Part 5 out of 10
"If a hundred pounds, Miss Effingham, will be useful," Sir George
Templemore said, after the pause had continued an awkward minute, laying a
banknote of that amount on the table, "and you will honour us by becoming
the keeper of the redemption money, I have great pleasure in making
This was handsomely said, and as Captain Truck afterwards declared,
handsomely done too, though it was a little abrupt, and caused Eve to
hesitate and redden.
"I shall accept your gift, sir," she said; "and with your permission will
transfer it to Mr. Effingham, who will better know what use to put it to,
in order to effect our benevolent purpose. I think I can answer for as
much more from himself."
"You may, with certainty, my dear--and twice as much, if necessary. John,
this is a proper occasion for your interference."
"Put me down at what you please," said John Effingham, whose charities in
a pecuniary sense were as unlimited, as in feeling they were apparently
restrained. "One hundred or one thousand, to rescue that poor crew!"
"I believe, sir, we must all follow so good an example," Mr. Sharp
observed; "and I sincerely hope that this scheme will not prove useless. I
think it may be effected by means of some of the public agents at
Mr. Dodge raised many objections, for it really exceeded his means to give
so largely, and his character was formed in a school too envious and
jealous to confess an inferiority on a point even as worthless as that of
money. Indeed, he had so long been accustomed to maintain that "one man
was as good as another," in opposition to his senses, that, like most of
those who belong to this impracticable school, he had tacitly admitted in
his own mind, the general and vulgar ascendency of mere wealth; and, quite
as a matter of course, he was averse to confessing his own inferiority on
a point that he had made to be all in all, while loudest in declaiming
against any inferiority whatever. He walked out of the cabin, therefore,
with strong heart-burnings and jealousies, because others had presumed to
give that which it was not really in his power to bestow.
On the other hand, both Mademoiselle Viefville and Mr. Monday manifested
the superiority of the opinions in which they had been trained. The first
quietly handed a Napoleon to Mr. Effingham, who took it with as much
attention and politeness as he received any of the larger contributions;
while the latter produced a five-pound note, with a hearty good-will that
redeemed the sin of many a glass of punch in the eyes of his companions.
Eve did not dare to look towards Paul Blunt, while this collection was
making; but she felt regret that he did not join in it. He was silent and
thoughtful, and even seemed pained, and she wondered if it were possible
that one, who certainly lived in a style to prove that his income was
large, could be so thoughtless as to have deprived himself of the means of
doing that which he so evidently desired to do. But most of the company
was too well-bred to permit the matter to become the subject of
conversation, and they soon rose from table in a body. The mind of Eve,
however, was greatly relieved when her father told her that the young man
had put a hundred sovereigns in gold into his hands as soon as possible,
and that he had seconded this offering with another, of embarking for
Mogadore in person, should they get into the Cape de Verds, or the
Canaries, with a view of carrying out the charitable plan with the
"He is a noble-hearted young man," said the pleased father, as he
communicated this fact to his daughter and cousin; "and I shall not object
to the plan."
"If he offer to quit this ship one minute sooner than is necessary, he
does, indeed, deserve a statue of gold," said John Effingham; "for it has
all that can attract a young man like him, and all too that can awaken his
"Cousin Jack!" exclaimed Eve reproachfully, quite thrown off her guard by
the abruptness and plainness of this language.
The quiet smile of Mr. Effingham proved that he understood both, but he
made no remark. Eve instantly recovered her spirits, and angry at herself
for the girlish exclamation that had escaped her, she turned on her
assailant. "I do not know that I ought to be seen in an aside with Mr.
John Effingham," she said, "even when it is sanctioned with the presence
of my own father."
"And may I ask why so much sudden reserve, my offended beauty?"
"Merely that the report is already active, concerning the delicate
relation in which we stand towards each other."
John Effingham looked surprised, but he suppressed his curiosity from a
long habit of affecting an indifference he did not always feel. The father
was less dignified, for he quietly demanded an explanation.
"It would seem," returned Eve, assuming a solemnity suited to a matter of
interest, "that our secret is discovered. While we were indulging our
curiosity about this unfortunate ship, Mr. Dodge was gratifying the
laudable industry of the Active Inquirer, by prying into our state-rooms."
"This meanness is impossible!" exclaimed Mr. Effingham.
"Nay," said John, "no meanness is impossible to a demagogue,--a pretender
to things of which he has even no just conception,--a man who lives to
envy and traduce; in a word, a _quasi_ gentleman. Let us hear what Eve
has to say."
"My information is from Ann Sidley, who saw him in the act. Now the kind
letter you wrote my father, cousin Jack, just before we left London, and
which you wrote because you would not trust that honest tongue of yours to
speak the feelings of that honest heart, is the subject of my daily study;
not on account of its promises, you will believe me, but on account of the
strong affection it displays to a girl who is not worthy of one half you
feel and do for her."
"Well, let it then be pshaw! I had read that letter this very morning, and
carelessly left it on my table. This letter Mr. Dodge, in his undying
desire to lay everything before the public, as becomes his high vocation,
and as in duty bound, has read; and misconstruing some of the phrases, as
will sometimes happen to a zealous circulator of news, he has drawn the
conclusion that I am to be made a happy woman as soon as we reach America,
by being converted from Miss Eve Effingham into Mrs. John Effingham."
"Impossible! No man can be such a fool, or quite so great a miscreant!"
"I should rather think, my child," added the milder father, "that
injustice has been done Mr. Dodge. No person, in the least approximating
to the station of a gentleman, could even think of an act so base as this
"Oh! if this be all your objection to the tale," observed the cousin, "I
am ready to swear to its truth. But Eve has caught a little of Captain
Truck's spirit, of mystifying, and is determined to make a character by a
bold stroke in the beginning. She is clever, and in time may rise to be
"Thank you for the compliment, cousin Jack, which, however, I am forced to
disclaim, as I never was more serious in my life. That the letter was
read, Nanny, who is truth itself, affirms she saw. That Mr. Dodge has
since been industriously circulating the report of my great good fortune,
she has heard from the mate, who had it from the highest source of
information direct, and that such a man would be likely to come to such a
conclusion, you have only to recall the terms of the letter yourself,
"There is nothing in my letter to justify any notion so silly."
"An Active Inquirer might make discoveries you little dream of, dear
cousin Jack. You speak of its being time to cease roving, of settling
yourself at last, of never parting, and, prodigal as you are, of making
Eve the future mistress of your fortune. Now to all this, recreant,
confess, or I shall never again put faith in man."
John Effingham made no answer, but the father warmly expressed his
indignation, that any man of the smallest pretensions to be admitted among
gentlemen, should be guilty of an act so base.
"We can hardly tolerate his presence. John, and it is almost a matter of
conscience to send him to Coventry."
"If you entertain such notions of decorum, your wisest way, Edward, will
be to return to the place whence you have come; for, trust me, you will
find scores of such gentlemen where you are going!"
"I shall not allow you to persuade me I know my own country so little.
Conduct like this will stamp a man with disgrace in America as well as
"Conduct like this would, but it will no longer. The pell-mell that rages
has brought honourable men into a sad minority, and even Mr. Dodge will
tell you the majority must rule. Were he to publish my letter, a large
portion of his readers would fancy he was merely asserting the liberty of
the press. Heavens save us! You have been dreaming abroad, Ned Effingham,
while your country has retrograded, in all that is respectable and good, a
century in a dozen years!"
As this was the usual language of John Effingham, neither of his listeners
thought much of it, though Mr. Effingham more decidedly expressed an
intention to cut off even the slight communication with the offender, he
had permitted himself to keep up, since they had been on board.
"Think better of it, dear father," said Eve; "for such a man is scarcely
worthy of even your resentment. He is too much your inferior in
principles, manners, character, station, and everything else, to render
him of so much account; and then, were we to clear up this masquerade into
which the chances of a ship have thrown us, we might have our scruples
concerning others, as well as concerning this wolf in sheep's clothing."
"Say rather an ass, shaved and painted to resemble a zebra," muttered
John. "The fellow has no property as respectable as the basest virtue of
"He has at least rapacity."
"And can howl in a pack. This much, then, I will concede to you: but I
agree with Eve, we must either punish him affirmatively, by pulling his
ears, or treat him with contempt, which is always negative or silent. I
wish he had entered the state-room of that fine young fellow, Paul Blunt,
who is of an age and a spirit to give him a lesson that might make a
paragraph for his Active Inquirer, if not a scissors' extract of himself."
Eve knew that the offender had been there too, but she had too much
prudence to betray him.
"This will only so much the more oblige him," she said, laughingly; "for
Mr. Blunt, in speaking of the editor of the Active Inquirer, said that he
had the failing to believe that this earth, and all it contained, was
created merely to furnish materials for newspaper paragraphs."
The gentlemen laughed with the amused Eve, and Mr. Effingham remarked,
that "there did seem to be men so perfectly selfish, so much devoted to
their own interests, and so little sensible of the rights and feelings of
others, as to manifest a desire to render the press superior to all other
power; not," he concluded, "in the way of argument, or as an agent of
reason, but as a master, coarse, corrupt, tyrannical and vile; the
instrument of selfishness, instead of the right, and when not employed as
the promoter of personal interests, to be employed as the tool of personal
"Your father will become a convert to my opinions. Miss Effingham," said
John, "and he will not be home a twelve-month before he will make the
discovery that the government is a press-ocracy, and its ministers,
self-chosen and usurpers, composed of those who have the least at stake,
even as to character."
Mr. Effingham shook his head in dissent, but the conversation changed in
consequence of a stir in the ship. The air from the land had freshened,
and even the heavy canvas on which the Montauk was now compelled
principally to rely, had been asleep, as mariners term it, or had blown
out from the mast, where it stood inflated and steady, a proof at sea,
where the water is always in motion, that the breeze is getting to be
fresh. Aided by this power, the ship had overcome the united action of the
heavy ground-swell and of the current, and was stealing out from under the
land, when the air murmured for an instant, as if about to blow still
fresher, and then all the sails flapped. The wind had passed away like a
bird, and a dark line to sea-ward, denoted the approach of the breeze from
the ocean. The stir in the vessel was occasioned by the preparations to
meet this change.
The new wind brought little with it beyond the general danger of blowing
on shore. The breeze was light, and not more than sufficient to force the
vessel through the water, in her present condition, a mile and a half in
the hour, and this too in a line nearly parallel with the coast. Captain
Truck saw therefore at a glance, that he should be compelled to anchor.
Previously, however, to doing this, he had a long talk with his mates, and
a boat was lowered.
The lead was cast, and the bottom was found to be still good, though a
hard sand, which is not the best holding ground.
"A heavy sea would cause the ship to drag," Captain Truck remarked,
"should it come on to blow, and the lines of dark rocks astern of them
would make chips of the Pennsylvania in an hour, were that great ship to
lie on it."
He entered the boat, and pulled along the reefs to examine an inlet that
Mr. Leach reported to have been seen, before he got the ship's head to the
northward. Could an entrance be found at this point, the vessel might
possibly be carried within the reef, and a favourite scheme of the
captain's could be put in force, one to which he now attached the highest
importance. A mile brought the boat up to the inlet, where Mr. Truck found
the following appearances: The general formation of the coast in sight was
that of a slight curvature, within which the ship had so far drifted as to
be materially inside a line drawn from headland to headland. There was,
consequently, little hope of urging a vessel, crippled like the Montauk,
against wind, sea and current, out again into the ocean. For about a
league abreast of the ship the coast was rocky, though low, the rocks
running off from the shore quite a mile in places, and every where fully
half that distance. The formation was irregular, but it had the general
character of a reef, the position of which was marked by breakers, as well
as by the black heads of rocks that here and there showed themselves above
the water. The inlet was narrow, crooked, and so far environed by rocks as
to render it questionable whether there was a passage at all, though the
smoothness of the water had raised hopes to that effect in Mr. Leach.
As soon as captain Truck arrived at the mouth of this passage, he felt so
much encouraged by the appearance of things that he gave the concerted
signal for the ship to veer round and to stand to the southward. This was
losing ground in the way of offing, but tack the Montauk could not with
so little wind, and the captain saw by the drift she had made since he
left her, that promptitude was necessary. The ship might anchor off the
inlet, as well as anywhere else, if reduced to anchoring outside at all,
and then there was always the chance of entering.
As soon as the ship's head was again to the southward, and Captain Truck
felt certain that she was lying along the reef at a reasonably safe
distance, and in as good a direction as he could hope for, he commenced
his examination. Like a discreet seaman he pulled off from the rocks to a
suitable distance, for should an obstacle occur outside, he well knew any
depth of water further in would be useless. The day was so fine, and in
the absence of rivers, the ocean so limpid in that low latitude, that it
was easy to see the bottom at a considerable depth. But to this sense, of
course, the captain did not trust, for he kept the lead going constantly,
although all eyes were also employed in searching for rocks.
The first cast of the lead was in five fathoms, and these soundings were
held nearly up to the inlet, where the lead struck a rock in three fathoms
and a half. At this point, then, a more careful examination was made, but
three and a half was the shallowest cast. As the Montauk drew nearly a
fathom less than this, the cautious old master proceeded closer in.
Directly in the mouth of the inlet was a large flat rock, that rose nearly
to the surface of the sea, and which, when the tide was low, was probably
bare. This rock Captain Truck at first believed would defeat his hopes of
success, which by this time were strong; but a closer examination showed
him that on one side of it was a narrow passage, just wide enough to
admit a ship.
From this spot the channel became crooked, but it was sufficiently marked
by the ripple on the reef; and after a careful investigation, he found it
was possible to carry three fathoms quite within the reef, where a large
space existed that was gradually filling up with sand, but which was
nearly all covered with water when the tide was in, as was now the case,
and which had channels, as usual, between the banks. Following one of
these channels a quarter of a mile, he found a basin of four fathoms of
water, large enough to take a ship in, and, fortunately, it was in close
proximity to a portion of the reef that was always bare, when a heavy sea
was not beating over it. Here he dropped a buoy, for he had come provided
with several fragments of spars for this purpose; and, on his return, the
channel was similarly marked off, at all the critical points. On the flat
rock, in the inlet, one of the men was left, standing up to his waist
in-the water, it being certain that the tide was failing.
The boat now returned to the ship, which it met at the distance of half a
mile from the inlet. The current setting southwardly, her progress had
been more rapid than when heading north, and her drift had been less
towards the land. Still there was so little wind, so steady a
ground-swell, and it was possible to carry so little after-sail, that
great doubts were entertained of being able to weather the rocks
sufficiently to turn into the inlet. Twenty times in the next half hour
was the order to let go the anchor, on the point of being given, as the
wind baffled, and as often was it countermanded, to take advantage of its
reviving. These were feverish moments, for the ship was now so near the
reef as to render her situation very insecure in the event of the wind's
rising, or of a sea's getting up, the sand of the bottom being too hard to
make good holding-ground. Still, as there was a possibility, in the
present state of the weather, of kedging the ship off a mile into the
offing, if necessary, Captain Truck stood on with a boldness he might not
otherwise have felt. The anchor hung suspended by a single turn of the
stopper, ready to drop at a signal, and Mr. Truck stood between the
knight-heads, watching the slow progress of the vessel, and accurately
noticing every foot of leeward set she made, as compared with the rocks.
All this time the poor fellow stood in the water, awaiting the arrival of
his friends, who, in their turn, were anxiously watching his features, as
they gradually grew more distinct.
"I see his eyes," cried the captain cheerily; "take a drag at the
bowlines, and let her head up as much as she will, Mr. Leach, and never
mind those sham topsails Take them in at once, sir; they do us, now, more
harm than good."
The clewline blocks rattled, and the top-gallant sails, which were made
to do the duty of top-sails, but which would hardly spread to the lower
yards, so as to set on a wind, came rapidly in. Five minutes of intense
doubt followed, when the captain gave the animating order to--"Man the
main-clew garnets, boys, and stand by to make a run of it!"
This was understood to be a sign that the ship was far enough to windward,
and the command to "in mainsail," which soon succeeded, was received
with a shout.
"Hard up with the helm, and stand by to lay the fore-yard square," cried
Captain Truck, rubbing his hands. "Look that both bowers are clear for a
run; and you, Toast, bring me the brightest coal in the galley."
The movements of the Montauk were necessarily slow; but she obeyed her
helm, and fell off until her bows pointed in towards the sailor in the
water. This fine fellow, the moment he saw the ship approaching, waded to
the verge of the rock, where it went off perpendicularly to the bottom,
and waved to them to come on without fear.
"Come within ten feet of me," he shouted. "There is nothing to spare on
the other side."
As the captain was prepared for this, the ship was steered accordingly,
and as she hove slowly past on the rising and falling water, a rope was
thrown to the man, who was hauled on board.
"Port!" cried the captain, as soon as the rock was passed; "port your
helm, sir, and stand for the first buoy."
In this manner the Montauk drove slowly but steadily on, until she had
reached the basin, where one anchor was let go almost as soon as she
entered. The chain was paid out until the vessel was forced over to some
distance, and then the other bower was dropped. The foresail was hauled
up and handed, and chain was given the ship, which was pronounced to be
"Now," cried the captain, all his anxiety ceasing with the responsibility,
"I expect to be made a member of the New York Philosophical Society at
least, which is learned company for a man who has never been at college,
for discovering a port on the coast of Africa, which harbour, ladies and
gentlemen, without too much vanity, I hope to be permitted to call Port
Truck. If Mr. Dodge, however should think this too anti-republican, we
will compromise the matter by calling it Port Truck and Dodge; or the town
that no doubt will sooner or later arise on its banks, may be called
Dodgeborough, and I will keep the harbour to myself."
"Should Mr. Dodge consent to this arrangement, he will render himself
liable to the charge of aristocracy," said Mr. Sharp; for as all felt
relieved by finding themselves in a place of security, so all felt
disposed to join in the pleasantry. "I dare say his modesty would prevent
his consenting to the plan."
"Why, gentlemen," returned the subject of these remarks, "I do not know
that we are to refuse honours that are fairly imposed on us by the popular
voice; and the practice of naming towns and counties after distinguished
citizens, is by no means uncommon with us. A few of my own neighbours have
been disposed to honour me in this way already, and my paper is issued
from a hamlet that certainly does bear my own unworthy name. So you
perceive there will be no novelty in the appellation."
"I would have made oath to it," cried the captain, "from your
well-established humility. Is the place as large as London?"
"It can boast of little more than my own office, a tavern, a store, and a
blacksmith's shop, captain, as yet; but Rome was not built in a day."
"Your neighbours, sir, must be people of extraordinary discernment; but
"That is not absolutely decided. At first it was called Dodgetown, but
this did not last long, being thought vulgar and common-place. Six or
eight weeks afterwards, we--"
"We, Mr. Dodge!"
"I mean the people, sir,--I am so much accustomed to connect myself with
the people, that whatever they do, I think I had a hand in."
"And very properly, sir," observed John Effingham, "as probably without
you, there would have been no people at all."
"What may be the population of Dodgetown, sir?" asked the persevering
captain, on this hint.
"At the census of January, it was seventeen; but by the census of March,
there were eighteen. I have made a calculation that shows, if we go on at
this rate, or by arithmetical progression, it will be a hundred in about
ten years, which will be a very respectable population for a country
place. I beg pardon, sir, the people six or eight weeks afterwards,
altered the name to Dodgeborough; but a new family coming in that summer,
a party was got up to change it to Dodge-ville, a name that was immensely
popular, as ville means city in Latin; but it must be owned the people
like change, or rotation in names, as well as in office, and they called
the place Butterfield Hollow, for a whole month, after the new inhabitant,
whose name is Butterfield. He moved away in the fall; and so, after trying
Belindy, (_Anglice_ Belinda,) Nineveh, Grand Cairo, and Pumpkin Valley,
they made me the offer to restore the ancient name, provided some
_addendum_ more noble and proper could be found than town, or ville, or
borough; it is not yet determined what it shall be, but I believe we shall
finally settle down in Dodgeople, or Dodgeopolis."
"For the season; and a very good name it will prove for a short cruise, I
make no question. The Butterfield Hollow _was_ a little like rotation in
office, in truth, sir."
"I didn't like it, captain, so I gave Squire Butterfield to understand,
privately; for as he had a majority with him, I didn't approve of speaking
too strongly on the subject. As soon as I got him out of the tavern,
however, the current set the other way."
"You fairly uncorked him!"
"That I did, and no one ever heard of him, or of his hollow, after his
retreat. There are a few discontented and arrogant innovators, who affect
to call the place by its old name of Morton; but these are the mere
vassals of a man who once owned the patent, and who has now been dead
these forty years. We are not the people to keep his old musty name, or to
honour dry bones."
"Served him right, sir, and like men of spirit! If he wants a place called
after himself, let him live, like other people. A dead man has no occasion
for a name, and there should be a law passed, that when a man slips his
cables, he should bequeath his name to some honest fellow who has a worse
one. It might be well to compel all great men in particular, to leave
their renown to those who cannot get any for themselves."
"I will venture to suggest an improvement on the name, if Mr. Dodge will
permit me," said Mr. Sharp, who had been an amused listener to the short
dialogue. "Dodgeople is a little short, and may be offensive by its
_brusquerie_. By inserting a single letter, it will become Dodge-people;
or, there is the alternative of Dodge-adrianople, which will be a truly
sonorous and republican title. Adrian was an emperor, and even Mr. Dodge
might not disdain the conjunction."
By this time, the editor of the Active Inquirer began to be extremely
elevated--for this was assailing him on his weakest side--and he laughed
and rubbed his hands as if he thought the joke particularly pleasant. This
person had also a peculiarity of judgment that was singularly in
opposition to all his open professions, a peculiarity, however, that
belongs rather to his class than to the individual member of it. Ultra as
a democrat and an American, Mr. Dodge had a sneaking predilection in
favour of foreign opinions. Although practice had made him intimately
acquainted with all the frauds, deceptions, and vileness of the ordinary
arts of paragraph-making, he never failed to believe religiously in the
veracity, judgment, good faith, honesty and talents of anything that was
imported in the form of types. He had been weekly, for years, accusing his
nearest brother of the craft, of lying, and he could not be altogether
ignorant of his own propensity in the same way; but, notwithstanding all
this experience in the secrets of the trade, whatever reached him from a
European journal, he implicitely swallowed whole. One, who knew little of
the man, might have supposed he feigned credulity to answer his own
purposes; but this would be doing injustice to his faith, which was
perfect, being based on that provincial admiration, and provincial
ignorance, that caused the countryman, who went to London for the first
time, to express his astonishment at finding the king a man. As was due to
his colonial origin, his secret awe and reverence for an Englishman was
in proportion to his protestations of love for the people, and his
deference for rank was graduated on a scale suited to the heart-burning
and jealousies he entertained for all whom he felt to be his superiors.
Indeed, one was the cause of the other; for they who really are
indifferent to their own social position, are usually equally indifferent
to that of others, so long as they are not made to feel the difference by
direct assumptions of superiority.
When Mr. Sharp, whom even Mr. Dodge had discovered to be a gentleman,--and
an English gentleman of course,--entered into the trifling of the moment,
therefore, so far from detecting the mystification, the latter was
disposed to believe himself a subject of interest with this person,
against whose exclusiveness and haughty reserve, notwithstanding, he had
been making side-hits ever since the ship had sailed. But the avidity with
which the Americans of Mr. Dodge's temperament are apt to swallow the
crumbs of flattery that fall from the Englishman's table, is matter of
history, and the editor himself was never so happy as when he could lay
hold of a paragraph to republish, in which a few words of comfort were
doled out by the condescending mother to the never-dying faith of the
daughter. So far, therefore, from taking umbrage at what had been said, he
continued the subject long after the captain had gone to his duty, and
with so much perseverance that Paul Blunt, as soon as Mr. Sharp escaped,
took an occasion to compliment that gentleman on his growing intimacy with
the refined and single-minded champion of the people. The other admitted
his indiscretion; and if the affair had no other consequences, it afforded
these two fine young men a moment's merriment, at a time when anxiety had
been fast getting the ascendency over their more cheerful feelings. When
they endeavoured to make Miss Effingham share in the amusement, however,
that young lady heard them with gravity; for the meanness of the act
discovered by Nanny Sidley, had indisposed her to treat the subject of
their comments with the familiarity of even ridicule. Perceiving this,
though unable to account for it, the gentlemen changed the discourse, and
soon became sufficiently grave by Contemplating their own condition.
The situation of the Montauk was now certainly one to excite uneasiness
in those who were little acquainted with the sea, as well as in those who
were. It was very much like that for which Miss Effingham's nurse had
pined, having many rocks and sands in sight, with the land at no great
distance. In order that the reader may understand it more clearly, we
shall describe it with greater minuteness.
To the westward of the ship lay the ocean, broad, smooth, glittering, but,
heaving and setting, with its eternal breathings, which always resemble
the respiration of some huge monster. Between the vessel and this waste of
water, and within three hundred feet of the first, stretched an irregular
line of ripple, dotted here and there with the heads of low naked rocks,
marking the presence and direction of the reef.
This was all that would interpose between the basin and the raging
billows, should another storm occur; but Captain Truck thought this would
suffice so far to break the waves as to render the anchorage sufficiently
secure. Astern of the ship, however, a rounded ridge of sand began to
appear as the tide fell, within forty fathoms of the vessel, and as the
bottom was hard, and difficult to get an anchor into it, there was the
risk of dragging on this bank. We say that the bottom was hard, for the
reader should know that it is not the weight of the anchor that secures
the ship, but the hold its pointed fluke and broad palm get of the ground.
The coast itself was distant less than a mile, and the entire basin within
the reef was fast presenting spits of sand, as the water fell on the ebb.
Still there were many channels, and it would have been possible, for one
who knew their windings, to have sailed a ship several leagues among them,
without passing the inlet; these channels forming a sort of intricate
net-work, in every direction from the vessel.
When Captain Truck had coolly studied all the peculiarities of his
position, he set about the duty of securing his ship, in good earnest. The
two light boats were brought under the bows, and the stream anchor was
lowered, and fastened to a spar that lay across both. This anchor was
carried to the bank astern, and, by dint of sheer strength, was laid over
its summit with a fluke buried to the shank in the hard sand. By means of
a hawser, and a purchase applied to its end, the men on the banks next
roused the chain out, and shackled it to the ring. The bight was hove-in,
and the ship secured astern, so as to prevent a shift of wind, off the
land, from forcing her on the reef. As no sea could come from this
quarter, the single anchor and chain were deemed sufficient for this
purpose. As soon as the boats were at liberty, and before the chain had
been got ashore, two kedges were carried to the reef, and laid among the
rocks, in such a way that their flukes and stocks equally got hold of the
projections. To these kedges lighter chains were secured; and when all the
bights were hove-in, to as equal a strain as possible. Captain Truck
pronounced his ship in readiness to ride out any gale that would be likely
to blow. So far as the winds and waves might affect her, the Montauk was,
in truth, reasonably safe; for on the side where danger was most to be
apprehended, she had two bowers down, and four parts of smaller chain were
attached to the two kedges. Nor had Captain Truck fallen into the common
error of supposing he had so much additional strength in his fastenings,
by simply running the chains through the rings, but he had caused each to
be separately fastened, both in-board and to the kedges, by which means
each length of the chain formed a distinct and independent fastening
So absolute is the sovereignty of a ship, that no one had presumed to
question the master as to his motives for all this extraordinary
precaution, though it was the common impression that he intended to remain
where they were until the wind became favourable, or at least, until all
danger of being thrown upon the coast, from the currents and the
ground-swell, should have ceased, Paul Blunt observed, that he fancied it
was the intention to take advantage of the smooth water within the reef,
to get up a better and a more efficient set of jury-masts. But Captain
Truck soon removed all doubts by letting the truth be known. While on
board the Danish wreck, he had critically examined her spars, sails, and
rigging, and, though adapted for a ship two hundred tons smaller than the
Montauk, he was of opinion they might be fitted to the latter vessel, and
made to answer all the necessary purposes for crossing the ocean,
provided the Mussulmans and the weather would permit the transfer.
"We have smooth water and light airs," he said, when concluding his
explanation, "and the current sets southwardly along this coast; by means
of all our force, hard working, a kind Providence, and our own enterprise,
I hope yet to see the Montauk enter the port of New York, with royals set,
and ready to carry sail on a wind. The seaman who cannot rig his ship with
sticks and ropes and blocks enough, might as well stay ashore, Mr. Dodge,
and publish an hebdomadal. And so, my dear young lady, by looking along
the land, the day after to-morrow, in the northern board here, you may
expect to see a raft booming down upon you that will cheer your heart, and
once more raise the hope of a Christmas dinner in New York, in all lovers
of good fare."
Here, in the sands. Thee I'll rake up--
His mind made up, his intentions announced, and his ship in readiness,
Captain Truck gave his orders to proceed with promptitude and clearness.
The ladies remaining behind, he observed that the two Messrs. Effingham,
as a matter of course, would stay with them as protectors, though little
could harm them where they were.
"I propose to leave the ship in the care of Mr. Blunt," he said, "for I
perceive something about that gentleman which denotes a nautical instinct.
If Mr. Sharp choose to remain also, your society will be the more
agreeable, and in exchange, gentlemen, I ask the favour of the strong arms
of all your servants. Mr. Monday is my man in fair or foul, and so, I
flatter myself, will be Sir George Templemore; and as for Mr. Dodge, if he
stay behind, why the Active Inquirer will miss a notable paragraph, for
there shall be no historian to the expedition, but one of my own
appointing. Mr. Saunders shall have the honour of cooking for you in the
meanwhile, and I propose taking every one else to the Dane."
As no serious objections could be made to this arrangement, within an hour
of the time when the ship was fastened, the cutter and jolly-boat
departed, it being the intention of Captain Truck to reach the wreck that
evening, in season to have his sheers ready to raise by daylight in the
morning; or he hoped to be back again in the course of the succeeding
day. No time was to be lost, he knew, the return of the Arabs being hourly
expected, and the tranquillity of the open sea being at all times a matter
of the greatest uncertainty. With the declared view of making quick work,
and with the secret apprehension of a struggle with the owners of the
country, the captain took with him every officer and man in his ship that
could possibly be spared, and as many of the passengers as he thought
might be useful. As numbers might be important in the way of intimidation,
he cared almost as much for appearances as for any thing else, or
certainly he would not have deemed the presence of Mr. Dodge of any great
moment; for to own the truth, he expected the editor of the Active
Inquirer would prove the quality implied by the first word of the title of
his journal, as much in any other way as in fighting.
Neither provisions nor water, beyond what might be necessary in pulling to
the wreck, nor ropes, nor blocks, nor any thing but arms and ammunition,
were taken in the boats; for the examination of the morning had shown the
captain, that, notwithstanding so much had been plundered, a sufficiency
still remained in the stranded vessel. Indeed, the fact that so much had
been left was one of his reasons for hastening off himself, as he deemed
it certain that they who had taken away what was gone, would soon return
for the remainder. The fowling-pieces and pistols, with all the powder and
ball in the ship, were taken: a light gun that was on board, for the
purpose of awaking sleepy pilots, being left loaded, with the intention of
serving for a signal of alarm, should any material change occur in the
situation of the ship.
The party included thirty men, and as most had fire-arms of one sort or
another, they pulled out of the inlet with spirit and great confidence in
their eventual success. The boats were crowded, it is true, but there was
room to row, and the launch had been left in its place on deck, because it
was known that two boats were to be found in the wreck, one of which was
large: in short, as Captain Truck had meditated this expedient from the
moment he ascertained the situation of the Dane, he now set about carrying
it into effect with method and discrimination. We shall first accompany
him on his way, leaving the small party in the Montauk for our future
attention in another chapter.
The distance between the two vessels was about four leagues, and a
headland intervening, those in the boats in less than an hour lost sight
of their own ship, as she lay shorn of her pride anchored within the reef.
At almost the same moment, the wreck came into view, and Captain Truck
applied his glass with great interest, in order to ascertain the state of
things in that direction. All was tranquil--no signs of any one having
visited the spot since morning being visible. This intelligence was given
to the people, who pulled at their oars the more willingly under the
stimulus of probable success, driving the boats ahead with
The sun was still some distance above the horizon, when the cutter and
jolly-boat rowed through the narrow channel astern of the wreck, and
brought up, as before, by the side of the rocks. Leaping ashore, Captain
Truck led the way to the vessel, and, in five minutes, he was seen in the
forward cross-trees, examining the plain with his glass. All was as
solitary and deserted as when before seen, and the order was immediately
given to commence operations without delay.
A gang of the best seamen got out the spare topmast and lower-yard of the
Dane, and set about fitting a pair of sheers, a job that would be likely
to occupy them several hours. Mr. Leach led a party up forward, and the
second mate went up with another further aft, each proceeding to send down
its respective top-gallant-mast, top-sail-yard, and top-mast; while
Captain Truck, from the deck, superintended the same work on the
mizen-mast. As the men worked with spirit, and a strong party remained
below to give the drags, and to come up the lanyards, spar came down after
spar with rapidity, and just as the sun dipped into the ocean to the
westward, everything but the lower-masts was lying on the sands, alongside
of the ship; nothing having been permitted to touch the decks in
descending. Previously, however, to sending down the lower-yards, the
launch had been lifted from its bed and landed also by the side of
Ail hands were now mustered on the sands, and the boat was launched, an
operation of some delicacy, as heavy rollers were occasionally coming in.
As soon as it floated, this powerful auxiliary was swept up to the rocks,
and then the men began to load it with the standing rigging and sails,
the latter having been unbent, as fast as each spar came down. Two kedges
were found, and a hawser was bent to one, when the launch was carried
outside of the bar and anchored. Lines being brought in, the yards were
hauled out to the same place, and strongly lashed together for the night.
A great deal of running rigging, many blocks, and divers other small
articles, were put into the boats of the Montauk, and the jolly-boat of
the wreck, which was still hanging at her stern, was also lowered and got
into the water. With these acquisitions, the party had now four boats, one
of which was heavy and capable of carrying a considerable freight.
By this time it was so late and so dark, that Captain Truck determined to
suspend his labours until morning. In the course of a few hours of active
toil, he had secured all the yards, the sails, the standing and running
rigging, the boats, and many of the minor articles of the Dane; and
nothing of essential importance remained, but the three lower masts.
These, it is true, were all in all to him, for without them he would be
but little better off than he was before, since his own ship had spare
canvas and spare yards enough to make a respectable show above the
foundation. This foundation, however, was the great requisite, and his
principal motive in taking the other things, was to have a better fit than
could be obtained by using spars and sails that were not intended to
At eight o'clock, the people got their suppers, and prepared to turn in
for the night. Some conversation passed between Captain Truck and his
mates, concerning the manner of disposing of the men while they slept,
which resulted in the former's keeping a well-armed party of ten with him
in the ship, while the remainder were put in the boats, all of which were
fastened to the launch, as she lay anchored off the bar. Here they made
beds of the sails, and, setting a watch, the greater portion of both gangs
were soon as quietly asleep as if lying in their own berths on board the
Montauk. Not so with Captain Truck and his mates. They walked the deck of
the Dane fully an hour after the men were silent, and for some time after
Mr. Monday had finished the bottle of wine he had taken the precaution to
bring with him from the packet, and had bestowed his person among some
old sails in the cabin. The night was a bright starlight, but the moon was
not to be expected until near morning. The wind came off the sands of the
interior in hot puffs, but so lightly as to sound, that it breathed past
them like the sighings of the desert.
"It is lucky, Mr. Leach," said the Captain, continuing the discourse he
had been holding with his mate in a low voice, under the sense of the
insecurity of their situation; "it is lucky, Mr. Leach, that we got out
the stream anchor astern, else we should have had the ship rubbing her
copper against the corners of the rocks. This air seems light, but under
all her canvas, the Montauk would soon flap her way out from this coast,
if all were ready."
"Ay, ay, sir, if all were ready!" repeated Mr. Leach, as if he knew how
much honest labour was to be expended before that happy moment
"If all were ready. I think we may be able to whip these three sticks out
of this fellow by breakfast-time in the morning, and then a couple of
hours will answer for the raft; after which, a pull of six or eight more
will take us back to our own craft."
"If all goes well, it may be done, sir."
"Well or ill, it must be done. We are not in a situation to play at
"I hope if may be done, sir."
"We are in a d----le category, sir, if the truth must be spoken."
"That is a word I am not much acquainted with, but we have an awkward
berth of it here, if that be what you mean!"
A long pause, during which these two seamen, one of whom was old, the
other young, paced the deck diligently.
"Do you ever pray?"
"I have done such a thing in my time, sir; but, since I have sailed with
you, I have been taught to work first and pray afterwards; and when the
difficulty has been gotten over by the work, the prayers have commonly
"You should take to, your thanksgivings. I think your grandfather was a
"Yes, he was, sir, and I have been told your father followed the same
"You have been told the truth, Mr. Leach. My father was as meek, and
pious, and humble a Christian as ever thumped a pulpit. A poor man, and,
if truth must be spoken, a poor preacher too; but a zealous one, and
thoroughly devout. I ran away from him at twelve, and never passed a week
at a time under his roof afterwards. He could not do much for me, for he
had little education and no money, and, I believe, carried on the business
pretty much by faith. He was a good man, Leach, notwithstanding there
might be a little of a take-in for such a person to set up as a teacher;
and, as for my mother, if there ever was a pure spirit on earth it was in
"Ay, that is the way commonly with the mothers, sir."
"She taught me to pray," added the captain, speaking a little thick, "but
since I've been in this London line, to own the truth, I find but little
time for any thing but hard work, until, for want of practice, praying has
got to be among the hardest things I can turn my hand to."
"That is the way with all of us; it is my opinion, Captain Truck, these
London and Liverpool liners will have a good many lost souls to
"Ay, ay, if we could put it on them, it would do well enough; but my
honest old father always maintained, that every man must stand in the gap
left by his own sins; though he did assert, also, that we were all
fore-ordained to shape our courses starboard or port, even before we were
"That doctrine makes an easy tide's-way of life; for I see no great use in
a man's carrying sail and jamming himself up in the wind, to claw off
immoralities, when he knows he is to fetch up upon them after all
"I have worked all sorts of traverses to get hold of this matter, and
never could make any thing of it. It is harder than logarithms. If my
father had been the only one to teach it, I should have thought less about
it, for he was no scholar, and might have been paying it out just in the
way of business; but then my mother believed it, body and soul, and she
was too good a woman to stick long to a course that had not truth to
"Why not believe it heartily, sir, and let the wheel fly? One gets to the
end of the v'y'ge on this tack as well as on another."
"There is no great difficulty in working up to or even through the passage
of death, Leach, but the great point is to know the port we are to moor in
finally. My mother taught me to pray, and when I was ten I had underrun
all the Commandments, knew the Lord's Creed, and the Apostles' Prayer, and
had made a handsome slant into the Catechism; but, dear me, dear me, it
has all oozed out of me, like the warmth from a Greenlander."
"Folks were better educated in your time, Captain Truck, than they are
now-a-days, by all I can learn."
"No doubt of that in the world. In my time, younkers were taught respect
for their betters, and for age, and their Catechism, and piety, and the
Apostles' Prayer, and all those sort of things. But America has fallen
astern sadly in manners within the last fifty years. I do not flatter
myself with being as good as I was when under my excellent dear mother's
command, but there are worse men in the world, and out of Newgate, too,
than John Truck. Now, in the way of vices, Leach, I never swear."
"Not you, sir; and Mr. Monday _never_ drinks."
As the protestation of sobriety on the part of their passenger had got to
be a joke with the officers and men of the ship, Captain Truck had no
difficulty in understanding his mate, and though nettled at a retort that
was like usurping his own right to the exclusive quizzing of the vessel,
he was in a mood much too sentimental and reflecting to be angry. After a
moment's pause, he resumed the dialogue, as if nothing had been said to
disturb its harmony.
"No, I _never_ swear; or, if I do, it is in a small gentlemanly way, and
with none of your foul-mouthed oaths, such as are used by the
horse-jockeys that formerly sailed out of the river."
"Were they hard swearers?"
"Is a nor'-wester a hard wind? Those fellows, after they have been choked
off and jammed by the religion ashore for a month or two, would break out
like a hurricane when they had made an offing, and were once fairly out of
hearing of the parsons and deacons. It is said that old Joe Bunk began an
oath on the bar that he did not get to the end of until his brig was off
Montauk. I have my doubts, Leach, if any thing be gained by screwing down
religion and morals, like a cotton bale, as is practised in and about
"A good many begin to be of the same way of thinking; for when our people
_do_ break out, it is like the small-pox!"
"I am an advocate for education; nor do I think I was taught in my own
case more than was reasonable. I think even a prayer is of more use to a
ship-master than Latin, and I often have, even now, recourse to one,
though it may not be exactly in Scripture language. I seldom want a wind
without praying for it, mentally, as it might be; and as for the
rheumatis', I am always praying to be rid of it, when I'm not cursing it
starboard and larboard. Has it never struck you that the world is less
moral since steamboats were introduced than formerly?"
"The boats date from before my birth, sir."
"Very true--you are but a boy. Mankind appear to be hurried, and no one
likes to stop to pray, or to foot up his sins, as used to be the case.
Life is like a passage at sea. We feel our way cautiously until off
soundings on our own coast, and then we have an easy time of it in the
deep water; but when we get near the shoals again; we take out the lead,
and mind a little how we steer. It is the going off and coming on the
coast, that gives us all the trouble."
"You had some object in view, Captain Truck, when you asked me if I ever
"Certain. If I were to set to work to pray myself just now, it would be
for smooth water to-morrow, that we may have a good time in towing the
raft to the ship--hist! Leach did you hear nothing?"
"There was a sound different from what is common in the air from the land!
It is probably some savage beast, for Africa is full of them."
"I think we might manage a lion from this fortress. Unless the fellow
found the stage, he could hardly board us, and a plank or two thrown from
that, would make a draw-bridge of it at once. Look yonder! there is
something moving on the bank, or my eyes are two jewel-blocks."
Mr. Leach looked in the required direction, and he, too, fancied he saw
something in motion on the margin of the bank. At the point where the
wreck lay, the beach was far from wide, and her flying jib-boom, which was
still out, projected so near the low acclivity, where the coast rose to
the level of the desert, as to come within ten feet of the bushes by which
the latter was fringed. Although the spar had drooped a little in
consequence of having lost the support of the stays, its end was still
sufficiently high to rise above the leaves, and to permit one seated on it
to overlook the plain as well as the starlight would allow. Believing the
duty to be important, Captain Truck, first giving his orders to Mr. Leach,
as to the mode of alarming the men, should it become necessary, went
cautiously out on the bowsprit, and thence by the foot-ropes, to the
farther extremity of the booms. As this was done with the steadiness of a
seaman and with the utmost care to prevent discovery, he was soon
stretched on the spar, balancing his body by his legs beneath, and casting
eager glances about, though prevented by the obscurity from seeing either
far or very distinctly.
After lying in this position a minute, Captain Truck discovered an object
on the plains, at the distance of a hundred yards from the bushes, that
was evidently in motion. He was now all watchfulness, for, had he not seen
the proofs that the Arabs or Moors had already been at the wreck, he knew
that parties of them were constantly hovering along the coast, especially
after every heavy gale that blew from the westward, in the hope of booty.
As all his own people were asleep, the mates excepted, and the boats could
just be discovered by himself, who knew their position, he was in hopes
that, should any of the barbarians be near, the presence of his own party
could hardly be known. It is true, the alteration in the appearance of the
wreck, by the removal of the spars, must strike any one who had seen it
before, but this change might have been made by another party of
marauders, or those who had now come, if any there were, might see the
vessel for the first time.
While such thoughts were rapidly glancing through his mind, the reader
will readily imagine that the worthy master was not altogether at his
ease. Still he was cool, and as he was resolved to fight his way off, even
against an army, he clung to the spar with a species of physical
resolution that would have done credit to a tiger. The object on the plain
moved once more, and the clouds opening beyond he plainly made out the
head and neck of a dromedary. There was but one, however; nor could the
most scrupulous examination show him a human being. After remaining a
quarter of an hour on the boom, during all which time the only sounds that
were heard were the sighings of the night-air, and the sullen and steady
wash of the surf, Captain Truck came on deck again, where he found his
mate waiting his report with intense anxiety. The former was fully aware
of the importance of his discovery, but, being a cool man, he had not
magnified the danger to himself.
"The Moors are down on the coast," he said, in an undertone; "but I do not
think there can be more than two or three of them at the most; probably
spies or scouts; and, could we seize them, we may gain a few hours on
their comrades, which will be all we want; after which they shall be
welcome to the salt and the other dunnage of the poor Dane. Leach, are you
the man to stand by me in this affair?"
"Have I ever failed you, Captain Truck, that you put the question?"
"That you have never, my fine fellow; give me a squeeze of your honest
hand, and let there be a pledge of life or death in it."
The mate met the iron grasp of his commander, and each knew that he
received an assurance on which he might rely.
"Shall I awake the men, sir?" asked Mr. Leach.
"Not one of them. Every hour of sleep the people get will be a lower mast
saved. These sticks that still remain are our foundation, and even one of
them is of more account to us, just now, than a fleet of ships might be at
another time. Take your arms and follow me; but first we will give a hint
to the second-mate of what we are about."
This officer was asleep on the deck, for he had been so much wearied with
his great exertions that afternoon as to catch a little rest as the
sweetest of all gifts. It had been the intention of Captain Truck to
dismiss him to the boats: but, observing him to be overcome with
drowsiness, he had permitted him to catch a nap where he lay. The
look-out, too, was also slumbering under the same indulgence; but both
were now awakened, and made acquainted with the state of things on shore.
"Keep your eyes open, but keep a dead silence," concluded Captain Truck;
"for it is my wish to deceive these scouts, and to keep them ignorant of
our presence. When I cry out 'Alarm!' you will muster all hands, and clear
away for a brush, but not before. God bless you, my lads! mind and keep
your eyes open. Leach, I am ready."
The captain and his companion cautiously descended to the sands, and
passing astern of the ship, they first took their way to the jolly-boat,
which lay at the rocks in readiness to carry off the two officers to the
launch. Here they found the two men in charge so soundly asleep, that
nothing would have been easier than to bind them without giving the alarm.
After a little hesitation, it was determined to let them dream away their
sorrows, and to proceed to the spot where the bank was ascended.
At this place it became necessary to use the greatest precaution, for it
was literally entering the enemy's country. The steepness of the short
ascent requiring them to mount nearly on their hands and feet, this part
of their progress was made without much hazard, and the two adventurers
stood on the plain, sheltered by some bushes.
"Yonder is the camel," whispered the captain: "you see his crooked neck,
with the head tossing at moments. The fellow is not fifty yards from the
body of the poor German! Now let us follow along this line of bushes, and
keep a sharp look-out for the rider."
They proceeded in the manner mentioned, until they came to a point where
the bushes ceased, and there was an opening that overlooked the beach
quite near the wreck.
"Do you see the boats, Leach, here away, in a line with the starboard
davit of the Dane? They look like dark spots on the water, and an ignorant
Arab might be excused for taking them for rocks."
"Except that they rise and fall with the rollers; he must be doubly a Turk
who could make such a blunder!"
"Your wanderers of the desert are not so particular. The wreck has
certainly undergone some changes since yesterday, and I should not wonder
if even a Mussulman found them out, but--"
The gripe of Mr. Leach, whose fingers almost entered the flesh of his arm,
and a hand pointed towards the bushes on the other side of the opening,
silenced the captain's whisper, A human form was seen standing on the
fringe of the bank, directly opposite the jib-boom. It was swaddled in a
sort of cloak, and the long musket that was borne in a hollow of an arm,
was just discernible, diverging from the line of the figure. The Arab, for
such it could only be, was evidently gazing on the wreck, and presently he
ventured out more boldly, and stood on the spot that was clear of bushes.
The death-like stillness on the beach deceived him, and he advanced with
less caution towards the spot where the two officers were in ambush, still
keeping his own eye on the ship. A few steps brought him within reach of
Captain Truck, who drew back his arm until the elbow reached his own hip,
when he darted it forward, and dealt the incautious barbarian a severe
blow between the eyes. The Arab fell like a slaughtered ox, and before his
senses were fairly recovered, he was bound hands and feet, and rolled over
the bank down upon the beach, with little ceremony, his fire-arms remaining
with his captors.
"That lad is in a category," whispered the captain; "it now remains to be
seen if there is another."
A long search was not rewarded with success, and it was determined to lead
the camel down the path, with a view to prevent his being seen by any
wanderer in the morning.
"If we get the lower masts out betimes," continued the captain, "these
land pirates will have no beacons in sight to steer by, and, in a country
in which one grain of sand is so much like another, they might hunt a week
before they made a happy landfall."
The approach of the two towards the camel was made with less caution than
usual, the success of their enterprise throwing them off their guard, and
exciting their spirits. They believed in short, that their captive was
either a solitary wanderer, or that he had been sent ahead as a scout, by
some party that would be likely to follow in the morning.
"We must be up and at work before the sun, Mr. Leach," said the captain,
speaking clearly, but in a low tone, as they approached the camel. The
head of the animal was tossed; then it seemed to snuff the air, and it
gave a shriek. In the twinkling of an eye an Arab sprang from the sand, on
which he had been sleeping, and was on the creature's back. He was seen to
look around him, and before the startled mariners had time to decide on
their course, the beast, which was a dromedary trained to speed, was out
of sight in the darkness. Captain Truck had thrown forward his
fowling-piece, but he did not fire.
"We have no right to shoot the fellow," he said, "and our hope is now in
the distance he will have to ride to join his comrades. If we have got a
chief, as I suspect, we will make a hostage of him, and turn him to as
much account, as he can possibly turn one of his own camels. Depend on it
we shall see no more of them for several hours, and we will seize the
opportunity to get a little sleep. A man must have his watch below, or he
gets to be as dull and as obstinate as a top-maul."
The captain having made up his mind to this plan was not slow in putting
it in execution. Returning to the beach they liberated the legs of their
prisoner, whom they found lying like a log on the sands, and made him
mount the staging to the deck of the ship. Leading the way into the cabin,
Mr. Truck examined the fellow by a light, turning him round and commenting
on his points very much as he might have done had the captive been any
other animal of the desert.
The Arab was a swarthy, sinewy man of forty, with all his fibres indurated
and worked down to the whip-cord meagreness and rigidity of a racer, his
frame presenting a perfect picture of the sort of being one would fancy
suited to the exhausting motion of a dromedary, and to the fare of a
desert. He carried a formidable knife, in addition to the long musket of
which he had been deprived, and his principal garment was the coarse
mantle of camel's hair, that served equally for cap, coat and robe. His
wild dark eyes gleamed, as Captain Truck passed the lamp before his face,
and it was sufficiently apparent that he fancied a very serious
misfortune had befallen him. As any verbal communication was out of the
question, some abortive attempts were essayed by the two mariners to make
themselves understood by signs, which, like some men's reasoning, produced
results exactly contrary to what had been expected.
"Perhaps the poor fellow fancies we mean to eat him, Leach," observed the
captain, after trying his skill in pantomime for some time without
success; "and he has some grounds for the idea, as he was felled like an
ox that is bound to the kitchen. Try and let the miserable wretch
understand, at least, that we are not cannibals."
Hereupon the mate commenced an expressive pantomime, which described, with
sufficient clearness, the process of skinning, cutting up, cooking, and
eating the carcass of the Arab, with the humane intention of throwing a
negative over the whole proceeding, by a strong sign of dissent at the
close; but there are no proper substitutes for the little monosyllables of
"yes" and "no," and the meaning of the interpreter got to be so confounded
that the captain himself was mystified.
"D--n it, Leach," he interrupted, "the man fancies that he is not good
eating, you make so many wry and out-of-the-way contortions. A sign is a
jury-mast for the tongue, and every seaman ought to know how to practise
them, in case he should be wrecked on a savage and unknown coast. Old Joe
Bunk had a dictionary of them, and in calm weather he used to go among his
horses and horned cattle, and talk with them by the hour. He made a
diagram of the language, and had it taught to all us younkers who were
exposed to the accidents of the bea. Now, I will try my hand on this Arab,
for I could never go to sleep while the honest black imagined we intended
to breakfast on him."
The captain now recommenced his own explanations in the language of
nature. He too described the process of cooking and eating the
prisoner--for this he admitted was indispensable by way of preface--and
then, to show his horror of such an act, he gave a very good
representation of a process he had often witnessed among his sea-sick
passengers, by way of showing his loathing of cannibalism in general, and
of eating this Arab in particular. By this time the man was thoroughly
alarmed, and by way of commentary on the captain's eloquence, he began to
utter wailings in his own language, and groans that were not to be
mistaken. To own the truth, Mr. Truck was a good deal mortified with this
failure, which, like all other unsuccessful persons, he was ready to
ascribe to anybody but himself.
"I begin to think, Mr. Leach," he said, "that this fellow is too stupid
for a spy or a scout, and that, after all, he is no more than a driveller
who has strayed from his tribe, from a want of sense to keep the road in a
desert. A man of the smallest information must have understood me, and yet
you perceive by his lamentations and outcries that he knows no more what I
said than if he were in another parallel of latitude. The chap has quite
mistaken my character; for if I really did intend to make a beast of
myself, and devour my species, no one of the smallest knowledge of human
nature would think I'd begin on a nigger! What is your opinion of the
man's mistake, Mr. Leach?"
"It is very plain, sir, that he supposes you mean to broil him, and then
to eat so much of his steaks, that you will be compelled to heave up like
a marine two hours out; and, if I must say the truth, I think most people
would have inferred the same thing from your signs, which are as plainly
cannibal as any thing of the sort I ever witnessed."
"And what the devil did he make of yours, Master Cookery-Book?" cried the
captain with some heat. "Did he fancy you meant to mortify the flesh with
a fortnight's fast? No, no, sir; you are a very respectable first officer,
but are no more acquainted with Joe Bunk's principles of signs, than this
editor here knows of truth and propriety. It is your blundering manner of
soliloquizing that has set the lad on a wrong traverse. He has just
grafted your own idea on my communication, and has got himself into a
category that a book itself would not reason him out of, until his fright
is passed. Logic is thrown away on all 'skeary animals,' said old Joe
Bunk. Hearkee, Leach, I've a mind to set the rascal adrift, condemning the
gun and the knife for the benefit of the captors. I think I should sleep
better for the certainty that he was trudging along the sand, satisfied he
was not to be barbecued in the morning."
There is no use in detaining him, sir, for his messmate, who went off on
the dromedary, will sail a hundred feet to his one, and if an alarm is
really to be given to their party, it will not come from this chap. He
will be unarmed, and by taking away his pouch we shall get some ammunition
for this gun of his, which will throw a shot as far as Queen Anne's
pocket-piece. For my part, sir, I think there is no great use in keeping
him, for I do not think he would understand us, if he stayed a month, and
went to school the whole time."
"You are quite right, and as long as he is among us, we shall be liable to
unpleasant misconceptions; so cut his lashings, and set him adrift, and be
d---d to him."
The mate, who by this time was drowsy, did as desired, and in a moment the
Arab was at liberty. At first the poor creature did not know what to make
of his freedom, but a smart application, _à posteriori_, from the foot of
Captain Truck, whose humanity was of the rough quality of the seas, soon
set him in motion up the cabin-ladder. When the two mariners reached the
deck, their prisoner was already leaping down the staging, and in another
minute his active form was obscurely seen clambering up the bank, on
gaining which he plunged into the desert, and was seen no more.
None but men indurated in their feelings by long exposure would be likely
to sleep under the circumstances in which these two seamen were placed;
but they were both too cool, and too much accustomed to arouse themselves
on sudden alarms, to lose the precious moments in womanish apprehensions,
when they knew that all their physical energies would be needed on the
morrow, whether the Arabs arrived or not. They accordingly regulated the
look-outs, gave strong admonitions of caution to be passed from one to
another, and then the captain stretched himself in the berth of the poor
Dane who was now a captive in the desert, while Mr. Leach got into the
jolly-boat, and was pulled off to the launch. Both were sound asleep in
less than five minutes after their heads touched their temporary pillows.
Ay, he does well enough, if he be disposed,
And so do I too; he does it with a better grace, but
I do it more natural.
The sleep of the weary is sweet. Of all the party that lay thus buried in
sleep, on the verge of the Great Desert, exposed at any moment to an
assault from its ruthless and predatory occupants, but one bethought him
of the danger; though _he_ was, in truth, so little exposed as to have
rendered it of less moment to himself than to most of the others, had he
not been the possessor of a fancy that served oftener to lead him astray
than for any purposes that were useful of pleasing. This person was in one
of the boats, and as they lay at a reasonable distance from the land, and
the barbarians would not probably have known how to use any craft had they
even possessed one, he was consequently safe from everything but a
discharge from their long muskets. But this remote risk sufficed to keep
him awake, it being very different things to foster malice, circulate
gossip, write scurrilous paragraphs, and cant about the people, and to
face a volley of fire-arms. For the one employment, nature, tradition,
education, and habit, had expressly fitted Mr. Dodge; while for the other,
he had not the smallest vocation. Although Mr. Leach, in setting his
look-outs on board the boats, had entirely overlooked the editor of the
Active Inquirer, never before had that vigilant person's inquiries been
more active than they were throughout the whole of that long night, and
twenty times would he have aroused the party on false alarms, but for the
cool indifference of the phlegmatic seamen, to whom the duty more properly
belonged. These brave fellows knew too well the precious qualities of
sleep to allow that of their shipmates to be causelessly disturbed by the
nervous apprehensions of one who carried with him an everlasting stimulant
to fear in the consciousness of demerit. The night passed away
undisturbed, therefore, nor was the order of the regular watch broken
until the look-outs in the wreck, agreeably to their orders, awoke Captain
Truck and his mates.
It was now precisely at the moment when the first, and as it might be the
fugitive, rays of the sun glide into the atmosphere, and, to use a quaint
expression, "dilute its darkness." One no longer saw by starlight, or by
moonlight, though a little of both were still left; but objects, though
indistinct and dusky, had their true outlines, while every moment rendered
their surfaces more obvious.
When Captain Truck appeared on deck, his first glance was at the ocean;
for, were its tranquillity seriously disturbed, it would be a death-blow
to all his hopes. Fortunately, in this particular, there was no change.
"The winds seem to have put themselves out of breath in the last gale, Mr.
Leach," he said, "and we are likely to get the spars round as quietly as
if they were so many saw-logs floating in a mill-pond. Even the
ground-swell has lessened, and the breakers on the bar look like the
ripple of a wash-tub. Turn the people up, sir, and let us have a drag at
these sticks before breakfast, or we may have to broil an Arab yet."
Mr. Leach hailed the boats, and ordered them to send their gang of
labourers on shore. He then gave the accustomed raps on the deck, and
called "all hands" in the ship. In a minute the men began to appear,
yawning and stretching their arms--for no one had thrown aside his
clothes--most of them launching their sea-jokes right and left, with as
much indifference as if they lay quietly in the port to which they were
bound. After some eight or ten minutes to shake themselves, and to get
"aired," as Mr. Leach expressed it, the whole party was again mustered on
the deck of the Dane, with the exception of a hand or two in the launch,
and Mr. Dodge. The latter had assumed the office of sentinel over the
jolly-boat, which, as usual, lay at the rocks, to carry such articles off
as might be wanted.
"Send a hand up into the fore-top, Mr. Leach," said the captain, gaping
like a greyhound; "a fellow with sharp eyes; none of your chaps who read
with their noses down in the cloudy weather of an almanack; and let him
take a look at the desert, in search of Arabs."
Although the lower rigging was down and safe in the launch, a girt-line,
or as Captain Truck in the true Doric of his profession pronounced it, a
"_gunt_-line," was rove at each mast, and a man was accordingly hauled up
forward as soon as possible. As it was still too dusky to distinguish far
with accuracy, the captain hailed him, and bade him stay where he was
until ordered down, and to keep a sharp look-out.
"We had a visit from one chap in the night," he added, "and as he was a
hungry-looking rascal, he is a greater fool than I think him, or he will
be back before long, after some of the beef and stock-fish of the wreck.
Keep a bright look-out."
The men, though accustomed to their commander's manner, looked at each
other more seriously, glanced around at their arms, and then the
information produced precisely the effect that had been intended, that of
inducing them to apply to their work with threefold vigour.
"Let the boys chew upon that, instead of their tobacco," observed the
captain to Mr. Leach, as he hunted for a good coal in the galley to light
his cigar with. "I'll warrant you the sheers go up none the slower for the
information, desperate philosophers as some of these gentry are!"
This prognostic was true enough, for instead of gaping and stretching
themselves about the deck, as had been the case with most of them a minute
before, the men now commenced their duty in good earnest, calling to each
other to come to the falls and the capstan-bars, and to stand by the heels
of the sheers.
"Heave away!" cried the mate, smiling to see how quick the captain's hint
had been taken; "heave round with a will, men, and let us set these legs
on end, that they may walk."
As the order was obeyed to the letter, the day had not fairly opened when
the sheers were in their places and secured. Every man was all activity,
and as their work was directed by those whose knowledge was never at
fault, a landsman would have been surprised at the readiness with which
the crew next raised a spar as heavy as the mainmast, and had it
suspended, top and all, in the air, high enough to be borne over the side.
The lowering was a trifling affair, and the massive stick was soon lying
at its length on the sands. Captain Truck well knew the great importance
of this particular spar, for he might make out with the part of the
foremast that remained in the packet, whereas, without this mast he could
not possibly rig any thing of much available use aft. He called out to the
men therefore, as he sprang upon the staging, to follow him and to launch
the spar into the water before they breakfasted.
"Let us make sure of this fellow, men," he added, "for it is our main-stay.
With this stick fairly in our raft, we may yet make a passage; no one must
think of his teeth till it is out of all risk. This stick we must have, if
we make war on the Emperor of Morocco for its possession."
The people knew the necessity for exertion, and they worked accordingly.
The top was knocked off, and carried down to the water; the spar was then
cut round, and rolled after it, not without trouble, however, as the
trestle trees were left on; but the descent of the sands favoured the
labour. When on the margin of the sea, by the aid of hand-spikes, the head
was got afloat, or so nearly so, as to require but little force to move
it, when a line from the boats was fastened to the outer end, and the top
was secured alongside.
"Now, clap your hand-spikes under it, boys, and heave away!" cried the
captain. "Heave together and keep the stick straight--heave, and his head
is afloat!--Haul, haul away in the boat!--heave all at once, and as if you
were giants!--you gained three feet that tug, my hearties--try him again,
gentlemen, as you are--and move together, like girls in a
_cotillion_--Away with it!--What the devil are you staring at, in the
fore-top there? Have you nothing better to do than to amuse yourself in
seeing us heave our insides out?"
The intense interest attached to the securing of this spar had extended to
the look-out in the top, and instead of keeping his eye on the desert, as
ordered, he was looking down at the party on the beach, and betraying his
sympathy in their efforts by bending his body, and appearing to heave in
common with his messmates. Admonished of his neglect by this sharp
rebuke, he turned round quickly towards the desert, and gave the fearful
alarm of "The Arabs!"
Every man ceased his work, and the Whole were on the point of rushing in a
body towards their arms, when the greater steadiness of Captain Truck
"Whereaway?" he demanded sternly.
"On the most distant hillock of sand, may be a mile and a half inland."
"How do they head?"
"Dead down upon us, sir."
"How do they travel?"
"They have camels, and horses: all are mounted, sir."
"What is their number?".
The man paused, as if to count, and then he called out,
"They are strong-handed, sir; quite a hundred I think. They have brought
up, sir, and seem to be sounding about them for an anchorage."
Captain Truck hesitated, and he looked wistfully at the mast.
"Boys!" said he, shaking his hand over the bit of massive wood, with
energy, "this spar is of more importance to us than our mother's milk in
infancy. It is our victuals and drink, life and hopes. Let us swear we
will have it in spite of a thousand Arabs. Stoop to your hand-spikes, and
heave at the word--'heave as if you had a world to move,--heave,
The people obeyed, and the mast advanced more than half the necessary
distance into the water. But the man now called out that the Arabs wore
advancing swiftly towards the ship.
"One more effort, men," said Captain Truck, reddening in the face with
anxiety, and throwing down his hat to set the example in person,--"heave!"
The men hove, and the spar floated.
"Now to your arms, boys, and you, sir, in the top, keep yourself hid
behind the head of the mast. We must be ready to show these gentry we are
not afraid of them." A sign, of the hand told the men in the launch to
haul away, and the all-important spar floated slowly across the bar, to
join the raft.
The men now hurried up to the ship, a post that Captain Truck declared he
could maintain against a whole tribe, while Mr. Dodge began incontinently
to scull the jolly-boat, in the best manner he could, off to the launch.
All remonstrance was useless, as he had got as far as the bar before he
was perceived. Both Sir George Templemore and Mr. Monday loudly denounced
him for deserting the party on the shore in this scandalous manner, but
quite without affect. Mr. Dodge's skill, unfortunately for his success,
did not quite equal his zeal; and finding, when he got on the bar, that he
was unable to keep the boat's head to the sea, or indeed to manage it at
all, he fairly jumped into the water and swam lustily towards the launch.
As he was expert at this exercise, he arrived safely, cursing in his heart
all travelling, the desert, the Arabs, and mankind in general, wishing
himself quietly back in Dodgeopolis again, among his beloved people. The
boat drove upon the sands, of course, and was eventually taken care of by
two of the Montauk's crew.
As soon as Captain Truck found himself on the deck of the Dane, the arms
were distributed among the people. It was clearly his policy not to
commence the war, for he had nothing, in an affirmative sense, to gain by
it, though, without making any professions, his mind was fully made up not
to be taken alive, as long as there was a possibility of averting such a
disaster. The man aloft gave constant notice of the movements of the
Arabs, and he soon announced that they had halted at a pistol's shot from
the bank, where they were securing their camels, and that his first
estimate of their force was true.
In the mean time, Captain Truck was far from satisfied with his position.
The bank was higher than the deck of the ship, and so near it as to render
the bulwarks of little use, had those of the Dane been of any available
thickness, which they were not. Then, the position of the ship, lying a
little on one side, with her bows towards the land, exposed her to being
swept by a raking fire; a cunning enemy having it in his power, by making
a cover of the bank, to pick off his men, with little or no exposure to
himself. The odds were too great to sally upon the plain, and although
the rocks offered a tolerable cover towards the land, they had none
towards the ship. Divide his force he dared not do,--and by abandoning the
ship, he would allow the Arabs to seize her, thus commanding the other
position, besides the remainder of the stores, which he was desirous
Men think fast in trying circumstances, and although the captain was in a
situation so perfectly novel, his practical knowledge and great coolness
rendered him an invaluable commander to those under his orders.
"I do not know, gentlemen," he said, addressing his passengers and mates,
"that Vattel has laid down any rule to govern this case. These Arabs, no
doubt, are the lawful owners of the country, in one sense; but it is a
desert--and a desert, like a sea, is common property for the time being,
to all who find themselves in it. There are no wreck-masters in Africa,
and probably no law concerning wrecks, but the law of the strongest. We
have been driven in here, moreover, by stress of weather--and this is a
category on which Vattel has been very explicit. We have a _right_ to the
hospitality of these Arabs, and if it be not freely accorded, d--n me,
gentlemen, but I feel disposed to take just as much of it as I find I
shall have occasion for! Mr. Monday, I should like to hear your sentiments
on this subject."
"Why, sir," returned Mr. Monday, "I have the greatest confidence in your
knowledge, Captain Truck, and am equally ready for peace or war, although
my calling is for the first. I should try negotiation to begin with, sir,
if it be practicable, and you will allow me to express an opinion, after
which I would offer war."
"I am quite of the same mind, sir; but in what way are we to negotiate
with a people we cannot make understand a word we say? It is true, if they
were versed in the science of signs, one might do something with them; but
I have reason to know that they are as stupid as boobies on all such
subjects. We shall get ourselves into a category at the first _protocol_,
as the writers say."
Now, Mr. Monday thought there was a language that any man might
understand, and he was strongly disposed to profit by it. In rummaging the
wreck, he had discovered a case of liquor, besides a cask of Hollands,
and he thought an offering of these might have the effect to put the Arabs
in good humour at least.
"I have known men, who, treated with dry, in matters of trade, were as
obstinate as mules, become reasonable and pliable, sir, over a bottle," he
said, after explaining where the liquor was to be found; "and I think, if
we offer the Arabs this, after they have been in possession a short time,
we shall find them better disposed towards us. If it should not prove so,
I confess, for one, I should feel less reluctance in shooting them
"I have somewhere heard that the Mussulmans never drink," observed Sir
George; "in which case we shall find our offering despised. Then there is
the difficulty of a first possession; for, if these people are the same as
those that were here before, they may not thank us for giving them so
small a part of that, of which they may lay claim to all. I'm very sure,
were any one to offer me my patent pistols, as a motive for letting him
carry away my patent razors, or the East India dressing-case, or any thing
else I own, I should not feel particularly obliged to him."
"Capitally put, Sir George, and I should be quite of your way of thinking,
if I did not believe these Arabs might really be mollified by a little
drink. If I had a proper ambassador to send with the offering, I would
resort to the plan at once."
Mr. Monday, after a moment's hesitation, spiritedly offered to be one of
two, to go to the Arabs with the proposal, for he had sufficient
penetration to perceive that there was little danger of his being seized,
while an armed party of so much strength remained to be overcome--and he
had sufficient nerve to encounter the risk. All he asked was a companion,
and Captain Truck was so much struck with the spirit of the volunteer,
that he made up his mind to accompany him himself. To this plan, however,
both the mates and all the crew, stoutly but respectfully objected. They
felt his importance too much to consent to this exposure, and neither of
the mates, even, would be allowed to go on an expedition of so much
hazard, without a sufficient motive. They might fight, if they pleased,
but they should not run into the mouth of the lion unarmed and
"It is of no moment," said Mr. Monday; "I could have liked a gentlemen
for my companion; but no one of the brave fellows will have any objection
to passing an hour in company with an Arab Sheik over a bottle. What say
you my lads, will any one of you volunteer?"
"Ay, ay, sir!" cried a dozen in a breath.
"This will never do," interrupted the captain; "I have need of the men,
for my heart is still set on these two sticks that remain, and we have a
head-sea and a stiff breeze to struggle with in getting back to the ship.
By George, I have it! What do you say to Mr. Dodge for a companion, Mr.
Monday? He is used to committees, and likes the service: and then he has
need of some stimulant, after the ducking he has received. Mr. Leach, take
a couple of hands, and go off in the jolly-boat and bring Mr. Dodge on
shore. My compliments to him, and tell him he has been unanimously chosen
to a most honourable and lucrative--ay, and a popular employment."
As this was an order, the mate did not scruple about obeying it. He was
soon afloat, and on his way towards the launch. Captain Truck now hailed
the top, and inquired what the Arabs were about. The answer was
satisfactory, as they were still busy with their camels and in pitching
their tents. This did not look much like an immediate war, and bidding the
man aloft to give timely notice of their approach, Mr. Truck fancied he
might still have time to shift his sheers, and to whip out the
mizzen-mast, and he accordingly set about it without further delay.
As every one worked, as it might be for life, in fifteen minutes this
light spar was suspended in the falls. In ten more its heel was clear of
the bulwarks, and it was lowered on the sands almost by the run. To knock
off the top and roll it down to the water took but a few minutes longer,
and then the people were called to their breakfast; the sentinel aloft
reporting that the Arabs were employed in the same manner, and in milking
their camels. This was a fortunate relief, and every body ate in peace,
and in the full assurance that those whom they so much distrusted were
equally engaged in the same pacific manner.
Neither the Arabs nor the seamen, however, lost any unnecessary time at
the meal. The former were soon reported to be coming and going in parties
of fifteen or twenty, arriving and departing in an eastern direction.
Occasionally a single runner went or came alone, on a fleet dromedary, as
if communications were held with other bodies which lay deeper in the
desert. All this intelligence rendered Captain Truck very uneasy, and he
thought it time seriously to take some decided measures to bring this
matter to an issue. Still, as time gained was all in his favour if
improved, he first ordered the men to begin to shift the sheers forward,
in hopes of being yet able to carry off the foremast; a spar that would be
exceedingly useful, as it would save the necessity of fishing a new head
to the one which still stood in the packet. He then went aside with his
two ambassadors, with a view to give his instructions.
Mr. Dodge had no sooner found himself safe in the launch than he felt his
courage revive, and with his courage, his ingenuity, self-love and
assurance. While in the water, a meeker man there was not on earth; he had
even some doubts as to the truth of all his favourite notions of liberty
and equality, for men think fast in danger, and there was an instant when
he might have been easily persuaded to acknowledge himself a demagogue and
a hypocrite in his ordinary practices; one whose chief motive was self,
and whose besetting passions were envy, distrust and malice; or, in other
words, very much the creature he was. Shame came next, and he eagerly
sought an excuse for the want of manliness he had betrayed; but, passing
over the language he had held in the launch, and the means Mr. Leach found
to persuade him to land again, we shall give his apology in his own words,
as he now somewhat hurriedly delivered it, to Captain Truck, in his
"I must have misunderstood your arrangement, captain," he said; "for
somehow, though _how_ I do not exactly know--but _somehow_ the alarm of
the Arabs was no sooner given than I felt as if I _ought_ to be in the
launch to be at my post; but I suppose it was because I knew that the
sails and spars that brought us here are mostly there, and that this was
the spot to be most resolutely defended. I _do_ think, if they had waded
off to us, I should have fought like a tiger!"
"No doubt you would, my dear sir, and like a wild cat too! We all make
mistakes in judgment, in war, and in politics, and no fact is better
known than that the best soldiers in the end are they who give a little
ground at the first attack. But Mr. Leach has explained to you the plan of
Mr. Monday, and I rely on your spirit and zeal, which there is now an
excellent opportunity to prove, as before it was only demonstrated."
"If it were only an opportunity of meeting the Arabs sword in hand,
"Pooh! pooh! my dear friend, take _two_ swords if you choose. One who is
full of fight can never get the battle on his own terms. Fill the Arabs
with the _schnaps_ of the poor Dane, and if they should make the smallest
symptom of moving down towards us, I rely on you to give the alarm, in
order that we may be ready for them. Trust to us for the _overture_ of the
_piece_, as I trust to you for the overtures of peace."
"In what way can we possibly do this, Mr. Monday? How _can_ we give the
alarm in season?
"Why," interposed the unmoved captain, "you may just shoot the sheik, and
that will be killing two birds with one stone; you will take your pistols,
of course, and blaze away upon them, starboard and larboard; rely on it,
we shall hear you."
"Of that I make no doubt, but I rather distrust the prudence of the step.
That is, I declare, Mr. Monday, it looks awfully like tempting Providence!
I begin to have conscientious scruples. I hope you are quite certain,
captain, there is nothing in all this against the laws of Africa? Good
moral and religious influences are not to be overlooked. My mind is quite
exercised in the premises!"
"You are much too conscientious for a diplomatic man," said Mr. Truck,
between the puffs at a fresh cigar. "You need not shoot any of the women,
and what more does, a man want? Come, no more words, but to the duty
heartily. Every one expects it of you, since no one can do it half so
well; and if you ever get back to Dodgeopolis, there will be matter for a
paragraph every day of the year for the next six months. If any thing
serious happen to you, trust to me to do your memory justice."
"Captain, captain, this trifling with the future is blasphemous! Men
seldom talk of death with impunity, and it really hurts my feelings to
touch on such awful subjects so lightly. I will go, for I do not well see
how the matter is to be helped; but let us go amicably, and with such
presents as will secure a good reception and a safe return."
"Mr. Monday takes the liquor-case of the Dane, and you are welcome to any
thing that is left, but the foremast. _That_ I shall fight for, even if
lions come out of the desert to help the Arabs."
Mr. Dodge had many more objections, some of which he urged openly, and
more of which he felt in his inmost spirit. But for the unfortunate dive
into the water, he certainly would have pleaded his immunities as a
passenger, and plumply refused to be put forward on such an occasion; but
he felt that he was a disgraced man, and that some decided act of spirit
was necessary to redeem his character. The neutrality observed by the
Arabs, moreover, greatly encouraged him; for he leaned to an opinion
Captain Truck had expressed, that so long as a strong-armed party remained
in the wreck, the sheik, if a man of any moderation and policy, would not
proceed to violence.
"You may tell him, gentlemen," continued Mr. Truck, "that as soon as I
have whipped the foremast out of the Dane, I will evacuate, and leave him
the wreck, and all it contains. The stick can do him no good, and I want
it in my heart's core. Put this matter before him plainly, and there is no
doubt we shall part the best friends in the world. Remember one thing,
however, we shall set about lifting the spar the moment you quit us, and
should there be any signs of an attack, give us notice in season, that we
may take to our arms."
By this reasoning Mr. Dodge suffered himself to be persuaded to go on the
mission, though his ingenuity and fears supplied an additional motive that
he took very good care not to betray. Should there be a battle, he knew he
would be expected to fight, if he remained with his own party, and if with
the other, he might plausibly secrete himself until the affair was over;
for, with a man of his temperament, eventual slavery had less horrors than
When Mr. Monday and his co-commissioner ascended the bank, bearing the
case of liquors and a few light offerings, that the latter had found in
the wreck, it was just as the crew, assured that the Arabs still remained
tranquil, had seriously set about pursuing their great object. On the
margin of the plain, Captain Truck took his leave of the ambassadors,
though he remained some time to reconnoitre the appearance of things in
the wild-looking camp, which was placed within two hundred yards of the
spot on which he stood. The number of the Arabs had not certainly been
exaggerated, and what gave him the most uneasiness was the fact that
parties appeared to be constantly communicating with more, who probably
lay behind a ridge of sand that bounded the view less than a mile distant
inland, as they all went and came in that direction. After waiting to see
his two _envoyés_ in the very camp, he stationed a look-out on the bank,
and returned to the wreck, to hurry on the all-important work.
Mr. Monday was the efficient man of the two commissioners, so soon as they
were fairly embarked in their enterprise. He was strong of nerves, and
without imagination to fancy dangers where they were not very obvious, and
had a great faith in the pacific virtues of the liquor-case. An Arab
advanced to meet them, when near the tents; and although conversation was
quite out of the question, by pure force of gesticulations, aided by the
single word "sheik," they succeeded in obtaining an introduction to that
The inhabitants of the desert have been so often described that we shall
assume they are known to our readers, and proceed with our narrative the
same as if we had to do with Christians. Much of what has been written of
the hospitality of the Arabs, if true of any portion of them, is hardly
true of those tribes which frequent the Atlantic coast, where the practice
of wrecking would seem to have produced the same effect, on their habits
and morals that it is known to produce elsewhere. But a ship protected by
a few weather-worn and stranded mariners, and a ship defended by a strong
and an armed party, like that headed by Captain Truck, presented very
different objects to the cupidity of these barbarians. They knew the great
advantage they possessed by being on their own ground, and were content to
await events, in preference to risking a doubtful contest. Several of the
party had been at Mogadore, and other parts, and had acquired tolerably
accurate ideas of the power of vessels; and as they were confident the
men now at work at the wreck had not the means of carrying away the cargo,
their own principal object, curiosity and caution, connected with certain
plans that were already laid among their leaders, kept them quiet, for the
moment at least.
These people were not so ignorant as to require to be told that some other
vessel was at no great distance, and their scouts had been out in all
directions to ascertain the fact, previously to taking their ultimate
measures; for the sheik himself had some pretty just notions of the force
of a vessel of war, and of the danger of contending with one. The result
of his policy, therefore, will better appear in the course of the
The reception of the two envoys of Captain Truck was masked by that
smiling and courteous politeness which seems to diminish as one travels
west, and to increase as he goes eastward; though it was certainly less
elaborate than would have been found in the palace of an Indian rajah. The
sheik was not properly a sheik, nor was the party composed of genuine
Arabs, though we have thus styled them from usage. The first, however, was
a man in authority, and he and his followers possessed enough of the
origin and characteristics of the tribes east of the Red Sea, to be
sufficiently described by the appellation we have adopted.
Mr. Monday and Mr. Dodge were invited by signs to be seated, and
refreshments were offered. As the last were not particularly inviting, Mr.
Monday was not slow in producing his own offering, and in recommending its
quality, by setting an example of the way in which it ought to be treated.
Although Mussulmans, the hosts did not scruple about tasting the cup, and
ten minutes of pantomime, potations, and grimaces, brought about a species
of intimacy between the parties.
The man who had been so unceremoniously captured the previous night by
Captain Truck, was now introduced, and much curiosity was manifested to
know whether his account of the disposition in the strangers to eat their
fellow creatures was true. The inhabitants of the desert, in the course of
ages, had gleaned certain accounts of mariners eating their shipmates,
from their different captives, and vague traditions to that effect
existed among them, which the tale of this man had revived. Had the sheik
kept a journal, like Mr. Dodge, the result of these inquiries would
probably have been some entries concerning the customs and characters of
the Americans, that were quite as original as those of the editor of the
Active Inquirer concerning the different nations he had visited.
Mr. Monday paid great attention to the pantomime of the Arab, in which
that worthy endeavoured to explain the disposition of Captain Truck to
make a barbecue of him: when it was ended, he gravely informed his
companions that the sheik had invited them to stay for dinner,--a
proposition that he was disposed to accept; but the sensitiveness of Mr.
Dodge viewed the matter otherwise, for, with a conformity of opinion that
really said something in favour of the science of signs, he arrived at the
same conclusion as the poor Arab himself--with the material difference,
that he fancied that the Arabs were disposed to make a meal of himself.
Mr. Monday, who was a hearty beef and brandy personage, scouted the idea,
and thought the matter settled, by pointing to two or three young camels
and asking the editor if he thought any man, Turk or Christian, would
think of eating one so lank, meagre, and uninviting, as himself, when they
had so much capital food of another sort at their elbow. "Take your share
of the liquor while it is passing, man, and set your heart at ease as to
the dinner, which I make no doubt will be substantial and decent. Had I
known of the favour intended us, I should have brought out the sheik a
service of knives and forks from Birmingham; for he really seems a
well-disposed and gentleman-like man. A very capital fellow, I dare say,
we shall find him, after he has had a few camel's steaks, and a proper
allowance of _schnaps_. Mr. Sheik, I drink your health with all my heart."
The accidents of life could scarcely have brought together, in
circumstances so peculiar, men whose characters were more completely the
converse of each other than Mr. Monday and Mr. Dodge. They were, perfect
epitomes of two large classes in their respective nations, and so
diametrically opposed to each other, that one could hardly recognise in
them scions from a common stock. The first was dull, obstinate,
straight-forward, hearty in his manners, and not without sincerity, though
wily in a bargain, with all his seeming frankness; the last, distrustful,
cunning rather than quick of comprehension, insincere, fawning when he
thought his interests concerned, and jealous and detracting at all other
times, with a coldness of exterior that had at least the merit of
appearing to avoid deception. Both were violently prejudiced, though in
Mr. Monday, it was the prejudice of old dogmas, in religion, politics, and
morals; and in the other, it was the vice of provincialism, and an
education that was not entirely free from the fanaticism of the
seventeenth century. One consequence of this discrepancy of character was
a perfectly opposite manner of viewing matters in this interview. While
Mr. Monday was disposed to take things amicably, Mr. Dodge was all
suspicion; and had they then returned to the wreck, the last would have
called to arms, while the first would have advised Captain Truck to go out
and visit the sheik, in the manner one would visit a respectable and
'Tis of more worth than kingdoms! far more precious
'Than all the crimson treasures of life's fountain!
Oh let it not elude thy grasp!
Things were in this state, the sheik and his guests communicating by
signs, in such a way as completely to mystify each other; Mr. Monday
drinking, Mr. Dodge conjecturing, and parties quitting the camp and
arriving every ten minutes, when an Arab pointed eagerly with his finger
in the direction of the wreck. The head of the foremast was slowly rising,
and the look-out in the top was clinging to the spar, which began to cant,
in order to keep himself from falling. The sheik affected to smile; but he
was evidently disturbed, and two or three messengers were sent out into
the camp. In the meanwhile, the spar began to lower, and was soon entirely
concealed beneath the bank.
It was now apparent that the Arabs thought the moment had arrived when it
was their policy to interfere. The sheik, therefore, left his guests to be
entertained by two or three others who had joined in the potations, and
making the best assurances he could by means of signs, of his continued
amity, he left the tent. Laying aside all his arms, attended by two or
three old men like himself, he went boldly to the plank, and descended
quietly to the sands, where he found Captain Truck busied in endeavouring
to get the spar into the water. The top was already afloat, and the stick
itself was cut round in the right position for rolling, when the foul but
grave-looking barbarians appeared among the workmen. As the latter had
been apprised of their approach, and of the fact of their being unarmed,
no one left his employment to receive them, with the exception of Captain
"Bear a hand with the spar, Mr. Leach," he said, "while I entertain these
gentlemen. It is a good sign that they come to us without arms, and it
shall never be said that we are behind them in civility. Half an hour will
settle our affairs, when these gentry are welcome to what will be left of
the Dane.--Your servant, gentlemen; I'm glad to see you, and beg the
honour to shake hands with all of you, from the oldest to the youngest."
Although the Arabs understood nothing that was said, they permitted
Captain Truck to give each of them a hearty shake of the hand, smiling and
muttering their own compliments with as much apparent good will as was
manifested by the old seaman himself.
"God help the Danes, if they have fallen into servitude among these
blackguards!" said the captain, aloud, while he was shaking the sheik a
second time most cordially by the hand, "for a fouler set of thieves I
never laid eyes on, Leach. Mr. Monday has tried the virtue of the
_schnaps_ on them, notwithstanding, for the odour of gin is mingled with
that of grease, about the old scoundrel.--Roll away at the spar, boys!
half-a-dozen more such heaves, and you will have him in his native
element, as the newspapers call it.--I'm glad to see you, gentlemen; we
are badly off as to chairs, on this beach, but to such as we have you are
heartily welcome.--Mr. Leach, the Arab sheik;--Arab sheik, Mr. Leach.--On
the bank there!"
"Any movement among the Arabs?"
"About thirty have just ridden back into the desert, mounted on camels,
sir; nothing more."
"No signs of our passengers?"
Ay, ay, sir. Here comes Mr. Dodge under full sail, heading for the bank,
as straight as he can lay his course!"
"Ha!--Is he pursued?"
The men ceased their work, and glanced aside at their arms.
"Not at all, sir. Mr. Monday is calling after him, and the Arabs seem to
be laughing. Mr. Monday is just splicing the main-brace with one of
"Let the Atlantic ocean, then, look out for itself, for Mr. Dodge will be
certain to run over it. Heave away, my hearties, and the stick will be
afloat yet before that gentleman is fairly docked."
The men worked with good will, but their zeal was far less efficient than
that of the editor of the Active Inquirer, who now broke through the
bushes, and plunged down the bank with a velocity which, if continued,
would have carried him to Dodgeopolis itself within the month. The Arabs
started at this sudden apparition, but perceiving that those around them
laughed, they were disposed to take the interruption in good part. The
look-out now announced the approach of Mr. Monday, followed by fifty
Arabs; the latter, however, being without arms, and the former without his
hat. The moment was critical, but the steadiness of Captain Truck did not
desert him. Issuing a rapid order to the second mate, with a small party
previously selected for that duty, to stand by the arms, he urged the rest
of the people to renewed exertions. Just as this was done, Mr. Monday
appeared on the bank, with a bottle in one hand and a glass in the other,
calling aloud to Mr. Dodge to return and drink with the Arabs.
"Do not disgrace Christianity in this unmannerly way," he said; "but show
these gentlemen of the desert that we know what propriety is. Captain
Truck, I beg of you to urge Mr. Dodge to return. I was about to sing the
Arabs 'God save the King,' and in a few more minutes we should have had
'Rule Britannia,' when we should have been the best friends and companions
in the world. Captain Truck, I've the honour to drink your health."
But Captain Truck viewed the matter differently. Both his ambassadors were
now safely back, for Mr. Monday came down upon the beach, followed, it is
true, by all the Arabs, and the mast was afloat, He thought it better,
therefore, that Mr. Dodge should remain, and that the two parties should
be as quietly, but as speedily as possible, separated. He ordered the
hauling line to be fastened to the mast, and as the stick was slowly going
out through the surf, he issued the order for the men to collect their
implements, take their arms, and to assemble in a body at the rocks, where
the jolly-boat still lay.
"Be quick, men, but be steady; for there are a hundred of these rascals on
the beach already, and all the last-comers are armed. We might pick up a
few more useful things from the wreck, but the wind is coming in from the
westward, and our principal concern now will be to save what we have got.
Lead Mr. Monday along with you, Leach, for he is so full of diplomacy and
_schnaps_ just now that he forgets his safety. As for Mr. Dodge, I see he
is stowed away in the boat already, as snug as the ground-tier in a ship
loaded with molasses. Count the men off, sir, and see that no one
By this time, the state of things on the beach had undergone material
changes. The wreck was full of Arabs, some of whom were armed and some
not; while mauls, crows hand-spikes, purchases, coils of rigging, and
marling-spikes were scattered about on the sands, just where they had been
dropped by the seamen. A party of fifty Arabs had collected around the
rocks, where, by this time, all the mariners were assembled, intermingling
with the latter, and apparently endeavouring to maintain the friendly
relations which had been established by Mr. Monday. As a portion of these
men were also armed, Captain Truck disliked their proceedings; but the
inferiority of his numbers, and the disadvantage under which he was
placed, compelled him to resort to management rather than force, in order
to extricate himself.
The Arabs now crowded around and intermingled with the seamen, thronged
the ship, and lined the bank, to the number of more than two hundred. It
became evident that their true force had been underrated, and that
additions were constantly making to it, from those who lay behind the
ridges of sand. All those who appeared last, had arms of one kind or
another, and several brought fire-arms, which they gave to the sheik, and
to those who had first descended to the beach. Still, every face seemed
amicable, and the men were scarcely permitted to execute their orders,
from the frequent interruptions to exchange tokens of friendship.
But Captain Truck fully believed that hostilities were intended, and
although he had suffered himself in some measure to be surprised, he set
about repairing his error with great judgment and admirable steadiness.
His first step was to extricate his own people from those who pressed upon
them, a thing that was effected by causing a few to take a position, that
might be defended, higher among the rocks, as they afforded a good deal of
cover, and which communicated directly with the place where they had
landed; and then ordering the remainder of the men to fall back singly. To