Part 5 out of 11
"At last old Brandy died, and of course I had to look out for the
family. They seemed thrown on my hands, you know, and I was too good-
natured to let them suffer, although they treated me so abominably. The
best thing I could think of was to ship them all off to America, where
they could all get rich. So I took them to Liverpool."
"Did they want to go?"
"They didn't seem to have an idea in their heads. They looked and acted
just like three born fools."
"I let a friend of mine see about them, as I had considerable to do, and
he got them a passage."
"I suppose you paid their way out."
"I did, Sir," said Potts, with an air of munificence; "but, between you
and me, it didn't cost much."
"I should think it most have cost a considerable sum."
"Oh no! Clark saw to that. Clark got them places as steerage
"Young Brandon told me once that he came out as cabin passenger."
"That's his cursed pride. He went out in the steerage, and a devilish
hard time he had too."
"Oh, he was a little crowded, I think! There were six hundred emigrants
on board the _Tecumseh_--"
"The _Tecumseh_. Clark did that business neatly. Each passenger had
to take his own provisions, so he supplied them with a lot. Now what do
you think he gave them?"
"I can't imagine."
"He bought them some damaged bread at one quarter the usual price. It
was all mouldy, you know," said Potts, trying to make Brandon see the
joke. "I declare Clark and I roared over it for a couple of months,
thinking how surprised they must have been when they sat down to eat
their first dinner."
"That was very neat," rejoined Brandon.
"They were all sick when they left," said Potts; "but before they got to
Quebec they were sicker, I'll bet."
"Did you ever hear of the ship-fever?" said Potts, in a low voice which
sent a sharp trill through every fibre of Brandon's being. He could only
nod his head.
"Well, the _Tecumseh_, with her six hundred passengers, afforded an
uncommon fine field for the ship-fever. That's what I was going to
observe. They had a great time at Quebec last summer; but it was
unanimously voted that the _Tecumseh_ was the worst ship of the
lot. I send out an agent to see what had become of my three friends, and
he came back and told me all. He said that about four hundred of the
_Tecumseh's_ passengers died during the voyage, and ever so many
more after the landing. The obtained a list of the dead from the
quarantine records, and among them were those of the these three
youthful Brandons. Yes, they joined old Cognac pretty soon--lovely and
pleasant in their lives, and in death not divided. But this young devil
that you speak of must have escaped. I dare say he did, for the
confusion was awful."
"But couldn't there have been another son?"
"Oh no. There was another son, the eldest, the worst of the whole lot,
so infernally bad that even old Brandy himself couldn't stand it, but
packed him off to Botany Bay. It's well he went of his own accord, for
if he hadn't the law would have sent him there at last transported for
"Perhaps this man is the same one."
"Oh no. This eldest Brandy is dead."
"Are you sure?"
"Certain--best authority. A business friend of mine was in the same ship
with him. Brandy was coming home to see his friends. He fell overboard
and my friend saw him drown. It was in the Indian Ocean."
"When was that?"
"Oh, then this one must be the other of course!"
"No doubt of that, I think," said Potts, cheerily.
Brandon rose. "I feel much obliged. Sir John," said he, stiffly, and
with his usual nasal tone, "for your kindness. This is just what I want.
I'll put a stop to my young man's game. It's worth coming to England to
find out this."
"Well, when you walk him out of your office, give him my respects and
tell him I'd be very happy to see him. For I would, you know. I really
"I'll tell him so," said Brandon, "and if he is alive perhaps he'll come
"Ha! ha! ha!" roared Potts.
"Ha! ha!" laughed Brandon, and pretending not to see Potts's
outstretched hand, he bowed and left. He walked rapidly down the avenue.
He felt stifled. The horrors that had been revealed to him had been but
in part anticipated. Could there be any thing worse?
He left the gates and walked quickly away, he knew not where. Turning
into a by-path he went up a hill and finally sat down. Brandon Hall lay
not far away. In front was the village and the sea beyond it. All the
time there was but one train of thoughts in his mind. His wrongs took
shape and framed themselves into a few sharply defined ideas. He
muttered to himself over and over the things that were in his mind:
"Myself disinherited and exiled! My father ruined and broken-hearted! My
father killed! My mother, brother, and sister banished, starved, and
He, too, as far as Potts's will was concerned, had been slain. He was
alone and had no hope that any of his family could survive. Now, as he
sat there alone, he needed to make his plans for the future. One thing
stood out prominently before him, which was that he must go immediately
to Quebec to find out finally and absolutely the fate of the family.
Then could any thing else be done in England? He thought over the names
of those who had been the most intimate friends of his father--
Thornton, Langhetti, Despard. Thornton had neglected his father in his
hour of need. He had merely sent a clerk to make inquiries after all was
over. The elder Langhetti, Brandon knew, was dead. Where were the
others? None of them, at any rate, had interfered.
There remained the family of Despard. Brandon was aware that the Colonel
had a brother in the army, but where he was he knew not nor did he care.
If he chose to look in the army register he might very easily find out;
but why should he? He had never known or heard much of him in any way.
There remained Courtenay Despard, the son of Lionel, he to whom the MS.
of the dead might be considered after all as chiefly devolving. Of him
Brandon knew absolutely nothing, not even whether he was alive or dead.
For a time he discussed the question in his mind whether it might not be
well to seek him out so as to show him his father's fate and gain his
co-operation. But after a few moments' consideration he dismissed this
thought. Why should he seek his help? Courtenay Despard, if alive, might
be very unfit for the purpose. He might be timid, or indifferent, or
dull, or indolent. Why make any advances to one whom he did not know?
Afterward it might be well to find him, and see what might be done with
or through him; but as yet there could be no reason whatever why he
should take up his time in searching for him or in winning his
The end of it all was that he concluded whatever he did to do it by
himself, with no human being as his confidant.
Only one or two persons in all the world knew that he was alive, and
they were not capable, under any circumstances, of betraying him. And
where now was Beatrice? In the power of this man whom Brandon had just
left. Had she seen him as he came and went? Had she heard his voice as
he spoke in that assumed tone? But Brandon found it necessary to crush
down all thoughts of her.
One thing gave him profound satisfaction, and this was that Potts did
not suspect him for an instant. And now how could he deal with Potts?
The man had become wealthy and powerful. To cope with him needed wealth
and power. How could Brandon obtain these? At the utmost he could only
count upon the fifteen thousand pounds which Compton would remit. This
would be as nothing to help him against his enemy. He had written to
Compton that he had fallen overboard and been picked up, and had told
the same to the London agent under the strictest secrecy, so as to be
able to get the money which he needed. Yet after he got it all, what
would be the benefit? First of all, wealth was necessary.
Now more than ever there came to his mind the ancestral letter which his
father had inclosed to him--the message from old Ralph Brandon in the
treasure-ship. It was a wild, mad hope; but was it unattainable? This he
felt was now the one object that lay before him; this must first be
sought after, and nothing else could be attempted or even thought of
till it had been tried. If he failed, then other things might be
Sitting there on his lonely height, in sight of his ancestral home, he
took out his father's last letter and read it again, after which he once
more read the old message from the treasure-ship:
"One league due northe of a smalle islet northe of the Islet of Santa
Cruz northe of San Salvador----I Ralphe Brandon in my shippe Phoenix am
becalmed and surrounded by a Spanish fleete----My shippe is filled with
spoyle the Plunder of III galleons----wealth which myghte purchase a
kyngdom-tresure equalle to an Empyr's revenue----Gold and jeweles in
countless store----and God forbydde that itt shall falle into the hands
of the Enemye----I therefore Ralphe Brandon out of mine owne good wyl
and intente and that of all my men sink this shippe rather than be taken
alyve----I send this by my trusty seaman Peter Leggit who with IX others
tolde off by lot will trye to escape in the Boate by nighte----If this
cometh haply into the hands of my sonne Philip let him herebye knowe
that in this place is all this tresure----which haply may yet be gatherd
from the sea----the Islet is knowne by III rockes that be pushed up like
III needles from the sande.
Five days afterward Brandon, with his Hindu servant, was sailing out of
the Mersey River on his way to Quebec.
THE DEAD ALIVE.
It was early in the month of August when Brandon visited the quarantine
station at Gosse Island, Quebec. A low, wooden building stood near the
landing, with a sign over the door containing only the word "OFFICE." To
this building Brandon directed his steps. On entering he saw only one
"Are you the superintendent?" he asked, bowing courteously.
"No," said the clerk. "He is in Quebec just now."
"Perhaps you can give me the information that I want."
"What is it?"
"I have been sent to inquire after some passengers that came out here
"Oh yes, I can tell all that can be told," said the clerk, readily. "We
have the registration books here, and you are at liberty to look up any
names you wish. Step this way, please." And he led the way to an inner
"What year did they come out in?" asked the clerk.
"Last year--an awful year to look up. 1846--yes, here is the book for
that year--a year which you are aware was an unparalleled one."
"I have heard so."
"Do you know the name of the ship?"
"The _Tecumseh_!" exclaimed the clerk, with a startled look. "That
is an awful name in our records. I am sorry you have not another name to
examine, for the _Tecumseh_ was the worst of all."
"The _Tecumseh_," continued the clerk, turning over the leaves of
the book as it lay on the desk. "The _Tecumseh_, from Liverpool,
sailed June 2, arrived August 16. Here you see the names of those who
died at sea, copied from the ship's books, and those who died on shore.
It is a frightful mortality. Would you like to look over the list?"
Brandon bowed and advanced to the desk.
"The deaths on board ship show whether they were seamen or passengers,
and the passengers are marked as cabin and steerage. But after landing
it was impossible to keep an account of classes."
Brandon carefully ran his eye down the long list, and read each name.
Those for which he looked did not appear. At last he came to the list of
those who had died on shore. After reading a few names his eye was
arrested by one--
It was his mother. He read on. He soon came to another--
"_Brandon, Edith_." It was his sister.
"Do you find any of the names?" asked the clerk, seeing Brandon turn his
"Yes," said Brandon; "this is one," and he pointed to the last name.
"But I see a mark opposite that name. What is it? 'B' and 'A.' What is
the meaning?" "Is that party a relative of yours?"
"No," said Brandon.
"You don't mind hearing something horrible, then?"
The clerk drew a long breath.
"Well, Sir, those letters were written by the late superintendent. The
poor man is now a lunatic. He was here last year.
"You see this is how it was: The ship-fever broke out. The number of
sick was awful, and there were no preparations for them here. The
disease in some respects was worse than cholera, and there was nothing
but confusion. Very many died from lack of nursing. But the worst
feature of the whole thing was the hurried burials.
"I was not here last year, and all who were here then have left. But
I've heard enough to make me sick with horror. You perhaps are aware
that in this ship-fever there sometimes occurs a total loss of sense,
which is apt to be mistaken for death?"
The clerk paused. Brandon regarded him steadily for a moment. Then he
turned, and looked earnestly at the book.
"The burials were very hastily made."
"And it is now believed that some were buried in a state of trance."
There was a long silence. Brandon's eyes were fixed on the book. At last
he pointed to the name of Edith Brandon.
"Then, I suppose," he said, in a steady voice, which, however, was in a
changed key, "these letters 'B' and 'A' are intended to mean something
of that description?"
"Something of that sort," replied the clerk.
Brandon drew a long breath.
"But there is no certainty about it in this particular case. I will tell
you how these marks happened to be made. The clerk that was here last
"One morning, according to him, the superintendent came in, looking very
much excited and altered. He went to this book, where the entries of
burials had been made on the preceding evening. This name was third from
the last. Twelve had been buried. He penciled these letters there and
left. People did not notice him: every body was sick or busy. At last in
the evening of the next day, when they were to bury a new lot, they
found the superintendent digging at the grave the third from the last.
They tried to stop him, but he shouted and moaned alternately 'Buried
alive!' 'Buried alive!' In fact they saw that he was crazy, and had to
confine him at once."
"Did they examine the grave?"
"Yes. The woman told my predecessor that she and her husband--who did
the burying--had examined it, and found the body not only dead, but
corrupt. So there's no doubt of it. That party must have been dead at
"Who was the woman?"
"An old woman that laid them out. She and her husband buried them."
"Where is she now?"
"I don't know."
"Does she stay here yet?"
"No. She left last year."
"What became of the superintendent?"
"He was taken home, but grew no better. At last he had to be sent to an
asylum. Some examination was made by the authorities, but nothing ever
came of it. The papers made no mention of the affair, and it was hushed
Brandon read on. At last he came to another name. It was simply this:
"_Brandon_." There was a slight movement on the clerk's part as
Brandon came to this name. "There is no Christian name here," said
Brandon. "I suppose they did not know it."
"Well," said the clerk, "there's something peculiar about that. The
former clerk never mentioned it to any body but me. That man didn't die
"What do you mean?" said Brandon, who could scarcely speak for the
tremendous struggle between hope and despair that was going on within
"It's a false entry."
"The superintendent wrote that. See, the handwriting is different from
the others. One is that of the clerk who made all these entries; the
other is the superintendent's."
Brandon looked and saw that this was the case.
"What was the cause of that?"
"The clerk told me that after making these next fifteen entries of
buried parties--buried the evening after these last twelve--he went away
to see about something. When he came back the next morning this name was
written in the superintendent's hand. He did not know what to think of
it, so he concluded to ask the superintendent; but in the course of the
day he heard that he was mad and in confinement, as I have told you."
"Then you mean that this is not an entry of a death at all."
"Yes. The fact is, the superintendent for some reason got it into his
head that this Brandon"--and he pointed to Edith's name--"had been
buried alive. He brooded over the name, and among other things wrote it
down here at the end of the list for the day. That's the way in which my
predecessor accounted for it."
"It is a very natural one," said Brandon.
"Quite so." The clerk let it stand. You see, if he had erased it, he
might have been overhauled, and there would have been a committee. He
was afraid of that; so he thought it better to say nothing about it. He
wouldn't have told me, only he said that a party came here once for a
list of all the dead of the _Tecumseh_, and he copied all out,
including this doubtful one. He thought that he had done wrong, and
therefore told me, so that if any particular inquiries were ever made I
might know what to say."
"Are there many mistakes in these records?"
[Illustration: "A STRANGE FEELING PASSED OVER BRANDON. HE STEPPED
"I dare say there are a good many in the list for 1846. There was so
much confusion that names got changed, and people died whose names could
only be conjectured by knowing who had recovered. As some of those that
recovered or had not been sick slipped away secretly, of course there
Brandon had nothing more to ask. He thanked the clerk and departed.
There was a faint hope, then, that Frank might yet be alive. On his way
to Quebec he decided what to do. As soon as he arrived he inserted an
advertisement in the chief papers to the following effect:
Information of any one of the names of "BRANDON," who came out in the
ship _Tecumseh_ in 1846 from Liverpool to Quebec, is earnestly
desired by friends of the family. A liberal reward will be given to any
one who can give the above information. Apply to:
22 Place d'Armes.
Brandon waited in Quebec six weeks without any results. He then went to
Montreal and inserted the same notice in the papers there, and in other
towns in Canada, giving his Montreal address. After waiting five or six
weeks in Montreal he went to Toronto, and advertised again, giving his
new address. He waited here for some time, till at length the month of
November began to draw to a close. Not yet despondent, he began to form
a plan for advertising in every city of the United States.
Meanwhile he had received many communications, all of which, however,
were made with the vague hope of getting a reward. None were at all
reliable. At length he thought that it was useless to wait any longer in
Canada, and concluded to go to New York as a centre of action.
He arrived in New York at the end of December, and immediately began to
insert his notices in all parts of the country, giving his address at
the Astor House.
One day, as he came in from the street, he was informed that there was
some one in his room who wished to see him. He went up calmly, thinking
that it was some new person with intelligence.
On entering the room he saw a man standing by the window, in his shirt-
sleeves, dressed in coarse clothes. The man was very tall, broad-
shouldered, with large, Roman features, and heavy beard and mustache.
His face was marked by profound dejection; he looked like one whose
whole life had been one long misfortune. Louis Brandon had never seen
any face which bore so deep an impress of suffering.
The stranger turned as he came in and looked at him with his sad eyes
"Sir," said he, in a voice which thrilled through Brandon, "are you
A strange feeling passed over Brandon. He stepped forward.
"Frank!" he cried, in a broken voice.
"Merciful Heavens!" cried the other. "Have you too come up from the
In this meeting between the two brothers, after so many eventful years
of separation, each had much to tell. Each had a story so marvelous that
the other might have doubted it, had not the marvels of his own
experience been equally great. Frank's story, however, is the only one
that the reader will care to hear, and that must be reserved for another
"After you left," said Frank, "all went to confusion. Potts lorded it
with a higher hand than ever, and my father was more than ever
infatuated, and seemed to feel that it was necessary to justify his
harshness toward you by publicly exhibiting a greater confidence in
Potts. Like a thoroughly vulgar and base nature, this man could not be
content with having the power, but loved to exhibit that power to us.
Life to me for years became one long death; a hundred times I would have
turned upon the scoundrel and taken vengeance for our wrongs, but the
tears of my mother forced me to use self-control. You had been driven
off; I alone was left, and she implored me by my love for her to stand
by her. I wished her to take her own little property and go with me and
Edith where we might all live in seclusion together; but this she would
not do for fear of staining the proud Brandon name.
"Potts grew worse and worse every year. There was a loathsome son of his
whom he used to bring with him, and my father was infatuated enough to
treat the younger devil with the same civility which he showed to the
elder one. Poor father! he really believed, as he afterward told me,
that these men were putting millions of money into his hands, and that
he would be the Beckford of his generation.
"After a while another scoundrel, called Clark, appeared, who was simply
the counterpart of Potts. Of this man something very singular was soon
made known to me.
"One day I was strolling through the grounds when suddenly, as I passed
through a grove which stood by a fish-pond, I heard voices and saw the
two men I hated most of all on earth standing near me. They were both
naked. They had the audacity to go bathing in the fishpond. Clark had
his back turned toward me, and I saw on it, below the neck, three marks,
fiery red, as though they had been made by a brand. They were these:"
and taking a pencil, Frank made the following marks:
[Illustration: ^ /|\ [three lines, forming short arrow]
R [sans-serif R]
+ [plus sign] ]
Louis looked at this with intense excitement.
"You have been in New South Wales," said Frank, "and perhaps know
whether it is true or not that these are brands on convicts?"
"It is true, and on convicts of the very worst kind."
"Do you know what they mean?"
"Only the worst are branded with a single mark, so you may imagine what
a triple mark indicates. But I will tell you the meaning of each. The
first (/|\) is the king's mark put on those who are totally
irreclaimable and insubordinate. The second (R) means runaway, and is
put on those who have attempted to escape. The third (+) indicated a
murderous attack on the guards. When they are not hung, they are branded
with this mark; and those who are branded in this way are condemned to
hard work, in chains, for life."
"That's about what I supposed," said Frank, quietly, "only of course you
are more particular. After seeing this I told my father. He refused to
believe me. I determined to bring matters to a crisis, and charged
Potts, in my father's presence, with associating with a branded felon.
Potts at once turned upon me and appealed to my father's sense of
justice. He accused me of being so far carried away by prejudice as not
to hesitate to invent a foul slander against an honest man. He said that
Clark would be willing to be put to any test; he could not, however, ask
him to expose himself--it was too outrageous but would simply assert
that my charge was false.
"My father as usual believed every word and gave me a stern reprimand.
Louis, in the presence of my mother and sister I cursed my father on
that day. Poor man! the blow soon fell. It was in 1845 that the crash
came. I have not the heart to go into details now. I will tell you from
time to time hereafter. It is enough to say that every penny was lost.
We had to leave the Hall and took a little cottage in the village.
"All our friends and acquaintances stood aloof. My father's oldest
friends never came near him. Old Langhetti was dead. His son knew
nothing about this. I will tell you more of him presently.
"Colonel Lionel Despard was dead. His son, Courtenay, was ignorant of
all this, and was away in the North of England. There was Thornton, and
I can't account for his inaction. He married Langhetti's daughter too.
That is a mystery."
"They are all false, Frank."
Frank looked up with something like it smile.
"No, not all; wait till you hear me through."
Frank drew a long breath. "We got sick there, and Potts had us taken to
the alms-house. There we all prayed for death, but only my father's
prayer was heard. He died of a broken heart. The rest of us lived on.
"Scarcely had my father been buried when Potts came to take us away. He
insisted that we should leave the country, and offered to pay our way to
America. We were all indifferent: we were paralyzed by grief. The alms-
house was not a place that we could cling to, so we let ourselves drift,
and allowed Potts to send us wherever he wished. We did not even hope
for any thing better. We only hoped that somewhere or other we might all
die. What else could we do? What else could I do? There was no friend to
whom I could look: and if I ever thought of any thing, it was that
America might possibly afford us a chance to get a living till death
"So we allowed ourselves to be sent wherever Potts chose, since it could
not possibly make things worse than they were. He availed himself of our
stolid indifference, put us as passengers in the steerage on board of a
crowded emigrant ship, the _Tecumseh_, and gave us for our
provisions some mouldy bread.
"We simply lived and suffered, and were all waiting for death, till one
day an angel appeared who gave us a short respite, and saved us for a
while from misery. This angel, Louis, was Paolo, the son of Langhetti.
"You look amazed. It was certainly an amazing thing that he should be on
board the same ship with us. He was in the cabin. He noticed our misery
without knowing who we were. He came to give us pity and help us. When
at last he found out our names he fell on our necks, kissed us, and wept
"He gave up his room in the cabin to my mother and sister, and slept and
lived with me. Most of all he cheered us by the lofty, spiritual words
with which he bade us look with contempt upon the troubles of life and
aspire after immortal happiness. Yes, Louis; Langhetti gave us peace.
"There were six hundred passengers. The plague broke out among us. The
deaths every day increased, and all were filled with despair. At last
the sailors themselves began to die.
"I believe there was only one in all that ship who preserved calm reason
and stood without fear during those awful weeks. That one was Langhetti.
He found the officers of the ship panic-stricken, so he took charge of
the steerage, organized nurses, watched over every thing, encouraged
every body, and labored night and day. In the midst of all I fell sick,
and he nursed me back to life. Most of all, that man inspired fortitude
by the hope that beamed in his eyes, and by the radiancy of his smile.
'Never mind, Brandon,' said he as I lay, I thought doomed. 'Death is
nothing. Life goes on. You will leave this pest-ship for a realm of
light. Keep up your heart, my brother immortal, and praise God with your
"I recovered, and then stood by his side as best I might. I found that
he had never told my mother of my sickness. At last my mother and sister
in the cabin fell sick. I heard of it some days after, and was
prostrated again. I grew better after a time; but just as we reached
quarantine, Langhetti, who had kept himself up thus far, gave out
completely, and fell before the plague."
"Did he die?" asked Louis, in a faltering voice.
"Not on ship-board. He was carried ashore senseless. My mother and
sister were very low, and were also carried on shore. I, though weak,
was able to nurse them all. My mother died first."
There was a long pause. At last Frank resumed:
"My sister gradually recovered: and then, through grief and fatigue, I
fell sick for the third time. I felt it coming on. My sister nursed me;
for a time I thought I was going to die. 'Oh, Edith,' I said, 'when I
die, devote your life while it lasts to Langhetti, whom God sent to us
in our despair. Save his life even if you give up your own.'
"After that I became delirious, and remained so for a long time. Weeks
passed; and when at last I revived the plague was stayed, and but few
sick were on the island. My case was a lingering one, for this was the
third attack of the fever. Why I didn't die I can't understand. There
was no attendance. All was confusion, horror, and death.
"When I revived the first question was after Langhetti and Edith. No one
knew any thing about them. In the confusion we had been separated, and
Edith had died alone."
"Who told you that she died?" asked Louis, with a troubled look.
Frank looked at him with a face of horror.
"Can you bear what I am going to say?"
"When I was able to move about I went to see if any one could tell me
about Edith and Langhetti. I heard an awful story; that the
superintendent had gone mad and had been found trying to dig open a
grave, saying that some one was _buried alive_. Who do you think?
oh, my brother!"
"Edith Brandon was the name he named."
"Be calm, Frank: I made inquiries myself at the island registry-office.
The clerk told me this story, but said that the woman who had charge of
the dead asserted that the grave was opened, and it was ascertained that
absolute death had taken place.
"Alas!" said Frank, in a voice of despair, "I saw that woman--the keeper
of the dead-house--the grave-digger's wife. She told me this story, but
it was with a troubled eye. I swore vengeance on her unless she told me
the truth. She was alarmed, and said she would reveal all she knew if I
swore to keep it to myself. I swore it. Can you bear to hear it, Louis?"
"She said only this: 'When the grave was opened it was found that Edith
Brandon had not been dead when she was buried.'"
Louis groaned, and, falling forward, buried his head in both his hands.
It was a long time before either of them spoke. At last Louis, without
lifting his head, said:
"When I left the island I went to Quebec, but could not stay there. It
was too near the place of horror. I went up the river, working my way as
a laborer, to Montreal. I then sought for work, and obtained employment
as porter in a warehouse. What mattered it? What was rank or station to
me? I only wanted to keep myself from starvation and get a bed to sleep
on at night.
"I had no hope or thought of any thing. The horrors through which I had
passed were enough to fill my mind. Yet above them all one horror was
predominant, and never through the days and nights that have since
elapsed has my soul ceased to quiver at the echo of two terrible words
which have never ceased to ring through my brain--'Buried alive!'
"I lived on in Montreal, under an assumed name, as a common porter, and
might have been living there yet; but one day as I came in I heard the
name of 'Brandon.' Two of the clerks who were discussing the news in the
morning paper happened to speak of an advertisement which had long been
in the papers in all parts of Canada. It was for information about the
"I read the notice. It seemed to me at first that Potts was still trying
to get control of us, but a moment's reflection showed that to be
improbable. Then the mention of 'the friends of the family' made me
think of Langhetti. I concluded that he had escaped death and was trying
to find me out.
"I went to Toronto, and found that you had gone to New York. I had saved
much of my wages, and was able to come here. I expected Langhetti, but
"Why did you not think that it might be me?"
"Because I heard a threat of Potts about you, and took it for granted
that he would succeed in carrying it out."
"What was the threat?"
"He found out somehow that my father had written a letter to you. I
suppose they told him so at the village post-office. One day when he was
in the room he said, with a laugh, alluding to the letter, 'I'll uncork
that young Brandy-flask before long.'"
"Well--the notice of my death appeared in the English papers."
Frank looked earnestly at him.
"And I accept it, and go under an assumed name."
"So do I. It is better."
"You thought Langhetti alive. Do you think he is?"
"I do not think so now."
"The efforts which he made were enough to kill any man without the
plague. He must have died."
After hearing Frank's story Louis gave a full account of his own
adventures, omitting, however, all mention of Beatrice. That was
something for his own heart, and not for another's ear.
"Have you the letter and MS.?"
"Let me read them."
Louis took the treasures and handed them to Frank. He read them in
"Is Cato with you yet?"
"It is well."
"And now, Frank," said Louis, "you have something at last to live for."
"What is that?"
"Vengeance!" cried Louis, with burning eyes.
"Vengeance!" repeated Frank, without emotion--"Vengeance! What is that
to me? Do you hope to give peace to your own heart by inflicting
suffering on our enemies? What can they possibly suffer that can atone
for what they have inflicted? All that they can feel is as nothing
compared with what we have felt. Vengeance!" he repeated, musingly; "and
what sort of vengeance? Would you kill them? What would that effect?
Would he be more miserable than he is? Or would you feel any greater
happiness? Or do you mean something more far-reaching than death?"
"Death," said Louis, "is nothing for such crimes as his."
"You want to inflict suffering, then, and you ask me. Well, after all,
do I want him to suffer? Do I care for this man's sufferings? What are
they or what can they be to me? He stands on his own plane, far beneath
me; he is a coarse animal, who can, perhaps, suffer from nothing but
physical pain. Should I inflict that on him, what good would it be to
me? And yet there is none other that I can inflict."
"Langhetti must have transformed you," said Louis, "with his spiritual
"Langhetti; or perhaps the fact that I three times gazed upon the face
of death and stood upon the threshold of that place where dwells the
Infinite Mystery. So when you speak of mere vengeance my heart does not
respond. But there is still something which may make a purpose as strong
"The sense of intolerable wrong!" cried Frank, in vehement tones; "the
presence of that foul pair in the home of our ancestors, our own exile,
and all the sufferings of the past! Do you think that I can endure
"No--you must have vengeance."
"No; not vengeance."
"Justice!" cried Frank, starting to his feet. "Justice--strict, stern,
merciless; and that justice means to me all that you mean by vengeance.
Let us make war against him from this time forth while life lasts; let
us cast him out and get back our own; let us put him into the power of
the law, and let that take satisfaction on him for his crimes; let us
cast him out and fling him from us to that power which can fittingly
condemn. I despise him, and despise his sufferings. His agony will give
me no gratification. The anguish that a base nature can suffer is only
disgusting to me--he suffers only out of his baseness. To me, and with a
thing like that, vengeance is impossible, and justice is enough."
"At any rate you will have a purpose, and your purpose points to the
same result as mine."
"But how is this possible?" said Frank. "He is strong, and we are weak.
What can we do?"
"We can try," said Louis. "You are ready to undertake any thing. You do
not value your life. There is one thing which is before us. It is
desperate--it is almost hopeless; but we are both ready to try it."
"What is that?"
"The message from the dead," said Louis, spreading before Frank that
letter from the treasure-ship which he himself had so often read.
"And are you going to try this?"
"I don't know. I must first find out the resources of science."
"Have you Cato yet?"
"Can he dive?"
"He was brought up on the Malabar coast, among the pearl-fishers, and
can remain under water for an incredible space of time. But I hope to
find means which will enable me myself to go down under the ocean
depths. This will be our object now. If it succeeds, then we can gain
our purpose; if not, we must think of something else."
THE DIVING BUSINESS.
In a little street that runs from Broadway, not far from Wall Street,
there was a low doorway with dingy panes of glass, over which was a sign
which bore the following letters, somewhat faded:
BROCKET & CO.,
About a month after his arrival at New York Brandon entered this place
and walked up to the desk, where a stout, thick-set man was sitting,
with his chin on his hands and his elbows on the desk before him.
"Mr. Brocket?" said Brandon, inquiringly.
"Yes, Sir," answered the other, descending from his stool and stepping
forward toward Brandon, behind a low table which stood by the desk.
"I am told that you undertake contracts for raising sunken vessels?"
"We are in that line of business."
"You have to make use of diving apparatus?"
"I understand that you have gone into this business to a larger extent
than any one in America?"
"Yes, Sir," said Brocket, modestly. "I think we do the leading business
in that line."
"I will tell you frankly my object in calling upon you. I have just come
from the East Indies for the purpose of organizing a systematic plan for
the pearl fisheries. You are aware that out there they still cling to
the old fashion of diving, which was begun three thousand years ago. I
wish to see if I can not bring science to bear upon it, so as to raise
the pearl-oysters in larger quantities."
"That's a good idea of yours," remarked Mr. Brocket, thoughtfully.
"I came to you to see if you could inform me whether it would be
practicable or not."
"Perfectly so," said Brocket.
"Do you work with the diving-bell in your business or with armor?"
"With both. We use the diving-bell for stationary purposes; but when it
is necessary to move about we employ armor."
"Is the armor adapted to give a man any freedom of movement?"
"The armor is far better than the bell. The armor is so perfect now that
a practiced hand can move about under water with a freedom that is
surprising. My men go down to examine sunken ships. They go in and out
and all through them. Sometimes this is the most profitable part of our
"Why, because there is often money or valuable articles on board, and
these always are ours. See," said Brocket, opening a drawer and taking
out some silver coin, "here is some money that we found in an old Dutch
vessel that was sunk up the Hudson a hundred years ago. Our men walked
about the bed of the river till they found her, and in her cabin they
obtained a sum of money that would surprise you--all old coin."
"An old Dutch vessel! Do you often find vessels that have been sunk so
"Not often. But we are always on the lookout for them," said Brocket,
who had now grown quite communicative. "You see, those old ships always
carried ready cash--they didn't use bank-notes and bills of exchange. So
if you can only find one you're sure of money."
"Then this would be a good thing to bear in mind in our pearl
"Of course. I should think that out there some reefs must be full of
sunken ships. They've been sinking about those coasts ever since the
first ship was built."
"How far down can a diver go in armor?
"Oh, any reasonable depth, when the pressure of the water is not too
great. Some pain in the ears is felt at first from the compressed air,
but that is temporary. Men can easily go down as far as fifteen or
"How long can they stay down?"
"In the bells, you know, they go down and are pulled up only in the
middle of the day and at evening, when their work is done."
"How with the men in armor?"
"Oh, they can stand it almost as well. They come up oftener, though.
There is one advantage in the armor: a man can fling off his weight and
come up whenever he likes."
"Have you ever been down yourself?"
"Oh yes--oftener than any of my men. I'm the oldest diver in the
country, I think. But I don't go down often now. It's hard work, and I'm
"Is it much harder than other work?"
"Well, you see, it's unnatural sort of work, and is hard on the lungs.
Still, I always was healthy. The real reason why I stopped was a
circumstance that happened two years ago."
"What was that?"
Brocket drew a long breath, looked for a moment meditatively at the
floor, and then went on:
"Well, there happened to be a wreck of a steamer called the
_Saladin_ down off the North Carolina coast, and I thought I would
try her as a speculation, for I supposed that there might he
considerable money on board one way or another. It was a very singular
affair. Only two men had escaped; it was so sudden. They said the vessel
struck a rock at night when the water was perfectly still, and went down
in a few minutes, before the passengers could even be awakened. It may
seem horrid to you, but you must know that a ship-load of passengers is
very profitable, for they all carry money. Besides, there are their
trunks, and the clerk's desk, and so on. So, this time, I went down
myself. The ship lay on one side of the rock which had pierced her,
having floated off just before sinking; and I had no difficulty in
getting on board. After walking about the deck I went at once into the
saloon. Sir," said Brocket, with an awful look at Brandon, "if I should
live for a hundred years I should never forget the sight that I saw. A
hundred passengers or more had been on board, and most of them had
rushed out of their state-rooms as the vessel began to sink. Very many
of them lay on the floor, a frightful multitude of dead.
"But there were others," continued Brocket, in a lower tone, "who had
clutched at pieces of furniture, at the doors, and at the chairs, and
many of these had held on with such a rigid clutch that death itself had
not unlocked it. Some were still upright, with distorted features, and
staring eyes, clinging, with frantic faces, to the nearest object that
they had seen. Several of them stood around the table. The most
frightful thing was this: that they were all staring at the door.
"But the worst one of all was a corpse that was on the saloon table. The
wretch had leaped there in his first mad impulse, and his hands had
clutched a brass bar that ran across. He was facing the door; his hands
were still clinging, his eyes glared at me, his jaw had fallen, The
hideous face seemed grimacing at and threatening me. As I entered the
water was disturbed by my motion. An undulation set in movement by my
entrance passed through the length of the saloon. All the corpses swayed
for a moment. I stopped in horror. Scarcely had I stopped when the
corpses, agitated by the motion of the water and swaying, lost their
hold; their fingers slipped, and they fell forward simultaneously. Above
all, that hideous figure on the table, as its fingers were loosened, in
falling forward, seemed to take steps, with his demon face still staring
at me. My blood ran cold. It seemed to me as though these devils were
all rushing at me, led on by that fiend on the table. For the first time
in my life, Sir, I felt fear under the sea. I started back, and rushed
out quaking as though all hell was behind me. When I got up to the
surface I could not speak. I instantly left the _Saladin_, came
home with my men, and have never been down myself since."
A long conversation followed about the general condition of sunken
ships. Brocket had no fear of rivals in business, and as his
interlocutor did not pretend to be one he was exceedingly communicative.
He described to him the exact depth to which a diver in armor might
safely go, the longest time that he could safely remain under water, the
rate of travel in walking along a smooth bottom, and the distance which
one could walk. He told him how to go on board of a wrecked ship with
the least risk or difficulty, and the best mode by which to secure any
valuables which he might find. At last he became so exceedingly friendly
that Brandon asked him if he would be willing to give personal
instructions to himself, hinting that money was no object, and that any
price would be paid.
At this Brocket laughed. "My dear Sir, you take my fancy, for I think I
see in you a man of the right sort. I should be very glad to show any
one like you how to go to work. Don't mention money; I have actually got
more now than I know what to do with, and I'm thinking of founding an
asylum for the poor. I'll sell you any number of suits of armor, if you
want them, merely in the way of business; but if I give you instructions
it will be merely because I like to oblige a man like you."
Brandon of course expressed all the gratitude that so generous an offer
"But there's no use trying just yet; wait till the month of May, and
then you can begin. You have nerve, and I have no doubt that you'll
After this interview Brandon had many others. To give credibility to his
pretended plan for the pearl fisheries, he bought a dozen suits of
diving armor and various articles which Brocket assured him that he
would need. He also brought Cato with him one day, and the Hindu
described the plan which the pearl-divers pursued on the Malabar coast.
According to Cato each diver had a stone which weighed about thirty
pounds tied to his foot, and a sponge filled with oil fastened around
his neck. On plunging into the water, the weight carried him down. When
the diver reached the bottom the oiled sponge was used from time to time
to enable him to breathe by inhaling the air through the sponge applied
to his mouth. All this was new to Brocket. It excited his ardor.
The month of May at last came. Brocket showed them a place in the
Hudson, about twenty miles above the city, where they could practice.
Under his direction Brandon put on the armor and went down. Frank worked
the pumps which supplied him with air, and Cato managed the boat. The
two Brandons learned their parts rapidly, and Louis, who had the hardest
task, improved so quickly, and caught the idea of the work so readily,
that Brocket enthusiastically assured him that he was a natural-born
All this time Brandon was quietly making arrangements for a voyage. He
gradually obtained every thing which might by any possibility be
required, and which he found out by long deliberations with Frank and by
hints which he gained by well-managed questions to Brocket.
Thus the months of May and June passed until at length they were ready
THE ISLET OF SANTA CRUZ.
It was July when Brandon left New York for San Salvador.
He had purchased a beautiful little schooner, which he had fitted up
like a gentleman's yacht, and stored with all the articles which might
be needed. In cruising about the Bahama Isles he intended to let it be
supposed that he was traveling for pleasure. True, the month of July was
not the time of the year which pleasure-seekers would choose for sailing
in the West Indies, but of this he did not take much thought.
The way to the Bahama Isles was easy. They stopped for a while at
Nassau, and then went to San Salvador.
The first part of the New World which Columbus discovered is now but
seldom visited, and few inhabitants are found there. Only six hundred
people dwell upon it, and these have in general but little intelligence.
On reaching this place Brandon sailed to the harbor which Columbus
entered, and made many inquiries about that immortal landing. Traditions
still survived among the people, and all were glad to show the rich
Englishman the lions of the place.
He was thus enabled to make inquiries without exciting suspicion about
the islands lying to the north. He was informed that about four leagues
north there was an island named Guahi, and as there was no island known
in that direction named Santa Cruz, Brandon thought that this might be
the one. He asked if there were any small islets or sand-banks near
there, but no one could tell him. Having gained all the information that
he could he pursued his voyage.
In that hot season there was but little wind. The seas were visited by
profound calms which continued long and rendered navigation slow and
tedious. Sometimes, to prevent themselves from being swept away by the
currents, they had to cast anchor. At other times they were forced to
keep in close by the shore. They waited till the night came on, and
then, putting out the sweeps, they rowed the yacht slowly along.
It was the middle of July before they reached the island of Guahi, which
Brandon thought might be Santa Cruz. If so, then one league due north of
this there ought to be the islet of the Three Needles. Upon the
discovery of that would depend their fate.
It was evening when they reached the southern shore of Guahi. Now was
the time when all the future depended upon the fact of the existence of
an islet to the north. That night on the south shore was passed in deep
anxiety. They rowed the vessel on with their sweeps, but the island was
too large to be passed in one night. Morning came, and still they rowed.
The morning passed, and the hot sun burned down upon them, yet they
still toiled on, seeking to pass beyond a point which lay ahead, so as
to see the open water to the north. Gradually they neared it, and the
sea-view in front opened up more and more widely. There was nothing but
water. More and more of the view exposed itself, until at last the whole
horizon was visible. Yet there was no land there--no island--no sign of
those three rocks which they longed so much to find.
A light wind arose which enabled them to sail over all the space that
lay one league to the north. They sounded as they went, but found only
deep water. They looked all around, but found not so much as the
smallest point of land above the surface of the ocean.
That evening they cast anchor and went ashore at the island of Guahi to
see if any one knew of other islands among which might be found one
named Santa Cruz. Their disappointment was profound. Brandon for a while
thought that perhaps some other San Salvador was meant in the letter.
This very idea had occurred to him before, and he had made himself
acquainted with all the places of that name that existed. None of them
seemed, however, to answer the requirements of the writing. Some must
have gained the name since; others were so situated that no island could
be mentioned as lying to the north. On the whole, it seemed to him that
this San Salvador of Columbus could alone be mentioned. It was alluded
to as a well-known place, of which particular description was
unnecessary, and no other place at that day had this character except
the one on which he had decided.
One hope yet remained, a faint one, but still a hope, and this might yet
be realized. It was that Guahi was not Santa Cruz; but that some other
island lay about here, which might be considered as north from San
Salvador. This could be ascertained here in Guahi better perhaps than
any where else. With this faint hope he landed.
Guahi is only a small island, and there are but few inhabitants upon it,
who support themselves partly by fishing. In this delightful climate
their wants are not numerous, and the rich soil produces almost any
thing which they desire. The fish about here are not plentiful, and what
they catch have to be sought for at a long distance off.
"Are there any other islands near this?" asked Brandon of some people
whom he met on landing.
"Not very near."
"Which is the nearest?"
"Are there any others in about this latitude?"
"Well, there is a small one about twelve leagues east. There are no
people on it though."
"What is its name?"
Brandon's heart beat fast at the sound of that name. It must be so. It
must be the island which he sought. It lay to the north of San Salvador,
and its name was Santa Cruz.
"It is not down on the charts?"
"No. It is only a small islet."
Another confirmation, for the message said plainly an islet, whereas
Guahi was an island.
"How large is it?"
"Oh, perhaps a mile or a mile and a half long."
"Is there any other island near it?"
"I don't know."
"Have you ever been there?"
Plainly no further information could be gathered here. It was enough to
have hope strengthened and an additional chance for success. Brandon
obtained as near as possible the exact direction of Santa Cruz, and,
going back to the yacht, took advantage of the light breeze which still
was blowing and set sail.
[Illustration: "AN ISLAND COVERED WITH PALM-TREES LAY THERE."]
Night came on very dark, but the breeze still continued to send its
light breath, and before this the vessel gently glided on. Not a thing
could be seen in that intense darkness. Toward morning Louis Brandon,
who had remained up all night in his deep anxiety, tried to pierce
through the gloom as he strained his eyes, and seemed as though he would
force the darkness to reveal that which he sought. But the darkness gave
Not Columbus himself, when looking out over these waters, gazed with
greater eagerness nor did his heart beat with greater anxiety of
suspense, than that which Brandon felt as his vessel glided slowly
through the dark waters, the same over which Columbus had passed, and
moved amidst the impenetrable gloom. But the long night of suspense
glided by at last; the darkness faded, and the dawn came.
Frank Brandon, on waking about sunrise, came up and saw his brother
looking with fixed intensity of gaze at something directly in front. He
turned to see what it might be.
An island covered with palm-trees lay there. Its extent was small, but
it was filled with the rich verdure of the tropics. The gentle breeze
ruffled the waters, but did not altogether efface the reflection of that
Louis pointed toward the northeast.
It seemed to be about two miles away. It was a low sand island about a
quarter of a mile long. From its surface projected three rocks thin and
sharp. They were at unequal distances from each other, and in the middle
of the islet. The tallest one might have been about twelve feet in
height, the others eight and ten feet respectively.
Louis and Frank exchanged one long look, but said not a word. That look
was an eloquent one.
This then was unmistakably the place of their search.
The islet with the three rocks like needles lying north of Santa Cruz.
One league due north of this was the spot where now rested all their
The island of Santa Cruz was, as had been told them, not more than a
mile and a half in length, the sand island with the needles lay about
two miles north of it. On the side of Santa Cruz which lay nearest to
them was a small cove just large enough for the yacht. Here, after some
delay, they were able to enter and land.
The tall trees that covered the island rose over beautiful glades and
grassy slopes. Too small and too remote to give support to any number of
inhabitants, it had never been touched by the hand of man, but stood
before them in all that pristine beauty with which nature had first
endowed it. It reminded Brandon in some degree of that African island
where he had passed some time with Beatrice. The recollection of this
brought over him an intolerable melancholy, and made the very beauty of
this island painful to him. Yet hope was now strong within his heart,
and as he traversed its extent his eye wandered about in search of
places where he might be able to conceal the treasure that lay under the
sea, if he were ever able to recover it from its present place. The
island afforded many spots which were well adapted to such a purpose.
In the centre of the island a rock jutted up, which was bald and flat on
its summit. On the western side it showed a precipice of some forty or
fifty feet in height, and on the eastern side it descended to the water
in a steep slope. The tall trees which grew all around shrouded it from
the view of those at sea, but allowed the sea to be visible on every
side. Climbing to this place, they saw something which showed them that
they could not hope to carry on any operations for that day.
On the other side of the island, about ten miles from the shore, there
lay a large brig becalmed. It looked like one of those vessels that are
in the trade between the United States and the West Indies. As long as
that vessel was in the neighborhood it would not do even to make a
beginning, nor did Brandon care about letting his yacht be seen.
Whatever he did he wished to do secretly.
The brig continued in sight all day, and they remained on the island.
Toward evening they took the small boat and rowed out to the sandbank
which they called Needle Islet. It was merely a low spit of sand, with
these three singularly-shaped rocks projecting upward. There was nothing
else whatever to be seen upon it. The moon came up as they stood there,
and their eyes wandered involuntarily to the north, to that place, a
league away, where the treasure lay beneath the waters.
THE OCEAN DEPTHS.
The next morning dawned and Brandon hurried to the rock and looked
around. During the night a slight wind had sprung up, and was still
gently breathing. Far over the wide sea there was not a sail to be seen.
The brig had passed away. They were finally left to themselves.
Now at last the time of trial had come. They were eager to make the
attempt, and soon the yacht was unmoored, and moved slowly out to sea in
the direction of Needle Island. A light breeze still blew fitfully, but
promised at any moment to stop; yet while it lasted they passed onward
under its gentle impulse, and so gradually reached Needle Island, and
went on into the sea beyond.
Before they had come to the spot which they wished to attain the breeze
had died out, and they were compelled to take to the oars. Although
early in the morning the sun was burning hot, the work was laborious,
and the progress was slow. Yet not a murmur was heard, nor did a single
thought of fatigue enter the minds of any of them. One idea only was
present--one so overwhelming that all lesser thoughts and all ordinary
feelings were completely obliterated. After two hours of steady labor
they at last reached a place which seemed to them to be exactly one
league due north of Needle Islet. Looking back they saw that the rocks
on the island seemed from this distance closer together, and thinner and
sharper, so that they actually bore a greater resemblance to needles
from this point than to any thing else.
Here they sounded. The water was fifteen fathoms deep--not so great a
depth as they had feared. Then they put down the anchor, for although
there was no wind, yet the yacht might be caught in some current, and
drift gradually away from the right position.
The small boat had all this time been floating astern with the pumping
apparatus in it, so that the adventurous diver might readily be
accompanied in his search and his wanderings at the bottom of the sea.
But there was the prospect that this search would be long and arduous,
and Brandon was not willing to exhaust himself too soon. He had already
resolved that the first exploration should be made by Asgeelo. The Hindu
had followed Brandon in all his wanderings with that silent submission
and perfect devotion which is more common among Hindus than any other
people. He had the air of one who was satisfied with obeying his master,
and did not ask the end of any commands which might be given. He was
aware that they were about to explore the ocean depths, but showed no
curiosity about the object of their search. It was Brandon's purpose to
send him down first at different points, so that he might see if there
was any thing there which looked like what they sought.
Asgeelo--or Cato, as Brandon commonly called him--had made those simple
preparations which are common among his class--the apparatus which the
pearl-divers have used ever since pearl-diving first commenced. Twelve
or fifteen stones were in the boat, a flask of oil, and a sponge which
was fastened around his neck. These were all that he required. Each
stone weighed about thirty pounds. One of these he tied around one foot;
he saturated the sponge with oil, so as to use it to inhale air beneath
the water; and then, standing on the edge of the boat and flinging his
arms straight up over his head, he leaped into the water and went down
Over the smooth water the ripples flowed from the spot where Asgeelo had
disappeared, extending in successive concentric circles, and radiating
in long undulations far and wide. Louis and Frank waited in deep
suspense. Asgeelo remained long beneath the water, but to them the time
seemed frightful in its duration. Profound anxiety began to mingle with
the suspense, for fear lest the faithful servant in his devotion had
over-rated his powers--lest the disuse of his early practice had
weakened his skill--lest the weight bound to his foot had dragged him
down and kept him there forever.
At last, when the suspense had become intolerable and the two had
already begun to exchange glances almost of despair, a plash was heard,
and Asgeelo emerged far to the right. He struck out strongly toward the
boat, which was at once rowed toward him. In a few minutes he was taken
in. He did not appear to be much exhausted.
He had seen nothing.
[Illustration: "A dark, sinewy arm emerged from beneath, armed with a
long, keen knife."]
They then rowed about a hundred yards further, and Asgeelo prepared to
descend once more. He squeezed the oil out of the sponge and renewed it
again. But this time he took a knife in his hand.
"What is that for?" asked Frank and Louis.
"Sharks!" answered Cato, in a terrible tone.
At this Louis and Frank exchanged glances. Could they let this devoted
servant thus tempt so terrible a death?
"Did you see any sharks?" asked Louis.
"Why do you fear them, then?"
"I don't fear them, Sahib."
"Why do you take this knife?"
"One may come, Sahib."
After some hesitation Asgeelo was allowed to go. As before he plunged
into the water, and remained underneath quite as long; but now they had
become familiarized with his powers and the suspense was not so
dreadful. At the expiration of the usual time he reappeared, and on
being taken into the boat he again announced that he had seen nothing.
They now rowed a hundred yards farther on in the same direction, toward
the east, and Asgeelo made another descent. He came back with the same
It began to grow discouraging, but Asgeelo was not yet fatigued, and
they therefore determined to let him work as long as he was able. He
went down seven times more. They still kept the boat on toward the east
till the line of "needles" on the sand island had become thrown farther
apart and stood at long distances. Asgeelo came up each time
He at last went down for the eleventh time. They were talking as usual,
not expecting that he would reappear for some minutes, when suddenly a
shout was heard, and Asgeelo's head emerged from the water not more than
twenty yards from the boat. He was swimming with one hand, and in the
other he held an uplifted knife, which he occasionally brandished in the
air and splashed in the water.
Immediately the cause of this became manifest. Just behind him a sharp
black fin appeared cutting the surface of the water.
It was a shark! But the monster, a coward like all his tribe, deterred
by the plashing of the water made by Asgeelo, circled round him and
hesitated to seize his prey. The moment was frightful. Yet Asgeelo
appeared not in the least alarmed. He swam slowly, occasionally turning
his head and watching the monster, seeming by his easy dexterity to be
almost as much in his native element as his pursuer, keeping his eyes
fixed on him and holding his knife in a firm clasp. The knife was a
long, keen blade, which Asgeelo had carried with him for years.
Louis and Frank could do nothing. A pistol ball could not reach this
monster, who kept himself under the water, where a ball would be spent
before striking him, if indeed any aim could direct a bullet toward that
swift darting figure. They had nothing to do but to look on in an agony
Asgeelo, compelled to watch, to guard, to splash the water, and to turn
frequently, made but a slow passage over those twenty yards which
separated him from the boat. At last it seemed as if he chose to stay
there. It seemed to those who watched him with such awful horror that he
might have escaped had he chosen, but that he had some idea of
voluntarily encountering the monster. This became evident at last, as
the shark passed before him when they saw Asgeelo's face turned toward
it; a face full of fierce hate and vengeance; a face such as one turns
toward some mortal enemy.
He made a quick, fierce stroke with his long knife. The shark gave a
leap upward. The water was tinged with blood. The next moment Asgeelo
"What now?" was the thought of the brothers. Had he been dragged down?
Impossible! And yet it seemed equally impossible that he could have gone
down of his own accord.
In a moment their suspense was ended. A white flash appeared near the
surface. The next instant a dark, sinewy arm emerged from beneath, armed
with a long, keen knife, which seemed to tear down with one tremendous
stroke that white, shining surface.
It was Asgeelo's head that emerged in a sea of blood and foam. Triumph
was in his dark face, as with one hand he waved his knife exultantly.
A few moments afterward the form of a gigantic shark floated upward to
the surface, dyeing the sea with the blood which had issued from the
stroke dealt by Asgeelo. Not yet, however, was the vindictive fury of
the Hindu satiated. He swam up to it. He dashed his knife over and over
the white belly till it became a hideous mass of gaping entrails. Then
he came into the boat.
He sat down, a hideous figure. Blood covered his tawny face, and the
fury of his rage had not left the features.
The strength which this man had shown was tremendous, yet his quickness
and agility even in the water had been commensurate with his strength.
Brandon had once seen proofs of his courage in the dead bodies of the
Malay pirates which lay around him in the cabin of that ill-fated
Chinese ship: but all that he had done then was not to be compared to
They could not help asking him why he had not at once made his escape to
the boar, instead of staying to fight the monster.
Asgeelo's look was as gloomy as death as he replied,
"They tore in pieces my son, Sahib--my only son--when he first went
down, and I have to avenge him. I killed a hundred on the Malabar coast
before I left it forever. That shark did not attack me; I attacked him."
"If you saw one now would you attack him?"
Brandon expressed some apprehension, and wished him not to risk his
But Asgeelo explained that a shark could be successfully encountered by
a skillful swimmer. The shark is long, and has to move about in a circle
which is comparatively large; he is also a coward, and a good swimmer
can strike him if he only chooses. He again repeated triumphantly that
he had killed more than a hundred to avenge his son.
In his last venture Asgeelo had been no more successful than before.
Needle Island was now to the southwest, and Brandon thought that their
only chance was to try farther over toward the west, where they had not
They rowed at once back to the point from which they had set out, and
then went on about a hundred and fifty yards to the west. From this
place, as they looked toward the islet, the three rocks seemed so close
together that they appeared blended, and the three sharp, needlelike
points appeared to issue from one common base. This circumstance had an
encouraging effect, for it seemed to the brothers as though their
ancestor might have looked upon those rocks from this point of view
rather than from any other which had as yet come upon the field of their
This time Brandon himself resolved to go down; partly because he thought
that Asgeelo had worked long enough, and ought not to be exhausted on
that first day, and partly on account of an intolerable impatience, and
an eagerness to see for himself rather than intrust it to others.
There was the horror of the shark, which might have deterred any other
man. It was a danger which he had never taken into account. But the
resolve of his soul was stronger than any fear, and he determined to
face even this danger. If he lost his life, he was indifferent. Let it
go! Life was not so precious to him as to some others. Fearless by
nature, he was ordinarily ready to run risks; but now the thing that
drew him onward was so vast in its importance that he was willing to
encounter peril of any kind.
Frank was aware of the full extent of this new danger, but he said
nothing, nor did he attempt in any way to dissuade his brother. He
himself, had he been able, would have gone down in his place; but as he
was not able, he did not suppose that his brother would hesitate.
The apparatus was in the boat. The pumping-machine was in the stern; and
this, with the various signal-ropes, was managed by Frank. Asgeelo
rowed. These arrangements had long since been made, and they had
practiced in this way on the Hudson River.
Silently Brandon put on his diving armor. The ropes and tubes were all
carefully arranged. The usual weight was attached to his belt, and he
was slowly lowered down to the bottom of the sea.
The bottom of the ocean was composed of a smooth, even surface of fine
sand and gravel, along which Brandon moved without difficulty. The
cumbrous armor of the diver, which on land is so heavy, beneath the
water loses its excessive weight, and by steadying the wearer assists
him to walk. The water was marvelously transparent, as is usually the
case in the southern seas, and through the glass plate in his helmet
Brandon could look forward to a greater distance than was possible in
Overhead he could see the bottom of the boat, as it floated and moved on
in the direction which he wished: signals, which were communicated by a
rope which he held in his hand, told them whether to go forward or
backward, to the right or to the left, or to stop altogether. Practice
had enabled him to command, and them to obey, with ease.
Down in the depths to which he had descended the water was always still,
and the storms that affected the surface never penetrated there. Brandon
learned this from the delicate shells and the still more delicate forms
of marine plants which lay at his feet, so fragile in their structure,
and so delicately poised in their position, that they must have formed
themselves in deep, dead stillness and absolute motionlessness of
waters. The very movement which was caused by his passage displaced them
in all directions, and cast them down every where in ruins. Here, in
such depths as these, if the sounding lead is cast it brings up these
fragile shells, and shows to the observer what profound calm must exist
here, far away beneath the ordinary vision of man.
Practice had enabled Brandon to move with much ease. His breathing was
without difficulty. The first troubles arising from breathing this
confined air had long since been surmounted. One tube ran down from the
boat, through which the fresh air was pushed, and another tube ran up a
little distance, through which the air passed and left it in myriad
bubbles that ascended to the surface.
He walked on, and soon came to a place where things changed their
appearance. Hard sand was here, and on every side there arose curiously-
shaped coral structures, which resembled more than any thing else a
leafless forest. These coral tree-like forms twisted their branches in
strange involutions, and in some places formed a perfect barrier of
interlaced arms, so that he was forced to make a detour in order to
avoid them. The chief fear here was that his tube might get entangled
among some of the loftier straggling branches, and impede or retard his
progress. To avoid this caused much delay.
Now, among the coral rocks, the vegetation of the lower sea began to
appear of more vivid colors and of far greater variety than any which he
had ever seen. Here were long plants which clung to the coral like ivy,
seeming to be a species of marine parasite, and as it grew it throve
more luxuriantly. Here were some which threw out long arms, terminating
in vast, broad, palm-like leaves, the arms intertwined among the coral
branches and the leaves hanging downward. Here were long streamers of
fine, silk-like strings, that were suspended from many a projecting
branch, and hillocks of spongy substance that looked like moss. Here,
too, were plants which threw forth long, ribbon-like leaves of
It was a forest under the sea, and it grew denser at every step.
At last his progress in this direction was terminated by a rock which
came from a southerly direction, like a spur from the islands. It arose
to a height of about thirty feet overhead, and descended gradually as it
ran north. Brandon turned aside, and walked by its base along its entire
At its termination there arose a long vista, where the ground ascended
and an opening appeared through this marine "forest." On each side the
involuted corals flung their twisted arms in more curious and intricate
folds. The vegetation was denser, more luxuriant, and more varied.
Beneath him was a growth of tender substance, hairy in texture, and of a
delicate green color, which looked more like lawn grass of the upper
world than any thing else in nature.
Brandon walked on, and even in the intense desire of his soul to find
what he sought he felt himself overcome by the sublime influence of this
submarine world. He seemed to have intruded into some other sphere,
planting his rash footsteps where no foot of man had trodden before, and
using the resources of science to violate the hallowed secrecy of awful
nature in her most hidden retreats. Here, above all things, his soul was
oppressed by the universal silence around. Through that thick helmet,
indeed, no sound under a clap of thunder could be heard, and the ringing
of his ears would of itself have prevented consciousness of any other
noise, yet none the less was he aware of the awful stillness; it was
silence that could be felt. In the sublimity of that lonely pathway he
felt what Hercules is imagined to have felt when passing to the
underworld after Cerberus,
Stupent ubi undae segne torpescit fretum,
and half expected to hear some voice from the dweller in this place:
"Quo pergis audax? Siste proserentem gradum."
There came to him only such dwellers as belonged to the place. He saw
them as he moved along. He saw them darting out from the hidden
penetralia around, moving swiftly across and sometimes darting in shoals
before him. They began to appear in such vast numbers that Brandon
thought of the monster which lay a mangled heap upon the surface above,
and fancied that perhaps his kindred were waiting to avenge his death.
As this fear came full and well defined before him he drew from his belt
the knife which Asgeelo had given him, and Frank had urged him to take,
feeling himself less helpless if he held this in his hand.
The fishes moved about him, coming on in new and more startled crowds,
some dashing past, others darting upward, and others moving swiftly
ahead. One large one was there with a train of followers, which moved up
and floated for a moment directly in front of him, its large, staring
eyes seeming to view him in wonder, and solemnly working its gills. But
as Brandon came close it gave a sudden turn and darted off with all its
At last, amidst all these wonders, he saw far ahead something which
drove all other thoughts away, whether of fear, or of danger, or of
horror, and filled all his soul with an overmastering passion of desire
It was a dark object, too remote as yet to be distinctly visible, yet as
it rose there his fancy seemed to trace the outline of a ship, or what
might once have been a ship. The presentation of his hope before him
thus in what seemed like a reality was too much. He stood still, and his
heart beat with fierce throbs.
The hope was so precious that for a time he hesitated to advance, for
fear lest the hope might be dispelled forever. And then to fail at this
place, after so long a search, when he seemed to have reached the end,
would be an intolerable grief.
There, too, was that strange pathway which seemed made on purpose. How
came it there? He thought that perhaps the object lying before him might
have caused some current which set in there and prevented the growth of
plants in that place. These and many other thoughts came to him as he
stood, unwilling to move.
But at last he conquered his feelings, and advanced. Hope grew strong
within him. He thought of the time on Coffin Island when, in like
manner, he had hesitated before a like object.
Might not this, like that, turn out to be a ship? And now, by a strange
revulsion, all his feelings urged him on; hope was strong, suspense
unendurable. Whatever that object was, he must know.
It might indeed be a rock. He had passed one shortly before, which had
gradually declined into the bottom of the sea; this might be a
continuation of the same, which after an interval had arisen again from
the bottom. It was long and high at one end, and rounded forward at the
other. Such a shape was perfectly natural for a rock. He tried to crush
down hope, so as to be prepared for disappointment. He tried to convince
himself that it must be a rock, and could by no possibility be any thing
else. Yet his efforts were totally fruitless. Still the conviction
remained that it was a ship, and if so, it could be no other than the
one he sought.
As he went on all the marine vegetation ceased. The coral rocks
continued no further. Now all around the bottom of the sea was flat, and
covered with fine gravel, like that which he had touched when he first
came down. The fishes had departed. The sense of solemnity left him;
only one thing was perceptible, and that was the object toward which he
walked. And now he felt within him such an uncontrollable impulse that
even if he had wished he could neither have paused nor gone back. To go
forward was only possible. It seemed to him as though some external
influence had penetrated his body, and forced him to move. Again, as
once before, he recalled the last words of his father, so well
--"If in that other world to which I am going the disembodied spirit can
assist man, then be sure, oh my son, I will assist you, and in the
crisis of your fate I will be near, if it is only to communicate to your
spirit what you ought to do--"
It was Ralph Brandon who had said this. Here in this object which lay
before him, if it were indeed the ship, he imagined the spirit of
another Ralph Brandon present, awaiting him.
Suddenly a dark shadow passed over his head, which forced him
involuntarily to look up. In spite of his excitement a shudder passed
through him. Far overhead, at the surface of the sea the boat was
floating. But half-way up were three dark objects moving slowly and
lazily along. They were sharks.
To him, in his loneliness and weakness, nothing ever seemed so menacing
as these three demons of the deep as he stared up at them. Had they seen
him? that was now his thought. He clutched his knife in a firmer hold,
feeling all the while how utterly helpless he was, and shrinking away
into himself from the terror above. The monsters moved leisurely about,
at one time grazing the tube, and sending down a vibration which
thrilled like an electric shock through him. For a moment he thought
that they were malignantly tormenting him, and had done this on purpose
in order to send down to him a message of his fate.
The time seemed endless. Yet at last the end came. The sharks could not
have seen him, for they gradually moved away until they were out of
Brandon did not dare to advance for some time. Yet now, since the spell
of this presence was removed, his horror left him, and his former hope
animated all his soul.
There lay that object before him. Could he advance again after that
warning? Dared he? This new realm into which he had ventured had indeed
those who were ready and able to inflict a sudden and frightful
vengeance upon the rash intruder. He had passed safely among the horrors
of the coral forest; but here, on this plateau, could he hope to be so
safe? Might not the slightest movement on his part create a disturbance
of water sufficient to awaken the attention of those departed enemies
and bring them back?
This was his fear. But hope, and a resolute will, and a determination to
risk all on this last hazard, alike impelled him on. Danger now lay
every where, above as well as below. An advance was not more perilous
than an ascent to the boat. Taking comfort from this last thought he
moved onward with a steady, determined step.
Hope grew stronger as he drew nearer. The dark mass gradually formed
itself into a more distinct outline. The uncertain lines defined into
more certain shape, and the resemblance to a ship became greater and
greater. He could no longer resist the conviction that this must be a
Still he tried feebly to prepare for disappointment, and made faint
fancies as to the reason why a rock should be formed here in this shape.
All the time he scouted those fancies and felt assured that it was not a
Nearer and nearer. Doubt no longer remained. He stood close beside it.
It was indeed a ship! Its sides rose high over head. Its lofty stern
stood up like a tower, after the fashion of a ship of the days of Queen
Elizabeth. The masts had fallen and lay, encumbered with the rigging,
over the side.
Brandon walked all around it, his heart beating fast, seeing at every
step some new proof that this must be no other, by any conceivable
possibility, than the one which he sought. On reaching the bows he saw
the outline of a bird carved for the figure-head, and knew that this
must be the _Phoenix_.
He walked around. The bottom was sandy and the ship had settled down to
some depth. Her sides were covered with fine dark shells, like an
incrustation, to a depth of an inch, mingled with a short growth of a
green, slimy sea-weed.
At last he could delay no longer. One of the masts lay over the side,
and this afforded an easy way by which he could clamber upward upon the
In a few moments Brandon stood upon the deck of the _Phoenix_.
The ship which had thus lain here through centuries, saturated with
water that had penetrated to its inmost fibre, still held together
sturdily. Beneath the sea the water itself had acted as a preservative,
and retarded or prevented decay. Brandon looked around as he stood
there, and the light that came from above, where the surface of the sea
was now much nearer than before, showed him all the extent of the ship.
The beams which supported the deck had lost their stiffness and sunk
downward; the masts, as before stated, had toppled over for the same
reason, yielding to their own weight, which, as the vessel was slightly
on one side, had gradually borne them down; the bowsprit also had
fallen. The hatchways had yielded, and, giving way, had sunk down within
the hold. The doors which led into the cabin in the lofty poop were
lying prostrate on the deck. The large sky-light which once had stood
there had also followed the same fate.
[Illustration: "THE MASTS HAD FALLEN AND LAY, ENCUMBERED WITH THE
RIGGING, OVER THE SIDE."]
Before going down Brandon had arranged a signal to send to Frank in case
he found the ship. In his excitement he had not yet given it. Before
venturing further he thought of this. But he decided not to make the
signal. The idea came, and was rejected amidst a world of varying hopes
and fears. He thought that if he was successful he himself would be the
best messenger of success; and, if not, he would be the best messenger
He advanced toward the cabin. Turning away from the door he clambered
upon the poop, and, looking down, tried to see what depth there might be
beneath. He saw something which looked as though it had once been a
table. Slowly and cautiously he let himself down through the opening,
and his feet touched bottom. He moved downward, and let his feet slide
till they touched the floor.
He was within the cabin.
The light here was almost equal to that with-out, for the sky-light was
very wide. The floor was sunken in like the deck of the ship. He looked
around to see where he might first search for the treasure. Suddenly his
eye caught sight of something which drove away every other thought.
At one end was a seat, and there, propped up against the wall, was a
skeleton in a sitting posture. Around it was a belt with a sword
attached. The figure had partly twisted itself round, but its bead and
shoulders were so propped up against the wall that it could not fall.
Brandon advanced, filled with a thousand emotions. One hand was lying
down in front. He lifted it. There was a gold ring on the bony finger.
He took it off. In the dim light he saw, cut in bold relief on this
seal-ring, the crest of his family--a Phoenix.
It was his ancestor himself who was before him.
Here he had calmly taken his seat when the ship was settling slowly down
into the embrace of the waters. Here he had taken his seat, calmly and
sternly, awaiting his death--perhaps with a feeling of grim triumph that
he could thus elude his foes. This was the man, and this the hand, which
had written the message that had drawn the descendant here.
Such were the thoughts that passed through Brandon's mind. He put the
ring on his own finger and turned away. His ancestor had summoned him
hither, and here he was. Where was the treasure that was promised?
Brandon's impatience now rose to a fever. Only one thought filled his
mind. All around the cabin were little rooms, into each of which he
looked. The doors had all fallen away. Yet he saw nothing in any of
He stood for a moment in deep doubt. Where could he look? Could he
venture down into the dark hold and explore? How could he hope to find
any thing there, amidst the ruins of that interior where guns and chains
lay, perhaps all mingled together where they had fallen? It would need a
longer time to find it than he had at first supposed. Yet would he
falter? No! Rather than give up he would pass years here, till he had
dismembered the whole ship and strewn every particle of her piecemeal
over the bottom of the sea. Yet he had hoped to solve the whole mystery
at the first visit; and now, since he saw no sign of any thing like
treasure, he was for a while at a loss what to do.
His ancestor had summoned him, and he had come. Where was the treasure?
Where? Why could not that figure arise and show him?
Such were his thoughts. Yet these thoughts, the result of excitement
that was now a frenzy, soon gave rise to others that were calmer.
He reflected that perhaps some other feeling than what he had at first
imagined might have inspired that grim old Englishman when he took his
seat there and chose to drown on that seat rather than move away. Some
other feeling, and what feeling? Some feeling which must have been the
strongest in his heart. What was that? The one which had inspired the
message, the desire to secure still more that treasure for which he had
toiled and fought. His last act was to send the message, why should he
not have still borne that thought in his mind and carried it till he
The skeleton was at one end, supported by the wall. Two posts projected
on each side. A heavy oaken chair stood there, which had once perhaps
been fastened to the floor. Brandon thought that he would first examine
that wall. Perhaps there might be some opening there.
He took the skeleton in his arms reverently, and proceeded to lift it
from the chair: He could not. He looked more narrowly, and saw a chain
which had been fastened around it and bound it to the chair.
What was the meaning of this? Had the crew mutinied, bound the captain,
and run? Had the Spaniards seized the ship after all? Had they recovered
the spoil, and punished in this way the plunderer of three galleons, by
binding him here to the chair, scuttling the ship, and sending him down
to the bottom of the sea?
The idea of the possibility of this made Brandon sick with anxiety. He
pulled the chair away, put it on one side, and began to examine the
wooden wall by running his hand along it. There was nothing whatever
perceptible. The wall was on the side farthest from the stern, and
almost amidships. He pounded it, and, by the feeling, knew that it was
hollow behind. He walked to the door which was on one side, and passed
in behind this very wall. There was nothing there. It had once perhaps
been used as part of the cabin. He came back disconsolately, and stood
on the very place where the chair had been.
"Let me be calm," he said to himself. "This enterprise is hopeless. Yes,
the Spaniards captured the ship, recovered the treasure, and drowned my
ancestor. Let me not be deceived. Let me cast away hope, and search here
without any idle expectation."
Suddenly as he thought he felt the floor gradually giving way beneath
him. He started, but before he could move or even think in what
direction to go the floor sank in, and he at once sank with it downward.
Had it not been that the tube was of ample extent, and had been
carefully managed so as to guard against any abrupt descent among rocks
at the bottom of the sea, this sudden fall might have ended Brandon's
career forever. As it was he only sank quickly, but without accident,
until his breast was on a level with the cabin floor.