around his ankle, when Dirk Peters came below, followed by

Tiger, who immediately leaped into the berth and lay down. The dog had

been brought on board by Augustus, who knew my attachment to the animal,

and thought it would give me pleasure to have him with me during the

voyage. He went up to our house for him immediately after first taking

me into the hold, but did not think of mentioning the circumstance upon

his bringing the watch. Since the mutiny, Augustus had not seen him

before his appearance with Dirk Peters, and had given him up for lost,

supposing him to have been thrown overboard by some of the malignant

villains belonging to the mate's gang. It appeared afterward that he had

crawled into a hole beneath a whale-boat, from which, not having room to

turn round, he could not extricate himself. Peters at last let him out,

and, with a species of good feeling which my friend knew well how to

appreciate, had now brought him to him in the forecastle as a companion,

leaving at the same time some salt junk and potatoes, with a can of

water, he then went on deck, promising to come down with something more

to eat on the next day.

 

When he had gone, Augustus freed both hands from the manacles and

unfastened his feet. He then turned down the head of the mattress on

which he had been lying, and with his penknife (for the ruffians had

not thought it worth while to search him) commenced cutting vigorously

across one of the partition planks, as closely as possible to the floor

of the berth. He chose to cut here, because, if suddenly interrupted, he

would be able to conceal what had been done by letting the head of the

mattress fall into its proper position. For the remainder of the day,

however, no disturbance occurred, and by night he had completely divided

the plank. It should here be observed that none of the crew occupied the

forecastle as a sleeping-place, living altogether in the cabin since

the mutiny, drinking the wines and feasting on the sea-stores of Captain

Barnard, and giving no more heed than was absolutely necessary to the

navigation of the brig. These circumstances proved fortunate both for

myself and Augustus; for, had matters been otherwise, he would have

found it impossible to reach me. As it was, he proceeded with confidence

in his design. It was near daybreak, however, before he completed the

second division of the board (which was about a foot above the first

cut), thus making an aperture quite large enough to admit his passage

through with facility to the main orlop deck. Having got here, he made

his way with but little trouble to the lower main hatch, although in so

doing he had to scramble over tiers of oil-casks piled nearly as high as

the upper deck, there being barely room enough left for his body. Upon

reaching the hatch he found that Tiger had followed him below, squeezing

between two rows of the casks. It was now too late, however, to attempt

getting to me before dawn, as the chief difficulty lay in passing

through the close stowage in the lower hold. He therefore resolved to

return, and wait till the next night. With this design, he proceeded to

loosen the hatch, so that he might have as little detention as possible

when he should come again. No sooner had he loosened it than Tiger

sprang eagerly to the small opening produced, snuffed for a moment, and

then uttered a long whine, scratching at the same time, as if anxious

to remove the covering with his paws. There could be no doubt, from

his behaviour, that he was aware of my being in the hold, and Augustus

thought it possible that he would be able to get to me if he put him

down. He now hit upon the expedient of sending the note, as it was

especially desirable that I should make no attempt at forcing my way out

at least under existing circumstances, and there could be no certainty

of his getting to me himself on the morrow as he intended. After-events

proved how fortunate it was that the idea occurred to him as it did;

for, had it not been for the receipt of the note, I should undoubtedly

have fallen upon some plan, however desperate, of alarming the crew, and

both our lives would most probably have been sacrificed in consequence.

 

Having concluded to write, the difficulty was now to procure the

materials for so doing. An old toothpick was soon made into a pen; and

this by means of feeling altogether, for the between-decks was as

dark as pitch. Paper enough was obtained from the back of a letter--a

duplicate of the forged letter from Mr. Ross. This had been the original

draught; but the handwriting not being sufficiently well imitated,

Augustus had written another, thrusting the first, by good fortune, into

his coat-pocket, where it was now most opportunely discovered. Ink alone

was thus wanting, and a substitute was immediately found for this by

means of a slight incision with the pen-knife on the back of a finger

just above the nail--a copious flow of blood ensuing, as usual, from

wounds in that vicinity. The note was now written, as well as it could

be in the dark and under the circumstances. It briefly explained that a

mutiny had taken place; that Captain Barnard was set adrift; and that I

might expect immediate relief as far as provisions were concerned, but

must not venture upon making any disturbance. It concluded with these

words: "_I have scrawled this with blood--your life depends upon lying

close._"

 

This slip of paper being tied upon the dog, he was now put down the

hatchway, and Augustus made the best of his way back to the forecastle,

where he found no reason to believe that any of the crew had been in

his absence. To conceal the hole in the partition, he drove his knife in

just above it, and hung up a pea-jacket which he found in the berth. His

handcuffs were then replaced, and also the rope around his ankles.

 

These arrangements were scarcely completed when Dirk Peters came below,

very drunk, but in excellent humour, and bringing with him my friend's

allowance of provision for the day. This consisted of a dozen large

Irish potatoes roasted, and a pitcher of water. He sat for some time on

a chest by the berth, and talked freely about the mate and the general

concerns of the brig. His demeanour was exceedingly capricious, and

even grotesque. At one time Augustus was much alarmed by odd conduct.

At last, however, he went on deck, muttering a promise to bring his

prisoner a good dinner on the morrow. During the day two of the crew

(harpooners) came down, accompanied by the cook, all three in nearly the

last stage of intoxication. Like Peters, they made no scruple of talking

unreservedly about their plans. It appeared that they were much divided

among themselves as to their ultimate course, agreeing in no point,

except the attack on the ship from the Cape Verd Islands, with

which they were in hourly expectation of meeting. As far as could be

ascertained, the mutiny had not been brought about altogether for the

sake of booty; a private pique of the chief mate's against Captain

Barnard having been the main instigation. There now seemed to be two

principal factions among the crew--one headed by the mate, the other by

the cook. The former party were for seizing the first suitable vessel

which should present itself, and equipping it at some of the West India

Islands for a piratical cruise. The latter division, however, which was

the stronger, and included Dirk Peters among its partisans, were bent

upon pursuing the course originally laid out for the brig into the South

Pacific; there either to take whale, or act otherwise, as circumstances

should suggest. The representations of Peters, who had frequently

visited these regions, had great weight, apparently, with the mutineers,

wavering, as they were, between half-engendered notions of profit and

pleasure. He dwelt on the world of novelty and amusement to be found

among the innumerable islands of the Pacific, on the perfect security

and freedom from all restraint to be enjoyed, but, more particularly, on

the deliciousness of the climate, on the abundant means of good living,

and on the voluptuous beauty of the women. As yet, nothing had been

absolutely determined upon; but the pictures of the hybrid line-manager

were taking strong hold upon the ardent imaginations of the seamen, and

there was every possibility that his intentions would be finally carried

into effect.

 

The three men went away in about an hour, and no one else entered the

forecastle all day. Augustus lay quiet until nearly night. He then freed

himself from the rope and irons, and prepared for his attempt. A bottle

was found in one of the berths, and this he filled with water from the

pitcher left by Peters, storing his pockets at the same time with cold

potatoes. To his great joy he also came across a lantern, with a small

piece of tallow candle in it. This he could light at any moment, as he

had in his possession a box of phosphorus matches. When it was quite

dark, he got through the hole in the bulkhead, having taken the

precaution to arrange the bedclothes in the berth so as to convey the

idea of a person covered up. When through, he hung up the pea-jacket

on his knife, as before, to conceal the aperture--this manoeuvre being

easily effected, as he did not readjust the piece of plank taken out

until afterward. He was now on the main orlop deck, and proceeded to

make his way, as before, between the upper deck and the oil-casks to

the main hatchway. Having reached this, he lit the piece of candle, and

descended, groping with extreme difficulty among the compact stowage of

the hold. In a few moments he became alarmed at the insufferable stench

and the closeness of the atmosphere. He could not think it possible

that I had survived my confinement for so long a period breathing so

oppressive an air. He called my name repeatedly, but I made him no

reply, and his apprehensions seemed thus to be confirmed. The brig was

rolling violently, and there was so much noise in consequence, that it

was useless to listen for any weak sound, such as those of my breathing

or snoring. He threw open the lantern, and held it as high as possible,

whenever an opportunity occurred, in order that, by observing the light,

I might, if alive, be aware that succor was approaching. Still nothing

was heard from me, and the supposition of my death began to assume the

character of certainty. He determined, nevertheless, to force a passage,

if possible, to the box, and at least ascertain beyond a doubt the truth

of his surmises. He pushed on for some time in a most pitiable state of

anxiety, until, at length, he found the pathway utterly blocked up, and

that there was no possibility of making any farther way by the course

in which he had set out. Overcome now by his feelings, he threw himself

among the lumber in despair, and wept like a child. It was at this

period that he heard the crash occasioned by the bottle which I had

thrown down. Fortunate, indeed, was it that the incident occurred--for,

upon this incident, trivial as it appears, the thread of my destiny

depended. Many years elapsed, however, before I was aware of this fact.

A natural shame and regret for his weakness and indecision prevented

Augustus from confiding to me at once what a more intimate and

unreserved communion afterward induced him to reveal. Upon finding his

further progress in the hold impeded by obstacles which he could not

overcome, he had resolved to abandon his attempt at reaching me, and

return at once to the forecastle. Before condemning him entirely on this

head, the harassing circumstances which embarrassed him should be taken

into consideration. The night was fast wearing away, and his absence

from the forecastle might be discovered; and indeed would necessarily be

so, if he should fail to get back to the berth by daybreak. His candle

was expiring in the socket, and there would be the greatest difficulty

in retracing his way to the hatchway in the dark. It must be allowed,

too, that he had every good reason to believe me dead; in which event

no benefit could result to me from his reaching the box, and a world of

danger would be encountered to no purpose by himself. He had repeatedly

called, and I had made him no answer. I had been now eleven days and

nights with no more water than that contained in the jug which he had

left with me--a supply which it was not at all probable I had boarded in

the beginning of my confinement, as I had every cause to expect a speedy

release. The atmosphere of the hold, too, must have appeared to him,

coming from the comparatively open air of the steerage, of a nature

absolutely poisonous, and by far more intolerable than it had seemed to

me upon my first taking up my quarters in the box--the hatchways at that

time having been constantly open for many months previous. Add to these

considerations that of the scene of bloodshed and terror so lately

witnessed by my friend; his confinement, privations, and narrow escapes

from death, together with the frail and equivocal tenure by which he

still existed--circumstances all so well calculated to prostrate every

energy of mind--and the reader will be easily brought, as I have been,

to regard his apparent falling off in friendship and in faith with

sentiments rather of sorrow than of anger.

 

The crash of the bottle was distinctly heard, yet Augustus was not sure

that it proceeded from the hold. The doubt, however, was sufficient

inducement to persevere. He clambered up nearly to the orlop deck by

means of the stowage, and then, watching for a lull in the pitchings of

the vessel, he called out to me in as loud a tone as he could command,

regardless, for the moment, of being overheard by the crew. It will

be remembered that on this occasion the voice reached me, but I was

so entirely overcome by violent agitation as to be incapable of reply.

Confident, now, that his worst apprehensions were well founded, he

descended, with a view of getting back to the forecastle without loss

of time. In his haste some small boxes were thrown down, the noise

occasioned by which I heard, as will be recollected. He had made

considerable progress on his return when the fall of the knife again

caused him to hesitate. He retraced his steps immediately, and,

clambering up the stowage a second time, called out my name, loudly as

before, having watched for a lull. This time I found voice to answer.

Overjoyed at discovering me to be still alive, he now resolved to brave

every difficulty and danger in reaching me. Having extricated himself as

quickly as possible from the labyrinth of lumber by which he was hemmed

in, he at length struck into an opening which promised better, and

finally, after a series of struggles, arrived at the box in a state of

utter exhaustion.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 6

 

THE leading particulars of this narration were all that Augustus

communicated to me while we remained near the box. It was not

until afterward that he entered fully into all the details. He was

apprehensive of being missed, and I was wild with impatience to leave

my detested place of confinement. We resolved to make our way at once

to the hole in the bulkhead, near which I was to remain for the present,

while he went through to reconnoiter. To leave Tiger in the box was what

neither of us could endure to think of, yet, how to act otherwise was

the question. He now seemed to be perfectly quiet, and we could not even

distinguish the sound of his breathing upon applying our ears closely

to the box. I was convinced that he was dead, and determined to open the

door. We found him lying at full length, apparently in a deep stupor,

yet still alive. No time was to be lost, yet I could not bring myself to

abandon an animal who had now been twice instrumental in saving my life,

without some attempt at preserving him. We therefore dragged him along

with us as well as we could, although with the greatest difficulty and

fatigue; Augustus, during part of the time, being forced to clamber

over the impediments in our way with the huge dog in his arms--a feat

to which the feebleness of my frame rendered me totally inadequate. At

length we succeeded in reaching the hole, when Augustus got through, and

Tiger was pushed in afterward. All was found to be safe, and we did

not fail to return sincere thanks to God for our deliverance from the

imminent danger we had escaped. For the present, it was agreed that I

should remain near the opening, through which my companion could readily

supply me with a part of his daily provision, and where I could have the

advantages of breathing an atmosphere comparatively pure.

 

In explanation of some portions of this narrative, wherein I have spoken

of the stowage of the brig, and which may appear ambiguous to some of my

readers who may have seen a proper or regular stowage, I must here state

that the manner in which this most important duty had been per formed

on board the Grampus was a most shameful piece of neglect on the part

of Captain Barnard, who was by no means as careful or as experienced a

seaman as the hazardous nature of the service on which he was

employed would seem necessarily to demand. A proper stowage cannot be

accomplished in a careless manner, and many most disastrous accidents,

even within the limits of my own experience, have arisen from neglect

or ignorance in this particular. Coasting vessels, in the frequent hurry

and bustle attendant upon taking in or discharging cargo, are the most

liable to mishap from the want of a proper attention to stowage. The

great point is to allow no possibility of the cargo or ballast shifting

position even in the most violent rollings of the vessel. With this end,

great attention must be paid, not only to the bulk taken in, but to the

nature of the bulk, and whether there be a full or only a partial cargo.

In most kinds of freight the stowage is accomplished by means of a

screw. Thus, in a load of tobacco or flour, the whole is screwed so

tightly into the hold of the vessel that the barrels or hogsheads, upon

discharging, are found to be completely flattened, and take some time

to regain their original shape. This screwing, however, is resorted to

principally with a view of obtaining more room in the hold; for in a

full load of any such commodities as flour or tobacco, there can be no

danger of any shifting whatever, at least none from which inconvenience

can result. There have been instances, indeed, where this method of

screwing has resulted in the most lamentable consequences, arising from

a cause altogether distinct from the danger attendant upon a shifting of

cargo. A load of cotton, for example, tightly screwed while in certain

conditions, has been known, through the expansion of its bulk, to rend a

vessel asunder at sea. There can be no doubt either that the same result

would ensue in the case of tobacco, while undergoing its usual course

of fermentation, were it not for the interstices consequent upon the

rotundity of the hogsheads.

 

It is when a partial cargo is received that danger is chiefly to be

apprehended from shifting, and that precautions should be always taken

to guard against such misfortune. Only those who have encountered a

violent gale of wind, or rather who have experienced the rolling of

a vessel in a sudden calm after the gale, can form an idea of the

tremendous force of the plunges, and of the consequent terrible impetus

given to all loose articles in the vessel. It is then that the necessity

of a cautious stowage, when there is a partial cargo, becomes obvious.

When lying-to (especially with a small bead sail), a vessel which is not

properly modelled in the bows is frequently thrown upon her beam-ends;

this occurring even every fifteen or twenty minutes upon an average, yet

without any serious consequences resulting, provided there be a proper

stowage. If this, however, has not been strictly attended to, in the

first of these heavy lurches the whole of the cargo tumbles over to the

side of the vessel which lies upon the water, and, being thus prevented

from regaining her equilibrium, as she would otherwise necessarily do,

she is certain to fill in a few seconds and go down. It is not too much

to say that at least one-half of the instances in which vessels have

foundered in heavy gales at sea may be attributed to a shifting of cargo

or of ballast.

 

When a partial cargo of any kind is taken on board, the whole, after

being first stowed as compactly as may be, should be covered with a

layer of stout shifting-boards, extending completely across the vessel.

Upon these boards strong temporary stanchions should be erected,

reaching to the timbers above, and thus securing every thing in its

place. In cargoes consisting of grain, or any similar matter, additional

precautions are requisite. A hold filled entirely with grain upon

leaving port will be found not more than three fourths full upon

reaching its destination--this, too, although the freight, when measured

bushel by bushel by the consignee, will overrun by a vast deal (on

account of the swelling of the grain) the quantity consigned. This

result is occasioned by settling during the voyage, and is the more

perceptible in proportion to the roughness of the weather experienced.

If grain loosely thrown in a vessel, then, is ever so well secured by

shifting-boards and stanchions, it will be liable to shift in a long

passage so greatly as to bring about the most distressing calamities.

To prevent these, every method should be employed before leaving port

to settle the cargo as much as possible; and for this there are many

contrivances, among which may be mentioned the driving of wedges into

the grain. Even after all this is done, and unusual pains taken to

secure the shifting-boards, no seaman who knows what he is about will

feel altogether secure in a gale of any violence with a cargo of

grain on board, and, least of all, with a partial cargo. Yet there are

hundreds of our coasting vessels, and, it is likely, many more from the

ports of Europe, which sail daily with partial cargoes, even of the most

dangerous species, and without any precaution whatever. The wonder

is that no more accidents occur than do actually happen. A lamentable

instance of this heedlessness occurred to my knowledge in the case of

Captain Joel Rice of the schooner Firefly, which sailed from Richmond,

Virginia, to Madeira, with a cargo of corn, in the year 1825. The

captain had gone many voyages without serious accident, although he was

in the habit of paying no attention whatever to his stowage, more than

to secure it in the ordinary manner. He had never before sailed with

a cargo of grain, and on this occasion had the corn thrown on board

loosely, when it did not much more than half fill the vessel. For the

first portion of the voyage he met with nothing more than light breezes;

but when within a day's sail of Madeira there came on a strong gale from

the N. N. E. which forced him to lie-to. He brought the schooner to the

wind under a double-reefed foresail alone, when she rode as well as any

vessel could be expected to do, and shipped not a drop of water. Toward

night the gale somewhat abated, and she rolled with more unsteadiness

than before, but still did very well, until a heavy lurch threw her upon

her beam-ends to starboard. The corn was then heard to shift bodily, the

force of the movement bursting open the main hatchway. The vessel

went down like a shot. This happened within hail of a small sloop from

Madeira, which picked up one of the crew (the only person saved), and

which rode out the gale in perfect security, as indeed a jolly boat

might have done under proper management.

 

The stowage on board the Grampus was most clumsily done, if stowage

that could be called which was little better than a promiscuous huddling

together of oil-casks {*1} and ship furniture. I have already spoken of

the condition of articles in the hold. On the orlop deck there was space

enough for my body (as I have stated) between the oil-casks and the

upper deck; a space was left open around the main hatchway; and several

other large spaces were left in the stowage. Near the hole cut through

the bulkhead by Augustus there was room enough for an entire cask, and

in this space I found myself comfortably situated for the present.

 

By the time my friend had got safely into the berth, and readjusted

his handcuffs and the rope, it was broad daylight. We had made a narrow

escape indeed; for scarcely had he arranged all matters, when the mate

came below, with Dirk Peters and the cook. They talked for some time

about the vessel from the Cape Verds, and seemed to be excessively

anxious for her appearance. At length the cook came to the berth in

which Augustus was lying, and seated himself in it near the head. I

could see and hear every thing from my hiding-place, for the piece cut

out had not been put back, and I was in momentary expectation that the

negro would fall against the pea-jacket, which was hung up to conceal

the aperture, in which case all would have been discovered, and our

lives would, no doubt, have been instantly sacrificed. Our good fortune

prevailed, however; and although he frequently touched it as the vessel

rolled, he never pressed against it sufficiently to bring about a

discovery. The bottom of the jacket had been carefully fastened to the

bulkhead, so that the hole might not be seen by its swinging to one

side. All this time Tiger was lying in the foot of the berth, and

appeared to have recovered in some measure his faculties, for I could

see him occasionally open his eyes and draw a long breath.

 

After a few minutes the mate and cook went above, leaving Dirk Peters

behind, who, as soon as they were gone, came and sat himself down in

the place just occupied by the mate. He began to talk very sociably with

Augustus, and we could now see that the greater part of his apparent

intoxication, while the two others were with him, was a feint. He

answered all my companion's questions with perfect freedom; told him

that he had no doubt of his father's having been picked up, as there

were no less than five sail in sight just before sundown on the day he

was cut adrift; and used other language of a consolatory nature,

which occasioned me no less surprise than pleasure. Indeed, I began to

entertain hopes, that through the instrumentality of Peters we might

be finally enabled to regain possession of the brig, and this idea I

mentioned to Augustus as soon as I found an opportunity. He thought

the matter possible, but urged the necessity of the greatest caution

in making the attempt, as the conduct of the hybrid appeared to be

instigated by the most arbitrary caprice alone; and, indeed, it was

difficult to say if he was at any moment of sound mind. Peters went

upon deck in about an hour, and did not return again until noon, when he

brought Augustus a plentiful supply of junk beef and pudding. Of this,

when we were left alone, I partook heartily, without returning through

the hole. No one else came down into the forecastle during the day, and

at night, I got into Augustus' berth, where I slept soundly and sweetly

until nearly daybreak, when he awakened me upon hearing a stir upon

deck, and I regained my hiding-place as quickly as possible. When the

day was fully broke, we found that Tiger had recovered his strength

almost entirely, and gave no indications of hydrophobia, drinking a

little water that was offered him with great apparent eagerness. During

the day he regained all his former vigour and appetite. His strange

conduct had been brought on, no doubt, by the deleterious quality of the

air of the hold, and had no connexion with canine madness. I could not

sufficiently rejoice that I had persisted in bringing him with me from

the box. This day was the thirtieth of June, and the thirteenth since

the Grampus made sad from Nantucket.

 

On the second of July the mate came below drunk as usual, and in an

excessively good-humor. He came to Augustus's berth, and, giving him a

slap on the back, asked him if he thought he could behave himself if

he let him loose, and whether he would promise not to be going into the

cabin again. To this, of course, my friend answered in the affirmative,

when the ruffian set him at liberty, after making him drink from a flask

of rum which he drew from his coat-pocket. Both now went on deck, and I

did not see Augustus for about three hours. He then came below with the

good news that he had obtained permission to go about the brig as he

pleased anywhere forward of the mainmast, and that he had been ordered

to sleep, as usual, in the forecastle. He brought me, too, a good

dinner, and a plentiful supply of water. The brig was still cruising for

the vessel from the Cape Verds, and a sail was now in sight, which was

thought to be the one in question. As the events of the ensuing eight

days were of little importance, and had no direct bearing upon the main

incidents of my narrative, I will here throw them into the form of a

journal, as I do not wish to omit them altogether.

 

July 3. Augustus furnished me with three blankets, with which I

contrived a comfortable bed in my hiding-place. No one came below,

except my companion, during the day. Tiger took his station in the

berth just by the aperture, and slept heavily, as if not yet entirely

recovered from the effects of his sickness. Toward night a flaw of wind

struck the brig before sail could be taken in, and very nearly capsized

her. The puff died away immediately, however, and no damage was done

beyond the splitting of the foretopsail. Dirk Peters treated Augustus

all this day with great kindness and entered into a long conversation

with him respecting the Pacific Ocean, and the islands he had visited

in that region. He asked him whether he would not like to go with the

mutineers on a kind of exploring and pleasure voyage in those quarters,

and said that the men were gradually coming over to the mate's views.

To this Augustus thought it best to reply that he would be glad to go

on such an adventure, since nothing better could be done, and that any

thing was preferable to a piratical life.

 

July 4th. The vessel in sight proved to be a small brig from Liverpool,

and was allowed to pass unmolested. Augustus spent most of his time

on deck, with a view of obtaining all the information in his power

respecting the intentions of the mutineers. They had frequent and

violent quarrels among themselves, in one of which a harpooner, Jim

Bonner, was thrown overboard. The party of the mate was gaining ground.

Jim Bonner belonged to the cook's gang, of which Peters was a partisan.

 

July 5th. About daybreak there came on a stiff breeze from the west,

which at noon freshened into a gale, so that the brig could carry

nothing more than her trysail and foresail. In taking in the

foretopsail, Simms, one of the common hands, and belonging also to

the cook's gang, fell overboard, being very much in liquor, and was

drowned--no attempt being made to save him. The whole number of persons

on board was now thirteen, to wit: Dirk Peters; Seymour, the black

cook; Jones, Greely, Hartman Rogers and William Allen, all of the

cook's party; of the cook's party; the mate, whose name I never

learned; Absalom Hicks, Wilson, John Hunty Richard Parker, of the mate's

party;--besides Augustus and myself.

 

July 6th. The gale lasted all this day, blowing in heavy squalls,

accompanied with rain. The brig took in a good deal of water through her

seams, and one of the pumps was kept continually going, Augustus being

forced to take his turn. Just at twilight a large ship passed close

by us, without having been discovered until within hail. The ship was

supposed to be the one for which the mutineers were on the lookout. The

mate hailed her, but the reply was drowned in the roaring of the gale.

At eleven, a sea was shipped amidships, which tore away a great portion

of the larboard bulwarks, and did some other slight damage. Toward

morning the weather moderated, and at sunrise there was very little

wind.

 

July 7th. There was a heavy swell running all this day, during which the

brig, being light, rolled excessively, and many articles broke loose in

the hold, as I could hear distinctly from my hiding-place. I suffered

a great deal from sea-sickness. Peters had a long conversation this day

with Augustus, and told him that two of his gang, Greely and Allen, had

gone over to the mate, and were resolved to turn pirates. He put several

questions to Augustus which he did not then exactly understand. During

a part of this evening the leak gained upon the vessel; and little could

be done to remedy it, as it was occasioned by the brigs straining, and

taking in the water through her seams. A sail was thrummed, and got

under the bows, which aided us in some measure, so that we began to gain

upon the leak.

 

July 8th. A light breeze sprang up at sunrise from the eastward, when

the mate headed the brig to the southwest, with the intention of making

some of the West India islands in pursuance of his piratical designs. No

opposition was made by Peters or the cook--at least none in the hearing

of Augustus. All idea of taking the vessel from the Cape Verds was

abandoned. The leak was now easily kept under by one pump going every

three quarters of an hour. The sail was drawn from beneath the bows.

Spoke two small schooners during the day.

 

July 9th. Fine weather. All hands employed in repairing bulwarks. Peters

had again a long conversation with Augustus, and spoke more plainly than

he had done heretofore. He said nothing should induce him to come into

the mate's views, and even hinted his intention of taking the brig out

of his hands. He asked my friend if he could depend upon his aid in such

case, to which Augustus said, "Yes," without hesitation. Peters then

said he would sound the others of his party upon the subject, and went

away. During the remainder of the day Augustus had no opportunity of

speaking with him privately.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 7

 

JULY 10. Spoke a brig from Rio, bound to Norfolk. Weather hazy, with

a light baffling wind from the eastward. To-day Hartman Rogers died,

having been attacked on the eighth with spasms after drinking a glass of

grog. This man was of the cook's party, and one upon whom Peters placed

his main reliance. He told Augustus that he believed the mate had

poisoned him, and that he expected, if he did not be on the look-out,

his own turn would come shortly. There were now only himself, Jones, and

the cook belonging to his own gang--on the other side there were five.

He had spoken to Jones about taking the command from the mate; but the

project having been coolly received, he had been deterred from pressing

the matter any further, or from saying any thing to the cook. It was

well, as it happened, that he was so prudent, for in the afternoon the

cook expressed his determination of siding with the mate, and went over

formally to that party; while Jones took an opportunity of quarrelling

with Peters, and hinted that he would let the mate know of the plan

in agitation. There was now, evidently, no time to be lost, and Peters

expressed his determination of attempting to take the vessel at all

hazards, provided Augustus would lend him his aid. My friend at once

assured him of his willingness to enter into any plan for that purpose,

and, thinking the opportunity a favourable one, made known the fact

of my being on board. At this the hybrid was not more astonished than

delighted, as he had no reliance whatever upon Jones, whom he already

considered as belonging to the party of the mate. They went below

immediately, when Augustus called to me by name, and Peters and myself

were soon made acquainted. It was agreed that we should attempt to

retake the vessel upon the first good opportunity, leaving Jones

altogether out of our councils. In the event of success, we were to

run the brig into the first port that offered, and deliver her up. The

desertion of his party had frustrated Peters' design of going into the

Pacific--an adventure which could not be accomplished without a crew,

and he depended upon either getting acquitted upon trial, on the score

of insanity (which he solemnly avowed had actuated him in lending his

aid to the mutiny), or upon obtaining a pardon, if found guilty, through

the representations of Augustus and myself. Our deliberations were

interrupted for the present by the cry of, "All hands take in sail," and

Peters and Augustus ran up on deck.

 

As usual, the crew were nearly all drunk; and, before sail could be

properly taken in, a violent squall laid the brig on her beam-ends. By

keeping her away, however, she righted, having shipped a good deal of

water. Scarcely was everything secure, when another squall took the

vessel, and immediately afterward another--no damage being done. There

was every appearance of a gale of wind, which, indeed, shortly came on,

with great fury, from the northward and westward. All was made as snug

as possible, and we laid-to, as usual, under a close-reefed foresail. As

night drew on, the wind increased in violence, with a remarkably heavy

sea. Peters now came into the forecastle with Augustus, and we resumed

our deliberations.

 

We agreed that no opportunity could be more favourable than the present

for carrying our designs into effect, as an attempt at such a moment

would never be anticipated. As the brig was snugly laid-to, there would

be no necessity of manoeuvring her until good weather, when, if we

succeeded in our attempt, we might liberate one, or perhaps two of the

men, to aid us in taking her into port. The main difficulty was the

great disproportion in our forces. There were only three of us, and in

the cabin there were nine. All the arms on board, too, were in their

possession, with the exception of a pair of small pistols which Peters

had concealed about his person, and the large seaman's knife which

he always wore in the waistband of his pantaloons. From certain

indications, too--such, for example, as there being no such thing as

an axe or a handspike lying in their customary places--we began to fear

that the mate had his suspicions, at least in regard to Peters, and that

he would let slip no opportunity of getting rid of him. It was clear,

indeed, that what we should determine to do could not be done too soon.

Still the odds were too much against us to allow of our proceeding

without the greatest caution.

 

Peters proposed that he should go up on deck, and enter into

conversation with the watch (Allen), when he would be able to throw him

into the sea without trouble, and without making any disturbance, by

seizing a good opportunity, that Augustus and myself should then come

up, and endeavour to provide ourselves with some kind of weapons from

the deck, and that we should then make a rush together, and secure the

companion-way before any opposition could be offered. I objected to

this, because I could not believe that the mate (who was a cunning

fellow in all matters which did not affect his superstitious prejudices)

would suffer himself to be so easily entrapped. The very fact of there

being a watch on deck at all was sufficient proof that he was upon the

alert,--it not being usual except in vessels where discipline is most

rigidly enforced, to station a watch on deck when a vessel is lying-to

in a gale of wind. As I address myself principally, if not altogether,

to persons who have never been to sea, it may be as well to state the

exact condition of a vessel under such circumstances. Lying-to, or,

in sea-parlance, "laying-to," is a measure resorted to for various

purposes, and effected in various manners. In moderate weather it

is frequently done with a view of merely bringing the vessel to a

stand-still, to wait for another vessel or any similar object. If

the vessel which lies-to is under full sail, the manoeuvre is usually

accomplished by throwing round some portion of her sails, so as to let

the wind take them aback, when she becomes stationary. But we are now

speaking of lying-to in a gale of wind. This is done when the wind

is ahead, and too violent to admit of carrying sail without danger of

capsizing; and sometimes even when the wind is fair, but the sea too

heavy for the vessel to be put before it. If a vessel be suffered to

scud before the wind in a very heavy sea, much damage is usually done

her by the shipping of water over her stern, and sometimes by the

violent plunges she makes forward. This manoeuvre, then, is seldom

resorted to in such case, unless through necessity. When the vessel

is in a leaky condition she is often put before the wind even in the

heaviest seas; for, when lying-to, her seams are sure to be greatly

opened by her violent straining, and it is not so much the case when

scudding. Often, too, it becomes necessary to scud a vessel, either when

the blast is so exceedingly furious as to tear in pieces the sail which

is employed with a view of bringing her head to the wind, or when,

through the false modelling of the frame or other causes, this main

object cannot be effected.

 

Vessels in a gale of wind are laid-to in different manners, according

to their peculiar construction. Some lie-to best under a foresail, and

this, I believe, is the sail most usually employed. Large square-rigged

vessels have sails for the express purpose, called storm-staysails.

But the jib is occasionally employed by itself,--sometimes the jib

and foresail, or a double-reefed foresail, and not unfrequently the

after-sails, are made use of. Foretopsails are very often found to

answer the purpose better than any other species of sail. The Grampus

was generally laid-to under a close-reefed foresail.

 

When a vessel is to be laid-to, her head is brought up to the wind just

so nearly as to fill the sail under which she lies when hauled flat aft,

that is, when brought diagonally across the vessel. This being done,

the bows point within a few degrees of the direction from which the wind

issues, and the windward bow of course receives the shock of the waves.

In this situation a good vessel will ride out a very heavy gale of wind

without shipping a drop of water, and without any further attention

being requisite on the part of the crew. The helm is usually lashed

down, but this is altogether unnecessary (except on account of the noise

it makes when loose), for the rudder has no effect upon the vessel when

lying-to. Indeed, the helm had far better be left loose than lashed very

fast, for the rudder is apt to be torn off by heavy seas if there be no

room for the helm to play. As long as the sail holds, a well modelled

vessel will maintain her situation, and ride every sea, as if instinct

with life and reason. If the violence of the wind, however, should tear

the sail into pieces (a feat which it requires a perfect hurricane to

accomplish under ordinary circumstances), there is then imminent danger.

The vessel falls off from the wind, and, coming broadside to the sea,

is completely at its mercy: the only resource in this case is to put her

quietly before the wind, letting her scud until some other sail can be

set. Some vessels will lie-to under no sail whatever, but such are not

to be trusted at sea.

 

But to return from this digression. It had never been customary with the

mate to have any watch on deck when lying-to in a gale of wind, and the

fact that he had now one, coupled with the circumstance of the missing

axes and handspikes, fully convinced us that the crew were too well on

the watch to be taken by surprise in the manner Peters had suggested.

Something, however, was to be done, and that with as little delay as

practicable, for there could be no doubt that a suspicion having

been once entertained against Peters, he would be sacrificed upon the

earliest occasion, and one would certainly be either found or made upon

the breaking of the gale.

 

Augustus now suggested that if Peters could contrive to remove, under

any pretext, the piece of chain-cable which lay over the trap in the

stateroom, we might possibly be able to come upon them unawares by means

of the hold; but a little reflection convinced us that the vessel rolled

and pitched too violently for any attempt of that nature.

 

By good fortune I at length hit upon the idea of working upon the

superstitious terrors and guilty conscience of the mate. It will be

remembered that one of the crew, Hartman Rogers, had died during the

morning, having been attacked two days before with spasms after drinking

some spirits and water. Peters had expressed to us his opinion that this

man had been poisoned by the mate, and for this belief he had reasons,

so he said, which were incontrovertible, but which he could not be

prevailed upon to explain to us--this wayward refusal being only in

keeping with other points of his singular character. But whether or not

he had any better grounds for suspecting the mate than we had ourselves,

we were easily led to fall in with his suspicion, and determined to act

accordingly.

 

Rogers had died about eleven in the forenoon, in violent convulsions;

and the corpse presented in a few minutes after death one of the most

horrid and loathsome spectacles I ever remember to have seen. The

stomach was swollen immensely, like that of a man who has been drowned

and lain under water for many weeks. The hands were in the same

condition, while the face was shrunken, shrivelled, and of a chalky

whiteness, except where relieved by two or three glaring red blotches

like those occasioned by the erysipelas: one of these blotches extended

diagonally across the face, completely covering up an eye as if with

a band of red velvet. In this disgusting condition the body had been

brought up from the cabin at noon to be thrown overboard, when the mate

getting a glimpse of it (for he now saw it for the first time), and

being either touched with remorse for his crime or struck with terror at

so horrible a sight, ordered the men to sew the body up in its

hammock, and allow it the usual rites of sea-burial. Having given these

directions, he went below, as if to avoid any further sight of his

victim. While preparations were making to obey his orders, the gale came

on with great fury, and the design was abandoned for the present. The

corpse, left to itself, was washed into the larboard scuppers, where

it still lay at the time of which I speak, floundering about with the

furious lurches of the brig.

 

Having arranged our plan, we set about putting it in execution as

speedily as possible. Peters went upon deck, and, as he had anticipated,

was immediately accosted by Allen, who appeared to be stationed more as

a watch upon the forecastle than for any other purpose. The fate of

this villain, however, was speedily and silently decided; for Peters,

approaching him in a careless manner, as if about to address him, seized

him by the throat, and, before he could utter a single cry, tossed

him over the bulwarks. He then called to us, and we came up. Our first

precaution was to look about for something with which to arm ourselves,

and in doing this we had to proceed with great care, for it was

impossible to stand on deck an instant without holding fast, and

violent seas broke over the vessel at every plunge forward. It was

indispensable, too, that we should be quick in our operations, for every

minute we expected the mate to be up to set the pumps going, as it was

evident the brig must be taking in water very fast. After searching

about for some time, we could find nothing more fit for our purpose

than the two pump-handles, one of which Augustus took, and I the other.

Having secured these, we stripped off the shirt of the corpse and

dropped the body overboard. Peters and myself then went below, leaving

Augustus to watch upon deck, where he took his station just where Allen

had been placed, and with his back to the cabin companionway, so that,

if any of the mates gang should come up, he might suppose it was the

watch.

 

As soon as I got below I commenced disguising myself so as to represent

the corpse of Rogers. The shirt which we had taken from the body aided

us very much, for it was of singular form and character, and easily

recognizable--a kind of smock, which the deceased wore over his other

clothing. It was a blue stockinett, with large white stripes running

across. Having put this on, I proceeded to equip myself with a false

stomach, in imitation of the horrible deformity of the swollen corpse.

This was soon effected by means of stuffing with some bedclothes. I

then gave the same appearance to my hands by drawing on a pair of white

woollen mittens, and filling them in with any kind of rags that offered

themselves. Peters then arranged my face, first rubbing it well over

with white chalk, and afterward blotching it with blood, which he took

from a cut in his finger. The streak across the eye was not forgotten

and presented a most shocking appearance.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 8

 

AS I viewed myself in a fragment of looking-glass which hung up in

the cabin, and by the dim light of a kind of battle-lantern, I was

so impressed with a sense of vague awe at my appearance, and at the

recollection of the terrific reality which I was thus representing,

that I was seized with a violent tremour, and could scarcely summon

resolution to go on with my part. It was necessary, however, to act with

decision, and Peters and myself went upon deck.

 

We there found everything safe, and, keeping close to the bulwarks,

the three of us crept to the cabin companion-way. It was only partially

closed, precautions having been taken to prevent its being suddenly

pushed to from without, by means of placing billets of wood on the upper

step so as to interfere with the shutting. We found no difficulty in

getting a full view of the interior of the cabin through the cracks

where the hinges were placed. It now proved to have been very fortunate

for us that we had not attempted to take them by surprise, for they were

evidently on the alert. Only one was asleep, and he lying just at the

foot of the companion-ladder, with a musket by his side. The rest were

seated on several mattresses, which had been taken from the berths and

thrown on the floor. They were engaged in earnest conversation; and

although they had been carousing, as appeared from two empty jugs, with

some tin tumblers which lay about, they were not as much intoxicated

as usual. All had knives, one or two of them pistols, and a great many

muskets were lying in a berth close at hand.

 

We listened to their conversation for some time before we could make

up our minds how to act, having as yet resolved on nothing determinate,

except that we would attempt to paralyze their exertions, when we should

attack them, by means of the apparition of Rogers. They were discussing

their piratical plans, in which all we could hear distinctly was, that

they would unite with the crew of a schooner _Hornet_, and, if possible,

get the schooner herself into their possession preparatory to some

attempt on a large scale, the particulars of which could not be made out

by either of us.

 

One of the men spoke of Peters, when the mate replied to him in a low

voice which could not be distinguished, and afterward added more

loudly, that "he could not understand his being so much forward with the

captain's brat in the forecastle, and he thought the sooner both of them

were overboard the better." To this no answer was made, but we could

easily perceive that the hint was well received by the whole party, and

more particularly by Jones. At this period I was excessively agitated,

the more so as I could see that neither Augustus nor Peters could

determine how to act. I made up my mind, however, to sell my life as

dearly as possible, and not to suffer myself to be overcome by any

feelings of trepidation.

 

The tremendous noise made by the roaring of the wind in the rigging, and

the washing of the sea over the deck, prevented us from hearing what was

said, except during momentary lulls. In one of these, we all distinctly

heard the mate tell one of the men to "go forward, have an eye upon

them, for he wanted no such secret doings on board the brig." It was

well for us that the pitching of the vessel at this moment was so

violent as to prevent this order from being carried into instant

execution. The cook got up from his mattress to go for us, when a

tremendous lurch, which I thought would carry away the masts, threw him

headlong against one of the larboard stateroom doors, bursting it open,

and creating a good deal of other confusion. Luckily, neither of

our party was thrown from his position, and we had time to make a

precipitate retreat to the forecastle, and arrange a hurried plan of

action before the messenger made his appearance, or rather before he put

his head out of the companion-hatch, for he did not come on deck.

From this station he could not notice the absence of Allen, and he

accordingly bawled out, as if to him, repeating the orders of the

mate. Peters cried out, "Ay, ay," in a disguised voice, and the cook

immediately went below, without entertaining a suspicion that all was

not right.

 

My two companions now proceeded boldly aft and down into the cabin,

Peters closing the door after him in the same manner he had found it.

The mate received them with feigned cordiality, and told Augustus that,

since he had behaved himself so well of late, he might take up his

quarters in the cabin and be one of them for the future. He then poured

him out a tumbler half full of rum, and made him drink it. All this I

saw and heard, for I followed my friends to the cabin as soon as the

door was shut, and took up my old point of observation. I had

brought with me the two pump-handles, one of which I secured near the

companion-way, to be ready for use when required.

 

I now steadied myself as well as possible so as to have a good view of

all that was passing within, and endeavoured to nerve myself to the task

of descending among the mutineers when Peters should make a signal to

me, as agreed upon. Presently he contrived to turn the conversation upon

the bloody deeds of the mutiny, and by degrees led the men to talk

of the thousand superstitions which are so universally current among

seamen. I could not make out all that was said, but I could plainly see

the effects of the conversation in the countenances of those present.

The mate was evidently much agitated, and presently, when some one

mentioned the terrific appearance of Rogers' corpse, I thought he was

upon the point of swooning. Peters now asked him if he did not think it

would be better to have the body thrown overboard at once as it was too

horrible a sight to see it floundering about in the scuppers. At this

the villain absolutely gasped for breath, and turned his head slowly

round upon his companions, as if imploring some one to go up and perform

the task. No one, however, stirred, and it was quite evident that the

whole party were wound up to the highest pitch of nervous excitement.

Peters now made me the signal. I immediately threw open the door of the

companion-way, and, descending, without uttering a syllable, stood erect

in the midst of the party.

 

The intense effect produced by this sudden apparition is not at all

to be wondered at when the various circumstances are taken into

consideration. Usually, in cases of a similar nature, there is left in

the mind of the spectator some glimmering of doubt as to the reality of

the vision before his eyes; a degree of hope, however feeble, that he

is the victim of chicanery, and that the apparition is not actually a

visitant from the old world of shadows. It is not too much to say that

such remnants of doubt have been at the bottom of almost every such

visitation, and that the appalling horror which has sometimes been

brought about, is to be attributed, even in the cases most in point,

and where most suffering has been experienced, more to a kind of

anticipative horror, lest the apparition might possibly be real, than

to an unwavering belief in its reality. But, in the present instance, it

will be seen immediately, that in the minds of the mutineers there

was not even the shadow of a basis upon which to rest a doubt that

the apparition of Rogers was indeed a revivification of his disgusting

corpse, or at least its spiritual image. The isolated situation of the

brig, with its entire inaccessibility on account of the gale, confined

the apparently possible means of deception within such narrow and

definite limits, that they must have thought themselves enabled to

survey them all at a glance. They had now been at sea twenty-four days,

without holding more than a speaking communication with any vessel

whatever. The whole of the crew, too--at least all whom they had the

most remote reason for suspecting to be on board--were assembled in the

cabin, with the exception of Allen, the watch; and his gigantic stature

(he was six feet six inches high) was too familiar in their eyes to

permit the notion that he was the apparition before them to enter their

minds even for an instant. Add to these considerations the awe-inspiring

nature of the tempest, and that of the conversation brought about by

Peters; the deep impression which the loathsomeness of the actual corpse

had made in the morning upon the imaginations of the men; the excellence

of the imitation in my person, and the uncertain and wavering light

in which they beheld me, as the glare of the cabin lantern, swinging

violently to and fro, fell dubiously and fitfully upon my figure, and

there will be no reason to wonder that the deception had even more than

the entire effect which we had anticipated. The mate sprang up from the

mattress on which he was lying, and, without uttering a syllable, fell

back, stone dead, upon the cabin floor, and was hurled to the leeward

like a log by a heavy roll of the brig. Of the remaining seven, there

were but three who had at first any degree of presence of mind. The

four others sat for some time rooted apparently to the floor, the most

pitiable objects of horror and utter despair my eyes ever encountered.

The only opposition we experienced at all was from the cook, John Hunt,

and Richard Parker; but they made but a feeble and irresolute defence.

The two former were shot instantly by Peters, and I felled Parker with

a blow on the head from the pump-handle which I had brought with me. In

the meantime, Augustus seized one of the muskets lying on the floor

and shot another mutineer Wilson through the breast. There were now but

three remaining; but by this time they had become aroused from their

lethargy, and perhaps began to see that a deception had been practised

upon them, for they fought with great resolution and fury, and, but for

the immense muscular strength of Peters, might have ultimately got the

better of us. These three men were--Jones, Greely, and Absolom Hicks.

Jones had thrown Augustus to the floor, stabbed him in several places

along the right arm, and would no doubt have soon dispatched him

(as neither Peters nor myself could immediately get rid of our own

antagonists), had it not been for the timely aid of a friend, upon whose

assistance we, surely, had never depended. This friend was no other than

Tiger. With a low growl, he bounded into the cabin, at a most critical

moment for Augustus, and throwing himself upon Jones, pinned him to the

floor in an instant. My friend, however, was now too much injured to

render us any aid whatever, and I was so encumbered with my disguise

that I could do but little. The dog would not leave his hold upon the

throat of Jones--Peters, nevertheless, was far more than a match for the

two men who remained, and would, no doubt, have dispatched them sooner,

had it not been for the narrow space in which he had to act, and the

tremendous lurches of the vessel. Presently he was enabled to get hold

of a heavy stool, several of which lay about the floor. With this he

beat out the brains of Greely as he was in the act of discharging a

musket at me, and immediately afterward a roll of the brig throwing

him in contact with Hicks, he seized him by the throat, and, by dint of

sheer strength, strangled him instantaneously. Thus, in far less time

than I have taken to tell it, we found ourselves masters of the brig.

 

The only person of our opponents who was left alive was Richard Parker.

This man, it will be remembered, I had knocked down with a blow from the

pump-handle at the commencement of the attack. He now lay motionless by

the door of the shattered stateroom; but, upon Peters touching him with

his foot, he spoke, and entreated for mercy. His head was only slightly

cut, and otherwise he had received no injury, having been merely stunned

by the blow. He now got up, and, for the present, we secured his hands

behind his back. The dog was still growling over Jones; but, upon

examination, we found him completely dead, the blood issuing in a stream

from a deep wound in the throat, inflicted, no doubt, by the sharp teeth

of the animal.

 

It was now about one o'clock in the morning, and the wind was still

blowing tremendously. The brig evidently laboured much more than usual,

and it became absolutely necessary that something should be done with a

view of easing her in some measure. At almost every roll to leeward

she shipped a sea, several of which came partially down into the cabin

during our scuffle, the hatchway having been left open by myself when I

descended. The entire range of bulwarks to larboard had been swept away,

as well as the caboose, together with the jollyboat from the counter.

The creaking and working of the mainmast, too, gave indication that it

was nearly sprung. To make room for more stowage in the afterhold, the

heel of this mast had been stepped between decks (a very reprehensible

practice, occasionally resorted to by ignorant ship-builders), so that

it was in imminent danger of working from its step. But, to crown all

our difficulties, we plummed the well, and found no less than seven feet

of water.

 

Leaving the bodies of the crew lying in the cabin, we got to work

immediately at the pumps--Parker, of course, being set at liberty to

assist us in the labour. Augustus's arm was bound up as well as we could

effect it, and he did what he could, but that was not much. However, we

found that we could just manage to keep the leak from gaining upon us

by having one pump constantly going. As there were only four of us, this

was severe labour; but we endeavoured to keep up our spirits, and looked

anxiously for daybreak, when we hoped to lighten the brig by cutting

away the mainmast.

 

In this manner we passed a night of terrible anxiety and fatigue, and,

when the day at length broke, the gale had neither abated in the least,

nor were there any signs of its abating. We now dragged the bodies

on deck and threw them overboard. Our next care was to get rid of the

mainmast. The necessary preparations having been made, Peters cut away

at the mast (having found axes in the cabin), while the rest of us stood

by the stays and lanyards. As the brig gave a tremendous lee-lurch, the

word was given to cut away the weather-lanyards, which being done, the

whole mass of wood and rigging plunged into the sea, clear of the brig,

and without doing any material injury. We now found that the vessel

did not labour quite as much as before, but our situation was still

exceedingly precarious, and in spite of the utmost exertions, we

could not gain upon the leak without the aid of both pumps. The

little assistance which Augustus could render us was not really of any

importance. To add to our distress, a heavy sea, striking the brig to

the windward, threw her off several points from the wind, and, before

she could regain her position, another broke completely over her, and

hurled her full upon her beam-ends. The ballast now shifted in a mass

to leeward (the stowage had been knocking about perfectly at random for

some time), and for a few moments we thought nothing could save us from

capsizing. Presently, however, we partially righted; but the ballast

still retaining its place to larboard, we lay so much along that it was

useless to think of working the pumps, which indeed we could not have

done much longer in any case, as our hands were entirely raw with

the excessive labour we had undergone, and were bleeding in the most

horrible manner.

 

Contrary to Parker's advice, we now proceeded to cut away the foremast,

and at length accomplished it after much difficulty, owing to the

position in which we lay. In going overboard the wreck took with it the

bowsprit, and left us a complete hulk.

 

So far we had had reason to rejoice in the escape of our longboat,

which had received no damage from any of the huge seas which had come on

board. But we had not long to congratulate ourselves; for the foremast

having gone, and, of course, the foresail with it, by which the brig had

been steadied, every sea now made a complete breach over us, and in

five minutes our deck was swept from stern to stern, the longboat

and starboard bulwarks torn off, and even the windlass shattered into

fragments. It was, indeed, hardly possible for us to be in a more

pitiable condition.

 

At noon there seemed to be some slight appearance of the gale's abating,

but in this we were sadly disappointed, for it only lulled for a few

minutes to blow with redoubled fury. About four in the afternoon it was

utterly impossible to stand up against the violence of the blast; and,

as the night closed in upon us, I had not a shadow of hope that the

vessel would hold together until morning.

 

By midnight we had settled very deep in the water, which was now up to

the orlop deck. The rudder went soon afterward, the sea which tore it

away lifting the after portion of the brig entirely from the water,

against which she thumped in her descent with such a concussion as would

be occasioned by going ashore. We had all calculated that the rudder

would hold its own to the last, as it was unusually strong, being rigged

as I have never seen one rigged either before or since. Down its main

timber there ran a succession of stout iron hooks, and others in the

same manner down the stern-post. Through these hooks there extended

a very thick wrought-iron rod, the rudder being thus held to the

stern-post and swinging freely on the rod. The tremendous force of the

sea which tore it off may be estimated by the fact, that the hooks in

the stern-post, which ran entirely through it, being clinched on the

inside, were drawn every one of them completely out of the solid wood.

 

We had scarcely time to draw breath after the violence of this shock,

when one of the most tremendous waves I had then ever known broke right

on board of us, sweeping the companion-way clear off, bursting in the

hatchways, and filling every inch of the vessel with water.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 9

 

LUCKILY, just before night, all four of us had lashed ourselves firmly

to the fragments of the windlass, lying in this manner as flat upon the

deck as possible. This precaution alone saved us from destruction. As

it was, we were all more or less stunned by the immense weight of water

which tumbled upon us, and which did not roll from above us until we

were nearly exhausted. As soon as I could recover breath, I called aloud

to my companions. Augustus alone replied, saying: "It is all over with

us, and may God have mercy upon our souls!" By-and-by both the others

were enabled to speak, when they exhorted us to take courage, as there

was still hope; it being impossible, from the nature of the cargo, that

the brig could go down, and there being every chance that the gale would

blow over by the morning. These words inspired me with new life; for,

strange as it may seem, although it was obvious that a vessel with a

cargo of empty oil-casks would not sink, I had been hitherto so confused

in mind as to have overlooked this consideration altogether; and the

danger which I had for some time regarded as the most imminent was

that of foundering. As hope revived within me, I made use of every

opportunity to strengthen the lashings which held me to the remains

of the windlass, and in this occupation I soon discovered that my

companions were also busy. The night was as dark as it could possibly

be, and the horrible shrieking din and confusion which surrounded us it

is useless to attempt describing. Our deck lay level with the sea, or

rather we were encircled with a towering ridge of foam, a portion of

which swept over us even instant. It is not too much to say that our

heads were not fairly out of the water more than one second in three.

Although we lay close together, no one of us could see the other,

or, indeed, any portion of the brig itself, upon which we were so

tempestuously hurled about. At intervals we called one to the other,

thus endeavouring to keep alive hope, and render consolation and

encouragement to such of us as stood most in need of it. The feeble

condition of Augustus made him an object of solicitude with us all; and

as, from the lacerated condition of his right arm, it must have been

impossible for him to secure his lashings with any degree of

firmness, we were in momentary expectation of finding that he had gone

overboard--yet to render him aid was a thing altogether out of the

question. Fortunately, his station was more secure than that of any

of the rest of us; for the upper part of his body lying just beneath

a portion of the shattered windlass, the seas, as they tumbled in upon

him, were greatly broken in their violence. In any other situation than

this (into which he had been accidentally thrown after having lashed

himself in a very exposed spot) he must inevitably have perished before

morning. Owing to the brig's lying so much along, we were all less

liable to be washed off than otherwise would have been the case. The

heel, as I have before stated, was to larboard, about one half of the

deck being constantly under water. The seas, therefore, which struck us

to starboard were much broken, by the vessel's side, only reaching us

in fragments as we lay flat on our faces; while those which came from

larboard being what are called back-water seas, and obtaining little

hold upon us on account of our posture, had not sufficient force to drag

us from our fastenings.

 

In this frightful situation we lay until the day broke so as to show

us more fully the horrors which surrounded us. The brig was a mere

log, rolling about at the mercy of every wave; the gale was upon the

increase, if any thing, blowing indeed a complete hurricane, and there

appeared to us no earthly prospect of deliverance. For several hours

we held on in silence, expecting every moment that our lashings would

either give way, that the remains of the windlass would go by the board,

or that some of the huge seas, which roared in every direction around

us and above us, would drive the hulk so far beneath the water that we

should be drowned before it could regain the surface. By the mercy of

God, however, we were preserved from these imminent dangers, and about

midday were cheered by the light of the blessed sun. Shortly afterward

we could perceive a sensible diminution in the force of the wind, when,

now for the first time since the latter part of the evening before,

Augustus spoke, asking Peters, who lay closest to him, if he thought

there was any possibility of our being saved. As no reply was at first

made to this question, we all concluded that the hybrid had been drowned

where he lay; but presently, to our great joy, he spoke, although very

feebly, saying that he was in great pain, being so cut by the tightness

of his lashings across the stomach, that he must either find means of

loosening them or perish, as it was impossible that he could endure

his misery much longer. This occasioned us great distress, as it was

altogether useless to think of aiding him in any manner while the

sea continued washing over us as it did. We exhorted him to bear his

sufferings with fortitude, and promised to seize the first opportunity

which should offer itself to relieve him. He replied that it would soon

be too late; that it would be all over with him before we could help

him; and then, after moaning for some minutes, lay silent, when we

concluded that he had perished.

 

As the evening drew on, the sea had fallen so much that scarcely more

than one wave broke over the hulk from windward in the course of five

minutes, and the wind had abated a great deal, although still blowing a

severe gale. I had not heard any of my companions speak for hours, and

now called to Augustus. He replied, although very feebly, so that

I could not distinguish what he said. I then spoke to Peters and to

Parker, neither of whom returned any answer.

 

Shortly after this period I fell into a state of partial insensibility,

during which the most pleasing images floated in my imagination; such as

green trees, waving meadows of ripe grain, processions of dancing girls,

troops of cavalry, and other phantasies. I now remember that, in all

which passed before my mind's eye, motion was a predominant idea. Thus,

I never fancied any stationary object, such as a house, a mountain, or

any thing of that kind; but windmills, ships, large birds, balloons,

people on horseback, carriages driving furiously, and similar moving

objects, presented themselves in endless succession. When I recovered

from this state, the sun was, as near as I could guess, an hour high.

I had the greatest difficulty in bringing to recollection the various

circumstances connected with my situation, and for some time remained

firmly convinced that I was still in the hold of the brig, near the box,

and that the body of Parker was that of Tiger.

 

When I at length completely came to my senses, I found that the wind

blew no more than a moderate breeze, and that the sea was comparatively

calm; so much so that it only washed over the brig amidships. My left

arm had broken loose from its lashings, and was much cut about the

elbow; my right was entirely benumbed, and the hand and wrist swollen

prodigiously by the pressure of the rope, which had worked from the

shoulder downward. I was also in great pain from another rope which

went about my waist, and had been drawn to an insufferable degree of

tightness. Looking round upon my companions, I saw that Peters still

lived, although a thick line was pulled so forcibly around his loins as

to give him the appearance of being cut nearly in two; as I stirred, he

made a feeble motion to me with his hand, pointing to the rope. Augustus

gave no indication of life whatever, and was bent nearly double across a

splinter of the windlass. Parker spoke to me when he saw me moving,

and asked me if I had not sufficient strength to release him from his

situation, saying that if I would summon up what spirits I could, and

contrive to untie him, we might yet save our lives; but that otherwise

we must all perish. I told him to take courage, and I would endeavor to

free him. Feeling in my pantaloons' pocket, I got hold of my penknife,

and, after several ineffectual attempts, at length succeeded in opening

it. I then, with my left hand, managed to free my right from its

fastenings, and afterward cut the other ropes which held me. Upon

attempting, however, to move from my position, I found that my legs

failed me altogether, and that I could not get up; neither could I

move my right arm in any direction. Upon mentioning this to Parker, he

advised me to lie quiet for a few minutes, holding on to the windlass

with my left hand, so as to allow time for the blood to circulate. Doing

this, the numbness presently began to die away so that I could move

first one of my legs, and then the other, and, shortly afterward I

regained the partial use of my right arm. I now crawled with great

caution toward Parker, without getting on my legs, and soon cut loose

all the lashings about him, when, after a short delay, he also recovered

the partial use of his limbs. We now lost no time in getting loose the

rope from Peters. It had cut a deep gash through the waistband of his

woollen pantaloons, and through two shirts, and made its way into his

groin, from which the blood flowed out copiously as we removed the

cordage. No sooner had we removed it, however, than he spoke, and seemed

to experience instant relief--being able to move with much greater ease

than either Parker or myself--this was no doubt owing to the discharge

of blood.

 

We had little hopes that Augustus would recover, as he evinced no signs

of life; but, upon getting to him, we discovered that he had merely

swooned from the loss of blood, the bandages we had placed around his

wounded arm having been torn off by the water; none of the ropes which

held him to the windlass were drawn sufficiently tight to occasion his

death. Having relieved him from the fastenings, and got him clear of

the broken wood about the windlass, we secured him in a dry place to

windward, with his head somewhat lower than his body, and all three of

us busied ourselves in chafing his limbs. In about half an hour he came

to himself, although it was not until the next morning that he gave

signs of recognizing any of us, or had sufficient strength to speak. By

the time we had thus got clear of our lashings it was quite dark, and it

began to cloud up, so that we were again in the greatest agony lest it

should come on to blow hard, in which event nothing could have saved us

from perishing, exhausted as we were. By good fortune it continued very

moderate during the night, the sea subsiding every minute, which gave

us great hopes of ultimate preservation. A gentle breeze still blew

from the N. W., but the weather was not at all cold. Augustus was lashed

carefully to windward in such a manner as to prevent him from slipping

overboard with the rolls of the vessel, as he was still too weak to

hold on at all. For ourselves there was no such necessity. We sat close

together, supporting each other with the aid of the broken ropes

about the windlass, and devising methods of escape from our frightful

situation. We derived much comfort from taking off our clothes and

wringing the water from them. When we put them on after this, they felt

remarkably warm and pleasant, and served to invigorate us in no little

degree. We helped Augustus off with his, and wrung them for him, when he

experienced the same comfort.

 

Our chief sufferings were now those of hunger and thirst, and when we

looked forward to the means of relief in this respect, our hearts sunk

within us, and we were induced to regret that we had escaped the

less dreadful perils of the sea. We endeavoured, however, to console

ourselves with the hope of being speedily picked up by some vessel

and encouraged each other to bear with fortitude the evils that might

happen.

 

The morning of the fourteenth at length dawned, and the weather still

continued clear and pleasant, with a steady but very light breeze from

the N. W. The sea was now quite smooth, and as, from some cause which we

could not determine, the brig did not lie so much along as she had done

before, the deck was comparatively dry, and we could move about with

freedom. We had now been better than three entire days and nights

without either food or drink, and it became absolutely necessary that we

should make an attempt to get up something from below. As the brig was

completely full of water, we went to this work despondently, and with

but little expectation of being able to obtain anything. We made a kind

of drag by driving some nails which we broke out from the remains of the

companion-hatch into two pieces of wood. Tying these across each other,

and fastening them to the end of a rope, we threw them into the cabin,

and dragged them to and fro, in the faint hope of being thus able to

entangle some article which might be of use to us for food, or which

might at least render us assistance in getting it. We spent the greater

part of the morning in this labour without effect, fishing up nothing

more than a few bedclothes, which were readily caught by the nails.

Indeed, our contrivance was so very clumsy that any greater success was

hardly to be anticipated.

 

We now tried the forecastle, but equally in vain, and were upon the

brink of despair, when Peters proposed that we should fasten a rope to

his body, and let him make an attempt to get up something by diving

into the cabin. This proposition we hailed with all the delight which

reviving hope could inspire. He proceeded immediately to strip off his

clothes with the exception of his pantaloons; and a strong rope was

then carefully fastened around his middle, being brought up over

his shoulders in such a manner that there was no possibility of its

slipping. The undertaking was one of great difficulty and danger; for,

as we could hardly expect to find much, if any, provision in the cabin

itself, it was necessary that the diver, after letting himself down,

should make a turn to the right, and proceed under water a distance of

ten or twelve feet, in a narrow passage, to the storeroom, and return,

without drawing breath.

 

Everything being ready, Peters now descended in the cabin, going down

the companion-ladder until the water reached his chin. He then plunged

in, head first, turning to the right as he plunged, and endeavouring to

make his way to the storeroom. In this first attempt, however, he was

altogether unsuccessful. In less than half a minute after his going down

we felt the rope jerked violently (the signal we had agreed upon when

he desired to be drawn up). We accordingly drew him up instantly, but so

incautiously as to bruise him badly against the ladder. He had brought

nothing with him, and had been unable to penetrate more than a very

little way into the passage, owing to the constant exertions he found it

necessary to make in order to keep himself from floating up against the

deck. Upon getting out he was very much exhausted, and had to rest full

fifteen minutes before he could again venture to descend.

 

The second attempt met with even worse success; for he remained so long

under water without giving the signal, that, becoming alarmed for his

safety, we drew him out without it, and found that he was almost at the

last gasp, having, as he said, repeatedly jerked at the rope without

our feeling it. This was probably owing to a portion of it having become

entangled in the balustrade at the foot of the ladder. This balustrade

was, indeed, so much in the way, that we determined to remove it, if

possible, before proceeding with our design. As we had no means of

getting it away except by main force, we all descended into the water

as far as we could on the ladder, and giving a pull against it with our

united strength, succeeded in breaking it down.

 

The third attempt was equally unsuccessful with the two first, and it

now became evident that nothing could be done in this manner without the

aid of some weight with which the diver might steady himself, and keep

to the floor of the cabin while making his search. For a long time we

looked about in vain for something which might answer this purpose; but

at length, to our great joy, we discovered one of the weather-forechains

so loose that we had not the least difficulty in wrenching it off.

Having fastened this securely to one of his ankles, Peters now made his

fourth descent into the cabin, and this time succeeded in making his way

to the door of the steward's room. To his inexpressible grief, however,

he found it locked, and was obliged to return without effecting an

entrance, as, with the greatest exertion, he could remain under water

not more, at the utmost extent, than a single minute. Our affairs now

looked gloomy indeed, and neither Augustus nor myself could refrain from

bursting into tears, as we thought of the host of difficulties which

encompassed us, and the slight probability which existed of our finally

making an escape. But this weakness was not of long duration. Throwing

ourselves on our knees to God, we implored His aid in the many dangers

which beset us; and arose with renewed hope and vigor to think what

could yet be done by mortal means toward accomplishing our deliverance.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 10

 

SHORTLY afterward an incident occurred which I am induced to look upon

as more intensely productive of emotion, as far more replete with the

extremes first of delight and then of horror, than even any of the

thousand chances which afterward befell me in nine long years, crowded

with events of the most startling and, in many cases, of the most

unconceived and unconceivable character. We were lying on the deck near

the companion-way, and debating the possibility of yet making our way

into the storeroom, when, looking toward Augustus, who lay fronting

myself, I perceived that he had become all at once deadly pale, and that

his lips were quivering in the most singular and unaccountable manner.

Greatly alarmed, I spoke to him, but he made me no reply, and I was

beginning to think that he was suddenly taken ill, when I took notice

of his eyes, which were glaring apparently at some object behind me. I

turned my head, and shall never forget the ecstatic joy which thrilled

through every particle of my frame, when I perceived a large brig

bearing down upon us, and not more than a couple of miles off. I sprung

to my feet as if a musket bullet had suddenly struck me to the heart;

and, stretching out my arms in the direction of the vessel, stood in

this manner, motionless, and unable to articulate a syllable. Peters

and Parker were equally affected, although in different ways. The former

danced about the deck like a madman, uttering the most extravagant

rhodomontades, intermingled with howls and imprecations, while the

latter burst into tears, and continued for many minutes weeping like a

child.

 

The vessel in sight was a large hermaphrodite brig, of a Dutch build,

and painted black, with a tawdry gilt figure-head. She had evidently

seen a good deal of rough weather, and, we supposed, had suffered

much in the gale which had proved so disastrous to ourselves; for her

foretopmast was gone, and some of her starboard bulwarks. When we first

saw her, she was, as I have already said, about two miles off and to

windward, bearing down upon us. The breeze was very gentle, and what

astonished us chiefly was, that she had no other sails set than her

foremast and mainsail, with a flying jib--of course she came down but

slowly, and our impatience amounted nearly to phrensy. The awkward

manner in which she steered, too, was remarked by all of us, even

excited as we were. She yawed about so considerably, that once or twice

we thought it impossible she could see us, or imagined that, having seen

us, and discovered no person on board, she was about to tack and make

off in another direction. Upon each of these occasions we screamed and

shouted at the top of our voices, when the stranger would appear to

change for a moment her intention, and again hold on toward us--this

singular conduct being repeated two or three times, so that at last we

could think of no other manner of accounting for it than by supposing

the helmsman to be in liquor.

 

No person was seen upon her decks until she arrived within about a

quarter of a mile of us. We then saw three seamen, whom by their dress

we took to be Hollanders. Two of these were lying on some old sails near

the forecastle, and the third, who appeared to be looking at us with

great curiosity, was leaning over the starboard bow near the bowsprit.

This last was a stout and tall man, with a very dark skin. He seemed

by his manner to be encouraging us to have patience, nodding to us in

a cheerful although rather odd way, and smiling constantly, so as to

display a set of the most brilliantly white teeth. As his vessel drew

nearer, we saw a red flannel cap which he had on fall from his head into

the water; but of this he took little or no notice, continuing his

odd smiles and gesticulations. I relate these things and circumstances

minutely, and I relate them, it must be understood, precisely as they

_appeared _to us.

 

The brig came on slowly, and now more steadily than before, and--I

cannot speak calmly of this event--our hearts leaped up wildly within

us, and we poured out our whole souls in shouts and thanksgiving to

God for the complete, unexpected, and glorious deliverance that was so

palpably at hand. Of a sudden, and all at once, there came wafted over

the ocean from the strange vessel (which was now close upon us) a

smell, a stench, such as the whole world has no name for--no conception

of--hellish--utterly suffocating--insufferable, inconceivable. I gasped

for breath, and turning to my companions, perceived that they were paler

than marble. But we had now no time left for question or surmise--the

brig was within fifty feet of us, and it seemed to be her intention to

run under our counter, that we might board her without putting out a

boat. We rushed aft, when, suddenly, a wide yaw threw her off full five

or six points from the course she had been running, and, as she passed

under our stern at the distance of about twenty feet, we had a full view

of her decks. Shall I ever forget the triple horror of that spectacle?

Twenty-five or thirty human bodies, among whom were several females, lay

scattered about between the counter and the galley in the last and most

loathsome state of putrefaction. We plainly saw that not a soul lived in

that fated vessel! Yet we could not help shouting to the dead for help!

Yes, long and loudly did we beg, in the agony of the moment, that those

silent and disgusting images would stay for us, would not abandon us to

become like them, would receive us among their goodly company! We were

raving with horror and despair--thoroughly mad through the anguish of

our grievous disappointment.

 

As our first loud yell of terror broke forth, it was replied to by

something, from near the bowsprit of the stranger, so closely resembling

the scream of a human voice that the nicest ear might have been startled

and deceived. At this instant another sudden yaw brought the region of

the forecastle for a moment into view, and we beheld at once the origin

of the sound. We saw the tall stout figure still leaning on the bulwark,

and still nodding his head to and fro, but his face was now turned from

us so that we could not behold it. His arms were extended over the rail,

and the palms of his hands fell outward. His knees were lodged upon

a stout rope, tightly stretched, and reaching from the heel of the

bowsprit to a cathead. On his back, from which a portion of the shirt

had been torn, leaving it bare, there sat a huge sea-gull, busily

gorging itself with the horrible flesh, its bill and talons deep buried,

and its white plumage spattered all over with blood. As the brig moved

farther round so as to bring us close in view, the bird, with much

apparent difficulty, drew out its crimsoned head, and, after eyeing us

for a moment as if stupefied, arose lazily from the body upon which it

had been feasting, and, flying directly above our deck, hovered there

a while with a portion of clotted and liver-like substance in its beak.

The horrid morsel dropped at length with a sullen splash immediately

at the feet of Parker. May God forgive me, but now, for the first time,

there flashed through my mind a thought, a thought which I will not

mention, and I felt myself making a step toward the ensanguined spot.

I looked upward, and the eyes of Augustus met my own with a degree of

intense and eager meaning which immediately brought me to my senses. I

sprang forward quickly, and, with a deep shudder, threw the frightful

thing into the sea.

 

The body from which it had been taken, resting as it did upon the rope,

had been easily swayed to and fro by the exertions of the carnivorous

bird, and it was this motion which had at first impressed us with the

belief of its being alive. As the gull relieved it of its weight,

it swung round and fell partially over, so that the face was fully

discovered. Never, surely, was any object so terribly full of awe! The

eyes were gone, and the whole flesh around the mouth, leaving the teeth

utterly naked. This, then, was the smile which had cheered us on to

hope! this the--but I forbear. The brig, as I have already told, passed

under our stern, and made its way slowly but steadily to leeward. With

her and with her terrible crew went all our gay visions of deliverance

and joy. Deliberately as she went by, we might possibly have found means

of boarding her, had not our sudden disappointment and the appalling

nature of the discovery which accompanied it laid entirely prostrate

every active faculty of mind and body. We had seen and felt, but

we could neither think nor act, until, alas! too late. How much our

intellects had been weakened by this incident may be estimated by the

fact, that when the vessel had proceeded so far that we could perceive

no more than the half of her hull, the proposition was seriously

entertained of attempting to overtake her by swimming!

 

I have, since this period, vainly endeavoured to obtain some clew to the

hideous uncertainty which enveloped the fate of the stranger. Her build

and general appearance, as I have before stated, led us to the belief

that she was a Dutch trader, and the dresses of the crew also sustained

this opinion. We might have easily seen the name upon her stern, and,

indeed, taken other observations, which would have guided us in making

out her character; but the intense excitement of the moment blinded us

to every thing of that nature. From the saffron-like hue of such of the

corpses as were not entirely decayed, we concluded that the whole of her

company had perished by the yellow fever, or some other virulent disease

of the same fearful kind. If such were the case (and I know not what

else to imagine), death, to judge from the positions of the bodies, must

have come upon them in a manner awfully sudden and overwhelming, in a

way totally distinct from that which generally characterizes even

the most deadly pestilences with which mankind are acquainted. It is

possible, indeed, that poison, accidentally introduced into some of

their sea-stores, may have brought about the disaster, or that the

eating of some unknown venomous species of fish, or other marine animal,

or oceanic bird, might have induced it--but it is utterly useless to

form conjectures where all is involved, and will, no doubt, remain for

ever involved, in the most appalling and unfathomable mystery.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 11

 

WE spent the remainder of the day in a condition of stupid lethargy,

gazing after the retreating vessel until the darkness, hiding her from

our sight, recalled us in some measure to our senses. The pangs

of hunger and thirst then returned, absorbing all other cares and

considerations. Nothing, however, could be done until the morning,

and, securing ourselves as well as possible, we endeavoured to snatch

a little repose. In this I succeeded beyond my expectations, sleeping

until my companions, who had not been so fortunate, aroused me at

daybreak to renew our attempts at getting up provisions from the hull.

 

It was now a dead calm, with the sea as smooth as have ever known

it,--the weather warm and pleasant. The brig was out of sight. We

commenced our operations by wrenching off, with some trouble, another of

the forechains; and having fastened both to Peters' feet, he again made

an endeavour to reach the door of the storeroom, thinking it possible

that he might be able to force it open, provided he could get at it

in sufficient time; and this he hoped to do, as the hulk lay much more

steadily than before.

 

He succeeded very quickly in reaching the door, when, loosening one of

the chains from his ankle, he made every exertion to force the passage

with it, but in vain, the framework of the room being far stronger than

was anticipated. He was quite exhausted with his long stay under water,

and it became absolutely necessary that some other one of us should take

his place. For this service Parker immediately volunteered; but, after

making three ineffectual efforts, found that he could never even succeed

in getting near the door. The condition of Augustus's wounded arm

rendered it useless for him to attempt going down, as he would be

unable to force the room open should he reach it, and it accordingly now

devolved upon me to exert myself for our common deliverance.

 

Peters had left one of the chains in the passage, and I found, upon

plunging in, that I had not sufficient balance to keep me firmly down.

I determined, therefore, to attempt no more, in my first effort, than

merely to recover the other chain. In groping along the floor of the

passage for this, I felt a hard substance, which I immediately grasped,

not having time to ascertain what it was, but returning and ascending

instantly to the surface. The prize proved to be a bottle, and our joy

may be conceived when I say that it was found to be full of port

wine. Giving thanks to God for this timely and cheering assistance, we

immediately drew the cork with my penknife, and, each taking a moderate

sup, felt the most indescribable comfort from the warmth, strength,

and spirits with which it inspired us. We then carefully recorked the

bottle, and, by means of a handkerchief, swung it in such a manner that

there was no possibility of its getting broken.

 

Having rested a while after this fortunate discovery, I again descended,

and now recovered the chain, with which I instantly came up. I then

fastened it on and went down for the third time, when I became fully

satisfied that no exertions whatever, in that situation, would enable

me to force open the door of the storeroom. I therefore returned in

despair.

 

There seemed now to be no longer any room for hope, and I could perceive

in the countenances of my companions that they had made up their

minds to perish. The wine had evidently produced in them a species

of delirium, which, perhaps, I had been prevented from feeling by the

immersion I had undergone since drinking it. They talked incoherently,

and about matters unconnected with our condition, Peters repeatedly

asking me questions about Nantucket. Augustus, too, I remember,

approached me with a serious air, and requested me to lend him a

pocket-comb, as his hair was full of fish-scales, and he wished to get

them out before going on shore. Parker appeared somewhat less affected,

and urged me to dive at random into the cabin, and bring up any article

which might come to hand. To this I consented, and, in the first

attempt, after staying under a full minute, brought up a small leather

trunk belonging to Captain Barnard. This was immediately opened in the

faint hope that it might contain something to eat or drink. We found

nothing, however, except a box of razors and two linen shirts. I now

went down again, and returned without any success. As my head came

above water I heard a crash on deck, and, upon getting up, saw that my

companions had ungratefully taken advantage of my absence to drink the

remainder of the wine, having let the bottle fall in the endeavour

to replace it before I saw them. I remonstrated with them on the

heartlessness of their conduct, when Augustus burst into tears. The

other two endeavoured to laugh the matter off as a joke, but I hope

never again to behold laughter of such a species: the distortion of

countenance was absolutely frightful. Indeed, it was apparent that the

stimulus, in the empty state of their stomachs, had taken instant and

violent effect, and that they were all exceedingly intoxicated. With

great difficulty I prevailed upon them to lie down, when they fell very

soon into a heavy slumber, accompanied with loud stertorous breathing.

 

I now found myself, as it were, alone in the brig, and my reflections,

to be sure, were of the most fearful and gloomy nature. No prospect

offered itself to my view but a lingering death by famine, or, at the

best, by being overwhelmed in the first gale which should spring up,

for in our present exhausted condition we could have no hope of living

through another.

 

The gnawing hunger which I now experienced was nearly insupportable, and

I felt myself capable of going to any lengths in order to appease

it. With my knife I cut off a small portion of the leather trunk, and

endeavoured to eat it, but found it utterly impossible to swallow a

single morsel, although I fancied that some little alleviation of my

suffering was obtained by chewing small pieces of it and spitting

them out. Toward night my companions awoke, one by one, each in an

indescribable state of weakness and horror, brought on by the wine,

whose fumes had now evaporated. They shook as if with a violent ague,

and uttered the most lamentable cries for water. Their condition

affected me in the most lively degree, at the same time causing me to

rejoice in the fortunate train of circumstances which had prevented

me from indulging in the wine, and consequently from sharing their

melancholy and most distressing sensations. Their conduct, however,

gave me great uneasiness and alarm; for it was evident that, unless

some favourable change took place, they could afford me no assistance in

providing for our common safety. I had not yet abandoned all idea being

able to get up something from below; but the attempt could not possibly

be resumed until some one of them was sufficiently master of himself to

aid me by holding the end of the rope while I went down. Parker appeared

to be somewhat more in possession of his senses than the others, and I

endeavoured, by every means in my power, to rouse him. Thinking that a

plunge in the sea-water might have a beneficial effect, I contrived to

fasten the end of a rope around his body, and then, leading him to the

companion-way (he remaining quite passive all the while), pushed him in,

and immediately drew him out. I had good reason to congratulate myself

upon having made this experiment; for he appeared much revived and

invigorated, and, upon getting out, asked me, in a rational manner, why

I had so served him. Having explained my object, he expressed himself

indebted to me, and said that he felt greatly better from the immersion,

afterward conversing sensibly upon our situation. We then resolved to

treat Augustus and Peters in the same way, which we immediately did,

when they both experienced much benefit from the shock. This idea of

sudden immersion had been suggested to me by reading in some medical

work the good effect of the shower-bath in a case where the patient was

suffering from _mania a potu_.

 

Finding that I could now trust my companions to hold the end of the

rope, I again made three or four plunges into the cabin, although it was

now quite dark, and a gentle but long swell from the northward rendered

the hulk somewhat unsteady. In the course of these attempts I succeeded

in bringing up two case-knives, a three-gallon jug, empty, and a

blanket, but nothing which could serve us for food. I continued my

efforts, after getting these articles, until I was completely exhausted,

but brought up nothing else. During the night Parker and Peters occupied

themselves by turns in the same manner; but nothing coming to hand, we

now gave up this attempt in despair, concluding that we were exhausting

ourselves in vain.

 

We passed the remainder of this night in a state of the most intense

mental and bodily anguish that can possibly be imagined. The morning of

the sixteenth at length dawned, and we looked eagerly around the horizon

for relief, but to no purpose. The sea was still smooth, with only a

long swell from the northward, as on yesterday. This was the sixth day

since we had tasted either food or drink, with the exception of the

bottle of port wine, and it was clear that we could hold out but a very

little while longer unless something could be obtained. I never saw

before, nor wish to see again, human beings so utterly emaciated as

Peters and Augustus. Had I met them on shore in their present condition

I should not have had the slightest suspicion that I had ever beheld

them. Their countenances were totally changed in character, so that I

could not bring myself to believe them really the same individuals with

whom I had been in company but a few days before. Parker, although sadly

reduced, and so feeble that he could not raise his head from his bosom,

was not so far gone as the other two. He suffered with great patience,

making no complaint, and endeavouring to inspire us with hope in every

manner he could devise. For myself, although at the commencement of

the voyage I had been in bad health, and was at all times of a delicate

constitution, I suffered less than any of us, being much less reduced in

frame, and retaining my powers of mind in a surprising degree, while the

rest were completely prostrated in intellect, and seemed to be

brought to a species of second childhood, generally simpering in

their expressions, with idiotic smiles, and uttering the most absurd

platitudes. At intervals, however, they would appear to revive suddenly,

as if inspired all at once with a consciousness of their condition, when

they would spring upon their feet in a momentary flash of vigour, and

speak, for a short period, of their prospects, in a manner altogether

rational, although full of the most intense despair. It is possible,

however, that my companions may have entertained the same opinion of

their own condition as I did of mine, and that I may have

unwittingly been guilty of the same extravagances and imbecilities as

themselves--this is a matter which cannot be determined.

 

About noon Parker declared that he saw land off the larboard quarter,

and it was with the utmost difficulty I could restrain him from plunging

into the sea with the view of swimming toward it. Peters and Augustus

took little notice of what he said, being apparently wrapped up in moody

contemplation. Upon looking in the direction pointed out, I could not

perceive the faintest appearance of the shore--indeed, I was too well

aware that we were far from any land to indulge in a hope of that

nature. It was a long time, nevertheless, before I could convince Parker

of his mistake. He then burst into a flood of tears, weeping like a

child, with loud cries and sobs, for two or three hours, when becoming

exhausted, he fell asleep.

 

Peters and Augustus now made several ineffectual efforts to swallow

portions of the leather. I advised them to chew it and spit it out; but

they were too excessively debilitated to be able to follow my advice. I

continued to chew pieces of it at intervals, and found some relief from

so doing; my chief distress was for water, and I was only prevented from

taking a draught from the sea by remembering the horrible consequences

which thus have resulted to others who were similarly situated with

ourselves.

 

The day wore on in this manner, when I suddenly discovered a sail to the

eastward, and on our larboard bow. She appeared to be a large ship, and

was coming nearly athwart us, being probably twelve or fifteen miles

distant. None of my companions had as yet discovered her, and I forbore

to tell them of her for the present, lest we might again be disappointed

of relief. At length upon her getting nearer, I saw distinctly that she

was heading immediately for us, with her light sails filled. I could now

contain myself no longer, and pointed her out to my fellow-sufferers.

They immediately sprang to their feet, again indulging in the most

extravagant demonstrations of joy, weeping, laughing in an idiotic

manner, jumping, stamping upon the deck, tearing their hair, and praying

and cursing by turns. I was so affected by their conduct, as well as

by what I considered a sure prospect of deliverance, that I could not

refrain from joining in with their madness, and gave way to the impulses

of my gratitude and ecstasy by lying and rolling on the deck, clapping

my hands, shouting, and other similar acts, until I was suddenly called

to my recollection, and once more to the extreme human misery and

despair, by perceiving the ship all at once with her stern fully

presented toward us, and steering in a direction nearly opposite to that

in which I had at first perceived her.

 

It was some time before I could induce my poor companions to believe

that this sad reverse in our prospects had actually taken place. They

replied to all my assertions with a stare and a gesture implying that

they were not to be deceived by such misrepresentations. The conduct of

Augustus most sensibly affected me. In spite of all I could say or do to

the contrary, he persisted in saying that the ship was rapidly nearing

us, and in making preparations to go on board of her. Some seaweed

floating by the brig, he maintained that it was the ship's boat, and

endeavoured to throw himself upon it, howling and shrieking in the most

heartrending manner, when I forcibly restrained him from thus casting

himself into the sea.

 

Having become in some degree pacified, we continued to watch the ship

until we finally lost sight of her, the weather becoming hazy, with

a light breeze springing up. As soon as she was entirely gone, Parker

turned suddenly toward me with an expression of countenance which made

me shudder. There was about him an air of self-possession which I had

not noticed in him until now, and before he opened his lips my heart

told me what he would say. He proposed, in a few words, that one of us

should die to preserve the existence of the others.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 12

 

I had for some time past, dwelt upon the prospect of our being reduced

to this last horrible extremity, and had secretly made up my mind to

suffer death in any shape or under any circumstances rather than resort

to such a course. Nor was this resolution in any degree weakened by the

present intensity of hunger under which I laboured. The proposition had

not been heard by either Peters or Augustus. I therefore took Parker

aside; and mentally praying to God for power to dissuade him from the

horrible purpose he entertained, I expostulated with him for a long

time, and in the most supplicating manner, begging him in the name of

every thing which he held sacred, and urging him by every species of

argument which the extremity of the case suggested, to abandon the idea,

and not to mention it to either of the other two.

 

He heard all I said without attempting to controvert any of my

arguments, and I had begun to hope that he would be prevailed upon to do

as I desired. But when I had ceased speaking, he said that he knew very

well all I had said was true, and that to resort to such a course was

the most horrible alternative which could enter into the mind of man;

but that he had now held out as long as human nature could be sustained;

that it was unnecessary for all to perish, when, by the death of one,

it was possible, and even probable, that the rest might be finally

preserved; adding that I might save myself the trouble of trying to turn

him from his purpose, his mind having been thoroughly made up on the

subject even before the appearance of the ship, and that only her

heaving in sight had prevented him from mentioning his intention at an

earlier period.

 

I now begged him, if he would not be prevailed upon to abandon his

design, at least to defer it for another day, when some vessel might

come to our relief; again reiterating every argument I could devise, and

which I thought likely to have influence with one of his rough nature.

He said, in reply, that he had not spoken until the very last possible

moment, that he could exist no longer without sustenance of some kind,

and that therefore in another day his suggestion would be too late, as

regarded himself at least.

 

Finding that he was not to be moved by anything I could say in a mild

tone, I now assumed a different demeanor, and told him that he must be

aware I had suffered less than any of us from our calamities; that my

health and strength, consequently, were at that moment far better than

his own, or than that either of Peters or Augustus; in short, that I was

in a condition to have my own way by force if I found it necessary;

and that if he attempted in any manner to acquaint the others with his

bloody and cannibal designs, I would not hesitate to throw him into the

sea. Upon this he immediately seized me by the throat, and drawing a

knife, made several ineffectual efforts to stab me in the stomach;

an atrocity which his excessive debility alone prevented him from

accomplishing. In the meantime, being roused to a high pitch of anger, I

forced him to the vessel's side, with the full intention of throwing him

overboard. He was saved from his fate, however, by the interference of

Peters, who now approached and separated us, asking the cause of the

disturbance. This Parker told before I could find means in any manner to

prevent him.

 

The effect of his words was even more terrible than what I had

anticipated. Both Augustus and Peters, who, it seems, had long secretly

entertained the same fearful idea which Parker had been merely the

first to broach, joined with him in his design and insisted upon its

immediately being carried into effect. I had calculated that one at

least of the two former would be found still possessed of sufficient

strength of mind to side with myself in resisting any attempt to execute

so dreadful a purpose, and, with the aid of either one of them, I had no

fear of being able to prevent its accomplishment. Being disappointed in

this expectation, it became absolutely necessary that I should attend

to my own safety, as a further resistance on my part might possibly be

considered by men in their frightful condition a sufficient excuse

for refusing me fair play in the tragedy that I knew would speedily be

enacted.

 

I now told them I was willing to submit to the proposal, merely

requesting a delay of about one hour, in order that the fog which had

gathered around us might have an opportunity of lifting, when it was

possible that the ship we had seen might be again in sight. After great

difficulty I obtained from them a promise to wait thus long; and, as I

had anticipated (a breeze rapidly coming in), the fog lifted before the

hour had expired, when, no vessel appearing in sight, we prepared to

draw lots.

 

It is with extreme reluctance that I dwell upon the appalling scene

which ensued; a scene which, with its minutest details, no after events

have been able to efface in the slightest degree from my memory,

and whose stern recollection will embitter every future moment of my

existence. Let me run over this portion of my narrative with as much

haste as the nature of the events to be spoken of will permit. The only

method we could devise for the terrific lottery, in which we were to

take each a chance, was that of drawing straws. Small splinters of wood

were made to answer our purpose, and it was agreed that I should be

the holder. I retired to one end of the hulk, while my poor companions

silently took up their station in the other with their backs turned

toward me. The bitterest anxiety which I endured at any period of this

fearful drama was while I occupied myself in the arrangement of the

lots. There are few conditions into which man can possibly fall where he

will not feel a deep interest in the preservation of his existence;

an interest momentarily increasing with the frailness of the tenure by

which that existence may be held. But now that the silent, definite, and

stern nature of the business in which I was engaged (so different from

the tumultuous dangers of the storm or the gradually approaching horrors

of famine) allowed me to reflect on the few chances I had of escaping

the most appalling of deaths--a death for the most appalling of

purposes--every particle of that energy which had so long buoyed me up

departed like feathers before the wind, leaving me a helpless prey to

the most abject and pitiable terror. I could not, at first, even summon

up sufficient strength to tear and fit together the small splinters of

wood, my fingers absolutely refusing their office, and my knees knocking

violently against each other. My mind ran over rapidly a thousand absurd

projects by which to avoid becoming a partner in the awful speculation.

I thought of falling on my knees to my companions, and entreating them

to let me escape this necessity; of suddenly rushing upon them, and,

by putting one of them to death, of rendering the decision by lot

useless--in short, of every thing but of going through with the matter

I had in hand. At last, after wasting a long time in this imbecile

conduct, I was recalled to my senses by the voice of Parker, who urged

me to relieve them at once from the terrible anxiety they were enduring.

Even then I could not bring myself to arrange the splinters upon the

spot, but thought over every species of finesse by which I could trick

some one of my fellow-sufferers to draw the short straw, as it had been

agreed that whoever drew the shortest of four splinters from my hand was

to die for the preservation of the rest. Before any one condemn me for

this apparent heartlessness, let him be placed in a situation precisely

similar to my own.

 

At length delay was no longer possible, and, with a heart almost

bursting from my bosom, I advanced to the region of the forecastle,

where my companions were awaiting me. I held out my hand with the

splinters, and Peters immediately drew. He was free--his, at least, was

not the shortest; and there was now another chance against my escape.

I summoned up all my strength, and passed the lots to Augustus. He also

drew immediately, and he also was free; and now, whether I should live

or die, the chances were no more than precisely even. At this moment

all the fierceness of the tiger possessed my bosom, and I felt toward

my poor fellow-creature, Parker, the most intense, the most diabolical

hatred. But the feeling did not last; and, at length, with a convulsive

shudder and closed eyes, I held out the two remaining splinters toward

him. It was fully five minutes before he could summon resolution to

draw, during which period of heartrending suspense I never once opened

my eyes. Presently one of the two lots was quickly drawn from my hand.

The decision was then over, yet I knew not whether it was for me or

against me. No one spoke, and still I dared not satisfy myself by

looking at the splinter I held. Peters at length took me by the

hand, and I forced myself to look up, when I immediately saw by the

countenance of Parker that I was safe, and that he it was who had been

doomed to suffer. Gasping for breath, I fell senseless to the deck.

 

I recovered from my swoon in time to behold the consummation of the

tragedy in the death of him who had been chiefly instrumental in

bringing it about. He made no resistance whatever, and was stabbed in

the back by Peters, when he fell instantly dead. I must not dwell

upon the fearful repast which immediately ensued. Such things may be

imagined, but words have no power to impress the mind with the exquisite

horror of their reality. Let it suffice to say that, having in some

measure appeased the raging thirst which consumed us by the blood of

the victim, and having by common consent taken off the hands, feet,

and head, throwing them together with the entrails, into the sea, we

devoured the rest of the body, piecemeal, during the four ever memorable

days of the seventeenth, eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth of the

month.

 

On the nineteenth, there coming on a smart shower which lasted fifteen

or twenty minutes, we contrived to catch some water by means of a sheet

which had been fished up from the cabin by our drag just after the gale.

The quantity we took in all did not amount to more than half a gallon;

but even this scanty allowance supplied us with comparative strength and

hope.

 

On the twenty-first we were again reduced to the last necessity. The

weather still remained warm and pleasant, with occasional fogs and light

breezes, most usually from N. to W.

 

On the twenty-second, as we were sitting close huddled together,

gloomily revolving over our lamentable condition, there flashed through

my mind all at once an idea which inspired me with a bright gleam of

hope. I remembered that, when the foremast had been cut away, Peters,

being in the windward chains, passed one of the axes into my hand,

requesting me to put it, if possible, in a place of security, and that

a few minutes before the last heavy sea struck the brig and filled her

I had taken this axe into the forecastle and laid it in one of the

larboard berths. I now thought it possible that, by getting at this

axe, we might cut through the deck over the storeroom, and thus readily

supply ourselves with provisions.

 

When I communicated this object to my companions, they uttered a feeble

shout of joy, and we all proceeded forthwith to the forecastle. The

difficulty of descending here was greater than that of going down in the

cabin, the opening being much smaller, for it will be remembered that

the whole framework about the cabin companion-hatch had been carried

away, whereas the forecastle-way, being a simple hatch of only about

three feet square, had remained uninjured. I did not hesitate, however,

to attempt the descent; and a rope being fastened round my body as

before, I plunged boldly in, feet foremost, made my way quickly to the

berth, and at the first attempt brought up the axe. It was hailed with

the most ecstatic joy and triumph, and the ease with which it had been

obtained was regarded as an omen of our ultimate preservation.

 

We now commenced cutting at the deck with all the energy of rekindled

hope, Peters and myself taking the axe by turns, Augustus's wounded arm

not permitting him to aid us in any degree. As we were still so feeble

as to be scarcely able to stand unsupported, and could consequently work

but a minute or two without resting, it soon became evident that many

long hours would be necessary to accomplish our task--that is, to cut an

opening sufficiently large to admit of a free access to the storeroom.

This consideration, however, did not discourage us; and, working all

night by the light of the moon, we succeeded in effecting our purpose by

daybreak on the morning of the twenty-third.

 

Peters now volunteered to go down; and, having made all arrangements

as before, he descended, and soon returned bringing up with him a small

jar, which, to our great joy, proved to be full of olives. Having

shared these among us, and devoured them with the greatest avidity,

we proceeded to let him down again. This time he succeeded beyond our

utmost expectations, returning instantly with a large ham and a bottle

of Madeira wine. Of the latter we each took a moderate sup, having

learned by experience the pernicious consequences of indulging too

freely. The ham, except about two pounds near the bone, was not in a

condition to be eaten, having been entirely spoiled by the salt water.

The sound part was divided among us. Peters and Augustus, not being able

to restrain their appetite, swallowed theirs upon the instant; but I was

more cautious, and ate but a small portion of mine, dreading the thirst

which I knew would ensue. We now rested a while from our labors, which

had been intolerably severe.

 

By noon, feeling somewhat strengthened and refreshed, we again renewed

our attempt at getting up provisions, Peters and myself going down

alternately, and always with more or less success, until sundown. During

this interval we had the good fortune to bring up, altogether, four

more small jars of olives, another ham, a carboy containing nearly three

gallons of excellent Cape Madeira wine, and, what gave us still more

delight, a small tortoise of the Gallipago breed, several of which had

been taken on board by Captain Barnard, as the _Grampus_ was leaving

port, from the schooner _Mary Pitts_, just returned from a sealing

voyage in the Pacific.

 

In a subsequent portion of this narrative I shall have frequent occasion

to mention this species of tortoise. It is found principally, as most

of my readers may know, in the group of islands called the Gallipagos,

which, indeed, derive their name from the animal--the Spanish word

Gallipago meaning a fresh-water terrapin. From the peculiarity of their

shape and action they have been sometimes called the elephant tortoise.

They are frequently found of an enormous size. I have myself seen

several which would weigh from twelve to fifteen hundred pounds,

although I do not remember that any navigator speaks of having seen them

weighing more than eight hundred. Their appearance is singular, and even

disgusting. Their steps are very slow, measured, and heavy, their bodies

being carried about a foot from the ground. Their neck is long, and

exceedingly slender, from eighteen inches to two feet is a very common

length, and I killed one, where the distance from the shoulder to the

extremity of the head was no less than three feet ten inches. The head

has a striking resemblance to that of a serpent. They can exist without

food for an almost incredible length of time, instances having been

known where they have been thrown into the hold of a vessel and lain

two years without nourishment of any kind--being as fat, and, in every

respect, in as good order at the expiration of the time as when they

were first put in. In one particular these extraordinary animals bear

a resemblance to the dromedary, or camel of the desert. In a bag at the

root of the neck they carry with them a constant supply of water. In

some instances, upon killing them after a full year's deprivation of all

nourishment, as much as three gallons of perfectly sweet and fresh water

have been found in their bags. Their food is chiefly wild parsley and

celery, with purslain, sea-kelp, and prickly pears, upon which latter

vegetable they thrive wonderfully, a great quantity of it being usually

found on the hillsides near the shore wherever the animal itself is

discovered. They are excellent and highly nutritious food, and have,

no doubt, been the means of preserving the lives of thousands of seamen

employed in the whale-fishery and other pursuits in the Pacific.

 

The one which we had the good fortune to bring up from the storeroom was

not of a large size, weighing probably sixty-five or seventy pounds.

It was a female, and in excellent condition, being exceedingly fat, and

having more than a quart of limpid and sweet water in its bag. This

was indeed a treasure; and, falling on our knees with one accord, we

returned fervent thanks to God for so seasonable a relief.

 

We had great difficulty in getting the animal up through the opening, as

its struggles were fierce and its strength prodigious. It was upon the

point of making its escape from Peter's grasp, and slipping back into

the water, when Augustus, throwing a rope with a slipknot around its

throat, held it up in this manner until I jumped into the hole by the

side of Peters, and assisted him in lifting it out.

 

The water we drew carefully from the bag into the jug; which, it will be

remembered, had been brought up before from the cabin. Having done this,

we broke off the neck of a bottle so as to form, with the cork, a kind

of glass, holding not quite half a gill. We then each drank one of these

measures full, and resolved to limit ourselves to this quantity per day

as long as it should hold out.

 

During the last two or three days, the weather having been dry and

pleasant, the bedding we had obtained from the cabin, as well as our

clothing, had become thoroughly dry, so that we passed this night (that

of the twenty-third) in comparative comfort, enjoying a tranquil

repose, after having supped plentifully on olives and ham, with a

small allowance of the wine. Being afraid of losing some of our stores

overboard during the night, in the event of a breeze springing up, we

secured them as well as possible with cordage to the fragments of the

windlass. Our tortoise, which we were anxious to preserve alive as long

as we could, we threw on its back, and otherwise carefully fastened.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 13

 

JULY 24. This morning saw us wonderfully recruited in spirits and

strength. Notwithstanding the perilous situation in which we were still

placed, ignorant of our position, although certainly at a great distance

from land, without more food than would last us for a fortnight even

with great care, almost entirely without water, and floating about at

the mercy of every wind and wave on the merest wreck in the world, still

the infinitely more terrible distresses and dangers from which we had so

lately and so providentially been delivered caused us to regard what

we now endured as but little more than an ordinary evil--so strictly

comparative is either good or ill.

 

At sunrise we were preparing to renew our attempts at getting up

something from the storeroom, when, a smart shower coming on, with some

lightning, we turn our attention to the catching of water by means of

the sheet we had used before for this purpose. We had no other means of

collecting the rain than by holding the sheet spread out with one of the

forechain-plates in the middle of it. The water, thus conducted to the

centre, was drained through into our jug. We had nearly filled it in

this manner, when, a heavy squall coming on from the northward, obliged

us to desist, as the hulk began once more to roll so violently that

we could no longer keep our feet. We now went forward, and, lashing

ourselves securely to the remnant of the windlass as before, awaited the

event with far more calmness than could have been anticipated or would

have been imagined possible under the circumstances. At noon the wind

had freshened into a two-reef breeze, and by night into a stiff gale,

accompanied with a tremendously heavy swell. Experience having taught

us, however, the best method of arranging our lashings, we weathered

this dreary night in tolerable security, although thoroughly drenched at

almost every instant by the sea, and in momentary dread of being washed

off. Fortunately, the weather was so warm as to render the water rather

grateful than otherwise.

 

July 25. This morning the gale had diminished to a mere ten-knot breeze,

and the sea had gone down with it so considerably that we were able to

keep ourselves dry upon the deck. To our great grief, however, we found

that two jars of our olives, as well as the whole of our ham, had been

washed overboard, in spite of the careful manner in which they had been

fastened. We determined not to kill the tortoise as yet, and contented

ourselves for the present with a breakfast on a few of the olives, and

a measure of water each, which latter we mixed half and half, with

wine, finding great relief and strength from the mixture, without the

distressing intoxication which had ensued upon drinking the port. The

sea was still far too rough for the renewal of our efforts at getting up

provision from the storeroom. Several articles, of no importance to us

in our present situation, floated up through the opening during the day,

and were immediately washed overboard. We also now observed that the

hulk lay more along than ever, so that we could not stand an instant

without lashing ourselves. On this account we passed a gloomy and

uncomfortable day. At noon the sun appeared to be nearly vertical, and

we had no doubt that we had been driven down by the long succession of

northward and northwesterly winds into the near vicinity of the equator.

Toward evening we saw several sharks, and were somewhat alarmed by the

audacious manner in which an enormously large one approached us. At one

time, a lurch throwing the deck very far beneath the water, the monster

actually swam in upon us, floundering for some moments just over the

companion-hatch, and striking Peters violently with his tail. A heavy

sea at length hurled him overboard, much to our relief. In moderate

weather we might have easily captured him.

 

July 26. This morning, the wind having greatly abated, and the sea not

being very rough, we determined to renew our exertions in the storeroom.

After a great deal of hard labor during the whole day, we found that

nothing further was to be expected from this quarter, the partitions of

the room having been stove during the night, and its contents swept into

the hold. This discovery, as may be supposed, filled us with despair.

 

July 27. The sea nearly smooth, with a light wind, and still from the

northward and westward. The sun coming out hotly in the afternoon,

we occupied ourselves in drying our clothes. Found great relief from

thirst, and much comfort otherwise, by bathing in the sea; in this,

however, we were forced to use great caution, being afraid of sharks,

several of which were seen swimming around the brig during the day.

 

July 28. Good weather still. The brig now began to lie along so

alarmingly that we feared she would eventually roll bottom up. Prepared

ourselves as well as we could for this emergency, lashing our tortoise,

waterjug, and two remaining jars of olives as far as possible over to

the windward, placing them outside the hull below the main-chains. The

sea very smooth all day, with little or no wind.

 

July 29. A continuance of the same weather. Augustus's wounded arm began

to evince symptoms of mortification. He complained of drowsiness and

excessive thirst, but no acute pain. Nothing could be done for his

relief beyond rubbing his wounds with a little of the vinegar from the

olives, and from this no benefit seemed to be experienced. We did every

thing in our power for his comfort, and trebled his allowance of water.

 

July 30. An excessively hot day, with no wind. An enormous shark kept

close by the hulk during the whole of the forenoon. We made several

unsuccessful attempts to capture him by means of a noose. Augustus much

worse, and evidently sinking as much from want of proper nourishment as

from the effect of his wounds. He constantly prayed to be relieved from

his sufferings, wishing for nothing but death. This evening we ate the

last of our olives, and found the water in our jug so putrid that we

could not swallow it at all without the addition of wine. Determined to

kill our tortoise in the morning.

 

July 31. After a night of excessive anxiety and fatigue, owing to the

position of the hulk, we set about killing and cutting up our tortoise.

He proved to be much smaller than we had supposed, although in good

condition,--the whole meat about him not amounting to more than ten

pounds. With a view of preserving a portion of this as long as possible,

we cut it into fine pieces, and filled with them our three remaining

olive jars and the wine-bottle (all of which had been kept), pouring in

afterward the vinegar from the olives. In this manner we put away about

three pounds of the tortoise, intending not to touch it until we had

consumed the rest. We concluded to restrict ourselves to about four

ounces of the meat per day; the whole would thus last us thirteen days.

A brisk shower, with severe thunder and lightning, came on about dusk,

but lasted so short a time that we only succeeded in catching about

half a pint of water. The whole of this, by common consent, was given

to Augustus, who now appeared to be in the last extremity. He drank the

water from the sheet as we caught it (we holding it above him as he lay

so as to let it run into his mouth), for we had now nothing left capable

of holding water, unless we had chosen to empty out our wine from the

carboy, or the stale water from the jug. Either of these expedients

would have been resorted to had the shower lasted.

 

The sufferer seemed to derive but little benefit from the draught. His

arm was completely black from the wrist to the shoulder, and his feet

were like ice. We expected every moment to see him breathe his last.

He was frightfully emaciated; so much so that, although he weighed a

hundred and twenty-seven pounds upon his leaving Nantucket, he now did

not weigh more than forty or fifty at the farthest. His eyes were sunk

far in his head, being scarcely perceptible, and the skin of his

cheeks hung so loosely as to prevent his masticating any food, or even

swallowing any liquid, without great difficulty.

 

August 1. A continuance of the same calm weather, with an oppressively

hot sun. Suffered exceedingly from thirst, the water in the jug being

absolutely putrid and swarming with vermin. We contrived, nevertheless,

to swallow a portion of it by mixing it with wine; our thirst, however,

was but little abated. We found more relief by bathing in the sea, but

could not avail ourselves of this expedient except at long intervals,

on account of the continual presence of sharks. We now saw clearly that

Augustus could not be saved; that he was evidently dying. We could do

nothing to relieve his sufferings, which appeared to be great. About

twelve o'clock he expired in strong convulsions, and without having

spoken for several hours. His death filled us with the most gloomy

forebodings, and had so great an effect upon our spirits that we sat

motionless by the corpse during the whole day, and never addressed each

other except in a whisper. It was not until some time after dark that

we took courage to get up and throw the body overboard. It was then

loathsome beyond expression, and so far decayed that, as Peters

attempted to lift it, an entire leg came off in his grasp. As the mass

of putrefaction slipped over the vessel's side into the water, the glare

of phosphoric light with which it was surrounded plainly discovered to

us seven or eight large sharks, the clashing of whose horrible teeth, as

their prey was torn to pieces among them, might have been heard at

the distance of a mile. We shrunk within ourselves in the extremity of

horror at the sound.

 

August 2. The same fearfully calm and hot weather. The dawn found us in

a state of pitiable dejection as well as bodily exhaustion. The water

in the jug was now absolutely useless, being a thick gelatinous mass;

nothing but frightful-looking worms mingled with slime. We threw it out,

and washed the jug well in the sea, afterward pouring a little vinegar

in it from our bottles of pickled tortoise. Our thirst could now

scarcely be endured, and we tried in vain to relieve it by wine, which

seemed only to add fuel to the flame, and excited us to a high degree

of intoxication. We afterward endeavoured to relieve our sufferings by

mixing the wine with seawater; but this instantly brought about the most

violent retchings, so that we never again attempted it. During the whole

day we anxiously sought an opportunity of bathing, but to no purpose;

for the hulk was now entirely besieged on all sides with sharks--no

doubt the identical monsters who had devoured our poor companion on the

evening before, and who were in momentary expectation of another similar

feast. This circumstance occasioned us the most bitter regret and

filled us with the most depressing and melancholy forebodings. We had

experienced indescribable relief in bathing, and to have this resource

cut off in so frightful a manner was more than we could bear. Nor,

indeed, were we altogether free from the apprehension of immediate

danger, for the least slip or false movement would have thrown us

at once within reach of those voracious fish, who frequently thrust

themselves directly upon us, swimming up to leeward. No shouts or

exertions on our part seemed to alarm them. Even when one of the largest

was struck with an axe by Peters and much wounded, he persisted in his

attempts to push in where we were. A cloud came up at dusk, but, to our

extreme anguish, passed over without discharging itself. It is quite

impossible to conceive our sufferings from thirst at this period. We

passed a sleepless night, both on this account and through dread of the

sharks.

 

August 3. No prospect of relief, and the brig lying still more and more

along, so that now we could not maintain a footing upon deck at all.

Busied ourselves in securing our wine and tortoise-meat, so that we

might not lose them in the event of our rolling over. Got out two stout

spikes from the forechains, and, by means of the axe, drove them into

the hull to windward within a couple of feet of the water, this not

being very far from the keel, as we were nearly upon our beam-ends. To

these spikes we now lashed our provisions, as being more secure than

their former position beneath the chains. Suffered great agony from

thirst during the whole day--no chance of bathing on account of the

sharks, which never left us for a moment. Found it impossible to sleep.

 

August 4. A little before daybreak we perceived that the hulk was

heeling over, and aroused ourselves to prevent being thrown off by the

movement. At first the roll was slow and gradual, and we contrived to

clamber over to windward very well, having taken the precaution to leave

ropes hanging from the spikes we had driven in for the provision. But

we had not calculated sufficiently upon the acceleration of the impetus;

for, presently the heel became too violent to allow of our keeping pace

with it; and, before either of us knew what was to happen, we found

ourselves hurled furiously into the sea, and struggling several fathoms

beneath the surface, with the huge hull immediately above us.

 

In going under the water I had been obliged to let go my hold upon

the rope; and finding that I was completely beneath the vessel, and

my strength nearly exhausted, I scarcely made a struggle for life,

and resigned myself, in a few seconds, to die. But here again I was

deceived, not having taken into consideration the natural rebound of

the hull to windward. The whirl of the water upward, which the vessel

occasioned in rolling partially back, brought me to the surface still

more violently than I had been plunged beneath. Upon coming up I found

myself about twenty yards from the hulk, as near as I could judge. She

was lying keel up, rocking furiously from side to side, and the sea in

all directions around was much agitated, and full of strong whirlpools.

I could see nothing of Peters. An oil-cask was floating within a few

feet of me, and various other articles from the brig were scattered

about.

 

My principal terror was now on account of the sharks, which I knew to be

in my vicinity. In order to deter these, if possible, from approaching

me, I splashed the water vigorously with both hands and feet as I swam

towards the hulk, creating a body of foam. I have no doubt that to this

expedient, simple as it was, I was indebted for my preservation; for

the sea all round the brig, just before her rolling over, was so crowded

with these monsters, that I must have been, and really was, in actual

contact with some of them during my progress. By great good fortune,

however, I reached the side of the vessel in safety, although so utterly

weakened by the violent exertion I had used that I should never have

been able to get upon it but for the timely assistance of Peters, who,

now, to my great joy, made his appearance (having scrambled up to the

keel from the opposite side of the hull), and threw me the end of a

rope--one of those which had been attached to the spikes.

 

Having barely escaped this danger, our attention was now directed to the

dreadful imminency of another--that of absolute starvation. Our whole

stock of provision had been swept overboard in spite of all our care in

securing it; and seeing no longer the remotest possibility of obtaining

more, we gave way both of us to despair, weeping aloud like children,

and neither of us attempting to offer consolation to the other. Such

weakness can scarcely be conceived, and to those who have never been

similarly situated will, no doubt, appear unnatural; but it must be

remembered that our intellects were so entirely disordered by the long

course of privation and terror to which we had been subjected, that we

could not justly be considered, at that period, in the light of rational

beings. In subsequent perils, nearly as great, if not greater, I bore

up with fortitude against all the evils of my situation, and Peters, it

will be seen, evinced a stoical philosophy nearly as incredible as his

present childlike supineness and imbecility--the mental condition made

the difference.

 

The overturning of the brig, even with the consequent loss of the

wine and turtle, would not, in fact, have rendered our situation more

deplorable than before, except for the disappearance of the bedclothes

by which we had been hitherto enabled to catch rainwater, and of the jug

in which we had kept it when caught; for we found the whole bottom, from

within two or three feet of the bends as far as the keel, together with

the keel itself, thickly covered with large barnacles, which proved

to be excellent and highly nutritious food. Thus, in two important

respects, the accident we had so greatly dreaded proved to be a benefit

rather than an injury; it had opened to us a supply of provisions which

we could not have exhausted, using it moderately, in a month; and it had

greatly contributed to our comfort as regards position, we being much

more at ease, and in infinitely less danger, than before.

 

The difficulty, however, of now obtaining water blinded us to all the

benefits of the change in our condition. That we might be ready to avail

ourselves, as far as possible, of any shower which might fall we took

off our shirts, to make use of them as we had of the sheets--not hoping,

of course, to get more in this way, even under the most favorable

circumstances, than half a gill at a time. No signs of a cloud appeared

during the day, and the agonies of our thirst were nearly intolerable.

At night, Peters obtained about an hour's disturbed sleep, but my

intense sufferings would not permit me to close my eyes for a single

moment.

 

August 5. To-day, a gentle breeze springing up carried us through a vast

quantity of seaweed, among which we were so fortunate as to find eleven

small crabs, which afforded us several delicious meals. Their shells

being quite soft, we ate them entire, and found that they irritated our

thirst far less than the barnacles. Seeing no trace of sharks among the

seaweed, we also ventured to bathe, and remained in the water for four

or five hours, during which we experienced a very sensible diminution

of our thirst. Were greatly refreshed, and spent the night somewhat more

comfortably than before, both of us snatching a little sleep.

 

August 6. This day we were blessed by a brisk and continual rain,

lasting from about noon until after dark. Bitterly did we now regret the

loss of our jug and carboy; for, in spite of the little means we had of

catching the water, we might have filled one, if not both of them. As

it was, we contrived to satisfy the cravings of thirst by suffering

the shirts to become saturated, and then wringing them so as to let the

grateful fluid trickle into our mouths. In this occupation we passed the

entire day.

 

August 7. Just at daybreak we both at the same instant descried a

sail to the eastward, and _evidently coming towards us!_ We hailed the

glorious sight with a long, although feeble shout of rapture; and began

instantly to make every signal in our power, by flaring the shirts in

the air, leaping as high as our weak condition would permit, and even by

hallooing with all the strength of our lungs, although the vessel

could not have been less than fifteen miles distant. However, she

still continued to near our hulk, and we felt that, if she but held her

present course, she must eventually come so close as to perceive us. In

about an hour after we first discovered her, we could clearly see the

people on her decks. She was a long, low, and rakish-looking topsail

schooner, with a black ball in her foretopsail, and had, apparently,

a full crew. We now became alarmed, for we could hardly imagine it

possible that she did not observe us, and were apprehensive that she

meant to leave us to perish as we were--an act of fiendish barbarity,

which, however incredible it may appear, has been repeatedly perpetuated

at sea, under circumstances very nearly similar, and by beings who

were regarded as belonging to the human species. {*2} In this instance,

however, by the mercy of God, we were destined to be most happily

deceived; for, presently we were aware of a sudden commotion on the deck

of the stranger, who immediately afterward ran up a British flag, and,

hauling her wind, bore up directly upon us. In half an hour more

we found ourselves in her cabin. She proved to be the Jane Guy, of

Liverpool, Captain Guy, bound on a sealing and trading voyage to the

South Seas and Pacific.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 14

 

THE _Jane Guy_ was a fine-looking topsail schooner of a hundred and

eighty tons burden. She was unusually sharp in the bows, and on a wind,

in moderate weather, the fastest sailer I have ever seen. Her qualities,

however, as a rough sea-boat, were not so good, and her draught of water

was by far too great for the trade to which she was destined. For this

peculiar service, a larger vessel, and one of a light proportionate

draught, is desirable--say a vessel of from three hundred to three

hundred and fifty tons. She should be bark-rigged, and in other respects

of a different construction from the usual South Sea ships. It is

absolutely necessary that she should be well armed. She should have, say

ten or twelve twelve-pound carronades, and two or three long twelves,

with brass blunderbusses, and water-tight arm-chests for each top. Her

anchors and cables should be of far greater strength than is required

for any other species of trade, and, above all, her crew should be

numerous and efficient--not less, for such a vessel as I have described,

than fifty or sixty able-bodied men. The Jane Guy had a crew of

thirty-five, all able seamen, besides the captain and mate, but she

was not altogether as well armed or otherwise equipped, as a navigator

acquainted with the difficulties and dangers of the trade could have

desired.

 

Captain Guy was a gentleman of great urbanity of manner, and of

considerable experience in the southern traffic, to which he had devoted

a great portion of his life. He was deficient, however, in energy, and,

consequently, in that spirit of enterprise which is here so absolutely

requisite. He was part owner of the vessel in which he sailed, and was

invested with discretionary powers to cruise in the South Seas for any

cargo which might come most readily to hand. He had on board, as usual

in such voyages, beads, looking-glasses, tinder-works, axes, hatchets,

saws, adzes, planes, chisels, gouges, gimlets, files, spokeshaves,

rasps, hammers, nails, knives, scissors, razors, needles, thread,

crockery-ware, calico, trinkets, and other similar articles.

 

The schooner sailed from Liverpool on the tenth of July, crossed the

Tropic of Cancer on the twenty-fifth, in longitude twenty degrees west,

and reached Sal, one of the Cape Verd islands, on the twenty-ninth,

where she took in salt and other necessaries for the voyage. On

the third of August, she left the Cape Verds and steered southwest,

stretching over toward the coast of Brazil, so as to cross the equator

between the meridians of twenty-eight and thirty degrees west longitude.

This is the course usually taken by vessels bound from Europe to the

Cape of Good Hope, or by that route to the East Indies. By proceeding

thus they avoid the calms and strong contrary currents which continually

prevail on the coast of Guinea, while, in the end, it is found to be the

shortest track, as westerly winds are never wanting afterward by which

to reach the Cape. It was Captain Guy's intention to make his first

stoppage at Kerguelen's Land--I hardly know for what reason. On the

day we were picked up the schooner was off Cape St. Roque, in longitude

thirty-one degrees west; so that, when found, we had drifted probably,

from north to south, _not less than five-and-twenty degrees!_

 

On board the Jane Guy we were treated with all the kindness our

distressed situation demanded. In about a fortnight, during which time

we continued steering to the southeast, with gentle breezes and fine

weather, both Peters and myself recovered entirely from the effects of

our late privation and dreadful sufferings, and we began to remember

what had passed rather as a frightful dream from which we had been

happily awakened, than as events which had taken place in sober and

naked reality. I have since found that this species of partial oblivion

is usually brought about by sudden transition, whether from joy

to sorrow or from sorrow to joy--the degree of forgetfulness being

proportioned to the degree of difference in the exchange. Thus, in my

own case, I now feel it impossible to realize the full extent of

the misery which I endured during the days spent upon the hulk. The

incidents are remembered, but not the feelings which the incidents

elicited at the time of their occurrence. I only know, that when they

did occur, I then thought human nature could sustain nothing more of

agony.

 

We continued our voyage for some weeks without any incidents of

greater moment than the occasional meeting with whaling-ships, and more

frequently with the black or right whale, so called in contradistinction

to the spermaceti. These, however, were chiefly found south of the

twenty-fifth parallel. On the sixteenth of September, being in the

vicinity of the Cape of Good Hope, the schooner encountered her first

gale of any violence since leaving Liverpool. In this neighborhood, but

more frequently to the south and east of the promontory (we were to

the westward), navigators have often to contend with storms from the

northward, which rage with great fury. They always bring with them a

heavy sea, and one of their most dangerous features is the instantaneous

chopping round of the wind, an occurrence almost certain to take place

during the greatest force of the gale. A perfect hurricane will be

blowing at one moment from the northward or northeast, and in the next

not a breath of wind will be felt in that direction, while from

the southwest it will come out all at once with a violence almost

inconceivable. A bright spot to the southward is the sure forerunner of

the change, and vessels are thus enabled to take the proper precautions.

 

It was about six in the morning when the blow came on with a white

squall, and, as usual, from the northward. By eight it had increased

very much, and brought down upon us one of the most tremendous seas I

had then ever beheld. Every thing had been made as snug as possible,

but the schooner laboured excessively, and gave evidence of her bad

qualities as a seaboat, pitching her forecastle under at every plunge

and with the greatest difficulty struggling up from one wave before she

was buried in another. Just before sunset the bright spot for which we

had been on the look-out made its appearance in the southwest, and in

an hour afterward we perceived the little headsail we carried flapping

listlessly against the mast. In two minutes more, in spite of every

preparation, we were hurled on our beam-ends, as if by magic, and a

perfect wilderness of foam made a clear breach over us as we lay. The

blow from the southwest, however, luckily proved to be nothing more than

a squall, and we had the good fortune to right the vessel without the

loss of a spar. A heavy cross sea gave us great trouble for a few hours

after this, but toward morning we found ourselves in nearly as good

condition as before the gale. Captain Guy considered that he had made an

escape little less than miraculous.

 

On the thirteenth of October we came in sight of Prince Edward's Island,

in latitude 46 degrees 53' S., longitude 37 degrees 46' E. Two days

afterward we found ourselves near Possession Island, and presently

passed the islands of Crozet, in latitude 42 degrees 59' S., longitude

48 degrees E. On the eighteenth we made Kerguelen's or Desolation

Island, in the Southern Indian Ocean, and came to anchor in Christmas

Harbour, having four fathoms of water.

 

This island, or rather group of islands, bears southeast from the Cape

of Good Hope, and is distant therefrom nearly eight hundred leagues. It

was first discovered in 1772, by the Baron de Kergulen, or Kerguelen,

a Frenchman, who, thinking the land to form a portion of an extensive

southern continent carried home information to that effect, which

produced much excitement at the time. The government, taking the matter

up, sent the baron back in the following year for the purpose of

giving his new discovery a critical examination, when the mistake was

discovered. In 1777, Captain Cook fell in with the same group, and gave

to the principal one the name of Desolation Island, a title which

it certainly well deserves. Upon approaching the land, however, the

navigator might be induced to suppose otherwise, as the sides of most

of the hills, from September to March, are clothed with very brilliant

verdure. This deceitful appearance is caused by a small plant resembling

saxifrage, which is abundant, growing in large patches on a species

of crumbling moss. Besides this plant there is scarcely a sign of

vegetation on the island, if we except some coarse rank grass near the

harbor, some lichen, and a shrub which bears resemblance to a cabbage

shooting into seed, and which has a bitter and acrid taste.

 

The face of the country is hilly, although none of the hills can be

called lofty. Their tops are perpetually covered with snow. There are

several harbors, of which Christmas Harbour is the most convenient. It

is the first to be met with on the northeast side of the island after

passing Cape Francois, which forms the northern shore, and, by its

peculiar shape, serves to distinguish the harbour. Its projecting point

terminates in a high rock, through which is a large hole, forming a

natural arch. The entrance is in latitude 48 degrees 40' S., longitude

69 degrees 6' E. Passing in here, good anchorage may be found under the

shelter of several small islands, which form a sufficient protection

from all easterly winds. Proceeding on eastwardly from this anchorage

you come to Wasp Bay, at the head of the harbour. This is a small basin,

completely landlocked, into which you can go with four fathoms, and find

anchorage in from ten to three, hard clay bottom. A ship might lie

here with her best bower ahead all the year round without risk. To the

westward, at the head of Wasp Bay, is a small stream of excellent water,

easily procured.

 

Some seal of the fur and hair species are still to be found on

Kerguelen's Island, and sea elephants abound. The feathered tribes are

discovered in great numbers. Penguins are very plenty, and of these

there are four different kinds. The royal penguin, so called from its

size and beautiful plumage, is the largest. The upper part of the body

is usually gray, sometimes of a lilac tint; the under portion of the

purest white imaginable. The head is of a glossy and most brilliant

black, the feet also. The chief beauty of plumage, however, consists in

two broad stripes of a gold color, which pass along from the head to the

breast. The bill is long, and either pink or bright scarlet. These birds

walk erect; with a stately carriage. They carry their heads high with

their wings drooping like two arms, and, as their tails project from

their body in a line with the legs, the resemblance to a human figure

is very striking, and would be apt to deceive the spectator at a casual

glance or in the gloom of the evening. The royal penguins which we met

with on Kerguelen's Land were rather larger than a goose. The other

kinds are the macaroni, the jackass, and the rookery penguin. These

are much smaller, less beautiful in plumage, and different in other

respects.

 

Besides the penguin many other birds are here to be found, among which

may be mentioned sea-hens, blue peterels, teal, ducks, Port Egmont hens,

shags, Cape pigeons, the nelly, sea swallows, terns, sea gulls, Mother

Carey's chickens, Mother Carey's geese, or the great peterel, and,

lastly, the albatross.

 

The great peterel is as large as the common albatross, and is

carnivorous. It is frequently called the break-bones, or osprey peterel.

They are not at all shy, and, when properly cooked, are palatable food.

In flying they sometimes sail very close to the surface of the water,

with the wings expanded, without appearing to move them in the least

degree, or make any exertion with them whatever.

 

The albatross is one of the largest and fiercest of the South Sea birds.

It is of the gull species, and takes its prey on the wing, never coming

on land except for the purpose of breeding. Between this bird and the

penguin the most singular friendship exists. Their nests are

constructed with great uniformity upon a plan concerted between the two

species--that of the albatross being placed in the centre of a little

square formed by the nests of four penguins. Navigators have agreed in

calling an assemblage of such encampments a rookery. These rookeries

have been often described, but as my readers may not all have seen these

descriptions, and as I shall have occasion hereafter to speak of the

penguin and albatross, it will not be amiss to say something here of

their mode of building and living.

 

When the season for incubation arrives, the birds assemble in vast

numbers, and for some days appear to be deliberating upon the proper

course to be pursued. At length they proceed to action. A level piece of

ground is selected, of suitable extent, usually comprising three or four

acres, and situated as near the sea as possible, being still beyond its

reach. The spot is chosen with reference to its evenness of surface, and

that is preferred which is the least encumbered with stones. This

matter being arranged, the birds proceed, with one accord, and actuated

apparently by one mind, to trace out, with mathematical accuracy, either

a square or other parallelogram, as may best suit the nature of the

ground, and of just sufficient size to accommodate easily all the birds

assembled, and no more--in this particular seeming determined upon

preventing the access of future stragglers who have not participated in

the labor of the encampment. One side of the place thus marked out runs

parallel with the water's edge, and is left open for ingress or egress.

 

Having defined the limits of the rookery, the colony now begin to clear

it of every species of rubbish, picking up stone by stone, and carrying

them outside of the lines, and close by them, so as to form a wall on

the three inland sides. Just within this wall a perfectly level and

smooth walk is formed, from six to eight feet wide, and extending around

the encampment--thus serving the purpose of a general promenade.

 

The next process is to partition out the whole area into small squares

exactly equal in size. This is done by forming narrow paths, very

smooth, and crossing each other at right angles throughout the entire

extent of the rookery. At each intersection of these paths the nest of

an albatross is constructed, and a penguin's nest in the centre of each

square--thus every penguin is surrounded by four albatrosses, and each

albatross by a like number of penguins. The penguin's nest consists of a

hole in the earth, very shallow, being only just of sufficient depth to

keep her single egg from rolling. The albatross is somewhat less simple

in her arrangements, erecting a hillock about a foot high and two in

diameter. This is made of earth, seaweed, and shells. On its summit she

builds her nest.

 

The birds take especial care never to leave their nests unoccupied for

an instant during the period of incubation, or, indeed, until the young

progeny are sufficiently strong to take care of themselves. While the

male is absent at sea in search of food, the female remains on duty, and

it is only upon the return of her partner that she ventures abroad. The

eggs are never left uncovered at all--while one bird leaves the nest the

other nestling in by its side. This precaution is rendered necessary

by the thieving propensities prevalent in the rookery, the inhabitants

making no scruple to purloin each other's eggs at every good

opportunity.

 

Although there are some rookeries in which the penguin and albatross are

the sole population, yet in most of them a variety of oceanic birds

are to be met with, enjoying all the privileges of citizenship, and

scattering their nests here and there, wherever they can find room,

never interfering, however, with the stations of the larger species.

The appearance of such encampments, when seen from a distance, is

exceedingly singular. The whole atmosphere just above the settlement

is darkened with the immense number of the albatross (mingled with the

smaller tribes) which are continually hovering over it, either going to

the ocean or returning home. At the same time a crowd of penguins are

to be observed, some passing to and fro in the narrow alleys, and some

marching with the military strut so peculiar to them, around the general

promenade ground which encircles the rookery. In short, survey it as

we will, nothing can be more astonishing than the spirit of reflection

evinced by these feathered beings, and nothing surely can be better

calculated to elicit reflection in every well-regulated human intellect.

 

On the morning after our arrival in Christmas Harbour the chief mate,

Mr. Patterson, took the boats, and (although it was somewhat early in

the season) went in search of seal, leaving the captain and a young

relation of his on a point of barren land to the westward, they having

some business, whose nature I could not ascertain, to transact in the

interior of the island. Captain Guy took with him a bottle, in which was

a sealed letter, and made his way from the point on which he was set on

shore toward one of the highest peaks in the place. It is probable that

his design was to leave the letter on that height for some vessel

which he expected to come after him. As soon as we lost sight of him

we proceeded (Peters and myself being in the mate's boat) on our cruise

around the coast, looking for seal. In this business we were occupied

about three weeks, examining with great care every nook and corner,

not only of Kerguelen's Land, but of the several small islands in the

vicinity. Our labours, however, were not crowned with any important

success. We saw a great many fur seal, but they were exceedingly shy,

and with the greatest exertions, we could only procure three hundred

and fifty skins in all. Sea elephants were abundant, especially on the

western coast of the mainland, but of these we killed only twenty, and

this with great difficulty. On the smaller islands we discovered a

good many of the hair seal, but did not molest them. We returned to the

schooner: on the eleventh, where we found Captain Guy and his nephew,

who gave a very bad account of the interior, representing it as one

of the most dreary and utterly barren countries in the world. They had

remained two nights on the island, owing to some misunderstanding, on

the part of the second mate, in regard to the sending a jollyboat from

the schooner to take them off.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 15

 

ON the twelfth we made sail from Christmas Harbour retracing our way to

the westward, and leaving Marion's Island, one of Crozet's group, on the

larboard. We afterward passed Prince Edward's Island, leaving it also on

our left, then, steering more to the northward, made, in fifteen days,

the islands of Tristan d'Acunha, in latitude 37 degrees 8' S, longitude

12 degrees 8' W.

 

This group, now so well known, and which consists of three circular

islands, was first discovered by the Portuguese, and was visited

afterward by the Dutch in 1643, and by the French in 1767. The three

islands together form a triangle, and are distant from each other about

ten miles, there being fine open passages between. The land in all of

them is very high, especially in Tristan d'Acunha, properly so called.

This is the largest of the group, being fifteen miles in circumference,

and so elevated that it can be seen in clear weather at the distance of

eighty or ninety miles. A part of the land toward the north rises more

than a thousand feet perpendicularly from the sea. A tableland at this

height extends back nearly to the centre of the island, and from this

tableland arises a lofty cone like that of Teneriffe. The lower half of

this cone is clothed with trees of good size, but the upper region is

barren rock, usually hidden among the clouds, and covered with snow

during the greater part of the year. There are no shoals or other

dangers about the island, the shores being remarkably bold and the water

deep. On the northwestern coast is a bay, with a beach of black sand

where a landing with boats can be easily effected, provided there be a

southerly wind. Plenty of excellent water may here be readily procured;

also cod and other fish may be taken with hook and line.

 

The next island in point of size, and the most westwardly of the group,

is that called the Inaccessible. Its precise situation is 37 degrees 17'

S. latitude, longitude 12 degrees 24' W. It is seven or eight miles in

circumference, and on all sides presents a forbidding and precipitous

aspect. Its top is perfectly flat, and the whole region is sterile,

nothing growing upon it except a few stunted shrubs.

 

Nightingale Island, the smallest and most southerly, is in latitude 37

degrees 26' S., longitude 12 degrees 12' W. Off its southern extremity

is a high ledge of rocky islets; a few also of a similar appearance are

seen to the northeast. The ground is irregular and sterile, and a deep

valley partially separates it.

 

The shores of these islands abound, in the proper season, with sea

lions, sea elephants, the hair and fur seal, together with a great

variety of oceanic birds. Whales are also plenty in their vicinity.

Owing to the ease with which these various animals were here formerly

taken, the group has been much visited since its discovery. The Dutch

and French frequented it at a very early period. In 1790, Captain

Patten, of the ship Industry, of Philadelphia, made Tristan d'Acunha,

where he remained seven months (from August, 1790, to April, 1791) for

the purpose of collecting sealskins. In this time he gathered no less

than five thousand six hundred, and says that he would have had no

difficulty in loading a large ship with oil in three weeks. Upon his

arrival he found no quadrupeds, with the exception of a few wild goats;

the island now abounds with all our most valuable domestic animals,

which have been introduced by subsequent navigators.

 

I believe it was not long after Captain Patten's visit that Captain

Colquhoun, of the American brig Betsey, touched at the largest of the

islands for the purpose of refreshment. He planted onions, potatoes,

cabbages, and a great many other vegetables, an abundance of all which

is now to be met with.

 

In 1811, a Captain Haywood, in the Nereus, visited Tristan. He found

there three Americans, who were residing upon the island to prepare

sealskins and oil. One of these men was named Jonathan Lambert, and

he called himself the sovereign of the country. He had cleared and

cultivated about sixty acres of land, and turned his attention to

raising the coffee-plant and sugar-cane, with which he had been

furnished by the American Minister at Rio Janeiro. This settlement,

however, was finally abandoned, and in 1817 the islands were taken

possession of by the British Government, who sent a detachment for that

purpose from the Cape of Good Hope. They did not, however, retain them

long; but, upon the evacuation of the country as a British possession,

two or three English families took up their residence there

independently of the Government. On the twenty-fifth of March, 1824, the

Berwick, Captain Jeffrey, from London to Van Diemen's Land, arrived at

the place, where they found an Englishman of the name of Glass, formerly

a corporal in the British artillery. He claimed to be supreme governor

of the islands, and had under his control twenty-one men and three

women. He gave a very favourable account of the salubrity of the

climate and of the productiveness of the soil. The population occupied

themselves chiefly in collecting sealskins and sea elephant oil,

with which they traded to the Cape of Good Hope, Glass owning a

small schooner. At the period of our arrival the governor was still a

resident, but his little community had multiplied, there being

fifty-six persons upon Tristan, besides a smaller settlement of seven on

Nightingale Island. We had no difficulty in procuring almost every

kind of refreshment which we required--sheep, hogs, bullocks, rabbits,

poultry, goats, fish in great variety, and vegetables were abundant.

Having come to anchor close in with the large island, in eighteen

fathoms, we took all we wanted on board very conveniently. Captain

Guy also purchased of Glass five hundred sealskins and some ivory. We

remained here a week, during which the prevailing winds were from the

northward and westward, and the weather somewhat hazy. On the fifth of

November we made sail to the southward and westward, with the intention

of having a thorough search for a group of islands called the Auroras,

respecting whose existence a great diversity of opinion has existed.

 

These islands are said to have been discovered as early as 1762, by the

commander of the ship Aurora. In 1790, Captain Manuel de Oyarvido,, in

the ship Princess, belonging to the Royal Philippine Company, sailed, as

he asserts, directly among them. In 1794, the Spanish corvette Atrevida

went with the determination of ascertaining their precise situation,

and, in a paper published by the Royal Hydrographical Society of

Madrid in the year 1809, the following language is used respecting

this expedition: "The corvette Atrevida practised, in their immediate

vicinity, from the twenty-first to the twenty-seventh of January, all

the necessary observations, and measured by chronometers the difference

of longitude between these islands and the port of Soledad in the

Manillas. The islands are three, they are very nearly in the same

meridian; the centre one is rather low, and the other two may be seen

at nine leagues' distance." The observations made on board the Atrevida

give the following results as the precise situation of each island.

The most northern is in latitude 52 degrees 37' 24" S., longitude 47

degrees, 43' 15" W.; the middle one in latitude 53 degrees 2' 40" S.,

longitude 47 degrees 55' 15" W.; and the most southern in latitude 53

degrees 15' 22" S., longitude 47 degrees 57' 15" W.

 

On the twenty-seventh of January, 1820, Captain James Weddel, of the

British navy, sailed from Staten Land also in search of the Auroras. He

reports that, having made the most diligent search and passed not only

immediately over the spots indicated by the commander of the Atrevida,

but in every direction throughout the vicinity of these spots, he

could discover no indication of land. These conflicting statements have

induced other navigators to look out for the islands; and, strange to

say, while some have sailed through every inch of sea where they are

supposed to lie without finding them, there have been not a few who

declare positively that they have seen them; and even been close in

with their shores. It was Captain Guy's intention to make every exertion

within his power to settle the question so oddly in dispute. {*3}

 

We kept on our course, between the south and west, with variable

weather, until the twentieth of the month, when we found ourselves on

the debated ground, being in latitude 53 degrees 15' S., longitude 47

degrees 58' W.--that is to say, very nearly upon the spot indicated as

the situation of the most southern of the group. Not perceiving any sign

of land, we continued to the westward of the parallel of fifty-three

degrees south, as far as the meridian of fifty degrees west. We then

stood to the north as far as the parallel of fifty-two degrees south,

when we turned to the eastward, and kept our parallel by double

altitudes, morning and evening, and meridian altitudes of the planets

and moon. Having thus gone eastwardly to the meridian of the western

coast of Georgia, we kept that meridian until we were in the latitude

from which we set out. We then took diagonal courses throughout the

entire extent of sea circumscribed, keeping a lookout constantly at the

masthead, and repeating our examination with the greatest care for a

period of three weeks, during which the weather was remarkably pleasant

and fair, with no haze whatsoever. Of course we were thoroughly

satisfied that, whatever islands might have existed in this vicinity at

any former period, no vestige of them remained at the present day. Since

my return home I find that the same ground was traced over, with equal

care, in 1822, by Captain Johnson, of the American schooner Henry, and

by Captain Morrell in the American schooner Wasp--in both cases with the

same result as in our own.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 16

 

It had been Captain Guy's original intention, after satisfying himself

about the Auroras, to proceed through the Strait of Magellan, and

up along the western coast of Patagonia; but information received at

Tristan d'Acunha induced him to steer to the southward, in the hope of

falling in with some small islands said to lie about the parallel of

60 degrees S., longitude 41 degrees 20' W. In the event of his

not discovering these lands, he designed, should the season prove

favourable, to push on toward the pole. Accordingly, on the twelfth of

December, we made sail in that direction. On the eighteenth we found

ourselves about the station indicated by Glass, and cruised for three

days in that neighborhood without finding any traces of the islands

he had mentioned. On the twenty-first, the weather being unusually

pleasant, we again made sail to the southward, with the resolution of

penetrating in that course as far as possible. Before entering upon this

portion of my narrative, it may be as well, for the information of those

readers who have paid little attention to the progress of discovery in

these regions, to give some brief account of the very few attempts at

reaching the southern pole which have hitherto been made.

 

That of Captain Cook was the first of which we have any distinct

account. In 1772 he sailed to the south in the Resolution, accompanied

by Lieutenant Furneaux in the Adventure. In December he found himself as

far as the fifty-eighth parallel of south latitude, and in longitude 26

degrees 57' E. Here he met with narrow fields of ice, about eight or ten

inches thick, and running northwest and southeast. This ice was in large

cakes, and usually it was packed so closely that the vessel had great

difficulty in forcing a passage. At this period Captain Cook supposed,

from the vast number of birds to be seen, and from other indications,

that he was in the near vicinity of land. He kept on to the southward,

the weather being exceedingly cold, until he reached the sixty-fourth

parallel, in longitude 38 degrees 14' E.. Here he had mild weather, with

gentle breezes, for five days, the thermometer being at thirty-six. In

January, 1773, the vessels crossed the Antarctic circle, but did not

succeed in penetrating much farther; for upon reaching latitude 67

degrees 15' they found all farther progress impeded by an immense body

of ice, extending all along the southern horizon as far as the eye could

reach. This ice was of every variety--and some large floes of it, miles

in extent, formed a compact mass, rising eighteen or twenty feet above

the water. It being late in the season, and no hope entertained of

rounding these obstructions, Captain Cook now reluctantly turned to the

northward.

 

In the November following he renewed his search in the Antarctic. In

latitude 59 degrees 40' he met with a strong current setting to the

southward. In December, when the vessels were in latitude 67 degrees

31', longitude 142 degrees 54' W., the cold was excessive, with heavy

gales and fog. Here also birds were abundant; the albatross, the