Part 2 out of 8
All this time, it is probable that Negoro did not share the enthusiasm
of the ship in regard to the animal. Perhaps he found it too
intelligent. However, the dog always showed the same animosity against
the head cook, and, doubtless, would have brought upon itself some
misfortune, if it had not been, for one thing, "a dog to defend
itself," and for another, protected by the sympathy of the whole crew.
So Negoro avoided coming into Dingo's presence more than ever. But Dick
Sand had observed that since the incident of the two letters, the
reciprocal antipathy between the man and the dog was increased. That
was truly inexplicable.
On February 10th, the wind from the northeast, which, till then, had
always succeeded those long and overwhelming calms, during which the
"Pilgrim" was stationary, began to abate perceptibly. Captain Hull then
could hope that a change in the direction of the atmospheric currents
was going to take place. Perhaps the schooner would finally sail with
the wind. It was still only nineteen days since her departure from the
port of Auckland. The delay was not yet of much account, and, with a
favorable wind, the "Pilgrim," well rigged, would easily make up for
lost time. But several days must still elapse before the breezes would
blow right from the west.
This part of the Pacific was always deserted. No vessel showed itself
in these parts. It was a latitude truly forsaken by navigators. The
whalers of the southern seas were not yet prepared to go beyond the
tropic. On the "Pilgrim," which peculiar circumstances had obliged to
leave the fishing grounds before the end of the season, they must not
expect to cross any ship bound for the same destination.
As to the trans-pacific packet-boats, it has been already said that
they did not follow so high a parallel in their passages between
Australia and the American continent.
However, even if the sea is deserted, one must not give up observing it
to the extreme limits of the horizon. Monotonous as it may appear to
heedless minds, it is none the less infinitely varied for him who knows
how to comprehend it. Its slightest changes charm the imagination of
one who feels the poetry of the ocean. A marine herb which floats up
and down on the waves, a branch of sargasso whose light track zebras,
the surface of the waters, and end of a board, whose history he would
wish to guess, he would need nothing more. Facing this infinite, the
mind is no longer stopped by anything. Imagination runs riot. Each of
those molecules of water, that evaporation is continually changing from
the sea to the sky, contains perhaps the secret of some catastrophe.
So, those are to be envied, whose inner consciousness knows how to
interrogate the mysteries of the ocean, those spirits who rise from its
moving surface to the heights of heaven.
Besides, life always manifests itself above as well as below the seas.
The "Pilgrim's" passengers could see flights of birds excited in the
pursuit of the smallest fishes, birds which, before winter, fly from
the cold climate of the poles. And more than once, Dick Sand, a scholar
of Mrs. Weldon's in that branch as in others, gave proofs of marvelous
skill with the gun and pistol, in bringing down some of those
There were white petrels here; there, other petrels, whose wings were
embroidered with brown. Sometimes, also, companies of _damiers_ passed,
or some of those penquins whose gait on land is so heavy and so
ridiculous. However, as Captain Hull remarked, these penquins, using
their stumps like true fins, can challenge the most rapid fishes in
swimming, to such an extent even, that sailors have often confounded
them with bonitoes.
Higher, gigantic albatrosses beat the air with great strokes,
displaying an extent of ten feet between the extremities of their
wings, and then came to light on the surface of the waters, which they
searched with their beaks to get their food.
All these scenes made a varied spectacle, that only souls closed to the
charms of nature would have found monotonous.
That day Mrs. Weldon was walking aft on the "Pilgrim," when a rather
curious phenomenon attracted her attention. The waters of the sea had
become reddish quite suddenly. One might have believed that they had
just been stained with blood; and this inexplicable tinge extended as
far as the eye could reach.
Dick Sand. was then with little Jack near Mrs. Weldon.
"Dick," she said to the young novice, "Do you see that singular color
of the waters of the Pacific? Is it due to the presence of a marine
"No, Mrs. Weldon," replied Dick Sand, "that tinge is produced by
myriads of little crustaceans, which generally serve to nourish the
great mammifers. Fishermen call that, not without reason, 'whales'
"Crustaceans!" said Mrs. Weldon. "But they are so small that we might
almost call them sea insects. Perhaps Cousin Benedict would be very
much enchanted to make a collection of them." Then calling: "Cousin
Benedict!" cried she.
Cousin Benedict appeared out of the companion-way almost at the same
time as Captain Hull.
"Cousin Benedict," said Mrs. Weldon, "see that immense reddish field
which extends as far as we can see."
"Hold!" said Captain Hull. "That is whales' food. Mr. Benedict, a fine
occasion to study this curious species of crustacea."
"Phew!" from the entomologist.
"How--phew!" cried the captain. "But you have no right to profess such
indifference. These crustaceans form one of the six classes of the
articulates, if I am not mistaken, and as such----"
"Phew!" said Cousin Benedict again, shaking his lead.
"For instance----I find you passably disdainful for an entomologist!"
"Entomologist, it may be," replied Cousin Benedict, "but more
particularly hexapodist, Captain Hull, please remember."
"At all events," replied Captain Hull, "if these crustaceans do not
interest you, it can't be helped; but it would be otherwise if you
possessed a whale's stomach. Then what a regale! Do you see, Mrs.
Weldon, when we whalers, during the fishing season, arrive in sight of
a shoal of these crustaceans, we have only time to prepare our harpoons
and our lines. We are certain that the game is not distant."
"Is it possible that such little beasts can feed such large ones?"
"Ah! my boy," replied Captain Hull, "little grains of vermicelli, of
flour, of fecula powder, do they not make very good porridge? Yes; and
nature has willed that it should be so. When a whale floats in the
midst of these red waters, its soup is served; it has only to open its
immense mouth. Myriads of crustaceans enter it. The numerous plates of
those whalebones with which the animal's palate is furnished serve to
strain like fishermen's nets; nothing can get out of them again, and
the mass of crustaceans is ingulfed in the whale's vast stomach, as the
soup of your dinner in yours."
"You think right, Jack," observed Dick Sand, "that Madam Whale does not
lose time in picking these crustaceans one by one, as you pick shrimps."
"I may add," said Captain Hull, "that it is just when the enormous
gourmand is occupied in this way, that it is easiest to approach it
without exciting its suspicion. That is the favorable moment to harpoon
it with some success."
At that instant, and as if to corroborate Captain Hull, a sailor's
voice was heard from the front of the ship:
"A whale to larboard!"
Captain Hull strode up.
"A whale!" cried he.
And his fisherman's instinct urging him, he hastened to the "Pilgrim's"
Mrs. Weldon, Jack, Dick Sand, Cousin Benedict himself, followed him at
In fact, four miles to windward a certain bubbling indicated that a
huge marine mammifer was moving in the midst of the red waters. Whalers
could not be mistaken in it. But the distance was still too
considerable to make it possible to recognize the species to which this
mammifer belonged. These species, in fact, are quite distinct.
Was it one of those "right" whales, which the fishermen of the Northern
Ocean seek most particularly? Those cetaceans, which lack the dorsal
fin, but whose skin covers a thick stratum of lard, may attain a length
of eighty feet, though the average does not exceed sixty, and then a
single one of those monsters furnishes as much as a hundred barrels of
Was it, on the contrary, a "humpback," belonging to the species of
baloenopters, a designation whose termination should at least gain it
the entomologist's esteem? These possess dorsal fins, white in color,
and as long as half the body, which resemble a pair of wings--something
like a flying whale.
Had they not in view, more likely, a "finback" mammifer, as well known
by the name "jubarte," which is provided with a dorsal fin, and whose
length may equal that of the "right" whale?
Captain Hull and his crew could not yet decide, but they regarded the
animal with more desire than admiration.
If it is true that a clockmaker cannot find himself in a room in the
presence of a clock without experiencing the irresistible wish to wind
it up, how much more must the whaler, before a whale, be seized with
the imperative desire to take possession of it? The hunters of large
game, they say, are more eager than the hunters of small game. Then,
the larger the animal, the more it excites covetousness. Then, how
should hunters of elephants and fishers of whalers feel? And then there
was that disappointment, felt by all the "Pilgrim's" crew, of returning
with an incomplete cargo.
Meanwhile, Captain Hull tried to distinguish the animal which had been
signaled in the offing. It was not very visible from that distance.
Nevertheless, the trained eye of a whaler could not be deceived in
certain details easier to discern at a distance.
In fact, the water-spout, that is, that column of vapor and water which
the whale throws back by its rents, would attract Captain Hull's
attention, and fix it on the species to which this cetacean belonged.
"That is not a 'right' whale," cried he. "Its water-spout would be at
once higher and of a smaller volume. On the other hand, if the noise
made by that spout in escaping could be compared to the distant noise
of a cannon, I should be led to believe that that whale belongs to the
species of 'humpbacks;' but there is nothing of the kind, and, on
listening, we are assured that this noise is of quite a different
nature. What is your opinion on this subject, Dick?" asked Captain
Hull, turning toward the novice.
"I am ready to believe, captain," replied Dick Sand, "that we have to
do with a jubarte. See how his rents throw that column of liquid
violently into the air. Does it not seem to you also--which would
confirm my idea--that that spout contains more water than condensed
vapor? And, if I am not mistaken, it is a special peculiarity of the
"In fact, Dick," replied Captain Hull, "there is no longer any doubt
possible! It is a jubarte which floats on the surface of these red
"That's fine," cried little Jack.
"Yes, my boy! and when we think that the great beast is there, in
process of breakfasting, and little suspecting that the whalers are
"I would dare to affirm that it is a jubarte of great size," observed
"Truly," replied Captain Hull, who was gradually becoming more excited.
"I think it is at least seventy feet long!"
"Good!" added the boatswain. "Half a dozen whales of that size would
suffice to fill a ship as large as ours!"
"Yes, that would be sufficient," replied Captain Hull, who mounted on
the bowsprit to see better.
"And with this one," added the boatswain, "we should take on board in a
few hours the half of the two hundred barrels of oil which we lack."
"Yes!--truly--yes!" murmured Captain Hull.
"That is true," continued Dick Sand; "but it is sometimes a hard matter
to attack those enormous jubartes!"
"Very hard, very hard!" returned Captain Hull. "Those baloenopters have
formidable tails, which must not be approached without distrust. The
strongest pirogue would not resist a well-given blow. But, then, the
profit is worth the trouble!"
"Bah!" said one of the sailors, "a fine jubarte is all the same a fine
"And profitable!" replied another.
"It would be a pity not to salute this one on the way!"
It was evident that these brave sailors were growing excited in looking
at the whale. It was a whole cargo of barrels of oil that was floating
within reach of their hands. To hear them, without doubt there was
nothing more to be done, except to stow those barrels in the
"Pilgrim's" hold to complete her lading. Some of the sailors, mounted
on the ratlines of the fore-shrouds, uttered longing cries. Captain
Hull, who no longer spoke, was in a dilemma. There was something there,
like an irresistible magnet, which attracted the "Pilgrim" and all her
"Mama, mama!" then cried little Jack, "I should like to have the whale,
to see how it is made."
"Ah! you wish to have this whale, my boy? Ah! why not, my friends?"
replied Captain Hull, finally yielding to his secret desire. "Our
additional fishermen are lacking, it is true, but we alone----"
"Yes! yes!" cried the sailors, with a single voice.
"This will not be the first time that I have followed the trade of
harpooner," added Captain Hull, "and you will see if I still know how
to throw the harpoon!"
"Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah!" responded the crew.
* * * * *
It will be understood that the sight of this prodigious mammifer was
necessary to produce such excitement on board the "Pilgrim."
The whale, which floated in the middle of the red waters, appeared
enormous. To capture it, and thus complete the cargo, that was very
tempting. Could fishermen let such an occasion escape them?
However, Mrs. Weldon believed she ought to ask Captain Hull if it was
not dangerous for his men and for him to attack a whale under those
"No, Mrs. Weldon," replied Captain Hull. "More than once it has been my
lot to hunt the whale with a single boat, and I have always finished by
taking possession of it. I repeat it, there is no danger for us, nor,
consequently, for yourself."
Mrs. Weldon, reassured, did not persist.
Captain Hull at once made his preparations for capturing the jubarte.
He knew by experience that the pursuit of that baloenopter was not free
from difficulties, and he wished to parry all.
What rendered this capture less easy was that the schooner's crew could
only work by means of a single boat, while the "Pilgrim" possessed a
long-boat, placed on its stocks between the mainmast and the
mizzen-mast, besides three whale-boats, of which two were suspended on
the larboard and starboard pegs, and the third aft, outside the
Generally these three whale-boats were employed simultaneously in the
pursuit of cetaceans. But during the fishing season, we know, an
additional crew, hired at the stations of New Zealand, came to the
assistance of the "Pilgrim's" sailors.
Now, in the present circumstances, the "Pilgrim" could only furnish the
five sailors on board--that is, enough to arm a single whale-boat. To
utilize the group of Tom and his friends, who had offered themselves at
once, was impossible. In fact, the working of a fishing pirogue
requires very well trained seamen. A false move of the helm, or a false
stroke of an oar, would be enough to compromise the safety of the
whale-boat during an attack.
On the other hand, Captain Hull did not wish to leave his ship without
leaving on board at least one man from the crew, in whom he had
confidence. It was necessary to provide for all eventualities.
Now Captain Hull, obliged to choose strong seamen to man the
whale-boat, was forced to put on Dick Sand the care of guarding the
"Dick," said he to him, "I shall charge you to remain on board during
my absence, which I hope will be short."
"Well, sir," replied the young novice.
Dick Sand would have wished to take part in this fishing, which had a
great attraction for him, but he understood that, for one reason, a
man's arms were worth more than his for service in a whale-boat, and
that for another, he alone could replace Captain Hull. So he was
satisfied. The whale-boat's crew must be composed of the five men,
including the master, Howik, which formed the whole crew of the
"Pilgrim." The four sailors were going to take their places at the
oars, and Howik would hold the stern oar, which serves to guide a boat
of this kind. A simple rudder, in fact, would not have a prompt enough
action, and in case the side oars should be disabled, the stern oar,
well handled, could put the whale-boat beyond the reach of the
There was only Captain Hull besides. He had reserved to himself the
post of harpooner, and, as he had said, this would not be his first
attempt. It was he who must first throw the harpoon, then watch the
unrolling of the long line fastened at its end; then, finally finish
the animal with spears, when it should return to the surface of the
Whalers sometimes employ firearms for this kind of fishing. By means of
a special instrument, a sort of small cannon, stationed either on board
the ship or at the front of the boat, they throw either a harpoon,
which draws with it the rope fastened to its end, or explosive balls,
which produce great ravages in the body of the animal.
But the "Pilgrim" was not furnished with apparatus of this kind. This
was, besides, an instrument of high price, rather difficult to manage,
and fishermen, but little friendly to innovations, seem to prefer the
employment of primitive weapons, which they use skilfully--that is to
say,--the harpoon and spear.
It was then by the usual method, attacking the whale with the sword,
that Captain Hull was going to attempt to capture the jubarte signaled
five miles from his ship.
Besides, the weather would favor this expedition. The sea, being very
calm, was propitious for the working of a whale-boat. The wind was
going down, and the "Pilgrim" would only drift in an insensible manner
while her crew were occupied in the offing.
So the starboard whale-boat was immediately lowered, and the four
sailors went into it.
Howik passed them two of those long spears which serve as harpoons,
then two long lances with sharp points. To those offensive arms he
added five coils of those strong flexible ropes that the whalers call
"lines," and which measure six hundred feet in length. Less would not
do, for it sometimes happens that these cords, fastened end to end, are
not enough for the "demand," the whale plunges down so deep.
Such were the different weapons which were carefully disposed in the
front of the boat.
Howik and the four sailors only waited for the order to let go the rope.
A single place was vacant in the prow of the whale-boat--that which
Captain Hull would occupy.
It is needless to say that the "Pilgrim's" crew, before quitting her,
had brought the ship's sails aback. In other words, the yards were
braced in such a manner that the sails, counteracting their action,
kept the vessel almost stationary.
Just as he was about to embark, Captain Hull gave a last glance at his
ship. He was sure that all was in order, the halliards well turned, the
sails suitably trimmed. As he was leaving the young novice on board
during an absence which might last several hours, he wished, with a
good reason, that unless for some urgent cause, Dick Sand would not
have to execute a single maneuver.
At the moment of departing he gave the young man some last words of
"Dick," said he, "I leave you alone. Watch over everything. If, as is
possible, it should become necessary to get the ship under way, in case
we should be led too far in pursuit of this jubarte, Tom and his
companions could come to your aid perfectly well. After telling them
clearly what they would have to do, I am assured that they would do it."
"Yes, Captain Hull," replied old Tom, "and Mr. Dick can count on us."
"Command! command!" cried Bat. "We have such a strong desire to make
"On what must we pull?" asked Hercules, turning up the large sleeves of
"On nothing just now," replied Dick Sand, smiling.
"At your service," continued the colossus.
"Dick," continued Captain Hull, "the weather is beautiful. The wind has
gone down. There is no indication that it will freshen again. Above
all, whatever may happen, do not put a boat to sea, and do not leave
"That is understood."
"If it should become necessary for the 'Pilgrim' to come to us, I shall
make a signal to you, by hoisting a flag at the end of a boat-hook."
"Rest assured, captain, I shall not lose sight of the whale-boat,"
replied Dick Sand.
"Good, my boy," replied Captain Hull. "Courage and coolness. Behold
yourself assistant captain. Do honor to your grade. No one has been
such at your age!"
Dick Sand did not reply, but he blushed while smiling. Captain Hull
understood that blush and that smile.
"The honest boy!" he said to himself; "modesty and good humor, in
truth, it is just like him!"
Meanwhile, by these urgent recommendations, it was plain that, even
though there would be no danger in doing it, Captain Hull did not leave
his ship willingly, even for a few hours. But an irresistible
fisherman's instinct, above all, the strong desire to complete his
cargo of oil, and not fall short of the engagements made by James W.
Weldon in Valparaiso, all that told him to attempt the adventure.
Besides, that sea, so fine, was marvelously conducive to the pursuit of
a cetacean. Neither his crew nor he could resist such a temptation. The
fishing cruise would be finally complete, and this last consideration
touched Captain Hull's heart above everything.
Captain Hull went toward the ladder.
"I wish you success," said Mrs. Weldon to him.
"Thank you, Mrs. Weldon."
"I beg you, do not do too much harm to the poor whale," cried little
"No, my boy," replied Captain Hull.
"Take it very gently, sir."
"Yes--with gloves, little Jack."
"Sometimes," observed Cousin Benedict, "we find rather curious insects
on the back of these large mammals."
"Well, Mr. Benedict," replied Captain Hull, laughing, "you shall have
the right to 'entomologize' when our jubarte will be alongside of the
Then turning to Tom:
"Tom, I count on your companions and you," said he, "to assist us in
cutting up the whale, when it is lashed to the ship's hull--which will
not be long."
"At your disposal, sir," replied the old black.
"Good!" replied Captain Hull.
"Dick, these honest men will aid you in preparing the empty barrels.
During our absence they will bring them on deck, and by this means the
work will go fast on our return."
"That shall be done, captain."
For the benefit of those who do not know, it is necessary to say that
the jubarte, once dead, must be towed as far as the "Pilgrim," and
firmly lashed to her starboard side. Then the sailors, shod in boots,
with cramp-hooks would take their places on the back of the enormous
cetacean, and cut it up methodically in parallel bands marked off from
the head to the tail. These bands would be then cut across in slices of
a foot and a half, then divided into pieces, which, after being stowed
in the barrels, would be sent to the bottom of the hold.
Generally the whaling ship, when the fishing is over, manages to land
as soon as possible, so as to finish her manipulations. The crew lands,
and then proceeds to melt the lard, which, under the action of the
heat, gives up all its useful part--that is, the oil. In this
operation, the whale's lard weighs about a third of its weight.
But, under present circumstances, Captain Hull could not dream of
putting back to finish that operation. He only counted on melting this
quantity of lard at Valparaiso. Besides, with winds which could not
fail to hail from the west, he hoped to make the American coast before
twenty days, and that lapse of time could not compromise the results of
The moment for setting out had come. Before the "Pilgrim's" sails had
been brought aback, she had drawn a little nearer to the place where
the jubarte continued to signal its presence by jets of vapor and water.
The jubarte was all this time swimming in the middle of the vast red
field of crustaceans, opening its large mouth automatically, and
absorbing at each draught myriads of animalcules.
According to the experienced ones on board, there was no fear that the
whale dreamt of escaping. It was, doubtless, what the whalers call a
Captain Hull strode over the netting, and, descending the rope ladder,
he reached the prow of the whale-boat.
Mrs. Weldon, Jack, Cousin Benedict, Tom, and his companions, for a last
time wished the captain success.
Dingo itself, rising on its paws and passing its head above the
railing, seemed to wish to say good-by to the crew.
Then all returned to the prow, so as to lose none of the very
attractive movements of such a fishing.
The whale-boat put off, and, under the impetus of its four oars,
vigorously handled, it began to distance itself from the "Pilgrim."
"Watch well, Dick, watch well!" cried Captain Hull to the young novice
for the last time.
"Count on me, sir."
"One eye for the ship, one eye for the whale-boat, my boy. Do not
"That shall be done, captain," replied Dick Sand, who went to take his
place near the helm.
Already the light boat was several hundred feet from the ship. Captain
Hull, standing at the prow, no longer able to make himself heard,
renewed his injunctions by the most expressive gestures.
It was then that Dingo, its paws still resting on the railing, gave a
sort of lamentable bark, which would have an unfavorable effect upon
men somewhat given to superstition.
That bark even made Mrs. Weldon shudder.
"Dingo," said she, "Dingo, is that the way you encourage your friends?
Come, now, a fine bark, very clear, very sonorous, very joyful."
But the dog barked no more, and, letting itself fall back on its paws,
it came slowly to Mrs. Weldon, whose hand it licked affectionately.
"It does not wag its tail," murmured Tom in a low tone. "Bad sign--bad
But almost at once Dingo stood up, and a howl of anger escaped it.
Mrs. Weldon turned round.
Negoro had just left his quarters, and was going toward the forecastle,
with the intention, no doubt, of looking for himself at the movements
of the whale-boat.
Dingo rushed at the head cook, a prey to the strongest as well as to
the most inexplicable fury.
Negoro seized a hand-spike and took an attitude of defense.
The dog was going to spring at his throat.
"Here, Dingo, here!" cried Dick Sand, who, leaving his post of
observation for an instant, ran to the prow of the ship.
Mrs. Weldon on her side, sought to calm the dog.
Dingo obeyed, not without repugnance, and returned to the young novice,
Negoro had not pronounced a single word, but his face had grown pale
for a moment. Letting go of his hand-spike, he regained his cabin.
"Hercules," then said Dick Sand, "I charge you especially to watch over
"I shall watch," simply replied Hercules, clenching his two enormous
fists in sign of assent.
Mrs. Weldon and Dick Sand then turned their eyes again on the
whale-boat, which the four oarsmen bore rapidly away.
It was nothing but a speck on the sea.
* * * * *
Captain Hull, an experienced whaler, would leave nothing to chance. The
capture of a jubarte is a difficult thing. No precaution ought to be
neglected. None was in this case.
And, first of all, Captain Hull sailed so as to come up to the whale on
the leeward, so that no noise might disclose the boat's approach.
Howik then steered the whale-boat, following the rather elongated curve
of that reddish shoal, in the midst of which floated the jubarte. They
would thus turn the curve.
The boatswain, set over this work, was a seaman of great coolness, who
inspired Captain Hull with every confidence. He had not to fear either
hesitation or distraction from Howik.
"Attention to the steering, Howik," said Captain Hull. "We are going to
try to surprise the jubarte. We will only show ourselves when we are
near enough to harpoon it."
"That is understood, sir," replied the boatswain.
"I am going to follow the contour of these reddish waters, so as to
keep to the leeward."
"Good!" said Captain Hull. "Boys, as little noise as possible in
The oars, carefully muffled with straw, worked silently. The boat,
skilfully steered by the boatswain, had reached the large shoal of
crustaceans. The starboard oars still sank in the green and limpid
water, while those to larboard, raising the reddish liquid, seemed to
rain drops of blood.
"Wine and water!" said one of the sailors.
"Yes," replied Captain Hull, "but water that we cannot drink, and wine
that we cannot swallow. Come, boys, let us not speak any more, and
The whale-boat, steered by the boatswain, glided noiselessly on the
surface of those half-greased waters, as if it were floating on a bed
The jubarte did not budge, and did not seem to have yet perceived the
boat, which described a circle around it.
Captain Hull, in making the circuit, necessarily went farther than the
"Pilgrim," which gradually grew smaller in the distance. This rapidity
with which objects diminish at sea has always an odd effect. It seems
as if we look at them shortened through the large end of a telescope.
This optical illusion evidently takes place because there are no points
of comparison on these large spaces. It was thus with the "Pilgrim,"
which decreased to the eye and seemed already much more distant than
she really was.
Half an hour after leaving her, Captain Hull and his companions found
themselves exactly to the leeward of the whale, so that the latter
occupied an intermediate point between the ship and the boat.
So the moment had come to approach, while making as little noise as
possible. It was not impossible for them to get beside the animal and
harpoon it at good range, before its attention would be attracted.
"Row more slowly, boys," said Captain Hull, in a low voice.
"It seems to me," replied Howik, "that the gudgeon suspects something.
It breathes less violently than it did just now!"
"Silence! silence!" repeated Captain Hull.
Five minutes later the whale-boat was at a cable's length from the
jubarte. A cable's length, a measure peculiar to the sea, comprises a
length of one hundred and twenty fathoms, that is to say, two hundred
The boatswain, standing aft, steered in such a manner as to approach
the left side of the mammal, but avoiding, with the greatest care,
passing within reach of the formidable tail, a single blow of which
would be enough to crush the boat.
At the prow Captain Hull, his legs a little apart to maintain his
equilibrium, held the weapon with which he was going to give the first
blow. They could count on his skill to fix that harpoon in the thick
mass which emerged from the waters.
Near the captain, in a pail, was coiled the first of the five lines,
firmly fastened to the harpoon, and to which they would successively
join the other four if the whale plunged to great depths.
"Are we ready, boys?" murmured Captain Hull.
"Yes," replied Howik, grasping his oar firmly in his large hands.
The boatswain obeyed the order, and the whale-boat came within less
than ten feet of the animal.
The latter no longer moved, and seemed asleep.
Whales thus surprised while asleep offer an easier prize, and it often
happens that the first blow which is given wounds them mortally.
"This immovableness is quite astonishing!" thought Captain Hull. "The
rascal ought not to be asleep, and nevertheless----there is something
The boatswain thought the same, and he tried to see the opposite side
of the animal.
But it was not the moment to reflect, but to attack.
Captain Hull, holding his harpoon by the middle of the handle, balanced
it several times, to make sure of good aim, while he examined the
jubarte's side. Then he threw it with all the strength of his arm.
"Back, back!" cried he at once.
And the sailors, pulling together, made the boat recoil rapidly, with
the intention of prudently putting it in safety from the blows of the
But at that moment a cry from the boatswain made them understand why
the whale was so extraordinarily motionless for so long a time on the
surface of the sea.
"A young whale!" said he.
In fact, the jubarte, after having been struck by the harpoon, was
almost entirely overturned on the side, thus discovering a young whale,
which she was in process of suckling.
This circumstance, as Captain Hull well knew, would render the capture
of the jubarte much more difficult. The mother was evidently going to
defend herself with greater fury, as much for herself as to protect her
"little one "--if, indeed, we can apply that epithet to an animal which
did not measure less than twenty feet.
Meanwhile, the jubarte did not rush at the boat, as there was reason to
fear, and there was no necessity, before taking flight, to quickly cut
the line which connected the boat with the harpoon. On the contrary,
and as generally happens, the whale, followed by the young one, dived,
at first in a very oblique line; then rising again with an immense
bound, she commenced to cleave the waters with extreme rapidity.
But before she had made her first plunge, Captain Hull and the
boatswain, both standing, had had time to see her, and consequently to
estimate her at her true value.
This jubarte was, in reality, a whale of the largest size. From the
head to the tail, she measured at least eighty feet. Her skin, of a
yellowish brown, was much varied with numerous spots of a darker brown.
It would indeed be a pity, after an attack so happily begun, to be
under the necessity of abandoning so rich a prey.
The pursuit, or rather the towing, had commenced. The whale-boat, whose
oars had been raised, darted like an arrow while swinging on the tops
of the waves.
Howik kept it steady, notwithstanding those rapid and frightful
oscillations. Captain Hull, his eye on his prey, did not cease making
his eternal refrain:
"Be watchful, Howik, be watchful!"
And they could be sure that the boatswain's vigilance would not be at
fault for an instant.
Meanwhile, as the whale-boat did not fly nearly as fast as the whale,
the line of the harpoon spun out with such rapidity that it was to be
feared that it would take fire in rubbing against the edge of the
whale-boat. So Captain Hull took care to keep it damp, by filling with
water the pail at the bottom of which the line was coiled.
All this time the jubarte did not seem inclined to stop her flight, nor
willing to moderate it. The second line was then lashed to the end of
the first, and it was not long before it was played out with the same
At the end of five minutes it was necessary to join on the third line,
which ran off under the water.
The jubarte did not stop. The harpoon had evidently not penetrated into
any vital part of the body. They could even observe, by the increased
obliquity of the line, that the animal, instead of returning to the
surface, was sinking into lower depths.
"The devil!" cried Captain Hull, "but that rascal will use up our five
"And lead us to a good distance from the 'Pilgrim,'" replied the
"Nevertheless, she must return to the surface to breathe," replied
Captain Hull. "She is not a fish, and she must have the provision of
air like a common individual."
"She has held her breath to run better," said one of the sailors,
In fact, the line was unrolling all the time with equal rapidity.
To the third line, it was soon necessary to join the fourth, and that
was not done without making the sailors somewhat anxious touching their
future part of the prize.
"The devil! the devil!" murmured Captain Hull. "I have never seen
anything like that! Devilish jubarte!"
Finally the fifth line had to be let out, and it was already half
unrolled when it seemed to slacken.
"Good! good!" cried Captain Hull. "The line is less stiff. The jubarte
is getting tired."
At that moment, the "Pilgrim" was more than five miles to the leeward
of the whale-boat. Captain Hull, hoisting a flag at the end of a
boat-hook, gave the signal to come nearer.
And almost at once, he could see that Dick Sand, aided by Tom and his
companions, commenced to brace the yards in such a manner as to trim
them close to the wind.
But the breeze was feeble and irregular. It only came in short puffs.
Most certainly, the "Pilgrim" would have some trouble in joining the
whale-boat, if indeed she could reach it. Meanwhile, as they had
foreseen, the jubarte had returned to the surface of the water to
breathe, with the harpoon fixed in her side all the time. She then
remained almost motionless, seeming to wait for her young whale, which
this furious course must have left behind.
Captain Hull made use of the oars so as to join her again, and soon he
was only a short distance from her.
Two oars were laid down and two sailors armed themselves, as the
captain had done, with long lances, intended to strike the enemy.
Howik worked skilfully then, and held himself ready to make the boat
turn rapidly, in case the whale should turn suddenly on it.
"Attention!" cried Captain Hull. "Do not lose a blow! Aim well, boys!
Are we ready, Howik?"
"I am prepared, sir," replied the boatswain, "but one thing troubles
me. It is that the beast, after having fled so rapidly, is very quiet
"In fact, Howik, that seems to me suspicious. Let us be careful!"
"Yes, but let us go forward."
Captain Hull grew more and more animated.
The boat drew still nearer. The jubarte only turned in her place. Her
young one was no longer near her; perhaps she was trying to find it
Suddenly she made a movement with her tail, which took her thirty feet
Was she then going to take flight again, and must they take up this
interminable pursuit again on the surface of the waters?
"Attention!" cried Captain Hull. "The beast is going to take a spring
and throw herself on us. Steer, Howik, steer!"
The jubarte, in fact, had turned in such a manner as to present herself
in front of the whale-boat. Then, beating the sea violently with her
enormous fins, she rushed forward.
The boatswain, who expected this direct blow, turned in such a fashion
that the jubarte passed by the boat, but without reaching it.
Captain Hull and the two sailors gave her three vigorous thrusts on the
passage, seeking to strike some vital organ.
The jubarte stopped, and, throwing to a great height two columns of
water mingled with blood, she turned anew on the boat, bounding, so to
say, in a manner frightful to witness.
These seamen must have been expert fishermen, not to lose their
presence of mind on this occasion.
Howik again skilfully avoided the jubarte's attack, by darting the boat
Three new blows, well aimed, again gave the animal three new wounds.
But, in passing, she struck the water so roughly with her formidable
tail, that an enormous wave arose, as if the sea were suddenly opened.
The whale-boat almost capsized, and, the water rushing in over the
side, it was half filled.
"The bucket, the bucket!" cried Captain Hull.
The two sailors, letting go their oars, began to bale out the boat
rapidly, while the captain cut the line, now become useless.
No! the animal, rendered furious by grief, no longer dreamt of flight.
It was her turn to attack, and her agony threatened to be terrible.
A third time she turned round, "head to head," a seaman would say, and
threw herself anew on the boat.
But the whale-boat, half full of water, could no longer move with the
same facility. In this condition, how could it avoid the shock which
threatened it? If it could be no longer steered, there was still less
power to escape.
And besides, no matter how quickly the boat might be propelled, the
swift jubarte would have always overtaken it with a few bounds. It was
no longer a question of attack, but of defense.
Captain Hull understood it all.
The third attack of the animal could not be entirely kept off. In
passing she grazed the whale-boat with her enormous dorsal fin, but
with so much force that Howik was thrown down from his bench.
The three lances, unfortunately affected by the oscillation, this time
missed their aim.
"Howik! Howik!" cried Captain Hull, who himself had been hardly able to
keep his place.
"Present!" replied the boatswain, as he got up. But he then perceived
that in his fall his stern oar had broken in the middle.
"Another oar!" said Captain Hull.
"I have one," replied Howik.
At that moment, a bubbling took place under the waters only a few
fathoms from the boat.
The young whale had just reappeared. The jubarte saw it, and rushed
This circumstance could only give a more terrible character to the
contest. The whale was going to fight for two.
Captain Hull looked toward the "Pilgrim." His hand shook the boat-hook,
which bore the flag, frantically.
What could Dick Sand do that had not been already done at the first
signal from the captain? The "Pilgrim's" sails were trimmed, and the
wind commenced to fill them. Unhappily the schooner did not possess a
helix, by which the action could be increased to sail faster.
To lower one of the boats, and, with the aid of the blacks, row to the
assistance of the captain, would be a considerable loss of time;
besides, the novice had orders not to quit the ship, no matter what
happened. However, he had the stern-boat lowered from its pegs, and
towed it along, so that the captain and his companions might take
refuge in it, in case of need.
At that moment the jubarte, covering the young whale with her body, had
returned to the charge. This time she turned in such a manner as to
reach the boat exactly.
"Attention, Howik!" cried Captain Hull, for the last time.
But the boatswain was, so to speak, disarmed. Instead of a lever, whose
length gave force, he only held in his hand an oar relatively short. He
tried to put about; it was impossible.
The sailors knew that they were lost. All rose, giving a terrible cry,
which was perhaps heard on the "Pilgrim."
A terrible blow from the monster's tail had just struck the whale-boat
underneath. The boat, thrown into the air with irresistible violence,
fell back, broken in three pieces, in the midst of waves furiously
lashed by the whale's bounds.
The unfortunate sailors, although grievously wounded, would have had,
perhaps, the strength to keep up still, either by swimming or by
hanging on to some of the floating wreck. That is what Captain Hull
did, for he was seen for a moment hoisting the boatswain on a wreck.
But the jubarte, in the last degree of fury, turned round, sprang up,
perhaps in the last pangs of a terrible agony, and with her tail she
beat the troubled waters frightfully, where the unfortunate sailors
were still swimming.
For some minutes one saw nothing but a liquid water-spout scattering
itself in sheafs on all sides.
A quarter of an hour after, when Dick Sand, who, followed by the
blacks, had rushed into the boat, had reached the scene of the
catastrophe, every living creature had disappeared. There was nothing
left but some pieces of the whale-boat on the surface of the waters,
red with blood.
* * * * *
The first impression felt by the passengers of the "Pilgrim" in
presence of this terrible catastrophe was a combination of pity and
horror. They only thought of this frightful death of Captain Hull and
the five sailors. This fearful scene had just taken place almost under
their eyes, while they could do nothing to save the poor men. They had
not even been able to arrive in time to pick up the whale-boat's crew,
their unfortunate companions, wounded, but still living, and to oppose
the "Pilgrim's" hull to the jubarte's formidable blows. Captain Hull
and his men had forever disappeared.
When the schooner arrived at the fatal place, Mrs. Weldon fell on her
knees, her hands raised toward Heaven.
"Let us pray!" said the pious woman.
She was joined by her little Jack, who threw himself on his knees,
weeping, near his mother. The poor child understood it all. Dick Sand,
Nan, Tom, and the other blacks remained standing, their heads bowed.
All repeated the prayer that Mrs. Weldon addressed to God, recommending
to His infinite goodness those who had just appeared before Him.
Then Mrs. Weldon, turning to her companions, "And now, my friends,"
said she, "let us ask Heaven for strength and courage for ourselves."
Yes! They could not too earnestly implore the aid of Him who can do all
things, for their situation was one of the gravest!
This ship which carried them had no longer a captain to command her, no
longer a crew to work her. She was in the middle of that immense
Pacific Ocean, hundreds of miles from any land, at the mercy of the
winds and waves.
What fatality then had brought that whale in the "Pilgrim's" course?
What still greater fatality had urged the unfortunate Captain Hull,
generally so wise, to risk everything in order to complete his cargo?
And what a catastrophe to count among the rarest of the annals of
whale-fishing was this one, which did not allow of the saving of one of
the whale-boat's sailors!
Yes, it was a terrible fatality! In fact, there was no longer a seaman
on board the "Pilgrim." Yes, one--Dick Sand--and he was only a
beginner, a young man of fifteen. Captain, boatswain, sailors, it may
be said that the whole crew was now concentrated in him.
On board there was one lady passenger, a mother and her son, whose
presence would render the situation much more difficult. Then there
were also some blacks, honest men, courageous and zealous without a
doubt, ready to obey whoever should undertake to command them, but
ignorant of the simplest notions of the sailor's craft.
Dick Sand stood motionless, his arms crossed, looking at the place
where Captain Hull had just been swallowed up--Captain Hull, his
protector, for whom he felt a filial affection. Then his eyes searched
the horizon, seeking to discover some ship, from which he would demand
aid and assistance, to which he might be able at least to confide Mrs.
Weldon. He would not abandon the "Pilgrim," no, indeed, without having
tried his best to bring her into port. But Mrs. Weldon and her little
boy would be in safety. He would have had nothing more to fear for
those two beings, to whom he was devoted body and soul.
The ocean was deserted. Since the disappearance of the jubarte, not a
speck came to alter the surface. All was sky and water around the
"Pilgrim." The young novice knew only too well that he was beyond the
routes followed by the ships of commerce, and that the other whalers
were cruising still farther away at the fishing-grounds.
However, the question was, to look the situation in the face, to see
things as they were. That is what Dick Sand did, asking God, from the
depths of his heart, for aid and succor. What resolution was he going
At that moment Negoro appeared on the deck, which he had left after the
catastrophe. What had been felt in the presence of this irreparable
misfortune by a being so enigmatical, no one could tell. He had
contemplated the disaster without making a gesture, without departing
from his speechlessness. His eye had evidently seized all the details
of it. But if at such a moment one could think of observing him, he
would be astonished at least, because not a muscle of his impassible
face had moved. At any rate, and as if he had not heard it, he had not
responded to the pious appeal of Mrs. Weldon, praying for the engulfed
crew. Negoro walked aft, there even where Dick Sand was standing
motionless. He stopped three steps from the novice.
"You wish to speak to me?" asked Dick Sand.
"I wish to speak to Captain Hull," replied Negoro, coolly, "or, in his
absence, to boatswain Howik."
"You know well that both have perished!" cried the novice.
"Then who commands on board now?" asked Negoro, very insolently.
"I," replied Dick Sand, without hesitation.
"You!" said Negoro, shrugging his shoulders. "A captain of fifteen
"A captain of fifteen years!" replied the novice, advancing toward the
The latter drew back.
"Do not forget it," then said Mrs. Weldon. "There is but one captain
here--Captain Sand, and it is well for all to remember that he will
know how to make himself obeyed."
Negoro bowed, murmuring in an ironical tone a few words that they could
not understand, and he returned to his post.
We see, Dick's resolution was taken.
Meanwhile the schooner, under the action of the breeze, which commenced
to freshen, had already passed beyond the vast shoal of crustaceans.
Dick Sand examined the condition of the sails; then his eyes were cast
on the deck. He had then this sentiment, that, if a frightful
responsibility fell upon him in the future, it was for him to have the
strength to accept it. He dared to look at the survivors of the
"Pilgrim," whose eyes were now fixed on him. And, reading in their
faces that he could count on them, he said to them in two words, that
they could in their turn count on him.
Dick Sand had, in all sincerity, examined his conscience.
If he was capable of taking in or setting the sails of the schooner,
according to circumstances, by employing the arms of Tom and his
companions, he evidently did not yet possess all the knowledge
necessary to determine his position by calculation.
In four or five years more, Dick Sand would know thoroughly that
beautiful and difficult sailor's craft. He would know how to use the
sextant--that instrument which Captain Hull's hand had held every day,
and which gave him the height of the stars. He would read on the
chronometer the hour of the meridian of Greenwich, and from it would be
able to deduce the longitude by the hour angle. The sun would be made
his counselor each day. The moon--the planets would say to him, "There,
on that point of the ocean, is thy ship!" That firmament, on which the
stars move like the hands of a perfect clock, which nothing shakes nor
can derange, and whose accuracy is absolute--that firmament would tell
him the hours and the distances. By astronomical observations he would
know, as his captain had known every day, nearly to a mile, the place
occupied by the "Pilgrim," and the course followed as well as the
course to follow.
And now, by reckoning, that is by the progress measured on the log,
pointed out by the compass, and corrected by the drift, he must alone
ask his way.
However, he did not falter.
Mrs. Weldon understood all that was passing in the young novice's
"Thank you, Dick," she said to him, in a voice which did not tremble.
"Captain Hull is no more. All his crew have perished with him. The fate
of the ship is in your hands! Dick, you will save the ship and those on
"Yes, Mrs. Weldon," replied Dick Sand, "yes! I shall attempt it, with
the aid of God!"
"Tom and his companions are honest men on whom you can depend entirely."
"I know it, and I shall make sailors of them, and we shall work
together. With fine weather that will be easy. With bad weather--well,
with bad weather, we shall strive, and we shall save you yet, Mrs.
Weldon--you and your little Jack, both! Yes, I feel that I shall do it."
And he repeated:
"With the aid of God!"
"Now, Dick, can you tell where the 'Pilgrim' is?" asked Mrs. Weldon.
"Easily," replied the novice. "I have only to consult the chart on
board, on which her position was marked yesterday by Captain Hull."
"And will you be able to put the ship in the right direction?"
"Yes, I shall be able to put her prow to the east, nearly at the point
of the American coast that we must reach."
"But, Dick," returned Mrs. Weldon, "you well understand, do you not,
that this catastrophe may, and indeed must, modify our first projects?
It is no longer a question of taking the 'Pilgrim' to Valparaiso. The
nearest port of the American coast is now her port of destination."
"Certainly, Mrs. Weldon," replied the novice. "So fear nothing! We
cannot fail to reach that American coast which stretches so far to the
"Where is it situated?" asked Mrs. Weldon.
"There, in that direction," replied Dick Sand, pointing to the east,
which he knew by means of the compass.
"Well, Dick, we may reach Valparaiso, or any other part of the coast.
What matter? What we want is to land."
"And we shall do it, Mrs. Weldon, and I shall land you on a good
place," replied the young man, in a firm voice. "Besides, in standing
in for the land, I do not renounce the hope of encountering some of
those vessels which do the coasting trade on that shore. Ah! Mrs.
Weldon, the wind begins to blow steadily from the northwest! God grant
that it may keep on; we shall make progress, and good progress. We
shall drive in the offing with all our sails set, from the brigantine
to the flying-jib!"
Dick Sand had spoken with the confidence of the seaman, who feels that
he stands on a good ship, a ship of whose every movement he is master.
He was going to take the helm and call his companions to set the sails
properly, when Mrs. Weldon reminded him that he ought first to know the
It was, indeed, the first thing to do. Dick Sand went into the
captain's cabin for the chart on which the position of the day before
was indicated. He could then show Mrs. Weldon that the schooner was in
latitude 43 deg. 35', and in longitude 164 deg. 13', for, in the last
twenty-four hours, she had not, so to say, made any progress.
Mrs. Weldon leaned over this chart. She looked at the brown color which
represented the land on the right of the ocean. It was the coast of
South America, an immense barrier thrown between the Pacific and the
Atlantic from Cape Horn to the shores of Columbia. To consider it in
that way, that chart, which, was then spread out under her eyes, on
which was drawn a whole ocean, gave the impression that it would be
easy to restore the "Pilgrim's" passengers to their country. It is an
illusion which is invariably produced on one who is not familiar with
the scale on which marine charts are drawn. And, in fact, it seemed to
Mrs. Weldon that the land ought to be in sight, as it was on that piece
And, meanwhile, on that white page, the "Pilgrim" drawn on an exact
scale, would be smaller than the most microscopic of infusoria! That
mathematical point, without appreciable dimensions, would appear lost,
as it was in reality in the immensity of the Pacific!
Dick Sand himself had not experienced the same impression as Mrs.
Weldon. He knew how far off the land was, and that many hundreds of
miles would not suffice to measure the distance from it. But he had
taken his part; he had become a man under the responsibility which had
fallen upon him.
The moment to act had come. He must profit by this northwest breeze
which was blowing up. Contrary winds had given place to favorable
winds, and some clouds scattered in the zenith under the cirrous form,
indicated that they would blow steadily for at least a certain time.
Dick called Tom and his companions.
"My friends," he said to them, "our ship has no longer any crew but
you. I cannot work without your aid. You are not sailors, but you have
good arms. Place them, then, at the 'Pilgrim's' service and we can
steer her. Every one's salvation depends on the good work of every one
"Mr. Dick," replied Tom, "my companions and I, we are your sailors. Our
good will shall not be wanting. All that men can do, commanded by you,
we shall do it."
"Well spoken, old Tom," said Mrs. Weldon.
"Yes, well spoken," continued Dick Sand; "but we must be prudent, and I
shall not carry too much canvas, so as not to run any risk.
Circumstances require a little less speed, but more security. I will
show you, my friends, what each will have to do in the work. As to me,
I shall remain at the helm, as long as fatigue does not oblige me to
leave it. From time to time a few hours' sleep will be sufficient to
restore me. But, during those few hours, it will be very necessary for
one of you to take my place. Tom, I shall show you how we steer by
means of the mariner's compass. It is not difficult, and, with a little
attention, you will soon learn to keep the ship's head in the right
"Whenever you like, Mr. Dick," replied the old black.
"Well," replied the novice, "stay near me at the helm till the end of
the day, and if fatigue overcomes me, you will then be able to replace
me for a few hours."
"And I," said little Jack, "will I not be able to help my friend, Dick,
"Yes, dear child," replied Mrs. Weldon, clasping Jack in her arms, "you
shall learn to steer, and I am sure that while you are at the helm we
shall have good winds."
"Very sure--very sure. Mother, I promise it to you," replied the little
boy, clapping his hands.
"Yes," said the young novice, smiling, "good cabin-boys know how to
maintain good winds. That is well known by old sailors." Then,
addressing Tom, and the other blacks: "My friends," he said to them,
"we are going to put the 'Pilgrim' under full sail. You will only have
to do what I shall tell you."
"At your orders," replied Tom, "at your orders, Captain Sand."
* * * * *
THE FOUR DAYS WHICH FOLLOW.
Dick Sand was then captain of the "Pilgrim," and, without losing an
instant, he took the necessary measures for putting the ship under full
It was well understood that the passengers could have only one
hope--that of reaching some part of the American coast, if not
Valparaiso. What Dick Sand counted on doing was to ascertain the
direction and speed of the "Pilgrim," so as to get an average. For
that, it was sufficient to make each day on the chart the way made, as
it has been said, by the log and the compass. There was then on board
one of those "patent logs," with an index and helix, which give the
speed very exactly for a fixed time. This useful instrument, very
easily handled, could render the most useful services, and the blacks
were perfectly adapted to work it.
A single cause of error would interfere--the currents. To combat it,
reckoning would be insufficient; astronomical observations alone would
enable one to render an exact calculation from it. Now, those
observations the young novice was still unable to make.
For an instant Dick Sand had thought of bringing the "Pilgrim" back to
New Zealand. The passage would be shorter, and he would certainly have
done it if the wind, which, till then, had been contrary, had not
become favorable. Better worth while then to steer for America.
In fact, the wind had changed almost to the contrary direction, and now
it blew from the northwest with a tendency to freshen. It was then
necessary to profit by it and make all the headway possible.
So Dick Sand prepared to put the "Pilgrim" under full sail.
In a schooner brig-rigged, the foremast carries four square sails; the
foresail, on the lower mast; above, the top-sail, on the topmast;
then, on the top-gallant mast, a top-sail and a royal.
The mainmast, on the contrary, has fewer sails. It only carries a
brigantine below, and a fore-staffsail above. Between these two masts,
on the stays which support them at the prow, a triple row of triangular
sails may be set.
Finally, at the prow, on the bowsprit, and its extreme end, were hauled
the three jibs.
The jibs, the brigantine, the fore-staff, and the stay-sails are easily
managed. They can be hoisted from the deck without the necessity of
climbing the masts, because they are not fastened on the yards by means
of rope-bands, which must be previously loosened.
On the contrary, the working of the foremast sails demands much greater
proficiency in seamanship. In fact, when it is necessary to set them,
the sailors must climb by the rigging--it may be in the foretop, it
may be on the spars of the top-gallant mast, it may be to the top of
the said mast--and that, as well in letting them fly as in drawing them
in to diminish their surface in reefing them. Thence the necessity of
running out on foot-ropes--movable ropes stretched below the yards--of
working with one hand while holding on by the other--perilous work for
any one who is not used to it. The oscillation from the rolling and
pitching of the ship, very much increased by the length of the lever,
the flapping of the sails under a stiff breeze, have often sent a man
overboard. It was then a truly dangerous operation for Tom and his
Very fortunately, the wind was moderate. The sea had not yet had time
to become rough. The rolling and pitching kept within bounds.
When Dick Sand, at Captain Hull's signal, had steered toward the scene
of the catastrophe, the "Pilgrim" only carried her jibs, her
brigantine, her foresail, and her top-sail. To get the ship under way
as quickly as possible, the novice had only to make use of, that is, to
counter-brace, the foresail. The blacks had easily helped him in that
The question now was to get under full sail, and, to complete the
sails, to hoist the top-sails, the royal, the fore-staff, and the
"My friends," said the novice to the five blacks, "do as I tell you,
and all will go right."
Dick Sand was standing at the wheel of the helm.
"Go!" cried he. "Tom, let go that rope quickly!"
"Let go?" said Tom, who did not understand that expression.
"Yes, loosen it! Now you, Bat--the same thing! Good! Heave--haul taut.
Let us see, pull it in!"
"Like that?" said Bat.
"Yes, like that. Very good. Come, Hercules--strong. A good pull there!"
To say "strong" to Hercules was, perhaps, imprudent. The giant of
course gave a pull that brought down the rope.
"Oh! not so strong, my honest fellow!" cried Dick Sand, smiling. "You
are going to bring down the masts!"
"I have hardly pulled," replied Hercules.
"Well, only make believe! You will see that that will be enough! Well,
slacken--cast off! Make fast--Make fast--like that! Good! All together!
Heave--pull on the braces."
And the whole breadth of the foremast, whose larboard braces had been
loosened, turned slowly. The wind then swelling the sails imparted a
certain speed to the ship.
Dick Sand then had the jib sheet-ropes loosened. Then he called the
"Behold what is done, my friends, and well done. Now let us attend to
the mainmast. But break nothing, Hercules."
"I shall try," replied the colossus, without being willing to promise
This second operation was quite easy. The main-boom sheet-rope having
been let go gently, the brigantine took the wind more regularly, and
added its powerful action to that of the forward sails.
The fore-staff was then set above the brigantine, and, as it is simply
brailed up, there was nothing to do but bear on the rope, to haul
aboard, then to secure it. But Hercules pulled so hard, along with his
friend Acteon, without counting little Jack, who had joined them, that
the rope broke off.
All three fell backwards--happily, without hurting themselves. Jack was
"That's nothing! that's nothing!" cried the novice. "Fasten the two
ends together for this time and hoist softly!"
That was done under Dick Sand's eyes, while he had not yet left the
helm. The "Pilgrim" was already sailing rapidly, headed to the east,
and there was nothing more to be done but keep it in that direction.
Nothing easier, because the wind was favorable, and lurches were not to
"Good, my friends!" said the novice. "You will be good sailors before
the end of the voyage!"
"We shall do our best, Captain Sand," replied Tom.
Mrs. Weldon also complimented those honest men.
Little Jack himself received his share of praise, for he had worked
"Indeed, I believe, Mr. Jack," said Hercules, smiling, "that it was you
who broke the rope. What a good little fist you have. Without you we
should have done nothing right."
And little Jack, very proud of himself, shook his friend Hercules' hand
The setting of the "Pilgrim's" sails was not yet complete. She still
lacked those top-sails whose action is not to be despised under this
full-sail movement. Top-sail, royal, stay-sails, would add sensibly to
the schooner's speed, and Dick Sand resolved to set them.
This operation would be more difficult than the others, not for the
stay-sails, which could be hoisted, hauled aboard and fastened from
below, but for the cross-jacks of the foremast. It was necessary to
climb to the spars to let them out, and Dick Sand, not wishing to
expose any one of his improvised crew, undertook to do it himself.
He then called Tom and put him at the wheel, showing him how he should
keep the ship. Then Hercules, Bat, Acteon and Austin being placed, some
at the royal halyards, others at those of the top-sails, he proceeded
up the mast. To climb the rattlings of the fore-shrouds, then the
rattlings of the topmast-shrouds, to gain the spars, that was only play
for the young novice. In a minute he was on the foot-rope of the
top-sail yard, and he let go the rope-bands which kept the sail bound.
Then he stood on the spars again and climbed on the royal yard, where
he let out the sail rapidly.
Dick Sand had finished his task, and seizing one of the starboard
backstays, he slid to the deck.
There, under his directions, the two sails were vigorously hauled and
fastened, then the two yards hoisted to the block. The stay-sails being
set next between the mainmast and the foremast, the work was finished.
Hercules had broken nothing this time.
The "Pilgrim" then carried all the sails that composed her rigging.
Doubtless Dick Sand could still add the foremast studding-sails to
larboard, but it was difficult work under the present circumstances,
and should it be necessary to take them in, in case of a squall, it
could not be done fast enough. So the novice stopped there.
Tom was relieved from his post at the wheel, which Dick Sand took
charge of again.
The breeze freshened. The "Pilgrim," making a slight turn to starboard,
glided rapidly over the surface of the sea, leaving behind her a very
flat track, which bore witness to the purity of her water-line.
"We are well under way, Mrs. Weldon," then said Dick Sand, "and, now,
may God preserve this favorable wind!"
Mrs. Weldon pressed the young man's hand. Then, fatigued with all the
emotions of that last hour, she sought her cabin, and fell into a sort
of painful drowsiness, which was not sleep.
The new crew remained on the schooner's deck, watching on the
forecastle, and ready to obey Dick Sand's orders--that is to say, to
change the set of the sails according to the variations of the wind;
but so long as the breeze kept both that force and that direction,
there would be positively nothing to do.
During all this time what had become of Cousin Benedict?
Cousin Benedict was occupied in studying with a magnifying glass an
articulate which he had at last found on board--a simple orthopter,
whose head disappeared under the prothorax; an insect with flat
elytrums, with round abdomen, with rather long wings, which belonged to
the family of the roaches, and to the species of American cockroaches.
It was exactly while ferreting in Negoro's kitchen, that he had made
that precious discovery, and at the moment when the cook was going to
crush the said insect pitilessly. Thence anger, which, indeed, Negoro
took no notice of.
But this Cousin Benedict, did he know what change had taken place on
board since the moment when Captain Hull and his companions had
commenced that fatal whale-fishing? Yes, certainly. He was even on the
deck when the "Pilgrim" arrived in sight of the remains of the
whale-boat. The schooner's crew had then perished before his eyes.
To pretend that this catastrophe had not affected him, would be to
accuse his heart. That pity for others that all people feel, he had
certainly experienced it. He was equally moved by his cousin's
situation. He had come to press Mrs. Weldon's hand, as if to say to
her: "Do not be afraid. I am here. I am left to you."
Then Cousin Benedict had turned toward his cabin, doubtless so as to
reflect on the consequences of this disastrous event, and on the
energetic measures that he must take. But on his way he had met the
cockroach in question, and his desire was--held, however, against
certain entomologists--to prove the cockroaches of the phoraspe
species, remarkable for their colors, have very different habits from
cockroaches properly so called; he had given himself up to the study,
forgetting both that there had been a Captain Hull in command of the
"Pilgrim," and that that unfortunate had just perished with his crew.
The cockroach absorbed him entirely. He did not admire it less, and he
made as much time over it as if that horrible insect had been a golden
The life on board had then returned to its usual course, though every
one would remain for a long time yet under the effects of such a keen
and unforeseen catastrophe.
During this day Dick Sand was everywhere, so that everything should be
in its place, and that he could be prepared for the smallest
contingency. The blacks obeyed him with zeal. The most perfect order
reigned on board the "Pilgrim." It might then be hoped that all would
On his side, Negoro made no other attempt to resist Dick Sand's
authority. He appeared to have tacitly recognized him. Occupied as
usual in his narrow kitchen, he was not seen more than before. Besides,
at the least infraction--at the first symptom of insubordination, Dick
Sand was determined to send him to the hold for the rest of the
passage. At a sign from him, Hercules would take the head cook by the
skin of the neck; that would not have taken long. In that case, Nan,
who knew how to cook, would replace the cook in his functions. Negoro
then could say to himself that he was indispensable, and, as he was
closely watched, he seemed unwilling to give any cause of complaint.
The wind, though growing stronger till evening, did not necessitate any
change in the "Pilgrim's" sails. Her solid masting, her iron rigging,
which was in good condition, would enable her to bear in this condition
even a stronger breeze.
During the night it is often the custom to lessen the sails, and
particularly to take in the high sails, fore-staff, top-sail, royal,
etc. That is prudent, in case some squall of wind should come up
suddenly. But Dick Sand believed he could dispense with this
precaution. The state of the atmosphere indicated nothing of the kind,
and besides, the young novice determined to pass the first night on the
deck, intending to have an eye to everything. Then the progress was
more rapid, and he longed to be in less desolate parts.
It has been said that the log and the compass were the only instruments
which Dick Sand could use, so as to estimate approximately the way made
by the "Pilgrim."
During this day the novice threw the log every half-hour, and he noted
the indications furnished by the instrument.
As to the instrument which bears the name of compass, there were two on
board. One was placed in the binnacle, under the eyes of the man at the
helm. Its dial, lighted by day by the diurnal light, by night by two
side-lamps, indicated at every moment which way the ship headed--that
is, the direction she followed. The other compass was an inverted one,
fixed to the bars of the cabin which Captain Hull formerly occupied. By
that means, without leaving his chamber, he could always know if the
route given was exactly followed, if the man at the helm, from
ignorance or negligence, allowed the ship to make too great lurches.
Besides, there is no ship employed in long voyages which does not
possess at least two compasses, as she has two chronometers. It is
necessary to compare these instruments with each other, and,
consequently, control their indications.
The "Pilgrim" was then sufficiently provided for in that respect, and
Dick Sand charged his men to take the greatest care of the two
compasses, which were so necessary to him.
Now, unfortunately, during the night of the 12th to the 13th of
February, while the novice was on watch, and holding the wheel of the
helm, a sad accident took place. The inverted compass, which was
fastened by a copper ferule to the woodwork of the cabin, broke off and
fell on the floor. It was not seen till the next day.
How had the ferule come to break. It was inexplicable enough. It was
possible, however, that it was oxydized, and that the pitching and
rolling had broken it from the woodwork. Now, indeed, the sea had been
rougher during the night. However it was, the compass was broken in
such a manner that it could not be repaired.
Dick Sand was much thwarted. Henceforth he was reduced to trust solely
to the compass in the binnacle. Very evidently no one was responsible
for the breaking of the second compass, but it might have sad
consequences. The novice then took every precaution to keep the other
compass beyond the reach of every accident.
Till then, with that exception, all went well on board the "Pilgrim."
Mrs. Weldon, seeing Dick Sand's calmness, had regained confidence. It
was not that she had ever yielded to despair. Above all, she counted on
the goodness of God. Also, as a sincere and pious Catholic, she
comforted herself by prayer.
Dick Sand had arranged so as to remain at the helm during the night. He
slept five or six hours in the day, and that seemed enough for him, as
he did not feel too much fatigued. During this time Tom or his son Bat
took his place at the wheel of the helm, and, thanks to his counsels,
they were gradually becoming passable steersmen.
Often Mrs. Weldon and the novice talked to each other. Dick Sand
willingly took advice from this intelligent and courageous woman. Each
day he showed her on the ship's chart the course run, which he took by
reckoning, taking into account only the direction and the speed of the
ship. "See, Mrs. Weldon," he often repeated to her, "with these winds
blowing, we cannot fail to reach the coast of South America. I should
not like to affirm it, but I verily believe that when our vessel shall
arrive in sight of land, it will not be far from Valparaiso."
Mrs. Weldon could not doubt the direction of the vessel was right,
favored above all by those winds from the northwest. But how far the
"Pilgrim" still seemed to be from the American coast! How many dangers
between her and the firm land, only counting those which might come
from a change in the state of the sea and the sky!
Jack, indifferent like children of his age, had returned to his usual
games, running on the deck, amusing himself with Dingo. He found, of
course, that his friend Dick was less with him than formerly; but his
mother had made him understand that they must leave the young novice
entirely to his occupations. Little Jack had given up to these reasons,
and no longer disturbed "Captain Sand."
So passed life on board. The blacks did their work intelligently, and
each day became more skilful in the sailor's craft. Tom was naturally
the boatswain, and it was he, indeed, whom his companions would have
chosen for that office. He commanded the watch while the novice rested,
and he had with him his son Bat and Austin. Acteon and Hercules formed
the other watch, under Dick Sand's direction. By this means, while one
steered, the others watched at the prow.
Even though these parts were deserted, and no collision was really to
be feared, the novice exacted a rigorous watch during the night. He
never sailed without having his lights in position--a green light on
the starboard, a red light on the larboard--and in that he acted wisely.
All the time, during those nights which Dick Sand passed entirely at
the helm, he occasionally felt an irresistible heaviness over him. His
hand then steered by pure instinct. It was the effect of a fatigue of
which he did not wish to take account.
Now, it happened that during the night of the 13th to the 14th of
February, that Dick Sand was very tired, and was obliged to take a few
hours' rest. He was replaced at the helm by old Tom.
The sky was covered with thick clouds, which had gathered with the
evening, under the influence of the cold air. It was then very dark,
and it was impossible to distinguish the high sails lost in the
darkness. Hercules and Acteon were on watch on the forecastle.
Aft, the light from the binnacle only gave a faint gleam, which the
metallic apparatus of the wheel reflected softly. The ship's lanterns
throwing their lights laterally, left the deck of the vessel in
Toward three o'clock in the morning, a kind of hypnotic phenomenon took
place, of which old Tom was not even conscious. His eves, which were
fixed too long on a luminous point of the binnacle, suddenly lost the
power of vision, and he fell into a true anaesthetic sleep.
Not only was he incapable of seeing, but if one had touched or pinched
him hard he would probably have felt nothing.
So he did not see a shadow which glided over the deck.
It was Negoro.
Arrived aft, the head cook placed under the binnacle a pretty heavy
object which he held in hand.
Then, after observing for an instant the luminous index of the compass,
he retired without having been seen.
If, the next day, Dick Sand had perceived that object placed by Negoro
under the binnacle, he might have hastened to take it away.
In fact, it was a piece of iron, whose influence had just altered the
indications of the compass. The magnetic needle had been deviated, and
instead of marking the magnetic north, which differs a little from the
north of the world, it marked the northeast. It was then, a deviation
of four points; in other words, of half a right angle.
Tom soon recovered from his drowsiness. His eyes were fixed on the
compass. He believed, he had reason to believe, that the "Pilgrim" was
not in the right direction. He then moved the helm so as to head the
ship to the east--at least, he thought so.
But, with the deviation of the needle, which he could not suspect, that
point, changed by four points, was the southeast.
And thus, while under the action of a favorable wind, the "Pilgrim" was
supposed to follow the direction wished for, she sailed with an error
of forty-five degrees in her route!
During the week which followed that event, from the 14th of February to
the 21st, no incident took place on board. The wind from the northwest
freshened gradually, and the "Pilgrim" sailed rapidly, making on an
average one hundred and sixty miles in twenty-four hours. It was nearly
all that could be asked of a vessel of that size.
Dick Sand thought the schooner must be approaching those parts more
frequented by the merchant vessels which seek to pass from one
hemisphere to the other. The novice was always hoping to encounter one
of those ships, and he clearly intended either to transfer his
passengers, or to borrow some additional sailors, and perhaps an
officer. But, though he watched vigilantly, no ship could be signaled,
and the sea was always deserted.
Dick Sand continued to be somewhat astonished at that. He had crossed
this part of the Pacific several times during his three fishing voyages
to the Southern Seas. Now, in the latitude and longitude where his
reckoning put him, it was seldom that some English or American ship did
not appear, ascending from Cape Horn toward the equator, or coming
toward the extreme point of South America.
But what Dick Sand was ignorant of, what he could not even discover,
was that the "Pilgrim" was already in higher latitude--that is to say,
more to the south than he supposed. That was so for two reasons:
The first was, that the currents of these parts, whose swiftness the
novice could only imperfectly estimate, had contributed--while he could
not possibly keep account of them--to throw the ship out of her route.
The second was, that the compass, made inaccurate by Negoro's guilty
hand, henceforth only gave incorrect bearings--bearings that, since the
loss of the second compass, Dick Sand could not control. So that,
believing, and having reason to believe, that he was sailing eastward,
in reality, he was sailing southeast. The compass, it was always before
his eyes. The log, it was thrown regularly. His two instruments
permitted him, in a certain measure, to direct the "Pilgrim," and to
estimate the number of miles sailed. But, then, was that sufficient?
However, the novice always did his best to reassure Mrs. Weldon, whom
the incidents of this voyage must at times render anxious.
"We shall arrive, we shall arrive!" he repeated. "We shall reach the
American coast, here or there; it matters little, on the whole, but we
cannot fail to land there!"
"I do not doubt it, Dick."
"Of course, Mrs. Weldon, I should be more at ease if you were not on
board--if we had only ourselves to answer for; but----"
"But if I were not on board," replied Mrs. Weldon; "if Cousin Benedict,
Jack, Nan and I, had not taken passage on the 'Pilgrim,' and if, on the
other hand, Tom and his companions had not been picked up at sea, Dick,
there would be only two men here, you and Negoro! What would have
become of you, alone with that wicked man, in whom you cannot have
confidence? Yes, my child, what would have become of you?"
"I should have begun," replied Dick Sand, resolutely, "by putting
Negoro where he could not injure me."
"And you would have worked alone?"
"Yes--alone--with the aid of God!"
The firmness of these words was well calculated to encourage Mrs.
Weldon. But, nevertheless, while thinking of her little Jack, she often
felt uneasy. If the woman would not show what she experienced as a
mother, she did not always succeed in preventing some secret anguish
for him to rend her heart.
Meanwhile, if the young novice was not sufficiently advanced in his
hydrographic studies to make his point, he possessed a true sailor's
scent, when the question was "to tell the weather." The appearance of
the sky, for one thing; on the other hand, the indications of the
barometer, enabled him to be on his guard. Captain Hull, a good
meteorologist, had taught him to consult this instrument, whose
prognostications are remarkably sure.
Here is, in a few words, what the notices relative to the observation
of the barometer contain:
1. When, after a rather long continuance of fine weather, the barometer
begins to fall in a sudden and continuous manner, rain will certainly
fall; but, if the fine weather has had a long duration, the mercury may
fall two or three days in the tube of the barometer before any change
in the state of the atmosphere may be perceived. Then, the longer the
time between the falling of the mercury and the arrival of the rain,
the longer will be the duration of rainy weather.
2. If, on the contrary, during a rainy period which has already had a
long duration, the barometer commences to rise slowly and regularly,
very certainly fine weather will come, and it will last much longer if
a long interval elapses between its arrival and the rising of the
3. In the two cases given, if the change of weather follows immediately
the movement of the barometrical column, that change will last only a
very short time.
4. If the barometer rises with slowness and in a continuous manner for
two or three days, or even more, it announces fine weather, even when
the rain will not cease during those three days, and _vice versa;_ but
if the barometer rises two days or more during the rain, then, the fine
weather having come, if it commences to fall again, the fine weather
will last a very short time, and _vice versa_.
5. In the spring and in the autumn, a sudden fall of the barometer
presages wind. In the summer, if the weather is very warm, it announces
a storm. In winter, after a frost of some duration, a rapid falling of
the barometrical column announces a change of wind, accompanied by a
thaw and rain; but a rising which happens during a frost which has
already lasted a certain time, prognosticates snow.
6. Rapid oscillations of the barometer should never be interpreted as
presaging dry or rainy weather of any duration. Those indications are
given exclusively by the rising or the falling which takes place in a
slow and continuous manner.
7. Toward the end of autumn, if after prolonged rainy and windy
weather, the barometer begins to rise, that rising announces the
passage of the wind to the north and the approach of the frost.
Such are the general consequences to draw from the indications of this
Dick Sand knew all that perfectly well, as he had ascertained for
himself in different circumstances of his sailor's life, which made him
very skilful in putting himself on his guard against all contingencies.
Now, just toward the 20th of February, the oscillations of the
barometrical column began to preoccupy the young novice, who noted them
several times a day with much care. In fact, the barometer began to
fall in a slow and continuous manner, which presages rain; but, this
rain being delayed, Dick Sand concluded from that, that the bad weather
would last. That is what must happen.
But the rain was the wind, and in fact, at that date, the breeze
freshened so much that the air was displaced with a velocity of sixty
feet a second, say thirty-one miles an hour.
Dick Sand was obliged to take some precautions so as not to risk the
"Pilgrim's" masting and sails.
Already he had the royal, the fore-staff, and the flying-jib taken in,
and he resolved to do the same with the top-sail, then take in two
reefs in the top-sail.
This last operation must present certain difficulties with a crew of
little experience. Hesitation would not do, however, and no one
hesitated. Dick Sand, accompanied by Bat and Austin, climbed into the
rigging of the foremast, and succeeded, not without trouble, in taking
in the top-sail. In less threatening weather he would have left the two
yards on the mast, but, foreseeing that he would probably be obliged to
level that mast, and perhaps even to lay it down upon the deck, he
unrigged the two yards and sent them to the deck. In fact, it is
understood that when the wind becomes too strong, not only must the
sails be diminished, but also the masting. That is a great relief to
the ship, which, carrying less weight above, is no longer so much
strained with the rolling and pitching.
This first work accomplished--and it took two hours--Dick Sand and his
companions were busy reducing the surface of the top-sail, by taking in
two reefs. The "Pilgrim" did not carry, like the majority of modern
ships, a double top-sail, which facilitates the operation. It was
necessary, then, to work as formerly--that is to say, to run out on the
foot-ropes, pull toward you a sail beaten by the wind, and lash it
firmly with its reef-lines. It was difficult, long, perilous; but,
finally, the diminished top-sail gave less surface to the wind, and the
schooner was much relieved.
Dick Sand came down again with Bat and Austin. The "Pilgrim" was then
in the sailing condition demanded by that state of the atmosphere which
has been qualified as "very stiff."
During the three days which followed, 20th, 21st and 22d of February,
the force and direction of the wind were not perceptibly changed. All
the time the mercury continued to fall in the barometrical tube, and,
on this last day, the novice noted that it kept continually below
twenty-eight and seven-tenths inches.
Besides, there was no appearance that the barometer would rise for some
time. The aspect of the sky was bad, and extremely windy. Besides,
thick fogs covered it constantly. Their stratum was even so deep that
the sun was no longer seen, and it would have been difficult to
indicate precisely the place of his setting and rising.
Dick Sand began to be anxious. He no longer left the deck; he hardly
slept. However, his moral energy enabled him to drive back his fears to
the bottom of his heart.
The next day, February 22d, the breeze appeared to decrease a little in
the morning, but Dick Sand did not trust in it. He was right, for in
the afternoon the wind freshened again, and the sea became rougher.
Toward four o'clock, Negoro, who was rarely seen, left his post and
came up on the forecastle. Dingo, doubtless, was sleeping in some
corner, for it did not bark as usual.
Negoro, always silent, remained for half an hour observing the horizon.
Long surges succeeded each other without, as yet, being dashed