Part 4 out of 10
in a quarter of an hour, rolling her yardarms nearly to the water.
Captain Truck said little to his passengers concerning this adventure; but
when he had lighted a cigar, and was discussing the matter with his
chief-mate, he told the latter there was "just one minute when he would
not have given a ship's biscuit for both vessels, nor much more for their
cargoes. A man must have a small regard for human souls, when he puts
them, and their bodies too, in so much jeopardy for a little tobacco."
Throughout the day it blew furiously, for the ship was running into the
gale, a phenomenon that we shall explain, as most of our readers may not
comprehend it. All gates of wind commence to leeward; or, in other words,
the wind is first felt at some particular point, and later, as we recede
from that point, proceeding in the direction from which the wind blows.
It is always severest near the point where it commences, appearing to
diminish in violence as it recedes. This, therefore, is an additional
motive for mariners to lie-to, instead of scudding, since the latter not
only carries them far from their true coarse, but it carries them also
nearer to the scene of the greatest fury of the elements.
Good boatswain, have care.
At sunset, the speck presented by the reefed top-sail of the corvette had
sunk beneath the horizon, in the southern board, and that ship was seen no
longer. Several islands had been passed, looking tranquil and smiling amid
the fury of the tempest; but it was impossible to haul up for any one
among them. The most that could be done was to keep the ship dead before
it, to prevent her broaching-to, and to have a care that she kept clear of
those rocks and of that bottom, for which Nanny Sidley had so much pined.
Familiarity with the scene began to lessen the apprehensions of the
passengers, and as scudding is an easy process for those who are liable to
sea-sickness, ere another night shut in, the principal concern was
connected with the course the ship was compelled to steer. The wind had so
far hauled to the westward as to render it certain that the coast of
Africa would lie in their way, if obliged to scud many hours longer; for
Captain Truck's observations actually placed him to the southward and
eastward of the Canary Islands. This was a long distance out of his
course, but the rate of sailing rendered the fact sufficiently clear.
This, too was the precise time when the Montauk felt the weight of the
tempest, or rather, when she experienced the heaviest portion of that
which it was her fate to feel. Lucky was it for the good ship that she had
not been in this latitude a few hours earlier, when it had blown something
very like a hurricane. The responsibility and danger of his situation now
began seriously to disturb Captain Truck, although he kept his
apprehensions to himself, like a prudent officer. All his calculations
were gone over again with the utmost care, the rate of sailing was
cautiously estimated, and the result showed, that ten or fifteen hours
more would inevitably produce shipwreck of another sort, unless the wind
Fortunately, the gale began to break about midnight. The wind still blew
tremendously, but it was less steadily, and there were intervals of
half-an-hour at a time when the ship might have carried much more canvas,
even on a bowline: of course her speed abated in proportion, and, after
the day had dawned, a long and anxious survey from aloft showed no land to
the eastward. When perfectly assured of this important fact, Captain Truck
rubbed his hands with delight, ordered a coal for his cigar, and began to
abuse Saunders about the quality of the coffee during the blow.
"Let there be something creditable, this morning, sir," added the captain,
after a sharp rebuke; "and remember we are down here in the neighbourhood
of the country of your forefathers, where a man ought, in reason, to be on
his good behaviour. If I hear any more of your washy compounds, I'll put
you ashore, and let you run naked a summer or two with the monkeys and
"I endeavour, on all proper occasions, to render myself agreeable to you,
Captain Truck, and to all those with whom I have the happiness to sail,"
returned the steward; "but the coffee, sir, cannot be very good, sir, in
such weater, sir. I do diwine that the wind must blow away its flavour,
for I am ready to confess it has not been as odorous as it usually is,
when I have had the honour to prepare it. As for Africa, sir, I flatter
myself, Captain Truck, that you esteem me too highly to believe I am
suited to consort or besort with the ill-formed and inedicated men who
inhabit that wild country. I misremember whether my ancestors came from
this part of the world or not; but if they did, sir, my habits and
profession entirely unqualify me for their company, I hope. I know I am
only a poor steward, sir, but you'll please to recollect that your great
Mr. Vattel was nothing but a cook."
"D--n the fellow, Leach; I believe it is this conceit that has spoiled
the coffee the last day or two! Do you suppose it can be true that a great
writer like this man could really be no better than a cook, or was that
Englishman roasting me, by way of showing how cooking is done ashore? If
it were not for the testimony of the ladies, I might believe it; but they
would not share in such an indecent trick. What are you lying-by for, sir?
go to your pantry and remember that the gale is broken, and we shall all
sit down to table this morning, as keen-set as a party of your brethren
ashore here, who had a broiled baby for breakfast."
Saunders, who _ex-officio_ might be said to be trained in similar
lectures, went pouting to his work, taking care to expend a proper part of
his spleen on Mr. Toast, who, quite as a matter of course, suffered in
proportion as his superior was made to feel, in his own person, the weight
of Captain Truck's authority. It is perhaps fortunate that nature points
out this easy and self-evident mode of relief, else would the rude habits
of a ship sometimes render the relations between him who orders and him
whose duty it is to obey, too nearly approaching to the intolerable.
The captain's squalls, however, were of short duration and on the present
occasion he was soon in even a better humour than common, as every minute
gave the cheering assurance, that the tempest was fast drawing to a close.
He had finished his third cigar, and was actually issuing his orders to
turn the reef out of the foresail, and to set the main-top-sail
close-reefed, when most of the passengers appeared on deck, for the first
time that morning.
"Here we are, gentlemen!" cried Captain Truck, in the way of salutation,
"nearer to Guinea than I could wish, with every prospect, now, of soon
working our way across the Atlantic, and possibly of making a thirty or
thirty-five days' passage of it yet. We have this sea to quiet; and then I
hope to show you what the Montauk has in her, besides her passengers and
cargo. I think we have now got rid of the Foam, as well as of the gale. I
did believe, at one time, her people might be walking and wading on the
coast of Cornwall; but I now believe they are more likely to try the sands
of the great Desert of Sahara."
"It is to be hoped they have escaped the latter calamity, as fortunately
as they escaped the first!" observed Mr. Effingham.
"It may be so; but the wind has got round to nor-west, and has not been
sighing these last twelve hours. Cape Bianco is not a hundred leagues from
us, and, at the rate he was travelling, that gentleman with the
speaking-trumpet may now be philosophizing over the fragments of his ship,
unless he had the good sense to haul off more to the westward than he was
steering when last seen. His ship should have been christened the 'Scud,'
instead of the 'Foam.'"
Every one expressed the hope that the ship, to which their own situation
was fairly enough to be ascribed, might escape this calamity; and all
faces regained their cheerfulness as they saw the canvas fall, in sign
that their own danger was past. So rapidly, indeed, did the gale now
abate, that the topsails were hardly hoisted before the order was given to
shake out another reef, and within an hour all the heavier canvas that
was proper to carry before the wind was set, solely with a view to keep
the ship steady. The sea was still fearful, and Captain Truck found
himself obliged to keep off from his course, in order to avoid the danger
of having his decks swept.
The racing with the crest of the waves, however, was quite done, for the
seas soon cease to comb and break, after the force of the wind
At no time is the motion of the vessel more unpleasant, or, indeed, more
dangerous, than in the interval that occurs between the ceasing of a
violent gale, and the springing up of a new wind. The ship is
unmanageable, and falling into the troughs of the sea, the waves break in
upon her decks, often doing serious injury, while the spars and rigging
are put to the severest trial by the sudden and violent surges which they
have to withstand. Of all this Captain Truck was fully aware, and when he
was summoned to breakfast he gave many cautions to Mr. Leach before
quitting the deck.
"I do not like the new shrouds we got up in London," he said, "for the
rope has stretched in this gale in a way to throw too much strain on the
old rigging; so see all ready for taking a fresh drag on them, as soon as
the people have breakfasted. Mind and keep her out of the trough, sir, and
watch every roller that you find comes tumbling upon us."
After repeating these injunctions in different ways, looking to windward
some time, and aloft five or six minutes, Captain Truck finally went
below, to pass judgment on Mr. Saunders' coffee. Once in his throne, at
the head of the long table, the worthy master, after a proper attention to
his passengers, set about the duty of restoration, as the steward
affectedly called eating, with a zeal that never failed him on such
occasions. He had just swallowed a cup of the coffee, about which he had
lectured Saunders, when a heavy flap of the sails announced the sudden
failure of the wind.
"That is bad news," said Captain Truck, listening to the fluttering blows
of the canvas against the masts. "I never like to hear a ship shaking its
wings while there is a heavy sea on; but this is better than the Desert of
Sahara, and so, my dear young lady, let me recommend to you a cup of this
coffee, which is flavoured this morning by a dread of ouran-outangs, as
Mr. Saunders will have the honour to inform you--"
A jerk of the whole ship was followed by a report like that made by a
musket. Captain Truck rose, and stood leaning on one hand in a bent
attitude, expectation and distrust intensely portrayed in every feature.
Another helpless roil of the ship succeeded, and three or four similar
reports were immediately heard, as if large ropes had parted in quick
succession. A rending of wood followed, and then came a chaotic crash, in
which the impending heavens seemed to fall on the devoted ship. Most of
the passengers shut their eyes, and when they were opened again, or a
moment afterwards, Mr. Truck had vanished It is scarcely necessary to
describe the confusion that followed. Eve was frightened, but she behaved
well, though Mademoiselle Viefville trembled so much as to require the
assistance of Mr. Effingham.
"We have lost our masts," John Effingham coolly remarked; "an accident
that will not be likely to be very dangerous, though by prolonging the
passage a month or two, it may have the merit of making this good company
more intimately acquainted with each other, a pleasure for which we cannot
express too much gratitude."
Eve implored his forbearance by a glance, for she saw his eye was
unconsciously directed towards Mr. Monday and Mr. Dodge, for both of whom
she knew her kinsman entertained an incurable dislike. His words, however,
explained the catastrophe, and most of the men hastened on deck to assure
themselves of the fact.
John Effingham was right. The new rigging which had stretched so much
during the gale, had permitted too much of the strain, in the tremendous
rolls of the ship, to fall upon the other ropes. The shroud most exposed
had parted first; three or four more followed in succession, and before
there was time to secure anything, the remainder had gone together, and
the mainmast had broken at a place where a defect was now seen in its
heart. Falling over the side, the latter had brought down with it the
mizzen-mast and all its hamper, and as much of the fore-mast as stood
above the top. In short, of all the complicated tracery of ropes, the
proud display of spars, and the broad folds of canvas that had so lately
overshadowed the deck of the Montauk, the mutilated fore-mast, the
fore-yard and sail, and the fallen head-gear alone remained. All the rest
either cumbered the deck, or was beating against the side of the ship, in
The hard, red, weather-beaten face of Captain Truck was expressive of
mortification and concern, for a single instant, when his eye glanced over
the ruin we have just described. His mind then seemed made up to the
calamity, and he ordered Toast to bring him a coal of fire, with which he
quietly lighted a cigar.
"Here is a category, and be d---d to it, Mr. Leach," he said, after
taking a single whiff. "You are doing quite right, sir; cut away the wreck
and force the ship free of it, or we shall have some of those sticks
poking themselves through the planks. I always thought the chandler in
London, into whose hands the agent has fallen, was a--rogue, and now I
know it well enough to swear to it. Cut away, carpenter, and get us rid of
all this thumping as soon as possible. A very capital vessel, Mr. Monday,
or she would have rolled the pumps out of her, and capsized the galley."
No attempt being made to save anything, the wreck was floating astern in
five minutes, and the ship was fortunately extricated from this new
hazard. Mr. Truck, in spite of his acquired coolness, looked piteously at
all that gallant hamper, in which he had so lately rejoiced, as yard-arm,
cross-trees, tressel-trees, and tops rose on the summits of swells or
settled in the troughs, like whales playing their gambols. But habit is a
seaman's philosophy, and in no one feature is his character more
respectable than in that manliness which disinclines him to mourn over a
misfortune that is inevitable.
The Montauk now resembled a tree stripped of its branches, or a courser
crippled in his sinews; her glory had, in a great degree, departed. The
foremast alone remained, and of this even the head was gone, a
circumstance of which Captain Truck complained more than of any other, as,
to use his own expressions, "it destroyed the symmetry of the spar, which
had proved itself to be a good stick." What, however, was of more real
importance, it rendered it difficult, if not impossible, to get up a spare
topmast forward. As both the main and mizzen-mast had gone quite near the
deck, this was almost the only tolerably easy expedient that remained;
and, within an hour of the accident, Mr. Truck announced his intentions to
stand as far south as he could to strike the trades, and then to make a
fair wind of it across the Atlantic, unless, indeed, he might be able to
fetch into the Cape de Verde Islands, where it would be possible, perhaps,
to get something like a now outfit.
"All I now ask, my dear young lady," he said to Eve, who ventured on deck
to look at the desolation, as soon the wreck was cut adrift, "all I now
ask, my dear young lady, is an end to westerly winds for two or three
weeks, and I will promise to place you all in America yet, in time to eat
your Christmas dinner. I do not think Sir George will shoot many white
bears among the Rocky Mountains this year, but then there will be so many
more left for another season. The ship is in a category, and he will be an
impudent scoundrel who denies it; but worse categories than this have been
reasoned out of countenance. All head-sail is not a convenient show of
cloth to claw off a lee-shore with; but I still hope to escape the
misfortune of laying eyes on the coast of Africa."
"Are we far from it?" asked Eve, who sufficiently understood the danger of
being on an uninhabitable shore in their present situation; one in which
it was vain to seek for a port. "I would rather be in the neighbourhood of
any other land, I think, than that of Africa."
"Especially Africa between the Canaries and Cape Blanco," returned Captain
Truck, with an expressive shrug. "More hospitable regions exist,
certainly; for, if accounts are to be credited, the honest people
along-shore never get a Christian that they do not mount him on a camel,
and trot him through the sands a thousand miles or so, under a hot sun,
with a sort of haggis for food, that would go nigh to take away even a
"And you do not tell us how far we are from this frightful land, Mons. le
Capitaine?" inquired Mademoiselle Viefville.
"In ten minutes you shall know, ladies, for I am about to observe for the
longitude. It is a little late, but it may yet be done."
"And we may rely on the fidelity of your information?"
"On the honour of a sailor and a man."
The ladies were silent, while Mr. Truck proceeded to get the sun and the
time. As soon as he had run through his calculations, he came to them with
a face in which the eye was roving, though it was still good-humoured
"And the result?" said Eve.
"Is not quite as flattering as I could wish. We are materially within a
degree of the coast; but, as the wind is gone, or nearly so, we may hope
to find a shift that will shove us farther from the land. And now I have
dealt frankly with you, let me beg you will keep the secret, for my people
will be dreaming of Turks, instead of working, if they knew the fact."
It required no great observation to discover that Captain Truck was far
from satisfied with the position of his ship. Without any after-sail, and
almost without the means of making any, it was idle to think of hauling
off from the land, more especially against the heavy sea that was still
rolling in from the north-west; and his present object was to make the
Cape de Verdes, before reaching which he would be certain to meet the
trades, and where, of course, there would be some chance of repairing
damages. His apprehensions would have been much less were the ship a
degree further west, as the prevailing winds in this part of the ocean are
from the northward and eastward; but it was no easy matter to force a ship
that distance under a foresail, the only regular sail that now remained in
its place. It is true, he had some of the usual expedients of seamen at
his command, and the people were immediately set about them; but, in
consequence of the principal spars having gone so near the decks, it
became exceedingly difficult to rig jury-masts.
Something must be attempted, however, and the spare spars were got out,
and all the necessary preparations were commenced, in order that they
might be put into their places and rigged, as well as circumstances would
allow. As soon as the sea went down, and the steadiness of the ship would
permit, Mr. Leach succeeded in getting up an awkward lower studding-sail,
and a sort of a stay-sail forward, and with these additions to their
canvas, the ship was brought to head south, with the wind light at the
westward. The sea was greatly diminished about noon; but a mile an hour,
for those who had so long a road before them, and who were so near a coast
that was known to be fearfully inhospitable, was a cheerless progress, and
the cry of "sail, ho!" early in the afternoon, diffused a general joy in
The stranger was made to the southward and eastward, and was standing on
a course that must bring her quite near to their own track, as the Montauk
then headed. The wind was so light, however, that Captain Truck gave it as
his opinion they could not speak until night had set in.
"Unless the coast has brought him up, yonder flaunting gentleman, who
seems to have had better luck with his light canvas than ourselves, must
be the Foam," he said. "Tobacco, or no tobacco, bride or bridegroom, the
fellow has us at last, and all the consolation that is left is, that we
shall be much obliged to him, now, if he will carry us to Portsmouth, or
into any other Christian haven. We have shown him what a kettle-bottom can
do before the wind, and now let him give us a tow to windward like a
generous antagonist. That is what I call Vattel, my dear young lady."
"If he do this, he will indeed prove himself a generous adversary," said
Eve, "and we shall be certain to speak well of his humanity, whatever we
may think of his obstinacy."
"Are you quite sure the ship in sight is the corvette?" asked Paul Blunt.
"Who else can it be?--Two vessels are quite sufficient to be jammed down
here on the coast of Africa, and we know that the Englishman must be
somewhere to leeward of us; though, I will confess, I had believed him much
farther, if not plump up among the Mohammedans, beginning to reduce to a
feather-weight, like Captain Riley, who came out with just his skin and
bones, after a journey across the desert."
"I do not think those top-gallant-sails have the symmetry of the canvas of
Captain Truck looked steadily at the young man an instant, as one regards
a sound criticism, and then he turned his eye towards the object of which
they were speaking.
"You are right, sir," he rejoined, after a moment of examination; "and I
have had a lesson in my own trade from one young enough to be my son. The
stranger is clearly no cruiser, and as there is no port in-shore of us
anywhere near this latitude, he is probably some trader who has been
driven down here, like ourselves."
"And I'm very sure, captain," put in Sir George Templemore, "we ought to
rejoice sincerely that, like ourselves he has escaped shipwreck. For my
part, I pity the poor wretches on board the Foam most sincerely, and could
almost wish myself a Catholic, that one might yet offer up sacrifices in
"You have shown yourself a Christian throughout all that affair, Sir
George, and I shall not forget your hand some offers to befriend the ship,
rather than let us fall into the jaws of the Philistines. We were in a
category more than once, with that nimble-footed racer in our wake, and
you were the man, Sir George, who manifested the most hearty desire to
get us out."
"I ever feel an interest in the ship in which I embark," returned the
gratified baronet, who was not displeased at hearing his liberality so
openly commended; "and I would cheerfully have given a thousand pounds in
preference to being taken. I rather think, now, that is the true spirit
for a sportsman!"
"Or for an admiral, my good sir. To be frank with you, Sir George, when I
first had the honour of your acquaintance, I did not think you had so much
in you. There was a sort of English attention to small wares, a species of
knee-buckleism about your _debutt_, as Mr. Dodge calls it, that made me
distrust your being the whole-souled and one-idea'd man I find you
"Oh! I _do_ like my comforts," said Sir George, laughing.
"That you do, and I am only surprised you don't smoke. Now, Mr. Dodge,
your room-mate, there, tells me you have six-and-thirty pair of breeches!"
"I have--yes, indeed, I have. One would wish to go abroad decently clad."
"Well! if it should be our luck to travel in the deserts, your wardrobe
would rig out a whole harem."
"I wish, captain, you would do me the favour to step into our state-room,
some morning; I have many curious things I should like to show you. A set
of razors, in particular,--and a dressing-case--and a pair of patent
pistols--and that life-preserver that you admire so much, Mr. Dodge. Mr.
Dodge has seen most of my curiosities, I believe, and will tell you some
of them are really worth a moment's examination."
"Yes, captain, I must say," observed Mr. Dodge,--for this conversation was
held apart between the three, the mate keeping an eye the while on the
duty of the ship, for habit had given Mr. Truck the faculty of driving his
people while he entertained his passengers--"Yes, captain, I must say I
have met no gentleman who is better supplied with necessaries, than _my_
friend, Sir George. But English gentlemen are curious in such things, and
I admit that I admire their ingenuity."
"Particularly in breeches, Mr. Dodge. Have you coats to match, Sir
"Certainly, sir. One would be a little absurd in his shirt sleeves. I
wish, captain, we could make Mr. Dodge a little less of a republican. I
find him a most agreeable room-mate, but rather annoying on the subject of
kings and princes."
"You stick up for the people, Mr. Dodge, or to the old category?"
"On that subject, Sir George and I shall never agree, for he is
obstinately monarchial; but I tell him we shall treat him none the worse
for that, when he gets among us. He has promised me a visit in our part of
the country, and I have pledged myself to his being unqualifiedly well
received; and I think I know the whole meaning of a pledge."
"I understand Mr. Dodge," pursued the baronet, "that he is the editor of a
public journal, in which he entertains his readers with an account of his
adventures and observations during his travels, 'The Active Inquirer,' is
it not, Mr. Dodge?"
"That is the name, Sir George. 'The Active Inquirer' is the present name,
though when we supported Mr. Adams it was called 'The Active Enquirer,'
with an E."
"A distinction without a difference; I like that," interrupted Captain
Truck. "This is the second time I have had the honour to sail with Mr.
Dodge, and a more active inquirer never put foot in a ship, though I did
not know the use he put his information to before. It is all in the way of
trade, I find."
"Mr. Dodge claims to belong to a profession, captain, and is quite above
trade. He tells me many things have occurred on board this ship, since we
sailed, that will make very eligible paragraphs."
"The d---- he does!--I should like particularly well, Mr. Dodge, to know
what you will find to say concerning this category in which the Montauk
"Oh! captain, no fear of me, when you are concerned. You know I am a
friend, and you have no cause to apprehend any thing; though I'll not
answer for everybody else on board; for there are passengers in this ship
to whom I have decided antipathies, and whose deportment meets with my
"And you intend to paragraph them?"
Mr. Dodge was now swelling with the conceit of a vulgar and inflated man,
who not only fancies himself in possession of a power that others dread,
but who was so far blinded to his own qualities as to think his opinion of
importance to those whom he felt, in the minutest fibre of his envious and
malignant system, to be in every essential his superiors. He did not dare
express all his rancour, while he was unequal to suppressing it entirely.
"These Effinghams, and this Mr. Sharp, and that Mr. Blunt," he muttered,
"think themselves everybody's betters; but we shall see! America is not a
country in which people can shut themselves up in rooms, and fancy they
are lords and ladies."
"Bless my soul!" said Captain Truck, with his affected simplicity of
manner; "how did you find this out, Mr. Dodge? What a thing it is, Sir
George, to be an active inquirer!"
"Oh! I know when a man is blown up with notions of his own importance. As
for Mr. John Effingham, he has been so long abroad that he has forgotten
that he is a going home to a country of equal rights!"
"Very true, Mr. Dodge; a country in which a man cannot shut himself, up in
his room, whenever the notion seizes him. This is the spirit, Sir George,
to make a great nation, and you see that the daughter is likely to prove
worthy of the old lady! But, my dear sir, are you quite sure that Mr.
John Effingham has absolutely so high a sentiment in his own favour. It
would be awkward business to make a blunder in such a serious matter, and
murder a paragraph for nothing. You should remember the mistake of the
"What was that?" asked the baronet, who was completely mystified by the
indomitable gravity of Captain Truck, whose character might be said to be
actually formed by the long habit of treating the weaknesses of his
fellow-creatures with cool contempt. "We hear many good things at our
club; but I do not remember the mistake of the Irishman?"
"He merely mistook the drumming in his own ear, for some unaccountable
noise that disturbed his companions."
Mr. Dodge felt uncomfortable; but there is no one in whom a vulgar-minded
man stands so much in awe as an immovable quiz, who has no scruple in
using his power. He shook his head, therefore, in a menacing manner, and
affecting to have something to do he went below, leaving the baronet and
captain by themselves.
"Mr. Dodge is a stubborn friend of liberty," said the former, when his
room-mate was out of hearing.
"That is he, and you have his own word for it. He has no notion of letting
a man do as he has a mind to! We are full of such active inquirers in
America, and I don't care how many you shoot before you begin upon the
white bears, Sir George."
"But it would be more gracious in the Effinghams, you must allow, captain,
if they shut themselves up in their cabin less, and admitted us to their
society a little oftener. I am quite of Mr. Dodge's way of thinking, that
exclusion is excessively odious."
"There is a poor fellow in the steerage, Sir George, to whom I have given
a piece of canvas to repair a damage to his mainsail, who would say the
same thing, did he know of your six-and-thirtys. Take a cigar, my dear
sir, and smoke away sorrow."
"Thankee, captain: I never smoke. We never smoke at our club, though some
of us go, at times, to the divan to try a chibouk."
"We can't all have cabins to ourselves, or no one would live forward. If
the Effinghams like their own apartment, I do honestly believe it is for a
reason as simple as that it is the best in the ship. I'll warrant you, if
there were a better, that they would be ready enough to change. I suppose
when we get in, Mr. Dodge will honour you with an article in 'The Active
"To own the truth, he has intimated some such thing."
"And why not? A very instructive paragraph might be made about the
six-and-thirty pair of breeches, and the patent razors, and the
dressing-case, to say nothing of the Rocky Mountains, and the
Sir George now began to feel uncomfortable, and making a few unmeaning
remarks about the late accident, he disappeared.
Captain Truck, who never smiled except at the corner of his left eye,
turned away, and began rattling off his people, and throwing in a hint or
two to Saunders, with as much indifference as if he were a firm believer
in the unfailing orthodoxy of a newspaper, and entertained a profound
respect for the editor of the 'Active Inquirer,' in particular.
The prognostic of the master concerning the strange ship proved true, for
about nine at night she came within hail, and backed her maintop-sail.
This vessel proved to be an American in ballast, bound from Gibraltar to
New York; a return store-ship from the squadron kept in the Mediterranean.
She had met the gale to the westward of Madeira, and after holding on as
long as possible, had also been compelled to scud. According to the report
of her officers, the Foam had run in much closer to the coast than
herself, and it was their opinion she was lost. Their own escape was owing
entirely to the wind's abating, for they had actually been within sight of
the land, though having received no injury, they had been able to haul off
Luckily, this ship was ballasted with fresh water, and Captain Truck
passed the night in negotiating a transfer of his steerage passengers,
under an apprehension that, in the crippled state of his own vessel, his
supplies might be exhausted before he could reach America. In the morning,
the offer of being put on board the store-ship was made to those who
chose to accept it, and all in the steerage, with most from the cabin,
profited by the occasion to exchange a dismasted vessel for one that was,
at least, full rigged. Provisions were transferred accordingly, and by
noon next day the stranger made sail on a wind, the sea being tolerably
smooth, and the breeze still ahead. In three hours she was out of sight to
the northward and westward, the Montauk holding her own dull course to the
southward, with the double view of striking the trades, or of reaching one
of the Cape de Verdes.
_Steph_.--His forward voice now is to speak well of his friend; his
backward voice is to utter foul speeches, and to detract.
The situation of the Montauk appeared more desolate than ever, after the
departure of so many of her passengers. So long as her decks were thronged
there was an air of life about her, that served to lessen disquietude, but
now that she was left by all in the steerage, and by so many in the
cabins, those who remained began to entertain livelier apprehensions of
the future. When the upper sails of the store-ship sunk as a speck in the
ocean, Mr. Effingham regretted that he, too, had not overcome his
reluctance to a crowded and inconvenient cabin, and gone on board her,
with his own party. Thirty years before he would have thought himself
fortunate in finding so good a ship, and accommodations so comfortable;
but habit and indulgence change all our opinions, and he had now thought
it next to impossible to place Eve and Mademoiselle Viefville in a
situation that was so common to those who travelled by sea at the
commencement of the century.
Most of the cabin passengers, as has just been stated, decided
differently, none remaining but the Effinghams and their party, Mr.
Sharp, Mr. Blunt, Sir George Templemore, Mr. Dodge, and Mr. Monday. Mr.
Effingham had been influenced by the superior comforts of the packet, and
his hopes that a speedy arrival at the islands would enable the ship to
refit, in time to reach America almost as soon as the dull-sailing vessel
which had just left them. Mr. Sharp and Mr. Blunt had both expressed a
determination to share his fortunes, which was indirectly saying that they
would share the fortunes of his daughter. John Effingham remained, as a
matter of course, though he had made a proposition to the stranger to tow
them into port, an arrangement that failed in consequence of the two
captains disagreeing as to the course proper to be steered, as well as to
a more serious obstacle in the way of compensation, the stranger throwing
out some pretty plain hints about salvage; and Mr. Monday staying from an
inveterate attachment to the steward's stores, more of which, he rightly
judged, would now fall to his share than formerly.
Sir George Templemore had gone on board the store-ship, and had given some
very clear demonstrations of an intention to transfer himself and the
thirty-six pair of breeches to that vessel; but on examining her comforts,
and particularly the confined place in which he should be compelled to
stow himself and his numerous curiosities, he was unequal to the
sacrifice. On the other hand, he knew an entire state-room would now fall
to his share, and this self-indulged and feeble-minded young man preferred
his immediate comfort, and the gratification of his besetting weakness, to
As for Mr. Dodge, he had the American mania of hurry, and was one of the
first to propose a general swarming, as soon as it was known the stranger
could receive them. During the night, he had been actively employed in
fomenting a party to "resolve" that prudence required the Montauk should
be altogether abandoned, and even after this scheme failed, he had dwelt
eloquently in corners (Mr. Dodge was too meek, and too purely democratic,
ever to speak aloud, unless under the shadow of public opinion,) on the
propriety of Captain Truck's yielding his own judgment to that of the
majority. He might as well have scolded against the late gale, in the
expectation of out-railing the tempest, as to make such an attempt on the
firm-set notions of the old seaman concerning his duty; for no sooner was
the thing intimated to him than he growled a denial in a tone that he was
little accustomed to use to his passengers, and one that effectually
silenced remonstrance. When these two plans had failed, Mr. Dodge
endeavoured strenuously to show Sir George that his interests and safety
were on the side of a removal; but with all his eloquence, and with the
hold that incessant adulation had actually given him on the mind of the
other, he was unable to overcome his love of ease, and chiefly the passion
for the enjoyment of the hundred articles of comfort and curiosity in
which the baronet so much delighted. The breeches might have been packed
in a trunk, it is true, and so might the razors, and the dressing-case,
and the pistols, and most of the other things; but Sir George loved to
look at them daily, and as many as possible were constantly paraded
before his eyes.
To the surprise of every one, Mr. Dodge, on finding it impossible to
prevail on Sir George Templemore to leave the packet, suddenly announced
his own intention to remain also. Few stopped to inquire into his motives
in the hurry of such a moment. To his room-mate he affirmed that the
strong friendship he had formed for him, could alone induce him to
relinquish the hope of reaching home previously to the autumn elections.
Nor did Mr. Dodge greatly colour the truth in making this statement. He
was an American demagogue precisely in obedience to those feelings and
inclinations which would have made him a courtier any where else. It is
true, he had travelled, or thought he had travelled, in a _diligence_ with
a countess or two, but from these he had been obliged to separate early on
account of the force of things; while here he had got a _bonâ-fide_
English baronet all to himself, in a confined state-room, and his
imagination revelled in the glory and gratification of such an
acquaintance. What were the proud and distant Effinghams to Sir George
Templemore! He even ascribed their reserve with the baronet to envy, a
passion of whose existence he had very lively perceptions, and he found a
secret charm in being shut up in so small an apartment with a man who
could excite envy in an Effingham. Rather than abandon his aristocratical
prize, therefore, whom he intended to exhibit to all his democratic
friends in his own neighbourhood, Mr. Dodge determined to abandon his
beloved hurry, looking for his reward in the future pleasure of talking of
Sir George Templemore and his curiosities, and of his sayings and his
jokes, in the circle at home. Odd, moreover, as it may seem, Mr. Dodge had
an itching desire to remain with the Effinghams; for while he was
permitting jealousy and a consciousness of inferiority to beget hatred, he
was willing at any moment to make peace, provided it could be done by a
frank admission into their intimacy. As to the innocent family that was
rendered of so much account to the happiness of Mr. Dodge, it seldom
thought of that individual at all, little dreaming of its own importance
in his estimation, and merely acted in obedience to its own cultivated
tastes and high principles in disliking his company. It fancied itself, in
this particular, the master of its own acts, and this so much the more,
that with the reserve of good-breeding its members seldom indulged in
censorious personal remarks, and never in gossip.
As a consequence of these contradictory feelings of Mr. Dodge, and of the
fastidiousness of Sir George Templemore, the interest her two admirers
took in Eve, the devotion of Mr. Monday to sherry and champaigne, and the
decision of Mr. Effingham, these persons therefore remained the sole
occupants of the cabins of the Montauk. Of the _oi polloi_ who had left
them, we have hitherto said nothing, because this separation was to remove
them entirely from the interest of our incidents.
If we were to say that Captain Truck did not feel melancholy as the
store-ship sunk beneath the horizon, we should represent that
stout-hearted mariner as more stoical than he actually was. In the course
of a long and adventurous professional life, he had encountered calamities
before, but he had never before been compelled to call in assistance to
deliver his passengers at the stipulated port, since he had commanded a
packet. He felt the necessity, in the present instance, as a sort of stain
upon his character as a seaman, though in fact the accident which had
occurred was chiefly to be attributed to a concealed defect in the
mainmast. The honest master sighed often, smoked nearly double the usual
number of cigars in the course of the afternoon, and when the sun went
down gloriously in the distant west, he stood gazing at the sky in
melancholy silence, as long as any of the magnificent glory that
accompanies the decline of day lingered among the vapours of the horizon.
He then summoned Saunders to the quarter-deck, where the following
dialogue took place between them:
"This is a devil of a category to be in, Master Steward!"
"Well, he might be better, sir. I only wish the good butter may endure
until we get in."
"If it fail, I shall go nigh to see you clapt into the State's prison, or
at least into that Gothic cottage on Blackwell's Island."
"There is an end to all things, Captain Truck, if you please, sir, even to
butter. I presume, sir, Mr. Vattel, if he know anything of cookery, will
"Harkee, Saunders, if you ever insinuate again that Vattel belonged to the
coppers, in my presence, I'll take the liberty to land you on the coast
here, where you may amuse yourself in stewing young monkeys for your own
dinner. I saw you aboard the other ship, sir, overhauling her
arrangements; what sort of a time will the gentlemen be likely to have
"Atrocious, sir! I give you my honour, as a real gentleman, sir. Why,
would you believe it, Captain Truck, the steward is a downright nigger,
and he wears ear-rings, and a red flannel shirt, without the least
edication. As for the cook, sir, he wouldn't pass an examination for Jemmy
Ducks aboard here, and there is but one camboose, and one set of coppers."
"Well, the steerage-passengers, in that case, will fare as well as the
"Yes, sir, and the cabin as bad as the steerage; and for my part, I
abomernate liberty and equality."
"You should converse with Mr. Dodge on that subject, Master Saunders, and
let the hardest fend off in the argument. May I inquire, sir, if you
happen to remember the day of the week?"
"Beyond controversy, sir; to-morrow will be Sunday, Captain Truck, and I
think it a thousand pities we have not an opportunity to solicit the
prayers and praises of the church, sir, in our behalf, sir."
"If to-morrow will be Sunday, to-day must be Saturday, Mr. Saunders,
unless this last gale has deranged the calendar."
"Quite naturally, sir, and werry justly remarked. Every body admits there
is no better navigator than Captain Truck, sir."
"This may be true, my honest fellow," returned the captain moodily, after
making three or four heavy puffs on the cigar; "but I am sadly out of my
road down here in the country of your amiable family, just now. If this be
Saturday, there will be a Saturday night before long, and look to it, that
we have our 'sweethearts and wives.' Though I have neither myself, I feel
the necessity of something cheerful, to raise my thoughts to the future."
"Depend on my discretion, sir, and I rejoice to hear you say it; for I
think, sir, a ship is never so respectable and genteel as when she
celebrates all the anniwersaries. You will be quite a select and agreeable
party to-night, sir."
With this remark Mr. Saunders withdrew, to confer with Toast on the
subject, and Captain Truck proceeded to give his orders for the night to
Mr. Leach. The proud ship did indeed present a sight to make a seaman
melancholy; for to the only regular sail that stood, the foresail, by this
time was added a lower studding-sail, imperfectly rigged, and which would
not resist a fresh puff, while a very inartificial jury-topmast supported
a topgallant-sail, that could only be carried in a free wind. Aft,
preparations were making of a more permanent nature, it is true. The upper
part of the mainmast had been cut away, as low as the steerage-deck where
an arrangement had been made to step a spare topmast. The spar itself was
lying on the deck rigged, and a pair of sheers were in readiness to be
hoisted, in order to sway it up; but night approaching, the men had been
broken off, to rig the yards, bend the sails, and to fit the other spars
it was intended to use, postponing the last act, that of sending all up,
"We are likely to have a quiet night of it," said the captain, glancing
his eyes round at the heavens; "and at eight o'clock to-morrow let all
hands be called, when we will turn-to with a will, and make a brig of the
old hussey. This topmast will do to bear the strain of the spare
main-yard, unless there come another gale, and by reefing the new mainsail
we shall be able to make something out of it. The topgallant-mast will fit
of course above, and we may make out, by keeping a little free, to carry
the sail: at need, we may possibly coax the contrivance into carrying a
studding-sail also. We have sticks for no more, though we'll endeavour to
get up something aft, out of the spare spars obtained from the store-ship.
You may knock off at four bells, Mr. Leach, and let the poor fellows have
their Saturday's night in peace. It is a misfortune enough to be
dismasted, without having one's grog stopped."
The mate of course obeyed, and the evening shut in beautifully and placid,
with all the glory of a mild night, in a latitude as low as that they were
in. They who have never seen the ocean under such circumstances, know
little of its charms in its moments of rest. The term of sleeping is well
applied to its impressive stillness, for the long sluggish swells on which
the ship rose and fell, hardly disturbed its surface. The moon did not
rise until midnight, and Eve, accompanied by Mademoiselle Viefville and
most of her male companions, walked the deck by the bright starlight,
until fatigued with pacing their narrow bounds.
The song and the laugh rose frequently from the forecastle, where the crew
were occupied with their Saturday night; and occasionally a rude sentiment
in the way of a toast was heard. But weariness soon got the better of
merriment forward, and the hard-worked mariners, who had the watch below,
soon went down to their berths, leaving those whose duty it was to remain
to doze away the long hours in such places as they could find on deck.
"A white squall," said Captain Truck, looking up at the uncouth sails that
hardly impelled the vessel a mile in the hour through the water, "would
soon furl all our canvas for us, and we are in the very place for such an
"And what would then become of us?" asked Mademoiselle Viefville quickly.
"You had better ask what would become of that apology for a topsail,
mam'selle, and yonder stun'sail, which looks like an American in London
without straps to his pantaloons. The canvas would play kite, and we
should be left to renew our inventions. A ship could scarcely be in better
plight than we are at this moment, to meet with one of these African
"In which case, captain," observed Mr. Monday, who stood by the skylight
watching the preparations below, "we can go to our Saturday-night without
fear; for I see the steward has everything ready, and the punch looks very
inviting, to say nothing of the champaigne."
"Gentlemen, we will not forget our duty," returned the captain; "we are
but a small family, and so much the greater need that we should prove a
jolly one. Mr. Effingham, I hope we are to have the honour of your company
at 'sweethearts and wives.'"
Mr. Effingham had no wife, and the invitation coming under such peculiar
circumstances, produced a pang that Eve, who felt his arm tremble, well
understood. She mildly intimated her intention to go below however; the
whole party followed, and lucky it was for the captain's entertainment
that she quitted the deck, as few would otherwise have been present at it.
By pressing the passengers to favour him with their company, he succeeded
in the course of a few minutes in getting all the gentlemen seated at the
cabin-table, with a glass of delicious punch before each man.
"Mr. Saunders may not be a conjuror or a mathematician, gentlemen," cried
Captain Truck, as he ladled out the beverage; "but he understands the
philosophy of sweet and sour, strong and weak; and I will venture to
praise his liquor without tasting it. Well, gentlemen, there are
better-rigged ships on the ocean than this of ours; but there are few with
more comfortable cabins, or stouter hulls, or better company. Please God
we can get a few sticks aloft again, now that we are quit of our
troublesome shadow, I think I may flatter myself with a reasonable hope of
landing you, that do me the honour to stand by me, in New York, in less
time than a common drogger would make the passage, with his legs and arms.
Let our first toast be, if you please: A happy end to that which has had
a disastrous beginning.'"
Captain Truck's hard face twitched a little while he was making this
address, and as he swallowed the punch, his eyes glistened in spite of
himself. Mr. Dodge, Sir George, and Mr. Monday repeated the sentiment
sonorously, word for word, while the other gentlemen bowed, and drank it
The commencement of a regular scene of merriment is usually dull and
formal, and it was some time before Captain Truck could bring any of his
companions up to the point where he wished to see them; for though a
perfectly sober man, he loved a social glass, and particularly at those
times and seasons which conformed to the practice of his calling. Although
Eve and her governess had declined taking their seats at the table, they
consented to place themselves where they might be seen, and where they
might share occasionally in the conversation.
"Here have I been drinking sweethearts and wives of a Saturday-night, my
dear young lady, these forty years and more," said Captain Truck, after
the party had sipped their liquor for a minute or two, "without ever
falling into luck's latitude, or furnishing myself with either; but,
though so negligent of my own interests and happiness, I make it an
invariable rule to advise all my young friends to get spliced before they
are thirty. Many is the man who has come aboard my ship a determined
bachelor in his notions, who has left it at the end of the passage ready
to marry the first pretty young woman he fell in with."
As Eve had too much of the self-respect of a lady, and of the true dignity
of her sex, to permit jokes concerning matrimony, or a treatise on love,
to make a part of her conversation, and all the gentlemen of her party
understood her character too well, to say nothing of their own habits, to
second this attempt of the captain's, after a vapid remark or two from the
others, this rally of the honest mariner produced no _suites_.
"Are we not unusually low, Captain Truck," inquired Paul Blunt, with a
view to change the discourse, "not to have fallen in with the trades? I
have commonly met with those winds on this coast as high as twenty-six or
twenty seven, and I believe you observed to-day, in twenty-four."
Captain Truck looked hard at the speaker, and when he had done, he nodded
his head in approbation.
"You have travelled this road before, Mr. Blunt, I perceive. I have
suspected you of being a brother chip, from the moment I saw you first put
your foot on the side-cleets in getting out of the boat. You did not come
aboard parrot-toed, like a country-girl waltzing; but set the ball of the
foot firmly on the wood, and swung off the length of your arms, like a man
who knows how to humour the muscles. Your present remark, too, shows you
understand where a ship ought to be, in order to be in her right place. As
for the trades, they are a little uncertain, like a lady's mind when she
has more than one good offer; for I've known them to blow as high as
thirty, and then again, to fail a vessel as low as twenty-three, or even
lower. It is my private opinion, gentlemen, and I gladly take this
opportunity to make it public, that we are on the edge of the trades, or
in those light baffling winds which prevail along their margin, as eddies
play near the track of strong steady currents in the ocean. If we can
force the ship fairly out of this trimming region--that is the word, I
believe, Mr. Dodge--we shall do well enough; for a north-east, or an east
wind, would soon send us up with the islands, even under the rags we
carry. We are very near the coast, certainly--much nearer than I could
wish; but when we do get the good breeze, it will be all the better for
us, as it will find us well to windward."
"But these trades, Captain Truck?" asked Eve: "if they always blow in the
same direction, how is it possible that the late gale should drive a ship
into the quarter of the ocean where they prevail?"
"Always, means sometimes, my dear young lady. Although light winds prevail
near the edge of the trades, gales and tremendous fellows too, sometimes
blow there also, as we have just seen. I think we shall now have settled
weather, and that our chance of a safe arrival, more particularly in some
southern American port, is almost certain, though our chance for a speedy
arrival be not quite as good I hope before twenty-four hours are passed,
to see our decks white with sand.
"Is that a phenomenon seen here?" asked the father.
"Often, Mr. Effingham, when ships are close in with Africa, and are fairly
in the steady winds. To say the truth, the country abreast of us, some
twenty or thirty miles distant, is not the most inviting; and though it
may not be easy to say where the garden of Eden is, it is no hazardous to
say it is not there."
"If we are so very near the coast, why do we not see it?"
"Perhaps we might from aloft, if we had any aloft just now. We are to the
southward of the mountains, however, and off a part of the country where
the Great Desert makes from the coast. And now, gentlemen, I perceive Mr.
Monday finds all this sand arid, and I ask permission to give you, one and
all, 'Sweethearts and wives.'"
Most of the company drank the usual toast with spirit, though both the
Effinghams scarce wetted their lips. Eve stole a timid glance at her
father, and her own eyes were filled with tears as she withdrew them; for
she knew that every allusion of this nature revived in him mournful
recollections. As for her cousin Jack, he was so confirmed a bachelor that
she thought nothing of his want of sympathy with such a sentiment.
"You must have a care for your heart, in America, Sir George Templemore,"
cried Mr. Dodge, whose tongue loosened with the liquor he drank. "Our
ladies are celebrated for their beauty, and are immensely popular, I can
Sir George looked pleased, and it is quite probable his thoughts ran on
the one particular vestment of the six-and-thirty, in which he ought to
make his first appearance in such a society.
"I allow the American ladies to be handsome," said Mr. Monday; "but I
think no Englishman need be in any particular danger of his heart from
such a cause, after having been accustomed to the beauty of his own
island. Captain Truck, I have the honour to drink your health."
"Fairly said," cried the captain, bowing to the compliment; "and I
ascribe my own hard fortune to the fact that I have been kept sailing
between two countries so much favoured in this particular, that I have
never been able to make up my mind which to prefer. I have wished a
thousand times there was but one handsome woman in the world, when a man
would have nothing to do but fall in love with her; and make up his mind
to get married at once, or to hang himself."
"That is a cruel wish to us men," returned Sir George, "as we should be
certain to quarrel for the beauty."
"In such a case," resumed Mr. Monday, "we common men would have to give
way to the claims of the nobility and gentry, and satisfy ourselves with
plainer companions; though an Englishman loves his independence, and might
rebel. I have the honour to drink your health and happiness, Sir George."
"I protest against your principle, Mr. Monday," said Mr. Dodge, "which is
an invasion on human rights. Perfect freedom of action is to be maintained
in this matter as in all others. I acknowledge that the English ladies are
extremely beautiful, but I shall always maintain the supremacy of the
"We will drink their healths, sir. I am far from denying their beauty, Mr.
Dodge, but I think you must admit that they fade earlier than our British
ladies. God bless them both, however, and I empty this glass to the two
entire nations, with all my heart and soul."
"Perfectly polite, Mr. Monday; but as to the fading of the ladies, I am
not certain that I can yield an unqualified approbation to your
"Nay, sir, your climate, you will allow, is none of the best, and it wears
out constitutions almost as fast as your states make them."
"I hope there is no real danger to be apprehended from the climate," said
Sir George: "I particularly detest bad climates; and for that reason have
always made it a rule never to go into Lincolnshire."
"In that case, Sir George, you had better have stayed at home. In the way
of climate, a man seldom betters himself by leaving old England. Now this
is the tenth time I've been in America, allowing that I ever reach there,
and although I entertain a profound respect for the country, I find myself
growing older every time I quit it. Mr. Effingham, I do myself the favour
to drink to your health and happiness."
"You live too well when amongst us, Mr. Monday," said the captain; "there
are too many soft crabs, hard clams, and canvas-backs; too much old
Madeira, and generous Sherry, for a man of your well-known taste to resist
them. Sit less time at table, and go oftener to church this trip, and let
us hear your report of the consequences a twelve-month hence."
"You quite mistake my habits, Captain Truck, I give you my honour.
Although a judicious eater, I seldom take anything that is compounded,
being a plain roast and boiled man; a true old-fashioned Englishman in
this respect, satisfying my appetite with solid beef and mutton, and
turkey, and pork, and puddings and potatoes, and turnips and carrots, and
similar simple food; and then I _never_ drink.--Ladies, I ask the honour
to be permitted to wish you a happy return to your native countries.--I
ascribe all the difficulty, sir, to the climate, which will not permit a
man to digest properly."
"Well, Mr. Monday, I subscribe to most of your opinions, and I believe few
men cross the ocean together that are more harmonious in sentiment, in
general, than has proved to be the case between you and Sir George, and
myself," observed Mr. Dodge, glancing obliquely and pointedly at the rest
of the party, as if he thought they were in a decided minority; "but in
this instance, I feel constrained to record my vote in the negative. I
believe America has as good a climate, and as good general digestion as
commonly falls to the lot of mortals: more than this I do not claim for
the country, and less than this I should be reluctant to maintain. I have
travelled a little, gentlemen, not as much, perhaps, as the Messrs.
Effinghams; but then a man can see no more than is to be seen, and I do
affirm, Captain Truck, that in my poor judgment, which I know is good for
"Why do you use it, then?" abruptly asked the straight-forward captain;
"why not rely on a better?"
"We must use such as we have, or go without, sir; and I suspect, in my
very poor judgment, which is probably poorer than that of most others on
board, that America is a very good sort of a country. At all events, after
having seen something of other countries, and governments, and people, I
am of opinion that America, as a country, is quite good enough for me."
"You never said truer words, Mr. Dodge, and I beg you will join Mr. Monday
and myself in a fresh glass of punch, just to help on the digestion. You
have seen more of human nature than your modesty allows you to proclaim,
and I dare say this company would be gratified if you would overcome all
scruples, and let us know your private opinions of the different people
you have visited. Tell us something of that _dittur_ you made on
"Mr. Dodge intends to publish, it is to be hoped!" observed Mr. Sharp,
"and it may not be fair to anticipate his matter."
"I beg, gentlemen, you will have no scruples on that score, for my work
will be rather philosophical and general, than of the particular nature of
private anecdotes. Saunders, hand me the manuscript journal you will find
on the shelf of our state-room, next to Sir George's patent tooth-pick
case. This is the book; and now, gentlemen and ladies, I beg you to
remember that these are merely the ideas as they arose, and not my more
"Take a little punch, sir," interrupted the captain, again, whose hard
nor'-west face was set in the most demure attention. "There is nothing
like punch to clear the voice, Mr. Dodge; the acid removes the huskiness,
the sugar softens the tones, the water mellows the tongue, and the Jamaica
braces the muscles. With a plenty of punch, a man soon gets to be
another--I forget the name of that great orator of antiquity,--it wasn't
"You mean Demosthenes, sir; and, gentlemen, I beg you to remark that this
orator was a republican: but there can be no question that liberty is
favourable to the encouragement of all the higher qualities. Would you
prefer a few notes on Paris, ladies, or shall I commence with some
extracts about the Rhine?"
"_Oh! de grace, Monsieur_, be so very kind as not to overlook _Paris_!"
said Mademoiselle Viefville.
Mr. Dodge bowed graciously, and turning over the leaves of his private
journal, he alighted in the heart of the great city named. After some
preliminary hemming, he commenced reading in a grave didactic tone, that
sufficiently showed the value he had attached to his own observations.
"'_Dejjuned_ at ten, as usual, an hour, that I find exceedingly
unreasonable and improper, and one that would meet with general
disapprobation in America. I do not wonder that a people gets to be
immoral and depraved in their practices, who keep such improper hours. The
mind acquires habits of impurity, and all the sensibilities become
blunted, by taking the meals out of the natural seasons. I impute much of
the corruption of France to the periods of the day in which the food
"_Voilà une drole d'idée!_" ejaculated Mademoiselle Viefville.
"'--In which food is taken," repeated Mr. Dodge, who fancied the
involuntary exclamation was in approbation of the justice of his
sentiments. 'Indeed the custom of taking wine at this meal, together with
the immorality of the hour, must be chief reasons why the French ladies
are so much in the practice of drinking to excess'"
"You perceive, mademoiselle calls in question the accuracy of your facts,"
observed Mr. Blunt, who, in common with all the listeners, Sir George and
Mr. Monday excepted, began to enjoy a scene which at first had promised
nothing but _ennui_ and disgust.
"I have it on the best authority, I give you my honour, or I would not
introduce so grave a charge in a work of his contemplated importance. I
obtained my information from an English gentleman who has resided twelve
years in Paris; and he informs me that a very large portion of the women
of fashion in that capital, let them belong to what country they will, are
"_A la bonne heure, monsieur!--mais_, to drink, it is very different."
"Not so much so, mademoiselle, as you imagine," rejoined John Effingham.
"Mr. Dodge is a purist in language as well as in morals, and he uses terms
differently from us less-instructed prattlers. By dissipated, he
understands a drunkard."
"Certainly; Mr. John Effingham, I presume, will at least give us the
credit in America in speaking our language better than any other known
people. 'After dejjunying, took a _phyacre_ and rode to the palace, to see
the king and royal family leave for Nully.--'"
"_Pour Neuilly, mademoiselle_," Eve quietly answered.
"'--For Nully. His majesty went on horseback, preceding his illustrious
family and all the rest of the noble party, dressed in a red coat, laced
with white on the seams, wearing blue breeches and a cocked hat.'"
"'I made the king a suitable republican reverence as he passed, which he
answered with a gracious smile, and a benignant glance of his royal eye.
The Hon. Louis Philippe Orleans, the present sovereign of the French, is a
gentleman of portly and commanding appearance, and in his state attire,
which he wore on this occasion, looks 'every inch a king.' He rides with
grace and dignity, and sets an example of decorum and gravity to his
subjects, by the solemnity of his air, that it is to be hoped will produce
a beneficial and benign influence during this reign, on the manners of the
nation. His dignity was altogether worthy of the schoolmaster of
"Yes, mam'selle, in the way of example, it is that I mean. Although a pure
democrat, and every way opposed to exclusion, I was particularly struck
with the royalty of his majesty's demeanour, and the great simplicity of
his whole deportment. I stood in the crowd next to a very accomplished
countess, who spoke English, and she did me the honour to invite me to pay
her a visit at her hotel, in the vicinity of the Bourse."
"_Mon Dieu--mon Dieu--mon Dieu!_"
"After promising my fair companion to be punctual, I walked as far as
"I wish Mr. Dodge would be a little more distinct in his names," said
Mademoiselle Viefville, who had begun to take an interest in the subject,
that even valueless opinions excite in us concerning things that touch the
"Mr. Dodge is a little profane, mademoiselle," observed the captain; "but
his journal probably was not intended for the ladies, and you must
overlook it. Well, sir, you went to that naughty place--"
"To Notter Dam, Captain Truck, if you please, and I flatter myself that is
pretty good French."
"I think, ladies and gentlemen, we have a right to insist on a
translation; for plain roast and boiled men, like Mr. Monday and myself,
are sometimes weeping when we ought to laugh, so long as the discourse is
in anything but old-fashioned English. Help yourself, Mr. Monday, and
remember, you _never_ drink."
"_Notter Dam_, I believe, mam'selle, means our Mother, the Church of our
Mother.--Notter, or Noster, our,--Dam, Mother: Notter Dam. 'Here I was
painfully impressed with the irreligion of the structure, and the general
absence of piety in the architecture. Idolatry abounded, and so did holy
water. How often have I occasion to bless Providence for having made me
one of the descendants of those pious ancestors who cast their fortunes in
the wilderness in preference to giving up their hold on faith and charity!
The building is much inferior in comfort and true taste to the commoner
American churches, and met with my unqualified disapprobation.'"
"_Est il possible que cela soit vrai, ma chère!_"
"_Je l'espère, bien, mademoiselle_."
"You may _despair bien_, cousin Eve," said John Effingham, whose fine
curvilinear face curled even more than usual with contempt.
The ladies whispered a few explanations, and Mr. Dodge, who fancied it was
only necessary to resolve to be perfect to achieve his end, went on with
his comments, with all the self-satisfaction of a provincial critic.
"'From Notter Dam I proceeded in a _cabrioly_ to the great national
burying-ground, Pere la Chaise, so termed from the circumstance that its
distance from the capital renders chaises necessary for the _convoys_--"
"How's this, how's this!" interrupted Mr. Truck; "is one obliged to sail
under a convoy about the streets of Paris?"
"_Monsieur Dodge veut dire, convoi_. Mr. Dodge mean to say, _convoi_"
kindly interposed Mademoiselle Viefville.
"Mr. Dodge is a profound republican, and is an advocate for rotation in
language, as well as in office: I must accuse you of inconstancy, my dear
friend, if I die for it. You certainly do not pronounce your words always
in the same way, and when I had the honour of carrying you out this time
six months, when you were practising the continentals, as you call them,
you gave very different sounds to many of the words I then had the
pleasure and gratification of hearing you use."
"We all improve by travelling, sir, and I make no question that my
knowledge of foreign language is considerably enlarged by practice in the
countries in which they are spoken."
Here the reading of the journal was interrupted by a digression on
language, in which Messrs. Dodge, Monday, Templemore, and Truck were the
principal interlocutors, and during which the pitcher of punch was twice
renewed. We shall not record much of this learned discussion, which was
singularly common-place, though a few of the remarks may be given as a
specimen of the whole.
"I must be permitted to say," replied Mr. Monday to one of Mr. Dodge's
sweeping claims to superiority in favour of his own nation, "that I think
it quite extraordinary an Englishman should be obliged to go out of his
own country in order to hear his own language spoken in purity; and as one
who has seen your people, Mr. Dodge, I will venture to affirm that nowhere
is English better spoken than in Lancashire. Sir George, I drink
"More patriotic than just, Mr. Monday; every body allows that the American
of the eastern states speaks the best English in the world, and I think
either of these gentlemen will concede that."
"Under the penalty of being nobody," cried Captain Truck; "for my own
part, I think, if a man wishes to hear the language in perfection, he
ought to pass a week or ten days in the river. I must say, Mr. Dodge, I
object to many of your sounds, particularly that of inyon, which I myself
heard you call onion, no later than yesterday."
"Mr. Monday is a little peculiar in fancying that the best English is to
be met with in Lancashire," observed Sir George Templemore; "for I do
assure you that, in town, we have difficulty in understanding gentlemen
from your part of the kingdom."
This was a hard cut from one in whom Mr. Monday expected to find an ally,
and that gentleman was driven to washing down the discontent it
excited, in punch.
"But all this time we have interrupted the _convoi_, or convoy, captain,"
said Mr. Sharp; "and Mr. Dodge, to say nothing of the mourners, has every
right to complain. I beg that gentleman will proceed with his entertaining
Mr. Dodge hemmed, sipped a little more liquor, blew his nose, and
"'The celebrated cemetery is, indeed, worthy of its high reputation. The
utmost republican simplicity prevails in the interments, ditches being dug
in which the bodies are laid, side by side, without distinction of rank,
and with regard only to the order in which the convoys arrive.' I think
this sentence, gentlemen, will have great success in America, where the
idea of any exclusiveness is quite odious to the majority."
"Well, for my part," said the captain, "I should have no particular
objection to being excluded from such a grave: one would be afraid of
catching the cholera in so promiscuous a company."
Mr. Dodge turned over a few leaves, and gave other extracts.
"'The last six hours have been devoted to a profound investigation of the
fine arts. My first visit was to the _gullyteen;_ after which I passed an
instructive hour or two in the galleries of the Musy.'--"
"Le Musée, mademoiselle."
"--'Where I discovered several very extraordinary things, in the way of
sculpture and painting. I was particularly struck with the manner in which
a plate was portrayed in the celebrated marriage of Cana, which might
very well have been taken for real Delft, and there was one finger on the
hand of a lady that seemed actually fitted to receive and to retain the
"Did you inquire if she were engaged?--Mr. Monday, we will drink her
"'Saint Michael and the Dragon is a _shefdowory_.'--"
"Un chef-d'oeuvre, mademoiselle."
"--' The manner in which the angel holds the dragon with his feet, looking
exactly like a worm trodden on by the foot of a child, is exquisitely
plaintive and interesting. Indeed these touches of nature abound in the
works of the old masters, and I saw several fruit-pieces that I could have
eaten. One really gets an appetite by looking at many things here, and I
no longer wonder that a Raphael, a Titian, a Correggio, a Guide-o.'--"
"Un Guido, mademoiselle."
"Or a Cooley."
"And pray who may he be?" asked Mr. Monday.
"A young genius in Dodgetown, who promises one day to render the name of
an American illustrious. He has painted a new sign for the store, that in
its way is quite equal to the marriage of Cana. 'I have stood with tears
over the despair of a Niobe,'" continuing to read, "'and witnessed the
contortions of the snakes in the Laocoon with a convulsive eagerness to
clutch them, that has made me fancy I could hear them hiss." That
sentence, I think, will be likely to be noticed even in the
New-Old-New-Yorker, one of the very best reviews of our days, gentlemen."
"Take a little more punch, Mr. Dodge," put in the attentive captain; "this
grows affecting, and needs alleviation, as Saunders would say. Mr. Monday,
you will get a bad name for being too sober, if you never empty your
glass. Proceed, in the name of Heaven! Mr. Dodge."
"'In the evening I went to the Grand Opery.'--"
"Au grand Hoppery, mademoiselle," replied John Effingham.
"--'To the _Grand Opery_,'" resumed Mr. Dodge, with emphasis, his eyes
beginning to glisten by this time, for he had often applied to the punch
for inspiration, "'where I listened to music that is altogether inferior
to that which we enjoy in America, especially at the general trainings,
and on the Sabbath. The want of science was conspicuous; and if _this_ be
music, then do I know nothing about it!'"
"A judicious remark!"'exclaimed the captain.--"Mr. Dodge has great merit
as a writer, for he loses no occasion to illustrate his opinions by the
most unanswerable facts. He has acquired a taste for Zip Coon and Long
Tail Blue, and it is no wonder he feels a contempt for your
"'As for the dancing,'" continued the editor of the Active Inquirer, "'it
is my decided impression that nothing can be worse. The movement was more
suited to a funeral than the ball-room, and I affirm, without fear of
contradiction, that there is not an assembly in all America in which a
_cotillion_ would not be danced in one-half the time that one was danced
in the _bally_ to-night.'"
"Dans le quoi?"
"I believe I have not given the real Parisian pronunciation to this word,
which the French call bal-_lay_", continued the reader, with
"Belay, or make all fast, as we say on ship-board. Mr. Dodge, as master,
of this vessel, I beg to return you the united, or as Saunders would say,
the condensed thanks of the passengers, for this information; and next
Saturday we look for a renewal of the pleasure. The ladies are getting to
be sleepy, I perceive, and as Mr. Monday _never_ drinks and the other
gentlemen have finished their punch, we may as well retire, to get ready
for a hard day's work to-morrow."
Captain Truck made this proposal, because he saw that one or two of the
party were _plenum punch_, and that Eve and her companion were becoming
aware of the propriety of retiring. It was also true that he foresaw the
necessity of rest, in order to be ready for the exertions of the morning.
After the party had broken up, which it did very contrary to the wishes of
Messrs. Dodge and Monday, Mademoiselle Viefville passed an hour in the
state-room of Miss Effingham, during which time she made several
supererogatory complaints of the manner in which the editor of the Active
Inquirer had viewed things in Paris, besides asking a good many questions
concerning his occupation and character.
"I am not quite certain, my dear mademoiselle, that I can give you a very
learned description of the animal you think worthy of all these questions,
but, by the aid of Mr. John Effingham's information, and a few words that
have fallen from Mr. Blunt, I believe it ought to be something as
follows:--America once produced a very distinguished philosopher, named
"Comment, ma chère! Tout le monde le connait!"
"--This Monsieur Franklin commenced life as a printer; but living to a
great age, and rising to high employments, he became a philosopher in
morals, as his studies had made him one in physics. Now, America is full
of printers, and most of them fancy themselves Franklins, until time and
failures teach them discretion."
"_Mais_ the world has not seen but _un seul Franklin!_"
"Nor is it likely to see another very soon. In America the young men are
taught, justly enough, that by merit they may rise to the highest
situations; and, always according to Mr. John Effingham, too many of them
fancy that because they are at liberty to turn any high qualities they may
happen to have to account, they are actually fit for anything. Even he
allows this peculiarity of the country does much good, but he maintains
that it also does much harm, by causing pretenders to start up in all
directions. Of this class he describes Mr. Dodge to be. This person,
instead of working at the mechanical part of a press, to which he was
educated, has the ambition to control its intellectual, and thus edits the
"It must be a very useful journal!"
"It answers his purposes, most probably. He is full of provincial
ignorance, and provincial prejudices, you perceive; and, I dare say, he
makes his paper the circulator of all these, in addition to the personal
rancour, envy, and uncharitableness, that usually distinguish a pretension
that mistakes itself for ambition. My cousin Jack affirms that America is
filled with such as he."
"And, Monsieur Effingham?"
"Oh! my dear father is all mildness and charity, you snow, mademoiselle,
and he only looks at the bright side of the picture, for he maintains that
a great deal of good results from the activity and elasticity of such a
state of things. While he confesses to a great deal of downright ignorance
that is paraded as knowledge; to much narrow intolerance that is
offensively prominent in the disguise of principle, and a love of liberty;
and to vulgarity and personalities that wound all taste, and every
sentiment of right, he insists on it that the main result is good."
"In such a case there is need of an umpire. You mentioned the opinion of
Mr. Blunt. Comme ce jeune homme parle bien Français!"
Eve hesitated, and she changed colour slightly, before she answered.
"I am not certain that the opinion of Mr. Blunt ought to be mentioned in
opposition to those of my father and cousin Jack, on such a subject," she
said. "He is very young, and it is, now, quite questionable whether he is
even an American at all."
"Tant mieux, ma chère. He has been much in the country, and it is not the
native that make the best judge, when the stranger has many opportunities
"On this principle, mademoiselle, you are, then, to give up your own
judgment about France, on all those points in which I have the misfortune
to differ from you," said Eve, laughing.
"_Pas tout à fait_," returned the governess goodhumouredly. "Age and
experience must pass _pour quelque chose. Et Monsieur Blunt_?--"
"Monsieur Blunt leans nearer to the side of cousin Jack, I fear, than to
that of my dear, dear father. He says men of Mr. Dodge's character,
propensities, malignancy, intolerance, ignorance, vulgarity, and peculiar
vices abound in and about the American press. He even insists that they do
an incalculable amount of harm, by influencing those who have no better
sources of information; by setting up low jealousies and envy in the place
of principles and the right; by substituting--I use his own words,
mademoiselle," said Eve, blushing with the consciousness of the fidelity
of her memory--"by substituting uninstructed provincial notions for true
taste and liberality; by confounding the real principles of liberty with
personal envies, and the jealousies of station; and by losing sight
entirely of their duties to the public, in the effort to advance their own
interests. He says that the government is in truth a _press-ocracy_, and a
press-ocracy, too, that has not the redeeming merit of either principles,
tastes, talents or knowledge."
"Ce Monsieur Blunt has been very explicit, and _suffisamment eloquent_,"
returned Mademoiselle Viefville, gravely; for the prudent governess did
not fail to observe that Eve used language so very different from that
which was habitual to her, as to make her suspect she quoted literally.
For the first time the suspicion was painfully awakened, that it was her
duty to be more vigilant in relation to the intercourse between her charge
and the two agreeable young men whom accident had given them as
fellow-passengers. After a short but musing pause, she again adverted to
the subject of their previous conversation.
"Ce Monsieur Dodge, est il ridicule!"
"On that point at least, my dear mademoiselle, there can be no mistake.
And yet cousin Jack insists that this stuff will be given to his readers,
as views of Europe worthy of their attention."
"Ce conte du roi!--mais, c'est trop fort!"
"With the coat laced at the seams, and the cocked hat!"
"Et l'honorable Louis Philippe d'Orleans!"
"Orleans, mademoiselle; d'Orleans would be anti-republican."
Then the two ladies sat looking at each other a few moments in silence,
when both, although of a proper _retenue_ of manner in general, burst into
a hearty and long-continued fit of laughter. Indeed, so long did Eve, in
the buoyancy of her young spirits, and her keen perception of the
ludicrous, indulge herself, that her fair hair fell about her rosy cheeks,
and her bright eyes fairly danced with delight.
And there he went ashore without delay,
Having no custom-house or quarantine,--
To ask him awkward questions on the way
About the time and place where he had been.
Captain Truck was in a sound sleep as soon as his head touched the pillow.
With the exception of the ladies, the others soon followed his example;
and as the people were excessively wearied, and the night was so tranquil,
ere long only a single pair of eyes were open on deck: those of the man at
the wheel. The wind died away, and even this worthy was not innocent of
nodding at his post.
Under such circumstances, it will occasion no great surprise that the
cabin was aroused next morning with the sudden and startling information
that the land was close aboard the ship. Every one hurried on deck, where,
sure enough, the dreaded coast of Africa was seen, with a palpable
distinctness, within two miles of the vessel. It presented a long broken
line of sand-hills, unrelieved by a tree, or by so few as almost to merit
this description, and with a hazy background of remote mountains to the
north-east. The margin of the actual coast nearest to the ship was
indented with bays; and even rocks appeared in places; but the general
character of the scene was that of a fierce and burning sterility. On this
picture of desolation all stood gazing in awe and admiration for some
minutes, as the day gradually brightened, until a cry arose from forward,
of "a ship!"
"Whereaway?" sternly demanded Captain Truck; for the sudden and unexpected
appearance of this dangerous coast had awakened all that was forbidding
and severe in the temperament of the old master; "whereaway, sir?"
"On the larboard quarter, sir, and at anchor."
"She is ashore!" exclaimed half-a-dozen voices at the same instant, just
as the words came from the last speaker. The glass soon settled this
important point. At the distance of about a league astern of them were,
indeed, to be seen the spars of a ship, with the hull looming on the
sands, in a way to leave no doubt of her being a wreck. It was the first
impression of all, that this, at last, was the Foam; but Captain Truck
soon announced the contrary.
"It is a Swede, or a Dane," he said, "by his rig and his model. A stout,
solid, compact sea-boat, that is high and dry on the sands, looking as if
he had been built there. He does not appear even to have bilged, and most
of his sails, and all of his yards, are in their places. Not a living soul
is to be seen about her! Ha! there are signs of tents made of sails on
shore, and broken bales of goods! Her people have been seized and carried
into the desert, as usual, and this is a fearful hint that we must keep
the Montauk off the bottom. Turn-to the people, Mr. Leach, and get up your
sheers that we may step our jury-masts at once; the smallest breeze on the
land would drive us ashore, without any after-sail."
While the mates and the crew set about completing the work they had
prepared the previous day, Captain Truck and his passengers passed the
time in ascertaining all they could concerning the wreck, and the reasons
of their being themselves in a position so very different from what they
had previously believed.
As respects the first, little more could be ascertained; she lay
absolutely high and dry on a hard sandy beach, where she had probably been
cast during the late gale, and sufficient signs were made out by the
captain, to prove to him that she had been partly plundered. More than
this could not be discovered at that distance, and the work of the Montauk
was too urgent to send a boat manned with her own people to examine. Mr.
Blunt, Mr. Sharp, Mr. Monday, and the servants of the two former, however,
volunteering to pull the cutter, it was finally decided to look more
closely into the facts, Captain Truck himself taking charge of the
expedition.--While the latter is getting ready, a word of explanation will
suffice to tell the reader the reason why the Montauk had fallen so much
The ship being so near the coast, it became now very obvious she was
driven by a current that set along the land, but which, it was probable,
had set towards it more in the offing. The imperceptible drift between the
observation of the previous day and the discovery of the coast, had
sufficed to carry the vessel a great distance; and to this simple cause,
coupled perhaps with some neglect in the steerage during the past night,
was her present situation to be solely attributed. Just at this moment,
the little air there was came from the land, and by keeping her head
off-shore, Captain Truck entertained no doubt of his being able to escape
the calamity that had befallen the other ship in the fury of the gale. A
wreck is always a matter of so much interest with mariners, therefore,
that taking all these things into view, he had come to the determination
we have mentioned, of examining into the history of the one in sight, so
far as circumstances permitted.
The Montauk carried three boats; the launch, a large, safe, and
well-constructed craft, which stood in the usual chucks between the
foremast and mainmast; a jolly-boat, and a cutter. It was next to
impossible to get the first into the water, deprived as the ship was of
its mainmast; but the other hanging at davits, one on each quarter, were
easily lowered. The packets seldom carry any arms beyond a light gun to
fire signals with, the pistols of the master, and perhaps a fowling-piece
or two. Luckily the passengers were better provided: all the gentlemen had
pistols, Mr. Monday and Mr. Dodge excepted, if indeed they properly
belonged to this category, as Captain Truck would say, and most of them
had also fowling-pieces. Although a careful examination of the coast with
the glasses offered no signs of the presence of any danger from enemies,
these arms were carefully collected, loaded, and deposited in the boats,
in order to be prepared for the worst. Provisions and water were also
provided, and the party were about to proceed.
Captain Truck and one or two of the adventurers were still on the deck,
when Eve, with that strange love of excitement and adventure that often
visits the most delicate spirits, expressed an idle regret that she could
not make one in the expedition.
"There is something so strange and wild in landing on an African desert,"
she said; "and I think a near view of the wreck would repay us,
Mademoiselle, for the hazard."
The young men hesitated between their desire to have such a companion, and
their doubts of the prudence of the step; but Captain Truck declared there
could be no risk, and Mr. Effingham consenting, the whole plan was altered
so as to include the ladies; for there was so much pleasure in varying the
monotony of a calm, and escaping the confinement of ship, that everybody
entered into the new arrangement with zeal and spirit.
A single whip was rigged on the fore-yard, a chair was slung, and in ten
minutes both ladies were floating on the ocean in the cutter. This boat
pulled six oars, which were manned by the servants of the two Messrs.
Effinghams, Mr. Blunt, and Mr. Sharp, together with the two latter
gentlemen in person. Mr. Effingham steered. Captain Truck had the
jolly-boat, of which he pulled an oar himself, aided by Saunders, Mr.
Monday, and Sir George Templemore; the mates and the regular crew being
actively engaged in rigging their jury-mast. Mr. Dodge declined being of
the party, feeding himself with the hope that the present would be a
favourable occasion to peep into the state-rooms, to run his eye over
forgotten letters and papers, and otherwise to increase the general stock
of information of the editor of the Active Inquirer.
"Look to your chains, and see all clear for a run of the anchors, Mr.
Leach, should you set within a mile of the shore," called out the captain,
as they pulled off from the vessel's side. "The ship is drifting along the
land, but the wind you have will hardly do more than meet the send of the
sea, which is on shore: should any thing go wrong show an ensign at the
head of the jury-stick forward."
The mate waved his hand, and the adventurers passed without the sound of
the voice. It was a strange sensation to most of those in the boats, to
find themselves in their present situation. Eve and Mademoiselle
Viefville, in particular, could scarcely credit their senses, when they
found the egg-shells that held them heaving and setting like bubbles on
those long sluggish swells, which had seemed of so little consequence
while in the ship, but which now resembled the heavy respirations of a
leviathan. The boats, indeed, though always gliding onward, impelled by
the oars, appeared at moments to be sent helplessly back and forth, like
playthings of the mighty deep, and it was some minutes before either
obtained a sufficient sense of security to enjoy her situation. As they
receded fast from the Montauk, too, their situation seemed still more
critical; and with all her sex's love of excitement, Eve heartily repented
of her undertaking before they had gone a mile. The gentlemen, however,
were all in good spirits, and as the boats kept near each other, Captain
Truck enlivening their way with his peculiar wit, and Mr. Effingham, who
was influenced by a motive of humanity in consenting to come, being
earnest and interested, Eve soon began to entertain other ideas.
As they drew near the end of their little expedition, entirely new
feelings got the mastery of the whole party. The solitary and gloomy
grandeur of the coasts, the sublime sterility,--for even naked sands may
become sublime by their vastness,--the heavy moanings of the ocean on the
beach, and the entire spectacle of the solitude, blended as it was with
the associations of Africa, time, and the changes of history, united to
produce sensations of a pleasing melancholy. The spectacle of the ship,
bringing with it the images of European civilization, as it lay helpless
and deserted on the sands, too, heightened all.
This vessel, beyond a question, had been driven up on a sea during the
late gale, at a point where the water was of sufficient depth to float
her, until within a few yards of the very spot where she now lay; Captain
Truck giving the following probable history of the affair:
"On all sandy coasts," he said, "the return waves that are cast on the
beach form a bar, by washing back with them a portion of the particles.
This bar is usually within thirty or forty fathoms of the shore, and there
is frequently sufficient water within it to float a ship. As this bar,
however, prevents the return of all the water, on what is called the
under-tow, narrow channels make from point to point, through which this
excess of the element escapes. These channels are known by the appearance
of the water over them, the seas breaking less at those particular places
than in the spots where the bottom lies nearer to the surface, and all
experienced mariners are aware of the fact. No doubt, the unfortunate
master of this ship, finding himself reduced to the necessity of running
ashore to save the lives of his crew, has chosen such a place, and has
consequently forced his vessel up to a spot where she has remained dry as
soon as the sea fell. So worthy a fellow deserved a better fate; for this
wreck is not three days old, and yet no signs are to be seen of any who
were in that stout ship."
These remarks were made as the crew of the two boats lay on their oars, at
a short distance without the line on the water, where the breaking of the
sea pointed out the position of the bar. The channel, also, was plainly
visible directly astern of the ship, the sea merely rising and falling in
it without combing. A short distance to the southward, a few bold black
rocks thrust themselves forward, and formed a sort of bay, in which it was
practicable to land without risk; for they had come on the coast in a
region where the monotony of the sands, as it appeared when close in, was
little relieved by the presence of anything else.
"If you will keep the cutter just without the breakers, Mr. Effingham,"
Captain Truck continued, after standing up a while and examining the
shore, "I will pull into the channel, and land in yonder bay. If you feel
disposed to follow, you may do so by giving the tiller to Mr. Blunt, on
receiving a signal to that effect from me. Be steady, gentlemen, at your
oars, and look well to the arms on landing, for we are in a knavish part
of the world. Should any of the monkeys or ouran-outangs claim kindred
with Mr. Saunders, we may find it no easy matter to persuade them to leave
us the pleasure of his society."
The captain made a sign, and the jolly-boat entered the channel. Inclining
south, it was seen rising and falling just within the breakers, and then
it was hid by the rocks. In another minute, Mr. Truck, followed by all but
Mr. Monday, who stood sentinel at the boat, was on the rocks, making his
way towards the wreck. On reaching the latter, he ascended swiftly even to
the main cross-trees. Here a long examination of the plain, beyond the
bank that hid it from the view of all beneath, succeeded, and then the
signal to come on was made to those who were still in the boat.
"Shall we venture?" cried Paul Blunt, soliciting an assent by the very
manner in which he put the question.
"What say you, dear father?"
"I hope we may not yet be too late to succour some Christian in distress,
my child. Take the tiller, Mr. Blunt, and in Heaven's good name, and for
humanity's sake, let us proceed!"
The boat advanced, Paul Blunt standing erect to steer, his ardour to
proceed corrected by apprehensions on account of her precious freight.
There was an instant when the ladies trembled, for it seemed as if the
light boat was about to be cast upon the shore, like the froth of the sea
that shot past them; but the steady hand of him who steered averted the
danger, and in another minute they were floating at the side of the
jolly-boat. The ladies got ashore without much difficulty, and stood on
the summit of the rocks.
"Nous voici donc, en Afrique," exclaimed Mademoiselle Viefville, with that
sensation of singularity that comes over all when they first find
themselves in situations of extraordinary novelty.
"The wreck--the wreck," murmured Eve; "let us go to the wreck. There may
be yet a hope of saving some wretched sufferer."
Toward the wreck they all proceeded, after leaving two of the servants to
relieve Mr. Monday on his watch.
It was an impressive thing to stand at the side of a ship on the sands of
Africa, a scene in which the desolation of an abandoned vessel was
heightened by the desolation of a desert. The position of the vessel,
which stood nearly erect, imbedded in the sands, rendered it less
difficult than might be supposed for the ladies to ascend to, and to walk
her decks, a rude staging having been made already to facilitate the
passage. Here the scene became thrice exciting, for it was the very type
of a hastily deserted and cherished dwelling.
Before Eve and Mademoiselle Viefville gained the deck, the other party had
ascertained that no living soul remained. The trunks, chests, furniture,
and other appliances of the cabin, had been rummaged, and many boxes had
been raised from the hold, and plundered, a part of their contents still
lying scattered on the decks. The ship, however, had been lightly
freighted, and the bulk of her cargo, which was salt, was apparently
untouched. A Danish ensign was found bent to the halyards, a proof that
Captain Truck's original conjecture concerning the character of the vessel
was accurate, her name, too, was ascertained to be the Carrier, as
translated into English, and she belonged to Copenhagen. More than this it
was not easy to ascertain. No papers were found, and her cargo, or as much
of it as remained, was so mixed, and miscellaneous, as Saunders called it,
that no plausible guess could be given as to the port where it had been
taken in, if indeed it had all been received on board at the same place.
Several of the light sails had evidently been carried off, but all the
heavy canvas was left on the yards which remained in their places. The
vessel was large, exceedingly strong, as was proved by the fact that she
had not bilged in beaching, and apparently well found. Nothing was wanting
to launch her into the ocean but machinery and force, and a crew to sail
her, when she might have proceeded on her voyage as if nothing unusual had
occurred. But such a restoration was hopeless, and this admirable machine,
like a man cut off in his youth and vigour, had been cast upon the shores
of this inhospitable region, to moulder where it lay, unless broken up for
the wood and iron by the wanderers of the desert.
There was no object more likely to awaken melancholy ideas in a mind
resembling that of Captain Truck's, than a spectacle of this nature. A
fine ship, complete in nearly all her parts, virtually uninjured, and yet
beyond the chance of further usefulness, in his eyes was a picture of the
most cruel loss. He cared less for the money it had cost than for the
qualities and properties that were thus destroyed.
He examined the bottom, which he pronounced capital for stowing, and
excellent as that of a sea-boat; he admired the fastenings: applied his
knife to try the quality of the wood, and pronounced the Norway pine of
the spars to be almost equal to anything that could be found in our own
southern woods. The rigging, too, he regarded as one loves to linger over
the regretted qualities of a deceased friend.
The tracks of camels and horses were abundant on the sand around the
ship, and especially at the bottom of the rude staging by which the party
had ascended, and which had evidently been hastily made in order to carry
articles from the vessel to the backs of the animals that were to bear
them into the desert. The foot-prints of men were also to be seen, and
there was a startling and mournful certainty in distinguishing the marks
of shoes, as well as those of the naked foot.
Judging from all these signs, Captain Truck was of opinion the wreck must
have taken place but two or three days before, and that the plunderers had
not left the spot many hours.
"They probably went off with what they could carry at sunset last evening,
and there can be no doubt that before many days, they, or others in their
places, will be back again. God protect the poor fellows who have fallen
into this miserable bondage! What an occasion would there now be to rescue
one of them, should he happen to be hid near this spot!"
The idea seized the whole party at once, and all eagerly turned to examine
the high bank, which rose nearly to the summit of the masts, in the hope
of discovering some concealed fugitive. The gentlemen went below again,
and Mr. Sharp and Mr. Blunt called out in German, and English, and French,
to invite any one who might be secreted to come forth. No sound answered
these friendly calls. Again Captain Truck went aloft to look into the
interior, but he beheld nothing more than the broad and unpeopled desert.
A place where the camels had descended to the beach was at no great
distance, and thither most of the party proceeded, mounting to the level
of the plain beyond. In this little expedition, Paul Blunt led the
advance, and as he rose over the brow of the bank, he cocked both barrels
of his fowling-piece, uncertain what might be encountered. They found,
however, a silent waste, almost without vegetation, and nearly as
trackless as the ocean that lay behind them. At the distance of a hundred
rods, an object was just discernible, lying on the plain half-buried in
sand, and thither the young men expressed a wish to go, first calling to
those in the ship to send a man aloft to give the alarm, in the event of
any party of the Mussulmans being seen. Mr. Effingham, too, on being told
their intention, had the precaution to cause Eve and Mademoiselle
Viefville to get into the cutter, which he manned, and caused to pull out
over the bar, where she lay waiting the issue.
A camel's path, of which the tracks were nearly obliterated by the sands,
led to the object; and after toiling along it, the adventurers soon
reached the desired spot. It proved to be the body of a man who had died
by violence. His dress and person denoted that of a passenger rather than
that of a seaman, and he had evidently been dead but a very few hours,
probably not twelve. The cut of a sabre had cleft his skull. Agreeing not
to acquaint the ladies with this horrible discovery, the body was hastily
covered with the sand, the pockets of the dead man having been first
examined; for, contrary to usage, his person had not been stripped. A
letter was found, written by a wife to her husband, and nothing more. It
was in German, and its expressions and contents, though simple, were
endearing and natural. It spoke of the traveller's return; for she who
wrote it little thought of the miserable fate that awaited her beloved in
this remote desert.
As nothing else was visible, the party returned hastily to the beach,
where they found that Captain Truck had ended his investigation, and was
impatient to return. In the interest of the scene the Montauk had
disappeared behind a headland, towards which she had been drifting when
they left her. Her absence created a general sense of loneliness, and the
whole party hastened into the jolly-boat, as if fearful of being left.
When without the bar again, the cutter took in her proper crew, and the
boats pulled away, leaving the Dane standing on the beach in his solitary
desolation--a monument of his own disaster.
As they got further from the land the Montauk came in sight again, and
Captain Truck announced the agreeable intelligence that the jury mainmast
was up, and that the ship had after-sail set, diminutive and defective as
it might be. Instead of heading to the southward, however, as heretofore,
Mr. Leach was apparently endeavouring to get back again to the northward
of the headland that had shut in the ship, or was trying to retrace his
steps. Mr. Truck rightly judged that this was proof his mate disliked the
appearance of the coast astern of him, and that he was anxious to get an
offing. The captain in consequence urged his men to row, and in little
more than an hour the whole party were on the deck of the Montauk again,
and the boats were hanging at the davits.
I boarded the king's ship; now on the beak,
Now in the waist, the deck, in every cabin,
I flam'd amazement.
If Captain Truck distrusted the situation of his own ship when he saw that
the mate had changed her course, he liked it still less after he was on
board, and had an opportunity to form a more correct judgment. The current
had set the vessel not only to the southward, but in-shore, and the send
of the ground-swell was gradually, but inevitably, heaving her in towards
the land. At this point the coast was more broken than at the spot where
the Dane had been wrecked, some signs of trees appearing, and rocks
running off in irregular reefs into the sea. More to the south, these
rocks were seen without the ship, while directly astern they were not half
a mile distant. Still the wind was favourable, though light and baffling,
and Mr. Leach had got up every stitch of canvas that circumstances would
at all allow; the lead, too, had been tried, and the bottom was found to
be a hard sand mixed with rocks, and the depth of the water such as to
admit of anchoring. It was a sign that Captain Truck did not absolutely
despair after ascertaining all these facts, that he caused Mr. Saunders to
be summoned; for as yet, none of those who had been in the boats had
"Step this way, Mr. Steward," said the captain; "and report the state of
the coppers. You were rummaging, as usual, among the lockers of yonder
unhappy Dane, and I desire to know what discoveries you have made! You
will please to recollect, that on all public expeditions of this nature,
there must be no peculation or private journal kept. Did you see any
"Sir, I should deem this ship disgraced by the admission into her pantry
of such an article, sir. We have tongues and sounds in plenty, Captain
Truck, and no gentleman that has such diet, need ambition a stock-fish!"
"I am not quite of your way of thinking; but the earth is not made of
stock-fish. Did you happen to fall in with any butter?"
"Some, sir, that is scarcely fit to slush a mast with, and I do think, one
of the most atrocious cheeses, sir, it was ever my bad fortune to meet
with. I do not wonder the Africans left the wreck."
"You followed their example, of course, Mr. Saunders, and left the
"I followed my own judgment, sir, for I would not stay in a ship with such
a cheese, Captain Truck, sir, even to have the honour of serving under so
great a commander as yourself. I think it no wonder that vessel was
wrecked! Even the sharks would abandon her. The very thoughts of her
impurities, sir, make me feel unsettled in the stomach."
The captain nodded his head in approbation of this sentiment, called for a
coal, and then ordered breakfast. The meal was silent, thoughtful, and
even sad; every one was thinking of the poor Danes and their sad fate,
while they who had been on the plain had the additional subject of the
murdered man for their contemplation.
"Is it possible to do nothing to redeem these poor people, father, from
captivity?" Eve at length demanded.
"I have been thinking of this, my child; but I see no other method than to
acquaint their government of their situation."
"Might we not contribute something from our own means to that effect?
Money, I fancy, is the chief thing necessary."
The gentlemen looked at each other in approbation, though a reluctance to
be the first to speak kept most of them silent.