Part 6 out of 10
that brief space, that our answer was noted. I tacked immediately;
and, taking in the fore-sail, stood on the directed course. We had all
foreseen a change in the weather, and probably a thunder-squall. So
far from its giving Marble any uneasiness, he anticipated the blow
with pleasure, as he intended to lay the Crisis aboard in its
height. He fancied that success would then be the most certain. His
whole concern was at not being able to find the ship in the darkness;
and it was to obviate this difficulty that he undertook to pilot us up
to her in the manner I have just mentioned.
After getting round, a sharp look-out was kept for the light. We
caught another view of it, directly on our weather-beam. From this we
inferred that the ship had more wind than we felt; inasmuch as she had
materially altered her position, while we had not moved a mile since
we tacked. This was on the supposition that Marble would endeavour to
follow the movements of the ship. At ten, the tempest broke upon us
with tropical violence, and with a suddenness that took everybody by
surprise. A squall had been expected; but no one anticipated its
approach for several hours; and we had all looked for the return of
the whale-boat, ere that moment should come. But, come it did, when
least expected; the first puff throwing our little schooner down, in a
way to convince us the elements were in earnest. In fifteen minutes
after the first blast was felt, I had the schooner, under a reefed
foresail, and with that short canvass, there were instants, as she
struggled up to the summit of the waves, that it seemed as if she were
about to fly out of the water. My great concern, however, was for the
boat, of which nothing could now be seen. The orders left by Marble
anticipated no such occurrence as this tempest, and the concert
between us was interrupted. It was naturally inferred among us, in the
schooner, that the boat would endeavour to close, as soon as the
danger was foreseen; and, as this would probably be done, by running
on a converging line, all our efforts were directed to keeping the
schooner astern of the other party, in order that they might first
reach the point of junction. In this manner there _was_ a chance
of Marble's finding the schooner, while there was little of our
finding the boat. It is true, we carried several lights; but as soon
as it began to rain, even a bonfire would not have been seen at a
hundred yards. The water poured down upon us, as if it fell from
spouts, occasionally ceasing, and then returning in streams.
I had then never passed so miserable a night; even that in which
Smudge and his fellows murdered Captain Williams and seized the ship,
being happiness in comparison. I loved Marble. Hardy, loose, in some
respects, and unnurtured as he was in others, the man had been
steadily my friend. He was a capital seaman; a sort of an instinctive
navigator; true as the needle to the flag, and as brave as a
lion. Then, I knew he was in his present strait on account of
mortified feeling, and the rigid notions he entertained of his duty to
his owners. I think I do myself no more than justice, when I say that
I would gladly have exchanged places with him, any time that night.
We held a consultation on the quarter-deck, and it was determined that
our only chance of picking up the boat, was by remaining as nearly as
possible, at the place where her crew must have last seen the
schooner. Marble had a right to expect this; and we did all that lay
in our power to effect the object; waring often, and gaining on our
tacks what we lost in coming round. In this manner we passed a painful
and most uncomfortable night; the winds howling about us a sort of
requiem for the dead, while we hardly knew when we were wallowing in
the seas or not, there being so much water that came down from the
clouds, as nearly to drown us on deck.
At last the light returned, and soon after the tempest broke,
appearing to have expended its fury. An hour after the sun had risen,
we got the trade-wind again, the sea became regular once more, and the
schooner was under all her canvass. Of course, every one of us
officers was aloft, some forward, some aft, to look out for the boat;
but we did not see her again. What was still more extraordinary,
nothing could be seen of the ship! We kept all that day cruising
around the place, expecting to find at least the boat; but without
My situation was now altogether novel to me. I had left home rather
more than a twelvemonth before, the third officer of the Crisis. From
this station, I had risen regularly to be her first officer; and now,
by a dire catastrophe, I found myself in the Pacific, solely charged
with the fortunes of my owners, and those of some forty human beings.
And this, too, before I was quite twenty years old.
Marble's scheme of attacking the ship had always seemed to me to be
wild and impracticable. This was while it was _his_ project, not
my own. I still entertained the same opinion, as regards the assault
at sea; but I had, from the first, regarded an attempt on the coast as
a thing much more likely to succeed. Then Emily, and her father, and
the honour of the flag, and the credit I might personally gain, had
their influence; and, at sunset, all hope of finding the boat being
gone, I ordered sail made on our course.
The loss of the whale-boat occurred when we were about two thousand
miles from the western coast of South America. We had a long road
before us, consequently; and, as I had doubted whether the ship we had
seen was the Crisis, it was necessary to be in motion, if anything was
to be effected with our old enemies. The reader may feel some desire
to know in what manner my succession to the command was received by
the people. No man could have been more implicitly obeyed. I was now
six feet and an inch in height, of a powerful and active frame, a good
seaman, and had the habit of command, through a twelvemonth's
experience. The crew knew me, having seen me tried, from the
weather-earings down; and it is very likely I possessed more of their
confidence than I deserved. At all events, I was as implicitly obeyed
as if I had sailed from New York at their head. Everybody regretted
Marble; more, I think, than we regretted poor Captain Williams, though
it must have been on account of the manner we saw him disappear, as it
might be, from before our eyes; since, of the two, I think the last
was the most estimable man. Nevertheless, Marble had his strong
points, and they were points likely to take with seamen; and they had
particularly taken with us. As for the four Sandwich Islanders, I do
not know that they occupied any of our minds at all. We had been
accustomed to regard them as strange beings, who came from that ocean
to which they had thus suddenly returned.
Fifteen days after the loss of the whale-boat, we made the peaks of
the Andes, a very few degrees to the southward of the equator. From
some casual remarks made by the French, and which I had overheard, I
had been led to believe they intended to run for Guayaquil, or its
vicinity; and I aimed at reaching the coast near the same point. We
had been in, ourselves, at several bays and roadsteads, moreover, on
this part of the shore, on our way north; and I felt at home among
them. We had acquaintances, too, who could not fail to be of use to
us; and everything conspired to render this an advantageous land-fall.
On the evening of the twenty-ninth day after quitting the island, we
took the schooner into an open roadstead, where we had carried on some
extensive traffic in the ship, about eight months before, and where I
fancied we should still be recognised. As was expected, we had
scarcely anchored, before a Don Pedro Something, a fellow with a
surprising string of names, came off to us in a boat, in order to
ascertain who we were, and what we wanted. Perhaps it would be better
to say, what we had that _he_ wanted. I knew the man at a glance,
having delivered to him, myself, three boat-loads of goods, and
received a small bag of doubloons in exchange. A very few words,
half-English, half-Spanish, served to renew our acquaintance; and I
gave our old friend to understand that I was in search of the ship,
from which I had been separated on some extra duty. After beating the
bush to discover all he could, the Don Pedro gave me to understand
that _a_ ship had gone in behind an island that was only ten
miles to the southward of us, that very afternoon; that he had seen
her himself, and had supposed she might be his old friend the Crisis,
until he saw the French ensign at her gaff. This was sufficient, and I
made inquiries for a pilot. A man qualified to carry us to the place
was found in one of the boatmen. As I feared the news of the arrival
of a schooner might be carried to the ship, much as we had got our
intelligence, no time was lost, but we were under-way by ten o'clock.
At midnight we entered the pass between the main and the island; there
I got into a boat, and pulled ahead, in order to reconnoitre. I found
the ship lying close under a high bluff, which made a capital lee, and
with every sign about her of tranquillity. Still, I knew a vessel
that was always in danger from the _guarda-costas_, and which
relied on the celerity of its movements for its safety, would have a
vigilant look-out. Accordingly, I took a cool and careful examination
of the ship's position, landing and ascending the bluff, in order to
do this at my ease. About two o'clock in the morning, I returned to
When I put my foot on the Polly's deck again, she was quite near the
point, or bluff, having set down towards it during my absence. All
hands were on deck, armed, and in readiness. Expectation had got to be
so keen, that we had a little difficulty in keeping the men from
cheering; but silence was preserved, and I communicated the result of
my observations in as few words as possible. The orders were then
given, and the schooner was brought under short sail, for the
attack. We were so near our side of the bluff, while the ship lay so
near the other, that my principal apprehension was of falling to
leeward, which might give the French time to muster, and recollect
themselves. The canvass, accordingly, was reduced to the fore-sail,
though the jib, main-sail, and top-sail were all loose, in readiness
to be set, if wanted. The plan was to run the ship aboard, on her
starboard-bow, or off-side, as respected the island; and to do this
with as little of a shock as possible.
When everything was ready, I went aft, stood by the man at the helm,
and ordered him to bear up. Neb placed himself just behind me. I knew
it was useless to interfere, and let the fellow do as he pleased. The
pilot had told me the water was deep, up to the rocks of the bluff;
and we hugged the land as close as possible, in rounding the point. At
the next moment the ship was in sight, distant less than a hundred
fathoms. I saw we had good way, and, three minutes later, I ordered
the fore-sail brailed. At the same instant I walked forward. So near
were we, that the flapping of the canvass was heard in the ship, and
we got a hail. A mystified answer followed, and then crash came our
bows along those of the Crisis. "Hurrah! for the old craft!" shouted
our men, and aboard we tumbled in a body. Our charge was like the
plunge of a pack of hounds, as they leap through a hedge.
The scene that followed was one of wild tumult. Some twenty pistols
were fired, and a good many hard blows were struck; but the surprise
secured us the victory. In less than three minutes, Talcott came to
report to me that our lads had complete possession of the deck, and
that the French asked for quarter. At first, the enemy supposed they
had been seized by a _guarda-costa_, for the impression had been
general among them that we intended to quit the island for Canton.
Great was the astonishment among them when the truth came to be
known. I heard a great many "_sacr-r-r-es!" and certain other
maledictions in low French, that it is scarcely worth while to repeat.
Harris, one of the-Philadelphians, and the man who had got us into the
difficulty by falling asleep on his watch, was killed; and no less
than nine of our men, myself among the number, were hurt in this brisk
business. All the wounds, however, were slight; only three of the
injuries taking the parties off duty. As for the poor fellow who fell,
he owed his death to risking too much, in order to recover the ground
he had lost.
The French fared much worse than ourselves. Of those killed outright,
and those who died before morning, there were no less than sixteen;
our fellows having fired a volley into a group that was rushing on
deck, besides using their cutlasses with great severity for the first
minute or two. This was on the principle that the first blow was half
the battle. There were few wounded; most of those who fell being cut
or thrust at by several at the same time--a species of attack that
left little chance for escape. Poor Mons. Le Compte was found
stone-dead at the cabin-doors, having been shot in the forehead, just
as he put his foot on the deck. I heard his voice once in the fray,
and feared it boded no good; but the silence which succeeded was
probably caused by his just then receiving the fatal bullet. He was in
_1st Witch_. "Hail!"
_2d Witch_. "Hail!"
_3d Witch_. "Hail!"
_1st Witch_. "Lesser than Macbeth, and greater."
_2d Witch_. "Not so happy, yet much happier."
I hope I shall be believed in saying, if Marble had been with us when
we retook the ship, I should have been perfectly happy. He was not,
however, and regret was left to mingle in our triumph. I had a hasty
interview with Major Merton that night, and communicated all that was
necessary to quiet the apprehensions of his daughter. Emily was in her
state-room, and had been alarmed, as a matter of course; but when she
learned that all was over, and had terminated successfully, her fears
yielded to reason. Of course, both she and her father felt it to be a
great relief that they were no longer prisoners.
We were no sooner fairly in command of our old ship, again, than I had
all hands called to get the anchor. We hove up, and passed out to sea
without delay, it being necessary to cover our movements with as much
mystery as possible, in order to prevent certain awkward demands from
the Spanish government, on the subject of the violation of neutral
territory. A hint from Major Merton put me on my guard as respected
this point, and I determined to disappear as suddenly as we had
arrived, in order to throw obstacles in the way of being traced. By
day-light, therefore, both the ship and schooner were four leagues
from the land, and on the "great highway of nations;" a road, it may
be said in passing, that was then greatly infested by foot-pads and
Just as the sun rose, we buried the dead. This was done decently, and
with the usual ceremony, the triumph of victory giving place to the
sad reflections that are so apt to succeed to the excited feelings of
most of our struggles. I saw poor Le Compte disappear from sight with
regret, and remembered his recent hopes, his generous treatment, his
admiration of Emily, and all that he had so lately thought and felt,
as a warning of the fragile nature of life, and that which life can
bestow. Thus terminated an acquaintance of a month; but a month that
had been pregnant with incidents of great importance to myself.
It now became necessary to decide on our future course. I had the
ship, just as the French got her from us, with the addition of those
portions of their own cargo with which they had intended to trade on
the coast of South America. These consisted of silks and various
fancy articles, with a little wine, and would be nearly as valuable at
home as they were in Spanish America. I was strongly averse to
smuggling, and the ship having already followed out her original
instructions on this point, I saw no necessity for pursuing the
ungrateful trade any further. Could I return to the island, and get
the articles of value left on it by the French, such as the copper
they had not used, and divers pales received from the Bombay ship,
which had been abandoned by us all under a tent, more profit would
accrue to my owners than by any illicit commerce we could now possibly
carry into effect on the coast.
While Talcott, and the new chief-mate, and myself were discussing
these points, the cry of "sail ho!" was heard. A large ship had
suddenly hove up out of the morning's mist, within a mile of us, and I
thought, at first, we had got under the guns of a Spanish
man-of-war. A second look at her, however, satisfied us all, that,
though heavy and armed, she was merely one of those clumsy traders
that sailed, periodically, from the colonies to Spain. We went to
quarters, and cleared ship, but made no effort to avoid the stranger.
The Spaniards, of the two, were the most uneasy, I believe, their
country being then at war with England; but we spoke each other
without coming to blows. As soon as the strangers saw the American
ensign, they expressed a wish to communicate with us; and, unwilling
to let them come on board us, I volunteered a visit to the Spanish
captain. He received me with formal politeness, and, after some
preliminary discourse, he put into my hands some American newspapers,
which contained a copy of the treaty of peace between the United
States and France. On looking over the articles of this new compact, I
found that, had our recapture of the Crisis been delayed to that very
day, at noon, it would have been illegal. The two nations, in fact,
were at peace, when the French seized the ship, but the customary
provisions as to captures in distant seas, just brought us within the
saving clauses. Such is war, and its concomitants!
In the course of half an hour's conversation, I discovered that the
Spaniard intended to touch at Valparaiso, and called, in order to get
men, his own having suffered, up the coast, with the small-pox. His
ship was large, carried a considerable armament, and he should not
deem her safe from the smaller English cruisers, unless he doubled the
Cape much stronger handed than he then was. I caught at the idea, and
inquired what he thought of Frenchmen? They would answer his purpose,
for France and Spain had a common enemy, and nothing would be easier
than to send the French from Cadiz to Marseilles. A bargain was
consequently struck on the spot.
When I got back on board the Crisis, I had all the prisoners mustered
on deck. They were made acquainted with the offers of the Spanish
captain, with the fact that peace now existed between our respective
countries, and with the chance that presented itself, so opportunely,
for them to return home. The proposition was cheerfully accepted,
anything being better than captivity. Before parting, I endeavoured to
impress on the French the necessity of prudence on the subject of our
recapturing the Crisis in Spanish waters, inasmuch as the circumstance
might induce an inquiry as to what took the ship there; it being well
understood that the mines were the punishment of those who were taken
in the contraband trade in that quarter of the world. The French
promised fairly. Whether they kept their words I never knew, but, if
they did not, no consequences ever followed from their revelations. In
such a case, indeed, the Spanish government would be very apt to
consider the question one that touched the interests of smugglers
alike, and to feel great indifference between the parties. At all
events, no complaints were ever made to the American government; or,
if made, they never reached my ears, or those of my owners. It is most
probable nothing was ever said on the subject.
About noon we had got rid of our prisoners. They were allowed to take
away with them all their own effects, and, as usually happens in such
cases, I make little doubt some that belonged to other persons. The
ships then made sail, each on her own course; the Spaniard running
down the coast, while we spread our studding-sails for the island. As
soon as this was done, I felt relieved from a great burthen, and had
leisure to think of other matters. I ought to mention, however, that I
put the second-mate, or him who had become chief-mate by my own
advancement, in command of the "Pretty Poll," giving him two
experienced seamen as his own mates, and six men, to sail her. This
made Talcott the Crisis' first officer, and glad was I to see him in a
station a little suited to his attainments.
That evening, just as the sun was setting, I saw Emily again, for the
first time since she had stood leaning over the rail as the Crisis
shot through the inlet of the lagoon. The poor girl was pale, and it
was evident, while she could not but rejoice at her liberation, and
her release from the solicitations of the unfortunate Le Compte, that
his death had cast a shade of sadness over her pretty features. It
could not well be otherwise, the female breast ever entertaining its
sympathies for those who submit to the influence of its owner's
charms. Then, poor Le Compte had some excellent qualities, and he
treated Emily, as she admitted to me herself, with the profoundest
respect, and delicacy. His admiration could scarce be an offence in
_her_ eyes, however disagreeable it proved, in certain points of
Our meeting partook of the character of our situation, being a mixture
of melancholy and happiness. I rejoiced in our success, while I
regretted Marble, and even our late enemies, while the Major and his
daughter could not but remember all the gloomy particulars of their
late, and, indeed, of their present position.
"We seem to be kept, like Mahomet's coffin, sir," Emily observed, as
she looked affectionately at her father, "suspended between heaven and
earth--the Indies and America--not knowing on which we are to
alight. The Pacific is our air, and we are likely to breathe it, to
our heart's content."
"True, love--your comparison is not an unhappy one. But, Wallingford,
what has become of Captain Marble in these stirring times? You have
not left him, Sancho Panza like, to govern Barritaria, while you have
come to recover his ship?"
I told my passengers of the manner in which our old friend had
disappeared, and inquired if anything had been seen of the whale-boat,
or the schooner, on the night of the tropical tempest.
"Nothing"--answered the Major. "So far from expecting to lay eyes on
the 'Beautiful Emily,' again, we supposed you would be off for Canton
by the end of the fortnight that succeeded our own departure. At
least, that was poor Le Compte's version of the matter. I am certain
however, that no sail was seen from this ship, during the whole
passage; nor, had we any storm like that you have described. More
beautiful weather, I never met at sea."
Upon this, I sent for the log-book, and ascertained, by day and date,
that the Crisis was not within fifty leagues of the spot, where we
encountered the thunder-squall. Of course the ship we saw was a
stranger; most probably a whaler. This destroyed any little hope that
was left concerning Marble's fate.
But it is time I should mention a _galanterie_ of poor Le
Compte's. He was well provided with shipwrights--better, indeed, than
with seamen--as was apparent by the readiness with which he had
constructed the schooner. During the passage from Marble Land, he had
set these workmen about building a poop on the Crisis' quarter-deck,
and I found the work completed. There was a very pretty, airy cabin,
with two state-rooms communicating with light quarter-galleries, and
everything that is customary with such accommodations. Furniture had
been made, with French dexterity and taste, and the paint was just dry
to receive it. Emily and her father were to take possession of these
new accommodations the very day succeeding that in which the ship fell
again into our hands. This alteration was not such as I would have
made, as a seaman; and I wonder Mons. Le Compte, who had the gauntlet
to run through the most formidable navy in the world, should have
ventured on it, since it sensibly affected the ship's sailing on a
wind. But, now it was peace, I cared little about it, and determined
to let it remain, so long, at least, as Miss Merton continued on
That very night, therefore, the Major occupied one of the state-rooms,
and his daughter the other. Imitating poor Le Compte's gallantry, I
gave them a separate table, though I took quite half my meals with
them, by invitation. Emily did not absolutely dress my wound, a flesh
injury in the shoulder, that office falling to her father's share, who
had seen a good deal of service, and was familiar with the general
treatment of hurts of this nature; but she could, and did, show many
of those gentle and seductive attentions, that the tenderness of her
sex can alone bestow, with full effect, on man. In a fortnight my hurt
was cured, though Emily had specifics to recommend, and advice to
bestow, until we were both ashamed to allude to the subject any
As for the passage, it was just such a one as might be expected to
occur, in the trades of the Pacific. The ship was under studding-sails
nearly the whole time, making, day in and day out, from a hundred and
twenty to two hundred miles in the twenty-four hours. The mates kept
the watches, and I had little to do, but to sit and chat with the
Major and his daughter, in the cool, airy cabin, that Le Compte had
provided for us; listen to Emily's piano, which had been transferred
from the prize, and subsequently saved from the wreck; or read aloud
out of some of the two or three hundred beautifully bound, and
sweetly-scented volumes that composed her library. In that day, people
read Pope, and Young, and Milton, and Shakspeare, and that sort of
writers; a little relieved by Mrs. Radcliffe, and Miss Burney, and
Monk Lewis, perhaps. As for Fielding and Smollet, they were well
enough in their place, which was not a young lady's library,
however. There were still more useful books, and I believe I read
everything in the ship, before the voyage ended. The leisure of a
sea-life, in a tranquil, well-ordered vessel, admits of much study;
and books ought to be a leading object in the fitting out that portion
of a vessel's equipment which relates chiefly to the welfare of her
officers and crew.
Time passed pleasantly enough, with a young fellow who had certainly
some reason to be satisfied with his own success thus far in life, and
who could relieve the tedium of ship's duty in such society. I cannot
say I was in love, though I often thought of Emily when she was not
before my eyes, and actually dreamt of her three times, in the first
fortnight after the re-capture of the ship. What was a little
remarkable, as I conceive, I often found myself drawing comparisons
between her and Lucy, though I hardly knew why, myself. The result was
very much after this sort;--Emily had vastly the advantage in all that
related to art, instruction, training--I am wrong, Mr. Harding had
given his daughter a store of precise, useful knowledge, that Emily
did not possess; and then I could not but see that Lucy's tact in
moral feeling, was much of the highest order of the two. But, in
purely conventional attainments, in most that relates to the world,
its usages, its finesse of feeling and manner, I could see that Emily
was the superior. Had I known more myself, I could have seen that both
were provincial--for England, in 1801, was but a province, as to mere
manners, though on a larger scale than America is even now--and that
either would have been remarked for peculiarities, in the more
sophisticated circles of the continent of Europe. I dare say, half my
own countrymen would have preferred Lucy's nature to the more
artificial manner of Emily; but, it will not do to say that even
female deportment, however delicate and feminine nature may have made
it, cannot be improved by certain general rules for the government of
that which is even purely conventional. On the whole, I wished that
Lucy had a little of Emily's art, and Emily a good deal more of Lucy's
nature. I suppose the perfection in this sort of thing is to possess
an art so admirable that it shall appear to be nature, in all things
immaterial, while it leaves the latter strictly in the ascendant, in
all that is material.
In person, I sometimes fancied Emily was the superior, and, sometimes,
when memory carried me back to certain scenes that had occurred during
my last visit to Clawbonny, that it was Lucy. In complexion, and
perhaps in eyes, the English girl beat her rival; possibly, also, in
the teeth; though Lucy's were very even and white; but, in the smile,
in the outline of the face, most especially in the mouth, and in the
hands, feet, and person generally, I think nine judges in ten would
have preferred the American. One peculiar charm was common to both;
and it is a charm, though the strongest instance I ever saw of it in
my life, was in Italy, that may be said to belong, almost exclusively,
to the Anglo-Saxon race: I mean that expression of the countenance
which so eminently betokens feminine purity and feminine tenderness
united; the look which artists love to impart to the faces of
angels. Each of the girls had much of this; and I suppose it was
principally owing to their heavenly blue eyes. I doubt if any woman
with black, or hazel eyes notwithstanding all the brilliancy of their
beauty, ever possessed this charm in the higher degree. It belonged to
Grace even more than to Lucy or Emily; though, of the two last, I
think the English girl possessed it, in a slight degree, the most, so
far as it was connected with mere shading and colour; while the
American exhibited the most of it, in moments of feeling and
emotion. Perhaps, this last advantage was owing to Lucy's submitting
most to nature, and to her impulses. It must be remembered, however,
that I had not seen Lucy, now, for near two years; and two of the most
important years of a young female's life, as respected her personal
As relates to character, I will not now speak as plainly as I shall be
called on to do, hereafter. A youth of twenty is not the best judge of
such things, and I shall leave events to tell their own story, in this
We had been at sea a fortnight, when happening to allude to the pearl
fishery, I bethought me of my own prizes. A ship that carries a
numerous crew, is a sort of _omnium gatherum_, of human
employments. For ordinarily manned craft, seamen are necessary; but
ships of war, privateers and letters-of-marque, can afford, as poor
Marble would express it, to generalize. We had several tradesmen in
the Crisis--mechanics, who found the restraints of a ship necessary
for their own good--and, among others, we happened to have a
goldsmith. This man had offered to perforate my pearls, and to string
them; an operation to which I consented. The fellow had performed his
task as well as could be desired, and supplying from his own stores a
pair of suitable clasps, had formed the whole into a simple, but as
beautiful a necklace, as I ever laid eyes on. He had put the largest
pearl of all directly in the centre, and then arranged the remainder,
by placing several of the smaller together separated by one of the
second size, until the whole formed a row that would much more than
encircle my own neck, and which, of course, would drop gracefully
round that of a female.
When I produced this beautiful ornament, one that a woman of rank
might have coveted, Emily did not endeavour to conceal her
admiration. Unaccustomed, herself, to the higher associations of her
own country, she had never seen a necklace of the same value, and she
even fancied it fit for a queen. Doubtless, queens usually possess
much more precious pearls than those of mine, and yet it was to be
supposed they would not disdain to wear even such as they. Major
Merton examined the necklace carefully, and I could see by his
countenance, he was surprised and pleased.
On the whole, I think it may be questioned, if any other man enjoys as
many _physical_ advantages with the same means, as the Americans. I
speak more of his habits, than of his opportunities; but I am of
opinion, after seeing a good deal of various parts of the world, that
the American of moderate fortune has more physical indulgences than
any other man. While this is true, however, as a whole, there are
certain points on which he signally fails. He fails _often_, when it
comes to the mere outward exhibition; and it is probable there is not
a single well-ordered household--meaning for the purposes of comfort
and representation united--in the whole country. The particular
deficiency, if deficiency it be, applies in an almost exclusive degree
to the use of precious stones, jewelry, and those of the more valuable
metals in general. The ignorance of the value of precious stones is so
great, that half the men, meaning those who possess more or less of
fortune, do not even know the names of those of the commoner sorts. I
doubt, if one educated American in twenty could, even at this moment,
tell a sapphire from an amethyst, or a turquoise from a garnet; though
the women are rather more expert as lapidaries. Now, I was a true
American in this respect; and, while I knew I possessed a very
beautiful ornament, I had not the smallest idea of its value, as an
article of commerce. With the Major it was different. He had studied
such things, and he had a taste for them. The reader will judge of my
surprise, therefore, when I heard him say:--
"That necklace, in the hands of Rundle and Bridges, would bring a
thousand pounds, in London!"
"Father!" exclaimed Emily.
"I do think it. It is not so much the size of the pearls, though these
largest are not common even in that particular, but it is their
extreme beauty; their colour and transparency--their _water_, as
it is called."
"I thought that a term applied only to diamonds"--observed Emily, with
an interest I wished she had not manifested.
"It is also applied to pearls--there are pearls of what is called the
'white water,' and they are of the sort most prized in Europe. The
'yellow water' are more esteemed among nations of darker skins; I
suppose that is the secret. Yes, I think if you send this necklace to
London, Wallingford, you will get six or eight hundred pounds for it."
"I shall never sell it, sir--at least, not as long as I can avoid it."
I saw that Emily looked at me, with an earnestness for which I could
"Not sell it!--" repealed her father--"Why, what in the name of
Neptune can _you_ do with such an ornament?"
"Keep it. It is strictly my own. I brought it up, from the bottom of
the sea, with my own hands; removed the pearls from what the editors
would call their 'native homes' myself, and I feel an interest in
them, that I never could feel in any ornament that was purchased."
"Still, this will prove rather an expensive taste. Pray, What interest
do you obtain for money, in your part of the world, Wallingford?"
"Six per cent., in New York, sir, perhaps, on the better sort of
"And how much is sixty pounds sterling, when turned into dollars?"
"We usually say five for one, though it is not quite that; from two
hundred and eighty to two hundred and ninety, all things
considered--though two hundred and sixty-six, nominally, or
"Well, even two hundred and sixty-six dollars a year, is a good deal
for a young man like you to pay, for the pleasure of saying he owns a
pearl necklace that he cannot use."
"But it cost me nothing, sir, and of course I can lose nothing by it."
"I rather think you will lose what I tell you, if the ornament can be
sold for that sum. When a man has property from which he might derive
an income, and does not, he is, in one sense, and that the most
important, a loser."
"I have a sister, Major Merton; I may possibly give it to her--or,
should I marry, I would certainly give it to my wife."
I could see a smile struggling about the mouth of the major, which I
was then too young, and I may add, too American, to understand. The
incongruity of the wife of a man of two thousand, or five and twenty
hundred dollars a-year, wearing two years' income round her neck, or
of being magnificent in only one item of her dress, household, or
manner of living, never occurred to my mind. We can all laugh when we
read of Indian chiefs wearing uniform-coats, and cocked-hats, without
any other articles of attire; but we cannot imagine inconsistencies in
our own cases, that are almost as absurd in the eyes of highly
sophisticated and conventional usages. To me, at that age, there was
nothing in the least out of the way, in Mrs. Miles Wallingford's
wearing the necklace, her husband being unequivocally its owner. As
for Emily, she did not smile, but continued to hold the necklace in
her own very white, plump hand, the pearls making the hand look all
the prettier, while the hand assisted to increase the lustre of the
pearls. I ventured to ask her to put the necklace on her neck. She
blushed slightly, but she complied.
"Upon my word, Emily," exclaimed the gratified father, "you become
each other so well, that I am losing a prejudice, and begin to believe
even a poor man's daughter may be justified in using such an
The sight was certainly sufficient to justify anything of the
sort. The dazzling whiteness of Miss Merlon's skin, the admirable
outlines of her throat and bust, and the flush which pleasure gave her
cheeks, contributed largely to the beauty of the picture. It would
have been difficult to say, whether the charms of the woman ornamented
the pearls, or those of the pearls ornamented the woman! I remember I
thought, at the time, my eyes had never dwelt on any object more
pleasing, than was Miss Merton during the novelty of that
spectacle. Nor did the pleasure cease, on the instant; for I begged
her to continue to wear the necklace during the remainder of the day;
a request with which she had the good nature to comply. Which was most
gratified by this exhibition, the young lady or myself, it might be
difficult to say; for there is a mutual satisfaction in admiring, and
in being admired.
When I went into the cabin to say good-night, I found Emily Merton,
with the necklace in her hand, gazing at it, by the light of a
powerful lamp, with eyes as liquid and soft as the pearls
themselves. I stood still to admire her; for never before had I seen
her so bewitchingly beautiful. Her countenance was usually a little
wanting in intellectual expression, though it possessed so much of
that which I have described as _angelic_; but, on this occasion,
_it seemed to me_, to be full of ideas. Can it be possible,
whispered conceit--and what very young man is entirely free from
it--can it be possible, she is now thinking how happy a woman Mrs.
Miles Wallingford will one day be?--Am I in any manner connected with
that meditating brow, that reflecting air, that fixed look, that
pleased and yet doubting expression?
"I was about to send for you, Captain Wallingford," said Emily, the
instant she saw me, and confirming my conceited conjectures, by
blushing deeper than I had seen her before, in the whole of that
blushing, sensitive, and enjoyable day; "about to send for you, to
take charge of your treasure."
"And could you not assume that much responsibility, for a single
"'T would be too great--it is an honour reserved for Mrs. Wallingford,
This was smilingly said, I fancied sweetly and kindly, and yet it was
said not altogether without something that approached to an
_equivoque_; a sort of manner that the deep, natural feeling of
Grace, and needle-like truth of Lucy had rendered unpleasant to me. I
took the necklace, shook the young lady's hand for good-night--we
always did that, on meeting and parting for the day--paid my
compliments to the father, and withdrew.
I was dressing next morning, when Neb came bolting into my state-room,
with his Clawbonny freedom of manner, his eyes looking lobsters, and
_his_ necklace of pearl, glittering between a pair of lips that
might have furnished a cannibal two famous steaks. As soon as fairly
established in command, I had brought the fellow aft, berthing him in
the steerage, in order to have the benefit of more of his personal
service than I could obtain while he was exclusively a foremast
Jack. Still, he kept his watch; for it would have been cruel to
deprive, him of that pleasure.
"Oh! Masser Mile!" exclaimed the black, as soon as he could speak; "'e
"What of the boat?--Is any one overboard?"
"'E whale-boat, sir!--Poor Captain Marble--'e whale-boat, sir!"
"I understand you, Neb--go on deck, and desire the officer of the
watch to heave-to the ship, as soon as it is proper; I will come up,
the instant I can."
Here, then, I thought, Providence has brought us on the track of the
unfortunate whale-boat; and we shall doubtless see the mutilated
remains of some of our old companions--poor Marble, doubtless, from
what Neb said--well, the will of God be done. I was soon dressed; and,
as I went up the cabin-ladder, the movement on deck denoted the nature
of the excitement that now prevailed generally, in the ship. Just as
I reached the quarter-deck, the main-yard swung round, and the sails
were brought aback. The whole crew was in commotion, and it was some
little time before I could learn the cause.
The morning was misty, and the view round the ship, until within a few
minutes, had been confined to a circle of less than a mile in
diameter. As the sun rose, however, the mist broke away gradually, and
then the watch caught a view of the whale-boat mentioned by
Neb. Instead of being floating about on the ocean, with the remains of
its unfortunate crew lying in its bottom, as I had expected to see it,
when I caught the first glimpse of the unlooked-for object, it was not
a mile distant, pulling briskly for us, and containing not only a
full, but a strong and an animated crew.
Just at that instant, some one cried out "Sail-ho!" and sure enough, a
ship was seen some four or five miles to leeward, a whaler evidently,
turning to windward, under easy canvass, in order to rejoin her boat,
from which she had lately been separated by the night and the
fog. This, then, was no more than a whaler and her boat; and, on
sweeping the horizon with a glass, Talcott soon discovered, a mile to
windward of the boat, a dead whale, with another boat lying by it, in
waiting for the approach of the ship, which promised to fetch as far
to windward, on its next tack.
"They desire to speak us, I suppose, Mr. Talcott," I remarked. "The
ship is probably an American; it is likely the captain is in the boat,
and he wishes to send letters or messages home."
A shout came from Talcott, at the next instant--then he cried out--
"Three cheers, my lads; I see Captain Marble in that boat, as plainly
as I see the boat itself!"
The cheers that followed, were a spontaneous burst of joy. They
reached the approaching boat, and gave its inmate an earnest of his
reception. In three more minutes. Marble was on the deck of his old
ship. For myself, I was unable to speak; nor was poor Marble much
better off though more prepared for the interview.
"I knew you, Miles; I knew you, and the bloody 'Pretty Poll,'" he at
last got out, the tears running down his cheeks like water, "the
moment the fog lifted, and gave me a fair glimpse. They've got
her--yes--d----n her--God bless her, I mean--they've got her, and the
bloody Frenchmen will not go home with _that_ feather in their
caps. Well, it couldn't have happened to a cleverer fellow; and I'm
just as happy as if I had done it myself!"
There he stood, sound, safe, and sturdy as ever; and the four Sandwich
Islanders were all in the boat, just as well as if they had never
quitted the ship. Every man of the crew had to shake hands with
Marble, congratulations were to be exchanged, and a turbulent quarter
of an hour passed, before it was possible to get a coherent account
from the man of what had befallen him. As soon as practicable,
however, he motioned for silence, and told his own story aloud, for
the benefit of all hands.
"You know how I left you, men," Marble commenced, swabbing his eyes
and cheeks, and struggling to speak with something like an appearance
of composure, "and the errand on which I went. The last I saw of you
was about half an hour before the gust broke. At that time I was so
near the ship, as to make out she was a whaler; and, nothing doubting
of being in sight of you in the morning, I thought it safer to pull
alongside of _her_, than to try to hunt for the schooner in the
dark. I found an old shipmate in the whaler's captain, who was looking
for a boat that had struck adrift the night before; and both parties
were pleased. There was not much time for compliments, however, as you
all know. The ship bore up to speak you, and then she bore up, again
and again, on account of the squalls. While Mr. Wallingford was
probably hugging the wind in order to find _me_, we were running
off to save our spars; and next morning we could see nothing of
you. How else we missed each other, is more than I can say; for I've
no idee you went off and left me out here, in the middle of the
"We cruised for you, within five miles of the spot, for a whole day!"
I exclaimed, eagerly.
"No, no--Captain Marble," the men put in, in a body, "we did all that
men could do, to find you."
"I know it! I could swear to it, without a word from one of you. Well,
that's the whole story. We could not find you, and I stuck by the ship
as a matter of course, as there was no choice between that and jumping
overboard; and here has the Lord brought us together again, though we
are every inch of five hundred miles from the place where we parted."
I then took Marble below, and related to him all that had occurred
since the separation. He listened with the deepest interest,
manifesting the strongest sympathy in our success. Nothing but
expressions of gratification escaped him, until I remarked, as I
concluded my account--
"And here is the old ship for you, sir, just as we lost her; and glad
am I to see her once more in so good hands."
"Who put that bloody poop on her, you or the Frenchman, Miles?"
"The Frenchman. Now it is peace, however, it is no great matter; and
the cabin is very convenient for the Major and his daughter."
"It's just like 'em! Spoiling the neatest quarter-deck on the ocean,
with a bloody supernumerary cabin!"
"Well, sir, as you are master now, you can have it all cut away again,
if you think proper."
"I! I cut away anything! I take the command of this ship from the man
who has so fairly won it! If I do, may I be d----d!"
"Captain Marble! You astonish me by this language, sir; but it is
nothing more than a momentary feeling, of which your own good
sense--nay, even your duty to the owners--will cause you to get rid."
"You never were more mistaken in your life, Master Miles Wallingford,"
answered Marble, solemnly. "I thought of all this the moment I
recognised the ship, and that was as soon as I saw her; and my mind
was made up from that instant. I cannot be so mean as to come in at
the seventh hour, and profit by your courage and skill. Besides, I
have no legal right to command here. The ship was more than
twenty-four hours in the enemy's hands, and she comes under the usual
laws of recapture and salvage."
"But the owners, Captain Marble--remember there is a cargo to be taken
in at Canton, and there are heavy interests at stake."
"By George, that would make me so much the more firm. From the first,
I have thought matters would be better in your hands than mine; you
have an education, and that's a wonderful thing, Miles. As to sailing
a ship, or stowing her, or taking care of her in heavy weather, or
finding my way across an ocean, I'll turn my back on no man; but it's
a different thing when it comes to figures and calculations."
"You disappoint me greatly in all this, sir; we have gone through so
"We did not go through _the recapture of this vessel_ together,
"But it was _your_ thought, and, but for an accident, would have
been your _deed_."
"I don't know that; I have reflected coolly in the matter, after I got
over my mortification; and I think we should have been flogged, had we
attacked the French at sea. Your own plan was better, and capitally
carried out. Harkee, Miles, this much will I do, and not a jot
more. You are bound to the island, I take it for granted, to pick up
odds and ends; and then you sail for Canton?"
"Precisely--I am glad you approve of it, as you must by seeing into it
"Well, at the island, fill up the schooner with such articles as will
be of no use at Canton. Let her take in the copper, the English goods,
and the like of that; and I will carry her home, while you can pursue
the v'y'ge in the ship, as you alone have a right to do."
No arguments of mine could turn Marble from his resolution. I fought
him all day on the subject, and at night he was put in command of the
"Pretty Poll," with our old second-mate for his first officer.
"Thou shalt seek the beach of sand,
Where the water bounds the elfin land;
Thou shalt watch the oozy brine
Till the sturgeon leaps in the light moonshine."
There is but a word to say of the whaler. We spoke her, of course, and
parted, leaving her her boat. She passed half an hour, close to us,
and then went after her whale. When we lost sight of her, she was
cutting in the fish, as coolly as if nothing had happened. As for
ourselves, we made the best of our way for the island.
Nothing worth relating occurred during the remainder of the
passage. We reached our place of destination ten days after we found
Marble; and carried both the ship and schooner into the lagoon,
without any hesitation or difficulty. Everything was found precisely
as we had left it; two months having passed as quietly as an hour. The
tents were standing, the different objects lay where they had been
hastily dropped at our hurried departure, and everything denoted the
unchangeable character of an unbroken solitude. Time and the seasons
could alone have produced any sensible alteration. Even the wreck had
neither shifted her bed, nor suffered injury. There she lay, seemingly
an immovable fixture on the rocks, and as likely to last, as any other
of the durable things around her.
It is always a relief to escape from the confinement of a ship, even
if it be only to stroll along the vacant sands of some naked beach. As
soon as the vessels were secured, we poured ashore in a body, and the
people were given a holiday. There was no longer an enemy to
apprehend; and we all enjoyed the liberty of movement, and the freedom
from care that accompanied our peculiar situation. Some prepared
lines and commenced fishing; others hauled the seine; while the less
industriously disposed lounged about, selected the fruit of the
cocoa-nut tree, or hunted for shells, of which there were many, and
those extremely beautiful, scattered along the inner and outer
beaches, or lying, visible, just within the wash of the water. I
ordered two or three of the hands to make a collection for Clawbonny;
paying them, as a matter of course, for their extra services. Their
success was great; and I still possess the fruits of their search, as
memorials of my youthful adventures.
Emily and her maid took possession of their old tents, neither of
which had been disturbed; and I directed that the necessary articles
of furniture should be landed for their use. As we intended to remain
eight or ten days at Marble Land, there was a general disposition to
make ourselves comfortable; and the crew were permitted to bring such
things ashore as they desired, care being had for the necessary duties
of the ships. Since quitting London, we had been prisoners, with the
short interval of our former visit to this place, and it was now
deemed wisest to give the people a little relaxation. To all this, I
was advised by Marble; who, though a severe, and so often seemingly an
obdurate man, was in the main disposed to grant as much indulgence, at
suitable moments, as any officer I ever sailed with. There was an
ironical severity, at times, about the man, which misled superficial
observers. I have heard of a waggish boatswain in the navy, who, when
disposed to menace the crew with some of his official visitations,
used to cry out, "Fellow-citizens, I'm coming among you;" and the
anecdote never recurs to my mind, without bringing Marble back to my
recollection. When in spirits, he had much of this bitter irony in his
manner; and his own early experience had rendered him somewhat
insensible to _professional_ suffering; but, on the whole, I
always thought him a humane man.
We went into the lagoon, before the sun had risen; and before the
breakfast hour of those who lived aft, we had everything landed that
was necessary, and were in possession of our tents. I had ordered Neb
to attend particularly to the wants of the Mertons; and, precisely as
the bell of the ship struck eight, which, at that time of day, meant
eight o'clock, the black came with the major's compliments, inviting
"_Captain_" Wallingford and "_Captain_" Marble to breakfast.
"So it goes, Miles," added my companion, after promising to join the
party in a few moments. "This arrangement about the schooner leaves us
both captains, and prevents anything like your downhill work, which is
always unpleasant business. _Captain_ Marble and _Captain_
Wallingford sound well; and I hope they may long sail in company. But
natur' or art never meant me for a captain."
"Well, admitting this, where there are _two_ captains, one must
outrank the other, and the senior commands. You should be called
"None of your pleasantry, Miles," returned Marble, with a severe look
and a shake of the head; "it is by your favour, and I hope by your
good opinion, that I am master of even that little, half-blooded, part
French, part Yankee, schooner. It is my second, and I think it will be
my last command. I have generalized over my life, upon a large scale,
within the last ten days, and have come to the conclusion that the
Lord created me to be your mate, and not you to be mine. When natur'
means a man for anything partic'lar, she doesn't set him adrift among
human beings, as I was set adrift."
"I do not understand you, sir--perhaps you will give me an outline of
your history; and then all will be plain."
"Miles, oblige me in one particular--it will cost you no great
struggle, and will considerably relieve my mind."
"You have only to name it, sir, to be certain it will be done."
"Drop that bloody _sir_, then; it's unbecoming now, as between
you and me. Call me Marble, or Moses; as I call you, Miles."
"Well, be it so. Now for this history of yours, which you have
promised to give me, by the way, any time these two years."
"It can be told in a few words; and I hope it may be of service. A
human life, properly generalized on, is at any time as good as most
sermons. It is full of what I call the morality of idees. I suppose
you know to what I owe my names?"
"Not I--to your sponsors in baptism, like all the rest of us, I
"You're nearer the truth than you may imagine, this time, boy. I was
found, a child of a week old, they tell me, lying in a basket, one
pleasant morning, in a stone-cutter's yard, on the North River side of
the town, placed upon a bit of stone that was hewing out for the head
of a grave, in order, as I suppose, that the workmen would be sure to
find me, when they mustered at their work. Although I have passed for
a down-easter, having sailed in their craft in the early part of my
life, I'm in truth York born."
"And is this all you know of your origin, my dear Marble?"
"All I _want_ to know, after such a hint. A man is never anxious
to make the acquaintance of parents who are afraid to own him. I dare
say, now, Miles, that _you_ knew, and loved, and respected
"Love, and respect her! I worshipped her, Marble; and she deserved it
all, if ever human being did!"
"Yes, yes; I can understand _that_," returned Marble, making a
hole in the sand with his heel, and looking both thoughtful and
melancholy. "It must be a great comfort to love and respect a mother!
I've seen them, particularly young women, that I thought set quite as
much store by their mothers, as they did by themselves. Well, no
matter; I got into one of poor Captain Robbins's bloody currents at
the first start, and have been drifting about ever since, just like
the whale-boat with which we fell in, pretty much as the wind
blew. They hadn't the decency to pin even a name--they might have got
one out of a novel or a story-book, you know, to start a poor fellow
in life with--to my shirt; no--they just set me afloat on that bit of
a tombstone, and cast off the standing part of what fastened me to
anything human. There they left me, to generalize on the 'arth and its
ways, to my heart's content."
"And you were found next morning, by the stone-cutter, when he came,
again, to use his chisel."
"Prophecy couldn't have better foretold what happened. There I was
found, sure enough; and there I made my first escape from
destruction. Seeing the basket, which it seems was one in which he had
brought his own dinner, the day before, and forgotten to carry away
with him, he gave it a jerk to cast away the leavings, before he
handed it to the child who had come to take it home, in order that it
might be filled again, when out I rolled on the cold stone. There I
lay, as near the grave as a tomb-stone, when I was just a week old."
"Poor fellow--you could only know this by report, however. And what
was done with you?"
"I suppose, if the truth were known, my father was somewhere about
that yard; and little do I envy the old gentleman his feelings, if he
reflected much, over matters and things. I was sent to the Alms-House,
however; stone-cutters being nat'rally hard-hearted, I suppose. The
fact that I was left among such people, makes me think so much the
more, that my own father must have been one of them, or it never could
have happened. At all events, I was soon rated on the Alms-House
books; and the first thing they did was to give me some name. I was
No. 19, for about a week; at the age of fourteen days, I became Moses
"It was an odd selection, that your 'sponsors in baptism' made!"
"Somewhat--Moses came from the scriptur's, they tell me; there being a
person of that name, as I understand, who was turned adrift pretty
much as I was, myself."
"Why, yes--so far as the basket and the abandonment were concerned;
but he was put afloat fairly, and not clapped on a tomb-stone, as if
to threaten him with the grave at the very outset."
"Well, Tombstone came very near being my name. At first, they thought
of giving me the name of the man for whom the stone was intended; but,
that being Zollickoffer, they thought I never should be able to spell
it. Then came Tombstone, which they thought melancholy, and so they
called me Marble; consaiting, I suppose, it would make me
"How long did you remain in the Alms-House, and at what age did you
first go to sea?"
"I staid among them the public feeds, until I was eight years old, and
then I took a hazy day to cut adrift from charity. At that time,
Miles, our country belonged to the British--or they treated it as if
it did, though I've heard wiser men than myself say, it was always our
own, the king of England only happening to be our king--but I was born
a British subject, and being now just forty, you can understand I went
to sea several years before the revolution."
"True--you must have seen service in that war, on one side, or the
"If you say _both_ sides, you'll not be out of the way. In 1775,
I was a foretop-man in the Romeny 50, where I remained until I was
transferred to the Connecticut 74--"
"The what?" said I, in surprise. "Had the English a line-of-battle
ship called the Connecticut?"
"As near as I could make it out: I always thought it a big compliment
for John Bull to pay the Yankees."
"Perhaps the name of your ship was the Carnatic? The sounds are not
"Blast me, if I don't think you've hit it, Miles. Well, I'm glad of
it, for I run from the ship, and I shouldn't half like the thought of
serving a countryman such a trick. Yes, I then got on board of one of
our sloops, and tried my hand at settling the account with my old
masters. I was taken prisoner for my pains, but worried through the
war without getting my neck stretched. They wanted to make it out, on
board the old Jarsey, that I was an Englishman, but I told 'em just to
prove it. Let 'em only prove where I was born, I said, and I would
give it up. I was ready to be hanged, if they could only prove where I
was born. D----, but I sometimes thought I never _was_ born, at
"You are surely an American, Marble? A Manhattanese, born and
"Why, as it is not likely any person would import a child a week old,
to plant it on a tombstone, I conclude I am. Yes, I must be
_that_; and I have sometimes thought of laying claim to the
property of Trinity Church, on the strength of my birth-right. Well,
as soon as the war was over, and I got out of prison, and that was
shortly after you were born, Captain Wallingford, I went to work
regularly, and have been ever since sarving as dickey, or chief-mate,
on board of some craft or other. If I had no family bosom to go into,
as a resting-place, I had my bosom to fill with solid beef and pork,
and that is not to be done by idleness."
"And, all this time, my good friend, you have been living, as it might
be, alone in the world, without a relative of any sort?"
"As sure as you are there. Often and often, have I walked through the
streets of New York, and said to myself, Among all these people, there
is not one that I can call a relation. My blood is in no man's veins,
but my own."
This was said with a bitter sadness, that surprised me. Obdurate, and
insensible to suffering as Marble had ever appeared to me, I was not
prepared to find him giving such evidence of feeling. I was then
young, but now am old; and one of the lessons learned in the years
that have intervened, is not to judge of men by appearances. So much
sensibility is hidden beneath assumed indifference, so much suffering
really exists behind smiling countenances, and so little does the
exterior tell the true story of all that is to be found within, that I
am now slow to yield credence to the lying surfaces of things. Most of
all had I learned to condemn that heartless injustice of the world,
that renders it so prompt to decide, on rumour and conjectures,
constituting itself a judge from which there shall be no appeal, in
cases in which it has not taken the trouble to examine, and which it
had not even the power to examine evidence.
"We are all of the same family, my friend," I answered, with a good
design at least, "though a little separated by time and accidents."
"Family!--Yes, I belong to my own family. I'm a more important man in
my family, than Bonaparte is in his; for I am all in all; ancestors,
present time and posterity!"
"It is, at least, your own fault you are the last; why not marry and
"Because my parents did not set me the example," answered Marble,
almost fiercely. Then clapping his hand on my shoulder, in a friendly
way, as if to soothe me after so sharp a rejoinder, he added in a
gentler tone--"Come, Miles, the Major and his daughter will want their
breakfasts, and we had better join them. Talking of matrimony, there's
the girl for you, my boy, thrown into your arms almost nat'rally, as
one might say."
"I am far from being so sure of that. Marble." I answered, as both
began to walk slowly towards the tent "Major Merton might hot think it
an honour, in the first place, to let his daughter marry a Yankee
"Not such a one as myself, perhaps; but why not one like you? How many
generations have there been of you, now, at the place you call
"Four, from father to son, and all of us Miles Wallingfords."
"Well, the old Spanish proverb says 'it takes three generations to
make a gentleman;' and here you have four to start upon. In _my_
family, all the generations have been on the same level, and I count
myself old in my sphere."
"It is odd that a man like you should know anything of old Spanish
"What? Of _such_ a proverb, think you, Miles? A man without even
a father or mother--who never had either, as one may say--and he not
remember such a proverb! Boy, boy, I never forget anything that so
plainly recalls the tomb-stone, and the basket, and the Alms-House,
and Moses, and the names!"
"But Miss Merton might object to the present generation," I resumed,
willing to draw my companion from his bitter thoughts, "however
favourably disposed her father might prove to the last."
"That will be your own fault, then. Here you have her, but on the
Pacific Ocean, all to yourself; and if you cannot tell your own story,
and that in a way to make her believe it, you are not the lad I take
I made an evasive and laughing answer; but, being quite near the tent
by this time, it was necessary to change the discourse. The reader may
think it odd, but that was the very first time the possibility of my
marrying Emily Merton ever crossed my mind. In London, I had regarded
her as an agreeable acquaintance, with just as much of the colouring
of romance and of the sentimental about our intercourse, as is common
with youths of nineteen and girls a little younger; but as nothing
more. When we met on the island, Emily appeared to me like a friend--a
_female_ friend--and, of course, one to be viewed with peculiarly
softened feelings; still, as only a friend. During the month we had
just passed in the same ship, this tie had gradually strengthened; and
I confess to a perfect consciousness of there being on board a pretty
girl in her nineteenth year, of agreeable manners, delicate
sentiments, and one whose presence gave the Crisis a charm she
certainly never enjoyed during poor Captain Williams's time.
Notwithstanding all this, there was something--though what that
something was, I did not then know myself--which prevented me from
absolutely falling in love with my fair guest. Nevertheless, Marble's
suggestion was not unpleasant to me; but, on the other hand, it rather
conduced to the satisfaction of my present visit.
We were kindly received by our hosts, who always seemed to remember
the commencement of our acquaintance, when Marble and myself visited
them together. The breakfast had a little of the land about it; for
Mons. Le Compte's garden still produced a few vegetables, such as
lettuce, pepper-grass, radishes, &c.; most of which, however, had sown
themselves. Three or four fowls, too, that he had left on the island
in the hurry of his departure, had begun to lay; and Neb having found
a nest, we had the very unusual treat of fresh eggs. I presume no one
will deny that they were sufficiently "country-laid."
"Emily and myself consider ourselves as old residents here," the Major
observed, as he gazed around him, the table being set in the open air,
under some trees; "and I could almost find it in my heart to remain on
this beautiful island for the remainder of my days--quite, I think,
were it not for my poor girl, who might find the society of her old
father rather dull work, at her time of life."
"Well, Major," said Marble, "you have only to let your taste be known,
to have the ch'ice among all our youngsters to be her companion. There
is Mr. Talcott, a well-edicated and mannerly lad enough, and of good
connexions, they tell me; and as for Captain Wallingford here, I will
answer for _him_. My life on it, he would give up Clawbonny, and
the property on which he is the fourth of his name, to be king, or
Prince of Wales of this island, with such company!"
Now, it was Marble, and not I, who made this speech; and yet I
heartily wished it unsaid. It made me feel foolish and I dare say it
made me look foolish; and I know it caused Emily to blush. Poor girl!
she, who blushed so easily, and was so sensitive, and so delicately
situated--she was entitled to have more respect paid to her
feelings. The Major and Marble, however, took it all very coolly,
continuing the discourse as if nothing out of the way had been said.
"No doubt--no doubt," answered the first; "romance always finds
votaries among young people, and this place may well excite romantic
feelings in those who are older than these young men. Do you know,
gentlemen, that ever since I have known this island, I have had a
strong desire to pass the remainder of my days on it? The idea I have
just mentioned to you, therefore, is by no means one of a moment's
"I am glad, at least, dear sir," observed Emily, laughing, "that the
desire has not been so strong as to induce you to make formal
proposals on the subject."
"You, indeed, are the great obstacle; for what could I do with a
discontented girl, whose mind would be running on balls, theatres, and
other amusements? We should not have even a church."
"And, Major Merton," I put in, "what could you, or any other man, do
with _himself_, in a place like this, without companions, books,
or occupation ?"
"If a conscientious man, Miles, he might think over the past; if a
wise one, he would certainly reflect on the future. I should have
books, since Emily and I could muster several hundred volumes between
us; and, _with_ books, I should have companions. What could I
do? I should have everything to create, as it might be, and the
pleasure of seeing everything rising up under my own hand. There would
be a house to construct--the materials of that wreck to
collect--ropes, canvass, timber, tar, sugar, and divers other
valuables that are still out on the reef, or which lie scattered about
on the beach, to gather together, and save against a rainy day. Then
I would have a thought for my poultry; and possibly you might be
persuaded to leave me one or two of these pigs, of which I see the
French forgot half a dozen, in their haste to cheat the Spaniards. Oh!
I should live like a prince and be a prince _regnant_ in the
"Yes, sir, you would be captain and all hands, if that would be any
gratification; but I think you would soon weary of your government,
and be ready to abdicate."
"Perhaps so, Miles; yet the thought is pleasant to me: but for this
dear girl, it would be particularly so. I have very few relatives; the
nearest I have being, oddly enough, your own country-people,
gentlemen. My mother was a native of Boston, where my father, a
merchant, married her; and I came very near being a Yankee myself,
having been born but a week after my parents landed in England. On my
father's side, I have not five recognised relatives, and they are
rather distant; while those on my mother's are virtually all
strangers. Then I never owned a foot of this earth on which we live,
in my life--"
"Nor I," interrupted Marble, with emphasis.
"My father was a younger son; and younger sons in England are
generally lack-lands. My life has been such, and, I may add, my means
such, that I have never been in the way of purchasing even enough
earth to bury me in; and here, you see, is an estate that can be had
for asking. How much land do you fancy there is in this island,
gentlemen? I mean, apart from the beach, the sands and rocks; but
such as has grass, and bears trees--ground that might be tilled, and
rendered productive, without much labour?"
"A hundred thousand acres," exclaimed Marble, whose calculation was
received with a general laugh.
"It seems rather larger to me, sir," I answered, "than the farm at
Clawbonny. Perhaps there may be six or eight hundred acres of the sort
of land you mention; though the whole island must contain several
thousands--possibly four, or five."
"Well, four or five thousand acres of land make a good estate--but, as
I see Emily is getting frightened, and is nervous under the
apprehension of falling heir to such extensive possessions, I will say
no more about them."
No more _was_ said, and we finished our breakfasts, conversing of
the past, rather than of the future. The Major and Marble went to
stroll along the groves, in the direction of the wreck; while I
persuaded Emily to put on her hat and stroll--the other way.
"This is a singular notion of my father's," my fair companion
remarked, after a moment of musing; "nor is it the first time, I do
assure you, on which he has mentioned it. While we were here before,
he spoke of it daily."
"The scheme might do well enough for two ardent lovers," said I,
laughing; "but would scarcely be Wise for an elderly gentleman and his
daughter. I can imagine that two young people, warmly attached to each
other, might get along in such a place for a year or two, without
hanging themselves; but I fancy even love would tire out, after a
while, and they would set about building a boat, in which to be off."
"You are not very romantic, I perceive, Mr. Wallingford," Emily
answered, and I thought a little reproachfully. "Now, I own that to
my taste, I could be happy anywhere--here, as well as in London,
surrounded by my nearest and dearest friends."
"Surrounded! Ay, that would be a very different matter. Let me have
your father, yourself, honest Marble, good Mr. Hardinge, Rupert, dear,
dear Grace, and Lucy, with Neb and some others of my own blacks, and I
should ask no better home. The island is only in twenty, has plenty of
shade some delicious fruits, and Would be easily tilled--one might do
here, I acknowledge, and it would be pleasant to found a colony."
"And who are all these people you love so well, Mr. Wallingford, that
their presence would make a desert island pleasant?"
"In the first place, Major Merton is a half-pay officer in the British
service, who has been appointed to some civil station in India"--I
answered, gallantly. "He is a respectable, agreeable, well-informed
gentleman, a little turned of fifty, who might act as Judge and
Chancellor. Then he has a daughter--"
"I know more of her and her bad qualities than you do yourself,
_Sire_--but who are Rupert, and Grace, and Lucy--_dear,
dear_ Grace, especially?"
"Dear, _dearest_ Grace, Madam, is my sister--my _only_
sister--all the sister I ever can have, either by marriage, or any
other means, and sisters are usually _dear_ to young men, I
"Well--I knew you had a sister, and a _dear_ sister, but I also
knew you had but one. Now as to Rupert--"
"He is not another sister, you may be well assured. I have mentioned
to you a friend from childhood, who went to sea with me, at first,
but, disliking the business, has since commenced the study of the
"That, then, is Rupert. I remember some such touches of his character,
but did not know the name. Now, proceed on to the next--"
"What, Neb!--You know _him_ almost as well as I do myself. He is
yonder feeding the chickens, and will save his passage money."
"But you spoke of another--that is--was there not a Mr.--, Hardinge
was the name, I think?"
"Oh! true--I forgot Mr. Hardinge and Lucy, though they would be two of
the most important of the colonists. Mr. Hardinge is my guardian, and
will continue to be so a few months longer, and Lucy is his
daughter--Rupert's sister--the old gentleman is a clergyman, and would
help us to keep Sundays as one should, and might perform the marriage
ceremony, should it ever be required."
"Not much danger of that, I fancy, on your _desert_ island--your
Barrataria"--observed Miss Merton, quickly.
I cannot explain the sensitiveness of certain young ladies on such
points, unless it be through their consciousness. Now, had I been
holding this idle talk with Lucy, the dear, honest creature would have
laughed, blushed ever so little, possibly, and nodded her head in
frank assent; or, perhaps, she would have said "oh! certainly," in a
way to show that she had no desire to affect so silly a thing as to
wish one to suppose she thought young people would not get married at
Marble Land, as well as Clawbonny, or New York. Miss Merton, however,
saw fit to change the discourse, which soon turned on her father's
health. On this subject she was natural and full of strong
affection. She was anxious to get the Major out of the warm
latitudes. His liver had been touched in the West Indies, but he had
hoped that he was cured, or he never would have accepted the Bombay
appointment. Experience, however, was giving reason to suspect the
contrary, and Emily wished him in a cold climate as soon as possible,
and that with an earnestness that showed she regarded all that had
been said about the island as sheer pleasantry. We continued the
conversation for an hour when, returning to the tent, I left my fair
companion with a promise to be as active as possible, in order to
carry the ship into a higher latitude. Still I did not deem the island
a particularly dangerous place, notwithstanding its position; the
trades and sea breezes, with its ample shades, rendering the spot one
of the most delightful tropical abodes I had ever been in.
After quitting Emily, I went to join Marble, who was alone, pacing a
spot beneath the trees, that poor Le Compte had worn into a path, and
which he had himself called his "quarter-deck."
"This Major Merton is a sensible man, Miles," the ex-mate began, as
soon as I dropped in alongside of him, and joined in his semi-trot; "a
downright, sensible sort of a philosopher-like man, accordin' to my
"What has he been telling you, now, that has seized your fancy so much
stronger than common?"
"Why, I was thinking of this idee of his, to remain on the island, and
pass the remainder of the v'y'ge here, without slaving day and night
to get up two or three rounds of the ladder of promotion, only to fall
"And did the Major speak of such things? I know of no disappointments
of his, to sour him with the world."
"I was not speaking for Major Merton, but for myself, Miles. To tell
you the truth, boy, this idee seems just suited to me, and I have
almost made up my mind to remain behind, here, when you sail."
I looked at Marble with astonishment; the subject on which the Major
had spoken in pleasantry, rather than with any real design of carrying
his project into execution, was one that my old messmate regarded
seriously! I had noted the attention with which he listened to our
discourse, during breakfast, and the strong feeling with which he
spoke at the time, but had no notion of the cause of either. I knew
the man too well, not to understand, at once, that he was in sober
earnest, and had too much experience of his nature, not to foresee the
greatest difficulty in turning him from his purpose. I understood the
true motive to be professional mortification at all that occurred
since he had succeeded Captain Williams in command; for Marble was
much too honest and too manly, to think for a moment of concealing his
own misfortunes behind the mantle offered by my success.
"You have not thought of this matter sufficiently, my friend," I
answered, evasively, knowing the folly of attempting to laugh the
matter off--"when you have slept on it a night, you will see things
"I fancy not, Miles. Here is all I want, and just what I want. After
you have taken away everything that can be required for the vessels,
or desirable to the owners, there will be enough left to keep me a
"It is not on account of food, that I speak--the island alone in its
fruits, fish and birds, to say nothing as to the seeds, and fowls, and
pigs, we could leave you, would be sufficient to keep fifty men; but,
think of the solitude, the living without object, the chances of
sickness--the horrible death that would follow to one unable to rise
and assist himself, and all the other miseries of being alone. Depend
on it, man was not created to live alone. Society is indispensable to
"I have thought of it all, and find it entirely to my taste. I tell
you, Miles, I should be exactly in my sphere, in this island, and that
as a hermit. I do not say I should not like _some_ company, if it
could be yourself, or Talcott, or the Major, or even Neb; but no
company is better than bad; and as for asking, or _allowing_ any
one to stay with me, it is out of the question. I did, at first, think
of keeping the Sandwich Islanders; but it would be bad faith, and they
would not be likely to remain quiet, after the ship had sailed. No, I
will remain alone. You will probably report the island when you get
home, and that will induce some vessel, which may be passing near, to
look for me, so I shall hear of you all, every four or five years."
"Gracious heaven! Marble, you cannot be serious in so mad a design?"
"Just look at my situation, Miles, and decide for yourself. I am
without a friend on earth--I mean nat'ral friend--I know what sort of
friend you are, and parting with you will be the toughest of all--but
I have not a relation on the wide earth--no property, no home no one
to wish to see me return, not even a cellar to lay my head in. To me
all places are alike, with the exception of this, which, having
discovered, I look upon as my own."
"You have a _country_, Marble; and that is the next thing to
family and home--overshadows all."
"Ay, and I'll have a country here. This will be America, having been
discovered by Americans, and in their possession. You will leave me
the buntin', and I'll show the stars and stripes of a 4th of July,
just as you will show 'em, in some other part of the world. I was born
Yankee, at least, and I'll die Yankee, I've sailed under that flag,
boy, ever since the year '77, and will not sail under another you may
depend on it."
"I never could justify myself to the laws for leaving a man behind me
in such a place."
"Then I'll run, and that will make all right. But, you know well
enough, boy, that leaving a captain is one thing, and leaving a man
"And what shall I tell all your acquaintances, those who have sailed
with you so often and so long, has become of their old ship-mate?"
"Tell 'em that the man who was once _found_, is now _lost_,"
answered Marble, bitterly. "But I am not such a fool as to think
myself of so much importance as you seem to imagine. The only persons
who will consider the transaction of any interest will be the
newspaper gentry, and they will receive it only as _news_, and
thank you about half as much as they would for a murder, or a robbery,
or the poisoning of a mother and six little children."
"I think, after all, you would scarcely find the means of supporting
yourself," I added, looking round in affected doubt; for I felt, at
each instant, how likely my companion was to adhere to his notion, and
this from knowing him so well. "I doubt if the cocoa is healthy, all
the year round, and there must be seasons when the trees do not bear."
"Have no fear of that sort. I have my own fowling-piece, and you will
leave me a musket, or two, with some ammunition. Transient vessels,
now the island is known, will keep up the supply. There are two hens
setting, at this moment, and a third has actually hatched. Then one of
the men tells me there is a litter of pigs, near the mouth of the
bay. As for the hogs and the poultry, the shell-fish and berries will
keep them; but there are fifteen hogsheads of sugar on the beach,
besides thirty or forty more in the wreck, and all above water. There
are casks of beans and peas, the sea-stores of the French, besides
lots of other things. I can plant, and fish, and shoot, and make a
fence from the ropes of the wreck, and have a large garden, and all
that a man can want. Our own poultry, you know, has long been out; but
there is still a bushel of Indian-corn left, that was intended for
their feed. One quart of that, will make me a rich man, in such a
climate as this, and with soil like that on the flat between the two
groves. I own a chest of tools, and am, ship-fashion, both a tolerable
carpenter and blacksmith; and I do not see that I shall want for
anything. You _must_ leave half the things that are scattered
about, and so far from being a man to be pitied, I shall be a man to
be envied. Thousands of wretches in the greatest thoroughfares of
London, would gladly exchange their crowded streets and poverty, for
my solitude and abundance."
I began to think Marble was not in a state of mind to reason with, and
changed the subject. The day passed in recreation, as had been
intended; and next morning we set about filling up the schooner. We
struck in all the copper, all the English goods, and such portions of
the Frenchman's cargo as would be most valuable in America. Marble,
however, had announced to others his determination to remain behind,
to abandon the seas, and to turn hermit. As his first step, he gave
up the command of the Pretty Poll, and I was obliged to restore her,
again, to our old third-mate, who was every way competent to take care
of her. At the end of the week, the schooner was ready, and despairing
of getting Marble off in _her_, I ordered her to sail for home,
via Cape Horn; giving especial instructions not to attempt Magellan. I
wrote to the owners, furnishing an outline of all that had occurred,
and of my future plans, simply remarking that Mr. Marble had declined
acting out of motives of delicacy, since the re-capture of the ship;
and that, in future, their interests must remain in my care. With
these despatches the schooner sailed. Marble and I watched her until
her sails became a white speck on the ocean, after which she suddenly
As for the ship, she was all ready; and my only concern now was in
relation to Marble. I tried the influence of Major Merton; but,
unfortunately, that gentleman had already said too much in favour of
our friend's scheme, in ignorance of its effect, to gain much credit
when he turned round, and espoused the other side. The arguments of
Emily failed, also. In fact, it was not reason, but feeling that
governed Marble; and, in a bitter hour, he had determined to pass the
remainder of his days where he was. Finding all persuasion useless,
and the season approaching when the winds rendered it necessary to
sail, I was compelled to yield, or resort to force. The last I was
reluctant to think of; nor was I certain the men would have obeyed me
had I ordered them to use it. Marble had been their commander so long,
that he might, at any moment, have re-assumed the charge of the ship;
and it was not probable his orders would have been braved under any
circumstances that did not involve illegality, or guilt. After a
consultation with the Major, I found it necessary to yield to this
whim, though I did so with greater reluctance than I ever experienced
on any other occasion.
"Pass on relentless world! I grieve
No more for all that thou hast riven!
Pass on, in God's name--only leave
The things thou never yet hast given.--"
After every means had been uselessly exhausted to persuade Marble from
his design, it only remained to do all we could to make him
comfortable and secure. Of enemies, there was no danger, and care was
not necessary for defence. We got together, however, some of the
timber, planks and other materials, that were remaining at the
shipyard, and built him a cabin, that offered much better shelter
against the tropical storms that sometimes prevailed, than any tent
could yield. We made this cabin as wide as a plank is long, or twelve
feet, and some five or six feet longer. It was well sided and tightly
roofed, having three windows and a door. The lights of the wreck
supplied the first, and her cabin-door the last. We had hinges, and
everything that was necessary to keep things in their place. There was
no chimney required, fire being unnecessary for warmth in that
climate; but the French had brought their camboose from the wreck, and
this we placed under a proper covering at a short distance from the
hut, the strength of one man being insufficient to move it. We also
enclosed, by means of ropes, and posts made of the ribs of the wreck,
a plot of ground of two acres in extent, where the land was the
richest and unshaded, so as to prevent the pigs from injuring the
vegetables; and, poor Marble knowing little of gardening, I had a
melancholy pleasure in seeing the whole piece dug, or rather hoed up,
and sown and planted myself, before we sailed. We put in corn,
potatoes, peas, beans, lettuce, radishes, and several other things, of
which we found the seeds in the French garden. We took pains,
moreover, to transport from the wreck, many articles that it was
thought might prove of use, though they were too heavy for Marble to
handle. As there were near forty of us, all busy in this way for three
or four days, we effected a great deal, and may be said to have got
the island in order. I felt the same interest in the duty, that I
should in bestowing a child for life.
Marble, himself, was not much among us all this time. He rather
complained that I should leave him nothing to do, though I could see
he was touched by the interest we manifested in his welfare. The
French launch had been used as the means of conveyance between the
wreck and the beach, and we found it where it had been left by its
original owners, anchored to-leeward of the island, and abreast of the
ship. It was the last thing I meddled with and it was my care to put
it in such a state that, at need, it might be navigated across that
tranquil sea, to some other island, should Marble feel a desire to
abandon his solitude. The disposition I made of the boat was as
The launch was large and coppered, and it carried two lug-sails. I had
both masts stepped, with the yards, sails, sheets, &c. prepared, and
put in their places; a stout rope was next carried round the entire
boat, outside, and a few inches below the gunwale, where it was
securely nailed. From this rope, led a number of lanyards, with eyes
turned into their ends. Through these eyes I rove a sort of
ridge-rope, leading it also through the eyes of several stancheons
that were firmly stepped on the thwarts. The effect, when the
ridge-rope was set up, was to give the boat the protection of this
waist-cloth, which inclined inboard, however, sufficiently to leave an
open passage between the two sides, of only about half the beam of the
boat. To the ridge-rope and lanyards, I had tarpaulins firmly
attached, tacking their lower edges strongly to the outer sides of the
boat. By this arrangement, when all was in its place, and properly
secured, a sea might break, or a wave slap against the boat, without
her taking in much water. It doubled her security in this particular,
more than answering the purposes of a half-deck and wash-board. It is
true, a very heavy wave might carry all away; but very heavy waves
would probably fill the boat, under any circumstances. Such a craft
could only find safety in her buoyancy; and we made her as safe as an
undecked vessel very well could be.
Marble watched me while I was superintending these changes in the
boat, with a good deal of interest; and one evening--I had announced
an intention to sail next morning, the Major and Emily having actually
gone on board--that evening, he got my arm, and led me away from the
spot, like a man who has urgent business. I could see that he was much
affected, and had strong hopes he intended to announce a change of
purpose. His hand actually trembled, the whole time it grasped my arm.
"God bless you! Miles--God bless you, dear boy!" he said, speaking
with difficulty, as soon as we were out of earshot from the
others. "If any being could make me pine for the world, it would be
such a friend as you. I could live on without father or mother,
brother or sister, ship or confidence of my owners, good name even,
were I sure of meeting such a lad as yourself in only every thousandth
man I fell in with. But, young as you are, you know how it is with
mankind; and no more need be said about it. All I ask now is, that you
will knock off with this 'making him comfortable,' as you call it, or
you'll leave me nothing to do for myself. I can fit out that boat as
well as e'er a man in the Crisis, I'd have you to know."
"I am well aware of that, my friend; but I am not so certain that you
_would._ In that boat, I am in hopes you will follow us out to
sea, and come on board again, and take your old place as master."
Marble shook his head, and I believe he saw by my manner that I had no
serious expectations of the sort I named. We walked some distance
farther, in silence, before he again spoke. Then he said suddenly, and
in a way to show how much his mind was troubled--
"Miles, my dear fellow, you must let me hear from you!"
"Hear from me! By what means, pray? You cannot expect the
Postmaster-General will make a mail-route between New York and this
"Poh! I'm getting old, and losing my memory. I was generalizing on
friendship, and the like of that, and the idee ran away with me. I
know, of course, when you are out of sight, that I shall be cut off
from the rest of the world--probably shall never see a human face
again. But what of that? My time cannot be long now, and I shall have
the fish, fowls and pigs to talk to. To tell you the truth, Miles.
Miss Merton gave me her own Bible yesterday, and, at my request, she
pointed out that part which gives the account about Moses in the
bulrushes, and I've just been looking it over: it is easy enough, now,
to understand why I was called Moses."
"But Moses did not think it necessary to go and live in a desert, or
on an uninhabited island, merely because he was found in those
_"That_ Moses had no occasion to be ashamed of his parents. It
was fear, not shame, that sent him adrift. Nor did Moses ever let a
set of lubberly Frenchmen seize a fine, stout ship, like the Crisis,
with a good, able-bodied crew of forty men on board her."
"Come, Marble, you have too much sense to talk in this manner. It is,
fortunately, not too late to change your mind; and I will let it be
understood that you did so at my persuasion."
This was the commencement of a final effort on my part to induce my
friend to abandon his mad project. We conversed quite an hour, until I
had exhausted my breath, as well as my arguments, indeed; and all
without the least success. I pointed out to him the miserable plight
he must be in, in the event of illness; but it was an argument that
had no effect on a man who had never had even a headach in his
life. As for society, he cared not a straw for it when ashore, he
often boasted; and he could not yet appreciate the effects of total
solitude. Once or twice, remarks escaped him as if he thought it
possible I might one day return; but they were ventured in pleasantry,
rather than with any appearance of seriousness. I could see that the
self-devoted hermit had his misgivings, but I could obtain no verbal
concession from him to that effect. He was reminded that the ship must
positively sail next day, since it would not do to trifle with the
interests of the owners any longer.
"I know it, Miles," Marble answered, "and no more need be said on the
subject. Your people are through with their work, and here comes Neb
to report the boat ready to go off. I shall try my hand ashore
to-night, alone; in the morning, I suppose you would like to take an
old shipmate by the hand for the last time, and you will nat'rally
look for me at the water-side. Good-night! Before we part, however, I
may as well thank you for the supply of clothes I see you have put in
my hut. It was scarcely wanted, as I have enough needles and thread to
supply a slop-shop; and the old duck left by the French will keep me
in jackets and trowsers for the remainder of my days. Good-night, my
dear boy! God bless you--God bless you!"
It was nearly dark, but I could see that Marble's eyes looked moist,
and feel that his hand again trembled. I left him, not without the
hope that the solitude of this night, the first in which he had been
left by himself, would have the effect to lessen his desire to be a
hermit. When I turned in, it was understood that all hands were to be
called at daylight, and the ship unmoored.
Talcott came to call me, at the indicated moment. I had made him
chief-mate, and taken one of the Philadelphians for second officer; a
young man who had every requisite for the station, and one more than
was necessary, or a love of liquor. But, drunkards do tolerably well
on board a ship in which reasonable discipline is maintained. For that
matter, Neptune ought to be a profound moralist, as youths are very
generally sent to sea to cure most of the ethical flings. Talcott was
directed to unmoor, and heave short. As for myself, I got into a boat
and pulled ashore, with an intention of making a last and strong
appeal to Marble.
No one was visible on the island when we reached it. The pigs and
fowls were already in motion, however, and were gathering near the
door of the hut, where Marble was accustomed to feed them about that
hour; the fowls on _sugar_, principally. I proceeded to the door,
opened it, entered the place, and found it empty! Its late inmate was
then up, and abroad. He had probably passed a sleepless night, and
sought relief in the fresh air of the morning. I looked for him in the
adjacent grove, on the outer beach, and in most of his usual
haunts. He was nowhere visible. A little vexed at having so long a
walk before me, at a moment when we were so much pressed for time, I
was about to follow the grove to a distant part of the island, to a
spot that I knew Marble frequented a good deal, when moody; but my
steps were arrested by an accidental glance at the lagoon. I missed
the Frenchman's launch, or the boat I had: myself caused to be rigged
with so much care, the previous day, for the intended hermit's
especial advantage. This was a large boat; one that had been
constructed to weigh a heavy anchor; and I had left her, moored
between a grapnel and the shore, so securely, as to forbid the idea
she could have been moved, in so quiet a time, without the aid of
hands. Rushing to the water, I got into my own boat, and pulled
directly on board.
On reaching the ship, a muster of all hands was ordered. The result
proved that everybody was present, and at duty. It followed that
Marble, alone, had carried the boat out of the lagoon. The men who had
had the anchor-watches during the past night, were questioned on the
subject; but no one had seen or heard anything of a movement in the
launch. Mr. Talcott was told to continue his duty, while I went aloft
myself, to look at the offing. I was soon in the main-top-mast
cross-trees, where a view was commanded of the whole island, a few
covers excepted, of all the water within the reef, and of a wide range
without. Nowhere was the boat or Marble to be seen. It was barely
possible that he had concealed himself behind the wreck, though I did
not see how even this could be done, unless he had taken the
precaution to strike the launch's masts.
By this time, our last anchor was aweigh, and the ship was clear of
the bottom. The top-sails had been hoisted before I went aloft, and
everything was now ready for filling away. Too anxious to go on deck,
under such circumstances, and a lofty position being the best for
ascertaining the presence of rocks, I determined to remain where I
was, and conn the ship through the passes, in my own person. An order
was accordingly given to set the jib, and to swing the head-yards, and
get the spanker on the ship. In a minute, the Crisis was again in
motion, moving steadily towards the inlet. As the lagoon was not
entirely free from danger, coral rocks rising in places quite near the
surface of the water, I was obliged to be attentive to the pilot's
duty, until we got into the outer bay, when this particular danger in
a great measure disappeared. I could then look about me with more
freedom. Though we so far changed our position, as respected the
wreck, as to open new views of it, no launch was to be seen behind
it. By the time the ship reached the passage through the reef, I had
little hope of finding it there.
We had got to be too familiar with the channels, to have any
difficulty in taking the ship through them; and we were soon fairly to
windward of the reef. Our course, however, lay to leeward; and we
passed round the southern side of the rocks, under the same easy
canvass, until we got abreast, and within half a cable's length of the
wreck. To aid my own eyes, I had called up Talcott and Neb; but
neither of us could obtain the least glimpse of the launch. Nothing
was to be seen about the wreck; though I took the precaution to send a
boat to it. All was useless. Marble had gone out to sea, quite alone,
in the Frenchman's launch; and, though twenty pairs of eyes were now
aloft, no one could even fancy that he saw anything in the offing,
that resembled a boat.
Talcott and myself had a private interview on the subject of Marble's
probable course. My mate was of opinion, that our friend had made the
best of his way for some of the inhabited islands, unwilling to remain
here, when it came to the pinch, and yet ashamed to rejoin us. I could
hardly believe this; in such a case, I thought he would have waited
until we had sailed; when he might have left the island also, and
nobody been the wiser. To this Talcott answered that Marble probably
feared our importunities; possibly, compulsion. It seemed singular to
me, that a man who regretted his hasty decision, should adopt such a
course; and yet I was at a loss to explain the matter much more to my
own satisfaction. Nevertheless, there was no remedy. We were as much
in the dark as it was possible to be with a knowledge of the
circumstance that the bird had flown.
We hovered around the reef for several hours, most of which time I
passed in the cross-trees, and some of it on the royal-yard. Once, I
thought I saw a small speck on the ocean, dead to windward, that
resembled a boat's sail; but there were so many birds flying about,
and glancing beneath the sun's rays, that I was reluctantly compelled
to admit it was probably one of them. At meridian, therefore, I gave
the order to square away, and to make sail on our course. This was
done with the greatest reluctance, however, and not without a good
deal of vaciliation of purpose. The ship moved away from the land
rapidly, and by two o'clock, the line of cocoa-nut trees that fringed
the horizon astern, sunk entirely beneath the rolling margin of our
view. From that moment, I abandoned the expectation of ever seeing
Moses Marble again, though the occurrence left all of us sad, for
Major Merton and his daughter were on the poop, nearly the whole of
this morning. Neither interfered in the least; for the old soldier was
too familiar with discipline to venture an opinion concerning the
management of the ship. When we met at dinner, however, the
conversation naturally turned on the disappearance of our old friend.
"It is a thousand pities that pride should have prevented Marble from
acknowledging his mistake," observed the Major, "and thus kept him
from getting a safe passage to Canton, where he might have left you,
and joined another ship had he thought it necessary."
"Where we shall do the same thing, I suppose, dear sir," added Emily,
with a manner that I thought marked, "and thus relieve Captain
Wallingford from the encumbrance of our presence."
"Me!--call your delightful society anything but an enumbrance, I beg
of you, Miss Merton," I rejoined in haste.
"Now, that Mr. Le Compte has furnished this comfortable cabin, and you
are no longer at any inconvenience to yourselves, I would not be
deprived of the advantage and pleasure of this association, for more
than I dare mention."
Emily looked gratified; while her father appeared to me to be
thoughtful. After a brief pause, however, the Major resumed the
"I should certainly feel myself bound to make many apologies for the
trouble we are giving," he said, "especially, since I understand from
Wallingford, he will not accept, either for himself or his owners,
anything like compensation even for the food we consume, were it not
that we are here by constraint, and not by any agency of our own. As
soon as we reach Canton, however, I shall feel it a duty to get on
board the first English ship that will receive us."
I stole a glance at Emily, but could not understand the expression of
her countenance, as she heard this announcement. Of course, I made an
earnest protest against the Major's doing anything of the sort; and
yet I could not well find any sufficient reason for urging him to
remain where he was, beyond my own gratification. I could not go to
either England, or Bombay; and I took it for granted Major Merton
wished to proceed, at once, to one, if not to both of these places. We
conversed, a little generally perhaps, on the subject for some time
longer; and when I left the cabin, it struck me, Emily's melancholy
had, in no degree, lessened.
It is a long road to traverse over half of the Pacific. Weeks and
weeks were thus occupied; Talcott and myself profiting by every
suitable occasion, to enjoy the advantages of the association chance
had thus thrown in our way. I make no doubt I was greatly benefited by
my constant communications with the Mertons; the Major being a
cultivated, though not a particularly brilliant, man; while I conceive
it to be utterly impossible for two young men, of our time of life and
profession, to be daily, almost hourly, in the company of a young
woman like Emily Merton, without losing some of the peculiar roughness
of the sea, and getting, in its place, some small portion of the
gentler qualities of the saloon. I date a certain _a plomb_, an
absence of shyness in the company of females, from this habitual
intercourse with one of the sex who had, herself, been carefully
educated in the conventionalities of respectable, if not of very
elegant or sophisticated society.
At length we reached the China seas, and falling in to windward, we
made a quick run to Canton. It now became necessary for me to attend
to the ship and the interests of my owners; suffering my passengers to
land at Whampoa, with the understanding we were to meet before either
party sailed. I soon disposed of the sandal-wood and skins, and found
no difficulty in procuring teas, nankins, china-ware, and the other
articles pointed out, in the instructions to poor Captain Williams. I
profited by the occasion, also, to make certain purchases on my own
account, that I had a presentiment would be particularly agreeable to
the future mistress of Clawbonny, let that lady turn out to be
whomsoever she might. The dollars obtained on the west coast of South
America enabled me to do this; my instructions giving the necessary
authority to use a few of them on private account. My privilege as
master rendered all proper.
In a word, the residence of six or eight weeks at Canton, proved a
very advantageous affair for those whose money was embarked in the
Crisis. Sandal-wood and sea-otter skins brought particularly high
prices; while teas, and the manufactures of the country, happened to
be low. I had no merit in this; not a particle; and yet I reaped the
advantage, so far as advantage was connected with the mere reputation
of the voyage; success being of nearly as great account in commerce,
as in war. It is true, I worked like a dog; for I worked under an
entirely novel sense of responsibility, and with a feeling I am
certain that could never have oppressed me in the care of my own
property; and I deserved some portion of the credit subsequently
obtained. At all events, I was heartily rejoiced when the hatches
were on, and the ship was once more ready for sea.
It now became a duty, as well as a pleasure, to seek Major Merton,
whom I had seen but once or twice during the last two months. He had
passed that time at Whampao, while I had been either at the factories,
or on board. The Major was occupied when I called; and Emily received
me alone. When she learned that I was ready to sail for home, and had
come to take my leave, it was easy to see that she was uneasy, if not
distressed. I felt unhappy at parting too, and perhaps I had less
scruple about saying as much.
"God only knows, Miss Merton, whether we are ever to be permitted to
see each other again," I remarked, after the preliminary explanations
had been made.
The reader will remember that I am now an old man, and that vanity no
longer has any of that influence over me which it might be supposed to
possess over one of more juvenile hopes and feelings; that I relate
facts, without reference to their effect on myself, beyond the general
salvo of some lingering weaknesses of humanity. I trust, therefore, I
shall be understood in all my necessary allusions to the estimation in
which I was apparently held by others. Emily fairly started when I
made this remark concerning the probable duration of the approaching
separation, and the colour left her cheek. Her pretty white hand
shook, so that she had difficulty in using her needle; and there was